Happy Birthday Dad! A Post from the Archives

Sibling Assignment # 102: Father Daughter Banquet, Bowling, and Lemon Fluff

I gave the sibling assignment this week. In honor of Father's Day I asked my siblings to remember a time that our father made them proud. You will soon find the much healthier RP's here and if Silver Valley Girl is off the links yet, hers will be here.

Being a member of Bluebirds and Camp Fire Girls was a big part of my growing up experience. Each year around Valentine's Day we had the annual Father Daughter Banquet. At our Camp Fire meeting we learned a song to sing to our dads and worked feverishly at decorating a box with a Valentine theme. The box held our banquet, which was similar to a box social meal.

One thing I loved about the Father Daughter banquet was the banquet we brought with us. Mom made the same food for us each year and the menu was our favorite. We had her cold fried chicken, homemade potato salad, and the famous Lemon Fluff dessert. If I remember right everything we needed was packed into our dinner box that I had proudly decorated. Now we often got to enjoy her cold fried chicken and potato salad, but Lemon Fluff was a treat. The dessert was discovered by a teacher partner of mom's at Silver King school as an inexpensive and fairly easy dessert to make, so it had been dished up at many an event at the school for PTA ,but we didn't get it often at home. This light lemon flavored dessert with a graham cracker crust was placed in little plastic square boxes for Dad and I to enjoy.

Another part of the Father Daughter Banquet that sticks in my memory is that for some unknown reason Dad always had a bowling tournament the same day. The coincidence was that the banquet was held upstairs in the same building as the bowling alley. Just as we sat down to eat our banquet here would come my Dad. Depending on the sponsor of his bowling team, he would be wearing a flashy,bright bowling shirt in red or gold advertising the beer company that was his sponsor. His forehead would be shiny with sweat, there would be a hint of beer on his breath, but he would sit down by me and enjoy the homemade banquet of food.

If my memory serves me right I think sometimes he would have to go back down when it was his turn, then run back up the stairs. While catching his breath he always savored every bite of Mom's chicken, potato salad, and Lemon Fluff.

This was a moment that made me proud of Dad. Sitting awkwardly in a seat a bit too small for him , perhaps with his mind on the next frame of the bowling tournament and the cold Heidelberg he left downstairs , he focused on me as I sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to him joined by my other Camp Fire friends.

Through the years Dad embellished his version of these banquets over and over again as he was so famous for doing. There was talk of missed frames, %#2$% George Linney, someone drinking his beer, and having to squeeze in small quarters to join me for the banquet. What will always stay with me was seeing Dad's misty eyes when I blew him a kiss when I finished " Let Me Call You Sweetheart". He hustled off to bowl his next frame not realizing I had seen those tears. I felt proud of my dad that night upstairs at the bowling alley.

What is Orange?

  What Is Orange?

Orange is a tiger lily,
A carrot,
A feather from
A parrot,
A flame,
The wildest color you can name.
Saying good-bye
In a sunset that
Shocks the sky .
Orange is brave
Orange is bold
It's bittersweet
And marigold.
Orange is zip
Orange is dash
The brightest stripe
In a Roman sash.
Orange is an orange
Also a mango.
Orange is the music
Of the tango.
Orange is the fur
Of the fiery fox,
The brightest crayon
In the box.
And in the fall
When the leaves are tuming
Orange is the smell
Of a bonfire burning.
---Mary O'Neill

The Blossoms of October

Perhaps this year I will still be picking flowers for bouquets in November!

Feeling of Fall

The date on the calendar is not always what indicates the arrival of fall. The summer held on this year producing rose blooms, red tomatoes, and morning glory blossoms last week. Another sure sign of fall is the first time I smell leaves burning. When I left school the other day the pungent smell took me back to 516 W. Cameron in Kellogg when dad would rake the yellow and brown leaves into the street by the sidewalk and burn the pile in the darkened twilight.

 It feels more like the fall when the temperature drops. When you have to warm up the car and pull out a heavier coat it signals real fall. When middle school boys don't want to play basketball in their shorts and sweatshirts before school, but would rather stay inside, it has to be fall.

Today JEJ prepared all the grapes into juice for jam making. That smell along with the aroma of the apples simmering for applesauce, the pears awaiting canning, and squash and pumpkin cooking in the oven all signal fall. Growing up I have such a vivid memory of baked apples cooking in the oven. When they came out we sprinkled them with brown sugar and waited eagerly for them to cool enough to sample. Now we might splurge and add a bit of cream or ice cream in the middle of the apple.

I look forward to preparing jam, making applesauce, raking leaves, building a fire, putting on a fleece vest, and basking in the October sun. That is what fall is all about. 

