SATURDAY — the beat goes on

Sunday, again, after a busy half week.   Today is more clean up and sorting day with no Taize’ tonight because the students are gone on the long weekend with Presidents’ Day tomorrow.  A friend reports (and I am amazed) that the schools in Alabama do not recognize the Federal holiday.  We will be going to town today by way of the house lifting to try out John’s “fix” to the color and background of the pictures my digital Canon camera takes.  Before I realized I wouldn’t be going to town tonight, I had put in a special order for fritters and donuts.  So, we were supposed to come home and work on cleaning up, but I spent all my time getting articles off the web for my colleagues, and working on other resource material building.  Now it’s time for bed.  Tomorrow has its challenges, that’s for sure.

Monday.  Slept in and then started on clearing the table.  Have made pretty good progress in 3 hours but need to rest and eat lunch.  We are both resting while the shrimp cooks.  Have sorted out a bunch of old tests to toss, and am just loading receipts into a box for further sorting when there is more time. Found a number of books we can recycle to people at school on the geography faculty.

All of the stuff setting around has accumulated dust from 4 dogs coming in and out of the back door to the patio and backyard.   Stuff has to be vacuumed before it’s touched. Growing up in Atlanta, I always worried whether the cereal was closed tightly against the humidity, we worried about mold, and whether the Lysol was running low.  Not here.  It is dry most of the time and cereal, bread, potato chips or whatever is as apt to get crisper than less so.  The flip side of this is the dust.  It is a fine sharp-edged sort of stuff that, when dry, floats in the wind as easily as sprites and fairies. Apparently this environment is deadly to flees and hostile to ticks.  Our dogs have been flea-less since arriving here in 1989.  The brush down by the creek will yield a tick now and again, but not many.

When we sat down to rest and read our email and news John found there had been a horrible earthquake in Christchurch, NZ.  We have friends there and haven’t heard yet if they are all right.  We ate dinner and responded to more emails, and are too tired to do any more tonight.  Perhaps early morning we will be back up to snuff with some energy.

Well, surprise.  We got an inch of snow tonight while we rested after supper.

Tuesday:   This morning we awoke to heavy snow that accumulated to 4 or 5 inches, and now it is sun shining.  John went out and cleaned the back patio and some of the yard so the Sears Delivery person can drive to the back door.  Then he went out and cleared the drive out front (in front of the out building, where we park and turn around).  I have continued to clean up and the delivery person will be here at 1:00. They arrived just before 2:00 and the new one is installed J at 2:35.  I have to go to town to a talk of another job candidate at 4:00.  Rushed in to school for the lecture and drove home to more snow that accumulated to 2 inches.  The temps are to go down tonight, and we will have a cold several days.

We had pizza tonight cooked in our new stove.  Yum.

Thank goodness we heard this morning from our friends in Christchurch, NZ that they had survived the earthquake with not too much damage to their house (but more than the Sept 2010 quake).  And, our mutual friends who had been there Monday night, left Christchurch 3 hours before the quake occurred!  With that luck they need to buy a lottery ticket.

Wednesday:  Slept in after a really early morning phone call at 7:15 a.m.    Then spent time on various email chores, and left for town at 1:00, John driving, with kitty in a crate.  He dropped me off at the SAIL exercise class, and went to the bank, grocery store/pharmacy and to have the stitches removed from the kitty’s spay operation.  After picking me up, we saw a friend walking back to his house from getting his paper, and so stopped to say hello.  He invited us in for tea or coffee, but we just visited instead.  Tonight I’m going to CWU for a slide lecture by a former student:  CWU Outdoor Speaker Series: Kurt McCanles’ Two-Wheeled Adventure.  After graduating last spring, Kurt took his bike and headed south, biking from Cancun, Mexico, through Central and South America, to Guayaquil, Ecuador, a trek that took 110 days and took him through 10 countries.  He showed video snippets and many slides of the cultures and physical areas he traveled through.  It was very well done and fascinating.

Thursday morning I woke at 4:30 a.m., looked out on rapidly accumulating snow.  5 inches in just a couple of hours! John cleared it in appropriate places.  We left for town at 1:30.  I played music at Hearthstone and John sat and read.  We left 10 minutes early to make it to Dean Hall for a presentation by one of our former students (at the time 6 years ago he was an exchange student for a year from Australia).  He was a great guy and at the head of all the classes he had from me and Elaine Glenn, his mentor.  We have kept in touch and now he is a graduate student in Oregon.  His Master’s thesis was on Tibet, and today he gave a presentation about it with fantastic pictures and cultural information.  I’m so glad we went.  It was well worth it.  He was happy and surprised to see me there and gave me a big hug.  He knew about my illness.  His Ph.D. work (Geography at Oregon) will be on water resources in China.  Okay.  Dinner was part leftovers, chicken and rice and part new (fresh asparagus).

Friday:   Busy day today.  Starts with shoulder massage at Sr. Center; scholarship luncheon at noon (great pizza and salad); SAIL exercise class was cancelled because of a Pine Basket weaving workshop that went for 3 hours.  So, I went from lunch in the Psychology building to Dean Hall with my box of books to share (unload may be the better word) with my Geog colleagues.  Tired so am getting ready for an afternoon nap.  John is already napping.  He did a nice job cleaning up dishes today while I was away.  It’s down to 9 degrees as we head to bed, and is supposed to hit minus 5 tonight.  Yikes.

Saturday:  Woke up to blinding sunshine on snow. The -5 forecast  missed. It stopped dropping at +4.  We are having a heat wave – it is going to make it to about 31.  Lazy day till tonight when we go to the Trace Bundy guitar concert (finger-picking with both hands):

The web has other videos – just search using his name.

Hope you all have a good week.   Best regards from Nancy & John and all the critters.

SATURDAY — Keep on keeping on

Again, I am starting the previous Sunday.  Following my first night out in a year, I returned this home this morning in sunshine but with spray from wet roads.  My night in Leavenworth, WA was interesting and ended this morning with an enlightening breakfast before hitting the road for home, over Blewett Pass.  The valued advice on enhanced vision opportunities that I have been looking for to help my friend’s father, came at breakfast.  The gal’s mom has been legally blind for the last 30 years and has to use a CCTV and magnifier to get through life.  Being a Library Science professional, she needs more than most not to lose her ability to “see” and read.  She shared all her resources from Pierce County and WA State and gave me business cards of key people to contact for help.

I returned home ready for a nap.  I was awakened from a deep sleep by a couple of phone calls.  The interesting one was from Sears about rescheduling an appointment for the oven range.  It was a recorded message I must call back about on Monday.

Sunday night Taize’ only had a piano and 2 violins for music accompaniment.  We did fine.  Dinner after was great:  pizza, salad, and two choices of cream pie (Cocoanut & Chocolate).

Monday:  Slept in.  Took care of small things off and on all day.  Worked on answers to the questions I was going to be asked in the Hospital District interview.  I wrote out answers and then read through them a few times to prompt my memory.  It was Valentine’s Day, and I spent a lot of time responding to people on email to whom I had sent an animated card.

Tuesday:  Continued prepping for the interview, while it snowed big flakes outside.  We got over an inch of accumulation and then it changed to rain and took it all away.  I went back to making some shorthand notes with bullets on items I wanted to cover.  I took the small piece of paper with me, but I didn’t refer to it during the interview.   I think it went well.  There was a younger woman who followed me in.  I was in with them for 25 minutes, as planned.  They will let me know within a week their decision.

Left the hospital and went to the grocery for my apple fritters order and old fashioned chocolate covered donuts with nuts.  While there, they had another dozen donuts of various types, including two apple fritters, for $2.00 off the dozen price ($5.98).  These are all large and nice, with some turnovers and filled ones, and maple bars.  What a deal.  We can freeze them.  Went from there to friends’ house and visited till the gentleman and I had to leave for the nursing home to play music. There were just two violins tonight, his and mine, and a piano player.  We entertained with church hymns for an hour and then I came home to a warm bowl of chili.

On my way to town I went by the house being lifted, and was totally surprised to see how much they have lifted it!  It seems to be more than 6’.  I didn’t have time to talk to the workers to ask how high it was, but I took more pictures for my “story.”

Wednesday:   Started out the morning reading emails and looking on the CWU site.  There I found that the President’s Office was offering complimentary tickets to the Spirit of the West Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m.) concert at the CWU Music Hall with 4 recognized western music performers:  Don Edwards, Juni Fisher, Doris Daley, and Adrian.  I mentioned it to John who was “willing”  to attend with me.  Also, finally took the pictures off my camera of the house lifting (above the flood plain), and sent off to John to enhance the colors on.  My camera takes with overtones of blue.  Also, yesterday was a shady day and it was late in the day when I took them.  Today is sunny so I hope to get some better pictures.

[—–   John notes: The pictures Nancy has been taking over the past two weeks (the house raising) have had a bluish tint or “cast” as it is called by photo folks.  We need to change the setting in the camera’s software under the heading of “white balance” to fix this.  We found the original box within which resides a Spanish version of the manual for the care and feeding of her camera.  Great!  We either have to learn Spanish or find the English language version – buried on a counter.  While we search, I’ve been using a software package to eliminate the blue cast, resize, and crop the images.  Oh well, it is seasonally cold outside and getting colder.  By late next week we will be about 20 degrees below normal; that’s going to take us really close to zero by next Friday morning.  Not, then, doing much outside, I have been reading on the web about things, including digital cameras.  Here are links.

Ken Rockwell has a huge site with much good information and an attitude. —–end]

I went to SAIL exercise today, then by the CWU Prez office to pick up the tickets for Saturday, and then off to a lecture that is part of the interview for the first candidate to be brought to campus to fill my slot there.  It snowed very hard this afternoon, right after I filled our ‘09 Subaru with gasoline and drove to Dean Hall.  I sat and watched the snow for 15 minutes before I got out in it and walked to the building.  Tonight, time was spent proofing a handout for a colleague and grabbing an article from the Wall St. Journal for another colleague (see I’m retired but still working), and I spent time sending out job announcement to “my” jobs list.  It’s called Northwest Geography Jobs and has about 500 people subscribed to the list serve.

Thursday:  Started slowly by sleeping in. [ I think that’s called not starting!  J ] Mostly been doing emails when I should have been cleaning off the table to make way for the oven/range delivery. It’s easy to put off such “work.”  Nothing much today other than delivering a purchase from Costco to my neighbor, and going to play music at Dry Creek.

