Monday, March 31, 2008


At my request, Chris sent the picture on the left as another example of typical dress for the mature woman in the 1930s. Chris writes: "Here is the picture I mentioned. My great grandmother, Sarah Jane Collett Whitworth is the one on the far right. The two aunties on the left look a little weird. Dan scanned the picture out of a family history book a distant cousin of Dad's put together a few years ago. I think the cousin must have tinkered with the picture somehow and given Emma, far left, and Annie, left of center their strange jaw lines. The sister next to Sarah Jane is Carrie. The picture was taken in Missouri in 1939. The sisters are all in their sixties with Emma in her seventies. There was one other sister who lived less than four weeks (their mother died at her birth), and there were also four brothers. All lived to ripe old ages."
Debbie makes the point that these dresses are undoubtedly their Sunday best. They wouldn't be photographed in anything less. KW

Sunday, March 30, 2008


In my comments on a previous blog, I never meant to downplay the importance of Helen Keller and her place in American history. Typical of Milo though, he picked up on my underlying bias of which I am not proud. I’m glad to hear of your interest in Helen which must naturally extend to her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, who remained a big part of Helen’s life. I did an internet search this morning on “The Miracle Worker.” Keep in mind that I am a child of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Here is a brief synopsis of what I found:

“The Miracle Worker” is a play written by William Gibson based on the book, “The Story of My Life,” by Helen Keller. It was first presented as a television play on “Playhouse 90” in 1957. Shortly thereafter, it became a Broadway play with Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen. In 1962, the same actors reprised their rolls for the movie – much seen, much lauded. The same play was then remade for television in 1979 with Patty Duke as Annie and Melissa Gilbert as Helen. It was again remade for television in 2000. Also, in 1984, a television sequel was presented, titled “Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues.”

At, the official website of the Helen Keller Foundation located at Ivy Green near Tuscumbia, Alabama, the text immediately states that you have come to the right place if you want to know about Helen Keller. You’ll also find a lot of info at (American Foundation for the Blind). I find myself especially interested in the letters of Anne Sullivan written while she worked with Helen as a child.

I’m going to confess right now that I know more about Helen’s story as a blind-deaf than I know about her accomplishments. I know nothing about her actual life. So – while I feel this story has been done, and done, and done some more -- maybe I need to increase my appreciation by doing some research myself. With your internet connection, information is as close as your fingertips, including the text of some books.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Reading the club notes in the Lewiston Tribune last week, I noticed that a certain organization had heard a presentation on Helen Keller. With all due respect to Helen Keller and her contributions to mankind in the face of tremendous obstacles (and admitting that I didn’t hear the presentation), it seems to me that we all know about her. Don’t we need to look into ourselves and appreciate the character of womanhood that influences all of us right where we are? Isn’t womanhood a broad subject that needs a deeper look? Shouldn’t we define and appreciate womanhood on the basis of who we are and how we can strengthen these qualities? A few women persevered and won battles for women in general. Many women persevered more quietly and appeared to win nothing while building our characters. But, or course, it’s so much easier to research the famous – so much more concrete. At that point it occurred to me that I have the tools in Ina’s letters – and some of the books I am researching -- to develop a presentation that would at least touch upon womanhood issues in a more general way. My first effort would be based on the Christmas letters and as incongruous as it may seem, I would like a frumpy frock of the era (1930-1940).

Do photos of the 1930s and '40s show women looking uncomfortable? Absolutely. My grandmothers were married when women didn’t show their ankles in public. By the time they were middle-aged, certain taboos had been dropped and the modern dress was born. I have no real facts, but I do wonder if everyone saw the short skirts as liberation. How about those corsets that became girdles?

When Hallie was growing up, I used to look at her in her jeans and t-shirt and think to myself, “You wear jeans right now because I (my generation) made it possible. Your skirts are short because I paved the way for you. I totally relate to how you look.” The other side of the issue is that I no longer know what I should wear at my station in life. All that I see are clothes for the young or clothes for the fashionably slim. In my own generation I reflect frumpiness – pull-on pants and sweatshirts.
[The photo above is of my grandmother Nina Portfors with her brother Al Sanders and her sister Muriel German. I don't know the date. Uncle Al appears rather dapper, but I have to ask, What was Grandma thinking when she bought that suit or that fabric? Notice that Aunt Muriel's skirt is the same as Grandma's in style. They probably made them. Fashion plates? Don't think so.]

