Friday, March 06, 2015

Friends, Former Students and A Levy Coming Up

Thanks, Travis Mire, for taking the photo. 

There are hundreds of local graduates out there just like these folks whose lives, careers and contributions show the time-honored value of a great educational foundation provided by our Lake Pend Oreille School District.  

I look at these three and think also of a never-ending list of former students who are making a significant difference in this world, thanks to the basic skills, work ethic and pride they developed while attending our local public schools. 

Because I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with them yesterday, it seemed appropriate to use Kari, Jim and Jeralyn in this photo----putting faces to the local educational product and meant as a promotional tool for encouraging voters in our district to vote "Yes" in Tuesday's school district levy.

The levy is designed to maintain the status quo for general funding of staff, equipment, programs, maintenance, books, etc. 

The great news about two of these former students, pictured above, is that they're using their talents and their dedication for the betterment of our local students. 

One serves as a counselor (that would be Jeralyn on the right) and one works endless hours as a devoted volunteer who provides tremendous support to the counseling program at Sandpoint High School and to school district programs and activities in general (that would be Kari on the left).

Jim, in the middle, is my brother, an architect, now living in Oregon, who has designed countless buildings ranging from schools to high-end homes to office complexes----even a tasting room for a winery.  He lives in Oregon, but his work can be seen also in several communities around Western Montana.

His drafting class at Sandpoint High School with Ken Beaudoin during the 1980s provided him both inspiration and skills to move on to the University of Idaho College of Architecture. Nowadays, one of his classmates runs that same SHS drafting program.

Jeralyn has tremendous people skills as evidenced by her recent appearance on an Idaho Public TV panel discussing how Idaho students find their direction toward higher education, be it noted liberal arts colleges, the military, technology schools and vocational institutions. 

Many of the skills Jeralyn and Kari use today to benefit our local students were developed during their time spent as students in our district.  We are so fortunate that they, like so many other of our graduates,  return home to provide the same inspiration, motivation and general skills to other generations of local grads. 

In short, these people love Sandpoint, and they want the very best for all students who grow up in this community. 

Our public schools have historically and consistently strived for excellence in preparing local students to enter and to succeed in the big competitive world outside of Sandpoint. 

There's an abundance of proof in the pudding, and, as a former educator who keeps close track of her students and their successes, I can tell you that evidence of that success is nothing short of mind boggling. 

We can be proud that Sandpoint grads are able to reach for the stars and achieve big dreams. 

Their success evolves, in part, from the support they receive through hundreds of volunteers like Kari, professional guidance from school counselors like Jeralyn and through a cadre of excellent, talented teachers, classroom aides and visionary administrators.

I hope that on Tuesday, March 10 voters will continue to support the efforts of our school staffs and, more importantly, the potential for each of our students through a resounding "yes" vote. 

Our students from K-12 and their teachers deserve such an acknowledgement. 

Thank you for voting Tuesday and for passing the word. 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Thursday Throwbacks

My brother Jim is here for a few days, so, on this Throwback Thursday, I thought it would be appropriate to use one of his cartoons from a few years back.

Jim flew in from Oregon last night, so I drove into Spokane to pick him up. 

Twas a great night for spotting Sandpoint folks like Rose Clark, Mary Snedden and Mary McGovern and enjoying brief visits with each.  

Today Jim and I will join Jeralyn and Kari, so it also seemed appropriate to use a photo from a past early spring lunch gathering, which included another mutual friend, Colin. 

I'm liking Throwback Thursday more and more each week, as the search for sample shots often reminds me of interesting times locally and fun times with family and critters. 

The guy in the rain slicker above is Ty Pennington.  Remember him?  We used to see him every Sunday night on ABC's "Extreme Home Makeover."

A few years back, I spent a few days with my camera, snapping shots just off Baldy Road  when the Makeover crew came to Sandpoint to construct a house for a man and his two kids.

