Wednesday, November 30, 2011


“Spokane is just a big Lewiston,” our son Clint observed while he was still in high school. It’s the same stuff in the stores, he said -- just more of it. For years we had traveled to Spokane to get things we couldn't find in Orofino or Lewiston, but when I thought about it, I realized Clint was right. Change can be so subtle. 

Two weeks ago we drove to Spokane to pick up Mike's new pistol only to discover that paperwork had to be completed before the gun would be released to him. That meant we had to make a second trip for the gun -- and turns out we only had 30 days. So, today was the day for the return trip,and to make the trip count, Mike made a list of geocaches and I made a list of stores I'd like to visit.
We were off by 7:25 and were 20 miles out when I realized I had forgotten to eat breakfast – yes, totally forgotten. Fortunately I had packed some applesauce oatmeal raisin cookies. I called them breakfast cookies and ate two.

Temps were in the 30s. It was foggy and traffic was slow. Our first stop was the Horn School Safety Rest Stop where Mike found two geocaches. 

Then we stopped again at an exit called Plaza where he readily found another cache.

Our next stop was just past the tiny community of Spangle where the divided highway begins – about 18 miles from Spokane at the old Spangle Gun Club, which looks abandoned. Another vehicle was already parked at that spot  – a mini-van. The minute we stopped the driver, Dave, hopped out and approached us. He was driving from Rosalia, he said, and he erroneously thought he had enough gas to make it to Spokane. He was talking with roadside assistance and they couldn’t understand the location. He wondered if we had noticed the mile marker. We hadn’t, but Mike gave him the cords from the GPS, then set about finding the geocache.
Next time out of the van, Dave saw Mike poking around the base of a tree. “Are you getting a geocache?” he called to Mike. “Can my children join you?” Out of the van hopped two boys (7 and 9) and a little girl (4). Suddenly this unfortunate experience had become an adventure for the children. They each brought a trinket to exchange. Nellie was so happy to be with kids.
Once the geocache was re-hidden, Dave asked if Mike would drive him back to Spangle to get gas at a station there. Roadside assistance couldn’t get to him for an hour and a half, he said. We were happy to take him to Spangle, which was probably not two miles. He said more than once, “I’m so glad you folks stopped.”

Mike and I aren’t strangers to trials on the road and have been grateful for the help of strangers. It feels especially good to help people one-on-one. Mike and Dave got the van started, then we waved good-bye as they headed back to Spangle for more gas and we drove on to Spokane.

Since Mike’s errand was in Spokane Valley, we went directly there. While I shopped Target, Mike went to the White Elephant. While I shopped Hobby Lobby, Mike sat in the car and read the paper. While Mike visited the gun shop, I shopped Hancock Fabrics. Didn’t buy much anywhere – just looked around. KW

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


"Ma was a pretty woman with brown hair, blue eyes and fair skin. She had a sweet voice and sang well even when an old lady. Her hair never turned gray though there were "silver threads" among the brown when she died Sept. 14, 1920, at Bertha's house at Gilbert. She was always kind to everyone, always speaking a good word for the absent and defending them if ill-natured remarks were made. Her life was an example of Christian living, and she never preached to others. As Mrs.Dieterle once said to me, 'Her life is a prayer.'" 

Monday, November 28, 2011


On a previous post, Diane requested that I post the original recipe for my great-grandmother’s pork cake, and though I was willing I couldn’t find it. It occurred to me in the middle of the night that I hadn’t checked my recipe box. Sure enough – there it was – the original and my notes. I was relieved. That’s a good place to keep it.

My great-grandmother Lucy Ream Dickson was born in Ohio in 1843, the youngest of nine children. Her family was of German descent, and they spoke German in the home. Her father died when she was three, and her mother was unable to provide for her, so she was raised by another family. She married Marcus Lafayette Dickson in Hampshire, Illinois, on September 20, 1863. By 1881, they were living in Lakeview, Oregon. They had six children, including my grandmother, Ina Dickson Dobson.

