Sunday, November 30, 2003

A walk in Lichtnstein

This afternoon, on a gorgeous sunny day (52°F!) we made out to the property for a nice brunch & walk. Since the previous owners were so thoughtful to take their picnic table with them, we hauled our picnic table in and had a quick Subway lunch. Then we set out towards the west half of our south border to post some more signs. That piece of the property is probably the one that we will see the least of, since it is not easily accessible. However now with all the leaves gone it is truly gorgeous! There are a lot of hidden bluffs and rocks and trees (birch trees). At the bottom of the steep hill there is a wide ditch that probably hasn't seen water in a long time - if the size of the trees that are groing in the ditch are any indication.

After our walk, as we were leaving the property, we met Tom our westerly neighbor who was gonna check up on the property. Tom's the son-in-law of the farmer who originally owned the land.

Well, that's the news for this weekend.

A spontaneous trip

Well on Friday afternoon we spontaneously decided to do an 800 mile trip down to Missouri and take a look at Gastineau's show rooms in Missouri. Mapquest told me that it would take 8 hours and 530 miles, but that was on thei Highway going way west through Kansas City. After I stumbled across US 63 near the site where they have their show houses, we decided to go south on Country Roads - because we happen to live right on 63 ;-) Well that was at 1:20 PM and at 2:05 PM we were in the truck, heading south to Columbia, MO -- 370 miles according to Mapquest. I even found a Thai restaurant in downtown Columbia, so off we were. Jennifer took the first turn driving, since I still had to do some work for work and as we got halfway to Oskaloosa at 5:15 PM, I had accomplished what I needed to accomplish and took the 2nd half driving. If you ever have to go straight south from the Twin Cities, take 63, it's a nice drive!

We were actually lucky driving down there this weekend as we met not only the person who is familiar with our "case", Janet Groat, but also had a chance to meet and talk to the President of Gastineau, Lynn Gastineau. All-in-all it was a very informative trip that answered some questions but also created some new ones. At least we are still convinced that we want a log home.

Plans are worthless, planning is essential

This morning we finally got around to entering all the things we'll need to do into a project plan. It's quite an undertaking, but it looks like a lot of fun, too. We'll probably be looking at another Log Home up in the cities next weekend and also this week I want to get in touch with the people at IPS. According to the plan I need to create a project overview, so that's probably what I'll be working on tonight. And wrapping up some of the loose ends from our visit with Gastineau, too.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Maps, Drawings & Pictures

For all those of you for whom a picture says more than a thousand words I have started posting a few pictures, maps & drawings about and around Licht 'n Stein. Enjoy the slide show!

Happy Thanksgiving - if all goes well, we'll have a house warming party a year and 2 days from now, the Saturday after Thanksgiving...


Saturday, November 22, 2003

What's new?

Here are a few links to the files that hold some of the information that I started posting:

And of course the humble beginnings of our own discussion forum.

For my German visitors/Für meine deutschsprachigen Besucher: Wenn Ihr Euch in dem Diskussions-Forum registriert (einfach auf "Register" klicken), dann könnt Ihr das Forum (nicht die Beiträge, aber die Menüführung und Bezeichnungen) auf deutsch lesen! Wenn ihr Fragen habt, schickt mir einfach mal 'ne mail.

Welcome to the blog @ Project Licht 'n Stein

Welcome dear reader!

If you are reading this you've successfully made it over to our own, little, separate world - In case you're wondering why I chose .org versus .com -- I hope that once our house is up- and running, we could take the name and our passion to the next level and form a not-for-profit organization to promote sustainable living with renewable energies. Ideas thus far are focusing around organizing house tours, workshops and or classes, or simply "showing by example". We'll see (quote me on that in February 2005...)

Well, as posted below we closed in the land. Last weekend Jennifer and I were in Lanesboro 3 times and as many times on the property. On Friday we applauded to Peggy (Margaret) Hanson's announcement to run for Minnesota House at a DFL fundraiser event in the Sons of Norway hall. It was wonderful to see so many nice people there, like John, Mike , Frank, Barb, Joy & Bob and not to forget Frank and Peggy. There were many others whom we've just gotten to know and whose full names escape me ;-) [please excuse my grammar, but it's getting late ;-]. After the event we took Deb from SV up to "the land" and on the way out posted the sign

On Saturday then we visited Lanesboro with Jennifer's study colleague from OSU and his wife, John & Elizabeth. After a quick visit at the Gallery were Steve, the Glassblower, was having the opening of his exhibition of beautiful art, we embarked on a delicious culinary Tour de France in 7 stages at the French Restaurant in the Victorian House. It was quite delicious though we've in the past found the food of higher quality. But it is still "mondes plus bien" then what any restaurant in Rochester has to offer!

On Sunday then we bought some signs stating "Private Property, No Hunting, No Fishing, No Trapping or Trespassing for any purpose is strictly prohibited" and posted some on the north and west side of the property. We had intended to post some more this weekend (the Bambis got a break last week, but this weekend hunting continues...) but the weather has been really nasty with freezing rain today. And tomorrow they are calling for a foot of snow (30 cm). Yeeha!

