In which we get a smidge of snow

I’ve noticed that Wayne’s use of firewood this year has been a little eccentric. Usually, we heat the house mostly with our wood stove and only use our heat pump once in a while in the winter. However, this year, with the cost of firewood so much more expensive, he’s been using it more restrictively. But his method defies my logic.

A few weeks ago, when we had several weeks of above-average temperatures, he was running the stove all day, even when I suggested that we didn’t need it. However, during the last week, the temperatures have gone down to average for the time of year, which means lows in the 30’s and highs in the 40’s, and he has not been making a fire some days until 6 PM or so, and I’ve been freezing. Worse, he seems to make it later on colder days, although today the high was 41 and he started one about 1 PM. I can’t figure it out. Of course, I could make a fire, but I have been lazy lately.

Of course, we have the heat pump on for when the house gets too cold (for a long time, Wayne kept it off), but because of the windows in the living room, that room is considerably colder than where the thermostat is located in the hall. Anyway, today we can’t have a fire because of bad air quality in the valley.

We had a usual week, with Maja and I back at exercise classes and me in tai chi. I have had an injury to my right leg for a while now, and Tuesday was the first day that it didn’t hurt during our sidestepping exercise. It didn’t bother me at all until we had to stand just on that leg for an extended period.

Saturday was supposed to be the ending party for those completing the tai chi Introductory class in December, not that we actually did so, because the last two class sessions were abruptly cancelled. Back in December, we were supposed to sign up if we were going to come (because the party was on New Years Eve morning) and they were going to have pastries. However, by the time they got around to our delayed party in January, they had decided not to serve food. They were having the party during the Continuing class, which is before the Introductory class (which I’m retaking), and there was supposed to be a business meeting, too. It stopped sounding interesting to me, especially when I was told they would be “orienting” the new graduates. I didn’t want to be oriented or attend the meeting and I didn’t think I could handle three hours of tai chi, so I decided just to go for my regular class. This will be my third stab at Introductory class, and I’m going to try to attend every class so that at least I will have seen every move of the 108 demonstrated and learn it in order.

Our smidge of snow

Anyway, about ten minutes before I was due to go to class on Saturday morning, it started snowing, which had not been forecast. On my drive to class, it was still snowing, and it was quite a flurry, although it was not accumulating on the road yet. I expected that by the time I got to the valley, it would be raining, but it snowed almost all the way to class. Then when we were doing tai chi, I saw it snowing pretty hard through the windows. When I got out of class, it was raining, and there was no snow on the ground, but on the way home, the last road had a bit of accumulation, with some cars driving really slowly, and there was still snow at home. In fact, it stayed on the ground all day until it started raining in the evening.

In art class on Wednesday, our teacher was ill, so instead of moving to one of the principal figures in my painting, I painted Christine’s shirt. I hope Oksana is well this week, not just for her health but because I am running out of unimportant things to paint.

The only other thing of interest I did was take Lukey over to visit Christine and Duchess on Monday morning. We had our usual little snack and a nice chat.

Lately, we’ve had ducks on the pond almost every day.

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In which I Zoom with friends and procrastinate

It was another ordinary week except that Maja and I finally returned to both exercise classes. In art class I painted my friend’s top and jeans. In tai chi, I resolved to practice but have not so far.

I had a regular doctor’s appointment on Friday. Everything looks good except my A1C is up just a bit. It’s been 6.0 for a long time, and now it is higher but not out of range.

On Monday I decided I was going to start taking down the Christmas decorations, but by that afternoon I was only 50 pages from the end of my book, so I read on. This happens to me a lot. Either it’s a book I’m not enjoying so I want to get through it, or it’s a book that I am enjoying and want to see how it ends. Or it’s a really exciting book, and I can’t stop. The Christmas decorations are still untouched.

It has been raining almost every day, so not much dog walking has been going on. I like to stay in when it rains, but the big problem is that Luke doesn’t want to go out. Today the temperatures are supposed to go back down to a more normal range for this time of year. We have been about 10 degrees warmer than usual.

On Tuesday, I had a Zoom conference scheduled. It was supposed to be five women who worked together years ago and are friends, but we rescheduled it for one only to have another not able to meet at that time. Then the person we rescheduled for bowed out. I could have told the meeting organizer that this would happen and we should not have rescheduled for her. So, it was only three of us, but the friend who scheduled the meeting wants to do it every few months. I will wager we’ll get the woman who couldn’t come but not the one we rescheduled for.

It was nice to see them. We had a Zoom meeting way back two years ago during the height of Covid but not since. I can’t say that I like Zoom meetings very much. For one thing, my butt doesn’t like sitting in my office chair that long. But it’s nice to exchange news. Both the women I met with are in Houston, and they told me about the big winter storm they had over Christmas. One of them had her pipes burst. Cold weather like that is unusual in Houston, but when I lived there, the coldest two events were over Christmas, and I had burst pipes once, too.

I have been seeing a pair of ducks in our pond. I wonder if a nesting pair has settled there already. Would it be too early? I have no idea.

That’s really all for this week. I have to get back to trying to find a picture for my posts. Things have just been really quiet here. Because I was obsessed by the idea of the Zoom meeting, I forgot yesterday to write this post like I usually do, ahead of time. Now I have to get ready for art class.

The county reports 331 Covid cases for a total of 110,472. There have been 12 more deaths, which is disturbing (total is 1007), and now the rate of new cases per 100K population is up 9.6 to 51.9.

In which life is so normal that I forget to write this post

Usually I write this post on Tuesday afternoon for posting on Wednesday morning, but this week, I was lolling about reading on Tuesday afternoon and completely forgot to write it. The only other thing I did yesterday afternoon was make an abortive attempt to take Luke for a walk since for once it wasn’t raining. We got down to the bottom of the driveway and the kids across the street started shooting guns, so Luke wouldn’t go any further.

After being excessively lazy, Maja and I have returned to our exercise class, starting yesterday. I had noticed the past few days that my right leg gave me a little twinge below the knee if I had my weight on it and then turned slightly. It didn’t bother me at all in my tai chi class, which started up again on Saturday (I’m doing beginning over again, determined to finish the form at least once before going into continuing); however, when we were doing our sidestepping in senior exercise class, I had to stop. Otherwise, I was fine for having missed the class for over a month. (Part of the time it was cancelled.)

In art class, I finally started working on my principal figures, which means I painted my friend’s dark blue shirt and jeans. I worked with about seven shades of dark blue and still have some blue under my fingernails this morning. I suspect I’ll be doing Luke next, as we go from darks to lights, and he’s the next darkest object in the picture. The thick paint that I used for the texture on my chair last week was still not dry.

The only thing in particular that I did aside from my classes this week was visit Christine and Duchess. We hadn’t been there since before the holidays. Luke actually chased Duchess out the door at one point. The excitement he shows when we are arriving at their house is about the most that he shows all week (except when the UPS truck arrives at the house).

My oldest brother and his wife came over briefly to swap bottles and visit for a short while. She had asked me to collect wine bottles, which they would swap for a bottle of fruit wine. I completely forgot about it and Wayne was napping when they arrived, so when I went out to the glass bin, the bottles had been recycled, but I had two sparkling juice bottles for the trade. They also brought me a pumpkin. If I can find some lamb, which isn’t always possible around here, I may make pumpkin cous-cous.

Not right after they left but the next day, Wayne asked me if I got the bottles out from where he stowed them. So, apparently he put them somewhere for her, but since he didn’t tell me, I didn’t know. Sometimes it’s as if he thinks I have ESP. Anyway, I need to remember to tell her that I have more bottles, although I think she doesn’t need any more. However, maybe she’ll want to collect them for her batch next year.

And really, that’s about it for the week. Since I am totally unprepared, I have no photo. I wanted to take a nice one of the early morning light coming through the trees yesterday, but I was brushing my teeth when I saw it. By the time the toothbrush turned off, just a minute later, it wasn’t doing it anymore and as often the case with my phone camera, it didn’t look at all dramatic.

It has rained and been in the high 40’s or low 50’s almost every day this week. Yesterday, for a change, we had a nice morning, but by the time we got back from class, it was gloomy out. Last night when I tried to take Luke out, it was back to raining, and he wouldn’t leave the house. (He doesn’t like to get wet, which is funny, because his fur is so thick that he can’t possible feel it. And he likes getting in the pool at Doggy Day Care, and in the river at Lewisville Park, so I guess it’s rain he doesn’t like.)

The county reports 331 new cases of Covid this week, for a total of 110,472. The death toll is up 12 for a total of 1007. The rate of new cases per 100K population has gone up 9.6 to 51.9.

In which we make gnocchi (and celebrate the new year)

With most of my classes on hiatus (or at least as far as I was concerned) and my brother and sister-in-law in town, my days sort of lost focus for the last week; that is, I can’t remember what happened on which day. I did attend one class, art class, in which I began to paint the chair in my painting (having waiting until my instructor was back before beginning any of the major subjects—which means I painted grass for three weeks).

During the week, I went over to my niece’s several times. For the most part on those visits we watched episodes of The Great British Baking Show and once It’s a Wonderful Life. Apparently, it has become a tradition when my brother and sister-in-law are in town at Christmas for them all to watch the baking show together, since both couples are addicted to it. I thought it was interesting and have caught portions of it at home, but I have no compulsion to watch it except when I’m with them. Instead, Wayne and I decided to watch Harry & Meghan after resisting it for a while.

Here, we’re just about to start mixing our dough.

On Friday afternoon, my brother pinged me to say that they were watching an episode of TGBBS and then making gnocchi, if I wanted to join them. I tried to time my visit so that they would be in the middle of making the gnocchi, since I predicted that it would be tedious (fun in a way to be doing it with others, but physically tedious). However, they tricked me by watching two episodes of the show, so I came in time to watch the end of the second episode and participate in all of the gnocchi making. I was exhausted and covered in flour before I left, but I was determined to finish my share of the noodle making, which I did.

I went home to change my clothes, thinking Wayne and I would settle down to a comfortable evening, but I got another ping inviting me for the gnocchi dinner and more of TGBBS. (Of course, Wayne opted to stay home.) I was interested to see what very fresh gnocchi tastes like (this one was pumpkin), although I have had it at restaurants on occasion, and it was delicious. Not made from potato flour, so not as bad for me as it usually is. After dinner, we finished that season of the baking show. We all decided that kicking people off for their lack of success in one week without considering how they had done earlier wasn’t exactly fair. There was one guy who was kicked off after a bad week but on the whole had done much better than another guy who made it to the top three. We thought there should be some kind of cumulative score, but maybe the show people thought that would get too complicated (and everyone would know ahead of time who was going to be kicked off, I guess).

