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.

 

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Peas, mushy and otherwise

This morning I went out to water my garden and saw that my peas are coming up. Yippee! However, I think I made a mistake with the peas as well as with the large vegetables. The packet said to plant them in a row and then thin the plants to two inches. Instructions on the internet said to plant them at two inches apart. I had a bunch of peas in the packet and not much space, so I went ahead and followed the instructions on the packet, just made a little trough at a half inch deep and rolled them all in. I thought that instead of throwing out the thinned plants, I could give them to my niece and sister to plant in their much larger garden. (Theirs takes up probably close to an acre.)

Those little green things behind the onions are my pea sprouts.

However, my sister tells me peas can’t be easily transplanted. I think I would have done better to plant them spaced two inches apart and keep the rest of the peas in their packet for next year. I’m doing this sort of blind, I guess. I had gardens years ago in Michigan, but all I ever planted were tomatoes and beans from seed. One year I tried zucchini and eggplant but my zuccini rolled right over my eggplant. In any case, I had lots of yummy beans and tomatoes out of that garden, but it wasn’t diverse or hard to take care of.

Our last day of nice weather was Thursday last week, a day that got very hot. I had been inside and was not aware of how hot it was, so I suggested to my husband that we put together the bench kit that he bought to go next to the pond. We loaded the parts and tools into the car, and I drove down to the orchard and backed in there next to the pond while my husband strung electrical cord down to the pond. However, once there, I realized just how hot it was. It was almost 90! We were working in an area with no shade, and once we carted all the pieces down to the pond and I helped him get started, I realized I was going to have to go back into the house. He said he could do the rest himself, but he must have been too hot, too, because he didn’t finish. Everything is still down there partially put together. But after several days of cold, dark weather with rain expected but not much materializing, we are back today to cool and sunny days, so I expect he’ll finish putting the bench together soon, and I can help him.

Another of his projects didn’t go so well, though. He took down all the things on one side of the garage, and a week or so ago, he put up aluminum shelves with a wooden top, waist high to be a work table. His intention is to hang pegboard along the wall for his tools and to hang a light. It all looked very nice.

The last few days he’s been working on the light, which perhaps he should have done first. I say this because yesterday I heard a terrific crash out there and went out to see what had happened. He had been using his new shelving to stand on the edge and work on the light. He moved his foot over from the corner, and the aluminum couldn’t support his weight. He crashed through, ruining one of his shelving units. Luckily, he wasn’t injured. He got hurt much worse by the pond by getting into some stinging nettle. He didn’t say anything about it at the time, and I was gone that evening, so he told me about it when I got back. He had tried to treat it with antibiotics instead of washing it off and smearing it with a paste made from baking soda and water. I did that and it helped, but it would have helped a lot more if he’d told me about it right after he did it.

Last week, my hike with my neighbor was a comedy of errors. I don’t know what I was thinking. I had thought before we left that if we decided to return to Battle Ground Lake and hike the outer trail, I would remind Maja that she bought an annual pass to the park last time we went. We did decide to go there, but I forgot about the pass, so we ended up having to pay for a day pass. That was $10 when the annual pass was $30, ridiculous! To compare, the pass for the National Wildlife Refuge that we went to the week before was $3.

To make it worse, once out of our neighborhood, I started to drive the wrong way and had to turn around. Then, when we got to the park, I drove right past it and had to turn around again! When I passed it, we discussed going to Lewis River Park again, but we were right next to Battle Ground Lake, so we didn’t. My head must have been in the clouds that day.

The All Trails app said the outer trail loop was about three miles, but my Fitbit said it was 1.7 miles, one of our shortest hikes but more than half of which was uphill. I think the longer distance must be in hiking both the inner and outer loop, but we could see no explanation of that anywhere on the trails app, and by the time we finished with the outer loop, we were ready to stop. We have started going to lunch afterwards, and that makes our expedition take up a good portion of the day. My neighbor said she had gotten so that she didn’t do anything after she got home. That’s about right for me, too.

Our friend Ray is coming for a visit in June from Denver and we talked a little more about what we were going to do during his trip. We ended up making some hotel reservations on the beach for a couple of days, and we will do day trips from there. I don’t know if my husband will decide to come or not. Right now, he seems mildly interested in the idea of taking the Oregon Coast Pacific Railway, which is one of the things we want to do. But who knows what he’ll decide to do when the time comes. If I knew for sure he was going to cop out, I might think about inviting my sister to come along. The problem is knowing what he’ll decide to do. Oh well, Ray and I have done plenty of travelling by ourselves over the years. We also talked about doing the Tillamook cheese factory tour. If it was their ice cream factory, my husband would be more likely to come.

In art class, I have painted all of the background to my picture and the sea, and the foliage in the foreground. I spent most of this week’s class doing waves. All that is left is to paint the trees in the foreground and perhaps do some more touches to the foliage. A woman and her daughter in the class told me they don’t want me to paint the trees, because they like my picture the way it is. Unfortunately, there are some aspects to the picture that aren’t quite right that the teacher and I didn’t worry about because the trees were going to block them out. In particular, the sea is slanting in just a little bit, so that it looks like a tidal wave is about to wash away the town of Cannon Beach. That won’t be as obvious when the tree is in the way.

Finally, on Friday during the cold and gloomy weather, I took the train into Portland to attend the Oregon Potters Association Ceramic Show for the second year in a row. We decided to go on Friday because we thought it might not be as crowded, but we were wrong. It was even more crowded than it was last year. I like looking at the pottery, but once too many people get in one place, I start to feel uncomfortable. We saw all the pottery, and I bought a few pieces for gifts, but we didn’t stay long, only about an hour and a half.

Then we went to eat at the food carts, particularly to the Frying Scotsman to try their fish and chips, or in my case, fish and mushy peas. Very good. My husband is always in search of good fish and chips, so I will have to try to get him down there. He will not like, however, the fact that there is no place to sit to eat. In Austin, food carts are very popular as well, but almost all of them have a group of picnic tables to sit at. The ones in downtown Portland do not. I think that most people take their food back to their offices, but the food carts are popular with tourists, too. We found a low wall to sit on a block or so away. I saw lots of people buying food but not many people standing around eating it, so I’m not sure what they do.

It was a shorter than usual day. After lunch, we bopped around town a little bit, saw some things in Chinatown. But then I took the train back and got home around three. Usually after these expeditions I don’t get home until about six. The sky looked very foreboding as I was leaving, but it didn’t rain.

 

 

The play’s the thing

After a week of cancellations, there was a big one on Friday. As I reported last week, first my husband said he wanted to go to Portland on Saturday, then he wanted to go to Harbor Freight instead. Then he wanted to go to Portland on Sunday, then he didn’t. Then he wanted to go to the movies on Tuesday, then he didn’t. Well, this was the pattern all week until we got to Friday.

Unfortunately, Friday was the day we planned to leave for Ashland, Oregon, to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. My friend Deb and I have had tickets since January or February. I was initially surprised when my husband said he would go with us and visit his friend from Air Force days in Medford while we went to the plays. I should have known something was up on Thursday because he was mopey all day and at one point he asked me if we had already paid for the tickets. (Of course I had, and they were very expensive.) But I did not pay attention.

So, I got up on Friday and started to get ready to go, and he told me he wasn’t coming. I had some choice thoughts about that, as you can imagine, but I just packed up and left. In fact, I was able to leave early and tell my niece she didn’t need to worry about feeding Hillary. We didn’t get off to a good start. There was my husband’s cancellation and the rainy, dreary morning, and then we got a half hour away from Deb’s house when I realized my purse was sitting in her living room, so we had to go back. Thank goodness I realized then, though, rather than later, and after that things went fine.

We stopped for lunch on the way down and ate at a place called Addy’s Diner in Springfield. I was trying to behave myself for Weight Watchers and found we had picked a place where that was almost impossible. At one point we saw a guy receive a pancake that was served on a platter-sized plate, yet was too big to fit it without being folded in half. My guess is that the pancake was a good two feet in diameter! Deb said I should take a picture of the pancake, but I didn’t have the nerve to walk over and take a picture of his food.

We passed a huge accident on the north side of the freeway just outside Grant’s Pass. First, we saw the wreck. Then we both remembered, after the initial backup, a gap. But then we suddenly saw cars everywhere, parked all over the exits, parking up the freeway, and people getting out and walking around. The cars stretched back for miles and miles. We learned later that the traffic was stuck there for at least four hours.

