02-02-2022 January Journal

Most of January has been introspective. The fog lingered from the beginning of the month to almost the very end with only a day or two of respite. I have spent many moments lost in attempting to figure out the meaning of the complex dreams that have haunted my early morning hours of sleep. Dreams that are filled with people and work, landscapes familiar and unknown, roads that go nowhere, and lost cars, keys, and even homes.

I wake to darkness, checking out the window to see if the fog has lifted, and make small attempts to find meaning in the purpose of each season of my life. In one dream I was training young soil scientists to do what I used to do in ways that I did it, and they showed me new ways that they are doing the work I used to do. On that particular morning, I also dreamed that I was running, strong and lithe, running for miles, enthralled by the strength and stamina of my legs and breath. Those kinds of dreams can bring a shock when the waking me attempts to hobble to the bathroom in the darkness.

The fog is often freezing, and I have to remember to bring in the hummingbird feeders in at night or to thaw them out in the morning. The one or two little birds that depend on this feeder throughout the winter need me to pay attention. We traveled nowhere in January, except for one short day trip to Klamath Falls.  I have no exciting stories or photos of trips to beaches or mountains or deserts to share with you this month.  Just a few random thoughts here and there.

Mo spent many days working on a damaged door of my sewing table, coming back inside at dinner time with frozen hands and red cheeks. She is much better at weathering the cold than I am. It takes every bit of internal discipline that I can muster to get me to go outside when it is cold.

On one day, the sunshine came out by noon and the temperature got up to 50 degrees by 4PM. I managed to get outside long enough to rake and clear a couple of flower beds. Pretty sure that is the extent of my accomplishments for the month, but maybe if I search around I can find a couple more. I am lucky.  I still enjoy bi-weekly coffee dates with my newest friend, Kristin, and Sunday visits from my daughter Deborah, often including a late Sunday breakfast to share.  I have phone conversations with Maryruth, and talks with friends here and there.  I do the shopping and cleaning and other household stuff that keeps me feeling at least a bit useful. I made a small table cover for a living room side table after drumming up enough energy to put out a very few decorations for the coming Valentine’s Day season.  A flag, a wreath, nothing like my crazy all-out décor for Christmas, or for fall.

Yesterday, the sun was once again shining and even in the cold temperatures, Mo stayed outside for hours raking the last of the leaves that had accumulated in our roadside drainage ditch and loading them into the trailer. Tomorrow we will go to the compost facility and hopefully, that will be the last load of debris that we haul to the dump from 2021.

My solution to the cold and fog of January is to start another puzzle, clean the living room end of the house on Friday, wash the sheets and clean the bedrooms on Monday. I cook dinners, and while we are eating, I am trying to think up what I will cook for the next day if we don’t have enough for leftovers.

Toward the end of the month, my book group met at the home of one of our members for a great discussion of the books we each gave and received at our December Christmas meeting. It was a bit of a mish-mash, with everyone talking at once sometimes, and too much to discuss. Made me glad that most of the time we have only one book on the agenda, and the reader’s book club questions are reasonably straightforward.

Laura on the left was our hostess for the evening.  Joan is our eldest member.  Kristin on the right.

Robyn, our youngest, brings the perspective of youth and art, trained in Portland

Sarah, our fearless leader of the group, willing to herd the cats (women) into coherent discussions

The next day, I told Mo I had had enough of the fog and that weather cams were showing brilliant sunshine in the Klamath Basin. All we had to do was go up, and we could be out of the fog. We left early, still in a frosty fog, but within a few miles toward the mountains with a bit of a rise in elevation, we found ourselves in brilliant sunshine. Even with the recent snows, the roads were clear, with icy spots in the shaded parts but nothing to worry about.

I wanted to see the birds. I knew there were geese and swans somewhere in the refuge south of town. We weren’t in a big hurry, though, and took the time to revisit our old homes.

Last photos we took of the Rocky Point house when we made the final move in 2016

The road that Mo used to plow leading to her past home in Rocky Point was shaded and still snowed in. We spun a bit in the Lexus but managed to get turned around and back down to Rocky Point Road without getting stuck. Neither of us missed that old drive and plowing and shoveling that snow.

Continuing east toward Klamath Falls, we drove into town and up to the Pacific Terrace area to see how my old house on Painter Street was doing. It makes my heart so happy to see that little house so very much loved and cared for by the sweet couple who bought it. We stopped in the alley to check it out and they were in the yard. Kind and friendly as always, they asked if I wanted to come in. I had already seen what a great job they did with the little house a few years ago so didn’t need to bother them. Still, Mo and I were tickled to see how much they had done to the outside as well, with new fences and landscaping, new deck, a new roof, new air conditioning, a new gas fireplace. So many things that I didn’t have the resources to do when I was living there. It was a sweet visit.


New owners of the Painter Street House

Same spot back in 2003 right after I bought this sweet little house. Sold in 2015.

We then drove north of town to check out Mo’s apartments. She bought them in the mid-’90s, and we lived in them for two years while we were transitioning from the Rocky Point house to our Sunset House here in Grants Pass. Old blog readers (not many of you left anymore) will remember the months we spent with 4 properties, driving between all of them with our trailer filled with the tractor and lawnmower and yard tools trying to keep everything maintained.

The apartments looked very full, with lots of vehicles parked about. We kept cars contained when we lived there but now this area is lined with vehicles. The guy who bought the apartments is part of an extended family and I am sure everyone is happy to have the five apartments to park their relatives and space to park their cars. In addition, the old abandoned warehouse across the street is abandoned no more, with tons of big equipment and vehicles and what appeared to be a lot of noisy activity going on. Nope, we don’t miss the apartments either, although they served a wonderful purpose for us over the years.

On the way to the refuge, we stopped at the cemetery to place some flowers on the spot where Mo’s parents are buried. Later, I stopped in at Tater Patch Quilt store in Merlin, one of the greatest quilt stores in the state of Oregon. I do miss being close to Tater Patch, but it no doubt saves me a lot of money to not have that temptation closer then a full 4 hours drive.

By the time we got to the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge, it was afternoon. We drove the entire west side of the sump areas, usually completely flooded and filled with birds. Not a bird in sight.

Same location in 2015 when Judy the Bird Lady of Blogland was a volunteer at the refuge

I was heartbroken when I saw the drained wetlands of the Tulelake Wildlife Refuge until I did some searching and found that the cracked, dry bottom of the wetlands aren’t completely caused by drought. Every few years, to keep the wetlands healthy, they need to be drained so that emergent vegetation has a chance to grow once again. The drought is ever-present and even with the rains from last fall, is still extreme. There isn’t enough water for all the birds, fish, rivers, and people who need it. Too much allocated and not enough to go around, all beginning with the days back in 1906 when the wetlands were drained and the Klamath Project was created to make productive farmlands out of a magnificent wet wilderness, once called the Everglades of the West.

Back then, it never occurred to anyone that eventually there might not be enough water to go around, that the climate might change, that the rains might not continue as they did back then during a historical wet period. It is an ongoing story, an ongoing fight. I was thrilled to see a recent article reach the national news in the Washington Post. It was probably the best article I have read in all the years I have studied and worked in the Klamath Basin, presenting the problems from all perspectives: the fish, the lake, the rivers, the salmon, the Tribes, the ranchers, the farmers, the people just trying to live on land where the wells are going dry. The story as always made me cry inside. Fabulously written and beautifully photographed, it is worth searching out if you are inclined to do so. Here is the link: Klamath Basin Crisis

I thought that perhaps there was still water on the east side of the refuge, and later photos from birders in the area confirmed my suspicion. Still, we were getting a bit tired, and neither of us felt like driving the dusty miles across the refuge to see if maybe there were some birds on the other side by the petroglyphs south of the town of Tulelake.

Instead, we drove back to Klamath Falls and enjoyed a truly fabulous late Mexican lunch at our old hangout, Sergio’s. Despite all the wonderful restaurants in Grants Pass, we have yet to find a Mexican place with the perfect ambiance and good food that we have had at this little spot in Klamath Falls.

We knew we could find birds in Veteran’s Park, and sure enough, when we drove there we found pigeons, ducks, some geese, and lots of seagulls hanging around the park docks. On the way back home, we found more birds on Upper Klamath Lake, but they were far from the shoreline, beyond the ice covering the shadowy edges of the lake. At least we saw some Canada geese and of course, hundreds of coots.

We headed back over the Cascades, over the High Lakes Pass, and as we dropped down into the Rogue Valley east of Medford we watch the sunset over the mountains to the west. We were home by dark, and after a long day in sunlight, I felt refreshed and ready to tackle a few more winter days in Grants Pass.

Later in the month, my eldest daughter celebrated a birthday and her only desire was to have a long lunch at her favorite spot, The Twisted Cork. This small, somewhat intimate restaurant in downtown Grants Pass is upscale in a good way, with beautiful wine flights, and a fabulous appetizer menu. Deb’s favorite thing is a wine flight, a bunch of appetizers, a great salad, and of course the dessert that Twisted Cork has made famous, their hot caramel toffee pudding. They were kind enough to add a candle for Deborah’s day. The sun came out for Deborah on the 26th as well, and we haven’t had a single foggy morning since then.

Mo just rolls her eyes at me when I complain about the fog, because she remembers me complaining about the heat as well. Yeah, fog is icky and so is 110 degrees! I know I shouldn’t be a slave to the weather, but it is definitely one of my less desirable qualities.

Daughter Deborah helped us finish another puzzle on one of her Sunday visits

At this moment, as I begin to attempt the process of writing about January, the sunshine is pouring through the windows of the office. It isn’t warm outside, but the skies are clear and blue, and Mo is outside doing whatever outside things have caught her fancy at the moment. It will be time to make supper soon, and the afternoon shadows on the lawn are waning.

I managed to get through January here without losing my way completely. Still, it seemed to be a long month, one that stretched on and on without much to mark the passing of the days. After the last couple of years of craziness, I have to say that a month that seemed to be in slow motion was much better than months that fly by so fast you can’t catch them.