We had a fabulous July, but first a House Update

Current Location: Running Y Resort, Klamath Falls, Oregon 

Mattie is completely unconcerned about thunder and lightning in Grants Pass.  Alert, but totally relaxed.

As I wrote last time, we knew that July had much in store for us.  Almost every single day was full, with tight schedules that made us often ask, “What are we doing next?  Where are we heading next?  Which house will be in on x date?”  Every minute was truly wonderful, and if we breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the month, it was only to catch some air and some down time.

Checking out the house at dusk with interior construction lighting on

I decided to write about each visit and adventure individually, to give each one the full credit it deserves, but wanted to get all the house update stuff done first, to clear my mind of that ongoing process so that I can relax and enjoy the great memories we made last month.

Here is Gary Duckworth, our job foreman, always busy checking the details

July 17 It was exciting to return to Grants Pass after a week away, partially because we knew Jimmy and Nickie were coming, but also because we knew that the A Team was returning to begin putting up the siding. 

The interior was a surprise as well, with all the drywall completed, and the tray ceiling at last actually recognizable.

Gary spent quite a bit of time with us working out the details for our trim choices for the windows and doors, and deciding on what kind of crown molding would look best in the tray ceiling.

It was wonderful walking around in the house and seeing it with defined spaces, feeling the rooms more clearly, and enjoying the lightness.  With just the framing up, it was darker than I had imagined it would be with all the windows, but once the drywall was on, it changed everything.  Light!  It is so wonderfully light!

We spent a couple of days with Jimmy and Nicky, (I will be writing this post shortly) and returned to Grants Pass on Thursday to find that the A-Team really was there, and the siding was going on.  Exciting to watch that happen.  While they were working, the drywall contractor was completing the taping of the interior drywall.

I didn’t manage to get a photo of that guy walking around on his bucket.  I remember drywall tapers using stilts, but this guy just jumped up on his bucket and managed to rock and roll it around to do the 9 foot ceilings and high places.  That was rather amazing to watch.

By the end of the week, we were beginning to get a better picture of how the house will look when it is finished, with the siding and framing in place.  Gary also brought some samples of baseboard styles and we weren’t thrilled with the standard OG 3.5 inch stuff that is in modern houses.  We instead decided on a 5 inch flat topped baseboard that is more in keeping with the Craftsman feel of the house.

Made me really happy, reminding me of the house on Painter Street that was built in 1942 and had that same kind of baseboard.

Just for fun, here is an old photo from the Painter Street house baseboard and trim

We also made decisions on doors, deciding that a “minimal” upgrade to the Shaker doors that we originally wanted but weren’t included in the original bid was worth it. So far, our only actual change orders have been for the doors and for the upgraded baseboards.

July 26 After a week at the Running Y, where we enjoyed a visit from Jeanne (I will write this post very soon), we returned to Grants Pass again to find exciting new changes.  The siding and trim were almost completed and ready for paint.

Gary did a fabulous job designing the gable treatments, and something we hadn’t even thought of were the custom attic vents.  Later that day, driving around town checking out new houses, we saw several examples of store bought vents, squares, rectangles, circles, and octagons. 

The custom vents under the gable treatments are a great touch, another reason we so appreciate our builders. 

Gary also had a mock-up ready for us for the porch columns, and brought the box of our chosen rock facing that will cover the pillars to see how it would look with the planned column treatments.  We talked about different ways to trim the front porch upper cross beams, which will be stained rather than painted.

We drew out the proposed cement walkway that will meander from the garage and driveway around toward the front porch entrance, painting the dirt with blue paint and talking about how much Gary planned to raise the ground level with solid fill so that we will have only 3 steps and 4 risers at the main entry.

Mo and I will use the garage entrance most, and there is no step there except for a small lip from garage to laundry room,  perfect for us.  No steps, and all one level!