Friday, March 28, 2008


I am looking for a frumpy housedress such as Ina might have worn in the 1930s. It must not be fashionable. It should probably fit me loosely. I could make it myself if I had a pattern. One of my favorite websites, Vintagecat, has a couple of patterns that would be suitable. The problem is that sizing was different then and I don't have a clue what size I need. It's okay if it's a little big. It's not okay for it to be too small. If I can get fairly close to the appropriate size, I can make the alterations. It's not absolutely necessary that it be totally authentic but I would like it to be of the type worn by the Dickson ladies in this picture.

I am not opposed to ordering the pattern and retro fabric. But I thought I'd mention it on the blog first in case you know of a source. Does anyone have an idea where I might find such a dress or pattern?


Although spring has officially arrived, chilly temps prevail – 25 at our town house this morning. It snowed again in the upper country yesterday. Maybe it’s just as well it didn’t work out for us to de-winterize the farmhouse this week. Nevertheless spring is here: my daffodils are beginning to bloom, I see forsythia around my neighborhood, and our drought-tolerant perennials show signs of life.

The first spring we lived in this house, I thought our efforts to plant a perennial garden were all for naught. It just looked dead out there in our flower beds. I complained to a co-worker that I thought my plantings were dead, to which he replied, “You can’t kill them – they’re weeds!” Sure enough -- upon closer inspection I found green close to the ground. And, of course, that’s happening again now. Last year’s stems need to be trimmed back to show the plants at their best. Yes, suddenly there’s work to be done and we’re making plans for even more work.

I haven’t had a lot of luck ordering bare root stock. (You know – that’s what they call plants ordered from a nursery thousands of miles away. The plants are quite young and are packaged in plastic with very little soil.) Besides the fact the plants are young and vulnerable, they often arrive at a time that is least convenient for me and days lapse before they get proper attention. Last year I ordered $60-worth of perennials (I think of that as a lot of money to invest in plants) from a famous catalog seller, some of which I planted here and the rest at the farm. None of them grew, doubtless due to planter error(s). But I wrote the seller and told them I was disappointed even though I knew my thumb might not be green. They replied that they guarantee their plants and that they would either refund my money or I could take a credit. I took the credit and ordered iris for the bank behind the clothesline on the farm. I do have pretty good luck with bulbs and rhizomes. I can hardly wait to see if they grow / bloom. I’ll let you know.

Even though I swore off ordering plants, Mike made a contribution to the Arbor Day Foundation and they mailed us 10 trees – 10 different varieties. They arrived last Thursday, the day of my tea party, so I stashed them in the shed. Fortunately, Mike said something on Friday that sparked my memory and we took care of them on Saturday. We planted the dogwood and the Eastern redbud on the west side of the house and heeled in the rest on the east side so that we can take them to the farm. [See photo left (morning was not a good time for that shot.)] In addition, we have ordered another 60 Ponderosa pines for the farm. It seemed to go well last year; most of the 60 we planted appeared to make it through the hot summer. KW

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I continue, albeit slowly, to make my household pandemic ready. I began by cleaning the pantry in our modular home. It seemed like a daunting task until I realized I didn’t have to do it all at once.

[The photo on the left is of the walk-in pantry in our modular home. Strategically placed in the corner, it offers a bit of a buffer between the kitchen and the master bedroom. The photo on the right is a "before" picture on the shelves. I really like having a pantry; deeper shelves would improve it.]

I began my readiness project, as I call it, by removing from the pantry anything that wasn’t food. Storage containers were assimilated into the kitchen cupboards. A box of garbage can liners went out to the shed. I also moved my flour and sugar canisters to the kitchen counter near the mixer, which was handier anyway. Then one by one I cleaned and lined the shelves. This is the "after" photo.
Now I am ready to get ready -- but meanwhile, Let 'em eat cake!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Here are some photos of our modular home after the spring cleaning I did last week. In the photo to the left you can see my shelf dolls. I’ve had them since early childhood, which means they show some light and dust damage. They probably have some value -- not as much as if they had been kept in pristine condition in their boxes. I displayed them with some teacups.

I guess the point of the photo on the right is that I really did put away the Christmas houses in favor of something more springlike.

And here's our table set for a spring tea.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Our Easter was a quiet day. In the morning Mike went off on his motorcycle to pick up a few geocaches in the area while I pursued my morning study. After lunch, we set off to find more geocaches, this time in the car and with the dog. I forgot the camera.

