My teal toenails

This might seem amazing to some of you and trivial to others, but last Friday, I had my first ever pedicure. Christine, who has them now and again, scheduled one for both of us while Luke was at the groomers. I sort of liked it, although I was worried at times about my feet, as I used to have gout attacks (never since I moved here, though). When I saw my brother John that weekend, he said he used to have them regularly and really enjoyed them, until they retired and Lucie cut them out of the budget. He didn’t have his toes painted teal, however. I liked them so much that I decided to get my fingernails done to match next time Christine does hers. I actually have about the same color polish in my cupboard, but when I do my nails, they get smeared right away and chip off within days.

It’s not too snowy at this point, but if you look closely, you can see snow on Luke’s back. Not dandruff.

Just before writing this (on Tuesday), I was out playing with Luke in the snow. We got about an inch on Sunday, and most of it melted away, but Tuesday we got about seven inches. When I wrote the draft for this post, it was only sticking on the grass. I took a picture of Luke with snow on him. Luke has this habit. We get done with our errands (today it was the dentist and Play and Train), come home, I make lunch and do the dishes. Then, just about when I’m ready to settle down with a nice cup of tea, Luke gets up from snoozing and starts ringing the bell to go out and play. So, that’s what we did.

We ended up getting about an inch of snow again, but early in the morning, it started raining, so this morning I woke up to mostly slush.

We had a couple of beautiful days this week, Monday being clear and quite cold, but mostly it has rained for days. Still, we don’t complain. We’re not in Austin. Yay!

Last week in tai chi we finished the first third, which seemed weird because we learned 17 out of 108 moves. But many of them repeat, apparently. I can’t really remember more than 6 or 7 when I try to practice at home. I already know I’ll have to take the beginner’s class over again at least once. Our instructor says that most people take at least two beginner’s courses.

Now that Wayne has missed the beginning of our class and we’re not accepting any new students, his physical therapist has said he should take tai chi. (I tried to get him to go, but he never believes I know what I’m talking about. He’ll listen to anyone but me.) So, he’s going to start a class beginning in March on Monday nights in Orchards. I told him I would skip Luke’s night class to take it with him for a month, and then we can both start over again in April, when the Battle Ground beginning class starts again. While I’m taking class with him, I’ll also take my regular class. Of course, this all depends on his not changing his mind by the time March rolls around. Right now, he still says he’ll take it.

I spent a lot of the week getting the house cleaned up in case we had visitors. That’s because Mark was having a birthday party on Sunday, and rumor had it my brother Steve and his family would be coming down from Seattle and staying with us. Not that he ever said anything to me. I had been sadly neglectful of the housework since the holidays, pretty much only doing the dishes and the laundry and sweeping the floor occasionally. So, the entire house got cleaned and the guest bed changed, and so on, but no guests. Steve and his family did indeed show up at the party on Sunday afternoon, but they went home about 7 PM. It was a nice party. Mark made delicious homemade pizzas according to a recipe we’ve had since the 60’s. Eighteen people showed up, including friends Mark has known since he went to college up at Michigan Tech, who now live up by Bellevue.

John and Lucie are having a great time in their cottage in Seaside and sent us all a beautiful picture from their walk on Monday, after they got back home. He reported that they had nearly finished the puzzle I brought them, so I gave them another one.

In art class, I continued to work on shading my piggies.

Monday, we bought a new bed, a Sleep Number bed. Gosh, they’re really expensive. When you price the mattress, it doesn’t seem too much worse than a regular high-end mattress, but then you have to buy the support for the mattress that has the electronics in it, and they keep hitting you with additional expenses (the proper mattress cover, sheets, etc.). We didn’t get everything, although we may regret not buying the sheets if ours start popping off whenever the mattress is raised. However, neither of us sleep well, so if this will help, it’ll be worth it. We looked at Tempurpedic beds a few months ago, and I personally thought the soft one was more comfortable (and they’re about half the cost, because none of the extras are needed), but the Sleep Number bed also raises up to help people with sleep apnea, which Wayne has. (Actually, I think the Tepurpedic bed does, too, so maybe we would have to buy the same extras. They just didn’t show us that feature.) We’ll get the bed in a couple of weeks and I’ll report back.

