November: It is Over

Current Location: Klamath Falls Oregon, at 40 degrees F with snow coming tomorrow.

Berries on the madrones in our yard at Grants Pass

For me, May and October are the very best months.  I can never decide which I love best.  Springtime promise or the brilliance of gorgeous October days.  It is the same with February and November, on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Which do I like least.  Both months require an artist’s eye to see something other than gloom.  My friend Jeanne, back in Vermont, calls it “Stick Season”, an apt description. 

Dirt piles from the new septic evaluation, all now approved and ready to install

For now, though, it is November.  After the wettest October on record for Grants Pass, we are heading into winter.  The last of the leaves on the east side of the Cascades have fallen, while the color is just past peak on the west side.  We cross back and forth between these two worlds in about 2 hours, coming and going between our homes. 

When I say it is over, of course, part of what I refer to is “the election”.  Yeah that one.  Only time will tell if the dire predictions of one half of the country come to pass or the rosy promises of a bright future surprise the other half of the country. And that is all I am going to say about that here. 

The other thing that is over, the very good thing, is that the Rocky Point house sale is final.  Closing went without a hitch, on the day it was supposed to, papers all signed, and money in the bank.  Neat as a pin.

Mo planted this maple at Rocky Point in 2002

Mo and I went there one last time, to pick up the random garbage cans, and load up the cleaning supplies and vacuum cleaner.  I walked around the place, looking at the little trees we planted over the years that are now matured, remembering the sunny summer days we spent together working in the yard, bowling Bocci with the kids on the sloping lawn, cooking hot dogs on pitchforks at the edge of the forest over a campfire.

We planted this Japanese maple in 2010 when it was barely a whip

I didn’t feel the least bit sad, even though I took some time to give myself space to grieve a bit.  It wasn’t necessary.  Amazing memories, and yet no sadness or regret slipped into the joy that at last it was over.  Done.  Now the new owners can plow that snow and blow that roof and drive 40 minutes each way to the grocery store. 

I haven’t had the time to keep up on blogs lately, reading a few that I love, rarely commenting.  Until this past year, Mo and I traveled almost half the time, managing to get the rig out every single month for a few days or a week or a month, sometimes three.  This past year that has slipped, and I do miss our travels.  Mo said yesterday, “Well, we have a choice.  We can have a home or we can do all that other stuff that we enjoy.  Eventually we will do both again, but not right now.  Make your choice”. 

Mo planted this beech in 2004.  It took almost 4 years for it to get above the rock.

So I thought about it.  I spent a few moments thinking about how it would be to dump the idea of the house and simply keep living here at the apartments into old age, going to Grants Pass and the acre and the cottage, where the MoHo lives as a second home.  But the bottom line is that neither of us have any desire to be “full-timers”.  We want our home to return to when the road gets tiresome.  And we are old enough that an exit strategy would have to be in place, and that exit strategy would include a home somewhere.  Grants Pass is our exit strategy, our home for our last decade or so of life.  For the few moments I tried to imagine letting go of life to come on the cottage acre and building a home there, replacing it with world cruises or full time RV life, I only felt rootless. Not freedom.  Choices, it is always about choices.  It was fun to consider the options and fun to reaffirm that our choice is the best one for the life we want to live.

The pump house is finished, except for the final paint which will come after the house it built, and that sweet little building is filled with some serious high tech water management equipment.  We have the main well, which pumps raw water into our first 1700 gallon cistern installed last year.  A pump in that cistern sends water up to the first big pressure tank by way of a simple sediment filter, then that pressure tank sends water into the softening system.  From there, the softened water enters the reverse osmosis unit, with two big membranes that purify the product water to less than 3ppm of anything.  The R.O uses 4 gallons of water to produce 2.5 gallons of pure final product, which is then sent to the second 1700 gallon cistern.  From that cistern, another pump sends the water back to the second pressure tank which then sends that pure, sweet, fabulous water into the house. The waste water product exits the system into a gravity flow drain area which will subirrigate the fenceline shrubs which seem to be tolerant of the salt content.  Amazing system. 

Next year, when I start irrigating with this water, I will have to pay attention to the input and output of all parts of the system so I know just how long I can run whatever drip sprinklers we set up.  Some plants that we have don’t mind the salt, so I can use the raw water for them, but others that I took to Grants Pass had leaves turning brown and crispy, so those plants will get good water when all is said and done. 

I took a bath in that water, and oh my…what a treat.  No scum on the tub, silky baby soft hair, and no iron to stain the clothes.  I have said it before and will say it again.  There is nothing quite as wonderful as really good water, no matter the price.  If in the future, for any reason, we have trouble with the well and have to drill deeper, we already have the system in place to purify whatever water we get.  It is a big deal.

In late October, the “sand pears” were ready for canning.  Hard as little rocks, these pears don’t ever seem to ripen, and when they fall off the tree, they are still very hard.  I learned that they are called “canning pears” and once peeled and cooked they give of a heady perfume in the kitchen, and instead of getting all soft and mushy they stay slightly firm and are incredibly delicious. 

We spent a week or so each time at the Cottage, with Mo still working on her wood shop, and I started the big annual project of raking leaves.  I would rake a few hours each day and then retreat to the kitchen table to do some more quilting, and finally finally at last I finished my One Block Wonder kaleidoscope quilt.  This quilt was made from only one fabric, cut into a gazillion triangles sewed together into mirrored images creating the kaleidoscope effect.  It was more challenging that I expected, and about 3/4 of the way through I decided that I really didn’t like it.  I have learned that is a common response for me, however, and now that it is finished, I love it.  The fabric was one I bought years ago, and is one of my favorites.  I will put the top away and wait to quilt it until maybe the aforementioned month of February, when a burst of garden color will be much needed.

The grass just starting to green up after one rain

The grass after a couple of weeks of rain

One thing about living on the west side of Oregon that natives understand is lawn grass.  It is said that you can tell a true Oregonian by how brown their lawns are in the summer.  I spend a lot of time and energy making sure that my little patch of “real” lawn grass at the cottage is nice and green, especially appreciated when the temperatures are over 100 degrees and the rest of the acre is a fried crispy brown. 

The most amazing transformation happens when the rains start.  This year, instead of waiting until November, our rains started up in October, and literally, in a matter of days, the thin, crispy, brown stuff that you would swear was completely dead started greening up.  Our acre went from hard and crunchy to green and lush in less than a week.  A truly amazing thing to experience.  One of the minor joys of living on the west side.  It will stay green all winter, but Mo won’t have to mow until spring because the cool temperatures keep things in check.

Mo and I worked together, loading leaves into the little trailer and making trips to the composting area of the county landfill.  We learned after a couple of years in Grants Pass that this was a much better solution than trying to wait for the few burn days.  The piles were incredibly huge, made some awful smoke, and required days of standing around with a rake and pitchfork to make sure nothing got away from us.  The cost is more, but at least it benefits the environment more than all that smoke.


Finally, finally at last, tomorrow we are ready to hook up the Tracker and point the MoHo toward the west.  It may be November, it may be raining, but who cares, we are heading for the Coast.  We haven’t been to Harris Beach all year, and are looking forward to a few days doing nothing but hanging out, walking the beach, hiking the trails, and eating fish and chips.  It has been much much much too long!

10-08-2015 Home from Ireland and Back to Rocky Point

Current Temperature in Rocky Point Oregon 70 F and partly cloudy

We are back from our trip to Ireland.  Hearts and memories full of wonderful sights, beautiful sunny days in a country known for constant rain, and the green that comes with that rain.  I had no way to blog while we were traveling, but instead of trying to recreate the trip from memory with the help of photos, I actually managed to write “live”.  So you will be reading after the fact, but the words were sent via long emails at night to my daughters.  It was my plan for making sure I didn’t lose track of what happened each day, and more importantly, how I felt about what was happening and what I was seeing.Rocky Point yard While in Ireland, I did have access to the internet, due to the excellent WiFi available to me each night, but the iPad isn’t all that conducive to making comments, and we were having much too much fun to spend time reading blogs for sure.  However, I did check in now and then with some of my favorite folks. 

Rocky Point yard Reading Nickie’s story about her visit with us, I was struck by Judy’s comment about our choice to leave this “beautiful place”.  Yup, we are selling the “big house” and leaving this beautiful place, not immediately, but soon enough.  I laughed at this because Judy lives in a nice cozy RV full time without any yard word at all, so maybe she forgot what that is like. It has been wonderful having a place like this to live and to share with friends and family.  I’ll miss it, but I won’t miss the work.

