Let’s sit down and gnaw a bone

That’s what I found myself saying to Luke yesterday. That was after I asked him if he would like something better than a cookie, a cue for him to go wild with joy. It means he’s getting a marrow bone to chew on, an activity that is fun for hours and means he isn’t bugging me for attention. Needless to say, our house and front yard look like a charnel house.

The count in the county of confirmed cases of coronavirus is still low, at 16 as of yesterday, with four deaths. However, that is more deaths than Oregon has cases, and it has shut down like Washington. It seems that since last week, we have about three more cases confirmed a day. Again, this seems like a low number, but my understanding is that they aren’t doing very much testing in our area. They’re probably reserving that mostly for Seattle. The Koreans got on top of their problem by ordering tests before the virus even came to their country and testing everyone constantly. They have only a 1% death rate, which is much lower than everyone else. But of course it would be really odd for our government to jump on anything. The local and state governments are reacting much faster. When Trump announced he had turned something over to FEMA, I just said “Jesus, help us,” and I’m not a religious person. But, oh yes, the tests are great, according to him.

I hear stories all over about sick people. My niece told me that half her friends in Battle Ground who were having play dates like normal with their kids while she was hunkering down are sick. And a lady posted on Facebook yesterday that a bunch of her church members were sick and some were on respirators. No word about if they got tested. Luckily, so far no one in my family is sick. The flu being in the area adds confusion to all this.

Wayne is worried about his oldest brother, who lives in Michigan, not because of the virus but because shortly before all this happened, he was supposed to be biopsied for lung cancer. He was a smoker most of his life, although he quit smoking a few years ago. When he went into the hospital originally for a biopsy, they found that he had another condition that they had to take care of before they could do that. He just had his biopsy yesterday, a bad time to go into the hospital. Wayne has been calling him every day.

Wayne and I have stayed home almost all this week. Just Monday, the governor announced a stay-at-home order that says you can only go out for necessary business and exercise. That’s basically what we’ve done the last week or so anyway. On Thursday, I went over to Christine’s and we walked our dogs and then sat outside to have coffee. The only thing that worried me about that was the fear that I could have something unbeknownst to myself and pass it on to her, as she is 80. So far, so good. While I was out, I stopped by the farm store.

On Monday, Wayne decided he wasn’t sick after all, helped along by the arrival of a new thermometer, which says we both have normal temperatures. I could never see that he had any symptoms of anything, although I realize that doesn’t mean anything, and he goes out so seldom during normal times except to run errands that it seemed unlikely he got anything. As soon as he thought he was sick, he stayed home. That day, he went out for the first time for a doctor’s appointment, because he has blood in his urine, so maybe a kidney stone or something, but no other symptoms. On the way home, he stopped and got gas and went to the produce store for fruit. Then on Tuesday afternoon, he took his temperature and decided he was sick after all. A doctor would still treat his temperature as normal (98.4), but he says for him it is high, and now he has taken to his bed. I have been through something like this so many times before that it’s hard to take seriously. I don’t know how many times he’s thought he’s had something and moped around for days and then decided he’s not ill after all. I just hope he isn’t ill this time, too.

We are doing okay for groceries so far, just because Wayne generally picks up things without know if we need them, which leads to a surplus of certain foods, or importantly, toilet paper. As a test, however, I decided to try Fred Meyer’s Clicklist function, where you pick out your shopping list online and then schedule a time to pick it up. My only problem was that when I tried to schedule a time, they were all full. My niece suggested I do it early in the morning, so I left my stuff in the cart and then scheduled it at 8:30 AM on Sunday. I got a 1-2 PM appointment today to pick it up. Of course, as soon as I placed it, I was sorry I hadn’t put a few more things on the list, particularly as it was difficult to get a reservation. Of course, we can always get up early and go shop during the senior hours, Monday through Thursday from 7 to 8 AM. My SIL Nancy reports that she placed an order by getting up this morning at 3:30 AM. I don’t know if it got that much worse in two days or if she is just over-reacting as usual. I think she is reading every virus article she can get her hands on and scaring herself. My niece has gone further for groceries than any of us. She was the one using the Clicklist, but this time she is actually ordering the food from them to be shipped to her.

The only thing we have run out of is all our treats. I have some popcorn left to pop, but we usually have a small stash of chocolate and salty snacks, and they are all gone. Every day I have considered baking chocolate chip cookies, and every day I have desisted. I am not being super rigid about WW right now, but I don’t want to undo all my efforts of the last two years.