The first geocache was actually at Hellsgate State Park. We found it easily after a hike of about half a mile from the Tammany side. Then we drove to Bennett Lumber and filled two dog food sacks with wood shavings to freshen Nellie’s doghouse. From there we drove to a site across Highway 12 from Chief Timothy State Park where a multi-cache was located. We had the cords to the first cache, which if found, would provide cords to the second cache and the second cache to the third and final cache.

There was a vehicle already at the parking spot and we assumed we would meet a fisherman there, but when we reached the first cache (half a mile from the parking site), we came upon I-Splash and Ogeo, two well-known local geocachers, who had just found the first cache, a little heart-shaped box containing the second set of cords. The cords were evidently off and they had searched a long time to find the little box. They kindly welcomed us to continue the search with them. (Hallie would just love this, I thought to myself in sarcasm.) The cords to the second hide were back toward the parking spot.

Coming to the second site, we all four searched for ten minutes before I-Splash lifted a big rock and found another little heart-shaped box containing the cords to the final site. What Hallie said kept running through my mind – “There you are out there where everyone can see you and you’re looking for something.” Probably the people in all those cars whizzing by didn’t even notice us, I thought hopefully. The three of them punched the third set of cords into their GPS units, and we set off to find the final cache – the mother lode, as it were.

Surprisingly, the last cache, a bright pink plastic box, was easy to find, poorly hidden amongst some rocks. “Here – you open it,” said Mike to Ogeo. “No no, you saw it first; you should do the honors,” Ogeo responded politely. Back and forth they went – and when I think of it now I want to laugh. Finally Ogeo lifted the lid – and to our disgust the box had been contaminated with manure and the logbook stolen. “Oh, Hallie would have loved this,” went the sarcastic inner voice. We cleaned it up the best we could and found fresh paper to log our visit. I-Splash re-hid it, and Ogeo said she would contact the owner of the cache to report the vandalism and recommend maintenance for the box.

Such contamination would be sad in any event, but the man who hid this cache has evidently just moved here and used the hearts theme in honor of his two little girls who like to geocache with him. They were undoubtedly involved. The box was filled with heart-shaped items and trinkets.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Sometime after midnight I was awakened by Nellie’s whines. Her kennel with her house, a 50-gallon drum, is located off the end of the modular home where the master bed / bath is situated. [See photo left. Bathroom window is trimmed in green. The gate of Nellie's kennel stands open.] She knows from experience that she can make us hear her. I said nothing to her but tried to go back to sleep. When I heard her again at 1:30, I nudged Mike awake and told him of her cries. He opened the bathroom window and told her to be quiet and go to bed. She was quiet for a little while; Mike and I again dozed off. But soon we heard her cries again. Mike put on his slippers and went out. The next I knew I could hear Nellie making herself comfortable on her living room pillow.

Coming back to bed, Mike explained that the trouble light we use to heat Nellie’s house had somehow fallen into the wood shavings on the floor – her bedding – and were smoldering. In effect, her house was on fire with considerable smelly smoke damage. The look on her face this morning said it all: “You are the densest people I know!”

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Our crop of winter spinach was covered in frost this morning. Here in town we awakened to a temp of 25 degrees and clear skies. It's a beautiful afternoon. Mike is planning a bike ride. KW


Today – Saturday, March 22 – is World Water Day. Sponsored by the United Nations since 1992, the purpose of World Water Day is to raise awareness of the need to protect and improve access to clean water supplies. According to the article I read, only 2.5% of the world’s water is drinkable. This would be ample if the water were clean and available when needed – but it’s not. 1.2 billion of the world’s people lack access to safe drinking water. 2.6 billion lack proper sanitation (adequate sewage disposal). 1.8 million children worldwide died in 2006 due to tainted water supplies, not to mention those who became ill. Uncounted numbers of women still carry water. What can I do against such odds? Yet, as a citizen of the world, I see it as my obligation to know something about our water.

We have given some thought to this issue since we didn’t have hot and cold running water on the farm prior to remodeling the house. In fact, for the Dobson family there was not a viable source of drinking water near the house and water had to be carried from springs or from town. The spring water was probably of questionable quality. Now that we have a good deep well, our water supply is still dependent on the supply of electricity to the pump and the storage tank. It’s easy to take water for granted until for some reason we don’t have it.

Mike and I are concerned about water conservation wherever we are, but I admit to being a consumption offender when I shower. Mike on the other hand is a study in shower efficiency. Quickly wetting himself in extremely hot water, he then turns the water to a trickle while he lathers. He rinses in hot water and then turns the faucet to cold for a final blast. He has done this forever. When we remodeled the farmhouse, the contractor and the plumber just didn’t understand why they couldn’t interest me in anything but a small functional stall.

