Friday, October 7, 2016

Dolly's Green Tomato Relish

Dan's sister gave me this recipe that had been her Mother's recipe.

Dolly's Green Tomato Relish

6 pints green tomatoes
3 pints of ground cabbage
3 onions ground
3 red and 3 green peppers ground or (can substitute 3 red tomatoes for the 3 red peppers)
1/2 cup salt, stir into mixture soak overnight.  Drain well.

3 pints vinegar (white)
3 pints sugar
1/2 cup mustard seed (It was cheaper to buy bulk at the Health Store.)
1 tsp clove
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together pour over tomato mixture.  Cook for 1/2 hour.

Seal in water bath for 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 14 pints.

Memories:  Dan said he can remember his Mom making it when he was young.  Patsy gave me the recipe in October 2006.

Georgine's Tomato Relish

My Mom's friend Georgine gave this recipe to my Mom about 1967.  I can remember Mom making it.  Seeing it drain.  Hearing the jars pop.

Tomato Relish

Step 1

  • 14 lbs ripe tomatoes - Skald and skim
  • 6 green peppers chopped no seeds
  • 6 red peppers chopped no seeds
  • 3 hot peppers chopped no seeds
  • (Put all in food grinder)
  • 8 large onions chopped fine
  • 3/4 very scant cup of salt
Step 2:  Hang in bag over night.

Step 3:  In morning taste drippings if too salty add water in bag to drip.

Step 4:  Heat together
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 5 cups vinegar (prefer cider vinegar)
  • then add
  • 3 oz mustard seed
Mix well, then add to first mixture above.  Stir for awhile.  Seal hot.

*We got it to salty once and we added a cup of cold water and let it drain and it was alright.  Try tasting the juice.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Finding Community In Unlikely Places

Zortman is a small community in North Central Montana.  It is a historic mining community, and a living ghost town.  Many of the residents left when the mine shut down in 1997.  The remaining residents have grit and endurance.  

Zortman and the nearby community of Landusky were named after the original miners, who found gold on the Fort Belknap Reservation in the late 1800's.  In 1895 the tribes faced starvation and signed the Grinnell Agreement, selling the gold laden land to the US government.  The Zortman-Landusky Mine was the first cyanide heap-leach gold mine in the US.  The Pegasus mine closed in 1997.

Environmental issues such as cyanide spills, and other violations bring legal action.  Read more here at the High County News, The rise and fall of a gold mining company. (Dec 22, 1997). To read more about the Environmental issues and Native lands go here.

Zortman is listed as a ghost town.  I think of it as a functioning ghost town.  It sports the Buckhorn store; US Post Office; The Miners Club Bar and Cafe; Zortman Garage and Motel; and RV Park and has an active religious community.

The Zortman Garage and Motel is owned by John and Candy Kalal.  We met Candy Friday night when we checked in.  The motel is clean and cozy.  In front of the motel you will find many chairs and small tables.  It reminded me of the old verandas where folks gathered to visit.  Like many rural Montana communities cell coverage and internet service is temperamental.  I soon realized I could get signal outside my room.  So I took my computer and went and enjoyed the autumn sunshine.

Folks working and staying at the motel would stop and say hello.  I enjoyed catching the conversations taking place as people worked and visited.  I felt welcomed and included in their friendly banter.

My husband and another couple went riding their ATV's up the mountain.  That afternoon I headed for the Charles M Russell National Wildlife Refuge to watch the elk at Slippery Ann.

I was there about an hour went I decided to head back to the motel (about 25 miles).  I headed up the road and found a turn around and headed back to Zortman.  As I headed down the hill I met Mike and his wife in their Duely.

Mike said, "We left Danny at the Motel he had a Crash, but he's ok."

More conversation and I headed back quite concerned.

As I drove I replayed the morning conversations that I had overheard.  Somewhere I thought someone said something about being a nurse.  When I arrived back at the motel I saw Cindy and asked if she was the nurse.

"No, but there is an EMT."

I told her Dan had rolled his ATV.  My husband was a bit surprised as a roomful of people descended on him.  He was under the covers, "bare assed naked".  I quickly explained that there was an EMT and I wanted them to take a look at him.