On second thought, I figured that since we got the split top mattress so that Wayne could sleep slightly elevated, our sheets would be popping off the mattress, so I looked at sheets online. I found that if I bought them from Sleep Number, they cost about $200 a set. Online I found a set of bamboo sheets for $69, 1900 thread count. We’ll see how they work out.

In the doghouse

On Monday, after dropping Luke off at Puppy Play and Train, Wayne picked me up at WW (down more than 35 pounds) and we did our grocery shopping, as usual since we decided not to make two trips dropping Luke off and picking him up. (It has also helped that I found out there was a WW in Battle Ground at the same time as his play period, so I don’t have to drive in to Vancouver once a week for it.) We decided we would like BLT’s for lunch, a treat since I started on Weight Watchers and not very WW-y. To make them a little more so, we bought turkey bacon instead of regular bacon.

That little purchase was a fiasco, because after I took the bacon out, I decided to change pans. While I was doing that, Luke leapt up and stole half the bacon. By the time we caught him, the bacon was long gone. He ended up having to spend an hour in the dog house (i. e., his crate), but I would imagine he felt it was well worth it. We had just enough bacon left to have BLT’s only one time, at which point I discovered that my tomatoes  had gone bad. So, we had bacon sandwiches. Some treat. Wayne liked it, but I missed the tomato flavor as it mixes in with the bacon.

Deb and I planned to go to see the Rhododendron gardens in Portland on Friday, but it was raining in the morning, so she decided it wasn’t a good day. Bad timing, because by afternoon we had one of the only gorgeous days this week. However, we had just had an outing on Saturday, and I was still tired from our trip, so that was fine with me.

Instead, on Friday I took Luke over to Rosie’s house to play. We found Rosie sitting patiently on her front lawn. No one else was home. Luke was fascinated by the neighbor’s goats, but every time he would stop running around to look at them, Rosie would collide with him. They had a good time tearing around for about half an hour while I visited with the goats. Then when I wanted to leave, I noticed that Rosie didn’t have her electronic collar on. I was afraid she would follow us home, so I put her in the garage. I didn’t hear anything from them, so I guess that was okay. It seems as if people are around their house most of the time, so I suspect she wasn’t in there long.

Yesterday, I went with my sister and her grandkids to see the new Dumbo. Dumbo has always been my favorite Disney kids’ movie, so I was curious to see how it would be. I think it’s ironic that I hardly ever get to go to the movies anymore, and when I do, it’s almost always to a kids’ movie. All I can say is, it wasn’t the Dumbo I remembered, and they have taken a 45-minute cartoon and turned it into a two-hour feature-length movie, with lots more people and complications in the plot. (I only remember the ringmaster, the clowns, and the audience in the original movie.) That was too long for my five-year-old great nephew, who began talking and getting up. They got one thing right, though, and that was the innocent, yearning look on Dumbo’s face, exactly like the original cartoon.

Another new activity is that I started proofing the manuscript of a book my brother wrote. He writes fairly well but makes consistent errors with commas and hyphenation. His book is interesting, though, and I will be excited if he publishes it, although also jealous.

It has rained all week, so we haven’t managed to get much yard work done, although one afternoon, Wayne went out to weed whack the slope again. However, he concentrated on whacking down the grass, so we still have a couple tangles of bramble to go down before Spring gets going too much to see our footing.

Other than that, it’s been a normal week with my normal activities. Luke continues to attend the Relationship Class despite not being very attentive. I am still confused by that, as the last time he attended it a couple months ago, he followed all the commands perfectly except that he wouldn’t stay down during one exercise. After that, the instructor said he wasn’t ready for the class. Now, he runs off in another direction when called to come, he comes off his stays and downs, and generally behaves pretty badly. Not only is he in his rebellious “teenage” days, but the scents in that back room where we do most of the exercises make him just want to go off and smell things (because it is outside, and the dogs are allowed to pee there). The first day I was mortified, but the instructor said not to worry, it was his first time. And frankly, the other dogs aren’t that well behaved, either. So, I am still confused about his getting kicked out the first time, when he was a pattern card of perfection, comparatively speaking.

