Saturday, January 31, 2009

A BOY AND HIS TOY

After some experimentation with my iPod, Mike wanted one of his own.

"Do you know? – nearly everyone at the gym has an iPod," he commented.

"I'm not surprised," I said. "You should have one, too."

But, Mike has that conservative nature that just won't quite let him really enjoy what he considers an indulgence. So last Sunday we went to one of the marts and he bought a GPX MP3 player on sale. I wasn't necessarily in favor. We're learning iPod technology; why throw in another brand not really compatible? But he liked the size and certain features and so we bought it – and spent one of the most frustrating afternoons ever trying to figure out how to make it work. He finally packaged it up and we returned it.

Thereupon he ordered an iPod Shuffle personalized with his initials. It's red, which means the company will donate to a fund for African something-or-others (you know the trend for color-coded donating). FedEx attempted to deliver it Thursday when I wasn't home, so yesterday (Friday) I stayed home all day in order to be here to receive it. I didn't want him to miss the opportunity to have it this weekend, especially Sunday – his only free day this week. The delivery finally came at 4:15.

Last night Mike made a playlist of some of his favorite tunes and loaded them into his new iPod – so simple! One excited "kid" went off to work with his new toy, looking forward to using his iPod at the gym – "just like all the cool kids."

Friday, January 30, 2009

VANCE’S PRALINES

Mom and Daddy enjoyed making sweet confections during the holidays. Pralines were a favorite. Nina made them, too. This is the recipe I found in my box, which evidently was Daddy's. I'll try to remember to check Mother's box next time we're at the farm to see if she used a different recipe.



1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

¾ cup medium heavy cream

1 T butter

1 T water

2 T white Karo

1 t vanilla

Dash salt

1 c pecan halves

Combine sugars, cream, syrup, water, butter and salt. Cook over medium to low heat to 235 degrees on candy thermometer. Stir frequently with wooden spoon. Remove from heat, add vanilla and cool for 10 minutes. Stir candy briefly and add pecans. Continue to stir but stop before candy loses gloss – "very iffy." Best to butter round spots on cookie sheet, put 3 pecans on each spot and cover with candy.

[The last three days have been sunny and bright. Nellie is convinced spring has sprung. In the words of an old American standard: "I'd say that she has spring fever, but it isn't even spring." She pesters for a walk. When we get back from a walk, she pesters for another. If we don't go, she sulks. Photo is of a sulking Nellie.]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS

While growing up, stuffed green peppers was one of my favorite dishes, but when I asked my mother for her recipe, she said, "I just make them." As a novice cook, not having the confidence to "just make them," I tried a number of recipes. Then came the years when the children didn't especially care for them (remember Calvin's "monkey brains"?), and now it's been years since I made them. Referring to my oldest cookbooks, here are some suggestions.

4 medium green peppers

½ lb ground beef

½ c chopped onion

1 can condensed tomato soup

2 c cooked rice

1 t Worcester

½ t salt

Dash pepper

Remove tops and seeds from peppers; cook in boiling salted water about 5 minutes; drain. Brown onion and beef; stir in ½ can soup and remaining ingredients. Spoon meat mixture into peppers; place in a 6-cup casserole. Bake in a 375 oven for 30 min. Heat remaining soup and served over peppers. 4 servings.

I happen to like a slice of cheese (cheddar, American or Velveeta) melted over the top as well.

Checking other recipes, I find they are much the same, with the exception that tomato sauce is used instead of tomato soup and amounts of this and that vary, of course. It seems to me that 2 cups of rice to half a pound of ground beef is rather a lot of rice, but you can vary that according to what you have on hand or what you like.

I don't remember that my mother parboiled the green peppers. I rather like that crunchier texture. Also – if you did want to tenderize the peppers first, you could do so in the microwave and save yourself some work.

I just performed a blog search using the word MEATLOAF, and our postings from last year came up. My meatloaf recipe is there as well as some other great suggestions. If you have further questions, let me know. KW

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

POOR OL' DUKE

Duke stopped by this noon on his way to the vet to have his "bell" and stocking cap removed. The cap was necessary to keep him from flapping his ears and opening his wound. The bell was to keep him from bumping into things. Seems like overkill to me. Ken said Duke has been feeling sorry for himself. But -- it's all over now.

