Monthly Archives: September 2008

Art takes many forms at Horseshoe Lake

For The Daily News, Longview, WA.  September 19, 2008
Reprinted with permission         


Art took many forms when the Woodland Community Library sponsored Art in Horseshoe Park on Sept. 6. Eighteen pop-up canopies formed a horseshoe on the lakeshore. The types of art displayed were as different as the dachshund and the St. Bernard two visitors walked through the show.

The first artist I visited with was local artist and art instructor Debbie Neely. I’ve never felt like an artist myself…I couldn’t even stay in the lines of a coloring book… but several years ago, Neely did her best to draw out the talent in me when she taught Beginning Drawing for Woodland Community Education.  She introduced me to scratch art, where you use a sharp metal tool to scratch your drawing into an ink or clay-covered board. Surprisingly, she was able to teach me to use the right side of my brain, and I produced several recognizable pictures in the class. Now, I enjoy doing scratch art with my grandchildren.

          Cheryl Hazen displayed mosaics, and The Northwest Oil Painters Association exhibited paintings. In addition, there were artists displaying clothing, blankets, jewelry, hats, paintings on porcelain, sketches, and more. At every booth, I enjoyed something different.  

Art took another form, too, as students from Premier Martial Arts of Woodland performed. Sondra Smith, porcelain artist and teacher, summed up her craft on the back of a plate, “I’m not moody, disorganized, or self-absorbed. I’m an artist.”

For artist Dennis Hatch, a Native American flute maker who lives in Washougal, his art of flute-making has become a full-time occupation. Hatch  is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Chippewa Indian Tribe (Anishinabe). He makes Woodland flutes, so it seems fitting he came to Woodland to show his work. Flutes on his website range from $250 to $1000.

          A beaded necklace by Valeri Darling of Darling Designs was a real show- stopper. Her first piece of beaded jewelry, a slot machine necklace, took two years to complete. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” Darling said.

The piece showed three 7’s in 3-D, lined up across the “win” line of a slot machine. To make it more realistic, the slot machine even had a handle. The sides of the beaded strap read “Win Win” and “Hit the Jackpot,” and across the top it said, “Big Time Winner.” Coins strung on beads poured from the bottom of the machine. “This was all done with needle and thread,” said Darling. “You cant get one bead out of place.”

Not all of her necklaces take two years to create, but all are one of a kind. “Most take 12 to 14 hours,” said Darling. Visit to see the slot machine and other designs.

          Attendees munched on homemade chocolate chip cookies and banana bread from one vendor’s booth or ate tacos, burritos, and tortas from Roman’s Taco wagon, and then they cooled down with goodies from a bright yellow ice cream truck, which periodically played its magical tune.

          Out on the lake, where trout had just been planted, fishermen showed off their art of fishing, but the trout were biting so fast that art or skill didn’t seem to be required.

On the other side of the boat launch, 17 Ugandan children took a break from performing their art of song and dance by wading and splashing in the lake. Most of the children, ages 6 to 14, are orphans, many whose parents died of Aids. They are on tour singing and dancing to raise money through donations and the sale of their CD to help support the IAM Children’s Family orphanage in Uganda. They’ll be back in Woodland performing at the Woodland Christian Church at 6 PM, Sept. 27.

Iris Swindell, organizer of the Woodland Community Library’s first annual art show, organized Art in Horseshoe Park as a fundraiser and to draw attention to the need for a new library in Woodland.




Leave a comment

Filed under Art in Horseshoe Park, Cheryl Hazen, Debbie Neely, Dennis Hatch, fishing, Horseshoe Lake, IAM Childrens Family, mosaic art, Native American, Native American flutes, Northwest Oil Painters Association, Premier Martial Arts-Woodland, scratch art, The Daily News, Uganda orphanage, Woodland Community Library, Woodland flutes

Volunteers have something to give. Students thrive with extra help.

By Pat Nelson
For The Daily News, Longview, WA, reprinted with permission 2008


A thin girl with straight brown hair and dull brown eyes sat down beside me in a classroom twenty-some years ago, put her head on her desk on her folded arms, and shut her eyes. I was there as a volunteer, helping elementary students to improve their reading skills. This little girl’s eyes weren’t dull every day, but she often arrived at school sleepy, and sometimes she hadn’t eaten breakfast. On those days, she started school with two strikes against her.

Another child I worked with was alert and attentive, but lagged behind some of the other students in his reading skills, which undermined his confidence. He needed a little extra attention.

Every elementary classroom has students like these who can benefit from one-on-one help. Teachers can’t always provide individual help, so they must count on volunteers.

I’ve volunteered in my granddaughter’s classroom for the past two years. She attends  a small country school, with only 18 students in her class. Because I’m a writer, I chose to help with writing. This September, I will start my third year with the same group of kids. When I first decided to volunteer, I cleared it with the teacher and then filled out a form at the school office to have my background checked.

Two years ago, as I sat at a low table in a little chair, students brought their folders to me one by one. I checked to see that they had completed their homework, and helped them if they had not. I listened to them read, and worked with those who needed extra help. Because I worked with the same students each week, I came to understand their individual learning styles or difficulties, and as time went on, I became better at directing my help towards the students who needed it the most.

Other times, the teacher allowed me to present a writing lesson. One day, the students all sat on a carpet in front of me, cross-legged, as I talked to them about what goes into making a book. I had written a book many years earlier, so I showed them the manuscript, the editor’s copy, the page proofs, the galley proofs, the cover design, and the finished product. I explained to them that each of the books in their classroom had gone through the same stages. They were especially interested in learning that even authors make mistakes, and enjoyed seeing the red proofreading marks on the edited manuscript.

Parents, grandparents, and other interested adults can help students boost their skills, interests, and confidence by volunteering in a classroom on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to take long. Last year, I helped with writing just thirty minutes a week. The children knew me and I knew the class routine, so I slipped into the classroom quietly just before the writing segment, and observed to see who needed help or a little extra encouragement.  As students got to know me, they started voluntarily coming to me for help, and they were proud to demonstrate their accomplishments. They liked showing me that they had hung my newspaper columns in their classroom, and they talked to me about my articles.

Last year, I presented an exercise on observation. I brought a basket full of items from home, and each child drew one item and filled out a description of the item based on using their senses. Those descriptive words then became part of a short story.

Students from the classroom  won first, second, and honorable mention in a county-wide writing contest, and I was excited to celebrate their achievements with them.

If you would like to share your own time, skills, and experience with a classroom at an area school, plan to sign up soon. Woodland’s school offices open August 18, and other school offices are about to open as well. By calling now, you can get the background check started, and you and the teacher can discuss your schedule. You’ll be giving a lot more than time. You will be helping youngsters thrive. If you would like to make a difference, this is a great way to do it.


School Volunteers Checklist

1.       List your areas of interest and expertise.

2.       Note the days of the week and hours that you can be available on a regular basis.

3.       Contact a school of your choice to sign up as a volunteer.

4.       Arrive at class a few minutes early and enter the room quietly, disrupting the classroom as little as possible.

5.       Sign up again next year. You’re always needed.



Leave a comment

Filed under elementary students, grandchildren, school volunteer, The Daily News, Woodland, writing, writing contest, writing lesson, writing mentor, young adult writing

Woodlanders among 430 riding to cure MS

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA August 1, 2008

Photo courtesy of Bill Dunlap
Pictured, left to right: Bill Dunlap, Bob Nelson, Claudia Yoder, Jeremy Wenzel, Scott Price, and Kristy Fitzjarrald-Deuchars


Woodlanders Bill and Barbara Dunlap and my husband Bob Nelson, along with Vancouver resident Claudia Yoder, manager of Big Deals in Woodland, were among 430 bike riders raising funds to fight multiple sclerosis July 19 and 20 in Sweet Home, Oregon.

Epic Imaging, the largest outpatient imaging facility in the Portland metro area, was lead sponsor for Bike MS 2008: Covering Bridges. Rides included a 10-mile family ride, or choices of 59, 76- or 100-mile rides on Saturday and 55 or 19 miles on Sunday.

Last February, when the days were dreary and Bob’s exercise had dwindled to changing the channel on the TV, Bill Dunlap called and asked if he would like to be a member of Epic’s team in a bike ride to be held in July. The idea of some fresh air and exercise sounded good to Bob, who had participated in a Livestrong ride in 2007. He recruited Yoder, who had previously participated in a Livestrong ride and Cycle Oregon.

The three started training in Woodland, and occasionally in Vancouver, while their other teammates trained in Oregon. Throughout his training, Bob kept changing bike seats, hoping to find one that felt as good as the couch he had left. In the end none could provide that same comfort, and he went back to the one he started with.

Early in their training, the Dunlaps reserved some of the few available motel rooms for the team. There was also camping at the high school, with showers and rest rooms available for use. Event wristbands got riders in to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, dinner on Saturday, and a barbecue on Sunday.

The four team members arrived at Sweet Home on Friday, July 18, and met up with the rest of their teammates.  Bill had decided to ride 76 miles. My husband and Claudia Yoder chose the 59-mile ride. For Bob, that was about fifteen miles more than his longest ride in training. Barbara Dunlap chose the 10-mile family ride, but exceeded her own expectations and rode 20 miles.

