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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. 

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Filed under identity theft, lost purse, The Daily News

Friendship that lasts the test of time

By Pat Nelson for The Daily News, July 11, 2008

Reprinted with permission


Best friends come and go, so a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years is something to brag about. My longtime friend, Marilyn Herold of Longview and I celebrated her birthday and our friendship recently with lunch at Woodland’s Lewis River Golf Course.

Whenever we get together, we reminisce about our childhood days. I moved into her neighborhood in Longview when I was nearly nine, the summer before fourth grade. I was shy, and even though I wanted to meet the tall, pretty girl on the other side of my backyard fence, I was afraid.

One day when Marilyn was playing outside, my mother walked me to the fence. I hung my head as we approached, and mom urged me on and then introduced me to Marilyn. Marilyn was 10, one grade ahead of me and as outgoing as I was shy. She invited me to play “store” with her. Mom helped me climb the picket fence, where empty soup and vegetable cans neatly lined a wooden shelf in Marilyn’s make-believe market. That’s the day we became best friends.

At lunch recently, with the beautiful Lewis River flowing by, we talked about the memories that our friendship is made of. We were always looking for a way to make money. We sold lemonade and comic books from a small table in Marilyn’s yard.

Couponing was our favorite moneymaker. At that time, grocery stores would allow you to exchange cents-off  coupons for cash, whether or not you bought the product. We would look through the magazines in the grocery store until we found one that had coupons exceeding the cost of the magazine. One day, we found a 15-cent magazine with 35 cents worth of coupons. We bought the magazine, clipped the coupons, returned to the store and cashed them in. We bought another magazine with the proceeds, and repeated the process again and again.

At lunch, Marilyn asked, “Do you remember when we used to coax dogs with tags to follow us home so we could get a reward?”

I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine stooping so low just to make a few bucks.

“No,” I said, “I don’t remember ever doing anything like that!”

But, as the days went on, the memory returned. I remembered that the first dog really was lost. We called the owners. They were happy to get their dog back, so they gave us a few dollars. That gave us an idea, so we coaxed a couple of other dogs to follow us home Although we were thanked by their owners, there was no reward, so we gave up that venture.

Other times, we went through the neighborhood with a wagon and knocked on doors, asking if anyone had bottles they didn’t want. There was a deposit on soda and beer bottles, so we loaded our wagon with bottles and hauled them to the store to trade them for cash.

In the summer, our parents bought seeds for us and we grew vegetables. Then we sold the vegetables back to our parents. In the fall, we made Christmas cards. The longer we practiced our business ventures, the less shy I became.

Whenever one of us went outside, we called to the other, with a loud “Eee-Ah-Kee,” a call we had heard on the show “Lassie.” I was always disappointed if I hollered out the friendship call and there was no reply.

We talked on the telephone a lot, too. Marilyn and I thought we were the luckiest girls in the world because our families shared a party line. When she talked with friends on her phone, I was able to join in by picking up the phone at my house.

In the spring, we brought home free baby chicks from the feed store, even though my mother warned us not to. We raised rabbits in both back yards, and pollywogs in a jar on top of our oil stove. A washtub in my back yard held salamanders that Marilyn and I caught in the nearby slough. We often walked to the slough with a gallon jar to get the nasty green water that we knew our salamanders liked. We each had a dog, and we entered them in neighborhood dog shows, beaming with pride as they sat, rolled over, and barked on command.

We have so any great memories of our years together. Now, we both watch our grandchildren as they choose friends, and we hope they, too, can find life-long best friends.

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Filed under best friends, grandchildren, The Daily News, Woodland

Skate park goes green

by Pat Nelson
Reprinted with permission, The Daily News, Longview, WA 5/23/2008

  A sign stating “Tree City USA” now sits near three newly planted flowering trees at the edge of the lawn stretching gently downhill from Woodland’s skateboard park. In late April, City of Woodland employees and volunteers laid sod to convert the area surrounding the skate park from a muddy mess into a lush lawn.

I’m not a stranger to laying sod, so I was curious when I saw the pallets of healthy grass being delivered to Horseshoe Lake Park. My husband and I installed sod in our front yard in 2005 because of its ease of installation and immediate results. We also liked the idea that it would be less susceptible to weed invasion than a seeded lawn. Those were all good, logical reasons, but the main reason I wanted to lay sod was that I had done it once before, and it was fun.

