Tuesday, May 31, 2016


As we were leaving my sister Harriet’s house one day last summer, Mike noticed the windcatcher in her front flower bed. “That’s cool!” he exclaimed. “Let’s get one for the farm.”

“Oh, but there’s a problem,” I said. Harriet had told me that it kept coming apart in the middle.

“I can fix it,” Mike said.

Let’s see, long story short, on his first trip he super-glued it. A few days later Harriet messaged that it had come apart again. This only served to strengthen Mike’s resolve. Now it was him against the windcatcher, and he meant to win. On the next trip, he took his drill, but the windcatcher broke his bit. This meant war! Mike borrowed a super-duper bit from a friend and was then able to drill a hole and insert a screw. And that worked. Now Harriet can see the beautiful windcatcher whirling outside her living room window.

By way of thanks for the fix, Harriet gifted Mike with this year’s windcatcher from Costco. (Apparently Costco offers a new design every year.) So, we assembled and installed it, but to our dismay it refused to whirl. It took a 15 mph gust to turn that thing, which Mike deemed unacceptable. So, we carried it back to Costco and they gladly exchanged it, even though we had already tossed the box. It was around Mother’s Day, and they didn’t have any in stock, but the customer service person said they would receive a shipment of 120 sometime after May 20. So, before we came back to the homestead, we picked up our Windcatcher at Costco, and today Mike assembled and installed it.
And here it is. It whirls gently in the breeze and with gusto when the wind picks up. We planted it firmly where we can watch it and where it’s not in the way of the mowing.

The sun is warm but the breeze sometimes feels like it comes off snowy mountains. The forecast is for the upcoming weekend to be hot, but I notice they keep pushing the hot days out a bit and trimming degrees off the predicted highs. KW

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Yellow yarrow and lavender

I wish I had put the same effort into organizing for Mike’s return as I did for his absence. Saturday, his first day back, I just couldn’t get started with my tasks. I couldn’t even remember what my tasks were, except for the laundry. And I baked cookies.

I am greatly helped by lists. Sometimes I don’t even follow the list, but organizing my thoughts helps to organize my actions. I will accomplish more if I have a list, but if I don’t have a list, I will flat forget what I want to do, what I should do, and even what I have to do. Often 5:00 o’clock comes and I realize I barely have time to finish necessary tasks before supper. After supper, I don’t work OR play. Our routine is to eat late, enjoy a TV program or two, retire about 9:30, and then it starts all over again at 6:00 a.m. (or before).

Mike’s sister called on Monday the 23rd to wish me a happy anniversary in Mike’s absence. She noted the pictures of the pretty flowers I had posted and observed that I must have a green thumb. Nothing is further from the truth. The drought-tolerant plants are perennials and some of them are wild flowers, or as a friend once noted, “They ARE weeds.” We have been richly rewarded by yarrow, lavender, sagebrush, blanket flower, cactus (NEVER plant a cactus), sedum, snow-in-summer, hollyhocks, hen and chicks, and basket o’ gold. It’s a matter of whatever works. Obnoxious, useless weeds do crop up, and Mike pulls them out.

We’re getting ready to go to the farm, so – back to the list. KW

Saturday, May 28, 2016


This was a work day. I was up early and vacuumed before I got the dogs out. The morning walk was uneventful. I loaded the recycling in the car and dropped it in the bins on my way to the store. The stores were busy as shoppers prepared for the Memorial Day weekend, but plenty of check-out stations were open. This afternoon I put a pheasant breast in the crock pot, baked an angel food cake, changed the bed, walked the dogs. Etc. Ad infinitum.

Hollyhocks begin to bloom
And all the while I kept thinking about that remote. Now and then I fiddled with it. Still no lights, no action. But late this afternoon – still thinking – I began to wonder . . . The tech used the batteries from the old remote. And I exchanged those for the batteries that came with the new remote. How did I know those batteries were good? I like Duracells myself and always keep a supply of AA and AAA on hand. So, I decided to try them. The first thing I noticed was that they fit a lot tighter than either of the other sets. And Eureka! The TV set came on and I controlled the functions with the remote. I fixed it! Skeptical? Me, too.

I began to watch for Mike at 3:00. By 5:00, I expected him any minute. At 6:00, I knew something had delayed him, such as a wrong turn. It’s a long trek through central Oregon, and if you make a wrong turn, it’s even longer. At 7:00, I decided to eat my supper. About 7:10, he rolled in, bringing a brief wind and rain storm with him. The dogs were overjoyed, and I was pretty happy, too. Yes, he said, he had made a wrong turn that took him miles out of his way.

Dark spot in grass is Bess
Mike says this was the most complex and stressful trip he has undertaken. He is to be commended, he says, for losing only one thing, and that was a pen. Oddly enough, he seems energized. That’s often the way with Mike. His drive will carry him for a few days. Then he’ll feel the letdown. “I just don’t understand why I’m so tired,” he’ll say.

