Archive for 2014

Fire & Wind

It was an interesting weekend.  Last Friday a fire started along the highway between Winthrop and Twisp.  Here is the official statement from Okanogan County Sheriff on the cause of what is now being called the Rising Eagle fire and is part of the Carlton Complex:

“A vehicle towing a trailer traveling west on Highway 20 out of Twisp got a flat tire on the trailer and when the rim hit the roadway it sent up sparks and started a fire in the brush which spread from Signal Hill Road, west over Rising Eagle Road, Hill Road and over to Wandling Road. The fire destroyed several residences and property. A number of structures destroyed should be coming out on Monday, (Aug. 4, 2014). The trailer in question has been impounded by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Natural Resources Investigators are investigating the fire.”

523 acres burned.  As of today, it is 100% contained and they are doing mop-up.  The count is 36 structures lost, 10 of which are residences.  All of this because someone got a flat tire on the highway.  We know at least one of the homeowners who were wiped out, and several others who had very close calls.

On Friday neither of was home for most of the day.  Once we figured out what was going on, and that it had spread to within 4 miles or so of us, we got home and starting packing the car & truck and moving some things off the deck and away from the house.  Fortunately there are all the resources here, and they were able to get all over it with firefighters and helicopters dropping water – otherwise who knows how far it would have gone.  By 8 pm it seemed to be more under control, so we stayed put.

The next day, Saturday, brought a freaky windstorm in the afternoon.  It got very dark and ominous, and then it was like someone turned on a switch and there were huge howling gusts, along with horizontal sheeting rain and thunder & lightning.  Trees came down all over our neighborhood, and one neighbor’s woodshed blew over.  Out in front, one of our favorite pines with 3 trunks would have gone down, except it hung up on the tree next to it.  Both of them were whipping around in the wind, and it would have come down right where we had the Airstream parked.  We went out in the storm, hitched it up, and moved it around in front of the shop building.  Later, because of damage to wires down at the Rising Eagle fire, and downed trees, the power went out and it was back to the generator.

windstorm leaner

Sunday was clean-up day.  Power didn’t come back on until the afternoon.  A lot of our neighbors had more, and bigger, trees down than we did.

Dropping & de-branching the leaner

Dropping & de-branching the leaner

One house up the Wolf Creek Rd from us had a big tree come down on the back corner of their house, and a huge one came down in their field by the river where they graze their Highland cattle.  We saw an irrigation wheel line that had been blown off the field and wrapped around a couple of telephone poles.

huge tree down in the field

huge tree down in the field

they couldn't find a calf that had been born a few days previous

they couldn’t find a calf that had been born a few days previous

Monday was reasonably uneventful.  It only brought this:

 OKANOGAN COUNTY, WA – A fire-damaged fiber cable has been detected during restoration efforts following the Carlton Complex fire.  At this time 911, local and long distance calling and Internet services are down in the Twisp and Winthop areas.   CenturyLink technicians are onsite splicing fiber. Service restoral is estimated to take place by 7 p.m. tonight.   This outage is a result of the Carlton Complex fire that swept through the area and burned cables in and around Mallot, Mazama, Okanogan, Omak, Oroville, Pateros, Twisp and Winthrop.

Internet came back this morning (Tuesday).  Driving down to Twisp this morning, we saw all the burned area above the highway, and also several houses with trees down on their roofs from the wind storm.

Maybe after this, I can post with pictures of the rugs I have been weaving!




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It has been about a month since I last wrote for the blog, and a lot has happened here.  Namely, a huge wildfire swept through the lower valley down to the Columbia River, east and north into the Okanogan Valley, and south towards Chelan.  We live in an area that was never threatened, but when the main transmission line into the valley burned along a 4-mile stretch of Highway 20, the entire valley was without power for a little over a week.  Our internet service provider, Methownet, went down along with the power outage.  Fortunately, I have cellular data for my iPad (with Verizon, which usually had service despite some challenges, unlike AT&T which was non-existent for its customers).  So I was able to get news from the internet, and send out emails (using my Gmail account) to family and friends as events unfolded.

Taken from our house on July 16 as the northern part of the fire started to blow up

Taken from our house on July 16 as the northern part of the fire started to blow up

Since I was able to keep in touch, I don’t want to re-hash everything here, but thought I would fill in my wider readership and also put some links and photos up.  I have had a hard time getting started on this, and will try to keep it simple.

The fires started with lightning strikes on Monday July 14.  It was extremely hot that week, up to 105F (40C) with strong southeasterly winds.  The worst day was Thursday July 17.  According to the Methow Valley News, almost half of the nearly 400 square miles that have burned were consumed in a 9-hour period that day.  It swept down the lower valley and onto the town of Pateros, which is where the Methow River flows into the Columbia River.  A lot of people lost their homes that day, and the power line to the valley was de-energized when they could not save it from the fire.  That line comes over Loup Loup pass between the Methow and Okanogan valleys.

