Painting progress

This morning about seven I sneaked down to the pond hoping to see some ducklings. My husband has seen them, but I have not. Even though I was very quiet, I got about halfway down the last path and the mama duck took off from the pond. I sat on the bench hoping she would return, but she did not, so I went back up and watered my garden.

Here is my garden with tomato and eggplant supports and a bean tower just visible in the back.

My neighbor told me last week that I could plant salad greens around my cabbages and so maximize the space. So, last week I bought some seed for a lettuce and a spring mix and I planted them around the cabbages. The package says to sow the seeds every two weeks. In just a few weeks, we should have salad greens!

I spent some time last week putting up tomato and eggplant supports and a bean ladder. So far, though, there is no sign of my beans, and I am beginning to wonder if all four of my bean seeds failed. Everything else is doing well. We took a gamble that the deer don’t know about the garden yet and planted everything without putting a fence up. We did this mostly because of an argument about the type of fencing needed. My husband is gung ho to move some of our chain link fencing up from the wolf pen (but not gung ho enough to actually work on it). I don’t think anything that permanent is needed. I  just want to put up some stakes and chicken wire as a visual barrier against the deer. The fact that the beds are raised and have a short fence as part of them will keep the rabbits out. There is also the question, should I just go ahead and buy some fencing, of whether to fence in the little patio. That seems unfriendly to me, but the beds are abutting right up against the paving stones in the front, so it doesn’t seem like there will be an easy way to put the fencing in the front. If we had thought to move the bed back an inch there wouldn’t be a problem.

In any case, I hadn’t seen a deer on our property for about a year, when last night my husband and I stepped out onto the deck to see if we could spot the ducks in the pond. On the slope below our house was a young deer in the grass, which unfortunately at this time is about two or three feet high. We still haven’t figured out a permanent solution for keeping it cut down, as the slope is too steep for the lawn mower and even for us to weed whack it. I was sorry that we scared the deer away. I would have liked her to eat more of the grass. I immediately went over to the garden to see if deer were up there, but they were not. It was odd to see a lone deer. Usually the doe has them in pairs. There were four sisters that were running around last year, and she had two more this spring. My guess is that the one we saw was from the pair born last year.

Here is one corner of the newly painted guest room. The furniture was my mom’s before she died.

Actually, we are starting to talk goats to take care of our grass problem. Our tenants used to have goats, and he kept the property very neat by just herding them around, tapping them with a stick when they tried to eat something that they didn’t want them to. I told my husband that if he got the wolf pen back in some shape to receive them, we could have both goats and chickens in that enclosure. Right now just the entrance is down, but our intention is to move the pen over to the right so that it doesn’t impinge on our view from the deck everywhere you look. Of course, I can’t see either of us herding goats around the property like Randy did, but maybe we can get some movable fencing or something.

Here is another corner of the room, near the sliding door that goes outside.

As for my painting, I have finished the guest room, and it looks very nice. It is a bright spring green, just as I planned, and it makes me feel cheerful just to look at it. Although I made some mistakes, the painting job isn’t too bad for an amateur. It took me some time to reinstall all of the socket and light switch covers. I counted, and there are 15 of them in that room! Not only that, but it’s difficult to remember which switches turn on which lights, because the switches are located with absolutely no regard to where the light is. You can go around the room trying to find the switch for a particular light and it will be clear across the room from the light. In only one case does a switch actually work the light that is nearest to it.

I also started the bathroom yesterday by taping the two walls I’m going to paint and putting on the first coat. If I have time today, what with our hike, I will put the last coat on. Then all we have to do is install the tiles that I bought to finish the wall above the sink. It’s a good thing I’m almost done, because my friend arrives the Monday after next.

Last week, we had a fun hike. My sister invited my niece and her family, and we went an hour later than usual because my niece home-schools the kids on the mornings that they don’t go to school. We went back to the Tarbell Trail and took it toward a camp ground. It was quite steep in places and all the way down at one point, which of course meant I had to walk all the way back uphill. However, I didn’t do too badly. Elevation is still something I have trouble handling. On the way, we did a lot of plant identification, as my great-niece has been having lessons in it every week, my niece is knowledgeable about native plants, and so is my neighbor. Even my four-year-old great-nephew knew some of the plants. The most ignorant person on the hike was me! My problem is someone tells me the name of the plant and the next time I see it, I have no idea what it is.

