Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I can’t say why I love recipe pamphlets – you know, the kind that manufacturers such as Kraft, General Mills, Dole, Campbell’s, etc., publish to encourage us to use their products. I used to clip order forms for such pamphlets from magazine ads and send away for them. They ought to give them to us – even pay us to take them -- but usually they ask something for them, if only postage / handling. These days I don’t “buy” so many, but I’m still interested, especially in those published prior to 1970. (1970 denotes modern times to me.)

I recall the day in 1991 when we were cleaning out the basement at the family home in Orofino. We pulled open a drawer packed with recipes, appliance manuals, product-specific leaflets and pamphlets, etc. I hadn’t seen them before – at least, not as a whole collection. Mother simply stored them away because she could. As I declared my interest in this treasure trove, my half-sisters rolled their eyes and told me to have at it.
So, I have some pamphlets that came from Mother, a few that were Grandma Ina’s, and of course, some that are mine. These pamphlets / booklets abound at antique and thrift stores, but I usually don’t pay much attention. It has to be meaningful on some level for me to buy in.

Meaningful -- like the other night when I was listening to a podcast of an old Fibber McGee and Molly radio program, c.1950, sponsored by PET evaporated milk. The announcer was advertising “Everyday Dishes that Taste Like More,” by Mary Lee Taylor. Tune in on Saturday morning, he was saying, to hear Mary Lee Taylor share the “recipe of the week” over most of these NBC stations. In my sleepy state, I made a mental note to tune in – and then realized this happened in “old time” and wasn’t a “real time” possibility. But my curiosity was piqued. 

An internet search revealed some history about Mary Lee Taylor. She was a nutritionist and home economist as well as an accomplished chef, I read. But digging deeper I learned that Mary Lee Taylor was a pseudonym created by Erma Perham Proetz, who handled the PET evaporated milk account at the Gardner Advertising Company in St. Louis, MO, from 1923 until her passing in 1944. Mrs. Proetz developed a test kitchen for PET and became the first “Mary Lee Taylor” on radio. 

So, in Mrs. Proetz I discovered another wonderful retro woman. In her lifetime, she was an award-winning advertising executive and mentor to other women. Posthumously, she was the first woman elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame. As for “Mary Lee Taylor,” I’m afraid I don’t know what happened to her. The Saturday morning cooking series was the longest-running cooking program on radio, beginning November 7, 1933 on CBS and concluding October 9, 1954 on NBC. Whatever happened to Mary Lee, the folks at PET Milk aren’t saying. They don’t even mention the radio program in their history timeline. 

Anyway, on a lark I decided to see if I could find the recipe pamphlet, “Everyday Dishes that Taste Like More” on Amazon – and I did! So, I ordered it. And it came.

“Bet those recipes are laden with fat,” observed Mike, alias “Jack Sprat.” 

But I didn’t think they were so bad. And anyway, I know how to fix them.  KW

Sunday, April 24, 2011


“I feel like I did you some good,” my mother would say. That usually meant she had been able to solve some sort of problem for me. Perhaps she mended a shirt or dusted or whatever. By doing these good deeds, she had “done me some good.” But when I used the phrase in conversation the other day, Mike said he had never heard it and didn’t know what it meant.

Several people wished us a good time prior to our weekend trip to Boise, but the “rescue Milo” mission felt heavy. Our son Milo is going through a divorce. I mention it because it’s a matter of record and besides, if we haven’t been through it ourselves, we probably know several who have. Some, like Milo, have to rebuild their lives. 

“We could board Nellie instead of taking her with us,” I suggested to Mike. “It would do her good – get her acclimated for longer stays.”
“Oh, I don’t think she’d like it,” Mike replied. (I'm not sure we treated the children with as much deference as we do the dog.)  

So, Mike sought out a pet-friendly Super8 Motel in Boise, and Nellie rode along. She’s a good traveler, but I’m just not sure she truly appreciates the experience. She expresses her opinion freely – rarely vocally but by body language. Something about this trip had her out of sorts. Perhaps it was the cramped quarters because she had to share her space with a bike frame, work stand and toolbox. The best of the two-day experience for her was that someone gave her a hot dog and she was allowed to clean up the mess where 18 raw eggs splatted onto the driveway.

