A new hike

Here’s a look at the trail in a place not next to the river (it’s beyond a little island) but from which we had a great view of Mt. Hood. It looks barely visible in the middle of my photo, but it was actually very noticeable.

Our weather has been exceptionally changeable this week. On Sunday, for example, we woke up to nice sunny skies, but by the time I was ready to go out, it was cold and rainy again. However, yesterday was gorgeous, so Maja and I did a nice-day hike we’ve never taken before, the Columbia River Dike Trail. It’s completely flat along the top of a dike, but it’s long enough to get a good walk in. We did not go all the way but managed to hike about 5.5 miles. The trail follows the Columbia River west toward the gorge, and although it is industrial next to the trail for a while, when you get up next to the Steigenwald Wildlife Reserve, the industrial sites are gone. Hanging above us for our entire hike was Mt. Hood. We have had a lot of rainy days this year but not so many really beautiful days like this.

On the way back to the car, we encountered two women who were putting Mardi Gras beads around people’s necks. What a fun thing to do. I had forgotten it was Fat Tuesday, as Mardi Gras is much more present down in Texas than here.

Another major thing going on this week is that Friday we got our Sleep Number bed delivered. I have to confess to mixed experiences with it. So far, I have had one good night of sleep and a couple of uncomfortable nights. I don’t think I’ve figured out my sleep number yet. Wayne is still waking up in the middle of the night but says he’s sleeping a little longer. Part of what’s hard to get used to is not having a three-inch memory foam pad on the bed anymore. I’m used to sinking into our bed a few inches and then having support underneath. We could cut a slit in the top of the pad (we bought a top-split bed because of Wayne’s sleep apnea), and put the pad back on, but the bed is supposed to keep us cooler at night, and those pads make you hotter. There’s no point in making the bed not be able to perform one of its functions. I get hot enough at night.

Lately, I’ve been getting a little bit back into creativity by editing my brother John’s book manuscript. He tends to make the same types of grammatical and punctuation errors, so I’m making him work by explaining the rules to him and making him search for the changes. He says he’s learning something. The thing that makes editing boring is that almost all amateur writers (and some professional ones) make the same mistakes over and over. They’re just different mistakes from other people’s. I worked on his earlier draft a bit, but then he told me to stop because he’d rewritten it extensively. I can’t really tell the difference. I think he’s telling a good story. He just has a few little writing quirks to clean up, and he really likes complicated sentences.

Lukey did really well in dog class both on Saturday and on Monday night, heeling mostly off leash and then doing an exercise where we put the dog on place, walk away and call them, and then walk off and ask them to heel as they approach. Then we walk back toward their place and stop well back from it to send them to place. He pretty much perfectly did this exercise every time, completely off leash, just trailing his little leash behind him, except that sometimes he came to heel on my wrong side. (He’s supposed to be on my left.) The only time he broke when he was supposed to be on place was one time when another dog owner called her dog in a really high-pitched voice. For some reason that made several dogs break and run toward their owners, Luke among them. Still, I can see that I’m closer to the point when I’ll be able to take Luke off-leash to places like the beach and he’ll just follow me around. Of course, I’ll always have a leash handy in case I need one.

Starting next Monday, Luke will miss his Monday night classes for a month, because I am going to be attending a tai chi class in Orchards, a suburb of Vancouver. I’m doing this because Wayne was told by his physical therapist that tai chi would be good for him. I tried to get him to go to my class when it started, but it’s a four-month class, and now they won’t let new people in until the next one starts. So, for a month we’ll go to the class in Orchards, and I will also continue to go to my Wednesday class in Battle Ground, then in April Wayne will start over again when the beginning Battle Ground class restarts. I can already tell I will need to repeat the beginning class, maybe even several times, before I go into something more advanced. I am slow to learn anything physical.

 

 

Pedicure

My teal toenails

This might seem amazing to some of you and trivial to others, but last Friday, I had my first ever pedicure. Christine, who has them now and again, scheduled one for both of us while Luke was at the groomers. I sort of liked it, although I was worried at times about my feet, as I used to have gout attacks (never since I moved here, though). When I saw my brother John that weekend, he said he used to have them regularly and really enjoyed them, until they retired and Lucie cut them out of the budget. He didn’t have his toes painted teal, however. I liked them so much that I decided to get my fingernails done to match next time Christine does hers. I actually have about the same color polish in my cupboard, but when I do my nails, they get smeared right away and chip off within days.

It’s not too snowy at this point, but if you look closely, you can see snow on Luke’s back. Not dandruff.

Just before writing this (on Tuesday), I was out playing with Luke in the snow. We got about an inch on Sunday, and most of it melted away, but Tuesday we got about seven inches. When I wrote the draft for this post, it was only sticking on the grass. I took a picture of Luke with snow on him. Luke has this habit. We get done with our errands (today it was the dentist and Play and Train), come home, I make lunch and do the dishes. Then, just about when I’m ready to settle down with a nice cup of tea, Luke gets up from snoozing and starts ringing the bell to go out and play. So, that’s what we did.

We ended up getting about an inch of snow again, but early in the morning, it started raining, so this morning I woke up to mostly slush.

We had a couple of beautiful days this week, Monday being clear and quite cold, but mostly it has rained for days. Still, we don’t complain. We’re not in Austin. Yay!

Last week in tai chi we finished the first third, which seemed weird because we learned 17 out of 108 moves. But many of them repeat, apparently. I can’t really remember more than 6 or 7 when I try to practice at home. I already know I’ll have to take the beginner’s class over again at least once. Our instructor says that most people take at least two beginner’s courses.

Now that Wayne has missed the beginning of our class and we’re not accepting any new students, his physical therapist has said he should take tai chi. (I tried to get him to go, but he never believes I know what I’m talking about. He’ll listen to anyone but me.) So, he’s going to start a class beginning in March on Monday nights in Orchards. I told him I would skip Luke’s night class to take it with him for a month, and then we can both start over again in April, when the Battle Ground beginning class starts again. While I’m taking class with him, I’ll also take my regular class. Of course, this all depends on his not changing his mind by the time March rolls around. Right now, he still says he’ll take it.

I spent a lot of the week getting the house cleaned up in case we had visitors. That’s because Mark was having a birthday party on Sunday, and rumor had it my brother Steve and his family would be coming down from Seattle and staying with us. Not that he ever said anything to me. I had been sadly neglectful of the housework since the holidays, pretty much only doing the dishes and the laundry and sweeping the floor occasionally. So, the entire house got cleaned and the guest bed changed, and so on, but no guests. Steve and his family did indeed show up at the party on Sunday afternoon, but they went home about 7 PM. It was a nice party. Mark made delicious homemade pizzas according to a recipe we’ve had since the 60’s. Eighteen people showed up, including friends Mark has known since he went to college up at Michigan Tech, who now live up by Bellevue.

John and Lucie are having a great time in their cottage in Seaside and sent us all a beautiful picture from their walk on Monday, after they got back home. He reported that they had nearly finished the puzzle I brought them, so I gave them another one.

In art class, I continued to work on shading my piggies.

Monday, we bought a new bed, a Sleep Number bed. Gosh, they’re really expensive. When you price the mattress, it doesn’t seem too much worse than a regular high-end mattress, but then you have to buy the support for the mattress that has the electronics in it, and they keep hitting you with additional expenses (the proper mattress cover, sheets, etc.). We didn’t get everything, although we may regret not buying the sheets if ours start popping off whenever the mattress is raised. However, neither of us sleep well, so if this will help, it’ll be worth it. We looked at Tempurpedic beds a few months ago, and I personally thought the soft one was more comfortable (and they’re about half the cost, because none of the extras are needed), but the Sleep Number bed also raises up to help people with sleep apnea, which Wayne has. (Actually, I think the Tepurpedic bed does, too, so maybe we would have to buy the same extras. They just didn’t show us that feature.) We’ll get the bed in a couple of weeks and I’ll report back.

On second thought, I figured that since we got the split top mattress so that Wayne could sleep slightly elevated, our sheets would be popping off the mattress, so I looked at sheets online. I found that if I bought them from Sleep Number, they cost about $200 a set. Online I found a set of bamboo sheets for $69, 1900 thread count. We’ll see how they work out.

Let there be light

First, a miracle occurred! About a year and a half ago, the second fluorescent light in my closet started to go out. (The other one was out already.) When I mentioned that I needed new bulbs, Wayne suggested that we change out the fixture for LEDs, as they are more energy efficient and he has done that throughout the house. We soon bought a fixture for the closet, which we put under the dresser in the guest room. Time passed. My other bulb went from flickering a lot to being completely out, and since then I have been going into my closet with a  flashlight or just feeling around for things. I complained about it several months ago, and Wayne installed a camping lantern in my closet that was almost as bad as no light at all. My friend Christine suggested I go out and buy fluorescent bulbs and install them myself, but I kept forgetting to measure the fixture.

And lo and behold, yesterday Wayne brought a ladder in from the garage. I could hardly bear to hope, but yes, I now have a new light fixture in my closet! I only had to go a year without any light! For some reason he didn’t install it straight in the closet. It is at an angle to the wall. But beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it! It is very bright!

Lukey enjoying the new snow. He just loves playing in the snow. I shot a video of him playing but was unable to transfer it from my phone to my computer. I’m not sure my template supports video anyway, as it didn’t last time I tried to upload a video.

I have to admit to not having done very much the last week. We had a week where it snowed just about every day, and it was so nice to sit in front of the fire with a book that that’s about what I did. Of course, I continued to take Luke to class, and in my art class, I began painting my pigs. I went to tai chi again, this time with Maja, but we did not go for a hike.

And speaking of Luke, he is going through a stretch of naughtiness after being relatively well behaved for some time. The first thing he did was steal my bookmark off the coffee table and rip it to shreds. He hasn’t been taking things off the table, so I let my guard down. Next, he stole one of my socks out of the dirty laundry, but this time, at least, he didn’t tear it up. He just took it into his crate, and it missed its turn in the laundry, since I didn’t discover that he’d taken it until I finished the washing.

On Sunday morning, my only day to sleep in during the week, I tried to sleep a little later than Wayne and Luke. However, he stayed outside my bedroom door growling and scratching on the door, so I finally gave up and got up. I know I’m forgetting at least one more minor misbehavior, but now I’m at the big ones. On Saturday night, he vomited copiously into his bed. After I cleaned it up, I discovered why. He had gotten up on his hind legs and stolen the butter off the kitchen counter. Then he ate it, all the butter we had in the house, about a stick and a half. At least, I found the half stick on the floor, but it was covered in teeth marks, so I threw it out.

Finally, I took him out to the orchard Monday morning without his e-collar, and he ran straight into the road and across the street and did not come back when called. That’s a serious misbehavior, as he gets to go out without a leash around our property because he can be relied upon to come when called. Then he started down the road as if to call on his friend Rosie, but he came back and got dragged ignominiously home. He doesn’t really have it in him to actually run off as he prefers being around me. Nevertheless, I put his e-collar on him first thing in the morning ever since then.

This is just one bunch of the many mushrooms we saw along the path. I don’t think they are edible, more’s the pity, but they are certainly pretty.

Yesterday we went for the first regular hike since the holidays began, perhaps the first one since November, although I went out a couple of times with John and once with Lucie. It was me, Maja, and Nancy. We just went to Moulton Falls Park because it was supposed to rain, and it was raining by the time we turned back. We saw an area where they’d been cutting trees that was just loaded with mushrooms. As always, it was a beautiful walk.

 

 

Start of a new life stage

I’m referring in the title to my brother John and sister-in-law Lucie, because over New Years they were applying to rent their house on the beach, on Wednesday, they were accepted, and on Thursday, they were told they could move in any time. Of course, their new life stage actually started when they retired, but everything has been chaos and up in the air until now, what with his several surgical procedures, followed by selling the house, traveling out here, and then their hunt for a new house. Because the new house was let furnished, they are going to send for their things but keep the furniture in storage until their lease is near to being up, at which time they will decide whether to renew it or whether to try to find something unfurnished. They are still set on not buying, but I think that as a long-term decision it’s not the best one, because of the rising rents. We’ll see how that all turns out. They like Astoria, and it seems as if home prices there are still affordable as it is a working port instead of a beach town.

