Sunday, Aug 17
Managed to get the blog posted last night for a change. I started by being up early during the night and losing at least an hour’s sleep, so I slept in this morning while John picked squash, tomatoes, and plums. John heard some activity next door at our neighbor’s and we are sort of in charge of looking out for her place when she’s gone. He went over and found a couple of people there to remove a tree from off the garage, and another from a shed (once a chicken coop). When John yelled a greeting, the fellow with the chainsaw came over to introduce himself and said he recognized the voice. John had him in a physical geography class many years ago, and recognized his name. He had his 19-yr old daughter along helping load branches and wood into the trailer, and the last time we saw her it was when she was little. This is the same fellow I wrote up in my blog during my week away in Moses Lake (June 14 week), having met him in Starbucks! (He lives in Ellensburg, but travels all over the state for the WSDOT working on vegetation in the medians and on the sides of highways.)
We left before noon, dropping by for me to visit the tree trimmers next door, give them some produce, and then carry some produce to other people around our long rural block and on over 5 miles, to return a CD of photos of the fire our friends had shared (you have seen a couple week’s ago his photo of the retardant plane and drop). We also returned a map from another neighbor and delivered more stuff. I’ve been working most of the afternoon proofing a letter of intent for my former student’s application to a Ph.D. program in Canada, and now I have to finish writing my own letter of recommendation (LOR) for him. He was my student in a couple of classes in 2007-08, but we have kept in touch all these years. It got hot here this afternoon, so we upped (lowered?) the a/c and closed the windows. There was a slight breeze when we were out, so standing in the shade was not a problem. When it gets down to the 80s we will go to the garden to check on things. I gave away all my yellow pear tomatoes and want some with dinner. I went with John to the newer garden when it cooled down and took some photos and managed to get one of a fawn staring at the dogs and me from the area near our creek. Sadly, I missed the one with the mom also in the view finder. The picture below is focused on the weed just in front of me, but you can see the deer’s interest in us; mostly the dogs, though. You can also see the white spots. Shortly after I took that, the dogs moved in front of the mom and her fawn, and they bounced away to the “swamp” area on the west of our property.
Monday, Aug 18
Well, it has become a hot day out. I have spent a lot of time on the phone about medical appointments, a ton of time on email about letters of reference, and a multitude of other requests and tasks, not to mention chores around the den sifting through monthly receipts. I have yet to tackle other necessities for this month. John has picked up a bunch of plums this morning, blown out of our tree last night. Now he’s down working on firewood and brush underneath our huge Ponderosa pine at the lower end of our pasture. At 1:15, our a/c just kicked in. We had an afternoon visit in the heat, with our neighbor Allen Aronica from up the road. We shared fire stories and gave him some plums and onions. We delivered some produce to neighbors, and John grilled chicken for supper. We surely had many quail running around near the house at dusk. The sentry was on a fence post about 20 feet from the house.
Tuesday, Aug 19
I started with medical issues again, but this time with that of my neighbor’s. I listened to the dilemma and decided to offer my next week’s overnight sleep test appointment to him, because he is in much worse need than I, and the closest appointment for him is in November. They will be in Arizona by then, and I can easily reschedule for a later date.
John picked up about 23 plums and brought them in for me to clean up. We will make a plum delivery run in a bit, around our rural block, with squash and onions too, and a printout of helpful medical information for our neighbor who goes for a sleep evaluation tomorrow. This neighbor is downhill of us and shares our ditch irrigation water. Sometime ago, he had a 10-bypass operation on his heart. He was recommended by his cardiologist to have the sleep test evaluation to assess his situation because of the symptoms he was having. He does not have a computer, and John and I have been researching these issues since my test a couple months ago. I printed copies of some useful information, along with two signed copies of a professional letter to the Yakima Memorial Sleep Center doctor and staff, indicating my willingness and request to transfer my appointment to him.
