Glimpses of fall

After a rainy and cold week, we had beautiful weather for several days, in the high 60’s or low 70’s and sunny and in the 50’s or 40’s at night. It is supposed to start raining again in a few days, but for now we are enjoying the lovely weather. And we need the rain, so we’re not upset about that either.

Just little hints of fall color here and there

I am beginning to see very faint indications of fall. I can hear leaves falling in the forest and there are a few more on our drive. Some of the plants on our ridge have changed colors. We thought the larger one on the right of the picture might be a blueberry bush, except that I never saw any blueberries on it, and I don’t know what this one is next to the rock. The trees haven’t started to change yet, though. Our friend is coming for a visit from Houston in a few weeks, so we hope that she will see some fall color.

Yesterday I popped by our neighbor’s house. It was such a lovely day that I had to walk somewhere. I don’t like to pop into my niece’s house for fear of interrupting them, and Tuesday is a day when my sister usually sleeps most of the day because she works at night. My neighbor had invited me to come round sometime. I think she expected me to call first, but I was too shy to do so and thought I’d just go over. I think I was a little rude to do that, but she invited me in and we had a long talk. She is a widow who retired last year, just as I did. She is the neighbor who hosts the Native American religious ceremonies two times a month that I have mentioned on occasion. Her late husband was a full-blooded Native American. We talked about how we both needed to get more exercise, so soon we are going to start going for walks, maybe over at Moulton Falls.

Around the house, I haven’t done that much this week except normal housekeeping. I hung some pictures, and that’s about it. I think I am suffering from a reaction to all the work I have done in the past year to get us ready to move, the move itself, and the handling of the contracting work afterwards. I was delighted, however, to find my electronic picture frame, which has been packed away ever since I stopped having an office at my work, probably about four years. Looking at the pictures on it was fun, awakening many memories.

Finally, we started a regular Game of Thrones night with my sister, niece, and her husband. Every week we will go over to their house after the kids go to bed and watch two episodes of the show. We saw episodes one and two on Friday night after a family dinner to celebrate the fall equinox. My niece is trying to celebrate different holidays than everyone else, so she has chosen some pagan holidays that correspond fairly closely to the dates of our regular holidays. For example, they did something for a day close to Easter that has the word Oster in the holiday. My niece is an unusual girl. My husband isn’t sure he wants to continue with Game of Thrones, but he has said he will try one more time.

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Quite a deluge

This is a pitiful amount of hail, but it’s our first storm of the season.

The big news for this week is that we finally have rain! In fact, we got so much rain yesterday all at once that I stopped what I was doing to watch. It was really loud, and there turned out to be a small amount of hail. The hail was so small that at first I thought the water pouring down from our eaves troughs (which couldn’t keep up with the rain) was frothing. The picture makes it look pretty pitiful, but there was lots of it along the driveway.

In any case, it looks like we are quickly turning toward fall. From very hot temperatures two weeks ago, we went to lovely temperatures last week, and now it is quite cold. We had a fire in our fireplace all day yesterday, because the highs were in the 50’s. But this weekend is supposed to be beautiful. I am waiting for the color changes.

Some of our classical music CDs, double-stacked behind and on top

This week I put some more things away. I am finally down to boxes of decorative items and our CDs, which I finished over the weekend. We had 300 CDs in a changer and probably 200 more. Our changer broke, so I had to find places for all of those CDs. Some of them are double-stacked on the shelves.

I also sold a teapot on Etsy. Again, another fiasco with the shipping weight. At the last minute, I made the mistake of weighing the box on my food scale. Because the box is so much bigger than the scale, I had weighed the box and the packing material and then added the weight of the item for each one. But that morning I doubted myself and reweighed everything. The weight came out a pound more than I had calculated, so I added that to the package, but of course that meant the extra weight came out of my own pocket. When I got to the post office, I found that the original weight was correct. So, I paid an extra $3 for nothing. Worse, I went ahead and changed the weights of everything by a pound, thinking that the box must weigh more than I thought. Now, I’ll have to go back and reweigh all my items. Sigh.

