Sick again

Here is part of my first batch of crocuses.

I noticed some black and white ducks on our pond earlier this week, but they don’t seem to have stayed. I also started looking for signs of spring in my orchard, because I noticed that lots and lots of bulbs were coming up at Mark and Nancy’s. I see that I have daffodil stalks up around most of the bases of my trees, but I didn’t see any flowers until Monday, when I noticed a few snowdrops. (I keep forgetting I planted snowdrops my first year here, and they are so small I can hardly notice them.) Then, on Tuesday, suddenly some of my crocuses were up. They came up so quickly and there were so many more stalks without flowers yet that this morning, I thought there would be twice as many, but I went out early and maybe they need some more sunshine, because they looked about the same.

I am afraid some things may be coming up a bit too early, because there still could be some freezing weather this month, although so far it doesn’t look like it. It rained all this week except Sunday and Monday, which were gorgeous. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy the sunshine much because I had another cold. Since I moved to Washington, I’ve only been sick with the flu one time, my first year here, as opposed to more than once a winter all my years in Austin. And I haven’t had any colds or anything else wrong until this winter, when I had two colds. I was beginning to think that I had improved my health so much that that’s why I wasn’t getting sick, but maybe I’ve just been lucky. Or, it could be that the amount of time we spend in the library lately is exposing me to a lot more germs, since on Tuesdays (unless there’s a hike) and Thursdays, we do our errands and then go to the library until it’s time to pick up Luke at Play and Train. Also, it’s true that we’ve missed most of our hiking weeks since December and no one has been able to pack walk with me and Luke, so the lack of accustomed exercise might have something to do with it. I need to get my act back in gear. But, in fact, the timing of getting sick coincides with Mark’s birthday party, so I guess perhaps someone there gave me the cold.

Not much else to say this week since I spent half of it in bed, or as close to it as you can when you have to take your dog out every couple of hours. It’s true that he has been a bit relentless with me, scratching on the bedroom door when I’m trying to sleep in, and so on.

The tale of my pink shirt

Last Wednesday for my hike it was chilly, so I wore a pink thermal shirt that I’ve had for some years. It’s a favorite shirt that I wear many times during the cold falls, winters, and springs here. I wore a lightweight long-sleeved shirt underneath it, and my rain jacket on top, as it was supposed to rain. My neighbor and I went to Whipple Creek Park, where it got more and more humid, so at some point, I took the pink shirt off and stuffed it into my pack.

After the hike, we went to a deli in Battle Ground for coffee, and there I bought a package of Stumptown coffee. I decided it would be better to put the coffee in my pack and take out the shirt. (It’s a large waist pack, so not big enough for both.) Then, my husband called me to say our car, which had been in the shop that day, was ready to pick up, so  I decided to go with him and arranged to meet him in front of Fred Meyer.

We went to the dealership, returned their loaner car, and got back our car. Then we went out to lunch nearby. After lunch, I realized that my shirt wasn’t in our car. So, we went back to the dealership to look in the loaner car, but it was not there, and it was obvious I wouldn’t have missed the shirt if it had been, since the car had nothing in the back seat.

Next, I thought maybe I had dropped the shirt in the parking lot at Fred Meyer. So, I had Wayne drive me back there. I arrived about two hours after Wayne had picked me up there. No shirt was in the parking lot or in front of the store where I had been standing, so I went into the store to ask Customer Service if anyone had turned it in. By this time, I wasn’t expecting to see my shirt again.

When I got to the counter, there was a woman being waited on by the only Customer Service person, and a woman pulled in right in front of me with a cart full of stuff. I sighed and considered asking her if I could go first, but I didn’t. A second Customer Service person appeared and directed the woman with the cart to go through the register first, so it just happened that I went up to the counter just as the other customer at the counter was finishing up. I asked if anyone had turned in a pink shirt. The woman next to me said, “Did you say a pink shirt?” I said yes. She told me she had a pink shirt in her car and asked me if it had long sleeves. I said yes. She said she would go get it.

My pink shirt, fresh out of the laundry and ready to wear again.

I went out with her, when she explained that she had actually left the shirt at the car wash across the road and she would be right back. Then she drove off. I was just wondering if the whole thing was some kind of joke when she zipped back across the parking lot and held it out of her window. It was my shirt, in perfect shape, just smelling a little odd! What do you think are the odds of that, that two hours after I lost it, the person who picked it up would be at the Customer Service counter handling some problem?

On Saturday, I got Luke all ready for his class and was considering doing the pack walk, since Mischa wasn’t going to taekwondo. However, I was barely on our main road and feeling something wasn’t right when I noticed the flat tire indicator was on. We have brand new tires on the car, because of an incident last fall where I hit a pothole and dented both my rims. At that point, they told us it would be better if we replaced all the tires. Wayne changed the tire to the spare and drove it in, and sadly came back with two new tires. He said the tire was too worn from me driving back the short distance to the house to tell what was wrong, and said that you can’t just replace one tire anymore. So, Luke and I missed class, and we’re out the cost of two tires.

When we went to class Monday night, I noticed a wire in one of the brand new tires. I didn’t want to pull it out in case the tire when flat, so we pulled it out when I got home. The tire did not go flat.

Here’s my garden looking pretty good. Herbs and an artichoke are at the front left, beans are next, then onions, an eggplant and asparagus at the back with peas on the left and sugar snap peas on the right. On the right side is an eggplant right in front of the sugar snap peas, then more beans, a couple of brussel sprout plants, spinach and finally lettuce. My cabbages turned out great last year but took up too much room.

This year, my garden looks pretty good. I already have a tomato coming, my sugar snap peas have blossoms, and my lettuces look like they may turn into heads any time now. My asparagus, which I won’t be able to harvest for a couple of years, is coming up. Last year, I had too many large plants for my little bit of space, so this year I’m sticking to smaller ones.

Here’s my one tomato that’s coming in so far. This year, I planted the tomatoes in tree pots so that I can move them inside, because last year, I didn’t get any tomatoes from one plant until it was freezing in the fall. Then I got plenty of green tomatoes that weren’t going to get a chance to ripen. There’s another tomato plant behind the blue flying pig in the picture.

Twice this week, while standing in the orchard, which is above the pond, I had the fortune to witness the ducks landing in the pond. It won’t be long now before I won’t be able to see the pond from the orchard, because the vegetation is growing so fast. The first time, the male duck was sitting in the pond quacking and then the female landed. This time, I saw the female land and quack for the male, but he did not come. I hope he comes soon. Again this year, we have seen no ducklings.

As I said, with the weeks of sun we had, the vegetation around our place has been running wild. At my friend’s suggestion, over the winter we cut a path through the blackberry brambles to the pond, because the best blackberries were inaccessible from the path that was there. This week, I took the weed whacker down and hacked both paths out again, as they were getting overgrown. I also had to whack the plants around the base of the bench by the pond. Pretty soon, and we wouldn’t be able to find the bench!

In art class, I worked on some more coral. I didn’t feel as if my work on the coral was quite as organic, if that makes any sense, as it was the week before. That is, I didn’t feel as if I naturally did a good job painting it, whereas the week before, I was pleased with it. My teacher, however, told me that it looked just like that on the other side last week, and that came out really nice. I’m not so sure, because last week I was happy with the coral and this week I’m not. However, my niece and sister and I have often remarked that we’ll feel unhappy about something in our paintings when we leave, but when we come back in the next week, realize they look pretty good.

Our weather has been cooler and rainier this week. It went from hotter than usual to a bit cooler than usual, although more normal for spring here. This morning, we are planning on one of our more ambitious hikes, to a trail we tried to find once already but didn’t.

I am getting excited for our trip in a few weeks to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I have two friends coming in from out of town, and one of them finally got her plane tickets. The other one has had them for months. And speaking of plays, my friend Deb and I noticed that a small local theater was putting on a play based on one of Georgette Heyer’s books. We just had to go, and I bought tickets for that this week.

In which I attempt to identify the wildflowers on our property

I think this is a lesser periwinkle.

With limited success. I thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of every wildflower I found on our property and figure out what they are. A few I am fairly sure of, but even with the help of a wildflower identification tool, I still didn’t find any flowers that looked like some of my pictures. The one I showed you a couple weeks ago, I am pretty sure, is the lesser periwinkle. That flower is growing in my landscaped ridge, though, so may not be a wildflower.

Here’s our lonely pink trillium, taken from a distance.

I also know this one for sure. Just earlier this week, we had several white trilliums and a pink trillium in the woods by our pond. As of today, only the pink one is still blooming. The white ones have shut their petals.

Pacific bleeding hearts, I think.

I also am fairly certain that these flowers below, which are everywhere, are Pacific bleeding hearts.

This might be chickweed.

The closest I could come to this white flower is chickweed, but I couldn’t find any white star-shaped flowers with petals this distinctive shape.

Unfortunately, for the purpose of identifying this and many of the flowers, the undergrowth is so thick that I’m not sure which leaves belong to the flowers and which to something else. If I was a more experienced flower identifier, I would have known to pick one.

Maybe these are mountain buttercups.

And again, I couldn’t find anything that looked quite like this yellow flower. The closest seemed to be the mountain buttercup. Some of these flowers are missing petals or are deformed, so it’s tough to say.

This is supposedly fivestamen chickweed.

