Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

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

Thursday, November 30, 2023

11-30-2023 November Beauty

Yes, I am writing about November on the 30th of December, but you won't know it because I can set the posting date back in the past.  In the blog book, which is the main reason I have to keep up the blog, November will be in the proper order.  This will be a bit shorter post than the one I wrote yesterday about December and Christmas. 

It is quiet here this morning and Mo and I spent a few hours early in the day running MoHo errands.  We are planning to travel in early January and before our Fred Meyer fuel discounts expire tomorrow, it was important to get the MoHo fueled before we leave for California where fuel prices will be exorbitant.  Thirty cents per gallon isn't small change, and with the new expiration of fuel points in the works we didn't want to lose our credits.  Along the route to Freddies, we pass the local station that sells propane and pull in.  It isn't the cheapest propane in town but it IS the most convenient, with an easy in, attendants that know how to run the propane delivery system, and an easy out back into traffic.  It is the little things that count.  

A nice little addition to my life in November was my new membership to a local fitness center.  Club Northwest has lots of cool stuff  I will never use but the best thing they have that I WILL use is the saltwater swimming pool.  At 85 F it is fabulous.  The facility is clean and beautiful, and when I swim a couple of days a week early in the morning the pool is nearly empty.  I love my Garmin watch that has a "pool swim" function which keeps track of my laps, my strokes, my time, and all the other fitness stats of interest.  It is wonderful and is the best exercise I can do for my legs and back. A funny little thing about my membership is that to shave 20 bucks a month off my fee I am required to send a photo each month of this sign posted in my yard.  Worth it for sure.

It is raining again today, with the heaviest downpour behind us but more to come.  It seems that the atmospheric rivers that spin toward the northwest and California are stacked up and keep dumping their wetness in our world.  December has been very wet, and as I look back at photos from November preparing to write about that month I can see that most of those photos include gray skies as well.  

Funny thing, there is a thin line of moss growing on my pickup in the space between the roof panels. I might need to use some kind of pick to get it out of there, but I don't suppose it is causing any harm. I drive the truck to the dump and back and sometimes to the store.  She is a perfect truck at 21 years old, and I bought her new.  No rush to replace the little Dakota, she has served us well. I guess you know you live in the Pacific Northwest when moss grows on your truck.

She served us especially well in November when the truck was often used to haul the leaves to the local area compost facility.  Someone asked if I could then get free compost.  Nope. No matter how many loads of leaves I deliver for 8 bucks a load I will still have to pay 30 bucks for a pickup full of compost.  Still worth every penny.  When we first moved to Grants Pass we thought we could wait for burn days to burn the leaves.  

It didn't work out well.  Either the burn days came too rarely, or the leaves were too wet to burn well and the pile would smoke into the night, irritating both us and our neighbors. 

Mo and I used to share the fall raking job but this past year Mo is the one who does most of the raking.  I can still manage the blower, getting everything into piles that she can then load into the trailer for going to the dump.  Some years the leaves are nice and dry, but this year we had many more wet days than dry ones.  It didn't help that I sprained my back attempting to transplant some roses and was down for a couple of weeks with all sorts of meds, unable to even turn over in bed for a time.  It wasn't fun, but now thanks to Celebrex for the arthritis in my back and muscle relaxers, I am almost functional, at least most of the time.  

In the fall, even without doing the raking, I can still get in 9 or 10 thousand steps just walking around the property.  Weeding trimming and clearing flower beds keeps me busy.  The fall colors this year were truly spectacular.

Mo and I didn't do a lot during November, and for the first time in many years, we skipped a month going out in the MoHo.  With the wet weather, it just wasn't high on the agenda. 

Instead, we spent Sundays with daughter Deborah, making Sunday omelets and having a little shot of brandy together.  On the 11th, we took advantage of Mo's military service to get a free meal for her at our local Applebee's.  

