Let’s sit down and gnaw a bone

That’s what I found myself saying to Luke yesterday. That was after I asked him if he would like something better than a cookie, a cue for him to go wild with joy. It means he’s getting a marrow bone to chew on, an activity that is fun for hours and means he isn’t bugging me for attention. Needless to say, our house and front yard look like a charnel house.

The count in the county of confirmed cases of coronavirus is still low, at 16 as of yesterday, with four deaths. However, that is more deaths than Oregon has cases, and it has shut down like Washington. It seems that since last week, we have about three more cases confirmed a day. Again, this seems like a low number, but my understanding is that they aren’t doing very much testing in our area. They’re probably reserving that mostly for Seattle. The Koreans got on top of their problem by ordering tests before the virus even came to their country and testing everyone constantly. They have only a 1% death rate, which is much lower than everyone else. But of course it would be really odd for our government to jump on anything. The local and state governments are reacting much faster. When Trump announced he had turned something over to FEMA, I just said “Jesus, help us,” and I’m not a religious person. But, oh yes, the tests are great, according to him.

I hear stories all over about sick people. My niece told me that half her friends in Battle Ground who were having play dates like normal with their kids while she was hunkering down are sick. And a lady posted on Facebook yesterday that a bunch of her church members were sick and some were on respirators. No word about if they got tested. Luckily, so far no one in my family is sick. The flu being in the area adds confusion to all this.

Wayne is worried about his oldest brother, who lives in Michigan, not because of the virus but because shortly before all this happened, he was supposed to be biopsied for lung cancer. He was a smoker most of his life, although he quit smoking a few years ago. When he went into the hospital originally for a biopsy, they found that he had another condition that they had to take care of before they could do that. He just had his biopsy yesterday, a bad time to go into the hospital. Wayne has been calling him every day.

Wayne and I have stayed home almost all this week. Just Monday, the governor announced a stay-at-home order that says you can only go out for necessary business and exercise. That’s basically what we’ve done the last week or so anyway. On Thursday, I went over to Christine’s and we walked our dogs and then sat outside to have coffee. The only thing that worried me about that was the fear that I could have something unbeknownst to myself and pass it on to her, as she is 80. So far, so good. While I was out, I stopped by the farm store.

On Monday, Wayne decided he wasn’t sick after all, helped along by the arrival of a new thermometer, which says we both have normal temperatures. I could never see that he had any symptoms of anything, although I realize that doesn’t mean anything, and he goes out so seldom during normal times except to run errands that it seemed unlikely he got anything. As soon as he thought he was sick, he stayed home. That day, he went out for the first time for a doctor’s appointment, because he has blood in his urine, so maybe a kidney stone or something, but no other symptoms. On the way home, he stopped and got gas and went to the produce store for fruit. Then on Tuesday afternoon, he took his temperature and decided he was sick after all. A doctor would still treat his temperature as normal (98.4), but he says for him it is high, and now he has taken to his bed. I have been through something like this so many times before that it’s hard to take seriously. I don’t know how many times he’s thought he’s had something and moped around for days and then decided he’s not ill after all. I just hope he isn’t ill this time, too.

We are doing okay for groceries so far, just because Wayne generally picks up things without know if we need them, which leads to a surplus of certain foods, or importantly, toilet paper. As a test, however, I decided to try Fred Meyer’s Clicklist function, where you pick out your shopping list online and then schedule a time to pick it up. My only problem was that when I tried to schedule a time, they were all full. My niece suggested I do it early in the morning, so I left my stuff in the cart and then scheduled it at 8:30 AM on Sunday. I got a 1-2 PM appointment today to pick it up. Of course, as soon as I placed it, I was sorry I hadn’t put a few more things on the list, particularly as it was difficult to get a reservation. Of course, we can always get up early and go shop during the senior hours, Monday through Thursday from 7 to 8 AM. My SIL Nancy reports that she placed an order by getting up this morning at 3:30 AM. I don’t know if it got that much worse in two days or if she is just over-reacting as usual. I think she is reading every virus article she can get her hands on and scaring herself. My niece has gone further for groceries than any of us. She was the one using the Clicklist, but this time she is actually ordering the food from them to be shipped to her.