My painting of Montmartre

In art class, I painted the edges of my painting. The reason I am doing that is that it is a large, square painting. I have framed all my other paintings and hung them somewhere obscure in the house, but this one, because it is square, will be really expensive to frame, unlike the others. My instructor suggested that if I had painted the edges while I worked on it, I could just hang the canvas on the wall. So, I am painting the edges so I can do that. Anyway, aside from that, it is finished and I have started drawing the next picture while the edges are drying. My niece, who is now in my class, says I have really improved. Funnily enough, I was watching a Rick Steves travel episode the other day, and he stood in the exact same place in front of Montmartre where my picture is set. The sheep were in the field, the same small field in back went off diagonally, and I could recognize the buildings in the background.

‘Tis the season, for rain

After a week of beautiful days, we now have at least two weeks of rain going, this week and the next, and no indication that it will turn into snow. The kids are hoping for snow for Christmas, but at this rate, I don’t know. We have had it the last two years, but maybe we were lucky.

I got enough of my Christmas things done last week to spend part of the last almost nice day (it wasn’t raining, but it was overcast and cold) preparing my garden for next spring. I added in some alpaca poop and a layer of new dirt. Next spring I’ll mix it all up before planting. The original dirt in my garden was already frozen solid, which it would not have been this week.

This weekend I discovered some great new lights. When I went to put my lights on my tree on Saturday, I saw that I had no colored lights and remembered that I had gotten rid of them all last year after Christmas because most of the blues and greens didn’t work anymore. (I rhink it’s very wierd, considering they are just lights under a colored cover, that the lights in the blue and green bulbs so consistently burned out first.) I had had some of the lights for more than 20 years, ever since the first LED Christmas lights came out. I put up my white lights and then went to the store to get new colored lights. I found these very small LED lights that are very bright. They are just little cylinders of light, and they come on a spool, so that they are very easy to put up, no clips. Instead of taking an entire day just to get the lights on my tree, after I returned with these lights, it only took me about a half hour to put them on. I hadn’t bought enough, so when I went back, I also bought two spools of white lights. At the end of this year, I will discard all my bulkier white LED lights that look like traditional lights.

Mischa and Luke in front of the decorated tree. Luke’s a little blurry because he’s eating cheese.

On Sunday, my great niece, Mischa, came over to help me decorate the tree. She was so much help that we got it all done in just a few hours! I am used to doing it by myself and taking the entire weekend to put up the lights and decorate the tree. But we put up all the decorations in three hours. She did most of the ladder work. I have to say, though, that a few years ago, to climb a ladder, I would have to haul myself up it. Although I have not taken any hikes lately because my hiking companions can’t go, and I have missed a few water exercise classes, I found that when I needed to climb the ladder, I just went up it. It wasn’t until I got to the top that I realized how easy it was.

Yesterday, during a lull in the rain, I put up the Christmas lights we have put up every year, which is to just decorate the railing of our back deck. It’s the only place on our property that anyone would be able to see lights when they went by on the road except maybe by our driveway. We have lots more lights, though, and I would like to do something more if it will just stop raining.

So, we’re pretty much ready for Christmas. All the presents are wrapped except a special one for Mischa that I will be picking up this weekend. Usually, since we have no kids, I would put the wrapped presents under the tree, but Luke would destroy them, as he chews everything. In fact, just how we will handle our Christmas presents at all will be a challenge, as I would like to at least have them under the tree that morning.

On the good news front, Luke just successfully completed a week of both puppy and adult classes. On the bad news front, I just took the remote control for the satellite system out of his mouth. I think it will still work, but the front cover over the buttons won’t go back on. As you can imagine, the master of the remote is not pleased. (Now he is even less pleased, because we just discovered that Hillary the cat peed on the bed. She wouldn’t have done this, but I accidentally left the door to the laundry room not open enough for her to get in to her cat box. Before we got Luke, it was open all the way, but now we just crack it enough for her and stuff a doorstop into the side of it so that Luke can’t open it. I was doing the laundry and didn’t leave it open far enough, although I thought it was open enough. Oh well.)

