Home Page

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.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Day Ended Snow Well, Michele

A BIG THANK YOU to Michele for solving my sizing problem with my banner. She says she uses ArcSoft PhotoStudio.

So while she did my work for me I got to go out and play.

My friend Vee and her daughter K took me up into the foothills of the Blue's for an afternoon snowball fight. We left Bud and the hubby to do chores. K took her friend -Little Yellowboots.

The wind was blowing like ice-picks and I was so c-c-c-c-cold that I thought about recent posts
by D, Silent Tunes of Grey who said it was too cold to breathe and Nan, Writer Mom, who was waxing poetically about frozen boogers.

Yellow boots made a very impressive snow angel.

K was shaking so badly she could hardly hold on to her snowball.
But she got in a couple of accurate strikes.

No Snow Outing is complete without the obligatory snowman.

On the drive back down we got to see these wild turkeys along Blue Creek. It's windy and rainy here, too. And the hubby said
we were supposed to get snow showers tonight.
K and Yellowboots are going to be happy about that.

When we dropped Yellowboots off at her house we were delighted at the seasons decorations that her two older sisters and mom were completing at her house. Just look at this cute antique stove all covered with holiday delights.

I think I'll create the 12 days of Christmas in the dust on my piano.

It's For The Birds !

Businesballs.com is a website that gives origins and meaning of expressions or words that have been used in our everyday speech. There are new phrases that enter the social intercourse as events and famous personalities influence the language. A very old phrase, For the Birds (also strictly for the birds) - means useless, unreliable, unacceptable or trivial. It implies that something is only for weaker, unintelligent or lesser people. Credit for that description is given to Kirkpatrick and Schwarz Dictionary of Idioms.

Decharne's Dictionary of Hipster Slang references the Hank Janson novel, Chicago Chick 1962.
"'It's crazy man,' I told him, ' real crazy. Strictly for the birds.'"

I've been having blogger problems. I know a lot of it is my lack of experience and know how. I'm sure my brain is bigger than an ostrich eye, which is how big an Ostrich brain is said to be.

Right now I just think Blogger is Strictly for the birds. Yes - my feathers are ruffled right now.

On another note, the other day Willowtree mentioned disappearing bloggers. Now I've lost Kailani and The Pink Diary. Just gone. It's an odd feeling - worry and wondering about someone you have never met. I didn't realize how attached we get. If you are out there Kailani..... good bye.... I miss you.

(And one more day down for November and my unofficial particpation in NoBloPoMo. )

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Is It Lawful to Remove the TAG?

It was tag week for me.

As much as I love writing "junk," I find writing about me very difficult. Nevertheless, I am going to try to do this without ME2's help at this conjuncture. (ME2: psssst. She doesn't even know what conjuncture means. Sigh.)

Thanks to Kelly for giving me the opportunity to share five things few people know about me. visit her at Pass The Torch. Her blog has everything put together exactly how it should be.

She's made a decision to stay home this year and homeschool her two kids, D and C. (You'll find C jumping into the lake from her Banner.) I'm wishing they were my grand kids, they are so cute, and smart,...and lucky to have Kelly, not only as their teacher, but also as their mom.

Now, back to the subject at hand. Here are the five things you don't know about me.

1. My weight
2. My innermost thoughts
3. My bra cup
4. My foot deodorant
5. The side of the bed on which I sleep

Thus, they remain the five things you don't know about me.

Kathleen Marie presented tag number two to me. This one is going to a bit harder to fake. KM just published her new template at Stranded in the Mountains. I click on it while I am pretending to do housework so I can hear the music. (ME2: Pamela doesn't know how to attach music or video's yet. She's such a technocrite.)

Visiting In The Mountains is very much like visiting Mrs. Claus. Haven't you always wanted to go to the North Pole? How about South Dakota. It's fun just to browse through her snow people collection.

She tagged me with the A to Z About ME meme. (ME, ME, ME --it's always about ME. What am I? Chopped liver2?)

A - Available/single? I can hear the hubby snoring. I'm still taken
B - Best Friend? My best friends always move away - so I'm not going to jinx it. Hmmm...maybe if I chose ME2..................
C - Cake or Pie? What are you baking?
D - Drink of Choice? I love Chai Tea Latte.
E - Essential Item You Use Everyday? TP. (ME2: and none of that one-ply cheapo in the rough stuff either.)
F - Favorite Color? Black. Isn't that all the colors mixed together?
G - Gummy Bears or Worms? Are the Bears cinnamon?
H - Hometown? Here.
I - Indulgence? Blogging.
J - January or February? Definitely February, because payday comes quicker.
K - Kids and their Names? Karmyn, Jennifer, Amanda (aka Gooey, Juice, and Cakers.)
L - Life is Incomplete Without? My Lord and Savior.
M - Marriage Date? 1976
N - Number of Siblings? Six on earth and one in heaven.
O - Oranges or Apples? Bananas.
P - Phobias/Fears? I'm afraid I'll lose my airline tickets. (ME2: She doesn't have any airline tickets!)
Q - Favorite Quote? "We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." (Will Rogers)
R - Reason to Smile? Grandchildren; especially because they live with my children.
S - Season? I look ravishing in black, burgundy, emerald green, hot pink, icy colors, navy blue, red, royal purple, and white. See what season you are.
T - Tag Three People? I tag every last one of you - male or female - you are it.
U - Unknown Fact About Me? Refer to five things at beginning.
V - Vegetable I don't like? Okra.
W - Worst habit? Eating everything except Okra.
X - X-rays I have had? To many. Does anyone else out there dream about Superman looking right through you?
Y - Your favorite Food? It is either hot or cold. Yeah, one of those two.
Z - Zodiac Sign? Libra! Ahem -- the most desirable of all Zodiac types.

And somewhere in my pile is an October tag from Swampwitch. Now there's another busy woman. She's spent October being the champion of breast cancer awareness and the scrubber of eau de skunk off her boxers Bubba and Junior. Traveling hither and yon has given her opportunity to fill her blog with photographs of sunsets, sunrises, and surprises. Plus, she is generally WOWing me as she refines her blogging skills. Her fly-boy, Booger, went back to his duty in the middle east and they welcomed the birth of his daughter (her grand) Reese. Oh! Just go look!

Sorry Swampy, I couldn't' find the tag. Nevertheless, I am sending my thoughts on a broom. I'm sure I have one hiding in the closet with the duster. Oh, can I also send you ME2?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dinner With Auntie Fern

Last weekend Grand Auntie Fern called and invited the hubby and me to come to her retirement home for the holiday dinner.

In the past, she has been to our home, as well as to other extended family members in the valley. Everyone loves this sweet lady who will be 98 in April.

This time, however, she wanted company at her home. We were pleased to join her, as none of our girls could make the trip to ours. We couldn’t go out of town because of my Friday work commitment.

The dining hall was half-empty as many of the residents would spend the day with family. The food was traditional Thanksgiving; turkey, stuffing, mashed potato and gravy. Senior citizen sized servings found no complaints here. I usually eat too much.

The hostess asked if we would allow a recent arrival to join us at our table. Shirley had been there two days and didn’t know anyone yet. We were happy to make it a foursome.

Auntie was dressed in a lovely suit, with complimentary clip-on earrings and matching necklace. She always dresses up in the morning. She has never worn a sweat shirt or a pair of jeans.

“It makes me feel better to look smart,” she told us.

We weren’t quite as gussied up; but the hubby looked handsome in his sweater. I’ll keep him.

Shirley, however, was wearing a cotton nighty and matching duster. She was in a wheel chair and probably not able to dress herself.

The three of us introduced ourselves to Shirley and began eating and enjoying the chitchat.

“How old are you?” Auntie queried as she leaned towards Shirley with a sweet smile. Having one eye causes difficulty for her to see unless she gets very close.

“I am 86,” was her emphatic answer. Her speech was very clear, precise, and matter-of-fact. I don’t think she was put-off by the question. It was just a question.

“Oh, you’re just a young thing,” laughed Auntie and told her about her upcoming birthday. She went on to inform that she was the youngest of five sisters. Grace lived to be 108. Blanche breathed her last at 102, after deciding one day that she’d lived long enough. Sister Ethel passed away at age 98 and Jennie, the hubby’s gram, left us at age 95.

Shirley and her late husband had no children. However, they had lived a wonderful life. They had seen the world. She loved this town when they moved here and stayed to retire.

“I met my husband when I was working for Pacific Tel and Tel in San Jose.” Shirley told us. “Then we got married and I had to quit.” That made me smile. How times have changed.

“I really enjoyed that job. I was a switchboard operator and I would push in the little plug and say, ‘what number please’ and then connect them. I worked nights, but I never listened in on any of the calls. My supervisor would listen to see if I did. But I never did.”

The hubby and I talked about how technology has changed so much, that people use their phones for computers and cameras. Both ladies shook their heads and looked at us as though we were crazy.

“Well,” said Auntie Fern, “would you imagine that!”

Then Shirley started talking about the switchboard again.

“I’ll never forget one morning when I got off work and caught the bus back to my apartment building. No sooner had I walked through my front door than the phone rang. The voice said ‘this is Nellie Jackson.’ She was my supervisor.”

I thought her supervisor would accuse her of eavesdropping.

“She said ‘I’m ordering you back into work right this minute. Pearl Harbor has been attacked by the Japanese and we need every operator on duty immediately’. What and where was Pearl Harbor. I didn’t know. It was the first time I had heard of it. I’d never seen such a sight. The switchboard lights were blinking constantly and I spent the whole day just connecting calls. One after another.”

Shirley sighed and her shoulders dropped. She set her fork to work on the cranberry sauce.

“I remember that day like it was yesterday, too,” Fern responded softly. “Bill was hunting and I was home alone. The news came on the radio and my mind couldn’t even grasp it.”

And so the hubby and I listened to these young at heart women discuss the world as it was when they were young of body.

I asked Auntie Fern if I could write about her again.

"Sure!" She said and instructed me to tell you, my readers, that “Marriage is the only war where you get to sleep with the enemy.”

Then she giggled and we ate our pumpkin pie.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank You Lord (By Ricky Nelson)

Thank You Lord
Rick Nelson

Thank you Lord for lovin’ me
For giving me the chance so I could see
The love that you feel inside for me
You’re everything I want you to be
And I thank you, my Lord

Thank you Lord for being there
You take me thru life and you always care
I think about the times I needed you
You were always there to see me through
And I thank you, my Lord

Thank you Lord you’re my friend
You give me the strength to start over again
When life becomes hard no ones seems to care
I reach out for you and you’re always there
And I thank you my lord

Thank you Lord for lovin’ me
For giving me the chance so I could see
The love that you feel inside for me
You’re everything I want you to be
And I thank you, my Lord

Ricky Nelson was my first crush. He was a heart throb that could sing. I could listen to him all day. I could look at him all day. He wrote some sweet music.

He wrote this song that speaks so clearly for me on this Thanksgiving Day. Thank you Lord.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

R.A.M. into the wall

One morning last week, I was surprised to see an SUV on the side of the street about ½ mile from our house. Something totaled the vehicle. The front end was a V shape ending in the front seat. There must have been a serious injury. Where was the other car, I wondered?

The next morning, the wreckage gone, I saw the other half of the crash. It was the stone wall surrounding one of the town’s historical homes, a Victorian mansion.

A rock musician owns this property. When the musicians wife purchased the house a few years back she decided to return it to its glory days.

At first, I was stunned when the painting began. Every day on my way to work, I watched the progress. I also noticed a number of curious strangers parking along the road to review the restoration. In the beginning, I thought it was going to be gaudy.

The contractor installed an electronic gate and security lights. They kept the beautiful old stone wall, but a mason was required to repair a section that had been destroyed by (you guessed it) a collision with it. Then, less then two months later, the same patched portion was broken and scattered by another middle of the night marauder.

In the 28 years we have lived on this street we have probably seen at least 18 crashes into the same general area. Some were low impact. The crunch last week was the worst.

The street that ends in the T intersection has a visible stop sign. Everyone who lives in our end of town knows the territory. One could guess at the possibilities of what might cause this type of accident.

Unfamiliarity? Poor visibility? Distraction? Anger? Suicide?

Disgruntled R.E.M. fan?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Moms Christmas Cactus

Two days in a row, I have been thinking about my mom. Today I am thinking about her because her Christmas Cactus is blossoming. There are scores of buds promising a big bloom. A remarkable feat, considering the plant is over 50 years old.

I always keep a start growing beside it in the window. It’s blooming, too.

Some of you know I have a propensity to name things. This plant is named “Mom’s Christmas Cactus.” It has graced my living room since 1993, which means that by the law of possession it should be “My Christmas Cactus.” My daughters all have their own pots started from “Mom’s Christmas Cactus.” I may have heard one call her plant “Grandma’s Christmas Cactus.”

When mom died, the cactus was so large that we had to trim it to get it through the doorway of her house. I didn’t have an out of the way place for it to grow, so it has never returned to its former dimensions. Frolicking children and clumsy adults impede its attempts to reach out into the room.

We are pleased when it blooms at Thanksgiving - like this year. Once it bloomed in April. Sometimes it blooms over a period of months, leisurely working its way around the circle of scalloped stems. I love it when it blossoms all at once in gay profusion with no room for even one more pink pagoda.

The remainder of the months it is rather forlorn in appearance. (I hate to admit that it is not a pretty and decorative houseplant, but that is the truth.)

The dreary wait is worth it, though, when “Mom’s Christmas Cactus” celebrates the season.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Wooden Egg

Jenny, one of five contributors to Mama Drama, asked readers to tell her about “the weirdest” things they own.

She even has a creepy prize for her weirdest commenter: A picture of Mr. Poodlestein in what appears to be an antique frame.

First, let me say, I am not writing this post so that I can get my paws on Mr. Poodlestein. As much as I love canines, nothing draws me to this portrait of someone’s dearly departed dog. (I already have a picture of my own dearly departed dog. Thank you.) And then I saw that Willowtree has posted a picture of cat butt gum. So much for winning that contest. (And he thought he wasn't all that weird.)

ANYWAY..... the idea of sharing one of my most peculiar possessions did intrigue me. (I am trying to post daily in the month of November. (I am not signed up for NaBloPoMo, but I’m pretending that I am. Blogging about my old wooden egg takes care of Monday.)

What is it you ask? Yes, you did too, ask. Do not quit reading – Come on back. Look into my eyes and repeat after me. “I want to know about Pamela’s wooden egg.”

I am so glad you asked.

My earliest memory as a child is accompanying my mom out to the chicken house. To me it was the greatest adventure.

A sliding wooden latch locked the door. That part is a bit blurry. However, I remember exactly what I saw each time the door was open. There were three distinct areas. The first one was level with the entry door. The second was dug out so that you could hop down and walk around the nesting area, face to face with angry hens. The third section was a little bit higher and had chicken wire stretched flat across it. I’m thinking that may have been where the chicks would be placed to keep them safe. Chickens are mean to each other.

I can still conjure up the smell of chickens and chicken feed. In addition, I can remember the little round water trough that was gravity fed, and the ground up oyster shells that were provided to encourage healthy egg production. I can even hear the “bwaaawk, bwaak, BWAAAAK.” The last ‘bwaaaak” would be an egg stealing “bwaak.”

However, what I found most exciting was the little wooden eggs that mom kept in the nests. She said it kept the chickens coming back because they thought that they were laying eggs for “setting.” If we left the wooden egg, the hen didn’t know that we were stealing her future family. Apparently, chickens can’t count.

I don’t know how many times I was in trouble for sneaking in their and handling them or bringing them outside to play. I loved those wooden eggs.

One day my Uncle came over with a hatchet and butchered all the chickens in our backyard. (That traumatic story can be saved for another blog day)

After that, the chicken house remained empty for a number of years.

When my mom passed away in 1993, we spent several days going through her belongings. In her bureau drawer, we discovered one of those wooden eggs.

I now have it in my bureau drawer. It is worn and etched with hundreds of chicken scratches from where those silly hens clawed at it to place it into the perfect spot before they set on it. When I pull it out and hold it in my hand, I can remember the smells, the sounds, and the excitement of escorting my mom into the wonderful world of feathers and chicken poo.

Then I feel sad when I realize that there will be no one to hold it with fond memories when I am gone.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Town

I don't want my town to change.

The sunsets are amazing. There are four seasons. In 45 minutes you can be in the mountains skiing, or boating on the Snake or Columbia River.

Raising children was easy here. There are elementary schools in every neighborhood. The town hosts a Community College, an award winning liberal arts college, and a parochial college that is becoming a University. There are many extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, and art.

The availability of health care, housing, public transportation, and a quiet life are amenities that attract older people.

A city water park was voted down on election day. I voted for it because because I think it would be a great diversion for the children, and I planned on taking my grand kids there when they came to visit. I knew it would raise my taxes, but that's a given in all areas with the change in the government.

Crime has been on the rise and everyone has his/her theory on that. I'll leave that one alone.

This fall my town was chosen by Money Magazine as one of the top five places in the United States to retire. This picture was one that accompanied the article. (They probably didn't mention that all the streets need repair.)

In the spring, summer and fall all the downtown eateries have tables on the sidewalks. Starbucks and two other coffee stops keep their tables out all winter and they are always full (unless it's 10 below, which happens occasionally.)

The local newspaper has a series of articles planned that will cover the changes, good and bad, and how the valley is adapting. The hubby mentioned the other day how we couldn't afford our house if we were moving into town today. The newspaper article mentioned the very same thing. The price of housing has gone up rapidly in the past couple of years. The bad news is we're close to retirement age. The good news is if we decide to retire here we don't have to worry about buying a house we can't afford.

We fell in love here, married, reared three daughters, kept our house in good repair, and flowed with the way of this valley. We have extended families where we work, where we play, and where we gather for church. It has been and is a wonderful place to live.

I don't want my town to change.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Oscar Suit

AuntPat1926The year was 1903 when Bessie and Charles Hoover bought the little German made suit for three-year old Oscar. At that age he would have preferred a drum or a wooden train. However, mom wanted to show off her little gentleman to all her friends.Oscar grew fast and it wasn’t very long before the suit was too small. Bessie packed it gently in paper and stored it in a bureau drawer. She cherished her little man’s expensive suit from the old country.
When Oscar grew to an adult, married, and had children of his own,
Bessie brought forth the suit as a gift.  Although his first born, Pat, was a girl, he dressed and photographed her in the suit. He did the same with daughter number two, and then finally, his own son.

    Then the suit was wrapped up again and placed in storage until another generation of children marched through. The hubby was one of those that posed
in the little woolen garment before it was placed in an updated storage compartment; plastic.

Along came our girls and the suit was summoned. Jen and Amanda did their family duty by staging an appearance ....in the Oscar Suit.
Years passed and our grandchildren reached the ages where they needed to perform what has now become a right of passage. Although Karmyn was too old to wear the suit when we married into the family, her two little ones have braved the woolen itch as have Jen's three. Peanut is still too small, and Amanda's little Curly Mop will be set for a portrait this spring.
One hundred and three years of little fingers and rosy Cheeks. What a lucky little suit it has been

LilBuddy97RedHeaded girlJammin2002
Unfortunately we do not have a picture of Oscar in the same little tweed suit. We do, however, have one of him in another outfit that proves that his mother definitely thought he was a dress-up Doll. Thus, we carry on the tradition.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Winter Goldfinch

People who live here are often surprised when they are told that Goldfinch (The Washington State Bird) winter over in our valley. In the summer the male birds are so easy to spot because of their vibrant yellow feathers and black and white striped wings.

In the winter they lose their mating colors and are less likely to be distinguished from other birds that fly around in the neighborhood trees and bushes. So, a lot of people think they are summer visitors only.

They twitter and chatter in our birch tree and flit down to my entry way to choose between sunflower chips or thistle seed. Some days they only chow down on one. Some days they devour both. I should ask the Audubon experts "why?."