Another cold snap has me bundling up when I go to bed. Of course, we have an electric blanket but I use it just to warm the bed. So I'm wearing soft socks on my feet and practicing another technique I actually learned from little girl Hallie. Once covered, she positioned her baby afghan and blanket across her neck. So, I've been using the red shawl I made for Ina across my neck and shoulders. Mike says that prevents me from holding the covers tightly to my chin and then snoring. (Now, if we could just discover what would keep him from snoring . . . ) KW

Monday, January 26, 2009

MUSTARD GREEN BEANS


My mother occasionally dressed up green beans by cooking them with onions and then tossing them with butter and yellow mustard. I thought nothing of this. When I began cooking for a family, I would drain the beans, put in a pat of margarine, and toss them with just a touch – maybe two teaspoons -- of plain ol' yellow mustard from the squeeze bottle.

Then came the night that I served the mustard green beans to my mother. "How do you make your mustard green beans?" she asked. So, I described the above method. "For heaven's sake, Kathy!" she exclaimed. "When I think how I followed that recipe – carefully measuring the ingredients – and you just stir some mustard into the beans!"

So I had to laugh when Murray asked for my recipe for mustard green beans. I don't use a recipe. I just make it. And these days I don't even melt any butter with the beans – I just squeeze a little mustard on them. If it isn't working for you, perhaps you're using too much mustard. And if you want onion, I would say to drain the beans and then add a couple of teaspoons of instant minced onion and let them warm together for a few minutes. Or you could cook the beans with a couple of tablespoons of diced raw onion.

We seldom have bacon in the house, but I do love to cook green beans with a little chopped raw bacon and some diced onion. "Those beans are special," someone told me when I took them to a potluck. Such a simple thing. And it works whether the beans are fresh or canned.

Last night plans to go out to dinner with friends fell through. Their dog, Duke, tore his ear late in the afternoon, was bleeding profusely, and had to make a trip to emergency to have the ear super glued. Naturally Duke needed attention throughout the evening, so Mike and I took ourselves out for barbecue which is located at the old "Smitty's Barrel." Anyway, my side of green beans was very good – cooked with chunks of bacon and barbecue sauce.

[After a skiff of snow last night, today dawned bright and crisp – 9 degrees.] KW

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guest Blog: Recipe Storage


I thought to make a comment on the last blog, but I have too much to say:

I often search recipes online, but for the favorites I prefer the ol' handwritten recipe card. When I find a recipe I really like, I copy it down. I like the small size of the card and when I look for a recipe in my box, I'm reminded of some of the favorites that I haven't made in awhile. I also like that some of my cards are from Mom and when I see her handwriting, I think of her.

My cards sometimes get messy or damp during the cooking process, but it only took a few minutes to write out the recipe and I don't even mind that they show their use. You'll know the very best by their wear!

There is an experience that I enjoy with my recipes and the antique recipe box that I inherited. The value of the tactile is something that technology simply cannot replace. For Mom: The computer solution would be good for traveling between locations, but what would happen if the computer or Internet didn't work? I'm going to stick to my little recipe box, but if I find myself without it, then I will go to the computer (or call Mom).

Speaking of antiques and old ways...I think I'll go to the library today! :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

RECIPES -- RECIPES -- RECIPES

I received email notification from HP that my laptop had been repaired and shipped from the service center in La Vergne, TN, on Tuesday, Jan. 20. It was delivered by FedEx the next day. Oh Happy Day! I was disappointed that the problem developed and I didn't think my call to HP was as smooth as it could have been, but I am really pleased with the actual service.

I use gray winter days as opportunities to work through "gray areas" in my life where better organization is needed. Last year I agonized over my old dolls and finally came to some conclusions for their storage. This year I'm thinking about recipes.

I like recipes and I don't cook without them. Besides my collection of recipe boxes and cookbooks, with the advent of the computer and online research, recipes abound! We can (and I do) find recipes for anything. But how should I file those recipes? Is the recipe card file now outdated? Should we use online recipe files or recipe programs? Is it practical to cook straight off a computer screen?

I was considering some sort of computerized recipe program for the laptop. That way I would have my recipes with me in town or at the farm or even when we travel. Looking for information on such a program, I "googled" this question and was surprised with the result. I learned that others are also struggling with the need for a better system, and the blog I read seemed to suggest that the most practical method is to print the recipe and then file it in a looseleaf notebook. Responders cautioned about the dangers of getting a computer too close to the food prep process.

So -- how are you filing your recipes these days? Are you still using a card file or have you adopted a system better suited to the times?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ANALOG TO DIGITAL

You probably didn’t guess that I’m among those affected by the national move from analog to digital. It won’t affect Mike and has nothing to do with our household television. It has to do with my little Sony Watchman.

I’ll bet it was at least 15 years ago that I bought the Sony Watchman for the kitchen. It cost about $30.00, I think – and I have loved it. It receives only the local station, KLEW-TV, but that’s enough. Between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. – while I work in the kitchen – the Watchman keeps me company. Because KLEW is a teaching station, I can listen to the local news twice – at 5:00 and again at 6:00 – and also CBS News (with Katie Couric) sandwiched between.

And “listen” is the operative word. With its 4.5” black and white screen, it’s not fit for watching. On the other hand, I do find myself checking the picture when the story is interesting.

“We’re going to run a test,” announces local newscaster, Matt Lovelace. “If your television set is not digital-ready, you will see a snowy screen with an announcement to call our office for more information.” Sure enough! The little screen proves what I already know -- when the analog signal goes away on Feb. 17, so will my Watchman. It’s not worth hassling with a converter box, and yet, I will miss it.

The march of technology really isn’t fair. You know some folks were still listening to the radio – and it was enough for them – when programming began to disappear because of television. It didn’t matter what they thought, how they might resist, what radio technology had meant and still meant to them – the radio programs were going away. Eras come and go, and sometimes the realization of change is abrupt.

I received shipping notification from HP yesterday. The laptop is on its way back. KW

Monday, January 19, 2009

SECOND COUSINS

Some years back I had phone contact with a genealogy researcher representing second cousins of mine. Our common ancestors were our great-grandparents, Lafe and Lucy Dickson. These cousins – three of them – were the grandchildren of Ida Jane Dickson Patchen while I, of course, am the granddaughter of Ida’s sister, Ina Rose Dickson Dobson. They were surprised to find me. According to the genealogy they were consulting, written in 1937, my dad was unmarried and they assumed that he had never married. So, the email messages flew for a couple of months and then we lost touch again.

But I found in Grandma Ina’s trunk a small pillowcase appliqu├ęd with a southwestern design. Pinned to the pillowslip was a Christmas gift tag – “To Ina from Idy Jane.” Clearly it had never been used, just cherished. I decided my second cousin, Jan, who resides in Oregon, should have it. I sent a Christmas card to which she responded, and we traded current email addresses and renewed acquaintance. “I have something for you,” she wrote. “Me, too!” I said; “I have something for you.” So I mailed off the pillowcase and she sent me a toothpick holder from her dad’s things, etched with the words, “Orofino Ida Fair 1913.” It was a fun exchange and seemed to brighten the dreary January days. KW

Sunday, January 18, 2009

AND ANOTHER ONE DONE . . .


Chris in Moscow sent me this picture of the Christmas quilt she just finished. I rejoice with her in the completion of this beautiful work. I love its simple red and green design. It just looks as though it should linger a while after Christmas to lend a cozy feel to the room. Thanks for sharing the photo. (This is the second quilt Aunt Chris has finished since Christmas. She’s off to a great start.)

Hallie called this noon for a nice catch-up on the phone. She said the sun was shining in Seattle and she and Nick were going out to enjoy it, then maybe take in a movie. It was cold and overcast here – cold being around 32. So, I baked bar cookies in the afternoon and an apple crisp for dessert. Baking does help to boost the warmth of the house.

I went with Mike to TaxTyme late this afternoon. They had a reasonably good start to the tax season Friday and Saturday and the first return transmittal finally came through today. He wanted to be sure it was all in order, so we received and sorted it and I filed folders. (Once a clerk, always a clerk.)

And did you know that you can get your arm stuck between the seat and the console in a car? Mike took the keys out of the ignition when we pulled into the garage and managed to flip them between the seat and the console. So, he went after them the hard way and couldn’t pull his arm back out. His first effort was to try to relieve the pressure by moving the seat. Although the seat moved, he was just as stuck as ever. He succeeded in pulling it out only after we sprayed Windex between his arm and the seat and then not without some bruising. Mike says if I hadn’t been there he doesn’t know what he would have done. Oh yeah – I reached the keys from behind the seat. KW

Friday, January 16, 2009

BACK TO BUSINESS

The shipping box from HP was delivered Wednesday. I immediately packed the laptop and Mike delivered it to FedEx for me yesterday (Thursday). Today I have confirmation that it was received at the HP work center. Projected return: January 26. Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

Mike received a call from the manager of CashTyme yesterday evening. She wanted him to know the staff had been barraged with calls in anticipation of the opening of TaxTyme this morning. She said one woman planned to arrive at 7:00 a.m. and sit in the lot until they opened. So, Mike left the house at 7:00 and I haven't heard from him. Ken took Nellie hunting; she was so happy to see him!

