Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Miscellany

It continues to be SO wet, but, thankfully, sometimes this stretch of wet actually has a pretty side----if ya don't have to walk in it, that is. 

Yup, we got a little break over the weekend, but the gloom has returned this morning, and I even heard the weather forecaster pointing out that Wednesday's gonna be a really soggy day.


No more griping about wet cuz I know it's turned into a broken record.

What you haven't heard me gripe about lately, though, is coffee.

Yeah, coffee is wet, and I don't mind that cuz, of course, I'm wetting my whistle, right? And, of course, it wakes me up in the morning and provides me an added touch of get-up and go in the afternoon---especially when combined with chocolate!

For some reason, coffee sometimes takes on an adversarial approach with me.  Take this morning, for example. 

I poured my cup, heated it up some more in the microwave, reached for the cup and the dang stuff spilled all over the front of the microwave tray and the counter, even slightly burning my thumb.  

That meant pulling out the wet, brown towel from the tray, getting another paper towel, dabbing up the mess, picking up the cup and seeing a brown ring on the kitchen counter, grabbing another towel to wipe that up and finally heading upstairs. 

This is the major third coffee assault for me in as many days. 

The first occurred Saturday afternoon as I was heading over to visit with my sisters.  I made a cup of Keurig coffee and used a store-bought paper cup with lid.  

Occasionally I save those cups and re-use them because any Subaru owner can tell you that the company manufactures a great car but for some reason has no clue how to design a cup holder for its console.  

No round depression at the base for the cup to fit in, especially if it's a regular coffee cup with a handle.  Even paper cups have no support, so we can always count on them tipping over with the very first left turn.  

After several spills involving convenience store cups WITH tops, I learned to put something substantial (wad of paper towels or a bottled water container) in the box with the coffee. That way if the cup leaned right; something was there to catch it. 

So, it's a challenge at best traveling with a cup of hot coffee in a Subaru.  I don't really know what happened Saturday, but I put my cup in the container, fully planning to give it some support, but while getting into the car, I must have bumped it. 

The cup tipped over, lid came off and all but about a quarter inch of hot coffee went every direction, including all over the car seat.  The coffee cup holder had about half an inch of coffee. 

So I cleaned up the mess, laid a towel on the driver's seat, made another cup of coffee, stuffed a water bottle with frozen water on the right side of the holder and carefully inserted coffee No. 2. 

Fortunately, this coffee behaved on the way over to Barbara and Laurie's, and I was able to enjoy sipping while visiting. 

The "most unkindest coffee cup debacle of all" came yesterday toward the end of my blogging time.  During blogging time, I did the usual sipping on my morning latte. 

Well, with the blog post wrapped up, I picked up the cup to finish off the last of the chocolate combination but got much more than I bargained for:  a mouthful of chocolate-covered coffee grounds.

Don't try this at home to simulate the sensation.  Just take my word----it's every bit as bad as the episode on TV's "The Middle" when Frankie is finishing off the last of a sack of potato chips, only to be swallowing them when Axl tells her that's where he put his toenail clippings.

There's a paper towel in my waste basket with a great big chocolate blob covered with coffee grounds.  Twas my first desperate decision the instant I knew what had just gone into my mouth and was almost headed down my throat. 

So far, I'm sipping on this morning's latte and not detecting any weird texture, but I can tell you that I will tread lightly when I get to the last drop, where yesterday's surprise was not at all good. 

There's my coffee saga, and I'm sticking to it----hoping for a break in the ongoing assaults. If Subaru would get its act together, the coffee maker would make the coffee hot enough for me and I'd be more careful when pouring water while brewing the next pot, none of this would happen. 

One thing for sure, none of it is gonna stop me from loving my coffee. 

In other weekend news, I was thrilled Saturday when Terra, who's taking Lefty in 4-H came over while it was sunny and gave Lefty a thorough grooming session.  Then, I showed her how to saddle and bridle him.  

I admit being very anxious when we took Lefty to the round pen for his very first ride of the year and for Terra's very first ride ever on Lefty. 

