Seasonably Cold Thanksgiving

Monday and Tuesday I went across to the old dairy where Dale and Kathy were cleaning up some of the fallen sheds and trees. I got lunch and firewood for my efforts. Most of the wood is fresh-cut, so won’t be used for a year or two. I only brought the smaller stuff. The trunks, even cut in 16″ lengths, are too heavy to lift – half water. I’ll likely bring those home next fall.
The old sheds yield 80 to 100 year-old boards of various sizes. Most I can cut into proper lengths with a radial-arm saw – less than 3″ thick. Others need a different saw. I intend to get more of these boards Sunday afternoon when the temperature is expected to climb above freezing.

The low this morning was 18°F {-8°C}. By next Sunday the low is expected to be higher than today’s high. We’ll see.

Thanksgiving is a time for baking, so I made Blueberry Pies and roasted pork-ribs. A few years ago, before I learned Washington State’s harvest of Blueberries is one of the largest in the world, I bought two 3-pound bags. Long past their best-buy date it is time for them to become pies.

I notice on the internet that a lot of frozen Blueberries are labeled as “Wild.” A friend’s favorite saying is: “I don’t know about that.” I’ll guess the “wild” part refers to the native (small plant, small berry) type, but not hard to find like a Badger or a Bobcat – or Huckleberries such as are found in the mountains of Washington. Larger bushes and berries were developed and are known as Highbush Blueberries. That story is here:

I still have a second bag in the freezer. Christmas, I think, will see that bag become pies. I suppose the “healthy” aspects of the blue fruits has caused the growth of commercial harvests. In the USA, we get fresh blueberries from Chili and Peru in winter.

Saturday, five us dined on left-over turkey and salmon at Phyllis’s table. I pulled some wine from my stash – 20+ years old. The new trap-door still needs a handle, so I had to improvise. I have a temporary fix, so if I have to get down there again it will be easy.

I emptied ashes from the wood stove and cleaned up there. This afternoon (Sunday) I started it again. It was to the point that I could only get a half-load in it, so burn time was shortened. It takes about 4 days to burn out and cool enough to dispose of the ashes. An inventor should work on this issue.

Monday morning will be near 20°F. I’ll have to do something inside until about 11 AM.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Watching wood burn

My wood stove has a glass window. There are numerous interesting things that happen when various types and shapes of wood burn. I noticed a new one this week.
I have much brush that I continue to cut and pile out of the way, or I cut many pieces into proper length for the stove. The image on the top right here shows one such piece. Along the main stem are nodes where shoots (or branches) appear. On this piece only one small branch is still there. Others have been cut or fallen off. The arrangement of the branches around the circumference varies. The length between these nodes varies by plant, but are similar in any one plant. Here the inter-node distance is about one inch. A branch like this one is shown burning in the photo taken through the glass window of the stove.

When a piece of wood is added to the fire the heat causes gases to leave and burn – the flame. When all the gases are expelled, the flaming stops and the red glow of a solid remains.
On this occasion the flames appear to be coming at equal intervals along the stem. I suppose this is at each of the nodes. However, I did not watch as this pattern developed. It looked like this when I first noticed. I’ll have to introduce a few more pieces and watch to see how it develops.
Research is such hard work.
I need to rest.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Turkeys – no snow

North of me 15 miles is Mission Peak. Near there and facing northeast is a ski area. I can see the Mountain’s Peak, but not the ski slopes. They have just started up web cameras. Not a big surprise, but I have never been there. To get there I would have to go 70 miles to Wenatchee and then back south – about a 2 hour trip. See here – click – scroll down:

Mountain Report

40 miles to the northwest of Mission Peak there is also snow as shown in the highway camera at Stevens Pass:

Saturday morning I had 27 (?) turkeys wander through. They came past four deer that were feeding under my cherry trees along the driveway. I have seen turkeys numerous times in the past three months, while usually they might be around for a week. Also, this is the most I have seen at one time. The flock seems to be growing.

I had a flu shot in September. Recently got the latest Covid shot, and Saturday the RSV shot. Peggy says this is called the alphabet shot. The actual name is respiratory syncytial virus, thus, RSV.

Our government claims “Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months.”
I had the prior shingles shot, called Zostavax, but that is no longer used in the USA. The term of protection of that is under about 4 years. I can’t remember when I got that, but likely in 2008 or ’09.
Peggy was told the newer 2-dose Shingrix wasn’t being recommended for folks over 80. She is, I’m not – or not yet. A bit more inquiry is in order.

