Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Here we are at the EconoLodge in Durango, CO. We left the Walrath's home in the St. George area of Utah at 7:30 a.m. and had a full day of driving – nearly 500 miles. We expect to reach the Mile High Warnocks easily tomorrow. We'll give you highlights of our trip in other posts, but I did want to "connect" and let you know that all is well with us.

This motel is so old that the only grounded outlet is in the bathroom. So, the cord to the laptop is stretched to the max and I'm perched on the edge of the bed as I write. Of course, I could just use the battery, but both Mike and I want to use the computer this evening. But first – he says we're going out to eat. KW

Friday, October 24, 2008


We arrived at Milo and Billie's in Boise at 3:30 yesterday, just as T. was driving up to the house with Mason. Perfect timing! T. is a senior at Borah High this year and helps her parents by picking up the boys at their respective schools. As soon as Gage and Milo were home, we went to find a couple of geo-chaches -- what else? When Billie was home from work, we went out to dinner and had a very nice visit. We left that family and drove on to Clint's in Hagerman, arriving about 9:20 p.m.

Through a misunderstanding, Clint had prepared dinner for us. We were just sorry that he had rushed home after working in American Falls all week to fix dinner. Well, we had the leftover shrimp fajitas for lunch and a delicious "veggie pizza a la Clinton" for dinner. He has learned to make pizza from scratch because he didn't like buying it. He's a good cook and expanding his culinary abilities.

Clint works four 10-hour shifts per week so has Fridays off. We enjoyed spending the day with him. Mike took us to three geo-caches in the immediate area, and Clint explained the sites. We also drove into Gooding so that Clint could do some banking and picked up a few groceries. It was a quiet, restful afternoon.

We drove through some beautiful fall foliage between Lewiston and Boise. The tamarak yellows amongst the evergreen conifers were outstanding, not to mention the gullies and draws filled with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. It's beginning to look like fall in the Lewis-Clark Valley, but when I opened the car door at Clint's, the chilly air smelled like autumn -- dry leaves. [In this photo I'm enjoying the fall colors on the Malad River near Clint's house.]

Tomorrow: on to Ivins, Utah, to visit Chuck (my brother) and Joanne Walrath. We expect it to take 9-10 hours. Chuck said they would have supper for us. KW

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


We've spent the last week doing "last minute" chores. We've made Christmas gifts, prepared two houses (and one doghouse) for chilly weather, taken a vehicle for repair, eaten food that might spoil, given Nellie a bath. We've washed clothes and counted out undies, downloaded maps and geo-caches, packed our toys as well as essentials. We said "au revoir" to friends, and put some services on hold. We've had long phone conversations with almost everyone we will visit. We're as ready as we'll ever be. If we've forgotten it, we don't know what it is. We'll think of it half an hour out of town.

Speaking of forgetting, I had a close call yesterday. We were leaving the farm when I decided to check upstairs one more time. I couldn't imagine why. But when I walked into the sewing room, there were three pink bears in the middle of the bed. Baby Bear was distraught, thinking I was leaving without her. Big Sister Bear and Cousin Bear were trying to comfort her but worrying themselves. I must have heard them crying. This afternoon we spent quality time together, making Big Sister Bear a "Hannah Montana" vest and tacking bows on their ears. Then into gift sacks they went to be delivered and hidden away in their new homes until Christmas. I can't help but feel pretty good about that.

I have a box for Boise and a box for Denver. I've packed dried pears for some and elderberry jelly for all. And if we need dessert, we can slice the chocolate zucchini bread. If you don't see a new post here for a few days, you'll understand we're off on an adventure. KW

Monday, October 20, 2008


The satellite dish installer called before 8:00 a.m. today. I gave him directions to the farm. He seemed to understand and read them back to me. His English seemed fluent enough but he spoke with a heavy accent. I felt we hadn't really understood one another and had a sinking feeling about his ability to find us. Sure enough! Between 10:00 and 11:00 we had several more calls from him. He didn't understand that he had to travel the whole grade. The words "on top" eluded him. I had said 10 miles; he understood 3 miles. Nevertheless, he persevered and was willing enough.

