Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Just one week ago today (9-23) the daytime highs were in the 90s. Mike and I left the farmhouse in the morning, drove to Orofino, and then headed eastward on Highway 12 (the Lewis and Clark Trail) to Lolo Pass. The object, of course, was to see some sights and get a few geocaches in that area before cool weather set in.

This is a picture of the Lochsa River from the Warm Springs Trailhead bridge.

Do you think there could be a cache here?

After a picnic lunch at the Lolo Pass visitor center, we drove some rutted, rocky wilderness roads – Elk Creek Summit and then Forest Road 362 (gaining almost 3400 feet in elevation in nine miles) into Walton Lake. It was beautiful there. I understand that the mountain range in the distance is the Bitterroots.

On the return trip, we walked the nature trail at Colgate Licks. We have never taken the time to stop there before. Here's the picture I took of Mike to complete an "earth cache."

It was 8:15 p.m. and dark when we arrived back at the farmhouse. We saw quite a few whitetail deer cavorting in the moonlight as we approached the farm. It was still so warm that we didn't need a blanket on the bed that night.

And even last Saturday (9-26) the weather was beautiful with temperatures in the low 80s. (See previous post.) Not now, though. Yesterday the temperature dropped significantly. This morning it was 39 at 6:30 and the high was 60. I have traded my summer nightie for light-weight pajamas and the electric blanket is in place. This area will yet have some lovely "Indian summer" days, but mornings and evenings will be cool. KW

Monday, September 28, 2009


Mike and I hosted a "meet the couple" reception for daughter Hallie and husband Nick at Hells Gate State Park near Lewiston on Saturday, Sept. 26. Blog followers will know that Hallie and Nick married on August 29 in Seattle. The focus of this reception was to allow friends and family, some of whom were unable to travel to the wedding, to celebrate with us. Our nephew Shann with the able assistance of family and friends cooked "kabobs" for us in his "pig roaster." And, of course, wedding cake for dessert.

Even though it's late September, the day was beautiful at this spot on the Snake River. We enjoyed sharing a meal and lots of visiting.

Hallie and Nick chat with Loris while Kathy stands behind the cake.

Adoring look . . .

This is a couple experienced in cake cutting. I heard them discussing and giving each other cues. "Ready? -- Now!"

Gifts --
Hallie admires holiday embroidery by "Aunt" Chris.

Aunts Joni and Harriet are close to the action.

Well, that's it. Now we move from organized celebrations to the celebration of life events, adding a new couple to our family. KW

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Mike and Nellie were going bird hunting here at the farm (9-22), so I threw on a pair of jeans and my hiking boots, grabbed the camera, and tramped along behind them.

Here's a nice late-summer photo of the farm house from beyond the pond. Note the red apples on the tree.

This draw is called "Stove Creek." We pick plums here -- and the deer bed down under the plum trees. You can see the farmyard --the clump of trees on the right side of the photo. And that line running from the farmyard to Stove Creek is actually the boundary between Jack and June's homesteads.

I love this photo taken from June's field. Looking at the two properties as a whole, the farmyard sits in a natural hollow in the center. This side of the hollow was June's homestead, so you can see why it was important to us to make the two farms one again. The barn and the pond sit just inside the boundary. Of course, it didn't matter to my grandparents because the two farms functioned in cooperation.

Although she's mostly white, Nellie has little tolerance for the heat early in the season. Mike carries water and a container so that she can have a drink. Nobie would lap water poured from a bottle or canteen. Nellie says that's just too weird.

Here's a clear picture of the turn I mentioned in a previous post -- where June and Bertha's house was located. The large pine tree is on Dobson Road and marks the place where the access road begins.

