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Friday, March 30, 2007


On a certain birthday, my sister Trish received a parakeet from her in-laws. As much as she and I enjoy watching birds, neither of us had owned one. Nor wanted to.

There were so many questions? What kind of cage to buy? What to feed it? How to determine if it was male or female. Do birds require shots and visits to the Veterinarian?

To answer these, she did what any former schoolteacher would do: studied.

The first action following her research was to name the bird Bluebell and purchase a male to keep the little female company. Smitty made himself right at home in the little bedroom converted to office.

They are not people friendly. They do venture out of the cage to fly around the room while the office door is closed. That, as well as Chirping along with their personal radio, eating, bathing, and grooming pretty much describes their lifestyle over the past years.

Hence, Trish was surprised one morning to find a tiny egg sitting in the food dish. She wasn’t prepared to have a bird nursery, so she discarded it. As the days went by, she found more eggs.

Trish reluctantly purchased a nesting box and gave in to Bluebells resolve. There were at least two dozen eggs laid, but she only allowed the bird to keep five, four of which hatched. Even then, she was apprehensive about the responsibility of chicks. She need not have worried; Bluebell was devoted to her eggs and much more to her chicks. Trish provided extra nutritious treats to sustain the worn out little mother.

The baby parakeets grew quickly and the time came to find them new homes. It was a distressing event for birds and for Trish. She was giving her babies away.

The four babies with mom keeping close watch in the background

The first two became gifts for an elderly man who was eager and delighted.

One was happy and settled in quickly. But the other bird refused to eat or drink, huddling in the corner of its new cage. By the second day the old gentlemen was certain the frightened little bird would die.

Then something unusual happened: The other young parakeet began to pick up food and hop over to his traumatized sibling and feed him. The new owner watched in amazement as the little bird assumed the roll of mother. Within hours after the sweet intervention, both were enjoying the toys, chirping, and exploring their new home together.

Meanwhile, back at my sister’s house, Smitty is locked in a separate cage so that Bluebell can have a little rest. Or, perhaps the little rest is for Trish. Motherood is exhausting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Right Keys

I was distracted from paperwork on my desk today by an irregular honking in the parking lot adjacent my work place. I'll admit that I am easily distracted from "work."

A young male co-worker,TH, was also intrigued and walked with me toward the windows.

There, in the parking lot, was a very elderly woman struggling to unlock a car door. She continued to push the keyless remote and pull unsuccessfully on the handles. We watched her attempt to open it manually with the key and then walk to the passenger side and repeat all of the above.

TH decided to be a boy scout and do his good deed for the day. I remained inside, but started snickering when it became apparent that he, too, was fruitless in his efforts with the lock.

A telephone call saved him from further investigation and he passed the keys off to me along with a baffled expression.

"See what you can do, " he challenged.

I walked out to the car and pressed the unlock button on the remote. I heard a click. I pushed it again and cocked my head sideways. The click was coming from another car. I turned around and pulled the door open on a four-door white sedan in the stall right next to the obstinate one.

"Is this your car?" I asked her with a sweet smile. If nothing else, I can smile very sweetly when fighting the urge to bust a gut.

"Oh dear, Oh dear," she gasped, and busied herself from the other side of the wrong car.

By the time she reached me and her keys, she was giggling like a kid.

"I'm 91 years old. " she chortled and slapped her knee. "I sure hope you don't tell anybody what I did!"

Who... me?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Todays Headlines

Mouse Absconds with Maine Man's Dentures
"We moved the bed, moved the dressers and the night stand and tore the closet apart," he said. "I said, 'I knew that little stinker stole my teeth' I just knew it."

It was the little fellow's smile that clued him.

Panda Poop To Do Double Duty in China
There's a new Chinese saying: When life hands you panda poop, make paper. Researchers at a giant panda reserve in southern China are looking for paper mills to process their surplus of fiber-rich panda excrement into high quality paper.
"People won't find it gross at all," Liao said. "They probably won't even be able to tell it's from panda poop.

After some of the stuff I've read, this is redundant. (I meant that as, I read alot of "crap".... so if you print it on this new paper it is "crap on crap".... )

Crocodile Smuggler Exposed
A woman with three crocodiles strapped to her waist was stopped at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing after guards noticed that she looked "strangely fat," officials said Monday.

The policewoman screamed and ran out of the room, and then women began screaming and panicking when they heard," Telleria said. But when the hysteria died down, she said, "everybody was admiring a woman who is able to tie crocodiles to her body."

Everyone's wearing crocs now. Am I the only female without a pair?

Dead Beat Parents Pictured on Pizza Boxes
Butler County Child Enforcement Agency has ordered up the idea of putting pictures of parents that have failed to pay child support on pizza boxes. Cynthia Brown came up with the idea while ordering pizza from a local pizzeria.
"It suddenly dawned on me that most people running from the law don't eat out, they order pizza," said Brown.

Say Cheese~

Finish MP seeks vote in Klingon
HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Finnish member of parliament is aiming for re-election by campaigning with a translation of his Web site into Klingon, used in the TV series Star Trek.
Non-warriors can also access the site, www.kasvi.org, in English, Swedish and Finnish.

Hab SoSlI' Quch! Translation to English: Your Mother Has a Smooth Forehead (Note: this is a powerful insult; don't say it to friends.)

Fingertip Found at Bus Stop
A fingertip found at a bus stop by schoolchildren, touching off a police investigation, was claimed Friday by a man who injured his hand in a snowblower accident. "He claimed it was his, but he didn't want to claim it, if you know what I mean," Schueler told the Butler Eagle.

At that late date, I guess it was pointless.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Perfect Morning

The window above my bed is open just slightly and before my eyes are ever open I can hear the birds announcing the morning free for all at the backyard feeders.

The breeze, with only enough vigor to tinkle the wind chimes, charms the perfumed blossoms of the Viburnum through the screen to tickle my nose. I roll over and feel the body heat of the man I love still on the sheet; he is up and headed for the kitchen.

The neighbor’s maple trees have softened the sunrise, and I can see the shadows of the lofty boughs across the mirror on my dresser. As always, little jewels of dust sparkle on the sun fingers that touch the foot of my bed.

With a fresh cup of coffee in his hands and a fresher smile on his face, the hubby returns to wake me.

“Have I told you yet this morning that I Love you?”

“Maybe,” I answer, “but I was asleep, so you should probably tell me again.”

Yes, that is the perfect morning, and I am thankful that I often experience a lovely waking time. But, it ends quickly and I have to rush a shower, speed read my favorite blogs, and then scurry off to my 9 to 5.
Tristan, aka Blackbeard, at
Brothertons Blah is hosting todays Fun Monday. His challenge: "to continue on the theme of last week is to tell the world how you would like to wake up in the morning."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's Raining, It's Pouring

We are home in the rain.
We can't complain

The previous week the hubby put a bridge
in next to the waterfall.
It is a gift from Glenda and Steve.
They could not find a place for it in their yard.
I'm SO SORRY they were unsuccessful.
(My nose is growing.)

Did I mention it is raining?
I feel sad for those who are suffering
drought. February was a dry month here
in the valley.

The new growth on the lace leaf maple tree
flaunted some spring jewels as I
passed it on the way to fill the bird feeder.

Bird songs filled the air and continued
even as The Contessa (Tessy) ran circles around
the yard in happiness.

Bill, the neighbor, cared for The Contessa
while we were gone. That meant she was confined to the house and
her kitty box that she accesses through the cat entry
on the garage door.

All week I worried about her canned food. Bill, being nearly deaf, doesn't answer the phone so calling him would have been pointless.

However, after he read the news about rat poison, he checked her food. It was one of the name-brands that was recalled, but not the specific lot numbers. Nevertheless, I threw it all away and will now be buying that expensive holistic variety for her.

Which means I will be eating peanut butter and jelly.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Little Vacation

I will be out of blog touch for the rest of the week.

Our Star Magnolia has blossomed and from
the distance appears as a bride in her
pure white gown.

However, just like everything in our life,
nothing is as it seems.

Take a closer look. Click on the flowers to your
right and see all the colors that nature
combined in a little white flower
to please the senses.

Pink? Yellow? Green?
Do you see shades of mauve and

Have a good week everyone,
and.... give yourself a gift.
Take a moment to enjoy the beauty
in the world around you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Willie and Waylan

We took the long way home today. This picture emphazises why we call it living in the valley.

