Start of a new life stage

I’m referring in the title to my brother John and sister-in-law Lucie, because over New Years they were applying to rent their house on the beach, on Wednesday, they were accepted, and on Thursday, they were told they could move in any time. Of course, their new life stage actually started when they retired, but everything has been chaos and up in the air until now, what with his several surgical procedures, followed by selling the house, traveling out here, and then their hunt for a new house. Because the new house was let furnished, they are going to send for their things but keep the furniture in storage until their lease is near to being up, at which time they will decide whether to renew it or whether to try to find something unfurnished. They are still set on not buying, but I think that as a long-term decision it’s not the best one, because of the rising rents. We’ll see how that all turns out. They like Astoria, and it seems as if home prices there are still affordable as it is a working port instead of a beach town.

John and Lucie on the beach in Seaside on a foggy day. Is that haystack rock behind them? It doesn’t look right, but that may be because of the fog.

So, they decided to leave Friday morning, because they had to meet the property agent at 1 PM to sign the lease. On Thursday night, I decided to miss my painting class so that we could all have a nice dinner out before they left. We took them to a very nice Greek restaurant in Battle Ground called George’s Molon Lavé. On Saturday, we received several pictures of them in their new home or on the beach, including this one.

Just before our New Years’ Eve party, some of the family was very upset because we heard of some untrue things my brother Mark’s wife had said or implied about John, I assume in an overzealous loyalty to her husband. In a way, it was none of my business, because the things weren’t said to me, but I was tempted to pull Mark aside and tell him to rein in his wife. However, it was clear to me on the night of the party that he knew nothing about any of this, because he was friendly to John (after not speaking to him for seven years), and he even got up from one end of the dining table and walked over to sit next to him at the other end, where they remained in conversation for quite a while. That decided me to say nothing at this point, although Nancy was not at all friendly to either John or Lucie, interesting because neither of them have ever been anything but nice to her. But then the whole thing is just plain stupid. In any case, my hope is that John and Lucie will now be far enough away for Nancy to stop meddling. If I hear of anything else, though, I’ll be speaking to Mark about it.

We had a fun New Years Eve, but because my brother Steve’s family was unable to come after all (they were unfortunately all sick), I knew none of us was going to make it to midnight (they are the ones that keep going and going, like the Energizer bunny), so at my instigation, we toasted in 7:13 PM, which just happened to be the time we started the toast. Everyone thought that was very funny. I read the situation right, because all the guests were gone by 8:30 (we started at 5, at least we were supposed to; this was the only time in my life that most of the guests showed up 1/2 hour early), although John and Lucie and I attempted to sit up watching Amadeus. Unfortunately, we thought the DVD was defective because only the last half was on it, so we switched over to It’s a Wonderful Life, which turns out to be John’s Christmas movie. (As it was, the DVD wasn’t defective, but the movie was on BOTH SIDES of it! I had never seen that before. Unfortunately, we lost the DVD case before Wayne rescued the DVD from the trash. I dug through the trash for it but did not find it. Maybe it will turn up.)

Thursday was a day for the blahs, as John and I ended up staying up well after midnight (Lucie has seen It’s a Wonderful Life too many times to stay up for it), but at least we got some exercise. I had taken John to Moulton Falls Park a few days before, and he wanted Lucie to see it, so we went for a long walk there in the rain (going in two cars so that Luke could go, as Lucie is very allergic) and got very wet. In fact, it has continued to rain here almost every day for the last couple weeks, and the only letup will be if we get some snow. Right now, I see snowflakes on my phone for every day in the next week except Friday and Saturday, but the forecast highs seem too high for that to be likely, at least this week. Next week, it’s supposed to be colder.

On Friday morning, John and Lucie left, and I went into Battle Ground with Luke to take a walk with my friend Christine. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, and we both missed what have become our almost weekly coffees. We walked Luke from the park to Battle Ground Deli and had coffee. Luckily, it was one of the few days lately that was dry.

