Friday, January 29, 2010


[This is the continuation of a series of posts which began January 15, titled "Daddy and the Big War." This winter family history project is based on letters written by my dad, Vance, to his parents on the farm in Idaho, while he was in boot camp. Vance, 38 years old, is now stationed at Camp White, 13 miles north of Medford, Oregon. In this letter, written December 12, 1942, he mentions the Montgomery family. Aunt Mabel Montgomery is his mother Ina's youngest sister. Mabel's adult children are Grant (married to Ruth), Fay, and Mavis. Grant is now also stationed at Camp White, and Aunt Mabel, Fay, and Ruth, live in Jacksonville, not far from Medford. Having family nearby will hopefully afford Vance the opportunity for diversion and comfortable leaves. Continuing now with the letter of December 12:]

I got your letter yesterday and was most glad to hear from home. The postmark was the 9th and I got it the 11th which was very good. I have not received the package but it will probably be here tomorrow. Packages seem to be slow.

Now for my tale of woe – We have been on [a dead run] for 8 days. I have not had time to write a card before "lights out" at 9 p.m. They have been throwing classes at us twelve hours a day to get us caught up with our permanent companies and we are to be assigned next Monday, so perhaps the pressure will relax. I can really find it in my heart to be sorry for the officers for they are taking a beating along with us. Day before yesterday we hiked 8 miles under field pack and rifle, got back at 5 p.m., pitched shelter tents, ate out in the field and slept out on the very wet ground. We picked up an extra blanket and quilt when we got in from the hike so had plenty of bedding. We put our rain coats on the ground and made our beds on them. Fortunately there was no rain that night and we kept pretty warm so our colds weren't much worse. There is hardly a man who hasn't a cold, myself included. But don't worry – I feel convinced mine is on the mend but many men have been hospitalized.

You may know by now that Grant [his cousin] is here at Camp White. He's in the 362nd Inf., so isn't so very far away but I've had no time to look for him. I beat you to the draw. I wrote Fay and Aunt Mabel right away and had a "so thrilled" letter from Fay with all plans outlined for Xmas. She said there was no bus to Jacksonville but they have a car and gas and will be only too glad to drive into Medford for me. I think I will not try to get off until Xmas for we are supposed to get 3 days a month and I'd like to have mine in a bunch and have a chance to let down a little. As you see there is no chance to come home.

I have been too busy to be really homesick but it really is tough on a lot of the married men and most of the men in my outfit are married. There are lots of funny characters in the bunch that I could write reams about but I haven't time for I want to get this mailed tonight.

It is the first evening we have had all week and we are scheduled for classes all day tomorrow, Sunday. We hear we are to be introduced to the rifle range tomorrow. We have had hours and hours on guns – tearing them down and putting them together again. However, I have been assigned to communication squad and am slated for a switchboard operator. [So much for being a cook or a baker. One wonders why they even ask.] I believe we are to start going to school Monday. I may have to learn the Morse Code also. But more of this when I know more about it.

I hope Al will be able to get home but I can shed no light on this permit to travel business. By the way, you'd better order a battery [for the radio?] from Sears immediately for I think it is your only chance. This friend of mine in Frisco works in a radio shop and she says batteries are a thing of the past – so lose no time.

I will not have time or opportunity to shop for Christmas and I am going to miss it, too. I am enclosing ten dollars and use it as you see fit. You may want some fixins for Xmas dinner or you can try to buy batteries. I must stop for I have some work to do on my bed before I can go to sleep in it. Love, Vance

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


POSTCARD -- Dec. 3 [1942]

Dear Folks,

Arrived in Medford last night. Will be stationed here at Camp White for basic training. Had a tiresome trip up from Monterey and have spent the day trying to get settled. Finally got the bunch distributed among the different companies. We are members of the famous 91st Division and I am attached to Headquarters Co. 1st Battalion. It is damp and cold down here and we all feel it, but I think we will be issued winter underwear soon. I dug my overcoat out this afternoon. It is a relief to know we are permanently settled for 2 or 3 months anyhow. The camp is about 10 miles out of Medford and I figure it must be pretty close to Jacksonville. [There are relatives in Jacksonville.] On second thought I believe one turns off the Jacksonville Road in Medford, but anyway I am not more than 20 miles from there so shall try to get out there when I get a week-end leave. Get on to those pens. I need letters. My address in corner of card. Love, Vance

P.S. Mail me 4 coat hangers.

[I was amused that Daddy would ask Grandma Ina to mail him "4 coat hangers." Couldn't the camp administration just send out an S.O.S. to the good citizens of Medford for the donation of coat hangers? Then I remembered how my roommate and I fought over available coat hangers when trying to get settled in Boston. They were difficult to come by. And when we "downsized," Mike (working mostly unsupervised) bundled up what he thought was a superabundance of coat hangers and got rid of them. I've worked with a shortage ever since. I buy hangers and get rid of clothes, and still I don't have enough hangers.]


The weather is getting colder and the army seems to be out of clothes so please locate the sweatshirt I brought home and send it along. Today is really the nuts. It has been getting colder all forenoon. We haven't had to be out in it a great deal but our time is coming. We had our second typhoid shot yesterday and a few of the fellows don't feel so good. I am getting by pretty well aside from my arm being kind of sore.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


[More from Vance's letter of Nov. 27-29, written from the Army Presidio at Monterey:]

Yesterday we had our interviews and took our aptitude tests. Suffice it to say that the tests were not too tough and I was told at my interview that I passed with a much, much better grade than average but the chap did not tell me what, nor did anyone find out their grades. The young fellow who interviewed me took plenty of time. He informed me that he had really spent too much time on me but that it was such a relief to find someone he could talk to. [Vance then explains in the vernacular of the day that many in the group are Blacks and Hispanics. Some can barely speak English. These guys were not the "first draft picks."]

[The interviewer] "suggested," as he put it, that my welding is no good to me in the army for I was not at it long enough to be considered a master welder. He told me he had interviewed more than 100 welders in the last few days. After our visit in which we covered music as well, he felt I should put in for cooks and bakers school and second choice the quartermasters corps. They were my choice also so that is the way I put it. Now I will have to wait and see. As I said, we do not expect to be here much longer so do not attempt to write me until I move on.

We had a typhoid shot and vaccination the first afternoon so we've been sleeping a little uncomfortable on the left side but the soreness is going out now. They tell me the second shot is the worst for feeling bad. On this first deal only one chap in our group got a little sick which is something of a record.

