Viral mania

Those of you who read my blog regularly have probably guessed that I have a challenging relationship with one of my sisters-in-law, although I have been gritting my teeth to keep things pleasant. Well. So, I talked about part of this issue last week. There is now one case of coronavirus in Clark County, but Wayne and I have decided that the likelihood of us encountering that guy’s germs, or the germs of anyone with whom he was in contact, to be slim. And, in fact, no more cases have emerged in the county since this one was announced almost a week ago.

My local relatives have taken the most cautious approach of staying at home most of the time, and that’s fine. However, Wayne and I have decided to continue to live our life normally until things look more alarming in the county. As life around the area looks fairly normal, I’m guessing most of the local people have decided the same thing. My Weight Watchers meeting was just as full as it usually is (I lost 2.2 pounds!), and almost everyone has been coming to the dog classes and tai chi. My neighbor Maja went ahead and had her sweat lodge ceremony this weekend as planned.

So, we come to our Tuesday hike. When I sent out the message on Monday to see who wanted to come, Maja said that she did and my sister-in-law  (SIL from now on) suggested a place to hike. I did not know she had invited my niece and her family, but that was fine. The difficulty came about when Maja decided to drop out, because her hip has been bothering her and she doesn’t want to miss tai chi.

The plan had been to meet at SIL’s house, and after Maja dropped out, I said I didn’t have a ride. That is because, since we shifted our hiking day to Tuesday, I have not had the car, since that is one of the days that Luke goes to puppy play and Wayne has physical therapy. SIL messaged me asking if my car was in the shop, and the next thing I knew she was calling me. I told her that I never had the car on Tuesday because that was Luke’s puppy play. There was a few minute’s silence, and then SIL began interrogating me about the measures we were taking to avoid the virus. Wasn’t I observing social distancing? Didn’t I know not to attend large events? (I usually meet three or four people at puppy play.) She called it a class, but even after I explained that all we did was drop Luke off and pick him up, she kept asking me about what I was doing. I finally said that Wayne and I were living our normal life like we said we were going to do (on an earlier messaging round with the family).

She got really wound up and began saying things like “If I am going to allow you to ride in my car . . .” basically she had some say in my behavior. I told her that if she was uncomfortable going with me then I would stay home. (Note that this started out to be my hiking expedition.) Even then, she kept trying to tell me how Wayne and I should be behaving, so I finally hung up on her. It is as though she can’t take a polite hint. Earlier, she kept sending me articles about the virus and to get her off my back, I told her I wasn’t interested in medical issues (which is true, but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention, which she seems to have taken it to mean). In answer to that, she sent me another article.

As if that were not enough, when I got up Tuesday morning, I had an email from her entitled “Please read.” It quoted the King County health department and said that all at-risk people should avoid large gatherings and try to stay home as much as possible. I wrote back and said, “King County. That’s up by Seattle.” Then I again explained about the odds of getting the virus with only one case in the county, and no additional cases emerging in the last week. Finally, since I was sick of all this, I told her that what we decided to do wasn’t her business, just as what she decided to do wasn’t our business, and that I wasn’t going to talk about it anymore.

Of course, since she doesn’t seem to be able to control herself, she had to answer back, saying, among other things mostly implying that I was criminally oblivious, that she wanted me to remove her from my hiking contact list and any other event lists until after the contagion had left the area. As if she can get the virus over the internet.

So, I guess I’ve alienated SIL, but if she wouldn’t always be trying to tell me what to do, this wouldn’t have happened. Wayne says he’s happy she doesn’t want to be around us. Frankly, after the way she treated my other brother, so am I. I wonder what my oldest brother, her husband, thinks of all this. I guess I’m not going to find out, although I’m sure she spent the hike with my niece traducing me. I know my niece agrees with her about the risks, but that’s not the issue here.

And actually, after the hike I got a nice message from my niece saying she was sorry I had missed it and inviting me to go with her some other time.

The rest of the week was normal. We’ve had a lot of very nice days lately, so we’ve been doing yard work. We have a burn pile of blackberry bramble in the middle of the wolf pen. Wayne was going to burn that today, which was supposed to be partly sunny, but we woke up to mist and a bit of rain. Around here, you always see guys burning piles in the rain in the early spring, but Wayne’s been waiting for the perfect day. I hope he does it today, because I don’t want the blackberry bramble to sit there so long that it reroots in the wolf pen.

