Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE OTHER WOMAN



Who knew that the iPhone was going to be so much fun? Oh yes –I knew iPhones and the like were fun for the youngsters, but neither Mike nor I realized his would finally become the indispensable cell phone.  With her unmistakably feminine voice and compliant nature, she’s every man’s dream girl. Well – not quite. She’s really good with mental tasks but doesn’t cook or chore around the house -- or do anything physical, for that matter.

Not only is she compliant, but she can be shaped to meet so many needs. Mike has always kept a lengthy list of contacts, and he transferred these from his computer to the hand-held unit. Next, he learned to use voice commands when making calls.

“Call my son Murray Warnock,” Mike says authoritatively.

Pause.

“I didn’t know Murray Warnock is a family member,” replies the iPhone to my astonishment. “Do you want me to remember that Murray Warnock is your son?” (Hey! I've known -- and remembered -- that Murray is Mike's son from the very beginning of our relationship.)

“Yes!” replies Mike.

Another pause. Then “she” made the call.

“Call K-Mart,” commands Mike.

Pause. “I don’t see K-Mart in your contacts. Do you want me to search for the store nearest your location?”

“Yes,” says Mike. 
 
“There are two listing for K-Mart at 1815 - 21st Street, Lewiston. Do you want me to call the pharmacy or the store?”

"The store," says Mike

"Calling K-Mart," she obeys. She's better at obedience than I am. I'd tell him to look up that number and make the call himself! I guess I can be replaced!

She now remembers all Mike’s appointments – provided he tells her about them, of course – and I admit that that’s more than I want to do. She helped him review the state capitals and now she’s teaching him the countries and capitals of the world. Occasionally she plays games with him. He reads books on her screen while streaming radio. She collects his email messages. We can even use her as a GPS, though I’m sure a real GPS is better. She accompanies us to the grocery store where Mike uses her to scan bar codes on products for nutrition info. He hardly ever forgets to take her with him, so we can catch him on his cell most anywhere and if not, she will take a message. That in itself is amazing.

She even accompanies us to bed and waits quietly until the hour when he can’t sleep Then he reads from her screen and/or listens to music or learns geography – much less disturbing to me than tossing and turning. Before arising in the morning, he checks the weather.

I think of my mother, who made notes to herself on scratch paper. “Do you want me to get your notes for you?” I once asked her as we were leaving the house.

“No,” she replied with some force, “I don’t need to carry my brains around in my pocket.” Obviously she had thought about her dependence on those notes and was making the effort to remember. I wonder what she’d think about the iPhone. KW

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

MARCH -- JUST AROUND THE CORNER




The weather here in our valley makes me think of March. Storms pass in one direction while in the other we see a mix of blue sky and clouds. Daytime temps are warmer while the danger of frost lingers. Blustery winds cool the sun’s warmth. Well, it must be time for March to arrive and the calendar says it's so -- Friday is the day.

In late February and March, we in this region begin to think in terms of spring. Snow may blow elsewhere, but here in the Pacific Inland Northwest, we think winter is over – whether it is or not. We notice signs of spring – trees bud out; snowdrops, crocus and daffodils push through the soil; our perennials show new growth albeit close to the ground; even the iris and the daylilies are getting ready to show their colors. Of course, one’s perceptions will be affected by the altitude at which one lives, but the Lewiston Tribune says all danger of snow is past in Moscow. I wonder how they know. . .
 
Somehow I’m just not ready for this spring-like weather. I’d prefer another month sequestered in the sewing room. I just didn’t accomplish as much as I thought I would this winter, which proves something – just not sure what. But when the weather is sunny and warm, there will be even more distractions.

I appreciate a beautiful day, but I’m not necessarily coaxed outside by the sun. Mike, on the other hand, thinks of outdoor chores and recreation when a sunny day dawns. Saturday the 16th was such a day. He decided spring had sprung and we should clear our perennial “weed” garden of last year’s growth. We worked most of the morning pulling away the dead to reveal new growth underneath. I hope it wasn’t too soon since we’ve had hard freezes several times since then.

Warmer temperatures bring difficulties with our way of life. We have a small wood stove in the living room, and this time of year we don’t light it until late afternoon or evening. The other night as Mike attempted to light the fire, the chimney refused to draw. Warmer temperatures and wind evidently created an inversion. So there we were with a smoldering fire, and no matter what we tried we just had more smoke in the house. Mike even went up on the roof to be sure the chimney screen wasn’t clogged. Nellie recognized the scenario – yes, it’s happened before -- and betook herself to one of her favorite outdoor haunts to avoid the inevitable sound of the smoke alarm.

