Monthly Archives: December 2007

Storystorm…It Looks Like This!

storystormI think a picture of the “storystorm” in my head would look just like this. This colorful photo is printed here with the permission of artist Mike Patnode. After the holidays, I will start telling you Mike’s incredible story and that of his dedicated family. After Mike’s graduation from college, he never had a chance to market his artwork because he and his wife have a 24-hour-a-day job caring for their son A.J., who was born severely disabled. You will be amazed at what this family has accomplished and the care they unselfishly provide, as well as the ingenious contraptions Mike’s father has invented to allow his young grandson to be all that he can be.Through all of this, Mike still sees the beauty in life…maybe more than ever…and he captures it in his unique and artistic photography.

My blog Storystorm allows me to grab onto the colorful thoughts swirling around in my brain and to place them on my hard drive before they can get away. Who hasn’t waited a second too long and lost a fantastic idea? Like spotting a beautiful leaf falling in an autumn storm, thoughts can blow away as quickly as you recognize their beauty. That’s a good reason to carry a notepad and pen as your constant companions, and a good reason to blog.

Thanks, Mike, for sharing your artwork with me. Readers, be sure to come back in a few weeks and select the category “Art” to hear more about this family and to see more of Mike’s photography.

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Filed under art, blogging, disabilities, photography, writing

Moose Lodge is a gift to community

Jack Lester and Moose members

By Pat Nelson / South County NewsWednesday, December 5, 2007
Reprinted by permission, The Daily News/South County News, Longview, WA
There was snow in the hills around Woodland and more predicted when the Woodland Moose Lodge kicked off its tree-selling season on Friday, Nov. 30.Feeling the chill in the air and seeing the tall, straight Noble fir trees standing in the lot at 1512 N. Goerig, I began to feel the Christmas spirit.Next door, a sign on Don’s Donut Depot advertised homemade ice cream, but I suspect tree shoppers will buy more hot drinks than ice cream from the Donut Depot and the nearby espresso stand.As I drove up to the tree lot, three Moose lodge members were busy building a stand to hold a sign and inflatable decorations. A gazebo provided shelter from the predicted snow and rain, and a warm fire blazed in a washing-machine tub turned outdoor fireplace.I asked volunteer Jim Nelson how long the Moose Lodge has been operating a Christmas tree lot. “This is our fourth year,” he replied. Volunteer, Jack Lester, said that the 6- to 7-foot noble fir trees sell for $40 and the 10- to 12-foot trees sell for $60, but there also will be tabletop trees.Noble fir trees are deep green, with nice branch shape and good spacing between branches, making for easy decorating. Though their four-sided, 1-inch needles are bluish-green, the trees often have a silver appearance.In the forest, they can grow to more than 200 feet tall, but the ones we see on Christmas tree lots were raised on Christmas tree farms. It is estimated that 25 percent to 30 percent of the fresh-cut Christmas trees sold in the Pacific Northwest are noble fir. Nobles also are used in making wreaths, swags and holiday centerpieces.Noble fir trees are popular as Christmas trees for both their beauty and their ability to last throughout the holiday season. Ray Alderman, another volunteer for the Moose Lodge, told me the trees can last until New Year’s, but if there is a woodstove in the house, they will dry out faster. “Keeping them watered with warm water will melt the sap and allow the tree to take water,” said Alderman. “When you cut the tree, the sap seals the cut. We usually give the tree a fresh cut to square it up after it gets to the lot because sometimes the cuts aren’t straight.”“How many trees to you expect to sell?” I asked.“We sold 374 last year, and over 400 the year before,” Alderman said. “We usually bring in 80 trees a week.”The Lodge expects slow sales the first week. “So far,” Lester said Friday, “we’ve already sold three trees. We start this weekend, but will sell more towards the middle of the month, and then it will slow down.”Moose Lodge members are busy this weekend with other projects as well. While three members opened the tree lot, some prepared for a memorial service and others got ready for Woodland’s Winter Fest where they provide a nativity scene, hayrides, candy, lighting of a Christmas tree in the park and a visit from Santa.Some of the other Moose Lodge projects during the year include Mobile Meals, the Kids’ Fishing Derby, and the Easter egg hunt. Fundraisers also help the fire and police departments and the Community Center. Considering all the good deeds the Moose Lodge does, I’d say they are a Christmas gift to the community.Sidebar:Christmas Tree TipsLocate your tree stand before going to the tree lot and decide where you will place the tree.If you need a new stand, don’t wait too long. Stores often sell out.Measure the space you have for the tree, as well as the opening the trunk will go through in the stand.Take a tape measure to be sure the tree will fit in your space.Take gloves and plastic or cardboard to keep the tree sap off your hands and your vehicle.Find out when the tree was cut: the fresher, the better. If it is losing needles, it is probably not fresh.When you get home with the tree, remember to water frequently. It will be especially thirsty during the first week. 

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Filed under Christmas, South County News, Woodland

Ant farm

Ant arsenalAnt farm not so much fun after all

Reprinted with permisstion: The Daily News/South County News, Longview, WA
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 8:34 AM PST

By Pat Nelson / for South County News

I used to think it would be fun to have an ant farm, but now I’m more careful about what I wish for. After our recent heavy rains, the ants have decided to occupy my home, and this isn’t the first time.

A few years ago, I called the exterminator when I noticed ants. When the little creatures returned last year, I decided to tackle the problem myself.

My first step was to do some research on the Internet. I decided to try one of the solutions I found, which was to combine peanut butter with syrup or honey and some boric acid. If I used too much boric acid, the site said, the ants would die before taking the food back to the queen. If I used too little, it would not be effective.

I went to the pharmacy and bought a jar of boric acid. After adding a scoop to some peanut butter and syrup, I stirred the mixture until it was smooth and creamy. Then, per instructions, I spread it on a wide strip of masking tape.

The tape, although it isn’t one of the secret ingredients, does help to keep the concoction off the floors.

I placed the tape in locations where I had seen ants. Against a wall in the kitchen, they marched out from under the baseboards and headed for the tape where they formed a line the length of the peanut butter mixture. There, they worked as a team, devouring the mixture until the tape was clean. I replaced it, and they cleaned it again. A few weak warriors died, but most kept working tenaciously.

I noticed that the ants on my kitchen counter completely ignored the peanut butter mixture. When I made cornbread, though, they devoured the crumbs. I called those my cornbread ants and the others my peanut butter ants.

Obviously, there were at least two different types entering my home, and each preferred a different meal.

The ants kept coming, but the good news was that when I knew what to feed them to attract them to a specific spot, I could keep them from surprising me in other places. They were more orderly, just going to the tape.

Having an ant farm was somewhat interesting for a while, but eventually I tired of having to explain the gooey strips of tape affixed to my floors. One night when my granddaughter stayed with us, friends Scot and Sue visited from Portland. Sue asked about the tape, and suggested an idea she remembered hearing on the radio. She said, “when you draw a circle around ants with chalk, they supposedly won’t cross the line.”

Our granddaughter ran for the bedroom and returned with a stick of chalk. She drew a thin horseshoe-shaped chalk line around the ants, from one spot on the baseboard to another. We watched and waited. Eventually, one ant crossed the line. Our granddaughter drew a thicker line. Another ant tried to cross, but after reaching the middle, he turned back. Then ants started crawling up the baseboard and onto the wall to avoid the chalk. I didn’t want to cover the inside of my house with white graffiti, so I knew chalk was not the answer.

Finally, I used a chemical spray, which I had hoped to avoid. The ants disappeared. The next day, my neighbor knocked on the door. “Do you have any more of that peanut butter stuff? I don’t know what happened, but we’re infested with ants.”

“Sure,” I said. “We’re done with it.”

This year when the rains started, the ants returned. My husband again checked the Internet, and found a site that said bait packs are effective, but that it sometimes takes 10 months of baiting the ants to eliminate the nest. I’m using two different types of bait traps because my peanut butter ants like one kind of bait and my cornbread ants prefer another kind.

I’m not going to give up so easily this time. For the next 10 months, friends will have to watch their step in my house to avoid the bait traps. With luck, we’ll be ant-free next winter.

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Filed under ants, South County News