Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Berry Good Storm over the Pack

Never thinking it would be so soon, in yesterday's post, I predicted  more heat-escaping trips up Pack River.  

With no Mariners game, a hot house and with a need to accomplish something besides sitting around trying to stay cool, I asked Bill if we could head up Caribou Creek and look for huckleberries.  

No dogs this time.  Dogs can distract a good huckleberry picking session; plus, they tend to rob the bushes once they get their first taste of the summer's purple gold.

I washed a couple of white gallon buckets, grabbed some bottles of water and the camera, and off we went. 

Caribou Creek Road was the closest offshoot on the Pack River Road, so if we found a patch, maybe we'd bring back enough berries for another bedtime milk shake. 

We drove to an area where clearcuts give a wide-open open view.  I expected to see berries there, but every other kind of foliage, including fireweed in bloom, took up the space. 

Once we crossed the bridge over Caribou Creek, I started wondering if this was gonna be an empty run.  Nonetheless, it had gotten us out of the house.  Plus, the outside air was definitely cooler. 

A dark, foreboding sense filled the air too, as we continued to drive.  Finally, we stopped at a place where the road forks.  Bill seemed to smell those huckleberries because in no time he was up on a hillside picking.  

"Ya look for areas where white pine is growing or supposed to be," he explained.  Until that moment, I never realized that a forester's knowledge is key to finding a good huckleberry patch. 

Guess it's good to have him along for future searches.

We picked for about half an hour, finding some bushes loaded with berries, others empty. A recent washdown from earlier rains meant clean berries and very little extra residue in our buckets.

Suddenly, Bill said, "Listen."

The stillness and silence of our surroundings gave way to a faint but growing sound of steady wind.  Trees started to sway.  Bill headed for the pickup.  

The memory of his and Willie's escape during a Pack River fishing excursion when a sudden, violent wind storm struck last summer likely persuaded him that it was a good time to head on down the mountain.  

Between the two of us, we had picked a quarter gallon of berries, surely enough for those promised milkshakes. 

I took a few photos of the swaying trees. A 4-wheeler from further up the mountain came flying past us during that interlude.  

On our way down, Bill turned off on the road that goes to the Caribou Lodge.  We started seeing limbs strewn on the road and in less than a mile, we had to turn around, thanks to a huge tree that had just fallen across the road.

Before getting back to the main road, we saw lightning strikes, followed by multiple and loud claps of thunder.  The storm was pressing in.  

By the time we reached the river near the old Edna and Buck's, there was plenty of action up in the mountains to our north. Lightning strikes and thunder claps were putting on quite a show.  

A couple stood alongside the road, watching the storm-induced drama,  which was a safe distance off. 

Further down, we encountered the tree, pictured above, blocking all but a small space on the main road. 

The wind had definitely been blowing along the lower section of road, and I'm sure some of the residents were a bit worried about a repeat of last summer's series of wild wind storms.

Still, this was tame compared to any of those.  By the time we reached HWY 95, I was ready to sing the "Hallelujah" chorus as rain began to splatter our wind shield.

"Maybe it's raining at home," I said. "Maybe our fields won't dry up quite so soon."  

The moisture was definitely an unexpected gift, as was the cooler air, even down in the valley. 

And, the best part was yet to come:  those huckleberry shakes, which turned out to be well worth the effort.  

I even had a few berries leftover.  They're in the freezer. 

Last night's rain shower and storm were welcome respites from the intense heat.  

Bill and I enjoyed every minute of our experience, right down to the last swallow of fresh Pack River Huckleberry shakes while watching a "American Pickers."  

Happy Tuesday.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sizzle, Sizzle, Drip, Drip (Glow, That Is)

I took this photo Friday in our woods south of the house.  I came upon this little one hunkered down in the grass.  After a quick photo shoot, it got up and ran off. 

None of the photos above do much to reflect the misery we're feeling on this humid morning after a HOT, muggy night. All but one reflect our effort last evening to escape the heat.  