The only thing we have run out of is all our treats. I have some popcorn left to pop, but we usually have a small stash of chocolate and salty snacks, and they are all gone. Every day I have considered baking chocolate chip cookies, and every day I have desisted. I am not being super rigid about WW right now, but I don’t want to undo all my efforts of the last two years.

Other than my trip to pick up my shopping, I may go hiking with Katrina and the kids on Thursday, assuming Wayne doesn’t have an actual temperature by then, and Christine and I are planning another dog-walking expedition.

Here are the very same daffodils, two days after being covered in snow.

We had gorgeous weather here most of last week. In fact, I took another picture of some of my daffodils, the very same ones that were covered in snow last Saturday. Two days later, they were doing fine. I also took a picture of Luke in the crocuses. My crocuses are gung ho this year. Usually by the time the daffodils arrive, they are about done.

If you look hard, you can see yellow and white crocuses. I didn’t even know crocuses came in white, but I must have planted them, because there they are.

The weather being so nice, I spent several days outside pulling up blackberry vines. They are all over our raised bed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach the ones that were high up but lower than the upper ridge, but we did a lot of damage to them. There are still lots more, though. I guess we should have been doing this every spring. I also got some dirt at the farm store last week and turned up the dirt in my raised gardens. I will have to go back to get more dirt, but I was able to prepare two sections of my raised garden and plant my lettuce greens and beans. This will be my third year to try beans, and I haven’t been successful, but the first year I did well with mixed greens of lettuce. Last year, I tried head lettuce, but no heads ever developed. By mistake, I find I have bought foot-long Asian beans instead of regular green beans. Oops!

Now our good weather has passed, and we have been in rain for the past couple of days. It’s supposed to snow today. It hasn’t so far, but we did get a kind of goopy snow yesterday for a few minutes. It was really coming down. It was too snowlike for sleet but slushy. It wasn’t hail. We had two storms of pea-sized hail the day before, one that was big enough to leave slush on the front porch for hours afterwards.

My sister, who is in self-quarantine because she brought her sick grandson over to her house (where she lives with my niece and her family) last weekend, says she’s been painting. I haven’t been so creative, but I’ve been enjoying myself this last week reading the third volume in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series. I just finished it yesterday. It’s a great book. Review to come in four to five months.

Now my family is going crazy messaging about particles of virus found on the cruise ship that were more than 17 days old. I bet some of them are going to start cleaning everything obsessively, if they aren’t already. I can hear my phone going ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

A new hike

Here’s a look at the trail in a place not next to the river (it’s beyond a little island) but from which we had a great view of Mt. Hood. It looks barely visible in the middle of my photo, but it was actually very noticeable.

Our weather has been exceptionally changeable this week. On Sunday, for example, we woke up to nice sunny skies, but by the time I was ready to go out, it was cold and rainy again. However, yesterday was gorgeous, so Maja and I did a nice-day hike we’ve never taken before, the Columbia River Dike Trail. It’s completely flat along the top of a dike, but it’s long enough to get a good walk in. We did not go all the way but managed to hike about 5.5 miles. The trail follows the Columbia River west toward the gorge, and although it is industrial next to the trail for a while, when you get up next to the Steigenwald Wildlife Reserve, the industrial sites are gone. Hanging above us for our entire hike was Mt. Hood. We have had a lot of rainy days this year but not so many really beautiful days like this.

On the way back to the car, we encountered two women who were putting Mardi Gras beads around people’s necks. What a fun thing to do. I had forgotten it was Fat Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is much more present down in Texas than here.

