Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cats behaving badly

This picture is obviously jacked from the Net.  However this morning I heard from the kitchen; "Royce, did you make a mess of the pumpkin pie?"  "Um, no".

Somehow the one with opposable thumbs had jumped up on the counter, OPENED the cupboard and proceeded to lick THROUGH the waxed paper covering and consumed at least one sixth of the pumpkin pie.  Jeez.  I would like to have had a picture.  Now there is worry that who ever consumed all that pie may be courting the dangers of constipation. Ick.  We have three cats; the dominant one probably did not let the others get much of a lick. 

At least I dumped the pie in the garbage.  I remember years ago when Judy J and I worked at Fairchild Semiconductor in San Rafael.   She had been tasked to purchase a  birthday cake for someones birthday.   When she brought it in, she explained that the broken cover had happened when her daughter decided to help herself to some cake.   Later that day Judy confided that her poodle, Lucky, had jumped on the box and broke the cellophane cover.  I didn't find any dog hair in my piece. When in doubt throw it out.

Happy Merry etc.

Happy Holidays! above is a Kwanza cake, yummy.

Got up at 5:30 a.m. and came downstairs to celebrate Christmas.
I have risen at earlier times as a child and been promptly scurried right back to bed by exhausted parents who had assembled bicycles for me and brother, Richard.  This was after having spent the previous summer cheerfully nicking the neighborhood kids bikes if you please.  By the time we had moved to Evergreen Trailer Park in Boise, it had become policy that in order to prevent the juvenile delinquents from further episodes of theft, a couple bicycles were a good investment.  Thus Richard and I spent Christmas Day riding our new bikes all over the park.  I experienced for the very first time true exhaustion and a very sore bottom from contact with the less than ergonomic bike seats.  Wore me right out. Would love to borrow some of the youthful energy.   Coffee, morning meds and lever over pumpkin pie coming right up.  Have a good one everyone.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Can We Get Out?

I suppose retired people reminisce or jot down memories, I am more of the latter. So, I am remembering a recurring theme of our collective childhood. Dad was in control of where he worked...and when. He always said that a if a man wanted to work he could find work, and this gave him a certain amount of freedom and he was occasionally two checked as he called what ever job had terminated. He mustered out of WWII with a fairly extensive experience as a mechanic with leanings toward operating heavy duty equipment. Mom was in control of everything else; kids, food, washing, sewing, shopping, small household repairs. Together they made decisions on major purchases such as housing, cars etc. Discipline was mostly from Mom usually accompanied by much verbality, Dad tended to stick to precisely administered thumps to the top of the head.

At one point we drove a red and white station wagon, we went everywhere together on all occasions. Why you may ask? I think the habit of hiring a baby sitter became nearly impossible once we approached larger numbers, no babysitter wanted to be responsible for four or five children.

Large purchases: The folks would occasionally drive to Garden City to stroll through the various trailer houses on sale. Our hearts sank. The day was shot. We would invariably ask, “Can we get out?” “NO!”. We gazed at the outsides of a lot of brand new shiny trailer houses.

Appointments: Dad preferred the Veterans Hospital in Boise for his medical care. This was an all day procedure. The grounds at the Vets were extensive, large trees, squirrels, vast lawns, no swing sets. “Can we get out?” “NO.”

Gold mining: Dad had a gold pan and a small vial of Mercury that contained a few flakes of placer gold from various creeks in Idaho. We would go driving and every once in a while the notion to do some gold panning (if the fishing was poor) so we would stop. “Can we get out?” “NO.” For years we would sneak into the bedroom and get out the vial of Mercury and poured it out on the Chenille bedspread to chase it all over and then scoop it back up into the vial. We were careful not to actually touch it as we had been told that this was poisonous. Did we ask permission? NO.

Fishing: “Can we get out?” “NO.” Probably because the requirement for licensing had not been met. I do remember fishing a couple of times at Kids ponds that had been stocked with trout that liked hot dog as bait.

Taxes: I remember one time the folks taxes were being audited We all got into the car and drove to the Federal Building in Boise. We knew better than to even ask by then and it was a boring place for kids anyway. The Folks told us years later that one of the questions the auditor asked was “Can you prove the number of dependents you have listed on your return?” “Sure, they're all out in the car, want to see them?” “No.”

Picking up items: Dad always had to go pick up his check at the Idaho Power building in Boise. We packed into the car and waited in the parking lot. “Can we...” “No.”

Emergency Stops: One time the whole family was driving through eastern Nevada headed who remembers where. Mom was pregnant with someone and had a low blood sugar crash. She begged Dad to stop in the next town to visit a restaurant for something, a sandwich. “Can we get out?” “NO.” I think that was the last time we traveled without food in the car.

Stocking up for the drive: One of the components of many of our car related outings involving stopping at Albertsons for some maple bars and Vienna sausages, “Can we get out?” “NO.”.
Next stop was the nearest fast food for a gallon of root beer. “Can we get some mugs?” “NO.” To this day I am not extremely fond of those food items.