I think that is all. We came in from "retreat" – the sundown ceremony, a half hour ago and were given freedom until 11 tonight. . .

Your loving soldier son, brother and nephew, Vance

Send around. I won't write all this again.

P.S. Thought a lot of you Thanksgiving and hope you had a fine time.

Friday, January 22, 2010


[The long letter dated Nov. 27-29, 1942, written from the Army Presidio at Monterey, California, continues:]

This is my third day in the army and yesterday besides having a turkey dinner with all the pie, cake, turkey, fruit, etc., we were issued our uniforms, clothing, and barrack bags. It has been all right so far and I expect before many days we will be sent to our permanent camps for basic training. We have not had much drill yet. Everything we start to do en masse takes a long time. We marched to the barber shop three times today and have not yet been able to get a haircut.

This morning about 7:15 we went to a lecture on insurance and dependents allotments so I have got the wheels turning but that cannot be finished until I reach my camp. Yesterday they got us up at 4:30, it being our first morning in camp – some sort of gag to impress the rookies, I took it. We got our chores done and sat around almost an hour before we were marched to breakfast. This morning we got up at five and I surmise it will be 5:30 tomorrow.

Last night we went to a hall and heard the articles of war read – necessary but dull – and saw three educational shorts on army life and the evils of SEX – dull also but necessary. It added up that we were pretty much on the go from 4:30 to 9 at night. Even so we all seemed to have trouble getting to sleep. We are quartered in a comfortable barracks here at the Monterey Presidio and feel very lucky for a lot of the inductees are shunted up on the hill about a mile away in tents and they say not too good. Today has been misty and rainy so it has been rain coats every time we go out which has been mostly to the barber shop, then right back to barracks. It is pretty country down here and from what I have seen not at all densely populated. We are not allowed off the post and have had only the first night off to go to the PX (post exchange). We are to be given leave again tonight and I bet you I buy some soap. After lunch today the corporal had us sort out our civilian clothes and go thru our issued clothes to check misfits and slip-ups. I got everything except a khaki field jacket with zipper which I will be issued at my next camp – they being out of my size here. The story about the two sizes, large and small, is erroneous, I am glad to report. I got a very good fit in my uniform and shirts. You may be interested in what is issued so I'll list it:

  • 2 pairs of regulation army shoes (I wear a #9C now)
  • 3 pairs light cashmere wool socks
  • 3 pairs of mercerized tan socks
  • 3 handkerchiefs (we can also keep our own of which I brought about one dozen)
  • 3 pairs white underwear (shorts and shirts)
  • 2 suits of fatigue clothes which are of a green cotton gabardine and consist of pants and matching buttoned blouses
  • 2 sun tan suits which are made of that good quality cotton drill with shirts of same cloth, one with sport collar and one for tie. These "sun tans" as they are called, are the official warm weather uniform.
  • Then, of course, we got our wool uniforms, the official O.D.s, which consists of 2 pairs wool pants and one coat or "blouse," as they call it [see photos right].
  • For head gear we were issued the regular overseas cap in both the wool and sun tan.
  • Then there was one light tie and one black tie, leggings and toilet set.

I did not buy the plain-toed oxfords. I had thought to but will at my first opportunity. I also am going to get a sizable and durable toilet kit and writing kit. Now I know you are thinking what admirable Xmas gifts those items would make, but I have such a need for them I will not wait for Santa if I get an opportunity to pick them up. I suggest you confine your purchases for me to soap and such and a good old-fashioned pork or fruit cake for they ship well.

[So, it looks like my dad saved his official "blouse" and that I still have it. It's moth-eaten because I am not taking care of it. I'm sorry, but I think that WWII memorabilia abounds, including uniforms, and that the world is not looking to the daughters of old privates to maintain collections. Does anyone know what the green tree on the left sleeve signifies?

Note that Daddy suggests "a good old-fashioned pork or fruit cake" as a Christmas gift. So, I guess Ina was still making pork cakes in the 1940s from her mother's recipe. I posted that recipe last year and even experimented with it some before concluding that it was a waste of time and money. Better recipes exist today -- and I know a number of ways to find them. KW]

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


[The story of my dad's foray into the army during World War II continues. Remember, it's 1942 and the United States has entered World War II. Vance (my dad) is 38 – right at the cut-off age for the draft. Because his job was not considered civil defense, he was drafted. For some reason he transferred from the South Bend, Oregon, draft board to the one out of Quincy, CA – probably because it was closer to Chester where he had been working. Instead of going to Quincy and traveling to Monterey with other draftees, his plan is to meet them at Monterey. He was apparently a "party animal" in those days, so when he figures out that he has a little time in his schedule, he decides to call the sister of a friend in San Francisco, and she and her husband meet him for sightseeing, cocktails and visiting. Already tired from stress, travel, and late night activities, he again gets to bed late, misses his wake-up call, misses the train to Salinas where he was to catch the bus to Monterey. Now we pick up his story at that point from his letter dated Nov. 27-29, 1942:]

. . . it was 8:30 when I woke up. You can imagine I was plenty worried for I was afraid I'd be AWOL if the Quincy gang beat me in. The next train out did not leave till 4 o'clock P.M., so I phoned United Airlines at 9:45 and found they had a plane leaving Mills Field at 11:00. I asked for a reservation and the girl asked if I had a priority. I said No! but that I was due in Monterey at noon for induction and perhaps that gave me an army priority. She laughed and said all the seats had been reserved but that I stood something of a last minute chance if I wanted to get out to the field for often passengers do not show up and that their bus left the ticket office at 10 o'clock. So I tore downstairs from the 7th floor, couldn't get the elevator, paid my bill, bawled the clerk out, and took out for the ticket office which was on the next corner. Arrived to find the bus had left five minutes before, so I grabbed a cab. Mills Field is miles out of town and the cab cost me $3.50. To make a long story short two passengers did not show up and so I got a seat to Salinas and was there before noon as it is about a hundred miles from Frisco. I got to the Presidio about one o'clock only to find Quincy had not got here. In fact I met some of the Quincy guys today and they didn't get here until 1:30 Thursday. Consequently the two of us whose boards were outside Quincy were the only two who got here at the proper time and we were inducted with about forty men from Salinas which is only twenty miles from Monterey. In all my trip to the army has been plenty expensive. ["And whose fault is that?" I ask – and I expect Ina asked, too. Still, he was honest enough to tell it. It's his trip to the army and he's telling it like it is.]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


See if you can figure this one out. Tax season is off to a slow start so I came roaring into the driveway on my motorcycle about an hour or so early today. And what did I see? Both garage doors and the man door were open, the truck was gone, Curtis Seymour’s truck was sitting in the driveway with the lights on, motor running, locked and with two yippy dogs in the cab. Nellie was gone, some groceries were in a kitchen chair as if Kathy had just sat them down, and there was something wrapped in foil on the counter that I had found outside that morning and thrown in the garbage can. (We had figured the foil package found at the back door was something Nellie had stolen from someone’s garbage.) Obviously Kathy and Seymour had left in a big hurry I thought.

