Everyone napping together

It’s nap time for everyone but me. Hillary is a little black blob up against the red pillow.

First, I have to start out with my picture, which is of life co-existing in the Robart house. Here are Wayne, Luke, and Hillary all taking a nap together. You can just barely see Hillary up against my pillow on the right side of the picture. Ah, bliss, when they are all asleep and I have the house to myself!

We have had some bright spots in the story of Luke’s house training. Yesterday, we were working on three full days of no accidents in a row until a little glitch right before bedtime. The problem is that Luke likes to go out in the evening, so there had been a series of false alarms when he rang the bells (yes, he finally got that) to go out and we took him out only to watch him trying to catch bugs. It’s too cold out now for bugs at night, so he waited in vain and so did we. To be fair to us, at some point he stopped ringing the bells and just stood near the doorway and hinted. He does this a lot when he’s not serious about it, so I kept an eye on him, but didn’t take him out after I had done so four times in a row. Next thing we knew, he was peeing on the carpet.

But our breakthrough came when our trainer told us that it was nonsense about not scolding your dog after he’s had an accident because we didn’t see it. She said “He knows what he’s done. He can smell it.” We had been following that “wisdom” and just taking him out after he had an accident, and he was so sneaky about his accidents that we hardly ever saw him. But he sees going out as a reward, so I feared I was teaching him to go in the house to get to go outside. Now, when he has an accident, he gets scolded and goes straight to his crate, which he dislikes, and interestingly enough, we have had much more success since then.

We have also started letting him go off leash a few times. He is already getting brave enough to wander far away when we are out with him but too timid to stay out if we are in. However, I know that at some point he’ll want to wander off our property, so I don’t think we should do this too often until he learns to come when called. He isn’t very good at that except when he has his training collar and leash on, when he is a star at coming. Yesterday, when we walked down to the pond with him off leash, it didn’t take too long before he was up to his knees in mud. If I hadn’t captured him, he probably would have gone right into the water.

Last week I didn’t go hiking because my hiking partners weren’t available. I tried to talk Wayne into taking Luke for a walk in the park after Puppy Play and Train on Wednesday, which is when I’m usually hiking. But that morning it was so cold and gray that I was shivering and Wayne complained of his knees hurting (although he complains of that whenever he doesn’t want to do something, which is often). We decided to go the next day, which was beautiful, but predictably enough, Wayne cancelled on me.

I am almost done with my painting, I think. My teacher told me to start thinking about what I would like to do next, but I have no idea. I painted the base coat of all my flowers this week. Some of them need more work, but she said one was done, so after that it is just whatever improvements we want to make.

Other than a trip to Costco, nothing much happened this week. The weather has been unseasonably beautiful. It is gorgeous today. Many of the leaves have changed colors, and it is sunny and bright and a little warm.


A very long day’s hike

The Warrior Rock Lighthouse isn’t very impressive, but it makes a good hiking destination.

Last week, I didn’t think we were going to go anywhere special for our hike, but it was a beautiful day, so when Maja suggested Sauvie Island, I agreed. Although much of the wildlife area on the island is closed at this time of year because of migrating birds, the hike to Warrior Rock Lighthouse is open. This trail is longer than any of the hikes we’ve taken before at six to seven miles (depending upon the guidebook), but it is pretty much level, so I wasn’t afraid of being able to do it. However, by the time we got back to the car, I was beat.

We were discussing where to go to lunch when we looked at the time. It was almost four o’clock! We had been gone for six hours! It took us probably an hour and a half to get there, and we took our time, but it was much later than we’d ever been out before. By the time we got home, it was about 5:30, and I was so hungry that I made Wayne take me out to eat right away. It wasn’t until we were almost at the restaurant when I realized that in ten minutes Lukey’s first puppy class with his new classmates was going to start. We were 20 minutes away and didn’t have Luke with us, so he missed class for the first time.

Not much else interesting happened last week. Our weather was very cold for a few days, so we started burning fires in the stove, but looking forward, it is supposed to be warmer than usual the next few days. For us, I think that means just high 60’s and low 70’s, but it is supposed to be sunny, probably our last sunny, mild days before the rainy winter. It will be a perfect day to hike today, but I don’t have any hiking buddies available, so I have talked Wayne into going for a walk in the park with Lukey after puppy play and train. We’ll see how that goes. The only other walk in the park we took was early in the morning before puppy class one time, and no one else was there.

