31 August 2015

storm(s) info

Here's how completely the south wind is blocked here.  The hilltop behind us shows the firs waving in the strong breeze, but we recorded no south winds at all!  Unless one of those trees is uprooted and hurled about 30 feet horizontally, we just won't know about wind storms from the south..

it should be noted that this was among the strongest August storms on record 
in the Pacific NW, though just barely not a September storm.

And how about this interesting result from the storms!
Just before the 'big one' hit (the wetter of the two) I took an unused plastic garbage can and put it under a downspout.  I then cut the downspout with tin snips, pinched in the lower part to (supposedly) make a ramp from the back so all the water would fall into the 'storage bin' . I added a small square of plastic foam to improve the diversion, it's at least 80-90% effective in stopping drips below the downspout.  

In theory this would catch 1/4 of the rain hitting the roof, assuming gutters are fully balanced and each corner is doing the same job.  Our home was recently re-leveled so it's a fair generalization. 

The next morning I found the standard garbage can to be Completely Full with a decent amount pooled on our driveway.  This for a storm of less than 3/4 inch!  I siphoned most of it to the ditch beside our driveway, so less water hung out on the concrete and found a way under the house this way.  Proof of concept successful, but clearly not yet a permanent solution..

And another thing..

How's this for entertainment, and for the record 'books' - three cat-4 storms in the w/central Pacific at once!.  Hawaii is left of center between the two storms on the left, so Ignasio is aiming for it but should be curving north in time.

And of course there's this nonsense - "The event has been linked to a stronger than usual El NiƱo event, which researchers are saying we should start to get used to, as many more are expected in the future. "

But wait there's more! 
Hurricane Fred developed closer to the African coast than any storm in history*!  
Hurricane warnings in the Cape Verde islands, first time Ever!
* at its latitude, at least - a few further south have it beat on this one.

28 August 2015

something changed

This region has been in rainfall deficit since late winter.  Spring rains were minimal, summer as dry as usual.  Portland reset its #days with temperatures above 90°!  Given all this it's quite the surprise to see the weather do what it always does, which is break from one pattern to another.  Cool and wet will prevail for the next week or so, and decent widespread rain will quench wildfires and restore greenery to the brown lands.

Often this can happen as other areas of the Pacific fill with late-summer typhoons and Hawaiian hurricanes; these inject plenty of energy and moisture which inevitably gets carried to the west coast of US/Canada.  Here comes the first of them.

We live near the boundary of the Willapa Hills and Lower Columbia forecast zones.  One has a High Wind Warning, the other a Wind Advisory.  Boundaries do that, and we must have boundaries!  It doesn't really matter though, as our home is strongly sheltered from the south wind - we will hear it and its effects, but feeling those winds is unlikely except as they swirl around the highest areas to reach us.

I planted several of our potted plants yesterday, feeling like one warm day followed by an inch or more of rain might settle them in nicely.  Our wood wall now has a sunflower, bush and rock roses as well as our potted daphne are now in place.  The exceptionally dry ground did not wish to yield but I put them in place and gave them an advance sprinkle  Hopefully they will enjoy the rain on their leaves as well as their roots.

UPDATE - here's how well the south wind is blocked here.  The hilltop behind us shows the firs waving in the strong breeze, but we recorded no south winds at all!  Unless one of those trees is uprooted and hurled about 30 feet horizontally, we just won't know about wind storms from the south..

21 August 2015

cat update!

The girls spent a couple of days on a field trip (literally, I expect) and poor Inky/Spook fell behind.  He spent most of two days as a solo artist, working on his pitiful meows to make us feel he'd been totally abandoned.  I've found the kittens love chasing coins rolled down the driveway; their reflexes will thank me when the first mousies appear without mama to help!   Later he jumped under the tarp and did some self-motivated play.

Last night mama returned though, so Inky had a little more company at dinner.  And this morning the girls are back!  They were quite hungry so I made sure a bit extra was in each bowl.  Now they're wandering in and out of view, like they have been doing since early June.  They all come running when we step outside (unless it's siesta time) but rubbing against us or actual touching is still not their thing.

01 August 2015

a semblance of normalcy

Life on the Heights began just a year ago, in late July.  It's been a really fine place to be, almost like camping in a cabin all year long.  It is further from amenities and family than we'd like, especially with out 20-25mpg vehicle.  It's also been a financial burden that we did not expect when we decided to leave Portland.

Finances had been tight since my retirement in June of 2013, but being a caregiver came first.  The financial side of caregiving took its toll though, as doctor visits and tests took up a higher percentage of our smaller pension.  Portland is not an inexpensive place to live, and Oregon's state income and combined property taxes were hard as well.

So we began looking north with a few good reasons in mind:
· decreased tax burden overall (although WA sales tax would do its work);
· lower overall  property values outside the Big City = more home for less;
· we'd be a bit closer to my wife's family in NW Washington - and
· financing a less-expensive home would pay down medical & other debts   (That was a big one)

However, after we decided this was the home for us we learned that traditional financing was unavailable!  It's a manufactured home in the usual sense, resting on jacks and concrete blocks - and a new Washington state law (enacted while we were house-hunting!) said that without a Permanent Foundation such homes could not use traditional financing.  That nearly scuttled the deal and force us into a place we'd like less.  Instead we crafted a privately-arranged offer to the owners with a high down payment but a quick payoff time - so relief from out other debts would need to be deferred.

We're still glad we did it though, and figured we could hold on for a few more years despite the debts.   We were wrong: health problems stayed bad and several ER visits were costly (and worse: unproductive).  We made a few budget-tightening changes that helped, but more needed to happen.

And now for the relief: sometime in August we will contract locally to add an acceptable, permanent foundation, which will allow us to seek traditional bank financing.  That mortgage will pay off the private note and it will pay debts down, fix the place up, allow us to seek more options for improving my wife's health, and generally bring us both a far less stressful retirement.  The mortgage will take a little longer to pay off but it's worth doing. Maybe soon we can even buy a 35-mpg used car to make Portland less expensive to visit!

We've been optimistic for five years that things were soon to turn our way (on several levels) - and not, God willing, that's about to be true. Hallelujah!