And here's a picture showing Dobson Road flowing down to our lane at the left. Note how much the culvert raises the lane. Before the culvert was installed, that boggy low spot was problematic. Sometimes, when I was a child and rode with my dad to the farm in early spring, we would get stuck at this point. Daddy would walk on into the farm, get the little D2 Cat, and pull the pick up out of the mud. "Wouldn't Vance just love this?" a neighbor comments when he admires the culvert. Yes, he would! KW

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Whether it be sewing, cooking, crocheting, whatever -- I'm particular about the end product, especially when I want to give it away. Sometimes I hold a higher standard than I can meet, bite off more than I can chew as it were -- and then I'm disappointed. But some things I have done for years and know I can do, so I'm baffled about this year's elderberry jelly. I have three failed batches of the stuff. (I'm tellin' ya -- I've run out of jars!) The stuff neither qualifies as jelly or syrup, being somewhat in between and somehow globbish. What am I doing wrong? I even re-cooked the first batch but the product was not improved. If I were making for just Mike and me, I would roll my eyes and move on to the next thing (machine embroidery, quilting, dollmaking), but I want to share it with family and friends. Here is my list of possible reasons for the failed product:

#1) The elderberries weren't ripe when we picked them. I thought it might be too soon. I remember one year I picked them in October while the guys were hunting, and in conversation last year, Uncle Dan mentioned hearing that the elderberries sweeten with a frost, so it could well be that the berries were too green. If the juice is the problem, it's useless to continue experimenting with what I have on hand.

#2) SureJell has dropped elderberry from its list of recipes, so I have trusted online info. I used three cups of juice, but one site recommends 3 3/4 cups for SureJell (which I used) and 3 cups for MCP. Have you priced pectin recently? Expensive! I just hate to experiment with this stuff. The pectin, 4 1/2 cups of sugar, and 3 cups of berry juice is wasted with each failed batch -- not to mention the jars!

#3) Perhaps I'm rushing the process, not cooking the pectin long enough before adding the sugar or not cooking the syrup long enough after adding the sugar. But I'm here to tell you, I have made elderberry jelly -- and some other kinds -- many times and never found the product as touchy as some folks claim -- until this year, that is.

#4) Since I froze the juice, I thought perhaps starting with cold juice was the problem. So, with the last batch, I was careful to start with juice at room temperature and add the pectin carefully, making sure it was well combined with the juice before beginning to cook. That batch was just as sticky wierd as the others.

#5) I don't think this constitutes the reason for failure, but I committed a big "no-no" by squeezing the jelly bag. Sorry. I will never do it again.

Internet experts abound. One writer said elderberries don't have enough natural pectin to set up, however, last year I made a nice batch without store-bought pectin -- a fact that another online writer corroborated. Most sites and the pectin instructions advocate processing the jelly in jars in a canner. I never do that. If the jelly doesn't seal, I just freeze it.

My plan: I bought more jars. When the weather is colder, I'll seek to pick elberberries again, process more juice, and give it another try. So, if you have any ideas on this subject -- anyone -- I would gladly consider them. And I'll report in a couple of weeks how that batch turns out. KW

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Brother Shangle preached two fine sermons," wrote Aunt Bertha Dobson on June 20, 1934. "I was glad to meet him. Of course, [he and his family] stayed with Sister Ina Dobson. Their place looks so nice, nice lawn, machinery all put out of sight, house o.k., etc., whereas the June's have a Peter Tumbledown place, barn yard full of old machinery, hog house merely standing. Shucks – what's the use? Snuff." [It's enough.]

I know I've written about this previously, but for benefit of review – My grandmother, Ina, and her sister, Bertha, married Jack and June Dobson, identical twin brothers, in Moscow, Idaho, on Christmas Eve, 1892, and proceeded to live in close proximity to one another for the rest of their lives. First they lived in the Potlatch River country above Kendrick, but when the Nez Perce Reservation was thrown open for settlement in 1895, the twins took adjoining 160-acre homesteads on the breaks of Little Canyon in the Clearwater River drainage. And there they lived "happily ever after" – sort of. As you can tell from the above quote, Bertha and June had a harder time of it than Ina and Jack, and while I don't know for sure, I think Ina was the driving force that made the difference. The two homesteads are again one, and one of the benefits is better access to our house "across the top," rather than through a narrow draw.

My half-brother, Chuck, arrived at the homestead for a visit last Sunday (9-13). Chuck spent much of his youth at the farm, working with my dad and other area farmers. Since Chuck is 13 years older than I, I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to tap into his memories of this place and its people. Late in the afternoon, Mike, Chuck, and I walked up the lane to Dobson Road, up the steep Plank Hill, and then at the large pine tree we turned south onto the old access road across June's place. I learned last year that it's important to stay on the road. Otherwise you descend into a gulley with no easy way out.

"Do you remember June?" I asked Chuck.

"Oh yes," he said.

"Well, what was he like?" I asked, expecting at least a paragraph of information.

"Pretty much like Jack," said Chuck. Jack passed away in 1946 while June passed in December 1949, just months after I was born. If Chuck knew Jack at all, it was only briefly, and he probably didn't see much of June either.

"Can you tell us where June and Bertha's house was?" I asked. And Chuck showed us its location at the point where the road turns west toward Jack's place.

Really! Mike and I had surmised the house was in sight of Jack and Ina's place. For one thing, if it had been, they would have had a beautiful view to the northwest. But no – Chuck is adamant. He remembers walking between the two houses. He knows it was at the turn – give or take some feet. We agree it would be impossible at this point, 60 years later, to determine the exact location of the house.

"I don't remember much about Ina," I tell Chuck. "Do you have memories of her?"

"Oh yes," responds Chuck. "Well, she was industrious, always busy. I remember her in the kitchen mostly, doing the washing and ironing. She did a lot of washing and ironing. And I can remember this wonderful bread she made. I remember sitting and waiting for it to come out of the oven, my mouth just watering. It had raisins and cinnamon and she baked it in a round. It was just delicious."

And then I remembered my dad trying to approximate that bread a couple of times as I was growing up. "It's a bread my mother used to make," he said. But unfortunately the result was disappointing, especially to him. "Your dad doesn't make good bread," Mother observed; "he doesn't know how to knead it." Ina had evidently taken with her the secret of her wonderful round cinnamon raisin bread. A search of her recipe box did not yield any recipe for cinnamon raisin bread. KW

[Photo 1 is Ina's house in 1940 while photo 2 is Bertha's house in the same timeframe. Photo 3 is Ina and Bertha sitting in front of Ina's house, July 16, 1922. The other photos illustrate the text. The photo of Chuck and Mike looks across June's fields to Jack's. The last photo is Ina's house today. Chuck waves from the front porch.]

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today was the opening of chukar season -- apparently all birds except pheasants. Mike and Ken took Nellie and Duke and left at 5:00 this morning for one of their favorite "by permission" hunting grounds. They were home about 11:00. Mike and Nellie had one small bird. Ken and Duke had none. There are ominous reports that the bird population is way down this year, but Mike and Ken will get the dogs out for some hunts anyway.

I think Nellie can tell by the change in the weather (and perhaps other signs known only to her) that hunting season is coming. These photos of her on practice point were taken at the farm last Sunday (9-13) morning above "Stove Creek," a draw that runs through the homestead. I was there to throw some clay pigeons for Mike and had the camera in my pocket. Nellie was a beauty to behold as she held that point, but frankly we didn't take her seriously -- although you can tell she is totally serious. Sure enough! A beautiful covey of huns got up and flew to the southeast. I was so surprised I failed to take a picture -- just stood there watching them fly away. Some hunter I would make!

We've been in town since last Monday evening. Town time has included a P.E.O. meeting for which I baked three batches of quick breads -- choclate zucchini, zucchini pear, and green tomato spice; setting up the Bernina and continuing to study about machine embroidery; and of course, shopping. KW

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Geocaching is not really about the numbers to me but, nevertheless, there are a few milestones that are nice. Today I logged my 1,000th cache. There were a few caches up in the Blue Mountains in southeastern WA that had sprung up since grandson, Jack, and I were up there summer before last and logged a bunch. One in particular that interested me was called “Wenatchie Guard Station”. At this guard station is a flagpole and the cache is attached to the top of the flagpole. The cache itself was a small capsule about 2” long by ½ “ in diameter with a log rolled up in it that was attached to a clip on top of the pole. There was no practical way I could log the cache on top of the pole so I had to climb up, unhook the cache, climb back down, retract the log with some tweezers, stamp and date it and then climb back up and clip it back to the top of the pole. I should had brought my Easy Button to hit when I finished. There were about a half dozen more up there and it just worked out that the flagpole turned out to be the 1,000th. Ken went with me and we traveled about 90 miles getting caches and looking (unsuccessfully) for grouse. This last picture was one in a rock cairn called "The Sound of Music". It offered a beautiful view. It was a fun day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Mike rides his bike almost every day. While he's gone, Nellie and I walk to the mailbox -- a mile from the house. The minute Mike is out of sight, Nellie is begging to leave for the walk. Most times it's not a problem.

We don't walk to the mailbox because we'll find mail there. We rarely get mail in this place. Friday was the exception. I had ordered a book and had it shipped here on purpose for the anticipation of finding something at the mailbox.

You know, I just love those folks at They send me an email message now and then, kindly recommending books that they think I might like to have. " has new recommendations for you based on items you purchased or told us you own," and then they'll list about eight books, any one of which I would love to have in my library. Occasionally I bite. Yes, they have my number. This time I ordered Victory Quilts by Eleanor Burns, the queen of quilting. I love the quilts she showcases and the bits of history she offers. So, on Friday I found a black plastic bag tied to the mailbox. I untied it, removed my book, and stuffed the bag back into the mailbox. I have so enjoyed dreaming over that book.

Nellie particularly loves the walk this time of year. She finds apples under the apple trees and plums under the plum trees. And she's always on the lookout for game birds. She doesn't find many here, but she practices by pointing meadow larks. Apparently meadowlarks have a little scent to them. We're so used to her practicing on the meadowlarks that we're really surprised when she gets up a stray pheasant or a covey of huns.

And, of course, just because it's late summer and harvest is over doesn't mean we can relax vigilance with regard to rattlesnakes. In fact, I was startled by the familiar buzz of a rattler yesterday as I walked down the lane. I stopped dead in my tracks until I could locate the snake lying in the ditch. I took this photo with the telephoto lens.

The harvesters left this lovely road over June's place and I love to walk back to the house this way. This is actually the route that my family used to access their property, the adjacent homestead. It's sort of a homely route -- doesn't offer much in the way of interesting or changing scenery -- just passes through a field. But I'm fascinated to think of the years my ancestors traveled this road, passing Aunt Bertha and Uncle June's house and then opening the gate and passing into their own farmyard. My half-brother Chuck is coming this afternoon. I'm in hopes he can help me identify the location of June's house.

And -- Hallie called me yesterday as she and Nick waited for their flight to Seattle out of Atlanta. She said the weather in Ireland had been chilly and rainy. She was exhausted and battling a cold. But it sounded as though they had seen interesting things. I look forward to hearing more about Irish castles and such. KW

Friday, September 11, 2009


This is Nellie's sixth birthday. She woke up happy and frisky and enjoyed her day. We came back to the farm this morning, and after lunch she caught a mouse in the yard. Hooray for Nellie!

Here's a picture of Nellie and Duke lying in the grove last week. Duke rather likes Nellie, but Nellie doesn't have much tolerance for Duke, so when I saw them side by side in the yard, it seemed like a perfect moment. "I'd like to get a picture of them," I told Mike, "but I'm afraid if I go out the back door they'll move."

"Go out the front door then and use the telephoto lens," Mike advised. So, I crept out the front door and got the picture from the porch. Since I had that picture, I opened the back door and took another. Since that worked, I crept closer to them, and they let me take another. My regret is that I didn't try to get a lot closer.

Here's another photo of Nellie that I took this evening as she watched for Mike to come back from his bike ride. KW

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Now don't get upset. I'm not advocating for the playing of carols and decorating of trees. But if you want to – go ahead. It's all fair after Labor Day in my book. Beginning with Labor Day, we have Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's – and several more from there. And I don't know about your days – but my days melt away so fast it's time for me to at least be thinking about what I want to do for Christmas. And if I'm going to do what I want to do, I'd better get organized and get with the program! If you're the same way, make yourself a cup of spicy tea and treasure some happy secrets in your heart. I find I get through the holidays a lot better if I see them as a journey, not a destination.

