A scent of fresh Heyer

One of the pleasures of this weekend was a visit to a small local theater where Deb and I saw they were doing a play based on a Georgette Heyer book, The Talisman Ring. Now, I am not a romance reader, but I have been fond of Georgette Heyer’s clever and funny Regency romances since I was in college, and I introduced Deb to them last year. So, when I saw that this tiny theater was doing an Heyer-based play, we just had to get tickets.

The poster for The Talisman Ring

The play was in the Love Street Playhouse in Woodland, Washington. It holds fewer than 100 people and has a very small stage, hampered by doors that have to be opened to make it a little larger. We were delightfully surprised at the production. It is one of Heyer’s typically frothy stories with a complicated plot about a lost heir, a false accusation of murder, and a lost ring. We found it original in its approach to some difficulties (not being able to have horses on stage, for example) and very funny. The two female leads were particularly good. I was struck by a scene where the standard dashing hero (who, if you know Heyer, you will know is not the actual hero of the play) flings one of the heroines onto his horse and rides off into the woods. The couple merely sat on a bench with wheels, while people holding branches and small trees ran past them.

Anyway, we found it lots of fun (despite being hampered by having one of the actors from the Magenta Theater in a lead role—the weakest performance, we thought) and have decided to get tickets for their next production, And Then There Were None.

Luke and I also had some sort of visitation last week. I was outside in the garden and he was on the front lawn chewing his bone. At one point, he suddenly ran from the front yard past the garden, which is in the side yard. Just as he did that, a creature ran the same direction only up above me on the ridge above our front yard. It was large and made a lot of noise but ran swiftly, too fast for a human. Oddly, it wasn’t Luke that ran last. He wasn’t running after it, it began running after he did but did not come down to our level. I didn’t see it, but I think it sounded too large and noisy to be a deer. In any case, if it had been an animal that was startled by Luke, it would have run first, not last. I talked it over with my pack walk ladies, and one of them suggested it might be a cougar or a bear. Right above us on the ridge, which is about the height of our one-story house. And I suspect that if it ran after Luke did, it was stalking him and did nothing because it saw me at the last moment. I have been keeping a much closer eye on him when he’s been outside on his own (which he doesn’t like to do anyway; he is constantly asking to go out but then refusing to go unless I go with him).

Shawn and I on the 45th Parallel trail at Whipple Creek Park, this photo sneakily taken by Nancy

Last Wednesday, we went to Whipple Creek Park for our hike. We had originally planned to take a very easy hike, because my niece wanted to bring her friend, who is not fit. However, they cancelled because my niece was sick. It was the first hike for my sister-in-law, Nancy, so we went somewhere a little more interesting. At her suggestion, instead of just hiking the main paths, we took a secondary path that cut right through the middle of the park. It was actually an easier path than the main ones, because it had very little elevation change. We were the only ones on that path, although we passed several runners and horse riders on the main paths.

There was no puppy play again for Luke this week, and no classes either, so on Friday, Christine and I took our dogs for a walk in Lewisville Park. It was starting to get warm by the time we finished, a trend that continued until Monday, when a thunderstorm and a cold front came in. The temperature went down Monday evening about 10 degrees in a few minutes, and it continues to be cooler than average.

Hillary continues to improve, I think. She has changed from eating kitten food to eating chicken breast lunch meat (low sodium). It is probably not really good for her, but everything else she chose to eat, she stopped eating after a day or two. Not only has she been eating the chicken breast since Friday, but she has been devouring it, begging for more almost every time I pass her. I hope to see her gain some weight and seem a little less weak. We tried giving her chicken breast that we cooked and tore up about a week ago, but she did not eat it. There must be something about the softer texture of the lunch meat that she likes. Wayne is not enjoying the expense, but if she’ll eat it, she gets it, as far as I’m concerned.

In art class, I finished the blackish teal color and started painting some aqua spots on the starfish. These spots are speckled in the photo I am painting from, and to re-create the effect, I am painting them with a slightly darker color and then dotting them with white while the paint is still wet. It took me a long time just to do a few. In a few instances, I noticed some yellow as well as white, so I have dotted some of them with yellow. I didn’t get very far doing these spots last week, and this week there is no class because of the holiday.

My first batch of green peas

In the garden, I’ve started to pick spinach and I have harvested just a few pods of green peas. Last year, I only got enough peas to add a few to a mixed vegetable dish. This year, I have that many already and a bunch more pods coming in.

The other notable thing I did this week was finish reading a book written by my middle brother. Although it is fiction, it is based on true events in our family, some of which I knew about and some not. It was difficult for me to read, and I admit to being a little freaked out about it.

All over the place

Because I had guests this week, I have been on the run every day and have lots of pictures. This was a particularly fun visit because of all the places we went.

On Thursday morning, my friends Ray and Karen and I left for Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, picking up Deb in Clackamas on the way. I thought it was going to be interesting, because none of these people had ever met each other before. They just all knew me. But everyone got along very well.

On our way down to Ashland, we stopped in Albany to have lunch. We had intended to eat a Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant, but they had had a fire and were closed. So, we ate at a restaurant where we stopped last year, Brick and Mortar Cafe. While we were waiting for our table, we walked down the street so that Karen and Ray could see the reconstructed carousel.

We arrived in Ashland about 5:00 PM and checked in. We stayed at the Tudor Inn, the same place as last year, but not in the old motel part of the inn. Instead, we were in rooms across the street, which were much more expensive because they were fancier and this was during the high season. Between my room and Deb’s and next to Ray’s and Karen’s was a little sitting room that seemed like it was just for us, even though it was open to the other guests and had an exit off one end. It was nice, but if we go next year, we’ll try to get in the motel again. The opulence isn’t really worth the difference in price since our original rooms were just fine and neat and clean, with everything new.

Then we went to get our tickets at the box office, had dinner early, and wandered around town until our first play started at 8:00. I thought that because it was high season, the stores might stay open later than 6:00, but just like before, most of the stores closed at 6:00 except the Bloomsbury Bookstore (a very good bookstore).

