Walks to waterfalls, beaches, and other amusements

I didn’t manage to post last week as I planned to, because I took an unexpected trip with my brother. The day I usually post, I was staying in a motel with a poor internet connection.

My brother John arrived the Wednesday before last. His flight was an hour late, and it was already due in latish, so we didn’t get home from the airport until midnight. Then, of course, the two of us stayed up late talking. That was the first of many nights in a row where I didn’t go to bed at my usual time, which is tough for me these days, but it was fun to stay up and chat. Some of the evenings, we sat out on our deck and listened to frogs, watched bats, and heard a pack of coyotes in the distance.

Most of the time John was here we all sat around talking, one day playing in the kid’s pool. For dinner, I was responsible for portions of two meals. The first was the Indian meal. I underestimated the time it would take to get my Big Green Egg up to temperature, so we ended up eating about an hour later than planned. Still, the tandoori chicken came out great. The naan didn’t seem to have the right texture, but I had trouble with the dough and will continue to experiment.

I also made almost all of a Mexican meal, enchiladas Suisses, topopo salad, black beans, and flan. It had been years since I did the beans, and I misread my cookbook to the result of destroying the crock for my crock pot. I thought it said to cook the beans in a crock on the stove, which I thought odd, but did it anyway. The author had been talking about crocks, and I was the victim of my own skim reading. The crock seemed to be okay, and then it went “Bang!” and it cracked clear around the bottom. All the black bean water went out onto the stove and into the cupboard below and on the floor. I managed to salvage the beans and spent quite some time cleaning up the water. Then I rechecked the recipe, and sure enough it said to cook the beans in a pot on the stove. Yikes! Later, that evening, my great niece remarked that my feet were completely black on the bottom because of wading around in the bean water trying to clean it up.

On the first Saturday John was here, we all decided to go for a hike. We were having a hard time deciding where to go, trying to find a hike that I could do but that would take us near water so that we could cool off, as it was supposed to be a very hot day. We drove way up into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the part that is near the east side of Mt. St. Helens, and we went on a series of short hikes. When it came to going somewhere with water, though, we hadn’t reckoned with the fact that all the trails in the Gorge near last year’s fires are closed, bringing all of the people who would usually go there up here. We went to Lower Falls on the Lewis River, and it was packed with people. The descent to the river was too steep for me, although it looked lovely, with a beautiful blue swimming hole. We couldn’t believe the number of people there, with boom boxes, umbrellas, and rolling coolers. Not our idea of a getaway. There was even a traffic jam.

Here’s a selfie we took while out hiking. That’s my sister, me, my brother, and my niece and her two kids, with her husband taking the picture.

I was able to cool off at Lower Falls and Middle Falls by walking farther down the river. At the one, I found a place where I could put my feet in the river, but it was too rocky and shallow to go swimming. At the other, we found our own private waterfall, just a little one with a hole at the bottom where you could sit and let the water trickle down on you. I will be detailing all four of these hikes this week and the following weeks on my blog The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking.

Steve, his son Will, John, Steve’s daughter Nadia, and Sage, the dog. Steve’s wife Mary and his daughter Áine were back at the hotel.

On Monday, John was due to go to Seattle to visit my youngest brother, Steve, and his family. Up until he left, they tried to get him to change his plans, offering a variety of reasons. Finally, they announced that they would actually be in Ocean Shores, and then they would be camping, and he was welcome to join them. John is a big camper, but he came prepared for hot weather here and Seattle, not for cooler coastal weather and camping. He didn’t even bring a long-sleeved shirt or socks. We brought up a load of camping equipment for him to borrow. Then Steve invited us all to come along. At that point, I decided to go as a surprise, although I would not be camping.

So, I unexpectedly went out of town on Monday and spent the next four days with them. We were in Ocean Shores for two days, which we spent at the beach and doing other things to amuse the kids, playing put-put golf, playing games at an arcade, and bowling. Then we started out on a tour of the Olympic Peninsula. We saw some beautiful beaches and did a couple more hikes, which I will also detail on Fat Girls. John was happy that I had gotten a room in a motel in Forks, because when he saw Steve’s camp site outside of Forks, he realized another tent wouldn’t fit, so he stayed with me. We spent a late night around the campfire with them and then went back to our motel. It rained all night, though, and so they did not camp the last night in Sequim.

We got back Friday afternoon and went over to Katrina’s for dinner, and then my sister took John to the airport on Saturday morning. I was so tired from all the late nights that I did a lot of sleeping that weekend. And as it has worked out, I have missed most of my usual activities this week. On Monday, I was still too tired to go to tai chi class. Monday night, I was driving my great niece to tae kwan do class and picking up my sister at her mechanic’s when I hit a pothole and got a flat tire. We changed to the spare, and since I already had an appointment for yesterday at the dealership (to replace a piece of our rear-view mirror that went missing on our trip around the Peninsula), I just thought I’d take my tire in for them to repair.

However, on Tuesday morning I finally talked my husband into going with me to the Y to take the arthritis water class while I did my deep water exercise class. We were on our way to that, after which we were going to the dealership, when practically every warning light on our dashboard lit up. This was so alarming that we pulled over and called up the dealership, who told us to come on in. Of course, we were there for hours, and it turned out I had bent both the front and back rims of the wheels.

Then we had to deal with the insurance person, who wanted us to let the car sit at the dealership for three days until some sort of inspector could get there to look at the damage to our car before the repair. We thought this was ridiculous, because the dealership said they could get the parts the next day or the day after. That would have delayed the repair on our car to the point where we would be without it for at least a week. My husband worked out a deal where we could pay for the repair ourselves, take our rims to the inspector afterwards, and get reimbursed.

Then the insurance person was supposed to send us a rental car. We waited and waited. Finally, I called the only office in Vancouver for that rental car outfit, and they had no order from the insurance people. We didn’t have our claim number because they emailed it to us at my husband’s email address instead of mine, where I could have got it on my phone. So, I went back to the dealership rep and asked him to get us a rental car, as I didn’t want to spend the whole day there. Enterprise was there to pick us up within 10 minutes. When we were at the Enterprise desk filling out the paperwork, the other rental company called me FROM OREGON! That’s right. Our insurance company contacted a rental car company that wasn’t even in the same state as we were. She knew we were in Vancouver, because she gave us the name of an inspector in Vancouver that we had to take our rims to. We don’t know how they’re going to handle the fact that we cancelled the rental car company, but we didn’t care.

On the garden front, while I was gone, my peas finally gave up the ghost because of the heat. I got another cup or so of them, and then I pulled them all up. Now, my onions and my beans will get some more sunlight.

And that’s about it. No art this last two weeks, just lots of sightseeing. However, my sister contacted me while I was away to tell me she had gotten a call from our art school. She is back in my class!


Getting ready for another visit

This last week I spent a lot of time communicating with the other Classics Club moderators and getting the house ready for a visit with my brother, who is arriving tonight from Madison.

On the Classics Club score, we were deciding how to break up the work and what we wanted to do differently with the blog. I had some trouble, still not resolved, because I am supposed to be the Classics Club moderator for Goodreads, but I have been unable to get access to the Classics Club page on Goodreads. We can’t figure out what is going on. To join the page, I have to submit a Join request, which does not arrive in the Classics Club mailbox, so we don’t know if the mail is set to go to another address or if something else is going on. Since I have no access, I can’t check it myself.

My usual day to work the blog will be Friday, but there is a backlog of new reviews submitted by members, so I spent several hours on Sunday working on these posts. There were reviews as far back as March, but I am happy to say that I at least made it into July. Some of the emails sent by the tool that collects the review information contain as many as 30+ reviews, so it’s no wonder the previous poster got so far behind.

On Friday, I went on an outing with my niece Katrina, her husband Ares, and their kids. We plan an Indian meal for when my brother gets here, so we went shopping at an Indian market in Vancouver. I got the spices I need for the marinade for tandoori chicken. My portion of the meal is to make the chicken and naan in my Big Green Egg. This will be interesting, as I haven’t actually tried to make these yet. I originally intended to practice before I was cooking for just me and my husband, but I ran out of time.

After shopping, we went out to eat at Lapellah, a favorite restaurant of my niece’s. Then we took the kids to a park for an hour or so before going to my great-niece’s tae kwon do class. During the time in the park, I spent a lot of time telling Katrina stories about our relatives while Ares watched the kids. We have decided to work on a genealogy chart for her house, the fancy kind you hang on the wall, using the information I have collected over the years. We also talked about the need to write down stories about our relatives before it is too late. I am sorry I didn’t start asking questions of my grandmothers until they really couldn’t remember anything anymore. Now, we are in danger of losing our memories of my parents and grandparents, let’s not even talk about those farther back, who I never met or heard much about. I remember tantalizing comments by my mother, such as that her grandmother was a saint, but I have no idea why she said that.

My first harvest of shelled peas

On the gardening front, I harvested my second cabbage and more broccoli and snap peas. I also harvested my first bunch of shelled peas. I only got about a cup of peas, but it was the perfect amount to put into pelmeni soup, which I made last weekend. That reminds me, I need to go out and look at the peas today to see if there are more. I think the peas, both shelled and snap, are almost over with. On the other hand, I have a nice looking tomato coming along, as well as four or five little ones. My pole beans are still very short, but they should get more sun after I pull up all my peas.

My brother John’s visit has been a little hampered by the antics of my younger brother’s family. We have all found them to be very unpredictable, and they are living up to their reputation in a predictable way. That is, they are predictable about being unpredictable. Last year, when John and his wife came, we had all made plans when they announced that they wanted to do things differently. The same thing has happened this year. They were consulted about what was a good time, and they said any time. Then my brother told everyone when he would be here and when he would go up to Seattle, where they live, so Ares and my sister made plans to take off work accordingly. Since then, Katrina and Ares have had several conversations with my younger brother’s wife trying to talk her out of completely rearranging John’s trip. First, they wanted to send their kids down to stay with Katrina and her family for a week and have John bring them back, but Katrina says she wants John to get to know her kids, which he has been unable to do when they were running wild with their cousins, which has been every time he has seen them. Then they said it would be better if John came up to Seattle first and then came down here next week, because of their daughter’s work schedule. But if we did that, my sister and Ares couldn’t spend any time with John, as they would be working. Finally, they announced that they had rented a house on the Oregon coast for next week. (I don’t know what happened to their daughter’s work schedule.) There was no mention of this three weeks ago when we began talking. Now it looks like John will be going to Oregon instead of Seattle. We are all confused, but it looks like we will be able to keep to our plans on this end.

Our hike was cancelled for today because now Shawn is going to the dentist. I hope I’ll still take a hike with my family this week so that I’ll have something to report on for The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking. I also skipped tai chi this week, attending deep water exercise instead, because my husband had a doctor’s appointment for the day I usually do that.

In art class, I almost completely finished the second coat for my background.

A new blog and other news

During our hike last week I tossed around an idea with Shawn that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I originally had this idea for a book, but it occurred to me that a blog would work just fine. So, after our hike in the lovely Salmon-Morgan Rivers Natural Area, I wrote up the first entry for a new blog, The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking. My idea came from my experience hiking trails that are rated by experienced hikers, especially their rating systems. My blog is designed for people who are not fit and will tell them all they need to know to decide whether the hike is for them. Each time I go on a new hike or do a new portion of an old hike, I’ll post an extensive review.

And that reminds me that I did two hikes this week, one at Salmon-Morgan, which is a beautiful old-growth forest, and the other on the promenade above Oregon City. I did that with my friend from Portland, Deb, and if you want to read about it, you know where to go. More about that day later.

One thing that happened last week before I even wrote last Wednesday’s blog was that I was selected to be one of four new moderators for the Classics Club blog. A few weeks ago they asked for people to apply, and I did so on the spur of the moment. I have the time, and it should be fun. We new moderators have been discussing how we will break up the work and what new ideas we have. The official announcement is coming out Friday, and we begin Monday.

That is probably not a great week for me to begin, because my brother is coming from Madison, Wisconsin, for a visit beginning next Wednesday. My day to work on the blog will be Friday, but maybe I can sneak in the first week on a day that one of the other moderators isn’t going to be on the blog and start my work early. If not, I get up early and can probably do some work over the weekend.

In art class, I got a lot done because I did a makeup with Oksana and my regular class with Sarah, so I was in art class for four hours. I finished the first coat of my background for my painting and painted a table in the foreground. It is nice being back in Sarah’s class. I understand that my sister is next on the waiting list, but she is still undecided about whether she wants to start again.

On Sunday, I took the train into Clackamas and met my friend Deb. We took her car to Oregon City, where we first explored the McLoughlin Promenade. It was a nice hike above the city, but then we went down some old iron stairs to the road below, where the path was right next to the busy Highway 99. You can see more about this hike on my new blog.

After lunch, we went to the Clackamas Community College for a performance of Sense and Sensibility. Yes, it was the same adaptation that we saw in Ashland early this year, and we were curious to see what it would be like. The production was much lower budget, but in some ways it was more appropriate as an Austen adaptation. Still, it was modernized, and there were some places where for humor they went places that were really inappropriate for the 19th century. The actresses that played the two main parts were much closer to the right ages than the actresses in Ashland, but we thought that Elinor would never have chosen the actor that played Edward Ferrars. Still, we enjoyed ourselves and found the production less shocking than the Ashland one.

This week I followed my new program of attending tai chi and deep water exercise. I’m trying to get my husband to try the arthritis water class. I asked some women in my deep water class about it, and one of them said that she had hardly been able to move before taking it a few years ago. I’m hoping that will encourage him to go, because his walking is getting more and more unsteady. He has been doing yard work around the house but otherwise not much else, and the yard work comes in spurts.

My basket of raspberries next to my gardening hat

Last night, I went over in the evening to pick raspberries at my niece’s house. She said that they already have picked enough for their use for the entire year. She cans and freezes, so she can accommodate more than I can. I think I might make a pie.

Today we are not doing our regular hike because of a dentist appointment, and so I must go brush my teeth.


A lazier week in some ways

The flowers on our pond. There are some in the foreground and some at the back, too, that aren’t quite as obvious.

This week, I noticed that the flowers on the pond have come out. I am not sure if they are water lilies or lotus flowers, but they are beautiful. In the spring we have yellow skunk cabbage flowers, and in the summer we have these lovely bright pink flowers.

We haven’t been down to the pond for a while, but we went down twice last week. The woodpecker family has left the hollow tree, but the woods around the pond abound in woodpeckers, and some of them look young. We saw the beaver carrying around a long leaf of grass in his mouth as he swam across the pond, and I saw a fish jump right out of the water. It is lovely here in the summer. We are finally in outright summer weather after the climate couldn’t seem to settle during the spring. First we would have a day or two of sun and warm weather, and then a several days of overcast weather and cold. Today it is supposed to be hot, up to the 90’s, perhaps, followed by a string of days like that. That is early for this area, I think.

This week I missed doing some of my usual activities. For one thing, I missed my hike. My neighbor is away for a month participating in Native American ceremonies. She is not a Native American, but it’s a long story. However, I planned to hike with my ex-tenant, who is my niece’s husband’s mother. However, I cancelled because my husband wanted me to help him work on the fence around my garden. As I might have mentioned last week, the deer finally discovered my garden, so we have started, but not finished, putting up a fence. Of course, I should have known better, because we did not end up working on the fence that day. So, I missed my hike for nothing.

My first cabbage

But speaking of gardens, here is a picture of my very first cabbage. I have picked most of my broccoli and picked all my spinach and uprooted the plants. Every day I go out and pick a handful of snap peas, and my shelled peas are starting to develop. On the down side, my red cabbage is crushing my one eggplant. Also, my sister suggested I replant my cherry tomato into another container, as it was being pushed out by the peas. I did, but it doesn’t look very happy.

What I did this week physically speaking was go sign up with the Y in Vancouver. Earlier this week I had a tai chi class, and yesterday a deep water exercise class. The tai chi class was sort of odd, not exactly what I remember from tai chi years ago, but the deep water exercise class was fun.

Otherwise this week I helped my husband work on the fence and we watered the trees in our orchard. We hauled five-gallon buckets with a small hole in each down to the orchard and ran a hose down. Then we filled each bucket at the base of a tree, moving them around to different trees as they emptied. One of our trees has small cherries on it! I can’t tell if they are sour cherries or unripe bing cherries. By the time I looked at this tree last year, the cherries were all gone.

I went to art class on Thursday night expecting to have my second class with Oksana, and Sarah was there! One of the women I met in my very first art class was in her class already. It turned out that the main office arranged for her to come back and didn’t tell our office manager, Angie. Angie said she hadn’t had time yet to figure out who from the wait list could make it into the class, because she didn’t know Sarah was coming back. I was just getting ready to go into Oksana’s class when she said she had an opening, and I could have it. I know I wasn’t at the top of the list, but I was on the spot, so I took it. I am so happy that Sarah is back, although Oksana seemed to be a very good teacher. I have just begun painting the background for my latest picture, a still life of my grandmother’s silver pitcher.

And that’s about it for this week. Shawn, my ex-tenant, will soon be here for our hike.

Island and peninsula

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Today I have reports of my vacation to the San Juan Islands, in particular, to San Juan.

Early Monday morning last week, my sister picked me up and we followed Ares, my niece’s nephew, and the kids to Anacortes, which is a bit north of Seattle. We stopped and had lunch at a touristy little chowder house and then we got on the ferry to Friday Harbor.

The ferry trip lasted about an hour. The kids were thrilled by it, which kept them occupied. I enjoyed myself picking out houses on the islands we passed and wondering what it was like to live there. I’ve always thought I would like to live on an island. It was windy and cold on the way over, but that just made the kids like it more.

The marina at Friday Harbor. You can see part of the ferry at the top right.

Friday Harbor is the main town on San Juan Island, which is the largest of the San Juans. The town is quite pretty, with a well-kept downtown and marina that, while a bit touristy, seem like places where real people could live, unlike some American tourist towns. Attention is spent to detail. There are lots of benches right at a scenic place above the marina, and the street lamps have flower baskets hanging from them. It’s a nice town.

Here are the two kids in our first sighting of the doe (next to the tree at the top). She was doing something with her nose in the grass. Later on, after we saw the fawn, we realized that she had been pushing the fawn with her nose to make it go back into the woods.

We hung around town for a little while and then drove to the house that Ares had rented. My sister Sue and I thought it was going to be a beach house, but it turned out that he and my niece purposefully rented a house that was not on the beach, although the ad implied it was nearby a waterway. It was, but it had no access to it. However, the house was very nice. It was large and had a capacious master suite and two other bedrooms. It had several living areas, including a play room with a foosball machine and air hockey. It also had all the implements and dishes you could ever want. Ares was really impressed by how well appointed it was. The house was in the woods, and we got quite a bit of wildlife back there, including a doe and her fawn. When we came home and jumped out of the car on our first evening, the fawn was nestled up against the house and we scared it. Later, it came walking through the back yard. These deer were the first of many we saw as we drove around the island, but they were not the only wildlife we saw. After a trip to the beach the next day, we left a live scallop on the front porch, and the next thing we knew, a raccoon was standing on the front porch holding it in his paws.

One of the lighthouses. That’s probably Canada’s Victoria Island off in the distance.

We spent the next two days driving and hiking around the island, visiting various sites, including lighthouses and the remnants of old forts. We also visited an alpaca farm. The beaches were beautiful, although most of them were stony. Views around the coast were spectacular. At one beach the kids saw a sea otter, but we didn’t spot any whales.

The mausoleum

Some of the things we visited were a mausoleum for one of the island’s founding families that was built with lots of Masonic symbolism. We had to walk through an old graveyard to get there, which thrilled the kids. We also spent time at a sculpture garden that was so large we only saw parts of it.

On Thursday, we boarded the ferry again. After lunch in Anacortes, we separated, Ares going home with the kids and my sister and I continuing on for a tour of the Olympic Peninsula. We had to catch another ferry leaving from Coupland. You are supposed to arrive at the ferry 1/2 hour early, and we were a minute late, so we thought that we were one of the last cars on board. But when the ferry left, we realized that in fact they had put us on the ferry before the one we were supposed to take. This ferry was much smaller, and the trip only took about 20 minutes.

Manresa Castle. From here, you can’t see the peeling walls.