My first sod-laying experience was 15 years ago when my son, Steve, bought a home. It was a hot day, and I remember being busy with the hose, watering the pallets of sod so they wouldn’t dry out and keeping the already-laid sod and the bare soil moist. Looking at Steve’s brown yard, and then at the pallets of sod, I couldn’t have predicted the rewarding transformation that took place that day, into a dense, green, healthy lawn. As Steve and I carried the sections of turf and placed one tightly against another, a beautiful lawn quickly formed. We were filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Don Schmitt, owner of Far West Turf Farm and Circle S Landscape Supplies, LTD., made the grassy slopes surrounding the skateboard park possible by donating 16,000 square feet of sod. Schmitt’s turf farm and nursery, formerly located on Old Lewis River Road, moved to its present location at 35306 NW Toenjer Rd. a little more than a year ago. The Circle S nursery also has a location in Fairview, OR. Schmitt’s grass is grown from perennial rye grass seed produced in the Willamette Valley. The Port of Woodland donated soil to prepare the area for landscaping. Before laying the sod, City of Woodland employees graded the area and then applied fertilizer and lime on top of the finished grade.

At the skateboard park this April, frequent spring showers took care of keeping the sod cool and damp during installation, and sprinklers have been keeping it moist since then. City employees and volunteers quickly learned that when laying sod, it helps to be able to touch your toes; the task requires repeated bending in order to place the five-square-foot sections of lawn on the soil. The sod is grown in meshed net for support and to aid in installation, and it is cut into sections before delivery. Installers start with the longest straight edge, and work towards irregular boundaries. They fit the pieces close together, without overlapping, staggering the sections like bricks.

One thing I like about working with sod is that it is forgiving. If you need to move a section, you simply pick it up and move it. If you need to create a better fit or round a corner, you cut it with a sharp knife, a garden spade, or shears. Rather than disposing of the scraps, you can keep them damp for possible use later in the installation. These scraps can mean the difference between finishing the project or ordering more sod.

Once sod is in place, it is usually rolled with a half-full water-weighted roller to provide good contact between the roots and the soil, and to eliminate air pockets. Conditions were too wet for using the roller, so workers placed plywood on the grass to keep the soil from being disturbed when walked on and to help the grass roots bond. Large boulders from Kalama were placed around the grassy area, separating it from the parking lot where fishermen gather at the northeast side of Horseshoe Lake.

City employees Scott Summers, Paul Trice, Mark Sarvela, Brent Shelton, Jason Sloan, and Mark Cook, along with volunteers Ken Huston and Blayden Wall, worked on the project. The sod is in place, but that doesn’t mean the job is over for city employees. In a few days, the lawn will be ready for mowing.

The new sod completely transformed the landscape around the skateboard park. Brown soil almost instantly became a lush green carpet of grass, As it turned out, this carpet was rolled out just in time as Woodlanders gathered next to the new lawn to celebrate receiving, for the very fist time, the title “Tree City USA” from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

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Filed under Horseshoe Lake, Kalama, National Arbor Day Foundation, sod, The Daily News, Tree City USA, turf farm, WA, Woodland

Anticipation building for Planters’ Days

by Pat Nelson

Reprinted with permission,”
The Daily News, Longview, WA June 20, 2008

To me, this photo of the partially-assembled carnival at Woodland’s Horseshoe Lake represents the word “anticipation.”

 Carnival workers anticipate a busy festival, smiling faces and lots of ticket sales this weekend during the Planters’ Days festival.

Many kids anticipate receiving a few extra bucks from their parents for ride tickets. Teens anticipate seeing their friends. The Planters’ Days Committee anticipates a great turnout for its annual celebration.

I anticipate the smiling faces of my grandchildren and friends who will be enjoying Planters’ Days 2008 with my husband and me. We’ll all be anticipating sunshine for the weekend’s events.

Like a little kid, I look forward to the arrival of the carnival each June. My heart was beating a little faster Monday morning when the first carnival trucks started pulling into Horseshoe Lake Park.

 On Monday, huge strawberries, part of a ride, sat on their trailer, but by Tuesday they had been assembled. By Thursday, after all of the rides had been inspected for safety, they twirled ‘round and ‘round, full of squealing children. On their trailer, they looked like a giant version of the crates of Woodland’s sweet local berries sold at roadside stands.

Carnival employees and managers parked their campers and fifth wheels close to Horseshoe Lake this year, where they could enjoy its beauty. A few swam, not deterred by a strong breeze and cloudy skies. By Wednesday afternoon, many rides had been partially assembled. The Super Loops ride, not yet connected at the top in the picture above, requires that an employee climb to the top to complete its assembly. Perhaps that duty is even more thrilling than the ride itself. I held my breath as I watched a worker descend from the top of the loop to the ground, using the loop as a ladder. It was probably more frightening to me than it was to him.

The Planters’ Days festivities began Thursday as kids paraded down Davidson Street in wagons, on bikes, and in costumes for the annual Kids’ Day Parade. The parade terminated at the carnival site. Opening-day excitement continued with the queen’s coronation. Then, at 10:00 p.m., people lined the banks of the lake and some watched from boats, as fireworks shot into the air, thundered and popped, and reflected off the lake in long, squiggly ribbons of color. For my family, the fireworks show was especially exciting because our granddaughters from Arizona, Lauren, 4, and Brooke, 9 months, had just arrived for a visit a few hours earlier.

