Pruning, cleaning, balloons

Pruners only worked Wed/Thur/Fri this week. The weather is going to shut us down next week. Monday would be good but Cameron will likely not be available. The rest of the week is compliments of Punxsutawney Phil – winter is hard upon the Northwest. Looks to be messy or cold; maybe single digit temperature by mid-week.

I’ve worked on the wood stove and the flue. The picture below shows what the catalytic combustor looks like. It is 10 inches by 3.5 inches and has about 1,750 holes. I’m using white pipe cleaners (2 shown). The bright spot in the middle is from a small flashlight behind a cleaned part.

The next image shows ash encrusted holes (top) and cleaned holes below. On the left is my last dollar smothered with the fine light brown ash. These are tiny grains of minerals that could not burn even at a temperature above 500°F. Most of the burning time is closer to 1,000°F.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to keep and measure it all. I’ll guess there will be between ½ and a cup. I’ve run the pipe cleaners through about 80% (1,400) holes. This is a slow and tedious process, so I have been doing only about 4 rows per session. Thus, 2 more sessions to go.
I need to get the stove working again by Tuesday – when the Arctic air begins to seep onto the Naneum Fan.

New combustors for my stove are $300.00. There are other shapes and sizes of catalytic combustors for wood stoves. Some can be seen using an image search with the following:

steelcat condor catalytic combustor

My stove is a Blaze King and there is one shown for it. Autos and trucks have similar things but searching for images is unhelpful. What a search shows is the outside view of the “housing” and the working part is hidden.

The funniest sign for the week:

Of interest from 1983:

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Pruning is under way

We started pruning on Monday. Because of low temperature, we didn’t start until 12:30. Wednesday Cameron had an afternoon meeting so we started at 9 am. The weather cooperated, but my feet were cold by 11. In the coming week we will skip Mon & Tues because Cameron will be in Seattle.
Below is a photo (from the web) of what our job looks like.

Using the terms in the drawing (below), the long horizontal cordon will have a few to a dozen or so arms – places where growth occurs, like tree limbs. We cut off old growth – note the gray color in the above image, extra of last year’s growth. The gray is 2-year old wood while the others are one year old. We cut most of the wood away, leaving just one spur with two buds. A new cane will grow from this point, perhaps 2 to 10 feet long.

About May, the growth is so fast you can almost see it happen. Grape clusters form on the new cane close to the arm.
There are other ways of training vines and pruning. Methods are easily found on the web. The idea is to reduce the potential crop to a level the vine (roots and leaves) can ripen for quality wine. The weather has to cooperate.
For red wines the sugar content at harvest will be about 25%; the seedless table grapes bought at a grocery store will be about 17%. Such table grapes would make a wine of under 10% alcohol.
We have an early start for this year, so we may finish before April. But our fastest pruner will be gone for a week – so maybe not. That is Tom, and I always take a row next to him. He helps in my row and then I keep up. Thereby, he and I stay with the others – Cameron, Eric, and Mark. (Mark has had a cold but should be with us on Wednesday).

I’ve stopped the wood stove and I am waiting for a gasket to go around the catalytic combustor. I should have the cleaning and reassembly done by Tuesday.

I think my microwave is wearing out. The turntable alternates in its direction. It appears to be built to turn clockwise most of the time, then it will reverse on a start and go counterclockwise. I don’t know why it wasn’t built to alternate equally, but it never did.
Now its preferred direction produces a clunking sound. Something is wrong with the motor or turning mechanism. If I stop it and make it go counter-clockwise, it works fine.
It is about 20 years old, so I’m investigation new ones. My current choice will cost (with tax) about $300. I’ll have to see what BiMart and Costco have. The current one hasn’t died yet.

Keeping Track on the
Naneum Fan


A week for reading

This has been a low activity week. I went to EBRG on Monday, stopped by the Law Office and signed a paper, and bought groceries. I haven’t moved the truck but twice in the past 2 weeks.
I have lots to read and learn. The history of pigments for the color blue was in a magazine I get. The article is also on the web:

Even if you don’t wish to read – there are photos.

