Just 6 more months until Christmas

The work crew did some painting on the house this week. Also built the landings (forms) at the doors that were added last year.
Large screws were added inside the shed, going up into the trusses. Netting was delivered – to keep birds out of the space. There won’t be a “ceiling” – the net will handle that function.
The landings at the two doors need covered and the net needs to go up.
None of this is exciting or picturesque.

Ill-cared-for domestic Iris bloomed this week. The onions want to bolt. It has been too cool for them. Those that bolt won’t store well. It is a good thing I didn’t plant tomatoes. Night-time temperature hasn’t stayed above 55° – but will next week. Those that planted tomatoes will be way behind.

There is always something:
Four years ago we had the riding lawn more reconditioned. I used it a couple of times and then a rear tire went flat. So it sat until this week. I’ve got grass so high a couple of fawns wandered through and only their heads stuck above the mess of weeds and pasture grass.
I had trouble getting the tire off, but did. A tube was needed – $35.00; and a new battery – $77.00.
It took me a day to find the key – ’cause just about everything in the house has been moved several times. It started right up – after I added gas. The gas that was there evaporated and apparently nearly killed the carburetor. Thus, while the engine started it stalled with asking it to do anything – like move.
I’ve ordered a new carburetor: $109.52 + tax of $8.87. It is to arrive Monday late afternoon. I’m busy Tuesday, so – if the machine then works – I won’t get started cutting grass until next Wednesday.
A recent, partially completed, project is a sundial in the native flowers. It is called an analemmatic dial and is a favorite of young folks because the person needs to cast the shadow that points to the approximate time. In the drawing the shadow points to 2 pm. This is not meant to tell actual clock time. Rather, it should make a person think of the height of the sun. The girl is standing on April and her shadow reaches the hour point.
She would move forward in June and her shadow will get shorter. For January she would have to back up, but her shadow would get longer. As the sun’s declination changes the shadow maker has to move to compensate.
Often the signs of the Zodiac are near the center line and it is called the Zodiac. They would be positioned near the dates under the drawings that could be simply symbols. The designer may skip the historic aspect and use whatever one wants. I’m likely to go with simple.

Keeping track from the Naneum Fan
John

It is almost summer

The June solstice is the moment the Sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. That is about 25 miles north of Havana, Cuba. For the Naneum Fan this will happen on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 2:13 o’clock – in the middle of the night. I’ll miss it. But the Weather Service thinks my temperature will get to 76°F, almost a real summer-like day.

Onions

After a difficult start, the onion sets from Texas are growing, although wind damage is evident. The native onions didn’t emerge until recently and are now blooming. As the ones from TX tried to bloom I’ve clipped them. I hope that stops the process because the bulbs of those will not store well. I can eat them now as “green onions” – and that might be the better solution.
I took photos Friday – – Onion, left / Phacelia, right
The cool and wet weather is great for the native shrub-steppe plants. Crowding encourages them to grow taller to get better exposure to the elusive sun. I’ve mowed and sprayed near the buildings in anticipation of a dry and hot “fire season.” There will be lots of fuel in Kittitas County.
“Haying” has started. I noticed one field that had been cut. Rain seems unlikely during the next week and strong winds will be good. Temperatures will remain below average for late June.

I put signs, using “duck” as a verb, on the gate with the low clearance. I put red paint on the top crossbar; not shown. I don’t know if there are standards for such things but even I (now reduced to 5 ft. 10 in.) can bang my head when not being careful. Entry ways (doors) built to modern codes will be no less than 6 ½ feet, while head clearance on stairs is set at 80 inches (6.67 feet; some say 6′ 8”) – Walter (contractor) says 7 feet for my entrance ramp.
Warmth: If the night time temperature is above 55° and the wind is negligible the house will keep above a decent temperature – 68 to 70.
Mostly, so far, one or the other of those things, or both, fail to happen. This is mostly the cool wind, often in the mid-20s mph or into the 30s. With lots of wood of not good quality, I light a fire in the wood stove almost every night. Mostly I have been burning old tree limbs I cut 15 years ago. Better stuff I am stacking for next season.

