Sunday, August 31, 2008


First of all, if you think you can make elderberry jelly within an hour, think again. Clear your schedule for half a day.

It truly is best if you free your kitchen of all clutter before beginning. Jelly making is messy. (Do as I say – not as I do.)

Take your bucket of elderberries and dump them into a colander in the sink. Wash the berries thoroughly. You should definitely remove any bugs you find.

Get your 6-quart pot. (For years I made jelly in a 3-quart pot because that was all I had. It can be done but you have to watch your mixtures closely.) Elderberries grow in clusters. Removing them from their stems is tedious. I remove the largest stems and as many of the smaller ones as is practical.

Set the pot on the stove over high heat. A little water with the berries will start the juice flowing. They should cook for 15 or 20 minutes. Crushing the berries at this point is also helpful – if you have a potato masher.

Now that the berries are cooked, you need to strain them through cheesecloth or a jelly bag to be sure your jelly is free of berry pulp and seeds. I have neither at this time and have found cheesecloth to be marginally useful anyway. Making an online search – "how to make a jelly bag" – I discover others agree with me. Suggested substitutes are old pillowcases, old dishtowels, muslin, and panty hose -- reasonably clean. I love these folks! I find an old dishtowel in my rag bin which I fold to fit my colander. Somehow I manage to pour the cooked berries into the colander, rinse out the 6-quart pot, and then set the colander over the pot so that the juice will drip into it. (I don't remember how I managed that feat but I'm sure the transfer involved another bowl / pan / pitcher.)

Some people might allow a lot of time – like a whole day – for the juice to drip from the berries. I was anxious to get on with the process, which may be why I struggle with a lot of things these days. In the initial dripping I had two and a half cups but needed three. Apple juice is great for stretching the juice, but I don't have any. I do, however, have some Gala apples on hand, so I got out the juicer and juiced three apples. More mess. Grabbing my Pyrex measuring cup, I heated the apple juice in the microwave and poured it over the berries in the colander. Folding the dishtowel over the berries, I began to squeeze the juice out of my makeshift bag. Eventually the old fibers gave way and the "bag" burst open. Oh well – I have enough juice and to spare now. I managed to measure the juice and then pour it back into the pot for the actual cooking process.

Now, after an hour and a half of work, I am ready to begin the actual jelly making. "Read all instructions before beginning," state the instructions that come with the Sure-Jel. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, actually I did read them – and read them again – and read them again. It looks as though I must boil the juice with the pectin and then again after the sugar is added, stirring constantly, while simultaneously preparing the jars with hot water. "I can do that," I say to myself. Oh – and I need the juice of an actual lemon. Fortunately I have one, so I find Ina's glass lemon juicer and juice the lemon. Yet another dish to wash. "Holy mackerel!" says Mike, coming upon a kitchen in disarray. He reaches for the camera.

Bottom line: Four and a half cups of sugar is added to the nasty-tasting three cups of juice, instantly transforming it into a tasty substance. Go figure! Hot jars were filled with the hot, sweet substance and that set up nicely. Would I do it again? Actually – I probably will. KW


Hallie sent a message to tell us about their trip back to Seattle from the homestead: "We stopped down the grade, put our jeans on and trolled for some elderberries. Unfortunately, most were not yet ready. Nick was very disappointed. Our plan was to pick as many as we could and leave them at the town house for jam. I tried to console him and told him that one day mom would make him a very happy man with the gift of elderberry jam."

How strange, I thought, that Nick seems to be a connoisseur (this is when it so works to have spell check) of jams and jellies. Mike and I eat so little of it. Then I had to laugh at myself because what I know of jams and jellies I learned from my dad who truly would have matched Nick spoonful for spoonful. I can see the two of them judging the jams and jellies at fairs. Daddy had his favorites and elderberry was one of them. He would stop along Gilbert Grade on his way home from the farm and pick elderberries in season in order to make jelly. And when Mike had a taste of Daddy's elderberry jelly, he was also smitten. Some people say elderberry jelly is too much trouble when you can buy grape. Not Mike. He says he can tell the difference and there's no comparison. I can tell you one thing: grapes are edible to begin with while elderberries are not.

