Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Booster Shots and Shoes

As it turned out, we did not go downtown Spokane on Tuesday, we went and got BOOSTER SHOTS!!!! We got them at Safeway, it was not a hassle, there were no lines and the pharmacist was very nice.  We'll probably go back next week for flu shots.  Hopefully they will have the four times strength flu vaccine in stock so we can get that one.  Next year we have to get the TDAP booster, I do not want to get pertussis or tetanus, so we go in every ten years for the shot.  The Covid booster has not been terrible.  I have a little redness and a lump at the injection site, but that's about it.  

Today was downtown Spokane day.  There are some attractive old buildings there, well old by standards in the US.  I don't know what this one is.  It's getting some rehabbing work which is always good.

This is a Presbyterian church.  It's just lovely.

We went to REI to return the five pairs of shoes we'd ordered online from them.  Their return process is flawless, it's fast and they don't make you feel like the money is coming out of their paychecks.  While there we had to look at other stuff.

We looked at snow shoes.  Look at that, they have arrived in our garage.  Last year they sold out way before the first snow fall.  The snow shoe guy doesn't think demand will be that high this year, but then again, the freighters are all stuck out on the water and not off loading stuff.  You can return for a year for any reason, so we got them.  Now we need snow.

We also looked at shoes.  I mentioned earlier that the Hoka Sky Toas were not working for Jim.  No, I have no idea why they named a shoe a Sky Toa.  Anyway, they went back today.  However, they did have Hoka Speed Goats in stock.  Jim tried them and liked them, and more importantly his feet liked them.  That's his Goat on the left, mine is on the right.  Mine are very cheerful.  They're water proof, the sole is not so stiff that they hurt when walking on concrete.  We have those shoes already for hiking.  These are actually going to the grocery store shoes.

I think we're done with shoes for awhile.  Now we have to move on to woolly hats, gloves and all of that.  We are not spending the winter in the house, we will go outside and embrace freezing cold weather.

After that it was off to Costco for staples.  The eight pound package of pasta we have been buying was not available, nor were the Nature's Bakery cookies or the marinara sauce we like.  Not sure if it's shortages or regional differences in what they carry.  The important thing was there was much toilet paper and many paper towels.

So, that was today and yesterday.  Tomorrow is a ride day.

Monday, September 27, 2021

A Walk in the Woods and a Chandelier

Yesterday was forecast to be the last good day.  Statistically, there are very few days over 70 after October 1 in Spokane.  Since it was so nice, we decided to walk up the trails on the hill behind us.  Actually, I think you would call it a bluff.  Over millions of years, lava oozed out of fissures in the earth in this area, so there is basalt everywhere.  Some of it is quite large.  So it was off into the woods with us. 

One of our neighbors backs up to the bluff.  He has installed an axe throwing target on a stand.   

This is new construction in the middle of the woods.  I'm not clear on how you get to this house, but evidently you can.  This site for a house does not call to me.  Too isolated and dark.  Look closely at the dirt, can you see all of the small rocks?  Planting anything here will be difficult.

They appear to be having difficulty choosing a paint color.

This house is up the street from us.  Look at the rock mid photo.  There's an even larger one up the hill.  People like to have water features so that water flows down the rock face and sounds nice.  Our neighbor next door has a big one on the face of the bluff.

When we came home, we decided to wash the house since it was nice out.  Brushes were deployed and dirt was removed.  I'm not really a fan of vinyl siding, but I will say it cleans up very nicely with minimal effort.  Cedar siding would require much more water pressure than we used.  Now the front door is once again white and it and the rest of the house look good.   

Today, after a sunny start to the morning, the predicted clouds rolled in shortly after I took the picture of the maple.  His leaves are starting to turn, soon there will be leaf removal.

With the weather looking not great, we decided to replace the chandelier in the dining room.  It had to go.  I had no idea it would be so difficult.  It was the little stuff, like shoving the ground wire up through the threaded nipple.  The ground wire did not want to go.  Then it was separating the hot and neutral wires which come bonded together.  Stripping the hot and neutral was a pain, Jim took a box knife to them, which was better than the wire stripper.  Eventually, we prevailed and I am very happy.  In addition to being butt ugly, the old fixture didn't work well with the rheostat and flickered something terrible.

Here is the old one.  I dislike stuff that's unnecessarily ornate.

Here is the new one.  We put the same fixture in the Tucson house after removing a really huge ornate chandelier.  It's working well with the rheostat.

The rain did get here along with some wind, but it did not last long.  If it's not raining pigs and chickens tomorrow we're going to go downtown to REI and return five pairs of shoes.  Jim spent several hours in the Hokas today and they're just not working out for him.  Maybe there will be something else in the store to try on.  

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Boots and Furniture

Greetings Earthlings, how are things in your part of the galaxy?  I read somewhere that you should not waste fall in Spokane.  The writer was correct, the weather here has been delightful.  We're getting that deep, intense blue in the skies.  West of the mountains we would occasionally see it, but over here it's been a daily event.

October 22 will be the neighborhood-wide blow out of the sprinkler systems.  We have two hose bibs that come up out of the ground, which struck us as really odd.  Turns out they provide water to the sprinkler system, and once they are blown out, they can not be used again until spring because turning on the water there will put water in the pipes, which will freeze and cause water leaks as the pipes expand and break.  We had a sprinkler guy out showing us how to turn off heads, and redirect heads and he told us.  That alone made the expense of having him out well worth it.  Who knew?

There has been riding.  Last Tuesday we looked for a new trail head that does not make us do 12% climbs.  They're too hard on the knees.  After a significant amount of driving, we found trail that's rolling terrain.  Unfortunately, it's not a separated path (from the cars) but the shoulder is very wide and no one brushed us or tried to scare us.  

This is a dam.

Look mid photo, I think that's a hydro generating plant.

Sign on a pit toilet - you take your life in your hands now!

We're only about 10 minutes out of downtown Spokane, but it gets very rural.

Of course, the first thing you wonder is "What is that?"  It's a good thing.  Back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, Levi Hutton built the settlement.  He and his wife were orphans, and grew up hungry and unloved, forced to survive on their own.  They struck it rich with a mine they bought in Wallace, ID.  Levi took the money and built a settlement to care for children who had no one to take them in.  From what I can tell, it's still a going concern.  You can read more about it here.

There has been boot trying on.  As I suspected, the tall Hokas were not a contender, my ankles will not tolerate them.  So they went back to Zappos.  They've implemented a new thing that your money is refunded when the shipping label is read at UPS.  That's a nice feature.

I think the ones on the left are keepers  I like the way the one on the right looks better, but there is too much point in the toe and my toes are just not having it.  The one on the right is a Keen, which is odd because usually they have duck toes, as in really big toe boxes.  The ones on the left are Hoka Speed Goats.  I don't know why women's Hokas have to have all of the weird colors, and the men's are more subdued.

It looks like Jim's Hokas are going back.  His heels don't like them.  We did order a new pair of Lowa Zephyr GTX that are water proof.  His original Zephyrs are his favorite shoes, and so we're hoping for the same from these boots.  The sole is a little stiffer than the original.

We tried a new trail yesterday, Fish Lake trail.  It's a rail conversion and pretty much defines boredom.  It's a paved trail through a tunnel of trees.  I think we're one and done on this one.

There was a giant, multi part order placed with Amazon and Overstock, which has been trickling in.  In Tucson I could order something in the afternoon, and it would arrive the next day.  Oddly enough, that is not the case here.  Things take days, some times weeks to get here.  Yesterday we received the TV stand for downstairs, the snowy boot tray for draining of the shoes, and a chair.  There is mass cardboard waiting for recycle day.

Chair in a box.

Chair out of the box.

Chair now in the office.  It was relatively easy to assemble, unlike many pieces we have done.

Other than footwear and furniture  I have zippity doo dah all to say here.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Week in Review

It has been a productive week.  There was another bike ride on the Centennial trail.  We have to find somewhere else to park.  Leaving from the Military Cemetery trailhead puts you on a section with a couple of short but very steep grades, one of them feels like 12%.  When one is riding a very heavy mountain bike, it's hard.  I'm not sure I could get up it on the road bike, which is way lighter, because it doesn't have the mountain bike gearing.  We know there are flatter stretches, we've ridden them before.  

Tuesday we got new drivers licenses.  When I lived here back in the 80s and 90s, a trip to the license place felt like hand to hand combat.  Many people would get there before it opened, stand in front of the door, and dare anyone to try to jump the queue.  Today, they've implemented appointments that you make on line, and they provide a comprehensive list of documents you will need to have.  We got there 30 minutes early, took a picture of the QR code outside the office, and someone came out immediately to usher us in.  It was painless.  Friday we registered the cars.  Our timing was perfect, late morning but before the lunch rush.  As Arizona residents, we were paying close to $2,000 a year in car tabs.  Washington used to be expensive, but Tim Eyman and his ballot initiatives dropped the prices considerably.  He almost killed the Ferry system, which is part of the highway system, but it did lower the plate fees.  Both cars were right around $300 total.  Plates are higher west of the Cascades because the voters frequently approve measures that are paid for by license fees.  Spokane county is too red for that.

Food here is much higher than Tucson.  We expected that avocados and lettuce would be more due to transportation costs; however everything is more here.  Gas is 60 cents a gallon higher, due to Washington's higher gas taxes.  This is offset by lower property taxes than in Tucson and the aforementioned lower license plate fees. 

NBC did another piece on the supply chain and rising costs of everything.  Apparently artificial Christmas trees are going to be in short supply, and therefore,  more expensive.  I offer this screen shot of a Michael's ad in evidence.

Can you believe that?  Admittedly, it's an outlier, but really.

I was looking at table top trees on Amazon and saw this.  It gets terrible reviews, it's not actually this pretty, but it's amusing.

When we bought the house, the previous owners had the TV on top of the gas fireplace, and the cable box and other stuff on shelves above.  They looked like this.  Clearly, they had to go.

 Here is Jim, removing them from the area.

Now they are gone.  The white is the previous color of the walls.  There was much less sheet rock damage than we were expecting.  Painting will be required.  I'm not sure what the previous owners were doing in the house, there are small round holes everywhere.  I hope we get a good paint match so we can march through with a can of spackle and then dab with the paint.

Do you have a sound bar on your TV?  We bought a new television yesterday (anything with a chip will be in short supply), and took the old one down stairs.  Installing the new TV was nightmarish, there are LG channels, and this channels and that channels none of which we wanted, and every time I turned on the cable box it would turn off the TV.  It took awhile to get that sorted out.  Then we went down stairs to pair the remote with the TV that used to have the sound bar attached.  It would not work, no matter what, there was no sound.  As it turns out, when you attach a sound bar, the bar changes the audio settings on the TV without your knowledge.  Later, when you try to run the TV without a sound bar, there is no sound at all.  We did not know this, it took a 20 minute call to Xfinity to sort that out.  Once that was discovered, all worked as it should.  Please make a note of this.

All of Idaho is now in Crisis Standards of Care.  This effectively renders everyone in the hospital as Do Not Resuscitate.  If you're in the the hospital because of cardiac arrest and not Covid, you're DNR as well.  They don't have the staffing levels available to run a full code on a bunch of people.  You would think that this might spur people to get vaccinated, but no.  In a case of cognitive dissonance, people in Florida won't take the free vaccine because they don't know what's in it.  However, they are lining up in droves for monoclonal antibodies which are lab created.  That treatment costs thousands of dollars and requires infusion clinics which takes medical staff out of the already over burdened hospitals.  Go figure.

So, this is what we've been doing, in addition to acquiring and spreading more rocks.  

Update to post:  There has been sort of a retraction of everybody is DNR in Idaho.  Apparently, if there are enough ventilators then they will put you on a vent.  But then they turn around if say if your heart stops we're not doing CPR, which sounds like DNR to me.  The explainer article can be found here.  I still think they're in a world of hurt.

Monday, September 13, 2021

A No Work Day

Yesterday morning I dumped an almost full 16 ounce glass of water on my laptop.  It survived.  In the process of mopping water off the screen with a cloth napkin that was not terribly absorbent, all of the dust from Tucson still remaining on the screen has become an impenetrable layer of something.  It makes it hard to see the screen when there is light on it.  Soon I will be forced to turn the thing off, which is always fraught because one of these days it won't come back on because it is old and fragile, and clean the screen with something.  I'm fairly shocked that it continued working.  I put a fan on it all day which may or may not have done any good, but it made me feel better.  

In the afternoon we drove out to the Spokane Valley Home Depot.  Spokane Valley is closer to Idaho, and it shows.  Way fewer people were wearing masks, and the agricultural vibe is strong.  Speaking of Idaho.  They are doing zippity doo-dah all about Covid mitigation.  No mask mandates, no push for vaccination, nothing, nada, niente.  The governor and AG are trying to figure out how to circumvent the vaccination mandates put in place by President Biden. Their hospitals are buckling under the strain of all of the people in ICU.  They don't have beds, ventilators or staff.  The federal government is sending people to help.  They are also exporting patients to Spokane.  Since the Spokane hospitals are now so full of their own unvaccinated and Idaho's, surgeries like removing brain tumors and knee/hip replacements are being deferred.  I have a serious issue with that.  Not that anyone cares what I think.  In Coeur d'Alene they are setting up on the fair grounds to have infusion centers for mono clonal antibodies for people who are still only mildly sick.  I don't know why they think the same people who would not get vaccinated are going to take a lab grown artificial protein that mimics a human antibody.  NYT did a piece on the problem, which you can read here.

This was last night.  I've had this lamp for years, it was always in a place where it didn't get used, and now it's out in the open.  We turn it on, we like the light and the way it shines through Jim's sailing trophy.  Jim's team won the Swiftsure race and set a course record in 1995; the next year Roy Disney came up and won with a new course record.

I have to to wash this window!  There were some pretty clouds, we need to be higher on the hill.

Today we did no work.  There was no weeding, hauling of rocks, none of that.  Instead we took the mountain bikes out to the Centennial trail.  From this website we learn "The Centennial Trail is a nearly 40-mile paved recreational trail for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. The trail stretches from Sontag Park in Nine Mile Falls, Washington to the Washington / Idaho state line. It continues another 24 miles beyond the Washington state border into Idaho as the North Idaho Centennial trail through Post Falls and into Coeur d'Alene."  Part of it is under construction and requires riding with traffic for the duration.  We did find places to park that will keep us off the road.  Given the hospital situation, I'm not willing to risk playing in traffic.

This is the view of the river close to where we parked.

Our trail head is called the Military Cemetery trail head.  This is the cemetery.  It was odd how many grave markers were for infants.  1955 - 1959 seem to have been bad years to be a baby.

The trail is under construction, and there is a detour posted for work on the trail as well as road work.  We drove up to see how grisly the detour would be; we are somewhat deterred.  Anyway, this is what we saw along the way.  I have no idea why this is here.

It's an old part of town, high on the bluff over looking the river.  Look at the size of the deciduous trees.  There will be much gathering of dead leaves.

Here we have the John Finch nurses' home, built in 1929.  From the website I can't tell if student nurses lived there, or if it's a retirement facility.  It's a good looking building with an excellent view.

I would guess this belonged to an original mover and shaker in Spokane from years back.  It's a pretty cool house.

Tomorrow we go to the DMV to get driver's licenses.  Once again I will have an ID photo that makes me look like the walking dead.  Can't wait.  At least they schedule appointments now, it used to be first come, first serve and the wait was long.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The 9/11 Boatlift

I did not know, until today, that 500,000 people were evacuated from Manhattan via boat on 9/11.  All  of the routes off the island were closed, so people headed towards the water.  I'm surprised this has received so little attention.  People were so desperate to leave, some were jumping in the water, planning to swim to safe harbor.  At first the ferries and the Coast Guard were picking up people, but then the call went out for more boats.  Party boats, fishing boats and tugs came to get the people.  

As with the land based first responders, many people driving the boats ended up with cancer and lung issues from being in the smoke.

There is an article here that describes what happened that day.  In the article is a link to an 11 minute interview with people who were there, narrated by Tom Hanks. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Let the Buying Begin!

We are woefully under kitted for winter feet.  I am ordering shoes from the comfort of my comfy chair.  I hate trying on shoes more than just about anything.  I've ordered cute boots from REI, which have arrived.  They're probably going back - they discomfit my outermost three toes, they're a little too pointy for my feet.  My toes have not been constrained in decades and they're not happy about the idea.

I just ordered these from REI for Jim.  It would be nice if they could be an everyday shoe.  Maybe, maybe not.

These are for me, from Zappos (free shipping, free returns).   As a rule, I don't do well with higher boots because I pronate so badly.  However, I need something for snow shoeing, although I guess I could just get gaiters.  No wait, no snow shoeing in the cute boots. 

Then there is the question of where does one put one's wet snowy boots upon arrival in the garage?  I was out on the decorating sites and many of them are pushing rimmed cookie trays full of attractive rocks.  The rocks hold the foot wear out of the water allowing for better drying.  However, once the cookie tray is full of water the pebbles make dumping it difficult.  We have not had to think about wet shoes since 2007, we're out of practice on this sort of thing.

I have completed the removal of the ground creeping weed that lives around here in abundance.  I'm done with sitting in the rocks prying them up with the weed sticker.  Any survivors or pieces I missed will be getting hit with RoundUp.  That was two days of my life I will never get back.

Oh, and there are toe socks so we can continue wearing the flip flops in the house.  I am not at all sure how these are going to work out.  Both of us hate slippers, so that may motivate us to like the socks.

This was taken the other morning, it was a pretty sky.

So, that's it, buying shoes and digging up weeds.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Still Hauling Rocks

There are some really really unattractive plants in this yard.  We dug up another one today, its root ball was bigger than my head.  We had to buy "dirt" to fill in the hole.  I don't think it's really dirt, it looks like there is a lot of ground up wood in the mix.  Anyway, it did the job and leveled where the plant used to be.  There are two more ugly ones, but I think I will wait until spring to dig them up.  Then we poured volcanic rock everywhere to try to make it look like the rest of the border.  After that, we had an hour or so with the weed stickers pulling up the ground cover weeds out of the graveled path. 

We also cut down the dead pyramidalis and cut it into little pieces.  Our neighbor had room in her yard waste container, so it'll be taken out for composting tomorrow.  Next year we're going to have to have one of those, I think.  Even though there is now a gap in the row of trees, it's nice not to have to look at the poor dead thing.

There was a sunset recently.  We need to clean the kitchen window, it's interesting how visible the water spots on the glass are.

This morning there were deer.

The baby stood and looked at me for a bit.  There was also a male with a good sized set of antlers, but he was too far away to get a picture.

Thursday the junk guys are coming.  I am so excited about this.  We haven't been able to put the Jeep in the garage because of the debris.  The office chair is not going, but the boxes and shelving units are leaving.

These are the bags containing the honey suckle we cut down, and the day lillies that are gone.  Those are heavy bags.

The previous owners had objects stuck in the ground in many places.  They, too, are leaving.  Right now, the path is a trip hazard, and I'm looking forward to it being cleared out.  The tubes you see snaking across the ground are part of the irrigation system that we currently have turned off.  It was running too often, for too long and leaking. Hopefully the sprinkler guy can work us in to his schedule on Friday because he'll be in the neighborhood up the hill.

Governor Abbot was asked today why there was no exemption for victims of rape in the new anti-abortion bill.  He replied with the fact that the woman has six weeks to get it done so why is that a problem.  He then followed up with a statement that he would be eliminating rape in Texas by searching out and arresting all future rapists. ( I'm having trouble with that logic path.)  Unfortunately, no one on the press asked him why Texas has a backlog of 6,000 or so rape kits that have yet to be worked up.  Meanwhile, the snitch website to report people has been kicked off its second platform, so currently they are de-platformed.  First Go-Daddy dumped them, then Epik.

Northern Idaho has adopted "crisis standards of care," meaning they are rationing treatment.  If you're not a good bet to survive, you're moved out to comfort care.  Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.  I wonder how the recently transplanted Californians are feeling right about now.  

So, other than this, I have nothing interesting to recount. 

Later... we have smoke moving in.  There is a contrail cutting across the sun, which was pretty cool.