I am late to battery powered tools. A local store hypes Milwaukee Tools just before Father’s Day; Wednesday of this week. A company agent is there to answer questions and there is a hot-dog-wagon. Buy something and get lunch for free. Last year I got the drill and impact driver (lower image) and this year I got the saw. The batteries I bought last year will power the saw, but I did have to buy blades.
I used the drill in reverse mode to remove hundreds of screws from the old camper I demolished last year. I started with one the contractor (Walter) loaned to me. That convinced me to buy one. I also had him cut an old pipe from the well with a saw. I didn’t buy one then, but I have now. I figure I will use it when I demolish the Pace Arrow motor home. There is also a blade for pruning trees. I tested my purchase with that.

The workers came (Monday & Tuesday) and placed concrete (4” wide x 6” deep) around the pole-shed where it meets the ground. I’ve had dogs, skunks, mice, and maybe a few other things dig under the slab. I suggest this ought to be done when the floor is being placed.
I took the forms off so the guys did not have to come back.

Keeping Track
from the Naneum Fan

John

Mid-June

. . . we remain cool and wet

No post last week.

Phyllis came over this week and we worked on the Will and other aspects.
One of the topics is disposal of the house upon my death. I’ve contacted CWU Foundation gurus, and we’ll meet his coming Tuesday to discuss the possibility. If this can be done one of the biggest burdens will be removed from the post-death actions. My plan is to remove as much of the burden of finishing my affairs as I can reasonably do.

I visited the Sheriff’s Office and got the scoop on the group that swoops into a community and takes care of the family and funeral when a police officer is killed. A local officer was killed a few years ago. His wife and three children (and his colleagues) were relieved of the burden of planning the funeral. The family’s financial future is also assured.
That group is The Behind the Badge Foundation.
I assume all States have such an organization. Washington’s is found on the web here: https://behindthebadgefoundation.org/

Outside, I mow about an hour a day – if it is dry. It rarely is so the acres that the horses kept short are now a tangle of weeds and grass. I have mowed strips about 12 feet wide in 3 places – to drive or walk and also as fire breaks. I may have to hire a big rotary mower. There is always something.

The wildflower of the week is the Thread-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia linearis), description and photos here:
https://www.pnwflowers.com/flower/phacelia-linearis/gallery/0304122

On the page, top right, there are little arrows to get to other images. #4 is best for showing the dry location and the size. Dry this year we are not, so the plants are in a blanket of other green things. On the web, many photos are bluer than here – mine are more pinkish.

Keeping track
on the Naneum Fan
John

a busy week

Keeping Track May 29 2022

Computer issue: The DELL tower wanted to download and install updates.
I started that and went to do other things. It would not restart. It seems funny to me but the diagnosis is that the power supply failed. Coincidence or not – it is what it is. Because it is under warranty the entire tower has to be shipped off to DELL. Travel and fix time is estimated at 2+ weeks.
Thus, I am using a 6 year old DELL laptop with features I dislike – mostly the single screen of 13.3 inch diagonal and a keyboard that I find difficult use, as in touch typing. With the tower I use two screens of 17 inch diagonal, total about 320 sq. inches of view. The laptop gives me 74 sq. in., less than ¼ of what I am used to. The bottom line is that everything takes more time and is more difficult. Bummer.

Tuesday the CWU Retired folks had a dinner followed by a presentation regarding the continuing rebuilding of I-90 east of the Cascade Crest.
Here is the latest video (20 min.) of the just completed section. This focuses on the critter crossing aspects rather than the engineering and construction. This was done in 2021.

The next phase west of Easton is under way and next year the Vantage Bridge over the Columbia River will have a complete re-do of the deck. That is expected to be a 3 year project. More work will be done on I-90 in Kittitas County through 2029.

The Easton Grade is being realigned. The small town of Easton is just off the lower right corner in this image.
First, all traffic will be on the north side of the current island. That’s the space between the east-bound (near) and the west-bound lanes – between the town of Easton and the “CC- pin”. CC is short for Critter Crossing. The long axis of the pink oval is 2 miles, and the elevation change is 500 feet. Kachess Lake is north of the site.

The south side will be rebuilt as 3 lanes each way – without having to deal with traffic.
An over-the-road critter bridge will be near the top of the grade and several under the road passages will be constructed. The video (link above) shows these things, now part of the corridor just to the west. The under-the-road passages cannot be seen from the roadway although the critter-directing fences can.