Here is a very interesting fire progression map.  The link is to a PDF file.  Each color is a different day.  The large dark green area is July 17th.

CarltonComplex fire progression 072714r

We used to live up Benson Creek, which is a small side valley between Twisp and Carlton, running up to the east from Hwy 153.  We moved from there about 4 years ago and now live about 2 miles from Winthrop.  On July 17, the northern part of the fire burned south through Finley Canyon, then through the Wenner Lakes area which connects Finley Canyon to the top of the Benson Creek Valley.  We have friends who live just where that connecting draw comes out and they, of course, were evacuated – taking all their horses, dogs & cat, etc with them.

That evening, their daughter and her boyfriend drove up from Wenatchee and passed through Pateros just as the fire reached there.  She took video on 2 cell phones and later put together a YouTube video which I will share with you.  Note: she has the DATE wrong, it was actually Thursday July 17 (not July 14).  The first part is driving up the lower valley from Pateros to Benson Creek.  She talked the firefighters into letting her go up to her parents’ place and you can see the fires raging behind it in the Wenner Lakes draw.  Her parents’ place survived the night, but the neighbors immediately above them burned to the ground.  The next day they were up there defending the outbuildings from the fire, with the help of fire crews of course, and they did save their place.

Donni’s YouTube Video

Here is a picture taken by another friend whose home was barely saved up on Balky Hill, just NE of Twisp.  His comment:

Raleigh and my house was potentially headed for the ash pile when the cavalry came over the hill at the 11th hour & 59 minutes. I’ll never forget seeing this.  This was 1/4 mile from our house. On one side of fire retardant stripe it’s black for 25 miles to the Columbia River. On the other side, including our house, it’s like it was before the fire. Amazing! We feel grateful to have a house and sad for all that’s been lost.

DC-10 drop

On Monday July 21, Rick and I drove down to check on another friends’ place just north of Carlton, then drove up Benson Creek to check in with our friends there.  Here are a few pictures I took that day:

21 July Benson 3 21 July Benson 5 21 July Benson 7Through the efforts of fire crews and homeowners, all homes were saved except for the one noted above, and another up in the hills.  The ones up on or against the hillsides are surrounded with charred land, but the ones down on the main valley floor are pretty much as before, including our former home at 102 Benson Creek Rd.  It is between the road and the irrigated fields, and surrounded with a large green lawn (and also has non-flammable siding).  Lots of lessons to be learned here.

We haven’t driven down valley yet, or over the Loup.  For one thing, the fire is still very much not “out” and there are over 3000 fire personnel from all over the country here.  They are gaining on containment, but there are some problematic areas that could still blow up again, and it is hot and dry again this week.  We want to stay out of the way, and have no need to just go look at the burned areas.

Daily updates from Incident Management Teams :  Official Carlton Complex Fire Information

The unfolding story is recovery.  Maybe 300 homes lost, and lots of damage to infrastructure and farming and ranching losses.  They have been inundated with goods donations, which is wonderful but is now getting to be overwhelming.  They are asking for NO MORE GOODS donations… what is needed is money to funds and agencies who will be helping folks with long-term recovery.  Please consider the following:

Community Foundation of North Central Washington Fire Relief Fund

Room One (in Twisp)

And by the way – the whole Methow Valley is not burned up!!  It is just as beautiful as ever up here, especially north of Twisp and on up to the North Cascades National Park.

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Airiel at the Beach

Here we are just north of Bandon, OR at Bullards Beach State Park. What a lovely park! We had a somewhat sketchy site at Rogue River (it’s hard to pick these online from a map), but we weren’t there a lot and it was fine, really. We brought our folding bikes and there is a great bike path up to the town of Rogue River, about 5-6 miles round trip, so we rode every day for 4 days. We also rode around all the other camping loops and made notes as to which sites to try to reserve for the next visit.

Here at Bullards Beach SP, all the sites are much more private with hedges and trees between you and your neighbors. It was still a sunny day yesterday and we rode our bikes out to the lighthouse at the entrance to the Coquille River, about 6 miles round trip from the campground. By evening a heavy mist was blowing in, but we were able to cook and eat outside and sit by the campfire.

This morning we awoke to rain on the roof, and it has been raining all day. Apparently this is the first real rain they have had in a month. We ditched plans to walk the beach, and headed out in the truck to explore Coos Bay and towns to the north.

In Coos Bay we stopped at the first big antique mall where Rick found a lot of very cool and collectible, but definitely not affordable, old woodworking tools. Next door was a yarn shop. What do you know.

So I go into the yarn shop and start poking around, turn the corner, and there is an old friend of mine from the early days of the Seattle Knitters’ Guild in the mid-80’s! She used to work at Weaving Works in Seattle, but has been a yarn rep for the last 14 years – her territory is Washington and Oregon, and she represents about a half dozen yarn companies. So she is on the road a lot, visiting yarn stores and taking wholesale orders. I haven’t seen her in years, so it was really amazing to just run into her in Coos Bay, OR!

And then there is the yarn shop – called “My Yarn Shop”. My friend told me it may be the biggest yarn shop on the west coast, and she had an amazing inventory, all in rather a jumble, but what a selection! My credit card did not escape without some damage.



We met up with my friend down in Bandon for a very nice dinner at Alorro Wine Bar – highly recommended.

Tomorrow we are off north to the Willamette Valley, with a fridge well stocked with shucked oysters, Kumamoto oysters in the shell. fresh king salmon that had just come off the boat 2 hours before we bought it, and some perch. We are having guests for dinner tomorrow night (longtime friends from Vancouver WA/Portland OR) and we will be having our own little seafood fest for a couple of days.

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A Wedding Day

One of our main reasons for this trip was to be at the wedding of our granddaughter April. It was held at a lovely little county park out beyond Jacksonville, OR on a perfect, warm day with cooling breezes. Grandson Brandon, who is executive chef at a restaurant in Ashland, catered the lunch that followed the ceremony. We got to meet even more members of the extended family, and had a great time.





We are staying on for a few days for more time with the family, and to see our longtime friends who live in Ashland. Then on to the Oregon coast!

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Airiel on the Road

Last week we were sitting at the table eating dinner and talking about the upcoming trip, and a name for “the trailer” just came to Rick – “Airiel”. We both knew immediately it was right. Maybe now that she is all cleaned up and feeling like home, it was time.

Anyway, we are settled in at Valley of the Rogue State Park north of Medford, OR, and saw some beautiful scenery on the way down here the last couple of days.

I am trying out some blogging apps for my iPad so I can include pictures. A new challenge!

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The Final Wrap-Up

I finished the “Handspun Wrap” project last week, and have taken that set-up off the loom.  I’ll be moving on to rug weaving when we get back from our trip to Oregon.

Below is the 7th one, spun from a roving from Taylored Fibers in Quilcene again – a wool and alpaca blend that was white, brown and black.  I knew I didn’t have enough of it so I once again had to spin up some more yarn!  Last year I combined a fine, very crimpy black wool fleece (that I had gotten from Island Fibers on Lopez Island at a spinning camp on Orcas several years back) with some beautiful cinnamon colored alpaca fleece I bought at the ANWG conference in Bellingham last June.  The black wool was from a sheep named “Burt” who I think was a bit of a mongrel.  The alpaca’s name was Potsdam – I just love knowing the names of the animals whose fleece I am spinning.

I sent them off to Morro Fleece Works, a custom carding business that I have been using on occasion.  I knew they would do a good job with these finer fibers, and it came back as a lovely roving, about 30% alpaca and 70% fine wool.  Overall it is a dark cinnamon bark color and I have a lot of it – spun up some for this shawl, and have plenty more for a sweater and maybe something else as well.

Suede warp with tweed and cinnamon alpaca/wool

Suede warp with tweed and cinnamon alpaca/wool

For the 8th and supposedly final one I used some yarn I spun years ago – 30% qiviut (musk ox down), the rest unspecified wool – a light warm gray color, and very soft and springy.  It was not as heavy/thick as the other yarns I have been using for these shawls, so once again I wasn’t sure I had enough, and I thought it would be nice to have a slightly contrasting border.  So I spun up some baby camel & silk roving to use for that.  I am pretty happy with this shawl, which I am hoping to keep, except the camel/silk yarn had a lot less elasticity than the qiviut yarn, so the borders are somewhat wider than the body of the shawl.

Black warp with 30% quiviut and baby camel/silf

Black warp with 30% qiviut and baby camel/silk yarns

Then just as I was getting ready to take the last warp off the loom, I realized this was the perfect time to do something with a warp I have had for a couple of years.  Our guild does a fiber exchange each April, by drawing numbers and opening “mystery packages” (you can also take something away from someone else).  One year I got a prepared hand-spun wool warp in my package from one of our members who spins most of the yarn she uses for blankets.  I mean it was all wound, with a cross and everything!  It had slightly fewer ends than the warps I have been using, but I only had to take off 8 on each side and the pattern was still balanced.  So I tied it on in front and pulled it back onto the sectional beam through the reed and heddles.  Then I pulled out some handpaint mohair boucle from New Zealand that I used to get from Fiber Trends, to use for the weft.

And here is the result!  Shawl/wrap #9 and now I am truly done with these.

Lucy's hand-spun warp with handpaint mohair boucle

Lucy’s hand-spun warp with handpaint mohair boucle

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Fawn Season

We have seen these 2 brand new ones in the yard the last couple of days.  There’s not much else to say – just wanted to share!

fawns 1

fawns 2

fawns 3

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