Sepia Scenes: A Gift #31photosin31days #holidailies

I'm not sure this gift would go over too well here on the Central Coast of California where we don't get snow, but I'm sure someone who lives nearthe mountains would enjoy it. I used to have a sled like this one and had a fantastic time racing down the hills when I lived in Cle Elum, WA. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time!

30 Years

I was hoping to come up with a intelligent, poignant,  beautifully written tribute to my father on the 30th anniversary of his death, but all I can seem to do instead is break down into gut-wrenching sobs. You would think that after 30 years, it wouldn't hurt so bad to think about him, to remember him, but somedays it hurts worse than it did that first year or two after he died.  Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever fully recover from that loss. Most days I realize I probably never will.

I love you, daddy. And, I will miss you forever.


Saturday Flea Market

This morning mom and I were headed to the Atascadero Lake Park to take a walk around the lake and see how full the lake is and how lovely and green all the foliage is after all the rain we got this winter, but we got side-tracked by a happening taking place in the Sunken Garden:

Apparently Atascadero is trying the Flea Market thing again - they used to do them twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall, but they hadn't been doing it for about a year or so. According to the banner, however, there will now be Flea markets held here in the Sunken Garden the first Saturday of the month through the summer.

Flea market 4 
There was a lot of cool old stuff to look at, but not as many antiques and just regular folk setting up mini "yard sales" as we've seen at previous Flea Markets. There were a lot more vendors selling tee-shirts, hats, jewelery, cheap bags and other junk that we really don't care about. Hopefully as word gets around, more people will show up with interesting stuff.

Flea market 5 
I remember my parents had an old wine skin just like this (only smaller). I used to take it with me when I'd go on pretend adventures in the mountains behind my house in Cle Elum when I was a kid. Those were good times!

Flea market 2 
 My mom remembered having syrup from log-cabin-shaped tins when she was a girl. I only remember ever having a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's!

Fleamarket 3 
That one guy on American Pickers would've LOVED finding these old motor oil tins. I don't get it myself, but I guess people actually collect these things!

There weren't very many vendors set up, but mom managed to find a lady selling books for next to nothing and she scored five great mystery novels - including a couple hard covers! - for a buck!

Once we finished at the Flea Market, we again headed for the Lake, but found the parking lot PACKED! There didn't seem to be a festival or big party or anything going on in the Park, so we figured the Charles Paddock Zoo was probabaly haivng a Grand Re-Opening after recently completing the renovations, or everyone and their dog just wanted to see the adorable new addition. Anyway, we decided to forget the walk around the lake and just go get our groceries. We'll try for that walk next weekend!

Clean Eating: Turkey Pot Pie


This delicious low fat version of one of my favourite meals is from the November/December 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine. I remember as a child I would get to have a steamy chicken pot pie fresh from the oven as a special treat. It wasn't homemade like this one, but a frozen dinner - probably Banquet brand - that came in its own little tin and had creamy chicken and veggies inside surrounded by a flakey crust outside. Despite seeing the steam pouring out of it when I broke the crust with my fork, I was unable to wait for it to cool down, and more often than not, burned my tongue on that first bite. Oh, that takes me back!

The Clean Eating version uses turkey instead of chicken (I'm sure you could use chicken if you wanted, but it was one of those "What to do with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey" recipes) and has a brown rice and parmesean cheese "crust".  It was pretty easy to make though there was a lot of prep work with all the peeling and chopping of carrots and turnips and onions,  and cutting the turkey breast into bite-sized pieces, and my stove/oven just takes longer to cook foods. Still, the final product not only looks wonderful but tastes amazing as well!


My Favourite Banned/Challenged Book: In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak


In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak has been one of my all-time favourite books EVER! It's one of the first books I ever remember actually owning, not just getting out of a library or borrowing from friends, and was one of the few childhood books I've kept into adulthood. The copy I have was given to me by a librarian friend of my mom (who is a retired school librarian herself but was teaching Jr. High at the time) who apparently was asked/told/forced to remove it from the library at Hawthorne Elementary School. My mom can't remember exactly how the book came into our possession; I vaguely remember a lady coming to the house and giving me the book, then sitting and chatting with my mom while I looked at it.