In the end, we had to abandon the plan for a pleasant evening’s fire. We opened doors and windows to clear the smoke from the house, and Mike brought in the big fan from the shed and ran it for 15 minutes or so. The smoke alarm announced to the neighborhood that the Warnocks were at it again. Then we did the unthinkable – we let the furnace run for a while. In the morning, with the outdoor temp below freezing, Mike lit a fire in the little stove without problem. KW

Sunday, February 24, 2013

MUSINGS INSPIRED BY VINTAGE HATS


Okay. I admit it. Sometimes the blog muse slips away for a while. I’m a bit obsessive, so if I find tasks in the real world to be demanding – whether they really are or not – the muse just goes away. And it’s not just the blog muse – also the sewing muse, the crocheting muse, the study muse, and to some extent, the cooking muse. So, with the approach of the regional P.E.O. Founders’ Day luncheon, I found that all the muses had disappeared. As acting chairperson, I was in charge of registration with positive duties prior to the deadline and negative duties afterwards. (“You mean she can’t come?” asked Mike incredulously as I refused admittance to one who had overlooked the registration deadline.) I was also the detail person and the liaison between my chapter (host for the event) and the event center.
 
The Founders’ Day event was yesterday and I feel so relieved that it’s over! Now I’m making the effort to coax all the muses back to work. Our luncheon theme was “Hats Off to P.E.O.,” and so I’m posting pictures of some of the vintage hats that decorated the luncheon tables. I think it provided quite the trip down memory lane for our guests, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s.
 
I was a young adult in the early ‘70s when it seemed that our collective attitude toward clothes began to change, but I remember the day when the quality of one’s wardrobe was important. I grew up in a small town (some would call it a village), but my mother wore a dress to go down town and dressed even more carefully when she went to the bank. Mother believed that the quality of her appearance was reflected in the service she received. We put on our dresses to shop in Lewiston. We dressed up even more to shop in Spokane, wearing Sunday dresses with full accessories – shoes, purse, gloves, hats. If my sisters were going along, we would ask one another what we planned to wear and coordinate accordingly.
 
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sorry to see that kind of formality disappear. It makes my feet hurt to think about it. And tell you what – our feet did hurt. Ridiculous! And I don’t miss the time and thought focused on physicality – because it did take a lot of time, both planning and shopping. My mother was devoted to both her wardrobe and mine, and my body (my "figure problems") were thoroughly scrutinized. My mother stood guardian of what I could wear and what I couldn’t, and she wasn’t wrong. In fact, she was quite good at wardrobe planning, right down to the jewelry. It’s just that I really do enjoy not having to think in those terms.

Sure, you can say that women’s wear today does include style and accessorizing, but it’s simply not what it used to be. One guest at the luncheon pointed out that buying the right shade of nylons was important, a point I had forgotten. I don’t regret that that kind of detail-oriented dressing has disappeared. What I miss is the sense of being “put together” for the best personal presentation. On the other hand, my feet are so happy! KW

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MILK CARTONS



We were at Costco the other day. We only shop there occasionally, but we had several reasons to go, so we did. And I remembered that we needed milk, so I decided to pick up one of their two-gallon packs. I was unprepared for the flat-topped cartons wrapped in plastic. I had never seen these before. I expected to find two gallons in a box.

“What do you think?” I asked Mike, really doubtful that milk could actually be poured from these containers. Had I been by myself, this “Mrs. Consumer” would have walked away. However, we agreed to give it a try.

I opened the first carton last night and declared my dislike for this new style. The engineer in Mike came out, and he began to expound on how this style was more efficient and undoubtedly the coming thing, making it easier to stack and transport and thereby bringing the price of the product down. And – he added – it won’t be popular with the consumer, but that won’t matter because this is driven by economics. The consumer will have to adjust.

I decided to research the matter online and discovered that discussion began in 2008. Driven by WalMart and Costco, we’ve been slowly switching to these flat-topped cartons. “Does anyone else hate these cartons?” asked a consumer, whereupon the learned reply was given that these cartons are here to stay and will eventually be “the” format. In fact, the substance and tone of the explanation was exactly what Mike had expressed, right down to “the consumer will have to adjust.”

Apparently some effort has been made to educate the consumer on how to pour from the jugs. One person noted that she had come to like them because they fit on the door of her fridge. Others commented that they pour the contents into other pitchers.

This morning Mike used the milk, failed to replace the cap securely, and then spilled it on the floor the next time he took the carton from the fridge. Nellie was called into service for the initial clean-up, and then I swiffered.

Yes, I’ll put that milk into a different container. Perhaps we’ll experience a return of the milk pitcher. KW

Thursday, February 14, 2013

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day sneaked up on me this year. I just couldn't get in the mood to decorate. Someone said once that decorating would be different when the kids were gone. I didn't believe her then, but I do now. It just seemed like decorating would take me from other things I wanted to do, and anyway, why would I do it? One decision I did make -- to get rid of the old heart lights that keep falling off the string and get new ones! But when I went to the store to buy new ones, they were all gone.