A very long day’s hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunshine! Plants and burnt sugar

We have had a week of the most gorgeous weather, sunshiny and cool most days, even getting hot yesterday. For the first time I was able to have my windows open during the day, and it was cool and breezy all day inside. In fact, it was so cool in the house yesterday afternoon that I overdressed for my art class when I could have been wearing a t-shirt. However, it was cold in the room, so that was just as well.

Last Wednesday, my neighbor and I planned to go to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to do our hike. However, when we got there, we discovered that the hiking trail was closed until May 1 because of breeding birds. They had another hiking trail up through town that we could have gone to, but we saw that they had a one-hour driving tour through the refuge, so we decided to take that instead.

We must have seen thousands of birds, mostly water birds. We really regretted not having our binoculars or bird books with us. We saw Canada Geese, and a subspecies called Dusky Geese, lots of different kinds of ducks, an egret (we think—it was far away), lots of red-winged blackbirds, swallows, and so many other birds we couldn’t identify. A large rodent came out of a pond right next to our car. my neighbor thought he was a muskrat, but after listening to our audio CD about the refuge, we decided he was a nutria. We had nutria in the river in Austin, but all you ever saw was their heads, poking out of the water far away as they swum. This guy was big, and he stood there right next to the car! He couldn’t be bothered.

The Great Blue Heron checking out the grass

A little further on, we encountered a great blue heron, who was walking along the road, apparently hunting for something in the grass. We followed him quietly down the road with our car for quite some time. He never paid any attention to us until we decided to try to slowly pass him. Then he flew away.

The Canada geese with their chicks. I don’t know if you can tell, but on the other side of the water are hundreds of birds.

Later on we came to a point where the road ran between two huge flocks of Canada geese. On the left were the regular Canada geese, and on the right were the Dusky Canada geese, a smaller and darker subspecies. With the Canada geese on the left, we were able to see some chicks! I’m sure there were a lot more there, but most of the geese were hiding their chicks away on the side of an embankment.

(I’m afraid I might have zoomed in too far on both these pictures, but I only had my phone.)

We decided we were going to come back again with our binoculars and our bird books. It’s only an issue of when.

On Friday night, my nine-year-old great niece had a talent show at her school. This talent show has history for our family, because of how it is run. Last year, my niece didn’t think to invite us to the competition, and they were all very upset when they came home. I have never actually heard of a school talent show that has prizes, but apparently this one does. The audience votes for the winner, and as many of the families in the area are very large, what happens is that the children from the large families win the prizes. My niece said that several of the kids who were actually talented did not win anything, including my great niece, who has a very good voice for her age and bravely sang Leonard Cohen’s difficult song “Hallelujah” to no reward. My niece said it was painfully embarrassing, because so many of the parents were shocked that my great niece didn’t win anything and came up and said so, or just stared at them. The little girl who won first prize last year stuttered out a few bars of her song and then quit. My niece said that one girl playing a cello, who sounded almost professional, also didn’t win anything.

When my niece explained to me how the show was run, I was shocked that it would be handled that way. It turns out the show is organized and run by the high school students. I think they need some suggestions from the teachers.

My great niece with her trophy after the performance. We are at a restaurant buying her a piece of cake to celebrate. The elbows belong to her parents.

This year, they set up the voting a little differently. Instead of giving the audience three votes and the judges only one, they did it the other way around. Also, I think the judges waited to see who the audience voted for before picking their winners, so that the prizes could be spread around more fairly. My niece also made sure that we were there, as well as both grandmothers, and an uncle. We’re not sure exactly which of those tactics worked, but my great niece won the audience choice award. She was so happy! My niece said that she was the only one of the talented kids from last year that actually came back and performed again. My niece sung “Rise Up” by Andra Day, which is a difficult song. I may be biased, but I think for her age group that she was one of the most talented performers.

My husband said the whole thing was excruciating, and he would not go again. He was nice enough to stay for the whole thing, though. Both grandmothers and the uncle left during intermission, after the younger kids had performed and they could vote. My niece also commented that far fewer people were there this year than last year, which was the first year of the talent show. I’m sure that there were lots of hard feelings after last year.

