Friday, April 24, 2015

Theory of Earthquake Relativity

Facebook was flashing earthquake news for several hours last night.  Many residents of this area from Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Western Montana were rattled, to say the least. Some missed at least parts of the show, including Bill and me.

We're planning to sell our new old motor home, so Bill decided to pull it out of the shop where it spent the winter and take it for a spin.  Dogs were ecstatic.

They think they OWN the new travel trailer, and nobody has to call when there's a chance for them to ride around the neighborhood in the motor home. 

"Better bring your cell phone," Bill advised as we prepared to take off.  He knows how important it is to have communication to the outside world when the new old motor home decides to die in the middle of a road.

Well, last night, as we were cruising down the highway at 60-plus, Bill looked at the speedometer, slowed down and remarked, "Gee, this is operating better than ever."

"Yeah, you know how pigs are when they sense the slaughter house," I responded as we passed Wood's Meat Co.  They get really friendly. This rig is probably sensing that it might lose its happy home so it's on its best behavior."

In the meantime, three doggies traveled back and forth in the aisle, jumped on to cushions, looked out windows and sometimes even snoozed as we went from Selle Road to Samuels Road, south on Colburn-Culver and back on Selle Road.

We were in the Samuels area when I saw the first comment on Facebook from Toby McLaughlin, asking if anyone "felt that," stating that it was like an earthquake.  

"I'm not kidding," he added. 

Dozens of similar comments and some "expletives" suddenly lit up the social media. 

Upon reading all the comments, I became a bit disgruntled.  

We WERE having a good time in the motor home, but to have missed the earthquake.  I kinda felt cheated.  

While returning home on Selle Road, I called my sister in Colburn and asked her how the quake felt.  Well, she didn't know cuz she was grading papers and had felt nothing.  

Of course, they have trains going by their house dozens of times daily so they may have been aware but thought it was just another train.

It was fun to read the comments and later the official news stating that the quake was somewhere near Hayden about 40 miles south of Sandpoint.  Later, it was pinpointed as a 4.1 quake near the mountains on the east side of Lake Pend Oreille. 

My disappointment at missing the quake would be short-lived because I definitely got spooked out by the second big rumble which hit around 10:30 p.m. 

Sounded like a fierce wind hammering at the house, and it was weird.  

To make sure we weren't imagining things, I once again went to Facebook.  Once again, it was lighting up with observations, this time a bit more ominous in nature.  "Queasy, dizzy, I'm scared," replaced the somewhat awed reaction to the first quake. 

In particular, I noticed Kay Kiebert's deep concern.  She lives out at Hope.  Later we learned that the second quake occurred much closer to our area than the first.  Officially, it was listed as a 4.2 magnitude and nine miles east of Sandpoint.   

Later, I thought about Kay who knows personally and very sadly the horrific consequences of being within a quake zone. 

No wonder she was scared, I thought, remembering an afternoon sitting in the living room of her Aunt Irene's home in Hope. 

While writing her responses on a yellow legal pad, tears welled up in my eyes as Irene, a retired school teacher, related an emotional story that consumed her life from the summer of 1959 until her dying day. 

Irene survived the Yellowstone Earthquake that summer.  

Most of her family did not. 

This morning someone on Facebook reminded me and others who have reacted to last night's spooky rumblings of nature as pretty darned scary-----that earthquakes in other regions of the country and world are common phenomena. 

True.  But it's all relative.  This is not earthquake territory.  

I can remember feeling the effects of maybe four or five earthquakes total in my life of nearly 68 years.  Their epicenters were hundreds of miles away, in most cases. 

So, just like our shock at the ferocious wind storms that ravaged so much of this area last summer, we're just not used to such things.  

And, because we experience these events so rarely,  we probably take the lesson that someone else is definitely in charge of this earth much more seriously. 

Yes, this is my theory of relativity with earthquakes.  Our reaction and respect is all relative to the experience itself or to the people we know who have gone through much more horrific experiences than we have ever encountered. 

