An accounting of some ventures in the life of grandma and grandpa for the kids, grandkids, friends and those who drop by for a visit.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Man Who Makes His Community a Better Place in Which to Live

No doubt, the older readers will remember a monthly feature of the Readers' Digest magazine called "My Most Unforgettable Character." I have a few unforgettable characters. Let me inform you of a truly remarkable man. Pictured to the left is Perry Kelley. Perry and I have worked together the past several years making sets for the Weiser Little Dinner Theater. Perry is the lead man on these projects because he is smarter than me, has more woodworking experience, and has really great Big Boy toys in his shop. We have built a lot of furniture and sets and even have added onto the stage area. We probably have each logged several hundred hours into the theater.

Perry is such a joy to be around. He is truly one of the nicest people on this earth.

Perry and his wife, Sally, (who my wife use to teach with in an adjacent classroom) have been selected as Grand Marshals for the Weiser Old Time Fiddlers' Parade because of their numerous services to the community for so many years. Upon Perry's and Sally's retirement, they toured through much of the U. S. and the world as a regional governor of the Lions Club. Perry assisted Tom Dyer (now Director of the Idaho BLM Office) and me in starting a fly fishers club in Ontario. The club lasted for a few years and then dissolved. About seven years ago Perry and some other local fisherman started the Indian Head Flyfishers Club. It is a going concern in Weiser with fifty-nine members. About 35 attend monthly meetings.
Perry has had a dream of establishing a local pond for anybody to fish in, but especially for the children to have a place to fish in Weiser. Urban fisheries is becoming a great priority for the State of Idaho's Fish and Game Department. Perry also lives across the street from the newly elected mayor and Perry has done considerable lobbying in behalf of his pet project. It looks like the pond will become a reality. This will be a crowning achievemnt in this man's life which has now seen seventy years.
Perry is a consumate actor and has held the presidency of the Little Theater Group several times. People who have seen the Little Theater productions will attest to the quality of the productions. He and Sally are the glue that holds the Theater together. Perry was the vocal teacher at Weiser High School until ten yeas ago. The musicals that he produced with high school talent were remarkably entertaining and drew large crowds who eagerly awaited the yearly production. We don't seem to be making many more like Perry.
Oh and he is a really, really, good flyfisherman and fly tier. He will help anybody to be a better fly fisher. Presently he is teaching a three part class in the use of the rotary fly tying vice.
For awhile during our last session in the shop, I thought I might be seeing the end of this great man. While working on the table saw with a dado blade in place, he suffered a kick back. The corner of the board hit him hard in the stomach (almost on the navel). He turned white. I escorted him to the house (attached garage) and suggested to Sally that she get an ice pack. We had him lie down and put his feet up. In ten minutes he was back on his feet and working on the project. His shirt was torn and the skin was broken and he is black and blue, but he is going to tell the doctor to get off his case about losing weight because that extra 50 pounds around his waist may have saved his life :) As one might expect, Perry and Sally are model parents and grandparents.
The deer have been staying in Perry and Sally's backyard. There are hundreds of deer in Weiser now. This is a new phenomon for the townspeople. 26,000 acres of grassland and forests burned last June just to the north of Weiser. The deer have no feed in their traditional wintering area, so they are down visiting the town folk. They have done a real nice job of trimming the shrubbery and have found fescue and Kentucky Blue Grass an acceptable alternative winter food. We also have serval hundred elk on Jenkins Creek Road and Indianhead Road hanging around. Many town folks drive out to view the elk. Life in Weise is pretty simple, but, hey, nature can be pretty entertaining if one slows down to enjoy nature.

