Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Christmas Morning in Mackay

Friday, November 25th, 2016
while visiting Mackay, Idaho, Santa gives bags full of treats to brothers Quinton and Kyson on Christmas morning as their mother, Sarah Frazee, watches and takes pictures.

while visiting Mackay, Idaho, Santa gives bags full of treats to brothers Quinton and Kyson on Christmas morning as their mother, Sarah Frazee, watches and takes pictures.

Since 1925, local elves have ensured that Santa visits this small Idaho town

For nearly a century, children in the central Idaho town of Mackay have known Santa Claus will not only come to town on Christmas morning, but he will also visit each of them.

With a little help from altruistic elves affiliated with local American Legion Post No. 16, Santa rides on the back of a firetruck with siren blaring to deliver paper bags brimming with peanuts, holiday candy and fruit.

The tradition in the remote mountainous town of 500 started in 1925, five years after the post was chartered.

“The looks on some kids’ faces is unforgettable,” says Rick Hanni, 70, second vice-commander and the jolly old elf himself for 16 years. “These days, kids get so many presents, but I think they still appreciate what our Santa gives them.”

Rick appreciated Santa’s candy deliveries when he was a boy.

“In our neighborhood, there were about 30 kids,” he says. “We all ran to one street corner to wait. Back then, it was a really big deal to get candy because most families didn’t buy it often.”

There is never a shortage of volunteer Santas.

“I loved being Santa, but finally had to quit because my knees didn’t like me jumping on and off the truck for three hours,” says Rick.

A few days before Christmas, volunteers of the 75-member post form an assembly line to fill the bags, a labor of love that takes about two to three hours.

“I remember my dad filling the bags in the ’40s,” says Rick, who carried on the family tradition after joining the legion in 1967. “We fill about 200 bags and keep some without peanuts in case kids are allergic to them.”

As volunteers work, they cannot help but wonder if the weather will be nasty or nice on Christmas day—not that a pesky blizzard could stop the tradition.

“One year it snowed 4 feet on Christmas Eve,” says Rick, who says he is immune to cold weather after doing wintertime service calls as a lineman for Lost River Electric Co-op before retiring.

“That Christmas, we couldn’t get around on the firetruck,” Rick says. “We had to call Gerald Twitchell, who let us use his sleigh and horses. That’s what’s nice about a small town. You can count on people for help.”

Even on frigid Christmas mornings, Santa knows he can count on warm-hearted elves to help him.

“It’s a three-generation tradition for our family,” says Trisha Carlson. “My dad used to help sack up and deliver the candy. As a child, I rode on top of the firetruck to help deliver the candy, and my daughters, Colie and Tia, have dressed up like elves to help with the deliveries. Tia still loves being an elf. We look forward to it every year.”

The December candy delivery is just one of the post’s philanthropic projects.

“We have a tradition of giving year-round, not just at the holidays,” says Rick. “Whatever we do, we can count on our local businesses and our auxiliary for help.”

When in Doubt, Stick With the Basics

Friday, November 25th, 2016
24main

Family and friends appreciate having something to work from when Christmas shopping. Indulge them by preparing a wish list. Be specific. Include brand, size, color and other important details.

Kids are easy to buy for, adults not so much—especially if they are serious about their outdoor pursuits. It’s not that they don’t want or need anything. Rather, their wants and needs are very specific. They prefer a particular brand, a certain model number, or a specific color or pattern. That is why many gift givers simply throw up their hands and buy outdoor enthusiasts a gift card instead.

But wait, there’s a better way to cop out. Buy them one of the basics. These are must-have items, and having one of each is never enough.

A knife. You can never have too many knives. They come in handy for so many things, in so many places:
in the house, shop, truck, tackle box, go bag and pocket. There is a price point for every budget. A good, basic knife sells for $20 or less, or you can spend hundreds of dollars for a high-end specialty blade. Popular brands include Kershaw, Gerber, Buck, Boker, Case, Columbia River, Benchmade and Chris Reeve.

A flashlight. You need almost as many flashlights as you do knives, for many of the same reasons. When shopping for a packable flashlight, think small, durable and bright. It is also useful to have one with an adjustable beam. Don’t forget headlamps, too. In some situations, they are preferable to a regular flashlight, especially when working on a task where both hands are needed.

An insulated mug. There’s nothing quite like a cup of your favorite beverage during an outdoor excursion, so a good insulated mug is essential. The latest generation of mugs are more ergonomic, more durable and do a better job of keeping beverages hot and cold. Tried-and-true Thermos brand mugs are still among the most popular, as are mugs made by Zojirushi. There are many other good choices, too.

Of course, if none of these ideas strikes your fancy, there’s always gift cards.

20 Stocking Stuffer Ideas to Kick-Start Your Brain
Consider this a brainstorming exercise. Here are 20 stocking stuffer ideas: hook sharpener, fire starter, waterproof matches, neck gaitor, hand warmer, whistle, pocket organizer, trail bars, compass, shooting glasses, ear plugs, waterproof notepad and pen, socks, knife sharpener, outdoor magazine subscription, insect repellent, LifeStraw water filter, zipper fix-it kit, paracord. See how many others you can come up with.
The 3 Most-Popular Fishing Books Today

  • “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway.
  • “Trout Bum” by John Gierach.
  • “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean.Source: GoodReads.com

A Light in Winter
December 21 is National Flashlight Day. It is no accident this celebration falls on the first day of winter. It’s a reminder to locate your flashlights, check the batteries and replace as necessary.

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item.

When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture.

Email your submission to moc.stnerrucadirolfnull@ofni.

 

24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Photographing Fog

Friday, November 25th, 2016
The secret to photographing fog is to recognize the scene changes dramatically in seconds. Watch as light cuts through the wet gray and dark shapes appear. Try to capture stunning, moody pictures, as at left. The picture from a re-enactment event appears, at first glance, as if it was made more than a century ago. There is little to say it is 21st century. Photos by David LaBelle

The secret to photographing fog is to recognize the scene changes dramatically in seconds. Watch as light cuts through the wet gray and dark shapes appear. Try to capture stunning, moody pictures, as at left. The picture from a re-enactment event appears, at first glance, as if it was made more than a century ago. There is little to say it is 21st century.
Photos by David LaBelle

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s gray or blue. It rolls. It crawls. It blankets. It’s annoying. It’s dangerous. It’s beautiful. It’s fog.

While I understand the temptation to stay inside and curl up near a cozy fire on gray, foggy mornings or evenings, you might be missing the best opportunity for some amazing pictures.

When temperatures change—especially cold air massaging warm, moist land—we are given spectacular, moody, fleeting scenes.

They are gifts to the eye and camera lens, if we are prepared to record them.

But photographing fog can be challenging.

As with most photography, planning and anticipating light and conditions is best. But even with methodical preparation, it is often the surprises—those unexpected marriages of color and movement—that make for the most memorable pictures.

It is the practice of most seasoned photographers to have a plan, but to be ready for the unexpected gifts nature has to offer.

The secret is to watch as light cuts through the wet gray. A scene can change dramatically in seconds when the sun rises and begins burning through the blankets of moisture. Anticipating this and being in position to record these wonderful, fleeting contrasts is critical.

It is important to remember in changing temperatures—especially when keeping your camera in a warm house or warm car—that your camera will fog up when suddenly introduced to cold fog.

I cannot tell you how many pictures I have missed when my camera fogged up while running from a warm house into the cold or dashing from a cold, air-conditioned room out into choking humidity. It is frustrating to watch moments escape while waiting for the fog on my lens to clear.

Give your camera and/or lens a minute or two to wake up and adjust before trying to shoot, although making pictures with a foggy lens does produce some surreal images.

Try to keep the camera in the temperature you will be shooting, maybe protected in the trunk of your car with the lens cap off. You can use a hair dryer to warm the camera body and lens if going from cold to hot.

Another important tip is not to remove the lens from the body, or the rear element of the lens will fog up. If using a DSLR with a mirror, it also can fog and will take a few minutes to adjust and clear before you can begin making pictures.

Following are more tips to help you prepare to capture those fleeting foggy scenes:

Be careful not to park your car near the roadside in thick fog. Other motorists struggling to see and navigate might decide to pull off the road until the fog lifts.

Turn off or disable your flash. Just like using bright beams to drive in fog, flash reflects and blinds.

Consider using manual focus. The autofocus on many cameras goes crazy, searching for some object or edge to grab hold of in the endless gray. Your eye can focus better than the searching lens. In a pinch, zone focus: Pick something of similar distance and shoot in that range.

Keep a soft, microfiber cloth handy to wipe away condensation on your lens or viewfinder as the camera and lens adjust to the cold.

To compensate for your camera’s meter, manually set your exposure and consider overexposing by one half to one full stop over what your meter is advising. Your meter is set to read for 18 percent gray, which means it makes pure white a quiet or dull gray. This renders snow or bright fog darker, grayer, even bluer than your eye sees.

Fog can be dangerous, but it also can produce some stunning, moody pictures.

As National Geographic photographer Sam Abel has often said while quoting his father, “Bad weather makes for good pictures.”

 

David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He applies many of the lessons he learned during his magical boyhood years in rural California to photography. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Embrace the True Spirit

Friday, November 25th, 2016
If you are handy with a sewing machine, gifts are at your fingertips. You can give your time to help someone make repairs, or you can lovingly create one-of-a-kind, personalized gifts especially for your loved ones. Photo by Brandon Pomrenke

If you are handy with a sewing machine, gifts are at your fingertips. You can give your time to help someone make repairs, or you can lovingly create one-of-a-kind, personalized gifts especially for your loved ones. Photo by Brandon Pomrenke

Abandon the holiday shopping madness and limit materialistic gift-giving

Advertisements fill the airwaves, creating a spend-spend-spend and shop-’til-you-drop mentality that plays with our emotions and our budgets.

Children clamor for the latest toy. Teens insist the newest electronic gadget is more than a want. They absolutely need it. Last year’s model is out of vogue.

Christmas morning can become exhausting as packages are ripped open and then quickly forgotten as the recipient moves on to the next gift.

According to recent polls, the average American spends about $800 on Christmas gifts. That does not count the money spent on travel, extra groceries, eating out, decorations, and small gifts for teachers and others who provide us with valued services.

The true spirit of Christmas and the holidays can be in danger of being washed away by the tsunami of materialism that makes us crave stuff we didn’t even know we needed.

Perhaps you want a break. The motivation could be financial, spiritual or both. Maybe you simply have a desire to pull back from the holiday madness and stop ceding control to retailers.

If so, consider gifts that are nonmaterialistic or that have a deeper value for the recipient or others.

The 12 Deeds of Christmas
How about giving the gift of yourself? Time spent visiting with someone could be far more precious than any item you could buy.

Regardless of your age—whether a child or adult—you have more to offer others than you may realize. What do you do with ease that others find a challenge or a chore?

Give a gift certificate of you. It is memorable and appreciated.

The options are limitless, but here are 12 ideas:

  • Car wash. Clean the inside and/or the outside of someone’s vehicle. They will smile and think of you as they drive their shiny car around.
  • Baby-sitting. What parents could not use a night out? How terrific to have a few baby-sitting coupons from a trusted friend or family member. Plus, you get to spend time with the kids.
  • Electronics repair. If you are a whiz in the digital world, someone can use your help.
  • Home cleaning or organizing. Books about tidying have topped the New York Times best-seller list, so a lot of people must share the desire to have a clean, organized home. Give them a hand.
  • Handyman. Paint a room in someone’s home, make repairs and do odd jobs around the house.
  • Dinners or desserts. Whether you are a gourmet cook or lean toward homemade comfort food, share some tasty gifts.
  • Yardwork. Some people love mowing, weeding, planting, trimming and raking. Others would be grateful for a volunteer to tackle those jobs.
  • Carpool. Parents are pulled in many directions. If you have time to spare, help out by picking up the kids.
  • Make the kids’ lunches. It is a relatively simple chore, but one less thing a busy parent has to do—and offers kids a nice change of pace.
  • Sewing repairs. Not everyone is talented with a needle and thread. If that is one of your gifts, eliminate the hassle and cost of a friend having to take projects to a seamstress.
  • Tutoring. What subjects do you enjoy? Kids usually behave better for someone other than their parents, and professional tutors are expensive.
  • A family recipe treasure-trove. Collect recipes and photos from friends and family, and assemble a cookbook. You can make it by hand or put together a digital collection.

Make One-of-a-Kind Gifts
The genuine happiness and smiles during unwrapping and revealing a gift are priceless—and there have been some pretty impressive gifts in recent years: iPads, iPhones, TVs, Beats headphones and other hot items snagged during Black Friday.

Consumers do love materialistic purchases, but what happened to good, old-fashioned crafted gifts?

Homemade gifts are some of the best things you can give because they capture the love and admiration you have for that special someone.

Get your creative juices flowing and start crafting one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season. Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:

Layering up. Food items—especially sweets—are a great go-to for homemade gifts. Customize a food package layered in a Mason jar. Maybe it is your own cookie mix, with each ingredient carefully measured out and stacked on top of each other.

Want to make a special hot chocolate mix? Layer a Mason jar with four sections: one-quarter hot chocolate powder, one-quarter fluffy marshmallows, one-quarter chocolate chips, topped with one-quarter peppermint candies.

Tie a festive bow around the top of the jar. Be sure to attach a tag with directions and a sweet message. Small touches make all the difference.

Need ideas? Check Pinterest for inspiration.

Keep the memories alive with photos or memorabilia from a happy time spent together. Make a photo album with scrapbook or construction paper. Personalize it by narrating each photo with a caption recalling the special time. You can even make a complete storybook.

A shadow-box frame also is a perfect medium. What you can put inside is limitless—from movie and concert tickets to fun souvenirs you got on a vacation together.

You can keep photos in their original form or cut them into fun shapes and sizes to create a collage.
Include a special message or inspiring quote to add a loving touch.

Sew something spectacular. Handcrafted gifts from you are just as impressive—if not more so—as the stuff from the mall. If you are a beginner, start with pillowcases or a fabric pennant banner. If you are more advanced, consider sewing a customized tote bag, cosmetic bag or pajamas.
Keep in mind sewing can be time consuming, so if you plan to make a few different gifts, start early.

Pairing Gifts With Lasting Memories
Give the special people in your life experiential gifts that will leave them with a lifetime of memories. Think of the things each person likes to do, and tailor a gift to their interests.

If you enjoy buying traditional presents, look for something that complements your experiential gift.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Sports. Buy tickets to a game and wrap up a jersey of the person’s favorite player.
  • Music. Find a concert at a local venue and buy a CD by that performer.
  • Travel. Pair a carry-on travel bag and tickets to a far-away destination.
  • Adventure. Shopping for a daredevil? Give a gift certificate for skydiving, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, zip lining or scuba diving. Add a T-shirt that has an image of the activity.
  • Pampering. Treat your loved ones to spa days, massages and luxurious skin-care treatments. Include a bottle of nail polish or some slippers.
  • Family fun. Amusement park passes can provide quality time together. Add a board game that is appropriate for all ages.
  • Food. Book a lunch or dinner sightseeing cruise, a regional food tour or a wine-tasting evening. Include a food item or a bottle of bubbly.
  • Nature. Create a voucher for a trip to a favorite hiking trail or park, or a kayaking or canoe trip. Wrap up a water bottle.
  • Fitness. A membership to a gym or yoga studio is remembered at each visit. Include a duffel bag or a mat in the recipient’s favorite color.
  • Gardening. Give a plant or bulbs along with tickets or a season pass to botanical gardens.
  • Museum. Virtually every interest and passion can be satisfied with a visit to a museum: art, space, science, music, history, children, automobiles, maritime and sports. Include a book on the topic.

Give Gifts With Meaning to Help Others

How about trying a gift that is outside the box? Rather than spend hours struggling to come up with a good present for friends and family members, give action-oriented gifts in their names to help people in communities and villages around the world.

Charitable organizations offer opportunities to give a variety of items. Whatever your budget and your recipient’s interests, a match can be found.