We had a great time with Maryruth and Gerald (another story to get posted soon) and returned once again to the Running Y on the last day of the month.  We were definitely ready for that few days of down time, especially since the temperatures in Grants Pass during that week reached 114 degrees.  Klamath Falls was in the triple digits as well, highly unusual for the Klamath Basin, but we stayed cool and comfortable in the air conditioned villa, and I took daily morning walks on the pathway before it was too hot.  I would check pavement in the evening, and if I couldn’t walk barefoot on it, I wouldn’t take Mattie, so mornings were the only time we could get out.

August 7 Every time we return to the house build, it gets more exciting.  It was actually a little bit scary, because we knew that the interior and exterior painting was going on in earnest.  We spent a long time deciding on colors, and knew we had to live with our decisions.  No going back once all that paint is on!.  I was really nervous driving up the road, praying that it was OK.

Surprise.  We loved it.  Or maybe not such a surprise because we spent a lot of time trying to match the color of the RV shed and choosing the interior paint with much reading and sample approval.

Funniest moment was standing in front of the house and seeing that the east wall of the house wasn’t anything at all like the south wall of the adjacent RV shed. (See the apparent difference in the above photo. )“Well shoot, it doesn’t match, but I guess that is OK”.  But then the next morning, with the rising sun on both eastern walls of each building, it was a perfect match!  Light and angle makes all the difference.  We noticed the same effect from the west side during different times of day. 

Deciding on a garage door was also a process.  There are only 2 colors that are standard, white and brown, otherwise the door can be overpainted with the house body color.  That isn’t really a good option because the exterior paint doesn’t wear nearly as well as the baked coating that comes standard on the door.  We were thrilled with the look of the door with the roof color.  We also were amazed at the quietness of the door itself.  You can barely hear it going up or down! 

I was a bit concerned about our choice of Revere Pewter, a Benjamin Moore color, for the interior.  I searched and researched, and really wanted to try a warm gray.  But after years of warm earth tones in our homes, moving to gray was a big shift.  When I first walked in, I loved it, then I wasn’t sure, and then I loved it again.  The color is like a chameleon, shifting and changing with the different kinds of light in the different rooms. 

The subs all love it too, even the ones who say they don’t like gray.  Gary told of us a house they did where everything was gray, and it looked so cold and clinical.  Gary loves our gray and so do we.  It is soft and warm and will look great when the wood floors are in.

Another little glitch happened when the vinyl we had chosen for the bathrooms and laundry room was suddenly discontinued. 

The one on the left was discontinued.  The new vinyl looks a little bit like our antique tiles on the right.

We spent some time at Lipperts, the flooring provider, and found something even better.  The first choice was an almost white that would have been similar to the marble surfaces that are in the bathrooms,  Instead, we found a diagonally placed stone pattern that includes grays, beiges, the blue-gray-green that is in our carpet, and the brown of the wood floor.  It looks much like the tiles that we are installing in the entry way, and even though it won’t be nearby, it will carry the theme throughout.  It will also be great for that main laundry room entry which I expect to catch most of the outside dirt.

Because the painter bid for only one trim color and only one interior body color, Mo and I decided to paint the upper interior of the tray ceiling ourselves.  We chose a shade of warm gray that is just a bit darker than the walls.  The separation of the two colors with the white crown molding will emphasize the architecture of the tray well. 

Gary spent a lot of time with us this week, helping with decisions, working out the details of our custom closet packages, and helping with the final decision of the exterior accent color and which gables would be painted the deep brick color that we finally chose.  When we return, we will see how it all comes together. 

We chose the deep brick on the left rather than the clay color on the right for the accent

Gary says we are doing great, that we are making quick choices and the build is going well and is on schedule.  Still, it is hard to not get impatient as we wait for each process to complete.  Cupboards are in the works, but the templates for the granite can’t be made until the cupboards are actually installed.  It is all so integrated, with each step forward required many steps completed prior to that next step.  We are amazed and impressed at Gary’s ability to keep everything moving forward and on track.  Lots of stories about private building contractors aren’t nearly so positive.

We are on schedule for a November 1 estimated completion date.  Let’s hope that everything keeps moving forward as well as it has so far.

03/20/2017 Demolition!

Current Location: Back to the apartments, Klamath Falls Oregon

There is an overlap going on, but it is only a partial one.  Many of my blogging friends and followers are also on Facebook.  Many are not.  Many of my Facebook friends never bother to look at the blog. Then, of course, there are those friends who do neither.  Lately it seems that category is dwindling, with most friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances choosing to plug into one form or the other of digital connection.  No, I don’t do Twitter, and yes, I have an Instagram account but haven’t put more than half a dozen photos on there in a year.  No time.  I have to pick and choose my personal version of internet communication.

I did a long blog post for the private blog I have been keeping about our “transitions”, sending the link to the few people who are close enough to care about the finer details of what is going on, but most of the time that one isn’t for public consumption.  Now and then I have copied a post from the “transitions” blog to this one, but a comment on Facebook made me realize that maybe I needed to try a bit harder to keep this blog a bit more updated. 

Bob McLean, of The Caretaker Chronicles, has been an internet friend for several years, not as up close as some others, and I have never met him, but he once kindly invited Melody and I to visit him and his TC at their home in Vienna when we were traveling Eastern Europe.  We have sorta followed each other along leap frog style since then, as our lives have shifted and changed.  Bob is a kick, with a great dry witty sense of humor that never fails to entertain me.  Bob blogs a bit more consistently than I do, but he isn’t a daily guy either.

Back to the Facebook comment.  When I posted a photo of our little cottage one day, saying it was the “last day”, nothing was mentioned.  Then the next day I posted the photo of the demolition of the little cottage and Bob showed up on Facebook, exclaiming (and I paraphrase)…”What did I miss?”

This is our crazy RV shed storage/getaway space for the few months of the build, we will sleep, cook, and shower in the MoHo

So I cruised back through the blog thinking, “Surely I have talked about this at least a little bit”, and to my surprise discovered that, no, I hadn’t really talked about it much.  A few comments here and there, lots of photos of the Cottage when we were in Grants Pass, but not much mention of the actual process of tearing it down.  Lots of detailed explanations on the “transitions” blog, and more than a few references to the moving process on Facebook, but who in the heck can manage to keep track of your own life much less someone else’s life?!

Which is why I haven’t blogged about it much.  This is a travel blog, mostly RV travel with some other kinds of travels thrown in, and of course, now and then, other pieces of life get in the mix.  After all, we are not full time RV’rs, and I find that when we are on the move I assume that what I have to say might be more interesting for someone to read.  I also usually don’t have to go back to the blog to figure out what we were doing when we are at home, but I surely use it a LOT for when we are on the move.

This is the google photo of the cottage before we bought it in 2012, with no RV shed, a bunch of chicken coops, old sheds and shelters, and the old pallet fence.

So, again, and a repeat for those up close friends who already know the drill.  We bought the .87 acre in Grants Pass in 2012, so we would have a place to store the MoHo in winter.  Mo wanted a big RV shed, and county regulations require that a dwelling be already on the property in order to add another building.  The acre was perfect, the cost was close to the cost of the land without a dwelling, so we always laughed and said the little 700 square foot cottage was basically free.

This might be the last time I put a photo of the Rocky Point house in the blog.  Ya’ll remember it I am sure

At the time we lived in Rocky Point.  Most longer term readers remember that lovely home in the forest, and possibly remember that we sold that property last year.  Reason for selling?  Time to leave the deep, heavy snows of winter and the 35 mile one way drive to the grocery store for life on the west side of the Cascades.  It took a bit for us to make that decision, and the first couple of years at the Cottage, we thought of improving it (which we did), adding to it, (which we decided wasn’t practical), or building a new home from scratch.  Which we are now doing.

So, Bob, to make a long story a bit shorter, that is where we are now.  We just had to wait for spring for the appropriate development and building permits, and the scheduling of the demolition of the little cottage to make way for the new house.

Yup, we tore it down.  The Cottage wasn’t fancy, but it had 90 years of history, and we managed to make it cute and livable for the times when we were in Grants Pass.  We knew there wouldn’t be much to salvage.  A few old beams weren’t really even paint grade.  The new bathtub that we put in 3 years ago was impossible to get back out without a ton of work. 

Daughter Deborah came the week before the scheduled demolition and helped us get all the furniture (mostly things from Mo’s cabin at the Rocky Point house) out of the cottage and into the big RV shed.  We moved the MoHo outside, where she will reside for the next few months during the build, and created a bit of living space inside the RV shed with our bits and pieces of furniture, a couple of comfy chairs, and the TV.  It will be a bit of a place to get away from the smaller space of the MoHo while we hang around during the house build.  Of course, we have spent months at a time in the MoHo, but it is a bit different when traveling than it will be sitting still in one place.

There goes the bathtub

We then removed a few antique doors, and Deborah took down the kitchen cupboard doors she had so carefully sanded and painted to hopefully create something wonderful with them.

By the end of the week, all the required permits came together at the right time, the gas company capped the gas line at the street and took away the gas meter.  The power company disconnected the existing power and immediately connected to the newly installed power pole and meter box. 

The new power pole gets power from the main pole across the street, but will deliver power to the house underground

We only spent one night without power, and on Saturday morning the electrician showed up at 8am to connect the power line that connected the shop and RV shed to the main pole, and to install a distribution box with a 30 amp plug for our RV and for the builders to use for power equipment during the build.

I had thought it might be an emotional thing to see the Cottage go, and it was, but only for a moment.  When that first wall went down, and the sunny little kitchen with the blue and yellow and white shelves were exposed to the world, I felt a bit of sadness, and tears popped up.  It only lasted a moment, though, and the fascination of watching a house disappear with a few bites of a monstrous machine made up for any sense of loss.

Early in the process, with the demolition of the first exterior wall, suddenly everything came to a screeching halt.  Ralph, the demo guy, thought he saw something that looked like it could contain asbestos.  Gary, the builder foreman, had removed and tested materials from several areas of the house and we were determined to be asbestos free, except for some old tiles in the kitchen.

Homeowners can remove the tiles and dispose of the asbestos, but a contractor is require to jump through myriad and expensive hoops to handle asbestos abatement.  Mo and I had dutifully removed the tiles the previous week, but this material was some sort of crazy composition siding that was completely hidden by other layers of siding sandwiched on the thin walls.

Terror.  I can’t even begin to explain the fear in that moment for all of us, especially Mo and Gary 

Asbestos would stop the job, and could cost so much to remove that we would have to completely abandon our house building plans because it would be so far outside the budget.  Time stood still, and with some sort of contractor magic, Gary managed to get a sample to a testing company in Medford, the sample was tested within an hour, and thank God it came up negative.  Within two hours the machine was backup and running. We all took a collective sigh of relief on that one.

The demolition continued for the rest of the afternoon, even in the rain, and by early evening, most of the cottage was lying in a small heap of sticks and twigs.  It was an old house, built from scratch from whatever materials were available at the time.  The pipes under the floors were wrapped in newspapers and roofing paper.  I hunted for dates, and discovered, January 29, 1949.  I couldn’t read much of the paper, because it was so stained.  It was truly amazing to see that such a simply built house, without even any framing of any kind, could actually stand for 91 years. 

On Tuesday morning the crew returned to finish the job of crunching up all the debris and hauling it away in the two huge dump trucks that they quickly filled.  Ralph also took down the three trees that were in the way of the new house footprint, using his giant bucket to simply push those trees right out of the ground, stumps and all.  It was fascinating to watch. 

On Wednesday morning, almost everything was down and hauled away, except for the last big tree that Ralph thought he should take down with the help of an arborist.  They took that last beautiful madrone down without a hitch, landing it right in between the big trees we wanted to keep uninjured, and the old cherry tree on the lower end of the property.  Gorgeous work, and by the way, gorgeous men as well, all of them.  What IS it about those construction guys with tool belts anyway?!?!

Gary and his helper Levi then started the process of staking out the footprint of the new house.  The final staking will come after the excavation is completed in the first week of April, but this one was basically for making sure the house was set exactly as we wanted it.  I spent much of the time gleefully dancing around the defined space, stepping through the “front door”, looking out the great room “windows”, and standing in my “big oval soaking tub: looking out the big window in the master bathroom.

It is an exciting process, and a slow one.  A custom home doesn’t go up quickly, and our schedule is six or seven months before completion.  We are really hoping that 7 months will get us actually moved in before winter snows once again take over the Klamath Basin. 

Erythronium hendersonii the precious trout lilies growing down in the lower pasture were unconcerned.

We won’t be traveling much this year, as it is important to be around to make decisions.  Our contractor is a great guy, with a wonderful reputation for building homes in Grants Pass for 3 decades, but we still wouldn’t want to leave all those choices up to someone else, so we need to be around.  The plan is a week at the “cottage”…and a week back at the apartments where we will officially reside until we move into the new house. 

I gotta figure out what to call our place in Grants Pass now that the “cottage “ is no longer there.  The new house isn’t huge, but it is definitely NOT a cottage.

03/12/2017 March Forward “The Big Week”

Current Location: Old Fort Road in Klamath Falls and the sun is shining!!!

I look at our calendar, I look at our life, I look at what is coming up, and I say to Mo, “Somehow I have to try to write about this!”  But I am not really sure how to go about it.  I finally decided that all the things I want to write about aren’t really for public consumption.  Stuff no one but our close friends care about anyway.  The Cottage, The Build, and of course, THE EPA PROJECT!

(March 25 Even though I decided to post this on the transitions blog, I thought that maybe it could still go up on the “main blog”, but dated far enough back that it won’t make it to all the blog rolls and such.  And of course, I don’t need to post it to facebook or plus it on google.  I am just putting it here so everything is in one place and I can find it again as we move forward.)

The Old Fort Road apartments  on a late fall day 2016

Old Fort Road apartments today, after EPA project beginning

I am not even sure if I have alluded to this part of our life anywhere previously.  It is an ongoing issue, something that Mo has been dealing with since the year 2000 or maybe it was 2002.  Mo’s apartment building was once part of the historic Marine Barracks from 1944 to 1946, a place where servicemen could rehabilitate from malaria. The property was later sold to Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), then later passed on through different developers until it became a rather nice development called North Ridge Estates.  What no one knew at the time, (and wasn’t known when Mo bought the apartments in the late 90’s), was that the developers simply buried the old asbestos materials that they found on the site.  As years passed, frost heave brought some of the asbestos to the surface, and that is when everything changed.

All the trees are gone now, the ones on our property on this side of the road and the ones across the street

Here is a bit of history:  (Don’t get discouraged if the site takes a long time to load, you know how things are going with the EPA at the moment)

North Ridge Estates Superfund Site

“The North Ridge Estates Superfund Site is a residential subdivision located approximately three miles north of Klamath Falls, Oregon. The site is contaminated with asbestos as a result of the improper demolition of approximately eighty 1940s-era military barracks buildings. North Ridge Estates was added to the National Priorities List in 2011 after annual efforts to remove contamination were not effective for long-term protection of human health. Asbestos-containing materials and soil will be removed from the old military barracks site during three seasons of cleanup”.

To be fair, the actual contamination here on Mo’s property is minimal, but the EPA is being very aggressive about the cleanup.  A few years ago, there was a smaller effort at soil cleanup where the soil was removed on the hill just west of the apartment building, but the trees were left standing.

Since that time, the entire site was declared an EPA Superfund Site, and listed for cleanup.  We are in the midst of that process right now.  Prior to the major excavation work, the EPA determined that all our huge pines had to come down.  They couldn’t be saved because of the steepness of the slope and the possibility that the asbestos has incorporated into the roots and lower bark of the trees.  They left us three legacy trees, but the rest are gone.  This is not all bad.  The old pines made a huge mess, and were a danger to the apartment building in high winds.  They will be replaced…with 6 foot trees. 

They took out the old apple, apricot, elm, and cherry trees that were in the front yard of Apartment A, and the place now looks incredibly naked.  We have worked with the landscape architect that is designing the replacement landscaping, and are convinced that things will look really nice once the project is completed, and we were given lots of choice in how we want plants replaced. 

The soil will be removed down to 2 feet, and if asbestos is discovered anywhere, it will be excavated to 4 feet and a protective barrier placed. During the the three month process, all the apartment dwellers will be relocated to local furnished rentals, for now that has been determined to be nice townhouses and condos at the Running Y Resort.  The dwellings are fully furnished, down to coffee pots and bedding, and we only have to take what we can’t do without for three months.  Think about that for a minute.  What would you take if you knew you couldn’t go back to your house for three months.  It is a bit like when we went on our three month MoHo excursion to Florida.

We will need the computers of course, important papers and documents, I want my sewing machine and some fabric, and enough clothes for summer and fall weather.  What about our food?  We will have to empty the fridge and the cupboards and hopefully whatever cookware is at the condo will suffice.

For daughter Melody and grandson Xavier, this is especially confusing, since in order to get the free relocation, renters are required to maintain their lease.  Xavier graduates high school in mid June, and the family decision is to move north to Eugene where we are hoping he will be accepted as a student at the University of Oregon.  Still not sure how all that is going to work. Melody won’t be ready to go in June, but hopefully can get relocated before September.

In the mean time, Mo and I will be right in the middle of the Grants Pass house build.  The cottage will be long gone, and our domicile in Grants Pass for the alternate weeks that we plan to be there will be the MoHo, so that we can keep an eye on the building process and be close by when needed for questions and decisions. (I think I am most excited about choosing our granite slab, whenever that happens.)

We are really looking forward to the alternate weeks at the Running Y.  There are beautiful bike trails and a nice private boat launch area on the lake.  We are looking forward to getting the kayaks out a lot more this summer, and hope to actually kayak to Bare Island, something we always said we wanted to do and never managed.  In fact, last summer, Melody and Robert actually paddled 21 miles round trip from Rocky Point to Bare Island!  It won’t be nearly as far from the Running Y, Melody.  Also, there is a beautiful piece of untouched land at the resort, a peninsula that juts out into the lake, called the Skillet Handle, famous as an excellent site for birding.

We are definitely seeing the silver lining of the 3 month vacation at the Running Y and looking forward to some down time, play time while we are there.

Back to the title of this post, however.  This is the week.  Today Mo and I are packing for the next 10 days in Grants Pass.  This is the final week for the little cottage, our home away from home for the last 4 1/2 years.  Tomorrow we will move the MoHo out of her big shed for the rest of the summer, and start moving the few things that are in the cottage into the shed for the duration of the build. 

The utilities will go down toward the end of this coming week.  Daughter Deborah is coming over for two days to help us with this project, especially with heavier things like the fridge.  Our big job tomorrow is to think about how we want to use the space in the RV shed.  We are hoping to set up the kitchen table, chairs, and our two rockers toward the front of the shed.  We will pull out the kayaks and the bikes, the mowers and store them where we now store the baby car in the temporary shelter.  Maybe the kayaks will end up on top of the baby car permanently as we travel back and forth between the condo and the cottage.  Oops….guess we are going to have to come up with a new name.  Can we still call it The Cottage if the cottage is gone?

The new house will be a much larger footprint where the cottage is now.  I can only try to imagine how it will look and feel when it is done. 

Tomorrow we meet again with the builder to view the final engineering drawings.  Still little things to worry about, of course.  The Development Permit holds up the Green Tag on the new Power Pole, and unless all that gets handled in the next few days, when the power goes off, it won’t go back on immediately.  If that is the case, we will be boondocking without power or water until the electricity for the build is restored.  We might just bail next weekend and head for hookups at the Valley of the Rogue State Park, just a few miles south.

I guess you can see why this was hard to write about.  It feels just about as discombobulated as I feel right now, waiting for all this to happen.  We have known this week was coming, we have been preparing for it, and I hope we are ready for the next big step forward. 

OK  I wrote it.  Time to go find some of the photos I have been taking as all this was happening.

02-03-2014 Home again, Gone again, and Shifting Weather

Current Location:  The Cottage in Grants Pass, Oregon at 51 F and raining

For those who pay attention to this kind of thing, Mo and I have been off the road for two weeks after traveling in the SoCal area for a month.  Our winter trips are usually longer than this last trip, but life is calling, things are shifting, decisions need to be made and once again, boxes packed.  I wonder when we will ever be fully finished with moving. 

Frost along Lakeshore Drive near Moore Park in Klamath Falls

Our 961 mile journey back to the apartments in Klamath Falls was accomplished without any major drama, in just 3 days, with an overnight at Orange Grove in Bakersfield, Flag City in Lodi, and a night at our very own Cottage in Grants Pass.  In spite of the major storms crashing into the Pacific Northwest during that time, we somehow slipped into perfect weather windows between storms, and sailed over all the passes between our desert respite and home. 

Trying to shoot into the light to capture those icy diamonds.  Almost got it, but not quite

Most of the time, we chose to travel I-5 between Bakersfield and Lodi, but after that last extremely bumpy and very crowded trip south, we decided to take Route 99 from Bakersfield back north.  When we left Bakersfield, on a quiet Monday morning, we had not a lick of traffic all the way north to Lodi.  Most of the highway was resurfaced and smooth, albeit a bit narrow in places.  Turned out to be a great choice.  Checking google maps shows a difference of less than 10 miles between the two routes.

Once back in Klamath Falls, We had a day to unload, an evening to enjoy my grandson’s opening night of “Superman, the Musical”, a weekend to catch up on laundry and get things put away, and it was time for me to head to the office for a week of soil survey work.  I have no idea where the days go.  As soon as I signed off on Friday afternoon and turned in my timesheet, we started loading up for another drive to Grants Pass. 

Mountain Lakes Wilderness and Harriman Peak on the far side of Klamath Lake

We knew we might be in for another storm over the mountains, but last Saturday morning when we left Klamath Falls we were treated to one of the delights of living in snow country.  The skies were crystal clear, the snow covered hills were sparkling with diamond dust, and the hoarfrost coated every tree and shrub along our route beside Klamath Lake.

Of course, I had to stop and take photos.   I knew from the weather forecasts that we were leaving behind the snow and ice and traveling west over the mountain into warmer but cloudy and foggy weather.  I need light, I need sunshine, but I also need to be able to walk, and ice isn’t my favorite thing.  I talked myself into being ready for the cold, wet fog that blankets the Rogue Valley during this time of year.  I soaked up that sunshine, running around shooting photos and trying to somehow capture that diamond dust sparkle.  I still have no idea how a photographer might do that.

From all that blue and crystal to this, but at least there isn’t snow on the ground in Grants Pass

During the week, we had a few more conversations with our builder and his foreman.  Little details were ironed out, and at last a price was agreed upon.  There was some touch and go for a bit, with Mo and I spending a few sleepless nights wondering if the project was going to actually happen, if we would have to start all over again from scratch, and how in the world that might look.  Thankfully, that isn’t going to happen, and the build is now officially on the schedule.

Still chilly at 37 F, but that didn’t keep these two from working long hours every day

March 20th is the big day, when the bulldozer and loader will arrive to knock down the sweet little cottage.  We still have quite a bit to do before that day, including Mo’s big project of getting the oldest part of her workshop down.  The people who lived on this place since the early 60’s believed in salvage building, and just added and added more and more stuff to the existing buildings.  Mo wanted the main part of the building, but not all those extra roofs and sheds and walls that were a crazy mess.

I wasn’t quick enough to catch the crash after they pulled the framing down with a rope

Mo did a lot of that demolition herself, with a bit a help from me, but I was incredibly grateful that her brother, Dan, once again offered to come and help with the hardest part, getting that roof off.  Dan showed up on Sunday, and spent 3 days here helping, and the two of them managed to get it all undone.  There was a bit of a scary moment, when Mo fell through the ladder, scraping up her legs and banging her chin, but thank goodness she was OK.  We all know ladders are scary things.  She knows better than to do ladder work with no one around, at least.

These two (Mo and Dan) are quite the team when they work together   FYI, we have no idea how we are going to get the debris off the top of the MoHo shed behind the little shop.  No ladder big enough around here

After Dan left, Mo and I spent a few more days hauling all the wood debris to the dump, and metal to the salvage yard.  Thank goodness once again for trailers and a truck to haul them.  In between rain storms, I even managed to get some of the fall leaves from the lower part of the acre raked into piles, ready to load into the trailers, once the debris was dumped.

I won’t say how old she is, but my oldest daughter Deborah was born in 1963

The weekend was also a time for me to catch up with my daughter Deborah, who had a birthday last week while I was working in Klamath.  Deb came over to the cottage and we spent the afternoon shopping for crafts, visiting, drinking coffee and talking some more before we picked up her son Matthew to join us for a birthday dinner at the Horny Goat.  Daughter Deb and Grandson Matthew

The food was fun, rather crazy pub food, with lots of creativity.  I couldn’t make up the sandwich the kids had, with some kind of mile high French toast smothered with cheese and ham, and drowned in maple syrup that was filled with bacon and serrano chilies. My Dragon Breath chicken was a bit more traditional, but incredibly tasty and also nice and spicy. 

During our first few days here at the cottage, the skies were cold, foggy, and gray.  The forecast called for 50 degree temperatures, but with the foggy inversion, the temps never got above 37.  I was very happy to be working inside the cottage, packing up the few things we have used here during the last four years. 

Then one afternoon, the skies opened up, and the sun burst forth in all her glory.  January was miserable, and on February 1st, it was like a huge shift.  The colors brightened, the grass seemed greener, and the 50 degree temperatures felt like tee shirt weather, at least for a couple of hours. 

That night it poured all night, and the morning dawned rainy and drizzly again, but the foggy inversion was gone.  I think those inversions are my least favorite kind of weather, but I keep reminding myself that it may be foggy, but I can walk without crashing on some icy walkway.  At home at the apartments I can’t even manage to get across the road to the mailbox! 

The skies can change in minutes from sunshine to rain this time of year

In between packing, raking and hauling, I have enjoyed some quiet moments reading my favorite blogs.  Erin is on a Round the World Tour, and it is a kick reading about her adventures without having to endure the wild seas of the Pacific Ocean.  It also has been great reading all about Nicki’s trip to Australia and New Zealand without having to get on 13 different flights.  Armchair travel leaves a lot to be desired, but on cold foggy days, it is pretty darn nice.

A mystery:  why haven’t the roses that I moved to Grants Pass from Klamath Falls not lost their leaves?

The primroses I moved from Rocky Point think it must be spring already

Our life is very focused right now.  I am working alternate weeks, and will be at the apartments while working. We will spend the alternate weeks at the cottage, finalizing the clearing out of the cottage, taking what we can salvage before the demolition, and making sure all is ready to go. So it will be a week at home, working soil survey, and a week at the cottage, working at whatever.  At least for the next few weeks.  After that….and on forward, it will be a week at home working and a week at the property, minus the Cottage, and staying in the MoHo, making sure the house build is progressing as planned!

If the daffodils are emerging, it must be spring, right?!

The MoHo will have to come out of her home in the big RV shed for a time, while we store all our “stuff” inside during the building process.  I am going to miss our cozy little cottage getaway, but it is all for a good purpose, and eventually our new home on a similar but larger footprint should still have some of that cozy cottage energy that we have enjoyed so much for the last 4 years. 


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!