Thursday, January 31, 2008


Yesterday (Wednesday) Mike had a morning from hell. Tuesday had been exceptionally busy for him – lots of clients at TaxTyme and a wilderness meeting in the evening. He didn’t get home until after 9:00. He got up Wednesday at 5:30 in order to make a batch of oat bran muffins but he thought it was Thursday (garbage pick-up day). So, he dashed around, gathered all the house trash to the garbage can and carried it out to the street in order to make the 6:00 a.m. pick-up time, discovering that our sloping driveway was treacherously slick. Coming back into the house, he realized it was really Wednesday and that he had forgotten to get the paper. So, he finished mixing his muffins, put them in the oven, then went back out to get the garbage can and the paper. On his way up the driveway, he slipped and fell, hitting his head on the pavement. He was dazed by the fall, so he was outside recovering for a few minutes.

Back in the house, he stretched out on the sofa with an ice pack. The gash above his eyebrow was bleeding freely. Meanwhile, his muffins were done, so he took those out of the oven, leaving the oven door open. The sudden burst of heat in the cold house triggered the smoke alarm which began its shrill cheeping to alert us to non-existent fire danger. That panicked Nellie who plastered herself to my knee.

Well, Mike ate breakfast while I fixed a lunch for him and he went on to work despite his injury. A blessed calm came over the house. Later in the morning, he had a routine follow-up with the podiatrist who bandaged his wound for him. He was in good spirits last night and took this “self portrait.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Mary Jane saw our entry on meatloaf. She found the following especially appropriate during the holidays when she served family members of diverse food preferences, i.e. some don’t eat pork, one doesn’t eat eggs, etc.
1 cup tomato sauce
1 ½ tablespoons Kraft original barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ½ pounds ground sirloin (10% fat)
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Dash garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Combine the tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until it begins to bubble, stirring often, then remove it from the heat. In a large bowl, add all but 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce to the meat. Use a large wooden spoon or your hands to work the sauce into the meat until it is very well combined. Combine the remaining ingredients (the spices and flour) and work into the meat mixture. Place the meat mixture into a loaf pan. Wrap foil over the pan and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take from the oven and drain. Slice into 8 portions -- all the way through. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of sauce over the top of the meatloaf in a stream down the center. Don’t spread the sauce.

Return meatloaf to the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until done. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.
[The photo is of my dad preparing a holiday meal in 1957, several years before they remodeled the kitchen.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


TaxTyme, Mike’s tax prep business, is now entering its busiest period – this week and the next two weeks. Yesterday (Monday) was a big day, and he left for work at 6:30 this morning to receive reports and prepare folders. He plans to attend a wilderness meeting at the Quality Inn this evening, so it will be especially late when he gets home. I will be “on my own” for supper.

It snowed Sunday and as I look out my window I see a driveway covered in snow and ice and snow on the hills, but Mike says right here is the worst part of his drive to work – the main drag is bare. He said the winter look here was a surprise to him. More snow is expected for today. An article in today’s Trib covered problems associated with school closures.

I thought you might enjoy seeing this picture of my quilt blocks. The pattern is “Turning Twenty Again.” I’m ready to start sewing them together.

Monday, January 28, 2008


In a letter dated October 1934, Ina writes to Vance in response to his criticism of his dad, Jack:

“Myrtle said that you give all credit to me for you children, but Belovedest! You have a lot to give Dad credit for, too, though I know how you feel about some things. He is honest, hardworking, ambitious, independent, public spirited; wanted to carve his own way and not work for someone else, wanted his sons to do likewise and never wanted his daughters to work for others. He’s always been strictly decent, does not believe in ‘filthy communication.’ He’s been greatly handicapped by being a poor head at arithmetic, a poor manager, and having a wild, excitable temper. Let’s give credit for the much that is good. I’m not blaming you for not doing so. I’ve complained a lot and not made enough of the good points.”

This little paragraph speaks volumes to me. It says that Ina has been guilty of criticizing Jack to the children to such an extent that at least one is taking her side. She has the grace to acknowledge that, expound on Jack’s virtues and relate his difficulties as handicaps. Ina says that Jack wanted to find success as an independent workman and he wanted that for his sons and daughters as well. Was this a general attitude of the time? Did this motivate the homestead movement? I want to know more.
[The photo above was taken in the 1940s -- Vance, Jack, and Earle in the farmyard.]

