Tag Archives: South County News

Thankul for Memories

Thanksgiving morning 2007By Pat Nelson, November 28, 2007
Reprinted with permission, South County News/Daily News, Longview, WA
When I was growing up, my mother would get up Thanksgiving morning around 5 a.m.to “put the bird in the oven.” She had worked hard the day before making pies and preparing side dishes. In those days, you made your own pies and lots of them. I can remember the sound of the rolling pin as it rolled across the dough, and flour flying for hours as Mom rolled out the perfect rounds that would become flaky pie shells. She always rolled out and baked the scraps of dough, too, and put jam on them for me as a treat.By the time I would get up on Thanksgiving morning, the turkey would be cooking, and Mom, tired from preparations the day before and from getting up early, would be elbow deep in soapsuds, washing the mountain of dishes she had created while cooking. That, of course, was before dishwashers were a standard item in homes. At our house, Mom was the dishwasher, and I was the reluctant assistant when I couldn’t find a way to get out of it.We’d go to church Thanksgiving morning, and then hurry home to finish preparing the meal. My aunt Agnes always brought stacks of lefse, the thin Norwegian bread made from mashed potatoes, butter and cream. Lefse looks something like tortillas, but thinner. In our family, we always butter our lefse and roll it like crepes, but some people prefer to eat it with cinnamon and sugar.We always ate Thanksgiving dinner early in the day, and I can remember my brother eating several helpings before falling asleep on the couch. There was always too much food, and it was hard to make room in the refrigerator for all the leftovers, even after sending food home with guests.Occasionally we would go to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Dad had low blood sugar and required frequent meals. He learned quickly that if we went to one particular home for dinner, he had to eat first and bring snacks, because the meal was always served several hours late.When I decided to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner, I talked my mother-in-law into coming to my house at 5 a.m.to help me. There we were, her with sleepy eyes and me in my robe, slipping my first turkey into the oven. I was shocked at how easy it was. Once in the oven, there was plenty of time to get the rest of the meal ready. The only bad parts were getting up out of a warm bed to handle a cold bird and trying to ignore the butterflies in my stomach because I was afraid to make gravy.It was important to me that my dinner be served on time. It would have been, but one guest arrived thirty minutes late — with her sweet potatoes still in the can and the marshmallows still in the bag; the dish still had to be cooked. I was devastated. I was also tired from getting up so early.That was the only time I got up early to cook a turkey. Now, my first rule is that dinner will be served at 4 p.m. so I won’t have to get up early. Even with a 20-pound turkey, I never have to have it in the oven before 9 a.m.My second rule is that the meal be served on time; if someone is late, we eat without them.It isn’t Thanksgiving without lefse, so after my dear Aunt Agnes passed away, I learned to make it myself. It was time-consuming and I was a messy cook, with more flour on the kitchen surfaces than the pie-making ever caused. I suddenly felt guilty about the stacks of lefse I had consumed every holiday season when Agnes was alive. I had never given a thought to the time and effort it took for her to supply all of us with our favorite treat.Eventually, I learned that members of the Sons of Norway in Kelso sell lefse once each November at their holiday bazaar. The date is on my calendar, and I show up there every year for 10 packs of perfect lefse.Now, holiday dinners are no longer stressful. I get up at 8 a.m. and have the turkey in the oven by 9 a.m. I use Pillsbury pie crusts that are ready to roll out into my pans, allowing me to bake homemade pies with perfect crust and little mess.I keep the menu simple: my daughter-in-law brings the mashed potatoes; my daughter brings the green-bean casserole. I open a can of cranberries, put a few pickles and olives on a plate, and make the gravy while the turkey is cooling.I haven’t been nervous about the gravy since I learned to cheat. I cook the giblets and save the broth to add to the turkey drippings. Then, I add packaged turkey gravy mix. Along with the drippings and the broth, I make perfect gravy every time.This Thanksgiving, Woodland sparkled in the sunshine as my family arrived. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, and Horseshoe Lake looked like a mirror, reflecting the autumn leaves of the trees on shore. We shot baskets in the driveway, rode bikes and ate on time.

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Filed under celebrations, Family Memories, grandchildren, Holidays, Horseshoe Lake, South County News, Thanksgiving, Woodland

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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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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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 www.storystorm.wordpress.com.

