Suddenly fall

It’s suddenly very much fall, with cold, rainy days. Just last week, we had one or two summery days, and then it became cooler. Now, I am having to think about putting on my second shirt, which I wear throughout the colder weather. Yesterday, it rained all day long and also on Sunday. As a result, Wayne and I have been binge watching episodes of Longmire and The Fall that we never saw when they originally came out. That’s because we finally joined this century and got a streaming subscription to Netflix. We kept our CD subscription, though, because most of the movies I want to see aren’t available in streaming. We’ve also had our first two fires of the season in our wood-burning stove.

Someone else’s picture of a banded kingfisher

I have seen some unusual birds by the pond lately, perhaps indicating migration. I glimpsed one several times over the course of three days, but I didn’t get a good look at it. I just had the impression of a stocky, large bird with a suggestion of a sea bird, a jay-like head and a harsh, clackety call. I finally got a better look at it, and it has a blue head with a white band around its neck. I think it’s a banded kingfisher, hanging out at our pond.

Someone else’s picture of a bittern

The other bird was swimming on the pond in pairs. I happened to see them when I was out with Luke. I thought they were brown ducks, but when they flew off, I saw they had a heron-like shape. I think they were bitterns.

After an eventful last week, nothing much has happened here this week, except that the dog trainer finally realized that Luke needs an electronic collar. I asked about one several times, but his demeanor in class is so mild that I don’t think they believed me that he gets rough with me. However, after Wayne’s injury last week, the owner approached me about getting one. I think they are going to train Luke with it at Puppy Play and Train instead of over an intensive week, which is what they usually do. That will save us a bunch of money but take longer.

No hike Wednesday because I had no partners, so I got together with Christine and we took Luke for a walk. Her dog, Duchess, has been injured the last few weeks, so we haven’t been able to take Luke over there for fear he would inadvertently hurt her. However, on Wednesday she was at the groomer’s. Christine said that when she got home, she sniffed everything in the house because she could smell Luke.

And that’s about it for this week.


You otter see this!

Twice last week when I was down by the pond, I saw a mammal that was not our beaver. The first time, I saw it swimming in the pond, flipping over, swimming under water, and then flipping again, obviously playing. This is not beaver behavior. The beaver is always beavering away carrying twigs to his dam. I looked up what it could be, and it was too big for a muskrat, which only weigh about four pounds. It didn’t have a rat tail like a nutria. I was hoping it wasn’t either, as they can be destructive to ponds. When I described it to my brother, he asked, was it long and skinny? I said yes, and he said, “You have an otter.” I am so excited.

A few days later, I heard a shrieking sound from the pond that I had heard before. When I heard it before, I thought it was some kind of water bird, as when they show up at the pond, they often make loud noises, but I didn’t see anything. This time, as I walked so that I could see the pond, something fell into it. I could see it was the otter, which swam off, shrieking the whole time. I think someone was having a fight. My sister-in-law says the otter and beaver should cohabit nicely, so maybe there are more otters than just one. I hope the otter wasn’t being attacked by a cat or something.

For our hike we just went to Lewisville Park this week, but we took Luke. At first, as happens sometimes, I had trouble getting him to stay in the way back until the door shut. I finally gave up and left him home. Then I went to get Maja and told him why Luke hadn’t come. We decided that since Luke probably had no idea how recently I left (sometimes he acts like I’ve been gone for hours when it’s been a few minutes), we would pick him back up and if he stayed in the way back, he could come. That’s what happened.

And speaking of animals, I gave the information about the bird we rescued to my niece. I keep forgetting to ask her whether they called to find out what happened to it.

Thursday afternoon, I got a call from Craft Warehouse that my picture was ready to pick up, so my sister and I went early to art class so that we could stop by first and pick it up. She had also been asked to put a picture into the art show, and she picked one she had painted of her granddaughter on a horse. She had actually framed it herself using a staple gun and fabric tape, but she is not a detail person, and the detail she got wrong was which end the staples came out of. She ended up stapling her little finger and had to go to the ER! After all that work and a disabled finger that was making her miss work (although luckily on her left hand), the art teacher didn’t want to submit her painting because it wasn’t painted for the Medallion school but before she started there. So, Sue had to go home and frame her lighthouse painting that she finished a few weeks ago. Luckily, she had already bought a ready-made frame at Craft Warehouse. If you are putting an oil painting into a ready-made frame, which is a fairly easy thing for them to do, Craft Warehouse only charges about $20. (They used to do it for free when it was one of their frames, but no longer.) I think she spent a bit more than that going to the ER.