I keep thinking I am going to finish my painting in art class. I have gotten to the point where I am tired of it, but my teacher keeps finding little things to touch up. I can’t really tell whether I am finished or not. My teacher dismayed me this week by telling me I would be done in one or two weeks! I thought I was going to be done this week!

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Critters and paint

My husband went to bed early the other evening, so around eight I went down to the pond. I walked down very quietly so as not to disturb any wildlife that may be down there. Over the past few days, we’ve noticed a pair of woodpeckers who have their nest in a hole up high in the dead tree near our bench. One day when we were down there, they were taking turns popping in and out of the hole. The next day, though, they wouldn’t trade places while we were there, so we left them to it and went back up to the house.

I had barely sat down on the bench that evening when I heard a sound. I couldn’t tell if it was munching or drinking. It sounded like it was just over to my right, so I stood up with the idea of walking down the path closer to the pond to see what it was. As soon as I stood up, I could see a sizable animal at the place where the path meets the pond eating ferns and other greenery. He was concentrating so hard on his eating that he never noticed me, even though I watched him for about ten minutes. He was in full view, and it made me wish I had my phone with me, although a picture probably would have looked like a brown blob in a green blob.

I didn’t have a picture for you today, so here’s a picture from the Canadian Encyclopedia of a beaver. I haven’t actually seen ours head on, just in profile or in the water swimming far out in the pond.

What I was trying to do was see whether he was a beaver or a muskrat, but I couldn’t see his tail for the longest time, until he slipped back into the water and started to swim away. Then I crept down the rest of the path and was able to see his wide tail. A beaver! He swam away to the left side of the pond giving no indication of whether he knew I was there or not.

Most of this week I have been working on painting the bedroom. I have one more wall to go and then part of the bathroom. Each day I have either taped the next wall or touched up the last wall and painted the next wall. I’m slow, I know, but there have been some days I haven’t had time to work on it.

One of those days was last Sunday when I thought it would be a nice break to help my husband stain the railings for the outside steps that were put up last year. We have three sets of steps: one from the main house level up to the ridge above our house, one from the main house level down to the lower drive behind the house at basement level, and one from that level down to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. We decided to start with the lowest set of steps, which is also the longest.

We had a little spat before we started. We had driven in to town that morning to buy sand paper and stain. We got home around 11. It was supposed to be a hot day, in the high 80’s, but at 11 it was still only in the 70’s. My husband decided to eat lunch then, even though he usually doesn’t eat it until 1 or 2. An hour and a half later, I had been waiting for him for an hour while it got hotter and hotter outside, and he was still sitting there doing a crossword puzzle. I told him I was going to go down and get started but I wasn’t going to sand because I hate sanding. He got upset and started lecturing me about my “work standards” (which, by the way, I was known for when I was working, my good ones, not my poor ones). I told him it wasn’t that I didn’t want to do the work right, just that I wanted to do it before it got to be 100 degrees outside. So, we got the stain and went down.

This was a different type of activity than painting walls, to be sure, but I hadn’t reckoned with how much bending there would be. I have never been diagnosed with a back problem, but I have a very stiff lower back and neck. I think this is because my family has a big problem with rounded backs and dowager humps (my dad’s spine looked almost like an S), and I have been conscious of my posture as a result. My neck is fastened to my spine at an angle, so I already know I have a tendency toward it, and I have been forcing myself to stand up straight my whole life. As a result, as I am older, my back hurts after certain activities, and apparently bending over to paint railings is one of them. After I had only finished one railing section, my back was hurting.

My husband sanded the rails in about 10 minutes and then he began staining higher up the steps ahead of me, I guess with the idea that when I got to where he started, we would be done. However, of nine sections of railing, he gave me five to do. Then he began staining at an incredible speed. I had barely finished two of my sections and he was almost done. I couldn’t figure out how he could go so fast, except that I was occasionally stopping to rest my back (but not that often!). I still had more than two sections to do when he announced he was finished and left! Remember, I was helping him. I was upset about this, but I decided I was going to finish my sections and then go lay down and rest my back. After I had finished the third section, my husband came back down through the orchard, moved up past me and started on the last section. So I only had to do one more.