Even though everyone firmly suggested getting checked out at the hospital in Malta I could not convince him to go.  Mike and his wife, Candy and her husband and many others stopped to check on Dan and see what he needed.  Candy brought him Tiger Balm and John brought him ice.  Many people stopped introduced themselves and then asked if there was anything we needed.  The next morning we met a few more folks.  It was amazing the sense of community that was at the little motel.

Dan said,  "the 4 wheeler "rared up" and went - end over end - as I went off the side. "

Dan told me he wend end over end a few times.  Felt his head hit the rocks as he rolled over, and remembered feeling the rocks dig into his side.

When the dust settled the 4 wheeler was at the bottom and he was on the side of the mountain.
He had jumped off his four wheeler as it somersaulted down the steep mountain.  He drove his ATV back to the motel.  It looked a little bent and beaten up.  Mostly it looked sad.

When I examined him he sported some scrapes and cuts and did not appear to have any broken bones. Thankfully he has a hard head.

I believe the angels were watching and protecting the three of them.   I also believe that when he goes riding they call in reinforcements.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cloudy Crystal Ball

Sometimes my coworkers make me shake my head.  My crystal ball has been a little cloudy lately.  I didn't see this coming.

Earlier this year our school counselor and I spoke.  I asked her if she had any books that she wanted in the library.

"Yes", she did.

"Send me your list."

"Yes, I will."

Fast forward to today.  I took the secretary a copy of my last book order.

"Here is what I spent.  It is the last one for the year."

The counselor was standing by the secretary's desk.

The counselor, "Remember when we talked about the books I wanted for the library?"


"Can you order them?"

Shaking my head, "I just finished spending this year's budget."

"Oh never mind then."

"If you send me your list I will put it on next year's order."

"Yes, I will."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wrong Number

I was reading Missives from Missouri's post about a wrong number.  My mind began to recall wrong number calls over the years.  One of those calls stands out in my mind even though it happened a quarter of a century ago.

I was home from college and it was about 9:30 at night.  The phone rang.  I answered it.  The lady on the other end said, "I need help, I've fallen and I can't get up."

I tried to ask her name and her voice began to fade.  I quickly refocused and asked her where she was.

Her response, "I'm at my house."

Worry and frustration made me firmly ask her for her address.  Was there a family member or neighbor I could call?

"No.  I'm all alone."

"Can't you come?"

"How will I get in?"

"Oh I never lock the back door."

Then I hear the phone fall.

We lived in a small town.   I quickly found the house and went in.  Calling to her as I entered the house.  I found her laying on the floor near the bed.  I realized that I couldn't lift her by myself.  So she told me to call the fire station.

While we waited, I asked her who she had been calling when she got me.

"I was calling my minister.  But I couldn't misdialed the number."

The EMTs at the local firehouse came.  They knew her.  She had called them before.  Gently they lifted her into bed.  Wished her a good-night as they left.

I have often thought of her and the night she called the wrong number.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dark Prose

I recently saw these three lines in a card game.  How could I use them in a poem?  A character sketch.

The devil himself.
Children on leashes
Dark and mysterious forces beyond our control

Here is my lead.

Demonic deeds
Discouraging, deadly, depraved
Dark and mysterious force

There was an older blue Ford with out of state plates parked at the edged of the playground.  The man sat watching, occasionally his phone could be seen in his hands.

Children running back and forth, swinging, laughing.

His eyes followed.  Orbs so dark I felt entombed when he looked at me.    The stench of animal decay seemed to ooze out of the open window.  Hurrying my mind tried to brush away fetid breath of the soulless one.

Memories of another time shifted around me.  Screams of despair linger and cling to me.  Who will dance with the devil tonight?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Who Am I?

I love the back stories of people and books.  I thought for this post I would create a list of clues.

Can you discover who I am?  Leave your prediction in the comments and then click on the link for the answer.

Clue 1:   During World War II, I was a flying ace.

Clue 2:  I wrote books for adults as well as children.

Clue 3:  I was born in Wales.

Clue 4:  During World War II I was a spy for MI6.

Clue 5:  I was named after a Norwegian national hero.