Other than my trip to pick up my shopping, I may go hiking with Katrina and the kids on Thursday, assuming Wayne doesn’t have an actual temperature by then, and Christine and I are planning another dog-walking expedition.

Here are the very same daffodils, two days after being covered in snow.

We had gorgeous weather here most of last week. In fact, I took another picture of some of my daffodils, the very same ones that were covered in snow last Saturday. Two days later, they were doing fine. I also took a picture of Luke in the crocuses. My crocuses are gung ho this year. Usually by the time the daffodils arrive, they are about done.

If you look hard, you can see yellow and white crocuses. I didn’t even know crocuses came in white, but I must have planted them, because there they are.

The weather being so nice, I spent several days outside pulling up blackberry vines. They are all over our raised bed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach the ones that were high up but lower than the upper ridge, but we did a lot of damage to them. There are still lots more, though. I guess we should have been doing this every spring. I also got some dirt at the farm store last week and turned up the dirt in my raised gardens. I will have to go back to get more dirt, but I was able to prepare two sections of my raised garden and plant my lettuce greens and beans. This will be my third year to try beans, and I haven’t been successful, but the first year I did well with mixed greens of lettuce. Last year, I tried head lettuce, but no heads ever developed. By mistake, I find I have bought foot-long Asian beans instead of regular green beans. Oops!

Now our good weather has passed, and we have been in rain for the past couple of days. It’s supposed to snow today. It hasn’t so far, but we did get a kind of goopy snow yesterday for a few minutes. It was really coming down. It was too snowlike for sleet but slushy. It wasn’t hail. We had two storms of pea-sized hail the day before, one that was big enough to leave slush on the front porch for hours afterwards.

My sister, who is in self-quarantine because she brought her sick grandson over to her house (where she lives with my niece and her family) last weekend, says she’s been painting. I haven’t been so creative, but I’ve been enjoying myself this last week reading the third volume in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series. I just finished it yesterday. It’s a great book. Review to come in four to five months.

Now my family is going crazy messaging about particles of virus found on the cruise ship that were more than 17 days old. I bet some of them are going to start cleaning everything obsessively, if they aren’t already. I can hear my phone going ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

A busy weekend

I had a busy weekend this week, but I’ll tell about everything in order.

On Wednesday, I had been hoping for a nice hiking day like we had the week before, but it was in fact raining very hard. Maja and I went to Moulton Falls Park, which is our hiking default, and we took Luke along. We got very, very wet. I was wearing my rain jacket, which hits a few inches above he knee, and by the time we got home, my jeans were soaked all the way from the hem down. In addition, my sleeves wicked rain up my arm about three inches. A few times, Luke turned around and ran back towards the car, and it wasn’t until I put my hood up and down a couple of times (I hate hoods and would almost rather have a wet head, but my glasses had so much rain on them that I could barely see) that I realized he was turning around and running away when I had the hood up. So, my hair got very wet. I was happy when I got home to find that Wayne had a fire going.

In fact, it has rained most of the week. Yesterday was the first day with sun, and the forecast is for sun for the next week, so maybe two nice hiking days in a row coming up.

The bedroom end of our house showing some fall colors behind it

Fall is completely here, and we have quite a few yellow trees around here. Almost all the trees around our house turn yellows, whether alder or maple. I haven’t noticed that my red maple has turned red. Last time I checked it was still green. I planted it last year, though, so it is very young and not too noticeable. There is a beautiful street in Battle Ground called Rasmussen that has red and yellow and orange trees lining it all the way down now. Since we have a good few fir and other coniferous trees around our house, our colors aren’t as vibrant because of lots of green.

On Thursday I thought I’d do a little baking, because I was supposed to visit my friend Christine on Friday morning and thought I’d take along a treat. I tried a Weight Watcher recipe for apple ginger mini pies, but it was not a success. Because, as happens every fall, all of the apples disappeared from our apple tree right around the time they got ripe, I just used the eating apples we had at home and they never juiced up. Also, making a lattice for a couple of pies is no problem, but making a lattice for 10 little tiny pies is ridiculously tedious. The recipe, in addition, said to cut the pieces of dough 1/4 inch thick. Well, at that width they looked ridiculous. They didn’t match the picture on the recipe card at all. The pieces of dough in the picture were at least 1/2 inch thick. Anyway, I didn’t bother to take any to Christine, so my husband has been eating them all week. He thinks they’re not bad with ice cream.

From the side of the house my flowering dogwood tree provides about the only glimpse of reddish fall color we have.

My weekend was rather packed. On Saturday morning, we did our usual puppy class and drop-off of my great niece to taekwondo. She is now a red belt. After we got back from taking her home, we quickly had lunch because I had a theatre date. I picked my sister Sue up, and we met my friend Deb for a matinee at Magenta Theater. This play, called Death in High Heels, was, obviously, a mystery play but not a particularly good one. The fault seemed to lie with the play itself, in which any of the suspects could have done it, and there was nothing to rule anyone out. You just had to guess the correct person, which I didn’t even bother to do. And since I am a mystery fan, it almost never happens that I am so uninterested that I don’t bother to guess.

My sister liked the play a lot more than I did, and Deb thought it was okay. It was at least mildly entertaining. After the play when we were eating at a restaurant, we discussed how we would rank the four plays we saw at Magenta and decided this one was second best, which tells you how good the other two were. We have one more play included in our season tickets, and we hope they can’t wreck Miracle on 34th Street too badly. The best play was the Jeeves and Wooster, which was fun. The third best play was an unbelievably depressing psychological drama, and we walked out of the worst one because it seemed pointless, another bad play. Every play so far was British. I wonder what’s up with that. Obviously, the last play will not be, but it will give them the occasion to do bad Brooklyn and Bronx accents instead of bad British ones.

Saturday evening, I had to come home and bake a couple of pie shells in preparation for Sunday brunch at my niece’s house. Unfortunately, I neglected to check how long they were supposed to bake and burnt them. My husband had to go out and buy more rolled dough (because I don’t make pie crust), so I finished the second pair at about 9 PM.

Søren modeling his bathrobe.

Sunday morning is usually one of two days in the week I get to sleep in a little later. The other is Friday, but this week I stupidly scheduled a 9:30 AM doctor’s appointment. Since our doctor’s office is an hour away, I had to get up at 7. I had to get up at 8 on Sunday because I still had stuff to cut up for quiches and baking to do. The occasion was my great nephew Søren’s sixth birthday. He opened up one of my presents for him right away. My sister had told me he really wanted a fluffy bathrobe. I was surprised by this, because I remember full well how disappointing a gift of clothing was for us when we were kids. However, I bought him a nice red bathrobe and watched him open it with a bit of dread. Surprisingly, he was delighted.

I have a hard time getting over last year, when I bought him the thing he wanted most, tipped off by his mother. This for some reason gave him the idea that I could read his mind. So, for Christmas, he told me he knew I had gotten him what he wanted. I had no idea what that was, and he was very disappointed when he didn’t get whatever-it-is. Oh well, better to let him down sooner rather than later. Hence, my feelings about getting him a bathrobe. Of course, he was also thrilled with the shield his grandmother got him and some kind of complicated game that he got from his other grandmother.

We had a delicious birthday brunch with all my family members plus Søren’s other grandparents. Everyone brought great things to eat. And despite eating a bit of everything and even having eaten a piece of  cake, when I weighed in at Weight Watchers on Monday I had lost 2.2 pounds. This is  the first substantial loss I have had in over a year, so I must have been a lot better than I thought I was the rest of the week. A couple weeks ago when I had been sick during the first part of the week, I expected to lose weight, but I actually gained some. I hope I can continue with the loss now that I have lost more than a few tenths of a pound, which is what I usually lose if I don’t gain or stay the same.

Yesterday afternoon was nice enough to do some work outside. I hadn’t been down to our lower level in quite some time, and last week I noticed that the blackberry had grown up the side of the slope below and was going over the sidewalk toward the house and under the sauna. I went down there this afternoon and lopped off the blackberry that was across the sidewalk, cutting it up into small pieces and putting it in a lawn bag. In a couple of cases, I found that the blackberry had worked its way under the wooden walkway that goes to the sauna and had actually created roots there, on top of the concrete. It was creepy! It was also a lot harder work than I expected, so I didn’t get to trimming the dead flowers off my hydrangea bushes. The next nice day that I have time I’ll have to do that and prepare my garden for winter.

More wildlife spottings

I don’t know how they know this, but our former tenants told us that a bear had been spotted near the corner of our road and the main road, which is only about half a block from our house. My sister has maintained  we have a bear in the area, but I have never seen any sign of one. However, that makes me think a bit about the times that Luke seems to be barking at nothing in the woods above our house.

Similarly, my sister reported last week that she saw something that looked like a well-fed wolf in our neighborhood. I asked her if it could be a coyote, and she said, no, it was too big. Then my husband said he saw what looked like a wolf running down our road one morning. That same day, I took Luke out to the orchard and there was the “wolf,” running out of our orchard. It was a malamute. Luckily, Luke was behind me so he didn’t even notice the strange dog leaving our orchard.

I am surprised that neither Wayne nor Sue noticed it was wearing an orange collar. I don’t know who he belongs to. As far as I know, no one on our street has him unless he is a new dog. He ran across the road to our neighbors’ property and skirted it toward the farm on the main road that is next to our neighborhood but not in it, so maybe he lives there. I have heard a dog barking over there but never saw a strange dog in our neighborhood until now. It turns out my husband never heard of a malamute before. When I told him what it was, he said, “What?” I showed him a picture and he agreed that was it.

It’s hard to see, but Cougar Creek runs down the middle of this picture at the bottom of a narrow cleft.

Last week, Maja and I hiked again at Salmon Creek Park. This time, we got farther in and walked along a wilder area of the park along Cougar Creek. I have to admit to liking the park more after going farther from the urban part of it, the baseball fields, etc. We did about a four-mile hike.

Not much else of interest has been happening lately. I have been thinking about buying my fall bulbs, as every year I plant more daffodils and crocuses in my orchard. This is earlier than usual, but fall is coming on strong. Today, the high is only supposed to be in the 50’s with the lows getting into the 30’s, and there is frost on the ground for the first time this fall. It has been alternating cold, rainy with cool, sunny days. On the rainy ones, we tend to light a fire on our stove and stay in with a book. Today it is cold and sunny for a change.

I don’t know what exactly it is, but ever since we got the chimney cleaned this time, our stove has been heating up the house really fast. I noticed during the evenings this week that by the time we went to bed, the living room was too hot for me, and this was after only having the wood stove lit in the evening. When the fire department came out last year, they broke some parts of our stove running water down the chimney. They said we could still safely operate the stove, but this fall the chimney sweep installed the new parts. I don’t know if it’s the parts, the cleanness of the stove, or the good wood we bought this year, but the stove is really heating things up. Before, it used to take all day of feeding wood into the fire before the living room got too hot.

This weekend on one of the sunny days, I put on my bramble-proof gloves and tried to cut back some of the blackberry on the slope behind our house. After a time of working, I didn’t feel as if I had made any progress, even though I had a big pile of blackberry bramble on the grass behind me. I decided it would make more sense to wait until winter, after the leaves died off and I could see what I was doing. The next day it was still nice, so I went back out and clipped up the brambles into short lengths and put them in a yard bag. Last spring, when I cut back bramble down by the pond, I just threw the pieces back on top of the bramble. I didn’t realize they would reroot. They are all still green now, despite having been cut months ago.

Luke continues to steal my shoes, so I have to shut them in the closet or put them up high. The other night, he actually opened the closet door and came running out into the living room with one of my shoes in his mouth. That’s not so bad, because he hasn’t chewed any, but one night last week he was looking for trouble, went into the bedroom and got one of my bras off a chair. I had to throw it away after I got it back from him, because he tore it to pieces.


A flower from Mars

My artichoke flower, looking like a flower from Mars, if Mars had any flowers. The actual flower looks more purple than blue.

My artichoke plant produced a premature (they’re not supposed to make an artichoke for three years, but it did it in one) but small artichoke, so I did not eat it. After all, there are two of us. I just let it flower, and it came out beautifully Martian looking, like a giant purple heather, about four inches in diameter. I took this picture a few days ago, and it is already several inches wider, about six inches across now. I hope that next year I will get more than one artichoke.

This week we did all our normal activities. I finished my starfish in art class and have only to complete the foreground, which my instructor says should be this week. My neighbor Maja and I went on a hike to Frenchman’s Bar in Vancouver over by Vancouver Lake. It was a hot and humid day, and we didn’t walk as far as we usually do. There wasn’t a lot of shade on the trail. We took Luke to class on Saturday.