That’s all for this week except we are excited because one of our friends from Houston is coming for a visit in October. We haven’t seen her since the Christmas before last, so we are really excited to have her come visit.

My landscape

I forgot that last week I finished my first landscape in art class. This is a drawing of a place somewhere in Utah. Although I don’t think our current art teacher is teaching us as much as our previous one, I think we’re planning to stay in the class. My sister keeps saying that she likes the time slot, and certainly if my great-niece continues with the class, this is the time we’ll have to go. My great-niece is, I think, enjoying the class more, but she gets frustrated if she can’t do everything perfectly the first time. It doesn’t help that we have kids her age or a little older in our class that have lots more art lessons than she has had. Since drawing this picture, I completed another exercise and already started another landscape.

Finally, the costume I ordered for Halloween doesn’t fit, so it’s back to the drawing board. I got a great mask, though, one of those Venetian ones with the pointy nose. Only I can’t wear my glasses when I have it on, which means I won’t be able to see. I have clearly not done Halloween in a long time.

Eclipse eclipsed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovely weather and art. What could be better?

After our hot weather the week before last, now we are having highs in the 60’s and low 70’s. Heaven! We had some rain on Sunday. A bit was forecast, but we actually had quite a downpour about 10 AM. The trees and the other plants were happy.

Our cute little sauna from Costco in the morning sunbeams. It is sitting under our deck on the patio outside the basement doors.

The contractors came back and put a rail on our steps, and that concludes their work for a while. But my husband discovered we had more money left over than he initially thought, so we can afford to have them back to redo the steps going up from the driveway to the top of the slope and the steps from the lower drive to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. Then all our dangerous outdoor steps will be gone.

The last thing finished was the sauna. It turns out that the timer was wired to be on all the time, so it was only off when we turned it on. That means that as soon as there was power to the sauna, it burned out. We got a new timer from the sauna manufacturer, and my husband is going to see if he can get a refund on the labor. I have never had a sauna, but my niece and nephew have already informed me that they would probably be over this weekend to take one. We had planned to buy a rigid sided kiddy pool to fill with cold water for after the sauna, so I guess we’d better get cracking before they aren’t available anymore.

My sister’s wolf. See how dramatic her lines are. Although she might prefer her deer, I think this is one of her best pictures.

This week I started hanging some of our pictures around the house. I was able to find the large ones but not the small ones, including one that had been in the kitchen for several months, a historical photo of a tornado next to the capitol building in Austin. I hope to find the rest soon.

My sort of pathetic horse

Those of you who have been interested in my art class might like to see some pictures I took last week. Both my sister and I were finishing up our latest drawings. The figures were supposed to be animals in close-up, and I was drawing a white horse in a snowstorm and my sister a wolf. I have to say that I was the least happy with the results of this picture. It’s very hard to draw a white on white subject in black and white. I thought my horse looked the least like a real animal than any of my other pictures.

Anyway, I’ve commented on how much bolder my sister is in her drawing than I am. She just really goes at the canvas, whereas I am still worried about making mistakes. I think that sometimes my work has come out better than hers, but in this case, it is totally the opposite, as you can see from this series of pictures. Good news! My great-niece will be able to start art class right on time, next week, the same week school starts.

My sister in art class drawing her wolf

Two big accomplishments

I was estimating it would take me through the weekend to put away my books, and we are running out of time to prepare for my brother’s visit. We are going to the beach on Saturday for my sister’s birthday celebration and won’t be back until Sunday. My brother is coming from the beach to our house on Monday, so we don’t have much time.

The back of the big room. Picture it before, with about 80 boxes and assorted junk, and the furniture just anyhow and covered with dust.

