Wednesday, July 16, 2008

solar shower... the final frontier

so here it is, minus a few small things that need minor tweaking. the hubby broke her in last night, but sorry guys, those pics are for me only! haha...

i think this(picture directly above) is my favorite part. i had some scraps left over from boarding up the sides (yes, folks, i did that. i dragged scummy old boards out from under one of our outbuildings, cut them and screwed them on)and i made this shampoo/soap shelf. the holes drilled thru the sides will have hemp strung through them to create kind of a net so the items don't fall out. it's the little things that make a girl happy, ya know? i'm also thinking of putting the curtain on the inside, but it was blowing so much yesterday that logically it seemed better to have it outside. this is where hubby steps in and asks me why don't i just weight the bottom? oh, yeah.

whaddya think? i'm really interested in getting some feedback or comments on this project and here what other families are doing to be a bit more green... i'd love to share it with my family.

Monday, July 14, 2008

building an outdoor shower (semi tutorial) part deux

this is what the sky looked like yesterday in the morning. apollo was not being a cooperative fellow ,to say the least. but by 10 it was sunny and the wind was blowing a gentle 25 miles per hour (or so it felt). regardless, we started our project. i'm an "instant gratification" kind of gal, and i'd been waiting weeks to cash in on some of the hubby's time. i finally had him, and he wasn't gonna slither away...

we also recruited some strong young fellas to do the grunt work (seen here spreading out the drainage rock over the weed barrier) unfortunately our older daughter got herself a case of the stomach ickies so she couldn't help, but she was bummed, being a real die-hard junior environmentalist-

these fir beams were salvaged from a house my husband's crew rebuilt (note to ladies: if you are a diy kind of gal, you can't do better than to snag yourself a carpenter/woodworker in the way of freebie slave labor and materials. just a thought...) and we cut them to size (about 71/2 ft) and leveled them, and braced them, and did it again when they blew down (almost severing said carpenter's foot)

we then notched the tops of the posts in order to fit the top frame into place (yes, that is my youngest son, he's been chopping dovetails that would make bob vila jealous since he was about 3)

we re-set the posts and fit the top frame and cross-braces (notice: you must be wearing just a carpenter's vest contraption, have tattoos, and flexy muscles to perform this task)

then 2 more beams to span the top and set the watering can between (screws in the handle

barrel went up and was strapped w/ ties (winds were gale-force by this time)

and the "plumbing" was installed ( black short length of hose from barrel spigot , on/off tap between, and then into watering can)
the effect is sooooo cool! it's still not quite done- needs siding (insert neighbor's sigh of relief here), a pallet/ platform floor, and of course, a linen curtain (which you can find in my shop, too, excuse the shameless plug!) i'm sure finished product pics are to come...

the day looks like this today(look familiar?)

so action shower-shots are not in the forecast... but rain is!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


we try around here to be as green as possible. we have our shopping totes (how many times do we get to the store and i say, "oh my gosh guys, i left them home again") and our recycling bins ("WHY IS IT SOOOO HARD FOR YOU ALL TO WALK OUT TO THE PORCH WITH THIS CARTON? 10 EXTRA STEPS COULD HELP US SAVE THE PLANET, BUT NOOOOO...) we try to shut off lights and appliances religiously (i call my husband the lightswitch nazi) and i always hang our laundry out when the weather is nice. for a big ole family, i think we are leaving a relatively small footprint. except when it comes to showers. no matter how ya slice it, summer is sweaty, the pool is chloriney, there is dirt to be played in, ponds and oceans to be swum in, and that makes for A LOT of dirty people. my whole being also shudders to think that someone may get into those crispy-clean sheets with icky body and feet syndrome (yep, that pesky ocd thing just won't leave me alone). soooooo... we're goin' solar, baby! i've been begging for an out door shower forever and i found this great article while searching the net and thought it would so work for our family. we have an adorable little cottage (one room and a loft, potty in the great outdoors) and i think that having a shower out there alongside it will be great for guests, of which we have many. i can't wait and i'm gonna post about the progress... so stay tuned, crunchy people!

phase 1- getting our shit together...

awesome rain-catcher barrel found at local hardware store (plans called for 2 aluminum trash cans, but this is already plumbed w/ a spigot and is a nice thick, insulated plastic)

most excellent hillbilly-chic copper watering can to be used as shower head

digging and sod-transport devices (also known as shovel and baby's wagon as wheelbarrow is infirm)

top layer of sod removed and prepped for gravel and landscape barrier for base of shower

misc. plumbing supplies (okay, i have no frickin' idea how this will be assembled but having utmost trust in hubby's mechanical abilities, it'll work)
teaser- next post: sweaty shirtless men assembling shower under my watchful eye... it's gonna be good, ladies.

