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.

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.

More snow and work around the house

Fat flakes of snow on Sunday
Fat flakes of snow on Sunday

We haven’t had any snow on the property for the last two weeks, so what was our surprise when we started to get big fat flakes of snow on Sunday morning. This is what the trees on our property looked like by late in the morning. If you look at the railing on the deck, you can see it is still snowing. I think my husband is already sick of the snow, but I love it. Of course, today it is raining. We still have snow, but it should be gone in a couple of days.

We have been dealing with contractors for months now. The first job we had done was to get new carpet into the basement in November. They took all the doors down in the basement, so we had to add a project to our regular contractor’s list to get the doors cut down and rehung. Then we had peace until January.

My semi-finished office
My semi-finished office

First our contractor, Dustin, came back and rehung the doors in time for our friend’s visit. Then later his guys laid a hearth for our new wood stove and ripped out some cheap and poorly installed shelving in my office and replaced it. It is unpainted yet, but much more sturdy.

Our stairwell so far
Our stairwell so far

The next project was to replace our scary spiral staircase. This staircase has such a tight wind and is so narrow that you can’t bring very much up or down the stairs with you, so we have been having to cart things clear around the house and down the lower driveway. It is also very slippery and not safe for a couple of geezers like me and my husband. It was pretty and left us a nice big living room, but we decided to replace it with a normal staircase. The stairs are installed, and today the sheet rock guys are here to fill in the sheet rock. They got here before 7:30! We are used to our regular contractor, who usually arrives between 8 and 8:30.

His ladder was too short
His ladder was too short

And, last Wednesday we finally got our wood stove installed! We have been burning stuff ever since. It is a lovely stove. It took the guys all day to install it, and one of them had to climb up into the attic from our bedroom, which is on one end of the house, and crawl all the way up inside our chalet roof ceiling to make the hole for the chimney.

So, that’s what has been going on lately. On Thursday the guy comes to install our new gutters, which have been leaking profusely. He is a nice guy, especially considering that our dog bit him when he came out to do the bid.