Let’s sit down and gnaw a bone

That’s what I found myself saying to Luke yesterday. That was after I asked him if he would like something better than a cookie, a cue for him to go wild with joy. It means he’s getting a marrow bone to chew on, an activity that is fun for hours and means he isn’t bugging me for attention. Needless to say, our house and front yard look like a charnel house.

The count in the county of confirmed cases of coronavirus is still low, at 16 as of yesterday, with four deaths. However, that is more deaths than Oregon has cases, and it has shut down like Washington. It seems that since last week, we have about three more cases confirmed a day. Again, this seems like a low number, but my understanding is that they aren’t doing very much testing in our area. They’re probably reserving that mostly for Seattle. The Koreans got on top of their problem by ordering tests before the virus even came to their country and testing everyone constantly. They have only a 1% death rate, which is much lower than everyone else. But of course it would be really odd for our government to jump on anything. The local and state governments are reacting much faster. When Trump announced he had turned something over to FEMA, I just said “Jesus, help us,” and I’m not a religious person. But, oh yes, the tests are great, according to him.

I hear stories all over about sick people. My niece told me that half her friends in Battle Ground who were having play dates like normal with their kids while she was hunkering down are sick. And a lady posted on Facebook yesterday that a bunch of her church members were sick and some were on respirators. No word about if they got tested. Luckily, so far no one in my family is sick. The flu being in the area adds confusion to all this.

Wayne is worried about his oldest brother, who lives in Michigan, not because of the virus but because shortly before all this happened, he was supposed to be biopsied for lung cancer. He was a smoker most of his life, although he quit smoking a few years ago. When he went into the hospital originally for a biopsy, they found that he had another condition that they had to take care of before they could do that. He just had his biopsy yesterday, a bad time to go into the hospital. Wayne has been calling him every day.

Wayne and I have stayed home almost all this week. Just Monday, the governor announced a stay-at-home order that says you can only go out for necessary business and exercise. That’s basically what we’ve done the last week or so anyway. On Thursday, I went over to Christine’s and we walked our dogs and then sat outside to have coffee. The only thing that worried me about that was the fear that I could have something unbeknownst to myself and pass it on to her, as she is 80. So far, so good. While I was out, I stopped by the farm store.

On Monday, Wayne decided he wasn’t sick after all, helped along by the arrival of a new thermometer, which says we both have normal temperatures. I could never see that he had any symptoms of anything, although I realize that doesn’t mean anything, and he goes out so seldom during normal times except to run errands that it seemed unlikely he got anything. As soon as he thought he was sick, he stayed home. That day, he went out for the first time for a doctor’s appointment, because he has blood in his urine, so maybe a kidney stone or something, but no other symptoms. On the way home, he stopped and got gas and went to the produce store for fruit. Then on Tuesday afternoon, he took his temperature and decided he was sick after all. A doctor would still treat his temperature as normal (98.4), but he says for him it is high, and now he has taken to his bed. I have been through something like this so many times before that it’s hard to take seriously. I don’t know how many times he’s thought he’s had something and moped around for days and then decided he’s not ill after all. I just hope he isn’t ill this time, too.

We are doing okay for groceries so far, just because Wayne generally picks up things without know if we need them, which leads to a surplus of certain foods, or importantly, toilet paper. As a test, however, I decided to try Fred Meyer’s Clicklist function, where you pick out your shopping list online and then schedule a time to pick it up. My only problem was that when I tried to schedule a time, they were all full. My niece suggested I do it early in the morning, so I left my stuff in the cart and then scheduled it at 8:30 AM on Sunday. I got a 1-2 PM appointment today to pick it up. Of course, as soon as I placed it, I was sorry I hadn’t put a few more things on the list, particularly as it was difficult to get a reservation. Of course, we can always get up early and go shop during the senior hours, Monday through Thursday from 7 to 8 AM. My SIL Nancy reports that she placed an order by getting up this morning at 3:30 AM. I don’t know if it got that much worse in two days or if she is just over-reacting as usual. I think she is reading every virus article she can get her hands on and scaring herself. My niece has gone further for groceries than any of us. She was the one using the Clicklist, but this time she is actually ordering the food from them to be shipped to her.