Another more difficult topic was about the numbers. In this case I learned about the square root of 2, and a few other things.
The number 1.414213562373095048801688 … is an approximate value for the square root of 2, but the digits just keep going on and on. Likewise, 3.1415926253 … is such a number (the ratio π of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Both are called irrational. The odd thing is that while the digits go on and on, it has a position on the number line.
You can see how this is done here: {replace XXX with www}

Actually, I did do something. I read and watched videos about how my wood stove works and about proper maintenance. So, I have allowed it to cool.I cleaned the flue cap and its protector wire mesh. This is a photo from the web, but it is the same model as mine. This one is about 97% covered with creosote.
Yikes! I use a wire brush about every six weeks. If air can’t flow out, the stove won’t burn properly, or at all. The mesh keeps sparks from flying out, but it is also the coldest part, allowing the material to condense and cling to it.
I have ordered a brush to clean the flue (arriving Monday). The rest of the stove looks normal, although I will have to clean it after using the brush. I also ordered pipe cleaners to dust out the holes in the catalytic converter. I’ll do this without taking it out. Otherwise I need to replace a flimsy gasket around it. (Next year, maybe.) The photo here shows one similar to mine with some of the passages clogged. This clogging reduces flow of hot gasses and its function because the “air” cannot touch the coating.

Keeping up with news: The US shot a balloon drifting over the North American continent. Those that paid attention got schooled on wind currents at 60,000 feet. This week there was rapidly moving cold air following the same path. Relatives in North Central Pennsylvania had a minus 1 this morning (Sat) at dawn.
Next week we may learn what this was about. In any case, we have learned that the US Air Force is capable of knocking a big fat balloon out of the sky.

Keeping Track on
the Naneum Fan


January is ending with a cold

The sky over Washington is clear making radiation cooling pronounced. It is 28°F in late afternoon so there should be a sharp drop in temperature after 5 pm when the sun sets. Cold air from the Arctic Region has made its way south over the last couple of days. However, at Calgary the temperature is 2°F but beginning to rise. Clouds are developing. I’m doubtful that I will get down to 8°F – and will likely be proved wrong.
Weather forecasting technology is not as good as sliced bread.

You have likely heard someone say “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Apparently, the first to say that was comedian Red Skelton. He began comedic work at the age of 10 and was on radio in 1937, then TV in 1951. Then he claimed “Television is the greatest invention since sliced bread.” Now, the comedian is mostly forgotten, as has been the inventor of sliced bread. You can look up Red’s story, but here is a link to sliced bread.

Home type electric bread slicers cost over $500.
There are numerous cutting-board things with side rails. You can get uniform thickness for between $30 to $50 dollars. I could make one with scrap wood. If I counted my time I won’t bother. I’m still able to cut uniform slices with a regular serrated knife that I have. Oh well.

Carrot cake is good too and here is a photo of me with the cake from last Saturday’s party. I was the person with the nearest birth day even though it was past and a couple of others were in the near future. I only had one candle, seen here in my hand.

Cameron and Phyllis brought party masks from German. These are flat paper with a description – in German – on the back. I have no idea what they were about. They had to be tied behind. Cameron’s appears to fit the best. Likely that is because the masks were wide and he has the largest head. I did not prepare anything. Phyllis and others prepared the food.
I had sorted my remaining onions from last summer’s garden. I took half to Phyllis and kept the other half.
I dug the onions six months ago, the 3rd week of July. I cannot keep them as cool as I would like – me about 68°; best 45°, but I do store them in single layers in darkness. Every couple of weeks I use or cut & freeze any that show signs of changing. What I have will last another month. With a cooler temperature I could expect some to last until the middle of March. For cooking, cutting them and freezing works.

I did manage to get several auto-pay accounts, such as the electric bill, converted to a new card. Each one saves the writing and mailing of a check. In talking to the Power Cooperative, found they did not change our rate for 2023. We are not the lowest in the Nation, but there are only a few lower. With a fully electric house, that’s nice.

I need to add wood to the stove.
Keeping Track on the
Naneum Fan.

John H.

Finally, a party

The weather cooperated and 10 of us got together at Phyllis and Cameron’s house – White Heron Winery. My birthday was the 4th, but now two more folks are about to have birthdays.
Some photos were taken but not by me. Maybe I’ll get sent some and show them next week. I left home at 9:30 and got back at 5:30, just before dark. Although not a lot, the daylight is noticeably longer.

