Tag Archives: http://wordpress.com/tags/South County News

Eagle’s Eye View

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©South County News/The Daily News

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Filed under birding, Horseshoe Lake, South County News, Woodland

Rubbing Elbows

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©South County News/The Daily News


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Writers are for Real

Writers at conference©South County News/The Daily News

Sure, Woodland’s a small town, but that doesn’t mean you won’t bump into a writer. When my husband and I were out to dinner one night with friends, a man and woman approached the table and started visiting with us. The woman turned out to be Pam Young, author (along with her sister Peggy Jones) of many books including Sidetracked Home Executives™: From Pigpen to Paradise; Get Your Act Together; Sidetracked Sisters Happiness File; Sidetracked Sisters Catch Up on the Kitchen; The Phony Gourmet; and I’m Okay…but you have a Lot of Work to Do.” The sisters have experienced every writer’s dream by appearing on Oprah as well as CBS Morning News, Today, and other popular shows. They have probably written more books than these, but the long list was enough to make me want to rip up my writer business cards and hide in a dark room; I felt I had wasted too many years and left too many words unwritten.

That’s one thing about a lot of us writers…it doesn’t take much for us to feel unworthy of the title, just because someone else has been in the business longer or published more work. In 2006, I took online writing courses from Eva Shaw at www.ed2go.com (which, by the way, you can enroll in at our Woodland branch of Lower Columbia College). I was so impressed with Shaw’s teaching that I attended the 2006 Cape Cod Writers Conference in Osterville, Massachusetts, where she presented workshops.  Thrilled to meet Shaw, but feeling insecure, I said to her, “I feel like a pretend writer.”

Eva Shaw, who has published more than seventy books and 1000 magazine articles, replied, “We all feel like pretend writers.”

That was a turning point for me. That’s when I had my business cards printed; I started wearing an “author in progress” t-shirt; I presented a Write the Stories of Your Life workshop to Woodland’s Red Hat Tamales; I helped inspire young writers in my granddaughter’s first-grade class; I started submitting work.

Once I started feeling like a writer, things started happening. I began writing this weekly column; my stories about Woodland began to be posted on www.lewisriver.com; my story Indian Summer appeared in the just-released book Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause; I attended the Whidbey Island Writers Conference and the Willamette Writers Conference; I got to know other writers, and I took more classes; I started thinking about reprinting the book I published thirty years ago.

In August, I attended the Willamette Writers Conference with Klazina Dobb, a Woodland acupuncturist. At the Lelooska Foundation fundraiser last spring, I purchased a gift certificate for a massage at Klazina’s clinic. When I met Klazina and I told her I would soon be going to a writer’s conference, she said, “I ‘m glad you’re here. I want to write a book, but I’m not sure how to get started.”

Klazina and I attended the conference together and enjoyed sharing mealtimes with other writers, agents, and publishers. At the closing banquet, we shared a table with Kristina McMorris of Portland, who was presented the first place Kay Snow Writing Contest award in the Adult Fiction category for her novel Between the Lines. Through meeting Kristina McMorris and other published authors, we learned more about the business of writing, and we made new contacts.

At that conference, both Klazina and I took a writing workshop taught by Julie Fast, best-selling author of Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder and Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder. We enrolled in her Proposal Writing course through Portland Community College, where we learned that nonfiction writers must first write a proposal to find out if an agent is interested before writing the book. Klazina is working on her proposal for a book about healing for health-care workers; I am working on my proposal for a book about a tuberculosis sanatorium where my family once lived and worked, and today’s re-emerging tuberculosis.

I’ve read about Woodland author Alan Rose’s book The Legacy of Emily Hargrove.  Woodland resident Suzanne Taylor Moore Faveluke recently sent an email containing verses she wrote a number of years ago for greeting card companies, and in 1974, she published a book called Coffee. While interviewing Jill Yates at the Lower Columbia College Woodland campus, I found out Jill has written Tales of a Teacup and Coffee Lovers Bible. I’m sure there are many other writers in Woodland whom I haven’t yet met.

I picked up a flyer at the college on the Write Your Life Story class held each Wednesday at the Presbyterian Church, which is led by Carmen Web. The class is currently full, but another session starts January 9.

There are many writers in Woodland: some are published, some would like to be published, and some just want to write. We all have something in common…the drive to put words on paper. Everyone has a story to tell, and no one who writes is a pretend writer.

