Snowpocalypse!

I took this picture on Sunday, when we still had lots of snow and it was sunny. Everything was sparkling. It was beautiful. The picture doesn’t convey how the light sparkled off the branches. Too bad.

I don’t know if the media has dubbed our recent storm snowpocalypse or if it was one of my funny brothers, but that’s what our family has been calling it. After the relatively modest snowfall I reported on last week, the snow began falling on Friday evening. Within an hour we had about an inch. It snowed all night long, and we awakened on Saturday morning to what looked like at least a half foot of snow! The official measurement for our area was three inches, but it was at least six inches deep on our driveway.

All our Saturday activities were cancelled, and aside from taking Luke out into the snow, where he had fun playing, we stayed home by the fire. I tried to help someone who had slid off the road near our pond, but I wasn’t able to get him out. I was trying to instruct him on rocking his truck, but he couldn’t do it. I went back up to the house when he decided to walk in to the house he was visiting and get help. It was our neighbor having a Native American ceremony, so there were lots of people there to help him, and later on I saw that the truck was gone.

It continued to snow on and off for the next couple days. Sunday was bright and sunny with little melting, but the snow sparkled in the sun. Then Sunday afternoon it started raining and then snowing and then raining again.

On Monday morning, we ventured out for the first time, to take Luke to Puppy Play and Train. We hadn’t plowed or shoveled our driveway, and our drive down the driveway was interesting. Because it had rained on top of snow but the snow wasn’t gone, it was slippery on our little road in front and on the first couple of main roads, but once we crossed the river on our way to Battle Ground, the roads were suddenly clear. We ran some errands and had breakfast, then picked Luke back up and drove home. By then, it had been raining all morning, but the snow was still on the roads up in our part of the county, so it was much more slippery. We finally failed at driving back up our driveway, which has a good slope at the start, probably more than 30 degrees. We ended up slightly off the driveway and had to walk up it. Later, though, after it had rained a while more, Wayne took the shovel down and got the car out. Yesterday it was rainy, but it is a mark of how much snow we got that we still have lots. Today it’s supposed to stop raining and become partly sunny.

The Lewis River from the Moulton Falls bridge after our first snowfall on Tuesday. If you look closely at the right middle of the picture, you can see a shower of snow falling from a tree.

To return to the earlier part of the week, last Wednesday my hiking friends and I took our default hike when it is rainy or slippery to Moulton Falls Park. It was a very cold day, much colder than this week, and we had that snowfall the day before. We went to the park because we were afraid of the footing, and we were very glad we did. It was so beautiful! It was a sunny day, the river was high, and the snow was showering down off the treetops into the river in lovely falls. We met several people there, and everyone was talking about what a nice day it was. My numb fingers turned warm after a few minutes of hiking. To read more about this hike, see my post on Fat Girls.

In art class, I got to do a fun thing. I had painted my buildings, and we wanted to do a glaze on the right side that would put everything in shadow. I think the result looks really nice. This week I’ll probably go on putting details into the other buildings, particularly the ones in shadow.

This weekend, my friend Deb and I had tickets to a play at the Magenta Theater, a Vancouver community theater that I had seen a poster for at art school. However, with snowpocalypse, neither of us felt like we could venture in for the show, although it was not cancelled. They nicely rescheduled our tickets for this coming Saturday. The play is a Jeeves and Wooster, which should be fun.

On the not so nice side, we got news of an unexpected tax amount that we owe the IRS. It’s a long story, but the sore point for me is that I feel we were robbed in the first place. We are being taxed on an amount of money we never received, and the taxes are going to be huge. It has to do with an insurance policy my husband took out twenty years before we were even married. So, on Monday we had to go down to our credit union and see about a loan. That’s depressing, because we were pretty much out of debt except for our car loan and some incidental credit card charges. Sigh. At least the credit union lady was very helpful and nice.

After we learned about that, we tried to cancel our deal to get a new roof, one that only Wayne thought we needed. However, they told us we would have to pay 40% of the cost if we cancelled, which is just ridiculous, especially considering they already had the shingles in stock. So, aside from the snow, it wasn’t that nice of a week, and we are getting a roof that I didn’t think was necessary to begin with.

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It finally snowed!

Here’s a view of our orchard on Tuesday morning. The road off to the left is the single-lane gravel road into our neighborhood.