Friday:  Goodness.  What started out slowly, ended full of stuff.  We both slept in longer than usual, with no early morning 7:30 or 8:00 phone calls; however, we did have a wrong number looking for “Laura” at MIDNIGHT when we were sleeping soundly.  Not nice.  There were probably two other times during the night that one or more of the dogs wanted out, or John or I had to visit the bathroom.  None of us can make it through the night.  At least the kitty can go in her litter box, but we have to let out the four dogs into the backyard.  We do not have their “doggie” door operable now in the cold weather, and also cannot operate it with the kitty until she knows how to come and go from the house to the yard and back to the house.  We’ll wait for that learning experience till spring and nicer weather.

So, at Noon, I started the day with playing music and eating at the town’s “soup kitchen.”  It’s always a nice full meal – no soup or bread yet. Today’s chow was a cheeseburger, with tomatoes and lettuce, and other stuff I didn’t put on mine (onions, pickle relish).  I had mayonnaise and ketchup.  They had fried cubed potatoes spiced with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (sounds like an old song).  And for dessert, pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream.   Three of us (guitar, banjo, and fiddle) played and sang for 45 minutes and then we left there and went to the Fairgrounds for the “open mike” part at the Spirit of the West, Cowboy Gathering.  It was scheduled from 1:00 to 3:00.  There we listened to others on the program before us, but we played as a subset of the Kittitas Fiddlers & Friends group at 2:15 for 7 minutes.  We squeezed in 3 songs:  T for Texas, Waltz across Texas, and Snow Deer.  The makeup was comprised of 3 fiddlers (one occasionally playing his mandolin), a clarinet, a banjo and a guitar.  It was a subset of our group, but we had fun and did a good job.  We stayed around and toward the end there were a few minutes before the ending at 3:00 and the organizer asked us to come up and play some more.  We did, without our banjo player, who’d left.  We played Blue Skirt Waltz and Never on Sunday.  It was fun.

Saturday.  Morning cleaning and sorting papers in the den, followed by a brief lunch and trip to the Spirit of the West 1:00 p.m. concert.  It was SO good and lasted longer than we planned.  We didn’t get out till after 4:00 and then went grocery shopping.  Home to email and more cleaning but have had 3 phone calls and not gotten the email even looked at yet.  My feet are cold, so I think with down boots and heavy socks already on, I need to wrap them in a blanket.

The concert (names mentioned above) had a 19 yr old from N. California ranch, young girl, guitar player, songwriter and singer with a big booming voice.  Second was an older woman from Tennessee, also a very fine singer and guitarist.  Next was a Canadian woman who mostly told us stories in poetic form.  She was great.  I didn’t expect to enjoy her but we both did.  Then the last person was a guitarist, songwriter, singer in his 70s.  What a wonderful performer with a fantastic voice and great picking skills.  He sang two encores—really cool, and his time was more than any of the others.  I believe he was on stage for 50 minutes.  Notes, pictures, and links here:

We came home to some interesting mail.  I was not chosen for the position I interviewed for this week, as a Board Commissioner for the Hospital District.  Just as well, because after prepping for the interview and learning all about the expectations of the job, I wasn’t sure I wanted it, but I gave it my all anyway and feel good about the interview.  I do wonder who was chosen and about their background.  There was a younger woman following me into her interview.  Could be that age (and my health) was a factor; I’ll never know.  I guess I will know soon enough who was chosen.  No, I do not intend to attend the public meeting the end of Feb. to see who is appointed.  Hopefully, I can read about it in the paper. Besides, March has 5 Thursdays and music play dates and I really do enjoy those.

The other piece of interesting mail was from our eye doctor, a check refunding part of John’s $96.01 bill (we had paid $30 at the time, for the Optimap scanning).  I had paid that recent bill and then questioned when the paperwork came through from insurance and Medicare.  It made no sense to me and I thought we had been overcharged, so first I called the doctor’s accountant, who told me I had to pay it because John’s deductible had not been reached.  Then I called the insurance company and asked for an explanation.  The person helping me was also confused by the numbers and said he would submit it for reworking.  I guess I was right, and today in the mail we have a check for $74.01 as a refund, but NO explanation.  I need to check my records again to see what the $22 went toward on the bill.  Medical charges and paperwork is the most confusing mess of accounting there is, in my opinion.  A person has to be on top of everything, and I should have learned my lesson not to pay bills right away until all the paperwork is in, even after speaking to the office.  However, in this case, it apparently was their error.  What if I had not been paying attention?  How do people who are not as savvy as we manage?  I guess the answer is a lot of needless bills are paid without question.  This is one of many we have found in error over the past 2 years.  I wonder how many we missed.   One charge last year was at my family physician’s office for an office call for me from a different doctor I have never seen and for a date when I was not in the office at all.  It’s in a town 30 miles away, so we know when we have had appointments and have them on the calendar.  At first they tried to say it was for lab work (hence the doctor on call’s name was on it, but I insisted I was not in the clinic that day and they needed to reimburse my insurance company and Medicare for the false report).

Now I’m sitting here with slightly warmer feet , with the blanket wrapped around them.   I will end this now and send to John to put on the blog this week.  Thanks for hanging in there with us.  He will get to it after dinner.  He just came back to the kitchen to work on the dinner, baked chicken – with mashed potatoes and beans.

Hope you all have a good week.  We have to work hard tomorrow and President’s Day to get the path ready to bring in a new stove/oven and take out the old.

Best regards from Nancy & John and all the critters.

SATURDAY — A day/night away from the ranch (Sunny & me)

We are starting with the report on Sunday.  Again, the rain turned to snow last night, but now this morning returned to rain. John and the dogs had a wet trip out to exercise and feed the horses.  I spent time with frozen vegetables on my sore shoulder, and putting together my meds for the week.  I realized I need to order Prilosec and the question came up, after hearing my neighbor was put on it for acid reflux and heartburn, why I was taking it.  We found some information on line, and I read the patient instructions with my refill, so I have the right questions to ask my doctors’ nurses.  Tonight I go to the Taize’ service.

Last night I had a long phone conversation with a friend I have know since she was 17.  We sold her a Brittany for her graduation present.  She was a hunter.  She now lives in South Lake Tahoe and has a 17 year old daughter.  We were amazed at thinking of the past and our friendship over the years.  She is 15 years younger than I am, but we were real buddies while I was in Idaho.  We went to dog field trials and shows together for years– till I left Idaho.  And, our friendship has endured.  Those are the best kind.  I also visited her in her new home several years ago when I was down for a conference, and one day she took me on a trip around the Lake there at Tahoe.  It was a very interesting day together.  We visited lots of tourist sites, had lunch, went through museums and wildlife parks, and had a wonderful day.

Sunday night’s Taize’ went well, but we only had a piano, 2 violins, and a clarinet.  Dinner after was great:  Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and a birthday cake for the husband of our clarinet player, made by his wife.  Chocolate cake with white creamy frosting, made from scratch with Crisco.

Monday:  I joined two geographers for lunch at The Dakota Café to discuss scholarship funding for geography students at CWU. There is a gap between the State’s current and future dollar intake and outgo.  The recent national economic meltdown brought this issue to the here-&-now but it looks to get much worse as the boomers crash – that is, age, and thus burden the entitlement system they have been promised.  After we solved the government’s funding woes, I went to SAIL exercise class at the Adult Activity Center.  John met early in the morning with the farrier to trim some of the horses feet.  It was nasty weather with winds up to 50 mph.  Wind makes horses nervous, they being prey and everything else in their environment is a predator.  Wind causes things to move and make noise and if they decide to flee one does not want to be in their escape path.  Never a dull moment.  All the day’s activities ended well.

Tuesday:  Started out snowing, then sunshine, then cloudy, then clear, then snowing again, and ended clear.  Sad story.  A friend from Yakima died of an apparent heart attack.  He was only in his fifties.  This was a person I worked with at CWU in Career Services, with many of my students.  He was a dear soul and really cared about helping students formulate their resumes, job application letters, and do a good interview for their career.   He was a gentle wonderful man who will be missed by all his friends.  This generated an extra load of e-mails throughout the day.  Busy work for today included receipts, bill paying, and sorting things in the den, but nothing  looks accomplished.  I washed a load of dishes.  Then I went to town for playing music and John fixed a good dinner, but we didn’t eat till I returned, after 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday:  Long day of capturing pictures from the WSJ for my colleagues, and working on tax receipts and undoing problems with medical insurance claims submitted incorrectly.  That in itself is a full time job.  Medicare’s reporting year begins on January 1 while Group Health begins their new round of paperwork in October.  Both have deductibles.  Thus, when a bill is submitted each entity decides what part of the cost they might pay but won’t because the deductible part hasn’t yet been met. For us now, Medicare is billed first.  Often before the doctor/clinic/hospital hears from Medicare and/or Group Health the computer software triggers a delinquent notice.  As all the numbers, dates, codes, forms, and so on are indecipherable to anyone the only safe thing to do is to call and question everything.  About half the time someone can figure it all out and explain it.  Often, though, they will work on your question a little and come back to say a mistake has been made and they will re-code and re-bill.  If you have sent a check to the doctor/clinic/hospital, they then will have to return a portion to you.  Their check might arrive with another coded form that makes no sense and the time interval may be sufficiently long that you can’t remember why you have just gotten a refund – or a new bill for a service performed 6 months ago.  We wonder if the credit scoring agencies pay any attention to any of the medical billings?  Hope not.

Thursday:  Up early and out to get Sunny in for neuter or spay by 8:30 a.m. at the vet.  Turns out Sunny is a female, so she had a spay and will be at the vet overnight, for pickup tomorrow a.m..   She was not real happy being put in the crate for the car trip. The vet’s assistant called to let us know the spay went well with no problems.  John has taken to calling her “Sunshine or sweetie.”  We left to drive to Costco in Yakima because we were almost out of dog food.  While there we got other good stuff, and some for friends and neighbors, to save them a trip.  Filled up John’s Subaru with gas for $3.05/gallon and thus saving $2.60 compared to a local purchase. That doesn’t pay for the trip so the rest has to come from savings on monstrous packages and quantities at Costco.   Got a good lunch at Quiznos, and not cheap, even with a special coupon.  I guess we saved $5.49 on the purchase, however.  On home and back soon for me to play music and John to get our phone outage (hence Internet access too) reported in person.  If the phone doesn’t work it’s hard to call.  Well, we do have cell phones but didn’t have a number to call, and, on the way to town we found we had left those at home anyway.  Then we attended a lecture about the changing society in Bali (lots of great photos) at CWU in the late afternoon.  Home.  Supper.  John went in again after dinner for a meeting of the trail riders’ club, for which he writes the monthly newsletter.  I stayed home.