Within seconds, however, I knew the worry was all for naught.  Terra and Lefty did just fine. Lefty, like any kid or horse will do, tested her by going where he wanted to go. Within no time, Terra was letting Lefty know that SHE was the driver. 

She rode him for 45 minutes, and from what I saw Saturday, she and Lefty are gonna do just fine. 

When it was raining over the weekend and even when it wasn't, I was able to do a lot of "lawnmower limbing" in preparation for whenever a mower can go across the lawn without leaving ruts.  

Many trees around the yard have low-hanging limbs that definitely challenge my acrobatic skills while driving my lawnmower, so I've decided to give myself a break this year with no obstructed pathways under the trees. 

Some of the indoor plants also went to the greenhouse, and they seem to be surviving. The lawn and garden work is considerably behind schedule so far and probably will be for the next week as the rain continues to fall.

Slowly but surely, though, springtime work will happen.  For now, the strategy is to attack the little things that can be completed in spite of rain. 

And, now it's time to top off my latte and see if I can have full enjoyment to the very last drop.

Happy Monday. 

Liam and William on one of their usual No. 1 and No. 2 rounds, for Liam, that is. 

Terra and Lefty AND for the historical record:  sunshine!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Just Doggone Fun and CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???

It's a daily event, occurring two or three times each day, but I never tire of "three-dog days." They're funny, they're fun, and they're beautiful to watch.

Green grass of spring makes them even prettier. 

A year of maturity for Liam has helped too.

We still won't just send him out the door to play.  We watch him all the time, but our lives as pup owners have gotten much easier over the past few months.

That's because there's a routine, and these dogs like to follow a pretty strict routine of what they do and when they do it

Unfortunate for them, the routine doesn't always follow THEIR plan, but when it does, life is good several times a day. 

Plus, it's good for me because I not only get a lot of enjoyment and fresh air but more than enough steps to satisfy my Fitbit desires each day. 

On another note, it's Shakespeare's birthday today, so:  To HEAR or not to HEAR, that is the question and the news in today's local paper.

If ever there were an AUDIBLE need for our community, its story appeared in today's North Idaho Sunday. As one who signed on to announce one day of a horse show in July, I'd love to see this need funded and put into action by July 9 please! 

Indeed, a worthless piece of _____,
which has 

cacophoniously  limped along for 
years at our fairground outdoor arena. 

Even then, it would be at least 20 years overdue.  

Anyone who has ever sat through any event at the fairgrounds outdoor arena would most likely agree that they have missed out on some of the more important aspects of said event because the sound system was making alien noises or very little noise at all.  

Situations include everything from inaudible instructions, introductions and announcements of event winners. 

Anyone who has ever announced an event at that outdoor, like me, can testify that the job can be stressful, irritating and sometimes downright ineffective.  

The last time I announced a horse show, that contraption you see pictured above took on a nervous tick, ticking or tocking smack dab in the middle of virtually every phrase that came out of my mouth FOR A FULL DAY.

I can recall announcing several times, "Does any TOCK know how to TOCK this TICK sound system?" 

Well, of course, nobody ran up to help me out.  That sound system has a way of making an announcer look like a total fool.  In this case, the audience had no idea from which planet I had just arrived. Secondly, nobody had yet gone through the language primer for the strange new language emanating through the outdoor air of the fairgrounds. 

On that occasion, yelling at the top of my lungs from a bee-infested, beastly hot announcer's stand in mid-July was not gonna do the trick for several hours.

So, I simply tick-tocked my way through the rest of the show, and everyone adapted. After all, many of the regulars are used to a lifetime of not hearing the stuff the announcer is saying. 

That ancient sound system is infested with so many old-age diseases it would be difficult to summarize all the frustrations I've personally experienced while using it over the years. 

Long story short---tick tock---the fairgrounds has needed a new sound system since before the advent of the microwave.  

The staff and the Fair Board have moved forward on a fundraising project to earn the $40,000 or so needed to put up new speakers (those that work more than five feet from that not so comfy and remote announcer's stand) and, of course, an up-to-date system capable of projecting sound to those speakers.

