An eye-opener

Our coronavirus statistics continue to go up at a dismal rate. We have now had 1053 cases, up more than 200 from last week. The number of deaths remains steady at 29, and 16,642 people have been tested. The rate of new cases per 100,000 population is up to a whopping 48.9. Last week, if you’ll remember, it was 15.4, but that number seemed suspicious, because it went down from the week before and the number of cases was up. Our zip code map continues to have the same mistake of showing us in the 80-120 color but having no data in the table, which indicates less than 10, so I don’t know how many cases we have up here.

Last week, we ventured out for our yearly eye exams. Well, Wayne actually hadn’t been examined for two years. The appointment part of that was interesting, because when I made the exam back in April, I assumed we would have to go to the Main Street branch instead of our usual Salmon Creek, which was closed. Salmon Creek is about 10 or 15 minutes closer to us. However, the person making the appointment told me that the Salmon Creek branch would be open with one doctor in July, which was the soonest she could get us in, anyway.

Last week when I got my appointment reminder, I just happened to notice it said Main Street. Usually, I don’t look at those that closely. I called them up to verify, and they said that the Salmon Creek branch was still closed. So, I chided them for moving our appointment without calling us. I said we might not have noticed the change and gone to the wrong place. As it turned out, they had to cram us both into one appointment, apparently because they didn’t have room for both of us. They explained to us that the Salmon Creek office is their smallest and they haven’t been able to figure out how to adjust it for distancing. In my opinion, having seen both, I thought that Main Street, which is an old office, has more problems, because it has lots of long, narrow hallways, and several times we had to walk past people. Of course, everyone was wearing masks. Salmon Creek seems to be laid out better.

My sight has changed slightly, but Wayne is showing signs of possible early glaucoma, so he has to go back in November to have his optic nerves checked. It’s interesting to me that our ophthalmologist in Austin did that as a routine part of our exams, every year, but here he has to have a special appointment for it. In fact, they gave us a lot more tests in Austin as a regular part of our exams.

Here’s my Day of the Dead kitty clock, showing 2:00 by the bones.

When we came back from our eye appointments, we ended up taking I-5 back and got the idea to stop at Pacific Northwest Best Fish Company to pick up some lunch. This is an interesting place out in the middle of nowhere that has a fresh fish market on one side, and a little walk-up window on the other where you can order fish meals. Very good fish and chips and my favorite, fried scallops, as well as some other dishes. Fish tacos, that kind of thing. They have some picnic tables to eat at, which of course you can’t do right now, or maybe you can, since restaurants are opening up. Unfortunately, they were closed for remodeling. So, Wayne said we were close to one of our favorite restaurants, Fuel Bistro, and we could go there for some take-out. We did that, and the wait person suggested we go around the corner to a gift shop while we were waiting, and she would come get us. There Wayne purchased my newest acquisition for an early birthday present. A Day of the Dead cat clock. And here it is. I love it.

On Monday, we went in to Costco during the geezer hours to get our glasses, and Wayne was amazed because our three pairs cost about $200. We were used to paying about $500 apiece for glasses in Austin. Of course, I always picked out fancy dan frames, which I don’t feel like I should do now that we’re retired. We were the first people in Optical, which was nice.

On Friday, Maja and I went hiking in Moulton Falls Park. I was wearing a bandana so that I could put it back down when people weren’t around, but there were too many people, so it got aggravating to be putting it up and down and up and down. I think the next time I hike in a park with a lot of people, I’m just going to wear a regular mask and keep it on. We only saw two other people with masks in the park, and there were a couple of people who persisted in walking in the middle of the path. I guess we should have known better than to pick Moulton on the official July 4th day off.

On Sunday, we were supposed to go to Christine’s so she could cut Wayne’s hair, which is looking awful. He had suggested this outing, and she turned it into a lunch date. Then Sunday morning, Wayne pulled his usual, “I don’t feel good,” routine that he uses to get out of anything he doesn’t want to do. Luke and I went alone. I think Christine was a bit offended. She said, “Wasn’t this his idea?” and I told her yes and said this was what he said to get out of things. She said her husband was the same way and congratulated me for being truthful. She said that for years she just made excuses for Peter. However, she also said she wouldn’t now cut Wayne’s hair. She had made a nice lunch for us, and I had made pineapple upside down cake, and we had a good time, as always.

