The case of the disappearing appointment

This week the county reports the total number of Covid cases up 3261 to 52,260, of which 2434 of those new cases are confirmed and 1693 are active. There have been 11 new deaths for a total of 608. Most disturbing is our rate of new cases per 100K population, which is up 277.9 to 715.1! Just a few months ago, it was almost down to 100.

We are up at the crack of dawn this morning, and if this post doesn’t go up until later today, you will know that I didn’t have time to finish it before we had to leave for the eye doctor. Wayne had his first cataract surgery yesterday, and he’s going in to have the bandage removed and the eye checked (and presumably his second eye scheduled). Yesterday, we spent most of our day doing that. We left before noon for the clinic, which is almost an hour’s drive from home. The receptionist told us the it usually takes about 1 3/4 hours once they take him back, but Wayne’s took more like 2 1/2 hours. He said later that they left him sitting back there for an hour before they took him in. I was actually there so long that I finished reading my book and had nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs (because my phone battery was low). After he was finally done, we went to our favorite barbecue place, which is quite some way from our house so we don’t get to go there very often, but is on the way home from that clinic. By the time we got home, it was almost dark, around 5 PM.

Wayne doesn’t have his appointment yet for his second eye. I am wondering how that’s going to work when I have it done. My friend Ray just had his done before he visited in November, and they did his eyes one week apart. But I asked a lady who was in the waiting room if she had had her eyes done (she was waiting for her husband), and she said they did hers about a month apart. Since I will not be able to read without plain corrective glasses like the ones you get at Walgreen’s after I have my first eye done, I am wondering how I will be able to read between getting my first eye done and my second eye. One eye will need my reading glasses (or I could do without glasses) and the other eye will need the cheaper corrective glasses. If I punch the lens out of the corrective glasses just for the month, then that’ll render them useless afterwards. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to buy a cheap pair then get nicer ones for after my second eye is done.

Last Wednesday was Luke’s grooming appointment, which means that Christine and I do something together. We decided to try a different breakfast restaurant. We drove to a restaurant called Kitchen Table in Orchards (about 20 minutes from Christine’s house), but it was closed because of equipment problems. So, we drove to another one in Salmon Creek. I had been to the one in Orchards before. Christine wasn’t really impressed, as had been my first impression, too, although generally a breakfast place is a breakfast place.

On Thursday I went to exercise class for the first time in two weeks. Tuesday’s was canceled, and Thursday we had a different teacher. She had a more random-seeming approach. Carla always seems very organized and like she has planned what she is going to do. Also, she keeps us moving for almost the entire hour, whereas Mary just seemed to be making it up as she went and stopped several times to ask us what we wanted to do. Also, Carla tends to do things in eights. We’ll do a bunch of something and then something else and then something else, and then we’ll do them over in groups of eight, whereas Mary just had us do something for a long time and then said to do two more. Maja said her muscles ached more with Mary, but I think I prefer Carla’s approach. I didn’t ever feel like I got my cardio up, but I did have to stop doing some things before Mary did.

On Friday I had my yearly mammogram, and by that afternoon I got back the results already (normal), which began the story of the disappearing appointment. My doctor’s assistant, a guy named Chris, called me to tell me the results and say that I was due in for tests. He offered to transfer me to the receptionist to make that appointment, and she gave me a choice of Monday or Friday this week. I picked Monday and scheduled, I thought, an appointment for 10:40. Then on Sunday, we got the usual automated reminder. Wayne took it. Usually he makes me listen to the ones for me, whereas I usually just accept his for him. This time he didn’t do that. He checked it on the calendar, accepted it, and then told me that it matched the time on the calendar, 10. Well, the calendar said 10:40, so I wasn’t sure if he misread my writing or the time was really different.

So, on Monday I called the lab in Camas, which is where our doctor’s office is, but she said she wasn’t taking appointments right now. She said she would look to see if I was scheduled for the Salmon Creek lab, where I would rather go anyway, because it’s about half an hour closer. But she said I wasn’t on that appointment list either. She made me an appointment at the Salmon Creek lab for next week. Still, we did get that confirmation call. Later on in the day, I wondered if by some misunderstanding, my appointment was actually with the doctor. But when I started to call the receptionist again, I realized it was the same number as the person I talked to originally, so surely she would have checked to see if I had an appointment with the doctor. I guess this is one time when it would have been good to have listened to the reminder myself.

On Friday I also realized that I needed to take down the Christmas tree this weekend, because Wayne is unable to lift more than 20 pounds after his surgery for two weeks, so he wouldn’t be able to help me get the tree out. So, I spent a couple of days taking down ornaments and lights and then Wayne came in with his chain saw and cut the tree into pieces. I still haven’t taken down the rest of the ornaments or the outside lights.

On Monday I felt lethargic after a night spent with my stomach bothering me. I probably fell asleep around 3 AM, and then some idiot called us at 6:30 in the morning, when I was finally heavily asleep and so was Wayne. Later in the day, Wayne had to go to the Main Street eye doctors to pick up some eye drops, and he wanted me to go with him. This should have been a fairly short trip, but it ended up taking a couple of hours, because the receptionist was so busy when he arrived. Luke and I waited in the car for about 20 minutes. On the way back, I felt very sleepy, and we had less than an hour after returning home before I had to leave for art class. All the way to art class, I had that heavy feeling like I was going to fall asleep any minute, so by the time I got there, I decided to turn around and go home. I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate that evening.

Our weather went from being unusually cold with snow to unusually warm. It has been in the 40’s and even 50’s the past week or two. The snow is all gone, and it has rained most of the days this week. At least once when I tried to take Luke for a walk, he didn’t want to go.

The other day, we turned to drive up our driveway and there was a deer in our orchard. Looking more closely, I saw another deer, that little fawn, on the stairs from our lower drive to the bottom of the orchard. Nice.

We are back from the eye doctor. It looks like Wayne is going to have to continue to wear glasses, because they were unable to correct his astigmatism. I hope they will be able to do mine, because I don’t want to have to wear glasses afterwards. Wayne can’t drive until they tell him he can, but he has had the bandage removed from his eye and says he can see well even without his glasses. We stopped on the way home at Walmart so he could get the lens removed from one side of his glasses.

