Celebrations

Saturday, Jan 4

John’s birthday -now he’s caught up with me, but claims he is 38

Cover of a birthday card with a old style wooden basked with apples, yellow flowers, and black capped chickedees
From a couple that got apples
from John last fall

We will start this week’s blog with Saturday, because we were so busy in the morning trying to post the blog that we didn’t get anything written. It was a full day. We first worked on that, and then after all the morning chores, got ready and took off before noon for White Heron, for a great celebration. Here’s a photo to tempt you to follow the links below.  Click on the picture below and concentrate on the cheese, the rack holding it, over the hot coals, with the fire in the background.

A fire scene with 1/2 wheel of raclette cheese on a skewer; John H. in background with wine; waiting for the cheese to melt
January in the vineyard

First is the Raclette of 2013, or last year’s party in the vineyard. I am in the process of making one for this year. I plan to have it almost completed (in draft form) by the time this blog hits the airwaves. With that said, here is the Raclette of 2014. Minor changes many occur later, but they will be minor.
These pages describe the annual celebration Raclette for the grapevine pruners who volunteer their time for many mornings during the ending days of winter. This year the date fell on John’s birth date and so we shared a cake baked by one of the pruners that has walnut trees, so walnuts were a component. Last year the Raclette was on the 5th and we didn’t mention the birthday so no cake. Also, better this year was the weather. Last year was cold and we got snowed on. It took all the next day to warm our feet. This year was warm(er) with sun and we carried along some of our stockpiled firewood as a precaution. Really though the raclette is historically a pruner’s meal cooked over stems and pieces of vine cuttings and we try to have some grape wood on the fire at all times. We shared excellent food and companionship. The cheese is imported as a full wheel and picked up in Auburn, WA. For some background reading see the post here and then click on the ‘next’ with arrow at the top right of the page. Nancy disagrees with the explained pronunciation of Raclette. It should be on the second syllable, not the first.

Sunday, Jan 5

Today was involved with rest, recuperation, and chores. John managed to do the normal ones, and then moved 15 bales of hay from the shed to the lower pasture into an old horse trailer from where he can feed the horses in a protected area from the wind when it is gusting hard. I’ve been multi-tasking, working on a number of projects today, none of which is finished. John just ordered a microwave via Amazon, with shipping included, for a good price on a “new” unit, Panasonic. NN-H965WF, delivered to our door. Our rotating spindle has been failing for months (or at least groaning), but finally almost bit the dust completely today, and tonight it was difficult to warm the smallest thing. I completed a recommendation for a friend, a geographer, in another state, and added more to the Raclette web page story for this year.

Monday, Jan 6

I should be going to exercise at the senior center today. Instead I’m staying home to tackle more projects and, tomorrow will be the same. I decided to share our purchase of a new microwave here. Check amazon.com for Panasonic. NN-H965, and click on the type you want, (we picked Panasonic. NN-H965WF ) and then go down the page for “Panasonic Genius 1250 Watt Sensor Microwave w/Inverter Technology” and open. Go down the page between Financing Offers and Product Details, to Special Offers and Product Promotions. Follow the link there. We bought this one (with this description; read them all very carefully).

Used – Very Good Item is in original packaging, but packaging may come damaged. Item has no cosmetic scratches or blemishes. Item has no cracks or dents. All accessories are present and undamaged.

John wrote the following in an email to his cousin’s daughter in PA, today —

Change of subject 1: Speaking of noises – our 10 + or – year old microwave oven started making odd sounds – again. Last year when this happened I cranked the turn-table in opposite directions a few times and it began behaving again. I assumed it was gunked up around the shaft as our house (4 dogs, 1 cat, and me) has lots of unimaginable dirt, dust, hair and on and on, floating around. This week the microwave’s complaints are more persistent. Amazon had some “used” ones of a highly recommended model. The descriptions seem to say something like: These were returned but are actually 99.999% new. One is mentioned as having a scrape on the top ¼ x ¼ inch and another doesn’t have the manual, and so on. Anyway, the used model saved us about $100. Arriving Wednesday We’ll see. –end quote–

The shipment came from a warehouse next to the Cincinnati airport – one of the few places we’ve flown into when the pilot pulled away with just moments to go and made a second try at it. It was windy. Interesting with the river just there north of the airport (in Kentucky).

I spent too much time on the request for my voice mail at CWU on 3571, but it was worth it. It is now fixed. John received a big box of goodies from his sister for his birthday. It’s full of neat things including candy and cookies and old family photographs (even of him as a baby), and of us before we were married, visiting with his grandfather in PA. The goodie box included a 1958 high school yearbook when she was a senior and he was an underclassman, and there are a number of his pictures in it.

The weather is getting nasty — it grappled on us late last night.

Tuesday, Jan 7

All day was a little overcast and sprinkles, with freezing temps, so at one time the ground was white, but didn’t stay. I spent a lot of time trying to work on arranging for Long Term Care Insurance payments, and other normal chores of the day with bills, receipts, filing – all fun stuff. I worked a little on the web page about last Saturday’s outing to White Heron.

Wednesday, Jan 8

Food bank for lunch playing music and SAIL class afterwards. Got my meds but didn’t go in the store — just to the drive-thru window. At the soup kitchen they served us a nice lasagna dish with large meatballs, a mixed green salad, and a great apple cobbler-type dish, with more apples than cobbler. We had a little snow this morning, but not enough to be a problem on the roads. On my trip home, I drove back up to within a couple miles of home, into a dense fog. While I was gone our “new” microwave was delivered. We still need to get it out of the box, but first we have to empty the dishwasher, and load the dirty stuff from the counter and clean that up. John fixed a nice pizza tonight for our dinner.

I’ve been working tonight on several projects, the most important of which is getting the photos and videos processed from my camera for the Raclette / Birthday Jan 4. I’m running out of time to get it completed before the blog goes out this weekend. Maybe it will remain under construction for awhile. Also tonight I tackled one box John uncovered, and sorted through things to take “gift” to my geography colleagues tomorrow. Stuff leftover from my teaching days… including materials and books and even a baseball cap from a local hay exporter where I have done research since 1988.

