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).

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.


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.


Service Berry


White Lupine
Not: USCGC White Lupine, but its namesake
White Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)

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

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


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,
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

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

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

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

April 2nd March Madness

. . . ends in April

Work continues on the reconfiguration of the Big Brown Shed, as does pruning the wine grape vines over at White Heron. Thursday morning, we noticed “weeping” – – the first sign the vine is coming back to life.
The photo here (from the Web) is of an older cane – brown, rather than a cane from the last growth season – green interior. Not all cuts have produced weeping, but a few more warm afternoons should see that happen. We will also see buds start to enlarge and leaves start to emerge.
This early growth is pretty, and delicate – the pruning near them has to be done with care or they can snap off.

The wine from the 2021 harvest is still in large food-grade polyethylene tanks.
Some of the 2020 harvest has been bottled; most not yet.

Crazy medical stuff.
Last week I needed prescriptions filled.
The co-pays were:
$ 0.00;
$ 0.12;
$ 0.82;
$ 2.75

All the paper, little plastic bottles, and inserted drying agents likely cost as much as the co-pays. There is something odd about this but I can’t figure out exactly what.

Nancy and I each got an envelope of paper from the Medicare folks. These usually make no sense and these were true to form.
Near the top there is: THIS IS NOT A BILL

Then there is: Total you may be billed – – $17.79
This statement if for a visit to the University of Washington on March 11, 2019. Repeat: March 11, 2019.
By way of explanation, there is this:

Footnote E is “After your deductible and coinsurance were applied, the amount Medicare paid was reduced due to Federal, State, and local rules.”

In the end, there is no way to know exactly what was happening with this over the past 3 plus years.
However, they do include the statement: “You have now met your deductible for 2019.” There are 2 pages of stuff I don’t need, such as the a “rights’” statement in 12 different languages.

My statement looks like this:

This has the same sort of non-helpful information. It is for an annual “wellness visit” and a subsequent visit following a blood analysis. It mentions a personalized prevention plan of service (pps). If you can’t draw a clock or remember 3 words for 10 minutes, maybe something happens. I haven’t found out – yet!
I find it interesting that the Clinic (the facility) charged $258.00 while Medicare paid $303.78.
I guess someone in the Federal system thinks the service is worth more than do the folks that actually provided it.

The statement is called a Medicare Summary Notice (MSN).
I can switch from a paper MSN every 3 months to an electronic statement (eMSN) and have such information every month. That would be 4 times the garbage every year, and easier to ignore. Thrilling.

The wind blew in the Kittitas Valley this week, so while I was away pruning grape vines, and the building crew couldn’t go climb on someone’s roof — they came and worked on the Big Brown Shed.

In another work session, I’ll have to change the name.

From the Naneum Fan


News you can use, maybe

I’ve been pruning grape vines at White Heron / Mariposa Vineyard. So there are just two interesting related things, but not closely.

First, “mariposa” means butterfly in Spanish, but then the botanists named some flowering plants – Mariposa Lilies. They are mentioned on Wikipedia under the name Calochortus. Here on the Naneum Fan they bloom about July 4th. At the Mariposa Vineyard they bloom a month earlier.
As for butterflies, over the past few years there have been reports of the demise of the Monarchs. This seems to have been mistaken. They are migrating in North America in numbers not seen in recent memory.
Here is the story: {replace the XXX with a period or dot}


The second item of interest this week was discovering the way fuel from a can has to be added to the Ford 150. Getting to and home again to the vineyard is a trip of 125 miles.
I keep a 5 gallon can of gas at home – it is ethanol free. I use this for the power tools, such as chainsaw and mower. About this time each year I use the over-wintered gas in an auto, and then refresh it on the next trip to town.
The 2019 F150 has a no-cap filler. The no-cap system has a stiff flap that needs to be pushed aside and past. At a station there is no problem because the nozzle is long and steel.
The average plastic funnel, such as I have, will not work with this system.
You need something strong, stiff, and straight. Ford, fortunately, provides such a thing. I had to search the web for the solution after having gas gush out and over the side of the truck.
This white funnel is tucked behind the passenger seat with other gadgets in a cloth package.
I prefer to not have the truck cabin smell like gasoline, so what is one to do with this white funnel after using it. Well, I was home, so I washed it in hot soapy water and left it outside overnight before restoring it in its cloth hide-a-way.
Next – – put a box with soap and water in the truck, just in case I ever have a need for gas in an unhappy circumstance. Maybe we should be warned about this system. Check yours.

Goings on, on
The Naneum Fan


Spring is coming . . .

This is the time of the year when the warming Sun moves northward at its fastest rate. Today (3/13), the vertical rays (subsolar point) are about 200 miles south of the Equator, and will cross that position on Sunday, March 20, 2022 at 8:33 am “my time” — your time will be different. Spring will have sprung.

A story this week was about Rod Stewart – the famous singer – filling potholes near his home because an ambulance had a burst tire and other drivers were bashing their cars up, and his Ferrari didn’t like the holes either.
{replace the XXX with www; then paste into your search box}


So the question was asked by someone (Who?): How come there is enough asphalt for speed bumps, but not enough to fill potholes?
On I-90 east of Ellensburg there is a hole in the concrete – yes I hit it this week – and nearby are precast concrete barriers (aka Jersey Barriers).
Smallish ones of these weigh 750 pounds, ship 60 to the truck load, and cost $315.95 each.
Does anyone have Rod’s phone number?

I was on I-90 because this is vine pruning season. A direct flight to the vineyard is just 24 miles. Highway distance is 65, half of that on I-90. I skipped a few of the early days because of the cold. Others did prune. Also, we moved to afternoon (1 to 4) work, rather than the usual 9 to Noon. The next scheduled day is Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day, and the temperature my be high enough to go back to mornings.
Here is a link to a video showing the basics of vine pruning:
{replace the XXX with www; then paste into your search box}


These are wine grapes and the pruning is designed to restrict the quantity and encourage the quality of the grapes.

The one-way drive for me takes 1.25 hours and about 3 gallons of gasoline. I last pruned in 2020 when the price as $2/gal. And now it is $4.40. Ouch. I’m now getting about 20 mpg with the F150 truck. The Subaru got 30. Ouch, again.

The building crew put all but two sheets of the blue metal roof on. The mist didn’t bother them, but when the temperature dropped to near freezing and they risked slipping on the metal, they stopped. There is trim to do, and then the siding – false sandstone on the lower part and fiber/cement siding on the rest of it. Meanwhile, I continue to clean up some of the debris and remove nails from the lumber that supported the old roof.
I’m contemplating a functioning and decorative sundial for the shed. The building does not have a fully South-facing wall so the design has to accommodate the imperfect angle to the sun.
Here the blue rectangle represents the building, with the Sun directly to the South. Actually, the orientation means the wall and sundial in early morning hours will be shaded, but better exposed in the late afternoon and early evenings. I have a different idea for the morning hours. More on this in a few weeks.

Goings on, on
The Naneum Fan


Friends and I had a busy week

Last weekend I was talking with Gina who lives on the west side of Houston. She is a school teacher and has an avocation you can find by searching: Gina’s Heart of Gold Reptile and Exotic Rescue
I think this began many years ago when she introduced live animals into the classroom.
While we talked, she was going from room-to-room looking for a wandering snake.
As the photo shows, she found it in the toilet bowl.
All’s well that ends well.

Kathy sent photos of a rehabilitated saddle she carried away from here last year. I had neglected it. Nancy and I bought it used in Idaho, but it was made in Portland in the early 1900s. I feel guilty about how it looked and now I can let that feeling pass – thanks to Kathy. Her dog thinks it is a house. Ain’t that cool!

The Big Brown Shed got de-roofed, and partially re-roofed. The weather forecast for Friday included winds of about 20 mph. The guys decided not to be up handling sheets of metal that are 39 feet long.
The 4-part image below shows the progress.

Thursday morning I went to the vineyard, arriving at 9:00, pruned until Noon, and had lunch there with Phyllis and Cameron. Friday we pruned from 1:00 until 4:30. Cameron had winery visitors about 3:30 and Mark left at 4:00. Eric, Tom, and John finished all the rows that were started – the last of the Roussanne. Syrah vines are next. The weather was nice, but January and February were cold. So far, there are no signs of growth, such as weeping of the cuts.
I used Saturday to drag the heavy trusses, that supported the old roof, to an out of the way location. I had worked some to take them apart and realized that was taking too long for a low priority project. It will be a morning project for summer.
I split a few wood rounds and used the chainsaw to cut three small old trees into burnable size.
The grocery store had a meat sale on Thursday. I bought a large beef roast and (Saturday AM) cut it into 4 pieces. I froze three, and cut the other into chunks and used the crock pot to make veggy-beef stew. It will cool during the night and I’ll have a put-it-away project in the morning.

From the Naneum Fan