A hiking emergency

On our hike last week, we returned to Lacamas Park to attempt to hike the part of the park that we didn’t get to before. We were only partially successful in this. We set off in the opposite direction from before, but we ended up doing a loop in the part of the park that I didn’t really want to repeat, it being the wildest, and still missed some of the same part of the loop as we did before. My sister, Sue, went with me and Maja, one of my hiking friends, and it’s a good thing she did, too, because she is a nurse.

Just as we started into the area that I didn’t want to repeat, accidentally through not understanding the maps we saw (it’s annoying to us that so many parks leave out the You Are Here marker on most of the posted maps), Maja had some sort of attack. She became very dizzy and said her neck was hurting her. We stopped and tried to get her to sit, but she wouldn’t sit. At another point, Sue urged her to lie down in a meadow so she could put her feet up, but she refused. We had to continue on very slowly, with frequent stops, and unfortunately we were in the most remote part of the park, so it took us about an hour to get out to the car. All the time, my sister and I said later, both of us were worried that Maja was going to pass out.

Maja and Sue on the bridge at Lacamas Park very shortly before Maja had her episode. Not a good picture. I can never see what I’m taking outside, and I must have moved the phone, because the women are blurry.

Once we got to the car, there was a debate of what to do next. I thought we should go to the nearest urgent care, whereas Maja wanted to go to the urgent care in Battle Ground (40 minutes away), which she knew was in her insurance network. I think it’s ridiculous that during an emergency we have to worry about this stuff. Sue started to take her to a hospital that was in her network, but I pointed out that most insurance companies want you to go to urgent care first. We ended up going where Maja wanted. Then the urgent care wanted to send her to the hospital (the one we passed on the way there, that Sue wanted to take her to) by ambulance, and she didn’t want to take the ambulance. I wasn’t driving, and Sue had run out to get us something to eat, since we assumed that we would be there a long time. I told Maja that if the nurse thought she should take an ambulance, she should take one. So, she did, and we were away from there in a surprisingly short time. It turned out that she had stopped taking her blood pressure medicine over a year ago without telling her doctor because she didn’t like the side effects. Also, she had already been diagnosed with some sort of blockage (I didn’t really understand what they were talking about), and her blood pressure was really low. (Her top number was 85!)

By the way, the urgent care folks said we should have gone to the hospital, and when she explained about the insurance people wanting you to go to urgent care first, the guy said, “I don’t know about insurance.” Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? The health care people need to know about insurance. I noticed a ridiculous notice at that urgent care telling people to check their bills for out-of-network service and to tell them if anything is out of network. Well, what good will that do you? If it’s on your bill, you’ve already been served by out-of-network people. I think that urgent care and hospitals should have to assure that all the people on an emergency case or procedure are in the patient’s network, because how can the patient do that when they are in the middle of the procedure or emergency? Oh well, enough about our ridiculous health care system.

In any case, Sue said she probably got treated faster the way we did it, because if we’d gone to Emergency, we probably would have waited an hour before anyone looked at Maja. She said that since she arrived in an ambulance from urgent care, they would look at her right away. Since Sue works in a hospital, I’m guessing she knows what she’s talking about.

So, that was scary, but Maja is home now after being hospitalized for two nights. She said her arteries are in fine shape and she just needs to take it easier on the exercise. She is also on a different blood pressure med.

Here are the blue flowers in my garden, shaped more like pentagons than stars. I found a picture of them online, but they were not identified.

What else has happened this week? Well, it’s getting a lot springier up here. The valley has been looking beautiful for some weeks, but my cherry trees just started blooming and my apple trees are just beginning to open their buds. I took a picture, but it wasn’t very dramatic, so I decided not to post it. In my landscaped slope in front of the house, there are beautiful blue flowers popping up all over. Plus, I planted a few snowdrops in the middle of the orchard, but now I see a bunch more coming up in a wooded area next to the orchard. Likewise, there are lots of wildflowers coming up in the wooded area next to our pond.

Speaking of the pond, I’ve spotted the ducks several times, and the other day I was up in the orchard when I saw a lot of commotion in the water. I was able to see the heads of three or four beavers! I told Wayne that I guessed Mr. Beaver got married and had children, and he said he didn’t think marriage had anything to do with it. Last year, I only ever saw one beaver at a time, so I figured there was only one.

