Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PORCH ART

We're officially a century farm -- and now the sign is posted on the house. At presentation we were told the sign would last a hundred years if protected from the elements.

Mike affixed the sign to a wooden frame, which he made from a piece of rough wood he found in the barn.


Then he stained it to match the woodwork on the house. Not centered, you say? That's where the stud is.

Now it's porch art! KW

Monday, July 30, 2012

SERVICEBERRY FEST


The serviceberry bushes are beautiful in the spring, especially along the Clearwater River. The trees bloom white and seem to bring an ethereal glow to the landscape. We see quite a lot of serviceberry along the Clearwater corridor and on the Gilbert Grade as well. I even thought I saw it here at the farm. Trouble is – I recognize it at a distance and only when it’s in bloom. So – my quest has been to find serviceberry on the property.

We identified a stand of Black Hawthorn trees on the lane and then a shrub we called “bearberry.” I don’t remember our reasoning on the bearberry, but the more I read about bearberries, the less secure I was in that identification.  I mean, this is not an arctic area and the berries were purple, not red. You know – just little clues like that. Nevertheless, we kept calling them bearberries.

Saturday morning Nellie and I went down the lane to pick the bearberries. Nellie is an eager berry picker, and she liked these berries, standing ever so close to me so as to pick up any I happened to drop. She eats them noisily – licking her lips and smacking.

We came back to the house with six cups of berries, a respectable amount. But in searching the net for a jelly recipe, it occurred to me that these were serviceberries, and I found pictures that proved it – the flower, the leaves, and the berry clusters – purple berries, like blueberries. “These are serviceberries!” I exclaimed to myself. “Ahhhhhhhhhh.”

So, I had a little serviceberry fest. First Nellie and I visited another serviceberry bush I knew about, behind the house where the elderberry bushes are, but sitting at the edge of the field in the hot sun, those berries were already dry not to mention almost inaccessible. I had enough berries to make juice anyway. And then, to state the afternoon’s activity in simple terms, I made serviceberry jelly – five jars, sealed and ready to store on a shelf. Another new/old flavor to savor.

I’ll bet we can find more serviceberry here, and in fact, we’ve already found a bush on Dobson Road. Serviceberries are also called juneberries. Next year I’ll watch for them sooner – beginning around the Fourth of July.

And speaking of berries – aren’t those thimbleberry bushes over there?

Now is the time to be careful when exploring, though. On my way to the composter last evening, I came across a rattlesnake. My approach startled it and it raised its head but didn’t coil. I ran to the house for Mike, but in the seconds I was gone, it disappeared into the tall grass. KW

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Little Chunk of Big Sky


About a year or ago I joined a bunch of old codgers that meet informally the first Saturday of the month at Mac’s Cycle in Clarkston.  They are almost exclusively BMW riders and we even set up a Google Group Page called Macsbeemerbunch.  At any rate, rides are posted and some of us regularly get together for rides.  Last week I was invited on a Montana ride with four other riders. 

The plan was to ride to Lolo, MT, and then head south to Wisdom and the old ghost town of Bannack.  Since I was planning on coming back from my planned Wyoming trip that way next month I wasn’t particularly interested in a repeat.  However, the ride up the Lochsa River to Lolo is a fantastic ride and I was interested in checking off some of the Montana counties on my counties Geocache quest.  So my plan was to turn north at Lolo instead of south and loop back up through the Idaho panhandle and then down through eastern Washington.

We met at a service station in Lewiston Tuesday morning at 6:00 am and headed up highway 12.  It was a little chilly and by the time we got to Kamiah I couldn’t feel the fingers on my right hand.  Fortunately we stopped for gas there and I was able to warm up my hands on the engine.  We made one other stop on the way up before stopping at Lolo Pass for a regrouping and picture.  From there we rode on into Lolo and had lunch at a Taco Time.  Some old timer there asked if we some aged Hells Angels.
 
After lunch we separated and I headed north into Missoula.  It was only a couple of miles to the first cache which was a bucket promoting the library and you could exchange books.  The next one was the old Historic Fort Missoula in downtown Missoula.  It was located on Reserve Street which connects Highway 12 with Interstate 90.  It must be no more than 4 or 5 miles over to the Interstate and it took me at least 45 minutes to get there.  I haven’t been in traffic like that since last summer in Seattle.  Move a few feet, stop and wait, repeated over and over.  And, of course, it was midday and very hot.

