Saturday, September 23, 2017


The Dobson Farmhouse is now the home of Mike and Kathy Warnock

The new house, 1917
One hundred years ago, my grandparents, Jack and Ina Dobson, built this sturdy farmhouse on their homestead at Gilbert, south of Orofino. Modest by today’s standards – and perhaps modest in their day as well – it was nevertheless a giant step forward in their living circumstances. For the first 20 years of their life here, they lived in a rustic, hastily-built little cabin onto which Grandpa eventually added a lean-to. The youngest three of their six children were born in that cabin, including my dad Vance. So, in a sense, the farmhouse came too late to benefit the family situation because by 1917, only my dad and Shirley were still at home.
Lacking the amenities – plumbing, electricity, and heat – the house nevertheless served Grandma and Grandpa comfortably for the rest of their lives. Grandpa passed in 1946, and Grandma Ina continued to live here with the care and companionship of her daughter Myrtle until she passed in 1957. My dad and his family lived in Orofino, but he came frequently to provide maintenance and supplies. He also farmed.

The south side
After Grandma’s passing, the house received some care through my dad and half-brother Chuck, but eventually it fell into disrepair. When a tree fell on it in 1996, Mike and I decided to remodel it with an eye to preservation as well as modernization. I like to think the house still stands as a testament to a bygone way of life. KW
[A portrait of the family on the front steps of the new house was a great idea. Too bad it isn't good. Nevertheless, I cropped the picture and enlarged it in order to identify: Ina and Jack Dobson stand on the right. The others are five of their six children: Vance (my dad) and Shirley stand in front with Ethel, Earle, and Pearl behind.]

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Rainy and bleak to the south. (Sept. 20)
Tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day, they say. Tomorrow (Sept. 22) it will officially be fall. Well, tomorrow’s date is just a line in the sand. It’s actually been fall for several days. The official calendar makes no difference to the whim of our weather patterns. The trees have yet to dress in their autumn colors, but it won’t be long. And I look forward to it because the bleak landscape could use some color.

To the north -- more bleakness
Locals have not enjoyed the sudden shift from hot to cold. Last Thursday as we left the farm, I pulled the electric blanket up as I made the bed but stopped short of putting out my winter pajamas. I needn’t have been reticent. Returning to the farmhouse Tuesday evening (Sept. 19), I turned on the electric blanket, pulled up the quilt, put a pillow at Mike’s feet, AND put on my winter pajamas.

Today -- low clouds and unsettled
Not only is it cold, but it has rained off and on since Sunday, and we need that rain here. I know, I know -- it’s tough to understand this when everyone talks about water devastation in Texas and Florida, etc., but it’s dry here, and we desperately need the rain. Rain makes for a dreary day, but we just have to appreciate that moisture.

It was almost suppertime when we arrived here Tuesday evening. After performing the ritual of arrival, Mike took down the hammock frame and put it away. He also started a fire in the fireplace. He has yet to light the pilot in the wall furnace – not one of his favorite chores. 

Pumpkins #1 and #2
Pumpkin #3

I visited the garden and was happy to see that it didn’t freeze. I picked a few cherry tomatoes, noted another zucchini coming on, and checked the pumpkins. Pumpkin #2 is still green but twice the size of Pumpkin #1, which is now a deep yellow-orange. Pumpkin #3 is still very young but has doubled in size since last week and developed some striping. I found two more young ones. You might recall that the first of August I was ready to tear out the pumpkin, vowing never to plant pumpkin again. I’m glad I left it, but I fear that the young-uns won’t mature.

Yesterday afternoon a satellite repairman came out from Lewiston to fix our Dish satellite. We’d been missing half our channels for several months, but now that football season is upon us, it was finally really important to fix it.

The lilacs, stressed by the heat, are feeling much better now.
While we were gone, Farmer Kyle apparently raked our fields again, obliterating our pathway and knocking down our temporary landmarks. It’s okay though. It’s easy to walk across the fields now, even after the rain, but it will all be over soon when the fields are planted again. I think it’s winter wheat, and I look forward to amber waves of grain again.

Later . . . KW

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Halloween afghan in progress. Will I finish it this year?
According to the calendar, fall officially begins on the 22nd (Friday), but Mike and I agree that unofficially, summer is gone and won’t be back. Yesterday’s low here in town dipped into the 30s, and I wonder what happened at the farm, where it was likely even colder. Did it frost? I can almost say, “There went the garden,” but I’ll just have to see. I’m tired of the drill anyway – carrying water – so if it’s over, I will accept it stoically, though I would like to have fresh zucchini all winter.

