Photo Hunt: Messy

When Christmas is over the "wrapping center" on the bed in the guest room can be classified as messy. Maybe cleaning up will be a good New Year's project! You can visit to see more photos using Messy.

Ten Mile Road Trip: The Center of the Universe

Go Figure: This is for you!
A few nights ago Silver Valley Girl and I took a trip to the other end of Shoshone County to Wallace, Idaho. She wanted to try out her new rig and we wanted to check out the Center of the Universe. Growing up Wallace seemed like a journey from Kellogg. We went there to the dentist, to visit the courthouse, or to do shopping. It is really only about eleven miles.The Wallace Miners were our rivals in sports and I attended many basketball games in their gym as the Miners and Wildcats kept the rivalry alive.

"On September 25, 2004 Wallace's Mayor Ron Garitone proclaimed Wallace to be the center of the Universe. Specifically, a sewer access cover was declared to be the precise location of the center of the Universe. A specially made manhole cover was made to mark the spot. It bears the words "Center of the Universe. Wallace, Idaho." This prompted British comedian and writer Danny Wallace to visit Wallace. He wrote about his visit in the book Danny Wallace and the Centre of the Universe, published in 2006." Wikipedia

When we traveled to Wallace it was snowing hard. This is a picture of a street downtown. The people of Wallace have worked hard at preserving their historic town. Every building in downtown is registered with the National Registry of Historical Places. Returning to Wallace I feel like I am frozen in time.
Tabors Store had a lovely Christmas window display.
The houses were decorated beautifully for the holidays. This was a favorite we caught on film. We then toured King St. and started to head up Placer Creek, but decided the snow was falling just a bit too fast to keep going.Taking the old highway home to Kellogg we caught this holiday light display in Osburn. It was worth one more picture. Making the journey to the other end of Shoshone County was enjoyable. I spent time laughing and enjoying music with my sister, we got to test her new rig in snow and on hills, and we got to stand at the Center of the Universe. It doesn't get better than that!

Sibling Assignment #49: Gentle Reminders for 2008

I gave our sibling assignment for this last week of 2007:

Often people make New Year's Resolutions, but find them hard to keep. If you had a list of gentle reminders posted on the corner of your laptop screen for 2008, what would those gentle reminders be? You will find RP's here and Silver Valley Girl's here soon.

Now I want to focus on eight gentle reminders for 2008. Then I used to always set hard New Year's Resolutions which were hard to stick with. You can read other Sunday Scribblings on Now and Then here.

On my laptop screen one gentle reminder listed is to be still. Each day I need to take time to just be. Nothing else.
I also want to continue to pray and count blessings each day. I have found that if I add the blessings to my prayer time it fills my heart with the good things of the day.
Also on that list is to be gentle with my body. I know what I need to do, but I want to take it slowly and gently so I don't get discouraged.
The fourth one will be the easiest: Notice the beauty around me and capture that beauty in digital pictures. I began noticing the beauty around me in 2007.
Fifth on the list: write every day.
My sixth gentle reminder is to read outside my comfort zone. I want to find books to stretch my thinking. Any suggestions?
Laugh every day is number seven. Laughter is truly the best medicine.
My last gentle reminder is to break down tasks. I am slowly learning if I break down tasks into smaller parts it helps me from getting overwhelmed. I take on too much too often and get overwhelmed too easily in the process. Sigh.

I am looking forward to 2008 and will have my gentle reminders close by.

Images of The Holidays in Kellogg

Today my brother Raymond Pert drove me to Spokane Valley to meet JEJ and return home. JEJ left Kellogg earlier to make sure the house, the cats, the rabbits, and greenhouse were surviving the snowy weather. It was a wonderful holiday and birthday celebration for my brother with family and friends back home, but it feels good tonight to be sitting in my own house with my dogs, husband, cats, a fire in the wood stove, and a winter wonderland outside. I am eager to see my gardens in the light tomorrow.

Snug the Joiner

Snug is my brother's Springer Spaniel that loves being in North Idaho. He doesn't see much snow back home in Eugene, Oregon so this morning he was ecstatic about having me play outside with him and follow him around with the camera. Whether Snug is outside making dog angels or inside watching the action on the street he loves being around people. Snug is a joiner.