We arrived in Ashland at about 4 PM and checked into our motel. It was the Bard’s Inn, an old-fashioned roadside motel that has been remodeled and is comfortable, clean, and quiet. Not fancy at all, but it was just fine for us. The Bard’s Inn has other, fancier accommodations, and we looked at a lot of B&B’s when we were trying to decide where to stay, but many of them were already booked, and most were expensive. Because we thought my husband would have the car, we were looking for something right near town, and this place was just a few blocks from the theaters.

The first thing we did was go to the box office to pick up our tickets. We had bought tickets for two plays on Saturday, Sense and Sensibility in the afternoon and Henry V at night. Deb suggested we see if there were any tickets left for Othello that night. Now, if you read my review of Othello, you’ll know it isn’t one of my favorite plays, because I don’t like the main character. However, we asked, and they had the last two seats together for $34 apiece (cheap), so we bought them.

The Elizabethan Theater on the hill behind Lithia Park

Then we had time to look around town and have something to eat. Ashland is a small town tucked into the side of foothills, with a mountain nearby. It isn’t super picturesque, but it is a nice town. It has a lovely park right next to the river downtown, with the Elizabethan theater on a hill behind it. The park offers lots of woodland walks, and is beautifully landscaped. It was a little rainy on Friday afternoon and evening, but most of the time we had perfect weather.

The pastry case at Mix. A little problematic for someone on a diet

We ate dinner at a nice restaurant called Greenleaf and then made our greatest culinary discovery of the trip—Mix, a bake and coffee shop. We split a lemon meringue tart, and it was delicious! We returned there several times during the course of the trip, buying bread, coffee, lunch, and delicious pastries.

In the evening we went to Othello. The town has three theaters devoted to the Shakespeare Festival, during which they perform all kinds of plays and musicals. Othello was in the middle-sized theater, which seats about 600 people. The play was performed in modern dress with most of the men in military uniforms, but it was otherwise done fairly traditionally. However, doing it in modern times provided some opportunities to use media. For example, instead of having servants deliver messages, the characters got calls on their cell phones, which raised a laugh.

I have to tell you, Othello was terrific! It was really dramatic at times, funnier than I thought it was when reading it, just a revelation. I was really glad I went. I have often had it demonstrated to me that theater so much depends on who is doing it and how they do it. I have had occasion to see the same play be, when done by one company, depressing, and by another company, hilarious, for example.

The Elizabethan Theater from the inside during our tour. That’s our guide’s hand on the left. The Elizabethan theater, which is an open-air reconstruction of a theater in England, is not open until June and only for evening performances.

In the morning we went on the backstage tour, which was very interesting. I heartily recommend it. Our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He took us all through all three of the theaters, backstage and underneath, talked about the history of the festival, told us funny stories. It was a great tour. I told Deb that if I lived within an hour of Ashland, I’d be volunteering to work there.

Ashland on the way to downtown from our motel. Of course, it would have been nice if I’d found a shot without so many streetlights in it. I was trying to get the mountain, which is just barely visible in the middle of the picture. That hump with the clouds over it.

The play I was looking forward to the most was Sense and Sensibility, being a major Jane Austen fan. I had very mixed feelings about it, though. It was performed in the middle-sized theater again. The set and costumes were of the period, but they did the play as a farce! Now, if you like Austen, like I do, because she is funny while being very delicate, as reflects her culture, this is not the play for you. I think  that some viewers were shocked by it. I had to admit it made very good theater, though. The audience shouted when it was over. But was it Jane Austen? It was not. They just used her story. Still, I had a good time, so the whole issue was very complicated for me.

Our last play was Henry V, performed in the smaller theater, which was configured in a horseshoe. This theater seats 300 people. It was very intimate, and they tried a lot of symbolism in the performance, not all of which worked. For example, the play started with players turning this huge wall around and around for quite some time. It must have symbolized something, but we didn’t know what. The only scenery for this play was that wall and a bunch of boxes. For the fighting, since Henry V is mostly about a war with France, they had red undershirts that they flapped vigorously or wrapped around themselves to signify wounds. Hmm. The acting seemed a little less practiced than in the other plays, and Henry was uneven. Of course, he has all the best speeches. Still, we enjoyed the play very much, but we both decided that Othello was our favorite. In fact, after the first play, we were already talking about when we would come back and saying that we would like to see a play in the Elizabethan Theater.

After breakfast in the morning, we skipped down to Mix to buy bread to take home with us, and that bread was yummy. If you ever get to Ashland, do not miss going to Mix!

