Saturday, June 30, 2007

Stormy weather

My sister Laurie said she felt like she was in Oz as she watched stuff go flying by her living room window. About twenty-five miles away in the mountains, Bill and I felt like we were competing in "The Amazing Race," one of those couples caught in the ultimate death-defying challenge.

As I read this morning's paper, I'm sure there were thousands of others in this area who wondered if the sky was falling in for a brief period late yesterday afternoon. The sky may still be up there, intact, but there's sure a lot of debris scattered across the earth this morning, reminding us once more who's calling the shots---and it's not us.

This bizarre introduction to the new decade of the 60s has illustrated clearly for me--more than ever--that we're all pawns of fate. What's meant to be will happen, no matter how much we will otherwise. Bill, Kiwi and I left ourselves in the hands of fate yesterday at Boulder Meadows, a place in the mountains northeast of Sandpoint, a spot I hadn't visited for more than 35 years.

In fact, the first and last time I had beheld the beauty of the place off Twenty Mile road north of Naples, occurred on the back of a horse. That was 1971, if I've gaged right, and it was with a group of Gold n' Grouse 4-H'ers and their families on an overnight trail ride. Dan Lund, one of my favorite early students, had invited me along. His mom Ruby was the camp cook, and I'm sure there were several Wood family members along. We set off from the McNall Ranch at Grouse Creek that Saturday morning and spent the night camping in the meadows along Boulder Creek.

I thought those meadows were about as pretty a place as I'd ever seen. So, when Bill told me Thursday night he was headed there the next day, I told him I wanted to go along. Of course, he had ulterior motives---a geocache to place and an opportunity to prove to Tom Johnson that there were, indeed, fish in Boulder Creek. He told me yesterday morning to go to town and get my license, so I did. We took off about 1:30, with Kiwi, fishing poles, geocache container, bikes and snacks. It was going to be a great getaway after the sad events of the week.

We drove to a place where the bridge is closed due to the cave-in of huge holes where earth once provided the pathway. A couple of horse rigs were parked next to the Forest Service john. After parking and loading our gear onto the bikes, we crossed the bridge and set off down the road. It was just over a mile to the meadows, which surprised me. I had expected a longer biking trip. The meadows are set up very nicely for trail riders with lots of well-constructed hitching posts, fire pits and another john.

They're also as pretty as I had remembered them so long ago, so lush, so green, so peaceful. We decided to continue with our bikes along the trail through the meadows that led to the creek itself. Biking wasn't too much fun because of the boards inserted for erosion control, so we ditched our bikes and walked on to the creek.

On the first cast from his fly rod, Bill caught a lunker---almost 2 inches. On my first cast from my spinning rod, I beat him by an inch. One of Bill's goals had been reached; Tom Johnson would know that the creek does have fish.

Bill kept talking about where he wanted to put the geocache, but the desire to fish upstream kept him too occupied to worry about it for too long. He showed me some holes where I might just catch another lunker. With Kiwi watching every move in her dutiful herd-dog manner, I'd throw my line toward the appointed holes. Most of the time, I caught limbs, not fish, and spent most of my time getting unstuck.

Bill had wading boots; I had my hiking shoes. By the time that first black cloud came over the ridge, I was wet up to my knees from walking in the creek. Seeing the cloud, Bill, the consummate fisherman, surprised me when he said we ought to start back because of the storm coming in. By the time we gathered our gear and headed back to the trail, the entire sky had turned dark gray. More dark clouds were billowing in. An ominous wind started, then the pelting rain, then the distant thunder.

I thought the trail back to where we'd ditched our bikes seemed a lot longer than it had going the other way. I almost walked past my bike in my hurry to get to safety. It took Bill a seemingly interminable time to attach his wading boots, fishing poles and other gear to his bike. By this time, the rain was coming down in torrents and the wind was blowing with increased gusto. We jumped on the bikes and pedaled like mad to the hitching post area. Bill suggested that we could wait out the storm in the john and that maybe he would not put out his cache on this day.

The john somehow didn't seem like a good idea but forgetting the cache deposit did. We biked on through the heavy rain. That's when the lightning started striking, and that's when I figured that whatever happened to us would happen. This week had been that way, so pedaling with all my might, I moved that bike on down and up the road like I hadn't done in a long time.

Hills seem like nothing when you're on an escape mission. Bring 'em on, and bring on that pickup where we could, at least, get inside and be safe from the storm. Wet to the gills by the time we reached the pickup, I wasted no time putting my bike in the back, running to the john and racing back to try to dry off in the cab.

We brought no coats, so we had to deal with wet bodies. In Bill's case, it wasn't so bad because he was wearing shorts and had changed from his wet waders to his hikers. In my case, I could change my socks and shoes into the pair of Crocs Willie and Debbie gave me for my birthday, but those wet, heavy jeans offered no relief. Kiwi had a towel in the back seat, allowing her to dry off a bit.

Feeling secure and grabbing some munchies, Bill said something about our great adventure and how much fun we'd had. I agreed. We had beat the odds, and now we could drive safely home out of this "isolated" mountain storm and live to tell others about our scary time up there in Boulder Creek. Well, at least, we thought it was going to turn out that way.

It was just after we followed the bull moose down the road, that we realized the adventure had just begun. As the moose headed up a hillside, I heard Bill say, "Oh, no!" I looked ahead to see a clump of three trees downed completely across the road in front of us. This was about 7 p.m.

I did not know that Bill had brought the chainsaw with him, but he did not know if he had any extra gas. Nonetheless, he started sawing. Within seconds he looked up the hillside to see another tree come down, fortunately far enough away from the road to avoid any further problems.

As he worked on, I called my sisters. I thought it a bit strange that their land-line answering machine didn't kick on when there was no answer. Finally, I reached Barbara on her cell phone, a very choppy Barbara.
Eventually she called back, and I told her that if we didn't call within an hour or so to announce our arrival home, we were stuck up on 20 Mile Road behind some trees. This was about the time Bill's chainsaw got stuck in one of the trees. I wasn't too concerned but wanted someone to know where we were just in case. That's when Barbara told me they'd lost stuff off their house and lots of treetops at their Colburn ranch. They were on their way to our house to check on Lily.

Barbara called back a minute or so later to report that our mountain ash tree in the front yard was now a three-foot skinny stump, our chase lounges were all over the back yard and part of the lumber pile had blown across the yard. Lily was fine----thank goodness.

The hour I had predicted for our return to the Lovestead less than 30 miles away turned into two and one-half as we encountered half a dozen more trees to cut. Bill got his saw stuck twice during our 20-Mile Road logging adventure, but he did discover that he had brought along extra gas, so we sawed our way out to safety and a seemingly smooth trip home. Things started looking a lot better as we marveled at the small elk herds basking in the post-storm sunshine in two or three hillside openings along the way.

When we hit HWY 95, we figured we were home free. Not so. At McArthur Reservoir, the accident flares started lining the side of the road. There had been no accident, but the sheriff's deputy was letting travelers know they'd be sitting for a while on the road ahead while crews removed fallen trees from power lines up near Samuels. At least a dozen cars were parked near McArthur, and the Schwan's ice cream man was doing a great business from his truck.

