2.28.2012

The Flowers of Winter


A week ago I thought I'd be planting primroses soon. Mother Nature once again fooled us. The cold temperatures and late winter snow made be thankful I have surrounded myself with winter flowers this year. I have had some beauties also. This poinsettia has brightened the room for two months.


The amaryllis plants have been the stars of the winter. I have loved experimenting with my camera and lighting with these blooms.


The orchid that arrived Valentine's Day from my husband is another plant that has brightened some gray days in the dining room.


I am never disappointed by the Christmas cactus. I just don't know what holiday the buds will appear.



2.19.2012

The Recipes I Never Touch

 



I wrote this piece in 2006 while working on memoir pieces revolving around food. It bears posting again.



There are certain things that are sacred. You don’t want to mess with them. As my dad often said, “It may doodledash it.”  Above, Mom challenged herself and made a delicious entry for the Christmas Eve Japanese dinner.


 I love to do all types of cooking. I enjoy preparing comfort food for dinner, baking cookies to take to church for coffee hour, mixing up bread using the bread machine, and trying my hand at breakfast dishes.  I love to try new recipes, dust the flour off old ones, and collect them from the newspaper, the Food Network, Pinterest, and friends.  There are certain recipes I never touch. These are the ones that Mom perfected in her kitchen during my childhood. I have never mastered homemade bread. I have never really even tried. It always looked hard and seemed to take hours. Mom did it so well, so it was easy to rationalize it by saying,” I’ll just enjoy Mom’s.” Pie crusts fell in the same category. I tried, but the crust always fell apart, it tasted tough, or I just threw it away. I buy them made or use the mix in a box. Again, Mom made it look so easy and I never took on the challenge. ( above....Mom when we went out to lunch. That is quite a background behind her!)


 When it came to Christmas treat preparation Mom had a repertoire that I have kept sacred.  Each year the Mirro box came upstairs. It held the silver and copper cookie press that produced Spritz cookies. I remember that rich, yellow dough mimicked one of those Play Dough factories as it oozed out of the press, taking a star shape and making all kinds of figures. The little cookbook with the illustrations of the little green trees, the multicolored bars, and snowflake cookies always intrigued me. Mom didn’t mess much with the fancy cookies. She just slipped on the star and made the letters in our names and other figures. I found a Mirro press at an antique shop once. I thought I could manage the process of Spritz. I was failure. I sold it at a yard sale. Now I have a new Pampered Chef cookie press thanks to my sister Carol and the party she did at my house. It works great. I still don’t think it will ever match the original that comes up from the basement once a year.


 


One year Mom got a new recipe from her friend Evelyn. It was the incredible bar cookie made of seven ingredients-thus the name 7-Layer Cookies. When this cookie was going to be prepared, it was like the Tom and Jerry Day. Ingredients like Eagle Condensed Milk and Nestlé’s butterscotch chips showed up in the grocery bag. When the cookies were complete they were a rich, delicious masterpiece. Mom would cut them in to small bars and put them in a Tupperware holder to keep them fresh. This treat always went on trays that were given away to friends when they stopped by on Christmas. Her friend Evelyn just died and I know Mom is glad she still has her handwritten recipe in the box.


 I have never made Mom’s Popcorn Balls or fruitcake. I did attempt Nuts and Bolts one year to give as gifts, but it didn’t seem right. I think it was not having the big silver roasting pan that filled the oven with the Chex cereal, pretzel, Cheez-It mixture.


 There is comfort in traditions that remain the same. I know there will be a big Tupperware bowl full of Spritz when I go home this year. There will be popcorn balls in a big bag on the bed in Mom’s room. There will be Seven Layer Cookies in the narrow rectangular Tupperware. The Nuts and Bolts will either be in the glass jar on the table by the tree or in a decorative tin under the table.  The fruitcake and pumpkin bread will be wrapped in shiny foil and line a shelf in the refrigerator.  Mom’s handwritten labels will be clear on each loaf in blue Sharpie pen.


 Certain things remain sacred. That is fine with me.


 


 


2.18.2012

Extreme Home Office Makeover


After Christmas I got the declutter, organization, redo bug. I knew I wanted to change how my home office was orgainzed. Thanks to Pinterest I began to get motivated with pins and more pins on my Home Office Inspiration Board. These ideas, plus books and magazine articles I read put the plan in motion. I didn't want to spend much money, but wanted a new look. The pink had to go. 


