Some pictures from art class

My great niece with her picture of flowers in art class. I think it’s pretty good for a nine-year-old.

We took three pictures in art class last week, one of my great niece and her drawing of flowers. She took a lot of encouraging, but I think she did a good job. Her teacher told her she had a knack with the charcoal.

The other two were of my drawings. One was the finished castle that I mentioned last week. Half of the picture was its reflection in the water, and I was deeply unsatisfied with my rendering of it. But when I went back to class last week, it didn’t look that bad after all. I cleaned it up a bit and decided the drawing was finished.

My castle landscape

The next assignment was to do a still life. I wanted to try one, but after I got started, I don’t think either I or the teacher was very dedicated to it. I remember hearing our original art teacher tell people that she usually skipped that assignment, which she thought confused people because it had no relation to the method they used in the school for learning how to draw. I didn’t know how they were going to let me do a still life, as we sit in rather small spaces to draw, but it turned out that I was allowed to select some objects from the anteroom and they put me at a corner to draw so that I would have more room. The objects I could select from were fairly tacky, so I picked a glass vase and two seashells. I did not think I did such a great job, and my teacher really didn’t help me much. I wanted pointers on how to do the glass and all she said was “Make it streakier.” I remember getting lessons on painting glass in my oil painting class years ago, so I know there is a lot more she could have said.

My really pathetic still life

On the home front, I first went crazy buying bulbs. Ever since we arrived here, my intention was to plant bulbs in the fall so we would have flowers in the spring. But I was hoping to actually have flower beds by that time, which would have been easier. I went out to buy daffodils one day, to plant in the orchard, and I was fairly restrained, but they did not have a good selection. Then the next day, I went with my sister to the farm store, and they had a much better selection, so I got more daffodils, ranunculas, crocuses, and snowdrops. The next day I went out to find places to plant them. I planted some of the daffodils under a rim of sod behind the house and some under one of the apple trees in the orchard. But most of our ground was either rock under a thin layer of dirt or under sod. It was very hard trying to plant, and I didn’t get more done except that I planted the ranunculas at the bottom of the ridge between the blueberry bush and the bird feeder. Still haven’t done the crocuses, snowdrops, or about half the daffodils. But I don’t have to get them planted all at once.

On the weekend, I went on an outing with the kids. My niece, her husband, and their two children and I went to the Japanese nursery in Woodland and then to the pumpkin patch. I restrained myself at the nursery, only buying a partner walnut tree for the one we have in our orchard. My great niece talked her father into buying something called a jujube tree. He is a pushover, basically. Then we all went to the pumpkin patch. My niece needed lots of pumpkins to be jack o’lanterns for the spooky forest walk for my great nephew’s birthday party. So we filled up a wheelbarrow with pumpkins. Then the kids enjoyed the hay maze and the hay ride. Later we went to Fuel, a cafe we like in Ridgefield, and then home. A couple hours after arriving home, it was back to their house for our third Game of Thrones night.

This week I have spent finishing the housework for our guest’s arrival. The days were beautiful until yesterday afternoon, but now it is cold and drizzly. Poor timing, as our guest is coming from Houston and is originally from Louisiana, so she is used to warmer weather. I hope she doesn’t think its too cold here.

Today, our contractors are back to finish our sets of steps in the rain.

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More of the same

This is the upper set of steps before being redone. As you can see, you can barely see that there are steps. You can see the edges of two of them at the top middle of the picture.

This week there’s not much to tell. We had a few days of rainy weather, but it really didn’t rain very much, and now it’s beautiful out again. We know that probably won’t last long, but right now it’s lovely, cold in the mornings and warm in the afternoon, sunny skies. The trees have begun to turn, mostly yellow, but there’s not enough movement yet in that direction to show another picture. Looks like our friend’s visit will be timed just right for fall color. My sister tells me that here the colors aren’t as pronounced as back east, but they are better than Texas, where you just get a suggestion of color change. Next week it will be almost exactly a year ago that we arrived here, and the colors in the Gorge were pretty gorgeous.

Here is where the steps go from the lower drive down to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. This is the longest set of steps. They wind toward the right of the picture and about halfway, they turn toward the left.

Our contractors came back for a day last week to begin working on our final project. We have two sets of steps that are very dangerous, one up to the ridge above our house and one down from the lower drive to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. We decided to have the guys put in steps like the ones they installed from the upper to lower drive, only half the width, because these stairs are more foresty. They put most of the steps in last Thursday but got called to another job on Friday, and then it began raining. They might put one more step in when they come back, and they have to install the railings. Anyway, I took some before pictures and have one of the mid-stage.

Here are the partially finished lower steps without the railing. Now the wind and length are much more obvious.

I skillfully avoided doing some of the more unpleasant housework (like bathrooms) the last two weeks so that it will be done right before our guest’s visit. Perfect timing.

In art class I am drawing a ruined castle beside a lake. The lake shore is about halfway down on the picture, so that the castle also appears upside down in its reflection. I didn’t have much of a problem drawing the castle, but the reflection is driving me nuts. I feel deeply unsatisfied with it.

We had our second Game of Thrones night last Friday and my husband signed on for a third, so maybe we have him hooked! Socially, nothing else is going on except that my niece is already signing people up for their spooky birthday party for my three-year-old great nephew, whose birthday is right before Halloween. I’ll be wearing a costume for the first time in 20 years. We ran into my great nephew’s other grandmother at the grocery store yesterday, and she told me that she was happy to have finally found her Spongebob Squarepants costume, so she can wear that for the party. It’ll be something to see this slim, tidy woman in a Spongebob Squarepants costume. I think I’ve been drafted to carve about a bazillion pumpkins.

Quite a deluge

This is a pitiful amount of hail, but it’s our first storm of the season.

The big news for this week is that we finally have rain! In fact, we got so much rain yesterday all at once that I stopped what I was doing to watch. It was really loud, and there turned out to be a small amount of hail. The hail was so small that at first I thought the water pouring down from our eaves troughs (which couldn’t keep up with the rain) was frothing. The picture makes it look pretty pitiful, but there was lots of it along the driveway.

In any case, it looks like we are quickly turning toward fall. From very hot temperatures two weeks ago, we went to lovely temperatures last week, and now it is quite cold. We had a fire in our fireplace all day yesterday, because the highs were in the 50’s. But this weekend is supposed to be beautiful. I am waiting for the color changes.

Some of our classical music CDs, double-stacked behind and on top

This week I put some more things away. I am finally down to boxes of decorative items and our CDs, which I finished over the weekend. We had 300 CDs in a changer and probably 200 more. Our changer broke, so I had to find places for all of those CDs. Some of them are double-stacked on the shelves.

I also sold a teapot on Etsy. Again, another fiasco with the shipping weight. At the last minute, I made the mistake of weighing the box on my food scale. Because the box is so much bigger than the scale, I had weighed the box and the packing material and then added the weight of the item for each one. But that morning I doubted myself and reweighed everything. The weight came out a pound more than I had calculated, so I added that to the package, but of course that meant the extra weight came out of my own pocket. When I got to the post office, I found that the original weight was correct. So, I paid an extra $3 for nothing. Worse, I went ahead and changed the weights of everything by a pound, thinking that the box must weigh more than I thought. Now, I’ll have to go back and reweigh all my items. Sigh.

That’s all for this week except we are excited because one of our friends from Houston is coming for a visit in October. We haven’t seen her since the Christmas before last, so we are really excited to have her come visit.

My landscape

I forgot that last week I finished my first landscape in art class. This is a drawing of a place somewhere in Utah. Although I don’t think our current art teacher is teaching us as much as our previous one, I think we’re planning to stay in the class. My sister keeps saying that she likes the time slot, and certainly if my great-niece continues with the class, this is the time we’ll have to go. My great-niece is, I think, enjoying the class more, but she gets frustrated if she can’t do everything perfectly the first time. It doesn’t help that we have kids her age or a little older in our class that have lots more art lessons than she has had. Since drawing this picture, I completed another exercise and already started another landscape.

Finally, the costume I ordered for Halloween doesn’t fit, so it’s back to the drawing board. I got a great mask, though, one of those Venetian ones with the pointy nose. Only I can’t wear my glasses when I have it on, which means I won’t be able to see. I have clearly not done Halloween in a long time.

Eclipse eclipsed

Well, the story of our eclipse experience is a sad one. We just didn’t get our act together. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the stories on the news leading up to the eclipse, and my husband didn’t express an interest in going to see it in the zone of totality until they started reporting that no rooms were available and the traffic would be horrendous. So, after a brief discussion of what we could do, he decided not to go, figuring that the 96+% totality we were supposed to get would be good enough. He made this decision weeks ago.

This is what the height of the eclipse looked like from my phone. Pretty dramatic, but I never saw any blocking of the sun through the phone.

Last week, as we were leaving the grocery store, we saw eclipse glasses for sale, but we had already gone through the register and didn’t feel like going back. Then, when we returned to get some, they were gone.

On Sunday, the news reported that Lincoln City, in the path of totality on the coast, was actually more empty than usual because some fog was forecast. At that point, I looked up to see if they had hotel vacancies. They did, and I suggested to my husband that we bop down there and see the eclipse in the zone. It was only a 2 1/2-hour drive, although there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t take longer. I figured that we could just stay there an extra day, and who would argue with another opportunity to enjoy the beach?

My husband, that’s who. He didn’t want to “fight the traffic and crowds,” even though they had just reported that there were none. And actually, although they had some morning fog, it cleared up just in time for the eclipse. We could have gotten the glasses there on site, too.

A guy on the news recommended looking at the eclipse over your shoulder with your phone on selfie mode. I am here to tell you that doesn’t work. The day was beautifully clear, but the cell phone was all I had, besides trying to look at the eclipse by projecting it through a hole in a cracker, and the problem with the phone is that I never saw any of the actual blocking of the sun. When I pointed my phone up toward it, all I ever saw was a bright ball. That ball looked rather dramatic during the full part of the eclipse, but I didn’t actually see the sun’s light blocked, although it got dark here, like very early dawn.

Off in the distance, I heard my niece and her company yelling at the final display, so it must have been a good one. So, basically, we watched most of it on the TV, which we could have done from anywhere.

On the plus side, my niece and her husband brought the kids over on Friday, and they had a sauna with my husband. I stayed out to keep an eye on the kids. My great-niece is okay on her own, but not so her three-year-old brother. My husband reports that the sauna made his knees feel much better, so he has since been in it on his own. I still haven’t gone in yet, because the day that I was planning to try it, I didn’t feel well.

Aside from hanging some pictures and unpacking a few boxes of ornaments, I haven’t done much around the house lately. I seem to be finally slowing down, after all the work of preparation for the move, the move, and the unpacking and renovations. It only took me over a year!

Today is my great-niece’s first day to come with us to art class. I hope she likes it!

Lovely weather and art. What could be better?

After our hot weather the week before last, now we are having highs in the 60’s and low 70’s. Heaven! We had some rain on Sunday. A bit was forecast, but we actually had quite a downpour about 10 AM. The trees and the other plants were happy.

Our cute little sauna from Costco in the morning sunbeams. It is sitting under our deck on the patio outside the basement doors.

The contractors came back and put a rail on our steps, and that concludes their work for a while. But my husband discovered we had more money left over than he initially thought, so we can afford to have them back to redo the steps going up from the driveway to the top of the slope and the steps from the lower drive to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. Then all our dangerous outdoor steps will be gone.

The last thing finished was the sauna. It turns out that the timer was wired to be on all the time, so it was only off when we turned it on. That means that as soon as there was power to the sauna, it burned out. We got a new timer from the sauna manufacturer, and my husband is going to see if he can get a refund on the labor. I have never had a sauna, but my niece and nephew have already informed me that they would probably be over this weekend to take one. We had planned to buy a rigid sided kiddy pool to fill with cold water for after the sauna, so I guess we’d better get cracking before they aren’t available anymore.

My sister’s wolf. See how dramatic her lines are. Although she might prefer her deer, I think this is one of her best pictures.

This week I started hanging some of our pictures around the house. I was able to find the large ones but not the small ones, including one that had been in the kitchen for several months, a historical photo of a tornado next to the capitol building in Austin. I hope to find the rest soon.

My sort of pathetic horse

Those of you who have been interested in my art class might like to see some pictures I took last week. Both my sister and I were finishing up our latest drawings. The figures were supposed to be animals in close-up, and I was drawing a white horse in a snowstorm and my sister a wolf. I have to say that I was the least happy with the results of this picture. It’s very hard to draw a white on white subject in black and white. I thought my horse looked the least like a real animal than any of my other pictures.

Anyway, I’ve commented on how much bolder my sister is in her drawing than I am. She just really goes at the canvas, whereas I am still worried about making mistakes. I think that sometimes my work has come out better than hers, but in this case, it is totally the opposite, as you can see from this series of pictures. Good news! My great-niece will be able to start art class right on time, next week, the same week school starts.

My sister in art class drawing her wolf

The carpet is coming!

Yes, finally, I am advised by Lowe’s that the carpet got shipped. I called them this week to find out, because I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. If they hadn’t told me it had been shipped, I would have started talking to them about changing or cancelling our order. We have been waiting for the carpet since February. The Lowe’s associate told me that when it arrived at the installer’s, they would call me to schedule installation. I have to say that I haven’t been impressed by Lowe’s service this go-round. If I hadn’t called them about the carpet in June, they probably wouldn’t have called me to tell me the shipping had been delayed.

While I’m talking flooring, the guy came out on Monday to fix the bubble in our marmoleum. He said that since linoleum is a natural product, it expands and contracts with the weather. Apparently, it expanded and pushed up against the cabinet for the sink. All he had to do was trim it a bit and glue it back down. Problem solved. It looks great.

My before picture. There is a better picture of the house at the top of my blog, but it was taken before we owned it.

And speaking of contractors, yesterday the house painters returned to begin working on the outside of the house. They power-washed the house and are back this morning caulking. They said they would begin painting tomorrow. I went out this morning and took a “before” picture so that I would be able to show the difference when it is done. One of the painters is outside the front door right now singing really badly.

We also have had a visit by the deer family. The deer we saw in our yard this spring were two sets of twins from a doe we hadn’t seen yet. But the other evening, we were sitting in the living room when I looked up and saw two fawns and a doe outside our window. Unfortunately, my phone was across the room, and when I got up to get it, the fawns ran out of view. The doe stayed and munched for a while at our blueberry bushes. Then all of them leapt up the ridge in front of the house. I hope they’ll be returning often.

My friend looking very tiny above Lucia Falls

On the social event front, I have a friend I used to work with in Austin who moved to Portland years ago. We have been getting together about once a month, but we missed the last two months. I drove in to the train station in North Portland and picked her up on Saturday. She came to the house to see all our improvements, and then we went out to lunch at a place called the Rusty Grape Winery. After that, we took the North Clark County scenic drive. It was a beautiful day for it, and here is a picture of my friend, very tiny in the middle of the photo.

My sister and I are getting a little peeved with our new art teacher, because she skipped both of us twice last week when she was doing her rounds. If you are busy as she goes by, instead of checking in with us or giving suggestions like the old teacher did, she just goes on to the next person. As a result, she spent a lot of time helping one of the children in the class, much more time than she spent with the adults. Why does she think we are taking an art class if we don’t need any help? If it was up to me, I would switch to a Tuesday or Thursday night class with our old teacher, but I think that might pose a problem for my sister, and even if it doesn’t, we are planning to add her granddaughter to the class soon.

All week my husband and I worked on and off at stacking firewood, and we finally did all we can do. We have to order another rack! At last, I can tell by looking at the pile of firewood that is left that we have made progress.

And there has been one delay after another, but tomorrow I should be able to start putting away my books. Yesterday, I helped my husband move a buffet and another shelf out of the storage room, and I removed all the things that are currently on the shelves (with my husband around, no space stays bare for long) and dusted them. So, first thing on Thursday after I finished posting my book blog, I will start sorting books!

 

The fourth and a deer stalker!

I probably mentioned that in the spring we saw some deer outside our living room window several times, but we haven’t seen them since. And the bunny that used to eat the grass in our driveway hasn’t been around since we asphalted the driveway, even though we have lots of nice grass around the driveway. So, we haven’t seen too much in the way of wildlife lately. But one morning I got up and my husband told me we had a window peeker. I was just getting alarmed when he explained that a deer had been standing at the window that morning looking in at him. We also have had curious hummingbirds hovering in front of the living room window as if they are looking in, not anywhere near the hummingbird feeders, but maybe they are seeing their reflections.