By the way, the gnocchi was delicious, but I think that I prefer to buy it than make it, even if it doesn’t taste as good.

It wasn’t until Friday that anyone mentioned New Year’s Eve to me, and then I had to ask. They tend to think I know about things that I don’t. Anyway, that meant I had to brave the store on New Years Eve morning, which I did. It was another disappointing ride in the car for Luke, who gets all excited to go, only to have to stay in the car while I’m in the store. He never remembers that he’s been disappointed, luckily. I decided to buy sparkling juice for me and the kids.

My sister is still home sick, and my niece had just invited one couple and their daughter to come and stay overnight, so it was a small party. (I guess my other brother and his wife decided not to come.) When I arrived at my niece’s on the evening, the rest were just putting out all the snacks. It was a lovely spread on the charcuterie side, with meat, salmon, lovely cheeses, interesting breads and crackers, and fruit. We all went downstairs, where my niece has established a new gaming area with a nice big table, and we played a murder mystery game. At first, I found it very confusing. There were lots of pieces of “evidence,” including a locked box without the combination, and while some people were trying to read the various documents out loud to everyone, other people kept talking. But finally, after about an hour or two of looking at stuff (I congratulate myself on being the one to figure out how to open the box), we all decided the murderer was one particular suspect and opened up the solution. We were right! The major problem with this type of game is that you can only play it once. However, it did point to a specific suspect, unlike many murder mystery plays and games I have participated in, where the clues pointed to everyone and it was anybody’s guess who did it.

We went back upstairs to graze a little, and around nine PM, I decided to go home. They had promised fireworks, and I stayed a while to wait for them, but I finally gave up and left, and I didn’t really hear them go off for more than an hour after I did. As usual, Wayne was ready for bed way before midnight, so we failed to see in yet another new year.

On New Year’s Day, Wayne and I had a lazy day until my brother suggested he come over and watch Miracle on 34th Street, which was the last holiday movie we had planned to see. He came over in the late afternoon and left shortly after finishing the movie (which he pronounced as not quite up there as a classic movie—his favorite is It’s a Wonderful Life). Then Wayne and I had our corned beef and cabbage dinner.

On Monday, I kept thinking it was Tuesday. I wasn’t expecting anything to happen, but I was just updating my diary when my brother and sister-in-law stopped by to say goodbye. I hadn’t realized they were planning to leave yet.

Monday night we had a dusting of snow about the time I took Luke out for his last visit to the outdoors. It was still there on Tuesday morning, but by the afternoon almost all of it was gone. Our temperatures all week were in the 40’s although yesterday it was only 39 when Luke and I went for our walk in the afternoon. So, it got a bit nippier. I planned to go to my exercise class whether Maja went or not, but the night before I had a very bad night, so I turned off the alarm clock early in the morning. As it turned out, Maja had a cold, so neither of us went.

I caught sight of a duck in the pond several times, and one morning I saw three. That same day my brother and sister-in-law picked me up for a walk and said they had seen the three, too. However, yesterday I didn’t see any ducks at all, and it was a nice, clear day, so I would have expected to see them out there fishing.

This week the county reports 189 new Covid cases for a total of 109,937. There have been 5 more deaths for a total of 985. However, the rate of new cases per 100K population continues to go down, this week by 5.2 to 61.3.

In which Christmas is slightly delayed

The days up to Christmas were characterized by bad weather. Wednesday and Thursday weren’t bad, but the weather people were warning people not to travel on Thursday and Friday. They should actually have warned about Friday and Saturday, because nothing much happened on Thursday until the evening. When I took Luke out for his late-night visit at around 10 PM, there was a coat of sleet on everything. Then Friday morning we awakened to find a sheet of wet ice on our driveway, our own personal skating rink!

Our skating rink driveway

My brother and sister-in-law were supposed to drive in for the holidays on Friday, but they stayed home until Sunday. On Saturday, it started raining, but we still had ice until the afternoon. In the meantime, we had discovered we were out of coffee creamer, so Wayne ventured out Saturday afternoon to the grocery store and said the roads were all clear but it was foggy and colder down in the valley.

Our original Christmas plans with the family were to have Christmas Eve dinner. Then with the bad weather, my niece proposed a New Years Eve dinner instead. But finally, she decided on a smaller Christmas Day dinner, since my sister had come down with Covid. So, Wayne and I had our prime rib dinner on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, and on Christmas it was my niece’s family, my brother and sister-in-law, and us.

The family just before opening presents

On Christmas morning Wayne and I opened our own presents. Later I got to work making scalloped potatoes, and we went over to my niece’s around 5:15. We had a lovely dinner and then we opened presents. Mine from everyone were all stacked in a tower and tied together with a big red ribbon. As a reminder of a Christmas many years ago, my brother gave me a large box that contained one orange. (This was the return of a prank I played on him when we were little, back when he always looked for the biggest box and hoped his name was on it.) After that, we all piled into cars and drove to my sister’s house, put the presents for her and her grandson on the front porch, and stood at the end of the driveway singing Christmas carols at her. Then we came back and had a dessert of a delicious and unusual fruitcake ice cream that my niece invented. It was topped with a big ball of ice cream coated in chocolate, and they were frozen so hard that we could barely get our spoons into them. She kept saying they might be better if we let them sit a few minutes, all the while we were gobbling them down.

