02-02-2022 January Journal

Most of January has been introspective. The fog lingered from the beginning of the month to almost the very end with only a day or two of respite. I have spent many moments lost in attempting to figure out the meaning of the complex dreams that have haunted my early morning hours of sleep. Dreams that are filled with people and work, landscapes familiar and unknown, roads that go nowhere, and lost cars, keys, and even homes.

I wake to darkness, checking out the window to see if the fog has lifted, and make small attempts to find meaning in the purpose of each season of my life. In one dream I was training young soil scientists to do what I used to do in ways that I did it, and they showed me new ways that they are doing the work I used to do. On that particular morning, I also dreamed that I was running, strong and lithe, running for miles, enthralled by the strength and stamina of my legs and breath. Those kinds of dreams can bring a shock when the waking me attempts to hobble to the bathroom in the darkness.

The fog is often freezing, and I have to remember to bring in the hummingbird feeders in at night or to thaw them out in the morning. The one or two little birds that depend on this feeder throughout the winter need me to pay attention. We traveled nowhere in January, except for one short day trip to Klamath Falls.  I have no exciting stories or photos of trips to beaches or mountains or deserts to share with you this month.  Just a few random thoughts here and there.

Mo spent many days working on a damaged door of my sewing table, coming back inside at dinner time with frozen hands and red cheeks. She is much better at weathering the cold than I am. It takes every bit of internal discipline that I can muster to get me to go outside when it is cold.

On one day, the sunshine came out by noon and the temperature got up to 50 degrees by 4PM. I managed to get outside long enough to rake and clear a couple of flower beds. Pretty sure that is the extent of my accomplishments for the month, but maybe if I search around I can find a couple more. I am lucky.  I still enjoy bi-weekly coffee dates with my newest friend, Kristin, and Sunday visits from my daughter Deborah, often including a late Sunday breakfast to share.  I have phone conversations with Maryruth, and talks with friends here and there.  I do the shopping and cleaning and other household stuff that keeps me feeling at least a bit useful. I made a small table cover for a living room side table after drumming up enough energy to put out a very few decorations for the coming Valentine’s Day season.  A flag, a wreath, nothing like my crazy all-out décor for Christmas, or for fall.

Yesterday, the sun was once again shining and even in the cold temperatures, Mo stayed outside for hours raking the last of the leaves that had accumulated in our roadside drainage ditch and loading them into the trailer. Tomorrow we will go to the compost facility and hopefully, that will be the last load of debris that we haul to the dump from 2021.

My solution to the cold and fog of January is to start another puzzle, clean the living room end of the house on Friday, wash the sheets and clean the bedrooms on Monday. I cook dinners, and while we are eating, I am trying to think up what I will cook for the next day if we don’t have enough for leftovers.

Toward the end of the month, my book group met at the home of one of our members for a great discussion of the books we each gave and received at our December Christmas meeting. It was a bit of a mish-mash, with everyone talking at once sometimes, and too much to discuss. Made me glad that most of the time we have only one book on the agenda, and the reader’s book club questions are reasonably straightforward.

Laura on the left was our hostess for the evening.  Joan is our eldest member.  Kristin on the right.

Robyn, our youngest, brings the perspective of youth and art, trained in Portland

Sarah, our fearless leader of the group, willing to herd the cats (women) into coherent discussions

The next day, I told Mo I had had enough of the fog and that weather cams were showing brilliant sunshine in the Klamath Basin. All we had to do was go up, and we could be out of the fog. We left early, still in a frosty fog, but within a few miles toward the mountains with a bit of a rise in elevation, we found ourselves in brilliant sunshine. Even with the recent snows, the roads were clear, with icy spots in the shaded parts but nothing to worry about.

I wanted to see the birds. I knew there were geese and swans somewhere in the refuge south of town. We weren’t in a big hurry, though, and took the time to revisit our old homes.

Last photos we took of the Rocky Point house when we made the final move in 2016

The road that Mo used to plow leading to her past home in Rocky Point was shaded and still snowed in. We spun a bit in the Lexus but managed to get turned around and back down to Rocky Point Road without getting stuck. Neither of us missed that old drive and plowing and shoveling that snow.

