Tonight I was a Halloween Scrooge.
Usually I enjoy Halloween. I like to decorate the house in fall colors, and put a scarecrow out front on some straw bales. The kids carve pumpkins that we light up on Halloween night.
But not this year. I bought three pumpkins, but they are just sitting on the front porch, uncarved.
I didn't buy candy. I didn't give any out.
We darkened the house, and put a sign on the front door saying we weren't home.
Kiki Aru and Z2 went trick or treating with some friends. PKR was up all night last night sweating and having the chills, so, after traveling with The Princess to a doctor's appointment in Spokane this afternoon, he went to bed. So did The Princess.
The girls usually go around our neighborhood for about a 1/2 hour, then go over to my mom's house and visit some homes in her neighborhood. (They especially like going to Don Knott's house down the street from mom's house. He is the Hostess Man, and he always gives out Hostess treats.)
Usually PKR takes the kids over to mom's house, but, since he was in bed, I took them over, and visited with mom, and saw some of her trick or treaters, so that was fun. After the girls were done trick or treating, we stopped at Subway to buy them some sandwiches, then we came home.
So, no enjoying the little spooks and goblins and princessess this year. No playing Halloween music through the speaker on our front porch. No having the kids take candy from our talking witch candy dish.
It just didn't happen this year.
Maybe next year.
God Bless Us, Every One.


Totally Tubular, Man

One day these tubes just suddenly appeared across the street from Kellogg Middle School where I work.And these blue pieces showed up as well. Well, it looks as if Silver Mountain is making progress on the construction of the indoor water park.

If you look across the track and field, you see the framework of the indoor water park rising up in front of the Morning Star Lodge. I kind of looks like a large erector set at this point.

According to the Silver Mountain website:
The new Silver Rapids waterpark will include thrilling swirl pools, body and tube slides, a lazy river, family raft slide, kid’s activity lagoon, and the ultimate in aquatic attractions – a FlowRider Surf Wave. In just 10 seconds, 10.000 gallons of surging water is released into the FlowRider’s wave box, combining the thrills of surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding all in a wet, wild, and – best of all – safe environment. The FlowRider is one ride that will never be the same twice and is destined to become one of the favorite thrills at Silver Rapids.
Open year-round, Silver Rapids not only will provide endless aquatic fun, it also makes Silver Mountain Resort an even more attractive multi-season destination resort. As one of the most unique amenities at any mountain resort, the new waterpark is scheduled to open in early 2008.
To find out more about what fun things will be at the waterpark, go here.

#98--My Tree--Full of Yellow Leaves and Long Autumn Shadows

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
- William Shakespeare


Living in a Dry and Parched Land

Yellowstone River, Montana

This week's sibling assignment was given to us by Raymond Pert. The assignment for this week is What do you enjoy or love about the rain?

I never thought much about rain growing up in the Silver Valley, a mining community whose largest employers, the mines, didn't care one way or another if it was raining on the ground or not. All the natural resources came from underground, and raining or not, it didn't affect the outcome of the final product.

This wasn't the case during my years living in eastern Montana in the latter part of the 1980's. It was quite an eye-opening experience moving from a mining community, to an agricultural community, whose farmers relied on a good rain season because they were dry land farmers.

Every day, there would be talk about the weather. Either it rained too little, or if it did rain, it wasn't at the right time, or it rained too much.

But through this whole experience, I came to appreciate the rain. It was not longer just something beautiful to watch in the mountain valley of my youth. It was now a necessity that people relied on for their livelihood.

I remember the first year I was in Glendive, and part of my job was a college recruiter for the local community college. That winter had a decent amount of snow, because I remember driving in it.

But the following years, the snowfall wasn't as good. I remember PKR and I took up cross country skiing, and we had to drive to Yellowstone Park the winter of 1987 because that was the closest place to find snow. And it was so dry, there were elk just laying around the town of Gardner, Montana, where we stayed.

I found an old New York Times article about the drought dated July 7, 1988. It was comparing the Montana drought to the Dust Bowl of the 1930's. One of the farmers interviewed in the article was a man named Carl Hopkins, and this is what he had to say:

''I've been in this country since 1912,'' said Mr. Hopkins, an 85-year-old rancher who built a 320-acre homestead into a 16,000-acre grain and cattle operation 190 miles east of Billings. ''I've never seen it like this, not even in '34. My God, look at it. It's as bare as a dance floor.''

I remember traveling across I-94, and seeing the dry river beds in the summer. The parched ground. The hot, dry winds blowing across the prairie.

And it made you appreciate a good rain. It made you realize how much depended on the rain. When the sky finally burst forth with a good rainfall, you thanked God because your prayers were finally answered, and some crops may be saved after all.

Living along the Yellowstone River in Glendive made for an interesting view. My first apartment looked over this muddy river, a bit different from the river I was used to, The Coeur d'Alene River.

