Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014


Sunset over Central Ridge
For Christmas, Hallie and Nick gave me a small tripod to assist me in taking pictures with my Coolpix P600, particularly useful in situations when the shutter speed is slow, such as nighttime shots or staged indoor shots. Hallie had a great time playing with it and taking delayed timer shots. I observe that almost everyone is more comfortable with the camera than I am. Oh well.
But I left the tripod behind Friday evening (Dec. 26), when I took the dogs and the camera and went out to tramp the south field. It was dusk and I just loved being outside to observe the landscape in the rapidly fading light. And then we had a rather spectacular sunset. KW

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The Pond

We didn’t have a lot to carry back to town on account of Christmas, but every year when we close the house for the winter we just naturally have things we want in town – yarn, guns, fabric, books, a bicycle or two – and lots of food. The farmhouse refrigerator has to be cleaned out and turned off, and certain things should be removed because of the cold.

So, we brought a load of stuff to town yesterday (Saturday, Dec. 27), arriving about 11:00. I set to work immediately to unpack and start the laundry.

The initial plan was that we would spend New Year’s at the farm so that I could take the tree down, pick up and put away, pack boxes, etc., but upon closer scrutiny of the weather forecast, we saw that it would be COLD – lows hovering at 0, highs at 10 or so. We began to re-think, eventually concluding that we should head right back out to the farm this morning to finish the weatherization.

So, after breakfast, we loaded the laundry, coolers, boxes, Bess and Nellie, and were on our way. The weather worsened as we neared Orofino and the Gilbert Grade became snow floor. It was slick and driving somewhat tedious. How grateful I was that our holiday travelers hadn't had to contend with this, but oh! It was beautiful! On top, we were breaking trail as we wended our way to the farm.

At the farmhouse, we set right to work. First I unloaded the refrigerator while Mike found heaters and extension cords. Then I moved to the pantry where I pulled out and packed all open products, oils, and other foodstuffs to use up over the winter. Mike got the 4-wheeler and brought the storage boxes for the tree from the barn.

It began to snow – lightly at first and then harder. It was clear I would need to abbreviate the undecorating process. Instead of putting the ornaments away, I carefully laid them on the ottoman trays, then covered them with towels. Mike helped me take the tree apart and store it in the boxes which he then returned to the barn. I hope Christmas 2015 sees us with a new tree. This one should be replaced.

While Mike drained the pipes, etc., I changed the lights in the kitchen window, took the wreath from the front door, and removed the artificial wreaths from the dormer windows. There’s plenty still to do, but it can wait until spring, if necessary.

An estimated 5-6 inches of snow was on the ground as we left the farm. While we were there, the snowplow came down the road and turned around at our lane. Road conditions were better on the return trip, and the snow turned to rain halfway down the grade.
Arriving back at the town house about 2:30, Mike unloaded the pick-up and asked what he could do to help me.

“Watch football,” I said.

“You want me to watch football?” he questioned.

“Yes,” I answered, “because you aren’t going to like what you’ll see me doing.” He didn’t argue but went off to sit by the fire and watch football.

So, for the next hour I unpacked, consolidated, and tossed. It's the tossing part that Mike wouldn't have liked, but sometimes it feels so right to do it. KW

Saturday, December 27, 2014


My mother’s birthday was December 27, and at our house, it was just short of a national holiday. Mother took advantage of her birth date to extend the Christmas season. A small tree was placed atop the television set which she decorated with specialty lights, antique bells, and boutique ornaments she made herself. That was her birthday tree, and her birthday gifts were placed under it. Daddy always prepared a dinner in her honor for as many of our family who could attend. Suffice it to say, it worked for her.

My great-grandfather, Lafe Dickson, whose diary I shared during advent, was also born on December 27. I’m posting here his Christmas and birthday entries:

Thursday, Dec. 24, 1896:
Christmas Eve
Weather fair but cloudy P.M.
Great preparations for Christmas going on on the sly at our house.

Friday, Dec. 25, 1896:
A.M., Gene, Ben, Frank, and self finished roofing our house. We went to Jack’s [Jack and Ina Dobson] where all of us [and some neighbors] partook of a fine dinner. Good feasting and good will prevailed. Weather fine. The Lord has blessed us with fine weather in which to do our work.

Saturday, Dec. 26, 1896:
Weather fair. Cloudy forepart of the day. Froze some last night. Thawed some today.

Sunday, Dec. 27, 1896:
This is my birthday. I am 63 years old. Ed Patchen [his son-in-law] went to P.O. and brought me the following:
one letter and bundle of quilt pieces from Lovisa E. Gleason [a relative]
Pension draft for $24.00
The St. Louis Globe Democrat
The weather is warm and like early spring. Did not freeze any last night.

From a vantage point nearly 120 years later, Grandpa Lafe’s weather observations still seem typical of a mild winter. We never know if an early cold snap will be followed by a mild winter or more freezing temperatures.

Hallie and Nick left the farm yesterday (Friday, Dec. 26) at mid-day, and Hallie reported the grade was clear and their trip uneventful. Today, Mike and I loaded the pick-up with as much stuff as we could get into it and headed down a snowy grade with the temp below freezing. We had planned to spend New Year’s at the farmhouse but looking at the forecast for a snowstorm and then cold, we’re now thinking of making a day trip tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday to take the tree down, pack food, and winterize the house.

Speaking of our Christmas tree, maybe you noticed that I raised it this year. We didn’t like that very well for a number of reasons. That tree just isn’t a fit for that spot, but, it’s time to replace it anyway. I’m considering a “pencil” tree for next year. KW

Friday, December 26, 2014


Bertha also insisted on making pies since I had my hands full – mince and pumpkin. One of each would be plenty, I said, but no – here came two each and ginger cookies frosted. She’d tried a new recipe. 
Ina Dobson, Christmas 1934

I thought of Grandma Ina’s quiet Christmas of 1934 as today, 80 years later, we celebrated our own quiet event in the same house. I can’t help but imagine the happy Christmas gatherings that happened here so many years ago.

 Nick and Hallie arrived at 10:45 Monday night (Dec.22). Mike and I sat up to wait for them, watching an episode of The Rifleman with bleary eyes. “Bark-bark-bark,” announced Bess as the car came up the lane. Nellie knew immediately who it was. (Nellie knows who comes in the middle of the night.) Hallie provided the dogs with “pig ear” treats. Then without further ado, all of us were off to bed.

It was a short night for me, however. At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday (Dec.23), as the owl hooted in a pine tree, Nellie whined at the back door. (Bess was there, too, but she lets Nellie do the whining.) I got up and let them in, and then they napped while I read and watched an old holiday movie on my iPad. (It was hours before anyone else was up.)

Tuesday, Hallie had arranged to work by means of laptop and phone. Mike and Nick took the dogs and tramped the property while I made a batch of cut-out sugar cookies. My plan was to make quick work of decorating them with white frosting, but Hallie suggested I wait till later so that we could make a retro experience of it. Did I have food coloring, she wanted to know. I didn’t think so, but lo and behold! – I found some in the cupboard. So, the frosting went from white to red, green, and yellow, and we decorated cookies until suppertime. Great fun!

Before supper, Mike suggested we light our annual Christmas bonfire. Last year our burn pile, consisting mostly of yard waste, was too wet to light. This year we were able to get the fire started and an estimated three-fourths of it burned. With the camera on a tripod, I was the official bonfire photographer. (Maybe I’ll get better pictures next year.

Following Hallie’s suggestion, we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. There was a Skilsaw for Nick and work pants for Hallie, books and socks and pajamas and other nice things all around. But take a look at this Fitz & Floyd canister set that Mike found for me at The Hangar, a secondhand mall in Clarkston. I’m not quite sure if it was a joke, but I know he had some fun with the doing of it – and isn’t that what Christmas should be? These canisters were produced in 1995, and while they’re a little chipped, I’m convinced he got a reasonable deal.
Christmas morning Santa filled our stockings with many useful and tasty items which we enjoyed after a breakfast of waffles. We rounded out our time together with cooking and eating, board games, dominoes, gin rummy, and playing with the dogs. 

Later . . . KW