On Monday, Wayne and I ran errands, including picking up my new iPad from Walmart. My old one is so old that it can hardly do anything anymore. It stopped remembering passwords some time ago, but now its on/off button doesn’t work anymore, so I can’t back it up. It also has started asking me for my Apple ID, several times per session. I don’t really use it much anymore except for reading ebooks, but I have seven collected works that I bought from Delphi Classics that I still want to be able to read. Luckily, I was able to get them over with no problem, although I did get a message telling me it was unable to move over some items that were bought using another ID, the one for my old workplace that I’ve long forgotten the password for. I don’t understand, though, what the password I bought them with has to do with it. If I purchased them, and they are on my iPad, they should move over. In fact, I didn’t notice anything not moving over that I wanted.

And that brings up another confusing topic, my email. I had long kept my gmail email account on the iPad, but when it began doing everything very slowly, I logged into the gmail account from my computer. I kept that account, which is my junk account that I register for everything with, up on the computer, but I had noticed that it wasn’t syncing with the iPad, so that the iPad showed I had thousands of unread messages. All those messages came over to the new iPad, and I had a fun several hours deleting them all. I finally did a Select All and thought I had managed to unselect all the messages I wanted to keep, particularly a whole bunch of messages I had forwarded over from my work computer four years ago and hadn’t dealt with yet, but I see they are gone. I think, though, that I also have them on my mail account. What I don’t understand is that just over the weekend, I got probably twenty or thirty messages that never showed up in the same account on my computer. I know the computer interface has a spam filter, but when I look at what’s in the spam folder, it’s not those messages. In fact, what’s in the spam folder is mostly not spam. So most of the almost 2000 messages that I had to delete were ones that I never saw on my computer. I don’t understand why I wouldn’t have been seeing the same things both places.

My pink dahlia with one white blossom. I swear this is only one plant.

On the gardening front, aside from picking and eating a teeny tiny tomato that was ripe at about 1/4 of the size it was supposed to be and also picking a whopping snow pea crop, I have a very odd thing. My pink dahlia, which was all pink flowers, has sprouted a white one! I never heard of anything like that before, but here’s the proof!






Locking down

On the way to art class last Thursday, my sister Sue, who is a nurse, told me there were 21 cases of Covid-19 in Clark County. When I asked her why I hadn’t heard of any more than the one, she said the authorities were lying so we wouldn’t panic. However, she didn’t seem to have any kind of special knowledge, because she said she saw it on the news. What she said didn’t make sense to me, because they are being pretty forthright about the numbers of cases in Seattle, but one disadvantage of living so near to the Oregon border is that our news all comes from Portland, where they naturally talk mostly about Oregon. So, the next day I researched this, and I found that just that day, they had announced two more cases, for a total of three. Where Sue got confused was that I counted 21 cases that had been out for testing, 10 of which came back negative, 9 of which were still out for testing, and the 2 cases they had just announced that day.

Since then, one more confirmed case has been announced, and the two cases they announced last week, a married couple, have died. That, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t more cases, just that not many people have been tested.

In any case, things have started to lock down around here. School is cancelled and restaurants are only allowed to serve take-out. Almost all my regular activities have been cancelled, except the dog school. However, since the federal government has asked that people not be in groups larger than 10, I think dog classes will have to stop, although perhaps not puppy play. Puppy play was scheduled to shut down for two weeks starting next week anyway. I kept Luke home this week, and my only outside activities since last week’s art class were dropping him off at the groomer’s and going to visit Christine on Friday and hiking with my niece Katrina and her kids yesterday. I also dropped by the Battle Ground Produce Market to buy some meat, veggies, and fruit.

I was in that market on Friday, by the way, and after I picked up some broccoli, I started to go to the check-out stand but stopped when I thought the guy standing right next to me looked familiar. And by golly, it was my brother, Mark, husband of SIL Nancy, with whom I had a run-in earlier that week. He was pleased to see me and spent some time trying to justify his wife. I thought he was talking about the virus kerfuffle, but he was actually talking about the usual thing, his childhood problems, and the nasty things she said about my brother John. It’s always the same old same old with him. Then she came in the store, probably wondering about what was keeping him, and although she was pleasant, she hustled him out. Although they left quite a few minutes before me, I had to follow them almost all the way home, because she insists on driving, and she drives like a little old lady.

Oddly enough, after throwing a fit when she heard I was dropping my dog off at the dog trainer’s, she asked the family what they thought about her going skiing on Monday. What? I’m going to meet two people I know at the dog place and just hand over my dog, and she’s going to go to the slopes among a bunch of strangers? In any case, the slopes closed down.

She still continues to send article after article about the virus all around to the family. It’s one thing to stay informed, but I think she is scaring herself by being over-informed.

Wayne thinks he might be sick, but if he is, it’s a very slight case and more likely of flu. To confuse everyone, the regular flu is going around right now, too. I hope I don’t get it from him. I have had a drippy nose since September, which means it is more confusing for me to know whether I am sick. I made the mistake a month ago when I thought my nose was just doing its normal thing and then got back from art class and realized I had a cold, which I would not have taken to art class if I had known.

He tends to scare himself about illness, which resulted in a little confusion on Friday. That day, he spent several hours trying to find out how to get tested, even though he didn’t have a temperature that we could tell (our thermometer measured both of us at below normal temps) and had only coughed about three times. As a result, he sent me to the drug store on my way to pick up Luke from the groomer’s to get a new thermometer. Walgreen’s was fairly normal, but the entire thermometer rack was empty. The druggist suggested I try Safeway, next door, but when I walked in, that usually empty store had a line all the way out to the produce section. I walked out and ordered a thermometer online.

When I got home, Wayne had listened to online recordings of people with the virus breathing and decided he didn’t have it after all. And that’s how it goes. One day, he thinks he has it, the next he decides he has the flu. It’s a little stressful, both for him and for me. I tried to make him feel better by saying that if he had the virus it seemed really mild, and that just made him angry. He said I was trivializing his illness. You can’t win around here.

Here are my poor daffodils peeping through the snow.

Our weather has been pretty crazy. On Saturday, we woke up to quite a bit of snow that stayed most of the day. I went down to the orchard and attempted to take a picture of my poor daffodils, peeping through the snow. I’m not sure if you can tell that’s what they are. I also took a nice photo of Luke under the apple tree.

Luke in the snow Saturday morning. He just loves snow and spent some time running in circles that morning.

Then the very next day it turned warm and sunny. We’ve had a slew of really nice days. Yesterday I went hiking at Moulton Falls Park with Katrina, Mischa, and Søren. It was a beautiful day, starting out a little chilly and ending up warm. Luke went along with us.

And that’s about it. We’ve battened down the hatches, pretty much. I hope you all are safe wherever you live.



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 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.

I’m guessing Spring is official

When I bought the bulbs for these daffodils, I didn’t even know they came this small. I planted them from this tree over to the lilac bush, which I’m hoping will bloom for the first time this spring. I planted it bare roots last spring.

We went from snow last week to days when we finally have our windows open! We opened up our window Monday afternoon for the first time, and then again yesterday morning. And so we will continue. Down in the orchard, I have about four or five purple crocuses and one orange one, and at the edge of the slope down to the wolf pen, a bunch of tiny daffodils are out, my first ones. I had forgotten I planted them there. I need to plant more. Maybe some bigger ones this time.

The artichoke is off to the left. Next to it is the cage where my beans are planted and next to that onion starts. At the end of the garden, you might be able to see some sugar snap pea plants (and to the left you cannot see my English peas, which I planted as seeds), and in the right foreground are the lettuces. That blue thing in the back of the garden is my lawn scepter.

This weekend, the weather was gorgeous, so I got out and filled my raised garden beds with dirt. Then I planted some early seeds and starts. A few herbs and an artichoke plant didn’t die from last year, and I planted peas, lettuce, onions, and beans.

