Home in December

Rocky Point, Oregon 25 degrees F and partly cloudy with a high predicted of 40F

reflected sunset in the eastern sky When we planned our winter trip south, we knew that December in this part of Oregon can be cold, snowy, and wintry.  Still, I wanted to be home at Christmas in spite of the weather.  Daughter Deb is close enough now that she can come over the mountain to share the holidays with us, and Melody and her family always come out for Christmas as well, with just a 25 mile trek from Klamath Falls to mom’s house in the woods.  We have some great family traditions, one of which includes sledding down our hill on Christmas day.

winter comes to Bel's little barnThere have been times when there was no snow, but not often.  Last year the snow started in November and I counted 13 consecutive days of plowing and blowing as the snow dumped on us.  This year November was sunny and the grass was still green. Then WHAM, that Big Chill that gripped the nation landed in Oregon as well, and our temperatures were as low as 20 degrees below Zero F.  We broke all time records for cold for any day in Klamath Falls with readings of almost 30 below.  Yup, you read that right.  30 miles north of the California border and it was -28F.

moon in the blue blue sky at five below zero in Rocky Point The good part about this cold spell however, was that it was just too cold to snow very much.  Around the 5th of December, the snow started falling and Mo and I plowed and shoveled for two days, unable to keep up with the dumping white stuff.  Then the true cold hit, the skies turned bluebird blue, and the snow froze in place, clean and dry after all our snow management.  With temps that cold, there wasn’t much ice in our driveway and on our road, and we haven’t had to plow since then.  The rest of the area wasn’t so lucky, however.

Daughter Deb over in Grants Pass spent a few days without water when the pipes froze.  Grants Pass and the Rogue Valley are not used to that kind of weather, and there were hundreds of accidents on the local roads and freeways and most of the schools have been closed for more than 5 days now.  We didn’t winterize the MoHo but left a heater running inside and the RV shed is completely enclosed, so we think all is OK.  Our reason for buying the Grants Pass property had to do with lowest winter temps being an occasional bout with the teens and most of the time above 30F or so. 

deanna2 Daughter Deanna was right in the midst of the worst ice storm, just 30 miles from Dallas, where she and her husband spent 13 hours trapped in their semi on one of those “fake” hills at an overpass that no vehicle could manage.  Deanna said someone would try and they all would slide backwards.  Traffic was backed up for 40 miles or something like that.  They finally got out of the mess to deliver in Memphis, run down to Miami to pick up some other kinds of fancy engines, and take off for Manitoba, where the cold was just normal Manitoba cold and not impossible to navigate.

Here at home, I managed to work on quilt projects for Christmas presents, and finally got the house decorated.  I do love decorating for holidays, but for some reason it was a bit hard to get into it this year.  I was dragging my feet.  Possibly because I knew we were leaving just two days after Christmas, not to return until April.  I definitely want to get it all packed up and put away before we leave, and of course I know there will be a bit of crunch time in that short two days as we finalize our packing for three months on the road.

Winter_031 Still, on Wednesday this week, I finally went out to the very cold garage (it was still around zero F, and Mo and I brought down the Christmas bins and I started unpacking and deciding what to use, what to skip.  This year I will skip the Christmas villages, and those bins remain untouched.  I decided to decorate the perfect little Christmas tree this year with the heirloom little pieces that have been with both of us for more years than I care to count instead of my fancy fruits and shiny globes that I bought for my Klamath Falls home when I moved there 11 years ago.  The snowmen came out, and I laughed with Mo, saying “No matter how old and worn out I get, I’ll always be able to manage the snowmen, even if I don’t do anything else!”

my favorite Last night I finished up the lights on the porch, and in spite of the lack of enthusiasm I felt during the process, as I stood out in the snow looking at our cozy house I was so glad I had made the effort.  Somehow it finally feels like Christmastime.  Today I’ll go down to our Rocky Point community place and set a pretty table for eight for the ladies luncheon held here every year.  The kids will come for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the house will look like a Mom’s house is supposed to look.  I’ll start baking cookies and make some fudge, listen to some Christmas music and be grateful that we decided to stay home once again for Christmas. 