On Saturday Luke’s classes started back up, but unfortunately, I forgot about his Monday night class this week. That’s especially bad because this coming Saturday he’ll miss his class, for I’ll be out of town. The days when Wayne might have taken him to class are long gone. Luke won’t miss Puppy Play this week, though.

This week, we are back to our usual schedule with one exception. Maja and I are switching hiking day from Wednesday to Tuesday so that we can go to a tai chi class at the Battle Ground Senior Center. I have been looking for a tai chi class, since I took it for a few years in Austin, but until I happened upon a sign in the Community Center advertising this one, the nearest one I could find was in Vancouver, and it was expensive. As far as I know, this one is either free or inexpensive. I’ll find out today when I go.

Snowpocalypse!

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.

Cheese dog

The other morning, my husband had one of his alarmist attacks, where he tends to assume the worst, particularly about his own health. When we were supposed to get up early to go to water classes, he wanted to take Luke to the vet instead. Luke seemed perfectly healthy and perky to me, but Wayne was alarmed because he hadn’t pooped since early the day before. I pointed out that because Luke is insanely fond of cheese, he’d been getting some cheese with every meal, and cheese is binding, as my little German grandmother used to say. Sure enough, Luke went out shortly afterward and did his business. I have suggested that he get a little less cheese on his food at meal time.

He is a funny dog, because although he goes around picking up almost anything disgusting he can find outside or inside, when offered food, he is highly skeptical of anything except what he’s used to. I told Wayne this was a great opportunity to keep him on his kibble, as he used to feed our dog Hans all kinds of stuff that was bad for him, and both Hans and the first Luke were terrible beggars. This morning, however, I notice he fed him part of his omelet, so here we go. At puppy class, however, Luke turns his nose up at the trainers’ treats. We have to bring along a bag of his kibble. The only treat he seems to like is Milkbone dog biscuits.

Lukey did very well at puppy class this week except that on Saturday we were trying something that the trainer said she usually only does in the next class up, after puppy class. The puppies were put on place, and one at a time, each puppy was walked around the other puppies and then weaved among the puppies. The idea was to see if this distraction would cause the puppies to get off place or to not walk properly on their leashes. When it was his turn to do the walking, Lukey was doing okay until two great big older puppies both came off their places at once and approached him. This scared him so much that he had to sit the rest of the class out. They were about four times bigger than him.

Here’s a pretty pool along the path near the Hantwick trailhead at Moulton Park.

For our hike this week, it was me and my two stalwart hiking friends. Because the weather was rainy, we went to Moulton Park, the Hantwick trailhead, which has a nice paved path. I wore my new hiking boots, which I decided were a mistake because they were cutting into my ankles, even though I didn’t have the top hooks tied. This Monday, I took them back and exchanged them for the low rise ones. Unfortunately, the high boots were a nice blue gray, and all they had left in the low rise in my size was black. I am embarrassed to admit that I went home and ordered blue ones online in addition to the black ones. I have learned that if I like something I need to buy more than one, because when the other wears out, most likely I won’t find it again. I can either save one of the pairs of boots or alternate them so that they don’t wear out as fast. My hiking friend Shawn says her hiking books, the same ones only red, are the most comfortable shoes she owns.

And speaking of the weather, we had a few rainy days last week, but now it is warmer and gorgeous. Not hot like an Indian summer, but just about the perfect temperature. During the next week, the lows are supposed to be in the 50’s, and tonight even in the high 40’s. Leaves are beginning to change, so it will soon be fall.

In art class this week we had a substitute. As soon as two of the class members saw who was substituting, they both left. I don’t know if it was because they didn’t want anyone but Sarah or because of who was substituting. I found our substitute a little annoying, but she was okay. Sue said she made her really on edge. Instead of continuing work on my greenery, the substitute showed me a good approach for the shadows of the leaves on the wall, and that’s what I worked on for the rest of the class. My sister was supposed to do one more color-matching exercise, but it turned out she didn’t have all the colors she needed. She wanted to do the exercise anyway by approximating the colors, but the instructor had her start a painting instead. I want to point out that I started painting a year ago, and since then I have only finished two paintings. My sister completed the entire background of a complex painting in one session. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad for her. She says she wants to learn but tends to resist suggestions.