We were supposed to have really strong wind gusts Monday and Tuesday. I did notice some loud wind yesterday morning and saw Wayne come in from sitting outside during the worst, but it dies down and returns. Yesterday afternoon I went out to sweep the back deck. I remember that last fall, I went out one day and suddenly thousands of seeds, the helicopter kind, flew over the trees into our yard. The other day, I noticed that between the boards of our deck and also the table there were hundreds of those little whirligigs sticking up. I had to sweep parallel to the boards to get them out and then sweep crossways to send them off the side of the deck.

Last Wednesday for our hike we just returned to Lewisville Park. The original plan was to follow that up with a trip to World Market, since Maja had never been there, but she didn’t want to continue to drive out there, even though we stopped on the way there. She wants to find a place to hike out in that direction this week. I think we are going to hike at Lacamas Lake.

Monday, it was so nice again that I tried to lure Wayne out to Moulton Falls Park, but he only consented to sit in the parking lot. Luke kept turning around and trying to go back instead of walking in the park, so I finally gave up. I guess it was more distracting for Luke to have left Wayne in the car than it would have been if we hadn’t taken him in the first place.

I had planned this spring to at least get Wayne to do the driving tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, through which thousands of water birds migrate each spring. However, this week when I looked at their web site, they said they were closing down the driving tour during the week for the next month or so, to work on the single-lane bridge that goes into the park. That means if we want to look at the birds, we’ll have to go on the weekend with everyone else. I wonder how crowded it will be. Too bad. I am less likely to convince him to go on the weekend. On the other hand, he might go for a promise of lunch at Fuel Bistro with their famous chocolate chip cookie at the end. His enthusiasm for Fuel, which he always liked but didn’t want to make the drive to most of the time, has increased remarkably since we had the chocolate chip cookie.

I hear that my oldest brother and his wife, who now live in Berkeley, are looking at property in North Clark County (where we live) via the internet. In fact, it is my understanding that they have authorized my niece’s husband to make an offer for some neighbor’s property. We’re not sure if they want to sell or not. It would be nice to have them here, right in the neighborhood. I’m sure they will find something to interest them. It’s funny, because my brother has remarked that he doesn’t understand why people make their houses so fancy to sell them. He says they make him feel uncomfortable. I think he’s been living on his boat too long.

On the other hand, he’s been recommending that I build this super-complicated catwalk structure all over the house for Hillary to use to keep her away from Luke. So, I guess his taste runs to the weird rather than the nice.

Some readers have written to me about the Newfoundland puppy next door. I was alarmed, when we went for our hike last Wednesday, to actually see him out on our main road. It is a two-lane road that has lots of twists and turns and that many people speed down in excess of 50 MPH. I hope he doesn’t get hit. Usually, I see him on our road, which is just a one-lane gravel road, but his owners live nearer to that busy corner than we do, and he seems to be left alone most of the day, unless someone is in the house that I’m unaware of.

The ducks are out this morning, swimming around in our pond. This year we have a mallard pair. We have seen them several times, generally in early morning.

It can’t make up its mind

A couple of tiny snowdrops in the grass

I was out on Monday afternoon taking pictures of my little flowers peeking up through the grass. I said last week that I had crocuses coming up, but I had forgotten that I planted snowdrops last fall, and that’s what they were. My picture here shows how little they are. You can barely notice them peeking up from the blades of grass.

My one teeny tiny crocus, about the size of my thumbnail

For the first time on Monday, I noticed I have one crocus coming up. Last week during our pack walk in Battle Ground, I saw some crocuses in bloom that were about an inch-and-a-half in diameter, but mine are always about the size of my thumbnail. Maybe a different kind? Or maybe it’s because we have such a short growing season? I have no idea. More should be coming up, including orange ones, but I know they won’t be very large.

That was Monday. So then, we woke up Tuesday morning to this!

I took this photo before the sun came over the house, first thing Tuesday morning.

What fun! Especially since I had to drive out first thing to our doctor’s office. I may have told you that because they closed the clinic in Battle Ground and the Salmon Creek office wouldn’t take us, we had to start driving all the way to Fisher’s Landing, almost an hour away. And that was before our doctor’s office moved to Camas! Not even in Vancouver! Most likely, though, because of our elevation, I felt I would probably encounter very little snow once I got off our main road.