Clue 6:  I was very tall, 6 foot 6 inches.

Clue 7:  My children's books are said to have dark comic elements.

Clue 8:  I attended Repton School in Derbyshire.

Clue 9:  I helped develop the WDT valve  to help my child who had secondary hydrocephalus.

Clue 10:  I dreamt of being praised by Mr. Cadbury.

Remember go put your prediction in the comment section.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Chocolate Bunnies, a Family Comedy in Three Parts

I admit I was unabashedly eavesdropping in the grocery store today.   I was coming down an aisle when I noticed a a family vignette, Papa, 4 year old brother, and sister (probably a 1st grader).  Sister was sitting in the cart.

Sister:  "I don't like the ones with peanut butter."

Brother - grabbing a bunny and putting it in the cart.

Sister - "No that one has peanut butter."

Papa retrieves the box and puts it back on the shelf.

Brother has moved on to another box.  In it goes into the cart.

Sister reads the box and says, " No that one has peanut butter."

Papa picks a bunny from the shelf reads the labels and checks the sale price while retrieving the bunny in the basket.

Brother chooses a different colored box puts it in the basket.  Sister again sees the offending peanut butter on the box.  Sister again vetoes it.

Brother says. "How do I know what it says?"

 Papa takes the box and shows him the picture of a jar of peanut butter.

Then says "This one is for dipping it would work."

Sister firmly states, "I don't want the ones with peanut butter. I want one of the others."

Papa tiring a bit says, "Well what do you expect when your 4 year old brother tries to shop for his sister."

Brother chooses another, Papa grabs it before it reaches the basket.

Papa:  "Buddy, this one has Crispies in it.  You don't like these."

Again the rabbit goes back on the shelf.   Papa is reading the sizes and prices and finally finds what he is looking for.  Success in the basket goes the bunnies!

Papa is beaming on having achieved a victory!

I am trying very hard to keep a straight face as I watch the comedy routine.  I am about to leave when the play continues.

Papa, "Now we need to get some for the neighbors."

Brother "Lets get them the same ones we got."

Papa, "I'm not spending that much money on the neighbors that I'm spending on you."

Brother watches as Papa chooses some large bunnies from the shelf and in the cart they go.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the performance, I tell him how impressed I was with how he handled the whole shopping experience.  From the corner of my eye I notice brother putting another bunny in the cart.

Friday, March 25, 2016


One of the places I am investigating for our trip is the International Spy Museum .  Their blog for March features women spies .  An image with a short description is included for each lady spy.

Two of my favorites are Julia Child and Josephine Baker.  Who knew the famous chef worked in the spy industry during WWII?  Julia Child developed a shark repellent while she worked for the Office of Strategic Services.  When asked about being a spy she is quoted as saying, “I was not a spy, only a lowly file clerk.”   She received an Emblem of Meritorious Civilian for her work.  I'm guessing she was more than a clerk.

Josephine Baker was a dancer who left the United States because of racism.  During WWII she was part of the French Resistance.  Her sheet music was often covered with messages written in invisible ink.  She received the Medal of Resistance for her counterintelligence work.

The song "Secret Agent Man" - Johnny Rivers 1966  keeps running through my mind.  These short vignettes make me want to know about the many stories still waiting to be told.

Here is a question to chew on.  What children's author was a British spy during World War II?


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Re-visiting the Past

Would you travel with 40 teenagers (boys and girls) on a greyhound bus for over 30 days?  Would you do it if it was only you one other adult and the driver?

Today I would tell you NOT NO But H... NO!

In 1973 I was one of 40 teenage 4-Hers that traveled from Idaho to Washington, DC and home again.  We spent a week in Washington DC for 4-H Club Congress.  Along the trip we stopped at many monuments, historic places, etc.  And yes we only had two chaperones and the bus driver.

I have vivid memories from that trip.  This summer I will be able to see some of those places again.  My husband has traveled many of those roads as a truck driver but never had the opportunity to stop and see things.  My s-daughter and sister-in-law have never been to this area of the country.

I have been trying to make a huge list of must see places.  We have made reservations along the way with a general idea of where we are going.  But now each person will need to look at the places and events and pick several that they really want to do.  then we will fill in our trip with other things as time allows.

