A fruitful week

Gosh, it’ll be nice when I can stop mentioning the coronavirus statistics every week, but I thought it would be good to have a record, week to week. This week is looking slightly more hopeful, because we are only up about 150 cases for the county versus 200+ last week. Hope that is a trend. So, the total number of cases this week is 2121 with 42 deaths. I think it is interesting that more and more people in the area seem to be behaving as if it is all over when actually all the statistics have gone way up. Just this morning, several people on the local Facebook page were berating someone who was trying to tell people that their children weren’t supposed to be playing on the playground equipment in Lewisville Park and trying to remind them that they could be taking the illness back to their grandparents. One person’s succinct reply was “Shut up,” while other people told her to mind her own business. Well, that is exactly what she’s doing. People don’t seem to get that. I don’t know where the idea of civic spirit went. Anyway, to continue my statistics, 36,605 people have been tested, and the rate of new cases per 100,000 is back up to 88. It seems to go up when cases have gone down and vice versa.

Wednesday was my day to water the orchard, which I wrote a bit on last week. I found that Wayne had continued to make my task a little more challenging. Having taken care of the hose issue, I found that he had moved all the watering buckets. Usually, I put them inside the fence of the wolf pen, but he locked them inside the little shed in the wolf pen, about a football field’s distance from where I usually leave them. (The wolf pen is big, as it would have needed to be to house wolves.) It’s true that someone stole all our buckets two years ago, but that was from the orchard, which is right next to the road, and moreover, I think it was a prank. The little jerks would have to have a lot more nerve to go across the orchard and open up the wolf pen to get them. In any case, I am moving them from that shed as I use them and just leaving them where I used to. If he wants to, he can move them back, and they’ll go back and forth all summer. We can put them in the shed at the end of the summer to store them for next year.

Thursday night my class met our new art teacher, a young man named Ryan. He showed us some of his work, which was really good, especially his portraits. He said he’d been working in animation until recently but quit because he wasn’t finding enough time to work on his own projects. Now he is working as a commercial artist. I learned two new things from him just that first night. I have been painting hairs on my pigs for weeks, something I started doing before the virus and am still doing, but they are too thick, and I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was doing. He showed me a different brush to use and a way to make them thinner. I guess I will continue with the class at least for the time being.

I was supposed to go hiking with Maja on Thursday but first she postponed it a few hours because it was raining, and then she cancelled altogether fifteen minutes before we were supposed to leave. I think it’s rude to cancel unless there is some emergency, but on the other hand I didn’t really feel like going. If we had left when we planned, we would have been outside when it was pouring rain.

That was the only day of rain we had, and now we are alternating back and forth between really pleasant temperatures and hot ones. But the evenings are getting quite cold, so I feel that fall is coming on even when we are in the month when summer is usually hottest here. So far, the last weeks of July were hotter than August has been.

Luke and I dropped by to see Christine and Duchess on Friday after picking up groceries at Fred Meyer. While we were there, her friend Renee dropped by. I liked her a lot. She had just gotten back from a short trip to Anacortes, and her description made me want to travel.

On Saturday, Wayne and I had to go load and move a bunch of firewood. First, we had to borrow a trailer from my niece’s husband. When we found the house, we saw that the wood, although good, was in much larger chunks than usual, so we’ll have to split it several times. In addition, loading and moving that much wood is a lot of work. It took all afternoon, which thankfully was quite cool. We were supposed to buy two cords of wood from that guy, but on our first trip home, we saw that the guy we bought firewood from last year was selling it again. He not only supplied really good wood, but he delivered it, it was cut to the right size, and it cost just about the same. So, we just took one cord from the guy on Saturday and put a call in to the other guy for two more cords from him. Wayne’s plan was to try to stack the firewood as we unloaded it, but because it isn’t in shape to be stacked, that plan went out the window.

It’s a strange thing about Wayne. You can’t make any suggestions for doing something differently than he has planned, or at least I can’t, or he’ll get very angry. Before we left, he tied straps on the sides of the trailer, planning to strap the wood down. I was reflecting that I’d seen people driving all over the county with loads of wood and none of it was strapped down. While we were loading our first load, I mildly suggested that the wood was heavy enough that we didn’t really need to strap it down, at which Wayne got very heated and told me we were doing it the way he planned it. Then, about ten minutes later, as if I had never said a thing on the subject, he remarked that he saw no need to strap down the wood. I don’t know if this is just his normal reaction to me or to anyone. I have to say that he is normally very kind to other people, just not to me, but on the other hand, other people aren’t usually doing projects with him. Whenever I try to help him with anything, it seems, I get yelled at. Sometimes when he does that I just walk away and let him finish by himself, but I couldn’t have done that under these circumstances. This from the guy who once told me that everything in our house had to be done my way. I’d like to know just what that everything is.

My haul from my niece’s raspberry patch. I also fed raspberries to the chickens.

On Monday, I went over to my niece’s house to pick raspberries as she had told me that they were done picking and wanted other people to come over and get the rest. It would be nice to have my own raspberries, but I know that they always get so many berries that they don’t know what to do with them. On the other hand, I often miss raspberry season because I don’t know when they would like me to come pick. I got about half a basket of berries that day, but it was very hot out, so I didn’t stay long. When I am picking, I always think about people whose job it is to harvest fruit and get every ripe berry off the bush. I don’t have enough attention span to do this but pick sort of haphazardly. Every time I move, I see different berries in the same area where I thought I had taken all the ripe ones. It would be a hard job.

While I was picking, I heard my niece’s chickens begging for raspberries from their pen on the other side of the fence, so I occasionally shot a berry or two over the fence at them. One of them actually sounded like the horn on a little car. He (I think it was a rooster) kept beeping at me.

Here are my admittedly small tomatoes. Still it’s nice to have fresh tomatoes, small or not. My tomato has a shape problem, too, but I’m sure it will taste just fine.

The other picture I took this week was of the tomato I picked a few days ago. It isn’t large, but it’s the largest one so far out of the ones I’ve been growing, and all I can say is, at least I am getting tomatoes this year. Last year, I only had one and it had a hole eaten in it before it got ripe. The year before, I got a whole bunch of green tomatoes just in time for frost. So, the idea of putting them on the back deck has worked out, and I just need to figure out what to do to make them larger. Maybe I need to water them even more than I have done. Here is a picture of my largest tomato, which is about half the size of the kind in the store, and two of the tomatoes from my other plant, which seems to be producing cherry tomatoes even though it’s not a cherry tomato plant.

I have finished the first draft of my novel, but my friend Claire, who is a historian, came up with a bunch of sources on a topic I couldn’t find much on, so I am reading that material in order to make sure that my final story is accurate.

 

Out and about a bit

Last time I checked the coronavirus statistics for the county, it seemed as though we had fewer new cases this week. However, today the total number is up to 1946, which is more than 200 since last week for the county, so no, the number of new cases is not slowing down. Now we are showing 40 deaths, so right before we opened up more, we were only getting about 50 new cases a week and were steady at 29 deaths, but since then, we’ve gone up by 150-200 cases a week and 11 more deaths. Now 36,558 people have been tested, and the mystifying rate of new cases per 100,000 population is down to 74.3. Perplexing.

This Friday, Maja and I took a hike on the Siouxon Trail. We had only been out there once. It is extremely remote. After exiting the highway and driving down some country roads, you drive on some bad roads and through rugged scenery for about 15-20 minutes to get into the Gifford Pinchot Forest, and then you drive for about another half hour once you are in, the roads getting worse and worse. In several places, the pavement has buckled and the roads are only one lane wide. Finally, you get to the very end of a forest road, and there’s the trailhead. The first time we went out there, we got totally lost, because we were depending upon the driving instructions from AllTrails, and the phone lost our location. We were actually looking for a different trail and ended up at the Siouxan. There was only one other car out there.

So, this time, we were shocked to find more than 20 cars there. By the time we hiked three miles and were returning to the parking lot, people were coming down in droves. We saw lots of backpackers and several camps set up near the trail. We had to cope with the masks going up and down, and there were so many dogs around that I had to keep putting Luke back on his leash, so I finally ended up keeping him on it. It really is a beautiful trail, though, sinking down in the lush forest to run alongside the creek. It wasn’t terribly hot out, but with the exercise we got quite warm, and the trail is down far enough that you don’t often get nice breezes. Rumor has it that there are waterfalls, but we haven’t made it to any.