And I -- I ran errands and went shopping in down town Clarkston. Lee Morris is closing after 90 years in business. It's amazing to me they held on this long. I never find anything there and today was no exception. I'm afraid when it comes to clothes, I'm among those expecting exceptional deals or I'm not interested. Boyer's Furniture is also closing. And those living out of the area may not know that Cliff Wasem and his wife were killed in a tragic car accident about two weeks ago. So the face of downtown Clarkston is undergoing some change.

Mike and I went to see Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino the other night. It was a good story and worth seeing -- at least once. I could re-write it more realistically and it would end much sooner. That's what I think! KW

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guest Blog: Hallie the Dog-Sitter

Due to Mom’s current technical issues I’ve decided to entertain the blog audience with a correspondence I had with Mom during a long weekend of dog sitting for a co-worker. I’ve eliminated the responses since they’re not really relevant to the story. I hope you enjoy the progression…

E-mail # 1
I came over to Robert's house last night for dog sitting and in the first hour I 1) cleaned up a poop pile, 2) stepped in a poop pile, and 3) cleaned up watery vomit. Then I went out and met up with Nick and friends for a couple hours. When I got back the doggies were excited to see me but not interested in peeing in the back yard. So, add to the list that I cleaned up pee. Luckily, Robert has all wood floors! I'm going to walk these doggies (a full 8 blocks) and then go home, shower, and grab breakfast. The dogs can be left alone for a whopping hours. I don't know why anyone would sign up for such a sentence!

Anyhoo, I've got to walk these dogs. I'm about to die of hunger.

Talk to you later!

E-mail #2
ha ha! That's funny. I was typing quickly since I was so hungry. The dogs can only be left alone for 3 hours. Quite restricting, really. They are only 3 and 6 months old, so they are both prone to inside accidents. Thank goodness for wood floors!

E-mail #3
Did I tell you that these dogs sleep in the bed? The first two nights I left the bigger one in the living room and took the puppy to bed. The puppy snores a little, but not too bad. This last night I felt bad for the bigger one so I brought her up, too. Goodness she snors like you wouldn't believe AND she likes to rest her head right on mine! I got up at 5:30 so I could walk them and get ready for work. I'm VERY tired and I have that burning sensation in my nose that often indicates an impending cold. I will be sure to get some sleep tonight.

E-mail #4
Last night I was subject to my father's luck (a Mickey Warnock experience at it's height). I got a migraine at 3 o'clock, took medicine, and had a co-worker drive me to where I was dog sitting. I rested for a time, but as I started feeling sick, I decided to take another dose of the headache drug. Not but 5 seconds after I swallowed the pill, I had an uncontrollable urge to vomit. I covered my mouth and stood up, causing my vomit to spew out in all directions (and all over my sleeve). As I ran out of the room, I glanced at the floor and noted that my gel capsule had flown out. When I got back, the puppy was very happily cleaning up the mess and had already consumed my pill. A very upset Hallie called the emergency vet, but they were unfamiliar with my migraine medicine and referred me to animal poison control. When I called animal poison control, it was an automated recording with choices that stated that the call would be $50 and to have my credit card ready. Geez! HE-LLOO, EMERGENCY! To complicate matters, the puppy has a respiratory cold and was taking an antibiotic and cough syrup. I was very worried!

As it turns out, they said that she would be fine, and would either become very sedate or would have the opposite effect and become agitated. If she became agitated she was to go to the vet immediately. But alas, I had no car because I got sick and couldn't drive! Well, she did become very sedate and was a good and very sleepy puppy all night. Jane didn't get home until almost midnight and I was exhausted! I called Nick on their house phone while I was on hold with animal poison control and he came over and waited with me. I was throwing up almost every hour while trying to keep a watchful eye on the dog. I called Robert (Jane's husband and my co-worker) as soon as I got off the phone with APC, and he was appreciative of my action and I think he felt pretty sorry for me, too.

Meanwhile, they utilize Tivo to the max so we were stuck watching VH1 tributes to heavy metal rock and roll bands or something lame like that. It was one of the worst nights of my life, but I am so thankful that I have Niko to come to my rescue.

I hereby resign my position as dog-sitter.

Monday, January 12, 2009

CALL TO HP SUPPORT

At 8:55 a.m. I placed a call to HP Support to request warranty service on my HP Pavilion dv9000. This should have been a 5-minute conversation with someone I could understand. The call was completed at 9:30.

I mean, here I am – Ms. Consumer, having spent good dollars on this item for which I had waited for years – having an obsessive but gratifying relationship with said item – now discovering, after having spent hours in frustration setting it up (remember “the laptop from hell”), that it was probably a lemon from the beginning. I’m upset to begin with – and then I’m made to identify myself and my product with names and numbers at every level of the call.

There were three levels. It began with the automated super-cordial female voice asking certain questions so that she could properly direct my call. At least I could understand her. “Technical support,” I called into the phone, which resulted – after a brief wait – in the opportunity to speak with a live individual whose native language was obviously Spanish. She understood me just fine, but I had difficulties with her Spanish accent. No matter – we muddled through. A lot of the call was holding in silence anyway. She gave me a service number and told me she would transfer my call to the Pavilion Department. “Do not hang up from this call,” she tells me pointedly. “Oh-oh!” I think.

On to the next layer – and again I prayed that I could understand. Maybe I would get an American-speaking male. But no – another female whose American was even more clipped and accented than the previous “assistant.” Again, I had to provide all my personal info as well as the number provided to me in the previous conversation. She asked me to switch to another phone because she was “getting a lot of static on the line.” (I can barely understand her and she asks me to switch to another phone!) "What's wrong with your laptop?" she asked, and I was glad to be able to say the laptop had been diagnosed by a Staples tech who advised me my only recourse was to call HP Support. It probably saved at least 15 frustrating minutes of phone time. In the end I was provided with yet another number, instructions for returning the laptop to HP for service, website address for tracking the order, etc.

“When I finish with this call,” I announced to Mike, “I will be through for the day.” Just to reassure myself that I really can use the phone, I called my hairdresser for an appointment. It was good to talk to her. KW

Sunday, January 11, 2009

WORKDAY



So – after we left Staples on Friday, Mike and I drove on to the homestead. We had called Pete, our neighbor, and he agreed to plow out Dobson Road and our lane so that we could get in to the house. We were able to make it in and so did the Sears repair tech, who thinks he fixed the tv set. We’ll know for sure come May when we start keeping house again.

We laughed when we saw that the outhouse is now upside down. I haven’t used the place since the day I found the rattlers in there. This isn’t the first time it has tipped over, but it is the first time it landed on its roof. Checking our mousetraps, we found only two victims. I suppose there’s still 18 inches of snow there, though standing water at the clothesline indicates the ongoing thaw.

I have learned to start with the important stuff first, so I went to the vintage sewing room before I did anything else. I picked up a few more projects and odds and ends of this and that.

Then I set to work in earnest. As I undecorated the tree, I was so grateful that I streamlined my ornaments and my storage system. You know, I miss having a big “real” tree and putting up all my ornaments, but when it comes to putting them away, I’m glad I can do it quickly. And besides, the collection continues to grow in spite of me. I was reminded of family and friends as I worked.

Then I cleaned out the refrigerator so that we could turn it off. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? One short sentence. But of course, even though it was basically bare, dressings and sauces, jams and jellies, ketchup and mustard -- it all adds up. We left nothing in the fridge or the freezer and turned it off. I also gathered open products from the pantry so that we can use it up during town time.

Mike hitched the 4-wheeler to the Dakota and we left before 3:00. Arriving back at the Clarkston house, I combined containers of like products so that I could fit the food into the refrigerator and freezer.

It felt like a day of real work.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

BLESSINGS

I’m counting my blessings today – the way we should when we’re upset about something. Sometimes you just have to say: “For health, for food, for love and friends, for everything Thy Goodness sends, Father in Heaven we thank Thee” . . . because, of course, these are the important things in life. I have many blessings and I know it.

