Last year when our pond was new we added 20 feeder fish (very tiny goldfish). They disappeared. We added 20 more. They disappeared. We added 20 more, plus two koi, and one larger gold fish from a friend's pond. They all disappeared. Having had fish before I was pretty sure they were all hunkered down in the bottom of the pond, waiting for warmer water. But, we were impatient. We now had 60+ fish in our pond. A few floated, but very few, so in actuality we probably had about 55 fish. All winter the pond showed no sign of fish. This spring, once it warmed up, they began, slowly, to come to the surface. We could never get an accurate count but we were sure we had at least 40 fish from the previous year and a batch of new babies. We had plenty of fish. In fact, we were now concerned that our pond was over-stocked.

Well, not to worry. Just this morning I heard a rattling and saw the flash of a bird flying up to our roof. A few moments later I heard the rattling again and watched in fascination as the same bird dove into the pond and came up with a goldfish in its beak. A Kingfisher has discovered our pond. Eating is good!


Refining Storage

This pantry is narrow pull out storage that can be accessed from both sides. It works well. I would use this food storage solution again. But, as with anything new, learning how to use it best takes some time.

So, the ongoing task of living in our new home is one of refining what we need, and storing it in a way that is both pleasing and useful. When one lives in small spaces, those spaces cannot be wasted storing items for only occasional use. We keep the items we use year-around close at hand and the seldom used items are not kept at all. Those extra serving dishes or cooking pots used twice a year at holiday time are no longer part of our inventory -- not even in our storage closets.

The past few days I've been refining the contents of our shelves, adding to our food storage containers, and eliminating items that have been collecting dust. When moving into our new home I made the best cut I could but the experience of living here has provided valuable information. For example, the pull out pantry doesn't store bagged items, like beans and pasta, well. The packages flop around and get caught when the pantry is pulled out. Plus they take up too much room.

In looking for solutions, Brad discovered these great glass canisters (top shelf) at one of our local stores. They are now full of coffee beans, rice, beans, pasta, granola, oatmeal and the secondary flours and sugars (soy and wheat flour/powdered and brown sugar) for baking. The larger quantities of sugar and flour are in the larger containers. In the pantry, plastic sealed containers are used for dried fruits and nuts. The remainder of the pantry is available for cans and boxes of frequently used items that store well in that space and are handy to grab. Floppy bags and bulk supplies are no longer creating panty problems. After purchase, they are immediately placed in the canisters -- neat, dry, air tight and handy storage.

I went on a reading jag about the Chinese Cultural Revolution a fews months ago. It left me with a clear idea of just how lucky we are here in America with our large homes (even ours at 860 square feet) and all our amenities for living well in those homes. Thinking of cooking on a gas burner, squatting on the floor of a hallway; an entire family living in a cold cement room of only very limited space and almost no privacy; inadequate heat; few accessories; and so forth, has helped me realize how little I really need. And, how much I have, even after reducing what we had by so much. I like turning away from the American norm so I can focus on the essence of what's really important. Having what I need rather than what I want helps me to have a quality life without being owned by my possessions.

A friend once visited our Saratoga home (also small at 1200 square feet). Her comment was, "oh, I love small homes. I would love to have one too." Since she was in the process of designing a new home I asked her why she couldn't have one. Her reply was that she had so much furniture she needed a large home to house it in. Her children were grown and out of the house so it was only she and her husband. But, they built a four bedroom home of probably 4,000 square feet so she could store her furniture. Hum? Seemed crazy to me.


Solar Heat Storage

Brad Hankins, designer and builder of our fredleyonwhidbey home, designed our solar system's heat storage and sensor monitoring system. He has posted some interesting and educational comments at his blog, click website address below, then follow links to solar.

Brad Hankins

Design Build BRAD


Guest House Interior Shots

This first picture is of the window seat with a 'Green Giant' Western Red Cedar in the background. This hybrid cedar will reach only 30' tall by 10' wide so can be planted in a more restricted location. The tree is centered on the hallway/bridge as one walks directly from main living. The neighbor's studio you see in this picture will be hidden by the tree in a few more years.This pictures shows the bath vanity area, in relation to the window seat. It also shows that the bath is lower than the bed area. There are two steps, with one riser, which is a floating metal stair connecting the two areas.
Here is the bedroom area with the wall bed up. The floor space available when the bed is up is designed for yoga. A table on the backside of the bed is available for working on a sewing or research project.
This is a photo of the bedroom area, with the bed down. A lowered bed leaves plenty of room to walk around all sides of the bed, but that's all. There is not extra room for furniture, which was our desire. Past experience had shown us that furniture is just a place to put clothes instead of in the closet. Because of the generous windows and the high ceiling the room does not feel cramped or claustrophobic in any way.