Since my niece’s Christmas was running late, on Monday I got an invitation to return and help decorate Christmas cookies. That is fun when it involves the whole family, so I went. Later I went back and we all watched an episode The Great British Baking Show and then Love, Actually.

Yesterday was a lazy day for me and Wayne. It was pouring rain all day and the winds were really high. All morning, we kept having power glitches, and finally around 11 or so, the power went off. This didn’t inconvenience us very much because our generator turned on, which gives us power everywhere except the furnace and some appliances in the kitchen. (For example, I have to use a match to light the stove instead of it lighting from the electric lighter, and I can’t use the oven.) The power was off for the rest of the day and evening and must have come back on sometime during the night. I heard from my brother that everyone over there slept almost all day.

That’s about it for this week. I went to art class on Wednesday and just worked on grass all day. I could have graduated to some of the major figures in my painting, but I didn’t want to do that while my regular instructor was away from class. So, maybe today.

After having no ducks on the pond for a couple of weeks, I spotted a pair last week. But they seem to have only stopped by for one day.

The county reports 795 new cases of Covid, for a total of 109,748. Three more people have died, for a total of 980. The rate of new cases per 100K population is down 22.2 (yay), sitting at 66.5.

In which I finish preparing for Christmas (almost)

As far as Christmas is concerned, this week was fairly productive. I finished my Christmas cards by Tuesday and mailed them, except for a few that Wayne had to work on. On Thursday I began putting up outside lights, but it was so cold out that I only did one string. I finished the lights on Saturday afternoon, when it was still very cold but earlier, so it wasn’t starting to turn dark. I began wrapping presents on Sunday. This is late for me because I usually have some to mail, so I do all of them at once, but this year I didn’t need to because I shipped things directly. Now that I live near most of my relatives, I only have a few things to mail anymore anyway. I finished wrapping presents on Tuesday afternoon. So, now I am ready for Christmas except for some house cleaning, one more present for one of my great nephews that still hasn’t arrived, and the scalloped potatoes (back by popular demand) I promised to make for our family Christmas Eve dinner.

As far as the outside lights are concerned, I always find them cheering, so I think next year I will put them up first, on Thanksgiving weekend like my father used to do. I have one little tree that I hang lights on up above the house that Wayne still hasn’t run the extension cord out for, so the lights are on it but it’s not lit yet.

Because I felt that the walk Maja and I took last Tuesday helped my leg a bit, I tried going to exercise class on Thursday. It was the first one either of us had attended since before Thanksgiving. However, our instructor has us do a lot of side-stepping exercises, including one where you put a foot in front going one way and behind going the other. In general, when we do this one, I am always afraid I’m going to trip myself up, but this time, I twisted my leg just a little bit and a pain ran up it. Instead of my leg feeling better the next day, it felt worse, so on Saturday I skipped tai chi. I meant to go, because it was unexpectedly our last for the year. They had planned to have it both Christmas and New Years Eves, but the building wasn’t going to be open, so they sent us an email this week to say it wouldn’t be happening. We had planned a little party, but that will now be in January. In the meantime, I have been very careful about my leg and the positions I take, and last night I realized it felt normal for the first time in weeks.

In art class, I was still drawing grass, and I decided to keep doing it this week, because my instructor won’t be there, and I don’t want to start any of the important images with a substitute.

Wearing my ugly Christmas sweater and looking apprehensive at having my picture taken

On Monday, I made a quiche and took it over to Christine’s for a little Christmas brunch, as I probably won’t see her before the holiday. I wore my ugly Christmas sweater, and Christine had a Christmas cracker to pull. Duchess tried to get Luke to come outside and play, but he sat by my knee most of the time (after running around in her house like a maniac). At one point, Duchess was standing outside the sliding glass door barking at him to come out, but with no success.

I know this is crazy, but every few months, I drive to downtown Vancouver to buy five pounds of a coffee we like at a local coffee roasters. I am supposed to call them first to find out if they have it ready, but this weekend I called them twice and no one answered the phone or called me back after I left a message. I finally got ahold of them on Monday at Christine’s house, and since I was almost halfway there, I picked it up before going home.

Then Tuesday morning, Wayne and I did something we haven’t done for several years but used to do every once in a while. Both of us were awake at 6 AM, so we got dressed and went out to breakfast at Valerie’s. Wayne hadn’t been there yet. There, someone told us the place was closing, so I asked the wait person about it, and she said that it was being sold to the owners of a couple other breakfast restaurants in town. That was disappointing, because Valerie’s is better, and despite her assuring us the restaurant would still be Valerie’s, we could already tell the difference. The art for sale that used to cover the walls was all gone, and the place looked comparatively drab. The existing restaurants in that chain are also very drab, like the owner never heard of interior decorating.

Just this week I stopped seeing the duck in our pond, so perhaps he has finally flown south.

Our weather was very cold until just a few days ago, and we had a dusting of snow over the weekend. Right now it is in the 40’s and rainy, very rainy, but the temperature is supposed to go way down Thursday and Friday, like to the 20’s or even teens. Snow is forecast for Thursday.

I have been keeping an eye on the Covid data for the county wondering if I should start wearing my mask everywhere again. So far, the statistics aren’t that bad. They are still lower than where they were when I stopped wearing it everywhere, but they are getting up there. We had 405 new cases this week for a total of 108,953. There have been three new deaths for a total of 977. The rate of new cases per 100K population is only up 1.2 to 88.7. I’ll probably start wearing my mask more when it gets over 100.

In which I attend a cultural event

Wednesday this week started out with Christmas. After I went to art class (during which I painted grass), my niece and her son came over to help decorate my tree. This event, which usually involves my great niece, not my great nephew, always calls for treats, so I whipped up a pan of brownies and put it in the oven before they arrived. As I had expected, my great nephew was only of moderate assistance, but then his sister was that way when she came over to help at his age. He hung some ornaments, but as soon as the brownie odor emerged from the oven, he spent a lot of time going into the kitchen to smell it. My niece was particular about what went on the tree, and my tree was smaller than usual, so we didn’t put up some of the larger ornaments, and an entire box of what I consider my lesser ornaments went back into the closet. That was okay with me. My tree looks much more restrained than it usually does. We finished when my great nephew proudly installed the treetop star, and then we all took a brownie and ice cream break. His dad arrived to pick them up just in time for brownie.

Holding the Christmas star before putting it on the tree; as you can see, our snow is gone for now.

On Thursday our senior exercise class was cancelled again, so I meant to put out the rest of the Christmas decorations but actually ended up doing nothing but the laundry and dishes.

I finished with the inside Christmas decorations on Friday but still have not started putting up the outside lights. I instead worked on my Christmas cards. I finished them by Monday and mailed them on Tuesday.

Saturday was an unusual day. I attended tai chi class, where I’m still trying to decide whether to take Introductory again or Continued when the new session starts in January. They announced a party for December 31 for which you had to sign up. It was hard to know what to do, because my brother and sister-in-law will be in town and no one plans much of anything ahead of time. I finally signed up, figuring that they wouldn’t be likely to get going on anything before noon or so.

Then Friday evening, my brother and sister-in-law picked me up to go to my great niece’s school play, a shortened version of Annie. It was surprisingly entertaining, especially compared to the things she was in with a different drama school last year. My great niece played one of the orphans. It was her first real play, and she was very excited.

My great niece in her orphan costume after the play with some members of the family

After the play, I went out for dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at the pub.

Sunday and Monday I was working on Christmas cards, and Tuesday our class was cancelled yet again. So, Maja and I decided to take a walk in Moulton Falls park with Luke. I have been having trouble with my right leg recently. After sitting or lying down, it is stiff and hurts when I move it until it loosens up. I thought the walk would do it good, but it’s hard to say. It actually hurt more when I got back to the car. In fact, I had trouble raising it up enough to get into the car. However, so far this morning it feels better.

When I got home, I was hungry for Chinese food, but Wayne wouldn’t consent to going further away than Battle Ground. So, we had lunch in one of Battle Ground’s very mediocre Chinese restaurants.

We have had a rainy and dismal week, but starting today, we’re supposed to have a week of sunny, dry weather, although colder at night. Actually, it’s quite cold this morning. I hope it dries up enough to make me want to go out and clean up my flower and vegetable beds, because I haven’t done that yet this year.

Every day for about a week, I’ve seen a little black duck fishing in our pond. I don’t know if it’s the same duck or not. However, he seems to like it here if he is. I hope he isn’t losing his chance to migrate. Although our pond seldom freezes completely over, it still does freeze.

And that’s about it.

Yikes! The number of Covid cases in the county went up 461 for a total of 108,548. There were 9 new deaths, for a total of 974. The rate of new cases per 100K population went up 13 to 87.5. We’re getting back up to the higher rates we had months ago.

In which we finish some Christmas preparations and it snows more

As reported last week, we bought our Christmas tree on Tuesday afternoon, although it seemed like night before we got it back home. The snow that came down that afternoon was pretty much melted by Wednesday when I went to art class. I made a lot of progress on my painting last week, because I attended a makeup class on Friday afternoon as well. That allowed me to finish painting my hydrangeas, both the leaves and the flowers. Today it’s . . . grass! On Wednesday afternoon, Wayne and I got the tree into its stand. It is a bit smaller than we usually have, but the advantage is that Wayne was able to carry it in by himself, and it was a lot easier to handle when putting it in its stand. We decided that it’s about as large as we want to get going forward, eight to nine feet high.

On Thursday, Maja said she was taking another day off from exercise class, and although I felt I should go, I decided to take a quiet Thursday like I used to have. Luke was at Doggy Day Care, and all I needed to get done was dishes and a start on the week’s laundry. I thought about putting the lights on the tree, but then I decided to just be lazy. It was refreshing.