I don't think the situation worked out too well in the long run, but the project kept some lively activity going in the community during the week of construction.  

I guess we could match Throwback Thursday with a sub-feature:  Where Are They Now?

Anyone know any updates on the parties involved with Sandpoint's Extreme Makeover?

Ol' Annie Dog and young pup Kiwi back at the Great Northern Road farm.  Looks like our manure spreader served as a junk repository at the time this photo was taken.

I can see Rambo and Casey munching on hay in the background.  At this point, I think Kiwi is the only surviving member of our critter corral who made the move from the old farm to the Lovestead at Selle.  

Last night, on our way home from Spokane, Jim was talking about possibly going to San Antonio this year.  I told him he should definitely follow through on that plan and go see some of the haunts where our Mother inhabited during the years of her childhood spent in Texas.

One year, three generations of us met for dinner in San Antone, as some folks like to call it.  That would be me, Mother and two of her granddaughters, Annie and Laura.

Twas a great evening which brings a tear from my eye and a smile on my lips as I view this photo and reflect. 

Yup, here's part of today's lunch crowd, minus Colin.  He's got a birthday coming up in a few days.  Maybe we need to invite him, although I think the raucous quartet of Jeralyn, Kari, Jim and me will be enough craziness at Spud's today. 

Jim will replace Colin today at lunch.  He and Jeralyn have been friends forever, as both graduated with the Sandpoint High Class of 1982.

This shot was taken a few years back when our family went bike riding in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge near Bonners Ferry.  Maybe we'll have to schedule in a similar trip this weekend. 

We always dearly loved the times when our cute little Uncle Frenchy (my mother's brother) would come for visits.  I think this photo may have been taken over in Montana when he was visiting my brother Kevin.

That's Kevin's son Scott on the left and "Big Man" aka Willie at a time when he didn't look so big.  Uncle Frenchy was about as tall as Mother, maybe 5 foot 2. 

When we first moved to the Lovestead, the triplets helped Bill put a tree into the ground.  

I'm not sure if this one lived, but Justine, Grace and Jacob took the opportunity of adding something special to the earth very seriously, and I'm thinking they still do as seventh graders. 

My boys:  it was a rough month back in 2007 when I lost these two just weeks apart.  At the time, I said that I'd spent more time with them than with my human family.

Casey had just gotten his initiation into pulling my Amish cart, and Rambo, blind in both eyes, still led the pack when we'd go on rides.

They were pals, and some longtime horsemen even suggested that when Rambo died from an anneurism, Casey, lost without his pal, could have died of a broken heart.

They have markers down in the far pasture, and they'll never be forgotten in my lifetime.  Great horses. 

Finally, my Lily:  this was shortly after she arrived at the Lovestead via transport from Oklahoma. I like to call her my mail-order horse because I bought her based on a small polaroid photo sent to me by her owner.

She's 10 now, and a lot of that bay color has turned white.   She's still a pretty attractive big gal and maybe not quite as ornery as she was when she first came.

I noticed also that her owner's "bay" hair has turned a little grayer.

And so, that seems like enough throwbacks for this Thursday.  I sure have enjoyed myself putting this group together and reflecting on each.

Hope you enjoy too.  Happy Thursday. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

S.O.L.E. in the Schweitzer Sunshine

My sister Laurie's fifth graders hit the fine-weather jackpot for their outdoor education experience at Schweitzer yesterday.  

I don't know what else to say in regard to the photo above except:  that great big sun over Lake Pend Oreille, taken from the Schweitzer Road, truly reflects how great the school day spent outside their normal classroom turned out to be. 

It was a day with S.O.L.E. in the Schweitzer sunshine.  S.O.L.E. stands for Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education. 

The mission statement on the organization's website reads:  We provide transformational experiences that empower our participants to become active learners and responsible stewards of their community and its environment!

Explore > Achieve > Lead. It's what we do.

Among its many outdoor learning-based experiences aka experiential education, S.O.L.E. is working with school district fifth graders this year.  

Under guidance from founder Dennison Webb, the students learned a few basic principles for their day of learning on snowshoes just above the Schweitzer Mountain Resort community fire station. 

The day's basic rules included taking care of self, of others, of resources and community. 

Along with the learning fun in the sun came high expectations for behavior, respect and a work ethic.

In the exploration phase, students honed their observation skills by looking for examples of items collected in a plastic bag and passed around for them to inspect with their senses of sight, smell, taste and touch. 

The trip up the trail on what was for most their maiden snowshoeing experiences included several stops to inspect and analyze tracks in the snow, lichen, needles and bark on trees,etc.  

Then came the real work:  dig and prepare an rectangular area for testing snow composition.  Dennis showed them methods for efficient shoveling, probing and preparing the spot for some later lab work with snow kits. 

While sit spots were being prepared, students took time out to go to another spot, sit down and reflect about animals that might inhabit that area.

They learned how to analyze the snowpack through feel, close microscopic inspection of crystals and snow temperature of different layers. 

This year's snowpack is minimal compared to past years, and it's dry, hard and cold.  

The outdoor activity included a variety of skills, observations and analyses.  And, as a former teacher, I'd say it was an A-plus day for learning and doing so in an A-plus plus environment. 

Our students are truly fortunate to have a program like S.O.L.E. to complement their normal classroom learning. 

I very much enjoyed helping out, and I'm sure the students will remember the day and maybe even most of what they learned as they trudge onward through their educational journey. 

Speaking of trudging, they did okay for their first time on snowshoes. 

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed being there to snap them.  

Thanks, Laurie.  Thanks, Dennison and Hank.  And, thanks, students, for a fun day. 

To learn more about S.O.L.E., you can visit   

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Crispy Cold Tuesday

Early posting this morning, as I'll be on my way up to Schweitzer in a while.  The school activity will definitely require some extra layers of clothes and a pair of gloves on this cold day.  

We're hovering just above 20 degrees here on the flats, but I'm thinking it will be at least ten degrees colder up on the mountain. 

It should be a fun day with the camera and the student activities, although yesterday's picture taking turned out kinda fun with my buddies as we walked the woods, the fields and the barnyard area. 

Over in Meserve's field, several robins were out and picking away at the dirt piles left by the gophers.  Must have been some good eating over there as the birds didn't get too concerned as I stepped closer with my camera. 

I think robins establish a definite pecking order when it's feeding time.  They keep themselves spaced out but move as a unit combing the ground for treats wherever they happen to be.  

I've noticed this especially in our lawn area as the ground warms up and worms start hanging out closer to the surface. 

It would be nice to know if we have some of the same robins every year.  I think we must. If only I could interview them, I could learn a lot more about where they hang out in the winter and why our annual visitors pick our place as their summer residence. 

This area definitely is Robinville, and I like that.

The dogs were having a great time racing around and playing with their toys in the woods yesterday.  

Thanks to the dry surface, I actually got down and lay on the ground at their level to snap some photos.  I noticed later that all the doggie romping around my face and camera played a little havoc with my lens as little spots showed up on some of the photos.

Still, the pictures turned out to be fun. 

The stop sign in the photos is next to a rather bumpy Baily Road on the north side of a large field at the base of the mountains west of Colburn.  

After getting some gas at Samuels Store, I turned off on the road,  looking for photos. For an instant, the sun tried to peek through the snow clouds just as I pulled up to the sign.  

On down the road was another stop sign with no intersection.  Still, I stopped and moved on a bit to another homemade stop sign.  Time to turn around, I surmised. 

We did have a bit of spitting snow yesterday, and maybe we'll see a heavier coat at Schweitzer.  Down here, though, it disappeared and brought on this crisp, clear and cold Tuesday.  

