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Home & Heart

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Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze

I talk a lot about the Home part of the RE lifestyle but there is another facet that is equally important, the Heart part. Besides taking care of and maintaining your power system you also have to work at maintaining your partnership with each other.

The Dream

The RE lifestyle dream includes having an energy-efficient, earth-friendly house, usually very rural. This is where you and your lifemate will live in blissful solitude, spending your days producing your own power and growing your own food. No neighbors or noise nearby to disturb or distract you. You both know it will take extra effort on your part but the satisfaction will be worth it.

The Reality

More often than not the reality means you have to make a living from your remote location. The very fact that you are remote means your social life takes a distinct downward spiral. There are chores that must be done, contingencies to be dealt with, and the odd emergency to make it through. I am reminded of the Buddhist saying, "Before enlightenment, haul water, chop wood. After enlightenment, haul water, chop wood."

Livelihood

Will you have to continue to make a living from your remote home? Can you work at home or will you have to commute? These are huge issues, really. Time, money, and a dependable vehicle are all in the equation. People who can work at home, at least part of the time, will not have to delete time spent commuting from their lives. There is also substantial savings on gas.

Some friends of ours bought remote, undeveloped property. They spent years building their dream home. They became parents, their jobs changed, and the children came of a social (after school activities) age. The priority of not driving for an hour to an hour and a half to get to and from home every day became very important. They bought a place 5 minutes out of town. They save $300 in gas every month. The vehicles get a lot less and more benign wear. They're happy, the kids are happy.

Convenience

When Allen was still in school Bob-O would drive him the two miles to the pavement to catch the bus at 6:40 am. We got him a Honda mini-trail bike and in good weather he could drive himself. Then the school thought it was too far to come to our road so they changed the bus stop to 7 miles away. The pick up time was still 6:40 am. Bob-O had a deal with a parent down the road. He would take the boys in the morning and the neighbor would pick them up at 4:00 pm when the bus returned. When Allen turned sixteen, he got his license and an old Toyota pickup.Then he was able to drive himself to and from the bus stop. This whole scenario went on from 5th grade to 12th and was more complicated and frustrating than I can tell you.

My point here is that children are a factor. You must consider their needs along with your own. Some people home school their kids, but there is a certain age when a child wants to congregate with his own generation.

Lifemates

Any problems you have with your mate will be magnified in the remote RE setting. You spend a lot of time together. You won't be zipping over to the junior college for an interesting night class or two. You have to make an effort to have a social life. Whatever interests you have must be sustainable without a lot of outside input.

I grew up in the Napa Valley, just an hour away from San Francisco. I know the museums, parks, zoos and auditoriums. I've seen King Tut's tomb and Nureyev dance. Every national exhibit or band tour would come to the Bay Area sometime.

The national tours don't stop here. Bands don't see Medford, Oregon, the largest town close to us, as a real money making spot. Maybe, by driving seven hours in one direction or ten in the other we could see the new Smithsonian Museum tour. Again: time, money, and a vehicle come into play.

Some couples can't take the constant closeness of the remote RE lifestyle. Some take to it just fine. We know several people who are living alone in their remote RE setting because one mate decided it wasn't for them anymore and the other decided it still was.

This leads into how to find a like-minded mate when you don't live in a well populated area. I know a couple who met through the Sierra Club singles club. Bob-O and I met through the mail. A mutual friend gave him my address and suggested he write to me. After a veritable flurry of letters I went to his extremely remote location to meet him for a week. One month later we drove to Napa in his truck to get the rest of my stuff, and a year later we were married. That was twelve years ago.

There is no easy answer to the question of how to find a like-minded mate no matter where you are. I am partial to the old-fashioned introduction system. This is where someone you know knows someone you might like, and introduces you. That way you have some assurance they're not a weirdo. Case in point, my sister-in-law was my best friend before (and after) she became my sister-in-law. Plus the fact that it worked for Bob-O and me.

Remote Emergencies

This can be a really tough one. Medical help can be a long distance and time away. When the tree fell on BobO and broke his leg he called on our Ham radio (which his falling partner had brought him from the truck) and started his own rescue operation within minutes of the accident. Even with a helicopter transport it was five and a half hours before a doctor saw him. I saw him another four hours after that as I had to drive to the hospital where he was flown. It was a long, lonely drive.

At the time Bob-O and I were in EMT training classes. We were organizing a local volunteer rescue squad because our very dear friend, Phil, had died after a long time on a mountain side waiting for medical help. I heartily recommend emergency response training and a good well-stocked medical kit if you are remote. Ask your doctor for a bee sting kit, just to have on hand.

A lot of hospitals now have a Mercy Flight program you can sign up for that covers you if they have to send a helicopter for you. My parents have retired to some rural mountain property.They joined the Mercy Air program at the closest hospital and they know where the closest designated helipad is to their house.

Most rescue helicopters do not fly at night. I know the Coast Guard does because they tried to save Phil. None of the others in our area have licenses for night flight. Find out about your area.

Conclusion

Don't think for a minute I don't love or appreciate my remote lifestyle and partner, I do. It is very different from my former life though. There are opportunities that I miss. My comrade, Myna, and I have decided to make a real effort at getting out and doing social things more often. Here at the house I always have several projects in progress that work to relax me. I guess, to make it work you have to make it play.

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Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze needs to try her hand at wind sculpture design at her home in Northernmost California, c/o Home Power Magazine, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 916-475-0830 E-mail: [email protected] or: [email protected] ^

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