In any case, both of our paintings have made it into the show along with a drawing by one of our other classmates. I was sorry that our teacher, Sarah, wasn’t submitting anything, because I have seen photos of her paintings, and they are amazing. She said it was because none of her things are framed. I hope if they are going to repeat this show that she will frame something for the next one.

I am supposed to take both our paintings to the library downtown the Thursday before the show. I think Sue has managed to frame her other painting without stapling herself. (I shouldn’t laugh because I’m sure it hurt, although she said it didn’t hurt right away, and she couldn’t figure out why the staple gun didn’t work. Where was the staple? In any case, there is no permanent damage and she has a good story to tell.)

My second haul of blackberries. I think by myself I ended up with more berries than before, although together Deb and I picked more last time. I had eight cups, just exactly the amount needed for one batch of jam.

On Friday, less than a week after our first blackberry-picking expedition, I went back down to the same places and picked a huge basket of berries. There are still more to be had, as many of them were still green. I spent Friday afternoon making freezer jam. I have never made jam before, so this was kind of an adventure. I think it came out right. I took some to Christine, who had talked to me about making it before, and she said it was the right consistency, not quite as thick as cooked jam.

Homemade wild blackberry jam, the first jam I ever made. This picture is from before it had cooled. You have to leave it out an entire day and then you can put it either in the freezer or refrigerator.

We got an invitation to my brother’s house for dinner on Friday night. Shortly after they moved here, my sister-in-law went around to all the neighbors and introduced herself (something that I never even thought of doing when we moved here). Apparently, the people who lived in their house before were not good neighbors, and the neighbors were so relieved that someone nice moved in that they brought my brother a huge salmon fillet, fresh from being caught. He had already had my niece’s family over to dinner the night before to try to eat the fish, and even with Wayne, Sue, and me there, we still didn’t finish off the rest of the salmon. A good time was had by all. I gave everyone some jam.

No dog class this week, but I did take Mischa to taekwondo. She is now a red belt. She has one more belt level to go between red and black, but I think it is much more difficult to progress from here. Lukey also did not have a pack walk this week. Lately, it’s only been Christine and me and our dogs, and now Christine’s dog Duchess is injured. She strained her back somehow, and apparently it will be a long time before she can go for a walk or play with other dogs.

As a result, I’ve been making more of an effort to find something for Luke to do, and so Monday I tried to go on the Enzo’s pack walk, which they usually have every Monday night. During the summer, they have been doing them at locations all over the county and even in Portland. It has been difficult to participate in these, because the owner of Enzo’s never posts the information until just a few hours before. She posts it on Facebook, and sometimes when I look for it, I can’t find it. For example, two weeks ago I probably would have gone on one at Frenchman’s Bar Park, but I didn’t see the announcement until 5 PM and they were meeting at 6:30, more than an hour from my house. Well, what happened is that this week, I found a notice I hadn’t seen before, drove all the way out there, a 50-minute drive, and no one showed up. I looked it up on my phone to be sure I was in the right place, and I was. It wasn’t until I got back home that I saw in very little letters under the video that she posted it last week. If she had done a text post, it would have been easier to ascertain when it was posted. She never ever lists the date, as if she expects that you’ve been keeping track of her posts. It turns out they didn’t do a pack walk this week, and I don’t think there will be a pack walk next Monday, as that is a holiday.

In the meantime, she has passed around a sign-up sheet for a picnic on Saturday but has not announced where or when. This is typical.

Speaking of Luke, those of you who have been following this blog know by now that he’s a very silly dog in many ways. For the longest time, we couldn’t get him to go out by himself. Now, if we leave the door open, he sometimes will not be able to resist all the nice smells.

Ever since he was neutered, I have noticed that sometimes when he is very excited, he will pee a little. He hasn’t done this since he was a very small puppy, so I mean to discuss it with the vet. Wayne says it’s because he’s conserving his pee for marking, but I have never seen him do any marking and being neutered is supposed to lessen it even if he had been doing it.

This morning, I got up about an hour after Wayne and Luke, and he was very excited to see me, jumping up on me in my nightgown, which I hate. Ever since we got him, I’ve had to change into my clothes right away instead of lounging around in my pjs, like I do sometimes. This time, though, he was making a little whimpering noise, and it occurred to me that maybe he hadn’t peed yet, although he wasn’t making any little puddles. Well, I found out I know my dog.

