Sunday, February 26, 2017


Seems like the annual trend in the new year is to reorganize one's home, especially the cluttered areas -- the sewing room, the workshop, the kitchen, etc. To that end, we're bombarded with ideas -- baskets, plastic containers, closet organizers, etc., which will supposedly solve all our clutter problems -- at least until next year. 

Daughter Hallie and Nick have continued to devote hours to the renovating of their little Tudor in Seattle. Naturally, during the winter months, the work is mostly indoors. I think they're about finished with the two bedrooms, the front bedroom now serving as a den. (I think I have that right.) Now they're working on the living and dining rooms. They had professional help with the ceiling, I believe, but for the most part, they do the work themselves. 

The mess

Last week Hallie said that she was tired of the dust and clutter, especially in the work area. 

The cabinet

Nick found a cabinet at Goodwill (or a thrift store) for $35, which he subsequently bought and managed to bring home. She said it was a little smaller than what she had envisioned, but it would do. Then she had the work of cleaning the dust off paint cans, supplies, and such.  
The glory

It's always a good feeling when you've made a positive change. 

And I'm proud of them for thinking to buy used, thus practicing to reduce waste in the world. KW

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Snowy mountains from a high point near our Clarkston home. Billowy white clouds remind us of March.
Mike invited me to accompany him on a quest to find a couple of “problematic” geocaches. We left the dogs at home and headed out mid-morning. The day was sunny but not really warm, so I wore my coat.

Our first stop was at a park in a downtown Clarkston residential area. It was a puzzle cache and sadly, we didn’t figure it out while we were there. The air was calm, the sun was bright. All was right with the world.

The Snake River at Hells Gate RV Park
Then we went on to an RV park near Red Wolf Bridge, and now I could hardly open the car door for the wind! The sun was bright but the wind felt as if it was coming off a snowy mountain. I was so glad I wore my coat!

This park offers a time line of the Lewis and Clark Expedition drawn into the sidewalk, and the object of the puzzle was to fill in missing numbers in the coordinates by answering questions about certain dates on the timeline -- not pleasant in the cold and the wind. We hurriedly jotted down our numbers and hurried into the car to solve the puzzle. The coords were nearby where metal figures commemorated the explorers. “Under foot” was the clue, but we didn’t find the “nano” cache until Mike read comments from a previous cacher.

Now, the “nanos” are tiny caches -- thumbnail size. This one is a magnetic container that unscrews in the middle. The log is a tiny strip of paper tightly rolled and inserted into the unit. In order to sign the log, you have to pull the roll out of the container, unroll it, date and initial, then re-roll and re-insert it into the container. It can be an ordeal when things go well, but – things didn’t go well. Once Mike had the log inserted into half of the unit, he dropped the other half.

We’ve had these kinds of experiences before. We know that once a small object drops between the seat and the console, it’s a black hole.
“*--*!” said Mike.
A view of North Lewiston
We searched to no avail, and finally decided we should just go home, fix it up – perhaps with a new unit – and then return it. No need to worry that someone would look for it today anyway, I opined. We drove to another cache, which Mike found easily, and then we returned home.

I knew Mike was upset, so I didn’t say anything, but I had to stifle the urge to giggle. We will laugh about this one day, I thought to myself, – just not now.

At home, Mike hoped to suck up the lid with his little shop vacuum. Since he would be staying outside, he handed me his GPS to carry into the house. I reached to grasp the GPS but at the last nanosecond, I realized he was also handing me what remained of the tiny unit. I missed it, with the result that the little log fell – you guessed it – between the seat and the console. Mike had plenty to say. The irreplaceable part of the whole unit was now gone.

Meanwhile, as we were exiting the car and preparing to search under the seats, Mike discovered the missing lid in the driver’s seat. Now just the log was missing and we wanted to find it. We worked quite a while. At one point I was sure I had found it, but it proved to be a piece of popcorn wrapped in a little strip of paper. Finally Mike was successful in capturing the log with his vacuum. He cleaned the nano unit, reassembled it, and took it back to the cache site.

But before he left, we looked at each other – and laughed. KW

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


I took the camera and toured our yard today for signs of spring. No matter how hard the winter has been – and this winter has been cold with ice and snow – by mid-February, signs of spring begin to pop out.

A few things await my attention
And that’s about all I have to say today. This winter wasn’t particularly productive in terms of completed projects. I try not to dwell on that because it isn’t – well – it just isn’t productive. If I worked for a company, I know they would press me to show something for my time, but I’m retired, you know, and nothing much pushes me.

Dogs never worry about accomplishment
And I believe we can’t always count progress tangibly. Perhaps the most important steps we take are unseen to the human eye – hours of prayer, overcoming sadness and grief, supporting those in need, etc. Short days and long nights are conducive to self-examination and deep thinking.

But enough of that. The daffodils and crocus bring their message of renewal. Onward! KW

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Mother and me, 1959

I well remember a discussion with my mother as we did the supper dishes when I was about eight years old. “You know that your daddy and I are older than your friends’ parents, don’t you?” I said yes, I did. Somehow I knew from the beginning that my family was different from most with those “grown-up” sisters and a brother coming and going.

