Friday, June 29, 2012


Mike was curious about a logging operation in the area, so this morning the two of us took a 4-wheeler ride to see what we could see. We couldn't see much, but I took the opportunity to increase my photo collection of wild roses in the area. They come in quite a variety of colors.

I've posted this bush before, located across the road from Neighbor Pete. We would love to have one in our yard but to date have been unsuccessful in transplanting. Pete says that homesteaders from North Carolina -- or maybe it was West Virginia, he says -- brought this beautiful yellow rose with them, and when they sold out, community members went there to get slips of the rose. He said passers-by have stopped at his house to ask for a slip of the bush, and he tells them to go ahead because he knows his neighbor doesn't care. (I really think the bush is mostly on the road right-of-way.) I might be wrong, but I think the wild roses actually do better if they are carried in by the wind or a bird.

This lovely red variety is located at Pete's late mother's house. I don't believe I've seen another red one. Very nice.


This one, located on the logging road, has more white than some. See the bee at work?

This rather picturesque setting at Plank's includes an old piece of farm machinery with lilac bush. The old rose bush is getting out of hand, I fear, and the lilac is being over-run. I'm thinking of asking the neighbor if he would mind if we trimmed the rose back so that the lilac has a chance. Last year Hallie, Nick, and I picked hips off that rose bush for their rose hip jelly.

And here's our bramble again, slowly coming into bloom. I've given it some systemic rose food so we won't be picking hips this year. But really -- there's no dearth of wild roses here -- on our property or the roadsides. KW

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We’re a week into summer, but it surely doesn’t feel like it. Yesterday our temperature was in the mid-50s while it poured rain, especially through the morning. We mostly stayed in the house, baking and pursuing our several online interests, though we did venture out for a late afternoon walk. We were cozy with a fire in the fireplace as if it were a fall day.

Look what the Clearwater County road department has done to Dobson Road. They scraped down to bedrock, pushing the gravel into the ditch or off the side of the road, leaving the road bed soft and subject to erosion. We are dismayed. Retribution on the part of the road crew? Maybe so. Apparently some of the residents on county roads demanded better services and this was the answer. I wish the road department had continued to do nothing. In addition, every spring they poison the roadside vegetation -- spirea, berry bushes, wild roses, and such -- to keep them from encroaching on the road. I suppose that’s understandable, but I’m sorry because the bushes then show only dead ugliness to the approach.

The forecast promises that the day will warm to the low 70s, but it was off to a slow start. Nevertheless I’m freshening linens – my mother’s vintage tablecloths – to give the century farm celebration the look of the past. I don’t know what I’ll be doing the night before the event (Oh no! -- Friday the 13th!), but it won’t be pressing linens. Nor will I be stitching on the table runner since I finished it last week. I rejoice in these things. Ina’s 1930’s dress – now that’s another story; it might not happen and I'll move to Plan B. And the slide show isn’t finished either, but if I can't finish it, maybe one of my computer-savvy kids will figure something out at the last minute.

I'm disappointed certain plans for an event don't come to fruition, and perhaps no one cares about these things but me. I remind myself that no one will miss what they know nothing about.We're coming to celebrate a family who lived in simplicity.

The hummingbirds are here, seemingly in force. I have to cook nectar daily now. They are so much fun to watch. Here are a few shots that Mike took with the “sports action” setting. KW


Monday, June 25, 2012


Mike and I had been in town for a week – appointments and various activities. Mike participated in the Idaho Senior Games, winning two firsts for target shooting with his new Browning pistol. He hadn’t planned to participate in the cycling event, but once he read about the route, he decided to sign up and took first in his age group. And Saturday he showed his Barracuda in the “Cruzin’ to Clarkston” show and enjoyed it.

As we left the town house Sunday morning, this unusual cloud formation caught my eye, and Mike stopped so that I could take pictures. What a beautiful sight! It was difficult to get the pictures against the sun. Mike the Manual Reader says there’s a setting for that.

Driving in to the farm, I was dismayed to observe that it hadn’t rained here much at all – lots of dust. We had a rather short but refreshing shower in town Saturday evening. You never know where those “scattered showers” will land.