We left for Boise at 6:30 Good Friday morning. We made one geocaching rest stop on the way down. If you know the area, we left Highway 95 and crossed the Salmon River at Lucile. The photo above is of Mike and Nellie trying to locate the cache, which proved to be behind them. (I found it.) We were with Milo by 1:30 p.m. (MDT).

The first order of business was to put together a bicycle for Milo. The frame of his had broken, so they used an old frame from Mike’s storehouse of spare parts. First they removed usable components from Milo’s bike, then rebuilt on Mike’s frame. Both Mike and Milo are good amateur bicycle mechanics. The work went quickly and was mostly finished on Friday.

Saturday morning we shopped – mostly at Winco. But we made other stops, including Jo-Ann Fabrics. It was a nice big store, but the only remnants available were fleece. Not what I wanted. Disappointing. 

Saturday noon we picked up Milo’s two boys – Mason (10) and Gage (almost 7). After lunch at McDonald’s, we drove out to Fort Boise where we hiked and Grandpa Mike helped the boys find geocaches -- what else? Unfortunately we removed bags from the car to make room for the boys and inadvertently left behind the caching maps which are helpful. So, we cached at Fort Boise, then drove to another park, then drove back to Fort Boise. 

The Fort Boise area includes hiking / biking trails and affords a spectacular view of the city. You can see the Idaho State Capital Building in the photo above.

The photo to the right is of Milo, Mason, Mike and Nellie at a city park. The one below includes Gage on the platform.
The boys worked up an appetite by mid-afternoon, so it was back to McDonald’s for more burgers.

I guess it was close to 4:00 p.m. when we said our farewells to Milo and the boys. We were home by 8:40, having gained an hour’s time -- from Mountain Zone back to Pacific. 

Anyway, despite a busy schedule and some heavy issues, we did have a good time – and I believe we “did some good.” KW

Monday, April 18, 2011


The tax season is winding down, and Mike spends less and less time at the office. We’re anxious to get started with warmer weather activities, but it just isn’t warm yet – not really. 

Saturday afternoon we decided to walk through Hells Gate State Park again and pick up more of the caches placed along the Snake River levee parkway to commemorate Lewis and Clark. This time I wore a t-shirt and sweater instead of a sweatshirt. The temperature was in the low 60s but the breeze was chilly. I was glad I had my sweater.

The first order of business was to bathe Nellie, who turned up green sometime during the morning, obviously having rolled in the wet grass. Mike threw a stick for her to chase into the water, then shampooed her and threw another stick for the rinse off.

“Look how pink the inside of Nellie’s legs are,” said Mike as we moved along the pathway.

“The water is cold!” I exclaimed. 

We found all of the caches we sought, but walking through the park wasn’t really comfortable. There were lots of campers – even the “C” loop was open for some sort of special medieval-looking camp-out and exhibition. Women in long shifts belted at the waist were watching the men “joust” in the arena. (“Jousting without horses?” questioned Mike.) I overheard one man ask another where the showers were, and the aroma of fresh strong coffee wafted through the air. So, apparently these folks don’t entirely eschew creature comforts. 

Sunday morning dawned bright but cold after windy overnight conditions. Mike asked me help him place the drip system in the garden, and I stepped outside to find it deceptively cold despite a temp of 50. It wasn’t pleasant working in the wind, so our garden is still unplanted. Maybe it’s for the best since it was 32 when we got up this morning.
I started reading Jalna by Mazo de la Roche this weekend. My interest was piqued when I read that Ina recommended the series to Vance. Prior to its publication as a novel in 1927, de la Roche submitted it to Atlantic Monthly magazine and was awarded a prize of $10,000. She subsequently wrote 15 more novels over the next 30 years about the Whiteoak family, Jalna being the family’s Canadian estate. The copy I’m reading was reprinted by Fawcett in 1966. The cover reads, “one of the great romantic bestsellers of our time,” but I think it’s really more of a family saga than a romance novel.