A week of snow, now melting

Oh dear. This week the county reports our total number of Covid cases up 1493 to 48,999. That’s the most we’ve had in a long time. Of those cases, 1195 are confirmed and 715 are active. Deaths are up 9, and our rate of new cases per 100K population has gone up 174.1 to 437.3. That might be the highest it has been since they started counting.

Here it is last weekend when we finally got some sun. The sun sparkled off the snow on the ends of the branches.

We have had snow, snow, snow since Christmas evening, every day until Sunday. Even since it has gotten warmer this week, the driving on Monday morning, when I had a doctor’s appointment early, was quite interesting (after freezing rain on snow). Even worse, on Monday night when I was driving home from art class, once I was up in our more northern area, it was snowing so hard that I could barely see. Down in the valley, it had been raining, and not that hard, but you know how when it is snowing, it seems to blow right into your windshield .

However, starting Tuesday it began raining in earnest, so it won’t be too long before it is gone. No more snow is forecast for a while. It’s been nice to have it during the holidays, though.

We went out to Battle Ground once last week. Wayne had an appointment with the CPA on Wednesday, so I dropped him off and went shopping for New Year’s Eve. Once we got off the main road nearest our house, the driving wasn’t bad.

On New Year’s Eve, I made hot artichoke crab dip to bring to the party at my niece’s house and purchased bacon/cheddar and wasabi cucumber dip. My brother and niece had bought a lovely display of charcuterie, with lots of yummy cheeses and some duck pâté and pickled herring. I had always resisted the herring before, which Wayne sometimes wants to get for New Year’s, but it was actually good, surprisingly sweet. Ares also shot off some fireworks, although going out to see that was when I discovered that replacing the soles of my winter boots with the ones that support my arches left my feet cold when I was standing around in the snow waiting for the kids to use sparklers. Unfortunately, both insoles don’t fit in the boot with my foot.

We didn’t even manage to make it up to 9 PM, the time they had chosen to celebrate the New Year. I ate too much and just wanted to go home, so Wayne and I left around 8:15. Still, we accidentally stayed up until after midnight. It was just a few minutes after when I took Luke out for his late-night outing. I think it’s the first time we’ve seen midnight on New Year’s Eve in a long time, which unfortunately meant that it threw our systems off the next day.

As far as exercise is concerned, I didn’t get much the last week and neither did Luke. An embarrassing incident during our walk in the snow the Sunday before last resulted in my inner thighs being chafed for almost a week. The first day I felt normal was Sunday. However, on Thursday my brother came by and I felt good enough for me and Luke to accompany him back to my niece’s driveway. It was snowing pretty hard, so that was kind of fun. Then the last couple of days since everything started melting, it has been too slippery for me to want to venture out for fear of falling. I’m hoping today will turn out to be a good one for a walk, because Luke needs the exercise.

As for my senior fitness class, it has been cancelled every time since the week before last. I’m not sure if there is a problem with the instructor or what’s going on, because at least on Tuesday the weather in the valley wasn’t bad enough for them to cancel because of that, although last week it may have been. Worse news for me is that tai chi, which was supposed to start back up on the 15th, although at a location much farther away than we had been going, is now delayed again. So far, exercise class is still scheduled for Thursday, so maybe that’ll be the first time I go back for about three weeks.

I know the deer are around us a lot, but in the past year or so we haven’t seen much of them. However, the snow on the ground has allowed us to see them better further away. Luke began growling one afternoon, and because he was pointed in a different direction than usual when he seems to be upset at nothing, I looked and saw a fawn near our garden shed. She could obviously hear Luke barking and could see us, so she stood there and stared at us for a while, and then she left. I didn’t see any other deer around her, but that’s not to say they weren’t nearby. Then on Sunday, Luke started barking on the back porch, again persistently enough for me to think there was something to look at, and I saw six deer run through the woods on the other side of our pond. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to see them back there, but they were clearly visible on the background of snow. They ran through our pasture and up onto the road, briefly, then across to the neighbor’s property and the woods by their house. They may have been going to the woods at my niece’s, which is just on the other side and where they spend a lot of time, or the woods behind the farm on the main road. I haven’t ever seen six at once in our area.

A white Christmas night and the week afterwards

This week the county reports the number of Covid cases up 811 for a total of 47,506, 747 of which are confirmed cases. The number of active cases is up 184, and there have been 9 new deaths. Our rate of new cases per 100K population has gone down 10.4, though.

I spent the end of last week getting ready for Christmas. My brother and his wife actually arrived a day earlier than we expected, on Thursday, so they came over that night to watch a movie I had recorded for Christmas, Mon Oncle Antoine. It takes place at Christmas but is actually a bit of a downer, so not exactly a great choice for a Christmas movie, although a good movie overall. Lucie had worked with the director and one of the actresses, as it was a French-Canadian movie. It was nice to see the two of them before Christmas, even though I didn’t really get to watch a suitable Christmas movie on Christmas Eve, as I usually do.

On Friday I varnished the painting that I gave them last summer, and which they brought back to be varnished. Aside from cleaning the bathrooms and doing laundry, all I did besides that was read and listen to Christmas music.

On Friday night I roasted a chicken for dinner, and then we started looking for something Christmassy to watch. I hoped to talk Wayne into A Pocketful of Miracles, which I had recorded for my Christmas movie, but just as I was going to ask him to watch it, he accidentally deleted it instead of the news. (Anyway, he usually goes to bed when I watch my Christmas movie.) So, we looked for something on Netflix, but the choice wasn’t great. We ended up watching a Shaun the Sheep Christmas movie, but it wasn’t that good. It was more like an American kid’s movie than we have been accustomed to seeing from that studio. (We love Wallace and Gromit.) Wayne went away in the middle of it.

Christmas morning was a mixed bag. Wayne has notoriously been a poor present giver, and it’s a good thing I picked out a nice sweater for myself and told him to buy it, because the rest of my gifts were not ones I wanted. They were all the same type of gift, and what I can say about them is they were things I dislike getting that he gets for me every few years for some reason. That’s all I’m going to say. I got him several books and DVDs I knew he would like as well as some undershirts and a new wallet. We have already watched all the episodes on the Jack Irish DVD, and he is reading one of the books.

My niece wanted us to come over in the late morning/early afternoon to exchange gifts. It was kind of hard to get Wayne going. I had everything ready and Luke in the crate, and as I was picking up my purse, he decided to go out and feed the birds. But we finally got there, just as they were about to depart to walk over to our house. We had a fun few hours, and then I had to go home to make scalloped potatoes as my share of the Christmas dinner.

I was a bit late with them, because they are supposed to be almost dry when they are done. My oven seems to cook low at lower temperatures and high at higher ones, so even though I put the temperature up a bit from the recipe, they weren’t quite done by 5 PM, and everyone had been over there since 4:20. I finally gave up and took them over a little soupy, but they were very popular. They were slightly al dente, which they’re not supposed to be, but everyone liked them.

Here’s my little blue spruce on Sunday night, after a night and day of snow.

We had a nice Christmas night and went home around 7:30 because Luke had been in the slammer almost all day. It had been fitfully snowing and raining for two days with no accumulation since last Monday, which had melted off, but it started snowing in earnest that night and has been snowing ever since. Right now we have about four or five inches. Everything looks really beautiful.

The same blue spruce the next morning with a little more snow. You can see the background better in this photo and how much the trees filled with snow.

On Sunday it snowed all day. Luke and I walked over to Katrina’s house on Sunday morning, only to find my sister, brother, and sister-in-law on the way out to go for a walk at Moulton Falls Park. To join them, Luke and I walked home and then got right into the car. My sister had told me they would start from the upper lot, but when I got there, it was closed, so I went to the next lot right around the corner and thought I had parked next to her car. However, about a mile into the park, I got a text from them saying they were at the Hantwick entrance, clear across the park. Since I had been walked already for about a mile, I decided to keep going, and we met midway. My sister and sister-in-law decided to go back, but my brother walked along with me back to my car. The park was really beautiful, but unfortunately, my phone died as I was attempting to take a picture of it. I ended up covered in snow and found out that my winter jacket isn’t waterproof. When I got home, I had to change almost all my clothes.

My fuchia plant still alive, with icicles. The snow at the front of the deck is about five inches deep.

We had a really interesting drive home, too. The roads were bad but no challenge for either of our Subarus. However, on the way out, we passed a truck in a ditch and an SUV crammed up against the railroad track. It’s a good thing not many trains come up that way. On the way back, we were halfway to Yacolt when we encountered a big accident and had to turn around. The rural roads around our house make a big loop, so we just went the other way. When we got back to the park, there was a car in the ditch there and another one blocking our lane that had either been hit by it or was trying to help it. It was hard to say which. We had to drive around them on the wrong side of the road. Then I was surprised when my sister, who was driving the lead car, chose to go over Yacolt Mountain instead of the longer way out to the highway and back into our area on other, more traveled roads. The road up the mountain has lots of twists and turns and two 90-degree turns at the top. But we were fine driving about 25 miles an hour. We got home around 2:30.

On Monday I was hanging around the house while Wayne drove into Vancouver for an eye appointment when my brother asked if I wanted to come over and watch a movie with them. I did but was unable to walk because I had some chafing from the walk the day before. But my brother kindly offered to clear off his car and come get me. So, I spent a couple of hours with them watching the movie and then my sister drove me home.

On Tuesday I was home reading when my sister-in-law dropped by. It was still snowing, so we had even more snow, and she was out for a walk with my sister. She visited with us for about a half hour and then walked back. It’s nice to have visitors. Later that day I finally watched A Pocketful of Miracles on DVD.

It’s been really nice having these quiet days with all the snow. My exercise class was canceled on Tuesday (I skipped it last week so that I could clean the house), and I canceled out of my Monday art class because of the conflict with Wayne’s eye appointment, although they told me that they would probably close that evening anyway. Another storm was supposed to come in Monday night, and I’m not sure if it did, but it certainly kept snowing, although the flakes became very small on Tuesday. Luke didn’t seem to react much to the snow until Tuesday morning, when about five inches of it were on the ground, and then he tore around like an idiot. He loves snow. This morning it is still snowing a little bit.

Heading for a white Christmas (I hope)

This week, the county reports a total number of 46,695 Covid cases, 660 more since last week, 526 confirmed and 134 probable. The number of active cases is down 90, which is good news, but there have been 18 more deaths. The rate of new cases per 100K population has gone up, though, for the first time in months, up 36.4 to 273.6.

Our second snowfall of the year

We had snow again on Saturday, and it stuck around for most of the day despite being rained on. However, it looks like we will almost certainly have a white Christmas. Snow is forecast for Portland on Christmas afternoon, but because we are higher up, we have a wintry mix forecast for Christmas Eve, and snow is supposed to be down to 500 feet elevation on Christmas (we are at 1000 feet). That will be great, as the last two years, we haven’t had snow until the spring.

I have finished all my Christmas decorations, and this week I started cleaning the house for Christmas. I don’t expect to have too much traffic in the house—as far as I know all the festivities are planned for my niece’s house—but it is nice to have the house clean for the holiday. At some point my brother and sister-in-law are coming over. First, they are bringing the painting I gave them to have it varnished, and second, when I asked her whether she was familiar with an old Christmas movie set in Quebec that I recorded (Mon Oncle Antoine), she said she had worked with the director and asked if she and my brother could come over and watch it with me. That probably means that we’ll watch it after Christmas when I intended it for before, because as far as I know, they’re not coming in until Christmas Eve, but that’s okay.

I have started doing finishing up touches to my painting in art class but was surprised when my instructor told me I was about 2/3 of the way done when I thought I was almost done. This week, I put another coat on the rooftops and was looking for all the places where canvas still shows through. It’s funny how the ideas of the different instructors vary. I know that when I finished my last painting, which I did when doing a substitute class with another instructor, my usual instructor didn’t consider it done yet. However, that instructor said, “It’s finished! Sign it!” and I was tired of working on it. I still don’t know when my paintings are done. I have to be told. If it was up to me, I’d have stopped working on them weeks before my instructors considered them finished.

My exercise class was cancelled both times last week, and this week Maja can’t go. At first, I was going to go without her, because I actually could tell the difference in not going last week. But then I thought how I had been wondering when I was going to have time to clean the house, so I decided to skip it this week.

Luke, our household fur contributor and floor destroyer

The only thing I’ve done outside the house this week besides art class is visit Christine and Duchess. We exchanged Christmas gifts this time. She got me a great throw pillow that says “If you don’t want Keeshond fur all over you, don’t sit on the furniture.” How apt. I asked her if she had to order it and specify the dog breed, because there aren’t that many Keeshonds around, and she said no, she found it that way. I have only seen one other Keeshond since I moved here, and that was in Vancouver at the park.

And that’s really about it for this week!

Slipping into winter

This week the county reports 685 new cases of Covid for a total of 46,035. Of those, 576 are confirmed and 109 probable. There are 22 active cases and 16 more deaths for a total of 561. Our rates are still going down, thank goodness.

I finished my Christmas cards by Friday, taking longer than I usually do. Then on Sunday I started wrapping presents. I got quite a few of them done but didn’t do any on Monday. Tuesday afternoon I finished them up.

I went to exercise class on Thursday even though Maja couldn’t go. Believe me, I was tempted to skip it. However, on Tuesday we went all the way there to be told that class was canceled. It hadn’t been canceled by 8:30 when I signed up for it. Maja wanted to stay for an hour to work on the machines, but I find nothing more boring than using those machines, and the class is late enough in the morning that I feel like it takes a big chunk out of the day. We usually leave at 10 to get there for 11 (Maja likes to be early, really early), exercise for an hour, and then drive home. We seldom spend less than three hours on this and sometimes even more, depending on what we do afterwards. At first I wanted to leave right away, but then I said I would spend 20 minutes on the machines, but by then she had changed her mind. Instead, she asked if we could stop at the grocery store, and I had a few things to get, so that’s what we did. I bought one bag of groceries, and she bought five garlands and five bags of groceries, so that took a little longer than I had hoped. I finally got going on wrapping presents about the time we usually would have gotten home, so I was able to get a few more things done before that.

Speaking of which, I had a hard time registering for the class. For some reason, the application seems to think I am in California. I was trying to specify our club but did it in the wrong place. However, even when I did it in the right place, it didn’t show our class. It was only when I searched for it by name that it found it. You would think that I would have tried that before, but when I tried to do that a few weeks ago, it didn’t find the class, either. I just now figured out that, when Maja was trying to help me, she mentioned the name of a different club, and that’s what I set my app to. She was telling me she had hers set to ours and the other club, but I just went straight to the one she named. No wonder I couldn’t find the class!

Here’s my little blue spruce up front with its scosche of snow, all lit up for the season. (The lights are on; you just can’t tell.)

In art class, I have finished the base picture, and now we are cleaning up all the small things that make it a better painting. For example, I went over all the lathing on my painting of a medieval village in France and made it crisper. I looked for all the very small places that were showing the undercoat and covered most of them up, although there are some that will be improved when I repaint some decorations. Things like that.

Monday night we got our first snowfall. It was very light. In fact, I got up briefly just after midnight and it was deeper than it was by the morning. Most of it melted during the day.

The highs for the next 10 days only go up into the low 40’s or the 30’s, so the weather is finally getting to what it should be for the season. We have a very small chance of a white Christmas.

More festive chores

This week the county reports cases of Covid up 681 for a total of 45,350. Of those cases 593 are confirmed and 88 are probable. Active cases are up 33, and deaths are up 7 for a total of 545. Our rates per 100K population continue to go down, though.

On Wednesday Luke and I took a break from doing Christmas chores to visit Christine and Duchess. It was one of the few nice days we’ve had recently. Actually, it was very nice, almost too warm, so we took a walk after having coffee.

On Thursday I thought I was going to have my first care-free Doggy Day Care day in a while, because I canceled out of my exercise class. That was because I’d been up almost all the night before, just one of those nights when I couldn’t sleep. However, I forgot that we had planned our yearly Christmas trip to World Market, where we buy all kinds of seasonal foods and some gifts. Unfortunately, they have changed their merchandise enough that we couldn’t find all of the foods we usually get, and in fact, they had converted a lot of the space they devote to food to gifts. I usually try to get Wayne some other kinds of stocking stuffers there besides marzipan and chocolate, but I was trying to figure out how to get a bath brush to the counter without him noticing when he appeared from nowhere at my side. So, I just put it in the basket. All in all, we didn’t buy as much as we usually do, and we are wondering whether it is going to be worth going to in the future, since it’s a 45-minute drive one way. By the time we got back, I only had an hour or so before I had to pick up Luke, so no care-free day that Thursday, either.

On Friday we had a nice day, so I figured I had better get out and get my outside lights up. That took most of the afternoon, and it took Wayne a couple of days to run an extension cord up the hill to the little blue spruce I always put light on above our house. It always cheers me up to see Christmas lights, and on our road, I’m the only house with them up, although a couple of houses on the next road down have some lights.

It wasn’t until Saturday that I finally opened up my last Christmas box and put out the nativity and other table-top Christmas ornaments. That day, the rain started up again, and it hasn’t stopped.

On Sunday I began writing my Christmas cards. I still haven’t made that much progress, doing a few every day. However, on Tuesday after exercise class I got home to find that Wayne had packaged up the gifts for his ex-wife and her husband for the mail. So, I hauled out the gifts I was mailing to one of my friends and her husband, wrapped them and packaged them up, and we took our packages to the UPS office in Battle Ground. What with the time the trip to the exercise class takes plus going to some stories with Maja looking for a computer part, I didn’t get home from class until after 1 PM, so getting those things ready and traveling back into town to mail them pretty much took up the rest of the afternoon.

My trip to art class on Monday was enlivened by the Portland police having shut down Interstate 5 all day, which means a lot of traffic was diverted to 205, which I have to take for just one exit to get to class. Traffic was pretty much as usual despite the rain until I got to 205, when I saw that the ramp was backed up all the way around the cloverleaf. I decided to get on because I only had to go one exit and I don’t know my way around that part of Vancouver. However, I had been sitting on the ramp about 15 minutes by the time we made it around the circular ramp, and I decided to bail onto the circle that went back up to where I came from. Then I made the mistake of missing the first exit off that road, so I ended up going way out of my way to the east and north of the art school. I had to turn on my GPS to find my way back out of there, and I arrived at the school 15 minutes late for class (I usually get there 15 minutes before, so I was half an hour later than usual). But when I got there, they told me that none of the teachers had arrived, they were all stuck in traffic. So, I got set up and was just mixing some paint when our instructor arrived. She decided to stay 15 minutes late to make up for being late, as did one other instructor, so they combined classes at the end for anyone who wanted to stay. Since I am one of the few working in oils, that just meant that I delayed cleaning my brushes until the extra time started, but it did give me a few extra minutes.

On the pond lately we’ve been seeing a succession of ducks. For a few days, we had a single black and white duck down there, perhaps a bufflehead. Then Wayne said he thought we had Canadian geese one afternoon. Yesterday I saw mallards down there, and today we have black and white ducks again, maybe northern pintails. It’s not hard to see there are birds down there but difficult to see them well enough, even with binoculars, which I’m not good at using, to tell what kind they are.

Today I had a ridiculous conversation with someone who called to reschedule my mammogram. Part of this was my fault, because I had just gotten up and was still sleepy. She called me to tell my that my exam, which was scheduled for next week, had to be moved because they needed the room for a biopsy. Right at the beginning, when she asked when I had a Covid vaccine, I told her that we had pushed my appointment out to make sure it was six weeks after. I was too muddled to figure out when I had the vaccine at that point. Then the girl made my appointment for today. After I got off the phone, I was complaining that I had to go in, when I thought, what? We pushed out my appointment to make sure it was far enough after my vaccine, and then she just pulled it in. I looked at my vaccination card, and sure enough, I had the booster shot five weeks ago. (A mammo is not supposed to be done until six weeks later or more.) So, I had to call them back, and now my exam is scheduled for January. It’s really late this year.

No pictures for this week, but that’s about it.

A busy holiday

This week the county reports the total number of cases up 719 to 44,669. 573 of those are confirmed and 146 probable. Number of active cases is down 59, but number of deaths is up 12 for a total of 538. The rate of new cases per 100K population, which I don’t report very often, is still 279.1, but that is down 26.6 from last week.

On Wednesday of last week, I was busy baking. I made two pumpkin pies for the holidays, although I wasn’t sure whether to take one over to my niece’s house or not. I also put together two meatloafs (because my veal was frozen in a one-pound container, which is enough for two), one for dinner that night and one to freeze. My brother and his wife arrived in the late afternoon. We got them settled and had dinner. During this we had a laugh, because the week before I misread a text from Lucie that said, I thought, that my nephew Will was coming here for Thanksgiving. Actually, she was saying what time they would arrive (Will arrive . . ., which I read as Will arrives), and I actually got a room ready for Will and sent him a text (he must have thought I lost my marbles) before realizing that she knew nothing about him coming for the holidays. So, that made a big laugh during the holidays, since it got repeated to everyone. We stayed up very late, for us, that night talking.

We also had a discussion about whether to bring the pie, since my niece always makes pie for the holidays so no one has ever tasted my pumpkin pie, and about when to cook the turkey. Wayne and I always make one, even if we’re spending Thanksgiving away, so that we have turkey for sandwiches. John was pushing for turkey sandwiches, too, so I made the turkey Thanksgiving morning. When John and Lucie were ready to go over to Katrina’s in the early afternoon, Luke and I went along, but then we left them there and came back to make my dish, squash casserole, and relax a while before going over closer to dinner time.

Most of the family was at my niece’s house, even her husband’s mother, Shawn, whom we hadn’t seen for years because of the virus. She and her husband moved to Utah a couple years ago. She was supposed to come back to do several substitute teaching gigs at the local elementary school, but Covid arrived. A good time was had by all. As could have been predicted, Wayne left early to feed Luke. I called him to pick me up a while later, and when he didn’t arrive as soon as I expected, I yelled back to everyone that he would probably come about the time that Will arrived. That got a big laugh. Wayne and I relaxed in the living room for several hours (I was beat from all the cooking) before John and Lucie arrived back.

Here is the family except for Ares, who took the picture. I am way in the back on the couch with my great niece.

Friday morning we decided to have turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie for breakfast because a family hike was planned for 1 PM. John came up at 9 and said that my sister wanted to change the hike from 1 PM to 11 AM, but Lucie had a bad night and wasn’t up yet. We ended up keeping the 1 PM time, but by the time we went, the rainy weather discouraged everyone except me, Luke, John, Lucie, and Sue.

Sue took us to the new trailhead for the Siouxon Trail. I had been down that trail before with little difficulty except that the end approach is uphill for quite a way. However, they moved the trailhead because of the fires last year. This new trailhead goes downhill for quite a bit longer, almost two miles. My muscles were protesting already since I hadn’t done a real hike in a long time when Lucie (who nicely waited for me, the slow hiker) and I came up with John and Sue. Sue began encouraging me to go back up, telling me that it took her 1 1/2 hours to get back up from the bottom a few weeks ago. We hadn’t been going down that long, so I felt weird about going back, but Lucie told me she would go ahead a few hundred more feet, then turn around and catch up with me. So, Luke and I started back up, stopping fairly frequently. However, when Lucie caught up with me, she said I had made a lot more progress than she expected.

The Siouxan Trail. When I took this picture, I was just going to turn around and go back the other way. Everyone else had already gone forward and was out of the picture. The trail is fairly flat here but is about to go down again.