I haven’t seen any deer since Lukey and I spotted one at the neighbor’s house when he was a small puppy, so that would have been back in August or September. But when I was on my way to Luke’s class Monday night, I saw one go across the road. It’s nice to see them, since there has been so much logging around here that we see fewer and fewer deer each year. It’s been a couple of years since we saw them on our property, although they were eating things in my garden at some time last year, because I saw the nibbles. We got it partially fenced in, so they stopped going in.

Most of the days this week were dreary, but it was really nice and warm on Sunday. We did some outside work. I didn’t need to weed my garden last year at all, hardly, but this year, I have lots of things coming up in it. Since the weeds all look like the same kind of grass, I presume it has something to do with the alpaca poop I mixed into the soil this fall. I’m guessing it’s whatever they eat.

Sunday was so nice that for the first time in a while we sat out by the pond, and earlier in the week, we had lunch on the deck. So, on Monday I put on a lighter top shirt over the bottom shirt I wear all winter (not the same one, of course), but that was a mistake. Monday was cold! I ended up changing back. So, it’s not warm spring yet, or at least not consistently.

Here’s Luke wondering why I called him. It took several times to get him to look at the phone.

Luke is doing okay at Relationship Class; at least, he hasn’t been kicked out yet. Some of the other dogs are having a bit of trouble behaving as well; in fact, he did better than several of them during Monday night’s class. And just in case anyone is wondering what Luke looks like now, I took a picture of him. He is almost 11 months old now, and I think he is full grown. At least, he is about the same size as the adult Keeshond we used to have, knee high but stocky, so that he seems bigger.

A change in routine

I am writing up this blog earlier in the week than usual, on Sunday, so that I will have something to post this Wednesday no matter how busy I am. This is because I am leaving early tomorrow, Monday morning, for a short trip to the San Juan Islands. I am going with my sister, my niece’s husband, and their two kids. My niece is taking the rare opportunity to stay home alone, and my husband is taking the all-to-frequent opportunity to do the same. On Thursday, everyone except my sister and I is coming back, but we are going to explore the Olympic Peninsula for a few more days, including spending the night in a haunted castle. What a castle is doing on the Olympic Peninsula, I do not know. In any case, I don’t see anything about it being haunted anywhere online.

This week, my neighbor and I went hiking again at Moulton Falls. We started out earlier than usual because it was supposed to be hot, and we were glad we did, because even on the shady hiking paths, it was muggy. For the first time, we saw people down in the water enjoying swimming and sitting on the rocks. That will continue all summer. We walked a little over three miles.

I was happy to see that last week I lost not only all the weight I gained over the last two weeks but a little bit more, for a total of 1.6 pounds. Because it was the first night at my evening art class, I went straight from Weight Watchers to the art school. Unfortunately, I was so hungry by the time I got home around 9 PM that I asked Wayne to go to McDonald’s, something I have not done in ages. I ate enough to use up not only all my points for that day but also almost all my weekly points (you get a set number of points each day and a set number of extra points for the week) for the whole week! (To be fair, that was only a quarter pounder with cheese and a mango smoothie plus the naughty lemon pound cake I had from Starbucks earlier. I ate that without looking it up first. Never again.) Considering that Thursday is my weigh-in day, that means that I ate the whole week’s worth of extra points in one meal. I am not out of points because I still have my daily points plus fitness points that I usually never use; however, I am obviously going to have to take a snack along with me to eat in between WW and class so I won’t get so hungry.

Art class seemed very different this week. My class was in the other classroom, for one thing. All my other classes have been in the same room. My new teacher, Oksana, at first seemed somewhat forbidding. That turned out to be because the main office signed up people for her class without telling them at the satellite school, and not knowing, she signed up people for makeups plus the receptionist put people like me into her class. So, she was overbooked and had to put some students into the other classroom. Alina, my previous teacher, was born in the Ukraine but was thoroughly American. Oksana is definitely Russian and we all sometimes have a bit of difficulty understanding each other. She had apparently not run across my name before, because she kept wanted to call me Kai, rhyming with “chai.”

