Gathering Graces 2/27/2018

*Nikki spotted five elk up on the CAP across from the Kellogg School District office as we drove home from walking this morning.  I have always known they would hang out up there, but this is the first time I have seen some up on top.
*I got a lot accomplished today with the senior students.  Many of the students who needed to got their FAFSA completed and submitted did.  I had a couple of parents come in today to help their student get it submitted.  It feels good to see the students complete this part of the college going process.
*Families are so much more transit these days than when I was growing up.  It was rare to get “new kids” in school when I was in elementary school, or have someone move away.  Today in my drama group after school, there were at least three students who were moving away soon, and three others who would be moving away this summer.  And that is in a group of only about 15 students.  I see it at the high school as well, a lot of coming and going of students.  I know moving here from Meridian for was tough on our three girls, especially Molly, who was between fourth and fifth grade.  It is a hard transition. Even in the best of circumstances.
*I got an exciting text early this evening from my niece Karlie letting me know that her and Daniel had become engaged the evening before.  It was so excited to hear this news, and I am so glad Daniel is going to become part of our family.


Gathering Graces 2/26/2018

*Paul and I took a personal day today and stayed home so we could have an additional day to relax and get some things done at home.  It was so nice to have a leisurely morning.
*I got some writing done, and some brainstorming.  Then I spent some time “purging” the food in my house because I am starting to eat differently on March 1, so I am getting rid of many canned food items, grain products, and sugary products.  So I am in planning mode to get that all ready by Thursday.
*On the way home from Nelson on Sunday, I had downloaded some podcasts for Paul and I to listen to in the car from the Inside Appalachia podcast.  One of the episodes was about stories about strength and resilience of people, and talked about a documentary that was recently produced called Heroin(e), about three women in a West Virginia community who were helping in their own way with the opioid crisis in their community.  I decided to see if it was on Netflix, and didn’t realize it was a Netflix original documentary.  So I watched it last night and it was inspiring and sad at the same time.  The statistics of overdoses in the community due to heroin overdose, and how the death rate has increased was staggering.  And the sad thing is, this opioid crisis has crept into our own community and I hope we don’t start seeing these statistics in the Silver Valley.
*Today at the after school program, I gave the students a chance to talk about their weekend, and one student shared a story about her cousin Jake in Illinois who helped call attention to a  house fire, and the man who lived in the house was rescued.  He was a WWII veteran in his 90’s.  He lost everything in the fire, so the students at this boy’s elementary school (he is a third grader), made the gentleman cards and raised about $2400 to give to him.  It was a very heart warming story that was the final news segment on ABC’s World Wide News on Sunday night.  I told the student I would try and find the story, and sure enough, I found the clip about the story online.  You could tell she was very proud of her cousin!!


Gathering Graces 2/25/2018

*We were in no rush to depart our accommodations this morning, so the morning was very relaxing.  Because we were unsure of what the roads may be like, we wanted to leave by around 10:30 a.m. so we would have plenty  of light for the drive home.
*We spent some time tidying up around the place, and we were packed up and ready to head out around 10:30 a.m. as we planned. 
*It was lightly snowing in Nelson as we departed.  A few miles out of town, we saw a car that had just slid off the road.  But all in all, the roads were not bad from Nelson to Kellogg.  I was actually surprised that there wasn’t more snow when we arrived home, because I kept seeing postings on Facebook of blowing and falling snow in the Silver Valley. 
*We pulled into the garage just about 3 p.m. exactly.  It was nice to see Sadie, Toby, Benjamin and Clark, and they seemed excited to see us, too.  Soon the snow started falling and the wind started blowing here in Kellogg for most of the afternoon.
*Bill said he would have dinner prepared for us if we would like to come over, so Paul and I ventured out around 6 p.m. and had a wonderful chicken dinner that Bill had prepared, and enjoyed sharing about our trip with Bill and Debbie.  Debbie and I also talked about knitting, and Watergate and the four of us talked about the play Paul is working on up at Sixth Street, and how it was going.
*Paul and I returned home and before long, it was time to head for bed.  We both took a personal day tomorrow as well, so we have one more day of “vacation” before heading back to work on Tuesday.
*For my friends in the Silver Valley, if you want a close and fun place to go for the weekend, that is not too far away, I highly recommend Nelson.  It only takes about 4 hours to get there, there is a lot to do, and it is beautiful. 