Rocky Point yard When we got home yesterday, this is what greeted us at the “beautiful place”.  Work, and a lot of it.  The fall winds came and dropped a ton or so of pine needles on our yard.  Everywhere.  Ponderosa pine needles that stick into the cracks of everything and bury themselves into the grass and hold on for dear life in spite of hard raking, with branches from the trees and other kinds of debris mixed in with pine and fir cones.

Even with my constant spraying of deer repellent, the deer managed to eat our little flowering plum down to the ground while we were away. If you look closely, you can see the stems of the poor little shrub and what are left of the leaves at the bottom.  Rocky Point yard

Rocky Point yard It IS a beautiful yard, and it IS a ton of work.  Mo and I spend upwards of 40 hours a week between the two of us in the spring and summer keeping it beautiful.  It slows down a bit in the fall, but then again as the needles start to fall we are out there raking and raking and more raking, burning, and cleaning up all the flower beds.  It is nice work, satisfying work, but exhausting.  We would rather be traveling and actually relaxing a bit now that we are both in our 70’s.  It is time for change.

Rocky Point yard So, Judy, think about all that work and then ask again why in the world we would be ready to leave!?!  I thought about this today and realized that I am always careful to post photos of the place in its prime, after those long hours have yielded lovely manicured beds and mowed lawns, all neat and orderly.  Thought it might be fun to put up the photos of what it looked like after two and a half weeks of neglect. 

I now have several hundred, actually a couple thousand, photos to process, and as I work through the days, I’ll add the photos to the emails and voila!, a blog story will be born.  Stay tuned.