John and Lucie on the beach in Seaside on a foggy day. Is that haystack rock behind them? It doesn’t look right, but that may be because of the fog.

So, they decided to leave Friday morning, because they had to meet the property agent at 1 PM to sign the lease. On Thursday night, I decided to miss my painting class so that we could all have a nice dinner out before they left. We took them to a very nice Greek restaurant in Battle Ground called George’s Molon Lavé. On Saturday, we received several pictures of them in their new home or on the beach, including this one.

Just before our New Years’ Eve party, some of the family was very upset because we heard of some untrue things my brother Mark’s wife had said or implied about John, I assume in an overzealous loyalty to her husband. In a way, it was none of my business, because the things weren’t said to me, but I was tempted to pull Mark aside and tell him to rein in his wife. However, it was clear to me on the night of the party that he knew nothing about any of this, because he was friendly to John (after not speaking to him for seven years), and he even got up from one end of the dining table and walked over to sit next to him at the other end, where they remained in conversation for quite a while. That decided me to say nothing at this point, although Nancy was not at all friendly to either John or Lucie, interesting because neither of them have ever been anything but nice to her. But then the whole thing is just plain stupid. In any case, my hope is that John and Lucie will now be far enough away for Nancy to stop meddling. If I hear of anything else, though, I’ll be speaking to Mark about it.

We had a fun New Years Eve, but because my brother Steve’s family was unable to come after all (they were unfortunately all sick), I knew none of us was going to make it to midnight (they are the ones that keep going and going, like the Energizer bunny), so at my instigation, we toasted in 7:13 PM, which just happened to be the time we started the toast. Everyone thought that was very funny. I read the situation right, because all the guests were gone by 8:30 (we started at 5, at least we were supposed to; this was the only time in my life that most of the guests showed up 1/2 hour early), although John and Lucie and I attempted to sit up watching Amadeus. Unfortunately, we thought the DVD was defective because only the last half was on it, so we switched over to It’s a Wonderful Life, which turns out to be John’s Christmas movie. (As it was, the DVD wasn’t defective, but the movie was on BOTH SIDES of it! I had never seen that before. Unfortunately, we lost the DVD case before Wayne rescued the DVD from the trash. I dug through the trash for it but did not find it. Maybe it will turn up.)

Thursday was a day for the blahs, as John and I ended up staying up well after midnight (Lucie has seen It’s a Wonderful Life too many times to stay up for it), but at least we got some exercise. I had taken John to Moulton Falls Park a few days before, and he wanted Lucie to see it, so we went for a long walk there in the rain (going in two cars so that Luke could go, as Lucie is very allergic) and got very wet. In fact, it has continued to rain here almost every day for the last couple weeks, and the only letup will be if we get some snow. Right now, I see snowflakes on my phone for every day in the next week except Friday and Saturday, but the forecast highs seem too high for that to be likely, at least this week. Next week, it’s supposed to be colder.

On Friday morning, John and Lucie left, and I went into Battle Ground with Luke to take a walk with my friend Christine. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, and we both missed what have become our almost weekly coffees. We walked Luke from the park to Battle Ground Deli and had coffee. Luckily, it was one of the few days lately that was dry.

On Saturday Luke’s classes started back up, but unfortunately, I forgot about his Monday night class this week. That’s especially bad because this coming Saturday he’ll miss his class, for I’ll be out of town. The days when Wayne might have taken him to class are long gone. Luke won’t miss Puppy Play this week, though.

This week, we are back to our usual schedule with one exception. Maja and I are switching hiking day from Wednesday to Tuesday so that we can go to a tai chi class at the Battle Ground Senior Center. I have been looking for a tai chi class, since I took it for a few years in Austin, but until I happened upon a sign in the Community Center advertising this one, the nearest one I could find was in Vancouver, and it was expensive. As far as I know, this one is either free or inexpensive. I’ll find out today when I go.