Tag Archives: seattle

I want

An old house with history and character. And a harvest kitchen. A big fireplace. A root cellar.

A big front porch with rocking chairs and a pretty view of mountains in the distance.

Shelves filled with jars of jewel-toned summer tomatoes and home-grown pears. Pickled green beans and tart jam.

An acre of my own.

Maybe two. Then I can share the bounty.

Work that doesn’t cause so much stress that I grind my teeth at night. Work that never results in days where Ruby is asleep both when I leave in the morning, and when I come home at night.

A community of people who understand.

Enough rain, but not too much.

Chickens and goats and a dog in my yard.

Fresh eggs and goat’s milk cheese and soap.

Time to write. Time to play with my little girl. Time to bake and garden and dream.

No more days when I only see my husband for ten minutes in passing as I come home and he leaves for work.

To get through the scary stuff I see on the horizon with grace and in safety.

Kevin thinks we need to stay here until summer 2011. He has good points.

What kind of mother wants to move her daughter just before her senior year? What kind is willing to move her son away from his one very-hard-won friend? What kind of wife can’t be patient for one year?

I know we should stay. We should figure out a way to make here work until Adrienne graduates, anyway.

My brain gets that. But my heart is screaming that we need to leave. We need to find a new place as soon as possible.

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My Man (and a P.S. about Tonsillitis)

He hardly ever gets excited about anything.

This works fairly well in our marriage, since I get very excited about everything. He grounds me.

No. He doesn’t exude excitement. He won’t spend much time making plans for the future. It’s just not his style.

But he does pay attention.

When I woke up this morning, our desktop image had been changed to this beautiful picture of Seattle’s skyline.

P.S. I saw a doctor today. I have tonsillitis, and probably an ear infection. Can’t tell for sure, because apparently I have a growth in my ear canal that has gotten big enough to block my ear drum from view. I’ve had this little bump in my ear since I was a teenager. It came from years and years of daily swim team practices in cold water. But every time I’ve talked to a doctor they said as long as it wasn’t affecting my hearing, it’s not a big enough deal to risk surgery.

Apparently it is a big enough deal now.

I see the ears nose and throat doctor the first week of March, and surgery is probably on the horizons. For my tonsils too, apparently, since I’m too old for tonsillitis and those buggers should have (I swear he said this) shriveled up and fallen off by now.

Ugh.

Send out some healing vibes, please, that the antibiotics will restore my hearing in the mean time. Cause I’m losing my mind.

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Seattle Thoughts

1. I want to be able to shop at a Farmer’s Market, or join a CSA, or pretty much get my food anywhere but a high-priced rural grocery store. Better yet, I want to grow my own.

2. I grew up swimming in the ocean nearly every day nine months out of the year. I miss the ocean and I want it back. But I love my mountains, too.

3. I have lived in the desert since I was 15. That’s 23-ish years. I want some rain.

4. My baby is five. I want her to grow up surrounded by diversity of people, diversity of thought, diversity of ideas and faith and culture. This little town? Not so much with the diversity.

5. I want chickens. And goats.

6. I want educational options for my children.

7. I want a job with health benefits. Better yet, I want to work at home and for my husband to have a job with health benefits.

8. I want to look out my window and see trees. Green ones. Tall green ones.

9. I want my husband and I to choose where we want to live, instead of just staying where our parents planted us.

10. I want to live where someone other than Kevin and I know what Peak Oil is. Where every car doesn’t have an “Any one ‘butt’ Harry Reid” bumper sticker because he fought AGAINST building a coal power plant in our county. The man has kept Yucca Mountain out of our backyard for decades. He fought against sending our ground water to Las Vegas.  He wants to preserve our fresh air? Give him a break. I want to be able to talk to someone about politics and not have them look at me like I just suggested a rise of socialism/communism/anarchy/devil worship.

