Friday, September 28, 2012

Camping in September

We got off to a late start with our camping this year, due to a really wet spring and a busy homeschool convention season. However, we've been making up for lost time this month, with the gorgeous Indian Summer weather we've been having. Believe it or not, we've been camping for the past 3 weekends in a row. Well, Lyle and the kids have, anyway. One weekend I was gone to my writer's retreat, but Lyle and the kids went camping. So that counts, right?

Three weeks ago we went camping "up the North Fork" (of the Coeur d'Alene River) with some friends. The river was quite cold but the younger set braved it anyway. I do admire their courage. Or their determination. Or whatever it is.
 The campground is close to one of our favorite short hikes to Fern Falls and Shadow Falls, which we did Saturday morning.
 And then we went mountain climbing! Okay, I have to admit... it was in the truck. Cougar Peak is another of our favorite spots... a mountaintop accessible by road. We ate our lunch on the rocks and admired the view. Fires in the area have made the skies hazy for the past few weeks.
 Last weekend we camped at Farragut State Park. The highlight of that camping trip was the hike we took along Lake Pend Oreille.
During World War II, Farragut was actually a military base. We had fun exploring the remains of a building from that era.
 Laura was taking a close-up shot of the stones in the chimney...
 ...when I noticed how well her hat blended with the stones.
I wonder if the military personnel wore camo like that back in the day?

The weather is still holding, with beautiful sunny days and crisp nights, but I guess we'll be staying home this weekend. We do plan to go to the buffalo round-up in Montana next week... and then in two weeks, we'll be going on vacation to the Oregon Coast.

You know how we are... always ramblin' somewhere.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

With Every Letter - review

I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Sundin's Wings of Glory trilogy about brothers who fought in World War II. I was very excited when I heard about her new series, Wings of the Nightingale, featuring World War II nurses. I was even more excited when I had the chance to review the first one: With Every Letter. And it didn't disappoint!

You remember the movie You've Got Mail? It's one of my favorites, about "secret" pen pals who know each other in real life but don't know that's who they are writing to. With Every Letter has the same premise.

Here's the publisher's synopsis:
Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met–even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence–he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts? Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing–and true love.
The novel is well-written, well-researched, and a great story. Sarah Sundin has become one of my all-time favorite authors. I can't wait for her next book! I highly recommend this title and will be giving it 5 stars on Amazon.
Celebrate with Sarah by entering to win a eReader (winner's choice of Kindle Fire or Nook Color)!

See what folks are saying about With Every Letter!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire or Nook Color (winner’s choice)
  • Handmade With Every Letter First Aid Kit
  • With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 26th. Winner will be announced at the “With Every Letter” Author Chat Facebook Party on 9/27. Connect with Sarah, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of With Every Letter and join Sarah on the evening of the September 27th for a chance to connect with Sarah and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Eldorado Courier

My grandparents and their children moved away from Eldorado, Oklahoma in 1958. Many of our relatives still lived there, so my grandparents had a subscription to The Eldorado Courier (pronounced "Elda-ray-duh Coo-yer") to keep up with the happenings in their hometown. Sometimes Grandmother would include a clipping from the Courier in a letter to Mother when I was growing up.

When I walked into the Eldorado Historical Society Museum the other day, and saw the Courier masthead on the wall, I had my hopes up that I would be able to pore over the archives of the small town newspaper. I love family history and research.
One issue from 1929 was lying on the table. As you can imagine, the pages are very brittle and crumbly. I lifted the first page carefully and just peeked at the next page. I wondered where the other issues were. I hoped they were micro-filmed somewhere.

So I asked Mr. Goodin, the man who had opened the museum for us, if he knew where the archives were for the Courier. He knew exactly where they were. There was a door I hadn't noticed before just under the masthead (in the first picture). The archives are behind the door!
However, due to extreme brittleness of the paper, we wouldn't be able to take them out to look at them-- which is completely understandable. Mr. Goodin didn't know if they had ever been microfilmed or not. One of my cousins said he would try to contact the district library to find out, or to see about having it done.

I hope they are able to be preserved some way. After all, tidbits like this (from 1934) are just priceless...
...even if they did misspell Grandmother Ernesteen's name!

For more posts about vintage treasures visit Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Writer's Retreat

I'm not sure I dare admit that I spent this past weekend at a writer's retreat, because then I would have to admit that I've officially started my novel. That's exciting for me, but very scary at the same time because, you see, if I start it, I have to finish it, right? And if I finish it, you're probably gonna wanna read it, right? That's the scary part.

The hard part is the actual writing. I've been studying and practicing, and when it came time to put pen to paper fingers to keyboard I discovered how much more I still have to learn. However, I was extremely blessed that my friend and mentor, Susan Marlow, was also there. She basically took me by the hand and let me along step by step, reading, discussing, and critiquing as I went along. I can't tell you how invaluable her help and encouragement was.

I know I would have spent the weekend writing something if she hadn't been there, but I can pretty much guarantee you that I wouldn't have come away with the actual first chapter of my novel! It is very, very rough, and needs desperately to be fleshed out some more... so no, you can't read it yet.

The fun part is that I can't wait to see what happens to my character next, and who she might meet along the way. It's like reading a book, but even better, because I get to decide what happens.
So, okay, I'll admit it. I did spend the weekend writing. My work area was out on the deck in the shade of a big pine tree with a spectacular view of Loon Lake.