That afternoon around 4, I left to get Luke from Doggy Day Care. It was raining up by us, but when I got halfway to the highway, it started sleeting. At that point, I was on Gabriel Road. I picked up Luke and turned around and came back. That took me about 20 minutes. By the time I got back about to the point on Gabriel Road (a two-lane, windy road) where it had started sleeting, there was about 1/2 inch of snow on the road and ice underneath. I was in a long line of cars that was just sitting there. We moved forward slowly and I finally saw that someone had spun out on the road and was facing backwards in the middle of the road. It also looked like he hit someone or was hit by someone, but there wasn’t another car immediately apparent. The other cars were slowly driving around him, and some guys by the side of the road were waiting to bring a tractor out, so apparently his car wouldn’t run.

No sooner had we passed him than we slowed up again. This time a school bus was just sitting in the right lane, and we were taking turns with the other side to go around it.

No sooner had we passed the bus than another line formed. This time a sedan was having trouble getting up a hill. The rest of us drove around it. After that, it was slow driving, but we didn’t encounter any more accidents or impediments.

Of course, since I spent the bulk of Friday afternoon in art class and a long time in tai chi on Saturday (as my class is now 1 1/2 hours long and starts at 11:15), I didn’t get much done those days, either. In fact, although I have signed up for Introductory tai chi again for January through March, they are really pushing us to go into Continuing, and I am considering it, if only because it starts at 9:15 and I’ll get it over with. At least if most of the people from my class go into it, it won’t be just experts and me, which it mostly was before. However, because I missed a few classes, there are still a few moves I don’t know and I am better a learning them in context.

On Sunday, I got a little more done. I at least got most of the laundry done and the lights on the tree. However, by the time I finished that, it was 2 PM. I didn’t want to ask about help from the Christmas elf (aka my great niece) then, because I didn’t want to work on it that afternoon. As it turns out, she can’t do it this year because of rehearsals for the play she’s in, but my great nephew wants to help and his mother is bringing him over today. I told her she didn’t need to, but she said it would be nice to have a visit and her son wanted to come.

Incidentally, it started snowing on Sunday and snowed all day long. Luke and I went out for a walk in the afternoon and came back with snow all over us. By the end of the day, we had another accumulation, so much so that I was worried about my plans for Christine the next day. However, it turned out that only our little road and the first major road were slippery. Everything else had had enough traffic to be clear.

I took this photo after dark on Sunday. The driveway isn’t too deep but the snow is clumping, so it looks like a lot more than it is.

Incidentally, this week I was curious about how early the snow seemed to be, so I looked back at my blog to see the dates of our earliest snowfalls each year since we’ve been here. It turns out this year’s is early. Two years the first snowfall was the week of Christmas, and otherwise, it was in January or February. We may have had incidental snow before that, in fact, I believe we had a few flakes this year in October, but these are the dates of the first sticking snow.

On Monday, Christine and I had decided to take a trip to World Market after my doctor’s appointment. I got there early, so we decided to go to breakfast first instead of lunch later. World Market had improved a lot since last year, so maybe they weren’t cutting back, as I had supposed, but having supply issues. We got a lot of standard stuff that Wayne and I usually get for Christmas. Then we went to Barnes and Noble so that I could check out their Christmas cards. Their selection was a lot better than last year, too. It seems to be the only store in the Vancouver area, at least that I’ve located so far, that has a decent selection of Christmas cards. Not that it compares to the selection that Book People always had, tables and tables of cards, and just when you thought you’d looked at them all, you’d find another table.

After shopping, we went back to Christine’s and visited a while, and then I went home and took Luke out for a walk. I’m sure he was disappointed to smell Duchess on my pants.

Yesterday, Maja and I finally prepared to go to exercise class. I would normally have registered for the class early, but since my cruise, the club app has been screwed up on my phone. A few weeks ago, I had to delete it and reinstall it, and then it turned out that I couldn’t remember my password. I didn’t do anything about resetting it until yesterday afternoon. This is a long way of explaining that I didn’t look at the class in the app. Maja didn’t either until we were in the parking lot. Then she saw that the class was cancelled. We should have known better since Maja knew that our instructor was out of town and they have problems getting substitutes. We had the usual discussion where Maja sort of wanted to go in and use the machines and I definitely didn’t want to but said I would agree to 20 minutes. (I find it horribly boring.) But we ended up back home. At least, although we wasted an hour and a half, we got some of our time back from the amount of time it would usually take to get there, have class, wait around for Maja to talk to everyone, and get back. When I got home, I spent some time on Christmas cards.

This week the county reports another 407 cases of Covid for a total of 108, 087. That’s quite a bit more than last week. However, there have been no additional deaths. That’s the first time I could say that since it started. The rate of new cases per 100K population is up 27.4 to 74.5, though.

In which we celebrate Thanksgiving (and get some white stuff and a tree in our driveway)

Last week was Thanksgiving, and I was hosting it, so I skipped my Tuesday exercise class to finish my cleaning. On Wednesday, I went to art class but then I came home with a mission to make pumpkin pies. I was procrastinating cleaning the kitchen first, though, so I didn’t get the pies made until late in the afternoon. This was in between messaging with my brother and sister-in-law about plans for the next day.

I of course made a big mess in the kitchen making pies, which I didn’t clean up until the next morning. However, by 11:30, the kitchen was clean, the dressing was made and stuffed into the turkey, and the turkey was in the oven, so I had several hours before me to just relax, since I had told everyone to come in the mid-afternoon. I knew my sister-in-law was coming over to cook, but I didn’t expect her at noon, which was when she arrived. She brought my great-niece with her, whose job was going to be to make the mashed potatoes, but it was far too early for that, so she went into the basement and played the piano.

In any case, we got our portions of the feast made, and everyone else started to arrive beginning around 2. My niece and her husband had planned a surprise, but I noticed him sneaking around the front yard with a box and asked what he was doing. They had brought along a giant turkey that they received by mistake when they ordered a skeleton for Halloween. We thought it was so funny that it is now a new holiday tradition. They blew it up so that it was actually looking in my front window. We turned it a bit to take photos. And here’s one.

Our new Thanksgiving tradition. Silliness with a plastic turkey.

By 3:15 we were ready for dinner, except my older brother and his wife hadn’t arrived. We called them and had to start without them. They had planned to arrive at 4:30. Although we hadn’t expected to see my sister, because she had made other plans with her son and grandson, it turned out she was sick that day. My middle brother and his family weren’t able to make it down.

The day went very well except that around 4 PM I felt like I hit a wall. I was suddenly very tired. So, after I ate, I went into the living room for a little while where it was quieter. At one point, I saw one of my brothers pick up a big hunk of turkey from the platter and feed it to my dog. This led to a series of doggy crimes that has lasted the last few days. Apparently, he was so overpowered by lust for meat that he went back and tried to get turkey off the platter on the counter, something he hasn’t done in a long time. He spent some of the holiday in his crate as a result. Then Monday night when I was making bacon for my turkey/wild rice soup, he stole a cooked slice off the counter that was cooling off so I could crumble it. More crate time. And Tuesday morning I heard him get back up there again after I had bacon and eggs for breakfast. There wasn’t anything up there that time. I thought we had trained him not to get up and look on the counter for food.

The other result from the original large portion of turkey was, since he isn’t used to eating large quantities of rich food, he was sick for three days after Thanksgiving, vomiting several times.

On Friday night, we were invited over to my niece’s house to taste the Salt N Straw Thanksgiving flavors of ice cream (unusual flavors, like turkey and cranberry sauce, but very good; the best one was Parker House rolls with salted butter). I was disappointed that they didn’t get Mom’s Mango Pie, which I had heard about on TV the week before (I think a contestant on a game show said it was his mom’s recipe), but they didn’t think it sounded seasonal enough. Anyway, the flavors were delicious

Wayne went home after the ice cream, and I played a game with the others that was lots of fun. I think it was called Mysterium or something like that. The object was like Clue, to guess a murderer, location of crime, and weapon, but you were being given hints by a “ghost” in a haunted house. It wasn’t a competitive game at all, because the object was for everyone to cooperate to get everyone through to the end in a certain number of turns. Each player had his own set of murderer, location, and weapon, but then we went back through again to find the one correct set. During that turn, each person tried to guess the right combination, and we all ended up guessing the right one. The setting was fun, too. There was a haunted house that the ghost used to set up her clues. My niece was the ghost. She knew the solution and was giving hints to everyone in the form of playing cards.

Saturday was a lazy day for us after my tai chi class and some shopping. We originally had plans to go see a Native American performance of masks and dances and stories at the Lalooska Foundation, but they cancelled the performance because several of their dancers were sick. I expected to hear something about alternate plans from my brother but stupidly left my phone in my purse, where I can’t hear it, when I got home. They planned to watch Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie, but it wasn’t available. I got the message late, but it turned out they watched a video-game-based movie, which didn’t interest me at all.

On Sunday my brother and sister-in-law stopped by for a short visit in between helping plant trees and baking. My brother has become a big baker since Covid. They left the next day to go home.

Luke loves the snow. This photo looks black and white, but it is full color.

On Monday we were expecting snow, but it didn’t snow all day and in fact didn’t look like it was going to. Then suddenly in the late afternoon, we got covered in snow in about five minute’s time. It was still snowing on Tuesday morning.

Also on Tuesday morning, we had an impromptu neighborhood get-together. That was because a big tree came down across our road just at the end of our driveway, so that no one in our neighborhood could get in or out. I’d been hearing chain saws, but that’s nothing new in our neighborhood. Then Wayne went down to put the heater on the wellhead and returned to say that the tree had come down at the end of the drive and our niece was down there. When I got there, I saw two of our neighbors with chainsaws cutting and moving the trunk, and my niece’s husband had his smaller chain saw out and was cutting the branches up. My niece and her children were moving smaller branches and moss off the road, and another neighbor, the newest one, showed up and did the same. Wayne and I pitched in, although I didn’t have my gloves with me and he was mostly moving things with his cane. We were out there for about a half hour before enough was cleared to allow my niece to leave for her doctor’s appointment and my great niece’s school. We stayed until the road was mostly clear. Tony, the first neighbor who stopped, told us that he had been there working for about an hour before anyone else showed up. Although you can’t tell from my photo, the tree was a big one with the trunk two feet in diameter.

Wayne is standing in our driveway. The tree came down from the opposite side of the road, well back to the left of the picture. The trunk was huge, about two feet in diameter. The pieces you can see in this photo are just the branches.