Most people who attend the four-day event couldn’t  tell you why the community celebrates Planters’ Days. The celebration dates back to June 30, 1922, when local farmers celebrated the fact that the dike protecting their farmlands from flooding had held for a whole year.  Annual celebrations continued until 1943, when the celebration was discontinued until the end of World War II.  There have been more floods since that first celebration, but most years, the dikes keep the farmlands from flooding, and the celebration goes on.

Saturday, our Kelso grandchildren, Max and Chelsea, will be showing their Arizona cousin, Lauren, some of their favorite Planters’ Days activities: the frog jump, the penny scramble, the bed races, and the firemen’s muster. If the kids aren’t too tired, we’ll take in the Colgate Country Showdown, the Rose City Classics Cruise-In, and the street dance in the evening.

I always look forward to the car show on the Sunday of Planters’ Days weekend when as many as 400 classic cars line Davidson, Goerig, and Park Streets.  Many look like the same cars that cruised in front of my high school every day after school in the1960’s. When I look at those cars, I find myself saying, “I remember when….”

I’ll be watching a new event on  Sunday when the West Coast Outboard Racing Club holds its “Race Against Drugs” on Horseshoe Lake.  We’ll be watching these boats from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as they race around the northern half the lake at speeds of 45 to 100 mph.

Anticipation. It’s half the fun. The other half is attending Woodland’s 2008 Planters’ Days celebration.


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Filed under carnival, celebrations, grandchildren, Horseshoe Lake, Planters' Days, Race Against Drugs, The Daily News, West Coast Outboard Racing Club, Woodland

A Trip to the past…youngsters visit Lelooska Cultural Center

School buses visit Horseshoe Lake Park after Lelooska field trip 

By Pat Nelson
For: The Daily News, Longview, WA
May 2, 2008
Reprinted with permission


Three weeks ago, on a cold and blustery April day that threatened snow, I looked out at Horseshoe Lake and saw more shoreline activity than I thought the nippy day deserved. Two men fished from an aluminum boat. The wind pushed them along as though they were trolling. Their heads were bundled in hats and hoods, and I imagined them pouring hot cups of coffee from a thermos as my dad, who was a die-hard fisherman, would have done on such a day. Two anglers in yellow rain jackets fished from shore. City workers circled the skateboard park on machinery, leveling the dirt that they would soon cover with grass. A boy rode his bike down a bowl of the skateboard park while his friend, in shorts, sat on the frigid concrete. In the gusty wind, Moose Lodge volunteers held tightly onto the canopies they had just set up for their fishing derby.

It was almost lunchtime, and my computer displayed a temperature of only 48 degrees. I shivered as I watched people going about their various activities on the lakeshore. Three yellow school buses pulled into Horseshoe Lake Park, and then another. I watched as children, accompanied by several adults, got off the buses. Kids walked across the parking lot, and then hurried to the playground equipment, swinging their lunches in paper bags, insulated containers, and plastic grocery sacks as they ran.

I’d always been curious about the many buses that visit Horseshoe Lake Park from other school districts. Reluctantly, leaving a steaming-hot cup of tea on my desk, I snuggled into my warmest coat, grabbed my camera and note pad, and drove to the park to ask why anyone would choose to picnic on such a day.

As the wind whipped my coat, I talked with a teacher named Kim who told me she was accompanying 120 third graders from the Tualatin (Ore.)School District.  They had visited the Lelooska Cultural Center in Ariel where living history programs have been presented for more than 40 years.  My own children had attended the Lelooska school programs 30 years ago when the late Chief Lelooska was the storyteller. He dedicated his life to preserving the arts and culture of the Northwest Coast Indians. A well-known wood sculptor, he carved totem poles, elaborate masks, panels, rattles, and bowls. When Chief Lelooska died in September 1996, his brother Fearon Smith Jr , called Tsungani, became chief. Tsungani carries on the traditions of his brother as storyteller and narrator of the living history programs, sharing the heritage of the native peoples of North America with more than 13,000 individuals each year through cultural programs and the museum.

The Tualatin students attended as part of their school’s Native American unit, arriving at 10:30 a.m.for a cultural program where they were entertained by headdress dancers wearing carved masks, and by drums and stories in the Kwakiutl ceremonial house. After the presentation, they visited the museum before stopping at Horseshoe Lake for lunch.  

I stood talking with Kim near a covered picnic table, next to a tall lilac that was beginning to bloom just in time for Woodland’s annual Hulda Klager Lilac Festival. A Twix wrapper that missed the garbage can somersaulted past us in the wind. Most of the kids had hats on or hoods up, but one boy in shorts didn’t seem to know it was cold.

