Catrock Letters, Thanksgiving Day 1918

Here’s an excerpt from one of the Cat Rock letters in which Frank writes to Edith, who he is courting, about his Thanksgiving day.

section of letter
A piece of the letter Dec. 14, 1918.

Dec. 14, 1918

“You asked me how I spent Thanksgiving. Well, I worked on the track all day but we had a nice supper at Edith’s [his cousin] after the day’s work was over. We didn’t have Turkey but we had chicken, 3 of them, and cranberries, cakes and pies. We expect Oscar home for Christmas and will celebrate it at Mrs. Vaughn’s or the section house. They haven’t decided that yet. I hope you all [have] a happy Christmas and merry new  year, and many of them.”

This is out of sequence in the series of courtship letters, but it applies to this week’s Thanksgiving holiday in the U. S. when turkey, cranberries, and apple or pumpkin pie are traditional dishes. I’m sharing an excerpt from one of Frank’s letters to Edith. He writes her from the railroad section house at Cat Rock where he lives and works. His cousin, also named Edith, and her family have been living at the section house with Lewis (you’ll meet him in another letter). Frank said they “have been here for some time.” By now the section house has become home to quite a few workers and families, including Frank’s brother Tom and their mother. Oscar, another brother, is in the army in World War 1. I need to research the section house floor plan. Maybe there was more than one building where people lived.

The next piece I plan to write for this series goes back to the first letter written in July 1918 and continues from there. I will post the series as I go along in the Cat Rock Letters page here.

Read about how I found the series of courtship letters here.

Read the first vignette based on the first letter here.



Big bright summer sunflowers!
Big bright summer sunflowers!

Triumph is the color of summer sunflowers in river bottom topsoil given me by friendly neighbors.

dog in creek
Sweet Jane wades in our creek her  first week home in March at 93 pounds.

Triumph is Sweet Jane, the German Shepherd we adopted after 15 months in the “no kill’ shelter. She’s getting old, has thyroid issues, skin allergies, and forever ear infections. She lost weight from 140 pounds when her previous owner surrendered her to 71 pounds with good care. That she is alive and in a loving home is triumph for this animal. And she really is sweet!

Dog in river.
Sweet Jane wades in the mouth of the Elwha River.

Triumph is freeing the Elwha River from 2 dams that prevented historic 100 pound salmon from spawning. Sweet Jane romps in the briny water and on the sand spits created by the river.

2 dogs in van
2 dog car alarm – Sweet Jane and Ozette.

Triumph is just getting up in the morning for many people. I like this post about Triumph.

Edge: Walk a crooked path.

path to Lake Ozette from the tree houseThe path from the tree house to Lake Ozette is a board walk built about 20 feet above the ground. In the rainy season the lake rises so water comes up to the boards. The edge of the lake changes with rains and drought. I don’t know that anyone has fallen off the edge of the path.

Watch for another post in which I will show the board walk from the dirt road into the tree house, and the adorable cabin built in a Sitka spruce tree. It sleeps 4. Lake Ozette is in Olympic National Park on the Washington state coast. The tree house is on the only privately owned property on the lake.


An exercise in photographing things in doubles.

double sets of chairs
Conversations inside and out.

Come sit with me in the garden, in the field, under a pine, at the boundary markers.  I like to place chairs and hammocks at different places on my property, inviting conversations for two.

Jamestown pole 2 sided

Jamestown totem pole front

The Jamestown S’Klallam tribe built several new totem poles in recent years. This one is double sided. The top hat structure indicates wealth in giving potlatches. Thuderbird faces north and south, the bay and the mountains. You can barely see the edge of it’s wing facing the camera. Beneath Thunderbird is Beaver, holding its tail. The Jamestown people bought their land on Washington’s North Olympic Peninsuala instead of letting it become a reservation. They have a village, casino, fire station, seafood store, gas station with deli and convenience store, medical facility, and cultural center. This totem pole is at the fire station.

