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

Big green egg!

The biggest news for this week is the arrival of our Big Green Egg. This is a special type of charcoal grill, called a kamado grill, made of ceramic. We needed to buy a grill anyway. We had a gas grill in Austin, but I was accustomed to a charcoal grill and could never get comfortable with the gas, so I quit grilling. When I was talking grills with my niece’s husband, he got all excited about the Big Green Egg and kamado grills, something I had never heard of before. They are a cross between a regular charcoal grill and a traditional ceramic oven, and you can use them for grilling, smoking, and baking. The reason I bought one is, I can learn to make tandoori chicken and naan. Although kamado grills are expensive, tandoori ovens are much more so.

Here is our big green egg on our deck.

As I said, the egg was expensive, but we heard about demo eggs, which you could buy after they were used for one day at an EggFest.  They were priced about 20% less. The egg isn’t any less, but they throw in a bunch of free accessories, ones that you definitely need, and some charcoal. We decided to buy one. Originally, we were supposed to pick it up after the EggFest on Saturday. We had planned to go early and watch people using the grill and eat some of the food, but as the day approached, the weather forecast dismayed us, as it was supposed to be very hot, near 100, and the EggFest was in Portland. Frankly, we weren’t looking forward to either the drive or the heat. Also, I was concerned because of reports that the egg doesn’t cool down very quickly. The EggFest was scheduled to end at 4 and we were directed to pick it up starting at 5. I was wondering how that would work out, with the grill just having been used.

I was talking to my husband about this on Saturday morning, and he remembered that the hardware store guy had called on Wednesday, when I was at art class, to tell me that we were supposed to pick the egg up at the store. No more details were forthcoming, because he had forgotten them. In fact, I’m lucky that he remembered at all and that we didn’t end up at the event to pick up an egg that wouldn’t be ready. When I called the store, they told me they had decided not to break down the event until Sunday. They said I should call the store Monday morning to make sure the grills were there before coming out to pick it up.

So, I did, and after some confusion about our last name, we went to get our grill. Now, if anyone else is interested in buying such a grill and wants the discount, I will caution you. Whether you think this is a good deal depends on how fastidious you are. We actually got a free Conveggtor (used for indirect cooking, for example for naan or pizza, and for many of the recipes in their cookbook) with our grill, which was not supposed to be included, because it was used with our egg at the event. So we actually got the whole package for about 30% off.

However, the grill was filthy. They didn’t clean it at all. In fact, the store people had to rake out the ashes onto the pavement in front of the store before putting the egg in our car. I spent several hours cleaning the grill once we got it home, and I didn’t get everything off it. If you can imagine, it was used all day and never cleaned in between cooking. I am supposed to be able to clean it thoroughly by lighting a fire in it. I haven’t done that yet, but I will have to in order to use the Conveggtor, because it is horrible. Trust me, the pictures of the nice clean egg from their cookbook is not what I’m looking at, even now.

Yum, asparagus and pork chops. The chops were just a tad overcooked, but I will know better next time.

I used it last night for the first time. I was a little worried about using it, because I hadn’t grilled for a long time, and when I did, everything was by guess. I had no notion of keeping the grill at a particular temperature, which is the whole deal with the kamado-type grill. However, with a little fiddling, I was able to figure out how to control the temperature fairly easily, although keeping it steady is another thing. When you open the grill to do anything, the temperature goes way down, and if you overcompensate, it goes way up. However reviews that said it took a long time to cool an egg if you overshoot your temperature proved to be incorrect. You can easily make the temperature go back down by adjusting the vents. And here it is: my first meal made with our Big Green Egg. Nothing fancy. I thought I’d start out with something easy.

For those who are still stuck back in the saga of the slope, our young lawn guy came back with his uncle’s brush cutter and cut it. It is not a beautiful job, but it is done for the time being. We will have to get someone out here again in about a month. I’m thinking lawn service, since this guy was moving out of state next month.

And what have we been doing this week besides catching up on the laundry? (A slight mishap there. Our contractor was in too big a hurry hooking up our washer, and when I went in the next day, we had a puddle on our laundry room floor. We had to move everything out ourselves, suck up the water with my steam mop, and move it back. But no big deal and the linoleum floor still looks great.) Firewood is the answer.