(Then again, that could just be another false memory, like the one I have of being 8 or 9 or 10 and peeking around the corner of the hallway one afternoon and seeing a man with light blue pants and white shoes at our front door, who wanted to come in our house, but my mom said no and eventually closed the door on him. This DID happen; that man DID come to our door and harass my mother, but apparently I wasn't there to witness it. She just told me the story so often (don't ever let a stranger in the house!!) and with such intensity, that I created a memory to go along with it. Or so they say in shrink school!)

Anyway, I wish I could remember what, if any, reaction I had to seeing a drawing of a naked boy (OMG!!!) in my book, but I can't. I may have giggled, pointed. I may have blushed. I may have not noticed, being so enthralled by the story and the beautiful illustrations. I might not have cared.


The basic story is a little boy named Mickey is sleeping in his bed one night when he is "awakened" by pounding downstairs. Suddenly he floats up in the air, loses his pajamas, and ends up floating into a bizarre night kitchen made from milk cartons, canned goods, and various kitchen utensils, where three big bakers (who all look like Oliver Hardy with Hitler mustaches) are mixing up batter to make cakes for the morning. Mickey falls in their batter and nearly ends up as part of the cake, but eventually escapes and, using his ingenuity, helps the bakers get milk for the cake batter. After his heroic adventures, as dawn is breaking, little naked Mickey returns to his bed (and p.j.s!) safe and sound.  


It's a charming, clever, adorable story accompanied by beautiful illustrations. Okay, yeah, I guess I can see how somepeople might be upset by drawings of a naked little boy in a children's picture book. After all, Sendak did not just show Mickey's bare bottom, but had a couple pictures depicting full-frontal nudity as well. But, the nudity was part of the story and honestly, haven't we all had dreams where we're running around (or floating) buck-naked? Are our private parts covered, blurred or otherwise censored in our dreams?

You don't have to answer that one if you don't want to!

Anyway, the sight of a little boy's pee pee in a children's book freaked some folks out to the point where some librarians (or well-meaning library patrons/teachers/principals/parents, etc.) took to drawing pants, shorts or even diapers over Mickey's little boy bits, which I personally find hilarious! Also, I feel really thrilled to have a clean, undamaged original copy of the book in my possession! And despite winning a Caldecott in 1971 as well as several other awards and accolades, In the Night Kitchencontinues to be challenged and banned all because a little boy ends up all nekkid in his dream.

I hope everyone had an awesome Banned Books Week and took the opportunity to read a book that some people might consider in some way, shape or form to be inappropriate or dangerous.



Today is the 30th Anniversary of Mount St. Helens' eruption, and I decided to repost the piece I wrote for my memoir writing class in 2004 about that day, May 18, 1980. Enjoy!

"Oh, my God!"

My mom’s exclamation drew my attention away from the box of plastic containers I was sorting. We were spring cleaning the garage, and I welcomed the distraction from my tedious task.

"What is it?" I asked. "Did you find the mother of all spiders? If so, I don’t think I want to know about it."

"No," my mom said. "If I’d uncovered a big spider, I would’ve done more than just say 'Oh, my God!'"

I laughed. "Alright, so what is it?"

My mom was standing in front of the white metal cabinet near the washer and dryer; the cabinet where we kept our tools, paint and other miscellaneous home repair items. When she turned, I saw the glass jar in her hand. My jaw dropped.

"Is that what I think it is?"

"It sure is."

"I can't believe we still have this!" I took the jar from her, closely examining its contents. It once contained instant coffee with sparkling flavor crystals, but was now filled with a fine, grey ash. "Man, this takes me back. I'll never forget that day . . ."

