Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The first time I ever heard the term was when one of my adorable nephews was whining and my sister-in-law, Susan, was urging him to quit. She leaned over from the kitchen sink, looked into his frumped out face surrounded by blond curls and said, "Take a CHILL PILL!"
I thought it was hysterically funny, but, I kinda had to ask her what it meant.
She answered, "Ya' know, like chill out!"
My admiration grew for this totally hip woman who could calm an annoying child with total coolness.
I decided I better change my ways and stop yelling, "Will you please SHUT UP!" I know, I can see some of you "shut-up-is-a-bad-word" people shuddering. "Be Quiet" is more polite, I agree, but it just isn't effective. With six kids there were times when effective was good....and necessary....and safest for all.
"Take a CHILL PILL!" is definitely effective and non-offensive and with-the-times.

This week, I have been wishing there really was a Chill Pill. I WOULD have loved to have taken one every day this week, along with the bajillion or so others suffering in the heat wave of the PNW. Seattle broke a record with a temp of 103. Since the average July temp is 75 degrees, that is 28 degrees warmer.

Since most of my elderly ND relatives swear that every summer day in ND has been a 100 or higher every day since they started using the one bottom plow to break the sod, I know this stat isn't too impressive to some.

They would tell me they had no ice because the blocks of ice cut off the lake and stored in sawdust were all melted. I could boast right back that Safeway ran out of bagged ice yesterday.

They could tell me that they had no fans, and I could boast that the shelves were out of fans in the stores we checked by Tuesday.

So, to make my complaint valid to all, let's take the average July temperature of my birthplace, Valley City, ND, which is 81 degrees, and add the 28, that would make it 109 degrees. Have I made my point? It's hot. It's really hot. It is hot when you wake up, it is hot all day, it is hot in the shade, it is hot in the cars, it is hot, it is hot, it is hot. I never knew ankles could sweat.
The majority of homes don't have air-conditioning, and trying to get cars to cool down in traffic on asphalt isn't easy.

We got creative in our ways of trying to beat the heat.

At the beginning of the week we were shocked with the temp registered by my mini-van.

The kids built a civilization of tee-pees, claiming that it was actually cooler inside.
When I said NO to a real fire in the ring, creativity kicked in.
Orange paper.

Getting warmer....

Living on the deck when the sun goes to the front of the house.
Letting the men cook. That really helps beat the heat.
We also ate in restaurants with AC. My neighbor, Kelly-Across-the-Street,
told me they couldn't find availability in a restaurant Wednesday night.
They had to go home and eat sandwiches.
Our economy is definitely booming.


Shopping at Target in luxurious AIR CONDITIONING.
We went three days in a row.
So did the rest of the people.
The clerks were ecstatic.
It was like Christmas in the store, and they were making lotsa money.
Little Brookie playing in the cart, covering up with the dress Gramma was going to try on.
The AC musta been chilly to her.


Drinking Bubble Tea, a delicious Asian specialty.


Poor little Brayden wanted to be held all the time, but it was so hard to hold a 98 degree baby when the internal temp of the house was around 90 and outside was 100.

We used a water bottle to spray to mist him and then had the fan blow on him while sleeping.
His Mommy gave him lotsa cooling baths.

Slurpees are sure to bring down body temps but there is a health hazard.
They can freeze your brain.


We finally filled the hot tub with water and the chemical, but didn't heat it past 80.

By the second day, the water was so overheated from the sun,
we had to drain some and add cold water.
We sat in here for hours each day.
We were like the Washington Raisins.
We would sit and sip water and juice and tea and just soak and splash and


First time my butter isn't filled with crumbs and swipes of peanut butter,

then it had to go and melt into oblivion.

We had to live on ice-cream bars and frozen fruit bars instead of toast.

We slept outside because the temp was night was in the cool 80's.

Then, last night, we felt the winds of change blow over the Olympic Mountains.

Fresh breezes made the 90's seem cool.

Then 80's,

then peace.

This morning, my house is only 73 degrees.

Finally cool enough to eat toast.

After breakfast, I have a travois full of tee-pees to wash.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things You Don't See in My PNW Neighborhood

When I moved to the PNW five years ago, I was astounded with the differences I found after living in the Midwest the majority of my life. The people, the attitudes, the food, the climate, the traffic, the values (and/or lack of), the traditions, the thoughts, the clothing.....everything was different. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always different.

I fumbled through the new world, planning routes that don't need left turns, avoiding high traffic times, learning where to buy all the things I needed at the best possible price in a place where the cost of living was exorbitantly higher, and ordering food in broken English. I cried after being flipped off or honked at again, was yelled at in a grocery store because I made some social faux pas I am still unaware of committing. Someone told me, "Girl, you gotta' toughen up if you are going to live here." I needed to toughen up, but I didn't want to become tough.

I have gradually learned to embrace and appreciate the best of both worlds. Enjoy my comparative journey back to the Midwest.

OK, before you get offended, you have to understand, in the Midwest, hunting is grocery shopping. My parents were feeding six kids on a chemist's salary, so Dad provided meat by hunting deer, grouse, rabbit, pheasants, geese and elk. Mom gardened, canned and froze fruits and vegetables.