I managed to post 7 job announcements on our NW Geographers list that had accumulated over the past two days. In addition, I made progress on my LOR for my former grad student to enter a Ph.D. program in Canada, but I need to transfer it and other information into an on-line form. Things nowadays are surely different from what they used to be for writing support letters or filling in forms for an evaluation of a potential candidate for a job or for academic entrance. Previously, it all went through postal mail, on letterhead, with hand-done signatures.
The winds have been blowing hard all morning and afternoon, and consequently, we received an outfall of plums. John picked up a bunch twice today, and just went out for the mail, paper, and brought in more than 2 dozen. I put 8/bag in the fridge for sharing with others, and left some for us.
Been terribly busy all day… don’t know where the time went. We went on an 18-mile round trip around the neighborhood in our rural area, giving away plums, onions, squash, and little tomatoes. We were gone the better part of an hour, and visited 7 houses. John just went out and brought in a small box of tomatoes, medium size reds (Early Girl), small yellow pear ones, and a few cherry tomatoes. We made a nice chicken chef salad tonight, using many of the tomatoes. We also munched all day on plums. I think I have almost completed all the work on my LOR form for my former student.
We figure we have given 100 pounds of sweet plums off our one tree for people to eat, freeze, dry, or make jam.
We’ll get some jam (and farm eggs) in return. We have been eating our fair share and freezing some. I won’t take the time to dry any as our freezer still has frozen dried fruits from the last 2 years. Below are a few photos of our produce production this week. I missed getting any photos of the large containers of harvested plums we shared around Ellensburg and our rural block. Not all the plums have fallen from the tree. John is also picking, so we have some that are intact – when they fall they often have wounds from hitting tree limbs or they split when they encounter the ground. Many of those have gone to the jam makers.
Dahlias still overlooking the newest garden.
Acorn squash, nearly ready.
Butternut squash, not so ready yet.
Yellow pear and cherry tomatoes.
2 cats, sister and brother, often visit John in the garden:
Woody (female) (above) is inquisitive but more standoffish than her brother.
Johnny (male) vocalizes more and will allow contact at feeding time in the hay loft but not in the yard or garden. He likes to supervise garden activities. I should mention we haven’t seen a mouse since we acquired the feral cats. We daily feed up to 5 ferals, and they have dry food available in their cat house all the time. Normally, it is only 4 who are in for feeding in the evening. They know the ropes. When John goes to feed the horses, they watch, and follow him back to the house (or have already positioned themselves in the hay mow, awaiting his arrival). We also still have our inside-outside cat, Rascal, who gets fed dry food, and canned twice a day. If you haven’t seen his picture in a year, or more), he is a spittin’ image of Woody, but his hair is short.
Wednesday, Aug 20
Off for Food Bank & SAIL, dropping plums by to Gloria & Paul’s on the way. Oh, I picked up a container (blue plastic folding box) from the free table at the SR Center and loaded a huge (probably 7-lb zucchini to bring my neighbor for making relish). We’ll get a jar of that too. Back for a haircut with Celia and to deliver a box of plums for jam. Added a few yellow pear tomatoes, which are yummy and will soon be coming on rapidly. A busy rest of the day. Winds blew & blew. John picked and watered.
I had a phone call from the scheduler at the Sleep Center reassigning my test and thanking me for donating my overnight test appointment time (8/28) to my neighbor. Then he called to thank me. All the people involved were impressed with my permission letter suggestion to provide him the opportunity. That made me happy to hear. Especially with the carefully guarded medical record information, I doubted they would take me seriously, but I’m happy they did. They also think he goes to bed early enough that they will get a complete evaluation in during the night, unlike they did with my first test. I found out some answers to questions I had about my first test from the scheduler, who was actually only filling in and normally is a sleep technician. So, that was very good. I was still upset from never having had any of it explained — other than, “just come back for a second test with a CPAP mask on from the start.” Initially we did not know enough to ask good questions. When I began asking her questions about my study, she responded with coherent answers. John and I have done a lot of examination of the issues on line and I knew more about it all this time. I do expect they will determine from the test that I am in some (?) danger of a low blood oxygen saturation level while sleeping, and that I will need to wear one of the masks at home. Talking to others, though, I seem to be in better shape than many.