This year I even made the effort to do Christmas cards and the Christmas letter.  I saw on the news not long ago how this old tradition is rapidly dying as we all seem to be communicating in different ways with social media and the internet.  I decided that the letter and a sheet of photos was still a nice gesture.  I still have old Christmas letters from lots of friends who used to send them.  Mo gets lots of cards every year, I get very few.  I do think I have friends, but maybe our friends are different kinds of people.  Hers are more traditional, mine are all over the map.  All over the map kinds of people tend to not send Christmas cards.  So what am I, all over the map or traditional??!!

testing different methods for shooting the Christmas lightsWho knows if we will be here every year.  Sometimes we might like to take a break and travel somewhere warm BEFORE that winter snow and cold hits Rocky Point.  Each time I have done that, however, my heart misses the old traditions of Christmas and my family, at least as many of my family that I can gather in one place at one time.  Mo would much prefer to be elsewhere at this time of year, and when I first knew her, she would almost always be off somewhere in December, avoiding all the Christmas hubbub, calling me from Spain, or Costa Rica or some other exotic location.  I am glad that she is tolerant of my need for family times and patiently waits for two days after Christmas to escape.

Late Spring Snow and we are going camping?!

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon
Current temperature: 40 degrees F, with melting snow on the ground.  Lo tonight: 30 degrees F with a chance of snow
late spring snow at Rocky Point Yes, we are going camping.  We are leaving tomorrow for the eastern side of Oregon, planning a combo boondocking/rv park trip to the high sagebrush desert.  We did plan to leave on Tuesday afternoon, but some severe weather warnings were a bit daunting, and we decided to postpone our little journey until the weather shifted a bit.  Good thing!  Yesterday afternoon the snow hit and by 5pm we had snow on the trees and even some snow sticking to the ground.  The weather report optimistically says that “with warming temperatures and longer days, the drooping crabapples in the late spring snowground temperatures should be warm enough that the snow will not stick”.  Ok then.  It is now almost noon in Rocky Point, and true to the forecast, most of the snow is melting, but more may be coming tonight.
Mo is bringing the MoHo up from the shed to park in the driveway, ready for loading.  As much as we love having the place in Grants Pass, it sure is wonderful to have our rig right here when we are ready to travel.  No trying to remember what to take, what is at the cottage, what is in the MoHo.  Just walk outside, check the cupboards, and pack accordingly.  Nice.
Speaking of weather, my daughter who relocated to Texas last year has now relocated again to Grand Junction, Colorado.  Closer to me, closer to her son, and better jobs for both her and for her sweetie.  She drove north through Texas with a U-Haul the day of the tornados.  She missed them.  My son lives in Joplin Missouri, and while he was hit by the last big tornado
May flowers on May 22
there, the small twister that touched down in Carthage missed him by 15 miles.  Truck driver daughter and her husband are delivering jet engines to Winnipeg, and so she is also out of the line of fire. I just can’t imagine what those people in Oklahoma are going through.  Can’t imagine.May flowers-011
Mo and I watched the news, and said our thank you’s for the gift of living in a place without tornados, hurricanes, or major floods.  It can almost make you feel guilty for being so lucky in the midst of such horror, but I do feel lucky, and blessed, and sad for those people who have lost everything.  Of course, disaster can strike anywhere.  We live in Earthquake country, are surrounded by volcanoes that could decided to heat up at a moment’s notice, the wildfires of our hotter and hotter summers could strike anywhere, and of course winter can deal some pretty angry blows.  Nothing like a tornado though.  However, I often talked to people from hurricane country or tornado country who looked at me like I was crazy for living in earthquake country California.  It is all about where family is and what you are used to, I guess.
still green in mid May.  we love sitting on the front porch here



May flowers on May 19
Since we got home from Death Valley, we went over to the cottage and worked a bit, mowing and trimming and fixing up little things here and there.  I was treated to a Mother’s Day brunch by my Klamath Falls daughter and family, and Mo and I did our annual outing to the Taste of Klamath event in town that we have enjoyed for several years now.  Small town stuff, but nice, and it supports our local historic theater, the Ross Ragland. We are gardening, and until yesterday, the weather cooperated perfectly.  It has been unseasonably warm, with temperatures in the 80’s here at Rocky Point.  That is a lot more like July and less like May, but it made working in the yard an absolute delight.  80 degrees and sunny skies with a nice breeze is just about perfect as far as I am concerned. 
DSC_0017The only thing that seems to keep eluding us is a kayak outing.  On the days when it might be something to do we seem to always have something else more pressing taking up our time.  Ah well….eventually those kayaks will get on the water again. We actually planned to take them on this trip to the east side, but the weather predictions have us thinking otherwise.  Why load up the kayaks if it is going to be in the 50’s with possible rain?!  Nah…we will wait for better days.  I guess you could call us fair weather kayakers, although I do have photos from years past when we are on the water as early as March!
I did manage to get in on the Google Plus Hangout that Rick set up for us to learn a bit more about how it all works.  It was great fun seeing everyone online and joining in on the conversation.  I haven’t managed to do the Skype thing very much since I didn’t think I had the bandwidth.  Maybe I can manage hangouts now with distant kids and friends.  I hope so.
On our agenda for the next few days: Plush, Oregon, home of the famous BLM sunstone diggings.  Hart Mountain Refuge, home of hundreds of pronghorns and some beautiful natural hot springs and a small developed hot spring pool.  Summer Lake, Oregon, home to another wildlife refuge, more hot springs, and untold numbers of waterfowl. Ana Reservoir RV campground, on the Ana River and the reservoir, not far from summer lake will provide us with electric and water and a place to dump after three nights boondocking on BLM lands.  Should be a nice trip.  I don’t imagine there will be any kind of internet, or even phone connections to speak of, so I’ll just have to get caught up on photos and stories when we return to Rocky Point.
In the mean time, I thought it would be fun to put in a couple of photos from our very first camping trip to Hart Mountain back in 2004, before we had any kind of motorhome.  I think this may have been the last time we tent camped.  In spite of discussing carrying tents and sleeping bags in the motorhome for getting really out in the boonies, we have yet to actually do that.  Somehow the comforts of home win out.  I spent a bazillion years tent camping, and I do love it, but oh oh oh….it is so nice to have shelter and a bed off the ground.  If I could just figure out how to see the stars at night from the MoHo the way you can seen them from a tent it would be perfect.  My best memory of Hart Mountain is sitting by the campfire watching the stars come up right on the horizon, just as big and bright as they were in the entire huge sky.  It was amazing.
9-05-2004 Hart Mountain

A snowy, happy day in Rocky Point

When they say White Christmas, I think this is what they mean.  Not only was the ground covered in deep snow, it was coming down in big fat, thick flakes, frosting hats and fur and eyelashes with cold white stuff.  snow play on Christmas Day

I think the daily hours of shoveling and lifting have been good for me.  Kinda like the gym without the boring weights.  I lost almost five pounds in the two weeks before Christmas, in spite of the baking.  I don’t think I can remember that happening ever. Go figure. Kevin was incredibly tickled that I managed to keep some beer from the Deschutes Brewery for an entire year.  Something called the Abyss that was intense enough that I poured my glass full right back into Kevin’s glass.  Whew!282892_10151393579407640_1224355005_n(1)

Do you think that maybe cash was a good choice for the grandchildren this year?the propert response

I do think that Jeremy and Abby know an animal lover when they see one.  My granddaughter Axel is amazing with both of them. Axel is the cat person and Jeremy loves it

Xavier loves Mo’s rug, ever since he was very little he would immediately head for the rug to hang out.  Is he actually napping with that cash in his hand?Xavier loves Mo's sheepskin rug, and his present 

I am pretty sure Kevin liked his fancy probe BBQ fork, in spite of the face, and you can see that Jeremy really loves having company, all those great laps to try out! I am pretty sure he likes it

Melody got a kick out her giraffes, a sweet little treasure I found at the jewelry store where she works, of course she was in on the surprise because I let her pick her favorites.Melody and her giraffe boxes

This time I set the table and was actually able to hang around and enjoy it, unlike the previous time I set a Christmas table at the Rocky Point luncheon and lasted less than five minutes before running back home sick. Soooo glad that is over, and in answer to a commenter’s question, the vertigo really has passed for now.DSC_0046

Sledding with the family is a tradition, so it was good that mother nature cooperated.  Sledding on gravel would be uncomfortable.Sue on the funky new sled

We have an old sled with runners, a cheapy plastic thingy that is close to worthless, and another cheapy foamy thingy with fluorescent green something or other on it that I bought for kid sledding last year.  I think I used the green thingy more than anyone. The big plastic yellow inner tubes we use for the water just don’t move on snow, so we no longer try them. fun in the snow on Christmas Day

Favorite memories include big black inner tubes going down Tubbs Hill in Couer d Alene sliding into the baseball field from the steep mountain and getting bounced off those inner tubes some rather impressive distances.  Too many trees on this little sledding hill to try that even if we DID have inner tubes.Christmas sledding in the snow

Managed to sneak this photo of Melody and Kevin out in the hot tub, soaking away any kind of sledding muscle aches. Oh wait, Kevin was taking photos, not sledding. Still, not a bad way to end a family Christmas Day.happy hot tub on Christmas Day  Melody anf Kevin after we all went sledding

Yes!

I won! 002I won! I won!!  Amazing.  Those of you who rode along with me in the MoHo on the Coast 101 Quilt Run (my very first such experience), and wished me well, are in for some thank you’s.  I won a third prize gift certificate for $50 to spend at will at the sweet little quilt shop in Brookings.  I am happy to say that this was one of my favorite stores of the 14 that  I visited.  I had given up on winning anything except receipts for all the fabric I bought when this little card showed up in the mail yesterday.  Needless to say, I am tickled and already imagining and remembering all those gorgeous fabrics and the great ladies I met in the shop last month.

Carrizo Plain flowersLucky me, since we are heading back to Brookings on Sunday morning, and I told Mo that we would have to wait until store opening time on Monday before we travel south to California.  Once again we are going south, looking for sunshine and warmth.  According to the predictions, however, it might be warmer than Rocky Point but probably not much sunnier.  A big storm is dampening the west right now, and it spreads far and wide.

birthday snow_477Our plans have shifted back and forth several times, with thoughts of traveling far enough south to the Carizzo Plain to see the amazing wildflower show.  The image on the right is from the internet (I have no idea who to acknowledge here), but it is one I have seen repeatedly when searching for wildflower blooming times in the California springtime.  The Carizzo Plain and the Tremblor Mountains straddle the San Andreas Fault and are a long way from anywhere southeast of Paso Robles and southwest of Bakersfield.

I plugged the plan into Streets and Trips, counted the days, looked at the weather, and looked at the lack of rain and rethought the plan.  Wildflowers on the plain are an ephemeral thing, totally dependent on the timing of rainfall, and this year there has been very little.  Rumor has it there isn’t much blooming  yet. The Carizzo Plain will have to wait for another year. Of course, now that we have ten days to get away, it is raining.  Of course. 

we had no snow this winter, so I knew it would come in Marchclose to two feet of snow in the last 2 daysGas prices being what they are, and timing being what it is, I decided instead that it might be time to go see Pinnacles National Monument.  Merikay was there recently and took some great photos.  Mo was there many years ago when she lived near Half Moon Bay, but I have never seen it.  Several friends from soil survey have been involved in the soil mapping there as well.  I have read papers, and seen the results of research and study, but now I just want to walk and explore and experience what it has to offer. 

Being a national monument, we knew that Abby couldn’t go on the trails, so planned for a doggie day care in nearby Gilroy for the two days we plan to stay in the park.  The day care seems rather amazing, with no cages, just lots of beds and toys and other friendly dogs in a big doggie park kind of environment. 

