Friday, April 30, 2010


Business and social obligations have kept us from spending time at the farm, and it's just as well because it's a little chilly. The hills show some snow again, but we could really use more moisture. In between events Mike and I have done some geocaching in the area, and I'm illustrating this blog with pictures I've taken on our outings.

My P.E.O. Chapter is having a rummage sale tomorrow, so today I devoted the morning to the set-up. Of course, I'm one of their best customers, and this year I found "treasures:"

  • A silver thimble. I can't find the one my mother bought for me at the jewelry store in Orofino when I was 12. I hope it isn't lost forever, but if it is, I'm over it. I think I just put it away with some project, and there I will find it someday. Mother said if I always wore my thimble when I did my handwork, wearing it would become second nature and I would miss it when I didn't have it. I have missed it and was glad to find a replacement.
  • Woman's Home Companion Cookbook, edited by Dorothy Kirk, 1950. I look for old cookbooks, pamphlets, and magazines. It's part of the "modern retro woman" thing. I let the "sister" who donated the book know how happy I am to have it.
  • 3 quilting books: Patchwork Gems (1996), Debbie Mumm's 12 Days of Christmas (2000), and Better Homes and Gardens 501 Quilt Blocks (1994). It's always great to find quality how-to books at affordable prices.
  • A Ty "Beanie Buddy" stuffed animal frog for the "frog ranch." I would never have chosen that theme for the farm, but it seems to stick. Not only did I pick up the plush frog but also a ceramic "mama" frog with three "babies." By the way, some young lady turned in her whole collection of "Beanie Babies," much to her grandmother's consternation. Remember when we sought them and certain ones were elusive and expensive? Oh, how soon things change!
  • A pair of muslin pillowslips, old but still in the original unopened plastic sack purchased from Newberry's. Remember Newberry's? Remember the Lewiston store? If you're under 40 (or you aren't from here), I'm afraid you won't remember. Mill End Fabrics was the last business located in that building, I think. Anyway, the pillowslips are just the thing for some of those pillowslip projects I've been planning.
  • 2 yards of new home decorator fabric suitable for an apron or a shopping bag – or something,
  • A "weeping earth" candle, still in original wrapper, by Firecraft Handmade Candles, New Mexico. The wrapper says, "We created this candle to be a symbolic reminder of the fragility of our planet. It is designed to drip and sculpt itself into an ever-changing landscape as it burns. Be creative! Burn some wicks while others cool. Pinch, cut or mold the warm thin walls to form your own unique sculpture." Hmmmm.
  • 4 hardback novels selected by Mike.
  • A hummingbird feeder – the kind that's a ball shape with a single spigot. I suspect those are impractical – but hey! -- for the price I'll give it a try.

Then there's the down quilt that Harriet (my real half sister) slipped to me outside the sale. She said that it was a Christmas gift from our Aunt Sara and Uncle Porkie and now that she's moved from the country to the Valley, it's too warm for her bed. She suggested I take it to the farm. I also "bought" other household sundries, but that stuff isn't so cool – and you've probably heard way too much about all this anyway.

As I arrived home with my carload of stuff, Mike left for his bike ride. While he was gone, I quickly spirited the stuff into the house and put it away. My philosophy is that as long as you can put it away, you're safe. KW

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"Hi Mom-o!" said the message from Hallie. "I was thinking about how you and Dad are approaching the big Three - Five and I thought it would be fun to get you a fruit tree of your choosing as an anniversary gift. I didn't want to just go and choose something because you might already have an idea for what you want and you might also like to do some research. I'm not sure if I'm too late for this idea in terms of timing for when it's right to plant a tree, so you can let me know. What do you think?"

"Hallie gets things done," I thought to myself. "And this year she'll establish the orchard -- something I haven't managed to do."

Years have come and gone since 1998 when we decided to remodel the old farmhouse. In my childhood – and even when I was 40 – an old pear tree and two pie cherry trees behind the house constituted the orchard. The cherry trees sat very near the sloping bank. Our general contractor in charge of remodeling said that unless the bank was pushed farther back, the foundation of the house would be threatened by standing water. It had to be corrected, he said, and the cherry trees would have to go.

The cherry trees were the center of many fine memories. Sometime mid- to late-July, when my dad said the cherries were ripe, we would head to the farm to pick them. He never mowed the orchard, so he would take a scythe and cut down the tall grass around the trees. He disapproved of anyone walking in tall grass because of rattlesnakes, so he would make sure the area was prepared before we approached the trees. When I was little, he would loop a belt through the bail of a shortening pail and tie it around my waist, but it would be years before I would become a proficient picker. I remember quietly picking with my mother. I remember my dad picking from time to time. I remember the year brother Chuck was there and helped me pick – seems not so long ago. And, of course, as you pick you visit about this and that. You anticipate the pies and it feels good to put food by.

So, it about broke my heart to have to part with the old cherry trees. They say a pie cherry tree lasts 20 years – and how old were those trees? Perhaps 50 – even 60 years – and showing their age. So, since I could do nothing about their loss, I resolved to replace them. It was probably time anyway.

Yes, I had already researched and knew what I wanted – a Montmorency pie cherry tree. It's an old species, so perhaps the old trees were Montmorency. And I felt certain that the reported hardiness of the Montmorency would be appropriate for the farm. Knowing what I wanted was just half the battle. Every year I was in a quandary. Trees ordered through the mail are very young and can't be delivered to a Washington address. (We get most of our mail at the Washington address.) More developed trees are hard to transport – if you can find them.

Yesterday I let my fingers do the walking and learned the local nursery had just two Montmorency trees left and on sale through the end of the month. Hallie said the local purchase worked for her, so this morning found Mike and me at the nursery seeking out our cherry tree. "Why not a sweet cherry tree?" asked Mike. "Not the plan," I explained, sticking to my guns. "Look at this! Three varieties on one tree," he said. "Maybe next year," I said.

"This is a fine looking Montmorency," said the helper, and I agreed. Mike went to get the pick-up while I went to pay.

"I have to agree with you about the pie cherry tree," said the nursery helper. "A cherry pie made with sweet cherries just isn't as good."

[The picture shows our Montmorency pie cherry tree together with a forsythia bush – both to be planted on the farm. The old can Mike found in the barn and brought to town to throw it away. "Not on your life," I said. "This is a yard ornament."] KW

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Maybe you’ve heard the above expression describing a not too pleasant event. Well, I can tell you that for me the first part of this sentence is – “Most anything is”.

Tuesday was a beautiful warm day so it seemed a perfect opportunity to initiate my little XT motorcycle on a Geocaching trip up Asotin Creek and into the Blue Mountains. I was having a great time – even saw my first snake of the season, a 3+ foot long Bull snake. At about 2:30 in the afternoon as I was searching for a cache in the woods about a 100 feet off the road I got hit in the eye with a branch full of thrones. I didn’t think too much about it at the time except to wish I had been wearing my glasses. It hurt, but not all that much and there were more caches to find.

I traveled about 65 miles logging a half dozen caches and it was close to supper time when I got back to town. My eye was still hurting and getting worse. By bedtime it was absolutely killing me. Then I began to worry about the lens inserts that had been placed in my eyes a couple of years ago when some cataracts were removed.

I’ve spent countless hours in the outdoors and I’ve had foreign bodies in my eyes before but I can remember only one incident with the potential severity of this one. It occurred in a Pascagoula River swamp of needle grass near Moss Point, MS. Needle grass grows in stiff dark green 1/8”-1/4” cylindrical stalks 3’ to 4’ high tapering to a needle sharp point. As I was slogging through the swamp one of these stalks poked me right in the center of the eye. I had the good fortune to have been wearing contact lenses which shielded my eye but even though it was over 50 years ago I clearly remember feeling the point hit the center of my eye and imagining the consequences had it not been for the contacts.

