Monday, January 31, 2011

Pipes Get Cold, Too

Brrrr. It’s that time of year when a major inconvenience can happen–like your home’s pipes freeing. Frozen pipes can be costly, messy...and avoidable.

Did you know that an eighth-inch crack in a pipe can allow 250 gallons of water to leak in a 24-hour period? That amount of water can do enormous damage to hardwood floors, carpets, furniture and appliances, and the possibility of health-threatening mold, to say nothing of the cost of cleanup and repairs.

Although most home insurance policies cover damage caused by burst pipes, it’s far better to avoid the hassle in the first place. Following are some steps to take to avoid frozen pipes:

– Cover exposed pipes with insulation. At risk areas include exposed pipes in your garage, in crawl spaces and in the attic. Tubular foam is efficient in most cases, or for colder weather, heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables may be necessary. Carefully follow manufacturers instructions.

– Cover outside valves with faucet protectors.

– Disconnect and drain hoses and lawn sprinklers during the winter months.

– Keep your house heated at a minimum 60F degrees.

– During extreme cold weather, allow your inside hot and cold faucets to slowly drip, allowing water to keep moving in the pipes.

– Seal air leaks, often found in the garage or under-sink cabinets, to prevent cold outside air from coming inside. Use caulk or insulation as a sealant.

– On very cold, windy nights, leave under-sink cabinet doors open at night.

When you discover a frozen pipe, leave the faucet open a bit to allow pressure to escape to protect the pipe from further damage. Also, close the valve leading to the pipe. Check the length of the pipe for holes, cracks or breaks.

If you find that the pipe has been compromised, you may be able to repair the pipe yourself if the damage is minimal. You may need to use a patch kit, following the manufacturer’s instructions for repair. Or, it may be necessary to have a professional plumber make repairs.

To thaw the pipe, use a hair dryer, a heat gun at a low setting, or a small electric heater. If you use an electrical implement, ensure that the cords are out of the water. Another method of thawing is wrapping the pipes with towels and pouring hot water over them.

If your home is water damaged, turn off the water at the source. Call your insurance company immediately. If you get the okay to begin repairs, take photos and keep all damaged items and repair receipts so that you can prove your losses. Remove wet carpeting as soon as possible so that the floors underneath aren’t further damaged. Avoid expensive repairs until an insurance adjuster has evaluated your damage.

Frozen pipes can seriously damage an RV, too. Take precautions to ensure your RV is winterized by draining the pipes and using RV antifreeze where applicable. Check with your RV dealer for recommendations for your specific rig.

The best plan to prevent damage by frozen pipes in your home, cabin or RV is by taking a few preventive measures. Prevention is better than having to make repairs once the damage happens.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Right Now is Perfect

When Carol Anita Ryan sets sail for the South Pacific, she expects adventure, romance and memories to last a lifetime. In Right Now is Perfect, Ryan vividly chronicles her life at sea with refreshing candor.

Setting sail with the one you love is special and unique. Carol and Bill have known one another for some time. Carol, a computer analyst, and Bill, an archaeologist, but mostly a free-spirit, have travel and adventure in common. They’ve shared dreams and goals and are ready to have an adventure of a lifetime together. Along with Bill’s sister and her husband, they embark on a journey to the South Pacific on a 36-foot sailboat, the Velela.

The joys of sailing are abundant and Ryan describes them with delight and clarity: “...shower of shooting stars...a festival of dancing dolphin...a day-glow of bioluminescence....” She clearly embraces all the beauty the sea offers. The story also shows the downside of living and sailing in cramped quarters and enduring interpersonal and sibling rivalries and resentments. There’s the drudgery of cooking on a rocking, pitching vessel and handling sails in rough seas. It’s tough being a good sport when your bed is wet from salty sea spray and you’re suffering from lack of sleep. Life at sea is a contradiction of paradise tempered with human and environmental elements. Finances are a concern every time you reach a landfall. Only the wind is free.

Ryan does a remarkable job of weaving South Pacific history with their explorations at landfalls. Colorful people, both native and fellow yachtsmen, become an important part of their journey.

Romantically, Carol and Bill are often led by different conceptions. At times Carol feels alone and at odds with their relationship. Bill often feels restrained by the desire to follow his own dreams. At times he’s oblivious to Carol’s needs.

Life after being at sea isn’t always smooth sailing, either, especially with the sting of betrayal to both heart and body. Ryan’s honest appraisal of her situation is unflinching and poignant.