A young neighbor came over two weeks ago and asked if we needed to buy firewood. Up here everyone gets it early, to make sure that it is good and dry for the next winter. I don’t know if I said that we got ripped off this winter. Installing a wood-burning stove was one of the first things we did with the house, and we had to look around for firewood. It seemed to be all sold out right when we needed it. Despite a warning on Craig’s List about someone selling wet wood for dry and my efforts to avoid this by checking the phone number, we did indeed get ripped off. Our wood was supposed to be dry and it was wet and of very poor quality. We had to use supermarket wood all winter to get it started. The fire starters alone wouldn’t do it.

Here’s how much firewood we stacked so far. I did most of the stacking while my husband fooled around with the mower.

Anyway, we had been looking around for wood, but our contacts hadn’t come through. I think people were just forgetting we had asked them about it. So, when Scott came over and asked me, I told him, yes, we did need firewood. This kid looks about 14, but the Apostolic kids around here learn to work hard at a very young age. I intend to write a post about some of the more interesting characteristics of the area, and I’ll be writing about the Apostolics in that post. We made a deal, and that boy went out and cut all the wood himself and brought it here with his mom and his younger brother. He delivered it a week later than he said, but he kept us posted all the time. And it is clearly good wood, dry and nice looking.

Here’s how much we have left to do. Yikes!

So, we’ve been stacking firewood. A few months ago, we helped our niece and her husband do theirs, and with five of us in a line, we managed to stack a couple of cords in a couple of hours. But the two of us geezers are taking a lot longer about it, and we don’t have a good place to stack the wood. We have just been putting them in the side parking lot on two two-by-fours, but we’re missing the pieces to hold the wood at the ends. I just ordered two racks for us, although it would be cheaper if we just built something out of wood. But I’m not waiting for my husband on this one. We need to get the wood off the ground. Anyway, you can see by my two pictures we haven’t made a lot of progress. The picture of stacked wood is after about three hours of work. Oh, my back! (When I helped at my niece’s house, I strategically picked a position in the line where I didn’t have to bend over. But that option isn’t open to me now.)

 

 

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.

Wildlife, silver, another lazy week

Today it is cold, but on Monday it was almost 90 degrees. We had the air conditioning on for a few hours for the first time. We have really had some temperature variations lately, but by and large the weather is gorgeous!

This little rabbit has figured out that I’m peeking at him from behind the wood stove (choo choo train steamer in view).

We have been seeing lots of birds lately, but we haven’t seen any deer on our property since the first report. We saw one deer at my niece’s house the morning after our first road meeting when we drove all the way down the road to look it it. My niece has remarked that we saw a lot more of the deer before three of our neighbors decided to log their property. There is a lot less cover for them in the neighborhood now. However, a bunny decided to come visit us the other day.

The work with our contractors is virtually on hold. Our general contractor wants to finish up his work at the same time as he prepares the floors for the linoleum installation, but it looks like that’s not happening. Two weeks ago the linoleum guy told me a week-and-a-half to two weeks, but now we’re provisionally scheduled for June 8, so that’s another two weeks to wait. Our contractor says his guys will come out soon to finish the other things up. Our house painting isn’t scheduled before mid-June, and we have heard nothing from the asphalt people, despite leaving them a message asking them for a rough estimate.

The road work we’ve been discussing with our neighbors will involve tearing up more of our driveway than we anticipated for our asphalting project, as we originally planned to leave the concrete apron. But the idiots who built our house didn’t put a pipe under the apron for drainage, which has been causing a problem on the gravel road for years. So, the guy doing the road work is going to tear off the apron and lay down a pipe and big gravel that the asphalt people can lay asphalt on top of.

Silver before: I let this stuff get really bad, I guess.

So, we have just been puttering around the house. I have been whacking away at the grass on the slope behind the house, but the slope is too steep for me to make it all the way up. I’m now looking for a spry youngster to do it for me.

The other project I took care of lately was to polish some old silver that I got from my mother. It was her mother’s. I have plates and bowls and servers and an entire tea service—I doubt if I will ever use it (well, I use one plain silver pitcher frequently for flowers), but I like having it as it is so pretty. I let it get in pretty horrible condition, though, and it probably wasn’t that great when I got it. Here are a before and after picture. The after picture isn’t perfect, but I like a little tarnish on silver. The secret is to not let it get into the condition that I let it get into.

Silver after: it still needs some work.

Nothing special

Our ridge a few weeks ago. The pieris is just starting to get red.

I didn’t have a photo to show for this week, so I thought I’d go out and take another picture of the ridge, so you can see how it’s changed in the past month or so. This first photo is the ridge a few weeks ago, almost exactly a month ago, in fact. You can see that we are still coming out of winter in this picture. The pieris (the tall plant at top) has changed from red, which it was all winter, to yellow, and a lot of the bushes look dead.

The ridge this morning

In this second picture, taken today, you can see both the pierises, which I have trimmed, looking a little pinker, the azaleas next to the waterfall (which is still not falling), and the rhododendron beginning to come out on the right. Below the rhododendron is a heather bush, which has looked pretty much like that since we got here, and if you look carefully to the right of the heather, you can see a little silver pieris that I planted a few weeks ago. To the left of the heather and barely visible below the rhododendron is the bird’s nest spruce that we also planted. I think that I have two more rhododendrons that have not yet begun to bloom on the left of the azaleas. They have big buds on them that aren’t visible in this picture. You can see, though, that the foliage in the picture is much greener. Nothing looks dead.

However, it still is staying well below normal for this time of year. Highs have been in the 60’s all week and lows still in the 40’s. It’s supposed to get up into the 80’s within the week, though. My understanding is that normally it should be in the 70’s now. Yesterday we had intermittent rain and small hail.

We are getting lots of rain this week. I made it outside a couple of times in an attempt to weed-whack the wolf pen and work my way up into the septic field, where we dare not let the vegetation get too bad. But my attempts have been fairly paltry. What we really need is a strong young teenager with a brush cutter.

I also took a handful of seed bombs out into the orchard and threw them around. Seed bombs, if you don’t know, are lots of wildflower seeds packed into a ball of mud. You throw them where you want wildflowers to come up, and the rain breaks down the mud ball and spreads the seeds around. My great-niece told me that she and her mother came out last fall and threw some seed bombs around the orchard, too, so with any luck, we’ll have lots of wildflowers in the orchard this year.

Other than that, we’ve been just puttering around the house. My husband put together his push mower this week and re-mowed the front lawn, but he didn’t make it down to go over the wolf pen where I had weed-whacked. Next dry day, if he doesn’t do it, I will. He also fastened the bookcases that we have moved out into the basement to the wall. We still have three more bookcases to move out before I can start putting away my books, and we will need the contractors to move their stuff out of our basement so that I can have room for my stacks of books.

Our marmoleum has been ordered! I am not sure how long it will be before it is installed. The flooring rep said a week-and-a-half to two weeks, but that was before he’d checked stock, so it may be longer. This company is being so much more helpful than the last one!

Our carpet is supposed to come in around the same time, and the pavers were provisionally starting our driveway around that time. I hope they don’t all come at once, but I would guess that the pavers will be late because it has continued to be rainy for so long. They had work stacked up from last season that they had to do first, and they probably haven’t had very many days that they could work so far. They said they don’t schedule their work too far out because of the weather, so they will call us about 10 days before they want to start. For the same reason, probably, we haven’t heard a peep from our house painters.

Speaking of paving, we had our first neighborhood meeting to discuss the state of the road. It was nice to meet a few more neighbors (we had only met two up until then), but only about half showed up and we weren’t able to decide anything because of a few complications. Next meeting is this Saturday at my niece’s house.

And that’s about all that’s going on this week.

