Friday, October 31, 2014

A Great Pumpkin Day to You

For the record:  All but the bottom set of pumpkins were born and bred at Hickey's Pumpkin Farm over on Hickey Road.  

They spent their formative year in the fields over on that beautiful farm in 2013 until pumpkin patrons purchased them and took them home to whatever fate awaited.

Pumpkins in the bottom photo are of the Lovestead Manure Pile Variety----born and bred here just west of our barn.  That big one to the right ranks as my biggest pumpkin ever. 

I do believe it has lovely character too.  

It will be sad, after today to see them go to the great pumpkin grave yard just behind the barn.  For some reason, this year's pumpkins are suffering from a premature softness, so much so that I'm afraid that if I pick 'em up, all the meat and seeds will fall out.

Anyway, I'll harvest as much yellow meat as possible over the next few days and then take the remainder to their final resting place. 

On this Great Pumpkin Day----the day after a very special package came from Georgia via UPS---I have decided to spend some time whipping up my BEST DAMN PUMPKIN DESSERT, PERIOD! recipe. 

That decision stemmed from the special package that arrived yesterday, filled with chopped pecans, thanks to "Mrs. Love . . . I can't call you Marianne" Cherry.  

Cherry told me to enjoy my baking, so, for you, Cherry, I'll put some of those pecans to use in hopes of serving a truly decadent dessert over the weekend when we celebrate Halloween, the ZAGS first game and our dearly beloved Debbie's birthday. 

Big weekend, filled with pumpkin flavor.  

Happy Halloween to all, and for those who'd also like to try "the recipe," here ya go.  I'm thinking you use the big cans of Libby's pumpkin sauce, not the skinny ones. And, if you have pecans, substitute them for the walnuts.  That will make the dessert even more decadent. 



1 Box of yellow cake mix (Reserve 1 cup and set aside)
Add to the cake mix 1 melted stick of butter or margarine, 1 beaten egg, and ½ cup of chopped walnuts. Mix well. Spread mixture in a 9x13 greased baking pan.


Mix together: 1 large can of pumpkin, 4 beaten eggs, ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup sugar, 2/3 cup of Evaporated milk, 2 ½ tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, ¼ tsp salt. Spread the filling over the crust.


Mix together until crumbly: the reserved 1 cup of cake mix, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup of walnuts, ½ stick of softened butter or margarine. Crumble the topping over the filling.

Bake @ 350 for 50-60 minutes. Cool and serve with whipped cream on top.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I had several reasons to smile yesterday, even though the first part of the day was pretty wet, and a lot of the "pretty" seen in this photo from over the weekend is blowing away in the wind. 

It has occurred to me that on rainy, wet days, I don't need to complain about the weather. After all, rain pants and a rain coat make it bearable, 'cept for those bitter cold and windy downpours which occasionally keep even the ducks hiding under cover.

Yesterday morning, in the daylight, I enjoyed a nice walk through the neighborhood, and on my way back, encountered the first in a string of folks (throughout the day) I knew when they were students at Sandpoint High School.  Some sat in my English class; some I simply knew in the hallways.  

First encounter took place at the beehives where Bridgette had unloaded a fork lift and was loading beehives onto a flat bed.  She stopped the operation for a minute or two and came over to talk.  

Bridgette told me the bees were doing the same thing the lucky folks around here get to do during this time of year.  They're headed south to California, where they have more sweet work to do.  Then, they'll move on to Wenatchee before returning to Sandpoint.

Definitely defines the "busy bee" cliche we've heard forever.  

I told Bridgette I was gonna miss the honey bees and would be happy to see them back in the spring.  

After doing some more outside yard work, I headed to town for some shopping and to drop off one more monthly payment at the Kootenai Post Office.  Had paid all bills and written a check for one which had not yet arrived.

It arrived in yesterday's mailbox at the same time the other payments went out with the mail carrier. I spent more time at the Kootenai Post Office than expected, first seeing my former student and Ponderette and friend, Carrie.  

While we were visiting, another lady walked from her car with a big smile and said, "Hi, do you remember me?"

"Which class?" I asked.  

Turns out she, too, was a former Ponderette, English student and a Brown from Kootenai. As she began to share details about her past identity when I knew her as a student, all came drifting back.

Yes, I did remember Kathy, and I don't think I've seen Kathy since she graduated from high school in 1973, met her husband and moved to New York where she spent 40 years.  She has since moved back, and she's very proud of her three children, one of which will attend Cornell as a veterinary student.

We enjoyed a great visit and went our separate ways, promising to keep in touch through Facebook. 

Next, I stopped at the gas station to fill up the Suburu.  Now, this would not be much of an event to note except that I saw two more people who make me smile.

It was a significant day for these sisters, Rachel and Stefanie, as yesterday was the first anniversary of their mother's passing.  I had been reminded of that earlier on Facebook, so I spent some time visiting with them and comparing notes on our similar losses.  

Then, we said good bye and returned to the gas pumps.  A minute or two later, Stefanie came over to the car and said, "We have good Karma . . . they lowered the gas price while we were talking."  

Yup, three cents less at the pump during a meaningful visit.  I'd say we got our money's worth. 

Off to Wal-Mart, I again saw Carrie.  We enjoyed an even longer visit.  I always love visiting with Carrie, so it was a double treat for me. 

Of course, in Wal-Mart, we often see other familiar faces, and, yes, I had not seen Tammy for a while, so we talked enough to actually block the route for a lady and her cart.  She was very nice and patient with us as we got the hint and moved out of her way. 

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all these grown-up faces of students whom I once knew at Sandpoint High School and loved playing a little catch-up on their lives.

Those reconnections did not to end with my trip to town, though.  Last night I smiled a great big Ponderette smile when I saw Debbie's profile photo on Facebook.  She was also a Ponderette.  

It's been at least 20 years since I last visited with her, but now we're Facebook friends.  

She just told me, through a posting, that she has retired from teaching. I'll bet she was a dandy because her positive, upbeat energy flows through that wonderful smile and her whole being. 

Last evening I didn't smile all through the World Series final game, but I do have to say that it was a dandy----the whole Series was, in fact.  Two phenomenal teams duked it out for seven games, and a 25-year-old pitching ace sealed the deal, as he has two other times in his young life.

It's nice to see such high quality in a sporting event and such wonderful grace to go along with it.  Congratulations to both the Giants and the Royals:  you gave your baseball fans a fantastic run and some reasons to smile.

So, if you haven't gotten the hint for this Thursday, go out and make it a great day and SMILE! 

It will make you and a whole lot of other people feel good.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just What's In Those Poochy Pockets?

I came close to having a panic attack yesterday morning.  While walking down the lane in the darkness through rather dank air, I decided it was time to wipe my runny nose.

Cold weather brings out the dribble, and until that moment yesterday,  I had simply kept the nasal drip under control while walking Lily and Lefty to pasture. 

Now with hands free, I could blow my nose.

But, oh no, an empty pocket! 

I checked the other side of my barn coat, which was also uncharacteristically void of any contents, including its usual prickly hay stubble.

Oops, I'd washed my coat, and this was its first post-wash wearing and I hadn't thought about runny noses before going outside. 

Quickly, I pulled open the jacket and tucked my fingers into my jeans pocket.  Certainly, I'd find a wad of someting deep down inside that pocket.

Empty again.  I had also just donned clean jeans. 

Yesterday's empty-pocket dilemma was certainly an anomaly in my situation, and it meant holding those nose drips until I reached the house and could grab a couple of fresh paper towels to wipe my nose and a few extras to stuff inside my empty pocket.  

Talk about an old woman without a wipe!

I do believe such a situation is a rarity. 

To validate that belief, all one needs to do is to go to the coat rack in our Lovestead laundry room or possibly wherever the coats and vests hang in any other woman's home.  

This morning, while Bill was picking up his breakfast dishes in the kitchen, I was doing research in the laundry room.

It took me about five minutes to finger through all the pockets in the vests, raincoats, fleeces and jackets hanging from the coat rack.

Leaving behind pieces of hard candy, band aides for painful cracked fingers, shopping lists, etc., I specialized in removing the wadded up paper towels.

For those wondering why my pockets are not filled with kleenexes or hankies or wadded up toilet paper, I prefer paper towels, cuz when I blow my nose, there's power behind it, and kleenexes/toilet paper wads just don't stand up to such nasal outbursts.

Hankies, well, Marianne's just not a hankie person.

Anyway, five minutes of fingering, and the photo above shows the contents.  Now, if I were to go to the closet, where other coats hang, I could add significantly to the heap, but you get the picture. 

One particular wad in the photo comes from this morning when I remembered before going outside the near panic of yesterday.  So, before leaving to take horses to pasture, I grabbed a couple of paper towels and wadded them up inside my barn coat pocket.

Feeling secure that I could "keep my nose clean," as my dad had always advised, I headed out the door. 

Almost immediately, my nose went into action BUT NOT DRIPPING!

This time those two nostrils were too busy trying to figure out just where that SKUNK odor was originating.

"We've got a skunk," I announced to the dogs as we walked toward the barn where the odor gradually intensified. 

I began to worry that maybe the skunk had figured out how to get inside our barn, where the doors is always pulled shut every night. 

So, I cautiously opened the door, turned on the light and felt quite relieved that nothing besides the hay pile, the buckets of brushes, etc. and the cart greeted me.

I picked up a lead rope, went to the barnyard and threw the rope over Lily's neck.  We walked down the lane in the darkness where Foster appeared after coming from the small pasture where he does his morning business.

As usual, I warned him to stay away from Lily's hind feet.  He always does.  Lily never kicks him, but I always worry.  

Foster followed me back to the barn and disappeared when I repeated the action with Lefty.  In that short span of time, the air along the lane reeked of skunk odor. 

We stepped up our pace.  I let Lefty go into the hay field, all the time smelling the odor with much more clarity than even a few seconds before. 

The odor became so strong that I fumbled nervously at the chains which hold the gate closed, almost thinking I might have to just leave the gate be and get the heck out of there. 

That skunk had to be mighty close.

In this desperate situation, there was no time to worry about a runny nose. 

I almost broke into a trot while moving down the lane, by this time thinking about Foster and wondering if he had encountered that skunk while out in the pasture.  

Was the skunk mad and looking for revenge?  Would I have stinky dogs when I announced the usual morning "Report!"?

