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Out on the Limb


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I recently learned about AVM's: "Automated Valuation Model"

Essentially, an AVM does the job of a home appraiser....sort of. It is a handy tool to help determine the value of your home prior to sitting down with the realtor. After all, we want to be well informed about what sale price we think is best.

Although we attempted to use the AVM linked above, the report came back "not enough data available". We were not charged for an incomplete report. The "no data" status was no surprise, as we are very rural and our property size does not compare with others in the valley. We have had the house appraised a couple of times previously, and the appraisers were at pains to find a comparison. In fact, they couldn't...and had to wing it. But that's what they get paid to do.
In other news, British Gas is selling a household sized wind turbine.
Russia also has a household wind turbine called the BREEZE 5000.

Technorati Tags:

...and thanks to for the news
posted by Deb, 7:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Still Searching

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Has it really been 3 whole days since I posted? Now isn't that interesting! I post a clever little piece about hurdles, and then I run smack into one. haha!

UPDATED 6-4-05:
The stats for weights and water capacities were not readily available online or in the brochures, even tho the 319BHS model is already a year old a few months old. We received an email reply to our questions from the manufacturer regarding the stats; but the info has not yet been updated on the Keystone website; but then I just recently heard back from Keystone. As you may recall from my earlier posting, we would want the stats to be public knowledge before purchasing the 319BHS.

The missing stats for the 319BHS are as follows:
UVW - 9690
CC - 2240
Hitch - 1770
Length - 35' 5"
Height 12' 9"
The remainder of the data is listed at Keystone's Mountaineer specs page.

We began considering a travel trailer but soon returned to the 5th wheel as the better option. The overlap between the 5th and the truck conveniently reduces the total length nose to tail by several feet.
posted by Deb, 8:21 PM | link | 0 comments |


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Practicing and understanding good habits to inspire creativity is just one of the hurdles I face this year. Since this is a year of big changes, there are several more hurdles to navigate. If you are hoping to be hurdle-free at some point in your life...good luck! Hurdles are not necessarily obstacles, though. There are several methods of dealing with metaphorical hurdles:

For the dramatic type: Get a good running start and breeze gracefully over the hurdle in full view of all.
For the manipulative type: Lower the bar on the hurdle
Thinking outside the box: Change direction
Energy conservation: Go around the hurdle rather than over
Bush Administration: Lie about the existence of the hurdle
Type A personalities: Redefine the hurdle as an opportunity to excel

Can you think of others?..........

OK....excuse me while I practice my hurdles. The following is a personal exercise to help me understand some of the artistic processes I struggle with.

This is a test...it is only a test.
Please visit the link if you wish to see the long version.

Don't Stop at the End
I'm already a pro at this suggestion because one thing leads to another...and another...and

Plan Your Next Work Time

I recently began doing this again when I realized I was stressing about being overwhelmed. Planning helps me focus on the task at hand rather than fretting over the many tasks calling my name.



Act on Inspirations

This is one of those hurdles in which I try to lower the bar. Sometimes fear gets in my way, and I try to pretend an idea wasn't all that inspirational anyway (and usually I'm right....except for the part about avoiding the action).

Get Out Those Notes

Oh....those notes!

Do Anything!

Easier said than done when I've been seized with a fit of depression. But, yes, doing "anything" is the way.



Take Notes, Clip Ideas

This I also do, but then when I am swimming in the mess of paperwork and files on top of files I begin to wonder why I do these things.

Choose Any Idea

See "Do Anything" above

Try a Series

I fantasize about someday having a series of uninterrupted weeks...by the beach...on an island...no phone...no email....pushing crackers into my mouth on occasion just to stay alive while I delve into an artistic fit of creativity eventually emerging from the retreat emotionally spent but fully satisfied. Was that a run-on sentence?

Honor the Modest Inspiration

Wise words



Beware of Critics

This is still risky business for me, and I've been slowly culturing an attitude over the years that protects me from the critics.

Give Yourself a Break

posted by Deb, 7:01 PM | link | 0 comments |

Stuff and Nonsense

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Good news! The Oxygen Collective will be buzzing by my neck of the woods twice in the next couple of weeks. I am trying to figure out a way to visit them. I really admire the work they do; and their bus, "Priscilla", is a must see!
I'm feeling under the weather today:
sore throat
stuffy head
burning eyes
.........and generally grumpy.
It's hummingbird season. There are 8 or so that utilize the massive kiwi plants for cover while they dart back and forth to the feeder. We aren't really sure exactly how many are around because they are so darn fast.