I traveled northwest through Lake County making a couple of stops for caches there.  Next I turned south on the 135 Cutoff road connecting the Interstate to Glacier National Park.  This is a beautiful highway that lies alongside the Clark Fork River.  Even on beautiful back country highways like this one the speed limit is 70 mph in Montana.  I love it!  My destination was St. Regis and I picked up one cache along the way and made an unsuccessful attempt on another one.  I arrived in St. Regis around 4:00 pm and picked up another cache before going to my motel.



The Little River Motel was like a step back in time.  It was like what they used to call “Tourist Courts”.  There were two or three little cabins and a couple of three room units all kind of out in the woods.  It was located on a ¼ mile section of what was left of the old highway.  This old highway abutted up against the Interstate at an angle but there was no access.  I ate at the local Subway and afterwards at dusk I took a walk down that section of old highway toward town and I met a woman walking in the opposite direction.  She was visiting but had lived there 40 years ago.  She was remarking that everything had changed so much she didn’t know the area anymore.  She wanted to know where the Little River Motel was.  It was probably pretty nice and the only one there back in her day.  The pictures are of some of the neat carved figures on the grounds.  The room was clean but very small and extremely spartan.

I ate breakfast in the room and was on the road before 6:00 am.  I reversed my route the twenty or so miles back up the 135 Cutoff.  I had gone down that way to get Mineral County.  Now I was in Sanders County going west through Thompson Falls.  This is extremely scenic country and I stopped for 3 caches the other side of Thompson Falls.  There was a portable flashing sign on the shoulder of the highway saying there were “Bighorn sheep on the road”.  And indeed, I had to stop just before a cache to let a herd cross in front of me.
 
In order to get Lincoln County I took a 90 degree turn north on highway 56 up to Bull Lake.  I got three caches in that area before turning around and going back to highway 200.  I soon was back in Idaho and hit road construction all across the Panhandle to Sandpoint.  It wasn’t too bad, nothing like Missoula, and the scenery was gorgeous with Lake Pend d’ Oreille on my left.  I went through Sandpoint and continued west into Washington picking up a cache along the way.  I stopped for lunch at a convenience store where a cache was located.

Traffic through Spokane was slow and hot but again, nothing like Missoula.  I stayed on the main highway (195) until I got down to 271 which took me to the small communities of Garfield and Palouse.  Highway 271 is a nice  back road through wheat fields with little traffic.  It’s a fun motorcycle road.  I stopped in Garfield and took a break in the shade at the park.  I stopped for a cache in the middle of town but found that some workers were washing down a brick building in the vicinity of the cache.  One of the workers asked, “Are you looking for the Geocache?”  I told him I was and he pointed and said they had to move it over there while doing the work and was very apologetic.  They had just set it on a concrete block.  It didn’t bother me at all. 

I made two more stops for caches before reaching Pullman.  The last one I didn’t find which was disappointing because I had climbed some steep rocks with a 4 terrain rating looking for it.   I stopped for gas in Pullman and got compliments on my bike from some other bikers who were returning from an Oregon tour.  I was back home before 5:00 pm having traveled 715 miles.  After unpacking we took a refreshing swim in the river. 

Montana is a big sate with 56 counties so I don’t know when I’ll finish my quest for a Geocache in each county.  It will be the last state contiguous to Idaho that I will attempt.  Wyoming is next month and Utah hopefully next year.  M/W

Friday, July 27, 2012

MAKING CHANGES



If you’d told me on Monday that by Friday I would have found a new home for the white bedroom furniture and also purchased a new sewing machine, I wouldn’t have believed it. I waded through some weighty issues and came to conclusions. The proof will be in whether the furniture actually leaves. I’m a little nervous. Although the womenfolk are abuzz (my sister, her daughter, and the daughter-in-law), in my world, if I can’t get my guy on board, then it’s all for naught. So, this story is a work in progress.

And the new sewing machine, a Bernina 630, is on hold for me at Stitches and Petals in Moscow. I love my 430 and will continue to use it, but I’ve been thinking of adding a machine when the time was right, and the time was right when the price was right. The 630 is now discontinued and there was a deal, so I went for it.

After that flurry of activity yesterday, we came again to the farm. Mike mowed. I picked raspberries – probably three quarts again – and also watered. Now I’m picking zucchini and lettuce, too. My gardens are looking good. Even my carrots are growing.
 
I could see the pie cherries had turned bright red, so I picked them – all 20 of them. It looked like the birds had eaten only a few. It’s about a third of a cup of cherries, so I think I’ll mix them with some peaches and make a small crostata.

Late yesterday afternoon I walked Nellie down the lane where I examine the black hawthorn trees. I’m thinking of trying some hawthorn berry jelly. My tree book says the “haws” have an “insipid” flavor. I note that one recipe mentions cooking the haws with elderberry, but the haws are ripening now and the elderberry is best in October. I guess I could always save the juice, but I think Nick and I will want to taste the pure product first.
 
Whatever it was that hit the cherry blossoms, probably a frost, evidently missed the apple trees. This "awesome" apple tree is laden with apples, many of which are unreachable. We don't spray this country tree (or any tree), so we might find them wormy when the time to pick comes around. Someone told me the apples are better when the air is cooler.

Well, there’s more work to do. Later . . . KW

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE TOUGH PROCESS OF RIDDANCE



We have to haul our own garbage from the farm, so about once a month, we carry it to the well-organized landfill in Orofino. They have to pay tonnage to have the refuse trucked away and so they remove anything that might be salvaged or disposed of in another, less costly manner. They even have a “thrift store” of sorts – “Clearmart.”

During our last visit to the landfill, I spied this plywood lumberjack. I'm not sure if this is the lumberjack that was affixed to a service station in Orofino. At any rate, years ago someone cut and painted him and he stood in the weather somewhere. The attendant said she didn’t know anything about it and seemed baffled that I would take pictures.

So it’s come to this, I thought to myself. Something that was once new and shiny has weathered and we don’t want it. We’re trying to get rid of it, and even that is difficult.

I’ve had to adjust my concept with regard to the impact of passing time. I recognize that my grandmother’s and mother’s things are valuable because of they are old, but it’s harder for me to accept as vintage the eras through which I have lived.

For instance, I donated a decorative cut glass bowl to the rummage sale last spring. Several hours into the sale, it was still there and I discovered that someone had priced it at $7.50.

“$7.50,” I exclaimed. “This was a wedding gift, one of those gift items available at a discount store.”

“Tell me,” said another worker, “what year were you married? Whisper it to me.”

So I whispered “1975.”

“Well, it was a long time ago,” she said.

Really?! Hmmmm.

Today I did another big clean out. The stuff wasn’t mine. It belonged to a little girl who came to live with us, grew up, went away, got married. Somehow her little girl stuff stayed in the drawers, and when we moved, she still didn’t want to part with it. Her bedroom suite, which was mine before it was hers, came with us to the modular home, stuff and all, and there it stayed. But something has to happen because time doesn’t stand still and life has to be lived in the now. This furniture that met the needs of young girls now needs to serve a grandmother – or move on.

The challenge is to convert this room into a sewing studio / guest room. Obviously I need shelves and drawer space, but are these the right shelves and the right drawers? We have been considering the options, but no matter what we decide, the drawers had to be cleaned out, and today was the day.

I started at Walmart where I bought storage containers. It’s interesting how they size those bins – 8 quart, 28 quart, 50 quart. How do I know how many quarts of stuff I have? I chose two 50-quart containers but wisely put one back and added a couple of smaller ones for certain collections. That worked well.

It was an afternoon’s labor of love, a trip down a memory lane in which I was a participant, an observer, an influence. But the memories themselves – some happy, some bittersweet – belong to that little girl who grew up. KW

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wapshilla Sherpa


It was my son Yancey’s Birthday and although I couldn’t celebrate it with him I thought of him often on my adventure and how he would have enjoyed it.  A couple of months ago a Geocache was published called “Wapshilla Sherpa” (GC3JY35).  It was located in the Craig Mountain area south of Lewiston on the breaks of Hells Canyon.  No one had logged this cache and although I normally don’t put forth an extra effort to be the first to find (FTF) a cache, if it happens to be one that requires a special challenge I will do so.  This one definitely qualified.  There were actually two new caches in this area and a fellow player who takes great pride in being the first to find a cache (his license plate reads “FTF”) had gone out and logged the easier one but had given up on the “Wapshilla Sherpa” even posting a log on the cache that he was leaving it to me.  So the game was on.

When we returned to town from the farm last Wednesday I had hauled the 4-wheeler back with me because I knew I would need it to go after this cache.  So yesterday morning I headed out to the Craig Mountain area with the 4-wheeler on the trailer and a mountain bike lashed onto the 4-wheeler.  I was a little concerned about the weather because it had been exceptionally hot and scattered thunderstorms were predicted here and in Craigmont.  Because there are no towns near where I was going I couldn’t get an accurate forecast so I decided to go for it anyway.

I arrived in the Waha area about 7:15 a.m. and unloaded the trailer.  To get to the cache I first had about 15 miles of gravel road to travel.  The last 6 miles of this road (?) had not been maintained and was so bad I wouldn’t want to take my truck over it which was why I was on the 4-wheeler.  At the end of the road or at least as far as you can go, there is a gate stating that no motorized vehicles are allowed beyond that point.  The cache is still 5 miles beyond and the options are to hike, horseback or mountain bike.

By this time it was a little after 9:00 a.m. and getting warm even though the elevation was about 5,000 feet.  I parked the 4-wheeler, put on a pack containing food and water and zipped off the legs of my pants.  You can see from the picture what this road was like - steep and rocky.  The road was actually worse than I had anticipated with more ups and downs.  The first of the new caches that my friend had already found was called “Lightening Rod” and was less than a mile up the road.  It was at an old lightening struck tree about 100 yards off the road with a level hike to it so I stopped and got it thinking I might not be feeling so well on the way back out.  How right I was!

For the next 5 miles it was up and down the steep, rocky, rough road.  Most aggravating were these dead tumbleweed like plants that kept getting caught in my chain and derailleur invariably when I was going up a hill causing me to have to stop and then get started again going up the hill.  Finally I made it to the cache area a little after 10:00.  I could see where the cache was located in a rock outcropping at the top of the mountain.  I looked over the terrain and found a way up that didn’t look too bad.  It actually wasn’t too bad especially compared to the bike ride.  As advertised there were fantastic views from the cache site and I saw a variety of beautiful wild flowers on the hike up.

After logging the cache and taking some pictures I descended to my bike and began the ride back.  It was approaching 11:00 and had gotten really hot.  The trip back out was much tougher than going in.  I don’t know if it was because of the heat and my fatigue or if the hills were tougher in that direction.   At any rate, I got back to the 4-wheeler a little before noon absolutely beat.  I loaded up and went down the road a ways to where I knew there was some shade and stopped and had lunch.  So far no thunderstorm but I could see from the sky that the Lewiston area was really getting it.  Turns out they had a 1/2 inch of rain in about a half hour period.

Next on my list was a cache similar to this one in that it would require a 9+ mile hike, bike or horseback ride (I wish).  This cache called “Heavenly View” had been found only once and it had been a year earlier.  There must be something about these caches that discourage folks.  I had about a 7 or 8 mile 4-wheeler trip before I got to the road with the gate.  There had been some logging in the area and the road was much better and with fewer elevation changes than the other one.  Although I hadn’t completely recovered from the previous ride I was doing pretty well until a very short distance before the cache site.  At that time a terrific wind storm hit which I guess was better than a downpour.  It was so bad I had to stop and seek shelter on the lee side of a big pine tree.  After a while the wind subsided enough that I was able to hike down to the cache site.  The cache was hidden in a sort of rock wall situated on a point offering a beautiful view.  I had trouble getting the container out of the wall and in the process hit my head on a pine limb overhanging the wall.  It did smart a bit!

This ride out seemed shorter and easier than the ride in.  It must have been more downhill going out.  I was back at the 4-wheeler at 2:45 pm and headed back toward the truck.  I stopped to try to find a micro sized cache on the way out but was unsuccessful.  One of my pet peeves is a micro sized cache hidden where you could place a bigger one, especially one such as this that didn’t even give a hint.  There were two more caches that I wanted to get but because of the distance to them and being unsure of how to get there I knew I wouldn’t have time.  I got back to the truck at 5:00 and called it a great day.  M/W

Friday, July 20, 2012

NELLIE AND HALLIE

Hallie was in her last term at the University of Idaho in the fall of 2003 when Mike brought the little German Shorthair pup home. Nellie came from good Shorthair lines -- bred both for hunting and personality. The little pup demanded her share of "shoulder" time from both Hallie and me. And Hallie is still one of her favorite people. I think she would like Hallie even if Hallie didn't bring the pig ear treats -- one for arrival and one for each morning of the visit.




Nellie patiently waits in the dining room for Hallie to descend the stairs.


















Hallie was leaving and Nellie knew it. She knows the signs if not the words. Nellie doesn't like good-byes. Why can't the pack just stay together?

But once Nellie saw that Kathy and Mike didn't leave -- that once again it was just us three -- she perked up. She didn't mope. KW