Spring is sprung(ing)

Small signs of spring are appearing this week. My sister said her crocuses and snowdrops bloomed, so I went out in the orchard to look for mine. There were none, but there were some suspicious small holes where I planted them. I think a mole or raccoon must have eaten the bulbs. (Do moles eat bulbs? I know raccoons do, as years ago a raccoon dug up and ate every bulb I planted one winter back in Austin.)

Look closely and you can see some tiny daffodils. I don’t think these ones are supposed to get much bigger.

However, my daffodils are coming up. I planted some tiny ones along the edge of the basement level before the slope down to the septic field, and they had already bloomed. My larger daffodils, which I planted under the orchard trees, are showing the blades of their leaves.

Soon these nice green stems will be daffodils.

Down in the valley, though, spring is blooming ahead of us. Clumps of large daffodils wave in the breeze here and there, and the cherry trees are starting to bloom in gorgeous shades of pink and white.

We had three beautiful days in a row, warm and sunny, during which my husband and I both did some outside work. I went around with our wheelbarrow and picked up sticks that had fallen during the winter, and I also took the covers off the patio furniture. My husband put together a garden shed. I hope we’ll be putting together my raised beds on our next fine day, because soon will be time to plant. We will also need to build a fence around the garden, or the deer and rabbits will get everything.

Although the weather had returned to rain and gotten colder again, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any more snow.

On Sunday, I was relaxing in the house when I heard a loud, reverberating bang that sounded like it was in the garage. I looked out in the garage but could see nothing wrong. Later, my husband came up from the basement and I asked him if he had heard it. He did not, but he was on the other side of the house, so it’s not surprising. He, too, looked in the garage and saw nothing.

Coincidentally, he had driven the car out of the garage earlier in the day when we were both working outside and not put it back, so he went out to move the car into the garage. When he hit the button to open the garage door, we heard a horrible grinding noise. It turned out that the spring to the garage door opener had snapped, and that was the noise I heard earlier. It’s a good thing he left the car out, because until the guy came to fix the door, two days later, it was impossible to open the garage door! We would have been stuck without a car to drive.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that we were forced to find another doctor. You may remember that when we first moved here last year, it took me more than a month to find a doctor who would take us, between the Medicare and the type of secondary insurance we had. We really like our doctor here, but in January, our clinic announced it was closing. Our doctor was not able to find another local practice, so he was planning to work in urgent care for up to six months while he looked. Originally, we were told that we should be able to sign on with his coworker at the Salmon Creek branch of our clinic, which is about 1/2 hour away.

However, the Salmon Creek clinic decided it would not take any of our doctor’s patients, because our doctor had too high a load of Medicare patients. His assistant told us that the Fishers Landing clinic was accepting a small number of Medicare patients, so we called them immediately and got on there. Unfortunately, Fishers Landing is about an hour away. We like our new doctor, but the plan is to switch back to our original doctor when he gets settled in a new local clinic, provided they will take our insurance. We have an alternate, sneaky plan, too. Our new doctor has office hours in both Fishers Landing and Salmon Creek, the same clinic that refused all of our doctor’s patients. Once we get established with the new guy, I’m going to find out if we can see him at Salmon Creek. I don’t see how they can turn us down when we are already his patient. That will save us a lot of driving.

Last week my neighbor and I returned to Moulton Falls on the East Fork of the Lewis River and walked about four miles. We were actually trying to find a path my neighbor thought linked the Moulton Falls park to the Lucia Falls park, but there was none. I think she just got confused by the confusing park map. We have still to walk the Lucia Falls loop, but it is very short, only a mile.

My niece told me about a trails app, which we will probably use today to decide where to go. So far, we are only doing easy trails, though, and it seems that most of them are very short. I suppose we could pick a short one and go around it more than once. The longer trails are the two we have done already. It doesn’t bother me to continue to walk the same trails—after all that is what I did in Austin, walk the same loop around Lady Bird Lake every morning for years—but my neighbor wants to branch out and eventually tackle harder trails.

This picture of pelmeni soup is from the recipe I used.

A few weeks ago, I reported that my Portland friend and I had done a tour of the Russian markets in Portland. I was fascinated by the different types of little frozen dumplings called pelmeni, but I was afraid to buy any because of the train trip and car ride home, a total of more than an hour’s time, during which I was sure they would melt. So, last week I visited our local Russian market and bought some a bag of lamb and a bag of cabbage pelmeni. I served the dumplings for one dinner, but my husband didn’t like them. However, I still had three pounds of dumplings, and I had noted references to soup, so I looked for a recipe. I ended up making a simple pelmeni soup, and it was delicious! My husband said he liked it much better than the dumplings by themselves, so I have gone farther and found recipes in my Russian cookbooks.

As I finished my painting in art class last week and brought it home this week, it is time to start another one. This new painting will be a landscape of the Oregon coast. I am a little trepidatious about it, as it is a complex landscape. I had been picking out simpler landscape photos to copy, but I selected this one because I had been there. My teacher picked it because she loves the Oregon coast, but she says it will be easier to paint than I think. In my art class, we draw the picture on tracing paper and then trace it onto our canvases or paper. This method makes our pictures neater, because the erasures are not on our canvas or paper. I got my picture drawn, but it turned out I had the carbon paper backward (it is quite worn, and it’s hard to tell which side is up), despite my neighbor in class and I checking to see it was right! Oops! I will start from there next week!


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.


8.5 inches of snow!

This is what 8.5 inches of snow looks like on our deck.

I think my Facebook friends might be getting tired of my snow pictures, but it’s been very snowy here, especially for an area that doesn’t usually get snow in February. It snowed all day yesterday and all day Sunday, and this morning we awakened to 8.5 inches of new snow!

Of course, this has meant that most of the things I had scheduled for this week are cancelled. I missed art class this week for the first time ever, and our Wednesday walk is cancelled. However, my husband and I are going to try to drive out around noon, because more snow is forecast for tonight and the weekend, and we need to pick up some food. I should have gone out yesterday, because the snow was localized to our area and wasn’t falling heavily at the time, but I saw several pictures of accidents on the local Facebook page, so I stayed in. But we have a lot more snow now.

The other side of our deck in the early morning

Last week, my neighbor and I went down to Lewisville Park again and attempted to walk the loop in the other direction, hoping we wouldn’t lose it this time. We did, but we made it around most of the way before losing the track. We walked about 2.5 miles.

On Sunday, when it was snowing heavily, I walked over to my niece’s house and arrived looking like the Abominable Snowman. They had quite the laugh when I came to the door. My great-niece had put a bucket out on the back porch that morning, and she brought it in with three or four inches of snow in it. Up until then, it had snowed a couple of times this year and then melted by the next day. But it looks like we are in for at least a week of snow on and off.

The huge tree on the ridge in front of our house. It towers over our front windows and I hope will never fall down.

I haven’t heard anything about the library job, and I don’t know if that’s because they are behind on their proposed schedule or I’m not going forward in the hiring process. Since the job was only advertised for a week, it’s entirely possible that they had someone in mind for it all along. They originally told us we would hear something by the end of last week, so it doesn’t look good.

My husband has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and our trip out today is for him to get a C-PAP device. I hope I am never diagnosed with that, because that will probably be the last night of sleep I get. I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to sleep with a mask on my face. I am a bad sleeper, and I have never been able to sleep if I was at all uncomfortable.

That’s about it for this week except to say that my husband is out shoveling snow. One of the things he said to me before we were married was that he hoped never to shovel snow again. Whoops!


A beautiful, white Valentine’s Day surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Among other things, a tour of Russian grocery stores

A beautiful day for a walk. Our deck looking north toward our orchard

It looks like Wednesday is becoming the default day for my long walk with the neighbor. Today, for the first time in I don’t know when, it’s beautiful out. I’m hoping it lasts. Yesterday, our contractor came over to look at some jobs we want estimates for, and it was nice while he was here, but as soon as I went out for my short walk down the road, it got gray again. Right now the weather is cool and sunny, and it would be nice if it was like that for our walk later this morning.