Another major thing going on this week is that Friday we got our Sleep Number bed delivered. I have to confess to mixed experiences with it. So far, I have had one good night of sleep and a couple of uncomfortable nights. I don’t think I’ve figured out my sleep number yet. Wayne is still waking up in the middle of the night but says he’s sleeping a little longer. Part of what’s hard to get used to is not having a three-inch memory foam pad on the bed anymore. I’m used to sinking into our bed a few inches and then having support underneath. We could cut a slit in the top of the pad (we bought a top-split bed because of Wayne’s sleep apnea), and put the pad back on, but the bed is supposed to keep us cooler at night, and those pads make you hotter. There’s no point in making the bed not be able to perform one of its functions. I get hot enough at night.

Lately, I’ve been getting a little bit back into creativity by editing my brother John’s book manuscript. He tends to make the same types of grammatical and punctuation errors, so I’m making him work by explaining the rules to him and making him search for the changes. He says he’s learning something. The thing that makes editing boring is that almost all amateur writers (and some professional ones) make the same mistakes over and over. They’re just different mistakes from other people’s. I worked on his earlier draft a bit, but then he told me to stop because he’d rewritten it extensively. I can’t really tell the difference. I think he’s telling a good story. He just has a few little writing quirks to clean up, and he really likes complicated sentences.

Lukey did really well in dog class both on Saturday and on Monday night, heeling mostly off leash and then doing an exercise where we put the dog on place, walk away and call them, and then walk off and ask them to heel as they approach. Then we walk back toward their place and stop well back from it to send them to place. He pretty much perfectly did this exercise every time, completely off leash, just trailing his little leash behind him, except that sometimes he came to heel on my wrong side. (He’s supposed to be on my left.) The only time he broke when he was supposed to be on place was one time when another dog owner called her dog in a really high-pitched voice. For some reason that made several dogs break and run toward their owners, Luke among them. Still, I can see that I’m closer to the point when I’ll be able to take Luke off-leash to places like the beach and he’ll just follow me around. Of course, I’ll always have a leash handy in case I need one.

Starting next Monday, Luke will miss his Monday night classes for a month, because I am going to be attending a tai chi class in Orchards, a suburb of Vancouver. I’m doing this because Wayne was told by his physical therapist that tai chi would be good for him. I tried to get him to go to my class when it started, but it’s a four-month class, and now they won’t let new people in until the next one starts. So, for a month we’ll go to the class in Orchards, and I will also continue to go to my Wednesday class in Battle Ground, then in April Wayne will start over again when the beginning Battle Ground class restarts. I can already tell I will need to repeat the beginning class, maybe even several times, before I go into something more advanced. I am slow to learn anything physical.



Inching toward spring

I have a few more crocuses today, but they’ve been coming out slowly because we haven’t had very nice weather until yesterday. It’s been either warm or cold and rainy. On Monday, we were supposed to get snow, but all we got was some sleet that hit my windshield on the way home from Christine’s.

At least last week I was feeling well enough that I could return to all my regular activities. Luke went to both classes and did well, except when one of the German Shepherds lunged at him Monday night. Then whenever we had to go near him, Luke would walk the other way. But he’s doing awfully well at heeling in class, not so well outside of it. I have him almost off-leash in class, but the problem is that when I let go of the leash, he stops. So, I was holding on to the very end of the leash, and he was walking along with me nicely. It’s too bad, because for a while I had him walking along by me completely off-leash. When he can do that routinely, he gets to have only a two-foot leash, and most of the time he can be off-leash. I can’t help feeling that if he knew what reward he had in store for him, he’d learn to walk off-leash really quickly.

Starting in March, a lot of our Saturday classes and all of our Monday night classes are going to be off the premises of the training facility, at places like malls, where we are training our dogs for the Urban Canine Good Citizen certificate. Unfortunately, during all of March I will be attending an evening beginning tai chi class with Wayne instead of going to dog class. Anyway, Dawn has announced she has a goal to have the schedule for class done by March 1. Last time she announced anything like this, we never got a schedule—she just used Facebook to announce where they were going at the last minute. That meant that Luke and I never got to go, because I never managed to get on Facebook at exactly the right time to look, and the times I did so, the event was so far away from our house that we couldn’t get there on time.

