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.

Up in the forest

This week was highlighted by two visits to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The first was a bit of a debacle. My hiking friend, Maja, wanted to hike a trail called North Siouxon Creek. We stupidly started out just using her phone to get to the trailhead, even though we both have maps of the forest (which we left home). What happened was that well before we entered the forest, we lost our phone signal, so had no idea where we were going, and we had not thought to enter the destination coordinates into her GPS, which of course knew nothing about the trailhead. We referred to the written instructions on the AllTrails site, which we both had in memory, but they were pathetically bad, only mentioning the first road that took us from the highway toward the mountains. There were references to yellow gates, none of which we saw.

The view from Calamity Peak Road, showing some fall color

Finally, after going a long way up Calamity Peak Road, Maja decided to take my suggestion that we try FR-5701. She maintained that couldn’t be the road, since it wasn’t mentioned in the instructions. But hardly any roads were. After a long time of driving on a very poor paved road where lots of the pavement had buckled, we could see on her GPS that the road was ending. We were just thinking of turning around when we ran into a ranger, who told us the trailhead was at the end of the road. What we didn’t know was that it was the Siouxon Trailhead, which turns out not to be the trail we were heading for. After I reconnoitered later in the week and consulted a map, I saw that we were way off, and that the North Siouxon Creek Trailhead was actually in the Siouxon Creek County Park next to the national forest.

Despite an extra hour of bumbling around in the forest, we had a great time. We got to take a beautiful hike through deep forest and along the creek, even though we cut it short because we wasted so much time getting out there. The scenery on the way there, too, was breathtaking. It was a perfect time to go. There was some fall color and hardly anyone else on the trail.

So, that was our Wednesday hike. Very nice. I hope that this Wednesday we have another nice day so that we can go back and try the trail we meant to take. However, forecast so far is for rain that day. When it’s rainy, we stick to trails we know.

On Thursday, I had a busy day, puppy play and errands in the morning, my mammogram in the afternoon (oh joy unbounded), and art class in the evening. I got stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital for my mammogram, and that’s another story. Well, actually, two. The first is about the idiots at the traffic stop. I was going down a two-lane road to the hospital in the middle of the country, and I got to a place where they had flaggers. I was the only car there on both sides to start with, but they had the Stop sign up at both ends while this idiot slowly walked out and placed cones near the dividing line on my side of the road. There was absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have let me go slowly in the other lane, but no. Instead, I had to wait several minutes while this guy walked out and placed all his cones. By that time, there were two cars on the other side of the blocked area, and would you know it? They let them go first, even though I had been stuck there for several minutes before they showed up. Frankly, it made me want to run over their stupid cones and knock them back down, it made me so mad. I was already running late.

The second story has to do with when I got there, because I came into the parking structure from another way than I usually do and mistakenly went down instead of up so sort of got stuck in the basement, where, of course, there were no free parking places. When I finally got going up, I found a place on the second floor. I did not know, however, that the second floor was the pedestrian exit from the garage, so I ended up walking down the stairs to the lower level for no reason. I was heading toward the elevator when I tripped over one of those parking curbs and fell flat on my face. Luckily, I was close enough to a car to use it to stand up, or I would still be down there. I could get to my knees okay but could not stand without support.

I have to say that they took me right in for my mammogram, so one thing that afternoon went right. They are very efficient here, unlike in Texas where I had to wait sometimes for an hour. However, as a result of this adventure, I have a purple knee.

In art class I made some more progress on my landscape. Because of the undercoat we painted, it still doesn’t look like anything. However, my sister’s turtle, which she painted using the same technique, is almost finished and it looks great. I hope I have similar results.

Up on Calamity Peak at the point where the road decided to look more like a cattle track than a road, so we turned around. However, we saw later that if we’d taken a different road, we’d have come back down on the other side. This picture doesn’t really convey the depths of the canyons below us.

On Friday, a nice outing with Wayne. These are few and far between, since he doesn’t like to do anything anymore. I told him all about the nice drive we had on Wednesday, and it was in a direction we hadn’t taken yet. He likes driving expeditions sometimes. Friday was supposed to be a lovely day, although cold, so I suggested we go, and he agreed. We drove largely back up the way Maja and I had driven, except rather than take FR-5701, we drove further up Calamity Peak Road to see where it went. At the top, when we decided to turn around, it was only 46 degrees, whereas when we went down the mountain five minutes later it was 60. Chilly and windy, but beautiful. We were high on the mountain and could see down into deep canyons below. On the way back, to top off the outing, we made an un-Weight Watchery stop at the little ice cream shop in Amboy.

