Check your spare

I realized this morning – Monday – that I wasted away the weekend and didn’t post exciting news. – Because there wasn’t any.

I did read a story of a family from southern California that drove north to visit college towns with a young son. They had a Tesla that they bought without a spare tire. Apparently the tires are large and expensive and take up space where one would normally place groceries, golf clubs, or other important stuff.
Something happened and a tire was damaged. Their problems began.
Local tire dealers did not have a Tesla size tire. Via phone, one was found and delivery was arranged. The driver went to the wrong town – hours in the wrong direction.
Eventually, the car was again operational, but they barely made it home by Monday morning.

Moral: Check your spare.
On my pickup, the spare is under the bed and has to be lowered with an affair like the handle of some jacks used to raise a car. This is done through a hole near the rear license plate.
I went to the local Les Schwab tire center and being a loyal customer they checked all five tires. The spare was about 7 psi low. Now fixed. At home I watched a video showing how to lower the spare if it is needed. I hope I won’t ever have that opportunity.
So, a suggestion: Have a look at your spare and make sure there is proper air pressure therein.

My sister lives in the Cleveland Metro region. They did have a bit of excitement when a pair of police horses got out and took a stroll on I-90. There are videos from the TV stations. I snagged the image below from one of those.
Animals seem to know where home is. These two got back safely, but not before causing a commotion of the interstate.

Yesterday I got an inch of snow and this morning it was 19°F. It has been on-and-off windy. The saying about March coming in like a Lion fits.
Friends in South Lake Tahoe are dealing with several feet of snow. Parts of that area lost power. Not them.

Maybe I will have a more exciting week. I expect to be pruning grape vines.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Noise in the night

The first week of the year has been uneventful.
On Dec. 31st, for about two hours, the neighbors set off loud bangs, both fireworks (I can’t see) and firearms seemed to be involved. Most of the noise was between 10 o’clock and mid-night.

A more annoying hour later in the week involved my neighborhood Great Horned Owls. Normally the sounds the Owls make are not problematic. The bigger trees are more than 100 feet from the house and the calls are low pitched and muted by the distance. Sometimes I can hear three calling.
Listen to such calls here, under the photo:

About halfway through there are the screech and squawk calls. Whether I had a visit from a young one telling the parents it was meal-time, or an older one, I didn’t try to find out. I did open a window and yell, but that didn’t cause flight. The noisy critter sat, not far from the bedroom window, for about 30 minutes. I would have had to dress and go out with flashlight, track the source, and chase the bird to a new location.
Interestingly, I did not hear any of the low hoots during the time.

By the end of this week the temperature is expected to go to 8°F. There is -35°F degree air 900 miles north around Great Slave Lake. Over the next 4 days the pattern is for the winds to slowly shift and come from that direction. We’ll see. The air has to come over the Rocky Mountains, then down into the wide Columbia River area of central Washington (600 feet elevation) and up to me at 2,240 feet.
Meanwhile, a storm off the Pacific Ocean is expected to bring a couple feet of snow to the Cascade pass just 70 miles west of me. Wind gusts might be near 50 mph.
I’m near where these two air masses will collide. Forecasters have a hard time making sense of this sort of situation.
I’m planning to be house-bound after Thursday, from cold – not snow.

I will practice making bread again.
[If you haven’t seen the obituary for the Pillsbury Dough Boy, search it up. Some are labeled “in Loving Memory”, others “Sad News”.] There are many images, but if you want the story, here is the link:

The obituary pre-dates {2012 I guess} the death of the creator.

I need to put wood in the stove.

Keeping Track in 2024
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



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


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

Circumnavigating Mt. Rainier

Monday night the upper low off the Washington coast will move into the region and track northeast. The atmosphere will become quite unstable by Monday evening and through the night. This instability with much available moisture will lead to thunderstorms that may become strong with gusty winds and small hail, after 4 PM.

This will be a 39 degree drop from an expected high of 93 to a low of 54. If the T-storms happen the passage will be even more interesting.

House-work continues. About 99% of the new floor is down.

Unlike many floors, the boards are random lengths and have many variations of natural colors and striping.
The boards are ¾ inch thick natural Hickory – we hunted Gray Squirrels in forests having many such trees. The American Chestnut trees had been killed by a fungus (blight) introduced about 1904, but many were still standing when I was young. Cavities in the Chestnuts made nesting sites for the many Gray and a few black squirrels. The squirrels helped us harvest nuts, so we never went home empty-handed.

I suppose this history is why I have a liking for Hickory. It also makes good tool handles.

I went to western Washington to friend’s house warming party. The west-bound trip from my Rock & Ponderosa (right side in the image) was via I-90. At Exit 25 (25 miles east of Seattle) I headed southwest on Hwy #18. An images search with “WA hwy #18 traffic” is instructive. After this mess, at Auburn I went south on #167 to Sumer, then Puyallup and #512. Next came #161 and Meridian Street. This shows as the thin white line south of the white dot at Puyallup. A closer map view will reveal it as South Hell Hill.
Meridian Street is block after block of stop lights, vehicles, and business buildings and signs – some questionable. After 10 miles of go and stop, traffic thinned. Four miles later the landscape turned rural. I had only 2 miles more to go.

