Old Friends From Far Away

A few weeks ago on Sunday Scribblings Meg and Laini made reference to Natalie Goldberg's new book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Memoir. Loving Goldberg's other writing books and having a passion for memoir immediately motivated me to order this book! It arrived yesterday, but I haven't had time yet to read much of it, but I love what the author says in the introduction:

"Memoir is the study of memory, structured on the meandering way we remember. The thought of Cheerios ricochets back to a broken fence in our backyard one Nebraska spring, then hops over to the first time we stood before a mountain and understood kindness."

The book then begins with ten minute exercises that allow all of us to explore what we remember. I am eager to continue when time allows.
For me the thought of Quaker Puffed Rice takes me back to the pantry at my Grandma West's house on a cool summer morning. The smell of dill and I am in the cellar at my Grandma Woolum's house where this herb from the garden hung on the wall to dry. I meander back in front of a black and white T.V. when I taste buttered popcorn. I remember sticky fingers from the Hershey's Syrup can when I poured it on ice cream.

I look forward to more ten minute exercises as I visit old friends and memories from far away.

Top Ten Signs Spring Is Coming

Each day there are more hints that spring is around the bend. I watch the weather, not the calendar.

Top Ten Signs Spring Is Coming
10. The geraniums in the greenhouse are ready to be repotted. 9. By the looks of these leaves they are about ready to be propagated for new spring plants.

8. The sun is coming up earlier and we can view the sunrise on a clear morning.
7. Everywhere we look we find dog and cat hair.
6.Two words: Seed catalogues.
5. The strong smell of dead skunk is in the air as you travel to town.
4. The car barely missed a deer as they are getting more active in the evening.
3. The drawdown has begun on Lake Roosevelt and the island is showing again at the bridge.
2. I saw makings for strawberry shortcake on display at the store.
1. The number one sign that spring is coming....enough of the ice has melted in the driveway that you can use the sand path without falling three times while trying to get to the gate.

Think Like a Tree

I do love taking pictures of trees. I looked back over my blog posts and realized how many I have done on trees. They can take on a character of their own with the help of the camera. I also discovered this poem today. It was a reminder to me of why I like trees.

Think Like a Tree
by Karen I. Shragg
Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.

Moliere's "The Miser" A Smash Hit at The Sixth Street Theater

"The Miser" by Moliere opened last week-end at the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace, Idaho. My brother-in-law PKR masterfully directed and entertained the audience in the main role of Harpagon in this romantic farce. Here he is sharing the stage with La Fleche, played by Frank Peretti. My sister Silver Valley Girl was delightful in the role of Frosine, the matchmaker. Using her irresistible charm she created high drama as events of the play unfolded. She also put some love in the air. This comedy relief was created by my niece The Princess playing Harpagon's daughter Elise as she stuffed all the food she could get into her mouth. Food was scarce in the household of The Miser.

Here she is again my with my other two nieces. Z2 and Kiki Aru. They played Brindavoine and La Merluche, both servants to The Miser. Luke Crigger is in the background.

They opened to sold-out audiences and I can say that this family member laughed ( I think a bit too loudly) and enjoyed the whole production. It was inspiring to see the whole family in the production together. If you live in the Inland Empire and want ticket information you can go to my sister's blog here , see more pictures I took of the play here and for ticket information go to http://www.sixthstreetmelodrama.com/ .

Bravo to the cast and the behind the scene people. It was a fine production.

Weekend Snapshots: Jacob's Gulch

I took a walk along the grounds at the high school in my hometown this week-end. Jacob's Creek runs under the upper stories of the school toward the Coeur d'Alene River. The clouds, fog,and stark trees created a black and white feel yesterday.
Annie fit the theme as she crossed the bridge to head down "The Trail".
Enjoy other Weekend Snapshots here.

Photo Hunt: Wooden

I am visiting my childhood home in Kellogg this week-end. Wooden hardwood floors that have been waxed and polished with care by my mother for forty-five years still hold their beauty as I stand in my childhood bedroom doorway.

When carpet was added to the steps a wooden rail was added for safety. The wooden spindles were the only thing to grab before.

The wooden raised beds in Mom's yard appear to be topped with loaves of white bread while they wait for the spring thaw.
To find other photo hunters go here.

Sunday Scribblings: Passion for Poetry

" The poem is a little myth of man's capacity of making his life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see-it is , rather, a light by which we may see- and what we see it life."

-Robert Penn Warren

The topic for Sunday Scribblings this week is passion. Warren's quote is a reminder how poetry helps us see life. Since I was a small child I have been immersed in poetry. I pictured the vivid images of Robert Lewis Stevenson's words as my mother read from A Child's Garden of Verses. Mrs. T. in sixth grade introduced me to John Greenleaf Whittier and Walt Whitman. Lines of poetry found their way into my journals and empty books as I tried to find solace during quiet moments in college. Poetry is always a part of my classroom instruction. Files on my computer and cabinet are filled with copies of poetry that have stayed with me long after the first read. When the opportunity arises I attend poetry workshops.

Words are carefully chosen in poetry. Sound and rhythm can determine the lasting effect of a poem. Lessons are revealed and themes remain after enjoying a good poem. My passion for poetry inspires all my writing and provides " a light by which I may see-and what I see is life."
Here is one from my files:
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 speechless:
I am living, I remember you.
-Marie Howe, from her 1998 collection What the Living Do

to read other Sunday Scribblings about passion go here.

Evening Sky, But Better Morning Sky

We had a perfect view of the lunar eclipse, but I don't have a perfect camera for taking distance shots. I did like the way the moon peeked through the pine needles though.
Early this morning the sky was much easier to photograph. The fog hung over the lake and the sun just began to creep up over the mountains east of us.
Awhile later JEJ was quick enough to catch a woodpecker at the sky high water dish. The fog had lifted from the lake to make more clouds above the mountains. The morning temperatures are still staying about 19 or 20 degrees at sunrise, but fortunately the sun came out for most of the day. The days are getting longer and longer. Yes!

Can You Ever Have Too Many Snowmen?

I collect snowmen. As I looked around today I figured it is about time to put them away for another year. I started collecting snowmen about fifteen years ago, but got serious when I got the snowman in the top row on the right made from a sock. My niece The Princess made it for me about twelve years ago.
I always like putting out snowmen after Christmas to cheer up the house during the rest of the winter season. Friends and family have found the most unique additions to my collection. Someone came to my house once during the cloudy, dark winter and said the cheery smiles of the snowmen made her day. That is how it is for me. Now that the days are longer and I am seeing more sunshine I do think it is time to drag down the tubs and put the snowmen to bed for another year.

A Meme from JBelle:Six Habits About Me

The Rules:- Link to the person that tagged you.
I got this meme from JBelle at Notes from the 'Kan EWA

Post the rules on your blog.
Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
Let's go:

Number One Habit: I am a fact finder and researcher. Before I buy something electronic, take a trip, get a new appliance, or decide on a book to read I check out consumer information, recommendations, and do research. I can't just go buy something on a whim!

Number Two Habit: I am now obsessed with red shoes: casual, dressy, flats,waterproof, athletic... you name it.

Number Three Habit: Planting flowers in a bed by height. I hate it when tall flowers block out shorter flowers in the landscaping arrangement.
Number Four Habit: Giving young adults another chance. I feel like many older adults write off young adults. I try to start fresh with them every day, allow them to make mistakes, and move on.

Number Five Habit: Doing away with digital alarm clocks: I suffered insomnia for many years so I cannot use digital clocks at all. I spent too many nights watching the minutes change and change as I stared wide awake at the clock. I even bring my own clock to a hotel.

Number Six Habit : I have finally come to terms with the fact that I need down time. For many years I tried to " do it all" , work nonstop, and attempt to solve everyone's problems in a day. I have learned that I need to save my energy for what is important.

Feel free to do this meme, but I am tagging Raymond Pert, Silver Valley Girl, Myrtle Beach Ramblings, Pinehurst in My Dreams, and Marcy.

Weekend Snapshots: Ice on the Lake

Our week-end was extended through today. We took a drive north along the shore Lake Roosevelt and found a place in a shallow cove that ice was still intact. Where the cove opens up the ice was breaking off and floating in the lake. The dogs had fun running on the icy shoreline.
With the sun shining brightly the pieces of ice were floating by. Shelby pointed at a strange thing in the water. It was just a piece of wood.

As JEJ and I walked along the shoreline ice was breaking up in large pieces.

The lowering sun caught the contrast between the darkened water and the bright, white ice. It was a beautiful site. To find other weekend snapshots go here.

Sibling Assignment #55: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

I gave the sibling assignment this week." Robert Frost said, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'Think back to all the neighbors we had growing up in Kellogg. Choose a memorable event that involved neighbors and share your memories." You will find Raymond Pert’s poignant story of friends and neighbors in our hometown here and Silver Valley Girl’s here.

When we lived at 14 E. Portland in Kellogg we had neighbors on either side of us. There was an alley that made a half circle behind us where more houses were located. In my case “good alleys made good neighbors”. Across the alley from Lenhart’s (see last week’s sibling assignment) lived a woman named Mary Pavelich. She was a good neighbor. Above is a picture of me standing in her front yard after Christmas.

Bunker Hill Mining Company was on strike the year I was in kindergarten. When I returned home in the afternoon Dad was there to care for me. The strike ended in the middle of that school year. Mary Pavelich volunteered to take over my care in the afternoons when Dad went back to work.

Most memories about the interior of Mary’s house are a bit fuzzy, but I do remember her husband being in a room bedridden because of a stroke. I was frightened about going in that room. I remember catching a glimpse of white: a while hospital bed, white sheets, and his white face. Mary would go in and close the door and care for him. I think I always thought I had to be quiet. Mary smoked Old Gold cigarettes. She was glamorous as she inhaled those long cigarettes from the gold pack while sitting on the rock wall by the alley or on the front porch. Her bright lipstick left marks on the end of the cigarette in the ashtray. She also drove a big sedan that must have seemed like a Rolls Royce in my five-year-old mind. She also had a camera that took color pictures like the one above. I thought she lived the good life!

I also believed Mary was rich because I got to eat sliced Kraft American cheese at her house. It must have been more expensive because we never had it at home. This was before the days of each piece being wrapped individually. When she made me a cheese sandwich using a perfectly uniform size slice of cheese and soft white bread plus a cold glass of milk I thought it was the best lunch in the world.

Mary must have had one of the first color TVs in town. At least I hadn’t ever seen one before staying at her house. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the modern invention on the half hour as a show was starting on NBC. I was able to see the peacock in full color. Even though the peacock changed through the years of improved technology it was that original peacock and the three bongs for NBC that stays in my mind. We used to watch “Queen for a Day” in the afternoon. The amazing thing about our neighbor Mary Pavelich’s is that it looks exactly the same today. I did a tour last spring of my old neighborhood and snapped these pictures. I remember when workers built this rock wall along the side of her house. Just looking at a picture can remind you of small moments, especially if the neighborhood has remained so much the same. This rock wall represented the good fence that made good neighbors. Mary would sit on the wall and visit with neighbors while smoking, other neighbors would join her, she would watch her son and his friends play outside. I loved to walk along the flat top and try to balance myself. I also lost a tooth (after it came out of my mouth) along that wall that brought on a search party of family and neighbors.

Growing up I was fortunate to have good neighbors that watched out for our family. Everyone knew each other and the neighborhood was safe. Later when we moved to Mom’s present house Woody, the guy next store let us come in and wait for Mom when we were locked out of the house one day. Lois, a nurse that lived on the other side came over and helped my sister when she stopped breathing as a newborn. All the neighbors surrounding my childhood home still watch out for each other. It is that way in my neighborhood here at Martin Creek also. We have a Neighborhood Watch program which makes me feel safe when I am home alone. When we leave it is good knowing you are surrounded by friends and neighbors that keep an eye on your place.I loved visiting next door at Hedvie’s to make no-bake cookies, Mary’s to watch color T.V. and have cheese sandwiches, and now talking over the fence to neighbors whether here at my home or back in Kellogg at Mom’s house. Whether a rock wall, picket fence, or a chain link gate good fences make good neighbors.

A Year in the Blog Life: 427 Posts Later

A year ago today I pulled up a chair and began "Gathering Around the Table". In my first post I introduced my love for the Inland Empire. I had joined my brother and sister with a weekly sibling assignment about three months prior. Since they had begun blogs and posted their writing each week that was my inspiration to join in. I have found this experience to be rewarding and look forward to posting and reading others' blogs each day. I reflected back on a Year in the Blog Life with the following video. I hope you continue to pull up a chair and join me around the table for year two.

Photo Hunt: Free

The photo hunt this week is free. As I began creating gardens around my property I learned early on that I would have to rely on free donations from other gardens. Just gathering these pictures together made me wish for the growing season again!The rhubarb came free from an old homestead.

This peony took a long time to get to this stage with the big blossoms. I divided a peony from my mother's garden to get this free beauty.
A dear friend of ours that died a few years ago gave us a start for this trumpet vine when she moved from the neighborhood. Not only was this free, but a lovely memory of this friend.

These roses came with the house. They have been moved three times to find a place to get them to thrive. I think we found it in this location. The spider plants were free, created from "babies" of a bigger plant. We took the free birdbath, painted it and made it into a planter.
Our same dear friend that gave us the trumpet vines donated the free pond. When my sister's former house was to be torn down JEJ got bricks for free from the chimney. They worked well to create the fountain and this path leading to the house. McDuff looks like the palace guard here. ( He came free also!) We are always on the lookout for free and recycled items for our gardens. It adds history and interest to the place and saves us some money! For other photo hunts using free go here.

Happy Valentine's Day

One of the best parts about being a teacher is celebrating Valentine's Day at school. Today I was showered with balloons, candy, cupcakes, pencils, pens, chocolates, and suckers shaped like a bouquet. Middle school students have not outgrown this holiday and I love the cute valentines some slip to one another on the sly. I also work in a 2nd grade classroom each day so I got to make my own Valentine envelope to hang up just like I used to do in elementary school. The class invited me in later to share valentines. What a precious time.

Of course, coming home to flowers and more valentines made my day complete. It is amazing how everyone smiles a little bigger, says a few more kind words, and appreciates others on this special holiday. That is why it has always been my favorite holiday. Happy Valentine's Day. Help spread the love.

Shelby's Meme of Five

Crafty Green Poet tagged me, Shelby the Australian Cattle Dog to answer some questions about myself. My owner, Inland Empire Girl, is typing for me so blame her for any mistakes.

Here are the questions:

A) What are your five favorite songs?

Walzing Matilda... it's an Australian thing!

Theme from Man from Snowy River... ditto about the Australian thing.

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Walking On Sunshine... the hotter the better!

Annie's Song... in honor of my mate Annie
B) What are your five favorite toys?

1. My red ball

2. Inland Empire Girl's snowman pillows..... ooops!

3. An empty plastic jug that bounces on ice.

4. Any toy that belongs to a cat
5. A boomerang if I had one mate!

C) What are five things you love to eat?
1. people food in any shape or form

2. canned cat food

3. dog bones

4. anything off the barbie...

5. and lollies... it's another Australian thing

D) What are five of your favorite activities?

1. Herding the cats... it is a tough job, but I am born to herd

2. Riding in the car... around the driveway, down the road, or all the way to town

3. Digging for treasures in the dirt (when it thaws)

4. Waking up Inland Empire Girl in the morning my jumping on the bed

5. Trying to clean up the rabbit droppings in the rabbit hutch... I am helping!

E. What are five of your bad habits?

1. Begging... I know, but it is so hard not to.

2. Getting excited and jumping on people I love... sorry Silver Valley Girl... I can't resist

3. Barking at deer on the hillside... I know, I know... they aren't hurting me... but why are they there?

4. Grabbing things I am not supposed to then trying to play chase with grown-ups... not good... they give me the frowny face.

5. Doing my " this is my property... stop now" bark when the utility, UPS, or FedEx bloke comes to the gate. I'm sorry..they could be a robber hiding behind that uniform.
Now I am supposed to tag others. I don't know which of my pet friends' owners have blogs, so feel free to do this meme if you want to. I hope I get another chance to dictate answers on Inland Empire Girl's blog. This was fun. G'day!