The only thing I could figure was that something bad had happened to Nellie and Seymour had happened along at that time. Maybe she had been run over. Maybe she had been poisoned and that had something to do with the foil package on the counter. Kathy would not likely have taken the truck unless there was a mangled bloodied Nellie to be hauled in the back.

First I called the Vet to see if they were there. They weren’t. Next I called Seymour’s and got no answer. Then I called work thinking Kathy may have called while I was in transit. She hadn’t. Then I headed out on foot up South Slope where Kathy usually walks Nellie thinking some accident may have occurred up there – nothing. Then I returned and further investigation revealed that the passenger door of Seymour’s truck was unlocked so I braved the yipping little dogs and climbed in and turned off the lights and engine.

Well, I was just about at the end of my rope. As I was digging around in the office to see if I could locate Seymour’s cell phone number they pulled up in the truck. Here’s how the puzzle falls together: The foil package was some bones too big for his little dogs that Seymour had dropped off for Nellie earlier that morning before we were up. He had dropped back by to make sure we got them. (Well, we had of course, but didn’t know it.) At the same time Kathy had just pulled up from grocery shopping. When Seymour went to leave he discovered his truck was locked which he blamed on the dogs. He then claimed they (that's right, the dogs) had unlocked the passenger door which I had entered. Now those dogs really know how to pull a prank! Riiiight. Kathy had taken Seymour home to get another set of keys. Seymour's truck was blocking the Magnum's garage exit so Kathy had been forced to take the truck. She hadn't taken Nellie for her walk so she just put her in the back for some kind of outing.

I can tell you it was quite a relief after all the tragic scenarios that had been running through my mind. Of course, if Kathy had known that I would have been coming home early she would have left a note. Well, it was a good laugh anyway. M/W


[The photo on this post is of my dad (right) and his nephew, Stan Sanders. My dad has just visited the folks on the farm preliminary to induction into the army, and evidently Stan is traveling with him. Stan, who is 22, was crippled as a result of osteomyelitis as a youth and works in Portland. I think they are probably leaving as this photo was taken. Note how they are dressed.

The car belongs to my dad, I think, and he stops in Raymond long enough to sell it for $500 before going on to Portland where he boards a train bound for California. The details of all this aren't clear, but it was interesting that my dad carried chickens and other food from the farm to Uncle Frank Dickson (Ina's brother) and Aunt May in the Portland area. Daddy comments that they were glad to get the food.

This letter was written "aboard the Beaver," a train bound from Portland, OR, to Oakland, on Nov. 23, 1942. His ultimate destination is the Army Presidio at Monterey.]

Dear Folks,

. . . I got my reservation for a tourist sleeper and so am reclining behind drawn curtains and writing. Just came in from having dinner and I find the menu not too expensive. Paid a dollar for roast lamb, salad, and ice cream and cake.

This is a big train. In fact we have a few Pullmans from the Cascade train tacked on behind for some reason or other. I counted 8 coaches ahead of us as we rounded a bend in Portland and I'm not sure how many behind. We were at least a half hour late leaving Portland tho the train was made up there.

Stan and I had quite a pleasant trip to Portland tho it rained a lot in spots from Walla Walla in. We got to Walla Walla about 6:30, took baths and shaved and went out for food. Happened into the Copper Kettle and walked into a couple of acquaintances from Raymond, the Evanses. He is a carpenter and works for the same contractors Al is with. They asked us to meet them in the Shangri-La room of the Marcus Whitman after dinner and while we were eating they called up their niece to come down and join us. I had met Geraldine before in Raymond so we quaffed a couple sodas [Scotch and sodas?], and Geraldine regaled us with stories of her dates with servicemen and we laughed a great deal. . . Well, 'twas fun and we got to bed at midnight. I am really quite weary tonight and hope to get some sleep. Of course we are blacked out so there is no incentive to watch the windows. . . .

[Added the next morning:] I have just discovered that my ticket is to Frisco only, so I may stay over and go on to Monterey tomorrow morning. ["Oh-oh," says my mother's intuition.] I am sure I will still beat the Quincy crowd or be so close behind them it won't matter. Will end this now.

Love to all, Vance

Monday, January 18, 2010

“The war is coming home to all of us . . . “

[The following letter was written by Vance, my dad, on Nov. 4, 1942. I don't have Ina's correspondence but I can tell that she continues to be upset. As I read my dad's letters, I inferred that agriculture was considered civil defense, and my grandparents, Ina and Julian, believed that if Vance had come home to the farm and taken it over, he might have avoided the draft. Their need for help at this time is rather urgent. Ina is 72 and Julian 79. The last ten years of farming with horses has been difficult for Julian. It's a real problem: they are struggling to subsist but the farm means so much to them that they just can't give it up. Besides, where would they go? What would they do? I think they see Vance stubbornly resisting his duty to help them, and I believe they suggest that if only he would agree to take over the farm, he might yet avoid the draft. Vance replies that it's too late to apply for a deferment. He did make it home for a brief visit before reporting for induction, though, and the photos here were taken at the farm during his visit -- November 1942.]

I appreciate all your kind thoughts and I know you are all with me whatever befalls. Of course I don't look forward to the army but on the other hand we must win this war. I doubt that I will be sent overseas but one never knows. The bad part is this: as you may have read by the papers the time granted inductees has been cut to one week instead of two. I applied for two weeks and was granted it at the time of my preliminary but I imagine this new order has wiped it out. If such is the case it will be impossible for me to get home for it will take two days to reach Portland alone and I must go on to Raymond and I must sell the car so you can see where I get off. I am sick about it but that is all there is to it. The war is really coming home to all of us, isn't it? I am really not greatly perturbed now that I have got used to the idea and I am living from day to day and letting the morrow look after itself.