Last Wednesday, we went to a little county park along the Lewis River for our walk. We were attempting to walk a 2.5-mile trail indicated on the maps, but we kept getting off it and missed the correct way back. I think we probably walked about three miles. It was a gray day but not rainy. In fact, despite being rather drippy most days, the only real rain we got was last Tuesday night on the way back from art class.

I don’t think I mentioned that last week I applied for a job. Probably that was because I didn’t see the job notice until Thursday, when I sat down and made out the application immediately. I may have mentioned last year that I talked to the manager of the Battle Ground library about volunteering there, and that was when I discovered that they don’t allow volunteers to do any real library work. She suggested I keep an eye out for positions that sounded a bit like floater substitutes. I have been looking ever since, but this is the first job notice I’ve seen that sounds like it might be like that, only it is a senior position. I have some experience working in libraries way back, so I don’t know if they would consider me qualified. In fact, I was inclined to think this may be a position where they already had a candidate in mind for a promotion. However, this morning I received an email notifying me that I needed to sign up for an assessment next week of my computer skills and book-sorting capabilities. So, I have an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. This is a part-time position over at the Ridgefield library, so a bit of a drive.

Last Thursday, my sister and I went for our first weigh-in at Weight Watchers after joining. I lost 6.4 pounds, and my sister lost 2. A very good start for both of us.

On Thursday, as I said, I spent the day working on my job application, resume, and cover letter. I did not have all the information I needed. I wish I’d kept a copy of my state application for Texas, as I had to find the phone numbers and addresses for every business. Then there was the job of finding people for references. It’s been a long time since I was asked to supply any references at all, most companies in high tech being satisfied with calls to former employers.

On Saturday, we rescheduled an outing that was designed to get my husband out of the house. He doesn’t walk much anymore after injuring his knee two years ago, despite the doctor’s telling him that he needs to exercise more. And he tends to turn down opportunities to do things, preferring to stay home. So, my friend in Portland and I arranged that we would take the train into Portland and meet her at the Gateway station, where she would drive us to visit several Russian grocery stores in the area. There is a large population of Russians out here, I was originally surprised to find. My husband not only studied Russian (as did I, although I doubt that I can remember any) but he visited several times during the days of the U.S.S.R., and he actually lived there for a year with his ex-wife, when she was on a Fulbright. So, he’s the one who knows about Russian food.

On Saturday mornings, I take my great-niece to her tae kwon do class. I started doing that when I found out that she was missing the class most weekends because her parents kept forgetting about it. She loves that class so much that I thought she should be able to go if she wanted to (and incidentally, this Friday night she is testing for her yellow belt; she is all excited). When I left to pick her up, my husband told me he would be ready to go to Portland when I got back, and he seemed to be perfectly well. However, when I arrived home after dropping her off, I didn’t see him in the living room and got a sinking feeling. Sure enough, he was back in bed, and I heard the usual. He felt crappy. His legs hurt. He didn’t go.

My friend and I had a great time, although we didn’t end up eating Russian food (bought some, though). The one place that had a delicious-looking deli only had a weird little place outside to eat, so we went for train sushi. I brought back some cheese, bread, crackers, and cookies for my husband. I was tempted by the many jars of different kinds of mushrooms we found in one place, but I was afraid they would be pickled. I don’t like pickled things very much.

My picture in art class is coming along. This week I painted pine needles on top of my branches that are covered in snow and worked on my bird. My new teacher said, “This is really your first oil painting?” (Technically, it is not, but I haven’t painted in 25 years and at that time received a minimum of instruction.) I said yes, and she said, “In that case, this is remarkable.” I almost took a photo of my picture for you but decided that my phone was too buried under my art supplies.



The weather guys get it wrong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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