Ina evidently considered “Ma’s pork cake” to be special, but at the same time, it’s clear from Ina's recipe notes that she didn’t just love it. What I appreciate about the recipe is that it’s clearly a family recipe, one that was used on special occasions and handed down through the generations.

Chop one pound fat pork thru chopper twice
1 pt coffee boiling; pour over fat.
2 c raisins
2/3 c citron
2 T orange peel chopped in food chopper
1 scant tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice (scant)
1 c good molasses
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder may be added
1 lb almonds put thru chopper to make about one cup meats –scant fat a little if nuts are used.

On the reverse side of the card Ina wrote the following:
½ tsp walnut flavor is an improvement. Citron, nuts, and orange peel optional.
1941 – Added a tsp of lemon extract and liked it better.

After initially experimenting with some pork fat, here’s how I re-wrote the recipe:

Kathy’s “No Pork” Cake
½ c butter
½ c applesauce
1 c coffee
1 c raisins
½ c Radiant mix
1 c slivered or chopped almonds
2 Tbsp orange peel
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ c molasses
½ c white sugar
½ c brown sugar
2 c flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
Bake at 325 in square pan for 45 minutes.

As you can see, I based my portions on half the original recipe. I substituted applesauce for half the shortening. As I recall, the end product was dry and not tasty. Some of the ingredients are rather expensive, so I decided to let the likes of Betty Crocker supply my fruitcake recipes.  After all, it’s clear that Ina wasn’t happy with it either.

And someone else didn’t like the pork cake – my husband. He later confessed that he found the whole concept of using pork fat “gross.” So that says it all. If the other half of my household is disinterested, there’s no point in further experimentation. KW
[The picture of a young Lucy Ream Dickson was probably her wedding photo. Myrtle Dobson, Ina's daughter, copied it from a daguerreotype when she worked for a photographer in Portland, Oregon. The second I scanned from a card of small portrait snapshots, probably taken by Ina about 1900.]

Sunday, November 27, 2011


We have a lot of gray days in our world. We see a lot of clouds in the valley with no precipitation. Ina called them "dull days." Today was one such dull day.

Mike decided Nellie should have a bath today. As intelligent and intuitive as she is, cleanliness is a concept that eludes her. Mike decided to bathe her in the tub, and once she was clean we decided her pillow should be washed, too. Mike brought in one of her old flat pillows while her new fluffy one was being laundered. Clearly she wasn't happy to see that old pillow. She raked it and crumpled it and turned twelve circles trying to make it right. Then she looked at us for an answer. Well, it's all fixed now -- a clean Nellie and a clean pillow.

Knowing of my interest in iris, Ken called me a few weeks back to say that his neighbor was digging out her iris bed and he had two large leaf bags of rhizomes for me . Since I had asked for the rhizomes, I didn't feel I could refuse, though I fought hard not to say, "Yes, but that was last summer!" Little did I expect this would come to fruition in November. I think the time to dig and re-plant iris is July or August or something. Oh well. I went and got the bags even though working in the garden has no appeal for me at this time of year. Today with Mike's help I managed to deal with one of the bags. I decided to just set them in the garden at the foundation of the house where the ground is soft and easy to dig. First we weeded, then we cleaned, trimmed, and clipped the rhizomes before setting them. I even found some bulb fertilizer which I worked into the ground. We'll see. It might all be for naught.

Then we went down to the bike path and were successful in finding a couple of geocaches for which Mike had been searching for some time. We thought the river seemed kinda high.

Well, the annual lighted boat parade was last night, and we missed it. I guess we didn't miss much -- only seven boats participated. KW

Friday, November 25, 2011


When I look at the “old guy” to whom I'm married, I marvel to myself that he is among those of mature age with at least one surviving parent. Mother Bennie is 97 now and lives in a care facility in Memphis under the watchful eye of Mike’s sister. Naturally we think of Bennie every day, but she was especially on my mind yesterday as I made Dr. Pepper Salad. Mike has been a Dr. Pepper fan his whole adult life, and Bennie evidently developed this recipe based on one for Coke salad.