We are caught in a painters pallette between winter and spring.

Dropping over the last hill, we found ourselves in the direct path of Willie and Waylan, two Percherons, that were being lead from the north pasture to the stable for a good scrubbing. Look at those huge feet.

The owner said, "Sure you can take a picture. People are always asking if they can take pictures. But, you have to promise me that you'll check out our web site and let your readers know that these big boys are mighty purty when they are clean and dressed up. "

Willie was very friendly and enjoyed the attention. He weighs in at 2000 pounds. I think that is why we hit it off so quickly. His buddy Waylan, is about 200 pounds trimmer.

As promised, I linked to their home page plus grabbed their getting hitched photo.

Well, hitched to a Carriage and taking part in someone's wedding ceremony.

Imagine riding into the sunset behind these beautiful creatures?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pet Peeves: Cell phones at Weddings

We attended a lovely wedding this afternoon. The bride was red-headed beautiful. The groom's smile carried enough wattage to light up the entire sanctuary.

Everything was proceeding with perfection until a cell phone started vibrating under someone's behind. It was someone on our pew, and I thought at first that it was a woodpecker. He quickly leaned forward and attempted to turn it off. However, it started buzzing from beneath his butt once more. I noticed several others in our general area searching for their cell phones to turn them off.

Less than thirty seconds later the music of a cell phone set on loud burst forth across the aisle and back two rows. About five women reached for their purses and one of them was the culprit. At that point there was a general movement through the entire congregation of women pawing through purses to check their cell phone status, and others checking pockets to do the same.

I took a deep breath and tried to focus once more on the lovely words spoken by the father of the groom. He completed his part and handed the microphone to the father of the bride who had also prepared a special dedication to his daughter and her wedding day. When they were finished speaking, they returned to their front row seats.

The Pastor took over the remainder of the ceremony. He began preparing the couple for the exchange of rings when one more cell phone with a ringer echoed from the opposite end of the church.

There were two video photographers taping the entire service. Thirty years from now when the couple watch it on their anniversary, I wonder what they'll think about those darn cell phones.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Varied Thrush

UPDATE *** I caught him with my telephoto lens this morning. Isn't he a beauty? 3/17/07

I have lived in this valley for 35 years and this is the first winter I have seen a resident Varied Thrush.

There have been two that I've spotted high in the towering old deciduous trees on our street. I watch them through my binoculars. Recently one has breakfasted amongst the numerous Junco's that hop around the base of my bird feeders. The hubby and I are unable to get a picture because it is so shy and detects any movement at the patio door.

This morning I heard it's song.

At first I thought someone was blowing on a damaged whistle. The sound was so breathy and mournful. I walked out into the early light and saw it sitting in a tree that hangs over our fence line.

My hope was that he was calling to other Varied Thrush to come and join him. The most beautiful songs are likely part of the mating attraction, or warning off other suitors from a claimed territory.

I prefer to think he was sharing his joy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I love Spring

We are not finished cleaning
up the yard for the spring.

Last years plants are left as winter
forage for our bird friends, so it is
always a surprise to see the Daffodil
poke through and announce the season.

The early tulips are smaller than
the tall stately variety that we see in late
April and May.

If you ever smelled a hyacinth
on a early March morning breeze,
then you'll believe in heaven.

The Star Magnolia will look like a
snow flocked wonder in a few days.
Never a green leaf in sight until
its glory has passed.

Welcome spring.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Todays Headlines

Naked Intruder Found Asleep on Couch
"A Laguna Niguel man allegedly broke into a woman's home and fell asleep on her couch naked, according to police. The woman called authorities early Saturday morning after waking up to find Michael Bonnie, 36, on her couch covered by a blanket, Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Matt Grimmold said. The two did not appear to know each other, Grimmold said.

Police arrested Bonnie on suspicion of residential burglary and indecent exposure. He is being held on $250,000 bail."

What was he doing? Stealing a few winks?

Break A Leg, Say Gamblers, as Mills enters Dance Contest

Online gaming site bodog.com — established by Canadian-born billionaire Calvin Ayre — has opened betting on several Dancing With the Stars topics, including whether Mills's prosthetic leg will fall off during a dance routine, alongside bets about reality hits American Idol and Survivor.

Site operators specified that "Heather Mills' leg must fall off, not be purposely taken off, during a dance routine."

This is one of my favorite shows, so I'll give you guys a .. uh... Leg up... if it happens.

Stallone Charged With Importing Steroids Down Under

"According to Australian authorities, the 60-year-old action star, who did not appear in court, was caught at Sydney Airport with several vials of a steroid known as hGH (human growth hormone), during a random baggage check. Customs officials claim they found a total of 48 vials of the steroid after they raided Stallone's Sydney hotel room, limousine and private jet."

I hate to be the one to break the news to Sylvester, but I saw him in Lords of Flatbush. He's never going to get any taller.

Earthquakes shakes Northeast Ohio

"CLEVELAND -- A representative from the Golden Colorado Seismic Center confirms there was some type of a small earthquake."

Cleveland rocks.

A Refridgerator that will Toss you A Can of Bee

"It took the 22-year-old Cornwell about 150 hours and $400 in parts to modify a mini-fridge common to many college dorm rooms into the beer-tossing contraption, which can launch 10 cans of beer from its magazine before needing a reload."

During an earthquake my aunt's chest freezer tossed out all the frozen orange juice. (And her toilet walked down the hall.)

Astronaut has Wasabi spill in Space

"The spicy greenish condiment was squirted out of a tube while astronaut Sunita Williams was trying to make a pretend sushi meal with bag-packaged salmon. The three space station crewmembers are given a certain number of bonus packs of their favorite foods to help endure their months in space where most meals are the equivalent of military MREs."

Whats up with Wasabi?

Bobcat Hijacks Workers Golfcart

"Ask Missouri water plant worker Mitch Walter. He was at work, inspecting treatment plant property in a golf cart when a rabbit leaped onto the passenger seat. A 25-pound bobcat was in hot pursuit. The rabbit leaped to freedom, leaving Walter riding along with the bobcat."

Hijacked by a cat. No cat owner can be suprised by that. First, the ransom is fancy feast, then that expensive stuff in the resealing packets.

and last

Raccoon Back on the Menu at fundraiser

"HIBERNIA, Ind. (AP) After a four-year absence, raccoon is back on the menu for the Hibernia Community Building's annual fundraiser. LaVeran Lorenz, 86, has agreed to resume cooking duties for the March 24 event - with a little help with the cleaning. "It's not like cleaning a chicken, I'll tell you that," said Dina Woods, one of Lorenz's neighbors who agreed to learn how to clean raccoons for cooking."

Now here's the recipe I should have posted for Fun Monday.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Hopyard Hobo - Part 4 (Written by my late father)

In Part 1 of my father's short journal he told about the depression and his experiences in California. Part 2 told of a satisfying 5 weeks living off the fat of the land on a self sufficient farm in Southern Oregon. In Part 3, he was befriended by a Hop grower and hired , and then offered a job in the hop fields. Part 4 begins with their arrival in Portland, Oregon. Keep in mind that Prohibition had just been repealed.

After listening to Mr. Putnam and Mr. Wiseman talk breweries, beer, and hops for 275 miles I had become fascinated with hop growing, I thought how lucky I was to fall in with my new employer, for it looked as if I had a job for the spring and summer. It as also a chance to gain some valuable experience.

The next morning Mr. Putman again gave me a dollar for my breakfast and dinner and told me to do as I pleased until noon. At that time he would go to Independence, near his home. I don't suppose he knew or guessed how far a bubble chaser could stretch a dollar during the depression. Anyway, he put a lot of faith in a perfect stranger. I wasn't broke. I had enough money to last me a lifetime, provided I didn't live too long.

Mr. Putman didn't wait until afternoon to be on his way. At 10:30 a.m. he found me loafing in the lobby of the hotel. I, a hitch-hiker and drifter, must have looked out of place at ease in a good hotel.

He said, "Go to the garage and get the car. Drive around to the hotel and we will be on our way."

Hops were going up fast and he had to get out and contract with the growers as much of the 1933 crop as possible. Leaving the hotel we travelled west from Portland to Forest Grove, then south to Dallas, then east to U.S. Highway 99.