“We’re old enough to be your grandparents,” she went on, “and sometime someone might just ask you if we’re your grandparents. That’s all right. Just say that we’re your parents.”

Grandpa Portfors, Mother holding Polly Profitt, Nina
So, yes – enough years separated me and my parents that they could easily have been my grandparents. That’s why I said a couple of weeks ago that two generations separated me and my parents.

According to, “As a matter of common knowledge, we know that a generation averages about 25 years—from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child—although it varies case by case. We also generally accept that the length of a generation was closer to 20 years in earlier times when humans mated younger and life expectancy was shorter.” (You can read the entire article here.)

Grandpa Portfors, Mother holding Keri Walrath, Chuck Walrath
Of course, my parents are still the parent generation, and I am the child, but in terms of experience, they were two generations older than I. They were old enough to be the parents of many of my classmates’ parents. And my grandparents were old enough to be my great-grandparents – even my great-great-grandparents. In my opinion, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were so old that they never really related well to my world. (Okay, you may have thought that of your parents, too, but in my case it was true!)

We speak of “the generation gap,” but when that gap is extra wide, I think it makes a difference in one’s upbringing. It’s not so much the years that matter but the parental values, their frame of reference. I didn’t see this in a positive light until I was about 50, but I now cherish the firsthand experience I had with the values of earlier generations.

Vance & Dorothy Dobson with Kathy, 1959
When I was still a little girl, my parents did become grandparents. From time to time, as a new grandchild joined the family, a four-generation picture would be taken. I admit I felt left out because I did the math and knew it would never happen for me.

It’s a huge subject, and I’m moving on. Next up: a subject easier to contemplate. KW

Saturday, February 11, 2017


The Valley from the landfill
Mike announced that he didn’t have anything on his schedule for Saturday (Feb. 11) and wondered what we might do. He thought of shopping at Costco, and I added taking our bottles and cans to the recycling site in Lewiston. So, it was agreed. We gathered all items saved for recycling, loaded the Dakota, and headed off to town.

Doing my part
At the recycling site, all items are dumped together, which makes me skeptical that this is anything but a garbage dump. As we tossed our recycling down the chute, I took a long look at what was already there. I saw boxes, magazines, bottles, and cans but also items that shouldn’t be there, such as bread sacks and Styrofoam “carry-out” boxes. I’m glad it’s not my job to sort it. Well, it’s the only site available to us for recycling of plastic and cans, so we’ll use it and hope it’s working on some level.

Interestingly, a gas grill was sitting there as well as some other appliance, bringing to focus again that the problem of disposal relates to virtually everything we own, not just our plastics, etc.
Then we went to Costco. Predictably, warmer temps brought the shoppers out, but we were able to navigate. We only had a few items on our shopping list, but seeing a display of rugs (runners) at $10 each, we bought three for the farmhouse kitchen. (Remember the farmhouse? It seems long ago and far away.) But when we came to the vanilla, I suffered sticker shock -- $23.99 for 16 ounces. I put it back, but I can hardly get along without vanilla. I guess I’ll be using that imitation stuff until the price goes down again (hopefully). KW

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Mike has been under treatment for an old Achilles’ tendon ailment that flared a couple of months ago. He now has orders to stay off it as much as possible with no walking more than half a mile. So, he was not allowed to shop with me on Friday.

Nellie and Bess enjoy their morning naps.
Shopping these days takes a lot of organization, but once the paperwork was done and the catalogs and cardboard loaded in the car for the recycling bins, I was finally ready to go. My reusable shopping bags live in the car (and now also my new reusable produce bags), or I would never remember them.

As a part of reducing plastic usage, I promised to exchange my disposable razors for one with replaceable blades. Frankly, the razor industry has confused me for years, which is why I use a disposable in the first place. And once again I was confused by the choices on the razor aisle. Razors that lather? Razors with scents? Twenty razors screamed “take ME, take ME!” Knowing nothing, I closed my eyes and tossed a Schick, packaged in a non-recyclable plastic “bubble,” into my cart. A disposable will last me six months, so I should have put more thought and research into this. I probably helped Walmart more than the environment.

“There are just so many choices!” I overheard a shopper complain in another aisle. “Yes, too many choices – everywhere,” I silently agreed, and I think that’s part of the problem. (Don’t get me started on packaged cheese.)

Then I went to Albertsons. You all know I have a love/hate relationship with Albertsons. Yes, there are other stores, but the location is convenient (next door to Jo-Ann’s) and the gas rewards significant. Before Christmas I shopped enough to earn a nice 2-quart Farberware pan. They have good specials, but since the merger with Safeway I notice the produce and dairy products are short-dated and the shelves are often not well-stocked, for whatever reason.

I loaded apples, onions, and potatoes into my reusable produce bags, and of course, I had my reusable shopping bags at check-out.
Streets icy Saturday morning; good I shopped Friday.

“Guess what’s coming up,” said the cashier.
“Monopoly?” I ventured.
“YES!” she said loudly. We agreed that the company’s Monopoly game is a useless waste of time.
“I’d hate for you to lose your job for what you’re saying,” I said in confidential tones.
“Why would I lose my job for saying something we all know is true?” she shouted. Hmmm. I let it go. KW

P.S. Here's a link to "green sewing ideas" from the Nancy Zieman blog (here).