But I was wrong about the books. On Wednesday morning last week, I got through F, and then my sister volunteered to come help me with them after art class. Once she gets going on something, she really gets going, and she had a good idea about doing a double sort. Instead of putting all the books for one letter on the table and alphabetizing them, which could be very difficult with letters that had lots of stacks, she sorted out all the, say, GA’s first, then began making stacks of GE, GI, and so on while I sorted the GA’s by author and title. It made the work go so much faster that in a couple of hours, we were able to get through N. The next morning, using her new system, I got halfway through T (S and T were lots of stacks), and then she came over again. Within a half hour, we had finished the books. When I tell you that we had 11 stacks of just the letter M, you will know that we shelved a lot of books.

I took my sister out to dinner on Wednesday evening, and on the way to take her home, we saw our friends the doe and her two fawns, having a snack in our orchard.

The big room toward the window. A few boxes still by the window

My husband and I then set about clearing out the room. We finished doing that as good as it is going to be done by Sunday, and then I started cleaning it. Here are pictures of what the big room looks like now.

And we finally got our carpet in, after waiting for it since February. It is not a perfect match with the existing carpet. To me, it looks browner. I felt like the existing carpet had more light and blue colors in it. I chose a speckled color to hide dirt. But since the two carpets meet at the doorway, I don’t think anyone is going to notice.

The carpet is in!

I started cleaning the house on Monday. I had been neglecting the cleaning while I worked on books and helped my husband stack firewood. We did a little more of that today. Our last rack finally came in, and I just finished stacking three layers and came in to rest. My husband is still outside splitting the larger logs. The shade by the woodpile is almost gone, so I probably won’t go back out to work today. It’s only an hour before I have to leave for my class.

The contractors came back out on Friday to “button up” the rest of their work, that is, put the transitions in where the marmoleum and hardwood floors meet, adjust the pocket doors for the new floor height, do some dry walling in the electric room, rehang the closet door in the laundry room, and finish the sauna. Unfortunately, when we tested the sauna, the heater did not work. We had it on for more than an hour and no heat. So, the electrician has to come back out. We don’t think he saw the instructions for the sauna in the folder with the ones for the generator when he came the first time. He knew the generator, so he probably didn’t even look at the folder.

My clown fish

For those who are interested in my art class, here is my latest picture, of a clown fish among anemones. We are still not sure we are going to stick with our new teacher. The time slot is good for my sister and for my great niece, who is on the waiting list for our class. But we have noticed that the teacher spends lots of time with the kids in the class and not much time with the adults (the opposite of our former teacher, but then most of the kids in the class are not serious about the art). If we didn’t need help with our art, would we be in a class? My sister is going to talk to her today. She told me what she was going to say, and I said it was better for her to talk to her, because I wouldn’t be so tactful.

A painted house

I just noticed that the titles of my last four posts ended in exclamation points. Got to get out of that bad habit.

My before picture in very bad light

The house is painted, and it looks so good. Originally, it was a light gray, so light and faded that even after we bought the house and were still living in Austin, I remembered it as being white, with white trim. Before we got here, my niece painted some of the siding that needed protection with the original paint, and the house had faded so much that there was a dark blotch on the side of the house. The door was a pale blue. Above is my before picture.

My new beautiful house with the bright green door

Here is my after picture. I wish I had remembered to take it yesterday in the afternoon when it was well lit. Both pictures were taken early in the morning before I posted the blog. The new colors are a very dark gray with black trim. The door, if you can see it, is a very bright leaf green.

The back of the house showing the door color and the almost matching umbrella

Here is a picture of the back of the house. The paint looks lighter than it actually is, but you may be able to get a better idea of what it looks like. The windows are vinyl, so I couldn’t do anything about them being white, but they look nice.

A-C shelved at last!

I have been working away at my books. I figure I unpacked about 60 boxes of books and put them in stacks by the first letter of the last name of the author. I started doing it on Thursday and worked at it all weekend and Monday. On Monday, my husband moved the reference books and A-C upstairs, because we only have two bookshelves up there, and yesterday I shelved the reference books by topic and then A-C alphabetically. Anal retentive, I know.

Today I probably won’t get much done because it is art class day. My brother and his wife are coming for a visit in two weeks, and we have a lot to get done in the basement first. Their room is in good shape except for changing the sheets and cleaning the bathroom, but the room outside their room is meant to be a library, study, a TV room, and activities room (it’s very big) and right now it is a room that is full of stacks of books a lot of junk. I want to clear it out and make it look nice for when we get here, and the first job is to put away the books. My husband says, “It’s not like they’re visiting royalty,” but my husband will still be saying that three years from now if I let him. Right now, he is in work mode, and I hope to keep him going until we have that room right. Maybe the incentive of a new big-screen TV for that room once we get it cleaned up and in order will work. We have been looking at TVs for months at Costco, but we aren’t buying one until the room is ready for it.

As far as the rest of the renovation projects go, we are just waiting for our contractors to return to “button up,” as Dustin calls it, our house. We have a few odds and ends and the sauna that need to be finished. The only project that isn’t done at all yet is a redo of our dangerous outside steps from the top story of the house down to the basement level.

The carpet is coming!

Yes, finally, I am advised by Lowe’s that the carpet got shipped. I called them this week to find out, because I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. If they hadn’t told me it had been shipped, I would have started talking to them about changing or cancelling our order. We have been waiting for the carpet since February. The Lowe’s associate told me that when it arrived at the installer’s, they would call me to schedule installation. I have to say that I haven’t been impressed by Lowe’s service this go-round. If I hadn’t called them about the carpet in June, they probably wouldn’t have called me to tell me the shipping had been delayed.

While I’m talking flooring, the guy came out on Monday to fix the bubble in our marmoleum. He said that since linoleum is a natural product, it expands and contracts with the weather. Apparently, it expanded and pushed up against the cabinet for the sink. All he had to do was trim it a bit and glue it back down. Problem solved. It looks great.

My before picture. There is a better picture of the house at the top of my blog, but it was taken before we owned it.

And speaking of contractors, yesterday the house painters returned to begin working on the outside of the house. They power-washed the house and are back this morning caulking. They said they would begin painting tomorrow. I went out this morning and took a “before” picture so that I would be able to show the difference when it is done. One of the painters is outside the front door right now singing really badly.

We also have had a visit by the deer family. The deer we saw in our yard this spring were two sets of twins from a doe we hadn’t seen yet. But the other evening, we were sitting in the living room when I looked up and saw two fawns and a doe outside our window. Unfortunately, my phone was across the room, and when I got up to get it, the fawns ran out of view. The doe stayed and munched for a while at our blueberry bushes. Then all of them leapt up the ridge in front of the house. I hope they’ll be returning often.

My friend looking very tiny above Lucia Falls

On the social event front, I have a friend I used to work with in Austin who moved to Portland years ago. We have been getting together about once a month, but we missed the last two months. I drove in to the train station in North Portland and picked her up on Saturday. She came to the house to see all our improvements, and then we went out to lunch at a place called the Rusty Grape Winery. After that, we took the North Clark County scenic drive. It was a beautiful day for it, and here is a picture of my friend, very tiny in the middle of the photo.

My sister and I are getting a little peeved with our new art teacher, because she skipped both of us twice last week when she was doing her rounds. If you are busy as she goes by, instead of checking in with us or giving suggestions like the old teacher did, she just goes on to the next person. As a result, she spent a lot of time helping one of the children in the class, much more time than she spent with the adults. Why does she think we are taking an art class if we don’t need any help? If it was up to me, I would switch to a Tuesday or Thursday night class with our old teacher, but I think that might pose a problem for my sister, and even if it doesn’t, we are planning to add her granddaughter to the class soon.

All week my husband and I worked on and off at stacking firewood, and we finally did all we can do. We have to order another rack! At last, I can tell by looking at the pile of firewood that is left that we have made progress.

And there has been one delay after another, but tomorrow I should be able to start putting away my books. Yesterday, I helped my husband move a buffet and another shelf out of the storage room, and I removed all the things that are currently on the shelves (with my husband around, no space stays bare for long) and dusted them. So, first thing on Thursday after I finished posting my book blog, I will start sorting books!