All over the place

Because I had guests this week, I have been on the run every day and have lots of pictures. This was a particularly fun visit because of all the places we went.

On Thursday morning, my friends Ray and Karen and I left for Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, picking up Deb in Clackamas on the way. I thought it was going to be interesting, because none of these people had ever met each other before. They just all knew me. But everyone got along very well.

On our way down to Ashland, we stopped in Albany to have lunch. We had intended to eat a Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant, but they had had a fire and were closed. So, we ate at a restaurant where we stopped last year, Brick and Mortar Cafe. While we were waiting for our table, we walked down the street so that Karen and Ray could see the reconstructed carousel.

We arrived in Ashland about 5:00 PM and checked in. We stayed at the Tudor Inn, the same place as last year, but not in the old motel part of the inn. Instead, we were in rooms across the street, which were much more expensive because they were fancier and this was during the high season. Between my room and Deb’s and next to Ray’s and Karen’s was a little sitting room that seemed like it was just for us, even though it was open to the other guests and had an exit off one end. It was nice, but if we go next year, we’ll try to get in the motel again. The opulence isn’t really worth the difference in price since our original rooms were just fine and neat and clean, with everything new.

Then we went to get our tickets at the box office, had dinner early, and wandered around town until our first play started at 8:00. I thought that because it was high season, the stores might stay open later than 6:00, but just like before, most of the stores closed at 6:00 except the Bloomsbury Bookstore (a very good bookstore).

Our first play was All’s Well That Ends Well in the Elizabethan Theater. The reason we chose to go during the summer this year was so we could attend the open-air Elizabethan Theater. And now I have to confess to a certain amount of idiocy, because although I knew we were going to an outdoor theater, I didn’t put two and two together about the forecast temperature until I walked into the theater and saw they were selling blankets. I hadn’t even worn the layers I could have worn. And, although I had told my guests way back when that it was open air, they had apparently forgotten. What made it worse was that when Ray checked the forecast before coming, it was showing hot temperatures for his whole visit, so he didn’t even bring a jacket, just a fleece vest. (His only souvenir of the trip was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival sweatshirt, which he bought first thing the next morning.)

I had only read the play a few weeks before departing and noted it wasn’t one of Shakespeare’s best. Plus, I was curious about how some of the ideas would go over with a modern audience, particularly the ending, where, no matter how jerky the man had acted throughout the play, the happy ending was his marriage to the heroine, or more accurately, his falling in love with his wife. The play was entertaining, but we weren’t sure we liked some of the artistic decisions. The costumes were very weird, sort of a cross between Elizabethan and 19th century, with some 20th century thrown in. A very odd choice was made in Helena’s costumes to dress her like an Elizabethan boy at some times (well, a stylized Elizabethan costume) and in overalls at other times. I don’t mind the idea of placing a play in another time period, but I would like them to make up their minds. I thought the costumes were more distracting than otherwise.

The audience did boo Bertram during the course of the play, and of course, he was the reluctant groom who ends up in a supposedly happy marriage with Helena at the end. I guess the audience most likely would not have booed him in Elizabethan times.

The experience was a good one, but we froze our butts off, not being smart enough to buy blankets. As always, it was better to see the play for me than to try to read it, but this play is not one that has beautiful speeches in it.

These were the turkeys in the park that let me walk up to within four feet of them before they started casually strolling away

In the morning, we strolled around Limpia Park for a while, but we didn’t realize until we bought a hiking map later in the day, just how extensive it is. We could see there was a big gate farther in, but we didn’t go that far. In part of the park, they were preparing for two events, and in another part, we saw a bunch of wild turkeys. They let me go quite near to them.

The Elizabethan Theater with the first setting for Macbeth

The next day, we had two plays to go to. One was As You Like It, which took place in the larger of the two other theaters. As You Like It has never been one of my favorite plays, because it just seems disjointed to me. In addition, I seldom very much enjoy the humor of Elizabethan times, although like other things, I often find it funnier in performance. There were also some interesting costume choices in this play as well as some annoying stylized movements at times, including at the opening of the play.

We all went to see Macbeth, which was the final play for me and Deb, the one I was most excited about seeing. This play was more traditionally staged except that they moved some scenes around for no apparent reason. I don’t have the play memorized or anything, but it was pretty obvious when they started the play with a fairly boring informational scene (a discussion of what was going on with the king) instead of the witches. I am not sure what would lead them to make such a decision to start the play that way instead of eerily, as it was meant. However, the witches stayed on the stage for most of the play, observing and adding to the eeriness, and that was a good decision. We all liked this play much better.

The North Mountain Park Nature Center has paths and benches and deer grazing on the grounds.

The next day, only Ray and Karen had a play and that was in the evening, Alice in Wonderland, so we had the day to kill. Karen decided to stay in and write postcards, etc., while Deb and Ray and I went out exploring. First, we took a very short river walk. Then we went across the road to the North Mountain Park Nature Center. Finally, we walked a couple of miles on the Bear Creek Greenway, which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, although at that point it was not in the mountains.

Recently, I heard of a new movie by Kenneth Branaugh about Shakespeare. I found out it had come out in 2018, but I couldn’t find it playing anywhere in our area, although I looked for it several times. To my delight, it was playing in Ashland. So, Saturday afternoon we all went to the movies. It was a very good movie, and I was happy to see it in a theater, because it had some nice panoramic shots.