Our first play was All’s Well That Ends Well in the Elizabethan Theater. The reason we chose to go during the summer this year was so we could attend the open-air Elizabethan Theater. And now I have to confess to a certain amount of idiocy, because although I knew we were going to an outdoor theater, I didn’t put two and two together about the forecast temperature until I walked into the theater and saw they were selling blankets. I hadn’t even worn the layers I could have worn. And, although I had told my guests way back when that it was open air, they had apparently forgotten. What made it worse was that when Ray checked the forecast before coming, it was showing hot temperatures for his whole visit, so he didn’t even bring a jacket, just a fleece vest. (His only souvenir of the trip was an Oregon Shakespeare Festival sweatshirt, which he bought first thing the next morning.)

I had only read the play a few weeks before departing and noted it wasn’t one of Shakespeare’s best. Plus, I was curious about how some of the ideas would go over with a modern audience, particularly the ending, where, no matter how jerky the man had acted throughout the play, the happy ending was his marriage to the heroine, or more accurately, his falling in love with his wife. The play was entertaining, but we weren’t sure we liked some of the artistic decisions. The costumes were very weird, sort of a cross between Elizabethan and 19th century, with some 20th century thrown in. A very odd choice was made in Helena’s costumes to dress her like an Elizabethan boy at some times (well, a stylized Elizabethan costume) and in overalls at other times. I don’t mind the idea of placing a play in another time period, but I would like them to make up their minds. I thought the costumes were more distracting than otherwise.

The audience did boo Bertram during the course of the play, and of course, he was the reluctant groom who ends up in a supposedly happy marriage with Helena at the end. I guess the audience most likely would not have booed him in Elizabethan times.

The experience was a good one, but we froze our butts off, not being smart enough to buy blankets. As always, it was better to see the play for me than to try to read it, but this play is not one that has beautiful speeches in it.

These were the turkeys in the park that let me walk up to within four feet of them before they started casually strolling away

In the morning, we strolled around Limpia Park for a while, but we didn’t realize until we bought a hiking map later in the day, just how extensive it is. We could see there was a big gate farther in, but we didn’t go that far. In part of the park, they were preparing for two events, and in another part, we saw a bunch of wild turkeys. They let me go quite near to them.

The Elizabethan Theater with the first setting for Macbeth

The next day, we had two plays to go to. One was As You Like It, which took place in the larger of the two other theaters. As You Like It has never been one of my favorite plays, because it just seems disjointed to me. In addition, I seldom very much enjoy the humor of Elizabethan times, although like other things, I often find it funnier in performance. There were also some interesting costume choices in this play as well as some annoying stylized movements at times, including at the opening of the play.

We all went to see Macbeth, which was the final play for me and Deb, the one I was most excited about seeing. This play was more traditionally staged except that they moved some scenes around for no apparent reason. I don’t have the play memorized or anything, but it was pretty obvious when they started the play with a fairly boring informational scene (a discussion of what was going on with the king) instead of the witches. I am not sure what would lead them to make such a decision to start the play that way instead of eerily, as it was meant. However, the witches stayed on the stage for most of the play, observing and adding to the eeriness, and that was a good decision. We all liked this play much better.

The North Mountain Park Nature Center has paths and benches and deer grazing on the grounds.

The next day, only Ray and Karen had a play and that was in the evening, Alice in Wonderland, so we had the day to kill. Karen decided to stay in and write postcards, etc., while Deb and Ray and I went out exploring. First, we took a very short river walk. Then we went across the road to the North Mountain Park Nature Center. Finally, we walked a couple of miles on the Bear Creek Greenway, which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, although at that point it was not in the mountains.

Recently, I heard of a new movie by Kenneth Branaugh about Shakespeare. I found out it had come out in 2018, but I couldn’t find it playing anywhere in our area, although I looked for it several times. To my delight, it was playing in Ashland. So, Saturday afternoon we all went to the movies. It was a very good movie, and I was happy to see it in a theater, because it had some nice panoramic shots.

Deb and I decided just to hang out in our rooms on Saturday night, although we went for dessert to Mix, a delicious bakery in Ashland, where we made a point to stop several times. We always split our desserts so didn’t feel too guilty about it. So, a quiet evening. Ray and Karen reported that they enjoyed their play and thought particularly that the costumes were very inventive. They also said that the few degrees warmer temperature made it much warmer in the audience, and they didn’t put their coats on until intermission.

Crater Lake

Early on Sunday morning, we got started, because our plan was to visit Crater Lake on the way home. We found out that only one road is open so far into the park, and that was the south one, which meant that we would have to backtrack on our way out rather than being able to come out farther north. The lake is simply breathtaking, so we were happy to have come even though it meant that we got home rather late. We took a picnic lunch with us. You could only drive up to the Rim Village and a bit beyond to Discovery Point to view the lake, although if we had had more time, we could have hiked farther.

We got home after 9:30 and discussed our plans for the next day, which turned out to be another long driving day. It was to Seattle, where we wanted to visit Chihuly Gardens and Glass. I have been wanting to see a Chihuly installation since I first looked at one online years ago. I have seen a couple of pieces of his in Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids but have not been in a city where a garden was installed.

We met up with my brother and his son for lunch at Chinook’s. Delicious. Then we went to the gardens.

One of the exhibits in the Chihuly gallery outside the gardens. To give perspective, this was two full-sized boats (you can only see part of the second one on the left) filled with objects resembling sea life.

The work was beautiful, but I was a little disappointed because the garden was so small, and he only used a few different shapes of items. Particularly, there was no water installation, and I think the things he does with fountains and ponds are among his most interesting work. However, the gallery, although only of a half dozen or so rooms, was very beautiful.

After we left the gardens, we wandered around Seattle Center for a bit, and had a cool drink. Then it was time to hit the road, at about the very worst time possible. I ended up in a traffic jam for about an hour on the way to Tacoma, but after Tacoma, the rest of the way was fine. I think it took about twice as long to get from Seattle to Tacoma as it did to get from Tacoma to Seattle.

On Tuesday, my guests opted for a visit to Portland. We drove to the Cascades Station of the Max train, took the train into town, and walked to Powell’s books. I bought a handful of books. Then we had lunch at Deschutes Brewery and took the train home. For once, we were home by about four, so we had a lazy evening, just going out to dinner.

Wednesday morning I took my friends to the airport. Later in the afternoon, I went over to visit my brother and sister-in-law, who are now moving in to their new home in Amboy. They moved up from Berkeley a couple days ago.

So, it was an exciting week with lots going on.