Dogs know that "Report!" means to go to the garage where they stay inside while I go get the paper. 

Arriving at the garage door just after the dogs, I inhaled deeply.  

No skunk smell!  Yes! All is well. 

So, this morning, those two paper towels in the barn coat pocket got no use, but I still felt it necessary to remove them for the photo to present a journalistically accurate case study of what lurks inside one woman's poochy pockets.  

And, I'm guessing that this study may reflect a nationwide trend, with one exception.  Most women's pockets are filled with hankies or kleenexes or wadded up toilet paper. 

And, then there are farm women who prefer more of the Duluth Trading Co. utility brands of nose wipes. 

As an aside, I must report that these women might also have to go get the bag balm or some similar ointment after using the occasional pocketed nose wipe  with a little hay chaff added. 

Anyway, the only problem with doing my early-morning research is that I'll be going outside again once my blog is finished and my nose will be running and all those pockets will be empty.

So, I must remember to stop by the paper towel dispenser before heading out the door. 

Happy Wednesday.  Keep your nose clean, and, on a more neutral note, may your team win today's World Series! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Symptoms of Incurable ZAGNUTTIA

Just like "The Itch," which has afflicted me like clockwork, during the past three years from the last week in April until the last week in June, I can feel another annual disease starting to manifest its symptoms.

"ZAGNUTTIA" exhibits some rather noticeable symptoms.  Sufferers do act a little crazy. Obsessive, abnormal behavior can occur:  two trips to Spokane in one week (300-plus miles) just to pick up posters AND refrigerator magnets for friends and family. 

Antisocial behavior aimed at any activities other than ZAG games can cause conflictive behavior:  No, we can't go to the company year-end party cuz that's the same night as a ZAGS game! 

Minutes later:  Oh, so the company party IS the next night; guess we can go to the company party, which has surely been planned by its coordinator so as not to miss any COUGS games. 

FYI:  the company party still remains in jeopardy cuz it's the same night as DANCING WITH OUR STARS, and we proud parents are sure hoping our Willie will be participating that night.  Have you voted?  Another ballot in this morning's  DAily Bee.  Or, you can go to the POAC website:

Back to ZAGNUTTIA:  Unlike Ebola, it IS an airborne disease, so you can contract it via idle contact with anyone who's ever loved the ZAGS.  They don't even have to breathe on you!

I've even heard of it being transferred through the Internet, so if you have a severe aversion to ZAGNUTTIA, wash your hands when you're done reading this. 

So far, those afflicted are never quarantined for 21 days or issued gag orders to please quit talking about the ZAGs.  Quite the contrary, these people WANT others to catch the disease.

Environmentally speaking, the wallpaper in ZAGNUTTIAN homes consists of a hodgepodge of ZAG posters from several years of this affliction.  

Oh yeah, that's another symptom:  ZAGNUTTIANS won't shut up about their team, and they're particularly talkative during this time of year. 

That ZAGNUTTIAN vociferous tendency reaches a crescendo several times from October to hopefully April.  

First stage:  the new players----who we gonna fall in love with this year?

How long will it take us to pronounce that player from Lithuania's name?  After all, it took about half a season to be able to spit out KAR NOW SKI, and some of us still can't say his first name. 

Speaking of the Lithuanian, Sports Illustrated has a fascinating and very compelling article, paralleling the quest of two coaches during two different generations, trying to lure a player to their respective teams-----one coach from Lousiana State University, the other, from Gonzaga.  

Those two players are a father-son combo.  Happily, the Gonzaga coach was successful convincing the son, Domantis Sabonis,  to join the ZAGS for this season.   

To any ZAGNUTTIAN who has not read it or for anyone who simply enjoys a story of International intrigue, I guarantee that the article is well worth the time spent reading:

The Second Stage of talking seemingly nonstop about the ZAGS comes throughout the season with each win and with each succeeding notch, bringing the ZAGS closer to participating in the NCAA dance. So, get used to it.

Here's a not-so-good tendency:  if ZAGS lose one of those late-night games, stay far away from ZAGNUTTIANS the next day cuz they went to bed depressed and suffered from insomnia. They're most likely in a bad mood the morning after a loss.   

Another symptom of ZAGNUTTIA involves the tendency to want as many others to suffer from the infectious disease as possible, even if they're from Switzerland and don't care a rip about basketball.

I'm thinking Swiss Miss may contract ZAGNUTTIA if she's around our family for very long. After all, first lesson learned within a mile or two of the Spokane Airport when she landed here in August:  GO ZAGS!

And, she has not forgotten.  Plus, this ZAGNUTTIAN is feeling pretty proud of Swiss Miss who donned her ZAGS baseball cap and her ZAGS T-shirt just to go to dinner with the family at Connie's the other night.  

I think she has taken on a few symptoms already, and by Saturday night when the ZAGS hit the court at MacArthy Athletic Complex for their exhibition game, I have confidence that the Swiss Miss case of ZAGNUTTIA will be deemed incurable. 

It IS a chronic disease, and I like dealing with it much more than I do THE ITCH.  In fact, I hope that this year's epidemic turns into a ZAGNUTTIA pandemic cuz they say the team, with its new recruits, is better than ever.  

Let the germs fly!  ZAGNUTTIA will soon be upon us. 