Carol Anita Ryan’s bitter-sweet memoir is a fascinating read and shows how inner-strength and courage can change the course of one’s life. For more information about Right Now is Perfect, visit the author’s website,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Man Overboard!

When we sailed the South Pacific, many passages were ideal–good winds and calm seas. But a few weren’t so great. One of the worst, between the Kingdom of Tonga and Hawaii, was the most difficult of our 14-month trip.

This leg of the journey was known for its difficulty. For one thing, the 3,000 miles was against the wind. When “beating” against the wind, the boat climbs each wave–and some of those waves were very high–and then comes crashing down. Beating makes for a really uncomfortable ride. It’s tough to manage anything on a constantly pitching boat.

On day 28 of a 32-day passage, we were holding our own, tired, but making it. After almost 10,000 nautical miles at sea, standing watch 4 hours on, 4 hours off, we could operate on personal autopilot much of the time, just doing whatever it took to keep going north.

At noon Bruce was standing watch, but I was in the cockpit with him. A squall had just hit and we desperately needed to reduce sail. During the last three days, we had passed just west of a tropical depression, and were getting even rougher weather.

Bruce clipped on his life-line and went up on deck to put another reef in the mainsail; I stayed in the cockpit to sheet it in. I had just finished securing the line when I heard a loud BANG!

I started to ask Bruce what that noise was, but I couldn’t see him. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something yellow float by. It was Bruce in his foul weather gear! Oh, God! This can’t be happening!

We had verbally and mentally rehearsed the man overboard procedures many times. My mind reeled with what I had to do:
– Throw the man overboard pole equipped with a strobe light and flotation ring to him.
– Keep track of him. That’s hard to do with only one person left on board.
– Start the engine. Make sure no lines are dragging that could get into the propeller.
– Drop the sails since they will now be working against the boat.
– Get the boat turned around, following the reciprocal course–the exact opposite of the direction we were now heading. (To calculate the reciprocal course, add 180 degrees to the current compass course.)

This sounds difficult, but really, it’s even worse. It’s a big ocean. A person in the water very soon becomes hidden by waves–eight foot seas can block the view of someone in the water in just seconds.

To be perfectly honest, I’d always thought that if one of us had to fall overboard, I hoped it would be me. I knew Bruce could find me, but I wasn’t that sure I’d be able to find him.

All this screamed through my mind. Even with the mainsail down and with only the jib up, we were still charging along at 7 knots. I ran toward the overboard pole as I scanned the sea for him. There he was, right alongside the boat! I couldn’t believe it! When I had seen him before, I had assumed his life-line had broken, but no, he was being dragged by his life-line. He was still attached!

To back up a bit.... While Bruce took a reef in the mainsail, the topping lift, a line attached from the top of the mast to the end of the boom, broke. The boom fell down against the railing (making that loud BANG) and Bruce went head-over-heals over the boom and into the water, his right leg tangling in the life-line.

Bruce, working against the boat’s forward motion, struggled to the surface. I leaned against the winch so that I wouldn’t be pulled into the water, and grabbed Bruce’s hands. His eyes flooded with relief. Fortunately, he fell from the side of the boat that was closer to the water since we were heeled over. I pulled him over to a lower part of the rail, where he could get a hold. He reached up to the rail as I grabbed his harness and pulled with all my might. He pulled too and slowly, slowly, he climbed over the rail. I untangled his leg from the life-line and helped him into the cockpit.

We clung to one another. Safe! He was safe! We couldn’t get over how fortunate we were.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Lake of Fire

Laura Fielding and Cord Sutton’s first meeting isn’t under ideal conditions. Laura, dressed as a boy, but really the daughter of a wealthy banker, is a passenger on a stage going to Yellowstone. She’s meeting her father who is traveling to Yellowstone to financially back the purchase of the Lake Hotel, an elegant resort on the lake shore in Yellowstone Park. She’s also meeting, for the first time, the man her father hopes she will marry, the man who plans to buy the hotel. The stage is waylaid by bandits and she barely escapes. Her rescuer, Cord Sutton, appears to be a rough mountain man, but in reality is wealthy and has the intention of buying the Lake Hotel as well.

During their three days of wilderness travel, neither reveals their true background. The trip, at first strained, becomes a delightful adventure for Laura, who has lived a pampered and sheltered life. Cord finds Laura a refreshing change from other women he’s known–she has spunk and an adventurous spirit. They both regret their trip coming to an end.

Arriving at the same destination, they learn the truth of their true identities. Laura learns that Cord is not only wealthy, but is one-quarter Nez Perce. Cord learns that Laura is the daughter of his opponent’s financial backer. Many factors complicate their budding relationship--betrayal, murder, jealousy, arson, bigotry. And a love that won’t be denied.

Linda Jacobs has done it again–produced yet another thrilling masterpiece in her Yellowstone Series. Although Lake of Fire takes place largely in the Yellowstone Park area, the three books are related through location, not as continuous stories. Lake of Fire takes place in 1900.

The author, herself a trained geologist, demonstrates her vast knowledge of the Yellowstone region’s geology. She weaves historically accurate facts with fiction, creating a believable, compelling story. Lake of Fire is a brilliant novel, with all the elements to create an engaging, satisfying read.

To learn more about Linda Jacobs and the other Yellowstone-series books, visit her website,

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Hero is....

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
. . . . Christopher Reeve

Recently, I attended a most extraordinary event: the 2010 Real Heroes Breakfast, sponsored by the American Red Cross, Snohomish County Chapter, WA. This is an annual event, popular at venues around the country. This year about 1,000 people attended the breakfast in Marysville, WA. Because of their huge capacity conference rooms, the Tulalip Resort Casino hosted the event. The facility, recently built and equipped with all the amenities for handling large crowds, was perfect for the occasion. Rather than straining to see the podium, guests watched the program on one of many video screens mounted throughout the room.

The Real Heroes Breakfast grew out of a desire to develop an event that is closely related to the American Red Cross mission of responding in times of emergency. The event honors the longstanding tradition of heroism by recognizing local citizens who have made a difference through individual acts of courage.

Seated at 8-person tables, we were served a delightful breakfast. Just as we were finishing our meal, the emcee, Pat Cashman, a humorous, inspirational speaker, began an introduction and, as he launched into the actual reason for the gathering, I could see why this program has been so popular around the country.

Several Northwest people were nominated for the special Real Heroes award. Stories of those chosen were presented to us on pre-screened videos. Following are brief stories of those honored:

Real Heroes happened to be...

...on a mountain: Dr. Rick Thurmer, while descending from the summit of Mount Everest, with diminishing oxygen, severe fatigue, and facing inclement weather, risked his own life to save a fellow climber.

...on a ferry: Kingston D Watch, Washington State Ferries, while on a routine crossing, rescued two distressed divers, administering CPR on a “blue” and unresponsive woman, saving her life. a store: Fred Meyer employees, Raquel Geisler, Chuck Kern and Brandi Scott, administered first aid to a woman suffering anaphylactic shock. Brandi Scott sprinted across the store to her purse which contained an epinephrine pen. The injection was administered just as the victim had stopped breathing, saving her life. a golf course: William Byerley, Cabe Benedetto, Erik McCaughan and Tyler Mayerchak just happened to come together at the right time and stepped up to save a woman whose car drove into a golf-course pond. an athletic club: Greg Boland, Eric Brunson, Kevin Kleya, Marc Lainhart and Dr. Duncan Riddell, employees and clients at the Harbor Square Athletic Club in Edmonds, WA, worked together to save the life of a man suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. sea: Fishermen Glen Gobin, Tony Gobin and Steven Gobin came to the rescue of two other fishermen as they clung to an ice cooler and their lives when their boat took on water and sank in the frigid waters of Puget Sound. school: Scott Justesen, Eric Lemus and EllRoy Oster, jumped into action when one of their fellow school district maintenance workers had a heart attack. They performed CPR to keep blood pumping to vital organs and oxygen to his brain until help arrived.

...on a country road: Priscilla Trivisonno and four other teens were trapped in a car that rolled over and subsequently caught on fire. All were injured, but managed to escape, except for the driver who remained trapped inside. Working alone, Priscilla, finding the driver’s door stuck closed, went to the passenger side and pulled the male driver, much larger than herself, a safe distance away. Although the driver suffered burns and massive injuries, Priscilla kept him calm until aid arrived. a company party: Linda Coan, at a holiday function with fellow employees, noticed a manager coughing and bending over her plate. Linda asked the manager if she was having trouble breathing. The choking woman nodded “yes.” Linda performed the Heimlich maneuver, giving two quick upward thrusts, releasing the obstacle.

Also honored were Chris Isenberg, Josh Estes and David Herrera, employees at the Kimberly-Clark Everett Mill, who made a commitment and implemented a plan for safety and personal accountability. The Everett Mill reached the milestone of “one million hours safe,” a tribute to those who designed the plan that made a significant difference in personal safety.

We applaud these ordinary people who effectively responded to extraordinary emergency situations. More often than not, that’s the true definition of “hero.”