Spring Break in Spokane...or maybe we are on Winter Break

This past weekend we traveled to Spokane and stayed in Liberty Lake, and shopped, watched AAU basketball, and watched really bad TV.
The main reason for the trip to Spokane was to watch Kiki Aru play in the North Spokane Classic AAU Basketball Tournament in Chattaroy. The Silver Valley Sting played their first game Friday night, and they lost. It was not a fun game to watch. There were lots of fouls, and lots of girls getting hurt, and our girls were not looking good.

Saturday was much better. Our team was much better than their two opponents on Saturday, and they played better, too.

On Sunday, they lost their first game, but played well. Their final game was to win either third or fourth place. They won the game and got third in the tournament. Kiki Aru had the best game of her life, and was ON FIRE!!

PKR's brother KDR was also in town because his daughter was playing in a volleyball tournament, too. KDR's wife and his daughter KNR was also there, and we stayed in the same hotel. Z2 and KNR are best buds, and Z2 traveled back to Nampa to spend a few days with her, and will come back Wednesday.

The Princess and I had a wonderful time Saturday morning shopping for prom dresses. She found a beautiful dress. It was fun watching her come out in all the different colors and styles, and finding the one she like the best. Her prom is May 3rd, and I can't wait to share pictures from the big event.

We made a decision when we moved back to Kellogg to not pay for cable television, so we don't have tv at our home. We watch a lot of DVD's and we have my mom tape some shows we like. So when we do stay in a hotel that has cable tv, it is TORTURE. Yes, there are a few things on tv worth watching, but overall, there is a lot of really bad stuff. And there is so much reality tv that is so bad. Why do I want to watch a 40 year old woman who dresses bad go spend $5,000 on a new wardrobe. And is there anyone who really thinks Final Destination 2 was a scary movie? I think I lost a good share of brain cells over the weekend.

Despite the snowy roads, and bad television, we had a wonderful time. Today we had nothing planned, and spent most of the day just laying around doing nothing. We haven't done that in a long time. Besides, it was snowing so hard all day, there wasn't much to do outside. So it was better to just stay in and be lazy bums for the day.

Not a whole lot planned for the week. We are having lunch with friends tomorrow, and dinner with other friends. PKR and I are looking forward to spending time with friends and some time with each other this week.

Bon Soir, mon amies!!


Another Sibling Assigment Makeup--The Little Blue Store

The last sibling assignment I received was from Inland Empire Girl. Here was her assignment for us:

"Pick a local business in the Silver Valley during our growing up years. Share a story that happened to you while being at that business."

IEG wrote about "Stein's IGA" here, and Raymond Pert shared about "The Furniture Exchange" here.
As I pondered on this assignment, I decided to write about a store that is virtually lost in our convience store society. That would be the neighborhood grocery store.

I think once Circle K and Seven Eleven stores started sprouting up, it hurt the small, neighborhood grocery stores.

The Sunnyside area of Kellogg had such a grocery store when I was growing up.

Some people called it "The Little Blue Store".

Other people called it "Swanson's".

To my friend AV and her family, it was "Mina's".

This small grocery store was located on Mission Ave. Ray and Mina Swanson ran the store. As you have probably figured out by now, it was painted blue on the outside.

When you entered the front door, you turned to your right and the small area by the cash register was filled with all kinds of candy. This had good points and bad points. It was good, because you could see all the candy very easily. But, unfortunately, I knew kids who it was TOO convenient for, because they stole the candy without paying for it.

If you went to the left, the store had a small bar where neighbors would come in and have a cold beer with Ray Swanson. They also had a cooler filled with beer and soft drinks, and probably had some other common staples, such as dry goods, eggs, milk, butter, etc.
But my memory was the candy choices.

Here are a few things I remember buying at Swanson's store.

Maybe it will help you think of some of your favorite or not so favorite candy from your youth.

Candy cigarettes. They really didn't taste that great, but they sure seemed fun as a little kid. Then I remember when the bubblegum candy cigarettes were introduced. These were bubblegum wrapped in white paper that looked like cigarettes. They were covered in powdered sugar, so you could blow on them and the puffs of sugar looked like smoke.

Necco wafers were another favorite of mine. The black ones are my favorite.

When the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" came out, it started a whole new product line of candy treats. I think this was the beginning of movie product placement. Not only did we have bottle caps, but there was also the Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar, and the Gobstoppers.

Pop Rocks caused quite a sensation when they arrived on the candy shelf. It was so fun to fill your mouth with these little bits of candy that popped and crackled in your mouth, and made a loud sound.

Wax lips were more fun to wear than they were to eat. The taste was actually pretty gross.
And I never was too fond of the wax bottles filled with different liquid flavors.

Red licorice ropes were another favorite.

Sunflower seeds were a cheap treat. For a long time, you could get a small bag for 5 cents. Then they went up to 10 cents, which was still a bargain.

What one of your favorite candies when you were a kid?

Did you have a favorite store you purchased that candy from?

Sibling Assignment: A Letter To Dad

I'm a little behind on my sibling assignments, so I am playing catch up.

A few weeks ago, I gave this assignment to my siblings:

Listen to this piece of music, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin, and write what you hear.

This video shows what I heard through this piece of music.


A Little Family News To Share

I haven't given an update on recent family events, and I know there are a few of you out there who will be intersted in some of the following tidbits.

**Both Z2 and Kiki Aru qualified to attend State History Day at Albertson's College in Caldwell next month. Z2's group did a documentary titled "The Conflice and Compromise of the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe's Culture". Kiki Aru's group did a performance titled "The Conflict of the Salem Witch Trials". I will be traveling with them to Caldwell the second weekend in April.

**Yesterday PKR, The Princess and I (along with about 12 other KHS students) spend the day at Timberlake High School at the District Speech Festival. I went along to help judge the events. For the second year in a row, The Princess qualified for state competition in Retold Story. In this category, you are given 3 different children's books which you read through, then you choose one and retell the story. Two other KHS students also qualified, one in Impromptu Speaking, and one in Oratorical Analysis. PKR will travel to Rupert, Idaho with these students toward the end of April.

**I was talking to my friend SB tonight on the phone, and it looks like they have two extra tickets to the Elton John concert in Pullman in April, and asked us if we would like to go with them. We will both be coming back from the State History Day competition that day, so we have to work out the details, but I think it might work. How COOL is that!!! A once in a lifetime experience, if you ask me.
**This weekend Kiki Aru has a AAU bball tourney in North Spokane. My niece TR is coming up to Spokane this weekend play volleyball, so we'll have lots to do with PKR's brother's family in Spokane as well.
**Then we'll have a week home for Spring Break, with nothing major planned, and just some time to relax and take it easy before the onslaught of other activities take over our lives between now and the end of school in June. Such is the life when you have three active girls.
Happy Easter everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful day.
He is Risen!!
He is Risen, Indeed!!


I Found Hope In My Front Yard

Despite the continuous fall of snow today (okay, enough already. I loved the big winter, and the tons of snow, but it is spring for goodness sake.)

As I was saying goodbye to my friends this afternoon after our book group, I spied this in the front flower bed. YIPEE!!!

The crocus has emerged and is ready to bloom.

Okay, maybe spring is on the way.


I Danced With John Travolta Tonight

Well, maybe it wasn't exactly John Travolta.
But he sure looked like the handsome guy who danced into my heart in the movie "Saturday Night Fever."

Tonight, my own Disco King PKR and I were part of a fund-raiser for the Kellogg School District Choir Department. It was called "Dancin' With The Stars, Valley Style". It was organized by Joy Persoon, the district choir director.

PKR and I danced to the BeeGees song "More Than A Woman" from Saturday Night Fever.

Other contestants were:

Scott and Amy Hall dancing the Texas Two Step.

Chuck and Judy Lewis dancing The Polka.

Ed and Mary Ruth Butler dancing Freestyle Swing. They were the winners!!

Cherri Bartle and her granson Colton Peeler did Swing Dancing.

Scott Peterson and his daughter Chloe did the waltz.

Ken Bartle and his daughter Bradi Zeigler also danced a waltz. They toook second place.

The judges gave us a "9", and we ended getting third place out of the seven couples.

It was a lot of fun, and a great way to earn money for a wonderful program.

A big part of the evening was honoring Betty Damiano, who has taught dancing in the Silver Valley since 1947. I took dance from her when I was five years old, in 1968-69, tap dancing and ballet.

Here is what the program had to say about this wonderful lady:

Betty Menzel Damiano arrived in the Silver Valley on August 3, 1946, a 22 year old girl who came to learn how to teach dance. From that time until today she has touched thousands of lives, young and old, in a way no one could imagine.