So, after being rattled a bit overnight, I do want to share the story I wrote for the Spokesman-Review back in the late 1990s after my emotional visit with Kay Kiebert's Aunt Irene.

by Marianne Love
for the Spokesman-Review

Irene Bennett Dunn visited Montana’s Madison Valley last week to close the final chapter of the tragic story she’s been reliving daily and planning to write for 36 years.
Clutching kleenexes and seated in her house near Hope this week, the 75-year-old retired Clark Fork Elementary teacher said her first trip back to the scene where three of her four children and her first husband died went according to plan.
“I kept saying we’ll do the emotional part. Then we’ll have fun,” she said. “It helped a lot to prepare.”

 Irene and husband Jack accompanied  her only living son Phil and his wife  to the Earthquake Area and Interpretive Center near Ennis to visit monuments to 28 people who,  on Aug. 17, 1959,  died in one of the most severe earthquakes (7.8 on the Richter Scale) ever recorded in North America.
The catastrophe sent giant waves rushing down the narrow Madison Canyon where Irene’s family were sleeping.  It also unloaded 80 million tons of rock from a 7,600-foot mountain into the river, hurling campers against trees, cars, trailers or the canyon wall.

 Purley and Irene Bennett, along with Carole (17), Philip (16), Tom (11) and Susan (6)  had set off from Dalton Gardens on a camping vacation.   After visiting relatives in Hope, the family headed east in their green Ford station wagon, undecided on whether to go to Canada or Yellowstone.

“I want to see the animals,’” Irene remembers her youngest saying.  “Everybody then agreed to go to Yellowstone.”  The trip included a day in Virginia City.

“We did all the fun things and pulled into camp late,” she said.  The whole family slept on top of a rented tent.
“At 11:37, I heard a loud bang.  The earth began to shake,” Irene recalled.  “My husband got up. . . I saw him grab a tree. . . that’s all I remember.”

Later, vague sensations of being under water and pinned beneath a tree on a sandy bank prompted the lifelong Protestant to pray.

“I saw the moon was out.  It was a brilliant moon,” she explained. “I recited the ‘121st Psalm,’ my favorite:  Lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. . . .”

The night of horror was just beginning.  Calling in vain for her family, Irene dug her way free  only to discover she couldn’t stand up.  Her leg was broken.  She crawled back and covered herself with branches.

“I just stayed there until morning; then I called and called until I heard an answer,” she explained.  The welcome response came from Phil, badly hurt with head and leg injuries, but crawling toward the crumpled station wagon when he heard his mother.

The only two survivors in the area were eventually taken to Ennis Community Hospital, but not before Irene learned of her husband’s fate.

“I prayed that the children would be alive, but they would slowly find a body,” she recalled.  “. . . Carole, then Tom.  It was a long time before they found Susan.  I prayed for her to be alive, yet I worried about her being out there by her little self.”

Relatives held a memorial service while Irene and Phil recuperated.  The two eventually returned to Coeur d’Alene where Phil finished high school and Irene earned a provisional teaching certificate.  In 1961, she married her high school sweetheart Jack Dunn, a dairy farmer from Hope.   Phil now works for Boeing Computer Systems.

Last week’s journey back provided a bittersweet ending to the book Irene intends to write for herself and others suffering tragedy.
“We’ll never forget them, but we’ll go on with our lives with the family we’ve acquired,” she said.  “We ARE a family again.”

Special Note:  Irene later published a book about her experience. Her memoir Out of the Night:  A Story of Tragedy and Hope from a Survivor of the 1959 Montana-Yellowstone Earthquake can be found on 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Judy Hunt (former French teacher at Sandpoint High), Myra Lewis (business instructor) and Shirl the Pearl Parker, English teacher.

On a side note, Judy was directly responsible for the Love's hosting now Dr. Romain Ollivier, for three different summers back in the '90s.  Romain became a noted cardiologist who has a practice in Luxembourg.