Thursday, Jan 9

This morning, John took the old microwave off the counter and “installed” the new one. It’s pretty nice, 1/4″ higher, and the circular glass tray’s radius is at least an inch more than the old one. Everything was perfect and had not been opened inside the packaging. There was noticeable wear on the packaging. It came from China (boat or plane?) and then to places in the US (planes, trains, trucks ??). Perhaps the damage on the outside glossy cardboard was enough for the store to refuse acceptance, and we got a deal on a new one for $100 less, plus shipping was included (paid for by our Prime account with Amazon… and delivery from Cincinnati was 2-day Air. John took this photo.

A white Panasonic microwave oven with many colored items on and about it; paper towels, red onions, plastic orange spoon and more
Memorize objects and colors;
quiz at the end!

How this business plan works is a mystery. This stuff is designed and then made in China and moved through several places by many people but cost about the same as a few pieces of lumber at the local dealer. Early ones cost about $50,000 using today’s inflated dollars.

This afternoon was full! It’s a bit cold and nasty to work outside so we both went to EBRG. After we dropped off a box of treasures from my past with the addition of 2 pounds hard candies, John let me off at the Rehab music gig. I carried several things in for others in our music group. We went sale-shopping again when he picked me up. He’d filled my car with gas, bought some groceries, and gone to Bi-Mart for some items, and while there found a 5-shelve plastic unit for putting things on like cans of veggies and package goods. Set-up will require moving/throwing-out some things in the garage. This is part of the rural lifestyle – buy in bulk routine. Thus far, it made it in, in its package, but it is not yet assembled.

Friday, Jan 10

Stayed home today to attempt to finish some more projects. Last night John fixed a stroganoff type of thing with potatoes, ground beef, mushrooms, yellow pepper, and celery. Tonight we had leftovers and will freeze the rest. For lunch, we had egg rolls, pineapple and orange pepper, with chocolate for dessert. I worked on the “books,” piles of stuff, and also gave John his much-needed haircut. Now we have no parties to attend to show it off. We decided against going to our friends celebration (for their son’s new Firefighter job in Yakima) at their house in Maple Valley, WA (across the pass). The weather is forecast to be very winter like, with snow up to a foot and 46 mph winds, and we would be traveling home in the dark.
Been slowly transferring 2-3 CD albums / day to make into .mp3 files to put on my car player. These came from a lady in my exercise class who had quite a collection she gave me part of in a large leather zipped folder. She’d given me a few others earlier, but this came as a huge surprise. It has 16 pages and each page holds 4 CDs, so wow, 64 albums, mostly country, but all sorts of different performers, including: Ricky Van Shelton, Anne Murray, Alan Jackson, The Statler Brothers, Jessi Colter, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, Lacy Dalton, Lorrie Morgan, Reba McEntire, and people I don’t really know, such as Rita MacNeil, Lila McCann, and Nana Mouskouri, but they are singing familiar songs.

Saturday, Jan 11

This morning started with blue skies and sun, but dark-colored gray clouds are forming to our northwest, and we expect rain this afternoon. By Sunday am we could get some snow. It definitely will be bad on the pass, and in fact, winds last night put 75,000 without power in the Puget Sound area. I’m sure our decision not to travel across the pass this afternoon and evening was wise. Here is what the NWS thinks will happen: “Total snow when it finally tapers will be 18 inches to 3 feet . . . with the highest amounts on the volcanoes. … On the coast, waves of 25 to 28 feet are expected.” Sprinkling started here about 4 o’clock. In anticipation thereof, John fed the horses about 3.

Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan

Mice, cheese, and Perihelion

. . . and other things to celebrate

Sunday, Dec 29

Happy to awake this morning — 4 years after my heart valve replacement surgery. We should have thrown a party – but no – we drove to town to meet a friend to exchange some merchandise I got off the Buy Nothing Kittitas County site– that is stuff freely shared. What came today is a nice vase in which I put my dried wheat to remember my horse Frosty by, although he didn’t ever have wheat, at least while living with us. He did get a few rolled oats and these look somewhat similar. I have a tiny bale of hay somewhere I will find to put beside it. Meanwhile, the photo below shows the before and after photos of the grain in a can (John’s idea of class) and then in the “new” vase. I am putting both in for comparison, because the left was taken with a flash, and the right was not. [John says: We get bales of wheat straw to spread around places where the ground is more dirt (when wet = mud) than grass. There is still lots of grain in the straw and, what birds do not pick up or the dogs trample, produces a small crop of wheat; maybe 2 or 3 pounds. Most I leave. I clipped these last fall and they have been in the kitchen. So how many folks have seen a field of ripening wheat blowing in the wind?]

left photo of a dozen wheat heads in a can; right same in fancy container with a red rim and a blue flower on ceramic
Not so classy versus classy vases

Two other things in the bag of free goodies are gifts for others. One is a set of nice place mats from Pier One Export, reversible for blue or brown, with a centerpiece. Bamboo sticks fit into some loops on either side of the place mats, except for the centerpiece. I will give them to my friend, who sews for me, and who borrowed some linen napkins from me to use and others my mom made — she wanted to use as a pattern. Another item in the package is a chicken-shaped planter that I will give to my friends for their patio. They have larger ceramic chickens in their kitchen on the top of their cupboards. While in town we bought a few food-stuffs and stopped for a quick lunch at Burger King. Also, we brought home two BBQ rib sandwiches ($1 each). The meat was a small flat slab with zero resemblance to a “rib” and didn’t look promising but we removed the raw onion and pickles and replaced with Havarti cheese, caramelized onions, and put them in a hot oven for 3 minutes.  With some canned peaches, we survived. I am still (again) working on music for next week (which will last our group for 2 months). Finally, have Buffalo Gals in with the chorus first and four verses at the bottom. We had three different versions and weren’t doing well at all; in addition, our words in the lyrics for the audience did not match our music score. I need to figure out the time spent on each to get it to a finished product ready to mail. Then I will have to print some for people in the group who do not have access to a computer (or one with a printer).