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Among my favorite dolls were the 8-inch Vogue Ginny dolls. I had two, and they are associated with favorite memories. I received my first Ginny when I was about 4 years old, the “what-did-you-bring-me?” gift from Mother and Daddy when they went to Spokane. Ginny had dark hair and was dressed in a yellow skort and a long-sleeved yellow T-shirt that said “Ginny” all over it. I think she had roller skates.
Sometime after receiving the first Ginny, I stopped in unannounced at my Grandma Portfors’ house. I opened the front door and called to her and she made a cry of surprise. She was sitting at the dining room table with scraps of fabric. She made as though she were hastily covering something. As I came near her, I saw little “Ginny” feet sticking out under a scrap of fabric. Even to my five-year-old mind, it looked quite contrived. It would have been easier to cover those little feet than not to cover them. But Grandma feigned ignorance – would not acknowledge the feet or tell me what she was doing. Not long after, Grandma had a stroke and did not recover. I came down with the measles the same day she died and was confined to an upstairs bedroom due to all the arriving relatives. I remember Mother smiling at me through tears, and I remember she went to Grandma’s house and came back with that “Ginny.” Grandma had made her a nightie and robe by hand. I recognized the fabric and knew I had caught her in the act.

How very poignant that whole experience seems to me – my grandmother playing a little trick on me and then leaving us and my mother wisely allowing me to have the doll when it would most reinforce my memory of Grandma. This is my only clear memory of Grandma. Mother said later that Grandma wanted me to have the doll. “Why do we have to wait for Christmas?” she argued. “She knows about it – you just as well let her have it.”
[Ginny and Mary -- 53 years later. Mother made their matching dresses. Like little girls of the 1950s, they are patiently looking forward to new dresses -- possibly new shoes.]

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I am one of those people whose day is ruined if my usual route to town has to be altered. I like to sit in my own place at the table, designate a place as my own in the living room where my projects are within reach – AND -- I prefer my side of the bed. “I have to get up early so let’s change sides of the bed for tonight,” Mike might say. But I’d rather wake up early on my own side of the bed than spend a sleepless night in unfamiliar territory – the other side of the bed. It might as well be the other side of the world. This is nothing new. I have always been this way.

When Mike had foot surgery, it only made sense for us to switch sides of the bed so that he would be closer to the bathroom, have less furniture to negotiate, etc. So, I switched the drawers of our bedside tables, our pillows, and Mike’s reading light for the duration of his recuperation. I understood the necessity of the change and was willing to do it, but I did not adjust well. I can never remember to open the window, don’t like sleeping by the open window, and only recently have I begun to sleep through the night.

We have now come to the end of Mike’s recuperation period. “So,” I asked, trying to introduce the topic casually, “are we going to continue this way or switch sides of the bed again?” “I think we should switch back,” Mike replied. “I really like to sleep by the window.” “All right,” I sighed softly. Yessss! My inner self yelled.

Are you a creature of habit – or do you prefer to mix it up?

Friday, January 25, 2008


Hallie relates that she met with a meatloaf she didn’t like. It incorporated peas, carrots, onions, and green peppers and all of that was over the top to her. “Please send me your recipe,” she said. Probably anyone who makes meatloaf has his / her favorite method. I say “method” because meatloaf is a dish that once you learn the basics, you begin to add this or alter that according to your tastes, your time, etc. The recipe goes out the window.

Yes, meatloaf is very individual. I remember a camping trip with an in-law who provided meatloaf for sandwiches, thinking this was a kindness. It was dry and tasteless and I don’t much care for meatloaf sandwiches anyway. My mother’s meatloaf was moist but bland. What I remember most about her method was that she used soda cracker crumbs for the filler, painstakingly crushing the crackers between two layers of waxed paper by means of a rolling pin – a process that I believe is not worth my time. I don’t even like to make crumbs in my food processor.

When I make meatloaf, I take a pound of diet lean ground beef (ground turkey or venison also works well) and mix it with ½ cup of barbecue sauce and one egg. Then I add ½ cup oatmeal as the filler, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. If I want it a little moister, I add more ketchup or barbecue sauce. Bake 45 minutes at 350. Now that my finicky children are grown, I might add diced onions and / or green pepper. If I have a piece of stale bread, I might use that instead of oatmeal. Sometimes I use purchased dry bread crumbs (probably ¼ cup) – but never soda cracker crumbs. Some people suggest doubling the recipe and taking advantage of the hot oven to bake two meatloaves and then freezing one for a quick meal at another time.

How about you? What’s your favorite meatloaf?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


The rap at the door was firm and demanding, breaking our lunchtime reverie. Nellie arose from her pillow and cautiously checked the back door. I knew it was the front door. I knew it was the mailman. He handed me a stack of four packages – books I ordered through Amazon last week. Happy day!

[Photo -- Idaho farm girl (?), 1956]
Here are the book titles:
Little House in the Ozarks, a compilation of articles written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We discussed this book a couple of weeks ago. It has been revised and reprinted with a new publisher, but since I could buy this edition (1991) for little more than shipping & handling, I did so.

The other three books are by MaryJane Butters:
-- MaryJane’s Farmgirl Journal: a lined notebook with MaryJane’s farmgirl wisdom interspersed. On the back it says, “Are you a terribly tenacious, hardworking, can-do, will-do, stick-to-it kind of gal? [Not sure I really qualify.] If so, you’re a farmgirl at heart. Sprinkled with seeds of wisdom by MaryJane Butters – America’s organic lifestyle maven – this lined journal offers fresh inspiration for enjoying life’s simple pleasures, celebrating a job well-done, and reconnecting with others.”

-- MaryJane’s Ideabook-Cookbook-Lifebook (for the farmgirl in all of us), a thick book with lots of pictures, recipes, and instructions for vintage arts. It’s farm nostalgia (1930 to 1960).

-- MaryJane’s Stitching Room. This book was published last year and caught my eye as I was setting up Kathy’s Vintage Sewing Room. It announces 47 projects, including embroidery, crochet, tatting, and stitchery. MaryJane is especially into aprons, tea towels, potholders, doilies – the home decorative touches of a bygone era.

These books are new friends for my library – reference books, sources of inspiration. Where do you look for inspiration? What gives you a lift when you’re down or spurs you to action when you need “to get on with it?”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


January 23, 1952 -- Mike's 11th birthday. KW

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Mike didn’t like the Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Rebound Banana-Flax-Almond Matcha Green Tea cereal. Now, Mike eats a double portion of high-fiber cereal for breakfast most every morning, and he had been trying to use up this cereal. He told me he was at the point of giving it to the dog because he just couldn’t abide the strange under taste. (Probably the tea.)

Rather than give it to the dog, I decided to make cookies out of it. “Banana-Flax-Almond” caught my eye and I thought of a recipe Aunt Chris gave me many years ago when I was a bride with a ready-made family to feed – Banana Oatmeal Cookies. Sure enough – I found that recipe and made a batch of Optimum Rebound Banana-Flax-Almond Matcha Green Tea Banana Oatmeal Cookies. I sampled a warm one. It was delicious!

Remember – watch for it by name: Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Rebound Banana-Flax-Almond Matcha Green Tea cereal – and avoid it. Some organic cereals are quite good – this isn’t one of them. KW

Monday, January 21, 2008


Today I have STRUGGLED to put a new zipper in an old jacket of Mike's. This is the third day I have worked on it. The first day, I ripped the old zipper out. The second day, I basted the placket and then the new zipper in place. Today I machine stitched only to discover my stitching was too close to the zipper teeth. The zipper wouldn't operate. I am now in the process of ripping it out again.

I tell you this only so you won't question what I have been doing. I did manage to shorten a pair of new Levis for Mike. And that's all I have accomplished today. (There are no pictures to illustrate this blog.) KW

Sunday, January 20, 2008


It took me a while to find this next doll online. At first, I was calling her a jointed doll and that didn’t get me very far. A lot of dolls are jointed. But then I heard the inner voice say (yes, I have an inner voice and so do you), “16 joints.” Aha! That’s it! And with that I found info on “Dollikins” and “Mannikin.” I think my doll is a Mannikin. I think I named her Sandra.

I don’t remember the exact year she was my Christmas doll – maybe 1961 or so. My hope was to move beyond simple baby doll clothes and make her an exquisite wardrobe. She came dressed in plaid pants, a red felt vest, and high heels. Those were the days when Mary Tyler Moore was setting fashion trends by wearing Capri pants on television. Women were just beginning to experiment with slacks. So this doll outfit was very trendy. She looked great in the box – very sophisticated, but --- when we took her out, the back of her hair was an absolute mess. I have no idea what could have happened to her. The upper layer of her rooted saran hair had been chopped off and what was left below that was a tangled mess – and still is. Mother and I were both disappointed and it should have been unacceptable, but Mother said, “Oh well” and I never complained. And that was that.

One day in the same timeframe, Chris came to my house and brought her lovely lady doll. She was about the size of mine but built a little differently -- slimmer. The pattern we had actually fit her doll while we had to adjust for my doll – another disappointment. Mother helped both of us sew that afternoon. I was making a bridal gown – and true to form it took me forever to finish it! And Chris made an evening gown for hers -- maybe two or three gowns while I struggled with mine. Anyway, that afternoon of sewing is a pleasant memory. There should have been more such afternoons. Surely we couldn’t have been that busy!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


January 13, 1935 – Ina writes:
“Myrtle sent two books . . . One book is Cross Road, a story of Arabian adventures, fascinating but harsh and cruel. It is by Joseph Kessel – never read anything by him before. The other is “The Coming of the Lord,” by Sarah Gertrude Millin. Never heard of her before. The story is laid in South Africa and concerns a religious sect. I have only just begun it. We do enjoy our evenings reading. We have a lot of geographics to read – also Colliers, the past L.H.J., three Copper Monthlies, Pathfinder, Daily Chronicle, Clearwater Tribune, and M.W.A. monthly. Also Christian Herald. Dad finds plenty to do these short days and so do I. We have been canning meat and presently I’ll be making soap and turning sheets and getting my dresses made.”

