Violets, Mom, and the Book of Ruth

A writing friend of mine was willing to share a piece she'd written at our retreat last week-end for my blog. Each person wrote a list of favorite words, then we traded lists, and wrote about a word from another's list. The word she chose was violets.

The scent of flowers evokes so many memories. Clover is the smell of rushing down a hillside, eyes closed, on a bike on a summer's day in England. Chrysanthemums are the scent of death- partly from D.H. Lawrence's short story " Odour of Chrysanthemums", but also from weekly visits to the cemetery. Mums lasted from week to week so were the graveside choice, at least in late summer and autumn.
Violets- the overpowering scent of sweet old ladies- talcum powder, cologne, breath mints and the Book of Ruth. I have my Mom's bible she received as a confirmation gift. The bible falls open to the Book of Ruth, where over sixty years ago Mom pressed a violet. What is the story contained in the faded colors of that long ago violet? A first love?
Violets- also the color of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes.
by Bev Wolff
April 27, 2007

National Poetry Month #30

Honoring poems each day this month has been an incredible experience for me. I have reread old favorites, found new poets, and heard lots of feedback from other poetry lovers. Today, on the last day of National Poetry Month I chose the poem that has stayed with me longer than any other. My mom still has a brown poetry book that contains this poem. Often she read this poem aloud and each time she would patiently explain to me one more time what the poem meant.

Little Boy Blue

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands.

Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;

And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue---
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!

Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place---
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;

And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.
-Eugene Field

Sibling Assignment #18: Poppyseed Pancakes, Strong Coffee, and Red Flags Flying

The sibling assignment this week was An Oregon Coast memory. Raymond Pert's will be found here and Silver Valley Girl's will be found here. We all picked entirely different memories to write about. That is the fun thing about the sibling assignments. The Sunday Scribbling assingment this week is ocean here.

August often found our family gathering at the Oregon coast. One year my siblings Silver Valley Girl and Raymond Pert joined my parents and myself for a visit to Yachats located on the central coast by Newport. We stayed at the Adobe hotel and Silver Valley Girl was also joined by her husband and daughter. The time we went on this trip the internet wasn’t readily available yet. I would rely on Best Places books, travel magazines, and word of mouth to assist in suggesting places to eat and tour.

My dad grew up as a meat and potato kind of guy. At that point in his life he wasn’t up for experimenting with “weird food”. I should have known that my breakfast restaurant choice would not go over well for the whole family as we took off for Newport to The Whale’s Tale.

In my research this restaurant had been given 5 stars and I had read things like “ the Whale’s Tale is yet another Newport tradition, considered a kind of shrine to 1960’s hippie restaurants” ( first red flag). “ You can’t beat its location on the waterfront or its cozily exaggerated maritime motif” (second red flag). “At Whale's Tale Restaurant along the bay front, specialties include Eden's Garden, a homemade poppyseed pancake topped with seasonal fruit, yogurt, sweetened coconut and sliced almonds. The Fisherman's Omelet features sautÈed mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and two cheeses, topped with local grilled oysters.” (third red flag). This restaurant is also known for its strong coffee often coined the Fogcutter’s blend. (fourth red flag).

The rest of us were excited even before we arrived at the restaurant. As we entered the dark, wood beam place we could smell the strong coffee brewing and were eager to study the menu. We were seated at a big round table right by the door and could enjoy the sights and smells of Newport Bay.

The menu was an eclectic ( I think Dad hated eclectic) mix of breakfast dishes that included the poppyseed pancakes, the omelet above and other items not usually found on the café menus Dad was used to ordering from.

Things began to go downhill when Dad drank his coffee. “ Why can’t you just get a plain cup of coffee instead of this weird stuff?” Next,as other patrons arrived and the doors were open often Dad made another classic statement. “ Geeeeez…..why does everything smell like fish here?” We all took deep breaths and didn’t dare look at one another knowing we were ready to explode into laughter. “ Let’s see Dad… Newport Bay, fishing, docks across the street, people carrying fish… that all connects to fish in our book,” one of my siblings replied.

Then came the ordering. Dad had this habit of mumbling when he placed an order. Half the time we couldn’t understand him, let alone a waitress. I don’t even remember what he ordered, but it wasn’t quite right. The waitress probably didn't understand him.With Dad you never knew what wasn’t quite right, but his silence and body language were clear signs.

The rest of us were adventurous. Poppyseed pancakes, vegetarian omelets, and other eclectic dishes were brought to the table. We asked for more of the great coffee and laughed and visited through the whole meal as Dad sat quiet. As we left the restaurant Dad gave us another one of his classic lines. “ Which one of you jugheads picked this restaurant? I couldn’t even get a good cup of coffee and everything tastes like fish. How can you ruin eggs over easy, bacon, and toast?”

As he walked off toward the car I took full responsibility. It was reassuring to know that the other six people in the group loved the place. I guess I thought since Dad was on vacation perhaps he would want to experience new foods and beverages. I should have read between the lines and watched for those red flags.

The upside? It has been one of the top five classic stories we have told over and over since and laughed our heads off, especially if anyone brews "good coffee" from fresh beans or makes a strong, robust brew. We all like “ the weird stuff.”

Spring Bouquet #4: Tulip Time

National Poetry Month #29

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil
probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty
dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we
spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here,
and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street,
the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying
along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush:
This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter
to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more
and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself
in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a
cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm
I am living, I remember you.
-Marie Howe

Sunday Scribblings: Mating for Life

The Sunday Scribblings topic this week is wings.
Wings connect me to birds. Today I returned to mountain bluebirds. I grew up in Kellogg, Idaho and because of the Bunker Hill Smelter I was surrounded by toxic pollution. I don’t remember seeing many birds in our yard. Maybe robins were there in the spring, but other bird sightings were rare. As a child I would study colored pictures of bird species in the encyclopedia. I never observed any of these birds light on a lilac bush or peck a hole in our tree at our house.

The state bird of Idaho is the mountain bluebird. When we learned Idaho facts in school I loved seeing pictures of the mountain bluebird. I felt proud to have such a beautiful choice as a representative as our state bird. When we colored the mountain bluebird sheets I wanted to find just the right shade of crayon for that state bird as I outlined and filled in the blue wings.
During those childhood years I never saw a mountain bluebird. I would check the trees in the spring, hoping that year our state bird would appear. It never happened. When I moved to the home I live in now in Washington state I was able to birdwatch each day and see many species that were a part of those pages in the encyclopedia I remembered as a child. We set up birdhouses the second year of living in the house. That spring we were introduced to mountain bluebirds. In a birdhouse made for our wedding garden, the bluebirds took up residence and built a nest.

The part I love about mountain bluebirds is that they mate for life. When the bluebirds returned the next year to the wedding garden, we had to believe they were the same “couple”. How fitting that these mates returned to that garden to make a nest and have babies again. We had something in common. Like the bluebirds, my husband and I have mated for life.

The pictures in the encyclopedia were accurate. The crayon I used to color the state bird was right. Mountain bluebirds have the most spectacular color on their wings. What a joy to have a couple take up residence at your house.

National Poetry Month #28

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

-William Carlos Williams

Touring the Inland Empire and a Starbucks Field Trip

Yesterday I left the part of Lake Roosevelt I call home to attend a leadership retreat in Spokane, WA. There are two free ferries on Lake Roosevelt. One is closer to Grand Coulee Dam at Keller, WA. The one above is between Keller and Kettle Falls at Gifford. The landscape changes this time of year because of the spring drawdown of the lake.
Driving west close to Blue Creek I spotted the mountains in the distance toward Idaho. This is one of the beautiful views in the inland empire.

With the beautiful plants and a water feature, this corner by our conference room provided a perfect place for a quiet moment of meditation.
This morning it was only fitting to do a short field trip for a coffee drink and breakfast treat. The three of us live in rural areas far away from a Starbucks. It was well worth the trip, even though our driver had to do a fancy U-Turn on Highway 2. We were glad she had a small car!

The sunlight pouring through this window caught the gorgeous colors of the mugs, cups and coffeemakers in the window display. Blending the companionship of friends, the aroma of the daily coffee special, and the taste of a pumpkin scone made for a perfect start to the day.

National Poetry Month #27: Jump Rope Rhymes

When I found these rhymes in a book entitled And the Green Grass Grew All Around by Alvin Schwartz it took me back to the Sunnyside School playground, the long jump rope, and these chants. Of course we did these after we chanted, “Third graders on the other side.”
Fudge, fudge, tell the judge
Mama’s had a baby!
It’s a boy, full of joy,
Papa’s going crazy!
How many kisses did he give it?

Down by the river where the green grass grows
There sat Mary (fill in your own) sweet as a rose,
Along came Johnny ( again, fill in your own) and kissed her on the nose.
How many kisses did she get?

Sam and Joan (fill in names) sitting in a tree
First came love, then came marriage,
Then came Joan with a baby carriage.

Sunflowers: A Writing Prompt

Tonight I began a leadership retreat with teachers of writing. It was only fitting that we began with a writing prompt. Our leader had us write five of our favorite words. We then passed papers, got another person's list, chose one word, then did a freewriting prompt. The word I chose to write about was sunflowers.

The picket fence out back was lined with sunflower plants that towered over the pickets and the shrubs that grew behind them. The mix of yellow, orange, red, and chocolate brown created an unforgettable image of late summer glory. Each day the large blossoms turned their faces toward the sun in the early morning warmth. As summer moved into fall the petals fell and the heads held the sunflower seeds that provided food for birds and squirrels. After the first hard frost the stems and leaves dried and stood in dark contrast to the picket fence. The first snow provided a protective blanket over the remaining parts of the plants. Watching the birds feed on what was left in late winter gave me hope that spring was around the corner.

National Poetry Month #26

How do I know when a poem is finished?

When you quietly close
the door to a room
the room is not finished.

It is resting. Temporarily.
Glad to be without
you for awhile.

Now it seeps back into itself,
unruffled and proud.
Outlines grow firmer.

When you return,
you might move the stack of books,
freshen the water in the vase.

I think you could keep doing this
forever. But the blue chair looks best
with the red pillow. So you might as well

leave it that way.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

Same Time Every Year: A Community of Learners

A group of educators gather the same time each year at a leadership retreat in Spokane for the Northwest Inland Writing Project. Tomorrow I have the opportunity to spend two glorious days with men and women that share my passion for writing, reading, and thinking. As a group we spend time at this retreat planning gatherings for teachers and students that share our passion for literacy. I always love this week-end. We work long hours as we research writing instruction, discuss best practices, and craft workshops late into the evening each day. I love this community of learners. As an organization we offer a summer institute through the University of Idaho in the summer. We also provide Young Authors' Conferences at two sites, a writing retreat in June in McCall, Idaho, a spring conference for teachers, and ongoing inservice throughout the year. I communicate with many of these people throughout the year via email, quick conversations at conferences, and over the phone. This week-end is that one time of year we push up our sleeves and focus on ourselves as writers and teachers of writing all in a room together. I love the challenge. As I pack up my professional books, journals, laptop, and some goodies to share I am ready to be invigorated intellectually and inspired creatively. For more information about the Northwest Inland Writing Project go here. For information on the National Writing Project go here. In conjunction with the University of Idaho both are important partners with school districts to provide effective writing training for teachers in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Traveling to the " big city" means I also get to squeeze in a Starbuck's coffee drink, a visit to my favorite bookstore, and trips to a few nurseries looking at roses and bedding plants. I am giddy thinking of all I have to look forward to. I will keep you "posted" on my week-end full of learning, conversation, coffee, books, and plants.

National Poetry Month #25


all he would have to say is,
remember the time I came home
with a beard and Dad didn’t know me,
and we would all laugh,
Mom would say, just by your voice,
I knew your voice, and my sister
would say, the dog kept barking, and
I would say, that was the
summer I got a camera.
it pulls around us
like a drawstring, that time,
when we come together,
awkward and older,
our frayed conversations
trying to thread some memory
of each other,
one of us will only have to say,
remember the time you came home
from the bush with your beard,
and we were all easy again
with each other,
some will say how
Mom knew his voice, someone
will remember how the dog barked, I
will remember my new camera,
and we are a family again,
young and laughing on the front porch.
-Leona Gom

Memoir often focuses on common events that many families experience. This particular author uses simple images, repetition, and rhythm in describing the time when families are reunited.

Recycled, Gently Used, and a Room With a Different View

Our house is a small rambler in the country that is divided into two parts. There is the main living area, then a breezeway/ patio that connects the main house to another part which includes a room, bathroom, closet and a door to the garage. We always felt this breezeway was a wasted space because it was just there. Sometimes on a hot day it was cool there, but it was dark and unappealing. On cold winter mornings you have to sprint through to get to the only shower in the house. We had window boxes that blocked most of the view out the eastern side. My husband has done contracting work so he had a vision of what we could do with it. Even as we talked and planned, I couldn't picture the vision quite as easily. Being an experienced contractor he also knows how and where to find "recycled " and "gently used" materials. All of a sudden this spring we had free doors, windows, T-11 siding (notice the new vocabulary I have learned), a wood stove, and an industrious husband ready to begin the project. For a few weeks now he has been recreating this room. He gave me a heads up on the timeline of the project so I would have ample time to pick colors of paint. Experience has taught him that I can change my mind and waffle on that decision for months. We haven't named the room, but it will have a comfortable sitting area, plants, a place for a fire, and I will have a room with a different view. Now I can see his vision of the room coming to life. ( picture one is Shelby helping to frame the walls, picture two shows how he made the free windows and door fit, picture three is after a coat of paint, picture four is a view from out front facing the new door)

National Poetry Month #24


On the front porch
Chairs sit still;

The table will receive
Summer drinks;

They wait, arranged,
Strange and polite.

On the back porch
Garden tools spill;

An empty basket
Leans to one side;

The watering can
Rusts among friends.

-Valerie Worth

Patience, Persistance, and A Room With a View

"Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass,
I can appreciate persistence." Unknown

This is a view from my classroom window. In early morning I can enjoy the quietness of the basketball courts before the students show up to play a little three-on-three before class. I can breathe in the fresh morning smell of grass and pine. I can feel the warmth of the early morning sun if I step out from the shadows. The quote above fits perfectly as I reflect on recent teaching days.We know our trees and have learned patience as we have learned and grown together in this room. Each of us has also learned persistence. As we wrap up the final days of our state testing tomorrow and Wednesday persistence has been something I have observed over and over as each class has done their testing.
Tomorrow as my students are bubbling in answers, I will gaze out the window and think of the grass which is as persistent as they are. Both need nourishment, sunshine, and water to thrive! The students also need some patience and encouragement. My classroom is in the "other building" away from the main school building. I feel blessed to have an older, larger classroom with windows and a view I can appreciate four seasons of the year.

