Winter or spring? Return of the poltergeists

The weather has been extremely variable this week. On Saturday morning, we looked up and realized that the rain had changed to snow. It snowed long enough that some of it began sticking and by the time I had to take Luke for his 9 AM dog class, I was driving in slush, but by the time I got home, it was all gone. Then around 1 PM, we got more snow, although it did not stick. That was followed by a couple of rainy days, and now for the last two days it’s been warm and sunny. I took a movie of the snow for you, but I see that the file types I am allowed to post do not include movies. Hence, I have no pictures for my blog this week.

That’s not altogether right, though. I do have a picture. On Sunday night, we were watching TV in the living room when we heard a BAM! on our front door. We opened up the door but could see nothing. Luke was barking like a crazy dog. We realized that the kids were back. We couldn’t figure out what they hit the door with. I thought they hit it, but Wayne thought they bounced something heavy off it.

I stood by the window next to the front door, because on the other occasions when they just knocked on the door, they came back. Then Wayne said, “What’s that flash?” They were shining flashlights into our front window (which they have done before). I went out and heard kids running around in the woods above our house and then heard them shouting taunts. I told them I was going to go in and call their parents.

In reality, I only knew to call the people whose property they were on. They told us their kids were all inside, but they said they would email the parents and send their son-in-law out with a flashlight. I didn’t see his flashlight, but it got quiet in the woods really quickly.

Here’s the boot print we found on our front door the next morning. Yes, my front door is bright green.

The next morning we found a lovely big, smeared boot print on our front door. I took a picture of it and posted it on our neighborhood Facebook page with a description of what had happened.

I’m not sure if was the neighbor’s emails or my Facebook post (which got quite a bit of comment), but that afternoon, a car drove up and a boy, about 10 years old maybe, got out. I could see an apology coming. He apologized and said another boy would be coming by to wash off our door. I didn’t know who he or his mom were and was taken too by surprise to ask, but I think this boy might not have been from our streets in our little neighborhood but maybe from down the main road. A little later, a boy came by whom I did recognize, our across-the-road neighbor. He looks about 10, too, but he is 13. He apologized and said he would be back to clean the door. He came back in the evening and did it, and then asked if it was okay and apologized again. I think the parents really let these kids have it. There were more kids involved than just this two, but hopefully, they all got the message. I hope this is the end of it all.

Over the weekend, my family got going about the coronavirus. Some of their concern was legitimate. They decided not to go to a taekwondo tournament in Seattle, where most of the virus seems to be and which would include a lot of people from Korea. That seemed a legitimate concern, but now many of them are announcing their intention to stay home for the next two weeks, even though there are no cases locally. My brother, who had planned to come here this coming weekend for Crab Feast and his birthday, has decided to stay home. Wayne and I are doing our usual things, except now Wayne thinks he has a bronchial infection, despite not coughing more than twice in two days. That’s Wayne all over.

This means that he didn’t make his first tai chi class on Monday, which makes me wonder if he will go at all. I had been looking forward to doing something besides dog class on Monday nights. I usually hate going there, even though it is by far the best class because it is much more lightly attended. His Saturday class has so many dogs in it that it seems overwhelming at times. However, I just don’t like having to pack Luke up and drive into town on cold, rainy nights. It’s not late, but it is dark out. I don’t mind those classes later in the year when it’s light out and warm.

So, I wasn’t sure if I should just go to the tai chi class by myself or take Luke to dog class or what. Inertia won, and I stayed home.

On Monday morning, a crew showed up to rip out all the blackberry bramble on the slope near the back of the house. It was expensive, but we are relieved to get rid of it. We had both worked on it, but neither of us felt secure enough to try going up the steepest part of the slope. Now we have a pile of bramble to burn. We also have fabric stretched down behind our house on which to plant grass.

In art class, it’s about time for me to start painting the hairs on my pigs. I know that will continue for some time, but it’s one of the later steps. After that, I just have to work on the hay some more and put dirt on the piggy noses.

Fire at the neighbors’

Last week, we heard just a blip from a fire engine siren. It didn’t even sound like it went by on the road (or for that matter came down the main road). Later, Wayne went out and said that the fire department was down by the house on the corner.

Since we moved here, there has been a family on the corner of the main road and our road who lived in a double-wide. They are an Apostolic family, a young one, that already has three or four little kids. Since this spring, he has been building a large house on the lot with the help of friends and relatives on weekends and evenings and days he isn’t working. Almost all the Old Apostolic Lutherans in the area are in the building trades, and they really know what they’re doing. A week or so ago, the family finally moved into their new house, which is very large. We were all happy that now they would have enough room.

Luke in the orchard with our big maple tree starting to turn yellowish orange

That left the double-wide on their lot in front of the new house. My understanding was that the father-in-law, who owns a lot of the property around here, owned the mobile home and was going to move it onto his property, which is kitty corner to the side of our house. They had cleared some of the forest to make room for it, and we were wondering how close it would be to us.

Well, something happened when they were dismantling it to move it, and it started on fire. The fire department came out that day to put out the fire, and then they came back and did a controlled burn to take it the rest of the way down. Over the weekend, the guys removed all the rubble in a dumpster, and he has already landscaped the property so that you wouldn’t know the mobile home had even been there. It’s a loss for the father-in-law, but at least nothing happened to the young family’s brand new home.

Our driveway down to the road, looking fallish

And speaking of fires, we have had highs in the 50’s for most of this week so far. One of those days, Sunday, was rainy and dismal, but the last two days have been gorgeous. We already started burning fires in our wood stove in the morning, or at least by afternoon. Trees are starting to change, and there has already been snow as low as 3000 feet. Can our elevation be far behind? Mt. St. Helens, which was bare rock last time I looked at it, has a beautiful coat of thick snow this morning. It’s supposed to frost a whole month ahead of normal, which doesn’t bode well for my Brussels sprouts.

The lower driveway, looking more green but with more fallen leaves

The trees are just beginning to change here, but yesterday was a fine fall day. The wind was blowing leaves down, it was crisp and sunny. I took some pictures. The trees aren’t quite yellow yet, but we saw lots of red ones in Battle Ground this morning.

It’s been disappointing for me that it’s been so beautiful the last few days, because I’ve been sick. Wayne and I were doing errands and stopped somewhere for lunch on Saturday. As soon as I got home, I felt as if I’d eaten something that disagreed with me. Unfortunately, and also because I was beat from entertaining the night before (we had my brother and his wife and another couple over for dinner), I had told my brother we would come over for dinner. They had salmon, which was not appetizing to me, not that anything could be the way I was feeling. I had problems all night long and even more the next night after thinking I was feeling better and making the mistake of eating popcorn. Monday, I stayed home. I tried to stay in bed, but Wayne left Luke in the bedroom with me after breakfast and went down into the basement. After a while, Luke started growling and barking at me and pulling the covers off the bed. So, I had to get up and take him for a run in the orchard. But the rest of the day, which was very cold, I sat on the couch in the living room reading in front of the fire, with the door open so that Luke could run in and out. We need a dog door!

And speaking of Luke, he has just lately taken to stealing my shoes. One of the things he did that morning was pick up one of my shoes and carry it to the door. I’m beginning to think he’s doing it because he wants me to go out with him, and he has noticed that I put my shoes on before doing so. Yesterday, we found one of my shoes outside three times before I shut it into the closet. He hadn’t chewed it or anything, but the third time I found him with it, it took me five minutes to get it away from him.

I was very careful of what I ate on Monday (almost nothing) and Tuesday, and I think I am getting back to normal today. We also made the discovery that I had run out of my heartburn medicine quite some time ago and Wayne had forgotten to refill it, which probably added to the problem. At least it was the cause of the yucky tasting burping I’ve been doing lately. As a result of all this, I missed weighing in at Weight Watchers and the puppy pack walk on Monday.

No hike this last week, because the only person who has been going, Autumn, decided to go to Mt. Rainier to hike with her son. I could have gone along, but it is 3 1/2 hours one way and then I wasn’t sure I could handle the hike. Still, one day that would be a good thing to shoot for, being able to hike in some place like that. However, I don’t think I would plan to go there, hike, and come back in the same day.

Finally, on the wildlife front, I was walking in the orchard with Luke early on Friday morning and without paying attention first to what might be on the pond (I usually am), I started down the path to the pond, crunching leaves merrily underfoot. When I got halfway down, a large bird arose from the pond. I still had tree branches barring my view, so I couldn’t see the whole bird, but it had a large wingspan and gray wings. I’m guessing I surprised a Great Blue Heron.

Likewise, we haven’t had any deer spottings at our house since last spring. Last night, Wayne and I were sitting in the living room when Wayne said, “There’s a deer out there.” I got up to look, and there were actually three deer near the woods in the corner of our side yard behind the garden fence, two does and a fawn. They saw me, but they did not leave immediately. They slowly ambled up the hill, the one doe and the fawn watching me the whole time.



Last Wednesday, I was getting ready for our hike. Maja had told me she was bringing along a friend, so I was taking bags out of the back seat of the car. (We have enough grocery bags back there to get food for an army.) Then I noticed that there was about a quarter bucket of dirt in the back seat. I have no idea how that got there. So, I went around the car to get the brush out. As I returned around to the other side, my phone dinged from inside the car, and I thought I should look at the message to see if Maja was telling me that they weren’t ready yet. In any case, on the way over, I stepped wrongly on the edge of the asphalt driveway and fell flat on my face. My husband had to come out of the house and get me a chair before I could get up. By the way, the phone message was just something unimportant, like a “Yes” from Maja.

Here’s the path we walked on our Wednesday hike. It wasn’t a difficult hike, but almost all of the return was uphill.

I went on the hike anyway, even though my right foot and left hand were hurting. We went about four miles on the Bells Mountain Trail to Cedar Creek, a hike we hadn’t taken before, out in the Yacolt Burn. My foot hurt all the way, but not too badly. Then when I took Maja and Autumn back to Maja’s house, I had been driving and I had to get out of the car. I don’t think they even noticed, because they were talking to each other, but after my foot was rested a bit from driving, I could hardly walk!

I went home, and Luke was so excited to see me that he wouldn’t leave me alone. The result was that after I got my foot out of my hiking boot (no mean feat), he kept stepping on my foot. It didn’t seem to be swollen, but it had a red mark on top of it and it hurt like crazy. I ended up going back to bed, just to be able to keep it up and not have to deal with Luke.

By the next day, I was hobbling, but it was better. However, my hand, on which I had landed, hurt so much that I couldn’t do very much with it, not even work the pump for the liquid soap. I was surprised, too, to find how often I use my left hand. It was slightly swollen, too.

My foot was fine by Saturday, but my hand still hurts today, although it gets better every day. I skipped Luke’s Saturday class, however, because you do all the work with the leash in your left hand. The right hand holds the leash but doesn’t do much. Monday, there was no class, but I went over to my friend Christine’s for our mini pack walk. Three of us were there, and after the walk around her neighborhood, we sat on her back patio and had coffee and cake while the puppies romped. Well, Lola, Nancy’s little Havanese, felt more comfortable under her chair, while Duchess, Christine’s small poodle, alternated between running around in circles in the garden with Luke and getting up on a chair so she could dominate him.

Here’s Luke on Christine’s lawn, Memorial Day, 2019. You can tell this isn’t our lawn, because it actually has grass and nothing but grass.

By the way, for those who are wondering what Luke looks like these days, Christine took some really nice pictures of him, better than any of the ones we have. He is looking quite handsome these days, and is sometimes acting more grown up.