Wednesday there was an awards/graduation event at the Geography Department. There was food for all, various certificates for many students, and announcements of financial support for selected individuals. There are five sources for the money ($30,000 this year) restricted to departmental students. See here: https://www.cwu.edu/geography/scholarships
Nancy began providing “current use” gifts in 2010. Since then, including this year, awards have been given to 23 students. In contrast to an endowment, current use funds are given out in the year they are taken in by the University. Endowment money is invested by the University Foundation and only returns are available for awards. It will take several years for that to happen for the Hultquist Endowment started this past January. [The recent plummet of markets is painful in this regard.]

During La Nina years, sea surface temperatures off the West coast are usually cooler than normal, and those cooling effects spread inland. This pattern is continuing. Going into June, our weather remains relatively cooler than average, windy, and damp. The Snow Peas and especially the yellow beans are very unhappy. I should have planted spinach.

Oh, Annie the last Brittany was born in March 16 years ago.

From the Naneum Fan
John

Mid-May & spring is here

Nothing much happened last week and while I meant to write something I never got around to doing so. I gathered and cut firewood and I mowed some of the lawn. Wow-ee!

This week was more exciting.
Early Monday morning I went to a foot doctor that we’ve known for about 10 years. A piece of in-growing toe nail got cut and removed. I’ve been soaking using Epsom Salt –seems to be named after a town 15 miles SW of the Greenwich Observatory near London. The Cleveland Clinic explains the use but is not supportive of the use. The cleansing is good, then some ointment, and a wrap. If nothing else you monitor the wound and hope it heals.

On Thursday the pruners & friends “raclette” was held. The event is a celebrator rendition of the pruner’s lunch – using freshly cut vine wood for fire to heat sausage, potatoes, and cheese (scraping thereof gives the name).
https://raclettecorner.com/pages/history

If one searches for “raclette”, the images are of a meal with melted cheese served at a table. A few photos will show a chunk of cheese. Below is a photo of the real deal:

The fire-pit is to the left and has burned for a couple of hours producing lots of hot coals. We put some of those between freshly cut tree trunks (green, about 45% water). The cheese melts over the coals and then is pulled to the side where the plate awaits.

Last summer when my Damson Plums were ripe I gave them to Audrey. She put them in glass jars with a little sugar and (she claims) cheap vodka. Many recipes call for gin. This is an easy way to produce something that resembles Slivovitz.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slivovitz#Regional_names

The next photo shows me with a glass and her pouring for herself. Every one gets 2 or three plums (with pits) that maintain the distinctive, somewhat astringent taste.
This year the flowering and pollinating period was cool, wet, and windy. If the tree has enough fruit, we’ll have another go at this. Only abut half the fruit was used from last summer. The rest was wasted.

There was a variety of other foods that had little to do with the pruner’s meal, but we ate them anyway. Thanks to all the talented cooks and to Phyllis and Cameron (White Heron Cellars) for hosting.

Today (Saturday) had both sun and rain. I went out and took photos of three flowering plants.

Puccoon
https://www.cdlandtrust.org/trails-access/field-guide/columbian-puccoon

Service Berry

Serviceberry

White Lupine
Not: USCGC White Lupine, but its namesake
White Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)
https://www.summitpost.org/white-silky-lupine-lupinus-sericeus/265388

The photo is of White Silky Lupine.

The things I find on-line just say that white is uncommon. However, here it blooms earlier than the purple. An on-line photo has one without the flowers open and they are very pink. Mine are fully open and have some pink therein. I think the white and purple/blue are distinctly different because of the bloom time.
Because the (new & growing) plant is toxic to some animals most of the Washington State research papers focus on that aspect. Someone must know about the colors and bloom times, but I haven’t found it.

From the Naneum Fan
John

Windy Cold Flowers

We finished pruning vines on Wednesday at about 12:15. We missed a day because of rain. I didn’t go on Tuesday but Cameron and Tom started and retreated to the winery. On Wednesday there were 5 of us. Tom returned from a trip to PA to see his young granddaughters and Mark finished his advising folks about growing things and conservation practices. He is a Master Gardener.