I’m telling you this because my laptop died Thursday night and I have been devastated. I knew it was coming. I noticed its tendency to be temperamental on October 23. Yes, I know the exact day because it was the day Spencer Hagen got married. Hallie tried to help at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas. She advised me there was indeed something wrong with it. ”How can I go through all that set-up stuff again?” I asked, hardly keeping the frustration out of my voice. “Oh, they won’t give you a new one,” said my savvy daughter. “They’ll fix this one – and be prepared for it to take a long time.” So, I said I would deal with it after Christmas. Meanwhile I added more photos, more family history documents, an iPod, iTunes and music and personal spoken recordings, etc., etc. . . . The potential loss of some or all of that – which, yes, I should have backed up – is not as devastating to me as the loss of the laptop itself. In just a few month’s time it had become the center of my life. Maybe God is telling me something. . . (It was useful, even with the “God” stuff.)

So, yesterday (Friday) morning Mike and I took the laptop to Staples where the tech performed diagnostics and ascertained that the laptop is indeed dead. Only one option is available, he said, and that is to call HP and they will send me a box so that I can ship it to them for repair. No one locally can help, he said. No one can touch it. It must go back to HP.

“That was quick and painful,” said Mike as we exited the store. I guess I should add “still under warranty” to my list of things for which I am grateful. And I can also add that at least we have this big old desk model from which I can carry on, if I promise to turn off the “cap lock” key and return the printer to “photo” from “scan.” KW

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A CHUKAR TALE

I recently read that Idaho Fish and Game will close the partridge season, including chukars, as of Saturday, January 10, because of low populations and stress conditions for the birds. Normally the season would have extended to the end of the month, I believe. This reminded me of an experience our friend Cris, my supervisor at the Industrial Commission, shared with us last summer. At that time she had just moved to a Clarkston Heights neighborhood on the other side of the golf course from our house. We have game birds in this area, including chukars.

One day Cris' dogs (Bubbies and Muffy) walked through some thick pampas grass disturbing two chukars that ran out squawking. Cris said this experience made her aware of the chukars in our area and she then began to enjoy watching them with their "chicken-like sounds and behaviors. Some days later, she cut back the pampas grass and discovered a chukar nest containing 16 eggs in the center of the plant. She stopped cutting immediately, hoping the mama chukar was still taking active care of the nest. She could see into the nest from her kitchen window, so she watched it for about two weeks but saw no activity. Her friend who works at Juvenile Corrections told the science teacher there about the nest, and he suggested she bring it to his classroom. After some additional lapse of time, the friend delivered the nest to the science teacher. Because it was a Friday, the teacher put the eggs into the refrigerator to hold them over the weekend. Unfortunately someone "adjusted" the refrigerator temperature that day so that on Monday it was noted that the food had frozen a bit – a little cold for the eggs as well. At that time the teacher cracked open an egg and determined it was fertilized, so he put the remaining eggs in an incubator and also involved the students in this experiment.

Cris put the whole thing out of her mind, thinking these eggs would not develop further. She has a soft heart toward all animals; I'm sure she was disappointed. But -- A few weeks later another egg was cracked open to reveal a moving chick. Though it was too early for the chick to survive, at least they knew the incubation would not be fruitless. Within a couple of weeks, the 14 remaining eggs all hatched – after all the adversity they had endured. Cris called them "cute little tiger-striped chicks" and compared them to chicken chicks except for the color. One chick died but the rest were all close to developing regular feathers at the time she wrote. I'm sharing here a few of the pictures she provided.

Cris recently updated her story for me: "We got to release four at the house here and the rest were released around juvenile corrections. I released them under the pampas grass and left chick feed and water. I think a cat got one, another was a bit skittish, but the other two would often be up by the front door and around the house. It wasn't long before they were wandering farther away and I lost track of them. I did see younger birds later and now adult birds and I wonder if any are the ones we released. When there was snow on the ground, I counted 14 chukar that would be under the camper pecking at the gravel. The dogs could see them from the back door. They would run out inside the gated area and cause quite a commotion with all the birds flying away clucking. I really enjoy watching them."

Mike said he has heard that the chukar population can come back quickly from low numbers because of their huge hatches. KW

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HELPIN' SAVE WITH HOOVER

Media discussion of how to cope with the current recession put me in mind of this poem I found amongst my mother's memorabilia:

HELPIN' SAVE WITH HOOVER
by Ruth Collins Dixon

Maw's joined the Conservation league,
She's got the big idear
That she's to wallop Kaiser Bill
By cannin' things this year.
The way she screws the lid down grim,
You know she thinks she's cannin' him,
By helpin' save with Hoover.

Us kids is scared our hair'll curl,
We eaat so blamed much crust,
An' Fred's so fat from cleanin' plate
In two more months he'll bust,
Why, paw has learned to sit and scrape
Till t'other night he dug a grape
Off Maw's hand-painted salad plate,
A-helpin' save with Hoover.

Maw routed out her dahlia bed,
An's got a garden growin',
The hucksters drove on some of it
An' saved me that much hoein'.
Dad says the onions tasted queer,
An' Fred he grinned from ear to ear,
"Creamed dahlia bulbs is swell this year,"
We're helpin' save with Hoover.

But, gosh, I'd eat a pickled toad
To help out Uncle Sam;
Besides, he only wants the bread
An' leaves us kids the jam.
We'll save 'em all the sirloin steaks,
They kin have my pie and choklit cakes.
Maw says it's savin' stomach aches
A-helpin' save with Hoover.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MAKING A START


Today I treated myself to a shopping spree at Jo-Ann Fabrics and bought this fabric, "Floral Vine Embroidered Coffee Corduroy," to make my retro no-closure jacket. I hope I like the finished product. At any rate, I had a good time. I also purchased Christmas fabrics, some remnants for doll clothes and teddy bears, and some notions. And -- I remembered to take a fabric tote bag for my purchases. "You go girl!" said the associate. And -- I also cleaned all the plastic sacks out of my pantry and took them to Albertson's for recycling.

I do have to be careful about starting too many projects. In the first place, there's just so much I want to do. And then, I think it's a human failing -- wanting to start but never pushing to the finish. Maybe we just lose interest. Perhaps the project isn't as much fun as we had anticipated. Maybe we reach a "stumblingblock" -- a phase of the work that truly seems difficult or involves some sort of "real" work. Maybe it just isn't turning out as well as we had hoped or we fear failure. For whatever reason, some unfinished work falls into the life of the handicrafter. And sometimes making the start seems overwhelming. For instance, that doll dress I promised Mother I would make. That project says "heirloom" sewing, and my tendency is to put that off until I develop more skill. When do you think that will happen? KW

Saturday, January 3, 2009

CELEBRATING ACCOMPLISHMENT

Yesterday (Friday, Jan. 2, 2009), "Honorary Aunt" Chris of Moscow finished a quilt and sent me the photo on the left. I think congratulations are in order. Chris says the reds, tans, and creams provide a warmer look for the room, appropriate for winter. She's "on a roll" now and moving on to finish another quilt -- a Christmas quilt, I believe -- so that she will feel better about starting some new projects. I so admire her discipline in these matters.

Inspired by Chris' example, I decided to organize some things I've started, need to finish, or want to start. I use the bed in "Hallie's" room to keep me focused. The bear I made the day before Christmas and just needs a few finishing touches. The scarf of scrap yarn will soon be finished. The afghan, made of 143 medallions (or something like that), will keep me busy for a while. (One of those things I wish I hadn't started.)

Our weather today is cold (27) but dry. Mike spent the morning in Lewiston while new tires were installed on the Dakota, a process involving some maintenance to the vehicle. And then he took the Christmas lights down. KW

Friday, January 2, 2009

PASSING WINTER EVENINGS ON THE FARM

The following was written by my dad's sister, Shirley, on January 14, 1934:

"This is such a strange winter – we had a skiff of snow Friday night, but today it is all gone and the ground quite soft though I believe not all the frost has gone out of it. It rained a bit yesterday up here and quite a little in town. People are surely sick of it, but it does help those who are too poor to have much heat, when it stays so warm. Seems colder tonight and is somewhat cloudy so it may snow.

"New Year's Eve the Harold Powells asked Henry, Myrtle [an older sister visiting for the holidays], and myself over for the evening and we had a most enjoyable time listening to their good radio and playing "Anagrams." They really are delightful people. We didn't come home till after 2 a.m. so we were somewhat sleepy at Aunt's the next day. She had the usual big dinner which everyone thoroughly enjoyed . . .

"Last Tuesday night we had a few people in for the evening: the Harold Powells, Jay Cordell and the teacher, Laura Bowdish, and Ed and Henry. Myrtle was very anxious to have "Pit" so we got a "Pit" deck and played that and "Anagrams." Had lunch about midnight and we might have tried some square dances, for we can get good music over the radio, but it was too late. We had a nice time and I think the folks did tho we did nothing so exciting."

Mike and I had hoped we could get into the farm today, but we called our neighbor who confirmed it was snowing and blowing and best not to try. It's hard for us Valley-ites to realize it's another world just a few miles away.