Of course, it's still late summer, and summer / harvest things remain to be done. There's housecleaning – never my favorite activity but it takes on new meaning as I anticipate decorating a clean house. I have dried one box of pears and will do more. I have more elderberry juice to convert to jelly. We checked the plum trees recently and the fruit is still rather green, but we talked of pie and plum jelly. The country apples on the old trees seem a little mealy and could be ignored, but maybe I'll make sauce or a pie. Having lost my corn crop to the lack of moisture and my carrots to the grasshoppers, I planted spinach in the raised bed. Will it sprout? Will it survive bugs and frost? Will it winter over? I don't know.

Mention housecleaning to Mike and he volunteers to do the floors. It's all I can do to keep up with him as he moves furniture – then cleans, waxes, and buffs with the old buffer that probably equals him in weight – and age.

Last night (Labor Day) we did something we hadn't done before. We ate supper at the farm and then Mike watched a college football game. When the game was over, we hopped in the Dakota and drove the 55 miles back to the town house. We'd never done it at night before and we enjoyed light traffic, the bright moon, and listening to a podcast. We'll stay in town a few days. I'm working on the details for Hallie's reception, and Mike finds chores wherever he is. Today he vacuumed and serviced a chain saw. KW

Sunday, September 6, 2009


My best childhood friend and pal, Chris, now lives not far from me in Moscow – about 30 miles north when we're in town but farther when we're on the farm. We were both born at the old hospital in Orofino, Idaho, where women in labor were required to pass an initial test – climbing the stairs to the second floor. It was scorchingly hot that August of 1949, I heard tell. Chris made her appearance first and is 24 days older than I. Therefore, I have the privilege of observing how she handles landmark birthdays before I pass the portal. She says she's very happily 60 and reports that she's making a great adjustment to retired life. When she told me about her birthday celebration this year, she described several events, including shopping and a small family gathering in her honor. It evoked poignant memories for me when she said her mother came with a cake. But the point was that she enjoyed spreading out the celebration, and this year that happened for me, too.
Hallie wrote last May and asked what I would think if she and Nick set a wedding date of August 29. "Your wedding anniversary will forever be the day after your mother's birthday," I wrote back. She said she didn't mind that – and this year the family would be together. Things have a way of working out for the best, and a few weeks after that conversation I was relieved that they had chosen that August date when reunions in Mississippi were scheduled on the July weekend she had been considering. (I allow myself a little joke -- It was good that Mike could be at Hallie's wedding.)
My first birthday celebration occurred when we took the Bernina (last year's birthday present) to the shop for its one-year service and also bought the embroidery module. I told Mike he could call it my birthday present if he wanted to, but the reason I have it is that he bought a motorcycle. I am excited for the opportunity to learn about machine embroidery. I hope it's not too frustrating.

Then, the night of the rehearsal dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Seattle, which was my true birthday, the staff sang "happy birthday" to me and presented me with a chocolate sundae. That was the first our daughters-in-law knew it was my birthday, and they suggested Sunday brunch in my honor. So, we went to Endolyne Joe's in West Seattle (as in end of the trolley car line – now defunct) and enjoyed another meal together. Hallie and Nick were still in town and joined us there. The family gave me just the greatest gift -- gift certificates to Jo-Ann's Fabrics. I'll probably spend it all in one trip to the store by buying thread, but it will be fun. KW

[Photo 1 is of Mike with Kelly and Emmy; photo 2 is Kathy at the Mexican restaurant; photo 3 is the family brunch with Yancey and Kelly in the foreground and Kathy at the far end of the table.]

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Yesterday, after Ken and Mike left to hunt doves in the late afternoon, I was sitting at the diningroom table, working away at my laptop, when movement on the floor caught my eye. I saw a mouse scamper silently around the corner and into the kitchen.

"No!!!" screamed the inner voice. No, I didn't say "Eeeeeek" and climb onto a chair. I just think it's disheartening when the cheeky enemy resists my efforts to control him and now flaunts himself in my house during daylight hours.