On talking with my sister and my niece, I found out that I could actually plant some starts at this time, ones for plants that are more cold hardy. So, on Saturday, I went out and bought starts for the cold-resistant veggies, and on Sunday I planted them. I think I made a beginner’s mistake, though, because I have a small garden, and I devoted too much space to large vegetables that only produce one plant, that is cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower. Although I only planted a few apiece, I have very little space left for beans, eggplant, and tomatoes and peppers, which produce more veggies. Luckily, they grow upward, so I will squeeze them in. I planted some herbs, green and red cabbages, peas and snap peas, brussel sprouts, Walla Walla onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. I may have planted the spinach too soon.

In a few weeks, I’ll plant tomatoes, beans, and peppers, and my niece said she had a zuccini plant I’ll have to try to squeeze in. She is also starting me an artichoke. That will take up a lot of space, but I have saved some for it, and I love artichokes.

On Saturday, we also had a little incident. I had started cooking some sugar water for hummingbirds on the stove when my husband came in and we decided to (finally) plant the plum tree. I got so excited that I forgot about the sugar water. We must have been outside for about a half hour or forty-five minutes, and we were on our way back in when I heard a funny noise that sounded like it was coming from the neighbor’s house. Suddenly, I realized it was a smoke detector, and it was coming from our house! Yes, my sugar water had gone up in smoke. I don’t know if you have ever seen a lot of burnt sugar, but it is not a pretty sight. It sort of makes a black, shiny structure in the middle of the pan, which of course was ruined. (It was an old pan I should have thrown away long ago anyway.) However, this was the final straw for the smoke detector.

The geniuses that installed our smoke detectors put one at the very top of our very high ceilings. My husband had the contractors install all new smoke detectors last year, but he made the mistake, he said, of not changing out the factory batteries for new ones. The smoke detectors are wired into the electricity of the house, but apparently they are required to have batteries, too, in case of a power failure. Well, that top smoke detector decided it needed a new battery, and it beeped all night long. My husband is somewhat deaf, so after we closed our bedroom door and he put on his C-PAP device, it didn’t bother him, but it kept me awake all night long.

We have a 12-foot ladder, which isn’t tall enough to get up there. Our niece’s husband, Ares, said that his stepfather, who was our tenant before we moved here, used to lean an extension ladder up against the ceiling, which must have been very dangerous. My husband had already called about renting a 16-foot ladder but then realized that it wouldn’t fit in our car. Ares came over to help, because my husband thought we might be able to get the battery out using his grabber and the 12-foot ladder, but Ares couldn’t get a grip on the battery with the grabber. Finally, Ares got up on the stepladder with the grabber and a powerful magnet and was able to get the old battery out and put the new one in. What a relief!


Yes, we had a white Christmas

Here is our first snowfall in the early dawn. Our Christmas lights are still on and part of the sky is still dark.

That’s what we were dreaming of. It snowed late Friday night or early Saturday morning, and we drove out Saturday morning around 8 to do some errands in town. Just a mile or so from our house, there was no snow, while we had lots of the fluffy, wet kind that sticks to all the branches. I took a picture of our first snowfall in the early dawn. The rest of the day was sunny, but it never got warm enough to melt the snow we got that night.

On Saturday night, my sister came over to watch Game of Thrones. I didn’t figure out that since she was working the next three nights, she was looking at it as a little early Christmas, whereas we just acted like it was a normal night. We didn’t even have any eggnog to bust out. So, we watched Thrones and then she left, and the next morning, I opened the front door and found a three-foot fir tree on my front porch with a bow on it. An early Christmas gift from her! We will have to wait until the spring to plant it. It made me feel bad that we hadn’t even had a glass of Christmas cheer.

Then on Christmas Eve, it snowed all day. After doing my floors on Saturday afternoon, I was ready for Christmas, so I had a delightful day listening to my Christmas music on the stereo and reading before the fire. My husband was down in the basement all day wrapping presents and doing whatever it is that he does down there.

Sun on the snow the morning after Christmas

Christmas day was quiet. The kids were still all recovering from the flu, so we left them alone to have a quiet day by themselves. We exchanged gifts and spent the day watching Dr. Who reruns, running up to the Dr. Who Christmas special, which in my mind this year was not that good. I think it’s fine that the new Dr. Who is a woman, but frankly, I didn’t really like Peter Capaldi as the doctor especially since they killed off Clara. But my problem with the Christmas show is that it wasn’t that well written. The parts that were supposed to be funny were just marginally funny, and the parts that were supposed to be emotional just weren’t. So, we’ll see how things go with the new doctor. (My favorite is still David Tennant, although I grew to like Matt Smith.)