I had 2 cold mornings – – 16°F. Two inches of snow Sunday morning. For Monday morning I expect 20° with slowly warming during the week. There is a rumor that next Sunday will bring more cold air. There is very cold air in the Arctic Region – 800 miles north of Washington State. Winter is still with us.
Unless one is interested in the President’s Corvette the national news is dull.
However, I did find a report from 2016 when a film was made for the season premiere of CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage”. Retired four-star general Colin Powell also owns a Corvette. There is a fake race. All good fun.

There is a usatoday story with this title:
Jay Leno on Biden’s sick burnout: ‘It was fun’ (
The TV segment has the following title.
(1) Joe Biden Does a Burnout In His Corvette Stingray – Jay Leno’s Garage – YouTube

In other news, the price of eggs went up. For folks that eat lots of eggs (not me), that’s important. I got a dozen free from a neighbor and froze them. So the problem seems to be Covid or Bird Flu – is there a difference?
Millions of egg-layers have been disposed of, apparently by “on-site” composting. Enough of that topic.
Someone has suggested a solution to bird flu, also known as Avian Influenza. This method employs sewers and fitters. I’ll pass.

We raised chickens while living in Troy ID and both turkeys and chickens here in Washington. The turkeys were Broad Breasted Bronze.

Turkeys lay large eggs, and they are nicely speckled. When friend Gina was teaching mid-grade students, I sent a few eggs to her in Houston. She still has them 25 years later. In the photo below, the turkey egg is the 2nd from left, top row.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan

John H.

This week’s lesson is the word Irony

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the US Dept. of Agriculture is proud to be distributing the greatest number of free meals and food stamps ever – to 46 million people.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the US Dept. of Interior, tells us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because “the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

There will be a quiz at the end of the year.

Below is a photo with a caption from a famous song.
Lyrics by Don McLean:
So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee
But the levee was dry
Them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye

The question is: Had you been asked to provide a caption to the photo – what would you have come up with?

On the home front, I got a haircut. This was about 3 weeks late because of the holidays, so I was somewhat shaggy. The 3rd week in March needs an alarm.

Except for fog, the weather is uneventful.

Keeping Track, on the
Naneum Fan

John H.

NEXT POST: late Sunday 22nd

2023 begins calmly on the Fan

This, being the week of my birthday, was an uneventful week for me, unlike for many other people and places.
I slept, ate, fed cats, watched wood burn, and read.
My sister said New Years was a time to eat pork and ice cream – I think that is what she said. So, I baked & braised spare ribs and the ice cream was a Bordeaux Cherry. [Marketing hype: the cherries are Bing from Oregon] I’m surprised the “Bordeaux” name is allowed, especially in Oregon. I think she made the eating ice cream part up.

The web is full of interesting pictures. What impresses me are the captions folks think to put with them. These things appear with no attribution – who to thank? Oh well, here are two:

The current forecast of weather for the coming week looks like this:

I may need to find a new book to read.

Keeping track on the
Naneum Fan


Last post for that wonderful year 2022

This past week brought more snow, and then Allen came and pulled it out into the pasture. The rear-blade equipment on a tractor causes the issue of getting the snow out of the way. This time he tried pushing going in reverse and the blade went up and over the pile. We had to do a little digging to break that up. The tractor is not 4 wheel drive. The problem was easily solved – about 5 minutes of work and talk.

Wednesday I visited with a couple of university folks and signed a paper documenting a future donation. This just alerts them of the possibility. We met near a food court in the Student Union and Recreation Center, know as the SURC. The cost of items in the food court are about 2 ½ times what I have paid for the same thing in a grocery store. Being a student is a costly affair.

After a couple of delays, Eric N. and I were treated to a visit, cheese fondue, and a sampling of wines Phyllis and Cameron brought from Germany. All great. Although there was more fog on the drive than I expected.
The odd part is bringing bottled wine into the U. S. on the return trip. They brought 24 bottles and the duty (fee) is so low the agents don’t bother. It has to be declared but collecting so little isn’t worth their time. Who knew?

Me, I cleared the fresh snow from the path to the wood stacks, and I cleaned the dying embers from the wood stove – and started a new fire with (now) twice the room.

I saw a funny Christmas thing. Years ago a fellow packed ceramic angels in a box and label it “angles”. All the family knew of this but nothing was done until this year. A son replaced the contents with what you see in the following photo:

Now the family has a new Christmas memory.

Two other things for the holidays.
The original 12 days of Christmas story:

A new version of the song nontraditional:

I’m an optimist about 2023.
Check in next year for the outcome.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan

Christmas Eve

The Naneum Fan has a white Christmas. Those that have prayed for this – please stop!
Get-to-gathers have been postponed. The roads are snowy but passable and a majority of folks have all wheel drive vehicles. That’s great for going but doesn’t help with stopping.
The region has the potential for sleet and/or freezing rain. Then, there is the fog.

I’ve snagged images from the WA-DOT cameras near Ellensburg. The low spots have fog that clears somewhat on the higher spots.

The left image is at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass on the way to Seattle. However, I-90 is closed: “this is an extended closure with no estimate for a reopening at this time”.
The middle image is from the top of the ridge looking north toward fog-bound Ellensburg. This road, on the way to Yakima, goes up and down like a roller coaster. It is not closed because none of the few vehicles have crashed. Big rigs are required to have chains.
The right image is of I-90 at the Columbia River. Below is the scene from Google Earth “Street View”.
Most people are staying off the roads here. We were warned.
Yesterday, the Seattle are had ice. Results made the news. There is an 18 second video – the episode seems to have ended well.

Video shows scary moment person almost run over by sliding car on icy Seattle street | KOMO (

Phyllis and Cameron have re-scheduled a gathering for Tuesday. The weather won’t be nice but the ice and fog should be gone.

Good times, good friends, good health to you and the luck of the Irish in all that you do.

From the Naneum Fan

Cold, no wind, icy fog

Contrasting views
Today I took the top photo from just outside the back door.
Five miles away, at the airport, the instruments claim no wind and visibility of 2 miles. Here, I can see about 80 yards. Some call this a silver frost.
The next photo was taken from Sweden about a week ago.
Found at this link:

The site explains the green and pink colors. Under a few lines of text there is a link to click on: “ take a look at the 1st ” – Wow!
I guess if you have money and time, a visit to Abisko, Sweden could be a nice tour.

Are you fed up with Christmas music? Radio stations started playing Jingle Bells on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. December 20th would be a couple of days too soon.
Jingle Bells was not conceived as a Christmas song. The history of it is here:
If you care.
My night time lows have been between 6° and 14°F. The current forecast claims it will be Zero by next Wednesday morning. Great. After that, it climbs slowly. By Christmas morning I’m looking at about 20, although Sunday’s numbers are not yet posted.
The cold and freezing fog limits the time I am out, and the more time I have to eat. Not good. I’ve gained a few pounds since summer. This brings me to my “Wellness Visit” of Thursday. This is the 1st of two appointments. The purpose is to establish that the patient is still sane and mobile. One part is to remember three words for about 3 minutes and repeat them back to the Nurse. Drawing a clock is part two. Last December my mind was somewhere unknown. This year both of these exercises proved that my mind had returned – perfect mental health, or something.
The nature of the questions does suggest that the medical professionals have to deal with some odd and maybe nasty situations.
One site explains, in general terms:
First, your primary care doctor will ask you to fill out a questionnaire called a Health Risk Assessment that evaluates your health status, frailty and physical functioning.

It also assesses other aspects of your health, such as:

Psychosocial risks (e.g., depression/life satisfaction, stress, anger, loneliness/social isolation, pain, and fatigue)
Behavioral risks (e.g., tobacco use, physical activity, nutrition and oral health, alcohol consumption, sexual health, motor vehicle safety and home safety)
Activities of daily living (e.g., dressing, feeding, toileting, bathing, grooming, physical ambulation including balance and your risk of falls)

At my clinic a nurse handles 90% of the visit. My “doctor” – a Physician Assistant – comes in and says hello and visits for a few minutes. Then I go down the hall and have blood drawn. Next visit, called a Chronic Ailment visit, will start with a nurse and then a longer visit with the “doc” about the results of the blood and urine reports.
For me, this requires a 30 mile (one way) trip. This week the roads were clear. Next week there is a chance of snow and 16 degrees. This will be on the 22nd. Here the Solstice happens on Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 1:48 pm PST. So, Thursday will be the first full day of the winter season, and the daylight hours will begin to lengthen. About January 10th or so, this will start to be noticeable.
That’s it for now – time to feed the wood stove.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan.