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.

Wed-summer Sat-fall

Pruning ended on Wednesday in full sun and 85°F. By 3:00 pm it felt like 100, but we kept at it until 3:30.
The vines were growing with buds and full leaves. Cameron called his pickers – the clan of Angelica – and four folks came and helped finish two or three acres. They did the “head-pruned” vines. These have no posts, wires, or trellises – are low to the ground and require being on your knees or fully bent over. Not fun. On Wednesday we had 8 folks in the east facing Pinot Noir vines.
In previous years, vineyard son Dylan would do all of this section but now he is in Seattle’s Pike Place Market 3 days each week. We quit Wednesday with just 4 rows left., we volunteers opted to let the locals do those. Three of us volunteers live about an hour’s drive away. So we are done.
I think there are 2 varieties to bottle in the next six weeks – no schedule yet. Also, there will be a vine-fired raclette. I cannot find a photo from the web that shows the real vineyard type raclette. This one is from January 2018 showing the fire, cheese, and potatoes. The square block of cheese is on a post that allows it to be swiveled over the fire for heating and then off the fire when being scraped onto the potatoes.

This event follows the tradition of melting raclette-type cheese in front of a fire, know in Valais since before 1574. It was a common lunch for the pruners and cow herders of mountainous Alpine regions.

It took me 48 hours to recover from the summer-like day on Wednesday.

I went to a College of the Science dinner on Thursday. It was mostly an event to highlight each department’s top students, a few of the faculty, and three donors that were present. I was there and got a brief mention. The accomplishments of the students – a diverse group – is astounding. I do not think I’ve encountered any thing similar at the other institutions where we were. The Geography Department’s end-of-year celebration and student awards is scheduled for May 24th. Nancy’s funds – vie me now – will give four students $1,000 each. I’m not involved in the choice and will learn of those and other awards that evening.

Weather: After our day of summer the area is having a cold wave. High today is expected to be 58°. This coming Wednesday is expected to get above 60. My Shiro Plum is in full blossom. The flowers are white but the round fruits will be bright yellow.
I’m hoping the pollinators will have good weather to do their thing.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Insurance and such

I’ve helped prune vines this week and helped the son and grandson of the now deceased neighbors remove trees from that property. Two ideas come to mind. First people should not plant anything next to the house that will grow taller than a tulip. In this case a Maple tree planted 50+ years ago that looked cute near the house grew into a monster about 6 feet through. Twenty years ago, I got on the roof and cut branches off the Maple (and also a Pine) because they were scrapping the roof. The pine was removed 10 years ago. The Maple is now a 15 foot high stump. Second: Willows and Cottonwoods should not be allowed to grow under power lines.
Rounds of the limbs were so heavy they had to be quartered with a chainsaw so I could lift them into a cart. About 30% to 40% of the weight is water that will be evaporated in two years time. Splitting it would allow faster drying. There will still be about 15% water – fine for use as wood fuel.

Truck insurance:
I had a Tuesday 8 am appointment for the truck’s scheduled service and oil change. I cleaned out the front seat, foot-well, and glove box. In doing so I found insurance cards: One was good until March 2022 and the other until March 2023. So neither is current. This was late Monday.
Tuesday morning – after getting back from the dealer – I found that I had missed a letter a year ago telling me to renew and to send a check. Oops!
I’ve been driving for 13 months without insurance.
I transferred from the original agent in Idaho to the Ellensburg office where the house insurance is filed. I did that by phone and went in Wednesday morning to sign the papers. I had to sign my name a dozen times and initial on 7 lines.
An odd issue is that I could not re-initialize the SAFECO insurance because that company won’t sign “new” customers unless there is already a current policy. Now I have 6-month policy with National General. In October I’ll investigate all options with the EBRG agent.

WA’s ski slopes are still operating. Total snow has been just above average but the temperature has stayed below average in 2023. And small amounts of new snow have continued. For this date, snow pack for recreation and summer irrigation is above average and growing.
Local weather has been nice for working outside. The coming week is not going to be as nice, maybe colder and more wind. Snow? Maybe. Or light rain at my elevation.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Onion planting time

I order onions from south Texas and they arrive here before spring. I would prefer the plants arrive about April 1st but that doesn’t fit the schedule for Carrizo Springs, TX. Find the southern tip of Texas and follow the Mex-TX border for 225 miles to the northwest. On Monday morning the local airport there shows 79°F while the airport at Ellensburg shows 33°. It was 19° when I got up; the low for the day. This week is supposed to warm some.

I have been moving a pile of dirt – previously dug but not sifted. Have moved 10 cart-loads – rocks going onto a ramp, dirt onto the garden. Now I need to till that in with some fertilizer and stick the onion sets into rows.
They arrived Thursday.
Each bundle will have more than 50 plants, up to about 70. I’ll plant 350 and give the rest to Phyllis at the winery. I buy types that are supposed to keep well from harvest to March. For this year I have one exception.
Ailsa Craig {anglicisation of the Gaelic, Aillse Creag meaning “fairy rock”} is a white onion that can grow to several pounds. Some get to 8 pounds. These do not store for more than a month or two, but they make large onion rings.
Search Google Earth with the name “Ailsa Craig UK” to see the presumed source – the Fairy Rock. One other onion, the Kelsae Sweet Giant, will grow larger (15 pounds or more), but I don’t have access to that one.
Weather and schedules permitting, we have been pruning vines.

A bit of work is again underway on the house. Nothing worth a picture so far but soon. Materials are partly here. A new front door is here and some wood flooring – more arriving soon. Monday?

The wood stove is still the source of heat. Night time temperatures are still freezing or below and heat pumps are not highly efficient when the air is that cold. I expect to be using wood until Easter, this year, April 9th.

I’m late with this.
Outside air is now 36° and I can go work on the onion plot.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Mid-March – all is calm

It is claimed that Saint James is buried in the city Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, in the north west of Spain. People trek there from all over Europe and arrive from other parts of the world to participate. The two most common routes are shown in red on this map. Here is a link.

Thursday evening there were two talks in EBRG. At 6 pm a retired CWU professor was giving a travelogue – the second in 4 years. I went for the first hour and then left to hear about pollinators, mostly bumblebees, in Washington State.
The bee one was hosted by the local Audubon group using a feed-in from Olympia. No one in the group has the skill to make the connection into the computer and out to the projector and sound system of the room. While the meeting was to start at 7 pm, I arrived about 7:25 and it was still 5 minutes before things got going. The time from 7 to 7:15 doesn’t count because the announcements of group officials always take about that long.
Anyway, the information was interesting, the photos great, and I got to ask a couple of questions.
I have many bees during spring and summer and am especially found of one that comes to the Siberian Pea Shrubs that I have.
Caragana arborescens (fruticosa)

The many flowers are bright yellow and medium-sized bumblebees think they are special. I now have a place to get mine identified. I just have to send a good photo. Now waiting for blossom time. Image is from the internet.

Three of us pruned vines on Thursday and Friday. Both nice days. This coming week – Monday & Tuesday – have rain forecast. Travel cameras on the West side already show mist or light rain. At this rate, we won’t finish pruning until May.

I visited with Walter, the contractor Saturday. There may be some action here this coming week or next. If nothing else, I expect the rooms that need new floors to get measured. The main room will get a Hickory wood floor. The adjacent kitchen and a bathroom floor will be renewed. Maybe not Hickory but the ancient Congoleum will go.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan