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mSOLAVOLT

am shaken from dream land by the musical beeping of the Radio Shack LED alarm clock. I stumble into the bathroom that is toasty and warm from the thermal art heater that has been on all night. I take the usual 20 minute shower with the Paloma instant hot water heater. After a quick once over the teeth and gums with the Braun electric tooth brush I am once again ready to battle the elements.

Remembering back, it's been over two and a half years since I moved onto this ten acre parcel located in the middle of Weyerhauser's 500,000 acre Mt. St. Helens tree farm. I am the only resident. P.U.D. power is five miles away. The plan was to log the old growth timber, sell the log cabin and property, and take the money and run. Then George at the local Radio Shack told me about Home Power magazine, written by some hippies in Oregon and how they strung water-powered alternators together to generate electricity.

I turn on my video camera surveillance monitor and scope out the driveway gate, the water intake pipe, the water filter, and the four nozzle Harris hydro at the base of the 70 foot water fall. All is well. I reposition the satellite dish to pick up ESPN 2 for a 30 minute work out with the muscle bound fitness women. I glance out the window of my hovel at the millions of 30 foot high Weyco super trees that stretch out before me. I am reminded that my struggle to survive in this wilderness is not unlike those early pioneer men and women who, like me, had a meager toe-hold on civilization and I gain strength from the knowledge that we are of kindred spirit. This mystical revelation is interrupted by the chime of my toaster oven telling me that my strawberry Pop Tarts are ready.

With my energy renewed I am prepared to take on the chores of life on the edge. I power up my IBM Aptiva and check the E-Mail. I then send a fax over the cell phone data interface. After checking the voice mail messages, I hear nothing that cannot wait. Vacuuming the rugs and Dust Busting everything else, I am then faced with the outdoor chores: clean the decks with the North Star hot pressure washer then drill and mount a Genie garage door opener. I take a break from my labors by downloading some new Duke Nukem levels from the internet with the Sky Link data demodulator. I view the midday Headline News reports of the ferocious storms that again pound the Northwest. Thousands are

Hydro Humor without power and hundreds more huddle in Red Cross shelters. I watch all this on CNN. It is very exciting.

The sun sets early this time of year and I prepare the evening meal. I nuke a couple of potatoes in the microwave to go with the seasoned turkey breasts that have been simmering in the crock pot since morning.

Like the early settlers, having sufficient supplies on hand decides success or failure in this harsh, unforgiving land. To my dismay I find that I only have two more bottles of Boones Farm. As I finish my pioneer meal, darkness comes like a black quilt. I am startled as the outdoor solar lights flick on. I feel like the cave guys in the movie "Quest for Fire." I up the thermostat on the Hearthstone a few more turns, put the Lazy Boy on partial recline, and strategically place the hot air popcorn and the ice-cubed Coke from the Sun Frost.

With the big screen surround sound on mute I notice how, in the quietness of the forest, one can hear the smallest of nature's sounds: the rustle of the dead leaves, the cooing of the night birds, the hum of the dishwasher. The HBO weekend movie begins as the fire light dances across the cabin floor, a scene reminiscent of the Native American lighted tepee campfires, and I am one with the land.

As the strength flows from my weary limbs I realize that I will soon fall victim to sleep. Thankfully, I have enough presence of mind to hit the record button on the remote so I will not miss the movie's ending. As if it had a mind of its own, the chair slides into full recline and the heat/massage comes on. Visions of musket-toting pioneers, buffalo-robed Indians, and lean, mean, coon-hatted mountain men dance in my head and welcome me into their brotherhood.

We off-grid folks certainly are a hardy lot. You guys want a Pop Tart?

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Author: Robert Costello, PO Box 04, Carrolls, WA 98609

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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