Back to the present. Wednesday at 8:00 AM sharp I called the Pacific Laser and Cataract Institute that had done my eye surgery and informed them of my situation. It was their surgery day and all the doctors were tied up so they suggested I just see my regular eye doctor who had referrer me to them for the surgery. Fortunately he was able to work me in before 10:00 and found the tip of a thorn in my eye along with a ¼” bow tie shaped tear where the thorn had ripped out a section of the top epidural layer of the surface of my eye. He said that eyes heal really fast but the problem was every blink irritated the wound. The solution was to put a contact lens in the eye that would cover the rip like a bandage for a couple of days while it healed. He also prescribed antibiotic eye drops.

The pain was alleviated quite a bit but it gradually increased although not as bad as the day before. The next morning it was much better and the day went pretty well.

As instructed I reported back to his office Friday morning for removal of the contact lens. As I knew, he was out of town for some continuing education training so his assistant removed the contact. She said problems were possible since the eye no longer was protected by the lens. Before he left town my doctor had informed one of the Pacific Laser and Cataract Institute doctors of my plight and I was to call there if problems continued. It seems to be fine now with just a little irritation later in the day and my vision is improving. As of now (Saturday morning) things seem to be going well. It’s unbelievable how something so painful can heal so quickly. I guess I’m a lucky boy. M/W

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My Grandmother Portfors (Mother's mother) used to say, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." In other words, your finished product will be inferior if made up of inferior elements. My mother would quote that adage from time to time to justify the expense of quality materials for her projects. Mother hardly ever re-made a garment or re-used fabric. She loved new fabric of good quality -- and was keyed to it by touch as well as sight.

Into every life some mending must fall, but Mother also had her take on that: "A hole can just happen, but a mend is premeditated poverty," her point being that mended clothes make a statement. Mother taught me to darn socks, re-stitch seams, and make new pockets, but if a garment was torn, she didn't patch. Patching I learned on my own when my boys were little and I had to make their jeans last as long as I could.

When my mother-in-law visited us, she would check Mike's shirts and turn any frayed collars. It was wonderful of her to do so, and Mike was so pleased by her conservative efforts. But, my thinking was (and is) that when a shirt has a frayed collar, it's worn out, especially if you're a "white collar" worker. Also a shirt with a frayed collar is undoubtedly showing other signs of wear, such as sleeves worn thin at the elbows. Mike has a different view on the preservation of clothing. I mean – this is a guy who was still wearing his Boy Scout pants – and proudly boasting about it -- when he was 50. Believe me – most of Mike's jeans and several shirts sport mended holes.

As you can see, I'm not quite at ease with the subject of textile preservation and re-use. A part of me screams, "New is great!" and "Where is our pride?" Yet how can we reduce the textiles in our collective garbage pits if we don't give thoughtful consideration to this subject and act upon it. Here are some ideas I've seen for textile re-use:

  • Use a vintage tablecloth to make shopping bags, purses, aprons, napkins, placemats, gift bags, whatever. I hate to see a beautiful, usable tablecloth cut apart, but it's another thing if it's stained and worn. (These same ideas might apply to bedspreads.)
  • Felting, involving the deliberate shrinking of wool by means of washing in hot water and then drying in high heat. The resulting product can then be cut like fabric and sewn into slippers, glasses cases, handbags, etc. I have never done felting and am not convinced I want to start. (And this idea works only for wool -- not polyester or blends.)
  • Unraveling of sweaters, afghans, etc., in order to re-use the yarn. I have a lot of respect for the time spent in knitting or crocheting, and I treasure the final product. However, when I see the many afghans available through Goodwill, rummage sales, and consignment shops, I have to admit the disposal of these things is a problem.
  • Cutting fabric into strips to make "rag rugs," hot pads, etc. Now here's something I might consider. When I was a teen-ager, Mother and I cut some old nylon (rayon?) nightgowns and underwear into strips and crocheted a rug. Personally I think this is a rather practical idea. Yes indeed! I'd forgotten about this, but I even have some patterns for crocheting strips of fabric . . .