We didn't even have to ask the dogs if they wanted to go for a ride in the air-conditioned pickup.  They had a fan in the garage for the afternoon heat.  We had a fan going in the house, but the thought of a couple of hours of true air conditioning appealed to all five of us.

Bill and I had spent most of the day in the house, sprawled out on couches, watching two Seattle teams lose at baseball and soccer.  We felt sorry for Annie, the faithful Sounders fan, who had driven to Portland for the big rival match.  

Turned out to be a great night for the Timbers.  When the score hit 3-1, we turned off the TV.   

So, we climbed into the truck with the dogs and headed up Pack River----the third time in the past two weeks.  This time we traveled up the road to the trail that leads up to Chimney Rock.  

On one brief but very warm stop, I plucked a branch from a huckleberry bush.  Yup, they're ripe at the end of June.  Avid huckleberriers had better head to the mountains soon before the berries all shrivel up from the heat and month of dry weather ahead.

We also let the dogs out at the bridge on the Chimney Rock trail.  It's nice to see a place, where hundreds of folks have likely visited, left untouched and pristine.  

When we returned to the Lovestead, we knew our two hours of bliss would end dramatically, the instant we stepped out of the pickup.  It did.  The house, even with the fan blowing like mad, felt more like an oven than I can ever remember.

I whipped up a couple of chocolate milkshakes for Bill and me and sat directly in the fan's path. That helped.  

This morning, the ongoing back-and-forth barbs on Facebook regarding last week's Supreme Court rulings have been replaced by lots of photos of time and temperature. 

One person posted an image of 82 degrees around 2 a.m.  Twas 75 at 4:30 a.m. here in Selle.  Add a touch of heavy-duty humidity, and I'm guessing it felt worse than last night's oven experience. 

I did go for a walk after my chores. Twenty, maybe twenty-one drops of rains bounced off my body as a big gust of wind blew in quickly and left just as fast. 

The weather report indicates that if we're gonna get the thunder and lightning scheduled for the day, it needs to come by 9 a.m.  If it doesn't, we may wait until Aug. 2 for the next moisture.  

Ouch!  The devastation from this historic weather pattern has already begun over Wenatchee way with some nasty forest fires.  I have a feeling that's just the beginning. 

So, we'll do what we can to fend off the misery and keep our animals and selves as comfortable as possible. 

I also have a feeling Bill, the dogs and I may see the Pack River on hot, dry summer nights a little more often than usual this year-----at least, we hope to escape there---if the woods stay open. 

Lots of unknowns ahead. 

Happy Monday. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bottles-in-the-Bra Days for Those Who Glow

WARNING:  Graphic imagery within the text. Read at your own risk, and if you don't want to read, just enjoy the flowers. 

I haven't tried it yet, but it sounded like a good idea.  One of my Facebook friends announced to her friends yesterday that she was doing her work with a frozen water bottle stuffed in her bra. 

To which another responded that she had just put two wet bras in the freezer.  

To which even one more suggested stuffing a frozen water bottle in the undies' upper-butt section.

To which yet a fourth responder suggested wearing frozen undies. 

I'm gonna keep monitoring this conversation because as it continues to be stifling hot, these Mothers of Invention may just help me make it through the next day AND WEEK(S).

I also saw a couple of photos on Facebook with two kids sitting in two ice chests. Only problem with that is that my buns might not fit inside a cold chest.  And, if I could force them in, Bill might have to go get a crowbar to pry me out.

Bill's not always around when the disasters happen around the Lovestead.  Yesterday, he beat the heat by standing in the Moyie River with his fly rod.  He said it was still pretty hot and quoted 103 for Bonners Ferry.   

Friday night I saw a longtime friend glowing like nobody I've ever seen 'cept maybe folks pumping hot iron in a sauna. 

I say "glowing" because some ladylike soul from a finishing school taught me long ago---I think it was at Camp Neewahlu if my hot brain can remember correctly----that "horses sweat, men perspire and women glow."

So, let's just say this lady friend of mine was "glowing" profusely.

"I don't do heat," she said as she greeted me, almost instantly repeating,  "I don't do heat."

Could be the heat was getting to her. 

