A Gathering of Four Friends

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away. " George Eliot

There are four of us that are dear friends. We are connected by teaching, learning, and my school. These three women have been an intrical part of making my school a better place. They care about our students. One works with me every day and the other two have been consultants that have been a support at our school. All of them are dear friends. JB is going through cancer treatment right now.
We traveled through the snow to her place tonight. We brought food, flowers, and encouragement. She is losing her hair, but not her strength or sense of humor. We reminenced, laughed, ate, and enjoyed that comfort of our friendship. We shared new learnings with JB from the conference we attended today. She asked questions and offered advice. It was a special evening gathering around the table with three other dear friends.

Snow in April?

I left home yesterday morning while snow was still hanging on the tree branches from yet another snowfall. As I gazed at the stark tree branches I did try to imagine the trees covered with spring buds in three months. As I adjusted my hat and put on my gloves I looked longingly at the garden gloves sitting close by on the shelf.

My principal and I traveled south to Spokane after school for a state education conference. As a passenger I witnessed cars in the ditch, cars sliding from lane to lane, and making 180 turns. I felt safe in VE's Jeep and I didn't care that she was only driving 40 mph. We arrived to the Snowy City safe.
After attempting to walk around the convention center it was easier to understand why the schools were closed down in this city.The sidewalks were either buried or covered with ice. As the shuttle bus driver negotiated the hill at our hotel he announced over his shoulder that he heard we were going to have snow until April. Snow in April?
Perhaps I should get used to the bare branches on the shrubs around my house... or imagine blossoms on the flowering plum with a dusting of snow.

Weekend Snapshots: Teacher Time

Those of us in the teaching field have certain cycles that are rituals throughout the school year. Around this time for many of us it is the changing of semesters. For me that means a weekend of reading essays, figuring grades, and scoring exams. My weekend photos have a narrow focus. Brewing a favorite blend of coffee and listening to some of my favorite music made the time pass in a pleasant way. I feel good. It is Sunday afternoon and I am all done with time to spare. I did take a break yesterday and took Lily on a tour of the greenhouse. She was excited to explore around the pots. I was excited to check my plants that are wintering over.

To find other weekend snapshots go here.

Sibling Assignment #52: Sunday Dinner

photo by emilybean on flickr

I gave the sibling assignment this week. " Many say what is lacking with families today is that time sitting together at the dinner table discussing the events of the day. Here is your topic: Think of a memorable time when our whole family was gathered at a dinner table and your reflections on that memory." You will find very different conversations around the table from Raymond Pert's here and Silver Valley Girl's here .

We were a family that sat at the kitchen table to eat dinner. I don't ever remember using the TV trays for regular dinner. I think they only came out for holidays,when company came, or when Dad had to watch a certain game on TV. There were certain rituals surrounding dinner. We always ate earlier on bowling night and if Mom had meetings after school we would eat later. Mom did all the cooking when we, the sibs lived at home. As my sister and I got older we were given some of the responsibility. We all had assigned chairs at the table and my brother and I always fought about doing the dishes. At least Dad reminded us of that long after we left home.

Even though dinner was served every night all the family wasn't always there. Dad would work overtime or be on call sometimes. Raymond Pert would be at sports practice. I might be at Camp Fire or play practice. Silver Valley Girl may have been at dancing or tumbling. If dinner was missed Mom always had a plate covered with foil waiting in the oven or canned chili or stew available to be heated up.
Our father was the epitome of pickiness when it came to dinner food. For that reason we never experienced dishes like tuna casserole or lasagna. Leftovers had to be creative. We got to enjoy two French foods: french fries and french dips. If Dad didn't relish the home cooked meal on a given day we always knew it when the peanut butter jar and a loaf of white bread came out at the end of dinner.

Often the conversation was spirited when Mom shared stories about kids at school and we laughed at what happened that day. If Dad had been working lots of overtime the dinner table felt tense and we gulped our food hoping to catch a rerun of Leave It to Beaver or go outside for an after dinner game of hide and seek with the neighborhood kids. Dinnertime at 516 W. Cameron often was a hectic time on any given week.

Things changed on Sunday. Mom and Dad were a bit more rested. There wasn't a rush to get dinner done because of a PTA meeting or Dad taking off for his moonlighting job at the Sunshine Inn. Dad always liked what we had for Sunday dinner. Even after a week of teaching, laundry, cleaning, and keeping us in line Mom often made homemade bread and rolls on Sunday.

