Out and about a bit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, Wayne has been busy this month.

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

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

 

 

Humdrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lots of exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sue at the Lewis River inlet to Yale Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new normal week

This week the county reports we have had 368 positive cases of the virus, 22 deaths, and almost 5000 people tested. Things seem to be slowing down here, except for the pitiful number of people tested, which tells me we don’t know. Also, our county map showing where the cases are has always shown no known cases in our zip code, but just this week it shows 1 to 30 cases. That’s not many, but it means the virus is just making it into our part of the county. All this opening up that’s going on in the rest of the country is making me very nervous. I can’t help but think that we’re headed for a resurgence.

Here on the home front we have made three trips out this week. On Friday, Wayne suggested we go get an ice cream cone, so we drove up to Amboy to a mom and pop coffee/ice cream stand and got a cone at the drive through. Not very Weight Watchery, but supporting our local business.

On Monday, I did my usual pickup at the grocery store and by the way made sure to buy a cup of coffee at my favorite drive-up stand. I used to stop there frequently before all this started, but now I’m not out as much, so when I am, I try always to stop there. The owner is almost always there these days, and she has had to cut her hours.

On Tuesday, we went to Costco for the first time since all this started. They have things organized pretty nicely there, but I was shocked by how many people paid absolutely no attention to how close they were to other people. At one point, I was walked down an aisle, and their aisles are plenty wide enough. Another cart was passing me on the other side, and we were far enough apart, but then a woman shot right between us, right past me, about a foot away from my arm. At another point, I was picking up a package of toilet paper, and a woman came up right next to me to get hers instead of waiting until there was space. Even though the store was relatively uncrowded, there was more of this kind of behavior the later it got. We went in for what we understood were the senior hours, but I think they’d been going for a while when we got there, because we thought we were early, but people were already leaving. I looked at Costco’s site beforehand, but their hours information was confusing.  On the way back, we went to the farm store to buy dog food and bird seed, and I picked up some asparagus roots. Five of the eight I planted last year are coming up, but five asparagus spears does not make a meal, and my sister says you can’t pick them all. Next year, I am going to devote an entire square of my little garden to asparagus.

Here’s my tomato unit in all its glory.

That was it this week for going out. However, my garden wagon arrived, so after Wayne put it together, I got my rolling tomato unit up and going. I haven’t actually moved them back to the front of the house since then. They’ve been on the back deck. But there, they are already getting a couple more hours of sunshine than they usually get in the garden. I think they might do a lot better this year. We’ll see.

Also on the garden front, my bed of mixed greens has progressed so well that last night I made salads from it. A nice change from the old iceberg lettuce, which Wayne has been buying like crazy lately.

The weather has been warm then cold then warm. Today it is supposed to be cool and rainy, and tomorrow it is supposed to get up in the 70’s. We had several very nice days toward the end of the week, so I mowed the orchard for the first time this year. It’s quite a job, about an acre and on about a 30-degree slant. I wish Wayne would mow it with his riding mower, but he won’t. All he mows with that blasted thing is the wolf pen, which is flat, and our pitifully small front yard, which I can do with the regular mower in about 15 minutes. He says he always feels like he is going to fall off the mower in the orchard, which leaves me to walk up and down it with the regular mower, an effort that usually takes me two days. The one time he did it with the riding mower, it took about 20 minutes. About once a summer, Ares comes over on his riding mower and does it for us. I suppose I should learn to use the riding mower, but I can hardly get up into it, although he had me do that a few days ago when he charged the battery, and I got up into it easier than I had before.

And speaking of Ares, he put in an order for some wood for projects for himself and also for my landscaping boxes. I am finally going to have boxes to plant ornamental trees, flowers, and bushes. He said he would do them for me our first winter here, but he obviously forgot. When I asked him if he might have time for them now, his work finally having slowed down a bit, he said he was just about to order wood and would put in an order for us, too. I saw him (from a distance) on Monday when I went by to drop off the check, and he said he was letting the wood sit until it was supposedly virus free and would be over to our house this weekend to build them. I’m so excited!

My exercise this week has been solely devoted to walks with Luke. On Tuesday, I took some cheese along so that I could bribe him to go in the direction of Katrina’s house, since he usually refuses to go that way. We popped up there to see if anyone was in the orchard. My sister was, and she gave me a tour of the garden. Then Katrina and Mischa came out of the house, and we all had a talk in the driveway. Mischa said it was really exciting to see someone else for a change. Søren was also out, but he was obsessed by not being touched by Luke for fear of getting the virus. We kept telling him that it would only be a problem if he petted Luke, but he mostly stayed away from us. I tried to get him to give Luke a command so that he would feel more in control, but he wouldn’t do it. However, Mischa told Luke to go down, and Luke did, and he stayed down until I let him up. Everyone was impressed, but Katrina joked that it only took us two years to get him to do that. (Actually, he could do that a year and a half ago.)

I worked a bit with a story that I wasn’t happy with, and then I got an idea for another story, or at least one friend suggested something to help with a problem with the story I was working with. So, I started that one, and I’m not happy with it either, but I figured out yesterday how to fix it.

On Friday my Literary Wives blogging group had a Jitsi meeting. I didn’t think Jitsi worked as well as Zoom, but maybe everything is just more overloaded now than last time we used Zoom. One person’s audio kept falling out, and I was unable to see myself in the video, just a static picture, so I wasn’t sure how well the others could see me. The last time Literary Wives did this was so long ago that only two of us were there at the time. It was nice to see and visit with everyone, and we are going to schedule another one after we do our posts. Our next posts are June 1, and we’re discussing The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

And that’s about it for this week.

A little variety to my week

Today in my county there are 250 positive cases of Covid-19 and 15 deaths. The number of people tested so far is 1616, which, if you remember last week, is the exact same number. In other words, not one more test has returned since last week. Since the county is updating these numbers daily during the week, that’s pretty pathetic. You know they have tested more people in a week, the tests just haven’t come back.

My week was highlighted by some nice, but careful, outings. Last Wednesday on a beautiful sunny day, Luke and I followed my sister’s car containing her and my niece’s family out to a location farther north that I’m not going to identify (you’ll see why) and met SIL Nancy for a hike. Nancy managed to find a spot to hike that was on private property belonging to a corporation, so technically, we probably were trespassing, but it was clear that people came there to hike.

Here is part of my family next to the lake. Not a soul was on the lake, since boating and fishing are not allowed right now.

There were four or five parking places outside a locked gate. We went over the gate and walked down a logging road to a nice meadow where Katrina, Ares, and the kids had lunch. Since there was nowhere to sit that I felt I could get up from, I just stood around at a distance. Nancy went off exploring one way, and Sue and Mischa went another. They said there was a waterfall nearby, but it sounded difficult to get to, and since I had Luke on a leash, I didn’t want him pulling me down. Sue and Nancy found a smaller path that led down to a nearby lake, and they all went down there and threw stones in the water for a while. I walked down to look at the lake but didn’t go down the last steep slope to get to it. All our family groups kept a distance, with Nancy way up ahead and me behind everyone.

It was a beautiful day and a nice walk of about three miles. When I left, they were going to go back to the meadow to look at the waterfall. It was nice to see everyone and get some sunshine. I promised everyone I wouldn’t blog about the hike on my hiking blog, because it is so difficult to find somewhere to go these days that is still open and isn’t crowded with people.

The next day, I happened to take Luke down to the orchard when Sue came walking by on her way to the mailboxes. I decided to walk with her even though I didn’t have Luke’s leash with me. This was my great experiment, because I’ve been wanting to be able to just go on a walk and take Luke without all the paraphernalia. Luke was very good. He stuck fairly close to us, although he went on ahead about 20 feet. Even when we came to Rosie’s house, and Rosie was out, he wouldn’t go up to play with her when I told him he could. Instead, he stuck with us up to the mailboxes, where we waited for Sue to get her family’s mail. Then we went back down the road, stopped to play with Rosie for a few minutes, and then walked Sue home.

Luke and I repeated the experiment two more times during the week, and it worked well, except for yesterday, when Luke refused to go down the road to Katrina’s house because a dog was playing with two girls in the yard at the corner. I tried to coax him down the road, especially because the dog wasn’t paying any attention to him, but he wouldn’t go, so we walked down the other road toward Maja’s house instead. He is very good. He comes when he is called and is used to coming and sitting next to me when a car comes by. He got so excited yesterday when he knew we were going for a walk that he bounced off me a couple of times, a practice I’ve been trying to discourage with little success. So, he’s obviously having more fun on our walks now, too.