The limit for ice-fishing was ten per person, so he would bundle up all the kids that were willing and able and haul us to the reservoir in the Volkswagen camper bus. We would ice fish for hours, until he had a bus load of fish. Then, he would clean them all, sometimes 60 at a time, and prepare them in a smoker he made out of an old refrigerator and an old popcorn popper. We had precious family times shivering over an open hole in the ice and listening to the ice crack, waiting for us and the VW to be swallowed into a watery grave.

In the Midwest, gutting your first deer is as serious as a bat or bar mitzvah for a teenager- it is a passage into adulthood. "Opener" IS a holiday, both for fishing and hunting, whether the wives acknowledge it or not.

The move to the PNW exposed us to delicious, exciting and endless varieties of food. When we were invited to a reputable restaurant for a work event, I was so excited to try something new and exotic. Then, I opened the menu.

Venison. Rabbit. Smoked Salmon.

I leaned over and whispered to my husband, "This is poor people food! I wanted something GOOD to eat!"

I ordered chicken. The meat poor people buy when they are out of venison and rabbit and smoked salmon.

Take serious note. No spandex. No boundary disputes. No attitude. No comment needed.

Four wheel drive pickup for the sheriff, appropriate for ND with six to nine months of mountains-of-snow-on-the-ground winter.

The state of Washington diligently practices separation of church and state. They want the Christian church kept out of the state.

Ever see a four wheeler drive down your main street? First, he stopped at the local grocery store we were shopping at, bought orange juice, milk and a Sunday paper then followed us to the gas station where he filled his tank. Then, he drove off into the sunrise.

When was the last time you saw the Ten Commandments standing so tall? Hmmm, is that a public building behind the two stone tablets?

No helmet laws. Most of the bikers across Montana and North Dakota didn't even wear the leather jackets, just jeans and t-shirts. Clothes flap in the wind a lot more than leather. Besides, I would be a little nervous to drive unprotected. After all, if you skid, there are no cars on the road to stop you for miles and miles and miles and miles. OOH, I feel the burn just thinking about that road rash.

We spotted the black smoke miles before and were very concerned. We expected to hear sirens and see emergency vehicles flying down the road. We got closer and closer, still no fire trucks. Someone was just burning something. Maybe because there are less people to breathe the toxic air, they don't care. Ya, you betcha, I dunno.

Have you ever got stuck behind a tractor? Especially one who seems to find it amusing to have a trail of cars behind him? Do you think he bragged at the grain elevator over a cup of grainy Folgers the next morning, "Hey, I got a back-up of six cars yesturday, fer shur, how many didju git?"

Check out the price of gas! Would it be worth it to drive across the border just to fill up?
We became tired of waving, smiling and greeting nearly everyone that passed us on the highway, on a road or in a building. At one point, my husband yelled in mock exasperation, "I am NOT waving again!" My son noted that everyone in the Midwest is your next best friend.
Then, we returned to WA. Thinking we would enjoy the relief from over-friendly-stimulation, we settled back into our neighborhood. Then, yesterday, my neighbor yelled at my kids - again. They were giggling in the backyard in the early afternoon. I couldn't even hear them from the house. And, only two out of six were out there, how loud could they have been?
Then, I repented of my prior attitude. Midwest, I promise to wave and smile at everyone I see while on vacation next year.
In fact, I might even start practicing that again, now.
I'll start with my PNW neighbor. Fer shur.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What's in YOUR Side View Mirror?

We left on Thursday July 9th for a 1685 mile journey across five states to get to Story Book Lodge Christian Camp near Virginia, Minnesota. We returned yesterday to the wonderful civilization of coffee made from freshly ground beans, high speed Internet and cell phone reception. Not to mention, seat covers in all public bathrooms.

I just had to create a new way to photograph the gorgeous view while we were cruising across Montana, my favorite state. We didn't have time to stop, so I stared through the windows and in the mirrors. I take a lot of pictures through the windows of the car, but they are usually a little smudgy from all the bug guts smattered on the windshield.

Notice the heavy traffic. The interstate across Montana and North Dakota is so empty, you almost could drive with your feet.

I said almost and no, I didn't try it.

Heavy traffic, there's another vehicle on the road. It was time to put the camera away and keep driving.
Stay tuned....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flashback - Ocean Shores

Until I learn to faithfully blog as I go, I will "flashback" special times and photos I want to post. While granddaughter, Brookelyn, was testing the waters, the rest of the family was also enjoying a special day at Ocean Shores, a beach on the Pacific Ocean.

I love all the patterns in the sand, the water and the clouds. The sights, smells and sounds of the ocean are so addicting, so calming, so alluring, especially for those of us who grew up landlocked in the upper Midwest.

Jon tried, and failed, to outrace the waves. Between the baby spitting up, Brookie having accidents and Jon swimming in his clothes, we ended up doing a load of laundry that night at the hotel.

Baseball, America's favorite pastime, is so much better when the hot sand is silking between your toes as you lunge, toss and roll in an imaginary game in which you are always the hero.

Horses on the beach are always an intriguing site. The piles of horse poop on the beach are not an intriguing site. Since we refuse to pay $25 a person for a horseback walk down the beach, I took pictures of unsuspecting strangers.

The early morning wooed us to the beach so we could stroll and pick up shells almost alone. Beka and I had fun filling our bags with sand dollars, some plain white shells and occasionally crab pieces. These beaches aren't Floridan, the water isn't warm, they don't have a stunning variety of shells, but, hey, it's an ocean and you can drive on the beach.

Speaking of driving on the beach, this is Scott picking up shells in his own style. Man style. The "I'd hate to break out in a sweat" style.

Our perfect day at the beach ended with a stop to McDonald's. This is what happens when your son-in-law throws his so-dry-it-cracked bun from his burger on your windshield.
This is from our first visit to the ocean in 2005. Scott and I sat in lawn chairs, the camera on a tripod, and snapped the sun's burning descent, enjoying our first, and very romantic, Pacific Ocean sunset.
At first, I was very annoyed that this person would walk in front of our camera. There were miles of beach to walk on. But, it soon became my favorite pictures and I have learned to let the picture happen.
And each day ends with the glorious knowledge that the sun will return the next morning, in another show of color, warmth and hope of a "new day with no mistakes in it."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How to Eat a Hamburger

Choreographed by food expert, Brookelyn.
Pick up hamburger with both chubby, dimpled hands.
Hold it upside down to make the calories fall out.
A good habit to encourage for later in life when there will be concern about your figger.
Take huge bites to make cute gopher cheeks.
Check the toppings.

Lick off some ketchup.

Carefully balance the burger and take a few bites when Gramma tells you to.
When your mouth is full take a drink of your milk
to ensure leaving the maximum amount of floaties per fluid ounce.
Check the toppings again.

Lick off more ketchup.
If you get enough on your face, Gramma will think it is cute and
she won't wipe it off, especially if it is on the tip of your nose.
Take a few more bites, wrap up the burger and tell Gramma "du".
Translation, "Done."

Flashback: Leavenworth in May

After five years of living in Washington, I have to admit, I still initially shudder when I first hear "Leavenworth." I lived in Kansas for seven years, long enough to realize there is a reason to shudder when you hear that name. According to the Kansas city's website, "Leavenworth and the word "prison" have been synonymous through the power of the silver screen throughout the years. "

Leavenworth, Washington, though, should evoke the opposite reaction. In the 1960's, in an effort to bring back industry and commerce to their nearly extinct town, community leaders forged a new look for the entire city, creating a charming Bavarian Alpine destiny in the middle of Washington.

You drive east on the Interstate until your feet feel like dancing a polka and you have the odd desire to yodel into the hills.

Sometimes I felt like belting out, "The hills are alive, with the sound of music," but since I sound like Julie Andrews after throat surgery instead of prior with her gorgeous four octave range, I just let the music dance around in my head for a few days.

What it did cause me to do was worship my Lord and Savior. Mountains always evoke this response in me. We easily give honor to creation, but should we not give honor to the Creator of these awe-inspiring views?

Amazing Grace, Beka-Boo and I were guests of good friends, Barbie and Melissa, celebrating the end of our homeschooling year. Fifteen down, twelve to go, but who's counting? Barbie has one year left. She's counting down! We love homeschooling, but it is a lot of work.

My favorite high school teacher, Mr. Nowatzki, did much to encourage my writing and photography skills. He arranged a day trip with an accomplished photographer friend of his, Joe M. I can't remember his name, but I remember what he taught me. Instead of including the full scene, focus on one detail that captures the emotion of the place.

I could have stared at this log for hours. Except, the other four were there, probably thinking, "Yea, cool log, Mindy, let's GO!"

Aren't there many beautiful shades of green? I loved the symmetry of the trees growing in a clump.

Washington, green, flowers...

So instead of a picture of a tree, you find a detail that can define the tree in partial detail.

Rebekah loves to leave the mark of her heart everywhere. She loves to draw crosses and tell the world, "I Love Jesus." What a response. She loves, because she learned as a young girl how much He loves her. John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us."

We loved this little town of Cashmere. We touristed our way through the streets and ate at a local diner.
My second favorite spot of the trip. While the rest of the girls waited in the car, I soaked in the old stone buildings and the railroad tracks, feeling the history of the city as I crouched near the creosote soaked ties.
While I tried to capture this moment digitally, I wondered how many people from this little town long to get out....long to leave the slow pace of their locked-in-time town. Do they gaze down the tracks and long for the hustle and bustle of city life experienced on the other side of those snow-capped Cascades? Do they feel blocked in or securely peaceful?
Do they know that some of us living on the west side of the mountains look to the mountains and beyond as our escape from the frantic metropolis pace that demands your whole being for survival? We envy the slower-paced life beyond those peaks, escaping for rest and renewal as often as we can before merging back into our rush hour lives.
Whether we look to those glorious peaks from the east or from the west, as our captivity or our escape, may we be renewed in the splendor of creation, and worship the Creator.