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.

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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!