Did you know that the hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards? yup...that what I read at the Dandy List of Factoids.
posted by Deb, 4:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Brave Explorers

Monday, May 23, 2005

For your summer reading and listening pleasure:

is the official web site of the first summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean. On May 10, polar explorers Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen embarked on a history-making expedition. Their nearly four-month journey crosses the frozen ice cap from Cape Arcitchesky, Siberia to the geographic North Pole, then on to Ellesmere Island, Canada. The expedition hopes to create awareness of global climate change.
complete with audio.

This link is also listed in my del.icio.us tags.
posted by Deb, 2:47 PM | link | 0 comments |


Sunday, May 22, 2005

I put the Kid's Cooking Book in the rummage pile, but couldn't part with my favorite brownie recipe. Nor should I have to with today's technology! I wanted to share with you because this recipe lives up to its name "Disgustingly Rich". (Click the pictures to enlarge.)

Also, disgusting is the "Nuclear Option" plan. Here are some fun filibuster facts.

Please get involved by signing the protest petition.
posted by Deb, 4:29 PM | link | 0 comments |

Recalling Nausea

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I was curious to see the RV industry's recall history and found a site titled RV Advice Neato Info!.

Naturally, there are horror stories:
"...contact could create a shearing force across the bolts, allowing the axles to separate from the travel trailer..."
My favorite:
"...causing the support arms to break without warning, possibly causing seperation between the towing vehicle and the trailer..."
Can you imagine seeing your home pass you on the highway?

The site also provides a simple home remedy for motion sickness:
A British scientific study found that ginger is more effective than Dramamine in stopping motion sickness. You can purchase candied ginger in Asian food markets and chew on it while traveling, or you can buy ginger supplements in a health food store, then take two 500-milligram capsules about an hour before embarking on your trip and one or two more capsules every four hours while you're traveling.
Ginger tea works well for nausea also. Fortunately, neither my husband nor I are prone to motion sickness.

posted by Deb, 8:16 PM | link | 0 comments |


Friday, May 20, 2005

Second to the venus fly trap, tumbleweeds are my favorite plant. I don't particular want to live amongst a flock of tumbleweeds, but they fascinate me.

{ insert mental image of large tumbleweeds HERE / Flickr is down for maintenance }

Those brown balls of weed...tumbling weed...aren't necessarily dead. They just look that way. Tumbleweeds blow around and at some point come to rest upon a patch of soil that is wet with rain. Then they send out a few roots with strict instructions not to return until they have hydrated the mother plant.

In some ways, my husband and I are like tumbleweeds. We have been resting in this corner of the world for many years. Nevertheless, our roots have remained shallow, only going to depths necessary for maintaining life. We are not the types to generate large tap roots. Sometimes one of use shouts ROAD TRIP!!...and we throw a few things together and GO....with no particular plan.

Until now, I had not realized anyone harvested and sold tumbleweeds. Something here saddens me.

I recall a story I heard about a tiny plant in a museum. The plant looked like a stick....a very old dry dead broken stick; and it resided in a glass box. The sign beside the stick said that every 5 years the stick sends out a shoot in search of water. And every 5 years the plant did indeed send out the green shoot...to the amazement of those who gathered to watch this miracle of life. This went on for decades. Then it stopped. No-one had ever thought to give it water.
posted by Deb, 7:44 PM | link | 0 comments |


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

We had a staff meeting at the office today. Big boss man attended...a rare treat. It seems he is unhappy about some bickering going on amongst the staff. So he said that in his opinion, any bickering should be handled in one of three ways (I took notes for once)

1) Those with complaints will be told to mind their own business, because their complaint really doesn't concern them.

2) Those with complaints will be told to take their issues outside of the office. We are here to work. Time spent bickering is counterproductive.

3) Those with complaints will be told to go home and think about it.

Deb's translation: "There will be no dispute resolution in this office."

No...we do not have a personnel department. Yes...there is an office manager. Last time I went to her with a complaint, she ran out of the office crying. But, then, I sometimes have that effect on people. So the office manager (who is married to one of the owners) no longer handles grievences, and the job has reverted back to the former office manager (now VP) with the above 1-2-3 warnings. Actually, I haven't had any co-worker complaints for several weeks. Someone else must have upset the apple cart this round.

