Monday, September 01, 2014

Salute to American Workers

Special thanks to all shift workers, farmers, builders, road builders, transportation workers, woodsmen, clerks, etc. AND especially this summer, the Northern Lights, Inc. and Avista electric company workers who make our lives easier and keep this country running as smoothly as possible.  

You are appreciated on this day and every day.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Black and White in the Green

Rain is almost to the pounding stage, one step above pitter patter.  I haven’t heard that sound while sitting here “pounding” out my morning posts for some time.
It looks like this is a brief downpour cuz I can see blue sky behind it.  The nice part:  I don’t have to water today.

Before the rain came, I took the Border Collie Nation Plus One to the hayfield.  Have I mentioned how pretty our hayfield is this fall?

With no weeds (thank’s to Lori’s spraying earlier this summer), the field is a sea of lush, green grass, providing a great and esthetic place for the dogs to romp.

Considering that Todd and Brooke don’t come here so often, I decided to snap some photos this morning, not only because of the gorgeous green field but because adding the black-and-white and sheer beauty of these dogs, the images are fun.

So, bear with me, and enjoy the dog photos---hopefully as much as the dogs were enjoying themselves this morning. 

Kiwi never skipped a beat in Brooke and Todd’s absence.  She knows her duty is to keep Brooke in line at all times, and Brooke knows that she doesn’t appreciate such close vigilance, but what the heck!

They all still have fun.

Having fun and enjoying life resounded during my day yesterday.  I went next door after my neighbor Bev warned me that Ron would be making some noise with his recently purchased front-end dragster. The couple went to North Dakota recently to pick up the car, and Ron will be working with it over the winter, tuning up for one more round of drag races in the spring.

Ron is my age, and he spent many years on racetracks before he and Bev were married.  He figures this is a good time to rekindle the passion and adrenalin of a good race around the track.

With a small audience of car lovers coming to watch and to listen, Ron fired up his Black Sunshine.  The resulting noise was loud but not too loud.

It was fun to watch the enthusiasm of Ron and Bev as they look forward to the racing adventures next spring.

After my visit to Ron and Bev’s, I moved on to another gathering.  

This time, a large number of people had congregated at one of our neighbor’s farms to honor the memory of a good man who had taken advantage of every breath his life had to offer:  biking, sailing, climbing, running, building a beautiful farm with his wife, driving his tractor and serving as a supreme example in the hospital lab where he served as the “rock” and the stellar staff member.

Mike died suddenly several days ago with his mountain bike, preparing for a biking adventure in Montana.  That sadness of his celebration was evident but so was the jubilation among all who knew him and remained inspired by his zest for life.

Everyone who spoke reminded the audience to take advantage of all the opportunities life has to offer.
One man said, “Whenever I’m having fun from now on, I’ll think of Mike.”

And, the final speaker instructed the crowd like she figured Mike would do.

“Carry on,” she said.  I think those who were fortunate to know Mike will definitely follow those instructions, all in their own way.

Some good lessons on a meaningful and memorable Saturday.

The rain has stopped so I shall do the same.  Happy Sunday.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I Did This Summer: with Bonnie Shields

I figure that if my friend Bonnie Shields aka The Tennessee Mule Artist can ask me to do a painting, I can ask her to come on over to the world of writing. 

Well, it didn't exactly happen that way that I was able to obtain a piece of Bonnie's writing and some of her photos from a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I've got 'em, and I'm posting both her writing and her photos this morning.

On Tuesday, the kids will be back in school after several weeks of vacation, and, of course, the standard perennial joke is that some crazy English teacher will assign them an essay:  What I Did Last Summer.

Well, I'm bettin' that not too many of them could rival Bonnie's experience in the "BOB."

Plus, from my own English teaching experiences, I can say that she did a pretty good job on her essay, written a couple of weeks ago for another friend after returning to her normal life as one of Sandpoint's beloved cartoonists/artists and all-around fun gal.  

Among today's collection, I did insert a photo of Bonnie, taken yesterday after she told me she was gonna go have lunch down at Trinity with a bunch of her Sweet Potato Queens/friends.  

That's a whole 'nother story, and Bonnie was looking pretty good in those glasses, don'tcha think?!!!  

Here's Bonnie's story of the BOB, to go along with the photos above. 

My big adventure for the summer of ’14 was my nine days in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana with my mule Iris.

I learned about an artist-in-residence program, sponsored by the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation last winter when my friends, the Padelfords, who volunteer for this outfit in the summers, told me about it.  So I got my act together and applied, like the idiot I am and behold!

I GOT a position for this July. Well, I was kinda jazzed over it, as I think it is, first of all, an honor to be chosen and, second of all, it was ten days in an old CCC cabin in the Wilderness on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

What was required of me was three or more gallery-quality art pieces for a fund-raiser show for the Foundation the following July. 

No sweat.

I had my choice of several cabins, and I chose “Shaw” Cabin on the Owl Creek Trail about 14 miles into the Wilderness.  It was on a spot on Shaw Creek where two trails meet, and it came with a corral, running water and an outhouse.

Whooo-eeee! For someone who has usually had to sleep in a tent on the ground and move camp all the time, it sounded like the High-Country Hilton to me.

I was “allowed” one companion.  Usually, folks pick a dog or a boy-friend or someone who can do all the work, but I didn’t have anyone like that handy, so I picked my mule.
OH MY! The govt. types nearly had a cow over that one.

“It’s never been done.”   So, they had to get their pencils out and come up with a bunch of rules for the mule.  I kid you not.

Luckily, we do all that stuff whenever we take our critturs across state lines out here, so it wasn’t a big thing, and Iris was ready to comply.
Good Mule.

The pass we were to ride over was not free of snow until July 2, so they kinda kept me hanging for a week until they were shure we could do that trail.  Then, there was a mix-up over if any hay had been delivered (by pack mule) to the site for Iris, but it kinda worked itself out between my packer friends, and the word was “Go.”

It’s a five-hour trip by trailer (from Sandpoint) to the trail head, and my great friends, Bob and Sue Padelford, had volunteered to pack me in (and out, I hoped). We traveled together and got to the trailhead on a Sunday night, July 20.

That night it rained like a son-of-agun, and all was soggy and grey that next morning when we were supposed to load up and go.  We put it off for an hour or two and finally said, “Let’s do it,” and we packed up and rode out about 11 a.m.

They each rode their horses but packed three of their experienced mules. Tigger carried my two panniers and top pack.

It is a very rocky and hard trail for the most of the up-hill to the pass and then a hard drop down for maybe two miles until things kinda leveled out a bit.  Iris was in the lead most of the way----until she came to a back-packer.  Then, it was boogertime and pull in behind Cookie, the pack mule, for safety. She DID get better as the trail wore on.

We got to Shaw Cabin about 5 that afternoon, and that ground shure felt good.

To make this short, Iris and I survived just fine on our own, and we thoroughly enjoyed all the pack strings and fishermen and Boy Scouts and hikers that came by our camp.  Met some awesome folks, experienced many mice in the cabin and deer by the door but no BEARS.  

Thank goodness.
It coulda happened as the hillside behind the corral was thick with huckleberries, and you know bears and berries. That was a big reason I high-lined Iris by the cabin every night.  She was my “early-warning system,” and I was her protector.  

Worked out just fine.

I tried sketching on the spot for two days, but I had to finally give that up  because as soon as you got quiet, the flies and mosquitoes and “no-see-ems” swooped in and ATE you.  So, I did some fast ones and took lots of photos and saw things worked out in my head.

I will spend lots of time this winter doing the art work---and the cartoons---about my Cabin in the Wilderness experience.

Oh, by the way, riding OUT on that trail, Iris ignored the back-packers.  She was ready to go home!

Now, I’m covered in company and working on a fund-raiser for our county fair next week and doing an article for Range Magazine on a family up here in North Idaho.  Those sweet and lazy days at Shaw Cabin look mighty good right now.  This might be a lot harder to survive than the “Bob.”