I can just picture Jack and Ina sitting companionably in the living room before the fire or perhaps at the dining room table on long winter’s evenings. Ina has tidied the kitchen after a simple supper and for the next couple of hours they will read. The only sounds will be the hiss of the Aladdin lamp, the steady ticking of the mantel clock, and the occasional turning of a page. Maybe one of them will interrupt the quietude to share a passage from a book or an article. You just know that’s the way they spent the long winter evenings.

I so enjoy the presentation of Ina and her family through her own words. It’s fascinating to me that since I’ve identified this interest in the details of farm life in the 1930s, I see it everywhere. I ordered five books on Amazon the other day, all of them relating to the values of a simpler time. My research takes me not so much to history as to recipe boxes and books, vintage magazines and handiwork patterns, photograph albums and the contents of old trunks. And yesterday there was yet another interesting book review in the Lewiston Tribune -- “Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression,” the memoirs of Mildred Armstrong Kalish, now 85. Quoting from the review: “She briefly describes her family – an absent father, strict grandparents, spirited aunts, mischievous siblings and a complicated mother. Yet it’s their chores, recipes, old sayings, pranks and virtues that dominate the book.” And in the final paragraph of the review, Mrs. Kalish says, “’And, of course, my momma is practically a slim volume in itself, and understanding my mother has taken me about, I guess, the last 80 years, so that will be my next (book).’”

Those words, “complicated mother,” stood out to me and immediately piqued my interest because that’s the way I think of Ina. She has a high school education, a teaching certificate, a love of the intellectual, and an obvious talent for descriptive writing. Yet, she’s a farm wife and mother whose daily work is hard. During her lifetime, conveniences will become commonplace in the American home, but it won’t happen for her.
[This picture of Ina is captioned "A spring wash day 1921 by Irl."]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guest Blog: Dry Paint

Hello to my mother's readership! I know I left you hanging with the saga of my bathroom, but today I implore you to gather round for the final installment of, "Hallie's Painting Adventure." When last we left our heroine, she was surrounded in an avocado green bathroom of despair. That's right, her green bathroom was making her BLUE!

Sunday morning Nick and I went to Home Depot and gathered up a stack of paint squares. We taped them to the wall and began to narrow down the choices. I was still tempted with the green, and "Tide Pools" made it to the final four, but ultimately got cut. I did some research on bathroom colors (has my mom told you about this thing called the Internet? It's great!). I learned that a green bathroom can make you look old. (!) I also know that I'm kind of a yellowy person (peach is out, yellow is out), green seemed cold and I felt intimidated by blue. We traveled back to Home Depot and picked up a quart of Regal and a quart of Malibu Coast. Both colors were a sort of light, warm brown, with hints of pink.

We painted several areas with either color and decided that we liked Regal best, but thought the next step darker would probably be even better. So that's what we did. We went back (I think the paint lady was laughing at us by that time) and got a gallon of Adobe Straw (who names these things???). The very BEST part of my day was that there was a guy with his Great Dane in the store and I got to pet him (dog). It was AWESOME! The dog's name was Big Man (maybe he should have talked to the paint naming people) and he weighed 175! He leaned on me while I pet him and I almost knocked over an aisle display. ha ha!

I digress...the new color is fabulous. Being in the brown family, it creates a nice transition from the other browns in my condo without a shock. The room feels warmer, and I'm pretty sure the pink hues make me look young and vibrant.

Special notes: Nick did all of the cutting-in from the ceiling and it's PERFECT. I didn't even think that was possible. The lovely jewelry box on the counter in the first picture was a Christmas gift and in the second picture, you can see that we left the inside of the laundry closet the original color.


You know, one of the great things about being grown up (and beyond) is that you get to spoil your inner child. I believe there really is a second childhood when you have time to better the world by being the best child you can be – not childish but childlike. I have decided to cherish the child in myself by indulging my love of dolls. I’ll start with the ones I already have and see where that takes me.