Our house in the snow. It is evening (well, 3:30, so starting to get dark). I took this from the road, and you can just barely see the pond (in the foreground) and the house (up at the top of the hill) through the trees.

Yesterday, it was sunny again, and so I loaded all the Christmas presents for the kids into the car and then left a note for my husband to bring them when he woke up from his nap and walked over to my niece’s house. Of course, by the time I started walking, the sun had pretty much gone. That seems to be the way it goes, that it would get cloudy just as I set out. It had rained on all the lovely snow the night before, so that there was a thick crust on top of the snow. I had crunched my way to the bird feeders that morning to fill them up, and the crust was almost thick enough to support my weight without me breaking through. It made interesting walking to my niece’s house as I couldn’t walk in the treads of the cars because they were icy. We had a nice visit with everyone, ate some of the marzipan candy my niece made, and exchanged gifts. My niece let the kids go outside for the first time since everyone got sick, and it was really funny. The sled went pretty far down the hill on that ice, and when they tried to make snow angels, they were just flopping around on top of the snow. My little nephew didn’t even break through the crust when he walked on it.

So, we had a quiet holiday, and we hope you all had a nice holiday, too! Next time I post it will be 2018! Merry Christmas, everyone!



A little break

My husband seems to like to spend all his time at the house. The exception is the errands into town. He loves to stack one errand on top of another, so that when I start to go into town to return my library books, say, and go to the grocery store, suddenly he has added on a trip to Walmart (I hate Walmart), a pickup of prescription drugs at Walgreens, and a trip to the hardware store. Every jaunt into town must include at least one trip to the hardware store. Luckily for me, there’s a Dutch Brothers coffee booth right next door and I love their Cocomos, a combination of coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate. There is always a big line at Dutch Brothers, but if it isn’t too bad, I get in the walk-up line while my husband is looking at nuts and bolts next door.

This is all a big lead-up to say that I finally got him to take a little drive with me on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. We had one really hot day this weekend during which we actually started up the air conditioning for a few hours and one really beautiful day, during which we had the windows open all day. And then there was yesterday, when it was cold and cloudy all day, never out of the 50’s. I loved all of them.

These are the falls without the kids. They had momentarily gone out of sight.

Anyway, we chose to drive to Sunset Falls, which we had not seen yet. The drive was a nice one, southeast farther into the foothills of the Cascades. The falls aren’t spectacular, but they are pretty. Kids were sitting on the rocks over the falls in the middle of the creek (it looks like a river, but I’m pretty sure it’s a creek), and some of them were jumping off the rocks into the river or going along the bank to a cliff and jumping off there. Twenty years ago I would have been up top sitting on the rocks or wading in the creek, but I don’t think I would have had the nerve to jump off even forty years ago! It’s not terribly high up, but you could easily hit rocks on the way down.

On the contractor front, our general contractor finally came over yesterday and cleared out our basement, so I foresee some busy days of returning to what we had been doing two months ago or so when they messed it all up. We have almost all the bookcases out of the dance room, only three to go. My husband is going to fasten them to the wall because of the kids, and then I can start putting away my books. Finally! That will free up a lot of room in the dance room so that we can find the rest of our possessions and start organizing the storage in the dance room and garage.

As far as our remaining projects go, it looks like what I feared might be coming to pass. We had been waiting to hear from the guys who are going to asphalt our driveway, the guys who are going to install our marmoleum, and the guys who are going to install the carpet on the stairs. Some of these projects have been in limbo for months. I feared that what would happen is they would all want to do their jobs around the same time. That could be a problem if the driveway was being asphalted. And sure enough, we have a provisional start date from the asphalt guys of June 5 and a provisional start date for the marmoleum of June 8. I’m not sure how many days the asphalt will take, but this seems too close together. On the other had, both dates are provisional, so I’m not going to start trying to reschedule anything until at least one date is set. Also, no word from Lowe’s about the carpet since mid-May, when they said it had been shipped. I don’t want to put any of these guys off. We’ve been waiting for the carpet since February and the marmoleum since April. And the asphalt guys have the toughest schedule.