She had actually made it to the top and was waiting for me a few yards behind when John came huffing up the trail at a good pace. I moved aside to let him by but soon wished I hadn’t, because we learned that Sue had challenged him to beat us up to the top. We didn’t know about the race, however, so he beat me. I wouldn’t have let him go by if I’d realized we were racing, because I was almost up myself, and we both would have beat him. Then he and Lucie raced each other and got to the cars at the same time. By the time I got to the top, I had no interest in racing. I asked John how long he thought Sue would take to come up and he said about 1/2 hour, that he would go back down for her if she wasn’t up by then. They didn’t mind if we left, since we were all sopping wet, so Luke and I went home. They told me later that Sue arrived about 20 minutes later.

On Saturday after John and Lucie left to go back home, Wayne and I went out to look for a Christmas tree. There have been shortages around here for the last few years, and because most of the people around here buy their trees at U Cuts, there aren’t as many available in lots. We stopped buying the U Cut trees three years ago when we realized that someone else was going to have to cut our tree for us since we can’t get down on the ground. The last two years we have purchased our tree from a dealer in Battle Ground, but this year, I took one look at his trees and saw that all the big ones were really wispy. So, we drove to Bizi Farms, which had a few big trees, although they are not as full as my usual. So, my tree is nice, but although it is as tall as the tallest I’ve had, it is only about half the width. The Bizi Farms girls trimmed it for us and put it in the net, which is more than the guy in BG ever did, so I think we’ll go back there from now on. Also, the trees were a bit cheaper.

After it took us an hour or so struggling with the stand to get it up, I was done for the day. I didn’t do anything else, including the dishes that were left over from the morning and the evening before, until Sunday.

On Sunday I got my laundry going that I usually start on Thursdays, and I did the dishes. Other than that, I loafed around recovering from all the activity on the holidays and got some reading done.

On Monday morning, Wayne and I went to Costco, and Monday afternoon/evening, I had my art class as usual. When I arrived, people were standing around outside. At first, I thought that no one had arrived to unlock the door, but then I saw several of the teachers walk in. We had no power. The neighborhood had power, and someone had already tried the breakers, so I don’t know what was wrong. Soon, the husband of the owner arrived and went inside and after a minute or so, the lights were back on. We had class, and just as I was finishing washing my brushes, the lights went off again. Our instructor had us pack up, and she was just about to lead us all down the stairs (I was sure I was going to fall down them) using her cell phone as a light, when the lights came back on. One of the instructors had watched what he did to get them working again. However, I was not foolhardy enough to take the elevator going back down.

I had a doctor’s appointment in Vancouver on Tuesday morning. That was for my dermatologist, but it was a little odd. I have gone there once a year ever since my basal carcinoma was removed, but this time they told me I was supposed to be going every six months. They had clearly told me to come back in a year, twice, because that’s what I had been doing. Very odd.

I was almost home when I went around a corner on our twisty road home and saw a blue pickup shoot off the road across someone’s pasture, hit a large tree, and bounce off. I stopped next to it on the road and had difficulty finding my emergency blinkers, since I never use them. Then I called 911 as the driver opened the door of the truck and fell out. I stupidly didn’t hit the green button and couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have any reception, but I finally got through. Also, I got out of the car once the phone started ringing, forgetting that the sound was going to go through my car GPS system, and had to get back in to talk to the 911 operator. Obviously, I was a bit shook up.

By then, a Fedex driver had also stopped, and he was able to get the address of the farm we were stopped next to. (Of course, I got a lecture from Wayne when I got home about stopping on the road instead of turning into the guy’s driveway some way down the road, but I was concerned about the driver of the car.) The driver was a young girl who was obviously in shock. Her hands were shaking, she was crying, she had a big red blotch on her arm, which she was cradling, and all she could think about was calling her mom. We were trying to get her to sit down as instructed by the 911 operator, and she finally did, but the whole time she was on her phone. The property owner brought a jacket for her, and once we were both there, the Fedex guy left. The EMTs and fire department didn’t take long to arrive, but in the meantime, I had to talk to her mother, who was trying to send a friend to ride along in the ambulance with the girl. But they had her in the ambulance, and the friend never arrived. I was waiting around because I didn’t know if I needed to wait for the police as a witness. Finally the fire chief got an answer that I could go. So, I was only a half hour later than usual. While we were standing around, the property owner told me there had been 18 accidents on that bend that his house is on since he moved there 25 years ago. You could see her tire tracks across his grass coming straight from the curve, which she didn’t make at all, over the fence, over a sizable tree, which was lying in the yard, and into the big spruce tree.

I had made arrangements for my Christmas Elf (aka my great niece, Mischa) to come over after school on Tuesday afternoon to help me decorate the tree. Usually she is done with her schoolwork about noon (Tuesday is one of her home-school days), but that day she was about two hours later than usual because of a difficult and too-long math assignment. She arrived about two. However, together we can do in a couple of hours what it used to take me an entire day to do. We were done by four, even with a cake break. I’m guessing that soon she won’t want to help her old auntie decorate, but while she is eager to do it, that’s great. We always have a nice time. Next year, her brother might come over and help, too.

A lull between visits

This week the county reports total number of cases up 678, of which 593 are confirmed, and 85 probable. The number of active cases is down 138, but deaths are up 15 for a total of 526.

This week has been quiet, wedged between weeks of visitors. Ray left two weeks ago, and tomorrow I expect my brother John and his wife Lucie. They are planning to stay two nights, and we’ll have Thanksgiving potluck at my niece’s house.

Basically, I’ve done my normal activities all week except for one special outing. My great niece Mischa has been taking introduction to acting at Metropolitan Acting School, and my sister invited me to their showcase on Wednesday. It was a version of Beetlejuice cut down to about a fifth of the Broadway musical. The kids were aged from about eight up to the teen years. My 13-year-old niece was the tallest child there and also the best dancer. I myself have never been very coordinated, but her father especially is very nimble. There were gaps in the dialogue and songs where either a child forgot or didn’t say his or her line or wasn’t audible. I don’t know if the teachers had worked on projection yet or not, but I would imagine some of the kids were really nervous, and it was even more difficult with the masks. I was sitting no more than 10 feet away from a boy and saw his mouth move under the mask when he had a line, but nothing came out. The play was so cut up that it was hard to understand what was going on (I don’t remember the movie), and they had more than one kid playing the same character, I guess so that more kids would have lines, but that made it even more confusing. However, it was entertaining enough, and I thought Mischa was good. She was definitely acting her part, which not all the kids were doing.