Before class on Saturday, though, something happened that I probably shouldn’t mention, as it is not conclusive. My art teacher called me to say that they were having an exhibit of Medallion art school student and teacher work at the Vancouver Library in early September, and invited me to submit a picture. She said she was just asking her more advanced students. She wanted me to submit my painting of Mont St. Michel, but the entry had to be framed and wired. Since that painting was a large square canvas, I never got it framed, just hung the canvas on the wall, because I knew it would be too expensive. The paintings I have framed were ones I could buy ready-made frames for.

I would like to show my starfish, but there’s no telling how long it will take to dry. I am finishing it this week, but if it wasn’t dry by next week, the timing would be tight. I would hardly have time to have it framed.

So, on Saturday afternoon, after our neighbors’ open house (which we attended with Luke), I took the Mont St. Michel painting to Craft Warehouse. First, the framing lady and I picked out a very nice frame and it costed out at about $375. I said no, so we costed out another frame. $175. I said I had hoped it would be cheaper. So, she said that the frames with red tags on them were half price. We got a neutral one for $80. The price was right, although still a lot more expensive than any of my other framing jobs.

Of course, there is no guarantee that my painting will be in the show. Neither I nor my teacher know how they are going to select the paintings, since they are only showing 35. That’s why I said this might be premature.

In another recurring theme, I applied for another part-time job at the library. They fairly often have openings, but the library is regional, and by regional, I mean that they serve several counties. For example, two jobs were advertised this week in White Salmon. I looked up where that was, and it takes two hours to get there, one way. It is, I think, two counties away from me. Those jobs seem to be the ones that pop up most often and sometimes stay open a while. However, this time they were advertising for a pool of assistants to work in Clark County libraries. We live in Clark County, and I think the farthest one away might be a 45-minute drive. So, doable. Last time I applied for one of these jobs, I got a note from the HR person, who is always the same woman, saying, “We got your application,” and nothing else. This time, she said, “Thanks for your application. You’ll be hearing from us next week.” So, that sounds more hopeful. They had pool jobs a few months ago, and just recently I saw them showing all the successful candidates through our local library. I know I could do just as good a job as any of them.

Sunday was a day with some different activities than usual. My friend Deb came in from Portland, and we spent a couple hours picking berries. First, we picked wild blackberries on our property. We did this last year and got about one basket worth, but this year, we came away with a large two-gallon bag full. Yet, most of the areas around the house still have unripe berries. We got this many only from a place where they hang over the wall from the staircase above and at the end of the wolf pen.

Then, we had an invitation from Maja to come pick blueberries. She has a blueberry plantation that of late years has not produced well, but last year half the bushes had a lot of berries, and this year, there were even more. After Deb took the berries she wanted, I had seven pounds of berries, and we stopped picking when there were still a lot of berries. We were just tired. I would not make a good agricultural worker.

After picking berries, we drove into town for lunch and then went to see the movie Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I enjoyed this book very much when I read it eight years ago, but I did feel as if it was a little overrated, it was so popular. I thought it was a fun light read. However, it made a very good movie, although I thought I remembered a slightly different ending. I was surprised to find it was a Richard Linklater movie, but then I guess I wasn’t. After all, we went to see Bernie several times, because we kept taking our friends to see it. Cate Blanchett is wonderful as usual, and the girl who plays her daughter, Emma Nelson, is quite a find.

On Monday, being overloaded with berries, I started out to make pies and freezer jam, but I saw that freezer jam required too many blackberries. I decided to make pies my priority. Last year, I was only able to make one pie with the berries I picked, and that was with adding raspberries from the store. This year, I had more than enough berries to make two pies. I still have a lot of blueberries and about two cups of blackberries. I think I may try to make a small amount of freezer jam with the blackberries. In any case, in a few weeks I will have the opportunity to pick more. Deb had brought me some huckleberries, so this year my mixed berry pies were blueberry, blackberry, and huckleberry.

My pies. This year they were blueberry, blackberry, and huckleberry.

The pies came out great, and that evening we took one over to my brother’s house to give to him and my sister-in-law. They invited us to have a piece, and we ended up staying so late to talk that we decided to pick up a pizza (not the easiest thing to do here, where you have to drive 20 minutes to Battle Ground just to get a decent one), not a Weight Watchery type choice. We called it in as soon as we had phone service (none up by my brother’s for my phone) and made it there just a few minutes before they closed. In fact, I think we got home about 9:15 and had dinner.

The weather has been going back and forth between cool and hot, always cold in the morning and sometimes hot in the afternoon. We are already seeing signs of fall, though.


Close encounters of the herd kind

I have lamented a few times lately that we hardly ever see deer around our place anymore. However, last week we were sitting in our living room when a doe strolled up our driveway. When she got directly across from us, she cut up the slope and hopped the fence into our neighbors’ woods. Then, yesterday morning I took Luke down to the orchard. He was chewing his stick (branch, actually—he hauled a branch down from the lower drive to the middle of the orchard and has to chew it every time we go to the orchard) and I walked over toward the wolf pen to sit in the chair we have there. But when I got to the doorway of the pen, I realized a doe was trapped in the pen by my presence in the doorway. The fencing there is about six feet high, so she couldn’t jump it.

I looked back to see what Luke was doing, and he was oblivious. He barks at every movement of every tree when he is inside, but when he is outside, he doesn’t seem to notice bunnies running away and now deer. I moved away from the doorway and tried to get her to walk out of the pen, but when I looked back, I couldn’t see her. Now, I didn’t think even the most agile deer could jump the fence, so I walked back and saw she had hidden in the shelter there where the goats used to stay and before that, the wolves.

So, I decided she wasn’t going to be able to come out unless we left. I lured Luke back up to the house with the promise of cheese, and when we got inside, I went to the back of the house to see if she was still there. She was standing in the wolf pen munching grass, but she left shortly thereafter.

It’s unusual to see a single deer. Until recently, we had always seen them in pairs, since we have a local doe who has a pair of fawns each year, and the last time we sighted deer often, we saw four together each time, a pair from two successive years. I am afraid that perhaps this doe’s sibling was killed. It’s nice that the deer are showing up, anyway. Perhaps they come through all the time and we just don’t see them.

My husband seems to be back to normal, but we had one more poisoned berry episode before he did. This time, when I repeated that he had read it took 10 to 15 berries to poison yourself and he only ate one, he said it depended on how you counted the berries. He said there were a whole bunch of little berries on one stem. In other words, he ate an unripe blackberry! This time, instead of patiently explaining away his concerns (after all, the berry he described looked nothing like a nightshade berry—that’s the thing I just can’t get past on the sheer lack of logic of this whole obsession), I just started yelling at him, “You have not poisoned yourself! You are not going to die!” Patience is not one of my virtues, and I’m afraid mine wore out. After all, we had the same discussion on three different days since that Sunday, which was a full week after he ate the berry, and if he had actually eaten a poisoned berry, he would have been long dead. The subject hasn’t come up since then.

There is obviously something seriously wrong with my husband, and it doesn’t have to do with poisoned berries. I was hoping to get a chance to talk to his doctor by myself and ask him to do an evaluation for dementia, but I didn’t get to talk to him. Perhaps I can bring it up at my next check-up, and he can leave himself a note about it.

Along the driveway near the road, I have three hydrangea bushes. One has the blue showy blooms that we usually think of. Another has purple blooms, and the third has blue, flatter blooms, as if they are growing in a plane. The blue, showy plant looked beautiful when we first saw the house, but it is half dead now, because it is being overshadowed by a walnut tree, which is growing out to the side because of the large fir that is overshadowing it.  However, lately I have noticed two blooms of hydrangea growing on the slope in front of the house, the blue ones. They must have planted themselves there. I’m not sure whether they are the poofy blooms or the flatter ones. I hope the plants will have enough sunlight, but I think there is likely to be even less sun there.

I got jealous of one my fellow book bloggers this week, who wrote a post about review copies he had received from Furrowed Middlebrow. I had a few contacts with publishers before I retired, but I lost those contacts when I moved. So, I got up the courage to send emails to three British publishers of reprints whose books I like, Furrowed Middlebrow, Poisoned Pen Press, and Persephone Press, and all of them have promised me review copies. Of course, I have always been able to get the Poisoned Pen books from Netgalley, but I really don’t like reading books online. Reviews will be coming up on whatmeread!

We didn’t do anything special for our Wednesday hike this week, just went to Lewisville Park. It was just me and a woman from art class, Jane, and I wasn’t sure how fit she would be, so we picked something easy. Later on, she told me that she didn’t think she’d be hiking with us if we went north, which is what we usually do.

In art class, I moved on from aqua spots to yellow ones. These are larger and more nuanced. Some of them have large dark areas. They’re going relatively quickly, however.

I skipped doggie class this week because it was the end of the month. On the last class of the month, they always do something called “organized chaos,” where they have different things you can get your dog to do, like going through tunnels, balancing on things, weaving through cones. I really hate this class, because neither I nor Luke like to do some of the activities, and the class always seems like it lasts twice as long as usual. So, this time, I decided not to go. As a result, Luke was overly energized all weekend. In other words, he was a pain in the butt.

I also inadvertently skipped Weight Watchers. Luke’s Puppy Play class is on different days this week, so I meant to have Wayne drop me off on the way to taking him, but I completely forgot. We just took him to Puppy Play and then went to Costco.

A handsome dog modeling before lots o firewood

The only thing out of the ordinary that happened this week was that we finally got firewood delivered for the winter. Wayne has started stacking it in the garage, but he hasn’t brought out our racks yet. Usually, I help him stack it and it takes us both several days.

It has been a cool summer so far. Just this week, we are finally getting into a string of days with higher temperatures. It will be close to 100 down in Portland next week. However, up here it isn’t supposed to get out of the high 80’s. It’s nice living just a little bit higher up.


Poor puppy

Luke lying around depressed

The big thing going on this week, actually on Monday, is that Luke got neutered. The poor thing is now lying around depressed, first because he doesn’t feel well, and second because he often has this stupid cone around his neck. We take it off as often as we can, but when we do, he immediately tries to lick his sutures, which we can’t allow him to do. Poor puppy. He’ll be missing at least this week of Puppy Play and Train.

Last Wednesday, only Autumn and I made the hike, although we took her dog Frankie and Luke. We tried Salmon Creek Park because dogs are allowed. Autumn is house-sitting for Maja this month and can’t leave her dog home with Maja’s cats because he’s afraid of cats. It was a cool day but super muggy. The park turned out to be more urban than expected. It’s a nice park for city dwellers, but we’re more used to hiking in wilder areas. But it was more because of the mugginess that we decided fairly soon to turn back. Although the park got a little wilder as you went on, we were just feeling uncomfortable. It does have a nice big swimming hole near the parking lot that might be fun to explore at another time. (Dogs aren’t allowed in that area of the park.)

Because both my niece and sister were sick, I also went to art class alone. I am working now on finicky aqua spots, where I paint them in a darker color and then come back across them with white speckles and sometimes yellow or black ones. While I finished the other colors of spots in one class, so far, I have been working on these for two and have just finished one arm of my starfish, three arms of which are visible.

On Friday we picked up our friend Christine and all went to breakfast at Elmer’s. Then we went back to her house for a while and let Luke and Duchess run around her back yard. She has a beautiful yard, full of flowers, but doesn’t mind the dogs running through them. I ate too much at breakfast, though, and had to lie down when we came back.

Luke had his first class in a while on Saturday. He actually did pretty well considering that he loses his brains if he misses class. One good thing about it was they held it in the front room instead of the back. The back is open to the elements and is covered in astroturf, and they let the dogs pee back there. So, Luke spends every class back there trying to put his nose to the ground and completely loses all concentration.

Hillary stopped eating chicken. I gave her some leftovers of some fish we ate the other night, and she just gobbled them up. So, I poached her a whole fish yesterday. Now, every time I come into the kitchen, she begs for fish. I hope this won’t be like the other foodstuffs—that she’ll eat it ravenously for a while and then start turning up her nose at it, just when I begin to think she might recover. Right now, she only seems to be eating the fish and some cottage cheese, and I’m not sure the cottage cheese is good for her. But at this point, I’ll give her anything she will eat.

Over the weekend, I started mowing the orchard. I began Saturday afternoon but only did about a third of it. It was just too hot. Then, the temperature went down drastically on Sunday. I worked on it Sunday morning and afternoon and got all but one little strip of it done. I intended to finish that on Monday, but it was raining on and off all day. In any case, we had to get up at 5 AM in order to get Luke to the vet by 7, so I decided it wasn’t the day to be mowing.

Here’s my first tomato of the season.

And when we came back from the vet, I harvested my first tomato of the season. It is supposed to be a big one, at least according to the label on the plant, but is only about three inches in diameter. However, it is nice and red. I hope it won’t be my only tomato of the year, like the yellow one was last year. I do have several more on the vines of both plants, but right now the largest is about an inch in diameter.

A scent of fresh Heyer

One of the pleasures of this weekend was a visit to a small local theater where Deb and I saw they were doing a play based on a Georgette Heyer book, The Talisman Ring. Now, I am not a romance reader, but I have been fond of Georgette Heyer’s clever and funny Regency romances since I was in college, and I introduced Deb to them last year. So, when I saw that this tiny theater was doing an Heyer-based play, we just had to get tickets.

