"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Country Music and Reality TV

I love country music. I always have. I guess probably because my folks listened to it when I was growing up. My dad’s favorite artist was Ernest Tubbs and my mom’s was Eddy Arnold. I loved them both, along with Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard and even Buck Owens and his red, white and blue guitar.

My love of country never left me. While there was a time I loved and listened to artists like, Bachman, Turner Overdrive and Creedence Clearwater Revival, because everyone I knew was listening to them, my true love was the country artists. As I got older, I realized I had to leave rock n-roll completely behind. I just couldn’t listen to it. In the 80-s, country saw a resurgence in popularity because of the movie Urban Cowboy, I guess. John Travolta must have made it cool. All of a sudden country music was popular, and Barbara Mandrel came out with the hit, I Was Country When County Wasn’t Cool. I could relate; that was me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t listen to country music.

I like the beat - the 2-4 time; I love the steel guitar and the mandolin. I love being able to understand the words the singers are singing and I love the down to earth message that most songs bring. Yes, even Toby! You don’t think Toby should be included in “down to earth” singers? Listen, again! He’s awesome.

But anyway, I was scanning the channels this morning for something to watch and I landed on GAC - Great American Country. A new artist was singing his newly released single. I had never heard of this guy before, but his song caused me to reflect on why I love country so much. I guess because it is just so “Real”:

Five-hundred channels and there ain't much on tonight
Except reality shows about some folk's so-called lives
A pretty girl cries 'cause she don't get a rose
But she'll find love next year on her own show

 And they call that real

Real is a hand you hold fifty-seven years
Real is a band of gold tremblin' with fear
It's the first long tear down an old man's face,
watchin' his angel slippin' away
His heart's so broke, it's never gonna heal

I call that real

Where I live, housewives don't act like that
And the survivors are farmers in John Deere hats 
Our amazin' race is beatin' the check
Prayin' that the bank ain't ran it through yet

Real, like too much rain fallin' from the sky
Real, like the drought that came around here last July
It's the dust, boll weevils and the market and the weeds,
the prayer they're sayin' when they plant the seeds
And the chance they take to bring us our next meal

I call that real

Real, like a job you lose 'cause it moves to Mexico
Like a mama and a baby with no safe place to go
Like a little dream-house with a big old foreclosed sign
Like a flag-draped coffin and a twenty-one gun goodbye

I call that real
Man, I call that real
Oh, I call that real

REAL- James Wesley

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Daddy and His Fish

“It was pouring down rain, but I knew we were going to be there awhile”, she laughingly told us as we talked. “I wanted to tell him to just cut the line because dinner was ready; but I knew he would never do that and leave that fish with a bothersome hook in his mouth.”

“We were absolutely soaked; it looked like we had been swimming and we were surrounded by darkness!”

My dad and mom, – ages 85 and 84 respectively - had once again taken their annual “steelheadin’ ” trip to the Lewiston area of the Clearwater River. Married for 60 years and steelhead fishing for close to 30 of those years, they were now at home again, eagerly sharing some stories with my sisters and me.

That fish that night was in the fight of his life, with a contender on the other end of the pole that almost always wins. As the old saying goes, “If one gets hooked on steelhead, it can be terminal.” Or at least something close to that. I have to admit there have been times with my dad, I did indeed wonder; this being one of those times.

Dad was just about ready to quit for the day when he “got a bite” as he fished from the bridge. While he held the pole and kept the tension in the line just right, he walked from the bridge down the bank so that he would be able to finish the fight and land this big guy. He could tell by the struggle it was giving him that this was a big fish and it would most likely take a while before he would land it. If he tried to rush it, he risked losing.

An hour and ½ later, in the drenching rain and October chill, Dad landed that steelhead. It ended up being the largest fish he caught this season, weighing more than 20 pounds. This was just prior to opening day, and while catch and release is allowed, keeping any fish caught prior to opening date and keeping the natives is not. Mom watched patiently as she held the flashlight, while Dad held the fish in the water, running it back and forth to be sure it was fully revived before releasing his catch back into the river. It wasn’t long before the fish was swimming away, and my folks returned to their camp; Dad satisfied with another successful endeavor at landing steelhead; and Mom shaking her head and kind of wondering about that “terminal thing”.

Dad caught 11 fish this trip, releasing 8 and bringing home 3 from their 2 weeks on the Clearwater River. The largest was the 20 pound Native that Dad caught and released that evening underneath the bridge. The smallest was a 15 pound female hatchery fish that he was able to bring home with him. In the picture below is an 18 pound 36” inch male hatchery fish that Dad landed on the final day of their trip.