I’ve not had reactions to shots of any sort. Still I don’t get but one at a time. That way, should I have a reaction, I will know which thing caused it.
I go to the grocery pharmacy, so it is not an inconvenience to get them separately.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Change clocks, count bananas

A rainy week.
I had a $30 winning ticket in WA’s lottery. The Covid shot was paid for by fellow taxpayers and me. Then I went to the transfer station (aka the Dump) and paid $21 to send my stuff to be buried in a landfill for future archaeologists to decipher. After the cost of driving to EBRG, I was ahead by about $3.00.
Wednesday, Phyllis and Cameron had me and another for fondue. If I don’t count the gasoline for the 120 mile trip that was a free meal. We sampled 4 wines from recent vintages. Thursday, lunch with my lawyer, Ann, was at a Thai restaurant in EBRG. I paid her a fee for last year’s consultations that was never billed, and she paid for the meal. Our conversation was not law stuff, so we just had a good time. I was not exactly impressed with the food, having been raised on beef and potatoes. The place is nice, the server was lovey and pleasant, even though I could barely understand her.

Contractor Walter came for a visit. His trusted and talented worker had an emergency appendectomy 2 months ago and complications ensued. He went from EBRG to the major hospital in Seattle – Harborview Medical Center. The doctors intend on one last operation, but he has started to heal and eat real food. Progress. My working relationship with Walter is for him to let things here slide when he has work elsewhere. Thus, nothing has been done here for two months.
I have had $1,000 worth of his equipment here and via email suggested he should get it home before winter. He thinks he can come back later this coming week, do some work, and take more of the equipment to his lockable shed. Other than that neither of us is no longer young, none of this is a big deal or urgent.

One of the few concerts I went to when in high school was Harry Belafonte (trip to Pittsburgh) and one of his songs is called Day-O or the Banana Boat Song. Here are three lines of the lyrics:

Work all night on a drink a rum
Stack banana ’til the mornin’ come
Come, mister tally man, tally me banana

The following image is on the web this week:

Start counting.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Pygmy Rabbits

I attended a presentation on Thursday evening and then went to CWU Friday for a luncheon. There are groups from CWU staff that pay and host ($60/year) lunch organized by Ruth Harrington – wife of a deceased former professor. I became a occasional member of the group Nancy was in. When Nancy first got involved the lunch fee was $3, now it is $6. I missed last month, but managed this one, several others missed. We visit and share news.
The chairs at the table were mates to the ones I got at CWU surplus for 50¢ (mentioned in an earlier post, Sept 9th) and wonder of wonders there was one with a missing back cover, just as I have.

The previous evening I learned about the Columbia Basin (to my northeast) population of Pygmy Rabbits. The locations are quite close to White Heron Winery, so we know about the bunnies, but not much.
This was an opportunity to learn from one of the State’s biologists.

Habitat loss and fragmentation led to the near extirpation of the Columbian Basin Pygmy Rabbit. In 2001, only 16 individuals remained on Washington’s landscape. In 2003 they were officially recognized by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as an endangered species.

Flash forward 20 years and there are currently 2 populations of pygmy rabbits each with approximately 150 individuals. Katherine’s presentation explained how this was brought about.

Katherine Soltysiak with a captured rabbit. Below the habitat is dense sagebrush that provides food, cover and shade. Pregnant ones are the heaviest – just over a pound. The average weight is under a pound. Sage is about 80% of their diet. The bunny in the photo below is up on a branch, and when there is snow they will tunnel through the snow and can get higher if there are drifts.

The region is prone to fast moving fires through the grass and sage, but this rabbit unlike all others digs borrows and can survive the fire. But then, in many cases there is no food. In the next photo folks are collecting rabbits chased into their borrows. After care, they will be released in a suitable location, then fed and watered in an enclosure until they have dug burrows and call the place home.
When it was first realized the rabbits were endangered, the local population was small and inbred. Related pygmies were brought from Idaho and three organizations received small numbers of locals and the new ones. Thus, the Central Washington population is recovering, but not pure genetically. Below is a link to the Oregon Zoo’s part in this, with nice photo.

This week has been one of the coldest ends of October in the State and east, and into Canada. Saturday morning the temperature was just 18°F. I loaded the wood stove on Thursday morning and have had a fire going since then. This coming Tuesday should have a minimum temperature of over 40° so I can, maybe, go back to using the heat pump to mid-November.
Here is one of the better photos to appear this week. I haven’t tracked down the source.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Fall things

We bottled about 1,000 bottles of Rosé Wednesday morning. I let an uncorked bottle through the line that got up-ended into a box with 4 other bottles. We were not labeling at that point and no one else saw it. Cleaning up the mess and finding a new box got us back in rhythm again.
That’s the first of those in about 10 bottlings. W also had trouble with the corker not dropping the “train” of corks through the tube. So we had a dozen bottles removed from the stand without corks. I caught all but one! Ouch.

Fall progresses. A couple of wild turkeys came by and the little Douglas Squirrels were busy collecting and storing Black Walnuts. The trees produced many more than the squirrels know what to do with.

They have several locations where they stockpile the nuts. Often there is some out of the way place, but frequently the base of a tree gets anointed. The photo above shows the base of a Forsythia bush between two of the trees. They, the squirrels don’t have to carry the nuts far. When a nut is picked up there is a distinctive 2-hole puncture in the husk.
I don’t see this location as a good solution but I left it. Most of the harvest I carted to 4 spots of my choosing where there is a protective cover. I note they are stripping the husks off and carrying the nuts to places I mostly don’t know about. One is in some of the remaining insulation in the big shed – that is going to end next year. They make a mess.

After arriving in the EBRG area I began to help with the Conservation District’s native plant sale. After 7 or 8 years the demand grew so much that the burden, even with volunteers doing the busy work, was distracting the District’s crew from the regular activities. Before the annual sale ended I obtained a few small maple trees – Douglas Maples but commonly called Rocky Mountain Maples., and Mountain Ash Trees. Both are common in the mountains west of me, but my location does not keep them happy. Still, I’ve brought them to adulthood.
Here is what the foliage and fruit of the Ash look like this fall.

The Maples have been the hardest to get the color and fruit for which they are famous. But here is success.

Travelers on I-90 going over Snoqualmie Pass get to see lots of these little maples. I have three and one gets too much shade, so doesn’t perform.

What’s next? Snow! Tuesday through the rest of the week there is a chance of snow and temperatures near 20°F. I’m not happy about this.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


A friend, Karen, known since 1975 died Monday. A son-in-law called mid-morning to let me know she died during the night. Husband Bob died a couple of years ago. After arriving in Idaho in summer of 1974, Nancy and I were early members of a Brittany Club forming in the region. We met Karen and Bob in the spring of 1975. They were established Brittany folks and regular supporters of our club. We met their kids at field trials. Our active participation lasted about 15 years. The kids got married and had kids. And now one of those, with two cute girls, lives just 5 miles south of me on the way to EBRG.
I decided not to go over. There are various reasons I don’t like funerals. The major one is that as an altar boy for many years I served at frequent funeral masses, somewhere between 60 and hundred. I don’t think this is a good experience for a young teen. Nevertheless, I’ve been thinking of Karen all week. It is odd, but the passing of the Moon in front of the Sun on Saturday caused a distinct painful emotion. Another void in our lives that cannot be filled. Peace.

I did not try to photograph the solar eclipse. Here is a photo taken from Puget Sound at 9:10 am on Saturday. About 80% of the Sun is covered. In EBRG it was a bit less.

This has been a slow week.
M/T/W saw regular dirt & rock action. I finished painting both sides and all edges of 4 sheets of plywood. I now can paste a mural on them and – the hard part – get them attached to the side of the shed. While I had the paint open and a small brush, I painted the entry-sign letters with the white paint. Unfortunately, when made, the letters were cut from a plywood not meant to be outside. These were coming apart and the blue and original wood made an unpleasant mess. For the time being they are white and look okay. I’ll replace them later.
I went to a routine dental appointment at 11:00 on Thursday. Cameron wanted to bottle wine but two of us could not go, so that was postponed until Friday. Nothing got done at home on either day.
There was a small tank of wine and bottling took just two hours. With nice weather we lunched outside. Cameron, Garret, and I played two games of Pétanque on the gravel drive – Cameron had the duty in the tasting room and had to stay nearby.
Saturday, after a trip to town (grocery & pharmacy), I cleaned up a few yard things, including the continuing “rain” of Black Walnuts.
Today (Sun), I raked leaves and dug 20 feet of shallow trench in the garden. Not quite finished with that, but I use the trench for composting food waste (think apple cores) and it is desirable to get the work done before nasty weather ramps up, or the surface freezes.
Sunday I mostly did kitchen chores. I made a large batch of lasagna-like mixture that included green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, sausage, pasta sauce, and caramelized onions. I now have 10 packages, each a single meal, and more nutritious than grocery store lasagna.
This coming Wednesday we have another – larger – tank of wine to bottle.
Otherwise, no specific plans.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Gone is Summer

The summer-like weather is over for our area. This is what the forecast looks like for the Washington Coast.

There won’t be a lot of rain near the coast, but the higher western ridges and the peaks will measure rain and snow in inches. Mount Rainier will get many inches per day of snow.
I expect drizzle. For Mon/Tue/Wed, I might get an inch of rain. Sun returns Thursday.

Boys Town or not to …
I got a large stuffed envelope from Boys Town on Tuesday. All sorts of things were inside, including all the usually things such as mailing labels, but also 3 pens and a envelope opener {plastic with embedded razor}, and a kid’s size pair of socks – Christmas decorated. There is a calendar and a yearly planner. It is, of course, a plea for money.
My question – why me? My name is being shopped around, I think because two years ago I gave $20 to the Salvation Army, or some other charity. I do wonder how much this cost and how many were sent out. Hmm?