Reflecting on Raymond Pert's Birthday

Today is my brother Raymond Pert's 54th birthday. I caught this image of RP and his dog Snug looking out the window at our mother's house. I love the images of our childhood church and the hills below Silver Mountain reflecting in the window. At my brother's request we had a homemade comfort meal made by Mom that included fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, canned corn, and salad. It was a family gathering around the table full of family stories, memories, and lots of laughs.
Happy Birthday Raymond Pert!

Silver Valley Snowfall

When I awoke this morning I was greeted by a new blanket of snow in Kellogg. It fell most of the day creating a peaceful setting at Silver Valley Girl's house as we had some time of quiet after the festivities the last few days. I did get a bit of exercise as I walked out and captured some photo images of the beautiful day. .This is the tree she features on her blog as it changes from season to season.

Here is the family "snowdog" Peaches. She just seemed to belong in this winter scene.
Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus were protected from the snow under the eaves.

Once back inside I caught some favorite ornaments decorating the tree.

"How do You Say Broken Yule Log in French?"

Silver Valley Girl saying, "Bon appétit!"

Each year on Christmas Eve my sister Silver Valley Girl orchestrates a dinner highlighting the food and customs of a country in the world. Our family has many fond memories of Christmas Eve dinners that have included food from Thailand, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and others. This year we celebrated France so it was my task to make a Buche de Noel for dessert. This is the chocolate roll made to resemble a log. I love to make desserts and was looking forward to this challenge. I had made other cake rolls pretty easily. I got a bit stressed when I had to beat eggs, put them over simmering water, then use a candy thermometer so they would get to a certain consistency. I have had bad experiences with a candy thermometer. Not only was the top of it cracked, but it didn't hang on the bowl correctly.I don't think I cooked the egg mixture long enough and I don't think I baked the chocolate roll long enough, but it came out of the pan beautifully and rolled up in the towel just fine. Whew! Relief!

As the roll was cooling I discovered the filling required more complicated steps using a candy thermometer. It had completely broke at the top by now so I searched for another filling recipe. I found a much simplier one that called for cream, espresso, rum, and cocoa. I could handle this!
I whipped it up and even made my first marzipan mushrooms to make the dessert look like a log ( it's a French thing).

The cake was cooled and I unrolled it. The roll began to crack a bit. I thought," I can piece this together with this creamy filling." The roll cracked more and basically fell apart. I stood there staring at this broken up log trying to come up with Plan B for the Christmas Eve dessert.

I found a large,clear bowl. I broke apart the already cracked chocolate roll, mixed it with the filling, sprinkled the chocolate "twigs" on top next to the marzipan mushrooms. I don't think I invented a new recipe, just a variation on a theme. I guess you would call it " Sawdust de Noel". It resembled a dessert I have loved to make in the past called Punchbowl Cake.

It didn't match the picture on the cooking sites. It didn't fit very well in any container as I packed it for a trip to Idaho. All I know is by the time this new French dessert sat and chilled for a day it really was a delicious dessert.... it just had to be renamed!
To see the menu, read about another small disaster, and see more pictures of this tradition in our family go to Silver Valley Girl's post here.

Appreciating a Place We Call Home: A Christmas Letter

There are numerous things we appreciate about the place we call home. The last year we have spent more time close to home taking short road trips that resulted in an awareness of the beauty that surrounds us here on Lake Roosevelt. Here are some thoughts as I reflect on the last year.

Top Ten Reasons I Was Glad Gas Prices
Were Too High in 2007 to Travel Very Far

10. We earned lots of free lattes on our espresso cards in Stevens and Spokane Counties.
9. When we took a ten-mile trip around our area we didn’t need 3 oz. toiletries in a quart size Ziplock bag. We could even take our own bottled water!
8. Annie and Shelby could go to Lake Roosevelt and roll in dead fish as easily as the Oregon Coast.
7. When I went hiking through the Settler’s Cedar Grove in North Idaho with my siblings I didn’t have to put a rush order on my new passport.
6. We didn’t have to go to a big city to see live theater. We went to the Sixth Street Melodrama in Wallace, Idaho in July and thoroughly enjoyed “Nightmare at Dream Gulch Or... Wake Me When Its Over” written by my sister Silver Valley Girl. She also starred , her husband was the director and another star and all my nieces had parts!
5. I appreciate good Idaho food including hamburgers at the Spragpole Cafe in Murray, authentic Mexican tamales at Patti’s Kitchen in Moscow, great coffee at Josie’s in Kellogg, and drunken gravy fries at the 13 13 Club in Wallace.
4. It is easier to take digital pictures at a mountain lake when you are the only people there.
3. When my brother and I toured the White Pine Scenic Byway in Idaho and JEJ joined us on the Selkirk Loop in northeastern Washington we didn’t have to search for parking places or fight traffic.
2. We drove by Sandy’s Drive-In on our way home from many ten-mile trips and it was necessary to get the best soft ice cream cones in the Inland Empire.
1. The number one reason I was glad the gas prices were high : I could travel the northwest and enjoy five-star restaurants, but it is better to drive four hours and enjoy Mom’s five-star fried chicken, potato salad, homemade ice cream, and apple pie.