The installer announced that first of all he would have to call the tech number because there was no dish on the work order. That in itself was an appalling omission when we were requesting an update to HD. "Now, there will just be one dish, right?" asked Mike. "No sir. You have to have two dishes. Just one dish doesn't work. There were problems and the company no longer uses just one dish," explained the installer. But we had been told by Dish India that the install in town was wrong, that we should have only one dish, and that there would be just one dish at the farm. "I don't have room for another dish," said a frustrated Mike. And this proved to be the case. So, after calls to his main office, the entire update was cancelled. Mike made two calls to Dish India before our service here was restored.

Well, it just isn't over yet. I told Mike I admired him for not throwing in the towel three days ago. I offered to wean myself from television altogether. If I were the "alpha do-er," I'm sure I would have given up. And you might remember that we haven't been handled well by Cableone, although the local office was sympathetic and ultimately helpful.

On a lighter note, I made two batches of elderberry jelly – both successful. I have enough juice for two more batches. And I have been working on bears, although that was disappointing in a way. I didn't realize that my old Singer Athena 2000 has really given up, so I was unable to sew here. I'm breathing deeply and knowing that everything will work out – everything will come together. It will be all right. KW

Sunday, October 19, 2008


You haven't lived until you need something from a company that has outsourced its customer service to another country. It's a long – and probably dull – story. All we wanted was a deal on our satellite service so that when we're in town, we could pause service on the farm and when we're on the farm, we could pause service in town, hopefully maintaining just one account. "We can do that for you," said customer service. And from there it's been a week of maddening discussions with one rep after another, the game plan changing with every call. Tonight we are on the farm with our HD set in place and no satellite service. The good news is that we'll finally get around to watching those movies I borrowed from friends. The other good news is that a service guy is coming tomorrow to upgrade our satellite service. Maybe he'll have suggestions on how to deal with this problem.

Since the mice seem to like to store things in our oven, we put a trap in there when we left last week. Sure enough! Got one! [No photo]

Yesterday (Saturday) I attended the wedding of Spencer Hagen and Sarah Long in Grangeville. Spencer is Polly and John's second son. It was a lovely event and great to see family and acquaintances. Since Mike was tied up with other obligations, I rode with Harriet and Bill – also fun.

It was so nice this afternoon that Mike said I should get out of the house. I wanted to stay in and work on bears, but then I remembered that now is probably the last opportunity I'll have to make more elderberry jelly. The elderberry bushes / trees on our place and nearby are not doing too well. I think they got hit when the fields were sprayed. But we were able to put together enough berries for several batches of jelly. I juiced the berries today and will make the jelly tomorrow – along with "bear work." KW


Friday, October 17, 2008


Thursday, October 16, 2008


I always check the remnant bin when I'm at Jo-Ann's Fabrics and Monday's shopping trip was no exception. Some folks don't like left-over odds and ends of fabric, but I was raised using them. A short piece of fabric says something to me. In its original state – yards and yards of whatever fabric – it was suitable for grand projects, but in its reduced state, it can be something totally fun. That piece of pink chenille I found in the bin – less than a yard – begged to be a stuffed animal (or maybe even two). Suddenly I knew what I would do this week as the bear(s) inside the pretty pink roll of fabric begged to come out and play. I found the appropriate pattern (on sale, of course) and took my "bear in waiting" home with me.

But – the work had to be done first. I was up early Tuesday morning to embark on taking down and laundering the window valances, washing windows and blinds. It was anything but fun and the chenille fabric roll kept calling to me while I worked. By afternoon I was able to start working with the fabric. Having such a strong desire to become a bear, the fabric sewed up quickly. I was able to cut two bears from the chenille. Yesterday I had to make a quick run to Jo-Ann's for thread, and yes, I checked the remnant bin again, coming up with a lovely yard of pink knit embossed with roses. "I want to be a bear, too," it cried to me. So, I'm now on my third bear.

Yesterday our new Samsung television set was delivered and Mike set it up. The LG we bought last year we boxed up and will take to the farm. Since Mike was working in Nellie's space, she rested from the morning hunt in the laundry room. Later she asked me to move the pillow back to her spot in the living room.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


As Kathy earlier related we were on the farm for the deer season opener which almost coincided with pheasant opening (a day later) in Idaho. Even though I was pessimistic about the pheasants I figured it couldn’t be much worse than the deer hunting. Pheasant counts are way down and Ken had hunted hard for 6 hours Saturday to bag only one bird. So we came to town Saturday afternoon and I went pheasant hunting Sunday morning. Ken had a commitment so it was just Nellie and me.

As Ken and I were planning a Monday hunt I picked a spot in Lapwai that would not take long to cover. No sooner had I parked on a side road than I saw a rooster in the road ahead take to the cover on the roadside. Figuring that he would cross the small gulley between the road and field I took to the field in that direction. Meanwhile Nellie blasted up the field and went right past where I thought the rooster would be. That should have been a clue. When I reached the spot I stopped and whistled Nellie back. At that same moment a hen got up on the other side immediately followed by a rooster (about where I had originally seen him). I made a long shot which dropped the rooster at the far side of the road but he took off running up the bank into the field on the other side of the road. In desperation I shot again as he was clearing the bank but he just shook it off and kept going. Fortunately about that time Nellie arrived on the scene. She quickly picked up the scent and in a flash had run down the rooster. Just as she was bringing it back another rooster got up very near where the first one had. There I stood with an empty gun. That’s why this is titled “ALMOST” perfect.

To make a long story short, we hunted on up the draw and Nellie made three nice points and three more retrieves for my three shots. I glanced at my watch after bagging the last bird and we had been hunting for just 2 hours and 15 minutes. A pheasant hunt like this doesn’t come around often.

Monday, October 13, 2008


We were watching one of those programs that provides tips on how to save money. "Learn to perform your own maintenance and repairs," said the presenter. That was not a new idea to us. In fact, I don't believe I've ever heard a savings tip that is news to us. But I don't believe I had ever heard that tip before. Most of the time we're encouraged to leave repairs to the professionals.

Mike has always serviced and maintained our vehicles, repaired and rebuilt lawn mowers, kept sprinkler systems operational, fixed leaky faucets, etc. In recent years he has learned to do even more. When the pump in the washing machine went out, he ordered the part and installed it. Last year he took Grandma Ina's treadle sewing machine apart, cleaned it, and put it back together. Putting it back together was the time-consuming part. The other day he fixed our garbage disposal and the "automatic" lid on our garbage can. And today he became a chimney sweep. The photo to the left shows him on an old stool, trying to free the broom that's stuck in the chimney. "*@#*!" he said; "that happened last year, too." Chimney sweeps probably don't use stools on the roof.

Intuitive Nellie wasn't sure what was happening, but she knew she didn't like it. She hid out in the corner of the kitchen while I mixed banana bread.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Deer season opened yesterday, October 10. If you're rooting for the deer, this is probably the year for you. Ordinarily the best time to get a deer in this place is right around opening day – before the deer get the picture and move to the canyon. However, conditions are working in their favor right now. 1) A depredation hunt occurred the whole month of August on neighboring farms, which served to reduce the already reduced number of deer. 2) The half moon moving towards full provides a lot of night light, making foraging at night realistic for the deer. 3) Our farmer moved in to seed on "opening day eve," disrupting the environment and making the fields difficult for humans to navigate. 4) It turned cold, which encourages the deer to seek the warmer habitat of the canyon.

While Mike is disappointed, he has known for weeks that things weren't working together for an easy season this year. However, it isn't over yet. And, while we've come to enjoy the lean venison meat, getting your deer entails real work, especially if it happens in the cold and you're by yourself and you have to finish up in the dark.

I enjoyed an afternoon in the sewing room yesterday. I was comfortable sitting by the window with the southern sun shining in. I darned knees in a pair of Mike's blue jeans and then worked on the "Ina" costume. Just the hem on the circular bias skirt and the buttonholes and buttons to go. The frustrating part is not knowing the machine well enough to just use the various applications without doing some study.

The photo is me, of course, demonstrating how the clay pigeon thrower works. Stomping on that lever releases the spring-loaded "arm" and that action flings the "bird." To be effective, the photo should have been a close-up of the thrower. Instead, you have a picture of me.

I had a message from Hallie yesterday. She was looking forward to sightseeing in San Francisco.

It's back to town this afternoon. KW

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Mike was getting ready for his bike ride. "It looks like rain," I observed.

"What do you mean?! I was just outside – the sun is shining."

"Nevertheless," I said, "it's dark to the north."

Mike went for his ride during which Nellie and I went for a walk. No more going out without gloves, I said to myself. And where did I put my gnome hat? It felt like snow and Mike also said as much. The low temp this morning was right at freezing.

[The two photos above look to the north. The photo to the left looks south on the "road" through June's place. Nellie and I often take that route as we return to the house from our walk. That way our final approach is a decline rather than an incline.]

Farmer Kyle is here doing the fall planting. He brought the equipment in last night about 5:00 and expected to work into the night. However, a breakdown occurred and he didn't really get started until this afternoon. The up-close photo is just south of the house. The distant photo is in the south field. Kyle explained that he's planting all our fields this fall instead of rotating them in order to put this farm on the same cycle with June's place, farmed by the Praest boys.

Hallie is traveling right now, helping a friend move from Seattle to San Diego. She was looking forward to the trip and seeing new things. She'll fly back to Seattle but I'm not sure what day. We probably won't hear from her for a few days.

We caught one mouse last night in one of the old snap traps. He made the fatal error of approaching the sofa from behind. (No photo.)

Deer season opens tomorrow. Hunters expected. KW


I've learned SO-O-O-O-O much this year – things about sewing, things about the computer, and – lots about pears.

Last year (2007) the tree was glorious when dressed in its spring blossoms, and of course it was loaded with fruit. We asked ourselves why we were ignoring the old pear tree when one of our favorite snacks is dried pears. We resolved that this year we would pick the pears. The spring of 2008 was cold and only the side of the tree hit most by the sun bloomed. Of course, we noticed less fruit. In late August, I researched when to pick the pears, discovering that time would be when the fruit separates easily from the twig, the flesh of the fruit feels springy, a few have dropped from the tree, and/or the color of the fruit changes from green to yellow. At least some of that criteria seemed to be met on September 10, and that's when we picked the fruit.

"Why didn't your dad pick the pears?" Mike asked from his perch on the ladder. I will never really know the answer. My first inclination was to say that he didn't like pears, but at Christmas Daddy would order pears from Harry & David or Pinnacle Orchards, and he enjoyed those with gusto. (I used to think that was the thing to do until I realized I live in the great Northwest and therefore I can just buy pears at the local produce or super market without paying the exorbitant price.) So, my guess on September 10 was that my dad didn't like the caliber of these particular pears and/or that he didn't care to put efforts into maintaining the tree to improve the fruit.

Having picked the tree, we brought the fruit into the house, and right away I began to be concerned. It wasn't ripening. Every day I would check the fruit, and I saw very little progress. So, returning to the computer for more research, I discovered that pears will not ripen unless put into cold storage for a recommended 2-3 weeks. At that point we had an estimated 70 pounds of pear fruit, and we had no room in the refrigerator. However, we were getting ready to go to town for about a week and that made for some possibilities.

First, I graded the pears – tossers, culls, smallish / blemished, and prime specimen. The tossers went to the composter while all but the culls were placed in the refrigerator here after I cleaned it out. The culls I put in a box and took to town for storage in the refrigerator there. As I suspected, the culls ripened gradually, a few at a time. From those I made several pies, pear cobbler, pear crisp, and pear gingerbread.

I didn't have enough time to deal with the pears in the refrigerator here until this current stay. When I removed the two large containers from the refrigerator, the fruit began to ripen immediately. Of course, I lost some of it to the composter – a worthy cause – which also benefited from the parings. The rest of the pears I am peeling, slicing, and spreading on trays for the dryer.

Pears – a beautiful tree, difficult fruit. KW

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I had a meeting in town yesterday afternoon, so we didn't leave for the farm until about 4:00. Let me preface this blog by saying it was lovely here with the rosy evening light reflecting off the shorn fields against the mottled gray sky. We unloaded the pick-up, performed our entry chores, and settled down to watch the presidential debate. I turned on the oven to warm leftover roast chicken and put a little heat in the house.