We eventually moved on down the highway to the end of the line of vehicles that extended for at least a couple of miles. After fifteen minutes of waiting, we turned out of our spot, drove back to Elmira and turned east off on the road that passes several Christmas tree farms. It's an awful road, a dusty one too, but it took us clear through to Samuels Road.

We arrived home around 10:15 p.m. with no lights and no phone. I wasted no time removing my wet clothes in the dark bathroom but must say they certainly weren't very cooperative in the separating-from-cold-wet skin process. With dry clothes, I started the great June body thaw.

After making sure all animals were safely where they belonged and while listening to the first of the Fourth of July neighborhood fireworks shows, we enjoyed a sundae with fresh strawberries picked from the garden just the day before. Then, it was off to bed.

Today, we're figuring we were pretty lucky, and today we've got a job ahead to clean up the aftermath of this storm of all storms. And, I'm confident Bill's probably plotting just how he's ever gonna get that cache planted Boulder Meadows.

Five days into turning 60, I'm wondering what comes next.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Gonna make some hay

It's so thick I almost fell down while walking through it the other day. Pasture No. 3 was seeded into a mixture of grass hay and some clover a couple of years ago when the Stewarts still owned this place. When we arrived last July 1, the grass was pretty deep but nothing like what we've seen this year. We figure the goats had had a chance to graze it, and, besides, it was in the seeding's year.

Last fall I harrowed the field to flatten out the piles of alfalfa the Stewarts scattered around the place for whatever reason. Later, Bill hooked up the brush hog on the old Ford, and I spent several fall days trimming the tall, dead grass from each pasture. That manicure job must have done the trick for Pasture No. 3 because this year's crop is so thick it's like a jungle.

Now, with just one horse, we really have no need for it to be used as a pasture, so I called Doug Stockdale last night. I figured his haying equipment was small enough to go through our gates and that he might be interested in harvesting the field and the Ponderosa pasture next to it for stumpage. He came right over, looked at the grass and said he sure would be interested.

So, we're actually going to harvest a crop here at the Lovestead. It will be interesting to see what it yields, and we certainly hope it's worth Doug's time to bring his equipment over in the next few days. There's a certain amount of excitement in knowing that we have something growing here that's going to do someone some good. I think that we'll do the haying deal on shares. I told Doug whatever worked for him was fine with me.

I've been staying away from haying and hayfields as much as possible the past few years---have been content to write a check, open the gates and visit while Harvey and his crew stack up the winter's supply. This year, however, there may be something a bit more satisfying in bucking those bales (that is, if Doug doesn't stack them for us). I may not mind the sweat, knowing it's hay from our own place.

Besides, there's nothing in summer that beats the fragrance of newly-mown hay and to know it's Lovestead Naturals hay will make the aroma all the more pleasing.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Takin' care of business

Willie and I learned just yesterday that we'll be teaming up for a book event Saturday, Aug. 11 (Willie and Debbie's sixth anniversary) at 2 p.m. at the new Borders Bookstore in the Boise Town Mall. We may have a couple of other events over the next three days also, but this one is firm. So, in a "taking care of business" mode this morning, I'm asking all Boise-ites to spread the word. We'd love to see you there.

I know we'll do something mother-and-sonish for our program, and I feel secure that Willie will do his assignment this time. It should be a fun gig, and it's one part of the next few weeks of book promotions. I'll also be doing a reading at the Bonner County Centennial Celebration at the fairgrounds Saturday, July 21, probably late morning. There's a signing at Hastings Books in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday, July 28 at 2 p.m., and I'll be reading and signing at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Thanks go to Amie Wolf from Keokee who has been meticulously setting up all these events. Once we get the Boise events set up, we'll probably work on some activities in the Seattle area, maybe following the Auntie's reading. So, of course, as any author who wants to sell books would do, I'll keep passing the word and hoping kind folks will do the same.

In other news, I'm noticing that the class reunion activities have meant a significant bump in participants. This morning the head count was just three shy of 800. So, it would be nice to see the site surpass another milestone here in the next couple of days. The organizers have added a new feature, citing every time someone updates a profile, so there's usually something new any time you visit the site.

Again, pass the word. The site is well done and is proving to be more interesting and effective in reconnecting people. Two days ago, I received a letter out of the blue from Karren Williams, Class of 1977, who has earned a doctorate and has done post-doctorate work. She works in pharmaceuticals on the East Coast.

Karren was a Ponderette and one time forgot her part in a "Hogan's Heroes" drill. I guess it has stuck with her all these years. Funny how we all have those moments in life that we never seem to erase. Anyway, Karren represents another outstanding success for Sandpoint High grads, and the website presents a great venue for showcasing all realms of success among our alums.

Finally, I received a note yesterday from a lady I interviewed a few years ago for the Appaloosa Journal. She conceived and runs a wonderful program in West Philadelphia called "Work to Ride." Basically, she rescues kids from gang-infested settings, puts them to work at a horse stable and teaches them the sport of polo. They compete up and down the East Coast. Lezlie Hiner has done amazing things with these kids.

Her program has been featured on HBO and will receive additional recognition on NBC's "Today" show during the week of July 2. Additional information about the program and updates on the exact time of the Today showing can be found at the WorktoRide website: (

Guess that's all the business stuff for today. Happy Thursday, and Happy late birthday to Erik Daarstad who's latest cinematic work about the medical teams working to save lives of war casualties in Iraq will show at the Panida this weekend. I've heard this is a riveting and emotional film.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer therapy

We tried to make the best of a bad situation yesterday. As a result, we're on the mend. With Casey and Rambo finally side by side again, the family moved on. Bill went back to work. Willie finished a feature story for his paper. I got back to watering my gardens, and Annie looked forward to attending a Mariners' game in Seattle last night, which they won, by the way.

Thanks so much to everyone and their poignant thoughts expressed about this situation that happened all too soon after Rambo's loss. It's a bizarre, inexplicable chain of events, but we still cling to the notion expressed by several friends and family. Casey missed Rambo, and now they're together in horse Heaven along with a wise old horseman named Harold who's happily caring for them.

The day got better as Willie and I took a trip to Hope, had a good lunch at the Hope Hotel and enjoyed talking to a few friends. Then, we drove on to the Pantry in Clark Fork and picked up some fresh bread and pieces of pecan pie.

Back at home, Willie relaxed while I worked at various projects, including pulling some young beets and their greens for dinner. My neighbor Geneva Meserve told me they're mighty good if steamed and then smothered in salt, pepper and butter. I agree. The beets joined some tasty barbecued chicken breasts (basted in Stubbs Moppin' sauce, of course) and tri-tip steaks. Bill had his usual touch at the grill, and the meat was mouth-wateringly delicious.

I also picked strawberries yesterday, but they went in the freezer in favor of those pieces of pecan pie and ice cream, which got downed during the Mariners' game. Annie sent Willie a phone picture from her perch at the stadium, and Willie retaliated with a phone photo from his perch on the Lovestead couch. Annie said her perch was better. The brotherly-sisterly banter was refreshing after the previous day's events.

It's a new day today, but the fields do seem pretty empty with that lone and lonely Lily out there grazing, wondering where her two buddies went. This emptiness will surely ache for all of us for some time, but life moves on, and that's precisely what we'll be doing. Soon, we'll be taking Lily back and forth to Barbara and Laurie's for horse show preparation. We may talk to my sisters about bringing one of their horses over to keep her company.

Events like this seem so cruel, but they're all part of the grand scheme for us who always must be reminded that we're not in control. They also remind us never to take anyone or anything for granted. A lesson that needs lots of reminders during this life.

I do not take any of the people who've called or have sent such kind, heartfelt thoughts for granted, and I thank you all once more. Your words have sustained us through a tough time, and they are deeply appreciated.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Casey RIP

Abu Casino aka Casey aka "Baby Horse"

May, 1990 ~~ June 2007


Who's to know how or why these things happen, but they do. The old cliche resurfaces every time: when you live on a farm and love animals, prepare for tears.

As Annie said, Casey has now joined his friend Rambo. He missed the old boy so much. God knows, we Loves are heart-broken once more and will miss two wonderful and loyal friends, two members of the family.

About Casey:

Casey came to us at two months of age. Our friend Judy Trenholm called up one day and wondered if I knew anyone, maybe a 4-H'er who might want a young colt. A friend had borrowed her mare Tangerine and bred her to Helen Thompson's stallion Abu. The result was a flashy purebred Arabian colt---chestnut, three white socks and a strip.

I said I didn't know any 4-H'ers offhand but knew a daughter named Annie who might want a horse. After getting clearance from the local veterinarian, Jeff Warren, that it was okay to take the young guy off his mother. Rambo raised Casey, and the respect "Baby Horse" showed to Rambo right up until Rambo's last day was undying. We showed Casey that first fall at the Bonner County Fair Show, where he won grand champion Arabian stallion over a mature horse.

My sister Barbara trained Casey. One day Saskia and Talitha Neher rode their horses by our place and stopped in for a visit. I suggested that Annie go with them for her first trip down the road with Casey. I watched them all the way down Great Northern and noticed that they didn't go any further than the railroad crossing. Thinking it was a bit strange, I went out on the road and could see a gathering of people and horses down at the crossing.

Both of Casey's small newly shod front hooves had mysteriously slipped into the gap between the rail and the railroad tie. He was stuck in the crossing. Annie was in tears. Our neighborts, Karen Feist and Chris Chambers came to her aid, removing the saddle and calming Casey. Karen ran inside and called the railroad office and asked them to stop the trains because a horse was stuck in the crossing. The railroad people said they didn't stop trains for animals. Karen responded with "Well, there will be a 15-year-old girl with that horse." They stopped the trains for Casey and Annie.

In the meantime, railroad workers came with huge crowbars, and Dr. Don McCormick drove from the other side of Kootenai. By this time, bales of hay had been placed below Casey, who kept his cool the entire time and just stood there quivering with controlled fear. As the men worked to pry the rail to allow more space, Dr. McCormick sedated Casey. Then, the railroad men used a large crowbar to free each of his hooves. My dad, an old horseman who was one of the finest and most knowledgeable we've ever known, sat in his pickup and watched. When Casey was free and loaded into my sister's horse trailer to go back home, Harold said,
"The horse is worth his weight in gold."

How true a statement was ever uttered. Casey was worth his weight in gold.

He was our guard horse who chased all strange dogs and people from the pasture. He was Bill's horse for the trail rides. He was a perfect horse for Bill whose previous experience one night with Sassy, the Appaloosa mare, of bailing off in the fairgrounds ditch just before the Boyer stop sign, had sent him to Dr. Marienau's office to inspect the huge bruises on his rear end. Casey never sent Bill to the doctor. Casey always took care of Bill on our trail rides.

Casey amazed a host of people last fall when he pulled the Amish cart for the first time. Monte, the trainer, had expected Amish kindling. He was amazed at Casey's willingness and eagerness to please. On that first round, Casey took at least half a dozen people for a spin around my sisters' indoor arena. While watching, Karlin McBirney marveled and said, "Are you sure that horse has never pulled a cart before?"

Casey had problems with foundering, and one day while we were in Southern Idaho for Willie's graduation from BSU, we received a call from our good friend Connie who always watched the animals when we were gone. She was concerned about Casey's eye. Sure enough, Casey had cancer of the eye. Dr. Chuck Aston performed surgery, removing the third eyelid, and the cancer was all extracted.

Last fall I noticed Casey had a small growth on his eyelid. Dr. Cherise Neu came to diagnose him. It turned out to be the other eye, which was again cancerous. She and her assistant Kate Neu performed surgery in the barn. The results came back, but it looked as if she'd gotten it all.

I drove Casey around the yard a few weeks ago with just the harness. We had hoped to hook up the cart and start him out down South Center Valley Road, but Lily protested too much, racing around the pen. So, we decided to figure out a Plan B where Lily could be somewhere with other horses while we did some cartwork with Casey.

I rode Casey two weeks ago while ponying Lily for the first time. We just rode around the barnyard pen, and Lily caught on to the idea of having someone sit on another horse and lead her around. Casey got a little annoyed at our new Appaloosa "terrible two year old who thinks she's a queen," but in his perennial Casey way, he put up with her and did what I asked him to do.

Casey, from Day One, was eager to please. Never have I known a horse or friend who would work so hard for my approval. Never have any of us ever felt anything but deep love and affection for our "Baby Horse."

Casey was down yesterday morning. It was obvious he had colic or some sort of internal distress. We all felt pretty confident that it was a mild case of colic which would soon pass. Cherise assured me, after having been here last month with Rambo, that this one was going to be okay. Casey and I walked about ten miles around that barnyard pasture yesterday. My sisters walked with Casey, as did Bill. He never got over the distress. We treated him with sedatives throughout the day, and Cherise inserted a tube to provide some relief from what was probably a blockage or a twisted intestine.

Casey was a trooper until the end, as he'd been every day of his life.

Casey will be buried next to his best friend Rambo in the God Tree pasture. On Sunday, we had my birthday celebration a day early. One of the presents came from Bill. It was a granite monument for Rambo's grave. Bill took it down to the pasture Sunday evening and set it up.

Yesterday's birthday flowers from friends and relatives will make up a nice garden next to our barn where every day we can be reminded of the two wonderful boys who gave us so much joy every time we walked outside our house.

And, from now until eternity, Casey and Rambo can sleep in peace side by side beneath the wildflowers and grass in the shadow of the God Tree.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Simple and sweet: critters come first

I will not forget my 60th birthday, but it hasn't gotten off exactly as planned. Got a sick horse, but things are looking better. Casey either has colic or a liver ailment, possibly from a weird weed. Cherise will call back later with blood test results. In the meantime, Casey is a bit more comfortable than he was earlier this morning.

I'll be keeping close track of him throughout the day. I'm thankful for a husband who took the day off to go pick up Willie at the airport, to my two sisters who have spent the better part of the morning here, to Cherise, my wonderful vet; to Boots who was going to take me to lunch today and to all my friends who've sent messages wishing me a happy day. A special note to the latte guardian angel in Oregon. You are something else.

More later . . . . back to Casey.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Biking before blogging

I finished the two Sunday papers and decided to depart from my usual routine of putting the papers neatly in a pile, grabbing my coffee cup and heading upstairs to do the blog. Having eaten that tempting piece of Second Avenue pizza after a dinner with two desserts followed by one of those huge caloric Appaloosa cookies, the gluttony guilt was getting to me. (I've noticed this is turning out to be a very alliterative morning).