As far as asking for deferment goes it is too late and anyhow I do not think it would be granted. I am on record as a welder and boilermaker and that may possibly make for a deferment but I haven't much hope of it. The thing which makes me most ill is that I have such a fine job and literally years of it ahead if I could only keep at it. [I'm not sure what the job was.]

I didn't ask Harry Llewellyn to ask for deferment for he is rather taciturn and he found out in the shipyards it did no good. He told me long ago of his experience in that line so I felt there was no need to say anything. I think you will get your allowance for dependents and if not I rather expect to get some sort of rating which will up my army pay to the point I can do for you financially. I have heard of several cases where it happened when one had some sort of specialized trade. Thanks anyhow from my heart for your cares and prayers and we will all look forward to better days.

Lovingly, your son, Vance

[Top photo, right to left: Ina's sister, Ida, and Ida's daughter, Edna, who were visiting from Drain, OR, at the time; Vance and his mother, Ina; Vance's sister, Pearl Sanders; and his father, Julian (Jack). The second photo is Jack, Ina, and Vance before the old cabin where my dad was born. My guess is this poignant photo would never have been taken were it not that Vance had been drafted.]

Sunday, January 17, 2010


[The letter of Sept. 17 continues. Vance is writing to the family on the farm at Gilbert, Idaho, from Chester, California, where he has been working. Note his attitude toward serving in the army. He also has no information about the next steps. I think he would have taken the uncertainty in stride but can't answer the questions from home.]

I was talking to our machinist out at the plant a few days ago and he has had his preliminary [physical exam] over six weeks ago and has not yet been called for his final examination. That is why I think I may have several weeks ahead of me. I am not planning much on a deferment and so far as I know I am in good health. But they say they give you the works. If one does pass, this chap tells me, you are given ten days to settle personal affairs. In that case I will do my best to get home before selling the car which I intend to do. I am sorry you got the impression that I was called immediately and that was why I stalled about writing. You will never know, however, what a relief and comfort your letters were to me. When it comes down to it, I do not mind going and there is no sense in crossing the stream until the bridge is built. It is hard to say at my age whether or not I will see foreign service. I rather hope so as long as I get in. I have thought pro and con of enlisting but have decided not to. I'd rather take my chances as a private. Then if I am worth promotion I will know it.

. . . The job has been highly entertaining but aside from welding and using an acetylene torch for burning, which I have learned since being down here, I'm afraid I'm not much of a boilermaker. The climate is wonderful and I feel fine. I'm brown as an Indian and have long since lost my waistline.

Did I tell you that the wild geese nest in this country and are to be seen any day feeding in the open pastures? To me that is remarkable. The coyotes howl by night and the hunters are here in gobs infesting the woods by day but are having poor luck due to the good weather. The deer are staying high up because of the heat and dryness. I wish all of you could have come down here for a visit.

In case I go I shall apply for support for dependents [to benefit his parents at the homeplace]. I think it is allowed and it should be . . .

Friday, January 15, 2010


[This year my winter history project is based on letters written by my dad, Vance Dobson, to his folks back home on the farm in rural Idaho while he was stationed in the army at Camp White near Medford, Oregon, in 1942-43. That's right – my dad was drafted during World War II.

Of course, a lot of dads were drafted or enlisted to serve our country during World War II. Some of them were soldiers before they were dads. The thing is, my dad was at the point of being too old to qualify. Born April 29, 1904, he was 37 years old as the United States entered the war late in 1941, which was right at the cut-off age for the draft (38). Now, I'm not an expert on the rules of the World War II draft, but I understand that eligible men had to be involved in civil defense or risk being drafted. So, my dad left his vocation as a private music teacher and musician in Raymond, WA, and went to work in the Kaiser shipyards in Portland, OR, where he was trained as a boilermaker and learned to weld. This was supposedly civil defense work, but before many months had passed, his good friend and supervisor, Harry Llewellyn, left the shipyards for some sort of contract work, apparently a lucrative opportunity, and took my dad with him. As the story opens, my dad is working with Harry in Chester, California. He liked the work and was making good money, but that employment fell short of being considered civil defense and in September 1942, my dad received his draft notice.

During this period, Daddy wrote home frequently. His mother, Ina, saved all of these letters, and eventually they found their way to me. I have been fascinated with the reading and hope you will enjoy the selections I post over the next few weeks. An old guy just doesn't have the same take on army life and authority as a young guy, and my dad was well able to express his thoughts and opinions. He was a thinker -- intelligent, well-read, observant, and appreciative of nature. He was also very social and "had the gift of gab." He relates his experiences, including his own foibles, candidly.]

On Sept. 10, 1942, Vance wrote to the folks at home:

Now . . . I must proceed to more serious news which I hate to impart. It seems I am slated for the army and I hope we can all take it standing. Whether this change of job had anything to do with it I can't say, but whether it had or hadn't we do what we must do. I have been ordered to appear for my preliminary physical on Sept. 14th – Monday – at Greenville, Calif., which is fairly close by. The board in South Bend [Oregon] notified me last week and today I received the official date. There will be another physical after this and I do not know how long between.

As you know, there has been a lot of reclassifying done and I know many men were being taken from the shipyards when I left Portland for I talked to several of them.

[Vance delayed mailing the letter, though, and on Sept. 17, one week later, he adds to it. Meanwhile, he receives a letter from Ina relating that she has heard the troublesome news from another member of the family instead of from Vance himself, and he is on the defensive.]

I suppose I should have written at once but thought I'd wait first for my preliminary which I took last Monday. The preliminary exam is merely for obvious physical defects such as stiff joints, rupture, and blood test. I went to Greenville, 26 miles away . . .

It may be six weeks before I am called for my real examination and it may be I will have to go to Frisco or Marysville or Sacramento for it. I won't know anything more until I am notified. The examining doctor at Greenville told me I'd probably hear from my board (South Bend, OR) in about ten days, so you know as much as I do, I'm sorry to say. Little did I think you would hear the news by such devious means but I should know the family grapevine better. . .

[These photos were taken at my dad's home in Raymond, WA, at Christmas 1937, five years before he was drafted into the army. The last photo shows his sister Myrtle (called Lynn in that era). KW]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


You may recall that about a month ago I had difficulties as I checked out at Albertsons grocery store. (See post December 16.) I was checked at the self-check station and ran my credit card. However, the machine failed at that point and did not provide a receipt. After checking, staff determined that my charge did not go through and the whole order had to be re-run. One charge was $89.89 and the other $89.90.