We stopped at several hop yards, but most of the growers had either already contracted them or were holding out for higher prices. Mr. Putman contracted one crop at 20 cents per pound. The price had been only 12 to 15 cents before the beer bill passed. It went to 75 cents during the month of May. The return of beer was a life saver for the hop growers.

We followed Highway 99 to Mr. Putnam's home. It was located on the Luckimute River six miles south of Independence, which is located on the banks of the Willamette River. Independence is a sort of center for the hop grower and hop worker. The community round about the city is known as one of the greatest hop producing centers in the world.

Mr. Putman had already told me that he was a family man. His wife and four children lived on his farm while he spent most of the time traveling. Two of his children, the oldest boy and the girl, were college students. The two younger ones were still in the grade schools. I had already formed a good opinion of Mr. Putnam and had taken quite a liking to him. So, I hoped also to become a friend of the family. At his home I met his wife and the younger daughter and son. His wife was a typical friendly farm woman. The daughter was a comely red-headed girl of thirteen. The boy, red-headed and freckle faced, was two or three years younger. I met the elder two later.

Soon after we arrived at the farm, Putman and I drove around the hop yard, which consists of seventy acres of Luckimute bottom land. We met his Russian foreman, John Karideff by name, and he seemed to be a likable fellow. About meal time we climbed into the car again and were off to Portland, 76 miles away.

Mr. Putman had me drive for him again the next day. He visited many hop growers, trying to buy their 1933 crop which was yet to be grown. He decided to put me to work in his hop yard so we went back to his home. When we returned I met his two older children, a girl of twenty and a boy of twenty-one. I also met three laborers, Fritz, Clarence and Micky Launer. Fritz was a caterpillar driver, commonly known as a cat skinner. The other two were common laborers, the same as I was to be, at twenty cents an hour. We had to pay seventy-five cents a day for board and lodging.

It was on April the twenty-eighth that I was initiated into my first work in a hop yard. The crew consisted of two teamsters, the foreman, two young Russian women who were sisters of the foreman, the Launers boys, and myself. Our first work was planting nursery hops, a backbreaking job done mostly by hand labor. I found later that hop yards require an enormous amount of such labor and was not as enthusiastic about it as I had been before.

I fell victim to a lot of rough kidding from the whole crew. The girls stepped rough shod on me the same as the men. They called me the "Shofer" and inquired how it felt to be demoted from driving a V-8 to planting baby hops. The hop yard develops a slang of its own the same as any other enterprise.

Well, apparently I made good with the crew. They soon stopped joking me so rough and began calling me Happy-Go-Lucky Al, which stayed with me all season. All of them were friendly and the two comely Russian girls gazed at me with smouldering black eyes which seemed to say, "Here's another victim for us." The older one was about twenty-three and the younger seventeen or eighteen.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Party Line

I have a fancy schmancy cell phone but not one of those that can walk the dog and use a pooper scoop. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have the tecknohow of those that use one. (Is tecknohow a word or did I just make it up.)

Diving into the pool of memories (yes, Robin, like a pensieve) I am amused and somewhat nostalgic about how simple phones used to be.

My childhood introduction to telephones was on a party line. There were anywhere from two-party to ten-party lines. Ours was four-party: Our family, Our Uncle and Aunt, The Eldridges, and a woman who lived across the small valley.

There was a certain protocol involved when you picked up the receiver. First, you listened before you started dialing. Yes. You could pick up the phone right in the middle of your neighbors conversation. Second, the interrupted party would often say something to make sure you would hang up. Like “Hang up!” Third, it was polite to say excuse me and discreetly replace the receiver on the cradle and try again later.

The Eldridge family had teen-age boys with the mandatory hormones. I thought they were all like James Dean with their dirty blond hair greased back and cigarettes rolled up in their sleeves. They tied the party line up while sweet-talking in the evening with their girlfriends.

Mom didn’t have much time to waste on the phone, so she would get disgusted when she wanted to make a brief call to her sister and those “darn Eldridge boys” were hogging the line again.

It's not as though the boys weren’t aware of other people’s impatience with their lengthy love chats. A party line phone coming off the hook made a very conspicuous ‘click’.

