All over the place

Because I had guests this week, I have been on the run every day and have lots of pictures. This was a particularly fun visit because of all the places we went.

On Thursday morning, my friends Ray and Karen and I left for Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, picking up Deb in Clackamas on the way. I thought it was going to be interesting, because none of these people had ever met each other before. They just all knew me. But everyone got along very well.

On our way down to Ashland, we stopped in Albany to have lunch. We had intended to eat a Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant, but they had had a fire and were closed. So, we ate at a restaurant where we stopped last year, Brick and Mortar Cafe. While we were waiting for our table, we walked down the street so that Karen and Ray could see the reconstructed carousel.

We arrived in Ashland about 5:00 PM and checked in. We stayed at the Tudor Inn, the same place as last year, but not in the old motel part of the inn. Instead, we were in rooms across the street, which were much more expensive because they were fancier and this was during the high season. Between my room and Deb’s and next to Ray’s and Karen’s was a little sitting room that seemed like it was just for us, even though it was open to the other guests and had an exit off one end. It was nice, but if we go next year, we’ll try to get in the motel again. The opulence isn’t really worth the difference in price since our original rooms were just fine and neat and clean, with everything new.

Then we went to get our tickets at the box office, had dinner early, and wandered around town until our first play started at 8:00. I thought that because it was high season, the stores might stay open later than 6:00, but just like before, most of the stores closed at 6:00 except the Bloomsbury Bookstore (a very good bookstore).

Our first play was All’s Well That Ends Well in the Elizabethan Theater. The reason we chose to go during the summer this year was so we could attend the open-air Elizabethan Theater. And now I have to confess to a certain amount of idiocy, because although I knew we were going to an outdoor theater, I didn’t put two and two together about the forecast temperature until I walked into the theater and saw they were selling blankets. I hadn’t even worn the layers I could have worn. And, although I had told my guests way back when that it was open air, they had apparently forgotten. What made it worse was that when Ray checked the forecast before coming, it was showing hot temperatures for his whole visit, so he didn’t even bring a jacket, just a fleece vest. (His only souvenir of the trip was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival sweatshirt, which he bought first thing the next morning.)

I had only read the play a few weeks before departing and noted it wasn’t one of Shakespeare’s best. Plus, I was curious about how some of the ideas would go over with a modern audience, particularly the ending, where, no matter how jerky the man had acted throughout the play, the happy ending was his marriage to the heroine, or more accurately, his falling in love with his wife. The play was entertaining, but we weren’t sure we liked some of the artistic decisions. The costumes were very weird, sort of a cross between Elizabethan and 19th century, with some 20th century thrown in. A very odd choice was made in Helena’s costumes to dress her like an Elizabethan boy at some times (well, a stylized Elizabethan costume) and in overalls at other times. I don’t mind the idea of placing a play in another time period, but I would like them to make up their minds. I thought the costumes were more distracting than otherwise.

The audience did boo Bertram during the course of the play, and of course, he was the reluctant groom who ends up in a supposedly happy marriage with Helena at the end. I guess the audience most likely would not have booed him in Elizabethan times.

The experience was a good one, but we froze our butts off, not being smart enough to buy blankets. As always, it was better to see the play for me than to try to read it, but this play is not one that has beautiful speeches in it.

These were the turkeys in the park that let me walk up to within four feet of them before they started casually strolling away

In the morning, we strolled around Limpia Park for a while, but we didn’t realize until we bought a hiking map later in the day, just how extensive it is. We could see there was a big gate farther in, but we didn’t go that far. In part of the park, they were preparing for two events, and in another part, we saw a bunch of wild turkeys. They let me go quite near to them.

The Elizabethan Theater with the first setting for Macbeth

The next day, we had two plays to go to. One was As You Like It, which took place in the larger of the two other theaters. As You Like It has never been one of my favorite plays, because it just seems disjointed to me. In addition, I seldom very much enjoy the humor of Elizabethan times, although like other things, I often find it funnier in performance. There were also some interesting costume choices in this play as well as some annoying stylized movements at times, including at the opening of the play.

We all went to see Macbeth, which was the final play for me and Deb, the one I was most excited about seeing. This play was more traditionally staged except that they moved some scenes around for no apparent reason. I don’t have the play memorized or anything, but it was pretty obvious when they started the play with a fairly boring informational scene (a discussion of what was going on with the king) instead of the witches. I am not sure what would lead them to make such a decision to start the play that way instead of eerily, as it was meant. However, the witches stayed on the stage for most of the play, observing and adding to the eeriness, and that was a good decision. We all liked this play much better.

