Monday, August 03, 2015

Sisterhood in the Selle 'hood

There's an evening and morning assortment here.  We can still manage some decent photos in spite of all the smoke in the air.  In fact, the smoke from regional forest fires has greatly enhanced the big moon and sun light shows of the past couple of days. 

My evening assortment, which runs down to the calf wishing someone would put it back in its pasture, unfolded after my sisters and I drove over to Pack River General Store to celebrate National Sisters' Day.

Until about 4:30 yesterday afternoon, we didn't know there was a National Sisters' Day, but it said so with a poster on Facebook, so it must be true, right?

Well, we didn't need much fact checking to use the event as an excuse for another food and foto adventure.  

While dining at a picnic table in the shade outside the store with only one bee bothering us, we enjoyed some short visits with other customers rolling in to grab their Sunday dinner before the 7 p.m. closing time.

One of those was Erin McGovern Roos who lives out here in Selle and is loving it.  Barbara and I both had Erin as a student back in the '90s.  Nowadays, she teaches at Sandpoint High and coaches volleyball.  

We caught up on some family news----Patti, good luck with your surgery.  Erin went on her way with her oldest son who's gonna play in a youth world series baseball game this coming week. 

After a wonderful dinner of lasagna for Laurie and me and burrito for Barbara, we went hunting for photos, figuring the haze was going to present a challenge.  

We didn't go far before turning down a road into a subdivision not far from Northside School. That's where we hit pay dirt, as deer, unaccustomed to car traffic, were moving in the woodsy field north of the road.  (Not far from your old digs, Helen)!

And, that sun peeking through the aspen was something to behold.  We also stood at the intersection watching and recording the sun dipping behind the Selkirk Mountains. 

Later, we drove by the field where the elk have been contentedly munching on oats.  On the other side of the road, we saw one lone calf, which would like someone to put it back into its pasture.  

A motorist came by and reported that the calf had been out since the night before.  He had tried to send it back through the fence, with no success. 

Barbara snapped her share of elk photos with her big lens, not only on Jacobson Road but also in the massive Poelstra hayfield along East Shingle Mill Road.  

In both cases, elk and deer mingle with each other while keeping their bodies fueled up on the rich pickin's.  

In both cases, it's a beautiful sight to photographers but probably not to the farmers trying to salvage their crops. 

Speaking of which, I've had to give up on this year's edition of manure-pile pumpkins. The evening visitors have eaten every last pumpkin.  They finished them off Saturday night when I forgot to cover the pumpkins with Lefty's horse blanket. 

Early this morning I looked out the window to see a nice buck returning to the woods from pumpkin-pile area behind the barn.  I noticed later that most of the plant infrastructure has been chomped off. 

Sorry, next-door neighbor, Bev.  I tried to fill your request for a couple of pumpkins this year.  You're gonna have to go over to Hickey Farms, I guess. 

The big red sun was still casting its spell this morning as it came over the Cabinets, adding some neat lighting to Taylor's cow pasture.  

While I was snapping photos, my neighbor and former student Terry drove by on her way to work at Luther Park.  She stopped and remarked about the phenomenal beauty we've enjoyed from the red orbs that light up our daytime and night-time skies. 

Today marks the last of the hot, hot days, so I think people are celebrating with thoughts of tolerable temps. 

So goes this interesting, memorable summer.  Happy Monday. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Border Collie Love, et. al. at Priest Lake

Loving Border Collies:   Words cannot describe the depth of love Border Collie owners feel for their dogs.  But tattoos can!

Yesterday while walking the dock at Coolin, Idaho, on Priest Lake, I discovered some kindred spirits who have found a lasting way to express the true passion they have felt toward their 4-legged best friends. 

A family from Harrington, Wash., at least three generations, was about to set out in their boat to cruise the pristine lake and playground, located about an hour's drive northwest of Sandpoint.  

Let's just say the generally breath-taking panoramic views of this lovely body of water surrounded by mountains were not exactly ideal, thanks to smoke from a forest fire burning on Parker Ridge northwest of Bonners Ferry. 

Though the air was not clear, the water was, as it always seems to be, crystal clear. 

This family in their boat were out for summer enjoyment because the annual wheat harvest ended earlier than usual this year.

"Was it a good harvest?" I asked.

"No," said, the nice gentleman pictured below, but the less-than-expected yield and the smokey air were not going to stop them from enjoying a great family outing, complete with Miss Ambrosia.  

She's nine months old, and she's one of five Border Collies the family loves. 

"Most are geriatric," one family member said, announcing that Ambrosia was the pup. 

A couple of sentences about loving Border Collies, and out came the body art.  

The family spokesman showed off two tattoos on his arms, celebrating the memory of black and white buddies that had added to his daily life on the farm.  

As lovely Ambrosia sat like a queen at the rear of the boat, another family member showed off his new tattoo, still healing, but forever remembering his BC buddy Jake who had crossed the "rainbow bridge," just days ago. 

Soon they took off across the water, as I stood watching and taking a few shots of their boat and thinking I really liked these friendly farm folks from Harrington who not only walked but wore the talk of indescribable love for indescribably wonderful dogs. 

That's how it is when you fall in love with Border Collies. 

My sisters and I left for Priest Lake rather late in the afternoon.  We needed to get our chores done so we could enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening.  

Bill had gone to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch to speak about Humbird Lumber Co. history to the Northwest Red Angus Assoc.  

Barbara and Laurie had never had the opportunity to see the lake, so there was a mission involved----see as much as possible in the short period of time. 

That didn't stop us, though, from purchasing ice cream in waffle cones from the historic Leonard Paul store in Coolin.  

As we strolled around outside the store, enjoying our respective flavors of cream and cones, I announced that we probably would not have any John Stockton sightings (he's a famous NBA Hall of Fame basketball player for anyone who doesn't know).  He owns a home at Coolin. 

A reliable source had told me that Aug. 1 was an important day in the Stockton family, as John's son David (he's a famous Gonzaga player just like his dad and is starting out with the pros) was getting married yesterday in Spokane.

So, we didn't keep our eyes peeled for Stockton sightings----just enjoyed the leisurely pace in downtown Coolin.

Then, we moved on to the Priest Lake Museum grounds, drove through the congestion at Hill's Resort and took in one more view of the lake at Reeder Bay picnic ground.  While driving though Elkins Resort nearby, my sisters were picking out which cabin they'd like to rent some day. 

Hamburger time at Nordman Restaurant revealed that the honey mustard dressing was a new recipe----not the same as the cook who had worked there forever put out.  It was good as was the burger.  

We chased that forest fire, deep orange blue moon all the way home.  Barbara took a few photos from one stop but regretted not being at City Beach when it came over the mountains.  

This morning I didn't have to chase the forest-fire reddish orange sun which popped up from the Cabinets.  It just stayed there in all its glory for me to snap a photo.  

Of course I wasn't driving the highways; I was just walking down our driveway. 

Smoke was definitely in the air up Priest Lake way, but our experience turned out just fine, filled with many nice memories, including some remarkably touching tattoos on folks with farmer tans and big, loving hearts. 

Happy Sunday. 

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Saturday Slight

First things first.  First, it's August First.  'bout time the date actually matches the beastly hot temperatures. 

Yes, it's gonna be miserably hot today, as it was yesterday and as it's gonna be tomorrow BUT then, I think we'll survive the rest of the summer, at least temperature-wise. 

And, since it's finally August after three months of hot,hot, hot, I won't complain too much. At least August is doing what it's supposed to do. 

Next, on the first things first list, I've gotta talk about my camera and my friend Mike and his wife Randy at Image Maker Photo Shop in downtown Sandpoint.

Even though we already were on a first-name basis, this week I have Mike and Randy, and their adorable mini-daschund Solstice firmly etched in my mine.

That's cuz it seemed that a whole lot of top soil had become firmly etched inside my camera, destined to stay there until something broke it loose.  

I'm thinking the "stuff," as Mike calls it, suffered its own mini-earthquake the day I fell, spraining my left wrist and watching my camera fly out of my right hand to crash land on the ground nearby. 

A while back I started noticing little water-type spots on some of my images.  Sometimes they were there; sometimes they weren't.  Well, recently they seemed to show up more often, so I decided a camera cleaning was in order.  