The mystery of his quick work was solved, though, later in the day after the stain dried. I walked down the steps and saw that he had completely missed large patches of his part of the rail, including half of the back side of one section. That’s how he got done so quickly. He has not yet gone down and fixed those patches, and I’m beginning to think that after I finish painting my room, I will have to do it, because he’ll forget. My part of the railing was covered completely. So much for work standards.

On the walking front, my sister and I had an eventful outing, although we didn’t get much walking done last week. She had an idea of where we could walk in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. So, we drove out there looking for a trail head she thought she knew of. We never found the trail head, and we drove and drove through the forest and eventually ended up on state land. All around the national forest are large patches of state land. I’m not sure which one we were in. Finally we found a trail head for the Tarbell trail. At that point, she acted as if that was what she had been looking for, but later she showed me a trail on a map that turned out to be for off-road vehicles. She has misread the map and thought it was a hiking trail. We got out a couple of times and did a little hiking, but only about 20 minutes each time because we had done so much driving. Finally, we decided to go back to the Tarbell trail this week.

After that, we drove up to Chelatchie, where there is a ranger station for Mt. St. Helens, with the intention of getting hiking maps. We ended up with some maps, but we found that neither of them was very good for hiking. One of them was strictly for vehicle use, although it was very detailed, and the other showed the hiking trails but hardly any of the trail heads. My sister knows there is a better hiking map available because she used to have one. We may have to go to the ranger station in Stevenson to find it.

Last week, my niece gave me some starts for squash, cherry tomatoes, and an artichoke. The next day, I went out and found an eggplant and two tomato starts and then I planted all the rest of my plants, including some pole beans from seed. Everything is doing well. My peas are now about four or five inches tall. One of the tomatoes already needs a tomato ladder, so I put one up. I expect I’ll be putting up the other tomato support and the eggplant support next week. The beans haven’t peeked out yet, but it hasn’t even been a week since they were planted.

My niece and sister have invited us on a family outing in late June to the San Juan Islands. Of course, my husband has refused the invitation, but I am going to go. I have always wanted to see the San Juan Islands. After the kids go back, my sister and I are going to dawdle around on the Olympic Peninsula for a bit.

Sunshine! Plants and burnt sugar

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

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

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

The Great Blue Heron checking out the grass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A soggy week

It has been cold and rainy all week, but I think we might get a break. The forecast on my phone (which is the only reliable one, since our weather on TV is for Portland, not only an hour away but down in the valley) says that today, for once, there will be no rain and the next three days will be sunny. I hope to be able to get out and finally plant our plum tree, which I bought last month.

I am itching to get started on my garden, but we can’t plant our starts (I say we because my niece and sister will be starting their garden, too) until there is no chance of frost. I have been making a list of all the vegetables I want to try to grow, plus tomatoes and rhubarb.

My raised beds with their attached patio and the shelfless garden shed in the background. We’re planning on putting a walkway around the side with the extra patio bricks we have lying around, and a compost pile back behind it. This is all right next to the side of the driveway.

My husband was working for a few days on a plastic garden shed for my tools. It is up next to the little patio by my garden, but I think he intended it more for a place to put his cans of gasoline (he won’t put them in the garage like everyone else I know does), because he hasn’t put any shelves into it. I have to wait for shelves before I can put my garden tools and gloves in it.

Last week, we finally went out to a movie. We saw A Quiet Place, and it was very scary. Excellent acting, too, although ridiculously fake sign language. My husband said the setup had serious logical flaws. He didn’t believe the aliens could have eaten almost everyone in the world because the army would have figured out their weakness before being wiped out. Actually, it was sort of ridiculous to believe the army couldn’t have wiped them out without knowing their weakness, but I don’t worry about things like that. I just enjoy the moment.

My neighbor and I went back to Moulton Falls State Park for our walk last week because it was wet and the park has a nice paved path. It is also very quiet and beautiful. We went 3.6 miles according to my Fitbit. Afterwards, we went out for Mexican food.