It Pays to be Educated; So Says My Dentist

If you have read the blog entitled "The Washing Machine Fiasco," you know that I am capable of some major mistakes. But, sometimes I win. It would take several wins to make up for the Fiasco, but at least I did win. Actually, I have won a couple of times these past few weeks. Let me relate the good news.
I had noticed a growth beginning under my tongue below the front teeth in that soft part of the mouth. I was somewhat alarmed, but in two days the growth was more like a small worm and sore. Because of its shape, soreness, and how fast the "little worm" was growing, I decided I had better seek some medical assistance instead of riding this one out as I am wont to do. Doctor or dentist? Hmmm. This took some pondering. Actually, I never considered the cost, but the doctor is going to charge me $20 co-pay and since I am below the $1000 deductible, I would have to pay for whatever else the doctor came up with for tests, etc. My doctor likes tests and referrals to the doctor with expertise in that area of concern. More $$$$'s. If, I go to the dentist and he does not know what to do, he will tell me to go to the doctor, I would be out some bucks and still hadn't seen the doctor. This was really getting complicated and the "little worm" was still growing and hurting more and more. Finally, the decision was made to see the dentist. Reason? Well, he hunts chukars with a certain degree of fanaticism, just like I use to when I was his age. The guy is my kind of guy.
So, I just drop in. I was informed that if I would just sit down for a few minutes the dentist would be right back, he was on a run to get his lunch. True to MaryAnne's words he was back in the office within ten minutes. He walks right up to me, in his BSU tee-shirt (gads, my faith and admiration in him was eroding), goes to an end table in the waiting room, picks up that day's Statesman newspaper and shows me a picture of a guy in an emergency room with his face all swollen getting some doctor's diagnosis. He says to me, "You are a much smarter man than this guy in this picture." Wow, my high regards for the dentist returns in spite of his chosen tee-shirt for the day. "You are evidence of a good education." Wow, I am thinking. "This guy chose to go to the emergency room and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the same treatment a dentist could do for a few hundred," says my dentist. "And I am thinking, yeah, right, like your services are not cheap, man."
So, on his lunch hour he puts me in the chair, calls over his assistant on her lunch hour and proceeds to look at my growth. "Oh, yeah," he says, "You have a blocked saliva gland. I can pierce this and let the saliva out and you will be okay." So he pierces. BIG HURT! and says to the assistant, "See that saliva pour out?" She affirms. He gives me about 15 or so Amoxycillan (sp) and says take these, come back Thursday (he only works four days a week). I go back the following Tuesday because every thing is good again. I park and he pulls up beside me in his truck (caught him making the lunch run again). He asks, "Do you need to see me?" "No, I just wanted to tell you that every thing worked out and I wanted to know what I owe you." Now are you ready? He says, "No charge. (I swear I am not making this up) Consider it as my gift to you." Wow, I fellow chukar hunter. We are all such good guys ;) Now, how many of you can say that your dentist did a free evaluation, treatment, and the medicine was on the house? Yep. See, every dog has a good day once in awhile. Long live the chukar hunters!!!!
The second part of the story is that I went in to buy four bags (80 pounds) of bird seed. I see that the price is now $7.49 a bag up from the $5.00 sale price of last week and up from the normal $5.95 price. I said, "Steve, your prices went up." He says well since you were in here trying to buy seed and I was out of the sale price seed, you can have this for $5.00. I had one bag of seed on the counter. I said, "But, Steve, I want to buy four bags. I just brought the one bag over for you to ring up four times. I didn't want to bring all the bags over here." He says, "Oh, that is alright. You can have four bags at five dollars." Hey, that is a ten dollars savings. I told him that when I go through these four bags, I will have fed 400 hundred pounds of seeds to the birds. He was pretty impressed. I think he is a bird lover because his seed price is half of what other stores sell the seed for. I told my wife of the good deal and she chides me and says that I need to pay the full price because Steve has to make money on what he sells. Now, I feel bad because I saved money. Oh, well, she did not get on my case for the free dental care because she once talked the dentist into doing sixteen thousand dollars of implants for four thousand dollars. Now, that is saving money!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

grand children

Be My Valentine?

