maandag 1 maart 2010

Hohmes - a qualitative way of living

Whenever I think of delicious apple juice I taste fresh apple juice, just squeezed out from crunchy apples. Sweet, refreshing, nutritious. It tastes and looks different than the ready made apple juice; the one that looks like tea or whiskey.
Whenever thinking of delicious vegetables I see knotty shaped, wild growing, ferm veggies that come in a variety of forms and sizes all having their individuality. They taste and look different than their pre-slized, blown-up and perfectly similarly shaped sisters, cleaned, and conservated in nitrogen in some cellophane bag.
Thinking of pristine pure water, in mind I hear a montains' creek or imagine cristaline spring or well water, maybe a flower refreshed by morning dew or soft rain. Bathing in rain or dew seems heavenly to me.
If I may have to choose between getting warmed by the sun or a fire versus by a hot air ventilation or a in-house radiator I irresistably choose for the two first.
I no longer need to explain if I would choose fresh air from a breeze over a blowing van in a sealed room, daylight over bulb light.

So, why not integrate those preferences in my house, in my life? Why not pursuit these simple yet heavenly pleasures? Why not take full advantage of sun, rain, wind, warmth, light? All clean, natural, widely available and usable on the spot, of excellent quality, not polluting, contributing to personal health and pleasure?

I fancy the direct experience of the pureness and quality of the fruit of nature and the sense of freedom as well as the satisfaction of being pampered. Both literally as well as in a metaphorical sense. And, altough I've lived in Amsterdam over 20 years, I guess I like the idea to live in or with nature, being part of it, enjoying it's quality and feeling related to it. In exchange I'm happy to make an effort, as it takes some efforts:

Compared to passive consuming, I will have to be active myself and take responsability. Squeeze out an apple and rinse the fruit press. Open a window. Harvest sun and rain. Have the water cleaned. Check filters. All these efforts also give birth to something that would not exist without the effort: a relation or connection with the fruit of the effort. And the effort itself can be rewarding as well, just as is the fact that I'm doing well to myself, my family and environment. While not being dependant on others, personally taking care and responsability of my primary needs, and saving money over a period of time besides. The latter is a mere extra. In passive consumption none of those experiences, rewardings or advantages exist.

Besides the responsability and action needed I will need to cope with nature's imperfection, work on reducing it by handling with it's impredictable variation in availability. I think that's manageable with some basic engineering.

When the sun shines or if it simply is a light day I'll produce electricty. When it's windy I'll make some more. I may be producing more than I'm needing for heating and electricity purposes. The sun will directly heat my water for most of the time of the year and warm my house directly and indirectly. But I will also be happy with the (superfluous) rain we have, knowing it's refilling my well with drinking and cleaning water of the highest quality:

It is not chemically treated, has no chemical additives, nor any residues of hormones or medicines as in regular drinking water, it has much less calcium and no nitrates, it is much softer. Softer to drink but also softer for the skin, as well as for all metal heaters that will live longer. That delicious, pure, soft water needs less soap to clean and the taste of a cooked meal -certainly the vegetables- as well as of my coffee and tea, will noticeably improve. If I would miscalculate the size of the well and need to be connected to the water grit I'll only use the regular drinking water for cleaning purposes or maybe flush it as not to spoil that outstanding rainwater.

In Hohmes I have made choices. I choose for quality at the core of the house, as described above, resulting in autonomy in and responsability over my primary needs. It will be reflected in the way the house is built, in the material chosen, in it's relation to the (direct) environment, in it's water heating and electricty infrastructure and as a consequence: in the way we will live in and around the house. Yet I'll strive to have the maximum done without my intervention and keep live and techniques simple, design a system that needs basic maintenance or monitoring more than daily action. That is exept for the fruit press in the kitchen.

Those are deliberate choices and altough not always a duality have to do with genuine versus imitation, original versus stemming from, slow versus fast, living in relation to versus living separated from, freedom and autonomy versus dependancy, active production versus passive consumption, nature and biosphere versus industry and technosphere, quality versus quantity.

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