On Friday night, my great-niece attended another belt testing for tae kwon do, where she moved up from yellow belt to green stripe belt. It’s funny to see the boys when the students are all waiting for their belts. The girls, for the most part, are standing there quietly waiting for their turn or waiting to be dismissed if they already got their belts. They are supposed to be standing in a respectful position. The boys (and one girl) are twisting and turning, rocking back and forth, whispering to their neighbors. You can tell that some of them cannot stand still. I have to hand it to my great-niece. She stood perfectly still, and she makes a point to always bow when entering or leaving the mat and to sit on the floor waiting in the position he tells them to assume, while the others are wiggling around and giggling. She takes this stuff very seriously. I took her to her first class as a green stripe belt on Saturday morning, where she volunteered to demonstrate a move to the yellow and yellow stripe belts.

At Weight Watchers for only the second time I gained a little weight. I thought I might go over the 20-pound weight loss line but instead gained. I guess that’s not surprising given the dissipated weekend I had in Ashland!

In art class I have finished the background to my landscape and now I am finally working on the foreground. I am thinking of changing classes to later because the number of children in our class forces the teacher to spent a much larger proportion of her time with them. They are all fairly young except for one teenage girl, and there are two little girls who are very young, one of whom speaks mostly Russian. The other little girl wants Alina’s constant attention. Alina will give her something to do and she will do it in a few minutes and then go back over to her and tell her she is finished. In addition, there are now three squirmy little boys about the same age. Last week, they sat together next to me and they were very disruptive, even though one of them is very serious about working on his art. This week, the most disruptive one sat on the other side of class, which was much better. We are down to only two adults in our class! Before we had four, but one older woman quit and another one took a break.

If I change to the later class, though, I won’t get home until nine o’clock at night , and it’s a long drive in the dark across all those country roads. My sister is talking about rejoining the class, in which case I will most likely have to change again to be in the same class as her, so for now, I am waiting to see if she rejoins and what her new work schedule will be like.

We think it’s spring, but maybe not

I’ll start out by telling you about something I forgot from last week. It was a date with my nine-year-old great niece for a sleepover in “her” bedroom. She wanted to bake, and although this did not accord with my Weight Watchers regime, we made mug cakes and peach pie. We started with the peach pie, which she claimed she had never had. I had her help with every step, including making a lattice top, to show her how easy it is. We used peaches that I bought last summer and froze. Then while it was baking, we made the mug cakes. Since she made me one, I of course had to eat it, and then we all had pie. I just had a narrow slice of it, no more than an inch wide, although it pained me to do so, and then we sent it home with her the next day (although by then my husband and great niece had eaten half of it). We finished off the evening with some brisk games of dominoes.

By the way, I joined Weight Watchers with my sister, and we are both doing well. I have lost more than 15 pounds since late January.

For our walk last week, my neighbor and I used the Trails app to try to find a loop around Battle Ground Lake. There were two, actually, but the start of the outer loop was hard to find, so we inadvertently ended up on the inner loop. The outer loop is actually the one that is reviewed in the app as fit for walking dogs and taking strollers. The inner loop is a forest path with lots of ups and downs and rough terrain that went right along the lake. That would have been okay except it was very wet. Almost the first thing I did was slip in the mud and fall down. I don’t do down very well, usually, but we had my neighbor’s hiking sticks, and that helped me get back up. Later, we had to crawl under some trees that had fallen across the path. Altogether, it was way more rough than I was used to, still being a beginning hiker. As we exited the loop, we came upon the other end of the outer loop, with people with their strollers walking along! According to the app, we walked (climbed, crawled) about 2.5 miles.

This could get interesting, because while I primarily care about getting more exercise, my neighbor used to be a hearty outdoors woman and sees us eventually hiking rugged paths in the Gorge. (The kind of paths I never hiked even when I was young and slim and fearless, although I probably would have liked to, I just never did.) Although I would like to hike in the Gorge, I have much more modest goals in mind. When I commented on the rough path, she said, “If we are going to hike in the Gorge, we’ll have to hike paths like that.” She already told me one story about being a speed hiker and how one time she was hiking so quickly in Yosemite that she hiked right past a bear without seeing it. Luckily, she has since slowed down to look at the scenery.