Mother, too, took pride in a batch of jelly well-made and sealed. We had a crabapple tree at the Orofino house. Mother loved that tree. It grew next to the house and was tall enough that she could see the beautiful blooms through the upstairs bathroom window in the spring. When the fruit was ready, she would make crabapple jelly, straining the juice well in the process. (She was more careful and precise in her cooking than my dad.) She would hold up a jar of the finished product and say, "Isn't that beautiful!" You could almost see through it. Sadly, the roots of the old crabapple tree invaded the sewer system and it had to be cut down – probably in the early '60s. Mother was inconsolable.

Friday morning I invited Mike and Nellie to hike with me around the field behind the house. We found at least six elderberry bushes / trees with plenty of berries – just not ripe. Mike thinks they may never be ripe. I think it's just too soon. According to a website I discovered,, the berries ripen late August / early September. Frankly, I think it can be later than that in this part of the country. I remember making elderberry jelly in October.

"There's a stand of elderberry trees on Miller Road," Mike said upon return from a bike ride. I didn't think much of that until I pedaled past the same stand the other day. Powdery, purplish, ripe elderberry clusters beckoned to me. I don't know who owns the property but the trees are on the "hill" side of the road in steep, rocky territory. Surely no one would care if we picked a few elderberries.

Yesterday afternoon (Saturday, August 30), armed with a 2.5 gallon bucket, Mike and I hopped on the little blue 4-wheeler and rode over to the elderberry stand. Wow! And what a stand it is! I nicknamed it "Elderberry Alley." Once you step down from the road, you see the elderberry trees going on and on. The deer trail through it makes access easy. Mike picked a few clusters and made like he was ready to leave. "Oh no!" I explained. We need the bucket full of elderberries in order to have enough juice to make jelly. We had to pick from many of the trees in order to find enough ripe, reachable berries.

We were just exiting Elderberry Alley when a voice from above said, "Hello Folks!" We explained our mission and he said, "And you aren't hurting a thing." He introduced himself as the manager of the hunting club. (John Richardson has leased most of his fields to a local hunting club.) He further explained that bow hunting season was opening that afternoon and he was there setting up some blinds. He asked if we were related to the Warnocks that live on the edge of the canyon – or if we were those Warnocks. We said we were those Warnocks. Great! Now the whole of Gilbert could know the Warnocks pilfer elderberries. We can't get away with anything!

Friday, August 29, 2008


What a day! I got up feeling rather blue anyway and the day just didn't seem to unfold in a productive way. A project just wasn't working out the way I thought it should. I was confused about a percentage discount. The chocolate birthday cake I made from scratch didn't turn out. Messages to my friend kept coming back to my inbox marked "permanently fatal errors." (That sounds terrible, doesn't it?) I was beginning to think I might just be losing it. And if I wasn't losing it, would I ever be really good at anything?

After lunch, I decided I should get out of the house – take my bike ride. Despite Mike's calls, Nellie came with me. She ran ahead of me, eagerly watching for me at bends in the road and corners. I don't like to take her because I can't control her, but it was obvious she really wanted a good run. So, past Curfman's and down Miller Road we went -- all the way to the end without incident. On the way back, it was clear Nellie was getting hot but still keeping up well. I was just approaching the Miller's – had geared to get the most momentum from the downhill before the uphill – when my bike locked up somehow. Looking down I noticed my right shoelace was caught in the chain. I was grateful to see it was not entangled; it had just happened. As my bike came to a standstill, I realized I would need to act quickly. I quelled the rising panic – the fear of falling -- and realized that it was important to move my left foot from the clip, which was not my inclination. I managed to get my left foot onto the ground and save myself from a spill. I fixed my shoe lace, got back on the bike, and whizzed down the hill, only to throw my chain when I shifted on the uphill. Mike has always been with me when I've thrown the chain before. It took me a few minutes to figure out what I had to do, but I was eventually successful and able to ride on home. Nellie waited for me while I made the repairs.

When we got back, Nellie spent a good bit of time at the pond. Mike and I agreed she should not be scolded for coming with me. The run was punishment enough.
Here's a picture of Nellie taken yesterday at Cottonwood Butte -- especially for Deb. I had deleted it – I don't think it's very flattering – but it was still in the recycle bin. Something in the rocks caught her attention.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Mike follows certain rules in life. One of the biggest is "Work before play." "Would you like to go to Grangeville today and do some geocaching? We could scrub the kitchen floor and cut the hollyhocks back, then have lunch in Grangeville . . . " I said okay.

