Sahalee is heavenly, and the big deck is our perch over the world. For the past year, we’ve been without a formal staircase and gained access by the lowest point on the uphill corner.
For those of you who have been following us since Florida, you’ve been invited to see our transformation from the conventional corporate climb to our guided-by-the-stars #yurtlife in New Mexico. We’ve tried to be open and honest about the challenges we face in making the transition we instigated, and part of that honest story reveals how we actively redefined our values and expectations from what we thought we ‘should’ be doing to what we really wanted to be doing in this world (like updating our solar power plant).
Since making the move, we’ve found ourselves on an exciting journey of small business ownership and self-employment as part of managing our off-grid finances. Along our way, we’ve had the good fortune to become acquainted with the dear Dina Louie who generously and kindly invited us to share more with her ‘Real HUMAN Resources’ initiative, Yeah, It Sucks, on the topic of making active life choices. Read the Q&A…
As John Conlee reveals, rose-colored glasses show only the beauty…
My rose-colored glasses save me day after day, backed by psychological research reinforcing the therapeutic effects of viewing life through lenses tinted with Baker-Miller pink.
Beyond vivid UV lenses, the other requirement I have for my sunglasses is that they have to be constructed of a no-frills lightweight solid frame with an inset or molded nosepad. This design has fewer entrapment points to catch and pull my hair, and make the gear easy to wear and store while living an active lifestyle.
BONUS: Made in the USA!!
After going through one incredibly stellar designer pair made in China that caught me in a retail therapy splurge when I had a lot of money to spend, then a well-functioning no-name sport design from China for $40 on special at a race expo, and finally desperately seeking a made in the USA option that was less expensive than these “unstoppable” Oakley’s, I was incredibly pleased to stumble upon the Suncloud Duet Rose Stripe sunglasses for UNDER $30!They are super lightweight with stable hinges and a comfortable fit around the ear. The lenses are happily clear and polarized, helping to better define the horizon and distant figures in an expansive landscape. The pink lens is bright but not too disruptive. A subtle wood-grain design akin to tiger stripe adds a little flair to the translucent rosy frame. Along with the glasses came a satiny storage pouch in the same color with a smooth black flat ribbon cinch, all delivered inside the minimal clear plastic zipper bag packaging.
I’ve been lucky enough to take them out in a variety of conditions in places near and far, and I am completely smitten with my new specs. When I wear them, I feel like I know a secret about life that only those in the rose-colored club can truly understand. I still might follow my urge to buy just one more pair as a back-up before I can’t find them anymore!!Adding just a little bit of color to life…
The pile is dwindling. It’s probably only a third of the size it used to be. Every load taken away to burn begs the question, ‘will we have enough to make it through?’
I figured I touch each piece at least four times on its journey from its natural state to its final incantation. The tree it belonged to is a character. I want to properly recognize it for what it was, and what it is providing.
Warmth. Security. Connection.
I study the details of grain and bark. The different textures of solid and brittle, dark and light, grooved and smooth, old and older make each section a treasure not like the one before.
The weights, shapes, and features are varied. This directly affects the way the flames behave when they’re set ablaze. Each one hand-selected for a specific purpose stove side.
We aim to start cutting and hauling on July 4th when the breeze is warm and ground is soft. The dust flying from the saw fills our nostrils and lands on our lips. The sounds of cracking wood remind me of impermanence.
I cradle the forest’s gifts for the value they hold and imagine how they started as a mere fleck of green all that time ago. What has passed beside, below, and overhead I will never know.
The work is quiet on the inside. Gathering and couriering across the rising and falling topography. There is assurance in the collection that results. A wide open space marked with chips is where the memories pass through and fade away.
Some split easily, and others twist and shred around hidden knots. You think you know what’s inside until the wood shows you something different. I save the ones that are too rare for civilian duty to remind us of what we can’t make ourselves.