Monday, Dec 30

A day of catch-up, not catsup or ketchup! First emails, then music, then clean up some stuff in the house for recycling or re-homing items. Plans for a few other chores. Yeah, best laid plans of mice and men. I am skipping a trip to town the next 3 days. Our group plays again the day after New Year’s Day. This day has largely been spent on music. I am down to making a .pdf of the 10th of 20 songs, at almost 6:00 p.m., but we have eaten dinner. It is now 10:45 and I just finished the last. Nothing is printed yet, but all the .pdf files are created, with big blue chords written on the music.

Tuesday, Dec 31 New Year’s Eve

I spent a bunch of time working up music for the group. At 14 minutes / page, that’s 4.6 hours, and that doesn’t include the time put in on re-doing some of them, such as Buffalo Gals, Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot, and Leaves in my music software (SongWriter). More were needed, but I worked on old copies (Xeroxed, manually-entered ones), and checked the chords (some of which were incorrect). So, for thinking I was making my life easier by picking two old lyrics books, I failed. Now they are done. I’m mailing the corrected list out with the key and the order, so people can put their music in order, and NOTIFY me if they need something. Meanwhile, I will run copies for the people coming who do not have a computer, and I will email the .pdf files to anyone wanting them, starting with our new pianist, our friendly first violin player who may make it this Thursday, and to ANYONE else with a printer who might wish to have the whole packet. I have 20 files with notes, chords, and words (some more legible than others). All are old time music pieces.  The folks in the places we play grew up with these tunes. Just before dark we got a call to see if John could help with loading a horse at a friend’s.  He did not like the set-up so after a brief attempt they postponed this activity until tomorrow. Tonight we will have to worry about fireworks and gun noise around us that for some reason upset two of our hunting dogs.  I have never understood this New Year thing – isn’t it just a made up date with no real significance? So why the guns and fireworks? Here is a long article we have only glanced at but have a look. The bottom line is that humans have fussed with calendars and use different ones.  Have a look here at the “Year of the Wood Horse”.  But, Happy New Year!, anyway. We are having a “quiet” night at home, trying to calm the Brittanys from several neighbors’ incessant firecrackers. We have the radio on for background to dilute the sharpness of the blasts from outside (nearest is about 100 yards away). It’s not working very well. Dan is lying at my feet, happy to be touching me. I scratch his back every so often. When we stopped going to field trials we stopped training – including introductions to noise, especially guns. Big mistake. The youngest, Annie, becomes a real pest. Finally, we closed her in a large crate. The others are all right. John “threw” together some brownies and I put the final caramel sauce on–smells quite good. Today for brunch, he fixed hashed browns, an omelet, and I helped finish cooking some bacon. This afternoon he baked some chicken hindquarters until they were very tender. I heated some green Lima beans. (We used to call them butter beans when I was growing up). He baked a small potato, and we shared a can of pears. I found out today the sad news that the large Buck mule deer I photographed met his demise at the hand of a local neighborhood archer, south of us, 1/4 mile. He was taken legally, but it was not kosher, IMHO. He should have been left around our area to upgrade the gene pool. John saw a smaller one this week with 3 does.

Wednesday, Jan 1 HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2014

Today we (John) helped a neighbor by loading their horse into our stock trailer, and transport him back to his home 7 miles or so away. John took care of that and got in a little horse training too, maybe 1.5 hrs., before the horse would enter the trailer. When he arrived home, I had set him up (with his truck) to do a good deed for two more people. I went with him on this trip. One family was giving away a twin size day bed (they lived in Kittitas), 10 miles from us, to another family in Ellensburg, about 7 miles back to town, and then another 11 miles home. About $15 of gas to accomplish these deeds – 2 gold stars on the first day of the year. If we keep up at this rate we’ll be broke by summer. Actually, the horse thing will earn us a meal later on.

Thursday, Jan 2

Filled day. Morning house and email chores as usual, plus an added search for the set of one of the lyrics books I couldn’t find. Checked both cars, front back, under sweaters, coats, and pillows, and found them hiding in the house. Phew. Then John decided it was too cold to work outside and we needed to shop for some stuff in town. So, he dropped me and all my paraphernalia off at the closest nursing home to us, and he went another couple miles to and around town to the bank, to pay bills, go to the Dollar store (for waxed paper and old style mouse traps). [Most local stores sell rolls of waxed paper for about $1.80. The $1-Store sells the same thing for, well, a dollar. Explain that?] Someone invented a plastic-enhanced type of old fashioned spring loaded mouse trap.

2 mouse traps; left has a yellow plastic tray for bait; right has a copper tray
Plastic versus metal bait tray

These (left) work very poorly, but we could not find the original type (right) the last time we needed one. $1 Store had wood ones (but made in Taiwan by PIC) at 4 for a dollar, so out with the new and in with the old. Field mice sometimes make it through the gauntlet of feral cats and into the garage. One came on into the kitchen last fall – remember the broken broom story? The inside cat can only get into the garage if we open a door for him but a mouse can get into the kitchen via holes for pipes and wires. The new-old traps are just another link in the necessary defenses against the rural environment.

Friday, Jan 3

We went to the Adult Activity Center for the potluck today. It was excellent — ribs and coleslaw they provided, and people brought various good side dishes and desserts. Once done, we delivered a few packages around town, and picked up some ourselves. At one place we were today to deliver a package, they sent back a birthday card and some homemade cookies for us. Another place we stopped gave us more cookies, and me 4 new pairs of socks, plus some toe warmers to use for my feet at tomorrow’s outdoor dinner. Another friend loaned me her lined Thinsulate boots, so I expect I shall be toasty warm. John has done the afternoon chores and the wind has been blowing, giving us a chill factor of 30°; nowhere near some of the temps across the states. I think he said tonight they were expecting just above zero in Cleveland, OH, where his sister lives, and about the same back in PA where many relatives live. Farther north it has been and continues to be very dangerously cold, so we shouldn’t complain – this week. We will get this posted Saturday morning and then leave. It is John’s birthday and Perihelion, but our trip is to celebrate the proper pruning of the vines last spring and a successful harvest of wine grapes at White Heron Cellars & Mariposa Vineyard. We will have, like last year, a pruner’s field lunch called a Raclette. You can look it up or await with bated breath our description next week. It does involve cheese – one of the elements of this poem:

Sally, having swallowed cheese
Directs down holes the scented breeze
Enticing thus with baited breath
Nice mice to an untimely death.