Vermont Part 3

Current Location: Oregon Coast Sunset Bay State Park
It is still dark out, but after slipping into the cozy MoHo bed at 7 pm last night, I can’t sleep another minute.  Outside temps are a mild 61 degrees, but I have a feeling it is cloudy and the wind is blowing in gusts and bursts.  Here at Sunset Bay we have no internet and no phone, something I expected, but a fact that still takes a bit of adjustment.  I can’t check the weather other than sticking my nose outside to get a sense of what the coming day might be like.
Jeanne and Alans house site (7 of 34)I also have no idea when this post will actually get up to the internet, but thought it might be a good idea to at least write it before I have another big backlog of Oregon Coast camping to write about. While I was traipsing about the east coast, Mo was home, and she was definitely ready for a MoHo trip.  This time of year, the coast seems to be the place where we are drawn, with no expectations of anything but windy, possibly rainy weather.  Rain in Rocky Point is cold and can get snowy in November.  Rain on the coast doesn’t often include snow, and has the added benefit of wild surf. 
Time to slip back to my week in Vermont before I completely forget the details.  Thank goodness for photos.
Around Dorset 2 (12 of 21)Wednesday in Vermont was to be simple, with a beautiful morning walk up the hills above Dorset to the orchard and then some explorations around the area.  Several guests were scheduled to arrive this evening, and Jeanne and Alan were attending to pre-wedding tasks.  In addition, they have another big project that needed a bit of attention, and Jeanne wanted me to see the site where the two of them are building their own home.
Jeanne and Alans house site (18 of 34)When we were up in the airplane on Monday, they pointed the location out to me, high on the hills overlooking the valley below.  The house on Alan’s property was first built on in the early 1700’s, when it was a tavern.  The two of them wanted so much to keep the building somewhat intact, but it was an impossible task with mold and other issues to contend with.
Jeanne and Alans house site (1 of 34)Instead, Jeanne’s task for the day was to flag the items they wanted to save from demolition.  I loved seeing the old house, the old barn, and especially the hand forged square nails and hand hewn beams.  The new house will be a timber frame, and they are going to incorporate the beams and some of the existing stones into the design.
Jeanne and Alans house site (10 of 34)Can you imagine living in these Vermont mountains with a view like this?  I was told the house will have a walk-out lower level that will be guest quarters, and I do hope I can get back again to visit and see the place when it is completed.
Jeanne and Alans house site (25 of 34)In addition to the gorgeous view, the house has its very own swimming pond.  I have never seen a pond quite like this one, absolutely crystal clear.  With a diving board. 
Jeanne and Alans house site (21 of 34)Jeanne and Alan are excited about having their own home that is truly “theirs”, not one that was “hers” or “his”.  Alan laughed with me about the old adage that building a house can break up a marriage, saying that the two of them are having a great time making the decisions and choices together and enjoying every minute of the process.
Jeanne and Alans house site (29 of 34)With two people who love the natural world, I know that the home will be a treasure of local wood and stone, and that it will be filled with art from all over the world from their joint and separate travels.  Exciting!
Camp Kinni Kinnec (4 of 30)I took some time that afternoon to explore on my own a bit, driving north to Lake St. Catherine to see if I could find the old Kinne Kinnic Camp on the northern shores of the lake. In the early 60’s, when Mo was teaching in China Lake, she decided to apply for a summer coaching job in Vermont. 
Camp Kinni Kinnec (17 of 30)The camp was one of those tony places where wealthy folks send their kids while they travel in Europe.  Mo had quite the summer teaching smartie-pants rich girls how to play tennis.  As a born west coast, rather adventurous and outdoorsy young woman, I can only imagine what a culture shock that whole experience might have been.  The telling part is that she only did it once.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (14 of 30)The original camp is no longer there, but an internet search turned up alumni including Joan Rivers among others.  I found an original sign at the entrance to what is now a private housing development, and even with the photos, Mo couldn’t remember for sure which ones were part of her camp.
The major acreage of the original camp is now Lake Catherine State Park.  With the season over and the park closed, I parked outside the gates and spent a couple of hours wandering the grounds and taking photos.  I had the entire place to myself, without another soul around.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (6 of 30)It is a beautiful park, with some very nice RV campsites, (no hookups), an easy place to launch kayaks, and trails for bike riding.  I took photos of the best campsites, and of the original buildings, hoping that Mo might recognize some of them.  The buildings were obviously much older than the state park, and I could only assume that they were from the original Camp Kinne Kinnic.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (26 of 30)Jeanne had warned me repeatedly about the typical fall outbreak of ticks in this part of Vermont, so I was careful to stay out of the brush.  Still, I did walk through some tall grass, and sure enough I looked down  and saw a creepy crawling on my pants leg.  I checked carefully for ticks that night, but not carefully enough.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (28 of 30)The next  morning, while taking my shower I was surprised to find a mole on my side that hadn’t been there the day before.  Ack!  I would imagine that little bugger was on my clothes and when I went to bed he found his way to my warm body.  Ick.  I called Jeanne and she said I needed to get to the emergency immediately to get it removed and that there was a high incidence of lyme disease in the area.  Ack again. 
Vermont back roads (29 of 29)Walking up to the house to see what I could do and where I could go, I was greeted by comments, “Russell can probably help you”.  Are you kidding me?  was my first response.  Russell had arrived the previous evening, a very attractive worldly guy with a great sense of humor, a new house in Greece, and a big box of baklava that he carried for 18 hours on the plane to share with all of us.  I had completely forgotten that Russell was also an ER doctor.  It didn’t take him long to get the tick out from a rather sensitive area, and he assured me that lyme disease was probably not a problem since the tick hadn’t been embedded for even 12 hours.  whew.  No antibiotics were needed, and the dreaded rash and bullseye ring never appeared.
The next few days before the wedding were filled with people arriving, including Eve, from my very own town of Klamath Falls.  Eve is an attorney in town and was one of Jeanne’s great running friends.  My other housemates, Tei an Cecil, who live in the previously mentioned village of Waitsfield, also arrived.
Wedding-026I had heard of Tei for years, knowing that she and Jeanne had been friends even before birth, as their mothers were friends when they were pregnant with each of them. Tei was even more delightful than I imagined, a tiny, athletic woman with huge talent and kindness. 
As the wedding drew closer, we especially enjoyed the special meet and greet evening at Alan’s house, where once again his master chef style came into play, and we had a Mexican feast worthy of royalty. Drinking, fun and laughter ensued as we all listened and told stories about Jeanne and Alan and their adventures.
Vermont back roads (3 of 29)The next day, Jeanne wanted to show Eve and I more of the beautiful countryside.  Even in the rain and clouds the colors were gorgeous, and seeing two more historic covered bridges not far from Dorset was wonderful. 
Vermont back roads (20 of 29)I also took some time to visit the nearby town of Manchester with another guest.  Ellen had arrived from Key West and was staying at the Dorset Inn.  We spent a beautiful rainy morning exploring the lovely New England town with great shops, a gorgeous gallery, and a fabulous yarn shop, Yarns for Your Soul.  The only thing that kept me from buying skeins and skeins of hand dyed wool yarn was the thought that I would have to pay all those sales taxes and then try to fit it in my luggage.  I did buy enough to make a couple of cute ski hats however, yummy stuff.
Vermont back roads (16 of 29)Ellen and I had lunch at the local independent bookstore, Northshire Bookstore, a wonderful place with real books, real food, and great cappuccino.  Ellen is another treasure.  She and Jeanne met by chance on some world trip where they were assigned as roommates, and have traveled together since that time to many exotic world locations.  I have heard Ellen stories for years as well, and was so happy that I finally got to meet her in person.
It is from this point, however, that the photos of my visit deteriorate completely.  I fell asleep the previous night with my camera on the bed.  I had been looking at the photos I had taken, and somehow didn’t put the camera away properly.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night, I heard a thump.
UhOh.  It wasn’t a long drop, and the hardwood floors weren’t that hard, but it was enough that the camera no longer worked.  I had no time to find a repair place, so the rest of the week my photos came from the iPhone.  I know that everyone seems to think iPhone photos are fine, but they don’t do that great in low light situations indoors at night, or in a church, or at a wedding.
Lucky for me, once I returned home and took the camera to the shop, the only problem was that the mirror was stuck.  I had tried dropping and lifting the mirror, but evidently hadn’t tried enough.  The camera person had the camera working in minutes.  Whew!
Next:  I know I keep saying it, but this time really:  Wedding Rehearsal, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, and Reception!

Vermont in October

Current Location:  Rocky Point, Oregon Clear and Cold at 32 degrees F this morning

I had a year to get excited about my trip to Vermont.  My friend Jeanne was getting married, and I knew I had to be there one way or another.  The trip was wonderful in so many ways, and yet losing our sweet dog Abby, just a few days after my return, made it impossible for me to write about the beautiful days and the beautiful wedding until now.

Around Dorset (28 of 35)Mother Myrick in the morning sunrise above Dorset, Vermont

Some time has passed since Abby left us.  We buried her not far from where our also recently deceased cat Jeremy lies, both small rock headstones visible from the kitchen window.  The initial grief and sadness has eased a bit.  The huge empty space that a beloved pet leaves behind is no less empty, but feels a bit less shocking.  The house is very quiet.  I did finally clean the dog spit off the sliding glass door, and just recently Mo put Abby’s toys away somewhere, I am not sure where.

137-Christmas_036 I think October is a beautiful month just about anywhere in this wide country.  However the classic New England fall was on my bucket list.  Mo and I have talked often of attempting to get back there in the MoHo, to fill in those last few states we have yet to experience in our rig.  However the timing for such a journey can be daunting at best.  It is always a juggle between catching the height of color and still not getting caught in the snows that follow.  If we had attempted it this year, we would have no doubt been caught in the early snowstorms that are hitting the South at this very moment.

driving to Dorset (4 of 18)The Connecticut River Greenway along my route from Boston to Dorset

Instead, I flew to Vermont on my own, while Mo spent the time caring for Abby and keeping the home fires burning, shutting down the sprinklers for winter, raking the rapidly falling pine needles and beginning the fall burning. I think I got the better end of the deal, except for Abby of course.

IMG_4470First sight of fall color at the hotel in Marlborough, Massachusetts

With Jeanne’s wedding scheduled for a Saturday, I planned my trip to give me several days of Vermont time before the wedding and before the major influx of guests.  When Jeanne lived in Klamath, and we worked together, she often shared stories of her life in Vermont.  We were both excited that I would be there in time for Jeanne to show me her beloved home state.  I was also happy for the time to spend with Jeanne and Alan and to get a taste of Jeanne’s new life.

driving to Dorset (9 of 18)The Vermont Visitor Center as I enter the state for the first time

Flying from Medford, I flew to Portland and then got a nonstop cross country flight directly to Boston.  Mo and I had been to Boston a few years ago, but it was on a cruise ship.  This would be my first visit to Vermont, and I rented a car with the thought that I would drive the 200 miles or so directly to Dorset.  I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly when I planned this, and realized that I needed to stay somewhere close to Boston rather than attempting to drive unknown back country roads in the dark of night.

driving to Dorset (17 of 18) Finding a hotel in Boston was a bit daunting, with the cheapest rooms beginning at $329 per night!  Not in my budget, for sure.  I could sleep in the car if I had to pay that much for a few hours sleep.  Instead, I drove an hour or so north toward Marlborough, and found a basic decent room for a mere $149.  The bed was OK, but the room wasn’t much more than your average Super 8 out west that goes for 49 bucks.  Still, when I woke the next morning to brilliant skies and gorgeous color in the trees, I was so glad that I waited.

It took me nearly four hours to get to Dorset because I just couldn’t resist stopping a bit for photos along the way.  It was my first time in Vermont, and the timing was very nearly perfect.  The visitor center at the Vermont state line was state of the art, beautiful, and I began to get a feel for the rural nature of the landscape, and the focus on dairy farming, agriculture, and forestry that is the hallmark of this lovely place.

driving to Dorset (12 of 18)On the winding highway along the West River I came upon the beautiful West Dummerston Covered Bridge,  remembering that Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges, and that there are more covered bridges per square mile in Vermont than any state in the country.  Of course, after our springtime covered bridge tour of Oregon, I couldn’t miss taking a photo of this lovely bridge.  I learned later that it is the second longest covered bridge in the state, but at the time I was taking the photos, I only remembered some of what I had previously learned about trusses and joists and supports.  I loved the open window on one side of the bridge especially.Around Dorset 2 (2 of 21)Alan’s home on the hill above Dorset.

I really had to make some tracks because the weather was cooperating perfectly for Alan’s offer to take me up in his airplane that afternoon.  It was a gorgeous, completely cloudless sunny day, and the rest of the week was forecasted to be rainy and dreary.  No time to waste.  If I was to see Vermont from the air, I would need to do it on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Around Dorset 2 (4 of 21)I arrived at Alan’s place by noon, and after greetings and settling in to his brother’s home down the path, Jeanne and I walked to town to the local farmer’s market to get some veggies for supper. 

Around Dorset 2 (9 of 21) Alan was brining a beautiful “happy chicken”, and only fresh grown organic veggies would be worthy of the meal.    Dorset is a beautiful small burgh with lovely historic homes and inns, winding country roads, a town green, and lovely historic churches, one of which would be the location of the wedding the following weekend.

Around Dorset 2 (1 of 21)My home for the week, just down the path from the main house.

My home for the week belonged to Alan’s brother, at the moment traveling around the world on a sailboat, and later the three bedrooms would be filled with other wedding guests.  It is a dramatic timber frame home, with great views of Mother Myrick towering over Dorset. 

airplane over Dorset (5 of 37) Within a short time, the three of us piled into Alan’s new truck for the drive north to Rutland airport. Needless to say, I was excited.  Flying in a small plane is thrilling to me, and as a map maker, seeing the landscape below up close is magical.  Alan is a forester, and his understanding of the patterns of the vegetation, his explanation of the various timber communities, and the history of the logging industry in Vermont added tremendously to the flight.

airplane over Dorset (13 of 37)airplane over Dorset (31 of 37)airplane over Dorset (18 of 37) airplane over Dorset (23 of 37)airplane over Dorset (36 of 37) Alan was excited about the flight as well, exclaiming over and over how incredibly lucky we were with the clear skies and the beautiful color playing out over the mountains.  Alan and Jeanne pointed out the local mountains, and told some sweet stories about their first hike together on Haystack as they flew past the dramatic glaciated peak. It was a perfect introduction for  my week in Vermont.

Around Dorset (1 of 35)Around Dorset (8 of 35) After our flight, Alan drove some of the back country roads around Dorset, searching for color on the hillsides.  I learned that Vermont was almost completely denuded of forest when it was first settled in the 1700’s, with more than 80 percent of the state being cleared for agriculture.  In the ensuing years, the trees have once again taken over the landscape and there is now only about 25 percent of the state cleared for agriculture. 

Around Dorset (21 of 35) I knew I wanted to see New England stone walls, but what I didn’t know was that many of those old walls are found in the forests, marking what were once open fields.  Now taken over by the forest again, the old stone walls are crumbling and tucked away in the shadowy undergrowth.  Around Dorset (9 of 35)

After that breathtaking afternoon, we returned home to Alan’s place to partake of one of the most amazing roast chicken dinners I ever experienced.  Alan is a fabulous cook, and his favorite resource is Cook’s Illustrated, also a favorite of mine.  I have never ever ever in my entire life had such a succulent chicken, set off with Jeanne’s homemade cranberry sauce and fresh beets from the market.  The gravy (another favorite food group of mine) was beyond incredible.  Thus began a week of some rather fabulous meals, both home cooked and at inns and restaurants throughout Vermont.Around Dorset (25 of 35)

Next:  Lake Champlain, Mad River Glenn, and more of “Jeanne’s Vermont”

A Fight!

Home in Rocky Point: cloudy, chilly at 40 degrees F, with snow coming tonight

IMG_3758IMG_3755 It was just a fight with a lawnmower, but the results looked as if I had been in some kind of bar fight!  Early in the month, we took the MoHo over to Grants Pass for the last time this winter and decided to do a bit of yard cleanup while we were there.  Mo, of course, is the riding mower queen and I was busy raking leaves.  I was at least 20 feet away, but was downside from the eject window on that mower and a rock hidden in the long grass decided to come my way.

Ugh!  It knocked me down, hurt worse than anything I can quite remember, and the results were not pretty.  Of course, all the yard equipment danger stories came out of the woodwork after it happened.  Of course I wouldn’t mow barefoot, am pretty careful with the weed eater, and have managed to do yard work for half a century without anything like this happening to me in the past.  Still, you can bet I won’t be anywhere in the yard in the future when that mower is going.

Now, of course, it has been a bit of time since I last posted and lots has been happening, and it is time to try to catch up so I don’t forget what we did in November.  How do you pick a title for the mish mash of stuff that is to follow?  A funny thing to note….until recently the most popular post in my entire 6 years of blogging is one called “Vandalized”.  Go figure.  At last the main post about the MoHo has surpassed the stats for Vandalized, but it has taken years!  Betcha I get a bunch more hits when I talk about a fight.  What is it about people anyway.  I am sure the the word “Fight” gets a ton more views than something like “gorgeous bird” or “Halloween” or “My grandson’s play”.  Wanna make a bet with me on that?

IMG_0963 We have driven the MoHo across the mountains more times than we planned because it was time for new tires.  Basin Tire does great by us, but it is a locally owned company in Klamath Falls, 30 miles east.  The MoHo was already over in Grants Pass, where she doesn’t have to be winterized, 100 miles west.  Oops.  So we brought her home to get tires, and an oil change and transmission service, which made her very happy, and made us very happy with more than 8,000 travel miles already tucked away on our winter agenda.  Of course, sitting at home in Rocky Point, with sub freezing temperatures and a smattering of snow wasn’t the best.  Mo set up the electric heater inside and we parked her under the shelter of the big trees.  It was nice to see frost and snow all over the grass but not on the driveway.

IMG_3748 Not long after the tires were added, I got an early morning wakeup call from Daughter Deanna, who was just an hour out of the truck stop in Central Point.  This was exciting for several reasons, one of which is that I don’t get to see her often, and their jet engine deliveries don’t take them down I-5 all that often.  For some reason she thought I was in Grants Pass, but instead we jumped up and dashed over the mountain in the melting snow, in the MoHo, so that we could meet them by 8 at the restaurant so they could continue with their very tight schedule.  They were delivering some kind of big jetway, an oversize load, and had all sorts of permitting and route variations they had to follow on their way south to LAX.

IMG_3751 Whew!  Now,  just maybe, a few old time readers will remember Deanna lent her huge fast magnificent Nikkor lens to me for our trip to Alaska and I crashed to the ground and crashed the lens.  I replaced it for Deanna, and repaired the old one for myself and I love it.  I happen to have a zoom lens, but it isn’t anything like the big zoom lens that Deanna had for her photography business, and since I was responsible enough to replace her lens, she had no problem lending her big zoom to me for our upcoming trip to the southeast.  I really do want to get some spoonbill photos!  Now lets hope my old lady tendency to crash every now and then won’t cost me the several thousand dollars it would cost me to replace THIS lens.

IMG_3760The good part about the quickie visit to Medford, is that Deanna had a chance to pick up the lens from their storage in Wenatchee and bring it along for me. Way better than trying to ship and insure the thing.  Breakfast and daughter hugs were great too!