I’m sure I’ve spoken before of our drought-tolerant garden here in town. Plants in our garden must be perennial or self-seeding, deer resistant, and drought tolerant. One of our main interests in establishing such a landscape is the conservation of water – which brings me to the next issue, a conservation problem. In this little modular home, it takes forever for the hot water to come through. In other words, when I want to draw a sink of hot water, I probably run two gallons of good fresh cold water down the drain before the water coming through the tap is hot. It’s even worse in the master bathroom because it’s that much farther from the hot water tank. We have wondered how we can improve that situation. We thought of some sort of auxiliary hot water heater under the sink. We thought of catching the cold water and carrying it to the plants – an idea that applies only in the warm weather months. Let me know if you have any ideas on this subject.

I guess for the millions of people whose water is contaminated, these issues would seem frivolous. But wherever we are, we should be thinking about our water – its quality, its quantity, its future. KW

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


My interest in vintage handiwork brings to mind memories of my mother and her social circle in the 1950s. Basically Mother had two social outlets – CWF (Christian Women’s Fellowship) and an informal sewing circle that met monthly. It’s the sewing circle I remember most. She called it “club.”

Let’s see. Who was there? Grandmother Nina Portfors (until 1955 when she passed on); Psyche Johnson, "Judy" Jewell, Ruth Ross, Evelyn Hanson, Mrs. Kimball, Mittie Tucker, Mrs. Molloy, Delia Oud, Rhoda Hayes Smathers, Mrs. J. J. Johnson, and later Beatrice Smolinski. Well, to most of you the names don’t matter. Most of these ladies were of my grandmother’s generation. They all lived within a few blocks of one of another. Before I went to school, Mother would take me with her. I loved to sit with Ruth and Evelyn. Their laughter was so infectious!

I can’t tell you the history of this club. I’ll bet they began meeting in the ‘30s – maybe even the ‘20s. They had no treasury and no philanthropic purpose; this was not a chapter of an international organization but an informal neighborhood women’s group. Meetings were held in the homes of the members according to rotation. If it was your turn to serve as hostess, it was an obligation you took seriously. Your home would be spotless, and your desire was to serve graciously. The hostess would also provide refreshments. I remember how wonderful the house would look and smell. The members wore dresses such as would be appropriate for church on a regular Sunday. Each would bring her handiwork -- her embroidery, her knitting, maybe even her mending – and a pleasant afternoon would pass as they worked and visited. At the appropriate time, the hostess would serve refreshments using her best linen, silver and china – the finest she had to offer. Before they left, they would pass a dish with little pieces of folded paper in it. The one who chose the slip of paper that said “It’s you” received a gift – usually something lovely. Once I was “it.” My gift was a Fenton milk glass vase with a ruffled edge trimmed in green. I love it to this day. It’s something that is truly mine.

All of this appreciation of finery -- this desire to provide a "gracious" experience for one's friends or to practice one's manners based on the rules of etiquette -- began to disappear. It was mostly gone by the time I went to college in 1967. No wonder I was so confused! Of course, women were beginning to enter the workforce, but I think it was more than that. Perhaps we began to see the falsity of what appeared as “putting on airs.” Yet, we have Martha Stewart among us, telling us how to live the gracious life. Some of us (perhaps most of us) find her so obnoxious – yet, she still has a career in the world, doesn’t she?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


So – the irreverent St. Patrick’s Day landed in Holy Week this year! Mike and I celebrated with pork chops in mushroom gravy and “Chinese” cabbage salad. It just doesn’t seem possible that it’s the Easter season already. Frankly, when I see the ads for Easter baskets, candy, stuffed animals, and “cheap” trinkets and toys -- all of it relating to ducks, bunnies, and eggs -- I’m grateful I no longer need to concern myself with such things. Of all the traditions, “hide & seek” for Easter eggs and filling baskets with candy and treats for children was my least favorite. I was grateful when my children agreed that if I provided some candy I could be excused from making Easter baskets. I’m not a purist or a fanatic – I simply don’t enjoy doing it. Coloring Easter eggs was the last to go, I believe. Hallie and I did that together until she either lost interest or just didn’t have time.

Despite my feelings, I did indulge in just a little Easter holiday buying today. Harriet is bringing a couple of friends and coming to tea on Thursday, so yesterday – St. Patrick’s Day – I put away my Christmas display in favor of more seasonable items. I set out some of my milk glass pieces filled with jelly beans and plastic eggs as well as family photos and a few antiques and appropriate collectibles. And yes, I had fun doing these simple things. No photos for you today – I'm not ready. Maybe Thursday.

What do you think of the commercialization of Easter? Do you have Easter traditions you enjoy or that are special to you? KW

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The sun was shining on our snug little house when we left this morning. It was tough to believe it wasn’t going to be a warm spring day. Instead, it was a March day – intermittent sun, clouds, rain and sleet, wind, warmth and chilliness. The three of us (Mike, Kathy, & Nellie) met with nephew LJ for a geocaching hike in the hills above the Snake River this side of Wawaiwai. Mike had carefully coordinated a memorable outing to commemorate his 500th find. Not just any cache would do. “Devil’s Eye” would provide the appropriate adventure.

There’s only so far you can go by car; we parked and set off on foot. “Devil’s Eye” is one of those caches located on quasi-public-maybe-private land. We could see the cows from the road; it was obvious we were entering ranching territory. Nellie squeezed under the fence; Mike climbed over; I opened the gate and walked through. Somehow LJ had already crossed the barrier and was waiting for us. By the time we went through a second gate, the word “trespassing” crossed my mind.

Initially the ascent up the draw wasn’t too steep. Mike marched right along; LJ’s gait was a little slower; I brought up the rear. Nellie was here, there, and everywhere, totally enjoying the opportunity to explore. We crossed the streamlet once, and all went well. LJ asked if I remembered lying down on my belly to drink from such a stream. We discussed that such water never seemed to hurt us; maybe we built up tolerances. Not far from the streamlet, LJ spotted some yellow bells, a sure sign of spring.

Now the trail was getting steeper and the game plan seemed to become every man for himself. Mike took the high road while LJ cautiously circumvented a muddy spot in the trail and followed a lower route. I stepped right in the mud, which now caked my hiking boots. When I saw that I would have to traverse the side hill to achieve the high goal – “up there” -- that was pretty much the end for me. I found my way back across the muddy spot and sat down to wait for Mike and LJ to come back. “Devil’s Eye” is a hole in a rock outcropping and a worthy site. Mike was disappointed that I didn’t make it; LJ quietly said that the last part of the trek was really pretty steep.

The rest of the adventure was downhill and went quickly and easily. We found two more caches in the vicinity, then returned to Clarkston and said good-bye to LJ at his pick-up. When we got to the house, we were so hungry that neither of us wanted to wait for a prepared lunch. We had peanut butter sandwiches and apple wedges. But we made up for it tonight, having marinated grilled pheasant for dinner.

LJ took this beautiful shot of the Snake River from the "Devil's Eye" cache site. He also took the "official 500th cache" photo of Mike (above left) and the photo of "Devil's Eye" on the right. The top photo is of Mike and LJ confering over GPS information early in the hike.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hallie said in an email message on 2-24-08: "I think it's too bad that the hand written letter is a thing of the past. There's something special about a letter written in someone's personal scrawl. It's like you're sending a little piece of yourself--a paper that you've touched and thoughtfully written a message on." I filed this wonderful statement knowing the day would come when I could use it.

In today's Lewiston Tribune I found an item that echoed the above sentiment, even if the intent is commercial. Quoting from the article: "Eager to encourage letter writing, the post office is trying a new tack, offering to let people mail a card to a friend for free. Until March 31, people can get a free card, postage included, which they can use to send a message to a friend." HBO is covering the cost as a promotion of its miniseries on John Adams. You can get the free cards at The chief marketing officer for the Postal Service is quoted as follows: "Letters and cards are personal, you can hold them, you can read them over and over again, and keep them forever -- these are things that e-mail and text messaging cannot replace."

I checked out the site. You can select from a number of card styles and then personalize it and add a photo if you wish. That seemed odd to me since my concept of the project was that I should personalize by hand writing my own message. But -- oh well!

