A beautiful, white Valentine’s Day surprise

This is what I woke to this morning. A view of the end of our deck with our covered patio furniture, our hummingbird feeder, and some nice trees

This is what I awoke to this beautiful Valentine’s Day morning. Lately, we have had some clear, cold days, gorgeous weather, but except for the temperature going down, I was inclined to think winter was over. My sister was remarking that her bulbs had already started to come up. Snow was forecast for this morning, but last night the weather guy over in Portland was saying that snow would reach pass levels, which usually means three or four thousand feet, not one thousand. But here it is, the thick, sticky kind. Unfortunately, it is already melting, and it’s supposed to be raining by ten. (But it is ten now, and it’s not, so maybe we’ll get to keep it a while. I wrote the sentence before around eight.)

At the edge of the orchard on the road. Our house is back in the distance up the hill. You can just barely see the roof line next to the large fir tree.

My husband got back out of bed a little while ago, and we walked down the driveway to take pictures of the snow. It was gorgeous. We saw one of our neighbor kids with a pickup out in his yard, slewing around on the course that they made for their ATV. He looked stuck. Later, he came down the road. We thought he was going to pass us, but he apparently came down just to see if we needed help.

Schools are cancelled up here in northern Clark County, and so is our long walk. But I am just going to have to go out in this again, if only to the end of the road.

Last week, my neighbor and I went back to Moulton Falls for our long walk. We went to another entrance to the park. Our original intention was to go about two miles along the river and then turn back, but we turned back a little earlier. I think we walked about 3.6 miles.

Our road. The creek to the right is not on our property, but it goes under the road just there and comes out in a little cataract on the other side, then goes into our pond.

This week the kit for my raised beds was delivered, and we made arrangements with our contractors to take down the top of the shed thing, what our contractor calls the carport. We’re leaving the side beams to fasten fencing to, as we’ll need something to protect the garden from the deer and other critters. So, I hope not to miss this year’s planting season. We also might add an extra area behind the garden for chickens, although now we’re talking about making the wolf pen smaller and putting chickens in there instead.

My husband went for his sleep assessment Monday night. I thought maybe I’d sleep better for having the whole bed to myself and Hillary, the cat, since he tends to take up more than his half. But I did not. I’m not sure if my lack of sleep was because he wasn’t in the house for the first time since we moved here or because of my assessment the next day. I am a poor sleeper, so anything out of the ordinary can keep me awake.

Yesterday was my assessment for the library job, and we are supposed to hear about the “next steps” by Friday. More on that later, after I hear whether I got the job.

Art class was after the assessment, and I made good progress on my bird. It’s possible I will finish my picture next week or the week after. When I got to class, I saw that someone had broken out both the front door and the window. They were covered with plywood. The receptionist said that someone broke in the back door late Monday night. From the camera, he appeared to be a homeless person. He didn’t steal anything, just sat in a chair for a while. Then he took the fire extinguisher and busted the door and window and left. Everyone in the school was shocked, but at least he didn’t do anything worse.

I’m looking forward to a lovely relaxed day with nowhere to go and nothing special to do. Maybe I’ll do the laundry a day early.


Among other things, a tour of Russian grocery stores

A beautiful day for a walk. Our deck looking north toward our orchard

It looks like Wednesday is becoming the default day for my long walk with the neighbor. Today, for the first time in I don’t know when, it’s beautiful out. I’m hoping it lasts. Yesterday, our contractor came over to look at some jobs we want estimates for, and it was nice while he was here, but as soon as I went out for my short walk down the road, it got gray again. Right now the weather is cool and sunny, and it would be nice if it was like that for our walk later this morning.

Last Wednesday, we went to a little county park along the Lewis River for our walk. We were attempting to walk a 2.5-mile trail indicated on the maps, but we kept getting off it and missed the correct way back. I think we probably walked about three miles. It was a gray day but not rainy. In fact, despite being rather drippy most days, the only real rain we got was last Tuesday night on the way back from art class.