National Poetry Month #23: Post #100

When I began my blog on February 11,2007 my goal was to post each day. I surpassed my goal and reached a milestone today. Enjoy post #100!Yard Sale

Gold-plate goblets freckled
with tarnish, disconsolate
pajamas, infant shoes, curling
irons, somebody’s ancient

block flute, a candlestick grove,
bakelite coasters, egg poachers,
7 rubber sandals. Scruffy dolls
and accessories, board games

from whose battered boxes
children still look up with glee.
Two bald lamps, a basketball
and dumbbells, a toaster’s chrome

full of early leaves, and tilted
like a grimy satellite inside
a crate, a two-stroke engine.
Now at last admitted to my

neighbor’s back lawn, which
I’ve longed to cut across for years.
I see a tuft of grass and violets,
violets, growing, up in that
elm’s clavicle, a little island
world in the air, where the trunk
divides. I wouldn’t know how
to tell her of the delight I find

in this. But I think I’ll buy that
small stack of teaspoons, just
so I can linger, picking up this
language, whose every word has

finally toppled over in one case
or tense or mood. Everything as is.

- Robert Farnsworth

"You Say Sarvis, I Say Service": Serviceberry Blossoms Beckon Spring

In the area of northeastern Washington I call home serviceberry bushes cover hillsides along the country roads I frequent. They burst into bloom at the first hint of spring. It seems to be an instant thing. One day the branches are showing new growth, the next day they are exploding with blossoms. The reason it seems this way is because the blossoms appear on this shrub before the leaves.

In the early days of traveling preachers, this spring bloom coincided with the first church services of the year as snow melted and roads again became passable - hence the name Serviceberry. My husband has always said "Sarvisberry". "Sarvis" is the Appalachian pronunciation of service. I didn't know what the plant was when I first moved here. I actually thought it was syringa, the state flower of Idaho (which I should have known doesn't bloom this early and is much more fragrant). Then I thought "Sarvisberry" and "Serviceberry" were two different plants which caused some confusion when we were doing plant identification on our property! He thought people that called them "Serviceberries" were making a mistake.

All confusion aside, they are a rare beauty in spring all over the country. Serviceberries are one of the top-rated wildlife landscape plants. They offer nesting space and plenty of food for the birds. Some think the fruit is quite tasty to humans as well and is often used in pies and preserves.The Native American food pemmican is flavored by serviceberry fruits in combination with fat and dried meats, and the stems are made into arrow shafts.

These shrubs have also become a popular domestic landscape plant. We have a few on our property, but they were native plants that I kept. These blossoms are much more beautiful left on the branch. When cut and placed in water that don't last long and make a bit of a mess as they drop their petals.

Serviceberry blossoms make any trip worthwhile this time of year. Just driving up and down the highway along Lake Roosevelt yesterday we were in awe of their springtime beauty.

National Poetry Month #22: Happy Earth Day

Lake Roosevelt in Washington state looking northeast toward Idaho.
Earth Day
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That's why we
Celebrate this day.
That's why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
-Jane Yolen

Rooted In This Place We Call Home

Sunday Scribbling prompt this week is rooted.
Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being." Victor Hugo

My first thought was trees when I read the prompt rooted. When I moved to my current home the trees that surrounded my house were mostly pine that were left when my area was turned into a housing community. I knew I wanted blooming trees planted in my new yard because I love the soft, pastel colors of the flowering plum, crab apple, and dogwood. I never thought much about deciduous trees.

When JEJ and I were married nine years ago he mentioned frequently his love for deciduous trees. Because of jobs and other circumstances he had moved frequently in his adult live. At different homes he had planted a variety of trees, but never got to see them flourish into tall, rooted, mature trees. When he moved to our place he even transplanted his young trees. He couldn’t stand to leave them behind!

As we sat under a pine discussing future garden plans, he again spoke of his love for trees. That day we made up our minds to add those trees. I knew that JEJ was rooted in this place for many years. I wanted him to see trees that would transform sunny gardens into spots that would provide shade. In our planning we chose different types of maple trees so we could enjoy a spectrum of fall leaf colors. Other choices were mountain ash, locus, and fruit trees.

Our roots have been dug deeply in this place we call home. The trees have joined us and are thriving and maturing each year. We had dappled shade last summer and a gorgeous leaf display of color in the fall. We are eager to see what this gardening year brings.

National Poetry Month #21

The Christmas Cactus

All during the Christmas rush
I waited for the thing to come alive.
Eyed it while I gift wrapped scarves,
By New Year's
I vowed to be happy
living with just stems.
Then one day in February-
the worst month of the year,
making up in misery what it lacks in length-
the blooms shot out,
three ragged cirise bells that rang
their tardy Hallelujahs on the sill.
Late bloomers,
like the girls that shine
and shine at long last
at the spring dance
from their corner of the gym.

-Liz Rosenberg

I love the idea of calling a Christmas Cactus a late bloomer. Ours has been no bloomer, late bloomer, and surprise bloomer. Ours has been renamed the Thanksgiving Cactus, Valentine Cactus, and St. Patrick's Cactus. They are beautiful plants, but have a calendar all their own.

Gardening Wisdom 101

The flowering plum blossoms greeted us this morning.

I rely on experienced gardeners to pass on their wisdom when it comes to gardening tips. Some questions are easy to look up, but often times it is more enjoyable to gather around the table and hear the time-tested advice from them. Here is my first Gardening Wisdom 101 list:

If you have rodents, they generally won't touch daffodil bulbs.

If your roses get powdery mildew spray them with a solution of 3 tablespoons of baking soda to a gallon of water.

Cut banana peels into pieces and bury them around rose bushes just below the surface of the soil. The calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potash, and silica derived from the peels will do wonders for the flowers.

If you want butterflies plant butterfly bush,lantana, salvia, zinnias, cosmos, and lavender. Host plants such as red and white clover, lupines and violets provide a place for adults to lay eggs.

To create a scented garden you want to plant alyssum, daylily, hyacinth, lemon balm, lavender, lilac, mignonette, rose, and sweet pea.

Aphids hate the smell of mint so catmint and other plants in the mint family repel them. If you don't want mint spreading all over get mint leaves, spread them around the garden or prepare mint tea and water your plants with it.

Always rotate crops in your vegetable garden. The nightshade family- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes should not be in the same place more often then once every four years (now that is hard for me to do... at least try every other year).

Azaleas love acidic soil, so give them an occasional cocktail of two tablespoons white vinegar and a quart of water.

A layer of rinsed coffee grounds help geraniums thrive.
I hope there is a tip here you can use. Happy Gardening!

My Third Spring Bouquet from the Garden

"Friends are the flowers in the garden of life." M. Engelbreit

National Poetry Month, Poem #20


A giant hand inside my chest
Stretches out and takes
My heart within its might grasp
And squeezes till it breaks.

A gentle hand inside my chest,
With mending tape and glue,
Patches up my heart until
It’s almost good as new.

I ought to know by now that
Broken hearts will heal again.
But while I wait for glue and tape,
The pain!
The pain!
The pain!

-Judith Viorst

Sour Cream-Banana Bars: From the Recipe Box

This is a great recipe to take for treats somewhere or just enjoy at home. It is easy to make and travels well. Sometimes at our house we refer to these bars as the "meltdown bars". One time I made a pan to take for church coffee hour. My mom was visiting and I was trying to decide whether to leave them in the pan and try to serve them or take them all out and put them on a pretty plate, but try to figure out how to cover them without ruining the frosting. The whole process caused me to have a major meltdown fifteen minutes before church. Mom, being the Mom she is, calmly took the serving utensil and asked me to move away while she got them on the plate. When you think of all the major issues we live with in this world on a day-to-day basis, doesn't it amaze you that Inland Empire Girl could melt down over Sour Cream-Banana Bars? My husband just smiled and shook his head that day before church. My mom got them on the plate beautifully and covered the bars with plastic wrap. I managed to pull myself together and accept the complements when church members raved about these bars. This is a great recipe and meltdowns are not always included in the making and baking!
Sour Cream-Banana Bars
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas ( about 3 large)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Browned Butter Frosting (see below)
Heat oven to 375. Grease and flour jelly roll pan. 15 1/2 x 10 1/x 1inch. Mix sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs in large mixer bowl on low speed, scraping bowl often 1 minute. Beat in bananas and vanilla on low speed 30 seconds. Beat in flour, salt and baking soda on medium speed, scraping bowl often 1 minute. Stir in nuts. Spread dough in pan. Bake until light brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool; frost with frosting below. Cut into bars. 4 dozen cookies
Browned Butter Frosting
Heat 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until delicate brown; remove from heat. Mix in 2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth and of spreading consistency.

National Poetry Month #19

When We Were Poets

Language wasn’t ashamed of us.
We lived like our poems,
nailed words into a chair
if we dreamed of a chair.
We listened to the rain and remembered
speech is a gift each time.
We put it all on the line, every poem
necessary as a button.
We knew our purpose. We stood like elms:
didn’t plaster our names everywhere,
we unpeeled ourselves to write
epithalamia for heaven marrying earth
in a million meadows. Life was big enough!
We could wait out the winter
for real plums.
- Shelby Allen

Day is Done

"The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night." Longfellow

As another day is done in the country and just as the darkness falls, that is the time I reflect on the tasks that are always on a list to do. Spring brings busyness as roses begin to show life, bugs appear, weeds have proven once again that winter is their friend, and birds are building nests.
Outdoor Spring list:
Clean out the rabbit hutch and add the "cold manure" to the flower plants.
Replenish the dirt in the window boxes to enrich the soil mix.
Begin deciding if some roses are dead or alive, and if dead decide what will go in the spot.
Revisit the memorials for our dear, deceased dogs and see if the honor plants are thriving.
Put out garden decor that moved inside for winter.

Decide the best way to tackle the "grass issue".
Examine the deck and decide if it can go one more year without a paint job.
Plan color schemes for the containers around the yard for this year.

I do love the busyness of gardening in the spring. Tomorrow is another day. I will tackle another item on the Ourtdoor Spring list.

National Poetry Month, Poem #18

When there was air, when you could
breathe any day if you liked, and if you
wanted to you could run, I used to
climb those hills back of town and
follow a gully so my eyes were at ground
level and could look out through grass as the
bent in their tensile way, and see snow
mountains follow along, the way distance goes.

Now I carry those days in a tiny box
wherever I go. I open the lid like this
and let the light glimpse and then glance away.
There is a sigh like my breath when I do this.
Some days I do this again and again.

-William Stafford

Sibling Assignment #19: Twenty Ways You Know You Grew Up In Kellogg, Idaho

A blogging friend Mommy Dearest posted Are You Real Athol?, here, and so Silver Valley Girl decided that she and Raymond Pert and I should write a similar list about our hometown of Kellogg, Idaho for our Weekly Sibling Assignment. Here are my twenty:
1. You remember that when the ski resort was first built it was called Jackass Ski Bowl. You saw sweatshirts with a jackass and thought it was funny to say the town was discovered by a jackass. Then the resort was Silverhorn and now Silver Mountain.

2. You can find Vergobbi Gulch, Elizabeth Park, Montgomery Gulch, Little Italy, Sunset Heights, Wardner, Ross Ranch, Sunnyside, Rose Hill, Milo Creek, Haystack Peak, and Teddy Street.

3. When Kellogg had Crazy Days in July you and flocks of other women rifled through the tables at Patano’s Clothing Store to buy Jantzen sportswear at “crazy” prices.

4. You have watched a football game from Tony’s porch.

5. You remember raking leaves into the street in the fall, having your dad light them on fire, and carrying that smoky smell back into the house on your jacket.

6. You rode your bike to the new pool and didn’t have to remember your green bag number. They had brass pins you wore on your suit to help you remember. Later you could stop at the Circle K and get a treat for the way home.

7. You went to elementary school at the old Sunnyside School before the big smiley face guy with sunglasses moved to the roof when Dave Smith Motors bought the building.

8. You sledded down Chestnut Hill starting all the way at the top and flying down to Mission Avenue.

9. You grew up with the phrases “Lead Creek”, “Smelter Smoke”, and “Polio Pond.”

10. You ordered food to go at the Miner’s Hat, The Boat, and the S&R Drive In. At the S&R they put the burgers in a Wonder Bread cardboard bun holder with the fries in the bottom. At the Boat and the Miner’s Hat they brought your order on a tray that hooked to your car window. 11. You can remember the location of Sass Jewelry ( bonus points for both locations), Western Auto, Al’s Cleaners, Safeway, Blackwell Printing, The Rock Motel, the Shoe Box, Weber Bank, Donna’s, the original Greyhound Bus Depot, Pleasant Homes, and Kellogg Billiards.

12. You remember the old junior high at the corner of Division and Main before it was torn down and the students moved to the present location by the overpass. The kindergarten class was in the basement and the teachers could smoke upstairs in the lounge.

13. You bought penny candy at Walden’s, Swanson’s, Donnie’s, Pat’s Grocery, and Ben Franklin. It was cool to smoke candy cigarettes.

14.You remember the burning sensation in your throat every morning and some days the haze from the Smelter Smoke kept you from seeing much below the third floor of the high school.

15. You made a wish and threw pennies in Jacob’s Creek in the breezeway at Kellogg High School.

16. You remember the Rena Theater when the line coiled around the Superior Dairy for a Friday night showing of a Jerry Lewis movie.

17. You did the best slow dance at a Northwest Metals dance to “Cherish” by the Association.

18. You attended the Sunnyside School Chili Feed, the Oyster Feed at the United Church, the pasty feed at the Elks, and had Silver King PTA Sloppy Joes at Frontier Days.

19. You have marched, threw candy from a float, drove a car, sat on a horse, rode a bicycle or stood on the street at an Elk’s Round-Up Parade.

20. You are glad you live close enough now to drive down for the week-end so you can keep the memories of Kellogg fresh in your mind.

National Poetry Month, Poem #17

Since Hanna Moved Away

The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December’s come to stay.
They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.

Flowers smell like halibut.
Velvet feels like hay.
Every handsome dog’s a mutt
Since Hanna moved away.

Nothing’s fun to laugh about.
Nothing’s fun to play.
They call me, but I won’t come out
Since Hanna moved away.

Judith Viorst

I think most people remember that day when a friend moved away. When I had a student that was sad over a friend moving, this poem helped put their feelings into words.

a prayer

"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." James 4:8
My prayers are with the staff, students,
and families of Virginia Tech.

Learning About My Surroundings Through the Eyes of My Dogs and Cats

As I was studying my collection of digital pictures in computer files tonight my first thought was how thankful I am that we now own a digital camera and haven't spent so much money on film and developing ( especially when we felt the need to record sixteen poses of a cat on a fence). I love that little delete button. The picture above is of Isabelle on a post observing another cat.

My second thought was how similar themes began to emerge in the collection of pictures. Many were taken from the same angle, or with the same type of lighting. I couldn't help but notice the numerous pictures of our cats and dogs as they observe the world through their eyes. The two pictures above are perfect examples. Shelby loves to observe through windows. In one picture she is watching our cat Iris basking in the sun. In the second one she is wondering why I have a silver thing over my face that flashes and why Isabelle is in and she is out.

The cats above are Sweet William, Lily, McDuff and Finnegan. They are the cats that observe a dog in "their domain" and seem a bit put out. They also observe any strange cat that comes close to the property. They never miss mice and bugs. They are a busy bunch.Here is Annie when she discovered a birdhouse yesterday that was making noise. She then observed that a swallow was building a nest in that birdhouse (The birdhouse is very high and safe). She was fascinated with the nest building project and watched intently in this position for quite awhile. Until I saw her in that position, I hadn't even notice the swallow.

I learn even more about my surroundings by observing my cats and dogs. They often notice things that would have gone right by me. Pets are a joy in our lives, especially when they are observant to the world in which they live.