The only thing we have run out of is all our treats. I have some popcorn left to pop, but we usually have a small stash of chocolate and salty snacks, and they are all gone. Every day I have considered baking chocolate chip cookies, and every day I have desisted. I am not being super rigid about WW right now, but I don’t want to undo all my efforts of the last two years.

Other than my trip to pick up my shopping, I may go hiking with Katrina and the kids on Thursday, assuming Wayne doesn’t have an actual temperature by then, and Christine and I are planning another dog-walking expedition.

Here are the very same daffodils, two days after being covered in snow.

We had gorgeous weather here most of last week. In fact, I took another picture of some of my daffodils, the very same ones that were covered in snow last Saturday. Two days later, they were doing fine. I also took a picture of Luke in the crocuses. My crocuses are gung ho this year. Usually by the time the daffodils arrive, they are about done.

If you look hard, you can see yellow and white crocuses. I didn’t even know crocuses came in white, but I must have planted them, because there they are.

The weather being so nice, I spent several days outside pulling up blackberry vines. They are all over our raised bed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach the ones that were high up but lower than the upper ridge, but we did a lot of damage to them. There are still lots more, though. I guess we should have been doing this every spring. I also got some dirt at the farm store last week and turned up the dirt in my raised gardens. I will have to go back to get more dirt, but I was able to prepare two sections of my raised garden and plant my lettuce greens and beans. This will be my third year to try beans, and I haven’t been successful, but the first year I did well with mixed greens of lettuce. Last year, I tried head lettuce, but no heads ever developed. By mistake, I find I have bought foot-long Asian beans instead of regular green beans. Oops!

Now our good weather has passed, and we have been in rain for the past couple of days. It’s supposed to snow today. It hasn’t so far, but we did get a kind of goopy snow yesterday for a few minutes. It was really coming down. It was too snowlike for sleet but slushy. It wasn’t hail. We had two storms of pea-sized hail the day before, one that was big enough to leave slush on the front porch for hours afterwards.

My sister, who is in self-quarantine because she brought her sick grandson over to her house (where she lives with my niece and her family) last weekend, says she’s been painting. I haven’t been so creative, but I’ve been enjoying myself this last week reading the third volume in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series. I just finished it yesterday. It’s a great book. Review to come in four to five months.

Now my family is going crazy messaging about particles of virus found on the cruise ship that were more than 17 days old. I bet some of them are going to start cleaning everything obsessively, if they aren’t already. I can hear my phone going ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Locking down

On the way to art class last Thursday, my sister Sue, who is a nurse, told me there were 21 cases of Covid-19 in Clark County. When I asked her why I hadn’t heard of any more than the one, she said the authorities were lying so we wouldn’t panic. However, she didn’t seem to have any kind of special knowledge, because she said she saw it on the news. What she said didn’t make sense to me, because they are being pretty forthright about the numbers of cases in Seattle, but one disadvantage of living so near to the Oregon border is that our news all comes from Portland, where they naturally talk mostly about Oregon. So, the next day I researched this, and I found that just that day, they had announced two more cases, for a total of three. Where Sue got confused was that I counted 21 cases that had been out for testing, 10 of which came back negative, 9 of which were still out for testing, and the 2 cases they had just announced that day.

Since then, one more confirmed case has been announced, and the two cases they announced last week, a married couple, have died. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t more cases, just that not many people have been tested.

In any case, things have started to lock down around here. School is cancelled and restaurants are only allowed to serve take-out. Almost all my regular activities have been cancelled, except the dog school. However, since the federal government has asked that people not be in groups larger than 10, I think dog classes will have to stop, although perhaps not puppy play. Puppy play was scheduled to shut down for two weeks starting next week anyway. I kept Luke home this week, and my only outside activities since last week’s art class were dropping him off at the groomer’s and going to visit Christine on Friday and hiking with my niece Katrina and her kids yesterday. I also dropped by the Battle Ground Produce Market to buy some meat, veggies, and fruit.

I was in that market on Friday, by the way, and after I picked up some broccoli, I started to go to the check-out stand but stopped when I thought the guy standing right next to me looked familiar. And by golly, it was my brother, Mark, husband of SIL Nancy, with whom I had a run-in earlier that week. He was pleased to see me and spent some time trying to justify his wife. I thought he was talking about the virus kerfuffle, but he was actually talking about the usual thing, his childhood problems, and the nasty things she said about my brother John. It’s always the same old same old with him. Then she came in the store, probably wondering about what was keeping him, and although she was pleasant, she hustled him out. Although they left quite a few minutes before me, I had to follow them almost all the way home, because she insists on driving, and she drives like a little old lady.

