Greetings from Seattle

Tuesday, September 22, 2020


 Yesterday was the last day of summer for 2020. It wasn't the best of summers, what with COVID restrictions, smoke and devastating fires, and a difficult recovery from back surgery, but it was a beautiful summer here most of the time. I love summer and am always sad to see it go. Goodbye Summer. 

Today we say welcome to Autumn, and it is starting out beautifully. When we went out for our walk this morning, we stopped at Safeway to mail a letter in the blue drop box. The pumpkins were glowing in front of the store.

And the sky was a glorious blue.

Rain is on the way tomorrow to let us know that summer is really over. Maybe the blue sky will return next week. 

Yesterday we also said Goodbye to Betsy Brown Cat.

Here she is a few days ago sitting on my lap on the patio.

Betsy adopted us this summer, after encountering us in our yard. She soon became a regular visitor and we began to feed her when we couldn't locate anyone else who was caring for her. We do not want a house cat, and while having her visit outside was good for the summer, I began to worry about her as the rains started. We have very little shelter available outside. 

Two days ago I noticed clumps of cat hair on the table where we feed her. Something had attacked her. Then yesterday Charlie the Borrowed Cat showed up. He is out of confinement and had come to claim his territory. Betsy was in it. There was a lot of hissing and yowling, Tom got his arm badly lacerated by Charlie when he got in the way, and then Charlie viciously attacked little Betsy, who was standing her ground. The struggle went on across the yard until Betsy hid in some bushes, I hit Charlie on the nose, and he stalked off. 

I decided we couldn't keep Betsy safe. It was time to find her a new home. So we took her to King County Animal Control where they looked her over briefly. She is female, young, and not feral. Because she is comfortable with people, she is adoptable, and after 72 hours in quarantine, she will be put up for adoption.

I am sad for the ordeal this sweet little kitty is enduring, but I so hope she will find a forever home and the love and attention she craves. 

Goodbye, sweet little Betsy Brown Cat

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Smoke Has Cleared

 It is wonderful to be able to breath fresh air again, to have the window open at night for sleeping, and to go for a walk. 

On Saturday, after morning rain showers, I decided we desperately needed a change of scenery for our walk. Tom suggested the Cedar River Trail, which is a short drive from our house, level, and somewhat scenic. 

At physical therapy on Friday my therapist and I discussed how much walking I should do. It is getting harder and harder because of my hip degeneration. We decided about a mile and half was about my limit. That keeps me moving but without too much damage to my hip. Even that much is getting hard to do, but I persist.

I loved having a new trail for a change.

From the parking lot at Cedar River Park, we walked along the river to the freeway overpass. There is a walking underpass across the river there and the walking trail is on the other side of the river. 

We follow the river through the still, cool greenness.

It's hard for me to not want to go around the next bend, and then the next, but we did turn around about here. It turned out to be 1.85 miles, but I enjoyed all of it. 
In the more exposed areas the leaves are turning and falling. 

Back over the underpass over the river. 
The fish counting weir is set up again for the fall salmon run, but so far only a few fish were visible. We'll have to come back, for more golden leaves and more salmon spawning in the gravely river bed. 
And then there's this. 

My PT thinks I may need a walker before I can make it to my hip replacement surgery in January. We know that I will need one after my surgery, so I had her go ahead and order one for me. 

I did not expect it to be delivered the same day! I got a phone call Friday afternoon letting me know it would be delivered by 9:00. It was well after 9:30 when it arrived. I documented it with a photo, and then I had Tom put it away in a back closet. I did not want to see it. I don't know how all of this will turn out, but I plan to leave it there for as long as possible. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Emergency Kit

 9/11 always reminds us that it is time to refresh the emergency kit.  Last year we didn't do it, and it's a good thing that the big earthquake didn't hit this last year, because when we opened the kit, we found a mess. One of the gallons of water sprung a leak from the bottom and the whole gallon of water was absorbed by all of the other contents and then sat that way for who knows how long. 

Needless to say everything perishable or paper had to be tossed. We pretty much started over from scratch.

We have emergency kit lists that tell us what we should have for at least three days. We keep camping gear in the garage and figure we can most likely get to that if we need to. The kit holds food and first aid supplies and toiletries and extra socks and hats and gloves and flashlights and batteries and more. Our new hand crank emergency radio arrives today from Amazon. 

So we went shopping. The list from Safeway was long. Food stuffs include canned soups, chili, crackers and peanut butter, granola bars, instant oatmeal, some canned fruit, and candy. Lots of other stuff landed in the cart too, like hand soap, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and on and on. 

The work bench in the garage became a staging area. This time the water will be stored on a shelf in the garage and not in the kit. 

Then today we went to a drug store to resupply the first aid kit. More stuff to buy. Finally it was time to repack the emergency tub, which had been freshly scrubbed and aired out. 

The tub will sit on top of the camp box. Tom made this a long time ago as a camp kitchen to sit on the tailgate of a pick up truck. In the good old days we used to take our kids tent camping. 

It still has a lot of good stuff in it and is quite workable sitting on a picnic table, or a work bench. 

Of course none of this would have been very useful if our emergency had been a fire. So many have lost their homes and their livelihoods, and in too many cases, their lives. Smoke still hangs heavy in our air, a reminder of the hardships many continue to face. 

But we are ready for the earthquake. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Orange Is the New Blue

 As if the COVID restrictions weren't bad enough, now we can't even go out of our house to go for a walk. 

Well, I could, but all of the medical experts are warning me not too. Breathing our smoke filled air is equivalent to smoking 24 packs of cigarettes, or something like that. 

There is an eerie yellowish-orangeish glow to everything. I did go outside to get the newspaper and took a few photos.

Interestingly, my phone camera blocks out most of the smokey color, so I stood at the window and edited the saturation until it matched what I saw outside. The flowers in front of the window are glowing. 

At least we have a house to stay inside of. So many have lost their homes to the wild fires, and more are in danger. As many as 500,000 people were under evacuation orders in Oregon alone. I just heard yesterday that long time family friends living in the foothills east of our hometown, Molalla, lost their home this week.

The death toll is rising and it is feared that it will go higher as missing are accounted for. While the weather here in Washington and Oregon is moderating and will help, California is really just beginning their fire season. If the Santa Anna winds pick up, disaster will strike even harder. 

Cabin fever is better than being cabinless. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020


 The news here is filled with stories and film footage of wild fires burning in Washington, Oregon, and California. 

First, let me assure you that we are safe, and so far all of my scattered family members are too. But it is a scary time, and many of my relatives live in areas that could be hit by wildfires. 

We heard news of a fire near my old home town of Molalla, Oregon, and sure enough, a large lumber mill is on fire. We lived just a few miles from there and passed this mill every time we went to school or to town or to church. With limited water to fight it, the local fire departments are just keeping it confined to the large mill site, and putting out any fires that break away to nearby farm property. They just have to let the log piles burn. 

Fire also struck just south of Rockaway Beach on the coast highway, and there were photos of Rockaway full of smoke. Homes are being destroyed.

Closer to home, a large fire was burning south of us near Sumner, a town we visited often because of a great nursery there. We know people who live in Bonney Lake, where evacuations have taken place and some homes are lost. 

These are not fires on open range land or forests, but on hillsides near populated areas, and there are way too many of them.

Our weather is still hot. We'll hit 90 again today, but the dry east wind had slackened, so we hope it will be easier to get the fires under control. The smoke here in the city has mostly cleared and breathing is easier. But we are the fortunate ones. 

Tom has most of the clean up done from the windstorms, and we were lucky not to lose power. We have been walking earlier in the mornings, before it gets hot. So far, there isn't much promise of rain  or respite, although the temps should moderate a bit. 