I first posted about the makeover here.


The walls were a light apricot color and I decided to keep those. I found a palette of colors that worked for me including browns and greens. Then I pulled together what I already had, brought in some shelves from other rooms, used some spray paint, reorgnized, brought in some accesories, and moved some furniture around. Above was an old shoe holder I used to have at school for student cubbies. Now it is repainted and holds items so I can find them!!


This was a pretty inexpensive change.



I did purchase the white cubbies and shelves from Lowe's. I love the way the green and white go with the walls. One of my own framed photos fit in also.


I added a little pop!


I found files for each month that I love!


I pulled together things from other rooms.


The shelves starting filling up.


Here is the end result.


2.11.2012

Relative: Grandma West


I wrote this poem a few years ago as I remembered the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Grandma West's house in Orofino, Idaho.



 


The Table in the Sunroom


The rays from the evening sun glowed on the hollyhocks;


the windows of the sunroom framed Grandma’s tall gladiolus .


Dad wiped his reddened face,


the pitcher of ice tea sweating under the stifling heat.


Steam rose from the bowl of garden fresh beans --  


we  climbed to the back of the table


wedged between the Singer sewing machine and the old Kelvinator,


squeezed in the six chairs.


 


Corn on the cob was always in season.


 The kernels small and golden.


Grandma cut her kernels delicately off the cob,


I begged for the knife so I could do the same.


In a voice that even the neighbors could hear, Mom announced,


“You have good, strong teeth…


just eat it off the cob.”


 


Next a plate of tomato slices


followed by cooked beets and fried pork chops.


I lifted my legs as bare skin stuck to the chair,


while my brother was kicking my foot,


my baby sister’s damp hair stuck to her head.


 


From my seat I couldn’t gaze at Grandma’s garden


 or watch the bees buzz around the roses,


but I took in the slow table conversation


as I tried to cut up my tomato:


 Canning cherries, and Norm and growing cucumbers,


Konkleville, Canada Hill and cousin John came up.


Is that fire still burning out at Yellow Dog?


What is on special at the Glenwood Market?


 


Dad took his paper napkin and wiped his face again,


And told Grandma this was the best corn he had ever had.


Her eyes lit up as she rose from the table


And thank goodness headed to the old chest freezer.


Vanilla ice cream from the Orofino Creamery would be


passed around last.


The sun slipped behind the crabapple tree,


The shadows cooled the sunroom.


That cold vanilla ice cream was the best I had ever had.


by Christy Woolum


2.08.2012

My Leap into Photography


I have been doing that dreaded task of sorting digital photos on the computer. When the project begins I always ask myself why I didn't label better, sort sooner, back up on discs more often, and safe so many images of the same subject. It is what it is. This was an early photo above at French Rock on Lake Roosevelt.



The upside of doing this task is to revisit the history of my digital photo files. I always loved taking photos with my old 35mm. I don't know how I afforded the film and developing. Then there were all those double pictures that sounded like a good idea at the time.


When I got my first digital camera I just started pointing and shooting. As a beginning photographer I spent more time examining what I liked about pictures rather than reading how-to books. I just kept taking lots of photos. Above is an early bouquet picture.



What I love about digital photos is how technology creates a timeline of your life events. With film cameras and photos they needed to go into an album or were sorted into photo boxes. The digital format is already done. Dates are there, order is established. In April of 2007 Everett create the room we now call Annie's room.



I think I have taken more photos of flowers than anything else. Flowers are always around me so that makes sense. Only two people live in my house so I don't get to experiment as much with people. I love photographing my students, but also want to protect their privacy. 


Events are remembered, trips documented, hikes recorded, a view from the porch framed. I love traveling through my photography timeline. 


My Leap into Photography


I have been doing that dreaded task of sorting digital photos on the computer. When the project begins I always ask myself why I didn't label better, sort sooner, back up on discs more often, and safe so many images of the same subject. It is what it is. This was an early photo above at French Rock on Lake Roosevelt.



The upside of doing this task is to revisit the history of my digital photo files. I always loved taking photos with my old 35mm. I don't know how I afforded the film and developing. Then there were all those double pictures that sounded like a good idea at the time.


When I got my first digital camera I just started pointing and shooting. As a beginning photographer I spent more time examining what I liked about pictures rather than reading how-to books. I just kept taking lots of photos. Above is an early bouquet picture.



What I love about digital photos is how technology creates a timeline of your life events. With film cameras and photos they needed to go into an album or were sorted into photo boxes. The digital format is already done. Dates are there, order is established. In April of 2007 Everett create the room we now call Annie's room.



I think I have taken more photos of flowers than anything else. Flowers are always around me so that makes sense. Only two people live in my house so I don't get to experiment as much with people. I love photographing my students, but also want to protect their privacy. 


Events are remembered, trips documented, hikes recorded, a view from the porch framed. I love traveling through my photography timeline. 


2.04.2012

Relatives : "A Letter From Home"






















 






 

 A Letter From Home














She sends me news of blue jays, frost,
Of stars and now the harvest moon
That rides above the stricken hills.
Lightly, she speaks of cold, of pain,
And lists what is already lost.
Here where my life seems hard and slow,
I read of glowing melons piled
Beside the door, and baskets filled
With fennel, rosemary and dill,
While all she could not gather in
Or hid in leaves, grow black and falls.
Here where my life seems hard and strange,
I read her wild excitement when
Stars climb, frost comes, and blue jays sing.
The broken year will make no change
Upon her wise and whirling heart; -
She knows how people always plan
To live their lives, and never do.
She will not tell me if she cries.

I touch the crosses by her name;
I fold the pages as I rise,
And tip the envelope, from which
Drift scraps of borage, woodbine, rue.

Mary Oliver



 




2.03.2012

Relatives: "The Kittens"

 


Even though Grayson and Junebug aren't kittens anymore we often call them that because they are still the youngest of the group. By observing these photos it may be difficult to tell they are relatives, but they have sibling rivalry  every once in a while.



They also love to pose together or by themselves.



2.02.2012

Relatives: "He is My Cousin"


I teach in a community that has families that have lived there for many generations. We are a small school so I could have between 12 and 20 kids in a grade level each September, depending on the year and who has moved or returned. Many of the families are related.



My students all seem to be related to someone else in middle school. It makes that middle school crush/ we're going out/we are in a relationship (on FB)  much smaller on the drama scale compared to what I have experienced teaching in a larger school. I just heard a student today say, "Ooooooo... I don't want to "go out" with him. He's my cousin." Many are second, third, or fourth cousins but it doesn't matter. A relative is a relative. When students begin the whole family tree-this is how we are related explanation, I get lost. 



It is difficult to have a prom at our school if students are going to bring dates. Acually many of them just go as a group or bring someone from "across the river".  I never think Valentine's Day is as exciting, and often the cousins tend to respond to each other as siblings when things get wound up in the hallway.


Again, as I stated in my post yesterday, this is all hard for me to understand because I was surrounded by aunties, cousins, uncles, and third cousins in the community I grew up in. I guess it is all relative. 


2.01.2012

February NaBloPoMo: Relatives, But Not Too Many In Kellogg

NaBloPoMo February 2012


 


The theme for NaBloPoMo this month is relative. I didn't make all my posts in Janurary. The internet went down for two days which got me off, then between being ill and semester grading I just couldn't do a post every day. I have high aspirations for February.


Growing up in Kellogg meant being surrounded by people with lots of relatives. We knew families with lots of children,families with lots of aunts, uncles, grandmas, great uncles, and shirt tail relatives. We didn't have relatives in Kellogg. It didn't seem weird to me because I didn't know it any other way. We had lots of friends that included us like family. The Turnbows invited us to Thanksgiving potlucks. The Listoes had us out to their house for dinner. Don and Rosie made sure we were included at the Italian picnic held in the summer. Costas took us camping up the river. We were always surrounded by friends. I loved seeing my relatives and it was a treat to travel to Spokane, Moscow, or Orofino to visit them. Looking back I feel blessed that we had so many families that made us feel welcome in our town. I learned the meaning of loyality, friendship, generousity, humor, and love from these friends. They may not have been relatives, but they were like family to me. Above are a few of them at Mom's 80th birthday party last year.