Deb and I decided just to hang out in our rooms on Saturday night, although we went for dessert to Mix, a delicious bakery in Ashland, where we made a point to stop several times. We always split our desserts so didn’t feel too guilty about it. So, a quiet evening. Ray and Karen reported that they enjoyed their play and thought particularly that the costumes were very inventive. They also said that the few degrees warmer temperature made it much warmer in the audience, and they didn’t put their coats on until intermission.

Crater Lake

Early on Sunday morning, we got started, because our plan was to visit Crater Lake on the way home. We found out that only one road is open so far into the park, and that was the south one, which meant that we would have to backtrack on our way out rather than being able to come out farther north. The lake is simply breathtaking, so we were happy to have come even though it meant that we got home rather late. We took a picnic lunch with us. You could only drive up to the Rim Village and a bit beyond to Discovery Point to view the lake, although if we had had more time, we could have hiked farther.

We got home after 9:30 and discussed our plans for the next day, which turned out to be another long driving day. It was to Seattle, where we wanted to visit Chihuly Gardens and Glass. I have been wanting to see a Chihuly installation since I first looked at one online years ago. I have seen a couple of pieces of his in Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids but have not been in a city where a garden was installed.

We met up with my brother and his son for lunch at Chinook’s. Delicious. Then we went to the gardens.

One of the exhibits in the Chihuly gallery outside the gardens. To give perspective, this was two full-sized boats (you can only see part of the second one on the left) filled with objects resembling sea life.

The work was beautiful, but I was a little disappointed because the garden was so small, and he only used a few different shapes of items. Particularly, there was no water installation, and I think the things he does with fountains and ponds are among his most interesting work. However, the gallery, although only of a half dozen or so rooms, was very beautiful.

After we left the gardens, wandered around Seattle Center for a bit, and had a cool drink. Then it was time to hit the road, at about the very worst time possible. I ended up in a traffic jam for about an hour on the way to Tacoma, but after Tacoma, the rest of the way was fine. I think it took about twice as long to get from Seattle to Tacoma as it did to get from Tacoma to Seattle.

On Tuesday, my guests opted for a visit to Portland. We drove to the Cascades Station of the Max train, took the train into town, and walked to Powell’s books. I bought a handful of books. Then we had lunch at Deschutes Brewery and took the train home. For once, we were home by about four, so we had a lazy evening, just going out to dinner.

Wednesday morning I took my friends to the airport. Later in the afternoon, I went over to visit my brother and sister-in-law, who are now moving in to their new home in Amboy. They moved up from Berkeley a couple days ago.

So, it was an exciting week with lots going on.



Our guests arrive

A view of Dole Valley from the Tarbell Trail

Our Wednesday hike was to someplace different and a more difficult level of trail. We went to the Tarbell trailhead in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. We had gone there before but had taken the easier trail toward Rock Creek Campground. The other way is rated moderate in AllTrails, and I have so far been avoiding moderate trails. However, we took that way this week, toward Hidden Falls, and as far as we went, which was a couple of miles on a 10-mile trail, it wasn’t that much more difficult than some of our other hikes. We went with my niece, Katrina, and her two children, and we all had a good time. The trail takes you high above the Dole Valley, where we had some very nice views. Unfortunately, in some places it is logged right up to the trail. I don’t know why the forestry people can’t leave a six- to ten-foot area around the trail so that we can stay in the woods when we’re hiking. The logged areas are pretty hideous. We also ran into areas that had been logged in the past and were in various stages of recovery.

Most of the rest of the week centered on cleaning the house to get ready for our guests. However, I did take Luke to class on Saturday. Because I injured my hand so skipped last Saturday’s class and then there was no class on Memorial Day, he hadn’t been to class for two weeks, and it was like he’d lost all his brains. That is why, when the class had an unclassified special event at Lewisville Park on Monday, and because I won’t be here for Saturday class, I thought I should take him. It turned out to be a pack walk, at a fast clip, around the park. Between that pack walk and our mini pack walk, which on Monday was only me and Christine, I walked over 21,000 steps that day! I got home, pretty pooped, at 8:30 PM and still had to cook dinner and eat it. Cleaning the kitchen that night went out the window, so I had to get up extra early the next morning to make sure it was done.

Because, of course, yesterday morning my guests arrived. Karen’s plane from Detroit came in around 9:45 and Ray’s at 11:15, so Karen and I hung around the airport for a while waiting. We drove home, during which Ray remarked to Karen that she was going to be responsible for finding her way out of our neighborhood, a joke because the route seems complicated when you don’t know it. (You only take three roads after getting off WA-503, but they are wind-y, so it seems more complicated than it is.) After we had lunch on the back deck, the three of us (not Wayne, of course) decided to go for a walk, so we went to Moulton Falls, where we walked about four miles, taking Lukey along. So, lots of exercise so far this week.

And that’s about it for this week.