He has had a bad tummy rash all summer from running around in the underbrush, probably from nettles. So, we have been trying to spray this stuff on his belly every day that makes him itch less. When we are good about doing this every day, his belly stays clear, but we haven’t been so good about it lately, so the poor dog itches all the time. (Wayne doesn’t want him to take the steroids the vet gave us.) He was scratching himself, so I almost immediately decided to spray him, which entails Wayne catching him and holding him up, while I wash his tummy off with a washcloth and then spray his belly. He likes the washing but not the spraying.

Wayne picked him up, and he began copiously peeing. It was plainly his whole night’s worth of pee when he’d been up already more than an hour. Wayne took him outside and stood by the door, and I spent the next 15 minutes mopping up the floor (still in my nightgown). When they came in, I asked him if he had gone out with Luke this morning. He had not, just opened the door. I told him Luke wouldn’t go unless he was taken out to his usual places. As usual when I imply that Wayne’s been lazy, he got angry and started yelling about how stupid that was. I said I knew it was stupid, but that was Luke. I got dressed and took him out, and sure enough he also pooped, which he should have already done.

Well, that’s about all of interest that has happened this week except we have had several deer sightings. Last Saturday on the way to taekwondo, Mischa and I saw a deer by the road and then just a bit farther down another deer and a fawn. Then last night Wayne and I went out to dinner at Fargher Lakehouse and a black-tailed deer was standing behind the parking lot. I always love to see the deer.

Bye bye birdie

On Wednesday night last week we took my sister out to dinner for her birthday, meeting my brother Mark at the restaurant. We had a good time, but as we were driving out of her driveway after dropping her off, Wayne stopped the car. It turns out he had noticed a bird on the driveway when we picked my sister up but thought it was dead. On the way back in, he saw it move.

The little birdie in the box. He was quite scared at first, but after we gave him a blueberry to eat, he calmed right down and just sat there.

We fetched my niece Katrina, thinking we just needed to turn it over, as it was on its back. However, when we flipped it over, it fluttered helplessly and flipped back over again. Its wing was obviously hurt. Wayne thought he may have hit it on the way in to pick Sue up, but Sue later said she thought the cat that hangs around their house got it.

We picked it up and put it in a shoe box then tried to find someplace to take it while Katrina attempted to identify it. It has a fairly common coloring on top but a beautiful greenish yellow or yellowish green belly, so we thought it was a juvenile western tanager.

It seems that there is nowhere to take an injured bird in Southwest Washington. I started out with an organization with a local phone number that seemed promising, but they said they only took parrots. I found an emergency number in Portland, but when I called them, they said they were remodeling and the fumes from the new carpets would be harmful to birds. So, they advised us to keep the bird hydrated and warm and take it to the Audubon Society in Portland in the morning.

So, that’s how we spent Thursday morning. We left him at Katrina’s overnight and then picked him up at 7:30 AM. (Rush hour! What a good time to drive to Portland!) She reported that he had eaten three blueberries and four crickets and had drunk some water out of an eyedropper. The Audubon Society opened at 9:00, so we took Luke in the hopes of making his Play and Train at 10. We arrived there about 8:50, during which time Luke was making a fuss but we were unable to pull over. The poor puppy had diarrhea in the wayback of the car. We took him out and cleaned it up as good as we could and then turned the bird over at 9. They gave us contact information for inquiring about the bird’s progress, which we gave to Katrina, because they said that if he recovered, they would release him at her house, and we thought they might want to arrange things so that the kids could watch.

We got back to Battle Ground in time for Luke’s Puppy Play, but Wayne said he was covered in poop, so we went home. When I took Luke out of the car, though, he was fine. We could have taken him to Puppy Play after all. The back end of the car was another matter.

Much of my week was taken up with cleaning the house for the advent of the Cirque du Schimmelman, which is what we call my youngest brother’s family. They are making a family trip to California, where they are dropping off their oldest daughter, Áine, at design school in L. A. Aside from cleaning and cooking, the only other things I did were go to art class (where I have finished painting all the spots on the starfish and now have to go back and do some second coats) and walk in the park with my friend Christine and her dog Duchess on Friday morning. Friday afternoon I spent making potato salad. Since I was going to have 14 people for dinner, I figured to keep it easy by grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and serving potato salad and other salads. My sister-in-law Nancy said she would have everyone over for dessert. Of course, they wanted to show my brother Steve’s family their beautiful new house.

Part of my dinner guests at my dining table. From left, my sister-in-law Nancy, my sister-in-law Mary, my niece Nadia, my sister Sue, my great-niece Mischa, my nephew Will, my brother Steve, and my brother Mark. Missing are my niece Áine, my niece Katrina, Katrina’s husband Ares, my great-nephew Søren, and my husband Wayne.

As usual with the Cirque, they gave us an original ETA of 3:30, revised it to 5:30, but didn’t actually show up until close to 6:30. By then we had the grill going and we all dove into eating. Sue had brought corn on the cob and salad. By the end of the evening, everyone had gone through 16 hamburgers and about 8 hot dogs. Unfortunately, they only ate half the potato salad (we’re a little sick of it now). We all had a nice time.

The dessert trip to Mark and Nancy’s turned into a little more of an adventure than expected. We took three cars over from our house. Nancy and Mark left first, about a half hour before anyone else. Then Katrina and her family with Áine as an extra went in their car. We took all the rest, which meant cramming five people into our car.

Nancy had about eight desserts there (oh my god, Weight Watcher unfriendly!), and we all had more than one kind, even me. We had been there for about an hour, and people were being toured around the outbuildings by my brother when Wayne started fretting about Luke being locked up for too long. He decided to pop home and take Luke out. We only live a few minutes’ drive away.

Well, everyone came in and Katrina and company went home, taking all the kids except Will so that they left exactly the same number to go home in our car. I could tell that Nancy was getting a little antsy. She started saying maybe Wayne didn’t realize he was supposed to return and get us (of course he did). She suggested taking us home herself, but I was worried we would miss Wayne on the way, so I tried calling him. No answer at home, and he doesn’t have a cell phone. I called three times telling him he didn’t have to return to get us but to please call to let us know he got the call. We waited a while longer, but Nancy decided he hadn’t listened to all of the message and had gone to bed. I was sure that wasn’t something that Wayne would do and that returning home would not work out right, but Nancy is a very forceful person. She finally ending up getting us all into her car.

As we pulled out of the driveway in the dark, a car was right there, and I said, “That looks like our car,” but it went on and Nancy said, “There are lots of blue Subarus in the area.” Of course, it was our car. We got home to find no Wayne and no Luke, and we found out later that Wayne had come up to turn into the driveway but hadn’t been able to because of our car, so had continued on instead of stopping because a car was right behind him. He turned around and came back but missed the driveway and had to turn around again. Then, of course, he arrived at their house to find we were gone. He got home about 10 minutes after we did. If Nancy could have waited exactly one minute more, he would have driven into the driveway before we could drive out, and he wouldn’t have had to make a useless trip.

Steve and company continued on their merry way about 11 AM the next morning, and we received pictures from them on the beach later that day.

That’s about all of note that happened this week.


Happy families

Four British Library Crime Classics to read over the next few weeks!

I reported last week that I had requested review copies from several publishers. Well, I already received my first shipment! I requested two books in the British Library Crime Classics line from Poisoned Pen Press, and they sent me four! I have already read one of them, and the review for that one, Murder in the Mill-Race, will appear on What? Me Read? on August 29.

This week has all been about families. My niece’s husband’s (Ares’s) family was here over the weekend for a family reunion, for which my niece was preparing all week. Last year, they did a similar ramp-up for Thanksgiving, during which my niece was cooking for days and picking out silver (she is very organized), and then she and her husband and the kids got sick and missed it. They had to send all the food she had cooked over to her mother-in-law Shawn’s house. So, this time she was determined to entertain properly.

I didn’t even realize that our attendance was going to be requested until Thursday, when first I met Shawn on our road and she urged me to come and then, when I said I would come and asked what I could bring, Katrina asked me to bring dessert. So, I spent all of Friday afternoon and part of Saturday morning (after dog class) baking cookies. I also brought two watermelons.

My brother Mark and his wife Nancy are in front. My husband Wayne is on the right. Shawn, my niece’s mother-in-law is the white-haired lady in the background left, and I think that’s her husband next to my brother (although it may be one of Ares’s uncles). My great-niece Mischa (with the red hair), niece Katrina and her husband Ares, and my sister Sue are all sitting on the couch with their backs to the picture. I’m not sure who the guy is who is playing the guitar, but I think it’s Ares’s brother-in-law. Somehow without even trying, I managed to get my entire family into this picture of Ares’s family. Believe me, there were lots more of them.

We went over Saturday afternoon, and I met lots of people whose names I don’t remember and whose relationship to Shawn and Ares I didn’t get. But it looked like there were Ares’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and the cousin’s children. Quite a group. The cookies went over very well. In fact, I think if they remember me at all, it will be as the woman who brought the cookies. We never even cut open the watermelon, but I assume they all ate it after we left. My oldest brother and his wife, Mark and Nancy, the ones who just moved to the area, were there, as well as my sister, of course. And Wayne surprised me by coming. He has not come to most of the more recent family events.

But that’s not all, folks, for I am unexpectedly preparing for another family visit. On Tuesday I heard from Katrina, who mentioned that my youngest brother, Steve, had announced they were on the way down here this week. She said that she was too tired to entertain so she had told her mother she could do it. I was surprised I hadn’t heard anything, because they almost always stay with me, since we have room for all of them (although sometimes Nadia, the youngest girl, goes over to stay with Mischa, if Mischa doesn’t stay here with her) albeit with a couple of them camping out on the floor or the couch. It turned out that he sent me an email to the address I hardly ever use, the one I give to marketeers and businesses but not to family and friends. (I’m going to have to do something about that.)

It turns out that my brother’s family is making a leisurely trip down to California to drop my niece, Áine, off at design school in Los Angeles for her first year of school. I think they are only planning on staying one night. They are taking the beach highway (101) and will be stopping along the way to camp and visit friends.

Well, of course, now they are planning to stay with me, so yesterday I changed the guest beds and mopped the marmoleum floors. Today I’ll be cleaning bathrooms and mopping the wood floors. Between me and Nancy, we’ve figured out that logistics of dinner, and Katrina gets a night off unless she wants to bring a salad.

As to our regular events, last week there were no hiking takers, nor are there this week, but this week I will be cleaning anyway. Luke is back on his regular Puppy Play schedule. I thought I had skipped his class the week before last, but I forgot that over the summer, he was only having class every other week, so it’s a good thing I didn’t try to take him. He had class this last Saturday and did better than I expected, considering he hasn’t had class for more than a month now. They took a break and then he had to miss class after his procedure.

We didn’t have a pack walk this week either because it was too hot for some and others were busy. Nancy and I have discussed taking a walk on Friday morning to make up for not doing the hike. That would include dogs, so would be good for Luke.

We’ve had one more deer sighting. One evening when we were watching TV, Wayne had me move over to look, because a deer was grazing in our side yard, just next to the woods. She stayed there for about ten minutes. So, I guess the deer are still around, just not very visible most of the time.

In art class, I have finished my yellow spots and am now working on the ones at the bottoms of the starfish’s arms, which are sort of a gray white. Then I will go back and repaint some of the areas in the background that didn’t get enough coverage the first time.

I’m sure I will have family news to report next week.

Close encounters of the herd kind

I have lamented a few times lately that we hardly ever see deer around our place anymore. However, last week we were sitting in our living room when a doe strolled up our driveway. When she got directly across from us, she cut up the slope and hopped the fence into our neighbors’ woods. Then, yesterday morning I took Luke down to the orchard. He was chewing his stick (branch, actually—he hauled a branch down from the lower drive to the middle of the orchard and has to chew it every time we go to the orchard) and I walked over toward the wolf pen to sit in the chair we have there. But when I got to the doorway of the pen, I realized a doe was trapped in the pen by my presence in the doorway. The fencing there is about six feet high, so she couldn’t jump it.

I looked back to see what Luke was doing, and he was oblivious. He barks at every movement of every tree when he is inside, but when he is outside, he doesn’t seem to notice bunnies running away and now deer. I moved away from the doorway and tried to get her to walk out of the pen, but when I looked back, I couldn’t see her. Now, I didn’t think even the most agile deer could jump the fence, so I walked back and saw she had hidden in the shelter there where the goats used to stay and before that, the wolves.

So, I decided she wasn’t going to be able to come out unless we left. I lured Luke back up to the house with the promise of cheese, and when we got inside, I went to the back of the house to see if she was still there. She was standing in the wolf pen munching grass, but she left shortly thereafter.