Moments of Quiet

Before the holiday journey
With the to-do list done I have
Some moments of quiet.
It includes a mug of coffee,
The Christmas Waltz with Karen and
Snow falling out the window.
Pausing I reflect on
my dear blogging friends.
Your posts have taught me life lessons,
showed me beauty from all over the world,
and provided tons of encouragement.
May 2008 bring new books to curl up with,
a new coffee or tea in a big, chunky mug,
fresh inspiration for Sunday Scribblings ,
photos that brings life alive,
recipes, craft ideas, laughs and tears
with connections near and far.
Merry Christmas and Peace in 2008!

Winter Solstice: Relearning Winter

As we drove home the snow was falling, the road was turning icy, and the day was growing dark as we celebrated Winter Solstice. We were steered around a car accident and saw snowplows gearing up for a late afternoon run. Moving slowly down the road along Lake Roosevelt we were reminded that we always need to relearn winter. I also admit to a short memory. We need to relearn to prepare for getting stranded, to anticipate the deer moving across the road in early evening, and to pause and appreciate and respect this season.Relearning Winter

Hello Winter, hello flanneled
blanket of clouds, clouds
fueled by more clouds, hello again.

Hello afternoons,
off to the west, that silver
of sunset, rust-colored
and gone too soon.

And night (I admit to a short memory)
you climb back in with chilly fingers
and clocks, and there is no refusal:
ice cracks the water main, the garden hose
stiffens, the bladed leaves of the rhododendron
shine in the fog of a huge moon.

And rain, street lacquer,
oily puddles and spinning rubber,
mist of angels on the head of a pin,

and snow, upside-down cake of clouds,
white, freon scent, you build
even as you empty the world of texture-

hello to this new relief,
this new solitude now upon us,
upon which we feed.

Mark Svenvold
from Soul Data, 1998
University of North Texas Press, Denton, TX

Happy Winter Solstice!

Celebrating With Students, A Moment of Quiet, and Winter Break Begins

Today when I arrived at school there was no down time to squeeze in that last swallow of coffee or check my mail. Excited middle school students were ready for the celebration to begin.The students in our middle school have kept our hall looking festive this holiday season.
They decorated a tree that greeted us as we walked in each day in December.
Today we had a Christmas party and during the gift exchange BZ got this great stuffed sled dog. Students then stuck on Santa hats and played basketball. Don't be fooled. It was bright and sunny, but also very cold. The thermometer read 11 degrees.When the party came to an end I had a moment of quiet reflection as I shut down the room for winter break. I thought about how much fun the students had together today. I loved the giving gestures I observed as students traded gifts that were more suited. They were planning get-togethers for break time, laughing, and wishing each other " Happy Holidays".

As I headed down the deserted hall to begin my break I felt blessed. I have a profession that provides unforgettable moments each day. Today those moments were joyous.

"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas"

As I prepared goodie packages for family members tonight I noticed it was finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Since tomorrow is my last day of school before our holiday break, I think I can see Christmas looming in the near future now!
The neighborhood has gotten in the holiday mood with signs and lights that brighten up my drive as I come and go. The indoor plants and the holly outside have helped surround us with holiday beauty. The animals are either watching it snow, taking a ride in the car, eating, watching, or resting. They love the heavenly smells as things bake. The cats are entertained with the pieces of ribbon and paper left around. The cats also keep waiting for lights to be hung around their cat door. The dogs can only hope a cookie or two will burn so they can " sample".
Yes, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Sibling Assignment # 48: Sixth Grade, The Carpenters, and Christmas Bells

Silver Valley Girl gave us our sibling assignment this week.

"One of my favorite Christmas carols is “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”, based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Read or sing the words and write some reflections on the words of this poem/carol." You will find Raymond Pert's here soon and Silver Valley Girl's here soon.
In sixth grade each month our teacher had us copy a poem, illustrate it, memorize it, then present it to the class. They were then hung up on the bulletin board. These were the type of assignments this sixth grade student liked. The poem she assigned for December was " I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". When I memorized the words and illustrated it I don't think I understood the meaning.
When I sang this carol in church what is vivid in my mind is the last line of each stanza "Peace on Earth Good Will to Men" . It had a traditional melody that stayed with me long after it had been sung. If my memory serves me right we have an old Christmas album at home that has this song on it. I remember hearing it often. I will have to check that out on Christmas Eve.

I didn't remember that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words. The original poem was called " Christmas Bells". Here are the words with the two extra stanzas that were dropped when John Calkin rearranged the words into the carol.
"Christmas Bells"
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words on Christmas, 1864. I thought it was another carol that had pulled the Christmas story from the one of the four gospels. He had used some New Testament verses, but he composed this while the Civil War was being fought. He had lost his wife in a tragic accident and his son was wounded in the war. After knowing the true reasons for his stanzas the words " Peace on earth, good-will to men" took on a different meaning. Longfellow through all his suffering saw hope.
One of the first albums I bought when I left home was a Carpenter's Christmas album. They do a beautiful arrangement of this song. The man that put together this video showed images he felt belonged with the lyrics while Karen Carpenter's unmistakable voice carries the melody.

'Oh...the weather outside is frightful... but the fire is so delightful."

I think it snowed most of the day at school. The official measurement by an eighth grade student about 2:45 was ten inches on the playground. Schools around us had sent their students home early. When I arrived home we had about eight inches in our front yard.JEJ captured this picture of the front gate and driveway earlier before we decided the fire was much more delightful.

Isabelle decided after being out for about five minutes while I was taking pictures that the top of the piano was so delightful.

A Christmas Meme

Here is a fun Christmas meme that has been sighted on numerous blogs. Please feel free to participate if you have ten minutes of time between wrapping, mixing, entertaining and celebrating!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I switch it up. This year it is more wrapping paper.

2. Real tree or artificial? Now artificial. A wood stove and a dry tree just didn't mix.

3. When do you put up the tree? The first week of December.

4. When do you take the tree down? In February some time. I switch in January and do a whole winter theme with silver and blue decorations. I put out snowmen and snowflakes. It helps beat the winter blues.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes... and this year I tried a new vanilla spice nog that is very tasty.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My first desk that I found under the tree Christmas morning.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. I brought the one I received as a child with me when I left home. I still have it, but got another one a few years ago also. If I had more space to display I would love to collect Nativity scenes.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My husband's friend G.H.

9.Easiest person to buy for? my sister

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I got some earring and a choker a few years ago... the earrings laid down on my shoulders and the choker did what is was supposed to do... it choked me.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? White Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I try to pick up stuff throughout the year, but mostly between October and early December.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes... and they were well received.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mom's spritz, fruitcake and Nuts and Bolts.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, White Christmas, and Grown-Up Christmas List

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel to visit family in Idaho.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Believe me, I sang that song so much in music class in elementary school I could recite them in my sleep.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A springer spaniel angel in honor of my first dog Nikki.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? When stores are out of things everyone needs like ornament hooks, candles, and blue candy canes ( a request from my students).

23. What I love most about Christmas? I love the music, the gathering with family to prepare meals and celebrate together, hearing from old friends, and singing Christmas carols in my little church.

Christmas Baking: An Inland Empire Girl Tradition and Keepers from the Recipe Box

At holiday time each year I do baking as gifts for family, friends, and neighbors. Some years I do a variety of cookies. Other years I mix it up and do breads and candies. This week-end I did holiday breads. The biggest reason I chose the following breads is because I still had a bumper crop of rhubarb and zucchini waiting in the freezer to be used. I love being able not only to give people homemade bread, but also home grown produce!I started with a recipe I haven't used very often. After JEJ did a taste test he decided it was a keeper. These Fresh Rhubarb Loaves combine tart rhubarb, the fragrance of nutmeg and other yummy ingredients to create a loaf that can be served at breakfast, brunch, or as a snack.

Fresh Rhubarb Loaves
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg ( I use a bit more nutmeg from the spice bottle)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups finely diced rhubarb
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and beat until well blended. To the flour add the soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With the mixer on low, combine the four mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Blend in the vanilla. By hand stir in the nuts and lastly the rhubarb.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9x5x2 inch bread pans. Sprinkle the mixture of sugar and cinnamon on top of unbaked loaves. ( I skipped this and just sprinkled them with white sparkling sugar when I took them out.) Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from pans.

I also made Zucchini Bread Plus which is posted here. The delicious Pumpkin-Chip Bread was the third recipe I mixed up and it can be found here. All three of these recipes are found in the Best of Friends, Etc. Cookbook by Darlene Glantz Skees.

Sibling Assignment #47: Reconciliation : The Winter Dance

Raymond Pert gave us the following assignment:

"My WR 121 class has been studying reconciliation and reading all these papers about their struggles and successes with reconciliation makes me want to write about reconciliation.So, write a post about an experience you have had with reconciliation. It might be a successful reconciliation with a person you were in conflict with. It might be reconciliation with your self you were out of sorts about. It might be about a reconciliation that has never happened and maybe never will. It might be coming to reconcile yourself with an idea that had bugged you for a long time. I think these reconciliation posts would be enhanced by each of us writing, at some point in the post, about what we understand "reconciliation" to mean and where we look in our lives for examples of reconciliation that help us measure our successes and failures at reconciliation. Have fun!"

You will find his here soon and Silver Valley Girl's is here.

Growing up in Kellogg, Idaho happy memories came with winter . I loved making snowmen, sleigh riding, coming in covered with snow,drinking hot chocolate, and riding on open air truck singing Christmas carols with the Camp Fire Girls. When I moved away from north Idaho I didn't like winter as well. Traveling to far-away places in winter created homesickness and bad road experiences . The winters in southeastern Washington were very different than those of north Idaho. I have memories of lots of cold wind, freezing rain, and did I mention wind? I don't participate in winter sports so I wasn't active during the cold months. The season of winter began to have an effect on my well-being. I struggled during the winter. I lost interest in activities I had enjoyed. I didn't have energy.

In recent years I reconciled myself to enjoy winter. Reconciliation for me is to resolve an issue that causes a struggle. How could I make the sadness season come alive with beauty and grace? I have the holidays to look forward to now that I have family living closer. My digital camera gives me opportunities to capture photo images of winter's beauty. I dress more practical so I don't get too cold and now I carry extra socks (I hate cold feet). Living in my corner of northeastern Washington has allowed me to appreciate the numerous wonders of this season. Beauty can lie in snow covered holly, a lone watering can on the rock wall, or a woodpecker resting in a pine tree.

"The Winter Dance" is the title of the video that helped me capture my reconciliation with winter. In a dance you may feel surefooted, but then the rhythm changes or you acquire a different partner. A dance can be lively and spirited or slow and dreamy. As I partnered with winter for this dance I felt I too became more surefooted. I also paid attention to the changes in rhythm, looked for the lively and spirited parts of the season, and paused to enjoy the slow and dreamy. The Winter Dance is an ongoing life process. When I need to reconcile an issue again I can think about the dance lessons of winter.

I hope you appreciate the beauty in my corner of the world in "The Winter Dance." To find other Dance posts go to Sunday Scribblings here.
( it is only a little over two minutes long... not thirteen... I need to fix that glitch!)

In the Bleak Mid-Winter : A Visit to the Greenhouse

When the weather is icy and cold and the days begin and end in darkness, it is a nice reprieve to take some pictures in the greenhouse. Our greenhouse is primarily used to keep outdoor plants going through the winter and to have a place that houseplants can survive without the drying effect of the wood stove. The ivy geraniums continue to bloom in a vivid pink.
The jade plant was too big to move out of the greenhouse so it has become a permanent fixture.

The sunlight is a welcome treat as these plants turn themselves toward the light.
Taking a picture from a ways back I can catch a whole mixture of ferns, wandering jew, geraniums, and a Christmas cactus. The fragrance from the scented geraniums makes the time spent in the greenhouse even more worthwhile.