Wish me luck.  

Hugs and Grins, 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday before the Fall

I’m gonna have to type fast this morning.  We had company and we have GRANDPUPS for the weekend.  Willie and Laura just came by and dropped off the dogs.

They’re on their way to school.  Laura has to pay fees for her ASB card and for her art supplies. Willie has to do teacher stuff.  Then, they’ll get together with Debbie and head to Seattle where they’ll attend the Mariners game tonight.

Willie’s instructions AND Annie’s are to position themselves somewhere near a television camera so they can be seen.  Of course, they need to know beforehand that we’re positioned near a television set so we can see them.

Knowing Annie, she’ll figure out how to make all this happen.

They’ll spend a couple of days in Seattle attending both baseball and soccer events and shopping for the upcoming school year.  They'll also spend some time in DuPont, visiting with Mike and Mary. 

So, Todd and Brooke have once again joined the Lovestead Border Collie Nation, plus One.

Todd and Brooke love their farm over in Colburn and will probably miss their new horse friends, but I’m sure Lefty and Lily will provide them plenty of action for the next couple of days. 

In fact, Lefty spends the early mornings running the fence line, wishing he were on the other side with Lily.  I haven’t told him that this makes me happy because all that running keeps him slim.

Once again, the sun put on a show this morning as I walked to the north. Breath-taking seems hardly adequate to describe the awe-inspiring scenes created by this week's sunrises.  

Along my way, I spotted the fawn, quietly grazing in Gary Finney's field just a few feet from Mama and Baby Percheron. 

That's the way it is out here; everyone minds their space and everyone gets along, be they two-legged or four. 

Besides the beautiful pre-autumn days, this week, for me, has involved a lot of time spent with a paintbrush.  I have the spotted Crocs and jeans to prove it.

Fences, however, are looking magnificent EXCEPT for this morning's discovery of the aftermath of busy equine teeth.  I noticed the new chew on the west barnyard fence and then looked to the east to find a few more blemishes to my new paint job.

Electric fence tonight!  That's the only reason I use those electric wires, and usually one shocking jolt keeps those teeth away from the boards for a week or two. 

And, speaking of teeth, one pumpkin in my patch has gone completely to the deer.  It's taken a couple of weeks, but all that's left of the victimized pumpkin is the shell, and this pumpkin has been partially hidden by the vines.

So, I'm wondering about deer logic where a perfectly big and inviting pumpkin, plucked from the vine for the fair and then rejected because of scratches, sits unharmed.  

Maybe it's next. 

As for the shot of Schweitzer.  They're having a big weekend up there over this Labor Day holiday.  Bill and I might have to take a trip up there and enjoy some of the sights and sounds and tastes of bands, beverages and good food. 

So, we're heading into the fall with this Friday before Labor Day, and with the exception of blemished fence boards, things are looking pretty good.

Happy Friday.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seasonal Scenes and Such

No phonebooks along the roadside this morning.  That makes it a good day.

I read in the morning paper that my esophagous might quit blocking stomach acid from erupting as I get older AND that my tastebuds will lose their pinpoint accuracy in reminding me that I still don’t like liver.  

That was a downer.

I intend to continue hating liver and rice until the day I die.

Twas also a downer to learn that the Mariners lost 12-4 yesterday. 

Other than that, no real ups or downs today---just yet anyway.

After watering and painting fence for several hours yesterday, I decided that a sitting and driving break was in order. 

Bill was headed to the Moyie for his first angling experience there.  That’s where he likes to go in the fall.  So, when he came home to get his fishing gear, we met briefly in the kitchen and then went our separate ways. 

My route took me along some back roads and finally to HWY 2, headed toward Priest River.  I didn’t know just how far I’d drive because more painting and lawn mowing awaited me at home.

The Army Corps of Engineers swimming hole seemed like a nice turn-off, so I spent a few minutes in there and at Crystal Lake across the road. 

Cattails were looking a lot like corndogs yesterday at the marshy area along the north side of the highway. 

