Seeing stars

I (finally) managed to access the local newspaper and discovered I was paying $21.25 per month. That is $255 per year. Years ago, it was close to $100 per year. Then it came 6 days each week. About 7 years ago the Friday edition was canceled. Two years ago, the Monday edition was gone.
The paper, and 126 others, is owned by Adams Publishing Group. Hometown of APG is Coon Rapids, Minnesota. There is often only one article of local news, local high school sports, obituaries, and comics. My mother would say “Throw it in the air and you can read it before it hits the ground.”
So, I canceled it. There was a pop-up that asked Why? – with about 10 possible responses, the last being “deceased”, and that I clicked. Not untrue because it was in Nancy’s name.
The return response was: “We are sorry to see you go.” Well, of course!
The next day I had an automated call saying the subscription was about to run out and I should renew. Clumsy programming, I think.

Thursday the CWU Retired group had a gathering at the Planetarium run by the Physics Department. The display is spectacular, although the seats don’t swivel, but should. Bruce Palmquist orchestrated the presentation and answered questions. Such is recommended if you can get to one. Snacks and wine followed.
This is a photo from a prior group; with Bruce at the lower right with red sweater showing behind the control monitor.

And this really bums me out. Strict rules have applied about “Swissness” since 2017. So, …
Toblerone will remove the Matterhorn mountain peak from its packaging when some of the chocolate’s production is moved from Switzerland to Slovakia.
The pyramid-shaped bar, which mirrors the Alpine peak, will get a more generic summit on the packaging.

Our weather for March – actually most of the USA – is to be below normal temperatures with higher precipitation. The local 7-day forecast is similar but we won’t get much precipitation. WA’s mountains will continue to get both rain and snow. Better there than here.
However, pruning weather this is not. We are going to bottle something Tuesday morning. What? I didn’t ask.

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Veterinarians and Kitty Teeth

On Tuesday morning I realized Tzar had an issue with his mouth. As it turned out he had a tooth –
In mammalian oral anatomy, the canine teeth, also called cuspids, dog teeth, or (in the context of the upper jaw) fangs, eye teeth, vampire teeth, or vampire fangs, are the relatively long, pointed teeth.

– that was bent sidewise into his mouth. {Photo from web}
Tzar arrived, uninvited, by following our animals into the house. Nancy spelled the name Czar, the Vet used Tzar. Nancy found him bedded down under a chair in the room with the animal door. That room wasn’t used much since we stopped watching television 15 years ago.
[ ]

He has been here 5 or 6 years or some other number. We had all the cats neutered when a local group hauled about 20 cats to Lynden (almost to Vancouver B. C.). They also got required vaccines.
Well, I haven’t had anything to do with the local vets for about 5 years and nothing regarding cats for much longer. I began calling the local offices. One place suggested I call the next morning and ask for an emergency visit, with no guarantee of a place. That also sounded like an extra fee, but I didn’t ask. One of the next 5 had an opening in a week. I was told there is an emergency clinic in Yakima. That’s 50 miles south.

So, I called the Vet office in Quincy. That’s 50 miles away also and only 10 miles from the vineyard owned by Phyllis and Cameron. They have used that office for years when a friend, Laura, owned it. Now in Germany, that is where Phyllis and Cameron went in December. The place now has 2 vets, so I called and got an appointment – giving me time to get prepared here and travel the 50 miles to Quincy. Then I talked to Cameron and told them to expect a visit.
Phyllis had knee-replacement on Monday and my reasoning was – rather than go to Yakima – I could go there after getting Tzar looked at. It only took a minute for the vet (Lindsey) and her assistant to extract the tooth and give him a required rabies shot. I was out of there by 4 p.m., with (only) a bill if $117.36. I got a discount because of my charm and the simpleness of the issue.
After that, I visited with Phyllis and Cameron for two hours while Tzar relaxed in the back of the truck. By the time I got home he was ready for a trip to the potty and a nap.
All’s well that ends well.

All of the region had below average temperatures with lows near 5°F here for two nights. The rest of the week was not as cold (20s at night, 30s daytime) and next Thursday maybe 42°. There is a sign that warmth is 2 weeks away.
All of the region had below average temperatures with lows near 5°F here for two nights. The rest of the week was not as cold (20s at night, 30s daytime) and next Thursday maybe 42°. There is a sign that warmth is 2 weeks away.
Local lore on the Naneum Fan is that spring is two weeks away when the first Redwing Blackbirds arrive. Range maps show them here all year but Washington is a diverse region and in our winter they leave. Anyway, some came to the feeder this week. Thus, hope is that by the 8th of March, or so, there will be a change to warmer days. (Frosts will still come.)
My onion-set order is scheduled to ship on the 27th of March, from southern Texas. Maybe I can get the 400 planted by April. At the moment I have about 10 left from last summer’s harvest. I did give away quite a few.

Thinking of food – I may give this a try:

Keeping Track on
the Naneum Fan


Pruning, cleaning, balloons

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

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

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

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

steelcat condor catalytic combustor

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

The funniest sign for the week:

Of interest from 1983:

Keeping Track
on the Naneum Fan


Pruning is under way

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping Track on the
Naneum Fan


A week for reading

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping Track on
the Naneum Fan


January is ending with a cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John H.

Finally, a party

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan

John H.

This week’s lesson is the word Irony

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except for fog, the weather is uneventful.

Keeping Track, on the
Naneum Fan

John H.

NEXT POST: late Sunday 22nd

2023 begins calmly on the Fan

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

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

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

I may need to find a new book to read.

Keeping track on the
Naneum Fan


Last post for that wonderful year 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Now the family has a new Christmas memory.

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

A new version of the song nontraditional:

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

Keeping track on the Naneum Fan