As a last minute effort, this afternoon I grabbed a few things out of the cupboard for a decorative touch, lit some candles, and baked white cake using my mother's heart-shaped cupcake tins. Then I frosted the tops with some "perfectly chocolate" frosting made from baking cocoa. There won't be a box of chocolates here this evening, and that's a good thing, but white cake with chocolate frosting will be a nice treat for dessert.

Mike's hunting buddy Ken went fishing yesterday and brought us a lovely big steelhead. Mike cut it into three roasts. He froze two and grilled the other this afternoon for our dinner. The rest will be simple -- green salad, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli. And then -- just a quiet evening together. What more could we want?


Love to all, Kathy


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

THE END OF THE LINE



Last Saturday as we walked the Kendrick Trail where the railroad bed has become a walking /cycling path, I was reminded of a day long ago when I rode that route on a train.

When my mother grew up in the village of Orofino, Idaho – back in the nineteen tens and twenties – the train was an important means of travel. In fact, even in the early ‘50s, I remember going to the depot with my parents to pick up this or that relative who traveled in by train. The passenger train soon disappeared from Orofino, and then we were left with a rickety old bus that no one wanted to ride.

In the summer of 1962, the railroad announced that passenger service between Lewiston and Kendrick would be discontinued. It was meaningless to me, but my mother wanted us to experience the train one last time and bought tickets for as many of the family as she could arrange. For the life of me, I don’t remember if we rode Kendrick to Lewiston or Lewiston to Kendrick. (I think it was the latter.) We only rode one way, and my dad and my sisters’ spouses were there to greet us after the ride.

From the vantage point of 50 years, I appreciate how my mother felt. She wanted to give her children a little part of history, a little of what she remembered of a way of life that was coming to a close. In reality it was already closed. Mostly, she wanted to experience it again for herself because she knew she could never do it again. Silly what seems important, isn’t it? She hadn’t ridden the train in years, and if she’d been told she had to, she probably wouldn’t have been happy about it. Mother loved the independence that her car gave her. She loved knowing that she could go anywhere she wanted to whether she wanted to or not.

As memories go, though, that train ride is a good one. My dad took the picture above. Back row, l to r: Harriet holding baby Rachel, Mother, me (Kathy), and Nina; in front: Becky, L.J., and Polly. Nina's baby Shann was about a year old and didn’t go with us. Nina said it was silly to take him because he wouldn’t remember it. KW

Sunday, February 10, 2013

CACHING ALONG THE KENDRICK TRAIL




I get antsy when my study and sewing is neglected. Mike gets antsy when we have a dry spell without geocaching.

Our last geocaching excursion was December 23. I remember it well. It was the day Hallie and Nick left after our Christmas celebration. That being six weeks ago, Mike had been watching the weather for a good opportunity to get out. Yesterday (Saturday, Feb. 9) was the day.

After breakfast I packed snacks for man and dog, the camera, and my cell phone. Mike had his GPS, his phone, some maps, and also the old “Gary Fisher” mountain bike. And so, the three of us set off for a fun day of geocaching along the Potlatch River at Kendrick, 23 miles east of Lewiston, where the defunct railroad track has been converted to a hiking/biking trail.

First, we left the mountain bike in a ditch on the trail east of town, across the highway from the old Brammer home. (The house and grounds surely miss the Brammers.)

Then we drove two miles to the other side of town. Here’s Mike at a cache on Little Bear Creek behind the school.  Note his “geocaching pants” with pen and stamp in a pocket on the leg.



Then we parked the Dakota at the point where this series of caches began.

 It’s winter and things weren’t always as they should be with the caches. Some were water damaged. For some, the clues were meaningless, such as “yellow flowers behind leafy bush” or “silver leaves.” Other caches were exposed or just plain missing.



“I hope the dog isn’t bored,” remarks Mike as we walk along.

“You hope – the dog – isn’t bored?” 


Here Mike and Nellie locate a cache on the other side of the fence.

After logging the last cache in the series, Mike rode the bike back to where we left the Dakota. In the time he was gone, Nellie and I walked to the city limits where Mike picked us up.

With that, you might think we’d be finished and ready to return home. No-no, not us! At Juliaetta, the little town about three miles west of Kendrick, we turned onto McGarry Grade where Mike had marked another three caches to visit. The views were spectacular, such as this one of Juliaetta.
 
This photo doesn’t quite capture the epiphany I experienced while hunting for this cache. Mike was bent double searching in the rocks, and I had just joined in the search when I happened to look up. “Ahhhhhhhhhhh,” sang the soprano angels.

And then we discovered that if we continued to the top by way of McGarry Grade and then down the other side of the ridge, we would come out at Cherry Lane Bridge. So, we did that, stopping only to order a veggie calzone from Papa Murphy’s for our supper. By the way, the calzone was decorated with pepperoni, which seemed a bit of a contradiction if you’re going vegetarian. KW