This white one below also appears to be chickweed, fivestamen chickweed to be exact. Like some of the other flowers, though, I can’t be sure, as my pictures don’t look exactly like the ones in the identifier tool. At least this flower has a very distinctive petal, which makes it more likely that I’m correct.

This is definitely littleleaf miner’s lettuce, so perhaps the white flowers in the previous picture are miner’s lettuce, too.

And here’s a mystery, because I found a violet flower below that’s shaped almost the same, and is definitely littleleaf miner’s lettuce. So, that makes me wonder if the white flower might not be miner’s lettuce after all, just a different color. In fact, as I look at the first picture, I see that some of the flowers have a faint violet tinge, whereas the flowers in this second picture are definitely violet. And I saw a few that were slightly pink.

Somebody thinks this is white foxglove. I don’t.

Here is a puzzle. The white bell-shaped flower below is identified as white foxglove under images of bell-shaped white flowers in Google, but according to my wildflower identifier, there is no such thing as white foxglove. And to be honest, we have tons of foxglove of the normal variety that’s going to come up later this summer, and it doesn’t look like this. On the other hand, the wildflower identifier didn’t have any bell-shaped flowers that looked remotely like this.

And finally, here is another mystery blue flower. Now for this flower below, the picture is blurry, and I couldn’t find anything that had this bell shape, this brightness of blue, and this white thing in the middle. I could find some with yellow in the middle or white that protruded. It doesn’t in this flower. Farther down by the pond, I came across what seems to be the same flower, only it is a lighter blue, more violet colored. Lots of the flax flowers look about the same, but they have yellow in the middle, not white. (You can tell I can’t remember the plant part names from 8th grade biology.)

A pretty blue flower. We only have a few of these in our woods, although we had some different blues flowers earlier down by the pond. If you look really closely, the one in the middle has a distinctive trumpet shape, like morning glories, only much, much smaller.

To a subject that might be more interesting, we are still waiting for the results of some extra inspections that must be made of the house my brother is trying to buy. Because it is a log cabin, it needs a special inspection for that, and because it is spring-fed instead of having a well, it needs a special one for that. My brother and his wife were dismayed by all the small things that came back on the first inspection, but they haven’t bought a house in a while because of living on the boat. My niece tried to assure them that usually they all come back like that. When she sold her house in Portland, it was an older home that had been gutted and completely redone inside, but because it had a frame from the early 1900’s, they still got a long list.

We didn’t do a hike last week because I thought I might be spending time with my brother, and my neighbor was preparing for a wedding at her house. She is part of the Native American Church and offers her property for ceremonies and events. Right now, the wedding is on and I am listening to conjunto music. Earlier in the day, we heard drums and singing. As for the hike being cancelled because of possible plans with my brother, it turned out that he and his wife were tied up all day with business related to the house. In fact, the only time we saw them while they were here was for dinner Tuesday night. By Thursday morning, they were on their way back to California.

Most of this week was gorgeous. On Friday, I went to the Japanese nursery in Woodland with my niece and her children. I bought a magnolia tree and two lilac bushes. On Saturday, I put my two tomato plants into large tree pots to try to grow them where I could move them around. Last year, one of my tomato plants didn’t produce a single blessed tomato until it was freezing outside.  Then it produced loads, but each one had a big black spot in it. The plant was in my garden, so there was nothing I could do about it.  My plan this year is to bring them into the house at night if that happens again. The other tomato plant I grew last year produced exactly two very nice yellow tomatoes.

Saturday, Wayne also helped me plant the lilacs behind the house at the edge of the slope going down to the wolf pen, some Japanese roses that my niece dug up out of her woods in our woods at the edge of the orchard, and the magnolia tree out by the road on the other edge of the orchard. It has been very dry here lately, so yesterday afternoon I watered all of the orchard trees, the new plants, a red maple that I planted last year, and the two Japanese maples that I planted my first year here and that have been struggling along. Unfortunately, there was no way to get water up to the blue spruce my sister gave me for Christmas two years ago that is at the top of our ridge. I guess I could have hauled buckets up there, but I don’t think I’m physically fit to do it. To water the Japanese maples, because they are halfway up the ridge, I have to stand below them with the hose and shoot water up to them. By contrast, to water the trees in the orchard, we put five-gallon buckets with a small hole in them at the base of a tree, and then haul the hose that we’ve run down to the orchard over to the tree and fill it up. We have four buckets and about 12 trees to water, so you then have to wait for the water to drain and move a bucket and start over.

In art class, I began my next painting. It is of a very complex starfish, and it took me the last three classes to draw it. My instructor tried to warn me off it for something a little less complicated, but I am used to spending a long time on my paintings, so the idea did not dismay me. I like the abstract, geometric appearance of the fish.