Gathering Graces 2/24/2018

*We had a beautiful day here in Nelson with blue skies and nice temperatures to do some exploring in the area.

The sun was shining today in Nelson
*After we left our Airbnb, we headed to the Oso Negro Cafe for coffee and a Breakfast Bun.  Paul and I both ordered a Canadiano, which is a mug of drip coffee with shots of espresso.  It was delicious.  Oso Negro also roasts their own coffee.

Lovely breakfast and coffee at Oso Negro Cafe

*After breakfast we headed downtown and visited the Touchstone Museum.  When we went in we discovered it was Heritage Week, and so the museum was free that day.  The first exhibit was photographs of indigenous peoples in Canada.  I was struck how the photos from the people who lived around Nelson had similar facial characteristics to some of the tribal members where we live in north Idaho.  Then we went upstairs in the museum, and learned about the history of Nelson.  It was very interesting.  Much of the mining information was very familiar.  It even mentioned Jim Wardner visiting the area in the late 1880’s.  I was also reminded that the movie Roxanne, with Steve Martin, was filmed in Nelson.

Nelson was the setting for the movie Roxanne

*After the museum we headed to Baker Street, and went to The Craft Connection to buy an item Christy wanted me to buy for her, and also went to the Dollar Store.  This is the only dollar store where no item I saw was $1.  Everything I saw cost more than $1.  I am really not sure why it is called a Dollar Store.  But Paul bought some reading glasses and sunglasses.

New sunglasses
*After shopping we drove to Ainsworth Hot Springs to relax in the healing mineral waters.  A unique feature of Ainsworth is a cave that you can walk through, with water temperatures at 110 degrees.  It was a lovely couple of hours enjoying soaking in the pool and caves before we headed back to Nelson.

Relaxing Hot Springs

*We had some leftover meat, cheese and bread when we arrived home, and rested for a while before heading back to downtown Nelson for dinner.  While we were resting, I heard someone out front sweeping snow.  I went outside and met our Airbnb hostess Laura.  She was very nice, and we told her how much we enjoyed her Garden Observatory to stay in for our little getaway.
*My friend Rebecca recommended dining at the Hume Hotel.  We took her up on her recommendation, and dined at the Library Lounge.  It was wonderful.  I ordered a Chocolate Chipotle BC Salmon.  The menu described my entree as a Cocoa and Chipotle Rubbed Sockeye, served with Garlic Rubbed Broccolini (there was also sauteed red cabbage and steamed carrots), and a Sweet Potato and Carrott Latke with Harissa Sauce.  The highlight for me was the latke served with Harissa Sauce.  I had no idea what Harissa Sauce was, so I looked it up, and here is a description:
Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chile paste that's a widely used staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Harissa recipes vary between countries and regions, but a standard version includes a blend of hot chile peppers (which are often smoked), garlic, olive oil and spices, like cumin, coriander, caraway and mint. Tomatoes and rose petals are also common ingredients.

Delicious dinner

*Paul enjoyed a Nelson Brewing Company Ale Battered Halibut Fish and Chips.

Paul's fish and chips
*For dessert, we tried the Cashew Cream Custard made with Burnt Miso, Almond Milk, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Candied Pecans and Himalayan Salt.  It was very delicious.

Coffee and Dessert
*At dinner, Paul asked our waitress if it was obvious we were Americans.  She said you can’t tell by looking, but when we talk you can tell.  We have longer “A” sounds.  She used the word “draft” as an example.  We hold out the “a” sound longer in a word like draft.  I have observed some Canadians sound very similar to the way we speak.  Others have a very distinctive dialect or accent. 
*Once back at the Garden Observatory, Paul and I talked about a project we are researching to possibly start working on, and finished an episode of The Crown we had started the night before.  What a beautiful, wonderful full day spent here in beautiful British Columbia.

What a wonderful day


Gathering Graces 2/23/2018

*The morning was filled with melancholy as we said goodbye to Archie.  Glenn, Archie’s owner, recently returned to Coeur d’Alene and moved into an apartment that takes pets, and so he contacted me earlier in the week, and said he would like to come get Archie on Friday.  So Glenn and his friend Matt showed up early this morning, loaded up Archie and his things, and we said goodbye.  We enjoyed having Archie around the past three months, and we hope all is well in his new home.

Goodbye Archie
*Soon after Archie was on his way, Paul and I were on our way as well.  To help celebrate our February “Twelve Dates of Christmas”, we decided a weekend in Nelson, British Columbia was in order.  The first time I visited Nelson was back in August of 2013, when Bill, Christy and I took a sibling outing to Nelson.  I am glad I get to return.
*We headed north through Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, crossed the border in Washington at Newport, and our first stop was in Metaline Falls for lunch at Cathy’s Diner.   What a wonderful cafe.  Our country needs places like this for people to eat and gather together.  I enjoyed a French Dip, and Paul had the Mushroom Swiss burger.  Such a charming place.

Cathy's Cafe in Metaline Falls, Washington
*We were back on the road, heading north to the border crossing between the USA and Canada.  We shared our passports, and assured the border patrol we had no firearms in our vehicle, and we were on our way. 
*As we arrived in Nelson, there was a sign for Observatory Street, where our Airbnb Vacation Rental was located, so we easily found our accommodations at the Observatory Garden Studio.

Observatory Garden Studio
*Downtown Nelson is about five blocks downhill from our rental, so we put our boots, coat, hats and gloves and walked down to Nelson.  We strolled up and down Baker Street, and stopped in a book store and browsed.  After checking things out, we decided to go buy some wine (you have to go to the liquor store for that), then the nice young man at the liquor store told us about the Kootenay co-op a couple blocks away where we purchased a nice variety of breads, salami, apples and cheeses to take home and enjoy for our evening meal. 

Great store!

*It was the perfect choice for dinner.

Friday night dinner
*I am so thankful Paul and I are able to get away together for a few days and enjoy the beauty of Nelson, BC and the beauty of spending time alone together.

Enjoying a snowy evening on Baker Street in Nelson, BC


Gathering Graces 2/22/2018

*List making is something that keeps me on track, especially when I want to make sure I get everything done I need to get done.  So today, I was tracking many lists for things to accomplish at work and for home.  I did pretty good checking things off my list, and getting things done.  What a great feeling!!
*It was a crazy day at work today.  There was a lot going on, some good, some not so good.  But through it all, I am really glad I work with such a great group of people.
*I had some errands to do after work, and got those done, then arrived home, and relaxed with some television watching.  I had three chicken breasts, which I had planned to marinade, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, I sprinkled on some kosher salt and curry powder and baked them in the oven, and it was delicious!!  I had never tried curry powder on baked chicken breasts before, and I was very happy with the result.
*I spent some time cleaning up the kitchen, and getting ready for a little get-a-away Paul and I are taking for a few days.  This is date number two in our Twelve Dates of Christmas.
*Paul has been directing a play up at the theater called The Rivals. It is a comedy of manners by Richard Brinsley Sheridan presented as a reader's theater. It opens Friday, March 2, and will be presented Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. the first three weekends in March.  It was nice as he shared about how the rehearsals were going, and how they are preparing for opening night.


Gathering Graces 2/21/2018

*Paul had said earlier I had crocuses trying to bloom in the front flower bed.  I went out front, and sure enough, they are trying to stay warm in the -3 degree temperatures.  I hope they survive the cold.
*It was sad to hear about the passing of Billy Graham today.  What a wonderful man.  He will be missed.  He was used by God in so many people’s lives.  Recently, on one of the episodes of The Crown, Queen Elizabeth requested he come and talk to her several times while he was visiting London when he was first starting out as an evangelist.  Their conversations were very interesting.  The Queen seemed very intrigued by Billy Graham. 
*Usually I don’t leave my P.E.O. meeting with gifts, but tonight I was the winner of the prize drawing, and won a nice black scarf, and I also received a beautiful quilted table runner from Ann Hill as a thank you for being one of her officers.  It was a cold night to venture out, but I am glad I did, because we had a really nice meeting.
*The Internet has been going out from about 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each night here in Kellogg.  My theory...people streaming the Winter Olympics.  I could be totally off base, but that is my thought.  We will see if things improve after the Olympics are over.
*Yesterday I went downstairs to the freezer to see what meat was down there, and there were some steaks and some chicken breasts.  I brought them up to thaw them, and Paul grabbed the steaks and broiled them for dinner tonight.  I told him I would marinate the chicken breasts, and we will prepare those tomorrow night.


Gathering Graces 2/20/2018

*Br-r-r-r-r!!  It was hovering near zero degrees this morning.  I am so glad we have snow covering things on the ground.  But the clear morning skies made for a beautiful sunrise this morning.
*When I got to work  I realized I had forgot to bring my purse.  So I hopped back in the car (thank goodness I only live about 5 minutes away from the school), and when I pulled up, I had somehow opened the left hand garage door, so it was open, and Archie (the dog) was probably very cold in his kennel in the garage.  (Our garage is heated, so usually he is very toasty and warm.)  So I grabbed my purse, made sure BOTH garage doors were shut, and headed back to work.  I guess it was a good thing I forgot my phone, at least for Archie’s sake!!
*I had a big group of students in Drama after school today...18 students, grades 1-5.  We focused on Improvisation today, and next Monday and Tuesday as well.  It was, as always, a really fun time.
*Mini Chocolate Chip and Almond Toll House Cookies were made in the kitchen tonight.  There were some bags of different kinds of chocolate chips left over from Christmas baking that I want to get rid of, so I made a batch of cookies tonight.  I am going to continue to make cookies this week and try and use them all up.
*The zero degree weather brings me back to gardening, and I like to compare what is going on in my life to what is going on in my garden.  We had spring like weather here in Kellogg for about a week and a half.  Then all of a sudden, the snow comes, almost a foot and a half, and covers the ground.  Then the temperature plunges to around zero.  As I ponder my future, and think about what comes next, I can relate to what is going on in my garden.  A surge of excitement of a certain idea comes forth, just like a flower starting to bloom.  The idea gets written down, researched, contemplated, just like the crocus in my front flower bed that is trying to bloom.  Like that burst of spring-like weather. Then the snow comes and covers it up, and stops the flower from blooming.  Like my ideas, they get put to rest for a while.  They still need time to germinate.  Again, things are happening under that blanket of snow, but we often don’t see the progress.  And sometimes when the cold front appears, we think things are at a standstill, but they are not.  There is color and beauty just waiting to burst forth.  We see a little glimpse of it, and soon we will see the flowers in the garden, and the flower of ideas burst forth in colorful blooms.  Just like the crocus in my front flower bed.


Gathering Graces 2/19/2018

*Paul and I had today off from work, because of President’s Day.  In case you didn’t know,  Presidents' Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington's Birthday” by the federal government.  
*The temperature dropped a bit lower today.  But no more snow fell.  Paul and I started the morning finishing our Trivial Pursuit 80’s Edition game.  We both ended up getting our final pie, but Paul ended up the winner in the end. 
*It was time to box up all the snowmen, so the snowmen in the living room were put to rest for another year.  Paul then rearranged the living room so our little robot vacuum cleaner can work more effectively.  I love his arrangement.  I then brought out some items to make it look more “spring like” in the living room.
*The main bathroom received a little brightening up with a new shower curtain.  Christy had one she was getting rid of, and so I put it up today.  I looks really great!
*I changed the bed and put on new sheets.  One of my little simple pleasures is sleeping on sheets right after the bed has been changed,  They just feel so nice!! 
*I worked on laundry throughout the day, and did the dishes.  I read off and on throughout the day, and watched some TV, too.  It was relaxing, but I also accomplished a lot as well.  A really nice day.  And I especially enjoyed it because Paul was around to share the day with me.


Gathering Graces 2/18/2018

*As our world here in Kellogg was covered in a blanket of white snow, and the snow was blowing and coming down more and more, the decision was made to cancel our church service so members of our congregation would not venture out into the snow.  Paul drove over to the church around 8:30 a.m., and he said the roads were awful, and the visibility on the highway was very low.

*We had a nice, relaxing morning watching the snow come down.

*At one point I heard a bird chirping outside, and saw this little bird in one of the bushes by the patio.  I think he was complaining about all the snow.  Not me.  I love the white stuff!

  *In the afternoon Christina came for a visit and to spend time with her dog Archie.b  She had been at her daughter’s house in Hauser Lake that morning, and said the roads and weather was fine until right before Kingston, and that is when the winter storm hit.  When Archie saw Tina, it was really cute.  Archie knew exactly who she was and even quit playing ball outside with Paul so he could come inside and spend time with Tina.  And then when she left, he whined and cried for about an hour, because he missed her.

