A terrible horrible no good very bad weekend

Our weekend started when we heard a thump early Saturday morning. I said to Wayne, “It sounds like Hillary fell off the table.” She had been sporadically eating all week. Late last week she voraciously ate the leftovers of some baked fish we had for dinner, so we poached several fillets for her, but like everything else, after a while she stopped eating it. Most lately, she had been eating a little bit of lunch meat several times a day. We had her off the table earlier in the week, but she got herself right back onto it, probably because she preferred the table to being bugged by Luke (although sometimes Luke was licking her, which she seemed to like).

Hillary helping me make the bed during happier times. R.I.P. little kitty.

Wayne got up to see what was going on because I couldn’t. Luke has finally figured out that he can jump off the bed, so if we want him to stay on it, I have to stay in bed, or I have to be obviously getting ready to get in it. Otherwise, he just jumps right off after we put him up there, and we didn’t want him running up to Hillary if she was on the floor. Wayne came back and reported that she had indeed fallen off and wasn’t doing well. He took Luke outside, and I got up to see her. She was lying half on a cushion on the floor. I put her completely on the cushion and was able to feed her a little bit of chicken. But shortly after she ate, it became obvious she was dying. It took her a couple of hours, during which we put her in a dog crate up on the table so that I could put my hand in and touch her while I talked to her but Luke couldn’t bother her. Also, if she did happen to start wandering around, she couldn’t fall off again. Finally, I was talking to her, and she turned her ears toward me and then gave a little jerk and she was gone. My poor little kitty. She had a rough last month or so.

But that wasn’t all. Saturday afternoon, I was outside with Luke and just happened to go inside for a moment to get Luke’s outside water bowl when I heard Wayne yell, “Kay, I am having a heart attack!” I went into the bedroom just in time to see him slide from the bed onto the floor. I called 911 immediately and they told me they were sending an ambulance and to make him as comfortable as possible. He said he had terrible pain in his abdomen. He was extremely pale when he is usually florid, and he was clammy.

We went to the ER, where we figured out that he had put too much pressure on a nerve when he was going to the bathroom, because he was badly constipated. This pressure made him briefly pass out. I had observed that sometimes he grunted away in the bathroom and warned him that this could happen, because it happened to a roommate when I was in graduate school, but he never paid attention to me. I didn’t think he had lost consciousness, because he talked to me most of the time and answered all of the questions for the dispatcher, but he did have a blurry voice, and later at the ER he said that he couldn’t remember how he got on the floor.

We spent a record three hours only at the ER, during which our family really stepped up. My niece’s husband, Ares, came over with the kids so that Luke wouldn’t have to stay in his crate, and then my brother Mark and his wife, Nancy, came over and walked him. Ares had to take the kids home at bedtime, but when we arrived home, my sister, Sue, was with Luke. The diagnosis for Wayne was that he is seriously constipated.

But that’s not all for our weekend entertainment. On Sunday morning, we buried Hillary in the pasture. Then Wayne was talking about going to urgent care, because now he was passing blood and had a tarry stool, and it said in our papers from the hospital to call the doctor if that happened. I suggested that we call our doctor’s office first, because there might be a doctor on call. I actually got as far as calling and being put on hold by the answering service, when Wayne told me to hang up. We decided to go to the store and buy prune juice, more vegetables, and more fruit so that I could make lots of fruit salad. When we got in the car, however, it turned out that he thought we were going to urgent care. I again suggested that we call the doctor’s office, but he said no, and we went to the grocery store and bought those things, as well as something from the drug department (that he has not used yet).

Then, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, in the afternoon when I was outside with Luke, he came out and told me he knew what was wrong with him. He said that a week ago he had eaten a berry and that he had looked it up and it was nightshade, and he was going to die. Now, my husband has a habit of self-diagnosing and then assuming that whatever is wrong with him is the worst thing possible. Also, he told me about eating the berry at the time that he ate it, and he described it as like a raspberry, so I assumed it was an unripe blackberry, since we have blackberries all over the place. I said that if it was poisonous, he would be dead by now, but he said no, that you felt better for a while and then you died, like that guy in Alaska in Into the Wild. He said he knew what he had eaten was a nightshade berry.

I had him take me to where he found the berry and show one to me. He took me to a blackberry patch, but we found no berries. So, I asked him to show me the berry online. We looked up nightshade berries, and they are round and smooth and look nothing like raspberries. We looked up “poisonous red berries in Washington” and saw nothing that looked like a raspberry. There was one page that also showed blackberries, both in their unripe and ripe stages, but that was a general page about berries. (I suspect he saw that picture and it was next to text about nightshade.) I thought I had him convinced he had eaten a blackberry, and he finally finished the conversation by telling me that you had to eat fifteen to die from them, and he had only eaten one. OK, I thought, even though he was still convinced he ate a nightshade berry, at least he doesn’t think he’s going to die. He didn’t seem to be able to grasp that a blackberry could be red, and he said it didn’t taste good, to which I replied, “That’s because it wasn’t ripe.”

I thought that was taken care of, but on Monday an innocent question about how he felt brought out that he was in the stage where he felt better but he was going to die. This time, I went downstairs to his computer with him and asked him to show me the page he’d been reading (last time we were on my computer), but he couldn’t find it. Then we went outside and walked around until we found a red blackberry. At that point, he finally agreed that he had eaten a blackberry, but he wanted to taste it to be sure. I said to him, “You are not eating any more berries. Leave the berry picking to me!”

Tuesday I went with him to the doctor’s office. He is so constipated that his entire colon is full. The doctor gave him a bunch of suggestions of things he should try, in order. So far, he hasn’t done any of them, which is also something he does when his self-diagnosis works out to be incorrect (which is always). Sometimes I wish the internet had never been invented.

That was so traumatic that I hardly feel like telling about anything else, so if you want to hear about our hike, my art class, or Luke’s further progress, just put in a comment and I’ll answer.


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 slow week

Last week was a little slow, as many of my usual activities were cancelled because of the holiday. The dog training classes were off the last two weeks, Mischa was sick so could not go to taekwondo, art class was cancelled, and even Luke’s Puppy Play took place only on this Tuesday during the last three weeks. So, about the only regular thing I did this last week was our Wednesday hike.

Here’s a picture of Autumn and Luke on the trail.

That was an interesting one, because my sister-in-law, Nancy, found us a new hike. It was an easy one because it was along an old logging road up by Yale Lake, but it was a hard one because it was seven miles long, 3 1/2 miles in, and then of course back out. Since it was a flat hike, two of us took our dogs. Nancy brought Freckles, and I brought Luke.

It was a cool, cloudy day, but the hike was beautiful, high above the lake with some towering cliffs above us and a few cascades coming down. At one point, a bald eagle flew off from a tree nearby us and then, after flying away down the lake, came back toward us along the road. We had a great time but were very tired by the time we got out. Luke didn’t make a peep the rest of the day.

On Friday, because there was no Puppy Play on Thursday, Christine and I scheduled an additional pack walk just for us. We just walked around her neighborhood, but it was fun because we had coffee at her house and visited for a while afterwards, and the dogs ran around in her back yard.

The dog trainer was supposedly still doing pack walks in the evenings, which were supposed to be posted on Facebook, but even though I look at Facebook daily, I have yet to see one of her posts, except one saying there would be no pack walk.

Our weather has continued to be about 10 degrees cooler than normal for this time, making a nice, slow-starting summer. It was supposed to get hot last week after the 4th, but although it was sunny most days, it didn’t seem to be that hot. It has been muggy enough, though, for us to get very warm when hiking or pack walking. Today it is raining, which figures, because yesterday I watered our small trees.

Hillary ate a bunch of lunch meat for about a week, and now, suddenly, she has moved back to baby food. She still wants some lunch meat at times, but she sometimes is unable to eat it without most of it falling back out of her mouth. I don’t understand this, because at other times, she is able to eat it without too much difficulty. We know her teeth aren’t in great shape, but there are times when she inhales the lunch meat. Yesterday, after eating a lot of lunch meat in the morning, she suddenly would only eat tuna fish.

She also occasionally hides. That is a bad sign, because cats usually do that when they’re feeling really bad, also because of the place she hides—up inside the box spring of our bed, which has one end of the bottom covering ripped free, probably from the move. The first time she did it, she was missing all day, and she was so weak at that time that I thought it was the end and she might die up there. However, she came out in the middle of the night, climbed up onto the bed, and slept with me. That was last Friday night, and I thought it was nice until she got up in the  middle of the night and sat on my back. I thought she was trying to get warm, but she jumped off the bed (loudly and with poor coordination) right afterwards and then I smelled a really bad smell. I was turning around trying to find out what it was when I realized that I had poop on my arm. She had shat on the bedspread when she was sitting on my back. I had to get up in the middle of the night and remove the bedspread and put it in the washer, and I was fairly cold the rest of the night. To make things worse, I got up to go to the bathroom later that night and stepped in more poop that I had either inadvertently dropped off the bedspread or she had left after she got off the bed. And that was not all, because even later I got up again and stepped in a pool of pee. She has been using her cat box at times, just enough that we have to clean it out, but she has also been using the hallway, mostly for peeing. End of life with a cat is not a fun experience. She is fighting it all the way, though, and more power to her.

I hope she is able to eat enough to get her strength back and maybe make a recovery. So far, she seems to be a little better but she is still very thin from the period where she would eat very little of what we offered her. My friend Deb’s cat died last year, and she said she behaved much the same way.

We are upset because DirecTV and our local CBS station have parted ways. We are just finding out how many programs we watched on CBS, particularly, 60 Minutes, The Good Fight, Elementary, and CBS Sunday Morning, which was our Sunday morning routine. In Austin there was also a threat of this happening with one station, but it was resolved before it happened and they notified us of it ahead of time. In this case, we knew nothing about it until we found that some of our recorded programs weren’t actually there. So far, the problem has not been resolved, and I have posted a complaint on DirecTV’s Facebook page telling them if they can’t take care of this, we’ll have to find another provider. Even if they can’t sign up our local station because it’s owned by NexStar, they ought to be able to find a CBS station that isn’t that they can provide us. The other networks mentioned in the article I read about it have not been cut off here, so they must not be owned by NexStar.

In Austin, we were able to hang a wire out the window and pick up the local stations over the air the old-fashioned way, but our house was right across the river from most of the radio stations. Here, that has not worked, so yesterday while we were running our errands (always finishing off with a visit to the library), we ran to Home Depot and picked up an HDTV antenna. I hope we have it up before we miss too many more programs, but you never know with Wayne’s projects whether they will be done in a few days or a few years or never.

That’s about it for this week.

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.

Little birdies

I have been hearing a lot of cheeping going on from the nests around the house. Last year, we had a family of woodpeckers in a dead tree at the edge of our pond, and we used to go down and sit on our bench and watch the parents feed the babies. I think that attention made them move on, though, because they’re not there this year, but there is a family in a dead tree across the gravel road from our house, and from our orchard I can seen the parents flying in and out of the hole and hear the babies asking for food. They also seem to be finding most of their food from one of our walnut trees.

Those aren’t the only babies I’ve heard recently, though. On Saturday after dog class, we had Mischa in the car because we took her to taekwondo. We drove out to the alpaca farm, because Wayne had promised his brother he would buy more socks for his friend. However, when we got there, we saw that they weren’t opening for 45 minutes. Wayne had to go to the bathroom, so we drove up the road to Daybreak Park, where he visited the restroom and Mischa, Luke, and I walked down to the water. As we began to return, we heard a terrific noise and then a huge bald eagle, its wingspan close to six feet, flew away from a tree about 20 feet away. In the distance, we could hear its babies crying for food, well, shrieking, really.