Oddly enough, after throwing a fit when she heard I was dropping my dog off at the dog trainer’s, she asked the family what they thought about her going skiing on Monday. What? I’m going to meet two people I know at the dog place and just hand over my dog, and she’s going to go to the slopes among a bunch of strangers? In any case, the slopes closed down.

She still continues to send article after article about the virus all around to the family. It’s one thing to stay informed, but I think she is scaring herself by being over-informed.

Wayne thinks he might be sick, but if he is, it’s a very slight case and more likely of flu. To confuse everyone, the regular flu is going around right now, too. I hope I don’t get it from him. I have had a drippy nose since September, which means it is more confusing for me to know whether I am sick. I made the mistake a month ago when I thought my nose was just doing its normal thing and then got back from art class and realized I had a cold, which I would not have taken to art class if I had known.

He tends to scare himself about illness, which resulted in a little confusion on Friday. That day, he spent several hours trying to find out how to get tested, even though he didn’t have a temperature that we could tell (our thermometer measured both of us at below normal temps) and had only coughed about three times. As a result, he sent me to the drug store on my way to pick up Luke from the groomer’s to get a new thermometer. Walgreen’s was fairly normal, but the entire thermometer rack was empty. The druggist suggested I try Safeway, next door, but when I walked in, that usually empty store had a line all the way out to the produce section. I walked out and ordered a thermometer online.

When I got home, Wayne had listened to online recordings of people with the virus breathing and decided he didn’t have it after all. And that’s how it goes. One day, he thinks he has it, the next he decides he has the flu. It’s a little stressful, both for him and for me. I tried to make him feel better by saying that if he had the virus it seemed really mild, and that just made him angry. He said I was trivializing his illness. You can’t win around here.

Here are my poor daffodils peeping through the snow.

Our weather has been pretty crazy. On Saturday, we woke up to quite a bit of snow that stayed most of the day. I went down to the orchard and attempted to take a picture of my poor daffodils, peeping through the snow. I’m not sure if you can tell that’s what they are. I also took a nice photo of Luke under the apple tree.

Luke in the snow Saturday morning. He just loves snow and spent some time running in circles that morning.

Then the very next day it turned warm and sunny. We’ve had a slew of really nice days. Yesterday I went hiking at Moulton Falls Park with Katrina, Mischa, and Søren. It was a beautiful day, starting out a little chilly and ending up warm. Luke went along with us.

And that’s about it. We’ve battened down the hatches, pretty much. I hope you all are safe wherever you live.

 

 

Viral mania

Those of you who read my blog regularly have probably guessed that I have a challenging relationship with one of my sisters-in-law, although I have been gritting my teeth to keep things pleasant. Well. So, I talked about part of this issue last week. There is now one case of coronavirus in Clark County, but Wayne and I have decided that the likelihood of us encountering that guy’s germs, or the germs of anyone with whom he was in contact, to be slim. And, in fact, no more cases have emerged in the county since this one was announced almost a week ago.

My local relatives have taken the most cautious approach of staying at home most of the time, and that’s fine. However, Wayne and I have decided to continue to live our life normally until things look more alarming in the county. As life around the area looks fairly normal, I’m guessing most of the local people have decided the same thing. My Weight Watchers meeting was just as full as it usually is (I lost 2.2 pounds!), and almost everyone has been coming to the dog classes and tai chi. My neighbor Maja went ahead and had her sweat lodge ceremony this weekend as planned.

So, we come to our Tuesday hike. When I sent out the message on Monday to see who wanted to come, Maja said that she did and my sister-in-law  (SIL from now on) suggested a place to hike. I did not know she had invited my niece and her family, but that was fine. The difficulty came about when Maja decided to drop out, because her hip has been bothering her and she doesn’t want to miss tai chi.