These two pictures were taken through my dusty front door. They fly away if they see me move past.

Last year there was an outbreak of "bird pox" which devastated the finch population locally. It is highly contagious and will pass between the birds at feeders. As a result, I try to clean my feeders every few weeks with a tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of water.

Some bird lovers are opposed to feeders; disease sharing being one of the reasons.

It is one more thing I need to ponder.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Sometimes I go to pick up the office mail in the middle of the afternoon. Usually our manager makes the trip. When I offer to go it is when I want to get outside and clear my head. I don't want to take the company car. I just want to put on my walking shoes and walk through the downtown. My route takes me past the coffee shops, the wine tasters, and all the banks.

On a warm sunny afternoon on a summer day I did just that.

As I approached the side street entrance to the government building I was shocked to see a young woman wearing a skimpy white shirt and white Capri's walk directly into the path of a car preparing to park. There was an older man driving. (Old is relative I guess - but he was at the least 20 years my senior.)

He wasn't parallel parking in the usual sense because there were two parking spaces open. He was driving straight in. Her appearance forced him to slam on his brakes.

The young woman, who should have used the crosswalk, jumped forward into the center of the street. She turned and started yelling profanities in a very loud voice that had others on the sidewalk stopping to stare. Oh, Me, too.

Then, she did the deed.

She turned away from him, dropped her pants, and bent over and mooned him with her bare behind. In the middle of the street. With cars stopped in both directions.

The old mans car must have been a stick shift, because it jerked forward abruptly, as if he had popped the clutch.

C-R-A-S-H! He totally smashed into the back end of the car in the forward parking slot.

I should have approached him to check for a heart attack or stroke. But, he looked so humiliated and horrified that I hurried on, climbed the stairs, and disappeared into the Post Office.

I was so disgusted,...............because I didn't have my camera.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What is Your Name?

The 911 call for a man down came from one of the grocery stores that activated an emergency vehicle with fireman/medics to the scene.

Charles and Walt were young, handsome, excellent paramedics, and good friends. Together, they had responded to many accidents and medical crisis as well as geared up for fighting fire. The description on the dispatch had them preparing mentally for a stroke or a heart attack.

Flashing lights and sirens allowed them to park at the store entrance and roll through the electric doors with their equipment. An Assistant manager pointed them immediately to the elderly man lying on his back near the apple and orange display.

He appeared to be unaware of what was going on around him but responded when they shook him. (Shake and shout is standard procedure if they suspect someone is unconscious.)

Because he seemed somewhat alert Charles began checking the vitals signs (blood pressure, heart rate, etc) and Walt tested for mental clarity. He started by asking for verbal consent and identification.

Walt grasped the patients hand and said, “Sir, we’re here to help you. Will you tell me your name?”

“Awwww don’ kno,” was the slurred tongued response. Walt continued his questions; he was suprised to find that the patient knew what day it was, where he was, who was President, and the like. Why didn't the man know his own name?

Walt asked him again,"What is your name?"

The fellow gave the same answer. “Awwwwdon’know.”

Walt noticed that the man was getting more agitated at the continued prompting for a name.

The two paramedics felt that although there seemed to be little to indicate trauma, heart attack or stroke, there was something that was confusing the old gent. They decided to transport him to the emergency room.

They put him on the gurney and wheeled him to the ambulance. Charles took the driver’s seat and Walt jumped into the back with the patient.

“Could I remove your wallet and look at your identification?” Walt requested once the vehicle began moving.

After receiving a frustrated yes nod of the head, he pulled the worn leather from the man's overalls.

Walt opened it, searched for and found the man's Medicare card. He read the name in a clear loud voice. In the rear-view mirror the two friends eyes met and sparkled with stifled laughter. They were professionals and they would save their chortling and guffaws until after they completed their run. It would tickle the other firefighters on duty, too.

His name was just as he'd been trying to tell them: Otto Noe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Unique Jewelry

Marnie showed Melissa her cute necklace from Disneyland.

Heather showed Melissa her Arizona turquoise and her under the car seat ring.

Karmyn showed us her brand new wedding ring awhile back which replaced the one she lost at the airport in Provo, Utah.

A friend made this unique necklace for me out of a silver coin about 32 years ago.
He died soon after in a motorcyle accident, which made the gift more precious.

Last month I also displayed the cool Hummingbird pin from my brother and his wife.

I'm tagging anyone who wants to show Melissa their jewelry.

(No WT, not the family jewels.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lord of the dead-ringers. Well, sort of.

Two years ago I made a calendar in which I took all our family members and turned them into either fantasy characters or cartoon character.

Here is my Lord of The Rings Bunch.
You will find the hubby, my three daughters, their men, and a couple of my grandsons and some great nephews. Can you tell which characters in the trilogy that each of them portrays???

This year I have one month to come up with an idea for a family calendar. I'm starting to have an anxiety attack about it. If I don't start it soon, it will never happen.

Hope someone out there can be my muse.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Out of Your Gourd

Last weekend I was tracking the nuthatches as they flitted between my house and my elderly neighbor's yard. He walked out and told me to "C'mon out back, I have something that might make a good photo."

He opened the door to his little "greenhouse" and proudly displayed all these fantastic gourds that he had grown this year in his garden. He also grows "loofah" or "vegetable sponges" and had some hanging on his clothesline. He breaks the "loofah" by hand and washes and washes them until they are soft and pliable. His old hands must be very strong, and I thought about asking him if I could photograph them. But he is very private. He is also going deaf, so you are never sure if he understands what you say to him.

For a man in his mid 80's he is very active. He grows all his own vegetables and fruit. I see people stopping during the summer to buy tomatoes and raspberries. I am the lucky recipient of cucumbers and berries when he is harvesting. I have reciprocated by baking him something like a cobbler, but not often enough.

He does a lot of wood craft in his attic. He makes puzzles and Christmas Tree Ornaments and sends them to craft shows. When my grandchildren come to visit he often shares a little wooden toy with them.

Reluctantly, he has told a few stories about his World War II service as a Marine in the Pacific theater. He fought on Saipan.

This past year I've noticed that he has needed to rest more often. One of his daughters gave him a great lawn chair that can be adjusted to about any angle. That's where I see him when I come home from work, or look out in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

The Mrs. died a few years ago after a valiant fight with cancer. Now he would be alone except for his faithful dog Allie and his huge garden. He doesn't want visitors because they put a kink in his routine. Traveling or visiting his family is not on the agenda either. He rides his bicycle to the store for staples or necessities and that's as far as he wants to go.

Some of the neighbors that don't know the old fellow very well think that he is "out of his gourd." That is a term we would use when we were kids to describe someone who wasn't completely in his right mind.

It is true that he is a very unique person. He is the product of a different era and lifestyle. But he isn't out of his Gourd.

And if the photograph is any evidence, you could say he has more gourd than the rest of us neighbors altogether.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

Or call a Soldier, a Sailor, a Marine, an Airman, a National Guard, or a Coast Guard.

An unusal Christmas

My very first thought when I saw the Blogging Chick Carnival theme was to suggest it would be easier to just skip the holidays altogether. The Holiday Blues is not a favorite music group or Christmas album at my house. It’s my dancing partner for the season and has been most of my life.

There are probably a few armchair therapists as well as some licensed ones who might ask that as “mature” as I am, why I haven’t pursued the “cause and effect” and worked through the problem. ‘Tis a good question and maybe I’ll get back to you.

Instead let’s talk about our 2005 Holiday season.

Last year the hubby and I received an E-mail early on from one of my childhood ‘forever’ friends. She and her husband had been recruited by their church to spearhead a relief team in an earthquake ravaged region of Kashmir. They had lived in Pakistan for quite a few years with their three daughters; their knowledge of the culture and language made them the perfect choice for such an endeavor.

When she first wrote, her husband was already in “Bagh” and she was making travel arrangements. The message was critical because it might be only days before the winter snows arrived and “250,000 human beings from Bagh will freeze to death” if help did not arrive.

The E-mail was a plea from her heart. She asked that her friends, family, and her church members consider sending money to their organization as well as forward her E-mail on to everyone in their address book. They calculated they would require $8,000,000 to cover what their organization had pledged.

Her other plea was Prayer. Even those who couldn’t contribute financially could partner with them in a prayer covering for their quest.

The hubby and I were shocked at that outrageous goal. But that was nothing new. They have always shocked us and they have always been outrageous. The places they have been, the people they have encountered, and the situations they have experienced are outside the boundaries of the average person. In spite of and because of, we wanted to be a part in their belief that all things are possible. They are Good People.

The hubby and I sat across the kitchen table that Saturday evening to review our finances and our hearts. “He’s makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice” crossed my mind and lips several times during our discussion. We came to a decision.

We called our three daughters and told them that we were going to do something that was very unlike us in regards to Christmas presents. Our holiday gift giving was going to be a lump sum contribution to “Savings Lives in Kashmir.” (The grandchildren would receive a “token” present to unwrap from grandpa and grandma.)

They thought it was an excellent idea, the older grandchildren were skeptical but curious, and the younger ones didn’t even know the difference.

There were no busy stores, half-done lists, duplicate presents and returned merchandise.

Consequently, our holiday was made easier. And I think it was happier, too.

Things were not easy for our friends in Kashmir, unfortunately. They endured long hours, hard work, and every emotion to the nth degree.

Did they meet their goal? The answer is No and Yes. In dollars, they received far less then what they had perceived as a requirement. Instead, the dollars they did receive were blessed and purchased far more blankets and provisions then ever thought possible.

To hear their personal account as they experienced it, I invite you to read their November 2005 through February 2006 blog by linking to the first post on Save Bagh.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Carnival of Blogging Chicks - Holidays made Easier

The carnival this week is about “Holidays made Easier.”

Michele, the BC Guru says "Holidays are special. They are also stressful. Trying to decide what to buy for your Uncle Bill, Aunt Kate, Grandma, the postman, favorite daycare provider . . . Wondering who is eating where with whom? Is it your time to host Christmas dinner or New Years buffet? Divulge your inexpensive gift giving ideas or real time saving tips. If we share, we will all be blessed."
and relaxed this holiday.

This weeks host is Eileen aka Cybercelt at CoolAdzine.

My entry is in the works but I don't think it's quite the advice on holiday "trimming" that you might be looking for. I'm sure some of the others will have some ideas that will help you get your holiday chicks all in a row.


The Christmas Tree that is headed to Washington D.C. stopped for an hour visit one block from my work place. I could see it through the window. The town had a festive little greeting and local kids brought their home-made ornaments to send along the way. The mayor gave a muffled speech, but I couldn't stop and listen because I only ran over to take a picture and a peak.

When I peered into the back of the semi, the tree was wrapped up pretty tight for its trip and you could only see the very tip of the evergreen branches.

It might be passing through your town or city. Wave!!

Capitol Christmas Tree Arriving from Washington State

A 65-foot Pacific silver fir cut from the Olympic National Forest will serve as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

The tree, which was cut down Wednesday, will be
taken on a festive road tour in Washington State before traveling to D.C.

It will be decorated with more than 3,000 ornaments made by students in Washington State, and will have 10,000 lights.

The tree will be lighted on December sixth by House Speaker Dennis Hastert on the west lawn of Capitol Hill, facing the Washington Monument.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coffee People

Just wanted to make sure that Robin checks her coffee beans before she grinds them. I've gotten this Email from several places and I found the little man right away. If you call your coffee a cup of "joe" then you may want to click on that picture for a closer look.

I like a bold blend with my "fat-free half n half" (altered skim). I'll leave all the expresso and latte's to the rest of you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Border Patrol

At least thats what my cousin in Alaska called it when she E-mailed me this photograph.
(UPDATE: I'm wondering if it is Canada... and if the road sign is photo-shopped in? Any guesses?)

As told by Aunt Hattie (part 1)

This is a picture of my great grandfather and great grandmother (me, my mom, her mom, her parents) , Franklin and Augusta Castle, with Hattie. Hattie wrote some of her stories by pen before her death in 1965. I have been blessed with copies that I have tried to present without any correction. Just as she remembered them.

Hattie had four older brothers, two of whom died in childhood. The new baby sister she speaks of is my grandmother Grace, followed by four more boys and another girl.

My grandmother Grace didn't write any memoirs, however she had a treasure trove of old pictures, such as this one of her mom and dad and half sister.

To you who choose to read on, thank you, and enjoy her memories.


I was born in the little town of Bucks Bridge, New York, October 2nd, 1869, the year that the 1st railroad was completed across the U.S. But the following spring my parents and two brothers, Herbert and Newton, moved to a farm 4 miles out of Battlecreek, Michigan, where we had a nice home overlooking a pretty lake where we used to bathe in the summer and where my brothers used to skate in the winter. Also, they and Father used to cut holes in the ice and catch fish. They caught pickerel. My Father caught one that was too long to lay in the broiler.

We had all kinds of berries and fruit on the place and my Father marketed it in Battle Creek. He also raised lots of melons and garden produce to market. My Mother was a New England woman and a good cook, and our cellar and pantry was always full of good things to eat.

I never had many playmates as all the near neighbors were old people and their children were all grown and gone. My uncles family lived by us for a while and then my cousin Charlie, who was just my age, used to have good times together. I well remember one day we were playing and saw some strawberries just beginning to turn a very little, but we thought we would surprise Aunt Mary with some for supper. But she didn't seem to be pleased at all with our gift - at all - but ordered us to stay away from the berries.

But they moved away from there and I was left alone again. My brother had married when I was five and Newton was going to College at Battle Creek and was home only at vacations and weekends. My Father took him to school Monday morning and got him Friday afternoon. He used to try to interest me as best he knew how, but he was almost ten years older than I, and I the only girl, so he hardly knew how. I remember one day he taught me how to turn summersaults. So I went and told Mother how I could turn one and proceeded to show her, but she said that it isn't nice for a little girl (to turn summersaults). He would make bows and arrows, sling shots, and all kinds of boys playthings. When I was five or six, we went with team and wagon to my first camp meeting at Marshall, Michigan. That was a great event for me - to live in a tent and eat out doors. In those days we didn't have bakeries to get our bread and food from but we had to take it all from home prepared. My most - memory of that camp meeting was seeing a little girl that wouldn't talk to me, so I asked my Father why she wouldn't and he told me she was deaf and dumb.That was all I remember of that camp meeting.

The next one I attended, when seven, was at Lansing, Michigan. We went by train and as we pulled into Lansing, the back coach we were riding in uncoupled from the train and we went back down the track. My Mother and I were quite excited as my Father had just gone into the car ahead, but they soon got it stopped and the train came back and hooked on to the runaway car.

My memory there was seeing the Capital building and going through the reform school and children working there.

One other trip I remember was going huckleberring. You see, the huckleberries there grow in marshes and where we went was inside a man's field and he charged us to go in, and then you can pick all day. We drove in and my Father and brother went back in the jungle to pick. The brush was so thick and tall you couldn't see out. I was to stay right at the wagon so not to get lost; and Mother was to pick near. Well, she was the one to get lost. When she wanted to come out, she didn't know which way to go.

I heard her call, so I answered her and in that way she finally got out. Well, they got a nice lot of berries and then went back home.

Mother always had a nice lot of flowers, which I always enjoyed watching, especially the four o'clock. I would ask Mother if it was four o'clock so I could watch them open. One summer Eliza was helping pick raspberries and she put Eva, aged one year, into an apple box and left me to watch her. I was seven. Well, I fed her raspberries and when her mother came to see her, she had berries all over her face and hair. Also, her nice dress was a sight. But she was happy if her mother wasn't; she was afraid she would be sick.

That fall, Eliza's Mother and brother Herbie (who later became her husband) came up one day to visit Mother, and Herbie came along, and Mother said I could take my dishes on the porch and have a little dinner there. That was the first time I ate dinner with him but not the last - for a few years later I met him in Colorado and we ate many meals together.

I went to the little country school the winters I was seven and eight - had to walk a mile and a half to school. The spring after I was eight, Mother had pneumonia and died. She died on a Wednesday evening and Friday morning when we got up we found Grandma dying. We didn't know she was sick. She walked outside the night before, taking hold of my hand. So, then we had their funeral together and they were buried side by side in one grave awaiting the call of the Life Giver. Elder Uriah Smith preached their funeral sermon and they were buried in the little cemetery near home.

Well, after Mother and Grandma died it left my Father and I all alone, as my brother Newton was staying in Battle Creek going to college. So my Father rented rooms in town where a lady could fix me for school and do up our work after we were gone. My Father had bought a livery outfit and was driving a hack for the San (the hospital?), carrying patients to and from there. I went to the college to school - in those days all grades went there from the first 'til all through college. In a short time my Father got acquainted with a widow lady working at the San and thought he had to have someone to take care of me, and he wouldn't let someone else take me.

My first acquaintance of my stepmother was one day he took her for a ride out to our old home, and he had a nice patch of onions there. And the first thing she did was to make a beeline for them, and gathered a bunch, then went to Eliza, who was living near, and got some fresh bread and butter and had a feed. I didn't know at that time she was to be my stepmother.

My Father then sold our home and bought a place in town and he run a livery outfit. My stepmother was always very good to me, but of course, she was very young and did things so much different than my Mother, that one day, I told her my Mother wouldn't have done that way, and she thought me sassy so she whipped me. Of course, I didn't think she had a right to do that, so I went right out to the barn and told Father. He just said, "You must mind her and not talk back." But he told her, if I didn't mind, to tell him, and he would see to me. But, we never had any more trouble, and as far as I can remember, he never did whip me.

Well, the next May I was glad to have a sister as I had always wanted one. I went to school whenever I was well enough, although I never went a full term while there. While living there, they had a camp meeting on the fairground not far from where we lived. Also while there, the tabernacle was built. It had a large clock in the cupola that could be seen and heard for a long ways, and I thought it was quite a treat to go to the dedication.

While living there, I got to see my Aunt Calista and cousin Jay. The only one of my Mother's folks I ever saw to remember. I heard her husband, Uncle Seymore Whitney, preach. He was one of the ministers.

I loved the school at Battle Creek and hated to leave it, but my Father sold and moved to Cedar Lake where my brothers were both working, Herbert in the pine woods and Newton checking in a store there. My Father bought a small place out a little ways from town and built us a nice home there. I went to school the year I was 12 years old, until in March I got the measles so didn't get to go any more that year. My Father had them and was very sick with them. Then when I was fourteen, I went to school and Geo Canviness taught - a graduate of Battle Creek College - was going to school when I was there. That was the only year that I ever got to go all the term and it was my last school year. When I was fourteen, had to stay at home to help do the work. I loved school and wanted very much to get an education, but it didn't seem my luck.

My brothers got me a side saddle and pony, so it was my job to rustle the milk cow. There was open pasture through the pine timber and the slashing, so she could go quite a distance away.

Also, my Father and I picked blackberries that grow wild all through the slashings. One day we went with the horse and buggy over an old corduroy road to an old deserted saw mill and picked. They were lovely berries there and I picked 90 qts. that day and sold them. Well, we picked late and it got dark quick in the thick pine timber on both sides of the road. All at once we heard what sounded like someone hurt or in distress. Father stopped the horse and asked what was wrong. No reply. So we started on again and the cry was repeated but when we stopped - no reply. So we made up our mind it was a panther. It followed us quite a ways, but as we got near to town, didn't hear it any more. It was so dark we couldn't see anything.

In winter we had a nice hill where we went coasting. While living there I and a school mate were baptized in a little lake near Cedar Lake. Well, the summer before I was fifteen, my brother wrote, urging my Father to come to Colorado as up the Ute Indian Reservation to be settled and they were each taking a 160 acres joining each other and he could get one joining theirs if he came right away, so as he then had three boys growing, he thought he better get a place. So he sold out. We packed things to ship when we got settled, and we boarded the train bag and baggage, which meant quite a bit, with 4 little kids.

So that was the way we left