All week we had snow forecast, and each day they put if off for a couple days later. Finally, on Sunday afternoon we had a little snow, and by Monday some had accumulated in blotches. But when we awakened on Tuesday, we had the winter wonderland that seems to be almost the default when we have snow here. Luke had never seen snow before, and he humped his back and sort of hopped around in it like a demented rabbit.  He got pretty wild, in fact. I think that meant he enjoyed it.

Luke running around by the pond

I took him around the property, and I intended to walk him down to my niece, Katrina’s, house, since I knew the kids had a snow day. However, when we went out, I realized he had his regular collar on, not his prong collar. He is off-leash around our property but not allowed on the road without his leash. But I can’t handle him on a leash without his prong collar as he is very strong, and he pulls.

Later on that day, Luke and I drove over to visit the kids. They were delighted and threw on their outdoor clothing. Luke was bouncing around in the snow so much that when the youngest went out, he bounced into him and knocked him over. However, I made the mistake of trying to go inside the house to visit with my niece. Instead of playing with the kids, he stood by the front door and looked in. This is a problem with him. We can’t let him out and have him occupy himself. He keeps waiting for me or Wayne to come out. Once one of us is out, then he occupies himself very well, but he wants company. We tried to see if he would run off and play with the kids, but I finally had to go out with him, and by then the kids were doing their own thing.

Last Wednesday, my sister and one of my hiking buddies and I tried to go for an easy hike out in the Yacolt Burn Forest. However, the signage at the trailhead was confusing, and we ended up on the wrong trail. The one we went on was mostly uphill, but luckily it had lots of switchbacks, which made it easier for me than if it had just been straight uphill. I could still have gone on when we had to turn back, because our friend had a vet appointment that afternoon. It was a nice day, and we saw some good views. If you’re interested in it, you can read about it on Fat Girls. When we got back was when we realized that the trail was actually closed for construction, but we didn’t notice anything going on while we were on the trail.

In art class, I started putting details on the buildings in my painting while my sister began working on her first oil painting. She says the medium is very different from acrylic, and I know she sometimes finds it frustrating. But she says she thinks she’s going to like it.

And that’s about it except that my niece, Áine, received her first acceptance to college yesterday. Yay!

A missing bag, a poltergeist, and snow

Our New Year’s guests left Wednesday to drive down to Oregon, and Wednesday night they texted me a picture of two similar bags, saying, “Is the one on the right yours? You can see they are identical, and we took it by mistake.” I was appalled to see it was my art bag, and okay, the bags were the same colors, but mine had a whopping great STC logo on the front. I’m afraid I got a bit testy with them, but I was wondering what I was going to do the next night, which was art class. Also, and everyone in my art class agreed with me, my art supplies are the one thing I don’t want someone messing with. Luckily, I had mixed a lot of paint colors for what I was working on the week before, and my brush roll was still in my office, so I had my brushes and palette knife. My sister was offering to let me use her paints, but since she had just bought her oil kit and not used it yet, I was relieved to only have to borrow a sheet of palette paper from her.

The other thing was that after Christmas I had looked around for a new art box, because the one I had was stuffed to the gills. The art box the art school gives you is exactly big enough for what you get with it plus a few more tubes of paint. Over the past year that I’ve been painting, I’ve bought a few colors at my various teachers’ suggestion, and I put in all the colors from my old art box that weren’t duplicates. So, I can barely get my box shut, plus my medium leaked out into it months ago, and it is coated inside with sticky stuff. I now keep my medium at the art school. (That’s exactly what happened to my old art box, which I opened up to find that all the paints were stuck to the bottom and each other.)

My new art box. Some of the reviews complained that the box hinges didn’t hold. I hope that won’t be the case, as it really wouldn’t be nice to have my paints fall all over the floor. It is definitely more cheaply made than the old, smaller box of the same brand that I already had. This one, however, has space for even more tubes of paint

So, I had looked around at art kits (the one that was bigger was very expensive), tool boxes, and fishing tackle boxes looking for one that opened up in tiers, like all tool boxes used to, but apparently don’t anymore. The fishing tackle boxes do, but their slots are too small for paint tubes. And I wanted tiers so I could sort my paints by color rather than just dumping them into the bottom of the box. I finally ended up buying a new ArtBin that is larger than the old one I have had for 20 years. That one wasn’t big enough for some of my brushes, so they got bent. The new one, alas, while the perfect size, is more cheesily made than the old one, which uses metal for the risers instead of plastic and has metal hinges instead of plastic ones. I had been excited that it was due to arrive the day of my art class, and I’d been hoping to switch everything over and take it to class, but of course, I had no supplies when it arrived. I got my art bag back on Friday when my brother and family were on the way back up to Seattle, and now I have all my supplies in my new box.

Friday night, we were startled by a rap on the door after dark. There was something odd about it, since we didn’t hear the UPS truck, and we don’t usually get people at the door that we don’t know are coming, so Wayne told me not to answer until he got there. When we opened the door, no one was there. Wayne hadn’t heard it (he is deaf, so of course, nothing he doesn’t hear actually happens), so he was trying to make out that nothing had happened because Luke didn’t bark. Then it came again. We didn’t catch the little brats, but both the kids next door and the kids across the road were outside playing. We could hear them. Wayne, though, said that maybe Nadia, my niece who is 11, had left her poltergeist here, because they are usually associated with girls that age. (For those who don’t know Wayne, that was a joke.) It didn’t come again, so I figure there were two kids and each one had to take his or her turn. I just didn’t think we would have to deal with stuff like that out in the country. It was a little unnerving because, although we aren’t so far into the country that we don’t have neighbors, they would have had to come across our fence or at least come up our long drive or across our orchard to do it. (Just to carry the theme a little farther, though, our valley is notoriously haunted, although I don’t think that rapping on doors is the usual manifestation.)

Everything is returning to normal schedule-wise. Luke had his first adult class of the month on Saturday and did very well. Then we went Monday to the first Relationship Class. This is the one that they say the dog must be very obedient to take, so I was a little worried about Luke, as he usually does well in class, but is a little imp at home sometimes. He actually seemed to do very well at first, better than some of the other dogs who have been going there a while, but then they did a long exercise where the dogs had to be in a down until it was their turn to either come when called or weave through all the other dogs. He was staying down pretty well, but he goes down for treats, and I had forgotten to bring any. A few other dogs got back up, and one had to have someone stand on his leash. However, after about ten minutes, Luke began popping up regularly. When he saw I didn’t have any treats, he was reluctant to go back down. Finally, I borrowed some, but then I think he was getting up just to get more treats. One of the trainers came over and stood on his leash, which made him go frantic. When we originally trained him to go down, you do it by standing on their leashes, and it made him scream. Our original trainer and I were unable to get him to go down that way, and I had to resort to luring him down. It was a mistake not to come to class without treats, but on the other hand, at some point he’s not supposed to need any to do what he’s told. The other trainer said she would work with him on his downs today while he is at Puppy Play and Train.

After that was a pack walk. About a third of the class left, and the rest went on the walk. It just about killed me. I don’t know what distance we walked, but it wasn’t the distance so much as the pace. I am a slow walker. When I pack walk with the women from Luke’s puppy class, I have to walk faster than normal or they have to stop and wait for me, and we are all retired women. These people were younger, and they weren’t trying to walk fast, but they were going about twice as fast as I usually walk. I tried to keep up with them on the way there, but on the way back, I just went at my own pace and was way behind. The nice trainer who said she would work with Luke stayed back with me, and she had her son in a stroller. She even traded Luke for the stroller for a while, because having my arms on something made my back and shoulders feel better. I sometimes have a problem when I am walking for a long time where they hurt, presumably just from the weight of my shoulders and arms. I have broad shoulders that sometimes seem too broad for my body.

So, now I have to consider whether I want to do that again. I was aching all over by the time we got home. Luke was worn out, too. The walk was supposed to last an hour. That’s about how long we take on our mini pack walks, but we stop and gab part of the time. This walk actually lasted about an hour and a quarter. I just measured the distance we went, and it was three miles, with a break in the middle for rest and exercises, so not so far, but fast for me. Many of our hikes are longer, but one of my hiking companions is even slower than I am, and we never go faster than the slowest person.

As for the weather, it has been rainy and cold most days, with an occasional clear, colder day. Snow was not forecast on Sunday, but for about half an hour on Sunday afternoon, we got some. It didn’t accumulate, but at least we saw some coming down. At least we had that little bit if we don’t get any more this year. Snow was forecast for Monday, but we did not get any, and none is forecast for the next 10 days. It’s a big contrast to our past two winters.

Today, I am going on a hike for the first time in over a month. One of my hiking partners has been in Europe for the past month. The other one ended up substitute teaching every week but one, and that week she got sick. One of them can go today, though, so that will be good. I’ll be getting some exercise this week, what with the pack walk on Monday, the hike today, and another mini pack walk scheduled for Thursday.

 

Yep, it snowed

Starting with the weather report, after some beautiful days earlier in the week, it snowed on Friday and Saturday. We just had a dusting of snow on Friday, but on Friday night to Saturday morning we must have had at least two inches. That didn’t stop my niece and her husband from coming over to put together my raised bed kit that day. They worked in the garage while I baby sat their kids inside. They didn’t want our help because they said they were so good at putting kits together by themselves. They are so sweet to us.

My niece and her husband building my raised beds. Note the snow.

We had a debate about exactly where to place the beds. The general placement was always to put it where the old shed thing used to be at the edge of the driveway. But half of that space was covered by patio bricks. Originally, we planned to remove all the patio bricks except those down the aisle of the beds, but my husband thought we could put it right on the bricks. We also had a debate about which direction to face it, because the bricks were situated perfectly for the beds to go sideways on them, but I wanted to maximize their exposure to sunlight, which meant putting them the other way. However, my niece and her husband thought the bricks weren’t level enough, which would put pressure on odd points of the beds. So, we put the beds behind the patio bricks directly on the bed of gravel, facing the way I wanted them to go and putting them even more centered into the space with the most sunlight, which leaves a nice patio in front for a couple of chairs.

My completed raised beds with the patio in front

Anyway, I think my beds look beautiful. They are solid cedar. I have already ordered the garden mix dirt to be delivered to my house tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be shoveling for the rest of the week, which is supposed to be clear.

For our walk this week, we tried a trail through the Salmon-Morgan Creeks Natural Area. To our surprise, this area was smack dab in the middle of a rather prosperous suburban development. However, once you got into the thick cedar forest, there was almost no trace of the houses except for a few glimpses. The cedar forest was beautiful. The trail, although nicely kept in some places, was very muddy in other places. I had to share my neighbor’s hiking poles again to keep from falling down, which was enough to make me order some of my own as soon as we got home. That trail wasn’t very long. It was supposedly only 1.3 miles. We originally planned to walk it twice, but it took so long to navigate the mud that we did not.

In art class, I finished working on the sky for my landscape and began working on the sea. The class seems to be getting too full of children, but I know from experience that the number of children varies wildly from time to time. Next week is spring break, so there will probably be hardly any children there.

 

We think it’s spring, but maybe not

I’ll start out by telling you about something I forgot from last week. It was a date with my nine-year-old great niece for a sleepover in “her” bedroom. She wanted to bake, and although this did not accord with my Weight Watchers regime, we made mug cakes and peach pie. We started with the peach pie, which she claimed she had never had. I had her help with every step, including making a lattice top, to show her how easy it is. We used peaches that I bought last summer and froze. Then while it was baking, we made the mug cakes. Since she made me one, I of course had to eat it, and then we all had pie. I just had a narrow slice of it, no more than an inch wide, although it pained me to do so, and then we sent it home with her the next day (although by then my husband and great niece had eaten half of it). We finished off the evening with some brisk games of dominoes.

By the way, I joined Weight Watchers with my sister, and we are both doing well. I have lost more than 15 pounds since late January.

For our walk last week, my neighbor and I used the Trails app to try to find a loop around Battle Ground Lake. There were two, actually, but the start of the outer loop was hard to find, so we inadvertently ended up on the inner loop. The outer loop is actually the one that is reviewed in the app as fit for walking dogs and taking strollers. The inner loop is a forest path with lots of ups and downs and rough terrain that went right along the lake. That would have been okay except it was very wet. Almost the first thing I did was slip in the mud and fall down. I don’t do down very well, usually, but we had my neighbor’s hiking sticks, and that helped me get back up. Later, we had to crawl under some trees that had fallen across the path. Altogether, it was way more rough than I was used to, still being a beginning hiker. As we exited the loop, we came upon the other end of the outer loop, with people with their strollers walking along! According to the app, we walked (climbed, crawled) about 2.5 miles.

This could get interesting, because while I primarily care about getting more exercise, my neighbor used to be a hearty outdoors woman and sees us eventually hiking rugged paths in the Gorge. (The kind of paths I never hiked even when I was young and slim and fearless, although I probably would have liked to, I just never did.) Although I would like to hike in the Gorge, I have much more modest goals in mind. When I commented on the rough path, she said, “If we are going to hike in the Gorge, we’ll have to hike paths like that.” She already told me one story about being a speed hiker and how one time she was hiking so quickly in Yosemite that she hiked right past a bear without seeing it. Luckily, she has since slowed down to look at the scenery.

Thursday is the day for our Weight Watchers meeting, and my sister and I usually celebrate afterwards by going out to eat. We didn’t think we would be going that night, because my sister had to work after the meeting. But she got put on standby during the meeting, so we went to this really wonderful Greek restaurant in Battle Ground called George’s Molón Lavé. I had moussaka (not having had any for years) and my sister had the delicious lamb chops that I enjoyed the first time my husband and I went. All things considered, I vote for the lamb chops.

On Friday, I happened to ask my sister if she wanted to go in to the Crafts Warehouse with me, where I needed to buy a frame for my bird painting (my husband decided we should frame it—now I just need to find somewhere insignificant to hang it) and some linseed oil. She said it was her errand day, so we spent the entire day out. We bought dirt, chicken feed, stuff at Costco, veggies and fruit at Chuck’s, and linseed oil and a frame. At the art store she picked up some kits, because she has art class with my great niece every week and likes to do different things.

Saturday was very busy. First, I went with my sister and my niece to the Japanese nursery in Woodland. They bought several trees and some tropical plants for a terrarium for my great nephew’s new pet corn snake. (The kids’ pets tend to be unusual, because their mother is severely allergic to cats and dogs. They have a lizard, a snake, and two ferrets.) I bought a bare roots lilac bush to replace the one my husband mowed over last spring and a plum tree for our orchard.

Later in the day, we all (except my husband, the party pooper), went to see A Wrinkle in Time. It was fairly good, although much more of a kid’s movie than one for an adult. But it was for a particular age range of kids, as we found when my four-year-old great nephew ended up having to be taken out of the theater by his dad. His dad later said that he said, “I wish this movie was over!” Of course, it was full length, so it’s also probably the first full-length movie he’s ever seen, his previous experience being with animated movies, which are usually shorter. My great niece, however, thought it was wonderful although “not as good as the book.”

One thing that struck me right away, although my memory of the book is not very good, was that they went a long way to make the movie inclusive, even having Charles Wallace be adopted just so he could be oriental (he wasn’t adopted in the book, was he?), but the setting was Southern California all the way. Hollywood, big news flash—the entire population of the United States does not live in suburban Southern California. My recollection, which could be faulty, places the original story in New England. But I DO remember that they lived out in the country. One of the first things my great niece said when she came out was “They lived on a hill way out in the country. That wasn’t right.” So, if you want to be inclusive, Hollywood, how about including a few other parts of the country in your kid’s movies?

My new little lilac bush next to the small daffodils. In the top right corner of the picture is the very start of the pond. You probably can’t tell from this photo that the lilac is at the edge of a steep slope. Over on the top left are the stairs that lead from the lower drive down to the lower orchard.

Sunday was the start of a run of beautiful cool but sunny days. I went out and planted my bare roots lilac bush, trying to choose a place where my husband was unlikely to run over it with the lawnmower. I chose to put it next to the daffodils near the lower drive on the edge of the slope that goes down to the wolf pen and the pond. That little swath of land next to the sidewalk and drive (outside the lower level of the house) gets more sun than the orchard, because my daffodils are up there and the ones in the orchard are still hiding their flowers.

Over the last few days, we have planted some more trees (two blue spruces and a maple tree) and cleared off the area where my raised beds are going to go. I hope to begin putting them together soon. My niece said she thought her husband could help on the weekend, but they are very busy, so I would rather start doing it than wait for their help.

In art class, I finished tracing my landscape and spent the class painting sky and clouds.

But what does my title to this post mean? It means snow is forecast for Friday and Saturday. The forecast has been pretty steady, too. Over the winter, we often had snow forecast for a week later only to have it turn to a forecast of rain by the time the day came. But for the last week, the forecast has been snow on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and only today did it change to just Friday and Saturday. The Portland forecast says snow at 1500 feet and higher, and we are at 1000, but the local forecast on my phone is usually more accurate for us than the one from Portland. We’ll see.

 

 

Getting back to normal

Earlier last week, it was so snowy that a few of my regularly scheduled activities were cancelled or I didn’t go. By Friday, however, the roads were almost back to normal. We dropped my sister off in town to pick up her car at the shop and then drove to the airport to pick up my great niece and her father from their trip to Disneyland. She was still flushed with excitement. They had a great time. When we got them home, my niece had just arrived back from the water park, where she took my great nephew.

Here is my bird from back last year with just the first background layer.

When I arrived at their house the next morning to pick up my great niece for tai kwan do as usual, though, she was in her pajamas. Everyone had forgotten, so she had to rush to get ready.

That afternoon, the Northwood Pub in Battle Ground had its annual Crab Feast. We all went. We love crab. It was a good time. They had a band there playing some kind of old fashioned music. Usually live music bothers my husband, who has tinnitus, but this wasn’t as loud. We enjoyed it.

My neighbor and I rescheduled our walk from Wednesday to Tuesday. We walked roughly four miles at Moulton Falls Park. It was a gorgeous day, one of the few sunny days we have had all winter. There was no snow left in the park, although we still have some in patches around our yard and in the orchard.

Here is my finished bird.

I got back about a half hour before it was time to leave for my art class. In art class, I finally finished my picture! My instructor had me dabbing at this and that all during the class time until nearly the end. Then she told me to sign it, which is the indication that it is done. Here’s a photo of it. I believe the last time I showed it, I had just finished the first coating of the background, which was purple. You can see that coating that purple with a warm brown glaze turned it a beautiful gray. I would never have expected it, which tells me I have a lot to learn about colors.

 

Quite the snowy week

I have no pictures for you today, unless you want to see our slushy, icy driveway. We had a week of snow almost every day, for a total of 10 inches by Wednesday or Thursday. Last Wednesday, we were able to get out to do our errands and found that once we came down out of the hills, the roads weren’t bad. But we kept put after that until Saturday morning, when we went to pick up my great niece for her tai kwan do class. An interesting difference between here and Michigan, where I grew up, is that people don’t shovel their driveways here. They just wait for the snow to melt. Well, in this case, the snow hasn’t quite melted yet, and getting up the hill in our driveway can be quite an adventure. You need a running start. When we encountered my niece’s huge but unshoveled driveway, we did a little skidding around trying to get back out. It was clear that only one car had driven down their driveway the whole time, which would have been my sister’s, and her tracks were filled with about three inches of snow. My niece and her husband were raised in California and don’t feel comfortable driving in snow, even though her husband has studded snow tires. He has to, because of his work as an appraiser.

My sister, in fact, was stranded in Portland for part of the week, as that’s where she works as a maternity nurse on the night shift. She spent the day at a coworker’s house and didn’t come home until Friday. On Saturday, she showed up at our house and told us that she had been on the way here when she pulled over on our one-lane road to make room for a truck and her car just slid off the road into the ditch. The truck driver, one of our neighbors, didn’t even stop to help. We went down and helped her get her car out of the ditch, at which point she parked it in our orchard entrance and said she was leaving it there until the snow melted. Then she walked home. She didn’t come get it until Monday afternoon.

We already had a plan for handling a trip out of town by my niece’s husband and great niece. As a surprise, my great niece’s father was taking her to Disneyland this week. Her little brother was staying home with my niece, who was going to take him to a nearby resort that has an indoor water park, as they had heard from her husband’s sister that their own children, who are about the same ages, had problems because the younger boy wasn’t old enough to go on lots of the rides. Anyway, the original plan was for them to leave my great nephew with us on Tuesday morning to babysit while my niece took the others to the airport, so that she could have the car with studded snow tires, since more snow is forecast. Then, we are picking them up at the airport on Friday so that my niece doesn’t have to hurry back from the resort.

However, we got an early wake-up call from my niece’s husband that day. My niece had been up all night with stomach pains. Could we drive them to the airport? I had to throw on my clothes and we were at their house in a half hour. All was well, though, and we got them to the airport on time. My great niece was really excited to learn where she was going, as it was a secret until they were on their way to the airport. She won’t miss any school, as she goes to school on Mondays and Thursdays, and Thursday is a teacher training day or something. She’ll just miss a few days of lessons with her mother.