This time Deborah joined us, driving to Grants Pass in her brand-new Subaru.  Deb decided that it was time for a new car and she once had a Subaru that she loved.  I think she is going to love this one.  I know I love it!  Her previous car was an adorable little Mini-Cooper but I had a heck of a time dropping into the very low passenger seat. 

Going to Applebee's is another tradition that Mo and I have upheld for at least ten years now.  Funny thing, we rarely go to Applebee's except for this one day each year.

Thanksgiving was a treat of a different sort.  When Mo and I visited Deb at her new home in Trail, we exclaimed at how adorable it was, and yes, how very small.  With rents being completely ridiculous in our area, Deb found a little place that was something she could afford now that she had chosen to live alone.  Housing in Southern Oregon is nearly impossible to find.  When we helped Deborah as she was looking, we found horrid apartments in horrid neighborhoods, with dirty carpets and tattered plastic window shades for 1500 a month.  It is simply crazy.  So Deb was delighted to find this lovely, creative, artistic tiny place on top of an old barn in a rural area that was affordable.

Back to the story of Thanksgiving.  When we walked into her small space, I made a joke, "Oh gee, maybe we can have Thanksgiving here this year!" We laughed a bit, and then the laughter turned to delight when we realized that yes, we COULD have TG at Deb's home.  There would only be six of us and Deb was tickled at the idea.  Deb is a lover of all things miniature, and we threw out the idea of creating miniature food that would be easy to eat without a big table where we could sit.

We spent a bit of time planning our tiny food, and Melody and Robert chose to join us in the tiny community of Trail on Thanksgiving day, a three-hour trip for them.  

The day was a complete success with some of our tiny food choices a bit bigger than planned, but everything was easy to eat and small enough the still qualify as tiny food.

Deborah's son Matthew

Turkey sliders with cranberry dressing and a hot honey mustard drizzle

Tiny baked red potatoes with toppings

Deb made some miniature sweet potato treats and created a do-it-yourself Waldorf salad in a cup.  I made turkey sliders that weren't that small and were very messy but very good.  Melody and Robert brought his famous hard-boiled eggs, and other goodies for our meal.  Melody made some delicious apple hand pies instead of her traditional regular apple pies.

It was a sweet afternoon sharing Deborah's space, enjoying the beautiful late fall sunlight pouring in through her windows, and appreciating every family moment that we had to share.

Melody and Robert left Deb's place and followed us home to spend the night here in Grants Pass.  The next morning Deborah showed up so that she could check in on a neighbor she worries about and bring her some food.  We all spent some quality time trying to untangle yarn.

The month of November closed with some truly gorgeous sunny days for me to begin preparing for Christmas. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

11-05-2023 Another October to Celebrate

 November morning at Sunset House

October has come and gone and I am reminded that it is among the very best of times that Grants Pass has to offer.  Mo and I walked outside Saturday morning, thrilled at the gentle fog rolling up the valley below us, with only the tips of the trees on our beautiful Cathedral hills showing above the swirling mists.  The air was still a bit warm, with a low night temperature in the high 50s, maybe a bit unusual for early November.  An atmospheric river is headed our way rolling in the magical circles of radar images that portend flooding and inches of rain, bringing with it the freshness of shifting weather, breezes, and the warm front preceding the coming rain. 

The rains came a bit earlier this year, and with them what around here in the drier parts of Oregon the locals refer to as "green-up".  We love this time when at last the drip system is decommissioned and the reverse osmosis unit that makes our water palatable for the plants I love to grow settles into its easy wet season rhythm.  It is so refreshing to stop worrying about water, about how much salt we are using to run the system, and how much wastewater is running down the ditch.  It takes 2 gallons of raw water to produce a gallon of fresh water.  At 2.5 gpm for our well, and a 1700-gallon cistern to fill with "good" water, that is a lot of wastewater.  We have adjusted to the need to do this, it was a choice we made when we picked this very nearly perfect little spot of land with the view toward the coast range in the distance and Cathedral Hills a bit closer.  

In the early morning darkness at 7 a.m., the changing leaves of our oaks were brilliant, echoing the brilliance of the warm lights inside the house.  The coffee smelled good, Mattie did her morning thing pottying at the most distant spot she could find on the property and then patrolling the boundaries, smelling the rodents, the deer, and whatever else may have wandered through the yard during the previous night.

October was a month spent at home, enjoying some of the best that the Rogue Valley has to offer, and sharing special times and places with friends.  

My best friend of 60 years Maryruth
Maryruth's husband Gerald
Mo and Sue enjoying time with our friends

A dinner at a delightful gourmet restaurant out of town on the Rogue River, cooked by an excellent chef.  Except this time his meal was a bit strange and much less than perfect.  It must have been a strange glitch, since meals before and since have been reported by friends to have been fabulous.  Morrison's Lodge is historic, and a truly fun place to go for a great meal most of the time.  We shared it with Maryruth and Gerald.  Maryruth and I have now shared 60 years of life and friendship together.  Our "anniversary" is in October.

On the very first day of the month, Daughter Deborah invited us to share wine flights and wonderful hors d'oeuvres at the beautiful Hummingbird Estate winery where she is a member.  All of us love to drink wine and listen to music on the deck with the beautiful view. 

A few days later Mo and I visited downtown Grants Pass on a sunny Sunday afternoon to enjoy Art on the Rogue, an annual celebration of the arts, with a few streets closed off for chalk painting, food trucks, and music throughout the downtown part of the city.  

A permanent mural honoring the local tribes was added to the sidewalk in addition to the ephemeral chalk art.

The theme this year was blockbuster movies, some of which I didn't recognize, but it made for some great chalk paintings.

In early October the city is dotted with the brilliance of sweet gum trees, turning long before the oaks and maples begin their color change.  The warm day and brilliant sunshine brought out big crowds for the event.  A favorite local artist, Cate Battles, and her husband worked diligently on some additional permanent crosswalk murals which weren't yet finished when we visited.  I am so looking forward to seeing their creations brighten the historic G Street in our town.

During the first half of the month, Mo and I embarked on a major project.  We moved all the big roses that were languishing under the huge canopies and thick roots of our beautiful old oaks.  I love the shade those trees give to us, but the roses not so much.  This red rose is incredibly happy in the new spot, where there is a bit more sunshine and fewer roots to compete with. 

October is the month when all the summer flowers decide they can once again awaken to the cooler temperatures.  It is almost like a second spring each year when everything brightens and smiles at the cool nights and rain.

Even though it freezes here in the winter, I have never had to lift this dahlia which grows more than 7 feet tall every year.  During the heat of summer, she is faded and pale but when fall comes her colors shine and glow until the first hard frost.  This year that frost came just a few days ago, on Halloween.

Some garden stories here at Sunset House are simply strange.  See those two big pointy things that look like palm trees?  They are the "annual" dracaena that are added to flower pots at spring sales.  They refuse to be annual, lasting through winter after winter in their pots, getting ridiculously big.  I finally planted them in the ground and they just keep growing.  

A high point for October was the Eclipse on October 14th.  With our area located in the central line of visibility for the eclipse, there were festivals and activities from Coos Bay on the coast all the way to the Klamath Basin.  A local promoter took advantage of the event to organize a large gathering in the Wood River Valley not far from Crater Lake.  Eclipse Fest was well promoted, with food trucks and RV sites, workshops, and a concert on Saturday night.  

The excitement of the event drew in people from all over, including some very well-known RV personalities.  Chris and Cherie, famous for their Technomedia web presence traveled in their van all the way from Florida to attend.  Some of us who remember the blog world before the influencers took over remember that Chris and Cherie are great friends of Paul and Nina, of Wheelin It.  Nina has been in Southern France for the last 8 years but decided that the constellation of the eclipse, her good friends, and the chance to visit her beloved lighthouses on the Oregon Coast was enough.  She planned a road trip through our part of the world and lucky us, Sunset House was along her route.  Mo and I invited Nina to stay with us and were graced with her presence for an overnight stop.