*It was family dinner night, and we all gathered at Bill and Debbie’s house.  It was nice to have Debbie back in town after her visit to Eugene.  She reported she had a wonderful, low key, relaxing time on her trip.  Bill cooked a delicious beef stew with dumplings, and Debbie made a salad.  It was a perfect dish as the temperatures started to drop, and the air turned colder.  It was a wonderful evening to all be together, visiting and sharing about what has been happening in our lives.

*When Paul and I got home, we started a fire, and decided to play the 80’s version of Trivial Pursuit.  As we headed off to bed, we were tied, with each of us needing one more pie.  I need to get a yellow pie, which is “In the News”, and Paul needs a blue pie, which is “Personalities”.  We will see who the winner is in the morning.
*Saturday afternoon I went down to the basement to work on, what I thought was going to be a poem about snow.  But my thoughts turned toward discussions I had been in the day before regarding students, and those who have experienced trauma, and how we as school employees can help them.  My fourth 52 Cups of Poems poem is loosely based on a real story I heard from a student last week, and you can find the poem here.  You can read Christy’s fourth poem about my starting my book here.

52 Cups of Poems: Cup Four: Any Takers?

Saturday afternoon I went down to the basement to work on, what I thought was going to be a poem about snow.  But my thoughts turned toward discussions I had been in the day before regarding students, and those who have experienced trauma, and how we as school employees can help them.  This poem is loosely based on a real story I heard from a student last week.

Any Takers?

Teacher, why do you hate me?
Why do you tell me I'm stupid?
Why can't you tell me I did something good for once?
Other kids get smiles.  I get scowls. 
All I need is one kind word.

Teacher, how was your night last night?
You probably drove home to your warm, safe house, and cooked a healthy meal for your husband...
and you relaxed and maybe had a glass of wine to ease the tension of your day.

Teacher, do you want to know about my night?
When I got home, it was cold.
We don't have a furnace, so I had to chop some wood to get the woodstove going.
I come home to no one.  Which is nice, at times.
Because often when I do come home, when people are here, the house is filled with the sound of yelling and hitting and there is no place to relax.

Teacher, there is no healthy food at my house.
Food is usually a low priority, when there is beer, cigarettes and weed to buy.
I haven't found a way to easy my tension at the end of the day.  I get no relief.

Teacher, I wish I trusted someone to tell them my story.
Can't there be just one person out there who cares?
All I really need is a smile, a kind word, and maybe a hug.

Any Takers?


Gathering Graces 2/17/2018

*The morning began with a drive to Coeur d’Alene to meet at Calypso Coffee Shop to do a read through of the script for the final scenes in the Clockworld movie Paul and I have been working on the last few summers.  Filming should be wrapped up this spring and summer, and then it will all be made into a feature film.

Some of the cast at the script read-through.

*It was not easy going driving to and from Coeur d’Alene.  I am so thankful Paul drove, and is a good driver in the snow.  I played Solitaire on my Tablet the whole way, only occasionally looking up if we were slowing down.  On the way home, we were behind snow plows for a while, which helped a bit.  When we were about halfway down the Fourth of July pass, we saw two semis stuck side by side (I believe the reason was no chains), and the row of cars starting to pile up behind them was growing steadily.  I was glad Paul and I made it home safe and sound.
*It was a nice relaxing afternoon.  I went down to the basement for a change of scenery, turned on some classical music, and worked on writing my poem that I will post this week.  My intention was writing a poem about winter, but instead it came from ideas swirling in my head from the professional development presentation on students who deal with trauma.
*A little after 5:30 p.m., Paul and I got in the car and went over an picked up Christy and Everett and we drove uptown to the Kellogg Elks to enjoy our first ever All-You-Can-Eat-Crab -Feed.  It was really fun and really good!!  We were sitting at the first row of tables, and so we got to say hello to all the people who were there who were in line to get their food.  That was fun!!  It was also fun seeing some of our KHS JROTC students doing a wonderful job helping with serving and other things throughout the night.  Bill and Debbie were also at the crab feed, but they were with a group of friends who were sitting at tables in the basement.  I think Christy, Everett, Paul and I decided this was really fun, and would like to do it again next year!!  And we learned a few new tricks to be even more prepared in order to make it a success (like bringing your own napkins or wipes....things get a little messy!!)

Christy and Everett enjoying their first bites of crab.

We are excited to have all the crab we want!!
*Eating crab is exhausting work!!  We left the Elks around between 8:30 and 9 p.m. and dropped Christy and Everett off, then came home and read a little bit, and got ready for bed.