UNITED WE ZAG! Pass it on!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Routine Shift

Clydesdale babies were enjoying their naps in their lovely setting Saturday afternoon. 

I went to Hickey's Pumpkin Patch Saturday, thinking they were still open.  Must have sold all the pumpkins, or I was awfully early.  Being there gave me the opportunity to catch this shot of Schweitzer. .  . .

. . . . and this farm . . . . 

. . . . and this old section of fence. 

The north yard was ablaze with the last remnants of pretty colors yesterday. 

And, the pumpkins are all dressed up for Halloween.  And, "this just in photo below":  Schweitzer doesn't just have a frosting of snow this morning.  Looks like a couple of inches at least.   Rain in the valleys overnight and snow up above.

Yesterday turned out much nicer than expected.  Is this sounding like a broken record?

If so, a brief weather pattern seems to contradict what’s been predicted, and all the rain we were supposed to receive falls overnight, leaving us with a few extra lovely days.

I fully expected to spend most of the day indoors, but happily, I completed several outdoor projects yesterday.

Those included brush hogging a field of tall grass next to the lane, harrowing the barnyard which had been dotted with piles of horse apples, weed eating along a fenceline, mowing grass around some more of Bill’s young trees out south of the house and sawing low-hanging limbs off from some trees in the woods where we ride the horses and have to duck.

I also enjoyed a nice bike ride around the Forest Siding Loop.  Bill and I topped off the day, watching the World Series with goodies from the Pack River General store.

So, with a brief weather routine came a departure from the usual for my horses.

Horses expect everything to be the same every day, especially their feeding time.  

Well, that didn’t change, but when I led each of them to the barn from the far pasture, a lot of inspection took place.

Short grass in the field north of the lane, weeds and tall grass no longer an eyesore near the fence AND the real shocker---no horse apples in the barnyard.

The latter set both Lily and Lefty off so much that they each spent the next ten minutes, staring at their overnight domain and moseying around the enclosure with noses to the ground, sniffing out the new blend of horse apples.
Mom Love had stirred up some Lily and Lefty applesauce with that harrow and it just didn’t seem right.

I think they’re okay this morning with their cleaner, neater barnyard, but that new appearance last night just disordered their minds.

And, so this morning, I can empathize with Lily and Lefty with the big changes in their evening routine.
My morning routine was very different today, but the change won’t unsettle me as much as it did the horses yesterday.

Bill set the tone for a good time to make a change.  He had to leave earlier than Oh Dark Thirty this morning to drive to a gathering in Potlatch.  So, by the time I awakened, he was gone for the day.

Perfect, I thought.  No better time than the present to do things a bit differently for the rest of the dark months.
By the time I came upstairs for my first cup of coffee and Internet perusal, I’d already put in a wash and had tidied up the bathroom.

I went out a few minutes early to take the horses to pasture.  They never do mind a change in routine when they get to eat earlier than usual.  Plus, it was very dark so I couldn’t see any shocked expressions.

And, because it’s dark when I do that, I’ve selected today as the turning point for when I take my morning walk.  I’m sure every motorist who comes down the road will be happy as that ghost-like figure won’t be suddenly appearing out of the darkness when they head to work or drive by on their mission to pick up area students for school.

I’ve been carrying a flashlight, but it’s time to make the change and wait until daylight to enjoy the walk.  Seemed like everyone was later than usual this morning because I read the paper before heading out the door, and the buses and usual cars still passed me on the road.

Monday morning papers don’t take that long to read-----just one paper and it’s really skinny, so that probably explains it.

Anyway, on this Monday, the new routine for fall and winter has begun.  Plus, Bill and I decided yesterday while enjoying our dinner, prepared by Pack River General Store, that we’ll follow that new routine during the winter and let them cook for us every Sunday evening.

Not a bad plan!

Gorgeous day ahead.  Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday and that you find some new adventures in your life as we fall into the dark months. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lawnmower Images

Taking photos was not on the agenda yesterday.  Nor was lawn mowing.

I figured we were due for a blustery and comparatively ugly day. 

Turned out to be beautiful most of the time. 

So, rather than sticking around to watch the rest of the all-important Sounders match vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on national TV and even with Annie sitting in the third row back in her supporters' section (same section where Sounders owner Drew Carey of "The Price Is Right:fame sat), Bill decided to head out for the Moyie for more fishing.

He tries to do that as often as possible in the fall.  

I figured I was just gonna watch more TV than usual, and I did watch every minute of the Sounders victory.  

Annie's been buying season tickets for her beloved Sounders since they were first available a few years ago.  Her undying loyalty paid off yesterday as it did all passionate Seattle fans in that 60,000-plus crowd. 

First time ever, the Sounders are regular season League winners, and the win guaranteed them home-field advantage in all play-off games. 

Once the match had ended and it was evident that the nasty weather hadn't yet arrived, I jumped on my bike and rode from one end of South Center Valley Road to the other, even took a stretch of Thimbleberry Lane, which is at the end of our road.

None of that is much of a fete cuz our road is only about three miles long, but it felt good to get out and breathe that fall air. 

Later, I decided I could mulch the latest batch of fallen leaves.  While doing so, having my phone in my sweatshirt pouch allowed some opportunities to catch the "purtyness" the instant it happened.