The poster for The Talisman Ring

The play was in the Love Street Playhouse in Woodland, Washington. It holds fewer than 100 people and has a very small stage, hampered by doors that have to be opened to make it a little larger. We were delightfully surprised at the production. It is one of Heyer’s typically frothy stories with a complicated plot about a lost heir, a false accusation of murder, and a lost ring. We found it original in its approach to some difficulties (not being able to have horses on stage, for example) and very funny. The two female leads were particularly good. I was struck by a scene where the standard dashing hero (who, if you know Heyer, you will know is not the actual hero of the play) flings one of the heroines onto his horse and rides off into the woods. The couple merely sat on a bench with wheels, while people holding branches and small trees ran past them.

Anyway, we found it lots of fun (despite being hampered by having one of the actors from the Magenta Theater in a lead role—the weakest performance, we thought) and have decided to get tickets for their next production, And Then There Were None.

Luke and I also had some sort of visitation last week. I was outside in the garden and he was on the front lawn chewing his bone. At one point, he suddenly ran from the front yard past the garden, which is in the side yard. Just as he did that, a creature ran the same direction only up above me on the ridge above our front yard. It was large and made a lot of noise but ran swiftly, too fast for a human. Oddly, it wasn’t Luke that ran last. He wasn’t running after it, it began running after he did but did not come down to our level. I didn’t see it, but I think it sounded too large and noisy to be a deer. In any case, if it had been an animal that was startled by Luke, it would have run first, not last. I talked it over with my pack walk ladies, and one of them suggested it might be a cougar or a bear. Right above us on the ridge, which is about the height of our one-story house. And I suspect that if it ran after Luke did, it was stalking him and did nothing because it saw me at the last moment. I have been keeping a much closer eye on him when he’s been outside on his own (which he doesn’t like to do anyway; he is constantly asking to go out but then refusing to go unless I go with him).

Shawn and I on the 45th Parallel trail at Whipple Creek Park, this photo sneakily taken by Nancy

Last Wednesday, we went to Whipple Creek Park for our hike. We had originally planned to take a very easy hike, because my niece wanted to bring her friend, who is not fit. However, they cancelled because my niece was sick. It was the first hike for my sister-in-law, Nancy, so we went somewhere a little more interesting. At her suggestion, instead of just hiking the main paths, we took a secondary path that cut right through the middle of the park. It was actually an easier path than the main ones, because it had very little elevation change. We were the only ones on that path, although we passed several runners and horse riders on the main paths.

There was no puppy play again for Luke this week, and no classes either, so on Friday, Christine and I took our dogs for a walk in Lewisville Park. It was starting to get warm by the time we finished, a trend that continued until Monday, when a thunderstorm and a cold front came in. The temperature went down Monday evening about 10 degrees in a few minutes, and it continues to be cooler than average.

Hillary continues to improve, I think. She has changed from eating kitten food to eating chicken breast lunch meat (low sodium). It is probably not really good for her, but everything else she chose to eat, she stopped eating after a day or two. Not only has she been eating the chicken breast since Friday, but she has been devouring it, begging for more almost every time I pass her. I hope to see her gain some weight and seem a little less weak. We tried giving her chicken breast that we cooked and tore up about a week ago, but she did not eat it. There must be something about the softer texture of the lunch meat that she likes. Wayne is not enjoying the expense, but if she’ll eat it, she gets it, as far as I’m concerned.

In art class, I finished the blackish teal color and started painting some aqua spots on the starfish. These spots are speckled in the photo I am painting from, and to re-create the effect, I am painting them with a slightly darker color and then dotting them with white while the paint is still wet. It took me a long time just to do a few. In a few instances, I noticed some yellow as well as white, so I have dotted some of them with yellow. I didn’t get very far doing these spots last week, and this week there is no class because of the holiday.

My first batch of green peas

In the garden, I’ve started to pick spinach and I have harvested just a few pods of green peas. Last year, I only got enough peas to add a few to a mixed vegetable dish. This year, I have that many already and a bunch more pods coming in.

The other notable thing I did this week was finish reading a book written by my middle brother. Although it is fiction, it is based on true events in our family, some of which I knew about and some not. It was difficult for me to read, and I admit to being a little freaked out about it.