I spent a few hours ripping up the smaller blackberry vines that were trying to smother several of our bushes and a poor little Japanese maple that’s been struggling along since I planted it. It is too high up on the ridge during summer for me to do anything with it, but since the foliage around it is dead so I could see what I was doing, I was able to remove most of the vines from it from as far up as I could climb. I just won’t be able to do much about the vines that attack it this summer until next spring. Still, those little suckers did their best to trip me when I was going back down the ridge to put the dead ones on my pile.

In the orchard the crocuses are all out now and the daffodils have started to bloom. We have a duck family in the pond. We have had ducks there on and off all spring, but this time I swear I saw ducklings. It seems early for them, but although they were hard to see, I counted two large ducks and several smaller swimming things around them when I looked out early this morning from the kitchen window. I hope the ducklings will make it for a change.

Wayne has not made it to tai chi (big surprise), but now he’s saying he will start it when our class starts over in April. I should be taking Luke to Monday night class since we haven’t been going to tai chi, but inertia keeps setting in. And anyway, that’s one set of germs I’m avoiding weekly.

No picture today. I thought I’d have one of our hike, but that’s how things go.

Some of my traveling friends will be delighted to hear that I finally got Wayne to finish filling out his passport renewal application, and he just left to put our applications into the mail. Our passports expired the year we moved here. That was not a good time to have one more thing to attend to, so I let them lapse, and since then we’ve been lazy about getting new ones. We don’t have any traveling plans yet, but one friend has proposed England and Scotland for next year. Yay!

A new hike

Here’s a look at the trail in a place not next to the river (it’s beyond a little island) but from which we had a great view of Mt. Hood. It looks barely visible in the middle of my photo, but it was actually very noticeable.

Our weather has been exceptionally changeable this week. On Sunday, for example, we woke up to nice sunny skies, but by the time I was ready to go out, it was cold and rainy again. However, yesterday was gorgeous, so Maja and I did a nice-day hike we’ve never taken before, the Columbia River Dike Trail. It’s completely flat along the top of a dike, but it’s long enough to get a good walk in. We did not go all the way but managed to hike about 5.5 miles. The trail follows the Columbia River west toward the gorge, and although it is industrial next to the trail for a while, when you get up next to the Steigenwald Wildlife Reserve, the industrial sites are gone. Hanging above us for our entire hike was Mt. Hood. We have had a lot of rainy days this year but not so many really beautiful days like this.

On the way back to the car, we encountered two women who were putting Mardi Gras beads around people’s necks. What a fun thing to do. I had forgotten it was Fat Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is much more present down in Texas than here.

Another major thing going on this week is that Friday we got our Sleep Number bed delivered. I have to confess to mixed experiences with it. So far, I have had one good night of sleep and a couple of uncomfortable nights. I don’t think I’ve figured out my sleep number yet. Wayne is still waking up in the middle of the night but says he’s sleeping a little longer. Part of what’s hard to get used to is not having a three-inch memory foam pad on the bed anymore. I’m used to sinking into our bed a few inches and then having support underneath. We could cut a slit in the top of the pad (we bought a top-split bed because of Wayne’s sleep apnea), and put the pad back on, but the bed is supposed to keep us cooler at night, and those pads make you hotter. There’s no point in making the bed not be able to perform one of its functions. I get hot enough at night.

Lately, I’ve been getting a little bit back into creativity by editing my brother John’s book manuscript. He tends to make the same types of grammatical and punctuation errors, so I’m making him work by explaining the rules to him and making him search for the changes. He says he’s learning something. The thing that makes editing boring is that almost all amateur writers (and some professional ones) make the same mistakes over and over. They’re just different mistakes from other people’s. I worked on his earlier draft a bit, but then he told me to stop because he’d rewritten it extensively. I can’t really tell the difference. I think he’s telling a good story. He just has a few little writing quirks to clean up, and he really likes complicated sentences.

Lukey did really well in dog class both on Saturday and on Monday night, heeling mostly off leash and then doing an exercise where we put the dog on place, walk away and call them, and then walk off and ask them to heel as they approach. Then we walk back toward their place and stop well back from it to send them to place. He pretty much perfectly did this exercise every time, completely off leash, just trailing his little leash behind him, except that sometimes he came to heel on my wrong side. (He’s supposed to be on my left.) The only time he broke when he was supposed to be on place was one time when another dog owner called her dog in a really high-pitched voice. For some reason that made several dogs break and run toward their owners, Luke among them. Still, I can see that I’m closer to the point when I’ll be able to take Luke off-leash to places like the beach and he’ll just follow me around. Of course, I’ll always have a leash handy in case I need one.

Starting next Monday, Luke will miss his Monday night classes for a month, because I am going to be attending a tai chi class in Orchards, a suburb of Vancouver. I’m doing this because Wayne was told by his physical therapist that tai chi would be good for him. I tried to get him to go to my class when it started, but it’s a four-month class, and now they won’t let new people in until the next one starts. So, for a month we’ll go to the class in Orchards, and I will also continue to go to my Wednesday class in Battle Ground, then in April Wayne will start over again when the beginning Battle Ground class restarts. I can already tell I will need to repeat the beginning class, maybe even several times, before I go into something more advanced. I am slow to learn anything physical.

 

 

Let there be light

First, a miracle occurred! About a year and a half ago, the second fluorescent light in my closet started to go out. (The other one was out already.) When I mentioned that I needed new bulbs, Wayne suggested that we change out the fixture for LEDs, as they are more energy efficient and he has done that throughout the house. We soon bought a fixture for the closet, which we put under the dresser in the guest room. Time passed. My other bulb went from flickering a lot to being completely out, and since then I have been going into my closet with a  flashlight or just feeling around for things. I complained about it several months ago, and Wayne installed a camping lantern in my closet that was almost as bad as no light at all. My friend Christine suggested I go out and buy fluorescent bulbs and install them myself, but I kept forgetting to measure the fixture.

And lo and behold, yesterday Wayne brought a ladder in from the garage. I could hardly bear to hope, but yes, I now have a new light fixture in my closet! I only had to go a year without any light! For some reason he didn’t install it straight in the closet. It is at an angle to the wall. But beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it! It is very bright!

Lukey enjoying the new snow. He just loves playing in the snow. I shot a video of him playing but was unable to transfer it from my phone to my computer. I’m not sure my template supports video anyway, as it didn’t last time I tried to upload a video.

I have to admit to not having done very much the last week. We had a week where it snowed just about every day, and it was so nice to sit in front of the fire with a book that that’s about what I did. Of course, I continued to take Luke to class, and in my art class, I began painting my pigs. I went to tai chi again, this time with Maja, but we did not go for a hike.

And speaking of Luke, he is going through a stretch of naughtiness after being relatively well behaved for some time. The first thing he did was steal my bookmark off the coffee table and rip it to shreds. He hasn’t been taking things off the table, so I let my guard down. Next, he stole one of my socks out of the dirty laundry, but this time, at least, he didn’t tear it up. He just took it into his crate, and it missed its turn in the laundry, since I didn’t discover that he’d taken it until I finished the washing.

On Sunday morning, my only day to sleep in during the week, I tried to sleep a little later than Wayne and Luke. However, he stayed outside my bedroom door growling and scratching on the door, so I finally gave up and got up. I know I’m forgetting at least one more minor misbehavior, but now I’m at the big ones. On Saturday night, he vomited copiously into his bed. After I cleaned it up, I discovered why. He had gotten up on his hind legs and stolen the butter off the kitchen counter. Then he ate it, all the butter we had in the house, about a stick and a half. At least, I found the half stick on the floor, but it was covered in teeth marks, so I threw it out.

Finally, I took him out to the orchard Monday morning without his e-collar, and he ran straight into the road and across the street and did not come back when called. That’s a serious misbehavior, as he gets to go out without a leash around our property because he can be relied upon to come when called. Then he started down the road as if to call on his friend Rosie, but he came back and got dragged ignominiously home. He doesn’t really have it in him to actually run off as he prefers being around me. Nevertheless, I put his e-collar on him first thing in the morning ever since then.