Mike cleaned the camera from stem to stern.  I brought it home, took some pictures, and saw spots, many in different places.   Hated to call Mike, but I did.  He happily took the camera back and cleaned it again---same-day service. 

Bill brought it home for me Thursday night.  I went outside, took a picture of the sky, came in, downloaded it and found a spot in the upper left-hand corner.  Upon closer inspection, I could see a few more. 

Frustration is not the word for how this camera junkie felt.  I sent the photo to Mike and then told Bill I was going to go take some more pictures and try to see a pattern in the inner workings of my camera.

So, we drove to Sunnyside, mainly on a camera mission.  Most of those pictures were okay, but some still had spots and one had what looked like a bunch of black dandruff right in the middle of the image.

Yesterday Mike called back and said to bring the camera in, and he'd work with it while I was there.  So, I did, and he did. We both agreed that residue inside had to be sloughing something inside due to certain camera/shutter movements.  

After a cleaning, he took pictures of the sky, and we still found one spot.  So, he cleaned it again.  Finally (fingers crossed), no spots. 

I brought the camera home and started taking some pictures, just to reassure myself that all dirt had left the premises inside my camera. I couldn't focus the camera. 

NO! Why is this happening, I thought.  No way could I take that camera back to Mike one more time and tell him this time that after all that cleaning, the camera wouldn't focus. 

At least, before resorting to that scenario, I was going to inspect every possibility of why the camera would not focus when I pushed the button. 

I finally discovered that when Mike took his photos of the sky, he had changed the lens to manual focus.  Thank God.  I switched it back, and my camera started working again. I'm old enough these days to realize that often operator error does cause most of our unsolvable problems. 

A satellite technician told me a while back that sometimes he has gone to clients' homes to figure out their unsolvable mysteries with their Internet/computers and has, as diplomatically as possible, instructed them to plug the cord in.  

Electrical stuff does work better when plugged in, just as cameras do when they're on the right setting. 

Long story short, I really appreciate Mike and Randy for their patience with me and my dirty camera.  We all tried to figure out the mystery together; eventually we found success, and they have assured me that if I encounter any similar problems in the next few days to bring the camera back.  

That's great hometown service, and I do appreciate it very much. 

So, today's photos simply represent some fun shots from last night and this morning with a clean camera.

Please don't mistake the sun flare in the top shot for spots. At first, I didn't think I liked that photo because I had shot directly toward the sun, but upon closer inspection, I loved the whimsy of it all, which reflected the moment.  

We experienced a little "passing the buck" last night when trying to decide where we were going to go to dinner.  Bill told Debbie that since she was the last one to arrive and since we hadn't seen her at Friday-night family meals in some time, she needed to know the new rules.  

Whoever shows up at the house last buys dinner, so it was Debbie's turn to buy.  Not skipping a beat, Debbie said, "Let's go to McDonalds."  Somehow that didn't meet with a lot of enthusiasm so we were back at square one. 

"Let's go outside and stand in the heat and decide," Bill suggested, figuring a little heat would inspire someone to come up with something just to get into the air conditioned cars.  

Well, several minutes later, we still hadn't decided.  Finally, someone said, "Let's go to Hope." 

Someone else suggested the Floater Restaurant, which has gone through a major renovation. Then, someone else suggested that we might not be able to get in without a reservation but let's go ahead and start there. 

We took the Jacobson Road route through the Selle Valley on our way to Hope, and, by golly, those elk Bill and I had seen the night before were still out in that oat field, chomping down on their dinner.  

I'm thinking they probably didn't even make reservations with whoever owns those oat fields. I'm hoping those oats weren't destined for someone's winter feed cuz those elk sure are helping themselves. 

Anyway, once in Hope, we arrived to a full parking lot at the Floating Restaurant and met with a stern but playful reprimand about making reservations BUT if we wanted to wait until after 8, we could probably be seated at a table. 

It was 7:15.  Nobody wanted to stand outside in that piercing heat, so we went to Sweet Lou's and actually had Bonner County's Favorite Bartender Seth as our waiter.  Yesterday Seth was featured in the "Best's of Bonner County" in the local paper.

All in all, the evening turned out just fine, and I'm a happy camper this morning, so far with my camera.  