Each season I think I’ll remember where the severed pieces came from when I put them in the hot iron hole. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Some embers glow brighter and fly farther than others. They all turn dark and gather in the low spots.
It is a cycle of cycles. Repeating but different. We change and age like the pine, oak, and juniper. Some will notice but we will all forget. The smoke lifts what was once underground and then itself fades to leave us all wishing for a flight as light and with a cause so noble.
Will we have enough to make it through?
Thirty-one days into the new year and most resolutions have already flown out the window. I’m not really one to make resolutions, but I am one to hold myself to high expectations of achieving. Something. My quandary over the word ‘resolute’ in light of time’s passing, i.e. the new year, has me further reflecting on my decision to achieve in this relatively new off-grid lifestyle. Or more to the point, succeeding at life in general.
According to my dictionary.com app, words like ‘bold,’ ‘courageous,’ and ‘firm’ are acceptably interchangeable for resolute, and actually lead me to further puzzle over my standing in relation the goals I set for myself and the actions I take thereafter. These days, to be honest, I’m not apt to describe myself with any of the aforementioned synonyms. I’ll explain…
Happy New Year everyone!!
We hope that 2017 was a great year for you and we hope that 2018 is even better.
Unfortunately, we have had some shifting priorities and this blog fell to the bottom of a long list for the past few months. For that I apologize and am committed to doing better in this new year. If you are not following our blog, give us a follow. We don’t (and will never) spam and we try to provide useful information with regards to things we are doing, some of them work and some of them are truly disastrous, but we have been and will continue to be as completely open and honest as possible. In full disclosure, we have built relationships with some of the companies that sell the products we use and are Amazon affiliates–so the more links you click and the more things you buy from this blog the more money we will make and the more time we will have for spending time with this. All this being said, we are not in it to make money–we are in it to share our experiences and let you know what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work for us. We will NEVER recommend something we do not have first hand experience with!
Today I want to talk about what we use for water filtration—It’s important to note that all of our water comes from “trusted sources,” our current sources are a city spigot and water catchment. We aren’t using standing or stagnant water, we also aren’t taking any water out of streams so we don’t have to deal with the potential contaminated water issues that come with those.
We researched many ways, some cheap and some expensive, some intricate and some simple. I’m a big fan of the KISS method, so I went with the cheap(er) and simpler way. For us, that was using Ceramic Dome filters and two (food grade) five gallon buckets. We started with a kit similar to this that included a Dome filter and a spigot. We used these food grade buckets, now I don’t know what the difference is between food grade and non-food grade but, in my mind, some things just aren’t worth questioning and this was one.
We started with two ceramic filters, I have a link above for the kit that included the spigot and here is one that goes to the individual ceramic filters.
Lesson learned with regards to Ceramic Water Filters: Make sure to get the ones that have a “pre-filter” or “sock” to cover them–we made the mistake of buying one without the pre-filter and immediately regretted it. The pre-filter really helps to keep the actual filter clean and helps to lengthen the time in between cleaning the filters. A quick fix for us when we realized that we really needed that sock was just to use some ground or garden cloth to fashion a sock that fit over it and used rubber bands to hold it on.
We bought two food grade buckets, with lids. The first step was to install the filters in the bucket.
The Ceramic Filters have a shaft that extends down an inch or two with a nut and washer that you can use to secure it—all we had to do was drill a hole the size of the shaft, we did start with a pilot hole. The hole went through the bottom of what would be the top bucket and through the lid of what would be the bottom bucket. So now the two filters are locking the top bucket and the lid for the bottom bucket together.
Alternative configurations: We decided to just use two ceramic dome filters, however with the buckets that we used we could have used anywhere from 1-4 filters. The more filters you use the faster your water will filter and the more water you can filter before having to replace your filters. When it is time to replace the filters we have we will go to the four filter configuration.
Once that was done, it was as easy as drilling a hole in the lower section of what would be the bottom bucket and fitting the spigot in.