“The kids love Lelooska,” said Kim. “It’s something they have never seen before. They haven’t been exposed to storytelling, and it’s good for them to hear stories.”

As we talked, she kept her eyes on the youngsters. A girl named Amanda hurried over to report that there were five duck eggs nearby. Next, a boy ran up, rubbing his red hands together, saying, “I’m cold, I’m cold, I’m cold.” We quickly ended our conversation as the adults rounded up the youngsters and walked them back to the warm buses. 

As the kids left the park, the ducks and geese took their places, cleaning up sandwiches, cookie crumbs, and potato chips.

If you visit Lelooska on a chilly day, as the students from Tualatin did in April, the cedar fire in the ceremonial house will keep you toasty warm while you listen to stories and watch the costumed dancers. If the day is cold and blustery, though, how about a cup of hot cocoa instead of a picnic?


What:     Lelooska Living History Program and Museum

Where:   165 Merwin Village Rd., Ariel

When:    May 10 and May 31, 7 PM, reservations required;

Contact: 360 225-9522


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Filed under education, entertainment, Horseshoe Lake, Lelooska, Native American, school field trips, The Daily News, Woodland

American dream comes true for Guatemalan family

By Pat Nelson
For The Daily News, Longview, WA, April 4, 2008
Reprinted with permission


Santos Lopez Fabian first came to the United States twenty years ago on a visa. During each of those twenty years, he worked in the United States most of the year and traveled home to his family in the Guatemala highlands for a few months before returning to work.

When Santos first came to the United States, he didn’t speak English, but he had a strong body and an even stronger work ethic. During those twenty years, he added to the skills his father had taught him in Guatemala. He worked with concrete, brick, and tile. He worked in the kitchen of a Las Vegas casino. He landscaped, cleared brush, and remodeled houses and commercial buildings. He house-sat, and worked at a bulb farm and a chicken-processing plant.

Santos lived frugally, living with roommates and sending money home to his family in Guatemala, and he saved money for the day his wife could join him in the United States.

Santos’ first child, Ester, was born 18 years ago, making it even more difficult for him to leave his family and go back to work for months at a time. Next was Sara, now 16, then sons Eliazer, 13; Eber, 10; and Darwin, 6.  His wife, Rodriga, worked hard raising the five children, keeping up their home, helping both her mother, Bernarda, and Santos’ mother Maria, and raising crops and animals to feed her family. She also took (in) sewing… and she waited for her husband to come home.

In 2003, we remodeled our retail center in Woodland. That’s when we first met Santos He was looking for work, and we had plenty for him to do. We soon learned that he was skilled at doing many types of labor and that he was reliable and worked hard. Now, five years later, he still works for us part-time, and he has become a close friend.

Each time Santos returned to Guatelala, Rodriga begged him to stay. But he wanted to provide for his family, so he kept returning to the United States, promising Rodriga and the children that he would one day bring them here.

For years, he had prayed his applications would be approved. During those years, he learned English. He took classes, listened to tapes, watched language videos and practiced. He filled out forms and checked often on his applications to bring his family. He waited, and prayed. That was before the September 11, 2001 attacks.. On that day, security tightened and the progress he had made was lost.

Discouraged, Santos began to wonder if he would ever be allowed to bring his family to the country he called home most of each year. He took classes in Vancouver to study for his U. S. citizenship. One day in 2006, my husband and I, along with friends and family, made the trip to Seattle with Santos and proudly watched as he became a citizen of the United States of America.

Once Santos became a citizen, his family’s paperwork moved into a new category. Last year, he started working full time in St. Helens, Oregon, at a good job with benefits. He continued to work for us on Saturdays, saving money for the day his dream would come true.

He went home before Christmas to be with his family. He planned to return as usual before April 15 so he could file his income tax, but this time was different. On March 21, we picked up  Santos and four of his five children at the airport. Daughter Ester remained in Guatemala where she attends college. The family arrived tired but excited, and we drove them to their new home in St. Helens. We took our grandchildren along to meet Santos’ and Rodriga’s children. They weren’t sure how to react to kids who didn’t speak their language, but when we visited them on their second day here., all of the kids played soccer together. When our grandson Max reluctantly left, red-faced, muddy, and smiling, he said, “You don’t even need the same language after awhile.”

Last Saturday, the Lopez family came to our house to visit . There was snow in the hills, and we decided to take them up onto one of the hills to play. We outfitted each of them with gloves, a hat, and winter socks, and then we found the perfect snowy spot to introduce them to winter recreation. Snowballs flew and kids on sleds glided down the hill on their bellies. Their favorite activity of all was throwing snowballs at their mom as she squealed with delight. Santos smiled. He was home in the United States, and his dream had come true.



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Filed under citizenship, Guatemala, Woodland