 

Snowpocalypse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby, it’s cold inside

Here are two of the guys from the Yacolt station of the Clark County Fire Department. The guy on the right is the commander.

Our big event for the week happened on Wednesday night. My first clue was that it got very hot in the living room so that I had to take off my sweater. Just a hint. I never take off my sweater in the house during the winter. Then, a little while later we were watching TV and the smoke detector went off. We couldn’t see any smoke, but Wayne went outside and said that sparks were flying up out of the chimney of our wood stove, so he told me to call the fire department. The fire department got here in about five minutes, cooled off our stove and told us not to use it until we got it cleaned. (We have not neglected it, though, we got it cleaned last winter.) They were really nice guys. The fire commander told me some things about what they were doing and what the colors of their helmets mean (orange is probationers and yellow means they have passed some level of training) and told me that they were all volunteers except for him. They were a bunch of nice guys, very understanding about what I felt like was almost a false alarm. The sparks had stopped going out of the chimney by the time they got there.

So, thanks, guys from the Yacolt station of the Clark County Fire Department for coming so quickly and being so helpful! I took Luke back in the house after it looked like they were leaving and started sweeping up insulation that came down from our attic. Then I realized that they still seemed to be there. I went out to see what was going on, and they had backed the fire engine into our racks of firewood and knocked them over. Well, it’s a fairly small turnaround, big enough for cars and smaller trucks but too small for a fire engine! They were actually restacking our wood! Now, that’s what I call service. The racks got a bit munched up but they still work.

And speaking of that, an odd follow-up to that experience was that two days later, we received this huge packet from some kind of insurance adjustment company assuming that our house burned down. At least, that’s all we could think of. It started out condoling us, and at first we thought it was about Wayne’s sister-in-law, who died last week. It took us a minute to figure out what it was about. I guess they’re the fire equivalent of ambulance chasers.

That was our excitement for last Wednesday, and it was a bit of a shock when on Thursday, Wayne announced that our heating system wasn’t working. He said the heat exchanger was burnt out, whatever that means. So, I guess you understand my post title for this week. The furnace guy is scheduled to come out tomorrow, and the chimney sweep on Friday. That’s this week. So, for the next five days, we were huddled part of the time next to a space heater by our chairs. Then yesterday, my husband suddenly started fiddling with the thermostat, and lo and behold, we had heat! I don’t know what it was that made him decide the system was broken, but it apparently isn’t. Unfortunately, he can’t remember who he called for service, so we can’t tell them not to come tomorrow.

For Thursday art class, my sister and I did a double. My art teacher has finally convinced my sister to work in oils, so I got her a gift certificate from the art school for a down payment on her oil set for Christmas. Tomorrow night I am doing another double, but Sue has to work.

On Saturday afternoon, I went over to my niece’s and sister’s house to help with cookie decorating. It was the complete family again like the first year, all decorating (except Wayne, of course, who didn’t go). It was lots of fun.

Mischa and Luke with Santa at the puppy Christmas party

And speaking of Christmas activities, I went online and downloaded the picture of Luke and Mischa with Santa from the puppy Christmas party. Lukey looks like he wants to get away from there as soon as possible. Mischa is styling, as usual.

Wayne and I decided to have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, so we sat down for it earlyish. All presents wrapped, everything done. Then later on, I took my favorite holiday movie over to Sue’s (currently, it is Love Actually) and we watched it together.

On Christmas morning, we took two quiches over to the relatives’ house and had brunch and presents. It was a perfect idea for Christmas—no huge meal where you have to stay for hours and hours, just an exchange of gifts and a light brunch and plenty of laughing. Everyone said I got a little carried away with the gift-giving this year. I admit it, I did!

That was our week, and I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!

New excursions

Most of my week, besides my ordinary activities, was taken up with planning for and thinking about my big task for the week, which was to buy tickets for five people to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival next summer. We have two people coming in from town, and my friend Deb and sister Sue are coming, too.

I have a fairly basic membership, so for me, the website and phone lines opened up to buy tickets at 8 AM on Friday. Before that, my friends and I had a few email exchanges to clarify what everyone wanted in case I had difficulty getting tickets for anything we planned to go see. Unlike this year, when Deb and I went in April, we explicitly planned to go in June so that we could attend the Elizabethan Theater. As it is an outdoor theater, it is only open during the summer. We also wanted to avoid the possibility of plays being cancelled because of forest fires, so we decided to go as early in the season as possible to see our chosen plays.

OSF offers three ways to buy tickets, and I was trying to figure out which one would work best. You can place an unseated order before your open date, and then starting at 8 AM on that day, they will begin assigning seats. I thought that might be the method most likely to go wrong. How do they allocate seats, for example? Do they block off the number they will need for the total number of reservations? In that case, this method would work best, probably. But if the people assigning seats at OSF are actively competing against the people logging in to the web site or calling, probably not.

So, I decided to try both calling and logging in. Calling, I had to dial four or five times before I got into their system to wait. Logging in, I got in a queue that gave me a countdown until I would be able to access the site. Logging in worked best at first and I was able to pick my seats and get them into my shopping cart before anyone came on the phone. Unfortunately, tickets to one play were already sold out. I am not sure whether that means the members with a higher membership status bought them before Friday or if that does mean that, while they aren’t assigning seats to the people who put in unassigned requests, they are allocating the number of seats they need. I got in soon enough after 8 AM that it seems unlikely that all the seats sold out that morning.

However, I got tickets to the three plays everyone wanted to see, All’s Well That Ends Well, Macbeth, and As You Like It, and I got the last two tickets to Alice in Wonderland for my sister and friend. I was surprised to see, however, how few seats were left for any of the plays we wanted to attend. It was when I tried to finish my transaction that I ran into delays. When I was ready to pay, I got a message saying that I would be allowed to do so in 40 minutes! That was when making the call, too, and staying on hold the whole time paid off, because a nice man came on the phone within 10 minutes. He was able to help me finish my transaction by picking up my seats as I let them go from my shopping cart, and then I paid over the phone. All in all, I think I may have been on the phone and online for about 20 minutes, which isn’t so bad.

Deb got started after that on making our hotel arrangements, and that turned out to be more problematic. We were not able to get rooms  in the cheaper part of the hotel that we got last time, so we are having to spend more money. I’m not sure how much more it is for the more expensive building (this hotel occupies four buildings; our rooms last year were in the “historic” section, which just means it was an old-fashioned motel that had been updated) and how much because we are going in high season. Next year, after we have experienced the Elizabethan Theater, we will have to evaluate how important that is versus the crowds and inconvenience we anticipate from going during high season.

Back to our normally scheduled events, my hiking friends and I just went to Moulton Park again this week, but we hiked longer than usual, about four miles. It was a cold, damp morning, so it was nice to finish it off with a visit to the new pho restaurant in Battle Ground. Since then, it has been dry and crisp, with lovely cold days. Tomorrow it is supposed to get damp again, however, even with snow in the higher altitudes expected on Thanksgiving weekend.

Lukey did well in puppy class this week. He was the star of come when called during both classes. However, he gets really distracted when the class is large, as it was on Saturday, with 11 puppies. He can also smell the cookies in my pocket and jumps up on me to try to get one. So, he did a poor job at down later on Saturday’s class. He just wouldn’t stay down. We were doing it in their outside section, so I don’t know if that was because of the cold ground or the amount of confusion. The instructor has pretty much let me know that he is ready to graduate at the end of the month.

In art class, I continued painting my first coat of sky on my landscape. I also got my still life painting framed. I hung it in a place where you can see the original jug and the painting at the same time, which makes it interesting.

Finally, Deb and I did some fun things Sunday. First, we went for dim sum in Portland. Those of you who know me know that I love dim sum. In fact, at my last workplace, I was known as the Duchess of Dim Sum, because I periodically arranged dim sum lunches for a large group of coworkers. Deb took me out to Wong’s King restaurant in Portland for the first dim sum I have had since we moved to Washington two years ago. Yum, yum! Although, just as a note, we decided they left the food on the carts too long. We had some that wasn’t very fresh or warm. However, I’m not complaining!

Later, we took a mushroom identification class at Scouters Mountain Park in Happy Valley, Oregon. It was a beautiful day, but it was very, very cold on Scouters Mountain. Going up the trail to the picnic area where the class was scheduled, we saw two deer, who didn’t seem very worried at all that we were nearby. Up in the park, there were beautiful views of Mt. Hood.

The deer at Scouters Mountain don’t seem to be worried about us at all.

The class was interesting, but we both felt there was too much standing around for such a cold day. First, there was about a half hour introduction on fungi. Then we went down the trail to look for mushrooms. My feet had turned into ice blocks by then, even though I had on warm socks and hiking shoes. I hadn’t thought to wear my winter boots because I only put them on in snow, and we haven’t had any yet. Looking for mushrooms involves taking a few steps and then stopping because someone has found a mushroom, then talking about it for five minutes, and then taking a few more steps. So, we didn’t get very warm from that. Finally, we decided to cut out half an hour early and go drink coffee and hot chocolate. Nevertheless, it was fun and a good way to enjoy the sunny, crisp day. And to think that I was afraid I had worn too many layers!

Yesterday, I picked all my remaining brussel sprouts from my garden and uprooted those plants as well as my squash and eggplant plants. Today or perhaps this weekend I will see what I can do with the zillion green tomatoes on my tomato plants. I had one yellow tomato off one plant this summer and all the red ones on the other plant seemed to have a fungus. Now that it is too late for any tomatoes to ripen, I have scads of them. I don’t know how to can or anything, so the question is, what to do with a bunch of green tomatoes?

After  I pull up all my plants except my artichoke, it will be time to spread more dirt and the alpaca poop I bought this summer, all to be ready for next spring.

That was all for this week. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Disastrous lead-up to a dinner party

Well, maybe not exactly disastrous but not really as planned. But first, our hiking day.

Lucia Falls

Last Wednesday because I had to get home and clean, we decided to go hiking nearby. We picked Lucia Falls Park, which I wouldn’t have necessarily thought would make a good hike because the trail is very short, but Shawn said she’d seen pictures posted of salmon jumping, so we thought we’d go there and try to see some.

In fact, it was a beautiful day. I have only been in the park when it was pouring with rain, so it was a revelation to see how pretty it is on a crisp autumn morning. We didn’t see any fish, but we managed to get some exercise by exploring the park thoroughly. Before, I had only just gone down to see the falls and back, which is a very short walk.

In the afternoon, I came back and cleaned my bathrooms, but I’m afraid I never got around to the dusting.

That night we took Lukey to puppy class, and our class had expanded from nine to eleven dogs! So much for the perfect class of five! Even worse, when we took him to puppy class on Saturday, there were 13 dogs! And they had it in their new facility, which I found freezing, overcrowded, noisy, and very distracting. Lukey had a much harder time concentrating with all the new puppies in the class and the confusion.

On Thursday, I had determined to clean our hardwood floors. This was one job that had to wait until the last minute because of wet puppy footprints. I managed to procrastinate until after lunch, and then just as I was getting started, I got a call from my oldest brother, wishing me happy birthday. I don’t think he has called me for about 20 years. I had an entertaining conversation with him, but he is a talker, and after an hour I had to tell him I only had a couple hours to finish my floors. I finally got them done. Then in the late afternoon, my sister Sue picked me up and we went for Greek food at George’s Molon Lave in Battle Ground. We both had lamb chops and asparagus. Yummy.

Then to art class, where I began painting my newest painting. My last one is still not dry enough to take home.

Friday was, by bad timing, the day for our dinner party. I was so concerned about everything I had to do that when I woke up at 4 AM I couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I got up. Wayne got up about an hour later, and we decided to go to breakfast, returning about when everyone else was going to work. Then we relaxed with coffee for a while, and I found myself nodding off. So, we all went back to bed.

I got up around 11:30 and started to cook and set the table. I should probably have said that since most of the work done in our house before we bought it seems to have been completed by idiots, we have had lots of trouble with the plumbing under our kitchen sink. You can tell just by looking at it that an amateur installed it, as the angles are all wrong. Wayne has had to fix it several times, and ever since we got our new dishwasher, we’ve had lots of trouble with it because the installers obviously didn’t put it back correctly. A couple weeks ago, we started having leaks under the sink after we used the garbage disposal. I suggested that we hire a plumber to come out and replace everything and install the new garbage disposal that we bought when we thought ours was on its last legs. But Wayne said no, he could do it. And he did, but a few days before our dinner party, I discovered that now it leaked when we ran the dishwasher. As one of the secrets of a successful dinner party is to have an empty dishwasher ready and waiting, this was not good. Of course, Wayne didn’t get around to trying to fix it until I started cooking.