The first year I lived in Glendive, the river froze over, and, in the spring, the river "goes out" a term I had never heard before. It is an amazing sight. When the ice on the river starts breaking up in Miles City, the word gets to Glendive faster than the break up, and you know it is coming. Pretty soon, huge ice chunks are crashing and breaking their way down the river, and finding solid ground along the banks. Then the water starts running again.

Unfortunately, this only happened one year, the first year I moved there, the spring of 1986. In the years following, at least until April of 1991 when we moved, the winters were always too mild to even freeze the river. I will never forget the first witnessing of the "going out" of the river. And I think some of those ice chunks didn't melt until June.

So now, I enjoy the rain for two reasons. One, one of the most beautiful sights is to watch a thunder and lightening storm in the mountains, with the lightening flashing brightly, lighting up the whole valley, and the rain coming down in torrents.

And I also enjoy it, because each time the rain falls, I know it is fulfilling its obligation, to provide moisture to a dry and parched land, wherever that may be.


I Do Believe in Spooks

“I do believe in spooks. I do believe in spooks. I do I do I do I do I do believe in spooks.”
~The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

Today on Huckleberries Online, question was posed based on a poll in the Idaho Statesman. It asked the following question…

Roughly one third of Americans believe in ghosts and UFOs, and a whopping 48 percent believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP. Which of these do you believe in? -- Idaho Statesman.
*Ghosts and UFOs
*UFOs and ESP
*ESP and ghosts*
All three

I do believe in ghosts. Or spooks. Or some kind of spiritual energy that we cannot define or pinpoint where it comes from.

Too many people I know have stories or encounters with the spiritual realm. And I use “spiritual realm” in a very broad sense, because some of my Christian friends probably wouldn’t say they saw a ghost, but rather had an encounter with an evil spirit or demon, or perhaps even an angel.

Maybe I run with a very mystical crowd, but I can almost guarantee if you sit down with groups of people I know and start talking about weird, unexplained “ghost” encounters, most people will have a story, either one they experienced first hand, or one someone they know has told them.

This happened to me a few years ago while working as a reporter for the Shoshone News-Press. We were doing a special Halloween issue, and I was told of a woman who lived in town who could communicate with ghosts.

She couldn’t see them, she couldn’t hear them, but she could sense their presence.

One of my colleagues at the newspaper was from Mullan, and lived in two different houses up in Mullan that she said were “haunted”. So I contacted the “ghost whisperer” and we journeyed up to Mullan to hunt for some ghosts.

The first house we visited was abandoned, and was being readied by the owners to be torn down. When my friend lived in the house, her daughter used to see images of someone in the house when she was up in her bedroom. Accompany us on our adventure to this house was the next door neighbor’s daughter who remembers seeing a man’s face in the window when they were young and played in the house.

We started walking through the house, and the ghost whisperer said she felt a presence up in the attic. So she went up there by herself, and was up there for awhile. When she came down, the oddest thing happened. She said there was a man’s spirit up in the attic and she described what he was wearing, and, as she shared with us what she sensed he was saying to her, her whole demeanor and body changed, and she became that man for a few seconds. The person with us who had seen the man’s face in the window years earlier said, “that is the face I saw in the window”.

The ghost whisperer said the man knew something was going on in the house, and was confused. He was the main “force” in the house, but there were others as well, they just weren’t as strong.

But at no part in this whole experience did I ever feel frightened.

Well, by this time the sun had set in Mullan, and the house had no electricity, so we moved on to the current house my colleague lived in, again in Mullan. She again said this house was haunted.

This story again involved her daughter who saw the ghost in this house. (According to the ghost whisperer, some people can see ghosts, some can hear them, and others can sense them. This girl obviously could see them.)

While a student in high school, my friend’s daughter stayed home sick from school one day, and was sleeping on the couch in the living room. She woke up and saw a boy about her same age sitting in a rocking chair by the couch.

For some reason, she decided to look in some old Mullan High School yearbooks, and found a picture of the boy she had seen in her living room. This boy’s sister still lived in town, and she said they had lived in this house in Mullan when her brother was in high school, but he never graduated because he died of leukemia his senior year. There is an unfinished bedroom in this house that was suppose to be for this boy, but it was never finished. They believe that is where he “lives”. So the ghost whisperer and I went in this room so she could communicate with him. We stood in there and were very still. She did communicate with him, and asked him to somehow touch me or make his presence know to me, but, according to her, he was too shy.

Again, there was never any fear while we were in this house. To me, it was fascinating.

I think I am a mystic at heart, and that is why the paranormal, or “spiritual realm” fascinates me. A mystic is a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.

