Tuesday, September 29, 2015


When daughter Hallie and Nick visited over Labor Day, Hallie was concerned that old dog Nellie didn't appear to be comfortable on the worn out old dog pillow. She said she had seen a memory foam dog pillow and wondered if Nellie would like it. So, I ordered one from Amazon. 

Two days later, Jeff (the UPS guy) delivered our memory foam pillow. Shopping by price tag, I had purchased one that wasn't big enough for two dogs at one time, but both Nellie and Bess tried it, depending on who got there first. As temps cooled a bit, Nellie began to make herself comfortable at the foot of the bed where I keep extra pillow in shams, leaving Bess to stretch out on the new dog pillow.

Yesterday it occurred to me that Nellie was really saying she didn't care too much for the memory foam pillow. It just doesn't have that cozy "give." I suggested to Mike that we bring down one of the big Costco pillows in storage. We did that, and Nellie immediately curled up on it for a nice long afternoon nap. Last night, Bess got to the pillow first and Nellie was a little put off by that, but eventually she pushed on, too. There's really room for two dogs on the big pillow.

This morning, Nellie opted to nap again on the big pillow instead of going for the morning walk.

So, I think it's clear that Nellie prefers that big Costco pillow. 

[The picture shows Nellie napping comfortably on a large Costco pillow. Also shown are the new memory foam dog pillow and one of the memory foam rugs the dogs used during the summer.]

Saturday, September 26, 2015



There’s something about the old homeplace that sparks the imagination. Perhaps it’s the remote location, the old trees, or the abandoned barn. Or maybe it’s something left of the personalities that shaped the place or the bustling activity now swallowed up in quietude – quiet like a house after people leave. Or maybe it’s the landscape, essentially the same after hundreds of years, give or take buildings and trees.

The fire burned the area I call “the park” -- the head of the draw just off the lane. Mike and I have cut some wood there. It’s a lovely area, but I don’t explore it because of tall grass. The fire made it accessible, and for now, it’s been wonderful to investigate the enchantment there.

This tree, apparently a chokecherry, sits in the middle of the park. Mike thinks it will survive the fire damage it sustained. I hope so. Other choke cherry trees were not burned. Last year I discovered cherries on these trees, but not being certain of identification, I didn’t use them. Now that I know they are chokecherries, I regret missing the opportunity because they often don’t bear, probably because it’s too cold in the draw during the spring. Now that I’m reassured as to identification, I’ll watch them more closely.
Here’s another sight that lends enchantment – a fir tree apparently growing out from the trunk of a downed tree. Interesting. We aren’t sure where its nourishment came from, and it’s probably over now since the host tree is cut on both ends. Too bad.

Something in us loves a wending pathway disappearing around a bend. The fight against the fire caused new trails to be built and old trails to be revealed. Before they disappear again in undergrowth – because they will – I want to walk along them. It won’t be far.

And sometimes I just make my own enchantment. As we were fertilizing the trees at the pond last spring, Mike suggested we should string a certain pine with solar Christmas lights. We could see it from the house, he said. (Now he tells me he doesn't remember saying it.) I found the idea inspiring and couldn’t wait until Christmas to try it. Taking advantage of my newly fenced garden, I purchased “fairy lights” and strung them along the fence. [You can just make them out in the picture at the top of this post.] Then I established “Pixieville” inside the fence in a couple of old pans we found at a dumpsite on the property.

And here’s a picture of the top of the old pine tree that fell, all decked out for Halloween. KW


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"One less bell to answer . . ."

It’s true. We have joined the ranks of those using only cell phones for voice communication. Please remove our “4500” number from your contacts list.

Actually, we’ve contemplated this move for some time. The land phone seldom rang, and when it did, it was usually not a personal call. Some months back we removed long distance service, and we only needed a little push to be finished with land service altogether. That came three weeks ago in the form of a buzz on the line. An appointment for repair was scheduled, but CenturyLink failed to show.

The only problem is that we don’t have great cell service at either house. The farm sits where service is marginal and the gully location in town isn’t good either. 

By the way, it was unbelievably difficult to unsubscribe from CenturyLink's service. KW

Monday, September 21, 2015


Let’s see – where did we leave off in the saga of the Kenmore Elite refrigerator that wasn't cold enough? I’m not sure, so I’ll just start with late June. I answered the phone one evening and a young-sounding female representing Sears congratulated me for having purchased Kenmore appliances and mentioned the recent successful refrigerator repair.

“Just a minute,” I said, “there was no repair." I explained that the tech said there was nothing wrong with the refrigerator and did not install the parts. "The refrigerator still isn’t cold enough, and we don’t know what to do.”

“Oh!” she said, “I’m sending an email to my supervisor about this right now, and someone will call you.” She assured me that they would call me. I was impressed. At last, someone at Sears was listening. I was sure a resolution would be forthcoming. Wrong!

We waited for the call through that week – and the next – and then it was the Fourth of July. And then Mike settled down to deal with Sears. He learned the outreach call had come from the extended warranty division. Not owning the extended warranty, we didn’t qualify for the services of this division, they said. And besides, they never initiate or return calls to customers. He was advised that the rep who promised a callback from her supervisor would be put on report. They referred him to the general customer service number. So, Mike called that number – and waited on hold – and no real progress was made that day.

The next day he called customer service again. Finally someone agreed to exchange the refrigerator on the grounds that we had initiated complaints within 30 days of purchase. The call took a long time while the rep completed paperwork. She advised us to call back the next day for further info on the exchange, including delivery date.