I also had some exercise on Wednesday, when Luke and I met Christine and Duchess at the city park where we always used to go dog walking. We set out along our usual route, but we got side-tracked when I mentioned a park that another woman told me about, called Hidden Park. She had told me it was off one of the circles in that area, but I couldn’t remember which one. We were right next to 7th Circle, so we went to the dead end, but no park. We tried again at 6th Circle. We finally found it at the end of 5th Circle. It’s a very small park along some woods. The trail goes back to the creek, and there was apparently a way to get over at one time, but now there is a sign that says “Trail Closed.” So, it was an interesting discovery but not a very big park. After that, we went back to the park where we started and then drove over to Christine’s for a visit and lunch. I don’t usually put anything on my arms, and I had little tiny ichy blisters on one arm after this expedition. I guess I got a bit of sun poisoning. I used to get it when I was taking niacin, so badly that I had to wear long sleeves in the summer in Austin and keep my hands out of the sun. Finally, I got my doctor to take me off it.

I went to art class on Thursday only to learn that my instructor Sarah is quitting again. This time, it is from concerns for the virus. She says she believes the students are safe enough but that she has to clean off everything in the classroom several times a day, and she doesn’t feel safe. She urged us to give her replacement a chance so that she’ll have a job to come back to. I didn’t have good experiences when she was on pregnancy leave, and I have been a little worried myself about my exposure to the virus, so I guess I’ll give the guy a chance, but I may quit. I just paid, so I might as well go a few times to see what he’s like. I was not happy, though, with the behavior of another class member. She comes to class with both a mask and a face shield on, but at the end of class this time, she took both of them off and then walked right up to me to look at my picture. I was so shocked that all I could do was back away from her. A few minutes later she put her mask back on. Of course, the instructor didn’t notice.

Other than those expeditions and one to do shopping errands, it’s been home as usual. At least it has cooled down a bit here. Now, we can leave the windows open all day without the house getting unbearable. Wayne has been doing a lot of weed whacking, but this morning he got a bug-a-boo about our security. I do think that we’ve had an opportunistic thief. Someone took Wayne’s 100-foot extension cord, which he left out only one day after he used it. That was a few months ago. Then last week, a small white pickup came all the way up our driveway and turned around. The thing is, you wouldn’t know we had a turn-around without coming up our driveway in the first place, because our place is up a hill, and all you can see from the road is the hill. And if you’re going to turn around on our road, you would just pull into the driveway and back out again. It’s only a one-lane road, but it doesn’t have that much traffic. Later that week when I was walking Luke on the road, I saw what seemed to be the same truck coming out of a driveway at the end of the next road, where a neighbor rents out some places on her property. These places aren’t very nice, and her property is right next door to my niece’s, who says they’ve had trouble with the renters. So, if I’m right about the truck, the guy could have been scoping out her place or he might live there. I saw the guy in the truck, and he looked like an ugly customer.

In any case, now Wayne is convinced that the day of my hike with Maja, when I left through the back door leaving the front door unlocked while Wayne was outside weed whacking (I thought he was in the house), that someone walked into our house and stole some things. Now, this is not a new phenomenon. We went through this in Austin several times, and Wayne always found whatever was missing eventually. (And we did not leave our doors unlocked there, but that didn’t prevent him from thinking we had thieves.) We have only been through it once here, and unfortunately that stuff never turned up, but that was slightly different as it was the guys who helped us unpack our moving truck who took some of Wayne’s electronics. He persists, however, in believing that periodically people come into our house and steal things, and yesterday morning, he spent quite a bit of time setting up a webcam pointing at our driveway. Unfortunately, he didn’t do his homework, so at first it had no way of recording anything except if I happened to look at it (he installed it on my phone) and push the record button right at the time someone came in. It still doesn’t even notify my phone if someone drives up the driveway. I was wondering if he would ever fix this, but by afternoon he had found some kind of card to put in it, probably from one of our old cameras, and now it records. (The reason I thought this was because we have another, older web cam system, the kind that uses cords instead of wifi, in a box that was never opened.)

Here are my red poppies kind of pushing out some of the other things I planted.

One of the stupid things I did when I was planting my beds was strew seeds around in each of them. I can only hope that none of these flowers will come back next year, because they are absolutely stuffing my boxes. However, my poppies look nice, so here they are. Some of the other flowers that I planted are near blooming, but they haven’t done so yet. I also moved over my begonias to the middle box because they were frying in the end one, which gets more sun. The ones already in the middle box are fine. I was afraid to move the begonias again, because sometimes replanting a plant twice will kill it, but they were being slowly murdered anyway. We’ll see if they do better in the middle.

It has become time to water our orchard trees, and we had a little fiasco connected with that task. It is usually my job to water the trees. For the past three years, we have run a hose down to the orchard in the middle of the summer, and what I do is place our buckets at the base of each tree and then run around with the hose and fill them up. Each bucket has a hole in the bottom, so it slowly drains. Once one is empty, I move it to another tree and fill it back up again.

Well, Wayne has been busy this month.

So, I went down to the orchard to water the plants. I knew that Wayne had rerouted the hose to go down to the wolf pen (east of the house) instead of the orchard (north of the house), simply because he burned a trash pile in the wolf pen this spring and set up a base for our fire pit down there, the fire pit we have never used. So, get this, he decides having the water go there, to a place where we have burned something once, is a priority over having it go to the orchard, where we use the water every week in the mid to late summer. This would be fine if he had run enough hose out to the orchard for it to reach all the trees, but after several minutes of dragging the hose out, I found that it only reached halfway across the orchard. Wayne had watered the trees the week before, and I asked him how he did it. He said he took a smaller bucket and walked it over to the tree where the hose didn’t reach and dumped it into the bigger bucket. (There are actually two trees it doesn’t reach, so I assume one didn’t get watered at all.) Now, this is a tough enough job already. It doesn’t sound tough, but it means a lot of walking up and down the orchard, and I told him if he thought I was going to make several trips, uphill, just to fill one bucket, he could forget about it. Geez, I don’t understand how guys think. I suggested to him that we run the hose down to the orchard the way we did before and then bring it to the wolf pen in the unlikely event that we need it there. (I didn’t say “in the unlikely event,” though. I have some tact). Then he suggested I get one of the other hoses and add it on. Those hoses are both on hose reels, so they would have to be unwound and detached, and by the way, I use both of those hoses where they are, one for watering my garden and raised beds and one for watering the lilacs. As it is, I have to detach the hose that runs to the wolf pen and attach the hose on the hose reel if I want to water the lilacs, and then put them back. By the next day, he had fixed a broken hose and added it on so that it reached across the orchard. That was an unusually prompt fix for him, probably caused by my going back into the house and not finishing the watering as soon as I realized I would have to be lugging filled buckets of water.

I am sitting here wondering why Wayne’s brilliant ideas always result in more work for me.

 

 

Just a tad more active

We are up another 200+ cases of the virus for the week for a total of 1717 in the county. Oddly, the number of deaths has gone down one to 37. I don’t know how that’s possible. Another 5000 people have been tested, for a total of 29,752, and the new statistic of rate of new cases per 100,000 people is 96.4, which is down a tad. I don’t quite understand how that one works, as it seems to go down when the number of new cases go up more and up when the number goes down. Ah, they explain the change in the death toll by saying that one death was not confirmed as being from the virus. The inconsistency between the zip code map and chart of cases remains unfixed.

This last week has been hotter than any of the ones before it, although most of the mornings and evenings are still cool. As a result, though, I have been staying in more during the day, because I can’t take being out in the heat. That’s what I moved away from Texas for, partially.

I had no takers on hikes this week, although my sister invited me twice to go to a beach on Yale Lake with her and the kids. She asked me on the hottest days, however, and since I knew they would be there for hours, I decided not to go. I have to have such a high SPF on that it’s ridiculous.

However, Wayne was going down to Vancouver yesterday to get one of our small propane tanks inspected that run our stove, and he dropped me and Luke at Christine’s since I hadn’t seen her for weeks. The last time we went by was just to drop off some blackberries that we bought at Bizi Farms. So, Christine and I had a nice talk while Wayne went on to do his errand, and we stayed a surprisingly long time after Wayne got back. That was nice. Luke got to chase Duchess around the garden, and everyone was happy.

Here’s my first batch of peas for this year. I think I have about twice as many by now saved up in a baggy in the fridge.

Speaking of gardens, I have almost finished harvesting my snow peas. I find one or two still every time I go out. However, my green peas have just gotten started, and I almost have enough to make peas for dinner! Last time I grew green peas, I think I ended up with a handful of peas to eat, but this year, I am doing better. It’s always surprising how few there are when you shuck them, though. I am also actually getting in green beans for the first time after trying to grow them every year. They are not big enough to pick yet, but there are several of them coming in. Last year by the end of the summer, I had one skinny little bean hanging from the bush. The experiment of growing tomatoes on the back deck seems to be working well, too, since I actually have one tomato that is approaching normal tomato size, and a bunch of them growing. I have picked three that were cherry tomato size even though I am not growing cherry tomatoes.

As for my new beds of flowering plants, I planted some seeds and rhizomes late in the summer, and I had begun to be afraid that it was too late, but many of them are beginning to flower now. Once I actually get some flowers, I will post pictures, but it looks like the ranunculus, the cone flowers, and some of the poppies are going to be out soon. My carpet rose bush lost all its flowers and didn’t seem to be developing any new buds, but some new ones showed up last week, and this week the first two new flowers have opened up.

I went to art class this week, and I picked a different seat so that I was not sitting between the two preteen girls. That helped a lot to keep from being passed by too closely. I hoped to be between two adults, but I ended up with a very quiet little oriental girl on one side and an adult on the other. Right now, we have four kids and three adults in our class, but the two youngest kids are very quiet and stay in their seats. The preteen girls are always getting up and trying to visit with each other, although they were better this time from being told to sit still by the teacher.

A plate of chicken cacciatore with pesto, accompanied by pasta and asparagus

Another unusual effort I made this week was dinner on Saturday night. Wayne found a recipe that he liked. It was definitely not Weight Watcher appropriate, but I haven’t really been sticking to my diet during the pandemic, so I decided to make it. It was a version of chicken cacciatore with breading including crushed kettle chips and a pesto made from arugula, parsley, and hazelnuts. I couldn’t find the hazelnuts, so I used macadamias, because I figured they would be closest in taste and consistency. The grocery was supposed to give me flat-leafed parsley, but I notice that some of the people who select groceries for pickup don’t know what they are doing. They didn’t list it as a substitute, but they gave me regular parsley, which just tells me they don’t know the difference between it and flat-leafed. I couldn’t really taste that it made a difference in the pesto, though. The chicken is topped the last few minutes in the oven with fresh mozzarella. I also made noodles and asparagus to go with it. Cooking this on a hot evening was laborious and I was hot for the rest of the evening, but I had to admit the meal was delicious.

Another interesting substitute from the grocery store lately was that they gave me Clamato instead of tomato juice. This one was listed as a substitute, but when I asked them didn’t Clamato have clams in it, the guy said no, just tomato juice. Well, it is not tomato juice. It has clam juice in it and it tastes like a Bloody Mary without the vodka. I suspect that most people use it as a Bloody Mary mixer. Not an appropriate substitute. I have just been letting it sit in the fridge. Wayne says he will drink it, but he never remembers to.

I have formed the opinion that some of the kids picking out groceries, especially the newer ones, either don’t know the store or are lazy. I had to return two containers of Oxycleen because they weren’t detergent, when that was what I asked for. Also, for some reason our grocery store puts the tomato juice that I drink separate from the other brands. I have never known it to be gone when I’ve picked it up myself, but they have only given me the right stuff once since I’ve been picking up my groceries outside. Hence, the Clamato. My theory is that my juice is sitting right there up on the top shelf the farthest down the row of juices, but they don’t see it. I guess I shouldn’t think too badly of them, though, because Wayne can never find it when I send him in for it, either.

I have been suffering from a neck ache, something that I used to get quite often when I was working but haven’t had for quite a time. I think it’s from too much reading the past week, because that makes me look down too much. It was nice yesterday to just visit for a couple of hours, and it made my neck feel a lot better.

That’s about it for this week! Oh, I don’t know if I mentioned that we finally received our passports. They came in last week. Then yesterday we got another package from the passport office. Our old passports. Funny that they came separately.

 

 

Humdrum

Our virus cases continue to go up every week. This week the county has a total of 1566, which is up almost 300 from last week, our largest number of new cases yet. We have had 38 deaths, which is 5 more than last week, a pity because we were sitting at 29 for quite some time. Now, 24,593 people have been tested. The rate of new cases per 100,000 is now up to an astonishing 99.7, meaning it has almost doubled since last week, and last week it had almost doubled since the week before.

This week has been much more humdrum than last week. Maja and I went hiking on Wednesday, but we just went to Lewisville Park, which was very popular and full of people without masks. As with the other populated parks that Maja and I have gone to lately, I got tired of lifting my mask up every time we met someone coming the other way.

This week I had the opportunity to go with my sister and her grandkids back to Yale Lake, but it was very hot out, and they planned to take a picnic and stay for hours. I really can’t stay out in the heat and sunshine for hours and hours. Last time, we were there for a long time, but it was a cool day.

I went out that hot day to pull up some more vines, and after only 20 minutes decided to go back in, because I was too hot. Wayne said it was still cool enough to work outside in the shade, but I was in the sun. This morning it is much cooler and even rained a little tiny bit.

This week, I don’t have any opportunity to hike because Maja is hosting an abbreviated version of the usual month of Native American Church ceremonies. Usually, she is in Grand Ronde for the entire month of July for this, where she is in charge of feeding hundreds of people. This year, they’re doing a week in her yard, and she has only invited a few elders who have been keeping isolated. That’s what she said, anyway, although I have heard children playing over there. I suspect that more people came than were invited.

So, that means she can’t hike, and since no one else has been responding to my invitations except occasionally my sister, and she told me she was hiking this week at a place that is too hard for me, I didn’t send an invitation out this week. I pinged Christine about dog walking, but she is also too busy. So, unless I decide to take Lukey out somewhere by myself, we won’t go. But when I go just with Luke, I usually go to Moulton Falls, and that place was aggravating last time because of the number of people who were there.

Last week, I did something stupid on Thursday afternoon. We were driving to pick up Lukey from Doggy Day Care, and as we drove past a side road, we saw the Enzo’s van coming out from what must be the owner’s ranch. Wayne wanted to see if she took the same way to Enzo’s as we were going, so I was stupidly watching through the rear view mirror to see if she turned off where we did. She did not, but watching in the jiggling mirror for so long made me dizzy, so much so that I got nauseous. Usually, I am smart enough not to do anything that messes with my eyesight, because it always makes me sick. I have the same problem with having my eyes dilated for my eye test. I just have to go home and go to bed. As a consequence, I wasn’t feeling any better when I got home, so I called in sick for my art class.

I did get one thing done this week, though, and that was my book. First draft complete, and now I am editing it. I am hampered in finishing it by not being able to go to historical societies and the library to try to research a few details about the history of this area. I have questions like, was there a motel in the local area in 1981. Things like that which I have been unable to research online. I would also like to try to find someone knowledgeable in the historic Klickitat tribe. But I can’t really do any of that with the county closed up.

This week, we have had several hot days, but it is supposed to get cooler for the next few days and then hotter again. So, we still haven’t had very much hot weather. Our spring was extremely mild and so has been the beginning of summer.

I have picked a few very small tomatoes and lots of snow peas. Lately, I have harvested a handful of regular peas, but don’t have enough yet to have peas for dinner. It turns out that Luke really likes snow peas, and he comes and begs them from me every time I am out picking. Those are my successes, although I so far have only had one tomato of any size coming in, and it is still green. My cabbages, however, are all eaten up with holes, and only one feels dense. One was in such bad shape the I already pulled it up and threw it on the compost heap.

That’s about it for this week and no pictures either. Hope everyone is well.

 

Lots of exercise

Our stats for the county continue to go up at an alarming rate. As of this week, we have 1272 known cases of the virus, which is up more than 250 since last week. To think that before we opened up more, we were steady at about 50 new cases a week for a whole month. We had also been steady at deaths, but this week we have four more, for a total of 33. 18,032 people have been tested, and the new statistic for rate of new cases per 100,000 population is up to a 55.1, twice as high as last week. Of course, it’s a very small percentage of the population, but still it is rising, and we don’t really know how many people have the virus without symptoms.

There is another table for our county that is interesting, showing that now by far the most cases are for those 50 and under, with the numbers being fairly evenly spread out in the decades from 20 to 50. I still run into people who think that the virus is less likely for younger people. The older people are obviously being more careful, because there are only about 200 cases in people 60 and older.

This week, I got lots of opportunity for exercise, although some of it didn’t work out the way I wanted. On Wednesday, Maja chose Lacamas Lake Regional Park for our hiking outing, and she brought along her de facto family, although most of the time they were back behind us somewhere, and of course Maja and I walked apart from each other. Again, I found it irritating to hike in a more populated park, because I had to keep lowering and raising my mask. I think I’m getting spoiled because our family has found so many places to hike where no one is there. Thanks, SIL Nancy for finding most of them!

That park has a particularly rough section in the first third of a loop around the park. I don’t know what happened, because I have hiked it several times with no problem, but I was leading with Luke, and when we finished that section, I suddenly had the sensation of complete exhaustion. Maja and I looked at the map, and it was by far closer to walk back the way we had come, but I didn’t think I could face the roughness, and we’d be going uphill almost all the way. The other direction was twice as long but relatively easy; however, I knew there was a very long, steady upward trend to part of that walk. We finally decided to leave the park and walk the city streets back to our cars, figuring that would be easier although longer, and it was, except when we got partway up a really big hill. Finally, Maja went and got my car for me while I sat on some logs and waited for her. It was a few days later that I figured out I was probably low on blood sugar, but I didn’t think of eating the bar I had in my pack. That’s kind of funny because when Maja had a spell in that very same park, I gave her one of my bars, but I didn’t think of it for myself. Also, as it started out a cold morning, I was wearing a long sleeved shirt that wasn’t my lightest, and after walking a while, I got very hot. I really can’t handle heat very well. This park seems to be our nemesis.

My brother John and SIL Lucie came in to camp on my niece’s lawn for the weekend, and one of the things they like to do is hike. I had asked about a hike when visiting on Friday night, but no one was making a decision, and after a while, I went home. Luke and I walked over there on Saturday morning, and after I had been there about ten minutes, Søren said, “Are we going soon?” and Sue said, “We’ll leave in five minutes.” I said, “Are you going somewhere?” and that’s when I learned they were going to hike on Dunegan Mountain, a hike I enjoyed recently with Sue and Søren. So, Luke and I had to hustle home to get our stuff ready to go, and we met them there. In this case, I was hiking with John, Lucie, Sue, and Søren, because Mischa and her parents were home. Mischa was testing via Zoom for her black belt! And of course, she earned her belt. She now has three new snazzy uniforms that I didn’t get to see, but she showed me her belt. Gosh, a black belt at 12. I asked her if she wanted to go for another black belt (her instructor has 9), but she said she wanted to go into the leadership area instead, which means helping Master Oh teach classes, do demos, and so on.

So, back to the hike. Again, I was a little tired, so when we got to the place where there is a slightly more challenging (but not much) route to the top, I opted to walk around to the quarry. They liked it so much up there that they stayed a long time, and I started to worry that either Luke would hurl himself off the edge of the quarry (he was trying to) or get too hot, because he has a lot of fur and usually sticks to the shade which there was none of in the quarry, so the two of us started back expecting they would catch up to us. But they didn’t, so we went home. I think maybe my problem is having gained a bit of weight during the virus and also not being able to find anyone who wants to hike many of the weeks during the last few months, so I am sometimes getting very little exercise comparing to what I was getting.

Sue at the Lewis River inlet to Yale Lake

Then on Sunday there was a similar hiking situation. I was home working on John’s manuscript, figuring I would stroll over there sometime later, when I got a call from Ares. They were all on their way out to hike the Yale Lake IP Logging Road, and they suddenly wondered if anyone had told me. So, again, I had to hustle around and get all my stuff together and load Luke into the car. This time, I forgot to give Luke his lunch first, so that was really bad of me, but I found some dog biscuits in the car when I stopped driving and put them in my pack for him. We had such a good time on this one. It wasn’t so much a hike as a playtime, because we went down to both the beaches we had discovered before, one on an inlet of the Lewis River, and one on Yale Lake. On one you can clamber around on the rocks (except me, who doesn’t do clambering), and on the other is a sandy beach with shallow water for wading. It was just beautiful there, and we only saw two groups of other people, one on their way out as we went in and another on kayaks who came across the lake from Beaver Bay Park and stopped briefly to play on the beach where we were.

On the rocks at the very back are John and Lucie and in front, Ares and Mischa. Katrina must be around on the other side of the rock on the right.

In this case, it was easy to keep up with everyone, although Luke and I left to go home just a bit before the others because neither of us had eaten since breakfast (except the dog biscuits and an apple I had in my pack). We stayed there all afternoon, though, we were having so much fun.

As you can imagine, a lot of the three days they were here was taken up visiting with the family. We told lots of funny stories around the new fire pit in the evenings. The kids were fascinated by our stories of an old friend of John’s, Howard, a really daring kid who always got into trouble, and they kept saying “more stories about Howard.” Unfortunately, he died youngish in an incident on Saginaw Bay where some duck hunters’ boat capsized. It seems as if we were making a sort of memorial to Howard, because Mischa said later that they had decided to refer to any reckless behavior as “a Howard.” I think I might write about this sometime to his sister, who is my childhood friend.

My art school opened back up. I couldn’t decide whether to go back or not, so I wrote an email to my instructor. She told me I should go take a look and if I wanted to go back home, that would be fine. She said they had installed new air filters in the building and were keeping the doors opened, that the classes were cut down to a maximum of eight and she only had five in her class on Monday, that the seats were spaced out at six feet, masks were required, and so on. When I got there, I also found that hand sanitizer was required every time you entered the building, that they had spaced the classes out so that people weren’t sitting around in their small lobby, that the teachers went and got things for you that you previously fetched yourself, and she had a pointer so she didn’t have to go right up to your painting. Also, she completely wiped down the classroom surfaces between each class. And, of course, you’re facing your own painting the whole time you’re there, almost. I chose a different seat, because the one I used to sit at was right by the door, and people had to squeeze past me to get in and out. Instead, I sat where no one had to go right behind me. I felt it was fairly safe. I was only exposed to eight people (seven classmates and the instructor), and they were all wearing masks and staying away from each other. It felt safer than, say, going to the grocery store. I would have been glad to find only five people in the class instead of seven, though. Actually, I would have been really glad if two preteen girls had stayed home, but then I always feel like that about those two.

Luke continues his Thursdays at Doggy Day Care where there is no contact between humans dropping them off or picking them up, and I haven’t run into that witch again.

Funny news about government efficiency! Wayne and I sent our expired passports in on March 11, when I figure they had about a month to process them before everything closed down. However, I was a little worried about them, because Wayne didn’t even use return receipt mail when he sent them. Then, of course, we heard nothing. Eventually, I found a Where’s My Passport type page and was able to get the exciting update “In Process,” which they said was the only update they could provide during the virus. At least that meant they had our passports.

Then last week, I finally got an email update, and up to yesterday morning, I have had three. They are, as follows, IN ORDER:

    1. Your passport is in progress (big surprise)
    2. Your passport has been mailed and will arrive on or around July 19 (received Monday—Yay!)
    3. Your passport is being printed (received Tuesday—Huh?)

So, our passports are either in the mail or being printed. Who knows which? At least we will have some should we ever have the opportunity to travel again.