Our puppy play and train schedule changed this week, which made me have to shuffle some things around in my schedule. We had to move our mini pack walk from Thursday to Monday and I won’t be able to go swimming on Tuesday mornings while Luke is going to puppy play. Our plan is to take him out of it and dog classes at the end of this month, when he’ll be one year old.


Family time and another poltergeist

This week my oldest brother and sister-in-law are in town unexpectedly. They decided some time ago to move here from Berkeley, and lately they have been looking at houses online. The original plan was to wait until later this spring and come here for a visit to look, but they saw one online that they really like, and it’s going to go fast, so they made an appointment to view it yesterday. I missed my opportunity to see it when my niece and her husband went over. Since he is an appraiser, they asked him to check it over first before they made an offer on it. However, they did that on Saturday when I was at Luke’s class.

They have been living on a cabin cruiser for years, actually a smallish yacht, and optimally, they wanted to sell that and their sailing boat before buying a house, but I think they decided to go ahead and buy, as it could take a year to sell the boats. My brother said he is sick of maintaining the boats, although earlier this spring he seemed ambiguous about moving away.

Tuesday night, my job was to make a fruit salad and show up at my niece’s for dinner. That was the only time that the whole family could get together, because my sister was working the next two nights, and they are leaving Thursday. Wayne and I hope to see them again for dinner tonight unless they are too tired.

Anyway, I found out when I saw them last night for dinner that their offer was accepted. Now they have to arrange financing and meet an inspector this afternoon. As long as nothing goes wrong, they will be living three miles away. My brother was really excited. He said he never thought he’d live in a house he liked so much. It is a log cabin that is spring-fed instead of having a well.

They are the only part of my family that I haven’t seen since I moved up here. The last time I saw them was five years ago, so it has been nice to see them.

Since my brother is never without his Brittany spaniel, Freckles, we brought Luke to dinner. This is something we usually wouldn’t do, because Katrina is allergic to animals, but we knew we’d be eating outside and Freckles would be there. Freckles wasn’t feeling friendly, because he’s an old dog, but Eddie came over from next door, so Luke spent a lot of time running around in circles. Unfortunately, Eddie seemed determined to make Freckles play, so he kept getting growled at. Luke only needed one growl to make him stay away from Freckles.

Last Wednesday, Maja was determined to go on our hike, but we decided to hike at Lewisville Park, since it is the most accessible in case something happened, and we decided to make it more of a walk than a hike. In fact, we both picked up drinks before we went there, and instead of taking our sticks, we just carried our coffee and tea. Lewisville can offer a nice hike, because it has some hills, but we kept to the flat part.

It is finally becoming reliably nice out. We’ve only had  a dash of rain this week and have taken to eating on our deck if it isn’t too cool. Last week, we had a day in the 70’s, and I broke out my short-sleeved t-shirt for the first time. But the very next day, I had to put my two long-sleeved shirts back on. We have been doing some outside work. Wayne has almost finished putting the gates back on the wolf pen, and I did some weed whacking and planted my veggie starts in my garden. Monday, I took the self-propelled mower down to the orchard and started mowing it, but my sister came by on her way to work and offered to stop by with her riding mower and do it. When I came home from water aerobics on Tuesday morning, it was done. It’s ridiculous that we have a riding mower that my husband is afraid to mow the orchard with because of the slope. I would try learning how to work it, but I can barely haul myself onto it. Maybe it will be easier to do that this year, because I am a bit less heavy and in much better shape. I might go over to my sister and have her teach me. The only thing he does with it is drive it into the wolf pen, which is small enough to be mown with the self-propelled mower, but is the only flat lawn we have except for the very small front lawn.

Here are our orchard trees in bloom. The right two are cherry and the left two are apple. Their blossoms are just starting to come out. I took this before the orchard was mowed, so you can see we have lots of dandelions. Gosh, they don’t look yellow in this picture. Just beyond the orchard to the left, you might catch a glimpse of the pond.

Speaking of which, this week I did take a picture of the orchard. The two cherry trees are in bloom and the apple tree blossoms have started coming out. Unfortunately, the little plum tree that I planted last year has died.

I was just saying that we hadn’t seen any deer on our property in a couple of years. However, the other evening, I looked out the window to see if I could see some ducks in the pond. I was looking past the wolf pen, so my first impression was of a large brown thing, and I thought the neighbor’s dog was down there. It was a deer, however, running from our orchard into the wooded area behind the wolf pen. Usually we see them in at least pairs, but maybe I missed one or more other deer. I watched for a minute, but I didn’t see any others. On the other hand, we’ve seen rabbits in our yard regularly, which gives Luke lots of barking practice. Not that he needs encouragement. Ever since Rosie first appeared in the slope above our yard, he has kept a sharp eye on the woods and barks if a bush even moves.