I am stock-piling pies so that I can resolve my future grievances without bothering management. Um....that was a baaaaaddd thought. In the interest of peace, I've decided to follow this advice instead:

Originally uploaded by sillydog.
This sign was made especially for the March 20 protest in Portland.
Please visit sillydog who originally uploaded the pie graphic. Thank you for participating with creative commons and sharing your pictures with us, sillydog!

Lest you think I am feeling sorry for myself....no way! I am so fortunate to have a house I can sell to leave this dead-end job and follow my dreams instead.

Some of the less fortunate can be found at this West African floating hospital. Please consider a contribution if you can. The blog provides information on how to help.
posted by Deb, 4:56 PM | link | 2 comments |

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

For the next several weeks, our progress towards becoming fulltimers is measured by how much we take to rummage and how much we learn.

Every time the load is lightened in this house, I consider the fact that every item owned needs care and maintenance. Even the forgotten items tucked into the corners of closets require passive maintenance. These things become protected, insured, secured, organized, periodically cleaned....and occasionally used and enjoyed. Otherwise, why bother owning them?

Why, indeed? I'm enjoying the slim trim process....so far. It will become tougher further up the trail.

lego lego lego
should I stay or should I go?

The Clash - Lyrics to "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"
Darling you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let know
Should I stay or should I go?

Always tease tease tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day is fine, next is black
So if you want me off your back
Well come on and let me know
Should I Stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An' if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

This indecision's bugging me
Esta indecision me molesta
If you don't want me, set me free
Si no me quieres, librame
Exactly who'm I'm supposed to be
Digame quien tengo ser
Don't you know which clothes even fit me?
Sabes que ropas me queda?
Come on and let me know
Me tienes que decir
Should I cool it or should I blow?
Me debo ir o quedarme?

Should I stay or should I go now?
"Me entra frio por los ojos" (y es verdad)
If I go there will be trouble
Si me voy va a haber peligro
And if I stay it will be double
Si me quedo va a ser doble
So you gotta let me know
Me tienes que decir
Should I stay or should I go?
"Me entra frio por los ojos"
posted by Deb, 4:57 PM | link | 3 comments |

Another Weekend.....gone

My weekend being Sun/Mon...there it goes as I dash off to my traditional job.

I've been fretting, having not heard from my son in China for 4 days. He has only been there just over a week and not quite settled into a routine yet.

I've been sprucing up my del.icio.us tags for you. I'm not quite done, but you can have a peek. Do you have any favorite destinations you would like to tell me about? I love dreaming about future destinations. Even better, I love traveling to them.

Signing off.
posted by Deb, 6:22 AM | link | 0 comments |

Note to Self

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Don't leave the dog food out!
I've been reading horror stories this evening about squirrels taking up residence in RV's and chewing on various items. They can become a nasty problem.

However, a little precaution goes a long way towards squirrel control.

A rodent taking up residence in an RV becomes more likely the longer an RV is stored and immobile. Since we will be on the move frequently, I think we will be OK. We plan to relocate every few weeks, max.

However, I will not be feeding the cute little buggers; and please remind me to bring in the dog's dish!
The hilarious Harley squirrel story: A Dangerous Neighborhood, by Daniel Meyer
posted by Deb, 8:00 PM | link | 0 comments |

Biodiesel Gets Competitive

Friday, May 13, 2005

Yessssss !! This is what I've been waiting to hear.
posted by Deb, 7:21 PM | link | 0 comments |

Out and About

Thursday, May 12, 2005

We were not able to meet with Nikalai. When we got to the Sapphire Princess, the ticketing office was closed. I asked at the gangway entrace if I could leave Nikalai a message or find out if he was on board. An HS official told me "We just check for bombs and explosives...." snort.

So we went into the city for dinner, and stopped for a picture at Post Alley at Pikes Place.

The Sapphire Princess will be in and out of Seattle thru summer. Maybe next time, Nikalai. We hope you enjoyed your visit.

(why are my pictures slightly off kilter?)
posted by Deb, 6:17 PM | link | 0 comments |

Welcome to Seattle !

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I hope you are one of the lucky ones who can catch the LIVE WEB CAM from the deck of the Sapphire Princess coming into Dock 30 at Seattle this morning.

Romanian blogger, Nikalai.com works on the Sapphire. My husband and I hope to take him out to dinner tonight at Pikes Place Market.