Spigot tip: We recommend installing the spigot a couple inches (give or take) from the bottom of the bottom bucket. This will give any debris or sediment that may get in the water a chance to settle to the bottom.
We clean the whole system–just washing the buckets and using a green scrubby on the filters ever month or so—it is readily apparent to us when they need to be cleaned–depending on the amount of water you are filtering and the cleanliness of water you are filtering you may need to clean it more or less. The filtration rate certainly slows down when the filters get dirty which is an indicator that you need to clean your filters.
In short, this system works great for us. There are two “what I could’ve done better” lessons for me on this one. 1. I should have just invested in the extra filters and set it up as a 4 filter system. 2. I should have bought a filter that came with a sock or pre-filter for our second ceramic filter. As soon as it is time to change the two filters out I will be rectifying both of those deficiencies.
Take a look at the slide show we made, let us know your thoughts in the comments–if you have any questions or tips or better ideas, please let us know. We are always looking for ways to help but are also always looking for better ways.
Carey and I had to take a trip to town for some groceries, the laundry and to take the dog to the vet (don’t worry, she is fine!). We decided to stay the night and since we did we figured it would be great to go get some dinner. We have stopped at Turtle Mountain Brewery in Rio Rancho a few times, they have a great patio for Radar, great beer and we always get in great conversations with the patio people. Check them out on FB here and while your there make sure you check out Sahaleeoffgrid on FB also!!
Our little solar power system here had another makeover this weekend, and has been much improved from where we started last summer.
See more of featured image artist Sonia Orbin-Price at FineArtAmerica.com.
No, I am not talking about the Lady Gaga variety, albeit with MAD respect. We have inadvertently coached a hoard of hummingbirds to swarm the grounds with hangry Jetson car-like chirping in demand of more sugar water. They have been so keen on the new eatery that one brazen bird actually entered the open doors of the yurt to coax me into serving more!!
The little buggers are becoming more intrepid as they get to know us better, often hovering at eye level and sharing little chirps. One silly bird even flew into the outhouse and couldn’t find its way out, so I had to sneak in and put a soft hand around it to send it back outside. I feel like I am back teaching Pre-K with all the needy little critters!
According to HummingBirdWorld.com, the Aztecs came to believe that every warrior slain in battle rose to the sky and orbited the sun for four years. Then they became hummingbirds. Some of them seem oh-so familiar.
It’s been fun watching the R2D2-sounding antics around the handful of new feeders, and we look forward to plenty of cheap entertainment on the yurtdeck for years to come.
Here are seven of the “25 fun facts about hummingbirds” from The Spruce:
Hummingbirds are native species of the New World and are not found outside of the Western Hemisphere except in a few zoos or aviaries. There are no hummingbirds found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia or Antarctica.
Many hummingbird species, including Anna’s, black-chinned, Allen’s, Costa’s, rufous, calliope and broad-tailed hummingbirds, can breed together to create hybrid species. This is one factor that makes identifying hummingbirds very challenging.
Despite their small size, hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive bird species. They will regularly attack jays, crows and hawks that infringe on their territory. Backyard birders often have one dominant hummingbird that guards all the feeders, chasing intruders away.
The rufous hummingbird has the longest migration of any hummingbird species. These hummers fly more than 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada to their winter habitat in Mexico.
A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour. In addition to nectar, these birds also eat many small insects and spiders, and may also sip tree sap or juice from broken fruits.
A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour. These birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive, and hummingbirds have many adaptations for unique flight.
A hummingbird’s brilliant throat color is not caused by feather pigmentation, but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers. Light level, moisture, angle of viewing, wear and tear and other factors all influence just how bright and colorful the throat may appear.
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We’ve had a couple of weeks to settle in now to the new routine upon the big deck. It’s been longtime in coming since we endured a mud-laden summer, fall, winter, and spring in our old roughed-out location buoyed on cinder blocks down the hill. (Quite literally, we have had to shake off our sea legs from walking upon our very poorly platform for the past 12 months.)