Marble mania

If you call me and ask what I’m doing I might say I’m putting my marbles back in the jar. That’s what I told Caroline last week and it’s the truth. I had rinsed them and dried them and I was putting them back when she called and asked. I’ve been collecting marbles for a few years. I know people have bigger collections than mine. Maybe I lost a few. Now today’s truth is that I have a brand spanking new macro lens and I figured out how to use it. Whoop! Whoop! The ice cube with the light bulb inside shows how I feel when I have writer’s block, frozen up and waiting for the light to come on, just can’t get the electricity to flow and can’t even light a candle.

Big Sky Country

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Massive sky and field dominates the rolling Palouse Prairie in North Idaho, near the Montana border. It’s part of the Big Sky Country for good reason. And the sky in this region is almost always astounding. I like the full camera view with no cropping, but I can see how cropping can create a different effect. At sunset I often ponder whether I should “correct” the color or leave the pink glow, the way the scene really looks when I am there. Both ways can offer a mood. Which photo appeals most to you?



Paper paper airplanes swarm across the ceiling in the South Side Grill. The restaurant and bar face the airport in McCall, Idaho. As two guitarists swarm the bar with electric blues, I imagine the planes coming to life and wreaking havok. I set my cameras on long shutter speeds and set the magic free. The musicians are Brian MacDonald and Spence Bates, playing blues on Fender Squires. They played for the dancing girls in my post “In the Momment”.

In the Moment

Not my ordinary type of post, these photos examine my tries at using slow shutter speeds, causing blurs, to show movement. This lesson reminds me to study my Olympus E-10 DSLR, review the manual, experiment, and take my time.

girls dancingI focused on the musicians and, without planning, caught the children in motion dancing with abandonment. Let’s see if I can make that happy accident happen with intention. See these musicians in motion with streaking paper airplanes in my post “Swarm”.

prayer flags over gardenThe prayer flags wave above my garden, indicate whatever breeze passes their prayers along. I barely see a blur in today’s light wind but they do show movement. They were moving too slowly for my shutter speed to blur.

pine with ice dripsIce dripping from the deck roof  just looks like scratches on a print, to me.

In a Tree House

In a Tree House

from A Year with Hafiz


will someday split you open

even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,

is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain

that you hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open

into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

A life-giving radiance will come,

O look again within yourself,

For I know you were once the elegant host

To all the marvels in creation. 

From a sacred crevice in your body,

a bow rises each night

and shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful One

from the vantage point of Love.

He is conducting the affairs

of the whole universe

in a tree house – on a limb

in your heart.

Tree houses fascinate me. Maybe because my aunt built several on my grandparents property and I played in them as a child. Maybe because of children’s literature like Winnie the Pooh. Maybe because the architecture is usually designed and constructed by children. It’s raw like my imagination and I feel free when I even think of a tree house.

I found this poem here.

The color of warm

Interior design, landscaping, or fiber arts, the color of warm speaks for itself. You can plan warm hues to pop against contrast or gently blend its expression in a gradient like the sun set. Primary colors red and yellow evoke the feeling of warmth. Blue feels cold. Gradients of the warm hues say, “Feel warm! Feel warm!”

Interior design and landscaping

Before it was the trend I painted my west wall terracotta, a warm deep orange-red of America’s Southwest canyon lands. I wanted to feel warm in my coastal cottage like the sun setting at my Idaho home in the Rocky Mountains. I lived and worked on Washington’s North Olympic Peninsula in winter. The Strait of Juan de Fuca mirrors the season’s forever heavy grey sky. Evergreen foliage reflects monotonous daylight all day, the dull feeling of bleak, so I couldn’t feel time passing with the moving sunlight. The daylight just didn’t change through the day in winter.

Yet bunches of tiny crimson berries on my huge ancient holly tree screamed “Feel warm!” through my east window. People walking by in the mist would stop and stare at the red globes contrasting with spiky two toned leaves, entranced by the warm winter message. On cool holidays I clipped branches and left them by the side walk for people to take home. In a few January days, hundreds of buff breasted robins wiped out every bright fruit on the tree and sang a long crisp cheery chorus. The red berries and birds warmed the foggy landscape with their hues. “Feel warm!”