I would happily serve as the poster child for this community need, and I have a feeling a few other announcers could do the same.  Before anyone gets all fired up and starts talking about how they can hear the sound whenever they go to the annual Idaho Draft Horse and Mule International Show, I think they'll learn that those folks bring in their own sound system. 

I have a feeling that if they do, even they wouldn't mind leaving it home and using the system which should be a vital part of the fairgrounds infrastructure. 

So, on this Sunday morning, I move that anyone who has ever thought they needed to buy a hearing aid after attending a fairgrounds outdoor event-----read the article (link above) save your money even the lesser amount you'd spend purchasing a hearing aid at Costco and donate to the Bonner County Fairground speaker cause.

I hope this happens sooner rather than later because I know the results would mean music to my ears as an announcer and probably everyone else who'd like to hear their granddaughter's name loud and clearly when she earns first place in the lead line class. 

Thanks so much and Happy Sunday.  Enjoy the rest of the doggie photos. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday Slightly Bright and Beautiful

After my wanderings and visits yesterday, I'm guessing a lot of real estate could go on the market around here----especially with yet another week of rain in the upcoming forecast.

Folks around here---be they life longers or newbies----have had enough.  I listened to a variety of rants yesterday, fully empathizing with each perspective.

I did look further ahead on the forecast, and, at least for now, there's potential for a nice week the second week of May.  How far off is that for folks who can remember precisely and unhappily when this all started last October?

Well, last night the weather folks on TV touted the fact that we have back-to-back dry days---yesterday and today.  

Yesterday afternoon turned out to be pleasant and beautiful, and this morning's not starting off so bad, 'cept that we can expect a lot of clouds with the warm day (60-65 degrees). 

The problem with all this moisture is that the ground never has a chance to dry out, and right now grass is growing AND people want to do something besides rolling up pant legs and tiptoeing through the high spots outside. 

We have no choice, however, than to make the most of it. I must say that the daffodils around the Lovestead have finally defied the weather gods by opening themselves up to the world, and they are pretty. 

The beat goes on in the nature department.  While slogging through the hay field yesterday and plotting my way through high ground, I approached a giant ponderosa pine, the only tree in the field.

Suddenly, a robust flutter startled me from my concentration.  I looked up in time to see a mallard mom take off and fly away.  Aware that she probably had a good reason to be in that unducklike spot, all by herself, I stepped closer and saw the eggs protecting her babies until it's their time to greet the world. 

I stayed only long enough to snap a quick photo and hoped that Mama would be back soon. 

The nice weather allowed me the opportunity to clean and tidy up our outdoor dog kennel, which pretty much functions as a storage space and a place for Festus to hang out in the dog house whenever he feels the urge.

That area looks a lot better, but we still have to wait to do much with the soggy lawn. Those garden planters I bought last year are, at least, ready for occupancy.  So, I put out some more lettuce.  

Plants from the house are gradually going to the greenhouse, now that I have the place heated and lit and fortified with loaded mousetraps. 

So, we're putzing at a rather slow pace but making progress. 

And, I'll call it good for this morning because there are only so many hours in a dry day in North Idaho, and we need to make them count.

Happy Saturday.  Enjoy some positive aspects of our Earth today---and every day. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our "Crick"

Sand Creek on Bronx Road, looking north

On another wet and very soggy day, why not concentrate on water?  As I turned off the highway at the Bronx Road yesterday afternoon, a thought popped into my mind.  

How about some different perspectives of Sand Creek?  

Now, I'm not completely sure about all the proper geographic details about the creek that runs through Sandpoint, emptying into Lake Pend Oreille.

It's hard to find good information about the Sand Crick that runs along HWY 95 south of Pack River, meeting up with "Little Sand Crick."  Little Sand originates from Schweitzer, flows down the mountain in an eastward direction, eventually heading south toward the lake. 

I'm sure there is some history buff out there who knows the geographical details about Sand Creek much better than I. 

What I do know for sure is that Sand Creek has been a good friend ever since I can remember. Heck, I was even born at the old hospital overlooking the crick. 