I don’t think I mentioned that last week I applied for a job. Probably that was because I didn’t see the job notice until Thursday, when I sat down and made out the application immediately. I may have mentioned last year that I talked to the manager of the Battle Ground library about volunteering there, and that was when I discovered that they don’t allow volunteers to do any real library work. She suggested I keep an eye out for positions that sounded a bit like floater substitutes. I have been looking ever since, but this is the first job notice I’ve seen that sounds like it might be like that, only it is a senior position. I have some experience working in libraries way back, so I don’t know if they would consider me qualified. In fact, I was inclined to think this may be a position where they already had a candidate in mind for a promotion. However, this morning I received an email notifying me that I needed to sign up for an assessment next week of my computer skills and book-sorting capabilities. So, I have an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. This is a part-time position over at the Ridgefield library, so a bit of a drive.

Last Thursday, my sister and I went for our first weigh-in at Weight Watchers after joining. I lost 6.4 pounds, and my sister lost 2. A very good start for both of us.

On Thursday, as I said, I spent the day working on my job application, resume, and cover letter. I did not have all the information I needed. I wish I’d kept a copy of my state application for Texas, as I had to find the phone numbers and addresses for every business. Then there was the job of finding people for references. It’s been a long time since I was asked to supply any references at all, most companies in high tech being satisfied with calls to former employers.

On Saturday, we rescheduled an outing that was designed to get my husband out of the house. He doesn’t walk much anymore after injuring his knee two years ago, despite the doctor’s telling him that he needs to exercise more. And he tends to turn down opportunities to do things, preferring to stay home. So, my friend in Portland and I arranged that we would take the train into Portland and meet her at the Gateway station, where she would drive us to visit several Russian grocery stores in the area. There is a large population of Russians out here, I was originally surprised to find. My husband not only studied Russian (as did I, although I doubt that I can remember any) but he visited several times during the days of the U.S.S.R., and he actually lived there for a year with his ex-wife, when she was on a Fulbright. So, he’s the one who knows about Russian food.

On Saturday mornings, I take my great-niece to her tae kwon do class. I started doing that when I found out that she was missing the class most weekends because her parents kept forgetting about it. She loves that class so much that I thought she should be able to go if she wanted to (and incidentally, this Friday night she is testing for her yellow belt; she is all excited). When I left to pick her up, my husband told me he would be ready to go to Portland when I got back, and he seemed to be perfectly well. However, when I arrived home after dropping her off, I didn’t see him in the living room and got a sinking feeling. Sure enough, he was back in bed, and I heard the usual. He felt crappy. His legs hurt. He didn’t go.

My friend and I had a great time, although we didn’t end up eating Russian food (bought some, though). The one place that had a delicious-looking deli only had a weird little place outside to eat, so we went for train sushi. I brought back some cheese, bread, crackers, and cookies for my husband. I was tempted by the many jars of different kinds of mushrooms we found in one place, but I was afraid they would be pickled. I don’t like pickled things very much.

My picture in art class is coming along. This week I painted pine needles on top of my branches that are covered in snow and worked on my bird. My new teacher said, “This is really your first oil painting?” (Technically, it is not, but I haven’t painted in 25 years and at that time received a minimum of instruction.) I said yes, and she said, “In that case, this is remarkable.” I almost took a photo of my picture for you but decided that my phone was too buried under my art supplies.


The weather guys get it wrong

Our driveway at 8 AM Thursday. You can see the snow is still coming down.

Snow was forecast for Thursday night and all day Friday last week. When I got out of bed Thursday morning at 8 AM, I thought to myself, it is light out, good. That means it isn’t raining, and we can go for our walk. Then I opened the curtains to see that it was snowing. Even the more recent forecast for our area showed that it wouldn’t snow until 11 AM, and our local weather station in Portland was saying there would be snow at 5,000 feet and up. We are at almost exactly 1,000 feet.