Fiber Arts, Knitting

While I knit a scarf for a child I am thinking of her favorite color, PINK, lots of PINK. Not my favorite color but I realized that I am knitting warmth not just with the warming power of wool but with the color of warmth. While knitting, I am warmed from the wool in my lap and the action in my hands but, on an intuitive level, I feel warmth from the gradients of red and yellow, orange, pink, and fuchsia. I like to play with contrasts so the colors pop, looking even more intense. Sometimes I put the contrast in the design, other times I show it with what I wear with the knitted garment. In some recent designs, I see that I have selected color ways from the warm hues for hats, socks, ear warmers, and i-pod cozies, too.


I photograph almost everything I knit before I give it away and some local shops have asked for my portfolio. Today, I considered the knitted items as subjects for a photo series on warmth, the color of warmth and I paid attention to a color pop already in the knitting design of a baby hat. How can I make my knitting portfolio more engaging? Let me get started with the first step. Most of these photos were taken indoors with natural daylight shining through a window. I used my Olympus E-10 DSLR, on manual at 125, F 2.7. I could have bracketed the shots but I wanted to see what comes from that setting. It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit last night and 18 degrees when I went outdoors to catch the sunlight and the contrasting blue sky for the scarf. The camera slowed down after several minutes in the outdoor cold while I was in the artist mode. Time and temperature were not affecting me until the tool told me to go indoors where it would feel warm.

Art is about observation, looking, listening, and feeling. And some skill and practice.

Landmarks for Meditation

beach with driftwood ship wreck

Why is it?

Because:  all phenomna are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow, like dew and lightening.

Thus should you meditate on them.

– The Diamond Sutra, translated at the Sukhavati Forest Retreat

Hazard Mountain

 Rough Country

– Dana Gioia

Give me a landscape made of obstacles,

of steep hills and jutting glacial rock,

where the low running streams are quick to flood

the grassy fields and bottom lands.

A place

no engineers can master – where the roads

must twist like tendrils up the mountainside

on narrow cliffs where boulders block the way.

Where tall black trunks of lightning-scalded pine

push through the tangled woods to make a roost

for hawks and swarming crows.

And sharp inclines

Where twisting through the thorn-thick underbrush,

scratched and exhausted, one turns suddenly

To find an unexpected waterfall,

not half a mile from the nearest road,

a spot so hard to reach that no one comes –

A hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies

and nesting jays, a sign that there is still

one piece of property that won’t be owned.

World Kindness Day Ideas

Take a Smile
World Kindness Day, Thursday, November 13

Nov. 13, Thursday, is World Kindness Day. Not sure I can get a Flash Mob together like in London in time for the small town I live in. I’m sure I’ll come up with something, maybe a happiness sign to hang at my rural mailbox to connect my neighbors with kind thoughts. I am sharing a link for ideas. Can you plan a small event or post a sign in your community to promote kindness? I’d love to see what you do! Leave a link to a photo of your idea  or the event in your reply to this post and I’ll make a gallery to share our ideas of kindness around the globe. Contribute your photo anytime. It doesn’t have to be by November 13.

Here is the link for Wake Up London’s ideas for World Kindness Day.

slack time



McCall, Idaho streets rest in November rain between busy recreation seasons. Photo taken with my Dell 7 tablet and posted on the go. I discovered a few photo editing options on the device. I edited exposure, cropped the image, and used a vintage filter to give more life to the dreary shot. I’m not satisfied with the quality from the android in this shot.

Home is an unpaved road

“Mom do you know how many signs there are to your house that say the road narrows?” This from my daughter on a drive to our Idaho home. I did not know. So I started at one end where our gravel road meets the highway and drove to the other end where it loops back to the highway. I found more signs than I am sharing, and many tree houses, too, along our route. For me, home is a sense of place, a sense of the wild in nature and in my life. I have lived in mountains, on a beach, almost on a boat, and in cities.

My feeling of home brings sounds of people chatting, laughing, and crying together. I smell aromas from family cooking together in our kitchens, the compost in gardens, and rotting seaweed on a beach. The sense of home would make a challenging photo series. Some feelings can’t be photographed.

I see me in a place remote from city sirens and helicopters, a place where I encounter wildlife and rocks and rivers and can walk daily in peace. I want to get off the pavement and journey up a dirt road, ever narrowing, to a home where I can retreat from the fast pace of life. A place to renew myself and my family and set us running back to pavement when the time is right.