The North Mountain Park Nature Center has paths and benches and deer grazing on the grounds.

The next day, only Ray and Karen had a play and that was in the evening, Alice in Wonderland, so we had the day to kill. Karen decided to stay in and write postcards, etc., while Deb and Ray and I went out exploring. First, we took a very short river walk. Then we went across the road to the North Mountain Park Nature Center. Finally, we walked a couple of miles on the Bear Creek Greenway, which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, although at that point it was not in the mountains.

Recently, I heard of a new movie by Kenneth Branaugh about Shakespeare. I found out it had come out in 2018, but I couldn’t find it playing anywhere in our area, although I looked for it several times. To my delight, it was playing in Ashland. So, Saturday afternoon we all went to the movies. It was a very good movie, and I was happy to see it in a theater, because it had some nice panoramic shots.

Deb and I decided just to hang out in our rooms on Saturday night, although we went for dessert to Mix, a delicious bakery in Ashland, where we made a point to stop several times. We always split our desserts so didn’t feel too guilty about it. So, a quiet evening. Ray and Karen reported that they enjoyed their play and thought particularly that the costumes were very inventive. They also said that the few degrees warmer temperature made it much warmer in the audience, and they didn’t put their coats on until intermission.

Crater Lake

Early on Sunday morning, we got started, because our plan was to visit Crater Lake on the way home. We found out that only one road is open so far into the park, and that was the south one, which meant that we would have to backtrack on our way out rather than being able to come out farther north. The lake is simply breathtaking, so we were happy to have come even though it meant that we got home rather late. We took a picnic lunch with us. You could only drive up to the Rim Village and a bit beyond to Discovery Point to view the lake, although if we had had more time, we could have hiked farther.

We got home after 9:30 and discussed our plans for the next day, which turned out to be another long driving day. It was to Seattle, where we wanted to visit Chihuly Gardens and Glass. I have been wanting to see a Chihuly installation since I first looked at one online years ago. I have seen a couple of pieces of his in Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids but have not been in a city where a garden was installed.

We met up with my brother and his son for lunch at Chinook’s. Delicious. Then we went to the gardens.

One of the exhibits in the Chihuly gallery outside the gardens. To give perspective, this was two full-sized boats (you can only see part of the second one on the left) filled with objects resembling sea life.

The work was beautiful, but I was a little disappointed because the garden was so small, and he only used a few different shapes of items. Particularly, there was no water installation, and I think the things he does with fountains and ponds are among his most interesting work. However, the gallery, although only of a half dozen or so rooms, was very beautiful.

After we left the gardens, we wandered around Seattle Center for a bit, and had a cool drink. Then it was time to hit the road, at about the very worst time possible. I ended up in a traffic jam for about an hour on the way to Tacoma, but after Tacoma, the rest of the way was fine. I think it took about twice as long to get from Seattle to Tacoma as it did to get from Tacoma to Seattle.

On Tuesday, my guests opted for a visit to Portland. We drove to the Cascades Station of the Max train, took the train into town, and walked to Powell’s books. I bought a handful of books. Then we had lunch at Deschutes Brewery and took the train home. For once, we were home by about four, so we had a lazy evening, just going out to dinner.

Wednesday morning I took my friends to the airport. Later in the afternoon, I went over to visit my brother and sister-in-law, who are now moving in to their new home in Amboy. They moved up from Berkeley a couple days ago.

So, it was an exciting week with lots going on.

 

A visit to Crystal Springs

Here are some of the rhododendrons and other plants at Crystal Springs Garden.

My pictures this week are from my visit Friday to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland with my friend, Deb. We originally planned to go a few weeks ago, but it was raining that morning. That might have been a better plan, because this week got really hot, with record temperatures in the 90’s. That was the temperature on Friday, and many of the poor rhododendrons looked a little wilty. I expect they’re not used to those temperatures so early in the year. I am not a hat person, but I took my garden hat and was happy I did. However, the garden was beautiful although small. We spent about an hour wandering around in it. Lots of ducks were there with their ducklings, apparently not afraid of all the people. At one end of the park that was a little less trafficked, we saw a bunch of duck families, including one duck couple with 16 ducklings.

