Saturday, December 24, 2011


Well, we’re back home again, vacation over and back to the grindstone!
Everything in the RV looks so midget size compared to the house we were just in! I opened the dishwasher and couldn’t help but think: “awh, how cute!”
It’s nice to be back though. Being able to find things right away again, I mean, in how many places can things be around here after all, and we missed our ‘own’ festive Christmas decorations.

Merlin went straight to bed, his own little fuzzy one, and Sadie climbed on ‘her’ couch and let out a deep sigh. No more sharing of attention and defending your toys against a strange cat and dog!

Before we left we toured the neighborhood one evening to look for Christmas lights. It’s a beautiful area during the daytime with very nice houses and pretty yards but wait until you see what happens when it gets dark during this time of the year!
People come from around Newberg to see it.

I finally got around to use Picasa to create this picture collage (thanks again for your help on this
Judy! Now if I only could 'live writer' to work!) ).
Now Doug is back again, the office is also back in ‘full’ swing.
Normally it is kind of quiet around this time but apparently not this year (just my luck)! What doesn’t help off course is that ‘log-me-in’, the computer program we set up so I would be able to work from the RV,  has some major glitches, the printer doesn’t work and, oh yea, the Internet of the Park is slower than molasses!
Add to that that I’m still pretty slow in getting things done so needless to say things are a little hectic for me. I’m swimming as fast as I can but am close to drowning at times!
Hopefully next week we’re ‘caught up’ and I will be able to catch my breath.

This is my ‘sweat-house’!

James recuperated enough from his cold so he could get Doug’s waterfall working in the backyard last week. It needs some more work and some nice planting around it but it’s a pretty good ‘fall’ with lots of water and nice sound effects.

It has been quite cold again; a few days ago we woke up to a ‘winter-wonder-land’ after a night of
26 F!
Very 'Christmassy' but the heater goes non-stop so the utility bill probably won’t be pretty this month!
The water line froze but the water in the tanks never does so we’re doing fine.

Oh, I forgot to mention, Katie finally delivered a healthy baby girl. Unfortunately a week overdue and per caesarian but all is well now and that is the most important thing. I bet they’ll have the best Christmas ever!


Also, the ‘dutchies’ are back! Remember the Dutch guy (Gertjan) and his Mam I talked about a while ago who was looking to buy a farm but couldn’t get a visa and had to go back to Holland since his tourist-visa expired. Well, he’s back and here to stay (for a while) after getting a visa for a year in Amsterdam at the American consulate!
I’ve never seen a guy so happy, he’s practically floating and back at looking at farms to buy and rental places to stay in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Twin Trees in Fog (© Kerik Kouklis)

The fog just didn’t want to lift this week. It started very heavy in the mornings and basically stayed of a pea soup consistency all day.
Everything was wet and grey and it was very cold on top of that. ‘Water-cold’ we say in Holland, the sort of cold that chills you to the marrow. You know!

I brought out my hand knitted socks, my warmest and made a promise to myself to finally try to finish another pair that I’m already working on for a year or so.
’Needle-ss’ to say, I’m not the worlds fastest knitter!
I’m knitting both socks at the same time from the toe up on 2 circular needles, something I taught myself to do with instructions from an e-book I bought.
Since I don’t do it often enough I still need the book but the socks come out great! I like the little circles in these cuffs!

These are definitely days to curl up with a good book and a nice pot of tea!
Maybe you remember that I used to have an enormous amount of books and that I sold them all (it still hurts a little) when we were ‘downsizing’.
That Christmas James got me a NOOK which now is my prize possession!
I wanted the Nook for it’s ability to download e-books from the library to save money on buying any since I cannot store or display them any more.
I still have a valid library card from San Bernardino which is a huge county and therefore has lots of e-books and I also found out that the Houston Library sends you a free card if you live in Texas! Since we have our mailing address through Escapees in Livingston I applied and they sent it right away, you don’t need to pick it up in person. Here in Dayton I seem to be able to get one too if I can show them some mail that was delivered to the campsite.
All those cards give me access to their on-line libraries where you can download 5 books at a time and than read them for 2 weeks max after which they just ‘disappear’ from your reader. Some libraries have a huge selection and some are just ‘getting into it’ so the more cards you can get from the larger libraries the better your selection will be.

One other thing I like about a reader is that you can read in the dark! No more fumbling with book-lights or lamps in general which keep James from sleeping.

Since Doug took his family on a cruise for 10 days we moved into his house on Thursday to take care of his dog Bentley and their cat Mercedes. After some initial hissing fits all animals seem to get along fine, there sure is enough space for all of them!
It’s like a vacation for us too; the house feels huge after living in the RV for so long! And those kitchen counters!
We also don’t have to commute to work for a while which is very convenient. James steps out of the backdoor right onto the job site and I don’t even have to leave the house since the office is upstairs.

James got a bad cold over the weekend; I stay away from him as much as possible because it doesn’t look like he’s having fun, which is also much easier to do here than in the RV!
He’s working on placing rocks for the waterfall and steps to the upper tiers in the yard which turns out to be not the easiest of jobs. They’re big rocks and weigh a ton! Fortunately he has a worker since a week or two, Adam, who comes in 2 days a week, but even for the two of them it’s a hack of a job. They’re totally worn out at the end of the day!

I’m in charge of the office now, not that there’s anything happening this week while Doug is gone, but Katie is officially on maternity leave now so I am it!
Speaking of that, her due date is today, I hope she’s OK since I haven’t heard anything yet!

Monday, December 5, 2011

After 10 days of rain they’re now predicting 10 dry and sunny days in a row! Sounds good to us!
It does get a lot colder again though with these clear nights which means we have frozen car windows in the morning and pretty frosty grass.

So far no frozen roads yet but it can be very foggy until around 11 am so we're taken it easy on our daily commute to Newberg.
James works on a pergola in Dougs yard, part of which will be covered.  He put up some massive beams after making a decorative cut at the ends.

It’s time to bring out the Christmas decorations and we hang a string of colored lights on the awning.

We get some Christmas music going to get in the ‘spirit’,  decorate our tiny (but cute) Christmas tree and hang some garlands on the trim around the slides.

Voila, Christmas has arrived, time for some (spiked) eggnog!
We have some freshly baked speculaas with it. This is a special dutch treat that’s eaten on the 5th of December when we celebrate Sinterklaas!

On the evening of the 5th, Saint Nicolas, who was a spanish bishop in real life and has his birthday on this day, is supposed to drop of a (jute) bag of candy and presents at the homes of kids who have been good (where have I heard that concept before?).
He comes with his helpers, black Petes, and if you were bad, they'll put you in that same bag and take you with them to Spain! Enough to give any child a trauma for life! I mean, who comes up with this stuff?
Anywho, the candies and cookies are good and I never got into that bag so it's nice to remember the good old days when that was basically all you had to worry about.

Traditionally a hearty soup or stew is eaten on the same evening to offset all the sugar that you're going to overdose on later that night so I made a nice pea soup, 'snert', we call it in Holland, in my crockpot.

Over the weekend James re-organized his 'office' again and got rid of more files and a colour printer that we never use.
We also set up our computer so that we can access the one in Dougs office to enable me to work 'from home'. Sweet!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Boy, did we get wet last week! The mountains had their first snow down to 3000' and we had some frost again during the night.
In the middle of this picture you see, if you look very carefully, a snow covered Mount Hood as we can see it in the distance from our RV site.
So far the water hose has not frozen yet but we swung by Lowes and bought some pipe insulation to wrap around it. Better safe than sorry!

We keep inventing new upgrades for the RV and this time we installed Plexiglas behind the screen front door with some Velcro. We allready changed the slide part of it out for a see-through one that we bought at Campingworld.
This way we can have the front door open, when it's not too cold, and let some light in, while it stays warm in the RV. Merlin likes it too; he can keep an eye on the neighborhood and be safe and comfortable inside.

He was attacked by a feral cat a few weeks ago. We found him up a tree a couple of spaces down looking very scared but besides some scrapes, bruises and scratches basically unharmed. He has been a very careful cat since than though.

Highlight of the week was off course Thanksgiving.  After watching the parade we gathered the dishes we had prepared, James' Moms overnight layered salad and an apple cranberry pie and went over to Doug where the complete Hess family had gathered.
We helped Brenda putting the finishing touch to some side dishes and Doug and James attacked the poor Turkey. Ah, yes, boys will be boys!



And the rest of us basically ate everything:

Baby Lincoln, about the size of the turkey, stole the show in his Thanksgiving outfit. I had a hard time not to 'gobble' him up!


After deserts we watched 'the' game. The room was about 50-50 divided in Dolphins and Cowboys but we managed to all keep civilized about it!

It was great to have a few days of. The weather decided to cooperate and we putzt a little around the RV and truck.
We went for our first 'wine tasting' at the Argyle Winery in Dundee. Great wines, very unusual and very expensive! I don't think I'd ever buy a $30-60 bottle of chardonnay!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Did you know that Oregon is amongst the world's largest exporters of hazelnuts? True! In 1989, the hazelnutbecame the official State nut (ha) of Oregon. In fact nearly 100 % of all the hazelnuts grown in the United States are grown in the Willamette Valley!
No wonder we are surrounded by 'filbert' orchards, as they are called here. They're ripe now and the trees display some nice collors.
They are harvested by using a machine called a harvester (really)  that sweeps the nuts into windrows and than vacuums them up. The harvester seperates the nuts from twigs and other debris after which they are dropped into wooden tote bins and shipped to be processed.

The rains have been coming down in earnest this week. With a little luck our RV might float if it comes down to that! The wind is up too, we're really rocking and rolling every now and than and I'm starting to get a litlle worried about the awning when a particular strong gust hits us.
It's getting cooler too and to save on electricity and gas we've started to add insolating window film on the inside of our single pane windows.
Normally we're very happy with the many windows we have but now we have to cover all 14 of them, most of them divided in 2 or as many as 6 smaller ones we start to have some regrets!
According to the instructions it's very simple to do and takes about 30 minutes per window but I don't think they're talking about the tiny ones with little round corners that you find in an RV, on top of having very little 'working space'. Manouvering a sticky film around trickers a few interesting explicits every now and than!
The top part is done. See the difference in 'tint'?

Lets just say: "It better be worth it"!
As you can see the film has a slightly bluish tint but according to the information on the box this will fade over time. It also says it will retain 55% 'winter-heat" and reject 70% of the sun's heat. Lets hope so!

In between the rain storms Sadie and I still manage to get our walks in although she doesn't seem to be too fond of her early morning ones anymore. Too cold and wet for her stiff 12 year old bones I guess.
Fortunately we stay warm and dry in the RV, no leaks sofar!

Most leaves are off by now. There are still some berries clinging onto some bushes and we came across this fuzzy guy one day. It's a 'Wooly Bear' caterpillar and is the larvae of the Isabella tiger moth. It starts to slow down in fall and will overwinter in fallen trees and bark. If you pick it up it will curl up and play dead.
As superstition goes, if a woolly bear's black bands are long, the coming winter will have harsh weather. However, the length of their black coloration actually depends on the amount of moisture they receive.

James is working at reorganizing Dougs garage and shed for the moment so he doesn't have to be out in the rain and cold.  He had me buy some long Johns for him last week because his legs got very cold after working outside all day!
I'm still being trained by Katie. It all finally starts to make some sense so I might be of some help after all!

The 18th marked our one year Anniversary of living in our RV. Bring on the champagne!
We're still enjoying it and have not (yet) killed each other, sofar, so good!

Monday, November 14, 2011

We've been really lucky with the dry weather until now.
We're almost halfway November as, finally, the first rain is starting to fall. According to James, who grew up around Portland, this is pretty much how it is going to stay from now on, grey and drizzling.
It doesn't sound very attractive but I guess I can do it for one winter. I know next year I'm going to be somewhere warm and that helps.

I don't know if it's the weather or something else but all of a sudden Sadie has developed a terrible itch and scratches herself practically non-stop.
My first thought has been hot spots but the spots are not very big or nasty and look more like a bumpy reddish rash that shows up randomly on her body. I google scabies/mites and do the "Pedal-Pinna reflex test but, luckely, come up negative.
All I can think off otherwise is (outside fleas which she definitely does not have) maybe some kind of a food allergy since we had to switch food twice now since leaving California because I can not get the food we used to give her. James brother gave us some special food he bought for his dog that developed allergies that he doesn't want to eat so we give it a try. She likes it but if it'll help?
In the meantime we treat the itch quite successfully with good ol' Gold Bond foot powder, recommended by some people and breeders on the web.

Last Saturday we visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum which is located in McMinnville only 5 minutes away from us.

A retired Boeing 747-100 sits atop the roof of one of the beautiful museum buildings.

This is an aviation and space museum which displays a number of military and civilian aircraft and spacecraft, most notably, the Howard Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose".

In March 1990, the Disney Corporation, which owned the Spruce Goose, announced that it was closing its exhibit located in Long Beach, California. The Aeroclub of Southern California was notified and they immediately began the search for a new home for the Spruce Goose. In 1992, the Evergreen Museum won the bid with a proposal to build a museum around the aircraft and feature it as a central exhibit.

This entire plane is made of wood! We were  absolutely blown away by its size!

The museum also offers a number of very interesting film presentations on the development and use of the air-and spacecraft, along with hands-on displays demonstrating various principles of avionics.

A smaller building has a seven story IMAX theater. A radio control air flight field is located behind the aviation center, near a group of Russian built armored vehicles, including two T-34/85s, a T-55 and two armored personnel carriers.

The space flight center holds a Titan II missile as its centerpiece, along with the SR-71 Blackbird.

Flight simulators for landing the space shuttle as well as for docking a Gemini capsule and performing a moon landing of the Lunar Excursion Module are visitor interactive.
We both made a serious ‘crash-landing’ in an attempt to set one down!

Although the price is rather steep we enjoyed the beautifully displayed planes. The buildings are immaculate and the grounds very tastefully designed.
Off course we didn’t miss the (free) wine tasting area with wines from the ‘Evergreen Vineyards’ that are surrounding, and are owned by, the museum.