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


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


Onion planting time

I order onions from south Texas and they arrive here before spring. I would prefer the plants arrive about April 1st but that doesn’t fit the schedule for Carrizo Springs, TX. Find the southern tip of Texas and follow the Mex-TX border for 225 miles to the northwest. On Monday morning the local airport there shows 79°F while the airport at Ellensburg shows 33°. It was 19° when I got up; the low for the day. This week is supposed to warm some.

I have been moving a pile of dirt – previously dug but not sifted. Have moved 10 cart-loads – rocks going onto a ramp, dirt onto the garden. Now I need to till that in with some fertilizer and stick the onion sets into rows.
They arrived Thursday.
Each bundle will have more than 50 plants, up to about 70. I’ll plant 350 and give the rest to Phyllis at the winery. I buy types that are supposed to keep well from harvest to March. For this year I have one exception.
Ailsa Craig {anglicisation of the Gaelic, Aillse Creag meaning “fairy rock”} is a white onion that can grow to several pounds. Some get to 8 pounds. These do not store for more than a month or two, but they make large onion rings.
Search Google Earth with the name “Ailsa Craig UK” to see the presumed source – the Fairy Rock. One other onion, the Kelsae Sweet Giant, will grow larger (15 pounds or more), but I don’t have access to that one.
Weather and schedules permitting, we have been pruning vines.

A bit of work is again underway on the house. Nothing worth a picture so far but soon. Materials are partly here. A new front door is here and some wood flooring – more arriving soon. Monday?

The wood stove is still the source of heat. Night time temperatures are still freezing or below and heat pumps are not highly efficient when the air is that cold. I expect to be using wood until Easter, this year, April 9th.

I’m late with this.
Outside air is now 36° and I can go work on the onion plot.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Mid-March – all is calm

It is claimed that Saint James is buried in the city Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the north west of Spain. People trek there from all over Europe and arrive from other parts of the world to participate. The two most common routes are shown in red on this map. Here is a link.

Thursday evening there were two talks in EBRG. At 6 pm a retired CWU professor was giving a travelogue – the second in 4 years. I went for the first hour and then left to hear about pollinators, mostly bumblebees, in Washington State.
The bee one was hosted by the local Audubon group using a feed-in from Olympia. No one in the group has the skill to make the connection into the computer and out to the projector and sound system of the room. While the meeting was to start at 7 pm, I arrived about 7:25 and it was still 5 minutes before things got going. The time from 7 to 7:15 doesn’t count because the announcements of group officials always take about that long.
Anyway, the information was interesting, the photos great, and I got to ask a couple of questions.
I have many bees during spring and summer and am especially found of one that comes to the Siberian Pea Shrubs that I have.
Caragana arborescens (fruticosa)

The many flowers are bright yellow and medium-sized bumblebees think they are special. I now have a place to get mine identified. I just have to send a good photo. Now waiting for blossom time. Image is from the internet.

Three of us pruned vines on Thursday and Friday. Both nice days. This coming week – Monday & Tuesday – have rain forecast. Travel cameras on the West side already show mist or light rain. At this rate, we won’t finish pruning until May.

I visited with Walter, the contractor Saturday. There may be some action here this coming week or next. If nothing else, I expect the rooms that need new floors to get measured. The main room will get a Hickory wood floor. The adjacent kitchen and a bathroom floor will be renewed. Maybe not Hickory but the ancient Congoleum will go.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Summary for this week

Here is a picture of Sue (mother) and Woody (daughter) that I used in January of 2020: http://rocknponderosa.com/?p=10197
Some of their story is on that page. Sue died this Wednesday, age unknown. Years ago, I captured them and had both neutered. After the garage conversion, I brought them inside (fall of 2020). Her coat had started to mat, causing me to think she wasn’t very well insulated. I had been able to pick her up for several years, but not Woody. Now Woody is able to be touched, but still not willing to become a friend. I’m working on that.

Washington does all elections by mail. I filled my ballot out on Sunday and dropped it in the box at the Court House on Monday.
Then I took a large tin of fancy cookies (from Costco) to the CPA’s office and thanked them (esp. Jessica) because the last of my tax refunds came a few days ago. After being behind 3 years, I am now current with the IRS.
I filled the truck with gas and visited five retail stores.
Tuesday was routine, but Wednesday I manage to run the gas out of the riding mower and only 100 feet from its winter resting place. I used the truck to pull it the rest of the way home. I’ll take the battery out and bring it into the pantry. I need to use the chainsaw a couple more times and then run it until the gas is gone.
I met a newish neighbor, living ¼ mile north of here. I met her horses first.
The context is that a local rancher moved cattle from the hills north of us to his pastures here on the Naneum Fan. A case of “transhumance” . . .

. . . a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. When the cattle, dogs, and riders came past the two mares, they decided to follow, but detoured at my driveway. I tried to cajole them to follow me without much luck, but the owner was walking the road. I called to her and the two of us, with a pail of grain, returned them home.
There has been snow over the western U. S. and while it has melted at the lower elevations, including here at 2,200 feet, the elevations above 4,000 feet still have snow. That can be seen here:

Thursday evening, I check my boxes of onions and found two that were spoiled. Out they went, but this makes we wonder what happens in commercial operations if one goes bad and touches another, and another? From what I read, a temperature between 40 and 50 degrees makes them last longer, but I can only store at about 68°F. Oh well, I can handle a few spoiled ones.

The post following this one has house remodel photos.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan

Sunday morning (here) the March equinox (8:33 am PDT) will occur about the time the temperature gets above freezing. Precisely speaking, there is more daylight than nighttime on the day of the equinox, an additional eight or so minutes of daylight at mid-temperate latitudes. Did you learn otherwise in school?

On the equinox, equal day and night?

We pruned vines on Thursday and Friday. Next day will be Tuesday. If I go in the morning there is a lot of traffic headed west from the Quincy area toward Wenatchee, the largest population in the area. That is just before 9 am. If we prune in the afternoon, I’m on that stretch of highway at 12:45 and the traffic is less. When heading back at 4 pm there is still less traffic. This is good because I have to make a turn across the center line. We all have learned when to go a certain way, and not another, depending on how difficult the turns are, or other aspects of traffic congestion. These things have evolved over 20 years as population and commercial activity have grown.
I think I also notice signs for more accidents on I-90. More guardrails are damaged, and other signs of accidents. This week there is a black/burned spot that is new.
That’s my scientific analysis!

Wednesday I took some scrap to Yakima to check out the place and what they do and do not want. This was a trial, so I only took a little of the metals we’ve removed from the remodel. They paid me $3.60, but I learned what I wanted to know.
The Wests (Suzy and Bob) and I went for a late breakfast, and then to Costco. I now have a sufficient stockpile of paper towels and “tp” to last me through the next panic.

When I got an iPhone last year, and talked to others, I decided to get a belt pouch (holster) for it. I found an appropriate item on Amazon, as shown in this image.
It came with 2 types of clips, neither worked well. It had a slot for a belt to go through. That worked well.
This week I noticed my belt had caused the fabric to wear. Only 3 threads were still holding the loop together.
I wrote a review on the Amazon site. It was not glowing.
Then I called the leather shop – 550 yards southwest of me. By road I have to go 2,300 yards – 1.3 miles. The main business is making saddles and chaps. The deceased father made a saddle for me 22 years ago. The son is not idle so my leather phone holster won’t be made until mid-April. Likely it will last longer than the phone or me.

Goings on, on
The Naneum Fan



That’s right.
Nothing of note happened this week.
The temperature hovered around 26°F.
No new snow; old snow is still here.
No sunshine. OK, a little.
Quail still like sunflower seeds.
No one came; no one left.

from the Naneum Fan

Thanksgiving Week

Sunday morning when the ground was hard and the snow crunchy, I loaded my last 7 bales of straw. I think these may have been acquired about 20 years ago. Kathy and Francisco took some the last time they were over. I wanted to get everything out so I can split and stack firewood in that shed. I built this (8’ x 12’) 3-sided shed for a young horse we got, called Teak, about 25 years ago. The horse had no liking for it, so over the years many different things have been stored there. I’ll use it this winter; next year I’ll take it down and re-purpose the materials. It is in the way of Sun’s rays, and I’m planning a sundial.

Monday I headed west with the load, stopped at a COSTCO in Covington, and headed on to Tacoma. I crossed the Puyallup River and entered a road construction equivalent of the Gordian Knot. I had conferred with Kathy, maps, and images so I would get through the tangled mess. Once there, I felt like Gordias driving into town on an ox-cart into a mess of several knots all so tightly entangled there was no clear way through. At the moment of decision I had about a third of a second to steer right – – I went left. It took me a half-hour to correct this and my second mistake.
I did see fields of un-harvested pumpkins (smaller ones). Here is a web photo from one of the farms I passed.

Their corn maze is here: 47.215748, -122.350302
Double R Farms – Tacoma, WA http://www.pumpkinpatchintacomawa.com/

This is 1.5 miles from where I wanted to be, but one can’t take the straight route because of water hazards, and I broke only 2 or 3 traffic laws to reduce the time to get to my destination.
We had a great Kathy prepared lunch, unloaded the straw, said hello to horse Jazz and other animals, and headed back to the Naneum Fan. One of the sons set up the map/driving ‘app’ and I had voice directions back to I-5. [I should soon have a Bluetooth connection in the truck; then the voice will come through the speakers – louder.]

Tuesday I went to “The Law House” and signed documents, went out to the vision center to pay a bill, and stopped at a place called Fast Lane Signs to talk to Rose and Pam. I’ll soon have a decorated truck, or more specifically a canopy. I’m thinking of 3 images of perforated vinyl (that is, see-through). Below shows the idea; but not this photo. The canopy has 2 22” x 24” side windows and the large back one.

Wednesday I mostly rested. I did take some limbs off the downed (firewood) trees, and marked most in 15 inch lengths. I’ll finish the marking Thursday morning and then go off for a meal at Suzy (Orcutt) West’s family homestead – 7 miles southeast. I got home about 4:30, just at near dark. Menu was turkey and ham and all the regular Thanksgiving things. About 30 people with food for 60.
My contribution came from COSTCO – – namely a 2.2 pound box of Baklava made in Dubai, UAI. Interestingly, photos on the web, some from earlier dates, show sprinkles of Pistachios over all the pieces in the box. I took the photo below because I did not find a web photo to match.
The round dark pieces look like little bird’s nests with several honey coated pistachios therein. On this box these are called Bilbo nest pistachio baklava.
I could not determine the origin of this name, although it might come from the town in Spain, Bilbao (Bilboa). There is way too much of “Bilbo Baggins” of The Hobbit fame on the web for me to figure this out.

Friday: Phyllis and Cameron came with food. We spent a couple of hours at the table, and an hour sorting things in the big shed. Most is destined for the landfill. Saturday was mist and cool. I went to EBRG, made three retail stops and filled the truck’s gas tank.
At home I loaded a small CWU dorm desk {1 of 4 I bought at surplus for $2 each}. I’ll take it to Dylan Fries (son #2) when I go next over there. Sunday for dinner, I think; but still must confirm with Phyllis.

That’s either the end of Thanksgiving week or the beginning of the end of November.

From the Naneum Fan

No title week

I’m having a computer problem with respect to about 20% of sites not responding to my connection requests.
This is happening with my email account, the local road reports, my mutual fund company, and many more. The weather report comes up, as does the National Hurricane site, but the wildfire site out of Boise does not.
I don’t see a pattern. I’ve tried a couple of fixes suggested by others on the internet. Those have not worked, but I haven’t done more harm- yet!

Some work got done on the house this week, and I continued with rocks and dirt projects. Dirt and organic matter now fill the area in front of the entrance sign. I have daffodil bulbs and will bury them per the directions.

Foot care was on Tuesday. Eye exam on Wednesday. Workers loaded a large Sideboard Cabinet, or dining room storage piece of furniture — not sure what to call it. I took that when I went to bottle wine on Thursday. We did about 500 gallons (4 hours) of Roussanne, a “white” grape the produces a pale golden wine.
Friday I had the workers — Jessee and Wille — re-do the window and animal door. I did not like the bottom edge low down, that is, at deck level. They were able to raise it 5 1/2 inches. The narrow window above it reaches to the top of the wall, so it can’t go higher unless a shorter window is used. Not going to do that. This was all extra effort just to please me. Now caulking and paint have to be redone — next week.

I’ve got a couple of chores to do outside, so that’s it for today.

From the Naneum Fan