Also on Thursday, I began working on a project that is new in a way. Over the past few years I have been thinking of an idea for a novel made up of short stories. I had started one story thinking it would be the first one, and then decided it would actually be the last, but I hadn’t finished it. Then I had written about a paragraph of a story I thought would be first. But on Thursday, I had an idea for a whole different dimension for the first story, and I sat down and wrote the whole thing in a couple of hours.

The next day, I had an idea for what I thought would be the second story, so I sat down and wrote it up. I was very happy with both stories and sent them off to a few people to read them. All of them said they were good.

On Saturday, I had an idea for another story that would turn out to be the actual second story, so I sat down and wrote that one. It more closely relates to what is now the third story and perhaps makes the third story more poignant.

On Sunday, I wrote the fourth story. I’m not as happy with that one, but when I looked at it again on Monday, I thought it was better than I remembered. I worked on it more on Monday.

Yesterday I wrote the fifth story. It’s not quite done yet. I need to write a bunch more stories, because what I have written so far would make a very short book. I only have two more in mind, but that will be my next task, to think of other situations for the other stories. It’s quite likely that my fifth story will appear later in the book, because I am going backwards in time.

With all this writing, I forgot about working on John’s book. He gave me a little nudge yesterday, so I finished another chapter of his book. This is what always happens to me when I get into writing. When I was still single and writing, I would come home from work every evening that I wasn’t teaching and work on my book. I would work on it during the weekends if I wasn’t doing something with my friends or correcting papers.

Back in those days, I still managed to keep my apartment, which was much smaller, clean. The house cleaning is pretty much going out the window this week, except for keeping the kitchen clean and doing the laundry. I meant to work on my floors this week, but haven’t had the time or the inclination.

Yesterday, I went out to pick up my grocery order. My theory that I would be more likely to get everything I ordered early in the week was borne out. Only two things got substituted instead of half the things in my last order, a week ago Saturday. However, they had no eggs at all, and I had been out of eggs for more than a week.

I stopped by Christine’s after the grocery store. We had planned it out beforehand. Usually she gives me coffee when I go there, but this time I brought my own, put on a rubber glove to let myself in through her back gate, and sat across the garden from her. It was really nice to see her. I made sure to only touch things, including Duchess, with my gloved hand. She is doing well, but she must be lonely, since she and Duchess live alone. Her older daughter has done drive-by waves, but her youngest daughter is too afraid of infecting her to even do that. I was very careful, because I’d hate to give her anything.

I have noticed that lots of people in the area have bushes of these flowers with the black centers in their yards. I hadn’t seen them before, but I think they are anemones. Here they are in my grandma’s jug on my cookbook bookshelf in the kitchen.

My last stop yesterday was at the produce market, which had eggs! Yay! Lots of eggs, so I bought two dozen. I bought some veggies and some pork chops and a bunch of spring flowers. I think they are anemones. The produce market doesn’t always have flowers, but when they do, they look like they are from someone’s garden rather than from a flower stand. I include a picture of them in my grandmother’s silver water jug for your enjoyment.

Battle Ground at this time of the year is gorgeous, with lots of flowering trees and flowers coming up everywhere. We are behind, so my daffodils are out, and in one day my crocuses all died, but our fruit trees haven’t flowered yet. Neither have my lilac bushes. In fact, they have never flowered. I fertilized them this year in the hopes that we would get some blossoms. Maybe they’re not old enough yet. I have no idea why they haven’t blossomed.

And speaking of plants, I’m beginning to worry that I won’t be able to buy my vegetable starts. I decided to try to buy them online this year, but everything I want is already gone on all the sites I can find. I understand that suddenly everyone has decided they need their own garden, but this is ridiculous. I will probably have to buy my starts at the farm store as I usually do, but I’m not sure when they will be there. I have checked online a couple of times. It seems it should be soon. I’m hoping I’ll be able to order them online and just go pick them up. They claim we can do that, but I’m not sure they’ll put the starts online.

I’ve had bad luck with tomatoes every year, so I was hoping to try a Siberian variety this year, but no such luck finding any. My niece has only managed tomatoes by having a greenhouse. I didn’t think I could afford one, but maybe we can put something together with plastic or something. Where to put it would be the question, since the logical place is by the garden, but the garden doesn’t get enough sun as it is.