Here are a few organizations and gifts to consider:

  • Apopo (www.apopo.org). The Belgian organization trains giant African rats to sniff out landmines and, in some countries, diagnose tuberculosis. For $7 a month, you can adopt a “HeroRat.”
  • CARE (www.care.org). Support a fish farm for $32. Buy musical instruments for a classroom for $54. Beehives are $59. A sewing machine and training is $150. A farm with five animals is $215. An irrigation system is $265. A water truck is $10,000.
  • Communities in Schools (www.communitiesinschools.org). Dedicated to keeping kids in school, this network partners with 161 affiliates in 25 states. For $200, you can give an at-risk child mentoring, counseling and other services for a year.
  • Compassion International (www.compassion.com). Financing protection from parasites is $7. A mosquito net is $18. Garden seeds are $27. A safe playground is $36. A dental kit is $40. A baking class is $230. A computer lab is $1,200.
  • Heifer International (www.heifer.org). For $20, you can buy a flock of ducks, chicks or geese. For $480, buy a knitter’s basket. A heifer is $500.
  • Himalayan Cataract Project (www.cureblindness.org). A donation of $25 can provide life-changing surgery through this organization founded by two ophthalmologists.
  • International Rescue Committee (www.rescue.org). Make a cash donation of any amount to help refugees who are fleeing violence in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the United States.
  • Malaika For Life (www.malaikaforlife.org). Buy a bracelet handmade by women in Tanzania for $12 to $15 to raise money for malaria medicine. The organization was founded by a PBS reporter who contracted malaria while in Tanzania filming a documentary. She realized many in that country could not afford the $7 medication that saved her life.
  • Oxfam America (www.oxfamgifts.com). For $25, you can provide books for kids. School supplies are $30. Irrigate a farmer’s land for four months for $40. A goat is $50. Train a midwife for $150. Help build a girls’ school for $1,500.
  • Trickle Up (www.trickleup.org). The organization lifts people out of extreme poverty through a “graduation program”—so called because people graduate from poverty. Cash donations fund a gift of a cow or other animal, training, a savings account and other support.
  • World Vision (www.worldvision.org). Pay $16 to provide two soccer balls. Five fruit trees are $30. A fishing kit is $50. Three solar lanterns are $60. A foot-powered water pump is $200.

Margo Young, Jeanelle D. Horcasitas, Julia Price and Chelle Cordero contributed to this story through Creators.com.

Close to a Dream Fulfilled

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Bill Murlin has spent the past 30 years with guitar in hand, singing the Columbia River songs Woody Guthrie wrote during his one-month visit to the Pacific Northwest, including Grand Coulee Dam, above, and other places during his work for the Bonneville Power Administration. Photo by Sandy Bly

Bill Murlin has spent the past 30 years with guitar in hand, singing the Columbia River songs Woody Guthrie wrote during his one-month visit to the Pacific Northwest, including Grand Coulee Dam, above, and other places during his work for the Bonneville Power Administration.
Photo by Sandy Bly

Thirty years after his discovery of Woody Guthrie’s lost songs, Bill Murlin collaborates on recording

Folk music has been a defining thread in the tapestry of Bill Murlin’s life. He started performing while in college in the 1960s. Today, at the age of 75, he continues to take his show on the road.

Bill favors the works of the late, great icon Woody Guthrie—especially the 26 songs the radical songwriter penned during his 30-day stint toiling for the U.S. government to promote public power.

Partly that is because unearthing a long-forgotten cache of Woody’s Columbia River songs became a labor of love for Bill in the 1980s. He helped tell the story of the time Woody worked for the Bonneville Power Administration—a mission that continues.

“It’s always been my dream to see to it that all 26 songs that Woody wrote for BPA got heard,” says Bill. “I’ve always wanted to get all 26 songs recorded before I die, or before I’m unable to perform anymore.”

Thanks to a young musician who grew up along the Columbia River, Bill’s 30-year dream is close to becoming a reality. Fellow folksinger Joe Seamons is carrying on Bill’s passion for Woody’s music, partnering with Bill and others to record—for the first time—all of Woody’s Columbia River songs.

In March, recordings were completed in Portland and Seattle. Now, Joe and Bill are raising funds to release the double album, titled “Roll Columbia.”

“I’ve been performing these songs for over 30 years,” says Bill. “Everything was familiar to me, even the really obscure songs. It really felt good to go into the studio and sit in front of those microphones and play them until we got it right.”

A Quest to Find the Story and the Songs
Born to a military family in 1941—the same year Woody was writing his Columbia River songs—Bill spent his childhood bouncing around the country, finally landing in Spokane, Washington.

After graduating with a degree in broadcasting from Washington State University, he spent 16 years working in Portland as a radio disc jockey and radio and television news reporter. In 1979, he joined BPA’s public information office. He created and recorded press releases for more than 300 radio stations, filmed news releases for television stations, and produced internal and external videos for BPA.

While working in BPA’s basement studio, Bill stumbled upon a file that launched his search for all 26 of Woody’s Columbia River songs.

Bill was vaguely aware Woody had written songs for BPA, but says he never thought much about it.

“That file showed that not only had Woody Guthrie written songs, but he had worked at BPA to write the songs,” explains Bill. “He was not under contract like you might expect, but he was actually an employee of BPA, which I found rather fascinating.”

That discovery led to a long search for the songs, and a calling to make them available to the public.

Having performed some of Woody’s most famous songs, Bill was driven to nose around looking for clues about Woody’s employment.

In 1981, Richard Reuss, a folklorist at Wayne State University, gave Bill a copy of a 1945 letter from BPA to Woody that contained the lyrics to 24 of the 26 songs Woody had written for them.

Excited by his discovery, Bill convinced his bosses that BPA should make a documentary film about the changing role of power in the Northwest, and include Woody’s original music.

“By then the Northwest Power Act had been put into place, which was changing the role of BPA big time,” says Bill. “The Northwest Conservation Act was the reason BPA expanded their role in conservation and in protecting fish. I wanted to produce a movie to show this changing role.”

The movie was made but never released. Bill notes it was produced by Homer Groening, the father of Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons.”

With BPA preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bill again brought up the idea of using Woody’s songs. He was tasked with finding the two missing songs in the collection.

A BPA newsletter article Bill wrote about his search for the lost songs was picked up in a front-page article by The Oregonian.