If I were to be a genuine collector of dolls (or a collector of genuine dolls?), a couple of problems come to mind immediately: 1) This modular home in Clarkston is the closest I can come to a controlled environment appropriate for doll storage, and 2) my dolls are not only vintage (1950s) but used. “I’m sorry I let the little girls play with your dolls,” my mother would say from time to time. And I would say, “It’s okay, Mother. I played with my dolls, too.” They are not pristine collectors’ dolls but I like them anyway. So I have decided to look them over and maybe fix them up, but right now I just enjoy thinking about that process. (I have a few other things to do.)

The first place to go for information is, of course, the internet, and I have found some history there for several of my “generic” dolls. Christmas 1954 I received a 20-inch bride doll. I remembered my mother telling me that because I was still young (5) and she knew I would want to play with the doll, she had purchased an inexpensive one from a magazine ad. Through online research I found such an ad. The doll and her wedding dress are a little different than mine, but the garments shown in the trousseau were the same. She was apparently distributed by Niresk Industries through magazines.

Then, in 1955, my Christmas doll was a ballerina. I remember her name was Nina Ballerina. Again, I found this particular doll had been distributed through Niresk Industries magazine ads. She’s an altogether better doll than the bride and probably deserved better treatment than she got although she is not a name brand doll. Her tutu needs repair – and heaven knows if I still have her shoes and leggings.

Well, you can see it all sort of gets me where my guilt is. My larger dolls are in a “Samsonite” box in the shed. My family of 8- to 10-inch dolls and my shelf dolls are stored here in the house. Some people would have given these childish things away long ago, and perhaps that’s the wisest thing to do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I’m wondering about that “avocado” bathroom in Seattle. Is there going to be a follow-up? In looking at the picture, I really thought the avocado was nice with the shower tile but perhaps not so good with the floor. I suppose you have to be there to properly assess that.

When I went to bed last night I really hoped it would be a night of unbroken sleep. I frequently find myself wide awake at 1:00 a.m. or so, and then I get up and read for an hour. Last night I felt the need of unbroken rest, but it was not to be. At midnight I heard Nellie’s cries. Mike said it was the wind, but I know cries when I hear them. The wind that started yesterday seemed to increase in the night, and stuff flying through the air was evidently way too weird for Nellie. Since Mike still has to fuss with an orthotic sandal whenever he walks, I got up to see to her in order to spare him the trouble. Seems like it took me another half hour to get her settled on her pillow. First she wanted a midnight snack and that was understandable since she went hunting with Ken yesterday. Then I had us all settled again and she needed to go out after having eaten her snack. So, when I heard what I suspected was the garbage can lid hit the house followed by a cacophony of crushed pop cans I just ignored it and went to sleep. The lid must have gone airborne because we can’t find it. These things are not the end of the world – just annoying.

Also annoying – relighting the water heater. Upon arising this morning, Mike discovered our hot water wasn’t even lukewarm. We figured the pilot blew out yesterday afternoon and my shower last night unnoticeably depleted what was left in the tank. Mike said the modular home dealership told him this is a common complaint and suggested a bucket over the vent on the roof.

I never know what a day will bring. I was going to start work on my quilt top, but Mike came home during the noon hour and I took him back to town so that he could pick up his motorcycle from the shop. From there I took advantage of the unexpected opportunity to do a little shopping. So – I’ll sew another day.

It did not snow in Lewiston today, but Moscow and other points in the upper country had school and road closures due to blowing snow.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Guest Blog: Kathy's Child

I've been tossing this idea around. This crazy, hair-brained idea I've had since the beginning of summer. Okay, so I move slow. I FINALLY decided to paint my bathroom! With the expertise of my color savvy boyfriend I got my nerve up to choose a color and just do it. We decided that something in the green family would be nice--not too blue, not too gray, but something that would look good with the counters the tile and the floor.

As you can see (left), the original color was a very neutral beige. As we painted, it seemed that we were both going to like the new color. It was a warm green that would really set off the light wood of the cabinets. As the paint dried, however, I began to recognize the mistake. The disaster. The color we choose was too dark. It was too '70s. It was, in fact, avocado green. I know this color. This is the color of the wedding present toaster that WOULD NOT die that we used at home forever. ACK!

As you can see in the photo (right), we're back at the drawing board. For me, when things go wrong, I like to cover up in bed and resist facing the truth until I can muster enough strength to power through and make a new decision. Luckily, Nick has the ability to convince me it will all be okay if we just get it done. Stay tuned for the next Guest Blog: "Painting Adventure #2".

Saturday, January 12, 2008


-- An email message from Carol said that Bennie experienced numbness in her arm this morning. They spent 3 1/2 hours in the emergency room. A stroke was ruled out but they thought perhaps she had had a TIA (mini stroke). She will see her regular doctor on Monday. She may begin taking Plavix.