Yesterday’s high was in the 70s. I was still chilly in the afternoon, so I took up work on my Halloween afghan in progress. It wasn’t easy to pick up where I left off. First I had to find it, then I had to locate the instructions. Fortunately, I put the work away with the crochet hook attached. And while I was out yesterday, I bought more yarn.

This drought-tolerant garden is tired.
Take it from me, stopping mid-project brings difficulties, as in “now where was I?” I’ve been pondering why it is that I can’t seem to work in a straight line and finish what I start. For one thing, I have always needed a variety of activities – something to sew, something to crochet, big projects that take time, and less intense ones that satisfy because they finish easily. But there are reasons for drifting away from a project. Often my work does not measure up to my expectations. Or, sometimes I get into something and realize I’m just not interested in it for whatever reason. Or, as with the Halloween afghan, the season ends and I must move on with something else. And if I’m interrupted at a crucial point, the probability exists that I just won’t get back to it. The muse seems to leave at the slightest provocation.

Even so, I’ve concluded that something in human nature just likes to start projects while something else doesn’t like to finish them. At least that’s the way it is for me. And yes, there is an element of discipline required here. I’d be the first to admit that my project life is a bit out of control. On the other hand, it could be worse – a lot worse – because today we’re bombarded with ideas and possibilities. KW

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Mike made a day trip into Pittsburgh Landing on the Snake River today, but that’s his story. I stayed behind with Bess and Nellie. I did laundry, and I put out my Halloween display. No, it is not too early. Halloween is the basis of my fall decorating, and after Halloween it easily segues into Thanksgiving.

About 3:30, Nellie expressed interest in going out, so as I prepared for the afternoon walk, I happened to glance out the dining room window to the north field. There, very close to the yard, were two doe. I picked up the camera and carefully went out on the porch. If they saw me, they didn’t let on. I continued to watch and take pictures for a while.

Bess watched, too, from her perch on the kitchen porch.

When the deer didn’t move, I walked toward the field just to see what would happen. I was beyond the driveway when one of the deer signaled (a kind of trumpeting sound), and that’s when I discovered there were really four deer, one of which was a buck. (What’s he doing with all those girls anyway?) They all ran into the middle of the field and stopped in a group to look back at me. We stared at each other for a long moment. Then one of the deer, probably the buck, warned again, and shortly thereafter they turned tail and ran.

Bess lethargically refused to acknowledge that anything had happened. She’s bummed because with Mike gone, she knows she won’t be hunting this afternoon. Don't think she didn't complain about it, too. Whine, whine, whine.

(And by the way, as I stood on the porch a hummingbird approached, looking for nectar. I just can’t win!) KW


Looking northeasterly from the south field. The fields grow brown as the rape canes deteriorate.

It was nearly 5:00 yesterday morning when one of us pulled up the blanket and the other punched the button to turn it on. We never did go back to sleep. When I got up at 6:00, it was a chilly 54 degrees. As I dressed, I laid out my flannel pajamas and made the bed with blankets at the ready, but it was all “a bit too previous.” By noon the sun was good and warm, and at bedtime the house was still too warm for flannel and blankets. Ah, such is the way of the seasonal change.
Now we see Teakean Butte . . .

These cool mornings are another way that garden plants and other vegetation realize that the season is indeed changing. Brother Chuck asked me if my garden is still producing, and I mentioned the pumpkins and the zucchini and the cherry tomatoes. We assured each other that they would continue to produce for several weeks. But –we’ll see.
. . . now we don't.

My mother used to say that by Sept. 10 it was necessary to dispel the morning chill for the health of her family, and she would insist on a fire in the furnace. That was her belief, but Mike and I don’t live that way and seem to get by just fine with jackets and sweaters – and perhaps baking something.

. . . now it disappears.
Now we see Little Canyon . . .
And the wildfire smoke? – Well, over the weekend the air cleared a lot, and now our land features fade in and out. Yesterday morning I could clearly see Teakean Butte to the north, but smoke was visible above the river. To the south, Little Canyon still held some smoke. But within an hour, the smoke was drifting in again, obliterating our view of the butte and the canyon. Oh well. At least the sky is blue above us.

I picked my one zucchini and made my mélange – sliced zucchini, tomatoes, green pepper, and onions seasoned with sugar, salt, pepper, and allspice. Delicious! Garden zucchini is definitely the way to go. Another little pumpkin is setting on, but I don’t suppose it has time to mature. KW