On our North Boyer farm, we lived within half a mile of the creek, whether we walked north to DeGroots and Delamarters or if we hiked across Mr. Best's hay field and followed various cow paths which wound down the hillside to the "crick." 

Yes, we always called it a "crick" and probably always will except for occasional strings of words that force us to call it a "creek," like "Sand Creek Conoco."  Don't think I've ever referred to the gas station/convenience store as Sand CRICK Conoco."

Who knows why people in different parts of the country alter the correct pronunciation of a word, or who knows for sure WHAT the heck the correct pronunciation happens to be. 

I just know that we're "crick" people, always have been. 

My family and I also have been enriched through the years by Sand CRICK as a place to play, a place to fish, a place to avoid snakes and also, when we ran barefoot in the summers, a place to step carefully to avoid those gooshy, fresh green cow pies warming up our feet, especially between the toes. 

We also knew Sand CRICK as the origin for our local water supply----most of the year, that is. Our dad worked for Sandpoint City Water Department, often some long and irregular hours, keeping the filters running correctly and making sure our drinking water continued to be the best. 

In the summers, when the crick ran low, he would spend more time down near the railroad depot, watching over pumps which brought water to Sandpoint customers out of the lake.

We could always tell a difference in the taste when our drinking water came from the lake, and we were glad when he could switch the flow back to Sand Crick.

And, yes . . . drum roll, please . . . my dad put floride in the water along with chlorine. He wanted us to have good teeth.  He probably would have been strung up by some anti-floridians these days, but we think our teeth have generally served us well. 

Harold also hunted up in the water shed long before Schweitzer ever came on to the scene, so we'd hear stories about his mule deer hunting experiences in the crick's headwaters. 

As friends of the Delamarters and the DeGroots, we also enjoyed another aspect of Sand Creek:  swimming.

I remember in particular a nice sand bar along the creek not too far west of Boyer on the Pennington place where Delamarters lived for years.  Occasionally, we would gather there for an afternoon of swimming and sitting in the sun. 

The area on the DeGroot side of the road was always spooky and definitely "snakey" for me as we'd make our way along the creek through moist dirt trails winding along the side of the crick. I was always sure a snake was looming in the deep grass, so I took quick and well-planned steps, always feeling relieved when we were out of that area.

I think, however, the DeGroot section of Sand Creek off North Boyer had the best fishing holes, and it may have been from one of those holes that my brother Mike caught a 17-inch trout (I think it was a brookie).

I still vividly remember the evening when, after dark, he and Kevin returned from one of their fishing exploits and stood by the front window showing off the big lunker.  That fish stayed in the freezer for years. 

Mike, Kevin and Marianne spent many summer days and long hours riding their bikes from home with fish poles in hand and hanging out at the original Popsicle Stick Bridge.  

Actually, it was just the bridge down by Bottcher's place to us, since the Popsicle Factory, for which the present bridge is named, came years later.

I used a pole with fish line and a hook, usually losing the hook within 15 minutes of my arrival.  Meanwhile, Mike and Kevin had store bought poles, and they were a lot better at hooking on to fish rather than brush limbs.

Beside fishing, we also spent some of our time away from home, assembling roll-yer-own cigarettes and trying to emulate Harold's well-honed efforts with his Bull Durham smokes while telling tales around the dinner table each night. 

Sand Creek, down by Bronx Road served as humor writer Pat McManus' training ground for both his love of the outdoors and his world famous, wacky stories about his childhood exploits.

McManus inspired me to take some my tales played out further down the crick and write a book myself.  In its opening, I suggest that there must be something about the water in Sand Creek which fostered imaginative and somewhat incredible ways for kids to entertain themselves.

The one thing that's really lucky is that McManus is a bit older than the rest of us, for if we'd been contemporaries and met each other somewhere along that crick, who knows what kind of craziness could have occurred.

These days Sand Creek, down along the bike path and underneath the two bridges connecting downtown to the beach area and the depot----it's often referred to as the "jewel" of Sandpoint----in the summer and fall, that is. 

When that crick bed is filled with water, there's no prettier place as far as I'm concerned.

The rest of the time, though, thanks to the lake's water level being lowered prior to each winter, the crick resembles more of a barren mud flat than an exquisite jewel.  

Water is running high these spring days, thanks to all the rain and the thaw, so those mud flats are disappearing under all that water.

Soon, the whole crick will be back to its magnificent and serene glory, for recreationalists and tourists for a few months, but, from now through forever, Sand Crick's  impact on a whole bunch of country bumpkins during their formative years will remain a nostalgic and beloved treasure.   

Looking south on Sand Creek at Bronx Road

Sand Creek at Bronx Road, looking north again

Sand Creek on North Boyer, north of the fairgrounds, looking east. 

Sand Creek on Woodland Drive, looking west.

Sand Creek on Woodland Drive, looking east. 

Sand Creek on Schweitzer Cutoff Road, looking north

Sand Creek on Schweitzer Cut-off Road, looking south

Sand Creek from Popsicle Stick Bridge, looking north

Sand Creek on Popsicle Stick Bridge, looking south

Sand Creek at Popsicle Stick Bridge

Sand Creek along bike path in fall, looking north

Sand Creek on fall day, looking toward Cedar Street Bridge

Sand Creek, looking north on bike path

Sand Creek, looking south near Sand Creek Byway

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Roadside Attractions

My friend Trish needed a photo for a publication, so she searched my blog and found one that might work, if it were back in its raw form. Once I found the photo in my collection, I realized it was in its raw form.

I had used a camera with an artistic setting, so what she saw was what she was going to get!  Later, I offered to go take some others of the same scene that might work.

She said she'd think about it.  I think she didn't want me to go to the trouble.  What Trish did not know was that I'll use just about any excuse to hop in the car and take photos. 

After all, it's what I do almost every day. 

So, at least yesterday, when I went on my afternoon photo search, I had a reason other than enjoyment. 

Pure enjoyment it was.  The spring day was lovely, even though clouds for our latest rainstorm were beginning to blot out the blue sky.

Still the temperature was pleasant, and the area around Hope, which gets a lot more sun than we do, had dried out.  

While taking the photos for Trish, along with others that might work for the blog, I stopped off at Holiday Shores convenience store and restaurant.  That's where I met Jordan, the friendly clerk and her friend, both with Clark Fork roots.

Jordan suggested that if I was out that way again to stop at the restaurant because they have just opened for the season, serving breakfast and lunches.

So, I'll suggest to readers to stop there too, where the staff is very friendly and upbeat. 

I also walked the lawn at the old Litehouse Restaurant (inspiration for Litehouse Dressings)----very carefully, as the geese seem to be primary residents there.  A lone goose walked along the edge of the lawn and then launched off as I stepped closer. 

Later, I visited with the owner of the Hope Market who was out pulling weeds from her flower display.  She said lots will be going on at the market this season, including music at noon on Sundays.  She also said to say hi to Trish.  

On my way back through our lovely Selle Valley, a roadside attraction of sheep and goats took my eye. The little ones and their moms were enjoying relaxing and grazing in that mid-afternoon spring warmth. 

Later, I succeeded in taking the after-dinner walk which had been cut short the night before with the thunder storm.

This time I made it quite a ways down North Kootenai Road, to where wooded areas skirt both sides of the road.  About halfway through that stretch, I heard something in the trees to my right and looked in time to see a moose about 50 feet away.

It turned away from me, heading on into the woods, but the resident dogs were barking. Figuring they may convince it to turn around and come back my way, I turned around and headed back home-----safely. 

Twas a great day for a camera buff and a great day for enjoying the outdoors.  Bill went fishing with his pontoon boat and enjoyed sitting back presenting those flies.  Fishing was slow, he said, except for the one good-sized cutthroat.

Today, once again, we've got to figure out rainy-day projects as we wait for the appliance doctor who will examine our dryer (hit and miss on heating) our refrigerator (lakes occasionally form from beneath) and maybe even our range where the burners work when they feel like it. 

I decided yesterday morning that it's time to address these situations, which all seem to have happened at once.  Who knows what will go down next?

Guess that's all.  Have a wonderful Thursday.