Saturday, November 30, 2013


I got along just fine with my Christmas doings. This is the first Christmas I ever spent without the voice of one of my children in the house. But don’t let your heart sink at that thought. There were children to the right of me and children to the left of me, north, south, east and west, and though they didn’t “bay and thunder,” they charged the lonely Christmas idea with such skill and loyalty that it was dispelled as a mist before the sun. We had a lovely time, not only that day but beforehand. Ina Dobson, January 1935

This year’s “Homestead Happenings” advent presentation is loosely based on my Grandmother Ina’s Christmas of 1934.

In 1934, Ina and her husband Jack had been living on their farm at Gilbert, Idaho, since 1896 – 38 years. She was 64; he, 70. Times were lean and seemed to grow leaner, but every year Ina resolved that there would be “no skimpy Christmas” at her house.

That Christmas was especially challenging for Ina. Her youngest child and companion, Shirley, who at 24 still lived at home, had gone to Idaho Falls for an indefinite stay under the watchful eye of her brother Earle and his wife Bernice, so Ina was alone in her Christmas preparations. Shirley was not there to share the work and the fun of holiday preparations nor would she be home for Christmas. Neither would any of Ina’s other five children. But Ina made up her mind to make the best of it.

And isn’t that just what we all have to do sometimes? The holidays can be a trial as much as a joy. Perhaps things have stayed the same for a long time, and then some big change happens. Then we have to adjust. Life calls on us to do that.

Thanksgiving was late that year, too – falling on the 29th. The first of December was Saturday, whereas this year it’s Sunday. Close enough, I say! For purposes of “Christmas with Ina 2013,” Ina has agreed to share our calendar.

I hope you enjoy this visit with Ina as much as she enjoys sharing her holiday with you. KW

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It was 9:30 Monday morning (Nov. 25) and Mike was preparing for a hunt.

"I might be out for some time today," he announced. "I'm going to stay out there until I get some birds." He loaded his gun, his snacks, and the dogs in the back of the Dakota -- and left.

So, I got my hair cut, ran some errands, and then settled in for some serious embroidery work in the sewing studio while the house was quiet. 

He was right about being out for some time. He didn't return until about 3:30. They had hunted hard and it had paid off. And then he asked me to take the annual hunt photos. 

Bess had no clue what the hunt photo was all about, this being her first experience. Nellie knows this drill but was really tired and not too interested. All she wanted was her chow, thank you very much, and then she'd settle down for a long nap.

I was supposed to wait until everyone was settled and posed and then take the pictures, but I decided to have some fun with it. It isn't every year you have a sedate old dog and a wriggly pup in your hunt photo. The old hunter loves both of those dogs -- the "old pro" and the young 'un full of exuberance and energy. KW

Sunday, November 24, 2013


My sister Harriet cleaned out her home of 50+ years and invited me to look over some of the interesting things she found. When we came to this portrait of our mother, undoubtedly taken in the 1920s, we recognized an image that should be shared with the family. I was assigned to take care of having it copied.

"I don't know where to go to have it copied," I said.

"Wasem's does it," Harriet replied, referring to a local drugstore that has a photo/camera department.

Then I put it off for several months. The picture had been framed "back in the day" -- one of those frames where the back is taped on, almost impossible to undo, and once it is undone, that's that.But, members of the extended family are gathering for Thanksgiving dinner, and it seemed the perfect time to share the copies, so I decided I must get it done. I removed the picture from the frame as carefully as I could and took it to Wasem's.

Cautiously, I requested five 5x7 copies.

"How long will it take?" I asked the associate. -- "Oh, I don't know," she said. "We'll get to it this morning as soon as we can. We'll call you. But it will be this morning."

I was surprised.

"Well, how much will it cost?" I asked, sorta working backwards on this order. -- "Our 5x7s are 49 cents each," was the reply.

"Oh! Then please make eight," I said, thinking that for such a nominal price I could be a bit more generous. I also began to question in my mind what the final product would be if it only cost 49 cents. What process did they use? Just photocopies? But, for the price, I decided I could afford to wait and see.

The next day, I returned to pick up the order. The original photo had been "colorized." I expect Mother had applied the color herself. And the paper, hence the photo, had yellowed, giving it a sepia tone. The photo department manager waited on me, and he opened the envelope to show me the work. They were actual photographs on glossy paper. Clearly they had experimented with the color and made a number of copies that were quite bright in hue and also showed the grain of the original paper. Then they settled on the yellowed, softer "sepia" tone and made eight prints of that.

"Sometimes we fail to ask all the questions we should," said the manager, "and instead of bothering the customer, we just run extra prints. There are 16 in all, " he said, "for the original cost of eight prints."