Last night I went to art class again. I thought about taking a picture of my painting, as it is almost done. But I decided to wait until it was finished. I always enjoy my class and was upset with myself last week for not going. It had been snowing all day up here, which was why I decided not to go, but it was so much worse later in the week that I realized I could have gone. The problem is the ride back, which is all along two-lane country roads at night.  I was worried it would be slippery. But I made that trip last night with no problems.

I finally heard about the library job, and I did not make the cut for the interviews. I’m hoping this means that they had internal folks in mind for the job rather than they thought I flunked the assessment. The assessment I took was quite a strange one. The first part was sorting a cart of books, which I did in a weird way (I took the books off the cart, sorted them, and put them back on) but it was correct, which I think was the point. The second part was an easy computer test, where I had to look up a URL and then enter in information about a person from a sheet of paper. Then I had to look up information about a book that wasn’t yet published.

The third part was a written test, and it had its problems. Although by and large it was easy, almost a dumb guy test, it wasn’t well constructed. The first question was to identify a passage showing alliteration. As I have two degrees in English, I know perfectly well what alliteration is, but there was no good example of alliteration in the test. There was an example of assonance (some people confuse the two), and there were two passages with exactly two repetitions of a consonant apiece. The other choice was just a throw-in. I had no idea which choice they considered the “correct” answer. Then there were a few other questions where the answer was ambiguous, and in one case, I picked two answers and explained why, which for some people would mean I got it wrong. It depends upon how literal the person is who was grading the test. I think I overthought some of the answers. The final part was a bunch of synopses of articles, where I had to indicate which article would be the place where I would refer a patron for information. That part was easy. Oh well.

Lately, I have been noticing a large bird around our house that looks a lot like a robin but isn’t. It has much more of a golden orange tummy and some more speckled coloring than a robin does. I finally looked it up, and it is a varied thrush. We don’t have any cardinals here, and I miss them.

And that brings me to the little squirrel and the apple. We had a wizened apple sitting around here, and instead of putting it in the composter, I decided to leave it out for the birds. So, I took it out by the bird feeder. But it had been a snowy couple of days, and when I dropped it, it made a hole in the snow and disappeared. I figured someone would find it sometime.

Two days later, I was looking out the window and I saw a small squirrel with its head in the snow. Sure enough, it came tugging that apple out of the snow. The apple was at the edge of our driveway, which is where there is a slope up to some woods that our neighbors own. He began tugging the apple up the slope. He got about halfway, the apple was about as big as he was, when he lost his grip and the apple rolled down the slope. He went off and did something else, but a little later, I saw him pulling that apple up the slope again. I didn’t know what he was going to do, because the slope gets steeper the higher it goes, but he cleverly ate some pieces out of the apple and then pulled it into a rocky cavity about halfway up that is the top part of a water feature on the landscaped slope. That was all for him and the apple until the next day.

The next day, I saw that the apple was sitting halfway up the slope again. I think another squirrel or a raccoon or large bird might have stolen the little guy’s apple. Sure enough, he came out again, and started tugging the apple up the slope. This time, because we’d had a mixture of rain and snow, when he lost his grip and the apple rolled down the hill, it got covered with snow like it does when you roll snow for a snowman. Finally, he stopped tugging on it, and I saw that he was disappearing and coming back repeatedly. I realized that he had made holes in the snow where a big blob indicates our lavender bush, and he was popped in and out from under the bush. He was biting off pieces of the apple and carrying them through the snow under the lavender. After a little while, he disappeared with the rest of the apple into the lavender bush.

The only other thing I have to tell you this week is going to sound silly. It’s about my cat, Hillary (named after Sir Edmund Hillary, in case you were wondering). Last night we were watching a TV program that’s sort of a cross between a travel and photography program. The host is a photographer who travels to remote areas of the world to take pictures, and while he tells about the places he travels to, he also gives tips about how he’s setting up his shots. Anyway, Hillary started watching TV. She does this sometimes but usually only for a minute or two. This program was about Alaska and they were showing grizzly bears. Now I can understand her getting interested in birds, which they also showed, but I don’t really understand why she would be interested in bears. She was clearly getting excited at times, and she would look at the edges and top of the TV screen as if she was expecting the bear to emerge from the side or top of the television when it got to the edge of the screen. She watched TV for at least fifteen minutes before she lost interest. I find that truly amazing.