Upon arriving home I told Mike about it. Now Mike tracks all or our expenditures meticulously. Sometimes I want to hit him, but the fact is, you are wise to track your expenses. I provided the charge to him and asked that he watch that we were not double-charged. (In reality there's never a need to remind Mike to watch for something that doesn't look right.)

After I posted a blog on the experience, Chris commented that I had been amazingly patient and that I should write to the corporate office. I thought about it and decided to write to the store manager. I prepared the letter and then put it on hold. I decided if I was not double charged, I wouldn't submit the complaint.

"We got double charged on that order," called Mike as he reconciled our credit card statement on December 28.

So, I finished up the letter, requesting refund of $89.90. I attached pertinent correspondence, including copies of my blog posts which explained the incidents in question. The letter went out on December 29. I really hoped for an immediate call from the store manager, but that didn't happen. In fact, I received no communication from Albertsons. Today we checked our credit card account and the credit wasn't there.

So, I called Albertsons and talked with the manager. I was polite, simply asking about my credit. He said he had submitted it to corporate and that he would check on it. He called back immediately to say it would expedite the refund if I would come into the store with my credit card. I said I would do so today. He was sorry for the delay.

The customer service rep was very gracious when I presented myself for the refund. She had my original communication and the matter was handled quickly. She apologized that corporate had delayed the matter and apologized that I had had to come to the store. But no one said they were sorry I was inconvenienced and double charged in the first place.

"I thought you said you had some things to pick up," said Mike as he followed me from the store.

"Well, we aren't getting them here," I replied. KW


[This foreword to the recipe pamphlet, Your Share, is attributed to the fictional "Betty Crocker" of the General Mills Home Service Staff. It speaks volumes about the attitude toward women, motherhood, and homemaking in 1943.]

Hail to the women of America! You have taken up your heritage from the brave women of the past. Just as did the women of other wars, you have taken your positions as soldiers on the Home Front. You have been strengthening your country's defenses – as plane watchers – as flyers – as members of the armed forces – as producers, in war plants and homes – and in Red Cross and Civilian Defense activities. The efforts and accomplishments of women today are boundless!

But whatever else you do – you are, first and foremost, homemakers – women with the welfare of your families deepest in your hearts. Now you face a new and more difficult problem in the management of your homes. You must make a little do where there was an abundance before. In spite of sectional problems and shortages, you must prepare satisfying meals out of your share of what there is. You must heed the government request to increase the use of available foods, and save those that are scarce – and, at the same time, safeguard your family's nutrition. Never has there been such an opportunity, and a need, for what American women can contribute.

So, to you women behind the men, behind the guns, we offer this little book, with its daily helps for wartime meal-planning and cooking. And we salute you all!

[Well, it just couldn't be written that way today. I love to think about that retro world where women worked in the home. "A woman's place is in the home," was an attitude that had its pros and cons. We won't be going back to that. But – when women were at home, the world was a different place, and some of it was very good. And some women loved it. KW]

Monday, January 11, 2010


The food list from the Victory Meat Extenders pamphlet as posted previously is really an oversimplification, and before we move on, I want to show the U.S. Government Chart as published on the back of Your Share, the General Mills pamphlet. I don't know if you can read the chart as scanned, so I'll type it out.

Group I -- Leafy green and yellow vegetables: 1 serving a day – raw or cooked

Group II – Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, raw cabbage or salad greens: 1 serving a day

Group III – Potatoes, other vegetables and fruits: 2 or more servings a day

Group IV – Milk (includes milk in soup, ice cream, etc.): 1 ½ pint to 1 quart a day for children; 1 quart a day for expectant of nursing mothers; 1 pint for other members of the family

Group V – Meat, poultry, fish, eggs: 3 or 4 eggs each week and 1 serving of meat, poultry or fish a day

Group VI – Bread, flour and cereals: 3 or more servings of enriched, restored or whole wheat cereal products a day

Group VII – Butter and fortified margarines: use daily as spreads and seasoning as your supply permits

In addition be sure to provide 400 units a day of Vitamin D in the form of Vitamin D milk, fish liver oil or Vitamin D concentrate for the expectant or nursing mother and for all growing children. Use any other foods you like or use additional servings from groups I, II, II and VI according to your preference and as the availability of these foods permit.

  • Eat something from each group every day
  • In addition to the Basic 7 . . . eat any other foods you want
  • Eating right keeps you healthy

This chart, used during World War II, is obviously an old model. Research changes all things. We now have the Food Pyramid, which can be found at In fact, I taped my mini poster to the refrigerator.

What are some of the changes? Well, it looks to me like eggs have disappeared off the chart. That former staple of the American diet fell out of favor in the 1970s. Butter, margarine and spreads should be limited, as should sweets and salt.

Diet, nutrition, and exercise – It's not an easy subject. It's an education and a mindset that starts with the individual and then influences the family. It seems to me you almost can't do it unless you write down what you eat, at least initially. (You can find the forms at The question I ask myself is: Am I doing all that I can to educate myself and live within the parameters of good diet and exercise? KW

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I follow the Modern Retro Woman blog site. Since the holidays, author Julie-Ann McFann, Ph. D., has been posting a rather in-depth history of the development of the standard nutrition chart, which evolved into our recommended daily allowances, or the current "food pyramid." (See link under "other interesting sites" on the sidebar.) The focus of "Modern Retro Woman" is living like your grandmother in the modern world. I relate to it because my mother and Julie-Ann's grandmother were the same age and the vintage exploration so inspires me. Anyway, as I was reading the nutrition recommendations from World War II, I thought of a couple of pamphlets with patriotic-looking covers in my mother's cookbook collection. I'd never paid much attention to them before because, after all, I'm not required to make do, but suddenly I was interested. I found those pamphlets the other day and have enjoyed looking them over. The pamphlets are:

Betty Crocker's Your Share -- How to prepare appetizing, healthful meals with food available today (1943)

Victory Meat Extenders, compliments of the National Live Stock and Meat Board

Younger readers might not know that food was rationed during the World War II. Housewives were encouraged to conserve food and stretch meals. Citizens were also encouraged to grow gardens ("victory gardens") to supplement their own food supply and to share with their neighbors or the community. How important was this effort? Was food really in short supply? I once questioned my mother on the subject. She said she didn't know whether food was in short supply or the government just wanted people to get in the habit of conserving. I believe she said that rationing was not a problem for her; she always had enough points to get the food she needed for her family (four children). During the war, she lived part of the year in Headquarters, a remote logging village, and she said that some people would donate their extra ration points to the grocery store because some of the "old loggers" just didn't understand about rationing. With donated ration stamps, the grocer had leeway to provide food to those without stamps.

I thought I might share some of the information from these war-era pamphlets, and I'm starting with a recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers. You might recall that we discussed recipes for stuffed peppers this past year and last night I prepared them for our dinner. Instead of following a cookbook recipe, I used what I had on hand. First I parboiled the peppers for five minutes. Then, to one pound of hamburger, I added ½ cup chopped onion, 1 ½ cups leftover cooked rice, 1 ½ cups homemade stewed tomatoes, 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce (for richer tomato flavor), 1 ½ tsps. Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper to taste. I stuffed three large green peppers with that mixture and baked at 350 for 45 minutes, topping with shredded cheddar cheese during the last few minutes of baking. That made four hearty servings – and one lunch.

Now – Here's a recipe for stuffed green peppers presented in the Victory Meat Extenders pamphlet: 1/3 pound meat – serves 6 (yes – it says six)

¾ cup cooked pork; ¼ cup milk or meat stock; 2 cups cooked rice; ½ tsp. paprika; 1 tbsp. grated onion; 1 tsp. salt; 1/8 tsp. pepper; 6 medium-sized green peppers

Parboil the green peppers for five minutes; remove, and plunge in cold water. Remove the caps and seeds. Mix the remaining ingredients together. Stuff the peppers with this. Place in a pan, pour about 1 cup of hot water around the peppers, and bake at 400 for 45 minutes, or until the peppers are soft. The suggested "victory menu" accompaniments to round out this meal include baked tomatoes, cabbage sections, bread & butter, apple crisp, and a beverage.

Interesting! ¾ cup cooked meat and two cups of rice to serve six. Seems skimpy, doesn't it? Hardly enough for some of you big boys. And not very tasty either. Have I no ketchup, no tomato sauce, no Worcestershire sauce, no onion – not even a clove of garlic -- on hand to add some zip to this meal? (Ironically they suggest serving "baked tomatoes" on the side.) I think if I had only ¾ cup of meat and 2 cups of rice, I'd make something else – like fried rice with lots of vegetables. But – I suppose it's a mindset. The purpose is to get me to think outside the box instead of panicking when rations are in short supply. Also, "they" are encouraging me to conserve that dab of meat and call it a family meal instead of wasting it or giving it all to the man of the house or the teen-aged son. I note that not all recipes are so skimpy. KW

Friday, January 8, 2010


I never used to make New Year's resolutions. Why set myself up to fail? Then I read that people who make resolutions are really more progressive than those who don't. So I "turned over a new leaf," and for what it's worth, I take time at the New Year to consider what I accomplished in the year just past and to re-shape my goals.

Last year slipped by without a lot of personal accomplishment. I say "personal accomplishment" because Mike and I were very busy. I think of that wonderful trip to Mississippi and Hallie and Nick's beautiful wedding and receptions. But as a retro homemaker, I failed miserably. I started many things I didn't finish and didn't fulfill my resolutions. No need to cry. I simply start over. Each day, each month, each year can be a new beginning.

Step one in the process: Buy a 2010 engagement calendar. Mine happens to be the Marjolein Bastin Nature's Journal. Step two: Identify a spiritual goal for the year. Step three: Identify activities to be pursued during the next year. And like a child who takes way too much food on her plate, I have way more to do than I will accomplish. Still, the activity of organizing is a good exercise and always benefits me.

This year I am facing my unfinished projects. In addition to writing down those things that need to be finished in my journal, I have physically filled Hallie's bed with some of them. In fact, since I took this picture, several more have been placed there. I have resolved not to start any new handwork projects until I have finished some of these. And -- we're one week into 2010 and I have made no progress except to write my goals and organize the work. Maybe that's enough for the first week.

I'm really good at organizing the work and making plans and not so good at staying focused and getting things done. This year I resolve to use my engagement planner / journal on a daily basis for better accountability. KW

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Mike and I closed the farmhouse on Monday, December 28. Taking the tree down and storing it before New Year's Day is just wrong in my opinion, but we really had no choice. The artificial tree sits in a window with southern exposure, meaning lots of winter sun, and it does fade the ornaments. I also emptied the refrigerator. I had never thought of it before this "country living" experience, but the refrigerator quits running in a cold environment. It's best to turn it off. Even though we didn't have a lot of left-over food, there were still staples and freezer items to be packed up and assimilated into the refrigerator and freezer in town. And – I also checked the pantry cupboard and packed up cereal and crackers that might become stale over the next months as well as oils which don't freeze well. I like to think of the house as well-stocked, just in case of an emergency, but on the other hand, it's good to rotate food. So, we have plenty of food in our town larder right now. Once we were packed, Mike turned off the water and drained the pipes, flushed and winterized the commodes, turned off the refrigerator – and now we can't use the house until spring, even if we should want to. It's really a nuisance to have to winterize, but it just has to be done. (And yes, we did learn that the hard way.)

But, when we left the farm on the 28th, we had to leave the 4-wheeler behind because it wouldn't start, necessitating a return trip to pick it up. We planned the trip for today – cold but sunny. I was really glad to go. I had a laundry basket full of laundry and such to return, and I had a list of things to pick up – vintage recipe pamphlets, my copy of Laura Ingles Wilder, Farm Journalist; my copy of Eleanor Burns' Egg Money Quilts; a soft-sculpture doll in progress – and Mike had some things on the list, too (dull, uninteresting, useful stuff).

We left about 9:00 and traveled by our favorite route – Hwy 12 to Orofino, then up the Gilbert Grade. Now, the Gilbert Grade is a steep, narrow, gravel road that winds 10 miles from Orofino on the Clearwater River up the mountain to the flat region on top known as Gilbert where our farm home is located. I can think of two individuals who have had anxiety attacks on the grade. And I can think of at least one person who has refused to travel the grade. We seldom hear of accidents, but we did read of one this week. A woman descending the grade had somehow managed to go over at a point near the top. Our Gilbert neighbor and former farmer who is now chief deputy with the sheriff's office saw the tracks, investigated, and brought help in a timely manner. Apparently the woman's injuries were minor. We watched for the exact spot but really couldn't see anything.

"This will be so much easier today if the 4-wheeler will start," commented Mike as we approached the farm. Well, he got his wish. We were relieved that he was able to drive the 4-wheeler onto the trailer. I anticipated as much and didn't dally in unpacking my basket and gathering the things I wanted. The weather station said the outside temp was 26.5 while inside it was 37. We were there about half an hour.