The carousel in Albany

On the way home, just as a topper to our great weekend, we stopped for lunch in Albany, Oregon. The lunch was fine, but on the way back out of town, we happened to notice a building with the word “Carousel” on it. That made us both remember that we had seen an article and program about a historic carousel that had been thought lost but had been discovered in pieces stored away. The town had raised money to restore it, and this was it! Needless to say, we had to stop and look at the carousel. I’m sorry I didn’t get good enough pictures to show you that the animals are very imaginative. Instead of just being colorfully painted, they have crazy touches. One horse has a mermaid tail, making it a seahorse. Another animal might have a monkey crawling on its neck or fish on its side. It is all beautifully done and restored.

So, that was the highlight of my week, and I’m champing at the bit to go back. We are already planning a trip back next June, and my friend from Denver said he would like to go with us. My sister has also expressed an interest and my husband says he’d like to go to the Elizabethan theater (I’ll believe that when I see it), so if we all go, we may have to caravan next year!

In other news, my neighbor and I found a beautiful trail last week. It’s in Whipple Creek Park, which is right jammed up next to Vancouver. It is very close to where I go for my art class. We didn’t expect much from it, but in fact found ourselves in a lovely oak forest. The trail had ups and downs and was mostly in very good condition. It is a park used by horses, and although we did not see any horses, we saw lots of things to walk around, if you get my drift, and lots of hoof prints. I got very tired in the 3.1 miles, because of all the ups and downs, but I’ll improve.

P. S. After I published this post the first time, Deb sent me the attached link to an article about the carousel with much better pictures than the one I posted.

 

 

 

A week of sightseeing

I spent this week entertaining my guest from Houston and boy, am I tired! Yesterday, we dropped her at the airport at 6:15 AM, and after doing a few chores around the house, I lay down and fell asleep for four hours.

My friends on one of the many bridges across the Williamette River in Portland. The bridge we were standing on is a new one that is just for walking, biking, and mass transit.

The first day of our visit was cold and rainy, and we again took the North Clark County Scenic Drive. Of course, it began raining when we got to the waterfalls, so we ended up skipping the one that we so far have always skipped for one reason or another. We were happy to return early for a pot of tea and a seat before the wood stove.

On Friday, we had a few rain gusts, but it eventually became sunny. We met my Portland friend in Portland for a visit to the Pompeii exhibit at OMSI. After we saw the exhibit, we walked around downtown Portland and of course visited Powell’s books. By the time we got there, I was just ready to sit in the coffee room, but I did buy a book by John McPhee about Alaska called Coming into the Country.

Cannon Beach, with its famous monolith

Saturday we went to the beach. We drove out to Astoria, went up to the tower above the city, and then drove down the coast as far as Cannon Beach. We got to see what each of the small beach communities was like. I confess that I still prefer Gearhart, where we were this summer, because it is quiet. The beach at Cannon Beach is very nice, though. Seaside is crowded and full of arcades for the children.

At a viewpoint on the way up to the mountain. It was a gorgeous day.

My husband went along with us only on our Sunday expedition, back to Mt. St. Helens. He only went because I asked him to, as I was already very tired and wanted him to drive. As usual, he was not much help when it comes to entertaining visitors. It was a beautiful day, so we got some nicer pictures of the mountains and had the opportunity to listen to an interesting presentation by a ranger.

Monday started out with a doctor’s appointment, but then my friend and I continued out along the Gorge. Normally, I would want to take a visitor to the old highway between Vista House and the falls, including Multnomah Falls, but all of these sights are closed because of the Eagle Creek fire. So, instead, I decided that it might be a good time to investigate the Maryhill Museum of Art, which is way down the Gorge. My original plan was to drive there on the north side of the Gorge, on highway 14, and back on the freeway on the south side of the Gorge, but our GPS kept trying to force us to go to the freeway, and so we had no idea how long it would take us to drive out on highway 14. Finally, we decided to cross over at Bridge of the Gods, because who could resist driving across that bridge? It is really spectacular, an old, narrow bridge that people can both drive and walk across.

Maryhill Museum of Art

Maryhill museum is small but packed with interesting exhibits. It was originally the house of railroader and highway advocate, Sam Hill, who was trying to establish an agricultural community out there. But he bought property just a little too far out on the dry side of the mountains, and the community failed before he finished building his house. Eventually, he decided to make a museum out of it and got contributions from his friends in European royalty.