The plan had been to meet at SIL’s house, and after Maja dropped out, I said I didn’t have a ride. That is because, since we shifted our hiking day to Tuesday, I have not had the car, since that is one of the days that Luke goes to puppy play and Wayne has physical therapy. SIL messaged me asking if my car was in the shop, and the next thing I knew she was calling me. I told her that I never had the car on Tuesday because that was Luke’s puppy play. There was a few minute’s silence, and then SIL began interrogating me about the measures we were taking to avoid the virus. Wasn’t I observing social distancing? Didn’t I know not to attend large events? (I usually meet three or four people at puppy play.) She called it a class, but even after I explained that all we did was drop Luke off and pick him up, she kept asking me about what I was doing. I finally said that Wayne and I were living our normal life like we said we were going to do (on an earlier messaging round with the family).

She got really wound up and began saying things like “If I am going to allow you to ride in my car . . .” basically she had some say in my behavior. I told her that if she was uncomfortable going with me then I would stay home. (Note that this started out to be my hiking expedition.) Even then, she kept trying to tell me how Wayne and I should be behaving, so I finally hung up on her. It is as though she can’t take a polite hint. Earlier, she kept sending me articles about the virus and to get her off my back, I told her I wasn’t interested in medical issues (which is true, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention, which she seems to have taken it to mean). In answer to that, she sent me another article.

As if that were not enough, when I got up Tuesday morning, I had an email from her entitled “Please read.” It quoted the King County health department and said that all at-risk people should avoid large gatherings and try to stay home as much as possible. I wrote back and said, “King County. That’s up by Seattle.” Then I again explained about the odds of getting the virus with only one case in the county, and no additional cases emerging in the last week. Finally, since I was sick of all this, I told her that what we decided to do wasn’t her business, just as what she decided to do wasn’t our business, and that I wasn’t going to talk about it anymore.

Of course, since she doesn’t seem to be able to control herself, she had to answer back, saying, among other things mostly implying that I was criminally oblivious, that she wanted me to remove her from my hiking contact list and any other event lists until after the contagion had left the area. As if she can get the virus over the internet.

So, I guess I’ve alienated SIL, but if she wouldn’t always be trying to tell me what to do, this wouldn’t have happened. Wayne says he’s happy she doesn’t want to be around us. Frankly, after the way she treated my other brother, so am I. I wonder what my oldest brother, her husband, thinks of all this. I guess I’m not going to find out, although I’m sure she spent the hike with my niece traducing me. I know my niece agrees with her about the risks, but that’s not the issue here.

And actually, after the hike I got a nice message from my niece saying she was sorry I had missed it and inviting me to go with her some other time.

The rest of the week was normal. We’ve had a lot of very nice days lately, so we’ve been doing yard work. We have a burn pile of blackberry bramble in the middle of the wolf pen. Wayne was going to burn that today, which was supposed to be partly sunny, but we woke up to mist and a bit of rain. Around here, you always see guys burning piles in the rain in the early spring, but Wayne’s been waiting for the perfect day. I hope he does it today, because I don’t want the blackberry bramble to sit there so long that it reroots in the wolf pen.

I spent a few hours ripping up the smaller blackberry vines that were trying to smother several of our bushes and a poor little Japanese maple that’s been struggling along since I planted it. It is too high up on the ridge during summer for me to do anything with it, but since the foliage around it is dead so I could see what I was doing, I was able to remove most of the vines from it from as far up as I could climb. I just won’t be able to do much about the vines that attack it this summer until next spring. Still, those little suckers did their best to trip me when I was going back down the ridge to put the dead ones on my pile.

In the orchard the crocuses are all out now and the daffodils have started to bloom. We have a duck family in the pond. We have had ducks there on and off all spring, but this time I swear I saw ducklings. It seems early for them, but although they were hard to see, I counted two large ducks and several smaller swimming things around them when I looked out early this morning from the kitchen window. I hope the ducklings will make it for a change.

Wayne has not made it to tai chi (big surprise), but now he’s saying he will start it when our class starts over in April. I should be taking Luke to Monday night class since we haven’t been going to tai chi, but inertia keeps setting in. And anyway, that’s one set of germs I’m avoiding weekly.

No picture today. I thought I’d have one of our hike, but that’s how things go.

Some of my traveling friends will be delighted to hear that I finally got Wayne to finish filling out his passport renewal application, and he just left to put our applications into the mail. Our passports expired the year we moved here. That was not a good time to have one more thing to attend to, so I let them lapse, and since then we’ve been lazy about getting new ones. We don’t have any traveling plans yet, but one friend has proposed England and Scotland for next year. Yay!

Winter or spring? Return of the poltergeists

The weather has been extremely variable this week. On Saturday morning, we looked up and realized that the rain had changed to snow. It snowed long enough that some of it began sticking and by the time I had to take Luke for his 9 AM dog class, I was driving in slush, but by the time I got home, it was all gone. Then around 1 PM, we got more snow, although it did not stick. That was followed by a couple of rainy days, and now for the last two days it’s been warm and sunny. I took a movie of the snow for you, but I see that the file types I am allowed to post do not include movies. Hence, I have no pictures for my blog this week.

That’s not altogether right, though. I do have a picture. On Sunday night, we were watching TV in the living room when we heard a BAM! on our front door. We opened up the door but could see nothing. Luke was barking like a crazy dog. We realized that the kids were back. We couldn’t figure out what they hit the door with. I thought they hit it, but Wayne thought they bounced something heavy off it.

I stood by the window next to the front door, because on the other occasions when they just knocked on the door, they came back. Then Wayne said, “What’s that flash?” They were shining flashlights into our front window (which they have done before). I went out and heard kids running around in the woods above our house and then heard them shouting taunts. I told them I was going to go in and call their parents.

In reality, I only knew to call the people whose property they were on. They told us their kids were all inside, but they said they would email the parents and send their son-in-law out with a flashlight. I didn’t see his flashlight, but it got quiet in the woods really quickly.

Here’s the boot print we found on our front door the next morning. Yes, my front door is bright green.

The next morning we found a lovely big, smeared boot print on our front door. I took a picture of it and posted it on our neighborhood Facebook page with a description of what had happened.

I’m not sure if was the neighbor’s emails or my Facebook post (which got quite a bit of comment), but that afternoon, a car drove up and a boy, about 10 years old maybe, got out. I could see an apology coming. He apologized and said another boy would be coming by to wash off our door. I didn’t know who he or his mom were and was taken too by surprise to ask, but I think this boy might not have been from our streets in our little neighborhood but maybe from down the main road. A little later, a boy came by whom I did recognize, our across-the-road neighbor. He looks about 10, too, but he is 13. He apologized and said he would be back to clean the door. He came back in the evening and did it, and then asked if it was okay and apologized again. I think the parents really let these kids have it. There were more kids involved than just this two, but hopefully, they all got the message. I hope this is the end of it all.

Over the weekend, my family got going about the coronavirus. Some of their concern was legitimate. They decided not to go to a taekwondo tournament in Seattle, where most of the virus seems to be and which would include a lot of people from Korea. That seemed a legitimate concern, but now many of them are announcing their intention to stay home for the next two weeks, even though there are no cases locally. My brother, who had planned to come here this coming weekend for Crab Feast and his birthday, has decided to stay home. Wayne and I are doing our usual things, except now Wayne thinks he has a bronchial infection, despite not coughing more than twice in two days. That’s Wayne all over.

This means that he didn’t make his first tai chi class on Monday, which makes me wonder if he will go at all. I had been looking forward to doing something besides dog class on Monday nights. I usually hate going there, even though it is by far the best class because it is much more lightly attended. His Saturday class has so many dogs in it that it seems overwhelming at times. However, I just don’t like having to pack Luke up and drive into town on cold, rainy nights. It’s not late, but it is dark out. I don’t mind those classes later in the year when it’s light out and warm.

So, I wasn’t sure if I should just go to the tai chi class by myself or take Luke to dog class or what. Inertia won, and I stayed home.

On Monday morning, a crew showed up to rip out all the blackberry bramble on the slope near the back of the house. It was expensive, but we are relieved to get rid of it. We had both worked on it, but neither of us felt secure enough to try going up the steepest part of the slope. Now we have a pile of bramble to burn. We also have fabric stretched down behind our house on which to plant grass.

In art class, it’s about time for me to start painting the hairs on my pigs. I know that will continue for some time, but it’s one of the later steps. After that, I just have to work on the hay some more and put dirt on the piggy noses.

A new hike

Here’s a look at the trail in a place not next to the river (it’s beyond a little island) but from which we had a great view of Mt. Hood. It looks barely visible in the middle of my photo, but it was actually very noticeable.