During her stay in Sandpoint, Judy also spurred me into a wonderful project with my honors English students.   The result:  several dozen biographies of local longtime citizens, which appear in the first Beautiful Bonner history book.

It was a fantastic, long term assignment, and I can distinctly remember cheerleading those students and reminding them that their work would last for a long, long time.  Thanks, Judy. 

Rick and Ann Gehring, yours truly, and a very nice German couple.  They wrote a big long note on the back of the picture, but I'm gonna have to get a translation.  Here's one line with hopes that I got all the correct letters:   Es war cine schone spontane Bekanntsosaft, wir hatten setr viel spap. 

Two first names friend:  Merriam Merriman and Marianne. 

Edna, Ann, Kathy and Marianne and Lord knows what they were drinking:  chardonnay for me, thank you!  I think this photo was taken at the lodge which no longer stands at the former Hidden Lakes Golf Club.

The beautiful lodge burned down a few years ago, and the golf resort is now known as Idaho Club.


I'm running a little slow on the draw this morning.  Don't know why, just behind schedule, but it's looking like a great day ahead on this Throwback Thursday. 

My theme today involves teacher friends and, in all cases, good times had by all.  

One day several years ago when Judy Hunt was still in town (and Lord knows how many miles of this Earth she's traveled since), some of us went up to our colleague and good friend Myra Lewis' ranch in Clark Fork.  

It was a cross country skiing day, and I think we even added a snowmobile ride on a road above Myra's.  I just remember distinctly a "note to self" not to go snowmobiling without a lot of strong men around.  Snowmobiling, I learned that day, is not as easy as it looks.

But the cross country skiing was great, as it always is when Myra invites folks to her place. Myra is also a hospitality queen.  I can remember many, many good times with faculty friends at Lewises' place over the years. 

The second photo was taken by a professional photographer at Pat O' Brien's in New Orleans.  

That's when a trio of SHS teacher couples skipped town and played over Spring Break.  What happened in New Orleans mainly stayed there, but not this picture.  

As you may notice, ALL the said couples don't appear in the photo.  

While Rick and Ann Gehring and I went inside Pat O'Brien's for a Hurricane and became new best friends with a German couple, my well-behaved hubby Bill and the other well-behaved couple, Tom and Sharon Walton, stood in line (saving our place) at Preservation Hall.  

It's apparent what was foremost in the minds of each couple.  Some of us had double enjoyment cuz the Hurricanes were good and so was the music.  

My friend Merriam Merriman (yes, the lady with two first or last names) and I were partners in crime (good crimes) for a number of years.  Merriam helped start the Sandpoint High Parents and Friends when her daughter Megan was attending Sandpoint High.

She later taught Spanish at the high school.  My fondest memories of Merriam involve selling Gooby Beefsticks and checking the booths at Connie's before telling a good story (it's important because sound can travel and it's easy in Sandpoint for someone eavesdrop and know exactly whom you're talking about).  So, checking the booths around you is a must!

Finally, and probably my favorite memory with Merriam are the many "gotchas" I pulled while making prank phone calls to her.  She fell for every single one, even the one when I called and pretended to be a high-up official from Stanford University where her daughter graduated. 

Merriam now lives in Western Washington, but she and husband Larry came over for a visit a few years ago, and, of course, were inducted into the Lovestead Lodgepole Society. 

All I've gotta say about the last photo is that we have to do this again. Time for a lunch date, ladies.  We've enjoyed several gatherings over the years, including those at a crazy book club where Kathy and Ann are members. 

Edna lives in my neighborhood and I see her maybe once a year!  

So, it's time.  Let's do lunch.  

Looking at these photos reminds me how much our faculty friends are a part of our lives forever----just like family.  

So, that's enough for this Throwback Thursday.  Hope you enjoyed the reminiscing and do some of your own.

Happy Thursday, and Happy Birthday, William.  Shakespeare, that is.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Thoughts

Forty-five years ago when Earth Day began, I can't remember being very tuned in to the whole idea. 