Although Oksana’s classroom was noisy, too, it was the noise of a bunch of people working. She had mostly teenagers and a few older women like me in her class. I encountered Betty, a woman who was in Sarah’s class before Sarah went on maternity leave. She did not stay on for Sarah’s substitute because she is learning watercolor, and Oksana and Sarah are the only two watercolor instructors at our branch of the school. She said that she liked Oksana’s approach to watercolor, so that she is planning on staying in Oksana’s class when Sarah gets back.

Oksana was very helpful to me, which is what I have been missing a bit with my last two teachers, who were both involved in keeping control of all the children. When she saw my finished painting, which I picked up from the other classroom, she told me it was beautiful and asked if anyone had taken a picture of me with it. This is something that they do there, hang up pictures of the students with their finished art, but no one had taken more than one picture of me or my sister since we got there. The ones of us that are up are pictures from when we were studying drawing. So, she took my picture. I have included here the picture that I took of my painting, not the one of me and my painting.

This is a landscape I painted of the Oregon coast, very near where my friend Ray and I were a few weeks ago.

Oksana was very helpful to me in drawing my next picture, which is going to be from a photo I took in my own dining room. It is a silver vase that used to belong to my grandmother filled with peonies and some other flowers I bought at the produce market. We are going to move the vase over toward the center of the picture, get rid of the white door frame on the left of the picture, and remove the glass square the vase is sitting on. I finished the drawing on Thursday night and will begin transferring it to canvas a week from Thursday, after I return from my vacation.

This is my grandmother’s vase in my dining room. The blue reflected in the vase is actually me taking the picture. We like the color but will make it more generalized so that I’m not in the picture. You might be able to tell that I don’t like having my picture taken.

After it cools off and the sun isn’t on the garden, I’m going out to pick some more spinach to take along on our trip and then water the garden.

Next week I hope to have lots of news and pictures from my short holiday!


First harvest

The bathroom with its painted walls and tile back splash

My guest room and bathroom are finished! I finished painting the bathroom late last week, and on Saturday my husband and I installed the self-adhesive tile. It was really easy to do, and it looks good. The wall board behind the sink looked really messy (actually, the walls in that room don’t even feel or paint like real wall board, but I don’t know what else they could be), but I couldn’t figure out a way to paint just that part of the wall without it looking bad, since the cabinet and the back splash do not line up exactly. I took a look at the self-adhesive tile in Home Depot, and this is what I found that did not require us to actually cut tile. All we had to cut was the backing that connected the small stone tiles together. My husband helped me install it, and it took us about 30 minutes to do it.

On the garden front, I was afraid last week that my bean plants weren’t going to come up. I told my sister that, and she said that she goes through that every year, because the bean seeds take a long time to germinate, but then they grow very quickly. Sure enough, the very next day I saw one poking out of the ground. That one is now three inches high, and the other two are two inches. It looks like one of the seeds is not going to come up. Still three bean plants should give two people plenty of beans.

My first harvest! A basket of spinach

I just harvested my first vegetables for dinner. I cut some spinach for a salad the other night. I don’t know what I was thinking. I could have been eating spinach any time the last couple weeks. I just had it in mind that nothing was ready yet and wasn’t paying attention to the evidence of my own eyes.

Also, I am just beginning to see evidence that my lettuces and salad greens are coming up. A few are just peeking up from the dirt.

This week I am concentrating on getting the house good and clean for our visitor from Colorado next week. I sent Roomba down to sweep the guest room and big room downstairs, but Monday after dusting I went down and vacuumed anyway. Roomba did okay in the guest room, but the big room is so big that he didn’t get it all clean before he ran out of juice. Yesterday, I swept and mopped all the Marmoleum and vinyl floors in the house, and tomorrow I will do all the wood ones.

Sadly, my husband and I think that some animal might have gotten the ducklings. I never saw them, but my husband did. The other day I was going to go down there, but before I did, I checked the pond from the deck, because I have scared away the female duck before despite walking down very quietly. I could see the mallard couple swimming around by themselves, so I decided not to go down there. They seem dejected and haven’t been doing much eating. My husband has seen them since but no ducklings. My husband is talking about building an island in the middle of the pond where they can raise their ducklings safely next year. I’m not sure how he thinks he’s going to do that. Maybe we can float something.

I have also spotted the beaver many times since I first identified it. Sometimes in the evening I can see him from the kitchen window swimming across the pond with leaves in his mouth. He almost always gets out of sight before my husband can get to the window.