-- We received a package from Milo and Billie with a fuel hose for the old boat motor Mike is restoring. Also included was a red shirt with the chest slogan "built like a Mack Truck.

-- Clint called and visited with me this noon. He was making macaroni for lunch. He said they have had snow and wind and he thinks that's the reason he lost his internet connection. He'll let us know when service is restored.

-- Hallie called this evening to say she and Nick had painted her bathroom a color she described as "yellow sage." I got the impression she hopes she likes it when it dries. The paint fumes in the confined space were beginning to get to her. They were going out for dinner.

In addition, Chris and I had a nice volley of comments over the Wilder book and Harriet and I are going to meet next week to catch up on gossip. She is going to loan me some books by Carol Ryrie Brink apparently about homesteading and western settlement.

I feel so connected!


You’d think a retired person could get a lot done in January. There’s something about unstructured time. It’s great because you have flexibility. It’s not great because nothing much pushes you. Even things you really want to do can go undone if you don’t make a start and keep moving.

January is a difficult month anyway. You’re on the downside of Christmas – and some of that looks like real work, such as putting away decorations and gifts, learning how to operate new electronics, etc. And nothing much happens in the garden. My garden looks very gloomy. But not many weeks hence and we’ll notice signs of spring and begin to compare notes. We like to notice the signs of spring.

In fact, there is something interesting in my garden right now, come to think of it. I let the spinach go to seed last year, and some of it sprouted in the fall warmth. The little plants are just sitting there, apparently waiting for spring. It will be interesting to see if they make it – or if the deer eat them before they have a chance. Without some sort of fence it’s useless to plant a vegetable garden. I recently counted nine mule deer on one of our neighborhood walks.

Mike and I planted chrysanthemums last fall. We bought them at Wal-Mart – couldn’t pass up what looked like a bargain. It might have been a mistake. Apparently you’re supposed to plant them in the spring if you want them to winter over. And it looks like they require some care – dig them up, separate the plant, pinch back the new growth, mulch them, water them, feed them. I should have done my homework before we bought them! But we’ll see. Sometimes in this mild climate you can get away with a mistake. And – they were pretty last fall. KW

Thursday, January 10, 2008


When I was in my first year at the University of Idaho, my English 101 instructor assigned us to keep a daily journal which she occasionally reviewed and graded. She did not elaborate on the assignment beyond “keep a journal," and I had no idea what she wanted from me. Further, I had no confidence in my thoughts and opinions and was too stressed to experiment with words. I came out of her class thinking I was stupid and that writing was not my thing. But that concept of keeping a journal rather than a diary has stayed with me. I think this is a fine example of how the grade you receive is not reflective of the value you take from a class.

I was thinking the other day – you just don’t know where you’ll find the ideas that help you. In the Lewiston Tribune “Arts and Entertainment” section a few weeks ago, I read a review of a recently published book, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks. This book is a compilation of columns written by Mrs. Wilder on women and country life for the Missouri Ruralist. The review states that many interesting, grassroots-level glimpses of a time of great change in American history can be found in this work. It goes on to say that the repetitive nature of the columns keeps the book from being truly interesting and that this is the kind of book for which libraries are made. I suppose the reviewer means that only dedicated researchers would find it truly interesting.

Well, maybe I am that ardent researcher because I can really relate to these comments also from the review: “Wilder was an ardent defender of country living at a time when more Americans than ever were leaving the farms for town or city life. . . . Wilder never strayed too far from her favorite themes of hard work, thrift and determination in the running of a home and raising a family. . . . [The book] is a useful reminder that the life’s work of many Americans amounted largely to keeping the family warm, well-fed and happy.”

Despite the negative comments, I can hardly wait to read /own this book and apparently I’m not the only one. This morning I called Kling’s to inquire about it and the sales associate provided that it is currently out of stock with their distributors. She said they would order it for me if I could wait. I agreed; I like to buy locally when I can.
[I date the above picture at about 1901. Grandma Ina sits in the foreground with her four children -- Myrtle, Ethel, Pearl, and Irl. Aunt Ida Dickson, Ina's sister-in-law, sits on the pile of lumber. The man is Grandpa Jack. It appears that they are either finishing or adding on to the log cabin that was their home for nearly 20 years. My dad was born in that cabin in 1904.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Town time has not been especially interesting, so I’ll make this real time update brief. Mike reports that Dr. Alm is pleased with the progress of his foot. At follow-up next week they should be able to remove the rod in his toe and fit his orthotic insert. Although the weatherman keeps predicting rain or snow, we haven’t really had either except for passing brief showers, so Mike has been able to cycle almost daily. Last Sunday he rode with the bike club.

