Category Archives: Christmas

Recycle trees through Jan. 10

tree recyclingBy Pat Nelson, January 9, 2008

Reprinted with permission, South County News/The Daily News, Longview, WA  

When you take down your Christmas tree, the story doesn’t end there. Your tree still has to be undecorated and disposed of, and it usually leaves confetti made up of needles and glitter and possibly a few pieces of broken ornaments on your floor.

Are you wondering how to dispose of your tree? We’re taking ours to the Christmas tree drop-off point on the east side of Horseshoe Lake near the skateboard park.

In the case of tree recycling, bigger isn’t better. If your tree has a trunk diameter of more than 6 inches, it is too large to be recycled because it won’t fit into the chipper. Solution: use a saw to cut off the portion of the trunk that is more than 6 inches in diameter, and take the rest of the tree to the recycling lot.

The next time you add fuel to the fire, consider that your tree will be chipped into bits to make compost or fuel, but when recycling Christmas trees, don’t include decorations, stands or tree-flock.

My tree is headed for the recycling lot, but unfortunately it never did have its moment of twinkling glory. At our house, a ledge in our living room overhangs the deck. Our novel approach to having what appears to be a huge Christmas tree — but not — is to place an artificial tree on the ledge inside the house and a real tree on the deck outside, just below the artificial tree.

When we look through the sliding doors from inside the house, the two trees, decorated identically, appear to be one very tall tree.

This year, our plan didn’t work so well. The Moose lodge delivered a 10-foot noble Christmas tree to our deck. My husband cut off the top so the tree would match up well with the tree above. By the time the top had been cut off, the noble was too short to reach the roof of the deck, so we had to place it on a platform. It was a heavy tree, and it took both of us and plenty of groaning to put it in place. We checked the effect from inside the house and adjusted the placement of the tree on the ledge — the lighter-weight tree — so both would line up. After wrestling the heavy tree, we decided to leave the decorating for another day.

Two evenings later, we heard a crash. “What’s that,” asked my husband.

“The tree fell over,” I replied.

We both struggled to right the tree and return it to its platform, but we were unable to lift it high enough. My husband felt a pain in his back and dropped the tree. “This tree will have to stay there,” he said, and it did.

Now, we will have to get the tree off the patio and over to the designated recycling spot at the park. We might have to cut it into smaller pieces with a chain saw. Whatever we decide to do, we’ll have to hurry. Tomorrow, Jan. 10, is the last day to drop off trees

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South County News team gets in holiday spirit

South County News TeamBy Pat Nelson
Reprinted with permission, South Sounty News/Daily News, Longview, WA

Reporter Leila Summers brought South County News contributors together in Woodland on Dec. 18 for a Christmas party at Los Pepe’s restaurant. When I entered the room, I saw two familiar faces: those of Noel and Nancy Johnson.
Noel’s Web site,, is a leading source of information about our area. He’s seen with his camera at just about every event that’s held in the area, and his photos have bailed me out more than once when my camera didn’t work or his pictures were better than mine. His photographs of area events are often used by South County News. Next, I met Cheryll Borgaard, region editor of the South County News, and Linda Pharr, who contributes Kalama news. It was good to put faces with names.I had already met Leila Summers, South County News reporter, who has become a frequent face at Woodland and Kalama council meetings and area events.

Cheryll Borgaard wears many hats. Not only is she the region editor for South County News, but she is also assistant city editor and night editor for the Daily News. I asked Cheryll if The Daily News has other regional editions like the South County News. “We have two ‘Extra’ pages that we run once a week,” she said. “…one for Columbia County and one for north Cowlitz County (Castle Rock, Toutle, etc.) but they’re only one page in the regular paper while SCN is a full four.”

The first issue of South County News, she said, was Nov. 22, 2006.

Borgaard became a reporter for The Daily News in late 1999 after 10 years as editor of the now defunct Cowlitz County Advocate. She was made editor in 2000.

Reporter Leila Summers began work on South County News just two days before the publication of its second issue. Leila, a Spokane native, came here from the Shoshone News-Press in Kellogg, Idaho. She received her journalism degree from Washington State University.

Linda Pharr reports on Kalama-area news and events. She has lived in Kalama since 2000, and she said, “Writing for the paper has helped me get to know people.”

Another contributor, Ladisa Quintanilla, was unable to attend the party. She features Woodland and Kalama residents in the “People to Know” column.