And speaking of him, Monday night we worked on heeling without a leash. I didn’t think Luke would do it, because he gets so carried away smelling the astroturf at the dog place, which has been peed on by many dogs, that he has a hard time paying attention. However, he did. Some of us were heeling around in a circle while others in the middle were putting dogs down and calling them. The instructor first told me to let him heel at the end of the leash, and that worked just fine, to my surprise, because he doesn’t like to heel. Then after a while, she told me to at least try letting him off the leash, so I did. He heeled successfully for a while, but every time we passed a wading pool, he walked off and got into it. I think he did this because the instructor put treats in one to try to teach a timid, small dog to go into the pool, and after Luke saw this, he naturally assumed that all the pools had treats in them. In any case, I was pleasantly surprised by how well he did on his first try of heeling without a leash. Then we tried walking downs. He’s not so good at this because it takes him some time to go down, so I can’t exactly keep walking while he does it. Then, it took him a bit to realize I was calling him back to heel from a distance almost immediately after he went down. But he got it eventually. Some of the time, he was smelling too hard to notice me calling him, but other times, he did well.

Last night, we had an eerie thing happen. I can’t help but think it is connected to my husband’s having rung the doorbell yesterday afternoon. It is an obnoxious doorbell, because someone saw fit to install one that plays corny tunes, different ones each time you press the button, ones like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.” Yesterday, after the mail deliverer left a package on the doorstep, Wayne, who was working outside, rang the doorbell to let me know it was there. It is hardly ever rung and works inconsistently, so that just now when I tried it, I couldn’t make it ring.

At about 1 AM, the doorbell started ringing, and it kept playing tune after tune. When I went out to look at it, the button was jammed down, so that it took a few pushes to get it to pop back out and stop ringing. My husband is convinced that someone rang our doorbell, but I have a hard time believing it was my knocking gremlins. They were only about ten years old and always came on a Friday night around 8 PM. Around here, no ten-year-old is going to be running around outside at 1 AM. I can’t imagine what set it off, but I think something must have happened when Wayne rang the doorbell that made it stick, perhaps.

A hiking emergency

On our hike last week, we returned to Lacamas Park to attempt to hike the part of the park that we didn’t get to before. We were only partially successful in this. We set off in the opposite direction from before, but we ended up doing a loop in the part of the park that I didn’t really want to repeat, it being the wildest, and still missed some of the same part of the loop as we did before. My sister, Sue, went with me and Maja, one of my hiking friends, and it’s a good thing she did, too, because she is a nurse.

Just as we started into the area that I didn’t want to repeat, accidentally through not understanding the maps we saw (it’s annoying to us that so many parks leave out the You Are Here marker on most of the posted maps), Maja had some sort of attack. She became very dizzy and said her neck was hurting her. We stopped and tried to get her to sit, but she wouldn’t sit. At another point, Sue urged her to lie down in a meadow so she could put her feet up, but she refused. We had to continue on very slowly, with frequent stops, and unfortunately we were in the most remote part of the park, so it took us about an hour to get out to the car. All the time, my sister and I said later, both of us were worried that Maja was going to pass out.

Maja and Sue on the bridge at Lacamas Park very shortly before Maja had her episode. Not a good picture. I can never see what I’m taking outside, and I must have moved the phone, because the women are blurry.

Once we got to the car, there was a debate of what to do next. I thought we should go to the nearest urgent care, whereas Maja wanted to go to the urgent care in Battle Ground (40 minutes away), which she knew was in her insurance network. I think it’s ridiculous that during an emergency we have to worry about this stuff. Sue started to take her to a hospital that was in her network, but I pointed out that most insurance companies want you to go to urgent care first. We ended up going where Maja wanted. Then the urgent care wanted to send her to the hospital (the one we passed on the way there, that Sue wanted to take her to) by ambulance, and she didn’t want to take the ambulance. I wasn’t driving, and Sue had run out to get us something to eat, since we assumed that we would be there a long time. I told Maja that if the nurse thought she should take an ambulance, she should take one. So, she did, and we were away from there in a surprisingly short time. It turned out that she had stopped taking her blood pressure medicine over a year ago without telling her doctor because she didn’t like the side effects. Also, she had already been diagnosed with some sort of blockage (I didn’t really understand what they were talking about), and her blood pressure was really low. (Her top number was 85!)

By the way, the urgent care folks said we should have gone to the hospital, and when she explained about the insurance people wanting you to go to urgent care first, the guy said, “I don’t know about insurance.” Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? The health care people need to know about insurance. I noticed a ridiculous notice at that urgent care telling people to check their bills for out-of-network service and to tell them if anything is out of network. Well, what good will that do you? If it’s on your bill, you’ve already been served by out-of-network people. I think that urgent care and hospitals should have to assure that all the people on an emergency case or procedure are in the patient’s network, because how can the patient do that when they are in the middle of the procedure or emergency? Oh well, enough about our ridiculous health care system.

In any case, Sue said she probably got treated faster the way we did it, because if we’d gone to Emergency, we probably would have waited an hour before anyone looked at Maja. She said that since she arrived in an ambulance from urgent care, they would look at her right away. Since Sue works in a hospital, I’m guessing she knows what she’s talking about.

So, that was scary, but Maja is home now after being hospitalized for two nights. She said her arteries are in fine shape and she just needs to take it easier on the exercise. She is also on a different blood pressure med.

Here are the blue flowers in my garden, shaped more like pentagons than stars. I found a picture of them online, but they were not identified.

What else has happened this week? Well, it’s getting a lot springier up here. The valley has been looking beautiful for some weeks, but my cherry trees just started blooming and my apple trees are just beginning to open their buds. I took a picture, but it wasn’t very dramatic, so I decided not to post it. In my landscaped slope in front of the house, there are beautiful blue flowers popping up all over. Plus, I planted a few snowdrops in the middle of the orchard, but now I see a bunch more coming up in a wooded area next to the orchard. Likewise, there are lots of wildflowers coming up in the wooded area next to our pond.

Speaking of the pond, I’ve spotted the ducks several times, and the other day I was up in the orchard when I saw a lot of commotion in the water. I was able to see the heads of three or four beavers! I told Wayne that I guessed Mr. Beaver got married and had children, and he said he didn’t think marriage had anything to do with it. Last year, I only ever saw one beaver at a time, so I figured there was only one.

I haven’t seen any deer since Lukey and I spotted one at the neighbor’s house when he was a small puppy, so that would have been back in August or September. But when I was on my way to Luke’s class Monday night, I saw one go across the road. It’s nice to see them, since there has been so much logging around here that we see fewer and fewer deer each year. It’s been a couple of years since we saw them on our property, although they were eating things in my garden at some time last year, because I saw the nibbles. We got it partially fenced in, so they stopped going in.

Most of the days this week were dreary, but it was really nice and warm on Sunday. We did some outside work. I didn’t need to weed my garden last year at all, hardly, but this year, I have lots of things coming up in it. Since the weeds all look like the same kind of grass, I presume it has something to do with the alpaca poop I mixed into the soil this fall. I’m guessing it’s whatever they eat.

Sunday was so nice that for the first time in a while we sat out by the pond, and earlier in the week, we had lunch on the deck. So, on Monday I put on a lighter top shirt over the bottom shirt I wear all winter (not the same one, of course), but that was a mistake. Monday was cold! I ended up changing back. So, it’s not warm spring yet, or at least not consistently.

Here’s Luke wondering why I called him. It took several times to get him to look at the phone.

Luke is doing okay at Relationship Class; at least, he hasn’t been kicked out yet. Some of the other dogs are having a bit of trouble behaving as well; in fact, he did better than several of them during Monday night’s class. And just in case anyone is wondering what Luke looks like now, I took a picture of him. He is almost 11 months old now, and I think he is full grown. At least, he is about the same size as the adult Keeshond we used to have, knee high but stocky, so that he seems bigger.

Stalker Rosie

I got so involved in telling about Luke and Rosie last week that I forgot to post the pictures I took for that week’s blog. They were of the flowers that are finally starting to appear in our orchard. Down in the valley, flowering trees are in bloom and daffodils are all over the place, but we are just enough higher in altitude for blooming to be later.

Here were my two daffodils just before Luke bit the flower off one of them. Now I have about half a dozen in bloom with more coming out every day.

So, here they are. First, there is a little story about this picture of the first larger daffodils to appear in my orchard. I have planted them around the roots of most of my fruit trees, and I plant more every fall. I went out one day last week and finally two were in bloom. Luke tends to be jealous of my phone. I guess he thinks if I’m using it, I’m not looking at him. So, I took this picture, and exactly two seconds later, Luke bit the top off one of the daffodils. I guess he’s jealous of my flowers, too.

My orange crocuses are looking lovely. Only one of the purple ones came out from this batch that I planted last fall.

The other photo I took was of some orange crocuses that came out (and one purple one). The crocuses that bloomed earlier this spring were very tiny, but these are larger and much more dramatic. This is the first year I planted orange crocuses, and they look lovely. My sister has suggested I plant the entire orchard in crocuses. I actually intended to do that with daffodils, but now maybe I’ll do a mixture.

The saga of Rosie, the Newfoundland puppy, and Luke continues. Actually, she came over almost every day last week and sometimes more than once a day. Last Tuesday morning, we were just driving out when Rosie came up our driveway. I’m afraid Wayne honked at her and scared her, but she kept moving down the driveway in front of us at a slow walk, rather than moving off the driveway.