“My world exploded,” says Bill. “For the next few weeks, I was interviewed by national television and radio shows, local news shows, even a news magazine from Germany. It was crazy. I started receiving all kinds of phone calls, postcards and letters from people all over with Woody Guthrie stuff.”

Sifting through the material led Bill to several rare recordings and material from a variety of sources, including acetate disks saved from the Vanport Flood in 1948 that contained the world’s only known recording of Woody singing “Roll On, Columbia”—a song he never recorded commercially.

Bill eventually located the final two songs. “New Found Land” was on an obscure album, “Bonneville Dam and Other Columbia River Songs;” “Grand Coulee Powder Monkey” came from a songbook, “The Nearly Complete Collection of Woody Guthrie Folk Songs.”

To celebrate BPA’s 50th anniversary, in 1987 Bill produced an album of the 17 recordings available of Woody’s songs. He later published a songbook with all 26 Guthrie songs—the first time that was done. It included a forward by Alan Lomax, a folk music historian and friend of Woody’s who had recommended Woody for the job.

An Odd Combination Proves Fruitful
Woody’s gig on the federal payroll started when the BPA sent a representative to California to meet him in May 1941. BPA was interested in making a feature-length film about the dams being built on the Columbia River. Federal officials thought a folk singer could help people connect to the public power story on an emotional level.

Excited about the prospect—but with no actual job offer—an unemployed Woody and his wife, Mary, packed their three children into a battered Pontiac and left Southern California for Portland and the vague possibility of writing songs for the film.

When Woody arrived with his guitar and family, he immediately impressed the BPA bosses, who took pity on him and gave him a 30-day contract as a temporary employee, paid at the rate of $266.66 a month.

Woody was expected to write a song a day, which he nearly did. He produced 26 songs in 30 days.

“It’s very significant that one of America’s greatest folk balladeers wrote some of his best material in this very short and very productive month,” says folk musician Joe Seamons. “If you look at his body of work and when he wrote things, this was kind of the apex of his creative life.

“He had done a lot of songwriting up to that point, and all the skills he had been honing as a writer and as a storyteller came together to allow him to write this fantastic batch of music.”

Although the film was never released, three of Woody’s songs recorded in a New York studio eventually appeared in a 1948 Bonneville Power Administration documentary, “Columbia.”

Woody recorded about a dozen of his songs in the basement of the BPA office in Portland, and recorded and released several of the songs himself. He published several more in songbooks.

However, much of his original material disappeared for decades—lost until Bill doggedly pursued false leads and dead ends to find it.

Forever Connected to the Guthrie Legacy
Woody’s music continues to have relevance in Bill’s life. He has performed Guthrie songs across the Northwest with several musical partners, including Woody’s son Arlo.
Most importantly for Bill, all 26 of Woody’s songs have been recorded—fulfillment of a 30-year dream.

Bill and Joe teamed with Portland-based musician and producer Jon Neufeld, gathering a host of other Northwest-based musicians for the sessions.

While many of Woody’s songs have entered the popular consciousness, “too many of them remain obscure,” Joe says. “There are some very obscure lyrics and songs included here that we’re very excited to be playing. They are being performed in the recording studio for the first time. That makes it pretty special.”

In 2009, Joe was awarded a Woody Guthrie Fellowship, which allowed him to explore the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York City.

Since that time, Joe has been interpreting Woody’s work and other Northwest folk songs with musical partner Ben Hunter and his band, Timberbound.

“Joe has shown, without a shadow of a doubt, that he has the passion for, and the scholarship for, the roots music, the history of the music of the Pacific Northwest and the Woody Guthrie music,” says Bill.

All that remains now is gathering funds to get the album out to find a new audience.

“This is extremely satisfying,” Bill says about finally seeing all 26 songs recorded. “It’s given me great pleasure over the past 30 years to be a part of this project. This will make it all feel completed.

“And what is even better is that now I am able to pass the baton on to Joe. He has the youthful enthusiasm and it makes me feel really, really good that this is going to carry on beyond me.”

For more information about Joe Seamons and the Roll Columbia project, visit www.BenJoeMusic.com.

Old-Fashioned Color Theory for Anglers

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Tackle box organization is almost as important as the lures, baits and tackle it contains. That’s because it allows you to know at a glance what is in the box and where to find things quickly when needed. Think in groups when organizing. Group lures by type, then create subgroups for different sizes or colors. The same goes for soft baits and other tackle. Photo by Michael Courtney

Tackle box organization is almost as important as the lures, baits and tackle it contains. That’s because it allows you to know at a glance what is in the box and where to find things quickly when needed. Think in groups when organizing. Group lures by type, then create subgroups for different sizes or colors. The same goes for soft baits and other tackle.
Photo by Michael Courtney

It was a family tradition to shop the day after Thanksgiving when I was a kid. That was before they called it Black Friday.

My brother Dave and I always asked to stop at the hardware store, where we bought each other a new lure. I never wanted anything but red ones because I thought the color was cool and flashy. Dave swore by green ones because he said they looked more like bait fish.

I can’t say that our one-dimensional color choices mattered much. One of us usually did better than the other on individual outings, but overall Dave and I caught about the same number of fish in a season. We didn’t understand why until a local fishing legend, Pop, taught us some color basics.

Pop said there was a color for every situation, and his tackle box was proof. It had so many different-colored lures and soft baits that it looked like a 64-count box of Crayola crayons.

He said he considered fish species, location, forage, fishing depth and water clarity. Each factor helped to dial in the best color for each situation.

One thing he was fond of saying was, “Not all water is created equal.” He said its color would affect a lure’s color. For example, blue water inhibits reds and oranges so they appear darker and muted, while in brownish water the same red lures appear lighter, almost pink.

