Saturday, 30 October 2010

Carbon Emissions Be Gone!

We recently spent a week in Toronto for a big-city-fix, our first vacation in 6 years! Isn't it interesting to notice how your sense of vacation changes depending on where you live?  "You can take the boy out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the boy", to coin a phrase.

Because we only had 1 week, driving down there wasn't an option; it would have meant 5 days on the road, leaving 1 measly day to enjoy our destination. So I booked a free flight (thank you Aeroplan!) but felt bad about the ecological footprint involved. Canadians spend too much time on planes, and no matter how you cut it: planes ain't good for our environment and are part of the growing greenhouse problem.

Granted, Canada is just too darn big to travel by other means and still get there within a reasonable amount of time. So what to do? The answer: purchase a carbon credit!

When processing our online bookings I was pleasantly surprised when a window popped up asking if I wanted to offset the carbon emissions for these flights by purchasing a corresponding carbon credit. Turns out that in our case of two return tickets Thunder Bay - Toronto, the carbon credit cost us less than $25.00 - a no-brainer, of course.

Carbon credits are getting increasingly popular with consumers and industries alike. The basic idea is that by supporting alternative energy programs, like investing in solar and wind generation, planting trees etc., we can offset the carbon emissions created through the burning of fossil fuels in transportation and industries.

Now mind you, even though I felt not as bad about the flights, it isn't the solution. It's tempting to think we can maintain a basically destructive lifestyle simply by buying more carbon credits. Sorry, it's not the fix we need, it's only a band-aid. Ultimately, we have to drastically change our lifestyle, a tall order to fulfill.

So until then, purchase those carbon credits whenever you can. It does help, and hey, you'll feel a lot better, too!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Plastered Again!

It's been a long time coming, but our straw bale guest house finally got its second plaster coat, just in time for winter! A dedicated crew under the guidance of master plasterer Dan worked for a full day getting the job done, inside and out.

A big shout-out to Mark who helped out with, well, just about everything, Kelsey who effortlessly out-plastered the guys, Jacomyn who tirelessly worked the noisy paddle mixer, and your humble narrator who was just happy to survive the day intact.

There aren't many straw bale homes around here (although the number is growing!), let alone straw bale guest houses. Once this one's finished it will be available year-round: nice and cool during the hot summer months, warm and cozy during our stone cold winters. It's got a great location overlooking the beaver pond (if you're quiet you can see the beavers at work) with lots of privacy, yet close enough to the main building should you need anything.

Now we can move on to finishing the place and make it into the coolest-ever guest house that we have in mind. All that's left now is to put in the ceiling and insulation, put in soffits and facias, finish the floor, build a small kitchen, two bunk beds and a table, put in a woodstove, install a basic solar electric and hot water system... Hmm, don't call us for any guest house bookings just yet, it may be another year or so.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Getting Ready For Winter

Happiness is... a full wood shed in October

Life's been too busy to write any weekly blog updates for the past few weeks, but we're back again! A brand spanking new woodshed has been built, about 6 cords of firewood (enough to heat the house for 1.5 cold winters) have been cut, split and stacked in it, the South porch has been tiled & provided with a handsome ceiling, and our "green" fall courses through Confederation College's Continued Education program have been another resounding success.

Heck, we even managed to squeeze in a full week of vacation! Yes: seven blissful days of "dolce far niente" for the first time in 6 years - and it sure felt good.

With our batteries recharged and enjoying a gorgeous indian summer we're ready -well, amost ready- for winter. There's one project to sink our teeth in: plastering our strawbale guest house tomorrow with its last plaster coat before the snow flies. Check next week's blog to read and see more about that! After that, we'll dig in for winter and semi-hibernate for the next 6 months.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and may all your turkeys be free range!