Our two year old grand daughter gets to see her three male cousins about twice a year. The little guy does not pose much of a problem for the grand daughter, nor, do the two older boys. The two older grandsons have a lot of energy, but the little lady is quite able to make her will be known. She is quietly, very firm minded--even stubbornly so. I just love to watch the four play and interact. Their grandmas, all of their grandmas, spoil them rotten. (Of course, the grandpas stay above the fray and attempt to keep the spoilage to a minimum) Grandma J's favorite adage is "Children cannot be spoiled with love." Haha. Well, we get to spoil them and send them home for melt down. From what I hear going back to the "real world" can be somewhat brutal. Brutal to their parents, anyway. Being grandparents is a pretty good gig. Of, course our children never had any melt downs when they lived at home. Har, har, hardy, har, har!!

We belicve that all grand children have a natural unalienable right to be spoiled by grandparents. I'm sure Locke said so some where in one of his essays and no doubt was in Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence. It would be just like Ben Franklin to have that part dumped prior to the penning of the final draft.

Good news is that the little lady will be joined by an ally in October. As of this time, we don't know the sex of that ally, but I am sure she/he will be well trained in inter-family play strategies and tactics by big sister.


Spread the love, Papa Coyote

Sunday, February 10, 2008

So Who Says Which Foods Are Disgusting?

Michael Pollan has written two books about food in our culture. In his second book he contends that humans don't eat some foods because of the "disgust factor." As in, we don't eat feces because of a uviversal disgust among human people toward eating feces. Evidently that disgust factor has not been picked up on by man's best friend. I can agree with him in only a small way about the disgust factor. J was telling me of a recent conversation with a good friend of ours whose daughter, Katie, is currently visiting in China during the winter break at the C of I. The Mom was telling J about the foods that Katie has encountered that really disgusts her. She is thankful for the abundance of rice on the table. She thought she might be safe with hard boiled eggs. After all, "What can you do to a hardboiled egg." Yeah, right. She bit into one and found an eye in its center. She was disgusted!

Basically, I think Michael Pollan is wrong about the disgust factor. We develop our disgust of certain foods culturally. Ever walk down the side walks of China Town in Vancouver, B.C. or San Francisco, CA? I was seeing a lot of stuff that I would hope never to see in my bowl of soup or on my plate some day. In the picture at the beginning of this page you will find dried eel cooked with port intestine and chicken. I believe with such delicacy being served to me that I would be back to my weight when first married.
Papa Coyote's grandson, MP, has never tasted peanut butter, but I think it is possible that he might find one of the staples of my diet to be disgusting. We had an exchange student from Finland living with us one year who certainly thought peanut butter was disgusting. Well, she might be a bad example--she thought most food was disgusting.
I am thinking about this because this week I will be assigning a reading about the food the Native Americans ate. If the students this year are anything like the students of last year, they will be gaggingly disgusted. I try to impress them that if one was truly hungry that they would eat anything they could get their hands on. They assure me that I don't know them.
Sally Fallon and Mary Enig write the article as an attack on the so called Paleo diet that has become popular among modern dieters. Their premise is that what is being sold to us as a Paleo diet is not a Paleo diet. Paleo people ate a lot of really disgusting food and a lot of fat. In fact, as much fat as they could get their greasy hands on an render or dry for later use.
Reading the Lewis Clark Journals can be entertaining especially as they tried to find the little available food in Idaho. When one of the hunters shot a deer, two of the Indians disemboweled it, sat down, and with each taking an end of the small intestine began to suck and squeeze the contents into their mouth. The were very hungry as were L and C's men, but these two Indians were going after the most desirable part since they were there first. Why the contents of the small intestine? Well, the contents are digested (we humans don't digest grass and brush well) and it is chock full of vitamins. So, yeah, why not? Disgust? For our American culture, yes, but not for the Shoshone people of 1800.
L and C's men also found the Shoshones drying salmon roe in massive amounts. They then pounded the dried row into a powder and then stored the powder away in undergound caches. They learned from the Indians that the powdered roe would be used later in the winter. Some water would be mixed into the powder and the resulting soup would be a very nutritious meal. Yuck!
John Kirk Townsend was one of the first naturalists to travel though southern Idaho. He passed through about 1826. His journals are fascinating reading. The links to the journals is currently not working, hopefully this is a temporary problem. He observed Shoshone Indians along the Snake River in the Boise River Valley eating large amounts of salmon roe raw. They seemed to prefer this part of the fish when the fish was first caught. Yuck.
Our exchange student thought blood pancakes were pretty good. Her dad sold liters of blood in his store. This was a popular item among Finnish shoppers. My students can not believe anybody could even think of eating such food. They were gagging at the thought. And blood pudding. You can't be serious!!
Well, I am going to have fun this week grossing out my students who are mostly freshmen and sophomores. Freshmen and sophomores are really easy to gross out.
Yeeooooowww, Says the Papa Coyote
Here is hoping that you find no eyeballs in your next hardboiled egg.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Democratic Caucuses in Idaho

News from the most Republican State in the United States is that the closets in Idaho have become much larger. You know the favorite joke of the state's Republicans is that when the county Democrats have a meeting they just have to find a closet somewhere. Or, when the Idaho Democrats are driving to a State Convention, they just rent a Volkswagon.

Well, Barak Obama has shaken the Republican foundation around here. He visited Boise last Saturday, and drew 14,100 to the Taco Bell Arena on the BSU campus. Media reports say there were a thousand outside that could not get in. I talked to one of my students at the high school who was in line at 6:15 A.M. (speech started at 8:30) The line wound all the way out to Broadway Avenue. She said that to her it looked like a whole lot more than 1,000 standing outside when the fire marshalls closed the doors. Now, this girl had to drive from Fruitland on bad roads to be there by 6:15. I have to tell you the poor girl still looked awfully tired when I talked to her Tuesday morning. She was aglow when I asked her what she thought of seeing Barak Obama. I think she had a going-to-the-mountain experience. Another junior boy and his mother had gone to the speech. They were afire having witnessed the charisma Obama exuded. The mother has never been politically involved (always votes), but now vows to work to help Obama win in Idaho should he be the party's nominee. Winning in Idaho is a big chore for any Democrat. Lyndon Johnson was the last to win our Electoral Votes in 1964.

After being introduced by Cecil Andrus, Obama looked all aroud the lareg arena and quipped, "And they told me Idaho does not have any Democrats." Of course he got huge ovation. I thought he should have said, "You Idahoans surely have the largest closet I have ever seen."

Ada County Democrats, who had a record attendance of 2,000 at the caucus, felt the growing grass roots movement for Obama and rented Qwest Arena that could hold 6,500. On a brutal blizzardly night, 8,800 showed up. 2,300 people never got inside. They were handed the registration forms on which they could write their choice and then had to go home. This was the largest caucus ever held in the United States. Pretty amazing for the most Republican State in the Union. Seventeen of the eighteen committed delegates will be committed to Obama, Hmmmm, did Obama light a fire in Idaho with his Saturday morning visit?


In our small county of Washingon 165 people showed up to caucus. George Bush has really vitalized the Democratic Party in Idaho. Eight years ago we had a number in the upper twenties for our caucus. Four years ago we had seventy-two. We were overwhelmed. We even had to open the doors of the library meeting room and spill out into the main library. This year we had our hopes up and made arrangements for the main library. Good thing! We about filled the room.

I was honored to chair the Obama caucus for the purpose of selecting our one delegate and alternate to the State Convention. Yeah, we are a small county. My wife caucused for Hillary Clinton. I like Hillary Clinton, but I don't think she can beat McCain and I do think that Obama can beat McCain.

I have been asked to chair a police officer's (H.B.) campaign for county sheriff. He will be attempting to oust the sitting sheriff who is a Republican. H.B. is a Christian Conservative Republican. I told him that I would certainly support him, (he is a friend and he is a very good SRO at the high school I teach at) but that I could not in good conscience run his campaign as a Democrat. He thought it over. We talked about the values of the Democratic Party and guess what--he decided to run as a Democrat. He is taking some heat from his heavily Republican neighbors in Midvale, but he is well liked in the Upper Country. If Obama heads the ticket this year, I think candidates like H.B. running on the same ticket will enjoy some coattails effects. The young voters who come out to support Obama are not likely to vote for Republican candidates, even on the local level. At least that is my theory for now.

The odd thing about H.B. running Democrat, being that he has always identified himself as Republican, is that we have all sorts of local office holders at the county level and even one in the State legislature who are Democrats, but have ran on the Republican ticket because of the impossibility of winning while running as a Democrat. If H.B. should win and upset the sitting Republican sheriff, it truly would be an earth shaking event at our local level.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feeding birds provides alternative entertainment

I have found that feeding the birds has provided great entertainment. While I am not much of a fan of "reality TV", the reality entertainment that nature provides can be very entertaining and unlike "reality TV", the stakes are high. Some of the participants in my backyard drama really die. Not that death was what I had planned for when I embarked on this feeding the birds project, I have been trying to prevent death.
Sometimes as many as 70-75 (really hard to get an accurate count since they don't sit still for more than a few seconds) doves will be at our feeders. They feed on the ground picking up what the house finches, Oregon juncos, wrens, and sparrows knock to the ground during their frantic gobbling of seeds. The doves and the little perching birds have developed a symbiotic relationship. (My old biology teacher would be proud of me!) I have taken to adding a couple of cups a day under the feeders just for the doves because we have had such nasty weather the past few weeks. We also have a flicker that comes to the feeder. He is a kick to watch because he is waaaay too big for the feeder. He grabs the edge of the tray with his feet and has his tail go way under the bottom where it rests giving him the leverage so that he can just reach over the edge with his bill and gobble down seed. It is quite a struggle for him. Kind of reminds me of putting on and tying my hunting boots. He spends the rest of his time, which is quite a bit, drilling holes into our attic. It is really tempting to get out the shotgun and protect our house from this villain.
Speaking of shotguns, we have a thousand or so (this is really not an exaggeration) Brewer's Blackbirds congregate in the fields every so many days. They particularly like to bathe in the waste water from our heating system that empties into the ditch beside the field in back of our house. I never knew that blackbirds were such clean freaks. I don't know what they feed on. They spend a lot of time working the surface of the fields. They do not come to the feeders. I thought that they might be a problem if they were attracted to the feeders, but so far they have shown no interest. I have not blasted away at them, but the thought enters into the dark reaches of the evil side of my mind once in awhile. If they stay around through the summer, the local farmer will have a heckuva time trying to get acrop of field corn to mature. Then I might not feel the urge to shoot blackbirds needs to come from the evil side of my mind. I will be doing valuable work!!
So far I have bought 300 pounds of bird seed and it looks as though I will probably buy another one hundred pounds before the winter is over. I can get 20 pound bags from Clausen's Ace Hardware in Weiser for $5.95. Actually, bought three bags on sale for five dollars last week. Well, if I buy 400 pounds, I am going to have about $125 into this project. The good news is that every place I have looked charges twice what Steve is charging for bird seed including Zamzow's in Boise. Thank you, Steve. It does sometimes pay to buy locally in Weiser.
I have been filling the feeders every day and the feeders are always empty everytime I refill.
We have had some deadly reality at the feeders this year. The local hawks have found that the collection of doves at the feeders make for an attractive meat market. I know of only one dove who has met her demise while dining. A small kestrel took her out for lunch. I am sure the dove would have turned down the invitation if she had known she was to be on the menu.
A sparrow or some other small bird also provided lunch for a local hawk. J was watching the birds feed last week when she was shocked to see a bald eagle do a fly by at about 15 feet. That fly by was right over our front yard. J said the doves really went into freeze mode. No attack was made, but the talons were open and ready for action. Now, that is pretty exciting "Reality Show" drama.
The question that I have is, "Why in the heck are doves not down in southern Arizona and California?" In the past doves have always lit out of our area at the first frost. These use to be real smart birds. These descendants of those birds have either gotten real lazy or real stupid. I wonder if I were to quit feeding them, if they would indeed fly on down to visit Nephew Don.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Washing Machine Fiasco

Pond is really frozen over.

Before daughter and family arrived at Christmas time I decide to fix the washing machine. The problem being that the cold water barely trickles in making cold water washes impossible and warm water washes, well it takes a long time even if it ever happened. So, friend of mine who owns a hardware store and at one time repaired Maytag washers said that the problem would be in the small washer screen at the point where the hose attaches to the machine. Well, that seemed like something I might be able to do. We had called a plumber out two year ago to fix the problem, but he could not find anything wrong. Evidently the wife had taken action at the time, too. Well, somebody had screwed the hose back on and had cross-threaded the (plastic connecter) threads. We had a slow leak that was causing the floor to rot out.

I took the hose off and found that the screen washer had completelyrusted out, so obviously that was not the problem. I attempted to re-attach the hose and that is when I discover the cross threading had ruined the threads and the hose could not be attached and that was the cause of the leak and the mess.

Since the receptors for the hoses is part of the solenoid that switches on the cold and hot water, I had to find the part. Not easy to do for a 32-year old washing machine. I called Maytag and they were no help and not really interested in my problem. On line I found a part. Part was shipped for $57 and received the day after daughter leaves for home. That is another story because she has diapers--as in lots of diapers--so I spent a couple hours at the laundromat washing diapers and about ten other loads of clothes.

I installed the new part and hooked it up. It came with no wiring scheme, so I had to guess. Guessed wrong. Tried wiring it the only other way possible. Did not work. Bummer! So, wife and I go shopping for a new washer. Wouldn't you know the CR magazine that wife had just subscribed to arrived a few days prior and the feature article is about washers and driers. Yahoo. Small victory in a deluge of defeats! Price at local store is pretty high so in a snow storm we take the Oregon Side route to Ontario. We hit a complete white out, can't see the road no way no how (wife really hates those conditions) and we venture clear off the road into a field. Wife gets a bit panicky and yells a suggestion that I have driven off the right side of the road. Well, I knew better than to act on her suggestion of turning left to get back on the road because we had gone off on the left side of the road. We were in pretty deep snow, but I had the pickup in 4WD so just cranked it to the right and back up onto the road. Whew! Not another rig in sight.

Shop at a couple stores and they tell us that the price they are charging is the sale price. Haha. We know better because we have read CR. Go to Sears who has the $995 price like everybody else but upon asking, the salesman tells us that there will be a sale on MLK Day. We wait till MLK Day and dirty clothes keep piling up. I go to laundromat again. Wife says she has plenty of clothes to wait. I won't tell how many panties she has, but, well, WOW! she has a lot of panties. So, on MLK Day we make the purchase and save a $150. If we pick up the washer, we save the sales tax which is 6%. Yaya, I know, the Idaho law says that we are to pay the sales tax on all purchases made outside the state when we file our income tax, but I have only ever heard of one Idahoan that does that. I am betting that the Guv does not even do that.

Wife started tearing the old washer apart so that it would be easier to haul away. She worries about me having a heart attack. She should considering how well she feeds me. I finish taking it apart upon my return from work. Take the parts to the recycling center and get a penny a pound for the scrap metal. Pocket 250 cents. Go to Sears and get washer. Oh, yeah. It took another 8 days to come in after we bought it. Wife panty suppy was still holding out.

Wife and I struggle to ge the washer unloaded. Not too bad of a chore since I backed the pickup to the stairs of the deck. Good thing I have 4WD! Only took out one planter.

Washer is all set up, wife checks for leaks, we balance it and (now this is what this story is all about), wife plugs in the washer and prepares to run the first load of water and soap. (We followed the directions and were running only water and soap so as to wash out the tub). Yeah, we followed the directions. Okay, ready? The $!%$^^#^%$#$# washer does not start. Wife looks at me and says, "Did you throw the breaker when you were working on this?" My answer, "No." Hmmm, we have a problem. Go down stairs and check the breaker. Yep. It had tripped. Reset the breaker and washing machine starts. Do I have to make further explanation? or do you get the picture??