On Thursday I brought in firewood and split some. I also used scrap lumber and made a few dozen stakes to prop head-pruned vines – no poles or wires. I thought I’d be through burning wood by mid-April but not so! The cold weather has stayed, with rain and wind.

Friday I went to Yakima and met Suzy and Bob for a cheap Costco hot dog and sundae. We visited and shopped. One-way is just under an hour long drive and I didn’t accomplish much before or after.

At dawn Saturday it was 40°F with only a little wind. When it hit 50, the wind started – 23 mph sustained with gusts to 30. For the day there were periods of 35/36 mph and gusts to 46. I was hoping to cut a few more trees but that will wait until Tuesday or Wednesday when single digit winds are forecast.

Despite the wind, I took some photos. The four below were taken this morning – May 7th. All are near the entrance off of Naneum Road. I planted 2 dozen Daffodils but only half of them are fully flowering. A few are only 2 inches of green and a few spaces are still empty. That is also true of the yellow (wax) beans in the garden, although the seeds are still there. I checked! A week from now the NWS thinks we will get to 62° and partly sunny. That might help.

From the Naneum Fan

John

I paid for . . .

A while back I bought a spiral-cut ham. It came in a cute black net bag and had a pouch attached labeled “Sweet Ham Glaze & Dipping Sauce.”
The ingredients list includes:
High Fructose Corn Syrup,
Water,
Sugar,
Corn Syrup,
Brown Sugar,
Caramelized Sugar Syrup, and
Caramel Flavor
(+ a few other things)

Except for water and caramel flavor (chemicals of some sort), the main ingredients produce brown sugar water.

The price was $3/ pound and the bag of sugar water weighs 8 ounces.
So, I paid $1.50 for something worth about 10¢.
After heating in a slow oven, the pan contained about a pound of water, so there is another $3.00.
The bag of sugar water also has unknown spices.

I wanted the pre-cut version because it is easy to re-bag in small amounts and freeze for future meals. That task is completed.

Next, I’ll put the remaining portion in a slow-cooker with veggies and make a soup, and freeze packages.
All together, I’ll have quick start bases for about 40 meals. That is about 80¢ for each.

There is not much else new. I have seen a small size Horned Owl about. Frequently, I hear 2 or 3 calling, but haven’t gone looking. Years ago I did and found two side-by-side. They stayed while I walked near them and took photos. This one flies if I get within about 50 feet. If she gets more tolerant maybe I can get photos.

I expected to finish pruning this week but rain is forecast for tomorrow.
Still, we may finish this week.

Other news:
Cousin Ethyl, 104+, died this past week. My sister, living in Parma OH, drove the 130 miles east into Pennsylvania for the Friday funeral. I’ve been calling Ethyl once a week for the past two years and visiting with her about family things. She remained mentally sharp almost to the end.
I was last in PA to visit in September of 2000; then to see my Uncle John (cancer) and other family members.

From the Naneum Fan
John

A dull week

With not much happening on the Naneum Fan the last few days, I’ll add a link —
Dispelling the doomsday propaganda in DisneyNature’s new polar bear ‘documentary’
Susan Crockford is an independent researcher and author from B. C., and a fan of the big white bears. I wrote to her a couple of years ago with a question and got an immediate response.

About that time our local BiMart was clearing out seasonal merchandise and I bought two fleece throws. During all the removal of “stuff” from the house last year, I’ve managed to keep them. I’ve not figured out how to get one to her, but now that Covid Panic is winding down I can work on that.
– – and now the photo that prompted this:
– – – – – – – – – Picture of the Week

Momma bear looks a little thin after the winter and having 3 cubs; but the spring feeding season has begun. If you use a search phrase “fat polar bears” there are many photos of bears after the feeding season, some are cute and others you likely don’t want a 3 year old to see.

And here at home:
We had just 3 pruners this week, and I didn’t go on Friday. Next week Cameron will not be home until Thursday. The cold and cloudy weather has kept the vines from having the buds open so there has not been damage there. We have not seen regional reports except that fruit growers are concerned.
Friday I went for lunch with the CWU scholarship lunch group of which Nancy was a long time participant. The University has not quite dropped all of the Covid Panic restriction. So there are a few masks to be seen on campus. In the Ellensburg stores many employees are using masks but only a very small number of shoppers. I saw a driver with a mask on, but didn’t see if there were passengers. Apparently the Seattle and other Puget Sound residents are still very much wearing masks. We’ve got a rural versus urban thing going on.

I have worked a couple of hours dismantling the in-shed room. This recovers 2x4s and 3/8s inch plywood, and cans of nails. I need to re-establish the electricity in the shed. I need a dozen screw on wire caps to cover the (now) disconnected wires to plugs and lights. Then the main circuit breaker can be reinstalled, and I’ll have internal power. I can use plug-in lights until an “idea” clicks for internal lights.

I’m gathering wood for burning. I didn’t expect to be burning this long into spring. There is lots of wood, but not a suitable length for the stove. Some just has to be cut the right length, about 15” to 16”. Some has to be split. I’m gathering pre-cut trees for future use. And I need to cut, split, and stack that. A hot & dry summer will, I hope, get it sufficiently dry. There is plenty of dead wood I can use, but wonder if that will be enough for a long winter. I’ll work on that when I get the newly fallen trees processed.

The price of generic gasoline has stabilized at $4.40 per gallon.

From the Naneum Fan
John

Cold and Snow

This week there was snow on two evenings – – Mon into Tues, and Wed into Thur – – with record cold temperature. For the Yakima Airport, the 2-day average early in the week was 35.3°F. Going back to 1948 there as a 2-day mean of 35.5°.
After mid-week it got colder. The mean was 33.8°. I’m 50 miles north and 1,200 feet higher so likely 3 or 4 degrees colder, but I can’t do a two day average.
The fruit growers in the region seem to have been lucky in that it has been so cold the buds on their trees, vines, and shrubs have not opened.That is true on the grape vines we have been pruning. The National Weather Services thinks I may see 50° this coming Thursday. The plants and I are hoping that is true. Warming will be sooner over at the vineyard.
By mid-week we should be seeing buds opening as we work.

Because of the snow and cold, I haven’t done much outside.
We only pruned on Thursday and Friday. At home, I kept the wild birds supplied with seeds, and brought in wood for the stove.
I did get a haircut on Tuesday morning. My barber, Kristen, and I both got clumps of wet snow on us on the way into the building. We survived.

With early morning temperatures expected to be below freezing for the next week, I need to bring more wood in, and some of that needs to be split. I’m starting the 18th week of using the wood stove.
Keeping track on the Naneum Fan
John

Mid-April weather

Some work was done on the shed conversion. I cannot call it the Big Brown Shed now because the roof is blue, the sides are white and sandstone. The window and open-face trim will be white, same as the house. The composite-fiber siding, now white, will be blue. There will be decorative aspects eventually, and inside wiring to reconnect. I’m slowly removing an inside room at the back of the space — 2×4 frame and thin plywood siding. I built this shortly after we moved here in 1989, about 30 years ago — but never made much use of it. The purpose was to enclose a smallish space where the heater was, so as to not be heating the entire shed. I didn’t build it with the idea of taking it apart and now, not wanting to ruin the wood, the removal is slow. So, while not done, the future shed is figuratively visible.

I pruned grape vines most days and that takes about 6 hours total time from my day.
I’ve kept the wood stove working. The following chart is for the coming week, but the past week was about the same.

Last fall I cut 4 trees and some older wood into rounds. Late Saturday afternoon I went to get the rounds and pull the trees up to where I will cut them up. The wind picked up and snow started. Not much, but I didn’t finish the task. It is not safe being in the trees when the wind blows. The airport reported gusts to 35 mph. Snoqualmie Pass needed to be closed because of the snow and accidents. For most years this sort of thing would be reliably over by April 1st.

Annie (dog) and cats – Sue, Woody, Rascal, & Czar – and wild birds all need fed. I take Annie for a short walk in the morning. She has been good being alone for about six hours but needs out as soon as I get home, then again late in the evening. Usually about 4 AM I get her out, and check the stove. Then, we all go back to sleep for awhile.

Outside the sun is shining and it is 46°F. I’m off to do the wood gathering and perhaps some de-construction in the shed.

From the Naneum Fan
John