Last Wednesday, I was getting ready for our hike. Maja had told me she was bringing along a friend, so I was taking bags out of the back seat of the car. (We have enough grocery bags back there to get food for an army.) Then I noticed that there was about a quarter bucket of dirt in the back seat. I have no idea how that got there. So, I went around the car to get the brush out. As I returned around to the other side, my phone dinged from inside the car, and I thought I should look at the message to see if Maja was telling me that they weren’t ready yet. In any case, on the way over, I stepped wrongly on the edge of the asphalt driveway and fell flat on my face. My husband had to come out of the house and get me a chair before I could get up. By the way, the phone message was just something unimportant, like a “Yes” from Maja.

Here’s the path we walked on our Wednesday hike. It wasn’t a difficult hike, but almost all of the return was uphill.

I went on the hike anyway, even though my right foot and left hand were hurting. We went about four miles on the Bells Mountain Trail to Cedar Creek, a hike we hadn’t taken before, out in the Yacolt Burn. My foot hurt all the way, but not too badly. Then when I took Maja and Autumn back to Maja’s house, I had been driving and I had to get out of the car. I don’t think they even noticed, because they were talking to each other, but after my foot was rested a bit from driving, I could hardly walk!

I went home, and Luke was so excited to see me that he wouldn’t leave me alone. The result was that after I got my foot out of my hiking boot (no mean feat), he kept stepping on my foot. It didn’t seem to be swollen, but it had a red mark on top of it and it hurt like crazy. I ended up going back to bed, just to be able to keep it up and not have to deal with Luke.

By the next day, I was hobbling, but it was better. However, my hand, on which I had landed, hurt so much that I couldn’t do very much with it, not even work the pump for the liquid soap. I was surprised, too, to find how often I use my left hand. It was slightly swollen, too.

My foot was fine by Saturday, but my hand still hurts today, although it gets better every day. I skipped Luke’s Saturday class, however, because you do all the work with the leash in your left hand. The right hand holds the leash but doesn’t do much. Monday, there was no class, but I went over to my friend Christine’s for our mini pack walk. Three of us were there, and after the walk around her neighborhood, we sat on her back patio and had coffee and cake while the puppies romped. Well, Lola, Nancy’s little Havanese, felt more comfortable under her chair, while Duchess, Christine’s small poodle, alternated between running around in circles in the garden with Luke and getting up on a chair so she could dominate him.

Here’s Luke on Christine’s lawn, Memorial Day, 2019. You can tell this isn’t our lawn, because it actually has grass and nothing but grass.

By the way, for those who are wondering what Luke looks like these days, Christine took some really nice pictures of him, better than any of the ones we have. He is looking quite handsome these days, and is sometimes acting more grown up.

We had a return on Friday night of our poltergeists. They hadn’t visited us since the winter, but always on Friday nights. Last week, kids were shining flashlights into our living room window after dark. It could tell it wasn’t an accident while they were running around the woods with flashlights. They were definitely shining them in our window. Then, this last Friday night, Luke began barking hysterically and kept barking. At one point, I opened the door and thought I heard a dog barking. It is a sad fact that our neighbors across the road, who let their dog Eddie run around loose for months as a puppy, now have him tied up all the time, and he never stops barking. However, the sound was coming more from the other side, so I told him it was Rosie. Later, I realized it was coming from too close to the house to be Rosie, who is now restricted to her yard by an electric fence.

Luke kept barking, and then twice I heard noises that sounded like someone knocking on the side of our house. So, finally, I picked up our powerful flashlight and went out the back door. They knew I was coming this time and I heard at least one kid run up the ridge on our property and climb over the fence to the Scotts’ property. Then I stood next to the house and listened to them. There were probably at least four kids there, and they were making noises to try to get Luke to bark. Some of them were whistling, and one was doing a fake dog bark, and one was saying mean things that put my teeth on edge, the kind of thing that makes kids laugh but makes adults want to smack them. I waited until I was sure where they are, and then I hit them with the flashlight. I couldn’t actually see them, but they ran away.

This time, I called the Scotts’ house and talked to one of their mothers. It’s a whole gang of kids, and I’m not sure who most of them are, but one of them, at least, belongs to the Scotts. She said she thought her kids were home, but then she said, “A bunch of them just ran out of the woods. I’ll talk to them.” I hope this stops, because it’s starting to border on harassment. Luke barked for at least an hour that night.

I am starting to do a good cleaning of the house getting ready for my guests arriving next Tuesday. Karen is arriving from Michigan and Ray from Denver. Later that week, we’re going to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. What fun!


The tale of my pink shirt

Last Wednesday for my hike it was chilly, so I wore a pink thermal shirt that I’ve had for some years. It’s a favorite shirt that I wear many times during the cold falls, winters, and springs here. I wore a lightweight long-sleeved shirt underneath it, and my rain jacket on top, as it was supposed to rain. My neighbor and I went to Whipple Creek Park, where it got more and more humid, so at some point, I took the pink shirt off and stuffed it into my pack.

After the hike, we went to a deli in Battle Ground for coffee, and there I bought a package of Stumptown coffee. I decided it would be better to put the coffee in my pack and take out the shirt. (It’s a large waist pack, so not big enough for both.) Then, my husband called me to say our car, which had been in the shop that day, was ready to pick up, so  I decided to go with him and arranged to meet him in front of Fred Meyer.

