Visitors and Mt. St. Helens

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

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

Our guide in his favorite place in the park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eclipse eclipsed

Well, the story of our eclipse experience is a sad one. We just didn’t get our act together. I hadn’t really been paying attention to the stories on the news leading up to the eclipse, and my husband didn’t express an interest in going to see it in the zone of totality until they started reporting that no rooms were available and the traffic would be horrendous. So, after a brief discussion of what we could do, he decided not to go, figuring that the 96+% totality we were supposed to get would be good enough. He made this decision weeks ago.

This is what the height of the eclipse looked like from my phone. Pretty dramatic, but I never saw any blocking of the sun through the phone.

Last week, as we were leaving the grocery store, we saw eclipse glasses for sale, but we had already gone through the register and didn’t feel like going back. Then, when we returned to get some, they were gone.

On Sunday, the news reported that Lincoln City, in the path of totality on the coast, was actually more empty than usual because some fog was forecast. At that point, I looked up to see if they had hotel vacancies. They did, and I suggested to my husband that we bop down there and see the eclipse in the zone. It was only a 2 1/2-hour drive, although there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t take longer. I figured that we could just stay there an extra day, and who would argue with another opportunity to enjoy the beach?

My husband, that’s who. He didn’t want to “fight the traffic and crowds,” even though they had just reported that there were none. And actually, although they had some morning fog, it cleared up just in time for the eclipse. We could have gotten the glasses there on site, too.

A guy on the news recommended looking at the eclipse over your shoulder with your phone on selfie mode. I am here to tell you that doesn’t work. The day was beautifully clear, but the cell phone was all I had, besides trying to look at the eclipse by projecting it through a hole in a cracker, and the problem with the phone is that I never saw any of the actual blocking of the sun. When I pointed my phone up toward it, all I ever saw was a bright ball. That ball looked rather dramatic during the full part of the eclipse, but I didn’t actually see the sun’s light blocked, although it got dark here, like very early dawn.

Off in the distance, I heard my niece and her company yelling at the final display, so it must have been a good one. So, basically, we watched most of it on the TV, which we could have done from anywhere.

On the plus side, my niece and her husband brought the kids over on Friday, and they had a sauna with my husband. I stayed out to keep an eye on the kids. My great-niece is okay on her own, but not so her three-year-old brother. My husband reports that the sauna made his knees feel much better, so he has since been in it on his own. I still haven’t gone in yet, because the day that I was planning to try it, I didn’t feel well.

Aside from hanging some pictures and unpacking a few boxes of ornaments, I haven’t done much around the house lately. I seem to be finally slowing down, after all the work of preparation for the move, the move, and the unpacking and renovations. It only took me over a year!

Today is my great-niece’s first day to come with us to art class. I hope she likes it!

On hold and in the fog

Our new deck in the fog
Our new deck in the fog

Today it’s foggy, actually worse than it looks in this picture. And later today it’s supposed to snow. That seems hard to believe as it is well into the 40’s right now.

We’re on hold for a while in regard to the renovations. Monday the guys came by and finished the deck and made a wooden walkway that goes above the concrete sidewalk from our back door downstairs to the sauna (so people don’t get their feet dirty coming out of the sauna).

Drywall done but waiting for wood
Drywall done but waiting for wood

Dustin came in with a sample of hardwood, trying to match the wood in our living room to patch around the new stairway, but it was way off, much too dark and grainy. I looked up some hardwoods online and suggested he look at red oak, and when he came back later that afternoon, the red oak looked like it was going to match perfectly. He said he had taken a piece of wood with him to match, but it must have been one of the darker ones and the red oak had looked too light. This time he brought back a large sample showing several boards to compare it with the floor, and it had the same graininess and shading and color. I doubt if we’ll be able to tell the floor has been patched. The bad news is that it won’t come in for three weeks. I don’t know if the guys will be back before then or not. There are some small jobs they can work on, but maybe they prefer to come back when they can get as many things done as possible.

Tuesday, the guy came from the propane company. My husband ordered a propane-fueled generator, because he got tired of the power outages. Of course, we haven’t had one since he did that. Maybe this will prove to be our costly power outage prevention technique. Anyway, we have to get the propane tank installed. Then the guys will install the generator, and the electrician will come back and hook up the generator and the sauna. Then we can invite our relatives over and I can have my first-ever sauna! I don’t know if I’m looking forward to that or not, since I hate being hot. We are sure to see my niece and her husband over here, as they had been driving into Vancouver just to use a sauna. This was another of my husband’s projects, as he says the sauna really helps his back.

A clean counter at last! (Don't look at the ones in the background. I haven't done the dishes yet this morning.)
A clean counter at last! (Don’t look at the ones in the background. I haven’t done the dishes yet this morning.)

And good news. My husband finally cleared off a kitchen counter that has been loaded with his junk ever since we moved in. I cleared it off several times at the beginning, but it just got messed up again, so I finally gave up. This allowed me to polish and display my grandmother’s tea service. We’ll have to put away the silver for the house painting, but the kitchen looks so much neater now (even with dirty dishes in the background).