I do remember over the years as a teacher engaging in projects that got us all out of school for a few hours to go clean up a designated area. 

While participating in these activities, I was always amazed at how much garbage people could discard in any ol' place they wanted. 

Before Earth Day was established, I think we had already been fully indoctrinated with the notion that it was a sin to throw garbage out a car window or dump it anywhere besides waste baskets, garbage cans or the dump, as we always called what's now the "transfer station."

"Pick up after yourself," was a staple among the rules taught to us as kids----and firmly enforced.

Of course, as a kid, I was kinda glad that the rest of the the world passing through our neighborhood hadn't received the same instruction----especially when it came to their pop bottles and beer bottles.

I was happy to pick up after THEM.  

After all, unbroken beer bottles were worth a penny and pop bottles sometimes could fetch up to 10 cents apiece.  Whenever an old gunny sack in the wood shed of our North Boyer farm was nearly full, Mother or Harold would haul me down to the distributors to hand over the containers and fetch my cash. 

My dad eventually got to calling those containers "Marianne's." 

"There's a Marianne," he'd say as we'd drive past bottles lying along roadsides. 

I was a regular visitor to the ditches surrounding our house for more than just the "gold" in my modest bank account.   

During the summers, before countywide weed spraying started, they also reaped delectable dew berries, which I picked diligently in hopes that Mother would have enough to bake a pie or some jam. 

Occasionally, snakes would scare the bejeebers out of me as I did my picking.  Sometimes those bottles or berries would have to stay until another day when maybe that snake had left the area. 

These days, we don't see too many dewberries with their prickly vines along the ditches, and if we do, they probably aren't safe for human consumption because of weed spray. 

We DO see those beverage containers, though----lots of them, and I no longer view them with eyes filled with dollar signs.  

Instead, these days I view them with disgust, especially when I see a whole new crop appear just a week or so after I've gone out an retrieved the last batch to put in a garbage sack bound for the transfer station. 

Some of us who walk or bike South Center Valley Road regularly have shared a mutual hatred.  

We don't know what he looks like, but we have picked up a few clues as to his regular habits---the most regular being his dumping of dozens of Icehouse beer cans, often in multiples, often in just one pass through the area. 

The theory among the residents for the past few years has been that he must have a job somewhere in Kootenai or Ponderay.  After work, he stops off at the convenience store for a case of beer, guzzles as he drives down the country roads and then flings the cans out the window before arriving at his home somewhere north of our neighborhood. 

Let's just say Icehouse Man has been prolific over the years.  And, let's just say he has been loathed by everyone along South Center Valley Road who picks up after him with no reward other than to clean the ditch one more time. 

Of late, however, we've discussed the fact that Icehouse Man must have moved because we're now dealing with an even wider assortment of beer brands as we pick up after the pigs who apparently never received instruction from their parents and probably weren't listening when someone was telling them how nice it would be to keep the earth clean. 

We haven't missed Icehouse Man, but I do wonder if the neighborhoods on his new route to his home from wherever he's driving have taken on the clean-up burden that the folks along our road have shared for years. 

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people have to fling their trash amidst the beauty.  Recently, someone even dumped a big TV along North Kootenai Road which would probably require a front-end loader to pick it up. 

Last night while biking down Selle Road, I could not believe the amount of concentrated garbage strewn for about a fourth mile on one side of the road----all for someone else to pick up. 

I can feel myself getting mad as I write, thinking about the lack of responsibility which seems to be so prevalent among our populace.  

Maybe we need to enact some universal laws bringing back the old practice of paying for empty cans and bottles.  

Maybe that would help.  I know I sure loved having the opportunity to make a little cash when I was a kid.  And, possibly if the people who buy those cans and bottles of liquid to consume while they're out driving would think twice before throwing away some potential money.

Twould be one small way to honor Earth Day, keep our planet clean and lower the blood pressure of all those who carry around garbage sacks, picking up after the two-legged pigs who love to litter. 