*    *    *

The morning of May 18, 1980 dawned bright and clear. The sunshine and blue sky promised another beautiful spring day in the eastern Washington farming community of Colfax. Chirping birds woke me only a few minutes before the sound of lawnmowers resounded through the neighborhood. It was still early – not even 8:00 a.m. - but I knew I’d never get to sleep in now that the Lawn Mower Symphony had begun, so I rose, dressed in jean shorts and a tee-shirt, and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. The back door was open, so I stepped outside to take in the morning air.  I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful day; a day to take a hike, or have a picnic, or ride a bike. I took a deep breath and sucked the fresh, spring air into my lungs, and exhaled dramatically. Then I went back inside and settled myself in front of the television like any self-respecting fourteen-year-old girl who couldn’t sleep in on a Sunday morning.

As I sat flipping through the television channels, I thought about the oral book report I still had to work on for the next day, the math test on Wednesday I should study for, a new piece to learn for band, and the Jr. High Track Meet on Thursday, where I would be doing the long jump for the first time. But it was Sunday, and I didn't want to think about any of that. Besides, my grandparents were driving over from East Wenatchee, and I wanted to spend the day with them.

It was a little after nine a.m. when the blue screen with the initials EBS popped up on the TV, accompanied by the familiar steady tone. At first I didn't think anything of it - after all, I'd grown up with the periodic interruptions from the Emergency Broadcast System, that annoying droning sound which was always followed by the calm, reassuring announcement "This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with . . ."  Blah, blah, blah.

But wait. They did it wrong, didn't they? They forgot to air the first part; the part that goes: "This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test." Surely I didn't just miss it. They must've forgotten to air it.

The blue screen with the pale letters disappeared a few seconds after the tone ended, and the McNeil/Leher Report resumed. So, what did that mean? I wondered. Was it a test and someone messed up? Or, was it an actual emergency, and they didn't know how to run the EBS?

After a few minutes with no more interruptions or announcements, or any indication that anything was wrong, I settled back down into the recliner, and continued contemplating my day. My grandparents were coming for a visit, and would arrive around lunchtime. I should try to get some studying done before they arrive, so I can visit with them without the homework hanging over my head. I should, but I probably wouldn't. I wanted to lay out and start working on my tan. The streaky orange stripes from the QT tanning lotion I'd tried over the winter had finally faded, and since the weather was so nice, there was no reason not to get a real tan. I should call my friend Stephanie, and see what she's up to . . .

Suddenly, the EBS tone came on again - and again without the familiar, "this is a test" statement. My heart jumped. 'Crap!' I thought. 'Something's wrong. Something's really wrong! If someone is just screwing around with this thing, it's not funny!'  When the tone ended, the news came on, and a grim-looking reporter gave us the news: something bad had happened. Something that scientists kept saying was going to happen, but no one believed them. It was too outrageous. It couldn’t possibly happen. But it had: after almost two months of rumblings, and grumblings, the occasional belch of ash and smoke, and the growing bulge on its side, Washington State's most famous volcano, Mount St. Helens, erupted.

They showed dramatic pictures of the eruption on the news. The side of the mountain where the bulge had been growing blew out, a huge dark grey cloud of smoke and ash shot into the air, rose into the atmosphere, and, according to the news anchor, was moving. Towards us. 

Experts quickly came on the air to tell us what to do. They recommended we cut our lawns as short as possible. If we got any ash fall, short grass would be easier to clean up. They told us to move outdoor furniture inside, and put our cars in the garage, or cover them up. They told us to stay inside once the ash fell. Don't go outside! Not for any reason! Don't breath in the ash! Wear a mask or use a damp handkerchief to cover your face! Keep your pets indoors as much as possible!

The ash cloud was expected to reach Spokane, which lay 63 miles north of us, around noon, so we didn't have much time to get stuff done. Dad started mowing the lawn, and mom moved the hammock and lawn chairs from the deck to the garage. There was nothing for me to do, so I put on my sneakers and headed down to the track by the school, just a few blocks away. I thought I'd better practice my long jumps now, just in case we didn't get any practice time in before Thursday's meet.

As I walked down to the track, I couldn't get over what a beautiful day it was – so fresh and new and peaceful and still. I couldn't believe something so bad had happened and not that far away from us, either. I thought about the people who lived and worked on the mountain – residents, loggers, tourists, rangers and scientists. Everyone had been evacuated, but there were still scientists monitoring the mountain, residents wanting to get back to their homes to gather belongings, tourists wanting to see the spectacle, and police securing the "Red Zone," the area where the blast would be the most devastating.

