Sunday, August 28, 2011


You may recall that the last two summers I’ve had lots of fun and adventure logging at least one geocache by motorcycle in each county in Idaho and Oregon. Washington was my goal this summer and I wrote a blog last May about my first trip which covered north central WA. I already had many counties along the southern border as result of my trips to OR. I had been delaying my western WA jaunt because daughter, Hallie, who lives in Seattle with husband Nick, had been involved in a remodeling project.

The project was completed and it looked like the weekend of Aug 20th was good especially in view of a favorable weather forecast. I was a little apprehensive because I had rather severely aggravated an old back injury July 24th and was still suffering. Fortunately, bicycling and motorcycling doesn’t seem to bother it all.
I left on the 18th at 6:00 a.m. and got the first cache I needed in Skamania County at noon. The weather was beautiful but I was fighting a terrific headwind most of the first day. From there I worked my way around the perimeter with the goal of logging at least two caches ineach county. I could find only one in Cowlitz but after I got home I discovered that I had already gotten two there last year when I was doing the OR counties. I arrived in Raymond about 7:00 p.m. This is where Kathy’s father lived and taught music as a young man. It’s a beautiful area but the town has seen better days (at least I hope so).

The second day I was on the road again about 6:30 a.m. and it was foggy and a bit cooler. The first cache was at the base of a huge old stump just off the road. The second required an uphill hike of about 3/8 of a mile. I chose this purposely to get warmed up a bit. That morning was spent going up the Olympic Peninsula which is really spectacular. It’s mostly in a rain forest but by 10:00 a.m. the fog had dissipated and it was absolutely spectacular. Near the top of the peninsula I headed east to Port Angeles and that’s when the traffic became really bad. I headed south down to Shelton and then east to Vashon to catch the ferry. I had many problems getting to the ferry as I was trying to get a cache in Kitsap County. There had been a wreck at the exit I needed to get to that cache which caused me all kinds of problems. To make matters worse I must not have put the far northwest part of WA into the detailed map in my GPSr. So for all of those caches and most the following morning I was going without driving instructions. Of course, it was late Friday afternoon and the traffic was horrible. I finally made it to the ferry and things went well from there. It must have been about a 30 or 40 minute ride to Hallie’s and now my GPSr was back on the map. It was about 7:00 p.m. when I got to her place.

Hallie treated me like the King of Idaho. She had made my oat bran muffins, gotten skim milk and did everything she possibly could to make me feel welcome and comfortable. The next morning I headed out again at 6:00 a.m. with the plan that I would go north getting Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties before turning back southwest to meet Hallie and Nick at the ferry at Anacortes. I had a pretty good morning with most of my time spent on a very rural highway with lots of curves and hills going through thick woods (kind of like Arkansas) with a few small towns along the way.

After Whatcom County I headed southwest to the Interstate going as fast as I could as I was running a little late. I made it to Anacortes a little after noon and found Nick and Hallie in the ferry line. Unfortunately the ferry filled and we didn’t make it. I could not believe all the people over there. There was no way we were going to get on that ferry. Kathy and I will go over to the San Juan Islands to get that county at a later date. So we had lunch and got a few caches in the area before Nick and Hallie headed back. I decided to ride down to Oak Harbor and pick up my two caches for Island County. It was bumper to bumper traffic all the way (about 20 miles) but at least it was moving and a beautiful ride. I had to back track to Anacortes to get on the Interstate. That went OK for a while before getting into the worse traffic situation of my whole life. I must have endured two hours of moving about 5 mph for a little ways and then stopping and then resuming again at 5 or 10 mph before stopping again. And, of course, it was hot, especially on the motorcycle. It was after 7:00 p.m. when I got to Hallie’s and they were out so I just lay down on the floor in the hall in front of their condo door completely exhausted. As it turned out they had encountered the same traffic situation but exited downtown in hopes of getting out of it. However, some event was going on down there as well as a Seahawks game so it was just as bad. Seattle is a beautiful city when the sun is out but there is not enough money in the world to entice me to live there.

I was off again at 6:00 a.m. Sun morning heading south. By 11:00 a.m. I had finished the three counties that I needed down that way and I headed east toward home. It was a pretty nice ride especially crossing the Cascades on Highway 12. However, I was a bit tense because I was low on gas and ended up going the farthest I’ve ever gone on a tank of gas on the Triumph. The afternoon was brutally hot and I got home about 7:00 p.m. again. So I had four 13 hour days in a row although I wasn’t on the bike the whole time of course. Anyway, I was pretty tired and my butt needed a rest.

Washington wasn’t quite as much fun as Idaho and Oregon because of the population density and tourism in the western part of the state. Of course, Oregon had its share of that as well in the Portland area and on the coast. I’m glad those states are done and now I’m looking forward to some more wide open spaces such as Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and even Utah.

The first picture is Hidden Cove where I had lunch on the first day. Next is a house typical of the ones on Ellis St. where Vance taught music many years ago. The third one is of beautiful Ruby Beach on the Olympic Peninsula. Fourth is a cache at a guardrail well away from a road. Next is Mt. Rainier seen from the ferry and then a cache called "The Ugliest Car in America". M/W


I had intended to get out on my bike early this morning, but we slept in until 7:00 and that made my start later than I had anticipated. The sun was already hot and getting hotter.

There's a fire someplace -- I don't know where. Maybe someone can tell me. I could smell smoke in the night and the distant mountains are obscured by smoke.

Nellie was up for the run and my riding is stronger every day. I made it halfway up Plank's pitch before getting off to push the rest of the way. It's not my legs that give up but my air capacity. At least, that's what it feels like. But never mind -- once out of the hole the ride/trot went just fine. Nellie knows every old farm pond between here and the end of Miller Road and today she took advantage of them. She keeps up just fine and when I'm slow, she trots past me.

As I approached the end of Miller Road, the "old Shawley place," I saw a rattler in the middle of the road. "She" was as surprised as I and in a flustered manner started to coil but thought better of it and headed into the tall grass. It happened so fast I didn't have time to take a picture, and I wasn't going to chase after her. Nellie was behind me and already anticipating the turn-around, so that's what I did.

The ride back was fairly uneventful. I stopped in several spots to take pictures. The harvest on Miller Road seems to be over. The fields are now stubble and the equipment is gone.

Arriving at Dobson Road, I saw dust and knew that Mike was heading out, carrying his road bike in the pick-up to the spot on Russell Ridge Road where the gravel gives way to pavement. Nellie recognized the pick-up and arched her ears into a question mark. However, she knew to stick with me and we came on home.

Mike called me at noon from Craigmont to say he had finished his snack and was returning. (Maybe we're really going to enter the cell phone age after all.)

It's hot now -- 93 -- and getting hotter. It's 76 in the house. Mike closed all the windows before 10:00 and it's 76 in here -- comfortable enough. The thing is, I have this fallish urge to bake and I just don't dare because the propane stove belches out heat -- wonderful on cool or cold days but not in the summer. Once it gets hot in the house on a hot day, there's no way to get back from it until evening.

[Photo 1 was taken at the end of Miller Road. Little Canyon lies between me and the closer ridge, which is Central Ridge. Behind Central Ridge is Big Canyon and I don't know what we call the land beyond. I'll have to find out. The second picture is just a vista from Miller Road looking out toward the Clearwater River, which I guess would be north-ish. The last picture also looks north from Miller Road over a newly-harvested field. See the smoky haze.] KW

Saturday, August 27, 2011


We returned to Gilbert Friday (Aug. 26) after ten days in town. We didn’t mean to be gone from the farm so long, but with Mike’s road trip, physical therapy for his back, and Lewiston’s. “Hot August Nights” celebration, we decided not to make short trips back and forth.

We’ve spoken of “hot August nights” before – the phenomenon, not the celebration. In 1949 Harry found an electric fan for Mary Lou, who endured a long and difficult August labor as Chris came into the world. And when my mother went into labor on a hot august night 24 days later, my dad decided to postpone the hospital visit and take her for a pleasant evening drive. I think of those stories when August is hot and nights fail to cool – as now.

Thursday afternoon Mike and I attended the Roger’s Motors “Hot August Nights” celebration, free to all comers, including a barbecue for participants. Mike entered his ’65 Barracuda in the morning, and then the two of us went at 3:00 to walk around the lot, admire the cars, and wait for the barbecue. I made one tour and then sat in the shade as the thermometer across the street registered 101. Ice, pop, and water were provided but were hardly enough to keep up with the human need to stay hydrated.
The show was only a block from the Bernina Shop, and I honestly thought about taking myself there. However, I would have had to cross 21st Street on foot, one of Idaho’s most trafficked streets, at the busiest time of day. To drive there I would lose my parking spot. It was easy to talk myself out of making the effort.

So here we are at the farm. Mike rode his BMW ("the backroads Beemer") because he has an appointment in town on Monday and I came later in the Dakota loaded with Nellie, food, supplies, books, and sewing. I had suggested we just stay in town for the weekend, but Mike had it worked out in his mind (excuses to ride the motorcycle) and was anxious to get out of town. Just as well because Neighbor Pete called to say he would finish the repair work on our lane if we were coming up. That happened.

The hummingbirds are gone. I’ve cleaned the feeders for storage. And now we have some odd white butterflies with black markings, evidently the “pine butterfly” or “white pine butterfly.” We don’t recall seeing them before, and I don’t think they spell good news for the pine trees. Perhaps someone will read this who can give me learned info.

Being away during a hot spell was not good for my gardens, but I was surprised that the damage wasn’t worse. The squash revived with watering and I picked two zucchini just right for grating and we'll have yellow squash for dinner.

Farmer Kyle is harvesting now. I waved to him as I “sped” by his operation on my morning bike ride. Unfortunately there’s nothing on our place to harvest this year, so he won’t be coming in here. We wonder how the lack of crops will affect the deer and bird hunting seasons.

I went to a seminar last weekend and the cookies served with lunch were delicious – chocolate chip, macadamia nut, coconut taken from the oven slightly underdone. I found such a recipe online and am anxious to give it a try, but it’s really too hot to turn on the oven. Mike will make homemade ice cream for dessert tonight.

Well, I’m off to the vintage sewing room to set up my machine and organize my projects. Later . . . KW

Friday, August 26, 2011


Happiness is a warm puppy, of course. Here's our 3-year-old granddaughter, Emerson, with her new Boston Terrier pup, Blanche.  (I'm sure there's a story behind the name. We'll find out soon.)

 As you can see, they have already established a mutual admiration society.
"Do you know a secret?"
 And -- they share the same birthday -- July 6.
Blanche, born July 6, 2011, now happily residing with the Mile High Warnocks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A while back, we entertained a few questions about growing beans as an agricultural crop "back in the day," and Chris recalled her dad telling her about hoeing beans when he was a teenager. She volunteered to ask him to refresh her memory and report back. Here's what she said:

"I had a chance to ask Dad about his experience hoeing beans.  He did it the summers he was 14 and 15, so that would have been 1937 and 1938.  He said he worked on Central Ridge.  The pay was $2 for a 10-hour day hoeing, and $2.50 for a 12-hour day during harvest.  He said he slept on the floor in a tool shed using a couple of quilts he'd brought, and that the food was good and provided as part of the job.  

"He said again that the farmer carried his checkbook with him (I was thinking it was a wallet), and if someone didn't do a good job on the weeds or sharpened his hoe too often, he'd pay him off on the spot and hire someone waiting on the sidelines.  Dad said each hoer had his own row and worked his way down.  He said he thought it was a good job to get.  I can't imagine.  Times are so different now.  I think he said the name of one of the farmers was Mossman, and he mentioned another but it wasn't familiar to me. 
"Oh, and he said they were 'regular' white or red beans, sounding like small red beans and navy beans."
That's just great information. And you know, hoeing isn't an easy job. You have to get down under the weed and lift it out by the root, not just chop off the top. And hoeing acres of beans! Well -- it boggles my mind. And to think we had the kids do it! I'm sure it was a good kid job. Not only is he earning money, but he's eating and sleeping away from home.What could be better? 