The Sketchbook Project

I can't even remember how I first learned of The Sketchbook Project. I am now for 2011and my moleskin sketchbook arrived today. There are only two rules. The book must be used in some way - no sending back an empty book or a completely different book! Second, the sketchbook must stay within its original dimensions. A barcode is already attached and in January it will become part of the Brooklyn Library system and will travel around on a tour. My theme is "In five minutes..." I have lots of ideas bouncing around in my head of what I will do the the sketchbook. I am eager to begin. If you are interested in this project you can find more information here. The dealine for signing up is October 31st. I will post periodically what I am creating in my own sketchbook.

The Family of Things

Whether it is jubilation over miners rescued in Chile, a prayer passed around for a accident victim, the kindness of a man offering help to one in need, or wild geese returning home.  We all have a place in the family of things. One of my favorite poets Mary Oliver said it best:

Wild Geese 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver

Ten Ways to Tell Cold Weather is Just Around the Corner

1. The tomatoes are doing what we wanted them to do in August.
2. One word: defrost.
3. ALL the cats are beginning their pilgrimage from the outside to the inside.
4. Two words:stink bugs.
5. Shelby has found her favorite spot in front of the wood stove.
6. Three words: red flannel sleepwear.
7.Checking the outside thermometer becomes a habit.
8, Four words: Greenhouse is now full!
9. Cravings begin for pumpkin pie, apple crisp, and hot cider.
10. There is a need to carve out time to organize the wool socks, scarfs, and mittens.

The Roses of October

The weather this fall has created a micro climate just perfect for roses. As a light drizzle fell today I snapped some images of roses that came back alive in the garden after our very strange summer.

The question is do I pick them for a bouquet or enjoy them in the garden?

A View From the Front Porch: The Silence of Plants

I really love my new front porch. It is a place I can sit and be surrounded by quiet beauty at the end of the day. The jumbled thoughts of a day in the classroom can be sorted out. A cat can come and get reacquainted while a dog rests by my side. Quiet conversations about the highlights of the day can be exchanged over a cup of tea or a cool drink. I also really love the poetry of Wistawa Szymborska. This poem resonated with me this morning as I reflecting from my front porch.

The Silence of Plants
A one-sided relationship is developing quite well between you and me.
I know what a leaf, petal, kernel, cone, and stem are,
and I know what happens to you in April and December.
Though my curiosity is unrequited,
I gladly stoop for some of you,
and for others I crane my neck.
I have names for you:
maple, burdock, liverwort,
eather, juniper, mistletoe, and forget-me-not;
but you have none for me.
After all, we share a common journey.
When traveling together, it's normal to talk,
exchanging remarks, say, about the weather,
or about the stations flashing past.
We wouldn't run out of topics
for so much connects us.
The same star keeps us in reach.
We cast shadows according to the same laws.
Both of us at least try to know something,
each in our own way,
and even in what we don't know
there lies a resemblance.
Just ask and I will explain as best I can:
what it is to see through my eyes,
why my heart beats,
and how come my body is unrooted.
But how does someone answer questions
which have never been posed,
and when, on top of that
the one who would answer
is such an utter nobody to you?
Undergrowth, shrubbery,
meadows, and rushes…
everything I say to you is a monologue,
and it is not you who's listening.
A conversation with you is necessary
and impossible,
urgent in a hurried life
and postponed for never. 

-Wistawa Szymborska

Sibling Assignment #136: Ten Lessons Learned from Auntie Lila

The most recent sibling assignment was to write about an aunt. My brother wrote such a touching tribute about me which you can find here. Thanks Raymond Pert.

My Auntie Lila is my mom's older sister. We saw her at least once a year during my growing up years. During the summer I often walked up Michigan Avenue from my grandma's house to visit her warm, inviting home. I can remember times she babysat children, watered her lawn, pruned roses, picked green beans, and got dinner started all before the heat really settled into the Orofino valley in the late afternoon. I used to love to sit in the kitchen while Mom and Lila had coffee and chatted about people and events that dated back to when they were kids.  There were many lessons I learned during all those years. Here are ten important ones:

1) Night Owls Rule! I used to love to stay overnight at Lila's in the summer because she loved to stay up really late and watch T.V. , visit, and have ice cream. I loved being another West night owl.

2) Headbands are Cool! My aunt has never looked her age, but I always loved it that she wore headbands to hold back her hair which made her seem very hip when I was a preteen.

3) Surround Yourself with Reading Material.  She has book shelves in her living room, book shelves in her hall, magazines and magazines on her coffee table, a great stack in the bathroom, newspapers around,and probably more books in the back room. I always found something interesting to read at Lila's and we share a love for reading.

4) Cookies Help You Through the Day. My aunt had a cookie jar that sat in the same place on the kitchen counter for as long as I can remember. It was always filled with cookies... always. She had these yummy Sunshine storeboughts that we never had at our house. It was such a treat to dig into the cookie jar while visiting.

5) You Need Your Beauty Sleep. Along with staying up it was always fun to sleep in at Lila's house. She was never one of those up at five o'clock a.m. aunties. It was okay to sleep in while on summer vacation.
  My Uncle Bob, Lila, Grandma West, and Mom in 1955.