My husband and I didn’t expect to have plans for the fourth of July. I had asked my sister what her crew were doing, and she said they were thinking of going to the Fort Vancouver fireworks (which I have since learned are some of the biggest in the country). My husband doesn’t like fireworks, so absent an invitation, I figured we’d do what we usually do, stay home and do nothing. For years, I lived a 15-minute walk from where they shot off the fireworks in Austin. We could actually see the fireworks over the treetops from our living room (just barely, of course, and only the high ones). When I was single, I went down there and watched them, but since I’ve been married, not once.

However, my niece sent out a Facebook invitation. At the last minute, she decided she didn’t want to face the crowds, so they invited a bunch of friends for a potluck. I made beet and apple salad, to which I added some goat cheese. That turned out to be a delicious addition. And we brought a couple of watermelons.

We had a nice time, although it got fairly hot. When I first got there, my great-nephew, who is three, insisted I go watch him climb a tree. He was able to get up to the first branch. After I watched him once, we went to the garden and picked some strawberries. Then he told me I had to watch him climb it five times. Luckily, people began arriving at that point, which distracted him. A surprising number of people showed up, about six couples and their kids. I didn’t count the kids, but one family brought five of them, so there were a lot of them, ranging in age from about 16 to 3, racing all around the yard, going up into the tree house, walking the weasels, and having a great time.

We had a feast. There was a terrific amount of food for the number of people. Our watermelons didn’t even get opened up, so we brought one home and left the other for my sister and the kids.

And finally, my husband had to put up with fireworks, which are legal in Clark County. My niece doesn’t believe in disturbing the neighbors, even though they have been shooting off fireworks every evening since Friday, so ours were restrained. But they were pretty. Finally, though, her husband and my sister convinced her to let them shoot off a few of the big ones. My sister bought a package of them two years ago, and my niece has been too concerned about how loud they are to let them shoot them off. I think half the package is still there. They shot off four of them, the pretty kind that shoot way up into the air and then explode in colors.

So, we had a nice time.

On the house improvement side, no progress this week except that we got a bubble in our marmoleum. I am waiting for the flooring guy to call me back with a date for the guy to come back and fix it. And no word on the carpet. I will call them this week to see if it got shipped on time. That was supposed to happen on Friday.

We have stacked about twice as much firewood as I showed last time. Now we are waiting for the racks to arrive so that we can safely stack the rest. And, yay! my husband finished fastening the bookcases to the wall. I thought I was going to work on the books on Monday, but I feared I was coming down with something, so I spent most of the day in bed. I had a sore throat for four nights running, but now I believe it is some kind of allergy.

Fox on a stony, lichen-covered background

So, no pictures for you today, except this one of the fox I just finished drawing in art class. We have a new teacher, starting last week. We are still trying to decide if we like her or if we want to start looking for another class with our old teacher. We are complicated a little by the fact that we are planning to enroll my nine-year-old great niece in the class when school starts. She is partially home-schooled, and this will fulfill an art requirement, plus we thinks she will really like it. So, the Wednesday afternoon time slot is perfect for her and for my sister. I can go anytime.

I was a little perturbed by the new teacher in several ways. First, she had me change the approach my other teacher was having me take to indicate the lichen on the rocks. I was almost done with my picture at the beginning of class, and she made me rework quite a bit of it.┬áThis change in midstream made me feel as if the result was muddy. Then, she started talking to us about the way our original teacher had us prepare to do a picture, which she felt was unnecessary. I have to admit that when I first encountered it, I was surprised, but it results in a picture that is much neater. She has us drawn the major outlines of our picture onto tracing paper, where you can make as many mistakes as you want, and then lightly trace the outlines onto our paper. That way, your drawing is transferred without mistakes onto the paper, and you have guidelines to work with when you begin working in charcoal. Well, our new teacher doesn’t like this and is talking about “weaning us away from it.”

Finally, this is a small point, but I just realized that our old teacher always told us to sign our pictures before we spray them, and this one didn’t. My poor fox picture doesn’t have my signature, because I forgot. Ah well, maybe we’ll get used to her. She didn’t do what our old teacher did and ignore the new students until she got to them. On the other hand, she was more easily distracted, so that we didn’t get our turns for her attention strictly in order, like we are used to.