Friday:  John just went to pick up Sunny – Sunshine.  The bill was $124, actually only 70 for spay, and she had shots and rabies for 50.  This morning I go for a massage and to play music at the soup kitchen at the food bank, then back to exercise… and tonight is another play with food gig.  Lunch today at the soup kitchen after we played was quite good.  Barbequed chicken wings, tater tots, green salad, and chocolate cream pie; and, I ate tonight too after playing music.  I will need to go on a diet.

Sunny came home this morning, but I didn’t see her till I got home this afternoon.  John said she was thrilled to be back to her litter box.  She ate a little and went under the bunk bed.  He hadn’t seen much of her, but when I came home, she came out to greet me and jumped up on the table but then left to go back to the back of the house.

I did get a slight power nap before driving back to town to the LDS church for playing music and a dinner in payment.  Boy, was it good.  We had turkey (there was ham too, but too salty for me), rolls & corn muffins, baked potato, salads, and several great desserts (best was cheese cake with strawberries on top).  We enjoyed playing for a small group of appreciative folks.  We had a pretty good turnout of musicians: guitar, banjo, and 3-4 violins (one alternates on a mandolin).

Saturday will be a full day and night. I’m going to drive to Leavenworth (1.5 hours) over the pass north of us for a birthday party for my former student, and will spend the night so I don’t have to drive home alone in the dark over Blewett Pass.  This will be the first day I have spent away from home since returning from the hospital last year, well, from the Rehab center.  Guess I was back in the hospital 3 times since then, in March, in June, and in August.

Leavenworth is a small town along a river as that emerges from the east slope of the Cascade Mountains. One time it was a busy little place with lumbering and a railroad – one of three going over the mountains into Puget Sound.  The town nearly expired until locals generated a rebirth as a tourist destination – a Bavarian village in central Washington.  Here is a link.  Check out the links on the left side, including the webcam near the bottom.

Might be some rain and a little snow on the pass I have to go over this afternoon, and return on Sunday morning.  I don’t leave till 3:30 Saturday afternoon, but I will give this to John to put on the blog, and I’ll put my report about the rest of the weekend on next week’s blog.

Hope you all have a good week.

Best regards from Nancy & John and all the critters

SATURDAY — Fifi La Fume or Pepé Le Pew ?

Here it is Sunday again.  Snowed last night and much of the morning, and we got about 2 inches.  John moved some of it off the drive, walkways, car, and back patio.  I spent time on house chores, music transposition, emails, and summarizing answers to questions in job interviews last week.  Tonight I participated in the Taize’ service playing my violin.  We had a nice meal afterward made by the Episcopal Priest.  It was a good bean dish with meat, homemade cornbread, salad and a super good cake, with a layer of filling such as found in good Éclairs, and topped with Chocolate.   Now I’m ready for a good night’s rest.  Neither one of us got enough sleep last night, and we took no naps today.   I have not been napping in many weeks.  There was a time where I had to, so I must be improving.

Monday – need to take care of following up on bills that insurance should have paid, and I will be going to town for my SAIL class.  We need to make some more progress on cleaning up the kitchen for a Sears repairman to come work on the stove/oven and the dishwasher.   We cancelled tomorrow’s horse shoe trimming because it is supposed to be 15 degrees early morning.  We will wait a week and hope for the polar air to go back north and quit descending into our valley.  Brrrrrr!

Sunny Kitty is growing and climbing more and more.  He still has his favorite toy and will play for many minutes during the day with it (simply a long shoe lace tied up and closed into the bottle cap of a medicine plastic container).  It moves a lot and he loves it.  He also is a “companion” kitty.  He follows John like a shadow.  When John goes outside to feed the horses, or clean snow off the car, or driveway, Sunny watches from a bedroom window, either the guest bedroom, or the computer bedroom.  We wonder as he grows bigger, if he will fit on the rather narrow window sill.  Time will tell.  He also either lies next to you on the table/desk or on the floor beneath the computer, or lies behind you in the computer chair as we use the computer.  He also follows me and John to the bathroom.  He has a very weak meow sound, but he uses it a lot and carries on long conversations.  He loves balls especially ones made from crushed paper that come apart as he bats them about, and his other favorite toy is the cardboard from the inside of a toilet paper roll.  He’s eating well, canned and dry food and drinking his water.  He has gotten use to running around the house, sleeping various places (usually on the bed during the night), and pottying in his litter box in the back “computer” bedroom.  We have to close the door using a thin box as a spacer and then hook it so he can get in and out and the dogs can’t.  Otherwise they search and scrounge for the “almond roca” treats kitty leaves behind, but covers nicely.  John keeps it cleaned regularly through the day, but during the night we have to “lock” them out.

Monday it is, and I slept in late, after not having a good night’s sleep.  Too many interruptions.  Have been making some progress on the computer.  Ready to eat lunch and spring for town.  It is getting much colder here today, and will be for the next several days.  Now the rest of the night, after dinner, we need to make a path to the kitchen and clean up around the oven/range so a Sears repairman can come in the morning to fix the door on our oven, which needs helped by a bungee cord to stay shut.

Well, we didn’t get any clean-up completed tonight because we were both feeling out of sorts.  We decided to wait till 7:00 in the morning.  Guess I had best go to sleep now.

Tuesday.  John started cleaning this a.m. at 7:15 and the guy from Sears called about 8:30.  We thought he was 20 minutes away, but really was over a 1/2 hour.  We cleaned up some more, but certainly it would not pass inspection in the real world.

First he fixed the dishwasher and found a mouse nest underneath in the insulation.   Then he found a constriction in the outflow pipe – that water has to pass through the under-sink disposal.  Now cleaned out we haven’t noticed any of the left-behind water in the bottom of the dishwasher.  Then he worked on the dryer (clothes) cleaning the lint and dust out.  It was the one that quit heating last week by throwing a breaker switch.  He looked at door hinges on the oven/range.  He didn’t have the hinges and pieces and Sears began researching it.  It will probably require a whole new frame to sit the door in with the hinges.  If they don’t have the parts, then they will replace the whole unit.  Wouldn’t that be nice !  It is a standard 40” range (but with double ovens and self-cleaning of the larger one).  If replaced, we get to have the same features.  The only one I can find on line is a gas model and we don’t have gas, only electricity.   The larger of the ovens is convective, and supposedly that feature gives less inside room in the oven.

The repairman didn’t leave till 10:25, and neither of us had eaten breakfast.  So, we ate just a little and then had a late lunch, and there was no reason to go to town today.  How very nice.

I then filled out a survey evaluation form on line for the serviceman and the service provided.  It was no cost because we have a service contract we pay which allows maintenance and repair for kitchen appliances.  This is a questionable purchase but we are over an hour (one way) from their service so for anything not still under warrantee there is a monster cost of a service call. The total charge for today for the 3 appliances would have been billed at $442.44 (that includes a service fee of $350 applied to the oven (not fixed) which was the provocation).  And we have a return visit for 2 weeks (depending on whether they have the parts, or whether we get a new oven/range).   If they replace the oven/range, the only comparable one costs $1,937, and we will not have to pay for installation or taxes.

Other things I had to worry with today in my “retirement” time, was checking with Group Health on two bills they supposedly did not pay.  Jeez, this is a full time job.

I forgot another thing that happened today.  We had a call from Critter Care (that’s what our vet calls her business).  Love it.  They were calling to schedule Sunny in for his neuter or her spay, whichever the case may be.  And, to get the next set of shots, probably to include rabies.  We take him in on Thursday morning, and if it is a neuter, we pick him up in the afternoon.  If it is a spay, we pick her up after an overnight stay.

My nightmares last night were connected with the house cleaning for the repairman to enter.  And, we still only had a path through the boxes, piles of papers, and clothes. My dreams were that two guys were sleeping over in our house in a messy room, and that I hadn’t even given them clean towels.  Also, a woman came to the door early in the morning to get a ride with me to the airport.  I had not packed and didn’t have an airline ticket, so I was happy when dog Annie awoke me to tell me she needed to go outside to potty.  I jumped up and ended the nightmare.

The other news tonight was very sad.  It was about the death of a dear friend from lung cancer.  The call came from his friend of 25 years.   I guess it is getting to be that time of life, but he was younger than me, was a Viet Nam vet, and a superb geographer.  I will miss his friendship.   He knew he was not long for this world and called in December to visit and wish us well.

Wednesday.  Today was supposed to be a light day but it turned into a crazy one.  I made the mistake of sleeping in and we were supposed to meet someone at the Kittitas Exit on I-90, after 10:00 a.m. to get from him a Farrier’s Kit he wanted to sell.  He was to call us from Vantage that would give us 30 minutes to get there.  Well, I was not dressed yet and the phone rang at 9:20 a.m.  He was coming across the bridge over the Columbia River calling me.  Phew.  We got ready and rushed out there, and yes, we got there in time.  He apologized for being early.  We visited awhile in the cold, and then came home.  There was another trip to town for me at 1:00 for SAIL exercise class, and afterward I dropped by the hospital for a blood draw to evaluate my INR (for adjusting my Coumadin dosage).  My physician’s nurse later reported that it was 2.9 (a little higher than usual), but okay, and not to change my dosage, but to have it checked again in a month.  Then we both worked on projects on our respective computers till it was time for dinner and another trip to town for a lecture on ice cores and their ability to measure climate change by the atmospheric chemicals deposited on high mountain glaciers.  We were late getting home to a crazy cat demanding his litter box be cleaned out and 4 dogs ready to go out to potty.  Then we had a great dessert.  John made a carrot/walnut cake with white cream frosting last night, and we had a piece with butter pecan ice cream on it.  Very good.  Now we are finishing emails and stuff and will be going to bed shortly.

Thursday was much quieter – but a music play day.  We swung by a flood-prone intersection to photograph the raising of a house that sits at an intersection where the culverts are not sufficient for the extra flow during heavy rain or for rain-on-snow. This place (once owned by friends) was flooded a few years ago and again in January. The current owners just stayed with friends last time while they cleaned and dried it out, but this time they are going to disconnect it from the ground, raise it up, and grace it with a new and higher foundation.  John’s family’s house was raised and moved (so a nearby soft drink bottler could expand) when he was young so he is familiar with the operation.  I talked to the contractor and asked if I could take some pictures of the process over the next several days.  He expects to have it finished in a week.

John took the dogs for their morning run to feed the horses, and they tip-toed through a herd of deer.  The oldest, Shay, returned carrying essence of Fifi La Fume or Pepé Le Pew.  We could have gone a long time without that.  It’s not a full-fledged smell requiring a bath, but it is definitely noticeable.  John thinks she might have brushed against a place / bush or something that had been sprayed.

Nothing much new for the rest of the day. Then off to play music at Royal Vista Nursing facility, and John went to the landfill to recycle glass (free), and then to shop at the grocery.  John says (being always politically correct) that he went to a “transfer station” and not a “land fill.”  When we got home, I’d received a letter from the Hospital saying they received my application for the Board of Commissioners vacant position, and they would be interviewing finalists on Feb 15 and 17.

Friday morning began with the kitty waking us to clean his litter box. Then I made a trip to the kitchen to load soaked dirty dishes into the dishwasher and filled with more.  At 9:00 a.m. had a call from the CEO’s secretary at the hospital to tell me I would be interviewed Tuesday Feb 15 at 4:45 for the Board of Commissioner’s position.  It will be about 25 minutes and they will send me a list of the questions in advance.  That’s really nicer than walking in cold, not knowing what they want to know.  I’m used to interviews in academia where the person isn’t given that courtesy.

Another nice surprise came in a phone call this afternoon.  I was off eating and playing music at the Adult Activity Center.  At the end, I went to the grocery and called John from the parking lot.  I told him I forgot to take the cooler and did he want me to get the ice cream and frozen Lasagna anyway to bring home, as I had only two stops – the post office and our utility district to pay our monthly electric bill.  He said I might rather wish to drive by the Sears store to pick out our new oven.  They were unable to find the parts to repair the 1982 model.  They will install the new one and remove the old one too.  It took me only a few minutes to give them my authorization code John had given me and we were approved for up to $1200 for a replacement.  There was only one electric model with the double oven feature, so I had only to choose the color.  I picked white, to match the refrigerator.  Come Feb 22nd we will have a new kitchen stove.  Cool.  Except for the in and out part.  There are two options, and both have problems.  Coming in from the front door means moving a lot of furniture and boxes to get through the front door entrance, into and around a corner into the den, or coming in the back sliding glass doors to the den and into the kitchen.  The problem with that route is that the access through the pasture and back yard might be muddy.  Guess we will have to figure out as time proceeds but meanwhile we will start working on the “den”  — the biggest obstacle at the moment.  It needs doing anyway.

Saturday is a light no-activity day except for John’s getting out the trail rider club’s newsletter before our mail pickup at the road.  Last night it rained and blew, up to 48 mph gusts and 39 mph sustained winds (at the airport 5 miles south of us).  It has slowed today to “only” 30 mph gusts and 22 mph sustained winds.

We wish you a good and healthy week, and we’ll be back late Sunday next week to report to you on the latest in our currently not very eventful lives.  I’m driving to Leavenworth for a birthday party (evening dinner), and will likely spend the Saturday night so I can drive back the 1.5 hours in the daylight.  It’s too far and too much time away from all the animals for us both to go.

Nancy & John and all the critters

SATURDAY — Night sounds, music, food

We ended last week’s blog with the wonderful news of a found kitty.   Now we are back on a Sunday night to mention the day that started after midnight, about 12:30 a.m.   We had been in bed for a couple of hours, and our youngest and oldest dog began barking in the house.  I awoke and heard a dog barking in our pasture, so I asked John to please check on it.  We kept our dogs in because we knew they would just go out and bark at the situation.  John went to the back window and determined it was the dog barking in our pasture at our horses.  We had been forewarned earlier the day before by a neighbor that a dog from another neighbor was barking at our horses.  Someone was yelling at the dog to come back; John thought the episode was over and went back to bed.  Tne minutes later it started again so he got up dressed, and went to investigate.  He found the dog chasing the horses and the horses running down to the other end of our property.  Our pasture is about 7 acres.  John went and cornered the dog and yelled at him to get out.  He seemed to go back through the fence to his “home”.  John stayed out in the moonlight to check the horses and to put some hay out for them to nibble on up closer to the barn and house, and to calm them down.  The dog came back and John shooed it off again.  He then stayed up till 3:30 at the computer in the back of the house where he could listen to be sure all was well.  Later he heard the dog barking at another neighbor’s house next to us, who has pigs and a cow.

We were all ready to call the police in the morning to have them talk to the neighbors with the dog, because another neighbor had already gone to complain about the dog coming to her property and chasing baby deer.  Nothing was done about the dog.  Before we called the police, we called the neighbor with the pigs and cow and asked if they had heard the ruckus in the middle of the night and if their pigs and cow were bothered.

Turns out we had a soap opera happening, and the dog chasing our horses was a minor part.  There was an altercation in the house which has the dog.  The young woman, owner of the dog, tried to break up a fight between two young males. She got pushed about and bruised up herself and shoved out of the house.  She climbed back in the window to get back to her daughter. The fisticuffs resulted in a large plate glass window a major casuality.  That caused the males to head back to whereever, leaving the young mother and daughter alone and scared in a house with a gaping hole in its front.  She then headed to the nearest neighbors (they with the piglets and cow) looking for a safe haven. They took her in, but already knew there had been a ruckus because they had been out feeding an orphaned piglet and calming down their pigs and cow from the barking dog.  The two guests stayed till 3:30 a.m. when an older brother came to escort them – someplace?  At our place – the dog did not return, the horses settled into a mid-night snack, and peace reigned supreme.

We do not know the end of the story, yet, and we may never.   Supposedly, the brother and sister were going to report it to the police, particularly because of the damage they hoped not to have to pay for.  Daylight may have calmed all and discussion changed plans.

The rest of our day was spent on household chores, playing with kitty, feeding the animals, and looking at the sunshine.  This evening I went in for playing music at the Taize’ service, and we were served homemade chicken and dumplings, biscuits, apples, and cake (two types, choc & carrot) for dessert.  YUMMY.  John stayed home and had leftovers for his dinner.  I must say there was also a Vegan dish at dinner and I made the mistake of taking a piece of “artificial meat” that I guess was made from soy protein.  It was God-awful tasting.  Never again for me.  Even if I were a vegetarian, I could never stomach something so bad, not only the taste, but the texture as well.  We’re big on being able to recognize our food.

I didn’t get home till after 8:00 p.m. and still had some proofing of some GIS material to do for a friend.  Now I’m able to go to bed, and I should sleep well tonight, hopefully without any interruptions by the kitty or the dogs.

Monday.  Started with a phone call from the bank.  It will not be helpful to refinance our house loan for a lesser interest rate – our current rate is quite low and our payoff year not far in the future.  Next phone call from CWU to explain why my ending paid date was Mar 5, 2010 instead of the end of the quarter as I thought, when I thought I retired on Mar 31st.  And to find out why when I’m still being asked to write letters of reference I no longer can have access to student and past class records.  I requested it so I could better write letters of recommendation for jobs and grad school for my former students.  Being no longer on the payroll it is against the FERPA law

to allow me to view the data I have had access to for the past 40 years.  Very interesting.  There are good concepts in the law (protecting students) and some crummy consequences, as noted.

John made the best dinner.  It was stir fried chicken in a soy type sauce, onions, mushrooms, celery, and butternut squash on the side.

Here’s a play on numbers for you, for this year, 2011.                                           This year we will experience 4 unusual dates….1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11  NOW go figure this out–take the last 2 digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be this year and it WILL EQUAL 111.  Check it out.  It works.

Tuesday… lazy day at home, but I spent a lot on the phone trying to sort out things such as getting my Group Health to pay for the mouth wash to destroy bacteria in my mouth before they get into my blood stream.  Calling about seeing if I can find a visual enhancer (one is a closed circuit television; CCTV) in town for parents of a friend to try out.  The father has macular degeneration and hasn’t been able to read anything for over 2 years.  They cannot afford a machine to assist for $3000, so I’m looking for community or other resources to help them.  John found there are Lions Chapters that might assist with half the cost.

I also am considering serving (applying for) a position on the Board of Commissioners for the Hospital District here to complete an unused term.  Then it would be renewable in the next election.  I’m collecting information trying to figure if it is something I want to do and could do well.  If I apply, and I think I will, it would only last till Dec 2011, and by then I would know if I am interested in continuing, and if I have the support of the Board to continue.

John fixed some great stew for lunch today, but I don’t know what’s up for dinner.  Dinner was the same good stuff (leftovers) from last night.  Rest of the night I spent on creating a current resume’ for the hospital board application.

Wednesday.  Most of the day was spent on the application letter and resume for me, and calling more about the CCTV.  Also, we washed dishes and clothes, only to find out our dryer has lost its heating element.  So before we could go to bed John had to string rope for hanging clothes on the line.  A few blouses and pants I could put on hangars in various door jams and shower bars.  But now, we need to call a Sears repairman to come fix the dryer.  While here he might as well fix the oven/range door that is held shut with a bungee cord, and the dishwasher that is falling out of the frame.  Oh fun.  We have been putting this off, but going to the Laundromat to dry clothes is not our cup of tea.

Thursday.   Morning started with a phone call from a low vision specialist responding to questions I had given her yesterday.  Then I called Sears repair and found out perhaps one of our two circuit breakers on the dryer had flipped.  Indeed that was the case.  As the tumbling action worked we did not think of a second electron source for the blower-heater combo.  Amazing.  (or amazingly stupid – says John)

Then it was time for breakfast.  I spent the next bunch of time finalizing my application for the Hospital Board position, and got it sent off, just in time to eat lunch and go to town for a busy afternoon… that finally ended with my coming home at 6:00 p.m.  The fog was SO bad I had to drive 20 mph with my lights on low beam.  I wish I had the old yellow fog light that was on my old ’35 Ford.  I even tried my yellow flashing blinkers, but they did not help.  Tonight I have been answering emails, and now it is time to go to bed.  Where did the time go?

Friday was a really busy day.  Started early in the middle of the night with kitty Sunny pushing a phone off its perch.  It awoke us all, including 4 dogs, John and me.  Back to bed and then up at the regular time.  I had to rush around and wash my hair for a trip to town for my first therapeutic massage on my “bad” left shoulder, scheduled for 11:00 a.m. at the Senior Center.   (It’s a free service donated by the woman who performs them.)  That was a great experience.  I was quite surprised to realize the person was my student in 1997!  After that I went to campus for a scholarship luncheon in Barge Hall, the oldest building on campus – built when Central was established as a “normal” school.  “Normal” was the term for teacher-training.

