Monday, March 28, 2011


Clint came up for a visit during spring break and we had a good time. He is in the process of building a go-cart from an old riding lawn mower that is surplus on the farm. On an earlier trip he took the transaxle and has already rebuilt it. So Thursday we made a trip to the farm to get the rest of the mower. We hadn’t been up since just after the first of the year so I was eager to see how things were. The first thing I noticed as we turned up the drive was water running down the road. Not quite half way up the ¼ mile drive the field had sloughed off into the ditch effectively clogging it and sending the water down the road instead of in the ditch. Other than that things were in pretty good shape. We found a dead mouse in the spring trap and two live ones in the live trap. We took the live ones out in the yard and let them loose so Nellie could show off her mousing skills. We got the house dewinterized which mostly consisted of installing the shower and tub faucets and turning the water back on along with lighting the pilot on the wall furnace. Next I had to install the battery in the 4 wheeler to get it going so we could take it back to town where I prefer to do the annual maintenance. Clint got started on digging out the ditch and I helped finish up after I got the 4 wheeler going. We got the lawn mower loaded in the back of the truck and the 4 wheeler on the trailer and headed back to town about mid day.

We spent most of the afternoon doing the annual maintenance on the wheels of my road bike. I had already done the drive train and brakes. Clint stayed for supper to round off a good day.

I had to work most of Friday but after work we got in a 15 mile mountain bike ride. In spite of the climbing we did I about froze. A good part of the way we were riding into a cutting head wind that really got me chilled. If I had just taken my windbreaker it would have been alright. Clint stayed for supper that night as well.

The next morning Clint brought his dirt bike over and we made a 48 mile trip up Asotin creek and back down the Cloverland grade logging seven geocaches along the way. It was a fun trip and Clint was digging out those caches just like an old pro. Later in the summer I hope we can make a similar trip over in the Blue Mountains where I can continue to take advantage of his skills. M/W

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Mike and our son Clint were preparing to leave for the farm Thursday morning.

“I’d really like you to get the button box for me,” I said and proceeded to describe to Mike what it looked like and where to find it. Clint’s ears perked up. He knew immediately what I was talking about. Did he say he’d look for it? No, he said, “I’ll get it for you.” And he did.

The button box is a half gallon ice cream container (cylinder with lid) that my half-brother Chuck decoupaged for Mother when he was in Boy Scouts.

“I can tell you what I don’t want,” announced Chuck as we divided Mother’s things, “and that’s that old box I made from an ice cream container.”

Mother was sentimental about the container. After all, Charles had made it for her. I don’t know if it was made to be a button box or if it was just a box to be filled with something and she designated it “the button box.”  

Mother never threw away a button. Before making a rag of a shirt or pajama top, she would clip off the buttons and toss them into the button box, often (but not always) threading matching buttons together. If extra buttons came with a new coat or blouse, into the button box they went. Sometimes she had buttons left over from a project. Into the box with them. If she was discarding a garment with unique buttons and trimmings, she might snip them off and put them in the button box. A stray button? Yes – into the box, but first she would keep it on the kitchen window sill, in the event its proper place might come to light. 

My mother didn’t take the loss of a button lightly. Shirts and blouses were routinely checked for loose buttons and repaired as part of the laundry process. (Remember -- It was not the age of t-shirts.) If I lost a button off my blouse – or my coat (heaven forbid!), Mother would lecture me on how it could have been avoided. Unless modesty prohibited, it was better to remove a loose button rather than risk losing it.  I was also to look around the house and at school for a lost button. If the button had to be replaced, we might check the button box for a match. And match it must or else all the buttons had to be replaced. That’s what you wanted to avoid – replacing all the buttons. 

And did Mother re-use her buttons? Seldom. As much as Mother believed in saving, she also delighted in new things. If she was making a new blouse, for instance, she wanted pretty new buttons. And so that explains why the button box is full of buttons.

I figure Chuck made the box in the late ‘40s – about 60 years ago, but of course, some of the buttons are older. Over the years family members were allowed to go through the box looking for that “just right” button or special vintage pieces, and that’s fine. The buttons should be appreciated or used.

In fact, I wanted to retrieve the button box from the farm because I needed buttons for a special project. We’re making pillow covers at embroidery club and I need three buttons for the back of mine. I didn’t see what I wanted on the racks at Jo-Ann’s and happened to think that I might find something usable in the button box. 
And I did. Look at these three brown buttons with just a tinge of gold around the edge. And guess what – they’re glass!  They just don’t make glass buttons any more.