And Mike’s reading? He finished The Brethren by John Grisham and since the local library is closed on Sunday and he had nothing else to read, he decided to borrow my copy of Winnie-the-Pooh, which was mentioned in a program we watched. I asked what he thought of it, and he said he would enjoy reading it to a child. He’ll doubtless get to the library soon, but I know Mike – he will have to finish Winnie-the-Pooh before he will allow himself to move on. 

Oh -- and I just want to mention here that Mike's son, Murray, at age 47 and 3/4, is running the Boston Marathon today. He has been working toward this event for months and has had his challenges as he prepared. Mike called excitedly a while ago to tell me Murray was halfway through the race. KW

Saturday, April 16, 2011

JUST SEW . . .

It was Wednesday afternoon and I had a hankering to sew – just sew. No tough reasoning, No difficult alterations. No fitting problems. Something I could start and finish in an afternoon. And that’s where doll clothes come in. I only had an hour or two at my disposal, and I could have spent that much time just deciding what to make. I would have to keep it simple, I told myself. Otherwise I would just have another unfinished object in a drawer or a storage bin. 

Then I remembered the little crocheted tops for American Girl dolls waiting for finishing touches. I had decided the tops would coordinate well with white cotton “pull-on” pants. I could make the pants and finish the tops and then I would have a feeling of accomplishment, I reasoned. And that’s what I did. In the pictures, my doll – “Shirley Anne, American Farm Girl” – models the outfits which will be donated to a silent auction in the fall.

I know the subject of dolls is not of general interest, but in searching the net for info on dolls, I have discovered that a lot of adult women – not all of them grandmothers -- find fulfillment in dressing dolls. Am I one of them? Yes – and I can be obsessive about that – an obsession the internet feeds. I’ll bet I spent a week downloading patterns for little garments, and when I had exhausted the available options, I wanted to keep right on downloading. As I said, it’s obsessive. 

There’s one thing about it – if you’re sewing for an American Girl doll, you almost have to have a doll at your disposal in order to fit the clothes. All 18-inch dolls are not created equal, and neither are the patterns. Patterns for 18-inch dolls carry a disclaimer unless specifically designed for the American Girl. Did I say I could avoid fitting problems if I sewed for dolls? That’s not really the case.

And now I’ve discovered another 18-inch doll – Madame Alexander’s Favorite Friends, evidently designed to be an affordable copy of the American Girl. I heard you could get them at Walmart, and so I took a tour through the doll aisle at my Walmart to see – just to see – if I could find them there. Oh yes, they had a nice selection at $29.00 each. I managed to walk away without putting one in my cart, but would it be so bad . . .  ? KW

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


My maternal grandmother, Nina Portfors, passed away suddenly in May of 1955 – just a few months shy of my sixth birthday. She lingered only a few days after suffering a stroke. My grandparents lived just a block from us, so her passing caused an unexpected adjustment.

Mother told me that in the months after Grandma’s passing she would feel her presence and influence whenever she sat down to sew, even a pull to finish Grandma's sewing projects. “I finally told her right out loud,” Mother said, “that she could come here if she wanted to, but things would have to be done my way.” 

My mother passed on 14 years ago, but sometimes she comes to visit even yet. Recently as I crocheted sweaters for American Girl dolls, I discovered that following the pattern resulted in something that didn’t exactly correspond to the picture. I hate to say the pattern is the problem. After all, it could be my misinterpretation or the wrong yarn or just plain inserting the hook in the wrong stitch. But I continue to work away at it, trying to improve my little sweaters.

In the midst of that effort the other day, Mother came to visit. Of course, it was just memory kicking in – or was it? I was suddenly about ten and learning to crochet. Mother was examining my work. “Oh, I see,” she said, “it’s increasing too much here.” That was it! Too much increasing was causing the front opening to swing out on both sides. The solution had come to me in the form of my mother’s voice. Back in the day Mother had helped me understand how to make the needed correction, and the same advice applied now. I saw what was wrong and began my own re-write of this troublesome pattern. 

A couple of weeks ago I emptied the contents of Mother’s button box onto the bar in my kitchen in order to take a picture. After that the button collection sucked me in as though it were a jigsaw puzzle. I stood at the kitchen counter for several hours sorting and matching – something I hadn’t intended to do. Absorbed in the sea of buttons, I suddenly became aware of Mother at my side.

Mother had tied some button sets together and those threads are now rotting and in need of replacement. Nevertheless, as I went to snip the thread, I felt a twinge of regret. Mother had tied this thread and I was undoing her “perfect work” so that I could replace it with new thread in my awkward way. Well, I just had to say to her, “You can come here if you want to, but we’ll have to do it my way.” We shared a quiet chuckle.

“This is like a jigsaw puzzle,” observed Mike when he came in. “Hallie would love this.” 

Yes, she would, I thought to myself, but she’s not the one who’s here today.

[The photo is the only one I have of just me and Grandma Portfors. We just didn’t take pictures back then the way we do now. Still – it seems strange to me that I was five years old before anyone thought to take this picture. Note that the film was processed in December 1955 but the photo is identified as Thanksgiving 1954.] KW

Monday, April 11, 2011


Since we were unable to complete the CRP application process with the FSA office in Orofino last Wednesday, an additional appointment was scheduled for today (Monday) at 9:00 a.m. at the farm. The earlier the better, we thought, since Mike had appointments at TaxTyme this afternoon. We left the town house at 7:30 in what we "Inlanders" call a heavy rain. Seems like it didn't let up all the way to the farm, and it rained all the while we were there. Frankly I stayed in the house while Mike met with Farmer Kyle and the NRCS rep. They made quick work of the property review and recommendations. The scheduled meeting was over before 10:00 and we didn't linger at the farm. We were home for lunch.

Since it was raining, we took very few pictures. Mike took this one to show the damage caused by flickers to the front windows (east dormer) of the farm house. This is old wood and rotting and in need of better protection. Our original general contractor has agreed to repair the damage and install steel coverings for all the window facings to prevent such damage in the future. More on that at a later date.

And here's a picture of the pond full of water.

The little cherry tree is budding out and looks good. The daffodils I planted last fall will soon bloom on the slope behind the house. And the "Crown Imperial" by the front steps looks strong and healthy though it has yet to bloom. A few warm days would transform the world.

Uncharacteristic of us, we did not take Nellie along on this quick trip. By the time we arrived back at the town house, the sun was shining but the wind was blowing. I found Nell in the the back bathroom where she seems to feel safest in a windstorm. KW

Sunday, April 10, 2011


My dad had many talents, but mechanic-king wasn't one of them. So, one day -- let's say it was 1978 -- he showed up at our house with his "old" garden rototiller. He had noticed Mike's love of tinkering with lawn mowers. "If you can fix it, you can have it," he said to Mike; "I'm buying a new one." Mike fixed it, and then we had a tiller. Our garden plot was small and we never would have considered buying a tiller, but over the years we have appreciated that gift. It served us well while we lived on 12th Avenue -- through 1986. Mike even tilled for our elderly neighbor. It served us well while we lived on Broadview -- the next 17 years. And we carried it with us to our present home where it continues to serve. Over the years it needed tune-ups and finally Mike put a new motor on it. Every spring he performed the needful fix and the tiller churned our little garden plot.

"I'm so exasperated by the tiller!" said Mike last week. His long recitation didn't mean much to me -- kinda like an adult sounds to Charlie Brown. You remember the muted trumpet: waa waa waa waa waa waa waa."

"You know what you can do," I replied, meaning that we could buy a new one. I figure it was at least 10 years old when we got it and that was more than 30 years ago.

"There's nothing wrong with it that can't be fixed," Mike stated. "I just can't figure out waa waa waa . . .

"We'd be paying to get rid of the exasperation," I told him, but then I had to consider all those reasons to keep the old tiller -- a small garden plot, the tiller small and portable, and somehow new is never better these days.