Aside from dog and art class, where my piggies are coming along, the only other thing I did this week of note was go walking with Christine and Luke on Monday. We drove over to her house and just walked around her neighborhood. Then we followed that up with a coffee klatsch at her house.

Here’s a glimpse of the swimming hole from the path.

For our hike yesterday, we went back to Salmon Creek Park, because it was a rare sunny day, and we wanted to stay in the sun. This was the first time we went there without Luke, which gave us an excuse to explore the swimming area, in which dogs are not allowed (even though we saw a couple in there). It is a nice area with a pond, which was occupied by cormorants, geese, and ducks at this time of year, and a bathhouse. It also has playscapes and a duck pond.

Returning from the duck pond to the swimming hole, we walked around a huge flock of geese that was sunning in the grass. When we got about two thirds around, they all took off. About half of them landed in the duck pond and the other half in the swimming hole.

We saw a path branching away from that area, and we decided to go that way rather than along the usual trail. It went under I-5 and then back along the creek for a ways, but after a mile or so it got rockier and we began seeing shopping carts and barbecues and other signs of a homeless population, so we turned around. So, we didn’t actually get a chance to find out if it went anywhere else. We returned to the main part of the park and walked up the usual trail. It started off being quite cold in the park but gradually got a lot warmer, so that we were shedding layers as we went.

As we returned to the car, we passed some people with telephoto cameras and realized they were pointed at a huge nest in the park. It was  a nest of bald eagles. We watched for a while but saw no activity, but the people said that both parents had been back and forth to the nest.


My teal toenails

This might seem amazing to some of you and trivial to others, but last Friday, I had my first ever pedicure. Christine, who has them now and again, scheduled one for both of us while Luke was at the groomers. I sort of liked it, although I was worried at times about my feet, as I used to have gout attacks (never since I moved here, though). When I saw my brother John that weekend, he said he used to have them regularly and really enjoyed them, until they retired and Lucie cut them out of the budget. He didn’t have his toes painted teal, however. I liked them so much that I decided to get my fingernails done to match next time Christine does hers. I actually have about the same color polish in my cupboard, but when I do my nails, they get smeared right away and chip off within days.

It’s not too snowy at this point, but if you look closely, you can see snow on Luke’s back. Not dandruff.

Just before writing this (on Tuesday), I was out playing with Luke in the snow. We got about an inch on Sunday, and most of it melted away, but Tuesday we got about seven inches. When I wrote the draft for this post, it was only sticking on the grass. I took a picture of Luke with snow on him. Luke has this habit. We get done with our errands (today it was the dentist and Play and Train), come home, I make lunch and do the dishes. Then, just about when I’m ready to settle down with a nice cup of tea, Luke gets up from snoozing and starts ringing the bell to go out and play. So, that’s what we did.

We ended up getting about an inch of snow again, but early in the morning, it started raining, so this morning I woke up to mostly slush.

We had a couple of beautiful days this week, Monday being clear and quite cold, but mostly it has rained for days. Still, we don’t complain. We’re not in Austin. Yay!

Last week in tai chi we finished the first third, which seemed weird because we learned 17 out of 108 moves. But many of them repeat, apparently. I can’t really remember more than 6 or 7 when I try to practice at home. I already know I’ll have to take the beginner’s class over again at least once. Our instructor says that most people take at least two beginner’s courses.

Now that Wayne has missed the beginning of our class and we’re not accepting any new students, his physical therapist has said he should take tai chi. (I tried to get him to go, but he never believes I know what I’m talking about. He’ll listen to anyone but me.) So, he’s going to start a class beginning in March on Monday nights in Orchards. I told him I would skip Luke’s night class to take it with him for a month, and then we can both start over again in April, when the Battle Ground beginning class starts again. While I’m taking class with him, I’ll also take my regular class. Of course, this all depends on his not changing his mind by the time March rolls around. Right now, he still says he’ll take it.

I spent a lot of the week getting the house cleaned up in case we had visitors. That’s because Mark was having a birthday party on Sunday, and rumor had it my brother Steve and his family would be coming down from Seattle and staying with us. Not that he ever said anything to me. I had been sadly neglectful of the housework since the holidays, pretty much only doing the dishes and the laundry and sweeping the floor occasionally. So, the entire house got cleaned and the guest bed changed, and so on, but no guests. Steve and his family did indeed show up at the party on Sunday afternoon, but they went home about 7 PM. It was a nice party. Mark made delicious homemade pizzas according to a recipe we’ve had since the 60’s. Eighteen people showed up, including friends Mark has known since he went to college up at Michigan Tech, who now live up by Bellevue.

John and Lucie are having a great time in their cottage in Seaside and sent us all a beautiful picture from their walk on Monday, after they got back home. He reported that they had nearly finished the puzzle I brought them, so I gave them another one.

In art class, I continued to work on shading my piggies.

Monday, we bought a new bed, a Sleep Number bed. Gosh, they’re really expensive. When you price the mattress, it doesn’t seem too much worse than a regular high-end mattress, but then you have to buy the support for the mattress that has the electronics in it, and they keep hitting you with additional expenses (the proper mattress cover, sheets, etc.). We didn’t get everything, although we may regret not buying the sheets if ours start popping off whenever the mattress is raised. However, neither of us sleep well, so if this will help, it’ll be worth it. We looked at Tempurpedic beds a few months ago, and I personally thought the soft one was more comfortable (and they’re about half the cost, because none of the extras are needed), but the Sleep Number bed also raises up to help people with sleep apnea, which Wayne has. (Actually, I think the Tepurpedic bed does, too, so maybe we would have to buy the same extras. They just didn’t show us that feature.) We’ll get the bed in a couple of weeks and I’ll report back.

On second thought, I figured that since we got the split top mattress so that Wayne could sleep slightly elevated, our sheets would be popping off the mattress, so I looked at sheets online. I found that if I bought them from Sleep Number, they cost about $200 a set. Online I found a set of bamboo sheets for $69, 1900 thread count. We’ll see how they work out.


Just recently some of us on the Schimmelman (my maiden name) side of the family began to realize that doing jigsaw puzzles is a family pastime. We never had one out at home when I was a kid, but after my father and stepmother bought a cottage on Suttons Bay, he was always working one. I used to have one going all the time years ago, but for some reason Wayne put my project table upstairs, so I didn’t have a place to do one. I also noticed, when I used to visit my Uncle Fred and Aunt MM, that they always had one out, usually a very complicated one.

When we were at my niece’s house this year to decorate Christmas cookies, they had a puzzle out, and I noticed that my great niece, Mischa, who is 11, has the ability to just look at an open spot, glance around, and pick up the piece for that place. Ares said that they always do a puzzle when they are on holiday. John and Lucie and I tried to help with the puzzle and spent several hours only placing a few pieces. So, since the puzzle (1000 pieces) was only about 1/4 done when we were there, when Ares sent us a photo of the completed puzzle the next day, we were amazed. That’s when we started talking about Dad always having a puzzle out, and John told us that Amy, our cousin, had one out when they visited her on their way here. They told us how she had it on a board so that she could move it if she needed the space, something that will be necessary for us, too.

Here’s our solved puzzle. I’m not sure where this one came from, as it’s not the type of puzzle I would have bought myself. You’re supposed to read a story that goes with it and try to solve the mystery, but although I love mysteries, I expect this one was probably a stupid one.

I have half a dozen puzzles in the closet, so when we went home, we got them out and picked one and started working on it. I generally like scenic or art puzzles, but we picked out a mystery puzzle because John, who is colorblind, thought it would be easier for him to do it by shape. We worked on it a bit, but they found their new home so quickly that we barely had the edge pieces in before they left. They said they wanted to have one going in their new home, so I took them another mystery puzzle when Sue and I went to visit.