The new office color is called cocoa rumJeremy is wishing the birds would hurry up and returnLast week I wasn’t working, but of course Mo and I had some big projects waiting for a non-working, non-traveling week.  We finished the painting project started last year at this time and completed our office, and mud room and back entry halls.

In the early mornings I worked on the baby blanket I am knitting for Mo’s new grand niece born just after her birthday and took one long afternoon to pull out the sewing machine.  When Maryruth and I had our girls weekend last fall, we bought fabric and patterns at the quilt shop in Chico, but of course Maryruth doesn’t quilt.  I am making this diamond lattice table runner for her. As simple as it looks, it still is a bit of a challenge for me as a newbie, but I am having so much fun with it.  It amazes me how all these little puzzle pieces actually turn into something.

been working on a baby blanket for a new grand niece coming to Mowinter days are perfect for quiltingThis week was a working week for me again, and Mo managed to finish painting her entire big bathroom while I plunked away on the computer.  It is Friday!!  I shut down NASIS for the last time this evening and won’t look at it again for ten days.  Poured myself a glass of wine and took a deep breath.  Tomorrow we will brave whatever the weather gods have in store for us over the Highway 140 pass to go to Medford for the day.  Our destination: the annual Cheese Festival at the Rogue Creamery and of course an opportunistic Costo Run as well.  Gotta stock up for our Sunday exit to sunny…er…rainy California.

 

Spring snows and off to the beach!

Spring snow (24)Spring snow (9)It’s been a week and a half since I had the chance to sit down to my personal computer and think about writing something about the passing days.  They have been so full. The sadness in the southeast, and the devastation and lost lives was heartbreaking.  With no time for blogging or reading blogs, the news about Al and Kelly’s Max still came in through Facebook and I was saddened again. Somehow when sadness intervenes I go quiet, it’s hard to write about my “stuff” when others are going through so much.  This morning the sun is shining, and Mo and I are packing the MoHo for a trip to the Oregon Coast, and it’s time to start writing again!

Of course, as mentioned in the last post, I have been working three weeks straight through, with last week requiring a trip to town every single day.  It was time for the formal Progress Review for the Klamath Soil Survey, and I couldn’t manage that Spring snow (14)one from home.  I loved every minute of it, long days going over all the details of years of mapping the basin, and this time I was only a participant, with no stress, no management responsibilities.  Yeah, I am still working after retirement, but I don’t have any of the stress of the job.  Chris is a great project leader, had the review well prepared, and the regional specialist who reviewed us is one of my favorites.  We have a long history going back many years. 

Spring snow (19)The daily trip to town was a bit daunting, for a couple of reasons.  Spring keeps trying to show up around here, but as the joke going around the internet says, it isn’t installing properly.  I woke up on Thursday to an inch of frozen snow and ice, and slid all the way to town on that stuff.  Ugh. Since I left early, I had time to slow down and appreciate the gorgeous skies and blue waters of Klamath Lake, and even pulled over a few times for photos.  I kept thinking, “Just slow down and appreciate the beauty instead of complaining about the snow”.  Then I slipped on the ice and managed to keep from sliding under the car with some fairly weird body moves. I was rewarded for my efforts by suddenly looking into the eyes of a blue heron right in front of me, trying to fish, and wondering where the snow came from.  Of course, 30 miles each way isn’t bad when the weather is good and the sun is shining, but when gas is at 3.95 per gallon and I am driving my Dakota it gets a bit depressing.  The Dakota gets about 15 mpg, so you do the math. 

second location for the greenhouseFamily Easter (40)While I was intently focused on work stuff, Mo was valiantly working away on the greenhouse.  We had a bit of a funny start with the project, funny unless you are the one wielding the shovel.  We decided on a location for the house, and my job was to remove the sod from the 10×12 space.  Took me a couple of partial days to get the job done and I was extremely proud of myself.  Mo came in the house after I was done, looking sheepish.  Seems as though we had located the house straddling the official property line, and half of it would be in the “road” if the county ever decided to enforce the rules.  We thought the house would be something we could move around at will, but after reviewing the complex directions, Mo decided that she didn’t really want to ever move it once it was built.  So, I got out the trusty sharp shooter spade, and once again lifted a 10 x 12 square foot area of sod.  This time, Mo helped move it all after I did the cutting and it only took us a day.  When I came home from work the following night, Mo had faithfully replaced all the sod squares in the original site.  By mid summer, no one will ever know we tried to build a greenhouse in the road.