Now it's time to get stuff done before the next round of high 90s saps us for the day. 

Happy Saturday.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Mid-Summer Eve

We went to Sunnyside last night.  After all, the Mariners were losing again, so we felt no need to endure the pain. 

Along Sunnyside Road, we saw joggers and swimmers.  

We also took some time to drive through the aftermath of last year's brutal wind storm which decimated Sunnyside Park. 

There's progress at the clean-up, but it will probably be a couple of lifetimes before the place ever returns to serene beauty which gave it such unique, endearing character.  

We saw some deer playing among the blow-down.  Roger, a longtime Sunnyside resident, was coming back from swimming when he stopped to chat while I was snapping photos of the local deer. 

Then, it was on to Hawkins Point and a stroll out on the dock.  The sun was hitting the hillsides, giving them a warm hue.  

Glad it was not too warm on those mountains. So far, we've been lucky with forest fires. Hope it stays that way. 

Then, we moved on around the loop which comes out on HWY 200.  While driving back home on Jacobson Road, we saw deer aplenty and a big herd of elk.  

A bittersweet irony of this long hot, dry summer:  the elk and deer are eating away at oat fields while cattle across the road can only watch, as they have eaten down nearly every spear of their summer grass.  

Seems like a good time to be a wild animal where you can munch your lunch wherever you choose while the domestics can only watch. 

Back home, it was nearly dark and a big moon was rising in the eastern sky.  

Twas a nice mid-summer eve outing.  I'm sure there will be more over the next few days as the temps once again soar to triple digits. 

Happy Friday. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bay Trail Stroll

---Barbara Tibbs Photo

Twas a truly pleasant antidote for my sisters and me on a hot afternoon. I have a feeling it's gonna provide a bit of elixir for some golden oldies in September.

When our class reunion for SHS 1965 occurs, we'll have activities along with the evening gatherings.

One of those side events involves a stroll along the Pend Oreille Bay Trail where classmates will geocache, look for birds, take pictures and simply enjoy visiting while walking.

I hadn't been on the trail since its most recent development, so when Bill and Willie took off for a fishing trip to the Moyie and the afternoon temperature began to soar, I called my sisters to see if they were ready to go on another adventure.

They were.  So, we soon met and drove to the trail head.  Neither Barbara nor Laurie had ever been on the trail.  Talk came up during our stroll of the age-old situation where we often take for granted what's seemingly right in front our noses. 

Pretty easy to get to the trail.  Simply drive to the Edgewater, turn left, go past all the Seasons at Sandpoint condos and park in the trailhead lot. 

In our case, we've just never found an opportunity to take in the downtown experience. Well, we took care of that yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with our cameras.

The nice thing about the trail is that there's no hurry.  Who would want to hurry in the midst of such abundant beauty and local history! 

To the right, the community's precious gem of Lake Pend Oreille, surrounded by spectacular Cabinet Mountains.  To the left, a woodsy area bordered above by the railroad grade which brought so many people to settle in Sandpoint.  

It's Bum Jungle to some and Humbird Mill to the history books. Remnants of the mill still exist and that train on the grade up above still brings freight and people to and through Sandpoint. 

Besides its sheer beauty, the trail offers a wonderful escape from the hot summer sun and a few places to dip one's toes in this year's uncharacteristically warm lake water. 

It's also a great place to meet and greet---either strangers or old friends.  We saw John and Ginny Moody and a few other familiar faces during our hour of relaxed walking and sight-seeing yesterday. 

Barbara, as expected, was taking her high quality photos and planning for yearbook kids to get down here with their cameras in October.  Yes, October on the trail must be breath-taking.  

We can't say for sure because, after all, we haven't walked the pathway in October.  I have a feeling we'll remedy that missing link in our local travel basket this year. 

For now, I'm beyond excited for the day in September when my classmates gather, especially those from afar, to enjoy each other and the gorgeous rendition of one of the absolute local haunts of yesteryear. 

Happy Thursday. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DELETE and Photographic Handicaps

I spent a night without my Canon camera.  It was tough. 

Hard to believe, but there truly WAS a sense of withdrawal for me.  

What to do with a whole evening and no camera!  