I have been working on it for a bit every day, and Friday I finally finished it, with Wayne helping a little bit, especially at the end. It has taken us a lot longer to do than I expected, but Friday I also bought a lightweight board to use under the next puzzle. I generally break up a puzzle as soon as I finish it, but this time I let it sit on the table for a day.

I am now working my second puzzle, which has a lot of areas that are the same color, so it’s proving difficult. Unfortunately this weekend I’ll have to find a place to put it, because we are going to be full up. At least, I think we are. Nancy is having a 70th birthday dinner for my brother Mark, and John told me Sunday that Steve and co. (alias the Cirque du Schimmelman) were coming and planning to stay with us, and did anyone tell me? To which I answered, of course not. And they still haven’t told me. So, this week I’ve been cleaning house, a set of tasks I’ve been procrastinating about since the holidays, so the house is pretty messy. I will need to find an opportunity to sneak downstairs and change the bed and clean the bathroom, since Luke gets very upset when I go down there.

And speaking of Luke, he astonished me on Saturday during class. For the first part of the class, we heeled our dogs from one spot on the ground to another, not moving forward until the dogs looked at us. He did okay with this. He tended to look up at me quickly for the first two spots and then take longer for the second two, but at least I wasn’t the last person left standing. We did that several times and then were responsible for keeping our dog looking at us while the other people in the class came in and did the same thing with the spots.

After a while of that, they had us take the dogs into the yard and heel in the circle. After we went around a couple of times, they told us to take them off leash. Up until now, when I take Luke off leash he heels for a little while and then stops and looks confused. This time, I took him off and he continued to heel for the rest of the class, around and around. That is great, because I want him to be able to go with me places off leash, and once I can be sure he’ll stick with me most of the time, I can get a short leash and get rid of the prong collar.

It’s true that once I picked the leash back up, he dragged on it as he usually does until we get heeling sorted out again. I meant to try to practice with him on the road on Sunday, but I was busy putting away the Christmas lights and when I finally was ready, it had started raining. Monday afternoon and evening it just poured. On Tuesday, Maja and I went for a hike, but we just stuck to Lewisville Park, because of threatening rain. It actually worked out pretty well that we got wet, but not too wet.

I may have mentioned that the day of our New Years party, the smoke detector at the top of the ceiling started to beep. Some moron installed it at the peak of the roof, which is about 25 feet high. We have a 12-foot ladder, and we had to have Ares, my niece’s husband, stand on the next to top rung of the ladder and use a grabber to take out the battery and install a new one. He came over that day and did it, and later my brother John suggested that we leave the battery out next time and install a new smoke detector lower on the ceiling where we can more easily reach it. (Actually, we hired a guy to wire all the smoke detectors into the wiring of the house, but apparently he didn’t do the one that we needed done most.)

So, we just put a new battery in on December 31 (or Ares did), and Tuesday morning at 5 AM I was awakened by a beeping noise. At first, I thought Wayne, who was already up, was walking around squeaking his shoes on the floor, but of course it was the smoke detector again. Wayne found a brush with a very long pole, and he whacked it until it stopped, but Tuesday evening it started beeping again. This time I was able to pop open the battery casing just a bit from the floor. I know it opens more than that, but hopefully it is enough to break the contact. We will have to buy a new smoke detector soon.

Sure enough, as these things go, the smoke detector started going off again at 2:00 this morning.

Let there be light

First, a miracle occurred! About a year and a half ago, the second fluorescent light in my closet started to go out. (The other one was out already.) When I mentioned that I needed new bulbs, Wayne suggested that we change out the fixture for LEDs, as they are more energy efficient and he has done that throughout the house. We soon bought a fixture for the closet, which we put under the dresser in the guest room. Time passed. My other bulb went from flickering a lot to being completely out, and since then I have been going into my closet with a  flashlight or just feeling around for things. I complained about it several months ago, and Wayne installed a camping lantern in my closet that was almost as bad as no light at all. My friend Christine suggested I go out and buy fluorescent bulbs and install them myself, but I kept forgetting to measure the fixture.

And lo and behold, yesterday Wayne brought a ladder in from the garage. I could hardly bear to hope, but yes, I now have a new light fixture in my closet! I only had to go a year without any light! For some reason he didn’t install it straight in the closet. It is at an angle to the wall. But beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it! It is very bright!

Lukey enjoying the new snow. He just loves playing in the snow. I shot a video of him playing but was unable to transfer it from my phone to my computer. I’m not sure my template supports video anyway, as it didn’t last time I tried to upload a video.

I have to admit to not having done very much the last week. We had a week where it snowed just about every day, and it was so nice to sit in front of the fire with a book that that’s about what I did. Of course, I continued to take Luke to class, and in my art class, I began painting my pigs. I went to tai chi again, this time with Maja, but we did not go for a hike.

And speaking of Luke, he is going through a stretch of naughtiness after being relatively well behaved for some time. The first thing he did was steal my bookmark off the coffee table and rip it to shreds. He hasn’t been taking things off the table, so I let my guard down. Next, he stole one of my socks out of the dirty laundry, but this time, at least, he didn’t tear it up. He just took it into his crate, and it missed its turn in the laundry, since I didn’t discover that he’d taken it until I finished the washing.

On Sunday morning, my only day to sleep in during the week, I tried to sleep a little later than Wayne and Luke. However, he stayed outside my bedroom door growling and scratching on the door, so I finally gave up and got up. I know I’m forgetting at least one more minor misbehavior, but now I’m at the big ones. On Saturday night, he vomited copiously into his bed. After I cleaned it up, I discovered why. He had gotten up on his hind legs and stolen the butter off the kitchen counter. Then he ate it, all the butter we had in the house, about a stick and a half. At least, I found the half stick on the floor, but it was covered in teeth marks, so I threw it out.

Finally, I took him out to the orchard Monday morning without his e-collar, and he ran straight into the road and across the street and did not come back when called. That’s a serious misbehavior, as he gets to go out without a leash around our property because he can be relied upon to come when called. Then he started down the road as if to call on his friend Rosie, but he came back and got dragged ignominiously home. He doesn’t really have it in him to actually run off as he prefers being around me. Nevertheless, I put his e-collar on him first thing in the morning ever since then.

This is just one bunch of the many mushrooms we saw along the path. I don’t think they are edible, more’s the pity, but they are certainly pretty.

Yesterday we went for the first regular hike since the holidays began, perhaps the first one since November, although I went out a couple of times with John and once with Lucie. It was me, Maja, and Nancy. We just went to Moulton Falls Park because it was supposed to rain, and it was raining by the time we turned back. We saw an area where they’d been cutting trees that was just loaded with mushrooms. As always, it was a beautiful walk.



A long weekend at the beach

The first tai chi class went well aside from us all being locked out when we first got there. The instructor said they hoped for four or five people, but there were 16 of us. We learned the first five moves. Maja wasn’t able to go with me but will go this week. They called me on Tuesday to tell me that if Battle Ground schools are closed today, we won’t have class, but there’s just a late start. On Monday night we got a couple of inches of snow up here (although not in Battle Ground) and Tuesday we had more.  Wayne also said he might go, but as usual he has copped out.

On Thursday night at art class, I drew my pigs, which will be my next painting. My teacher told me I should do a furry animal after finishing my landscape. Almost everyone in my class picks cats, dogs, horses, or wild animals like foxes and tigers. I thought it would be nice to do a barnyard animal. I looked at pictures of cows and pigs and picked some pigs sleeping in hay. I completed transferring the drawing onto my canvas a few minutes before clean-up time, so I did not begin painting it.

Lucie, John, and Sue on the beach at Seaside

On Friday, Sue picked me up and we loaded up some things that John and Lucie left and drove to Seaside. We arrived about noon in pouring rain. In fact, it was raining so hard when we crossed the bridge to the south of Astoria that we could barely see where we were going.

Haystack Rock from south of Cannon Beach

John and Lucie’s cottage was built in the 1930’s and is very nice. It has cedar shake siding and has two bedrooms downstairs and an attic with three twin beds upstairs. It is small but a lot larger than the apartments we looked at here and well lit and pleasant. There is a little sun room where Lucie sits in the morning reading her book. Luckily for me, Sue volunteered to sleep in the attic. The staircase from there to the little bathroom below it is very narrow and steep, and the ceiling slants so that you can bang your head on it. I was sure I’d fall down the stairs during one of my many nighttime trips to the bathroom. I had been trying to figure out if both of us could sleep in the guestroom bed, but it is pushed up against the wall, making it difficult for the inside person to get up in the middle of the night.

The cottage was rented furnished, and it is furnished to the max. There is very little room for any of John and Lucie’s things, and it is also full of kitsch with a seaside theme. Lots of shells and starfish around the place. Not very good paintings of water. And so on. However, it is comfortably furnished and the decor isn’t overly annoying.

I took this picture at Oswald West just north of Manzanita.

After we ate lunch, we walked the three or four long blocks to the sea. We had heard warnings of king tides and sneaker waves on the way in, and I tried to impress on John and Lucie how serious this was by telling them about a man and his child who were dragged out to sea the summer before, but John and Sue still went pretty close to the water. Lucie stayed well back with me. We walked along the ocean for a while. It was very windy and rainy, though, so after a few miles, we turned around and went home. John said they had already started a habit of heading out whenever it stopped raining. They had only had one day so far that it didn’t rain. (During that same time period, we had none.)

That night, Lucie made us a delicious dinner and we finally got to watch Amadeus, which I brought from home.

The next day when we went back down to the ocean in the morning, the tide was so high that the beach we had been walking on was completely underwater. We went down to the promenade and checked out the ocean from several viewpoints, before going to breakfast at Pig n Pancake. When we headed south to drive around the point below Seaside, the road was blocked off, so we had to go back to Highway 101.

We spent the day exploring a bunch of stops along the highway south of Seaside and looking at the ocean from different angles. Only once did John and Lucie go down to a beach, but it was at a tight cove, which is not a good place to do it under these conditions. Most of the time, we were looking at views from up high. We went down to Manzanita, and as we were going there, we encountered several ambulances. Later, we found out about the man and his two children who were pulled out to sea right when we were in the area. His little girl drowned and his little boy was never found. I feel so sorry for that family.

In the evening, we went out to dinner at one of the fish restaurants in Seaside, and we went to bed fairly early. The next morning I got up early and was thinking of taking a shower but was worried that it would wake up John and Lucie, who shared a jack and jill bathroom. I’m glad I didn’t do anything, because John got in the shower that morning and found the water not going down. When he got up, he saw that water had flooded up from under the toilet. We had to get the property manager to call a plumber. It turned out that the bamboo roots from the hedge on that side of the house had clogged up the pipes. The water was turned off for some time, and during that time, I had to walk several blocks down to the public toilet. However, I’m sure that will soon be fixed, and I’m glad they are so happy in their new home.

Some good news was that while we were there, Nancy texted John inviting him and Lucie to attend Mark’s 70th birthday potluck in early February. That made him very happy. Maybe we’re all going to put the latest unpleasantness behind us.

Sue and I drove home about 11 on Sunday morning. It was supposed to snow in Yacolt later that day, but we really didn’t get much. However, we got a lot more on Monday night. It was a little slippery going down to town to do our usual errands on Tuesday, but when we got to Battle Ground, they had no snow.

Lukey was very happy to see me when I got home. Wayne said he spent most of the time looking out the window.