While we were down there, our neighbor Tony, who is interested in wildlife, told us that some other neighbors (the ones who cause all the trouble) have been poaching deer. One is buried on their property, but another one died on another neighbor’s property. Apparently, it is legal on your own property with a bow, but the second deer was killed with a rifle. Tony found it and documented it and contacted the Fish and Wildlife folks. That deer was a doe carrying two fawns. We have been wondering why we never see any deer anymore. I hope something will be done about this. We had problems the last few years with the boys shooting rabbits on our and our other neighbor’s property. Now they’re going for bigger game.

Tuesday afternoon, we drove to Bi-Zi Farms to buy our Christmas tree. It was still snowing here, but it was raining down in the valley. Wayne tied the tree on top of the car with the ribbon ties with clamps, and we had to stop twice on the way home to retie it, because the tree was sliding all over the place. We drove the back roads so we could drive slowly, but when we gained elevation, they were slushy and hardly traveled on. Then Wayne did not turn where expected when we were almost home and after a while, I was almost totally lost. (He said he didn’t like “that corner,” by which I think he meant the turn onto the highway.) But after a while, after he turned left when I thought he should turn right, he admitted he didn’t know where we were. To add to all that, our tire light was on, indicating we had a soft tire. I turned on “Go Home,” and we found that we’d probably driven five miles out of our way. We finally got home (it was still snowing) wet and bedraggled, and after we hauled the tree off the car, we went in and had tea. What an odd day.

Today, after it rained all night, we have no snow left.

I have had some weird glitches with my phone and computer the last few days. When I sent the turkey picture above from my phone to my computer, it came in the mail in HEIC format, which my photo tool didn’t know what to do with. I didn’t noticed the extension of the file, and after I tried to open it, the photo tool wouldn’t open the JPEG version. I wasn’t able to solve that problem because I was trying to do other things, but this morning, the turkey picture came in fine.

Then on Monday afternoon I tried to take a photo of five minutes of snow, but my camera turned black. I think that was just a memory problem, although my reverse view for taking selfies has acted like that for some time. I didn’t think I got the photos, but Tuesday morning after I took my phone off the charger, there they were.

However, on Tuesday morning, I also had problems getting to any sites on the web from my computer, even though there was nothing wrong with the Internet. It was really odd, and I only solved it by restarting my computer. I even tried several other browsers to no avail. Chrome would sit there acting like it was opening the sites, but they would not open. Or, in the other browsers, it didn’t even act like it was trying to open them. Hmmm.

I’ve heard bad things about increases in Covid in California, so I expect that to happen here, but so far things are still slowing down. The county reports 216 new cases this week, for a total of 107,286. There have been 3 more deaths for a total of 961. However the rate of new cases per 100K population is up only 1 to 47.9.

In which we prepare for Thanksgiving

I usually shop quite early for Thanksgiving, but this year, I procrastinated. We bought our turkey at Costco last Monday, but I didn’t do the rest of the shopping until Sunday. There were a few things that were cleared out, but the shocking thing was that I couldn’t find a pie pumpkin, or even the consciousness of pie pumpkins, anywhere in town. That is, when I asked produce department people about them, I got a look that said What’s a pie pumpkin? and then was told they hadn’t had pumpkins since Halloween. Guess what, guys? Those aren’t pie pumpkins. This is odd, because last year they were easy to find; however, it’s what happens when the same company owns every grocery store in town, which is almost the case, with Albertson’s trying to buy Kroger, which bought Fred Meyer a few years ago.

I finally finished my shopping, but I went home first and then got Wayne to drive me to Chuck’s in Vancouver, which not only knew what pie pumpkins were but had them. My knees have been bothering me lately, and one thing they don’t seem to like at all is driving.

Other than that, and spending more time cleaning the house, the week was fairly normal, although I skipped my Thursday exercise class and yesterday’s as well to spend more time cleaning. However, I did attend tai chi and art class.

Last night, my brother and sister-in-law called us from the road and invited us to meet them for dinner at the Fargher Lakehouse before they went to my niece’s house, where they are staying. This was a big test for us. We used to eat at this restaurant fairly regularly, but during the pandemic, we ordered take-out from it several times and the food was not good. In particular, although I asked for a medium-rare burger, I got a well-done one. We weren’t sure if the change of quality was permanent or if the food just wasn’t as good after being transported home. I was going to order something entirely different, but my sister-in-law ordered a burger and they asked her how she wanted it done, so I decided to try it again. After ordering a medium-rare burger, I got a well-done one. I pointed this out to the waitress, but it took us so long to get our food, despite being only the third table that was occupied when we arrived at the restaurant, that I opted to just struggle through half the burger and left the rest uneaten. This restaurant has failed its test. Wayne ordered fish and chips, and his fish was so overcooked that you could tell that just by looking at it, without taking a bite. We won’t be going back. It’s a shame, because it was the only decent restaurant nearby.

Our weather was sunny and cold until yesterday, when it started raining. It was so cold, in fact, that even though the daytime temperatures were above freezing, the ice that Wayne knocked out of the birdbath (because a bird was trying to get a drink and couldn’t), a slab about an inch thick, lay on the lawn for several days unmelted. However, since it started raining, it’s been warmer and the ice melted.

The county reports 216 new Covid cases, for a total of 107,286. We have had 3 more deaths, for a total of 961. The rate of new cases per 100K population is up 1 to 47.9. Now I have to get ready for art class. After that, I’ll be making pumpkin pies.