Pop’s general rule of thumb was to use bright, bold colors in murky water and subtle, natural-looking lures in clear water. In deep water, he liked to fish blue and green lures because fish could see them better. He said red ones disappear in deep water.

I’ve followed Pop’s advice ever since, and my box looks much as his did those many years ago. But I have more red lures. I still think they are cool and flashy.

Outdoors 101: Keeping Boots Stink-Free
Prevention is the best defense: Change socks frequently, air out boots, remove and wash insoles, and wash inside of boots with a damp cloth regularly. If necessary, soak non-leather boots to deodorize them. Avoid household soaps and detergents. Instead, use a footwear-specific cleaner-deodorizer. After soaking, allow to dry at room temperature, away from extreme heat or direct sunlight.

Hits of the Airwaves
Birds are almost always heard before they are seen. To help identify the birds you hear, XLabz Technologies has developed a free app with more than 4,500 different bird songs and sounds. Called Bird Calls, the app is available for Apple and Android smartphones.

What Day Is It?
November 6: Marooned Without a Compass Day
November 7: Hug a Bear Day
November 15: America Recycles Day
November 17: National Take a Hike Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

Many of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Real-World Ranching

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Keith Schwennesen heads out to ride fences at Cold Creek Ranch in east-central Arizona, while his mother, Jean, prepares to do the same.

Keith Schwennesen heads out to ride fences at Cold Creek Ranch in east-central Arizona, while his mother, Jean, prepares to do the same.

Guests and interns from around the world sample life on a working ranch

Eric and Jean Schwennesen are the workforce behind Cold Creek Ranch, a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country. Amidst the couple’s many chores and responsibilities, they welcome interns and visitors from around the world.

Since 1999, the Schwennesens have hosted more than 200 interns through Worldwide Opportunities of Organic Farms, or WWOOF. The program is described as “part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.”

“WWOOFers are not guests,” Eric explains. “They are interns who volunteer their time to experience and learn from us. They generally become part of the farming/ranching family.”

The couple first got involved with WWOOF through a neighbor, who was hosting a German intern.

“She took our high-school-age son aside and explained the idea of interning, and he explained it to us,” Eric says. “We looked into it and immediately wished there had been something like that when we were in high school.”

The Schwennesens say the program is a great morale booster for people in American agriculture, who are used to thinking there is no ambition left in coming generations.

By design, the Schwennesens choose most of their interns from overseas.

“This is because they already prove their motivation by making the necessary plans, applications, travel arrangements, etc., before they even arrive,” Eric says. “With very few exceptions, the internships are uplifting, challenging and very rewarding for them and us. We continue to stay in touch with most of them.”

At the urging of many of their interns, the Schwennesens run a no-frills guest ranch October 1 through April 30 to give paying guests a chance to experience real—not contrived—ranching life.
“And they really do everything, from repairing corrals to busting brush,” Eric says.

From October through April, the Schwennesens try to get the heavy work done before the hot, dry spring and summer arrive.

“The activity tends to be variable, cattle-intensive, challenging and not as stressful for cattle or people in the cooler weather,” Eric says. “The hot months involve a lot less horse work and a lot more fence repairing and plumbing.”

There are a variety of daily tasks that guests may help with during their stay, including riding, feeding and shoeing horses; branding and moving cattle; roping; making jerky or prickly pear syrup; and Dutch oven cooking.

“We don’t coddle guests, but we don’t force them to do work they can’t handle, either,” Eric says. “We just explain when and why we do what we have to do. Very few guests have ever balked at anything. They come here for the experiences.”

Horse work is always popular among visitors—at least at first.

“This is very steep, rough country, and our horses are selected for smarts, not obedience,” Eric says. “We explain that the horses know more about the work and the country than we do, and that generally it is wise to let the horses show how/what to do. Most guests are astonished to find ‘beasts of burden’ that will debate all the finer points of crossing a wash in deep brush, rather than plunge blindly ahead.”

Along with visitors and interns come good stories. A favorite of the Schwennesens was the result of a simultaneous visit of a British couple and a Swiss woman.

“The Swiss woman was here to learn the ‘real’ cowgirl ways,” Eric says. “One evening, it developed that the British couple were police officers. They brought out their Interpol identification cards, whereupon the Swiss woman did the same.”

As it turned out, the Swiss woman was one of an elite police unit, and was both pro-gun and pro-shooting. The Brits had never handled a firearm in their careers.

“One challenge led to another,” Eric says. “The Brits finally conceded to at least try shooting a pistol with urging from our Swiss guest. She demonstrated her own skill with a strange firearm by hitting a metal target 10 times in a row at a full 100 yards—with a pistol. A much sobered and respectful audience learned she was one of Switzerland’s top competitive shooters. Our British guests were much impressed.”

At the heart of the Schwennesens’ ranch remains a year-round business that produces 100-percent natural, grass-fed beef. They would like others to realize ranching is an important phase of land management.

“Likely the water you drink started in ranching’s high country,” Eric says. “We are proud of the quality of the water, forage and meat that we produce. It would be nice if people in general took some time to understand and appreciate the work we do—our foreign WWOOFers sure seem to!”

The Schwennesens’ youngest son, Keith, and his wife, Chrissy, are in the process of taking over management of the ranch. Their oldest son, Paul, plays an active role speaking worldwide on the importance of an agrarian ethic, and managing the direct-marketing of the ranch’s beef.

Perhaps someday soon, Eric and Jean can put up their feet.
Or maybe not.

“Ranching is not something you take a break from,” Eric says. “On the other hand, it’s not that bad of a life anyway. You don’t need it.”