That's how it was yesterday, conditions changing quickly, and finally last evening the real wind came.  Scared the dickens out of little Foster.

As a veteran of those summer tornado-like wind events, the little guy gets pretty up tight the minute he hears some gusts outside.  

He lived through it, though, and it's really not too bad out there this morning. A little rain, a little breeze and a lot few leaves on the trees but a whole bunch more on the ground.

You'd never know I mowed yesterday.  But that's fall, and I know that yesterday's mulching job will be repeated several times before the last leaf falls. 

Happy Sunday. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Slight

Thank you to my friend and neighbor, Maryann, who let me tromp through her place yesterday afternoon to catch the last of the color.  

All but the last four photos came from a plot of beautiful trees on her ranch.  The others were taken on a stretch of North Center Valley Road, some of which I'd never traveled before. 

I moved quickly with my camera because the leaves are leaving, in big numbers today.

The morning paper says to expect some really blustery winds, starting tonight and lasting through tomorrow afternoon.

So, I'm guessing that we'll have to accept the finality of the most beautiful season of the year.  

Then the work will come. Rake. Rake. Mow. Mow. Rake. Rake and mow some more.

My friend Janice and I were talking yesterday about how much time we spend each fall, doing the cleanup of leaves.

We're both among the believers that getting rid of dead leaves in the fall is a whole lot easier than prying them away from frozen holds in the spring when the ground is tender and still cold. 

So, the work will come, and I don't mind it.  Neither does Janice.  We agree that what the deciduous trees do for our hearts and souls far exceeds any frustrations involved in clean-up. 

It's kinda sad to see the leaves go, but it's a transition that steers us to other things, which provide a welcome change of routine. 

Yesterday I added more crocus bulbs to a couple of beds.  Throughout the long winter, thoughts of how pretty they're gonna be when they pop up in the spring will be sustaining. 

I'm still thinking of adding more tulips, but then I also think about deer and how they like to eat the bulbs, so if I plant them, it will be location, location, location in hopes that they survive to blooming time. 

Today we'll probably watch a few games and putter around the place.  Should be a relaxing day.

Happy Saturday. 

Oh yes, one more thing:  Willie is one of the six men in the running to compete in Sandpoint's "Dancing with Our Stars," set for the Panida Theater, Nov. 15.  

There's voting involved in this POAC-sponsored first for Sandpoint.  Today's paper has ballots, and I'll leave a link below for voting.  

The top three males and females from balloting will be matched up with professional dancers and will train for the Panida competition. 

Like any doting mother, I'd LOVE to see my son dance, so please vote for Will Love if you cast your ballot. They say to vote early and often, so pass the word. Thanks.   Here's the link:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fun Fotos on a Rainy Day

Twas wet yesterday, and there’s just so much one can do around the place when it’s pouring rain.  I’m good for a while with housework, but then I need to go see some different scenery.

So, when Bill came home, from his morning spent at Box Canyon, grabbed a container of homemade potato soup and headed back to work in town, I left shortly thereafter.

I had not been up Baldy Road for quite some time, so that was my destination, after picking up a cup of convenience store French roast coffee and a candy bar (my afternoon staples).

I decided to go through the old neighborhood and briefly entertained the notion to park in one of the roads leading into our childhood woods off from North Boyer.
“Maybe another day,” I thought, figuring the walk through places, where we romped while reining our stick horses or where one of us (name withheld)  sorted through stolen mail, might be just a little wet.

So, I moved on, driving through the Upper Place, which is now a subdivision with just a few homes,  overlooking Metal Buildingville and the airport.  

It always makes me feel good to know that some of those trees I transplanted, when Bill and I were first married 40 years ago and living in the little rental house, are still there.

I hope they stay for a long time.  After all, they’re pretty much the sole reminder of our existence there in the 1970s.

After turning on to what we neighborhood locals always called Robinson Road, I took a side trip down Crooked Lane, a lovely rural subdivision formed from the farm where Lloyd and Betty Robinson lived.

Later, while driving down the hill toward Gooby Road, I took another side trip and caught some deer feeling very at home in someone’s yard.  They hung around long enough for me to take their pictures.

Then, on to Baldy, which has certainly added to its residential areas over the years.  Used to be just a few families we knew lived up there, but now, all sorts of side roads and houses of all ilks.

After leaving the pavement, I couldn’t help but notice all the signs, reminding of “private property,” “no hunting,” “road closed,” “parked vehicles will be impounded,” along with the usual real estate offerings.

The rain intensified as I drove further, suggesting to me that my chances of finding any more good photos were diminishing with the increasing droplets on the wind shield and blustery wind, blowing leaves all over the place.

Then, suddenly, I came upon a wonderful possibility---almost driving past but quickly realizing that this scene was worth backing up on that mountain road.

A big, shiny red logging truck with nose pointed toward the road sat parked.  My eye caught the owner’s name:  CLIFF IRISH.

Cliff Irish is one of my favorite all-time characters and a longtime friend.  Cliff’s son Rusty and my son Willie spent their early formative years as buddies at Patty’s Day Care.  They graduated together and remain good friends.

Ahhh, to catch Cliff without his knowing I’m here, the imp within was working feverishly to outwit the imp behind the truck dragging a chain toward another piece of heavy equipment.