At first, my neighbor seemed reluctant to walk in the snow, which tempted me much more than the usual drizzly weather, but after I suggested we go walking farther down in the valley, where there probably wasn’t any snow. She said, “Oh, let’s just go.” In any case, at the park by Moulton Falls where we chose to walk, there wasn’t any snow, just puddles. I guess it is just far enough lower in altitude that it didn’t get snowed on.

It was a gray day, and drippy, but it was a nice day to walk. There weren’t very many people in the park until we met a group of about 30 who were in a Portland hiking club for seniors. I told them we were the Yacolt hiking club for seniors.

The view from the walking bridge over the East Fork of the Lewis River in Moulton Falls Park

We didn’t pay any attention to how far we walked or how long, although we were getting a little tired on the way back. What was my surprise to find that we walked nearly five miles and were gone more than three hours!

Here is a picture I snapped on our way back to the car. You can see that it’s a gray, foggy day. We got wet but only had to walk through a few puddles.

Today we are going walking again, I hope. So far, the weather is gloomy but not raining.

Another thing that happened Thursday was that the chimney sweeps were due out. In the morning, I asked my husband whether we shouldn’t call them and tell them that we had snow, as often we have it when the valley containing the larger towns and cities doesn’t, and workers arrive to be unpleasantly surprised. He said rather scoffingly that they didn’t care about snow. Well, the first thing they said when they arrived was, “We can’t go out on your roof. We’ll have to come back.” Our roof is rather steep, after all. So, Friday they came back, and we have had our stove burning merrily ever since.

Also on Thursday I went with my sister to Weight Watchers. I belonged years ago and managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but never gained my goal weight and just maintained my weight for over a year, which got discouraging. As soon as I quit counting everything I ate, I gained all of it back and more. Since I had almost weighed the same for many years, that scared me into thinking I shouldn’t diet again. But since then I have gained a lot of weight, so I’m trying again. We’ll see how it goes.

On Saturday we had plans to meet my Portland friend by taking the train into the Gateway station. She was going to pick us up there and take us on a tour of Russian grocery stores. However, I felt sick all Friday night, and my husband woke up complaining of being sick, too, so I cancelled. I had a runny nose and sore throat from stuff going down it, and I was worried about the flu. However, after several doses of hot lemon and some Nyquil the next night, I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. My nose still runs sometimes, so I can only think it might be an allergy. Our expedition to Portland is postponed to this weekend.

On Sunday we were invited to my niece’s house for dinner to help consume the prime rib that came with the beef they buy in bulk. I think my niece and sister divide a half steer, and that feeds them beef for quite some time. Dinner was delicious. I brought roasted beans and asparagus.

Finally, last night we met our new art teacher. She is not Theresa, as I had feared, but a new teacher. So far, it’s difficult to tell how good a teacher she will be as she was just observing. I spent the evening trying to paint my bird. I felt fairly frustrated, as my bird has lots of brown markings on whitish feathers. I thought I was just painting blobs. It’s at times like this that require patience that I fall down on the job, having no patience at all.

Slow week

Not much is going on yet this week, although the end of the week will be busier. I was supposed to go for my first extended walk with the neighbor today, but she has cancelled because of the rain. We have missed all the nice days we might have tried to go because rain was forecast and I didn’t want to invite her at the last minute once it proved to be nice. We are going to try for tomorrow.

Yesterday, we were up and out very early. My husband had an appointment with a sleep center in Vancouver. Ever since he had radiation therapy 11 or 12 years ago, he has had a sleep disorder. He goes to sleep okay at night and then wakes up around 2 or 3 AM and usually can’t get back to sleep. This means he takes lots of naps. It never seemed to occur to our Austin doctor to refer him to a sleep center. He has tried lots of sleep remedies, but most of them have to do with going to sleep, not staying asleep, and he doesn’t want to take a possibly addictive medication. But he has tried rooibos tea, melatonin, and even a marijuana infusion (it’s legal here). That worked the best, but not as a regular dose before bed. That is, it worked three or four nights in a row then stopped working. So, finally, he has a referral to a sleep clinic. He has his sleep study next month. It’s possible he has sleep apnea.