Today is exciting because we are getting a new dishwasher. From the time we moved in and actually paid attention to the dishwasher, I knew we were going to have to buy a new one. It was fairly clear that the previous owners removed their dishwasher sometime before or after the sale of the house and replaced it with one that was very old. I’m talking 1980’s at the earliest and possibly 70’s, one of those old beige plastic things that has since turned a sort of yellow.

A few months ago, I noticed that our glasses had a film on them and our glasses cupboard had a powder on it. I thought it was because we had recently changed our dish-washing detergent after our local grocery store stopped carrying the one we had been using. A couple weeks ago, however, my husband noticed that the lower rack to the dishwasher was not the one that actually went with it, as the soap dish could not even open up with that rack in the dishwasher. So, all this time, we have been just rinsing our dishes. My guess is that they found some old dishwasher and it didn’t have a rack, so they located a rack somewhere that wasn’t the right one for the appliance. I had noticed that it was sometimes hard to close the dishwasher, but it didn’t occur to me that anyone would put in the wrong rack. Now I’m totally grossed out.

Once we made that discovery, we looked online to see if we could buy a new rack. We could, but it didn’t seem to make sense to do so, since the rack cost a couple hundred dollars and our dishwasher is so old that it could break any time. So, we ordered a new one. I have been putting the soap in the prewash dish, which doesn’t have a top, ever since we made this discovery. I am looking forward to having really clean dishes.

 

A change in routine

I am writing up this blog earlier in the week than usual, on Sunday, so that I will have something to post this Wednesday no matter how busy I am. This is because I am leaving early tomorrow, Monday morning, for a short trip to the San Juan Islands. I am going with my sister, my niece’s husband, and their two kids. My niece is taking the rare opportunity to stay home alone, and my husband is taking the all-to-frequent opportunity to do the same. On Thursday, everyone except my sister and I is coming back, but we are going to explore the Olympic Peninsula for a few more days, including spending the night in a haunted castle. What a castle is doing on the Olympic Peninsula, I do not know. In any case, I don’t see anything about it being haunted anywhere online.

This week, my neighbor and I went hiking again at Moulton Falls. We started out earlier than usual because it was supposed to be hot, and we were glad we did, because even on the shady hiking paths, it was muggy. For the first time, we saw people down in the water enjoying swimming and sitting on the rocks. That will continue all summer. We walked a little over three miles.

I was happy to see that last week I lost not only all the weight I gained over the last two weeks but a little bit more, for a total of 1.6 pounds. Because it was the first night at my evening art class, I went straight from Weight Watchers to the art school. Unfortunately, I was so hungry by the time I got home around 9 PM that I asked Wayne to go to McDonald’s, something I have not done in ages. I ate enough to use up not only all my points for that day but also almost all my weekly points (you get a set number of points each day and a set number of extra points for the week) for the whole week! (To be fair, that was only a quarter pounder with cheese and a mango smoothie plus the naughty lemon pound cake I had from Starbucks earlier. I ate that without looking it up first. Never again.) Considering that Thursday is my weigh-in day, that means that I ate the whole week’s worth of extra points in one meal. I am not out of points because I still have my daily points plus fitness points that I usually never use; however, I am obviously going to have to take a snack along with me to eat in between WW and class so I won’t get so hungry.

Art class seemed very different this week. My class was in the other classroom, for one thing. All my other classes have been in the same room. My new teacher, Oksana, at first seemed somewhat forbidding. That turned out to be because the main office signed up people for her class without telling them at the satellite school, and not knowing, she signed up people for makeups plus the receptionist put people like me into her class. So, she was overbooked and had to put some students into the other classroom. Alina, my previous teacher, was born in the Ukraine but was thoroughly American. Oksana is definitely Russian and we all sometimes have a bit of difficulty understanding each other. She had apparently not run across my name before, because she kept wanted to call me Kai, rhyming with “chai.”