On Friday while we were enjoying the cold, we got to contemplate the mystery of whatever happened to Wayne’s jacket. He has, or I guess I should say had, a nice dark blue jacket that I bought him when we first moved here because I could see that his windbreaker wasn’t warm enough. It is lightweight but heavy enough to wear until it gets really cold. However, it is nowhere to be found. My last recollection of it was that this jacket as well as two of mine were in the back seat of the car one day after it started out cold one morning and then got warmer. (I had left one of my jackets in the car the day before for the same reason.) But I took all of them out that day, and mine are here. He apparently took it off somewhere and left it. I called his doctor’s office and two restaurants that we visited, but no one claims to have it. So, either someone took it, or he left it somewhere else. I have already ordered him another jacket, so this will be the time for it to reappear somewhere in the house. But I swear, we’ve looked everywhere. I don’t know how he does this. The first time I bought him a pair of gloves, he wore them on our trip to Germany and then one week later, when they were about a month old, he left them on the bus. Who takes off their gloves on the bus and lays them on their seat instead of putting them in their pocket?

On Saturday, it wasn’t raining, but it was cloudy all weekend, so not as nice. On both days, I went out for a while and worked on planting bulbs in my orchard. It’s my wish to have the entire orchard full of daffodils, so I plant some every year, and some crocuses, too. This idea was inspired by my aunt and uncle’s house in Ohio. They had a wooded knoll next to their house, and in spring it was covered in daffodils.

Since I moved here, I have been borrowing my niece’s long drill bit to plant bulbs. It works great. You just drill a hole in the yard, plop in the bulb, and push some dirt on it. This year, however, I bought a new drill bit for myself that was designed for planting. It is wider, so makes a bigger hole (some of the bigger bulbs were difficult to plant with Katrina’s drill bit), but its design is faulty. It only goes in two inches at most, and much of the time, even with hard pushing, I could only get it down about an inch. So, I planted a few bulbs over the weekend and then borrowed my niece’s bit again. I finished planting on Monday, which was a gorgeous day. This year I planted about 16 daffodils and 35 crocuses. The crocuses and snowdrops I planted the first year are so small that last year when I went out to look for them, I didn’t see them at first. I kept wondering why my sister’s came up and mine didn’t. Last year, though, I planted larger ones. I didn’t actually know they came in sizes, and the larger ones are very nice. The smaller ones are just color dots in the lawn.

Luke has begun to be very bad about staying in the car. We have been putting him in the wayback only to have him jump back out before the door can close. (It closes very slowly, and you can’t push it closed yourself or you’ll break the mechanism.) Wayne had him tricked by putting a cookie behind his cushion in the back so that he would take a minute to get it out, but on Monday when I tried this technique, he actually jumped out rather than try to get the cookie. I had to let him ride in the front, because I couldn’t get him to stay in the car. I’m hoping that once we have him trained on the electronic collar, we can stop this kind of behavior.

Ironically, he wants to go with us, but he doesn’t want to ride in the wayback. When we have the liberty to do so, we have taken to putting him in his crate and leaving him home if he jumps out of the car, but most of the time we actually are taking him somewhere, so we can’t do this. I’m hoping that if he has to stay home enough times, he’ll get the idea. He finally got house trained when I got smart enough to put him in his crate if he had an accident.

After a long break, he seems to be turning into Destructo Dog again. Last week he got one of my bras and tore it to shreds. This week, he fished one of my gloves out of my coat pocket and ruined it before I noticed what he had. These were purple leather gloves that a friend bought me for Christmas forty years ago. I’ve worn them every year since then. But one good glove doesn’t really do me any good, so I threw them away.

And speaking of him, we played a form of tic tac toe in his class this weekend where teams competed to place their pieces on a grid if they were the first to all get their dogs to follow a series of commands. I feared that with Luke on the team, we would lose all the time, but we actually did fairly well except against a team that was blatantly cheating by not waiting for the moderator to check them before placing their piece and going on to the next set of tasks. Once she stopped them from doing that, they still cheated, because they had disks that they could throw onto the grid, whereas we had cones. We would be told at the same time that we had finished, but they would throw their disk on while we had to walk up and place ours. After that, she only let one team place their piece at a time, and then we actually beat them in every game. Still, one person on our team plainly didn’t play tic tac toe, because at the point where she only had to place our cone in the right spot to win, she put it somewhere else. We won on the next turn.

It was amazing to me that adults would actually bother to cheat during a silly game meant to show whether our dogs understood their commands. Later on, I talked to one of them, and we decided it was just the difference between how Ash, who instructed my team first, gives instructions and Dawn does. That other team had been playing a much more disorganized game with Dawn before we were switched into the room.

On a more prosaic note, I spent the time on Saturday that I wasn’t taking Luke to class or planting bulbs cleaning out my refrigerator. It’s embarrassing how long it’s been since I did that. It’s also amazing to me how little actual good food we had in there. Now I catch myself admiring how easy it is to find things in there and how nice it looks.

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.