Continuing east toward Klamath Falls, we drove into town and up to the Pacific Terrace area to see how my old house on Painter Street was doing. It makes my heart so happy to see that little house so very much loved and cared for by the sweet couple who bought it. We stopped in the alley to check it out and they were in the yard. Kind and friendly as always, they asked if I wanted to come in. I had already seen what a great job they did with the little house a few years ago so didn’t need to bother them. Still, Mo and I were tickled to see how much they had done to the outside as well, with new fences and landscaping, new deck, a new roof, new air conditioning, a new gas fireplace. So many things that I didn’t have the resources to do when I was living there. It was a sweet visit.


New owners of the Painter Street House

Same spot back in 2003 right after I bought this sweet little house. Sold in 2015.

We then drove north of town to check out Mo’s apartments. She bought them in the mid-’90s, and we lived in them for two years while we were transitioning from the Rocky Point house to our Sunset House here in Grants Pass. Old blog readers (not many of you left anymore) will remember the months we spent with 4 properties, driving between all of them with our trailer filled with the tractor and lawnmower and yard tools trying to keep everything maintained.

The apartments looked very full, with lots of vehicles parked about. We kept cars contained when we lived there but now this area is lined with vehicles. The guy who bought the apartments is part of an extended family and I am sure everyone is happy to have the five apartments to park their relatives and space to park their cars. In addition, the old abandoned warehouse across the street is abandoned no more, with tons of big equipment and vehicles and what appeared to be a lot of noisy activity going on. Nope, we don’t miss the apartments either, although they served a wonderful purpose for us over the years.

On the way to the refuge, we stopped at the cemetery to place some flowers on the spot where Mo’s parents are buried. Later, I stopped in at Tater Patch Quilt store in Merlin, one of the greatest quilt stores in the state of Oregon. I do miss being close to Tater Patch, but it no doubt saves me a lot of money to not have that temptation closer then a full 4 hours drive.

By the time we got to the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge, it was afternoon. We drove the entire west side of the sump areas, usually completely flooded and filled with birds. Not a bird in sight.

Same location in 2015 when Judy the Bird Lady of Blogland was a volunteer at the refuge

I was heartbroken when I saw the drained wetlands of the Tulelake Wildlife Refuge until I did some searching and found that the cracked, dry bottom of the wetlands aren’t completely caused by drought. Every few years, to keep the wetlands healthy, they need to be drained so that emergent vegetation has a chance to grow once again. The drought is ever-present and even with the rains from last fall, is still extreme. There isn’t enough water for all the birds, fish, rivers, and people who need it. Too much allocated and not enough to go around, all beginning with the days back in 1906 when the wetlands were drained and the Klamath Project was created to make productive farmlands out of a magnificent wet wilderness, once called the Everglades of the West.

Back then, it never occurred to anyone that eventually there might not be enough water to go around, that the climate might change, that the rains might not continue as they did back then during a historical wet period. It is an ongoing story, an ongoing fight. I was thrilled to see a recent article reach the national news in the Washington Post. It was probably the best article I have read in all the years I have studied and worked in the Klamath Basin, presenting the problems from all perspectives: the fish, the lake, the rivers, the salmon, the Tribes, the ranchers, the farmers, the people just trying to live on land where the wells are going dry. The story as always made me cry inside. Fabulously written and beautifully photographed, it is worth searching out if you are inclined to do so. Here is the link: Klamath Basin Crisis

I thought that perhaps there was still water on the east side of the refuge, and later photos from birders in the area confirmed my suspicion. Still, we were getting a bit tired, and neither of us felt like driving the dusty miles across the refuge to see if maybe there were some birds on the other side by the petroglyphs south of the town of Tulelake.

Instead, we drove back to Klamath Falls and enjoyed a truly fabulous late Mexican lunch at our old hangout, Sergio’s. Despite all the wonderful restaurants in Grants Pass, we have yet to find a Mexican place with the perfect ambiance and good food that we have had at this little spot in Klamath Falls.

We knew we could find birds in Veteran’s Park, and sure enough, when we drove there we found pigeons, ducks, some geese, and lots of seagulls hanging around the park docks. On the way back home, we found more birds on Upper Klamath Lake, but they were far from the shoreline, beyond the ice covering the shadowy edges of the lake. At least we saw some Canada geese and of course, hundreds of coots.

We headed back over the Cascades, over the High Lakes Pass, and as we dropped down into the Rogue Valley east of Medford we watch the sunset over the mountains to the west. We were home by dark, and after a long day in sunlight, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle a few more winter days in Grants Pass.

Later in the month, my eldest daughter celebrated a birthday and her only desire was to have a long lunch at her favorite spot, The Twisted Cork. This small, somewhat intimate restaurant in downtown Grants Pass is upscale in a good way, with beautiful wine flights, and a fabulous appetizer menu. Deb’s favorite thing is a wine flight, a bunch of appetizers, a great salad, and of course the dessert that Twisted Cork has made famous, their hot caramel toffee pudding. They were kind enough to add a candle for Deborah’s day. The sun came out for Deborah on the 26th as well, and we haven’t had a single foggy morning since then.

Mo just rolls her eyes at me when I complain about the fog, because she remembers me complaining about the heat as well. Yeah, fog is icky and so is 110 degrees! I know I shouldn’t be a slave to the weather, but it is definitely one of my less desirable qualities.

Daughter Deborah helped us finish another puzzle on one of her Sunday visits

At this moment, as I begin to attempt the process of writing about January, the sunshine is pouring through the windows of the office. It isn’t warm outside, but the skies are clear and blue, and Mo is outside doing whatever outside things have caught her fancy at the moment. It will be time to make supper soon, and the afternoon shadows on the lawn are waning.

I managed to get through January here without losing my way completely. Still, it seemed to be a long month, one that stretched on and on without much to mark the passing of the days. After the last couple of years of craziness, I have to say that a month that seemed to be in slow motion was much better than months that fly by so fast you can’t catch them.

From the Heart

“It shifted from being written directly to my family and friends to something with more explanation and less from the heart, if you know what I mean. “ “paying too much attention to the reader community and not enough to my own preferences. “

DSC_0006 Words this morning from a trusted friend brought me up short. I know the feeling, and I fight it sometimes.  Case in point: my last post and this one.  There is enough going on around here that I have some things to write about, some life to share, and yet I found myself liking the way the last post looked so much that I didn’t want to upstage it with a new one that wouldn’t have those photos of my pelicans.  Now just how silly is THAT?!  Mo said, “Well, why don’t you just put the pelicans up on the header photo?”  Yeah, ok, I’ll do that, and yet the thoughts behind why I didn’t want to write a new post were still somewhat interesting to me. Sounds like I may be slipping into what this friend described in that last sentence I quoted in the first paragraph!

the lily in the cabin bed My Goal: write from the heart.  Write about stuff, explain stuff, but keep the heart in it.  Write as if I were writing to a trusted friend.  Of course, some stuff I wouldn’t even write to a trusted friend so I won’t write that part in here.  Those parts are saved for private journals that even my kids will never see. The good thing about this goal is that when I go back and read (and I DO go back and read my own blog), it will be entertaining and fun, and will help me remember not only what I saw and what I did, but how I felt about it.  At least that is the goal.

the hedge rose, blooming here at Rocky Point Personal journals, on the other hand, can be incredibly depressing to read later.  I journal a lot when I am angry, depressed, or just plain falling apart.  Not fun reading.  On another note, I don’t seem to have a lot of personal journaling going on now as I did when I was younger.  Life is less full of angst and worry and frustration.  I guess after 66 years, it is about time, right?

I think especially of this kind of “from the heart” writing when I think of Sherry’s story of David’s journey.  I have mentioned them often enough that anyone who reads my blog has probably found theirs. Good news today with 8 million stem cells in his collection!  Then, again from the heart, Laurie Brown’s eulogy to her Dad. Semi-True Tales of the Road has been one of those that stands out so far above so many of us that it is hard to see it wind down a bit. The only blog I read for years, I still always watch for a post from Laurie. Many folks mentioned her great campground reviews, but when I think of Laurie, I think of great food stories, seriously funny moments (aka Desert Hot Springs), and the clay oven. 

Merikay and Craig walking down to the docks from Rocky Point Resort Speaking of bloggers, last week brought us another blogger meet-and-greet treat, with Merikay and Craig visiting our world.  They spent a long time hiking the trails of Crater Lake, many that Mo and I who live an hour away have never traveled.  Then they camped a couple of nights right here in Rocky Point, giving us the chance to get Merikay and Craig out on Recreation Creek in the kayaks. 