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Filed under books, South County News, Woodland, writing

At Home in Woodland

©South County News/The Daily News

The Woodland Chamber of Commerce after-hours event was held at Los Pepes Thursday night, September 19, hosted by owners Tadeo and Maria Avelar. Chef Victor Fabian grilled oysters on the barbecue while guests helped themselves to a buffet of some of the restaurant’s favorites. Tadeo and Maria, born in Mexico and now US citizens, think of Woodland as more than just a restaurant location; they think of it as home.

 About a year and a half after the May, 2002 opening of Los Pepes, the Avelar family bought a home in Woodland and moved here from Longview. And just a few months ago, they purchased their restaurant building at 611 Goerig St., across from Horseshoe Lake Park.

“With 4 children”, said Tadeo Avelar, “it’s important to live near our restaurant where we can attend our kids’ school and sports activities.” Daughters Karina and Camila both participate in Woodland cheerleading, and the Avelar family recently held a fundraiser to help benefit the cheerleading squad.

My husband and I visited Tadeo’s and Maria’s childhood homes in Mexico with them a few years ago when their fourth child, Camila, was christened. Tadeo picked us up at the Guadalajara airport and after a few days in Guadalajara, he drove us to Leon, Mexico where Maria and the children were visiting her parents.

In Guadalajara, we stayed with Tadeo’s Tia (Aunt) Michaela, his mother’s sister. Michaela speaks only Spanish, but her patience with us and our limited Spanish allowed us to communicate. Her house was charming. We first entered a formal living room. Next, there was an open courtyard, a pleasant place to start the day. Two birds in cages sang to us while we ate breakfast. Several times a day, while Michaela swept the leaves that fell from the lime tree in the courtyard, she talked to her birds. We couldn’t understand the words, but could understand the loving tones.

Near Michaela’s house, the neighborhoods came alive every night from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM when portable taco stands suddenly appeared along the streets, creating a festive atmosphere. At home, we are used to eating dinner around 6:00, so we were plenty hungry by 10:00.The tacos, seasoned scoops of pork, chicken, or beef rolled into warm, fresh tortillas, hit the spot. Our hunger, combined with the spicy aroma of the street-side tacos, caused us to eat too much every night, and we moaned as we lay in bed with full stomachs, vowing never to eat so late again. You guessed it: the next night, we lined up again at one of the taco stands at 10:00.

Tadeo showed us his father Antonio’s home in Tapatitlan, a rancho where he raises sheep.

After a five-hour drive to Leon, we met Maria’s family and attended the christening and party for baby
Camila. The party following Camilla’s christening was a huge family affair, not unlike the gatherings Tadeo and his relatives enjoy here, with their favorite foods and music. The Avelars close their restaurant for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day to celebrate with family.

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Filed under South County News, travel, Woodland

Montanans Swap Nostalgia at Horseshoe Park

©South County News/The Daily News

Montanans, some in cowboy hats, served up nostalgia at their August 25 picnic in Horseshoe Lake Park.  As I neared the event, Amazing Grace was being played on the bagpipes and various other performances filled the park with music throughout the day.

Things didn’t exactly go “without a hitch,” but that didn’t stop guests from having a good time. Woodland resident Kathy Davis, an organizer of the event, told about the first obstacle she encountered. “We furnish the pop and chicken,” she said. “I pre-paid for 80 pieces of chicken and sent Tom Anderson to pick it up. The store gave him an 8-piece order, not an 80-piece order, so the chicken had to be delivered to us.”

The next snafu happened as I interviewed guests. Someone suggested I take a photo of the cake, and just then my camera crashed to the floor. It took a hard hit, bounced, and slammed again onto the concrete. I could instantly see that it was damaged, and although it appeared to take pictures, I couldn’t be sure because I was no longer able to review them.

As a guest served a piece of the chocolate cake, I snapped a picture and stepped back. Just then, the sheet cake fell to the floor. Luckily, it stayed upright on its tray, and only one big blob of whipped chocolate frosting made a mound on the floor. The excitement continued when a gentleman kindly offered his assistance in picking up the cake. When he bent over and reached for the tray, his cell phone fell out of his pocket and became a cake ornament. His phone was coated with sugary frosting. I heard Lee Coyne of Salem say, “He’s a sweet talker.”