Although Oksana’s classroom was noisy, too, it was the noise of a bunch of people working. She had mostly teenagers and a few older women like me in her class. I encountered Betty, a woman who was in Sarah’s class before Sarah went on maternity leave. She did not stay on for Sarah’s substitute because she is learning watercolor, and Oksana and Sarah are the only two watercolor instructors at our branch of the school. She said that she liked Oksana’s approach to watercolor, so that she is planning on staying in Oksana’s class when Sarah gets back.

Oksana was very helpful to me, which is what I have been missing a bit with my last two teachers, who were both involved in keeping control of all the children. When she saw my finished painting, which I picked up from the other classroom, she told me it was beautiful and asked if anyone had taken a picture of me with it. This is something that they do there, hang up pictures of the students with their finished art, but no one had taken more than one picture of me or my sister since we got there. The ones of us that are up are pictures from when we were studying drawing. So, she took my picture. I have included here the picture that I took of my painting, not the one of me and my painting.

This is a landscape I painted of the Oregon coast, very near where my friend Ray and I were a few weeks ago.

Oksana was very helpful to me in drawing my next picture, which is going to be from a photo I took in my own dining room. It is a silver vase that used to belong to my grandmother filled with peonies and some other flowers I bought at the produce market. We are going to move the vase over toward the center of the picture, get rid of the white door frame on the left of the picture, and remove the glass square the vase is sitting on. I finished the drawing on Thursday night and will begin transferring it to canvas a week from Thursday, after I return from my vacation.

This is my grandmother’s vase in my dining room. The blue reflected in the vase is actually me taking the picture. We like the color but will make it more generalized so that I’m not in the picture. You might be able to tell that I don’t like having my picture taken.

After it cools off and the sun isn’t on the garden, I’m going out to pick some more spinach to take along on our trip and then water the garden.

Next week I hope to have lots of news and pictures from my short holiday!

 

A week of frivolity

A view of the Columbia from up high, taken on our failed hike

I didn’t post last week because I was in the midst of a week of frivolity, entertaining my friend Ray, who came to visit from Denver. The week before, I didn’t do much except clean the house and take my weekly hike with my neighbor. She suggested we go out to Beacon Rock State Park, which is on the Washington side of the Gorge. We didn’t go up the rock but up a hiking path across from it. The hike was supposed to be a short one, a little over two miles round-trip, but I was unable to do it. The path went straight up with no leveling out or going down so that I could catch my breath. Our goal was a waterfall, but after seeming hours of trying to get up the hill, I had to give up. It turned out we had hiked a very short distance, because it only took about 10 minutes to go down. I guess I’m just not ready for so much up. The scenery was beautiful at times, though. Either we were in dense forests or we saw views of the Gorge.

The tae kwon do demo team. My great-niece is the tall redhead in the front row of kids dressed in red.

The Saturday before last, I went to a parade. My great-niece was chosen to perform in the demo team for her tae kwon do class. Of course, I dressed wrong. It was cold in the house, but it was hot down in Hockinson, where the parade was. My niece made the same mistake, and my poor great-niece had two layers of clothes on. Boy, was she hot when she got finished. The kids did a great job, of course. They had to stop periodically and go through a routine. My niece’s husband, whom the red hair came from, walked with the parents behind the team. He came back with a sunburned neck!

My friend Ray arrived last Monday. The first night, all we did was go to the movies, but that is unusual enough. The only movie we could agree on, it being summer and therefore time for movies for 14-year-old boys, was Ready Player One, also for 14-year-old boys, but at least witty. After that we went out to eat at a 24-hour diner. My diet was shot from then on, so I didn’t really try that hard. The damage has yet to be assessed.

My friend Ray on the bridge over Moulton Falls. They’re not really falls, just some rapids, and in this picture, you can’t really see them.

Our hike was moved to Tuesday morning because we were going to the beach on Wednesday, so my neighbor decided not to go. Ray and I went over to Moulton Falls. It was a beautiful day, and we walked about three miles on an easy trail.

Here’s a really bad picture of James Taylor. To give you an idea of how bad it is, he’s the man sitting down on the far right who seems to be dressed in white. In actuality, he was dressed in black. Of course, you can’t see his face at all in this picture. As you can see, though, we had very good seats.

That night was one of the highlights of Ray’s visit. My sister had invited me months ago to attend a James Taylor concert with her. When I realized that Ray’s visit coincided with our concert, I checked to see if tickets were still available and then called Ray and had him buy one. The three of us went out to dinner in Portland and then went to the concert. It was great! I was astonished that his voice seems just as good as it always did. We were disappointed to miss Bonnie Raitt, who was supposed to perform with him but had to cancel. However, the concert was excellent with all the old favorites plus some songs we weren’t familiar with. We got home after midnight for the second night in a row.

On Wednesday, we left for a three-day trip to the Oregon coast. We tried hard to talk my husband into coming, but he decided not to (no surprise there). It seemed contrary to Ray, but we traveled north on I-5 and then cut over to Astoria, where we stopped to go up to the tower and eat lunch, and then drove along the coast most of the way down. Once we got in the Tillamook area, we were inland, and the views were more pastoral. We ended up in Lincoln City. There, Ray had found a great hotel. It is called the Shearwater Inn. Because we thought there were going to be three of us, he got us the Grand Suite, a two-bedroom suite. It was really nice, and a great deal. This entire suite, which was about the size of three normal hotel rooms, cost less than my motel room in Ashland last spring. The hotel was clean and elegant. My bedroom and bathroom alone were the size of a regular room. Then we had a living room with a fireplace and a full kitchen, another bathroom, and a smaller but still nice-sized bedroom with windows on two sides. Our suite had two balconies, although we really only used the one off the living room. The other one was off my bedroom. We felt like we were in the lap of luxury. It didn’t do my diet any good that they filled up a small bowl of salt water taffy every day. I love salt water taffy.

We went for a long walk on the beach, which was a mere 50 feet or so from the door of the hotel. Then we ate dinner at a very good seafood restaurant that was just across the parking lot from our hotel.

The next day we were booked for a whale watch in the afternoon, so we spent the morning driving south from Lincoln City along the coast. We saw some spectacular scenery. The weather was a bit blustery, and we were supposed to have confirmation on the trip by 9:30, but they didn’t really confirm until about noon, and then they wanted us there by 1 instead of 2. So, we had to jump in the car and drive back up to Depoe Bay. I was surprised to find we were going in a very small boat, a rubber launch that only held six passengers. Before, I had gone whale watching on large boats. We were able to go very fast, but I think being lower in the water made it harder to see the whales. We saw one and followed it along for a while, but our captain claimed to see another one that we never saw. One thing that happened on that boat that I never saw on the larger ones was that both of the other women in the boat got seasick. One of them spent the entire trip kneeling over the side. We were supposed to see a movie before the trip, but that was moved to afterwards. However, by the time we got back, Ray and I were so hungry that we skipped the movie and went straight for lunch. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening exploring the coast.

I took this picture of a bridge and the beautiful rugged coastline when we were down below near the Spouting Horn. It was too difficult to get a picture of the Horn when it was spouting, so I didn’t try.

The most interesting sights we saw that day were along Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. There, the sea comes in on a rocky coastline, creating some really interesting phenomena. One is called the Spouting Horn. The sea comes in a channel called Cooks’ Chasm that has a cave at the end. If the water hits the cave just right, the water shoots a spout way up from a hole at the top of the rock. Another feature is called Thor’s Well. It’s a hole in the rocky shoreline. Every wave that comes in, water bubbles up in a huge bubble that comes up several feet above the edge of the rock and then gets sucked back down the hole when the wave goes out. We were told to view these an hour before high tide, and we stayed there an hour watching them. These sights are spectacular but can be dangerous, because people can be sucked by the waves back out into the ocean.