Friends have been sharing places and things they have done.  Angela told me that she and her husband attended weekend events at Embassy Row.  Each participating Embassy allows visitors to see their embassy, here music and sample food.  Some are free and others charge a nominal fee,

This is what I found after researching it a bit.  
I have not been back to most of these places since I was 15.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Planning For Summer Vacation

When I was younger I often dreamed of being a writer.  In my dreams I wrote novels like the ones I enjoyed reading.  In 2009 I participated in the National Writing Project at Laurel, Montana.  This was a watershed event in my life and my teaching.  It was also the first concrete step to making my dream of being a writer real.

My next milestone was participating in the Slice of Life Challenge in 2010.  I gained confidence.  I wrote for a real audience.  This challenge is something I do for myself.  Each year I grow as a teacher and a writer.  It has been my great joy to become on-line friends with some of the slicers.  As I read other slicers work I am inspired and challenged to try new things.  It is a safe place to take risks.

I have not written the great American Novel as I imagined.  Instead I write non-fiction.  I have written many pieces for the Montana Historical Society.  My Hazel Hunkins unit that I wrote for the Montana Historical Society was picked up on the Chronicling America page under Extra! Extra!

Several years later I became part of a team that was involved with an outreach training program from the Library of Congress.  We worked with their amazing team in Denver.

My writing has merged with my research interest and my love of history.  Each opportunity has helped hone my writing and my presentation skills.  This spring I was nominated for the Gilder Lehrman 2015 Montana History Teacher of the Year award.  I was walking on air when I learned I was the winner.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History offers Teacher Seminars during the summer.  This is the 2016 offerings .  The session I am going to this summer is "The Era of George Washington".

They also sponsor the "Dear George Washington Contest" for K-5 students, .

My family will drive me out to Mount Vernon so I can attend the session.  We plan to do some site seeing along the way.  Then they will return home and I will fly back when the session is over.

I think it is tradition when school begins to have at least one writing exercise about "Summer Vacation".  This year I will be bringing back some wonderful stories about our country, our history and our opportunities.  Yes I can hardly wait to write "What I did on my summer vacation."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wish List Poem

A Rescue Dog's Wishlist 

Let me be loved
be cuddled and petted,
be well fed, an occasional juicy bone.
let my new family take me with them
play ball with me 
rub me belly and behind my ears

Don't let me stay alone
let me be surrounded by love
Don't leave me chained and abandoned
Don't push me away when I want to love you

Let me have lots of pets and pats
kibble ping-ing as it hits my dish
Laughter when my nose nudges a knee

Cold fresh water
As I lap , cool water splashes my tongue 
a soft bed to sleep on
better yet sharing my people bed

Let me be loved.

 time pick one or two of the words you really like and write a completely new sentence about your teacher using them.

What Did I Just See?

I confess, I people watch.  I sometimes concoct a back story for them.  I sometimes just observe and file away to people the novel I have never started.  Sometimes I just watch and I am amazed at reality  my imagination could never compete with.

24th is a very busy street with roads leading to collections of box stores.   You will often see pan-handlers working these side roads as people wait for the traffic light to change.

Yesterday I saw him.  He was about 5'6, with a six pack that was dropping to his belly.  He wore a dark grey fedora.  Short blue polo shirt, dark pants.  Carrying a small cardboard sign.  He kept trying to make eye contact with the drivers as he paraded back and forth.

 But it was the sign that made me do a double take.  The sign read "Sugar Mama Wanted".

Out of curiosity I really wanted to ask if he had ever used that line before and how successful he was with it.  Common sense kept the window rolled up.

This mental snapshot goes in my album of audacious characters, right next to the burly man who carried a sign that said "Retired pole dancer, too honest to steal, to lazy to work."  And the man who's sign said, "I'm thirsty, I just want a beer."

Yep you can't make this stuff up.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Google Doodle Contest

The National Winner of the Doodle for Google Contest

This years theme was “What Makes Me… Me.”   As I looked at the winning drawings I thought what a great idea.  I also thought it would be great to pair it with a writing.   This was what Akilah Johnson had to say about her drawing.  The quote she connects with her drawing is ‘Be the type of person [who] not only turns heads, but turns souls.’ 
I thought about what she drew and why she included each symbol.  Then I tried to deconstruct her work so that other students would have some guidelines.

- 6 symbols
- people of influence
- heritage/cultural influences
  • designs
  • colors
  • images
This young woman created an amazing piece of art.  I'm guessing we may be hearing more from her in the future.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Celebrate the Small Miracles

I went to Miles City today about 300 miles round trip, to check on the rental.  Got there to discover that my renters had moved out still owing back rent.  I did a cursory inspection noting what would have to be repaired before it could be rented.  The house had been cleaned.

I left feeling over whelmed.  My heart sank because I knew I would have to hire the work done and I would need to find someone who would even do it.  The last time I tried to find someone locally they were booked 2 years in advance.

Then I would need to advertise and make arrangements to drive down and show the house to prospective renters.  I began a mental inventory of what we would need to do.

Discouraged I headed home.  My heart reminded my head to give thanks and praise for this situation. So I did.

When I got to Billings I headed for McDonald's to pick something up for my hubby (he's been under the weather).  As I reached for the phone.  My voice mail came on.  Someone was calling about renting the house.  When I called him back - he's a former contractor and will fix the door.

Meeting him and his family on Friday.  His brother worked with one of the renters so they knew the house was vacant.  I will have to ask how they found my number.

I'm reminded I need to celebrate all the small miracles.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shadows Hiding

Seeking Me

My shadow wears
A torn and raggedy coat
Shoelaces hanging from scuffed shoes
White kid gloves
Her hair is like the old gray mare
Springing like imps escaping hell
My shadow is a a prisoner
Locked in an ivory tower
Pining for her furry friends

Hiding among the ruins.

Poem created with on line poetry generator.
- See more at:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Goth-O-Matic Poetry,

Feeling lost and a little sorry for myself, I was perusing some poetry sites.   I found one titled Got-O-Matic Poetry

This is what I created.

Dark Betrayal

Around, all around, the mourners gather
My dread grows as the stoke of falls against my naked soul.
It slays me, and darkly my
essence drips
to the swirling dust.
In a frenzy I cry out
while Death's shadow laughs cruelly.
Now alone, my soul falls upon darkened eyes

This is death,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

St Patty's Day In Montana

The weather forecast says 60% chance of snow flurries on March 17th.  Yes snow.  February was so nice and warm some days getting up to 70 degrees.  I haven't worn my coat since early January.

Longterm Montanans will tell you wait 5 minutes and the wether will change.

Back in the 80's I was living in Bozeman and attending college.  I remember I wore my down coat to watch the 4th of July fireworks, because their was snow flurries. Billings usually averages about 10 inches of snow during the month of March.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

He Lost His Fight

Tank (left) Max (right)
Max lost his fight yesterday, 3-14-16.  I came home at lunchtime to try and feed him and give him water.  He refused both.  We called the vet to make arrangements.  When I got home from school my husband told me he was gone.  I miss him.

Dan got Max at the TA Truck Stop in Amarillo, Tex  February 2002.  We figured he had been born late November or early December.  A fellow driving around the Truck Stop was advertising over the CB radio that he had pups for sale.  When Dan left the truck stop he called to the guy.  The fellow put Max in his arms, collected his $25.00 and away they went.

He told me later that he never even saw the other pups.  Later that day Dan asked how to get rid of ticks and fleas.  I told him not to get any flea collars because he would never get them out of the truck.

He was very smart and loved kids.  One time a friend and her grandchildren came to visit.  The kids and Max played until it was time for them to leave for the movie.  They brought Max into the house.  He cried and cried.  He wanted to continue playing.  When I wouldn't let him out he stood up and put both paws around the doorknob.  Mimicking what he had observed he tried to turn the knob.  Fortunately for me the door sticks and you have to pull as you turn.  The next day he figured out how to open the sliding glass doors to the backyard.  He then went on to teach all of our dogs as they came into our life how to do it.

I put padlocks on the gates to keep him in he was my escape artist.  And yesterday he made his final escape.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

And Trust

Max my furry friend is still fighting.  I was hoping we would see a quick improvement.  He is still so weak.  But tonight I have a sense of peace.  I was reminded to but my burdens in HIS hands.

Today I have been reading two books.  Both very different.  The 1st is "Yellowstone Kelly" The Memoirs of Luther S. Kelly - Edited by M.M. Quaife.  The 2nd is the Manifestation Process by John Randolph Price.

As I read the Yellowstone Kelly Book, he was a scout in the Montana Territory after the Civil war until the 1880s. Kelly describes many of the areas that he was traveling through.  It gave me a thrill when I recognized the areas from his descriptions.

It was interesting to see his perspective of the Nez Perce conflict.  Kelly was one of Gen Miles scouts that tracked the Nez Perce.

The other book is basically a prayer and meditation exercise book.  It is one of my treasured books.  I was reminded that I need to trust in HIS love.  It is really hard for me to let go and trust.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Celebrating Pi Day, 3-14

Pi Day - 3.14
It is a fun day to celebrate Math and Mathematicians and of course pie.  First there's cherry, blueberry, chocolate silk, pizza pie, and the list like Pi goes on forever.  

My book of choice for Monday is "Enemy Pie" by Derek Munson.    His website is pretty cool .  Check out the lesson plans for teachers.   The Blog Teach With Picture Books is terrific.

One of my all time favorite sites is WritingFix with Corbett Harrison so here are the two sites

Now if you have never read the story please join me via YouTube to listen to the story  Here is the video.

I even found a recipe for Kool-Aid pie

"Exploring Nevers with Special Spinning Spiders" in a Never Poem

I found the instructions for writing a "Never" poem at WriteShop .  I am convinced that my students would have lots of fun with this form of poetry.  Here is my poem.

Exploring Nevers with Special Spinning Spiders
    • I would never eat spumoni flavored spaghetti.
    • I would never wear sparkly spinach colored speedos.
    • I would never buy spindly, spiky, sponges.
    • I would never speak to Sparky Spears while spinning and sputtering.
    • I would never sprint through spooky spider spheres.
    • I would always like to think of spring sprinklers spinning in spacious space.
    • I promise I will never spill sparkly, smelly, spumoni flavored spaghetti.
Find the directions here:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We Were Able to Bring Max Home From the Vet

Max our Boxer Cross has not been eating.  I have tried everything.  He would take a little when I hand fed him.  Our regular vet was booked for the next two weeks.  Dan made some phone calls and we got in to a different vet this afternoon.

They did an x-ray and blood work.  Discovered that he has an irritated gallbladder,  elevated liver enzymes and white counts.  They gave him an anti-nausea shot and antibiotics.   We will know more in the morning.  But tonight I have hope that our 14 year old furry family member will recover and be with us longer.

For tonight I celebrate hope.

This morning he is doing a little better.  Still not eating much though.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mystery Writing Prompt, SOLSC #10

This is the prompt I am using for my next 5 minute write.

He looked behind him then whispered, “This key fits the third door.” He handed it to me then walked away, disappearing into the crowd.  

I looked at the key.  Silvery in color with some tarnish, an old skeleton key.  The kind that opened old doors on houses.  I looked up to see the man who had handed it to me.  He was being swallowed by the crowd.

If a policeman asked me to describe him what could I tell them?  About 50, balding, toughs of gray around his ears.  Sunglasses, beige jacket, brown pants scuffed shoes.  He spoke in a rough whisper.  about 5' 7" with a paunch.


I looked at the key.  He pushed the silvery in color with some tarnish, an    the tarnished skeleton key into my hand.  

He looked behind him then whispered, “This key fits the third door.”

The kind that opened old doors on housesOld keys, old doors? 

I glanced up only to see  seeing only his retreating back to see the man who had handed it to me.  hoping to ask questHe was being  as the crowd swallowed him.

If a policeman asked me to describe him  for a description, what could I tell them?  About 50, balding, toughs steel gray hair, receding hairline. around his ears.  Sunglasses, beige jacket, brown corduroy pants, scuffed shoes.    Stood about 5' 7" with a paunch. A low gravelly voice.