We arrived here mid-morning, and I always think by the time we load up and unload, I’ve done a day’s work. Nevertheless, we both kept moving. I did laundry while Mike mowed and trimmed. The day was pleasant (77) with a cool breeze.

The gardens didn’t entirely die but were pretty thirsty. The spinach was wilted and the strawberries were parched. “Where have you been?” they demanded to know. But, some of the peas had sprouted and the lettuce is coming up. Oh—and one carrot. I have a terrible time with carrots.

The hummingbird feeders needed attention first thing. One was empty but the other still had some spoiled nectar and was difficult to clean. Next time I’ll just empty the feeders when we leave. Apparently the hummingbirds know enough not to drink the spoiled stuff, and they also know when it’s fresh. It didn’t take long for them to begin to feed once new nectar was available. (By the way, they know if you skimp on the sugar, too.)
The deer paid a visit to the yard while we were gone and munched the young sprouts on the gooseberry bush. I was so delighted to see that bush take off and now it’s been munched! Just because a plant is deer resistant doesn’t mean they won’t taste it. They also nibbled some of the hollyhocks. I mean – we’re surrounded by grain here. Why are they bothering the yard?

The cherry tree seems healthy enough but didn’t set on many cherries this year – not even enough for a pie. I hope it’s just that the blossoms got caught in a freeze and not some other weird thing. The good news is that it looks like we’ll have plenty of raspberries. The patch has become a bramble with plenty of new canes, so this fall we’ll expand the patch.
Two of the rhubarb starts down by the barn died, but the remaining two seem very healthy. 

Well, I'm off to water and weed. The prediction is that a storm will move in this afternoon. The weatherman says our high tomorrow will be 55 -- yes, that's right -- 55. I'll let you know. KW

Friday, June 22, 2012

"The Man with the Musical Touch"

[This delightful short article is the result of an interview with my dad, Vance Dobson, conducted by Orofino Junior High School students and published in the Spring 1987 edition of Clearwater Reflections, a Firefox Publication.]

“The Man with the Musical Touch”
By Jennifer Davisson, Amie Crouch, Michelle Beard

Vance Dobson, born April 29,1904, in Gilbert, Idaho, is one of our community’s more active citizens. He enjoys gardening, playing the piano, fishing, and spending time outdoors.

His parents traveled from Iowa along the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon, around 1895. Their main occupation was farming. [Actually, that’s not quite right. His mother traveled from Iowa along the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon, arriving in Lakeview, Oregon, in 1882. His father came a few years later, riding the rails from Iowa to Oregon. They married in 1891 and took a homestead in the Gilbert Country in 1895, where they were mainly farmers.]

Mr. Dobson attended high school in Orofino for three years. During this time he participated in track and football. One of the popular hangouts at that time was the ice cream parlor, where you could find many teenagers.

He later attended a music school in Seattle and decided to become a music teacher. At the age of forty-three he married Dorothy Dobson who still shares his musical life.

A real piano fanatic, Mr. Dobson began toying around with the piano at the early age of six. In 1928 eighteen years later, he began teaching.

During his high school years he played background music for the silent movies shown at our local theater.

“It was an easy dollar-fifty-a-day project,” he commented about this weekend job.

Mr. Dobson presently teaches seventeen students, a small amount in comparison to the fifty students he once taught. He includes both classical and popular music to keep his students satisfied. He also taught his younger sister and daughter how to play.

“It is difficult to teach people in your own family,” he reminisced.

Mr. Dobson plans to continue teaching the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Shubert, Bach, and other favorites to Orofino students as long as he is capable.

[My dad enjoyed participating in this project. I’m glad he didn’t miss out. He passed away in November 1987.]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My mother used to say that she and my dad had more fun doing something casual like making a trip to the dump together than any other sort of “date.” I thought of that today when Mike invited me to accompany him to the landfill in the old beater truck.

The old beater truck – a 1972 Dodge Ram – has deteriorated to the point of being marginally safe. A couple of years ago when Hallie was trying to arrange transportation to a rafting event, I heard her ask Mike if the old truck was safe to drive. “Barely,” was his response. Hmmmm. If you don’t think your daughter ought to drive it, then maybe you shouldn’t either.

But we use it so seldom. We use it to haul the occasional large item to the farm. We throw our town yard waste into it and when it’s full we make a trip to the landfill. Sometimes a friend borrows it for the same purpose. And we use it to get wood. So today, we had to empty it of yard waste so that tomorrow Mike and Ken can get wood. I’m not quite sure why I was invited along. Moral support? To pay the fee? Just for the fun of it?
Anyway, there I was at the landfill watching Mike rake the debris out of the pick-up bed, and there on the ground, lying in the dirt, was a Simplicity dress pattern. One of my favorite online searches is for vintage patterns – some old and some not so old -- so I didn’t know anyone still threw them away. I thought to myself that where there’s one, there’s apt to be more. I remember how my mother threw away her used patterns -- not one at a time but in bulk when the pattern drawer was full, so I would expect a sewist to throw away more than one pattern. Indeed, I did find one more in the dirt and a copy of Victorian magazine. I picked these things up from the approach – not by scavenging through the trash. Still – I could hear Chris asking in her teacher voice, “Where are your gloves?”

I had to ask myself what I thought I was doing. These patterns were published in ’96 and ’97. Would I have bought them then? Would I buy them today? Probably not. Can I afford brand new patterns at Jo-Ann Fabrics? Absolutely. But that doesn’t matter. I consider myself a collector and it seemed like a windfall. I came home with those patterns.

I just knew that somewhere in the mound before me could likely be found a treasure trove of used patterns just ripe for the taking. But – the landfill does have a rule against scavenging, and I also have my pride -- don’t I?

The envelopes were rather dirty, so I photocopied them, threw the originals away, and placed the contents in plastic bags for storage. ZipLoc bags work well. Despite a torn and dirty exterior, I discovered the Simplicity pattern was unused – still in factory folds.

As the old saying goes: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  KW

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Last fall on our one-day trip to a wilderness venue called Indian Post Office, I unfortunately dropped our camera, the Nikon Coolpix P60. It slipped right out of the case and onto the ground from a distance of some three feet, but that was enough to begin its slow decline. Then at another geocaching site, I dropped it again, and that was enough to seal its demise. We continued to use it, off and on, but its condition deteriorated to the point we really needed to replace it. 
“This has been a good camera,” Mike said to the sales associate, “but we drop it.” (At least he didn't say, "but my wife here drops it.")

“Here’s what you need,” she said, handing him the Nikon AW100, explaining that it’s waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof. It doesn’t have the viewfinder, which we have appreciated in the P60, but Nikon no longer makes the P60 anyway. If we want that viewfinder, we have to pay more for a bigger camera we really don’t want.
The shockproof camera was appealing all right. And it comes in a nice bright orange, so I figure if Mike loses it in tall grass -- hey, it’s happened! -- we have a 50-50 chance (the back side is black) that he’ll be able to find it.

So after some weeks of studying the pros and cons, asking opinions of busy people, etc., we chose the AW100. Mike has been reading the detailed manual and finally concluded that perhaps the camera has more features than we’ll ever use. The real problem is that we probably won’t remember it even has those features. Me? I prefer the "hands-on" approach. I’ve just been taking pictures. Maybe I’ll read the “quick start” guide.
So, photos on this post were taken with the new AW100 during our weekend at the farm -- landscapes and landmarks which have come to be familiar here. 

[The first three pictures I took on yesterday's walk to the mailbox and illustrate spring yellows. Photo 4 is of the wild rose Hallie pruned last fall. It's sporting a couple of pink blossoms. The last two were taken this morning, and a glorious morning it was. I picked two sacks of spinach -- one of bigger leaves to be processed and the other of young leaves for salads.] KW

Thursday, June 14, 2012


"Birds are building a nest in the eaves trough," I said to Mike last month. "Please take care of it."