Ew, gross! Next to our front stoop was a little mouse hole that Wayne said Luke was fascinated by. Last night as we were going in, he put his nose down that hole and when I looked at him, he had a little tail sticking out of his mouth. I forced his mouth open and the mouse fell out, but it was dying. When Wayne went out to get it, it was dead. It was only about an inch-and-half long. Poor little thing. A little later, he got another one, which I think was a baby. Wayne went out, filled the hole with dirt, and put a rock on top of it. This morning, first thing, what did Luke do but catch another one, the other parent, I think. That was when I figured out that they weren’t small mice but moles. I was able to get this one out of Luke’s mouth without too much damage, so I picked it up in a paper towel and took it out to the orchard and let it go. It was probably trying to figure out how to get back into its den. It’s a shame about the mole family, but we already had one in the house a couple of weeks ago (or a mouse, I never saw it), and I don’t want Lukey picking up small animals in the yard.

An eye-opener

Our coronavirus statistics continue to go up at a dismal rate. We have now had 1053 cases, up more than 200 from last week. The number of deaths remains steady at 29, and 16,642 people have been tested. The rate of new cases per 100,000 population is up to a whopping 48.9. Last week, if you’ll remember, it was 15.4, but that number seemed suspicious, because it went down from the week before and the number of cases was up. Our zip code map continues to have the same mistake of showing us in the 80-120 color but having no data in the table, which indicates less than 10, so I don’t know how many cases we have up here.

Last week, we ventured out for our yearly eye exams. Well, Wayne actually hadn’t been examined for two years. The appointment part of that was interesting, because when I made the exam back in April, I assumed we would have to go to the Main Street branch instead of our usual Salmon Creek, which was closed. Salmon Creek is about 10 or 15 minutes closer to us. However, the person making the appointment told me that the Salmon Creek branch would be open with one doctor in July, which was the soonest she could get us in, anyway.

Last week when I got my appointment reminder, I just happened to notice it said Main Street. Usually, I don’t look at those that closely. I called them up to verify, and they said that the Salmon Creek branch was still closed. So, I chided them for moving our appointment without calling us. I said we might not have noticed the change and gone to the wrong place. As it turned out, they had to cram us both into one appointment, apparently because they didn’t have room for both of us. They explained to us that the Salmon Creek office is their smallest and they haven’t been able to figure out how to adjust it for distancing. In my opinion, having seen both, I thought that Main Street, which is an old office, has more problems, because it has lots of long, narrow hallways, and several times we had to walk past people. Of course, everyone was wearing masks. Salmon Creek seems to be laid out better.

My sight has changed slightly, but Wayne is showing signs of possible early glaucoma, so he has to go back in November to have his optic nerves checked. It’s interesting to me that our ophthalmologist in Austin did that as a routine part of our exams, every year, but here he has to have a special appointment for it. In fact, they gave us a lot more tests in Austin as a regular part of our exams.

Here’s my Day of the Dead kitty clock, showing 2:00 by the bones.

When we came back from our eye appointments, we ended up taking I-5 back and got the idea to stop at Pacific Northwest Best Fish Company to pick up some lunch. This is an interesting place out in the middle of nowhere that has a fresh fish market on one side, and a little walk-up window on the other where you can order fish meals. Very good fish and chips and my favorite, fried scallops, as well as some other dishes. Fish tacos, that kind of thing. They have some picnic tables to eat at, which of course you can’t do right now, or maybe you can, since restaurants are opening up. Unfortunately, they were closed for remodeling. So, Wayne said we were close to one of our favorite restaurants, Fuel Bistro, and we could go there for some take-out. We did that, and the wait person suggested we go around the corner to a gift shop while we were waiting, and she would come get us. There Wayne purchased my newest acquisition for an early birthday present. A Day of the Dead cat clock. And here it is. I love it.

On Monday, we went in to Costco during the geezer hours to get our glasses, and Wayne was amazed because our three pairs cost about $200. We were used to paying about $500 apiece for glasses in Austin. Of course, I always picked out fancy dan frames, which I don’t feel like I should do now that we’re retired. We were the first people in Optical, which was nice.

On Friday, Maja and I went hiking in Moulton Falls Park. I was wearing a bandana so that I could put it back down when people weren’t around, but there were too many people, so it got aggravating to be putting it up and down and up and down. I think the next time I hike in a park with a lot of people, I’m just going to wear a regular mask and keep it on. We only saw two other people with masks in the park, and there were a couple of people who persisted in walking in the middle of the path. I guess we should have known better than to pick Moulton on the official July 4th day off.

On Sunday, we were supposed to go to Christine’s so she could cut Wayne’s hair, which is looking awful. He had suggested this outing, and she turned it into a lunch date. Then Sunday morning, Wayne pulled his usual, “I don’t feel good,” routine that he uses to get out of anything he doesn’t want to do. Luke and I went alone. I think Christine was a bit offended. She said, “Wasn’t this his idea?” and I told her yes and said this was what he said to get out of things. She said her husband was the same way and congratulated me for being truthful. She said that for years she just made excuses for Peter. However, she also said she wouldn’t now cut Wayne’s hair. She had made a nice lunch for us, and I had made pineapple upside down cake, and we had a good time, as always.

On Monday, Wayne and I ran errands, including picking up my new iPad from Walmart. My old one is so old that it can hardly do anything anymore. It stopped remembering passwords some time ago, but now its on/off button doesn’t work anymore, so I can’t back it up. It also has started asking me for my Apple ID, several times per session. I don’t really use it much anymore except for reading ebooks, but I have seven collected works that I bought from Delphi Classics that I still want to be able to read. Luckily, I was able to get them over with no problem, although I did get a message telling me it was unable to move over some items that were bought using another ID, the one for my old workplace that I’ve long forgotten the password for. I don’t understand, though, what the password I bought them with has to do with it. If I purchased them, and they are on my iPad, they should move over. In fact, I didn’t notice anything not moving over that I wanted.

And that brings up another confusing topic, my email. I had long kept my gmail email account on the iPad, but when it began doing everything very slowly, I logged into the gmail account from my computer. I kept that account, which is my junk account that I register for everything with, up on the computer, but I had noticed that it wasn’t syncing with the iPad, so that the iPad showed I had thousands of unread messages. All those messages came over to the new iPad, and I had a fun several hours deleting them all. I finally did a Select All and thought I had managed to unselect all the messages I wanted to keep, particularly a whole bunch of messages I had forwarded over from my work computer four years ago and hadn’t dealt with yet, but I see they are gone. I think, though, that I also have them on my sbcglobal.net mail account. What I don’t understand is that just over the weekend, I got probably twenty or thirty messages that never showed up in the same account on my computer. I know the computer interface has a spam filter, but when I look at what’s in the spam folder, it’s not those messages. In fact, what’s in the spam folder is mostly not spam. So most of the almost 2000 messages that I had to delete were ones that I never saw on my computer. I don’t understand why I wouldn’t have been seeing the same things both places.

My pink dahlia with one white blossom. I swear this is only one plant.

On the gardening front, aside from picking and eating a teeny tiny tomato that was ripe at about 1/4 of the size it was supposed to be and also picking a whopping snow pea crop, I have a very odd thing. My pink dahlia, which was all pink flowers, has sprouted a white one! I never heard of anything like that before, but here’s the proof!

 

 

 

 

 

A bit more exercise

This week our county shows a total of 843 case of the virus, up a shocking 140 cases since last week. That’s the biggest rise we’ve had, I think, during the entire time. We’re still sitting at 29 deaths, and 14,996 people have been tested. Our rate of new cases per 100,000 population number has gone down, 15.4, which makes me wonder how that number can be correct, since our new cases went up this week from about 50 a week to almost 150. The map showing our zip code seems to now be incorrect, because the color for our zip code has changed to show 80-120 cases (whereas last week we supposedly had less than 10), but the chart corresponding to the map still shows N/A for our numbers, implying they are less than 10. Very confusing.

Our weather was really nice for the last 10 days until yesterday, when it got a little misty, and today when it is downright rainy. We got a lot of yard work done, and our yard, for a few minutes anyway, looks pretty good. Yesterday, we were gathering limbs and sticks from our lower drive. I usually do this every spring, but this year, I just sort of shoved the limbs off to the side. Wayne wanted to pick all these up and put them in the burn pile, because they are fire hazards.

Last week was one for reviving our hikes. Maja and I did a socially distanced hike up at the Yale Lake logging road on Thursday. Unfortunately, because it was Luke’s Doggy Day Care day, he could not come. And speaking of which, I had an unpleasant encounter while dropping Luke off. The way they have it set up now, one person at a time, you ring the doorbell at Enzo’s and then walk into an empty room and put your dog in a crate. Then you walk back outside and ring the doorbell again, and someone comes through an inside door and gets your dog. They have this explained in detail on the outside of the door.

