Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sometimes going to the coast isn't about the ocean

Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon. 52 degrees F and clear

Of course, it is always there, in the background, low rumble below the cliffs. On a chilly, sunny, breezy day, however, it might be about the coastal forest. It is our lazy, do nothing but enjoy day, and after a slow morning, we decided to walk some of the trails around the park.

The light was beautiful, that brilliant contrasts stuff that makes all photographers crazy. Backlit moss that looks very nearly fluorescent against the dark, wet spruce bark. Shamrocks every shade of green on the forest floor. I left the Nikon behind this time, telling Mo, "Just how many photos can I take at Harris Beach, anyway?". "What in the world can I possibly write about or blog about that I haven't already done a dozen times?"
Yet here I am, with only the iPad, trying one more time to capture that backlit brilliance. Sometimes in that place between sleep and dreaming I let my mind wander to moments of light in my life, simple moments that have this brilliance. It is better than counting sheep.

We will go down to the beach this afternoon, but for the moment Mo is outside reading, and I am here writing. Supper will be easy and we will eat by the fire. Today we won't wait until chilly dark for the camp fire, we will start it early.
I filled out my morning talking with friends and daughters on the phone, leisurely phone calls that were heart warming. Or maybe that was yesterday. I am on ocean time, even if it isn't about the ocean.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Of course you recognize where we are

Brookings, Oregon. High today 50F Sunny and breezy. Low tonight 28F

Once again in our favorite front row with hookups, a great Verizon signal and cable tv for a buck extra. The difference is that space A10 at Harris Beach State Park has been cleared and we can see 180 degrees of ocean from our bedroom window. We have been here so many times and posted so many photos that it might look familiar if you have read my blog in the past.

After three productive days raking, burning, cleaning and projecting at the Grants Pass cottage, we headed for the beach. The short two hour drive on Highway 199 was beautiful as always. Nothing to do here but relax, walk when we are motivated and watch the sea. We didn't even tow the baby car this time. It's a true quickie vacation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Free House With Purchase

cottage in the morning sunlight And you believe that?  Nothing is really free, of course, even if it seems it might be.  We only paid what the acre would have been worth even without the house on it in order to build the MoHo shed, so technically the cottage was free.  Until we decided that maybe putting a roof on it might be a good idea since it was leaking.  We really didn’t plan to stay in the house at all when we bought it, but somehow it just seems to work out that it is fun, kind of like camping with water and heat, and the funky little cottage has something about it that feels really good.  Maybe it is the light.  Maybe it is the fact that it was built in 1926, and even though small and funky, there are big strong beautiful fir beams in the ceiling that haven’t warped in nearly 90 years.
interior wall that was full of ants! But a free house definitely must have some “issues”, and of course we found them.  The kitchen wall had some mold in it where the roof had leaked.  We replaced the roof and decided it was time to take out the moldy kitchen wall.  Uhoh.  Mo took a sledge hammer to the wall (aka HGTV style) and what should come pouring out but ants!  yup, ants.  Bazillions of ants.  I think the entire ant population of Grants Pass was living in that wall.  Needless to say, a simple job of just starting on the wall turned into a must do project of getting it out of there.  In the process, we found that what was a kitchen wall had once been an exterior wall, complete with cedar shingles, even an old window, all covered up by several layers of varying wall types.  Needless to say, it was a mess. 
burn day in the morning sunshine on the cottage acre We had spent the previous two days at the cottage burning some huge debris piles left over from the previous shed and roofing projects.  Burn days in Grants Pass are rare, and involve calling at 6am to see if it is indeed a burn day.  We haven’t had much luck lately so on Friday morning when the phone call gave us a resounding yes, we jumped into the pickup and made it to the cottage in less than 2 hours from waking up.  We had two gorgeous burn days in a row before the inversion set in once again and no more burning was allowed. I raked and hauled leaves for two days straight while Mo managed the burn pile. There is a price to pay for those gorgeous huge oaks, and I never had a chance to get it all finished last fall. We don’t actually LIVE here, remember?! We were a bit worn out, and on Sunday morning Mo said, “Let’s just enjoy a nice easy day relaxing here before we head home”.  Great idea.  But that was before the ant wall was discovered.
wall is almost out between the kitchen and the bathroom Late on Sunday afternoon we celebrated with another great Abby’s pizza before we headed back over the mountain to our snowy home with the ice covered road up to the house.  There is something about being able to leave, to actually get out of the funky cottage and back to our beautiful beautiful well water and warm wood stove and roomy bathrooms and all the goodies of living in a “real” house that make it all fun instead of depressing. The woman who lived in the cottage before us raised many sons there in the 60’s.  We still can’t figure out where everyone slept, unless she sent the boys outside to the even funkier bunkhouse.  Who knows.  People did live differently then I guess. I know I did.
well pump house at the cottageThe cottage has a well, but the water has some salts in it, and it only gives about 2.5 gallons a minute.  We had a long hose from the well house to the fire and after running it for about 20 minutes, we suddenly had no more water.  Uhoh again.  Neither of us has a clue how to prime a well pump, so had to go to the internet to discover that we probably had a submersible pump that didn’t need priming anyway.  Just turn it off and wait two hours and see if it recovers. 
We went inside, and waited, then back out to start up the water and uhoh again, no water at all. As Mo was walking back to the pump house, she discovered what we had missed earlier…a kink in the hose…can you believe that?!?!  We never really ran the well dry at all.  It was such a relief that we were all excited again about having 2.5 gallons a minute after all.  We do bring drinking water from home, though, and there is no way we will put that salty water in our MoHo tanks.  Guess we can’t ever really ‘move’ over to the cottage even when we get too old to shovel snow and haul wood at home in Rocky Point.
Ah well, we are home again, and I am working this week, but next week we will go back to the cottage.  Only this time it will be what it was supposed to be, just a little stopover place for us to relax a bit before we load up the MoHo and head for the beach.  Brookings here we come!  Rain or shine.  Rumor has it there might be at least a couple of days of sunshine at the ocean and we are going to make sure we find it.morning sunlight in the cottage kitchen

Thursday, March 7, 2013

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.

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