Mid-winter thrills

Sunday, Jan 19

We were supposed to go to a dinner up the road, but someone in the family got ill, and canceled or, as some might write, cancelled.
(In that link, the Ngram viewer failed for John, so he investigated. More at end of this post)
We got a call right before 1:00 from the granddaughter of our neighbor with the broken arm that her grandma had fallen and couldn’t get up. She didn’t hurt herself, but the granddaughter (also a nurse but not practicing on the elderly) couldn’t lift her because of the lady on the floor’s previously broken right arm. She called us, and John and I went over. John was able to help lift her off the floor, and I pushed a sturdy chair underneath her. She has been seen by her doctor since then and appears to have not been further injured by that fall.
I have been working with a new blood pressure measuring device. (I could not get it out of the package. I tried and I finally gave up after getting only a couple of pieces of cellophane off the container. Making no headway, I gave it to John. I think he used the 10” radial-arm saw! I didn’t stay around to see. He says he used a recently sharpened 10” carving knife. I wonder how our neighbors 87 and 90, could ever have opened it.) Now I’m frustrated with finally assembling it, putting in the batteries, successfully, but now trying to follow the instructions to set the clock, year, month and date, its totally not working. I don’t know how many minutes I worked, and I’m usually very capable with such things, even without reading the manual, which I’m faithfully doing. I finally gave up and told John he was going to have to try. He is fixing a late dinner, but will tackle after we eat. (John says, she hasn’t read a manual in 40 years and some of these electronic gadgets are not designed for the intuitive types.) [Nancy says, I really was reading this manual and the directions in it weren’t working for me. What he left out was that the instructions were set for when the battery was just installed; he removed one and then could follow the instructions, where I couldn’t after goofing on one setting.]
I told him I read that you are to rest 10 minutes, before taking your BP, and not to eat, smoke, exercise or drink, beforehand, and do it every time on the same arm. I told him I would not try for at least a full day and night, after raising my BP trying to get this initialized. This is NUTS. After it appeared to be working John tried it on his left arm. We think he should have taken his shirt off and moved the pad farther up his arm. It claimed his pulse rate was about 180, roughly 3X what it is. Investigation will continue after a calming down interval. Maybe listening to soft music will help. We don’t have much soft music but the bunch of CDs given to me (mostly old country, pop, and some folk) will work. While some plays on the stereo, via my laptop I’m copying from the CDs to a USB drive to play in my gadget-infused Subaru Forester. The number of things I just mentioned or alluded to that did not exist when I was born is astounding.

Monday, Jan 20 Martin Luther King Day

I drove John to the dentist, let him off, and went for my monthly blood draw at the hospital for my INR reading. We planned to return home to the chores and to rest up for the next 3 days that are full to the brim. Okay, we’re back and John beat me to resting because he didn’t sleep well last night. We had a message from TX from my cousin John(ny), and I shall call him back. He’s in the states for a short while, from his position with the Shell Oil Company in Kazakhstan, as a pipeline engineer. I’ll return his call ASAP, but want to finish a few things first. Meanwhile, I’ll review the rest of the morning.
John’s teeth got cleaned and paid for, and he has no cavities. While waiting for my blood draw, I contacted Consumer Cellular to see about getting a replacement phone for the one John misplaced (lost) last September. I lucked out and said the right words, I guess, and the gal offered me a new (returned in good condition Motorola WX416 in the color red) one for less than 1/2 the price of a new one–and it comes with free shipping and free activation. I got to pick between red and black, and decided to pick a bright color he might not lose; although, I suppose the carrier will be black. He had a piece of bright orange ribbon attached to his last, but it didn’t help. While still at the hospital, I stopped off at the pulmonary center to check on my upcoming (annually required) pulmonary function test, because of one of my medications (Amiodarone). I wasn’t in the system, so have to coordinate with my cardiologist’s office in Yakima to send a request to them for a Tuesday after March 12 (last year’s timing requirement for my medical insurance to cover it). I went back to pick John up and pay the bill with a check (they give a 5% discount for paying at the time of work completion). Worth it. Our insurance covered all but $24 and preventive maintenance such as that is not subject to a deductible. Then we decided to have something to eat in town and to buy enough to use for dinner, so John didn’t have to fix anything. I should have remembered to go by the Palace to take out his free birthday dinner, as I did last year. It must be used before the end of the month. Maybe I will retrieve one tomorrow night, on my way to play music, after dark. I can bring dinner home for us to share. Once home, I got a call from my doctor’s nurse that my INR was 2.5, which is “right on” & “excellent” and I don’t have to have another until Feb 20.
Back to the other call. I called my cousin in TX and got him in Costco shopping, so we agreed he would call me back later. Unfortunately, as we were taking our warm dinner from the oven, he called, so I told him I would call him back (and I did). It was nice visiting with him.