And, there was one old man, Harry Truman, who wouldn't evacuate.  He'd become quite famous for his emphatic refusal to leave his cabin by Spirit Lake, just at the foot of the mountain, or abandon his belongings or his cats. His was a nice, almost lighthearted story in the midst of the gloom and doom predicted by the scientists. A reporter near the scene of the devastation said Harry's house was right in the line of the mud and rock flow, and it was very likely he was dead. It was hard to believe; Harry had just been on the news two nights ago.  But, in truth, this whole situation was hard to believe. It was hard to believe that in just a few hours, a huge black cloud would block out the sun, and dump ash, and rocks, and whatever else came out of the volcano on top of us. Hard to believe things would ever return to normal.

The track was quiet, as was the adjacent Schmuck Park, City Pool and tennis courts. I practiced a few jumps. I looked up at the sky every few minutes expecting to see The End of the World coming over the tops of the pretty, spring-green hills. But each time I looked, the sky was still blue, dotted with a few small, puffy white clouds, the hills were still green, and the birds were still singing. I ran around the track a few times, mostly to expel my nervous energy, then headed home to wait. Dad had finished mowing the lawn to golf-course height, and mom had gotten all our outdoor furniture stored away in the garage. I went around and checked that all the windows were shut. We kept the TV on the whole time, the news showed the ash cloud getting closer and closer to us. There were a few minutes when we thought it might miss us, but then the wind shifted, and the cloud once again headed our way.

My grandparents arrived safely just before noon. "There's quite a thunderstorm coming," my grandfather said. "We outran it, but just barely."

"That's no thunderstorm, Bud," my dad told him. "Didn't you hear? Mount St. Helens blew this morning. What you saw was the ash cloud. Looks like you guys got here just in time!"

My dad was right: the cloud arrived just about twenty minutes later. As darkness fell, the birds stopped singing and the street lights came on. The sky was black - pitch black - like the night sky but without a moon or any stars. And, it was quiet - no cars driving by, no people sitting and talking on their porches, or walking down the sidewalk. No dogs barking, no kids playing. Nothing. The four of us stood in front of the sliding glass doors off the kitchen, and watched nighttime come in the middle of the day.

When the ash began to fall it looked like snowflakes sparkling in the streetlights; dirty, grey snowflakes that didn't melt when they hit the ground. It piled up about an inch thick on the deck, the roof, the lawn, and my grandparent's car, which was parked on the street in front of our house.  We huddled around the TV, watching the eerie pictures of a dark, ash covered ghost town that was once the big, bustling city of Spokane. All modes of transportation were halted, the news said: cars, buses, trains, planes - all stopped because of the ash. It was a creepy sight. I felt like we were watching a horror movie, not looking at live news pictures.

Once the cloud passed and the ash stopped falling, there was the problem of what to do with it? The city used snow plows to clear it off the roads as much as possible, but the wind always blew it back. We shoveled it off the sidewalks in front of our homes, and tried to wash it off our lawns, but it kept coming back; soaking into the soil only to surface again days later. People climbed on their rooftops to wash the ash off, and gently tried to brush the fine but abrasive material off their cars. Many engines were damaged by the ash in the air, and everyone was worried about the health problems we might have in the future. As a preventative measure, we wore masks whenever we went outside.

The early morning eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 effectively ended the school year. The buses weren't able to go out into the country to pick up the farm kids, and with only a few weeks remaining, it was decided to just end the school year. I never had to do my oral book report, take the math test, learn the band piece or participate in the track meet. I got pretty lucky on all counts but the track meet – I had a shot at a respectable jump, and now I'd never get the chance to show my stuff. Several weeks later, my classmates and I returned to school for a half day to clean out our desks and lockers, turn in our textbooks, and sign each other's yearbooks, then that was it. Eighth grade was over. We said goodbye to Jr. High, and looked forward to saying hello to High School in the fall.

