A beautiful, white Valentine’s Day surprise

This is what I woke to this morning. A view of the end of our deck with our covered patio furniture, our hummingbird feeder, and some nice trees

This is what I awoke to this beautiful Valentine’s Day morning. Lately, we have had some clear, cold days, gorgeous weather, but except for the temperature going down, I was inclined to think winter was over. My sister was remarking that her bulbs had already started to come up. Snow was forecast for this morning, but last night the weather guy over in Portland was saying that snow would reach pass levels, which usually means three or four thousand feet, not one thousand. But here it is, the thick, sticky kind. Unfortunately, it is already melting, and it’s supposed to be raining by ten. (But it is ten now, and it’s not, so maybe we’ll get to keep it a while. I wrote the sentence before around eight.)

At the edge of the orchard on the road. Our house is back in the distance up the hill. You can just barely see the roof line next to the large fir tree.

My husband got back out of bed a little while ago, and we walked down the driveway to take pictures of the snow. It was gorgeous. We saw one of our neighbor kids with a pickup out in his yard, slewing around on the course that they made for their ATV. He looked stuck. Later, he came down the road. We thought he was going to pass us, but he apparently came down just to see if we needed help.

Schools are cancelled up here in northern Clark County, and so is our long walk. But I am just going to have to go out in this again, if only to the end of the road.

Last week, my neighbor and I went back to Moulton Falls for our long walk. We went to another entrance to the park. Our original intention was to go about two miles along the river and then turn back, but we turned back a little earlier. I think we walked about 3.6 miles.

Our road. The creek to the right is not on our property, but it goes under the road just there and comes out in a little cataract on the other side, then goes into our pond.

This week the kit for my raised beds was delivered, and we made arrangements with our contractors to take down the top of the shed thing, what our contractor calls the carport. We’re leaving the side beams to fasten fencing to, as we’ll need something to protect the garden from the deer and other critters. So, I hope not to miss this year’s planting season. We also might add an extra area behind the garden for chickens, although now we’re talking about making the wolf pen smaller and putting chickens in there instead.

My husband went for his sleep assessment Monday night. I thought maybe I’d sleep better for having the whole bed to myself and Hillary, the cat, since he tends to take up more than his half. But I did not. I’m not sure if my lack of sleep was because he wasn’t in the house for the first time since we moved here or because of my assessment the next day. I am a poor sleeper, so anything out of the ordinary can keep me awake.

Yesterday was my assessment for the library job, and we are supposed to hear about the “next steps” by Friday. More on that later, after I hear whether I got the job.

Art class was after the assessment, and I made good progress on my bird. It’s possible I will finish my picture next week or the week after. When I got to class, I saw that someone had broken out both the front door and the window. They were covered with plywood. The receptionist said that someone broke in the back door late Monday night. From the camera, he appeared to be a homeless person. He didn’t steal anything, just sat in a chair for a while. Then he took the fire extinguisher and busted the door and window and left. Everyone in the school was shocked, but at least he didn’t do anything worse.

I’m looking forward to a lovely relaxed day with nowhere to go and nothing special to do. Maybe I’ll do the laundry a day early.

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The weather guys get it wrong

Our driveway at 8 AM Thursday. You can see the snow is still coming down.

Snow was forecast for Thursday night and all day Friday last week. When I got out of bed Thursday morning at 8 AM, I thought to myself, it is light out, good. That means it isn’t raining, and we can go for our walk. Then I opened the curtains to see that it was snowing. Even the more recent forecast for our area showed that it wouldn’t snow until 11 AM, and our local weather station in Portland was saying there would be snow at 5,000 feet and up. We are at almost exactly 1,000 feet.

At first, my neighbor seemed reluctant to walk in the snow, which tempted me much more than the usual drizzly weather, but after I suggested we go walking farther down in the valley, where there probably wasn’t any snow. She said, “Oh, let’s just go.” In any case, at the park by Moulton Falls where we chose to walk, there wasn’t any snow, just puddles. I guess it is just far enough lower in altitude that it didn’t get snowed on.

It was a gray day, and drippy, but it was a nice day to walk. There weren’t very many people in the park until we met a group of about 30 who were in a Portland hiking club for seniors. I told them we were the Yacolt hiking club for seniors.

The view from the walking bridge over the East Fork of the Lewis River in Moulton Falls Park

We didn’t pay any attention to how far we walked or how long, although we were getting a little tired on the way back. What was my surprise to find that we walked nearly five miles and were gone more than three hours!

Here is a picture I snapped on our way back to the car. You can see that it’s a gray, foggy day. We got wet but only had to walk through a few puddles.