In art class I started painting my peonies in my still life. They are the last big element of my painting that was unpainted. After I do my peonies, I suppose we will do little improvements for weeks as usual. This drives me crazy, because I don’t know when I am done, but it improves the painting a great deal. My sister wasn’t in art class this week, because she had to work.

My friend Deb and I decided to go to the Lincoln City Kite Festival this Sunday. We couldn’t go on Saturday because of puppy class, which was unfortunate, because Sunday it was raining all day. Only two kites were up while we were there, and it certainly wasn’t the festival that I expected from seeing it on TV. Still, we had a nice day. We ate at a seafood restaurant and drove down the coast a bit, looking at some of the seaside rock formations. Then we drove home.

Other than that, my friends and sister, who are planning to go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next summer with me, picked our dates and performances so that I will know what tickets to buy when sales open up to my level of membership.

The height of absurdity

The big red tent now sitting in front of my house

Well, maybe not the height, but getting there. So, a few weeks ago, we had a few days of rain, a prelude to our usual fall, and Wayne came in telling me that Luke doesn’t like to get wet. I said, “He’s a dog. He’ll get used to it.” Now, guess what we have on our front lawn blocking the view of my pretty green door? A big red tent. Wayne insisted on ordering it to keep Luke dry. We have had two dogs now, but none of them needed his own personal tent to keep dry. Not only that, but Luke tends to go right out into the rain as far as I can see. As you can see, there was very little point in my having bothered to match my yard furniture to the door. I think we all know who the tent is for.

Lukey had his third vet appointment on Monday, the second with the vet. She had seen him last when we had only had him for three days. She said the change in his looks and behavior was remarkable. When we first took him there, he wet on the table, and she said that all his siblings had done the same thing. This time, he walked up to meet her and was friendly, wasn’t shy at all about going up on the table, and was pleased to eat the cheese she gave him when he got his shots. She congratulated us on managing to socialize him so well. He is still pretty scared of some things. Just this morning he dragged Wayne up from the road because a six-year-old with a cough startled him.

This week for our hike it was just Maja and me, so we went to the nearest park, the Hantwick access for Moulton Falls. It may have been my last time to hike in just a t-shirt for the fall and winter. Today it is only in the 50’s, and it isn’t supposed to get any warmer, but it is sunny. It’s been quite cold when I took the dog out. It is Maja and me again, so we probably won’t try anything that unusual.

This week is supposed to be the one when the colors change for fall, and I can see that happening. Around here, we have mostly evergreens, and the preponderance of other colors seems to be yellow with some red because a lot of people have maples. There is one glorious huge tree that we see when we turn from Garner to Kelly road that is a beautiful orange. I think it might be an oak.

My first basket of brussel sprouts with a few lettuce leaves thrown in

Speaking of fall, my garden is beginning to wind up. I have picked my squashes and begun to pick my brussel sprouts. I planted eight plants before I realized that was too many, and not all of them have sprouted very well. In fact, my biggest sprouts are only about an inch big, but I have been picking them if they are a half inch or bigger and leaving the smaller ones as long as I can before picking them, just keeping an eye on the nighttime temperatures. They are delicious at any size. I have lots of green tomatoes on one plant—the red ones have been coming out with spots—and that’s about all that is left in my garden. The cauliflower all sprung right away, so I just left it like that. It never became proper cauliflower.

Some friends and I have begun planning our trip in June to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Right now, we’re just trying to pick our plays so that when I am able to buy the tickets in November, I’ll know what we want. In order to see all the Shakespeare plays we want to see, we are expanding our trip to go on Thursday and return on Sunday, but we have a difference of opinion on how many plays to try to attend during that period. I think three is probably sufficient, although I’m willing to go for four, but one person wants to go to five and another person doesn’t want to do more than three. I’m sure we don’t all have to do the same things at the same times.

I worked on leaves for my art class all day, but I have them pretty much done. Now the only major part of my painting that isn’t done at all is the pretty pink peonies. After I do those, I would imagine I’ll be doing touch-ups and refinements for several weeks. That is the part that always seems to last a long time, during which I have no sense of how done I am and I am just doing what the instructor tells me to do.

