Still heating with wood

Cold snuck into Washington State in early March and continues. A University Professor (u. of WA) says it is the coldest early March since 1989. That March, Nancy was in EBRG and I was still in Troy. A few months later we began moving into the current house.
It looks like this coming Wednesday will be the tip-day into spring. Nighttime temps are still in the low 30s, but days are near 50 and soon to be in the 60s.
The wood stove, a Blaze King Chinook 30, is doing 97% of the heating. The hall thermostat is set on 69°. If I sleep late or am away, the heat pump comes on and the fan pushes air around and it takes only a few minutes to move warm air from the area of the stove. The compressor does add a little heat (not much) and the electric resistance heaters do not turn on.

The Blaze King stoves are manufactured in Walla Walla, about 125 miles SE of me. The photo is a promotional one from the web.
When gone for many hours, I turn the thermostat down to 65°. When I get home, I add fuel to the stove and set the fan to “circulate.” It then runs for 5 minutes, shuts off, and comes back in about 10 minutes. Running the fan also pushes air through filters. Smoke I manage to introduce while fueling the stove is soon gone.
A complication occurs when the outside temperature warms into the 60s. The stove is best run at a high temperature with the hot air and gasses going through a catalytic burner. What goes up the flu is quite clean – so says the EPA that tests these things. Operating the stove I have at such a temperature makes the house too warm. Then it is time to let it burn out, clean it up, and let the heat pump warm the house. In July and August, the system reverses and cools the air.

We have been pruning vines from 1:00 to 4:00, trying to hit a sweet spot of temperature and low wind. Some days are better than others. In a week I suspect we will switch to mornings.

When I create one of these posts, the default setting is to allow comments. I have to remember to change that. Last week I forgot. Near the end of the week I got a notice from Word Press that I should moderate the comments.
There were about 30. Half of those were in Russian or some other script. The other half were nonsense stuff by people suggesting I buy something, look at their web site, or order a wife from the Philippines. A few years ago I missed re-setting the comments box on a dozen posts. It took 2 or 3 hours to clear up the mess.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Seeing spring ?

Pruning of grapevines just started. I’ve only managed two days of 3 hours. We have completed the rows (unseen) to the left of the cat’s head and neck. The others have done 4 or 5 days, but I’ve been doing other things.
The medical checkup showed no changes since last year. Next month is a visit to the optometrist.

I’ve trimmed the lower branches of more pine trees but still have lots of clean-up to do. Half of the stuff will go to compost and the larger pieces will go to the firewood pile. Pine needles and the small branches take several years to decompose so that gets piled out of the way. The branches need about 18 months to dry to about 11% moisture.

I made several dozen cookies (chocolate chip & pecans) so I would have a snack on the drive home. Also, I have made and frozen pork ribs in serving-size packages and a couple of other meals. Altogether I think a have three weeks of evening meals without having to get serious about cooking. Microwave ovens and freezers are two of the greatest inventions since the pith of the papyrus sedge was used to make a flat surface to write on. That was about 5,000 years ago.

Weather folks claim the mountains just to my west are going to get two or three feet of snow this coming week. Me? Four to six inches. We’ll see.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Mountain snow / chance here

Warming up by this coming Wednesday, when I expect to start pruning vines at White Heron.

TIAS – there is always something

#1: For 8:00 am, the Ford dealer’s repair shop scheduled my truck for a partreplacement. Last week their computer system showed the part was on the shelf. It wasn’t. I was less peeved only because I had two other errands in EBRG. Truck and me are rescheduled for 9:00 on Friday. I don’t want to have to be in there again at 8.

#1-a: The truck was attended to on Friday (9am to 1 pm) and only cost me $835.83 , including $71.28 tax. WA does not have an income tax so I guess I shouldn’t complain. The problem started when the connection to the Third Brake Light (on the canopy) connection corroded and also damaged the factory installed brake & trailer hitch module. That part’s cost was a little more than half of the total, $442.22. They did not attempt to reconnect the 3rd brake light and suggested not to do so.

#2: I ordered a used book from ThriftBooks (via Walmart website). The shipping info started in Dallas on Feb. 7th. The book is well traveled.
Dallas, TX
Grand Prairie, TX
North Las Vegas, NV
Portland, OR
Seattle, WA
Spokane, WA – delivery is expected Thursday

On Wednesday, I was asked to rate the purchase by Walmart before the book arrived.

Thursday – “Medicare Wellness”** visit at the Cle Elum clinic
Tues – next – “Chronic Conditions Visit”

The government claims this is a “free” visit – Medicare takes $174.70 per month from my Social Security. How is that free?

It would make sense to call these “Annual health check-up” I & II.

We have a two part medical deal.
Today it is called “Medicare Wellness” and not much is accomplished. There is a questionnaire, vital signs, and a blood draw. Draw a clock face and remember 3 words for 5 minutes. I remembered 2 from this trial and 1 from last year. Oops!
Next Tuesday the visit is called the “Chronic Conditions Visit” where the same vital signs are again taken and then the “doctor” goes over the blood test results. “Chronic” got attached to this because thyroid, blood pressure, and cholesterol are things we always have with us.
Chelse (PA-C, my doctor) and I also completed a new POLST form. You can look it up.
Use the search phrase: polst programs in your state

I guess if one had medical issues of a serious and continuing nature there would be more to this visit. For me, we’ll discuss blood pressure, cholesterol, and thyroid – – I have a pill for each.
My preferred method would be to go have the blood drawn and skip the “wellness” part – – I think that is for the Medicare agency to collect information on smoking, drinking, and a few other items so they can have data on the overall health of USA old folks.

So, I really won’t learn much until next Tuesday. My appointment is at 9:00 There is a slight chance of rain or snow, likely rain when I leave at 8 am.

That is all the stuff going on here.
Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Cool and Calm

The rest of the world is anything but cool and calm, but here on the Naneum Fan nothing happened this week. The deer wander around occasionally finding something to eat. A few years ago with deep snow and cold they would eat the buds and green needles from limbs I cut from pine. This year they have mostly ignored such things. I plan today to cut a young Black Cottonwood to see what they think of the tips and buds. (I trim some in the cold weather thinking there are fewer diseases floating around to land on the scars. And, the activity is vigorous enough that I don’t get cold. High today was 45°)
The forecast for the mountains claims snow, noonish and not much is happening. Matsaaruti (sort of a wet mist; a term from Siberia – I think) reported at Stevens Pass and graupel (snow pellets) at other places above 4,000 feet. After dark, all the passes are messy with rain, snow, and slush. Accidents expected.

I mentioned on January 28th that my retirement funds advisor at Vanguard
had been replaced. I had a discussion with the new person on Wednesday. Her name is Kelsey Ertmer – rare last name in the U.S. of A.
The past couple of years I have taken the Required Minimum Distribution (called the RMD) in January and used it to fund scholarships at CWU. Part goes for this year – called “current use” and a larger part to the endowment fund in Nancy’s and my name. I am also going to send a small amount to the Cascade Carnivore Project – If that doesn’t ring a bell, see “A Red Fox named MICA”:

A Red Fox named MICA

Monthly, I also will be taking a small amount for expenses because over the past 14 years (since Nancy retired from the University) prices of have gone up a bit over 40%. Below is a dollar in 2010 and on the right in 2024.

When we came to EBRG in 1988 a loaf of English Muffin Bread sold for 98¢. Today the same bread is $3.50. Ouch.
The price of seeds for wild birds has also exploded. Luckily, the birds are still the same size as they were 30 years ago.

The Superbowl game ended just now with the Kansas City Chiefs winning in overtime. I hope your team won. I don’t care.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

John H

January Thaw & the house

What I sent sister Peggy for her birthday: Had I really sent such things I would be much poorer. In the lower center is a blooming shamrock. {We have an Irish Grandmother.}
Having no idea how to obtain a shamrock, I just called her and wished her well.

In her honor, I went and got a haircut, so I am no longer an Albert Einstein/Bernie Sanders look-a-like.The site, Bored Panda, linked to here has interesting snow photos:

The ice and snow one has redundancies. I found this one more interesting:

Work on the house: {including stupid people at work}
Water (snow melt) has been dripping from the roof onto the covered patio at the back sliding door. Today is the third time we have tried to figure out what is happening. Will 3 be the charm? It has been a frustrating thing because why it drips isn’t apparent. Until the roof was put over the patio there wasn’t any notion of a problem. Something might have been going on prior to the new cover. With the new covering, there should not be dripping.

A hypothesis today is that water is running along a metal flange at the roof’s edge after flowing down a “valley” – – photo:
At noon, the roof is torn apart, problems found and so, Fix#3 is underway.

New (LED) ceiling lights are being installed in the kitchen. Adjustable colors are built-in to the lights and the wall switch can be a dimmable type. There are two types of adjustable color temperature LEDs: those that shift to the lower temperatures when you dim, referred to as “warm glow” or “warm dim,” and those that are adjustable at any intensity, which are referred to as “selectable color temperature.” Bedroom lights, also LED, will be dimmable at the wall switch; or just on/off. [Well, that didn’t happen.]

The kitchen lights will be above translucent panels (with a pattern the supplier calls Mosaic Highway ). The color temperature switch has 3 settings so one will have to be chosen with the idea that it will be semi-permanent. I’ll have to leave a note for any new resident as to how it can be changed.
The options are 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 K {temperature}. For now the wall-switch is standard on/off. The lights are “warm glow” capable and give a golden appearance to the entire 4’x8′ opening.

Under the heading “There is always something” …
With a new light in a bedroom and a dimmer switch installed and all working fabulously . . . a few minutes later nothing in the room worked.. . . and the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) just outside on the wall failed. An attempted reset “clicked” but that didn’t help. Flipping circuit breakers in the house panel didn’t help. But, we did know enough to stop.
Next day we requested a visit by Todd, local master electrician, who solved all the problems in the time it took him to shake his head three times and look at us in a disdainful manner.
We also determined the newly installed light was not of the dimmable type and/or the dimmer switch was incompatible. Another light – claiming to be dimmable – did not work either. For that one, the directions give a web site to learn what switches will work, so, more to do.
At this point, all the lights in the house are energy efficient light-emitting diodes {LEDs}. A small shed – where lights are rarely needed – still has screw-in fixtures (E27 type) patented in 1881 by Thomas Edison. I have bulbs.

If a parent tells you their child is an angel, remind them that so was Lucifer.

Here the “January Thaw” is not very strong, but still appreciated.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Fog and Mist

File under:

There is always something

The truck, a Ford 150, has a fault that relates to the non-existing trailer. It beeps and displays a message such as shown above. It goes through a series of four messages. The trailer is either connected, disconnected, or the left or right blinker is not working.
The message appears in the space where mileage, mpg, and auto-speed normally resides. Hitting the OK button on the left side of the steering wheel gets a momentary replacement to the desired information, then seconds later a fault message appears again – with a beep.

This is the vehicle that had a electrical failure in the dealer’s parking lot in late September. My post of Oct. 1 has that story.

Cat in a box ~ truck in a quandary

I have an appointment on Feb. 6th to have the electrical stuff examined. In a few weeks I will start the trips to the vineyard for pruning. I’d like to have the issues resolved before that starts. One way is 65 miles.

Meanwhile, I need one more document before getting the 2023 taxes underway. Supposedly, it should be sent to me before Feb 1st. Further, I have a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from a mutual fund retirement account. My contact at Vanguard vanished – no information given to me – and a new person has been assigned. He and I got along well and I hope for a good relationship with the newly assigned one. All I know so far, until Feb. 7th, is that she is better looking than he was. Well, also, she has been doing financial stuff for 5 or more years.
I use the RMD $$ to fund scholarships. That way I don’t have to take it as taxable income and push me into a higher tax bracket.

Weather has been fog, mist, and warm enough that the snow has sagged. Now it is only about 6 inches deep. With no sunshine and air temperature not much above freezing, a thick blanket of snow just sits there. Not much change expected this coming week.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Winter holds

Winter isn’t done with Washington or North America. There is very cold air in northern Canada but it is moving eastward across Hudson Bay. Here on the Naneum Fan the highs are in the upper 30s and the lows just below freezing. It snows on and off, just enough to compensate for the sagging, so the amount on the ground stays about 10 inches. This past week brought about 5 inches that was cleaned off Friday – shown below.

Deep snow, say two feet, is difficult for the tractor and blade-behind configuration. Then a front-end loader has to be used, and Allen’s is not enclosed as is the Ford tractor. While most folks on the Naneum Fan can go through 8 to 10 inches, visitors and delivery trucks cannot.

I’ve kept the quail, doves, and song birds well supplied with seeds. The wood stove keeps consuming wood.
It has been a slow week.

There have been a large number of interesting images on the web. Here are three.

In my case, it is the right hip and it just turned 80.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Snow and Cold

A small snowfall Monday into Tuesday had me cleaning up enough of a space so a Culligan Water technician could park in a clear spot. With that done I drove the truck out the driveway and, after several, trips I felt the tech, Casey, would not have an issue {no 4 X 4 he}. Before he arrived, Allen came in his farm tractor and “bladed” all around. I hadn’t expected him because there wasn’t but about 4 inches of show, and he knows that isn’t enough to shut me in.
He said he was practicing for the “big one.”
Expecting cold Thursday evening, I went to EBRG for a prescription and seeds for the birds. Near town there was some mist and some sun, just above freezing. I picked up a wood pallet from Petsense, a store where I buy cat food. I’m keeping new pallets in a shed and cutting up the old ones. That one is still in the truck, but I did unload the rest of the stuff.

Cold air and snow came late in the evening and by Friday morning close to a foot had accumulated and the temperature was near Zero F. Ouch.
Allen showed up about 11 AM and, so, the driveway, and more, is clear of snow.
I cleaned the bird feeders of snow and loaded Blackoil Sunflower and smaller seeds. Often the small birds, Chickadees and such, will be hidden in the pine trees and stay away until I’m 50 feet away.Today with all the snow and a temperature of 3°F, they were in my face as I brushed snow away and starting pouring seeds out. Quail are much more furtive and usually show up just before Mr. Sun disappears beyond the Cascades. They come in early morning too, so on these very cold days I will add feed when I go for the mail – their breakfast will be easier.
The National Weather Service (NWS) claims increasing temperature by this coming Wednesday – all the way up to 24 degrees.
Photos below are from a bedroom window. The trees on the left are Western Larch (Larix occidentalis), a deciduous conifer, that turn golden in the fall and drop their needles. The small cones hang on the trees, commonly for many years.

The Arctic air continues to push south. Stay warm and safe.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan
John H

Starting over – 2024

The last weekend post of 2023!
New Year’s Resolutions

Eat more bacon;
Bake bread;
Win a lottery.

More resolutions below.
First, thanks for the cards, greetings, and messages. I will use this as a response because I do the posting each week and am too lazy to add cards to my schedule – such as it is. Here on the Naneum Fan I am getting dreary weather – El Niño induced. So far the coldest temperature was 18°F in October, but mostly it has been a little below and a little above freezing. The most snow was about 5 inches, all gone; now there is about an inch that fell late on Christmas Day. Usually, Washington State doesn’t experience extreme weather during an El Niño pattern.
I went to the White Heron Winery for Christmas lunch – actually the home of Phyllis and Cameron. There were five of us. I was home before the snow started. New Years Eve I will stay home and listen to neighbors make loud noises with guns and fireworks. Me? I’ll watch flames in the wood stove.

The next 4-part image does show some of my intended projects as 2024 unfolds.
In addition, there will be vine pruning starting in a few weeks.
Top right of the image shows a couple of old pallets. I got pallets at a CWU surplus sale – about 65 of them – many years ago. People gave us some and we gave some away using a “free” site that Nancy watched for many years. Some were never in good shape and some developed broken and rotted parts as I used, or didn’t use them.
So, one project is to store good ones and cut the others up. There are a lot of screw-type nails that do not come out. The slats are mostly good – make fine pieces for the wood stove.

The lower right shows some of the pallet wood and part of a load of old barn/shed wood I brought from across the road – an old dairy with most of its structures build in the 1950s. The clean-up produces some (maybe) useful boards and the family is getting those stacked under cover. I bring the rest home and have been cutting it into 16″ pieces. Most I can cut on a radial-arm saw.
On the bottom left the image shows an attempt to dismantle the large trusses that came from the big brown shed. The main pieces are held together with multiple nails that were bent over. Those are the dark spots. Although there are other shapes, all the splices are multi-nailed and not salvageable. Most of the wood will be be used in the stove. A few boards of odd lengths will be worth saving. One never knows. Anyway, this is a time consuming and frustrating chore with little gain. The trusses do need to be dealt with.
The upper left photo is of an old (mid-1970s) motor home. This is the most difficult thing I have to remove from the face of the earth. It is trash, having been outside in snow, rain, wind, and sun for 30 years; unused for the last 25. I have investigated ways of having it taken away, but no one wants it. One place estimated a cost of $5,000 to bring equipment and dumpsters to break it up and cart it off. That was 18 months ago.
I intend to take it apart as I did with a pickup camper. Much will then go into a landfill, and the iron and other metals can be sold for pennies per pound. It has a 28 ft frame and a large V-8 motor so there are things I will need help with. Perhaps the US Air Force could drop a bunker busting bomb on it. Then I could just pick up the scrap.

There being no rush to complete any of these four projects, I guess I’ll start with the bacon, bread, and buying a lottery ticket.
Perhaps you have heard the joke about the fellow, Dave, that pleads to God to win a lottery. After many dire events in Dave’s life and another pleading there is suddenly a flash of light, and a deep voice says – “Dave, meet me halfway, buy a ticket.”

The house isn’t warm enough to properly make bread. I made some anyway, but it is too dense. I intend to build a box with a small light bulb inside. With a bit of experimentation I hope to provide a steady 110°F for the little yeasts to start and then about 75-78 degrees for the rising.

I’m just going to make the yeast happy. You are own your own.
Happy 2024.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan

Christmas Eve

I’m spending Christmas Eve with three cats, many quail and small birds eating various seeds, mostly sunflower, and a varying number of Mule Deer. Often there are 5. As darkness comes, one or more Great Horned Owls will call – repeatedly.
The deer don’t talk, but they are very aware. While I moved around to get the photo, they kept watch. The one in front is an older female and likely the mother of the other two. Her face and ears are narrower than the others. That will change by next fall. {The orange in the upper right is a cluster of fruit hanging on a Mountain Ash tree.}

I thought about making a large wreath to hang on the driveway gate. I have lots of needle-leaf trees, pine cones the size of baseballs, and there is that hanging colorful fruit. What I don’t have is material for making a large bow.
I looked on the web for ideas and came away with a question. If I had a bow, where should it go? There is the top, the bottom, a side, or none at all. I’m in favor of the one on the side, space 3 below.

Maybe next year I will start about November 1st and make one of each.

Merry Christmas
from the Naneum Fan