I’m not sure how these thoughts pertain to Seattle, except that my intuition tells me I’ll find them there. Access to good food, the ocean and mountains, diversity, homeschool groups, rain. You can even have chickens and pygmy goats in city limits. I looked up the county codes.

Am I romanticizing Seattle? Maybe it isn’t everything my over-active imagination is conjuring up. I’ve never even been there. I’ve never even been closer than the 800 miles or so away I am now. Maybe it’s just big and stinky like any big stinky city.

Still. It feels right. If I could, I’d leave tomorrow.

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Where to Live After the Oil Crash

I posted this question in the comments section of a different blog this morning:

Have you ever had your eyes so wide opened by something that you can’t ever close them again?

That’s how I feel about Peak Oil. I came, innocently, across Life After The Oil Crash in early 2005 and things just have never been the same. I had an infant daughter, my son was in the hospital, and I was pissed off that we couldn’t buy a house because the housing market in Las Vegas had gone haywire. All the babyboomers in my family and my husband’s family had bought nice houses for $150,000 or so within the past five years–and we couldn’t even get a dump for that much at the time. I was angry.

But I could also see clearly that what was happening in the housing market couldn’t be sustained. I had no real idea what was happening, but it made sense that it would correct at some point. So I started to do some research, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. What had caused the house we were renting to go from being “worth” $150,000 one year and $350,000 the next? It felt like the whole world had gone off it’s rocker.

So that’s how I came across Peak Oil. I read Matt Savinar’s entire website, and scared myself half to death. I realized that living in a place that absolutely depended on electrcity for survival was not okay. In Las Vegas it’s more than 100 degrees during the day from about May to November. It’s 100 degrees at least round the clock and often 110 or hotter during the day July to September. I spent one August when I was a single mother deep in poverty with no air conditioning. That is NOT a long-term solution in that desert city.

So we moved two years later. We didn’t go far, and we went to the only nearish town where we had some family–but we got out of the heat. Of course now we have winter for nine months out of the year, but it’s much easier to stay warm sans electricity than it is to stay cool in that kind of heat.

Two years later, I know that this is not a long-term solution. Here’s why:

  1. Our town is very remote. All food, gasoline, goods–anything that we buy has to be shipped at least 250 miles to us. There are only about 5000 people in this town, so if gas went high enough it might just stop being worthwhile for anyone to want to ship it to us at all.
  2. We have to drive here. There are no choices. We drive probably 80 miles a day total, between Kevin, Adrienne, and I all needing to be in town at various times during the week for work, school, and school activities. There is a public bus, but it’s unpredictable and only comes to our part of town once per day, which means that round trips are out of the question. (Silly, I know.) I’ve seen gas as high as $4.25 a gallon here. (See number 1…we pay a premium because it’s trucked up from so far away.)
  3. The growing season here is only about 75 to 90 days (depending on the frost dates.) People do grow things here, and there are alfalfa farms. But it’s very difficult. And irrigation is needed, because it’s so dry up here. We get only about four inches of rain during the summer.
  4. This may be the most conservative place in America. I’m not going to debate politics in this post, but the few times I’ve tried to discuss Peak Oil or Climate Change or why there is no recycling program here, I either get blank stares or called a Damn Liberal. I am a Damn Liberal, so that’s okay. But it would be nice not to be the only one.
  5. There is no secular homeschooling community here. I firmly believe that parents have the right to raise their children in their religion, but it would be nice to have a home school community that wasn’t so tied to religion.
  6. The housing market has not corrected here, and is showing no signs of doing so. The house next door to Adrienne and Nick’s grandparent’s house is on the market for $250,00o (!!) and it will sit there at that price forever, because the people who are selling it have had it paid off for thirty years and they just don’t care. They assume at some point someone will want to buy it. That’s the mindset here. I’ve seen houses on the market for outrageously inflated prices like that where the owner paid maybe $40,000 for it five or six years ago and put it on the market two or three years ago and have no incentive to really sell it because they’re getting good rent (the rental market is really tight here, so people can get high monthly payments.)
  7. While Kevin and I are both working in our fields, there are very limited work choices here. This has become glaringly obvious to me lately as things have happened at my job to make it miserable for me, and I can’t just quit or move on. This is a very seasonal place, and as few jobs as there are, in the winter they are nearly non-existent.
  8. There are no sources for local food there. The semi-exception being that we have a few cattle ranches around. But those animals are shipped to Idaho (at least 500 miles) to be slautered, and then shipped back here (another 500 miles) to be sold. So while I have a cattle ranch literally in my back yard, the meat from those cows still travels 1000 miles to get to my freezer. Okay, one other tiny exception is that we have an itty bitty farmers market here in August and September. The one thing that grows really well here is fruit, particularly apples, so we can get local apples during those months. These are just from people’s frontyard trees, as there are no orchards or farms, so the cost is outrageous ($4 a pound.)
  9. This one ties into our town being very isolated. There is very little to do here. Our only stores are very expensive locally-owned shops. There is no bookstore (!), we get one movie every three weeks, and very few community events. I think that community is going to be the only way to really get through whatever is coming, and there just isn’t a cohesive one here unless you’re religious.
  10. Which brings me to religion. This town is about 75 percent Mormon. There are is a Baptist and a Catholic church as well. I have aboslutely no problem with any religion. None. But mine (Unitarian) isn’t represented. And neither is Jewish, Buddist, Quaker…this is a very non-diverse place to live. So maybe number 10 is about diversity. All activity revolves around church here, and if you don’t belong, you don’t belong.

All of that being said, I’ve really enjoyed living here. It is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived. The people are kind, I’ve got job experience I couldn’t have in a bigger city, and it was a good segway between Las Vegas and where-ever we end up.

But it’s time to start seriously planning to move on. For whatever reason, I’ve got Seattle stuck in my head. We’re still investigating though. Our goal is to move in 18 months, when Adrienne graduates from High School. Secretly, I want to be prepared to move much quicker if the state of the world doesn’t cooperate with making this place safe for that long.

Here is our list of requirements from The New Place:

  • We want to stay in the West, although we’re open to moving further away from Las Vegas (and our families) than we were two years ago. I have a feeling we’re paving the way for a mass exodus of our families to where we are.
  • Public transportation is a must–well established and inexpensive. Being near an Amtrak station is also important.
  • A thriving homeschool community.
  • Politically liberal.
  • A decent growing season, and plenty of rain so that irrigation isn’t necessary.
  • Naturally beautiful. This is important to me for the long-term. I spent 20 years in ugly Las Vegas, that’s long enough. The color green is important to these desert dwellers, too.
  • Casinos. Kevin is a poker dealer. He may not be able to be one forever, but while the casinos are still open (and I suspect they’ll be amongst the last things to go under) this is where his experience is.
  • An attitude of sustainability. I doubt there is any city that is fully prepared for I’m afraid is coming, but there are places that are more open to the changes that will have to be made.
  • Affordable housing. Where we live now is so-so in this area. We pay $1200 a month for a four-bedroom house (a teenage boy, a teenage girl, and a preschooler…they don’t combine well. Not to say they couldn’t, if need be.) There are places, obviously, with much much higher rents. We don’t want to live there.
  • A place that is neither extremely hot or extremely cold. We want to be able to survive without electricity if we have to.
  • A place neat enough that our families would want to come there if (when) things get too bad in Vegas for that city to be liveable.
  • We want to live in a small city. I think the days of living off the land out in the middle of no where are limited, unless a family is completely self-sufficient.
  • This is a personal thing, but I would LOVE to live somewhere with an active community of writers.

For some reason, about six months ago I got it into my head that we should move to Seattle. I’ve never been there, so I don’t have any personal experience that I’m drawing on. It is in the West, my sister’s house near Boise is about halfway between Vegas and Seattle, so it’s got a pathway to our families. From what I can tell my perusing Craigslist, we can rent there for not too much more than we are renting here and pay is much higher for both casino and social workers. There is a homeschool community and a writing community. It’s liberal, gets plenty of rain, and the ocean keeps the weather temperate (we have a 110 degree swing here, from highest high to lowest low during the year. In the summer the days can be in the 90s and suddenly in the 50s as soon as the sun goes down. The ocean keeps those wild swings from happening.) My brothers are all in their 20s, and Seattle would appeal to them. Seattle also has several casinos, and a casino cruise ship industry. Seattle has about 500,000 people according to Wikipedia, which is 1/4 the size of Las Vegas and seems perfect to a little big to me.

Another option is Oregon. We have distant family in Portland, and Oregon is closer to Idaho than Washington is. 

Research is called for. Good thing I love research!

I’d love to hear from you guys about what you think about sustainable places to live.

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Shopping round up…and just some thoughts

Don’t forget, I’m giving away a set of these:

I lost my grocery reciept. So I’m just going to have to tell you that I spent about $78.00 and saved about $35.00, which is about 45%. Not too shabby. Here are some highlights:

1. I bought three 5 lb. packs of chicken legs quarters for about $10. So…less than a dollar a pound. It’s super rare for me to get meat for less than $1.50 a pound, so I was happy. Each package was $3.95. The normal price was $8.95.

2. I stocked up on some treaty things…brownie mix for 89 cents. My big kids are big enough to whip these up themselves, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying cookies and other snacks.

3. We’ve been doing pretty good on just buying the loss leaders and other things that are priced well. We only have one grocery store, so there’s no competition and no going around to lots of stores.

Check out more round up here.

Okay. No onward. I’ve got a bee in my bonnet to move. Not just to a new house, to a new place. I love my mountains. I do. But I miss the ocean. And I keep finding myself longing to get out of the desert and to some place green. Really green.

There are other reasons to move on. For one thing, we live in a very conservative, very non-diverse area. One thing that stopped me from staying in rural Nevada when Adrienne and Nick were small was the deep desire to make sure that they grew up being exposed to diverse people, diverse ideas. Our little town is very insular. There is so little diversity, that there has been times when Adrienne stood out like a sore thumb because she was the only brunette in her whole class. I don’t necessarily think it’s bad for my kids to have the experience of not being in the majority. And Adrienne and Nick already are mostly grown and did that growing in diversity. But Ruby is five. I’m not comfortable with her thinking that this place, where nearly everyone is just like her, is all there is.

I also think we need to move to a place where people are more accepting of differences. Nicholas, as ya’ll know, has Asperger’s Syndrome. There are some really wonderful things about living here with him. For one thing, he can run around, ride his bike, talk to strangers, and I can be reasonably sure he’s not about to be abducted by a serial killer or run over by a car. You wouldn’t think you’d still have to worry about that with a 16-year-old. You’d be wrong. Nick trusts everyone, and he never remembers to look both ways. Our whole town has a 25 mph speed limit. Good thing, I’m telling you. But–there is no one here like Nick. There are no support groups, or peers, or … there is no one who really gets him. I want that for him.

So here’s where I have my heart set on:

Seattle. I feel drawn there. I have no real reason. I’ve never been there. I love the idea of mountains and the ocean. I love the progressive reputation. I love that Aspie techies like my kid are drawn there. There are lots of casinos there, so Kevin should be able to find work. There are also lots of social programs, so I should be able to find work too. It helps that Adrienne has her heart set on the Pacific Northwest for school, and would love it if we all moved there so she can meet people her senior year and then are close when she’s at college.

Here’s my plan. For the next six months, I’m going to try to save and scrimp and earn as much money as I can so that if we decide to move this summer, we can. My goal is $10,000. I’ll talk more later about the ideas I have on this. I’m so excited! I love change. (Poor Kevin is getting hives though.)

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