Bob had worried about the weather, hoping the day wouldn’t be too hot. He was happy to start the ride on a comfortable, overcast morning. The ride started at Sankey Park near the historic Weddle Covered Bridge, and other covered bridges along the route provided pleasant scenery and relaxing rest stops. He was surprised by Sweet Home’s rolling, and sometimes steep, hills, which started appearing early in the ride.

Six and a half hours and one flat tire later, his legs spent but his spirits soaring, Bob completed the ride and gathered with his teammates. The original bike seat must have been a good choice, because he said his bottom didn’t feel too bad after riding sixty miles. Some of his teammates couldn’t say the same. I convinced him that he should take precautionary measures so that he could sit on the bike seat again the next day, so he treated each of his teammates to a bag of frozen peas to sit on to ease the pain.

The next morning, he chose the 19-mile ride, and ended the weekend proud to have been part of Epic Imaging’s journey to help defeat MS.


Visit Pat Nelson’s website at









Leave a comment

Filed under Bike MS 2008:Covering Bridges, bike ride, Cycle Oregon, Epic Imaging, Livestrong, MS, multiple sclerosis, Sweet Home OR, The Daily News, Woodland

Losing fanny pack bad way to shed weight

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA August 29, 2008

When my husband,  Bob , and I recently spent four days exhibiting wholesale sleds at the Seattle Gift Show, I strapped my fanny pack around my waist to avoid losing it.

For four days, that fanny pack bounced up and down on my hip as a reminder of how smart I was not to be carrying a purse. Then, as we packed up and moved out, I removed the fanny pack to get my cell phone. We were in a hurry. After all, hundreds of vendors were all trying to move out at the same time, and there would be a long line at the freight elevator.

As my husband pulled a flatbed cart stacked 5 feet high with merchandise and a handcart stacked to the top with plastic totes, I followed with my own tower on wheels: first, a rolling tote filled with flyers and orders, topped by a printer in a carry-on bag. Next was my laptop, followed by a plastic grocery bag full of snacks, and finally, my fanny pack, with the strap securely (I thought) over the strap of the rolling tote.

Three-quarters of the way through the exhibit hall, I checked. My load was secure and my fanny pack was still there; I held both the tote handle and the strap of the fanny pack in my hand. When we reached our truck a few minutes later, the fanny pack was missing. We re-traced our steps, but couldn’t locate it, setting in motion the steps of damage control.

As we drove home, I made a mental list of what I’d lost and what I would have to do to prevent identity theft. That evening, I called credit card companies and cancelled cards. That meant that any charges I had made that had not yet processed would be rejected.

The next morning, I took my passport for ID and got a replacement driver’s license. I went to the bank and cancelled my ATM/debit/Visa card and asked what I should do about the checkbooks that were in my fanny pack— checkbooks for three different accounts. I knew that if I had to close the accounts, I would have to re-order checks, and I had a large supply of business checks that I didn’t want to waste. I would have to list all of the outstanding checks for the bank so that they would be honored when presented to the bank. All of the places where I make automatic monthly payments would have to be notified. I would have to get by with temporary checks for about 10 days.

I hoped the bank would allow me to keep the accounts open, but they did not. As I signed forms, I realized I would also have to notify the merchant services company that processes charge cards for my business. And what about the automatic payroll for my employees? Or monthly and quarterly tax payments that I make online? I realized I had caused myself a lot of work by carrying checks I did not need:  I needed only one of those three checkbooks. I should have left the others home. For the one I did need, I should have carried only the number of checks I anticipated needing, and I should have noted those check numbers at home so that I could stop payment on them.

Luckily, I had removed my cell phone before I lost my purse, so I didn’t have to cancel that to avoid fraudulent charges; my house and car keys were not in my fanny pack, so I didn’t have to change my locks; and I wasn’t carrying any rental cards, such as for movies, that someone else might use. My Social Security card was in a safe place, not in my fanny pack.

Years ago, when I worked for a credit union, my boss told me that one day we would live in a cashless society. I didn’t believe her. When I lost my fanny pack, I realized how close we have come to that society.  I felt paralyzed without the credit cards that I use to pay for groceries, gas, and other purchases. I couldn’t go to the ATM or write a check for cash. I had to remember to get cash during banking hours. I could no longer place orders online.

Three days after the loss, I received a call from a vendor who had found my fanny pack when leaving the show and who was sending it to me. The bank had not yet closed one of the accounts, saving me some problems. I’m happy the fanny pack didn’t fall into the wrong hands, causing me even more grief.

From now on, I plan to carry in my purse or fanny pack only what I need. I’ll make copies of the cards I carry in my purse, and I’ll list the numbers of the checks that I carry in my purse so that if they are lost, I can stop payment. I’ll also list all of my automatic payments and contact numbers.

And next time, I’ll take the time to strap on that fanny pack. 

Leave a comment

Filed under identity theft, lost purse, The Daily News