Eating out: Dad really liked Chinese food. He would take us all out to Louie’s Golden Dragon in downtown Boise. They always gave us a large booth and we were taught to be well behaved. “Can we have some bug juice? (soy sauce)?” “NO”. Dad liked to order sweet and sour spare ribs. These were very fatty pork ribs drenched in a very dark thick sauce. Delicious. I have never tasted anything similar to that sauce. “Can we have dessert? “No we will have dessert at home.” Learned after Dad died that Mom never did like Chinese food, so we never went back on visits home unless we went on our own.

Visiting neighbors and/or friends: Dad would often put us all in the car with the specific reason of going to visit friends who lived elsewhere. We would drive up to where ever they lived. “Can we get out? Do they have kids?” “No, wait until Dad sees if they are home.”. I learned many years later that; 1: Do not drop in unannounced. 2. Wait for an invitation.

Visiting grandparents: Both of our grandparents lived in the valley on their respective farms. I do not believe they ever socialized because farming is a very busy lifestyle and Dads parents were more social in that they attended card parties than Mom's parents who were more church oriented. The grandparents were knows as Big and Little. I doubt we were the first bunch of grandchildren who named them such. There some no's involved at each farmstead.
“Can I play in the chicken coop?” “NO.”
“Can I play in the storm cellar?” “NO.” It smelled of potatoes and dirt.
“Can we play on the haystack?” “NO.”
“Can we play in the corn crib?” “NO.”
“Can we play in the calves pen?” “NO.”
“Can you make me a gooseberry pie” “YES, go pick me some gooseberries and I will make a pie”. “Thank you, Little Grandma!”.


Crock pot caramel.   Four cans of sweetened condensed canned milk.  Take off labels, put two each in a plastic lunch bag.  Fill
crockpot with enough water to top the cans, put on high.  Let got for 8 to 12 hours, depending on how pourable you want it to be.  Mine went for approximately 12 hours and is scoopable.  Use on Tres Leches cakes or right out of the jar. These are destined for gifties to a couple of friends.  The four cans were scooped and sealed in eight four ounce jars.  Delish!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A few further comments regarding previous post and other stuff.

When Dad first started working on Hell's Canyon project he moved the trailer to Cambridge which is titled "Gateway to Hell's Canyon" or something similar.  Before that it was and always has been a farming community.  We always liked the drive to Cambridge because that meant we were going to visit Homer Bott (long time childhood friend of Dad's) and his family.  He lived on a good size ranch/farm, had a terrific strawberry bed and a horse named Oscar trained to jump up into the back of the pickup when Homer had to go irrigating.  I rode Oscar once, learned quickly NOT to lift the reins because that meant Take Off Like A Bat Out Of Hell.  I fell off and broke my glasses, well I more or less rolled off because Oscar was headed for a fence and he looked like he was going to jump...and I was not prepared to go with him.

In Cambridge, The trailer was parked in a small park  and the rail road track ran by just behind.  Richard and I loved to scrounge up double headed nails and place them on the track and retrieve our shiny miniature swords after a train had flattened them.  I somehow do not think Mom knew what we were doing or we would have been flattened.

I remember the roads into the canyon were all dirt and were not paved until later 1960's to help the tourists and fisherman find the dams.  When we were back country driving Dad would tell us to keep an eye peeled for "slow elk."  What's that Dad?  Cows.

Dad loved big machinery.  He operated caterpillars, draglines and backhoes.  One of our treasured "toys" was cotter keys.  These were very large metal  bobby pin looking things that secured teeth onto the shovel of the backhoe and when Dad changed the teeth we begged for the cotter keys, what treasures! 

Dad also loved cranes the bigger the better but never had the opportunity to work on them professionally.  One day Dad told us that TK Jensen, an old family friend and contractor with MK, was going to move a big crane around Oxbow so we all loaded up to go watch, it was muddy, it was rainy and it was boring but we all knew TK and so we watched the humongous crane inch down the road and then we went home.  While we were gone a sudden storm had gusted in and when we got home, Mom could not see the clothesline where she had hung freshly washed clothes, they were all down in the mud.  She was one ticked off woman. 

If I think of any other gems, I will post.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I had an attack of insomia and finally got up at 2 a.m. to write about Hell's Canyon Dam, my perspective at least.
Brownlee Dam was built in 1959 and Oxbow dam was built in 1961, all built by Idaho Power Company with contractor Morrison Knudsen. Hell's Canyon Dam was built in 1967. Dad worked on bits and pieces of all three dams and we lived in various places along the Snake River as kids.

My main memory is being in the car as Dad drove and being impressed by the muddy roads, the very large equipment used in construction and being mildly terrified at how much DOWN there was down there. Golly what a gully.

Dad had no problem hitching the Great Lakes ten wide up to a big old truck and hauling it to where ever he needed to be on a job site. However the move to Hell's Canyon defeated his skills and he called on Shorty Tallman to come hitch and haul and squeeze into nearly impossible sites on very high places. He moved us twice, once above Brownlee and once again half way near Oxbow, trailer sites were impossible any further along and there were trailers squeezed precariously into every nook and cranny.