We ate good food and talked a LOT about all sorts of things, including how to remember the magic of living and the magic of the world when things seem a bit dull and gray and difficult.  I will carry some of the morning conversations I had with Nina for a long time.  After she arrived, before our salmon dinner that I prepared, we took a drive through the beautiful Applegate Valley, stopping in to taste some wine and enjoy the beauty of the Applegate.  As many times as Nina has traveled through Oregon, she hadn't visited this particular area, so it was a delight to share it with her.  I was sad to see her go since Nina is an absolutely charming and entertaining guest with so much to share.  

Nina is a true dog lover, and Mattie adores her

Nina probably had more followers than any blogger I know and when I heard her statistics I was amazed.  Yet even Nina's great writing and photography cannot compete with the "influencers" the "YouTubers" and the "Instagram" people who have changed the online presence of RV writers and bloggers.  It was an eye-opening conversation.  Basically, blogging is pretty much dead.  Made me laugh, and I realized again that I will not quit, I love my blog books and my journals that are the result of this blog.  If blogging dies, so be it.  I don't really care, and as I sit here this morning writing on my blog about the death of blogging it makes me laugh even more.

After the excitement of Nina's visit and Eclipse Fest, Mo and I settled into our fall routine of yard maintenance in between rains.  Moving the roses did a number on my back and I managed to get a doctor's visit in time to make life a bit more bearable.  Back soreness isn't fun, but back spasms are crazy and I couldn't do much of anything except lie around in my chair.  Sleeping was impossible.  My doctor was amazing, and I am so lucky to have a good GP right here in town just five minutes away.  I even got an appointment within a week which is rare.  A stint of steroids, muscle relaxers, and a new thing for me called Celebrex did the trick and after a week of that regimen, I am again walking around and actually doing something.  

The end of the month was brightened by a beautiful and very different family celebration.  My grandson Axel married his devoted spouse Pycho on October 28.  The wedding was small, and the venue was perfect for a kid who basically grew up with my daughter Melody as a "theater kid".  Melody was very active in the Albany Civic Theater when she lived there in the 2000s and knew the right people to rent the theater for the wedding venue.

The kids did all the cooking, spending three days at Melody's house making Axel's amazing curry with separate meats for those who wanted them, tons of amazing appetizers, and a truly epic wedding cake that honored the couple's commitment to natural farming and good food.  They live in a small apartment that is filled to the brim with healthy growing things.  

The place was decorated with monstera leaves and elegant green cloths and napkins that matched the kid's hair perfectly.  Mo and I drove north early in the morning with Daughter Deborah to attend, and after four hours of fun and food turned around and drove the four hours back home again.  My back wouldn't let me spend the night in Melody's upstairs guest room.  It was a beautifully perfect day and I so treasured being part of it.  Axel and Py are so good for each other, and after three years together it is wonderful seeing my grandson bloom with the gift of someone who loves him exactly as he is, someone who is always in his corner. Everyone should be so lucky.

The ceremony on the ACT stage was a traditional hand-fasting ceremony with the silken rope intertwining their wrists for each of the directions with each vow they made.  Their vows were beautiful, with strong intentions spoken by each one for creating a good, solid marriage.  Of course, I cried.

The month ended with a cold Halloween, and any plans I might have had to drive over the Cascades to once again experience the evening on Pacific Terrace in my old Klamath Falls neighborhood fell by the wayside with the cold.  Instead, I drove just a mile to Maryruth's house where I could enjoy her busy neighborhood which is a popular haven for trick-or-treaters, and get my fix.

It was an evening filled with fun and laughter for all of us, with my friend Kristin and her family showing up at the door to make it nearly perfect.  

Maryruth made some incredible shrimp ceviche and artichoke baguette toasts to keep us fed, with a bit of hot buttered rum to top it off.  Good thing I only had a mile to get back home when it was over.  

Would it be a real blog of our life if I didn't post the puzzles that we did this month? In between all the other stuff, we still managed to keep a puzzle going on the table most of the time.