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Visitors make me look around with new eyes

Out-of-town pals have, at long last, arrived in Rogue River for a little visit. Yahoo!

Thursday evening I popped in for a brief post-work, pre-weekend chat at Kat's and LP's riverside RV site.

Like any good "glad-you're-here!" greeter, I came bearing dessert: a pint of fresh, handmade, peach ice cream, a mason jar of fresh fruit toppings and a passel of shortbread cookies.

My peripatetic friends wound their way down my way through Washington after checking out Glacier National Park in Montana. The pair are still glowing about the park's beauty and overflowing with LP's favorite fruit: huckleberries. They upped my peachy greeting with gifts of their own — three types of huckleberry goodies — jam, syrup and honey cream.

Reciprocity. It's a good thing.

I don't know what it is about me and guests. But somehow knowing folks are coming by gets me peering at my very existence with a fresh set of peepers. My home, hearth and hometown all get a once-over in my mind's eye.

Sometimes the view isn't as lovely as I'd like.

The feel inside my little riverside cottage is homey and welcoming, or so I am told. Its 900 square feet are filled with oversized furniture and assorted gewgaws. These collectibles have meaning to me because I made them, traded another artist for them or inherited them. But no surface in my home is ready for the white-glove test. Cooking for friends is one of my favorite things. Dusting? Not so much.

Outside, I haven't done a very good job keeping up with the yard work since giving my gardener guy the ax. My plan was to save beaucoup bucks while gaining a sense of satisfaction from a job well done by the sweat of my own brow.

It turns out I detest manual labor. Even more sad is that my childhood friend, who swore he'd love to work in my garden in exchange for some home cooking, is goofy over a new love interest. I can only hope this chick travels a lot and can't boil water. Because my beau, The Englishman, refuses to ride to my rescue.

Meanwhile the roses are underfed and overgrown. The gophers got the lavender bushes; they're gray and crunchy. The lawn has brown patches; tall weedy stragglers dot its mottled expanse. Drat.

In other areas of my personal bailiwick, the view is decidedly rose-colored. For example, I unabashedly adore the little town of Rogue River. And they are spiffing things up quite nicely, thank you very much.

I'm a big fan of the colorful and exuberant Rooster Crow mural done by high school students at the town's entrance. I recently took an extra few minutes to marvel at our newest mural. The town's mural society hired local artist Bob Eding to paint a 450-square-foot historical mural on the side of the post office. The first of what they hope will be five more historical murals, they say. I wonder whether they'll all have roosters. I hope so. It's our claim to fame.

I love that this tiny little town is getting an influx of murals. I love that there is a budding Sunday market in the bank parking lot. And I will always love the memory of my late and oh-so-great friend, Hope Warren, rounding up folks to bail me out, literally.

In December 2005, a wall of water rose from the banks of the Rogue River and engulfed my yard, art studio and basement. There was no time to prepare, just a race to get my animals safely out as the swirling tide rushed across my boat launch and made its way to the front gate in less than an hour. Hope and her friends helped me deal with the aftermath. And I have a permanent afterglow from the memory.

Yes, I do know Rogue River is not Mayberry. I know they roll the sidewalks up well before dusk. I even know there are really bad folks, and awfully dumb folks, and even deadly combos of the two. For years I covered its ins and outs for two newspapers. But from the first moment I rolled into town in the summer of 1999, I was smitten. And I hope my friends are, too.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.