The touch of mortality

Hans in happier times

We had a sad event at our house on Sunday, which also was my husband’s 71st birthday. His standard poodle, Hans, died. The poor dog had been suffering for some time, but my husband thinks that taking a pet to the vet to be put to sleep is cruel. This issue is a difficult one to resolve. I personally believe that if the pet can’t be saved, letting it suffer is cruel, but we all have to deal with this issue in our own ways. In any case, we were out working in the yard when he died, and we spent the afternoon burying him in the pasture under a hemlock tree. At least he has a nice place to be.

After several hours of fooling around with his new riding mower, my husband took off to cut the orchard. For practice, he did our small front lawn and cut down my lilac bush, planted only a few weeks before. I saw him out there, and I thought, he is going to cut down my lilac bush. I saw him pass it safely. I went back to doing the laundry. Less than a minute later, I heard a terrific crunch and looked out to see nothing, that is, no lilac bush. My niece’s husband has been suggesting I put in raised beds in front for flowers. I’m beginning to think that may be a good idea. In any case, I guess there will be no scent of lilac on our property this year.

My husband was only able to cut a sort of circular swath through the orchard. I think the slope of it worried him and he was a little scared of his mower. He also found he could not fit the mower into the wolf pen, so it’s going to have to come down. I have been wanting to take down the wolf pen since we got here, but he thought he might use it for Hans. Needless to say, Hans never set foot in the place. Our tenants, who lived here before we moved here, used it for their goats.

Azaleas next to the waterfall with the pieris above

Although it is supposed to start raining again for several days starting tomorrow, we have had several gorgeous days in a row. On one of those days, my niece’s husband kindly came over and cut the rest of the orchard. The grass is getting out of control here because we didn’t have a mower and it rained for so long this spring. I weed-whacked part of the side yard and part of the wolf pen, which has grass that is almost up to my waist. Also in the last few days, the azaleas (I think they’re azaleas) have bloomed on our ridge. The pieris plants, which were yellow during the winter, turned bright red in early spring, and are now pink. Here is a picture of the azaleas and one pieris next to the waterfall, which is not turned on yet because we need to clean it out.

On the flooring front, our contractor found a flooring installer, which I reported last week, and this week he finally returned from vacation and contacted the flooring company. We have already heard from the company representative, who is coming out on Friday to measure. Finally, some movement!

My flower drawing. Keep in mind this is the first thing I ever drew.

We also finally heard from Lowe’s. As you may (or may not) remember, we ordered carpet for the new stairs from them, the same kind as we installed during the winter in the basement. They came back to us in February saying that the carpet was out of production and wouldn’t be available until May. Last week, they called us to say that carpet would be shipped to them on May 15. I had been worrying that they would call back and say the carpet was no longer available, which, since we were trying to match the downstairs carpet, would have been bad.

And although I have moved on from my picture of a flower to another exercise and now to drawing a bird (a cedar waxwing), I have not forgotten my promise to Naomi to take a picture of my first drawing. Here is my flower, in all its glory, or not. I guess it does look like a flower.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

You can’t always see those mountains through the trees.

It’s a gorgeous day today! Yesterday, the high was 51, and it rained almost all day. We had a fire in our wood stove. Today, the high is supposed to be 81. I had an early morning appointment, and the air was fresh, the skies sunny. Now, I’ve had to remove my sweatshirt for the first time since October and won’t be wearing two shirts today for the first time since November (when I figured out what was needed to keep from having to crawl in bed every day to get warm). Here is a picture of our deck this morning. If you look carefully past the trees, you can see mountains.

For those of you who can’t wait to hear the latest renovation news, we haven’t done anything this week, but my marmoleum samples finally arrived. I picked a deep but bright blue called adriatica that only has a few speckles, light and dark (I could have used more speckles, but this was the best color) and looks lovely with our grayish green-blue walls. It will be very dramatic. On Tuesday, I heard from our contractor, who has been on vacation. He said he had found a vendor of marmoleum who has installers, and he is just waiting for pricing information. Yippee!

