Autumn Equinox

Thursday, September 22, 2022 at 6:03 pm PDT
The directly overhead sun crossed the Equator, my time, as stated above.

Except for a windy Thursday the weather was great here. Elsewhere in the State there was a greater amount of haze and smoke.

The turkeys have stayed around. The newer visitors have been a pair of large sows.
Our neighbors to the east moved to the place that was occupied by an elderly couple – Mark and Helen, now deceased – that arrived after his work ended on the Alaska pipeline. The new couple Krista and Corkey have farm backgrounds and began raising pigs to sell to the 4-H participants. After 20 years or so of that, the operation is now down to just two older females – sort of part of the family. Pens and fences meant to keep the little ones in have become derelict and the two sows have been roaming over their entire lot – and now mine.
I didn’t have a phone number – dropped landline – for them and the visitors didn’t want to be led or herded by me so I had to walk over and alert the owners. There is a fence that kept a horse in but he is now gone and the fence and the open front gate won’t keep the old sows home.
Until there is “a fix”, I will have to add ‘watch for hogs’ to my warning to visitors to watch for deer. I’m guessing the turkeys will move on, although they were relaxing on the driveway yesterday morning.

Outside I’ve been cleaning up debris piles, making firewood, and doing a bit of landscaping. If I had a dozen workers for two weeks, I’d notice the progress. As it is, I know there is improvement, but it is not yet noticeable to a visitor.

Friday was a bottling event at White Heron.

From left to right Eric (in red) takes empty bottles and places them on filler-tubes (not seen). Phil (gray shirt, no hat) takes a filled bottle and places it in the corking machine (blue). I take the bottle off the corker and pass it to Audrey who places the bottle onto rollers where it spins and gets labels. Garrett is taking the finished bottle and placing it in a carton, that when filled will get carried to a pallet. I think we did 56 cases. Carrying and stacking is the most strenuous part of the procedure. A filled cased weighs about 35 pounds.

Up next in the news is a storm called Ian – expected to visit Florida about next Thursday with winds over 74 mph.
Here, I am expecting a week of nice weather.

Saturday a family stopped by with kids and Brittanys. The GPS led them here looking of geodes. I’ve got lots of rocks but nothing of interest except things we collected. They had an orange & white young adult dog and a smaller puppy of liver & white. I gave them a few things and a little advice and directions and sent them off toward Red Top Mountain. They were from Kennewick, 2 hours south.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan


Fall arrived

Locally the temperature got to 70 today, very briefly, but the 20-mph wind made it seem like less.
We are expecting 41 tonight (Sat AM).
There has been some rain, especially over the mountains, so our fire danger has decreased, and the smoke has been blown out of the region. On the Naneum Fan it is still dry, but it appears the serious fires are over for 2022.
Meanwhile the Atlantic hurricane season is on the downslope without a serious threat to the Gulf & East Coasts. Still time. Tropical Storm Fiona may have some impact on the East Coast but that won’t be known until mid-next-week.

My excitement for the week was getting a flu shot. I needed a subscription filled so while at the pharmacy I got the “senior” flu shot. I’ve had 3 Covid19 shots but not the 4th booster. I may get the latest and greatest about mid-November – before Thanksgiving. Currently, those have to be scheduled, but the flu shot is just a “walk-in”.

A flock of Merriam’s Turkeys came by today. They are not native here but seem to adapt well. The name is for C. Hart Merriam, the first chief of the US Biological Survey and all-around important person with numerous mammals named after him.

My photo lacks quality. I was outside with just the iPhone when the flock sauntered by. I have very little experience (expertise) with the phone, especially taking photos. I think there were 8, but I could not get them all in the frame. My driveway is on the right. I haven’t seen them for a couple of years. A year ago, I heard them but didn’t bother to go looking.

Geography is hard:
The Wash. D. C. football team produced a coffee mug for sale at games. The design uses the State of Washington rather than an outline of Washington, D. C. (formally the District of Columbia). The place does have a shape and a flag – who knew?

If I saw the image on the right, with a large W over it, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what it was. Have they made a collector’s item?

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Smoke, haze, boring

I’ve been cutting firewood and trimming brush. The new chainsaw works well but I’ve had to adjust to the shorter length. I’ve usually cut when the sun is low and I can work in shade. In the morning I clean things up and stack the pieces to continue drying. About half the brush will make kindling but it is fresh, so it is stacked out of the way. I’ve some splitting to do, and then get that under cover.