The museum has rooms with Russian icons, Grecian urns, gilt furniture and other artifacts donated by the Queen of Bohemia, chess sets, an entire room of Rodin sculptures, and what interested my friend most, the Théâtre de la Mode, which is a display of 24-inch wire mannequins dressed in beautiful gowns that the Parisian designers used after World War II to present their creations to women in the United States. The collection was believed lost, but the mannequins were salvaged from a store basement in San Francisco and their elaborate settings restored. It’s a very interesting little museum and well worth the visit, even though the trip is long and there is nothing else out there except a winery.

My friend left early yesterday morning, and now I am just trying to get back to normal. We had a beautiful week, but yesterday it started raining again. Art class today!

 

Visitors and Mt. St. Helens

Our visit with my husband’s brother and his wife passed off nicely. They only stayed one night and were not interested in more driving, as they had driven down highway 97 to the Gorge and come down the Gorge and back up here. We found that an odd route, considering there were forest fires on both sides of the Gorge, past which they had to drive. They said they didn’t see any fire, just smoke. We showed them the house, did a lot of talking, found a restaurant to take them to dinner, and all had a sauna, and that was about it. When they left, they were planning to go back along the Gorge to Hood River, which would put them even closer to the fire in Oregon.

Last we heard, the fire on the Washington side was well contained, but they were saying that the Eagle Creek fire may never be fully contained because of the rugged terrain. However, starting Sunday, it is supposed to rain here for three or four days in a row, so maybe that will put both fires out. It is supposed to be the first substantial rain we have had all summer.

Our guide in his favorite place in the park

On Saturday, we had an outing with my friend from Portland to Mt. St. Helens. Her neighbor works as a part-time ranger there a couple weekends a month, and she was able to arrange a personal tour with him. He was quite a garrulous guy, but he had lots of interesting stories to tell about the eruption and about the park in general. He himself had a close call. He was at Spirit Lake helping remove some equipment from a boy scout camp, and he and the other people with him had decided to spend the night to finish the job even though the governor was not allowing anyone to stay overnight in the area. But a law enforcement officer came by and asked them to leave. The next morning was the eruption, and they would have been killed if they hadn’t gone home as requested.

Mt. St. Helens on a misty day, but it cleared up just for our visit. The eruption busted through the side of the mountain, removing the top and making that huge crater.

I have to admit that Mt. St. Helens wouldn’t have been my first choice of a place to visit, but it was fascinating. It was amazing to think that it only took three minutes for all the debris and gas from the eruption to go miles across the valley and up the other side, to where I was standing when I took the picture above. The before and after pictures are devastating, and the movies in the visitor center were informative and moving. This was a really interesting visit, and I recommend it to anyone who is in the area.

We almost cancelled our expedition because of smoke from the fires, but it cleared up the day before. However, the day we went it was misty. But the mist cleared for our visit, and it started raining just as we were leaving. Because of the fires, there were not many people at the monument that day.

At home, I have spent the last two days listing teapots on my Etsy store. The whole Etsy experience has been a lesson learned. I started out with some harlequin dolls from a collection I made in the 1980’s. I had offered the dolls to the little girls, but they find them creepy and always put them out in the hall when they sleep in the kids’ guest room. So, a few months ago, I looked at Etsy to see what it would take to list them.

I was just investigating opening a store, and before I knew it, I was actually opening one. They don’t really have a primer that tells you all the steps ahead of time, which was what I was looking for. I ran into trouble when it got to the shipping part. I could have just saved my listings and investigated the shipping later, but instead (don’t ever do this yourself), I guessed about the shipping. The program says “Let us estimate your shipping costs,” and I thought (duh!) that when it asked for the weight of the item, it meant the item itself, not the item with shipping materials. I stupidly thought they had a way of estimating the weight from the size of the box and the weight of the item. Of course, I had no boxes and I didn’t have the dolls packed, so I just weighed the dolls! Boy, was that dumb. I figured if I was off, I would only have to add a few dollars.

The error came out when I sold my first item, last week. It was my best doll, and I had it under-priced to begin with, I think (although I couldn’t find any as nice to compare it with). I packed it up in the only box I could find (the one containing my Indonesian puppets, whose bases I can’t find yet), printed the postage label, and took it to the post office. There I found that I owed $8 more on the postage. So, I made hardly any money on that doll. I also have a problem that to get boxes the correct size to ship the dolls, I have to order 25 of them! I only have a few more dolls to ship, so I hope that my husband will be able to make boxes for me out of other boxes. Oh, for the box store I used to go to in Austin, where you could get one of any size of box.

I have always planned to sell my teapot collection that I put together in the 1990’s, and that sale got me going again. So, the past few days, I got the right-sized box from Walmart and have been weighing each teapot with the packing materials on them, adding the weight of the box, unwrapping them and taking their pictures, and listing them. Some of the teapots are unusual enough that I wasn’t able to find comparisons, so I hope I have them priced right.

It has started to turn cooler here. The last two days have been cool and sunny, and finally the smoke has cleared out completely. Right now it is only 46 degrees out, and the high today will be 62. It will get warmer again next week, but I think fall is coming!

Oh dear. My niece just invited us a costume party for my great-nephew’s fourth birthday just before Halloween. I’m going to have to do some thinking. I haven’t dressed up for Halloween in about 20 years!

Getting back to normal

We are back to our normal life this week after entertaining like mad last week. We had my middle brother (MB) and his wife here for Wednesday, then they moved over to my niece’s house so that my little brother (LB) and his family could stay at our house. Then MB and wife came back for the next night, after LB went home to Seattle. The house was noisy and full of people, but it was fun. We had nine people to dinner on Wednesday night and fifteen people to dinner on Thursday. When you consider that it’s usually just the two of us, that’s a lot of activity.

We are noisy when we get together. MB is quite the raconteur, and LB’s family of five is just plain outgoing (sort of a family trait—most of us are super extroverts, and then there’s me, the introvert). But LB has quite the knack of just coming in and making himself at home. When he and his family arrived, he came out on the deck and helped me grill the steaks (when he was young, he had a job as a chef at a fancy restaurant) and his wife started roasting cauliflower. MB also assisted with the steaks, only he had LB saying to him repeatedly, “Don’t cut it!” (He cuts into the meat to see if it is done. Apparently, you’re supposed to tap it.)

It’s a good thing everyone brought something, because I thought steak, big baked potatoes, and salad were enough. Then when I came back in from eating, hoping for more green beans that my niece brought, literally every bit of food was gone except for some of the steak. After dinner, LB’s oldest daughter, a lovely 16-year-old, started making cookies for dessert. My niece and her husband took their youngest home and left her daughter with us, so that she and her cousin, nine and ten, could spend some time together. The two little girls were no trouble at all.

And in the morning, LB got up and started making breakfast. That was a nice start to the day. Then we went over to pick raspberries at my niece’s house before they had to leave. That night, the rest of us went out to eat and finished the evening in my sister’s hot tub.

All in all, there was mostly just a lot of talking and story-telling, but that’s what family get-togethers are for. It was a shame that the week they were here was one of the hottest on record, one day being 105, but no one seemed to be uncomfortable. We just couldn’t go on any hikes, which is something we usually do.

The lower steps, ending up at the wolf pen. Yes, that thing in the bottom center of the picture is a step.

Then yesterday the guys were back out to work on the very last project that we are paying for, the outside steps from the top level of the house down to the lower drive. I don’t know if I reported a few weeks ago that I almost fell down those steps when the asphalt guys were working on the driveway. They were very dangerous. Some of them slanted, some were unsteady, and one was a step that was twice as high as the others. I forgot to take a picture of them to start with, so here is a picture of some other ones we have that are actually safer than the ones we replaced. These steps go from the lower drive down to the bottom of the orchard. See if they even look like steps to you. I have been weed whacking them, but I haven’t done it recently.

The steps at the bottom are new, and you can see what the old steps looked like at the top.

Since I forgot to take a before picture, I took the following picture while they were in progress. You can see that several steps are already inserted at the bottom of the picture, but the top of the steps give you an idea what they were like. The only ways besides these steps to get down from the upper level are to go back in the house and go down the stairs, or to walk all the way down the driveway to the lower drive and back up again.

Our nice new steps

Finally, here is a picture of the finished steps. They forgot we asked for a rail, so they will have to come back and provide one, but in the meantime, these steps are much safer. We have already been up and down them several times, whereas I used to avoid the other ones.

That pretty much takes care of the projects we are paying for, except for the sauna, and the electrician is coming out next week to install the new part. We still have lots more to get done around here, though. My husband says maybe we can have our contractors come back and do the lower steps later, but we have already used up more of our house sale money than I wanted to. I want to have some left over for emergencies. We have to take down the wallless shed so I can put up my garden boxes, so there will be some gardening related activities to report later. And my niece’s husband has some plans for some more rustic, but still safer, steps below.

But in the meantime, now that the major work on the house is done, I’ll have to figure out some other projects to work on.

An introduction to the winter weather

Snow on the first day
Snow on the first day

We’ve had a lively week, as far as the weather is concerned. As you know, we moved away from Texas partially because it was too hot for us. Well, we have come to the right place.

We were being lazy last Sunday, just watching TV, when it began to snow a little. We were thrilled. We got a light dusting of snow and then it stopped.

On Monday we got well over an inch. It’s difficult to know what the weather will be here because our weather forecasts all come from the valley in Portland, Oregon. There they were forecasting snow on Monday and again on Thursday, with slippery roads on Friday morning. But they said it would all be melted by Friday afternoon. They were wrong, as you know if you watched the national weather on Friday. But we are up 1000 feet, so our weather is quite a bit different. As my niece said, “If it snows in Portland, we are snowed in here.” I have to take that with a grain of salt, because my niece grew up in California, whereas we are both originally from Michigan, where the state would be shut down all winter if we stayed home for a little snow. On Monday she told me she was planning on staying home all week.

On Tuesday our carpet layers came, and they started out making a fuss about the weather. Down in the valley there was no snow, so they were surprised to find us covered with it and our drive quite messy. They objected to driving down our lower drive to the daylight basement. They said we had nowhere to cut the carpet, which they had brought in a big roll. Finally, I got shirty with them and told them we had been waiting for weeks to get the rooms downstairs carpeted, and that there had been no snow on Friday when they were originally scheduled to come. I showed them the huge room crammed full of stuff that we were not unpacking until the carpet was down. They said they’d go in to the warehouse to cut the carpet.

They did a great job, but there is one more delay. They said we need baseboards over the carpet. We hadn’t even noticed there were none. So, we have to get that done before we move in all the bookcases and create a library downstairs. (We have so many windows upstairs that there is no room for bookcases.)

On Wednesday, we drove down to the valley to run errands. The roads were a little slick in the morning, but the day turned out to be beautiful and sunny, which made the snow look bright and cheerful when we got back home. There was no snow in the valley or even within a couple miles of our neighborhood.

Thursday it snowed all day. We stayed home. I would imagine we ended up with a couple of inches or more of snow.

Friday was the day it was supposed to melt. It is Saturday, and the snow is still here. In Portland it was a mess. Here, it was slick, and we stayed home again, unpacking boxes and cleaning.

Today was our day to go out for breakfast with my niece and her family and then go to the U Cut for our Christmas trees. We were debating whether to take separate cars or let my niece’s husband drive us in his car, which has studded snow tires. We don’t actually have any snow tires yet, although our car has all-wheel drive. We opted for driving with them, and it was a good thing we did, because when we went outside, we found that a tree was down across our driveway. Our power also went out around 9:30 AM.

My niece and her family picked us up and we went out to eat and then had a great time tromping around in the snow looking at Christmas trees. Because we have a 20-foot ceiling, we got one that was several feet taller than we usually do, although I didn’t want it to be too tall, because I don’t want to climb a ladder more than a step or two. My guess is we got a 12-foot tree. I don’t usually talk about money, but this tree cost us $25. It was a noble fir, and in Texas it would have cost about $150. Maybe more, because we used to spend more than $100 for a 7-8 footer. We had high ceilings in Texas, too, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money to get a taller tree.

It started to rain while we were eating breakfast, and by the time we got the tree, large pieces of ice were falling off the trees. We went home, unloaded the trees, and then my niece’s husband brought back his chain saw, and the four of us spent a delightful couple of hours dragging wood off the driveway and out of the road.

We still don’t have the tree up, as it is too big for us to handle by ourselves. Our niece and family went home to put up their tree, and they will be back tomorrow to help put ours up. The power came back on around 3 PM. That was the second power outage of note since we got here. We spent the afternoon playing dominoes.

The snow did not melt, so I expect that it will freeze tonight again, and those who have to drive tomorrow up here in the hills will have an exciting trip.