Mike called again the next day. This time he reached a male who said the agreement to exchange was in error. “Look,” I heard Mike say, “I just spent over $4,000 on Kenmore appliances. Do you mean to say you just don’t care about my satisfaction?” That seemed to be a turning point in the conversation, and with more waiting on hold, the rep agreed to an exchange. They would call us on July 14, he said, to provide the delivery date. (They would call us???)

July 14 came and went with no call from Sears. We weren’t surprised.  Mike and I agreed that we were stuck with the fridge. I turned it down to its lowest setting again, and we enjoyed cooler – if not cold – milk.

Wyoming landscape
Fast forward to July 31. We were stopped for the night in Rawlins, WY, on our way to Denver for a 10-day stay. Checking my email, I found a message from Sears announcing that my new refrigerator would be delivered Monday, Aug. 3. “Arghh!” I screamed. I couldn’t log into the website, but eventually we reached Sears through the customer service number and were able to change the delivery date to August 17 -- not without considerable discussion, though.

As arranged, the new fridge was delivered August 17. It’s just like the previous fridge – cooling issues and all. But – we think it's better than the previous model. It seems these new fridges just aren’t as cold as we’ve come to appreciate. It also makes ice s-l-o-w-l-y, which I believe is a design flaw, and it dispenses water that isn't cold.

Bottom line: If your present refrigerator does a good job for you, don’t be in haste to buy a new one. KW

Friday, September 18, 2015


You don’t need to tell me that felling and cutting trees is dangerous. My extended family has suffered two losses through woods accidents – my mother’s first husband and then my half-sister, Nina.

Mike says that my brother Chuck taught him everything he knows about cutting wood, and he practices those lessons annually when he and a friend assist each other in getting firewood. I’m always relieved when they don’t have to fell a tree – and so are they.

The area in question -- looking eastward from the north field
Yesterday, as we continued to clean and clear after the fire, we got into a very dangerous situation. The pine in question was the one that broke in the lane. It wasn’t super-big, but it had twined a limb around a buddy pine. After Mike cut it, it refused to fall. 
Every attempt was made to encourage it -- wedges, another  cut, etc. -- but it was determined to remain standing. So, Mike attached cables to a limb of the tree and attempted to pull up the lane. The tree didn't fall with the initial effort.
Tree pulled off stump
With the second try it pulled off the stump and was now standing on the ground with the support of its neighbor -- a precarious situation.

Mike climbed tree to attach cable
Yes, it was scary, but I preferred we should take care of it nevertheless. So, Mike climbed the tree to attach the chain as high as he could. 

And now it's down
Then he turned the Dakota around and pulled from the other direction – down the lane instead of up. And that did the trick. The tree fell. (The dogs and I were well out of the way.)

We cut only this broken tree. Two other pines remain standing. But, I suspect I will have to say good-bye to my favorite “pine-apple” tree. I picked the available apples and made sauce last night. KW

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


As with any “household” emergency, the fire left us with work to do – work that was not part of our original schedule. And it’s backbreaking work -- work this non-physical girl doesn’t want to do.

At our invitation, a forester from the Idaho Department of Lands in Orofino visited the farm last week to advise us with regard to scorched timber. He gave us his best estimate as to which trees would survive and which should be cut. Our property is not timberland, but the fire burned through pine and fir at the edges of the fields, leaving us with a number of standing trees that will soon die. Even though the work is hard and dangerous, it’s one thing to be able to do it ourselves. It’s quite another to find help to move off the huge pines that fell during the windstorm.  

For years, Mike has owned a 1975 Dodge Ram as his hauling vehicle. Finally, after the last wood-cutting session in June, Mike drove it home and wrote “r.i.p.” on it. Then came the search for a replacement, but since he couldn’t find an old Ram, he bought a 1995 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 expanded cab. The good news is that it’s a comfortable vehicle with some amenities, such as a working radio/tape deck, air conditioning, and comfortable riding space for the dogs. (Now you know what’s important to me.) But as Mike says, “It ain’t no power wagon.”

Anyway, Saturday (Sept. 12), we packed Mike’s wood-cutting tools and my crocheting into the bed of the Silverado, invited the dogs to settle into the back seat, and set off once again for the farm. The trip went well.

Saturday afternoon, Mike took the 4-wheeler and headed through the north field to the draw to survey the damage and determine a work plan. He left the 4-wheeler at the edge of the field above the draw, but unfortunately, it then traveled by itself down the steep embankment, rolling over three times before coming to rest on the bank. The good news is that Mike was not on it at the time – or under it when it landed. He set it to rights and then walked back to the house. I went back with him, and by cutting away some shrubbery, he was able to navigate the 4-wheeler into the draw and out by way of the old road. It now runs rough, but we were able to use it.

Sunday was not a day of rest for us. Mike felled and limbed one of the fir trees, and we worked most of the day piling slash, cutting firewood, loading and stacking. We pulled several loads of the firewood out with the 4-wheeler (“vroom-vroom, cough, sputter, vroom, click, click, vroom”), its little trailer well-loaded with limb wood and smaller logs, and those we stacked at the woodshed. Then Mike drove the Silverado into the draw, and we loaded big logs onto it to be split in town. Some of the largest logs we left to be split on site [see opening photo above].

Well, it was tiring work (if I may whine), and it wasn’t over. We worked again Monday – and it isn’t over yet. But – we had to come back to town for appointments. The story goes on. KW