Our weather has been exceptionally changeable this week. On Sunday, for example, we woke up to nice sunny skies, but by the time I was ready to go out, it was cold and rainy again. However, yesterday was gorgeous, so Maja and I did a nice-day hike we’ve never taken before, the Columbia River Dike Trail. It’s completely flat along the top of a dike, but it’s long enough to get a good walk in. We did not go all the way but managed to hike about 5.5 miles. The trail follows the Columbia River west toward the gorge, and although it is industrial next to the trail for a while, when you get up next to the Steigenwald Wildlife Reserve, the industrial sites are gone. Hanging above us for our entire hike was Mt. Hood. We have had a lot of rainy days this year but not so many really beautiful days like this.

On the way back to the car, we encountered two women who were putting Mardi Gras beads around people’s necks. What a fun thing to do. I had forgotten it was Fat Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is much more present down in Texas than here.

Another major thing going on this week is that Friday we got our Sleep Number bed delivered. I have to confess to mixed experiences with it. So far, I have had one good night of sleep and a couple of uncomfortable nights. I don’t think I’ve figured out my sleep number yet. Wayne is still waking up in the middle of the night but says he’s sleeping a little longer. Part of what’s hard to get used to is not having a three-inch memory foam pad on the bed anymore. I’m used to sinking into our bed a few inches and then having support underneath. We could cut a slit in the top of the pad (we bought a top-split bed because of Wayne’s sleep apnea), and put the pad back on, but the bed is supposed to keep us cooler at night, and those pads make you hotter. There’s no point in making the bed not be able to perform one of its functions. I get hot enough at night.

Lately, I’ve been getting a little bit back into creativity by editing my brother John’s book manuscript. He tends to make the same types of grammatical and punctuation errors, so I’m making him work by explaining the rules to him and making him search for the changes. He says he’s learning something. The thing that makes editing boring is that almost all amateur writers (and some professional ones) make the same mistakes over and over. They’re just different mistakes from other people’s. I worked on his earlier draft a bit, but then he told me to stop because he’d rewritten it extensively. I can’t really tell the difference. I think he’s telling a good story. He just has a few little writing quirks to clean up, and he really likes complicated sentences.

Lukey did really well in dog class both on Saturday and on Monday night, heeling mostly off leash and then doing an exercise where we put the dog on place, walk away and call them, and then walk off and ask them to heel as they approach. Then we walk back toward their place and stop well back from it to send them to place. He pretty much perfectly did this exercise every time, completely off leash, just trailing his little leash behind him, except that sometimes he came to heel on my wrong side. (He’s supposed to be on my left.) The only time he broke when he was supposed to be on place was one time when another dog owner called her dog in a really high-pitched voice. For some reason that made several dogs break and run toward their owners, Luke among them. Still, I can see that I’m closer to the point when I’ll be able to take Luke off-leash to places like the beach and he’ll just follow me around. Of course, I’ll always have a leash handy in case I need one.

Starting next Monday, Luke will miss his Monday night classes for a month, because I am going to be attending a tai chi class in Orchards, a suburb of Vancouver. I’m doing this because Wayne was told by his physical therapist that tai chi would be good for him. I tried to get him to go to my class when it started, but it’s a four-month class, and now they won’t let new people in until the next one starts. So, for a month we’ll go to the class in Orchards, and I will also continue to go to my Wednesday class in Battle Ground, then in April Wayne will start over again when the beginning Battle Ground class restarts. I can already tell I will need to repeat the beginning class, maybe even several times, before I go into something more advanced. I am slow to learn anything physical.

 

 

Inching toward spring

I have a few more crocuses today, but they’ve been coming out slowly because we haven’t had very nice weather until yesterday. It’s been either warm or cold and rainy. On Monday, we were supposed to get snow, but all we got was some sleet that hit my windshield on the way home from Christine’s.

At least last week I was feeling well enough that I could return to all my regular activities. Luke went to both classes and did well, except when one of the German Shepherds lunged at him Monday night. Then whenever we had to go near him, Luke would walk the other way. But he’s doing awfully well at heeling in class, not so well outside of it. I have him almost off-leash in class, but the problem is that when I let go of the leash, he stops. So, I was holding on to the very end of the leash, and he was walking along with me nicely. It’s too bad, because for a while I had him walking along by me completely off-leash. When he can do that routinely, he gets to have only a two-foot leash, and most of the time he can be off-leash. I can’t help feeling that if he knew what reward he had in store for him, he’d learn to walk off-leash really quickly.

