A mild week

A view of our pond on this beautiful day. I took the picture from our deck.

We are feeling for the rest of the country, which seems to be suffering this winter. I hear from a friend in Michigan that she and her husband have about used up all their firewood, and another storm is due in this week. We had some snowy winters the last two years, but this one has been really mild, and we think a bit too dry. During the last week, we have had hardly any rain, although we had several foggy days, and since Monday we have had beautiful, clear but chilly days. Still, our chilly days have only been in the 40’s or 50’s most of the winter.

Oh, my gosh! My brother just sent me a picture of his dashboard showing the temperature. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and it is -22 there! My niece sent him back a picture of her kids playing in the greenhouse yesterday with their shirts off. What a contrast!

We have gotten a bid on financing our roof from the roofers, and now we have to go visit our credit union to see if they can do better. I hope so. We are also having to have our satellite dish moved. It is supposed to be mounted on a proper mounting on the side of the house, but there are actually several satellite dishes on the roof, from services gone by. All of them have to go.

In fact, the satellite guy was scheduled to come out to our house yesterday. We had dentist appointments at 10 but thought we would be home by noon, which was the beginning of the time period during which he was supposed to come out. What would the odds be that he would be on time? However, our appointments lasted longer than we expected and in fact when we arrived home at 12:20, we had missed him.

Our dentist appointments were rescheduled from last Thursday, when we drove into town to find that the doctor was out sick. He did not have measles but stomach flu, he told me yesterday. If you are paying attention to the news about the measles, you have heard there is an outbreak in Washington. What you probably don’t know is that the hotbed is here in Clark County, which has a large percentage of unvaccinated children. My great niece and nephew have had their vaccinations (my great nephew is only partially vaccinated because of his age), but I know that my niece is worried they might get sick anyhow, as the number of vaccinated people who got sick is “unconfirmed.”  The first children to get sick attend a school that my great niece’s school shares its parking lot with. The kids were sick last week but not with measles.

No hike last week but one is set for today. My sister has said she wants to go with us, but as usual, her sights are set on a more challenging hike than I can probably do. A couple weeks ago, we went on one of our easy hikes that we do when it is raining, and I found it a lot tougher than I had done in the past, because I have gotten more out of shape since we have been missing so many hikes.

Oh, now we have made our plans, and we are doing an easy hike that we have never done before. Interested readers will be able to see my write-up in Friday’s Fat Girls.

Last week, the women whom Luke and I go dog-walking with were supposed to come to my house so that their dogs could play in the wolf pen. However, this outing completely fell apart. Instead, I took Luke over to the house of Christine, Peter, and Duchess, as Wayne had promised to help Christine and Peter with their computer. Luke and Duchess played in their backyard, and they had a blast running around in circles. The only problem with this was, that during their next class, Luke was sitting next to Duchess and clearly wanted to take up where they left off. He concentrated poorly during that class. I would like to see him do well in front of the trainers so that he can graduate to the next class. He is clearly bored with adult class. I don’t want to quit going entirely, because I think the socialization is good for him.


Playing with the eyeball ball

Last night, Luke and I spent some time playing with the eyeball ball. This ball is the famous Christmas present that I got this year from my husband, another entry in a long line of tasteful gifts. In fact, had I not asked for a jacket at the last minute, this ball would have had the dubious distinction of being my only Christmas gift besides some tools for my tool box (including a socket wrench set—be still my beating heart). It is a clear bouncy ball with a light inside it that changes color from red to purple when you bounce it, and it has an eyeball on the front of it. It immediately became Luke’s toy. I can’t show you a picture of it right now, because it is under the couch.

Wayne tries to watch TV while Luke runs around with the eyeball ball in his mouth. It is currently in its red state, and the eyeball must be facing into his mouth.

Here is our game. I bounce the eyeball ball, which changes colors, which Luke appears to like. He catches it. We bounce it around a bit, and then he loses it under the couch. He does this on purpose because of the next bit, which is that I get the mop out from the closet, which he then attacks, and then I poke around with it under the couch until the eyeball ball comes out. Then he purposefully pushes it back under the couch again. Then he runs to the closet to get ready to attack the mop. Oh, what fun. After about the sixth or seventh time, when he lost the ball before I even put the mop away, I left the ball under the couch. He must have a dozen balls (you can see one under the table in this picture), but he likes the eyeball ball the best.

Most of my news this week has to do with Luke, as there hasn’t been much going on. No hike again last week, because both my hiking partners failed. We did do a mini pack walk on Thursday with Luke’s doggy friends Lola and Duchess. Luke misses his best doggy friend, Ruthie, though, as either she or her mistress has been ill the last month.