[Geoffrey Taylor, 1933, Cruel, Clever Cat]

Bated versus Baited – get it?

Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan

Christmas week on the Naneum Fan

If you missed it, check out the previous post – The Grandstands.

Sunday, Dec 22
Started by sleeping in from a very late night (morning). Had a wonderful 1/2 hour talk with John’s 95-year-old cousin in PA. She is incredibly sharp. Then a nice conversation with Peggy, John’s sister, in OH. We will not be around Christmas Day, so thought we should get our wishes and calls in early. We were unable to reach John’s brother in CA.
Very much time tonight, with more needed in the morning, of scanning Christmas carols and printing into .pdf files to email to a lady who will join us Thursday to play the Grand Piano at Hearthstone. Ellen’s son Roger will be there, and he came without bringing his guitar, so I am carrying in the guitar we bought from Anne Engels (MT), and she and her son will be there. (She is visiting son Glenn in Ellensburg for another week). Makes it rather special. Now this morning I’m running off the music for him because Roger cannot play along with his mom’s music as it is in the wrong key for her Bb Clarinet. The chords are written in for the key the rest of us play in (two sharps lower). Luckily, I had created the songs for our pianist, so I just have to find those 17 files and click print.

Monday, Dec 23
I spent much time this morning on music printing Christmas music for the two guests of our group this Thursday at Hearthstone. I did not explain the guitar we bought from Anne Engels for John to learn on belonged to her late husband. John cannot make his beat-up fingers bend to form all the chords, or make all the notes, without touching extra strings.
While sitting in my recliner working on the music scanning, creating, and printing copies I saw a flash of white outside the window, which faces the front yard (fenced). There is a 20 ft. high Mountain Ash tree there with bright red fruit hanging and blowing in the wind. The wind was gusting to 45mph, and I told John, something just went by the window — maybe a bag was flying around. I saw it in my peripheral vision (so it is working), but I was not able to focus on it. He looked out the kitchen window to see 12 wild turkeys (Merriam) visiting us. Those inside the fence were eating the red berries that had blown off the tree. I took some pictures and videos from the kitchen window, moved to the front door, and then to a bedroom. John thinks the Ash fruit isn’t palatable, nor perhaps edible, until it has changed in some manner (freeze/thaw; fermented ?) hanging on the tree. Small birds such as Starlings will come and sample the fruit but then leave. Last February (we think) a flock of about 50 came and cleaned the entire crop off the tree in 2 days. So something changed. John’s new bit of wisdom is to not have flowers, flowering shrubs, or fruiting trees close to your doors because bees, dropping fruit, and birds are best seen and not experienced first hand. The Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) [look it up] is one we could grow here but do not because it smells like dog poop or vomit. See here for our local link to this tree; just 25 miles away.
So back to the turkeys. John took his camera and walked out into the pasture, and took some photos. Pretty cool.

3 photos of turkeys: on driveway; hen on fence; Tom on fence.
We’re leaving now — see ya later.
2 photos of a dozen turkeys; front driveway; and down through the pasture and toward the woods.
A visit from the neighbors.

Tuesday, Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Today has mostly been inside work, except for John’s morning tours of the pasture. Just after John made it back into the house, his brother Dick called from San Jose’, CA. We’d left a message on Sunday when calling everyone, and they were out and about. He was waiting for his sons to arrive and Kit was off to a local bakery. On Christmas Day the folks would head to other places. We had a nice talk, and he sounded good (he’s 11 years older than John). Also, we called our friend, Fred Joyal, to wish him a Happy Birthday today, and Merry Christmas to the family tomorrow in upstate Michigan. Later this afternoon, just before dark, we carried some jars & apples to one neighbor, and picked up two jars of apricot jelly she made and knows I love. On from there to another neighbor a mile away, to deliver some onions, a few potatoes, and some now less-than-fresh Honeycrisp apples. (John sliced and sugared enough apples for a large pie and still has 2 batches to do. They have lasted well.) They traded a package of venison sausage and a jar of strawberry jelly. I had a package with a cutting board in it, to give her, but I forgot and left it at home. [The “authentic Maple cutting board” is in a box with 3 seven ounce salami/sausage rolls and a triangular shaped 2 oz. piece of smokey cheese-food. We bought several of these packages (for gifts) at an after Christmas sale about 10 years ago and two of these just now surfaced. Well, the Maple cutting board still looks good, but we will trash the food.] Later in the evening, we made one more call to Pat Berlin, the daughter of his cousin we talked with Sunday. We think she is his “first cousin once removed.” I have never figured this relationship stuff out. Her birthday falls on Christmas day and we knew we wouldn’t have a chance to call her. She is also in PA, 3 time zones to the east. With John’s help, I worked on cleaning up the counters to get ready to make the food we will take to Christmas dinner tomorrow. John came in and put together a neat lunch, followed by making an apple/ blueberry pie and a cookie sheet of leftover dough with crushed pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. We had a piece of that for dessert.
I’ve been working on the email list to send the link below to all our friends. If you did not receive it, please go here.
It is our Christmas card to send to everyone before the end of the year, saying we will not get the 2013 newsletter out until after the New Year. 🙂
However, before I could send it, I had to transcribe the pictures and videos of the wild turkeys at our house today and yesterday and make the videos to put into YouTube compatible files. That took awhile, but I got them transferred, and you can reach them here:

Tom chases the girls; 29 sec.

On to the fence; 32 sec.

At 11:00 p.m., I FINALLY got it out! Whoopee–a few returned with wrong email addresses. I now have to fix those loose ends, but that can wait for a new day.

Wednesday, Dec 25
Up early, to clean up and then work on fixing the Golden Health Squash dish. See below the beginning and ending of the process.