So, he thumped around under the sink for a while and then pronounced it fixed. About that time, my friend Deb arrived to help me get ready. All went fine, with her peeling the pumpkin while I chopped up carrots, until I ran the garbage disposal, at which point water squirted out from under the kitchen sink, the doors for which were still open, and sprayed all over my jeans.

So, we had to put the sink out of operation for the duration of the meal, and we were unable to run the dishwasher so that I had a huge pile of pots and pans sitting on the counter all during our dinner party. Luckily, the house has a small sink in the corner of the kitchen that I don’t usually use, or I don’t know what I would have done.

The dinner party was a success, though. I served pumpkin/lamb couscous and tomato and cucumber salad and a selection of olives. We ordered hummus, baba ganoush, and pita from Pita House, and Deb brought homemade baklava. A good time was had by all. Deb was staying the night, and I found that by the time Shawn and Randy left, I was just about falling down with tiredness.

Unfortunately, we had to get up early to take Lukey to puppy class and even earlier to make the quiche that Deb brought for breakfast. It was delicious, though. Sweet potato slices instead of crust, and the insides a mixture of brussell sprouts, sage, and the usual quiche mixture of eggs, milk, and cheese. Very thoughtful and yummy.

After puppy class, Deb and I dropped off Wayne, who had run to the hardware store for parts to fix the plumbing (all fixed, I think) and then picked up Shawn, and we all drove to Washougal for the Pendleton Woolen Mills sale. We went the back way from Shawn’s, which involves driving through the forest and over the mountains. It was a nice day, so we had a beautiful drive, and we ended the day by eating lunch at a restaurant in a marina right on the Columbia River. The restaurant wait staff was incompetent and the food mediocre, but the view was wonderful.

By Sunday, I was so tired that I was grateful to have nothing scheduled. I just collapsed on the couch, and since then our week has gone on normally, with us doing our usual things.

Between a dog and a cat

Last night, we finally tried a big experiment. Ever since we got Luke, he has been sleeping in the guest room, first, because Hillary was afraid of him and he was afraid of Hillary, and second, because he wasn’t house trained. He still isn’t one hundred percent. We just had only our second day with no accidents yesterday (part of that is our fault, of course; it’s hard to keep taking out a dog who just wants to fart around eating wood and catching bugs), but he hasn’t had an accident in bed since a night when we first got him. (Of course, Wayne being Wayne, he neither thought to put the peed-upon comforter into the washer or spray it with something, he just put it on the floor.) At first, we took turns sleeping with Luke, but after a few days, Wayne decided to sleep with him because I couldn’t sleep all night when I did, so worried was I that he would have an accident.

So, we picked last night as the big night, the one when Wayne and Luke would return to the big bed. I had been peacefully sleeping with Hillary for weeks. (Actually, it was very nice having the bed to just myself and a small cat.) But we had introduced the pets to each other a few times, and although they were wary, we weren’t having fights or chases or anything. So, last night Hillary was quite taken aback when we came in for bed and put Lukey on the bed. He was a little anxious and tried to get off, but it is just a bit too high for him to jump off. Hillary immediately went under the bed and then under the desk chair.

To my surprise, after we all settled down, Hillary came back onto the bed and slept beside me all night. She doesn’t even do that usually unless she is cold. So, I was a pet sandwich. I had Lukey pressed up against my leg on one side and Hillary up against my head and side on the other. It would have been fine except I had leg cramps all night, probably because Luke was half on top of me, so I kept having to get up and walk them off. As a result, I didn’t get much sleep.

So, that’s the big news for the week. In other matters, we returned for our hike to the Kiwa Trail of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. We have been there twice before but not got to hike the trail. The first time, it wasn’t open, because it is closed during bird migration season. The second time was when there was a notice that the trail was closed because of a cougar being spotted near it.

If you look very closely down the trail, you can see a heron. I also tried to take a picture of the deer, which came very close to us, but by the time I got my phone out, put in the code, and took it, it was too far away to even see in the picture.

This time it was open, and it was very nice. We saw lots of wildlife on the drive in to the trailhead and more wildlife on the trail, which is through a woods and then a meadow. On the way in, we saw a nutria or muskrat crossing the road, and lots of cranes and herons. When we got to the trailhead, a pair of harrier hawks were playing in the field, and several wildlife photographers were taking their pictures. There were ducks in the canals near the entrance to the trailhead, a deer crossed our path, and we saw several herons along the way, not to mention all the meadow birds. On the way out, we spotted an animal that we finally identified as a mink. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool.

We are now in a spate of warmer weather, but for a few days it began to look like true fall, with much colder temperatures and lots of rain. Then we had several days of perfect weather. I hope today will be one, but it may be too hot. I know it is forecast to be warmer than usual for this time of year.

At art class, I heard the teacher telling my sister that we weren’t in a race. She was supposed to be doing an exercise, and she obviously wasn’t into it, because she didn’t take any care with it. It was partly a color-matching exercise, but she didn’t do a good job of matching the colors at all and the brushwork was sloppy. Her rebellious streak seems to come out in art school. I’m not sure why she’s taking it if she doesn’t want to listen to the teacher enough to learn, so I expect to soon start hearing how expensive it is (it is not expensive for a two-hour class once a week) and how she thinks she’ll stop going. It may take her a few months, but I think she will probably quit again. At least she went out and bought the colors that she didn’t have for the class, but of course, she bought some cheap ones, even though the teacher said that the quality of paint will make a difference. She has some tubes of paint that don’t even have the color name printed on the tube, so no one knows exactly which red or blue they are.

I went back to working on my greenery this week. I was painting just the general shapes of the leaves at first, but by the end of the class I started putting in the frills and veins.