I did solve the situation, but not without some frustration. 

Yesterday afternoon I took my Canon to Image Maker for a sensor cleaning.  

After more than a year with the new lens, I started noticing spots on sky and water photos----always in the same place. 

A few years ago, I learned the hard way that particles do get inside one's digital camera, especially when changing lenses.   The particles cause spots to show up on photos.  

When we notice that they're always in the same places after downloading an afternoon's worth of the best scenic shots ever, it's time for a sensor cleaning. 

I bought my new lens last year to avoid such things.  It's a 3-in-1 lens (wide angle, regular and telephoto), which means it can stay on the camera at all times unless, of course,  I want to buy a bigger model to get even closer to far-away subjects. 

The new lens has provided me much joy over the past year and no spots until the last week or so.  Mike told me cameras are never air tight, so dust particles can find their way to the inner workings of the camera.

He also told me he'd have my camera back to me today.

In the meantime, I pulled out the Olympus digital Bill bought me several years ago. Though it hasn't been touched in some time, the batteries still work.  

Just had to clean a little dust film off the outside as it's been sitting on a dresser in the hallway, pretty much retired.

The major frustration with carrying that little camera around last night, just to satisfy my daily urge to take pictures, came with every photo and no clue of its quality or composition.

The window that shows us what we get when we use our digitals quit working some time ago.  So, everything's a guessing game, just like it was in the good ol' days when we toted around our film cameras.

In the not too distant past, which now seems like ancient history, we had to finish the roll of film before seeing our images.   

Sometimes that roll of film stayed inside the camera for several months or even a year or two before we took it to the drug store or a one-day photo shop and prayed that one or maybe two of the pictures we'd taken of company, pets or scenery would turn out worthy of showing off our friends. 

It also didn't matter how bad or good the photos from that roll of film happened to be----they still cost the same amount to be processed. 

My, how life has changed for us who do so much with visuals and with the written word! 

I'm thinking about my Brownie camera, which resides as an antique down on the living-room window sill and I think of all that crumpled-up notebook paper which found its way to waste baskets instead of a place of honor. 

Yup, dramatically upgraded tools for writing and photography have turned us into spoiled brats.  Back in the day, most folks gave up on writing because they wadded up so much notebook paper after so many rotten opening sentences written with ink pens that would not erase.  

A lot of folks also gave up on picture-taking after paying X amount to get a packet of maybe 12 photos with various levels of quality and frequent imperfections, ranging from clouded out images,  to telephone poles coming out of visitors' heads to blurred partial figures suggesting but hardly pinpointing just what creature happened to be racing past the lens when we pointed our camera its direction.

After all, if we took the photo six months ago, how we gonna remember?

Nowadays, thanks to technological development, we're back to fully enjoying our writing and photography opportunities.  

After all, instead of piles of wadded up notebook paper or total disgust at paying big bucks for a bunch of blur, we have a magical tool which helps us forget our mistakes almost instantaneously:  DELETE. 

DELETE and move on immediately to the next thought or image.  Makes us look a lot more talented or smarter than we really are!

And, therein lies the reason I felt frustrated carrying around my Olympus last night, knowing I'd have to go inside to download all my pictures and pray that one or two turned out.  

Well, here's the outcome of my evening photo adventure.  When I saw the results of my walk around the yard, the two photos above and one other were somewhat worth keeping.  That's from a batch of about a dozen.  Delete. Delete. Delete. 

By the way, those daisies in the top photo are not quite as blurry as they appear.  They're covered with netting to keep the deer out. 

Still, I can tell you that these will not be appearing at the Bonner County Fair competition, and I'll add that I'll be thrilled when Mike  from Image Maker calls and says I can go pick up my Canon and its lovely lens. 

Once again, I'll feel complete, packing that camera wherever I go, enjoying the instant gratification of deleting the bad and saving the good. 

We've come a long way, baby, in so many aspects of technology. 

It's fast. It takes virtually little effort to hide our mistakes, and it helps us save a little money.  

Now, if we could just experience a little progress with how we handle our immediate frustration the very second our technology takes a break. 

Happy Wednesday.  By the way, I pushed "delete" once in the two-word sentence before this one, and it was so quick, I can't even remember why!