Anyway, after posting the signs we planned on going up to the property but much to our suprise (or not) we found the farm equpiment and other debris that the sellers had to remove laying "neatly" piled up 200 ft from our driveway behind a fallen oak on land that, as we found out, belongs to Forstrom's widow. To get relations started off the right foot we introduced ourselves to two of the four/five new neighbors. Really nice people, indeed! We look forward to getting to know them better.

Then we followed our self-invitation to Mike & Stephanie's house to learn more about the right "toys" for keeping driveways clean and grass mowed and wood chopped. This turned out to be a great, extremely pleasant visit. Both Mike and Stephanie are so nice and we enjoyed their hospitality (and delicious tea, apples, and crackers). In the big schema of things they are basically neighbors and both involved actively in the community and politics. What wonderful acquaintance to make (thanks to Peggy for recommending us to talk to Mike).

By the way, Mike's driveway is about 3,000 ft from the road to the house, although that includes a good portion (about 1,000 ft) that is plowed by the county. At first sight the driveway looked in really good shape, but on our walk a few 100 ft down, Mike pointed out to us the little details that in the winter make the plowing and *permanent* snow removal challenging. We are still toying with the idea of getting a snow blower rather than a blade, since we hope that this way we can get the snow far enough away from the road and also do not lose as much gravel. However Mike had a good point that if we have a vehicle without a cabin, it would get pretty nasty up there if the wind is blowing from the wrong direction. He also mentioned that Sveen might actually plow our driveway as long as its no safety risk for them. And since we'll have the driveway redone next year anyway, maybe by them, that might actually work.

Jennifer spent most of today researching prairie restoration and that the type of prairie that is native to our neck of the woods is called "goat prairie". With our Unicorn on the property (if the seller did not accidentally shoot it, mistaking it for a deer) that vaguely resembles a goat with one horn, the name is pretty neat. While we will not have time to start prairie restoration on the whole tillable land, we definitely need to get started between the new driveway and the housesite.

Well, that's that for tonight. For those of you around where we live - drive safely!

Oops, I haven't posted in over 8 days...but it's been quite busy.

The biggest news: The Project Licht 'n Stein website is up and running. I ordered it last Sunday at and it was a sweet and cheap process ($52 for 12 months *including* the domain name registration). So if you are reading this post on the domain, it is the last on here. Go to the new site to read the new blog (and find a discussion group and more background information as well).

Here is our new address:

We have moved to

Friday, November 14, 2003

It's official! We have closed! We own the land.

Now the previous owners just have to follow through with their agreement to free the property from the five debris items (as heavy and big as the picnic table they've removed some weeks ago...). They first claimed they would not be able to remove the debris, but after negotiating (Jennifer was on the phone for almost 3 hours and eMails were flying back and forth between their and our attorney) that the bank would withhold $1,000, they suddenly were "able" to agree to remove the debris (just as they agreed to by signing the purchase agreement) by Monday...amazing, how suddenly they were able to do it.

I have a picture of the first sign ("Betreten Verboten") that we posted on "our" property (well technically it's the neighbors property, but it's on our egress onto our land).

It hasn't really sunken in yet, though it might sink in next weekend when we can finally enjoy it and call it ours.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

It's been a quite week at Projekt Licht 'n Stein...

Well I am not Garrison Keillor and it has not been a quite week - at least not in our personal lifes (which this blog is not about (thankfully)).

I've made contact with the folks from Innovative Power Systems out of Minneapolis. Seems that they are a bunch of engineers (Materials Engineer, Mechnical Engineer, Solar Thermal Systems Engineer, etc.) that got together 12 years ago (in 1991) to offer services around renewable energy. Besides a great link to a partner-websites to dimension your own system I was intrigued by their description of their services: Our range of services varies depending on your needs and your budget. We can do as much or as little as you want, from being involved in planning discussions and ordering the right equipment for your project to designing the system that best fits your needs to doing the actual labor to install it. I filled out one of their forms earlier this week and got a nice reply back from Roger, their Sales/Marketing director (an ME).

On the land acquisition side of things we have a tentative closing date for the 14th of November. We ran into Dick, our lawyer, during a social event on Tuesday in Lanesboro and he is still waiting for the title abstract. Upon receipt he will issue the title opinion and we should be on our way to closing. Exciting!

After reading the HP?? article on Wind Generators that Kirby gave me more thoroughly, I am now toying with the idea of getting the more heavy, more slowly turning African Windpower generator. It's a little bit more expensive, but his arguments on the reliability of heavier equipment convinced me (that's why we are driving an F-150, hit two deer in the past 3 years and had a no point any threat to our safety). I'd have to do more research. I'll also post my "Wind Evaluation" spreadsheet on the weekend. And I found out that the wind speeds at airports are usually 1-2 miles below what you can expect to find on your site, since airports are usually located in more windprotected spots (I am not sure if this is true for the Rochester airport, though).


Saturday, November 01, 2003

Finally got around to transcribing the Fillmore County Zoning Checklist. You can download it here. Good luck to Colleen and Kara & Dan.