Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 1995

As I finished up this year's Christmas letter, I stumbled on to some letters from years past. I thought it might be fun to reminisce with a glimpse into our 1995.

"December 21, 1995

Dear Family and Friends,

After having sat through 8th grade girls basketball games, soccer, and volleyball, a graduation, a fortieth birthday, college classes, a death in the family, and dropping off a daughter at college, we hope we are getting better, not just older. We feel very grateful for the blessings of health and family that we have had this year. We also feel optimistic and hopeful about the year to come.

Our year began with a multitude of volleyball games. Maren played varsity and Julie played J.V. One game we will never forget is the match between Helena and Butte. A terrific upset occurred when Helena beat Butte for the first time in 10 years. Maren's spiking was a major factor in that game and throughout the season. We again realized the joys of living in a town that is not too large when KTVH television featured Maren on the sports wrap up on the 10:00 news several times during the season. Western Montana College asked Maren to play volleyball for them, but Maren had already been accepted at BYU. Not even an offer to play volleyball could change her mind. After attending a semester, Maren is convinced she made the right decision.

As well as volleyball, Julie continued to pursue her interest in music this year. She participated in district music festival by playing the piano and a flute solo. During the summer, Julie had a fabulous time attending music camp at BYU. Because the band was short of oboes, Julie decided to switch from flute to the oboe. In March, she is going to Disney World with the Band. Preston, being a self-sacrificing kind of guy, offered to chaperone.

Although we are not all musicians of Julie's caliber, one of the most fun times we had this year was the family band we put together on Thanksgiving. Lisa and Kristy borrowed the band teacher's complete music score. Ione (Preston's Mom) played the piano, Julie-oboe, Kristy-clarinet, Lisa-saxophone, Becky-flute. Preston said we improved significantly from the Thanksgiving before. Regardless, we had a howling good time - well, at least the dog did....

....Julie's band played for Maren's graduation in June....Becky's Mom was to ill to attend the graduation because she was dying of cancer....

...Our family experienced some outdoor adventures this year. On Memorial Day we hiked to Heart Lake in the Scape Goat Wilderness. Glacier Lilies and Fairy Slippers were popping out everywhere....

Another outdoor experience transpired on Labor Day when we tried riding the ridge with our bikes. We struggled up a steep hill with our bikes only to find that some of the slopes were so steep and full of loose rock that we had to struggle downhill with our bikes too....

.....Becky's Dad became ill in the fall...Since he was so weak, he had to move in with us.....

....Since I haven't mentioned Evan in this letter, I had better tell you that he is in fourth grade this year. A month ago, he wrote an excellent report on the Black Mamba, which is considered by some to be the world's most dangerous snake. He insisted on going to the public library since the school library didn't have much information on Black Mambas. When his teacher informed him that the information he had was enough, he refused to write his report until he had answers to all his questions. Evan said, 'But I really want to know!' I sincerely hope this does not mean he is a budding herpetologist.

Kristy surprised us all this year with her flair for writing, not reports, but stories. She entered her story in the P.T.A. sponsored 'Reflections' competition where she placed first. The story went on to the State competition where it won another award. On her second award, one of the judges wrote, 'Keep writing, Kristy!'

Lisa was also full of surprises in track competition this year. She placed first and second in many 100 and 200 meter events. She did very well in the huge city wide track meet with a second place in the 100 and 200. As parents we are realizing how limited our prophetic abilities are. The kids we thought would be primarily musicians turn out to athletes; the kids we thought were primarily athletes turn out to be musicians; and talents we never suspected crop up when we least expect it. Hopefully, our kids have learned not to take us too seriously and try to do everything that interests them!

.....We hope the coming year is happy and prosperous and wish all of you a Merry Christmas."

I'll never be a rocket scientist. I've never had a lot of prestige or a ton of money. I'll probably never have people come up to me in church and want to talk to me because I am so important or such a great leader. But I sure have a great life with great people in it. I wouldn't trade money, prestige, or importance for my life or my family.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dog Training

There is never a dull moment with Harvey around. Last Friday, I went upstairs to start dinner and found that the two chicken breasts I had thawing out on the counter had mysteriously disappeared. My expensive rain jacket has a two foot tear down the back. My snowshoe poles are missing half their baskets. Right now I am staring at the remnants of a fabric marking pen I purchased to mark my quilt.

Harvey particularly enjoys teasing. Whenever I am out walking or hiking, he gets immense enjoyment out of swiping my hat or glove and running off with it. I usually say something like, “Give that back, you snot!” Well, today I stopped for a minute and unthinkingly put down my favorite winter hat. (My other hat is missing half of its ornamental braid, thanks Harvey). Harvey grabbed my hat and was off. I quietly said to him, “Please give me my hat back. I really need it, and it’s my favorite hat.” Harvey dropped the hat about two feet to the side of my boot. I thought, “I know this game. I’ll reach for it. Before I can grab it, Harvey will snatch it and run.” So I didn’t touch the hat. In a few seconds, Harvey picked up the hat and dropped it on top of my boot. I thanked him and told him how good he was. Maybe I’m getting better at dog communication.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kids Struggling in School

I substitute taught four times. Once I've substituted with the Resource kids and once with kids struggling in Math. I'm no expert, but I have an idea for a study that should be done. There isn't a grad student alive who would be brave enough to do this study. Still, I would love to see the statistics of the following study:

How many kids struggling in school come from a stable, two parent family where the mother stayed home, because she wanted to, to rear the kids?

Wisdom from Wilbur

Wilbur says, "It's amazing the number of people who are fruitcakes. They look good on the outside but leave an awful taste."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wherein I Substitute Teach

About a half hour after my Webelos left on Thursday night, the phone rings. It is “Sub Finder” the School District’s program to line up substitutes. I accept the job which runs from 7:25 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. I am more than a little nervous because the class is mostly for Resource, kids who are having problems. I’ve never even been in a Resource room before.

I arrive a half hour early per substitute teaching orientation instructions and find that the 7:25 am included a half hour early arrival time. No one is in the office and the school handyman hands me the substitute folder. I sit on the step outside the room and read through the folder to see what I am supposed to do for the day. And I almost burst into tears. I am supposed to be taking charge of some severely handicapped children according to the instructions, which don’t even have the right date on them.

A custodian lets me into my classroom and I find another substitute folder. I spend 45 minutes trying to make sense of how these two folders fit together. 15 minutes until the bell rings. I am starting to panic. I ask a teacher walking by for help. She tells me to ask the paraprofessional. The paraprofessional comes in and is stymied too until she realizes that the handyman gave me the substitute folder for the other Mrs. C. I try to restore my pulse to a normal rate.

The resource classes weren’t too bad. I wonder if all the kids are really having difficulty. Some of them just refuse to work. No one is going to tell them what to do. One resource class has a male paraprofessional who rides herd on it. The class is all boys with behavior problems. Some of those boys are large and handsome, one is very obese. What on earth happened to these kids to create these problems, I wonder.

In one class, I am supposed to demonstrate arithmetic on the board. It’s been a while since I have done division by hand. It sure would have been nice to know that this was an Arithmetic resource classroom. I need to brush up.

The 6th and 7th period class is “regular,” but naughty and loud, according to the paraprofessional. I didn’t see so much naughty, as I saw bursting with energy. We spend one class period reading out loud and trying to discuss Art in Space. I wonder how such enthusiastic, creative kids ever stand this. The last period they read The Lightening Thief out loud. Then the day is done. I write a report for the teacher and go home. I am exhausted!

Dog Tales

Harvey's toy box.

Harvey's landscaping.

Harvey's nap time.

My Webelos: Harvey's fans.

I say: Isn't Harvey getting pretty?

Wilbur says: Pretty is as pretty does.

I say: He has such a cute fuzzy face.

Wilbur says: Let's make a calendar and count down the days until we can give him back.

I say: Will Harvey and Max be warm enough in the back yard? Should we move them to the garage?

Wilbur says: What a hassle!

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Now that the weather is cooling off and the nights are longer, it’s time for popcorn. I love popcorn. As a child growing up, I can only remember a few times growing up that we had popcorn, unless we were making popcorn balls around Christmas. I thought popcorn balls were magnificent except for the time I tried to make purple ones. They ended up being gray. My Dad couldn’t eat them. He thought gray popcorn balls were sickening. He also objected to the blue ones I made. As a 12 year old I really didn’t care if Dad liked my popcorn balls or not, but Mom wanted me to make them pink or green.

When I married Wilbur, he educated me on the excellence of popcorn as a treat. As a young married couple living in a trailer, we started our popcorn experience off with Grandma Latour’s caramel corn recipe. I knew the seed removal technique. It is imperative to shake your popcorn for a minute or two so that the seeds settle to the bottom of the bowl. Then you place the seedless popcorn to another bowl. By doing this, the unwary caramel corn eater doesn’t break a tooth on a popcorn seed. I learned this from making popcorn balls.

After shaking our bowl of popcorn in our trailer kitchen, we would grease our kitchen table and pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn on the table and stir it around. Our caramel corn is still the best you can find anywhere in my never-to-be-humble opinion.

Next Wilbur showed me that it is entirely appropriate to celebrate any NFL or NBA game by making a bowl of popcorn to eat during the game. The children completely agreed with this philosophy. So as not to have oil on the living room rug, we would spread a blanket on the floor. Then everyone would sit down and enjoy popcorn. While the popcorn was there, five children would be watching the Lakers play the Celtics. But when the popcorn was gone, there would be only Wilbur watching the game.

Sometimes we would make a bowl of popcorn to eat on the Jefferson Hills patio on a fine summer evening. The birds and I liked the easy clean up on the patio. When we put down a blanket in the living room, I would shake it outdoors as part of the clean up. The birds liked that too.

I'm glad I learned about the superiority of popcorn. It's low calorie, cheap, and yummy. I love popcorn and all the good memories surrounding it.

Welcome November

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Good Ideas for the Primary Program

1) They had a group of Senior Primary boys sing one of the songs and a group of Senior girls sing another. The Junior Primary had a hard time learning all the songs and this really helped.

2) They had all the Senior Primary girls sing the first verse of Praise to the Man, all the Junior Primary sing the chorus, the Congregation sing the 2nd verse, Junior Primary sing the chorus, the Senior Primary sing the 3rd verse, Junior Primary - chorus, and everybody on the last verse and chorus. The Junior Primary sang the chorus with such enthusiasm! They were so cute.

3) The older children helped the younger ones up to the podium and helped them with their parts when they needed it.

4) The older children sat with the younger children who needed someone and the teachers didn't have to be on the stand at all.

Good Primary Idea Generally

All the teachers of older classes get to go to Relief Society every week. The Presidency says there are enough adults in sharing and singing time, and they know the children will behave.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview - Sparkle

Question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Answer: Hmmmmm. A nurse.
Question: Why do you want to be a nurse?
Answer: Because teachers at school wear dresses a lot, and nurses don't have to. And nurses know lots of things.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview - Twinkle

Question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Answer: I want to be a nurse.
Question: Why do you want to be a nurse?
Answer: Because they get to rock babies!

Then she told me all about when Glimmer was born.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

More Harvest

Saturday we harvested about 500 lbs of potatoes. Last spring we charged Orville with the assignment to bring back seed potatoes from the nursery. He brought back strange potatoes that are pink on the inside. With 500 lbs, we hope we like them and that they are good keepers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Mining

This is more from the tape my Dad made in the 1980's . In this segment, he is talking about his Dad, O.D. Robertson, and his brother John's mining expertise.

"Dad: Then they’d work on their own claims when they weren’t working elsewhere, and they always managed to take some gold out of their claims. The first few years they took quite a little bit out. After that, why they worked out around most of the time on ranches and for the Forest Service and this sort of stuff. When they opened up the Golden Messenger Mine they run into trouble. They couldn’t...there was a lot of cave-ins and these other miners that were around couldn’t take and drift through one of these cave-ins because the rubble would keep comin’ down from above faster than they could muck in out. And they didn’t know how to go through a cave-in and stop it. Dad was able to do that. He knew that kind of mining, and he and John and then a couple of other people around York there went to work for ‘em. And they drifted through all these and opened up the whole Messenger Mine. Got back in to where the ore was and got it open again. And it was running at the time of World War II then. They also worked in the Copper Queen for, oh, about a year and a half. They were trying to find some copper ore in there. They had show of the lead on top, but they were never able to find it below – these mining engineers that decided where to run the tunnel; why…Dad and John worked with (something Millard? Bill? ) and the other fellow. Can’t even think of his name now. In the Copper Queen and run the dirt out. But they never did find the lead there, and finally they quit. They ran out of money, so they had to lay everybody off.

And then, they sank some test holes and drilled all those for the possibility of putting a dredge down Trout Creek below York – towards the River. And they had trouble. There was so much water they had to pump out of that shaft there at York that they got Dad and John to come and sink that shaft because same problems with all the water would bring the loose dirt in, you know, and they could lose the whole shaft if they didn’t know how to operate. So they sank the shaft to bedrock for ‘em. And they run a little drift down there, but they didn’t find much there. And then they worked for the outfit that drilled all that drilling it.

Me: Sounds like they were worth a lot more than they got paid.

Dad: Well, that’s right. Dad was an expert miner. And these other guys couldn’t do that work. They didn’t have the know-how. They’d never done any of that type of drift work. They were hard rock miners, and a lot of them didn’t even put any timbers in the hard rock mines, you know. But they (O.D. and John) were able to timber and drift in any kind of soil and make it safe. "

I think the proof of my Dad's statement that his brother and father were good at what they did lies in the fact that they were not killed mining.
Just hearing Dad talk about cave-ins and shafts filling with water gives me the creeps.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Harvest

From my garden and trees so far:

100 pints of corn
62 pints of applesauce. I've given away three boxes of apples. Eglantine canned 20 pints of applesauce. And about five or more buckets of apples that fell off the tree have been thrown over the fence for the deer to eat.
6 pints of apple butter.
12 pints chokecherry syrup
23 pints of tomatoes. I haven't picked the restof the tomatoes yet.

I still await the harvest of beets, carrots, potatoes, turnips, and rutabagas.

I need recipes for turnips and rutabagas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Training the New People

Dear Orville and Carmen,

It has been an interesting couple of weeks taking care of the new people, but I am enjoying it. Training them is quite a chore, though. I am showing them how to play some great games, such as: pull the clothes off the clothesline, chase the neighbors and their dog down the lane, chase the deer, and Frisbee. I've decided to drop the balls and Frisbees for Wilbur. But if the Prairie Smoke wants them, she can come and get them. Heh heh heh. I love tug of war. Although, I trained Prairie smoke to have two things to throw. When I won't give her back the frisbee, she throws the tennis ball. Then I drop the frisbee and chase the ball. I like being busy.
Before I came, these weird people were throwing perfectly good gigantic, old summer squash away. I had to show them some new uses for it.

Some of my past-times are going for walks and chewing up clothespins. I've been walking through the field, on the road, the Open Space trails, and by the creek. When a guy is hot, that creek is terrific. You can drink out of it or lay in it. The clothespins have a great crunch for chewing. My use of clothespins helps Prairie Smoke learn to keep them picked them up. It's about time she learned to do that anyway.

While I'm here, I'm doing a few favors for the grandkids. You know that bike pouch for the new Cars bike that Flash Junior didn't like? I've taken care of it. No one will ever bug any of the grandsons to use that on a bike.

Wilbur and Prairie Smoke added new fencing to the backyard. I don't know why they did that. I liked jumping and climbing over the lowest wall. It was a fun challenge. Some people don't know how to have a good time.

I like being outside most of the time. Funny how even on an 80 degree day a little sunbathing feels so good.

Max thinks it is beneath his dignity to notice me. I guess you can't please everybody.



Corn Harvest

The last week of August we harvested for three nights. This year we got 100 pints of corn. It's amazing how much better the garden does when you take care of it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Trips

Over the past month, we had two outings. First, we camped near Tenderfoot Creek not too far from the Smith River. My great grandfather and grandfather had a place on the Smith River. While looking on the map, we saw a spring named Robertson Springs and wondered....
View of Eagle Park

Next we went into the Wise River Country in the West Pioneers. There were so many hiking trails and so much to do. We dug for crystals at crystal mountain. There was a ghost town to visit and two different hot springs. It was impossible to do everything. Because there is so much to do, there were a lot of people in the area. However, the only people Sheryl and I saw on the hike we took were firefighters. Someone had left a campfire burning at Bobcat Lake and a crew went into fight the fire. I'm pretty sure the reason we saw so few people is that the hike was a grunt. We gained almost 2000 feet in elevation and then went down. Then the trail took a sharp uphill. We didn't go in all the way because I was worried we would be too spent to make it back out.

The destination

The hiking partners

The trail was rocky.

The firefighters. The guy with the mustache is the boss. They run the crew with military discipline. And I noticed that the girls can't keep up with the guys for all of the women's lib proposition that women and men can always have the same jobs.

My Entertainment Committee

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Fun At Glacier

Glacier was awfully fun. A three mile hike can seem long when you are three years old.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Unusual happenings on the home front:

1) I left my good camera out on the lawn in two down-pours. My blog will probably have a lot fewer pictures. Sniff.

2) For a couple of weeks Wilbur has been having weird email problems. All signs pointed to someone hacking into his email account.

Last night he received four emails from a business. A phone number was included. Wilbur phoned the number, asked them why they were messing up his email and left his cell number while I came unglued. I was certain it was a scam.The phone number was on the level. The business called back.

Turns out someone of the same name reactivated their google account from a few years ago. The same number of years ago that Wilbur had similar problems with his email account. Not only, did the person have the same name, but they could answer the security question because their dog has the same name. The owner of the business is going to have a talk with Google about how Google could have let this happen. I'm interested to hear their explanation.If you have emailed Wilbur and got no response, his email partner probably deleted you email as spam.

3) For a few weeks a good sized buck with a nice set of antlers has been hanging around. The buck has been heartily enjoying the abundant yellow clover and alfalfa from the June rains. Unfortunately, he is not very afraid of people anymore. A big buck with big antlers is something to be afraid of, if you have any sense. Brody, the neighbor's dog, found this out first hand when he decided to chase the buck last week. Brody ended up ducking under a fence as he ran for his life with the buck in hot pursuit.

Today, while I was biking down the road an older man in shorts and with a tourist print shirt came down the road. He informed me that there was a 16 point buck in the field. Obviously, the guy is not from around here. I managed to preserve my gravity as I heard about the "16 pointer," looked to the west and, sure enough, there was the neighborhood buck enjoying the yellow clover and alfalfa behind Delight's old house. The guy told me how the buck let him get really close so he could take a good picture of the buck. As if the buck not running away was a good thing. Then I REALLY knew the guy isn't from around here. I am glad that he didn't get tromped and gored by our neighborhood "16 pointer." And I hope he's satisfied with his pictures because I haven't recertified in first aid for a very long time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


A few weeks ago, someone told me of a church leader who had laid down the law to women in the area where he presides. He told the women that they were always to wear nylons to church and could not wear flip flops or sandals. Now, I am not a fan of bare legs at church, but if the temperature is over 95 degrees, I’ve been known to abandon nylons. I think flip flops at church are tacky, but not any tackier than the deacons wearing tennis shoes and white socks with their dress pants. What amuses me more than church apparel is the idea that someone would lay down a dress code based on his personal opinion. I thought everyone knew that a decree of this nature is all that is needed to inspire every teenage girl in earshot to purchase new flip flops and send her nylons through the shredder.

In addition to teenagers, there are always a few oldsters like me that are in search of extra entertainment. What could be more entertaining than a leader that would send you, at age 56, home to change your clothes? And what could be more convenient than a nice afternoon nap and an excuse to take one? Changing clothes is so exhausting.

As far as nylons go, anyone demanding nylons be required apparel should be required to wear them for eight hours a day for five days in a row. The nylon promoter should also be required to wash them, not mention running out to purchase a new pair when runs appear. Any men taking this challenge will have a measure of credibility with me concerning nylons.

Even in a fit of contrariness, I probably wouldn’t wear flip flops because they hurt my toes and couldn’t accommodate my orthotics. Still, I think a big orange flower pinned to the top of each of my rubber Keen sandals might be cute. I wouldn’t be averse to abandoning nylons and wearing this unique foot wear with my blue suit if I got to watch someone throw a tantrum over it. Decrees are tricky things. I’ve noticed those at the top are mighty careful about issuing them. They are an example to us all.

Sunday, July 03, 2011


Ruminations from Sparkle:
"Why doesn't Max give us hugs like he does you?"
"The thing I like best about my Dad is that he is good with kids."
"Let's go for a walk and look at all the beautiful things."

Observation from Twinkle as she saw the dog's wet foot print imprinted on the paving brick:
"Look! Pawnography!" And I have no idea where she got that from. I can only tell you it was NOT me or Wilbur.


June Camping

We went fishing, four wheeling and played in the fire. We learned that chocolate marshmallows and HORRIBLE, but they provide great entertainment when they burn. We saw a moose, sunk knee deep in the mud, and wrote on stumps with charcoal pencils. They didn't want to come home, so I guess they had fun.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

JFK Park

Sandbags on creek just before park

near campground



creek below school before railroad tracks