I succeeded.
Cliff had no idea I was there as I continued to snap photos of him working in the drenching rain and walking through the mud and, no doubt, silently cussing this day when he had to move equipment from a job up Baldy to a job near Usk, WA.

Cliff dragged the chain to the big logging rig, which I’m guessing is called a skidder.  Once he was out of sight behind the rig, I moved closer, praying he would not see me.

Good fortune allowed me to snap a couple more shots before he looked over, smiled and asked what I was doing there.

We visited briefly as it sure was wet and Cliff was predicting that he probably would not get home for dinner until at least 6:30 p.m.

What a find that was for a lady out driving around looking for some good photos on a rainy day!  

It’s always great to see Cliff, and I especially enjoyed seeing him out in his element-----a reminder that while most of us are enjoying our creature comforts, hard-working folks like Cliff are dealing with the not-so-rosy elements.

Later, I took some more photos on a walk through the neighborhood.  The rain did not let up, but it created some different perspectives on rose hips and pastures. 

My outings, despite the rain, were productive yesterday, reminding me that if we go looking, we can always find something positive to brighten those dark and gloomy days.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Journalism Giants: RIP

Call this a "cut and paste" day for Slight Detour.

Yesterday, when my friend Helen sent me the second "paste" below, it dawned on me that two journalistic giants had passed on this week. 

Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post and Dorothy Rochon Powers of the Spokesman-Review each carved out their unique niches in the world of reporting the facts.  

They used their beloved craft to make a significant difference within the environment where they practiced exemplary journalism.  

Bradlee's almost epic journalistic accomplishments occurred on a national stage, while Powers' incredibly written stories brought alive human stories or dramatic adventures of a more local nature.

Throughout their careers, both Bradlee and Powers served as inspiring beacons for other aspiring journalists hoping to find their own niche in chronicling compelling and truthful accounts of current events or situations. 

Dorothy Powers was definitely one of my heroes. I had the good fortune of meeting her several times.  With each encounter, the initial feeling of total awe was soon replaced by the feeling that I'd just spent some valuable time with an old friend.

That's how this sophisticated and brilliant lady conducted herself.  She had the aura of a star, but she also possessed a sense of down-to-earth, sincere respect for others. In one-on-one encounters, she came across to me as a "regular gal." 

I always felt like a million bucks after a visit with Dorothy and came away even more inspired to emulate her in my own story telling.

After reading the piece below in Sunday's Spokesman, which ran side by side with a wonderfully written public notice of her passing, I realized that emulating this truly gifted reporter still remains a distant and ambitious goal. 

Still, that's okay.  We need stars like Dorothy to remind us that the bar is very high and that the ongoing hunger to reach that bar will only make us better at our craft.  

My friend Helen's contribution to my in-box yesterday paints a wonderful picture of Ben Bradlee.  I think Dorothy's story and the New York Times reporter's portrayal of Bradley are both masterfully written.

So, I'll leave you with my "cut and paste" post.  Enjoy. 

‘The Row’ belongs to broken men, shattered dreams – tomorrow

Dorothy R. Powers The Spokesman-Review

Photo archives photo
Dorothy Rochon Powers interviews a man for a story on train hobos in November 1955.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The Spokesman-Review on Nov. 21, 1955. It was topped with the following: “Who and what make up the legendary words ‘Skid Row,’ or Road? To find out, a Spokesman-Review reporter went “inside” the Row – into dreary 50-cent hotel rooms, taverns and back alleys. Here is the answer.”

In the dank twilight that fills the place, the man shoves a trembling hand deep into ragged, filthy pockets.

He pulls it out again – empty.

“Ain’t got it tonight, I guess, Mac,” he mumbles to the “hotel” keeper, and stumbles back down the stairway – back into the slashing wind.

The stairways are all alike down here – long and black and stale – and, for the men who climb them, stairways to nothing.

This is “heartbreak strip;” this is Skid Row. Down on the street, it’s the dusk-to-dark hour when each man must decide how he’ll handle an old enemy, the night. His choices are few. He can mooch it through, “mission it” if he’s lucky – or hope for enough free drinks to keep him warm as he slumps in a doorway.

Each man makes his own decision. There’s little camaraderie down here.

“They’re hard to figure,” a bartender explains. “If they’ve got money, they’ll share it with somebody they know is broke. But that’s about it. They don’t want any buddies; they don’t want any questions.”

Only one thing is certain, and it’s an old, old saying along the Row: “For every guy down here, there’s a reason. He don’t ask you yours; don’t ask him his.”

Nobody does, in the crowd that hovers around the fat-bellied iron stove in a tavern. They turn slowly, warming every portion of themselves before making their stand against the cold.

A man carrying a pin-striped, shabby suit rushes into their midst.

“Two bucks,” he urges, patting the fabric. “Two bucks, anybody. Take it or leave it.”
Nobody takes.

“He gets ’em at the rummage sales, for 80 cents,” somebody says wearily after the vendor leaves.

“I’m goin’,” volunteers a graying man on the far side of the stove. “I know where I can get me a room for 52 cents. At the Logan, you can – if you go early.”

Out in the alley, arms flail greedily as three men split a pint of “Apple Andy” (wine). The bottle emptied, they walk in three separate directions – strangers again.

The man in the clean overcoat waits a long while before he gathers courage to pluck at your sleeve. Then, “Do me a favor, lady? Don’t write that everybody down here is a bum.

“I had a home – I won’t say where – but it was as good as most. I’m just tryin’ to say, well, there are guys down here that could have been somebody else – but something went wrong.

“Something’s got to happen, before a man ends up here.

“Ever get off the Row?” he replies to your question. “No, not now. I’m all through, and I know it. I’m absolutely alone.”

Down the block, there’s more evidence that the Row has strange tenants.

“See that fellow that just left?” a bar-keep asks. “Ex-chairman of one of the biggest banks in the country. He’s been down here years now; he’ll never go back. We used to have an ex-attorney general from out-of-state, and a former deputy sheriff.

“Lots of them have college educations. Some of them are so smart you just can’t carry on a conversation with them.”

It’s getting later now, and the street’s filled with the shuffling feet of men looking for one small cranny in a world that finds no place for them. They turn into any doorway they see, if only for a moment’s warmth.

Up in the Lea hotel, an 82-year-old “sidewalk preacher” rocks by the stove in a narrow hallway.

“It’s too cold now,” he says, in a voice raw from shouting against the wind. “Nobody will stand and listen. But ordinarily, I preach every night from 6 to 7. I been a-doin’ that for 14 years.”

Out of a grimy pocket he pulls a license to hold street meetings, exhibits it proudly. He hurries to his room, shows you his Bible.

Every corner is filled with junk, collected on the street. His bedding is as dirty as his clothes. The window is broken. A soiled wash cloth hangs above the rickety dresser.

In the midst of this, he begins an impromptu testimonial. Tears stream down his face.

“I love the Lord, Sister. God saved my soul on October 8, 1932, and I haven’t had a drink since. Lots of times, down on the street, they shout all kinds of things at me. I just answer ‘Dear ones, you wouldn’t do that if you’d been saved as I have.’ ”

“Hey Pop,” comes a gruff voice from one of the rooms, “knock it off!”

The night won’t be a kind one for Bill and Joe. They’re shipping out – heading for one more Row, in one more town, somewhere.

“Gotta get where the climate suits our clothes. One blanket between us. We get enough brown wrapping paper, though, we’ll be all right – if the bulls don’t roll us out of the boxcar.”

A cup of hot coffee loosens his thoughts. “I never saw a Skid Row,” he muses, “till me and my wife split up. A guy gets disgusted with things, see? Once you get down and out, you don’t come back easy. There don’t seem no way to it.”

Despair is a climate here.

A freezing wind sweeps the street almost clear now. The men huddle inside, wherever they can find shelter. They slip out only to check the alley garbage cans full of empty wine bottles – hoping for a few dregs.

The best explanation you hear comes from a regular. “I can handle the days all right. It’s usually night when I need it, when I start remembering. …”

“Rockin’ chair” is every man’s passport. On this railroad unemployment insurance, the gandy dancers exist from one job to the next. They talk about it like a kid does Santa Claus – “good ole rockin’ chair.”

Some men “choose” the Row.

“Listen, I’m living how I want to live. When I need to, I work. Maybe I pick apples and maybe I work in a coal shed. And maybe I don’t work at all. But nobody butts in – because nobody cares.”

Tomorrow is the biggest word they know.

For 35 years, it’s been coming for Jack.

“Thirty-five years.” He wonders aloud at it himself, rubbing his stubbled chin. “I’m 58 now. I used to drive a cab. Had a good job driving for a big highway bus company, too. I was married then, and working steady all the time.

“Well, I started drinking. Now I do just whatever comes up – pick apples, gandy dance, anything. I wonder where my family is.

“Lonesome? Sure, I’m lonesome. Nights are the worst. There’s no place to go but some hotel room. I keep changing hotels, just so I’ll have something different to look at.

“Mornings you feel terrible. You wake up sick and you need a drink. Usually, I’m in a four-bit hotel room. That means it’s an inside room, no windows – and no heat.

“I still think I’ll get off the Row. I can quit; I know I can. Yessir, one of these days – real soon now – I’m goin’ home. …”

The Row’s entirely in darkness now. Far down the block, a bottle tinkles against the pavement.

NY Time - The Opinion Pages| Op-Ed Contributor
The Ben Bradlee Who Hired Me — Finally
By TED GUPOCT. 22, 2014

I first met Ben Bradlee in the winter of 1969. I was a 19-year-old kid from Canton, Ohio, who had never taken a course in journalism, never published an article, rarely read the newspaper and had little notion of what I would do with my life. Yet somehow as a Brandeis sophomore I had made my way to be a finalist for the Washington Post internship. 

It must have been my essay. And there I was sitting at Ben Bradlee’s right hand in a Boston restaurant surrounded by other finalists, all of whom went to Harvard, were working on The Crimson, and had dazzling credentials. By the time lunch was over, I was sure I was no longer in the running.

But as I got up to leave, Ben placed his hand on my arm and asked me if I had a few minutes to talk. A half-hour passed. He asked me what I thought of the Vietnam War. I remember telling him I was torn. He seemed pleased by my confusion. We talked about writing. I honestly don’t remember what else we talked about except that when we parted I knew what I wanted to do — I wanted to work for him. (Mind you, that was two years before Watergate.)

A couple of months later, I received a letter from Ben dated March 6, 1970. It began: “Dear Ted: You got nosed out in the finals of the toughest competition we have ever had... You are really a year premature and your lack of previous experience in journalism was a tough hurdle for us to overcome. I was particularly sorry about you, because I was attracted by your love of writing, and your attitude generally. I hunch that you have a hell of a future in this business, and I hereby urge you to reapply again and again. I enjoyed my time with you enormously. Keep up your interest in this business. You will make it. Sincerely, Ben Bradlee”

That was all the encouragement I needed. Four years later my father died and I went to Ben and asked him if he had any advice for me. He first told me that I made him uncomfortable — I was wearing a three-piece suit. Take off your vest, he said in that gravelly voice. “You make me nervous.” He asked me where I might want to work. Somewhere near my family, I said. He got on the phone and called the editor of The Akron Beacon Journal and said he had someone sitting across from him who he thought might make a good reporter. And so I got my foot in the door of journalism.

For several years thereafter I would send him my better stories and he would send back comments — just a line or two of encouragement, always signed “Ben Bradlee.”
“Ted, Keep going; you’re doing fine, Best, Ben Bradlee,” read one of his notes.
On Feb. 10, 1976, he wrote “I’ll reactive your name and if this bloody strike ever ends, maybe things will change. All the best, Ben Bradlee.” (The contentious strike pitted pressmen against management and was then already in its fifth month and far from resolved.) That summer he made a call on my behalf to The Virginian-Pilot and helped me get an internship there. By now I had come to look upon him as a kind of gruff guardian angel.

Finally in the summer of 1977, between my second and third years of law school, I was given my shot at The Post as an intern — more than seven years after my initial try. I guess Ben figured anyone this relentless might make a persistent reporter. A year later I joined The Post as a staffer. I had my moments and my stories, but was never one of The Post’s true heavyweights. But Ben never stopped watching over me — or the rest of us.
I remember one afternoon I was called into his office along with another reporter and two senior editors. A Republican senator had gone to Ben’s house in the middle of the night, 

Ben said, alleging that the candidate Ronald Reagan had a number of gay staffers. The question was raised whether we should pursue it as a story. A senior editor weighed in, referring to “queers.” Ben interrupted him. “We do not use that term,” he scolded. In 1980 there were not so many in the newsroom who would have objected. We pursued the story, confirmed the obvious — that there were gays on the candidate’s staff (as there are doubtless on most staffs) but with Ben’s support, chose not to run it, concluding that it was a nonstory.

I also remember another senior editor disparaging a story I had worked on for months. Ben knew I was upset about the editor’s comments and even considering resigning. Ben never mentioned the editor or his comments; he just came over to me at the end of the day, put his arm around my shoulder and asked me if I needed a lift home. I (foolishly) declined, but the gesture was enough to restore my confidence that I was at the right place.

In 1980 a series I co-authored was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I remember going into Ben’s office and giving him a copy of the rejection letter he had sent me a decade earlier with a note appended, saying thanks for giving me a shot. I think we all felt that way about Ben. It was personal. Sure, we were ambitious. Sure, we owed it to the paper and the country and all those other grand principles. But honestly, I think a lot of us felt like we owed it to Ben. His faith in us was a debt we did not take lightly.

I remember writing a story about President Jimmy Carter that a Times reporter took issue with and called Ben for comment. I was on the line as well. The reporter told Ben The Times would blow a hole through The Post’s story. Ben’s response: Sounds like a great story, can’t wait to read it. (A part of me feels guilty even writing this for The Times — do forgive me, Ben.) I remember only too well the Janet Cooke episode in which The Post was forced to return a Pulitzer Prize after it was learned the story had been a fabrication. It anguished us all, but none more than Ben. I also remember that a series I co-authored that same year drew tremendous fire and that though The Post’s defensive shield was weakened, Ben did not flinch.

I left The Post in 1987, but continued to write for it nearly every year thereafter. In 2011, I sent Ben a copy of a book I had written and wrote an inscription to him that said how much I admired him, that he had changed the course of my life, and that there was no man, save my own father, whom I respected more. A few months later I was visiting The Post and found myself alone with Ben in the elevator. He told me he had received my book and had read the inscription.

 “You know,” he said, “After I read it, I walked around all day with my chest puffed out.” You think Ben Bradlee needed Ted Gup? And yet, there it was. He knew the power of a few right words, a gesture, a smile. I remember after a story I did I felt his hand patting my back. Didn’t say a word. I also remember thinking I wouldn’t have traded that for any kind of raise.

I saw him only twice after that, once in 2012 on the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, and once at a 2013 tribute for a departing Donald Graham. But by then, the Ben I knew — that we knew — was largely gone, a victim of dementia.

Last night, reading of his death, I called a friend from The Post and we comforted each other, and shared our memories of Ben, profane and inspired, steely-edged and sweet-centered. For us, working for Ben had been the privilege of a lifetime. I for one often imagined Ben as a kind of journalistic King Arthur and we, his Knights of the Round Table. He was not only my gruff guardian angel, but the nation’s as well. He will be missed.