And this usage seems to relate way back to the term’s use in ancient mathematics.

And if that’s too boring for you, try this: (dress and a word may offend some):

Lunch at the Normal School was super fun and good; tacos with all the fixings, and a valentine theme, plus Rice Crispies bars and molasses cookies for dessert.  Then back to the Senior Center for my SAIL exercise class.  After that I went to school to participate in the telephone interviews for my replacement (just listened).  At 5:00 p.m. I left quickly and drove home to pick up John, my violin, and leave the chocolate milk I had bought, and we got back in the car with the Pork Loin that John had cooked for the music group potluck and jam session.   This time he cooked it with plums and apricots.  Double yum.  Other food included green salad with crabmeat, chili, Hawaiian pizza, chicken and rice, potato salad, and a veggie plate.  Cookies for dessert.   We had a blast there and didn’t get back until 9:20 p.m.  Now we have almost caught up on email for the day, and we are headed to bed.  Oh, I have sat for 15 minutes on and 15 off and 15 on again of ice on my shoulder, as was suggested to help generate movement of the fluids in my sour shoulder muscles.

Saturday, to town after calling John’s sister to wish her a happy birthday.   We drove through a well known speed trap on our way in, and I was slowed (I always do, to the 25 mph limit there).  We mentioned how good it was we weren’t breaking the law.  Went on down the hill toward town, past the University, and in the rear view mirror was a flashing light on a police car.  I pulled over, wondering what I had done wrong.   Turns out my license tabs (on John’s car) had expired Oct 2, 2010.  We do not know how we missed knowing that and renewing, but we did.   The policeman asked to see my driver’s license, but I had to get out of the car to get in the backseat where I had put my “purse” holding my wallet and Driver’s License.  He asked my birth date and then went back to his car, lights still flashing, and must have checked our license plate on-line to see the car ownership (which he had also asked).  He did not ask to see our registration or insurance.  We found out when we got home, the registration was NOT in the vehicle glove compartment.  I have a feeling I brought it in after the last trip to Yakima, when I took all the information and receipts out of the glove compartment to file for tax purposes.  I probably brought it in (tag registration) because it expired  Oct 2, 2010.  I likely assumed the other was still there for this year.  The insurance paperwork was there.  He eventually came back to the car and told me he would give me a warning, if that was all right, because the other option would have been a $210 fine.  I thanked him and told him I would really appreciate the warning.  He suggested we go home and get the registration as soon as possible, and if we got it on line, to print out the paid note from on the web, to carry with us, until the tabs arrive (in a couple of days).  I came home and figured out how to do it on line, paid for it, and requested mail delivery.  Meanwhile, I printed the transaction and that it was paid now till Oct 2, 2011.  We guess the paperwork reminding us must have come in before the deadline, and we laughed to realize the deadline coincided with my retirement celebration.  We have been driving John’s Subaru almost 4 months with expired plates (tags).

After the excitement of being pulled over by a policeman, we went for a small lunch at Jack in the Box, and then on down to the City Library meeting room (large conference room), where there was an Ecology/Environment fair.  Several of my former students were there with poster boards and displays describing work and volunteer interests. [Example: Comparative tasting of bottled and tap waters.  Can’t tell the difference?  That’s the point, so why not drink the tap water and not use plastic bottles.]  There were representatives of the local Audubon Society, conservation folks, local food growers and more.]  We saw several people from the community whom we know.  After that, a short trip for groceries, and on home, into the fog again.

Oh, the other excitement on the web was paying for and downloading a version of Finale Songwriter, for $50.  I only had one more day of usage on my 30-day evaluation copy for writing and transposing music.   I only need to do one more song for my friend with the clarinet for tomorrow night’s service, and then I can branch out or up to new things.  There are still plenty of songs we play in our Fiddlers & Friends group that need to be transposed for the B-flat clarinet.

I will end this now, and pass along to John to put on the blog.

As usual, we wish you a good and healthy week, and we’ll be back same time same place to report to you on the latest in our lives.

Nancy & John and all the critters

SATURDAY — Lost & found

Saturday night and Sunday morning brought more rain, and there is flooding on WA’s west side, as predicted by John with help from the National Weather Service folks in Seattle.  The day was overcast and foggy till about an hour ago, when the sun broke through the clouds and displayed nice blue sky.  No trips to town today, so we have just been doing chores, mostly on the computer.  I have taken a break to transpose one last piece of music and also to send some pictures to a couple of people.  I will soon shift back to organizing tax receipts.  John is taking a nap.  I don’t think he slept well last night, but I did, for a change.

We really need to get an early start in the morning on MLK day to get to Yakima for a 9:40 a.m. appointment for me to have my 3-month read-out from my defibrillator device.  While down in Yakima, we will eat and go to Costco.  Because of the holiday, I won’t have to be back for 1:30 p.m. SAIL class at the SR Center.

I suppose I do need to get back to the office to read the rest of the files for my “replacement” position, but it won’t be on the holiday.

Today, MLK Day, is a holiday for many places, but I had to get to the doctor’s office for my device check.  We made it down fine, but had to dodge water on the road intersections down south of us, and I heard there was water over other roads downhill.  Most of the reason is that culverts beneath the road for creeks and ditches are not big enough for melting runoff of rain on snow.  Last night the wind blew (and is again this afternoon, gusting to 45 mph or higher I suspect, and the temperature was up to 44 when I looked at 2:00 a.m.

Yikes—they just recorded 52 mph gusts at the airport (5 miles south of us).  I think I agree, and we might have had some higher ones; we are also protected somewhat to our NW by trees, so out on the “plains” in the valley it is likely worse.

No more rain last night and today, but it is overcast.  Tuesday will find me going to school late afternoon and staying in town for a 6:30 music performance.  I am quite tired after awaking and not being able to get back to sleep last night for 1.5 hours.  Then I didn’t sleep in well this morning either (when I could).  Tonight I went to play music at a nursing home/rehab center up on the hill (nice that it was out of the flooding in town).  There are no such retirement or rehab facilities in West Ellensburg, where the flooding has been bad for homeowners.  The city carried in 90 tons of sand and neighbors are filling sandbags to help each other protect their structures.

We are fine where we are significantly uphill from EBRG.  We are at 2240′ and the south end of campus is at 1500′.  West Ellensburg is a bit lower, closer to the Yakima River.  The KOA campground along the Yakima River was flooded yesterday and today, and Irene Rinehart Park, along the river, as well.  No surprises there.

Decided today not to go to town for exercise, but to stay home and work on taxes and relax.  I have been run ragged for the past two days, and needed to spend time on that work.  Also, I’ve been working on getting materials together for colleagues at the university.  Although retired, I’m still involved.  Bless John’s heart, he just spent a bunch of time in the kitchen fixing lunch and cleaning up the mess we have piled up over the past few days.

Thursday came and went and is almost over.  I spent a ton of time on the tax receipts, some on email, some on checking the web for travel plans, some on cleaning the kitchen, and now we have 2 minutes till the spaghetti is done for dinner.  I have also been proofing labs and lectures for another colleague.  John went with me to town to the store while I was playing music at Dry Creek.  It was fun as usual.

Thursday, late afternoon, our kitty came up missing.  It’s now Friday night, and he is still missing.  John and I both thought we heard him meow tonight, but we have searched and searched all cubby holes and we can find nothing.  This is so frustrating.  I cannot believe we both heard a ghost at the same time.  His meow is a faint one when he is right in front of you.

Saturday, we heard sounds again.  Looked.  Found nothing.  We both heard sounds so we could not call the other one on a “senior moment” or any more inflammatory name.  John knew there were birds outside – mostly  black-capped Chickadees and a vocalizing Steller’s Jay. The Jay was at the seed feeder and doing an imitation of a Red-tailed Hawk. Explanation and photos here:’s_Jay#Vocalizations

Sounds, search, nothing.  Turn off the heater, so no fans making noise.  Walk around.  Listen.  Nothing.  Walk around, listen. Meow. Where?  Move. Listen.  Going nuts!

Finally, we found Sunny kitty in the garage. The door to the garage is via the wash room and into the kitchen.  John goes out via there and the garage when getting the dogs out of the house for their exercise or when searching in the chest freezer for something to cook.  John’s been watching for the cat at those times – tricky kitty made it out anyhow.

Now back after about 40 hours, Kitty-Sunny is talking more and louder than he ever has in his life with us.  He’s running all over the house and counters.  I think he’s trying to tell us about his last 2 days alone with no food or water.

He was always in hiding when John was in the garage — numerous times — looking for him… till today when I found him.  John had to lure him out with a string where he could grab him.  Funny kitty.  Not so funny all the concern he has caused us over the past couple of days.  We have moved many boxes in several rooms of the already cluttered house, looked under beds, behind furniture, crawled up over the oven for a view, looked behind the frig, and on and on.

John has gone to take a power nap, and Sunny is still roaming around meowing.  I’m also glad he never left the garage as John was moving dogs out to go for the morning and evening runs.  John opens the door from the back yard to the front and one dog runs out through the garage, right by the place where we eventually found Sunny.

He has to do it strategically in a certain way and order or the chaos at the front door elevates beyond an acceptable level.

Okay, John’s back up and around and I will finish this now to send to him to put out on the web for this week’s report.  I never got my afternoon nap, so I will just go to bed early tonight.

Some folks we know are in places that will be very cold this weekend.  We checked with one family in northern Vermont.  They expect -25 degrees Sunday night.  Ouch!  They have lots of good firewood up there (Maple) and assure us they are prepared.  In International Falls, MN it was -46 yesterday. Double ouch!

We wish you a warm and healthy week.

Nancy & John and all the critters

SATURDAY — Sky – beautiful and not!

Well, here we are, Saturday night, and John is at the keyboard posting past happenings.  I am in the other end of the house starting a fresh report — home after playing music in town and eating.  He went along too, to make a few stops, then came by and so did 3 other husbands to share in the food at Briarwood, where we entertained for an hour.  John only had several desserts, but I had a roll, 1.5 bowls of 5-bean veggie chili, with Chili Fritos & crackers, and also several desserts:  Strawberries and whipped cream on a Bundt spice-type cake, an especially good cookie with fruit and nuts, and a piece of orange cake.  I haven’t pushed away from the table yet – I guess I’m compensating for all the eating issues I went through last year, including eating nothing but very plain chicken salad and yogurt for about 6 weeks.  Now I don’t wish to touch either.

They treat us well at Briarwood.  We played and sang our hearts out.  They joined us on the singing and even a couple of people danced.  A fellow who lives in a nearby retirement community brought his C Key- Harmonica and joined us for two songs, and then played Auld Lang Syne.  We played along with him, quietly, so he could be heard.  It was very neat.  Made him happy too.

I came home and completed transposing 4 songs for our B flat Clarinet player for tomorrow night’s performance at the Episcopal church.  I had to fight with kitty, Sunny, who wanted on the desk and printer to help.  I know it’s good he is feeling more sociable, but he can be a pain.  At least he is doing better about sleeping through the night.  However, dogs and we still need to go potty about every three hours.  The diuretic medication I’m on doesn’t help.

Sunday.  Snowed at least 4 inches and I drove to town for the Taize’ service.  We had a full time of music, silent meditation, some readings, a few prayers, and a nice lasagna meal afterward with peanut butter cookies.  I took the remaining birthday cake of John’s and some brownies.  Another person brought a bowl of really good veggies, most of which I could eat while on Coumadin.  I shy from broccoli but cauliflower is all right.  They were cut up small and had an oil of sorts spread throughout the mixture.

Monday was an interesting day.  We worked on various projects before I left for town for exercise class.  We made appointments for the cat and the dog to go to the vet.  After my class I went by school to read job applications for my job replacement.  That was interesting.  I returned Tuesday morning to complete them.  I wanted to participate but it is a time sink.

Turns out our vet also cannot tell the gender of our new kitty.  We took him in today for shots and deworming, and made an appointment for a neuter, but the vet said it might be a she and require a spay.   Well, we’ll just have to adjust come 3 weeks from now when hopefully we can tell.  Till then, s/he remains “Sunny Kitty”, a genderless name.  Years ago in Iowa we had a calico cat show up at our front door that everyone in the apartment complex was calling Sam.  Turned out she was Samantha, and we called her Sammy the rest of her life.  (She lived to be 20 years old.)

Wednesday found us with 4 to 5 inches of new snow, but not as much as predicted.  The sun is shining and it is a pretty day.  We both had eye exams planned and they were executed with good results.  Neither of us needs a change in our prescription.  While I have some glasses somewhere that give me better than 20/20 vision and correct for an astigmatism, I have 20/20 vision with both eyes working together and a little less with my right eye alone.  The back of our retinas are okay too.  John has the start of possible cataracts, but they haven’t changed recently.  I also have a slight membrane that also hasn’t changed in two years, but when it does, I will have it adjusted by laser in the office, not the hospital.  I will know it’s time when my distance vision gets fuzzy.  That was good news.

John’s fixin’ a roast beef tonight and it smells so good.  He also fixed a piece of a Butternut squash.  I spent time in town again this afternoon for my exercise class.  Only 10 of us showed, probably because of the snowy weather.  We worked hard and tired ourselves out.

Thursday.  Off to play music and then afterward to a talk in the geography department at CWU, to hear a former student talk on the Naneum Forest up the road from us.  It was a well done talk.  John had his KVTR meeting tonight, but I stayed home.  I intended to make headway on organizing and filing tax receipts, but I never got there.  I played with kitty and kept him awake so that we might have a good night’s sleep without interruptions from him.  One of the dogs will probably get us up in the middle of the night, regardless.

Friday was a less involved day, with just the exercise class to attend.  I went, and John ran errands while I was in class.  On the way to town we saw beautiful cloud formations with rainbow colors. There were streamers and streaks and gossamer fabric-like patterns; either of fine droplets or ice crystals.  We were heading south and the sky had fluffy clouds and the colored patterns seemed interwoven with the Sun to the upper right.  We called some friends as, unfortunately, we did not have our camera.  Those with a camera took some photos but we all agreed they did not shine the way the sky had – and it changed rapidly. We were the ones with the longest view time but all agreed it was fantastic.

Saturday, it was all day.  We had a nice long phone call from John’s brother in California.  The rest of the day was spent on chores around the house and yard, although rain started in time to wet John and the dogs when they were outside for the  horse feeding. The mountains to the west are taking most of the water out of this system with only the highest peaks getting snow.  If it stays warm our snow will melt and we will have an early “mud” season.  The full snow cover reflects most of the Sun’s energy but the warm ocean-source air flowing our way is still slowly melting the 18 inches of snow we had on the ground.  We won’t have to worry about flooding on this (the east) side of the Cascades as the melting is very slow currently.  Folks west of the crest are not going to be so lucky.  Problems are already being reported.  The Puget Sound area is covered with loose glacial deposited material – designed for flooding, landslides, and trees tipping over in saturated soil.  The sky there right now – not so nice.

It is time to send this to John.

Best wishes for a good week, this coming one.     Nancy and John

SATURDAY — “Back away from the food, . . .

. . . put your hands up, turn around slowly . . .”

We ended the blog last week with Friday, so will start this on Saturday, January 01, 2011 with a low temperature at the airport of -1.  It’s interesting when you abbreviate the date as 1-1-11.  We have cooked, cleaned a little, fed the horses, dog and cat, but mostly done emails all day.  I manage to write a few letters to people who don’t have a computer, and to pay a few start-of-the-new-year bills.  John is making a big pot of his famous salt-free Chili for dinner and the rest of the week as needed for lunches or dinners.  Also there is a big container of rice steaming.  Yesterday we made some long distance calls but didn’t do any today.  It never got above 16 here, but was colder at the airport about 5 miles south of us.   We had lots of deer and birds hanging around today looking for handouts.

Sunday – The Taize’ music program has been cancelled until next week.  Suits me.  I will be happy to stay home all day and work on projects.  We have no other pressing plans.  By the time I drive to town and back and spend a couple hours in town, it is a time sink, not to mention the gasoline expense.  My car gets worse gas mileage in the very cold.  I spent two hours sorting and cleaning stacks of receipts off the counter between the den and kitchen.  It has accumulated amazingly over the past year plus.

Monday – I went in for a blood draw and then to the SAIL (Stay Active & Independent for Life) exercise class at the Adult Activity Center.  They have a new policy to help pay the bills and are charging a yearly fee for all AAC activities of $20.00.  I don’t mind paying that at all for the whole year.  My class is only $3.00 /quarter, so a lot less expensive than going to Physical Therapy and paying an insurance co-pay of $25 for 45 minutes.  The SAIL class meets MWF for an hour.  Turns out the yearly fee will cover those quarterly costs and allow us to participate in other activities, such as the first Friday of each month’s potluck with “something-main dish” provided by the center.  This week it will be baked potatoes with all the toppings.

I’m pretty worn out from all the exercise today.  We plan to make cookies tomorrow – chocolate chip & pecans; known by some as Toll House* cookies.

*While the  NESTLÉ® company still brands their chocolate chip related products as TOLL HOUSE®, the “toll house” legal “trademark” seems to have been lost in 1983.  The name does relate to an original stage line toll house built in 1709, near Whitman, Massachusetts.  Story here:

and here:

Once each year we take cookies and repay favors owed, including always to the people at Complete Computer Services when we pay our connection (email) bill for the year for the old account we have had since 1995, ( ).  They only charge us $5.00/month and that includes the occasional silly computer-tech question that John doesn’t solve on his own.  They set up this “blog” for John to provide “Nancy updates” and (for a reasonable fee) they also fix our serious computer problems.  They are a nice bunch (3) who love our homemade cookies.

It was cold today and tonight.  I couldn’t get my feet warm even with down booties and heavy cotton socks.  So, I found my garage sale wool socks from Eddie Bauer to put on inside my garage sale down booties from Eddie Bauer, and my feet are finally warm.   Only problem is the wool socks have dangling green balls on the laces, and the cat thinks they are meant for him to bat around.

Tuesday is John’s birthday.  We’ve nothing special planned, other than sorting receipts, except I have to call my doctor in Yakima for a report on the blood tests from yesterday.  It beats driving all the way there to hear them.  Turns out I wrote an email to his nurse and she got back to me that all the tests went well, and sent me the report, with my “number” and range expected.

Yesterday, I got a $40 savings from a pharmaceutical company on my $62 monthly prescription (Micardis).  It doesn’t apply to people with state or federal help with drugs, such as Medicare D, which I do not have, but is allowed for those with insurance co-pays.
Today starts the winter quarter at CWU.  Thankfully, I do not have to worry about being there and ready to go with 3 new classes.  Phew.  Retirement has its benefits.
We just had lunch: the foundation was a Marie Callender’s plastic dinner of rice, sweet & sour chicken – with added carrots, a couple of costly panko shrimp (flaky bread crumbs)  and several Idaho fries.  It wasn’t low in salt  but “reduced” by the carrots and the fact that we split it.  John fixed his own birthday lunch and breakfast and fed the horses, and entertained the cat.  We emptied the dishwasher and I am loading it, so we can clean a large Pyrex bowl to mix cookie dough in.  We double (perhaps quadruple) the recipe.  Turns out we multiplied all the items 6 times one year when we finally figured out how many we had to make to give away and still have a few left.   I always forget that until I open the cook book and find those notes from years ago.

Night was spent on the phone with various people who called; one, the longest, was from John’s sister Peggy wishing him a happy birthday.  Then after dinner we both spent a lot of time on the computer.  The kitty spent his time running back and forth between us.

Here we are already Wednesday, and we are back from town and still making cookies.  We didn’t start till this morning and made enough to take a couple of dozen by where we had planned.  John did that and went to get my meds reduction, buy some groceries, and then come back and pick me up from my exercise class.  It went a little better today than Monday, but I’m still sore after the long “lay-off”.  We stopped by our neighbors on the way home to pick up a nice chocolate frosted cake she made for John’s birthday.  Also stopped by the hospital for a blood draw (INR) to check on my dosage of Coumadin.  We missed doing it Monday this week, and it was due.  I’m only on a monthly check now, after it has been stabilized.  So that’s nice.   While baking the last couple of batches of cookies (we still have half the big bowl left), we are making spaghetti sauce with some ground beef John bought this afternoon.  That will last us a couple of meals.  John gave me the choice of a hamburger with cheese, and I declined, asking for this instead.  He is so accommodating, and finally happy that I’m again eating what he fixes.

Sunny kitty is now eating on top of a dog crate on the end of the table in the den.  It’s a great place for him with room to eat and lie down from his perch on high to watch the dogs below him.  He is “king of the mountain”, and now John was able to move his food from out of the window in the computer room, next to the filing cabinet.  Yesterday, he pulled his little bowl down into the cabinet, but thankfully, John had put a newspaper below so it didn’t all fall down into the file drawer.  He now has a bigger square bowl that is more stable.  He will come down the hall from his room, even in the middle of the night, to get his food when he’s hungry.  His water bowl and litter box are still in the back computer (bedroom), where he usually sleeps in the chair or under the bunk beds.

We got some more sad news of people we know losing dogs.  We’ve had dogs, cats, and horses and the average life time is in that order, about 10, 20, 30.  Folks we know got a baby African Grey parrot (now 19) and they average about 55 years.  I wonder if anyone knows why life spans vary like this?

Our kitty is cavorting and mingling with the dogs now.  He’ll get on “their” couch and walk among them on the floor.   He’s also growing and climbing up on more things.  He was eyeing the kitchen counters today and I told him no.   Wonder how long that will last.   He gets a little braver each day.  Still very playful with everything that moves, or moves when batted.  If it makes noise, all the better.  One of his toys is a medicine container with hard dog food it in to make it rattle.  Another is tied to a long shoe lace and hangs from the table.  He will play for many minutes batting it around.  We’ve heard companies are going to market toilet paper without the cardboard centers, but those are another favorite toy.  We need to start a web-campaign to prevent the demise of cardboard tubes.

Thursday was a trip to town for me to play music and John to go shopping and buy stamps at the P.O.  We had a nice afternoon.  Rained on us going in, but nothing serious, and there was sun in town.  We had some fog out here, but had had early morning sun.  John is working on the KVTR newsletter (Trail riding club), and I’m doing emails and need to transpose some music when he wants to take a break from the computer.

John took a break to come fix dinner.  What a guy!  So, I transposed the last two pages I wanted to do.  Then we ate, and now John’s back at the computer again to work on his newsletter.  It has to be finished, printed, and sent out Saturday afternoon for early delivery next week.  It has to be in the pickup box in EBRG by 4 PM Saturday or it doesn’t go until Monday evening. Mail we send to local folks bypasses EBRG and goes to a processing facility in Yakima, then returned to EBRG from whence it came, and hopefully delivered in a timely manner.   So if we wait until Monday it likely won’t be delivered locally until Wednesday and the meeting is Thursday.

Friday was a food fare day.  I had two potlucks to attend:  one at 11:30 and another in the evening with my music group.  John will be making a baked ham for the latter, and I’m taking cookies to the one mid-day.   Then I have my SAIL exercise class after.  I also played the violin and sang old songs at noon with an accordionist and the group there for the potluck.  They have words to the songs to sing along.

Friday we had an early morning call from a charity fund raiser in Manila, Philippines for the Spirit Lake South Dakota Native American tribe elders and children for help with heating costs.  I am always skeptical of those kinds of calls and ask lots of questions.  I got on the web to check their website and will write someone there about the authenticity of the call I received.  They started with wanting a $100 donation.  I asked where they got my number and address and they said it was from a list of charities we had given to.  I didn’t pursue that.  I know I just should have hung up at the start.  We had had a call last week from an organization saying they were calling for funds only in the state of WA for Viet Nam vets.  We checked that out and found it is a real scam and that the “charity” organizer pockets most of the funds.  I assume that is also the case with the recent call.  When I asked, however, how much of the money would go to the reservation, the caller claimed if I wrote RESTRICTED on my check, that 100% would have to go there and they could keep nothing for administration.  So, who sees to that?  And I wonder if the Spirit Lake Dakotas don’t have telephones?  I’ll take up a collection to get them some.  Send money, please.  Unmarked one-hundred dollar bills will do.

Great potluck tonight and good jam session following too.  John’s ham was appreciated, and there was chili and potatoes and salad, deviled eggs, bran muffins, and brownies, cookies, and angel food cake, and we took John’s chocolate frosted chocolate birthday cake our neighbor made for him.  There was plenty of food and we all ate a lot.

Today, I take off for a play date at Briarwood at 2:00 p.m. and they serve us a meal afterward.  It will be vegetarian chili.  I debated about taking some leftover ham to throw into the mix, but I won’t.  It’s probably already got more salt in it than I need on my “low salt” diet.

We wish you a good week, and we will chat with you next week.

Nancy and John


We ended the blog last week with Sunday, so will start this week with Monday for a change and it might be a short week, if we stop on Friday night.

It was a quiet day, so quiet I don’t remember anything that happened, and I didn’t record anything that day.  Oh, I remember!  I spent almost the entire day working on the web page for my retirement celebration.  It is long and has many pictures, so everyone who accesses it will have to have even more patience than taken to go through our Season’s Greetings newsletter for the year.  One must have a high speed Internet connection to view and also a WIDE computer screen to have it format correctly with four photos per line.  Here is the link if you want to give it a try:

The only other things I did were eat, rest, and play with the cat.

We did have the very sad news from Jim & Rosy that (one of our long ago pups) a wonder(ful) Brittany, Brigitte (BG) had crossed the rainbow bridge.  She was an incredible positive influence in their lives, as they were in hers.  She will be missed terribly.  We understand, having lost our Brittany family members through the years.  It is never easy no matter how you might try to prepare for it.  Brigitte was very special and they were able to give her a new life after a very rocky start with another family, a trip back to our home for a year, until we fortunately found her forever home with them.  Brigitte was Jim’s fishing buddy.  People on the river knew her by name and others called her “the dog who fishes.”  If you look on the link above about the retirement party, you will see a couple of pictures of BG, and can read how important she was to my life earlier this year when she came for a visit to see me in Ellensburg, in the rehabilitation center.  It was a very special day I will never forget.  Brigitte jumped up into the chair beside my bed to be petted.  Jim and Rosy also came to visit me in ICU, bringing pictures each time, so I was able to show off “our” Brittanys in their loving home to my care-givers.  Everyone was always interested.  Some of them John posted on the wall curtain so everyone coming in the room could see them, just like a greeting card.

Tuesday, was another less involved day.  No trips to town because our neighbor was kind enough to bring us the dozen eggs we forgot Sunday when at the grocery.

Today has been mostly catching up on emails, and playing with the kitty, Sunny.  He is getting bolder each day.  He loves to climb to high spots in all rooms.  “His room”, now has a clear track he can run to get to the window sill to look out.  He launches himself from John’s computer chair (okay- if John is there Kitty uses a leg as a launch pad), to an open filing cabinet drawer with a book placed in it for support, and up to the window. This has been the solution to finding a feeding spot that the dogs can’t get to.  In the den he is willing to jump up into my recliner, but not on command, yet.  He sits beneath me while I’m eating, begging for food as the dogs do.  He’s learned that trick fast.  They won’t beg from John, because he won’t ever give in, as I do.  I finally got tired of it and used a newspaper to threaten him, so now at the end of the week, he just lays on the floor with the dogs and doesn’t climb up.

Dec. 29th, Wednesday was a day for celebrating.  This day a year ago was the day of my valve replacement surgery that saved my life.  John baked a pecan pie following his mother’s hand written recipe from 40 years ago.  Still warm, we carried it into town to a turkey dinner with new friends — with talk about their times in Idaho, remembering our time in Idaho in some of the same places.  Returning home, we were greeted by our dogs and kitty.  After a moderate month our temperature has chosen this day to plunge.  For our return home it was about 15 and heading down.  We won’t get above 20 until about the 5th of January.  John says “I intend to turn the oven on, warm the house up, and bake a cake on the 4th – my birthday some 38 years ago.” [Nancy says that last number is bogus.]

Thursday:  scheduled to play music at Mt. View Meadows Assisted Living Home.  It went well, with an appreciative audience and a new addition to our group (a guitarist who sings).  She was my student 15 years ago and now is a biologist here in town.  She sent me a job-announcement to distribute to my jobs list, and I sent her back a thank you and a link to our Christmas newsletter.  She was back to me in a few minutes saying she didn’t know I played the fiddle (violin) and that she plays the guitar and had been wishing for a group to play with.  She fit right in and was thrilled to join us, and we were happy to have her too.

I went by the bank, deposited a check, and visited with people there over a cup of coffee.  They were so happy to see the condition I’m now in.  I had on my velvet black vest today with the white snowmen on it, and people really were cheered up by it.  Also went by the hospital to donate some money to their “foundation”.  It seemed like the right thing to do after all they have done for me over the past year and a half.

Oops!  Amazingly, I went to look for something in the retirement celebration web page, and found several errors.  I corrected those and changed a few more words in the text.

[John says my errors are inconsequential.  He suggests this web page:

The “oops” list: ]

I had cereal for lunch because I didn’t want leftover beef stew.  Guess I’m getting picky again.  Better stop that or John will quit cooking for me.  We had a nice roast (with onions & tomatoes), acorn squash and leftover rolls brought home from last night’s dinner.  We split one small piece of pecan pie (added ice cream) we brought home from the dinner last night.  Yum.

Friday: Well, nothing much happened today. The temperature struggled up to about 14, then gave up and started down again. I wasn’t going out anyway. John had to bundle up twice to check on and feed the horses. I did download another music program for transposing music for my friend that plays the clarinet.  Last one I used for 30 days and it expired.  There were some things I could not do with it, so now I’m evaluating a more expensive copy and one that will allow me to do some of the more advanced things (such as changing the time signature in the middle of a tune).  I had to change from 4/4 time to 2/4 time for only one measure, and I couldn’t do that with the old software.  The first only cost $10 but this will be $50.  I think it will be worth it.  I can do a few more things.  I maybe could have gotten along with the smaller version, but what the heck ?  I might as well give myself a nice gift.  It also has a way of inputting notes from the keyboard.  I will have to learn that trick.  Right now it is just putting in a note at a time by selecting-&-dragging the type of note I need and placing it on the music staff.  I did one page of music before I ran out of energy this afternoon.

Now it is New Year’s Eve.  In addition to the cold it has been very quiet out here.  Past tense. Was.  The neighbors started setting off fireworks, early.  That upset the dogs, even though they are bird dogs and used to gun shots. Not for years, though.

I’m ready to turn this over to John for corrections, additions, and posting on the WordPress servers. He will post this early Saturday – in the new year.

Nothing big is planned for Saturday or Sunday this week, the first two days of twenty-eleven or 2011.

So, Happy New Year.

May you enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets; babies’ smiles, and funny antics of puppies, kittens, and your human friends. May you witness the unfolding of the petals of a million flowers and especially enjoy every astonishing and miraculous beat of your heart. *

Nancy (& John)


*For the inspiration for the “May you …” wish, and many more, see:

SUNDAY — Boxing Day . . .

or would be if not for a couple of things (Boston Tea Party, Declaration of Independence, Revolutionary War, …, this is Sunday):

Beginning last weekend:  This weekend has been the most relaxing in recent months.  We didn’t have to go to town, and only had to feed ourselves, our animals, and play with the new kitty.  We did a little house cleaning, but not as much as we should have.  All weekend and most of Monday morning I finished sending our annual newsletter to folks, via email.   We will not be sending conventional cards this year, except to a few, who don’t have computers.  The letter was written with wide margins and is too long for printing to send with cards.  At least the news this year is a lot better than last.  I found the sad letter John sent to a few people last year.  I don’t know how he managed to do that with all the rest of the things going on.

He even moved me out of my university office, while I was in the hospital and the rehab center.  He packed 22 boxes of stuff and hauled most to our outbuilding.  We have yet to even think about going through that yet.  The house also has boxes stacked up in the living room, den, back bedrooms, and hall.  I never felt like going through any of this since I have been home.  I didn’t have the stamina, which has just returned at the end of this year.  Maybe in twenty-eleven, I will slowly tackle some of the clutter and we will have an un-Boxing Day.

The most important thing now is to make room on the counter for my laptop computer where I can enter tax receipts into an EXCEL spreadsheet.  Then I can copy totals by “code” from there to enter in the Turbo Tax software.  Oh, fun, but it will be, because we really need to get the taxes done.  They will be very complicated this year with all the things that happened.

One day this week John made a big pot of chili which is good for my low-salt diet. The only thing with salt was the can of chili beans, but the garbanzo beans and tomatoes were without.  It seems he will have to start with dried beans to get to a near zero salt concoction – will it still be chili?

This week marked the first day the kitty has ventured out of the back computer room and into the rest of the house with the dogs and us.  He’s gaining more confidence and the dogs are getting used to him.  This morning and last night, he was lying on the floor with the dogs, in front of my chair, waiting for a handout. If any of us move in the “wrong” manner he dives through a slot and disappears behind the chair.  His idea of wrong still eludes us, so while the situation is somewhat tense, it is getting less so.

Tuesday, we were invited to a Solstice party and were served potato pancakes.  We took a cut-up fruit cake along for the group.  People were asked to bring their musical instruments and there was some jamming afterwards.  It went well.  There were a couple of friends there we did not expect to see.  The food was pretty good, and there was apple sauce and our fruitcake and salad to eat with the potato pancakes.  One person also brought an apple pie.  I had several of the great Christmas cookies one of our friends brought.  We sang some songs, but I was the only one willing to play my fiddle.  Our friends brought several percussion instruments and played along with the tunes.  It was fun.  John thought if one is going to make real shredded potato pancakes then the rest of the food ought to complement those.  This wasn’t the case (except for the applesauce) so he came home and searched the web for an idea for next year.  The one he liked is artery clogging but the Winter Solstice (‘sun stands still’) only happens once a year so how much harm is there in this:

Potato Pancakes, Kielbasa, Caramelized Onions, Sauerkraut

Wednesday was a strange day.  It started snowing in the middle of the night, and kept going all morning.  We had over six inches before it ceased.  Our neighbors do not have 4 wheel drive and they are in their 80s, but needed to go for two tests at the hospital.  John drove them in, and also let me off to play music at Dry Creek.  We played (just 3 of us) in the lobby for a large and appreciative crowd.  They sang along on the Christmas carols and songs.  We stopped by a friend’s house for cookies and to see their decorations, and to receive a gift.  I left the gift there to display for Christmas because we don’t have an appropriate flat place yet cleared in our house.  Perhaps by next Christmas!  It is a plastic/crystal angel playing a violin – lovely.

Thursday.  We started the morning with a nice gift from our neighbor (different one) with a big tractor, who plowed out our driveway and the area up on the road in front of our mailbox and paper delivery boxes.  John went out and talked to him and his cousin, and thanked them.  John had just broken the handle off of the broom implement he uses to push snow around.  Then we played with kitty Sunny, and I got ready to go for a haircut at my neighbors.  Wow.   I have hair again grown back to be able to cut.  Another nice gift for the morning before Christmas Eve.  I was all pretty to go to play music at Hearthstone Cottage, and I put on a vest I found in the old chifferobe (choose your own spelling), in our bedroom, where we store seasonal clothes.  On the web you can see a picture of one that looks like ours.  Ours is walnut, and belonged to my parents, who were married in 1937.


Search Google images for the variety of styles.

The vest is black velvet, with snowmen, and a blue denim back.  I don’t recall where I acquired it, nor that I have ever worn it, and it was way too large for me, but I wore it anyway.  After our playing, my friend in the music group heard me talking about it, and how big it was, and offered to “take it up” for me on her sewing machine.  I was thrilled and she carried it home with her while I did other things in town, and I picked it up on my way home.  She has done alterations before for a theater group.  Perfect.  Now I have a lovely new vest that fits. I showed it to John and he had me link to this:

Thursday evening I spent more time on the retirement celebration page, which is still under construction, but can be accessed at:

Before I quit Thursday’s reporting, I need to tell a story that I had left out, but just told John the day after Christmas as we were driving to town.  He said I needed to add it to the blog.  So, here goes.  I played music that day (discussed above) and left the Hearthstone Cottage.  I had to park on the street because the parking lot was full.  So did my friend, and we left together.  I was closer than she and got to my car and managed to get in and shut my door before a car came screaming by splashing slush up on my car.  I watched as the car proceeded by Mary still standing by her car, with the door open, and watched in horror as she was covered with the slop by the inconsiderate driver.  I drove up beside her and got her attention to say I saw what happened.  She was sitting there in disbelief and said she was composing a letter to send to the local paper for the Thumbs Down column.  I left her and drove to the grocery store.  As I drove a few blocks down west I saw two people walking IN the street because the sidewalks had not been shoveled.  They were in their fifties, and looked like they needed a ‘thumb’s up’ experience, instead of what I had just witnessed.  I slowed WAY down and drove by them, waving.  I had not gone a half block when I suddenly pulled a U-turn and went back to ask them if I could give them a ride.  They were first a bit surprised, but quickly accepted and told me their names and I told them mine.  I moved my fiddle case over and got my purse, and the man sat in the back seat and the woman sat in the front.  Once in the car, they said they were going to the hospital, which was about 2 blocks down the street, and I figured maybe they lived near it.  As we approached, the woman said, just pull up there by the dumpster (behind the hospital).  I figured they must be in the apartments behind, but not.  She opened the door and got out and went past the dumpster to a black container to empty the contents.  Her husband told me they were addicted to nicotine but couldn’t afford to buy cigarettes and so she was getting butts and they would take the tobacco from them to roll their own.  Source shown here:

YIKES.  I smiled and told him he needed to figure a way to kick the habit, even though I knew it was hard, that I had lost my dad at 58 to a heart attack and he smoked cigars.  The guy said, ‘Oh my.  I’m 55.’  I said, ‘Well, you give me a Christmas present and try to stop smoking.’  He claimed he would.  She came back to the car almost empty-handed as someone had beat her to the container.  Then I still had the two of them, and didn’t know where they lived.  I asked if I could give them a ride home.  He said he had to go catch a bus (no idea where), but I said, you mean you have to go to the bus station?  ‘Nope, just to Bi-Mart.’   I assumed it was to wait for Central Transit there (free bus service around town).  He told me they were married but lived in separate places.  So, I took them there and realized she was not going on the bus with him, and so I offered her a ride home.  She said no, I can walk; I live right behind there in Briarwood.   So, I bid them adieu and wished them a Merry Christmas.  That completed my thumbs up for the year.

Friday.  We need eggs we forgot to get when in town, to make John’s mom’s Pecan Pie for sharing with the neighbors’ family for Christmas dinner.   Perhaps we should just go borrow some from them and save the trip to town.  John decided he had 3 eggs, and could make just one pecan pie to take along, so we saved a trip to town.  We have a half of blueberry and a half apple we have combined and frozen.  We’ll take it along too.  There are 16 coming to dinner.

Tonight we were having chili –I was in my recliner and John was in his chair across the room from me.  I looked up to my right (on a table) and Sunny Kitty was coming in over my pillows and blanket headed to my chair.  He came on over to see what was on my plate.  Nothing at that point.  I was holding the bowl of chili out of his reach.  Remember, he doesn’t like the recent canned food (pate’) John bought for him.  So, he was so interested and jumped down on the floor and back up on my foot rest.  I moved my plate down to the foot rest.  I put some chili, with tomato, beans and meat on the plate.  He ate the tomato and the meat and sauce, but not the beans.  Funny kitty.   We offered him some more fresh canned food later, and he declined.

He will still eat his hard food, so that’s good.

It’s Christmas Eve.  It is not snowing here, but we hear there is a lot in the rest of the country, Great Britain, and even Australia where it is mid-summer.

Christmas we will be going to two different homes for dinner and for dessert.  First is to our neighbors across the street and second is to our friends’ parents’ house out East of Kittitas.  We had a nice visit both places.

Today, Sunday, we went to visit a family about 12 miles south of us, in the valley.  Their girls are home from work and graduate school, for the holidays.   It was good to see them again.  Hadn’t seen the one gal in well over a year, as she is in Oklahoma. She brought up a USA snow-depth map on her lap top.  There is even snow in ol’home town Atlanta.  What a hoot!   I remember a snow when I was a kid in Atlanta, and writing 1951 on the windshield of our 1950 DeSoto.  I took a picture of it with an old “brownie” camera.  I’m sure it is buried some place in my mom’s stuff we hauled up from GA many years ago.  To finish our visit:   we ate cookies and fudge, saw their gifts and admired their Christmas tree and Gingerbread house cake with candies.

Will close now with hopes John can get this on the web for our regular readers while it is still December 26, 2010. [John adds: Read the “Sightings” thing at the bottom of the ‘Snopes’ link. Maybe today’s blog entry should be headed as Nancy’s emulation of Good King Wenceslas – helping strangers in the snow.]

We’ll be back next week.  Have a good last week of the year, and a safe New Year’s Eve.  It will be the new year 2011 the next time we write.     Nancy & John