Our weather has been gorgeous up to today, when it is raining a bit. A few days ago, I was sitting out under the green umbrella on the deck and decided I wouldn’t be as careful as I usually am about putting the umbrella down when I went back in. That was a mistake. On Monday, I wasn’t aware of strong breezes, but I happened to glance out the window and our table, which is a long wooden one with space for eight people, was tipped over onto some of the chairs and had clearly been dragged a few feet along the deck by the umbrella. I had to get Wayne to help me pull the umbrella out of the hole in the table, and the umbrella pole was a little bent. However, it still works, it’s just at a bit of an angle when you put it up, instead of straight. No big harm done, but from now on I’ll put the umbrella back down!

I have spotted the ducks in the pond several times this week.

 

A more ordinary week

This week, Nancy asked if we wanted to go on a six-mile, moderate hike in Yacolt Burn, but I told her we had decided to do something super easy because I was recovering from being sick. Maja had already planned a harder hike with her on Tuesday. But Maja ended up getting sick, so she cancelled that hike and our Wednesday hike. Wayne had been supposed to take Luke to the groomer while I was hiking, but since I wasn’t hiking and Wayne was having back problems, I took Luke to the groomers. He looks very pretty now.

On Thursday, we had our people training for using Luke’s e-collar. It was amazing. One of the things Luke always does on the leash, even with a prong collar, is pull as hard as he can, despite me using the correction with the collar (a short jerk). I spent most of the time after learning about the controls walking around with Luke on his leash. He walked right next to me and didn’t pull on the leash at all. The only problem with this is that he seems to think he only has to do that at Enzo’s, so yesterday I took him down the road on his leash, and he did very well. I will have to do more practicing.

It was my birthday on Friday, and Wayne gave me a backup device (yippee! not!) and a nice Aran cardigan. The only reason I got a nice sweater was that I circled it in the catalog along with the color and size. I haven’t worn it yet, because I want to make sure that Luke has completely stopped jumping on me first. He would have it in snags in no time.

That day, I went over to Christine’s and we walked our dogs and had coffee. I always enjoy visiting Christine. She gave me a little jam container that I can use for tea parties.

My only birthday requirement is not to have to cook dinner, so we tried out a Szechuan restaurant in Vancouver that was opened by some Portland restaurateurs. I had the personal hotpot with lamb and broccoli added (it comes with tofu and leeks, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and wood ear) and for an appetizer, the Szechuan wontons in special sauce, which looked delicious in the picture on the menu. The hotpot was hot without having much other flavor. The sauce needed something. However, the wontons were fabulous. I ended up dumping some of my special sauce into the hotpot, which improved it. We will go there again, because Wayne’s food was also good, and good Chinese restaurants are few and far between here in Battle Ground and Vancouver. In fact, the ones we have been to in Battle Ground are horrible, and before this one we only found one mediocre one and one bad one in Vancouver.

Luke did much better in his Saturday class with the e-collar on.

On Sunday, my niece and her family and my sister took us to Portland for a birthday dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. Yum! I am sure I gained five pounds, but I haven’t checked because there was no Weight Watchers meeting on Monday. After we stuffed ourselves to the gills with Ethiopian food, we went to Powell’s for about 45 minutes before taking ourselves off to Salt and Straw, Portland’s decadent ice cream parlor. Weight Watchers just went out the window. Several of our party tried an a salted caramel ice cream with bits of crispy turkey fat in it. It was really good, even though it sounds horrible. I just stuck to plain salted caramel.

That’s really about all of note for this week except that on my birthday, I also heard from my brother Steve, who lives in Seattle. He said that our cousin Amy, whom he had briefly visited when he took his oldest daughter down to school in L. A., was coming up for Christmas. I haven’t seen my cousin Amy since she was a little girl and I was in college. She lives in Spain, where she is a French hornist in an orchestra. She married an Icelandic man, Petúr, who was also in the orchestra. Sadly, her husband died last year, still young. She was invited to L. A. by a friend whose husband also recently died. So, she’ll be coming to visit Steve and co., and then they will bring her down here, along with her youngest son. Or, since Steve’s family is very disorganized, she may come here and they will come down later. My brother John and his wife Lucie know her, and they will be here, so it won’t matter which way it happens.

Finally, we’re started planning a non-Thanksgiving dinner for the Sunday after the holiday. I am hosting. We’ll see how everything works 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.

Stalker Rosie

I got so involved in telling about Luke and Rosie last week that I forgot to post the pictures I took for that week’s blog. They were of the flowers that are finally starting to appear in our orchard. Down in the valley, flowering trees are in bloom and daffodils are all over the place, but we are just enough higher in altitude for blooming to be later.

Here were my two daffodils just before Luke bit the flower off one of them. Now I have about half a dozen in bloom with more coming out every day.

So, here they are. First, there is a little story about this picture of the first larger daffodils to appear in my orchard. I have planted them around the roots of most of my fruit trees, and I plant more every fall. I went out one day last week and finally two were in bloom. Luke tends to be jealous of my phone. I guess he thinks if I’m using it, I’m not looking at him. So, I took this picture, and exactly two seconds later, Luke bit the top off one of the daffodils. I guess he’s jealous of my flowers, too.

My orange crocuses are looking lovely. Only one of the purple ones came out from this batch that I planted last fall.

The other photo I took was of some orange crocuses that came out (and one purple one). The crocuses that bloomed earlier this spring were very tiny, but these are larger and much more dramatic. This is the first year I planted orange crocuses, and they look lovely. My sister has suggested I plant the entire orchard in crocuses. I actually intended to do that with daffodils, but now maybe I’ll do a mixture.

The saga of Rosie, the Newfoundland puppy, and Luke continues. Actually, she came over almost every day last week and sometimes more than once a day. Last Tuesday morning, we were just driving out when Rosie came up our driveway. I’m afraid Wayne honked at her and scared her, but she kept moving down the driveway in front of us at a slow walk, rather than moving off the driveway.

On Friday morning, I was looking forward to a nice sleep in, as it was the only day I didn’t have to get up for anything. At 6:30, however, Luke began barking, which is unusual for him now that he is older. (He used to bark in the morning if he woke up and Wayne was out of bed.) I finally gave up trying to sleep and got up about 7 and took him out. There were wet doggie footprints going down the driveway. I guess he knew Rosie was in the yard.

Later that day, we were working on whacking down the blackberry vines from the slope behind the house. Luke was rooting around and chewing sticks like he usually does when we are working. When no one is outside, he does nothing, but as long as someone is outside with him, he goes around doing his things, keeping us in view and checking in once in a while (by which I mean he comes bouncing down and practically knocks me over). Then I saw a boy start up our driveway. I realized right away that he was looking for Rosie, who was apparently up by the house. I called Rosie, and next thing I knew, she was chasing Luke at full speed around the orchard. Again, it was hard to tell if he was having fun.

He looked so exhausted that every once in a while we would let him into the wolf pen, which Rosie couldn’t get into, and when he got his breath back he would come back out. (Wayne has taken part of the fence down but put a blockade at that opening that Luke can get over, just not very fast.) We decided that they were playing, although Rosie was doing all the chasing.

After a while, the boy took Rosie home. (I was inclined to think he might be our doorbell ringer, except he looked a little too young. Wayne told me that later two boys came back to get Rosie when she came back over, and one was a little older, so I guess that’s our ghost. Ever since being caught, he hasn’t come back.) Later, when Luke was in the house, Rosie came back, and he barked at her so viciously that I thought, maybe he doesn’t like her. So, I didn’t let him back out but took him into another part of the house.

Then on Sunday we were outside again and Rosie showed up, followed shortly by our neighbor. This dog is his grandchildren’s, and he is about our age or maybe slightly younger. He apologized for Rosie bothering us and said they were putting up an electric fence. He said they were digging the trench right now but the fence hadn’t actually arrived yet. He also told us that she had been dragging back the possessions of some of our other neighbors, so apparently, she likes to visit everyone.

We let the two dogs play, and this time they were trading being dominant; that is, he was climbing up on her back occasionally to show her he was the boss, then she would chase him around. They seemed to be okay, though. If Rosie is locked in her yard, we’ll have to take Luke over every once in a while to visit her. We haven’t seen her at all since Sunday, so maybe they got the fence up.

Luke was promoted to Relationship Class on Saturday, which surprised me because he had not been on his best behavior in Wednesday’s class.In fact, he’d been breaking his downs, his place, and his sits. It seems as if the last month or so, he’s been testing to see if I actually make him do the things he knows perfectly well how to do. Dawn told me he was promoted at the beginning of class. Then he proceeded to behave the same way, just not as bad. At the end of the class, she amended her statement to say that they would try him in Relationship Class. We went to our first class on Monday, and I thought he was even worse than he has been lately. However, she said it was his first class and not to worry about it. It was definitely harder than regular obedience class. (Interestingly enough, he was much better behaved when we went to Relationship Class a few months ago and got kicked out.)

For our hike last week, we returned to the local Lewisville Park and took a short hike, because we were meeting our friend Shawn for lunch. She was in a car accident the week before, and she has been having to go to the chiropractor since then. She was hit from behind when she was stopped at a light. Oddly enough, my other hiking friend was in an accident the week before that, only she wasn’t hurt. She ran into the back of a stopped truck.

Wayne and I still haven’t worked on our budget. I have asked him several times, but first the weather was too nice to waste (it was lovely the last few days of last week), and lately he hasn’t felt well. I had hoped to have it settled by the beginning of April so that we would know where we were. Probably, we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing later this week, which is going to stay a couple nights at Quinault Lodge for our anniversary. (Of course, it’s supposed to rain all weekend, whereas the end of last week was gorgeous.) I could still cancel, but we haven’t gone anywhere together for years, so even if it puts us more in debt, I want to do it. We can tighten the belt in other ways. Also, I want Luke to get used to boarding as it is not always convenient to have to take your dog everywhere you go (although I know some people prefer to do that). This has been our first occasion to need boarding. He is staying with his dog trainers, so hopefully he won’t be scared. He seems to be scared of everything at first look. Wayne said he ran away from a rabbit the other day.

Wayne says we have more than two ducks in the pond, although I have only seen two myself. I have seen them swimming around in it, and one day when I went down to the orchard, they flew off, even though I was still fairly far away. Another day, I was sitting on the bench by the pond when they came in for a landing. The male landed, but the female saw me and flew off. Then the male noticed that something was wrong and took off too. Wayne thinks that the other ducks must be their children for them to allow them on the pond, but I’m not so sure that ducks do that. I know that eagles will bring back their offspring for a couple years after its birth, but I don’t know about ducks.

In art class, I have finished my painting, all but painting the edges. I have been framing and hanging my paintings, but this one is square, and I realized that it was going to have to be custom framed. My instructor suggested that if I had painted the edges, I could just hang the canvas. So, better late than never. I had never thought of that, but I noticed that my sister thoughtfully painted the edges of her painting that she just finished. It’s not a race, I know, but she did hers in about a month, and I have been working on mine for about four months. I won’t be in art class this week, but the week after, I should be able to post a picture of it.

 

 

The return of the trespassing puppies

Yesterday morning, when I went out with Luke, it was cool, but there was not a cloud in the sky. We were playing ball when I heard a faint cry of geese and started looking for them. Geese have flown over the house recently; in fact, we think some may have spent the night on our pond. Wayne said he saw them early in the morning, apparently leaving. Another day, a few flew low, right over the house. But this time, they were high, a large V of geese, so high up that I could barely hear them and they were no larger than little dots high in the sky.

It has been wet, after a series of cool clear days followed by warmer rainy ones. I have not felt compelled to water my garden after the first few days, when it was dry. Yesterday was gorgeous, though. Today is cold and cloudy, and it’s supposed to rain later on.

Here’s the waterfall in Lacamas Park. It falls from a fish strainer or fish ladder. I’m not sure which it was.

On another gorgeous day, my sister accompanied me and my neighbor on our Wednesday hike, where we discovered Lacamas River Park, a delightful park in Camas. The trails were challenging enough, and the scenery was beautiful. This is a great park for the area, really large, with places to relax, picnic tables, little beaches, as well as a series of great hiking trails. If you’re interested, there is more on the hike on Fat Girls.

We had a great time and discovered a nice brew pub in Camas for lunch.

The vicinity is going to get crowded with my relatives, it looks like. My niece’s husband, who is an appraiser, spent part of Sunday with a realtor looking at our neighbors’ house to estimate a value for my oldest brother and his wife to make a bid on it. In addition, when I told my second oldest brother that my oldest brother was moving to the county, he told me that he and his wife had decided to move there, too, when they retire. We have known this decision was up in the air, as my sister-in-law’s family live in the Montreal area. They have been trying to decide which direction to move to for some years. This should be interesting, because there has been a bit of an estrangement between those two brothers over the past few years. No one understands why, including one of the brothers. I think it’ll be okay, though. I am delighted my younger brother and his wife are moving here.

Thursday was my niece’s first day in art class. My sister had paved the way by telling the instructor what a good artist she is and how much she has painted in the past, but Katrina said she had no actual instruction and was happy to start at the beginning. However, the instructor decided to start her right out with a painting after looking at some of her work. I thought, actually, that Katrina would have been just as happy to start with drawing, but my sister is notoriously impatient, so maybe the instructor thought my niece would be, too. I know that after my sister returned to classes, she had many arguments with the instructor (about having to do a few pastels before moving into painting, about the quality of her pastels, about whether to return to acrylics or go into oils) until an aha moment, and since then, she has just followed Sarah’s suggestions.

I have had another bad discovery of a financial nature. Now, my husband and I are going to finally do what we should have been doing for years, sit down and discuss a budget.

On Sunday, I was working in my office when I heard Luke barking hysterically. Now, ever since the appearance of the Newfoundland puppy on our property, he has been prone to bark at nothing. In fact, I would say that he’s been barking at nothing all along, and by nothing I mean robins, leaves blowing in the wind, and so on. Since the puppy appeared, however, he has been barking more frequently at nothing. (Although my brother-in-law wisely pointed out to me that he might be barking at something I can’t see or smell but he can.) Hysterical barking isn’t usual, though, unless the UPS truck is here or someone else drove up. I went to the window. Across from our living room is a landscaped ridge up to the top of our property. The property line runs right along our driveway and up to the top of the ridge, where it moves out a bit, allowing us to have a small area with a bench on it. When I looked out the window, I immediately saw a large black head looking at us from the other side of the fence at the top of the ridge across from the house.

I know it’s not a good idea to introduce a dog to another dog on its own property, but I thought it might be a good idea for Luke to have a friend, and I knew that this puppy, while three times bigger than Luke, is about his same age. So, I tried to get Luke to come up the stairs to the top of the ridge, where there is a walk-through in the fence to the neighbor’s property. He wouldn’t go but stood in the front yard barking hysterically. The puppy, by the way, is female, and her name is Rosie, I found out yesterday.

However, when I went to the gap in the fence, the Rosie galumphed right through and proceeded to run down the steps to Luke. Luke was not a happy camper. I thought he might settle down—after all, he plays with other puppies several times a week at Puppy Play and Train—but he was snarling and growling, so eventually I took him inside.

Rosie did not leave, however, but continued to galumph around the yard while Luke barked at her from inside. Finally, I put Luke on a leash and took him back out. This time, perhaps because I clearly was friendly with Rosie, he barked but did not growl or snarl. After a bit, I let him off the leash, and they began to play, I think, but you know that puppies are rough, and Rosie hasn’t been taught, like Luke has, to play nice. She was so much bigger than Luke that she was chasing him around the yard, and Luke didn’t seem to be having much fun. So, I took Luke back in. Rosie disappeared shortly after that.

Yesterday I took Luke down the road to see if there was any news about the house my oldest brother is interested in. We don’t walk down there very often, because Luke is so scared of the older across-the-road dog (whom he’s never met) that he is afraid to walk past their property down the road. It takes plenty of encouragement from me.

Anyway, I found out that the value my niece’s husband, Ares, put on it is one that the realtor agrees with and one that fits my brother’s budget, so all is well so far. Also, the house is in a lot better shape than we expected, although it needs a new roof.

While I was talking to Ares, the puppy from that house came over. Ares says it comes over all the time and plays with another neighbor’s dog at their house. (Ironic, since they have no dogs, because my niece is allergic. When I take Luke over there, we never go inside.) Luke had met this dog before, so after some initial barking and smelling, he seemed okay with him. That puppy, I think he’s named Eddie, followed us all the way home. When we got to our property, I let Luke off leash, and the dogs started chasing each other around. The only thing I didn’t like was that they ran into the road a few times (Luke is not supposed to go on the road without a human) and that puppy climbed into our water feature (a little waterfall) several times for a drink. I don’t want Luke getting in there, because we haven’t cleaned it up, so the water is dirty, and his fur is so long that it’ll be awful getting him cleaned up, whereas that puppy is a golden retriever with shortish fur. I had to help the puppy, who seems to be quite a few months younger than Luke, get back up out of the fountain, which is dug down into the hillside.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and after about 20 minutes of rambunctiousness, I took Luke into the house. I think the puppy went home almost immediately.

