04-20-2022 A Sweet April Part 1

At last I am getting back to writing about the beautiful month of April.  What I call “Green Leaf Day” burst in its full backlit glory on exactly April First.  The skies were gorgeous early in the month and Mo and I spent several days mowing, weeding, trimming, hauling, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  


Deb and Mo in the Expo court yard at the Oregon Cheese Festival

We began the month of April with a fabulous visit to the Oregon Cheese Festival in nearby Central Point at the Jackson County Fair Expo.  The event has been cancelled for the last two years because of Covid, and in previous years it seemed that we were either traveling, or caught up in something and too busy to attend. Searching the memory banks, I discovered the last time we attended the festival was in 2012!

This time we went with Daughter Deborah and had a great time. In addition to artisan cheeses from all over Oregon, there were wineries, breweries, and distilleries, offering tastes of their specialties.  It was a lovely, sunny day, and I purchased a ridiculous amount of yummy cheese, but Deborah bought even more than I did.

Then on April 9 the snow came, not just flurries, but real snow that actually stuck and turned everything white.  Since that date, the days have been many variations of cold, wet, rainy, a little bit snowy, blustery, and not conducive to doing much outdoor work.  Mo still manages to keep busy with various repair projects around the place, either in her wood shop or in the RV shed.

This part of Oregon has seen more rain this month that we received throughout January, February, and March.  It is a blessed relief to hope that maybe the hot, dry, scary days of summer will be a bit delayed and maybe, just maybe the fires might not come as early as they have in the last few years.  I am writing this on May 10, and we have yet to spread the gravel we ordered at the first of the month or begin setting up the sprinklers.  Last year at this time I was irrigating daily.

We have no problem entertaining ourselves when it is damp and cold.  I spent time quilting, making some placemats for friends.  My favorite part of quilting is playing with my stash of fabrics, deciding what I want to put together into something useful.

I decided to try a mail order meal program called, “Hello Fresh”, and had great fun cooking.  I cook a lot, but like most cooks I have a style of my own.  My tendency to repeat certain seasonings and flavorings and ways of cooking is no doubt similar to most cooks.  I also get bored sometimes with trying to come up with something for dinner…again. 

With the Hello Fresh program, I chose 3 or 4 meals for a week for not much more than it would have cost me to shop and purchase the ingredients.  It was a kick, and I learned some new cooking techniques and alternative seasonings and sauces.  If nothing else, it got me out of my cooking rut.  I won’t continue much longer, but in the mean time, so far, Mo has enjoyed every one of the meals we have chosen.

I let myself get lost in puzzles again, wondering how I spent 75 years of my life without getting addicted to this simple, but engrossing pastime. 

Just before Easter, I got a call from Daughter Deanna, who lives in northern Washington State.  She and husband, Keith, needed to drive south for a quick overnight to pick up some equipment for her company in Central Point.  It was a quick trip, without much time for visiting, but we managed to get all of us together for a delightful afternoon at the local Applebee’s.  Daughter Melody drove south from Eugene for the get-together.  It was the first time in a long time that I have had all three daughters together.  Even for only a few hours, over margueritas and a good meal, it was a special time for me.

The next day the deck chairs that we had ordered from Home Depot arrived.  They turned out beautifully, but thank goodness Mo was around to manage all those screws and bolts.  What a project!!  We are happy to have nice, sturdy, comfortable chairs to share with guests when we dine on the deck in the future.

With the dreary weather I wasn’t inspired much to bring in all the Easter décor, but once I did I was glad I had done it.  All those bunnies and the cute pastel stuff can make even a dreary day seem like spring.

Easter was simple, with our friends Maryruth and Gerald joining us with Daughter Deborah,  and Grandson Matthew.  We made a very traditional meal, with a wonderful ham from our local meat specialty shop and the traditional green beans with bacon and scalloped potatoes.  Deborah made a yummy lemon cake that was so good.

Other sweet times for me included my bi-weekly Tuesday morning coffee date with friend Kristin and her adorable daughter Ruby.  It’s kinda nice when a sweet little girl greets me with big hugs and hellos.  I met Kristin through the book club, and while there are many nice ladies there, Kristin has become a true friend, a delight.

The entire month of April was filled with the fragrance of our huge, old lilac bush.  I have no idea how old it is, and I am sure that it has never received any irrigation or much care over the decades.  I have started attempting to trim the suckers from the base each year.  The long, chilly spring was good for the flowers.  The lilacs lasted for weeks, the tulips opened, and stayed fresh and full without blowing out from the heat as they normally do. 

The grass grew fast enough I had to try to find time to mow in between rains at least once a week and Mo managed to mow the pasture a few times as well.  I am grateful for the cool, moist rains, but I am also very ready for some sunshine and warmth.  The gardens are waiting, the gravel needs spreading and the sprinklers need work!


03-31-2022 Marching Forward

March is a month when everything is changing. Some days feel like winter, and other days are like spring. Sometimes winter and spring can happen on the same day. The remarkable differences between February and March, however, are the flowers. Mid-month primroses are in full bloom, and the daffodils begin to appear and are in full color by the end of the month.


Mo’s birthday is the first of the month, and she usually decides on some kind of travel destination to celebrate. We had only returned a few days earlier from our trip to California, so this time a local celebration was her choice. We went to see “Dog”, a charming and entertaining movie.

Dinner at the Taprock Grill ended the day perfectly. Even with the rain, the view of the river and the Caveman Bridge was delightful.


The rain made days indoors a priority, with puzzles and quilting filling my time. I tried a new technique called “Quilt as you Go” for the first time and enjoyed making cute little mugrugs. I gave a few to friends and family and kept one for my bedside table, and it was an excellent way to use up fabric scraps in my stash.


I spent a considerable amount of time working on our trip plans for this coming August. We are doing a tour of New York City with Adventure Caravans. Traveling cross-country to New York requires more planning than ever with the complexity of reservation requirements. RV Trip Wizard is an app that I use since “Streets and Trips” is no longer available. I am getting used to it, and the annual cost isn’t bad, but remember the old days when we could own software on our computers instead of online??

Prepping for our New York trip with a New York puzzle

While I am fiddling indoors, Mo usually finds something to do in her shop, where a small heater keeps things comfortable. Her big project was cleaning up a beautiful solid oak drop leaf table that she plans to sell. It is another lovely piece of furniture that we couldn’t fit into Sunset House.


In addition to flowers, mid-March is when the grass grows in earnest. Mo had to mow the pasture twice, and I cut the small front lawns a couple of times, much earlier than in years past.


Daughter Melody drove south from Eugene to spend a day with me. Even though we talk and text often, it is a treat to see her in person and get a real Melody hug. Plus is gave her an excuse to take a little trip in her new car. We spent girl time at the Red Lily Vineyard on the Applegate Wine Trail.

The wine is superb, and the Tapas Board a real treat. Even with the sun shining, the March breezes kept us indoors. Those March breezes kicked up quite a storm and blew down power lines across our route back home. I later discovered that it was several hours before the road opened, so our choice to take the long way home through Jacksonville and Medford was good.


Mo and I filled up a few days with a Costco run to Medford, doctor visits, and family visits. After two years of Covid restrictions, I finally got my Coconut Shrimp appetizer fix at Red Lobster in Medford. Even with the virus waning, there is still a shortage of wait staff in most restaurants, and more than half of the restaurant was closed to customers.


Week four brought friends and a camping trip to Brookings, which I wrote about in the previous post. We returned from this trip just in time for a planned outing with Daughter Deborah.  It was spring break and she had a week away from work to do something special. 

She wanted to go wine tasting on the Applegate.  Once again we went to Red Lily for excellent wine and the Tapas Board.  ( This is getting to be a habit!).  The day was beautiful, with sunshine and blue skies. It was still not quite warn enough to sit outside but the tasting room is comfortable and lovely. 

Continuing along the wine trail toward Jacksonville, we visited a winery called “Dancin”.  The grounds were gorgeous, and by the time we arrived, the tasting area was quite crowded.  We were informed that we could have a table for just 45 minutes before the next reservation arrived.  We didn’t need any longer because the wine didn’t appeal to us.  Possibly our choice to taste the pinot noir was a mistake, and someday we may go back and try their more prestigious whites. 

We continued along Old Stage Road in Central Point toward home as we attempted to find the Hummingbird Estate.  This last minute choice made our day perfect.  We loved the wine, the view was gorgeous overlooking the Rogue Valley, and the daughter of the owner of the vineyard was delightful. 

She told us stories about their purchase of the vineyard, their winemaking, their young vines, their family, and the history of the house, built in 1926.  Deborah loved the idea of supporting such a lovely local vineyard, bought several bottles of wine and joined their wine club! 

We still managed one more camping trip in March.


The Rogue River winds through our valley on its meandering journey from Crater Lake to the Pacific Ocean. We are lucky to have several beautiful county parks within a short distance from home. A neighbor who lives down the street from us often talks about camping at Griffin Park. I checked for sites to no avail and then discovered that with a bit of effort, reservations are canceled, and suddenly, a site was available. We snagged site 3, facing the Rogue River, for 3 lovely days at the end of the month.


With only 16 miles to travel and not much to do in the park’s vicinity, we decided to go without the Tracker. I wasn’t sure we could fill three entire days without exploring somewhere, but it was a perfect choice. We settled into our site on the first cloudy day, knowing the sun would be out in full by the following day. 


Mo managed to pack enough wood in a tote for three campfires, one for each night, and the little WeberQ BBQ fit in the aisle of the MoHo for the short trip. When we talked about taking the car, my first thought was how we would manage to haul the BBQ and the firewood!


The second day was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day, and in the morning, I went for a nice hike/walk along the river. The park is surrounded by BLM land on three sides. Even though houses are nearby, the BLM land provides a bit of a barrier between civilization and open space.


The river was gorgeous. Mo and I walked the path again the next day, checking out how far upstream we could paddle our kayaks before encountering rapids.


I walked around the park road to photograph the gorgeous shooting stars Dodecatheon pulchellum in full bloom. In all my days of wildflower viewing, I have never seen such a huge patch of these flowers in full bloom. I tromped into the grass for closeups in my open-toed sandals.

I realized that I was treading through short stems of newly sprouting poison oak a few minutes later. I am horribly allergic to the stuff and went immediately into panic mode. I know about TechNu but haven’t carried it with me since my days working in the California foothills. I walked quickly back to the MoHo, thinking about how to get the oils off my skin. I thought about all those birds and the oil spills. What do the volunteers use to clean the birds? DAWN! I scrubbed my shoes and skin with Dawn and packed my pants into a plastic bag. Success! I didn’t get a single blister on my feet or legs.


We invited our friends Maryruth and Gerald to drive out from Grants Pass to join us for an afternoon of dominoes and a BBQ rib early supper. I came prepared with marshmallows, and Maryruth provided the chocolate for the after-supper treat. I purchased the top brand of marshmallows and was shocked to discover that they are about half the size they used to be. If they sell them by the ounce, what is the purpose of making them so small? They were about halfway between a mini marshmallow and a regular marshmallow. I thought about getting the colossal campfire marshmallows. Still, it was impossible to get them into your mouth the last time I tried that! Such a silly thing, yet it made fitting the mallow on the stick very hard and even harder to get the little bit of chocolate into the tiny mallow!   Such a silly thing.


We decided to take another route back home. I got excited when I realized that our trip would take us past the Rogue Creamery. The main store is located in Central Point, but the dairy is tucked away along Lower River Road, a few miles from Grants Pass. I bought some of the world-famous bleu cheese and enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar, a bit of bleu, and honey on sourdough bread. Yum! What a great way to end the month of March.

12-31-2021 2021 Ends as December Comes to a Close

We didn’t have a completely white Christmas this year, with just a skiff of snow dusting the grass on Christmas morning. Late in the afternoon, however, the snow began to fall in earnest, and by the time we wakened the next morning, we had several inches of snow on the ground. Mo and I were happy that we had a warm home, plenty of food, a fire, and that the power never went out. Three days before Christmas Eve, we started another puzzle, possibly a new Christmastime tradition. With the snow keeping us inside most of the time, we finished it in just three short days on Christmas Eve morning.

The Christmas to New Years’ snow event broke records all over the northwest and I have loved seeing all the photos and stories of people enjoying the winter fun. I especially enjoyed it since I didn’t have to shovel snow or walk around outside on ice or go anywhere. Our vehicles do fine in snow and Mo and I have both driven in snow for years, but why bother if we don’t have to do it? Our home was a perfect place to be during that cold snowy week.


The beginning of the month was shrouded in chilly fog. I thought it was the worst fog season ever until I looked back on my calendar and blog of 2020 in December and read that I thought the fog was the worst ever. I guess winter fog is a given when we live in an enclosed valley just 2 hours from the ocean.

 

Despite the fog and chill, I spent the first week of the month putting up outside Christmas lights. It is a bit of work, but I do love the brilliance all those lights bring on long, cold, and very dark winter nights. Christmas is just an excuse. Grandson Matthew showed up toward the end of the week to do the part that neither Mo nor I are willing to do: climbing the ladder to put up the big colored lights that line the edge of the roof.


I began making Christmas cards in July, but by early December there was still much to do to finish up the 60 or so cards that I try to send each year.



I set up the Christmas Village right after Thanksgiving. To conserve energy, I made a promise to myself that I would wait until December 10 to set up the Christmas tree. When I mentioned this idea to my friend Kristin on our biweekly coffee date, she said she would love to come and help me decorate the tree. Such a delightful time we had decorating together with Mo providing helpful suggestions.



As I pulled out all the stored Christmas decorations with Kristin’s help I finally came to the conclusion that much of the beautifully romantic Della Robbia decorations that I have had for 20 years or so no longer fit with our current home. I packed them up for Daughter Melody who was delighted to know they would be coming her way and would fit right in with her romantic somewhat French-style home. Daughter Deborah also chose a few items that she loved to add to her collection.


Friends Maryruth and Gerald both have birthdays in December, and I made a chocolate cake from Janna’s recipe to help her celebrate. Of course, it was also great that Maryruth couldn’t eat the entire thing and sent a third of it back home with us.

A few days later, the four of us drove downtown in the rain to enjoy the lighted Christmas parade. The city no longer sponsors these kinds of events, but many dedicated volunteers and participants made it happen. Despite the heavy rain, there were large crowds gathered along the main streets. Many had umbrellas, and some were snuggled under canopy tops to protect them from the rain. Oregonians don’t allow rain to interfere with outdoor activities.


We were incredibly lucky to find a perfect spot to park right where the big lighted cars and trucks turned from 6th street toward 7th street. Even with the fogged-up windows, we all agreed it was much better watching the parade from a warm car than in the cold rain. After the parade, we enjoyed driving around to view a few Christmas lights and some traditional hot chocolate from Dutch Brothers.



Once the Christmas cards were finished and mailed, I had a bit of time to quilt. I loved the pattern for this topper and when I took the fall version off the side tables, I decided it was time to make a Christmas version. It was so pretty that I decided to make two. I was very happy with this winter project. It was quick and easy and the toppers fit our oak side tables perfectly.


I keep track of the Azalea Park light show in Brookings on Facebook and was thrilled to learn that the show was a go this year after skipping last year due to COVID. We planned ahead by making reservations at Beachfront RV Park and Maryruth and Gerald made reservations at Beachfront Inn across the street from the park.
Mid-month we got our first seasonal dusting of snow. We didn’t know at the time that we were in for a lot more snow before the month was over.


The week of our reservations, the weather cooperated with just a bit of snow on the highway to the coast. We headed west in the MoHo. Maryruth and Gerald waited until the next day to travel when the roads were completely clear.


The Festival of Lights at Azalea Park in Brookings is one of the best light shows in our part of the country, and once again we weren’t disappointed. Even though it rained the previous day, there was no rain on the night we planned to go to the show with Maryruth and Gerald. I enjoy sharing something I love with friends who are seeing it for the first time. Somehow I see it again with fresh eyes.



Mo and I walked the beach during the day, and in the evenings shared a couple of great restaurant meals with our friends. We enjoyed the Beachfront Bistro, just across from the Beachfront Inn, nicely remodeled and with great food and service. The next evening we had martinis and interesting and tasty food at the Superfly Martini Bar in Brookings. From the outside, the place looks rather nondescript, but inside the vibe was super cool and the clientele was quite varied, with people young and old enjoying the upbeat atmosphere.



As always, our time on the beach with Mattie was wonderful. I had to laugh out loud when I got back home and compared photos of Mattie last year and Mattie this year on exactly the same day in exactly the same spot. Do I really need to write a blog? Maybe I can just link to blogs from the past. At this time in our lives, it seems we do tend to enjoy repeat visits to our favorite places. You might have to click on each picture to see which gallery is from 2020 and which one is from 2021.  Smile

Our last evening in Brookings we were treated to an incredible sunset, something that doesn’t happen often with fog often rolling in at the last minute to obscure the colors, even on a sunny day.

On the morning of our return trip to Grants Pass, we stopped in at the Beachfront Bistro for a quick visit with an old friend from Rocky Point. Chrissie Hathor has been following us along on Facebook ever since she moved to Brookings and has invited us to visit several times. It may have been short, but it was a sweet visit.

The day we returned home I had only a few short hours to make cookies and prepare for the Grants Pass Book Club Christmas get-together that evening. The gathering was at Kristin’s home where we shared gift books, good food, and lots of fun conversation.

The entertainment for the evening was gifting a wrapped book with only a hint on the cover of what that book might be, and no name of the person giving the book. Each of us picked one and will talk about our book at the next monthly meeting. This book club has turned out to be so much fun, with a great group of diverse people sharing laughter and thoughts. I received a book I might never have chosen. I’ll wait to talk about it until after the end of January when we all get together again and review our books.

Two nights before Christmas, we once again enjoyed our annual tradition of driving around Grants Pass looking at Christmas lights with Maryruth and Gerald. Before it got dark, Maryruth treated us to a great spread of appetizers and some fun Jell-O shots to fuel us for the evening. It stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy several neighborhoods following the maps I had downloaded from our local newspaper.

Christmas Eve at Sunset House was quiet and lovely, with a bit of snow to add to the festive feeling of the Holiday. We often spend Christmas Eve with just the two of us and enjoy it thoroughly. We followed tradition and let Mattie open a Christmas Eve present. We also enjoyed our annual tradition of Christmas Eve clam chowder. The funny thing about Mattie, she was entirely too polite to rip the paper from her wrapped present. She held it in her mouth and looked at us as if to ask what she was supposed to do.

On Christmas morning we woke to an almost-white Christmas with a light dusting of snow. There was too much snow on the roads for daughter Deborah to make it to brunch, but Maryruth and Gerald managed the 1 mile trip to our house. It was a lovely day and for some reason, I completely forgot to take photos of the four of us. We had real eggs benedict, an easy meal since there were only four of us. Poaching eggs for a crowd can get a bit challenging. After brunch, we settled in for some rousing rounds of dominoes, a game Maryruth and Gerald hadn’t played before. By the end of a few games, they were hooked. Nice for us, since we do like dominoes.

With the telephone, Facebook, and emails we connected with friends and extended family throughout the day. Daughter Melody and Robert had a wonderful Christmas at home in Brownsville with their kids. Deborah and Bob enjoyed movies and fresh crab at home in Shady Cove where the snow was getting deeper by the minute. I loved a great photo of Jeanne in Vermont with the gorgeous wreath she made from wild cuttings from their property. Some friends sent E-Cards, others texted greetings, Tracey sent photos of my great-grandkids in their Christmas Jammies that I send each year to their home in Northern Washington. All in all, it was a very satisfying day.

As I wrote at the beginning of this story, we had several days of record-breaking snow. Daughter Deborah was snowed in. With snow being a rare occurrence, many people don’t bother with snow tires, and Deb has a cute little mini-Cooper, not a good snow vehicle.


By Wednesday morning, I knew that if I were going to get north to Melody’s house for even one night, it needed to be that day. I hugged Mo and Mattie goodbye and packed up an overnight bag. My trusty 2002 Dakota is a 4×4 and was perfect for a possibly sketchy drive over the 6 passes between Grants Pass and Eugene. Melody lives north of Eugene. The drive was fine and when I arrived at Melody’s in the afternoon the rain had let up a bit. We had a great afternoon with all the mother-daughter fun silly conversations that happen when no one else is around. Taking silly photos made us laugh so hard.



Later, when Robert came home from work, Melody finished up the fabulous risotto and butter-basted filet mignon steaks for our supper. We snuggled into their huge recliners in the tv room and watched a great movie. More laughs and conversation before I settled in for a comfy night in their upstairs bedroom. I had to return home the next afternoon.


New Year’s Eve was the next day and I didn’t want to be driving on the Interstate on Friday. Thursday the rain was heavy but the traffic wasn’t horrible, but I was still grateful when I pulled into our driveway safe and sound after that trip.

Mo and I don’t often do much for New Year’s Eve, but Mo had a little trip that she had wanted to do before Christmas but time and weather didn’t cooperate. Around 4 we jumped into the car and drove south through the gorgeous Applegate Valley toward Applegate Lake. We have visited the McKee Covered Bridge in the past, but this year the volunteer society for McKee Bridge had decorated the bridge with greens and lights. It would all come down on New Years Day, so it was our last chance to visit the bridge all lit up for Christmas.

The sun came out enough to light up the surrounding snow-covered hills and at this time of day, traffic was quite light. It only took us about an hour to get there, and we were happy that we could see the lights and still get home before it got really dark.

Mattie loves to sit in the front seat and make sure we are going the right way.

I like to think that is how we ended New Year’s Eve, but instead, we made the mistake of attempting to watch “the ball fall” at Times Square. We both decided that the whole thing was horrendously stupid and that we never had to try that again. Seems like some things have just deteriorated into inane junk. We went to bed to the sound of guns, cannons, and fireworks, around our neighborhood, not a good thing for most doggies. Lucky for us, Mattie could care less about fireworks or gunshots. She just takes it all in stride.


I finished out the night watching videos of the magnificent fireworks put on in Sydney, Australia. Mo enjoyed seeing them as well, remembering her visit to the Sydney Opera House and her visit there many years ago. I never made it to Australia. My bucket list is getting thinner as the years go by. Pretty sure Australia has slipped off the list by now.
Watching videos of the uplifting shows all around the world was a much more delightful way to end the year than whatever they call that mess in Times Square. And to think, I used to wish I could spend a New Years’ Eve in Times Square?!! What was I thinking??!!


So often on New Year I muse about the past and envision the future, but this year it was enough to simply revel in the present. There will be plenty of time to reminisce, worry, and plan in the days to come.

11-02-2021 A Gentle October Comes to an End

Chrysanthemums in October

It has been a gentle month.  Today, dressed for damp fall weather, I completed a garden chore that might seem a bit silly to some.  Here in Grants Pass, and in the Pacific Northwest in general, it has rained more this October than it has for many years.  Between Atmospheric Rivers and Bomb Cyclones dumping inches of rain, there have been a few breaks in the clouds.  Leaves are starting to fall, but the main event won’t happen until mid to late November. In the mean time, little jobs await outdoors for a break in the weather.

The annuals in my cutting garden bed are so happy that the weather has cooled

My silly project has to do with lifting plants in the hot summer and replanting them when things cool down in the fall.  Most of my life, I have either planted bulbs in the fall, or lifted dahlias and gladiolas before the hard freezes of winter destroy them.  Here, the glads and dahlias stay in the ground all season, happily popping up every spring.  Sometimes the glads have moved around a bit in the garden, thanks to the moles and gophers, but most of the time they all appear somewhere eventually.

Primroses blooming in March

The primroses are a different story.  Primroses love the damp, cool weather of the Pacific Northwest.  They are also fairly hardy in reasonable winter temperatures.  When I lived near Spokane, I so envied the brilliant borders of Juliet purple primroses that seemed to line every path and rock garden in the lush neighborhoods of the South Hill area.  I finally bought a couple at the local perennial nursery.  I have moved and babied those two little plants for decades.  First to my home in Klamath Falls, then to Mo’s home at Rocky Point, and now finally settled here at Sunset House. They have multiplied into a treasured row of fluffy purple primroses that light up the entry walkway here spring.

Cool pots for the primroses to hide in during the hot summer

Problem is, Grants Pass may be in Oregon, but it is definitely not the cool, damp Pacific Northwest environment that allows them to thrive.  Every summer, when the July heat and drought hit, in spite of prolific watering, they start to turn brown and crispy.  They hate our summer heat.  So I dutifully lift them each year and let them spend the summer in the shade of our thick photinia shrubs, hand watering them almost daily to help them survive our brutal summers.

I spent the little break in the weather today transplanting those sweet little primroses from their summer boxes to their showcase row along our walkway.  A few of them are already showing their happy purple faces lit with tiny yellow centers.  As I planted, I found the sprouts of the miniature yellow daffodils that start blooming in between the primroses in February.

It was a sweet chore, and I relished the moist soil, the water droplets on leaves, and the incredibly lushness of an Oregon garden when it isn’t 108 in the shade, the rains are months away, and the well has to be so carefully managed.  I haven’t had to think about the well for a month.  All the water systems are turned off.  It feels easy and peaceful.

The trees that we planted almost 4 years ago when we finished building Sunset House are strengthening and growing bigger every season.  This year has been especially colorful, not only in our yard, but throughout Grants Pass.  Maybe it is the healing rains that have been so consistent and the temperatures that got down to 32F Degrees only once. Zinnias, dahlias, roses are still blooming in the midst of brilliant orange, yellow, and red leaves.  It is quite a feast for the senses.

It was a gentle month for many reasons.  With our Utah trip behind us we had nothing huge on the agenda for the month of October.  Finally I could bring out the fall and Halloween decorations.

Maryruth and I decided to spend some simple girly time enjoying an early lunch accompanied by Lavender Lemon Drops at the Bohemian, a cute downtown venue in a building more than 100 years old.  The food is delicious as well, and the place is delightful, if a bit noisy. 

Later that afternoon, Mo and I drove through the slanting afternoon sunlight to Schmidt Family Vineyard for wine and pizza.  We were treated to music by a blues duo, including Broadway Phil, an artist we have followed for years.  Blues and a pale moon in the blue sky and brilliant light on the trees made for some sweet moments.

Mo took advantage of the breaks in the rain to finish painting the new deck addition.  I shopped for some young, new herb plants to replace the ones we had to take out when we extended the deck.  Mo built some new steps for me, easier to navigate than what we had previously. 

I cleaned up the big Weber BBQ that I used to have to climb up and down the stairs to us and we hauled it up to the deck.  No longer will I need to fun up and down to try to cook something, and its position on the bigger deck doesn’t get in the way of our view as it did in the smaller space we had prior to building the extension.

I spent some of the month working on the quilt project that I bought when we were passed through Florence on our last trip to the coast.  I loved the fabric, didn’t have a pattern and decided that a disappearing 4 patch would be a simple way to showcase the pretty fall colors.  Not so simple, I had forgotten all those points that needed matching, but it turned out OK.  I then made place mats and napkins to go with it.

Later in the month it was my turn to hostess for the women of my newish Grants Pass Book Club.  Nine women showed up for goodies, wine, hot cider, and great conversation. I enjoy entertaining people this way, but just not too often, please.  I don’t know why I get so wound up over it because everything almost always turns out just fine. 

I love this group of women and am enjoying the book club tremendously.  Our book for November was to be either a Native American author or a story about Native Americans.  We chose Louise Erdich’s recent book, “The Night Watchman”.  An excellent choice. 

The days were sliding by easily, and Mo reminded me that we did need to plan an outing of some sort for the MoHo for October.  We try hard not to miss doing some kind of travel each month.  I managed to get a reservation toward the end of the month for a great site at Harris Beach State Park.  By the time our day of departure rolled around, the infamous Atmospheric River was heading straight for Oregon.  We knew to expect three days of hard rain, wind, and possible flooding.  Ah yes, the Oregon Coast.  Fun even in the rain.

It was raining when we left home, but by the time we arrived in Brookings and got set up the weather let up a bit. Our site was an old favorite, C3, just to the south of the full ocean view sites along the front line of the park, but big and private, and even with a tiny sliver of ocean view out our windows. 

We drove down to the beach and were aghast at the huge waves pounding the shoreline, completely covering the beach.  It was King Tide time on the coast and the weather only added to the drama.  After exploring the beach a bit from the dry car, we drove south of town to the Brookings Harbor.  The surf was wild along the south Chetco River jetty, with hugs logs brought in from the storm

A bit later we drove north along Highway 101 to see if possibly we could find another dramatic view of the wild surf.  Not far north of town, we came to an exit we have never explored.  The road to Lone Ranch Beach is marked as a Day Use Area only, and in all our years visiting the Oregon Coast we have never driven down to the beach.  What a surprise. 

The clouds broke enough for us to walk a bit and explore the beach and a bit of the Oregon Coast Trail that continues north from the beach.  It was quiet, almost empty except for two other cars.  We saw only one person walking and by the time we got back to our car he and his dog were loading up to leave.  Mattie loved her chance to run free on the beach unleashed with no one else around to bother her or us.

Night was loud with rain pounding the roof, and yet we slept great soothed by the sounds.  I could hear the roar of the ocean all night. The next morning dawned rainy as expected.  We relaxed, read, played cards a bit, had a late breakfast, and then decided to go exploring a bit.  Mo searched out Dog Parks in Brookings. 

In the wet rain, Mattie didn’t think much of Stout Dog Park, toward the center of town in a small neighborhood.  We walked to the new dog park built at the entrance to the Chetco Point Trail  The signage for this park was non existent, but we did manage to find it.  It was well fenced with separate big and little dog areas, but the wind and rain made it not much fun for Mattie.

Mattie was just 9 months old or so in the bottom photo on that sunny day in 2015

We walked down the trail just a bit, marveling at the wild surf, and took photos of Mattie on the same picnic table where we photographed her on our first trip to the coast with her when she was brand new to us. The rain was heavy enough that we didn’t particularly want to linger or hike.  Instead, we drove to a small quilt shop I had never discovered before.  The owner said she had been there for six years.  Not sure how I missed this one, but I had fun wandering around looking at goodies and purchased a couple of patterns for Quilt as You Go projects, something I have never tried. 

By the time we returned to the MoHo, Mo decided that rain or not she wanted a campfire.  We have enjoyed rainy campfires in the past, and she pulled out the umbrellas for us.  I waited inside for the fire and finally Mattie and I joined Mo with the drippy skies adding to the ambience of the warm fire.  Not bad. 

On Wednesday, as expected, we woke to brighter skies and no rain.  Our plan was to drive north to Bandon, walk around town a bit, and then return in time for a fish and chips late lunch at the Crazy Norwegian.  It was a gorgeous day, and we took our time along the highway, stopping at several overlooks to enjoy the views of the ocean and the coast. We stopped in the little town of Port Orford to be sure the restaurant would be open, and just cross the street was another quilt shop.  My will power didn’t hold up and I left with 5 yards of magnificent fabric for which I have no determined use.  Quilters will understand.

For the first time in a long time, we enjoyed walking around Bandon when it wasn’t raining!  Our first stop was Face Rock Creamery where I bought some yummy cheeses and we had ice cream.  One scoop is huge!  and Delicious as well.  By the time we parked in town near the Coastal Mist Chocolate Shop, I was too full to enjoy my most favorite sweet, the Drinking Chocolate!  I can’t believe I couldn’t manage a little cup of perfect heaven.  I knew fish and chips were waiting and the ice cream was still digesting, so no dreamy hot chocolate this time.

Our first stop was the book store, another favorite place to spend time.  I enjoyed looking for a gift book for the December book club get together.  We then wandered town a bit more and I found a lovely little cottage shop full of cottagey stuff.  I even found something to buy there that looks perfect in my fall décor at home.  It always amazes me how creative people who have shops like this manage to take a bunch of tattered junk and make it appear beautiful and oh so tempting.  If I tried it, it would be just a bunch of junk in a room!

By the time we left Bandon and returned south along the coast toward Port Orford, it was late afternoon.  We arrived at the Crazy Norwegian just at 4:30, in time to settle into the last table available in the front area of the restaurant. 

I didn’t know until we paid the bill when we left that there were four more tables in a nook to the right of the main dining room.  I always think of Nina when I see the Crazy Norwegian.  She wrote about it more than once when she and Paul were volunteering at the lighthouse at Cape Blanco State Park.

It was getting late in the day, and we wanted to give Mattie one more chance to run on a beach before going back to camp.  We stopped at another new site we haven’t visited before.  Arizona Beach is a day use only area along Highway 101.  Once again, we had the beach to ourselves, and Mattie could run as free as she wanted to. 

When we arrived back at camp, it was almost dark and unbelievably, not raining!  Mo built a big campfire again, using up the rest of our dry wood brought from home, including some very big madrone logs that she managed to split.  The fire was hot and wonderful, and once again I felt silly from not bringing the marshmallows on this trip.  We were expecting three days of rain!

Harris Beach on the morning before we left for home.  Sunshine!

I felt something on this trip that I haven’t felt in a long time.  Completely relaxed.  I didn’t feel I had to worry about anything that needed to be done, any unfinished projects waiting for me, chores and leaves in the yard overwhelming my mind in the middle of the night. Mo was driving and I was daydreaming as I watched the beautiful landscape roll by and thought, “I want to hold this feeling always, I want to take it home with me.”

So far, I have done well with this thought.  I spent a day yesterday doing nothing except wash the bedding, make the bed, and crawl into it to read the new book.  The day before yesterday, I did manage to get out in the morning before the rain started to blow some leaves and rake a bit.  But the pressure isn’t building as it often does for me.  The leaves will wait for us.  Chores will get done, or not.  If not today, then tomorrow.  This blog will get written, or not.  But as I write I realize that this time, it isn’t a chore or a job I need to finish.  It is something I am doing because it pleases me in this moment.

Dinner will be leftovers from last night tacos, and I don’t have to worry about house cleaning till the weekend.  The house is fine.  The leaves will wait.  I can do whatever I want whenever I want.  Such a feeling of freedom.  It is something to realize that a lot of pressures and deadlines are completely self imposed and are absolutely unnecessary.  For the moment at least, all is good.

10-02-2021 Sheldon NWR to Grants Pass Oregon 289 Miles

We woke in the early morning after a great night’s sleep to crystal clear skies.  I took some time to walk around the campground again in the early light.  The pond that supplied water for the pool reflected the silky sky.  A pair of ducks flapped and quacked as I walked around the small pond, but seemed unbothered by my presence.

I took a few more photos of the campground noticing how many campers had come in last night after we did. It was clear that volunteers who loved the campground and the spring took excellent care of the place. 

A free little library sponsored by the Friends of the Denio Library was full of books and magazines, and even a pair of rubber boots.

The little campground was beautiful in the early morning.  With a light breakfast, we were on the road by 9 am. 

Driving back toward Highway 140 on the 2 miles of gravel road didn’t seem as troublesome as it had yesterday. Mo drove slowly enough that the shaking and rattling was minimal.

The woven fences around the main buildings at the refuge headquarters were fascinating.  Much of the infrastructure around the refuge that is still being used today, including roads, stone buildings, water control structures, and entrance portals were built by the CCC between 1936 and 1942.

Mo continued a slow pace as she drove through the refuge, hoping to see a few wild animals.  There are pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and burros throughout the refuge. While many of the wild horses have been removed to protect the rangeland from overgrazing, we passed a couple along the highway.

East of the tiny town of Adel is a long, steep grade that I remembered from previous trips on this route.  With the torque converter feature of the MoHo keeping our use of brakes to a minimum, we descended easily and slowly.

We passed the road leading to Hart Mountain, and from that point on, the route was very familiar.  Highway 140 goes through Bly, Beatty, and Klamath Falls before reaching the southwestern shore of Klamath Lake. 

At the Howard Bay public dock, we stopped to give Mattie a break and walk around a bit to enjoy the view.  We saw pelicans roosting at the dock,  but there were so many people there that I didn’t bother to attempt to get a photo of them.  At the lower end of the bay, we saw hundreds of coots staging for their winter flight south. 

We arrived home around 4 PM, happy to be there.  It was early enough in the afternoon that we unloaded all the food. We collected a few personal items, but the rest of the clothes and “stuff” of travel would have to wait until morning.

Everything at home was in great condition.  The rains that began just as we left Grants Pass turned the dry brown pasture green and the flowers were bright and happy.  My friend Maryruth’s husband Gerald checked in on our place each morning.  He made sure that all the drip sprinklers were working.  It was very important to have someone check the well to make sure all was running as it should. We appreciated his care so much.  It made it much easier to come home without worrying that something may have happened to the place while we were away.
It may have been because we had been in the desert for so many days, but everything seemed especially lush on this sunny afternoon.  After a great trip, it was good to be home.