In the middle of the picture at the back is a little waterfall.

After that, we went to a terrific restaurant called Tasty n Daughters. It was a sort of brunch, Mediterranean, North Africa kind of place. They explained that they meant you to share dishes, so because Deb is a vegetarian by preference (that is, she doesn’t refuse to eat meat but tries not to), we went that way. We shared their cast iron fritatta, which had nettles, cheese, and leeks in it, delicious, but even better was the Shakshuka roasted pepper and tomato stew with baked eggs. Yum, yum! It is the kind of place that you want to return to just to try more things. I am particularly interested in the Manti, Turkish beef and lamb dumplings in a garlic yogurt sauce, or the Moroccan chicken hash.

There are lots of picturesque little bridges in the park. And another waterfall on the left and ducks off to the right.

That’s enough about food. You can tell I’m on Weight Watchers. One of the problems with the program is it forces you to think about food all the time, which was why I quit it the last time (and gained back all my weight and more). I have lost yet another pound since last week. A little bit at a time.

On the way home, I was led astray by my GPS. I have only been to Deb’s house three times. All other times, we have met somewhere else or I have taken the train into Portland. I am fairly sure I could get there without GPS, but I am hazier on the way back, which presents with less obvious turns, so I was using my GPS. I was on my way back the usual way, when it told me there was a traffic jam ahead, not surprising on a Friday at 4 PM. However, instead of just telling me that, like it usually does up here, it recalculated my route automatically and sent me farther north instead of directly west to get on the 205. I could have just ignored it, but as I said, I was hazy on the way back, and I thought it might actually save me some time. But of course, the downside was that as soon as I followed it, I had no idea where I was. And, the next thing I knew, just as it was about to turn me back west toward the freeway, it recalculated again. Well, of course, at that time of day in Portland, there are going to be traffic jams everywhere, but in hindsight the most sensible thing would have been for me to get onto the 205 as early as possible.

I started out in Clackamas, which is southeast of Portland. I ended up going north all the way to the junction of 84 and 205, which is in northeast Portland, where I ended up around 5:15 (keeping in mind that it usually takes me about an hour to go to Deb’s). Just blocks from the freeway, I got stuck in a traffic jam trying to turn left on Sandy Blvd. for 45 minutes. I had only six blocks to go to get on the freeway, but the traffic was gridlocked on my side. We had no protected left, so what would happen was that you would work your way, one car a light up to the light, and then when it turned green, have to wait until the oncoming traffic got across, many of which turned in front of you to take up the remaining space on the street you wanted to turn onto. You would then have to wait to see if a space opened up. When I finally got one car back from the intersection, the woman in front of me sat there through three lights without moving instead of squeezing herself into what little space she had just so that our line could move. When she finally went, I went, too, and sat blocking traffic for a short while. That was not nice of me, but our line of traffic wasn’t moving at all. The others were moving a bit more, and it just wasn’t right. In fact, cars were driving past us straight across the intersection, turning around, and coming back the other way so that they could make a right, and it was those cars that were taking up what little space was left in the lane ahead, preventing the left turners from going anywhere.

I got home around 6:30. So much for my GPS.

The rest of the week was fairly normal, except that those of us who are in the doggy Relationship Class all got an email on Saturday saying that we are also required to go on the pack walks. This was a surprise to me, as Luke and I have been going to the Relationship Class for over a month now, and no one said anything to us about it. We tried to go on the Monday night pack walk months back when our trainer sent us to the class and we got kicked out of it. It was a 2.6-mile walk, after dark (which it would not be now), but it wasn’t the distance that made it difficult so much as the pace. They all walked much faster than I could. On the way back, I just told them to go without me, but Ash, one of the nice trainers, stayed back with me.

A lake with a bridge over it

So, I’m not going on that pack walk, but we have been to the Saturday one twice. It is a much closer distance, just around the corner and up the block to a school playground, but they still walk very fast. The owner of the dog training place said we could drive to the school, where they do further practice with the dogs, but the problem with Saturdays is that Wayne and I take my great niece to taekwondo. To do both, Wayne has to drop her off, drop me and Luke off at class, pick Mischa up, take Mischa home, and then come and get me and Luke after the pack walk. Up until we got the email, he’d been picking me up after Mischa’s class and then we all went home together. In any case, if I wanted to do the pack walk, I would not be able to get a ride to the school because Wayne would be taking Mischa home. I’d have to walk with the fast walkers.