We went to the dealership, returned their loaner car, and got back our car. Then we went out to lunch nearby. After lunch, I realized that my shirt wasn’t in our car. So, we went back to the dealership to look in the loaner car, but it was not there, and it was obvious I wouldn’t have missed the shirt if it had been, since the car had nothing in the back seat.

Next, I thought maybe I had dropped the shirt in the parking lot at Fred Meyer. So, I had Wayne drive me back there. I arrived about two hours after Wayne had picked me up there. No shirt was in the parking lot or in front of the store where I had been standing, so I went into the store to ask Customer Service if anyone had turned it in. By this time, I wasn’t expecting to see my shirt again.

When I got to the counter, there was a woman being waited on by the only Customer Service person, and a woman pulled in right in front of me with a cart full of stuff. I sighed and considered asking her if I could go first, but I didn’t. A second Customer Service person appeared and directed the woman with the cart to go through the register first, so it just happened that I went up to the counter just as the other customer at the counter was finishing up. I asked if anyone had turned in a pink shirt. The woman next to me said, “Did you say a pink shirt?” I said yes. She told me she had a pink shirt in her car and asked me if it had long sleeves. I said yes. She said she would go get it.

My pink shirt, fresh out of the laundry and ready to wear again.

I went out with her, when she explained that she had actually left the shirt at the car wash across the road and she would be right back. Then she drove off. I was just wondering if the whole thing was some kind of joke when she zipped back across the parking lot and held it out of her window. It was my shirt, in perfect shape, just smelling a little odd! What do you think are the odds of that, that two hours after I lost it, the person who picked it up would be at the Customer Service counter handling some problem?

On Saturday, I got Luke all ready for his class and was considering doing the pack walk, since Mischa wasn’t going to taekwondo. However, I was barely on our main road and feeling something wasn’t right when I noticed the flat tire indicator was on. We have brand new tires on the car, because of an incident last fall where I hit a pothole and dented both my rims. At that point, they told us it would be better if we replaced all the tires. Wayne changed the tire to the spare and drove it in, and sadly came back with two new tires. He said the tire was too worn from me driving back the short distance to the house to tell what was wrong, and said that you can’t just replace one tire anymore. So, Luke and I missed class, and we’re out the cost of two tires.

When we went to class Monday night, I noticed a wire in one of the brand new tires. I didn’t want to pull it out in case the tire when flat, so we pulled it out when I got home. The tire did not go flat.

Here’s my garden looking pretty good. Herbs and an artichoke are at the front left, beans are next, then onions, an eggplant and asparagus at the back with peas on the left and sugar snap peas on the right. On the right side is an eggplant right in front of the sugar snap peas, then more beans, a couple of brussel sprout plants, spinach and finally lettuce. My cabbages turned out great last year but took up too much room.

This year, my garden looks pretty good. I already have a tomato coming, my sugar snap peas have blossoms, and my lettuces look like they may turn into heads any time now. My asparagus, which I won’t be able to harvest for a couple of years, is coming up. Last year, I had too many large plants for my little bit of space, so this year I’m sticking to smaller ones.

Here’s my one tomato that’s coming in so far. This year, I planted the tomatoes in tree pots so that I can move them inside, because last year, I didn’t get any tomatoes from one plant until it was freezing in the fall. Then I got plenty of green tomatoes that weren’t going to get a chance to ripen. There’s another tomato plant behind the blue flying pig in the picture.

Twice this week, while standing in the orchard, which is above the pond, I had the fortune to witness the ducks landing in the pond. It won’t be long now before I won’t be able to see the pond from the orchard, because the vegetation is growing so fast. The first time, the male duck was sitting in the pond quacking and then the female landed. This time, I saw the female land and quack for the male, but he did not come. I hope he comes soon. Again this year, we have seen no ducklings.

As I said, with the weeks of sun we had, the vegetation around our place has been running wild. At my friend’s suggestion, over the winter we cut a path through the blackberry brambles to the pond, because the best blackberries were inaccessible from the path that was there. This week, I took the weed whacker down and hacked both paths out again, as they were getting overgrown. I also had to whack the plants around the base of the bench by the pond. Pretty soon, and we wouldn’t be able to find the bench!

In art class, I worked on some more coral. I didn’t feel as if my work on the coral was quite as organic, if that makes any sense, as it was the week before. That is, I didn’t feel as if I naturally did a good job painting it, whereas the week before, I was pleased with it. My teacher, however, told me that it looked just like that on the other side last week, and that came out really nice. I’m not so sure, because last week I was happy with the coral and this week I’m not. However, my niece and sister and I have often remarked that we’ll feel unhappy about something in our paintings when we leave, but when we come back in the next week, realize they look pretty good.

Our weather has been cooler and rainier this week. It went from hotter than usual to a bit cooler than usual, although more normal for spring here. This morning, we are planning on one of our more ambitious hikes, to a trail we tried to find once already but didn’t.

I am getting excited for our trip in a few weeks to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I have two friends coming in from out of town, and one of them finally got her plane tickets. The other one has had them for months. And speaking of plays, my friend Deb and I noticed that a small local theater was putting on a play based on one of Georgette Heyer’s books. We just had to go, and I bought tickets for that this week.

A visit to Crystal Springs

Here are some of the rhododendrons and other plants at Crystal Springs Garden.