Thursday is the day for our Weight Watchers meeting, and my sister and I usually celebrate afterwards by going out to eat. We didn’t think we would be going that night, because my sister had to work after the meeting. But she got put on standby during the meeting, so we went to this really wonderful Greek restaurant in Battle Ground called George’s Molón Lavé. I had moussaka (not having had any for years) and my sister had the delicious lamb chops that I enjoyed the first time my husband and I went. All things considered, I vote for the lamb chops.

On Friday, I happened to ask my sister if she wanted to go in to the Crafts Warehouse with me, where I needed to buy a frame for my bird painting (my husband decided we should frame it—now I just need to find somewhere insignificant to hang it) and some linseed oil. She said it was her errand day, so we spent the entire day out. We bought dirt, chicken feed, stuff at Costco, veggies and fruit at Chuck’s, and linseed oil and a frame. At the art store she picked up some kits, because she has art class with my great niece every week and likes to do different things.

Saturday was very busy. First, I went with my sister and my niece to the Japanese nursery in Woodland. They bought several trees and some tropical plants for a terrarium for my great nephew’s new pet corn snake. (The kids’ pets tend to be unusual, because their mother is severely allergic to cats and dogs. They have a lizard, a snake, and two ferrets.) I bought a bare roots lilac bush to replace the one my husband mowed over last spring and a plum tree for our orchard.

Later in the day, we all (except my husband, the party pooper), went to see A Wrinkle in Time. It was fairly good, although much more of a kid’s movie than one for an adult. But it was for a particular age range of kids, as we found when my four-year-old great nephew ended up having to be taken out of the theater by his dad. His dad later said that he said, “I wish this movie was over!” Of course, it was full length, so it’s also probably the first full-length movie he’s ever seen, his previous experience being with animated movies, which are usually shorter. My great niece, however, thought it was wonderful although “not as good as the book.”

One thing that struck me right away, although my memory of the book is not very good, was that they went a long way to make the movie inclusive, even having Charles Wallace be adopted just so he could be oriental (he wasn’t adopted in the book, was he?), but the setting was Southern California all the way. Hollywood, big news flash—the entire population of the United States does not live in suburban Southern California. My recollection, which could be faulty, places the original story in New England. But I DO remember that they lived out in the country. One of the first things my great niece said when she came out was “They lived on a hill way out in the country. That wasn’t right.” So, if you want to be inclusive, Hollywood, how about including a few other parts of the country in your kid’s movies?

My new little lilac bush next to the small daffodils. In the top right corner of the picture is the very start of the pond. You probably can’t tell from this photo that the lilac is at the edge of a steep slope. Over on the top left are the stairs that lead from the lower drive down to the lower orchard.

Sunday was the start of a run of beautiful cool but sunny days. I went out and planted my bare roots lilac bush, trying to choose a place where my husband was unlikely to run over it with the lawnmower. I chose to put it next to the daffodils near the lower drive on the edge of the slope that goes down to the wolf pen and the pond. That little swath of land next to the sidewalk and drive (outside the lower level of the house) gets more sun than the orchard, because my daffodils are up there and the ones in the orchard are still hiding their flowers.

Over the last few days, we have planted some more trees (two blue spruces and a maple tree) and cleared off the area where my raised beds are going to go. I hope to begin putting them together soon. My niece said she thought her husband could help on the weekend, but they are very busy, so I would rather start doing it than wait for their help.

In art class, I finished tracing my landscape and spent the class painting sky and clouds.

But what does my title to this post mean? It means snow is forecast for Friday and Saturday. The forecast has been pretty steady, too. Over the winter, we often had snow forecast for a week later only to have it turn to a forecast of rain by the time the day came. But for the last week, the forecast has been snow on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and only today did it change to just Friday and Saturday. The Portland forecast says snow at 1500 feet and higher, and we are at 1000, but the local forecast on my phone is usually more accurate for us than the one from Portland. We’ll see.

 

 

The weather guys get it wrong

Our driveway at 8 AM Thursday. You can see the snow is still coming down.

Snow was forecast for Thursday night and all day Friday last week. When I got out of bed Thursday morning at 8 AM, I thought to myself, it is light out, good. That means it isn’t raining, and we can go for our walk. Then I opened the curtains to see that it was snowing. Even the more recent forecast for our area showed that it wouldn’t snow until 11 AM, and our local weather station in Portland was saying there would be snow at 5,000 feet and up. We are at almost exactly 1,000 feet.

At first, my neighbor seemed reluctant to walk in the snow, which tempted me much more than the usual drizzly weather, but after I suggested we go walking farther down in the valley, where there probably wasn’t any snow. She said, “Oh, let’s just go.” In any case, at the park by Moulton Falls where we chose to walk, there wasn’t any snow, just puddles. I guess it is just far enough lower in altitude that it didn’t get snowed on.

It was a gray day, and drippy, but it was a nice day to walk. There weren’t very many people in the park until we met a group of about 30 who were in a Portland hiking club for seniors. I told them we were the Yacolt hiking club for seniors.

The view from the walking bridge over the East Fork of the Lewis River in Moulton Falls Park

We didn’t pay any attention to how far we walked or how long, although we were getting a little tired on the way back. What was my surprise to find that we walked nearly five miles and were gone more than three hours!

Here is a picture I snapped on our way back to the car. You can see that it’s a gray, foggy day. We got wet but only had to walk through a few puddles.

Today we are going walking again, I hope. So far, the weather is gloomy but not raining.

Another thing that happened Thursday was that the chimney sweeps were due out. In the morning, I asked my husband whether we shouldn’t call them and tell them that we had snow, as often we have it when the valley containing the larger towns and cities doesn’t, and workers arrive to be unpleasantly surprised. He said rather scoffingly that they didn’t care about snow. Well, the first thing they said when they arrived was, “We can’t go out on your roof. We’ll have to come back.” Our roof is rather steep, after all. So, Friday they came back, and we have had our stove burning merrily ever since.

Also on Thursday I went with my sister to Weight Watchers. I belonged years ago and managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but never gained my goal weight and just maintained my weight for over a year, which got discouraging. As soon as I quit counting everything I ate, I gained all of it back and more. Since I had almost weighed the same for many years, that scared me into thinking I shouldn’t diet again. But since then I have gained a lot of weight, so I’m trying again. We’ll see how it goes.

On Saturday we had plans to meet my Portland friend by taking the train into the Gateway station. She was going to pick us up there and take us on a tour of Russian grocery stores. However, I felt sick all Friday night, and my husband woke up complaining of being sick, too, so I cancelled. I had a runny nose and sore throat from stuff going down it, and I was worried about the flu. However, after several doses of hot lemon and some Nyquil the next night, I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. My nose still runs sometimes, so I can only think it might be an allergy. Our expedition to Portland is postponed to this weekend.

On Sunday we were invited to my niece’s house for dinner to help consume the prime rib that came with the beef they buy in bulk. I think my niece and sister divide a half steer, and that feeds them beef for quite some time. Dinner was delicious. I brought roasted beans and asparagus.

Finally, last night we met our new art teacher. She is not Theresa, as I had feared, but a new teacher. So far, it’s difficult to tell how good a teacher she will be as she was just observing. I spent the evening trying to paint my bird. I felt fairly frustrated, as my bird has lots of brown markings on whitish feathers. I thought I was just painting blobs. It’s at times like this that require patience that I fall down on the job, having no patience at all.

First post of the new year

I am late posting today because we planned to go out earlyish to do a Costco run. My husband went back to bed at about 6 (he wakes up in the middle of the night and then sleeps again in the morning), though, and when I got up he was fairly unresponsive. So, I sat down and wrote up a book review of the book I finished reading last night for my other blog (review coming in a few months), and after a while, my husband got up. So, we went later than usual.

Oddly enough, the Costco here is packed at all times. We have found that they open it early, so if we get there before 10, we can go right in and it’s not as crowded. (That was our plan, but it didn’t work out.) I can’t really figure out why it is so full compared to the ones in Austin. My sister said because it is the only one serving a large area, but Vancouver isn’t nearly as big a town as Austin, even if you count the population of the small towns and countryside around it, and Austin had two Costcos serving more than a million people. So, population much more dense. The Vancouver store isn’t serving Portland, either, because they have two in Portland. My guess is that more people use Costco around here than in Austin, because the number of people with very large families is high (see my article concerning the Old Apostolic Lutherans in the area).  In our grocery store, for example, most of the meat is packaged for large families to accommodate them. So, I guess the OAL families are buying in bulk at Costco, too. I can think of lots of people I knew in Austin who said they didn’t shop at Costco because they didn’t have a large enough family.