On the down side, we developed a leak under our kitchen sink last week. Every once in a while we would find a small puddle of water on the floor in front of the sink, and then open the cabinet door to find a puddle inside. Of course, my husband did nothing about this immediately, because that is not his way. I put a towel under the cabinet door to avoid wrecking the hardwoods any more than they are already wrecked (most lately by his dog having an accident and then him not cleaning it up right away—I wasn’t around). Then my husband ground up my pestle in the garbage disposal. I had only used it once. It was in the sink, and he must have taken out the drain plug without putting the drainer in immediately. The pestle fell down into the garbage disposal at some point and then he turned it on. I know I didn’t do it, because I always have either the plug or the drainer in the sink to avoid extra garbage going down, because we compost most of our garbage. We only use the disposal when the sink gets clogged up with the particles that we haven’t captured in the drainer. This saves our septic field from filling up too quickly.

So, the pestle, which was made of porcelain, broke, and bits of it got into the disposal and broke it. Then the drain got plugged so that we couldn’t use the sink. I finally got on the phone and started to try to find plumbers, but it wasn’t easy, because they are all busy putting plumbing into the new houses that are going up in the area, from people moving out of Portland because it is too expensive to live in. My contractor told me I could call his plumber, but my husband finally went out to buy parts and fixed it himself. In Austin we went without a garbage disposal for years, during which he wouldn’t let me call a plumber (he was always going to fix it sometime), so this is an improvement.

We started back at our unpacking last week, because we finally got tired of waiting for our contractors to come back and clean up their junk in the basement. My husband spent a day tidying up the basement, and then we started hauling our bookcases out of the storage room. They can’t make the corner from the storage room to the big room downstairs, so we have to wheel them straight across the hall, through the guest room, out the sliding glass door, down to the other sliding glass door, across the wooden walkway for the sauna, and in the door to the big room. You can see why we wanted to wait for a day when it wasn’t raining. Then we had to clean them up and put them into position. We got all of a set of 10 cherry library shelves (with a crossbar and a ladder) out of the storage room. Unfortunately, they cannot occupy one wall like they did in Austin, nor can they have their top shelves added on. But we set up half of them on one wall, and will be setting up the other half on the other wall. We still have three black bookshelves to move out, and then the bookshelves will be done, and I can start unpacking the books.

Also in the shelving category are our DVD/CD shelves. My husband moved them up from the basement last week and attached them to the walls in my office. Then I unpacked all the DVDs and put them away (alphabetically, of course) and the CDs that were on the shelves before. We have hundreds more CDs, though, that used to be in a 300-CD jukebox that broke. We will have to figure out what to do with them. So much for jukeboxes. That one held up only a paltry 15 years. I still have the 5-CD player that my brother sent me for my birthday 20 years ago, and it works perfectly well. I also have my record player. Yes, I do, and my record albums, which I understand are becoming chic these days. We’ll have to figure out a place for those, too. I do play them sometimes.

Hillary watching birds

It took me a while to figure out what my cat was doing every morning, but I finally did. She stands just outside the bedroom drapes, which are closed in early morning, and watches the birds in the feeders. If it’s a cold morning, she sits directly on top of the heating vent you can see there in the floor. We put a feeder out months ago, but it is only in the past three weeks or so that we’ve seen any usage made of it. I thought it was too close to the house, since we hung it directly under the eaves outside our bedroom window, but that doesn’t bother the chickadees, and they love the suet that is next to the feeder. If I want to get other birds, I’ll have to hang another feeder farther from the house. Sometimes a few small gray birds are on the deck eating the seeds that the chickadees dropped. I think they are bush tits. We had tufted titmice in Austin that hung out with the chickadees, but here I have only seen these little gray birds. The chickadees here, by the way, are lots bigger than the ones that we had in Austin.

If you are waiting with bated breath to hear about my art class, I finished my flower last week, but I forgot to take a picture of it, as requested by Naomi. My flower is okay, but I think my sister’s is much more striking (although our instructor has labeled us the one who doesn’t follow instructions [my sister] and the one who does [me]). I think this is because my sister traced the outlines of her flower petals when the instructor told her not to. I will try to remember to take a picture of my flower today.

Now the instructor has us doing another exercise. The first one was interesting, but now that we have done real pictures, the exercises are boring. This one is drawing everyday objects from the basic shapes. That is, ice cream cones from cones and spheres, etc. I think the school is wise to alternate exercises with opportunities to draw pictures.