I scrubbed the floor; he shook the rugs and put them back. I cut back the hollyhocks; he hauled the refuse to the burn pile. (To be fair, he also grubbed two or three of those hollyhocks out of the ground. It was fun writing it with that omission.) Then we headed out to Grangeville. Our first stop was at the replica mammoth display which provides some interesting interpretive information about the discovery of mammoth fossils at Tolo Lake in 1994. We then stopped at Asker's Harvest Foods where we picked up a few groceries. Then it was on to Subway to buy a sub and cookies for a picnic lunch at Tolo Lake.

Tolo Lake is the largest body of water on the Camas Prairie. A nice roadside stop has been constructed there with outhouse and picnic tables. We found a geocache and fulfilled the requirements for an "earth cache" (that's where you take a picture of yourself at the site and send it to the cache owner). We ate there and Nellie enjoyed poking around. AND –it's the regional mecca for bottlecaps. I picked up a dozen, including the coveted bright blue Twisted Tea cap.

Then we drove on to Cottonwood Butte. Our instructions were to walk the last ¾ mile beyond a certain gate. However, we lucked out – a man was going in to do some work and let us drive through provided we could be out within an hour. We were fine with that. I did wish we could have stayed longer and enjoyed the view on all sides. Here are a few photos from the summit. In my opinion it's too bad that the summit serves commercial use and is generally unavailable to the public.[The top photo is of Cottonwood Butte from a high point in June's field. Photo of Mike is at Tolo Lake near Grangeville. Botton photos are from Cottonwood Butte.] KW

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Gazing into the refrigerator, Hallie commented half to herself: "You and Dad – have become – small container people." Judging by her tone, I guessed it was some sort of revelation for her. Is there a class of mankind known as "small container people?" Is it something I need to confess?

"Small container people," I thought to myself. Yes, it's true. I probably have two dozen half- and one-cup refrigerator containers purchased since the nest became empty. And if I see a sale on small containers, I just might stock up again. It's probably not a bad thing, but it does signal a life change.

Say you have a family and you fix a big dish of lasagna. You serve it for dinner and you have a fourth to a third of it left over. You put it in your three-cup casserole and if it's still in the fridge the next day (meaning your teen-agers didn't eat it at midnight), you serve it for lunch and it's gone. But when you are two people alone, you have to think very carefully about portions. Do you want to eat lasagna at every meal for the next week? Should you make the big casserole and freeze smaller portions for future meals? Or should you simply make a half portion to begin with?

Another issue is the space in the refrigerator. This year I stocked the farm refrigerator with produce and dairy items even at the risk of spoilage. I was so tired of packing produce back and forth, which also took its toll. Produce just doesn't survive the packing process well. As a result I have less room in the refrigerator and will work things down to the smallest possible container. That dab of cottage cheese goes into a half-cup Rubbermaid container. Those three last eggs get stored in an old margarine container so that I can eliminate the box. The remaining orange juice might fit in a jar. Etc.

At any rate, there's just so much the two of you can eat, and yet you want to share good eats. KW

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


You know how it is when you've looked forward to something for a long time -- then it comes -- then it's over. We had looked forward to Hallie's visit for four months, and it's not so much missing her as it is a feeling of "what's next?" Today it just seemed hard to get started on anything. This batch of pears finished drying. I tried a new zucchini bread recipe using brown sugar and oatmeal. I rode 9.65 miles on my bicycle and walked Nellie two miles. We also set up Mike's shotgun stations in the gully, and he seemed pleased with that. Still, there was a heaviness about the day.

I thought the hummingbirds were gone – no sign of them when we came in on Friday. Then Nick and Mike spotted one or two, so I made nectar and filled the feeders. But yesterday's wind and rain storm must have convinced them to move on. I haven't seen them today. The Calliopes were already gone. The ones that remained were probably Black Chins. At one point during the summer I was filling the feeders twice a day and keeping nectar on hand. No more until next year.

Lots of harvesting remains to be done in the area but our fields and the neighboring fields are harvested. Mike saw Kyle working on the old Plank place (just north of us) Sunday afternoon and went over to watch. He enjoyed riding the combine with Kyle for a while.

