End of the second day in the off-grid house. Three things strike me about being here: quiet, rhythm, and awareness.
In the city, I am constantly annoyed by noise. Here, there's a empty, echoing feeling to the quiet. It's not lack of noise exactly -- I can hear cicadas and birds right now -- but it's still quiet. At first I wanted to fill it, but now I can feel my hearing instead expanding outward. Catching a faint engine noise, or a dog barking in the distance.
Here there's a rhythm to the day driven by the sun. Get up, connect the batteries to the solar panels. (Only necessary because the charge controller is broken.) Check and record the battery levels, make sure the panels are producing well. Think about adjusting them at solar noon. Check the cooler to see how the ice is holding out. Do weekly chores: Refilling the kerosine lanterns and replacing the rock salt used to control the humidity, which is the downside to a earth-sheltered house that stays 70 degrees cool on a 90 degree day. In the evening, watch the sun go down, disconnect the solar panels, record battery levels, and light lanterns. That's the shape of the day.
Besides being aware of distant sounds and time time of day, being here brings to the fore awareness of consumables. Until I get a fridge sorted out, I have a cooler full of ice that I have to monitor. There's propane for the stove, and kerosine for the lanterns. And of course always the state of the batteries. So far, the first battery bank seems likely to last longer than the ice. I'll know better tomorrow.
Unfortunatly I burned out the 5v power supply I was using to run my NSLU2 in a wiring mishap, so I have to run that on an inverter for now, and the batteries, though not low, can barely power both the inverter and my laptop. This has made staying online tricky. But I'm finding dialup surpisingly tolerable, and it helps to generally slow down, too. Despite all the above, I got about as much real work done today as I normally would.