We'll bundle up for a couple of days and then welcome shirt-sleeve weather by the weekend.  Typical March.  

Happy Tuesday.   

Monday, March 02, 2015

Early Spring Seens

I saw in a Facebook post yesterday that a group had ascended Scotchman Peak over the weekend. Is that unheard of in winter time?  Maybe so.  It surprised me to see their collection of neat photos. 

Scotchman Peak, at 7,009 feet is the highest point in Bonner County.   Ongoing efforts have been in motion for several years to protect the peak and an area of peaks around it along the Idaho Montana border through a wilderness designation. 

Scotchman and Lake Pend Oreille---courtesy photo from

I climbed to the top once with Bill and friends, only to meet  head-on with a blustery winter-type storm on July 3 back in the early 1980s.  With no visibility offering anything like the view in the photo above to reward us and with ice cold, numb hands, we ate a quick sack lunch and descended. 

So, to imagine a group climbing Scotchman on a crystal clear day in February offers another "Wow" factor to the unusual springlike month in 2015 that offered so many unusual outdoor opportunities. 

People are riding horses and bikes and hitting the mountain trails. Yesterday I saw a note on Facebook about a plan for a group of women's hikers to go up the Mickinnick Trail which winds its way up Greenhorn Mountain northwest of Sandpoint. 

Early spring continues to abound in early March----a month, which in the past few years has dished out our biggest helping of winter.  The deer, which usually stay away until sometime in April, are starting to show up in farmers' fields.   I saw two across the road while getting this morning's paper.

Yesterday, Annie and I drove out to Gamblin Lake southeast of Sandpoint and pulled into the Wildlife Management area where a gentleman, his family and their two adorable labs had just wrapped up a morning of fishing from his boat.  He could have done some ice fishing, but more than half the lake has thawed. 

During our brief stay there, we walked the trail and Annie found a geocache.  It was apparent that much work needs to be done to clear out last summer's violent storm blowdowns as trees lay scattered all different directions. 

Later in the afternoon I saw a pair of geese just off Center Valley Road.  I think they're the same pair who inhabited a nearby temporary pond last year.  

This week we'll be up to the mid-50s with more lovely weather.  

While we are delighting in dry ground and spring activities, my brother who lives near Tacoma, has headed to the south land to enjoy the sun and warm weather for a couple of months. 

Most of his driving toward Houston, though, has been through snow.  This morning on Facebook, he described Post, Tex., in one of his photos as a neat little town.  

Bill, the kids and I went through there and even stopped in Post (named for the cereal guy, as Mike noted) back in the early summer of 1980 when the Texas heat wave was making the news.  

That was before we had air conditioning in the car, and it was also the onset of convenience stores as we know them.  Annie had just gotten over the chickenpox, but on the trip, her pox became infected, due to the extreme heat. 

Her head with thin toddler hair wasn't too purty as those pox oozed and matted up her locks.  So, we stopped in Post, went to the hospital where a doctor looked her over and prescribed some medicine and then headed on our way.  

That was a trip of many stops at convenience stores to get some ice and to enjoy a few minutes of storewide air conditioning before returning to that hot car and traveling another 40 or so miles to the next convenience store.

It took us five days to get through Texas on that trip. The doctor's treatment worked,  as Annie's pox soon cleared up, but Bill is still mad at that doctor who charged us twice.

Anyway, Mike and his wife Mary liked Post, but they really enjoyed eventually getting out of the snow-covered roads of Texas. Maybe spring will soon show up there like it has in North Idaho. 

Looking ahead here at home, I will get a little taste of winter tomorrow when I slip on some snowshoes.  My sister's fifth graders are going to the fire station area up at Schweitzer to learn about water levels on an experiential education outing.  I'm told there's still enough snow up there to require footgear other than tenny runners. 

The nice part:  we can pretend winter and after a few hours come back down the mountain and continue to enjoy our unusual spring. 

Happy Monday.