On weekends Dad would take us for a tour of the build. We drove below Oxbow clear past Robinette which was a tiny hamlet that was flooded when Hell's Canyon was built. We were in awe of the steep Kleinschmidt grade, went up the site of the canyon in a a series of switchbacks to Paulette Ranch and the only other route was by Helicopter or 300 miles via the long way around.

One time Mom had to take Dad something maybe his lunch. She actually had to drive halfway up a side hill that was about 45 to 50 degrees. She got us up okay but turning around and getting back down was quite an adventure. She made us get out of the car when she turned it around. She confessed later to being susceptible to a GI hemorrhage as a result. Mom didn't get hysterical very often, I can only think of one other time that involved a breakdown in northern Arizona in the middle of no dang where. She thought we were going to die and had hysterics. Eventually some guys drove up who just happened to have a welding rig and Dad welded some repairs on the springs of the camper and away we went to Flagstaff and got back to Idaho with ten bucks left over. Typical Berglund adventure.

We spent a couple of hot summers in that canyon and found wild apricots to pick and Elderberries were plentiful, also rattlesnakes but never actually saw one. One time there was a summer storm and the lightning was awesome, if you were quick you could almost see lightning strike from one side of the canyon to the other. 

The last trailer park Daggett's I believe, was located next to a stream, not quite deep enough to swim in but one weekend the men got together t0 throw enough junk and wooden doors in to partially dam up the creek, hmmm Daggett's Creek now that I think of it, and we swam until we knew where every submerged rock lay. Mom took moving pictures on her wind up 8 mm Brownie and we watched them run backwards many many times laughing uproariously at the kids diving out of the water back onto the rocks.

We also would drive to Halfway, Oregon occasionally and skirt through to Baker, Ontario and home as a scenic tour. We probably visited the Barnes kids, Vicky and Shorty in Haines. There was a hot springs there and one summer Richard and I stayed with them for swimming lessons and I got a card for some level, one test was jump in the deep end and go like crazy for the swallow end. Good sunburn that year, peeled like a snake. Halfway was also where I got a bad case of blisters from playing on the Monkey bars at a local school, the blisters broke and that was the end of monkey bars.

I remember a lunch that mom got in the habit of feeding us, it was peanut butter and grape jam when mixed together looked remarkably like engine grease. So we called them grease sandwiches and we drank Pepsi to peel the peanut better from the roofs of our mouths.

I also learned the fine art of packing the trailer for a big move. Didn't consist of much, Mom stuffed pillows inside all the cupboards, taped them shut, locked the doors and away we went. I remember her commenting about a glass she had left on the counter that did not fall over during the move.

We admired the big trucks that were dirt movers. Dad called them Yukes and were from the UK hence Yukes. We bugged him constantly about getting us an inner tube so we could make it into a swimming hole which may have prompted the Daggett Creek swimming hole. We were by no means the only kids there, lots of young families.

Also I learned a couple of things while living in Hell's Canyon a neighbor taught me how to sew bound button holes, there after any and all doll's clothes promptly got bound button holes. I believe the same neighbor also gave Mom her recipe for Raisin Spice Bar cake which became a stable for the family table from then on.

I was living California when Hell's Canyon Dam was finished in 1967. I was visiting, Dad had taken off on a ten day hitch but forgot his work books. So Mom and I hopped in the car and schlepped the boots to him it was very dark by the time we got back. Dark I tell you.

If any of my siblings remember anything else, do post.  Thanks. 

PS:   Many years later went on a road trip to the Canyon, stopped for lunch at the parking spot at Hell's Canyon. Parks and Recreation would have spotted the young marijuana plants just popping out of the ground, no idea if they made it through the summer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Inside the new Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital

Nice lobby!   If you have Google Earth you can look up Barrow and scroll about town and find the new hospital and if you scroll out past NARL you will see the bright blue football field.  Touchdown.brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Replacement Samuel Simmons Memorial Hospital

The new hospital is located on Uula Street, in Browerville.  Go to facebook and look at the rest of the pictures posted by Ron Nalikak.  Nice place!  If I still lived in H building I would have a very short commute!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Questionable taste but cute


Okay, we all know Kmart is in trouble but their ads are subtle until you check out the link to the advert.

Yipes.  Oh and speaking of Holiday Movies.  I did not realize there were FOUR Home Alone movies.  Watched two of 'em and now I know.   Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Modified fruit cake

 Husband asked me if I was going to make fruitcake this year.  So go inspect stash of dried fruit.   Hmmm, dried peaches,  dried cherry cranberries, raisins,couple cups of hazel nuts, half bag of salted mixed nuts.  Hmmm, okay I can do without dates, candied pineapple and candied red and green cherries.   The only thing from the original recipe is the 8 eggs, 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar and 2 tsp vanilla,  250 degrees for 90 minutes. Perfect.  First loaf already demolished.  Husband will have to brave the freezer to find the other ones. Snerk, snerk, snerk.