Documenting Life’s Transitions

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
18feat

Kent State’s Eric Lauer is embraced by his father, Rick, and cheered by family and friends moments after being drafted in the first round by the San Diego Padres.

A chick pecks through a shell and emerges from its protective egg. A butterfly wrestles free from a cocoon and flies away. A college baseball player takes the mound for the last time in his career. A parent’s eyes are moist as they put their child on a plane for the first time.

There is no “second” first time, nor is there a “second” last time with life transitions.

The second time is never the same in anything. It can be better or worse, but it can never be first again. Therein is the beauty of the authentic transitional moment.

Life transitions are places where our senses are heightened and our heart beats fast, when every emotion feels twice its size, where we step away from the safe and comfortable to the unknown and unfamiliar.

They are bridges we cross that cannot be crossed again.

So it is with documentary photography. You cannot ask someone to do something again for the camera and expect the photograph to contain the same emotion.

The composition and the lighting can be better, but the moment can never hold the excitement of the first time.

True documentary photographers witness and record life as it unfolds—in all of its raw beauty and awkwardness.

In honest journalism, there are no “do overs.”

In a publishing world where image is shaped, manipulated, protected and growing increasingly more controlled, I am drawn to authentic moments, the life transitions that speak about our beautiful humanness and imperfection.

I adore real pictures, even if difficult to view. I find them more attractive and compelling than the plethora of choreographed, even faked pictures that proliferate our publishing and advertising world.

Just as I would rather hear someone sing off key from the heart than listen to a rehearsed choir, I will take an imperfect composition—alive with unrehearsed emotion—over a perfect arrangement void of emotion.

I am reminded of a story the late Galen Rowell told of a picture he made of climbers after descending Mount Everest. Seeing the photograph, a client asked Rowell to reshoot the picture and went to great expense in hopes of recreating the scene—making it better.

But the authentic relief and profound joy captured in the original could not be imitated.

Authenticity cannot be replicated.

Photographing real, spontaneous, not performed emotion is a fragile art that sometimes requires walking an ethical tightrope.

Because I want to be close enough to witness and record, but not so close as to interfere or alter the magical beauty of the moment, I often use telephoto lenses—especially during emotional transitions.

Honest moments between people are too pure, too special to be interrupted.

The last thing I want to do is pollute important and beautiful exchanges.

The older I get, the more I appreciate this.

 

David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He applies many of the lessons he learned during his magical boyhood years in rural California to photography. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Hard Copy to Hard Drive

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Old newspapers can be difficult to sort through because of how fragile the paper becomes with age. Gary hopes digitizing the papers makes searching easier and preserves the documents.

Old newspapers can be difficult to sort through because of how fragile the paper becomes with age. Gary hopes digitizing the papers makes searching easier and preserves the documents.

Gary Schorzman looks to digitize local newspapers

Wearing white cotton gloves, Rupert historian Gary Schorzman painstakingly thumbs through fragile, yellowed news-paper pages to uncover stories for his latest book, “Rupert’s Fourth of July, 111 Years.”

He hopes that soon will change. Instead of turning delicate pages of the Rupert Pioneer-Record and the Minidoka County News bound in large books, Gary envisions searching through more than a century of newspapers with a few taps on a computer keyboard.

“It will be exciting for everybody to have that information available in a digitized format,” says Gary of the newspapers printed from 1905 to 2008.

He is spearheading a project “to bring back the news to our fingertips,” he says, and is working in partnership with the Minidoka County Historical Society Museum and the DeMary Memorial Library in Rupert.

Gary launched a $70,000 fundraising campaign so the museum’s 118 volumes of newspapers can be scanned and trans-formed into a digitized JPEG format. CDs will be available at the museum and library.

“It will be a literary and educational benefit to our entire community,” Gary says.

Gary first thought of the idea three years ago while spending years at the museum doing research for his books and the local newspaper about local towns in celebration of the county’s centennial.

“I had to write the information out by hand at the museum, then come home and write on my computer,” Gary says. “It was very labor intensive, but definitely a labor of love.”

Response to the 17 local historical books he has written in the past 16 years encouraged him.

“People love reading about our history and seeing old photos published,” says Gary, who lives on the family farm north of Rupert. In 1912, his German grandfather, David Schorzman, moved from South Dakota and homesteaded in Kamima and Adelaide.

“Newcomers have told me they’re eager to learn about our past, too, and have all kinds of questions,” he says, listing a few.

Why did part of Minidoka County eventually become Jerome County?

When did the first car come to town, and what kind was it?

How was the desert near Rupert first homesteaded and later irrigated?

While doing research at the museum, Gary realized how priceless the disintegrating newspapers were to others who were delving into the past, including genealogists, students and history buffs.

“We had to figure out a way to preserve this information for future generations,” he says.

The historic newspapers are popular among families doing genealogy and searching for obituaries, points out Ginger Cooper, the museum’s secretary-curator.

“Besides wanting to read obituaries, people are interested in learning more about the German prisoner of war camp that was near here during World War II,” she says.

The camp was open from 1943 to 1946, so prisoners could help harvest crops. One POW, Klaus Langlotz, returned to the area as a senior citizen and recalled in a newspaper article that he was treated well at the camp and had fond memories of Idaho.

Ginger also helps patrons research other popular topics, including the Minidoka Dam construction, arrival of electricity or finding proof that a relative lived in the area.

One project involved helping some-one learn about an accidental family shooting that was never discussed when she was young.

“She was 4 when it happened, and just wanted to know about it to have some closure,” says Ginger. “Her dad accidentally shot her stepbrother while a gun was being cleaned. A few days earlier, another brother had accidentally fatally run over someone while driving farm equipment. Those events were so traumatic that her family never discussed them, so she was glad to read the articles to know what had happened.”