The Olympics are over. Mike finished the book he was reading. I finished sewing my quilt blocks together. It seems like we've come to a lot of finishes all of a sudden. We're just at the point of some changes. KW

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hallie and Nick arrived Saturday morning and spent the weekend here at the homestead. It was wonderful having them here. They played croquet with Mike in the front yard and we even managed a quick game of Scrabble last night.

We did some other things as well. Hallie customized my laptop for me and it's great. I peeled a box of pears for the dehydrator. The dried pears have been a hit. I'll probably dry several boxes of pears this year.

Sunday afternoon Hallie and Nick met Clinton and Elisha in Orofino and they spent several hours floating on the Clearwater. Then they all came here for dinner -- grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, and zucchini cake.

Hallie and Nick left today at noon. As if on cue, the sun began to wane as the sky darkened. The wind is blowing and the temperature has dropped. But "Kathy's new improved vintage sewing room" beckons. Life is good. KW


Here's a photo of Hallie and Nick taken Saturday evening as they depart for the wedding of Hallie's friend, Kristi Lame, in Orofino.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


We left the homestead last Saturday, August 16, when daily temperatures in town were peaking at 110+ (near 100 at Gilbert). How quickly that change from summer to fall can come! Thursday afternoon at the modular home, Mike said, “We should close the windows before it gets cold in here.” That statement was almost ironic in view of the fact that we had been judiciously closing windows when we got up to keep the heat out and opening them when we went to bed to let the cool in.

When we left last Saturday, harvest was not happening on Russell Ridge. Kyle, our young farmer, does most of the harvesting in our immediate area, and he had not yet arrived. We don’t need to worry about that, but still, we think about it, and when the rain hit on Tuesday and Wednesday, we wondered about harvest and the effect on the crops.

We were amazed when we arrived here at the homestead yesterday (Friday, August 22) to find that our crops as well as those on “June’s place” had been harvested in our absence as well as others. The farmers must have worked long hours when they saw the forecast. [The above photos were taken as the sun casts shadows across the fields pre- and post-harvest.]

This morning at 7:00 it’s 51 here at Gilbert. We expect a warm – not hot – weekend. The sun is still warm, but the air carries that hint of coolness that says, “Get the kids ready for school.” I no longer have to worry about school preparation, but this weekend will bring a visit with Hallie and Nick, and we expect Clinton and Elisha to come for dinner tomorrow night.

As I made the bed in Hallie’s room yesterday, I thought of the harvests of yore. I would wake up in that room to the sound of my dad pulling the squeaky little combine with his little caterpillar. It was a good sound. We hauled to Nezperce in the pickup. During our walk yesterday I took these photos of Kyle’s equipment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Here we are – still in town. It’s been great town time.

This afternoon Mike decided to go on a combo geocaching / bird scouting foray past Heller Bar to the Rogersburg area. He thought I might want to stay and sew, but since I had never been that far up the Snake, I decided to go. Besides, I knew it would count as exercise.

Our first stop was Big Eddy where we found the cache and looked at the petroglyphs. Our next stop was at a boat launch just a ways up the road where we found the cache and also carried out some beer cans.

The next cache was on the Grand Ronde near the Rogersburg Road. It entailed climbing a steep hillside to the top. I was behind Mike but choosing my own route, and that’s when I saw the hunting knife on the ground.

Now, some years ago I set policy for myself: “Don’t pick up something that isn’t yours. Maybe someone will return to get it.” But it was obvious the little hunting knife had been there quite some time. It was rusty and bleached out on one side. “Finders keepers,” I thought and handed it up to Mike. We reached the top where the view was spectacular, located the cache, and Mike traded out a three-pack of purse tissues in order to leave a travel bug.

Going back down the hillside in loose dirt and rock was tedious, and halfway down I broke into an uncharacteristic sweat. I know – women “glow,” but this was sweat rolling off my brow and over my face. I was so glad we had taken the tissues; I needed them! Mike said it did seem rather humid, but I think he was just being nice. However, as we approached home territory we couldn’t see the Lewiston Hill for the rain.

Well, Mike has already cleaned the rust off the little knife and sharpened the blade. It’s a Western (brand). I know nothing about knives really, but Mike says that’s a good brand. We’ll take it to the farm.
[Photos from the top: 1) Petroglyph at Big Eddy; 2) from the hilltop (note Nellie -- white with brown spot -- and Dakota at bottom); 3/4) view of Grand Ronde from hilltop; 5) Mike examines Western hunting knife with river below.]

