Monthly Archives: September 2010

Almost done siding!

Just a quick update to show off some new photos of the street side of the ecoplex!

View of the ecoplex from the street


Jason is doing a fantastic job, and I am so happy! Of course, the orach and sunflowers practically hide the building, so here are some more to show detail:

Peaking through the sunflowers...


close up of street side detail


This side of the ‘plex underwent the most change. It is the street side and the also north side. I chose to minimize windows on this side to reduce heat loss and sound transmission. Because of the steeply slanting roof on this side of the salt box, the top floor already has no windows on this side. The middle floor had a huge picture window in the living room, a big window in the bedroom, and a door. We live on this floor, and generally kept the blinds closed anyway to protect from nosy neighbors and chill in the winter. The bedroom north window was removed (there is an east side egress/light window left in this room) and the big picture window was replaced by the 2 small peeker windows you see in the bottom photo. Most of the light into the living room comes from a west window and from the kitchen to the south. The peeker windows allow peeks at standing height and sitting height from the living room to check on what is going on outside. From most seating positions inside the living room the windows frame trees and sky. I thought about removing the door too, but decided against it, instead I may one day build an interior arctic entry or protect the porch more.

I worried about two things – less light into the living room and making the outside front aspect of the place look uninviting and blank. The living room really doesn’t seem that much darker, though I will someday replace the dark green carpet with lighter flooring, and will probably abandon my plan to paint the living room walls a dark color. I think the street view of the place is still plenty inviting with the beautiful green siding, the trees and summer flowers, the cute little windows, and the door and porch flags – but I’m willing to take suggestions! What do people think of a brightly colored ‘Putumayo’ style painted sign proclaiming it the spenard ecoplex?

Oh, and see the next post for the invite to celebrate the ecoplex this Saturday!

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Come celebrate 2 years of Ecoplexiness!

I would like to invite everyone to help me celebrate two exciting years of the Spenard Ecoplex this Saturday, Sept. 25! It’s been a very busy time, as anyone who occasionally peruses this blog knows, with big whole-building insulating projects, massive tree and garden planting, repairs, upgrades, learning how to live in the ecoplex, and plenty of soul searching. Although the true anniversary is mid-october, now is a great time to celebrate – the garden is in full swing, flowers are blooming everywhere and hopefully frost will hold off long enough for me to bring in all the lettuce for the salad!

Yesterday, lying in the sun in the ecoplex garden!


There will be two components to the celebration – come early (as early as noon if you wish) to join in a work party with refreshments (cold or hot depending on the weather) and snacks. Tasks might include light cleaning up of the yard, veggie harvest (take some home with you!), spreading wood chip mulch, stucco application on the foundation, putting up some trim on the house, etc.

Dinner will be served at 5pm, and will consist of at least: garden fresh salad, roasted root veggies, kale nachos, and bbq salmon with rhubarb cobbler for dessert. No need to bring anything, but if you must, drinks are ok 🙂 There is no requirement to join the work party first, please come celebrate regardless!!

Bring appropriate clothing to be comfortable outside – I have a pop-up tent/canopy and a firepit to ward off light rain and chill. If the weather really sucks we will be inside. Please RSVP to katmainomad at gmail dot com by friday so I can get a head count for dinner, but feel free to bring family, friends, etc.

This is your opportunity to visit the ecoplex, see what’s up, put in some work to a good cause (well, it’s not like I’m a non-profit or anything, but lets just say that I might as well be so far :), and help me make sure the garden doesn’t become frozen compost!

Hope your fall is going well and hope to see you all there!

Osh riding his OWN bike to school for the first time today!

Nearly-fall-equinox update

Wow, what a crazy, busy summer! I have a new job – I’m an energy efficiency coordinator now, which integrates a bunch of aspects of my life a lot better than they were. I consider this nearly perfect livelihood. There are really only two minuses: 1) I will probably have to purchase a car for outreach to the valley; and 2) I am even more plugged in than I was before – sitting in front of a computer for much of my day and keeping in touch with all the latest technology. But, I am only human and so far it has not been too hard to find the bright side to my spiffy new macbook and iphone. Never say never…like me you may have to eat your words…

I have also been getting out adventuring a bit more that my kid is older and can travel better and or let me leave him behind. I started the summer well with my bike/hike to the mountains, but lately I have been borrowing cars and scamming rides with friends, so maybe it is time for me to pull my weight. Ah, the dilemmas of life. I wish Anchorage had a carshare program – that would solve my problems nicely. I should cost out daily rentals from the closest rent-a-wreck. Maybe that is my out. Seems a waste to spend a bunch of money on a steel beast, the insurance, gas, maintenance, etc to just let it sit around most of the time. Or even worse – to start finding excuses to use it instead of the bike because it is there and I feel lazy…

It’s a rush to the finish, but we are almost done with the insulating residing job on the ecoplex. I say we, I really mean my friend who is doing all the work. It’s been a rainy, hard summer to work in, but I’m hoping to make the deadline to turn in all my paperwork for the Home Energy Rebate program. I have until basically the first week in October. I have sent in a request for my follow up audit, so I can get that scheduled for the end of this month. Here is a picture of the south side of the building, some siding, especially on the porch, is yet to be done, but the east side is complete except touch up caulk and paint, the west is nearly sided, the north is almost ready for siding.

South Side


I’ll do the final tally of costs, projected savings, etc etc once the project is all done, but let’s just say it hasn’t been cheap. Doing almost none of the work myself this time didn’t help, but I had way too much on my plate, and though I probably could have forced myself to put in more time on it, I’d be even more insane that I am now if I hadn’t rested and played a bit. Thanks so much to everyone that put in such hard work on the project for such measly rewards! You know who you are. Thanks also to my tenants who have had to put up with random power losses, which took an embarrassingly long time to diagnose, disruption to doors and windows, mess, crap in the way of the garden and the drives and the parking, noise, delays in getting to landlording duties due to general craziness, etc. I’m very relieved that this should be the last major, whole house project for a long while!

The garden was a huge success this year despite a lack of effort put into it. Things grew faster than the slugs could eat them, and flowers bloomed everywhere!

Pear and apple saplings and surrounding beds


Despite the youth of the plantings, I had many tasty apples, currants, and strawberries and a smattering of other fruit and berries, as well as greens up the wazoo, turnips as big as a baby’s head, beets, celery, favas, peas, cukes, cabbage, and lots of herbs!

Osh in front of herb spiral with sunflower!


Happy Fall everyone!