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.





Staying in the rain forest

Lake Quinault Lodge from the back lawn

I just love old western lodges, the kind that are built of logs or planks or stone and cedar shakes, that have large lobbies with enormous fireplaces in them. I loved staying in Old Faithful Inn, the mother of all western lodges, a few years ago, and my only disappointment was that the entire time we stayed there, I was never once early enough to get a seat before the fire.

Last summer I stopped twice with family at Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic Peninsula. The first time, my sister was taking me for a tour of the peninsula, and we stopped for lunch. The second time, I was touring around with two of my brothers and family when we stopped for an hour or so to look at the lodge. It’s a beauty, built in 1926 by the CCC.

I wanted Wayne to see this lodge and I wanted to stay in it, so I reserved us a room for two nights over our anniversary. We left late Thursday morning after dropping Luke off at the trainers to board and stayed until Saturday morning.

This is part of the lobby. You can’t see the whole effect, because the other side of the room has rows of leather chairs and small tables. When I was in there one time, there were probably about forty people in the lobby, but it wasn’t crowded at all. Everyone had a seat, and several groups were playing games.

The lodge is beautiful. The older section of it is from the 20’s. In that building are a lovely restaurant, a big lobby with lots of comfortable chairs and sofas, tables, library shelves, game tables, and so on. There is a ballroom on the end opposite the library, and then there are the historic rooms. Underneath all this is a game room, pool, and sauna.

We didn’t stay in the historic section, however. The lodge has several other buildings, where they have added on more modern rooms. We had a room in the Fireplace Room building, where each room has a gas fire. The fire was nice. It worked on a thermostat so that you could set a temperature for the room, and the fire would come on and go off when needed. I tended to overdo it and make it a little warm in the room. Our room was fairly large. We had a balcony overlooking the lake, and there was enough room to have put a small dining table and chairs in the main room, which we would have liked, because do what I would, I could not get Wayne to hang out in the lobby. We ended up playing dominoes in our room one afternoon. Another time, I took my book down to the lobby and read for an hour or so.

I took this picture from inside the restaurant on our last night as the sun was setting.

That was my one regret, that I couldn’t get Wayne out of the room more. He came out to eat, basically. I thought he would use the sauna and pool, but no. It rained all day Friday, but I did manage to get him out to do a drive around the lake. We didn’t see many views, though, because the lake is hard to see for most of the drive. After playing dominoes on Friday afternoon and waiting until it stopped pouring, I went out to do one of the hiking trails near the lodge. If you’re interested, I’ll be posting my hike information on Fat Girls Friday morning.

That was our big trip. I enjoyed it despite the rain (it was really pouring for our drive home on Saturday morning), and when I asked Wayne whether he liked it, he said, “Very peaceful.” There were quite a few people there, because it was Washington’s spring break, lots of kids, but the lodge is built so well that we heard almost nothing in our rooms. Also, although we were in a separate building on the second floor, the buildings were designed so that we could walk under cover from the walkway outside our rooms, around a corner and straight into the historic building. Then we only had to walk past a few of the rooms and down three steps and we were in the lobby. So, we didn’t even need our jackets most of the time.

We needed to get home around noon to pick up Luke at a specific time, but the restaurant at the lodge didn’t open until 8, so we knew we would have to stop for breakfast on the way home. So, we left really early. It poured all the way home, until about an hour away, when the sun came out. However, back in Yacolt, it was gloomy. We got home around 11, so I had time to unpack before picking up Lukey. He was ecstatic when he saw us, although his trainer said he had a blast boarding.

I kind of flubbed up my scheduling, because that afternoon I had tickets to the Magenta Theater. My friend Deb and I got season tickets because they were so cheap. So far, we have experienced fairly typical amateur theater. Sue was coming along with us that day, so I picked her up and we met Deb at the theater. The play was called Pack of Lies, and it was a drama based on a true incident of Cold War spying in England. Sadly, the acting was so-so, and the English accents were terrible. I was surprised to see they actually had an accent coach, and I can only assume that either the coach wasn’t very good or the actors just couldn’t do the accents. I think the latter, because they came and went. One actress actually attempted a more regional accent than the others, who attempted the plummy BBC approach. She was a little better than the others. We decided afterwards that the play wasn’t very good. We were all waiting for a twist, and there wasn’t one. We weren’t sure if we would have had a different reaction with better actors, however. I’m not sure why they keep picking British plays if their actors can’t do the accents. You may recall that the last play was a Jeeves and Wooster.

As before, we were impressed with the sets, which were pretty nice for an amateur theater. They were done in black, white, and gray, which at first didn’t seem right for a play set in the 1960’s, but the actors were also dressed in black, white, and gray, so it occurred to me that maybe they were trying to replicate film noir or black and white TV. It was a clever idea.

The rest of the weekend I was recuperating from our trip. I must have been pretty tired, because after taking Luke to Play and Train Monday morning and to his new class Monday evening, I slept until 10:30 on Tuesday. Unheard of!

When I first saw our orchard, it was this beautiful field of wildflowers with some hydrangeas along the driveway. We found out later that we had to keep it mowed because of the bramble that will grow in it if we leave it wild. Still, each year I’ve been planting wildflowers with the hope that briefly, before we have to mow, the orchard will return to what I originally saw. So far, no luck, but on Tuesday I planted another large bag of wildflowers. Last year, I followed the instructions on the bag of raking the ground, sowing the seeds, and covering them up. No additional wildflowers emerged. This year, by planted I mean I just threw them on the ground.


An eventful week

Here’s Mischa with her gold medal and her family. That’s my niece Katrina behind her. Katrina’s husband Ares (I always want to call him my nephew because he is so dear), and my great nephew Søren.

This week included a couple of events, one that I missed and one that I didn’t miss. The one that I missed was my great niece Mischa’s taekwondo competition. I was originally supposed to go along with the family to Seattle, spend the night Friday, and attend the competition Saturday, hopefully seeing my brother’s family sometime those two days. However, the play I was supposed to attend the weekend before, Jeeves Takes a Bow at the Magenta Theater, got postponed to this last Saturday. At the time that they were reseating people, it wasn’t at all clear that we would be going to Seattle, because snow was forecast all week. So, I decided to stay and go to the theater with Deb.

It did not snow all week, however. In fact, it didn’t snow at all until Saturday night. And, Mischa won a gold medal at the competition! Surprisingly, since she is so good at form, the gold medal was in sparring and against a girl who not only was two belt levels above her but repeatedly cheated. (They’re not supposed to push, and she did, even once pushing Mischa to the floor and once chopping her in the throat.) Mischa’s parents said that her misfortune in form was to be matched against the three best girls at the competition. She only got bronze in that competition.

As for the play, it was about what I expected. It was fun and entertaining, even though the characters were the wrong ages for their parts (most of them were too old), and the acting was generally so-so. The sets were a lot more impressive than I expected, and the actors that played Jeeves and Vivienne were good. The one musical number was dreadful. Someone had written extra lines that were spoken by the radio between scenes. That was a clever idea, but the lines were overwritten and occasionally used the wrong word. The audience was very enthusiastic, though. The theater seems to have developed a loyal following. Most of them were older, and I’m not sure if that is because it was a matinee or relates to the reason why the actors were older than their parts. I would expect any community theater to have lots of younger actors trying out.

In any case, my friend Deb and I had a nice day. We went to lunch at Lapellah first, then had one truffle each and a coffee at a chocolatier down the street from the theater called Fleur Chocolate. Very good. It just would have been nice to see Mischa get her medal (although my niece said it was a very long day). I understand the sparring match was exciting and that even the people from the other schools were rooting for Mischa.

Last week since it had snowed before our hike, we went to one of our default hiking places where we know the paths will be safe, Lewisville Park. Once we crossed the river, though, there was no sign of snow in Battle Ground. It was like spring. And speaking of spring, even though we have snow still in our orchard, the blades of some of my daffodil plants are peaking through.

Yesterday we had an appointment with an accountant to talk over our tax problem. I was a little concerned last week that since we arranged the loan, Wayne acted like it was all taken care of. I didn’t see that we could possibly be expected to pay taxes on money we never saw, but he maintained that that was just how it worked. Finally, I told him that I was going to see an accountant, and he could either help me by collecting papers and coming along, or I would go by myself and have to guesstimate the amounts and talk theoretically. He decided to come, and last week I saw him collecting papers. Unfortunately, the accountant said that the best we could do was request a record of the transactions on the policy, so that we could determine if they figured the amount correctly. Wayne is supposed to contact them about that before we finish our taxes with the accountant.

One thing the visit to the accountant settled. Wayne had gotten it into his head that the IRS had begun charging interest on any taxes due for the previous year beginning in January. I couldn’t understand how that could be correct, as most people don’t even have their forms for filing their taxes before the end of January, and it seemed to render the IRS deadline in April moot. He found out he was wrong. Our taxes are due, not now, but in April, as usual. I don’t know where he got the idea from, but I assume he’s been paying our taxes early ever since he “learned” it.

For the third time in a few months, Wayne ran down the car battery by leaving something on. This time, it was the fog lights, which were on when we were at the accountant’s office. We had to ask a guy in the parking lot to jump our car.


I took this picture on Sunday, when we still had lots of snow and it was sunny. Everything was sparkling. It was beautiful. The picture doesn’t convey how the light sparkled off the branches. Too bad.

I don’t know if the media has dubbed our recent storm snowpocalypse or if it was one of my funny brothers, but that’s what our family has been calling it. After the relatively modest snowfall I reported on last week, the snow began falling on Friday evening. Within an hour we had about an inch. It snowed all night long, and we awakened on Saturday morning to what looked like at least a half foot of snow! The official measurement for our area was three inches, but it was at least six inches deep on our driveway.

All our Saturday activities were cancelled, and aside from taking Luke out into the snow, where he had fun playing, we stayed home by the fire. I tried to help someone who had slid off the road near our pond, but I wasn’t able to get him out. I was trying to instruct him on rocking his truck, but he couldn’t do it. I went back up to the house when he decided to walk in to the house he was visiting and get help. It was our neighbor having a Native American ceremony, so there were lots of people there to help him, and later on I saw that the truck was gone.

It continued to snow on and off for the next couple days. Sunday was bright and sunny with little melting, but the snow sparkled in the sun. Then Sunday afternoon it started raining and then snowing and then raining again.

On Monday morning, we ventured out for the first time, to take Luke to Puppy Play and Train. We hadn’t plowed or shoveled our driveway, and our drive down the driveway was interesting. Because it had rained on top of snow but the snow wasn’t gone, it was slippery on our little road in front and on the first couple of main roads, but once we crossed the river on our way to Battle Ground, the roads were suddenly clear. We ran some errands and had breakfast, then picked Luke back up and drove home. By then, it had been raining all morning, but the snow was still on the roads up in our part of the county, so it was much more slippery. We finally failed at driving back up our driveway, which has a good slope at the start, probably more than 30 degrees. We ended up slightly off the driveway and had to walk up it. Later, though, after it had rained a while more, Wayne took the shovel down and got the car out. Yesterday it was rainy, but it is a mark of how much snow we got that we still have lots. Today it’s supposed to stop raining and become partly sunny.

The Lewis River from the Moulton Falls bridge after our first snowfall on Tuesday. If you look closely at the right middle of the picture, you can see a shower of snow falling from a tree.

To return to the earlier part of the week, last Wednesday my hiking friends and I took our default hike when it is rainy or slippery to Moulton Falls Park. It was a very cold day, much colder than this week, and we had that snowfall the day before. We went to the park because we were afraid of the footing, and we were very glad we did. It was so beautiful! It was a sunny day, the river was high, and the snow was showering down off the treetops into the river in lovely falls. We met several people there, and everyone was talking about what a nice day it was. My numb fingers turned warm after a few minutes of hiking. To read more about this hike, see my post on Fat Girls.

In art class, I got to do a fun thing. I had painted my buildings, and we wanted to do a glaze on the right side that would put everything in shadow. I think the result looks really nice. This week I’ll probably go on putting details into the other buildings, particularly the ones in shadow.

This weekend, my friend Deb and I had tickets to a play at the Magenta Theater, a Vancouver community theater that I had seen a poster for at art school. However, with snowpocalypse, neither of us felt like we could venture in for the show, although it was not cancelled. They nicely rescheduled our tickets for this coming Saturday. The play is a Jeeves and Wooster, which should be fun.

On the not so nice side, we got news of an unexpected tax amount that we owe the IRS. It’s a long story, but the sore point for me is that I feel we were robbed in the first place. We are being taxed on an amount of money we never received, and the taxes are going to be huge. It has to do with an insurance policy my husband took out twenty years before we were even married. So, on Monday we had to go down to our credit union and see about a loan. That’s depressing, because we were pretty much out of debt except for our car loan and some incidental credit card charges. Sigh. At least the credit union lady was very helpful and nice.

After we learned about that, we tried to cancel our deal to get a new roof, one that only Wayne thought we needed. However, they told us we would have to pay 40% of the cost if we cancelled, which is just ridiculous, especially considering they already had the shingles in stock. So, aside from the snow, it wasn’t that nice of a week, and we are getting a roof that I didn’t think was necessary to begin with.