This weekend, I attended my niece’s Mabon Festival. She likes to research and celebrate the old festivals that existed before Christianity. Almost all of them were timed at roughly the same time as the ones we celebrate now. Mabon is a fall harvest festival, which she said is better timed, at the fall equinox, than Thanksgiving, because everyone has tons of ripe fruit and veggies in their gardens and orchards. It was a potluck for which I made a beet and apple salad and a peach crisp with some blackberries thrown in. The peaches were some that were trucked down from Yakima that we froze, and the blackberries were of course from my property. There was lots of delicious food. I am not a very social person at these events because I don’t know very many of the people and they are all twenty years younger than me (and their kids), and of course, Wayne didn’t want to go. Usually, Shawn and Randy, my niece’s husband’s parents, would have been there, but because Shawn is out of town, Randy didn’t come. However, several groups of people did talk to me, so I wasn’t as bored as I usually am and stayed later.

Berries!

Last night, my husband and I decided to go down and sit on our bench beside the pond. I was almost down there when I realized that a doe was right on the other side of the pond from us. I crept back to Wayne to warn him, and we tried to get to our bench without scaring her away, but she slowly left the area as we approached. It was clear to me from the way she was eating that she was munching on blackberries.

And berries were a motif for our week. Earlier in the week, my neighbor, Maja, asked me if I would like to pick some of her blueberries. She has about 20 or 30 bushes. She said that she had a good crop for the first time in several years, that she didn’t have the energy to pick them, and she would hate to have them go to waste. Since my friend Deb was coming up from Portland that weekend to pick blackberries around our property, I asked if we could both pick blueberries. She said yes. So, on Saturday, Deb arrived and we spent a couple hours picking blueberries at Maja’s.

Berries and honey were our haul on Saturday.

It was our one cool, rainy day, so we broke off when it really started pouring, came home and went to lunch with Wayne. On the way out, delight! Yadlovskiys had a table out on 503 selling honey. They make the best honey, and I had been intending to buy a jar for Deb (and one for us), but they are unpredictable in when they will be out. I had seen them one time that week on our way into town, but Wayne hadn’t wanted to stop then, and by the time we went home, they were gone. So, we each bought a big jar of honey, and we saw some ladies just loading their car up with huge jars.

In the afternoon we picked blackberries, but we saw that there were many more green blackberries than black ones, so Deb is coming back this Sunday to pick more.

Can she make a berry pie? Quick as a cat can blink its eye.

Of course, with this many berries, I had to figure out something to do with them. I made a mixed berry pie, and I’m sorry to say, I ate a substantial portion of it. We’ll have to see what Weight Watchers says about that when I weigh in this week.

I have slowly been trying to get back to my normal schedule. I went to Weight Watchers and art class on Thursday night with my sister, Sue. She has just moved into pastels, and I am plugging away on my painting. This week, I started painting the water jug in my picture.

We took our hike on Friday instead of Wednesday because Maja had guests on Wednesday. For this hike, there were seven of us, Shawn plus my niece’s family. We went to Whipple Creek Park in Ridgefield. You can see more about that hike in a few weeks on The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking. (I am already several weeks behind on reporting my hikes.) It was quite a hot day, and even though we started earlier than usual, we were steamy by the time we finished.

I finally got Wayne to arthritis water class, and wouldn’t you know it? Although he liked it and agreed to go again, the Y swimming area is going to be closed the next two weeks. So, I got him there but whether he’ll go back in two weeks is another matter.

 

 

Walks to waterfalls, beaches, and other amusements

I didn’t manage to post last week as I planned to, because I took an unexpected trip with my brother. The day I usually post, I was staying in a motel with a poor internet connection.

My brother John arrived the Wednesday before last. His flight was an hour late, and it was already due in latish, so we didn’t get home from the airport until midnight. Then, of course, the two of us stayed up late talking. That was the first of many nights in a row where I didn’t go to bed at my usual time, which is tough for me these days, but it was fun to stay up and chat. Some of the evenings, we sat out on our deck and listened to frogs, watched bats, and heard a pack of coyotes in the distance.

Most of the time John was here we all sat around talking, one day playing in the kid’s pool. For dinner, I was responsible for portions of two meals. The first was the Indian meal. I underestimated the time it would take to get my Big Green Egg up to temperature, so we ended up eating about an hour later than planned. Still, the tandoori chicken came out great. The naan didn’t seem to have the right texture, but I had trouble with the dough and will continue to experiment.

I also made almost all of a Mexican meal, enchiladas Suisses, topopo salad, black beans, and flan. It had been years since I did the beans, and I misread my cookbook to the result of destroying the crock for my crock pot. I thought it said to cook the beans in a crock on the stove, which I thought odd, but did it anyway. The author had been talking about crocks, and I was the victim of my own skim reading. The crock seemed to be okay, and then it went “Bang!” and it cracked clear around the bottom. All the black bean water went out onto the stove and into the cupboard below and on the floor. I managed to salvage the beans and spent quite some time cleaning up the water. Then I rechecked the recipe, and sure enough it said to cook the beans in a pot on the stove. Yikes! Later, that evening, my great niece remarked that my feet were completely black on the bottom because of wading around in the bean water trying to clean it up.

On the first Saturday John was here, we all decided to go for a hike. We were having a hard time deciding where to go, trying to find a hike that I could do but that would take us near water so that we could cool off, as it was supposed to be a very hot day. We drove way up into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the part that is near the east side of Mt. St. Helens, and we went on a series of short hikes. When it came to going somewhere with water, though, we hadn’t reckoned with the fact that all the trails in the Gorge near last year’s fires are closed, bringing all of the people who would usually go there up here. We went to Lower Falls on the Lewis River, and it was packed with people. The descent to the river was too steep for me, although it looked lovely, with a beautiful blue swimming hole. We couldn’t believe the number of people there, with boom boxes, umbrellas, and rolling coolers. Not our idea of a getaway. There was even a traffic jam.

Here’s a selfie we took while out hiking. That’s my sister, me, my brother, and my niece and her two kids, with her husband taking the picture.

I was able to cool off at Lower Falls and Middle Falls by walking farther down the river. At the one, I found a place where I could put my feet in the river, but it was too rocky and shallow to go swimming. At the other, we found our own private waterfall, just a little one with a hole at the bottom where you could sit and let the water trickle down on you. I will be detailing all four of these hikes this week and the following weeks on my blog The Fat Girl’s Guide to Hiking.

Steve, his son Will, John, Steve’s daughter Nadia, and Sage, the dog. Steve’s wife Mary and his daughter Áine were back at the hotel.