Thursday evening I went to a talk regarding the women that were the first instructors at the Normal School (teacher training school) in Ellensburg. The progression here has been similar to the Normal Schools in Pennsylvania – I got a B.S. in Education at Clarion State, now Clarion University.
I likely would not have attended except for needing to go to town for groceries. It, also, was suggested by the Retirement Association. New retirees are not participating much and the old folks are dropping out. This issue is a concern for many organizations.

In addition to moving rocks and dirt around this week, I cleaned enough of the shed so I could lay out 4 sheets of plywood. I have painted these with bright white acrylic semi-gloss. I bought a “peel and stick” vinyl mural that almost fits the 8 ft high by 16 feet wide space on the sheltered side of the rebuilt shed. [The mural is 9 x 15] It is a western theme – horses on a grassy rise with distant mountains.
I can trim the bottom by 4″ and the top by 8″ without degrading the image. The sides of the space will need some fill. I haven’t decided on what that will be.

Last week I carted an old wooden file cabinet and a dorm-room type desk out to the county road. Free to the needing person. No takers. I must have a higher class of motorists passing by. Today I carted them back to a shed.

Meanwhile, the Black Walnut trees have turned yellow and have blessed the driveway with a bushel of nuts. This time next week – the trees will be bare.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Cat in a box ~ truck in a quandary

On the deck there is a table with a small rug, an office chair, 4 other cushioned chairs, and a box I used while cleaning and drying walnuts fresh out of the husk. The box was from a store that cuts the side out for display, so I added a strip for my use – that’s why it looks odd.
They do use the table where they have a good view.
This week the choices were not the normal ones. Tzar curled in the chair and the shade. Rascal found the box and the sun to his liking. This is on the deck, newly added to the south side of the house.

The truck provided a mystery this week. The set-up is that I took it to the Ford dealer’s service shop for a 6,000 mile oil change and related maintenance. When finished, I went to the parking area and found it unlocked. That’s odd, something I have not seen before. Nevertheless, I got in and turned the key – – and nothing happened.
Then I realized the dash lights did not come on and there were no bells and dings as usual, such as for no seat belt and the door was still open. I pondered this, and after kicking the tires (just kidding) I went back and asked the folks what they did to the truck. Out two of us went. The service receptionist guy had the same results I did. Nothing.
This wasn’t like a bad battery, it was like no battery.
He went in and brought a power block that, when connected, should have brought all the lights and switches to life. Nothing. I stood at the front of the car watching the clouds while he went and returned with 3 others. While waiting, I heard something – an unrecognizable small sound that appeared to be from the car. One of the other techs got in the car, inserted the key, and the truck came to life and started easily. No problems.
Only the one person and I had seen the truck totally dead. The others joked that one had to know how to turn a key and went off chuckling to themselves. Except this isn’t funny.
This is a 2019 Ford 150, so there are hundreds of thousands on the highways.
Searching on the internet, I found several sites that had folks with similar “no battery” episodes that cure themselves. One Ford episode from 2009. There, a “chat room” response said to look for a main fusible link located by the starter relay. Here are two sites that describe the concept:

Understanding Fusible Links ~ The One Wire That Will Save Your Car!

These 6 Bad Fusible Link Symptoms To Watch For: Testing & Replacement [Explained]

I don’t find anything that says they can “cure” themselves – but that’s what it sounds like. I did find this statement “a power wire somewhere that’s intermittently shorting to ground” and there is something called a “self-resetting circuit breaker.”
Being well beyond my understanding of such things, my plan is to go back to the Ford service center and ask a few questions.

The temperature this morning (Sunday) was 35°F. That seems to be the low for at least the next two weeks. Really, I don’t trust forecasts beyond about 3 days. That is a bit chilly, so I didn’t go out until about 11 o’clock.
I moved several hundred pounds of rock and dirt and changed chores in the afternoon. I settled for less active tasks.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

It came and went

Official fall in my area was Friday, September 22, 2023 at 11:50 pm PDT.

… and I hardly noticed.

A few of us had a gathering Thursday starting at 5pm. Meal was potluck but with grilled sausages. We had a couple of games of Pétanque – throwing steel balls (boules) at a target officially called a jack (French: cochonnet). When not trying to get close to the target, one tries to knock other’s boules away from said target. Wine helps.

At home, the squirrels, Blue Jays, Magpies and I try to get the Walnuts before one of the others does.
All are noisy. A video of the local sort of squirrel: Douglas.

And I keep moving rocks and dirt from the front to the back hole (Jay’s folly).
Rain is likely on Monday; I have other projects out of the rain.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan