Clouds, Dad's, and Sunset

We did a final shopping trip today to Spokane before school starts. We watched the clouds as we headed south toward Spokane via Kettle Falls and Colville.

This is a picture I took from the car of the cloud formations near Chewelah.We always stop at our favorite coffee stand at the south end of Chewelah. It is called Dad's Espresso.

They have beautiful perennials surrounding the property, especially around the sign by the highway. They are friendly, they make great coffee drinks, and the owner loves to talk horses with JEJ.
One of my favorite highlights of a trip down Highway 395 is to see what they have put on the reader board at this coffee stand. Today's message was perfect for this weekend.
Annie was caught between the bars of the dog gate in the back end of the car. She looked like she was posing for America's Most Wanted Dog. She was disappointed this espresso stand didn't hand out dog bones.
We watched the temperature rise, the clouds move in, lightning strike, and rain fall as we drove to Office Depot, Costco, Zip's, Northtown Mall, Target, and Walmart. When we returned home after a long shopping day, the sky had cleared as we relaxed on the deck. The day's activities started early, but we got a lot accomplished. This was the view JEJ caught as the sun began to set. We love days that include good coffee, laughs in the car, changing weather patterns, lunch, photo opportunities, and cool enough weather that the dogs can enjoy it. Today was one of those days.

Thursday Thirteen: Road Trip Photos

Thursday Thirteen is a meme I enjoy on many blogs each week.The original site is here. This beautiful header was created by samulli here.

I was inspired by the Thursday Thirteen meme this week at Dog's Eye View. Here is mine:

This summer my siblings and I organized some outings to beautiful places around the inland empire of Washington and Idaho. We experimented with our digital cameras, appreciated many beautiful places, enjoyed good food, and had lots of laughs. Here are my thirteen favorite photo images from our summer outings. A few automatically repeated!

Books That Have Changed Lives

Every summer I have high aspirations of moving through a list of "must-read" books. Now here it is time for my summer to wind down and I gaze longingly at the basket of still unread books wishing I had just a few more weeks to immerse myself in reading. I love to read and I love a variety of books. A fascinating volume I just finished was " The Book That Changed My Life" edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen. Writers wrote short essays on books that changed their lives. Some were expected and others were surprising. Here is a sample of the powerful words these writers penned about the books that changed their lives:

Jacquelyn Mitchard chose "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. " She writes," I take from this book lessons in writing, courage, and the absolutely intransigent necessity for utter honesty. Perhaps because of who I am , and from whence I came, nothing else between two covers has ever meant more to me." That makes me want to read this classic again.

A favorite title many writers chose was "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. Susan Vreeland writes," Atticus's lessons of respect for all people and his efforts to instill in Scout a sensitive awareness of others culminate when she greets Arthur Radley with the simplicity of 'Hey, Boo'. It's one of the greatest lines in literature because it acknowledges a human being naturally, on his own terms, without requiring anything of him in return, which is the highest kind of love." I related because I remember getting to that scene in the book and having tears streaming down my face as Scout first greeted Boo Radley. This book changed my life also.

A book I have always wanted to read is "I Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown . After reading what Sebastian Junger expressed in his essay about this book I am more convinced I need to add it to my list. "We wiped out 90 per cent of the native population-even using Gatling guns against Sioux and Cheyenne villages in the last years of conflict. By any modern standard, that is genocide. Dee Brown's great service was to bring that painful truth to a country he clearly loved." When I converse with elders in the community where I teach this book often comes up. The words of Dee Brown helped many of these Native Americans come to terms with the history of their people. I hope to read it soon.

A few other titles recommended in this book are:
" The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
"Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Nancy Drew Mysteries" by Carolyn Keene
"The Great Gatsby" by F.Scott Fitzgerald
"The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell
the Works of Shakespeare
the Bible
"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte

For book lovers that are always looking for titles to add to a must-read list, this book is a good resource. What books would you add this list that have changed your life? Please share and I will post a book list on the blog.
The love for reading began early for my brother and I. This is a picture I treasure of our dad reading to us on our parent's bed when we were very young.

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The Blue Between

The Blue Between

Everyone watches clouds,
naming creatures they've seen.
I see sky differently,
I see the blue between-

The blue woman tugging
her stubborn cloud across the sky
The blue giraffe stretching
to nibble a cloud floating by.

A pod of dancing dolphins,
cloud oceans, cargo ships,
a boy twirling his cloud
around a thin blue fingertip.
In those smooth wide places,
I see a different scene.
In those cloudless spaces,
I see blue between.
by Kristine O'Connell George

photos taken by inland empire girl around northeastern Washington.


One week from tonight I will be eagerly anticipating my first day of school. I will set the alarm for earlier than usual, make sure my " first day of school clothes" are ready, and find my coffee mug and lunch bag. Right now this hall looks quiet, but next Tuesday it will once again be filled with excited voices of middle school students. As I begin my thirty-first year of teaching I still get butterflies thinking about the first day of school. This year I will loop the 7th and 8th grade languge arts students I had last year, so we will pick up where we left on in the spring- which is nice. We have built a community of learners. They have writing waiting on computers to be finished. Books they didn't have time to read are on the shelves. We will all have stories to tell about what has happened since we said good-bye in June.
The classroom sits empty and bare, but soon the walls will be filled with learning materials, the tables will be heaped with notebooks, and the floor will be covered with backpacks. Students will find their assigned seats, sharpen their new pencils, and life in the classroom will begin again. I can't wait to see my students again.

" I Get That Sinking Feeling...": Sunday Scribblings

I get that sinking feeling when I remember my dog Emily Elizabeth and fireworks. I adopted Emily Elizabeth in the summer of 1996. I had just moved into the home I live in now. It had been a difficult spring and summer. My father had died in June, my 15-year-old springer spaniel Nikki had died in July. I was living alone with another dog Lucy, a springer/cocker mix. That August I decided it was time to get another dog.

I found Emily at the Kootenai County Humane Society in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She had been running loose on Kathleen Ave. After she was picked up nobody came to claim her. She came with some fears. She was uneasy walking across door jams. She was nervous around campfires. Brooms made her run away. Her biggest fear was fireworks. When loud firecrackers and fireworks started their noisy prelude the first days of July each year I knew we were in trouble with Emily.

The first year she hid in the closet. Another time she scratched the carpet trying to get into the bedroom where she felt safe. When the Fourth of July came around I always got that sinking feeling for Emily.

After JEJ and I were married we decided one year we would go with friends to watch the fireworks display in Colville. The dogs were safe in our fenced land. Emily was handling the holiday noise very well. When our friends came to pick us up Emily began to show nervousness by pacing around and I got that sinking feeling I should stay home. I almost said something as I looked over my shoulder uneasily when we drove away. Emily was standing at the gate panting and pacing nervously. Why didn’t I listen to my gut?

When we returned home a few hours later Emily was gone. Once again I got that sinking feeling. Why didn’t I stay home? Why did we have to go and watch fireworks that weren’t that entertaining? I was angry at myself. I was also frantic.

We called her and searched our property first. No holes were found around the fences. I checked closets, sheds, any places she may have taken refuge. I was not brave enough to go drive along the county road calling her name. I made JEJ go. I couldn’t deal with seeing her hit by a car or injured along the road. If she came home I wanted to be here. I continued to call her, search, and pray.

JEJ returned and reported he had seen no sign of Emily. It was now getting very late and I attempted to go to sleep. I tossed and turned as I wondered where Emily may have gone to escape the loud noises of the fireworks. I couldn’t lose the sinking feeling.

I got up very early the next morning and decided I needed to go walk around our neighborhood and call her. When I opened the gate here came a wet and dirty Emily Elizabeth. When she saw me her eyes lit up and her tail wagged. I ran to greet her and covered myself with her dirt and smelly water. I yelled to JEJ that Emily was home. Relief.

She was tired and hungry, but unharmed. She was nervous, but happy to be home. The other dogs greeted her with enthusiasm. We will never know where Emily went, but we suspect she jumped the gate and went down into the gully where Martin Creek flows. The rushing water may have masked the loud noises of the firecrackers in the neighborhood.

Since that ordeal we have never left our dogs alone during that time around the Fourth of July. Even if a dog doesn’t seem bothered by the noise, one firecracker can put them into panic.
I also learned through this experience that when I get that sinking feeling, I need to listen to what my gut tells me.

Emily died in December of 2004. She enriched our lives and taught us many important lessons about life. We loved her and miss her every day.
You can read other Sunday Scribblings here.

Sibling Writing Assignment #33: Still Life After a Dry Period

I gave the sibling assignment this week.
We were to use the topic Still Life
with words and pictures.
Raymond Pert's is here and Silver Valley Girl's is here.
With the weather conditions we have experienced
in August I am surprised I still have life in the gardens.
Lack of water, dry winds, warm nights,
and hundred degree afternoons
have challenged all our plants,
but these sunflowers came out victorious.When the rains, cooler breezes, and lower evening
temperatures came, these beautiful flowers lifted
their faces to heaven and smiled.

Final Road Trip: Republic, Curlew Lake, Second Hand Stores, and Doritos

Today we enjoyed one last road trip before my brother leaves and I begin my schedule of school preparation next week. We did a beautiful loop that included Highway 20 to Republic, north to Curlew Lake State Park and the town of Curlew, over Boulder Pass, then back to Barstow and down the Kettle River and home. It was an afternoon filled with great conversation, Doritos Collisions, second hand stores, ice cream bars, logging trucks, and photo shoots. We passed on bringing home the Moonshine kit.The lovely '70's avocado lamp was a diamond in the rough, but again I said no.
I loved these Office Hours, but didn't think it would work at school after Labor Day.

We couldn't figure out what this was or where we would put it, so it stayed on the hillside it was propped on when we left the second hand store.

Fondue seems more like a winter food so I resisted buying this also. The tours of two second hand stores reminded us that "one person's junk must be another person's treasure." For us the treasures were the mountains, lake, sunshine, and companionship. We will miss Raymond Pert and Snug when they leave tomorrow.

Garden Grab Bag for August

As we move into the last days of August our garden grab bag contains: incredible inpatients
a captivating cosmo

tasty tomatoes
a serene sunflower
beautiful begonias

hardy hydrangeas

Getting Reacquainted With Snug

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." Unknown Along with my brother Raymond Pert his dog Snug is also spending some time at our house. Snug is an English Springer Spaniel like our dog Annie. They are about four months apart in age. The dogs decided today to get reacquainted. Shelby, our red heeler is asking Snug above why he keeps jumping in the pond full of murky water. Our dogs taught Snug here how to drink out of the fountain when the adults weren't looking. Shelby and Snug were trying to decide whether to chase after the toy one more time. I think at this point this evening Annie and Snug decided if they posed together people may notice they are the same breed. Annie is on the left, Snug on the right. Annie and Shelby aren't used to being around too many other dogs, so they had to readjust to a cousin that likes to play chase, jump in and out of the ponds, and rub his face on the carpet. After catching many photos of the three of them tonight I think we all agree they are readjusting just fine.
If you want to see a beautiful video of Snug the Joiner done by Raymond Pert, go here.

Road Trip Over Tiger Highway Through Pend Oreille County

JEJ, Raymond Pert, and I took a road trip today through a part of Northeastern Washington that is a favorite for all of us. We headed east on Tiger Highway (Highway 20) from Colville toward Highway 31. Our first stop was at Crystal Falls. The clear, cascading water was situated between large rocks creating a perfect photo opportunity. Next we headed north on Highway 31 in Pend Oreille County and stopped above Box Canyon Dam. With the train trestle hugging the mountain it looked like it had always been there. The striking view looking north toward Canada and the Selkirk Mountains was enhanced by varied shades of green, gray, blue, and white. After stopping in Metaline Falls we looped around and headed toward Sullivan Lake. JEJ and I had been there a few years ago in the fall and thought the area around the lake was spectacular. Today was no different. The cloud cover and rain sprinkles gave Sullivan Lake a serene look. The road hugged the shore of the lake as we headed southwest. The campground was enclosed by a grove of trees creating a green reflection on the lake. A lone tent was pitched close to the water in the shadows.As we drove closer to Colville again the clouds began to depart, leaving the promise of a sunny late afternoon. Today was again a reminder of why we do much of our traveling in thiscorner of the Inland Empire. The beauty astounds me on every road trip.

Cats Are a Blessing!

"Of all domestic animals the cat is the most expressive. His face is capable of showing a wide range of expressions. His tail is a mirror of his mind. His gracefulness is surpassed only by his agility. And, along with all these, he has a sense of humor." - Walter Chandoha

Now that the cats are coming in more with the cooler mornings and rain I can get reacquainted with them and be reminded of how much each of them is unique in their own way. Finnigan and McDuff came together as kittens. Yes, believe it or not they are brothers. Finny is an elusive cat now. Sometimes we don't see him for days. He loved our deceased dog Lucy and followed her around in the yard, but now he wanders off to hunt and explore. McDuff is always around. He waits by the cat door in the morning for his breakfast. He sits under a shrub to keep cool in the afternoon. He sits on the wall in the evening behind us as we rest after dinner. He loves companionship and a nice tummy rub!
Sweet William and Lily came together from our friend's house when she died. They also are brother and sister. William is a affectionate cat and hangs around close by like he is above on a ladder that holds up hanging plants in the summer.
Lily's new favorite spot is on top of an old dog run that became a chicken yard. She loves to nap on the chicken wire and it works like a hammock. She has been scared by our older cat so she keeps her distance.

Iris is the cat that thinks she is royalty. She stays in the house the most. She loves to try to show the other cats that she's The Queen. I don't know if they believe that, but they usually stay out of her way. She had a twin sister Poppy that disappeared a few years ago.

The newest addition to our cat population is Isabelle. I love this picture where she is on the other side of the fence when I went to water plants on the dog graves one day. The family that rescued her was moving so we brought her home. We lost her brother Lucas when he was ill as a kitten.

Each of these cats are a blessing and they let us pamper them, hold them, comfort them, and make theirs lives as comfortable as possible. What more could you ask for?