This is just one bunch of the many mushrooms we saw along the path. I don’t think they are edible, more’s the pity, but they are certainly pretty.

Yesterday we went for the first regular hike since the holidays began, perhaps the first one since November, although I went out a couple of times with John and once with Lucie. It was me, Maja, and Nancy. We just went to Moulton Falls Park because it was supposed to rain, and it was raining by the time we turned back. We saw an area where they’d been cutting trees that was just loaded with mushrooms. As always, it was a beautiful walk.

 

 

A more ordinary week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Another hiking kerfuffle, and I miss my niece’s party

I have mentioned a couple of times that Maja and I started out several weeks ago to find the North Siouxon Creek Trail and ended up getting lost and hiking the Siouxon Trail. A couple weeks after that, when Maja and I had been discussing returning with better directions to find the North Siouxon Creek Trail, Nancy talked us into doing Silver Star, which just about killed me. While we were hiking that day, I told Nancy all about the Siouxon debacle, and when I was explaining to her about trying to find North Siouxon Creek Trail, she kept referring to Siouxon Trail as if I was confused. Although I told her they were two different trails, it was clear to me that she was so sure she was right, she wasn’t even hearing me. This from a woman who has only lived in the area a few months.

This is relevant because of what happened this last week. Because Nancy told us she wouldn’t be able to hike on Wednesdays, Maja and I, being the two regular hikers, just went ahead and planned to go find North Siouxon Creek Trail on Wednesday. Then we sent an announcement about our plans out to see if anyone else wanted to come. It turned out Nancy did, as long as we could get back in time for her to do an errand. Maja needed to get back early, too, so that was no problem. Note that we clearly sent out the name of our hike.

I also suggested that we take my car, because I noted that the last time we were up there, Maja’s GPS didn’t show any of the road names, whereas mine did. Since Nancy has the same car as me but without GPS, and Nancy always has to drive because she gets anxious if anyone else does, I suggested that either we take two cars or she drive mine. (Don’t tell Wayne.) She accepted my invitation. Because she always comes with lots of handouts, I printed out the driving directions and the trail description, but I did not print out the trail map, because she said she would bring it. (Maja and I don’t usually take trail maps with us, but then again, we’ve been doing relatively easy hikes until now.)

When we picked up Nancy, we began giving out our handouts, and as soon as I saw her map, I said, “This isn’t the right hike. We’re going on the North Siouxon Creek Trail, not the Siouxon Trail.” She had printed out the map for the Siouxon Trail, the one she was so fixated on the week before that she hadn’t even heard me tell her I was talking about a different one. She said, “But this is the hike I planned to take.” I told her that Maja and I had just been there few weeks before. First, she seemed to be demanding we change our plans, but we kept saying we wanted to find this other trail. Then, she began trying to find reasons not to go on the hike we picked. For one thing, she interpreted the directions I had for driving there as if there was no way to get there, when there clearly was. Then, she grabbed the trail description out of my hands and started reading it and saying “I won’t do that. Nope, I’m not doing that,” as it talked about crossing some creeks and so on. I was sitting there thinking how absurd it was, since Maja and I were willing to try it, and she is much fitter than us. It was only a moderate hike after all. Finally, just about at the point when I was about to say, “Well, if you don’t want to go, Maja and I would like to get going,” she said, “Did you bring the trail map?” I said no, she had said she would. She said, “I won’t hike without a trail map,” and jumped out of the car and went to print it. You can imagine that Maja and I were pretty flabbergasted about the way she reacted.

By the time she returned to the car, she had settled down. We had thankfully very specific directions for getting there, since the way she navigates is to want to know the exact mileage to numerous checkpoints, and she watches her odometer to look for the next one. It’s kind of disconcerting when you are trying to give her instructions to somewhere you know how to get to but have no idea of the mileage. (I don’t do numbers.) She’ll continually ask how many miles it is to the next road. Our trip out to the trail was a bit convoluted, and a couple of times she felt the mileages were wrong. On our way back out, we checked them and they were mostly right, but this “wrongness” caused some incidents where Maja and I had to convince her to continue driving a bit farther to see if we were going the right way. We were.