Now I wonder how many times the beans had to be hoed between planting and harvesting. Does anyone know?
Neighbor Pete recently recounted how his dad used to tell him stories about the good old days at Gilbert. "You know," Pete said, "I got so tired of hearing about those things. Dad would tell it over and over and when he got real old and began to make mistakes in his stories, I'd correct him. And now do you think I can remember those old stories? I would give anything to hear Dad tell me again." I suppose it's that way for most of us. We should do more oral history work.
[The picture above is of my childhood friend, Chris, with her dad, Harry. Harry and Mary Lou live in the house they built where Chris mostly grew up, and they're the only people I can think of in my old hometown who are still right where they were when I was a child. I'm comforted by that.] KW

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Mike left at 6:00 a.m. Thursday on his bright orange Triumph "Street Triple R," I think it's called, for destinations on the Washington coast. His goal was to continue his quest to obtain one geocache in every county of Washington state. He spent Thursday night in Raymond, where my dad lived for 14 years, and then he rode north to Seattle and spent Friday and Saturday nights with Hallie and Nick. He says they treated him like a king.

So, Nellie and I had a mini-vacation here at home. Well, I had the vacation. I don't think Nellie liked it too much. But it got worse for her instead of better because I went on a day trip to Richland, WA, on Saturday (Aug. 20). Everyone Nellie knows was unavailable to exercise her, so she just had to wait in her kennel. Boy! was she glad to see me upon my return! After greeting me, she fell to eating the food I left for her. When she feels insecure, she hoards her food.

Mike will be back before supper, so that meant dealing with a few things today, mainly the store of food in the kitchen. Hot though it is -- 100 at this writing -- I pre-heated the oven and made oat bran muffins, banana bread, and peach cobbler. (I inadvertently left the sugar out of the cobbler dough. How disappointed I am!) Then I had to decide how to use the zucchini I brought back from the farm. I grated enough for two batches of bread and decided to use the rest in a casserole.

This recipe for "squash creole" has languished in my recipe box since Mike and I were married. It had been his, so I was certain at one time he had liked it well enough to copy it from a neighbor. But the recipe was written in such fragmented style that for years I ignored it. Last year I worked with it and discovered it to be tasty indeed. But I still had questions, so today I asked my laptop if she had any knowledge of such a recipe. She did! And here is my new, improved recipe.

4-5 medium zucchini, unpeeled and sliced thin (about what you'd think, my grandmother would say)
3 T melted butter
3 T flour
1 T brown sugar 
1 t salt
1/2 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 2 canned) -- I used a can of diced tomatoes, drained.
1 small green pepper
1 small onion (I use lots of green pepper and onion.)

Parboil the zucchini for 8 minutes, drain and set aside. Make a sauce of the flour, butter, brown sugar, salt, bay leaf and cloves. Add tomatoes, green pepper, and onion. Cook 5 minutes. In greased casserole dish layer zucchini with the sauce alternately. Then cover with monterey jack cheese and bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Friday, August 19, 2011


When I was a little girl in the ‘50s, women still carried handkerchiefs, or hankies. I’m sure the popularity of hankies amongst younger women was waning somewhat in favor of more sanitary disposable tissue, but hankies could still be found in the marketplace and older women certainly carried them and probably considered them a sign of gentility. I well remember a hankie being pulled from a pocketbook or clutched in the palm of a hand.

Even when I was a young adult, displays of beautiful handkerchiefs were still found in department stores and women’s specialty shops.  Occasionally a woman might treat herself to a new handkerchief, and the gift of a handkerchief was a rather classy yet inexpensive way to remember someone. A “handkerchief shower” might be given to honor a woman, perhaps as she was leaving the community for a new home, for example. Each guest would bring a handkerchief – some in flat boxes called folders and some enclosed in cards – to be opened by the honoree. 
I happen to have a lot of handkerchiefs. A conservative estimate is fifty – and that doesn’t count Grandma Ina’s fifteen. After 40 years of ignoring them, I was recently inspired to locate and spread them out on a bed, and I have to admit that though some of them seemed familiar, I couldn’t remember anything about them. I expect I dismissed hankies as useless. “It’s just a keepsake,” I can hear my mother saying. “Just tuck it in your drawer; it doesn’t take up any space. It was so thoughtful of ‘so-and-so’ to remember you.”

Thankfully, some of the hankies were identified. I found three with “Grandma Portfors” written on little slips of paper carefully tucked in a fold. A few other hankies were identified in like manner. One, still in wrapping paper, carried the message, “For Kathy upon Nina’s initiation into Eastern Star, from Una.” And I remembered how unhappy I had been because Nina received many hankies on that occasion and I didn’t understand why she should be so honored. Perhaps the hankie came from Una’s purse to placate a five-year-old Kathy.

The only handkerchief I really remembered was a beautiful lace number with beading. Taking another trip down memory lane, I recalled how my friend Marcia bought me that beautiful handkerchief one evening as we were shopping (about 1973). I tried to dissuade her, but she loved handkerchiefs and insisted I should have one. The saleslady pulled hankies from the glass case at Marcia’s request, much as you’d ask to see items at a jewelry counter. That handkerchief is now the only one I really remember. 
Handkerchiefs gradually faded from the scene, and I know something about that, too. When I was pregnant with my first baby in 1977, Bennie, my mother-in-law, sent me a baby bonnet she had fashioned out of a lacy off-white handkerchief. It came with a little poem about how the baby would wear the bonnet home from the hospital. If the baby was a girl, she would carry the hankie on her wedding day, and if the baby was a boy, he would give the hankie to his bride to carry on their wedding day.

In 1979, as I was having my second child, here came another little bonnet with the same poem enclosed. Clearly, this baby was to be blessed with his own bonnet.

In 1981, before Hallie was born, Bennie asked what she could do for the baby, and I mentioned the handkerchief bonnet. She gave me a dubious look, and I thought perhaps I had overstepped my bounds, but she didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but before the baby was born, her special bonnet from Grandma Bennie arrived. Sometime later, Bennie explained that it had been difficult to find a hankie for the 1979 bonnet and in 1981, it had been all but impossible. The store where she bought handkerchiefs had discontinued them, she said. She had asked here and there until she found one that would do.

So, this is my own little history of handkerchiefs. Do you have handkerchiefs? And if you do, do you think we should treasure them as they are, or do you think we should find ways to use them?

[Photo 1: I no longer remember how most of these handkerchiefs came into my collection. The grouping of dark ones are men's dress handkerchiefs that belonged to my dad. The bucking horse with bright yellow edge is a scarf -- maybe a bandana -- commemorating the Pendleton (Oregon) Rodeo. It has a quarter inch hole in the middle. 
Photo 2: Children had hankies, too, and this photo includes some of my children's storybook or character designs.
Photo 3: This photo focuses on a few of my least favorites. The reason I separated those out will be the subject of another post.
Photo 4: Ina's collection of hankies. One with wide lace edging is well worn, obviously a favorite. Others seem new. Ina passed away in 1957, and the fact that these remained in the house indicates a waning interest in hankies at that time.
Photo 5 is Baby Hallie's hospital portrait. She's wearing the handkerchief bonnet that her Grandma Bennie made for her.]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I have 9 traps set for coyotes but have not got any yet. Julian Dobson, December 20, 1934

I got a coyote the next day after Xmas and one the next day.  Sent the pelts to Billings, Mont., and got the check yesterday and they only give me 25 cents each for them. I wrote them today and told them to send them back to me. They were nice hides and well-furred. I will try some other fur house for them.  Julian Dobson, January 10, 1935

In comments at the post, “A Snake in the Grass,” Leah wrote about problems with aggressive coyotes near her housing community. She reports that recently coyotes have attacked and killed small dogs as they were being walked on leashes by their owners, who are elderly women. This fits with what I heard through the news several years ago – that coyotes in urban areas are becoming aggressive, attacking dogs and even children. 

At the farm, we hear coyotes yelping or yodeling during the evening and sleeping hours. Sometimes the cries are in the distance and sometimes quite close. Last week I swear they had a rendezvous and the yelping and yodeling went on for hours and involve more voices than usual. I imagined that several packs had come together with ensuing discussion over territory rights. The other night I heard just one random call, and I thought it was quite close – not farther than the hill beyond the front yard.

We often see coyote sign on the road, even in the lane, but last week – about the time of the rendezvous – Mike identified fresh scat in the yard that appeared to be coyote. We hate to think of them coming that close, especially when we’re here. 

Daytime coyote sightings are infrequent. Riding my bike on Miller Road a couple of years ago, I caught sight of one running ahead of me at some distance and didn’t see it again. Sometimes we see one moving through a field. I can’t remember ever seeing more than one at a time.

As Chris pointed out some time ago, coyotes are my friends in the great rodent war, so I cut them some slack. (Not that I have a choice.) Do I worry about Nellie? I don’t think one can ever totally let the guard down, but I believe her house in the woodshed is a secure place and she doesn’t roam on her own. Neighbors say they have never known coyote to bother dogs in this area.

We also hear coyote on a regular basis at the “town house,” which is actually in a development on the outskirts of town. We even see them in daytime, sitting on the edge of the road. Some see the coyote as predator and are put off while others echo the sentiment that they kill pesky rodents, a good service to mankind. But, where they lose their fear of humans and become aggressive, they are a problem. 

[The photo is of my grandfather, Julian Dobson, taken in 1935. Coyote pelts are still in demand, according to online research. I believe my grandfather was doing what he could to bring a little extra money into the family coffers. And besides, the coyotes probably preyed on the chickens and other vulnerable farm animals.] KW

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


When my dad was a boy growing up at Gilbert, Idaho, the kids went everywhere regardless of who owned which piece of property. Exploring was not discouraged, and Little Canyon was a wonderful playground. But I didn’t grow up at Gilbert, and coming to live here a century later, I find that I don’t know the rules – where I can and can’t go, whether it’s okay to pick the fruit, etc. So, when I found cherry trees back on the rim of the ridge, I didn’t know if I could go ahead and pick them or if I should ask the owner first. Mike and I decided we should ask. (I should add that this community consists of four families, all of us descended from homesteaders or early settlers.)

We were getting ready to return to town this morning when Mike asked if I wouldn’t like to take time for a bike ride. Well, since he mentioned it . . . I put on my riding togs and got ready to go. Nellie looked interested – even excited – until Mike found a garter snake in the yard. It slithered under some violet leaves near the faucet, and Nell went on point. There was no convincing her that the bike was leaving and she should give up her quarry. So, I rolled out of the yard, down the lane, and climbed up, up, up out of the natural bowl where our farm home is located - but without Nellie. Checking at our mailbox, I found a fat mailer with my name on it. I knew what it was, so I stopped long enough to open the mailer and slip the furry cover over my bike seat. Ahhhhhh!

On down the road I went, and when I came within sight of the cherry owner’s house, I saw that the front door was wide open and the dog was in the yard. A good time to stop and chat about fruit trees, I thought to myself. So, I wheeled into the yard and the dog made my presence known. Kathy – her name is Kathy, too – came out and we had a nice long chat.

I asked about the cherry trees. She said they hadn’t picked fruit in years – too busy working. She said she had observed cherry trees growing in a number of places and pointed to one on the road. (Why can't they volunteer on my road?) She said they used to make applesauce and can apple pie filling. Well, I said, I also wanted to ask about the apple tree at the Senter place. I explained that I had picked a few apples as we cut wood there last fall and the pie was excellent.

“I’ll tell you where there’s a good apple tree,” she said. And then she described the big apple tree in the steep part of the lane on the road right-of-way off June’s place. (Remember, Hallie? We pruned some blackberry bushes in there last year.) “That’s just an awesome tree!” she said.

“Oh,” I laughed, “so you’re telling me I should stick to the fruit on my own property.”

“Not at all,” she said, “but the fruit on that tree is awesome.”

We visited a long time – about how working cuts into creative time, the love of sewing, the difficulty of keeping up with housework, our children and grandchildren, education today, Facebook, etc.

“I must go,” I said at last. “Mike will wonder what happened to me.”

“I have to go to work!” she exclaimed.

So, as I left I wondered if I had gotten a definitive answer to my questions, but then she called, “I hope you get some good cherries!” 

[The historic photos were evidently taken by Myrtle Dobson and presented to her mother, Ina, for Christmas 1912. At that time Myrtle was about 18. I believe that these pictures were taken in Little Canyon, but I have not seen these formations myself. The third photo is of Nellie pointing a garter snake this morning.] KW

UPDATE: Written on the back of another copy of the first photo: "What we called the Pyramids -- across the creek and upstream from Aunt Maude's place, 1912." So that definitely identifies the place as Little Canyon.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Yesterday I talked to a neighbor who reassured me that exploration of the ridge was not out of line for those who live here. I described where I had explored, and he explained that the property in question was actually on the original homestead of my great-Uncle Ben Dickson, Ina's brother. That farm is now owned by friends, a family with whom we have an established relationship. Feeling more confident, today I gathered my husband and my dog and headed back to "pie cherry heaven." Yes, I picked a few cups of cherries -- enough to make a cobbler for supper -- and Mike discovered the best vista of Dworshak Dam and reservoir to date. Here are the photos.

Note the clouds. A cold front moved through during the night leaving us with a cool day. I wore a sweatshirt all day.

I was just thinking that ordinarily we would feel the excitement of a pending harvest in the air, but not this year. The fields are brown and barren due to the cold, wet spring.

Where we stood today, however, on the edge of a field, the grain is ripening. I don't think any planting was done this spring on this end of Russell Ridge, so this field must have been planted last fall. (Sorry -- I'm not a great identifier of grain. Perhaps I'll get better.)

I hope you enjoy these pictures and that you can see the dam as well as the reservoir.

Now my next goal is to locate Russell Ridge from the dam. KW

Saturday, August 13, 2011


In June 1983, I left my three children in the care of my mother and sister while Mike and I attended a bankers’ convention in Sun Valley. I liked to visit the quaint little shops in the resort, one of my favorites being the children’s shop. Of course, Sun Valley caters to the rich and famous and the little outfits for fast-growing children were out of my price range.

Summer was fast approaching, though, and 16-month-old Hallie, our last child and only daughter, was in need of a swimsuit for our frequent outings to the beach at Hells Gate State Park. I fell in love with a cute little suit in pink and white checks with ruffles on the bottom, but it was way too much to pay. It just was.

But on the sale rack was a little suit marked down – way down -- to $15. It was very plain – deep blue with hot pink trim – but I decided it was something I could afford to take home to my little girl.

Little did I know at the time how cute that little suit would be when stretched over that little person. And little did I realize at the time that it was just her style. (Hallie likes a feminine style without frills.) It made my day when a woman walking the beach took one look at her and chuckled in delight. “That’s the cutest thing on the beach!” she said.

[The photo is one of my favorites -- Hallie on the beach at Hells Gate State Park at 18 months, summer 1983. Behind her in the light blue trunks is her big brother Clint, who was 3.]

Friday, August 12, 2011


While at the farm, I ride my mountain bike five to ten miles every other day. Usually Nellie accompanies me and keeps up quite nicely – or perhaps I should say that I keep up quite nicely. Sometimes she trots right by me. If we go fairly early while it’s still cool, we both fare better.
Tuesday (Aug. 9), we went to the end of Miller Road, about five miles from the farmhouse. Mike gave us a head start, and then he joined us for part of our ride. That pushed us a bit, I think, and the ride / trot tired both of us. 

Wednesday, I decided to ride again, even though I wasn’t up for it. Nellie looked excited as I mounted my bike, but initially she didn’t follow. “But we went yesterday,” she seemed to say, as I looked back over my shoulder to where she stood. “Aren’t you coming?” I called just as my bike gathered momentum. Soon she was with me, even ahead of me. I have to push my bike up Plank’s Pitch, so Nellie has plenty of time to poke around on the flat while she waits on me.

But traveling on down Miller Road, I noticed Nellie was lagging a bit, and I didn’t feel energetic either. When I came to the spot where I can see the reservoir, I decided to park my bike and search again for a better vista of Dworshak Dam and the reservoir. 

At this clearing an old road begins to skirt around the brow of the hill just below a field.  Perhaps it was once the approach to a home site. Yes, I know -- even though no one lives there now, the land actually belongs to someone – one of our neighbors – and I didn’t have permission to be there. However, I was on foot with my dog and I believed I might be forgiven this transgression. Surely everyone deserves to understand the lay of the land. 

It felt as though we were trudging on and on, but it really wasn’t so far. We passed some sort of vine on the uphill side that reminded me of grapes, and that strengthened my opinion that this had once been someone’s home. Watching through the trees for the reservoir, I finally spied it. Yes! There it was – the reservoir and the dam, just visible through the heavy vegetation. I snapped a couple of pictures and a feeling of satisfaction washed over me because I had found this spot.

I then decided to walk on a little farther. Just a little farther, I said to myself. And I came to a place where the road was overgrown with bushes. I lifted and passed through them – and found myself in pie cherry heaven. I mean – the angels sang the big soprano chord – “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” What beauties those cherries were, hanging lush and ripe on the branches. There were two trees – one on either side of the overgrown road. 

Now the conflictive issues washed over me. It was no longer just a question of having trespassed to take a few pictures. Now I knew the assets of the place and the temptation, however momentary, to want what isn’t mine. It’s a shame, I think, that this wonderful treasure is just being ignored – and it is a shame! -- but it’s none of my business.  So, Nellie and I turned around and walked back out of this old place. After all, I have my own heaven right where I am. I don’t need to trespass. KW

Thursday, August 11, 2011


In the 1970s, which some call “back in the day” but I call “yesterday,” hand-embroidered shirts were a popular handwork trend. I embroidered several shirts, and I also made a western shirt for Mike and hand-embroidered the embellishments on the front and back yokes. As I worked I wondered what would eventually become of the shirt. Fast forward 25 years and there it is in the bottom of my rag basket. I just couldn’t bring myself to discard the embroidery work.

Enter ideas by way of Vintage Notions, compiled by Amy Barickman as a tribute to Mary Brooks Picken. Barickman credits Mrs. Picken as “the first American authority on home arts and founder of The Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, Pennsylvania.” Mrs. Picken founded her school in 1916, and through it she revolutionized sewing for the American homemaker. Through Vintage Notions, Barickman re-presents some of the ideas and instruction coming out of Mrs. Picken’s school. It was here I discovered the idea I needed to preserve my handwork in the article, “Men’s Shirts Put to Feminine Use” (pages 30-31).

So, I took the old shirt from the rag basket. First I ripped out the sleeves and opened the underarm seam in the body of the shirt. In order to preserve the embroidery, my shirt would not follow the “Magic Pattern” instructions exactly, so I was feeling my way along. I simply cut the front of the shirt away under the front yokes. The back of the shirt became the front of the apron with the front yokes lying over the shoulders. 

The instructions state that it's possible to make two aprons from one shirt. However, two aprons is not possible in my case. The thing is – in order for the apron to fit me, I really need a bigger man’s shirt. (A bigger man wears a bigger shirt, if you catch my drift.) So, I opened the sleeves flat, sewed them to the shirt back (front of the apron),and then used an apron pattern to shape the sides and hem. Then I was ready to apply the bias tape. When I thought I had finished it, Mike said he thought aprons should have pockets, so I ripped the pockets (without flaps) from the shirt and applied to the apron, buttons and all.

I admit the apron feels a bit awkward. Mrs. Picken’s apron instructions (there are several) called for a little more shaping than I could do because of the embroidery. But, it’s pretty hanging in my kitchen and that's what I wanted. It’s an idea I cherished that has come to fruition. KW