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Speaking of the way people used to cook, my friend Chris once commented that the changes over the years have been phenomenal. We now have so many gadgets and appliances in the kitchen and we think we have to have them. “My mother had a knife and a fork,” she said. Thinking of my mother and grandmothers, I had to laugh. It was so true.

And it’s true in other departments of life, too. Take sewing, for instance. The year Clinton was born Mike bought me a Singer Athena 2000. And it was great. And I made clothes for myself and my family and taught my daughter to sew on that machine. But over the years it began to show its age and nothing turned out right. I can’t blame all of that on the machine. As life happened, I began to slip away from sewing and the industry changed while I was looking the other way.

I decided last week that I really do care about sewing and I really do want to learn some of the new methods and techniques. And that wasn’t going to happen with outmoded equipment. I’ll spare you the process, but Mike and I went to the Bernina Shop this morning and bought the Aurora 430. You don't know what the Aurora 430 means, you say. Well, I'm not entirely sure myself. I signed up for classes at the shop on Saturday, Sept. 6.

“It’s a bit intimidating having a new piece of equipment, isn’t it?” Mike observed as I was removing the sewing machine from the box. I promised Hallie I would not have buyer's remorse, but intimidation doesn’t begin to cover it. I don’t even have the right kind of thread in my sewing box. I was reminded of the housewives of 50 years ago who made it fine in the kitchen with a knife and a fork, yet I wouldn't want to give up my bread machine and my food processor. KW


When summer temperatures turn sizzling hot, about the only way to exercise your doggie is to take her swimming. We seem to have found a nice spot on the Washington side of the Snake. It’s not a beach exactly – rocks instead of sand – but it is a safe place to swim. Since it isn’t a beach, we encounter very few people there and it’s a comfortable spot to exercise Nellie.

The temp at our house on Sunday was 112. Yesterday (Monday) was cooler – 100. A storm rolled through last night bringing us intermittent rain – a few heavy showers – and cooler temperatures. It might reach 80 today.

[Nellie exercised by making 10 retrieves of a stick from the Snake River.]

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Mike had planned a backroads geocaching excursion to Cottonwood Butte and points beyond for Saturday morning on our way back to town. But – upon researching the roads, he discovered some were impassable for anything but 4-wheelers and we had planned to travel in the Dakota. We were a little disappointed to cancel our plans.

“Where else could we go?” I asked. So, Mike planned an outing in another direction. After crossing the Clearwater at the Arrow Bridge, we took Highway 3 to Juliaetta and located caches on the Juliaetta Genesee Highway, ending with caches at the Thorn Creek Cemetery and in Genesee. We found all eight caches, arriving at the town house about 2:00. [Sorry -- no photos this trip.]

It’s hot here in town – 110+ today. One of the motivations for returning to town this weekend was a cycling club 60-mile ride out of Palouse in which Mike planned to participate. However, it was cancelled due to the heat so he made an early morning ride on his own.

The good things about being here in town? Watching the Olympics in hi-def, air conditioning, swimming, shopping, faster computer, seeing friends, and telephone conversations. KW

Friday, August 15, 2008


Two photos taken as the sun disappears behind the hill. We notice the days are getting shorter.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Mike took his road bike out to the paved highway and made another long ride. He has already packed his bike into the Dakota for return to Clarkston. He says harvest has begun in earnest in Lewis County, so no more rides out to Nezperce and beyond for a while.

While Mike was gone, Nellie and I took a long walk – an extension of our usual route. Here's a pre-harvest photo looking across "June's" field to our north field. The clump of trees on the left is our grove.

When we returned, I finished a Christmas presentation I’ve been writing, “No Skimpy Christmas Here!” based on Ina’s pre-Christmas letters. I don’t know why it was so important to me to finish it this early, but it was on my mind and I’m glad I have worked through it. It’s a one-woman presentation in which I am Ina telling about a depression-era Christmas on the farm through the letter she’s writing to Vance. I have one scheduled performance. Of course, that’s in December.