Quintanilla was born in Guam where she lived with her family until 2000. She has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration from the University of Guam and is currently working on getting her master’s degree from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She is employed in Vancouver by Education Opportunities for Children and Families.

I started writing this column for South County News in April. I take writing classes from bestselling author Julie Fast in Portland and I am working on a young-adult book when I’m not helping my husband with Big Deals, our retail and wholesale business. Once a week, I visit my granddaughter’s second-grade classroom to help with writing lessons.

Leila had a good idea in getting us all together. After all, it takes a team to write a newspaper, and it’s easier to feel like part of a team now that we’ve met. We got to know each other a little better when we exchanged gifts and played the game of stealing them from each other. Noel Johnson felt triumphant when he ended up with a set of coasters that hold photos — the perfect gift for this photographer on our team!

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Christmas angels give gifts

By Pat Nelson December 19, 2007
Reprinted with permission, South County News/Daily News, Longview, WA

Weeks of effort by volunteers for the Woodland Community Center culminated in a two-hour gift-giving party Saturday at the Woodland High School Commons.Volunteer Portia Brown, who is on the center’s board of directors, headed up the giving tree portion of the event. She placed 16 “giving trees” decorated with paper angels in area businesses and churches. Each angel represented a child who is served by the Woodland Community Center. It listed the child’s sex and age as well as three gifts on the child’s wish list.Community members were encouraged to choose an angel from a tree and to fill a child’s Christmas wish.Three hours before the event, executive director Sheri Monge’s husband, Doug, and the couple’s sons were already at the high school commons delivering gifts to get ready for the 259 children who had signed up, plus a few more. Their car was loaded to the brim with wrapped presents.“This year twice the number of children signed up as last year,” Brown said.

People of all ages gave generously. “Last night,” said Brown,” a family delivered presents. Their daughter had chosen a tag for a 10-year-old girl, and she used her birthday money to buy the gift.”

The event started at noon, and when I arrived, there were already many children sitting around the large decorated tables, tracing their hands on construction paper. Each table held paper, scissors and crayons. Some children carefully cut around the constructions-paper fingers, and others cut the paper into tiny confetti-like bits. The arts and crafts project at the tables gave the excited children something to do while waiting to visit Santa and receive their gifts.

Volunteers served refreshments at the back of the room, and youngsters loaded their plates with some of their favorites: graham crackers, cheese, crackers and homemade cookies.

“The party is for babies through high-school aged children,” Brown said.

Though I noticed kids of all ages, most appeared to be under 10. There were lots of strollers, baby carriers, and babes in arms. Blonde hair stuck out from under one young boy’s green elf hat. With a large crowd of children waiting to receive presents, Santa must have been happy to see an elf.

Doug Monge called the names of the children whose turn it was to visit Santa, and they excitedly left their tables to wait in line. One of the first to visit Santa was Sierra Rose, age 12, who visited with Santa and received her gifts, but thought she was too old to sit on his knee.

Most of the younger kids, and a few of the older ones, were happy to sit with Santa to have their picture taken, but one toddler cried as soon as he saw the bearded man in the red suit. His mother comforted him, but as they again took a step towards Santa, his whimpering turned to a loud wail. Not even a candy cane could make him less afraid, so a volunteer gave him his gifts without the traditional visit.

After visiting Santa, children next moved on to choose a plush animal, a pencil box and a toy from a barrel. They left with their arms loaded with gifts. Two-year-old Jose Zavala cried because he couldn’t remove the cellophane from his candy cane, and he wasn’t ready to choose a teddy bear before tasting the sweet mint of the red and white candy.

As the crowd thinned, volunteers started clearing empty tables. Children became restless, and they chased each other around tables, tossing their floppy teddy bears into the air. Some colored in coloring books while parents visited. I overheard some kids who were already looking forward to next year’s event.

At the end, when each child had received gifts, the garbage cans were stuffed with Christmas wrappings covered with pictures of Santa, snowmen, Christmas trees and angels — reminding me of the angels who had worked so hard to bring joyous smiles to these children.

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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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Bazaars Kick Off Holiday Season in Woodland

bazaars 2007By Pat Nelson / South County News

@South County News/The Daily News, reprinted with permission

The parking lot was full Saturday, Nov. 17, when I drove up to the Woodland Care Center for its annual holiday bazaar. Inside, tables stretched across a hallway and filled a side room, and signs directed shoppers to more tables upstairs.

Danna Barbo of Ridgefield, chairwoman for the event, sold cuddly bears from a Christmas tree for $5 each, and goodies, ornaments and jewelry from the Woodland Care Center’s tables. “Residents,” said Barbo, “put the ornaments together and baked the cookies.”

“Do they have use of a kitchen?” I asked.

“They use an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie oven,” she replied, referring to the commercial cookie ovens often used by convenience stores and hotels to offer fresh-baked cookies made from Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough. “The fudge,” she said, “is made by the staff in the kitchen.”

Two-year-old Kylie Robertson, daughter of Jennifer and Eric Robertson of Woodland, knew exactly what she wanted. She walked up to the Christmas tree and chose a fuzzy bear the color of cotton candy. Then she also wrapped her arms around a sky-blue bear.

Kylie’s mom took the bears from her daughter and held them out. “Which one do you want?” she asked. Kylie quickly chose the pink one, and then reached for the blue bear. Barbo, unable to resist the toddler’s cute smile, let her have both bears for $5.

“We buy the bears,” said Barbo, “and the residents put the ribbons on them. A lot of them have never had a teddy bear. If there are leftovers, we use them as Christmas gifts for the residents.”

In another room, I visited with Pat Madsen at her booth, where she told me the Woodland Care Center opened in 1973. The bazaar gives her a chance to visit with friends where she previously worked as director of nurses and then administrator. “We started the bazaar as a patient activity making manger scenes,” she said.

What started as a care-center activity became a community event, and the bazaar gives Woodland Care Center residents an opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for their family members.

Evie Leonard of Vancouver sold items from the next table. Leonard told me she had been an RN at the center for eight years. Next to her, Pat Pearson, formerly of Amboy but now living in Salmon Creek, displayed her crewel work.

Asked what crewel is, she replied, “It’s embroidery in wool.” Before her retirement, Pearson was charge nurse at the center, then director of nurses, and then charge nurse again, working every shift. She worked at the center from 1980 to 1986.

“There are two other bazaars in Woodland this weekend,” Barbo said. “We share flyers.”

Hearing that, I next visited the Holiday Boutique at St. Philip’s Parish, where a column of red and white balloons on the walkway hinted at the festivities inside. I said hello to Pat Kenny, who was enjoying a bowl of “white chicken chili.” It was time for lunch, and the chili smelled great. I bought a steaming bowlful and joined Kenny and others at a table. The chili was as good as it smelled, and before I left, I bought a cookbook to get the recipe. The cookbook, called “Feeding the Flock,” is a collection of favorite recipes by the St. Philip Altar Society of Woodland and the St. Joseph Parish of Kalama.

My next stop was the largest bazaar of the three, the Sno Flake Bazaar, held at the elementary school gym. The parking lot was full, and most people leaving the building carried plastic sacks of handcrafted treasures. As I entered the building , I saw the Behrendsen Farms booth operated by Ruth Wendt and Ann Bradshaw. Their booth offered local-area products including honey and aprons, plus beautiful baskets made in Ghana, West Africa.

In the main room of the bazaar, the first table was occupied by Nancy’s Potholders, owned by Nancy Johnson of Woodland. “I’ve had the same space every year but one since 1994,” Johnson said. “I have a lot of fun and love doing it.” Husband Noel buys a lot of raffle tickets, she said. When I talked with him, he had already won three nice prizes.

One vendor, Meredith DeBuse, was there selling handmade doll clothes. Asked how she got started selling doll clothes, she said, “I got into the doll thing 10 years ago. Mother made doll clothes for me.” DeBuse didn’t have daughters herself, but now has seven granddaughters to sew for.

Charlene Brooks and Kathy Huffman, both of Ariel, were working at the bazaar to earn funds to help the Pleasant View Community Church build a home for a needy family in San Vicente, Baja California, Mexico. Along with handmade items for sale, a quilt was raffled. About 15 women contributed their time and materials to supply the handcrafted merchandise and the raffle prize.

After attending all three bazaars in town, I had been well fed, had purchased some gifts and had the recipe for the famous white chicken chili. I had visited with old friends and made new acquaintances and could see why so many area residents look forward to these three bazaars each year.

Visit Pat Nelson’s Web site at

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