stomach distress

The CWU retirement association had a dinner meeting Thursday evening. Here is a partial menu.

There were roasted vegetables and a peach cobbler with crisp oats. One assumes there were spices in those, also.
It may have been coincidence and something else caused stomach distress but I missed about 4 hours of sleep. Finally, about 4 am sleep came for about 3 hours.
I checked the various things I could but found nothing in the food that I expected to cause indigestion. I’ve suggested the hypothesis that there was just too much of spices that I usually do not eat.
I had to look up Chimichurri. It is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and red wine vinegar or lemon juice – some recipes have more.
Anyway, none of the things normally, in moderation, bother me.
Oh well, moving on.
There is a another dinner Monday evening at the same place with food from the same kitchen. Looking forward to it.

At the Thursday dinner the President of CWU spoke for a few minuted (10 or 15) about enrollments and changes in student characteristics. I am about 20 years older so the changes I have seen since entering college (1961) have been even more substantial. One of the biggest changes is that the majority of college students, including advanced degrees, are female. There are increasing numbers of students not born, or recently born, in the USA. Many students are “first-in-family” because the parents came from poor areas of less developed countries.
These students work hard at learning and are winning awards. That’s where I enter the picture – providing $$ for scholarship awards.
The Monday evening event is the university-wide 2023 Annual Scholarship Dinner. I’ll learn more.

Saturday I went for dinner at White Heron with Phyllis, Cameron, and another volunteer – Eric. After that we went to another winery friend’s place and played a game of throwing steel balls.
Pétanque (French pronunciation: [petɑ̃k] is a sport that falls into the category of boules sports, along with raffa, bocce, boule lyonnaise, lawn bowls, and crown green bowling. In all of these sports, players or teams play their boules/balls towards a target ball. More on Wikipedia.

This page explains the two games: Bocce and Pétanque

What is the Difference between Petanque vs. Bocce Ball?

Get yours here:

We played with 6 people – 4 spoke excellent French. To me, they all spoke a variety of English that matched quite well with my American.

Bright and sunny today with a high of 81°F.
During the coming week I may get to 88, while 100 miles south of me it may get to the “century” mark, but likely not quite.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Red Osier Dogwood

May is the month when the low spots on the property get swampy and one of the plants that hangs out here is Red Osier Dogwood. This is the sericea type.

This is my view in late May – it is common here.
The best photos and information I have found:

Note the name used is Red Twig. This site shows the plant throughout the year, with colors and fruit, Recommended.

I’m working along the edge of the swamp (riparian area), clearing the fuel and plants I do not want under a large Ponderosa Pine. Clearing the “ladder-fuel” away may save it should a fire come through.
Some, the Quaking aspens, get big enough for fire wood. These are about 6 inches across and some show heartwood damage by ants and other critters.
Others, such as roses, look nice when blooming but never get big; lots of sharp prickles are the main feature. The Hawthorn is another (small tree with big thorns) I like to remove. The wood is hard, but to harvest it for firewood is a pain – literally. There is Golden Current in the mix and those I leave.

On Wednesday I went to the CWU picnic and awards “end of school” party and on Thursday to “Ales & Trails” gathering sponsored by Washington Trails Association at the local Iron Horse Brewery. The former was free and I came home with food. At the brewery I paid $5.40 for a 10 ounce dark beer. I didn’t ask what the 16 ounce one cost.

This is memorial day weekend. I’ll put the flag out by the county road and otherwise continue my leisurely brushing.

Thunderstorms continued to rumble across the high hills to my north. None came close today. Today seems to be the end of this several day turbulence in the atmosphere over Washington State.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Helicopters and storms

Wednesday the WA State fire crews had a training day. I got photos as the helicopters carried water north and empty buckets south. The return-leg was closer to me and the trailing empty bucket was closer.

