Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trip Out

Idaho mist a hop, skip, and a jump from Hermione's place

Overlooking the Columbia. The sign in this area said watch for rattlesnakes. We did. See blog post about scary things.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Today I went to the beach for a few minutes with Prudence and family and Hermione. There was a cool breeze blowing. To my surprise a large whale made its way through the bay. I heard whales migrate this time of year, but I never thought in a million years I would get to to see one. It was so cool.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mining is NOT in My Blood

When considering our family history, I've noticed we have quite a few miners in the past 150 years. My Mom's father's family mined coal near Lanark, Rutherglen, Scotland. My Dad's grandfathers came here for the purpose of finding their fortunes extracting gold from the mountains.

Regardless of family history, mining is not in my blood. The idea of crawling into a shaft in the ground for any reason makes me crazy. If any of my ancestors made any money mining, they must have buried it somewhere. My Dad gave me some of his reminiscences about his mining days. These are only a few:

Me: Well, what did you think about mining? Did you like it?

Dad: Oh, well, mining is hard, dangerous work actually. Then I worked for Ed Webber up Ten Mile. They had a Ten Mile above Rimini, up there, sampling one summer.

Becky: Bet you had to just stay because it probably was far…

Dad: Oh yeah we stayed there. They furnished us.
Herb Schwabe (sp?) and I were working together up there digging holes down in bedrock and sampling, and they weren’t too deep holes. We dug a number of them. Kept a ledger of what the dirt was like all the way down and a pan to show if there was any colors to speak of, which there weren’t. Most of that stuff had been worked out, you know. We did that for most of this one summer. And then up ‘til…well the first day of hunting season which was the 15th of October, we got a big snow storm. I went hunting that day, it was a Sunday, I think. It snowed all day long. I didn’t see a thing. I got back that night. It snowed about, oh, a foot and a half that day. And the next day, when it quit snowing then, it was so deep, we really couldn’t get out with our truck – with that little ole model A Ford truck. And we walked up over the hill. He had another outfit that was settin’ up a washing machine rig up under the head of Colorado Mountain – up near Chessman reservoir up in there. So we walked up the hill in the snow, through the snow, got into snow clear up to here coming up through there. Walked up there. Then we stayed there a few days. Then the snow melted, and they brought us around in the truck and back up. We got the other truck and came back around and up there. And then we worked with them the rest of the fall until Thanksgiving up there. They got that washing rig set up.

Me: What’s a washing rig?

Dad: Oh, a machine, actually it’s just a glorified mechanical sluice box. They had a drag line, you know, that’s what they call these dirt shovels. It was an old one only they had a real long boom on it. They’d bring this drag line bucket out and they’d take and turn it loose and swing it and it’d drop out and drop down in and then they take and drag it full and it get the bucket full and pick it up and swing it over and dump it into the top of this washing machine into the hopper. And the the water was pumped up through there and would wash it. Then they throw the ole rocks in it. Had sort of a trammel that would run the big rocks out and the fine stuff would take and go down and wash through the washing machine and catch in the riffles below. They run that through. They’d clean up every few days. And in that month they took out about.. Well. they had a quart jar and they had about that much gold in it.

Me: About a half or a third of a quart jar?

Dad: Well, about a third of a quart jar of gold. They figured about $2500 at the old price of gold

Me: Did they figure that was worth it?
Dad: No, it wasn’t.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Eglantine and Hermione!

Life would not be as rich without you in it!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wherein I Attend a Writers' Group

Over the years, many family members have encouraged me to write. I like to write, but I don’t know if I have enough talent to go anywhere with it. Last week, Prudence encouraged me to think about writing again, in the name of putting together a retirement. The next day the radio blared out that a writer’s group meets once a month at the Library. Was this coincidence? Or was it encouragement from another source? I decided I’d better check out the Library writers’ group.

Now, I’ve always been a little leery of artist groups of any brand. The stereo-typical artists’ group as portrayed by the media always consists of a few brooding members of humanity that spew out dark and profound works in attempts to garner respect from the art world. Their motto seems to be: Let’s find out how disgusting we can be. I am not a “serious” writer. I get nauseated easily, and getting grossed out and depressed listening to a pack of brooding artists seems like a lousy way to spend an evening. However, I decided to put my stereo typical conclusions aside and give the writers’ group a shot.

By the time the third writer began reading his work, I realized being shot would be easier that giving this group a shot. The first writer was a Michael Moore look-alike. Michael Moore is the whiny director who seems to feel habitually ill-used and therefore nit picks at our country. In fairness, the first writer seemed like he had a much more class than Michael Moore. He shared with us his idea for a screen play that he has ostensibly written, along with a letter to Steven Spielberg asking Spielberg to read the script. I didn’t like to say so, but the idea sounded remarkably like the series Stargate Atlantis’ final season.

We moved on to writer Number 2. This man’s countenance reflected that he was a very good, kind man. I think he must have been lonely, or health problems might have fogged his thinking. He wanted to help us all become published. He shared with us his published works: letters to the editor. He had several tips for getting published – in the letters to the editor section of the newspaper.

And then contestant Number Three shared. He was a nice looking blondish, artsy man with cubic zirconium rings on one hand and turquoise rings on the other and a necklace. He was writing a book in the style of Genet and some other off-beat writers. I looked up Genet later to find that Genet was thrown in prison for life at one point being a habitual offender. Genet’s history put Number Three’s offering into context. Even with this work in context, plugging my ears and breathing to drown out his voice was the only way I could get through the ordeal. After hearing that work, I conclude that the F-word is the most versatile word in the English language. It can be a noun. It can be a verb. And it can be combined with any other word in the dictionary to form a compound word.

Meanwhile, the Library staff member assigned to lead the group is acting as cheerleader. And she just LOVES everything!

After a college student read an unexceptional, but difficult to understand, short story he was working on, the last group member unveiled his work. He was a short, slim man with longish dark brown hair and brown eyes. He had played the part of expert, in a kind way, throughout the workshop, giving with dramatic flair suggestions and tips to everyone. Unlike some of the others, I could understand his writing. But it was awful writing just the same. A few parts made me wonder if I had stumbled into the eighth grade boys’ bathroom.

I don’t believe I will be attending that writers’ group again. The moral of the story is: A writers’ group could be a good idea, but not the one at the library!