I could sure get used to an "office" like that!
Speaking of Susan, she's working on her third series of books for kids. I've told you before about her first series, Circle C Adventures, and then her spin-off series for younger readers, Circle C Beginnings. Her newest series is called Goldtown Adventures and will appeal more to boys. The first two books in the Goldtown series are already at the publisher. Book 1 is due out in November, and Book 2 in the spring. So she was working on Book 3 at the retreat.

It was a lot of fun to help her brainstorm ideas for her story... but I have no doubt at all that she was far more help to me than I was to her. Maybe I can pay it forward some day?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Home Demonstration Club Quilt

As far as I could tell, downtown Eldorado, Oklahoma only has two or three "inhabited" buildings. There is the community building, where we met for our family reunion Labor Day weekend... an apparently current insurance office... and across the street, the historical museum. All the other buildings are vacant.

For such a tiny, dying town, the museum is quite impressive and full of interesting artifacts from the pioneering days of the community. It is open by appointment only, but one of my cousins who lives there made arrangements for the man to open it for us the afternoon of the reunion.

The most exciting discovery (for me) was a quilt made by the Midway Community Home Demonstration Club back in 1934-1935. Each member embroidered her name on a block. It was folded on a quilt rack hanging on the wall. My grandparents lived in the Midway Community (out in the country) when they were teenagers. I remembered reading about the Home Demonstration Club meetings in Grandmother's diary which she kept in 1934 and 1935 as a senior in high school, so I was pretty sure she had worked on this very quilt.

The name showing on the display just happened to be "Liffa Shumaker"-- my great-grandmother.
 Pinned to the quilt, just below Mother Shumaker's block, was a list of the other names on it. "Ernesteen Shumaker" (Grandmother's maiden name) was on that list!
My cousin asked the man if we could possibly take the quilt down and unfold it, so we could see the other names. He kindly consented, and helped us with it.
 Mother recognized quite a few of the names on the quilt, as she was born about 5 or 6 years after this quilt was made, in the Midway Community, and lived there until she was 17.

And sure enough, there was Grandmother's square!
Another square of interest was Aunt Thelma's. She was Granddaddy's sister and also Grandmother's best friend when they were teenagers. She ended up marrying Grandmother's brother, so their children were double cousins with my mother and her siblings.
I love that it was a friendship quilt, so each person's square featured their name in their own handwriting.

I could have easily spent several days in this little building, poring over records and documents from earlier generations.

For more posts about vintage treasures visit Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tater Mountain

When we came to the turn-off for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma last Friday, Mother asked, "Do we want to take a detour and drive through there? We have plenty of time."

Uncle Carlton and I responded, "Yes!" in unison.

Mother wasn't quite sure it was the right road. "Yes, it is," Uncle Carlton assured her. "See those mountains off in the distance?"

"Where?" I wondered. I couldn't see any mountains. Oh, wait a minute, yes, I guess there were some hills off yonder.

As we got a little closer we decided to drive up Mount Scott. I vaguely remembered having gone up once when we were through there in the 1970s. The road went around and around. And around. And around some more. We finally got to the top for a view of the lake and the surrounding countryside. At not quite 2,500 feet it didn't seem like much of a mountain to me, but it was fun to drive up it.

"Wait till you see Tater Mountain!" I was told. "Carlton, do you remember Tater Mountain?"

"Of course, I remember Tater Mountain!" he said.

"I guess it's called Tea Cup now," she said. "I don't know when its name was changed."

"Why was it called Tater Mountain?" I wondered.

"Because it was shaped something like a sweet potato," was the reason.

I couldn't wait to see it.
 Later that evening we went for a drive in the countryside surrounding Eldorado (pronounced Elda-ray-duh by the locals). We first approached Tater Mountain from the east, with the sun beginning to set behind it.
 "It's not as big as I remember it being when we were kids," my mother said.

"Well, it's probably not as big," Uncle Carlton mused. "I'm sure the weather has worn it down some, and it looks like whoever put that fence on it carved some of it off."

So the shape changed, and they changed the name to Tea Cup? I dunno. If you squint at it just right you can sorta make out the original shape of a sweet potato... and now a tea cup. I guess.
It's probably hard to tell the size of it from the pictures, but just to give you an idea, the whole thing is just slightly larger than my house.
It does create a distinctive landmark from about a mile away.

And so, 60 years ago, it was known as Tater Mountain.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

I had intended to micro-blog all weekend so my family (at least) could follow along with my adventures. But "the best-laid plans of mice and men..." and all that. I hadn't realized there wouldn't be a very good cell signal in the remote little corner of south-western Oklahoma where i spent the better part of the weekend. I did have a wonderful time reconnecting with my extended family, appreciating once again the very special heritage I have, and realizing what a blessing it is to be descended from "good people."

My dad let me "adopt" his DSLR camera for the weekend. As I snapped hundreds of pictures of the desolate landscape and the various clusters of scrubby mesquite trees where this-relative-or-that's farm "used to be" I wondered what it was that drew my ancestors to the area to start with.

I have more to share (with pictures) later. I'm on my way home now, watching the sunset from the Denver airport. Thank you, Mother and Uncle Carlton for being my tour guides this week-end.

Tally of Relatives in Attendance (as they are related to me... not counting in-laws)

Mother - 1
Uncle - 1
Aunt - 1
Great-uncles - 3
First cousin -1
First cousins once-removed - 9
First cousins twice-removed - 2
Second cousins - 5
Second cousins once-removed - 6

And that was just a small representation of my extended family that I am personally acquainted with. I think that's kinda impressive.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon

The blue moon rising over Great-Aunt Kathryn's house, near Eldorado, Oklahoma last night. Granddaddy built this house in 1950.