I notice the Sapphire Princess was in Shanghai last month. My son is in Jiaxing, China now, which is near Shanghai. It would have been wild if Nikalai had been able to meet my son one month, and us the next! The worldwide web is fulfilling its promise to bring people together from all over the globe.
posted by Deb, 8:14 AM | link | 0 comments |

My Cow Accident

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I was folding laundry when I glanced out the large picture window to see a cow staring at me. He was only 10 yards from the house, so I went to get my camera. Meanwhile, our cow dog, Whisper, remained fast asleep.

When I got back to the window, the cow had moved another 20 yards back. I decided I needed to lean out the side window of the living room to get a good shot. And so it was that I sat on the curtain which yanked the rod from the wall to fall upon my head.

It's not every day one has a cow accident. I got the shot, though. This is the culprit in our backyard.

The cow bolted back to his pasture. It takes more than one cow to have a stampede...right?
stampede - n. 1) A sudden frenzied rush of panic-stricken animals
I liked it better when the neighbors kept horses. Horses smell better. Yes, I admit it. I have a cow prejudice.

The neighbors only keep a half dozen head; and most days the wind blows eastward...away from us.
posted by Deb, 6:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

13 Hours Away

Monday, May 09, 2005

Son #1 got to China. Although he sent me a note saying "got here"...this is his first real news:
"The students are High Schoolers and rowdy as hell. Its been an
emotional roller coaster ride because I was tossed into the classroom
with no books or information or direction. They just said make the
students speak english."
I wish I could have seen him trying to teach his first class. By first class...I mean, anywhere ever...English or otherwise. And he speaks no Chinese.

I will not be posting all his news here, but he has his own blog at Superhighway Crumbs (also in my "China" links). John is scheduled to be in Jiaxing for two months before teaching elsewhere in China.
posted by Deb, 9:06 PM | link | 0 comments |

Imagine Margaret Mead Blogging

posted by Deb, 3:28 PM | link | 0 comments |

Karma - Part II

Our dog, Whisper, will be coming with us to enjoy the freedom of our new (pending) RV lifestyle. The cat, Smitty, is not invited. See post below.

Smitty is the most nervous domesticated animal I have ever encountered. Something really really bad must have happened to him somewhere along the line before I inherited him....besides being neutered.

To have Smitty come with us in the RV would mean:

a) Tranqualizing Smitty and putting him in a cage each time we are on the road. Otherwise, I fear he would hurt himself and our home trying to find an exit.

b) Where would we put the kitty litter box? The only place I can think that might work would be the computer room (bunkhouse), and I would have to rip out an additional bunk to make floor room for the kitty litter box, and give up storage space for my products and supplies while we're at it. No thanks. Here are some interesting factoids from Care2 about litter:
"Some kitty litters can be burdens on landfills and the traditional clay variety, which is often strip-mined, often contains silica dust, a carcinogen. Below are some tips for using a more eco-friendly litter that is environmentally sound both inside and outside your home. A number of eco-friendly kitty litters are available online.

• Try litter made from recycled newspapers. The paper absorbs just as well as conventional clumping litter, but this approach helps the environment by reusing resources. Two great brands are Yesterdays News and Good Mews.

• Another great option is litter made from reclaimed wood. Sawdust that would normally end up in landfills is concentrated without the use of dangerous chemicals to produce environmentally safe litter. Two brands are Nature’s Earth and Catfresh."
The strip mined clay pits providing kitty litter for millions is a heart-breaking sight. But, honestly, the alternative eco-friendly products do not absorb smell as well as clay...even with constant upkeep. (We will be living in hot climates quite a bit. Yuck)

c) We will be reducing our living space from 1,000 sq ft to 240 sq ft. Whisper and Smitty still tangle with tooth and nail on occasion. I don't think it is fair to ask them to co-habitate in such closed quarters.

My conclusion is that all involved are better off if Smitty finds a new, dog-less, stable home.
posted by Deb, 6:46 AM | link | 2 comments |


Sunday, May 08, 2005

It is apparently this cat's karma to be abandoned from time to time by owners who move to places the cat cannot follow. I adopted Smitty a couple of years ago. He belonged to the sister of one of my son's girlfriends, until she moved.

Smitty hates dogs with a passion. And so Whisper had to adjust to the fact that not everyone loves her. Smitty spent his first two months here hiding in the laundry room out of fear of the dog. I tried to help him feel secure because I knew Whisper loves cats and would not harm Smitty. But fear is fear and it took a long time for peace to break out.

It is not realistic for us to have the cat live with us in the RV. The cat would not be at all happy traveling. I think it is better that he find a new home...a home without dogs. This is one of the sadder facts of our pending transition, but I will find him a good home.
posted by Deb, 8:11 PM | link | 2 comments |


Saturday, May 07, 2005

posted by Deb, 8:08 PM | link | 0 comments |

simple is as simple does

Friday, May 06, 2005

I was visiting Karen's Belize Blog today. Karen says,
"In Belize things are so simple. People don't have much but they are happy.

Spending a bit of time in the Dallas airport on my way home, I was bombared by tonnes of shops and food places and I watched as everyone rushed around stuffing their faces, buying "things" yet still looking miserable. I think I suffered a bit of sensory overload!

I have learned the very valuable lesson of what it is like to live a simple life and how little you really need to live. I just hope that I can carry the lesson of simple living with me whenever I do leave Belize....we'll see."
Part of the reason my husband and I are willing and able to leave this beautiful house and land behind is the recognition that we don't really own it. We are missing out on life trying to maintain the mortgage payments and keep up with the yardwork.

Everything we posses takes maintenance of one kind or another.

less possessions = more time

Yes, we will still need to earn a living. But our new planned budget is more conducive to the ebb and flow of life rather than the daily grind.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
George Carlin
posted by Deb, 4:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

The Otter

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Story Time

Justin's comment about the snake and slug (see previous post) reminded me of one of my otter sightings.
From our home, it takes 15 minutes to walk to one of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie rivers. In the quiet of the morning it is not uncommon to see river otters at play. One early morning, I was walking on a wide log which extended out into the water. Looking down, I saw the rump and webbed feet of a small otter. The front half of his body was hidden under the adjacent log.

I stood there for a long time, neither of us daring to move except that the otter had to maintain a gentle rhythm with his legs to prevent the river from pushing him downstream.

I was highly amused because it appeared to me that this otter thought he was hidden, like a little kid that doesn't know to hide his torso when playing hide-and-seek. He can't see me...therefore I can't see him. Finally, I tried to kneel down for a closer view.

Whoosh; gone like magic. I could not even tell which direction he had made his exit.

I treasure my animal sightings. What about you?
posted by Deb, 6:41 PM | link | 0 comments |


My troubles just got put into perspective with this hair-raising bit from BBC news:
A five-year-old Shropshire boy discovered a live two-foot snake in his box of breakfast cereal. His mother said he was still in shock and not eating.
Below is a picture I took near our front door a couple of years ago. This grass snake is eating a slug.
Washington State is the slug capital of the world. I guess slugs aren't as tasty as snails to humans, because I don't hear of anyone putting slugs on the barbie.
posted by Deb, 6:21 AM | link | 5 comments |

Our Favorite

Monday, May 02, 2005

After spending yesterday at the Puyallup Fairgrounds touring through countless RV's, we kept coming back to the 31.5 foot Mountaineer.

The Mountaineer seems to meet all of our requirements. It has two slide units, one for the bedroom and one for the living room. The bunkhouse unit is easily convertible into a computer room; and there is adequate cabinet space for my printing supplies.

I'm guessing that a couple of years after we purchase our RV, the manufacturers will have many more models that have computer cabinetry built in. Right now, they are few and far between.

I'm looking for green alternatives to the standard linoleum/carpet mix for the flooring. Treehugger reminds us of the unfriendly qualities of traditional carpets:
First, almost all carpet is made from petroleum byproducts and synthetics such as polypropylene, nylon and acrylic. In addition, it’s usually treated with stain or soil repellents. And don’t even get us started on the backing (ugh!), which could be made from vinyl or synthetic latex. Padding can also contain PVC, urethane, and other suspect materials. Add to that the antistatic sprays, artificial dyes, antimicrobial treatments, and finishes and it’s enough to leave you shivering. But before you bag the idea, try checking out your options…
Gotta go...I have some reading to do!
posted by Deb, 4:55 PM | link | 5 comments |

Wall of Birds

Gig Harbor, Washington, has a
Wild Birds Unlimited
franchise. A brick wall perhaps
20 yards long frames the garden
area entrance to the shop.

This time of year, swallows nest
in the broken bricks of which
there are many.

The owner tells me that two weeks
ago, the wall of birds was a very
busy place. When we saw it on
Sunday, a few birds at a time
would be popping in or out of
their nests. It was a noisy and
visually stimulating place to be.

I could have stood there for hours.
posted by Deb, 4:39 PM | link | 2 comments |