*    *    *

I held the glass jar full of Mount St. Helens ash, my mouth agape. "It is so cool we still have this!"

"Yeah," my mom said. "Do you remember when we went out and scooped it up off the grass with a spoon?"

"Yes!" I exclaimed, amazed that I actually did remember: my dad was up on the roof, spraying the ash off with the hose, my grandparents were washing off their car as carefully as possible, and my mom and I were in the front yard filling an old Folgers jar with volcanic ash.

We kept that jar under the sink in the kitchen, and mom brought it with her when she moved to California. It's been sitting in our garage for the past six years. Since I hadn't seen that jar in ages, I thought it had been lost, or left behind. I was actually glad to see it. Sure we still have the light blue "I Survived Mount St. Helens" T-shirts, and the small pottery vase an artisan made from the volcanic ash, but our little jar of ash is more important than those – it came from our very own yard the morning after the eruption. It's our own personal piece of a historical experience, an odd but still special souvenir.

The vase.

Our Jar of Ash.


That white, powdery stuff on the ground, the deck and the hills behind our house? That's the ash. Gah! There was a ton of it, and it took forever to get rid of!

In fact, I believe it's still out there, along the side of the highway, stuck in nooks and crannies in the hills ... that stuff will probably never go away! 

Stuff About Teeth

In light of recent events, whinging about my continuing Dental Diva troubles seems trite at best, and in poor taste at worst, but I'm going to write about it anyway, because I've got to get it all out of my head. I've been crying every night since Monday because of the shootings, as well as the chilling information coming out now about the kid* who did it. (I feel so bad for his parents! What must they be going through? How do you deal with the fact that your son, your child, the little baby you gave birth to and loved and raised, grew up to be a disturbed young man capable of brutally killing 32 people? How do you live with that? I don't know, but I've been praying for them just as hard as I'm praying for the families of the victims and those who survived but are injured.) It's all just about to break my damn heart, particularly the little update at the end of this entry by Rob.

Breaks. My. Heart.

Moving on.

So, yesterday I had what was supposed to be my final root canal appointment, but as luck would have it - my luck anyway - it was not. My dentist was unable to either find or completely clean out one of the canals (I'm not sure which), and so I will have to use next Monday's appointment (which was originally scheduled for crown placement) to finish the job. The crown will be placed at a later date to be determined after next Monday. Gah.

This has become such a time consuming, financially draining (I am now officially out of dental benefits), and physically and emotionally stressful few months. Many times I have been tempted to just head out to the garage, grab a pair of pliers, and yank the offending tooth out of my damn mouth. Sure that would leave me with a huge, unattractive, gaping gum-hole, but it would be cheaper in the long run than continuing to take afternoons off of work to sit in the chair for two hours and have a tooth worked on and worked on and worked on!

Today I'm still a bit sore where the shot was given, but still pain-free in the tooth area. That's the good news, and I guess I needed to share a bit of good news, even if it is relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

*He reminds me so much of a kid I knew my Freshman year of college who called himself (name deleted after I realized it's probably not a good idea to have it on my blog where the guy could, like, Google himself and possibly find this entry). I don't know if that was his real name or not, but that's what he wrote under in English 101 class. He wrote damn disturbing stuff! He let me read a short story of his once. It was about a guy who kidnapped some college girls, killed them (at least one was killed by hitting her on the nose in just the right spot as to send a sharp piece of bone into her brain killing her instantly), then peeled the skin off one of the girls' skulls and wore it around like a mask and turned another girl's emptied-out skull into a jack-o-lantern. It totally freaked me out, it was so gross and disgusting - beyond anything that I'd seen in a Hollywood slasher film or read in a Steven King or John Saul book - and after that I always thought he was a horribly creepy kid (and yet he was super smart so I let him teach me about truth tables for Philosophy (Logic) class, which we also had together). Still, it never occured to me that he might actually do any of the things he wrote about, or that he was actually capable of harming anyone. He was just a creepy, weird kid. I saw him once or twice after Freshman year, but thankfully never had him in any more of my classes. Sometimes I wonder what happened to him. Sometimes I hope I never find out.