The first thing I discovered when we arrived at Port Townsend was that my sister, who planned this part of the trip and made all the reservations, doesn’t read reviews. I think she picked Manresa Castle because she liked the idea of staying in a castle, but it wasn’t really a castle, just a rich man’s mansion. There was nothing actually that wrong with it, it was just a shame, that’s all. The outside of the place was impressive until you got close, when you could see the paint was peeling. The inside was all dark carved woodwork and antiques, and some of the public rooms were beautiful.

My sister in our suite. This picture makes it look pretty good. The devil is in the details, however. We thought it was a real shame that no one was paying a bit more attention to this place. For example, what you can’t see is that the top of that round table has almost all its finish worn off and there are lots of little strings hanging down from the upholstery of the chairs.

However, it was plain they were running the place on a shoestring. A little money spent to fix it up right would have been worth it. We had a large suite with a bed in one room with a sitting area and another bed in an adjacent room. Everywhere upgrades had been made, however, they were done cheaply. So, all the wood in the room was dark oak, but the doors put in sometime in the 50’s or 70’s to add the attached bathroom were framed in cheap white wood. For some reason, someone felt it necessary to open up the wall (besides the door) between the inner bedroom and the outer suite, so they cut a big hole in the wall and put a white frame around it. Not only did it look ridiculous, but it made it impossible for one person to go to bed in one room earlier than  the person in the other room. Presumably, it was to provide light into the bedroom, but why does a bedroom need any light. The other room with the sitting area had plenty of light. Then there were indications that no thought went into some things. For example, my bed, the outer one, had two nightstands and lights next to it, while Sue’s had none. She lugged the coffee table in from the sitting area to send them a message. Finally, there was a restaurant and parlor on the other side of the hotel that were beautiful and in wonderful shape but closed. Their web site says they’re trying to reopen the dining room and that’s what they told us, but I saw comments about it being closed from a year or more ago. We thought that if someone infused some capital to redo all the updates to look period, refinish and reupholster the furniture, improve the gardens by actually planting some flowers, and put in a good restaurant, they could be a lot more successful. As a final bobble, the next morning I went to make coffee and found that we had only cylinder coffee inserts in our room. The problem was that our coffee pot wasn’t the cylinder type. Just another example of shlockiness. The people working there were very nice, however, and the hotel was clean. It was just shabby.

Port Townsend itself seems to be a vibrant little community. They have a driving tour of old houses, which we took, and we saw some really charming and impressive ones. The downtown seems to be thriving, with lots of antique stores and restaurants and bed and breakfasts. Too bad we weren’t staying in one of them! And what could be bad about a smallish town that has four bookstores in about a two-block area? I would have liked to explore them, but I was physically tired from all the hiking the two days before (and no sleep–my room on San Juan was the kids’ room and it had lousy pillows), and Sue doesn’t like shopping. We had both done too much of it with Ares in Friday Harbor the day before. So, we just had dinner and went back to our room, where we decided that Caddy Shack, despite the cast, was a truly awful movie.

The next day we drove out into the Olympic Peninsula. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t with us on this expedition. First, we explored the eastern half of the peninsula. My sister had planned to drive up onto Hurricane Ridge, which apparently has a wonderful view of the entire area, but the clouds were really low, so we knew there would be no view. In fact, at one point when we were driving along the coast, we just started laughing, because all we could see was fog. We did get to see some beautiful beaches during this drive, even in the rain they were quite spectacular. The peninsula itself reminded me of parts of upper Michigan. Many of the communities were quite poor. A lot of the land that isn’t part of the Olympic National Forest is reservation land, and the Native American populations don’t seem to be doing very well, with an exception of one tribe at the bottom of the peninsula.

My sister’s taste in accommodations was even worse in Forks, because the second motel had no distinction at all. It was advertised as a suites motel, and in that case, you expect a working kitchen. We didn’t need a kitchen, but it was clear that families stayed there for that reason. Yet, the oven had the handle taken off, and there were absolutely no dishes or cooking utensils provided except a coffee pot and four cups. The suite itself was just dismal, all done in brown and burgundy, and pretty spartan, with drab minimal furnishings. Two queen-sized beds were crammed into the bedroom with no room for anything else except a small dresser. It looked to me as if someone back in the 70’s, maybe, had built this place to be one-bedroom apartments or condos hoping to sell them or rent them to tourists. I don’t think it had been updated since then.

