Klamath Falls not like Dad remembers it

dscn4052Many years ago, my parents visited Klamath Falls, Oregon. Dad wanted to check out the place where his mother, Clara, started her teaching career around 1912. He had heard stories of the one-room schoolhouse, of Native Americans coming to the door, of the farm family she lived with, of students who were bigger than she was and nearly as old. My father asked around and was given directions to the school. He and Mom visited the vacant schoolhouse and talked to a neighbor who shared lots of information about it. Dad tells this like it was last week, but it may have been 50 years ago. Klamath Falls has changed a bit.

I rolled into Klamath Falls around 2 p.m. after my explorations along Highway 58, detailed in Monday’s post. The rain had stopped, and the sun was out. I had traveled the last few miles along Upper Klamath Lake and looked forward to communing with nature in a smallish town. Uh, no. With more than 20,000 residents, it’s plenty big. Taking the downtown exit, I found myself in the midst of brick buildings, traffic and one-way streets. The 12-block Main Street gave way to newer buildings and an area that looked just like every other strip-mall-laden city of any size in the west. McDonald’s? Check. Dollar Tree? Check. Staples? Yep. Bi-Mart, Sizzler, Elmer’s, Dairy Queen? All there. Thick traffic with cars turning and darting in front of each other? Check. Holiday Inn Express up ahead. I checked in.

dscn4061On my two days in Klamath Falls, originally named Linkville when it was founded in 1967, I felt a duty to report to my dad what I saw. I toured the old downtown on foot, taking pictures. Except for the modern courthouse and city hall, most of the buildings were old, dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s etched in the brick and stucco above establishments that now housed thrift shops, lawyer’s offices, art galleries, etc. Quite a few buildings were vacant. The shops were trendy, but I saw plenty of pickups and local men in cowboy hats. Or, as the booklet from the visitor and convention bureau put it: “While there’s a flair for the Western in Klamath Falls, a whole new urban vibe is visibly underfoot.”

I guess I’m an urban vibe-er because one of my favorite stops was the coffee shop, A Leap of Taste, where I stopped to listen to music by a band of three guys and a woman about my age playing folk music. I drank designer tea and ate the best gluten-free oatmeal-raspberry pastry I ever tasted.  Around me, tattooed teens stared at their tablets and laptops, ignoring the musicians, and a young couple on the sofa bounced their baby to the beat.

img_20160907_161757732_hdrOther highlights: the Klamath County Museum—not your mother’s boring lineup of black and white photos but a fascinating collection of old appliances, cars, gas pumps, clothing, dioramas depicting the Indian wars and the Japanese internment at nearby Tulelake, and more, more, more. One wall showed pictures of the area’s old schools, including the one where Grandma Clara taught.

Down the road, I also stopped at the Favel Museum of Western Art and Native American Artifacts. Also wonderful. One of the featured artists, Michael Gibbons, is a friend who goes to my church. Small world.

Beyond that, I discovered Lake Ewauna and a bird sanctuary with herons, egrets, gulls and pelicans. Ah, nature. A large park there provides places to sit, sprawl, and relax. Just watch for the bird doody.

img_20160907_160903749_hdrI toured the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery. I love walking among old graves, imagining the lives of the people buried there. This cemetery is the resting place for lots of soldiers who fought in past wars. I had a heck of time finding the cemetery. I did the downtown loop five times, constantly fighting one-way streets that went the wrong way, before I rechecked the map and learned I was going the wrong way. I swear if I were Lewis and Clark, I would have ended up in Portugal.

In the new section of town, I skipped the chain stores and visited Basin Book Trader, a massive collection of used books for which locals trade their own used books. I scored three titles I would never have been able to afford or probably even find anywhere else.

Another delightful find: Nibbley’s Café. Bright and sunny, waitresses friendly, food delicious and served in huge portions. Many of the diners were seriously overweight. No wonder. Good thing I only had time to eat there once.

I don’t do the stuff the tourist guides boast about. I didn’t need to visit the Kla-Mo-Ya casino or one of the four golf courses in the area. I had already been to Crater Lake. I was definitely not zip-lining. But it’s all there for folks who like it. Drinking tea and listening to music is more my speed. But hey, in October, they have the Klamath Basin Potato Festival. I might be interested in that.

Soon my two days were up, and it was time to think seriously about heading south toward San Jose. Highway 58 turns into I-97 at Klamath Falls. Driving south, that would take me to Weed, California, where I could jump onto I-5 and take my usual route to Dad’s house, where I would tell him what I had seen in Klamath Falls. He would continue to see it the way he remembers it from many years ago.

Before San Jose, I had one more stop: Lava Beds National Monument, which I’ll talk about next time.

Ever been to Klamath Falls? Tell us about it.

 

Highway 58 detour worth every mile

img_20160906_101219591For 20 years, I’ve been driving back and forth from my home on the Oregon coast to San Jose, California, where my family lives. I usually take I-5, a straight shot inland, or, if there’s snow in the mountains, I take Highway 101 along the coast. See the same things, stop at the same places, no time for side trips, tempting as they are. It takes me about 13 hours.

This time was different. I scheduled in extra time for a vacation. Just outside Eugene, I left I-5 and headed southeast on Oregon Highway 58. I wanted to see some of the sights I’d seen in the winter on the train and take a little time for myself.  I wanted to see waterfalls and lakes. I wanted to hike in the high country. I wanted to sit by a river and write poetry. I wanted to see the tiny towns along the way and end up in Klamath Falls where my grandmother started her teaching career a little over a hundred years ago. So I did.

Everything published about Highway 58 emphasizes that it leads to Crater Lake, and yes, you can get there that way, but I had already seen Crater Lake several times. I was seeking new territory. Over the next few posts, I plan to share some of that country with you. Did it bother me to be a woman traveling alone? Maybe it should have, but no. I enjoyed my freedom.

Things didn’t start off great as I left home on Labor Day. It killed me to leave Annie, who is not a good traveler. Assuring her she’d have a great time with her dog sitter, “Auntie Jo,” did not keep her from following me around with her tail hanging low. Then I discovered the restaurant where I had my heart set on eating lunch–Eats & Treats in Philomath, so good–is not open on Mondays. So I forged on, taking a different route to Eugene, only to get miserably lost. Thank God for GPS. I ended up eating lunch at the kind of diner where they vacuum around your feet while the waitress hollers, “Whatcha gonna have?” The chicken tortilla soup with two chunks of chicken and four tortilla squares floating on top set my stomach on fire.

dscn4040But then I got out of the city and encountered the first of two covered bridges on this route. The Lowell Covered Bridge is located at the Dexter Reservoir. Ah! Water, trees, blue sky. Also a restroom. I took pictures of the bridge and sank onto a bench to stare at the lake. Now we were on vacation.

Down the road, I came to the Office Bridge. It has openings for both cars and pedestrians. Walk or drive through into a big park with covered picnic areas and hiking trails. I could have sat there and stared at the Willamette River flowing below forever. Note that the directions I got online were wrong. I kept looking for West Road. I think it was a typo. Simply take the Westfir exit off 58 and follow the signs for three miles. There’s a store and a resort there for those who want to stay a while.

img_20160905_154516584Having gotten a late start and gotten lost a couple times, I hadn’t really gotten far from Eugene, but that wasn’t the point. I spent the night in Oakridge, population 3,200. I toured the “downtown business district.” It was pretty quiet on the holiday. Everything was coated in dust from months of no rain. Relaxing at the Best Western (yes, they have one), I noticed the phone book: six yellow pages for business, 32 pages total. The phone book is published by the local newspaper, the Dead Mountain Echo, not a bad local weekly. Why would anybody stay here, I thought. But I learned it’s a hub for mountain bikers, of which there were plenty, and folks also make beer there. They even have a Keg and Cask festival in August. Being only two hours from Eugene if you don’t mess around, Oakridge has a small-town feel with access to big-city amenities.

At dinnertime, I was surprised to find a Mazatlan Mexican restaurant in town and even more surprised that the food was fabulous. Shame on me for stereotyping small towns.

In the morning, surprise! It was raining. What? I had all these hiking plans and this list of stops: hot spring, waterfalls, trails, lakes. Rain? The guy at the gas station was deliriously happy to see water coming out of the sky and hoped for lots more. Sure, but today? I get plenty of rain at home. Never mind, we Oregonians carry on.

Somehow I missed the McCreadie Hot Springs–darned online directions again–but I found the biggest waterfall. Cascading 286 feet, Salt Creek Falls is the second highest waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah being the highest. It was worth the wet walk. Oh my gosh. The trail took me along the creek until it suddenly fell off a ledge and there were the falls, so big, so white, falling deep into a canyon below. My camera can’t portray the way it made me feel. Deep breath.

From the waterfall, I started off on one of the many trails, but it was just too wet, and I feared I would slip and fall into the creek. Nobody knew where I was. Bad idea. Back on the road. Waldo Lake, Diamond Peak, the Willamette Pass Ski Resort, Crescent Lake, Odell Lake, the turnoff to Crater Lake, and finally Klamath Falls, where I pigged out on a Reuben sandwich at Elmer’s and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. Back in civilization again. But that’s another story. If you’re in the mood to wander, check out Highway 58. There are lots of trains, more waterfalls to see, campgrounds and picnic areas, and places to ski. (Bring chains in the winter.The Willamette Pass is over 5,000 feet.)

BTW, I hear truckers take it south to California because it’s faster than I-5. Not the way I did it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m eleven bears from my dad’s house

black-bear-2We call it “The Bear.” Stop and let your imagination wander for a minute. No, it’s a restaurant. The Black Bear Diner. Twenty years ago, it was started in 1999 in Mt. Shasta by Bruce “Sugar Bear” Dean and Bob “Papa Bear” Manley. Now the list of Black Bear diners fills a whole page—64 locations in eight states. We could measure trips in Black Bears. Eleven bears from my house on the Oregon coast to Dad’s house in San Jose, California.

What do they serve? Nuts and berries? Well, that, too. I’d rather eat one of their giant bear claw pastries. They’re as big as a baseball mitt but a lot tastier. They have the usual diner food: omelets, biscuits and gravy, Black Bear Benedicts, Mama Bear and Papa Bear burgers, Bigfoot chicken fried steak, etc. The kids’ menu is for Cubs. Naturally. There are even bear footprints on the plates and pictures of bears on the coffee mugs.

The Black Bear diners play on the idea that bears are cute and cuddly while those of us who live in bear country know bears are enormous animals with extremely long claws that they’re not afraid to use. Their long fur is probably not nearly as soft or as clean as it looks from afar.

Giant wooden bears carved by chainsaw artist Ray Schultz greet customers at the door of the Black Bear restaurants. Mom, Dad, baby bear. Sometimes there’s one on all fours that children (and childish adults like me) can sit on.

Signs continue the bear theme: Caution: Mama bear on duty. Bear with us—Please wait to be seated. Welcome to Camp Grin and Bear It. The menus are printed inside old-fashioned newspaper pages with actual stories from a long-ago year—I got 1937 last week. You can keep the menus if you want.

Bears eat big. Even the so-called smaller orders are huge. My meat loaf at the original Black Bear diner in Mt. Shasta last week would have lasted me three days at home. And my Reuben sandwich down the road in Willows was so big I needed a couple of those bears to help me eat it. It’s all good. Not spectacular but dependable, down-home comfort food served by friendly people in Black Bear tee shirts and suspenders who might just call you Sweetie or Honey.

The Bear is always crowded. Expect to wait in line for the little bear’s room while singing along to oldies playing over the speakers. In Willows, I found myself belting out “Aquarius” with the Fifth Dimension, then looked around and realized all the others in line were too young to remember that song and were probably thinking I was a little crazy. Too bad. Mama Bear can sing whatever she wants.

Don’t forget to hit the gift shop for a bear mug, T-shirt, water bottle or even a wooden bear to keep you company until next time.

No, the Bears didn’t pay me to write this, but I couldn’t resist.

My father offers stories for dessert

img_20160914_1740485941Meals with my dad, Ed Fagalde, are a slow process. It takes him forever to get ready to sit down, and if I’m not careful I’m halfway through eating before he’s finished adding condiments. Slow down, mustn’t rush, I tell myself. We’re going to be sitting here for a while. While I’m itching to check my phone or read a book, now it’s time to listen. Even at breakfast, when I’m still waking up, he stirs Sweet n Low into his coffee, clears his throat, and begins to talk. He’s still talking 12 hours later over ice cream at The Country Inn restaurant and a few hours after that, standing in my doorway while I’m getting ready for bed.

I believe part of the reason I’m a writer is the fact that my father and his father before him were storytellers. While the stories go on, you don’t take notes; the teller would become self-conscious. No, you listen. You nod and react and ask the occasional question while the words flow like a waterfall that never runs out.

Some stories are of modern times, tales of a frustrating visit to the bank or a friend dropping by. With these, Dad gets times and places mixed up, forgets names, and does not understand the computer-based modern world, but the stories of the past are unmarred by his 94 years. Usually, I’ve heard them before, but there are always new details. For example, the ranch house where Dad grew up was not always on the spot where I remember it. The house was moved from another location, with a new room and a porch added. I had no idea.

He’s surprised that I remember that house. I was 9 in 1961 when  Grandpa retired as foreman of the Dorrance ranch and moved to Seacliff Beach. I’m amazed to realize I’m now almost the age that he was then.

I remember the  barn, the house, the patio, the fish pond, the chickens, the smell of prunes in the dehydrator. I feel as if I remember so much more because of Dad’s stories: the rabbit pens, the blackberries, the acres of prune, cherry and apricot trees, the multi-national crews who worked in the trees and the packing sheds, the horses that waited for Dad to come home from school and feed them the peelings from his mom’s apple pies.

I can’t remember all that. I was just a little girl in mary janes and ruffled socks sitting politely in the living room while the grownups talked. I remember a wood stove, an upright piano, lots of clocks, Dad’s stepmother Rachel’s dachshund Gretchen. I don’t remember my dad’s mother, Clara, at all, but her spirit was still in that house. Last week while visiting Dad, I learned that she never had a washing machine. She washed everything by hand with a scrub board until she got sick and started sending the clothes out to be laundered. Imagine how dirty those work clothes must have been.

I learned that my grandfather, Clarence, decided to retire because the ranch owners had started selling off chunks of land to housing developers and he could see the whole thing disappearing soon, like so many ranches in what was to become Silicon Valley. When my brother came to visit last weekend, we took a drive down Dry Creek Road past where the house used to be. Now there’s a million-dollar house on the site next to many other million-dollar houses, all beige and decorator-furnished. Dad still recognizes the winding road between Bascom and Meridian roads and the giant Sycamore that marks the site of the old driveway. In his mind, he can still see the orchards, the irrigation ditches, the tractors and the packing shed, but I just see these houses and a tree that sparks my imagination more than my memory.

Dad tells about the boxes piled up on the dry ground that became infested with bees. When Grandpa tried to move them, he suddenly ran to the water trough where they dipped the prunes and dove in, covered with bee stings. He swelled up all over, but healed without going to a doctor.

There were so many other stories: going to the “fights” with his dad, riding the water wagon with his grandfather in the days when men sprinkled the dirt roads to keep the dust down, riding his grandfather’s horses bareback down what became Meridian Road, dancing at the Balconades ballroom to the music of the Tony Passarelli Band.

He tells of signing up for the Army Air Corps, of training to be an airplane mechanic, of preparing to go overseas but not knowing where they’d be landing, of making an airstrip out of a road in Manila, of crashing at Leyte, of the guys he kept in touch with after the war. He tells the whole story of his career as an electrician, the different shops for which he worked, the jobs that stick in his mind, his long friendships with co-workers, his decision to retire.

He talks about his Fagalde grandparents, who owned a gas station and store at their home on Almaden Road near Branham Lane, along Almaden Creek. Grandma Lou, handy with a gun, always wanting to go shooting, Uncle Louie starting a business hauling gravel from the creek, Uncle Lloyd getting drunk and beat up, Grandpa Joe training his horses to come when he called their names.

My father talks and talks, as if he has to get it all out, has to tell me everything while he still has time. After he goes to bed, I make notes, trying to remember the details.

The stories go on and on. I feel like a bobble-head doll nodding as I listen. My eyes grow heavy with sleep and sometimes I nod off. When my brain screams stop, I push back my chair and start clearing the dishes. The talk temporarily peters out, but as soon as I sit down again, it continues. I fear the day when it stops for good. Meanwhile I do my best to soak it all in. I know what an important gift it is.

**************

Sorry I missed posting the last two weeks. No Wi-Fi at Dad’s house. But I had some adventures while I was gone and will share them in upcoming posts.

Do or did your parents share their stories with you? If they’re still around, ask questions. See what happens.

 

Enough with the charity calendars!

IMG_20160829_110205540[1]The pink invoice means my payment is late. But wait, it’s OPB, and I never promised to pay them anything. Second notice, my ass. And no, another decal or membership card is not going to make me pay up.

It’s just one of many ways non-profits and charities try to get my money. Most of them send gifts, such as:

  • Calendars, so many calendars, with pictures of birds, dogs, Oregon scenery, flowers, famous paintings, and random photographs. Big calendars, little calendars, tiny ones for my purse. Nobody needs 20 calendars, and I’d like to choose my own.
  • Mailing labels, millions of them, never quite as I would like my name and address to be printed but often with cute pictures so I use them.
  • Notepads. I don’t need any more notepads, and I feel guilty throwing unused paper away. Stop!
  • Decals I have no use for. Since the crash of 2015, my car is decal-free, and the filing cabinet on which I stick such things is full.
  • Greeting cards. I have more than anyone could ever use. These days, I send more animated e-cards than the paper kind. I keep promising myself I’ll start sending notes and cards, but it’s not happening.
  • Datebooks, calculators, flashlights, magnifying glasses, key fobs and pens, all from the National Federation of the Blind. Most of these are great, but now I have multiples which I can neither sell nor give away.

Although the law says we are under no obligation to fill the envelope that is always enclosed, the charities make it look like we owe them. They send notices that say, “Did you receive your calendar? Please respond with payment,” or “We still have not received payment for the greeting cards we sent you.” They’re counting on guilt to make us pay up, and sometimes it works.

Oh, and then there are pleas to hurry up and send a payment before this campaign or this matching opportunity ends. The Alzheimer’s and cancer people use this tactic a lot. The more they push, the less likely I am to give.

I do send checks sometimes if the “gift” is particularly enjoyable or I’m feeling generous. It’s not that I don’t care. But I’d much rather they stop sending crap I don’t need and spend that money on their charities. How many blind people could the federation help with the money they spent sending out that cool light-up magnifier last month? Stop sending junk, especially non-recyclable junk that’s going to end up in the landfill.

I worry about people like my dad. He doesn’t always understand that he doesn’t have to pay for this stuff. Confused at why he’s getting a bill, he will send letters, make phone calls and even visit in person trying to figure out how he suddenly owes them money. He will lose sleep and possibly cash. People shouldn’t have to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

When I receive mail in my mailbox or my post office box, I hope for something real, a letter, good news, a book I ordered, but mostly what I get is charity mail. I am not a wealthy philanthropist. When we get down to the end of the month and I’m calculating whether or not I can afford groceries, I’m not paying for a puppy-dog calendar.

Maybe I should start my own charity, Poor Poets of America. (They always have “national” or “America” in the name.) I’ll send people poems with envelopes enclosed for payment. I’ll send membership cards and mailing labels with pictures of poets who committed suicide. Yeah. Want to join me? I can’t wait for the cash to start rolling in.

What kind of junk mail do you get? Tell us about it in the comments.

The Magic of Tidying Up (aka The Satisfaction of Throwing Shit Out)

IMG_20160822_095957009[1]Tidy up your house and your tidy up your life. That’s the thesis of the book I’m reading now, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. At a writing workshop recently, the teacher made fun of the book, but I felt it calling to me at the bookstore, so I bought it and slurped it down like vanilla ice cream with chocolate on top.

Kondo is Japanese and young. The book has been translated into English. There are cultural differences and concepts I just cannot buy. I don’t think she understands how big a modern American house can be and how much stuff is in it. And how rarely Americans use the word “tidy.” But never mind. I like the idea of simplifying my space by keeping only what “sparks joy” and storing it so I’m not looking at my junk everywhere I turn.

She talks to her things, thanking them for their service, urging them to rest when she puts them in the drawer. She asks her house where things should go. My house doesn’t seem to have an opinion.

Kondo’s way of tidying up is radical. It amounts to discarding at least half of your possessions. You must do it all once, not a little at a time, or you will never get done. (I’ve noticed). You must pull everything out, handle each item, and ask if it sparks joy. If it does not, get rid of it. Not just if it’s useful or still good, but do you love it?

Only when you have discarded everything you don’t need should you think about how to store it. Kondo says, “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” Oh, how I know that. I have moved many times. As soon I pull everything out, I begin to realize just how much I have. Oh for the days when I could fit everything in a pickup truck.

Reading this book, I couldn’t wait to start tidying up. I began with my socks, a big mismatched mess. I threw away socks without partners, socks in bad shape, socks that I just hated and never wore. On Kondo’s direction, I rolled the rest like sushi rolls and set them in my drawer. I love it. Now I can find my blue socks, brown socks, and black socks easily. There are no loser socks anymore.

Moving on, I sorted and rolled up my underwear and my stockings, making a satisfying display. It got harder with nightgowns. If you never wear them, Kondo says they have to go. But wait, that one’s so pretty; if I ever have a gentleman companion again, I’d want to wear it. And that one’s so cute. . . .

If Kondo were here in my house, we’d end up screaming at each other. I was raised to use things up, to keep them if they were good, even if I didn’t love them. Never to waste anything. So now to say if it doesn’t spark joy, I need to throw it away? It cost money. It’s still good. I might use it.

It gets worse. Kondo prescribes getting rid of all paper. I repeat: ALL paper. Credit card statements, owners’ manuals, books you’ve already read—out with all of them. You don’t need them. But . . . .

Keepsakes? Keep the memories, get rid of the mug, the tote bag, the photograph, the ash tray your child made in first grade. Greeting cards? Out. It’s the only way you can process your past, she says. Hold on, Marie Kondo.

I like a tidy, uncluttered space. I have been trying to winnow down my possessions, knowing that someday I will probably move to a smaller home and will have to “downsize.” I know that after I die, somebody will get stuck with my stuff. But right now, I like my stuff. It’s easy to get rid of loser socks, but the last Christmas card with my mother’s signature? My wedding gown? Fred’s aquarium jacket with all his badges still attached? My financial records and notes for my books? Not yet.

It’s crazy that we’ve reached a point where we have acquired so much stuff we need a best-selling book to tell us how to sort it out so we can breathe in our own homes. And yet we keep buying more.

This book has more than 10,000 reviews, most of them five stars, on Amazon.com. On Goodreads, a site for booklovers, the reviews aren’t as good. As one writer says, “This book does not spark joy.” Okay, it’s goofy with its talking to things, and it assumes we can all afford to throw stuff away because we don’t love it, that we can always buy another one. But there’s a lot of wisdom in there, too.

My mother would agree with most of what Kondo says. She did not hold on to things. There was never any clutter in the house. She was always after me to clean up my room, especially my closet. She threatened to throw it all out if I didn’t. But hey, I’m a grownup now, and this is my shit. Hands off.

How about you? Are you ready to purge? Where do you get stuck?

There’s nothing like the love of a dog

Annie Feb14C

This week, I have decided to share a poem with you. The left side of the loveseat is mine. The rest belongs to Annie. Enjoy.

On the Green Love Seat

Come into the circle of my arms.

Lay your head upon my lap.

I will rub your belly and whisper

into your floppy velvet ears

that you’re my one true love.

 

Stretch your paw across my arm,

lick my fingers with your long pink tongue,

sniff me with your moist black nose,

fix your amber eyes on mine.

You are my one true love.

 

Let your nails chafe the worn upholstery,

your tan fur coat my clothes,

your fleas walk across my bathrobe.

I will hold you anyway

for you are my one true love.

 

When you whimper in your dreams,

I will hold you closer still,

safe in the circle of my arms

in the endless spinning of the earth.

You, dear friend, are my one true love.

 

Photos and text copyright 2016 Sue Fagalde Lick