My pictures this week are from my visit Friday to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland with my friend, Deb. We originally planned to go a few weeks ago, but it was raining that morning. That might have been a better plan, because this week got really hot, with record temperatures in the 90’s. That was the temperature on Friday, and many of the poor rhododendrons looked a little wilty. I expect they’re not used to those temperatures so early in the year. I am not a hat person, but I took my garden hat and was happy I did. However, the garden was beautiful although small. We spent about an hour wandering around in it. Lots of ducks were there with their ducklings, apparently not afraid of all the people. At one end of the park that was a little less trafficked, we saw a bunch of duck families, including one duck couple with 16 ducklings.

In the middle of the picture at the back is a little waterfall.

After that, we went to a terrific restaurant called Tasty n Daughters. It was a sort of brunch, Mediterranean, North Africa kind of place. They explained that they meant you to share dishes, so because Deb is a vegetarian by preference (that is, she doesn’t refuse to eat meat but tries not to), we went that way. We shared their cast iron fritatta, which had nettles, cheese, and leeks in it, delicious, but even better was the Shakshuka roasted pepper and tomato stew with baked eggs. Yum, yum! It is the kind of place that you want to return to just to try more things. I am particularly interested in the Manti, Turkish beef and lamb dumplings in a garlic yogurt sauce, or the Moroccan chicken hash.

There are lots of picturesque little bridges in the park. And another waterfall on the left and ducks off to the right.

That’s enough about food. You can tell I’m on Weight Watchers. One of the problems with the program is it forces you to think about food all the time, which was why I quit it the last time (and gained back all my weight and more). I have lost yet another pound since last week. A little bit at a time.

On the way home, I was led astray by my GPS. I have only been to Deb’s house three times. All other times, we have met somewhere else or I have taken the train into Portland. I am fairly sure I could get there without GPS, but I am hazier on the way back, which presents with less obvious turns, so I was using my GPS. I was on my way back the usual way, when it told me there was a traffic jam ahead, not surprising on a Friday at 4 PM. However, instead of just telling me that, like it usually does up here, it recalculated my route automatically and sent me farther north instead of directly west to get on the 205. I could have just ignored it, but as I said, I was hazy on the way back, and I thought it might actually save me some time. But of course, the downside was that as soon as I followed it, I had no idea where I was. And, the next thing I knew, just as it was about to turn me back west toward the freeway, it recalculated again. Well, of course, at that time of day in Portland, there are going to be traffic jams everywhere, but in hindsight the most sensible thing would have been for me to get onto the 205 as early as possible.

I started out in Clackamas, which is southeast of Portland. I ended up going north all the way to the junction of 84 and 205, which is in northeast Portland, where I ended up around 5:15 (keeping in mind that it usually takes me about an hour to go to Deb’s). Just blocks from the freeway, I got stuck in a traffic jam trying to turn left on Sandy Blvd. for 45 minutes. I had only six blocks to go to get on the freeway, but the traffic was gridlocked on my side. We had no protected left, so what would happen was that you would work your way, one car a light up to the light, and then when it turned green, have to wait until the oncoming traffic got across, many of which turned in front of you to take up the remaining space on the street you wanted to turn onto. You would then have to wait to see if a space opened up. When I finally got one car back from the intersection, the woman in front of me sat there through three lights without moving instead of squeezing herself into what little space she had just so that our line could move. When she finally went, I went, too, and sat blocking traffic for a short while. That was not nice of me, but our line of traffic wasn’t moving at all. The others were moving a bit more, and it just wasn’t right. In fact, cars were driving past us straight across the intersection, turning around, and coming back the other way so that they could make a right, and it was those cars that were taking up what little space was left in the lane ahead, preventing the left turners from going anywhere.

I got home around 6:30. So much for my GPS.

The rest of the week was fairly normal, except that those of us who are in the doggy Relationship Class all got an email on Saturday saying that we are also required to go on the pack walks. This was a surprise to me, as Luke and I have been going to the Relationship Class for over a month now, and no one said anything to us about it. We tried to go on the Monday night pack walk months back when our trainer sent us to the class and we got kicked out of it. It was a 2.6-mile walk, after dark (which it would not be now), but it wasn’t the distance that made it difficult so much as the pace. They all walked much faster than I could. On the way back, I just told them to go without me, but Ash, one of the nice trainers, stayed back with me.

A lake with a bridge over it

So, I’m not going on that pack walk, but we have been to the Saturday one twice. It is a much closer distance, just around the corner and up the block to a school playground, but they still walk very fast. The owner of the dog training place said we could drive to the school, where they do further practice with the dogs, but the problem with Saturdays is that Wayne and I take my great niece to taekwondo. To do both, Wayne has to drop her off, drop me and Luke off at class, pick Mischa up, take Mischa home, and then come and get me and Luke after the pack walk. Up until we got the email, he’d been picking me up after Mischa’s class and then we all went home together. In any case, if I wanted to do the pack walk, I would not be able to get a ride to the school because Wayne would be taking Mischa home. I’d have to walk with the fast walkers.

So, I stopped the owner after class on Monday night and told her we had to rearrange our Saturday schedule to do the pack walk and I wouldn’t be able to get a ride to the school, so I asked her could I walk at my own pace. She didn’t really answer the question. Instead, she said that I could skip the pack walk, because I was a dedicated owner. She said she wanted the Relationship Class people to be doing more with their dogs than just coming to class once a week, and doing the pack walk would get them more involved. She said to come when I could. However, I feel as if I should go, because one other dog owners was very upset about the requirement to do the pack walk because of her age, and she will notice if I never show up. This is the problem with sending out an email like that and then making exceptions. The owner could have strongly encouraged people to do the pack walk rather than telling them they had to. She said, in fact, that several people had quit the class because of the requirement. Perhaps, though, that lady who was upset will give me a ride occasionally, from class to the pack walk, because she has decided to drive over.

The rest of the week was fairly normal. We went hiking but just to Lewisville Park because Maja had other things to do that day. She brought along a young friend. On Thursday, I began painting the coral in my starfish picture, and it seems to be coming out very nice. Saturday and Monday were dog-training days, and Luke seems to be getting over his teenage years and behaving better in class. In fact, the misbehavior of one of his puppy pals during the Monday class made me feel a lot better about Luke, who did everything fairly well, only breaking his sit or down a couple of times when several other dogs did, too. That other puppy was rolling on his back all over the place and broke several times every exercise. (If the Russian trainer was still there, he would have gotten kicked out for sure!) Luke is also behaving better at home. Now most nights he sits patiently on place while we eat dinner, because he knows if he is good, he will get some of our leftover food. If we have something he shouldn’t eat, I give him a cookie instead. He seems to understand this and is very good.

Our schedule has changed because Luke’s puppy play days have changed from Monday and Wednesday to Tuesday and Thursday. This means that I haven’t been going to the Y for water aerobics, which was what I sometimes did on Tuesday mornings. I could go on another morning, but it’s now hard to find a morning that I’m not doing something, except Friday, and I want to keep Fridays fairly free. It’s nice to sleep in occasionally.

On Tuesdays and Thursday now we drop Luke off at puppy play and then do our grocery shopping and errands. If we get them done, we go to the library and read until it’s time to pick him up. We are doing this to try to avoid making two trips to town in a day if we can. We also had to move our mini pack walk with friends from puppy class from Thursdays to Mondays, which means that Luke has to go with me to Weight Watchers and wait in the car, then we arrive 45 minutes early to the park for the pack walk. This week, during that time, we practiced sits, downs, and moving downs. For the moving down, I have to throw his leash on the ground and say “Down!”, at which point he is expected to lie down. I am supposed to keep walking while he does this and then call him to heel beside me. What actually happens is that I throw my leash on the ground and Luke does nothing until I stop and step on it. Then he will slowly, very slowly, very reluctantly, go down and we can complete the exercise. Not exactly a moving down, more like a stopping down.

In which I attempt to identify the wildflowers on our property

I think this is a lesser periwinkle.

With limited success. I thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of every wildflower I found on our property and figure out what they are. A few I am fairly sure of, but even with the help of a wildflower identification tool, I still didn’t find any flowers that looked like some of my pictures. The one I showed you a couple weeks ago, I am pretty sure, is the lesser periwinkle. That flower is growing in my landscaped ridge, though, so may not be a wildflower.

Here’s our lonely pink trillium, taken from a distance.

I also know this one for sure. Just earlier this week, we had several white trilliums and a pink trillium in the woods by our pond. As of today, only the pink one is still blooming. The white ones have shut their petals.

Pacific bleeding hearts, I think.

I also am fairly certain that these flowers below, which are everywhere, are Pacific bleeding hearts.

This might be chickweed.

The closest I could come to this white flower is chickweed, but I couldn’t find any white star-shaped flowers with petals this distinctive shape.

Unfortunately, for the purpose of identifying this and many of the flowers, the undergrowth is so thick that I’m not sure which leaves belong to the flowers and which to something else. If I was a more experienced flower identifier, I would have known to pick one.

Maybe these are mountain buttercups.

And again, I couldn’t find anything that looked quite like this yellow flower. The closest seemed to be the mountain buttercup. Some of these flowers are missing petals or are deformed, so it’s tough to say.

This is supposedly fivestamen chickweed.

This white one below also appears to be chickweed, fivestamen chickweed to be exact. Like some of the other flowers, though, I can’t be sure, as my pictures don’t look exactly like the ones in the identifier tool. At least this flower has a very distinctive petal, which makes it more likely that I’m correct.

This is definitely littleleaf miner’s lettuce, so perhaps the white flowers in the previous picture are miner’s lettuce, too.

And here’s a mystery, because I found a violet flower below that’s shaped almost the same, and is definitely littleleaf miner’s lettuce. So, that makes me wonder if the white flower might not be miner’s lettuce after all, just a different color. In fact, as I look at the first picture, I see that some of the flowers have a faint violet tinge, whereas the flowers in this second picture are definitely violet. And I saw a few that were slightly pink.

Somebody thinks this is white foxglove. I don’t.

Here is a puzzle. The white bell-shaped flower below is identified as white foxglove under images of bell-shaped white flowers in Google, but according to my wildflower identifier, there is no such thing as white foxglove. And to be honest, we have tons of foxglove of the normal variety that’s going to come up later this summer, and it doesn’t look like this. On the other hand, the wildflower identifier didn’t have any bell-shaped flowers that looked remotely like this.

And finally, here is another mystery blue flower. Now for this flower below, the picture is blurry, and I couldn’t find anything that had this bell shape, this brightness of blue, and this white thing in the middle. I could find some with yellow in the middle or white that protruded. It doesn’t in this flower. Farther down by the pond, I came across what seems to be the same flower, only it is a lighter blue, more violet colored. Lots of the flax flowers look about the same, but they have yellow in the middle, not white. (You can tell I can’t remember the plant part names from 8th grade biology.)

A pretty blue flower. We only have a few of these in our woods, although we had some different blues flowers earlier down by the pond. If you look really closely, the one in the middle has a distinctive trumpet shape, like morning glories, only much, much smaller.

To a subject that might be more interesting, we are still waiting for the results of some extra inspections that must be made of the house my brother is trying to buy. Because it is a log cabin, it needs a special inspection for that, and because it is spring-fed instead of having a well, it needs a special one for that. My brother and his wife were dismayed by all the small things that came back on the first inspection, but they haven’t bought a house in a while because of living on the boat. My niece tried to assure them that usually they all come back like that. When she sold her house in Portland, it was an older home that had been gutted and completely redone inside, but because it had a frame from the early 1900’s, they still got a long list.

We didn’t do a hike last week because I thought I might be spending time with my brother, and my neighbor was preparing for a wedding at her house. She is part of the Native American Church and offers her property for ceremonies and events. Right now, the wedding is on and I am listening to conjunto music. Earlier in the day, we heard drums and singing. As for the hike being cancelled because of possible plans with my brother, it turned out that he and his wife were tied up all day with business related to the house. In fact, the only time we saw them while they were here was for dinner Tuesday night. By Thursday morning, they were on their way back to California.

Most of this week was gorgeous. On Friday, I went to the Japanese nursery in Woodland with my niece and her children. I bought a magnolia tree and two lilac bushes. On Saturday, I put my two tomato plants into large tree pots to try to grow them where I could move them around. Last year, one of my tomato plants didn’t produce a single blessed tomato until it was freezing outside.  Then it produced loads, but each one had a big black spot in it. The plant was in my garden, so there was nothing I could do about it.  My plan this year is to bring them into the house at night if that happens again. The other tomato plant I grew last year produced exactly two very nice yellow tomatoes.

Saturday, Wayne also helped me plant the lilacs behind the house at the edge of the slope going down to the wolf pen, some Japanese roses that my niece dug up out of her woods in our woods at the edge of the orchard, and the magnolia tree out by the road on the other edge of the orchard. It has been very dry here lately, so yesterday afternoon I watered all of the orchard trees, the new plants, a red maple that I planted last year, and the two Japanese maples that I planted my first year here and that have been struggling along. Unfortunately, there was no way to get water up to the blue spruce my sister gave me for Christmas two years ago that is at the top of our ridge. I guess I could have hauled buckets up there, but I don’t think I’m physically fit to do it. To water the Japanese maples, because they are halfway up the ridge, I have to stand below them with the hose and shoot water up to them. By contrast, to water the trees in the orchard, we put five-gallon buckets with a small hole in them at the base of a tree, and then haul the hose that we’ve run down to the orchard over to the tree and fill it up. We have four buckets and about 12 trees to water, so you then have to wait for the water to drain and move a bucket and start over.

In art class, I began my next painting. It is of a very complex starfish, and it took me the last three classes to draw it. My instructor tried to warn me off it for something a little less complicated, but I am used to spending a long time on my paintings, so the idea did not dismay me. I like the abstract, geometric appearance of the fish.

Our puppy play and train schedule changed this week, which made me have to shuffle some things around in my schedule. We had to move our mini pack walk from Thursday to Monday and I won’t be able to go swimming on Tuesday mornings while Luke is going to puppy play. Our plan is to take him out of it and dog classes at the end of this month, when he’ll be one year old.


Family time and another poltergeist

This week my oldest brother and sister-in-law are in town unexpectedly. They decided some time ago to move here from Berkeley, and lately they have been looking at houses online. The original plan was to wait until later this spring and come here for a visit to look, but they saw one online that they really like, and it’s going to go fast, so they made an appointment to view it yesterday. I missed my opportunity to see it when my niece and her husband went over. Since he is an appraiser, they asked him to check it over first before they made an offer on it. However, they did that on Saturday when I was at Luke’s class.

They have been living on a cabin cruiser for years, actually a smallish yacht, and optimally, they wanted to sell that and their sailing boat before buying a house, but I think they decided to go ahead and buy, as it could take a year to sell the boats. My brother said he is sick of maintaining the boats, although earlier this spring he seemed ambiguous about moving away.

Tuesday night, my job was to make a fruit salad and show up at my niece’s for dinner. That was the only time that the whole family could get together, because my sister was working the next two nights, and they are leaving Thursday. Wayne and I hope to see them again for dinner tonight unless they are too tired.

Anyway, I found out when I saw them last night for dinner that their offer was accepted. Now they have to arrange financing and meet an inspector this afternoon. As long as nothing goes wrong, they will be living three miles away. My brother was really excited. He said he never thought he’d live in a house he liked so much. It is a log cabin that is spring-fed instead of having a well.