I helped Mike prepare a mailing to previous tax customers for the TaxTyme business. Together I think we put in about eight man hours – labeling and stamping. He took the exterior Christmas lights off the house but I will probably let my Christmas ceramics sit out a while longer. [The Christmas characters in this picture will soon be replaced by some of my "vintage" dolls.]

We’ve had some maintenance problems here at the town house. The pilot light on the water heater went out on Friday. Mike took an early evening shower and noted the water temp seemed a bit cool. (I’ve got to quit letting him take first shower!) Now, the water tank is located behind a panel in the closet of our office (the third bedroom). Not only is access to the tank difficult but access to the pilot once we get to the tank is also difficult. The chest of drawers we put in the closet to store supplies doesn’t help. Mike tried to contort himself to no avail. We finally had to remove the chest from the closet. We were not successful lighting the pilot that night and had begun to plot how we could make it through the weekend without hot water, but Mike was successful in lighting the pilot Saturday morning. And yes, we put the chest back in the closet.

Also last weekend, our Dish system began to malfunction and a visit from a tech was scheduled for this afternoon (Wednesday). Yesterday our receiver went out altogether, so we were without tv last night. We now have a new receiver – an upgrade on the one we got a month ago.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


In 1922 at the age of 58 (some of us can relate to that age), my Great Aunt Ida writes from her home in Drain, Oregon, to her sisters, Bertha and Ina: “I live mostly in the past now – and remember some things that I would not forget – and many others that I would willingly forget . . . But I am trying to look more and more into ‘the great beyond’ where there are so many that we love and where trouble can’t never enter – and the Great Father of all rules supreme. I look at people trying so hard to get wealth and affluence and wonder do they ever think of Eternity?” Dear Aunt Ida! She will continue “in this life” another 30 years.

A couple of years ago, Hallie mentioned an interest in the 1940s, and my curiosity was piqued. Ignoring that the world was at war in the 1940s and putting my own spin on the topic, I wondered about the everyday housewife -- how did she decorate her home, what was her kitchen like, how and what did she cook, what was popular in the way of handiwork, where did she get her ideas. I was convinced the internet would be a valuable research tool, but initially my search was fruitless – until I began to use the word “vintage.” And then the world of “old stuff” began to open. I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful time with this “journey.” I’ve expanded my timeframe to include the 1930s through the 1950s. It awakened me to what I had at my fingertips – family letters, recipes, magazines, linens, photographs, handiwork (finished and unfinished), and the interesting hodgepodge of old stuff in drawers. I’m fascinated to the point of replicating. Just don’t take away my creature comforts!

So, I am not vintage and neither are you. But any stuff I’m carrying with me from my growing up years and before – very vintage, very desirable, very collectible, very interesting – even the junk.
[In the photo above taken Nov. 21, 1942, sisters Ida Patchen and Ina Dobson stand in front surrounded by other family members: Edna (Ida's daughter), Vance Dobson, Stanley Sanders, and Grandpa Jack Dobson.]

Saturday, January 5, 2008


From a motorcycling standpoint my foot surgery could hardly have been in a worse spot. The surgery was at the exact spot on the foot used to up shift. With Kathy's help I fashioned a strap-on modification that enables me to ride. It's not the greatest but hopefully it will get me by until I can wear a regular shoe. M/W


Jan. 12, 1936
Before the ‘blazing fire’
Dear Vance,
“The [Readers’] Digest didn’t arrive till after Xmas but it is fine. I’m so tired of all the magazine advertising that that alone makes the Digest a treasure. Don’t you get tired of looking at pictures of blasé men and wanton women, whose only idea is to look ‘smart.'

“The radio is doing good work in its new set up and would do better if I’d get busy and do some soldering on connections. I’ve just been listening to the New York Symphony Orchestra directed by the ‘renowned Englishman Sir Thomas Beecham.’ We heard the Portland Symphony Orchestra under Van Hoogstatten a few nights ago. [A computer search confirmed that the Oregon Symphony was led by Willem Van Hoogstatten from 1925 to 1937.]

“Your holly and candles were a treat and have served more than once. I have about half of the candles left on the mantel. They are such a pretty red. You do think of the nicest things! I suppose that is what is called ‘having an imagination.’ Well, thanks a lot for everything – the card with its message was doubly appreciated.

“We are having such a mild winter and now have only a few inches of snow and lots of bare ground. We need lots of snow or rain."
[The picture above of Ina and her daughter Pearl was taken in 1918 when the house was new. Though I had never seen a fire in the fireplace, it had obviously been well-used. In the remodel process, this fireplace was torn out and a new one built, the chimney lined, and an efficient insert installed. The fireplace and a propane wall furnace in the diningroom are now the main sources of heat. We find it takes a day or two to heat the house once it is cold. If we need heat upstairs, we open the stair door. At the contractor's insistance, each bath and bedroom has a wall heater. Those are costly to run but sometimes necessary.]