"We'll re-bait the traps tonight and we'll get 'im," said Mike confidently. But as we examined our eight traps, we noted that the enemy has been effectively stealing bait, mostly without getting caught. Not a good sign. That means we've been feeding him and he will be back – or, worse yet, hasn't left.

Last night as we watched television in the dimly-lit livingroom – our guest shorthair Duke on his blanket, Nellie sleeping at my feet – I saw it AGAIN! "There's that mouse!" I exclaimed.

"Where?" asked Mike.

"On that side of the chair. No – now it's right there. No, now it's gone again." I'm not sure Mike ever caught sight of it. We tried to rouse the dogs and get them interested. I'd like to say they caught a scent. They sniffed a bit here and there – probably just to placate Mike. So, we gathered up our traps, baited them with old peanut butter, and set them out in the livingroom and kitchen before we went to bed. In addition, we set out two commercial traps, which used to work well but haven't in the last months.

Upon arising this morning, I crept around the house, checking the traps. The enemy successfully eluded us this time, stealing the peanut butter off all the traps. He overlooked only one.

After discussing the enemy's strategy, we realized that we have to work harder at keeping him (who may well be a her) on the trap a bit longer. The traps seem to trigger well, but the mouse in question (if indeed there is just one) is quite small. So, this morning Mike again baited the traps, this time using the peanut butter as glue for cheese.

So, I decided, if the enemy is so bold, I'd better check out the sofa, an old hide-a-bed that used to be in my dad's studio. I know the enemy loves the sofa and I've done much with duct tape and Bounce sheets to try to protect it from them. This constitutes real work in my book, and I just hate to face the fact that it's not really effective. But this morning I made myself open it out -- and guess what I found. Dog chow! No-o-o-o! So, that's where I started my fall housecleaning. Up until yesterday it was useless to clean because Farmer Kyle was still working on the hill. [The photo right shows the sofa and Mike's newly renovated rocking chair.]

Does anyone know if those plug-in mouse-repellent units are any good? KW


Downtown Seattle from the wedding venue, Hamilton View Park in West Seattle, which sits above Elliott Bay. A rainy morning turned into a sunny afternoon, just as the bride predicted. The view was beautiful. Some guests were reluctant to take seats for the ceremony.

Family members chat in the parking lot before the wedding. On the left, Elisha and son Clinton; son Yancey (brown suit, back to camera); our eldest grandson, Douglas; Tiara (bonus granddaughter); grandson Jack; Mike (back to camera); son Milo (mostly hidden by Mike); my niece, Chris, and her sister-in-law.

Both Milo and Chris told me this story. It must have happened. Chris approached Milo and said, "Yancey?" to which Milo replied, "No, guess again." And then she got it right. My parent's grandchildren, "the cousins," were born over a 26-year time span, with our children much the youngest. Chris hadn't seen Milo since he was in high school.

"Isn't my bouquet awesome?!" Hallie shows her bouquet to the photographer. I have often wondered why professional photographers come to the wedding dressed in loud, sloppy clothing. (No offense to the photographer but . . . ) I believe I know the reason. The presence of that loud sweater cannot be overlooked and ruins many snapshots, thereby preserving the photographer's work.

Mother-of-the-bride -- ready to go to the park. I was so fortunate to have found this dress in the wedding colors early in the process. Who would have thought brown would ever be a wedding color? It's everywhere this year. My pink crystal beads were my mother's. I wore the pearl earrings my dad gave me on my wedding day 34 years ago.

Little Emerson Lynn, our youngest grandchild, appeared in a beautiful ruffled brown taffeta number. It would have been such fun to send her down the aisle with a basket of blue and pink flowers. Alas, at 14 months she's just a little too young -- would rather stay with mom and dad, Yancey and Kelly.

The bride's attendants listening to the ceremony. Bridesmaid Jade was Hallie's roommate at Oregon State. She recently earned her MBA and now works in Nome, AK. Maid-of-honor Ellen was Hallie's roommate at the University of Idaho and works as a forester in Colville, WA. (Yes, she is very tall.) KW