For our walk last week, my neighbor and I went back to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge because the hiking trail opens up the first week of May. Unfortunately, it was closed again for hiking or biking because a cougar had been spotted in the park! In any case, all those thousands of geese and ducks were gone. I’m sure we still would have seen lots of birds, though, if we had been able to do the hike. Instead, we drove up to the northern part of the park, which was not closed to hiking, and hiked around it, about 2.5 miles. Because the park is in a marsh, there was not much shade, and it was very hot coming back. I told my neighbor that when it gets farther into summer, we’re going to need to leave earlier, because I can’t handle heat. The rest of the week, of course, it’s been cool. In fact this morning it is in the 50’s.

Finally, I am almost done with my painting in art class. I won’t be attending next week because we have a guest coming, or I would have expected to finish it then. I have to admit that the changes we made this week made it look a lot better. In particular, the photo I am copying shows a bunch of leafy undergrowth in the foreground of the picture, which in a painting looks rather amorphous (unless I was prepared to paint all the leaves, which I was not and which aren’t even really visible in the original photo). The instructor suggested I vary it a bit more, and I decided to turn it into grass, which looks a lot better.

I keep considering switching to the later class (only would get home so late at night), because we have so many children in our class now, about 10 really young rambunctious ones. It all started with two little boys who began taking the class a few months ago. They were fine by themselves and one of them continues to be well-behaved, but now their friends and relatives are in the class, and some of the boys, particularly, are very disruptive. They can’t stay in their seats and they make lots of noise. We had two new ones this week who were just as active. My new teacher is a better art instructor than the one whose class I quit, but she is young, just out of art school, and she isn’t very good at keeping these kids in order. Yesterday, two little boys were running around and I told them to sit down. They did, but when she tells them to, no one pays attention. There are too many of them, and they are too young to be in art class.

One little boy who sits by me is serious about his art. He draws quietly in his seat and I sometimes see him watching me. I heard his mother say this week that he likes to sit in that seat, so I can’t help thinking he likes to watch me work. I occasionally give him little suggestions. He is only about six, so it’s hard to tell if he will turn out to be talented or not, but at least he is trying to learn.

Most of the noisy kids are about six or seven, and they have a talkative little girl of five who sits with them and speaks very little English. (She speaks Russian.) Then we have a few slightly older girls in the class who are much better behaved, one little girl who comes with her very talented mother and who loves to draw owls (does a good job, too), and a teenage girl who quietly sits and minds her own business. I asked my teacher if she thought the kids would quit coming after school is out, as most of the home-schooled kids just come for a month or so for school credit. However, she answered that, sadly, none of them are home-schooled. I had been hoping I could hold out in this class without switching until Sarah comes back from maternity leave, at which time I will switch to her class if I can get in.

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.



Spring is sprung(ing)

Small signs of spring are appearing this week. My sister said her crocuses and snowdrops bloomed, so I went out in the orchard to look for mine. There were none, but there were some suspicious small holes where I planted them. I think a mole or raccoon must have eaten the bulbs. (Do moles eat bulbs? I know raccoons do, as years ago a raccoon dug up and ate every bulb I planted one winter back in Austin.)

Look closely and you can see some tiny daffodils. I don’t think these ones are supposed to get much bigger.

However, my daffodils are coming up. I planted some tiny ones along the edge of the basement level before the slope down to the septic field, and they had already bloomed. My larger daffodils, which I planted under the orchard trees, are showing the blades of their leaves.

Soon these nice green stems will be daffodils.

Down in the valley, though, spring is blooming ahead of us. Clumps of large daffodils wave in the breeze here and there, and the cherry trees are starting to bloom in gorgeous shades of pink and white.

We had three beautiful days in a row, warm and sunny, during which my husband and I both did some outside work. I went around with our wheelbarrow and picked up sticks that had fallen during the winter, and I also took the covers off the patio furniture. My husband put together a garden shed. I hope we’ll be putting together my raised beds on our next fine day, because soon will be time to plant. We will also need to build a fence around the garden, or the deer and rabbits will get everything.

Although the weather had returned to rain and gotten colder again, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more snow.

On Sunday, I was relaxing in the house when I heard a loud, reverberating bang that sounded like it was in the garage. I looked out in the garage but could see nothing wrong. Later, my husband came up from the basement and I asked him if he had heard it. He did not, but he was on the other side of the house, so it’s not surprising. He, too, looked in the garage and saw nothing.