On Friday morning, I was looking forward to a nice sleep in, as it was the only day I didn’t have to get up for anything. At 6:30, however, Luke began barking, which is unusual for him now that he is older. (He used to bark in the morning if he woke up and Wayne was out of bed.) I finally gave up trying to sleep and got up about 7 and took him out. There were wet doggie footprints going down the driveway. I guess he knew Rosie was in the yard.

Later that day, we were working on whacking down the blackberry vines from the slope behind the house. Luke was rooting around and chewing sticks like he usually does when we are working. When no one is outside, he does nothing, but as long as someone is outside with him, he goes around doing his things, keeping us in view and checking in once in a while (by which I mean he comes bouncing down and practically knocks me over). Then I saw a boy start up our driveway. I realized right away that he was looking for Rosie, who was apparently up by the house. I called Rosie, and next thing I knew, she was chasing Luke at full speed around the orchard. Again, it was hard to tell if he was having fun.

He looked so exhausted that every once in a while we would let him into the wolf pen, which Rosie couldn’t get into, and when he got his breath back he would come back out. (Wayne has taken part of the fence down but put a blockade at that opening that Luke can get over, just not very fast.) We decided that they were playing, although Rosie was doing all the chasing.

After a while, the boy took Rosie home. (I was inclined to think he might be our doorbell ringer, except he looked a little too young. Wayne told me that later two boys came back to get Rosie when she came back over, and one was a little older, so I guess that’s our ghost. Ever since being caught, he hasn’t come back.) Later, when Luke was in the house, Rosie came back, and he barked at her so viciously that I thought, maybe he doesn’t like her. So, I didn’t let him back out but took him into another part of the house.

Then on Sunday we were outside again and Rosie showed up, followed shortly by our neighbor. This dog is his grandchildren’s, and he is about our age or maybe slightly younger. He apologized for Rosie bothering us and said they were putting up an electric fence. He said they were digging the trench right now but the fence hadn’t actually arrived yet. He also told us that she had been dragging back the possessions of some of our other neighbors, so apparently, she likes to visit everyone.

We let the two dogs play, and this time they were trading being dominant; that is, he was climbing up on her back occasionally to show her he was the boss, then she would chase him around. They seemed to be okay, though. If Rosie is locked in her yard, we’ll have to take Luke over every once in a while to visit her. We haven’t seen her at all since Sunday, so maybe they got the fence up.

Luke was promoted to Relationship Class on Saturday, which surprised me because he had not been on his best behavior in Wednesday’s class.In fact, he’d been breaking his downs, his place, and his sits. It seems as if the last month or so, he’s been testing to see if I actually make him do the things he knows perfectly well how to do. Dawn told me he was promoted at the beginning of class. Then he proceeded to behave the same way, just not as bad. At the end of the class, she amended her statement to say that they would try him in Relationship Class. We went to our first class on Monday, and I thought he was even worse than he has been lately. However, she said it was his first class and not to worry about it. It was definitely harder than regular obedience class. (Interestingly enough, he was much better behaved when we went to Relationship Class a few months ago and got kicked out.)

For our hike last week, we returned to the local Lewisville Park and took a short hike, because we were meeting our friend Shawn for lunch. She was in a car accident the week before, and she has been having to go to the chiropractor since then. She was hit from behind when she was stopped at a light. Oddly enough, my other hiking friend was in an accident the week before that, only she wasn’t hurt. She ran into the back of a stopped truck.

Wayne and I still haven’t worked on our budget. I have asked him several times, but first the weather was too nice to waste (it was lovely the last few days of last week), and lately he hasn’t felt well. I had hoped to have it settled by the beginning of April so that we would know where we were. Probably, we shouldn’t be doing what we are doing later this week, which is going to stay a couple nights at Quinault Lodge for our anniversary. (Of course, it’s supposed to rain all weekend, whereas the end of last week was gorgeous.) I could still cancel, but we haven’t gone anywhere together for years, so even if it puts us more in debt, I want to do it. We can tighten the belt in other ways. Also, I want Luke to get used to boarding as it is not always convenient to have to take your dog everywhere you go (although I know some people prefer to do that). This has been our first occasion to need boarding. He is staying with his dog trainers, so hopefully he won’t be scared. He seems to be scared of everything at first look. Wayne said he ran away from a rabbit the other day.

Wayne says we have more than two ducks in the pond, although I have only seen two myself. I have seen them swimming around in it, and one day when I went down to the orchard, they flew off, even though I was still fairly far away. Another day, I was sitting on the bench by the pond when they came in for a landing. The male landed, but the female saw me and flew off. Then the male noticed that something was wrong and took off too. Wayne thinks that the other ducks must be their children for them to allow them on the pond, but I’m not so sure that ducks do that. I know that eagles will bring back their offspring for a couple years after its birth, but I don’t know about ducks.