To digitize the newspapers, state and federal grants, along with private dona-tions, are being sought.

Once money is raised, the newspaper volumes will be disassembled and placed in archival safe boxes. With that complete, the pages will be scanned and indexed in 25-year increments.

“It will be searchable by name recognition,” says Gary. “Another nice fea-ture with this format is that there won’t be a crevice down the center of a page, which is found in microfilmed docu-ments. You’ll easily be able to read an entire column. Copies of a page can be printed with clear headlines, newsprint and photos.”

Contributions to the project are tax deductible because the Minidoka County Historical Society is a non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) tax designation.

“We appreciate all size donations from $5 and up,” says Gary, who has collected $15,000 for the project, including a donation from United Electric Co-op that he is grateful for.
Gary says he looks forward to the day when he and others can do historical research with a computer.

“This project will be a technological leap forward for our community and will be a legacy for future generations,” he says.

To donate, send a check made out to Minidoka County Historical Society to Gary Schorzman, 148 W. 300 N., Rupert, ID 83350. For more information, contact Gary at 436-3982, 312-1556 or email gro.tmpnull@namzrohcsgw.

The Value is in the Telling

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Cheryl Tierney and her husband, Bill, stand outside the vault where they keep a rare coin Cheryl inherited on behalf of her children from her father, Gordon Ash.

Cheryl Tierney and her husband, Bill, stand outside the vault where they keep a rare coin Cheryl inherited on behalf of her children from her father, Gordon Ash.

It was a perfect day in 1945 when Gordon Ash and a high school friend set out to go fishing. The sky was blue, the ice-cold stream rushed down the mountainside and, best of all, the fish were biting.

Fishing the creek upstream toward Lost Lake in the Warner Mountains, Gordon ran out of worms. Kicking the duff near the water’s edge, he unearthed not a worm, but a coin. As he stooped to pick it up, he knew that even if he did not catch a fish, he would at least be a little richer.

He does not remember if he caught a fish that day, but as he slipped the coin in his pocket, little did he realize how important it would become.

When he got home, Gordon washed the dirt off the coin. It didn’t look like a regular quarter. When he saw the date of 1871 on it, he thought it was just an old coin. Gordon put it on his bookcase, where it became a reminder of a great day fishing with a friend.

The year passed. Gordon finished high school, joined the military, earned a college degree and got a job back in Modoc County. All the while, the quarter remained on his bookcase, a keepsake reminder of his youth.

Gordon loved telling people about the old coin he found on a fishing trip. The coin became “bait” for the start of many lively conversations.

About 30 years later, he scheduled a trip to Reno and decided to take the quarter to a coin dealer to see if it was worth anything.

“He walked into the coin dealer’s shop and handed the man his quarter,” recalls Bill Tierney, Gordon’s son-in-law. “The man looked it over and hastily got out his loupe. After examining the coin, he looked at Gordon and asked, ‘Do you know what this quarter is worth?’”

Gordon answered, “No, I was hoping you could tell me.”

The clerk went on, “Well, first off, I just wrote a book on rare coins. In it I wrote that only 35 of these quarters were known to exist. Now you’ve shown up with the 36th one. I will have to rewrite that part. I am a dealer and can’t give you full price, but I’ll give you 17 for it.”

Gordon took the coin back and looked at it again, then hesitated.

The coin dealer rephrased his offer, “That’s $17,000.”

Gordon took a closer look at the coin, then said, “I’ve had this coin a lot of years. It holds lots of good memories, and I don’t need the money. I guess I’ll just keep it.”

He slipped the quarter into his pocket, thanked the man for his time and left.

This time when he got home he did not just lay the coin on the bookcase, he placed it alongside other treasured mementoes from his youth in a locked glass case sitting on top of the bookcase.

He loved setting the bait to friends: “Let me show you this old quarter I found.”

It never was long before the “fish” took the bait and Gordon was reeling them in with his story of the coin.

Sometimes he would go to buy an expensive tractor part and then ask the salesman if he would take a quarter for it. As time went by, it turned out that he could have bought the whole tractor with his quarter.

The coin sat in the locked glass case in the hall for another 30 years until Gordon decided to get it appraised again and encased in plastic before he accidentally spent it. He sent it to one of the major coin dealers in the U.S., and it appraised at $54,000.

“To him it was worth more as conversation bait than its monetary value,” says Gordon’s daughter, Cheryl Tierney. “We would shudder when he’d dig out that coin, show it to complete strangers and tell his story. When finished he’d just lay it back in the glass case, in plain sight. We worried that someone would come back and take it. But no one ever did.”

The seated Liberty quarter was minted in Carson City in 1871. The mint produced gold and silver coins from 1870 to 1893. It was built at the height of the silver boom in Nevada. Gordon’s coin is 90 percent silver, with the metal valued at approximately $3.21. The collector’s value of an 1871 quarter ranges from $2,000 for a coin in poor condition to $115,000 for one in perfect condition. Gordon’s coin is in good condition. A “CC” can be seen under the eagle on the back of the coins minted in Carson City.

For obvious reasons, the tale of that perfect fishing trip could never be published for fear of someone breaking in and taking the coin. Gordon would joke that when he died, his story could be told to the public.

Sadly, in 2014, he and the coin parted company forever. His daughter Cheryl inherited the coin on behalf of her children.

Today, when Cheryl and Bill take the coin out of their safe deposit box at the bank, they and all who know the story, cannot help but remember Gordon with his crooked smile and a twinkle in his eye, holding out his bait for all to see and saying, “Hey, let me tell you about this old coin I found a long time ago”