It’s unusual to see a single deer. Until recently, we had always seen them in pairs, since we have a local doe who has a pair of fawns each year, and the last time we sighted deer often, we saw four together each time, a pair from two successive years. I am afraid that perhaps this doe’s sibling was killed. It’s nice that the deer are showing up, anyway. Perhaps they come through all the time and we just don’t see them.

My husband seems to be back to normal, but we had one more poisoned berry episode before he did. This time, when I repeated that he had read it took 10 to 15 berries to poison yourself and he only ate one, he said it depended on how you counted the berries. He said there were a whole bunch of little berries on one stem. In other words, he ate an unripe blackberry! This time, instead of patiently explaining away his concerns (after all, the berry he described looked nothing like a nightshade berry—that’s the thing I just can’t get past on the sheer lack of logic of this whole obsession), I just started yelling at him, “You have not poisoned yourself! You are not going to die!” Patience is not one of my virtues, and I’m afraid mine wore out. After all, we had the same discussion on three different days since that Sunday, which was a full week after he ate the berry, and if he had actually eaten a poisoned berry, he would have been long dead. The subject hasn’t come up since then.

There is obviously something seriously wrong with my husband, and it doesn’t have to do with poisoned berries. I was hoping to get a chance to talk to his doctor by myself and ask him to do an evaluation for dementia, but I didn’t get to talk to him. Perhaps I can bring it up at my next check-up, and he can leave himself a note about it.

Along the driveway near the road, I have three hydrangea bushes. One has the blue showy blooms that we usually think of. Another has purple blooms, and the third has blue, flatter blooms, as if they are growing in a plane. The blue, showy plant looked beautiful when we first saw the house, but it is half dead now, because it is being overshadowed by a walnut tree, which is growing out to the side because of the large fir that is overshadowing it.  However, lately I have noticed two blooms of hydrangea growing on the slope in front of the house, the blue ones. They must have planted themselves there. I’m not sure whether they are the poofy blooms or the flatter ones. I hope the plants will have enough sunlight, but I think there is likely to be even less sun there.

I got jealous of one my fellow book bloggers this week, who wrote a post about review copies he had received from Furrowed Middlebrow. I had a few contacts with publishers before I retired, but I lost those contacts when I moved. So, I got up the courage to send emails to three British publishers of reprints whose books I like, Furrowed Middlebrow, Poisoned Pen Press, and Persephone Press, and all of them have promised me review copies. Of course, I have always been able to get the Poisoned Pen books from Netgalley, but I really don’t like reading books online. Reviews will be coming up on whatmeread!

We didn’t do anything special for our Wednesday hike this week, just went to Lewisville Park. It was just me and a woman from art class, Jane, and I wasn’t sure how fit she would be, so we picked something easy. Later on, she told me that she didn’t think she’d be hiking with us if we went north, which is what we usually do.

In art class, I moved on from aqua spots to yellow ones. These are larger and more nuanced. Some of them have large dark areas. They’re going relatively quickly, however.

I skipped doggie class this week because it was the end of the month. On the last class of the month, they always do something called “organized chaos,” where they have different things you can get your dog to do, like going through tunnels, balancing on things, weaving through cones. I really hate this class, because neither I nor Luke like to do some of the activities, and the class always seems like it lasts twice as long as usual. So, this time, I decided not to go. As a result, Luke was overly energized all weekend. In other words, he was a pain in the butt.

I also inadvertently skipped Weight Watchers. Luke’s Puppy Play class is on different days this week, so I meant to have Wayne drop me off on the way to taking him, but I completely forgot. We just took him to Puppy Play and then went to Costco.

A handsome dog modeling before lots o firewood

The only thing out of the ordinary that happened this week was that we finally got firewood delivered for the winter. Wayne has started stacking it in the garage, but he hasn’t brought out our racks yet. Usually, I help him stack it and it takes us both several days.

It has been a cool summer so far. Just this week, we are finally getting into a string of days with higher temperatures. It will be close to 100 down in Portland next week. However, up here it isn’t supposed to get out of the high 80’s. It’s nice living just a little bit higher up.


A slow week

Last week was a little slow, as many of my usual activities were cancelled because of the holiday. The dog training classes were off the last two weeks, Mischa was sick so could not go to taekwondo, art class was cancelled, and even Luke’s Puppy Play took place only on this Tuesday during the last three weeks. So, about the only regular thing I did this last week was our Wednesday hike.

Here’s a picture of Autumn and Luke on the trail.

That was an interesting one, because my sister-in-law, Nancy, found us a new hike. It was an easy one because it was along an old logging road up by Yale Lake, but it was a hard one because it was seven miles long, 3 1/2 miles in, and then of course back out. Since it was a flat hike, two of us took our dogs. Nancy brought Freckles, and I brought Luke.

It was a cool, cloudy day, but the hike was beautiful, high above the lake with some towering cliffs above us and a few cascades coming down. At one point, a bald eagle flew off from a tree nearby us and then, after flying away down the lake, came back toward us along the road. We had a great time but were very tired by the time we got out. Luke didn’t make a peep the rest of the day.

On Friday, because there was no Puppy Play on Thursday, Christine and I scheduled an additional pack walk just for us. We just walked around her neighborhood, but it was fun because we had coffee at her house and visited for a while afterwards, and the dogs ran around in her back yard.

The dog trainer was supposedly still doing pack walks in the evenings, which were supposed to be posted on Facebook, but even though I look at Facebook daily, I have yet to see one of her posts, except one saying there would be no pack walk.

Our weather has continued to be about 10 degrees cooler than normal for this time, making a nice, slow-starting summer. It was supposed to get hot last week after the 4th, but although it was sunny most days, it didn’t seem to be that hot. It has been muggy enough, though, for us to get very warm when hiking or pack walking. Today it is raining, which figures, because yesterday I watered our small trees.

Hillary ate a bunch of lunch meat for about a week, and now, suddenly, she has moved back to baby food. She still wants some lunch meat at times, but she sometimes is unable to eat it without most of it falling back out of her mouth. I don’t understand this, because at other times, she is able to eat it without too much difficulty. We know her teeth aren’t in great shape, but there are times when she inhales the lunch meat. Yesterday, after eating a lot of lunch meat in the morning, she suddenly would only eat tuna fish.

She also occasionally hides. That is a bad sign, because cats usually do that when they’re feeling really bad, also because of the place she hides—up inside the box spring of our bed, which has one end of the bottom covering ripped free, probably from the move. The first time she did it, she was missing all day, and she was so weak at that time that I thought it was the end and she might die up there. However, she came out in the middle of the night, climbed up onto the bed, and slept with me. That was last Friday night, and I thought it was nice until she got up in the  middle of the night and sat on my back. I thought she was trying to get warm, but she jumped off the bed (loudly and with poor coordination) right afterwards and then I smelled a really bad smell. I was turning around trying to find out what it was when I realized that I had poop on my arm. She had shat on the bedspread when she was sitting on my back. I had to get up in the middle of the night and remove the bedspread and put it in the washer, and I was fairly cold the rest of the night. To make things worse, I got up to go to the bathroom later that night and stepped in more poop that I had either inadvertently dropped off the bedspread or she had left after she got off the bed. And that was not all, because even later I got up again and stepped in a pool of pee. She has been using her cat box at times, just enough that we have to clean it out, but she has also been using the hallway, mostly for peeing. End of life with a cat is not a fun experience. She is fighting it all the way, though, and more power to her.

I hope she is able to eat enough to get her strength back and maybe make a recovery. So far, she seems to be a little better but she is still very thin from the period where she would eat very little of what we offered her. My friend Deb’s cat died last year, and she said she behaved much the same way.

We are upset because DirecTV and our local CBS station have parted ways. We are just finding out how many programs we watched on CBS, particularly, 60 Minutes, The Good Fight, Elementary, and CBS Sunday Morning, which was our Sunday morning routine. In Austin there was also a threat of this happening with one station, but it was resolved before it happened and they notified us of it ahead of time. In this case, we knew nothing about it until we found that some of our recorded programs weren’t actually there. So far, the problem has not been resolved, and I have posted a complaint on DirecTV’s Facebook page telling them if they can’t take care of this, we’ll have to find another provider. Even if they can’t sign up our local station because it’s owned by NexStar, they ought to be able to find a CBS station that isn’t that they can provide us. The other networks mentioned in the article I read about it have not been cut off here, so they must not be owned by NexStar.

In Austin, we were able to hang a wire out the window and pick up the local stations over the air the old-fashioned way, but our house was right across the river from most of the radio stations. Here, that has not worked, so yesterday while we were running our errands (always finishing off with a visit to the library), we ran to Home Depot and picked up an HDTV antenna. I hope we have it up before we miss too many more programs, but you never know with Wayne’s projects whether they will be done in a few days or a few years or never.

That’s about it for this week.

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.