So, I stopped the owner after class on Monday night and told her we had to rearrange our Saturday schedule to do the pack walk and I wouldn’t be able to get a ride to the school, so I asked her could I walk at my own pace. She didn’t really answer the question. Instead, she said that I could skip the pack walk, because I was a dedicated owner. She said she wanted the Relationship Class people to be doing more with their dogs than just coming to class once a week, and doing the pack walk would get them more involved. She said to come when I could. However, I feel as if I should go, because one other dog owners was very upset about the requirement to do the pack walk because of her age, and she will notice if I never show up. This is the problem with sending out an email like that and then making exceptions. The owner could have strongly encouraged people to do the pack walk rather than telling them they had to. She said, in fact, that several people had quit the class because of the requirement. Perhaps, though, that lady who was upset will give me a ride occasionally, from class to the pack walk, because she has decided to drive over.

The rest of the week was fairly normal. We went hiking but just to Lewisville Park because Maja had other things to do that day. She brought along a young friend. On Thursday, I began painting the coral in my starfish picture, and it seems to be coming out very nice. Saturday and Monday were dog-training days, and Luke seems to be getting over his teenage years and behaving better in class. In fact, the misbehavior of one of his puppy pals during the Monday class made me feel a lot better about Luke, who did everything fairly well, only breaking his sit or down a couple of times when several other dogs did, too. That other puppy was rolling on his back all over the place and broke several times every exercise. (If the Russian trainer was still there, he would have gotten kicked out for sure!) Luke is also behaving better at home. Now most nights he sits patiently on place while we eat dinner, because he knows if he is good, he will get some of our leftover food. If we have something he shouldn’t eat, I give him a cookie instead. He seems to understand this and is very good.

Our schedule has changed because Luke’s puppy play days have changed from Monday and Wednesday to Tuesday and Thursday. This means that I haven’t been going to the Y for water aerobics, which was what I sometimes did on Tuesday mornings. I could go on another morning, but it’s now hard to find a morning that I’m not doing something, except Friday, and I want to keep Fridays fairly free. It’s nice to sleep in occasionally.

On Tuesdays and Thursday now we drop Luke off at puppy play and then do our grocery shopping and errands. If we get them done, we go to the library and read until it’s time to pick him up. We are doing this to try to avoid making two trips to town in a day if we can. We also had to move our mini pack walk with friends from puppy class from Thursdays to Mondays, which means that Luke has to go with me to Weight Watchers and wait in the car, then we arrive 45 minutes early to the park for the pack walk. This week, during that time, we practiced sits, downs, and moving downs. For the moving down, I have to throw his leash on the ground and say “Down!”, at which point he is expected to lie down. I am supposed to keep walking while he does this and then call him to heel beside me. What actually happens is that I throw my leash on the ground and Luke does nothing until I stop and step on it. Then he will slowly, very slowly, very reluctantly, go down and we can complete the exercise. Not exactly a moving down, more like a stopping down.

Getting in the spirit

I got my weekdays mixed up Wednesday morning and posted my Thursday book blog review instead of this blog, which is what I usually post. So, this week this post goes out on Thursday.

This week we have had beautiful but cold weather, sunny skies every day but cold, cold, cold. If it had been raining, we undoubtedly would have snow. Mt. St. Helens is looking great, because with the recent rains, it got back its covering of snow. It is a perfect week to go out and finish up my garden, but instead I have been working on Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and getting packages ready for the mail. These days, since we live close to much of our family, we only ship out two packages, but I still try to get them into the mail early. Since the post office was closed yesterday because of President Bush’s funeral, I made it my goal to get my packages ready to go into the mail this morning. We have one more nice day before it clouds up, so I hope to do my garden tomorrow.

On Tuesday, we went out to buy a Christmas tree. This year, for the first time since we moved here, we were planning to buy it from a lot. Last year, my niece’s husband was unwell so couldn’t help us and we went with my sister. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been around when they cut the tree the first year we were here, so I didn’t realize how much work it was. Because we are both geezers, my sister had to cut the tree, and I vowed never to have that happen again. We would have accepted an invitation from my niece and her husband to go get a tree with them, but none was forthcoming, so we went out looking for a lot.