The most memorable dinner we had was navy beans cooked in ham and homemade bread. Dad would always say this dinner tasted " just like his Mom's". That made Mom smile. I remember Mom soaking the beans overnight. When I was really young we had one burner on the stove that had a built in pan that sat deeper than the other burners. Mom always used that for the beans. When the burner quit working she still used that same pan on a different burner. Even after crockpots became vogue Mom always made this signature dish on the stove.
There was the strong aroma of yeast as Mom prepared the bread dough. Watching the bread rise on top of the refrigerator was a timetable as to when dinner might be. I knew when she punched down the dough it was getting closer. The smell of the thick beans simmering on the stove and the bread baking in the oven was heavenly. As we waited for dinner we would write our names in the steam that had collected on the picture window in the living room and Dad would watch the last minutes of a sporting event on TV.

While savoring this favorite Sunday dinner Dad would reminisce about his extended family from back east or tell entertaining stories about Aunt Hattie. His favorite was to bring up how much she ate the last time she came to visit from Tennessee. He always talked in a funny southern accent and mimicked Hattie's drawl when he told those stories. Dinner was relaxed. Everyone laughed. We often got an added treat if Mom made Whip and Chill or Jello pudding that she served in cocktail glasses and topped with whipped cream. ( note: That was real whipped cream. Mr. Picky wouldn't hear of Dream Whip or "that stuff in a can".)

Whether it was beans and bread, pot roast, ham (which the bone went in the freezer for the bean dish) , or homemade vegetable soup Sunday dinner was a fine time to gather around the table at my childhood home.
photo by Dazed81 on flickr

Photo Hunt: Old Fashioned

I have posted about The Garden Valley Church before. Our church is old fashioned in itself. It sits on a hill on Lake Ellen Road where it has been since 1912. It is about a mile and a half from our house. Electricity and heat have been added to the church building. We function without running water or indoor bathrooms. There is a cemetery behind the church and horses were winter feeding next to the church last Sunday.
We also had an old fashioned Box Social after the Sunday service last week. The women made the lunches to feed two and the men donated to the building fund. Even though many couldn't attend church last Sunday due to the snow and bad roads we still had a grand time. A variety of lunches arrived and people enjoyed good food and conversation. My mom shared with me that she had gone to Box Socials at the Grange when she was growing up. I think this was my first Box Social!
We had a delicious lunch that included meatballs, baked beans, fruit salad, and a yummy apple date cake.

For other photo hunters using Old Fashioned go here .

Sunday Scribblings: Miscellaneous

When I hear the word miscellaneous I remember when it was a bonus word on a spelling list in elementary school . I now just write misc. so I don't have to check the spelling. I have misc. computer files, misc. music files, and a misc. category in my recipe box.

Today I decided to share miscellaneous pictures. These pictures would all fall into a file called "misc. cold weather pictures." When I arrived at school today my temperature gauge in the car read -3. I keep hearing it may warm up this week-end. Did you ever think 20 degrees would be a heatwave?
JEJ caught this magnificent sunrise with the clouds lifting from the lake this morning.
This icicle reminds me of a backbone.

The gazebo is cold and foreboding. A few days ago I caught the early sunset.

But of course there are cat pictures in every misc. file. Kit and Isabelle decided they would wait for the heatwave to go back out and watch for birds.

You can find other Sunday Scribblings on Miscellaneous here.

ABC Meme

My blog friend at Dog's Eye View had this meme posted and I thought I would give it a try.

A - Age: 53

B - Band listening to right now: Chicago (still love them after all these years)

C - Career future: teaching and writing and perhaps publishing

D - Dad’s name: Raymond Pert

E - Easiest person to talk to: my friend VE

F - Favorite type of shoe: Land's End All Weather Mocs in red

G - Grapes or Grapefruit: Grapes, grape jam, grape juice, wine, and raisins

H - Hometown: Kellogg, Idaho

I- Instrumental talent: Flute and piano (kinda)

J-Juice of choice: fresh squeezed orange

K - Koala Bear or Panda Bear: Panda Bear because I think they are amazing animals

L - Longest car ride ever: to central California with a 36 hour stop on top of Mount Shasta because of the road being closed

M - Middle name: Ann

N - Number of jobs you’ve had: let's see, babysitter, camp counselor,at a newspaper, in a store, drive-in restaurant, a gym equipment room at U. of Idaho, janitor assistant, lifeguard, teacher and writer

O - OCD traits: location of plants in garden beds and specific pots we put things in

P - Phobia: heights

Q - Quote: "Each moment of the year has its own beauty... a picture which has never been seen before and which shall never be seen again." Ralph Waldo Emerson

R - Reason to smile: My husband warmed up the car , carried out my stuff, and opened the gate in subzero temperatures this morning.

S - Song you sang last: Drift Away by Uncle Kracker with some students today

T - Time you wake up: On work days, usually around 6

U - Unknown fact about me: I can't back up very well in a car.

V - Vegetable you hate: I only hate mushy canned peas.

W - Worst habit: procrastinating

X - X-rays you’ve had: Teeth, mammogram

Y - Yummiest food your belly likes: That is a tough one... my belly does love a good steak.

Z - Zodiac Sign: Capricorn

You may also enjoy this meme!

Clam Chowder: A Keeper from the Recipe Box

When the weather is so frigid soups and chowders are perfect dishes to serve for lunch or dinner. Years ago there was a recipe contest in the Tri-City Herald when I lived in Kennewick. This clam chowder recipe was the winner, but I regret I have lost the original so I can't give credit to the creator. This recipe has become a favorite at home and when our family gathers around the table in Kellogg. It freezes well and has also been one of my most requested recipes. It is a keeper!

Clam Chowder
3 cups boiling water and clam juice
5 chicken bullion cubes
1 3/4 c. cubed potatoes
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 c. butter
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 c. flour
3 cups grated jack cheese
1 TB parsley
2 or more cans of chopped clams

Dissolve bullion cubes in boiling clam water. Add all veggies and butter. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer until veggies are done.
Combine milk and flour in the blender or food processor. Add to soup and cook 3-5 minutes. Add cheese and cook until melted. Add parsley, thyme, and clams. Heat 1-2 minutes.
Serves 6-8

Window Beauty Inside and Out

A greenhouse window in the kitchen shows off the beauty of the houseplants as the sunshine streams through the colored vases and the suncatcher.
At the other end of the house the frigid temperatures were easier to take once the sun came up setting off the clear blue sky over the other side of the lake. As the light bounced off another suncatcher on the deck it made a lovely rainbow through the window.

Weekend Snapshots: Kit in Snow

The snow has piled up to about fifteen inches again in northeastern Washington . Part of the weekend was spent watching our kitten Kit navigate deep drifts, walk on the deck railing heaped with snow, and birdwatching Kit style!

This is the table that was on my header recently.Does Kit think the birds will join him in the feeder?
He pauses for another photo pose.It's harder to stay on the railing when the snow is deeper.

Kit just couldn't figure out a way to shimmy up that pole to eat with the birds!

Happy weekend. Enjoy other weekend snapshots here.

Sibling Assignment # 51: The Heart and Soul of Silver King School

The roof callapsed from heavy snow on January 11th at Silver King School in Kellogg, Idaho. This was the place my mother taught school for many years, I attended first grade, we spend hours outside of school with Mom as she worked in her classroom. After high school I continued to revisit this school on the summer crew that helped paint and clean schools, substitute teaching , and practiced basketball for a town league team.

The school was located under the shadow of the smoke stack at the Bunker Hill Smelter and was bordered by Lead Creek which ran down the hill from the Zinc Plant. We thought nothing of the polluted soil, water, and air that surrounded us. When enrollment went down after Bunker Hill closed the school was used for the bus garage and storage.

Silver Valley Girl gave us the sibling assignment this week. “In light of the collapse of Silver King School , let’s share a story involving Silver King School. “ You will find RP’s here and SVG’s is here. I shared another story entitled The Stock Room about Silver King School that you can find here.