2 photos: chunked up squash in square dish; and cooked with brown sugar and Pecans
Squash is ready for cooking – finished with sugar and Pecans

The photo above is only the smaller of the two Pyrex dishes we took to the dinner. Finally, after a late start, we finished in plenty of time to drive 20 minutes to our destination. We visited a lot and ate likewise. There were some good foods there we don’t usually have. The main meat dishes included ham and turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, our squash, several different salads, many dips, including some fancy ones (salmon, artichoke), stuffed mushrooms, the hottest peppers filled with something less hot, I have ever had. Had to run get some cool drink to put out the fire. John passed on those. Also was a table of cookies (all decorated) and candies. We didn’t stay around for the cakes and pies, because they took a break to exchange gifts. We needed to get home for John to feed the horses and outside cats – they have him trained so he will feed before dark. I needed to locate the guitar I mentioned previously. I dusted off the case, and managed to get the strings in tune. It does have a tuner attached to its neck so the only issue is will it stay in tune? [it did, just fine]

Thursday, Dec 26
Today, going to play music at 2 places in the afternoon — all Christmas songs. I have a lot of stuff to carry. John decided against going in favor of working on his “firewise” project. I parked at the end of the driveway at the first place and made two trips. First was with my fiddle and carrier, and next with my guitar and another carrier (with music stands and music books). We had a great group, with some new members and visitors in the audience and in the “band.” Here is a run-down on the instruments: mandolin, two guitars, bells, accordion, two fiddlers, clarinet, and pianist (on the Grand Piano). The audience had individual sets of bells to jingle with us, and lyrics of the songs we sung.

Friday, Dec 27
We have lots of clean up in the house left to do, and I started this morning by making my way through 3 boxes in front of the door to our entry hall closet. I know we haven’t been in there for 5 years, because we have a coat rack on the wall beside the door, which holds all our vehicle keys, and coats/jackets of the season. I was looking for a special warm winter coat from my past and hoping for warm boots as well. I found both! I doubt the boots will work, however. The foam insulation (a low density, open cell polyurethane foam ? ) has deteriorated, and after wearing them an hour, I realized the insides were crumbling — so trashed them. John says he read on the side they were made in Italy. Later, I’ll look further in the same closet. The coat is perfect. John made some brownies and they smell delicious. We received an invite today to a Raclette (it happens on John’s birthday this year). So very excited. (That’s why I was looking for warm outside clothing). Also, another party on Jan 11 celebrating a new job in Yakima for the son (in Ellensburg) of a friend, but the party will be in Maple Valley, WA. Our attendance is waiting for the weather report on the Pass. Rest of the afternoon I have spent (still working) on deciding the playlist for our group for Jan & February. Now I have to put them in order in my book, and run copies for the new people. We just had dinner, and I am totally worn out, but it is only 8:00 p.m. Received a blast from the past–about our old Brittany, born in 1976, Dual Ch/AFC/CC Ramblin’ Chocolate Dandy. (See more on tomorrow’s write-up.)
Entered the song, Leaves, into my computer software. It is a song we have long done with our group, and it is very old. Many years ago the mother-in-law of one of our guitarists put a poem to music. Within the past 12 years, he wrote a 3rd verse, and I wrote the 4th and 5th. It’s pretty cool. Guess I should make a link to the lyrics for anyone interested. We localized the last three verses to the Kittitas Valley – as we are the Kittitas Valley Fiddlers and Friends.

Saturday, Dec 28
This morning I went walking with John and the Brittanys, and talked to the horses. They see so little of me, they weren’t sure of the change and the three newest ones stood 50 feet away and looked but decided that was close enough. I was all bundled up maybe looked like an apparition – the ghost of Christmas past. Now back to the correspondence with the fellow that had a pup out of our “Choc” — Dual Champion Brittany. He had a pup in the last century from him, and wants another from his bloodlines. My wonderful first-opened email of this morning was from Jeri Conklin offering just the pup he needs. The conclusion of getting information to the fellow, now in CA, ended at 6:30 p.m. and then an hour or so later, Jeri got back in touch with him, after I sent him a bunch of photos and history. I think it’s going to work out. As I told him, it will be a match made in heaven. Then, because I was too busy today, we never got this blog out. Hope you enjoyed John’s attempt at humor with his Grandstand thing. He sort of tricked me because the bush in that photo looks like one at the corner of our house – it is just a photo he stole from the web.

Hope your week was fine.
Nancy and John
Still on the Naneum Fan

Spring is here and . . .

. . .  all that goes with it:  Tax preparation, Easter, gardens, and daffodils:

http://www.cornwall365.co.uk/cornwall_image/4,A-Host-of-Golden-Daffodils,_MG_4865_250207.JPG

Saturday, Apr 7  Took it easy today, caring for my cold, however, we loaded three large Honeycrisp apples into the dehydrator.  John also finished the blog, while I designed a picture he made of a very large apple (on a scale to measure its heaviness) for putting on the web.  We gave you that link in last week’s blog.

Sunday, Apr 8  Happy Easter.  We will be joining our neighbors for a mid-day feast.  Early this morning, while running with the dogs, John had the pleasure of seeing “our Naneum owl” down in the swamp.  A couple of years ago he was able to get a photo of a pair.  They were in adjacent trees but very close to one another.  A student is using one of his photos for her presentation and labeled it the Naneum Owl (That’s because she did a Google Image search and I’d named the photo Owl-Naneum; it picked it up from our newsletter greeting).  Here is a link to the type of owl and relevant information:

http://www.kidzone.ws/animals/birds/great_horned_owl.htm

We are back from a great fun dinner, including ham, potato salad, applesauce, broccoli, green bean casserole with fried onions on top of the mushroom soup mixture, rolls, raw carrots, plums, sweet pickles, and rhubarb blueberry cake for dessert with ice cream if you wanted.

Monday, Apr 9  Neat day.  I stayed home to recover more from my cold.  I’m still coughing but I believe I’m much better.  Only sad thing is that John has caught it.

The reason it was neat was that I accomplished quite a bit, as did John.  He did his normal feeding for the neighborhood livestock and ours.  We went to play with the kitties and talk to Big Sue.  They are slightly growing and getting faster on their feet.

Then John spent the afternoon planting trees – Grand Fir and Ponderosa Pine.

I stayed on my computer going through the tax program and getting questions that I needed responses to from Turbo Tax advisors and from our Mutual Funds Investment counselor in Arizona — (HQ is in Pennsylvania). I reached her on the phone and figured out the answers to those questions about retirement rollovers, and then waited a long time for help from the Turbo Tax advisors (had to speak to two different ones and the wait was longer than the solution).  I got my answers I needed so I’m truly on a roll again.  Oops, Rascal came in with John from feeding the outside cats and is awaiting some special food himself.

Last week I wrote about the dog Rhu that likely would need a new home but they decided to keep him.  They live near Reno and another friend, Sonja, lives in South Lake Tahoe with one of our Brittanys and my childhood-sized (3/4) violin.  They met in between their homes at a convenient place for a longish visit.  Then Rhu’s owner, Julie got the violin from Kip’s owner, Sonja, and has now carted it to EBRG for me.  I missed seeing her but she was able to drop it off at the Adult Activity Center.  What nice friends I have.

Tuesday, Apr 10  I am not busy tomorrow until leaving at 3:30 for a massage appointment and then meeting an Olympia College geographer friend for dinner and then off to play music with The Connections.  Will be a busy afternoon and evening.  It all went well, but I was very tired and didn’t spend much time awake tonight, going to bed a little earlier than usual.

Wednesday, Apr 11  Today started out with all the regular chores, but I stayed in the recliner after breakfast and worked on filing tax receipts.  I didn’t spend much time at all on email and the computer.  Left for the Soup Kitchen at the food Bank, and played music.  Did not sing as much as normal because it would start me coughing.  Got through it and then we tried to eat.  This was the worst lunch they have ever served there.  The meat was a sausage cut in two and fried, with cheese on top and on top of that a piece of lean (mostly) bacon, sort of like ham, with fat attached.  Then there was a half of a green pepper stuffed with a mixture of rice (sticky) and cut up veggies, dessert or bread was a thin slice of tortilla (I guess) with sugar and cinnamon on it.  There were small cubed peaches (canned) for dessert, so I skipped that.  It was really weird and I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.  The head cook came over to thank us (as we were eating) for playing the music.  She leaned over to the two of us (musicians) and said, “What do you think about lunch?  No one said anything, so I said, “Well, it surely is different.”  She seemed pleased and said, “that’s what I intended.”  No one else at my table liked any part of it either.

Went on to Bi-Mart and picked up more canned cat food on sale.  Then off to the hospital for a blood draw for the INR test (blood thinning).  Turns out it was back down again to 1.7, and they are not happy with that.  I complained of my cold symptoms, and the nurse was alarmed I had yellow mucous, so she talked to the doctor, who put me on Amoxicillin at 3/day for another 10 days.  It doesn’t seem that long since I had the same thing prescribed over a month ago.  We had an interesting meal tonight of leftovers.  Much better than my lunch today.

Thursday, Apr 12  Not much today.  Still a lot of coughing from me.  John’s sneezing is about gone too.  John went out to work on chores for the neighbor and to plant our strawberries.  He ordered 25 but got 27 (typical for strawberries by mail-order).  I went to play at the Rehab center and it was a good thing.  Only 6 of us showed up.  I made it through without coughing, but had taken a mask in case I started.  I stopped by the new Carl’s Jr in town and bought a special BBQ bacon/cheddar/fried onion hamburger (two for $5). John ate his not realizing it was supposed to have cheese on it.  Mine did; his didn’t.  Or maybe he had a ‘senior’ moment.

Spring seems to have sprung.  The Willows are blooming . . .

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Willow_catkin_2_aka.jpg

and the Black Cottonwood . . .

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/images/blackcottonwood/populus_balsamifera_fruit_smcdougal_lg.jpg

Grasses (and weeds) have grown enough that our neighbor told John to stop feeding the horses on the pastures.  Then he decided the six mares could do with about half of what they had been getting.  There are a couple dozen mule deer helping with the nibbling of anything green.  It has been so cold here this spring that everything, even grass, is late.  Two years ago trees were leafed out and flowers were blooming by April 1st.  Two severe frosts in the first week of April froze the cherry buds and killed the leaves of the black walnut trees.  They did come back but there were no nuts in 2010.  Anyway John’s feeding chores have lessened just in time to do some gardening.

Friday, Apr 13   I started the day not feeling well after wheezing and coughing all night.  I wrote an email to my Dr. and called to alert them to its being there.  He responded that starting me on a diuretic was not a good idea, and to keep my antibiotics going, and come in Monday or Tuesday if I wasn’t better.  Therefore, I stayed home and worked on taxes all day.

Interestingly, last night I only ate half of sandwich, and we had the remainder for lunch today.  John had told me last night there was no cheese on his burger, and I said, “Well there was plenty on mine.”  When he cut it today to heat up for lunch, he verified there was lots of cheese on mine, but had been none on his.  I wanted to call the store, but they don’t yet have a phone number listed.  We both went back to work for a couple hours, and he came in to tell me to come out and bring my camera to record what he had done.  Today, he was working on a long trench (~20 feet) digging down to just above a rock layer, putting in a layer of dry manure and straw, and preparing where he will plant his 25+ asparagus plants.  Then I also got some pictures of the strawberries he planted yesterday, and last year’s strawberries from which he removed the straw cover.  They are already showing new light green growth from uncovering two days ago.   You can see the pictures on the following link below, which I put out Saturday night and John wrote the details on my beginning template.

http://elixant.com/~nancyh/NaneumFanGarden.html

The oven’s got chicken thighs baking and in the fridge’ there’s a can of sliced peaches.

Saturday, Apr 14  John got his haircut by me this morning.  If we had put even $5.00/haircut in since I began cutting his hair (before we were married), we would have at least $100.  We did our separate chores, him outside in the garden and me inside on the computer.  Ate a small lunch (for me, not for him), and then both went to town to Briarwood.  He shopped while I entertained with a few others.  Pretty good turnout of 3 guitars, accordion, two violins, and a viola, with an occasional mandolin.  We had a new gal from the college join us today, who plays the banjo.  She also plays with the Bluegrass Jam group at the Grange, and likely will tomorrow too, third Sundays of the month, but this is our last this year.  There will be a group campout and jam the end of May.  Most people, who take this more seriously than I do, go to competitions, festivals, and events through the summer.  Back to this afternoon.   We surely had an appreciative group who really got involved; one lady got up and did Hawaiian hand movements and dancing to Tiny Bubbles and Pearly Shells.  This group of retirees always puts on a great spread for us.  Today were ham sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, cut into 4ths, diagonally, three nice salads, and many desserts.

John and I came home and he buried asparagus roots. It is a chore but once done the plants will likely live here as long as we do.

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1603.html

The stores have had Mexico grown asparagus for about $3.50/pound.  The Washington commercial harvest has just started and locally it is sold in road-side stands in boxes of 25 pounds.  We haven’t seen this year’s price though.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/04/12/2104569/asparagus-season-starting-in-tri.html?storylink=fb

I worked on tax input while John was in the asparagus trench.  Then, after he ran the dogs, for their evening exercise, we went to visit the kitties.  John pulled them out of their nest and put them on the hay lined floor in front of me (I was sitting on a bale of hay).  Mama (Big Sue) watched from the rafters.  John laid down and played with them and I picked each of them up and also petted them from above.  They are getting more mobile and interested in things.  John plans maybe tomorrow to build a little enclosure to give them more light, but high enough to keep them in.  In our small hay barn they are well protected from the wind (it was high today) and rain.  We’ll document the arrival of spring here on Naneum Fan and get some more photos posted for next week’s blog.  Meanwhile, check out the garden pictures mentioned above in the blog with a link.

We are thankful we do not live in the mid-west – storms and tornados all over today – and wish the best to anyone in that region.

Hope your week was a good one.

Nancy and John

still on the Naneum Fan

 

Got a wee-bit of the Irish?

http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_357/123290483458gZMl.jpg

Saturday, Mar 10.    This turned into a nice day.  John had all his and the neighbor’s regular animal chores, but he got them all done in time for us to leave right before 4:00 to go to Yakima for playing music at a fundraiser auction (silent and real) for the Riverside Christian School in Yakima.  We got in return a really nice spread of food for musicians and spouses.   John and I had a really nice visit on the way down and back.  Midday I went to my neighbor’s to deliver a birthday cake (cobbler from our cherries & walnuts, and blueberries ) that we made last night.  And, while there I changed the dressing on my neighbor’s toe operation.  I will do it once a day till it heals completely.  He gave me instructions and we did a nice job.  Medical types had wanted people to come to Harborview for instruction.  Can you imagine?  That’s in Seattle.  Over a mountain.  Sort of like going to New York City for picante sauce

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSxnieYctVM

I told him I was willing to go to Ellensburg to a doctor’s office or to the hospital, but I was not driving all the way to Harborview to learn how to do something I could probably easily be coached by him.  That’s what happened, after his nephew, the caregiver for the past couple of weeks, had to leave to start a new job.

Sunday, Mar 11.  I slept in late, was invited to lunch, changed the foot dressing, helped fix, ate lunch and cleaned up, and got home late.  John had taken 4 pictures at the auction last night of our music group, so I worked on getting them emailed to the participants, with thank you notes for last night, and watched a late afternoon snow storm.  Talked to John’s sister tonight.  Sadly Kathy had to return to the hospital, and is a very sick lady.

Monday, Mar 12.  It’s snowing here but John took off for grapevine pruning anyway.

The weather is better there: 23 miles to the NE, 1,400 feet lower, and a 6,000 ft. ridge in between.  I stayed up to clean up the kitchen and get ready to leave for helping my friend with the dressing on his foot, before I have to take off for town.  I do plan to take in some cherries, blueberries and walnuts for our friends to make one of John’s Kittitas Downsideup Cobblers for a special dinner of ethnic foods.  She figures that such a dish is appropriate for where she has lived for 1/4 century.  I must also pick up my meds that I ran out of, or will tomorrow, and drop by the bank for some cash.  John has found a source for the largest Honey Crisp apples you can imagine.  They are the size of grapefruits and weigh about 16 to 20 ounces each.  The larger ones are packed 9 to a flat, the smaller ones have 12, with a plastic liner and individual cups for each apple. He’s getting the box for $10 over in Quincy, from Double Diamond Fruit – a local company “storing, packing, and marketing apples, apricots, and cherries.”  There was a school bus accident (turn over) and 39 kids injured on the road south of Quincy near where John turns off to go to the vineyard.  The roads were dry.  Driver drove off the edge, over-corrected, went over a short but steep gravel incline, and tipped onto its side.

http://www.kimatv.com/news/Dozen-kids-injured-in-school-bus-rollover-near-Quincy-142336575.html

It snowed here hard all morning (started after John was 10 minutes down the road, and lasted until I left at 12:25 to drive to town to deliver the fruit to a friend, go to the bank for cash, and to my exercise class.  It wasn’t till I got to EBRG that the snow stopped.  I had to clean it off both the windshield and the back one.  Oh, had to put in a nursing bandage/dressing change on my neighbor’s foot that took over a half hour before I left for town.  And, I picked up my meds before coming home.  I was so tired that I laid down at 4:15 and slept for 3 hours.  Guess I needed it.  Spent the rest of the night eating a late dinner and proofing job application statements for a friend.

Tuesday, Mar 13   Another long day.  Did not have to do bandage and dressing today.  My “patient” went to his Dr. for an examination and they did it.  Thankfully.  Today I had to go by the vet to get a 3-month supply of Thyroid pills for Shay.  Then off to Cle Elum for seeing my family physician, just for a follow-up.  I drove through a snow storm almost the whole way there, and when I came out 50 minutes later, it was sunny and bright.  My Dr. was positive that I looked better than ever, and was “back” to 100%.  I don’t feel I’m quite there yet, but it was nice being complimented.  I know I’m so much better.  He said I didn’t need to check back with him till annual physical time in July.  Certainly suits me.  [John says: I put the  “–”s around ‘back’ because the meaning is “about as good as you can expect to be with the heart you’ve got.”]  Tonight was a dinner in town and playing at Hearthstone, so I didn’t get home till 8:00.  I spent an hour on writing a letter of recommendation for a student to go to grad school.  I last had him in classes in 2008, but I remember him well.  He was a very good student.  It’s cold outside–down to 31.5 .

Wednesday, Mar 14  We both took care of chores, and John left for pruning.  At 11:30 I left for playing music at the “Soup” Kitchen, and on to exercise at 1:30, then home to work on taxes.

Thursday, Mar 15 — a slow start but busy ending with a little excitement thrown in.  I got up quite early (still dark) with John and he had to go do all chores in the dark (the daylight savings time thing) to be able to leave earlier than normal to pick up one of the pruners.  I decided to go back to sleep in my recliner and 15 minutes later my cell phone rang.  I do not get reception in that part of the house so I had to walk back the entire length of our L-shaped house.  It was the vineyard/winery owner, Cameron, calling to say if it was raining in EBRG, perhaps John didn’t need to make the trip over.  I told him he’d already left 15 minutes prior, so he thanked me and hung up.  I went back to the recliner and settled down under a blanket.  I managed to go to sleep for the next couple of hours !  Cool.. I needed it.  I didn’t have to go do the bandages this morning because my neighbor had an early a.m. appointment in town with his doctor.  They put a bandage on when done.  I worked on several chores, and ate some lunch (following on a late breakfast).  Didn’t leave till about 1:00 to drop off some stuff on my way to play music at Dry Creek.  Amazingly, we had 13 people there today.   Wow.. and we had a great audience and one of them got up, took off her shoes and socks, and cut a rug . . .

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/39/messages/462.html

. . . to Five Foot Two & Yes Sir That’s My Baby.  It was neat.  I wish I had had my camera.  She was the Geography Secretary for 27 years at CWU.  Toward the end of our playing, we played 5 Irish tunes, and it sounded pretty good for only doing it once a year.  I called John from town to be sure he made it home okay.  The weather turned sunny from blustery, very windy, and rainy when we started.  I finished loading the dishwasher and sat down with my computer.  Just as I was ready to send off some pictures to one of the couples at the Yakima gig, last Saturday, and John was out feeding our horses, I heard a loud cat scream and looked out to see Rascal being attacked by Big Sue (the old yellow cat).  She had him on the ground rolling around, and I ran out the back door, screaming at the top of my lungs.  It broke them up and she went out around the back of Jay’s Folly, …  [“folly”: a pond with almost no water and lots of brush; a relic of the prior owner hoping to store water for late season irrigation; bottom is cobbles and sand so for water storage it works about as well as a colander:]

http://www.hostalibrary.org/seed/indoors/colander.jpg

… and Rascal ran around the back of the fence and jumped up a fence post and ran in the open patio door.  I followed him in, and he went back to the guest bedroom up by the window at the front of the house.  I was talking with him and decided he was not hurt, when John walked in the back door, asking where we were.  He had been at the barn and heard the cat fight screams and my yelling.  Rascal is okay, but I’m not happy.

Friday, Mar 16  I stayed and slept in, but then had to go eat at a scholarship luncheon.  It was a full table of food, and good because I never had breakfast, except a cup of coffee to warm up.  Two ladies put it on and had large cookies from Vinmans Bakery,…  [well regarded for miles around, pricey (not for the faint of wallet), minimal WEB site:]   http://vinmansbakery.com/ … a loaf of bread, rolls, butter, a nice salad, and a Crock-pot of spaghetti in cheese sauce with red peppers.  From there I went to the activity center to pick up my 86 yr old friend to give her a ride home.  We did not have exercise today because a group was working on pine needle basket weaving.  Here’s a photo of the unassembled product: http://www.needlebasket.com/images/longleaf_pine.jpg

I picked up a 5 grain bread loaf that was being given away – having been donated on its “use by date” by a well known grocery chain.

Saturday, Mar 17  Another crazy one, started at 2:15 a.m. with a cat fight outside.  It woke me up and I jumped out and ran to the back door, yelling, but never saw the combatants.  John walked out without trousers but with slippers and flashlight (aka a torch) and found nothing.  (British) English Translated For Americans:

http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/engtran.html

I went back to the guest bedroom, and Rascal was up on his perch, so I ran back outside to tell John I had found him.  He stayed in the rest of the night.  Normally he leaves about 4 or 5 but it started snowing at 2:30 and continued till 7:00 and measured up to 4 inches.  It was wet snow.  Then it was quiet and the sun shone a little, but at 10:00 a.m. it started snowing BIG huge flakes again and went on for 45 minutes.  Very interesting.  I went over and did my neighbor’s foot bandage at 10:45 and then came home to work on a letter of recommendation.  Then John took a nap and got up & put on his awesome (yard sale) Irish Claddagh sweater with the pattern in green, gold, purple, and black on white . . .

http://www.carvinginnyc.com/claddagh.htm

It stays in a safe place and he only wears it occasionally.  Everyone always loves it.  Today was special, because he wore it to the celebration where we were playing music, and several Irish tunes.  He got up and modeled it.. and everyone cheered.  Then at the end we played Irish Washerwoman and he came to the front and did a little Irish jig.  Everyone was impressed.  A lady got up to dance too, but he went and sat down.  They had a nice meal for us, so I didn’t need to eat any dinner.  There were little corned beef sandwiches with a piece of lettuce, potato salad, slaw, and a fluffy green fruit salad.  There were desserts too, but I only had one sugar cookie with green frosting.  Tonight we had a piece of John’s “brownie” cake for dessert.

Sunday, Mar 18, will start with John doing horse feeding chores for us and for the neighbor’s 10 horses.  Just after lunch we will drive to the Bluegrass Jam Session at the Swauk-Teanaway Grange about 30 minutes up the road (in good weather).

Hope your week was a good one.

Nancy and John

still on the Naneum Fan