Saturday, Jan 4

John’s birthday -now he’s caught up with me, but claims he is 38

Cover of a birthday card with a old style wooden basked with apples, yellow flowers, and black capped chickedees
From a couple that got apples
from John last fall

We will start this week’s blog with Saturday, because we were so busy in the morning trying to post the blog that we didn’t get anything written. It was a full day. We first worked on that, and then after all the morning chores, got ready and took off before noon for White Heron, for a great celebration. Here’s a photo to tempt you to follow the links below.  Click on the picture below and concentrate on the cheese, the rack holding it, over the hot coals, with the fire in the background.

A fire scene with 1/2 wheel of raclette cheese on a skewer; John H. in background with wine; waiting for the cheese to melt
January in the vineyard

First is the Raclette of 2013, or last year’s party in the vineyard. I am in the process of making one for this year. I plan to have it almost completed (in draft form) by the time this blog hits the airwaves. With that said, here is the Raclette of 2014. Minor changes many occur later, but they will be minor.
These pages describe the annual celebration Raclette for the grapevine pruners who volunteer their time for many mornings during the ending days of winter. This year the date fell on John’s birth date and so we shared a cake baked by one of the pruners that has walnut trees, so walnuts were a component. Last year the Raclette was on the 5th and we didn’t mention the birthday so no cake. Also, better this year was the weather. Last year was cold and we got snowed on. It took all the next day to warm our feet. This year was warm(er) with sun and we carried along some of our stockpiled firewood as a precaution. Really though the raclette is historically a pruner’s meal cooked over stems and pieces of vine cuttings and we try to have some grape wood on the fire at all times. We shared excellent food and companionship. The cheese is imported as a full wheel and picked up in Auburn, WA. For some background reading see the post here and then click on the ‘next’ with arrow at the top right of the page. Nancy disagrees with the explained pronunciation of Raclette. It should be on the second syllable, not the first.

Sunday, Jan 5

Today was involved with rest, recuperation, and chores. John managed to do the normal ones, and then moved 15 bales of hay from the shed to the lower pasture into an old horse trailer from where he can feed the horses in a protected area from the wind when it is gusting hard. I’ve been multi-tasking, working on a number of projects today, none of which is finished. John just ordered a microwave via Amazon, with shipping included, for a good price on a “new” unit, Panasonic. NN-H965WF, delivered to our door. Our rotating spindle has been failing for months (or at least groaning), but finally almost bit the dust completely today, and tonight it was difficult to warm the smallest thing. I completed a recommendation for a friend, a geographer, in another state, and added more to the Raclette web page story for this year.

Monday, Jan 6

I should be going to exercise at the senior center today. Instead I’m staying home to tackle more projects and, tomorrow will be the same. I decided to share our purchase of a new microwave here. Check amazon.com for Panasonic. NN-H965, and click on the type you want, (we picked Panasonic. NN-H965WF ) and then go down the page for “Panasonic Genius 1250 Watt Sensor Microwave w/Inverter Technology” and open. Go down the page between Financing Offers and Product Details, to Special Offers and Product Promotions. Follow the link there. We bought this one (with this description; read them all very carefully).

Used – Very Good Item is in original packaging, but packaging may come damaged. Item has no cosmetic scratches or blemishes. Item has no cracks or dents. All accessories are present and undamaged.

John wrote the following in an email to his cousin’s daughter in PA, today —

Change of subject 1: Speaking of noises – our 10 + or – year old microwave oven started making odd sounds – again. Last year when this happened I cranked the turn-table in opposite directions a few times and it began behaving again. I assumed it was gunked up around the shaft as our house (4 dogs, 1 cat, and me) has lots of unimaginable dirt, dust, hair and on and on, floating around. This week the microwave’s complaints are more persistent. Amazon had some “used” ones of a highly recommended model. The descriptions seem to say something like: These were returned but are actually 99.999% new. One is mentioned as having a scrape on the top ¼ x ¼ inch and another doesn’t have the manual, and so on. Anyway, the used model saved us about $100. Arriving Wednesday We’ll see. –end quote–

The shipment came from a warehouse next to the Cincinnati airport – one of the few places we’ve flown into when the pilot pulled away with just moments to go and made a second try at it. It was windy. Interesting with the river just there north of the airport (in Kentucky).

I spent too much time on the request for my voice mail at CWU on 3571, but it was worth it. It is now fixed. John received a big box of goodies from his sister for his birthday. It’s full of neat things including candy and cookies and old family photographs (even of him as a baby), and of us before we were married, visiting with his grandfather in PA. The goodie box included a 1958 high school yearbook when she was a senior and he was an underclassman, and there are a number of his pictures in it.

The weather is getting nasty — it grappled on us late last night.

Tuesday, Jan 7

All day was a little overcast and sprinkles, with freezing temps, so at one time the ground was white, but didn’t stay. I spent a lot of time trying to work on arranging for Long Term Care Insurance payments, and other normal chores of the day with bills, receipts, filing – all fun stuff. I worked a little on the web page about last Saturday’s outing to White Heron.

Wednesday, Jan 8

Food bank for lunch playing music and SAIL class afterwards. Got my meds but didn’t go in the store — just to the drive-thru window. At the soup kitchen they served us a nice lasagna dish with large meatballs, a mixed green salad, and a great apple cobbler-type dish, with more apples than cobbler. We had a little snow this morning, but not enough to be a problem on the roads. On my trip home, I drove back up to within a couple miles of home, into a dense fog. While I was gone our “new” microwave was delivered. We still need to get it out of the box, but first we have to empty the dishwasher, and load the dirty stuff from the counter and clean that up. John fixed a nice pizza tonight for our dinner.

I’ve been working tonight on several projects, the most important of which is getting the photos and videos processed from my camera for the Raclette / Birthday Jan 4. I’m running out of time to get it completed before the blog goes out this weekend. Maybe it will remain under construction for awhile. Also tonight I tackled one box John uncovered, and sorted through things to take “gift” to my geography colleagues tomorrow. Stuff leftover from my teaching days… including materials and books and even a baseball cap from a local hay exporter where I have done research since 1988.

Thursday, Jan 9

This morning, John took the old microwave off the counter and “installed” the new one. It’s pretty nice, 1/4″ higher, and the circular glass tray’s radius is at least an inch more than the old one. Everything was perfect and had not been opened inside the packaging. There was noticeable wear on the packaging. It came from China (boat or plane?) and then to places in the US (planes, trains, trucks ??). Perhaps the damage on the outside glossy cardboard was enough for the store to refuse acceptance, and we got a deal on a new one for $100 less, plus shipping was included (paid for by our Prime account with Amazon… and delivery from Cincinnati was 2-day Air. John took this photo.

A white Panasonic microwave oven with many colored items on and about it; paper towels, red onions, plastic orange spoon and more
Memorize objects and colors;
quiz at the end!

How this business plan works is a mystery. This stuff is designed and then made in China and moved through several places by many people but cost about the same as a few pieces of lumber at the local dealer. Early ones cost about $50,000 using today’s inflated dollars.

This afternoon was full! It’s a bit cold and nasty to work outside so we both went to EBRG. After we dropped off a box of treasures from my past with the addition of 2 pounds hard candies, John let me off at the Rehab music gig. I carried several things in for others in our music group. We went sale-shopping again when he picked me up. He’d filled my car with gas, bought some groceries, and gone to Bi-Mart for some items, and while there found a 5-shelve plastic unit for putting things on like cans of veggies and package goods. Set-up will require moving/throwing-out some things in the garage. This is part of the rural lifestyle – buy in bulk routine. Thus far, it made it in, in its package, but it is not yet assembled.

Friday, Jan 10

Stayed home today to attempt to finish some more projects. Last night John fixed a stroganoff type of thing with potatoes, ground beef, mushrooms, yellow pepper, and celery. Tonight we had leftovers and will freeze the rest. For lunch, we had egg rolls, pineapple and orange pepper, with chocolate for dessert. I worked on the “books,” piles of stuff, and also gave John his much-needed haircut. Now we have no parties to attend to show it off. We decided against going to our friends celebration (for their son’s new Firefighter job in Yakima) at their house in Maple Valley, WA (across the pass). The weather is forecast to be very winter like, with snow up to a foot and 46 mph winds, and we would be traveling home in the dark.
Been slowly transferring 2-3 CD albums / day to make into .mp3 files to put on my car player. These came from a lady in my exercise class who had quite a collection she gave me part of in a large leather zipped folder. She’d given me a few others earlier, but this came as a huge surprise. It has 16 pages and each page holds 4 CDs, so wow, 64 albums, mostly country, but all sorts of different performers, including: Ricky Van Shelton, Anne Murray, Alan Jackson, The Statler Brothers, Jessi Colter, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Lacy Dalton, Lorrie Morgan, Reba McEntire, and people I don’t really know, such as Rita MacNeil, Lila McCann, and Nana Mouskouri, but they are singing familiar songs.

Saturday, Jan 11

This morning started with blue skies and sun, but dark-colored gray clouds are forming to our northwest, and we expect rain this afternoon. By Sunday am we could get some snow. It definitely will be bad on the pass, and in fact, winds last night put 75,000 without power in the Puget Sound area. I’m sure our decision not to travel across the pass this afternoon and evening was wise. Here is what the NWS thinks will happen: “Total snow when it finally tapers will be 18 inches to 3 feet . . . with the highest amounts on the volcanoes. … On the coast, waves of 25 to 28 feet are expected.” Sprinkling started here about 4 o’clock. In anticipation thereof, John fed the horses about 3.

Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan