Thursday, October 22, 2020

Fall Colors (Sutherlin, OR)

I have been spending the last four weeks at the park enjoying the autumn weather.  It has been a quiet month as far as traveling or just going out sightseeing.  

Dan has been busy with going to his treatments five days a week.  Other than having problems sleeping, he has had very little side effects from radiology. 

So what if it is only 50 degrees out, I have a fur coat.
The cats have been enjoying the cooler weather.  Dusty starts begging as soon as we are up.  Try explaining to a cat that it is dark outside and you are just not in the mood for sitting outside before sunrise.🐱
Max is ready to hibernate for the winter
I'm loving the fall colors and the Halloween decorations around the RV park.  Gert the goat has a new friend and fall look for autumn.  I'm curious to see what Gert will wear for Christmas!
Every morning walk has something new to see.  Low lying clouds, changing colors, deer and turkey sightings, and new autumn flowers blooming.
 Even the crisp cold air has been a welcome change from our dry summer.  Everything is green again. 
Sunrise - Timber Valley Skp RV Park

I have also been spending too much time shopping online lately.  I decided it was time to get a new pillow sham for Hitch's bed.  He is the only one that will sleep on it, so it is his bed.  A new scratching post is on its way as well.  
Hitch says it is time for a new scratching post
Yep, I do believe this one has had it.
On the Cutting Board
Well, I'm trying very hard to get my quilt done.  Max, as you can see below, has been a big help.  
I have to admit that the kitty-hug breaks have kept me from getting tired of working on such a big project and I have made some great progress despite the setbacks.  Below, is Row 2 sewn together.  I finally started marking 1/2 inch along the edges so I would not quilt over the 1/4 seam allowance.
I thought sewing the seams on the backing would be the hardest to do, but I found it to be the easiest part....well, next to hand-quilting each block that is.  I can hand-quilt all day on blocks.
Row 3 -- done...
All 5 rows are now sewn together and the back is done.  And you will never guess my next problem...It is too short by about 8 inches.  I need the quilt to cover the pillows as well as hang far enough over the end of the bed to cover the skirting. 
In the meantime, the quilt is in the hoop so I can finish quilting the 1/2 inch gaps along the seams.

Hopefully, I have enough fabric left to make one more row.  I decided to add a row of Delectable Mountains to the top using paper-foundation.  I'm working on the row in between quilting in the hoop

Happy Quilting!  Happy Halloween!👻

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Yearning for Blue Skies (Sutherlin, OR)

2020 just keeps on giving. To all my friends being battered by tropical storms and hurricanes, I hope you and your families are safely tucked away from Sally and the storms that are following in her wake.  In the meantime, I am also hoping our west coast friends with homes in the wildfire's path are safe.

September started out with some unusually hot weather.  We have been sticking close to home due to the hot weather and our power being unpredictable.  We did not want to come home to roasted cats after being gone all day.  With temps rising into the 90s, we spent the early morning taking walks around the RV park or grocery shopping.  Usually by 9 am, it was already getting on the warm side and a good time to sit outside with the cats until we lost our shade in the early afternoon.  It sounds boring, but I have been enjoying our quiet times.

On one of my walks, I came across this doe and her fawn.  Neither one was worried about me walking nearby.
The cats were certainly enjoying our beautiful weather.  As you can see below how they were taking advantage of their time spent outdoors.
Tired Dusty
I spent most of my outdoor time reading, talking to neighbors, and working on my quilt.  Doesn't Max look impressed?
The Beast is sleeping
One evening last week, we took a short evening walk.  I noticed the sunset was an unusual hazy red.  I thought of the old sailor's adage: 
Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning
Red sky at night, sailor's delight
I guess that only works at sea because our red sunset was due to wildfire smoke from a fire north of us.  The next thing we knew we were being told there was a new wildfire about 10 miles (as the crow flies) east of us in Guild, OR.  As the day progressed, the sky became darker as the wind blew the fire in our direction.
Day 1
We were asked to prep for evacuation as the smoke turned our world yellow.  Several of the Escapees decided not to wait for evacuation orders and left early.  Yesterday after a week of monitoring warnings, our Level 1 was downgraded to normal, but for some evacuated Sutherlin residents living in the eastern areas, there will be no home to return to. 
Day 1
If you wondering why we did not pack up and leave the area, it is because we need to stay here.  Dan will be starting radiation treatment for prostate cancer for the next 2 months in Roseburg.  He had three appointments this week for consulting and prepping for his upcoming treatments.
Day 2 & 3
For more than a week we have been monitoring our alert links and watching the local news.  The Archie Creek fire stopped moving east thanks to the winds dying down.  This is good news for everyone with homes and businesses in its path, but no wind means the smoke is still hanging around.
Large pieces of ash
I honestly found it easier to do a 14-day quarantine than hiding away from hazardous smoke in our closed up coach.  At least, we could open windows, take walks, or sit outside.  Now, we try to keep our outdoor time limited because the air quality index is way beyond the hazardous level.  Very Unhealthy is 201 to 300 ppm.  Most of western Oregon has been off the charts with 400+ due to the thick smoke.  We have KN95 masks, but I still limit my time outdoors.  I just got my COPD under control with an inhaler.  I really don't want to backslide to how I was feeling last year.  
Next door neighbor's site
Thank you to all Firefighters who are risking their lives and working 24/7 to keep our community safe and the wildfires contained.
Now, if we can just explain this to our cats who are suffering from cabin fever.  Dusty especially doesn't understand why he can't do his usual 2-hour outside cat nap.  If it is raining or gusty winds, all we have to do is let him step outside.  He gets the hint and comes right back in.  Yep, that big furry baby is a fair-weather only kind of cat.😸  But smoke?  How do you explain it isn't safe to breathe?  Yea, he is not a happy camper right now. 😾  Max and Hitch are happy no matter what they do that day as long as they get fed and their share of attention.
As I finish writing this post, the sky is starting to clear.  I saw the sun for the first time in eight days and the wind is picking up a little from the west blowing east.  With some luck, the wind might blow the fire back into the burn-area.  

On The Cutting Board
I am still working on my southwest quilt, but I don't have any new photos except for this one taken 10 days ago.
One of our last days outdoors.
I'm hoping by the time I post again, I will have a couple of rows sewed together.
Happy Quilting and Please Stay Safe!

Friday, August 7, 2020

It's Beginning to Feel Like Home (Sutherlin, OR)

We are back in Timber Valley Skp (Escapees Co-Op) Park in Sutherlin, OR and I am surprised to admit that it is beginning to feel like home.  We are #14 on the waiting list for a Timber Valley site.  We were #80 in August of last year, so we have moved up faster than planned.  We should have a site by this time next year at the latest, giving us a place to stay - a home base.   We will still travel in the future, but have our own site here as a home base.  After 11 years of wandering around the country, I am looking forward to having a place to call home.   

We have already established our doctors and dentists with annual checkups.  Next, we will get our cats a veterinarian.  They all need a checkup.  Shhh!  Mum's the word!
What did you say?

This comes at a good time. We were starting to notice a couple of years ago that it was getting harder to make reservations for more than two weeks during high-seasons.  Even the military FamCamps stay busy during their high-seasons.  Some are first come first serve while others have a reservation system.  
The first site before owners returned

We have spent some of our time in offseason areas by going south during the summer or to the northwest coast for the winter.  Staying in half-filled to almost empty RV parks was great, but that can get challenging while traveling through bad weather or dealing with heatwaves for long periods of time. 
Deer watching Dan work on our coach

This year, RV sales skyrocketed due to the lockdown.  Families are finding it easier to pack up kids along with pets into their own rigs traveling to their favorite getaway spots.  No hassles with waiting for flights or hotel reservations.  And that's great, but there are so many more RV sales and not enough campgrounds to accommodate the sudden interest in the RV lifestyle.
Our second site with a creek behind us.

At this time, there are very few new campgrounds being built and existing ones are not expanding, causing many to be booked up to a year in advance.  Not to mention that many RV parks are now doing short and long term leases to people that are only present during the weekends - if that - leaving travelers with slim pickings for available sites, especially with our 40ft coach. 

Cats enjoying their outdoor time

Dan spent weeks looking for RV parks with more than a week opening when we started traveling north this year. As soon as the lockdown ended, most opened RV parks were booked solid every weekend or worse for the whole summer with only a few scattered days left for travelers.
Our neighbor's site with Gert the Goat

Definitely great news for RV business profits!  I am hoping this will encourage small business owners to build more campgrounds across the nation.

Street views of the park

Please understand that I'm not complaining.  I'm just explaining why we will not be traveling as much in the future which I'm already starting to miss because there are so many places I would like to see again.
Summertime blooms in the Timber Valley

We do plan to keep traveling, but it will be more structured and planned in advance.  No more spontaneous travel plans of "which way shall we go this week" and "hey! this sounds interesting, let's go this way and stay a week or two".

Love the color and the fence

 So, you are probably wondering why we picked this area for a home base. This part of Oregon is green with lot's of animals wandering around.  Sutherlin is working hard to maintain their small town, and Roseburg is nearby for shopping trips as well.   There are also many Thousand Trails and Oregon state parks to travel to for getaways in Oregon.  This Skp co-op is on I-5 south of Eugene  and just north of Roseburg.

 You probably noticed that our site looks a little bare from the above photos.  Each site comes with full-hook-ups, a shed, and a concrete patio. Park leaseholders manage and run the park, with only a few employees. Leaseholder committees and volunteer groups do much of the maintenance and daily work in the park.

 A bare site will more than likely be our first site.  They tend to be a transit site and are often on the list for travelers to rent for short periods of time since their owners are still on the road or in this case they are still working and have a house.  We can trade to a more developed or better-located site as soon as one becomes available that others do not want.  We will be at the bottom of the trading list that is based on how long the leaseholder has been in this park.    
A family of turkey come for a visit

I'm already scoping out other people's developed sites, taking mental notes of what I like about their landscaping.  
One tired cat
Tired Dusty

The sites on either side of us have gardens and patios.  I really like the site with Gert the Goat.  The owner has kept her area simple and yet cool and inviting with bark instead of rocks, plenty of plants/flowers, and a wood deck.  We know her site is kitty-approved because ours keep going over for visits. 
On The Cutting Board

I'm still focusing on getting my SW quilt done.  No side distractions!  I'm so proud of myself.  Usually, by this time, I have started two new projects.  It is a slow process and of course, my mistakes are slowing me down especially when I discovered one major mistake that included a lot of ripping out seams. 
Wrong order - dark alternate block in the center

In my last post, I showed my first finished row (above).  All blocks quilted with front and back seams sewed together.  I realized my mistake when I started my second row.  I had my alternate blocks in the wrong order!  After separating the blocks, I used our bed to layout the whole quilt in the correct order and number the rows.  This became quite a challenge with cats wanting to help by rearranging my work.
Correct layout - dark alternate first

My next problem was backing.  I had bought this fabric backing for a different quilt top for our bed.  The old quilt top wasn't going to be big enough for the bed in our new coach.  I'm happy to say that I had just enough to cover all the blocks with a 4x18 inch piece left!  Whew!  
Basting Hummingbird block

I decided to sandwich then baste all the blocks and stack them all in the correct order.  Now I have this huge pile of blocks sitting in the living room.  
All blocks sandwiched and basted

It does keep me motivated to get them all quilted! 

I'm quilting each block in the correct order and I plan to wait until the blocks are done before I start sewing them together.
Hand design for center quilting

Most of the quilting is in the ditch.  For non-quilters - I am quilting close to the seams.  I'm keeping the sashing designs simple for fast and easy work.
Second alternate block
Alternate block

I'm feeling better about my work-in-progress!  I'm halfway through the pile.  With any luck and no more major setbacks, I hope to post photos of the blocks sewed least a couple of rows.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Montana's June Snow (Bend, OR)

The last two days of June will be forever in our hearts. Our first great-grandson - Finley James Howard was born on 29 June 2020. 6.2 lbs 19 1/2 in long. 💓😍
Welcome, little one!
The next day, on 30 June, Dan and I celebrated our 45th anniversary with Thai food and a dessert of gelato ice cream in downtown Bend, OR.  Hard to believe we are great-grandparents to this cutie!
So what have we been doing for the past month?  We spent a month in Deer Lodge, MT.  We were ready to settle for a while after our long days of traveling from Texas.  It was so nice to see so much green and snow-capped mountains!
At the Indian Creek RV park's entrance
We were assigned a site in the far back corner near the highway with a truckstop behind us.  We rarely had neighbors.  Which was fine for us because we had a great view of the mountains and plenty of space for the cats to roam.
We thought it would be noisy being close to two high-trafficked areas, but it wasn't too bad.  The noise seemed muffled from both areas.  Only at night, I would hear a truck's generator running.  It reminded me more of a cat's purr making it easy for me to fall asleep. 
View from our bedroom window of mountain and truck stop to the right.
After our 14-day quarantine ended, we explored the small town by walking from the campground on a scenic nature trail that took us to a pond with a river otter living in the two bushes on the far side.  We tried to sneak up on him a couple of times to get a photo, but he was too fast for us.  It was still exciting to catch a glimpse of his head or a flick of his tail before he disappeared.
The trail also took us past several creeks flowing with crystal clear water...
One of many creeks/streams along the trail
Creek running through the town's residential area
 and past a large property with its own pond and pasture with a donkey, horses, and one heifer.
This became our favorite stop to take in the view and to watch the animals graze.
Hey!  I've seen you before, haven't I?
We talked to the owner one day while he was out feeding the horses a snack and getting one ready for a ride.  The donkey was staying close to his side as he walked around the pasture checking the horses.  The owner mentioned his donkey was getting old, but was friendly and loved hanging out with the horses.  
Have you seen my friend, Shrek?
He also told us that we were welcome to stop by and ride a horse because they needed the exercise.  It has been too long since I have been on a horse and had flashes of disasters that would happen if I was even able to get into a saddle so I just thanked him for the offer.
As we walked along the trail past this one tree, a Northern Flicker kept startling us by suddenly taking off just as we passed the tree.  After a couple of jump-starts to our hearts, we started looking for the bird as we approached the tree but we were having a hard time seeing him before he would fly off.  We thought it was just a favorite eating spot and he was moving around the tree to stay out of our sight before flying away.  Then we found a hole on the opposite side of the tree trunk.  As we got closer to the tree, we would look for the Flicker's head to peek out.  He (or she) must have gotten used to seeing us because he stopped flying away or maybe there were eggs to be protected and did not want to take the chance of leaving them alone.
On 5 June, we woke up to snow.  Big fluffy flakes!  By 10 am we had around 7 inches of snow and no power.  Having a generator really comes in handy at times since the power was out for most of the day.  We were very happy we had no travel plans for that day.  Dusty did not appreciate the snow and sulked most of the day.
Looking outside, it felt like Christmas in a winter wonderland!  We had to go for a walk.  The pond was overflowing and running down the trail.
The Canada Goose family was enjoying the snow day with a swim in the pond with their little ones.
The only thing sad was the damage the snow did to a lot of trees.  It was wet and very heavy causing branches to snap off.   Some of the campers found trees leaning heavily on the roof of their rigs and vehicles due to the limbs being heavy with snow.  One small trailer had almost disappeared under tree branches and snow.  Not quite sure how the owner got out of his door that morning.  The campground crew was quick to remove the damaged limbs and snow before it caused problems for the rigs.  By evening, most of the snow had melted.
Dan discovered these two sleeping together on the bed.  Dusty must have been extra tired to let Max put his leg on top of him.  I don't know what it is with Max and his hind leg lately.  He keeps trying to do that with me.  Nothing like waking up in the night with his leg across my head!  Yea, I don't think so!
Hitch was in a spunky mood during one of their outings.  He was rolling around in the grass while poking Dusty once in a while and making strange sounds.  The grass must have felt extra good after months of dirt and gravel in our previous sites.  I thought it was funny.  Dusty did not.😾
Dusty does have his happy moments and for the most part, is very gentle with the other two.  He loves it when one of us takes him for short walks.  He talks to us the whole time.  Before this photo was taken, he had been rolling around wanting a belly rub until Hitch showed.  Poor Dusty, sometimes I get the feeling he wishes he was an 'only' cat.😼
On The Cutting Board
My brother received his quilt last week.  He is quite happy with the finished quilt.
I decided to do simple machine quilting so I was able to finish the quilt quickly.  The freeform was a little shaky at times, but using the walking foot worked out great on the sashing, borders, and mountains.
I am down to one major project!  I have started my first quilt-as-you-go.  Our queen size Native Flair quilt.  Below is a photo I showed you a few months ago of the layout without the alternate blocks.
For those that are not quilters:  Each block is layered, basted,
and quilted before sewing the blocks together.  Unlike my brother's quilt above where the top is assembled before I layer the top with batting and backing for quilting.  After the block is quilted, I trim the batting so it will lie flat.  Then I sew the top layers together on the machine and use a slip-stitch to secure the two backings together
This is a learning process for me and one mistake I made was quilting too close to the edges.  I should have re-read the instructions before proceeding. I should have left a good 1/2 inch free of quilting stitches along the edges.
Now, I keep my little ruler and marking pen
nearby so I don't quilt too close to the edge.
This caused some major heartburn while making enough space for the machine's foot to sew the top layer together.  It came out a little lumpy and made it hard to keep the line straight.  I finally had to rip some of the quilting stitches out.  I'll have to go back and pin the loose stitches or rip them out and start over after I slip-stitch the backing together.
Here it is!  My first row is done and it is laying flat - thanks to lots of ripping and grumbling chant "I will not quilt past the 1/2 inch mark!😁  Only four more rows to go.  Sorry for the angle of the shot, but it's hard to get a good photo of something this long inside the coach.
Hitch supervised and approved of the first row, so time to start working on the next row.
Happy Quilting!

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