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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

29 Years Ago Today

I remember this day well. There was over 10 inches of snow and an Arctic chill had our valley shivering in it's grasp.

Several hours of my morning were spent concentrating on an icicle growing towards the ground outside my living room window. I breathed a rhythmic chant of hee hee hee hee, hoo hoo hoo hoo. The hubby timed contractions.

Our middle daughter was anxious to make her debut.

During one excruciating contraction the water broke with an audible pop. It would have matched the sound made when Lou Ferrigno performs his infamous blow up of a hot water bottle . I provided a little extra thrill by splattering ambiotic fluid all over the bed and the wall.

The eyes of the student nurse (who was assigned to me for her maternity rotation) flew wide with astonishment and wonder. Later, she told me the same could be said of mine. I wonder if she has heard anything like that since. The OB nurse said it was a rare occurence.

I also immediately experienced bearing down pains and knew this baby was on it's way, no holds barred.

Today's maternity wards strap your belly up to all sorts of bells and whistles. Not so, then. Had they done that I'm sure we would have all been worried. This baby was being strangled by the umbilical cord as her head popped into the world.

"Don't push!" yelled my Obstetrician.

Natural childbirth, the unbearable urge to push, and the rush of unimaginable pain. At that point in time telling a woman to stop pushing is tantamount to telling someone not to have an epileptic seizure.

In an effort that took my entire being, I was able to control something - and the noose around her neck was cut and she slipped into the bright lights making all the right sounds and displaying all the colorful hue's expected.

Her daddy held her in his arms and I swear her eyes followed the sound of his voice. He said he would never ever forget what she looked like at that very moment.

In these many years I've had an occasion to ask him, "Do you remember what she looked like at that very moment."

He will pause in quiet reflection and his eyes will grow soft.

Yeah, baby girl, I think he remembers.

Happy Birthday Jen!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Strong but Gentle Lady

Three weeks ago, Ada passed from this earth, thus ending 97 years of a well-lived life that began on July 8, 1909 in Bertha Minn. 00000000000 (Ada as baby -->)

These past four years Ada has lived in her own little world. A world from which you could pull her out for a quiet greeting or a dimpled smile. However, not for long. She was happy in there.

Perhaps she was remembering the years that brought her to this place.

Her Papa moved the family to McCall, Washington when she was five. Her Uncle convinced them there was "gold" growing on the the hills in Eastern Washington. He was a wheat rancher and the yield was filling the coffers.

Unfortunately, Ada's papa made a poor choice, ended up with scabland, and was not able to support them. She would walk with her sisters down the railroad tracks and fill her apron with coal that had fallen from the passing trains so they could heat and cook in the little shack she shared with her parents and five siblings.

Her older brother was quite the fiddle player and she looked forward to Saturday nights when his little dance band would be invited to a local grange hall or school. Ada would dance until she fell asleep in a chair and wake up in the arms of one of the older kids on the way home.

After several years of barely surviving, the family moved to the west side of the Cascade Range that was much more like their Minnesota homeland. That was where she completed high school.

Ada was bright and motivated. "Normal School" and an opportunity to obtain a teaching certificate wooed Ada back to the East side where she completed her education at Cheney. (The school is now Eastern Washington University.)

A lovely young single woman was exactly what was required for a one-room schoolhouse in the small farming community of Prescott. Ada took the job and moved into a tiny teacher's cottage. She didn't expect that first year so many of her students would be close to her age. She handled it with grace.

Prescott was another community that enjoyed the impromptu Saturday night community dances. That is where she met Clarence, a local farm hand, and fell madly in love. Love was not an option in her teaching contract. **She'd signed a commitment on the dotted line to remain single.

However, she and her handsome beau snuck away the day after school was out and drove hours away to John Day, Oregon and wed. No one else knew of the pairing, so she returned to her teaching job that fall. On weekends, she would drive into the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, Washington to meet her Clarence. Living apart and meeting in secret kept their marriage under wraps for two years.

About this time, Clarence accepted an offer to join the growing work crew hired to build the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. Ada, having something under construction of her own, resigned her job and joined Clarence in the little boom town of Coulee City. Their daughter Dee was born. Two boys would follow.

Ada temporarily put aside her teaching career to stay at home with her kids. They remember the monthly camping trips where the "men" fished in the Sandpoil River. Ada would pack up their old car with household goods and be ready when Clarence got home from work. Away they would rattle until they found a spot to set up camp. She didn't have any camping equipment. She just made do.

Camp started out with a fire and a pot of beans that stewed the entire outing. Beans and biscuits for breakfast. Beans, fresh bread and potatoes for lunch. Beans, fresh trout, and a vegetable packed neatly in one of her boxes for dinner. She would take the kids into the hillside and pick wild strawberries that she served miraculously with whip cream after the other tins were cleaned up. They didn't know how she did it.

She returned to teaching when the kids grew older. After losing her dear Clarence in 1965 she felt there was nothing left for her in Coulee City, so she moved to Wenatchee. She taught school another 10 years there before retiring.

Ada loved to garden. She paid particular attention to her roses, which were gorgeous.

Ada loved to bake. Her grandchildren remembered her comfortable little house smelling like Apple Pie, which had perfect pastry that no other person could duplicate. A special day would end with her holding them close as she walked them to their perfectly laid out bed that smelled of floral sachet. She would always hum a little tune and sing the words, "dum de dum de dum."

Her loved ones all own a hand-made Ada original quilt. She taught her granddaughters to crochet and do needlepoint. Even though she was a perfectionist, the lessons were patient and loving. As adults, they now realize those were personal virtues she was attempting to instill in their young lives.

Ada was serious about her card games. A small table was always set up for a game of 'peck.' Dimes, nickels, or whatever change you had in your pocket would be the stakes. Her daughter Dee still has the winnings from the last game she was able to play with 'mom' those four or so years ago. It sits in a buffet drawer along with a very used deck of cards.

The great grandchildren only know her as a small and fragile woman with soft hands that stroked their heads with a glance of longing.

As we sat in the funeral home several weeks ago to say goodbye to the hubby's step grandmother I watched a little curly haired sprite sneak out of the mourner's room to stand beneath a lovely spray of roses. The little girl stretched up on her tippy toes, first to touch the red bud, then to pull it closer to her nose to take a sniff.

I imagined Ada would be smiling.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Support St Jude's Children Research !

MAKE A DONATION BY JUST COMMENTING!!!!!! It will only take you 30 seconds.

All you have to do is head over to Kelly's Pass The Torch before Saturday and leave one comment on her blog.

$1.00 will be donated by Empowering Youth Inc for each comment that is made on her post Linking for Dollars — $1 per comment.

It is that easy. Tell her I sent you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Your New Year's Resolutions

I picked up this silly quiz from Michele (The blogging Chicks Guru) It suggested she get a pet pony and get in shape with pilates. Mine are just downright ridiculous. That's what keeps us coming back to these stupid quizzes, isn't it? I hope you have better results than I did.

Your New Year's Resolutions

1) Get a pet hedgehog

2) Eat less onions

3) Travel to Korea

4) Study cannibal cultures

5) Get in shape with capoeira

A Superhero resigns ------------PamelArachnoid Rules

1st hint: It is catch and release
2nd hint: This is something Susan in VA would hold with fear and trepidation

Barngoddess guessed it.
It's to catch spiders.
But I have no plans to release those poor little house spiders outside into the freezing weather. That would be torture.

The Spiderman super hero hubby will no longer be required to catch those 8-legged monsters.

The hubby and I agreed not to share gifts for Christmas because we gave each other repairs on the garage door, the dryer, the water heater, and now my lovely hole in the head. (No. Insurance will be very careful what costs it covers on anything associated with aesthetics and extracted teeth. )

On Christmas Eve I opened this weird gift from the hubby. Do you know what it is? I laughed and inquired, "What the hey?"
Finally I found a very small printed set of instructions.

It is the hubby's way of saying he resigns his position and assigns his super powers over to me. I will be working on a name that will be delightfully descriptive of my new abilities and my fearless escapades.

Also, any arachnoid ideas for a moniker to match my super hero status will be appreciated.

(Ps. I bought him a skinny wallet. I know, I know, we agreed not buy gifts. However, he needs a flat wallet now that Christmas has had its way with him.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Columbia Gorge on December 25

Having to travel home on Christmas Day was a bummer.

Were some of the people on the highway heading somewhere to make merry, or were they going home like we had to do?

How about those truckers?

Some people don't celebrate Christmas so maybe it was just another day to work.

The wonderful beauty of the Columbia River Gorge is not cluttered with any kind of billboards. None. Oregon did one thing right.

PS. Check out Amanda and our our Friday night travel story.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Best Laid Plans of Christmas Mice and Men

UPDATE 12/23
All is well. But not something I will ever want to do again. I will keep you posted on the progress of a bone graft that was started --
Hoping that Amanda will share our travel story after the holiday and you will all pop in to her blog to read it.

In the meantime all of those who mentioned they have clinching problems please ask your dentist about a NTI Suppression Device.

Once more MERRY CHRISTMAS and all the other happys that people share this time of year.

This morning we were supposed to be merrily singing across Oregon to spend the Christmas weekend with two daughters. And wishing we could see the third daughter in California.

Instead: I am scheduled to see an oral surgeon.

The week was going to be busy already with just the usual year end rush at work. I had added to that a decision to create a calendar for one side of the family. Unfortunately for the hubby's half, I knew I didn't have time for a 2nd calendar.

Last Firday night I felt ill. The weekend was a loss. Initially I thought it was an attack of Fibro Myalgia. (Yes, I have it, and yes I control it with a wonderful supplement program of vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc.)

Then it occurred to me it was all in my head. To be more specific in my mouth.

Emergency visit to dentist, immediate referral to endodontist (an hour drive away), 3 hours of work there to be finally advised that the tooth was not to be saved. Stress clinching as I sleep had cracked my molar from three directions that met beneath the surface, not visible to eye or Xray.

The physical pain was doubled by my emotional pain. The hubby was in Seattle and I sat alone in a parking lot and wept while my car warmed.

I have been faithful to my teeth. I visit my dentist regularly. I brush and floss daily. My hygienist will hold my hand and probably weep with me when I see her for my semi-annual cleaning.

So what now? A bridge or an implant? I will find out.


Yesterday morning the snow looked like a fairy tale and then the horror story of freezing rain ended that quickly. I had the opportunity to wear my Yaktrax from the car park to work.

This morning it has been snowing again with flakes the size of quarters at 28 degrees. Unfortunately the weather man again predicts the nasty stuff coming followed by a warming trend.

I'm off to endure my first experience of a tooth extraction.

I may not be posting for a few days. I'm still hoping to be on the road early tomorrow morning. Looking forward to two days of smiles - even minus one pearly white.

A Merry Christmas to all of you. May you stay warm and safe. May your homes be Blessed with love, grace, thankfulness, and for those of you who wish for it .... S N O W.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Those Christmas Questions

This is The Christmas Tag of Joy from Marnie. She didn't provide a cheat sheet so I guess I will have to provide my own answers. I am under the microscope. Wiggling.

(1) Hot Chocolate or Egg Nog?
I'm not choosy. Whichever one you're pouring.
(2) Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I'm not sure. For years I've thought about hanging a "sold" tag around my neck and just lying around to find out if he wraps me.
(3) Colored Lights on tree/house or white?
On our tree Christmas Past, we have multi-colors. I've seen the total white effect and it is pretty, too.
(4) Do you hang mistletoe?
I have.. I didn't this year. That is because Vicki couldn't carry a shotgun and a ladder both.
(5) When you do put up your decorations?
I don't like to put up Christmas decorations. That means I have to take them down. Can I leave them up all year? That would solve two problems: taking them down this year and putting them up next year.
(6) What is your favorite holiday dish?
Oh Wow! - how much time do you have, and I don't think I've tasted them all, yet.
(7) Favorite Holiday memory?
Being a little girl- sitting in the dark living room with the Christmas lights plugged in and listening to the beat of my heart in time with Bing Crosby's Christmas album.
(8) When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't recall ever believing in Santa. That didn't stop me from standing behind the curtain with my face against the cold window pane watching for him. I still do that.
(9) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
As a child I always opened on Christmas Eve. With our own children we were subject to the firefighters schedule.
(10) How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
I still have all the little school ornaments that the kids made. We have a hodge podge of decorations, such as a little brass fire engine. The decorating direction we have been going in the past few years is crystal and glass. We have blown glass icicles and quite an assortment of other glass and crystal ornaments that reflect the lights through the room and off the little faces of grand kids, should we be so lucky to have them visit.
(11) Snow! Love it or Hate it?
It is snowing as I write this. I'm a snow voyeur.
(12) Can you ice skate?
In my younger years. Now I try not to skate. That is why I have snow tires and YakTrax.
(13) Do you remember your favorite gift?
When I was little I received a blond baby doll. It was the first toy of my very own, that wasn't a hand me down. My sister Trish got the red headed one.
(14) What's the most important thing?
I'm of the opinion that Christmas is a cultural thing in this country. Spending time with family is important to all of us. (And I am sorry for those of you who haven't the had the family connection. You're welcome to spend time with ours.) In my heart I have a place that knows the importance of the Gift of His Son.
(15) What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Sour Cream Raisin Pie. Don't knock it until you have tried it. A family tradition for as long as I can remember.
(16) What happened to #16?
(17) What Tops your tree?
We have an Angel. Of course it is still in the storage box this year.
(18) Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
I would love to be filthy rich and be able to shower everyone I love with "stuff." We have been told "money can't buy happiness." I would like the opportunity to prove the theory right or wrong. Anyway... back to the question. There is nothing more fun than watching the delight and excitement in a child's eyes when he or she opens a special present.
(19) What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Just sing. I'll like it.
(20) Candy Canes? Yuck or Yum.
Candy Canes are required. I prefer to hang them on the tree. My tummy wants chocolate fudge with nuts.

Most every blogger I read has shares this seasonal question and answer fun. If you have, thanks! If you haven't, let this be your opportunity. There are only four days left

(ps. I had to tweak this because my HTML was showing - and I have no reason to explain it except that blogger is messing with me)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Goober update

Several have asked about Goober.

My 4-year old granddaughter is home.

Just as they have done during past extreme asthma attacks, the doctors prescribed Prednizone (steroid) which is taken in a large initial dose. As a precaution she is taking Zithromax, an antibiotic. She was already using Singular and Xopenox ( an inhalant.)

Next week she should be weaned from the Prednizone, finished with her Zithromax and switched from Xopenox back to Albuteral, which is breathed through a machine, and Asthmacourt, an older but tried and true inhalant.

That's too much information, isn't it?

(You should have seen my spellchecker light up on those meds! ! !)

When I talked to her on the phone this evening, she was happy and enjoying being home with her brothers and sister.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Heather Goodman over at L'Chaim mentioned today that she had never seen an Angel.

"I've heard they're pretty scary warriors with the glory of the Lord accompanying them sometimes, which always inspires fear. Either that, or they come to tell you your pregnant. So I'm okay with not seeing them for now."

I giggled over the pregnant part of her statement.

Then I recalled the conversation I had with my sister Sandra earlier this week. This will be her first Christmas without her husband of nearly 44 years. This summer he died in her arms.

On Thursday, she was in the card aisle of the store looking for the ideal one for her two sons and daughter. Time slipped by quickly as she read the many choices. She wanted a card that conveyed something special to each of them, as she knew they would have an empty place in their heart this holiday season.

Finally! She found the one that had the perfect sentiment. The artistry gave her comfort and the words gave eloquence to the feelings she wished to share.

An agonizing pain pierced her heart when she realized that the card was from "mom and dad."

She stood, holding it close, for a long time, unable to move from the spot, her arms refusing to return the beautiful card to its slot. Her throat became constricted and tears began to tumble over her cheeks.

"Is there something I can do for you?" a soft voice penetrated her despair.

She mentally shook herself and turned to face a stranger, a woman, who was looking at her with question and concern.

'Uh..oh...OH!" Sandra responded, feeling totally exposed and raw. "I can't give this card to my children because . . . . because my husband died and . . . this is the wrong card."

The stranger's face softened with sympathy and love. She reached out and pulled my sister into her arms giving her unspoken permission to weep in the protection of her embrace. She quietly held my sister until her composure returned.

"Thank you for listening to me blubber on," was what my sister said when all was better.

"You are welcome, and I am so sorry for your loss," the stranger answered and said her goodbyes.

During her telling of this event I was feeling angry that I hadn't been there. My sister needed me and a stranger had to do my job.

”You know,” she went on, “a friend suggested that it was like meeting with an Angel.”

My guilt disappeared in an instant.

My sister required an Angel, and I think that is exactly what she got.



Couldn't help myself.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Thank Heavens, For Little Girls

Thank Heavens
For Little girls.
For Little Girls Get Bigger Everyday.

Thank heaven for little girls

They grow up in the most delightful way

Those little eyes so helpless and Appealing.

One day will flash and send you

crashin' thru the ceilin'

Thank heaven for little Girls

thank heaven for them alll

no matter where no matter who

For without them,

what would little boys do?

Thank heaven... thank heaven...

Thank heaven for little girls!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

So far away

Update early sunday. Doing better.

The past three days everything I have done has been shadowed with worry because my 4 year-old Goober is in the hospital with another severe asthma attack.

I come from a long line of grandma's who "take in worrying for a living." (A quote from my late mother.) However, this is more.

When Goober was not quite three, I tag teamed with my daughter Jen through a weekend in Intensive Care. I know what it is like to watch a small child's stomach muscles contract in desperate attempt to expand the diaphragm and pull air into the lungs. I remember the plea's of help that came only from her eyes because the rest of her body has relinquished control to allow all energy to focus on one more breath.

Then came the relief I felt when her first little smile begat a sweet request for a drink of water.

Last night my brother Tom called to check on Goober's progress. He shared some memories of his own asthmatic childhood. Our parents would often wrap him in a blanket formed into a tent over steaming hot water. He recalls receiving his first shot of epinephrine sometime in the late 1940's.

After our conversation ended, I thought of the asthmatic children in the past with lives cut short and of children in the present who have poor or no access to medical care in third world countries.

So, on this early Saturday morning, unable to rest, I woke with Goober on my heart and a prayer on my lips: for her, for other babies who share her affliction, and for their grandmas.

It was also a prayer of thanks.

I am thankful for Hospitals. I'm thankful for ER Doctors and for Pulmonologists. I'm thankful for Respiratory Therapists, for Nurses, and for all the other technicians. I'm thankful for the cooks, the custodians, the guards and the volunteers.

I'm so far away. Those people are there.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Going through the Motions

Do you ever feel like some days your brain and your body are disconnected?

At work we put the freshly brewed coffee into a carafe that keeps it thermos hot all day.

The other morning at work I poured coffee in a mug, added creamer, and went on with my business. Not long after that someone else went to get coffee.

Where was the coffee? It was no where to be seen.

Finally, someone looked in the fridge in the lunch room and EUREKA, there it was. Everyone laughed at and with me.

The laughter continued as each person admitted to their own distracted actions. The most common one was the early morning milk in the cupboard and cereal in the fridge. There were some other misplaced items that had people perplexed and amused.

However, we all agreed that our co-worker Dan won the prize for the strangest one of all.

He opened his fridge early one morning to discover his iron.

What have you put away where it didn't belong?

revealing comments

Stephanie I was mindlessly doing the end of the day straightening after the baby's bath, and I threw my glasses in the dirty close hamper.

BarnGoddess omg, iron in the fridge! once I put the magic sizing starch in the fridge when I was ironing......

swampwitch My comment is the very latest of things I put away where it didn't belong.I was so enthralled reading that you do silly things with coffee,too, I forgot where I was.

Kellie One time I found the jar of peanut butter in my laundry room cabinets. I think that might have been the work of a certain 4 year old, but i'm not sure.

Tiggerlane My cell phone has legs, I do believe. I find it in the strangest places. I actually found it in my oversized coffee cup one time - destroyed, of course

Vicki Once the cordless phone was lost. We could hear it ring but not find it. It was in the freezer next to the ice tray. ?? I told this to a lady once here at the shop, she had lost her keys (again). She said she had me beat. The day before her and her husband were in the kitchen, he opened the drawer to reach for a fork and there was a banana in there. They laughed and blamed each other. Neither remembered doing it.

Kathleen Marie Ha! Hubby recently found a bath towel in the fridge (no it was not mine) I have found the milk in the cupboard and to this day we all know 'The Ghost of Aunt Tilly did it!

Willowtree About a year ago I did something so regularly that I honestly started to get concerned. In the morning when I made coffee, I would grab the Coke instead of the milk. I would realise what I'd done only after the Coffee didn't go white, every time

local girl Remember when I wore 2 different shoes all day?

Pass the Torch I put the milk in the cupboard all the time.

Heather (Fumbling for Words) I haven't put any irons in the fridge. At least not YET.

Melissa Everybody in the military and their spouses have to carry a military ID card and it's in my back pocket right now. Mailing Christmas cards I mailed my ID card with the stack of cards. The postal worker who had to dig through the mail bin was not amused.

James Burnett I do have a habit (at least once a month) of misplacing the remote and finding later I've put it in the fridge, usually in the vegetable crisper. Not sure, but I think there may be something Freudian going on there.

Claudia last week, I put my wallet into someone else's photo bag. Talk about a brain fart!! but i'm always misplacing things!

Coffeypot I hate it when I am trying to find my glasses and then realize I have them on. Now how did that happen?

heather (Goodman) Man, be careful what you say on Pam's blog.

Matt Left his comment on the wrong blog ??

wolfbaby I am constantly losing my keys... i have found them in the ODDEST places...the lanundry, the door, yes looked all over the house and realized theyw ere still in the door from the night before.

Gday Pamela I missed place my Cordless home phone had to use my Mobile to Find it. I must have gone to the kitchen pantry to get something out and left the phone shut in the pantry

Robin Noooo, I've N E V E R done anything like that, contrary to you and all your readers....!

Biker Betty When not thinking, a few times I have been known to put refridgerated items in the food pantry. Once my youngest son actually caught me in the process of doing just that and now thinks his mom's a little weird, lol.

How about switching bedrooms and continually going back to the old one (e.g. after going the bathroom at night). :-) (that might be a problem if you had guests staying over..pam)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Santa Eats Bacon Beef & Cheddar, Too

Tuesday night dinner is often a brief encounter with the hubby at ARBYS. Usually he is heading home from a class he is teaching and I am on my way to Watercolor.

Schools out, but Arby's still in.

Tonight, as we sat and chatted over French Dip and Santa Fe Salad, I told the hubby that Karmyn had posted the story today about our 'Jammin' finding Santa Claus in July at a local Chinese Restaurant.

His reminiscing smile beamed across the table but his words were interrupted by a 3 year old rocket that launched from the booth next to us and flew passed us at the speed of..... well... the speed of a 3-year old.

Off he ran, around the condiment kiosk and directly to another booth where sat an elderly man with frosty white hair and beard. Beside the old gent sat a smiling lady in a odd knit cap and a kind face.

The little guy spread his legs in a bold stance with his hands clasped behind his back. He looked directly into the eyes of the old white haired man, and with a clear loud voice that penetrated the buzz of the other diners asked,

"Are you coming to my house?"

A confused scrunch of the old man's face prompted the woman to reach out and place her hand on his. She smiled a him first and then leaned towards the little guy.

"Have you been a good boy this year?" she responded so sweetly.

At that point the little boys voice lowered so I could no longer understand the conversation. Whatever transpired, however, made him hop happily back to his seat with his mother who had come to retrieve him.

The hubby and I were laughing with delight.

The hubby remarked that the scene had been one of the cutest things he'd ever witnessed.

When the child walked out the door holding his mothers hand, we watched Mr. Claus lean close to Mrs. Claus and heard him say in a very deep soft voice, "Ho Ho Ho.!"

(What were the chances we'd be talking about our Jammin and his Santa sighting, only to be an observer of another little child's discovery.)

A picture from my new cell phone of Santa.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sharing a Dream

There is a small town cuddled up to a cold mountain river, surrounded by the gateway hills to the Blues.

Back when we all celebrated Y2K, the town boasted a population of about 1,200 people. Since then it has become a bedroom community to our somewhat larger town and sharing the growing pains of the valley.

Homes and property are still more affordable there and twenty miles is not very far to drive, especially for someone coming from a large metropolitan area.

Those people from the big cities have been arriving and buying. They are finding an idyllic place where their dollars go father, peace and quiet are the norm, and they break away from the corporate handcuffs.

The hubby offered to take me "up" there to a new art gallery that one of the owners had invited him to visit. She and her husband, from the Los Angeles area, bought attached buildings on the "main" street of town. (I think the downtown area extends a whole five blocks.) They are both artists in different medium.

We parked and walked into a large spacious room that was nearly empty except for a few curiously intriguing art forms on the wall and one piece scattered on the floor.

An articulate and uptown thirty-something woman greeted us, as did her huge dog. They rescued the dog half-starved with bleeding paws along one of the state highways. She is going to be the gallery dog. She jumped up on me as do most dogs. If you've read previous posts you'll know that dogs like to get up close and personal with me.

In spite of it's clumsy puppy actions, the dog purposely avoided an unusual work of art that lay on the floor. In memory of her grandfather, the showcased artist had cut pieces from his favorite tree into hundreds of small round buttons with exceptional grain which were polished to a high sheen. They lay in a round heap that may or may not have been by design.

The couple is ambitious and plans to add a small restaurant.

While walking back to our car we noticed the building to the north. It said "Livery Stable Mall." We were there, why not check it out, too. We walked into an entirely different world.

Built in the early 1800's, its original purpose was combination Livery Stable and Blacksmith. The buildings function and appearance had changed through the many years. The new owner hoped to restore it.

Inside, recreated stalls displayed the work of independent artists and antique dealers. There was no wall space or floor space left empty. I had to turn "skinny" to move through the aisles.

The proprietor was, I'm certain, born and raised in this mountain valley. Years of hard outdoor work and maybe cigarettes had etched her face and left her voice raspy. She was what I call a WYSIWYG. (What you see is what you get.)

"Rumor has it that the upstairs was a brothel," she offered this tidbit and captured my imagination. "And, I believe it after seeing the #!#-awful wall paper up there."

There weren't any stairs, so it was not to be seen this day by me. There are, however, plans to open the second floor to the curious in the future.

We spent time but no money, then headed for home. As we drove through the frozen hills of rolling wheat stubble, I contemplated the two women and their business and personal styles. In spite of such apparent differences, I realized they were still much more alike than they appeared.

They share the pursuit of a dream. I hope they catch it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blogging Chicks Carnival of Laughter

The Blogging Chicks Carnival is being hosted this week by Rebecca at Of Making Many Books. The theme is Holiday Laughter, or Laughter in General.

Bwaaak Bwaaak Bwaak!!

We all need some extra smiles to remind us that this time of year is supposed to be fun.
Find some time on Sunday the 10th to kick back and share some belly laughs.

By the way, this carnival is open to everyone.

Santa's Clothes

My brother Mike loves to dress up as Santa each year and pass out gifts to good little boys and girls.

He practices the HO HO HO and attempts to disguise his voice so that no one will know it is him. He's done an excellent job, too.

One year when our middle daughter Jen was 4 or 5, she was beyond excited about Santa's visit. She clapped with delight and was so entranced that she couldn't even open the present that he handed her.

Her eyes were glued to him as he waved goodbye, called out to his reindeer, and disappeared out the back door.

It wasn't too long after that he quietly sneaked back in through a side door and rejoined the merrymaking.

Our daughter, nervous from all the excitement, needed to use the "potty" and her grandma offered to take her.

When they opened the bathroom door, there lie Santa's clothes in a heap on the floor. In his haste, my brother had forgotten them.

Jen looked up at her grandma with eyes as big as saucers and a mouth drawn open in surprise.

"Oh No, Grandma!" she declared. "Santa is Naked!"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

In remembrance of a man buried in the belly of a battleship.

His name was Victor Lawrence Jeans. Gram and Auntie Fern called him Cousin Lawrence.

He joined the US Navy and was on the USS ARIZONA that 7th day of December, 1941.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Six Weird/Odd Things plus a Squirrel Nut Cracker.

Swampwitch tagged me with a Meme (read hers) that is very similar to one I posted in October. At that time the request was five weird things. The new one circulating the sphere is now demanding that we admit to six. In truth, it would be quicker to name all six things about me that aren't weird. For the first five I'm going to send you back to my October 12 post where you will find yourself in awe of my irregularities. That was probably a poor choice of words.

So, drum roll please! Here comes number 6.

I can't tolerate having a suitcase on my bed. Do not put a suitcase on any of my chairs, either. A suitcase either belongs on a stand (butler?) or the floor. Think about all those filthy airplane bellies. I've watched through the wee windows of a jet and viewed them being thrown on the ground, on top of questionable shipping boxes, and exposed to whatever chemicals that get blown all over the tarmac from jet exhaust and baggage trams. I don't want to sleep with that stuff.

You MUST read more weird stuff at Pensieve, BarnGoddess, Marnie, Nessa, and Willowtree.

What was that Swampy.. you didn't tag WT? He was weird without any prompting from you. Oh alrighty, then.

Still waiting to hear weird stuff from Julie, Karmyn, and Susan who she also chanted over with her sacrificial anodes. (Swampy, what are sacrificial anodes?).

Update!!! Just realized that Julie, Karmyn and Susan did them in October, too. Willowtree did it in his old blog.

Hang on one moment before you link on, however, because I have another weird thing to share. I'm just throwing it in as a bonus.

We went to a little White Elephant Gift Exchange on Monday night, and this was what I brought home.

I nearly cried.

NOT because it was such an awful gift, but because of sweet nostalgia.

When I was a child my dad had something very much like this that was hooked to his work bench in the basement. He always bought a bag of mixed nuts at Christmas and I would run down there and crack them and fill my little cheeks like a . . . well, like a squirrel! They were so wonderful. My favorites were the pecans with the reddish brown shell. The bag would also have Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts.

A weird present, yes?

P.e.r.f.e.c.t for me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tami's Unscheduled Tailgate Party

When you read about the biggest tailgate party ever held in Seattle it seems like a nightmare from another place and time. That is, until you hear about it first hand from your sister in law who became a player in the scariest traveling day of her life.

Tami works just southeast of the Seattle city limits. Monday, November 27 was her day to work until 7 p.m. At 3 p.m., she stepped outside to view the sky after hearing radio reports of a rapid incoming snowstorm. As much as it snows in the towering Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges that surround the Puget Sound, it rarely falls in the I-5 corridor.

An uncomfortable shiver ran down Tami’s back which she realized had nothing to do with an imminent hot flash. It was something more malevolent.

“I’m going to cancel the remainder of my appointments and head home,” she announced to her co-workers upon her return. Tanya would have to do the same because they were carpool buddies.

The other clinic staff laughed off the usual “hysterical” response to snow and voted to stay at work. Tami reluctantly agreed to finish her schedule as well. It was a mistake.

At 7 p.m., Tanya and Tami struggled through a bone chilling whiteout to the car. The prospects of driving 28 miles in a blizzard frightened them. However, Tonya had a pre-teen waiting for her at home, alone.

“Do you suppose we’ll make it home by 10?” Tonya asked in a hopeful tone.

Tami responded with a not so optimistic sigh, “I think we will be lucky to make it home by midnight if this keeps up,”

With heater blowing full blast and windshield wipers at top speed, they began the first 2 ½-hour journey that took them on an 11 mile bumper to bumper slip and slide along I-405. Creeping across what Tami estimated was two inches of solid ice; they reached their I-5 connection at 9:30 p.m.

At the same time, the Monday night football fans were reaching this junction. There were cars, busses, and limousines with NFL banners and all the celebration that accompanies a victory. These mixed with snow, ice, wind and fender-benders. The shoulder of the highway was a graveyard of cars sidelined by minor crashes or empty gas tanks. Most off ramps were not accessible.

Tami was happy about two things: she had the foresight to fill her tank and the Seahawks triumph made the game travelers in better spirits.

“I was shaking like I had Parkinson’s disease because I was scared and my muscles were cramping from gripping my steering wheel and holding my foot on the brake.” Tami told me the next day.

“I couldn’t control my car!” she added in an exasperated tone.

Just sitting on a slightly banked curve would cause her car to slide into the next lane. Some of the people had 4-wheel drive and thought they should be able to move past the other cars.

“It just doesn’t work that way when your car starts skating directly into another cars path.” She laughs about it now but I could hear her leftover frustration.

“There is nothing you can do but roll down your window and scream for them to stay back. That’s what Tanya did each time my car began to slide.”

She was near hysteria, she added, when a limo driver rolled his window down and kindly gave her some tips that involved ‘neutral’ and ‘tapping breaks’. After following his valuable advice, she was steadier on the road.

The hours passed much faster than the miles. A number of Seahawks fans continued to honk and wave their banners. There was standing room only on the chartered buses. The lucky ones had on board toilets. She wondered how many other drivers were as painfully in need of a rest stop as they were.

A few minutes after 3 a.m. they arrived at Tanya’s house and to the young daughter to whom they had kept in contact by cell phone. They had traveled 28 miles in 8 hours… a little more than 3 miles per hour.

Tami stayed the morning although she was too keyed-up to sleep. The remaining 13 miles home would wait until that afternoon.

She said it is difficult to put into words the emotional turmoil of such an experience.

“I did learn something important, though!” Tami exclaimed. “I’m going to follow my intuition from this day forward.”

Some other links: Puget Sound Snow, KOMO Video.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


On Wednesday, Amanda expounded on the confusion one must encounter when he/she learns English as a second language. Her post is entitled Glish--nn-Eng. She makes up her own words all the time as an aspiring court recorder, so who knows where that one came from.

In my list of things "to do," besides Chasing a Tornado and Touching the Northern Lights, I had also penciled in 'Learn to Speak Spanish.'

I tried. I signed up for and attended three quarters of Spanish night classes offered at the local community college. Then I gave up.

Our teacher was wonderful and encouraged me and the other "adults" that shared the classroom. One evening she asked us to each stand and give a short description of our morning routine. Most of the other students were struggling worse than I. Consequently, none of them understand when I told them in my (ahem!) excellent Spanish that I had gone to the bathroom and then crawled out of bed. The teacher was happy to interpret, however. (I'll do better with the tornado.)

That is one of the reasons why I am impressed with people who learn a second language and have the courage to converse in it until they have it conquered.

I met a young man through a previous job who lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland. He wanted to travel in the U.S. on a limited budget. So, I invited him to stay with us and see the northwest. I also made arrangement for him to stay with my family and friends as he traveled through Washington, Oregon and California.

He was so heartfelt with his thanks and his goodbyes that I was about to cry. Then he said,

"Oh, Pamela! You have been so kind beyond what I should expect. I do not know how I will get my revenge."

I started giggling. He looked so alarmed that I giggled more. "I say something wrong?" he questioned. It was difficult for me to explain that one to him.

We were also blessed with the opportunity to host Japanese exchange students when our girls were going to high school. They only stayed two weeks. Four times we had young ladies, and once we had a young man.

One young lady understood and spoke better English than her friend, so she would try to help her along. Over lunch, the hubby asked them both what their plans were when they finished high school. Girl #1 replied that she would go to college. Girl #2 looked imploringly at the first, because she hadn't figured out the question yet. Girl #1 spoke briefly in their language which prompted Girl #2 to smile brightly and say, "I want to go shopping." The hubby and I would have ignored and moved on, but Girl #1 broke into fits of belly laughter that made us all join in.

Girl #2 was so embarrassed. She never wanted to speak again. We just wanted her to be happy, to talk, to make mistakes, and to let us be a part of how wonderful she was.

Our most memorable moment came, however, with the young man that stayed with us. He was not shy nor was he afraid to be heard from. I made dinner one evening and he literally spit the food out on his plate. When he saw five pairs of wide-eyes gazing at his action, he realized that it wasn't quite the thing to do.

So, after dinner, he came in to the kitchen apparently to make amends with me. He stood straight and proud with his hands behind his back and said, "Sex is Soon."

I pulled my dish washing gloves off my hand to give me a moment to gather my thoughts regarding his announcement. During this short evasion, 15 year-old Karmyn, squeezed behind me and in front of the kitchen sink. I could hear her alarmed whisper, "Did he say what I thought he said, mom?"

"What? Can you repeat that, please." I questioned.

"S e x is Soon." He repeated slower and with clear enunciation.

I patted him on the shoulder and told him to "please go get your Japanese - English dictionary."

He pulled it out from behind his back, opened the page, and handed it to me. I read the word to which he pointed and was much relieved. He wanted me to know, although he hadn't liked what I had fixed for dinner that night, he was sure that I would have

"Success, soon."

A Holiday Meal Favorite

Julie at Another Chance Ranch is hosting the Blogging Chicks Carnival of Holiday Recipes on Sunday.

Check it out - and send in your own traditional food as well. She didn't say it was open to everyone , but I should think all recipe favorites would be welcome.

In the past 10 years I have started a new tradition on Christmas Eve. It has been popular not only with my own family, but friends like to stop by and have a bowl, too. Give me a call and I'll save you a seat! Here is my CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP. (And I don't remember where I got it) The ingredients are highlighted for your list writing convenience.

2 lbs chicken breast

6 cups chicken broth

2 cloves garlic

1 large onion (I use Sweet Onions)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 whole bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the chicken, bay leaf, and broth in a soup pot and set on moderately high heat. The other ingredients can all be placed in a food processor and chopped up - then add immediately to the pot.

Once the stock comes to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.

While this is cooking blend the following ingredients in your food processor

1 can [4 oz] green chilies (I often put more than that. I love the flavor)
2 cloves garlic

Set aside

When the chicken is done, remove the breasts to cool. When they are cool enough you can cut or tear them into bite-size pieces. While they are cooling

Add the following to your soup pot

1 can [1lb] hominy with its liquid
and the chili/garlic mixture that is in your food processor

Simmer another 15 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pot, add salt to taste. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes (until chicken is reheated)

Remove the bay leaf

Add 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro.

Now you are ready to ladle soup into bowls. I garnish with tortilla chips and sliced avocado.

Cheese and scallions are other options for garnish.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Willowtree

The guy has all the moves.
(update, I'm thinking this is the Australian version of the Anniversary Waltz)

Always Three Things at Once!

Today I have two loads of laundry trying to dry out in various places around the house - because the gas dryer refuses to work.

Two weeks ago we had to replace some moving parts on our automatic garage door opener at some significant expense.
(number 1)

Then I noticed that the hot water wasn't quite getting hot anymore. The repairman found the problem which cost another pretty penny. A new hot water heater would be at least twice that amount. Let's hope this replacement part lasts a few more years.
(number 2)

Yes! Hot water again. I did two loads of laundry before I discovered that the dryer was turning but there was no heat.
(number 3)

I told the hubby that something must have happened when the gas was turned off to repair the hot water heater. The dryer was working just fine on Wednesday.

This is not the first time old Mr. "bad things happen in three's" has visited my house. I recall one set of three was the garbage disposal, the dishwasher and the vacuum.

Am I the only one afflicted with this weird phenomenon?

Perfect Post Award

If you look in my sidebar you will see that I was nominated by Kelly at Pass the Torch for a Perfect Post Award for November for the little story of when I was The Runaway.

What a wonderful suprise and a special gesture from a lovely lady.

Thank you Kelly!!

The Original Perfect Post Awards

To read the other nominations just link to Suburban Turmoil.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

30 Days of Sitting

Today will be the end of 30 days of creating a post every day. I discovered that it was a difficult task. So many hours I sat in front of my computer wondering what I could possibly write about.

Often I gazed about the room and contemplated the things that share my space.

If you sat at my computer desk in our family room, you would find many photographs on the wall, a few water colors, and some other items that would tell you more about me and my family.

Just above my monitor is a shelf that holds the Family Dog House. I remember when the kids were small, and how they thought they were being very clever when they would sneak in and move mom dog or dad dog into the hot seat.

On the wall to my left hangs a Seth Thomas submarine clock, compliments of the U.S. Navy.
You can see I forgot to wind it. It's stopped at 12:30. My husband always reminds me that when I wind it, I should take care not to do so to tightly. He can show you the perfect tension. Also, when setting the time you MUST ALWAYS go counter clockwise with the minute hand. I have followed those instructions for 30 years.

If you ever wonder what it's all about, I have the answer hanging directly above the clock. "Rushin to the office, rushin' out to eat"... you get the gist. It's supposed to remind me to slow down and enjoy my life. I need to hurry up and do that.

Not everyone has a brass hatchet framed on the wall. When the hubby retired from 26 years of firefighting, he received that instead of a gold watch. When he was a young fireman they weren't encouraged to wear rings or watches that could get caught in equipment and injure their hands and fingers. I don't know if that is still the case. But, in the event that your house catches fire, a handsome firefighter saves you from the 2nd story window, he isn't wearing a ring - don't assume he's eligible. I used to be awakened by all the sirens in the night. Not so anymore, now that he's safely tucked in with me at night.

The builder of this house placed the breaker box in the oddest place. When we moved in many years ago it was covered by over sized drapes. They not only hid the box but made it impossible to access. The drapes have been long gone, and I have covered the box with a hanging tapestry of the 23rd Psalm. It's a comforting message. "Yea, tho I walk through the shadows," but, as soon as I flip that breaker we're back in the Light!!!

Two small hand prints in plaster remind me of when their owners were very small. I can't remember why the first daughter didn't get one. Maybe she was ill and missed that day of school. We also have their bare footprints in the sidewalk and patio when we poured the cement. Those little toes are wearing away and I wish we would have sealed them in a spot that was better protected.

How do these relate to my blogging month? Well, I've been in the dog house a few times this month. I'm ignoring housework and hubby while staring with glazed eyes at my monitor. If I had wound the clock perhaps it's ticking would have made me more aware of the time spent here. I've rushed through all my other duties just so I can get to my writing; and even better, to reading your blogs. No axe to grind -this blog is just a hanging tapestry of thought that belongs to me, and hides what I don't want you to see. And, I'm leaving footprints that I hope will not wear away.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Runaway

I decided to run away from home when I was about 5 years old.

My best friend Beth lived down a hill and across several acres of prime dairy farm. There were a few barbed wire fences and a herd of black and white Holstein cows along the way. Those small things, however, were not going to stop me. I was going to go live with her. Life would be good at her house. She didn’t have any brothers.

I threw all my earthly belongings into Moms old hat box, grasped the flimsy ribbon band like a handle, and snuck out the back door.

My escape route led beyond the back yard, past the chicken house, the fruit house, the woodshed, and the garage. A narrow path led between a wall and a sharp uphill slope to the garden.

Through the gate I pushed, and fled beneath the pink climbing rose that trailed up to the roof. I was going to miss the rose bush and the chicken house.

I hurried across the flat grassy area that was edged on one side by some old growth forest. It was very dark and scary when you were alone. The other side had low scrub trees growing on the perimeter of a steep incline that led to the “lower pasture’ and a duck pond. Sometimes it was just mud and swamp and that day was no exception.

I tumbled several times during my descent. That box was bulky and awkward for my short little arms and legs.

When I reached the pasture, I tripped over a plowed furrow and landed in the mud. The hatbox lid rolled away trailing with it my panties and socks.

Darn clothes anyway. Beth’s mom would probably take me shopping and buy me all new clothes. Most of mine were hand me downs.

By the time I reached the electric fence that separated our small farm from the dairy, the hatbox was beginning to fall to pieces. I had tears in my eyes as I propped the disintegrating package against a fence post.

Several bovine in the adjacent field became aware of my whimpers and ambled over for a closer look. It wasn’t long before the entire herd headed my way.

This was getting serious. I couldn’t go on because the cows were so big and they had tails like ropes that kept switching this way and that.

I didn’t want to go back, because I knew that there would be a switching there, too. Especially when mom saw what I had done to her hatbox.

Hence, I bent over, sobbed into my hands and hid my eyes from the staring cows and the demolished hatbox.

That’s when something touched my shoulder.

I looked up to see my brother Mike standing close with a silly grin on his face. He couldn’t help it. He just had a silly grin.

“Let me help ya!” he offered.

He gathered up scattered muddy clothes and ripped up hatbox in one arm. With his other arm, he reached out and offered me his hand. Together we started walking back across the soggy pasture towards home.

That’s when I decided I didn’t want to go live at Beth’s house after all. She didn’t have any brothers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Hop Yard Hobo - Part 2

Continued from Part 1, written by my late father (1900-1977)

From San Francisco I hitch-hiked to Los Angeles. Luckily I made the trip in two days on Highway 101. I found everything normal after the disastrous quake. I found, also, that there was no chance for an outsider to get work. I never saw much of the damage done by the quake, since the curious were prevented from going into the damaged area.

I stayed only overnight in Los Angeles and left the next morning on Highway 99, hitch-hiking to Oregon. I had an invitation from a friend of mine south of Roseburg to come up and live the life of Riley with him on his Cow Creek Ranch. I made fair time. I picked up some money by helping truck drivers load and unload. Part of the time I drove for some tourists who were worn out with too many hours at the wheel. That seemed funny to me, after having seen so many thousands out of work. It was true, nevertheless. My being a registered California chauffeur perhaps accounted for some of my lucky rides. I arrived at Azalea, Oregon, in about seven days -- on the nineteenth of March, to be exact. Here I learned that my friend, W.I. Schultz, (I call him Billy) lived twenty-two miles up Cow Creek. With no chance of a ride on Sunday, I walked all of the way. When I arrived, Billy was doing the chores on his timber, stock, and hay ranch.

Mr. Schultz was happy to see me. He was expecting me, since I had written him I was on the way. Billy and I had become good friends while working on a construction job in Bradley, California, five years before. Billy had been a boomer like myself, except that he was an efficient steam shovel and drudge engineer. He had spent some time working as a rigging boss, a labor foreman, and superintendent of oilfield rig construction. But he had tired of the drifting life and had bought this isolated ranch, where he lives on the fat of the land. This living consists of what he raises, plus grouse, deer, and fish in season.

Billy's 33 acres of cleared land produces anything that grows in the wonderful climate of Western Oregon. It raises succulent vegetables, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, raspberries, strawberries, loganberries, apples and pears. Add do this chickens, bees, and cows. The only thing lacking for perfect existence was a wife and some kiddies. But, Billy says he has embarked on the stormy sea of matrimony four times and every time the ship was wrecked. The next time, he says, the woman would have to own the ship and be a good pilot.

I stayed with Billy until the last of April. We surely lived the life of Riley. I helped with the chores, mostly milking. He had a small herd of ten or twelve cows, eight of which he was milking. We put in our time building fences, cutting a good supply of wood, splitting a few shakes, cutting posts and erecting a hay barn of long, straight fir poles. Billy is a good cook and we enjoyed sourdough flapjacks done to a delicate brown, plenty of eggs from his dozen hens, various kinds of fruit with cream, and oh Boy!, the finest of canned venison. A living fit for a king, eh, what?

Billy was a man of about forty-five years. He was a great reader and had travelled over all of the United States, Canada, India, and South America. We talked politics, religion, business, marriage, and what not. We recounted our old experiences as well as the New Deal of the President. Time flowed so serenely that one soon forgot the crime, the misery and the starvation existing in the crowded places of mankind.

By the twenty-fifth of April the time had come to tell Billy goodbye.