Happy Earth Day.  I'll probably take a garbage bag on my walk today!  And, if you go out to clean up in your neighborhood and Icehouse Man has moved in, you may need two bags.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Trailerdeedum

The Foster Seal of Approval:  what more could we ask?

Yes, Mr. Foster likes the new Rpod.  He likes it so much that he has sniffed and played in most dog-legal areas inside the trailer---not the microwave, stove or refrigerator, but, for sure, both beds, the cushions, etc.

I've never seen the little guy take to something so fast.  Within minutes of when we pulled into the driveway, Foster had climbed the step and made himself at home----as did Kiwi and Kea.

Last night, as I carried huge, rolly-polly Festus through the house to his nightly home, Bill said, "Festus is the only one who hasn't seen the trailer."

Well, the horses haven't either, but we did enjoy a coming-home party late yesterday afternoon after spending a good portion of the day dealing with accessory sticker shock and an orientation into what buttons to push and what valve to twist BEFORE taking the lid off the "black water" drain.

We were fortunate that nothing fell out the two open storage bins during the first mile or two down the road.  Bill got out and closed those doors.

Willie and Debbie stopped by, and we enjoyed sitting inside the trailer catching up on their lives during a very busy past week.

This morning, the other half of the newly minted "Lovestead trailer tramps" has headed off to the Clark Fork River WITHOUT the trailer but fully loaded with gear for a day on the river with his friend Chris.

I expect to see him sometime tomorrow morning because I have been instructed by both Chris and Victor (the sticker-shock guy at Blue Dog who might even like fly fishing better than Bill) that anglers should be expected home late rather than early when they're floating or walking a river.

I learned that for the first time a couple of years ago when Bill finally rolled in from a Coeur d'Alene River trip about 1:30 a.m.

So, I'm sure he'll come home burnt to a crisp but happy.

Meanwhile, I'm gonna continue spring planting activities.  All the pots are now filled with potting soil and waiting for inhabitants.  I may put a few pansies out on those on the deck and maybe a few petunias.

The daffodils---as seen below---are still splashing little flashes of color in various places around the yard, and the hyacinths have burst open pastel pinks in the past couple of days.  North lawn fruit trees are starting to show off some blossoms, and I've even detected a few lilac blossoms getting ready for their spring show.

I posted the photo of the bird's nest simply because it posed a bit of a mystery when I pedaled past it on Woodside Road the other night.  It sits atop a skinny little snag in the ditch just off the road.  No trees around, just a fencepost.  I'm just wondering how it got there and if it will stay.  I do hope it doesn't serve as a place for eggs, especially if a good wind comes swooping through the area. Just a freak of nature's activities, I guess, but fun to wonder.

I haven't mentioned ZAGS for a while, but this morning's paper featured a story about  the last of the big boys who might have bolted for the NBA draft.  I'm sure most of us in ZAGville are singing a happy song because the BIG THREE are all staying for another season.

That's great news, and I'm thinking that none of them will regret their decision because I have a feeling that next year's ZAGS could be even more successful than what we saw this year.  GO ZAGS!  THANKS, Sabonis, Karnowski and Wiltjer for sticking around.

And, with that:  Happy Tuesday. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

One Story Leads to Another

Sorta like the title of this morning's post, one fence post leads to another in a beautiful spring evening setting. 

I've had a Facebook friend for a couple of years.  During our occasional interactions on Facebook, I've noticed that she hasn't always responded to my comments or even private messages. 

"Are you still doctoring?" 

That was the last time I wrote her a message, and she did not answer.  Seems odd for someone I've known for more than 50 years. 

When this Facebook friend and I connected, I went immediately to her wall to see how she was looking these days.  After all, I'd seen her maybe once in the past 50 years.   Her profile photo turned out to be a Popeye cartoon. 

"Oh well," I thought.  She must want to keep a low profile on Facebook.  Surprisingly, some people do. 

Over the time that we've been Facebook friends, I've marveled at her exquisite photography, featuring farm scenes, mainly around the Palouse.