Nothing else special happened this week except I did some shopping for my great-nephew’s birthday. He wanted a large Bumblebee Transformer, which, of course, I could not find at any stores. I finally ended up ordering it. He will be five, and we are all going out for pizza in a couple of weeks.



Between a dog and a cat

Last night, we finally tried a big experiment. Ever since we got Luke, he has been sleeping in the guest room, first, because Hillary was afraid of him and he was afraid of Hillary, and second, because he wasn’t house trained. He still isn’t one hundred percent. We just had only our second day with no accidents yesterday (part of that is our fault, of course; it’s hard to keep taking out a dog who just wants to fart around eating wood and catching bugs), but he hasn’t had an accident in bed since a night when we first got him. (Of course, Wayne being Wayne, he neither thought to put the peed-upon comforter into the washer or spray it with something, he just put it on the floor.) At first, we took turns sleeping with Luke, but after a few days, Wayne decided to sleep with him because I couldn’t sleep all night when I did, so worried was I that he would have an accident.

So, we picked last night as the big night, the one when Wayne and Luke would return to the big bed. I had been peacefully sleeping with Hillary for weeks. (Actually, it was very nice having the bed to just myself and a small cat.) But we had introduced the pets to each other a few times, and although they were wary, we weren’t having fights or chases or anything. So, last night Hillary was quite taken aback when we came in for bed and put Lukey on the bed. He was a little anxious and tried to get off, but it is just a bit too high for him to jump off. Hillary immediately went under the bed and then under the desk chair.

To my surprise, after we all settled down, Hillary came back onto the bed and slept beside me all night. She doesn’t even do that usually unless she is cold. So, I was a pet sandwich. I had Lukey pressed up against my leg on one side and Hillary up against my head and side on the other. It would have been fine except I had leg cramps all night, probably because Luke was half on top of me, so I kept having to get up and walk them off. As a result, I didn’t get much sleep.

So, that’s the big news for the week. In other matters, we returned for our hike to the Kiwa Trail of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. We have been there twice before but not got to hike the trail. The first time, it wasn’t open, because it is closed during bird migration season. The second time was when there was a notice that the trail was closed because of a cougar being spotted near it.

If you look very closely down the trail, you can see a heron. I also tried to take a picture of the deer, which came very close to us, but by the time I got my phone out, put in the code, and took it, it was too far away to even see in the picture.

This time it was open, and it was very nice. We saw lots of wildlife on the drive in to the trailhead and more wildlife on the trail, which is through a woods and then a meadow. On the way in, we saw a nutria or muskrat crossing the road, and lots of cranes and herons. When we got to the trailhead, a pair of harrier hawks were playing in the field, and several wildlife photographers were taking their pictures. There were ducks in the canals near the entrance to the trailhead, a deer crossed our path, and we saw several herons along the way, not to mention all the meadow birds. On the way out, we spotted an animal that we finally identified as a mink. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool.

We are now in a spate of warmer weather, but for a few days it began to look like true fall, with much colder temperatures and lots of rain. Then we had several days of perfect weather. I hope today will be one, but it may be too hot. I know it is forecast to be warmer than usual for this time of year.

At art class, I heard the teacher telling my sister that we weren’t in a race. She was supposed to be doing an exercise, and she obviously wasn’t into it, because she didn’t take any care with it. It was partly a color-matching exercise, but she didn’t do a good job of matching the colors at all and the brushwork was sloppy. Her rebellious streak seems to come out in art school. I’m not sure why she’s taking it if she doesn’t want to listen to the teacher enough to learn, so I expect to soon start hearing how expensive it is (it is not expensive for a two-hour class once a week) and how she thinks she’ll stop going. It may take her a few months, but I think she will probably quit again. At least she went out and bought the colors that she didn’t have for the class, but of course, she bought some cheap ones, even though the teacher said that the quality of paint will make a difference. She has some tubes of paint that don’t even have the color name printed on the tube, so no one knows exactly which red or blue they are.

I went back to working on my greenery this week. I was painting just the general shapes of the leaves at first, but by the end of the class I started putting in the frills and veins.