On our way back from the trail, we stopped to take this picture of the bridge over the North Siouxon Creek.

Finally, we made it to the trailhead and had a very nice hike. The first part of the hike was downhill quite a ways, but not as steep or long as the Siouxon Trail, and I managed to handle the uphill at the end pretty easily. If you want, you can see my more thorough description of this hike on Fat Girls. It was a beautiful hike during which we met no other people, but we only went in a couple of miles because after making one easy creek crossing, we got to one that made me a little nervous. It was a choice between walking across a log that had a rope for a handrail or jumping from rock to rock in the creek. Maja did this easily, but I felt as if my balance wasn’t good enough, and Nancy said that Freckles had a wound she didn’t want to get wet in case he fell in. It was a short time before the turnaround time we had set in advance, so we turned around.

Most of the trail is low, along the creek, so here is a view up to the hills around.

Note that while we were taking the hike, Nancy mentioned that I had miscommunicated the name of the hike we intended to take. When I said something to Maja about that after we dropped Nancy off at home, she got a little indignant. She had been quiet during the entire debacle, but she then said that she thought I had handled it very well and that I had been very clear about which hike we planned to take.

The only other notable event for the week was the build-up to my niece’s annual Halloween party, which she was having on Saturday night. On Thursday, actual Halloween, I went over to her house to help her and her friends and the kids carve pumpkins for the Haunted Forest Walk. Then my sister and the kids and some of the other adults, but not, because it was her free night, my niece or her friend, went off to Battle Ground to trick or treat, and I went to art class. There I expected to find only a few adults and no kids, but actually one child came with her aunt, and we had a small class of six. It was kind of nice, because we got lots of attention from the teacher. She was a substitute for our regular teacher, and before I left she said it had been a pleasure to work with me. That was nice.

On Thursday, I was waiting to hear from a local woman who makes terrific cookies, because I thought I’d bring a treat to the party along with guacamole and chips. I prepared to make some pecan caramel spiders in case she couldn’t make my cookies in time, but she ended up being able to.

So, I was fairly free on Friday, not having to make candy. However, that’s when I began to feel bad. By the evening, when I was supposed to go over to my niece’s to do a run-through of the Haunted Forest Walk, I could tell I was getting sick. I went, but I was careful not to breathe into anyone’s face, touch anything, or spend much time talking to anyone. I just did the walk with everyone and then went home.

Sure enough, by Saturday I had a full-fledged cold. I skipped puppy class and sent Wayne into town to pick up the cookies. However, he set the GPS wrong and ended up going to the wrong house, so before long I had her calling to ask if I was picking up the cookies. I had to go back out with him to get them, which was when we realized he hadn’t used the GPS correctly. (It defaulted to an avenue, and he didn’t realize that if he kept putting in the address, he would get a choice of it and the same-numbered street.) He had anyway done his usual thing of leaving Luke in bed with me, which meant I didn’t get to rest because Luke kept trying to make me get up. So, I wasn’t actually getting to be sick in bed. We got the cookies, took out a few for us, and I sent them with the chips and avocados over to my niece’s house. I don’t know if they actually made the guacamole, but I thought it would be a bad idea if I made it.

So, actually, that was the rest of my week, because I missed my regular Monday activities, too, from being sick. Finally, on Tuesday, I felt better enough to do our usual things, which is dropping Luke off at play and train and doing errands, in this case going to Costco, finishing up with a visit to the library.

By the way, I heard from my middle brother, John. They have sold their house again, and everything appears to be going through. Their plan is to leave town sometime after closing, which is scheduled for the 26th, as long as his doctor give the okay. But he says that things look good for that. They will take their time coming out and arrive sometime in early or mid-December. Yay!

 

 

An arduous hike

The view from Silver Star that Nancy wanted to get to the top to see. This picture is copied from her trip report.

Last Wednesday started with an arduous (for me) hike that gave me aches and pains for a couple of days afterward. Maja and I wanted to return to the central part of Gifford Pinchot Forest to try to find the North Siouxon Creek Trail that is in a county park next to the forest, but my sister-in-law talked me into trying to hike Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista Trail.

Here’s the view from the point that I made it up the mountain, a little more than halfway up the trail.

