Sally GracieBy Sally Gracie

Though just one hummingbird stopped by during last week’s cold spell, the ants continue their march across the railing to the feeder. They emptied two-thirds of the sugar water meant for the hummers.

On his way south, my pink flamingo intends to make a stopover in Bend, Ore., to visit Mary Thompson.

I’ve rolled up a couple of hoses and put the garden ornaments away in preparation for winter. As each year passes, I come closer to an October when I’ll say, “Why bother. The snow will cover everything, and I’ll clean up when it melts.”

I happened to be at Methow Recycles near closing on Saturday, and found Sharla Lynn was the solitary person on duty, and she’s the assistant manager. Where are the volunteers? If you’re fit and able to drive one of their cute little fork lifts (not required), give them a shout at

I hadn’t been there for a while, and here’s what I noticed. Methow Recycles is accepting clean aluminum foil and pie plates. They will accept clear plastic bags, but can no longer accept green or blue. Check the website for a full list of recyclables.

Also, the Methow Valley Community Center aluminum bin has been moved to the outbuilding behind the glass collection; proceeds from the sale of this recyclable go to the center. Hours remain the same: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

So far this season, Ki Gottberg, new artistic director at The Merc Playhouse, has directed Memory House, a reader’s theater production, and The Vampire or The Bride of the Isles, billed as an “audio play.” On both occasions, Ki has been there to greet us at the door, and she seems happy to be here in Twisp.

Ki brought out two very intense, dramatic readings from Morgan Tate and Bo Thrasher in Memory House. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed the mother-daughter drama.

Ki updated The Vampire…, a melodrama written in 1820, to hilarious effect, adding contemporary slang, props – a pink gun, for instance – and rock music. The story was presented as a radio play. She and her pals, the five-member Seattle ensemble called Madcap Melodrama, deftly managed a dozen roles.

Had I been listening through headphones, as the first two rows were, I’m certain I wouldn’t have realized how many of the male characters were read by women. This production deserved a larger crowd.

Ki has an exuberant personality and lots of energy. I’m looking forward to the rest of The Merc’s schedule.

Read Julian Fellowes’ novel, Snobs: A Novel of Modern Manners and you’ll wonder if he hasn’t been taking us for a ride with the Downton Abbey series, which he created. But of course he has.

Downton Abbey appeals to our fascination with the ways of the British upper classes, and has made Fellowes a bundle of money and 39 nominations at the Emmys besides. Snobs, as the title tells us, plays up – as opposed to “putting down”– the titled set’s denseness, shallowness and preoccupation with their own exclusivity. I’m loving this book.