In art class, I have finished my painting, all but painting the edges. I have been framing and hanging my paintings, but this one is square, and I realized that it was going to have to be custom framed. My instructor suggested that if I had painted the edges, I could just hang the canvas. So, better late than never. I had never thought of that, but I noticed that my sister thoughtfully painted the edges of her painting that she just finished. It’s not a race, I know, but she did hers in about a month, and I have been working on mine for about four months. I won’t be in art class this week, but the week after, I should be able to post a picture of it.



I’m guessing Spring is official

When I bought the bulbs for these daffodils, I didn’t even know they came this small. I planted them from this tree over to the lilac bush, which I’m hoping will bloom for the first time this spring. I planted it bare roots last spring.

We went from snow last week to days when we finally have our windows open! We opened up our window Monday afternoon for the first time, and then again yesterday morning. And so we will continue. Down in the orchard, I have about four or five purple crocuses and one orange one, and at the edge of the slope down to the wolf pen, a bunch of tiny daffodils are out, my first ones. I had forgotten I planted them there. I need to plant more. Maybe some bigger ones this time.

The artichoke is off to the left. Next to it is the cage where my beans are planted and next to that onion starts. At the end of the garden, you might be able to see some sugar snap pea plants (and to the left you cannot see my English peas, which I planted as seeds), and in the right foreground are the lettuces. That blue thing in the back of the garden is my lawn scepter.

This weekend, the weather was gorgeous, so I got out and filled my raised garden beds with dirt. Then I planted some early seeds and starts. A few herbs and an artichoke plant didn’t die from last year, and I planted peas, lettuce, onions, and beans.

We were supposed to have really strong wind gusts Monday and Tuesday. I did notice some loud wind yesterday morning and saw Wayne come in from sitting outside during the worst, but it dies down and returns. Yesterday afternoon I went out to sweep the back deck. I remember that last fall, I went out one day and suddenly thousands of seeds, the helicopter kind, flew over the trees into our yard. The other day, I noticed that between the boards of our deck and also the table there were hundreds of those little whirligigs sticking up. I had to sweep parallel to the boards to get them out and then sweep crossways to send them off the side of the deck.

Last Wednesday for our hike we just returned to Lewisville Park. The original plan was to follow that up with a trip to World Market, since Maja had never been there, but she didn’t want to continue to drive out there, even though we stopped on the way there. She wants to find a place to hike out in that direction this week. I think we are going to hike at Lacamas Lake.

Monday, it was so nice again that I tried to lure Wayne out to Moulton Falls Park, but he only consented to sit in the parking lot. Luke kept turning around and trying to go back instead of walking in the park, so I finally gave up. I guess it was more distracting for Luke to have left Wayne in the car than it would have been if we hadn’t taken him in the first place.

I had planned this spring to at least get Wayne to do the driving tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, through which thousands of water birds migrate each spring. However, this week when I looked at their web site, they said they were closing down the driving tour during the week for the next month or so, to work on the single-lane bridge that goes into the park. That means if we want to look at the birds, we’ll have to go on the weekend with everyone else. I wonder how crowded it will be. Too bad. I am less likely to convince him to go on the weekend. On the other hand, he might go for a promise of lunch at Fuel Bistro with their famous chocolate chip cookie at the end. His enthusiasm for Fuel, which he always liked but didn’t want to make the drive to most of the time, has increased remarkably since we had the chocolate chip cookie.

I hear that my oldest brother and his wife, who now live in Berkeley, are looking at property in North Clark County (where we live) via the internet. In fact, it is my understanding that they have authorized my niece’s husband to make an offer for some neighbor’s property. We’re not sure if they want to sell or not. It would be nice to have them here, right in the neighborhood. I’m sure they will find something to interest them. It’s funny, because my brother has remarked that he doesn’t understand why people make their houses so fancy to sell them. He says they make him feel uncomfortable. I think he’s been living on his boat too long.

On the other hand, he’s been recommending that I build this super-complicated catwalk structure all over the house for Hillary to use to keep her away from Luke. So, I guess his taste runs to the weird rather than the nice.

Some readers have written to me about the Newfoundland puppy next door. I was alarmed, when we went for our hike last Wednesday, to actually see him out on our main road. It is a two-lane road that has lots of twists and turns and that many people speed down in excess of 50 MPH. I hope he doesn’t get hit. Usually, I see him on our road, which is just a one-lane gravel road, but his owners live nearer to that busy corner than we do, and he seems to be left alone most of the day, unless someone is in the house that I’m unaware of.

The ducks are out this morning, swimming around in our pond. This year we have a mallard pair. We have seen them several times, generally in early morning.