We also have a provisional start date of mid-June for painting the outside of our house. That’s not such a problem as the other projects, except, of course, if they end up being the same time as the asphalt.

We recently made a possibly foolhardy purchase. Well, who knows. It’s an interesting one at least. I have been wanting to buy a grill. I used to do about half of my meals on the grill when I was single. That was a standard Weber charcoal grill, and I used it so much it had a hole in the grill top. But when I got married, we decided to try a gas grill. Frankly, I never felt comfortable with it. I never knew if it was heated enough or whether the grill was supposed to have some sort of medium in it, like rocks, or anything like that. Our family has always used charcoal. And my husband is one of the few guys I know that doesn’t grill. (This used to be one of my dad’s favorite weekend activities.)

Our gas grill ended up being hauled off from our Austin house, where it had been chained to the deck but unused for years and was in horrible condition. Now that we have a lovely deck and some nice deck furniture for dining, I wanted to buy another charcoal grill. I was discussing it with my niece’s husband when he told me about something that’s called a Big Green Egg. A Big Green Egg is a kamado-style grill. I had never heard of these grills before, but most of them are made out of enamel, and you can use them to grill, smoke, or bake. What sold me was the information that you can use them to make tandoori chicken and naan.

I was 2/3 of the way there after reading about them, although they are expensive for a charcoal grill, but I wanted to see one. That is the difficulty. Our local Ace was supposed to carry them, but apparently they decided they took up too much space in what is a fairly small store. They said they could order one for me, but I wanted to at least look at one first. Then we stopped by Home Despot, which does not carry Big Green Eggs but has several other styles of kamado grills, some of which are less expensive. But they didn’t have even one of them in stock, either. We talked to a helpful guy in the store, who told us where we could see a Big Green Egg just to get a look at a kamado grill. The plan was to look at the Egg and then return to the Home Despot, where he would show us his other kamado grills online and we could order one. It was this kind of informed and guided shopping that I wanted from the store, because I had already read some reviews and looked at all the various grills online. I just wanted to hear what he had to say about them.

Well, we went to look at the Big Green Egg, but when we returned to Home Despot, nobody knew who the heck we were talking about, even though we knew his name (he might have been a manager), and if he WAS the manager, he was in a meeting. We stood around and stood around waiting at the service desk, but when I heard they were getting someone from flooring to help us, that’s when I decided to leave. After all, someone from flooring wasn’t going to know any more about the grills than I did. This is a problem with the local Home Despot. In Austin, they had pretty good service, but here, you’re lucky if you can find anyone to talk to. We went right back to the store with the Big Green Eggs.

The Big Green Eggs are pricey, but while we were talking to the nice man in the other store, we found out about demo eggs. These eggs are used one time at a Big Green Egg demo in Portland, and then you get one for 25% off. So, we signed up for one of those. We get our grill, slightly used, on June 25.

.This is what I call color

I hate to subject you, completely changing the subject, to another picture of our ridge, but lately the rhododendron on the left side of the water feature has bloomed beautifully. I was complaining in early spring that our property didn’t have any color, but it just didn’t have any early color. Now wildflowers are popping up all over the place. First there were some small blue ones on the ridge, but lately there are lots of white ones and some yellow flowers all around the house, maybe buttercups. I need to learn something about wildflowers. Here is part of our ridge now, just a couple weeks after the last picture. You can see some of the white flowers at the base of the rhododendron.

We have had several returns of the bunny, one time with a smaller companion, to our drive, where he or she likes to eat the grass in between the bricks. Sadly, that grass is going to be going away soon. Maybe the bunny will stay to eat the grass on our lawn, though. The bunny comes almost every evening now just before dusk.

This is my cedar waxwing.

If anyone is still interested in my art class, I finally finished my picture of a cedar waxwing. My sister is still working on her hummingbird, since she missed a class. I guess that means I’ll be doing an exercise in class today. The exercises tend to be tedious, but they are wise to intermix them with the opportunity to draw a picture. I think my next picture is supposed to be of a furry animal.