If they had called, I would have suggested they proceed with the sepia tone. But I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. And now I'll go to Thanksgiving dinner with enough copies for all those who would want one. And, of course, now that I know what to expect from the process, I will go back. We have a lot of images we could share. I just didn't know we could have them copied so reasonably.

I said I liked the sepia tone, but as I take time to really look at the two images, I see definition in the more deeply colored one that also appeals to me. Suddenly it's no longer a faded vintage image but more lifelike -- the image of a vibrant young woman of the 1920s with her life ahead of her. And perhaps this is more nearly how the picture appeared when it was new.

Which one do you like? KW

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Mike took an interest in the Troy (Idaho) High School football team and wanted to watch them play in the semi-finals against Prairie High School at the Kibbie Dome on the University of Idaho campus on Friday night (Nov. 15). (These are regional small high school teams.)

Now, I could care less about any football game. It’s not my thing, but it is Mike’s, and when he asked me to go, I agreed. But I looked at the weather forecast and didn’t think it was a good idea to travel the 30 miles north: snow and rain were predicted at 70-80-90 percent with temperature at 33 degrees. Oh – and wind.
Here in the valley, we have a rather mild winter compared to the upper country, where it’s a whole different world. Just a few miles out of our town at higher elevation and the weather can turn treacherous – snow, slick roads, poor visibility. In my mind’s eye I could see the snow swirling in front of us obliterating the visibility.

My rule of thumb for travel in wintry weather is not to travel if I don’t have to, but Mike didn’t think the weather would be a problem. I didn’t want to use the forecast as an excuse not to go. Mike wanted to go and I wanted to be supportive, so at 4:00 p.m. we put the dogs to bed early and left for Moscow. It was raining in our valley.

At the top of the Lewiston Hill – and even at Genesee (about half way to Moscow) – it was misting lightly, but as we traveled it became snow. By the time we arrived in Moscow, it was snow floor and snowing. “This is exactly how I thought it would look,” I said.
A part of the deal was a trip to Winco (grocery store known for low prices), so that was our first stop. We shopped for half an hour or so, and when we left the store we had to wade through Lake Winco to get to our car. We had both dressed warmly but I didn’t wear boots. At this point Mike abandoned all thought of geocaching and tossed the GPS into the backseat.

It continued to snow and the traffic was terrible! After a light supper at a Subway near campus, we traveled to the Kibbie Dome and parked. They were shoveling pathways with a little snowplow.

You’ve likely seen a football game so I won’t describe that. Our team (Troy) won, but it wasn’t a runaway and I wasn’t always proud of them. They now advance to the state final in Pocatello next week. That’s a day’s drive from here. (No! We aren’t going.)

As we sat in the stadium, we heard reports from latecomers of continued wintry weather outside. We were ready to dash for the car as soon as the game was over.  Now there were inches of snow. We took a less trafficked route from campus to the highway, and accomplishing that felt like the first hurdle. Snowplows were working on the highway but not staying ahead of the accumulation. Traffic was light and slow. It was difficult to see.
It was snowing and blowing at 32 degrees all the way to the top of the Lewiston Hill – about 24 miles. Then it was abruptly warmer and the snow turned to rain. By the time we reached the valley, it was 42 degrees. No snow here.

[There are no photographs of the winter weather conditions, so as I walked Bess and Nellie yesterday, I took these pictures of the surrounding hills. In the last photo, the pole barn garage with green roof in the center of the picture is ours.] KW

Thursday, November 14, 2013


The “get-ready-for-the-holidays” spirit has been visiting me.

I recently participated in a class at the Stitches and Petals quilt and florist shop in Moscow with which my friend Chris is affiliated. Under her tutelage, I made this wonderful Christmas wall hanging. The class involved two sessions, but I had homework in order to finish embroidering the panels.

I had missed the first offering of this class when the little work area at the shop must have been bursting with workers. But at this second session there were just two of us participating with Chris as instructor. As we worked we had a lot of fun talking about experiences that people of basically the same age have in common, mostly the standards maintained by our parents who by comparison seem to have been on the same page, how that upbringing has spilled over into our lives, how good it was, and how different it is for families today.

So, I came home from the second and last session with my creation all finished except for the handwork – stitching the binding by hand. I tend to get stopped there because I see handwork as something to be done in leisure time – perhaps in the evening while we watch tv. However, I don’t do that much any more, so it was clear that I needed to make time to finish this piece.

Yesterday afternoon Mike and the dogs went hunting, so I decided it was “finish day.” I recorded two Hallmark holiday romance movies. You know the kind -- chick flicks with fluffy story lines where you get two and a half minutes of movie to five minutes of commercial. I don’t trouble Mike to put up with those, but they do speak to the heart-warming holiday spirit, show wonderful color and decorations, and I enjoy a certain amount of those as part of my celebration. As I watched them, I finished my “Merry Christmas” wall hanging.
Then, as I worked in the kitchen last night, I looked at the dirty window over the sink covered by a cheap blind that was even dirtier, and suddenly I knew that I wanted that blind gone. The shed stands between that window and the sun’s glare and also makes the area private. Mike agreed that we didn’t need the blind and took it down for me this morning. Now my kitchen is lighter and I can more easily clean the window. And I can also hang a string of lights for interior (if not exterior) ambiance. I look forward to it! KW

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


There’s trouble in the dog pillow department. The pretty fluffy new top I stitched to the used Kirkland pillow didn’t last a day. Naturally, the humans didn’t see the damage being done, and the dogs aren’t talking. In fact, they act as if nothing happened -- as if that gaping hole was no big deal. But we humans were troubled, so Mike flipped the pillow over, and we determined that the canines have more respect for canvas.

Over the last week, though, sharing a pillow hasn’t gone well. If Nellie gets there first, Bess will squeeze on and they seem to readjust comfortably. But if Bess gets there first – and sorta takes her half out of the middle – then Nellie refuses to insist on a place. Perhaps she doesn’t know how, though she knows well enough how to find her way onto my lap!

In the kennel, Nellie and Bess still share the dogloo, but in her spare time Bess has also obliterated the pillow Mike put in there for their comfort.

So – yesterday we tackled dog pillows. Mike brought in one of the Walmart pillows for which I made cases. At first neither dog was interested. Then Nellie gave it a try.

Meanwhile, Mike decided the pillow in the dogloo had to go, but he was afraid that Bess would just chew up the next pillow as well. So he fashioned a barrier for the door and then put wood shavings in there. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It took several hours.

Mid-day, we took a break from arranging canine comfort. Geocachers thrive of numeric events, so yesterday being 11-12-13, it was necessary to find a cache. The trouble was that we had no local caches left to log except for those Mike had been unable to find or that other cachers reported as difficult.

So, we left Nellie in the house to nap and took Bess with us, finally growing leery of what she might chew up in our absence. Mike was still working on the kennel and leaving her in there was not an option.

Long story short, we didn’t find the first two caches but I found the third one – so Mike was able to log a cache for 11-12-13.

Now that Nellie had accepted the new pillow, Mike removed the old Kirkland pillow from the living room and brought in the second recovered Walmart pillow.

Now each dog has her own pillow – and naturally this is a concept they understand and appreciate. KW

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Today was one of my favorite pre-holiday events -- the 13-hour bake sale at our local Rosauer's store. I invited by best beau to accompany me, and he decided to combine our shopping trip with geocaching.

I guess we set out about 10:00, leaving the dogs behind in the house. Our first stop was at this community events calendar at Airport Park at the top of Bryden Canyon Grade. This is at least the third time we've stopped here and we still didn't find the cache.

Next stop: Rosauer's. With list in hand, I grabbed one of those little short carts -- I love those! -- and by the time we were finished it was packed full. I took three Rosauer's paper sacks from my stash and that was only half enough. Sugar, flour, baking chips, coconut, two varieties of apples, oranges, pears, butter -- etc., etc. It's a great sale -- but these are not the only good deals we see before the holidays. I couldn't help but think as I shopped that I was depriving myself of dishes at Albertson's. Oh well.

We loaded our sacks into the back of the pick-up, and then we went on to search for another cache we haven't found -- and we didn't find it today. But then we tried for a three-level multi-cache, and we did find those.

It started at this dog-friendly park on Warner . . .

and ended here at the walking trail next to the Idaho Fish and Game office.

It wasn't really good caching weather -- had started to rain. And by that time it was after noon and we were both hungry. So, we went back home.

Bess greeted us with puppy enthusiasm. Nellie was glad to see me, too, because she wanted to tattle on Bess. "Look what Bess did!" she said, and  she handed me the tooled leather case Mike made to carry the choke tubes for his shotgun. "I told her not to," she added. "I told her I was gonna tell."

Oh yes, Mike was angry and let Bess know -- but I was amazed at how quickly he recovered -- tossing the case away while making plans to construct a replacement.

So, apparently Bess had had a little party while we were gone. She also pulled Mike's empty hot chocolate cup off the sofa and drug the little rug away from the wood stove.

After lunch I had to fit those groceries into my pantry. Mike offered to help, but I prefer to work alone when I need to clean things out.

And here they are -- the two dogs -- napping after a morning of revelry. KW