The Rodeo and Fair (and the crowds) are gone. Local schools are in business, but the University is still 10 days off. Thus, EBRG is sort of calm.

Date-wise, the Atlantic “Hurricane Season” is at its average peak with nothing to show for it. The forecasters at NOAA and other places were predicting above-average hurricane activity this year. Oops! And there is nothing showing today – it takes about 5 or 6 days for a disturbance near Africa to cross the Ocean.
Mid-Sept to November will be interesting. Either nothing or “a lot” will have meteorologists searching for explanations.

This image below is of Washington and Oregon. I’m the red star, Seattle is the green circle and Portland is the blue. The snow-covered top of Mt. Rainier is just left of center. The smoke to the Mountain’s SE is from the Goat’s Rocks fire – lightning caused in a rugged area. I spent a week within a few miles of there working on the Pacific Crest Trail.

The wind pattern over me is moving air toward the Cascade Mountains, but slowly.
The entire region is covered with a smokey haze. Mostly this is above me so I don’t smell smoke. It is thin enough that sun shines through. The Portland region is impacted because of the fires there.

The electrical power has been shut off over a wide region because of the danger of more fires.

I helped bottle wine on Friday. It was a Rosé from last year’s harvest. I left here at 7:30 and got home about 5:30. We had a long lunch at the house; more pleasant with the air conditioning – although it was fine under the shade of a tree near the winery.

That’s it for this week.
From The Naneum Fan


The heat is gone

250 miles SSW (south south west) of the Naneum Fan (red star), a lightning strike hit an area with very high surface fuel load: Short needle conifer with brush and downed material in mature and old growth stands. This is the Cedar Creek Fire and regional winds have carried smoke into Eastern Washington.
This has kept a forecast temperature of 100° to 10 degrees less.

Seattle and Puget Sound at the upper left; The Columbia River is the bright white line going across the map, WA north, OR south of that. There are no days forecast in the next 7 for a temperature over 85°.

Four items of interest this week.
– On Tuesday, my old chainsaw ran for 10 minutes and quit.
– On Wednesday, Brittany Annie – 13 yrs, 5 months – went to a grave under a Ponderosa Pine tree. This is along the trail where Nancy’s ashes are strewn.
– Third thing: Ellensburg began to welcome County Fair and Rodeo folks.
– #4: Thursday would have been Nancy’s 79th birthday.

The Fair and Rodeo folks will be mostly gone by Tuesday, the 6th. Local schools start then, but CWU classes do not start until Sept. 21st.

About the chainsaw: We bought a Stihl MS 290 in Yakima about 20 years ago. “MS” Stands for Motorsäge, which is German for chainsaw! It replaced an old Homelite. Over the past three years the saw became increasingly difficult to start and would run for 30 minutes or so, then stop and not restart. So this week I took it to an EBRG dealer where it was taken apart and diagnosed as terminal. No surprise.

$400 and some more, I have a new MS 250. The numbers, 290 and 250, are roughly indicative of power, so the new one is slightly less powerful then the older one. It is also lighter by about 1.5 pounds, and has a shorter bar or chain length.
However it is very similar, but does start, stop, and start again as they are supposed to do.
The saw manual has 10 pages of warnings, although I haven’t seen one that says the State of California claims touching it will cause cancer. Some are good tips, but I thought some were odd or unlikely.
In the drawing, note the ladder is resting on the round trunk of the tree (wiggle prone), the saw is crossing in front of the worker, and it is above the shoulder.
Do you think no one would do such a thing? Think again. And would a person cut the entire top off, not just a branch?
I knew there are videos on the web of bad practices and related failures, so went searching.
Watch the linked-to video:
8 minutes of idiots with a chainsaw {a few are deliberate}, for instance a couple of things are worthless before the tree drops on them.

There are dozens of failures but there are also professional “how to” do it correctly.
This crew – Top Branch – is professional. {based on the UK south coast}

There are others similar to this, and some with big complex trees. Good advice is to not plant, or get rid of, trees that will tower above your buildings. Removing trees is costly, and a failure can ruin your day.

Keeping track on the
Naneum Fan


August heat begins to fade

The wind was blowing hard today, so I took a break and went to town.
There was a gust today of 51 mph although the average has been in the low 30s. The temperature only got to 72°.
Next T/W/Th will be hot again, but the trend is down.