Coincidentally, he had driven the car out of the garage earlier in the day when we were both working outside and not put it back, so he went out to move the car into the garage. When he hit the button to open the garage door, we heard a horrible grinding noise. It turned out that the spring to the garage door opener had snapped, and that was the noise I heard earlier. It’s a good thing he left the car out, because until the guy came to fix the door, two days later, it was impossible to open the garage door! We would have been stuck without a car to drive.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that we were forced to find another doctor. You may remember that when we first moved here last year, it took me more than a month to find a doctor who would take us, between the Medicare and the type of secondary insurance we had. We really like our doctor here, but in January, our clinic announced it was closing. Our doctor was not able to find another local practice, so he was planning to work in urgent care for up to six months while he looked. Originally, we were told that we should be able to sign on with his coworker at the Salmon Creek branch of our clinic, which is about 1/2 hour away.

However, the Salmon Creek clinic decided it would not take any of our doctor’s patients, because our doctor had too high a load of Medicare patients. His assistant told us that the Fishers Landing clinic was accepting a small number of Medicare patients, so we called them immediately and got on there. Unfortunately, Fishers Landing is about an hour away. We like our new doctor, but the plan is to switch back to our original doctor when he gets settled in a new local clinic, provided they will take our insurance. We have an alternate, sneaky plan, too. Our new doctor has office hours in both Fishers Landing and Salmon Creek, the same clinic that refused all of our doctor’s patients. Once we get established with the new guy, I’m going to find out if we can see him at Salmon Creek. I don’t see how they can turn us down when we are already his patient. That will save us a lot of driving.

Last week my neighbor and I returned to Moulton Falls on the East Fork of the Lewis River and walked about four miles. We were actually trying to find a path my neighbor thought linked the Moulton Falls park to the Lucia Falls park, but there was none. I think she just got confused by the confusing park map. We have still to walk the Lucia Falls loop, but it is very short, only a mile.

My niece told me about a trails app, which we will probably use today to decide where to go. So far, we are only doing easy trails, though, and it seems that most of them are very short. I suppose we could pick a short one and go around it more than once. The longer trails are the two we have done already. It doesn’t bother me to continue to walk the same trails—after all that is what I did in Austin, walk the same loop around Lady Bird Lake every morning for years—but my neighbor wants to branch out and eventually tackle harder trails.

This picture of pelmeni soup is from the recipe I used.

A few weeks ago, I reported that my Portland friend and I had done a tour of the Russian markets in Portland. I was fascinated by the different types of little frozen dumplings called pelmeni, but I was afraid to buy any because of the train trip and car ride home, a total of more than an hour’s time, during which I was sure they would melt. So, last week I visited our local Russian market and bought some a bag of lamb and a bag of cabbage pelmeni. I served the dumplings for one dinner, but my husband didn’t like them. However, I still had three pounds of dumplings, and I had noted references to soup, so I looked for a recipe. I ended up making a simple pelmeni soup, and it was delicious! My husband said he liked it much better than the dumplings by themselves, so I have gone farther and found recipes in my Russian cookbooks.

As I finished my painting in art class last week and brought it home this week, it is time to start another one. This new painting will be a landscape of the Oregon coast. I am a little trepidatious about it, as it is a complex landscape. I had been picking out simpler landscape photos to copy, but I selected this one because I had been there. My teacher picked it because she loves the Oregon coast, but she says it will be easier to paint than I think. In my art class, we draw the picture on tracing paper and then trace it onto our canvases or paper. This method makes our pictures neater, because the erasures are not on our canvas or paper. I got my picture drawn, but it turned out I had the carbon paper backward (it is quite worn, and it’s hard to tell which side is up), despite my neighbor in class and I checking to see it was right! Oops! I will start from there next week!

Slow week

Not much is going on yet this week, although the end of the week will be busier. I was supposed to go for my first extended walk with the neighbor today, but she has cancelled because of the rain. We have missed all the nice days we might have tried to go because rain was forecast and I didn’t want to invite her at the last minute once it proved to be nice. We are going to try for tomorrow.