All was pretty, just as it is again this morning.  Seems redundant to keep pointing that camera lens toward Taylors’ field of cows, but images created by the morning sun make it irresistible.

Finally, the first picture, taken on the kitchen island, reveals that I made a stop at Miller’s Country Store yesterday to purchase a few goodies.

The place was bustling with customers loading up on the many delights available, and before I had a chance, a lady picked up the two remaining scones I had been eyeing and placed them in her pile. 

My heart sank as I was on my way to Colburn to see Swiss Miss aka Laura and thought she ought to try out those scones.

Bad news turned good, however, when one of the clerks told me she had pecan/maple scones fresh from the oven in the back room.  Soon she came with a box of four.

I, of course, had to sample one on the way to Colburn, with sticky hands from the warm icing and with tastebuds still intact enough to savor every bite.

Laura told me that was the best scone she’d ever eaten, so I told Laura to make sure two scones remained for Willie and Debbie when they got home, just in case! J

I also purchased two oatmeal cookies as seen in the photo with my garden tomatoes, bell pepper and cuke, picked just this morning.  Somehow, the cookies begged to be in the picture, forming a platform for the veggies.

I have a feeling at least one cookie will go with Bill when he heads of to work.  By the way, his news from the Moyie was good:  about 25 catch-and-release fish with a lunker at the end.

All in all, it’s turned out to be a good-news day, and I’ve left the phonebook rant behind.  Seems it’s a pretty pervasive irritant around the region.

So, this Thursday brings more fence painting and continued lawn mowing, along with whatever . . . .

Have a great day. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Can Ya Hear Me Now . . . Let's Talk Phoney Garbage

 How many phonebooks do we need a year? 

How many phonebooks end up as garbage, strewn along roadsides or in ditches because people are so sick and tired of getting umpteen phonebooks a year which take up space, especially when many of these people have smart phones which will get them the number a helluva lot faster than they'd ever find it pawing through the latest pile of phonebooks, trying to figure out if the book is for Coeur d'Alene or Sandpoint or if the book is just business numbers or numbers belonging to real people?

(A)To get one phonebook a year with names and numbers of landline residents and local businesses or (B) to get half a dozen phonebooks, thrown on the road, that IS the question. 

Mark A or B and submit your answer to the link at the top of the phonebook below, the graphic that sez:  To stop delivery of future directories, visit  where you'll find vital information about recycling those outdated phonebooks and how to "Keep America Beautiful." 

Izn't that nice?  I simply want the phonebook people to put their stuff in my mailbox and pay the piper just like all the other people out there who want us to have what we don't necessarily need.

I don't want phonebooks thrown on the ground under my mailbox and paperbox, especially out here on beautiful South Center Valley Road, the back road to the dump.  

Do the phone directory people have special exemptions, allowing them to litter up the beautiful countryside.  Does the postal service charge them extra, above and beyond all the junk-mail charges? 

Enquiring minds would like to know, and this enquiring mind would like to know if the Idaho State Legislature could please deal with this "legal littering."  

Can ya hear me now, Shawn????

Yes, this morning I picked up my umpteenth phonebook in its big plastic bag and brought it to the house.  I thought we'd already received our Sandpoint phonebook with residents and businesses.

Well, when I looked inside this one, the white-page section was really skinny and the yellow pages fat.  My first assumption:  yup, a lotta folks have cell phones now and they've gotten rid of their landlines.  

Wrong:  this turned out to be the Sandpoint and surrounding areas business phonebook, so the business names were listed in that skinny section of white pages, and then their pricey ads came in the plump yellow section.

Gee, I've been needing a phonebook for the Sandpoint businesses, not!  Nonetheless, I have done my civic duty and have brought the damn thing in its plastic bag into my house rather than wishing it would disintegrate out there under my mail box. 

BUT I ride horses and bikes and walk. 

And, in past years when I've been riding, biking or walking at a much slower pace than most folks drive their cars, I observe stuff I normally would not notice.  

In those experiences, alongside the numerous Icehouse beer cans some thug leaves all over our neighborhood, I've seen numerous phonebooks, still in their plastic wrappers, lying in the ditches or road edges covered with gravel and dust and obviously never picked up by whatever current resident living or no longer living near a targeted mailbox. 

And, I get mad, really mad, mad as Hell, in fact, at the thugs who authorize this type of irresponsible delivery.  

No better than the Icehouse thug, if you ask me. 

Okay, my rant has ended, but I do hope someone passes the word and tells the folks who put out these endless telephone directories that we'd have a lot more respect for them and their product if they'd just deliver their goods responsibly and with more care toward KEEPING AMERICA BEAUTIFUL than their current methods. 

Thank you. Happy Wednesday, and if you're living in the country and reading this before heading outside, be prepared:  you've got mail ON THE GROUND!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Twitterdeedum

Roman Nose in the background. 

The Malaysian Connection:  Laura and Jeralyn. 
SHS media man Will Love with a tool of his trade. 

SHS principal Tom Albertson

To start off on this Tuesday, I must first mention the turkeys.  An otherwise quiet morning walk, filled with mist-filled scenes and highlighted Roman Nose Mountain overlooking a lovely cow pasture turned slightly chaotic as I neared our home.
It was time for the neighborhood to drive to work, and I threw my usual waves as cars passed by.  This morning a motorcyclist whom I’d not seen before headed south on South Center Valley Road at a pretty moderate speed.
I waved. 
He acknowledged and kept on putzing down the road.
Soon, he had to slow down for a herd of turkeys, crossing from east to west.
No problem.
A second later, a deer raced across the road from west to east.
This time amidst otherwise morning silence, I heard and saw the cyclist skid to a stop.
Lucky for him. 
He just missed the doe which was long gone and standing over near those trees in Taylor’s field with her fawns when I reached the spot where it could have turned tragic.
All’s well, though, and the turkeys decided the west side of the road was not to their liking, so they crossed again and scurried into Gary Finney’s field.
The mist made for some gorgeous scenes this morning on both sides of the road.  By the time, I reached Filipowski’s, however, mist had cleared, allowing me to snap that photo of Roman Nose and the Herefords.
In the “favorite people” category, it seemed to me yesterday that since Laura from Switzerland was at school picking up her schedule and hanging out in Willie's classroom that a photo of Laura and my dear friend Jeralyn was in order.
Laura's parents live in Malaysia, just as does Mike Flaim, whose sister is married to Jeralyn's brother. 
Twould be fun to take the photo and send it to both, I thought.
So, I did.  As Sandpoint High counselor, Jeralyn had already met Laura at the new-student orientation, but she was unaware of the Malaysian connection. 
We had a good visit while snapping some crazy and serious pictures.
I was at the school yesterday to play a small role in an administration-directed video, filmed by none other than Willie, the SHS media man.  Willie also starred in the video, which hinted to students to clean up after themselves, rather than expecting their mother to do so.
I won't reveal the outcome.  Let's hope the students get the message and keep SHS in a litter-free state.
And, speaking of SHS, I also snapped a photo of the new principal, whom I've known since the day I took a picture of him with spaghetti all over his face. 
Tom Albertson, a classmate of Jeralyn's, must have been all of 10 at the time.  He was enjoying the potluck offerings at a Gold n' Grouse 4-H Club picnic, and I was taking pictures for a special Bonner County Fair tabloid newspaper.
That was our first-ever meeting, and unfortunately, I forgot to bring spaghetti along for Tom. Since the potluck about 40 years ago, I've had the good fortune of knowing Tom as a student and later as a colleague.
To say he's the darling of all of us old fogey retired teachers and that we're thrilled to see him in this new position could be an understatement.
The way I see it, Sandpoint High is in good hands with Tom at the helm.  The only thing that bothers me is that now, instead of spaghetti on his face, Tom is wearing those cheaters. 
And, that makes me feel pretty old.

Good luck, Tom, and happy Tuesday to all.