I decided to do a final rewrite.

He pushed the tarnished skeleton key into my hand.  

Looking behind him he whispered, “This key fits the third door.”

Old keys, old doors?   I glanced up seeing only his retreating back as the crowd swallowed him.

If a policeman asked for a description, what could I tell them?  About 50, steel gray hair, receding hairline.   Sunglasses, beige jacket, brown corduroy pants, scuffed shoes.    Stood about 5' 7" with a paunch. A low gravelly voice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Unusual Occupations for a Character, SOLSC #9

I was looking at a worksheet to flesh out characters that I found called "Quick Character Creations"   One of the sections inspired the following list of unusual occupations, some of them no longer exist.  Others have become more modernized.

I remember pictures of my uncle, his brothers and dad driving logs down the Columbia River.  He told me that he was about five the first time he and his twin went with their dad.  While looking for things for this list I found some interesting photos.

The possibilities.


1. Snake milkers
2.  Professional cuddler
3.  Professional mourner  
4.  Iceberg mover
5.  Dog surfing instructor
6.  Face feelers - "sensory scientists"
7.  Olfactory testing perfumer
8.  Taste tester
9.  Master Distiller
10. Chimney Sweeps (has been modernized)
11.  Drover (Moves Cattle or Sheep and for a period of time turkeys)
12.  Hatters
13.  Lapidaries
14.  Match Makers
15.  Quarrymen

These occupations no longer exist

1. Telegraph Operator
2.  Breaker Boys (Young boys hired to break coal into smaller pieces)
3.  Ice Delivery Man
4.  Rag and Bone Man (junk collector buy and sells)
5.  Moonshine Runner
6.  Log Drivers "river hogs"
7.  Bowling Alley Pinsetter
8.  Human Alarm Clock
9.  Ice cutter
10.  Telephone operators
11.  Switchboard operators
12.  Rat catcher
13.  Lamp lighter
14.  Resurrectionists (Body snatchers)
15.  Lector who entertained factory workers by reading to them.
16.  Daguerreotypists
17.  Hemp dresser or "hackler"

Monday, March 7, 2016

What's Going On In This Picture? SOLSC #8

After looking closely at the image above, think about these three questions:
  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?
Now leave a comment with what your think.

This exercise was inspired by the NY Times Educational Blog weekly feature " What's Going On In This Picture." and one of their partner's Visual Thinking Strategies 

Once you've left a comment with your thoughts come back here to read more about the photograph that can be found in the New York Public Library collection.  Two Nerdy History Girls 

I often use this activity with the picture books I read to my students.

5 Minute Free Write Prompt - The Nightmare, SOLSC #7

I came across a post today from 31 days of 5 minute free writes then came upon this writing prompt: Describe a real made-up dream or nightmare.  So today I am going to take the challenge of a 5 minute writing prompt.

"The house was dark as I walked to the back.I searched for the light switch. The strong odor of mice rippled through the air  pummeled me.  I could hear Scurrying feet, cardboard boxes moving.  I found the switch.  Then I saw them. A grey waterfall flowing cascading from the shelves to the floor. Squeaking as they ran for new shelter.  I could hear chirps and scratches among the boxes of food.  "

Hm I thought I would be able to write more in 5 minutes.


I groped for the light switch.  The strong odor of mice pummeled me.  Scurrying feet, scratching across cardboard boxes moving shifting.  Finally, I found the switch and flipped it.  Then I saw them. As my eyes adjusted, movement caught my attention.  A grey waterfall cascading from the shelves to the floor.  Squeaking and scratching they ran for shelter.  


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Celebrating Moments


He did quite a bit of planning.  Choosing the music, the singer, the minister.  Even choosing the site.
He chose the rodeo grounds and his favorite tractor for his last ride.  Evie told me he wrote pages of instructions.

As I headed for the bleachers I heard a man's voice talking.  I thought that sounds like "Jim", "Popsie's" son-in-law.  As I turned the corner I could see I was right.  Jimmy shared life stories of "Popsie" and then Rhonda the oldest grandchild shared her memories.