Yesterday, we were up and out very early. My husband had an appointment with a sleep center in Vancouver. Ever since he had radiation therapy 11 or 12 years ago, he has had a sleep disorder. He goes to sleep okay at night and then wakes up around 2 or 3 AM and usually can’t get back to sleep. This means he takes lots of naps. It never seemed to occur to our Austin doctor to refer him to a sleep center. He has tried lots of sleep remedies, but most of them have to do with going to sleep, not staying asleep, and he doesn’t want to take a possibly addictive medication. But he has tried rooibos tea, melatonin, and even a marijuana infusion (it’s legal here). That worked the best, but not as a regular dose before bed. That is, it worked three or four nights in a row then stopped working. So, finally, he has a referral to a sleep clinic. He has his sleep study next month. It’s possible he has sleep apnea.

I went along for his appointment because it was in Vancouver, and I had other things I wanted to do there. We went to a craft shop afterwards, where I was looking for some small paint brushes to use for the needles on my pine trees (in my painting, of course). Then we went for breakfast at Elmer’s and on into Portland to Ikea.

My husband has switched from sitting on the sectional to using our Amish rocking glider. He started sitting there because he has trouble getting up out of the sectional, which is low. First, he started by pulling the rocker out of position so that he could see the TV. It ended up in a passageway, so I was always having to push it back when he wasn’t sitting in it. Finally, a few weeks ago, I rearranged the furniture so that his rocking glider could be permanently in a good place for TV watching.

My husband’s cozy corner. The table doesn’t match the chair, but it does go well with the sectional, which is across the way. The double doors behind are usually open. They are to my little office, but my desk is messy, so I closed them.

But then he didn’t have a place to put his remote controls, drinks, and so on. (Of course, the remote controls are his.) So, he kept pulling out a table from the wall. Thus, the table, with its cord attaching its lamp to the wall, was always in the walkway, and he never remembered to push it back when he wasn’t sitting there. So, he clearly needed a table next to his rocking chair. That’s what the trip to Ikea was for, and I’m here to tell you that Tuesday mornings are a good time to go. Always, before I retired, I had to go in the evenings or the weekends, and it was incredibly crowded. Yesterday, hardly anyone was there. My husband put his table together yesterday afternoon, and now he has his own cozy corner of the living room.

We are ramping up to have our contractor back to bid on a few jobs around the house. I have figured out that I’ll never get my raised beds for planting vegetables if I don’t get that shed thing removed. I’ve been waiting for my niece and her husband to help, but they are always busy, and every time they plan to come over and start, something comes up. As predicted, because if something isn’t full, my husband fills it, he has also filled it up with firewood, so now we need somewhere to put the firewood. We compromised. We’ll ask for a bid on tearing down the shed thing and building a woodshed elsewhere. You may ask, why not use the shed thing for wood? It’s because it’s located on the only part of our property up by the house that has full sun. As it is, I was peeved when my husband put the propane tank there, since he knew that since we bought our house, I’ve been planning to use that space for a garden.

With careful feeding of our cat every few hours, we have gotten it so she is only vomiting after breakfast. We think it’s because of the long period between dinner and breakfast, so we are going to try giving her some food before we go to bed. Also, my husband has to remember not to give her lots of food for breakfast. The problem seems to be that when she gets too hungry, she gulps her food, and then she throws up. If she is fed smaller amounts closer together, she doesn’t throw up.

In art class last night I painted snow on top of the branches of my trees. My teacher, Sarah, says that probably needs two weeks to dry thoroughly before we paint more needles on top of the snow. So, next week I’ll be painting my bird. Next week is my last class with Sarah before she takes pregnancy leave. We still don’t know who is taking her classes, but she thinks it will be a new teacher, who just graduated from art school, someone she knows well. If so, I will give her a chance before I think of changing classes. I just don’t want my last teacher, Theresa, back. Last night I heard another student asking Sarah about who is taking her classes. That student is a professional artist who is taking classes at the art school to learn watercolor. She was asking if the replacement teacher knew watercolor and saying that she needed someone who did. Of course, no one knows who the replacement is going to be, but Sarah said that if it is Theresa, she does not do watercolor. Sarah remarked that she was afraid that by the time she got back from pregnancy leave, she would have lost all her students, because so many of the adults are considering changing classes when she leaves.

Well, that’s all for this week, but starting tonight, a lot more is going on in the coming week, so there will be a little more to report.