We saw in the Depression-era letters written by Ina and others that stationery made a thoughtful and welcome Christmas gift for anyone. I remember when I loved to select a new box of stationery -- considered it a great treat. I also remember noticing -- perhaps in the '80s -- how expensive stationery was becoming! In her latter years, Mother enjoyed corresponding with Chuck, and he often provided lovely stationery on gifting occasions. I still have remnants of the last boxes. KW

Thursday, March 13, 2008


When my dad was active with the Kiwanis Club in Orofino, he served as chairman of the spring dinner fundraiser. The menu was pretty much the same every year – a molded Jello-o salad, turkey dressing casserole, baked beans, and three types of angel food dessert – chocolate, strawberry, and pineapple. (I never knew why baked beans appeared on the same menu with turkey dressing casserole.) But I think the dinner earned a fairly positive reputation and was well-attended. Friend and fellow Kiwanian, Bob Oud, featured the main dish as Turkey Casserole a la Dobson. I think Daddy made the turkey casserole and the baked beans while others (mostly wives of the members) made the salads and the desserts according to recipes that my dad provided. I think the dinner had a successful run. I remember that Mike and I went several times during the 1970s.

I thought of all this today. Certain days have a feel to them, and now that the days feel springlike, I think of the Kiwanis dinner. Also – tonight is the bike club’s spaghetti feed. The club supplies the spaghetti and sauce while the members bring salads and desserts. I decided against cupcakes and in favor of one of my dad’s recipes – pineapple angel food delight. I remember how much he enjoyed the pineapple version, pronouncing it delicious and eating another.

It would have been best if I had made the cake yesterday, but no – I baked it this morning. That means the cake won’t really have time to set and flavors blend. But that’s okay. In this day and age when most folks buy a salad or dessert at the super market on their way to the meeting from work, it will really be okay. In fact, it’s entirely possible I will come home with most of it, and then Mike and I can eat it tomorrow – when the flavors will have blended.

[The above photo is of the angel food cake I baked this morning. I couldn’t find an old pop bottle, and other options didn’t work. I had to be innovative. In this case, where I intend to tear the cake to bits, I don’t believe it’s a big deal to hang it anyway.]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I have to admit I was unprepared for this early switch to Daylight Savings Time. Clint mentioned it when he called last week, and I was grateful for the alert. He said people there (eastern Idaho) were looking forward to the longer evenings but he didn’t look forward to the dark mornings. While that’s not an issue with me, I do notice that we have been waking up about 7:00 PDT which was about 6:00 last week – our usual habit. I expect as we get used to the time change, we will begin to get up at 6:00 again. We are basically fairly early risers.

When I retired, a co-worker suggested we would probably start sleeping in. I said I didn’t think so. As our family grew, my habit of waking early became strongly rooted, and I prefer to get up early, even though it wasn’t my natural inclination at first. I’ve long noted that I tend to accomplish in the morning and coast in the afternoon. I don’t like to take naps – at least not yet. Sleeping in the daytime tends to disorient me – an awful feeling. I have been that way since childhood. If I become sleepy during the day, I will take a walk or change my activity for a while.

What about you? Do you like daylight time? Does morning darkness bother you? Do you wish we would adopt one system or the other and stop switching? Of course, you are entitled to your opinion but it will not sway the government in its infinite wisdom.
[The above photo is representative of the crocus that bloom in our rock garden. Every fall I plant a few more bulbs, mostly crocus and daffodils since the deer don't bother them. I also plant bulbs on the farm but usually don't see the crocus as they are past by the time we open the house in the spring. Last fall I planted iris and daffodils on the bank behind the farmhouse. Oh! I can hardly wait to see those. I hope it's a successful planting. The photo to the right is of our "volunteer" spinach which has wintered through (as well as some weeds, of course). I'll let the spinach get a little larger and then taste it. I believe it's not too early to plant some more spinach. I'll do it soon.]

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Hello! We have returned from our excellent adventure to Boise. We started off on Friday, the 7th, making TaxTyme our first stop. Mike had intended to spend an hour taking care of some clerical work before the arrival of his substitute at 9:30. However, two parties presented for tax prep first thing, so Mike handled those and took phone calls in addition to the clerical work. We didn’t leave Lewiston until about 10:30. With the loss of an hour to the time change, we arrived in Boise after 5:00, but we were able to check into the motel, change our clothes, and meet Milo and Billie at their house before the banquet.

The official title of the event was the 2008 Southwestern Idaho Apprenticeship Council Completion Ceremony & Banquet. Milo graduated from the sheet metal workers program, serving as an apprentice and attending classes several nights a week. Mike and I were pleased to see him earn journeyman status. We needn’t have worried about our attire. “Hey! We’re sheet metal workers!” said Milo. [If you enlarge the photo, you can see Milo on stage holding his graduation certificate.]

Whenever we are in Boise, we stay at the EconoLodge because: 1) we are philosophically opposed to paying a lot for overnight accommodations; 2) we can keep the dog in our room; and 3) they offer a free continental breakfast. But the first night was difficult because the bed was not made to my liking and I was too tired to fix it. Also, Nellie was unsettled in this new place.

Yesterday (Saturday) Billie had to attend a class relating to her work, and Mike and Milo ran errands. I enjoyed spending time with T. (Tiara) and the boys. In the afternoon, T. drove me to Winco to pick up groceries. And then Mike, Milo, Mason, Nellie, and I geo-cached in their neighborhood near Borah High School. It was fun watching Mason select a toy to trade in the cache. Mike grilled chicken breasts for dinner while Billie fixed the side dishes. Then Mike and I baby-sat so that Milo, Billie, and T. could go to a movie together. When they returned, we said our “good-byes” and headed off for the EconoLodge. Nellie headed straight to her pillow in the corner of the room, sleeping noiselessly all night long, so tired after playing with the boys all day. I took time to fix the bed, and I also slept soundly. After our continental breakfast this morning, we were on the road by 8:00 and home by 1:30.

Altogether we found six geo-caches on this trip. We stopped at only one on the way to Boise, found three near Borah and two on the way home. One of those was at the Hammer Creek Campground on the Salmon. We have tried to find it twice before, but Mike found it fairly easily this time. He is approaching 500 finds. [Photo to left: Gage in relaxation mode.]

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Here are photos of the Magnum showing -- perhaps not too well -- the racing stripes, rocker panels, and body side molding we recently affixed. I was the #2 man. Kids, I'm sure all of you have fond memories of being your dad's #2 man. I sure miss you!

In this photo, you can see the body side molding and there's also a rocker panel, a heavy plastic strip, that we affixed under the door. It's purpose is to protect against rock damage which Mike thought important since we do travel gravel roads.

Here's a back view of the racing stripes. My most significant (or intellectual) contribution to the whole project was to find online instructions which so simplified the work. Instead of applying the strips dry, as the official instructions indicate, we filled a spray bottle with water and added just a couple of drops of liquid soap. Then we sprayed both the adhesive backing of the strip and the car. That way we could slide the strip into place and easily remove the air bubbles. As it dries, the adhesive sticks -- supposedly.
I finished the afghan so that I can take it to Gage. And this afternoon I went to Patrick's in Clarkston to buy yarn for Jack's. The colors are ranch red, true blue, eggshell, and black. I have laundry to finish, the bed to make, the dog to walk. Talk to you later . . .

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Back in the 1960s and ‘70s, my dad and also my brother-in-law, Bill Reece, grew lentils, so we began to promote lentil recipes. In 1974, Harriet interviewed Daddy for the Clearwater Tribune and featured some lentil recipes. I was reminded of this the other day as I reviewed the contents of Daddy’s recipe box. One of our favorite recipes is lentil casserole, a staple in my culinary repertoire. In fact, I made it for supper last Friday night and we’ll thaw the leftovers for supper tonight.

I had two cups of cooked lentils unused in the casserole, so Sunday I decided to try a recipe for chocolate cake calling for lentil puree – a recipe I’ve wanted to try for years. First I pureed the lentils in the blender. I pretended I had the required two cups of puree but was actually short by half a cup. The recipe called for a cup of oil – way too much for this fat conscious couple – so I substituted ½ cup of applesauce for half the oil. I used a cup of egg substitute for the four eggs. And I didn’t have any baking chocolate squares so I substituted powdered chocolate. I also cut back on the sugar. Despite all the substitutions and recipe changes, the cake actually turned out well enough that I look forward to trying the recipe again. Next time I’ll cook the lentils longer and use the food processor to puree them. I’ll also use the baking chocolate squares -- and maybe that additional half cup of sugar.

I have been busy getting ready for our trip to Boise. Every moment I can spare I sit to crochet on Gage's afghan (the afghan formerly known as Jack's). With Mike’s help I have also selected a pattern for Jack’s afghan – and of course, I’m anxious to start that.

Today I received a new book, Fashions for Small Dolls by Rosemarie Ionker, featuring clothes for 7- to 12-inch dolls (little girl types). It’s an inspirational guide, including instructions for embellishments such as pin tucks, smocking, hand embroidery, lace insertions, etc. What fun!

Hallie called last night. She says her wrist is coming along well. Here’s a picture she took with her phone. She was looking forward to soaking in a hot tub -- as opposed to a quick shower. She says it's hard to wash your hair one-handed.

Monday, March 3, 2008


I have just finished transcribing a wonderful letter written by Ina’s older sister, Ida Jane Patchen. In this letter, Ida begs her mother to come and help deliver her second baby. Ida and her husband, Ed, are living near Paisley, Oregon, and her parents are some 50 miles south in Lakeview, Oregon. This letter, written on a piece of ledger paper, has obviously been read and enjoyed many times through the years.

“Well, Ma, I have been down to see Mrs. Hammersley about you know what. She says she is willing to come and do what she can but does not want to take the responsibility on her own shoulders. So it is either you or thirty dollars – the price charged by old Doc Owsley at Paisley. She thinks you had better come up and stay a few days. Then I’ll be sure of good care. She talks like she wouldn’t mind coming and doing all she could if you was here. She has been to lots such places. Mrs. Lewis is a young woman and could only do what she was told . . . so if you can possibly come at all, we want you to come up in a few days. Now be sure and come and we will try and make it all right as soon as we can. Tell Ina she is big enough and knows enough to take care of things all right for a while and as soon as I can possibly spare you we will send you home again. Don’t stop to wash or do anything so that you miss coming on the day set for you as Ed will get leaf [sic] of absence from Hammersley and be at Paisley with the team for you and bring you right up. . .

“Now Pa, you make Ma be sure and come fast, that is the greatest favor you can do me now. And can’t you manage it so you can stay at home nights if the children are afraid to stay alone? It ain’t more than a good step to the barn, is it?

“Ma, be sure to come up on the 7th on Saturday. Now for mercy sakes don’t disappoint us, for I am afraid to stay alone any longer than then. Ed will be sure and meet you. Ina, you help get ready and get her off as soon as you can. I know you can take care of everything all right until she gets back.”

And here’s what Ina relates about this incident in her life story:
“In the spring of ’84 we moved to a more roomy house, and Ed and Idy went up to a sawmill near Paisley, about 50 miles north of Lakeview. Idy was expecting her second baby and wanted Bertha’s company and help. Ed hauled lumber from the mill to Paisley and they passed a pleasant summer. In June Ma went up to be on hand when the baby came. She went by stage. While she was gone three weeks, I was left to keep house for Pa and the boys. I was only thirteen. Then your Dad and Gene Patchen came on the scene. I didn’t know Gene, tho he was Ma’s nephew, and of course had never seen Julian. It worried me to have to cook for them, but I managed some way, till Ma got back.”

[I know I've posted this photo before, but this is the best one I have here in town of my great-aunt, Ida Jane Dickson Patchen. She's standing in the front row wearing a sweater. Just behind her is her daughter, Edna, whose immanent birth is under discussion above. Aunt Ida would be 78 here, while Edna is 58. Grandma Ina is 71.]

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Milo called and invited us to Boise for his graduation from the journeyman program. Mike checked his TaxTyme schedule and decided that the workload is light enough that a substitute could handle it. So, we’re heading to Boise on Friday the 7th and will return Sunday. Suddenly it’s important to apply those racing stripes to the Magnum, and this has been “our” weekend work. It has not been without trials. Is it ever?

I decided that the afghan I started for Jack is really too small for him. Even now he is a big boy, so an afghan 38”x44” just isn’t right. I’m going to finish it for Gage (Milo’s younger son – soon to be 4), and I hope I can do so this week and take it to him. I have been studying afghan patterns – again with Jack in mind, and have narrowed the field to three or four. I seem to agonize over these things. So many patterns – so little time!!

Oh!! – and this last week I actually stitched the first row of quilt blocks together. It’s a bit of a trial since some blocks have uneven edges, but so far I’ve managed all right. It’s disappointing, but this is a learning experience and I’m anxious just to take my lessons and get on to the next project – something I would rather do. And I’d always rather do something new. A friend told me a beginning quilters’ class is starting through the quilters’ guild. I thought about it and decided I really don’t want to do it. I think I know enough to work along on my own, and I like the flexibility of working that way.
[The photo above is one of my all-time favorites -- Mason (Milo and Billie's son) sitting in Milo's junker Datsun 1600 with Isabella, their dog.]

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Yancey called the other night to say they had news. He and Kelly are delighted to be planning for a baby girl. Grandpa Mike and I are excited, too. Boys are great -- but we've noticed a shortage of girls. Of course, I have visions of pastels and baby dolls, but she'll undoubtedly throw a ball at 18 months and pick up a bat at two years.

Sorry I don't have a picture. She isn't due until mid-July.