What's that smell? Oh-Oh. I forgot to check the oven before I turned it on. I was almost afraid to look and my angst was totally justified. There in the bottom of the oven was what looked like strands of stuffing out of our sofa (I've seen it before) and mouse sign. I turned off the oven, opened the window, and moved casually to the living room where the debate had begun. I could see that Mike was "gone," as it were, already into the debate, so I didn't bother him with my troublesome discovery. But I did lift the center sofa cushion – just to see – and there I found two pens, a crochet hook, AND 15 pieces of dog chow. ARRRGH! I removed the pens and crochet hook, deciding that the rest could wait till morning. I did clean out the oven and warm supper.

So, my first chore this morning was to clean the sofa. Armed with a hand broom, dustpan, and vacuum cleaner, I spent an hour at this task. When I was satisfied that it was reasonably clean, I tucked new Bounce sheets into the fold under the back cushions. I also put duct tape over the "pulled" places in the upholstery and packed plastic shopping bags behind the seat cushions to fill that area. I don't know if that will work, but it couldn't be worse.

I admit that I don't know when the mice put the dog chow in the sofa, but I know that they put the stuffing in the oven since we were here last week. Tonight we'll move the box traps and also set the old "snap traps." KW

[Above photos: My dad bought this sofa, a queen-size hide-a-bed, for his studio in the early '80s. We moved it to Mike's office on Broadview in 1991, and Mike, Hallie, and I moved it to the farm in 2002 or so. It's a chore to move because it's so heavy. Looking at the photo on the right, the mice love to cavort on a board that lies behind the back cushions, so I reached into that area with Bounce sheets and then packed plastic sacks between the board and the upholstery. In the last photo, the innocent-looking sofa seems in denial about its role in illicit activity.]

Monday, October 6, 2008


Today I made good progress on Ina's dress. I sewed the continuous lap into place, put the cuffs on the sleeve, and then sewed the sleeves in place. The next step is buttonholes and buttons, but that's work for another day.

Yesterday I attended a demonstration of the "My Label" software at the Bernina Shop. "My Label" has been developed by the Bernina Company as an individualized pattern program. It costs $500, but I see this as cutting edge technology and was excited to attend the demonstration. Since I would leave for the program from Rosemary's house, I invited her to go with me. She suggested it might not be interesting. "Are you kidding!?" I thought. "How could this not be interesting?"

The demonstration opened with a 9-minute video which was hard to hear. Various measurements were illustrated using a scantily-clad computer-generated female figure. "Not very entertaining," I thought to myself, becoming rather self-conscious about Rosemary's reaction. Then the two presenters took over, again discussing the importance of entering 48 accurate body measurements into the program in millimeters, no less. Measurements must be taken over the subject's nearly nude body by means of the invaluable measuring kit, which the presenter said was well worth the money. Translation: The measuring kit is essential to the program but will cost you extra. Then I began to imagine myself as the subject of this program. I would need a "sewing buddy," someone who agrees not only to perform the 48 measurements but who would be willing to learn how to do so, someone with whom I'm comfortable enough to stand in my skivvies – perhaps my daughter, my old pal, a member of my reading group, my husband? My mind rejects all of those – it seems a big favor – and I suddenly find myself losing interest in this technology. Forty-five minutes into the program, I passed a note to Rosemary: "Ready to leave?" She nodded, we rose and expressed our profound regret at having to leave, and exited the building.

Driving off I said, "You know, Rosemary, when you suggested this might not be interesting, I just couldn't imagine that scenario." We laughed. Today I watched a PBS program wherein a sewing guru illustrated how to make alterations on a standard paper pattern by means of about six standard measurements taken in inches. "This is more like it," I said to myself.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

GUEST BLOG: The Shadow BEGINS - Bottle Caps

I bet you probably thought that we collected all of those bottle caps and then lost steam on the project. Not so!

After collecting the caps, they needed to be hammered flat. We tested several different ways to smash the caps, including attempts at running them over with the car, but ultimately, we had to smash each and every one with hammers. Once the stockpile was complete, Nick was able to get started on the construction of the wood frame "canvas". Since the work will be heavy, he wanted to create something that would be sturdy and that he could add a french cleat for hanging. I've never heard of a french cleat, but I really like french toast, french fries, and french bread, so I'm sure it will be good. ;P

First, Nick acquired the wood he would need to build the "canvas" and additional supports. He rented a miter saw so that he could cut the pieces accordingly and then glued, screwed, and nailed it all together. He also stained moulding for a nice frame--a detail I definitely would have left out, not because it isn't worth it, but just because I'm lazy.