While I value Mother’s buttons, I don’t know that I need to cherish this old ice cream box with designs chipping off. I think I could find a prettier, sturdier box. Chuck has said what he thinks about it. Perhaps it’s time to let it go. KW

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Twenty years ago Mike predicted I would eventually have a computer that would be the center of my life. I scoffed then because I was pretty sure I would never have a computer all to myself, but today my laptop is the center of my life. It’s my connection to family and friends; the center of my spirituality study; the keeper (and seeker) of information; a cookbook; a sewing pattern file; an embroidery enabler. I could go on and on – most everything I do comes back to my computer. Naturally when my spacebar began to function erratically, I was disturbed. I cleaned to no avail. 

Mike took pity on me. “How can you put up with that?” he questioned. He sought info and was told the keyboard was worn out. Yes, in just under three years I had worn out the keyboard. Does that happen? Yes, it does. When I worked as a secretary, management would provide a new keyboard every couple of years. It stands to reason that a laptop keyboard would also wear out. But can a laptop keyboard be replaced? Yes, and Mike ordered the replacement but balked when Staples told him it would be an additional $40.00 to install.

“I’ll do it myself,” said Mike, who hates to pay labor. (We’re told that we should leave repairs to techs, but one money-saving tip is to learn to make your own repairs.)

“If you’re successful,” I told him, “I’ll think you’re wonderful, but if you mess up my computer, you’ll have to get me a new one.” He nodded understandingly.

The guy at Staples was not forthcoming with helpful instructions, and on his first attempt, Mike gave up and said he would take it back to Staples. “I’m just going to ask Milo,” I said. Our son Milo enjoys working on computers as a hobby. His advice was to find an online tutorial and try again. “It should be a 10-minute job,” he said.

So yesterday I found the tutorial, and we reviewed it together. Mike gathered his screwdrivers and donned his headlamp. The whole process went pretty much as specified in the tutorial. Start to finish was 20 minutes, but I think we could do it in 10 now.

I opened the laptop and turned it on. I tapped in my password and the computer said "Welcome." I brought up a blank document and tapped in the old standard practice sentence: "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country."

“Good for another 1.5 million strokes,” predicted Mike. I prefer to think of it as about three years.

It’s so much easier to keyboard now. I hadn’t realized how hard I had to thump on that old keyboard.

Oh – and yes – Mike is just pretty wonderful! KW

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Happy spring! One of us is tired of the cold. The other is relishing indoor projects while she can. A more active lifestyle is right around the corner. When the garden beckons, it doesn't let up during the growing season. I'm not much of a gardener, but I always try.

Today we headed out to find some newly-placed geocaches on the Lewiston side of the levee parkway system. We left Nellie behind, thinking that it might be difficult to control her if there was foot traffic on the path. As it turned out she would have been fine. Now I will have to take her for a walk.

These geocaches were placed yesterday, we think, so a "first to find" would have been great. I don't know why -- there's no reward for being the first to find a cache that I know of. But when a new cache is placed, some geocachers will race to be the first to find it. I suppose when one logs a "first to find" on the computer it's a status thing amongst one's peers.

"We're the second ones here," said Mike as he logged our first find. "First losers," I commented -- what son Clint used to say of a second-place win.

We walked along the levee for a mile, I guess, and traveled to two more by car, finding seven in all. And as we picked up our very last one, Mike commented with a grin that he was the "first to find." What did I tell you? It means something.

And as we walked, we spotted a marmot in the rocks. You know how rodents are -- cute as can be. They have sweet faces and capture the imagination, but they are prolific and do a lot of damage. The marmots burrow under the rocks and compromise the stability of the levee and the pathway. Nevertheless, they are so cute and so much fun to watch that attempts to control their population is controversial. KW

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Coming here with a new post, I see our "tech" (Hallie) has changed the slide show (see right). Good girl!

Mike has a few favorite online stores, such as Cabela’s, Motorcycle SuperStore, and Bike Nashbar. I noticed some years back – as did Nellie -- that our house is a regular stop on the UPS route – not to mention the regular mail – and that Mike is an enthusiastic recipient of gifts to himself, as it were.

“I buy what I want,” said Mike when I questioned the frequency of a one-person Christmas at our house. “And if you aren’t doing the same thing, you should be.”

A startling new idea! Shop for myself! At the time I was newly retired and had no clue what to do with this freedom. Clearly I had to identify some interests. Eventually the world of ideas opened and I found plenty of inspiration and joy through online searches. Often I don’t have to buy in order to have a good time.

When people ask me what I’ve been doing lately -- and people do ask that even if it’s just a conversation opener – I’m reluctant to say, “Oh, searching / shopping online.” But I also hate to say – “Oh, nothing.” Just let me say, over the last couple of weeks I have pursued some online interests and ordered some stuff. Most of my searches related to dolls and doll clothes (sewing and crochet). And once I received the crochet patterns, I was off on another tangent – to find appropriate light-weight yarns (category 2) in bright, “kid-friendly” colors – no easy feat.

Not all yarns are created equal, and we’re living in an age when there’s a demand for heavy yarns that make up quickly. Finding the light-weight yarns – not too fine – has proved an obsessive quest for me – the best yarn, the best colors, the best deals. Search – search – search. Finally I ordered an assortment of yarns and colors from Jo-Ann’s website – and then discovered what might be a better product at another site. Oh well. 

I find making doll clothes to be a satisfactory project. The reward for my efforts comes quickly and meanwhile I'm practicing skills. The doll continues to smile appreciatively, never complaining that she doesn’t like this or that. And I might have said that an added advantage is that you don’t have to alter a pattern to make it fit. But listen to this disclaimer on a McCall’s pattern I bought yesterday: “The proportion for dolls may differ, depending on manufacturer. Adjustments to individual pieces during construction may be necessary for better fit.” Hmmmmm. 

Oh but it’s so true. Just as all yarn isn’t created equal, all 18-inch dolls aren’t created equal either. The American Girl doll has a thick cloth body and a roundness through her back and shoulders that you don’t find in the molded composite or plastic body. Maybe I still need Nancy Zieman’s instruction manual, “Pattern Fitting with Confidence.” 

[The photo shows sweaters and tops in progress. Shirley Anne now has a doll stand purchased from American Girl, which makes fitting and display easier. Various sweaters are made up in a variety of yarns – all experimental. I would never sit down to design crocheted doll outfits, but I have enjoyed working with an existing pattern to “improve” it. Some of this work will be ripped out for re-use. The turquoise top made of baby yarn is a keeper. The books – recent orders -- relate to dressing dolls of all sorts, including the American Girl.] KW

Monday, March 14, 2011


Once again the time change focuses us on the influence that  sunlight holds over us. Saturday night at suppertime Mike, ever the efficient one, changed some of our clocks to daylight savings time so he wouldn't have to do it on Sunday. I tried to avoid the ensuing confusion by ignoring the clocks during the  evening.

In the quiet winter months after Christmas,  I enjoy watching the days gradually become  longer, but once we switch to Daylight Savings Time, I lose interest -- probably because it's now light through the supper hour and I have things to do.

Sunday morning we  meant to get up early but instead it was after 8:00 a.m. PDT when I arose. What a difference a day makes! On Saturday, the day before, the same hour was 7:00 and a decent enough time to get up.

Even though we  were making a later-than-planned start, we headed down to the levee by-pass for some geocaching. Someone (or several "someones) has placed geocaches -- mostly micros (tiny containers) -- all along the pedestrian trail. Mike found some but not all. I was very little help to him.

Here are a few pictures. The crocus is blooming in our rock garden. The rest I  took along the levee. Despite the winter bleakness still evident, the days are growing warmer and  the hills are greening up. KW

Friday, March 11, 2011


My mother said that she tried to learn to knit when she was a young mother. The  baby toddled up, lost her balance, grabbed for the needles -- and that was that. The knitting came off and Mother wasn't experienced enough to pick up all those stitches. She gave up knitting in favor of crochet and never practiced knitting again.

Knowing that Mother didn't knit but that my half-sister Harriet does, I asked Harriet who  taught her. Here's what she wrote: 

"I taught myself.  I bought a beginning book, some yarn and needles, and read what to do.  I think my first item was mittens.  I started knitting when I went to meetings in my sorority in college and everyone else smoked.  I needed something for my hands to do so I bought some yarn and a book.  I think someone in the house told me how to tie the first knot, and got me started casting on.  When mother was expecting you, I went to a shop in Moscow, bought some baby yarn and a pattern and knitted a sweater for you.  If I got stuck, there was always someone in the sorority who was a knitter and could help."

I used to think that being self-taught was somehow a lesser method of learning than taking instruction from an expert, but I now wonder if perhaps any craft we would learn doesn't carry with it the element of self instruction. Once you know the basics, you can carry on. Maybe you can single crochet and double crochet but you don't know how to treble crochet. There's plenty of self-help info out there. You don't necessarily need an expert to show you, unless of course, you know where to find one. You really have to develop the confidence just to wade in and work through the issues.
To this day I admire knitters, but I've never taken it up. But when I was in high school, I  flirted around with it some. Again, motivation is key. I wanted to make this little doll sweater for one of my diminutive baby dolls -- so I did. 

[The first photo is of Harriet and me sitting on the steps at the house in Orofino -- maybe 1952. Look -- we're holding hands. I was so pleased to be able to scan this picture from my baby book because I've never seen it anywhere else. The second photo is one that L.J., Harriet's son, forwarded to me. The background looks like a campus to me -- maybe the University of Oregon where she completed  her  journalism degree.] KW

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Ina makes no mention of performing any kind of handcraft in her correspondence to Vance. She speaks of canning, baking, gardening, cleaning, sewing and reading. But she never says that she sat down to knit, crochet, or embroider. I know that she re-made shirts and dresses and she alludes to quilts now and then. She even made Myrtle a doll to muffle the tick-tock of her alarm clock. But I don’t think she enjoyed handwork. Perhaps she wasn’t “turned that way,” as the saying goes. Well, whatever she did, she was busy. My half-brother Chuck says he remembers Ina as industrious, and he recalled her being busy with the washing and ironing. (Thank God for today’s labor-saving machines.)

However, Ina’s eldest daughter, Pearl, loved to knit, and here’s what Ina had to say about it: “I feel sorry for Pearl. She has trouble with her right arm and hand. They think it neuritis and she has so much to do all the time. She has been knitting mittens for the men folk. They use the knit ones as linings in the others. She loves to knit though. Besides knitting, she also makes gloves from animal hide. She is making Myrtle and Shirley each a pair. They are made just like any glove and are very nice. She had a pair when she was here in ’33 that she’d made. She says she loves to do it.” [Note that in the photo above, dated September 1918, Ina pretends to read while Pearl has her knitting.]

Aunt Ethel also loved to knit.  (Ethel was Ina's fourth child.) She made several stylish outfits for my Barbie doll, and I still have them. I also remember a vest she made for me when I was in high school. I saw the dress pattern in a magazine and a knitted vest made from a kit was featured with it.  Mother agreed to make the dress for me, but she didn’t knit, so Aunt Ethel said she would make it. Mother ordered the kit which we delivered to Aunt Ethel, and in no time she returned  the finished product. I think she was quite happy to do it. I still have the vest in my cedar chest, though sadly I will likely never wear it again.

My mother taught me to crochet when I was about 10. We had purchased this little booklet of doll clothes patterns (see above) that included crochet and I was totally taken with it. Crochet patterns were scarce – most patterns were knit -- and knit is still easier to find than crochet. I studied and studied the booklet, then asked my mother if I could make the tea dress for my Jill doll (see photo  left). I was sure she would say no -- that the patterns were much too advanced for a child who didn't crochet. Instead she said, “Why yes!” We bought a ball of crochet thread and in no time I was crocheting away.  I overheard Mother talking to my sister in the kitchen. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to teach Kathy to crochet,” she said. “I’ve tried before and she just didn’t seem interested.”

Well, you know how it is. Motivation is everything. I didn’t want to make rows of single crochet.  I wanted to make something! When I finished the tea dress, I made three or four muu muus for my large family of diminutive dolls from the same booklet. I marvel when I think of those first items I crocheted. It’s hard to work with thread. I would advise anyone to learn with yarn. But I myself learned with thread making doll clothes. KW

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I was “on a roll” a while back. Remember the “Vintage Holiday” quilt project? I made good progress for a while, but distraction is always just a heartbeat away – always. It appeared first in the form of a report I had to prepare and present. And then I had some little gifts I needed to make, which I did. And then I lost a weekend to the flu. And through it all I had some mending / updating to do on Mike’s hunting vests. I won’t let myself move ahead with the fun until I’ve finished the “musts.” Sometimes things come to a standstill.

So as Mike went off to work yesterday, I announced that I would fix his hunting vests.  I covered the whole back of one with a piece of hunter orange and embroider his brand on it. On the other, I simply embroidered the brand on a flap – something he’s wanted for weeks. And when I finished that work, I allowed myself a special treat -- a simple yet inspirational project. Sometimes I just need to do some thing I can finish in a short time – something that hopefully won’t end up as an unfinished project.

I had purchased Butterick pattern 5587 for the 18-inch girl doll, featuring a free pattern for a knit sweater. I crochet – I don’t knit – but I have found that while knitting doesn’t translate to crochet exactly, if I can figure out the pattern basics, I can use a knitting pattern as the basis for a crocheted garment. I grabbed some leftover yarn lurking under the bed and a crochet hook from the "hook book" and after some hours of work, “Shirley Anne, American Farm Girl,” had a new sweater of many colors. At first I was disappointed when I ran out of brown yarn, but then I reminded myself that Shirley Anne, girl of the Depression, is about making do. 

Anyway, the sweater is just a prototype; I’m sure I could do better. KW