I went along for his appointment because it was in Vancouver, and I had other things I wanted to do there. We went to a craft shop afterwards, where I was looking for some small paint brushes to use for the needles on my pine trees (in my painting, of course). Then we went for breakfast at Elmer’s and on into Portland to Ikea.

My husband has switched from sitting on the sectional to using our Amish rocking glider. He started sitting there because he has trouble getting up out of the sectional, which is low. First, he started by pulling the rocker out of position so that he could see the TV. It ended up in a passageway, so I was always having to push it back when he wasn’t sitting in it. Finally, a few weeks ago, I rearranged the furniture so that his rocking glider could be permanently in a good place for TV watching.

My husband’s cozy corner. The table doesn’t match the chair, but it does go well with the sectional, which is across the way. The double doors behind are usually open. They are to my little office, but my desk is messy, so I closed them.

But then he didn’t have a place to put his remote controls, drinks, and so on. (Of course, the remote controls are his.) So, he kept pulling out a table from the wall. Thus, the table, with its cord attaching its lamp to the wall, was always in the walkway, and he never remembered to push it back when he wasn’t sitting there. So, he clearly needed a table next to his rocking chair. That’s what the trip to Ikea was for, and I’m here to tell you that Tuesday mornings are a good time to go. Always, before I retired, I had to go in the evenings or the weekends, and it was incredibly crowded. Yesterday, hardly anyone was there. My husband put his table together yesterday afternoon, and now he has his own cozy corner of the living room.

We are ramping up to have our contractor back to bid on a few jobs around the house. I have figured out that I’ll never get my raised beds for planting vegetables if I don’t get that shed thing removed. I’ve been waiting for my niece and her husband to help, but they are always busy, and every time they plan to come over and start, something comes up. As predicted, because if something isn’t full, my husband fills it, he has also filled it up with firewood, so now we need somewhere to put the firewood. We compromised. We’ll ask for a bid on tearing down the shed thing and building a woodshed elsewhere. You may ask, why not use the shed thing for wood? It’s because it’s located on the only part of our property up by the house that has full sun. As it is, I was peeved when my husband put the propane tank there, since he knew that since we bought our house, I’ve been planning to use that space for a garden.

With careful feeding of our cat every few hours, we have gotten it so she is only vomiting after breakfast. We think it’s because of the long period between dinner and breakfast, so we are going to try giving her some food before we go to bed. Also, my husband has to remember not to give her lots of food for breakfast. The problem seems to be that when she gets too hungry, she gulps her food, and then she throws up. If she is fed smaller amounts closer together, she doesn’t throw up.

In art class last night I painted snow on top of the branches of my trees. My teacher, Sarah, says that probably needs two weeks to dry thoroughly before we paint more needles on top of the snow. So, next week I’ll be painting my bird. Next week is my last class with Sarah before she takes pregnancy leave. We still don’t know who is taking her classes, but she thinks it will be a new teacher, who just graduated from art school, someone she knows well. If so, I will give her a chance before I think of changing classes. I just don’t want my last teacher, Theresa, back. Last night I heard another student asking Sarah about who is taking her classes. That student is a professional artist who is taking classes at the art school to learn watercolor. She was asking if the replacement teacher knew watercolor and saying that she needed someone who did. Of course, no one knows who the replacement is going to be, but Sarah said that if it is Theresa, she does not do watercolor. Sarah remarked that she was afraid that by the time she got back from pregnancy leave, she would have lost all her students, because so many of the adults are considering changing classes when she leaves.

Well, that’s all for this week, but starting tonight, a lot more is going on in the coming week, so there will be a little more to report.

Adventures with wood stoves

I am again posting late because this morning both my husband and I went to the dentist. I had my first exam in more than a year, and the dentist wanted to check my husband’s temporary bridge. After that, my husband decided to have his teeth examined and cleaned. It turns out I have no tartar on my teeth, something I can hardly believe, and good pockets in my gums. My dentist congratulated me on my good teeth genes. I guess it’s nice to have some good genes in my body.