Anyway, that was my amusement for the week. I attended exercise class on Thursday, but it was canceled yesterday. I also went to art class on Monday, and that’s about it. Otherwise, I’ve been shopping and cleaning my house in preparation for the holidays. I am happy to hear, though, that in January my tai chi class is starting back up, although not yet in Battle Ground but twice as far away in the Hazel Dell area of Vancouver. I would imagine that the Battle Ground venue is too small to accommodate very many people and maintain distance.

And sorry, no photo this week. If we’d been allowed to take pictures of the performance, I would have one of that, but we weren’t.

A visit to the Japanese Gardens

This week the county reports the total number of Covid cases up 846 to 43,272. 710 of those are confirmed and 136 probable. Number of active cases is down 116, and number of deaths is up 9. I have to say that the number of deaths is lower than it has been lately. Still, the numbers still don’t look very good.

A raked garden and some autumn beauty

This Thursday, I went on a family outing to the Portland Japanese Gardens, an outing my niece and her husband planned for my birthday. Originally, we were going to go on Wednesday and try to take Ray, but I had confused his flight time, and it turned out that was impossible. The only other day they could go was Thursday. Weather-wise, this was not a very good choice, which was unfortunate because the day before had been unusually nice. It was chilly in the morning, and I opted for warmth as opposed to waterproofness, which turned out to be a mistake, as I got soaked despite bringing an umbrella. However, the Japanese Gardens, which are in a park at the top of the city (normally with great views, but we could see very little from there that day) were absolutely beautiful. Even though most of the autumn foliage has been falling in the deluge we’ve had the past two weeks, there was still color in the gardens.

One of several waterfalls in the gardens

After we saw the park, which we visited very early because my niece has a membership and it can get crowded, we went to a sandwich shop called Lardo’s. I understand that when food programs do shows about sandwiches, Lardo’s is often mentioned. It was difficult to choose, but I ended up getting the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken sandwich. Another choice was the Pho’Rench Dip, which several of my family members got. My niece still isn’t eating in restaurants, but they had a large outdoor seating area under a canopy, and we were the only people out there.

I got home around 1:30 so wet that I immediately changed clothes and was happy that Wayne had a fire going. That gave me a couple of hours to relax before picking up Luke at Doggy Day Care.

I didn’t do much else for the next couple days except laundry and things like that because I was so tired from entertaining and driving. I missed my exercise class both days last week, and I missed it yesterday because it was Luke’s grooming appointment, so Christine and I met for coffee and avocado toast. We usually do more, but she had an afternoon appointment.

I also went to art class. I put a glaze on my cobblestones and then did some more work on parts of my buildings.

I have been on a quest for veal lately. I know that its use is looked down on by lots of people, but I have also read that raising calves for veal is a lot more humane now. I have a family meatloaf recipe that I make at least once a winter, and it requires three meats, one of which is ground veal. However, I have had difficulty finding veal every year since I moved here. I began looking around online and saw that Albertson’s showed they had ground veal at their local store. That’s where I got it last year, but I had been there once already looking. Since it was there online, I placed an order for the meats I needed for the meatloaf, one of which, of course, is ground beef, but the purpose of the order was to get the ground veal. And here’s what happened Friday at Albertson’s.

I went there to pick up my order, and the guy came out and just handed it to me and walked away. I assumed that meant there were no substitutions, because at Fred Meyer when they have substitutions they go over them with you and give you an opportunity to decline them. However, I decided to look in the bag, and sure enough they had substituted ground beef for ground veal. That was especially stupid as I had also ordered ground beef in quantity, so that gave me four pounds of beef. I went inside to discuss this and passed him on the way out while I was looking for Customer Service, which I found difficult to recognize.

No one was at the Customer Service desk when I got there, so I stood there a while, and finally a woman came over from the self-service line. I started to explain my problem, and she said “He (indicating the pickup area) has to take care of that,” paged him and started to walk away. I explained that he had just walked out with an order. She went back to the self-service line. I waited. After a while, she noticed me still there waiting, so she paged him again. Then she disappeared. He obviously was doing more than taking out an order, because I waited at least 10 minutes, during which time another guy came over to the desk and said “He has to take care of that” and paged the guy again. (What a stupid policy, by the way.) Finally, he came back, explained that there was no ground veal (duh), and said I could have a refund. I handed him the smaller package of ground beef, and he just started to walk off. I said, “Aren’t you going to give me a receipt or anything?” He said his manager would process the refund “later.” I guess I should have asked for the manager, but I’d been waiting for more than 10 minutes just to give someone back the ground beef. I ended up going to the butcher department to ask how I could arrange to get some veal. At first, she tried to send me to Safeway, but I’d had enough of that. Finally, she agreed to have someone call me if veal came in either Saturday or Tuesday. I was at Albertson’s for at least 25 minutes and accomplished nothing.

As I anticipated, I have heard nothing from them.

I had made a special fruitless trip to get the veal and didn’t have high expectations of hearing from Albertson’s, but I wanted to make a meatloaf next week because my nephew is coming in on Wednesday and my brother and sister-in-law are staying a few nights after Thanksgiving, so obviously I have to have something else to eat besides the Thanksgiving feast that will take place at my niece’s house. So, I started looking online again and found a butcher. I decided to place an order and get it shipped. A minimum of $50 was required, so I ordered two pounds of ground veal, some veal scallopini, and some lamb. When I went to place the order I saw that shipping for $50 of meat cost $70+, so I cancelled the order.