Pulling the trailer, Mike decided to return to the valley via our alternate route which takes us to Hwy 95. Ironically, we saw the most winter of the whole trip on the Winchester Grade – broken snow floor and snowy trees. We had no problems and were home about 1:00. KW

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It's funny how things happen sometimes. I had just laid my hand on a couple of frames tucked between two boxes when Mike called to me: "Do we have more of those etchings?" We had two more, and I had my hand on them.

We had hung a collection of etchings during the holidays, all of them by artist Joseph Knowles from copper plates. Our interest piqued, we read an old newspaper article about the artist and discovered a forgotten "survivor man." The following is comprised of excerpts from that article, "He Won Fame in a Bearskin – The Life of Joe Knowles," from The Sunday Oregonian, Portland, January 3, 1943.

"Mourned as an Artist on Coast, His Death Recalled Woods Feats to the Old-Timers of Back Bay," by Peggy Lucas, Astoria Free-Lance Writer.

On October 23 one of Boston's largest newspapers, the Post, carried a big front-page illustrated story on the death in Seaview, Wash., of a man named Joe Knowles. The picture was that of a burly fellow, wearing nothing but a bear skin and a scowl. Bostonians still remembered Joe Knowles, "the nature man," who in 1913 entered the wild Maine woods barehanded and bare-bodied to stay for 61 days in proving that the brains of modern man could cope with the brawn of Mother Nature.

Knowles was wined and dined, ridiculed and defamed. His exploits touched off a whirlwind of debate in the home of the baked bean. One hundred thousand people gathered to welcome the "nature man's" return to the bosom of civilization.

On the Pacific coast, Joe Knowles' death also received front page attention, but the obituaries were written in different tone. The bulbous-nosed man with a head like a St. Bernard's and hands as light as down, was mourned as a great artist. For when death ended the saga that was Joe Knowles' life it closed the book on many vivid chapters: a sailor, newspaper illustrator, lecturer, author, motion picture producer and actor, showman, nature tamer, Boy Scout councilor and creator of fine etchings, water colors and oils.

Joe Knowles' works are in homes all over the United States and have been sent to art lovers in China, Russia, the Philippines, Germany and South America. He had been commissioned to do governors' portraits, federal art project etchings, paintings for the navy. He made hundreds of different etchings and paintings during his 15 years in Seaview. . . .

He began his artistic career as a night shift illustrator on the Boston Post and as an occasional cover designer for such magazines as Field and Stream. . . . In the slack intervals of the night shift the artist used to tell "the boys" . . . of a dream he'd had of spending a couple of months in the woods alone, depending on his two hands for food, shelter and clothing. They said it was impossible but the more they poo-poohed the idea, the more insistent he was that it could be done. . . . And he decided to prove it. . . . Arrangements were made with the Post to sponsor the trip in return for exclusive rights to the story and Joe entered the Maine woods in August, 1913, to prove the resourcefulness of his mind and body. His entrance was made about 60 miles from Canada, but to escape game wardens, he crossed the border and traveled about 150 miles into the Canadian wilds.

Shortly after the "nature man's" stories, deposited in a cache for a reporter, started in the Post, the rival Hearst paper appeared with stories and affidavits to discredit most of the statements Joe was making. Knowles' explanation was that the Hearst paper, piqued because the exclusive story had upped the Post's circulation some 30,000, bought off the Post reporter who was handling the story and bribed game wardens in the area to deny many of Joe's most important allegations.

A bearded, leaner Joe, clad in the skin of a bear he had slain with his two bare hands, came out of the woods two months later, to be greeted by cheering crowds and a host of public officials.

Infuriated with the adverse publicity given him by the Hearst organ, Joe planned to bring suit. Friends convinced him that a better way to bring all-around credence to his story was to repeat the adventure, this time under Hearst ponsorship. So he offered his plan and the Hearst San Francisco Examiner agreed heartily, if Joe would agree to make his second venture into a forest completely unfamiliar to him.

About this time Joe went for a visit with his friend, Jack London. London urged him not to accept the Rockies or the Redwoods, either of them the Examiner's choice, because there was not enough food in them. He suggested the Siskiyous.

So the experiment was undertaken in the summer of 1914 and Joe stayed in the Siskiyous 31 days. This time his activities were carefully checked by authorities hired by the Examiner and Joe was the fair-haired boy when his experiment was ended. . . .

Joe wrote a book, "One Alone in the Wilderness" [I found the title to be Alone in the Wilderness], the story of his Maine woods adventure, which sold over 30,000 copies. He produced and starred in a motion picture of the same name and in another entitled "The Nature Man."

After appearing on the Orpheum circuit on the Pacific coast, Joe took his motion pictures to Portland but people were beginning to get too jittery over the war – that was 1917 – to take much interest in a great adventure that was past. So Joe accepted an opportunity to act as a councilor for 200 Portland Boy Scouts who were to spend the summer months near Seaview. . . .

[Joe] was a hard-working artist but a speedy one. It was not unusual for him to start in on an etching plate during the night and to work straight through until dawn. His copper plates were completed, depending on their size, from one to three weeks after he had completed the original sketches. He was an unusual artist, too, in a number of ways. He disliked to exhibit his works and he charged minimum prices.

[In the early 1990s, I showed one of the etchings to an antique appraiser who told me she knew nothing of Joe Knowles or the value of his work. Several years ago I attempted to research Joe Knowles online and found little information. But online research today yields thousands of references – not all this Joe Knowles, of course. Perhaps the current "survivor man" genre has served to bring up old exploits. Mike and I decided that we should buy, read, and leave in the farmhouse a copy of Joe's book, Alone in the Wilderness. Also of interest is a new book – Naked in the Woods: Joseph Knowles and the Legacy of Frontier Fakery by Jim Montavalli, published in 2007, which comes highly recommended by reviewers as an entertaining account of Joe's "back to nature" experience. We have obtained both books and look forward to this reading. The photos I scanned from the old, badly yellowed newspaper article. I plan to have it copied as it is deteriorating badly.] KW

Monday, January 4, 2010


I consider that I had a reasonably good relationship with my dad. We talked. We laughed. I learned much from him. But there were many things he preferred not to talk about. He left mysteries for me to unravel.

It was 1988. My mother and I made a trip to the attic of the family home after my dad's passing. She wanted me to take some of the things he had stored for me – things I had mostly never seen and knew nothing about.

"What are these?" I asked, coming to some frames wrapped in old newspaper.

"Oh! Those are your dad's etchings," she said, a certain disdain in her voice.

"Etchings? What are etchings?"

"Don't you know? – That's an old line that bachelors use on dates: 'Wouldn't you like to come in and see my etchings?'"

"No, I never heard that old line," I said. I was 38 and married with children. Just when was she planning to tell me about this line? (However, just last week I heard Melvyn Douglas say it to Irene Dunne in Theodora Goes Wild.) "Well," I continued, "may I have them?"

Mother actually seemed quite pleased to have the old etchings leave her premises. They didn't appear sinister in and of themselves. I took them to my house where Mike was suitably impressed and we hung them. When we moved they were stored again, and somehow it was easy just to leave them in storage while Hallie complained that a house with blank walls is not homey. So we recently brought all eight boxes of stored "wall art" and photos – the etchings included -- to the farmhouse for consideration of possible re-hanging. The process was just as confusing for me as I had feared and I asked Hallie and Nick to help us while they were there. We spent several hours on the project. We felt good about some decisions, standing back to gaze at how well this particular "whatever" seemed to fit that spot perfectly. Other framed items weren't so easily placed and had to be laid aside for another time. I think Mike would like to see it all hung and the mess cleared away, but it just doesn't work like that for me.

Anyway, back to these etchings. We have seven of them, all numbered prints, and my dad picked them up while he lived in Raymond, WA, in the 1930s. The artist was Joe Knowles. One of etchings, "The Warning," is of a Native American on a horse and is inscribed as follows: "To my good friend, Vance Dobson, with compliments of the artist," and signed by Joe Knowles. Three are of sailboats, two are of sailing ships, and one (Mike's favorite) is of two people walking along a road – quite indistinct and what I think of as an oriental influence. These are numbered etchings, each bearing a typed sticker identifying its title and number out of so many printed from the original copper plate.

Perhaps all this background information isn't very interesting, but what is interesting to me is how the mystery of the etchings has unfolded. Through Grandma Ina's letters, I discovered that at Christmas 1933 my dad had gifted her with several of them, and she had quite a bit to say about them: "Your presents are very nice indeed and you said you wouldn't spend much on us! The etchings are lovely and will make a fine group over the mantel. Thank you, and don't do it again. These look like money to me. You mustn't make false promises, you know, about not spending much on Xmas presents. Well, these things are the aristocrats among pictures. I feel I'll have to live up to them. Myrtle is crazy over them. There is one of his, a ship, that she particularly wants. Do you think you could get a copy for her? I'll help out on it but want you should have a finger in the pie, either for her birthday or next Xmas. What say you?" So, by this I infer that probably three ("a group") of those we have had been gifts to Ina that my dad later saved for me.

My next discovery – years later – was of a full-page newspaper article about Joe Knowles, carefully folded and tucked away in a box of Grandma Ina's trinkets and photos. I found that article several times before I realized that it was about Joe Knowles, the artist responsible for the etchings. I learned that Joe lived in Seaview, in the same general region of southwestern Washington State as Raymond. That article provided a starting point for online research. But that's the subject of another post.

Have you heard of Joe Knowles? KW

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Early in November I read in the local paper that the city of Connell, WA, had received a grant for some public art. The article especially caught my attention because Nick is from Connell. He and Hallie visit his mother there.

Where is Connell, you ask. It's a small town in central Washington. If you're driving from the Lewis-Clark Valley to Seattle, you might go through there, or you might not. At any rate, it is significant that such a small town received a grant in the amount of $620,584 for beautication, including $189,000 to install forged steel flowers along a walking path. The remainder of the grant -- $431,584 -- will go to beautify Main Street, including stone tables and benches. The hope is that this beautification will be interesting enough to bring travelers off the highway and into town. (All of this is my understanding of the project from the Tribune article, which I reviewed online.)

So, I mentioned that I had read something about the public art in Connell to Hallie. She sent me pictures that Nick took last weekend when they visited there so that I could see what it's all about. She had some fun writing whimsical titles for the photos. The first photo is "Leaf Hallie Alone" while the second (right) is "Smell the Hallie."

Twirlie Girlie!

Wheat the Hal . . . . (right)

Have a nice Hallie, everyone! Hallie adds that this is not part of the public art but she spotted it in someone's yard and thought it was funny. KW

Friday, January 1, 2010


Happy New Year! It's an almost balmy day here in the Lewis-Clark Valley – 49 at this writing.

I've spent a week trying to set down my feelings about the Christmas season. What comes to mind is something Hallie said years ago: "We don't like Christmas. We just like to get ready for Christmas." At first I was dismayed at her observation – that I had failed to convey to my family a love of the Chirstmas spirit. But I had to admit I right regularly came unglued at Christmas, followed by a month of the blues. Then, as long-cherished traditions – and people -- disappeared, I began to think there's just nothing wrong with perpetually getting ready for Christmas if that's what I like to do. And as I began to see Christmas as a beginning rather than an end, a quieter, more reflective celebration took shape, allowing for continuance of the season in delightful ways.

The tree – now artificial through necessity – is down and stored in the barn for another year, the ornaments stashed under a bed. But my collection of holiday ceramics will remain in view until I'm moved to make a change. The two of us – or even the four of us – don't need much by way of Christmas goodies, so for the next month or two I will occasionally make some so-called Christmas goodies from new and old recipes. Why do we save them just for Christmas anyway? I have even selected some holiday music to enjoy during the winter months. Many of those favorites are really winter songs anyway. I'll continue to wear many of my less-obviously "Christmas" shirts until it's time to wear the dragonfly and the pansies. And I have come to look forward to January as that time of reflection and organization – some of it planning for next Christmas. And it's always the right time to study and ponder the birth of the Christ child and other worthy holiday literature.

Well, that sense of continuance really works for me. By giving myself permission to continue, I find myself gradually accepting the need to move on with the tasks at hand. As I focus less on Christmas as a day – or two days – or a special week – I find more peace and joy. After all, the Christmas spirit should never pass from experience but be cherished and nurtured in our hearts. I think of a song on a Johnny Mathis album: "Let Christmas be a feeling in your heart."

The other day I remarked over at the "Last Resort" that I don't bake cookies at night, but inspired by my friend's example, I found my cookie shooter, cookie stamps, and cookie cutters, and last night – while Mike watched yet another football game -- I tried a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens site for "brown sugar shortbread" cookies. Nellie knows that good things happen for those who watchfully wait. KW