Weather in other places seems to be extremely wet (Jackson, Miss. and Pakistan) or extremely dry (France wine country and the Horn of Africa) . The hurricane season that was predicted to be “active” has, so far, been non-existent. The peak is usually in early September.

I did clean up a pile of old brush where I need to mow. And I cut a little more that was blocking an entry into the “swamp.” About half of the stuff, I will eventually burn in the stove. I need to find a place for the rest, so I don’t have a subsequent cleanup project.
Two bird sightings this week were interesting. A brood, or maybe three, of baby quail trekked across the front ramp.
This photo from the web is a single family.
There were so many skittering across the ramp, I will guess 2 dozen little ones and several adults.
The other sighting was Turkey Vultures in the early morning.
I saw one sail into view and land on a branch of a dead tree. The tree is just southwest of the house and about 150 feet away. My photo is from the back door; hand held, so not as sharp as desirable.
Anyway, there were 6, one to the lower left in a different tree. The close-up is from the web.

The visitors stayed about 2 hours. First 3 left and then the next time I looked they were all gone. From my viewpoint I could not see if they were up nearby and searching, or whether they headed for another area.

Other news:
#1: A year ago I ordered a new dash console for the truck. With the Covid Panic and backup at the LA Port there was a delay. Each time the local dealer checked the answer was “2 months.” That unit was finally classed as “back ordered” and a slightly different one was available. We sent a photo of my dash and If the one that is now in LA will work, it will be here in a week. Fingers crossed – I will soon have hand-free iPhone (Bluetooth) in my vehicle.

Sunday is a bottling day at the winery. A small batch only.
Then lunch. I’ll be gone from mid-morning until mid-afternoon.

From the Naneum Fan

Hot and lazy

There was the annual August picnic of the local chapter of the Audubon society. I support the local group by going to the talks that sound interesting. Members here take the national organization’s stance on human caused climate change – extreme – I don’t support the actions.
At the time of the picnic it was 100°F at the airport. The city park had lots of trees, wet grass, and shade. It was bearable.
There was an over abundance of food. Probably only half was eaten. I took commercial frozen pies (Key Lime & Chocolate), thinking folks would appreciate the “cool” factor.
Not so. I brought most of it home. Likewise, with other desserts, such as brownies and an apple pie. Those went home with the bringers, too.
A thought: most of the members are age 65 or above, and perhaps are not much interested in sweet things. There were 6 or 8 types of salads.
Next year {!?!} I think I will just donate some $$ to the area food bank.

Another observation: I mentioned that almost everyone was over 65. Many are older, and some of the original members have died in the past five years. Some look like they are also about to check out. I questions whether or not these aging groups can rejuvenate themselves. I’ll bet not.

I’ve done some mowing and cleanup pasture work this week. Not much because of the heat.
I have hundreds of old (20-year-old) soda and beer cans that we brought home from field trials – doing the clubs a favor. Originally I put many of these in the white plastic garbage sacks. Bad choice. They say biodegradable and compostable trash bags break down up to 1,000 times faster than regular garbage bags in the right environments. In practice they just fall apart sitting in a shed. Oops! I can clean up and re-bag some of these a few times a week – a big pain I try to avoid. Part of the problem is that a few years ago the cost of returning the cans was more than I was getting for them (8¢ pound). I didn’t bother. I think the price is now over 40¢/pound.

In the “Did You Know” department:
I stopped by the Sheriff’s Office to complete a form and be fingerprinted to get a permit for carrying a pistol.
The permit is for “concealed carry” because we don’t need a permit for “open carry.” The problem is that just by putting on a long coat or not tucking in a long shirt you can go from “open” to “concealed” without thinking about it.
The interesting thing was the finger printing. Ink is not used – they are scanned. That was problematic because I have very smooth skin where the ridges are supposed to be.
There are various reasons why this happens but in my case it seems to be a consequence of work with shovels, picks, rakes, and related tools used here at home and on trail building and repair. Who knew?
The standard wait time for the permit is 30 days. The cost was $50.25.
Randy, the greeter and technician, scrounged the office for the 25¢ because it was going to cost $2 to use a credit card. I told him I’d bring him a few quarters to help out the next unlucky soul that needs one.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print.
Keeping track on the Naneum Fan


Dog Days of Summer

The heliacal rising of a star occurs annually when it first becomes visible above the eastern horizon at dawn just before sunrise (thus becoming “the morning star”). Historically, the most important such rising is that of Sirius, which was an important feature of the Egyptian calendar and astronomical development. Sirius is prominent in the constellation Canis Major, (the Greater Dog). It became known as the precursor of the unpleasantly hot phase of the summer. Greek poets even recorded the belief that the return of the bright star was responsible for bringing heat, fever, and sudden thunderstorms. [Nancy named a puppy Sirius Sashay, and Shay became her favorite Brittany.]

On the left is the major stars of the constellation as they reside in the sky. With tilting and artistic interpretation, we get the view on the right.

The 24 hour period ending at 1 AM Thursday of this week is an example of dog day storms. The red dots on the map are lightning spotted from satellites. There were clouds to my north and northwest but I neither heard not saw storm activity.
To my south, the sky was picturesque.

This view is from 150 yards east of the house. I was there looking for rocks, branches, twine, or anything else that might be in the way of mowing down through the grass and weeds.
Why?, you ask.
Way down, near the center, a tree along the irrigation ditch tipped over. I wanted to get it out of the way, and it was still rooted and green. After mowing a lane wide enough for the truck, and a turn-a-round at the tree, I was able to pull it – including roots – out of the way of the water.
This also brought the still green leaves down where the deer can get to them and the recycling of elements can begin. Further, the leaves won’t be drying, falling, and becoming additional fuel. Win- win, as they say. The work of converting it into firewood is yet to be done. I t won’t be ready until fall of 2023.
I left a gate open, and the doe led her two little ones through, around the house, and bedded down under the covered area near the (west) back door. That sliding patio door has a plastic flap for a doggy/cat entrance. So, I went out a different door and came around and carefully herded them back out the gate. They settled under the walnut trees on the east side.
She was lying beside the one seen under her belly but popped up when I said “Oh shist!”

Just as an observation, in recent days I have sent six emails to folks that I very much want to contact. The responses are either slow, none, or partial.
Does “Dog Days of Summer” justify this?

Photo source unknown.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Last plant of the week

With the riding mower working I have been out morning and evening cutting the massive growth – grass and weeds – in the pasture. It is a slow process because of the thickness of the material and the roughness of the surface. The color now is mostly beige, except for the Curly Dock.

This is an interesting plant that some people eat, but not me. Click the name in the box:

Curly Dock

Animals won’t eat it, either recognizing its toxicity or not liking the taste and smell. If you care for more info about that, see the following:

I cut a few strips, strategically to slow a fire if one should get started (There is a fire 20 miles to the east.), and to allow me to walk, cut, and bag the weed. In the photo below, the rust-colored Dock is seen on the left.

I intended to spend a bit of time cleaning up some things in the shed. It was occupied by a family of deer. I decided to do something else.

I had to have a truck tire replaced. There is a local tree called Washington Hawthorn, emphasis on thorn. One of the thorns pierced the sidewall of a tire; only 15,000 miles on it. $360. Ouch!
Here’s the rub. In trying to save money heating the house with home-grown wood, I ruined a tire. Years ago I had the tires of the garden cart filled with foam because the thorns punctured the tires repeatedly. They don’t go through the tread of auto tires, but the sidewall is not as tough.

I will mention that the tree doesn’t grow large, has pretty blossoms, and fruit. It is also one of the hardest woods I have encountered.

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan

John H.

July ends hot!

Here is the best color on the Naneum Fan this last week of July.

Often called “Yellow slime mold”, but it is not a mold nor a fungus.
Named Fuligo septica.
Interesting Scandinavian folklore

Great photo here:

Mine is on the top surface of a butt of a cottonwood that was too hard to split. This does not fit with the habitat description usually given, but it looks like the second link photo from Mt. Rainier.
A sometimes name is “dog vomit”. A couple of days after the bright yellow look the stuff has coalesced into a smooth brown and yellow that does resemble dried vomit.

This image gives me a chuckle. I can’t find the original source. It appeared on an Ohio police site in 2019 and has been seen in a dozen other places since then. No offense to poodle lovers.

And writing of guns: I carried most of mine over to the winery. Phyllis fixed supper and we were joined by another couple, he a part time dealer in guns.
The plan is for him to sell those old ones and then I’ll buy a semi-auto pistol. The cash will be more than enough. The extra will be available to pay for the high-priced gasoline now being sold. Make and caliber not yet decided.

Today, Sunday, is the last of our “heat wave” – also called summer.
I’m 180 miles from the Pacific Ocean and have a mountain range in between. This makes for a hot and dry July and August.
The graphic here shows the daily highs in yellow and the lows in green.
Last year June was the hottest. The last 2 weeks of July, this year show almost an exact fit. We are expected to cool starting Monday and be down to 78° on Thursday. Beyond that, they are not sure.

Other happenings.
The 1983 Fleetwood travel trailer is gone – to Megan and Kevin’s place. She is the CWU geographer and head of the scholarship committee. Their place is about 5 miles away. Kevin is a handy type and can fix the couple of injuries the outside has. Inside is 99% great.
Over at the vineyard, the well/pump is failing. A new well was drilled this week with a 10” diameter. It will take a few days to reconnect. Cameron has the small backhoe to dig the trench. That’s good. Meanwhile the vines haven’t gotten there full need of water, each block getting 3 hours rather than 4 hours. Still they look good.
About 9 miles down river is “The Gorge at George” – a major musical festival venue. The place was visible last evening with the stage and lights. Something called “Watershed Festival” was in progress with Sunday be “country” day. I recognize Miranda Lambert’s name and can put a face to the name, the others are not known or not as well known to me.
It is a nice setting and Cameron was the wine maker there for awhile.
Google Earth will take you there: Search for “Gorge Amphitheatre”

All for now
Keeping Track on the Naneum Fan
John H.

Dog days of summer are early

Keeping Track July 24 2022

The area is about to have a week of hot weather. Here, perhaps, it might get to 100°F. Or it may not. This time next week the answer will be known.

My garden, such as it was, now has only yellow beans, and three sunflowers. The snow (sugar pod) peas are in the freezer and the onions are in the shed. Drying and cutting the roots and tops will get done as needed. The ones that “bolted” I intend to cut and freeze. The good ones will last to Christmas time.
The plumb trees still need watered even though only one has fruit. Spring was too cold, too wet, and too windy. There is always next year. I will get a few raspberries. Also, I’ve been promised a box of Italian Plumbs by Megan Walsh, a CWU geographer. She lives 5 miles to the SE.

I went to EBRG with four or five stops planned. Safeway advertised a couple of things I wanted but were out of one. I got a rain check, even though rain had nothing to do with it. Two loaves of bread {why loaves and not loafs?} rang up for $1 more than advertised. That required dealing with a salesperson and using my same credit cart, adding back $2 to my number. I then went across the street for a haircut.
At the next stop, 45 minutes later, that credit card was not in my wallet. Back to Safeway, I went. Their security cameras showed me using the card and then starting out toward the door with the card.
I went through the first set of doors, took my 3 items, left the cart. So where did the card go?
I used my trusty iPhone and found a number for Visa/Citi/COSTCO.
Using a voice-automatic system, I was able to place a “lock” on the card and hear the latest transaction. It was my purchase from the hour before.
I have to do a thorough search of the truck with a passenger side filled with stuff. I was running late, and the temperature and sun caused me to not do more than that. I looked some at home in the shade of the shed but did not find it.
With the “Visa Quick Lock” in place I could go about my tasks and get to the neighbors for an early supper. Thanks Kathy & Dale.

The phone and Visa system allowed me to place a “lock” without knowing the card number. I think I had to give my name and social security number, and maybe my zip code. I did, unnecessarily, end up talking with a person and it might have been him that asked for the zip code. Because of the system, I did not have to rush home to use the computer or home phone to accomplish making the card useless – assuming I dropped it and it was found by someone that might try.

Visa uses the term “Quick Lock”,
Discover uses “Freeze It”
Other companies have similar things, but there may be variations. Locking or freezing your card does not necessarily lock all transactions from being processed. The action is primarily on point-of-sale or one-time uses of the card. If you have charges that are classified as recurring, those will continue to be processed.
Anyway, there is more work to do. I was also asked a security question – the one about first pet or something. Over the years, Nancy and I have used 4 or 5 of these. At one time she used “peep-peep” – a pet chicken from childhood. Mostly we used dogs and horses. Yesterday, I answered with our (together) first dog; the correct answer was a more recent horse.
When I said the dog’s name (wrong), he gave me the first letter of the horse’s name. That worked.

Next post, I’ll show a weed or two. For this week my photos are of deer.

One morning there were 3 little ones under the shed-roof with the truck. That photo is from a bedroom window. The velvet-antlered one was walking just outside the fence two mornings later.

Keeping track,
from the Naneum Fan