Thursday, Aug 21
Morning brunch: French toast, bacon, and plums, fixed by John by sprinkling with sugar, cinnamon, and ground cloves. We are using a lot of the plums to cut into bite-size pieces, fixed as above, and we have started freezing some for future use. The 7 yellow squash plants are responding to less intense sun and slightly cooler temperatures, thereby gifting us with about 30 pounds of fruit twice a week. So, nice trip to town to drop off squash and plums with the music group members and to play music at Dry Creek Assisted Living home, where people have their own apts. We had a nice turnout: clarinet, viola, fiddle, and 7 guitars! Great audience with good participation and appreciation. We give them the lyrics and they happily become involved in the sing-along. John picked plums and squash today to take along with him to the WTA work crew tomorrow. He’ll leave here early to get to breakfast – what had been a Thursday tradition has become a Friday one. Mostly the breakfast bunch has assistant crew leaders (ACL) + the CL and gives all a chance to visit. When on a trail working they often are 50 to 250 yards apart and work with new or recently new volunteers – not with each other. I’m staying home to work on needed chores. He managed to get a beautiful bunch of hand-picked, non-split plums to share at lunch with the 23 people working for the day.
I received a phone call from an excited neighbor about the billowing cumulus clouds over the hills we have only last week been watching burn, sending plumes of smoke upward, creating clouds. We agreed it was not fire-related, but I looked for the radar imagery and determined it was NE of Wenatchee and about 50 miles away within a yellow-hatched marked thunderstorm warning hazard zone. John came in and found web reports that a thunderstorm was on the Waterville Plateau – as the radar showed. Here is the scene from the end of our driveway:
Note the anvil-head pointing east, the way the wind is blowing.
Friday, Aug 22
What an absolutely crazy day — it’s more than half over, with only 4 hours left until John returns from the hills, and I have spent all my time on the phone handling bill pays, or on line transferring money to pay them so that I don’t have to use a stamp.
Much time was taken trying to alter bill payments automatically through Discover, because my latest card (SAME number) has a new expiration date and a new security code. One would think a phone call would be sufficient, and it was in some cases but not in others. I’m stressed from the effort. Our local PUD (utilities) accepted my request. Our “local, NOT” telephone company will not accept, requiring me to come into town in person with my new card to change it. I’m very unhappy with that after being a long-term customer since 1989. Next I need to call my cell phone folks in Oregon and hope they will just change it via phone or on line. I refuse to drive to Oregon !! Happily, they took the telephone request.
While on hold, I received a phone message from my neighbor that his sleep test had been moved up 2 days, so my old one would be available, but I already planned for the upcoming 20 Sept one, and John has arranged to be out of town on a WTA event the next day, leaving before I would get home from the test. I thought I should call the scheduling center, but didn’t get to them until just after NOON, and they close at Noon on Fridays. Sheez.
The hassle continues with credit card requests. I have a request in to Chase Bank about a payment on a loan, which they said they are not allowed to do by Federal Law. The bank manager called me and explained they were not allowed to, but only could remove from our bank account, as a bill pay. Now I’m trying to get my Safeco Insurance for the vehicles changed. I would get $22 cash reward back / year. Every little bit helps. In the process, I talked to our agent (still in Idaho), who realized our payments were coming out twice a month for two different polices, and we have been being charged a $2.00 fee for each policy autopay, monthly. I asked if we could combine them, and we can, while also changing credit cards. The money I save will cover the premium for paying monthly rather than once or twice a year.
