Clematis Bloom, New Meme and PKR Gets New Job

1. I was blessed with two very mature clematis plants in my backyard when I moved to this house last spring. This flower is from the smaller of the two, and the first to bloom. I can see this bloom out my patio door. I think it is so beautiful.

2. Ponderosa Pinings tagged me for a new meme. Here are my results.

INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so:

1) BlondeMomBlog

2) It's A Schmitty Life

3) Life is short, buy the shoes

4) Ponderosa Pinings

5) Silver Valley Stories

Next select five people to tag:

(Sorry, but I'm skipping this part. Join in if you would like. Leave me a comment if you do.)

Answer the following questions:

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I was living in Meridian, Idaho. My children were 6, 2 and 1. I was a stay at home mom who did a little bit of childcare. Besides being a full time teacher at one of Meridian's Alternative High Schools, my husband was the Youth Pastor at our church, and I helped him minister to the middle school and high school youth. I also was very involved in my daughter's school, helping with the PTO group, and volunteering in class. I loved to garden and bake and can food. I loved to write, and helped write our church's newsletter. Life seemed a little slower and simpler then. A different kind of busy I guess.

What were you doing one year ago?

I had just moved into my new house at the end of March, and was still getting settled,

Five snacks you enjoy:


Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:

Love Will Keep Us Together
Moon River
Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey
My Favorite Things

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

Hire a personal financial advisor
Hire a maid
Get out of debt
Save for girl's college tuition
Save for traveling

Five bad habits:

Eating late at night
Sitting too much
Reading the paper first instead of the Bible in the morning
Not planning meals for the week
Forgetting to clean out the litter boxes

Five things you like doing:

Going for a walk each night with my husband
Helping lead worship in church
Praying and reading the Bible and having something new revealed to me
Sitting and talking with my three daughters and laughing at our own private jokes
Spending time with my brother and sister and mom.

Five things you would never wear again:

Cheap, uncomfortable shoes
Big 80's hair
Clothes with big padded shoulders
Maternity Clothes

Five favorite toys:

Laptop computer
Espresso machine
Karaoke Machine
Backgammon Board
Digital Camera

3. My husband PKR has been a teacher at alternative high schools since 1991. He worked at Meridian Academy in Meridian, Idaho for 8 years, and has been the director of Silver Valley High School here in Kellogg for 6 years. Well, change is coming. Yesterday, he interviewed for and was offered the job of Drama/Speech and English teacher at Kellogg High School, which he accepted today. He is very excited, and it was fun last night taking our walk, and having him share some of his vision for the drama program at the high school.

#77-My Tree--Sheltering Milo the Cat

A home without a cat—and a wellfed,
wellpetted and properly revered cat—may be a home,
perhaps, but how can it prove title?
- Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]


Guest Trees from Martin Creek

Today I am sharing some pictures of trees in my sister Inland Empire Girl's yard in Northeast Washington state.

Here is a weeping willow ( Oops! I mean a weeping birch. Thanks IEG!!) that greets you as you walk up to the front door.

What a beautiful maple that contrasts with all the green foilage surrounding it in the garden.

Can you see what is staring back at me in the middle of this tree? It is a baby racoon that was treed by my sister's English Springer Spaniel Annie. Find out more about this story here.


Smore Fest 2007

Tonight we had a Smore Fest here at beautiful Martin Creek at Inland Empire Girl's lovely home.

For those of you who have never experienced this lovely tradition, here is what you need.

First, one needs to gather the three main smore ingredients: large, jet puffed marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey chocolate bars.

The second essential ingredient is a bed of hot coals to roast the marshmallows on.

And, of course, you need some good roasting sticks to put the marshmallows on so they can be roasted to a perfect golden brown.

Raymond Pert gets some help from Inland Empire Girl in assembling his smore.

Grandma Mary enjoyed her smore.

Kiki Aru and Z2 each had about five or six smores to tide them over. They give Smore Fest 2007 TWO THUMBS UP!!!

Inland Empire Girl's husband JEJ observes the Smorefest, but doesn't partake. His contribution was very important...he made the fire, and produced those perfect marshmallow roasting coals.

When everyone came inside and shared about the yummy smores, Raymond Pert's dog Snug was ready to run outside, grab himself a stick, and make one for himself.

Instead, he just laid down, and listened to Grandma Mary tell him a story before he went to bed.


I Remember Grandma West

I remember her sitting by the window in her rocking chair with the fan swaying to and fro

I remember her quietly greeting our family as we arrive for another summer vacation in August
I remember her asking how we were doing, and not knowing any other way to answer , I would say “fine”

I remember smelling the dark, rich earth of her garden that she planted faithfully each spring and I would see the results each August

I remember enjoying the bounty of that garden, including green beans, tomatoes and corn on the cob

I remember showering off in her bathroom after spending a day at the Clearwater River

I remember getting to play the piano that was in her living room in the mornings when she was outside working in her garden

I remember attending her 80th birthday when I was 12, and thinking she had lived a long, wonderful life. Who knew she had almost 17 more years to go.

I remember never hearing her raise her voice, or say a swear word.

I remember knowing she was a “no smoking” zone for her children and grandchildren

I remember she was a lady of high standards and principles

I remember I always knew she prayed for me

I remember that other people spoke fondly of my grandmother, just like people do my own mother

I remember thinking she was strong and courageous to have raised her family all by herself

I remember she was kind

I remember she was gentle

I remember she had a good sense of humor

I remember being with Mom and my new baby Molly when we got the phone call that Grandma West had died. It was the same weekend as Molly’s baby dedication. I think having her baby granddaughter there helped Mom through her initial grieving process.

I remember being sad that I couldn’t attend her funeral.

I miss her. I often wish I wasn’t so young when we went to Orofino, so I could have known her better.

But her memory lives on in her children and grandchildren through their baking, sewing, crafting, gardening, praying and their kindness to others.

Nona Walker West
Born December 27, 1894
Died November 24, 1990

Her final gift she left us was her gift of longevity. She was about one month shy of turning 97 years old when she died.

She lived a long, wonderful life.

I just wish I could have shared more of it with her.

Simple Gestures

Driving my mom and brother to the cemetery to honor my father

Putting flowers beside the graves of my father, and my husband’s grandparents, Paul and Naydeen

Using a columbine flower from a plant that was in Naydeen’s garden, then her daughter Susie’s yard, and now in my flower bed, to put beside their gravemarker.

Planting hostas and other flowers in front of the house to make it look green and alive.

Arranging potted flowers in the front to give a splash of color.

Traveling to Martin Creek to spend a weekend with my mom, brother, sister, brother-in-law and two daughters.

Letting my oldest daughter stay home with her dad so she can get caught up on school projects.

Promising your youngest daughter you will play the card game of “Spoons” with her today.

Listening to your middle daughter memorize her lines for her upcoming performance.

Cooking breakfast for your family, and making that special potato dish you created.

Buying cough and cold medicine for your sister before you leave so she doesn’t have to drive back into town.

These are just a few small gestures that hopefully told some people

You are important.

For more Simple writings, visit Sunday Scribblings here.


#76--My Tree--Blowin' in the Wind

A breeze discovered my open book
And began to flutter the leaves to look
For a poem there used to be on Spring.
- Robert Frost


#75--My Tree--A Diamond in the Rough

God's Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
Psalm 19:10


Finding Peace in my Backyard

The Silver Valley has experienced some exceptionally beautiful mornings this week, and I have taken advantage of them by going outside and strolling around my backyard to see what is new and different from the day before. Today I discovered my snowball bush, back behind some other trees and bushes, in full bloom. If the above picture was a bit bigger, you would see a little spider in the lower center part of the flower posing for his picture.

Here is my snowball bush among some some ferns and other things in the far back right corner of my yard. Snowball bushes remind me of my Grandma Woolum. She had a beautiful snow tree in her front yard in Spokane, Washington. The blooms on them were huge. I think it must have been a different variety than the one I have.
Here are a couple more snowball blossoms from this morning.

Peaches and Sadie, my two dogs, also join me out in the backyard for my morning strolls. They enjoy their morning time in the yard after being inside all night long.

I have two azaleas blooming right now and I love the color of these flowers. I wish the blooms lasted longer, because they are so beautiful. But I will enjoy their beauty while I can.
The bridal wreath sprirea reminds me of the yard in Kellogg where I grew up. There were several of these bushes around the house, and they would bloom most of the summer. I remember playing "Bride" when I was younger, and cutting off their flowers and using them for a bouquet.
I hope this tour of my yard helped bring some peace to your life as well, as you gaze upon God's beauty that surrounds me in my yard. I hope you can find some time today to find a beautiful place and be quiet for a few moments and reflect upon some good things.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philipians 4: 8-9

My Tree--#74--Framed by Another Tree

Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time.
- William Shakespeare


Kiki Aru and Z2 in the Hershey Track Meet

Here are Z2 and Kiki Aru warming up and getting ready for the Hershey Track Meet today. (And you thought track season was over!)

Z2 comes in a strong second place in the 800 run.Kiki Aru is the fourth leg on their 4 x 100 relay team.Kiki Aru finishes first in the 200 yard dash.
SD beats his friend GP in a close race in the 1600 run. (I thought this was a cool picture).
Z2 finished with a first in the 4 x 100, and first in the long jump, and a second in the 800. Kiki Aru finished first in her 4 x 100 relay and first in the 200 yard dash. Both girls qualify to attend the North Idaho State Hershey Track Meet on June 16 at Sather Field in Silverton. If they do really well, they can qualify to attend the National Hershey Track and Field competition in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
This is the fourth or fifth Hershey Track Meet Z2 has participated in, and I know a lot of the success she achieved this track season was because she participated in these track meets. They gave her confidence, and showed her how things are done. Kiki Aru is also showing much promise as a runner.
Good job, girls!!!!


#73--My Tree--Beautiful in Peace

They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence.
They will stand after we are dust. They teach us, and we tend them.
- Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor

Masking my grief: Eulogy for 828 McKinley Avenue, Kellogg, Idaho

Today I pay tribute to a wonderful structure that sheltered our family for almost 6 years. We left this home a little over a year ago, after we bought a new one. We knew we would be the last family to live within its’ walls. We sold our home, knowing some day it would be torn down.

That some day was Tuesday, May 15, 2007.

We knew this was coming, but once you see the pile of wood, and trees and your old hot tub perched on top of a pile of wood, it makes the inevitable rather final.828 McKinley was constructed in 1930 by the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining Company. It was right next door to the Bunker Hill office building, which is also being torn down. Over the years it served it many capacities and housed many different families. One of my classmates in grade school lived in that house. A couple different family friends lived in that house. Each of the husbands in these families executives in the Bunker Hill Mining Company.

I remember visiting Kellogg over Fourth of July weekend in July of 2000, and spent some time that weekend looking at houses. It was a rainy, dreary day. I fell in love with this house. It had character. There were hardwood floors, and arched doorways, and French doors, and a big airy kitchen with a view overlooking Kellogg, the town I grew up in, and was now planning to return to live.

We made an offer, it was accepted, and then we waited for our house to sell in Meridian. That seemed like it took forever, but it really only took about 3 months. We lived with my mom, then moved into 828 McKinley in the middle of November. This house would finally become our home.

Right away we loved our home. It had been a vacation rental home for skiers coming into the area, so it was decorated nicely, and we didn’t have to do any fixing up to move in. We laughed in this house. We cried in this house. We yelled in this house. We felt like crawling in a hole and dieing in this house.

Especially when I went through the process of selling it to men who wanted to tear it down and build a condominium.We prayed in this house. We celebrated in this house. We loved in this house. We LIVED in this house.

It was a roller coaster ride I never want to repeat. The process drove me to bed watching West Wing on DVD. It was overwhelming, and I couldn’t deal with the ride any more.

Then in December they came back. I said no. But then my husband took over, and didn’t tell me. He protected me from the talks. But on another cold, rainy day in January, he said he wanted to show me a house. The men had called, and were talking again about buying our house. I looked at the other house. By the end of February, we had sold 828 McKinley, and bought another.
We were able to strip 828 McKinley of many things before the demolition. We have merged two homes into one. Our new home now have crown moldings from the other home. We took doors, windows, toilet, hot water heater, hard wood floors, shelves, to name a few things.

828 McKinley was peaceful and comfortable, and a sanctuary during many troubling times in my life, and the lives of our family. The big maple trees that shaded our house from the sun each summer are now gone. Their beautiful golden leaves each autumn were a showcase in the community. Those trees were close to 80 years old. They didn’t deserve to die this way. I’m glad I didn’t see the large heavy machinery chomp them down.

I will miss 828 McKinley. I feel like I mask my grief, because I’m not sure anyone can understand how painful it is to see 6 years of your life piled up in a garbage heap, ready to be carted off to the dump. No one except the other members of my family.

I feel sad we had to sell it and that it had to be torn down. But it was the right thing to do at the time.

But I could have lived there for the rest of my days.

To see more writings about masks, visit Sunday Scribblings.

What Do You Mean You Aren't A Reader??????

This week’s sibling writing assignment from Raymond Pert is writing about who or what instilled in the three of us our love of reading and writing. RP's post is here, and Inland Empire Girl's post here.

I don’t remember learning to read. Reading has always been something I could do. It has been shared with me that I knew how to read when I entered kindergarten, but I wouldn’t read out loud when Mrs. Clark, my kindergarten teacher, asked me to read. But she knew I could read because when I was asked to hand out papers to the other students in the class, I could read the names and hand them out just fine. (But I don’t remember this).

From my earliest school days, I was reading. Our home was filled with shelves of books. But I know I was read to as a child, but I have no memory of someone reading books to me. But I remember going to the library from a very young age, and I remember attending story time. I have this very vivid memory of my friend Tina’s mom telling the story of the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” during story time at the library, down in the basement, and she used a felt board to tell the story.

I don’t remember ever making the conscious choice to be a reader…I just was a reader. Dad read books. Mom read books. My brother and sister read books. I read books. We were always reading. Dad liked sports themed books. Mom liked romance and humor, and Danielle Steele and Erma Bombeck were two of her favorites. I’m not sure what Raymond Pert read as I was growing up. I think he liked the sports books as well. Inland Empire Girl shared with me her love of Nancy Drew Mysteries and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books.

As I got older, and I realized that there were people who didn’t read books for pleasure and enjoyment...I was really shocked. What do you mean you aren't a reader???

I always had a book on the floor next to my bed. Sometimes two or three. Rarely did I fall asleep growing up without reading something. (I'm still like that to this day.)

My husband and daughters are the same way. PKR is a reader, and so are all three of my girls. I remember when The Princess was a baby, and a pile of thick cardboard books were her favorite toys.

Writing is something that clicked for me in college. I always liked writing, and it was never hard for me. I kept diaries and journals on and off growing up. I had pen pals at various times growing up.

When I was at the University of Idaho, I was put in the English 103 class, because my writing needed some work. I’m not sure we had the greatest writing teachers at Kellogg High School. I remember taking English 103, then English 104, and thinking to myself, oh this is what an essay is suppose to be.

I had several writing epiphanies in college. The first was from a Teacher’s Assistant who was my English 104 teacher. We were learning the art of writing essays, and one day he brought in a Rolling Stone’s magazine, and read an essay from the magazine, and it made essays make sense to me. It was as if it gave this writing exercise some meaning. I don’t think anyone every explained to me that essay writing was a form of writing, and that the essay was a legitinate form of writing.

The second epiphany came my sophomore year in college in an Introduction to Literature class. My professor’s name was Mason Tung. This is the first class I had where you read a story and analyzed the content and wrote about the meaning of the writing. I loved it, and I was good at it. I remember reading Herman Melville’s short story “Bartleby the Scrivner” and writing an analysis of the story, and finding it a quite enjoyable assignment, and receiving a really good grade on the paper.

When I was a senior in high school, I received a U of I scholarship for Journalism, and one of the requirements of getting the scholarship was to take a journalism class. When I headed off the college, I had no idea what field I wanted to pursue. The only thing I knew I didn’t want to do was be a school teacher. (I guess I thought there were too many in the family already.)

I took some journalism and communications classes, and worked for the college’s newspaper The Argonaut the second semester of my freshman year, and my sophomore year. I enjoyed writing, and did a pretty good job. So a journalism degree I would pursue, then added Communications, and ended up with a Communications degree with an emphasis in Public Relations.

Writing became more and more a part of my life. I love writing people’s stories. I love writing something positive that makes people feel better about themselves. I like being an encouraging writer.

I believe my love of reading and writing was passed down in a somewhat subliminal way through my parents who believed a college education was very important, and the expression of the written word through books and other publications was the way you learned more about the world around you.


Perfect Conditions

Spring condition in the Silver Valley have been perfect this year for flowers.
From the quince bush above...

To the purple lilacs in my backyard...

To the white lilacs in my neighbors back yard.

This spring seems to have produced perfect conditions for all the perfect flowering trees and bushes I see in the Silver Valley.

Thank you, Lord. What a special blessing.