As I was going into the room, this woman came up right behind me and said “Thanks.” I thought that was odd, and I shut the door behind me, as I’m supposed to. Now, Luke has been with me almost all the time for the past three months, and he doesn’t want to go into the crate because he knows I will be leaving him. He was okay before, when I handed him off to a person, because he really likes it there, but he would always kind of look back at me like he wasn’t so sure he wanted me to go. So, I was having difficulty putting him into the crate when this woman walked right into the room. I told her she wasn’t supposed to come in there. She said, “They told me to come to this door.” I said, “You need to wait until I’m finished.” All the time, I’m struggling to get the crate door shut with the dog inside it and the leash outside it. She says, “But I’m supposed to come in here.” I said, “Wait until I’m done. No contact!” She says, “Between the dogs?” I said, “Between the people!” The whole time she was standing not too far away from me and I didn’t have my mask because I don’t usually encounter anyone there.

So, she went outside, and then she came right back in and opened up the inside door! The girl who was waiting at the door for me to ring the bell again told her to go back out. I finally had to pass Luke off to that girl, because I couldn’t get him to stay in the crate. (I might have been able to if it hadn’t been for the interruptions of that woman.)

When I got back outside, the woman was waiting, and I said, “I’m sorry I was grumpy, but I was having trouble with my dog,” and then I started to explain to her what she needed to do, as she still obviously had not read the door and was probably going to stand there in front of it all day. She said, “I’m not going to talk to you. You’re rude,” and then she proceeded to berate me the entire time I was walking away from her down the sidewalk.

At least Maja and I had a nice hike on a lovely day. It started out cool and warmed up, with quite a breeze off the lake. I keep thinking that would be a great hike for the fall, because you are walking with a steep cliff on one side with trees above you and the lake on the other, far below. There are lots of deciduous trees around, so it would probably be colorful.

Then on Friday, Christine and I took our dogs to Whipple Creek Park. We had been talking about going, because she had never been there and was curious. Apparently, her daughter walks there quite often. I was surprised by how many cars were there when we arrived. I have been there many times, and usually there are only a couple of horse vans and a few cars. This day, the parking lot was completely full, and we had difficulty finding places to park. However, the park is so big that we didn’t meet many people, two family groups and a couple of couples. A couple dog walkers. We saw several horses being loaded back into their trailers when we arrived and one horse was out being ridden when we got back to our cars, but we didn’t see any horses in the park. It is a beautiful park, so wooded and hilly that you wouldn’t know you were right next to a suburban area.

Luke had an eventful week, because Wednesday he also had his first appointment with his groomers since the state shut down. He was due to have one the week everything closed, so he was in bad shape. At the groomers, they just have the Dutch door locked, so you have to wait until they come and open it. Then you can come in. He looked quite handsome when he was done.

My first batch of peas

For my vegetable gardening, I was able to harvest my first batch of peas. They are supposed to be snap peas, but they don’t seem to be developing their inner peas, so they look like snow peas. They taste like them, too, so we’re good. I like both. Maybe since my radishes were mislabeled, my peas were, too.

Here are my yellow dahlias, back in bloom.

As for my raised decorative beds, I still am waiting for some flowers to bloom besides the ones that I planted already with flowers. The first blooms on my dahlias are all gone, but more are coming out, which cannot be said for my carpet roses. Otherwise, I have a lot of green in the beds, so it’s looking good for having more flowers soon.

Today, Luke and I were supposed to go hiking with Maja, but she rescheduled because of rain, so we will go on Friday. It actually looks like it’s going to clear up, even though my phone says it is supposed to rain all day. But we’ve gone hiking in pouring rain before and today it’s just been drizzling. Oh well.

 

Surprise radishes

This week our county’s total number of cases is up another 50 to 703. That means that in the last month, we’ve added 200 or more cases, as the number has been up around 50 every week. Since we had gotten to the point where we were only going up 10 or 20 a week for a while, this is disturbing. We have now had 29 deaths, so that’s one more since last week, which is too bad, because we sat at 28 for about a month. Now 12,503 people have been tested. The county has added a new statistic, the rate of new cases per 100,000 in population, and that number is 16.6. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to that number. Our zip code continues to have less than 10 cases, but that’s not as good news as it sounds, because we have to go into Battle Ground for most of our errands, and it is a hot spot where, moreover, most people aren’t taking precautions.

Just as the end of last week was mostly rainy, it has been mostly sunny since Friday, except for Saturday. We went right from days when we kept our fire going to days when we had to turn on the air-conditioning (only twice so far, though). We have done lots of yard work, particularly weed whacking. We now have the wolf pen cut and the rest of the slope beneath the house except for some grass way over on the edge of the property that I know Wayne wants to cut but I don’t think is important. Wayne took the riding mower down to try to cut more of the fence line and got it stuck in a ditch, so I went down with him to help get it out but ended up only watching for traffic. We got it out easily with the car. Then I took a weed whacker down there and did all of the curve that Wayne didn’t get to last week as well as the front of the house that I had started but stopped when my battery ran out. I actually ran a cord all the way down there and hit it with my new weed whacker instead of the battery-driven one.

Here’s a handful of radishes that I pulled out by accident. I didn’t even plant radishes, at least not according to my seed packets. The seed company must have made a mistake.

One other thing I did was begin to pull out my salad greens, which have gone too far and gotten too wild. And that’s when I made a discovery. Although I did not plant radishes, at least not according to the seed packets I bought, one of the packets must have been radishes, because I have radishes. All the seeds in the back are radishes and the ones in the front are mixed salad greens. I pulled a bunch out before I realized and left the rest in. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be very good radishes. I ate one that looked most like radish size, and it was woody on the outside and just a mush of liquid on the inside. Too much rain in the late spring, perhaps? We had all our March and April rain in May and June this year.

Some of the salmon berries that are growing in our little patch of woods next to the orchard

And speaking of growing things, this spring I may have mentioned some plants in a wild area we have that is between the orchard and the house that had red or bright pink flowers. I had never noticed them before, but I noticed them in early spring. I was wondering what they were, and it turns out they are salmon berries, because now we have some unripe berries on those plants. I am now wondering if my husband ate a ripe salmon berry rather than an unripe blackberry last fall when he thought he poisoned himself (for the second time—I wish he’d stop eating berries).  That happened last July, and the timing might have been better for ripe salmon berries than unripe blackberries, although maybe not if we already have them unripe now. I know they don’t taste that good when they are ripe, and he seemed doubtful that he had eaten a blackberry.

On Wednesday I was walking down the road with Luke and when we got to the spot next to where the creek runs under the road and into our pond, I could see clear into the pond, and there was a mama duck and five ducklings paddling around. Since then, I got several glimpses of them one day when Wayne and I were sitting on the bench next to the pond and even some glimpses from the kitchen window. The geese and goslings seems to have moved on, but we still have the ducks and for once their babies have survived to this point.

On Friday, my brother John and SIL Lucie got sick of being by themselves and drove over from Seaside for a visit at my niece Katrina’s house. I was invited over, so around noon, I walked over with Luke. Katrina had told me they were all bringing their own food, so instead I ate lunch first and brought some fizzy water to drink. We all sat far apart from each other on their large patio, and eventually, Katrina went in to make lunch for the kids, and John and Lucie pulled out some carrots and chicken salad from their cooler. We all had a nice time. After a while, though, I had to go home to use the bathroom and ditch Luke. I refilled my water and went back. It was a little strange, especially at dinner time, because Katrina started cooking kebabs, while John and Lucie had some salad to eat. John kept making comments about taking out his peanuts now. It was obvious the kebabs were making him hungry. They certainly made me hungry, so I went home and made dinner for me and Wayne. This made me think about how I would handle guests coming over for a socially distanced visit, and I thought I probably would have ordered pizzas for everyone. They say cooked food shouldn’t be a problem. Both Katrina and Lucie are concerned about eating healthy, but I don’t think a pizza would kill anyone on occasion. (Actually, I know that Katrina and her family eat them occasionally.) The main thing was how nice it was to see everyone, especially John and Lucie. He had been lamenting that he moved out here to be near us, and then the virus arrived, and he and Lucie have been on their own. They are planning to come back with their tent and camping gear and camp on Katrina’s lawn sometime. Katrina has installed an outhouse for just such an occasion.