That leads me to the big New Year’s Day sale they have around here. Last year when I saw it the first time, it really cracked me up. Every New Year’s Day, Fred Meyer, which is the local grocery store, has a sock sale. Yes, socks. It is packed. You don’t want to go anywhere near the Fred Meyer in Battle Ground on the day of the sock sale. I’m guessing that no one in the area buys socks any other day of the year. There are huge traffic jams on the two highways that run next to the store. This year, they completely rerouted the traffic going into and out of the store, and they finished it in time for the sale. I’m sure they had that goal in mind.

I really don’t have much news today. I am thinking about when to take down the Christmas tree. I’ve reflected that I no longer have to get it down on New Year’s weekend, which always seemed too early to me (although I know of people who take theirs down the day after Christmas), but was the weekend while I was working when I had enough time and was still able to make the deadline for when the city would pick up the tree. Of course, out here, we can get a permit to dispose of our tree, but last year we just cut it in half and threw it into the woods to decompose. It provides the birds a place to hide. So, maybe I’ll start this week, but it’s a relief not to have to be in a hurry. On the other hand, I remember that when  I was a kid, our family left our tree up sometimes until almost the end of January, and the whole time its needles were falling off onto the floor. Don’t want to wait that long.

On New Year’s Day we didn’t do anything except have a nice dinner, this year artichokes and lamb chops encrusted with garlic, herbs de Provence, and pepper. Long gone are the times when we had something to do on New Year’s Eve (although of course we did last year, because my brother came down from Seattle). As usual, we didn’t even make it up until midnight. On New Year’s Day, though, our neighbor stopped by with a tin of Christmas cookies. She is the neighbor I talked to about going walking sometime. We had left it that she would call me when her infected toe improved, but apparently she forgot that, because when we talked about it the other day, she said she thought she’d offended me because she hadn’t heard from me. (Actually, I asked her one day if she wanted to go to the Japanese greenhouse, so I guess she forgot that.) I thought I’d offended her because I didn’t hear from her. So, we were at cross purposes, and we’ll try again. Right now, she says she is a little depressed, so I’m waiting again to hear from her. But this time I will call her in about a week to see if she feels better. In any case, I’ve been much better about my own walking, most days managing a walk down to the end of the road and back. Just a mile, but it’s all the farther we can walk around here without getting killed trying to walk on the main road. If the neighbor and I go, we will drive to a nearby park and walk there.

I also helped my husband move a bunch of firewood from our driveway into a shed roof thing we have on our property. The problem with that is that I have wanted that thing removed ever since we moved here so that I can put raised beds there for gardening. It’s the only place near the house that gets full sun. So, if my niece and her husband ever make it over here to help us take it down, it’s going to be loaded with firewood and other things. (This is what happens when you live with a hoarder. He fills everything up.)

We thought my brother and his family were coming down sometime last week, but when I called him, they weren’t planning to come. They said we’d see them in the spring. They only live about three hours away in Seattle (well, it’s usually more like four or five hours, the traffic being so bad), so we should go visit them sometime. I don’t think my husband wants to drive in the traffic. Maybe my Portland friend would be interested in taking a day trip sometime.

We also heard from a friend in Houston. She said she wanted to see how we were doing in the cold. Well, I hated to tell her, but lately it’s been colder in Houston than it has been here. There is a high pressure system sitting on top of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been there ever since winter started. It’s kept us warmer than usual, which was why we had our snow so late and it went away so fast. Just about the entire rest of the country is freezing its butt off (including in Michigan, where another friend had to drive home from Christmas at her daughter’s house through a blizzard), but here it’s in the 40’s and even the 50’s during the day. Maybe we’ll get some more real winter later. At least we had our Christmas snow!

No pictures for you today, but speaking of pictures, last night in art class I learned how to make a glaze. I showed you the painting I am working on, just the purple background around what is going to be a bird, a couple of weeks ago. Last night, we made this brownish gray glaze and painted over the background, darkening it and lightening it in places. The color is really beautiful. I guess next week I get to start working on my bird.