Then yesterday evening, Luke was outside by himself. When he goes outside by himself, he doesn’t do anything, just sits on the porch and waits for someone to come out. After a while, I realized he was barking hysterically again, and I looked out and there was Rosie in the yard. I let him into the house and took him back out on a leash, but his reaction to Rosie is not the same as to the other dog. He was definitely afraid of Rosie, so I took him back inside. He continued to bark at her, outside in the yard looking into our windows, for some time.

After about 20 minutes, she was still looking into our living room windows, so I went out and walked her home. I went up to the door, because I was fairly sure that if I just got her to her property and turned around, she would follow me home. I told her owners about seeing her on the busy main road, and they talked about putting in an electric fence. Then they mentioned maybe going for a walk together with the dogs in the hopes they would become friends. They also invited me to bring Luke over anytime, thinking maybe he wouldn’t be so upset if he was at her house. Finally, I started to leave, and I heard the neighbor calling the dog, who last I knew was in the house. But there Rosie was, trotting down the driveway after me. I had to turn around and walk back up the driveway and finally catch her for the neighbor. I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing more of Rosie.

 

Dog tired

Last week was part of a couple weeks of dense smoke in the area, first from the fires in the gorge and Oregon, and then, after the wind shifted, from the fires up in British Columbia. Those were the worst—you could actually smell the smoke and the air quality was very bad. It was also hot, so last Wednesday, we relocated our weekly hike to the shopping mall. I have to say that it was not a very satisfying way to get exercise. Aside from not having the beauties of nature to look at and the toughness of some of the terrain, we made lots of stops to look into store windows and really weren’t that into it. After we made a few laps of the stores, we stopped and had coffee and then went out to lunch. I didn’t even bother to figure out how many miles we went, if we even went more than a mile. We did notice a tai chi class down on the first floor that I mean to find out about. The tai chi I’ve been doing at the Y isn’t really regular tai chi. It’s called tai chi for balance, and it incorporates some moves into other exercises. I am frankly more interested in straight tai chi. A woman watching told us it was there Mondays and Thursdays, and later we realized that she must be mistaken, as we were there on a Wednesday.

The Y pool is still closed, so no more water exercise until it opens.

Getting back to the weather, though, on Friday a cold front came in and chased all the smoke away. It went from being too hot to being a little too cold, just as if summer were suddenly gone. I had to go back to wearing two shirts, especially on Sunday, when it rained all day long. But don’t get me wrong, we needed the rain and I’m not complaining. I like cold better than heat. Yesterday it was beautiful out, still a bit cool and sunny, with gorgeous clouds. Today it is supposed to be a bit hotter than we would like, but then it’s supposed to cool down again.

I am frankly really tired. It seems as if our little Luke is never going to get house trained. As soon as he seems to have a handle on things, he has an accident. Or, we take him outside for a long time and then he comes in and pees. It’s wearing, even if you’re not doing much of anything, to have to keep an eye on him at all times. Plus, we’ve been taking turns sleeping with him in the guest room until he gets trained. This has been partly to restrict his movements and partly to keep him out of Hillary’s hair. So far, they have only had glimpses of each other, because Hillary stays in our bedroom and he stays out. My husband has told me, though, that I don’t have to sleep with Luke anymore, since I don’t sleep when I am in that bed and he does.  Last night was my first night when I didn’t have to worry about being on puppy patrol.

He looks like I feel.

He also has this thing he does of suddenly becoming frantic and trying to bite me. I haven’t figured out what to do about this yet. Giving him a cookie instead of letting him bite me was working okay yesterday until late in the afternoon. Other advice was to yip and let my hand go limp if he did bite me, but that didn’t seem to work at all. My right arm is all over bruises. My brother recommends buying a squirt gun, and I may have to do that, because it’s a little scary even when he is this small. We have bought him plenty of toys to chew on but handing him one of those doesn’t really deflect him. He is starting puppy classes on Saturday, and I hope that will help.

That’s about all that’s been going on. It’s hard to get any work done around the house when you have to keep an eye on the dog at all times. I will be glad when things return to normal around here, if that’s ever going to happen.