I was reluctant to try this hike, because I have been hiking easy trails until recently, and we have only tried two moderate hikes. On some hiking sites, Grouse Vista was rated hard. Also, it is a 6.8-mile hike, and I have only hiked two 7-mile hikes, both of them on almost flat surfaces. This hike has an elevation change of more than 2000 feet. I’m fairly sure I haven’t hiked up anywhere near like 2000 feet. So, I was reluctant to go, but Nancy talked me into trying it, saying that an alternative was the Tarbell Trail to Hidden Falls, which was at the same trailhead.

The hike begins with a 0.8 uphill that is relatively steep and very rocky. It didn’t look completely undoable, however, so I bypassed the Tarbell Trail and continued upward. I had to stop lots of times for heavy breathing. Nancy lead me to believe, however, that that would be the toughest part of the hike and there would only be one more uphill that was considerably shorter. Well, I made it up, but the problem was that it was so hard for me to do it that when the trail leveled out, I was feeling really tired. We stopped for lunch and I still didn’t feel much better. So, by the time we rounded Pyramid Rock, one of the trail’s landmarks, and I saw a nice, flat rock to sit on, I decided to wait. I was thinking that I had to make it back out of there!

Nancy told me to have a rest and start back down, but Maja told me I shouldn’t try to go down by myself. She said she was going up another half hour and then she would come back for me. Since my brother John, who hikes all the time, told me once that you should never leave anyone behind on a hike, I felt that it was better for me to wait.

And it’s a good thing I did, because Maja came back reporting that the steep part at the top had been considerably steeper and the rocks bigger and loose. She did not make it to the top and fell once coming back down the loose rocks. Also, once we got back down to that last 0.8 miles, I found it was much harder to go down than come back up. By then, I was exhausted, and the rocks that seemed so well seated in the mud now showed an alarming tendency to roll. I had a major case of stumblefoot, and I had to pick my way slowly back down. While Maja and I were doing this (she would go down a way and wait for me), Nancy came walking right past us after having gone all the way to the top. She said she’d meet us at the car.

When we got to the junction of the Tarbell Trail, the path changed from rocks to a nice forest duff, so I thought I could then stride out and walk normally. But I’d been picking my way down for so long that I was unable to walk normally. I asked Maja, and she said the same. When I finally made it down to the car, I could barely walk across the road to where it was parked.

Nancy was very congratulatory about how well I did, but I will not willingly tackle a hike that hard for another long while. In fact, shockingly, she said, “I thought that when you saw the trail, you would just decide to take the Tarbell Trail.” This, after all the “you can do it” remarks and the implication that she would be willing to take the other path if I wanted to. It became plain to me that Nancy was determined to do that hike (well, that was obvious before when she wouldn’t accept any of my alternative suggestions) and nothing much else counted.

It wasn’t until about Sunday that I felt normal.

On Thursday before art class my sister and I went to see my great nephew Søren do his first belt test. He is in Little Tigers in taekwondo, and they were really cute. One of the kids was only three, and he had to be turned around and moved along by the instructors. He clearly had no clue what was going on. We saw Søren do his routine, but we couldn’t wait for the whole class to finish to watch him get his belt, or we would have been late for class.

On Sunday, Deb and I had theater tickets up at Love Street Playhouse in Woodland. The last time we attended a play up there, we looked at the options for lunch and finally went to the Ilani Casino in Ridgefield. That restaurant was overpriced and the food not that good, so this time I decided to make us lunch. That had me busy cleaning and cooking on Friday and Saturday.

We had a nice lunch of mushroom-artichoke soup, crab stuffed avocadoes, quiche, and cucumber sandwiches. We also had a pumpkin pie smackdown, where we both made pumpkin pie and tasted both. They both had their good points. Mine was sweeter and fluffier, hers was spicier and more pumpkiny.

Then we went to the play. It was And Then There Were None, the Sean Connery movie version, not the original book or play version. I have to say that we were a little disappointed after we saw such a refreshingly lively play this summer. We decided the acting just wasn’t that good, whereas this summer there were a few good actors.

And that’s about all of interest to happen this week. I am getting ready for my hike today.

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.