OK Merikay, you can do it I love showing someone how much fun it is to get out on the water in a kayak and this was no exception.  We had a perfect day with water smooth as glass for our morning adventure.  Getting into a kayak for the first time can be a bit daunting, and once out on the water, it sometimes takes a few moments to get used to that wiggly feeling.  Within a short time though, that feeling goes away and your body settles into the balance much like it happens on a bicycle.  We had a nice, short paddle for their first run, and I do hope they will try it again.  It is such a great way to get up close to the birds and feel a silence on the water that is hard to find any other way.

A little benefit of blog meet-and-greets are the photos!  Loree has photos of Jeana on her blog since they met up as Loree traveled east, and we got a great photo of Loree on Jeana’s blog as well.  Now isn’t that just fabulous?!  Somehow the photos that others take of you are quite a bit different than the ones you might put up on your own blog.

DSC_0020 Later that afternoon I invited Merikay and Craig to the house for supper, along with our closest neighbors, Wes and Gayle, our Tucson friends who live here in the summer. We had appetizers on the porch, dinner inside at the dining table, and dessert back on the porch, all accompanied by a few different wines supplied by each of us.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially since hostessing a meal is a favorite thing for me to do.  I was having so much fun I forgot to take photos of the table, the food, and my guests.  I guess that is a good sign.

Fourth of July was wonderful.  I do love the Fourth, not for any particularly patriotic reason, but for its ability to bring up happy childhood memories and to create small town joys. As I spent the morning making potato salad and meltingly perfect chocolate cupcakes, I remembered my foster mother, who loved all holidays and taught me to appreciate them with huge church picnics, decorations for everything, and always always great holiday food.

2012-07-04 Veterans Park Celebration (48) With Melody and family in town, Mo and I drove in for the celebrations.  Klamath Falls once again scheduled the holiday parade for 5 in the evening, ending in Veteran’s Park, where the fireworks were scheduled to go off at ten pm when it is finally dark here.  It is much nicer to have a later parade and only have to drive to town once.  When the parade was in the morning, it was harder to figure out what to do with ourselves while we waited for the fireworks twelve hours later.

Kevin and Elric for the sheriff's department This time, the parade was nice, but I still wish we could get more marching bands to come. There was only one.  Parades need music!  There were lots of red white and blue decorations, however, and the Shriner guys in their little cars always make a parade seem like the real thing. Of course, seeing my son in law and my grandson representing the Klamath County Sheriff’s department was a treat.  Kevin is a reserve deputy, and Elric got a big kick out of being in the cop car in the parade.  UhOh. Elric is now Xavier, but I keep forgetting.  I have no clue why teenagers think they have to change their names, but I am trying to get with the program. Seems to me that Elric is enough of an interesting name, but n-ooo-ooo. He has to make it more interesting! He is 13.  What can I say…

yum2012-07-04 Veterans Park Celebration (96) Hillary/Axel (remember that other name change I mentioned in the last post?) spent most of the time between the parade and the fireworks volunteering for the face painting booth.  Terrible me, I can’t remember what the booth was promoting, but it was some sort of socially redeemable venture, I am sure.  We had fun watching her and as the evening wore on, the line grew exponentially.  Word was getting around that she was painting some fairly radical faces, unlike the typical butterflies and such.  Well, with a name like Axel, who would expect butterflies anyway?

By the time the fireworks started, we were all starting to get fairly chilled, but the bugs weren’t out this year so that was a blessing.  Why don’t I remember that even if it is 90 during the day, the air will require sweats, jackets and even gloves by ten pm.  I hate to say it, but when the fireworks began we were pretty disappointed.  It may have been because of the high winds that evening, but once again the big booms couldn’t seem to rise above the trees lining the lakeshore at Veteran’s Park. 

2012-07-04 the Fourth It made for some interesting photos, especially with the full moon rising right where the big fireworks were exploding, but it also made for a few unhappy folks hanging around all evening waiting.  Next year we may just give it up and go check out the fireworks at Lake of the Woods, closer to home for us, but not part of that small town Klamath thing that we love. 

I guess the small town Klamath thing means there isn’t enough money for a big town fireworks show.