 Up next: clean the motorcycle and all the gear, work through a mountain of laundry, plan the next trip to the farm -- you know, business as usual. KW

Friday, May 27, 2016



Staycation 2016 venue
When Mike traveled as a function of his job, we used to laugh that the worst problems came up while he was out of town. For instance, just before Hallie was born, a water line broke (not mine) and flooded the back yard while Mike was in Boise. Now that he’s retired, it seems this “Murphy’s Law” is still in effect. The new and problematic wireless printers have not worked in his absence, so I coped by getting out the little HP1600, which we kept “just in case.” Tuesday I learned about resetting the modem and restored my internet connection. And last night I had a live chat with “Kevin” (first language not English) at Dish because the remote quit working. Long story short, they’re sending us a new remote to replace this defective one. It’s just hard for me to accept that it could be working one minute and dead the next.
Vance -- one Christmas Eve

Sometimes these simple yet frustrating problems are just opportunities to be grateful for our blessings. It’s just not right to let these things upset me, I tell myself. That said, we all know the problem. We’ve come to depend on our electronics and when they fail, we’re stuck.

Nina and Charlie Portfors, Red River Hot Springs, c. 1950
Today I reorganized, made new lists, and puttered along with this and that, but tomorrow I’ll have to work faster. The scanner and the slides are already put away. Hopefully I won’t let another four years go by before I tackle it again. Perhaps I’ll just take a day and get it done.

It was 81 by noon, then dropped back to a pleasant 74 for our afternoon walk. No rain, though.

I’m sure the dogs miss Mike, but today I sensed their concern more keenly. Bess kept whining at the door with her old tennis ball, wanting me to come out and play. This evening she whimpered and crawled into my lap for a little cuddling. She often curls up with Mike on the sofa, and I suspect she needed more human contact. Nellie, too, was restless and not content to stay in the house. She wanted to be outside, which was difficult because I have to watch her. The old dog always becomes my dog.

Mike called this evening from Lakeview, OR. It was an easy day, and he said he would have traveled further except for the lack of accommodations in central Oregon. Not much there. I’m sure he’ll get an early start and make good time tomorrow, what with the anticipation of getting home. And that makes it all the more important that I accomplish my list. KW


A beautiful afternoon in our 'hood
Here we are at Wednesday. I told you the time would fly. And when Mike called tonight, he reminded me that he would be home Friday evening. Yikes!  Time to close the workshop and reconvert the kitchen.

Today I had a dental appointment at 8:45, which meant I had to get up early, walk the dogs, and get myself organized for a morning out. After the walk, I put the dogs in their kennel.

Clouds seem to creep over the hill -- ominous
The dental appointment went fine and it was a relief to finally have that loose filling repaired. Then I went to sister Harriet’s house. It’s her birthday today, and we visited and then went to lunch at Ernie’s Steakhouse where we sat on the balcony with a view of the valley. It was chilly until they moved us into the sun. We each had a hamburger. It tasted so good!

Back at home, I let the dogs out of the kennel and they napped in the house for a while. Bess is allowed to go in and out. She entertains herself with a ball or sits on top of the hill and watches. But Nellie may not go out unaccompanied because she wanders off. That’s bad enough, but she also finds her way into fenced yards and then can’t find her way out. She can’t – or doesn’t – hear, so it’s especially important to keep tabs on her. She doesn’t like that, though. I’ve learned that she needs some time to roam on her own, so I try to give her that while she’s under my watchful eye. Her care is time-consuming.

Nellie dawdles along
The chilly morning became a warm afternoon – 82 – and Nellie drug along on the walk. (She does not tolerate heat well.) When we got back to the house, she had some difficulty recovering, and I figured she would be too tired to move for the rest of the day. I was wrong. I inadvertently left the screen door open and while my back was turned, she slipped out. I looked up the street – and down the street. I looked behind the neighbors’ houses. I put my shoes on and went to the field behind the house. It’s practically useless to look for her because she could be around any corner. But then, to my relief, she suddenly appeared at the back door.

"I'm waiting for you."
The dogs don’t settle down well on these long evenings. “We don’t want to lie down,” they say. “I want to sit on your lap, Kathy” says Nellie. “No! – me, me. I want to sit on Kathy’s lap,” demands Bossy Bess. At 9:15 I put them to bed – and went to bed myself.

I looked over the slide project again this afternoon and decided that not all images need to be saved digitally and some don’t need to be saved at all. Apparently I had concluded this previously because in 2012 I wrote on a certain box, “Not interesting – some not even good – possible tossers.” I was of the same opinion today, so out they went.
L.J. at 3 1/2 years

But, I am careful because I also find precious gems, an example being this one of L.J. taken on Christmas Eve in 1958. KW