It wasn’t surprising that Lee Coyne came up with a clever phrase to describe the incident. He’s a former journalist who has written for many newspapers , covering political news in Washington DC. He reminisced about his days of writing about Mike Mansfield , the longest-serving Majority Leader of the US Senate, who served from 1961 to 1977.

Guests soon lost interest in the comedy of errors created by the crashing camera and the falling cake, and they shifted their attention to an accordion player. “A band will play later,” I was told.

Kathy Davis pointed out raffle items, lined up along the counter of the picnic shelter. “The raffle helps us raise money for these items,” she said.  “I have friends in Billings who send things for the raffle, and I put together gift baskets.”

Another organizer, Tom Anderson of Longview, said “we’ve been holding this event right at twenty years. We’ve held it at Merwin and Trojan, but this is the best place. It’s more centrally located.” Anderson is from the Roundup area, near Billings, Montana.

About seventy people attended the potluck. Nostalgia was swapped at tables marked with Montana city names like Roundup, Kalispell, Kremlin, Conrad, Whitefish, Shelby, and Glasgow.  Kathy Davis and Tom Anderson talked about the mining disasters of the Roundup and Billings area that are a part of their family  history. Kathy said, “Dad went to the site of a mining disaster at Bearcreek, Montana and there were 125 dead miners. He said it was the worst thing he ever had to do. When they were all done closing the mine, all the rescue workers were told to drink a shot of whiskey to calm their emotions.”

Most of the memories shared, though, were good ones, as folks looked through photo albums and scrapbooks. The group will dust off cowboy hats again next year to gather here and swap stories, renew friendships, and remember their roots.


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Filed under Family History, Family Memories, Horseshoe Lake, South County News, Woodland

Woodland Park is Skating Toward the Finish Line

©South County News/The Daily News

Thursday morning August 23, while many of those who use Woodland’s skatepark were probably still asleep, Glacier Northwest of Vancouver rolled into Horseshoe Lake Park to pour concrete, bringing Woodland’s 8300 square foot skateboard park one step closer to completion.

Woodland police officer Blayden Wall headed up the effort to raise funds to build a skatepark because he was tired of chasing skateboarders from parking lots, city streets, and sidewalks.  Money to build the park was generated by grants, fundraisers, and donations of time, materials, and funds.

Phase one, a steep bowl-shaped structure, was completed a year ago. Phase two, now under construction,  will offer stairs, rails, and flat surfaces.

Glacier’s light-blue truck sat near the still lake Thursday morning, purring softly. A maintenance worker in an orange jacket and yellow hard hat used a weed trimmer along the edge of Lakeshore Road. He turned to glance down at the project as he walked by.  Cars and trucks sped by on nearby I-5. Most passengers, headed for work or their vacation destination, were probably oblivious to the work going on just west of the freeway.

The robotic arm of a red Glacier truck raised and lowered until it was in the right position for dispensing the concrete. As it stretched and flexed its joints, it could have been auditioning for a movie part as a robotic monster.

A sharp beep sounded. The concrete mixer of the blue truck slowly turned in a clockwise direction, round and round. Rocks that would soon become part of the hard-surfaced skateboard ramps could be heard tumbling against the mixer’s walls.

A worker dressed in t-shirt, shorts, and rubber boots guided the hose that dangled from the robotic arm. Concrete from the spinning white tumbler on the blue truck poured into a chute on the red truck where it was carried through the hose held by the robotic arm. As concrete was dispensed, half of a Fleetwood mobile home, recently built here in Woodland, rolled by on Lakeshore Drive. 

Once the concrete had been poured, the long arm was swung to the back of the truck where  a worker secured the flopping tube.

After dispensing the concrete, the mixer on the blue truck reversed directions, slowly spinning counter-clockwise. A worker in an orange hard hat sprayed off his boots and then climbed to the top of the blue truck where he hosed off the chute that had carried the concrete to the red truck. The clear water became dark grey as it poured to the ground, being washed away so that it would not harden on the chute.

With spreaders on long poles, workers smoothed the concrete to create the finish that will become a place for Woodland youths to master tricks on their skateboards.



To learn the lingo of skateboarding

and to find out

definitions of words like:




Heel  edge


see www.skateboard.about.com

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Filed under entertainment, Horseshoe Lake, South County News, Woodland