Eventually Mike gathered info from the small engine place and they gave him an old gasket at no charge. I had to wonder if that was a "we'll give you a gasket if you'll just go away" thing. And then -- like magic -- the old motor turned over again and the garden was tilled.

Tilling and setting up the watering system are Mike's contributions to the vegetable gardening process. The rest of the challenge is mine. KW

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Yesterday we made a quick trip to the farm because we had appointments in Orofino. And of course, there were a few geocaches on the way back which at least took me to some different photo sites.

The snow is gone now at Gilbert but the abundant rainfall has contributed to standing water. The weather was miserable as we drove in -- rain/snow at 38 degrees -- and it was sleeting as we drove out.  We stayed less than two hours.

The house looked as though folks had left hastily after Christmas -- a Christmas stocking here, a basket of holiday wrapping paper there, a stray ornament on the library table, boxed bubble lights on the piano bench, cans for recycling on the floor in the den, and (heaven forbid!) dirty dishes in the dishwasher to which I added a few more -- still unwashed. I visited my craft closet and the attic looking for sport-weight or fine yarns -- doll clothes making, remember? -- and my search was rewarded. Our main accomplishment was to clean the empty refrigerator and turn it on. I then stocked it with condiments, jellies and such, which have been stored in our garage in town. Assuming the weather will get warmer soon, I was glad to restore those things to a refrigerator.

The short stay and inclement weather made picture-taking difficult, but I managed a few. In photos above you can see the daffodils under the pine trees have yet to bloom, and a photo of the pond that shows it full to overflowing.

These photos were taken from the fork of Upper and Lower Ford's Creek Road (Orofino) across the Clearwater River to Highway 12. Although this is a location just outside of Orofino, I would never come here -- let alone stop here -- if it weren't for geocaching. You can see that the Clearwater is high and swift.

This picture I took at the pull-out at Cherry Lane on Highway 12 on the way back to Clarkston. Again, you can see that the river is high. KW

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Nature played an April Fool’s joke on us yesterday (Friday), a lovely, balmy day, making us think that spring and better weather were finally here.

 I shopped in the morning while Mike worked. In the afternoon the three of us (Nellie, too) enjoyed a geocaching hike at Hells Gate State Park. We failed to reckon with the fact that during this final weekend of spring break, many other families would be enjoying such a beautiful, warm afternoon. Traffic on Snake River Avenue was terrible (Idaho terrible -- not California terrible). I counted at least 20 camper units in the park.

It was so warm (75) that I was uncomfortable in my long-sleeved black sweatshirt. It was so warm that Nellie, who doesn’t like the heat, made several forays into the cold, cold water of the Snake River. Believe me, the river is still really cold, this being spring run-off. It won’t be warm enough for me until August and even then I’ll struggle to get in, but cold water doesn’t bother Nellie. She loved it when Mike threw a stick into the river for her to fetch. And when we came upon a young woman throwing sticks and balls for her golden retriever to chase in the river, Nellie said, “Hey, I know that game,” and joined in. We all laughed as Nellie stole the lab’s tennis ball which Mike subsequently returned to the owner surreptitiously. We might have exchanged pleasantries with that gal if she hadn’t been engrossed in a cell phone conversation.
About 9:30, as Mike was preparing to brush Nellie’s teeth and put her to bed, we noticed she seemed unusually nervous. Apparently she had noted the oncoming storm before we did. Lightning flashed, thunder clapped, the wind came up. The rain commenced just as Mike re-entered the house from the kennel. The initial heavy storm passed but the rain continued off and on through the night. I thought of the campers – especially the tent campers – at Hells Gate and was grateful for our snug bed.

Today is a chilly, blustery day and the forecast for the next week seems to indicate more unsettled weather. Therein lies the joke: yesterday was just a random warm day; the weather is still unsettled. My seed packets (peas and spinach) will remain unopened for now. As you can see, the crocus are gone and the daffodils are struggling against the wind. The rock garden needs to be "weeded." (The drought-tolerant perennials are weeds to some folks.) KW