Bye bye birdie

On Wednesday night last week we took my sister out to dinner for her birthday, meeting my brother Mark at the restaurant. We had a good time, but as we were driving out of her driveway after dropping her off, Wayne stopped the car. It turns out he had noticed a bird on the driveway when we picked my sister up but thought it was dead. On the way back in, he saw it move.

The little birdie in the box. He was quite scared at first, but after we gave him a blueberry to eat, he calmed right down and just sat there.

We fetched my niece Katrina, thinking we just needed to turn it over, as it was on its back. However, when we flipped it over, it fluttered helplessly and flipped back over again. Its wing was obviously hurt. Wayne thought he may have hit it on the way in to pick Sue up, but Sue later said she thought the cat that hangs around their house got it.

We picked it up and put it in a shoe box then tried to find someplace to take it while Katrina attempted to identify it. It has a fairly common coloring on top but a beautiful greenish yellow or yellowish green belly, so we thought it was a juvenile western tanager.

It seems that there is nowhere to take an injured bird in Southwest Washington. I started out with an organization with a local phone number that seemed promising, but they said they only took parrots. I found an emergency number in Portland, but when I called them, they said they were remodeling and the fumes from the new carpets would be harmful to birds. So, they advised us to keep the bird hydrated and warm and take it to the Audubon Society in Portland in the morning.

So, that’s how we spent Thursday morning. We left him at Katrina’s overnight and then picked him up at 7:30 AM. (Rush hour! What a good time to drive to Portland!) She reported that he had eaten three blueberries and four crickets and had drunk some water out of an eyedropper. The Audubon Society opened at 9:00, so we took Luke in the hopes of making his Play and Train at 10. We arrived there about 8:50, during which time Luke was making a fuss but we were unable to pull over. The poor puppy had diarrhea in the wayback of the car. We took him out and cleaned it up as good as we could and then turned the bird over at 9. They gave us contact information for inquiring about the bird’s progress, which we gave to Katrina, because they said that if he recovered, they would release him at her house, and we thought they might want to arrange things so that the kids could watch.

We got back to Battle Ground in time for Luke’s Puppy Play, but Wayne said he was covered in poop, so we went home. When I took Luke out of the car, though, he was fine. We could have taken him to Puppy Play after all. The back end of the car was another matter.

Much of my week was taken up with cleaning the house for the advent of the Cirque du Schimmelman, which is what we call my youngest brother’s family. They are making a family trip to California, where they are dropping off their oldest daughter, Áine, at design school in L. A. Aside from cleaning and cooking, the only other things I did were go to art class (where I have finished painting all the spots on the starfish and now have to go back and do some second coats) and walk in the park with my friend Christine and her dog Duchess on Friday morning. Friday afternoon I spent making potato salad. Since I was going to have 14 people for dinner, I figured to keep it easy by grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and serving potato salad and other salads. My sister-in-law Nancy said she would have everyone over for dessert. Of course, they wanted to show my brother Steve’s family their beautiful new house.

Part of my dinner guests at my dining table. From left, my sister-in-law Nancy, my sister-in-law Mary, my niece Nadia, my sister Sue, my great-niece Mischa, my nephew Will, my brother Steve, and my brother Mark. Missing are my niece Áine, my niece Katrina, Katrina’s husband Ares, my great-nephew Søren, and my husband Wayne.

As usual with the Cirque, they gave us an original ETA of 3:30, revised it to 5:30, but didn’t actually show up until close to 6:30. By then we had the grill going and we all dove into eating. Sue had brought corn on the cob and salad. By the end of the evening, everyone had gone through 16 hamburgers and about 8 hot dogs. Unfortunately, they only ate half the potato salad (we’re a little sick of it now). We all had a nice time.

The dessert trip to Mark and Nancy’s turned into a little more of an adventure than expected. We took three cars over from our house. Nancy and Mark left first, about a half hour before anyone else. Then Katrina and her family with Áine as an extra went in their car. We took all the rest, which meant cramming five people into our car.

Nancy had about eight desserts there (oh my god, Weight Watcher unfriendly!), and we all had more than one kind, even me. We had been there for about an hour, and people were being toured around the outbuildings by my brother when Wayne started fretting about Luke being locked up for too long. He decided to pop home and take Luke out. We only live a few minutes’ drive away.

Well, everyone came in and Katrina and company went home, taking all the kids except Will so that they left exactly the same number to go home in our car. I could tell that Nancy was getting a little antsy. She started saying maybe Wayne didn’t realize he was supposed to return and get us (of course he did). She suggested taking us home herself, but I was worried we would miss Wayne on the way, so I tried calling him. No answer at home, and he doesn’t have a cell phone. I called three times telling him he didn’t have to return to get us but to please call to let us know he got the call. We waited a while longer, but Nancy decided he hadn’t listened to all of the message and had gone to bed. I was sure that wasn’t something that Wayne would do and that returning home would not work out right, but Nancy is a very forceful person. She finally ending up getting us all into her car.

As we pulled out of the driveway in the dark, a car was right there, and I said, “That looks like our car,” but it went on and Nancy said, “There are lots of blue Subarus in the area.” Of course, it was our car. We got home to find no Wayne and no Luke, and we found out later that Wayne had come up to turn into the driveway but hadn’t been able to because of our car, so had continued on instead of stopping because a car was right behind him. He turned around and came back but missed the driveway and had to turn around again. Then, of course, he arrived at their house to find we were gone. He got home about 10 minutes after we did. If Nancy could have waited exactly one minute more, he would have driven into the driveway before we could drive out, and he wouldn’t have had to make a useless trip.

