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.
OFF TO THE COAST!!
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!