Here’s the recipe for Dr. Pepper Salad as it came to me:

1 3-oz pkg black cherry Jell-O
1 7-oz can crushed pineapple
1 8-oz jar maraschino cherries
1 12-oz can Dr. Pepper
1 3-oz pkg cream cheese
½ to 1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans.)
Drain fruit and heat juice. Add Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Cool, then add Dr. Pepper. Place in refrigerator until it begins to gel. Add fruit, cheese, and nuts.

I confess I find this recipe a bit problematic. Black cherry Jell-O is requisite (it’s just not the same with regular cherry) and sometimes black cherry is hard to find. Only one store in Lewiston carries it. And I’ve never known what to do with the cream cheese. I mean – you just don’t add a block of cream cheese to Jell-O, even partially gelled Jell-O. After years of experimentation, I now drain the pineapple and cherries, chop the cherries, then gently blend the cream cheese with the fruit. Personally, I like the cream cheese to be a little chunky. If I over blend, then the Jell-O takes on a creamy look and the flavor of the cream cheese is overwhelmed by the sweet Jell-O.

Mike and I were newlyweds when I prepared this salad for a holiday extended family dinner. It was an instant hit, especially with the cousin tier. It is now a tradition at Thanksgiving though many pass it over. My own children aren’t fans. It’s really a dessert salad but we use it on the main buffet table.

I wish I had discussed the recipe with Bennie. I might at least have determined how she prepared the ingredients. But I didn’t talk to her about it because she never prepared it for us or mentioned it, and I’m not sure it was a recipe she treasured. I think maybe she made it for Mike and then she moved on from it. KW

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


“What a time you all had on Thanksgiving and what a big dinner. Mine didn’t come up to it – only we had pork cake and squash pie, too.” Bertha Dobson, 1935

[You can read more about Grandma Lucy Dickson's pork cake here . . . and here.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Nellie patiently waits as Mike bandages her forearm so that she can go hunting. Mike and Ken went out on short hunts both yesterday and today.
 And while they were out, I started making Christmas gifts on my embroidery machine. Pillowcases seem a natural.
Just because a machine does the work doesn't mean the operator can walk away. The machine has to be supervised for thread changes or any untoward thing that can happen, but while the machine was running I was able to clean this nearby hutch and set out my Pilgrim couple.I almost didn't since it's so close to Thanksgiving, but I will enjoy seeing them for a few days.
Nellie is resting comfortably on her big fluffy pillow. She is energetic, though, and willing to go with me for the evening walk. Mike said that she is doing really well in the field.

Saturday, November 19, 2011



One of our credit cards offered a bonus for expenditures Nov. 19-25, so I held off on the week’s grocery shopping until today.  I announced my plan yesterday and said that I would leave the house about 8:00 a.m. Mike decided to join in the fun.

We arose to about an inch of wet snow. We knew it wouldn’t last long here in the valley. The streets were wet as we drove into town. Looking out over the Snake River, I wondered aloud about the “Reflections on the Confluence” evening boat parade.

“That’s at Christmas,” said Mike.
So, I had to enlighten him. “Last year they had the boat parade ‘Black Friday’ weekend,” I said, “and that’s next weekend. And besides,” I continued, “it’s Christmas now.”

First stop: Walmart. It’s been years since I’ve baked for the holidays, but I’ve missed it, and this year I’m going to make some traditional goodies. I had fruitcake-making supplies on my list, and I was in a holiday mood. We made quick work of gathering what I needed.

Second stop: Albertson’s. We chose a turkey breast for our Thanksgiving meat and Mike volunteered to cook it on the grill. I gathered the rest of our groceries and was about finished when I remembered I forgot to buy the golden raisins at Walmart where they cost about half of Albertson’s price. Mike decided to go back and get them for me while I finished at Albertson’s. It seemed sorta silly but worked out well. I took a deep breath, slowed down, and thought of several needed items that weren’t on my list. Mike had good luck at Walmart – found the raisins and was able to check out quickly – and he returned as I was checking out.
Third stop: Costco. Costco was last because they weren’t open when we started. I was delighted to see that the fresh wreaths are available at $14.99. Since we no longer have a live tree, I insist upon a fresh wreath for the door. And I bought one for the front door at the farm, too. We bought nuts, dishwasher detergent, vanilla – you know, some things that it really pays to buy at Costco.  Then we were finished.
On the way home, we stopped to see little Mack, Ken’s puppy. He’s so energetic now. And he was so happy to see Mike! (He might have been happy to see anyone, but it makes a good story that he was happy to see Mike.)

So, this afternoon, after the neighborhood walk, I made a batch of Bennie’s No-Bake Fruitcake. Now my holiday “baking” is under way.

Researching for info on the boat parade I discovered it’s scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3, at 4:30 p.m.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Last Tuesday was the P.E.O. silent auction. You may recall that since last winter I have been busily sewing and crocheting outfits and items of clothing to fit the American Girl doll in anticipation of this event. One of our members has two granddaughters, ages 6 and 8, who own American Girl dolls, and she said she would be interested in my home-sewn creations.

I approached this project with the enthusiasm of a hobbyist. I augmented my stash of patterns and fabrics by shopping sales at Jo-Ann. The remnant bin there is my favorite place. I searched online for ideas and patterns and experimented with the ideas of other hobbyists, learning a lot in the process. I made everything in pairs because of the two sisters who play together. If I’d really thought it through, I might have planned wardrobes, but I figure there’s always next year. The girls turn 7 and 9 the first of the year.
I named my sewing endeavor “Gramma’s Scrap Bin” and ordered labels. Instead of sewing the labels into the garments, though, I created hang tags by photocopying the labels and gluing them to store-bought tags. I then tacked a decorative rose on each tag with needle and thread. I attached a hang tag to each garment with ribbon and a safety pin.  

And yes, the grandmother in question “bought” most of the outfits, making a nice donation to our chapter’s fundraising effort. She was the only interested party, however. Several members enjoyed looking at the outfits, but most of our members have great-grandchildren who are rapidly growing up. One member said she would gather information about her great-granddaughter’s baby doll and let me know. And I have a project to dress a Barbie doll for my half-sister’s great-granddaughter.

And what did I “buy”? A well-used, well-loved vintage Betty Crocker “Cook Book of All-Purpose Baking,” 1942. Original price: 25 cents. I was in competition with another bidder for it, but when she realized I wanted it, she quit bidding. Are these people nice or what? Undoubtedly I’ll be talking more about this little cookbook.

Another member, knowing that I’m looking for bits and pieces to make and embellish doll clothes, handed me a box including fabric remnants, leftover yarn, bits of lace, etc. Fun!

And I also brought home some beautiful scarves that didn’t sell because the owner didn’t want them. Well, there’s that handkerchief project. If nothing else, I can experiment with the scarves. KW

Thursday, November 17, 2011


“I was thinking I’d go to the farm today,” said Mike before he was out of bed. “I forgot about the mousetraps. We should check those.” I had a basket of things to return to the farmhouse and a list of things to get, so I was happy enough to go. We were there by 10:30.

The weatherman keeps saying a cold front will move through the area leaving us with snow at least at the higher altitudes. Every day the forecast seems to postpone the anticipated precipitation and cooler temps. But as you can see from the photos taken today at the farm, Ina’s words apply: “a dull day.”
We found only one trapped mouse though the area of Nellie’s dish was a veritable maze of traps, and it was clear that some mouse had had a heyday cavorting among them – perhaps the one that finally got trapped. However, I’m skeptical that there was just one. The trap in the oven had been sprung, so someone escaped with his life. And the sofa appeared clean and undisturbed.

Mike re-set the mousetraps, checked the pond, and started the dirt bike while I paid visits to the vintage sewing room and the attic. I gathered miniatures, vintage holiday magazines, storage bins with projects. Mike uncomplainingly loaded much more than he had carried in. I even grabbed a couple of things from the fridge.

We were at the farm barely an hour and returned to the town house for lunch.

Poor Nellie injured her leg while hunting with Mike and Ken on Tuesday. Unfortunately she is also under the weather otherwise (worms). She’s been feeling sorry for herself but we got her out for a good walk this afternoon and she helped in the kitchen while I fixed supper.KW