Last weekend I finally took down my outside lights. It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to be doing something outside. While the rest of the country has been suffering, we’ve had temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s, and both weekend days were gorgeous, with no rain. Now, it’s gone back to being cloudy. Rain has been forecast all week, but we haven’t had very much or any each day.

Our other adventures had to do with our wood stove. As you may know, we had it installed last February, and we have been using it heavily. In fact, since my husband found it was easier to light if it was warm, most of the winter he has had a fire going almost 24/7. We have had a little trouble lighting it lately and we thought it was the new wood we bought, which hadn’t sat around all summer drying like our old wood. But on Friday, my husband cleaned out the ash pan for the stove, and when he did that, he pushed the chunks of charcoal out of the grill above it. He said he hasn’t done that before when he cleaned out the ash pan.

Well, the stove lit much easier and burned brighter, but when he went to bank it down that night, it wouldn’t calm down right away like it usually does. I suggested that was maybe because it was getting a lot more air because the grill wasn’t stuffed up. In trying to get the fire to bank down, my husband went outside and stuffed a magazine into the stove’s air intake, which I couldn’t help feeling was probably not a good idea. Shortly after that, the room got really hot, which it has done before, but not suddenly and not for a while. Then the smoke detector went off three times, although I could see no smoke. (The detector that went off is the one right up by the stovepipe at the top of the ceiling.) Next, I saw sparks flying through the air outside. My husband went out and said that there were flames shooting up the chimney. So, we aren’t going to light another fire until the chimney sweep comes out. This is early, though, to have to sweep the chimney. Snow is forecast for next week, so I hope we can get it swept quickly.

In art class, I spent the day painting needles on my tree branches. Oil painting is really different from drawing, because you put layers upon layers, waiting for the paint to dry in between. Next, I will paint snow on the branches, and then over the top of that, I’ll paint more needles. It takes a lot longer to do an oil painting than it does to draw a picture because of this layering. I didn’t get any sense of this when I took oil-painting classes before.

I think I’ve forgotten to report on some new birds I’ve seen lately. First, a big fat goldish, reddish fellow was sitting on my railing the other day. Hillary the cat was very interested in him. I think he was a northern flicker, the red-shafted kind. Then, lately I have seen some birds by the feeder that looked a lot like robins but had spots. I think these are spotted towhees. Finally, the other day I looked out the window and saw a large bird fly by. I couldn’t see his head, unfortunately, because he was flying through the trees, but judging by the gray speckling on his body, I think he was an immature bald eagle. Last year, I spotted a bald eagle just sitting in a tree by the road on the way into town. It’s nice to see more.

We have been a little worried about Hillary lately. She is almost 14 years old, and she seems healthy most of the time, still acting like a kitten sometimes. But she has had a recurrence of a problem she had as a kitten. When she was not quite six months old, she got an eye infection and when we went to the vet, I told her that Hillary had already had antibiotics and they had not agreed with her, so please not to prescribe them unless she really needed them. Well, of course she prescribed them. They really didn’t agree with her. She started vomiting all the time. She couldn’t hold down any of her food even after we stopped giving her the antibiotics. We ended up giving her some kind of prescription cat food that is not good for kittens. She was supposed to eat it only in very small amounts, and the poor kitten would beg for food. Plus, her brothers weren’t allowed to have any, so I had to feed her from my shoulder to keep them out of her food. It took a couple of months on this food, but eventually she got well. However, I’ve always been convinced that this period of malnutrition was why she never got very big. She is still not much bigger than a kitten.

For some reason, she has started vomiting all the time again. It started out with her treats, which she loves, so she would gulp them down without even chewing them, and she would vomit them whole. So, I stopped giving her the treats, and that seemed to help for a while, but now she is vomiting when she eats anything. Some of you may know that she’s a little bit wild and refuses to be picked up, so it’s kind of hard to take her in to the vet (like, impossible). Also, she hides when anyone comes over, so it would be hard to call in a traveling vet, which they have around here.

Feeding her less but more often has seemed to help, and we will go a couple of days without any vomiting, but then if we feed her at all late, it starts up again. She doesn’t seem to have lost any weight, though, so she must be getting enough to eat.

That’s about all I have to report this week. Aside from this, it’s been the usual housework, walks, lolling around, and reading.


Putting things away

Last week I ended up taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all of the decorations except the outside lights. They are dripping, and I am hoping to get a sunny day this weekend to take them down when they are dry. Even with a day on Monday that had little rain, they did not dry off.

After we took the Christmas tree out of the living room and swept up all the needles, we rearranged the furniture. My husband has started sitting in our Amish glider-style rocking chair instead of on the sectional, because he has difficulty getting up out of it. The only problem with that is that the glider was against the wall, and he had to move it into a walkway to see the TV. That would have been okay, but he refused to move it back again, so I was continually putting it back where it belonged. I decided to try to think of a furniture arrangement where the rocking chair would be permanently in a place where he could see things.

Our new living room arrangement. Before, both the rug and the sectional were pointing diagonally at the TV set and the rocking chair (off to the right) was against the wall by the wood stove.

I started out with one idea that didn’t work because of the size of our sectional and our living room rug. But then we settled for squaring off the sectional with the staircase instead of having it at an angle to the room. It really looks more spacious in the living room now, I think.

In art class, my glaze came out looking beautiful. I could not have predicted from the color it was last week how it would look this week, after it dried. I started out with a deep purple base, and last week painted over that with a brownish gray glaze. This week the entire background looked a warm gray, like it might on a blustery day. I spent the class painting in the branches surrounding the bird and painted the first layer of color on the bird. Next week, I think, I’ll be painting the needles on the branches.

Today, I’m blogging late because I took my husband to the dentist. The other night one of his crowns broke off, so we had to find a dentist fast. It looks like we found a good one. He has all sorts of high-tech equipment and was showing me how he was making a temporary bridge for my husband with a machine that is sort of like the opposite of a 3D printer. That is, it takes a block and carves it away electronically to the right shape for the bridge. I have already made an appointment with him for a check-up.

While my husband was at the dentist, I went and had my hair cut (I have gone from seeing a pricey stylist when I was working to just getting my hair trimmed at Great Clips) and then took my book for a crêpe and a latté at a  nice little café in town. Finally, I browsed for a while in the local used bookstore.

And that’s about it for today. I am rereading a book that I read when I was in my 20’s, and I am having quite a different reaction to it. It’s The Women’s Room by Marilyn French. At the time that I first read it, it made quite an impression on me, but now, although I think it is an important document for the times, I would not recommend it as good fiction. I’ll be discussing this on my other blog in April, for the 1977 Club.

First post of the new year

I am late posting today because we planned to go out earlyish to do a Costco run. My husband went back to bed at about 6 (he wakes up in the middle of the night and then sleeps again in the morning), though, and when I got up he was fairly unresponsive. So, I sat down and wrote up a book review of the book I finished reading last night for my other blog (review coming in a few months), and after a while, my husband got up. So, we went later than usual.

Oddly enough, the Costco here is packed at all times. We have found that they open it early, so if we get there before 10, we can go right in and it’s not as crowded. (That was our plan, but it didn’t work out.) I can’t really figure out why it is so full compared to the ones in Austin. My sister said because it is the only one serving a large area, but Vancouver isn’t nearly as big a town as Austin, even if you count the population of the small towns and countryside around it, and Austin had two Costcos serving more than a million people. So, population much more dense. The Vancouver store isn’t serving Portland, either, because they have two in Portland. My guess is that more people use Costco around here than in Austin, because the number of people with very large families is high (see my article concerning the Old Apostolic Lutherans in the area).  In our grocery store, for example, most of the meat is packaged for large families to accommodate them. So, I guess the OAL families are buying in bulk at Costco, too. I can think of lots of people I knew in Austin who said they didn’t shop at Costco because they didn’t have a large enough family.

That leads me to the big New Year’s Day sale they have around here. Last year when I saw it the first time, it really cracked me up. Every New Year’s Day, Fred Meyer, which is the local grocery store, has a sock sale. Yes, socks. It is packed. You don’t want to go anywhere near the Fred Meyer in Battle Ground on the day of the sock sale. I’m guessing that no one in the area buys socks any other day of the year. There are huge traffic jams on the two highways that run next to the store. This year, they completely rerouted the traffic going into and out of the store, and they finished it in time for the sale. I’m sure they had that goal in mind.

I really don’t have much news today. I am thinking about when to take down the Christmas tree. I’ve reflected that I no longer have to get it down on New Year’s weekend, which always seemed too early to me (although I know of people who take theirs down the day after Christmas), but was the weekend while I was working when I had enough time and was still able to make the deadline for when the city would pick up the tree. Of course, out here, we can get a permit to dispose of our tree, but last year we just cut it in half and threw it into the woods to decompose. It provides the birds a place to hide. So, maybe I’ll start this week, but it’s a relief not to have to be in a hurry. On the other hand, I remember that when  I was a kid, our family left our tree up sometimes until almost the end of January, and the whole time its needles were falling off onto the floor. Don’t want to wait that long.

On New Year’s Day we didn’t do anything except have a nice dinner, this year artichokes and lamb chops encrusted with garlic, herbs de Provence, and pepper. Long gone are the times when we had something to do on New Year’s Eve (although of course we did last year, because my brother came down from Seattle). As usual, we didn’t even make it up until midnight. On New Year’s Day, though, our neighbor stopped by with a tin of Christmas cookies. She is the neighbor I talked to about going walking sometime. We had left it that she would call me when her infected toe improved, but apparently she forgot that, because when we talked about it the other day, she said she thought she’d offended me because she hadn’t heard from me. (Actually, I asked her one day if she wanted to go to the Japanese greenhouse, so I guess she forgot that.) I thought I’d offended her because I didn’t hear from her. So, we were at cross purposes, and we’ll try again. Right now, she says she is a little depressed, so I’m waiting again to hear from her. But this time I will call her in about a week to see if she feels better. In any case, I’ve been much better about my own walking, most days managing a walk down to the end of the road and back. Just a mile, but it’s all the farther we can walk around here without getting killed trying to walk on the main road. If the neighbor and I go, we will drive to a nearby park and walk there.

I also helped my husband move a bunch of firewood from our driveway into a shed roof thing we have on our property. The problem with that is that I have wanted that thing removed ever since we moved here so that I can put raised beds there for gardening. It’s the only place near the house that gets full sun. So, if my niece and her husband ever make it over here to help us take it down, it’s going to be loaded with firewood and other things. (This is what happens when you live with a hoarder. He fills everything up.)

We thought my brother and his family were coming down sometime last week, but when I called him, they weren’t planning to come. They said we’d see them in the spring. They only live about three hours away in Seattle (well, it’s usually more like four or five hours, the traffic being so bad), so we should go visit them sometime. I don’t think my husband wants to drive in the traffic. Maybe my Portland friend would be interested in taking a day trip sometime.

We also heard from a friend in Houston. She said she wanted to see how we were doing in the cold. Well, I hated to tell her, but lately it’s been colder in Houston than it has been here. There is a high pressure system sitting on top of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been there ever since winter started. It’s kept us warmer than usual, which was why we had our snow so late and it went away so fast. Just about the entire rest of the country is freezing its butt off (including in Michigan, where another friend had to drive home from Christmas at her daughter’s house through a blizzard), but here it’s in the 40’s and even the 50’s during the day. Maybe we’ll get some more real winter later. At least we had our Christmas snow!

No pictures for you today, but speaking of pictures, last night in art class I learned how to make a glaze. I showed you the painting I am working on, just the purple background around what is going to be a bird, a couple of weeks ago. Last night, we made this brownish gray glaze and painted over the background, darkening it and lightening it in places. The color is really beautiful. I guess next week I get to start working on my bird.