On Saturday, perhaps to make up for the snub last week, the owner of the dog-training place invited me and Luke to take part in a pack walk. We had to jump through some hoops to do this, as it was during the time when I usually take Mischa to taekwondo. What we did was pick up Mischa early, then Wayne dropped me and Luke off for the pack walk and took Mischa to class. Then he came to pick up me and Luke at the pack walk destination, so that we didn’t get to walk back with them. I was worried that it would be too tough on me, because the last one went at such a sharp pace. This one did, too, but the distance was quite a bit shorter, so I didn’t have any trouble. I could go both ways and do the exercises in the middle if it weren’t for dropping off and picking up Mischa.

Then later that day I went alone to take Luke to his regular class. The class was conducted by the owner rather than his regular trainer, because she was at the Portland Dog Show. Luke did very well right up until the end, when he came off place twice while he was waiting his turn to be called away. That said, he did better than any other dog in the class, but I would have liked him to do perfectly, since the owner was there and had ejected him from Relationship Class.

When I got home with Luke on Saturday, Wayne promptly disappeared to the basement even though I had had Luke for several hours that day by myself and would have liked a break. This is fairly usual behavior for Wayne. He didn’t come back up for hours.

Aside from that, it was a normal week. I am still working on the same painting in art class, although my sister is about to start her first oil painting after having worked on a series of exercises. The art teacher discovered that we actually do have a checklist for oil painting, so she checked off the things I had already done and I get to start following it once I finish my landscape.

Wayne has been meeting with some roofing people. During a recent wind storm, we got a shingle knocked off our roof. Although the roof looks okay to me and I figured it would just need a repair, Wayne thinks it needs to be replaced. The roofing guys came out again yesterday, and it looks like we’re getting a new roof.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

You can’t always see those mountains through the trees.

It’s a gorgeous day today! Yesterday, the high was 51, and it rained almost all day. We had a fire in our wood stove. Today, the high is supposed to be 81. I had an early morning appointment, and the air was fresh, the skies sunny. Now, I’ve had to remove my sweatshirt for the first time since October and won’t be wearing two shirts today for the first time since November (when I figured out what was needed to keep from having to crawl in bed every day to get warm). Here is a picture of our deck this morning. If you look carefully past the trees, you can see mountains.

For those of you who can’t wait to hear the latest renovation news, we haven’t done anything this week, but my marmoleum samples finally arrived. I picked a deep but bright blue called adriatica that only has a few speckles, light and dark (I could have used more speckles, but this was the best color) and looks lovely with our grayish green-blue walls. It will be very dramatic. On Tuesday, I heard from our contractor, who has been on vacation. He said he had found a vendor of marmoleum who has installers, and he is just waiting for pricing information. Yippee!

On the down side, we developed a leak under our kitchen sink last week. Every once in a while we would find a small puddle of water on the floor in front of the sink, and then open the cabinet door to find a puddle inside. Of course, my husband did nothing about this immediately, because that is not his way. I put a towel under the cabinet door to avoid wrecking the hardwoods any more than they are already wrecked (most lately by his dog having an accident and then him not cleaning it up right away—I wasn’t around). Then my husband ground up my pestle in the garbage disposal. I had only used it once. It was in the sink, and he must have taken out the drain plug without putting the drainer in immediately. The pestle fell down into the garbage disposal at some point and then he turned it on. I know I didn’t do it, because I always have either the plug or the drainer in the sink to avoid extra garbage going down, because we compost most of our garbage. We only use the disposal when the sink gets clogged up with the particles that we haven’t captured in the drainer. This saves our septic field from filling up too quickly.

So, the pestle, which was made of porcelain, broke, and bits of it got into the disposal and broke it. Then the drain got plugged so that we couldn’t use the sink. I finally got on the phone and started to try to find plumbers, but it wasn’t easy, because they are all busy putting plumbing into the new houses that are going up in the area, from people moving out of Portland because it is too expensive to live in. My contractor told me I could call his plumber, but my husband finally went out to buy parts and fixed it himself. In Austin we went without a garbage disposal for years, during which he wouldn’t let me call a plumber (he was always going to fix it sometime), so this is an improvement.

We started back at our unpacking last week, because we finally got tired of waiting for our contractors to come back and clean up their junk in the basement. My husband spent a day tidying up the basement, and then we started hauling our bookcases out of the storage room. They can’t make the corner from the storage room to the big room downstairs, so we have to wheel them straight across the hall, through the guest room, out the sliding glass door, down to the other sliding glass door, across the wooden walkway for the sauna, and in the door to the big room. You can see why we wanted to wait for a day when it wasn’t raining. Then we had to clean them up and put them into position. We got all of a set of 10 cherry library shelves (with a crossbar and a ladder) out of the storage room. Unfortunately, they cannot occupy one wall like they did in Austin, nor can they have their top shelves added on. But we set up half of them on one wall, and will be setting up the other half on the other wall. We still have three black bookshelves to move out, and then the bookshelves will be done, and I can start unpacking the books.

Also in the shelving category are our DVD/CD shelves. My husband moved them up from the basement last week and attached them to the walls in my office. Then I unpacked all the DVDs and put them away (alphabetically, of course) and the CDs that were on the shelves before. We have hundreds more CDs, though, that used to be in a 300-CD jukebox that broke. We will have to figure out what to do with them. So much for jukeboxes. That one held up only a paltry 15 years. I still have the 5-CD player that my brother sent me for my birthday 20 years ago, and it works perfectly well. I also have my record player. Yes, I do, and my record albums, which I understand are becoming chic these days. We’ll have to figure out a place for those, too. I do play them sometimes.

Hillary watching birds

It took me a while to figure out what my cat was doing every morning, but I finally did. She stands just outside the bedroom drapes, which are closed in early morning, and watches the birds in the feeders. If it’s a cold morning, she sits directly on top of the heating vent you can see there in the floor. We put a feeder out months ago, but it is only in the past three weeks or so that we’ve seen any usage made of it. I thought it was too close to the house, since we hung it directly under the eaves outside our bedroom window, but that doesn’t bother the chickadees, and they love the suet that is next to the feeder. If I want to get other birds, I’ll have to hang another feeder farther from the house. Sometimes a few small gray birds are on the deck eating the seeds that the chickadees dropped. I think they are bush tits. We had tufted titmice in Austin that hung out with the chickadees, but here I have only seen these little gray birds. The chickadees here, by the way, are lots bigger than the ones that we had in Austin.

If you are waiting with bated breath to hear about my art class, I finished my flower last week, but I forgot to take a picture of it, as requested by Naomi. My flower is okay, but I think my sister’s is much more striking (although our instructor has labeled us the one who doesn’t follow instructions [my sister] and the one who does [me]). I think this is because my sister traced the outlines of her flower petals when the instructor told her not to. I will try to remember to take a picture of my flower today.

Now the instructor has us doing another exercise. The first one was interesting, but now that we have done real pictures, the exercises are boring. This one is drawing everyday objects from the basic shapes. That is, ice cream cones from cones and spheres, etc. I think the school is wise to alternate exercises with opportunities to draw pictures.

More snow and work around the house

Fat flakes of snow on Sunday
Fat flakes of snow on Sunday

We haven’t had any snow on the property for the last two weeks, so what was our surprise when we started to get big fat flakes of snow on Sunday morning. This is what the trees on our property looked like by late in the morning. If you look at the railing on the deck, you can see it is still snowing. I think my husband is already sick of the snow, but I love it. Of course, today it is raining. We still have snow, but it should be gone in a couple of days.

We have been dealing with contractors for months now. The first job we had done was to get new carpet into the basement in November. They took all the doors down in the basement, so we had to add a project to our regular contractor’s list to get the doors cut down and rehung. Then we had peace until January.

My semi-finished office
My semi-finished office

First our contractor, Dustin, came back and rehung the doors in time for our friend’s visit. Then later his guys laid a hearth for our new wood stove and ripped out some cheap and poorly installed shelving in my office and replaced it. It is unpainted yet, but much more sturdy.

Our stairwell so far
Our stairwell so far

The next project was to replace our scary spiral staircase. This staircase has such a tight wind and is so narrow that you can’t bring very much up or down the stairs with you, so we have been having to cart things clear around the house and down the lower driveway. It is also very slippery and not safe for a couple of geezers like me and my husband. It was pretty and left us a nice big living room, but we decided to replace it with a normal staircase. The stairs are installed, and today the sheet rock guys are here to fill in the sheet rock. They got here before 7:30! We are used to our regular contractor, who usually arrives between 8 and 8:30.

His ladder was too short
His ladder was too short

And, last Wednesday we finally got our wood stove installed! We have been burning stuff ever since. It is a lovely stove. It took the guys all day to install it, and one of them had to climb up into the attic from our bedroom, which is on one end of the house, and crawl all the way up inside our chalet roof ceiling to make the hole for the chimney.

So, that’s what has been going on lately. On Thursday the guy comes to install our new gutters, which have been leaking profusely. He is a nice guy, especially considering that our dog bit him when he came out to do the bid.