According to this, aren’t all Christians who have some experience with the Holy Spirit a mystic? I do not have tangible proof that I was filled with God’s Holy Spirit during August 1981. But I have faith that God was behind it all. I know in my heart that my whole outlook on life changed, that I now wanted to live my life for God, not see what I could get from God. And I didn’t swear anymore. And I can assure you, this was not done by my own power.

I like the fact that faith is described in the Bible in Hebrews 11:1-3 like this:
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

There are things that happen in life where we have no tangible evidence, and I like that we don’t have evidence for everything. I don’t have tangible evidence why, out of all the men I dated, that my husband was the one I chose to spend the rest of my life.

I have no tangible evidence why I knew certain people in my life were moving away, even before it was announced, or the thought had even crossed their mind.

I have no tangible evidence why my sister-in-law dreaded going home to her new house until her father, who was also her Pastor, came and prayed away a demon or bad spirit in her home. But once it was gone, peace was returned to her home.

I have no tangible evidence why the night before we were leaving Meridian to move to Kellogg, our car alarm kept going off. Or why, earlier that day, I heard voices talking through the grate in the living room floor, but no one was down in the basement.

But I do have faith….faith in things I do not see. Faith that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Faith that there is a whole spiritual realm out there that we get a glimpse into every once in a while. But I like mysteries. Mysteries are good.

Why does everything have to be explained? (Can you tell I am predominately right-brained?)

We need our mysticm. We need a belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience.

This helps us see outside of ourselves, and experience something greater than ourselves.


#97-- My Tree-- Autumn's Arrival

Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian princes,
But soon they’ll turn to ghosts;
- William Allingham


Whiskey Lullabye live Brad Paisley Allison Krauss at the CMA

One of the songs found on my newest favorite CD "A Hundred Miles or More" Alison Krauss, A Collection. The more I listen to this CD and the songs, the more I love them. Each and every song is wonderful. Some are hauntingly beautiful. They take me back to another time and place.


October Sunset in the Silver Valley

I happened to be sitting in the right place at the right time tonight, and saw the most beautiful colors out my living room window. So I went outside with my camera, hoping to do this October sunset justice.
It didn't turn out half bad.
This is the view of the sunset tonight in Kellogg. Because we are in a valley, we don't get a whole lot of beautiful sunsets, so, when we do, it is a blessing to experience them as they happen.
Kellogg sunsets are much different than the sunsets in Big Sky Country in Montana. They are also different from the Treasure Valley in southern Idaho. There, the skies are big, and go on forever. The sun and clouds and light have a lot more room to spread and color up the sky.
So, in the Silver Valley, when we have a beautiful sunset with pinks and purples, and oranges and blues, we don't take it for granted. We savor the beauty of the often short-lived phenomenon as the sun is setting in the western sky over the old Bunker Hill grounds.
And I know this valley is too much of a closed in space for some. I remember hearing about a teacher I had in high school who was from Butte, Montana. He had to get out of town every so often because the valley was too confining for him.
I have never felt confined by these mountains. They have always been a comfort to be, almost like a blanket swaddling me and giving me comfort.
When I lived in Montana, and would drive west through Big Sky Country to come home, I will never forget the feeling of getting to about Frenchtown, Montana, and feeling the mountains starting to close in, and the valley getting narrower. I knew that I was almost home.
This valley has always been home. Even when I have geographically lived in other places, this is what my body rhythms know. I never got used to the longer seasons in Glendive, Montana, or Meridian, Idaho. I never got used to the badlands of Montana, or the high desert of southern Idaho. The mountains and the valley is where I belong.
It courses through my veins like the minerals in the earth that surround me each and every day.
And I, like a miner, dig and blast what I can from this valley each and every day. Some days it is hard work, but it is well worth it in the end.


Man, I need to get focused

Okay, how did a week go by without writing anything? I need to get focused. I think I've been a little anti-computer this week. I hope it is just a phase.

I need to get back into writing daily, and taking pics of my tree. I need a bit of discipline. I've been a bit undisciplined these past few weeks. It is like I don't want to deal with responsiblity. Well, not in each area of my life, but in some. (Especially the dreaded money budgeting...ugh!)

So, I'm going to try a little harder this week to write more, read more, and share a bit more about what is going on.

I have started a book this week, called "Eat, Pray, Love", by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think it is the HBO book club pic this month. It is also my Huckleberry Book Club pic this month. It looks like a fascinating book, about a woman who goes to Italy, India and Bali, and writes about her experiences.

Some of my lack of focus comes from all these things I want to do with my life. And I find it hard to focus on what project to focus on first. Plus, I am doing other things, and how do I fit them all in before I die. Perhaps I'm getting to the age where I am realizing my own mortality.

Perhaps it is because of this show I've been watching on DVD, "Slings and Arrows". It is such a well written show, and so well done, that it wouldn't surprise me if it made me think of loftier purposes for my life. There are three seasons of this show, with the first season focusing on youth, the second season focusing on midlife, and the last season focusing on old age. Maybe it has got me thinking. I don't think I'm having a crisis...it is more realizing there are things I want to create, but I'm not sure when I'm going to get around to doing it all. It can be a bit overwhelming.
So, time for self-discipline. Time for focus. Time to create.


Sonnet 29 Story Still Told Today

Better late than never. My sibling assignment is finished. Yes, the overachiever in me put it to pictures and music. Here was our assignment this week, given to us by Inland Empire Girl. Her post is here, and Raymond Pert’s is here.

“Think of a poet that has inspired your writing, your thinking, and/or your view of the world. Use your words, the poet’s words, and images (and music if you want to be an overachiever!) to illustrate how this poet has influenced your life."

I chose William Shakespeare, and, in particular, Sonnet 29.

As far as Shakespeare goes, I think anyone who is part of the western culture and writes cannot help but be inspired by Shakespeare’s writings. His works are a masterpiece, bigger than the writer.

I, like most students, was probably first exposed the works of Shakespeare in my freshman English class when we read Romeo and Juliet.

In college, I remember taking the class “Shakespeare for Non-Majors” at the University of Idaho (and I can’t remember the professor’s name, but I do remember people were scared of this guy. I think he was a little easier on us non-major students. But his did know his Shakespeare.) I always enjoyed studying Shakespeare’s plays.

But the most defining moment for me and Shakespeare’s writings was December 10, 1984. This was the night a handsome young man dropped to his knee in front of me and said this:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself, and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

And then PKR asked me to marry him.

This sonnet has rolled around in my head quite a bit in the last 23 years. The wonderful thing about poetry is it tells a story, but that story can be interpreted by the reader, or the one reciting the poem.

It is amazing to me that hundred of years later; Shakespeare’s 29th Sonnet can tell the story of what PKR was going through at the time building up to our engagement.

We were both students at U of I, and had been since the fall of 1983, when PKR transferred there from a college in Montana. College didn’t always agree with PKR, and he had his struggles. One of them that year was the inability to sleep at night. He went through a phase where he would be awake all night, and sleep during the day. Well, as you know, this doesn’t work too well when you have classes to attend during the day. (At the time, he wasn’t sure what was going on, and why he was acting this way. When you’re in college, all kinds of strange behaviors go on, and you just learn to deal with them. A few years after we were married, PKR was reading the book Born Again by Charles Colson. Colson described similar behavior after being put in jail after Watergate. Colson described it as depression.)

As you read this sonnet, it tells the story of one not happy with the state of his life. But then something happens. He looks upon the love of his life, and realizes how blessed he is, and that this love has changed his life, and he wouldn’t want to change his life with anyone, not even a king.

And, I am fortunate that this story has continued for the past 23 years. Each and every day PKR has convinced me that thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings. And I have never, ever felt in our time together that he would ever want to be with anyone other than me. And, this poem continues to live in our daughter’s lives as well. PKR and I have screwed up as parents on many, many occasions, but one we have done well is that our girls know we love each other.

I’d like to share a story The Princess shared with me from one of her classes this last week at school. It broke my heart. In her Senior English Class, they were talking about “courtly love”, and they had an assignment to write a list of ten things that, to them signified “true love”. The Princess said she would just look to her mom and dad to get some ideas, because they were always holding hands when they walked, or she always catching them kissing and she’d have to tell them to stop all the time.

She was surprised at the reaction she received from her fellow classmates when she said this about her parents. Their reaction was they just saw their parents fight and yell at each other, and they weren’t sure if they loved each other or not, at least romantic love.

As I said before, it broke my heart.

But, I’m sure this story can be found in Shakespeare’s writings as well. He knew how to tell stories about humanity so well.

And I am fortunate that his 29th Sonnet still tells part of my story to this very day. And it makes me want to write about what the true human condition is, and how we can learn from it, and be moved by it, and how the people’s stories told through many forms of writing, including poetry, can help us understand ourselves better.


KHS Homecoming 2007

It was homecoming this week at Kellogg High School. It was exciting for this family because The Princess was one of the candidates up for Homecoming Queen.
So it wasn't really that big of deal to me that the Kellogg Wildcats beat the St. Maries Lumberjacks 61-12. I was having more fun helping The Princess get ready for the halftime Homecoming festivities.
Unfortunately she didn't win, even thought I felt like she was the most beautiful candidate. But then a mother is always prejudiced. And, even though she wasn't crowned queen, she continues to be the beautiful Princess in this home.


Profession of Faith

Last Sunday we had one family dedicate their daughter to the Lord, and after church we had four people baptized. In our church, water baptism is a public declaration of a decision made to follow Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

I was the designated photographer for the day, and so I took the pictures and made this video. I will make copy for each of the families involved that day. It was an exciting day, especially knowing the way God has transformed these lives. I hope this gives them a special visual depiction of their special day.