This weekend, I attended my niece’s Mabon Festival. She likes to research and celebrate the old festivals that existed before Christianity. Almost all of them were timed at roughly the same time as the ones we celebrate now. Mabon is a fall harvest festival, which she said is better timed, at the fall equinox, than Thanksgiving, because everyone has tons of ripe fruit and veggies in their gardens and orchards. It was a potluck for which I made a beet and apple salad and a peach crisp with some blackberries thrown in. The peaches were some that were trucked down from Yakima that we froze, and the blackberries were of course from my property. There was lots of delicious food. I am not a very social person at these events because I don’t know very many of the people and they are all twenty years younger than me (and their kids), and of course, Wayne didn’t want to go. Usually, Shawn and Randy, my niece’s husband’s parents, would have been there, but because Shawn is out of town, Randy didn’t come. However, several groups of people did talk to me, so I wasn’t as bored as I usually am and stayed later.

Cheese dog

The other morning, my husband had one of his alarmist attacks, where he tends to assume the worst, particularly about his own health. When we were supposed to get up early to go to water classes, he wanted to take Luke to the vet instead. Luke seemed perfectly healthy and perky to me, but Wayne was alarmed because he hadn’t pooped since early the day before. I pointed out that because Luke is insanely fond of cheese, he’d been getting some cheese with every meal, and cheese is binding, as my little German grandmother used to say. Sure enough, Luke went out shortly afterward and did his business. I have suggested that he get a little less cheese on his food at meal time.

He is a funny dog, because although he goes around picking up almost anything disgusting he can find outside or inside, when offered food, he is highly skeptical of anything except what he’s used to. I told Wayne this was a great opportunity to keep him on his kibble, as he used to feed our dog Hans all kinds of stuff that was bad for him, and both Hans and the first Luke were terrible beggars. This morning, however, I notice he fed him part of his omelet, so here we go. At puppy class, however, Luke turns his nose up at the trainers’ treats. We have to bring along a bag of his kibble. The only treat he seems to like is Milkbone dog biscuits.

Lukey did very well at puppy class this week except that on Saturday we were trying something that the trainer said she usually only does in the next class up, after puppy class. The puppies were put on place, and one at a time, each puppy was walked around the other puppies and then weaved among the puppies. The idea was to see if this distraction would cause the puppies to get off place or to not walk properly on their leashes. When it was his turn to do the walking, Lukey was doing okay until two great big older puppies both came off their places at once and approached him. This scared him so much that he had to sit the rest of the class out. They were about four times bigger than him.

Here’s a pretty pool along the path near the Hantwick trailhead at Moulton Park.

For our hike this week, it was me and my two stalwart hiking friends. Because the weather was rainy, we went to Moulton Park, the Hantwick trailhead, which has a nice paved path. I wore my new hiking boots, which I decided were a mistake because they were cutting into my ankles, even though I didn’t have the top hooks tied. This Monday, I took them back and exchanged them for the low rise ones. Unfortunately, the high boots were a nice blue gray, and all they had left in the low rise in my size was black. I am embarrassed to admit that I went home and ordered blue ones online in addition to the black ones. I have learned that if I like something I need to buy more than one, because when the other wears out, most likely I won’t find it again. I can either save one of the pairs of boots or alternate them so that they don’t wear out as fast. My hiking friend Shawn says her hiking books, the same ones only red, are the most comfortable shoes she owns.

And speaking of the weather, we had a few rainy days last week, but now it is warmer and gorgeous. Not hot like an Indian summer, but just about the perfect temperature. During the next week, the lows are supposed to be in the 50’s, and tonight even in the high 40’s. Leaves are beginning to change, so it will soon be fall.

In art class this week we had a substitute. As soon as two of the class members saw who was substituting, they both left. I don’t know if it was because they didn’t want anyone but Sarah or because of who was substituting. I found our substitute a little annoying, but she was okay. Sue said she made her really on edge. Instead of continuing work on my greenery, the substitute showed me a good approach for the shadows of the leaves on the wall, and that’s what I worked on for the rest of the class. My sister was supposed to do one more color-matching exercise, but it turned out she didn’t have all the colors she needed. She wanted to do the exercise anyway by approximating the colors, but the instructor had her start a painting instead. I want to point out that I started painting a year ago, and since then I have only finished two paintings. My sister completed the entire background of a complex painting in one session. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad for her. She says she wants to learn but tends to resist suggestions.