To be honest, the Meridian Street drivers did well. Crowding at intersections (all stop lighted) were sufferable and the drivers well-behaved. My truck has an auto-shutoff when the brake is held on while stopped. But with the air conditioning on, the motor turns back on in a few seconds. This is supposed to save fuel. It is an irritant.
For the home bound trip I took a southern route and completed a circumnavigation of Mt. Rainier. I used a lesser road (not visible on the image) that is closer to the Mountain and ends at Hwy #12 at Packwood, almost directly south of the Peak. #12 leads up to White Pass [4,475 ft] and then down hill 53 miles to Yakima. I got home at dark – 3 ¼ hours driving time. It would have been 3 hrs except for slow drivers on the 40 miles of roads through the forest west and south of the Mountain. The 27 miles [NF #52) from near the entrance of the Park (near Ashford) had a driver that should have pulled over. Three of us followed – slowly – for over 20 miles.

Keeping Track


Smoke in the air

After 10 days of work on the house, there are noticeable improvements. I was waiting for today, Saturday, to take a couple of photos but fires in Canada and near Spokane have generated smoke that covers much of the State and makes an overcast. I’ll wait now until the floor is finished. We are almost there.
The smoke, and maybe the fires, will get impacted by the remnants of Hurricane Hillary, now off the coast of Mexico, near San Carlos. This is about 1,500 miles south of Washington State. By Wednesday the effects will be clear. This might also get into Canada.

We had a “Friends of White Heron” get-together on Wednesday. In the past we had an outside Raclette – the real historic deal. The weather this past January was so miserable we postponed until now.
Cameron bought an indoor electric cheese heater, and the usual cheese. It has Swiss origins, although you’ll also find it the region of France that shares a border with Switzerland. It gets its name from the French racler which means “to scrape.”
With this one, the heating element is in the top and the tray is moved up to a horizontal position. When the layer at the top melts, a person with a plate with potatoes and/or bread gets a scraping of hot cheese for a topping. Such was a traditional lunch for vine pruners.

Allen stopped and picked up onions and Shiro Plums.
I continue to move dirt and rocks about – landscaping.

Keeping track
on the Naneum Fan

Summer in full glory

A not very exciting week.

I thought telling a person this might get me into trouble, but no – he took it as a complement.
Wisdom has been chasing you, but you have always been faster.

This week, I mostly spent time at the vineyard. There are many feet of burned and unburned but useless plastic tubing that needs to be pulled out. It is headed to the local landfill along with burned posts.
The new drip tubing was rolled out the two days after the fire. While removing the old, we hung the new up on the wires. We haven’t started with new (iron) posts.

Had lunch with Bob West Thursday. He brought Suzy up to lunch with friends from CWU days.
He and I went to the Red Horse Diner out near Exit 106.

Cameron and Phyllis are in Seattle, to return late Tuesday. The rest of the week is supposed to be hot. I may not go over until the following Wednesday. I’ve an appointment with the truck in EBRG on the 8th.

Outside work here is limited to before Noon and after 6pm. I was able to dig onions from the dirt. There is still some preparation to be done prior to storage.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan
John H.

Visit to the charred vines

A photo of the vineyard shows several aspects of the damage caused by the Baird Springs Fire. In this part many posts were burned at the base, and held up by the wires. In some cases all the post was consumed. Some had half to 85% burned, being left to hang on the wires.
I was there Monday, a week after, and there were blades of new grass about 3 inches tall. Right after the fire folks helped lay new irrigation lines and water was turned back on. I wasn’t involved. Another couple came and walked each row and counted the burned posts that will have to be replaced.
So on Monday, Cameron and I began detaching wires and removing the posts. These will be carted out later and destroyed or piled someplace to continue their inevitable demise. The were originally treated – much of that seems to be gone – so can’t be used as firewood.
The morning was sunny, but cool. Wind was strong. After 4 hours we quit, went to the house, and started on a bottle of wine. Phyllis came back from town with deep fried chicken. A bit later, three other folks came by to visit. I got home about 4 pm.

The big unknown is the degree of damage for the vines. There are many buds in the trunks and canes, so in a few weeks some of these should show. Regardless, work will continue on rebuilding the trellises.
The rest of the week has been too hot for me to bother going over.

I did go have supper with the couple, Angela and Garret, with the Pétanque court, called a boulodrome. Just he and I played. A lot of that involved him instructing me on the game, with a few glasses of wine. I was also quizzing him about the surface (terrain) needed for good play. It requires a mixture of gravel and clay. I haven’t found anything on the web about this.
I plan on developing the area just south of the house as a boulodrome, and the gravel surface will add to the non-burnable space around the house. Two birds with one stone idea.

Temperatures have been to hot for me outside, except for about two hours each day. So not much accomplished.
At 7:30 Saturday it is 84 degrees outside and 82 inside. The high today was 93°F. With a bit of luck, that’s the last of the 90s. The first two days of August may get into the low 90s.

Washington State news of the week involves the Taylor Swift concert happening as I type. She calls this one the Eras Tour and with tickets, gear, parking, and travel it is costing folks a month’s rent.
She is smart, rich, and from Pennsylvania.
We share the last.

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.