Living Off Grid

A fierce, and unusual storm blew through the mountain town where I do business.
I moved from there out to the country, 45 miles away, a couple years ago when I was evicted from the last affordable apartment. Actually, I refuse to afford what is in the offing anymore, especially when the land and cabin I own are bought and paid for thanks to money my mother left me.
I keep in touch with friends and local happenings through social media sites such as facebook.
After the storm, with its hurricane force winds of 74 mph many large trees were left toppled and so were power lines. Much of the grid went down in a town of 70,000+. This, of course was the main clamor of the morning’s posts.
It took three days for clean up crews to restore everyone’s power, and of course by then most everyone had grown weary of lighting candles rather than walking into a room and flicking a switch for light. We Americans are ever so spoiled.
A major power sub-station was hit by lightning in the country a few nights later, and everyone’s power was out here too.
Having lived this way a couple years, off grid just part of my routine, I realize how unaffected I am by power outages. “Is your power out across the valley?” One friends texts. “No, my power doesn’t go out but with the sunset and only then after having drained my two deep cell storage batteries. I’m so conservative anymore, that’s never happened .”
Outages of all kinds may be a wave of the future in an overpopulated world with already taxed grid, water, and ecosystems.
I never pictured myself living this off grid life. It was a matter of necessity, but it’s become mighty convenient and sustainable. It goads me to be responsible and resourceful.
A series of blog posts will show you how I do it, and how you can too.

Electrify Me
This is my power box. I have a very basic and simple system, but then I’m living in a one room shack that measures 77 square feet. This system can be adapted to any size house by adding more solar panels and more batteries to your block of storage.

The silver box on bottom brings (dc/direct current) power direct from the solar panel. It is wired to the two batteries outside which allow some residual storage of sun power. You see, I can charge my electronic devices: tablet, phone, etc. with a cigarette lighter plug in.

The box on top is also wired to the storage batteries. This is a transformer which takes the solar energy stored in the batteries and switches the current from dc/direct current to ac/alternating current) and allows me to plug in a number of things: computer, Ipod stereo, small battery chargers for power tools, and motorcycle. I have limited power use of a printer and even a sewing machine. The dust buster blows the fuse.


This is the battery block. Sun power can be stored in here so the cabin can be electrified past sunset. I keep them off the ground so they don’t drain. And in winter when it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. and I need just that many more hours of light to read and write by, I attach the tractor battery which feeds it a charge as well.


This is the small set of three solar panels. They can be found for sale on line but these were purchased at Harbor Freight along with the two power boxes. With a coupon it’s a pretty good deal. I’ve begun installing a kit on each of my out buildings. This simple system makes a great backup for your grid systems in emergency situations. And I gotta thank this guy for his assistance with my installation. 


I don’t even notice when the power goes out. My lights don’t go off, I don’t lose copius amounts of food in the thawing freezer, I can still cook dinner, listen to my radio, grind coffee beans, get hot water, and the only light for the toilet comes from the moon and the stars anyway.
Next week: Making a Good Cup of Off Grid Coffee

Lavender Wand Workshop Attendees!

Thank you so much for coming to the workshop hosted by Bozeman’s Alliance Francais’ fearless and intrepid leader; Brigitte Morris! These instructions pick up where the wand (Fuseau)  handout leaves off.

As you recall, we began weaving around and around the caged flower heads. Over one, under one…

When you approach the mid way point, stop weaving, bring the short ribbon out opposite where you stopped with the long ribbon.

Where those two ribbons emerge, choose either two stems there near each ribbon and twist them or three and braid them. Use the end of the short ribbon to hold one side, knotting it around the twisted/braided stems until you can join the other side to it mid way. 

Keep twisting/braiding until you gauge a well shaped bow for the basket handle has been reached. Take a moment and score (pinch) the handle stems so they bend out from the flower heads. And once they are all twisted/braided and temporarily tied at the top, gently form them into the handle by squeezing and bending them between thumb and finger. Use the end of the short ribbon to temporarily join them (intertwine the loose ends) at the top of the handle. Don’t tie it so tight you can’t undo it in a minute…

Now, cut the remaining stems 1/4″ above the last round of ribbon. If you cut them on an angle it makes a nice contrast cut. Be very careful not to cut the stems off that are to be your handle. And don’t cut them too close to the last round of weaving, they may slip out once it all dries.

All that is left to do is loop the long ribbon up one side, untie the short ribbon that temporarily holds the handle together,  join the intertwined stems at the top with a couple extra loops of the long ribbon, and continue looping down to meet the short ribbon. Tie both in a square knot, then a bow, and voila!

Remember, be creative, experiment. You can finish it off any way you see fit. Some in class finished by making a bow in the basket’s center between the two handle sets and it was darling! I have also brought the ribbon up from each side and made a bow in the center of the handle. I have also tied half hitches every half inch or so, leaving the twist/braid of stems visible.wpid-img_20120713_075334.jpg

Send me your pictures, I will credit you and your creativity here.

Please let me know if these instructions can be made any clearer.

I appreciate your support!