Today is exciting because we are getting a new dishwasher. From the time we moved in and actually paid attention to the dishwasher, I knew we were going to have to buy a new one. It was fairly clear that the previous owners removed their dishwasher sometime before or after the sale of the house and replaced it with one that was very old. I’m talking 1980’s at the earliest and possibly 70’s, one of those old beige plastic things that has since turned a sort of yellow.

A few months ago, I noticed that our glasses had a film on them and our glasses cupboard had a powder on it. I thought it was because we had recently changed our dish-washing detergent after our local grocery store stopped carrying the one we had been using. A couple weeks ago, however, my husband noticed that the lower rack to the dishwasher was not the one that actually went with it, as the soap dish could not even open up with that rack in the dishwasher. So, all this time, we have been just rinsing our dishes. My guess is that they found some old dishwasher and it didn’t have a rack, so they located a rack somewhere that wasn’t the right one for the appliance. I had noticed that it was sometimes hard to close the dishwasher, but it didn’t occur to me that anyone would put in the wrong rack. Now I’m totally grossed out.

Once we made that discovery, we looked online to see if we could buy a new rack. We could, but it didn’t seem to make sense to do so, since the rack cost a couple hundred dollars and our dishwasher is so old that it could break any time. So, we ordered a new one. I have been putting the soap in the prewash dish, which doesn’t have a top, ever since we made this discovery. I am looking forward to having really clean dishes.


Changing weather

Last week we had some beautiful days, sunny and in the 70’s. This week we have colder temperatures, more like fall, and rain. Yesterday, a thunder storm came through in the late afternoon, and the rain was pouring down for a brief period.

One view of the river from the park

Last week for our hike, however, it was still sunny and warm. I was still hiking in a short-sleeved shirt and a wide-brimmed hat, whereas today I will be wearing two shirts and my raincoat. We went to Lewisville Park, a regional park on the Lewis River. It is a pleasant park just north of Battle Ground with lots of facilities for picnicking, swimming, and fishing and a jogging and walking path around the park. It also has some beautiful views of the river.

At puppy class, Luke did better this week. We had two classes, on Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. During those classes, we practiced place, sit, and walk on a leash. He did very well at place and sit, but he got distracted by the other dogs walking up and down when we were walking. The trainer said never mind as he is so much younger than the other dogs. At home, he pretty much has place and sit down, although not so much staying in those positions. He doesn’t like proper walking on a leash, though, because we don’t have a fenced in area for him to run free, so he is used to roaming on a long leash. When I try to practice proper leash walking, he fights the leash.

He went for his second vet appointment this week and he has gained six pounds! I also notice he is a lot more leggy looking, looking a bit more adolescent. He has periods when he runs at me and tries to bite me, which are a little alarming. The trainer said to put him in his crate when he does that, but he tends to poop in his crate, and last night we hadn’t cleaned it out yet from him being in there while we went to water classes in the morning. We’re not lazy, it was just pouring all day long outside. In any case, the house training is not going so well. We’ve only had one day without an accident, and now that it’s raining, we find that he doesn’t like going out in the rain to do his business.

I have formally introduced Luke to Hillary by putting him up on the bed. She has seen him several times because he occasionally goes back into the bedroom, although we try to keep him out. Wayne is working on putting up a gate with a cat door in it to keep Luke out of the back hall and let Hillary come out when she wants to. So far, she has only come out when she knew Luke was out of the house, although there have been a couple of close encounters. When they met, they looked at each other. Luke seemed more frightened of Hillary than Hillary was of Luke. He offered to go forward to sniff her, but she plainly didn’t like that idea, so then Luke indicated that he would like to leave the room, or at least the bed.

At art class I finished my teapot and began painting the greenery in my vase. I don’t know how many final touches we will do to the painting, but I’m beginning to think it may be finished in a few weeks. My sister was excited this week because she was going to start her first painting. She quit at the end of the drawing class, and since she restarted, the teacher has had her working in pastels. But she didn’t like it at all, and was eager to get into painting. The teacher tried to argue her out of working in acrylics because they dry faster than oils, and she said you can get much richer effects with oils, but Sue was adamant about using the paints she has at home. She says she has a whole file drawer full of acrylic paints. I have personally always fooled around with oils. I like how they smell, I like playing with them, I pretty much like everything about them.