Starting in March, a lot of our Saturday classes and all of our Monday night classes are going to be off the premises of the training facility, at places like malls, where we are training our dogs for the Urban Canine Good Citizen certificate. Unfortunately, during all of March I will be attending an evening beginning tai chi class with Wayne instead of going to dog class. Anyway, Dawn has announced she has a goal to have the schedule for class done by March 1. Last time she announced anything like this, we never got a schedule—she just used Facebook to announce where they were going at the last minute. That meant that Luke and I never got to go, because I never managed to get on Facebook at exactly the right time to look, and the times I did so, the event was so far away from our house that we couldn’t get there on time.

Aside from dog and art class, where my piggies are coming along, the only other thing I did this week of note was go walking with Christine and Luke on Monday. We drove over to her house and just walked around her neighborhood. Then we followed that up with a coffee klatsch at her house.

Here’s a glimpse of the swimming hole from the path.

For our hike yesterday, we went back to Salmon Creek Park, because it was a rare sunny day, and we wanted to stay in the sun. This was the first time we went there without Luke, which gave us an excuse to explore the swimming area, in which dogs are not allowed (even though we saw a couple in there). It is a nice area with a pond, which was occupied by cormorants, geese, and ducks at this time of year, and a bathhouse. It also has playscapes and a duck pond.

Returning from the duck pond to the swimming hole, we walked around a huge flock of geese that was sunning in the grass. When we got about two thirds around, they all took off. About half of them landed in the duck pond and the other half in the swimming hole.

We saw a path branching away from that area, and we decided to go that way rather than along the usual trail. It went under I-5 and then back along the creek for a ways, but after a mile or so it got rockier and we began seeing shopping carts and barbecues and other signs of a homeless population, so we turned around. So, we didn’t actually get a chance to find out if it went anywhere else. We returned to the main part of the park and walked up the usual trail. It started off being quite cold in the park but gradually got a lot warmer, so that we were shedding layers as we went.

As we returned to the car, we passed some people with telephoto cameras and realized they were pointed at a huge nest in the park. It was  a nest of bald eagles. We watched for a while but saw no activity, but the people said that both parents had been back and forth to the nest.

Sick again

Here is part of my first batch of crocuses.

I noticed some black and white ducks on our pond earlier this week, but they don’t seem to have stayed. I also started looking for signs of spring in my orchard, because I noticed that lots and lots of bulbs were coming up at Mark and Nancy’s. I see that I have daffodil stalks up around most of the bases of my trees, but I didn’t see any flowers until Monday, when I noticed a few snowdrops. (I keep forgetting I planted snowdrops my first year here, and they are so small I can hardly notice them.) Then, on Tuesday, suddenly some of my crocuses were up. They came up so quickly and there were so many more stalks without flowers yet that this morning, I thought there would be twice as many, but I went out early and maybe they need some more sunshine, because they looked about the same.

I am afraid some things may be coming up a bit too early, because there still could be some freezing weather this month, although so far it doesn’t look like it. It rained all this week except Sunday and Monday, which were gorgeous. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the sunshine much because I had another cold. Since I moved to Washington, I’ve only been sick with the flu one time, my first year here, as opposed to more than once a winter all my years in Austin. And I haven’t had any colds or anything else wrong until this winter, when I had two colds. I was beginning to think that I had improved my health so much that that’s why I wasn’t getting sick, but maybe I’ve just been lucky. Or, it could be that the amount of time we spend in the library lately is exposing me to a lot more germs, since on Tuesdays (unless there’s a hike) and Thursdays, we do our errands and then go to the library until it’s time to pick up Luke at Play and Train. Also, it’s true that we’ve missed most of our hiking weeks since December and no one has been able to pack walk with me and Luke, so the lack of accustomed exercise might have something to do with it. I need to get my act back in gear. But, in fact, the timing of getting sick coincides with Mark’s birthday party, so I guess perhaps someone there gave me the cold.

Not much else to say this week since I spent half of it in bed, or as close to it as you can when you have to take your dog out every couple of hours. It’s true that he has been a bit relentless with me, scratching on the bedroom door when I’m trying to sleep in, and so on.