We had a return on Friday night of our poltergeists. They hadn’t visited us since the winter, but always on Friday nights. Last week, kids were shining flashlights into our living room window after dark. It could tell it wasn’t an accident while they were running around the woods with flashlights. They were definitely shining them in our window. Then, this last Friday night, Luke began barking hysterically and kept barking. At one point, I opened the door and thought I heard a dog barking. It is a sad fact that our neighbors across the road, who let their dog Eddie run around loose for months as a puppy, now have him tied up all the time, and he never stops barking. However, the sound was coming more from the other side, so I told him it was Rosie. Later, I realized it was coming from too close to the house to be Rosie, who is now restricted to her yard by an electric fence.

Luke kept barking, and then twice I heard noises that sounded like someone knocking on the side of our house. So, finally, I picked up our powerful flashlight and went out the back door. They knew I was coming this time and I heard at least one kid run up the ridge on our property and climb over the fence to the Scotts’ property. Then I stood next to the house and listened to them. There were probably at least four kids there, and they were making noises to try to get Luke to bark. Some of them were whistling, and one was doing a fake dog bark, and one was saying mean things that put my teeth on edge, the kind of thing that makes kids laugh but makes adults want to smack them. I waited until I was sure where they are, and then I hit them with the flashlight. I couldn’t actually see them, but they ran away.

This time, I called the Scotts’ house and talked to one of their mothers. It’s a whole gang of kids, and I’m not sure who most of them are, but one of them, at least, belongs to the Scotts. She said she thought her kids were home, but then she said, “A bunch of them just ran out of the woods. I’ll talk to them.” I hope this stops, because it’s starting to border on harassment. Luke barked for at least an hour that night.

I am starting to do a good cleaning of the house getting ready for my guests arriving next Tuesday. Karen is arriving from Michigan and Ray from Denver. Later that week, we’re going to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. What fun!


Glimpses of fall

After a rainy and cold week, we had beautiful weather for several days, in the high 60’s or low 70’s and sunny and in the 50’s or 40’s at night. It is supposed to start raining again in a few days, but for now we are enjoying the lovely weather. And we need the rain, so we’re not upset about that either.

Just little hints of fall color here and there

I am beginning to see very faint indications of fall. I can hear leaves falling in the forest and there are a few more on our drive. Some of the plants on our ridge have changed colors. We thought the larger one on the right of the picture might be a blueberry bush, except that I never saw any blueberries on it, and I don’t know what this one is next to the rock. The trees haven’t started to change yet, though. Our friend is coming for a visit from Houston in a few weeks, so we hope that she will see some fall color.

Yesterday I popped by our neighbor’s house. It was such a lovely day that I had to walk somewhere. I don’t like to pop into my niece’s house for fear of interrupting them, and Tuesday is a day when my sister usually sleeps most of the day because she works at night. My neighbor had invited me to come round sometime. I think she expected me to call first, but I was too shy to do so and thought I’d just go over. I think I was a little rude to do that, but she invited me in and we had a long talk. She is a widow who retired last year, just as I did. She is the neighbor who hosts the Native American religious ceremonies two times a month that I have mentioned on occasion. Her late husband was a full-blooded Native American. We talked about how we both needed to get more exercise, so soon we are going to start going for walks, maybe over at Moulton Falls.

Around the house, I haven’t done that much this week except normal housekeeping. I hung some pictures, and that’s about it. I think I am suffering from a reaction to all the work I have done in the past year to get us ready to move, the move itself, and the handling of the contracting work afterwards. I was delighted, however, to find my electronic picture frame, which has been packed away ever since I stopped having an office at my work, probably about four years. Looking at the pictures on it was fun, awakening many memories.

Finally, we started a regular Game of Thrones night with my sister, niece, and her husband. Every week we will go over to their house after the kids go to bed and watch two episodes of the show. We saw episodes one and two on Friday night after a family dinner to celebrate the fall equinox. My niece is trying to celebrate different holidays than everyone else, so she has chosen some pagan holidays that correspond fairly closely to the dates of our regular holidays. For example, they did something for a day close to Easter that has the word Oster in the holiday. My niece is an unusual girl. My husband isn’t sure he wants to continue with Game of Thrones, but he has said he will try one more time.