Many things, both wild and domestic, are blooming this week. I’ve a purple lilac that looks nice. The pines are showing blossoms and each has its own character and color. I have a Western Mountain Ash with its clusters of white flowers. The fruits will be orange/red and bitter. Those hang on the tree through most of the next winter. Then, after multiple freezes and thaws, they will soften and birds will readily eat them. Meanwhile, that tree hums from the many bees visiting it.

I attended a lunch in CWU’s Jongeward Building on Friday. The building has a square atrium (glass walls) in the center with the lunch room adjacent. There is a single large Magnolia tree in the space, leaning out from a corner. The building was built in the early 1970s. I can’t find whether or not the building was built around the tree or whether the building-name and tree follow from the University’s head gardener, Donald Jongeward, hired in 1937. The blossoms have all dropped so this wasn’t a picture-taking event.

Weather this week in Oregon and Washington has been turbulent in the early evenings. Solar energy heats the land and as the air rises above, it cools rapidly and clouds form. Sometimes big clouds with lightening and thunder. Usually these go to my west and follow the ridge tops toward the northeast.
Yesterday, the storm came over me. A late afternoon (5:16 pm) image shows the early development.

I’m the red star, with Moses Lake to the east and Mt. Rainier to the west. The red line is the Washington-Oregon border. Individual white clouds are west and south of me. The massive cloud to the south is moving north and by 8:15 pm my area was getting heavy rain, lightening, and thunder. Just one flash and the sound came almost simultaneously. The action moved north and east quickly. As did the rain.
Over at the winery (23 miles east), Phyllis and Cameron had a great view as the storm crossed the ridges – elevations there are 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

At 3:00pm this afternoon (Saturday) the clouds are growing over the Cascades and the near-by ridges, although I’m in full sun.

The action is to the west of me, heading to the northeast. More rain would be nice.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Hydrophyllum capitatum

I found a flower while gather firewood. It was nestled under an Oregon Grape plant.

I did an image search on the Web and was directed to a flower called Silky Phacelia. Try as I might, I could not find a variety of this that matched the flower I have.
I wrote to folks at the College of the Sciences – I mentioned last week about a dinner where top students and a few others were recognized. I sent a note to Dean Tim and James (my contact for donations) and asked for help. Within hours my flower was identified by Linda Raubeson, CWU Biology Department. Thank you Linda and those others who helped.
Linda suggested Hydrophyllum capitatum and the Wikipedia page has a photo from the Wenas Wildlife Area southwest of Ellensburg, namely var. capitatum. [I was in that wildlife area on Tuesday, Nov. 9th 2021 to plant sagebrush plugs where the Evans Canyon fire burned in 2020.] Parts of the area (Jones Canyon) are the same elevation as my place is on the Naneum Fan (2,240 ft) and 660 feet higher than the CWU campus.

Two things are a bit confusing. From an historic identification — a common name for these plants is Ballhead Waterleaf. The “ball” part fits, but not “water” – I’m dry and rocky. That is explained here:

I had to clear some of the other plants and brush to get a photo of the flower and the leaf, on separate stems. Here it is:

Other flower news: Vine pruner Mark sent a packet of Hollyhock seeds from Moses Lake, a town along I-90 that is 55 miles east of Ellensburg. Sent on Friday, the packet arrived a week later. Why? Only the USPS knows.
I planted them this morning – Saturday. Thanks Mark.

I spent a couple of hours cleaning up the branches from the tree removal over at the old Swedberg home. What I didn’t want as kindling, I carried to a burn pile for Dale and Kathy to care for when they next come down. I’ve cut about half of what I took into pieces for the stove, and stored them under cover – for next winter.

I’ve continued with wood gathering here and sprayed weed-killer on the anti-fire path that goes behind the house. This is part of my Fire-Wise actions.

I’ve got trees down, some cut as rounds, some not. There is lots of clean-up to do but I will have enough firewood for the ’23-24 winter.
What I cut down this week will be for the season after that.

Having warmed this week, I’ve let the stove cool. It kept the house warm from early November to early May.

The National Weather Service thinks it will be 88°F next Saturday with almost 100° just one hundred miles south of here.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

John H.

Wed-summer Sat-fall

Pruning ended on Wednesday in full sun and 85°F. By 3:00 pm it felt like 100, but we kept at it until 3:30.
The vines were growing with buds and full leaves. Cameron called his pickers – the clan of Angelica – and four folks came and helped finish two or three acres. They did the “head-pruned” vines. These have no posts, wires, or trellises – are low to the ground and require being on your knees or fully bent over. Not fun. On Wednesday we had 8 folks in the east facing Pinot Noir vines.
In previous years, vineyard son Dylan would do all of this section but now he is in Seattle’s Pike Place Market 3 days each week. We quit Wednesday with just 4 rows left., we volunteers opted to let the locals do those. Three of us volunteers live about an hour’s drive away. So we are done.
I think there are 2 varieties to bottle in the next six weeks – no schedule yet. Also, there will be a vine-fired raclette. I cannot find a photo from the web that shows the real vineyard type raclette. This one is from January 2018 showing the fire, cheese, and potatoes. The square block of cheese is on a post that allows it to be swiveled over the fire for heating and then off the fire when being scraped onto the potatoes.

This event follows the tradition of melting raclette-type cheese in front of a fire, know in Valais since before 1574. It was a common lunch for the pruners and cow herders of mountainous Alpine regions.

It took me 48 hours to recover from the summer-like day on Wednesday.

I went to a College of the Science dinner on Thursday. It was mostly an event to highlight each department’s top students, a few of the faculty, and three donors that were present. I was there and got a brief mention. The accomplishments of the students – a diverse group – is astounding. I do not think I’ve encountered any thing similar at the other institutions where we were. The Geography Department’s end-of-year celebration and student awards is scheduled for May 24th. Nancy’s funds – vie me now – will give four students $1,000 each. I’m not involved in the choice and will learn of those and other awards that evening.

Weather: After our day of summer the area is having a cold wave. High today is expected to be 58°. This coming Wednesday is expected to get above 60. My Shiro Plum is in full blossom. The flowers are white but the round fruits will be bright yellow.
I’m hoping the pollinators will have good weather to do their thing.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Variety Week

I was only able to prune vines on Thursday.
Monday was a dental filling. But there was no pruning on Mon/Tues anyway.
Wednesday was a service visit from Culligan.
Friday was lunch at CWU.

Saturday was a warm and sunny day. The temp reached 85°F for a brief moment while holding at 84 most of the afternoon. I watered the onions. They were happy.They are still small and frequent water is needed.
Next Sunday is expected to have a high of 60°.

I’ve used the garden cart to carry tree-rounds to the shed where the electric log splitter is set up. The wood was cut last year or earlier and stored under cover. A small percentage of the splitting wood will fly to the right when the break happens. An animal or person, especially a small one, could be hurt. That is a no-go-zone, although the operator is not in danger.
Other pieces are “stringy” and the full travel-length of the machine does not completely separate the pieces. If I can’t break them by hand, an ax finishes the job.

I intended to spray weeds today. When I got up the wind speed was 3 mph. Slowly, at first, and then more quickly the wind rose and averaged in the mid-to-high 30s. Top gust was 51 mph. With strong wind I stay out from under standing trees. I cut three downed trees into firewood lengths. Yesterday, I had used the truck to pull the logs into an open area.
Now into May we go – with blooming daffodils – finally.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Water Problems

Water can be good and bad

A tale of “I could have done without these.”

I put some fertilizer on about 2/3 of the onions. During the night there was a light rain. That’s the (partial) good news.
Now for the rest . . .
A few days ago there was water leaking out of the water softener, onto a stone tile floor. The amount seemed to be about two or three cups. I cleaned it up and there was no more. Of course the glaring question is: Why?
A nagging question such as that demanded a glass of wine, but that didn’t provide an answer. I had other things to do, so with the assumption that an ignored problem will cure itself, I went about doing other things.
Saturday night I went to bed about 10 PM and woke at midnight for a trip to the bathroom. Then I stepped into the dinning/kitchen area and found a wet rug and a half inch of water in the kitchen and attached laundry area.

The hiss of escaping water was coming from the washing machine. I had run a load early and dried the stuff, all with no problem. I turned on the lights and stepped into the room where the shut-off lever is. Water, again, from the softener was on the floor. This was a minor issue compared to the gallons on the floor in the other rooms –laundry/kitchen/dining. The dining areas has a carpet, 43 years old, well worn, and full of dirt.
I should mention these areas are to get a new wood floor covering, with a third of the pieces on-site (on the covered deck).

After shutting of the house water, I got a bucket and a couple of towels and sopped up the water, alternately working in both places. There was still a slow leakage from the softener but it was easy to keep up with. The other areas were a 2 hour effort. Anything on the floors had to be moved and/or carried outside.
The old rug was soaked. Water was slowly seeping through it. A few towels worth slowed the advance, with no water showing movement. Still, a soaked carpet is not a good thing so I started removing it. Being glued down, wet, and dirty required another two hours of work.
Here is a photo from about 3 AM.

The carpet removal is about half done. I removed 10 inch wide strips (3 from the cleared left side) about 8 feet long. Any longer and I could not get them outside without difficulty. The water (and dirt) made the pieces heavy and water ran from them as I carried them. As I moved to the right, there was less water and the work became easier. I moved three pieces of furniture back when there was sufficient space. They were temporally in front of the wood stove – a very hot wood stove. I started a small fan (also about 3 AM) to help dry the floor. Some of the soft pad did not come up with the carpet and was wet but it dried rapidly with the low humidity, the fan, and the heat from the stove.
About humidity: The area usually has a relative humidity (RH) of about 8%. It rose to 10% during this episode.

I found the leak at the back of the washer. There is a bend where the hot water hose attaches to the machine. The hose failed at that point. The orange in the photo seems to be fabric/plastic wrapping pushed out from the pressure of the escaping water.

It may be that there is a buildup of iron-sediment (or something) in the intake area. To-be-determined.
I’ll replace them both. I think that unit has been here for 10 or 12 years. Tips are at the following link:

I suppose one should replace these every 10 years to be on the safe side.
Meanwhile, knowing where and how to turn the water off (2 solutions: whole house or behind the machine) is a “must know” for everyone.

What now?
Well, I need to get fertilizer on the rest of the onions.
I will tackle the other problems Monday and Tuesday. We won’t be pruning those days but I have a dental appointment at 11 AM Monday.

That’s all for now.
Keeping Track on the Naneum Fan

Insurance and such

I’ve helped prune vines this week and helped the son and grandson of the now deceased neighbors remove trees from that property. Two ideas come to mind. First people should not plant anything next to the house that will grow taller than a tulip. In this case a Maple tree planted 50+ years ago that looked cute near the house grew into a monster about 6 feet through. Twenty years ago, I got on the roof and cut branches off the Maple (and also a Pine) because they were scrapping the roof. The pine was removed 10 years ago. The Maple is now a 15 foot high stump. Second: Willows and Cottonwoods should not be allowed to grow under power lines.
Rounds of the limbs were so heavy they had to be quartered with a chainsaw so I could lift them into a cart. About 30% to 40% of the weight is water that will be evaporated in two years time. Splitting it would allow faster drying. There will still be about 15% water – fine for use as wood fuel.

Truck insurance:
I had a Tuesday 8 am appointment for the truck’s scheduled service and oil change. I cleaned out the front seat, foot-well, and glove box. In doing so I found insurance cards: One was good until March 2022 and the other until March 2023. So neither is current. This was late Monday.
Tuesday morning – after getting back from the dealer – I found that I had missed a letter a year ago telling me to renew and to send a check. Oops!
I’ve been driving for 13 months without insurance.
I transferred from the original agent in Idaho to the Ellensburg office where the house insurance is filed. I did that by phone and went in Wednesday morning to sign the papers. I had to sign my name a dozen times and initial on 7 lines.
An odd issue is that I could not re-initialize the SAFECO insurance because that company won’t sign “new” customers unless there is already a current policy. Now I have 6-month policy with National General. In October I’ll investigate all options with the EBRG agent.

WA’s ski slopes are still operating. Total snow has been just above average but the temperature has stayed below average in 2023. And small amounts of new snow have continued. For this date, snow pack for recreation and summer irrigation is above average and growing.
Local weather has been nice for working outside. The coming week is not going to be as nice, maybe colder and more wind. Snow? Maybe. Or light rain at my elevation.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Easter flowers are a thing. Problem is nothing here is more than 4 inches out of the ground. No tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, or lilies. Not that I have any hyacinths but I will have some of the others in a month. To compensate, I bought a ham butt to roast; spiral cut.
Two friends on the pruning crew hope for rhubarb to make an Easter pie. That’s not happening this year, but they have a few small leaves. Other desserts are planned.
I did manage to plant about 400 onions. Most came from a supplier -Dixondale Farms – in southern Texas. They can supply “long day” onions. Our longest daylight is about 16 hours and the onions I get do better than one acclimated to shorter days (lower latitudes). Buying from Dixondale, I also know the length of time I can expect each time to keep in storage.
Walking through a local store I say bags of onions bulbs, both red and white. A bag of 60 was $2.49, so I bought one bag of reds. However, I know nothing about these and can only hope they are suitable for my latitude. Only about 45 of the 60 looked health. We’ll see.
Once all the starts were in the ground, rain began. I’ve had light rain on and off for 36 hours and this is expected to continue until next Thursday.
I guess that’s good.

The rain caused our pruning time to decrease. We are way-way behind.

Meanwhile a moist stream of air is headed to Washington State. When this hits the mountains, some places may get snow (lots) and then rain. If, as expected, 7 inches of rain falls on the existing snow, rivers will rise rapidly and flooding can be expected. This will become news on Monday. Stay tuned.
Sometimes you see or hear of a weather warning. The wording confuses many folks (me) so one never knows when to stock up on candles and beer. Here is an image that helps – if it is a “watch” you have time to prepare. Don’t forget the candles. If it is a “warning” the preparing stage is over, so eat before the lights go out.

It is time to add wood to the stove.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

March weather in April

Pruning continues even though the cool and windy hillside makes it uncomfortable. This week involves a travel glitch. Construction has just begun on a “traffic circle” just a few miles short of the vineyard. The claim is a 20 minute delay at the site, or going back roads with some gravel. That takes an extra 12 minutes.

Friday, I took the chest freezer (purchased at a farm auction in Idaho many years ago when it was already old) over to the Winery. Cameron is acquiring the things needed to disgorge the lees from bottles of sparkling wine. We are hoping the old freezer will chill the neck to 4 or 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The bottles will be up-side-down in food-grade glycol. [about 4 inches]

Wednesday I had a cleaning at the dentist. I have a small cavity on the back side of a front tooth. We scheduled the care for that for later this month. After that I stopped by CWU to make sure the Nancy-scholarships were on track. The geography students were to have their applications completed this past week.

I have 7 bunches of onion sets. Each has up to 70 plants; 50 is the minimum, but there are always more.
I took 15 of each over to Phyllis, so I only have about 400 to plant here.
I tilled the space on Saturday and got stakes and tools ready. Today, Sunday, I planted 3 types. Four more to get done – soon. Weather was cool and nasty, even with a few snow flakes. I hope I can get another variety planted on Monday – wishful thinking maybe. Both Tuesday and Wednesday are looking better.

I’ve got to plan a trip to CWU’s music building and drop of the violin that Nancy played. Monday morning seems a good time.

My tax refund arrived via electronic transfer to the Bank last week. It is not a large amount but I’m glad that went well.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan