Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
On the north side of our parcel (see photo to the right) there is about a ten foot span between the property line and edge of the house, which is full of juniper bushes. (I should say was full of juniper, until Trilby courageously tore them out with a few cuts and scratches to show for it).
Next year we plan on wrapping the north side of the house in straw bales to insulate the house, but figured that we can also use the shaded and underutilized north side to store our rainwater catchment cisterns.
Next Tuesday four, 550 gallon cisterns will arrive at our doorstep, and we'll replace the juniper bushes with 2,200 gallons of roof-caught rainwater - enough to provide us with about a third of our food-growing water for the summer (assuming we get more rain...).
Check it out! Ain't she a beauty? The cisterns are only about 4 feet high so we’re going to build storage cabinets on top of them, interspersed with some work tables as well. Always looking for ways to stack functions and efficiently use the space for as many purposes as possible...cabinets, workbenches, a dancefloor perhaps...
P.S. Hope you’re coming to our equinox party; we’re making a batch of homemade gin with the juniper berries we pulled out.
We find ourselves making a home in El Sobrante, a fairly nondescript portion of unincorporated West Contra Costa County with a rich history - a mere 10 minutes from Berkeley (the big city!), a stone's throw from thousands of acres of open space in Wildcat Canyon, and just inches away from the wild turkeys and domesticated chickens that freely roam our street.
The name of the area, El Sobrante, comes from the Spanish verb sobrar. In common Spanish, sobrar translates as "to be left over." Local legend goes that El Sobrante was named “leftovers” because it’s the randomly outlined area nestled between Richmond, San Pablo and Pinole.
But the literal translation of sobrar means "to be more than enough." Thus, the literal translation of the noun el sobrante means “that which is more than enough” – or, simply said, abundance. Which is exactly what we intend to cultivate here. Quite fitting.
And our picturesque courtyard feels so very Mediterranean, protectively enclosing citrus trees and an endangered Guadalupe palm, that’s where the vision of the Mediterranean villa emerged. The word villa also connotes a retreat, or a family house surrounded by farmland. So that sort of works...
Hence, Villa Sobrante – the place of abundance!