Our scrawny tree next to a nice warm fire

We had been hearing on the news that Christmas trees are scarce this year, but it was hard to believe they would be hard to find here. Heck, there are Christmas trees everywhere. Of course, lots of people around here cut their own trees, go to a U Cut, or even cut them in the Gifford Pinchot Forest, but still, last year and the year before, there were several tree lots on the way down state highway 503 to Vancouver. This year there were none, and we didn’t know where else in Vancouver to go. I didn’t want to go to Home Depot, because my theory was that they were more likely to have purchased their trees far away and they might not be fresh. We ended up buying one in a tiny lot in Battle Ground, the only one we could find besides those in the grocery and hardware stores. It is tall, about nine feet, but it is kind of pathetic looking compared to our previous trees. It’s branches are far apart, and it looks kind of skimpy for a Noble fir, and it’s lop-sided. Although it was much cheaper than any tree we could have bought in Austin (and in fact, we never bought a tree that big in Austin), it cost about twice as much as any tree we have bought since we moved here. I have tons of ornaments, so it will be interesting to see if I can get them all on the tree. Once I finish spreading alpaca poo and more dirt on my garden tomorrow, I’ll start decorating.

Last Saturday, my sister and I went to a Christmas concert in Portland. Our friend was singing in the Portland Choir and Orchestra concert. Last year, I thought the program was a little dull except for the Bells of the Cascades, whose director is a delight to watch, full of energy and practically levitating off the podium. This year, although the choir sang more traditional songs, the arrangements were really interesting, and some of the songs were quite beautiful. And the Bells of the Cascades were there again.

Luke has not only graduated from puppy class, he has been asked to join both puppy and adult class for the last few classes of the year. We went last night for the first time. I thought he could handle two classes, but wasn’t sure how well he could handle two in a row. However, he did really well, almost better than the adult dogs, just because he has been taking class for so long. We have quite the little puppy pack going now, with three other dog owners joining me and Luke once a week for a pack walk.

Last week, my great niece Mischa came with us to puppy class. She enjoyed it, so if she thinks she can bear getting up that early, she might go again while we are still in puppy class.

We no longer need to take a leash with us when we take Lukey out, as long as we have cheese in our pockets! In fact, even the promise of cheese gets him back in the house when we have gone out for short runs. I only take a leash if I think we may be walking on the road, as he tends to go toward traffic.

In art class, I am still working on my sky, whereas my sister has almost finished her picture of an owl. Actually, she has almost finished two pictures. Hmm. Well, it is not a race, as my instructor keeps telling her. I guess I’m going to have to get used to taking three or four months each to do my paintings, while she finishes one a month. It is a secret from my husband (who does not read this blog) that a woman in my class who does beautiful pictures of dogs has agreed to do one of Luke for me to give Wayne as a gift. It doesn’t look like it will be done for Christmas, but it will make a good birthday gift. Tonight, we are both doing makeups, so we will be in class from 4:15 until 8:30!

 

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!

A very long day’s hike

The Warrior Rock Lighthouse isn’t very impressive, but it makes a good hiking destination.

Last week, I didn’t think we were going to go anywhere special for our hike, but it was a beautiful day, so when Maja suggested Sauvie Island, I agreed. Although much of the wildlife area on the island is closed at this time of year because of migrating birds, the hike to Warrior Rock Lighthouse is open. This trail is longer than any of the hikes we’ve taken before at six to seven miles (depending upon the guidebook), but it is pretty much level, so I wasn’t afraid of being able to do it. However, by the time we got back to the car, I was beat.

We were discussing where to go to lunch when we looked at the time. It was almost four o’clock! We had been gone for six hours! It took us probably an hour and a half to get there, and we took our time, but it was much later than we’d ever been out before. By the time we got home, it was about 5:30, and I was so hungry that I made Wayne take me out to eat right away. It wasn’t until we were almost at the restaurant when I realized that in ten minutes Lukey’s first puppy class with his new classmates was going to start. We were 20 minutes away and didn’t have Luke with us, so he missed class for the first time.

Not much else interesting happened last week. Our weather was very cold for a few days, so we started burning fires in the stove, but looking forward, it is supposed to be warmer than usual the next few days. For us, I think that means just high 60’s and low 70’s, but it is supposed to be sunny, probably our last sunny, mild days before the rainy winter. It will be a perfect day to hike today, but I don’t have any hiking buddies available, so I have talked Wayne into going for a walk in the park with Lukey after puppy play and train. We’ll see how that goes. The only other walk in the park we took was early in the morning before puppy class one time, and no one else was there.

In art class I started painting my peonies in my still life. They are the last big element of my painting that was unpainted. After I do my peonies, I suppose we will do little improvements for weeks as usual. This drives me crazy, because I don’t know when I am done, but it improves the painting a great deal. My sister wasn’t in art class this week, because she had to work.

My friend Deb and I decided to go to the Lincoln City Kite Festival this Sunday. We couldn’t go on Saturday because of puppy class, which was unfortunate, because Sunday it was raining all day. Only two kites were up while we were there, and it certainly wasn’t the festival that I expected from seeing it on TV. Still, we had a nice day. We ate at a seafood restaurant and drove down the coast a bit, looking at some of the seaside rock formations. Then we drove home.

Other than that, my friends and sister, who are planning to go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next summer with me, picked our dates and performances so that I will know what tickets to buy when sales open up to my level of membership.

A new blog and other news

During our hike last week I tossed around an idea with Shawn that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I originally had this idea for a book, but it occurred to me that a blog would work just fine. So, after our hike in the lovely Salmon-Morgan Rivers Natural Area, I wrote up the first entry for a new blog, The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking. My idea came from my experience hiking trails that are rated by experienced hikers, especially their rating systems. My blog is designed for people who are not fit and will tell them all they need to know to decide whether the hike is for them. Each time I go on a new hike or do a new portion of an old hike, I’ll post an extensive review.

And that reminds me that I did two hikes this week, one at Salmon-Morgan, which is a beautiful old-growth forest, and the other on the promenade above Oregon City. I did that with my friend from Portland, Deb, and if you want to read about it, you know where to go. More about that day later.

One thing that happened last week before I even wrote last Wednesday’s blog was that I was selected to be one of four new moderators for the Classics Club blog. A few weeks ago they asked for people to apply, and I did so on the spur of the moment. I have the time, and it should be fun. We new moderators have been discussing how we will break up the work and what new ideas we have. The official announcement is coming out Friday, and we begin Monday.

That is probably not a great week for me to begin, because my brother is coming from Madison, Wisconsin, for a visit beginning next Wednesday. My day to work on the blog will be Friday, but maybe I can sneak in the first week on a day that one of the other moderators isn’t going to be on the blog and start my work early. If not, I get up early and can probably do some work over the weekend.

In art class, I got a lot done because I did a makeup with Oksana and my regular class with Sarah, so I was in art class for four hours. I finished the first coat of my background for my painting and painted a table in the foreground. It is nice being back in Sarah’s class. I understand that my sister is next on the waiting list, but she is still undecided about whether she wants to start again.

On Sunday, I took the train into Clackamas and met my friend Deb. We took her car to Oregon City, where we first explored the McLoughlin Promenade. It was a nice hike above the city, but then we went down some old iron stairs to the road below, where the path was right next to the busy Highway 99. You can see more about this hike on my new blog.

After lunch, we went to the Clackamas Community College for a performance of Sense and Sensibility. Yes, it was the same adaptation that we saw in Ashland early this year, and we were curious to see what it would be like. The production was much lower budget, but in some ways it was more appropriate as an Austen adaptation. Still, it was modernized, and there were some places where for humor they went places that were really inappropriate for the 19th century. The actresses that played the two main parts were much closer to the right ages than the actresses in Ashland, but we thought that Elinor would never have chosen the actor that played Edward Ferrars. Still, we enjoyed ourselves and found the production less shocking than the Ashland one.

This week I followed my new program of attending tai chi and deep water exercise. I’m trying to get my husband to try the arthritis water class. I asked some women in my deep water class about it, and one of them said that she had hardly been able to move before taking it a few years ago. I’m hoping that will encourage him to go, because his walking is getting more and more unsteady. He has been doing yard work around the house but otherwise not much else, and the yard work comes in spurts.

My basket of raspberries next to my gardening hat

Last night, I went over in the evening to pick raspberries at my niece’s house. She said that they already have picked enough for their use for the entire year. She cans and freezes, so she can accommodate more than I can. I think I might make a pie.

Today we are not doing our regular hike because of a dentist appointment, and so I must go brush my teeth.

 

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.