The next morning was the only little glitch of our stay in our hotel. I woke up really early that morning. We had had an interrupted sleep, because the city electric department was working all night outside our windows. Ray said he got up in the middle of the night to watch them for a while, they were making so much noise. In fact, they cut the power to our hotel from 11 PM to early morning. I would have thought I would sleep in after that, but instead I woke up shortly after 5 AM with the idea of taking a last walk on the beach before we left that morning. Once I had the idea in my head, I couldn’t let go of it, so I went out and walked on the beach for about 40 minutes. It was perfectly peaceful. I only saw another woman with two dogs and a lot of sea birds. I would have stayed out longer, but I was afraid Ray would wake up early and wonder where I was.

However, when I got back to the hotel, my badge had stopped working. This small hotel doesn’t man the desk all night. Instead, the desk doesn’t open until 7:30. There I was with no money and no phone outside at 6:15 wondering if I had to stay out there another hour. Of course, I hadn’t been able to decide whether to stay out longer, but since I couldn’t get in, I was determined to get in. Luckily for me, a maintenance man was there right in the lobby when I went to the main door. He had been checking the hotel systems ever since the power went back on at 4:30 AM, so he let me back into the hotel and into my room.

That day we had tickets booked on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway in the afternoon. Before our train trip, we explored the coast north of Lincoln City. This drive we took was supposed to have the most spectacular scenery, but what we saw was a little disappointing. Of course, we didn’t make it all the way around the top of the cape to Pacific City, because we had to make our train trip. It was raining all day, so it was nice to just sit on the train, but otherwise, this trip was a little disappointing as well. It went from one seaside town to another, Garibaldi to Rockaway Beach, but in between, we mostly saw the backs of houses. Rockaway Beach seemed like kind of a sad little beach town with a muddy beach and mostly tiny cottages. However, they have a great bakery right across from the railroad depot. We went across and had a treat and coffee then got back on the train.

After that, it was time to drive home, which we did in pouring rain. This was the first time to use my GPS, which gave us such a wacky route home that we ended up using Ray’s phone. The entire way home it was pouring, and we didn’t get home until about 7 PM. My neighbor and I had concluded that the preferences for the GPS were set strangely, so we had several times tried to figure out how to get to them. As a test on Friday, when we were sitting patiently in Portland next to the I-5 ramp (which would take us almost straight home), we told the GPS to Go Home, and it said, “Cannot go there with your preferences.” We then made a plan to go out to the garage before our next road trip (to Mt. St. Helens) to check the preferences when the car was stationary. Sure enough, we were discussing this plan the next morning when my husband, who had just said he didn’t change the preferences, said “I know how to do that,” and left for two minutes to change them. Since I didn’t know how to change them, it was clear who had done it in the first place and who had listened to me complaining that I couldn’t use the GPS on numerous occasions because it had routed me so strangely, and yet had said nothing. I don’t remember if I told you that the morning my friend and I went to Ashland, it tried to send me four hours out of the way to pick her up. She lives an hour away. The GPS had a Highways check box, and apparently, my husband had unchecked it, so it was trying to route us without using major highways.

The mask is open to show the other mask inside, but the side parts, when closed, make the beak of a bird that juts out maybe five feet in front of the dancer’s face.

But that’s neither here nor there, there is more frivolity to relate. The next night we did one of the most interesting things of the trip. We went to a summer ceremony at the Lelooska Foundation. The Lelooska family created the foundation to preserve the arts of the native people of North America. The ceremony takes place in a long house and consists of stories, dances, and the display of the masks representing the characters to which the Lelooska family has earned the rights and privileges, as he explained. These masks are extraordinary, and the ceremony and stories are interesting and funny. Chief Lelooska explained the meaning of what they were doing first and then told the story while the characters came out and danced. The masks are fantastic. We were not allowed to take pictures, so my picture is from a card that I bought in their gallery. This mask is one of a bird, and you can see that the person wearing it (most likely a woman, as almost the entire family was made up of women) has huge claws on her feet. This picture shows the mask opened up to show another mask underneath, but when the mask is closed, the beak projects about five feet in front of the wearer. It is truly spectacular, and then she makes a snapping movement, and it opens up.

Our final outing was on Sunday, when we drove up to Mt. St. Helens with my sister and my great-niece. It was a rainy day, and when we got to the mountain top, the mountain was covered by a cloud, so we never got to see it up close. However, my great-niece was delighted, because she said she had never been in a cloud before. The movies they have at the Johnson Observatory are great whether you can see the glaciers and the caldera of the volcano or not. I was delighted to find that I could easily tackle some hills that I had not been able to go up last October when my friend visited. It was cold and sleeting at the top of the hill across from the mountain, and we had a wet drive home.

My friend left on Monday afternoon, and after we returned from the airport, I fell asleep for three hours!

By the way, my painting is finally finished. I forgot to take a picture of it, but I’ll post a picture of it next week.

 

A beautiful, white Valentine’s Day surprise

This is what I woke to this morning. A view of the end of our deck with our covered patio furniture, our hummingbird feeder, and some nice trees

This is what I awoke to this beautiful Valentine’s Day morning. Lately, we have had some clear, cold days, gorgeous weather, but except for the temperature going down, I was inclined to think winter was over. My sister was remarking that her bulbs had already started to come up. Snow was forecast for this morning, but last night the weather guy over in Portland was saying that snow would reach pass levels, which usually means three or four thousand feet, not one thousand. But here it is, the thick, sticky kind. Unfortunately, it is already melting, and it’s supposed to be raining by ten. (But it is ten now, and it’s not, so maybe we’ll get to keep it a while. I wrote the sentence before around eight.)

At the edge of the orchard on the road. Our house is back in the distance up the hill. You can just barely see the roof line next to the large fir tree.

My husband got back out of bed a little while ago, and we walked down the driveway to take pictures of the snow. It was gorgeous. We saw one of our neighbor kids with a pickup out in his yard, slewing around on the course that they made for their ATV. He looked stuck. Later, he came down the road. We thought he was going to pass us, but he apparently came down just to see if we needed help.

Schools are cancelled up here in northern Clark County, and so is our long walk. But I am just going to have to go out in this again, if only to the end of the road.

Last week, my neighbor and I went back to Moulton Falls for our long walk. We went to another entrance to the park. Our original intention was to go about two miles along the river and then turn back, but we turned back a little earlier. I think we walked about 3.6 miles.

Our road. The creek to the right is not on our property, but it goes under the road just there and comes out in a little cataract on the other side, then goes into our pond.

This week the kit for my raised beds was delivered, and we made arrangements with our contractors to take down the top of the shed thing, what our contractor calls the carport. We’re leaving the side beams to fasten fencing to, as we’ll need something to protect the garden from the deer and other critters. So, I hope not to miss this year’s planting season. We also might add an extra area behind the garden for chickens, although now we’re talking about making the wolf pen smaller and putting chickens in there instead.

My husband went for his sleep assessment Monday night. I thought maybe I’d sleep better for having the whole bed to myself and Hillary, the cat, since he tends to take up more than his half. But I did not. I’m not sure if my lack of sleep was because he wasn’t in the house for the first time since we moved here or because of my assessment the next day. I am a poor sleeper, so anything out of the ordinary can keep me awake.

Yesterday was my assessment for the library job, and we are supposed to hear about the “next steps” by Friday. More on that later, after I hear whether I got the job.