6) It is All About Family. Lila's family is the center of her life. Her walls are covered with photos, she tells stories, visits family, loved it when her grandchildren were born,  would wait for her son to drive by in the logging truck, hoped her daughter would stop by after work at the clinic, was happy when her other daughter drove up from Boise, and seemed to like us tearing around in the summer also.

7) Home Grown Vegetables Are the Best. Lila had an incredible garden. My dad would wander around picking up tips from Lila before he got serious about raising his own garden. Whether corn, green beans, or cucumbers... they all tasted better out of her garden.

8) A Yard Need Flowers. I probably have carried this lesson more than any others. Between my aunt and my two grandmothers growing flowers was instilled in me from a very early age. I remember thinking I could never grow roses because Lila's were magnificent and I figured that meant they were hard to grow. I loved the coleus, zinnias, and other bedding plants that surrounded her yard. Every year when I begin planting flowers I think of her.

9) Smile and the World Smiles with You. Lila is always smiling. She could have been baking a cake, boiling corn, and canning beans in the kitchen during a hot August day in Orofino, and she would have a smile when we came into the door.
 10) The Way To The Heart Is Through the Kitchen. Again,all the women in my family have surrounded me with a love for food, fellowship, recipes, dinners, birthday parties, and much time spent gathering around the table. She would bake cakes even if it was summer and hot. She perfected Swiss Steak with the best cut of sirloin from the Glenwood IGA and served it with buttered corn on the cob on the side. My brother shared the same birthday with my grandmother and here they are having a rare celebration together in the early sixties.

My Auntie Lila will turn ninety in June. Her lessons will continue to be passed down for many years to come.  The picture at the top was taken last summer at a family reunion by my cousin Michelle.She is one aunt to remember!

Hidden Gems in the Inland Empire: The Marcus Cider Fest

 On the first Saturday in October annally the small town of Marcus hosts their own Cider Fest. Marcus is located about eight miles north of Kettle Falls on Lake Roosevelt.
 The town of Marcus is serious about apples. All the streets are even named for types of apples. I think we parked on Red Delicious or Winesap Street.
 They have an incredible press that produces fresh cider that is sold fresh all day. Orchard owners from the area donate apples to make the cider. This press is very inventive and makes lots of cider.

There is a parade, craft booths, music, food, and of course lots of apples. It was perfect weather last Saturday to drive north up the lake for a visit at Marcus. This event is not such a hidden gem now. People from all over the northwest take the trek to Marcus to enjoy the Cider Fest!

Hidden Gems in the Inland Empire: The Peterson Barn

 Recently I discovered another hidden gem in Moscow, Idaho. When I was organizing a leadership retreat last summer and it was a football week-end in the Palouse I knew there would be problems with lodging.

While searching for other options I found the Peterson Barn in Moscow Idaho. There is quite a story behind the building of this place that you can check out on the website. I have driven very close to the place while heading east on the Troy Highway, but never realized it existed. Take a tour with me of another of my newly found hidden gems.

 Here are the steps coming up the back of The Barn.
 The sunflowers were an amazing addition to the beauty of the place.

 The bench on the deck provided a nice spot for lunch in the sunshine.
 The place was surrounded by flowers, fruit trees, and fresh vegetables ready to be harvested.
 I loved the old gas stove and all the dishes and cookware to provide meals. I captured an image of the fruit on the table.

My sister joined me Saturday and as we were leaving Sunday we found a hidden garden room surrounded by grape vines. I thought she was perfectly color coordinated.The Peterson Barn is reasonably priced, it is a perfect location just off the beaten path in Moscow, and it is comfortable and cozy. To learn more about the Peterson Barn go here.

Hidden Gems in the Inland Empire: Train Ride at Metaline Falls

I had always heard of the train ride available between Ione to Metaline Falls along the Pend Oreille River in the fall, but it was something we had just never done. I remember my friend Tara last year posting beautiful pictures of the trip. My sister had an idea in August that we all take the train ride on Labor Day Week-End. My sister had a fantastic idea. This is my niece Kiki Aru above enjoying the ride.
 It was a scenic drive from Colville over Tiger Highway to Pend Oreille County. We stopped and took pictures of the waterfalls along the highway. Heading north along one of the few rivers in the United States that runs north, we saw spectacular mountains, the impressive Box Canyon Dam, and sites around Metaline Falls.
 On the train ride we saw majestic views of the river.
 My niece The Princess was up for some excitement
It was a ninety minute ride so toward the end my niece were ready for a nap on my sister's shoulder. Mom decided to get a view from the other direction. We were "held up" in Ione to raise money for the Cutter Theater.

 Here a view from above the Box Canyon Dam.
We ended the day enjoying a play at the Cutter Theater in Metaline Falls. The Lions Club sponsors these train rides and they continue on week-ends through October. It is for a worthy cause and well worth the trip. To learn more about the Train Rides, click here.