The only other unusual event this week was that I went to the dentist. I have had an increasingly irritating pain that felt like it was under my teeth. My teeth there are crowns, so I was worried about an abscess. The pain wasn’t horrible yet, but it had gotten worse over the last few months, and sometimes when I opened my mouth, my jaw hurt. I don’t usually even try to diagnose myself and I certainly don’t assume the worse (like Wayne always does), but for some reason, maybe because it’s pandemic days, I was worried about an abscess or even jaw cancer and had visions of Roger Ebert’s mouth. Luckily, it turned out that I am probably grinding my teeth at night, and the dentist immediately spotted one tooth that was worn down. It was one of the crowns, which he said was not meshing correctly with the tooth above, so he simply filed it down until the bites matched. It feels a lot better now. Crisis averted!

 

 

 

 

Opening up a bit

This week our county shows 647 total cases of the virus, up almost another 50 from last week. It occurs to me that this might be because of more testing, now about 1000 more tests a week, but it also might be because people around here are just basically ignoring it. We have gone to level 2, which I only know because our dog groomer called us, but although I think it’s silly that the dog groomer couldn’t open up earlier, because I never see other humans in there and it would be really easy to do the social distancing, I think it’s not good timing to open back up generally. Anyway, back to my statistics, we now have had 28 deaths, which is the same as last week so that’s good, and 13,788 people have been tested.

We have basically continued to do our usual things, ordering groceries online and picking them up, staying home most of the time, only visiting Christine and Duchess and Katrina’s family but with social distancing, and wearing masks and gloves when we have to shop anywhere. I had been wearing some paper masks that Wayne had for doing shop work, but now I have some cloth ones. They are fancier, but for some reason they keep popping off my ears, a problem I didn’t have with the paper ones. I think the maker thought she was doing a good thing by using sturdier elastic, but it doesn’t stretch as well. If a person had ears any further apart than mine, they wouldn’t be able to wear these masks at all.

I know that opening up is being done as one size fits all, but in some cases it is ridiculous. For example, my groomer has to cut her work load in half, but as I said before, I never encountered anyone else in her shop anyway, and it would be easy to regulate that. You see someone inside, you stay out. She also has to work at half staff, which makes a little more sense because their grooming area is small.

Similarly, my friend Claire said that she has been called back to work at the museum. Now, she works in a museum warehouse where the exhibits that aren’t on display are stored and analyzed. It is humongous. About ten years back, we went to visit them and they toured us through it, and it was absolutely fascinating. Exhibits were everywhere, on the floors of the hallways even, bones, native artifacts, rocks, just everything you might think of being in a state museum. About five years ago, the governor of Illinois tried to close all the museums and succeeded to the extent of getting most of the employees dismissed. Claire says they have to go back to work at 50%, and she reckons that they will each have about 17,000 square feet of space, so the 50% thing just is silly for them. Even with all the employees back, they would have 6500 square feet of space for each person because since the layoffs only 12 people work there. Also, because her husband is retired, he cannot go in to use their lab facilities anymore because no visitors are allowed, and he still does lots of faunal analysis for different organizations, including them.

On Saturday we had a memorial service for Wayne’s brother Carl by Zoom. It had been planned by his brother Ken and wife Sandra and the technical details were handled by their daughter Sierra. It had a few technical glitches, in particular, when one person spoke some kind of feedback made it hard to understand her (that was probably caused by the environment around her, though), but it was really nice and touching. They had made a program of people who wanted to talk about Carl, and Wayne had prepared something, but he apparently hadn’t told Ken and Sandra he wanted to speak. As it was, he hardly opened his mouth. I always thought Carl was awfully nice, but the service made me wish I had known him when he was younger, because he was quite the character and sounded like he was lots of fun when he was young. Wayne wasn’t a part of most of the stories because apparently when lots of the hijinks were going on back in Michigan, Wayne was in the air force. It was things Carl was doing with his friends and his youngest brother Ken, like blowing things up and running a hot air balloon business (small ones with lights in them that they sent up into the air and apparently sparked reports of UFOs). Carl was certainly scarily intelligent and had all kinds of things to say about just about everything, an interesting talker. I only was around him a handful of times, unfortunately, because we lived so far away, and certainly since we moved out here, Wayne has shown no disposition to travel at all. (He doesn’t even like to go to the beach, two hours away.) I know that Wayne is going to miss his long phone calls with him. I think they got closer while he has been sick this spring, because Wayne called him almost every day.

Another much more minor death around here was of a baby bunny. It made me so sad to find a drowned baby bunny in what is supposed to be our fountain. We haven’t run our fountain since we moved here because it needs to be drained and refilled with clean water, or the engine will be ruined when we turn it on. It was just on once, showing us that it at least works. There is a pit at the bottom about a foot deep and maybe two feet square that feeds a waterfall in a circular, closed system, and it’s that pit that has to be emptied. Wayne has been procrastinating emptying it, including buying one new pump, losing that one, buying another one, and then deciding it wasn’t powerful enough to do the job. It’s been four years now that we’ve planned to empty it during the summer. Anyway, it looks like the bunny must have been playing on the ridge above it and fell in, and either it hit its head on the way in or just wasn’t able to get back out and drowned. I wish we had seen it fall, because we probably could have saved it, but the first we knew of it was when I was outside playing with Luke and he went over to the fountain and just stood there, and it was already dead. Luckily, the bunny was on the far side so Luke couldn’t get it out, because of course it took Wayne a couple of days to remove it. Poor little thing. As far as I know, this is the first death caused by the open pit, but I’m wondering if we should put a grate over it or a screen. We usually have frogs in it, though, and that would keep them out. We see rabbits running around our property chasing each other all the time, but this is the first time I’ve seen such a small one except once on the road when we were afraid one was too silly to get out of the way. It didn’t move until we were right next to it.

Speaking of wildlife, just yesterday I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a deer right below the house, grazing in the grass we haven’t yet cut on the slope. He was a young buck, with little one-inch nubs on top of his head. He seemed to be alone, but we wouldn’t have been able to see another deer that was closer to the house. The young does tend to go around in pairs, but I don’t know whether he was old enough to be normally out on his own or not. Maybe he has lost his sibling (or maybe his sibling was right there, and we just couldn’t see her). While he was back there, we also noticed three rabbits chasing each other around the wolf pen, which at this point has grass about three or four feet high.

Because I haven’t been able to take Luke out much this last two weeks, we decided to put him into doggy day care one day a week so that he could have some fun running around. His first day was last Thursday, and he certainly was pooped on Thursday night. It was also really nice to have a whole day in which I didn’t have to think about taking him out and feeding him and most of all, paying attention to him. I got a lot of work done on my novel and the laundry. I’ve been working on the same two stories, one set during World War I and the very last one, which is the earliest in time. I know where they’re going, but I’m finding them harder to write than some of the others. Those will be the last two, then I’ll do some polishing and try to find an agent or a publisher. I have a local publisher in mind that doesn’t work through agents but also appears not to do much publicity, so I might try an agent first, because I am horrible at self-promotion.

On Sunday, I took Luke for his first walk in two weeks down the road. We popped up Katrina and co’s driveway to see if anyone was outside, but only Søren was. I wanted to consult someone about our anonymous note about our fence line, so I walked around the house to my sister Sue’s side, and she was outside sweeping her patio. I started to tell her about the message and was surprised by how she acted. First, it was almost like she knew all about it, even though I don’t think she did, and then she seemed to get impatient with me and almost angry about it. It turns out that the sharp angle on the main road by our pond has been a bone of contention because it gets overgrown and causes a visibility problem on our one-lane road. But we don’t drive down that way very often, and especially not since the virus, as I’m not driving down to pick up Maja for hiking or Mischa for taekwondo, or anything like that. Yes, I do walk down that way, but when you’re walking, you’re not thinking about the visibility from cars, and you see differently. I had no idea about this issue, because no one ever told us. When I said something about that, Sue almost yelled at me, “But you just walked right past it!” It also turns out that both Sue and Ares had been trimming it occasionally and had been talking about doing it again as soon as it stopped raining and dried out a bit (it had rained almost nonstop for a week by then).