Art class was after the assessment, and I made good progress on my bird. It’s possible I will finish my picture next week or the week after. When I got to class, I saw that someone had broken out both the front door and the window. They were covered with plywood. The receptionist said that someone broke in the back door late Monday night. From the camera, he appeared to be a homeless person. He didn’t steal anything, just sat in a chair for a while. Then he took the fire extinguisher and busted the door and window and left. Everyone in the school was shocked, but at least he didn’t do anything worse.

I’m looking forward to a lovely relaxed day with nowhere to go and nothing special to do. Maybe I’ll do the laundry a day early.

The weather guys get it wrong

Snow was forecast for Thursday night and all day Friday last week. When I got out of bed Thursday morning at 8 AM, I thought to myself, it is light out, good. That means it isn’t raining, and we can go for our walk. Then I opened the curtains to see that it was snowing. Even the more recent forecast for our area showed that it wouldn’t snow until 11 AM, and our local weather station in Portland was saying there would be snow at 5,000 feet and up. We are at almost exactly 1,000 feet.
At first, my neighbor seemed reluctant to walk in the snow, which tempted me much more than the usual drizzly weather, but after I suggested we go walking farther down in the valley, where there probably wasn’t any snow. She said, “Oh, let’s just go.” In any case, at the park by Moulton Falls where we chose to walk, there wasn’t any snow, just puddles. I guess it is just far enough lower in altitude that it didn’t get snowed on.
It was a gray day, and drippy, but it was a nice day to walk. There weren’t very many people in the park until we met a group of about 30 who were in a Portland hiking club for seniors. I told them we were the Yacolt hiking club for seniors.

The view of Moulton Falls from the bridge

We didn’t pay any attention to how far we walked or how long, although we were getting a little tired on the way back. What was my surprise to find that we walked nearly five miles and were gone more than three hours!

Here is a picture I snapped on our way back to the car. You can see that it’s a gray, foggy day. We got wet but only had to walk through a few puddles.

Today we are going walking again, I hope. So far, the weather is gloomy but not raining.

Another thing that happened Thursday was that the chimney sweeps were due out. In the morning, I asked my husband whether we shouldn’t call them and tell them that we had snow, as often we have it when the valley containing the larger towns and cities doesn’t, and workers arrive to be unpleasantly surprised. He said rather scoffingly that they didn’t care about snow. Well, the first thing they said when they arrived was, “We can’t go out on your roof. We’ll have to come back.” Our roof is rather steep, after all. So, Friday they came back, and we have had our stove burning merrily ever since.

Also on Thursday I went with my sister to Weight Watchers. I belonged years ago and managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but never gained my goal weight and just maintained my weight for over a year, which got discouraging. As soon as I quit counting everything I ate, I gained all of it back and more. Since I had almost weighed the same for many years, that scared me into thinking I shouldn’t diet again. But since then I have gained a lot of weight, so I’m trying again. We’ll see how it goes.

On Saturday we had plans to meet my Portland friend by taking the train into the Gateway station. She was going to pick us up there and take us on a tour of Russian grocery stores. However, I felt sick all Friday night, and my husband woke up complaining of being sick, too, so I cancelled. I had a runny nose and sore throat from stuff going down it, and I was worried about the flu. However, after several doses of hot lemon and some Nyquil the next night, I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. My nose still runs sometimes, so I can only think it might be an allergy. Our expedition to Portland is postponed to this weekend.

On Sunday we were invited to my niece’s house for dinner to help consume the prime rib that came with the beef they buy in bulk. I think my niece and sister divide a half steer, and that feeds them beef for quite some time. Dinner was delicious. I brought roasted beans and asparagus.

Finally, last night we met our new art teacher. She is not Theresa, as I had feared, but a new teacher. So far, it’s difficult to tell how good a teacher she will be as she was just observing. I spent the evening trying to paint my bird. I felt fairly frustrated, as my bird has lots of brown markings on whitish feathers. I thought I was just painting blobs. It’s at times like this that require patience that I fall down on the job, having no patience at all.