Today we are going walking again, I hope. So far, the weather is gloomy but not raining.

Another thing that happened Thursday was that the chimney sweeps were due out. In the morning, I asked my husband whether we shouldn’t call them and tell them that we had snow, as often we have it when the valley containing the larger towns and cities doesn’t, and workers arrive to be unpleasantly surprised. He said rather scoffingly that they didn’t care about snow. Well, the first thing they said when they arrived was, “We can’t go out on your roof. We’ll have to come back.” Our roof is rather steep, after all. So, Friday they came back, and we have had our stove burning merrily ever since.

Also on Thursday I went with my sister to Weight Watchers. I belonged years ago and managed to lose quite a bit of weight, but never gained my goal weight and just maintained my weight for over a year, which got discouraging. As soon as I quit counting everything I ate, I gained all of it back and more. Since I had almost weighed the same for many years, that scared me into thinking I shouldn’t diet again. But since then I have gained a lot of weight, so I’m trying again. We’ll see how it goes.

On Saturday we had plans to meet my Portland friend by taking the train into the Gateway station. She was going to pick us up there and take us on a tour of Russian grocery stores. However, I felt sick all Friday night, and my husband woke up complaining of being sick, too, so I cancelled. I had a runny nose and sore throat from stuff going down it, and I was worried about the flu. However, after several doses of hot lemon and some Nyquil the next night, I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. My nose still runs sometimes, so I can only think it might be an allergy. Our expedition to Portland is postponed to this weekend.

On Sunday we were invited to my niece’s house for dinner to help consume the prime rib that came with the beef they buy in bulk. I think my niece and sister divide a half steer, and that feeds them beef for quite some time. Dinner was delicious. I brought roasted beans and asparagus.

Finally, last night we met our new art teacher. She is not Theresa, as I had feared, but a new teacher. So far, it’s difficult to tell how good a teacher she will be as she was just observing. I spent the evening trying to paint my bird. I felt fairly frustrated, as my bird has lots of brown markings on whitish feathers. I thought I was just painting blobs. It’s at times like this that require patience that I fall down on the job, having no patience at all.

Yes, we had a white Christmas

Here is our first snowfall in the early dawn. Our Christmas lights are still on and part of the sky is still dark.

That’s what we were dreaming of. It snowed late Friday night or early Saturday morning, and we drove out Saturday morning around 8 to do some errands in town. Just a mile or so from our house, there was no snow, while we had lots of the fluffy, wet kind that sticks to all the branches. I took a picture of our first snowfall in the early dawn. The rest of the day was sunny, but it never got warm enough to melt the snow we got that night.

On Saturday night, my sister came over to watch Game of Thrones. I didn’t figure out that since she was working the next three nights, she was looking at it as a little early Christmas, whereas we just acted like it was a normal night. We didn’t even have any eggnog to bust out. So, we watched Thrones and then she left, and the next morning, I opened the front door and found a three-foot fir tree on my front porch with a bow on it. An early Christmas gift from her! We will have to wait until the spring to plant it. It made me feel bad that we hadn’t even had a glass of Christmas cheer.

Then on Christmas Eve, it snowed all day. After doing my floors on Saturday afternoon, I was ready for Christmas, so I had a delightful day listening to my Christmas music on the stereo and reading before the fire. My husband was down in the basement all day wrapping presents and doing whatever it is that he does down there.

Sun on the snow the morning after Christmas

Christmas day was quiet. The kids were still all recovering from the flu, so we left them alone to have a quiet day by themselves. We exchanged gifts and spent the day watching Dr. Who reruns, running up to the Dr. Who Christmas special, which in my mind this year was not that good. I think it’s fine that the new Dr. Who is a woman, but frankly, I didn’t really like Peter Capaldi as the doctor especially since they killed off Clara. But my problem with the Christmas show is that it wasn’t that well written. The parts that were supposed to be funny were just marginally funny, and the parts that were supposed to be emotional just weren’t. So, we’ll see how things go with the new doctor. (My favorite is still David Tennant, although I grew to like Matt Smith.)

Our house in the snow. It is evening (well, 3:30, so starting to get dark). I took this from the road, and you can just barely see the pond (in the foreground) and the house (up at the top of the hill) through the trees.

Yesterday, it was sunny again, and so I loaded all the Christmas presents for the kids into the car and then left a note for my husband to bring them when he woke up from his nap and walked over to my niece’s house. Of course, by the time I started walking, the sun had pretty much gone. That seems to be the way it goes, that it would get cloudy just as I set out. It had rained on all the lovely snow the night before, so that there was a thick crust on top of the snow. I had crunched my way to the bird feeders that morning to fill them up, and the crust was almost thick enough to support my weight without me breaking through. It made interesting walking to my niece’s house as I couldn’t walk in the treads of the cars because they were icy. We had a nice visit with everyone, ate some of the marzipan candy my niece made, and exchanged gifts. My niece let the kids go outside for the first time since everyone got sick, and it was really funny. The sled went pretty far down the hill on that ice, and when they tried to make snow angels, they were just flopping around on top of the snow. My little nephew didn’t even break through the crust when he walked on it.

So, we had a quiet holiday, and we hope you all had a nice holiday, too! Next time I post it will be 2018! Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

 

Will it snow for Christmas?

This is the question everyone in my family is asking. Although practically the whole rest of the country has had some snow by now, including good old Austin, where it hardly ever snowed the 20 years I lived there, we have had none. Last year, it had been snowing since shortly after Thanksgiving by now. Of course, last year was an unusual winter for snow. We had lots more of it than normal.

I’ve been checking the forecast regularly, and they keep changing their mind. About a week ago, they were forecasting snow for today and Friday. The next day, no snow was forecast, the next day snow on Friday, and so on. Yesterday, no snow was forecast for the next 10 days. Today, snow is forecast for Friday, possibly Sunday, Tuesday, and possibly Friday again. So, we just might have a little snow on the ground on Monday (although it’s supposed to rain). We all wish for it except my husband.

My poor niece spent weeks preparing her house and cooking food for her big family Christmas dinner with her husband’s family, supposed to take place last Sunday. But the immediate family got sick with the flu. The only person in the house who escaped was my sister. So, my niece’s mother-in-law was picking up all the food that my niece prepared on Sunday to take over to her house. My niece and her family were disappointed, but they didn’t want to spread the germs.

We finished our Christmas decorations this week. The last thing that remained to do was for my husband to hook up an extension cord to some lights that have been strung on a tree out in the yard since before we bought the house. We had no idea they worked, but our tenant told us they did, so he lit them up last night.

Other than that, nothing significant is going on except at art class. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I switched classes after my sister quit art class so that I could get back my original art teacher, Sarah. But Sarah is clearly pregnant, and I asked her about her plans for taking time off from work. She is working through January. At first she told me she was coming back in a couple of months, but now she’s not planning on coming back for five or six months.

We discussed what I could do in the meantime if my last teacher was given her classes to cover. If it’s another teacher, I will try her out, but otherwise, I would rather get someone else. Sarah suggested taking a break while she is gone, but that was before she planned to be out so long. She also said I might have trouble getting back into the 4:15 Tuesday class. That doesn’t matter to me, though. If my sister decides to start back, I’ll have to change classes to one that is later on Tuesday or on Thursday anyway.

Here is the background of my bird. I learned how to shade for lighter and darker last night. I took this picture before I finished, so the blob by the twig at the bottom center looks different now.

So, for now, we’re waiting to see who substitutes for Sarah. I ran into another lady who was in my original class with her last night, because Sarah asked me to stay late for the next class. I was finally painting a picture, and she wanted me to finish painting the background while the paint was wet. So, I stayed for the class and saw this other lady. She originally quit our last class when Sarah stopped teaching it, so she was concerned about the same thing as I was. We got recommendations from Sarah about who would be a good teacher to move to temporarily in the art school.

And here is a photo of the background of my picture. I learned how to do the shading of the beautiful shade of purple we mixed.

Gigantic snowflakes and unexpected house painters

snow-huge
Yes, that’s a three-inch snowflake near the rail on the left.

There’s no way to show snow very well in a photo, so I tried to take a video for you of the snow that came down on Sunday afternoon. However, apparently my blog theme doesn’t support video. You can see the flakes in this photo, but you may not believe me when I tell you that at one point there were hundreds of snowflakes that were at least three inches in diameter. They looked like upside-down cocktail umbrellas falling from the sky. In the picture, you can see that one of them is bigger than the railing, but you can’t tell that most of them are that big. It was amazing.

On Monday, we had quite a surprise. The house painters showed up at 8 AM without warning. We knew they were going to start within a few weeks, but I had assumed that some other work would have to be done first. I also assumed that we would have warning. When I got to our contractor, he said he had told my husband last week. My husband has memory issues, so he never told me and then forgot. In fact, he has no recollection of being told, but I have no doubt he was.

Two walls of the kitchen are an unpleasant pinky red.
Two walls of the kitchen are an unpleasant pinky red.

The result was that we had to leap up and begin hauling things out of the rooms they wanted to start with instead of having time to put things in sensible places. Since they arrived at 8 AM, I still hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth, and since half of the toothbrush was promptly lost and the bathroom out of bounds, I still haven’t done that. This morning I was looking forward to taking a shower in the guest bathroom downstairs, but my shampoo is in the laundry room, where the cat is locked up for the day.