Family Easter (41)The rest of the week, while I worked, Mo patiently fiddled with the instructions and put that thing together.  I swear it was like some sort of evil erector set. The directions were ok, but the drawings were a bit weird.  I think Mo spent 3 hours trying to understand just how to put the top beam together.  The kit is all screws and bolts and straight pieces of aluminum.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t the one doing it, or it would still be in a pile somewhere!

Spring snow (4)I am excited about the project, though.  When I got home from work on Friday it was completely finished, and now we are going to town today to buy the raised bed materials for the interior.  We also decided to put down a floor of 1/2 inch hardware cloth wire to try to keep out the voles and rabbits.  The sun was shining beautifully yesterday, but the wind was cold.  I stepped into the greenhouse and reveled in the warm, humid air.  I will have at least one 10×12 space of deer free, frost free gardening, at least as long as I remember to never leave that wide door open!

Family Easter (8)Last weekend we took some time out from work and greenhouse building to celebrate Easter with family.  My daughter and son-in-law, my two grandkids, and my sister and niece all came out to Rocky Point for a celebratory brunch and Easter Egg hunt.  We had a great time, and I made Mo’s favorite orange walnut coffee cake to go with the zip-lock bag omelets.  I love those crazy things, always perfect for fun and laughs in a crowd. The kids then colored all the eggs and Kevin and Melody played Easter Bunny hiding them in the yard.  We had some moments of snow flurries, but the sun came out warm and bright in time for our festivities.  Then the kids decided to hide the eggs for the adults and we had lots of laughs together over that one.

Family Easter (20)I think the funniest moment of the day, however, was trying to explain to my daughter’s Thai exchange student why a rabbit would lay eggs.  It’s hard enough to explain to our own kids, but when you add the cultural differences it’s even funnier.  We finally went to the internet to discover that the tradition goes back to the middle ages and morphed into the Easter Rabbit sometime during the 18th century in Germany. It was perfect family time, even though I rarely manage to get all my family together at once, I am still so grateful for the ones that live close by.

Family Easter (26)The sun finally came out and in spite of the cold temperatures, Mo managed to get the MoHo all washed and shiny and I cleaned out the interior.  The MoHo is five years old, and now and then something needs replaced.  We had the original CO2 detector that is supposed to only last five years.  Sure enough, it started screaming at strange moments having nothing to do whatsoever with CO2.  The problem is that the original unit is no longer made, and the new one is a different size than our original.  Mo had to cut out a bigger square in the wall to install the new one, but now all the green lights are on and there are no weird screams in the night. She had to find the replacement on the internet, since the local RV shops only carry the type that have both CO2 and propane detectors in one unit.  Dumb.  We already have a propane detector near the floor and the refrigerator, where propane might actually show up. Now we are all good to go, with safe detectors.  I remember the explosion in an RV at the Sands RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs last winter that was caused by leaking propane.  Good detectors are important!

why don't they make these things the same sizeworking on the MoHoI now have a whole week without work, and Mo and I decided it was a perfect time to head for the coast.  We miss the beach, and this time we are going to Brookings, where Mo once had a condo overlooking the ocean.  We will camp at Harris Beach State Park for a few days, and then drive north to South Beach where we will meet her brother and his wife for a couple of days of more family fun.  Of course the kayaks are going on this trip, and we hope to test the waters in the Chetko and Pistol Rivers and maybe Brookings Harbor.  The best part of this plan is that we have sunshine and temperatures predicted in the 70’s!  On the Oregon Coast!!  Some of our fellow RV’rs haven’t been so lucky lately, so our timing is perfect.