Trying again online, I saw for the first time that there was theoretically veal at our local Fred Meyer. Now, I shop there, and I have never known them to have veal on display, and I have asked for it before and been told they didn’t have any. However, I crossed my fingers and ordered two pounds of ground veal and a few other things to round out the order. I was a bit dismayed to find they had reinstated their fee for pick-up orders but figured if I ended up with veal, it would be worth it.

I was to pick up my order after art class, and by the time I left the art school, I had received messages on my phone that did not indicated they had substituted any items. Of course, this does not always mean they haven’t. However, this trip was a success! I ended up with all my veal, although it was frozen in two packets, which is unfortunate because I only need 1/2 pound of veal for a meatloaf. I decided, though, that I would just make two and freeze one.

I know this is a long, involved story, but as it occupied a great deal of time and confirmed me in the opinion that I don’t want to spend money at Albertson’s again, I thought I’d include it. And that’s all for the week.

A visitor from out of town

This week the county reports total number of cases up 979. That’s 761 confirmed and 218 probable. Number of active cases is down 48. Number of deaths is up 15, with a note that two deaths that occurred in 2020 were added to this week’s count.

This week my friend Ray flew in from Denver for a visit. He arrived last Wednesday. After we picked him up from the airport, we went home for a short while before going out to lunch on the waterfront at Wildfin Grill. Then Wayne and I had appointments to get our Moderna boosters, so we went to Walgreens before returning home. I made pelmeni soup for dinner and we got Ray hooked on Stranger Things. Now I fear we will be watching the entire series over again.

The weather for the entire week was predicted to be rainy, so on Thursday Ray and I went out to the movies and saw The French Dispatch. Although I have really liked the last two Wes Anderson movies I saw, this one was formatted like a series of stories, and as such I was much less invested in it, because it didn’t spend much time with any of the characters. It was quirky, as usual, and had a distinct look to it. We came home and I made pot roast for dinner in my Instant Pot. Delicious.

It’s become Wayne’s habit not to participate in much of visitor entertainment except if it involves eating. On Friday, we decided to go eat at one of our favorite places in the area, Fuel Bistro, where we haven’t eaten since the pandemic. Wayne was up for that, especially as it involved eating the chocolate chip cookie, which is a huge cookie fresh baked in a little iron skillet with vanilla ice cream on top. After we got back from Fuel, Ray, Luke, and I went out for a hike on a logging trail up Dunegan Mountain. It’s about 2.5 miles total, but we turned around before we got to the top by mutual decision. The trail is steadily uphill on the way out, but I think Ray had a hard time with the large gravel, especially on the way down. We were actually lucky enough that every time we went out during the week, it stopped raining, even though it rained a lot every day.

On Saturday we took Luke out for a walk on our road, and then Ray and I drove to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. One spring, Maja and I happened to go there when there were thousands upon thousands of water birds, many of them nesting. This time when we took the auto tour (which is the only thing allowed in fall and spring), we saw lots of birds and six deer, but not as many birds as before. However, without attempting to identify most of the birds, we saw egrets, herons, sandhill cranes, and some raptors, probably hawks, as well as hundreds of ducks which we couldn’t really see well enough to try to identify. (We took our binoculars but then didn’t use them, just took the tour and looked at the birds.) At one point, we were parked less than two yards from a heron. After that, we went for lunch at Planet Thai in Vancouver and brought home take-out for Wayne.

On Sunday we packed up early and set out for Seaside. We booked a two-bedroom suite in the same hotel that I stayed last time. It was a nice room, although to fit in the second bedroom and bathroom, there were some odd angles. I let Ray pick bedrooms, because I had the big one several years ago when we went to Lincoln City, and he picked the nice big one. Mine was small and because a corner of it was cut away to allow more room around the breakfast bar in the kitchen, they had the wardrobe half covering the window. But I just was spending the night in it so no big deal. The only thing was that to get dressed, I had to squeeze in front of the wardrobe to get out a piece of clothing and then squeeze around it again to have room to put it on. Because I wasn’t thinking and didn’t take everything out at once, I had to do that several times. But really, it was an inexpensive, clean, nice place to stay with a nice living room with a fireplace and a full kitchen. However, as it turned out, we didn’t spend much time there.

A view from Ecola Park

After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we went to John and Lucie’s house. We visited there a while, and then John took us out sightseeing. It was rainy, so Lucie didn’t want to go because of her arthritis. But we had the luck that when we wanted to get out of the car to go look at things, the rain stopped. We went to Ecola Park on Tillamook Head and saw several really great views.

That took a couple of hours, and then we returned back to their house, where Lucie had prepared appetizers and a nice dinner. I hadn’t realized until I saw the appetizers how hungry I was. It turned out John, who has learned how to bake in the last year, had made me a birthday cake. Then we all sat around and chatted until very late, after midnight. Ray said he had a good time, so I didn’t think we were boring him with our stories.

In the morning I felt a little subpar because I didn’t sleep much, which is usual for me in a strange bed (even though that one was very comfortable). Ray and I went out for breakfast at Pig n Pancake (delicious!) and then we went back to John and Lucie’s to visit for a while and say goodbye. We originally planned for John to go with us on our next expedition, but he suggested it would probably be more direct for us to leave from Cape Disappointment, which was our planned outing, rather than have to come all the way back to their house. He thought we would be going home via Aberdeen, but after we saw the park (gorgeous), the GPS brought us back through Astoria. We drove over the bridge at Astoria and to Cape Disappointment, where we spent a couple of hours looking at views and lighthouses and took a few short hikes. We had very nice weather that day, even some sunshine.

We arrived home around 4:30 or 5, and then it was Wayne’s turn to take me out for my birthday. We ended up picking Goldie’s barbecue because there really aren’t that many great restaurants around here, and we had already gone to Planet Thai, which would have been another choice. Yum, lots of barbecue.

On Tuesday we made plans to go to the Bond movie with Wayne. He actually agreed to go out, and it was a good movie, although I don’t think any Bond movie will ever surpass Skyfall.

And that brings us to today, when I dropped Ray at the airport at 9:30. I am late posting this blog because I didn’t have time to write it yesterday, when I usually would have. It was an action-packed week.