Another good part about the quickie visit is that I was able to bring the beginnings of the quilt I am making for their truck bed over for her to see and approve in person.  Deanna saw Sally’s quilt and asked for one, and was willing to pay for the fabric if I would make the quilt.  We decided on an idea, and it was great to see that our over the phone choices worked out perfectly for the soft gray and blue interior of their truck.  Eventually I will even make truck curtains to match.  It is been good that I can stay at home in the dreary November weather and just quilt and not scare people with my fighter face.

new lens-015 Another little glitch showed up early in the month while I was working away on the quilt with a broken sewing machine.  Sheesh.  My machine is a Bernina 1230, a model from the 80’s, and it seems the part is expensive and hard to find.  It would require a 150 mile round trip to the Ashland Bernina Dealer.  Sister Sal, the other trucker in the family, who recommended the 1230 because she loves hers, sent a quickie text message to me saying, “Go get mine, it is in storage, you can use it while I am driving”  Wow!  Just before that, Mo and I decided it was time for me to get the little 12 pound travel Janome 600 machine I had been eyeing for awhile now.  So now I have the Janome for travel and classes and quickie piecing at home, and my broken Bernina, and Sal’s working Bernina and two of her sergers which I haven’t a clue how to thread. Did I mention I don’t have a sewing room, that I store all my sewing stuff in my bedroom and quilt on the dining table?  Ha!

new lens-010It seems I don’t have a lot to show for it yet, except of course Deanna’s quilt which will be ready for the quilter this week.  They promised to get it back before Christmas, so the next time I meet Deanna on the road somewhere (probably in Florida or Texas or something), I’ll have her quilt all bound and ready to give to her.  Yippee!!

IMG_0976-001 The other little busy maker around here has been Mo’s computer.  She has a great Dell workhorse that has plunked along for a very long time, but it is a bit slow and still runs XP without the bones that could be upgraded to Windows 7.  I had Bel’s little Dell laptop I got for her before she passed away, just sitting in a cupboard, so decided that it would be a good backup computer for Mo.  Sure enough, Mo is now learning to use Windows 7 and is getting more and more used to the idea that she can let the old beast go.  I have been using Windows 7 for some time now, but in teaching Mo the differences in the OS, I am learning things I didn’t know.  I have no desire whatsoever to try out Windows 8 any time soon.  Just the upgrade to the IOS on my iPhone made me a bit crazy.  Finally, after some of our computer work, this morning Mo said something to the effect, “Gee, I like this, I can work on Quicken on my old machine and see all the banks on the laptop at the same time!”  Power User!  You go Mo!!

woodpecker_133 Oh yeah, another little busy maker….I am trying to get all the old VHS videos that I have in boxes transferred to DVD’s so that I can actually do something with them.  I bought a Toshiba machine that does the job, but still takes a bit of tweaking and concentration to make sure that the resulting DVD can be viewed on a computer.  The plan is to eventually get those files converted and transferred from the DVD’s to the computer and to then make some nice movie clips from the good parts.  I can’t believe how much wasted, pretty boring footage there is on the old videos, and yet how many sweet special moments are tucked away in there as well.  It is a big job, and I have to thank Erin and Mui (this is a link to his great videos) for sending some emails along that helped me at least begin to understand what I was dealing with, what kinds of files and software I needed to understand to actually do the project.  For now, I am just happy to get them to DVD’s where I can skip and fast forward and find things much more easily.

Another delightful treat early in the month was a trip to town to watch my youngest grandson, Xavier, starring as Jack Rover in the play Wild Oats.  It was amazing to me to see how great the kids were in this high school production.  It was as good as many community theater productions I have seen.  I even went for the second night since I did learn, when Melody was doing theater, that every single performance has its own nuance, its own special moments.  Sure was proud of that kid!  Plus he is getting all A’s for his first year of high school in advanced placement classes.  He is on  a roll, and I trust it will keep going throughout his high school years.Wild Oates_060

I would imagine that those who read the blog because it said “Fight” are long gone.  Those who read the blog because they read RV travel blogs have probably bailed by now as well.  But at least when I go back to the blog to try to remember what we did this month I will have something to read.  There are times in the past when we ask that question, and if we weren’t traveling there is nothing but a big blank!new lens-002

I have lots of practice ahead of me using Deanna’s lens, but I did try it out a little bit.  She has a nice tripod that is attached to then lens rather than the camera to help hold it.  While it is only a 200mm, it is fast, so hopefully I can get photos that are more clear than I have managed with my much less expensive slower lens.  Wish me luck!