Steve and company continued on their merry way about 11 AM the next morning, and we received pictures from them on the beach later that day.

That’s about all of note that happened this week.

 

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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!

 

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.

 

 

A week of frivolity

As much as we have enjoyed living here in this beautiful country, we have sort of fallen down on the job when it comes to entertainment. My husband seems to prefer to stay home versus almost any other type of activity. So, it was nice that this past week we went on a couple of different outings.

Last Wednesday was my birthday, as I said before. I had art class, during which I made a color wheel. It was a little difficult because my yellow paint didn’t seem to be doing its job. The way a color wheel works is that you have your basic colors, red, blue, and yellow, in circles each one third around a larger circle. Then you make the intervening colors by mixing. If you are going between yellow and blue, for example, the first circle after yellow is supposed to be a mix of two dots of yellow paint and one dot of blue. The second circle is supposed to be equal parts of yellow and blue, and the third, the one next to pure blue, is supposed to be one dot of yellow and two of blue. I had a model I was trying to match, but in the cases where I was mixing yellow, to match that model, I had to use a lot more yellow paint, six dots of yellow instead of one. It wasn’t altogether clear to me whether it was more important to match the model or to get the paint percentages right. Now that I think of it, I probably was supposed to get the paint percentages right and use whatever colors I got from that. Between the red and blue, I didn’t have the same problem.

Finally, you do triangles of the opposite colors to get browns. My browns didn’t look anything like the model browns. In one case, a brown looked like a green. I think this had to do with my yellow paint being weak or something. Someone more experienced would know, but my teacher wasn’t clear about these problems. In the next class, I will trace a picture of flowers that is another paint-mixing exercise.

After art class, we went out to eat. My only rule for my birthday, usually, is that I don’t have to cook dinner. I don’t even require a fancy restaurant. That evening we went to McGrath’s Fish House, which is an okay fish restaurant. I don’t think there are any really good ones short of Portland. It is much better than Red Lobster or Joe’s Crab Shack, but that’s about all I can say for it (and I actually like Joe’s pretty well, but only for crab). My highly recommended halibut was nice and fresh but needed a little something, and Wayne said his highly recommended salmon wasn’t as good as my halibut. However, what with getting a birthday gift that I wanted and going out to eat, it was a pretty good birthday.

The best part of my birthday was Friday night, an event that we had all been looking forward to. When it was my niece’s birthday in August, she asked to go to Kachka, a trendy Russian restaurant in Portland (a city with lots of Russians). It turned out, however, that we needed reservations at least two weeks in advance, so we couldn’t go. We went to her second choice instead, but at that time, planned to go to Kachka for my birthday. It was me, my husband, my sister, my niece, and her husband. As the menu and my niece suggested, we had lots of zakuski, which we all shared. If you actually bothered to look at the menu, we had Moldovan eggplant, Baltic sprat buterbrodi, salo, the meat and cheese board, khachapuri, Siberian pelmeni and sour cherry vereniki, golubtsi, bread and butter, and assorted pickles. My husband also had the borscht. Even though I’m usually not a big pickle eater, every bite was delicious. My sister and niece also had vodka while the rest of us tea-totaled. If that wasn’t enough, we all had dessert (mine was plombir sandwiches) and either coffee or tea. I had some delicious chai.

My only complaint was, why does every new trendy restaurant have such uncomfortable chairs, sometimes the same uncomfortable chairs as the other trendy restaurants? They always look really nice but they are really horrible to sit in. Do no restaurant owners ever sit in their chairs before buying them, or do they just buy them for the looks?

That was a great evening out even though we missed Game of Thrones night this week. Our weekends are going to be heating up as we approach the holidays, so I suspect Game of Thrones is going to go by the wayside a few more times.

My niece is hosting her husband’s huge family for Christmas, so she doesn’t want to mess with Thanksgiving this year. So, my husband and I decided to offer to host. We will be doing everything, but we will do it on Friday evening instead of Thursday so that my sister, who works every holiday, can come. We made this offer that night out, and everyone decided it was a good idea. (I wasn’t sure before that if my niece wanted to skip Thanksgiving altogether or just didn’t want to do it herself.)

Finally, yesterday, which is cheap day at the theater, we saw the new Murder on the Orient Express. I was worried about it, in particular that they would change the ending. I also didn’t see how it could stand up to the star-studded 1974 movie. It did, but in a different way. They interjected more action and made Poirot a little more of a physical detective than Christie probably would approved of. They also changed some of the characters, while preserving their names. Oddly, Count and Countess Idreni, played originally by Michael York and Jacqueline Bisset, hardly even appeared in this production. It was like they kept forgetting they were on the train.

Hillary “playing” Candy Crush Soda Saga.

There was a difference in the substance of the casting, this version going more for popular stars rather than screen legends (an exception being Judi Dench and a couple of other actors), but overall, I think it was a movie that was effective in its own right, going for an emotional impact at the end.

Finally, it’s time for a picture. My husband and I aren’t the only ones being amused this week. My cat, Hillary, has developed a fascination for Candy Crush Soda Saga. She seems to care less about the original Candy Crush game, but whenever I get out Soda Saga, she comes over and one time even reached out her paw to touch the screen. So, here is a picture of Hillary on my iPad playing Soda Saga. She likes the fish.

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!