Textiles wear out. They rot if left in the sun; they wear out with use; they even wear out as they are stored. I gently washed some napkins from my mother's collection and one of them came apart. I had to reconsider a long-cherished plan to make dolls from my hand-embroidered pillowslips when a number of them split in the washing. Now I ask you, what can I do with those, apart from making them into rags?

Back in the day – quite a ways back – people re-used textiles to make clothing, quilts, curtains, etc. These days we don't so much. Today's quilter is particular about fabric; new cotton is recommended. Re-use is not so much encouraged. Are we going too far with that concept? Could we still make a serviceable quilt from used, discarded fabric?

Mike says he never has enough rags for his work in the shop. When we moved to this modular home from "the big house," I loaded two big boxes with bedding and towels I never wanted to see again and told Mike to get rid of them. I confess I meant for him to haul them to the landfill. "Did you take those boxes to the landfill or are they under the house?" I asked him later. "They're under the house," he replied. When he complains that he never has enough rags, I remind him of the boxes under the house.

I have just one more observation, a rather sad one. Any effort that we make as consumers is great – and we should do so. But – the worst offender is industry. Where can we place our efforts so that we make a difference?

[The pillowcases and shirts pictured above are basically worn out. I embroidered the shirts in the '70s and have kept them this long because of the embroidery work. Can the embroidery work be salvaged for something other than rags?] KW

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I love "R-E" words: reduce, reuse, recycle, and to that we can add renew, renovate, remodel, refurbish, reorganize, rehabilitate. Well, you get the picture. To me they denote action that is the outcome of thought. They imply starting with what we have, who we are, or where we are, and making us better. They apply to conservation – making over, making do, improving. The old adage is "waste not, want not." Mike and I do the best we can to follow environmental guidelines and live conservatively.

First on the list – we limit the intake of plastic shopping bags. At first it was really hard. Even if I had my "green bags" in the car, I would forget them when I went into the store, but this year I seem to have "turned a corner" on that. I keep cloth bags in the car and actually carry them into the store. When it comes time to discard plastic bags – there will be some accumulation – I take them to recycle bins or share them where they can be re-used. Also, when I pick up some small item at the store, I simply say, "I don't need a bag."

"These 'green bags' are great," said the young man packing my groceries, "but they're sorta flimsy."

"You have to make the corners first," chimed in the cashier. "Then they work fine."

"I have a goal to make my own shopping bags," I added. We speculated on whether mine would be sturdier, and I think they would be. The cashier said he knew of one woman who had made her own.

Second – separation of recyclables. Clarkston does not have curbside pick-up of recyclables, so we separate cardboard, catalogs / magazines / newspapers, and plastic containers and carry them to the recycle station ourselves on a bi-weekly basis – or whenever the spirit moves us. This year I added tin cans to the effort, and I was amazed to discover how many we use! They say you don't have to clean them, but I always do to eliminate odors. We also save aluminum cans separately and turn them in for whatever little money we can get.

Third – composting. I have been composting for a number of years. I have a big black barrel on the farm where I toss table scraps, scrapings, and leavings of a vegetable nature. It's hard for me to come up with the recommended balance of compostable matter, but I keep trying to get it right.

Fourth – water conservation. Here in town we landscaped with rock and planted a xeriscape of drought-tolerant plants, aka perennials (glorified weeds?). It seems to work well in this environment – at least, the overall effect is okay. We eliminated maintenance of a lawn which requires water and mowing, but effort is required to maintain the plantings and we have to weed. Some years the beds seem to come back well; other years – like this year -- more is required of us to manage the plantings. On the farm, we use water collected in the old cistern to water plantings near the house. We don't water the lawn.

Fifth – textiles. They say textiles are clogging our landfills. While this is probably caused mainly by industry, they say that Goodwill and other dealers in used textiles have been known to throw them into the landfill. Ideas are presented to the consumer for re-use of textiles, but that's another post. KW

Friday, April 16, 2010


Yesterday (4-15-10) I drove to Moscow (30 miles north) for the monthly meeting of the embroidery club. Chris showed us how to make this lovely little pincushion. Such a delightful meeting! No minutes of the previous meeting. No voting on this or that. Not even any dues. "Ready? -- everybody stitch!" says Chris, and that's that.

I believe this was the sixth embroidery club meeting I have attended. I take with me my sewing machine, embroidery module, laptop, and sewing box. Unfortunately my set-up involves three detachable cords -- the sewing machine, the laptop, and the USB cord that connects the laptop to the sewing machine. For the first time I managed to leave necessities behind -- the sewing machine cord and the embroidery foot. Fortunately they were able to loan me these items at the shop. Maybe I really should make a checklist.

It was a warm (76) but hazy afternoon as I drove back to Lewiston, and the afternoon is not a good time to take pictures anyway. Nevertheless, I stopped at the viewpoint at the top of the Lewiston Hill and got out with the camera. Now the elevation of Moscow is officially 2,579 feet, while Lewiston sits at 745 feet. In fact some people say Lewiston is at sea level. At any rate, the descent into Lewiston is rather dramatic. "They told me the elevation would drop by 2500 feet," said a traveling performer who came to Lewiston from the north. "They just didn't tell me I would do 2,000 of those feet in the last six miles."

The picture above looks south and shows the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. The Snake comes in from the south (top of the picture) and divides not only Lewiston (on the left) from Clarkston but Idaho from Washington. The picture to the left shows the confluence, the Interstate Bridge, and Clarkston. Bridge Street shows prominently off the end of the bridge. Those readers who know Lewiston will note that the Twin City Foods plant has been demolished. KW

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


When my oldest child was just a toddler, my dad made a toy box for our family -- a little white chest with a hinged flat lid. He had affixed to the lid a little bronze plaque engraved with the words, "Fun Is a Toy." At that time I still thought that fun and toys were associated with children. No more!

Major amongst our toys are the bicycles. We have had bicycles for years and wouldn't be without them. Mike cycles many miles regularly for exercise. I actually enjoy riding my bike more than Mike knows. I just hate traffic, riding in groups, being taxed on hills. Can't we just go for a ride? No – not in Lewiston where we share the levee bike path with pedestrians. The bike path is the most dangerous place to cycle in this town.

Mike has two motorcycles – his Triumph blah blah blah and the Yamaha dual sport XT whatever. That is, he has two if you don't count the one that hasn't sold yet. Mike does not consider them toys, strictly speaking. He recounts how he rides them to work and for getting around in general, thereby saving gas. That means not just saving money but also conserving gasoline. It's true that some folks argue for that. But the gleam in his eye when he announces that he's going for a ride -- and also the encumbrances he puts up with -- indicate he's having fun here.

As we know, toys can be accessorized and that's fun, too. In the case of motorcycles, it's chaps and helmets and gloves and leather jackets, etc. The postman or the UPS driver comes to our house regularly with stuff we've ordered.

I also have toys. Here's my organ, the Technics SX-EA5. Just months after I bought it, the Music City rep who was teaching me about the organ was transferred and not replaced. Then Music City closed their store here. Then Mike and I were generally distracted and busy as we remodeled the farmhouse and moved and all sorts of other family things happened. Next the manufacturer went out of business, and somehow I became really discouraged over the organ and didn't play it. But Easter Sunday I felt compelled to play "Easter Parade" and "Peter Cottontail." And I spent two hours playing and playing and playing. And it occurred to me then that maybe I could add some incentives by ordering new music. Mike accessorizes – why not me? I made an online search and sure enough! Amazon has all the music books I could ever want – some of them used and super-cheap. That's okay with me. The books I ordered last week have been coming this week. More fun!

Then there are toys that are outright toys no matter what they tell you. For instance, this "Tiny Betsy McCall" comes in a box that says, "Collector Doll – This is not a toy, it is a collectible item." It's so true that she's delicate and shouldn't be handled by little ones, but she's still a toy. I've had my eye on her for many months and finally decided the time had come to order her. She's a basic doll. I have no interest in their expensive collector clothes. If she has a wardrobe, I will create it.

And here's another toy -- my Bernina Aurora 430 with embroidery module. My mother's sewing machine was not a toy, and she did not think of it as such. But I call mine a toy because it's so much more than a basic sewing machine. It affords opportunities for creativity that were just unthinkable to bygone generations. The opportunities for accessorizing and upgrading are practically limitless and not only fun but challenging.

I could mention more toys – guns, dolls, 4-wheelers, but you get the picture. Over the years, life has just changed that much. Adults can play, too -- and we should. It keeps us young. KW

Saturday, April 10, 2010


As tax season draws to a close, Mike is bored with his job and life in general. He's ready to move on to the next thing, but with morning temps below freezing, it's still too early to "think summer." So yesterday Mike suggested we get out to pick up a few geocaches in the vicinity of the town house – just for something to do. We'd just do a few, he said. We'd be back at the house for lunch, he said. I put some food in Nellie's dish and left her in the house.

Our third stop led us out to the brow of the hill where 15th becomes Appleside and there's a new bike / pedestrian path. I enjoyed the view of the community from the cache site, as pictured here, while Mike found the cache and did the bookwork. The one of Mike is great. The house in the background belongs to a former co-worker.

It was after noon, and we were still having a good time, so Mike suggested that we pick up a sandwich at Subway and continue caching. That's when I began to watch my day fall apart. The cell phone rang, and office staff apprised Mike of a client waiting for tax prep – a gal from the wilds of Alaska visiting her student son at WSU. She needed to have his taxes completed ASAP. Mike agreed and on the way to the office we stopped at Subway. Subway is great – unless there's a line and you're in a hurry.

Arriving at TaxTyme, we found the tax client waiting as specified. Mike suggested I just wait for him, but as I sat there, two more clients came in. "See ya later," I said, and I went shopping. Now, I was dressed in an old sweatshirt and even older jeans. I was only a little self-conscious. I was also unprepared – no lists, no coupons. But I went to Safeway where I picked up what I could remember from the grocery list and also shopped their clearance stuff. Mike was ready to leave TaxTyme as I pulled up. He had an appointment at 4:00, he said, but we would pick up those two caches in Clarkston's port district and then head home. He would then ride back to TaxTyme on his motorcycle. I noted to myself that the interior of the car was looking disorganized and reminiscent of folks on vacation – jackets we had shed, a cup of water in the holder, geocaching papers on the floor, etc.

We were still wandering the port district when the cell phone rang. A client was waiting and another had scheduled in addition to the appointment at 4:00. Mike started to take me home, but we both realized there just wasn't enough time in the workday for him to do that – five miles to the house and six miles back to the office in awful Friday traffic. So, we just headed back to the office. Mike handed me the cell phone and told me he would call me. Now I was really killing time, but I went to Shop-Ko and Dollar Tree. I was in Dollar Tree when I thought I heard the cell phone above the din of the store music. I answered too late but figured Mike was finished at the office. The store was busy, so I carefully re-shelved my items (training from daughter who once had brief career in retail) and drove back to TaxTyme.

"No," said Mike, "I was calling to tell you I now have a 5:00 o'clock appointment. It was only 4:40, so we sat and looked at each other for a while. Then we remembered that Nellie was out of toothpaste, so I went, back to the Safeway-Ross complex where Petco is located where I was successful in finding some nice doggy toothpaste for Nellie.

When we arrived home about 6:00, Nellie was glad to see us. She has a way of conserving her food if she's insecure about her circumstances. Her breakfast was waiting and she fell to eating it immediately. KW

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


[Hallie noted the lack of illustration on this blog and sent along these photos of her "patented" fitted sheet folding method. Thanks, Hallie.]

The home exec at "Miller's Last Resort," my childhood chum, has muttered in passing about hating to change t
he bed. That set me to thinking . . .

My standard is to change the bed on a weekly basis. It's a regular Saturday chore. We usually work hard of a Saturday, so a fresh bed Saturday night – after the weekly bath (LOL) – feels "real good."

Changing the bed nowadays is easier than when I first learned the rudiments. I remember the day -- I was about seven – when Mother said I should now begin to change my own bed. She described the method I was to use: put the bottom sheet in the wash, put the top sheet on the bottom, and use a fresh sheet for the top. The rationale she imparted was that the top sheet didn't get as soiled as the bottom sheet and this method not only saved on the laundry but also wear and tear on the sheets.

Yes, changing my bed was a challenge for me in those days. I could never remember which sheet went in the laundry and which was re-used. I simply could not grasp the concept that somehow the top sheet wasn't really dirty, so at every weekly change I would review the method with my mother. I kept my dissenting thoughts to myself, not wishing to incite any unpleasantness with Mother, but it seemed to me you never really got a clean bed. Inwardly I resolved that when I had a home of my own I would change both sheets on every bed! My mother's sheets were good old heavy-duty cotton, all of them white, and in those days fitted bottom sheets were not yet commonly in use, so all sheets were flat and corners had to be precisely mitered and tucked, then all the blankets neatly spread over the top and also tucked. I could never do it as well as my mother, and the bed I made for myself was never as comfortable as the bed Mother made for me. Ah! Such is life!

I also remember mended sheets. Back in the day, my mother mended sheets, and I know my mother-in-law did, too. A sheet would quite naturally wear out right down the middle. The thrift-conscious homemaker, and that was about all of them, would cut out that threadbare center section, then sew the two remaining strips together in a flat-felled seam. Or, they might overlap the sections in some way in order to make the center stronger and to get a few more inches -- and a little more use -- out of that sheet. It's not as easy as it sounds because the homemaker / seamstress would have to remove and reset the header. A double-bed sheet would now be a little narrow for comfort as a top sheet, but it might still work as a bottom sheet or do good service on a twin bed. Of course, the guest bed would not be dressed in a mended sheet, and probably not any bed in which two people slept, but it would work for a child's bed. Eventually my mother's old and mended sheets were used at the farmhouse, and Mike's mother took hers to her river cabin. My eldest sister, Harriet, who became a homemaker in 1953, says that she never mended sheets but did cut some down for crib sheets.

I remember that we didn't buy linens much. You didn't think, "I'm tired of this old sheet," and head out to replace it. While passing through the store you didn't say to yourself, "What a beautiful set of sheets! I'm buying those today." At least, my mother didn't, and I'm sure my mother-in-law didn't either. If you were at the place where you had to buy new bed linen, you watched for the semi-annual "white sale," which took place in January and July at some such department store as J. C. Penney. That's when you found bed linen at sale prices – period.

The same went for towels. Basically, towels last a long time, and they were not casually replaced. They may look like rags, but they will still be serviceable. I was in junior high when my dad gave my mother and me each two sets of matching towels for Christmas. Her set came from Montgomery Wards, mine (which belonged to the household as much as to me) from Sears Roebuck. They graced the upstairs bathroom for years. I'll bet I can still find one or two of those towels amongst our rags. In fact – yes -- the hand towel from Mother's set is even now hanging on the shower door as a cleaning rag. And – it looks darned good in its old age.

Well, as the '50s became the '60s, changes took place in the way people lived – and my family was no exception. Mother's top-loading washer sitting in the kitchen was replaced by a matched washer and dryer and moved to the basement. With her washing system improved, Mother's new sheets were percale and she insisted on fitted bottom sheets – now available and popular as a convenience. We would change both sheets now, but she could deal with it because – for the first time – she had a clothes dryer. And for my new bed I was provided a matched set of pretty sheets. Initially I had just the one set and agreed to wash, dry and put them back on the bed myself each and every Saturday. That agreement suited me just fine. KW

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guest Blog: Hallie & Nick's Maui Vacation

Nick and I were inspired to take a vacation to Hawaii this year by the below commercial:

So, for several weeks we went around saying, "I've got to get out of heeeere!" before we pounced on a last minute deal on Travelocity. I had never been to Hawaii and didn't quite know what to expect. As it turns out, it's the BEST! I thought it would be muggy, but it really wasn't. The weather was probably in the 80s with some wind. I didn't mind the wind because it kept me cool, but I wouldn't have wanted to be on a bicycle. The gusts were up to 35 mph!

Highlights of the trip included snorkeling (who knew it was so fun?!) where we saw many beautiful fish and two huge sea turtles. We also enjoyed a luau and we really had fun perusing the shops in Lahaina. Oh! And the hump back whales were jumping constantly and it was great fun scouring the horizon for action out at sea. We went on one organized snorkeling tour on a charter boat and had the wonderful luck of getting within 100 - 200 yards of some hump back whales. I can say that we literally saw TONS of whale. har har!

In summary, it was a much needed relaxing break and I highly recommend a similar vacation to others. I think I look much healthier with a slight tan. :)


Thursday, April 1, 2010


For a couple of years I’ve wanted a little dual sport motorcycle that I could use to traverse dirt and/or gravel roads and maybe even some trails. I thought it would be an economical and fun way to find geocaches as well as being fun to use on the farm. I almost bought one a year or so ago but I thought the price was a little high.

About a month ago I heard on one of the local radio station’s “Call in Classifieds” program someone wanting to sell a ’95 Yamaha XT225 which is exactly what I wanted. The XT225 is a little dual sport bike that is street legal as well as being ideal for trail and back road use. It also has a low seat height which ordinary dirt bikes do not. I think I mentioned it to Hallie saying I would like to get something like this and sell the smaller 4 wheeler that isn’t used much. She encouraged me to do this thinking it would be a lot of fun riding it around the farm. Of course, I didn’t need too much encouragement.

The buyer was asking $1,700 which seemed a little high for a machine this old but I thought I’d take a look at it anyway. What I found was a bike that this kid had bought new when he was about 13 years old and now at 26 wasn’t using it anymore. (In case you’re doing the math, he bought it in ’97 but it was still new). The bike was pretty much in pristine condition and the only thing I could find wrong was a bent brake lever and dead battery. It had obviously been sitting quite a bit as it had only 1,200 miles on it. I really wanted it but still thought the price was a little high so I offered him $1,200. He said he wanted to try to sell it for the higher amount but would keep me in mind if he was unsuccessful.

For the next three weeks or so I perused all the ads but did not see this bike or any other listed for less than $2,000 or so except for a ’96 just like this one in CA for $1,500. So I called the seller again and asked if he had had any luck selling it. He said no but he was just about to list it in the Moneysaver, our local advertising paper. I offered to split the difference in what he was asking and what I had offered and he accepted so I bought it for $1,450.

The last few days I’ve spent lubing the chain, suspension, kick stand, cables and brake and shift levers. I was able to straighten the bent brake lever by putting it in a vise, heating it with a torch and using some bicycle handle bars as a lever to straighten it. I drained the gas tank and put in fresh fuel, replaced the brake fluid, installed a new spark plug, adjusted the chain slack, changed the oil and installed a power takeoff for my GPS. After putting the battery on a trickle charger it has worked fine so far.

I commuted to work this morning for the maiden voyage. After riding the Triumph it was like riding a little moped. I felt like people were looking at me and laughing. Actually, it’s a fun little bike and I think it’s going to be just what I wanted. I thought I’d better post these pictures before I wreck it. M/W