"You said that last year," he reminded me. "I went to the trouble to climb up there and there was nothing."

"Yes, I remember," I said, "but this time you will find it's true." While the property was rejected by potential builders last year, this year's clients found it appealing.

Dutifully inspecting the eaves trough as assigned, Mike found that I was indeed correct. "I tossed out the nesting material," he said, "but they are undeterred. I saw them plotting a comeback."

And yes, they came back. After a whirlwind romance, Mr. and Mrs. Gonzo Goldfinch had said "yes" to the location for their new home and were not to be deterred. If they'd had the assistance of a real estate agent, they might have realized the downside of living in an eaves trough that leaves them open to the elements,but Mrs. Goldfinch said she would sacrifice protection from the rain for the security of the curved metal. She also liked the fact that she can banish Gonzo to the other end of the trough when she gets tired of him. This is truly roomy real estate and they love it.

It's distracting to me --the coming and going, swooping in and swooping out right above the living room window. And now that the Goldfinches have become a family, they are noisy neighbors. Imprinting being what it is, I'm afraid now that it will be difficult to deter future generations. KW

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Mike left yesterday in pursuit of another excellent adventure. But that's another story and not mine to tell.

We had developed a list of things we needed from the farm, and we had things to return there -- laundry, groceries, supplies -- and I also wanted to take some breakable family plates and platters for the upcoming century farm celebration. So, I loaded the pick-up with stuff, and Nellie and I headed out.

Our first stop was the Gilbert Cemetery, where I picked up the little dollar store nosegays I had left at the family graves on Memorial Day. Except for my dad's grave (where I leave a bouquet of cut flowers -- whatever I can find) my grandparents, and my great-grandparents, I'm not very methodical about it. The graves are so old that it's just nice to leave something that says, "We remember these people." I save the bouquets from year to year but also add a few new ones each Memorial Day.

From there it was on to the farm. We were there about 10:00 and stayed until 2:00. We're having yet another spell of cool and unsettled weather, but it was warm enough that I traded my sweatshirt for a t-shirt. We watched the clouds build and disperse, and we could hear distant thunder. Nellie doesn't like thunder.

I picked lots of spinach from my little raised bed. My second planting of peas is making a showing. And I planted carrots and lettuce. Nellie insists that a rodent has invaded one of my rustic tire gardens, and if I know her, she knows what she's talking about. I put a little bait here and there around the edges. (Don't worry -- Nellie can't get to it.)

Mike loves these poppies that either volunteered or are left from another lifetime. I think they're beautiful with the purple iris. And the iris seem to be lasting so long. 

The old bramble bush has definitely leafed out after its vigorous pruning. Don't know -- can't say -- if it will bloom this year. I fed it with some systemic rose food. I also threw a little fertilizer on the raspberries.

Before lunch I took Nellie for a walk. Here she is on point.

And then we explored the area of the old dump below Dobson Road just as it curves to the lane. I was looking for evidence of Oregon grape -- another wild invasive plant that tends to take over. However, my dad kept a little stand of it at his studio door. At Christmas he sprayed it gold or silver to adorn his decorations, and occasionally he made jelly of the berries. "Jelly -- of the berries," says Hallie. She and Nick are interested in those vintage tastes. Note the old rock piles at the edge of the field.

Here's a photo I cropped in order to bring out the deer grazing in the field -- not a really successful effort. As I was returning to the house, I disturbed a whitetail evidently lounging under the "awesome" apple tree. She hurriedly betook herself out of the gulley, across the lane, up into the north field, and out of sight. Unfortunately I was unable to organize myself to get a picture.

And this last photo is a self-portrait as I attempted to show the new growth on the rhubarb we planted down by the pond. KW

Sunday, June 10, 2012


My dad loved gingersnaps, so two or three times a year he would make a big batch using his mother’s (Ina’s) recipe. Mike loves gingersnaps, too, and we usually keep packages purchased at the Dollar Tree on hand for his snacking, but we didn’t have any at the farm so I decided to make some.

Both of my grandmothers, Ina Dobson and Nina Portfors, came from families with similar recipes for ginger cookies. The following is Ina’s recipe:
1 cup sugar
5 cups flour
1 cup shortening (butter best)
1 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp soda
½ cup hot water
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and beaten egg. Add soda in the water. Sift together flour, salt, spices and add to shortening mixture. Chill 6 or 8 hours. Roll thin. Cut in any shapes desired.

Somehow I never quite trusted that this recipe was the best one going because my dad was always changing it. He loved to cook, and it was just his nature to alter the ingredients, but his actions said to me that the recipe was lacking in his opinion. So, as a youngster, when I wanted to bake ginger cookies – usually once a year at Christmas – I used a cookbook recipe. This time was no exception. I turned to The Illustrated Treasury of Cooking, a 1975 blending of old and new recipes, where I found the following update on the old gingersnap recipe:
1 cup butter, margarine or shortening
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 cup table molasses
1 tbsp vinegar
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp powdered ginger (yes!)
1/16 tsp cayenne (oh yeah!)
½ tsp powdered cinnamon

Cream the shortening until light. Gradually add the sugar, beating until creamy. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and vinegar.

Sift dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover the dough with waxed paper and let it chill in the refrigerator one hour or more.

When ready to bake, roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut in rounds with cookie cutter and place on greased cookie sheets. (I lined sheets with parchment paper instead.) Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes.

Ina left two round cookie cutters in the house. My dad always made big gingersnaps, so I used the larger one first. Then I decided that Mike would probably prefer to eat a lot of smaller cookies, so I switched to the smaller cutter.

I love the spiciness of these ginger cookies and would use the recipe again, but I believe I might work in that extra ½ to 1 cup of flour. The dough was really soft.

Over time the way we think about our provisions has changed. We skimp when money and goods are scarce, and we can see that in the vintage recipes. My mother used her spices sparingly, and they sat in the cupboard and got old. Today, we’re much more aware of shelf life and give importance to keeping cooking supplies fresh, knowing that they will lose their savor with time. We just as well enjoy them.

Friday, June 8, 2012


On a previous post Leah asked about Nellie's doghouse.

This is Nellie’s town kennel and doghouse. She was just a year old when we moved to the modular home. While Mike built the kennel, she watched the process from her portable cage. Somehow she seemed to know it was her new place and has always been at home with it. She really doesn’t seem to mind going to her kennel anytime but it’s the place she most prefers at bedtime. However, she is clever enough to lift the latch with her snout and come out unless we lock the gate by inserting something (a karabiner) in the slot.
As you can see, the barrel, a 50-gallon drum, is set outside the kennel to allow maximum outside room. The doghouse is filled with wood shavings which help to clean her. She gets extra shavings in the winter to keep her warm.

At the farm she doesn’t have a kennel. Instead, her barrel doghouse, a pickle barrel that Mike picked up someplace, is in the old woodshed. Again she prefers to overnight in her house. (If this looks rustic to you, remember that she’s a dog -- and a hunting dog at that.)

Our routine is that Nellie comes into the house as soon as we’re up and around. In town, we open her kennel so that she can come out. At the farm, she comes out on her own and whines at the kitchen door when she’s ready to come in. Sometimes she whines before we’re up, but if one of us is up she seems to know it – probably hears us moving around.
During the day Nellie is seldom confined to her kennel. She stays in the house if we have errands to run or we take her with us. However, occasionally we leave her in her kennel while we’re out, and while she doesn’t mind going to the kennel, that’s when she’s apt to let herself out if the gate isn’t locked.

Nellie used to enjoy napping on her pillow while Mike and I watched tv in the evenings, but during the last year she has shown a marked preference for going to bed early. I used to let her out for a few minutes after we finished the dishes and she would come right back, but now she tends to put herself to bed. This practice has necessitated a change in the bedtime tooth-brushing routine which now must take place right after supper.

When I married Mike, the doghouse was a flat-roofed wooden structure that eventually deteriorated. It seems to me my nephew L.J. suggested the barrel house, but Mike doesn’t remember. We’ve used barrels ever since. KW