Anyway, I decided a Sunday morning bike ride would take care of the guilt and infuse the brain with some fresh thoughts. Walking to the kitchen, I put down my coffee cup and picked up the Seattle Mariners fleece jacket Annie had brought me for my birthday. I love the jacket cuz it not only fits but it does so in a pleasantly slimming fashion. Besides, it's perfect for bike riding, and, of course, wearing to those Mariners games Annie's plotting out for us sometime this summer.

The bike ride sufficiently soffonsified (still haven't figured out how to spell that) my needs. What bike ride on a pleasant summer morning wouldn't. Along the route, I mentally chronicled animal tidbits---Gary Finney's highly independent Jack Russell trotting down the road, minding only his own business; the Filipowski's Border Collie Joe sporting less hair but good health at the Filipowski barn. I'd heard that Joe went through some serious medical issues last week, and that plenty of tears were shed before Joe bounced back to health. He was looking pretty sprite this morning.

Jack's Hereford herd was enjoying some early morning R and R from supplying their cuds in one of Eva Whitehead's fields. Eva's barn went down last week, by the way. A demolition crew spent several days dismantling the old, old structure which was slowly disintegrating on its own. I can't imagine the emotion that must have been for Eva to watch a symbol of her long life on that farm disappear.

Eva makes me mad. She can get a garden going faster than anyone I've ever known. She put her potatoes, peas, and petunias (more alliteration for you) in the ground about the first week in May. Those potatoes are already knee high and growing. Of course, Eva's been gardening that spot for a lot more years than most of us have been able to walk. So, I'm sure she's found the secret to composting and all the good stuff that makes gardens grow. My goal is to someday figure out just a portion of her gardening knowledge.

As I rode past Eva's, I saw one neighbor out on his deck in the morning sun, drinking coffee and reading his paper---he's the one with the Australian Shepherd that chases cars, only if the family isn't home and only if the car is headed north. Otherwise, the mutt spends its time at home acting as innocent as can be. I've learned to just keep on going when I see that dog waiting for me; to do a sudden stop could mean trouble for drivers and dogs.

As I turned around at the north end of South Center Valley Road, I took time to look closely at the makeshift memorial attached to Del Bader's fence. That's the spot where Holly Peterson died much too young a few years ago. Loose gravel, speed and no seatbelt contributed to this tragedy. Her memorial serves as a reminder to anyone going down that road to slow down and make sure the seatbelt is doing its job.

The flower wreaths are fading, but the messages are encased in plastic for passersby to read for who knows how long . A pair of tennis shoes and several stuffed animals hang from top to bottom on the monument, and one note clearly states: Holly, we love you---Always and forever. There's a barn at the fairground serving as another reminder of Holly's vibrant life cut short. She was 13.

After studying the monument, I headed south toward home, unwittingly disturbing a bunch of birds hiding in the ditch along the Watson place where just last Sunday we met Jesse and Ruth walking their goats and dogs. Jack's Hereford mamas, papa and babies were still resting and chewing on my return trip. Further on, a deer was getting its morning exercise bounding through one of Filipowski's fields. Its tall white tail was weaving back and forth like windshield wipers. The deer eventually headed up the mountain and disappeared from view.

I loved my morning ride, and it took care of all that gluttony guilt. I guess I'm gonna have to do that more often. Another little country adventure good for the Sunday morning soul.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday Slight

It's downhill from here. Darn. Those days will get shorter now, and winter's just six months away. Why am I talking about such things? Enough reminders of dark times. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and time for the Saturday Slight.

Yesterday I dealt with the subject of taped up noses and styrofoam eye goggles. Today I must touch on broken dishes, lots of them. That's what we did last night over Priest River way. I did a nice job on a cup. When I flung it at that big rock, it shattered in several dozen tiny pieces. That was good. Other people were throwing plates and smashing them to smithereens. It was a wild party, to say the least.

The police didn't come, though, although we did have a marine deputy there. He even threw a couple of plates, although, as I recall, he had to throw two or three times before they broke. In all, I'd say a couple of dozen plates and maybe a dozen cups were destroyed during the 15-minute free-for-all. It got a little dangerous at times cuz while some revelers were picking their dishes out of the residue, others were throwing theirs at the rocks. Nobody got hurt, though, and today's bride and groom will have a lot of luck.

It's an old German tradition to gather up dishes and break them the night before a wedding. The more pieces of broken plates and cups in the pile, the better the luck for the couple. So, everyone made doubly sure last night that they didn't stop flinging until all designated dishes had reached the smithereen state.

Dan Raiha is getting married this afternoon, and it's for sure he and Tina will have lots of luck. His family and close friends saw to that at a fun party last night at "Dan's Place." It says that on the cedar log at his driveway entrance. We had a great time reconnecting with Raiha family members and meeting members of Tina's family.

We returned to Sandpoint just about the same time that Annie was driving in from Seattle. Bill and I hadn't had any dinner, so I paid my first visit to The Point and bought a couple of cheeseburgers. It was a 15-minute wait but worth the time for the burger. I don't usually eat onions on my burger, but last night's version was too good to pick apart. That might have something to do with the fact that it was a midnight snack/supper.

Today is Miss Kiwi's second birthday. She's had two doggie biscuits for her early morning celebration and will, no doubt, get a few more as the day goes on. We love her as much or more than the first day we laid eyes on her at the Bonner County Fair. It's possible we may get another Border Collie later this year cuz Kiwi's former family are considering raising one more batch from Sam, Kiwi's mother. There's just something about a Border Collie that's hard to resist.

Yesterday, Bill brought a host of forestry-oriented folks to the Lovestead who'd enrolled in a class about whitepine tree care. About 3 p.m. the rigs started arriving. They filled up the entire driveway, and then I filled them up with some of my Appaloosa cookies---those are the ones with chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips. They did a little tree pruning and then went on their way.

I still haven't heard if Chad Moore captured his honey bees. Geneva Meserve from next door called up and wanted to know his name and how to call him. They had just returned from several days at Lake Koocanusa and found two swarms of Chad's bees having a good time in their yard. I don't know how you go lassoo a swarm of bees and take them back home to their hives, but I'm sure beekeepers have found their ways.

It's been a busy week and looks like more crazy days ahead, but lots of memories are brewing in the pot, and that's okay with me. Happy Saturday to all.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bless me, Father, for I have spread an epidemic

Posted by Picasa
This is a longtime friend of mine, and I'm feeling bad for her as well as the group (4 Pats and a Diane) pictured below.
Lord, I have done a bad thing by sharing with the world my "stupid teacher trick." As seen in the picture above and the one below, these people are yet novices at the fine art of taping up their noses and inserting self-styled styrofoam shades into their eye sockets, but the fact that they are even doing it and allowing evidence of such behavior troubles me greatly.
What will happen if this scourge spreads beyond a "Lessons with Love" book party?
How unsettling it is for me to conceive the thought of going to the Fourth of July Parade in downtown Sandpoint and seeing an entire precision group of nose tapers, marching down the streets between Bert Wilkinson's storage units and the Litehouse Dressing trucks!
The thought of such a sight has already dumped at least a ton of solidified Catholic guilt upon my already tarnished soul.
And to think this group, along with others, might try this behavior outside their homes where their styrofoam cups could leave the sockets, fall to the streets and litter the fair streets of Sandpoint, much like my horses have done in the past.
I feel such remorse that I have shared this fetish of mine with any impressionable minds who may read my book and get ideas---much like these Catholic friends of mine have done.
Oh, Lord, please forgive me. I'll say ten "Hail Mary's," forty-five "Our Father's," an "Apostle's Creed," and even a '50s rendition of the "Act of Contrition," if you could be so kind to extend your forgiveness.
I don't know how to stop this dysfunctional behavior once it spreads throughout the world, but I promise you, Lord, I'll stand as an example by never purchasing another tape dispenser or bag of styrofoam cups again.
I do feel pity for these women and will suggest that they join some 12-step program where they can rid themselves of all future temptations to behave so strangely.
In the meantime, where's the tape. I just can't help myself!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Faces from a fun week

Posted by Picasa
Well, the blogger gods are mad this morning, so they're eating up my photos. Not all postings are appearing, so maybe I'll come back later. These photos represent some of the fun folks and critters I've come across in the past week.
Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Where's my mocha?

I just sent the following message to Nestles, maker of the Coffee-Mate Latte Creations Mocha.

For the past month, I've gone to every grocery store in our area looking for Coffee-Mate Latte Creations--Mocha flavor. All I ever find is vanilla. Have you discontinued the mocha flavor? This is the best latte flavor I've ever tried.

I've liked it so much, in fact, that for the past year or so, I always buy ahead, making sure I have at least four or five containers in my own grocery stock. I'm now down to my very last Coffee-Mate mocha latte creation and am hoping that there's some way I can still get more in the future. Please let me know what's going on. I hate it when I find a product very much to my liking, only to have it discontinued.

Maybe there's good news from your corporation. If need be, I'd even order straight from you, just to ensure a continuation of my mocha supply. I've tried other brands, but nothing comes close to your mocha combination.

Thanks for responding--hopefully with good news about the mocha flavor. Marianne

I've griped enough around the house that Bill suggested writing to the website. That last container of mocha sits on the counter and reminds me every time I walk past it that dark days lie ahead if Nestles has discontinued my flavor. I never was a latte drinker until after I retired; now I'm addicted.

The latte moment is one of the great times of the day for me. I've finished the early-morning chores, have maybe vacuumed the house, and it's time for a break. My break from the work routine includes that mocha latte and a daily telephone visit with my mother. The latte just hits the spot because it's so smooth, not too sweet, not too flat.

As mentioned in the note to Nestles, I've tried other brands, with no satisfaction. In fact, there's a fleet of latte containers lined up on the counter near the coffee maker. All remain full except for the spoonful or two used for my taste test. This need to find a substitute is getting expensive, to say the least.

The same thing happened a couple of years ago when Litehouse had the audacity to change the recipe in their honey mustard dressing. I loved the original and have learned to like the most recent variation. In fact, my honey mustard addiction is a bit like my habits with the mocha lattes and the Meadowbrook French vanilla ice cream. Buy up. Stock up, cuz ya never know when they're going to discontinue.

The only problem comes when you get to that "last" container. Now that I'm there with the mocha, I'm being real careful to save what's left for special occasions when I really need a fix of the "real stuff."

This probably sounds pretty crazy to most folks out there, but a favorite latte, ice cream or honey mustard flavor ranks right in there with one's favorite pair of jeans or comfortable shoes. Access to any means all is right with the world, and when they're no longer available, something's definitely missing and life just gets out of synch.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Nestles will make my day and tell me they've got a storehouse full of those mocha creations just waiting for some nut like me to order a big supply. Till then, I'll keep experimenting. I'm thinking that if I buy the vanilla creation and get a big jug of chocolate syrup or Nestle's Quik to mix in, maybe that will replicate the flavor I've grown to love so much.

Stay tuned.

June 20, 2007

Dear Ms. Love,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about NestlĂ©® Coffee-mate® Latte Creations Mocha. We welcome questions and comments from loyal consumers such as yourself and appreciate this opportunity to assist you.

The product you are requesting has been discontinued and is no longer being produced by our company. The average sales volume across the country was not great enough to justify space on the retailer's shelves. We regret your disappointment and encourage you to try another product from our family of fine foods.

At Nestlé, we are dedicated to you and your family throughout every phase of your lives. Your feedback is valuable to us, as it helps us to improve our products and services. We will report your comments to our Marketing personnel.

We appreciate your interest in our products and hope you will visit our website often for the latest information on our products and promotions.

Annmarie Kratz
Consumer Response Representative

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

By way or my way---think ferries.

I received a letter from a Sandpoint High grad today asking how the "bypass" was coming. I did not laugh out loud because I respect her and I think she was asking a serious question as a person who doesn't live here. She hasn't driven through Sandpoint for a couple of years, and she knew about the Lakeside Motel going down in preparation for the "byway," as the PC clinicians would have me refer to it.

I think she worried about hitting a nerve after reading my response, which said things about "now pushing 60 years of debate," "road rage," etc. So, I reassured her that I'm patient, like everyone else, except for those times when I get stuck in those gawd-awful traffic jams on summer days. That's when I think about byway opponents and wonder if they ever drive their cars through Sandpoint at the same time all the rest of us dumb saps do.

I've often said that all byway opponents ought to publicly demonstrate the true passion of their convictions by willingly taking a trip from the south end of the Bridge to Kootenai every single summer day from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Once they've done this for a complete summer, if they still feel the byway is a stupid idea, then the rest of us will take them seriously.

I also suggested to this morning's email writer that the likelihood of any alternative route ever coming to fruition during our lifetimes is pretty minimal, especially when you consider what land is selling for in these parts these days.

How many downtown folks are going to give away their high-priced city real estate to build the tunnel under Sandpoint? How many folks at or near Dover Bay do ya spose will offer the State a discount on acreage destined for an alternative route? Once things get popping out there at the Idaho Club's Jack Nicklaus residential golf course east of Sandpoint, I'm sure land values anywhere within a 15-mile perimeter of the facility will sky rocket.

Let's see. That leaves north-of-town properties to buy. Well, ya gotta get north of town to bypass the town, so that leaves the waters of Lake Pend Oreille or the air above us. I think helipads in strategic areas around the Sandpoint area might be even more cost restrictive for the general Joe's who have to get from Sagle to Kootenai to earn their keep.

So, I still believe the ferry system is the answer. It's got ambiance, and we all know how important that is in Sandpoint. Ferry transportation across beautiful Lake Pend Oreille or even the river will get folks to where they're going without all those gas fumes from cars and cows stinkin' up downtown Sandpoint. This option also gives the vehicle drivers and their passengers time for reflecting on the area's beauty, especially all those fancy second homes, owned by rich people, that continue to dot the mountainsides where trees once stood.

Best yet, during their waterway transport, the ferry passengers would also have a few moments to pick up the newspaper, sit back and read more articles about the byway, the tunnel, the gold-plated land for sale at Schweitzer or about the new-and-improved Hidden Lakes, turned Idaho Club, where everybody knows ya've gotta be rich through the roof to live and play.

Down with byways! Down with tunnels! GO FERRIES! Then, you could get to Bonner's Ferry a lot sooner. By the way, didn't Bonner's Ferry get a byway several years ago?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday miscellany

Today is the first day in several without a retirement, anniversary, birthday, wedding or Father's Day to celebrate, so I'm just going to celebrate Quiet Monday.

It seems like it's been a whirlwind since last
  • Thursday---teacher retirement party at my sister's house
  • Friday---conservancy meeting at Hope, then, anniversary dinner back at Hope (two trips to Hope in one days leads to an optimistic view and a pretty one)
  • Saturday: phenomenal country wedding at the Brackenbusch farm in Samuels
  • Sunday: Father's Day geocaching adventure to Dawson Ridge and Moyie Bridge overlook followed by grocery run at the Boundary Trader, which included Father's Day dinner purchase of fried chicken and potato salad from the deli.
So, today seems relatively quiet, but there's company comin', and it will keep coming through the Fourth of July, so my quiet is going to be short-lived and the roar of those lawnmowers will break the silence as soon as that grass bogged down from all that rain dries a bit.

I'm doing Monday miscellany today cuz I've got a lot of little tidbits on my mind this morning.

First, there's another Myra story. I heard from Myra on Friday---that would be Myra Converse. She made it clear who she was this time when she called to tell me she had another granddaughter, born last week. So, I must issue a congratulations to Brett and his lovely wife who are now parents of two girls. I'm sure it was a special Father's Day at the Converse house.

Then, there's another Myra story. This time it's Myra Lewis. I walked up to her at Ty and Keely's wedding Saturday night, just in time to hear her telling Rochelle Ruen about Marianne's "Myra" mixup in a recent blog posting. I'm glad that I've made such a mistake cuz it's getting a lot of mileage with both Myra's who are very careful to tell me precisely who they are these days.

Then, there's the Edgar Martinez story. That's the one Willie gets to write this week when the famed, now retired Seattle Mariner is honored as a new member of Boise's Humanitarian Hall of Fame. Willie got to talk to Edgar last week, and he gets to meet him this week, so it's another one of those great perks that come along with journalism. Willie also had an opportunity to golf at the new Tamarack Resort new McCall. He missed seeing Andre Agassiz and Stephie Graff by one day but did get to visit with the owner of the resort for about an hour. He said it was a pretty darned good gig, and the golfing was fun too.

I have to tell the goat story. Here we were on our outing yesterday looking for wildlife. Our sightings were limited to a couple of deer, but we did see some pretty tamelife walking down South Center Valley Road with people and dogs. That would be Rudy and Lily, the Watson's goats. Apparently, every so often Rudy and Lily, who live on the corner of Center Valley Road and South Center Valley Road, get a chance to leave their enclosure and go nibble leaves along the roadside. I must say that was a first. I know goats are friendly creatures, but seeing them ambling down the road with their family and without a care in the world was indeed a treat.

I also have to tell the food story. That one popped into mind as I was reading this morning's paper in the entertainment section about one more detective show which begins its new season tonight. Seems the female detective has an addiction to sweets, and she tries to hide her addiction by sneaking her sweets on the side when nobody knows.

This resurrected a memory of my days as a college senior when I went through a phase of sneaking my cans Franco American spaghetti and meatballs, always at times when my roommate Wanda was gone. Now, I've always been a food thief, even these days, and a sneaky one at that. It's just something that goes along with our childhood habit of robbing my mother's cupboard, her refrigerator, fruit room and freezer. Once you get into those habits, they're hard to break; besides, food tastes so much better when it's pilfered.

This Franco American spaghetti thing was pretty weird compared to the days of carefully fingering the chocolate frosting off the cakes or breaking off those cookie edges that keep a cookie from looking perfectly round. During my senior year, Franco American spaghetti binges took place on Friday afternoons, when Wanda was in class and just before I'd head home for the weekend. I always had to walk past Modern Way Food Store on my way to the apartment, so I'd pick up a can of spaghetti along the way, usually the mid-size can.

Once in the apartment, I'd get the can opener, crank off the top, grab a spoon, sit on the couch and down bite after bite of that spaghetti and meatballs, savoring every glob as it slid down my throat. This was not heated up, mind you. I liked it that way. Once the last bite was gone and every remaining drop of sauce was scooped from inside, the can got buried deep in the trash so Wanda wouldn't know. Soon, my ride to Sandpoint would come, and I'd head home satisfied with spaghetti and certainly a pound or two heavier for the weekend.

That was weird, for sure, but not quite as weird as what I learned later. I learned later that Wanda loved it when I went home for the weekend. She loved my absence cuz that meant she could stop by Modern Way, pick up a box of Hostess Ding Dongs, walk up the hill to an empty apartment, sit on the couch in peace, quiet and no guilt---and eat the whole box of Ding Dongs. Then, she'd stuff the wrappers and box in the trash, and Marianne would never know.

For some reason one day, the truth came out. We laughed ourselves silly, and since those days, I'm sure neither of us can look at a can of Franco American spaghetti or Hostess ding dongs (do they still make those) without thinking of our nutty roommate and laughing at our nutty selves.

Well, that's it for Monday Miscellany. Hope everyone has a great week. Go sneak some spaghetti and have a laugh on me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

To all fathers


nurture, lead by example, care, support and love

their children from Day One to Eternity

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday Slight

Today begins the wedding bells season. The summer invitations have been stacking up, and today's special occasion features Ty Oliver and Keely Kinzer, both former students. This wedding will take place at the family farm; from all reports it's a laid-back affair in keeping with the young couple's very down-to-earth manner. There will be foresters there, so Bill's looking forward to going, and I have a feeling most of the faces will be familiar.

We've got a wedding next week also. Bill plays his harmonica for that one, which involves our longtime family friends, the Raihas. Dan, the second of three Raiha children, will be marrying his fiancee Tina. Again, it promises to be a fun outside occasion alongside the Pend Oreille River. I think there's a break after that; then, I'll have to check the stack again so I don't forget which one comes next.

Our own wedding took place on a hot June day 33 years ago yesterday. We celebrated the third of a century milestone last night with a nice dinner at Hope's Dock of the Bay. Barney, Carol and the crew always put out a delectable meal; plus sitting and looking out onto the lake ain't bad either.

Before heading off for dinner, we hung around while Tony, the Craftsman fixer-upper extraordinaire, got our fleet all in good repair. A new engine for the red riding mower, which has behaved erratically of late until last week's final blow-out---that would be a rod blow-out which occurred directly after the clouds of blue smoke started billowing from the engine. When I saw the hole in the side of the engine and the piece of shrapnel that had released itself from the engine frame and kindly stayed under the hood, I was glad to be alive.

Tony also finished assembling the lawn groomer we bought about a month ago. Bill got the project started but couldn't figure out how to attach the bag that catches all the lawn garbage. Tony didn't think it was so easy either, but between the two of them, they figured it out. Finally, Tony changed the oil in the most recently purchased Craftsman riding tractor. Thanks to Tony, my lawnmowing woes should be on hold for a while.

My sisters recently purchased one of those Craftsman lawn groomers, had it assembled in-shop for a fee, brought it home, tried it out and instantly turned arrogant. Yesterday morning, while bringing back the potted plants and card tables they had borrowed for a teacher retirement party Thursday night, they inspected all lawns between the Tibbs house and the Love house, noting which ones really needed a lawn groomer. And, ours topped the list---especially with all those ground up Scotch pine comes and that windrow of grass clippings out there in front.

That will change quickly now that my own groomer is fully assembled. They won't have anything over on me in that department. Can't wait to get out there and clean up the grass---and finish that garden fence. My sisters just grinned when I pointed toward the fence; then, Laurie asked, "Is it going to stay up?" I can always count on the painful truth from my sisters.

The strawberries are starting to come on, and the deer don't really care---but the robins do. I've got netting, and the robins aren't happy. They keep congregating over there by the patch, and whenever they see me coming, they feign worm digging, as if I didn't know they're mad cuz they can't get at those berries.

They do have more promising potential with the cherry tree. I've gotten up on a ladder a few times, with a big long piece of plastic pipe and have managed to cover about two thirds of the cherry tree with three different parcels of netting. Is there an easy way to put netting on a tree without ripping half the cherries off the limbs? I think not, but will welcome all suggestions short of renting a hydraulic lift.

Well, with all that equipment begging for use, with that garden fence begging completion and with that fruit begging for human vigilance, I'd better get out of here and get some stuff done before those wedding bells start ringing over there in Samuels.

Have a great Saturday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good fences mean uneaten cabbage

I worked on my new, semi-deficient garden fence almost all day yesterday. It's more than half complete, and I've done the whole thing myself. Bill and my brother would tell you it looks like I did the whole thing myself, especially if asked---and especially if out of throwing or hearing range of Marianne. Actually, they'd probably be polite, but I know they'd both be thinking that its workmanship sure could use a lift.

I insisted to Bill that I'd be doing it myself, and since the project began I issued my own personal disclaimer that the deer could care less if all the posts aren't in a precise straight line. They don't give a hoot if some posts have 35 nails up there where I tried to get the braces to fit into place, only to have one fall off its perch the other day when I went to nailing up the woven wire.

"I'll fix that sucker," I said out loud to myself as the falling brace post nearly gave me a concussion. Thankfully, I caught it in time to save my life and to head straight to the shop for some of those big kahuna nails, which would reach nearly to Bonners Ferry once I nailed 'em from the brace post and headed them into that standing post. Sure enough, it worked, and the west end of the fence now stands semi-securely in place, even after occasional gusts of wind have tested its mettle.

If people (like my meticulous husband and brother) dare to sneak over there and look close on the west end of my fence, they could put a lot of dings on their inspection sheets. The woven-wire hangs at odd angles, and some of sections wave cuz I couldn't stretch them tightly enough. I don't know how you use fence stretchers to tighten woven wire, and I don't really care if it waves. Neither do the deer.

Some of those original little blocks of wood that I used on the fence braces are in grave danger of falling apart cuz they're pretty soft wood and a pin prick would make them crack. Well, I used nails, and, in some cases, they fell completely in two, but I just kept nailing around them anyway.

It's easy to see that as I moved easterly, my construction methods improved. I got the hang of nailing the corners of the woven wire rather than using those mini staples and bruising the heck out of my thumb as I tried to stretch wire, hold tiny staples and pound the hammer all at the same time. Readers know I'm not a good multi-tasker, so that right thumb has taken a lot of punishment over the past week or so. Once I learned the nail trick, the woven-wire installation moved a lot faster and even looks a lot better. That's good cuz that's the side near the road where discerning drivers of rigs pass by.

My friend asked me if I was using cement in the post holes. My answer was no. My brother and my husband are probably wondering how long those treated posts are going to last in that spot which was covered by standing water through mid-April. I don't know, but I figure I can just do it all over again in a few years and be so much more knowledgeable about my approach.

I'm hoping to have the fence sans gate finished this weekend. Until the gate gets attached, the deer will have one skinny little opportunity sneak inside and eat my cabbage and corn. I'm counting on Bill helping me hang the gate cuz he knows how to drill those holes where its hardware needs to go, and I don't. I'm sure, however, he's going to look at the posts and ask why I didn't put any fence braces on either side of the gate----as would a lot of hyper-observant men who drive their rigs past our place.

Again, I don't think the deer give a damn. What they do give, however, are dirty looks at that cabbage on the other side of the fence, knowing that from now on, they'll have to prowl around the neighborhood and find someone else's garden to pilfer during their nightly visits. And, that won't bother me one bit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hot off the presses: The Bee is coming

What's a person to do when the paper boxes are empty in the morning---and, it's already 6:30 a.m. ??? Such a scene sure upsets my apple cart, I'll tell ya! Having no paper to read meant more yakking with Bill this morning.

We talked about the Farmer's Market and how I'm gonna go down there today and scope out the procedures one has to follow should one wish to sell a leaf of lettuce or two. I might even bake some of my Appaloosa cookies (used to be Cedar Post cookies but I deal with a different publication now and those spots seem perfect for the Polka-Dot folks, as my cousin Patti calls 'em.) And, it might be a good idea to take some books to the market.

My premier at the Farmer's Market will come only after thorough study, so today's visit will get the ball rolling. Remind me not to take any money cuz I'm sure those loaves of homemade bread or Bear's Greek pastry will tempt me---and I need to stay away from that stuff. My ultimate goal is to produce garden goodies good enough to sell at the market, and, right now, I've got some Romaine lettuce that might just fit the quality standard.

Back to no newspaper. Well, one did eventually show up here about 6:40. Brandina, the paper deliverer, brought the Spokesman-Review and said the Bee will come later. Seems they installed some new press equipment in Coeur d'Alene, and it just hasn't been working right. So, Brandina, who delivers normally for four hours a day in the rural area north of Sandpoint, will put in eight today, going back to town whenever the Bee shows up and making her run all over again.

So, if you're downright anxious to see what's new on the bypass or which of the three moose who hang around Sandpoint star in the latest portrait while eating potted plants off from someone's deck, you're going to have to wait and watch. Eventually those presses may roll, and eventually the paper will show up. I certainly hope when those presses roll, they figure out how to avoid all those off-register color photos that make folks look like they came from Uranus or New Mexico.

Speaking of newspapers and bloopers, my cousin Rita (she's Rita Waltho, Jr.) wrote to me and told me that over the weekend she read a nice article about my book Lessons with Love: Tales of teaching and learning in a small-town high school. The piece appeared in the Tri-City Herald, which covers Kennewick, Pasco and Richland, Washington.

Rita, who's reading the book, said the article was very complimentary but that I might want to contact the paper if I wanted to sell more than one or two books. She likes the book a lot, but she's not so sure many readers will want to fork over $268 per copy as listed in the newspaper. Now, I don't mind if someone does, but I did tell my publicist Amie Wolf that we might want to take advantage of this opportunity to get more coverage----demand a retraction.

Well, Amie will surely be nicer than that, but she is going to ask if they'll print a correction, stating that the book really sells for $16 plus tax. Hopefully, discerning readers will pick up on that and figure it's a bargain to run right down to their favorite bookstore and grab a copy before the price increases again.

So, that's it for the newspaper front today. I'm figuring it's at least five hours before my "enquiring mind" gets to know what's new in Sandpoint today, according to our local "moosepaper." So, join with me in the window watch, and who knows, maybe while watching for the paper, you'll see a moose, knocking down your garden fence and eating your lettuce.

You can snap a picture and send it directly to the
Bee so they can print some "breaking moose."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let kids be kids

I think parents sometimes place so much emphasis on rearing smart kids that other dimensions important to surviving this life suffer. There, I said it. I made similar observations privately numerous times during in my life as a teacher, mainly because I witnessed the results of unrealistic expectations some parents set up for their kids. The consequences often lead to kids who turn into miserable adults.

I've also seen the negative results of kids being reminded at very impressionable ages how brilliant they are. Of course, they come to believe it, and, all too often, along their educational journey, they believe so much in their own brilliance that they shut out invaluable learning opportunities that could help them develop aspects of their being which aid in people skills, survival skills and general functionality in the world outside their protective family nests.

This morning I read a sentence in the paper where a parent predicted sure boredom for his child if the child's upcoming educational set-up at the school does not present the most ideal situation.

With all due respect, I believe that making such statements sets up a lot of room for failure. It's unfair and often insulting to teachers who have to work with these kids when such presumptive judgments are made, and it's unfair to impressionable kids who tend to believe everything they hear about themselves from Mom and Dad.

Throughout my career, some admittedly intelligent students would come along to my sophomore honors English class, sit on their hands and stagnate because they felt everything I offered in the class was "beneath them." After all, they were "gifted," and they believed that they deserved far better than anything I had to offer.

By the time these teens arrived in my class, they'd received such special treatment along the way that their arrogance formed a huge wall between them and the wonderful opportunities of growing up that existed in that classroom setting.
Being dubbed "gifted," in many cases, seemed to give these kids a license to be rude, unproductive and often isolated from the rest of their peers.

They may have been born with the tools, but they certainly weren't using them---all because they expected to be set on a pedestal and fawned upon rather than treated like any other human being. People survive because of manners and a sense of respect. They survive because they have developed a work ethic. They survive because of a variety of interpersonal tools, other than just an IQ.

I remember one student who did next to nothing in high school simply because he was sick and tired of his parents carefully fashioning him into their little robot who could spout out big words and read great books. Long about junior high, he rebelled and just about flunked out of high school---all because he just wanted to be a kid like his friends. He survived and has succeeded but only after several unnecessary years of dealing with hard times and failure. Most moms and dads want the best for their kids, but unfortunately all too often being overzealous and protective in the approach does more harm than good.

I say just let kids be kids. If they're truly gifted, as many great successes who went through my classes were, they'll discover what path they want to follow on their own. Granted, all kids need guidance, but they also should learn how to function in situations that some of us may deem less than ideal.

Dealing with these situations often breeds strength, ingenuity and enlightenment.
Possibly, if they're not reminded quite so often that they're little "prima donnas," they'll enjoy the freedom, the comfort and desire to explore a lot more avenues that provide an appropriate fit to their individual needs.

They'll also have the opportunity to incur a few bumps and bruises along the way and learn how to bounce back from adversity. And, in so doing, they'll develop all dimensions necessary to living as a productive, well-adjusted human being.

A few scraped knees and the right to be ordinary have allowed many of us in this big world to be "gifted" with happy lives and good memories. Besides, our purest desire for knowledge comes from the brilliance of finally realizing that we learn something from nearly every situation we encounter in life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

All's quiet . . . .

I'm not laughing. That's because my cousins are snoozing away in bed upstairs. I am smiling, though, about the fun we've already had. I'm frowning because the rain is coming down in buckets and the mountains are socked in. Tom Sherry said this rain would quit after morning, so I'm holding him to it because I'd like to do a lot of outside laughing today.

Yesterday's visit needed no preliminaries. It started out lively from the minute Patti and Sue drove into the driveway and continued until they finally headed upstairs for bed (Patti took Kiwi with her) around midnight. We sat on the deck and talked. We moved on over to Mother's and talked. We followed Barbara and Laurie down to the barn and talked while dodging horses coming into their stalls for the night.

We then moved back to the Lovestead where I spent an inordinate amount of time calmly following Miss Lily around a field of wet grass while she played keep-away. She hasn't played keep-away with me very often, but she knew I was in a hurry to get ready for dinner at the Landing, so she was going to make me earn every bite.

Patti and Sue watched from the upstairs windows as I would get the halter to the very edge of Lily's muzzle only to have her dash off for another spin around the field. If I hadn't been a bit miffed at her timing, I would have enjoyed the show as much as Patti and Sue did because Lily does cut a gorgeous sight, racing with reckless abandon across that field of green. After about 15 minutes and only after I'd left the pasture, halter in hand, for the second time, Lily finally put her head over the fence and allowed me to catch her. I kept my cool, and we had no bad incidents to regret later.

A quick change into some dry clothes, and it was off to the Landing. We arrived with time to look through the accompanying lodge. Wow! The apartments are beyond beautiful. Patti wanted to see the high-end offering, which goes for $350-plus a night. It's pretty darn nice and huge; I said we could have the Brown family reunion in that alone. I don't know how many rooms it had, but I'm guessing the square feet would have matched that of our entire house.

Dinner at the Landing was a delight, even though we had to wait. We had reservations, but it was graduation night in Sandpoint and the beginning of the summer. So, we waited about half an hour for our table. That was okay, though, because we saw lots of familiar faces there--Ginny and Dave Jensen were heading out while we waited. Tim Cochran also walked by and headed to his table. I had a brief talk with Keith Sheckler who had tried to teach us sailing a few years ago, only to have to pull us back into the dock on the last session, thanks to no wind.

I also had a chance to give a big hug and thank-you to Katie Rogers who just returned from a semester in Italy. She wrote a blurb for the first page of my book, so it was especially good to see her and hear that she had read stories from the book each night while she and her family backpacked in Europe. Katie didn't have long to visit because she's working at the Landing. Another large party of familiar faces sat at a table in one end of the restaurant; they were celebrating Dr. Forrest Bird's 86th birthday.

Finally, a table came open, and the owner Len, who's told us later he's already retired once, led us to a spot by the window. We were glad to be inside because of the rain, but a large group of kids who'd traveled from Aberdeen, Washington, seemed happy to sit outside.

The "killer bread" was, indeed, a scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth treat, the Pend Oreille wine was perfect and smooth, and our meal of almond chicken and top sirloin were all they've been cooked up to be from prior reviews--wonderfully prepared and nicely served by our waitress.

Later, Len, who says "Glen" runs the lodge, came by to see how we liked our meal. My cousins announced to Len that I was famous and that he'd better buy my book cuz he was gonna show up in my blog. Well, how could Len react to such a threat! He seemed to take it in his stride.

Well, Len is in my blog this morning, and I'd say he's doing a fine job staying on top of all the activity at what will surely be a popular new spot in Sandpoint. I think everyone at our table had a great time, visiting and, yes, laughing. My cousins are just like the restaurant, which continues to receive rave reviews. They're down-to-earth, friendly and outgoing Seattle gals who are lapping up every minute of life on the farms and life in Sandpoint.

And, we're all pleased to have them here. Now, if the rain would cease, we can enjoy another fun day with even more funny-bone exercise.

Happy Sunday.