That proved to be the case. I saw snow until about halfway down the second major road out of our area, going down in altitude all the time. In Battle Ground, Vancouver, and Camas, it was raining. And by late afternoon, we were back to a few piles here and there.

On Saturday, we made another venture out to the alpaca farm. Wayne had bought himself some socks, which he really loved, very warm knee socks. So, he bought a pair for his brother a few weeks ago and shipped them to Michigan. They were such a hit that his brother asked him to get more and buy some for a friend. After that, and after Luke’s dog class, we went to the Crab Feast at Northwoods Pub. We have gone every year, usually with my sister, niece, and her family. This year, it was just us, though, because my niece and family were in Portland and my sister was working.

No hike to report this week because of two the week before, but on Sunday, it was such a beautiful day that I tried to convince Wayne to go out for a walk with me and Luke. He has not seen any of the beautiful nearby parks, for one thing. He wouldn’t go, so I invited my great niece, Mischa.  We walked for about four miles in Moulton Falls Park. This was Luke’s first time to walk in a forested park, but although some people let their dogs off leash in that park, I did not think he was ready for that yet. I put him on a long leash instead. He enjoyed all the sniffing and saw several other dogs out with their masters.

And speaking of dogs, we were just going out yesterday to romp in the yard with the ball when Luke shot ahead of me and ran barking down the driveway. A Newfoundland puppy from next door, a few months younger than Luke, had ventured up the driveway. Luke stood at the top of the drive and barked at him. I tried to get Luke back inside the house. I have seen this poor puppy just hanging around on the road with no one in sight. I don’t know if he gets out of a pen or they just let him run free all day. I think he wanted to play, but at one point, Luke ran toward him and he panicked and tried to go through the fence to his own property. At least he ran up against the fence and bounced off it. I got Luke to come back toward the house, at which point the dog came toward us, but eventually, we went inside and he left. This incident left Luke in such a state that all afternoon he imagined marauders attacking our house and was constantly barking. I took him out a little later, and only after he examined the orchard and the drive did he calm down, finally admitting that no trespassing puppies were hanging out in our yard.

Signs of spring

Daffodils coming up!

Although we have had some very cold temper-atures lately, I have seen signs of spring. This despite the forecast, which calls for snow today (we got a sprinkling so far) through Friday and again on Tuesday. Nevertheless, I saw a few tiny little crocuses coming through in the orchard, and the blades of my daffodils have been pushing up for the past couple weeks. I know from experience, though, that I will be seeing the daffodils down in the valley for weeks before I see mine, and no sign of any flowers there yet. I didn’t bother with the picture I took of the crocuses, because you can hardly see them in the picture.

Luke at the edge of our pond. It looks very small in this picture, but actually it expends off to the left of this photo. A beaver dam just off to the right makes this end of the pond.

On the weekend, I began blazing a trail through the brambles down by the pond. This effort was because of a suggestion from my friend Deb, who helped me pick blackberries last year. She noted that some of the best berries were inaccessible, right next to the pond, and pointed out that an additional path would get us closer to the berries. So, on Saturday while it was sunny but cold, I took Luke down there with a pair of clippers and started clipping out a path through the brambles. That turned out to be more tedious than I thought, so on Sunday, Wayne helped me run an extension cord down there to use the weed whacker. Once we got the cord down there, it didn’t work, and it took us a while to find that the plug halfway down the slope from the house, which Wayne ran last summer, had come unplugged. Finally, Wayne helped me with the whacking, and afterwards we sat down on our bench in the sun and enjoyed the pond.

On Friday, Wayne and I went out on an outing, an occurrence that is sufficiently rare (Wayne coming along, that is) to be remarked upon. We went to the Friends of the Library book sale in Woodland. To get to Woodland from our house, you can either drive south down to Battle Ground, go west to the freeway, and drive north to Woodland, or you can take one of two back ways. We took the shorter back way out, which winds around through country roads, but when we got outside La Centre, about 50 feet of the road was torn up with no detour. We had to turn around and depend upon our GPS to get us out of there, which it did by taking us over to the freeway.

On the way back, we decided to go the long way home, which is to take WA 503 towards Cougar and turn south on its spur to Amboy and eventually our house. We had never been that way before because it was closed between Woodland and Cougar for a long time shortly after we got here, because of an avalanche. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains, and we saw an elk just grazing in someone’s pasture. When I told my neighbor that, she said, “Well, yeah,” and looked at me in surprise, but I have never seen an elk since I moved here, not even in the elk-viewing area up at Mt. St. Helens. So, that was exciting.

Right now and since Monday, I am tolerating loud pounding above my head. That’s because the roofers arrived yesterday and began tearing off the shingles. Yesterday they started putting the new ones on.

Lukey has been going bonkers from the noise. Monday, he was out to Puppy Play and Stay, and later I took him into the orchard to get him away from the noise. Still, he was so fascinated by the men walking around on top of the house that he wasn’t doing a good job of concentrating on fetching the ball. Hillary hasn’t been happy, either.

Some of the white stuff is water and some of it is ice. Nice.

Because of the delivery of our washing machine, due any minute, I have two hikes under my belt already this week. Last week, we returned to Moulton Falls Park, because it was very cold and potentially slippery. We had to get moving before our fingers and toes warmed up. It wasn’t slippery at all, however, and although most of the snow in the park was gone, we saw a small frozen waterfall. We had a strong wind storm the night before, and we saw lots of downed trees in the park, including one across the path.

Yesterday, we took another hike. We returned to Whipple Creek Park, a beautiful place to be on a sunny, cool winter day. The park is mostly forested, and we encountered several sets of horses, joggers, and dog walkers on our hike. It poses a little more of a challenge than some of our default hikes for the winter, because it has quite a few steep hills without being too difficult. We went 3.6 miles today, taking two of the loops.

My sister has finally talked my niece into coming to art class with us, so she has put Katrina on the waiting list for our class. I am excited she will get to come. She really misses art, and I haven’t understood why she couldn’t come before. She is probably being careful with money. The class is in the evening, so she shouldn’t have a problem with the kids, but it remains to be seen whether she will come with us to dinner when we go after class. I suspect, since she won’t be going to Weight Watchers (I’m sorry, they’ve renamed it WW) beforehand, that she’ll be meeting us there every week.

Holy moley!

Since I didn’t take any interesting pictures this week, here’s a picture of Robert Pattinson.

I have to start with that because any other phrases I can think of that start with “holy” aren’t as polite. I was just sitting down to write a run-of-the-mill entry for this week, since nothing in particular happened to me, when I noticed that someone had linked to my site. I kid you not, it was Robert Pattinson’s official web site! (Yes, that hunky guy from the Twilight series.) They quoted me from my blog What? Me Read? on a review of a book that is being made into a movie, Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time. Pattinson appears to be taking a role in the movie. I’m including the link in case anyone else wants to look at my pithy quote (ha, ha, ha). (I prefer this to LOL even though I’ve read that ha, ha, ha is now considered to be snarky.) I checked, and it does indeed appear to be Robert Pattinson’s official web site, although I have no illusions that Pattinson himself has ever looked at my site.

So, that’s my excitement for the week. Might as well wrap up now. Ho hum!

Well, what did happen last week? I kid you not, it was so uneventful that I had to go look at my diary to see what happened. Mischa belt tested on Friday, which I didn’t even know about, and she is now a brown belt. The only way that affected me, since I didn’t have a chance to go, was that I didn’t have to drive her to taekwondo on Saturday because they didn’t have class. It snowed quite a bit Friday night, so I wasn’t sure they would have class anyway, but that was the last time this week that we got a lot of snow. The rest of the time we got a dusting here and there. Today, by the way, was absolutely beautiful, cold and sunny. We had frost in the morning that we could hardly tell from the few piles of snow we have left.

For hiking, my neighbor and I just went for a couple miles in Moulton Falls Park. It was a coldish day, and there was a sign saying a trail was closed, but we never actually found any closing. However, we didn’t go as far as we usually do because she wasn’t feeling very well. We ended up with lunch at the pho restaurant in Battle Ground.

I have been wondering when the dog training people might say that Lukey needs to leave Puppy Play and Train, since he is almost nine months old. I asked the owner the other day, and she said that since he plays nicely with others, he can stay in as long as we want him to. I almost think that is more important for him than his training classes, because of the socialization, since during class they are not supposed to try to interact. So, that and my weekly pack walk with the people from class are Lukey’s contacts with other dogs, since he never sees the other dogs in our neighborhood. The dog across the street is a watch dog, so Lukey runs back into the house whenever he barks. I know there are a couple of nice puppies around, but I don’t know their owners very well, so I hesitate to approach them about Luke playing with them.

By the way, you might remember me saying that Ruthie, the golden retriever puppy about his age, is his favorite doggie friend. She has been missing from class and our pack walk for a couple months because first she was sick and then her owner, Judy, hurt her leg. Last Wednesday, Ruthie came to class for the first time, and when we came into the room, Luke made a beeline for Ruthie. It was so sweet. Then Judy and Ruthie came for our pack walk, and Luke was ecstatic!

Sadly, I noticed a logging truck with logs driving down our little one-lane road today. It was coming from the direction of my niece’s house, so I messaged them and found out it was their next-door neighbor taking down all the trees on their lot. (This is something they do here when they need money that none of us can fathom. Trees are looked at as nothing but a crop.) They took down a few trees a couple years ago, and my niece and her husband were very upset because they could see clear across from their garden to some of the buildings on the other lot. Now, my niece’s husband says he is going to plant a bunch of large evergreens on the fence line, because they can see everything. Luckily, my niece’s house itself is surrounded by their own strip of woods they call “the forest.”

In other news, we have spotted a pair of ducks on our pond again, mallards this year. Yesterday morning, we actually saw two pair, but then we watched one pair chase the other pair off. I hope they will have better luck with their ducklings this year. Wayne saw ducklings last year, but I never did, and we assumed that some animal got them. My neighbor tells me that every year something gets the ducklings on her pond, raccoons, coyotes, or something else. I guess it’s a miracle there are any grown ducks around.

The only other thing that happened this week was we bought a washer yesterday. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.

New excursions

Most of my week, besides my ordinary activities, was taken up with planning for and thinking about my big task for the week, which was to buy tickets for five people to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next summer. We have two people coming in from town, and my friend Deb and sister Sue are coming, too.

I have a fairly basic membership, so for me, the website and phone lines opened up to buy tickets at 8 AM on Friday. Before that, my friends and I had a few email exchanges to clarify what everyone wanted in case I had difficulty getting tickets for anything we planned to go see. Unlike this year, when Deb and I went in April, we explicitly planned to go in June so that we could attend the Elizabethan Theater. As it is an outdoor theater, it is only open during the summer. We also wanted to avoid the possibility of plays being cancelled because of forest fires, so we decided to go as early in the season as possible to see our chosen plays.

OSF offers three ways to buy tickets, and I was trying to figure out which one would work best. You can place an unseated order before your open date, and then starting at 8 AM on that day, they will begin assigning seats. I thought that might be the method most likely to go wrong. How do they allocate seats, for example? Do they block off the number they will need for the total number of reservations? In that case, this method would work best, probably. But if the people assigning seats at OSF are actively competing against the people logging in to the web site or calling, probably not.

So, I decided to try both calling and logging in. Calling, I had to dial four or five times before I got into their system to wait. Logging in, I got in a queue that gave me a countdown until I would be able to access the site. Logging in worked best at first and I was able to pick my seats and get them into my shopping cart before anyone came on the phone. Unfortunately, tickets to one play were already sold out. I am not sure whether that means the members with a higher membership status bought them before Friday or if that does mean that, while they aren’t assigning seats to the people who put in unassigned requests, they are allocating the number of seats they need. I got in soon enough after 8 AM that it seems unlikely that all the seats sold out that morning.

However, I got tickets to the three plays everyone wanted to see, All’s Well That Ends Well, Macbeth, and As You Like It, and I got the last two tickets to Alice in Wonderland for my sister and friend. I was surprised to see, however, how few seats were left for any of the plays we wanted to attend. It was when I tried to finish my transaction that I ran into delays. When I was ready to pay, I got a message saying that I would be allowed to do so in 40 minutes! That was when making the call, too, and staying on hold the whole time paid off, because a nice man came on the phone within 10 minutes. He was able to help me finish my transaction by picking up my seats as I let them go from my shopping cart, and then I paid over the phone. All in all, I think I may have been on the phone and online for about 20 minutes, which isn’t so bad.

Deb got started after that on making our hotel arrangements, and that turned out to be more problematic. We were not able to get rooms  in the cheaper part of the hotel that we got last time, so we are having to spend more money. I’m not sure how much more it is for the more expensive building (this hotel occupies four buildings; our rooms last year were in the “historic” section, which just means it was an old-fashioned motel that had been updated) and how much because we are going in high season. Next year, after we have experienced the Elizabethan Theater, we will have to evaluate how important that is versus the crowds and inconvenience we anticipate from going during high season.

Back to our normally scheduled events, my hiking friends and I just went to Moulton Park again this week, but we hiked longer than usual, about four miles. It was a cold, damp morning, so it was nice to finish it off with a visit to the new pho restaurant in Battle Ground. Since then, it has been dry and crisp, with lovely cold days. Tomorrow it is supposed to get damp again, however, even with snow in the higher altitudes expected on Thanksgiving weekend.

Lukey did well in puppy class this week. He was the star of come when called during both classes. However, he gets really distracted when the class is large, as it was on Saturday, with 11 puppies. He can also smell the cookies in my pocket and jumps up on me to try to get one. So, he did a poor job at down later on Saturday’s class. He just wouldn’t stay down. We were doing it in their outside section, so I don’t know if that was because of the cold ground or the amount of confusion. The instructor has pretty much let me know that he is ready to graduate at the end of the month.

In art class, I continued painting my first coat of sky on my landscape. I also got my still life painting framed. I hung it in a place where you can see the original jug and the painting at the same time, which makes it interesting.

Finally, Deb and I did some fun things Sunday. First, we went for dim sum in Portland. Those of you who know me know that I love dim sum. In fact, at my last workplace, I was known as the Duchess of Dim Sum, because I periodically arranged dim sum lunches for a large group of coworkers. Deb took me out to Wong’s King restaurant in Portland for the first dim sum I have had since we moved to Washington two years ago. Yum, yum! Although, just as a note, we decided they left the food on the carts too long. We had some that wasn’t very fresh or warm. However, I’m not complaining!

Later, we took a mushroom identification class at Scouters Mountain Park in Happy Valley, Oregon. It was a beautiful day, but it was very, very cold on Scouters Mountain. Going up the trail to the picnic area where the class was scheduled, we saw two deer, who didn’t seem very worried at all that we were nearby. Up in the park, there were beautiful views of Mt. Hood.

The deer at Scouters Mountain don’t seem to be worried about us at all.

The class was interesting, but we both felt there was too much standing around for such a cold day. First, there was about a half hour introduction on fungi. Then we went down the trail to look for mushrooms. My feet had turned into ice blocks by then, even though I had on warm socks and hiking shoes. I hadn’t thought to wear my winter boots because I only put them on in snow, and we haven’t had any yet. Looking for mushrooms involves taking a few steps and then stopping because someone has found a mushroom, then talking about it for five minutes, and then taking a few more steps. So, we didn’t get very warm from that. Finally, we decided to cut out half an hour early and go drink coffee and hot chocolate. Nevertheless, it was fun and a good way to enjoy the sunny, crisp day. And to think that I was afraid I had worn too many layers!

Yesterday, I picked all my remaining brussel sprouts from my garden and uprooted those plants as well as my squash and eggplant plants. Today or perhaps this weekend I will see what I can do with the zillion green tomatoes on my tomato plants. I had one yellow tomato off one plant this summer and all the red ones on the other plant seemed to have a fungus. Now that it is too late for any tomatoes to ripen, I have scads of them. I don’t know how to can or anything, so the question is, what to do with a bunch of green tomatoes?

After  I pull up all my plants except my artichoke, it will be time to spread more dirt and the alpaca poop I bought this summer, all to be ready for next spring.

That was all for this week. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!