Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Home at Last and Travel Plans

Current Location: Grants Pass, Oregon 30 degrees with icy fog

We are home.  We have been living in our new home for just over a month now.  Time has a funny way of shifting about, and it feels like we have been here forever, and yet it also feels like only a moment.  I still find myself reaching on the wrong side for the toilet paper, or sliding my hand up the wrong wall to find the light switch.  A few days ago I stomped near the base of the toilet to flush it.  Yes, RVr’s will recognize that one.

We spent much time in the Moho parked here on the property from March through September, but we lived pretty much full time there from mid September until November 7th, the date that our furniture arrived from Klamath Falls. We still have the apartments in Klamath Falls, but wanted to be here for the ending details of the build. Finally, after two and a half years of moving around, fixing up places, selling places, moving stuff from one home to another as we made the shifts, all of everything we have is here, in one place.  It feels a bit strange. 

I somehow completely lost time and inclination to blog the building process.  I photographed extensively, and my calendar is jammed with deadlines, appointments, contractor schedules and such.  I will always have the opportunity to go back and look at the progress and the completion, but no way could I even begin to keep up with writing about it as it was happening.

The last six weeks was much different than the first few months.  Instead of big exciting progress, the work moved forward in what often seemed like tiny increments.  All I can say is, if you ever build a home, it is most important to be right there.  I can’t count how many times a knock on the door of the MoHo meant one sub or another needed a small question answered, questions that Gary might not have really known how to answer without speaking with us.  Being 2.5 hours and 130 miles away at the apartment wasn’t really an option.

While some of the details were a bit tedious, there were also big moments that were absolutely thrilling.  The day the granite was delivered and installed was one I won’t forget.  Our choice turned out to be perfect, even more beautiful than we imagined once it was installed.  The perfection of craftsmanship and fit was amazing to us.  I don’t know how they do that!

Seeing the paint colors for the interior and exterior materialize into reality after studying and choosing colors for a year was nerve-wracking.  What if we had picked colors that didn’t work?  We agonized for a few days over the accent color on the upper exterior walls before finally deciding. 

Later, a neighbor asked how I managed to match the bark of the madrone trees with that color.  Huh?  A complete accident, but a lucky one.  We really love our colors.  I thought I was matching the red clay dirt all around the house.  The red was also a nod to the sweet little cottage that stood where this beautiful home is placed.  Once of the best decisions we made was to bring in several loads of decomposed granite to cover the sticky red clay that is on this property.  That clay stained everything in its path, including the sidewalk, and the workers always had special shoes around for working here.  Everyone is very happy that we no longer have to worry about the clay.  We will landscape more next year and add some soil and shrubs, but for now at least it is all nice and clean.

The interior color is Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.  The color is all over Pinterest and HGTV.  I succumbed to current style and was really worried that after all our warm earth tones of years past it might be really hard to get used to “gray”. 

It turned out to be our perfect choice, and all the reviews that say the color goes well with warm and cool, and enhances furniture and floors to perfection isn’t an overstatement.  It never looks the same, and each wall and room somehow glows differently. 

Another exciting and surprisingly stressful time was when the hardwood was installed.  Jared, the incredible artist that does this work is also a guitarist, and we went to see his show last week.  His craftsmanship was amazing to watch, but when I first saw all the dark knots in the wood I was appalled. 

The sample was different, with very few knots.  We basically freaked out, called Gary and the flooring people, and for a few days all was a bit of a kerfuffle.  In the end, we were able to hand pick the best boards and set the rest aside.  Thanks to Lipperts for great customer service.  I am used to the knots now, and feel much like others have said, it gives the floor character.

Vinyl went in with more incredible craftsmanship by Ted, who also installed our carpets.  I am so very grateful for the soft touch of vinyl flooring in the bathrooms and glad we didn’t succumb to the trend to tile everything.  After three months of ceramic tile floors at the Running Y I knew I didn’t want that in my own home.  Too dang hard and cold! 

Painters came and went several times to touch up and repair tiny flaws until I can honestly say that the paint inside and out is very nearly perfect.  Joel, the detail oriented, meticulous wood worker, spent many days perfecting the trims both inside and out.  The best moment came when the three of us, Joel, Mo, and I, figured out how to design the arch across the front porch.  It was our idea, but Joel completed it to perfection.

We had great fun with the cement contractor, who took time to install some of our antique Batchelder tiles in the sidewalk, and even showed us how to press some of our Oregon coast stones into the back step. 

Jared, the wood guy, was also the tile master who installed the Batchelder’s to perfection in the foyer.  Mo and I installed the tiles in front of the fireplace, a reasonably simple job, but we hope to have Jared return next year when we are ready to complete the backsplash in the kitchen with more tiles. It will be a big project that we decided to put on the back burner rather than have it hold up completion of the house.

Cupboards were the biggest hassle, with several frustrating moments.  Paying as much as we did for custom cabinetry meant we expected things to be perfect.  They are now perfect, but it wasn’t without repeated visits by the cupboard guys and lots of intervention by Gary. 

What stands out most during the last few weeks of the build was the dedicated work by the builder, and most of all his foreman, Gary.  We were incredibly lucky to have chosen the builder we did.  Everywhere we look is evidence of the commitment to high quality and paying attention to what we needed and wanted.  Gary was always there to intercede with subcontractors on our behalf to be sure that everything was attended to properly.  Dave and Gary have an employee, Levi, and we aren’t exactly sure of his official title, but Levi was a constant presence.  He handled so many miscellaneous jobs, doing all the little things that needed attention, from digging holes for drains to cleanups day after day, to installing the door knobs and so many other details. 

Gary and Dave Adams went through the house with us on the last day, checking off every single detail, making sure all was perfect.  When Gary handed Mo the keys officially, it was an exciting moment.  On time exactly, November 1, as promised way back in March before the cottage was demolished.  And on budget as well, with no surprises with the final invoice.  I am curious how often people have such a great experience with a contractor.  Ours was superb, thanks to Mo’s great choice of a builder.

After our furniture was delivered, we emptied the motorhome and I spent some time getting her all spiffed up in the inside while Mo spiffed up the outside.  In early November the world was still sunny and warm in the afternoons.  We had stored much of our furniture in the RV shed, and decided to move all our packed boxes from the move into the garage, so we had a full garage, a full RV shed, and a very nice, clean, spare new home to work with.  The beds were set up, the furniture in place, everything we needed was here, so it was not too difficult to work a box at a time, deciding exactly where the contents should be placed and which contents were ready for the Goodwill bin.

The packed shed and garage seemed like an impossible project.  There was so much STUFF.  We had the older furniture from the little cabin at Mo’s home in Rocky Point, the older furniture that we had used in the Cottage, many things that we had stored from my house on Painter Street and moved to Rocky Point and then moved here to the RV shed two years ago.

It was just a matter of doing it, of starting what seemed like an impossible project.  We decided to cram everything we could on one side of the garage, and keep only one car inside.  With that, we hoped that there would be enough room to get the MoHo safely parked inside the RV shed.  It was amazing to watch, to realize that things weren’t as bad as we thought, and last week not only did we get the MoHo back in her big safe building, but we got BOTH cars inside the garage!  I took many boxes to various donation sites, and this week have learned that with a bit of effort and work, many items can be sold through the Facebook Marketplace. 

With our beautiful new home, and all its great angles and windows, there is less room for furniture, and we both have had to let go of a few loved old pieces because there just isn’t room for them.  Both of us want to keep the new house looking like everything in it is put there on purpose.  No jamming stuff somewhere just because we can’t let go of it.  I put things on Craigslist and Facebook, and Facebook by far has been the most successful.  The nice thing about Facebook is that I can look at a buyer’s profile before I let them come anywhere near the house. It has worked incredibly well and we are paring down.

I had no idea I would have time to actually decorate for Christmas, thinking that it would be impossible to get everything moved, settled, unpacked and still decorate.  It hasn’t been a problem at all. Especially with the help of my grandson Matthew, who lives across the street, helping to get lights on the high gables of the house.  The ladders weren’t tall enough so he climbed up to the roof and did it all from there. 

He has also been a big help preparing things to put on Craigslist, and even blew all the leaves off the roof and out of the gutters for us.

Even after only 2 weeks in the house we had Thanksgiving for the family here. Daughter Melody has moved to Eugene with her family, and they came south for the day, just a 2 hour drive.  Daughter Deborah lives just an hour away and with Matthew across the street, they joined us as well.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving with only 9 people.  Perfect for the table of six and three on the new counter.  The “kids” all love the swivel stools so didn’t mind at all being relegated to what amounted to the kid table, even though they aren’t really kids any more ranging from 18 to 34 years old.  LOL

I managed to finish a gift quilt that will go out in the mail this week, dove into my card making supplies to begin making some Christmas cards, and look, I am actually writing a blog!

Mo and I are excited about getting on the road again, and have plans to leave for our desert sojourn sometime in late winter. Just yesterday we decided to take the very long way south, following our old route west to Brookings and traveling south along the coast to Southern California.  We will then hang for a time at Catalina Spa to check out the new remodels and hope that our pools are as wonderful as ever.  I am hoping for some time in Anza Borrego before we go for some white hot nothing on Ogilby Road near Yuma and on to Tucson to visit friends and do some hiking in the Catalina’s.

We also have plans for a week in Cancun, thanks to daughter Deanna’s offer of a week at their timeshare condo on the beach there.  Air miles are a great thing, so it will be a nice vacation for us.  Other plans are in the works, and I think we will return to our old schedule of heading out somewhere in the MoHo at least once a month. It has been two years since we have been able to do that.

One more very exciting bit of travel won’t include Mo.  I am taking my daughter Deanna to Italy for the one mother child trip that I am trying to do for each kid in my old age.  I took Melody to Eastern Europe, Deborah chose the famous Blues Cruise to the Caribbean, and now Deanna and I have chosen Italy.  It is the first trip I will do on my own, doing the planning without a tour group. We will be spending three weeks, mostly in Florence and on the Amalfi coast beginning late September. I have to thank Erin for all her inspiration on that level since she is probably the most accomplished traveler that I know. 

Life is good.  The house is warm and comfy, everything is clean and organized in ways that haven’t been possible for a long time.  Those close to me will know how much I love that part.  Life is beginning to settle down and the routines of everyday living are filling the space with love and beauty.  I am so so so lucky.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

July 26 27 28 Crater Lake and Best Friends

Current Location:  Running Y Resort, Klamath Falls Oregon

It is so incredibly smoky this morning, with the Crater Lake fires billowing smoke into the skies and the northwest winds bringing it our way.  The Klamath Basin is exactly that, a basin, and as such it tends to capture everything, including smoke in late summer and fog in winter.  Have to admit I am tired of the smoke. 

This photo was taken by Brian Gailey, who does some amazing work, especially of the night skies

The culprit at the moment are fires from Crater Lake, started by that amazing lightning storm I spoke about in the last post.  Before that it was the Modoc fire, started from another lightning storm, and as almost always in summer, lightning started fires from the Trinity Alps to the southwest of us in California.  Oh yes, can’t forget the Chetco Fire, burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the coast range west of us, and a few fires near Warm Springs in Central Oregon, and a few more in Cascades on the Umpqua National Forest.  Yes, it is ongoing, and it is tiresome.

Needless to say, when our friends Maryruth and Gerald asked to visit us in late July we were delighted.  They have a new to them motorhome, and wanted to take a little trip to a bit cooler climate than the hot Sierra Nevada Foothills and Oroville where they live.  I did warn them about how hot is was going to be in our area as well, but they were game, ensuring me that their air conditioning in the rig was up to the task.  What I had no control over were the fires, and the most amazing thing of all was that we had gorgeous clear skies during their entire visit. The Crater Lake fires were still in their infancy, and the winds took most of the smoke away from the Rogue Valley.  Lucky us!

Thanks to Jimmy and Nickie’s experience the week prior, we knew to warn Maryruth and Gerald that in spite of the posted 1pm check in at the Valley of the Rogue State Park, they should double check.  Sure enough check in was delayed until 4pm.  They took their time driving north from Oroville, planning their arrival late enough that they wouldn’t have to hang out in the parking lot with the air going for any length of time.

For this visit, Mo and I had decided to take the MoHo to the park as well, unhooking the rig from her semi permanent home at the house build, and driving the 12 miles south to the park.  Even with such a short distance, it was fun having a different view.  The park was completely booked due to a huge country music jamboree scheduled for the coming weekend, so we were lucky that Maryruth had arranged reservations for both of us.  Our sites were close, just across the road from each other, with only a short distance needed to move chairs and food back and forth between the two sites.

In spite of the heat and fire weather watches, at the time we were still allowed to have a campfire in the designated firepit at the park.  With an easy supper of burgers and salads, Mo started the fire and we sat around enjoying each other’s company, toasting marshmallows, and catching up on our family stories.  Maryruth and I go back 54 years now, and have lots of stories to share.

Gerald and I took Mattie for a walk along the park pathway, a beautiful greenbelt trail that will hopefully someday fulfill its promise of a 50 mile bike and hiking route between Medford and Grants Pass, following along the beautiful Rogue River and meandering through the hills.   It is a great vision.  The trail is so lovely, I told Mo it was worth the short drive with our bikes to get there for some nice easy biking.  There aren’t a lot of easy, traffic free and non hilly bike trails in Grants Pass proper, so we haven’t been out on the bikes much yet.

We had exciting plans for the next morning.  Mo and I left early to pick up our guests at the park in the car for a day trip to Crater Lake.  Skies were blue, the morning was lovely and not yet unbearably hot even in the valley.  Before we traveled south to connect to the Crater Lake Highway, however, we took a short jaunt north to show them the new house.  We were early enough to miss the contractors, at least most of them, so we were able to wander around the house sharing all the recent developments without getting in anyone’s way.

The route to Crater Lake from Grants Pass isn’t terribly long.  A couple of hours of beautiful valleys and the climb to the 7,000 foot elevation of the park is gorgeous, with beautiful timber along Highway 62. 

We stopped near Union Creek to view the magnificent Rogue River Natural Bridge area.  Hiking wasn’t on the agenda for this day, but this trail along the river is gorgeous.  Mo and I have camped nearby and hiked in this area several times in the past.

Continuing up the mountain, we were shocked as we approached the entrance to the park.  It was the middle of the week, around 10 in the morning, and there were long lines from each direction at the southern entrance.  Such a surprise.  I have never experienced any line ever coming into Crater Lake National Park.

We were a bit apprehensive as to what it would be like being in the park, but it actually wasn’t nearly as bad as the lines portended.  Once past the entry station, and on the main park roads, traffic was decent, I would even say light.  The overlook parking areas were a bit full, but not so much that we weren’t able to park for the views.

Even the Rim Parking Lot was accessible, and the four of us got out and walked around some, enjoying the views and taking photos.  Maryruth is recuperating from pneumonia, and  I am so grateful she didn’t have to cancel the trip, as we thought she might a few days prior.  That high elevation is killer if you aren’t used to it.

We took our time meandering around the rim, noticing plumes of smoke rising toward the west, a fire that later became the Blanket Fire, and another one, the Spruce Fire, both creating all our smoke that I mentioned earlier.  In spite of this, the air at the rim was crystal clear, the skies incredibly blue, the water as gorgeous as ever.  The color is legendary, photos aren’t enhanced, and actually need to be toned down a bit to look real.  We especially enjoyed the high altitude cooler temperatures, at least 20 degrees less than what they were that day in the Rogue Valley.

There were a couple of delays for road construction, but that kept the line of cars driving the west rim road at a reasonable speed, and we still managed to see all we wanted to see.  The Watchman trail was closed, and I was glad that we hadn’t made a special effort to get to Crater Lake with Nickie and Jimmy last week.  The Watchman was a trail I had planned to do!

Circling back around the east side of the lake, we took photos of the Phantom Ship from the iconic spot, and only a week later the Phantom was almost completely invisible due to smoke.  What a lucky break for us to be able to enjoy this gorgeous place before the smoke took over.  My heart breaks for people traveling from all over the world to see this beautiful place and finding thick smoke and no views.  The park is still open, but I just can’t imagine what a disappointment it would be for distant travelers.

Traveling back west down the mountain, we stopped at the historic Becky’s Cafe.  Any time you mention going to Crater Lake, locals will say, “Are you stopping at Becky’s?”  The place is most famous for its berry pies, but we had a delicious late lunch as well, with crowding not unbearable due to the mid afternoon timing.

I stole this one from the web since I forgot to take photos

Back to the Valley of the Rogue state park in late afternoon, with triple digit weather, we retreated to our motorhomes for a refreshing air cooled nap before emerging once again for campfires and marshmallows.  What a gorgeous day it was to share with good friends.

The next morning, per Maryruth’s request, Mo made a campfire breakfast.  In the past, when we have camped with Maryruth and Gerald, these big and bacon fragrant outdoor breakfasts have been a highlight.  Morning sunlight, good coffee, great bacon, good friends, who could ask for more!

At checkout time, Maryruth and Gerald continued their journey northward in Oregon to visit more family and Mo and I returned the MoHo to her spot in front of the new house.  Time to settle in, catch our breath, and enjoy some down time after a whirlwind July.

Monday, August 14, 2017

July 23 24 25 Jeanne comes to Visit

Current Location:  Running Y Resort Klamath Falls Oregon Partly cloudy and pleasant

Once again, if you have read my blog in the past, you might recognize the name “Jeanne”.  Jeanne is a friend I made during my soil survey years in the Klamath Basin.  She was a botanist who at the time worked for the Forest Service and we worked together identifying specific soils and the plants that were connected to them.  Our friendship began 15 years ago and in spite of Jeanne leaving Klamath Falls for her native Vermont, it still flourishes.

This is where Jeanne lives now, in a timber frame home that was only a dream when I last visited.

I attended her beautiful wedding with the love of her life in Vermont 3 years ago, and Jeanne manages to get out to Oregon nearly every year for crazy times with her wild bunch of extreme friends, then comes to my house to catch up on some down time.  As you may have noticed over the years, I am a bit in awe of Jeanne.  Her physical prowess is legendary, and she plays like a teenager.  A Jeanne day often includes yoga, a trip to the gym, some laps in the pool, a run, a hike, and maybe a bike ride.  I could never keep up with her or her friends, so I am lucky that Jeanne also likes to go a bit slower, enjoys hanging out and talking and laughing, eating good food, and doing some slow sports.

We had three really great days here at what Jeanne referred to as “La La Land”, the Running Y.  We swam in the pool, walked the path, ate, talked and ate some more.  I cooked a few meals, including some ribs on the BBQ, one of Jeanne’s favorite things that I cook. However, one of the highlights of the week was our second dinner in a week at the Ruddy Duck restaurant.

We planned for dinner a bit later in the evening, hoping the sunny deck would have cooled some by then.  What we didn’t count on was the magnificent thunderstorm that moved in as we were waiting to be served.  The skies got darker and darker and as the huge drops started falling and the thunder boomed all around us with huge bolts of lightning, we decided to at least retreat a bit under the deck overhang.

What a dinner it was!  What a great view, and so incredibly dramatic.  Later, as we retreated to the villa to watch the storm, the sky started turning blood red, with more bolts of lightning streaking across the sky in all directions.  I have never seen a sunset storm quite like this one.  It was Jeanne’s last night in Klamath Falls, and was quite a dramatic sendoff!

Earlier that day, Jeanne’s friend Margo came out to go on a hike on the Skillet Handle, a peninsula that extends northward from the Running Y into Klamath Lake.  Mo and I had kayaked the lake adjacent to the peninsula last month and I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful white oak habitat up close.

It was hot.  Really hot.  The trail was a choice between a gravelly old road and a dusty path through high weeds.  Jeanne and Margo moved quickly, covering a lot of ground once we finally decided to get back on the “real” trail. 

It was way too hot for me, and I bid them farewell about a mile and a half in and walked back slowly trying to keep from getting heat stroke.  Geez, it was hot.  The huge thunderheads above were dramatic, but gave no clue of the show that was waiting in store for us that evening.

On Tuesday, Jeanne and I left early for a morning kayak.  We now have only two boats, and Mo offered to stay home with Mattie while we kayaked.  A week earlier, Mo and I had kayaked the beautiful Spring Creek Run with the Klamath Basin Land Trust.  We have driven to the site in the past, but never actually kayaked the creek.  It was so incredibly gorgeous that I knew it was the place I wanted to take Jeanne for our morning outing.  Jeanne has kayaked Recreation Creek with us many times in the past, so this was a nice change for both of us. 

The morning was just cool enough to be perfect and the skies had just enough clouds to be interesting but not threatening.  It only takes about 2 hours to kayak to the spring and back to the launch.  I think this is the most delightful boat launch I have ever experienced, even if the water was cold enough to put an ache in your feet in just seconds.

We had the entire run completely to ourselves, without another soul on the water the entire time.  On the way back down, a mysterious mist rose from the water, backlit by sunlight, and the coolness was like a river of chill air as we paddled back downstream. 

We took photos of the bubbling springs, of the Mares Eggs, a globular translucent algae that is indigenous to the Basin, of the skies, and of the water which is as clear as any spring run in Florida. 

Such a beautiful morning, such a wonderful experience to share with such a good friend.

Later that day, we took Jeanne to Medford where she checked into a hotel to be ready for her early morning flight.  Mo and I drove back to the MoHo at the new house, checked all the changes that had been accomplished in our absence, and crashed for a nap in the cool dimness of the MoHo for the rest of the evening. 

It was time to pack up the MoHo and head back down with our rig to Valley of the Rogue State Park, where we would meet more friendsfor another few days of fun times in beautiful Oregon, everyone’s favorite summer destination. Next story, Crater Lake with Maryruth and Gerald!