Tuesday, Jan 21

Left about 9:15 a.m. for a trip to Yakima to my foot doctor for more work on my toenails on my right foot, using laser surgery. Now that’s done, and I have to go back in June for another treatment, and hope it continues to work. It seems some better, but everyone is different on healing times. From there we went to Big 5 Sports store to use our 10% off coupon for some boots for John. Succeeded there too, and now he has some gray boots of waterproof suede. It looked in the ad that they were tan, and the color was also listed as Golden Brown on the box, with a like picture, but they are actually gray. We checked and all the shoes in all the boxes were the same color. Speaking of gray, I went to a Fabric store recommended by my friend Ellen, looking for a metal zipper, but they only had plastic in the size, but I found a gray one (it’s for an old winter red & gray jacket that won’t stay zipped :-). Zip it up and it unzips itself from midway. Thanks a lot!) Ellen is going to sew in a new zipper for me. Then, on to Costco for gasoline ($3.10/gal), 8 cents/gal cheaper than here. We ended up spending over $300 in the store. Most of the stuff is for future use (like over the next 2 years), but it was on sale, so we decided to invest. Picked up a Turbo Tax today, so I will definitely have to get to work on the taxes. I expected to come home, rest a little while and go back to town for music, but it was cancelled because the nursing home has a lock-down because of sickness. I am sorry for the residents, but I was actually relieved I didn’t have to go. As John mentioned, I might have not been able to find my way home in the dark in the fog. I’m really tired. Perhaps I will go to bed early, for a change.

Wednesday, Jan 22

Off to the Food Bank where we had some green salad and macaroni & cheese, but the best part of the meal was cooked apples – a nice generous portion. Could have been a full apple. We had a particularly good music day. It was the three of us, one on banjo, me on fiddle, and our singer, Bob. We had a large bunch of people eating who are our “groupies” and enjoy singing along, and applauding, and even two were dancing. On to SAIL, where, from the parking lot, I called in an order for John’s birthday dinner from the Palace restaurant in town, to pick up after going to the dentist. Also, I took in 3 visors-sun hats, like this one
A sample visor hat in red, white, and blue.
because I no longer use them – little bald spot and all. I took my antibiotics with me to take at 2:00 p.m. so I’d be ready for the exposure of my blood to potential bacteria (John says: “waste of money, contributes to the development of resistant bacteria, may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and allergic reactions”), and told 5 people in my class to help remind me at 2:00 p.m. It was funny, when they all did. Completely confused and startled my teacher for the “exercise” class. On then to the dentist for a teeth cleaning; I took my violin inside, so it didn’t have to sit alone in the cold car (it also goes to class with me). Stringed instruments do not do well in the cold. On to The Palace to pick up the birthday dinner for John. During the whole month of January, we can collect a free meal (choice of two things: Chicken Alfredo or Angus Chicken Fried Steak). The Alfredo is plenty and more than one person needs, but John cooked some chicken nugget-like things (called bourbon chicken) to add to it. I warmed day-old cornbread to have with mine and he ate the garlic bread that came with it in its own little box. I went and picked it up on my way home from the dentist, and they had it all waiting at the cash register. I gave the waitress a $5.00 tip, and thanked her and the one who took my order a couple hours before. They don’t serve the Alfredo until after 4:00. I picked it up and was driving away about 4:02. We made a nice dinner for both of us but the pasta and the chicken are the same bland color. A little cut up broccoli and sweet red pepper would fix that. [Nancy says to John’s comment about bland colors—it had brown mushrooms (okay, bland), and green slices of a zucchini squash included.]

Thursday, Jan 23

I went to Hearthstone for music with the KV Fiddlers & Friends, and back home by way of a friend’s to drop off printer paper. John’s new phone arrived, but we had to charge it before trying to activate it and learn how to use it. We are now a week or so into full cloud cover and rime (deposited ice) on everything. We are keeping track of the cold in the east – US and Canada) and sympathize with all the folks there. An interesting thing about our weather is that there is no wind, otherwise the ice would not stay where it forms. The “no wind” bit is nice for us but no so good for the investors in the hundreds of wind turbines erected in WA and OR over the last 15 years. The Bonneville Power Administration has to “balance” the input (or lack) of electrons from the wind with those from falling water. Below is a view from Saturday noonish and the green line at the bottom (very low) shows the lack of wind energy. Click for large image.

A complex chart of Electricity load by BPA using wind, hydro, and thermal elec. sources - showing almost no wind power
Anyone can watch this activity (on a 5 minute basis) from the BPA’s website. When the wind blows the green line will go up and the blue line (water power) will come down. Next wind in the region is expected to be this coming Tuesday evening – so check this graph on Wednesday, the 29th or later. The “thermal” (brown line) doesn’t vary much but comes from landfill-gas and sawmills and paper companies burning “waste” materials. If the wind gets to just over 75 miles per hour the wind turbines are shut off so as to not damage themselves.

Friday, Jan 24

Today I’ve a once-a-month scholarship luncheon in CWU’s Theater (McConnell Auditorium). Noon. It was nice. Off to SAIL class afterward. When I got home, John asked me if I had the blog ready for him. I told him I had ignored it the past two days. So, here I am without much to say. I guess I can keep working on the piles of stuff around here. I did drive by the CWU library today to give a fellow who works there two copies of his master’s thesis he had given me (I was on his committee). He was actually in the History department, but the topic was geographical. They were not bound, so I assume one was a preliminary copy before his defense and the other was his final copy. He was quite pleased to receive them. Finally, this afternoon, I got John’s cell phone activated and a couple of numbers entered. Now tomorrow, I have to put a voice mail message on it and then tie it to his wrist! [Nancy here, actually, I found one free from a friend in town I have to pick up. It supposedly has a belt hook on the back.]

Saturday, Jan 25

We took the dogs and cameras up the driveway and took a few photos. The cloud cover is thick and complete so, unlike last year with blue sky and sun, the background is a uniform gray. Nevertheless, it is both interesting and pretty. Nancy carried her Nikon and the new red cell phone for John that has photo capabilities. She took about 15 pictures, but cannot get them off the phone onto her computer without a USB micro V2.0 connector. John found one for $6 that will be coming from Amazon Monday. You’ll have to wait until next week to see her favorite ones, assuming it works and they are worth showing. Meanwhile here are 4 from our regular cameras. All 4 have larger versions hiding underneath.

Scene of trees (young Cottonwood, WA Hawthorn, Ponderosa Pine) coated in white rime ice
Rime coated trees
on Naneum Fan
Rime (ice crystals) on a wire cage around a small tree - not seen.
Rime on wire cage
Rime ice on brush, trees, and wire fence
On the Edge of the Drive
Rime on fence, hanging stored barbed wire, and a bird house, hay barn with blue roof in background
Beth’s house and
stored barbed wire

About 20 feet from our front windows is a small Mountain Ash tree such as seen here in a late summer view (not our photo). Ours is now mostly barren – no leaves and just a few berries. No bigger image.
section of Mtn. Ash tree with lots of green and orange/red berries
The berries (fruits) hang until about this time or later each year. At some point a flock of Starlings shows up. There may be 100 or 150 and they will swoop in as a unit, grab berries, and off they go. They might wait 15 or 20 minutes and do this again. Then they go away. Over several days they will clean the tree of fruit. [Nancy says, they came while I was gone to town Friday, so I got the story when I returned.] (If there are Robins about they will come singly or 2 or 3 and sit on a branch and eat there rather than fly away.) The large flock of Starlings and their synchronized flight to-and-from and from one place to another is called murmuration. Currently going around the web is a video showing this phenomenon with a massive number of birds. You might have seen a version. A site that has the video and an explanation of murmuration – such as scientists now understand, and that’s not much.

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

=========Click this for the Ngram Viewer =======
[The “Ngram Viewer” is a new trick to us from the web and John wanted to try another set of words. What ones? Being from “the hills” he frequently reverts to crick when creek serves quite well for most of us. Try the 2 words ( crick,creek ) in the viewer and note the thin blue line at the bottom. It is noticeable in the late ’30s, the 1940s, and into the ’50s. John was born in January of 1944! Coincidence? Not a chance. John’s mom was an avid reader. He also noticed that the red line – for creek – drops about 80% from its peak and then pops back up in the early 1900s – there were notable floods just prior to then. Note the general decline of “creek” since then. Maybe there is something going on here (urban living, creeks running in concrete channels, and buried in pipes) such that we don’t wonder about nor wander near creeks anymore.]