My husband and I started back at water classes this week. He had the water arthritis class and I went back to deep water exercise. I really like that class. My class starts a half hour later than his, so I swam laps while I waited for my class to start. The pools have been cleaned, and it was refreshing.

No wildlife sightings on our property this week except that the stellar jays are back from wherever they go in the summer. I think with Lukey playing in the wolf pen that we may not sight any deer back there for a while.


Puppy training and a challenging hike

This Saturday, my husband and I took Lukey to his first puppy training class. We have observed some behaviors in him that make us think he came from a puppy mill. We never saw where he was raised but met him and his breeder at her daughter’s house. Also, he had fleas when we got him, which seems unusual for a reputable breeder. In any case, I want to get a handle on some of his behaviors right away.

He was by far the youngest puppy in the class, even though they take puppies from 10 weeks old up. He was 13 weeks, but the other puppies were older and bigger breeds. He spent most of the first part of the class, while the trainers talked to us, hiding under our chairs. Then it turned out we had the wrong kind of leash, the wrong kind of collar (we had him in a halter, which is what he came in—well, not that one—he had chewed the one we got him with in half already). Once we got that taken care of, we tried to get him to go to a little trampoline that is part of training him to go to place. He spent all his time bucking the new collar, though, so we ended up just walking him around the room, trying to get him used to being there. The trainer said he would take things slowly but once he got them, he would understand what he was doing, unlike the other dogs there who were willingly doing what their owners wanted but not necessarily understanding what they were doing.

So, basically Lukey flunked his first day of puppy class. Today, he is going to puppy play and learn, which is with the trainers only. Wayne is going to drop him off at 10 and pick him up at noon while I am on my hike.

Last week, we went to the campus of Washington State University Vancouver for our hike on the cougar trails. It was a cool day at home, so I was overdressed, wearing a long sleeved shirt, and it turned out to be much warmer there. Also, parts of the paths were in the open sunlight, so I wasn’t unhappy when we decided to take only one of the shorter loops. After that, we went out to lunch at a Thai restaurant in Vancouver. We did see a coyote on the trails, though, which surprised us as we were so close into town.

Speaking of hikes, on Monday I went with my sister Sue, my niece Katrina, and her kids on a hike on June Lake Trail up in Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The hike was rated easy on All Trails but was actually a bit challenging for me, because it was all uphill on the way there, nothing steep, but rising all the way, which is the hardest for me outside of outright steepness. However, we had beautiful views along the way of the creek running alongside the trail and a few glimpses of Mt. St. Helens. Once we got to the top of the trail, we were near the base of the granite part of the mountain.

A glimpse of Mt. St. Helens from the trail

The way down was easy. I was lagging behind a bit because I am careful, but also because my four-year-old great nephew was accompanying me. I had told him on the way up that my brother John, who has been a hiker all his life, had told me never to leave anyone behind on the trail. Would you believe this little boy, from then on, stayed back with me as I slowly made my way up the trail, taking several panting breaks? When his mother or his grandmother would call him from way ahead, he would say, “I’m waiting for Aunt Kay.” On the way back he had my sister’s walking stick, which has a compass in the handle. He kept stopping every four steps to read the compass, sometimes telling me that it said we were going north, other times saying it said sunshine. So, it was me waiting for him on the way out.

As for art class, my sister went with me this week for the first time in a couple of weeks. Although she started back a month ago, this is only the second class we’ve had together because she started when I was on the Olympic Peninsula with two of my brothers and then she had to work the last two classes. I have almost finished painting my water jug and tea pot. I think the only things left to paint are the greenery and flowers, unless we will be adding touches to the rest at the end.

The last few days we have seen a doe in our wolf pen once a day. I suspect that is because there is a nice patch of blackberry bushes at the end of it, and last time I went out, there were plenty of green blackberries left. In fact, they should be ripe by now, so I should go out again sometime this week. Wayne has started taking Lukey down to the wolf pen to run around in, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the doe starts avoiding the pen.