One of them was the old brown pickup that ran on propane.  As she told the story I remembered driving it on many occasions.  The 21 gun salute filled my heart as I said good-bye.

Tiffany now grown and married asked me today how I came to be part of the family. (I had always been a part of her life.)  I explained that her Aunt Stena and I had gone through Basic and AIT together and she had brought me home with her.  Her Mom and Dad welcomed me and included me in among their other seven kids and other adopted family.  

I looked around and realized that everyone had gotten old.  Looking in the mirror I realized I had too. (I'm not really sure when it happened.  Just the other day my hair was dark.)  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Celebrating Achievements

Many years ago (last century) a friend attended and EEO conference (Equal Employment Opportunity).  At one of the luncheons she had been seated by a lady who flew cargo planes for the military during WWII.  I was intrigued, and so began my education of women's achievements.  When I discover new and amazing stories, I tuck them away until I can take them out to savor and share.

The stories of early aviation are the stuff of legends.  People larger than life.  Fearless they pushed forward.  Many greats crashed and burned at very young ages, their stories hidden by time.

According to Wikipedia Betty Skelton was born in 1926.  In her lifetime she would set 17 aviation and automobile records.  She solo'd at the age of 12 and received her Civil Aviation Authority private pilot's license at 16.  At 18 she earned her Commercial Pilot's License and was certified as a flight instructor the following year.

The picture book biography "Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton" tells of her many exploits and achievements.  Her determination was daunting.

I wish that text book companies would include more stories like Betty Skelton for our students.  Here is to celebrating achievements great and small.  And for all the people who created opportunities for our dreams to soar.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dare the Wind a Book to Savor

One title caught my attention as I was putting together my order;   "Dare the Wind" by Tracey Fern.  It is a picture book biography about Ellen Prentess Creesy.  Her father taught her how to navigate.  In 1851 she plotted the maiden voyage of the clipper "Flying Cloud" from New York to San Francisco around Cape horn.  The clipper was commanded by her husband Josiah Creesy.

This first voyage was completed in 89 days and 21 hours.  In 1854 she broke her own record, the voyage was completed in 89 days and 8 hours.  A record that stood until 1989 when it was surpassed by the high performance racing sloop "Thursday's Child".

I found the story fascinating.  She was working as a master mariner during a time that few women even traveled on ship with their husband.

As I was preparing to order the book the computer list said I already owned a copy.  I quickly went in search of it and read it to one of my older group of students.  I love stories that tell what women have accomplished through the ages.  This one I savored. The author does a good job of showing the strong bond she has with her husband.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

He Died Yesterday, Day 3 #SOL16

He Died Yesterday

Memories -

I remember his smile, his laughter and his hugs.
He was a good man.

How do we lose contact?

He welcomed everyone to his home.

I remember the stories, the kindness, the pride.
Oh how he loved his wife, children and grandchildren.
He welcomed all the friends they brought home.

How do we lose contact?  What draws us away?

Memories of laughter, stories, and photos.
A husband, a father, and a grandfather
A good man, a veteran.

Lost Opportunities

I didn’t get to say good-bye.

OOPS I Almost Missed the Writing Challenge

This afternoon I was working on my library book order and went to see what Linda at Teacher Dance was reading.  The I saw it - the orange slice.  Realization hit March 2nd!  I'm already late.  Ah well time to start.

This current school year has been busy!  It has been good busy.  I finished my writing on Hazel Hunkins, a suffragist from Billings, MT.  You can find the unit at the Montana Historical Society website    She was an amazing lady.

For the last few months I have been conducting workshops on different topics surrounding Indian Education for All.  4 Saturdays - 3 evenings.  The great thing about the workshops has been researching little known stories and sharing them with other teachers.

My current project is "Luther S. "Yellowstone" Kelly.  Another amazing person who left his mark on Montana.

About December they finished installing Mimio in my library.  I had never had an interactive board.  Our school grew in population and so 1/2 my library became a third grade classroom.  With tighter quarters I needed to change how I teach.  This year I have been using more technology in the classroom.  It is different.  My learning curve has been steep.

This slice is more to get my head in the right place for the challenge.  It snuck up on me and I wasn't prepared!