Progress is sometimes just treading water, sometimes big leaps, sometimes footwork with no idea where it’s going to lead. We’ve listed the current house, had viewings–the house is clean, clean, clean–and now an offer, meaning inspection, appraisal, and escrow. It’s a draw as to what’s more scary–paperwork or facing moving. The tendency is to want to either put a torch to everything or jump back and stop everything. But the wheels are moving. Odd that the idea of change is often more attractive than going through the change. However, the lure of the other side is stronger–and it is nice to keep life interesting.
So as to where we’re moving…
We meet with the fire chief next week–that’s first hurdle to clear. If we can get his blessing to build a house that’s not going to burn in a high fire hazard zone, we’re ready to go to the next stage (which is not living on the land yet). And we need a roof for us and the two dogs–they do add a complexity to events, but they’re not dropping out of the equation. The question now is rent or try to buy another really small place to live as temp quarters. It’s a good question and we have no answers–we may be living in an RV soon with stuff in storage, but there must be small houses to rent. This is the sort of thing you can’t really plan well, not unless you have pots of money to live in one place while building the other–and the house we’re selling is funding the new place, so it’s that spot on the swinging ropes where you’re hanging between letting go of one and grabbing the next. Ah, yes, adventure is fun–and damned uncomfortable at the time (but will make for great stories later).
Anyway, fire chief next week–we need to convince him we’re not creating a situation like last year’s very bad fires in LA where folks build out in remote areas and they really should have known a burn was going to come through. Sooner or later, all the hills in CA burn–folks really ought to just face the fact, get used to it, and stop building with materials that catch fire. No exposed wood, non-flamable materials (steel roofs and flame-retardant paint and concrete work really well). And, for pete’s sake, stop landscaping with more stuff that burns. Put in a water tank (a big one), and adobe’s not a bad idea either–there is a reason they used to use this, but do not go for the rustic wood again (you can paint metal to look like wood–better security, and pesky fires are not going to take hold on that).
A few years back–in the 1993 Laguna Fire–one house came through just fine.
A guy who’d moved here from Vietnam by way of Germany, and a smart structural engineer, built to last: concrete, stone, brick and steel. Smart man. You’d think us natives would know as much. His home came through the fire just fine, and there’s a book that gets into this and more–When Technology Fails: A manual for Self-Reliance and Sustainability and Surviving the Long Emergency. I’m not sure I buy there will be a long emergency–life does seem more like a series of short and personal ones, rather than that big dramatic event that makes up all the best disaster movies. But the idea of building a house so that it doesn’t need fire fighters to come along and save it–that’s a good idea for building. In fact, not a bad idea to think about life in the general terms of self-reliant and sustainable. That can take you to more than trying to survive the regular rat race.