Friday, January 4, 2008


My mother came to life in the fall of the year when she began to prepare for Christmas. It meant cleaning; baking fruitcake, beautiful cookies, and “tea rings;” making tree ornaments for herself and her family; shopping for gifts; and decorating the interior of the house -- in short, everything valued for a traditional celebration. I struggled for years to keep up. I thought that over time I would get better and that when I was truly “grown up,” I would have arrived at my mother’s Christmas. Someplace along the timeline, it became painfully apparent it wasn’t going to happen. So, a few years ago, I took stock and resolved to simplify, starting with my tree ornaments. I bought three ornament boxes. Into one box I placed all ornaments that looked old and worn and no longer had a shiny presence on the tree and labeled that box “retired.” Into the next box I placed my favorite traditional ornaments so that they would be readily accessible if I wanted them. Into the third box went ornaments for a quickly-decorated, practical tree – the Hallmark house collection, white crocheted snowflakes, angel ornaments, etc. In the process I realized that I had been spending a lot of time putting collector’s ornaments back into original packaging. Therefore, I put all individual boxes into a storage tote that I never have to touch. Not only does this save time and effort but wear and tear on the boxes as well. (Do I sound like Martha Stewart?) If I miss the old things, they’re still available. And I love that I can go right on collecting ornaments – symbols of love and friendship -- because I have room for them. This year I received a red and green bell from Hallie, an impish “Annalee” angel from Joni, a white lace angel from Chris, and two glass “candy” ornaments from Annie and Jack.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Generally speaking, Hallmark ornaments aren’t my thing. Just because you can make it out of plastic doesn’t mean it should go on a tree. But, as the new Hallmark ornaments are unveiled in July of each year, I’m there to buy the current edition in the line of nostalgic houses and shops. It all started in 1981 (date approximate) when I fell in love with the first house in the series, a pink “dollhouse.” I actually bought it as a gift but decided to keep it. The next year, I discovered post-Christmas shopping and bought the second house in the series at half price. Now I knew that I was committed to buying the series and just when I could get them at a bargain price. But year three, I was disappointed to discover there were no leftover houses to be had at the after-Christmas sale. And that’s the reason I now buy at the unveiling.

Yes, I am current with all houses in the series. But wait, you say -- you missed a year. Yes, I did, and I was without that house for many years. But one December evening in 2000, I went to our computer to check my email. Hallie was at Oregon State in Corvallis. A message popped up before me as though she knew I was there. “Mom, what is the year of the Hallmark house you are missing?” said the message. “How did you know I was here?” I asked. “I’m psychic,” she replied. “I found one on eBay and I’m bidding on it. How high should we go?” “Get it,” I said. So, I paid $75.00 for the one I missed and considered it worth the price to complete my set.

Over the years I’ve displayed the houses in various ways. When I had just a few, they seemed lost on the tree, so I placed the little village on an end table here or on top of a cabinet there. Eventually there were enough to grace the mantel. Then there were too many for the mantel but enough to be effective on the tree. So, yes, I have a theme tree.

And that’s a story for another entry.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Retirement naturally brings adjustments. The first year brings a round of new experiences. For the first time, I will be on my own -- if not home alone -- while Mike puts in hours at work. Time will not hang heavy on my hands. The days seem to melt away no matter what I do.

During the New Year’s holiday, I took time to review the year just past and to organize for the year ahead, making notes in my new “weekly planner” (which happens to be Nature’s Sketchbook by Marjolein Bastin). My notes serve as reminders as to what I want to accomplish this next year. I don’t call them resolutions because I don’t want to set myself up to fail. But I believe I am bettered by an introspective of this sort if only because it serves to focus my thought. And it includes the daily challenge to improve the caliber of my thinking.

While Mike watched football New Year’s Day, I took myself to Jo-Ann’s Fabrics for a much needed break (from football). As the clerk cut a yard of off-white linen for me, she commented, “This would make a yummy summer suit.” “Yes, it would,” I said, “but I’m making a doll.” (I wonder where she would wear that summer suit anyway.) Arriving back home, I set up the ironing board and transferred the doll pattern to the linen. I laughed to myself that my mother probably wouldn’t have let me handle that part of the project. Many wonderful things we didn’t do just because we didn’t make a start. So, on New Year’s Day 2008 I made a start on a project I’ve wanted to do for 33 years.

You might be surprised to know what else I did. I researched 8-inch dolls, both vintage and modern, on the internet.