Snow in November Snow in March

Home in Rocky Point Oregon: current temperature 36 Degrees F  high 43 low 25 partly sunny

snow flurries on Klamath Lake Winter is long in this part of Oregon.  The snows start in earnest in November, with a few skiffs sometimes showing up in October.  The snow can be deep, and while we can get down to zero F for a week or so, the winters aren’t nearly as bad as places like Minnesota or the Dakotas.  Still, they are long. I love winter at Christmas time.  I love winter in January when I can enjoy it and then take off for California.  I love winter in February least of all, and ever since I moved from California to snow country in Northern Idaho back in the early 70’s I have done everything possible to get out of winter in February. 

But winter in March is different.  Even though it is cold and the snow is really tiresome by now, it feels different.  The days are getting longer, just a bit, but it isn’t dark any more at 4:30 in the afternoon.  When it snows, it is usually a bit wetter, and there are patches of blue amid the fluff of snowy clouds. The air feels different.  And the birds are back.  snowgees

Early in the morning I can hear them down by the lake, but they are out on the water in places we can’t get to yet with the snow and ice all around.  Still, we walked down there this morning to get the mail.  Gingerly picking our way through the re-frozen slush in the driveway and hoping our boots didn’t crash through the crusty snow banks down by the water.  When I went in to town yesterday, in the midst of a blustery snow storm, I saw open water along the edges of the lake, and saw that the swans had returned.  I only had the iPad with me, and there was traffic and snow, so it was a quick photo, but it still made me really feel the difference between the deepening winter feeling of December and the promise of winter eventually ending.  Maybe not in March, but still eventually it will end.

There is an aerial survey of the birds in Klamath Basin that is updated regularly, and even back on January 30, we had almost 44,000 tundra swans in the refuge complex.  I love the swans especially, and the snow geese, they look like flapping sheets in the wind when they fly in unison and rise and fall over the landscape.

Horse Fever horses in Ocala will always bring back great memories of sharing this with BelI  am still having a bit of trouble writing about Florida.  My friend Bel, in my life for 19 years, passed away while I was there.  I was with her when she passed, probably the hardest thing I have ever done, and yet a gift I will always be grateful for. If you read my blog in the past, you know about Bel and my visits to her, my worries over her access to health care, some of her life difficulties.  This is our happy fun travel blog, how in the world do I talk about this here?  I guess I just can’t.  Up close family, up close friends, real words coming out of real mouths with sound, seem to be the only appropriate way for the moment.  I didn’t plan to say anything at all when I started this blog, and yet some of you are those real friends with real words who were there for me on the phone and on Facebook, of all places, as I was going through it.  So I needed to acknowledge that somehow after all and thank you.  Enough for now.

visiting Deb in San Antonio (15)On the way home from Florida I was so happy to have almost three full days in San Antonio with my daughter Deborah.  She took off work on Thursday and Friday and we spent our time together driving around to places she loved in her new home, seeing where she worked, eating great Texas food that her sweetie prepared for us.  I ate ribs and cole slaw and Texas beans and cheese bread and brisket and omigosh…the heartburn!  I am not used to eating like that, but it sure was fun to let go for a few days in spite of the heartburn.

IMG_3481 We checked out some quilt shops and picked out fabrics for the quilt I will make for her someday, we wandered off to Palmetto State Park and Lyndon B Johnson State Park, and spent a night in lovely Fredericksburg.  It was cool and breezy while I was there, but the sun was brilliant and gorgeous.  South Texas is a great place this time of year, even though the blue bonnets have yet to burst.  The grasses are greening up, and did I mention that sunshine?  Ahhhh.  It was so healing to be with Deborah, who knew and loved Bel, to have her to talk with about it.  I was blessed by two daughters on this trip actually, with Deanna re-routing a Tampa load to go through Ocala, where she met me for a long breakfast full of big hugs. Daughter Melody stayed with me on the phone a lot and son John called a few times as well, and of course Mo and Maryruth and my long time friend Laura from Coeur d Alene, a respiratory RN.  It was wonderful to have so much support and understanding.

It was good to get back home.  I did a deep clean on the house before I left, and Mo was away at her brother’s while I was gone, so we came home to a cozy, clean, wonderful home.  Mo beat me home by a day, so when I returned the house was still sparkly but was WARM with a nice big fire going.  Snow still on the ground, but sunshine and blue skies were wonderful.  And silence.  The nights are so dark and starry under the hot tub and the silence is just so SILENT!  No street lights, no traffic, no trains, all the stuff of towns and cities are absent here in the forest. 

We are settling in, enjoying home a bit before we decide just when to wander off to the cottage in Grants Pass and maybe get some beach time. Here at home I have a big quilt to finish binding, and fabric to play with, soil survey work waiting and all sorts of “retirement” projects that I still have yet to get to after three years as a retiree.  I am never, never bored.  Ever.

St Paddy's around home-002

February This n That

Home in Rocky Point, Oregon Sunshine and 49 degrees, low tonight 27
Valentines Day Decor (10)
Valentines Day Decor (5)We returned home from our January travels just in time to get the last of the Christmas lights down and the Valentine decorations up.  I know, I am a little bit crazy that way.  I love to do seasonal decorations. 
Besides, it gave me a chance to get out my first little quilt table topper
that I made last year as a very tentative, brand new quilter.  Funny how the imperfections become a bit endearing after a bit of time has passed.  No one really cares but me anyway, and it is fun to see my progress. 

Leaving sunny California behind, we drove once again into another cloudy inversion over the Rogue Valley.  The little cottage was waiting, all proud and excited to show off her brand new hat.  The roofing job was completed with just a few glitches and a little bit over bid, but Mo is happy with it.  There was a lot of repair involved, and several layers of roofing, dating all the way back to 1926 had to be removed.  Someone asked me to show a photo of the cottage, so here it is again, with the new roof of course.

cottage roof (4)cottage roof (2)
We put the MoHo to bed and traveled back over the pass to Rocky Point, relieved that there wasn’t much new snow since we left in mid January.  Everything was in good order, with the driveway accessible, the house warmed to a balmy 55 degrees by the backup electric heaters, and everything in good shape.

It is good to be home, but February is really my least favorite month of winter, and if I didn’t have to be working for a couple of weeks, I think we would have just gone back over the mountain and right on over to the coast!  Ah well, that will come next month when I return from Florida in early March. 
winter ice around home (10)
winter ice around home (1)In the mean time, the sun has been shining daily and the nights are cold.  The snow is still very deep and the driveway is completely frozen into a sheet of solid ice.  I can’t stand up on it, and when I tried to move the truck it just slid sideways for a bit before deciding to go forward.  The only way to get outside and enjoy the sunshine is in the mid afternoon, when I put on the snow pac’s and trudge up an old side road by our place that isn’t completely iced over.  I leave it to Mo to get the mail, which entails walking down the glare ice driveway to the sheet ice road to get to Rocky Point Road, completely bare and dry.

Speaking of mail…it doesn’t seem like there is ever anything in there at all except advertising.  Not sure I would miss it if I didn’t have it at all, but I know I won’t miss Saturday mail. We don’t put anything in the box that is worrisome, mailing from town if we need to, and we don’t get anything troubling either, choosing instead to receive almost everything electronically.  Packages are usually delivered via FedEx or UPS. Lots safer that way, I guess, unless of course everything gets hacked.  UhOh.  I hear the mood of February sifting into this journal.  I have no right to complain at all, I am sitting here with the glare of brilliant sunshine on snow coming through my window and lighting up this room.

bin mouse damage (2)
bin mouse damage (1)Lots of RV’rs have been talking about mice lately, so I thought I would add my little story to the conversation.  I store bird seed in a big, strong, heavy plastic garbage can.  We seem to only have ground feeders around in the winter, so I thought that maybe they would appreciate a bit of seed scattered over the snow.  Opened the bin to find several very fat, very dead mice in the bottom of the container.  Seems as though they figured out how to chew through the plastic, but then couldn’t get back out of the bin.  ugh.  I don’t do dead things, so whined for Mo to come and fix it.  I would hate to live alone at moments like this. I guess we will have to find something stronger to hold the bird seed when those little guys are winter hungry.

Within a few days of arriving home, I got a call from Heart to Heart Quilters in Merrill letting me know that my first big project, a queen sized quilt, was ready for pick-up. My daughter Melody had the day off, so I picked her up and we drove the half hour south to Merrill together.  In addition to picking up the quilt, which was quilted beautifully, we spent a long time in the quilt shop looking at fabric and patterns and day dreaming about the day when I will again tackle a big project and make a bed quilt for her.  She let me know that a lap quilt would be nice…but gee Mom, I would really love a big one.  I told her she would be lucky to get it in the next ten years.  This last big one only took me a few months to finish, and in all fairness, I certainly wasn’t working on it all the time.
alison baby quilt (1)
I also managed to finish the quilting and binding on the baby quilt for Alison’s newborn little boy.  Alison is the wonderful soil scientist who worked for me in California who moved to Florida.  I am tickled about the chance to visit her next week while I am in Ocala with my friend Bel, and to deliver the quilt in person. I thought frogs and bugs and blue and green would be a great theme for a little boy who lives in Florida, right?
Jeremy at the fire (6)

I will manage to get in a good 80 hours of work before I leave next Thursday for the Sunshine State.  Of course, the weather there has been fabulous, with temperatures in the 80’s, and as soon as I get there the highs will be 60 or something.  I have no idea why that happens to me when I go to Florida, probably it is because I just don’t get to stay long enough.  Mo and I are still having the conversation about next year and my wish for a Florida winter.  We will see.  In the mean time, we are going to focus this year on getting the cottage in shape and keeping our getaways fairly close to home.
Just thought I would throw in a shot of Jeremy enjoying the lovely new wool hearth rug in front of the fire.  I know he is completely sure that I bought it just for him.  He is getting so skinny, and of course it shows in the photo.  At his prime he was 13 pounds of long limbed lithe beauty and now he is down to less than 8 pounds.  He is on special vet food, limited ingredient diet, with a bit of tuna and fresh meat now and then.  He is such a sweetie, so personable and loving.  At nearly 17, though, it seems that he gets a touch of kitty Alzheimer’s now and then.  I read recently about some of the challenges involved with having an “elderly” cat, kind of a bit like an elderly human, I guess.  He gets anxious if he can’t see us and they say that is because old cats lose their vision and hearing and that makes them more fearful.
He still loves nothing more than riding on the dash in the MoHo, and waking me up  at 4:30 am with a loud purr and that sneaky cat claw chin slap that most cat owners will recognize.
I am excited about my upcoming trip, looking forward to seeing how Bel is doing in person, and most of all looking forward to seeing my daughter Deborah in San Antonio on the way home!  I booked a jump flight so I could do both at once, just couldn’t stand the idea of flying over Texas and not getting to see my girl!


NoSnow Vacation

Highway 140 passover the mountain Now that Christmas is behind us, and all the romance of those gorgeous snowy days is a bit dim, we decided it was time to head over the mountain for a break.  We wanted to check on the MoHo, make sure that the space heater Mo set up was working properly, see the new fancy chain drive that was installed on the shed roll up door, and just hang out for a couple of days in a place where snow is a rarity. We also thought it might be fun to see just how much the hole in the kitchen ceiling had grown.

Most of the time when we drive over the snowy pass, we take our toad, the Tracker.  It has studded tires and 4 wheel drive and could probably climb a tree if needed.  But we wanted space and comfort and it was only a 2 hour drive, so we opted instead to take the Lexus.  With something called ECT (a button!) and Overdrive OFF, she did just fine in spite of the dicey conditions on the pass. 
leaving the snow behind usOur Oregon State DOT wrote something up in the newspaper last summer about coming up with a name for our pass.  I sure hope they do it soon.  It is definitely a real pass, with a summit and lots of snow.  For now, we just call it Highway 140, and say we are going “over the pass”.  Sure would be nice to have a name. I am voting for Sky Lakes Pass since it travels just south of the Sky Lakes Wilderness.  Hey, Jeanne, maybe Brown Mountain Pass, or Mt McLoughlin Pass, or Pelican Butte pass?  The road doesn’t go over a single one of those big mountains, but ‘passes’ right in between all of them.
It isn’t much distance from home to Medford.  We are near milepost 44 and the highway starts in Medford at 0.  Probably 25 miles this side of Medford is out of the snow zone, so the pass itself is really only about 15 miles of actually winter pass driving.  Medford and Grants Pass are in zone 7 on the agricultural scale, the same as the foothills of California.  There is occasional snow, and a cold enough winter that tulips and lilacs will bloom, but most of the time there isn’t anything to shovel and the daytime temperatures are almost always above freezing.  Within half an hour of leaving home, we were out of the snow and into the rain and fog that is common this time of year in the Rogue Valley.
Once we arrived at the cottage, we were happy to see the MoHo shed looking shiny and the MoHo all safe and cozy inside.  Mo had a big roll up door installed, and they hadn’t put in the chain drive when we were here last.  Both of us got a big kick out of how incredibly easy it was to open the big door with that fancy drive.  Sure beats trying to push the thing up with a pole.  It is Heavy!
12-28-2012 Summit Loop visit Once we knew that the MoHo was all safe and sound and that the little space heater had kept things just toasty in there, we went inside the chilly damp cottage to see how things were faring.  Funny how something like the hole in the kitchen ceiling just seems interesting instead of devastating when the cottage isn’t a full time proposition. I sure would hate to have this happen in my real house.  Mo found a roofer in the area who seemed reasonably experienced and made an appointment for him to come and give us an estimate for a new or repaired roof. 
well, the first thing to do is tarp it.  Tarp IT?!?!?!?  North Idaho Blue Tarp Roof??? you gotta be kidding meso, how much? This guy was interesting, to say the least, and he really likes to talk, especially in circles.  Hopefully he knows what he is doing.  He said there were at least 4 and maybe 5 layers on that old roof, and that he would take it down to the wood, replace anything that is rotted and start fresh.  Mo decided on shingles instead of metal, since there isn’t any snow to slide off in Grants Pass to speak of anyway. He said that he would tarp the roof until he could get to it.  Tarp??!!  Blue Tarps??!!  I have spent the last 40 years laughing at what my friends and I called “North Idaho Roofing Jobs”, blue tarps everywhere.  Now I am going to have one?  I hope maybe he uses something other than those awful blue tarps. 
We spent the rest of our time enjoying the break from plowing and shoveling snow.  The leaves from the oaks were wet and thick on the ground, but since we can’t seem to coordinate our visits with a legal burn day, Mo thought it was better to just let the leaves wait where they are instead of making a big wet pile of them somewhere else.  I liked that idea a lot, since I am the major leaf raker, and while Mo did puttery house repairs (her favorite hobby), I sat in front of the big south facing window knitting.
Jeremy is unconcerned.  His part of the cottage is dry and warmMo fixing the door that drags We have a nice old fashioned and very good gas stove in the house that had it warmed up and cozy in no time.  Dinner was leftover ham from Christmas on the first night but the second night after running some errands we decided it was time for real pizza.  Living in Rocky Point most of the time, means it is a minimum 40 minutes on a dry good day from town to home.  Hard to get a pizza back from the shop while still hot. 
The cottage, however, is just 3 miles from town, and the Legendary Abby’s Pizza.  I remember eating Abby’s pizzas when I lived in Medford back in 1969!  The store was full but not overcrowded, with lots of happy folks eating pizza and enjoying the big fire in the center of the dining room.  Our pizza was great, the half carafe of Burgundy wine was certainly not fancy, but obviously we had a good time. 
Dang, that pizza was GOOD!  Or was it the wine.12-28-2012 Summit Loop visit1
The best part was the ten minute drive back to the cottage!  We really like this part about living near town.  Grants Pass seems to have some nice stores and restaurants, and even though the population is technically smaller than Klamath Falls, the stores are all bigger, newer, and nicer for some reason.  Home Depot is well stocked and probably 1/3 bigger than our shop in Klamath.  Is it access to the interstate that makes the difference? 
Mamma and her yearling with this year's baby outside the fence again, not quite big enough yet to jump it This morning we woke again to a foggy day and deer in the yard.  The mama looked familiar, with what is probably last year’s yearling and this year’s fawn. The doe and the yearling get over the fence, but the fawn always seems to end up wandering along outside the fence.  I suppose he will eventually get big enough to actually jump with the other two.
all the leaves are finally down, and wet, at the cottage Both of us are getting a bit antsy to get the MoHo out of her pretty shed and on the road. Before mid month January we will be heading south to the desert via the old favorite, I-5.  I really miss that hot springs pool at Catalina Spa in Desert Hot Springs.  I think we owe a nice Palm Springs dinner to Rick and Paulette as well, and I even miss those silly windmills spinning away. 
I also showed Mo some of the reviews that Nina wrote about San Diego, so we are going to give it a try this season after our 7 day Passport America stay at Catalina Spa.  Looking forward to something a bit different that we haven’t done before.  I haven’t been to the San Diego Zoo since I was a kid.  Yippee!!

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

Merry Christmas

DSC_0040 In spite of our slow start to the season this year, Christmas has arrived in full force and I am all the way in the mood.  Something about deep snows and bright bluebird skies does a lot toward making things seem all as they should. Mo is finally over her cold and I am over the dizzies for the most part.  I decorated the house, put up the outside lights and the snow started falling ten days ago and hasn’t  stopped since.  We get a little break now and then, but Mo has plowed every single day but one and we have been shoveling the driveway and snow-blowing the pathways every day as well.

IMG_0420Somehow the snows make me feel all is right with the world.  Climate change is real.  Call it global warming, global weirding, blame it on whatever makes you happy, (I have no idea why this science is colored by politics, but that is another story and I’ll save the arguments for elsewhere) but the real part about climate change is that things will get weird. Things are weird.  We didn’t have any snow at Rocky Point for most of December, and it just felt weird. Now, finally, on schedule, the big snows have arrived.  And somehow it makes me feel that the climate is giving me a bit of a reprieve.  Things are normal.  It is cold.  It is snowing.  I am shoveling and Mo is plowing.  It is a good thing. The weather, at least for the moment, and at least here in the West, is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

DSC_0028 I worked last week, and still managed to get presents ordered and shipped for the great grandchildren scattered around the country.  Presents for my daughters were already taken care of in Prague, gifts to kids and grandkids in the mail.  I don’t do as much as I would like to to, but as much as I can manage, and it is enough.  This week I started cooking and baking, with a few treasures that Mo and I will never be able to eat, so of course we will share with kids and neighbors.  The smell of baking makes things seem all right with the world as well.  It has been a quiet time, and a good time.

Daughter Deborah sent oranges and lemons from Texas to brighten my winter days.  Daughter number two and her husband are doing Christmas in Mazatlan this year, a last minute decision for a much needed vacation.  Son John in Missouri is enjoying his extended family there and we had a nice long conversation the other day.  Thank goodness for telephones and email with family scattered all over the country. I hope that someday I can get everyone together in one place at one time, but for now I’ll be grateful for what I have.

snow on the cabin Mo gets dozens and dozens of cards from old friends and family.  I know I have friends, I know I do.  But I think I get about 4 cards.  My friend Jeanne never lets me down and always sends an amazing photo of herself somewhere in the world. This year her photo was lovely and full of tropical flowers, even though she is now back home in Vermont.  Some of the young soil scientists I have had on my crews are now having families of their own, and I get a few lovely cards with wonderful photos of their babies and families.  I really treasure them.

that is Mo's favorite hat, knitted from baby soft angora, light as a feather and warm  The rest of my friends are just as wonderful as Mo’s friends, but they are all on the internet, hooked up to facebook, and GPlus, and Christmas cards seem to have gone the way of the handwritten letter.  I gave up this year and only sent cards to the folks who sent them to me.  Is that petty or what?!  I had an excuse.  I was dizzy. I didn’t even send out the Christmas letter.  I resort to the new standby…”want to know what I have been doing?  Go read my blog.”

the peach juice from the Sunset peaches is kind of rosy looking.  Yum.It is Christmas Eve.  Tomorrow Melody and her family will be here to spend the day eating, laughing, and sledding in all the wonderful snow.  Last year we went for a walk in the woods without a speck of snow to play in, so we are all looking forward to it.  I’ll have ham, a great one from the local “real” meat store, and I made a luscious peach pie from the Sunset peaches I froze late last summer. 

  Mo has been building a big fire in the cabin to try to get the snow to slide off the roof.  Tonight we decided to “go to the cabin” for our Christmas Eve traditional clam chowder supper.  Instead of a long drive to the mountains, we just had to walk down the steps and across the driveway.  I carried our little back porch fiber optic Christmas tree and we opened a great bottle of dry Riesling to accompany our meal.  The cabin was so warm we had to leave the door open.  Turned on the radio for some Christmas music and reminisced about the past year.  It has been a good one with lots of travels and friends, and projects started and finished.  Another year gone by.  I am truly truly blessed.

Mo is still plowing, although it is getting harder for find a place to put it all