They are the only part of my family that I haven’t seen since I moved up here. The last time I saw them was five years ago, so it has been nice to see them.

Since my brother is never without his Brittany spaniel, Freckles, we brought Luke to dinner. This is something we usually wouldn’t do, because Katrina is allergic to animals, but we knew we’d be eating outside and Freckles would be there. Freckles wasn’t feeling friendly, because he’s an old dog, but Eddie came over from next door, so Luke spent a lot of time running around in circles. Unfortunately, Eddie seemed determined to make Freckles play, so he kept getting growled at. Luke only needed one growl to make him stay away from Freckles.

Last Wednesday, Maja was determined to go on our hike, but we decided to hike at Lewisville Park, since it is the most accessible in case something happened, and we decided to make it more of a walk than a hike. In fact, we both picked up drinks before we went there, and instead of taking our sticks, we just carried our coffee and tea. Lewisville can offer a nice hike, because it has some hills, but we kept to the flat part.

It is finally becoming reliably nice out. We’ve only had  a dash of rain this week and have taken to eating on our deck if it isn’t too cool. Last week, we had a day in the 70’s, and I broke out my short-sleeved t-shirt for the first time. But the very next day, I had to put my two long-sleeved shirts back on. We have been doing some outside work. Wayne has almost finished putting the gates back on the wolf pen, and I did some weed whacking and planted my veggie starts in my garden. Monday, I took the self-propelled mower down to the orchard and started mowing it, but my sister came by on her way to work and offered to stop by with her riding mower and do it. When I came home from water aerobics on Tuesday morning, it was done. It’s ridiculous that we have a riding mower that my husband is afraid to mow the orchard with because of the slope. I would try learning how to work it, but I can barely haul myself onto it. Maybe it will be easier to do that this year, because I am a bit less heavy and in much better shape. I might go over to my sister and have her teach me. The only thing he does with it is drive it into the wolf pen, which is small enough to be mown with the self-propelled mower, but is the only flat lawn we have except for the very small front lawn.

Here are our orchard trees in bloom. The right two are cherry and the left two are apple. Their blossoms are just starting to come out. I took this before the orchard was mowed, so you can see we have lots of dandelions. Gosh, they don’t look yellow in this picture. Just beyond the orchard to the left, you might catch a glimpse of the pond.

Speaking of which, this week I did take a picture of the orchard. The two cherry trees are in bloom and the apple tree blossoms have started coming out. Unfortunately, the little plum tree that I planted last year has died.

I was just saying that we hadn’t seen any deer on our property in a couple of years. However, the other evening, I looked out the window to see if I could see some ducks in the pond. I was looking past the wolf pen, so my first impression was of a large brown thing, and I thought the neighbor’s dog was down there. It was a deer, however, running from our orchard into the wooded area behind the wolf pen. Usually we see them in at least pairs, but maybe I missed one or more other deer. I watched for a minute, but I didn’t see any others. On the other hand, we’ve seen rabbits in our yard regularly, which gives Luke lots of barking practice. Not that he needs encouragement. Ever since Rosie first appeared in the slope above our yard, he has kept a sharp eye on the woods and barks if a bush even moves.

And speaking of him, Monday night we worked on heeling without a leash. I didn’t think Luke would do it, because he gets so carried away smelling the astroturf at the dog place, which has been peed on by many dogs, that he has a hard time paying attention. However, he did. Some of us were heeling around in a circle while others in the middle were putting dogs down and calling them. The instructor first told me to let him heel at the end of the leash, and that worked just fine, to my surprise, because he doesn’t like to heel. Then after a while, she told me to at least try letting him off the leash, so I did. He heeled successfully for a while, but every time we passed a wading pool, he walked off and got into it. I think he did this because the instructor put treats in one to try to teach a timid, small dog to go into the pool, and after Luke saw this, he naturally assumed that all the pools had treats in them. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised by how well he did on his first try of heeling without a leash. Then we tried walking downs. He’s not so good at this because it takes him some time to go down, so I can’t exactly keep walking while he does it. Then, it took him a bit to realize I was calling him back to heel from a distance almost immediately after he went down. But he got it eventually. Some of the time, he was smelling too hard to notice me calling him, but other times, he did well.

Last night, we had an eerie thing happen. I can’t help but think it is connected to my husband’s having rung the doorbell yesterday afternoon. It is an obnoxious doorbell, because someone saw fit to install one that plays corny tunes, different ones each time you press the button, ones like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.” Yesterday, after the mail deliverer left a package on the doorstep, Wayne, who was working outside, rang the doorbell to let me know it was there. It is hardly ever rung and works inconsistently, so that just now when I tried it, I couldn’t make it ring.

At about 1 AM, the doorbell started ringing, and it kept playing tune after tune. When I went out to look at it, the button was jammed down, so that it took a few pushes to get it to pop back out and stop ringing. My husband is convinced that someone rang our doorbell, but I have a hard time believing it was my knocking gremlins. They were only about ten years old and always came on a Friday night around 8 PM. Around here, no ten-year-old is going to be running around outside at 1 AM. I can’t imagine what set it off, but I think something must have happened when Wayne rang the doorbell that made it stick, perhaps.