Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scooping Water into a Sinking Boat

"The idea you can solve a problem of too much debt and too much consumption with more consumption and more debt defies belief. I cannot believe that grown-ups would stand there and say that." Jim Rogers, as quoted in an article that was referenced on The Automatic Earth.

We, simply, can not continue to spend money in an effort to fix the problems we've created over the past century, especially given that pursuit of money is what got us to this point in the first place.

Giving water to a drowning man will not save him.

So, what do *I* suggest? I suggest that we stop focusing on money, and, instead, provide the tools that encourage self-reliance.

What do we need?

Shelter. Give us our homes - free and clear; no debt.

Food. Do away with ordinances and rules that restrict gardening and animal husbandry.

Give us the tools and resources (not money) to take care of ourselves, because here's another fact, a child will never learn to walk, if he is never put on the floor and forced to do it.


I've been working on ways to make my home more livable in a low-energy world.

As we all know I don't use my clothes-dryer. I'll never tire of seeing my laundry blowing in the wind against a backdrop of snow. It amuses me. Right now, though, the air is pretty moist, and the clothes don't dry well outside, especially if I don't get them off the line before dark, which is about 3:30 in the afternoon right now. When I went to take this load off the line, several of the clothes had frozen to the line, and the jeans were stiff, like cardboard. It was pretty funny. Of course, the fact that I might be easily amused can not be overlooked :).

We're not, really, considering moving (although if we find a house on a larger piece of land that has an in-law apartment and is in a price-range we believe we can afford, we'd have to consider it so that we could combine our two households - MamaDaughter's with ours - to save money for all of us), but sometimes life happens in ways that one doesn't expect. We're not considering moving, but we are doing lots of things in our lives that might force a move upon us.

As such, I'm (a little) hesitant to invest the time and money on some of the changes I'd like to make to our house. Like, I want to get rid of the oil burning furnace that's taking up a huge chunk of space in what could be an amazing pantry and/or cold closet (with a little bit of tweaking). Outside, where the oil tank takes up space could be a great outdoor kitchen area.

But there's always the concern that if I do this thing, my house will be unmarketable. The truth is that nothing is unmarketable, but the fact is that without a "primary heat source" (which wood is not, according to the FHA), our house would be ineligible for a government-based loan. I spoke with my mortgage lender friend yesterday, and he told me that, right now, 99% of new mortgages are government-backed.

It doesn't have to be an oil furnace for the house to qualify, but changing to anything else, right now, would cost money.

I asked him about digging a well, which is next on my low-energy survival list, and he said that would not change the value for appraisal purposes, either up or down. He said in that case, it would really depend on the buyer, and, otherwise, would make no difference.

The bottom line, he told me, is that it is *my* house, and while some thought as to the resaleability might be wise, if it's a change that would make me more comfortable and more happy in *my* house, I should not let extraneous concerns stop me from making the changes. With the exception of the furnace, nothing I mentioned to him would have a negative impact on the market value of my house.

Solar panels on the roof? Score!

Replace carpeting with hardwood or ceramic tile? Bonus!

Cold closet? No problem.

Root cellar? Great storage option.

Hand-pump operated dug well (in addition to the city water)? Quaint and useful.

In short, having a home that is self-reliant would be a huge asset to me in reducing my dependence on outside resources, and it wouldn't hurt if, for some reason, we end up needing to find a buyer.


  1. We have found a home in the FArmington area. It has a nice hearth for a wood stove. But its "primary" heating source is one of those electric baseboard deals put in as an afterthought to keep the plumbing warm when the residents are away.

  2. I think you're more likely to find an open minded buyer in ME than say other parts of the country if it ever came down to that. I hope it doesn't. I can't wait to PLANT myself someday. I'm sick of moving.

  3. We got up this morning to -35. Good thing our primary heat source(s) are wood burning and we've got plenty of that. Mind you, to insure the joint would cost over $2500 year!

    When you consider that the majority of advertising tells us we can save money by spending - out present state of mind(lessness) isn't surprising.

    I think there would be a market for a sustainable lifestyle house. However, like veggies grown honestly in soil, it would cost more and there's the rub. Our Walmart centric lives can't grok that conundrum.

    All that being said, as time and money permits, we are going to be self sustaining here. Each year gets us closer to that goal.

    It looks like your on the same path and I am heartened with how well you do with what you have. More than anything this world needs inspiration. Living my example is the best form of inspiration I can think of.

    The pay-off is long term. The pain is short term.

  4. Yow! I should proof read before posting. "living my example" should be "living by example.

  5. Total on Free Rice, from this week and last, about 5000. For reasons I have no clue about, my computer deleted my total.