We continue to count our blessings, and make donations to help those not so blessed. 


Update, 3:00 PM Thursday: My hometown of Molalla has just been issued an evacuation order. Up to 30,000 people in the area are under evacuation warnings as three fires rage out of the foothills and down into the Willamette Valley. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

When the Sun Goes Down on Labor Day

 It is now Tuesday, September 6th. Labor Day weekend is behind us. For many, that means summer is over. For those of us fortunate enough to be securely retired, summer will continue for a couple more weeks.

I have mentioned before that Labor Day weekend makes me feel melancholy, still getting that end of summer loss of freedom feeling that the start up of the school year always gave me.

Well, I didn't get that feeling this year! It must be that it is 2020 and nothing is the same. But I did still continue the tradition I started some years back of going to capture the sunset on Labor Day as the sun sets on summer.

The Des Moines Marina, on Puget Sound, south of Seattle,  is the perfect nearby place to do that.

But the weekend was not all about the ending of summer. On Sunday I actually got something done. I went for my walk and did my PT exercises, and I picked flowers.
The first of the paste tomatoes had ripened, so I decided it was time to get the two bags to Roma tomatoes out of the freezer that were left over from last year and make tomato sauce. 

I roasted the fresh tomatoes with herbs from the garden. I ran the frozen tomatoes under hot water to loosen and remove the skins. I chopped them up and cooked them. Then I removed the skins from the roasted tomatoes, added them to the pot, smoothed them all out with an immersion blender, and cooked it all for an hour to reduce and thicken the sauce. 

I now have four pints of tomato sauce in the freezer. It's a start. 

We have been having high winds, high temperatures,  and very low humidity and the fire danger is very high, even here on the west side of the mountains. One small town has been wiped out and more are threatened. We have power outages, and there is debris from trees everywhere. We have a big clean up to do once the wind settles. 

Summer isn't done with us yet. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Just a Few Gerties

 It's Labor Day weekend, time for the annual family gathering we call the Phosie-Gertie Picinc. 

For the uninitiated to our family traditions, here is the well documented Phosie-Gertie 2019.

But, alas, it's 2020, and nothing is as it should be. Being a mostly law abiding family, we heed the COVID rules. Besides we old folks want to live to be a little older. So, we did not gather the gaggle of aunts and uncles and cousins and hangers on at the Whidbey compound this year. 

Jill and her kids and Jan booked the Reeder/Foster cabin for the weekend. and Tom and I joined them for the day on Saturday. We didn't do the water balloon toss or the sand castle contest, but we did use the official site to take our group photo.

Tom and Jan are the direct descendants of their Gramma Gertie, as are Jill and the kids. We honored the elders by letting them sit down. :-) 

We did sit on the beach.

Jill and Irene walked out on the tide flats.Those two little specks just to the left of the point of Double Bluff are them. I don't do tide flat walking right now, but I did get a good walk and talk along the shoreline with Jill. 

Jill and Irene also managed to catch the ice cream truck on the beach road. 

Of course we ate. There were hot dogs and brats and macaroni salad and baked beans and watermelon. That was all after the cheese and cracker course. I had a beer. As usual I forgot to take photos of the eating. There was also lots of good conversation all day long. 

As the golden hour passed in the pinkish sky of sundown and smoke, the kids went out on the paddle boards for a while. 

Then we all went back to the cabin for berry pie and mounds of ice cream. 

Tom and I left for home after the pie, bringing a couple of pieces back home with us. I did make it, after all. :-)

It was a wonderful day. I got hugs and got to catch up with the kids and what's happening with the puzzle that is school these days. I spent good time visiting with Jill and with Jan, and I felt taken care of. That was lovely. 

While the Phosie-Gertie couldn't happen, it was a great day with just a few Gerties. 
Word has arrived from the Whidbey compound. the Phosie-Gertie flag has been hoisted.
The P-G family is now lighting up Facebook, adding selfie layers to the group photo. Fun!