There are images you remember as a child that may blend together into a story that you believe more in your mind. One memory of Silver King School were the bottles in the windows at the end of long elementary hall. There was a two story wall of windows with sills that held bottles filled with different colors of water. This picture was the closest I could find as to how it really looked. When the sun shone through these windows instead of seeing the barren hills killed by the smelter smoke you saw prisms of light dancing along the hallway. I can remember looking way up at those bottles wondering how someone got them up there so high. I think it was a job held by B. Gulman. Another image that has remained with me was the fire escape upstairs in the lunch room. We climbed upstairs and ate lunch in this attic type room. As an impressionable first grader I saw the fire escape that hung on the side of the building each day as Mom parked our car in the back of the building. I don’t know if I just feared going down that fire escape during a drill or if we really did it. I just know those black ironworks stairs and my fear of heights still remain in my memory over forty years later.Entering an older school building as an adult we often remember the smells of wax , wood varnish, wet boots, borax hand powder, and hot lunch and it takes us back to where we started school. Silver King School had these smells. The older building I work in now has the same smells. The green chalkboard is gone, diminishing the chalk smell. We use more environmentally safe cleaners and don’t get that strong hit of disinfectant. Remembering Silver King School my mind recalls the mix of shiny floors, heat registers, cloak rooms, polished desks, and chalkboards. I remember big windows that brought sunlight in after the smelter smoke lifted. Bulletin boards reminded us of spring flowers, Thanksgiving pilgrims, and Washington’s cherry tree. Cooks dished up Witches Brew, homemade rolls, and sloppy joes. The lyrics of “Here Comes Santa Claus” brought Santa in after the Christmas program with brown bags of goodies for all. Long ago Mrs. Germo put away the empty pencil box she filled with hard candy that we could earn as a treat. Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, and Puff were all put away in boxes. The old typewriter we used to compose writing has long since been packed away. I don’t even know what was still left in the building. Last spring we drove by Silver King School and were dismayed to see the windows boarded up and things in disarray. The sight was even harder on my mom. Looking at the pictures of the collapse of the roof brought deep sadness. The bricks, iron works, glass and wood that formed the foundation of this beautiful building for many years are crumbling . The words we write will keep the heart and soul of this building alive for those of us that keep on remembering.

Photo Hunt: Important

Birthdays are a rich tradition in my family. Today is the important birthday of an important person in my life... my mother. I love this picture of Mom, Dad and I washing dishes at my Grandma Woolum's house in Spokane. Seeing the details in this kitchen with my mom close beside me brings me comfort. This was a photo taken of Silver Valley Girl and Mom at Christmas the year she was born. I love the way Mom's joy and love for SVG radiates in her face. Mom is enjoying turkey with Raymond Pert at his first Thanksgiving and this was taken as she departed from my house after a wonderful Thanksgiving week-end this year. She is a vibrant woman that continues in her seventies to do the things she loves: gardening, crosswords, traveling, spending time with family, cooking and baking. Her reassuring voice has always been at the other end of the phone or next to me as I have made my challenging journey through life.

Happy Birthday Mom!
You can find other photo hunters using important here.

Sunday Scribblings: Fellow Travelers

This week's Sunday Scribbling topic is Fellow Travelers. I have had many traveling companions through my life, but today I am going to honor Nikki and Lucy. These two loyal travelers are the first two dogs I owned during my adult life. They traveled with me through the first half of my teaching career, my pursuit of a Master's Degree, a broken marriage, saying good-bye to a wide circle of friends, the death of my father, and relocating to a new job and new place to live.

Nikki came into my life in 1981. She came from a farm in the Horse Heaven Hills south of Kennewick, Washington. From the first day this springer spaniel shivered in my arms on the way home she captured my heart. She was docile, intelligent and loyal. You could always get her excited by taking her swimming in the river, hunting in the orchards behind the house, or having "kissing sessions." Lucy joined our family in 1990. She was a springer/cocker/maybe poodle mix and Nikki and Lucy became fast and furious friends. They loved doing all the same activities. Lucy's energetic personality balanced Nikki's calmer one.

When my ex-husband left us these two became protective of me at home and on the road. We enjoyed trips to the ocean, southern Idaho, and moved to Moscow, Idaho one summer when I taught at the University of Idaho. I always felt safe as I began my journey as a single person with these fellow travelers.

Relocating to Inchelium was a big change for all of us, but Lucy took over the guiding role as she steered Nikki around as her eyesight faded. I think they were both the most at home in my present house. They could run the acres, not worry about gardens( not much was planted yet). and we were close to the lake.

In the spring of 1996 my father's health began to fail along with Nikki's. As my dad spent his last weeks at home dying of cancer Nikki was getting thinner and seemed a bit lost in the world. Dad died in June and Nikki in July that year. Lucy and me were left as fellow travelers for the next chapter in our lives. You can read another post I wrote about Lucy and Nikki here.

Nikki is pointing for the first time and going for a stick in Rose Lake. Lucy is trying out our new home in Inchelium and resting on the grass as a puppy.

You can read other posts about Fellow Travelers here.

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged by Myrtle Beach Ramblings for the following meme.

A.Share 5 random and/or weird facts about yourself:
1. I have those sticky pet hair removers in my purse, car, and teacher desk.
2. I still have a scar on my arm from running through a window when I was five.
3. JEJ says I am very dependable and take my responsibilities seriously.
4. I am very loyal to my family, friends, and students.
5. I am picky about the type of pens I use, especially if I am writing in my journal.

B. Share five places on my "want to see or want to see again list":
1. The Olympic Peninsula in Washington state
2. Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence Seaway
3. Yellowstone National Park
4. Washington, D.C.
5. The Sawtooths in Idaho

C. Five things I never pictured being in my future when I was twenty-five years old:
1. a laptop computer
2. espresso stands
3. living a peaceful life in the country with gardens, a wonderful husband, two dogs, seven cats, and two rabbits.
4. price of gas.
5. My father dying before his time and my mom having breast cancer.

Feel free to do this meme. I will let you tag yourself.
These are the rules :
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. A. Share 5 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog;
B. Share the 5 top places on your “want to see or want to see again” list;
C. Share 5 things you never pictured being in your future when you were 25 years old.
3. Tag a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.The tagees have a choice of which they want to do.

You Make My Day Award

The You Make My Day Award is given to 'people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel so happy about blogland.' I want to thanks nonisamboni for the kind words she said about me in giving me this award. She is also a native of Idaho, but is now adjusting to life in Minnesota. Her blog Blue Peacock is a mix of music, favorite books, lovely flowers, and memorable thoughts about the people and places in her life.

The blogs I read provide me with a mixture of inspiration, appreciation, knowledge, and laughter. I am honoring just three today, but any day all the blogs on the roll could get awards.

Katrina's Notes on a Napkin: Her blog was one of the first I began reading via my brother's blog comments. She takes the delightful and not-so-delightful snippets of life as a wife and mother and weaves the happenings into stories that bring me happiness and inspiration. She has had memorable posts about treasures her son placed inside the bed frame and "these little lights of mine."

Seeing life from A Dog's Eye View brings me happiness and inspiration every day. L^2, her two yellow labs Willow(her dog guide), and Stella (the pet), and a camera illustrate to us each day the gorgeous photography of simple homemade cookies, Stella in the tub, or Willow on the job. She also has her photography and other photo gifts for sale on her blog.

Marcy's My Knitting and Other Stuff is another blog that brings me happiness and inspiration. We have found in the last year that we have so much in common, we laugh back and forth at our posts. I have never knitted in my life, but am inspired by her beautiful projects. Whether she is sharing thoughts in Sunday Scribblings, relaying stories about her Grand Dolly, or reminding us of those quirks in life that make us laugh her blog makes my day.

Everything is Equal in The Snow

"Everything is equal in the snow: all trees, all lawns, all streets, all rooftops, all cars.
Everything is white, white, white, as far as you can see.
Covered by snow, the well-kept and neglected lawns look the same.
The snow hides the shiny newness of a just-bought car as effectively
as it does the rust and dents of a ten-year-old one.
Everything looks clean and fresh and unmarred by time or use.
Snow, like the silent death it counterfeits, is a great leveler. "
-Adrienne Ivey

A Cactus by Any Other Name Still Smells as Sweet

Remember... I was the person that couldn't get a Christmas Cactus to bloom at any time of the year. Then last fall we got our first one to bloom around Thanksgiving. Now JEJ brought this one in from the greenhouse. The blossoms resemble a tropical plant. We could call this the Winter Cactus, Birthday Cactus, or Soon to be My Mom's Birthday Cactus.
JEJ said the only thing he has done differently this year is to give these blooming plants more fertilizer. I guess the combination of cool temperatures, light, and plant food as produced these revived Christmas cactus'.
There is only about five of these lovely blossoms on the plant so far. Wait until it is in full bloom. Stay tuned. If you want read some past posts about Christmas cactus go here and here.