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Filed under Christmas, Holidays, seniors, South County News, Woodland

Area Serves Up Autumn Treats

Fred Smith grinds corn

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

Have you ever shown up for an event on the wrong date? That’s what I did last weekend, a full two weeks early! My husband and I drove to the Cedar Creek Grist Mill for the annual apple cider event. The website says it’s the last Saturday in October, and I even penciled it in on the correct date on my calendar, so I have no excuse except that I craved apple cider.

When I as a teenager, my brother and his wife used to invite me to pick apples with them in old, forgotten orchards. Sometimes we would stay until dusk, hoping to see a bear…from the safety of the car, of course. We never did see one, but it was exciting to think we might.Some people couldn’t believe my brother would toss the apples into the press without checking for worms. He’d just reply, “A little protein never hurt anybody.”I could hardly wait until those apples had been pressed and the cider had been bottled to take my first taste of cider. It was sweet and tangy at the same time, and if it lasted long enough to start fermenting, it was full of effervescence.Cider is an autumn treat. It isn’t often that I hear of a place that produces fresh-pressed cider, so the event at the Cedar Creek Grist Mill was particularly appealing to me.The drive was highlighted by yellow and orange leaves against dark fir trees, and the deep red leaves of blueberry bushes. Light green fir seedlings sprouted up in fields beside the road. At one point, we could see Mt. St. Helens in the distance, bright white below a cottony white blanket of clouds.We turned onto Cedar Creek Road and descended into a thick forest of trees with trunks lit up by shafts of sunlight, trees with golden leaves at their feet. Once at the mill, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the back steps, listening to the soothing sounds of the swift creek. Autumn leaves lazily drifted along the slow-moving water in a nearby flume, where they gathered in a bunch, plugging the intake. A small waterfall thundered nearby under a canopy of golden maples.After lunch, we stood on the covered bridge where we could see spawning salmon in the creek below. The Cedar Creek Grist Mill is a National Historic Site, Washington’s only grain-grinding mill that still has its original structural integrity, is water-powered, and grinds with stones. The mill was built in 1876 by George Woodham and his two sons to grind the farmers’ grain into flour or livestock feed. Woodham only stayed until 1879, when he moved and took all of the equipment with him. Mike Lynch was the next owner, but it was seven years before the mill was put back into operation when Lynch leased it to Gustave Utter. Utter built a log dam upstream and constructed a flume. He also installed the same Leffel turbine that is in use today.Gustave Utter was often paid in shares of grain, so he used it to feed to the hogs he raised to sell. Utter stayed longer than the others, lasting until 1901 before moving on. Four years later, Gorund Roslund purchased the mill, but it was another four years until it was operational. He expanded the mill by adding a shingle mill, a machine shop, and a blacksmith shop. When Roslund’s son Victor died in the 1950’s, the State Fisheries Department bought the property. They removed the old dam and built a fish ladder. In 1961, the Fort Vancouver Historical Society leased the mill and registered it as an historic place. Then, in 1980, a group of volunteers organized The Friends of the Cedar Creek Grist Mill to save the operation. The flume, which extends 650’ up Cedar Creek, was completed in 1989. By November 11, 1989, the group was ready to grind wheat to celebrate the Washington Centennial.The mill is a working museum, with demonstrations taking place Saturdays from 1:00-4:00 and Sundays from 2:00-4:00. When we were there, volunteer Tom Henrich gathered visitors on the back porch to explain the history of the mill. Next, guests moved inside for a demonstration by volunteer Fred Shulz. Shulz, in overalls, boots, and a hat perched on his head of white hair, looked right at home in the mill, sitting casually on a galvanized grain-storage can with his arms folded across his chest, and his legs straight out in front of him, toes up,  resting his boots on their heels. After his explanation, he and Tom started the mill, ground grains, and bagged samples for their guests.

A covered bridge over Cedar Creek was completed in 1994. People from around the world visit the covered bridge and grist mill, two scenic spots that are often photographed. Admission is free, and tours and field trips can be arranged by calling 360 225-5832. See www.cedarcreekgristmill.com  or call for directions to the mill, which is about 9 scenic miles from Woodland. If you go on October 27th, you can probably sample the apple cider, and you might even get to see some spawning salmon.

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Filed under Family Memories, fishing, South County News, Woodland

It’s a Small World

Visit the link below to view my column, and please save my blog in your favorites for future visits!

©South County News/The Daily News
Click the link, read my column, and come right back. I’ll be waiting.

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Fishing for Memories on the Columbia River

Visit the link below to view my column, and please save my blog in your favorites for future visits!

©South County News/The Daily News
Click the link, read my column, and come right back. I’ll be waiting.

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