We went to get me coffee and then we returned to the alpaca farm. We had wondered why there were so many cars there, and it turned out we were just in time for shearing. One alpaca was done when we got there, and by the time we left, about three more had followed. One of them, who the store owner told us was a prima donna who didn’t like to be touched, screamed the entire time she was down, but the others took it calmly. I would imagine it would feel much better in the summer without the fleece, although lately we haven’t had any hot weather.

Here’s my first artichoke. It is only two inches tall.

In my garden, I have been harvesting lettuce and sugar snap peas, but I have a largish green tomato coming in and two small ones. A bigger surprise is an eensy beensy artichoke. When I planted my artichoke plant, my niece told me it would be three years before I got an artichoke. I planted it only a year ago, and here is one, albeit only two inches high so far. I don’t know if it will get big or it I should just let it turn into a beautiful purple flower. But if it grows large enough, I’m going to eat it!

This week, Hillary seems to be doing much better. She has taken up residence on the kitchen table instead of hiding in the bedroom, we assume to be around people, and she is eating a little bit more than she was. She seems to have decided to prefer the kitten food, so that’s what we’re going with.

Last Wednesday for our hike, we returned to the Yacolt Burn trailhead to walk the Tarbell trail. At that point, it is a mountain bike trail. We walked it in the spring and it did not look particularly like a bike trail, but this time it did, with ramps and wide, banked turns. It made difficult hiking, and I’m not sure we’ll try that trail again. It was particularly difficult walking down some of the ramps.

Luke’s Puppy Play and Train was cancelled all week because the kennel got a dog flu, so Christine and I scheduled a puppy play event at our house for just Luke and Duchess. On Thursday, Christine brought Duchess over, and we let them play in the wolf pen. Then we had coffee and homemade scones. Of course, Wayne joined us for the scones.

Friday, I waited a while expecting to hear from my sister-in-law Nancy, but did not, so we went out to run our errands. She texted on Saturday and invited me over with my niece Katrina and the kids. They had a new trail cut around the perimeter of their house, and we all walked it, except Mark. It was cut but not cleared, so there was lots of blackberry bramble to get through and the elevation was quite steep. We went in near their driveway and came out above the house. They have already bought some really interesting new furniture, finding a bed made out of logs (not the traditional log bed but one of cut slabs of log) and some bookcases put together with pegs. They also bought an antique dining table and chairs and a reading lamp. They now have their couch facing the view from the window, and Mark said he is thinking about not even putting his television together, because he likes just looking at the view.

This week the Puppy Play is cancelled again. We had our usual pack walk, only we went downtown instead of walking at the park and in the residential area. Yesterday, we just ran errands.

In art class, I have finished the teal part of my starfish and have started on some blackish teal parts.



Getting back to normal

This week was about getting back to normal after my visitors left. We had so many long expeditions, with me driving all day, that it took me a few days before I didn’t feel really tired.

On Wednesday, as I mentioned briefly in the last post, we went over to see my brother Mark’s new house. He and his wife Nancy had moved up from Berkeley very quickly after spotting the house of their dreams online. He said it didn’t fit any of the conditions they had agreed upon for a new house. They wanted a small, one-story house, they got a larger, three-story log house on 13 acres with lots of landscaping. It’s a beautiful house, and I wish I had taken my phone with me when we went to visit, so that I could have taken pictures. The shell of the cabin the original owner had built, but then he himself did all the interiors, and it was beautiful workmanship, with an impressive stone fireplace and planked walls, solid wood doors, and antique furniture converted into bathroom sinks, etc. The only odd touches were a result of the wife’s aesthetic, which was different, to say the least. Pictures of babies laminated inside the bathroom door and filigreed gold switch cover plates. Also, angels around the grounds of the house. Nancy said the first thing that was going to go were the switch cover plates.

My brother was really excited about the house and eager to show us around. Since he has lived on a boat in a marina for years, this is the first house he has owned in a long time. Although my husband didn’t really want to go up and down the stairs and didn’t go on the first trip up with me, Mark got him to go up later to look at the bedroom, with its beautiful views of Mt. St. Helens.

It’s funny that they wanted a house on one floor, because just to get to the front door, you have to walk up a flight of stairs outside. The garage and downstairs bedroom are on the lower, half basement level.

Thursday, I was so tired that after doing the errands that we usually do on Tuesday (but couldn’t because I was in Portland with my friends), I lay down for a nap and woke up just before my makeup art class was supposed to start. I was doing a double that day, but I missed almost half of the first class, because it takes a half hour to drive in. Then, I just missed my teacher. She works her way around the room methodically and had just gotten to the person after me when I came in. I didn’t know what we were going to work on next, so I had to wait until she made it around the entire class, which took about a half hour. My sister and I were frustrated with this behavior on our first class with her, because we came in just a minute or two late and didn’t know what to do so had to wait for her to come around. But having worked with other teachers who were more inclined to skip around, and having been skipped many times, I think it is the fairest way to run that class. In any case, I finally got to start painting my starfish. It is a very complicated pattern of teals, aquas, and yellow, and I did the first coat of the teals. Normally, we would have painted the entire starfish teal and then added in the other colors, but the pattern was too complex to try to draw on top of the paint. I tried that with the sheep in the field on my Mont St. Michel picture, and one of them came out looking more like a cow because of double drawing that was slightly off.

On Friday, I began mowing the orchard. We originally bought our riding mower to mow the orchard, but Wayne doesn’t like the slope. I think that if we had bought a smaller mower, he would feel safer because he’d be lower down and I would feel more comfortable about learning how to use it. My sister, who uses their riding mower all the time, used ours once and said that you feel remarkably unstable on the seat. So, either they come over and mow or I have to do it with the self-propelled hand mower. I worked on it twice that day, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon after the sun had left it, and I got it about halfway done. I finished it on Sunday, being tied up on Saturday. It has a steep pitch to it, so the work is tiring.

In regard to the orchard, I was upset to notice that the buckets that we use to water our trees were all missing. They had been there a day or two before. At first, I thought Wayne might have moved them for some reason, but he did not, so I can only conclude that they were stolen. Whether I can attribute this to the general teasing that has been going on around our house, I don’t know, but stealing is a little different, even if some kids might have thought it was a funny idea. They are just five-gallon paint buckets with a hole drilled in the bottom so that we can fill them up with water and then let it leak out slowly. Last year, we just left them under whichever trees we had done last. I posted a note about it on our neighborhood Facebook page, hoping some parent would find them and make his kids return them, but no such luck.

This year, having replaced them with Firehouse Sub pickle buckets, we are going to have to take them back up to the house and bring them back down each time. Now, at least they have our address written on them. Who would think they had to worry about a thing like that? It’s one thing to be stealing some of our apples, which I think the neighborhood kids do every fall, but another to steal our buckets. We have several times caught them running away from our orchard when we arrived home, but we thought they were just playing by the pond, which we understand they used to do before we moved here.

I watered the trees on Monday afternoon and then gathered up the buckets.

On Saturday, Luke had his first class for a couple of weeks. Our attendance had been spotty anyway, because I hurt my hand a few weeks before that and missed a class. Well, it seems that if Luke misses classes he loses all his brains. We were trying to teach our dogs to put their paws on an object. The practical use of this is to be able to say “Paws” and have them put them up so we can look at them. Luke just didn’t get it at all. He was only putting his paws on his plastic dot by accident. Then, he got so obsessed by the treats that we used to teach this and that got dropped on the ground, that he failed coming when called miserably. He would sit until called, and then instead of running to me, like he knows very well how to do, he would run toward the nearest treat.

I have been really stupid about Luke. I noticed that I was finding lots of his hair around the house lately, but I was so obsessed with preparing for my guests and then entertaining them, that it didn’t occur to me until Tuesday that he was shedding his undercoat and should have had an appointment with the groomer a couple of weeks ago. Instead, because he also has a case of nettle rash, I thought he was pathologically pulling out his hair. He was, but because he’s supposed to! What an idiot! He has an appointment now, but it’s not until next week. We previously had a Keeshond, but he had no undercoat because he had a skin disease and had lost it, so I wasn’t familiar with the idea that Luke has to lose it every year.

I haven’t mentioned Hillary lately, but we are worried about her. She has gone through periods where I think she must have something really wrong with her because she throws up so much, to my thinking she just has a food allergy because we change her food and she stops throwing up. But lately, she hasn’t been able to keep anything down. We have moved her off regular food to baby food after she hardly ate anything anymore, and she liked the baby food at first, but now she hardly eats it. She has gotten really thin, which she never did before, throwing up or not. The other day, I tried her on kitten food, and she seemed to be ravenous and ate lots of it, but that was probably a mistake because after that she threw up, had diarrhea, and wet our bed. Now I’m afraid to try it again even though that was about the only thing she’s wanted to eat in a while. I think I’ll try boiling up some chicken next, as she has occasionally been able to eat something like that without vomiting.

On Saturday afternoon, Deb and I attended our next bad play at Magenta Theater. This one was really bad. It was a comedy about five women who inherit a theater. It wasn’t very funny, and it seemed as though it was also going to be very predictable. I was sitting there wondering what the point was and thinking that they probably got the rights to a very cheap play. At intermission, I leaned over to Deb and said, “What do you think about this play?” and she said, “I think we should leave immediately.” So, we did. Again, it was a British play, and again, the actors weren’t capable of doing the accents. I don’t know why they keep picking British plays. That’s three out of three. The last one of the year is Miracle on 34th Street, which is at least an American play, but I bet we’ll be getting bad Brooklyn or Bronx accents.

Instead of finishing the play, we went for a delicious Thai lunch and then wandered around town for a bit. There was a nice park nearby, but at that time of day it was just full of homeless people, so we didn’t go there. We also stopped at our favorite chocolatier and had some chocolate and coffee.

Yesterday, we took Luke for Puppy Play and Train only to find out that it was cancelled because some of the dogs had sniffles and a cough, although not, we were assured, kennel cough. It is cancelled for the entire week, and some of the dogs who didn’t get the message, like us, were very disappointed. One little Havanese wanted to play with Luke so badly that he peed on the floor. I am going to have to do some special things with Luke to keep him from getting too full of energy. Usually, I just work around the yard and let him run around or sometimes play ball with him. Maybe I’ll take him for a walk in the park.

I have seen quite a bit of the beavers swimming around in the pond this week, and Tuesday morning we saw a deer run across the road in front of another car. Monday afternoon we were sitting on our bench by the pond after watering the trees and the small birds around began making a fuss. I thought two birds were fighting, and I was watching carefully to see what they were, when a large bird of prey landed on a branch not 50 yards away from us. It was either a large hawk or a small golden eagle. I’m not sure how to tell them apart. I was trying to show Wayne where it was, but he didn’t spot it until it flew off again into a tree across the pond. It stayed there for a while, which we knew because of the fuss of the other birds. Then it flew off again toward my niece’s house but behind the trees so that we could barely catch a glimpse of it. Still for about a minute, it was in full view as it sat on the branch. I wish I had had my binoculars with me.

No hike last week because that was the day my friends left, and no picture, either. And that’s about it for this week.




Delinquent dog

The first thing that happened last week after our hike was I got an email from the owner of our dog training facility that Lukey was kicked out of Relationship Class. She made it sound like I had taken him to the class on my own initiative, so I wrote back and said that the trainer had instructed me to try it out. She said she didn’t know that, and we would talk about it on Saturday. They had had a bad day, because a woman drove through the front of their building, Wayne reported, just before he arrived to pick up Lukey from Puppy Play and Train.

I was pretty angry at her tone and way of handling this, and on Saturday, I tried to point out to her that she had handled it poorly and that she should have talked to the trainer before sending the email. I didn’t care whether Luke went to Relationship Class or not, even though I felt that he had done as well as some of the other dogs in the class. However, either she misunderstood me or she lied, because she said she did talk to the trainer, which was exactly opposite of what she had told me before. Anyway, Luke is now just taking the adult obedience class.

And he has been a real pain lately. Wayne says he is suffering from an excess of testosterone, but he is adverse to the idea of having him fixed now. He wants to wait until Luke is almost a year old. I asked the trainer about it, but she said she didn’t think dogs should be fixed at all, so that is no help. In any case, he takes a few naps, but when he is awake, he is either playing (good) or getting into mischief (bad). There is no middle ground.

A case in point is the baby gate at the opening to the hall. Our original intention was to install a semi-permanent gate at the opening of the hall so that Hillary could come and go in the back part of the house without worrying that Luke could get her. However, we could not install that metal gate at the opening because of the pocket doors in the hallway. We ended up installing it towards the other end, so that it only blocks off the doors to the two bedrooms. Since Hillary’s cat box is in the laundry room, however, we supplemented that with a wooden baby gate at the opening of the hall.

That gate worked fine until he figured out that he could just push the ends aside and squeak back behind it, at which point, Wayne tied it to a bookcase on one end and the pantry cabinet doors on the other. Then, he just chewed through the twine on the pantry end, so Wayne chained the gate to the pantry doors.

That worked for a while until Luke figured out that he could bully his way through the door. So, we put a ladder behind it so that the door could only open towards him.

Luke on the wrong side of the very battered gate, with the ropes and the bungee cords on it.

That worked for a while until Luke figured out that he could work at the door until he opened it toward him. So, the last few days, Wayne has been bungee-cording the door shut, which, by the way, makes it very hard to get through. Then, this morning, Luke got through the bungee cords three times.

So, we finally gave up and removed the gate. Hillary is still safe behind the second gate, and I moved her cat box to the other side. We are keeping all the doors shut, so, sure enough, now that there’s nothing keeping him from going down that hall and nothing to see, he’s not interested.

He is generally always on a path of destruction. We had to block off the downstairs stairs with a large, heavy footstool, because he went down to the bottom of the stairs and began ripping up the carpet. He has been steadily chewing on the gate, and although he hasn’t been chewing on the windowsills or coffee table as much, we still catch him chewing on the door frames. He ripped a huge hole in our old quilt, which I had the forethought to put on top of the nice bedding. His latest is to have chewed his leash in half. The trainers told us to keep him on a leash inside so that we could give him a correction when he chewed something he wasn’t supposed to chew, used his teeth inappropriately on us, or jumped up on me. The result was not that he stopped doing any of these things but that he has destroyed his leash. Wayne tied it back together. We bought him a new leash for class, but he will wear the old one at home until he stops doing some of these things. That was his latest, but his worst thing was to get a hold of my reading glasses (prescription) when I wasn’t home and chew them up. He also tried to chew up my hairbrush, but Wayne rescued it.

He is certainly in a contrary stage of his life. He knows what he is supposed to do, but he doesn’t want to do it, except in class. He knows what he isn’t supposed to do, so he is determined to do it. I hope he gets out of this stage soon. Before I got up, I heard Wayne cursing him all morning long as he went from one misdeed to another.

No hike this morning, but we went on a nice one last week, although it was raining. When it’s a soggy day, we usually keep to one of two parks that have nice, paved trails. Last week, we went to Lewisville Park. What with the pack walk last Monday, the hike, and the mini pack walk on Thursday, I got quite a bit of exercise last week. This week it will just be my jaunts with Luke and the mini pack walk tomorrow.

The waterfront trail has a cantilevered pier hanging out over the water.

Oh, and my friend Deb and I went for a walk along the Vancouver Waterfront Renaissance Trail on Sunday. First, I met her at the Cascade train station in north Portland, and then we drove back across the bridge to Vancouver. We first went to When the Shoe Fits, where Deb bought a pair of hiking shoes just like mine. Then we went for lunch at a waterfront restaurant called Twigs, and we walked along the trail for a while afterwards. It was a gorgeous day, clear and not too cold. Finally, we went to see the movie The Favourite. It was quite entertaining, although I think it took huge liberties with history. I read a biography of Queen Anne a few years ago, and she wasn’t the nincompoop that this movie and history has made her out to be. What she was, was very ill.