This violet wall is in the dining area--directly across from the red wall. Yes, it is.
This violet wall is in the dining area–directly across from the red wall. Yes, it is. Note also the charming use of green in the living room area.

In any case, despite the havoc, I am glad to be getting this done because I have been dreading the disruption. The house needs painting on the interior because of several reasons. The most prominent is the interesting color combinations throughout the house.

My niece and I discovered the secret to the myriad of colors in the house. We found a paint store color pallete, the kind that shows contrasting colors you can put together. The idea is that you pick a couple of these colors, one for your base color and one for accents. Unfortunately, the former owner of the house picked all of them. Luckily, she left most of the walls white. I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the finished rooms.

The other problem is that four years ago, after we bought the house and were preparing it for renters, my niece and I tried to match the white paint in the house so that we could paint out scuff marks. Although we found the color swatches for the house, the paint had faded or something. Our first attempt was a color much darker than the original white, something that you can’t tell until the paint dries. We tried again and got a closer match, but if you look carefully at the walls, you can see blotches.

So, right now our house is in even more havoc than usual, but the guys are making good progress. They finished the bathrooms yesterday, although we won’t be able to use our main bathroom until later today. They did the ceilings in the back part of the house, and made good progress on the guest bedroom. (The color my eight-year-old niece picked is a shocking turquoise. Years from now, someone is going to be making fun of me for my color choice.) Today they are working on our bedroom and will finish up the back rooms of the house except the laundry room. Tomorrow, I would imagine they’ll start on my office and the living room, kitchen, and dining area. But next week when I get back to you, they’ll be done! Exterior house painting is to come, but they can’t start that until the weather clears up and we have several dry days in a row.

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.

New Year in Washington

snow-lights
Snow on New Year’s Day

We have had an eventful holiday season, our first with family for several years. We spent Christmas Eve with my sister and my niece and her family. I made an English trifle dessert, my sister cooked ham, and my niece made veggies and salad. We had dinner, then later we all decorated Christmas cookies, even the three-year-old. We finished up with the kids opening a few presents. It was a lovely evening.

My husband and I spent Christmas day by ourselves as we usually do, just opening our presents and having a quiet dinner. So, that was nice, too.

Then we more or less went back to normal for the rest of the week, having no plans for New Year’s Eve. Well, we didn’t think we had plans, but then my youngest brother let my sister know that he and his family would be driving down from Seattle on New Year’s Eve. That morning, my husband and I had some errands in town, so we picked up a few things for the ravening hoards to eat, as we didn’t know the plans. There turned out not really to be any. We took all our food over to my niece’s house later in the day, and my brother and his family arrived in the late afternoon.

It began snowing shortly before they arrived, snowed all evening, and most of the next day. By morning, when I took the picture above, we had about four inches of snow. All in all, I think we got about six or seven. It was lovely stuff, soft and sticky. Later in the day, it got sunny for a while, so the snow was sparkling on the branches.

My brother and his wife ditched their kids the first night, so they were the first to inaugurate our new guest suite, which isn’t totally put together yet (the doors are off all the rooms) but is good enough since they were downstairs and we were upstairs. Coming back from my niece’s house around midnight, we weren’t sure we were going to make it up our steep driveway, and we had to make several attempts, so my brother started putting his chains on his tires around 1 AM after seeing the house and visiting for a while. We all (except my husband) stayed up until 3 AM, something I am no longer used to. My husband and I were up earlyish the next day, but they were not. A good time was had by all, at least until the next morning.

We woke to lots of beautiful snow. The kids stayed out almost all afternoon building snow men and snow igloos, having snowball fights, and sledding. The adults went in and out. I hit my nephew with a few snowballs, but unfortunately my choice was between warm but slippery Uggs or my waterproof, nonslip, but not that warm muck boots. I chose the muck boots and had to go inside after a while, so I sat by the fire with my sister.

The second night, my brother’s entire family came to stay. They can be quite the active group, so I was a little worried, but actually they were great. The kids got their Christmas presents from us, and then we all watched an old movie on TV and had popcorn. Later, my sister-in-law and her oldest daughter and I stayed up talking until about midnight, but everyone else went to bed when the movie was over.

It was such a nice holiday. My husband and I, as I keep saying, haven’t living among family for years, my husband since he moved down to Texas to be with me, and me since the 1980’s. So far, our nearness to our family has been perfect. We get support and company without anyone feeling like we’re imposing on them.

Happy New Year to you all.