Nick is currently working on the sketch, which I find quite impressive. I know the photos are hard to see, but I hope you can get an idea for it.

Friday, October 3, 2008


You can't keep two houses," my mother used to say. But Mike and I are trying. I have to admit it has its challenges. Fortunately the modular home in Clarkston is designed for easy living. The biggest challenge for me is keeping track of what's where. For instance, yesterday I was going to cut out my retro jacket, but I couldn't find the pattern. I figured I had taken it to town, but this morning I found it on the library table in the living room. So, that's a project for next week, I suppose.

Our time on the farm this week was brief – just a couple of days. We came back to town this afternoon and will stay several days in order to participate in some activities.

Can you believe it's October already? The weather has been so mild with lows in the 50s even on the farm. There's just a tinge of color on the old maple tree in the front yard. I took these photos yesterday during our walk. Note the dark sky and see the ripe elderberries in the bottom of the photo on the right.

Yesterday Mike and I went over to the cemetery to clean the lichen off the family grave markers. Jack and Ina's were in good shape, perhaps because I cleaned them several years ago. This time Mike cleaned June and Bertha's while I worked on the Sanders'. Mike used his pocket knife and without a sharp point to dig the moss out of the letters, my work was fairly fruitless. One website I checked suggested that lichen should not be removed but I don't know -- seems like grave markers aren't much good if they can't be read. Anyway, I told Mike it seemed kinda like busy work for folks who just don't have enough to do. I think he agreed.

This morning I was outside fairly early to plant spring bulbs on the bank by the clothesline. Mike came out to offer assistance and just happened to stand on a yellow jacket nest. This was seen as an act of aggression by the yellow jacket community and several pursued him across the back of the house to the kitchen door. He got a nasty sting on the back of his head – perhaps another on his hand. The yellow jackets also took after Nellie and me so we also hurried to the house. It was no use returning to the planting work for about an hour. We dug out our wasp sprays and used them. I found several good websites providing info on elimination of yellow jackets – one published by WSU. Their advice was not to bother to exterminate at this time of year since the nests don't winter over. But we saw it as a situation where we had to protect ourselves.

I thought you might like to see Mike's shotgun practice range – down in the gulley near the plum trees. I stay up above and stomp the clay pigeon thrower for him. This set-up enables him to practice shots that are troublesome. If he misses some, I try to note where they fall so that we can re-throw them.

On our way back into town we stopped by Sears and left off the "Element." We will pick out another set soon. KW

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


We spent five days in town. As we move through fall and into winter, the time in town becomes more extensive. Mike and Ken had such a good hunt on Sunday that they decided to try the same area again this morning. As expected, there weren't as many birds today.

On our way out of town after lunch, we went by Sears to pick up the new Toshiba 37" HD LCD television set Mike bought the other day. Our receipt was scanned at the service door and scanned again inside, and then an employee brought the set to our pick-up and helped Mike load it. I watched. Then Mike reorganized our load to be sure the box remained upright for the curvy ride to the farm. Once we settled in here, Mike opened the box and prepared to remove the set. "This isn't a Toshiba! It's an Element!" exclaimed Mike. The box clearly says, "Element Electronics."

What's an Element? Have you ever heard of Element Electronics? Mike went outside and facing the great cell tower at Teakean, called the Lewiston Sears store, requesting that they deliver the Toshiba and take this Element back. But, they said, they have no Toshibas in stock at the present time. Fortunately we don't have an immediate need for the HD TV. We plan to switch to that in December.

Some town time was devoted to plans for a trip in late October. We'll see Milo and family in Boise, Clint in Hagerman, Chuck and Joann in Ivins, UT, and then spend Halloween in Denver with Yancey and family. Jack called last night to discuss costumes. He's going to be Pop-Eye, Annie will be Olive Oyl, and Emmy will be SweePea. Mike is thinking of going as Wimpy, and we're trying to convince Yancey to be Bluto. Halloween is a Friday and it sounds like Annie and Jack won't have school that day. It will be great to have the day with them for pumpkin carving, costume making, baking, etc. And I'm looking forward to shopping in the city for craft supplies and fabrics. KW