I actually could drive down the short main street and pick out the motel I would have stayed in by its outside appearance, and it wasn’t the one we were in. In fact, when I looked up the reviews, the one I would have picked had the highest marks. Yes, we stayed in the Forks of Twilight fame. It seemed a little more prosperous than some of the communities we passed through. No vampires, though.

The next day we went hiking in a rain forest and saw some spectacularly large trees. We also stopped for lunch at the delightful Lake Quinault Lodge on the beautiful Lake Quinault. It was much more my idea of a place to stay on a trip up into the north woods, although probably a lot more expensive than the places we stayed. It rained all that final day of our trip. We started home after lunch at arrived back about 4:30 PM.

Here is Hillary admiring my gardening skills.

Although I had a very good time on the trip, I was happy to see my own bed and also happy to see that my broccoli and a few snap peas were ready to harvest. Unfortunately, a deer had been in my plants. One brussel sprout plant is a goner, and otherwise, the deer ate part of a cabbage leaf and some of the flowers off my eggplant, so that I only have the promise of one eggplant left. My husband and I started work on a fence the next day. I would have tried to put up something sooner, but we disagreed on the type of fence, and I was hoping the deer wouldn’t discover my garden this year. Now we are putting up the type of fence that I thought should go up in the first place. We have the poles in but haven’t started the actual fencing.



A change in routine

I am writing up this blog earlier in the week than usual, on Sunday, so that I will have something to post this Wednesday no matter how busy I am. This is because I am leaving early tomorrow, Monday morning, for a short trip to the San Juan Islands. I am going with my sister, my niece’s husband, and their two kids. My niece is taking the rare opportunity to stay home alone, and my husband is taking the all-to-frequent opportunity to do the same. On Thursday, everyone except my sister and I is coming back, but we are going to explore the Olympic Peninsula for a few more days, including spending the night in a haunted castle. What a castle is doing on the Olympic Peninsula, I do not know. In any case, I don’t see anything about it being haunted anywhere online.

This week, my neighbor and I went hiking again at Moulton Falls. We started out earlier than usual because it was supposed to be hot, and we were glad we did, because even on the shady hiking paths, it was muggy. For the first time, we saw people down in the water enjoying swimming and sitting on the rocks. That will continue all summer. We walked a little over three miles.

I was happy to see that last week I lost not only all the weight I gained over the last two weeks but a little bit more, for a total of 1.6 pounds. Because it was the first night at my evening art class, I went straight from Weight Watchers to the art school. Unfortunately, I was so hungry by the time I got home around 9 PM that I asked Wayne to go to McDonald’s, something I have not done in ages. I ate enough to use up not only all my points for that day but also almost all my weekly points (you get a set number of points each day and a set number of extra points for the week) for the whole week! (To be fair, that was only a quarter pounder with cheese and a mango smoothie plus the naughty lemon pound cake I had from Starbucks earlier. I ate that without looking it up first. Never again.) Considering that Thursday is my weigh-in day, that means that I ate the whole week’s worth of extra points in one meal. I am not out of points because I still have my daily points plus fitness points that I usually never use; however, I am obviously going to have to take a snack along with me to eat in between WW and class so I won’t get so hungry.

Art class seemed very different this week. My class was in the other classroom, for one thing. All my other classes have been in the same room. My new teacher, Oksana, at first seemed somewhat forbidding. That turned out to be because the main office signed up people for her class without telling them at the satellite school, and not knowing, she signed up people for makeups plus the receptionist put people like me into her class. So, she was overbooked and had to put some students into the other classroom. Alina, my previous teacher, was born in the Ukraine but was thoroughly American. Oksana is definitely Russian and we all sometimes have a bit of difficulty understanding each other. She had apparently not run across my name before, because she kept wanted to call me Kai, rhyming with “chai.”

Although Oksana’s classroom was noisy, too, it was the noise of a bunch of people working. She had mostly teenagers and a few older women like me in her class. I encountered Betty, a woman who was in Sarah’s class before Sarah went on maternity leave. She did not stay on for Sarah’s substitute because she is learning watercolor, and Oksana and Sarah are the only two watercolor instructors at our branch of the school. She said that she liked Oksana’s approach to watercolor, so that she is planning on staying in Oksana’s class when Sarah gets back.