Have you been watching the Olympics? Mike is an avid fan, and I enjoy watching some events. We blend old technology with new and record by means of VCR (a little tricky but Mike has it figured out) so that we can watch when convenient and eliminate commercials.

I have been picking raspberries for the last two weeks. I had several days of bumper harvest – ½ cup per day. Now it’s trickled off to half dozen berries or so. The strawberry plants purchased at a yard sale did not bear this year, but I am happy to say I had good survival rate. The plants that were munched last week have come back nicely with the protection of some netting. But I have a dozen everbearing plants set out last year that are producing a few berries. My tomato plant has two tomatoes, but I’ll be amazed if they ripen before frost, which could be in the not-to-distant future. And I’m not sure the zucchini plant will ever bear. You can’t afford to be late with your planting in this environment.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Last week while Pete Curfman and I were repairing Kathy’s great grandmother’s grave stone he mentioned that he’d like to convert his bike to one with more gears. Of course, if you know Pete, you know he has plenty of parts for all kinds of machinery. So I said I’d bring my bike tools up the following week and give him a hand.

I did as promised and showed up at his place a little after 8:00 am Tuesday morning. What he had was an old 6 speed Huffy cruiser in pretty good shape. Well, to make a long story short, we delved into his parts supply and came up with a triple crank, front derailleur, shifter and cables from some other old bikes. Doesn’t sound like much of a project but invariably there are problems and usually these kinds of conversions are not successful. However, after 3 or 4 hours we had a grateful Pete cruising down the road on his 18 speed Huffy. I could hardly believe it. (That pole strapped on his bike is his "snake stick")


We had company last week – a couple who used to live in the Gilbert / Nezperce / Grangeville area and now live in Lewiston. It was great to see people. We were glad they came.

“Do you need directions to the house?” I asked upon inviting them.
“I know right where it is,” she replied. “I’m an old ridge runner.”
But, upon their arrival, I was surprised when they both noted that they had never been “down” to the “old Dobson place.”

It put me in mind of another time when a long-time resident of the Gilbert area commented to my mother that she had never been down to the Dobson place. She lived not two miles from here. That same person cautioned me that we should not drink the cistern water, so she obviously had some knowledge of the old set-up here.

Where is the line, I wonder, between trespassing and neighborliness? In the old farm life, did people not visit with one another? Were they too busy for company? Is it wrong to be a little curious – to drive down a county road to see the lay of the land so that you understand the place where you live? I guess it’s sort of embarrassing when the road dead-ends in someone’s yard. It doesn’t bother everyone. Hunters are generally unaffected.

When I ride my bike, I love to watch for the old homestead sites. Most of the structures are gone. What remains are the plantings – bushes, orchards, trees, even flowers. [The photo to the right is an example of such a site. The left photo is of a deteriorated barn at an old farm site on Miller Road.] The old Senter’s house is still standing and I used to like to stop there and rest. Now it’s marked “private property” and roped off. “Surely it doesn’t mean me,” I’m tempted to think. And there’s a good chance it doesn’t mean me, but without specific permission I’m in the mix with everyone else.

This morning I parked my bike on Miller Road and walked several old roads trying to reach the north rim. My goal was to get a better view of the river so that I could understand the lay of the land. “What if someone asks me what I’m doing here?” I asked myself. “Well, I’ll just tell them I’m a roving reporter for the Frog Ranch Blog trying to get a view of the river. Inquiring minds want to know.” I didn’t take the camera today. The bulge in my pocket was a crushed beer can. KW
[The photo at the top is of Dobson Road, a county road, at what we call "Plank Hill." The pine tree and green spot on the right denote where the Plank house used to stand. The fields to the left of the road on this side of the canyon are ours with the furthest being the one north of the house.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I love to exercise early in the day for several reasons. I don’t like to exercise at all, so if I do it early I feel I’ve really accomplished something and can get on to other things I like to do. Otherwise, I feel a certain dread – like I have something I need to do that I’m putting off. And – it’s so much nicer to exercise in the cool of the day. I have more energy then.

Mike went to Pete’s this morning to help him with his old bicycle, so I stopped there on my bike ride in order to get my tires checked. Then I set off for a ride down Miller Road. Nellie stood at the side of the road looking as though she wanted to come with me.

“Stay Nellie! You can’t come with me. You stay here! Stay!!”

But ere I had ridden a quarter of a mile, I heard the clip of dog feet hot on my tail. Sure enough! Nellie zipped right on by me and then stopped up ahead as if to say, “See? Yes, I can come with you! I can! I can keep up with you! I will!” It was obvious she really wanted a good run in the cool of the morning, so I said okay.

We zipped on down Miller Road with Nellie staying ahead. She knows where all the country ponds are – yes, she’s run Miller Road with us before. At one point she quickly ran through a pond and appeared through the brush drenched and refreshed. She didn’t dally about it. Staying ahead of me was her mission!

Miller Road is probably 3.5 to 4 miles long. From the farmhouse to the end of Miller Road is five miles and a good exercise ride for me, but today we turned back when we were in sight of the Miller house – about halfway. Nellie continued to stay with me or keep ahead all the way back to Pete’s. She stayed with Mike while I rode a ways further. Then I picked her up and she ran hard beside me back to the farmhouse.
[Nellie is taking a nap this afternoon since she had a good run this morning.]

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I had already taken Nellie for her walk and while we were out, I took pictures of the impending storm.

The mashed potatoes were in the microwave, ready to be warmed. The apricot pie was waiting to be baked during the cool of the evening. I had gone to take my shower while Mike finished grilling the chicken. That’s when the storm hit. It was 6:40 p.m. We know because that’s when the electricity went off. And about the same time – early in the storm – the forked fir tree split and half of it fell.

During the storm winds gusted to 35 mph according to our wind-o-meter. We had brief spells of hard rain or hail. Of course there was lightning and thunder. Before supper we saw smoke that appeared to come out of Little Canyon both to the north and to the south of the house. Mike left immediately to check it out but saw no fire. He finished grilling the chicken and we had supper without mashed potatoes or pie.

Whatever our plans might have been, we were now having an “old home” evening. We sat and read for awhile as daylight waned. When it was too dark to read, Mike lit the Coleman lantern and we read some more. It was while I was brushing my teeth, about 9:20, that the electricity came back on. We were relieved. We then decided to stay up a while longer. I cooked the mashed potatoes and baked the pie.

Here are before and after pictures of the tree:

This picture was taken August 5 from the other side of the pond. The tree in question is the odd forked one to the right of the house.

And here's a good picture of the damage. As you may be able to see, the tree was rotten at that fork. We count our blessings that not only was no one hurt but the branch missed the young trees we had planted in that area as well as the composter, the wood shed, the outhouse -- well, okay -- maybe the outhouse should be gone.

And here's a picture of clean-up, Mike's activity of the afternoon.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I had been planning another major geocaching adventure ever since Jack left. Actually, the Elk River caches had been on the back burner for some time. I went up last summer for a day (that’s when the 4 wheeler came off the trailer into the back of the pickup on the way out) and once the summer before. Almost all the caches in the area are owned by tatbs who looks to be a young man in his twenties. He doesn’t geocache himself, he just hides them. He must live in the area because his bio says he is in the back country up there every week from June through Sept. He has logged only 1 cache but owns 23. He places them in a length of white pvc pipe 4” in diameter by about 15” long. Most are hidden in a stump. He doesn’t mean to make them hard to find once you get there. Getting there is the challenge. That coincides with my philosophy.

I began this trip from the farm leaving at 5:30 am Tue, Aug 5th. I crossed the river at Orofino and took the Wells Bench road to the Dent bridge. It’s very steep but paved all the way. The first two caches were along the south side of Dworshak along the Cold Springs Trail. They were the only ones not belonging to ttabs. They required about a mile round trip hike and I thought they would be pretty easy. Turns out one wasn’t because the coordinates were off 50 or 60 feet and I wouldn’t have found it without the explicit hint in the description.

Then I crossed the Dent bridge over the reservoir into ttabs’ territory. The pavement ends and the road to Elk River is called the “Back Country Byway”. When I came to the road into the first cache I unloaded the 4 wheeler and set off. These side roads are blocked and have signs saying they are restricted to motorized vehicles wider than 48”. After quite a journey with a couple of wrong turns, in spite of my meticulously placed waypoints, I could only get to within .16 miles of the cache. The rest was a steep ascent to the top of Green Mountain through thick brush. I did make it and was only the 3rd person to log it, the last one being over two years ago. As this was the only cache in the area I loaded the 4 wheeler back on the trailer and proceeded to Elk River.

The first batch of caches was quite a ways from Elk River but I unloaded the 4 wheeler there because I intended to make a kind of circle and besides, the 4 wheeler gets much better mileage than the truck. The next cache was called “Captain Crunch” and it was the scariest one I did because of the road (?) I took. It was a road on the map but in actuality is was a washed out stream bed with huge rut-like ditches going up a steep hill. If I had turned over or gotten hurt I don’t know how I would have gotten out. I turned around twice thinking it must be the wrong road but since the sign at the fork had said “Captain’s Cabin” so I figured it must be the right one. Finally I came to an intersection with a main gravel road which I could have taken if I had known its condition. On the map the roads looked equal. After getting on that main road I had no trouble in finding the cache.

I proceeded finding 5 more caches all of which had not been found in over a year. I could not find the right road on the last cache and ended up climbing almost straight up a mountain through thick brush to get to it. Then, of course, I had the problem of finding my way back to Elk River and the truck. You cannot imagine the maze of little 4 wheeler roads in that area. Fortunately I had enough waypoints marked on the map that I was able to make it back without too much trouble. By the time I got back to the farm it was about 8:45 pm. Nine caches logged and no “no finds”. The only bad thing on this trip was somewhere on the way back I lost one of the 4 wheeler loading ramps off the trailer. No pictures this time because I was afraid to risk the new camera after losing the other one on the backpacking trip. There are still at least 5 caches up there that I didn’t have time to get. I guess that means another adventure.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I knew there was a place on Miller Road where the Clearwater River could be seen. Just briefly I spied the river from my perch behind Mike on the 4-wheeler. So, on today’s bike ride, I took myself to the end of Miller Road, and on the way back I began to watch for the spot where I might catch sight of the river. I had begun to think I might have been dreaming, when suddenly it happened again – I saw the river.

I can't name the section of river we see in the photos. I just know it's the Clearwater. I'm sure the spot has been known to locals for generations because there was a narrow turn-out at the spot. It's hazy today -- probably smoke. Now that I know the place, I'll try for a photo on a clear day -- and maybe find someone with info.
At 3:30 p.m., it's 95.4. That's hot for here. It's 75.5 in the house -- quite pleasant. We closed all the windows about 8:30.
Oh -- We haven't seen the horses today. KW

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


“How did I miss this pile?” I asked myself. “How could I have missed it? I got the one over there. Did I walk right by it? Am I crazy? That’s a scary thought! Or – have the horses been here again?” I really couldn’t be sure but the stuff seemed – well, kinda fresh. I grabbed the shovel and a pail and with my trusty companion, Nellie, I set out for the pond again. I felt as though I should wear a clown suit and a big bulbous red nose. “This is pretty silly,” I say to myself. “Just think how rich in nutrients next year’s compost will be,” came the counter voice. “Just think how much better this year’s garden is than last year’s was. Yessirree! It’s a fine thing you’re doing.”

So, I cleaned the yard and then I went back in the house. Erelong Nellie spoke. “Bark – bark bark,” she said tentatively. So, I stepped out to see – and there they were – five of them standing under the trees in the grove. “Get out of here!” I yelled, sounding rather more authoritative than Nellie, I thought. And to my surprise, all five horses turned and ran toward the canyon. At that moment I realized I could have had a beautiful photo of them standing there if only I hadn’t been in haste to shoo them away.

So, I grabbed the camera, called Nellie, and we went off into the field in search of the horses. (Watch your step!) Now, if I’d really thought I could catch them, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but I did think I could probably see them in the distance and get some photos. However, the phantom horses were nowhere to be seen.

I did see them again, though. As I sat at my sewing machine this afternoon, movement caught my eye, and there they were – six of them running past the pond and into the field, again heading westerly toward the canyon. I don’t know why they were running. It seemed too hot to run to me!
But even as I'm writing this post, I look out the diningroom window to the north and see Nellie watching something. There they are again! The horses are now moving eastward through the north field. They cross the lane and one of them heads off through the grain to the top of the hill. The others seem reluctant to follow. Eventually they all head off to the pond where they stop at the southern edge and then pause to enjoy the shade.
They are gone again now but will likely return in the middle of the night to have a sip from the pond.