we're not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.

Those of you who have known me a while have probably heard about my parents' in-progress strawbale house in Texas. And about half of you probably asked some variation of the following question: "What if the Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs...?" The other half of you probably asked about either mice or fire. Well, to answer your questions now that I have seen the house that has recently been completed (or as completed as a self-built house gets), I haven't seen hide nor hair of a mouse since I've been here. The fires seem to stay put in the furnace of the hot tub and in the wood-burning stove. And even though my parents live on a hill that receives a constant breeze even on the calmest days, its huffing and puffing has been so far unable to get this house down!

In fact, the little cabin has a very sturdy feel. This might be because its strawbale walls are nearly two feet thick, as you can see from the below picture of the kitchen window sill.

So to answer your next question--why strawbales?--I'll ask you to look again at that huge window sill. A traditional house has an insulatory R-value of around 19. This house? 50+. Thus it requires minimal heating and cooling. With this and the fact that the strawbales themselves are a sustainable, natural construction material, strawbale building is about as "green" as it gets.

Anyways, after about three years of work, my parents completed their house, so last Saturday we had an open house/ housewarming party both to celebrate and to allow some of the people who were extremely curious after hearing about (and trying to imagine) this house to finally see the real deal. Part of the reason we worked so hard to have the housewarming party before Mom and I leave for Haiti is because we gave it a dual purpose, asking that people consider donating to our Haiti-funds rather than bringing gifts. This may seem like a random event to use to fund raise for Haiti, and I suppose it is. But for something coincidental, the party and fundraiser fit together surprisingly well, because while in Haiti, Mom intends to research the feasibility of strawbale construction there.

This is only one of the many things on our "Very Flexible, Broad To-Do List," which may completely change when we get to Haiti. Speaking of getting to Haiti, the countdown is certainly on. Only three days before we leave, and I can't even believe it!

I am finding it challenging to prepare for this trip as prep for Haiti also includes prep for after Haiti. We will return to the States on Christmas Eve, so I have been doing weird things like making a Christmas card on November 3rd. This is quite out of character as I am usually the person who considers it nothing short of sacrilegious to even consider decorating or listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving.

Along with our preparations, we are dilligently watching the weather, wondering whether our departure will be impeded by Tropical Storm Tomas, which is presently approaching Haiti. At the moment it is looking like Haiti might miss the brunt of the storm, yet Tomas' effects are still certain to impact the already-fragile conditions on the island and the tent cities in particular. We are still preparing for the trip, Tomas or no Tomas. Before even having started our journey to Haiti, I am getting a shrewd impression that "flexibility" will be a keyword for our stay there.

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