Friday, July 11, 2008

tough life

last night after a marathon baseball game at mima and papa's (okay, the last half consisted of dragging one another through the grass by the wiffle bat) i had some itchy, sweaty, grubby kiddos to contend with. and a cranky baby. well, that cranky baby went right to bed as soon as we got home (praise be) and it was time to de-funk my big kids. what better way than a dip in the pool? by the light of a lovely rising moon, no less...

as a kid i always remember my aunt as being one of the very important people in my life. some saturdays, we'd just get in the car and "go". whether our path led us to a nature reserve, yard sale-ing for treasure, or the glass museum, it was always 10 times more fun than just saying, "okay kids, let's go to the glass museum!".

and so they swam. while my happy little jack russell "nell" loudly and contentedly attacked her ball (which is her match in both size and weight, but she won't chase anything but soccer balls) and the mosquitoes buzzed and that lovely moon continued to rise to the tune of summer and children and LAUGHTER in our home again. last night i understood a bit better the concept of "letting go". my ocd tells me to "SHOWER THOSE KIDS AND GET THEM STRAIGHT TO BED. THEY'RE RUNNING THEMSELVES RAGGED!SOMEBODY'S GONNA GET SICK!" but my heart is beginning to tell me things like," be spontaneous, liza. they'll remember this beautiful night and tell their children when they have them. maybe they will even be inspired to let their own children do things out of the box... just because. listen to the laughter!"

and laugh they did. by the light of the big, maine moon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

know thyself

taylor has just turned 10. he is a small 10, with many vague physical and emotional issues. since removing dairy from his diet (after numerous assurances from doctors and allergists that he WAS NOT ALLERGIC TO DAIRY) he has made a huge turnaround physically and emotionally. taylor is sometimes(okay, lots of times) a very trying child, but his uniqueness is magnetic. he is remarkably bright and naiive, blissfully naiive, i think. kids can be so cruel, but he never censors himself or changes the fabric of who he is in order to fit in. despite many cautionary (okay, blatantly, infuriatingly derrogatory and negative) warnings from teachers and school specialists, he will be attending montessori school next year. i think that it will be a great fit for him. i just have to keep saying to myself that i know my kid, i've been right many times before about things medical professionals have sniffed at. i've even saved his life once. that has to count for something! anyway, i have to believe taylor is the kind of kid you never know about. he's full of surprises and wisdom above his years, despite his tiny frame and sometimes infantile behavior. people keep warning me not to "set him up for failure", but i think something is only a failure if we are told it is a failure, right? i'm thinking montessori school is gonna be great, but if it's not the right fit, i'm being told by his "team" that i'm just setting him up for a failure. i say failure is relative. if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. that's life, another lesson learned. we don't tell him it's a "failure", we tell him it's an "experience". they say in al-anon that people are either your light (showing you new ways to live, learn, cope) or your mirror (a reflection of your true self, like it or not). taylor has been heartbreakingly both for me.

a conversation with taylor yesterday:
t (to younger brother connor): you are such a NERD!
me: taylor, that is not very nice.

t: what? he IS.

me: why say that? do you know what a "nerd" is?

t: someone wicked annoying.
me: no, bud. people say a "nerd" is someone who spends the day with their head in a book, or loves science and experiments, maybe someone who knows lots of science or other-related facts(in robotic voice) like; "the diameter of the great pyramids was...."
t:oh, oops. sorry connor.
connor (coming up from under water in pool, completely unphased by "nerd"-calling): huh?

t: i said sorry i called you a nerd.

connor:oh. okay.

t: mom?

me: yes, taylor?

t: i'm a NERD!
me: me too, too.

t: connor is still wicked annoyoing, though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

a break...

more like a sabatical, but it was much-needed and very fruitful! i have always been a writer and used that talent to manage stress in my life and as a therapy of sorts, but this chapter in my life has been so different from anything i've known before. none of the "old rules" have applied. i truloy feel as if i walked through a very thick fog, stumbling, some days tripping and hurting, cursing (for sure) and having to use all my senses and inner something to finally come out on the other side. and the other side, my friends, has proved to be very sunny indeed. clouds still pass, surely, but the sun shines brightly here these days. my husband and i have begun to reconcile in new and beautiful ways, growing as people and a couple in ways i never knew were possible. the pain and process were a small sacrifice for this new and promising future.

i have learned so very much in this growing and changing period. i am soooo thankful for all the kindness of others and the wisdom my dear friends have shared. i am grateful for my children, who have certainly not been left unscathed and have trooped along the path to HERE. i am so grateful for love and family and creativity that comes with angst and uncertainty(is'nt it always the way? the shittier i feel, the more i get done). i am thankful for inner strength and letting go... it is so hard. who's to say tomorrow will be great? nobody can for sure. i do know now, though, that love truly may conquer all.