Home&Harvest Sept/Oct 2023

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I’ve always been inspired by the thought that fall is nature’s way of showing us how beautiful it is to let things go. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? That is- until you start the journey of actually letting things go.

The truth is, no matter how blustery the winds become, or the chilling downfall of rain meeting freezing nights, you always see those trees holding onto a few of the last of it all- stunning deep red or even icicle-speckled brown leaves dancing in the last of the season- refusing to drop.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because as simple as letting go sounds- sometimes it takes a little more than dreamy visuals to make it happen. You have to actively participate in the surrender and ultimate trust that something new- the next season of life is on the way. And the frustrating part is, even though we’ve all seen it time and time again, in the middle of it all it sometimes feels hopeless.

When you let go, you give yourself the ultimate gift- to allow. To receive.

And there it is. To receive.

My friends, if you are struggling to let go- the truth is you may just be blocking the thought that you are worthy of the goodness of what is to come. Whether it’s donating items, old clothes, an old way of doing things, a job or relationship that no longer serves you, you make way for all the things that are meant for you. Think about it- all of the tastes, fashion, friends, jobs, relationships and more that has come your way as a result of letting go in the past and over the years. I bet many times it was scary-even terrifying to not know what was next. But with a little bit of grace, grit and surrender, all things work out in time. It’s up to you to let that leaf drop!

I wanted to encourage you to believe in yourself enough to remember that you are on a journey. Everyday you learn, see or experience something new- even if its as small as seeing a new flower or a stranger smile. You are worthy of letting go of the things that aren’t the perfect fit for you anymore. It doesn’t have to mean that you end something or that you didn’t appreciate it. If anything, you can develop a greater love and respect for the matter. Many times that love and respect will be found in yourself! To look back and see how strong and brave you were and are. It also doesn’t have to mean a glorious ending of anything. Sometimes, letting go means evolving who you are, what you think, and even behaviors that don’t suit you. In the meantime, it might feel weird. You might feel out-of-place. Unsure. Scared. That’s ok. You’ve done this before and you will again. I absolutely believe in you!

So this fall, allow yourself to shift from the idea that you’re letting go of something to the thought that you are making space to receive something new. That you are worthy of a happy, vibrant life because you absolutely are!

Thank you so much for reading this magazine. Thank you so much for supporting these local businesses, my writers, and just for being great community members. I believe this magazine is proof that we can all be vastly different but still share in a great, feel-good read. A space for true community!

I wish you love, peace and most of all, the most beautiful wind to blow your daring, brave, stunning leaves into the next season of your life.

Home&Harvest Magazine
Heather Niccoli: Editor+Design+Sales | Tony Niccoli: Publisher+Design+Sales heather@homeandharvestmagazine.com | 208.596.5400 | 208.596.4434 CONTRIBUTORS Laura L. Morgan | Annie Gebel | Kaitlynn Anderson Temple Kinyon | Diane Conroy | Trent Morgan | Robert Perret Emory Ann Kurysh | Chad Kinyon | Sara Raquet Jacqueline Cruver | Gayle Anderson | Tony Niccoli
Joy in the harvest 8 cemeteries, a place for research and mourning 14 the grace of nature 20 flank to flame 28 pumpkin pudding 32 gluten free Lemon cardamom blueberry muffins 34 old fashioned chicken and potato dumplings 36 gluten free pork chop casserole 38 blackberry jam Bundt cake with Carmel frosting 38 Monster m&M cookies 42 Fall in love with generosity 44 3,700 yards or bust 50 our country school teachers 54 goo 60 here is the knowledge of centuries past 66 The Oh, Otis Shenanigans 74 CONTENTS

joyharvest in the by~ trent morgan

The Steely Dan 70’s hit pulsed on about reeling in years and stowing away time which seemed appropriate as I thought about fishing and boats. The muffled lyrics sifted through ancient misplaced speakers in the acoustically poor and cramped diner, competing for dense air space with the half-dozen conversations ebbing and flowing between sips of black coffee and clinking silverware. This dockside café, appropriately named the Dockside Café, could be any U.S. coastal diner on the East, Gulf, or West Coast populated for breakfast with a similar mix of tired commercial fishermen, small-town locals tossing familiarities across the room, and tourists. This Alaskan diner reminds me of one similarly perched with a dockside view which I drove past often in Biddeford, Maine, where I attended grad school. Here, now as then, I am admittedly still a tourist passing through, perched alone on the bar next to the condiments and a cache of plastic jelly packets. I try to dress the part of a local or commercial fisherman with my worn and muddy XTRATUF boots, baggy unwashed Carhartt pants and a faded stained hoodie with matching grungy baseball cap pulled low. I am not fooling anyone except maybe a group of sports fishermen with southern accents. The port town of Craig is a Mecca in southeast Alaska for fishing, known for various species of salmon plus varieties of coveted bottom feeders like halibut and ling cod, which can still be caught and kept in abundance in the vast reefs and shoals of the Alaskan Archipelago. The yellow pad I am scratching away on is probably the biggest giveaway that I am an imposter—there’s not too much of that going on, well plus the fact that no one knows me. Yet, I am trying to fit in as the rest of my attire has been pretty well vetted over the past eighteen years on Prince of Whales Island, what locals fondly and simply refer to as POW. I have been summer sojourning to the island so long now that at least it feels familiar to me. I would rather be exploring remote coastal islands in search of returning coho or bouncing huge jigs onto deep underwater rocky ridges for ling cod from the deck of my twenty-foot Hewescraft, but not this year and I feel an emptiness inside me. Harvest is what first brought me to POW. The anticipation of taking home coolers full of frozen vacuum-packed, wild Alaskan coho, along with halibut and what Dungeness crab we could process between cycles of fishing, processing, hasty meals, and repeat. For years I have done this every summer without fail. At first it was “guy trips,” but soon turned into yearly family adventures trekking through Canada and the long ferry rides from Prince Rupert, to Ketchikan, to POW to fish…. So many adventures and memories of those days of plentiful harvests where the bright wild coho practically jumped into our boat; so much fish! It became an expectation and pressure began to build. A certain competitiveness sneaks in and possibly even a bit of greed. I saw it in other fishermen, too. The harvest becomes an expectation rather than a hopeful anticipation. There is a difference between expectation and anticipation. Heathy anticipation factors in unknowns and brings the hope of something great but with expectations comes the possibility of disappointment and frustration if expectations are not met. As the years passed and stories of great Alaskan harvest exploits grew, the harvest expectations grew as well. But things change.

The Embraer 175 touches down softly with a squeal and bump on the tarmac at Pullman-Moscow Regional at 11:30 p.m.— a few minutes early. We are almost home. I look on the bright side of this year’s Alaskan trek and think how I like Alaska Airlines conversion from the smaller turbo-prop planes to these bigger air ships… faster and more leg-room. We wait for the anxious rush of hurried travelers as they crowd in the small isle grabbing luggage from overhead bins in the fast-paced manner we do now. What’s the hurry? It’s 11:58 p.m. in the nowhere space between two rural towns. I am not in a hurry but am looking forward to the wall of warm, dry air and the smell of wheat harvest after two weeks in the coastal temperate rain forest. The dry and often smokey smell we may find annoying, or just expect this time of year in our region, is pleasant to my senses in the cool of night coming off of two weeks of humid, rainy SE Alaska weather and is a noticeable contrast to the senses. I love the smells of harvest. Back home in Lewiston, it is dark but I know there is much to do to catch up on garden weeding, watering, and trimming voracious vines and branches, but the day’s travels catch up to me. I make a plan as I drift off to sleep at 2 a.m. In a few hours, I am up watering and harvesting the most urgent items in the garden: blackberries, peaches, some Himrod seedless grapes, and of course tomatoes… lots of tomatoes. The kids watching the place have done a good job and all chickens and turkeys are accounted for and no bunnies have died in the heat. I realize some things I have planted and some of my fruit trees are not going to produce as I had hoped, which is disappointing. Not meeting expectations is disappointing. I’m known as a gardener so everything I plant must be great, right? I see gates were left open and the turkeys got into the beans, cabbage, and cucumbers, so those are pretty much decimated. A wind storm has broken some branches on my fruit-laden peach trees despite diligent spring thinning. I should have pole propped them before we left for Alaska, and the trees paid the price for my neglect. My phone vibrates. It is a work colleague and fellow apiarist (bee keeper) and it’s not good. Her hive previously was decimated by the honey bees’ potential exposure to a neighbor’s pesticide and now other bees are robbing the weakened queen less hive. She reports to me that in three days, every drop of honey has been taken. All that work and she will have no honey to harvest. Refocusing, I think about my plan and expectations for the garden harvest before me with so much to do. Since we didn’t bring back any fish boxes from our Alaska trip, the garden had better produce. The joy of the harvest is giving way to some anxiety about having enough time get it all done and the disappointment of realizing some expectations won’t be met. This is hard to admit as someone who gives away LOTS of beautiful produce every year. At least I have been fortunate in my honey harvest, but there will be no homemade sauerkraut, which is really bumming me out! There is something about fermenting cabbage in my great-grandmother’s huge stoneware crock that brings me happiness. And there is satisfaction in fist-pounding and compacting grated and salted cabbage layer after layer into that crock. My other cabbage patch was a compete fail and did something I have never seen before. The plants were huge but did not form heads. A bit of research tells the tale. Apparently, I over-fertilized them with chicken manure though I didn’t know that was possible—but now I do. There is always more to learn! I make a mental not to visit the Lewiston farmer’s market or have-

-my daughter who lives in Moscow check that market this weekend for organic local cabbage. Thankfully, we were able to pressure can thirty-five pints of green beans before the turkeys took them out and even give some to friends, so that was a success at least in part. The potato patch looks okay with all of the plant growth dead, as expected. Hopefully there are plenty of good tubers happily lying in wait of a shovel. They are going to have to wait a bit longer. About half of my seedless grape starts have survived the heat; a mixed success but not really worth all the work I put into it. On the upside of grapes, inspection reveals my early heavy hand and continued pruning seems to have worked as I have great clumps of beautiful seedless grapes hiding behind more new vine growth. Item number one-hundred-twenty-five: prune vines again and put protective bags on clusters to keep yellowjackets and the chickens from getting at least some of the grapes. Maybe I’ll have time this year to put some grapes in the Nez Perce County Fair. The biggest disappointment as I take stock is the apples. I was so diligent to research and execute my integrated pest management plan for codling moth, spending hours fiddling with maple syrup traps, fruit bagging, and spraying. I also set pheromone traps and wrapped tree trunks. After all of that, the crop appears nearly a complete loss. For a moment I long for the days of my youth when I could “nuke” a tree or orchard with strong pesticide. But then I think of my honey harvest and my four healthy hives. Everything has its payoffs and I am determined to figure out how to have both healthy bees and only a very few worms in my apples. Yet, I must admit, this year I have failed to cultivate a good crop of honey crisp, red and yellow delicious apples. We will harvest what we can and for the next month or so the canning, drying, fermenting, and freezing will continue for all of us in a blessed part of the country and world where we have access to the knowledge and resources to plant, cultivate and harvest our own food. We should not take this for granted in a world that increasingly is dependent on huge companies to meet consumer food demands. There is so much more that brings joy in the processes of the harvest than just the harvest itself, and there is wisdom in that thought. Focusing on just consuming the product is consumerism and thankfully something many are getting away from these days. This is good perspective.

I pause to think about my friend’s disappointment and sorrow in her honey harvest and realize I am feeling the same about expectations I had made for this year’s harvest of Alaskan fish as well as in my garden and orchard. There are elements out of my control, whether they be the weather, insects, a hundred things far beyond my scope of influence. As we flow with the seasons into autumn in our gardens and landscapes, so too, we drift along with our expectations and thoughts of harvest and plenty, preserving and canning; as it should be. Many of us were hoping for healthy and nutritious garden produce to enjoy fresh, to put up in one way or another until next harvest, and best of all, to share with friends and family. I have never known a gardener who did not take great joy in sharing in the harvest. But have there been things that have died in the summer heat? Perhaps you worked hard watering, weeding and doting in the garden for disappointing results. I know the feeling!

Along with our harvest comes reflection, evaluation, and if we care to admit it, even some disappointment as perhaps a plant or tree did not produce as you had hoped or over the years has succumbed to disease or just age. As you may know by now if you-

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 11

follow Home&Harvest, I love to dig into the deeper meaning of lessons we find in tilling and planting, picking and harvesting to enrich our lives with wisdom and success. But what is our goal in the harvest and what happens if we don’t meet that expectation? Is there peace and joy to be found when the apple crop is a flop, riddled with codling moth larvae holes, a peach tree branches break, the salmon runs die-out?

My mind wanders back to Alaska and the times of plenty there. I acknowledge much of what was, will not be again. Covid, fuel prices, and politics have made trekking through Canada and the following ferry rides to Ketchikan and POW, once an adventure, now too expensive and too much of a hassle. My oldest daughter with her husband and seven children are moving away from POW if all goes as planned. The cute cabin we built near them to visit, spend time with our grandchildren, and fish will be lonely without the patter of little feet coming to visit and the crisp ring of the brass boat bell I set up for them to sound as they climb the cabin stairs. The little toy box that they loved to open and treasure hunt through will be idle. The once massive coho run, a mere three-minute walk from our cabin, is now also gone. What to do… I think of the lyrics in the Dockside Café: “Are you reelin’ in the years… are you stowing away the time?” The song begs questions about contemplating life’s experiences and unmet expectations. Are you living life to merely check boxes on a bucket list as the clock ticks… tick-tock, tick-tock? I realize that may not be the best way to find joy in life or in the harvest. Whatever happens as we make plans looking ahead to future anticipated harvests, I am going to make sure I approach the future with a positive anticipation. While watching videos and sharing pictures of great past harvests or huge fish, I will enjoy those memories with care not to plant the seeds of disappointment if future outings turn out quite different, because they will. In a few months when I peruse seed catalogues and put my soil to bed for the winter, already planning next year’s harvest, I will not set expectations too high and remember to be flexible. I will not set up expectations based on the past.

I get from writing to refill my water glass as the heat of a mid-August morning builds on our deck which overlooks our garden. Beyond that are the vast harvested wheat fields south of Tammany Creek, and beyond that, Waha gleams through the dusty haze. Closer again, the sweet corn I planted so many months ago and have diligently watered and weeded sways in the warming breeze with its harvest perhaps a week away if it can survive the heat. Closer, my wife Laura hefts a repurposed cherry lug full of tomatoes for canning and beyond that, turkeys peck away at a pile of over-ripe peaches that have fallen from our tree after this morning’s peach harvesting for drying and canning. A hummingbird zips in, chirping quietly while it sips from our feeder just feet away, happy to have some sweet nectar as plants and flowers fade with Autumns birth. I breathe deep and a final vestige of sadness lifts as I go inside and navigate the kitchen table where our little family grew and ate together over the past thirty-three years. A place where we shared so many harvests from the garden, orchard, ocean, and forests. Though the house is quiet now, I am finding joy again in the harvest: both today’s, yesterdays, and anticipating those in the future.

My mind drifts back to the song in the café a few weeks earlier; it seems like ages ago now. It spoke to a summer that faded fast, steeling time, and warns us to not miss the diamonds in life as we hold them in our hands. In that moment, I notice an art deco frame my wife hung some time ago in our kitchen which says, “Pause to find the blessings in today.” I realize there is joy in today’s harvest and in past ones as well and I pause to appreciate that.

Cemeteries: A Place for Research and Mourning

Through a recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery, I had the opportunity to visit wellknown gravesites, including the eternal flame of John F. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. However, none of those were the most intriguing stops for me. Once we made it to the top of the hill, we were met with a large two-story house that called back to Greek Revival architecture. This house, appropriately named the Arlington House, was previously lived in by Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Custis. Custis inherited the house in 1857, along with the 1,100-acre working plantation and enslaved people, from her father. After Virginia seceded from the Union, the Lee family vacated the house never to return, and in turn, the Union utilized the house and land for a headquarters. As the number of deceased soldiers grew during the Civil War, the Union used the plantation land to bury soldiers. Contrary to its original usage, the land also served as a haven for African Americans who were escaping slavery, thus forming the Freedman’s Village. After a legal dispute with Lee’s son in 1883, the government purchased the house and land to continue the Arlington Cemetery mission of burying fallen soldiers and their families. After leaving the cemetery, it made me question the cemeteries within Latah County. How was the land obtained for the cemeteries? How many cemeteries are there? How are they managed and who is allowed to be buried in them? What can an individual learn about visiting a cemetery whether they have a loved one buried there or not? All these questions lead to an examination of how researchers can utilize cemeteries as a primary source and what they can tell us about the individual, the area, and the era. Within Latah County, cemeteries can be found near churches, such as the Cordelia Lutheran Church and Cemetery, on a Palouse hilltop (American Ridge Cemetery), and hidden among the forest (Bovill Cemetery). Although all the cemeteries within the county provide a restful laying ground for the deceased, the histories behind each one is different. For example, the Genesee City Cemetery opened for individuals who did not want to be buried in either the religious cemeteries, which include St. John Lutheran Church Cemetery and the St. Mary Catholic Cemetery. Other cemeteries, such as the Buchanan Cemetery and Dry Creek Cemetery, were originally on land that was donated by pioneer families. Both cemeteries have pioneering families buried in them, however, only Dry Creek Cemetery still has burials taking place. Most of the cemeteries within the county are maintained by the local municipality maintenance district.

Not only can the origins of cemeteries provide an inkling of its history, but so can the layout of them. For several cemeteries with local pioneer beginnings there are new and old sections. This can be seen at the Moscow Cemetery where there are eight old sections and eight new sections. Within each section there is a dedicated section for Catholic burials. The separate sections make it easier to differentiate between burial dates, while varying cemetery layouts can also indicate racial segregation during the era. White communities believed there needed to be a separation in cemeteries as they wanted their loved ones to still hold dignity even in death. In Latah County, we know that there was an Asian American community, but were they allowed to be buried in community cemeteries without being segregated? Are their graves properly marked? Since there are not many examples of non-white burials in Latah County, we are uncertain of the answers to these questions. However, throughout the country, we see where minority communities oftentimes created their own cemeteries as a way of defiance, while still providing a place for mourning. Not only can the layout within a cemetery provide historical information, but the physical landscape of the cemetery can as well. Here in the Palouse where we are above sea level and do not need to worry about the water table, other geographical regions, such as the South, have to keep those aspects in mind. The reasoning is in case there are any natural disasters or high rain fall that would cause burials to resurface and potentially be lost in the water.

One of the most telling items in cemeteries for researchers include headstones. Differences are often seen through size, designs, iconography, and inscriptions. Headstone sizes can often indicate the social and economic class of an individual, as headstones can vary from a small nameplate to a standard-size headstone to a mausoleum. The concept of headstones as a status symbol also carries over to who gets a headstone in general.

Historically, people of a lower economic class might not be able to afford a headstone, so instead their loved one may receive a wooden cross instead. Designs and inscriptions located on headstones also provide an indication of the individual’s life and what the family wanted to convey to the public, often with religious undertones. Even though headstones can serve as a useful source of information related to a specific individual, they are also issues related to them. Historically, married women were typically referred to by their husbands’ names (i.e., Mrs. William McConnell), which in turn is how their names were inscribed on their headstones. This speaks to the period but also makes it difficult to properly research the woman. Additionally, headstones can become broken due to natural causes or lawn maintenance. With that, there is the potential risk of headstones being removed and not being replaced with the proper grave. This again causes confusion for researchers and makes it difficult to ensure that the proper individual is being researched.

The concept of headstones as a status symbol also carries over to who gets a headstone in general.

Cemeteries serve as the resting place for individuals, but the primary function of them is to provide a place of mourning for family and friends. Mourning practices can be traced back to the beginning of time and vary throughout the world in different cultures. Perhaps one the most intriguing mourning practices in Western culture can be found in the Victorian Era. The Victorians implemented a new structure of etiquette that made the period of mourning public rather than private, which created a funeral industry. Most visibly, widows wore mourning dresses up for a couple of years after their husband’s death, as well as jewelry made from their loved ones’ hair. The most prominent mourning dress that can be noted in history are those worn by Queen Victoria, who wore black the rest of her life after her husband Albert died. The hair was also used to create hair art, which a framed piece can be found in the McConnell Mansion, to serve to memorialize the individual. Another common mourning practice includes an array of photography. As funerals were typically held in the household, photographs would be taken of the individual in the casket. For those mourning, they would take photographs in their mourning clothes holding a photograph of the deceased. And perhaps the most peculiar by today’s standards, the deceased would be posed for the family to take photographs with them. A common way to tell if individuals were deceased in historic photographs is by their eyes, which were either closed to make the deceased appear asleep or propped open to appear healthy. This kind of photography was commonplace for children who passed at a young age and often was the only photograph that the family would have to remember them. Today, mourning practices are no longer publicized events. Although funerals and celebrations of life are held, they are often a private time for families to be together. At cemeteries, benches can be found for individuals to sit in peace and reminisce about their friends or family member. An interactive way for individuals to mourn and take home a reminder of their loved ones is through headstone etching. This practice is most common for children to engage with, and can be seen even at national memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Once again, all these aspects are a reminder that cemeteries are spaces geared for the living as a place for mourning and reflection.

Even with the solemn atmosphere and mourning that occurs at cemeteries, there has been an uptick in cemeteries serving as a party location and pop culture sensationalizing the location. The idea of being among the dead can provide a sense of thrill and living on the edges, while also providing the ever clear reminder that death is inevitable and can happen at any moment. Even further, the concept of death has captured the current generation through true crime documentaries and podcasts. The fascination creates an opposing view and effect for cemetery visitors. All these aspects of how cemeteries can be utilized as primary sources only touch the surface of the knowledge that can be gained from them. Healing and grieving at cemeteries come in all shapes and sizes and vary from person to person. For some individuals, visiting the cemetery for a loved one’s birthday can provide healing, but for some, visiting to conduct genealogical research can provide a sense of bonding with an ancestor.

You can also visit the LCHS office for records of some cemeteries throughout the county and utilize FindAGrave.com and Ancestry if you are interested in locating your ancestors within the county.

GraceofNature the

Do you know there are blue bellied lizards at the Illia Dunes on the Snake River that eat ticks and have a protein in their blood that kills the bacteria that carries Lyme disease? This tiny one ounce lizard will not become affected and the tick will not transfer the disease to the next host. I have only seen the swift blur of movement from them, just like many of the wonders of nature elude our sight. When I am treated to glimpses of the divine grace given to nature, I retain the image to sustain my balance. “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create”, in the words of author Jana Kingsford. I use those moments of wonder to keep my parachute sailing. Even Peter Pan had to think happy thoughts to fly. I am not Tinkerbell so I can’t really help you find yours but I can share a dozen of mine. I always keep a journal I can browse through in the colder months when it becomes harder to fly. So here is my summer rewind. Some entries depict nature and wildlife. Some depict people, or absence of them, like this first one.


The unattended roadside table seemed miniature at the entrance of a long linear driveway. I had driven past it a few days earlier and identified green plants basking in the sun of the pending Palouse spring. This time I stopped. I had to see what was calling to be saved from the boisterous prairie wind. Filling the table, the tomato plants were the bravest, and sheltered some smaller vegetable starts. The less than reasonable price being asked for someone’s time and effort was clearly printed on the cash box, which yes, held cash. My $6.00 went into the box and some tomato and broccoli plants went into my car. The distant cows had no interest in the sale and the nearby horses were engaged with each other, possibly positioned to deflect the wind. This is a picture that anchors me to this area. I cherish the privilege to live in this rural setting, surrounded by generations of hard working families who live their principles of honesty, morality, and the backbreaking labors of self-sufficiency daily, while producing tons of cereals and pulses. Thousands of farmland acres frame this Norman Rockwell painting, capturing this rare view of life far from any densely populated metropolis.


Approaching the edge of the swollen Snake River, I pulled off my boots and tip-toed into the chilling water. I plunged my hand into the flow of the current, thinking how this force is in every flowing river, bending and rolling over a myriad of miles from the mountains to the seas. It is constant and powerful. It is sometimes quiet and sometimes loud. It is like the energy of love that exists between us all in our everyday lives.

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Hopeful that the snow was off the mountain roads, car tires left the pavement and headed up into the Umatilla Forest. At an inviting meadow, I abandoned the vehicle to wander and listen to the quiet. While watching the impressive clouds slowly circling above and trying to deny the smell of approaching rain, I was caught in a passing summer thunderstorm. I took shelter beneath the boughs of a commanding fir tree, camouflaged from outside view but still feeling the occasional tiny drops seeking ways through the needles, soaking my choice of a hooded sweatshirt. I have no words to describe the feeling of my satisfied senses.

Another mountain trek. While hunting morel mushrooms with an experienced guide, we approached a small pond nestled at the edge of a meadow. Below the water striders and skimming dragonflies, I knew the shimmering skin atop the pond hid thousands of single cell organisms, dividing in half and forming independent creatures. Stepping ever-so-slowly, my misguided boots caused a small frog to leap from his sunning booth, ka-thunking gently back into the safety of his waterhole. The ripples subsided and returned to still water, concealing all other residents below a reflection of the bluest sky. Pausing, I slowed my inhale 2-3-4 and exhale 2-3-4 of thin mountain air to a purposeful and shallow cadence. Motionless, I briefly became part of the meadow, embracing the precious gift of feeling one with nature.

“For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” as expressed by Wendell Berry in his healing poem, The Peace of Wild Things.


I was treated to an unspoiled observation of waterfowl while fishing on the Grande Ronde River. A parental pair of geese appeared swimming close to the opposite bank, leading their goslings up the river against quite a formidable current. In single-file they all conducted themselves with determination, not revealing any sign of difficulty. Just at the second tiny legs were growing tired, on an invisible signal the paddling lesson circled tightly and smoothly continued downstream. I experienced feelings of relief and trust as though I was one of the tiny, tired participants under the watchful eyes of those graceful parents.

Gladly seized an exit to escape the fast-moving interstate traffic near the town of Snohomish. Signs led me to the beach of a small public lake dotted with lily pads and dabbling ducks. I smiled to no one as I counted dozens of the pointed ducktails rising systematically above the surface of the water, leaving the rest of the duck submerged and somehow forgotten. Instantly, I recalled my mother’s voice calling me duckbutt. I am aware that would probably not qualify as endearing or desirable to most people, but trust me there was a long list of much worse ones. It was an amusing surprise to have thoughts of her join me at that lakeside. I pulled up a log and fished for some more fond memories of her, until the shimmering reflections on the water suggested it was time to go.

Midsummer on a primitive road out in Garfield County, my drive led me past a timid mule deer, a suicidal rooster pheasant and a bleached hillside of coyote dens and badger holes. Unlike-

-higher up in mountainous regions with abundant cover and hiding spots, this harsh dryland shrub steppe appears stark but it is far from devoid of life. The population of predators and prey here illustrates the instinctual master plan that wildlife are born with. I tried to respect that balance and remain focused on the road as I rambled along. As morning was beginning to warm up, a lone rattlesnake was stretched across the center of the dust and gravel road, collecting the sun’s warmth. As I took the bend wide to leave it to its business, the light colored belly of another rattler writhed, floating inches above eye level, visible through my bug-splattered windshield, gripped tightly in the sharp talons of a successful but startled hawk. I had spared one but the hawk balanced the score.


Upon arriving in the mountain town of Preston, Washington for a week-end visit with a couple I have known since college, I agreed to accompany them to an impromptu neighborhood barbeque. In a backyard full of complete strangers I awkwardly leaned against a shaded garage wall trying to look inconspicuous, unable to initiate dialogue. A smiling spirited young woman approached and engaged me in a warm greeting and nice conversation and inspired me to find my smile and voice. She eventually shared that she was teaching grade school while pursuing additional studies in biology to enhance her career goal of offering critical elements of conservation, stewardship and climate to the curious minds of children. The job design she was creating could have been found outlined in my own diary and the coincidence was not lost on me. We are here to connect. Literally. I circulated around the crowded backyard and learned unique things about everyone I talked to. I came away with a feeling I had found a map to buried treasures. It gave me confidence to be more out-going at the next social gathering. We all have noteworthy stories of our human experiences and gathering is a necessary tool to remind us of our commonalities. As a result of one conversation I learned of Priya Parker‘s book called The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. I also stumbled upon her stunningly concise ten minute TED Talk. I need to improve my game and plan more gatherings, particularly in those dark months of winter. I remember the gracious hostess I was decades ago when I always enjoyed every opportunity to have guests. Realization: I need to revisit the joy of a crowded table and the sustaining connections found in fellowship.

I followed the lines on the map to visit several friends I visit yearly. I was prepared for some delicate topics to come to the table. Face to face in each other’s presence, there were a few folks who refrained from sensitive subjects, a few who lamented the fractures within their families due to conflicting political information and beliefs and a couple that immediately assumed a posture to defend their side of the years’ divisive news headlines. This was not a surprise to me so I was ready to redirect the conversation like I have in the past, only to be met with more resistance than ever before. Much like viewing wildlife, there were feathers being ruffled, baring of teeth and hackles up to defend their invisible territorial boundaries. Their underlying sense of fear was leading to a fight-or-flight response. Because we have so many years of history with each other and wanting to remain-

-loving friends, we were willing to put in the effort to discuss the tension in the room. I compare the outcome to the astounding wonders of nature. After taking the time to listen we found that our sincere desire was unquestionably the same. We care deeply and want what is best for everyone. The key commonalities were our conscience and our compassionate hearts. If the opinions of a political action countered and conflicted with another person’s view it could be traced to only one rule of reasoning: wanting to do what was best for everyone. I realized those who chose to vax, did so because they cared for everyone, just as those who read the legally binding disclaimer attached to the vax were concerned about its risks, yes, because they cared. I am hopeful now that with a little more time and grace the majority of us will concede that we are on the same side.

After months of searching for a trace of a friend I’d lost since the days of my youth, a joyful meeting finally materialized. I learned that his human experience had been very, very different from mine. His difficult path held numerous tragedies, hardships and crushing setbacks yet as he shared pieces of his life, I recognized his spirit that I had admired when we were younger had remained unchanged. He always had a unique way of storytelling that was augmented with a twinkle in his eye and a contagious grin that held everyone’s attention. His joy was ever-present in his positive attitude and commitment to friends. He remains that same young man, still driving a vehicle that may not make it to the next destination. He is a 79 year old Peter Pan who did not collect material things or become vulnerable to wanting more. He has raised and provided for his children and grandchildren while existing far below poverty level. I recognize the enormous amount of courage he has in place of any extravagances in a life of temperance and doing without. I think he must carry a rare protein in his blood that kills despair and can send those who encounter him off to continue on their path without discouragement. We did not once converse about political opinions, pandemic policies or other challenges of our society because we had so many more important stories of love and laughter to share. I cherish him as another brother walking with us and my admiration for his strength while facing so much adversity has humbled me. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit theologian and a scientist (a novel combination) who lived from 1881-1955 is credited to have said: “Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”

Rocketing over the ribbon of highway across Washington State from a trip to the west side, I pondered how many contradictory sources of information bombard us every day and how unlikely it is for us to collect similar information. Maybe I am not the only one who misses the time when most of us agreed on a lot of things. Maybe we all miss agreeing. It would be so great to focus on our commonalities instead of our differences. It was during this daisy-chain of thoughts that the low tire indicator began to ding and flash and immediately freeze its orange colored exclamation point on the dashboard gauges informing me of the blown drivers side tire. I pulled the car over to the side of WA26, about 5 miles past Washtucna and 55 miles from home. The darndest thing happened the moment I turned off the engine and became enveloped in silence. I was stranded alone at the hottest time of the day on the shoulder of a two lane stretch ofHome&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 24

-nothingness and felt no panic. My senses were acute and only aware of the tiny space I hold in the cosmos and the magnitude of miracles that surround us in each breath.

“When life feels too big to handle, go outside. Everything looks smaller when you’re standing under the sky.” L.R. Knost.

Aware that it was 95 degrees, the nice AAA operator sincerely apologized that she could not guarantee assistance until 6 pm. It was 3. I thanked her and ended the call, unruffled yet awestruck that my cell phone had reception. I set the brake and casually stepped out of the car between flushes of big rumbling semis and speeding SUVs. I casually fetched the spare and jack from the rear liftgate. During breaks in the speeding vehicles passing uncomfortably close, I tried to locate the designated pin below the frame to safely place the jack. An unaccompanied dove called, approving of my effort, then said nothing more. I stepped away as more cars whooshed past, their cruise controls set perhaps a tad past the posted mph limit. I was calm and smiling when a motorist stopped and kindly offered his help. He had the tire off and changed in minutes and even followed me a few miles to be sure I was safely on my way. I tip my hat to you Ron from the Washington Farm Bureau. Your selfless gesture filled up my cache with hope that we have not lost the desire to help one another.

These summer encounters created some new perspectives for me. My notes reflect upon the crudeness of survival skills of both worlds; wildlife and people. We may behave like them at times but intellect sets us apart from the animal kingdom. Fear can be a crippling enemy but we can use our wisdom to exercise caution. Our existence is not a balance between predator and prey. Our existence depends upon the balance we create of head and heart. We possess the ability to practice virtues, beautiful human virtues. The ways in which we can be our best selves every day are many. I am reassured as I visualize the benevolent people I visited. I saw respect in the confidence in the face of a young woman I’d never met, as she skillfully engaged me in gracious conversation. I saw fairness and forgiveness in the bond between old friends who found a way to agree in place of arguing. I saw love in the sincerity in my Peter Pan-like friend’s level of consciousness that flows through his gentle heart. I saw compassion in the kind act of a stranger stopping to help me on the side of a country road. Looking at my notes on humans, my realizations suggest that we are capable of caring. It is our human…. nature of grace.

I leave you with a quote believed to be another by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin but has been challenged, thus demonstrating our human tendency to argue and disagree, but ultimately giving him due credit for inspiring the concept in his volumes of writings on spirituality.

“We are not human beings having a experience.spiritual We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

My goodness... my grilled Guiness! Flank to Flame

So I’ll go ahead and be totally honest. I’m a clean-grill kind of guy. You see, just like cars, grills all have a particular type of owner. There’s the petrified rock of a French-fry beneath the seat, covered in a year of dust and debris kind of driver, and then there’s the “are you actually trying to bring a drink into my car, that’s not going to happen,” kind of driver. The one who polishes the dash weekly and notices if there is dust in the cupholder. I’m not that kind of car owner. Never have been. In fact, I tend to be the “oh, I wonder how long that’s been the trunk. I forgot I owned one of those,” type of driver. But not with grills. Grills need to be cleaned and maintained. And for the most part I’m fastidious with the grates. I clean before and after every cook. I mean, your food is going to be siting there. I’m not saying that they need to be clean for some sort of sanitary reason. Heck, I’ve written about using shared grills in parks before, and I have no hang ups when it comes to the power of flame purifying anything that might be a little questionable on the underside your food. My need for a clean cook top is more tactical. I grill partially because I love to cook outside, over open flame. And partially because I love the taste! So after going to all the trouble to invent a recipe, prep the food, get the grill up to the perfect temperature, and spend a little quality time outside enjoying (or suffering from) the weather, why on earth would I take the risk of laying a succulent piece of steak against the charred remains of last week’s chicken thighs? You know that anything left on there – especially any sugary sauces – is just going to get acrid and bitter as the grill cools for the hour after your cooking session, and then reheated and ready to flake off when you get ready for the next round. Leaving your grates dirty is just asking for foul tastes to jump onto your fresh food and begin the process of tainting the flavor as soon as they make contact. Then, during an intense cook at high heats, that gets to permeate, and ruin your food. If you burn everything every time you grill, you might not have noticed yet. Lord knows it took me years to catch on to things like this, and graduate from the “I like a little char on there” explanation of substandard cookery. So at the very minimum, make sure to quickly scrape the hot grates after a grilling session, and again before you put fresh food on. Take a moment to use a little oil, especially if you have something with a high smoke point so it won’t burn and add bitterness to the flavor.

All that said, I’m going to admit that while I want to be a clean grill guy top to bottom, it mostly stops at the grates. I tend to let the grease trap run a little too long (I lost a great portable grill that way but still continue making questionable decisions). And I do a yearly or twice-yearly detail, but let the rest go in-between cooking. Now, if something major falls between the grates, and would create enough smoke to ruin a cook, I’ll retrieve it after the grill cools that night. But for little items, like the occasional veggie, I just sit in the bottom on my gas grill and only get it out of the charcoal grill when I’m doing an ash cleanout and drop the bottom bucket. That and the grease trap could be why the game cam picks up lots of curious racoons, cats and squirrels in our yard a night. But oh well, I’m busy and I’ll get to at the end of the fall or beginning of spring when I do a deep clean.

So last week, after deciding not to use a grill basket because I was in a hurry and didn’t want an extra item to clean after, I watched as yet another pea pod decided that it couldn’t take another moment in this world alone, and followed its friend the bell pepper into the depths of grill and blazing inferno below. They managed to land on the burner and began to incinerate. I knew I was going to need to do some cleaning, but sighed and closed the lid since it would be way to hot to go after them now.

It got me thinking. Number one, grab the grill basket as you head out the door. It’s a lot faster than extra cleanup. Number two, cooking on cast iron is a lot of fun and a great way to add flavor and keep items from ending up lost to the flame below.

Then it hit me! What’s the ultimate flex of grill control? The item that you could never begin to imagine making over flame? No, I’m not talking about diced ultra-thin cuts of meat or even onions without a grill basket. Soup!



That’s right, we are going to make a stew on the grill. Partially because we can. Partially because I love soup. And mostly because it will be a perfect excuse to get my Dutch Oven out and try something new.

Ever since Heather got it for my most recent birthday, I have been obsessed with cooking over flame using my vintage Dutchie. I’ve done casserole, various meats, veggies, fish, breakfasts over a campfire, and even baked dessert. But I haven’t done soup on my backyard grill. Now is the time.

And since the weather is still fine, and I can sit outside and enjoy an extended cook, along with late summer and early fall heat, I decided to have a few beers. Both for me and the Dutch Oven. So put on your sweater (or tank top if the weather hasn’t changed when you read this in late September or early October) and grab a few cans of Guiness. We’re heading out back to whip up a stew. Slowly. Over open flame.

Get the grill up to medium-high and get that Dutch Oven on there. To start we are going to heat ¼ cup of vegetable oil, and then brown 2 pounds of beef chuck. I like to dredge the meat in a little flour. About a ¼ cup or a little more works. Add some salt and pepper during the dredge and keep the left over flour to thicken the roux in the next step. You can choose to have it cut into little 1 inch cubes, but a rustic cut into uneven pieces works just as well because of the longer cooking time. It helps to run about half at a time, and remove it once it is caramelized lightly on all sides. Finish off the second half, adding a little extra oil if needed, then set it all aside.

Now put in one chopped onion and let it brown as you stir. It should be a little under 5 minutes until it gets golden. Time to deglaze. This is where the magic begins!

Open a Guiness. Take a big drink and set it aside. Open a second Guiness and pour it into the Dutch Oven along with 3 Tbs of minced garlic. Get a wooden spoon and use the acidity in the beer to work that caramelized goodness off the bottom of the pan. Take your time. Stir it well, sip your beer. Enjoy the fall sky. The extra bit of patience here pays dividends later.

Once it starts to smell like heaven, and begins to reduce, go ahead and put the meat back in along with all the remaining dredge flour. Bring it to a simmer, and then add 2 tsp of Worcestershire. Remember, its pronounced “Worcestershire” – see what I did there? Stir in 3 ounces of tomato paste, ¼ tsp thyme, and 1 Tbs brown sugar. Put that lid on, pull it a little off the direct heat, or turn down to medium on a gas grill, and let it ride for 90 minutes. Go ahead and check a little after an hour, we just want to get to the point where the meat is tender and pierced easily with a fork. This is hard work, especially if you need to add some fresh coals on a charcoal grill, so don’t feel bad about being ready for another Guiness. Pour that first sip in the pot as you check the meat. See, we had to open that one. The flavor depends on it.

Add in one pound of chopped carrots and 2 bay leaves once that meat is softened up. Put the lid back on and wait another hour. This is good-book cooking. You could be doing some chores in the yard, but I think its better to stay close to the grill. There won’t be many days this warm in the next few weeks so enjoy a great read and the remaining sun as your stew simmers away. Finally add 2 pounds of quartered baby red potatoes and cook for another hour. Its all finished when the taters are soft. Take it off the heat and cut some crusty bread. Garnish with some chopped parsley, serve with Guiness, and rest easy knowing that there is nothing to clean up under those grates. You just grilled some soup!






KITCHEN emory ann kurysh


1 can pumpkin purée

1 cup whole milk

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup chia seeds

Whipped topping


Blend the purée, milk, syrup, salt, and cinnamon in a blender for 1 minute. Add the chia seeds, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for a few hours. Remove and top with whipped cream. Happy Halloween!




Gluten Free


1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup of almond flour or whole wheat flour

1 – 1/2cups of fresh or frozen blueberries (make sure to dry them off very well)

1/2 of a lemon

3/4 cup of greek yogurt- room temperature

2 eggs (beaten) room temperature.

1 tsp of cardamom

1/2 cup of maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup olive oil

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

a pinch of salt

date sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)


In a bowl, add the flour, oats, baking powder and soda, salt and cardamom and mix well. Next add 2 eggs, Greek yogurt, zest of 1/2 or a lemon and juice of 1/2 of a lemon, maple syrup, vanilla and extra virgin olive oil. Fold in the blueberries and mix together well. Scoop into muffin pan or liners, for small muffins fill 1/2 way and for bigger muffins fill to the top. Scoop the mixture into muffin cups and bake at 400- for 5 minutes and then turn down the temperature to 375 – 350 (depending on your oven) for another 20 minutes (starting at a hotter temp helps the muffins rise higher). Sprinkle date sugar on top if desired!

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 34


Chicken + Potato Dumplings

INGREDIENTS | Soup + Potato Dumplings

1 chicken cut up ( or I used 2 breasts & 2 chicken large chicken legs)

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1 Tablespoon salt

2 tsp onion powder

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp black pepper

3 tablespoons dried parsley

4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into ½” rounds

4-5 celery stocks, chopped & include leafy top

1 onion, chopped

Potato Dumplings:

4 potatoes, peeled, cubed

2 Tablespoons butter

Sprinkle of salt/pepper

1 egg

Flour (about 1 cup or so)


In a stock pot add chicken & enough water to cover it. Boil it until fully cooked. Remove chicken to cool so skin can be removed and to strip meat off the bone. Add water (if needed) so stock pot is 2/3 full. Next add in spices, salt, peppers, onion, carrots, celery and cook till vegetables are tender. By that time, chicken should be cooled enough to add to stock pot. Simmer. While chicken and vegetables are cooking, in a separate pot, cook potatoes till done. Drain and let butter melt into hot potatoes. Add a sprinkle of salt/pepper. Once potatoes are cooled add in the egg. Mash potatoes and egg with a potato masher. Add in 1 cup of flour, add in more till dough is only slightly sticky. Scoop out dough and roll into small golf ball size balls. Meanwhile, bring chicken soup to boiling, add in potato dumplings one at a time to avoid sticking together. Dumplings will sink. Cook for about 10 minutes and dumplings will rise to the top when cooked through, Serve immediately. Best served with fresh warm homemade biscuits.



Gluten Free Casserole

INGREDIENTS | Marinade + Noodles + Casserole

(For the marinade)

2 pork chops

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

any meat spice blend




1/2 cup chicken or beef stock

(For the noodles)

12 oz gluten-free fusilli


(For the casserole)

butter or margarine

cooked noodles

1/3 cup green onion

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup frozen corn

cooked pork chops, cubed

15 oz Alfredo sauce


1/2 cup grated cheese


Tired of the food prices lately, I’ve been looking for ways to affordably feed our family with healthy and substantial meals that would provide leftovers for the next day. This recipe will take about 1 hour to make and it feeds our family of 5 for approximately $10-$15 (depending on what you need to buy)!


Marinade pork chops beforehand (preferably night before) with the apple cider vinegar, meat spice, turmeric and pepper. Preheat oil in skillet. Add pork chops and cook over medium heat until browned- approx 4 mins on either side. Add the stock and continue to cook over low for another 15 minutes, flipping over halfway through. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare noodles. Cook them to the listed directions and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F. Cover a large casserole dish with butter. Next add the noodles, green onion, mushrooms, corn, and cubed pork chops. Coat evenly with Alfredo sauce and top with pepper, shredded cheese and parmesan. Place in oven, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and finish baking for another 15 minutes.

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 39
emory ann kurysh


Jam Bundt Cake with Caramel Frosting KITCHEN

Sara Raquet

Jam cakes hail from the depths of Appalachia where store-bought sugar was once scarce in some parts, so desserts were often sweetened with homemade jams and preserves.

INGREDIENTS | Cake + Frosting

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup butter, softened

4 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups seedless blackberry jam

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar


Fresh mint, blackberries


Prepare Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Beat granulated sugar and 1 cup butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients. Stir together buttermilk and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Add jam and vanilla, and beat just until blended. Stir in toasted pecans. Grease (with shortening) and flour a 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours). Prepare Frosting: Bring brown sugar and next 2 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Gently stir 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thicken. Immediately pour frosting over cooled cake.




3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 box (3.4 oz.) instant chocolate pudding

1 cup chocolate chips

1-1/2-2 cups Halloween M&M’s candy

Sprinkles and Candy Eyes to decorate


In a medium bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and instant pudding in a separate medium bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in the M&M’s. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, roll them in sprinkles and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once on cooling rack press candy eyeballs into cookies while still warm.

Fall in Love Generositywith Family Values Part 1

There once was a family of four: Dad, Mom, a two-year old girl and a new baby. They lived in Washington, but their lives were being uprooted and they were moving all the way across the U.S. to the far-away state of Maine.

Within the short span of two weeks, Dad and Mom both quit their jobs in preparation for their new adventure, they loaded the U-Haul with all their worldly possessions, and they even had to sell their beloved “first child,” a Brittany spaniel. The new baby entered the world ten days early after labor was induced. The mom and baby came home from the hospital and the next day, her husband climbed into a twenty-three-foot self-moving van alongside his brother-in-law. They were towing their 4Runner. The engine rumbled to life. Holding the newborn, the mom and daughter dripped great tears as they bade them farewell for the arduous trek that would take them over four-thousand miles away. They drove into the great unknown. Many trials later, the dad and mom were reunited when she flew to Maine, her sister-in-law helping her on the journey. The apartment, rented sight unseen, was cramped and everything in their lives was new and unsure. The dad started graduate school and got a job. The mom got one job, and then later another. They switched off watching the kids and catching winks of sleep.

One day, not too long after, the dad fell ill. It was a holiday weekend, and they hadn’t found a doctor yet. There were no express care centers. He couldn’t go to work. They depended on the income. They were barely scraping by, their resources depleted by the move and graduate school expenses. Rent would be due soon. The mom looked forlornly at the dad. Their desperate eyes locked before he bent back over the bowl and retched.

Because of the distress of the situation, the mom had calculated the loss of income that occurred thanks to the visitation of the flu that kept the dad home from work. The mom trudged out to the mailbox, wishing for a hug from her mother or from someone she knew and loved, but they were all in the Pacific Northwest. So much for their grand adventure. The mom grabbed the envelopes from the mailbox, anticipating only more bills. One stood out. It was smaller and had a hand-written address. It was from some friends back home, and as she happily unfolded the sheet of stationary something escaped and fluttered to the ground. She bent to retrieve it. Her eyes widened then pooled with tears, her breath hitching. It was a check. It was a check for the exact amount of lost wages due to the dad’s illness. The friends said God had laid it on their hearts. She realized the timing of the thought was before her husband had even gotten ill, since it took a week for the mail to cross the country. She smiled and sighed, so grateful. They would make it another month. Generosity.

There were other incidents, but this was a defining moment in a young family’s life that set the tone for understanding the awesome power of an important family virtue. Parenting and developing a well-functioning family takes intentional thought and planning. This article will be the first in a series of family virtues and values and how to develop them, whether you have a young or mature family. So…what is generosity and how do you cultivate it to become a family value? Why would you even want to?

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The quality of being kind and showing a willingness to give more than is expected of one’s time, treasures, or talents are the characteristics of generosity. During the season of fall when we harvest, gather, and celebrate is the perfect time to think about generosity. Remember a time when someone showed unexpected generosity to you—bought you lunch, spent the afternoon helping you move furniture, gave you a tutorial on how to do something, or fixed something broken that you couldn’t. How did you feel? Don’t times like these warm your heart like a cozy sweater on a crisp fall day? Don’t they make you feel valued? Why wouldn’t we want to pass those feelings along to others? Generosity is something many people practice as individuals, and it is important to also create a mindset of generosity that will define your family. Let’s explore! How can you practice generosity? First of all, being a role model for your children is a great place to start. Children are always watching their parents and learning from how they act. When you and your family do some volunteer work, make sure to take your children along. As adults, we set the attitude and perspective on the activity. Make it fun in small ways. If you’re on your way to a community clean-up or food drive, go out for breakfast beforehand. If your family enjoys competition, make the clean-up a contest with teams within your family. Who can fill the most garbage bags? If you volunteer to serve food for an organization, buy or make special aprons with a family motto. Prepare children for what they might expect to see and experience. Be specific about why you are doing the activity. Use this as an opportunity to build gratitude in them so they learn to be content with their own life and circumstances. Talk about the experience afterward and use it as a teaching moment. Maybe let them know you’ll be asking them for one thing they learned or that impacted them. You may be surprised to hear them say they got more out of it than they felt like they gave.

A few more examples of giving time: Have you ever gone Christmas caroling at a nursing home? It may not seem like a big deal to you, but from the way the residents’ eyes light up as they sing along, it is obvious it means a lot to them. Another idea is to adopt an elderly neighbor. When we lived in Maine, our kids had no grandparents around. We had an aged widow down the hall from us in our apartment complex. We had the girls make cards for her—just because—not only on holidays. We baked her some goodies, we helped her haul groceries, but probably most importantly we sat and talked and just listened. We gave her some of our time. She was lonely. Someone cared. And guess what? Our girls learned to be generous and saw firsthand how generosity positively impacts others. Our neighbor didn’t have material wealth to give her own gifts, but the hugs and smiles were all we needed or wanted. The kids learned to look out for the needs of others. Babies are naturally egocentric. They can’t do anything for themselves, so of course their every need is attended to, but as they grow, they still need to be loved but also learn they aren’t the center of the world. There are others who also matter.

Finding an organization to volunteer for can also be a good way to jump into generosity. There are many local agencies or churches where you can get involved.

One act of generosity can be life-changing. My husband began volunteering for a ministry: a fish camp in Alaska. Pretty rough, right? Our now three girls and I wanted in on the action, so along with another family, we all went the next year and-

-worked hard at a service project for the camp. Seventeen years later, we are still visiting southeast Alaska. Our oldest daughter met her husband there, so we still visit, now getting to spend time with our grandkids. You just never know where generosity will lead you.

Teaching generosity in regard to treasures is also an important lesson and family virtue. When we are able to help meet the needs of others, it takes the focus off of ourselves, so we don’t become self-centered. Learning to let go of some money or possessions helps families have a proper perspective on their “stuff.” When children are young, teach them the value of money by having them do age-appropriate jobs or chores to earn some cash. We had specifically designed banks that were sectioned off into three parts: spend, save, and give. With the “give” money, they could give to church, or use it to buy something for someone in need. The girls often wanted to contribute to purchasing necessities and toys which we packed into a shoebox and sent to a charity organization. These were distributed to children who lived overseas. Later we could look up videos of the children opening the boxes. The recipients’ eyes were wide with excitement as they pulled out a stuffed animal and hugged it tight, tears of happiness streaming down their faces. What joy they experienced over getting a simple toothbrush! Again, this is a great lesson on being kind and generous to those who are less fortunate, even if your own family is not plush with resources. You can still be generous in small things. Giving, even when you feel you have nothing to give, is uplifting and eye-opening. How about this fun idea? As a family, you can each contribute to a collective ministry or generosity fund. Having this available teaches kids to be aware of the needs of others. Watching the fund grow builds excitement, and the kids are always on the lookout for ways they can use it to help others. How about that? You just taught them to think of others and their needs. They learned to delay self-gratification.

My mother-in-law began the legacy in our family of being generous with treasure. She was so hospitable with her home, opening it up to family and friends over the years who probably had no idea how much work it was or how much it cost her in dollars. Her daughter now carries on the tradition. We just returned from a family reunion at that very house. Cousins, kids, grandkids, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters all having so much fun together. So many awesome memories are made at these gatherings. See what I mean by modeling generosity? It works.

Another generosity of both time and treasure is the family that works in the garden: planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and then being generous to bless others with the gifts of their labor. This teaches everyone that sometimes you work for things outside of yourself, and that it is just as rewarding, or even more so, than working for yourself.

Do you notice when others are generous? Do you see a student offer his last extra pencil to another student in need? Have you witnessed or been on the receiving end of someone who pays for the person behind him in the drive-through at a fast-food restaurant? Sharing generosity through treasures can take many forms and helps humans to not become materialistic. Value in relationships and helping their fellow man become important. Would you like your family to be known for being giving and kind?

Finally, there is also generosity of talent. Kids can donate talent-

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 47

-by helping their parents navigate computer issues. (You laugh because you’ve also needed their generosity of talent, right?) What are some other ways to give talents? Two years in a row, our family planned and executed a family camp for our church. This entailed a lot of work and preparation, but we had fun doing it as a team (mostly!). The girls helped their dad in the worship band, so they were giving their talents of being musicians and singers. Things were frustrating at times and didn’t always go smoothly, but the end result was worth it. Many family values are tied together. In this case, they also learned resilience.

One time our hot water heater went out on a weekend. We really didn’t want to pay for an emergency visit but obviously wanted hot water. We had a friend in-the-know who gave generously of his talents (and time—a whole afternoon and evening) to help us install a new one. It is so comforting when someone who has the talent and knowledge helps you out with something. What a relief! We all have talents and could be looking for ways to use them to help others.

I thought of another example that combines all three components of generosity: time, treasure, and talent. When my second daughter was in third grade, a friend of hers was killed in a car accident. A few other friends we knew had recently lost loved ones. As a family, we launched Operation Angel Love. An angel trinket, notes of empathy and encouragement, and some other simple goodies went into a hand-decorated box, which we personally delivered to the grieving families. It was a gifting of kindness that greatly impacted not only the recipients but also our family as we gave a simple but thoughtful gesture. These are just some ideas we had. Be creative and ask for input from all your family members, and I’m sure you’ll come up with some amazing ways to cultivate a harvest of generosity.

Speaking of harvest, as we meander the path littered with red, orange, and golden leaves into the wonderful season of autumn with holidays and family gatherings, it is the perfect time to contemplate how to create an atmosphere of thankfulness, kindness, and generosity in yourself and in your family. As we harvest produce, let us also consider what crops of values we are growing in our families.

Be creative and ask for input from all your family members, and I’m sure you’ll come up with some amazing ways to cultivate a harvest of generosity.

I again find myself in the mountains of New Mexico for a series of Extreme Long Range rifle competitions. We will spend the next week at The Whittington Center, indulging in various shooting sports. I usually try to write these articles as they happen and things are fresh in my mind. However, this time, for some reason, I managed to put it off until I returned home. A few highlights come to mind as I reflect on the week’s events. Suppose you have been following along on these adventures. In that case, you would know that one of the first things we do when arriving at a venue is head to a sight-in or zeroing range to ensure everything is as it should be. However, no one got their rifle out when we arrived at the range. We were all drawn to an old fellow down on the bench on the far right side of the firing line alone. Next thing the old-timer knew, he was surrounded by guys asking questions about his rifle and methods. I wish I had gotten his name, but that question didn’t get asked. There we stood, with our mouths hanging open at what we, as shooters on the cutting edge of the sport, would consider primitive. We asked if we could watch him shoot, and he agreed to run us through his process. His “shot” started by opening the breach of his rifle from somewhere in the 1800s by moving an elaborate lever on the bottom of the rifle forward that exposed the barrel chamber. He then proceeded to insert a cast lead bullet into the chamber. Just the bullet, all by itself. He then proceeded to put this little press-like thing-a-ma-jig onto the rifle. As near as I can figure, this apparatus was used to press the bullet into the proper location in the chamber. At this point, my mind is being blown up. He couldn’t possibly hit anything with this, could he? After removing the press thing from the top of the rifle, he inserted what looked like a straight wall brass case with the powder charge in it. I looked at his case of cartridges to see how he was keeping the powder in the case. I noticed a small cork disk sitting inside the case’s neck. He then pulled the lever on the bottom of the rifle to close the breach block and was ready to shoot. The shot process was about as foreign to us as the loading process. He flipped up a rear peep sight and took his position. I think this old rifle had what I believe is called a set trigger that acts like a safety. This trigger must be pulled to engage the actual trigger, which is set to a very light pull weight. Finally, after several minutes of preparing for the shot, it was time. I was actually amazed at how his old weathered hands all of a sudden became calm and steady. On to the trigger, his finger went, and “bang.” The round was in the air. The rifles we shoot have large muzzle breaks and a concussion you can feel on your internal organs. This old timer’s rifle, not so much. It was rather pleasant. The rifle didn’t seem to have much recoil, and I could hear the bullet going down range. Then, to my amazement, I heard the bullet pass through the paper target he had set up at 200 yards. Again with the mouth hanging there in awe. It turns out that this old timer wasn’t alone. He was there with his “crew” of like-minded marksmen. In fact, there was a whole bunch of them here at The Whittington Center for what’s called “Schuetzen.” I believe the name is German to pay homage to the sport’s roots, a competition set up around these old rifles and techniques. I looked it up online and was blown away by the rules that govern the discipline right down to the clothing. I thought the ELR world was heavy on the rules, but it’s nothing compared to these guys.

The first of our competitions would be the light gun match. I shot the 7-saum again and had about the same results as the last match. This rifle simply doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with the 338 guns that dominate the class. Shortly after the match, we finalized a plan to do a bolt and barrel swap on the old 375 EnABELR to make it a 300 Norma Magnum improved. I ordered a barrel from Schneider Rifle Barrels out of Canadian, TX. This will be my first barrel from them under the stamp of approval from Jay Monych, a trusted friend. The method to the madness went something like this.

3,700 yards

- or bust -

We all shoot the same heavy gun in the 416 Hellfire. The only real difference is John’s barrel is a little bit shorter because it started its life out as a 416 Barrett and then was re-chambered into a 41XC and then finally a 416 Hellfire and is on a 10X action. His new rifle will be on a 20X action with the same barrel as mine, literally from the same piece of steel and chambered by the same shop. So it only makes sense to do the same with the light guns. John has a reamer with a few slight modifications to the neck and shoulder from your standard 300 Norma Mag, so I am re-chambering my rifles to match his. We will cover that transformation sometime this winter, but for now, that is the plan for light gun matches in 2024. I couldn’t bring myself to do a 33XC since the cartridge eats a barrel every 500-700 rounds. You’d have to order barrels in a sixpack to keep up with it.

The Raton Thunder 1.65-mile challenge started well when I connected on 9/10 shots at 1,178 and 1,387 yd. That’s an excellent way to start a match. The second relay of day one wasn’t quite as kind to me. I began by going 0/5 at 1,802 yd and was all around it but not on target. A slight redemption came with a 4/5 at 1,990 yd. Day two filled the same theme to a degree. In the morning, I went 2/5 at 1,990 yd and followed that up with 3/5 at 2,265 yd. I don’t know where I am on the leaderboard, but it feels like the top quarter. The second relay of day two did it to me again when I went 0/5 at 2,650 yd and followed it up with 3/5 at 2,878 yd. Not sure what was going on with that first target of the second relay each day, but they killed me. In the end, I placed fourth and, for the first time in a single match, scored in excess of a hundred thousand points with 110,022 total for the match.

Let’s fast forward to the first day of the Spring Canyon match. My attempt at the new world record target went sideways when my brain cramped up, and I turned my windage one mill right instead of one mill left. Then when John called out my correction, I moved it even further to the right as we moved onto T1 at 2910 yards. By the time I got myself straightened out, it was time to transition to T2. Not the best way to start a match, but I recovered slightly on T2 and went 2/5 at 2,765 yd. It helped that I got a first-round impact which was worth a ton of points.

Now for the exciting part of day one. My shooting partner John Beloit laid down for his world record attempt about an hour later. The conditions were staying reasonably consistent and not bad at all. He received the notice that he was on the clock and sent his first round. Stan Cutsforth and I were on spotting scopes, and both saw dirt kick up between and behind the record target and T1. I started to call a correction when “Impact” rang out from the scorer’s table. My head snapped to the right, and I could see Stan’s head do the same, to double-check that we heard right. Ok, in my head, I’m thinking that it had to be an edge strike on the left edge of the plate that sent the round off to the left. I told John, “Elevation is good; hold that right edge and send them all.” He proceeded to stack 2 more just left of the center. He had done it! John got up off his rifle as the high fives, hugs, and fist bumps started to celebrate the accomplishment. He was the new world record holder at 2,910 yd. I think all the commotion and excitement rattled him, and the following two targets didn’t go too well, but what did it matter since he had the world record.

After the shooting had completed for the day came the fun part. John, Stan, Walker, Chuck, Don, and I went up onto the mountain to verify the record impacts. John and Stan led in an ATV, and the rest of us followed in Walker’s Toyota pickup. John and Stan arrived at the target at least 10-15 minutes before the rest of us. When we arrived, John met us on the trail and said, “No-

-record, the first round was a chain strike.” As we arrived at the target, John pointed out that the fourth link up on the left side from the target plate had a strike mark on it. John had actually been able to find the bullet and match it up to the strike. Here is where I would like to point out the rampant personal integrity in this thing we call ELR. John and Stan had plenty of time before anyone arrived at the target to put the slightest mark on the left edge and make John the world record holder. Not a soul would have questioned it since nobody else had made contact with that target all day, and his were the only marks on the plate. That’s not who they are as individuals and not who we are as a group. For now, Chris Schmidt’s record is still safe at 2,878 yards. But, Chris, consider yourself being put on notice; we are coming for you, brother.

At the start of day two at Spring Canyon, I was in second place, roughly a thousand points behind the leader. Not too bad, considering how I messed up on T1 on day one. A win here isn’t out of the question if I can keep my wits about me. As fate would have it, that 2,910 yd target got the better of me again, but in a completely different way. I had preset the elevation on my scope to save time, as when these things start, it gets hectic. My head must not have been entirely in the game because I needed 27.3 mills of elevation. I dialed 15.3, making a full rotation of the elevation turret error. Once again, I was three shots in by the time I discovered the error. When I discovered the mistake, I had a round in the chamber, and through the course of clearing it because the hot chamber had “cooked” the round, I had to pull my bolt out of the rifle. The problem then compounded itself when the firing pin popped out while removing the bolt. With the clock ticking away, I got everything back together and managed a 5th round hit at 2,910 yd. With less than a minute left on the clock, I managed to get all five rounds off at T5, which was at 2,550 yd with impacts on the first, third, and fourth rounds. Round two was a skip; even though it hit the target, those don’t count. The second relay of the day and final round of the trip started by hitting 2/5 at 3,155 yd. This left that final elusive 3,700 yd target, my nemesis. I scared the hell out of it with every round, the final round being center target, but just short in the dirt in front of the target. It kicked dirt onto the target like an angry baseball coach would do to an umpire just before getting tossed from the game. I rolled off my rifle onto my back and just moaned in agony. That dang 2.1-mile target had eluded me again!

The two mental errors I committed cost me in the Spring Canyon match. Did it cost me the win? Who knows, but it certainly didn’t help. Oddly, I had secured a fourth-place finish at Spring Canyon, where just one short year ago, I managed only one hit and finished third from last. So far this year, the new 416 Hellfire has three 4th place, a 5th, and a 7th place finishes. The rifle is ready to perform at the King Of 2 Mile in late September, the question being, is the operator prepared to perform to the level that the rifle is capable of? I will let you know in the November issue.

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 52
We are coming for you, brother

Martha Lorang was one of the younger Children of John and Mary Lorang, born in 1897. (I started capitalizing Children, because John did this all his life while writing letters. So I am doing the same.)

As all of the Lorang Children did, Martha saved letters from her friends, which we still have. One of Martha’s good friends was a Country School teacher, a young woman; still a Junior in college. Caroline Terhaar did her best to adapt to her new full schedule and wrote to Martha Lorang in the 1910s and 1920s. At first we thought we had only one letter from her, but soon discovered that Martha’s friend “Carrie” was the same person. Now we have six letters from this Country School teacher. Here are excerpts from three letters and a wonderful story of Pine Grove school with them. The Children of John and Mary went to the Ebel Schoolhouse nearby, but also Pine Grove just north of Genesee before switching to Genesee schools. For even more letters, check our website at WhiteSpringRanch.org.

Winona, Ida

Feb, 7, 1919

“Dearest Martha –

I’ve been getting about two letters per day. Today I didn’t get any and was somewhat disappointed. The postmistress asked me what I was going to do about it, and I told her I guessed I’d answer some, so here goes. But...the kids are having a scrap out there so I must go out and settle it… Oh, it was nothing much, the youngsters had a snow ball battle and one side wouldn’t surrender when they were licked. The winning side continued to pepper them with snowballs until some of them cried. The crying was the part I heard in the school house. I like teaching just fine, only the bunch I have here needs a good strict man teacher who will make them walk the chalk line two or three times a day. Say, did the flu effect you? It effected me everwhere but worse of all my head. I can’t remember anything. When I try to talk, I get all my words twisted + backwards or in various shapes & sizes. I supposed you have already noticed it by this letter.

It is time for me to take up school. Will write more later. ...I have the kids making valentines now so I have a few minutes to write a little more. I am planning a school program. I have the hall and all parts given out & we practice quite often. It will be my first experience at this & I sincerely hope to succeed. There are three dances tonight. I want to go to the one farthest away, but the way roads are, we are undecided. My ford isn’t in very good working order. The kid was out & got stuck the other night. All four spark plugs went dead on him. You didn’t know that I had a Ford did you? Well, I have one or least it is partly mine. Last week we started home & ran clear out of gas. We had to back up every hill & then turn around again until finally we borrowed enough to get home. The worst of all was the lights died & all the glim we had was one flashlight. He fastened it in front & we arrived home safely at 4 A.M.

Oh I’ll tell you, these are days of real sport.

You know I’m teaching here in town & everyone delights in teasing me. Well, there are two real nice kids that want to chase with me. One fellow said they were going to raffle me off… He has it all figured out & today someone told me he was fixing up the tickets... I’m running short on space now so will ring off.

Lovingly yours, Carrie

P.S. We haven’t heard from Paul for a month & don’t know what to think about it. But I expect we’ll hear before long. We have never given up hopes of hearing from him. “

Myrtle Ida.

March 2, 1920

“Dear Martha:

... Do you know where I am? I’m hidin’. I’m at Myrtle teacher training, and talk about real sport & good times. We have the sweetest bunch of youngsters out here that you ever saw at any school.


Our SchoolCountry Teachers

They are cute & everything. One of the little boys said “I like Mrs. Terhaar better than any of my teachers”. He always calls me Mrs. Terhaar. Gee, he’s cute. He made me a string of beads out of cucumber & sun-flower seeds. I wear it sometimes and then he just beams on me.

I always play base ball with the kids and they quarrel to see who is going to have Miss Terhaar on their side.

Every Sunday we teachers go for long hikes and boat rides ‘n parties.

We had a taffy pull last Friday …We wash on Saturdays & after we take them out of the boiler, we take the clothes down to the river and rinse them. That’s lots of fun.

... Well I am supposed to go out for a stroll this evening but I am too tired to do anything. I’ve been making a poster on dramatics today. I have charge of the plays.

Well skinny, I really must draw to a close.

Now please don’t wait two years before you answer.“

Lewiston Idaho

April 8, 1920

“Dear Martha:

I’ll bet you can’t guess what we did yesterday – Oh I know you can’t, so I’ll tell you….You are the only one at Genesee that I write and you know that isn’t very often.

Lewis Hall girls gave a party Friday. It was a backward affair. Everything was done backward & we all dressed backward. I had a dickens of a good time. Then I went on that hike yesterday and you can imagine I was pretty tired last night. I tried to dance but the calves of my legs ached so I just couldn’t.

I am carrying a deuse of a heavy course this quarter. I am also trying to sew. I made a cute skirt and two pairs of bloomers. I still have a gingham dress to make.

hen after that I have to study. It seems as if I never get any sleep. I generally go to sleep during my Principles of Geography class. He hasn’t called me down for it yet but I suspect him to almost any day.

I haven’t been at home since Christmas. I tried to stay here and attend Summer school. We are going to have the Junior Prom. I suppose it will be a big affair and I have no evening dress. Well skinny,

Some fond memories as told by Mildred Freeburn Harris- Pine Grove School:

The school yard contained a large teeter-totter and swings. They were well built and one could really swing high. I and Dorothy Lambert, or Hazel Jones, used to swing together in one. Some of the games the children played were “Annie-Over” – throwing the ball over the schoolhouse. There was dirt in front of the school so we would draw hop-scotch squares. In the winter there always was lots of snow and we drew a circle in it and played “cut-the-pie” or a game called “run-goose-run” Often the teacher would participate.

We were allowed to bring our sleds to school. During recess we would slide down Wardrobe hill. There was a bank off one side and once when my sister, Marguerite, was riding behind Bud Jones; they went over that bank. They didn’t get hurt, but had-

-a hard landing. When the weather was stormy or too cold we would play games indoors. Older pupils made bean bags and they were allowed to throw and catch those. Kerosine lamps that were on the walls had shields over them for protection.

Inside the school was a large stove that had a protective shield around it to keep us from getting burned – also a steel rim where on cold days we could warm our toes. Some pupils, like the Jones kids, walked to school a long way and their hair and eyelashes would be frosted. There was a kitchen and in cold weather older pupils were allowed to make soup or hot cocoa, so we would have something hot with our lunches. The big boys had to bring in wood for the stove and carry water. They got the water from a well that was halfway between school and Fred Miller’s place. One year, much to the horror of parents, a dead rat was found in the well. For some time they had to get water at Miller’s and carry it even farther. There was a bench for the water bucket and a long-handled dipper from which we all drank – also a wash basin and roller-towel.

In front of the platform on which the teacher’s desk sat, was a recitation bench. Different grades were called on to come up for part of their work. While they were reciting, the other pupils would have work to do at their desks, work arithmetic problems, study geography, etc. If we got our work done, we could listen to what was going on up front or get a book from the library.

Our mother, who was on the school board, when hiring a teacher; insisted they knew how to play the piano. All classes joined in singing, old songs like “Way Down Upon the Swanee River” We all enjoyed singing.

Pupils bought their own books, new or used from older pupils, also tablets, pencils, crayons and a box of watercolor paints. Teachers would have lots of pictures. Older kids would hold the pictures with paper over them up to the window and trace the picture for the younger ones to color or paint. Every kid had to make a quilt block. Ladies in the community put these together to give the quilt to the teacher at the end of the school year.

A special treat was to have a taffy-pull. We would all wash our hands in soap and water and apply butter to them so the candy wouldn’t stick. The taffy probably wasn’t very sanitary by the time we got it pulled, but we all ate it.

If a child was naughty, the teacher would draw a small circle on the blackboard and they were to stand with their nose in the circle for a while. Our cousin, Dorothy Lambert, had to do this for throwing spitballs. If one was extra good or got a high grade on their work, they got to go outside to clean erasers-banging them to remove the chalk.

The teachers I had when I went there were Miss Katherine McMahon, our cousin, Nita Lemons, Miss Lillian Soniville, and maybe Ebba Swanson. In 1920-21 the teacher was Sadie Hawkins. She married one of my uncles, Dave Spurbeck. Sometimes the teachers boarded at the home of our Spurbeck grandparents and other years at the Millers. When they stayed at Grandpa’s, he drove them to school and started the fire. Our mother, Winnifred Freeburn one of the Spurbeck girls, taught if a substitute was needed. Other teachers were Verna Whiting and Edith Lennox. In 1910, Miss Peterson was teacher and she

After service in WWI, Carrie’s brother Paul Terhaar did make it home to Cottonwood, Idaho and married in 1921.

boarded at Grandpa and Grandma’s.”
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Goo byGebelAnnie

I’ve always thought group costumes to be fun and creative! So, what if this year I paired up with two friends and one could be a slinky caterpillar and one a stunning butterfly. I’ll be the goo.

While it’s not completely true that caterpillars completely dissolve inside their chrysalises, they do go through quite an intense process of breaking down much of their bodies and rebuilding them into something new. Thankfully, their tracheal tubes and guts remain, although they too change to meet the needs of the butterfly that are different from the caterpillar. Today, right now, I kind of feel like this is where I’m at. I’m breathing, eating, and excreting…so technically living. Yet I don’t have the luxury of using my shedded skin to cover and protect me during this gooey metamorphosis I’m in. I can’t even stay wrapped in a blanket all day.

I’ve got to work, to parent, to occasionally reassure my family and friends that I’m okay. Mostly, though, I’m mush. I’m tired beyond feeling a little sleepy. I can only make the same things over and over for meals because thinking of different ideas is far too much effort. In a lot of ways, only the systems that need to be functioning are doing so while the rest of me rebuilds into something new. And I don’t even know what color my wings will be! And that’s okay, because I’m not ready to fly yet. I’m still goo. A few months ago I had an astrology reading. She said a lot of important things about my life. The one that stuck with me, though, was, “Oh yeah, you’re gonna be mush for the next year. Goo. You’re just goo.”

At the time I was feeling like I was getting my footing in my new life, yet I knew I’d need to take it slow and not get ahead of myself. And then life started coming at me again. Nothing too big or disastrous - just life. Dishes not doing themselves, cats wanting to get fed, groceries for teens, and garbage still needing to hit the curb once a week. It’s not unusual stuff, it’s just got me weary. And when I started to beat myself up a little over that - you know the way it goes…

This is normal stuff. You’re an adult. You should be able to do this. Others have it so much worse. Why are you so lazy?

…judgment, comparison, name-calling - when that started, I thankfully heard the astrologer’s voice, “Oh, yeah, you’re gonna be mush for the next year. Goo. You’re just goo.”

And I sighed. And I breathed.

And I cried and laughed and slept and ate and did it all again.

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I gave myself a break (still am) because I’m goo. I might not be able to stay disconnected from the outside world and protected in a little sleeping bag while I metamorphosize, but I’m doing it all the same! And doing it requires a goo stage.

Why am I telling you about my goo stage other than to give you a great Halloween costume? (I’m picturing a hoodie with the hood up, cinched around my face, sweat pants, and dark shades to discourage eye contact.) I’m telling you because I know that so many of us go through goo stages without the benefit of an astrologer permitting us to just be in that space. I want you to feel fine about just being there.

I want to encourage you to stop the negative self talk when it starts. I want to remind you that comparison is not only the thief of joy, but the predecessor of judgment. And judgment isn’t a thing you need to be doing to yourself while in the midst of epic change! I know it’s not a switch that can just be flipped off, but I even encourage you to improve your self-talk. Mine is definitely still a work in progress, but in the words of Toni Jones, from Talk to Me Nice, “I value who I’ve become and how I’ve grown so I must be a diligent guardian of my energy, heart, and time…My self talk is getting better by the day.”

I’m also telling you because this phase of change is often rushed. It’s not the most pleasant and it certainly doesn’t fit with the prominent cultural ideas about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, getting back on the horse, getting on with life. It’s about just being.

Being in the grief. Breathing through the pain and sorrow. Laughing at memories of what was (like all the legs you had when you were a caterpillar) and dreaming about what could be (nectar sipping, anyone? Sounds delightful, right?). Cry when you need to, nap when you can. Sit and look at sunsets or sunrises or moonlit skies sprinkled with stars. Be open to how your cells are rearranging around the vital organs that remain and notice small bits of progress, which can certainly be celebrated, but don’t move too fast yet. The goo stage is not the type of thing that ends suddenly and then, with a little finger gun action (*pew* *pew*), you’re off to live like nothing happened. Being goo is slow, challenging, sometimes peaceful if you let it be, and both the end and the beginning…but just the very beginning. I imagine that after the process has run its course and I know what color wings to buy for next Halloween (I hope!) I’ll still need to get my bearings, open and shut my wings a few times, let them dry in the air and practice just being again for a hot minute before I can take off and fly. I imagine that for you too. So, take your time, as you rebuild yourself in the midst of change, and give yourself all the permission to just be goo. Just be.



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take your time as you rebuild yourself in the midst of change and give yourself all the permission to just be goo

Change is hard all on its own. There’s nothing that says we have to make it harder by rushing it or relishing in it. I’m not suggesting that either, just to be clear. I’m not saying it’s healthy to settle down into the muck and pop a squat for the next decade, because it’s likely not. I am saying that you actually need to pass through the gunk to become whomever you’re becoming.

As your cells reconfigure, give yourself grace, meet your go-gogo mindset with patience and compassion, and allow space for your new needs. Remember, wings take up more space than all those little caterpillar legs. The goo stage is part of your expansion - an essential part - yet it’s not the last stage. You will come out of it and, as I said earlier on, that’ll likely happen slowly but it will happen. So don’t unpack and settle into this uncomfortable liquid body, barely living phase. Feel free to look around and acknowledge that it is nice to say no to outings, read a book instead of watching tv, or take another nap. Whatever is helping you heal into your next self is beautiful and right, and some of it might come with you, but you may also find that socializing and entertainment and actually living out loud call to you to!

Just be…be ready, be open, be you.

I feel like there’s one last thing I want to say about this sort of metamorphosis that is more change than we think we can handle sometimes. It’s not easy or comfortable or all smooth sailing. Even if you’re open to it and recognize that it’s part of the process. You might feel uncomfortable. You might realize that friendships need to or will change. You might want to try to go back to how you were, how everything was. You might have feelings that are painful or unexpected. All of this is okay. Normal. And doesn’t change the fact that you’re here, in this uncomfortable place, facing the unknown ahead of you or the fact that you’ll learn how to fly once you spread your wings. Because everything you need is in you! YOU! You can breathe and cry and laugh through the sticky, uncomfortable spots while in this gooey phase and you can open yourself to a new day when the time comes.

One more set of lyrics, and then I’ll let you go take a nap or whatever, but Yola speaks to me often in her music and these words are from Stand For Myself and might speak to you too. “Now I’m alive, it’s hard to explain. It took this much time. It took this much pain. You can get here if you’re willing, let go of yourself for a new beginning.”

If you’ve been reading this publication for a bit, almost two years ago I wrote a different piece about change and reminded you that if you’re in the midst of change to remember you’re not alone, you can trust your intuition (but you have to listen to it and not everyone else!), and you’re alive! Even in the goo stagenot still a caterpillar, not yet a butterfly - still alive.

Just keep breathing. Just keep being.

you actually need to pass through the gunk to become whomever you are becoming

Here is the

Knowledge of Centuries Past

Fall has arrived, and so has a new generation of Vandals, stepping onto the hallowed grounds of the University of Idaho campus. Above them, a towering marvel that has witnessed generations of eager students pass beneath its grand arches—the clocktower of the University of Idaho Library. Nestled in the heart of the academic plaza, this iconic landmark is no ordinary structure. When the sun dips below the horizon, it transforms into a mesmerizing beacon, casting its radiant glow for blocks around. But the library’s significance runs deep. The library is so important to the U of I that the only room finished before it was the President’s Office. Even the first classrooms were furnished after the library. When the U of I opened in 1889, the collection comprised 250 books, gifts from supporters of the first university in Idaho.

For me, the library has been more than just a workplace for the past fifteen years. I was first employed to answer questions at the information desk, and since then I have taught classes, earned tenure, and even co-authored a book of my own. I have spent more time in this library than I have spent anywhere else in my entire life. From my humble office on the fourth floor to the cozy basement nook I now call home, I’ve seen it all. Yet, nothing compares to the breathtaking view from that towering clock tower. It’s a privilege to gaze upon the campus from such a vantage point. The library was originally housed in the old Administration building, where, in less than a decade, 12,000 books were gathered. Unfortunately, every single book was lost in the fire of 1906. The cause of the fire remains unknown, but the original building burned to the ground while students and faculty saved what little they could in the dark of a cold winter night. The horse-drawn fire engine had to be sent for by students on foot, and when it arrived it did not carry enough water to subdue the building-wide fire. A tragedy at the time, at least no people were injured. The fire also ignited new interest in supporting the university from around the state.

The library’s holdings would begin again with gifts of $1832 in cash, 1283 books and 243 pamphlets. It was resurrected by lining the walls of Memorial Gym with bookshelves. Time and again the library outgrew its temporary home and was moved from one building on campus to another. Finally, a four-story library building was dedicated on November 2, 1957. The library houses more than a million books, as well as thousands of periodicals, and serves as a Federal Government Repository.

The current building is made of fireproof aluminum and brick. Originally the three upper floors of the library were dedicated to different parts of the university. What is now the second floor was dedicated to the Humanities, the third floor was dedicated to Social Sciences, and the fourth floor was dedicated to Science and Technology. The ground floor contained a browsing room, periodicals, newspapers, and popular books. Study rooms were also available on the ground floor. For a time, the library even housed the University Post Office.

As fate would have it, my life has been intertwined with libraries since my earliest days. As a kid, my local public library became a second home. I explored its every nook and cranny, absorbing countless tales of comic strips and sci-fi adventures. Little did I know then that my passion for these hallowed halls of knowledge would lead me to become a librarian myself. Like many, I never really wondered where librarians came from—it just felt like destiny.

Of course, the number of librarians has only grown over the years, with more than a dozen currently supporting researchers, managing data, leading open education initiatives, and reaching out to students across the state and around the world. Each one is deserving of recognition beyond what I could hope to give them.

I worked as a substitute librarian at a public library. I got a job at a tiny college library. And then finally, my library jobs at a college or university are actually fairly competitive to get, so even though that was my goal, I had to pay my dues first. I did a lot of oddjobs, like creating a list of the books at a historical mansion, taking photographs of plant specimens for a museum, and scanning letters that were sent to Buffalo Bill, Cody. That last one was pretty fun. A big break. I found myself walking beneath that glorious U of I Library tower and into my dream job.

After a brief relocation to Morrill Hall in 1907, the library found a permanent home in the new Administration Building. Over the next 50 years, the growing library would occupy more and more space within the Administration Building, until, at last, in 1957 a stand-alone library building was completed. However, the library would not have carpeting until 1979. It was funded by the proceeds from vending machines. The crowning glory arrived in 1993—the majestic clocktower addition to the north side, a symbol of the library’s enduring spirit. In 2016, a modern internal makeover brought the library into the 21st century, embracing digital resources alongside the treasured printed tomes.

Speaking of destiny, let’s turn back the clock to the late 1800s. The library’s journey began under the capable hands of John E. Bonebright, the very first library manager who also dabbled in mathematics and physics. With zeal and dedication, he nurtured the library’s growth, expanding its collection to house 3000 books, numerous magazines, and newspapers from all corners of the region. But that was just the beginning.

Enter Stella Allen, the trailblazing Assistant Librarian, who brought order to the library’s chaos by organizing books using the Dewey Decimal System. She introduced the novel idea of a card catalog, revolutionizing how information was accessed. However, destiny had its way, and she bid farewell to the library when love beckoned.

Then came Margaret B. McCallie, fresh out of U of I as a graduate. Under her visionary leadership, students were granted the privilege of checking out books, although a small cash deposit was required. The library thrived under her care, expanding into a second room with improved magazine shelving. But life’s journey took her to the bustling city of Chicago.

It was only by accident that I discovered that there was such a thing as a degree in Library Science. A small school down the road was starting a new library science program and was offering discounted tuition to get students to apply. Enrolling in evening classes, I embraced the art and science of librarianship, finally achieving my dream as an official diploma-holding librarian. Mary Belle Sweet was the first librarian hired by the university to hold a degree from a professional library school. She arrived in November of 1905 and would go on to be one of the longest serving librarians in the university’s history, staying for 43 years. In fact, it would fall upon Belle to rebuild the library from scratch as in March of 1906, just a few months after she was hired, the original library burned to the ground with the rest of the Old Administration building. She began with a set of wooden shelves in the gymnasium. This new library held 738 books - the books that happened to be checked out when the old library burnt down.

The standalone library built in 1957 was designed by Robert F. Berks (1922-2011), who was an incredibly talented and celebrated American sculptor and architect, and he had quite the artistic journey. Born in Philadelphia, Berks discovered his passion for sculpting at an early age and pursued formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. As he traveled the world, his skills flourished, and he developed a unique style characterized by intricate details and dynamic compositions. Beyond sculpting, Berks made remarkable contributions to architecture, including designing the beloved University of Idaho Library. With his touch of modernism and artistic flair, he created buildings that not only served their purpose but also captured the imagination. Today, we can still admire his artistic installations in public spaces, while his architectural masterpieces continue to inspire and leave an unforgettable impression on the urban landscape.

Rumor has it that the mural still exists

Of course, the most intriguing parts of the Library aren’t necessarily what you see today but what you can’t. When the first dedicated library building was constructed in 1957, the original entrance was decorated by a large mural entitled “Truth Awakened by Knowledge and Understanding.” It was painted by Mary Kirkwood, a notable 20th Century modernist painter who taught at the U of I for 40 years. The mural is infamous among those who know of it for being a little strange. To me what jumps out is the sinister floating man but the more you look at the mural, the more everything about it seems just a little off kilter. Rumor has it that the mural still exists and was simply dry walled in during later renovations. While we can guess the general area where it probably is, no one in living memory has seen the actual mural.

As fate would have it, my life has been intertwined with libraries since my earliest days.
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If you happen to know where to look, there’s a delightful surprise waiting for you! Nestled behind some shrubbery, near the original entrance of the Library facing The Teaching and Learning Commons at the U of I, is a giant engraved plaque. It proudly displays a bas-relief map of Idaho, with an inspiring promise that, “Here is the knowledge of centuries past that all may share today.”

The plaque has a special historical significance, as it overlooks what was once the staff smoking area, a relic of the past. However, times have changed, and the U of I is now a tobacco-free campus, making this spot an interesting reminder of how things have evolved.

So, next time you’re wandering around the U of I campus, take a moment to seek out this hidden gem. It’s a little piece of history waiting to be discovered, and it’s a beautiful symbol of the university’s commitment to sharing knowledge and embracing positive change.

The Library also sits on top of a decommissioned nuclear fallout shelter. Built in the 1960s as part of the Community Fallout Shelter program, the Library shelter could hold several hundred people and contained rations, safety supplies, and many government manuals for surviving a nuclear attack. It also included manuals for purifying water, growing crops, and otherwise rebuilding a sustainable community after an attack. As rations expired and other supplies needed replacement, the whole project was defunded at the federal level. Today, it houses reel-to-reel films, a glimpse into history’s tumultuous era.

I am absolutely thrilled to be the University Archivist, dedicated to preserving and sharing the incredible history of the University of Idaho and the remarkable Vandals who have shaped it into the fantastic place it is today. Among the many resilient landmarks on campus that keep the Vandal spirit alive, the library holds a special place in my heart. It’s hard not to admit that it’s my absolute favorite! Working here allows me to connect with the university’s rich heritage and share it with the world. Together, let’s celebrate the past and continue building an even brighter future.

At the University of Idaho Library, everyone is welcome to experience its magic. Stand atop the clocktower, gaze at the sprawling Moscow landscape, and immerse yourself in the very books that braved a devastating fire over a century ago. Libraries, after all, are not just about books. They are about empowering people, nurturing minds, and kindling the flame of curiosity. For me, they have been a lifeline, and it’s an honor to pay it forward, supporting others on their journey of knowledge. So, when I look up at our campus landmark, I see more than just a clock tower; I see a sanctuary of wisdom and dreams.

So, when I look up at our campus landmark, I see more than just a clock tower; I see a sanctuary of wisdom and dreams.

The Oh, Otis! Shenanigans


Chuck came dashing into the bedroom from the hallway. “What?!”

Otis lay on the floor staring under his bed. His face paled, and his fingers shook as he slowly extended his arm and pointed. “It… it’s…back,” he squeaked.

“Whaddaya mean? What’s back?”


Otis whispered the word, but his older brother heard it loud and clear.

Chuck immediately dropped to the floor and peered under Otis’s bed. Sure enough, an Ouija board was among the various “treasures” Otis had stashed under his bed. “Holy craaaap.”

He sat up and looked at his little brother. “What the Sam Hill is that doing here?!”

“I don’t know!” Otis wailed. He jumped up and closed the bedroom door, not wanting to risk his mom coming upstairs and hearing them. He crossed the room and plopped down on Chuck’s bed. “We burned it in the burn barrel last fall. You were there! How is it here?!”

Chuck stood and went to sit next to his brother. “You’re right; we were all there that day. There was nothing left of your Ouija board but ashes.”

Otis gulped. “Go look at it. It has burn marks on it.”

Chuck dropped to the floor and pulled the Ouija board from under Otis’s bed, causing Otis to scootch back against the wall. Sure enough, the board sported burn marks.

“A couple weeks ago, I swear I saw it on the seat of the Hot Rod parked in the shed. It scared me so bad I ran back into the house,” Otis admitted. “But then I went back out, and it wasn’t there. It happened two more times, Chuck! And now it’s under my bed!”

“Okay, okay,” Chuck assured. “First of all, quit shouting. Mom will be up here if you keep it up. If she finds out there’s a Ouija in her house, we may as well go dig our own graves.” He kicked the board back under Otis’s bed. “Wait here.”

He dashed out of the bedroom, and Otis could hear him thump down the stairs. When Chuck came back, he had Deanie and Cletis with him.

Otis was pacing the floor, muttering, “Ohmygawd, it’s back…”

Deanie closed the bedroom door and peered under Otis’s bed. He let out a low whistle. He pulled the Ouija out and stood. The brothers circled around the board, with Otis standing the furthest away from it.

Chuck said. “See? It’s back. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so creepy in my life.”

“What the heck am I looking at?!” Cletis whispered loudly. “Otis, this better not be a joke on us, or I’ll give you a purple nurple you’ll never forget.”

Otis looked his brother in the eye. “It’s not me! I was the one who made us burn the dumb thing last fall, remember? You put it in the burn barrel and even lit the match. We all saw it burn. There was nothing but ashes after. So how is it back?!”

“I never thought it would burn in the first place,” Chuck chimed in. “Legend says the board owner must perform a special ritual before Ouija will burn properly. We all saw it burn that day, but we didn’t do a ritual. Now look.”

19 - Reunited

“We gotta get rid of it,” Otis hissed.

Chuck put his arm around Otis. “Take a breath, Little O Bro. We’ll burn it again but perform the ritual this time.”

Otis heaved a massive sigh of relief. “I’m so scared of that thing. Put it under your bed, Chuck.”

Chuck slid the board under his bed. “We need to find out what to do. Deanie, do you know anyone who’s done the ritual thing?”

“I don’t know if I believe a Ouija board game can come back from ashes, but yes, I’ve seen the ritual performed a few times with my friends when they burned their boards,” Deanie admitted. “Look, Otis, if you’re trying to mess with us since Halloween is in two weeks, you better come clean right now.”

Otis looked hard at each brother. “Maybe you guys are the ones trying to pull a prank. And if you are, I’ll tell Mom.”

The other three brothers looked at each other. “Okay, okay, I believe you,” Deanie said. “It’s not you. It’s scaring the crap out of me, so let’s figure out how to get rid of it. Let me go call a friend and ask him.”

Deanie whisked out of the room while the other brothers took refuge on Otis’s bed. Not one of them said a word as they stared at the dark space under Chuck’s bed, knowing “it” was there but not knowing how in the world it came back from the ashes.

Cletis, Chuck, and Deanie joined Grandpa Ed in his shop the next afternoon after football practice. Mavis had taken Otis to the dentist. It was a beautiful, brisk October afternoon; the sun beamed through the shop window, and the wood stove crackled with heat.

“So, you got Otis on board with the plan?” Ed asked his grandsons.

“Oh, yeah, he bit like a hungry trout,” Cletis replied. “Once he knew Deanie, Chuck, and I would help with the ritual, he found his courage. You know, safety with the big brothers. He’s crazy scared of that board.”

Ed snickered. “So, you just started leaving the Ouija board out on the Hot Rod so Otis could see it?”

The three grandsons started giggling. “You shoulda seen him run back to the house when I left it on the Hot Rod the first time,” Cletis howled. “I’ve never seen him move so fast. He almost caught me grabbing it back the second and third times before I could hide.”

“You left it out for him to see and then snatched it back, so he thought he was hallucinating?” Ed asked.

“Yep,” Chuck snorted. “We snuck it in the house and left it under his bed yesterday. I waited in Deanie and Cletis’s room. Otis is always putting crap under his bed, so I knew it was just a matter of time before he saw the Ouija returned.”

“He was so scared he could barely get Chuck’s name out,” Deanie added.

The three boys erupted in hysterical laughter, and Ed chuckled. “I don’t even want to know why or how you three came up with this plan,” Ed said as he fiddled with the connection between an old car battery and two taillight bulbs covered with red cellophane. The contraption worked like a charm the year before, but it had come apart when Ed had hastily thrown it up into the storage rafters in his shop to hide it from Otis.

“Mom and Dad think the four of us are going into town tonight to see a movie,” Cletis said. “There’s a Scream-a-Thon at the Liberty with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. We’ve all seen those movies a-


-zillion times, so we’re covered if they ask us how they were. We’re performing the ritual behind the Mountain Home grange in their burn barrel. You can’t see the grange from our house or the burn barrel from the road, so we’re good there.”

Ed raised an eyebrow, impressed his grandsons had covered their bases. He knew one day they would harness all that impishness and use it for good. He checked the thick, plastic-coated wire to ensure one end connected snuggly to the “plus” battery terminal. Satisfied, he touched the other exposed end of the wire that tied everything together to the “minus” terminal. The two taillights wrapped in red cellophane illuminated his face in a devil-like crimson glow.

“It’s alive! It’s alive!” Cletis shouted in his best Dr. Frankenstein imitation.

Ed snickered. “Indeed. Our monster lives.” ###

Mavis was thrilled her four boys were attending the Liberty Theatre Scream-a-Thon. It was a rare occasion they all went out together. She gave each of them a five-dollar bill to buy all the soda, popcorn, and candy they could.

On the other hand, Marvel knew something was up but refrained from saying anything. Otis typically served as a good “governor” with his older brothers and Ed, so shenanigans were expected, but no serious trouble would probably transpire.

Deanie, Cletis, and Chuck were incredibly proud they’d invented this prank to play on Otis. They were certain he didn’t know the “devil monster” in the woods with the big red eyes would make a special appearance with Grandpa Ed’s help. Otis had seen the “devil monster” the previous year on his way home from Fertis’s Halloween party. It had taken him months to finally share with his brothers and Ed what he’d seen that night. They’d had a good chuckle over it and knew last year’s prank still had legs for this Halloween season, thus the Ouija board revival. Of course, it wasn’t the original board Otis had won the previous year; that one did, in fact, burn. The boys had pooled their allowance to purchase a new one and taken a blowtorch to it in the privacy of Ed’s shop to fool Otis that the old burned one had come back from the ashes.

What the three pranksters didn’t know was that Otis had been on to them the moment he saw the Ouija board under his bed. He’d confided in Grandpa Ed after family dinner the night before that he thought he was seeing things with the Ouija board showing up on the Hot Rod seat but knew something was up when he saw it under his bed. Ed had taken pity on his youngest grandson and explained that the magically reappearing board was all Otis’s brothers.

However, Ed had drawn the line at telling Otis about the “red-eyed monster” in the woods that would show up during the ritual. And none of Ed’s grandsons knew the “minor” detail that he’d placed fireworks left over from the 4th of July in the bottom of the burn barrel for special effects. They also didn’t know he’d purchased a dog whistle and had been training his and Otis’s nine-month-old Rottweiler, Zeus, to help make this Halloween prank extra memorable.

-Ford Falcon. Chuck sat in the back seat with the Ouija board and Zeus. Deanie parked behind the grange so that if anyone-drove by from either direction, they wouldn’t see the car.

The boys and Zeus piled out without a peep, leaving the doors open for an agreed-upon escape plan. They walked over to the burn barrel on a patch of gravel outside the circle of light from the lone bulb on the back of the old wooden building. Otis instructed Zeus to sit next to him.

Deanie, Cletis, and Chuck had rehearsed the “ritual” in Grandpa Ed’s shop the day before. They’d agreed the most challenging thing about pulling off the prank would be not cracking up laughing during the trick.

Chuck dramatically and ceremoniously placed the cursed Ouija board into the barrel. He turned and, in a low voice, said, “Tonight, we release our beloved youngest brother, Otis Barnabus Swan, from the wretched clenches of this Ouija.”

“Brother O,” Deanie stated, “tonight, you must order the curses from the dark back to the depths of the underworld to leave you forever more from this point forthwith.”

“Otis, tell the darkness to take its evil board back where it came from,” Cletis encouraged.

“D-d-darkness,” Otis squeaked.

“Shout it out so they know you mean it, Otis!” Deanie interrupted. Finding his voice, Otis shouted, “Darkness! I command you to take your stupid board back where it came from and leave me alone forever!”

Deanie pursed his lips to avoid laughing. “Otis, take the newspapers we brought and start wadding them up. Place them in the burn barrel, and once it’s full, we’ll torch it!”

Otis scurred to the pile of old newspapers Cletis had stacked next to the barrel and started scrunching pages into wads. Cletis and Chuck explained that as the board owner, Otis had to do everything himself; otherwise, the ritual wouldn’t work, and the board might come back to haunt him again.

Meanwhile, Grandpa Ed sat poised to light up the “monster eyes” as soon as he heard his cue from his vantage point in the woods about 150 yards from the back of the grange hall. He put his hand into his flannel jacket pocket and fiddled with the dog whistle. He watched as Otis wadded up newspaper and tossed it into the barrel. That kid is really playing it up that he’s terrified of that dumb board. Maybe there’s an acting career in his future.

“I think you’ve placed enough paper in the receptacle for the burning ritual,” Deanie loudly proclaimed. “Chuck, present the matches, please.”

Chuck produced a book of matches and handed them to Otis. Cletis took a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket and unfolded it. “Otis repeat after me: By the power invested in me by a higher power, I command the flames to destroy the Ouija board in this burn barrel.”

Otis repeated the words, or close enough, and Deanie said, “Light it up, Otis. We’ll watch it burn all the way to ashes. We’re ending the curse, once and for all.”

Otis tore a match from the book and struck it on the rough patch on the back cover. A flame sparked. He immediately tossed it into the burn barrel and lit and tossed a second one for good measure. He then scootched back several feet next to where Zeus still sat, tail sweeping the ground, tongue lazily hanging out of his mouth. Deanie, Cletis, and Chuck clustered around their brother. The flames started to grow and dance, sending little orange sparks into the night sky. The moment played out almost peacefully, just four-

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 78
Otis sat between Deanie and Cletis in the front seat of the ’65-

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-boys and a Rottweiler watching flames flicker.

The first pop was almost imperceptible to the boys. But there was no mistaking the rapid-fire pop, pop, pop. Then the Roman candles caught, launching colored balls of light into the air. The boys jumped, then scurried back several feet.

“What in the Sam Hill?!!” Deanie shouted.

“What’s happening?!” Otis yelled with a tremble in his voice. “Is this what’s supposed to happen?!”

“How the heck am I supposed to know,” Deanie snapped.

Chuck and Cletis stood close with shoulders touching, in an “if we go down, we go down together” front.

Behind the boys 150 yards back, Ed buried his face into his coat sleeve to muffle his big belly laughs. He watched as the boys continued to witness in shock the barrel belching and flinging flames, pops, crackles, and colored fireballs.

“Deanie, is this supposed to happen?” Otis asked his older brother.

“I’m at a loss, Otis,” Deanie replied, baffled. And somehow, looking at his brother, Otis knew this wasn’t part of the plan, which sent a little shiver down his spine. The board really was cursed.

Ed removed the whistle from his pocket and blew into it once. He heard nothing, and the boys heard nothing, but Zeus immediately stood up and barked twice. Ed immediately blew the whistle twice, and Zeus barked three times and growled.

“What the…?!” Deanie yelled. “Why’s Zeus upset?!”

Ed then lit the red lights and blew the dog whistle three times. Zeus tore off toward the lights, snarling and barking, before Otis could even spit out a command to stop and stay.

“OHMYGAWD! LOOK!” Otis pointed toward the red lights.

“It’s the red eyes! They’re back! It’s because of that stupid board!”

Cletis, Chuck, and Deanie spied the red lights. They acted shocked but, in whispers, agreed they were stumped about why the lights would bother Zeus or even if the lights were what upset him. Something was off.

The moon illuminated the woods just enough for the boys to see Zeus racing toward the lights. They all yelled for him to come back, but Ed blew the dog whistle once. The gangly black pup abruptly stopped and barked twice. Ed continued to blow the whistle in a series of “commands,” sending Zeus into fits of barking and growling, snorting and snarling, seemingly at the red lights…or something else. It all happened so fast, the boys just stood rooted to their spots by the barrel, which still belched fireworks.

Ed blew the whistle in five quick bursts.

Zeus yelped a shriek that could wake the dead and did an aboutface. He raced back to the Falcon at top speed and landed with a thud in the back seat but continued wildly barking.

“Come ON, you guys, let’s get the hell out of here,” Deanie shouted as he jumped into the driver’s seat.

“We can’t leave the burn barrel going!” Cletis yelled as he streaked toward the Falcon.

Otis hightailed it into the back seat and hugged Zeus. “Are we done? Let’s get out of here!”

As soon as the fireworks died down, so did the flames, which left a spooky orange glow emitting from the barrel. Chuck stood slack-jawed, staring at the red dots, seemingly frozen in terror. “For hell’s sake,” Deanie groaned. He bailed out of the Falcon and grabbed Chuck. “Get in the car!”

Chuck slowly muttered, “What was Zeus freaked out over, Deanie?!” The panic shook his voice and raised it an octave.

“I don’t know, but I’m not dumb enough to wait around to find out.” Deanie quickly ran back to the car and popped the trunk. He jetted to the back of the escape vehicle, tore open the lid, grabbed a jug of water, and raced to the burn barrel. He glanced at the red lights. They seemed closer. He knew Grandpa Ed was the one on to them, but Zeus’s reaction wasn’t because of them. Something was out there that wasn’t Grandpa Ed.

Zeus continued wildly barking and growling from the back seat of the car even though Otis was trying to calm him. Deanie hurriedly poured the water over the embers. The billowing steam and smoke indicated the end of the fire and the Ouija board. He looked again for the lights. They were gone. He ran full speed and jumped behind the wheel of the Falcon. “Lock the doors and hang on,” he instructed his brothers. “Otis, hang on to Zeus.”

He ripped the Falcon into reverse and gunned it. The wheels spun, spewing gravel every which way. It took a moment, but the tires grabbed, sending the wild bunch backward into the road. Deanie slammed on the brakes, causing them to slide, but he didn’t wait to stop before ripping it into drive and gunning it. Again, the tires struggled to gain traction, spewing rocks in every direction. The tires finally made purchase and launched the crew forward.

Deanie: “Why did Zeus freak out!?”

Otis: “What was out there?!”

Cletis: “Are there still devil worshipers in the woods out here?”

Otis: “I don’t think we should’ve burned that Ouija board!”

Chuck: “Mom’s going to kill us if she ever finds out!”

Two glowing red lights indicated they weren’t out of the woods yet. Deanie floored it and raced down the road toward home. He tore into the driveway and skidded to a halt in the shed, only avoiding the front bumper hitting the back wall by inches. He shut off the key, and the boys and Zeus sat breathless.

A good ten minutes passed when Deanie finally spoke. “Otis, you gotta know that the Ouija board thing and the red lights were us and Grandpa Ed. But what Zeus did in the woods? Barking and growling. No way was that us or Grandpa.”

“You guys are jerks,” Otis said.

“Yep, big ones,” Chuck admitted. “But seriously, we had nothing to do with Zeus.”

“You swear?” Otis said.

“Yes,” all three brothers replied.

“Then what was in the woods that upset Zeus so bad?” Otis asked with a tremor of fear.

WUUWUUUWUUUWUUU! Zeus erupted into another barking frenzy, ferociously snorting and snarling, jumping up and down in the back seat.


The Swan boys wildly yanked up the door locks, shoved their way out of the Falcon, and ran maximum speed toward the back porch, with Zeus running and barking after them. They pushed and shoved their way over the top of each other into the house, never hearing the big belly laughs coming from Ed standing in the darkness at the corner of the house with his whistle.

Home&Harvest | Sept/Oct 2023 81
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