Not everyone was nice about it. One night my Uncle Dell told the boys to get off the line. That resulted in a party-line squabble that included a few weeks of “clicking” and strange noises interrupting personal calls.

The provocation prompted my brothers, Mike and Nick, to hatch the perfect scheme. They unscrewed the telephone mouthpiece and removed the little round part that I assume was the microphone. They could then pick up the phone, click the button to imitate a hang up, and laugh out-loud while they listened to the Eldridge boys making lovey dovey on the phone to their sweethearts. It was great entertainment. Later, Mike would entertain us by mimicking them and making kissy smoochy sounds.

The fun came to an abrupt halt one evening when mom ran to answer the phone and discovered it still in pieces.

Aunt Myrtle must have heard about the little snooping game we played. If anyone picked up the phone during one of her calls, she would shout, “Mike, is that you!”

An acquaintance approached mom one day with a strange request. She wanted mom to “eavesdrop” on the calls of the widow that shared our party line. She suspected her husband and the woman were having an affair. I think my mom was speechless at the audacity of the request. She declined, of course.

An oft heard and repeated urban legend told of an old woman who used her party line phone to gossip incessantly. A young man, who was fed up with the busybody, pretended there was an emergency so that she would release the line. Naturally, she listened in when he placed his call. She was ticked!! A few days later his wife fell deathly ill; the situation was urgent. As luck would have it, the old biddy was on the phone. His pleading for the phone line received a haughty and adamant refusal. The man’s wife died and the next day someone murdered the old woman using a tire iron.

Hearing this spooky story, you may understand my childish relief when the telephone company put in a private line. I still remember that new number: Temple 3-4363.

Here is some irony. Back then there were four families sharing one phone line. Now the hubby and I are one family sharing four phone lines. We have our regular landline (with four phones), our fax machine line, andwe each have a personal cell phone.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Grams story, Part 2

(Part 1 of Grams Story can be read here.)

Ten year old Jennie‘s life had changed. Living on a wheat ranch in 1912 was arduous – but much more so with the loss of a parent.

Her older sisters married and started families of their own, leaving Jennie in charge of caring for her dad and remaining four siblings. Each day when school released she raced down the road towards home to the washing and ironing. She felt that she could never do anything right for her dad. She had no memories of hugs or kisses. She thought Fern, her younger sister, was the apple of his eye. In spite of this, she still loved Fern with all her heart.

The newspaper reported a story about some other racing after school. Placing bets on whose horse was faster, they competed down the main street of town. The perpetrators were fined.

Talk in town included the bounty on coyote pelts, the new bridge being planned over the Touchet River, and growing Alfalfa as an experimental seed crop

In 1913, news spread quickly that a Saloon was opening in town and construction would begin on a 16-mile stretch of the Inland Empire Highway. Those so inclined wouldn’t need to drive to Walla Walla for a drink anymore, but the new highway made the ride much easier.

The obituaries sadly included many deaths of little ones from childhood diseases and of adults from accidents, tuberculosis, and gangrene.

A circus called Sells-Floto passed through town when Jennie was 12. They paraded through the streets lead by a “Buffalo Bill” famous Indian Scout and fighter. The following January 1915 Helen Keller and her teacher visited a local church.

That same year Raleigh moved to town with his parents, five brothers, and sister Blanche. His parents had been friends with the Dodd’s back in Kansas. It seemed natural that they stay in the small house on the ranch with Jennie’s family until they could find a home of their own. It wasn’t long before the children were fast friends. Sometimes late in the evening Raleigh’s father would play his fiddle. Jennie loved Raleigh’s mom and was impressed by her open affection for her family. She resolved to love any children she may have in the same way.

Raleigh was especially nice to Jennie. He “respected” her and they liked to “talk” and he was “never rude or loud.” Even after Raleigh’s family found a dwelling, he continued to walk her to school each day and find excuses to visit.

In April 1917, the town installed its first electric lights. It also marked the time when young men volunteered for World War I. The women in the valley did their part by knitting blankets for the soldiers.

The friendship that Jennie and Raleigh shared began evolving into something more. They didn’t have much time to spend together, but when the opportunity arose, they managed to linger just a moment longer. Raleigh was working part time for some local farmers, going to school, and playing sports. Jennie was going to school, keeping house, and playing girls’ basketball. Aunti Fern said she doesn’t know how Jennie did that and everything else her dad required of her.

The Army drafted Earl, Jennie’s brother in law, in August 1918. By October, the “influenza” reached the tranquil valley. Schools closed, church services cancelled, and people stayed home in an attempt to stop the spread.

In spite of the quarantine, when the war ended on November 11, the townsfolk built a huge bonfire where young and old came to sing, shout, and give speeches.

By this time, Raleigh was over 6 foot tall. Jennie recalled the day he knocked on the front door for an official first date. He was so handsome and she was all smiles when they went on that Sunday ride in a Model T Ford.

The big parade on February 22, 1919 honored all the local servicemen. This included some from the Spanish American war in addition to 24 veterans of the Civil War. I wonder if Earl was there marching in his uniform and they waved and hooted as he strode past.

Prohibition was in force and every small town had its white lightning. Touchet was no exception and in October, there was a raid on a “corn whiskey” still. Fortunately, the economy didn’t depend on contraband. There was profit in that new crop,Alfalfa, in addition to hay, apples, and wheat.

In 1920, Jennie’s good friend Naomi became the first May Queen. She used a lace curtain for a train, while Raleigh was one of the attendants. He wore tall rubber boots, a cape, and a wide brimmed hat with a feather.

The following summer, Raleigh’s older brother Carl bought a brand new Ford. By this time, Jennie and Raleigh went on dates as much as their busy lives allowed. Jennie’s brother, Roy, and Raleigh’s sister, Blanche, began courting. The four of them would drive into Walla Walla for a “show.” Other times they would hop into the car just for a spin around town.

She graduated from Touchet High School in spring of 1921, with plans to attend Normal School to attain her teaching certificate. It seemed an odd choice for a girl who didn’t like school and was so much in love.

Her father accepted her decision and agreed to help with the tuition. Raleigh went to work full time for a local wheat rancher.

Jennie came home over the holiday and Raleigh took her to a dance at the Touchet Woodmen Hall. Dances were the highlights for everyone in town. It was during a slow sweet dance on a cold winter night that Raleigh said, “I love you. Will you marry me?”

Jennie responded, “When? Soon, I hope.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fun Monday - The Worst Opening Sentence

The sun poked through the slatted window like the tines of a fork, because a spoon is too rounded, skewing her eyeballs, her head a wedge of muenster squeezed between two saltines, which have more crumbs than club crackers, that were continually scratching her throat, and the bottom of a canary cage taste in her mouth, not assuming otherwise about parakeets, with the resulting feathers pressuring her to sneeze and all the symptoms twisting her like a Rubik’s cube, rather than Twister that requires other players, throughout the night making her feel as though she’d been hit by a truck; a thought confirmed when she looked up to see Ken Worth standing in the hallway.

This weeks Fun Monday challenge is "To compose an exceptionally bad opening sentence for any piece of writing (not limited to novels...but not including blog posts) and to include a photograph or brief description of some aspect of that sentence."

If you appreciated (or didn't) the one I wrote then you'll want to enjoy more of the same. This Monday, March 5, check out Min's list over at Mama Drama to see who is participating in this Fun Monday.

PS. I hope "her" is feeling better soon.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Birds, Bees, Blooms, and Bugs.

I thought I would make it through to spring without catching the current bug. I guess not.

All week I have been miserable --- sore throat, cough, headache, chills, crankies.

I wasn't so sick that I didn't get out of bed and drag myself to work. It was one of those weeks that I couldn't give myself that choice, anyway.

So, this morning I lounged in my pajama's and watched the birds.

The goldfinch (still in their winter garb of course) were feeding
on the Niger and Sunflower seeds. I enjoyed the flitting Junco's, the Magpie, a Varied Thrush, and several other varieties of sparrows.

I thought they were eating an enormous quantity the
last few days; then I saw Mr. Squirrel.

I thought I'd enticed him away with the
peanuts I left on the ground.
Maybe I should just give the peanuts
to the hubby.

I put on my shoes and went out to
fill the feeder again when I heard something buzz
past my ear.

Looking around I discovered
the heather was blossoming
and there were several
honeybees enjoying it. Where did they come from?
It snowed as recently as Thursday.

Did you read in the news that there is
something called "colony collapse disorder"
that is decimating the country's bee population.
What will the farmers do? and then what will we do?
Doesn't nearly everything we eat require pollination?
Click on the picture to the right to see our early
buzzer... red arrow pointing at it.

I bought myself flowers to make me
feel better. I placed them on the brick pillar
so they could gaze at the sun that broke through the clouds
late today.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Speaking of Birthdays

Melissa, I remember my thirtieth birthday.

I woke up that morning with a mission. There would be no tears – I would accept that I was no longer 20 something. I planned to be gracious and mature.

There are some days that just don’t follow the rules

The celebration began early with kisses and hugs and lovely presents wrapped so beautifully. The hubby is one of those guys (of whom there are a few) that can go shopping and purchase presents that a girl really likes. In addition he buys cards and wrapping paper and ribbons. He measures, cuts, folds, and tapes as nicely as if a professional had prepared it.

After breakfast the festive boxes were set before me and I felt like a princess. (Albeit, a thirty year-old one.)

I’m sure he cringed when I tore the ribbon and papers to bits - just like I always did. What I’m sure he didn’t expect was to see my face fall after opening the first gift.

It was a silk blouse with long sleeves and button down collar in the perfect color for my season. Just like any woman’s eyes would do, mine scanned the neckline for the sewn in name label and size tag.

My body was just 5 months recovered from giving birth to baby number three. Physically I was like a rubber band that had been snapped one too many times. When she was just 10 weeks old, I went back to work wearing another woman’s clothes. Well, they were mine. It was only that before this baby I was another woman.

The pre-pregnancy size garment was held in front of my horrified face knowing the tears were close. The man must have gone into my closet and looked at the sizes hanging in there that I hoped to fit into again.

I opened the next one, and the next one, and the next one. All beautiful clothes, perfect in color and style. This man knew his woman. Everything but her size!

Tears. Of course. Then questions.

From him: What’s wrong? Don’t you like them? Are they the wrong color?

From me: Are you trying to tell me I need to lose weight? Didn’t you know I can’t fit into this size anymore?

From him: You can take them back and exchange them for a larger size.

From me: Boo hoo hooo. Then run away and hides in the bathroom with a cold washcloth on my face.

The day wasn’t over.

We had lunch with friends John and Janet. I’m sure it was fine because I don’t remember anything about it.

I do recall silently ruminating the events of the morning and the contents of the boxes sitting in my bedroom. That’s probably why I suggested to Janet that we take a walk after eating. She agreed.

With her dog on a leash and my baby snuggled into my back carrier, we strolled down the road towards the park.

We were two blocks away when a vehicle approaching from behind started honking, causing us to turn in response. The pick up truck passenger, hanging out the window, flung the contents of a 32 oz paper cup over the three of us.

My immediate concern was the unknown substance that was on my baby. Janet wisely turned and repeated the license plate out loud. Our noses almost immediately identified the liquid. Beer.

John was hot when we got home with our lamentations. He prepared to go make mince meat of someone’s face. I admit that I was ready to watch him do it. Fortunately, the hubby was (and is) the level headed one.

The police caught up with the inebriated men inside the truck owner’s house. He was a driver for a local beer distributor. The other was on the ballot in the upcoming election for county fire commissioner.

Neither drunk was cited, only given a written warning (for whatever that is worth). The passenger, the one in the election, wrote me a personal letter of apology that indicated he could be a third grade drop out.

What a day! Hormonal weeping over clothes nice enough for a smaller princess and being christened to set sail into my thirties… not with champagne, but with stinkin’ beer.

I woke up that morning with a mission. I wanted to be gracious and mature, but I wasn’t.

In the meantime, however, I’ve had hundreds of birthdays to make up for it.

PS. I know someone may want to know.

The hubby, who was at the time the hunkiest firefighter on the force, took the letter and passed it around at the local IAFF (firefighter’s union) meeting. It was at this meeting that they determined who the Union would support for fire commissioner in the upcoming election. It was the hubby's way of driving by and throwing the contents of his cup.