She was born in Bozeman, Montana into a family of music lovers. There were six boys and one girl, and Betty managed to keep up with her brothers. The entire family played instruments that would one day benefit their lives in one way or another. At the age of 18 Betty was living in Seattle going to college and working as an airplane mechanic at Boeing. She was so small that she could crawl inside the winds and tighten or replace bolts. She was an official member of the international Machinists Union, earning 96 cents an hour. Most of the money Betty earned paid for her dance lessons. She studied with some of the best; Ivan Novoktf, Mary Ann Wells and George Barclay. She eventually worked the dance circuits in Hollywood earning money to continue her lessons.

Coming to the Silver Valley to assist as a dancing teacher, Betty met Ernie Damiano and on April 6, 1947 they were married at the Federated Church in Kellogg. They raised four daughters, Rita, Anita Jo, Vicki and Joni. They all were raised to love music and dance, two of which own and run dance studios to this day. Anita Jo has the Anita Damiano Kennedy School of Dance in Nampa, Idaho, and Joni Damiano Bartel has the Joni Damiano Bartel Dance and Performing Arts Studio in Osburn.

(Just a personal sidenote, my daughter The Princess takes dance and voice lessons from Miss Joni, and is preparing for her senior recital. Down in Nampa, our niece Gabriela takes dance lessons at Miss Anita's dance studio. Gabriela's mom is a Damiano, so Anita Jo and Gabriela are cousins.)

For over 20 years, the Damiano School of Dance gave all of their proceeds to community needs including the Lions, Kiwanis, and Parent-Teacher Organizations. They bought a resuscitator for the fire department, wheelchairs for those in need, fencing for the cemetery, microfilm for the library and the Opportunity Bus. For the schools they provided many lights, matching funds for stage curtains, and the tripod for the grand piano. Ernie insisted that they donate all of those earnings; that way they could walk away feeling good.

Of all the things Betty and Ernie have donated to this valley, none is greater than teaching the love of the arts. Dance and music was and still is, near and dear to Betty's heart. Her eyes still gleam and twinkle as she talks about the need for music in one's life. At the age of 84, Betty still goes over to Joni's studio to play the piano and encourage old and young alike taking lessons. Betty loves this area and says, "The gems in the valley are the people, not the gems in the ground." Her presence will always be felt in the Silver Valley, because what she has taught stays in the heart and doesn't ever leave. A lady of grace and charm, there will never be another Betty Damiano. We say thank you.


Wildcard Wednesday--The Shadow of the Wind

Finishing a really good book can always be a bittersweet experience. It is good to come to the end, but when the story is good, and you get involved in the character's lives, it is hard to say goodbye.
Today I finished the book we will be discussing on Friday in our book group, The Shadow of the Wind. The author is Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
The premise of the book is very original. It is set in Barcelona, Spain in 1945. The city is healing from the wounds of war, and Daniel, a book dealer's son finds a book called The Shadow of the Wind by an author named Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery; someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
Yeah, yeah, I pretty much stole that from the back cover of the book. But it is a good synopsis.
It reminded me a little bit of the book "Les Miserable" by Victor Hugo. I think that is one of my favorite books of all time, because of all the twists and turns and subplots and the ways they all seem to eventually intertwine. That is how this book is on some level.
I also love the Spanish way of writing. There is a lot of dreams, and religious symbolism, and mysticism. Zafon also have a wonderful way of developing his characters in this book, especially the various male characters.
I am a very avid reader, but it has been a while since I read a book. Finishing this book was like finishing a banquet after being on a 40 day fast. It was delicious!!
I can't wait until the ladies in my book group come over on Friday, so we can discuss the book. They are to bring Spanish food, so it will be interesting to see what is on the menu on Friday.


Media Monday--CelticWoman

I received the Celtic Woman "A New Journey" CD for Christmas, and really enjoy the sound of these women. I think my ancestors from England must have had some Celtic blood, because I love this kind of music. After watching this video, it makes me want to go visit an old castle in Ireland. Enjoy!!


Family Friday--Family Picture

We said farewell to "The Miser" last Sunday.

Even though "The Miser" has come to a close, we are still busy with other things. This weekend is packed full of things for us and the girls.

Tonight, PKR and I traveled over to Coeur d'Alene and watched Kiki Aru play basketball in an AAU Tournament, which continues through Sunday.

Z2 and Kiki Aru participate in the regional History Day competition at Kellogg Middle School tomorrow.

PKR and I have Easter Cantata dress rehearsal tomorrow, with performances on Sunday at St. Ritas Catholic Church at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The Princess is traveling to Post Falls to be judged in the Solo and Ensemble competition. She is singing "Greensleeves".

So, here, there, everywhere. That is where our family will be this weekend.

Hope you all have a great weekend as well.


Thanks For The Award Sis

Thanks to my sister Inland Empire Girl for awarding me the Best Blogging Buddies Award, and the nice comment she said about my blog here.

I feel like I have become a bit disjointed these last few weeks in the blogging world, so this was a nice way to get me jump started again. I've missed writing my daily posts, and reading other blogs, and commenting on them.

I am passing the Blogging Buddy Award on to four different bloggers who are all guys who have lived in the Silver Valley at one time or another.

First is my brother, Raymond Pert at Kellogg Bloggin. He showed me what blogging is all about, and has shown me that writing honestly can be a very courageous and healing thing to do.

Next is Go Figure at Placer Creek. This past year his comments have been very encouraging and thought provoking. His posts can often make me think in ways I haven't before, or I laugh out loud because they are so humorous. Go Figure grew up in the Centre of the Universe, Wallace, Idaho.

I also enjoy reading Idaho Escapee at Atmospheric Ruminations. His posts range from politics to music to odd trivia that I find very enjoyable. I know if I ever have any questions about music, Idaho Escapee is the one to ask.

My last award goes to one of my newest blogging buddies, Cedar Street Kid at Drivals and Snivals. I've enjoyed his comments, and his observances on life. He also grew up in the Center of the Universe with Go Figure, and has now returned to live in his hometown.

Thanks, guys, for helping make blogging a rich and wonderful experience.


Wildcard Wednesday--Coffee Break

Yes, I am alive and well here in the Silver Valley. The Miser ended on Sunday, and this week I've been busy helping Z2 and Kiki Aru prepare for this Saturday's History Day competition to be held at Kellogg Middle School.

This year's theme is Conlict and Compromise. Kiki Aru and her group are doing a performance on the Conflict of the Salem Witch Trials.

Z2 and her group are creating a documentary called The Conflict and Compromise of the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe's Culture.

They are both doing great, but I'll be glad when this week is over.

I had an unexpected surprise today. An old family friend, Kenton Bird, who graduated from high school with Raymond Pert, was in Kellogg today and we got together for coffee at Josie's Full of Beans in the old McConnell Hotel Building.

He emailed me yesterday to say he was coming to Kellogg, and wondered if we could get together.

It was fun spending an hour with Kenton, and talking about things going on in the Silver Valley, and some projects he is working on, one with Raymond Pert, and another about the history of the Bunker Hill Zinc Plant. Bird's father worked at the Zinc Plant for many years. The Zinc Plant opened in 1928, and this marks the 80th anniversary. Kenton is going to come to the Zinc Plant's 20 years club gathering at the end of April and give a presentation on the history of the Zinc Plant.

We talked some about the local newspaper. He worked as a reporter there when it was the Kellogg Evening News. He is now head of the School of Communications and Journalism at the University of Idaho, which is the school I graduated from.

He was also curious about different things going on in the Silver Valley. He is working on a project that deals with images from old mining towns that have turned into tourist destinations, and looking for similarities.

It was a very interesting visit, and, even though it has been probably 4 or 5 years since I saw Kenton last, our Silver Valley bond caused us to be at ease together right away, and just start talking.

And it made me realize how much I enjoy going out and visiting with people over coffee, and how I don't do that enough. Yes, I'm throwing out an invitation. If you are ever here in the Silver Valley, let me know and we'll meet for coffee.

I'm serious. I'll buy!!


Wildcard Wednesday--Life Imitating Art...or visa versa?

During the past week, PKR and I have been watching the last season of the "West Wing" on DVD. This is one of my all time favorite shows, and this season has taken on new meaning as my husband and I observe this year's Presidential race.

Over the past few nights, PKR has commented on how much this final season's Presidential campaign seems a little familiar. We look at Matt Santos, the minority candidate, (portrayed by Jimmy Smits) and have been amazed at the similarities between Santos and Barack Obama

Then, today, PKR came across this video on SlateV, and it all became clear.

So, let's see in November how close life imitates art.


Take a Picture Tuesday--Kellogg Peak and Haystack Peak

This picture was taken on one of the last morning walks I had with NR before she had surgery. She is doing well, and we hope to get back to our morning routine soon.

The highest peak in the picture is Kellogg Peak, and is part of Silver Mountain, the local ski resort in town. The lower peak is Haystack Peak. There is a big sign with a K on it on top of Haystack Peak. Sometimes my girls like to hike up to Haystack Peak when the weather is nice. But about two years ago, when some of their cousins and friends were here visiting at the end of April, they hiked up there, and, when they returned home, they all had ticks in their hair. So I don't think they have ventured up on that hike since.

In this morning's Shoshone News-Press, the local paper, there was a big article on how Silver Mountain was disappointed that their business is slowing down, even when the snow conditions are great up on the mountain.

But an accompanying article said they have had record attendance this year.

They said they think people are just sick of winter.

I drive by Silver Mountain's parking lot every day on my way to and from work, and I don't even notic any more if the parking lot is full or not. It seems like there are always skiers coming or going to get on the gondola.

I think Silver Mountain can be pretty happy with their season this year. And they anticipate being open, at least on the weekends, through April.

In fact, they anticipate having a little trouble clearing the trails in time for the Memorial Day opening of the mountain bike trails, because of all the snow.

Oh, and the snow just keeps on coming. The last two days we have had snow falling.

At least it is covering up the ugly dirty piles of snow.


Media Monday--Queen Greatest Hits

This past week it has been nothing but Queen songs going through my head. The greatest hits album is what is in the car as we go up to the play, and it is what is being hummed as I walk down the halls of KMS at work each day.
So many of these song evoke so many memories. I have shared a few in previous posts, such as the state basketball tournament.
I'm not a fan of all the songs on this album, but some of my favorites include:

We Will Rock You

We Are The Champions

Another One Bites The Dust

Somebody To Love

You're My Best Friend

Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Bohemian Rhapsody
Under Pressure


Sibling Saturday and Sacred Sunday: Theater Draws Me Closer to God

Write about an experience you had in the theater

that helped you grow into a better person.

As I contemplated this week on Raymond Pert’s sibling assignment, I realized there wasn’t one particular experience in the theater that helped me grow into a better person, but the ongoing experience as a whole.

And to me, it was coming to the place where I wasn’t performing to make myself look good, or to receive great accolades, but to be a servant to the performance, and realize it is much bigger than just me.

My life in the theater is a very spiritual experience, because I see it as a way of letting God work through me to touch others in a unique and special way. Often it is by sharing joy and laughter, which can be a very healing moment, not only for the audience, but for myself as well.

Acting, and creating a character, is a process that allows me to listen to what the character has to say, and letting that come through my performance.

It also is a way to work with the other actors on stage, and help them give the best performance they can give.

Theater is one of the best ways to tell a story, and story is the way to convey truth. Why do you think Jesus consistently used parables throughout His ministry as a way of telling the people about the Kingdom of God?

A book that is full of revelation about the creative process was written by Madeleine L’Engle, and is called “Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art”. I have adopted many of her philosophies about art in my life, and in the way I view the creative process. Here is an excerpt from this book where L’Engle shares about being a servant to the artistic work.

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to the work, and so he often wrote better than he could write; Bach composed more deeply, more truly than he knew; Rembrandt’s brush put more of the human spirit on canvas than Rembrandt could comprehend.
When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.
But before he can listen, paradoxically, he must work. Getting out of the way and listening is not something that comes easily, either in art or in prayer.
Before I can listen to God in prayer, I must fumble through the prayers of words, of willful demands, the prayers of childish “Gimmes”, of “Help mes,” of ‘I want…” Until I tell God what I want, I have no way of knowing whether or not I truly want it. Unless I ask God for something, I do not know whether or not it is something for which I ought to ask, and I cannot add, “But if this is not your will for me, then your will is what I want, not mine.” The prayers of words cannot be eliminated. And I must pray them daily, whether I feel like praying or not. Otherwise, when God has something to say to me, I will not know how to listen. Until I have worked through self, I will not be enabled to get out of the way.
Someone wrote, “The principal part of faith is patience,” and this applies, too, to art of all disciplines. We must work every day, whether we feel like it or not, otherwise when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it.

To bring laughter and joy to others is an incredible honor. Joy is one of the fruits of the spirit, and to share it with others is a way to share God’s love.
Over the past four years that I have been involved in the Sixth Street Theater in Wallace, it has helped me become more confident in who I am as a person. I have become artistically more courageous, and, in many personal areas, I felt like I have had the courage to take more risks.
It helps when you collaborate with a wonderful group of people who share their love and encouragement with you, which then helps you to grow as a person.
I love being a part of this theater, and, through this experience, have learned to take the gifts God has given me to share them with others, and to help spread some light and Truth into others lives as well.

Inland Empire Girl's theater experience is here, and Raymond Pert's will be here.