Then, she informed me that at home she dresses like Daisy Mae, only with fewer clothes.  

It was too hot for me to conjure up that image.  She was wearing appropriate clothes when I saw her cuz it was  public function.

Had I known just how emphatically this friend didn't do heat---after reading about my other friend walking around her garden with a frozen water bottle between the boobs and the other with a frozen water bottle between the buns---I certainly would have suggested to my glowing friend to give those summertime accessories a try.

As for me, where's Big Blue when I need it?  I gave up my cantankerous Big Blue blow-up swimming pools two years ago when a bunch of green stuff started forming and growing in the 4,000 gallons of Oden water I'd put in the pool. 

No chemicals on this earth could deter that green slime, so I caved and decided no more Big Blues on this place.  

Besides, when I went to empty out the slimy water in the fall and used the tractor loader, a sharp edge on the loader bucket put a big slit in Big Blue's bottom.

So, last year when it got hot---and it did several times---I went without the usual jump in the pool with all my clothes on while Bert Wood's cows watched.  Those refreshing experiences, complete with bovine voyeurism---were always followed by a few hours of bliss as I strolled around the Lovestead, happily employing the North Idaho drip dry to keep cool. 

If the clothes dried and I felt the heat, I simply jumped in again and let those wet clothes and bra, minus a frozen water bottle, keep me refreshed for another few hours.

Life was good then.

It's not good now cuz, like my glowing friend, I don't do heat either. 

And, I've been glowing with regularity over the past couple of days.  My only recourse here at the Lovestead without Big Blue has been to do a lot of watering in my garden and in my pastures. 

That way the hose can dribble on my toes, and I can pretend that it's not really 100 degrees at 6 p.m.   

Of course, most of yesterday's stifling heat went by BEFORE I read the Facebook friend's water-bottle approach.  So, there's a new option on the table----or should i say in the freezer---for today's predicted killer heat.  

In the meantime, the fans are turning, and the morning could be bearable cuz I have to water the gardens.

As for the afternoon, I don't know.  Just in case, though, don't tell anyone, but I may put a few Aquafina bottles in the freezer.  

After all, I read this week that they might be tainted with some kind of people killer organism, so if the company is smart, they might just latch upon the Facebook friend's idea with the bra approach and cut their losses. 

Of course, after all this discussion of practical keep cool approaches, I realize that today's post has lacked an equal opportunity approach.  

I forgot to consider the sweating horses and perspiring men who do not wear bras. 

For those men who do, you're in good shape, and there are other possibilities for our male friends, but I don't think I'll go there.

Last night when I saw big wet patches spreading from my horse Lefty's buns, I thought about getting a frozen water bottle, but figured Lefty might protest if I tried to insert it in an appropriate spot. Having a horse hoof landing in my face did not seem appealing.  

Did I just read what I just wrote?  Sounds a little crazy to me.  Oh well, I've heard insanity sets in when your brain is fried and your body is glowing.  

Happy Sunday.  Stay cool. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday Slight

This weekend 400-plus Sandpoint High School graduates from the 1950s are getting together at the Bonner County Fairgrounds.  

My friend and blog editor Helen has served as the central organizer for the event, and I know she has worked extra hard for months to see that every detail is covered to ensure a positive experience for the SHS alums.

Yesterday afternoon I spent about an hour at the reunion as graduates filed in and picked up their registration packets.  I knew before showing up that many of these folks---even though they graduated in the decade before I did---would have very familiar faces.

And, that proved to be the case.  Many who had come through the doors early were longtime neighborhood friends.  In a couple of cases, I hadn't see some of the neighborhood reunion attendees for more than 50 years. 

Take JoAn DeGroot McBride and Jake Robinson, for example.  

For the past couple of years or so, I've known JoAn from Facebook associations.  Back when the DeGroot family lived a mile or so up North Boyer from us, I saw JoAn only a couple of times.  

She was the oldest of the four and had left home soon after the family moved to their farm, which is now owned by the LaGrace family.   

Seeing Jake Robinson and knowing him immediately was a pleasant surprise.  He looks so much like his dad, only without the cowboy hat. 

Lloyd Robinson worked as a fireman for the City of Sandpoint and shod horses.  Plus, he was a good friend of my dad's.  

Jake's mother Betty was a much beloved teacher at Lincoln School.  My sister Laurie still talks about the wonderful experiences Betty provided for her students.  Betty's efforts toward her students inspired Laurie as a teacher herself. 

Turns out Jake, who spent his career in the Army, with lots of war experience, and as an R.O.T.C. instructor at the University of Montana, lives in Tacoma, just a few miles from my brother Mike.  

He shared a few his fond memories regarding our family and my two older brothers.

Our old neighborhood was also represented by Bob Gooby, Carolyn Theodorson Savage, Alice Woolsey Coldsnow and Janice Heath Burnett.  In fact, Janice lived on the same farm on Great Northern Road where we Love's later lived for 30 years.  

I believe that both Carolyn and Alice spent part of their younger days on what we've known for years as the Pennington aka Delamarter place just down the road from DeGroot's. 

Helen and her organizers have done a wonderful job setting up the fairgrounds main exhibit building with abundant nostalgia not only on the tables but also with class by class displays along one side of the building.

The crew from Ivanos Ristorante has provided some extra efforts too.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the reunion so much that I announced that I was leaving about 15 times before finally making it out the door. That's how it is when you're surrounded by so many familiar faces from the past.  

The group is meeting again today, so I might find time to go back for some more visiting. 

Great job, Helen.  Happy Saturday all.  Stay cool.    

Friday, June 26, 2015

Birthday Cruise on Beautiful Waters.

In 68 years, I've never had a birthday experience quite like yesterday's.  I do remember one in particular in New Orleans back in 1984 when we ran into my classmate Rod Johnson and his wife Mary (Peine) at Jackson Square.  

When Rod learned that it was my birthday, he requested that the steel drummers who were performing that day play the birthday song for me.

I've had other wonderful days, but nothing quite matched yesterday.  Several family members pooled up their resources and rented a pontoon boat from a couple of very nice young men---brothers and owners of Northern Boat Rentals of Priest River.

Gabe and Conrad started their business just this year, but it's evident they have done a lot of research in making sure that all runs smoothly.  In fact, they deliver boats to whatever dock the customers desire. 

We couldn't have been happier with our comfortable and easy-to-drive vessel AND with their friendly, professional service.  

Anyway, while making the arrangements, Laurie told them we'd be happy to set off from Dover Bay, so once we had learned the safety and general rules, Captain Bill maneuvered the boat out into the river, and off we went toward Priest River.  

Lots of happy sighs as we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the fabulous views of mountains, drop-dead gorgeous homes and sparkling, clean water.

I even did some fishing, with no luck.  We turned around just past Wrenco, stopped back at Dover Bay for a pit stop and then headed east on the river.

Debbie texted "Outlaw Judy," who came out to her dock to greet us.  She would have brought a glass of cold wine for the birthday girl, but knowing we had some cold pale ale in the ice chest, we declined.

After a brief visit with Judy, we set off again, crusing under the Long Bridge and the railroad bridge and heading toward an area east of the beach where it appeared to be regatta night for the sailors.

We reminisced about our sailing adventures during a summer rec. teaching session.  The last night we had to be towed in, thanks to no wind.

Well, the breeze was ample yesterday and the sailboats stayed in full motion during our time there.

Debbie jumped in for a quick swim.  We enjoyed a dinner of Mr. Sub sandwiches, did a little more cruising and picture taking and then headed back to Dover Bay.  

I think we were pretty exhausted from an afternoon in the piercing sun, but we figure we'll do it again some time this summer, only add to the occupants.

I thank my family members who collaborated behind my back to make the 68th-year celebration the best ever.   

Now, this morning AFTER the birthday started out a little differently:  renegade cows, a whole herd of them kept Kea, Bill and me on our toes for about an hour as we did our best to direct them back to their pasture----twice.

Adventures every day, and this one has started in dramatic fashion.

Happy Friday.  Stay cool.