One day last week, she posted a collection and noted that she had spent the day driving the back roads with a longtime friend who was celebrating her birthday.  

"What a neat idea!" I thought.  So, I wrote her a note and said I'd love to have her join me on my birthday, and we'd both go neat places and take photos.  A postscript suggested that we could use the day to do some catching up.

She posted later that she might be open to such an idea.

So, I wrote her private note, told her my birthday date, said I was totally serious about the idea and asked if she'd spent much time in the Kootenai Valley. 

She liked that idea and said she'd plan to stay overnight when she came.  As the notes went back and forth, I told her we'd happily put her up for the night.  She said she might bring her hubby or her friend Mary. 

I said it didn't really matter if the date we chose for picture-taking was my birthday; we could pick any day that looked good for photography when both of us had time.  

She said she'd like a few clouds and that she prefers to take her photos at certain times of the day, and she assured me she'd be up for a little hike and walking along a dike would be okay.

I also asked her------since it had been 50 years-----what her hubby's name was and what he does/did as a career.

She told me his name was George; he was a carpenter and that they lived in a geodesic dome house which he had built.  

I also learned that they lived in Moscow, not Coeur d'Alene like I'd originally thought. That helped explain why she'd have to stay overnight.

She also told me she'd heard from "Bonnie" that there's a nice trail along the lake up here in Sandpoint.

"Who's Bonnie?" I wondered.

When she mentioned that she had worked at the College of Agriculture at U of I, I kinda scratched my head, "Hmmm. I thought she was a doctor." 

So, I sent her a note, telling her that, over a span of 50 years, sometimes facts can get a little mixed up. Then, I asked if she wasn't a medical doctor, did she get her doctorate at Idaho?

I also mentioned the time she spent working at the local experiment farm when I was working at the old fairgrounds.

A note came back later,  insisting that when she comes up this way, she would treat me to dinner after our day of photographic adventures, but there's more . . . . 

"Do you have me mixed up with someone else?" she asked, adding that she never remembered working at the experiment farm, although it sounded like it would be fun.  

Usually the jolt that takes over the body when embarrassment of any sort occurs is pretty dramatic.  Well, this jolt worked its powers a bit like the time-release medicine.  Still, it had impact.

I started writing her a note; then stopped mid-sentence and called my editor Helen for a mental status check. 

Sure enough the person I was thinking of was a doctor, but nothing else added up. 


Then, I got to thinking that if I had the wrong person and had invited this lady to come up and stay at my house overnight after spending an entire day with her AND what if we didn't exactly click.  

Then, it started dawning on me why she didn't always respond to my questions over the past couple of years.

It was adding up, but who the heck WAS this woman, who never argued the 50 years of not seeing each other, who had a friend Bonnie whom she figured I knew . . . . 

Well, after hanging up from my hysterical conversation with Helen, I trudged on to get to the bottom of this new-found mystery with a talented photographer in the middle of it all. 

I finished my note to her and hit "Send," wondering if she thought I'd lost my mind.   

She quickly wrote back, stating her maiden name, and therein lies the problem.  

Her name on Facebook is her married name, which is the maiden name of my other friend who did work at the experiment farm and who is a doctor, and who does live in Coeur d'Alene. 

Mystery woman also gave me a way out if I really didn't want to spend the day with her and have her stay overnight at my house.

"I'll stay with Bonnie," she said. Turns out I know Bonnie very well. She's one of my favorites in Sandpoint.  

Turns out I knew this lady and Bonnie when they were sophomores at Sandpoint High School and I was a senior.  So, it's not as if we're strangers, but she did admit that when the big revelation took place say that she had thought I acted like I knew her a lot better than she knew me.

Okay, the story should end there, but it doesn't.  This lady and I are going to get together and spend a day taking pictures and she will stay with Bonnie.  

Since our day of discovery on Saturday, we've exchanged several notes about our common interest in photography, and instead of the situation turning out to be a big bust, it has opened the door to another adventure with a camera and with a talented lady I barely knew 50 years ago.  

The stories of good ol' times in Sandpoint will fly, I'm sure, and I told her Bonnie needs to come along too.  It should be a grand time. 

Which brings me to another story.  Last night while watching my favorite show on TV "60 Minutes," I learned about  For those who did not watch or are not familiar with the site, it features speeches on every subject imaginable given by world renowned figures and just plain ordinary people who have something profound to share with others. 

After listening to the segment and seeing some of the voices who have mesmerized audiences, I could not get to the site fast enough.

This morning I went on my maiden voyage with TED, and, of course, I picked a video about story telling.  

Of course, it touched my heart deeply because I do believe that everyone has a tale to share, and nothing gets my cylinders going any better than listening to a good story. 

So, instead of this being a never-ending story post, I'm just going to encourage you to listen to the video I picked this morning.  It has a resounding and important message.  

Enjoy and Happy Monday.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Leisure-Time Images

Everyone was off doing something, ‘cept for my sister Laurie and me.  Actually, we were doing something.  We just weren’t "off" doing so.
We were at our respective homes while Debbie spent the day with the Distinguished Young Woman competition, Willie and Barbara were in Denver at the journalism convention (where the Cedar Post and its online version took a 7th and 9th, respectively), and Bill was finishing off the tree-planting project.

So, we decided to take a break from our yard and general farm-oriented activities, load up our bikes and enjoy a ride through the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge.  After all, yesterday was too nice to work ALL day.

So, that’s what we did, and, as usual, we enjoyed the experience immensely.  Others were out doing the same, either relaxing on a dock with a fish pole or walking through the refuge.
That eagle was keeping a close eye on the fishing activities below.  I don’t know how fishing was at that spot on the Kootenai River, but I do know the shoreline was mighty pretty as the trees and bushes are bursting out with spring colors.

After our bike ride, I suggested that we take a side trip to the farming area north of Bonners Ferry where Bill and I had been the day before.  I knew Laurie would enjoy seeing the neatly kept farms, specializing in everything from sheep to mules, to ornamental trees, to cattle and hay.
On our way back to Bonners Ferry, a bunch of cows were having their dinner in an enclosure next to the road.  And, cows do put on a good show when there’s a camera around.
We topped off our break from work-related stuff with one of those delicious 25-cent ice cream cones at the Bonners Ferry Super 1. We stood in line behind my Selle neighbor Virginia Murray who had been enjoying some leisure time of her own.  

Those tasty, inexpensive cones are always a good way to punctuate any activity.

Another lovely day lies ahead, and I know not yet what the diversion from work will be, but I’m sure it will be fun.

Happy Sunday. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bounties of a Beautiful Spring Day in North Idaho

I’d call it a sumptuous Spring Smorgasboard----a day filled with so many glorious sights and sounds that I found it difficult to choose which was best.

From start to finish, yesterday seemed like the world around was exploding with high-octane eye candy.  

Thanks to warm sunshine, spring blossoms unlike I’ve ever seen and an opportunity to go to a place where virtually every view in a 360-degree rotation offered yet another OMG, yesterday ranked right up there at one of the best of the best.

We have a plum tree that this year has burst out with thousands of blossoms and held them for several days. Every time I walk outside the garage, I’m mesmerized by that tree.  And, now another fruit tree over to the west of the house is following suit.

So, of course, grabbing an image of a horse standing within range of all those blossoms shouts out, “Hey, folks, spring has sprung!”

This is the most unusual, most beautiful spring I can remember in a long time.  

We may never have another of this magnitude in my lifetime----with lettuce taking off in a pot on the front porch, most trees leafing out a few weeks early and lawn already in need of its second mowing on Paul Revere’s ride day.  Wow!

Then, a trip up to Bonners Ferry to a place where Bill and a crew of Hondurans have been planting trees this week brought out more dramatically how far ahead we are in the weather timetable.  

Bill stopped the pickup and let me out on an expansive ledge overlooking the Kootenai Valley.  I would take photos while he gathered up tree-planting items on a hillside above.

With a few hours left of tree planting, scheduled for this morning, he wanted the materials in order for today’s work.  

So, he did his work and I walked the ledge and up the hillside, snapping photos, all the time marveling at the grand beauty of it all and pinching myself that I could stand in this place to admire the surroundings.

With the trees, surrounded by tubes of protective webbing, the hillsides have taken on the look of a mountainside cemetery.  

But there’s new life within each of those webbed monuments---thousands of seedlings and probably when I’m snoozing away in a cemetery somewhere, tall trees will stand overlooking the Kootenai River and its fertile farmland.

Twas a wonderful way to spend a rather warm spring afternoon, and I must say that the feel of some of those hillsides with southern exposure reminded me more of July than April 17.

“We’ll probably have rain all through May and June,” my sister said later as we were headed for Friday night dinner.

Could be, and it could be that what we’re experiencing right now will be but a lovely memory if those rains come.  

For now, we’re making the most of it, as the outside environment these days is pretty darned impressive and inviting.

Happy Saturday.  Enjoy the sun and this lovely spring. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Field Trips

The doggies and I have been taking a lot of trips to the hay field lately.  

The 2-acre rolling field west of the house is turning a rich green. 

Though there's standing water in some corners and in the swale that runs through it from northeast to southwest, the dry areas allow plenty of room for walking and thinking (that's me) and sniffing the ground, racing full speed ahead or just resting on a hilltop watching other dogs and people (that's the dogs). 

On my walks around and across the field, I'm usually just enjoying the fresh air, the sounds of various birds or watching the deer grazing in the next field over.  

At this time of the year, I also see work to be done----tightening fence wire along the edges of the field or evidence in the form of last year's horse piles or above-ground gopher dirt deposits which means harrowing.

Well, this morning when I take my walk, the need for harrowing will be eliminated.  Last night I hitched up the harrow to the 4-wheeler and spent about an hour going round and round the field.  

Someone spent that same hour going round and round the field, safely away but close enough to keep an eye on Mom as she worked.  

Yes, no matter what work I happen to be doing outside, I can scan the area around me and see little Foster keeping close track of my every move.

Loyal dogs, they say when talking about Aussies.  

So true.

Those rounds and rounds with the harrow on my evening field trip knocked down the gopher dirt mounds, spread 'em out and did the same for those horse piles.  Spread the apples and fertilize the ground.  Harrowing also loosens the soil a bit, allowing it to breathe better. Plus, spreading out those piles keeps grass from being smothered all spring and summer.

For me personally, harrowing and brush hogging give me a true sense of farming.  We don't do much real farming on our place, but these opportunities at least allow me to play the part.  

My field trips will continue until hay reaches about six inches high.  From that point on, nobody but the wandering deer and mice and gophers will travel through the area. And, then in the fall after hay harvest, a whole new playground will open up once again. 

For now, I'm enjoying the extra area to keep in shape and to encourage exercise among the aging mutts.  Miss Kea has some stiff joints.  She's been taking supplements for those joints, and I noticed last night that she's moving a lot better these days. 

One of the great enjoyments of my daily field trips came yesterday when I heard the telltale knocking of a woodpecker at work.  While listening and trying to determine from whence it came, I looked over and discovered that this was not just another woodpecker.

This busy Woodie was the big bird with the red head.  I had only my cell phone camera with me, and once I moved close enough to snap a couple of shots, doggies showed up and Woodie left the stump and flew to an upper tree limb in a nearby tamarack, which is just budding out with its beautiful needles. 

Later, I came out with my Canon camera and no dogs, but Woodie had left to create a better dinner table elsewhere.  He had also left behind a a crop of wandering ants, which were probably enjoying the spring sunshine as much as I was. 

Nice field trips, to say the least. Just one more wonderful perk that goes along with living on a farm. 

Happy Friday.