Maybe we’re just stupid, but I don’t know how we’re supposed to know this stuff if no one tells us, so it doesn’t seem fair for her to get irritated with us about it. She also got upset when I expressed our reaction to the anonymous note and she said it was what she would have done. We didn’t exactly have an argument, but maybe I hurt her feelings when I said it was passive aggressive and the rudest way to inform a neighbor that there was a problem (that was before she said it was what she would have done). Then Katrina, Ares, and Mischa came out of the house, and I said something to them about it. They were much nicer about the whole thing, and Katrina said if it had been her, she would have explained exactly what the problem was and signed it. I said, “Exactly,” because how can we ask them questions if we get an anonymous note?

So, now we knew the problem patch, and Wayne went right down that afternoon, because it was miraculously a little nice out, and whacked it down. I took out my new weed whacker that Wayne bought me (such a touching present) and whacked down the weeds along the front of the house. Everything has just shot up because of an unprecedented combination of lots of rain alternating with several days of sunshine and then back to rain. Starting Tuesday afternoon, we are finally back into the sunshine phase, so more mowing and weed whacking is on the agenda, because we still haven’t finished the back slope and now the wolf pen is deep in grass.

My vegetable garden also went crazy. There is little sign of pea pods, but my salad greens have gotten so huge, that I think they are probably in the bitter stage and there’s nothing to do but to pull them out. I planted way too many this year. The first year, I put my seeds in seed by seed, using up about a quarter of a packet, and I got about enough for one salad, only at different times so that I just added them to regular lettuce salads. Then the next year I tried head lettuce, but it never made heads. So, this year I planted two whole packets of salad greens, which turns out to be way more salad greens than two people can keep up with. Next year, I will do one, and that will be about right. I guess I am gardening by trial and error.

Here’s my bright pink dahlia, which for some reason likes to face toward the blue spruce.

For my pictures today, I bring you the progress in my raised beds. First is a picture of a dahlia. I bought it as a plant, but it had not bloomed before. It bloomed this week into a lovely bright pink. I know you’re supposed to take dahlias out in the winter and replant them in the spring, which is why I’ve always avoided them, but I only have two, so maybe that won’t be so hard to remember to do. My other dahlia bloomed yellow already, and that bloom has died. Now it is working on another one.

Here are my peonies coming up.

My other pictures are of sprouts coming up. The first one is of my peony sprouts, which are coming up from their rhizomes. I have three different plantings of them, one in each of the beds. They are pretty tall, but I don’t know how long before they’ll bloom. I know I planted everything a little late this spring.

These are mixed flowers. I should have kept the packet or at least read it more carefully, because I have no idea what they are.

Finally, the plant people sent me a free packet of mixed flower seeds, and although I didn’t pay a lot of attention to where I planted them (I’ll do better next spring!), I am pretty sure these are them, because the only other seeds I planted were different types of poppies, and those ones are coming up very very slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

A sad event

This week in Clark County we have a total of 605 cases of the virus, so an increase again of almost 50 people for nearly 100 more people in two weeks. And three more people have died, for a total of 28. We had such a slowing of these numbers for several weeks before last week that it’s depressing to have them go up by so much. Only 12,577 people have been tested.

By the way, I think I forgot to mention last week that it turns out my friend Claire in Springfield does not have the virus. Yay for that, although she still has no idea what’s causing her recurring fever. After trying several times, she finally got tested, and the result was negative.

It’s been a sad week for us here, because Monday we learned that Wayne’s older brother, Carl, had died. I think I mentioned earlier that he had been having some health problems. He went in some time ago to have a mass removed from his colon and had a heart attack. They put in a stent and then tried to send him home, and he had another heart attack. I think they thought they had it finally taken care of, because after a long rest, they had him back in to finally get rid of the mass. They removed it, but he had a heart attack and died in recovery. He was 83.

They are a strange family, because it appears that Wayne has no interest in trying to make it to Michigan for the funeral. In fact, he said to me they weren’t having a funeral, just burying Carl. Huh? I thought that was a funeral. I asked him if anyone else in the family was going, and he said maybe his brother Ken. I think that’s just sad. His sister Yvonne died a few years ago in Oregon when we were still in Texas, and we waited to hear about a service, and we never did. I kept asking Wayne about it, and he would just say he hadn’t heard anything. Now, he says he could have found out about it if he wanted to. No wonder we never hear from Yvonne’s husband!

Over the years, I’ve tried to figure out how to get to several of my own family funerals with no cooperation from Wayne. Each time, a plane ticket turned out to be too expensive, so I just gave up and didn’t go, whereas if he’d been willing to drive up with me, I could have attended. I think he has a weird attitude about attending funerals, and it’s hard to tell whether anyone else in his family shares it, or it’s just him. At least he went to his parents’ funerals.

After our anonymous message last week, we got a confusing message from SIL Nancy suggesting it would be really nice if we whacked down our fence line across from our back door neighbors. I didn’t think she had sent the anonymous message because that wasn’t her style, but it freaked me out for several days that we had received notes about the same topic from two different people. Of course, our fence line isn’t any of her business. But the way she wrote the message was like she just happened to drive down that road to go look at the house that she and my brother looked at when they moved here and noticed our fence line.

We actually got into the car to look at our fence line, and what we saw was that the neighbor’s fence line on that road was actually worse than ours. In fact, they had a few tree limbs out in the road. That made me dismiss the idea that the anonymous note came from them. We also noticed that although our neighbor across the street trims his fence line, well, his kids do, they only do it in front of the house, not on the wooded sides. In fact, no one does it on the wooded sides, which is basically all of our property. Wayne went out to do a little trimming, but he came back because it started raining.

Finally, I figured out that the connection between notes was this blog. Nancy has sent me corrections to my interpretations of the virus data, so she reads this blog. Apparently after reading it, she decided to hop into her car and inspect the fence line for herself. I’m sure she thought she was being helpful. We don’t need the help that pokes its nose into our business.

My knee injury from last week has shown no signs of getting any better, so on Monday, I gave up and made a doctor’s appointment. Of course, by Tuesday, when I went in, it was feeling better. I got it x-rayed, and there’s nothing unusual wrong with it besides the swelling and bruise, oh, and I have a little arthritis. He recommended that I wrap it, and I’ve done that this morning, but it’s really bothering me now because it’s pressing on the swollen part. That supposed to help the swelling go down, but I felt better without it.

Because of the knee injury, I really haven’t been doing very much. I feel bad because Luke isn’t getting much exercise. The most I do with him is go out and throw the ball a few times, but because it’s been raining almost nonstop since last week, we don’t even do that very much. The rain is crazy. Already we were up to our ears in grass. Even though we spent three days last week weed whacking behind the house, there are huge areas that are above our waists! And now the blackberry vines are making their way across the lower drive, even though we whacked them away a week ago.  Usually we only have to mow our orchard two or three times a year, but already it looks like I’m going to have to do it again as soon as I can handle strenuous exercise.

Here’s a picture of Luke right about at his second birthday. He is looking confused because I am pointing my cell phone, which he hates, at him. You can also see what a nice job he’s done on our floors.

On Friday, my Literary Wives book club had a Zoom conference to discuss the book The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (which is going to be on my best of the year list, I’m sure). Not everyone could attend, but we hadn’t done that before (usually the book club is all online), and it was nice to talk about the book in person. On Friday also, Christine invited Luke and me over so that Luke could play with Duchess. We had a nice, socially distanced visit, and she even served lunch.

Because I haven’t been doing very much this week except reading and looking at the wood stove, I don’t have any pictures, so I thought you might like to see a recent one of Lukey.

Oh, one more thing. A breakthrough with Luke! We have a tendency to eat our dinner in front of the TV, a bad habit, I know. Because of this, we have been training Luke to go sit on place while we eat. If he does this without too much fuss, he gets a nice treat, often something from our plates. If we have too much fuss, he gets to sit in his crate for a while instead. Usually, I have to herd him over there, but a couple of times last week, as soon as I went into the kitchen to serve the dinner, he walked over and got on his place, all by himself! I didn’t even say the word. What a good boy!