John called about 3:30 to say he would soon be leaving the parking lot (the WTA work crew location) and would be arriving home by 5:00 p.m. He had 3 ears of fresh corn to compensate for the plums and squash he took to give to the folks there. In addition, another person brought brownies for the crew. Just after he hung up, we started getting rain, which fast became torrential, and followed by thunder (and I assume lightning). John saw it beyond Thorp on his trip home, and the clouds dumping water.
He had moved buckets from under the roof line, and only part of the water was going into our 55 gallon barrel. I moved one 5 gallon bucket over, moved the barrel beneath the largest river of water falling from the roof, and was getting soaked in the process. I moved two other buckets and reached for one to put under another side of the barrel, but somehow my foot slipped, and I ended up on the ground, falling into the dirt and rocks off the edge of the wooden deck. I wasn’t hurt, but was laying on my side, and finally able to sit up (with rain still pouring down on me). I could reach a post, but couldn’t get the leverage to pull myself up. I sat there for a minute, moved myself up onto the concrete slab porch, tried putting my feet back under me, but they were only 6 inches below my butt, and I couldn’t get up. Our exercise class has been standing up from a sitting position in a chair, not from a lower place on the floor. I turned and saw behind me a box the size of a case of wine full of recycle paper. I pulled myself around and got on my knees and was able to use the box to push up on and raise myself. By this time I was totally soaked and had dirt, mud, and water over my pants and shirt, and my hair was completely soaked. I got back into the house and changed clothes to assess the damage. I will probably have some bruises on my left arm, both knees, and a bruise on my right thumb/palm, from hitting something on the way down. This evening before bed, I found a few small bruises, no broken skin, and a lump on the inside of my lower left ankle (it was gone by morning). I’m very grateful I did not break something, and that I was able to get up. Otherwise, I would have had an hour’s wait for John to arrive home to find me and help me up. The rain soon stopped and the sun came and John arrived about 30 minutes later. All’s well that ends well.
The Chase Bank crap goes on. I called my bank to see how to change the bill pay on our new Chase credit card account, so it would automatically pay the balance each month from our checking account through an automatic withdrawal. It took me an hour (literally), talking to two different people in the Philippines, to get the deed taken care of, but it still won’t be until 3 working days have passed and I reenter the system to verify some authorized (smaller than a dollar) charges, which verifies I’m the owner of the account. While on the phone I canceled our other Chase credit card (they have 15 types; this was called Slate – as in cheap stone, I think) because it had no rewards for usage connected to it. I also had to create an account on line to make all these changes. If a person doesn’t have a computer and a fast internet connection all these things would not be easy or even possible. The only reason we have a VISA account is that the charge to some businesses for using Discover is 7%. Our dentist gives us a 5% discount on our bill, if written by check at the time of service, so as not to use a credit card. They only take VISA or MASTERCARD, so that must be their charge.
Saturday, Aug 23
Morning was nice and after some outside things John put a chunk of boneless beef in the oven for a long slow roast. We will share another ear of corn tonight, with one left. Our own is filling out, so maybe soon we’ll have our own. We used a garden ripe tomato for our BLTs for lunch. The temperature has already exceeded the predicted high for the day; now at 83. John and the dogs walked up for the mail for about 7 pieces, all useless. Oh well, the dogs like to go. On the way up and back John brought in more plums, and a pretty tart yellow apple to go with dinner. The roast was super tender and juicy – having been cooked with our Ailsa Craig (from the Gaelic ailsse creag, which means fairy rock) onions, for almost 8 hours, covered, in a very slow oven (235 degrees).
When we went to post the photos and text of this to the Word Press site in order to publish in a timely fashion, the web site was down.
As you now know, it is finally back up, but not until late Monday morning. What happened was a server upgrade by our provider, but something went wrong, and this site was not operational. He couldn’t fix it until Monday morning, even though he was aware of it over the weekend. Perhaps we should post on a day when they are still open for business.
Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan