Mo and I had a lovely December. The weather was chilly, sometimes foggy and drab, but on other days the sun would appear. After our Thanksgiving weekend company departed, I settled in to quiet days unpacking Christmas decorations. I began during the last week of November with the outside lights, and ended with setting up the Christmas Village by mid-month.
I took my time, doing a little bit each day, making it fun instead of a chore. Grandson Matthew helped a LOT by climbing on the roof once again this year to put up the icicle lights crowning the eaves. The roof line of our home is a treat to look at.
I remember how Mo rolled her eyes when we first decided on the plan. “That roof will cost a fortune! Look at all those angles”. Still, I love all the angles of the roof, especially at Christmas when all the lights really set it off nicely.
In between decorating sessions, I worked on catching up on the blog, finalizing all the posts about my trip to Italy back in October. We raked leaves, taking trailer loads to the organic recycling facility across town. This time of year, the leaves are much too wet to burn, even when a burn day happens to occasionally appear. The leaves kept falling through mid month, and even now there are bits and pieces that sift down from our ancient oaks.
I often bake a lot during the holidays, but this time I managed to stay happy with only one batch of cookies and one batch of fudge to share. Lo carb eating went by the wayside during much of the month, but at least it wasn’t too bad.
We both waffled about the annual Christmas letter, with Mo writing hers first. By the time she finished, I decided that I needed to do mine again as well. I had made Christmas cards last spring with my friend Maryruth, but needed to make many more. I spent a couple of days at the dining table with the die cutter, paper cutter, stamps, ink, ribbon, tape, glue, and all the other stuff needed to make pretty cards. I do have fun with the cardmaking, and it is an easy creative fix that yields results much more quickly than quilt making.
I did do some quilt making, working on the complex Blooming Nine Patch quilt that I am making for Daughter Melody. A few days here, a few days there, and finally I am at last sewing the long strips together. There are over 900 blocks in this quilt.
I had forgotten about how to actually make that all work until my quilting friend Mata exclaimed in an email, “You will have fun labeling all those blocks.” Oh. Yeah. That! Once I added 900 tiny labels to 900 little blocks I suddenly felt much better about trying to get them sewn together in the proper order. Whew. Thank goodness for quilting friends who know what they are doing.
In the midst of all this, Mo took care of the vehicles, making sure all are ready for our big upcoming trip. We made arrangements with our local RV repair shop to fix the MoHo leveler, which he said was bent! geez. How come no one else told us that?!! His comment when he looked at our leveler repair bills over the last few months was, “It looks like they just threw parts at the problem”.
We also ordered the new awning arm, bought a new digital TV for the MoHo, and made arrangements for everything to be fixed and installed on January 9th. Let’s hope it gets done since we are leaving on the 22nd!
We are thrilled to have daughter Deborah caretaking the house for us while we travel, taking care of the mail, making sure the well is working properly, and spraying Liquid Fence to protect against the ever hungry deer. It is a nice sense of security to know she will be here while we are away.
A few days before Christmas we decided that a trip to Brookings was needed. Mo and I both were hungry for an ocean fix. The weather tried to keep us away, with big storm predictions for the days that we planned to travel. The coast was pounded with gale warnings, weather alerts for flash floods, high winds, and heavy rains in the valleys and snows in the mountains made us think twice about our plans.
On Tuesday, a day after we had planned to go to the beach, the sun appeared, the breeze opened up the skies, and we looked at each other and said, “Why not?!” No reason to let some bad weather predictions get in the way of the beach. Mattie needed some running time in the sand and we missed the sound of the ocean.
The trip over was easy enough. The rain was steady, but the winds weren’t too bad, and when we arrived at Harris Beach, the skies had cleared a bit and we could almost see the ocean.
We found a spot in the front row once again. This time, however, there were signs at every spot stating that they were available for one night only. It seems now that Oregon State Parks are implementing this system to get people to move away from first come first served, to the reservation system. We could stay one night, and attempt to reserve our spot for the next night online, paying the $8.00 reservation fee. The rate has increased to $32. per night as well, quite an increase from years past.
All the sites now have sewer, but cable is no longer available in the park. We decided against paying the reservation fee, and the next morning spoke with a ranger who said our site was not reserved for that night and we could stay in the site. I guess if you want to stay more than one night, and not have to move around, it might be best to make a reservation ahead of time. Talking with Nickie just the other day, she mentioned that she and Jimmy don’t like to make reservations. Reading other blogs as well, it seems that this is a bit of RVing freedom that is going by the wayside. It is getting harder and harder to be spontaneous when traveling.
We celebrated being at the beach with a quick trip down to Harbor and the Sporthaven Marina where we had great fish and chips once again. This time we ate inside, since the winds and rains were still making the outdoors just a bit too rough to enjoy. We had a great night listening to the ocean, and the rains stopped on the next morning so we could walk the beaches with Mattie.
There was a King Tide happening that made the beaches really narrow, and even low tide wasn’t all that low. There were warnings about “sneaker waves” and “don’t turn your back on the water”. There was only one moment when a wave came a bit too high and soaked Mo to her hips. Mattie, being a lot faster than we are, had no trouble escaping the wave, but it still scared me.
That evening we dressed warmly to go to the light festival at Azalea Park. We have been to this light show a few times now, and each time we go we think it has to be better than the last time. I am sure they have added lights each year, and this was no exception.
There were families with kids and old folks in wheel chairs and walkers, and babies in strollers, and even dogs. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time, including us. I love this light show better than any other I have ever seen.
After the show, we stopped in at the classic steak house O’Holleran’s for Irish Coffee to top off the evening. We did this last year as well, and on this night the same lovely lady was tending bar, and once again everyone was incredibly entertaining. I think we have a new tradition.
Just for fun, here is the link to our Brookings trip last year.
The funny part about all of this is that we had forgotten that we did exactly the same thing last year. Not only the same visit, but on the same days of the month, with the same kind of weather! I looked at the blog and cracked up! I could have simply posted last years blog and it would have been almost perfect!
I am not quite sure what this means. We saw the same Christmas light show, only it was even better. We walked the same beaches, we had similar weather, we spent time reading and napping during the hardest rains, just as we did last year, and we drove home in the hard rain, again exactly like last year. The good part about this, is that it felt just as new and fresh and rejuvenating as it always has. We are not yet bored with our favorite drive to our favorite beach in our favorite park. Still, somehow reading last year’s blog made me feel a bit strange. Is this what old people do? Settle into routines that are comfortable and easy?
We returned home, and with few days before Christmas I had time to drive north to Eugene to spend some time with daughter Melody and her Robert. My grandson Xavier was away for the holiday, visiting his honey in Southern California during his school break, so the three of us had the house to ourselves. I even got some great kitty fixes with their two big and very spoiled cats. We ate fabulous food, both in and out, went to an interesting movie, and walked the rainy streets of Eugene enjoying the Christmas lights.
Christmas back home at Sunset House was simple and lovely. We did Thanksgiving this year, so the family agreement is that we only do one of these major holidays each year. So this time, no big dinner, but we did invite daughter Deborah and grandson Matthew over for Christmas Eve clam chowder. Matthew also brought his friend Jackie who added some charming humor into our gathering.
After supper we piled into the car and followed the newspaper map to find the best Christmas lights in town. It was a fun Christmas Eve activity and brought back lots of memories when Lance and I would take the kids to look at Christmas lights in Spokane when they were young.
We found some great lights right here in Grants Pass, and when I suggested we go find more, everyone said, “Nope, Time for Pie!”. I had followed my friend Jeanne’s recipe for walnut pie and made one from our very own walnuts, freshly hulled. It was truly yummy. A bit like pecan, but better. Deb spent the night and made our traditional Christmas morning eggs benedict casserole for everyone. It’s a good feeling for me when any of my offspring are snoozing in the guest room.
I do love Christmas, with possibly my most favorite part of the season being the lights. I love to sit quietly in the living room and watch the sparkle, or to walk around outside in the dark and see the glow. I used to have serious bouts with SAD but with retirement, I find that the short days are a bit easier to tolerate since I am not going to work and coming home in the dark. Still, the lights help to brighten the winter darkness. I said today that maybe I could at least leave them up until Epiphany, January 6th, and Laurie Brown said, “Leave them up until DST”. Not a bad idea, but since we are leaving, I’ll take them all down sometime in January. I can bear to be in the darkness once again because I know we are heading for desert sunshine.
Still, on a sunny Christmas afternoon, winter skies in Grants Pass can be gorgeous.