Oksana was very helpful to me, which is what I have been missing a bit with my last two teachers, who were both involved in keeping control of all the children. When she saw my finished painting, which I picked up from the other classroom, she told me it was beautiful and asked if anyone had taken a picture of me with it. This is something that they do there, hang up pictures of the students with their finished art, but no one had taken more than one picture of me or my sister since we got there. The ones of us that are up are pictures from when we were studying drawing. So, she took my picture. I have included here the picture that I took of my painting, not the one of me and my painting.

This is a landscape I painted of the Oregon coast, very near where my friend Ray and I were a few weeks ago.

Oksana was very helpful to me in drawing my next picture, which is going to be from a photo I took in my own dining room. It is a silver vase that used to belong to my grandmother filled with peonies and some other flowers I bought at the produce market. We are going to move the vase over toward the center of the picture, get rid of the white door frame on the left of the picture, and remove the glass square the vase is sitting on. I finished the drawing on Thursday night and will begin transferring it to canvas a week from Thursday, after I return from my vacation.

This is my grandmother’s vase in my dining room. The blue reflected in the vase is actually me taking the picture. We like the color but will make it more generalized so that I’m not in the picture. You might be able to tell that I don’t like having my picture taken.

After it cools off and the sun isn’t on the garden, I’m going out to pick some more spinach to take along on our trip and then water the garden.

Next week I hope to have lots of news and pictures from my short holiday!


Getting briefly back to normal

This week just ordinary things to report, briefly, because next week we are going on vacation to the San Juan Islands!

Art class was really wild last week. The kids were out of control. This made me ask the receptionist, Angie, when Sarah was coming back from maternity leave, as I had always been resolved to switch into her class when she came back. I like Alina well enough, but we have too many young children in our class, and she is only 21 and doesn’t know how to handle them. Angie told me she had already put me on the waiting list for Sarah’s class and that they could open up the third classroom when she came back. They have a list that will fill the class up already of older women like me. Then she told me that if I wanted, Oksana, who has a class at the same time, has openings and she would put me in one. Oksana is one of the few teachers who does watercolor instruction, so it is hard to get into her class usually. I went home and thought about it, but I finally decided just to go for it. It is a late class on Thursday, and I had been hesitating because it would mean I wouldn’t get home until after 9 PM. But I will be on that same schedule for Sarah’s class, so I thought, what the heck. I start this week. I finished my painting last week, finally, but forgot to take a picture of it. I will post that next week.

Here is a picture of Moulton Falls on the other side of the highway. There is another falls to the side and above this one, but I did not think to take its picture.

My neighbor did not go on our hike this week. Instead, my sister and my former tenant went. We decided not to do anything out of the ordinary, just go back to Moulton Falls. Since it has a very easy path with few ups and downs, I left my hiking poles at home and regretted it. That’s because Shawn, my tenant (who is also my great-niece’s other grandmother), took us to a part of the park we hadn’t been to before. We took a side trail down to the highway and across, then took some old stone steps down and down and ended up on a bridge at the base of the actual falls. If you’ll recall, in my last post I said there weren’t really any falls, just rapids. But these are falls, if smallish. The stone steps go across to the other side and up, then there is a path through the forest and a substantial picnic area, and finally you go back across the highway to an area where we had been many times. We ended up getting most of our exercise in the area where we had been before, about 3.4 miles down and back. It turns out this park is much bigger than I had realized.

Other than that, I spent some time weed-whacking the slope again. We have spent a couple of days working outside, but it was very hot yesterday and is supposed to be today (hot for the Pacific Northwest, that is, which is not at all hot for Texas). So, I’m suspending the yard work until it cools off later this week. It was supposed to be hot during the weekend, but instead both days we got a late-afternoon thunder storm, which cooled it down nicely.

I put out another hummingbird feeder and bought a large hanging fuschia plant and put both out on the back deck a few weeks ago. Now we have hummingbirds everywhere back there, flying around, doing acrobatics over the empty area in front of the deck, and squabbling with each other. I love it!

Oh, yes, I only gained 0.6 pounds during my week of dissipation. Yay!