On Monday, John was due to go to Seattle to visit my youngest brother, Steve, and his family. Up until he left, they tried to get him to change his plans, offering a variety of reasons. Finally, they announced that they would actually be in Ocean Shores, and then they would be camping, and he was welcome to join them. John is a big camper, but he came prepared for hot weather here and Seattle, not for cooler coastal weather and camping. He didn’t even bring a long-sleeved shirt or socks. We brought up a load of camping equipment for him to borrow. Then Steve invited us all to come along. At that point, I decided to go as a surprise, although I would not be camping.

So, I unexpectedly went out of town on Monday and spent the next four days with them. We were in Ocean Shores for two days, which we spent at the beach and doing other things to amuse the kids, playing put-put golf, playing games at an arcade, and bowling. Then we started out on a tour of the Olympic Peninsula. We saw some beautiful beaches and did a couple more hikes, which I will also detail on Fat Girls. John was happy that I had gotten a room in a motel in Forks, because when he saw Steve’s camp site outside of Forks, he realized another tent wouldn’t fit, so he stayed with me. We spent a late night around the campfire with them and then went back to our motel. It rained all night, though, and so they did not camp the last night in Sequim.

We got back Friday afternoon and went over to Katrina’s for dinner, and then my sister took John to the airport on Saturday morning. I was so tired from all the late nights that I did a lot of sleeping that weekend. And as it has worked out, I have missed most of my usual activities this week. On Monday, I was still too tired to go to tai chi class. Monday night, I was driving my great niece to tae kwan do class and picking up my sister at her mechanic’s when I hit a pothole and got a flat tire. We changed to the spare, and since I already had an appointment for yesterday at the dealership (to replace a piece of our rear-view mirror that went missing on our trip around the Peninsula), I just thought I’d take my tire in for them to repair.

However, on Tuesday morning I finally talked my husband into going with me to the Y to take the arthritis water class while I did my deep water exercise class. We were on our way to that, after which we were going to the dealership, when practically every warning light on our dashboard lit up. This was so alarming that we pulled over and called up the dealership, who told us to come on in. Of course, we were there for hours, and it turned out I had bent both the front and back rims of the wheels.

Then we had to deal with the insurance person, who wanted us to let the car sit at the dealership for three days until some sort of inspector could get there to look at the damage to our car before the repair. We thought this was ridiculous, because the dealership said they could get the parts the next day or the day after. That would have delayed the repair on our car to the point where we would be without it for at least a week. My husband worked out a deal where we could pay for the repair ourselves, take our rims to the inspector afterwards, and get reimbursed.

Then the insurance person was supposed to send us a rental car. We waited and waited. Finally, I called the only office in Vancouver for that rental car outfit, and they had no order from the insurance people. We didn’t have our claim number because they emailed it to us at my husband’s email address instead of mine, where I could have got it on my phone. So, I went back to the dealership rep and asked him to get us a rental car, as I didn’t want to spend the whole day there. Enterprise was there to pick us up within 10 minutes. When we were at the Enterprise desk filling out the paperwork, the other rental company called me FROM OREGON! That’s right. Our insurance company contacted a rental car company that wasn’t even in the same state as we were. She knew we were in Vancouver, because she gave us the name of an inspector in Vancouver that we had to take our rims to. We don’t know how they’re going to handle the fact that we cancelled the rental car company, but we didn’t care.

On the garden front, while I was gone, my peas finally gave up the ghost because of the heat. I got another cup or so of them, and then I pulled them all up. Now, my onions and my beans will get some more sunlight.

And that’s about it. No art this last two weeks, just lots of sightseeing. However, my sister contacted me while I was away to tell me she had gotten a call from our art school. She is back in my class!

Island and peninsula

Happy 4th of July, everyone! Today I have reports of my vacation to the San Juan Islands, in particular, to San Juan.

Early Monday morning last week, my sister picked me up and we followed Ares, my niece’s nephew, and the kids to Anacortes, which is a bit north of Seattle. We stopped and had lunch at a touristy little chowder house and then we got on the ferry to Friday Harbor.

The ferry trip lasted about an hour. The kids were thrilled by it, which kept them occupied. I enjoyed myself picking out houses on the islands we passed and wondering what it was like to live there. I’ve always thought I would like to live on an island. It was windy and cold on the way over, but that just made the kids like it more.

The marina at Friday Harbor. You can see part of the ferry at the top right.

Friday Harbor is the main town on San Juan Island, which is the largest of the San Juans. The town is quite pretty, with a well-kept downtown and marina that, while a bit touristy, seem like places where real people could live, unlike some American tourist towns. Attention is spent to detail. There are lots of benches right at a scenic place above the marina, and the street lamps have flower baskets hanging from them. It’s a nice town.

Here are the two kids in our first sighting of the doe (next to the tree at the top). She was doing something with her nose in the grass. Later on, after we saw the fawn, we realized that she had been pushing the fawn with her nose to make it go back into the woods.

We hung around town for a little while and then drove to the house that Ares had rented. My sister Sue and I thought it was going to be a beach house, but it turned out that he and my niece purposefully rented a house that was not on the beach, although the ad implied it was nearby a waterway. It was, but it had no access to it. However, the house was very nice. It was large and had a capacious master suite and two other bedrooms. It had several living areas, including a play room with a foosball machine and air hockey. It also had all the implements and dishes you could ever want. Ares was really impressed by how well appointed it was. The house was in the woods, and we got quite a bit of wildlife back there, including a doe and her fawn. When we came home and jumped out of the car on our first evening, the fawn was nestled up against the house and we scared it. Later, it came walking through the back yard. These deer were the first of many we saw as we drove around the island, but they were not the only wildlife we saw. After a trip to the beach the next day, we left a live scallop on the front porch, and the next thing we knew, a raccoon was standing on the front porch holding it in his paws.

One of the lighthouses. That’s probably Canada’s Victoria Island off in the distance.

We spent the next two days driving and hiking around the island, visiting various sites, including lighthouses and the remnants of old forts. We also visited an alpaca farm. The beaches were beautiful, although most of them were stony. Views around the coast were spectacular. At one beach the kids saw a sea otter, but we didn’t spot any whales.

The mausoleum

Some of the things we visited were a mausoleum for one of the island’s founding families that was built with lots of Masonic symbolism. We had to walk through an old graveyard to get there, which thrilled the kids. We also spent time at a sculpture garden that was so large we only saw parts of it.

On Thursday, we boarded the ferry again. After lunch in Anacortes, we separated, Ares going home with the kids and my sister and I continuing on for a tour of the Olympic Peninsula. We had to catch another ferry leaving from Coupland. You are supposed to arrive at the ferry 1/2 hour early, and we were a minute late, so we thought that we were one of the last cars on board. But when the ferry left, we realized that in fact they had put us on the ferry before the one we were supposed to take. This ferry was much smaller, and the trip only took about 20 minutes.

Manresa Castle. From here, you can’t see the peeling walls.

The first thing I discovered when we arrived at Port Townsend was that my sister, who planned this part of the trip and made all the reservations, doesn’t read reviews. I think she picked Manresa Castle because she liked the idea of staying in a castle, but it wasn’t really a castle, just a rich man’s mansion. There was nothing actually that wrong with it, it was just a shame, that’s all. The outside of the place was impressive until you got close, when you could see the paint was peeling. The inside was all dark carved woodwork and antiques, and some of the public rooms were beautiful.

My sister in our suite. This picture makes it look pretty good. The devil is in the details, however. We thought it was a real shame that no one was paying a bit more attention to this place. For example, what you can’t see is that the top of that round table has almost all its finish worn off and there are lots of little strings hanging down from the upholstery of the chairs.

However, it was plain they were running the place on a shoestring. A little money spent to fix it up right would have been worth it. We had a large suite with a bed in one room with a sitting area and another bed in an adjacent room. Everywhere upgrades had been made, however, they were done cheaply. So, all the wood in the room was dark oak, but the doors put in sometime in the 50’s or 70’s to add the attached bathroom were framed in cheap white wood. For some reason, someone felt it necessary to open up the wall (besides the door) between the inner bedroom and the outer suite, so they cut a big hole in the wall and put a white frame around it. Not only did it look ridiculous, but it made it impossible for one person to go to bed in one room earlier than  the person in the other room. Presumably, it was to provide light into the bedroom, but why does a bedroom need any light. The other room with the sitting area had plenty of light. Then there were indications that no thought went into some things. For example, my bed, the outer one, had two nightstands and lights next to it, while Sue’s had none. She lugged the coffee table in from the sitting area to send them a message. Finally, there was a restaurant and parlor on the other side of the hotel that were beautiful and in wonderful shape but closed. Their web site says they’re trying to reopen the dining room and that’s what they told us, but I saw comments about it being closed from a year or more ago. We thought that if someone infused some capital to redo all the updates to look period, refinish and reupholster the furniture, improve the gardens by actually planting some flowers, and put in a good restaurant, they could be a lot more successful. As a final bobble, the next morning I went to make coffee and found that we had only cylinder coffee inserts in our room. The problem was that our coffee pot wasn’t the cylinder type. Just another example of shlockiness. The people working there were very nice, however, and the hotel was clean. It was just shabby.

Port Townsend itself seems to be a vibrant little community. They have a driving tour of old houses, which we took, and we saw some really charming and impressive ones. The downtown seems to be thriving, with lots of antique stores and restaurants and bed and breakfasts. Too bad we weren’t staying in one of them! And what could be bad about a smallish town that has four bookstores in about a two-block area? I would have liked to explore them, but I was physically tired from all the hiking the two days before (and no sleep–my room on San Juan was the kids’ room and it had lousy pillows), and Sue doesn’t like shopping. We had both done too much of it with Ares in Friday Harbor the day before. So, we just had dinner and went back to our room, where we decided that Caddy Shack, despite the cast, was a truly awful movie.

The next day we drove out into the Olympic Peninsula. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t with us on this expedition. First, we explored the eastern half of the peninsula. My sister had planned to drive up onto Hurricane Ridge, which apparently has a wonderful view of the entire area, but the clouds were really low, so we knew there would be no view. In fact, at one point when we were driving along the coast, we just started laughing, because all we could see was fog. We did get to see some beautiful beaches during this drive, even in the rain they were quite spectacular. The peninsula itself reminded me of parts of upper Michigan. Many of the communities were quite poor. A lot of the land that isn’t part of the Olympic National Forest is reservation land, and the Native American populations don’t seem to be doing very well, with an exception of one tribe at the bottom of the peninsula.

My sister’s taste in accommodations was even worse in Forks, because the second motel had no distinction at all. It was advertised as a suites motel, and in that case, you expect a working kitchen. We didn’t need a kitchen, but it was clear that families stayed there for that reason. Yet, the oven had the handle taken off, and there were absolutely no dishes or cooking utensils provided except a coffee pot and four cups. The suite itself was just dismal, all done in brown and burgundy, and pretty spartan, with drab minimal furnishings. Two queen-sized beds were crammed into the bedroom with no room for anything else except a small dresser. It looked to me as if someone back in the 70’s, maybe, had built this place to be one-bedroom apartments or condos hoping to sell them or rent them to tourists. I don’t think it had been updated since then.

I actually could drive down the short main street and pick out the motel I would have stayed in by its outside appearance, and it wasn’t the one we were in. In fact, when I looked up the reviews, the one I would have picked had the highest marks. Yes, we stayed in the Forks of Twilight fame. It seemed a little more prosperous than some of the communities we passed through. No vampires, though.

The next day we went hiking in a rain forest and saw some spectacularly large trees. We also stopped for lunch at the delightful Lake Quinault Lodge on the beautiful Lake Quinault. It was much more my idea of a place to stay on a trip up into the north woods, although probably a lot more expensive than the places we stayed. It rained all that final day of our trip. We started home after lunch at arrived back about 4:30 PM.

Here is Hillary admiring my gardening skills.

Although I had a very good time on the trip, I was happy to see my own bed and also happy to see that my broccoli and a few snap peas were ready to harvest. Unfortunately, a deer had been in my plants. One brussel sprout plant is a goner, and otherwise, the deer ate part of a cabbage leaf and some of the flowers off my eggplant, so that I only have the promise of one eggplant left. My husband and I started work on a fence the next day. I would have tried to put up something sooner, but we disagreed on the type of fence, and I was hoping the deer wouldn’t discover my garden this year. Now we are putting up the type of fence that I thought should go up in the first place. We have the poles in but haven’t started the actual fencing.