 Have you ever just tried to lift one of those fish?!! I'd say that little statistic above is pretty awesome for an 85 year old man. ..and I claim bragging rights!  ;-)

My Daddy and His Fish

Sissie, Mr. Steelhead, and Dad

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Autumn

Boy, I am enjoying these beautiful autumn mornings.  This is the kind of fall weather I look forward to each year, but I was so afraid we weren't going to get it this year. I don't know why, but autumn has always stirred so many memories for me; it always feels like a time to reflect on my past.  That is not a bad thing, as long as one doesn't stay there too long.  I think it is the settling in feeling, but autumn always reminds me of my childhood and school, it reminds me of my first days at college when everything was new and exciting.  "Nature" always seems more intense in autumn; smells cleaner, air crisper, days calmer. It's a time of change, and it's a time of rest before the snows fall and the busyness of the holidays begin.

Another poem comes to mind during this time.  I love the diction and colloquialisms that James Whitcomb Riley chose to use in this poem. It's a part of our past, it's our roots; and it's charming. Our most educated language scholar could not even come close to capturing the experience and sentiment that Mr. Riley has captured in this poem.  I love it; I hope you will take the time to read it...then read it again.

When the Frost is on the Punkin
James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)  

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;    
And asters by the brook-side  
Make asters in the brook,

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise
At noon the roads all flutter  
With yellow butterflies.      
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

My fourth grade teacher  (See my blog: The Hug That Teaches - February - http://jan-butterfliesandrainbows.blogspot.com/2010/02/she-was-one-of-those-people-that-you.html ) made her class memorize this lovely poem and I think I have recited it in my mind just about every fall since then. Ok, well I only remembered verses 1, 2 and 5; I had to google the rest. And I didn’t remember it was Helen Hunt Jackson that wrote it. That fact I found very interesting after owning my book store and having some of her books in my stock. There are still two more verses to this poem, but Mrs. Hunter didn't require us to memorize the last two.  I agree with my teacher's decision. These 5 are the best of Ms. Jackson's poem.

While it is no longer September, I definitely woke up to that kind of day today; so the poem went through my mind once again. I think it is beautiful, so I wanted to post it along with some photos
from my yard that I took this morning….
I know! I will never be a photographer, but I had fun out there in the yard this morning trying to get some photos of the lingering effects of Mr. Frost's visit again last night. This visit was not at all unexpected, but 25 degrees? Ouch! Have mercy!!   ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touched by Laughter

We always wonder: Does it get easier? Seems like that is one of the questions so often asked when one loses a loved one.

It has been 4 years ago today, that we lost our beloved Isaac. He was 14 years old. He was the youngest of my brother and sister-in-law's three boys. Matt - my son; Isaac’s cousin - was 13 at the time. I tend to go into contemplation mode about this time of year; and I know by recently speaking to Isaac’s mom (my brother’s wife - my sissie) that October is, of course, still a very difficult time for them.

Does it get easier? Well, in the sense that it is once again October 13th, some things are still the same. We are still trying to get school done, much as we were that dreadful day. The sun is shining again today, much as it was that day. But it is cooler this year, than it was on that Friday, 4 years ago. Matt is a senior instead of an 8th grader. In thinking about that question; I know it is easier, in a practical way. I know am not going to get a phone call telling me about the awful news. I am not crying out in despair and wondering how I will tell Matthew. I am not getting dressed to rush to the hospital. I won’t look at the anguish in my brother’s face and I don’t have to wonder if my sister-in-law will live. I don’t have to wonder what life will be like without Isaac. I already know all of that now. So, in that regard, yes; it gets easier. Yes; I guess we have all learned the answer to that question, these years later. But the greater - more in depth - meaning in that question is in realtity what people are actually asking. No, I would not say it gets easier. But rather than a raw, ripping emotion - what occurs, I would say, is a mature ache. That is the best way that I can describe it. It is pain that has come into maturity, much the same way we mature in anything - by simply living….but is it easier? No. I think one only learns how to live in it.

Isaac was an awesome kid. His name means laughter, and that is how we will always remember Isaac – laughing; making others laugh. One of the last of my memories of Isaac occurred on an afternoon when he came to stay with us for a week or so before school was to start in September. We were on our way to the fair, and Matt and Isaac were sitting in the back seat of my car. They were giggling only like two boys that age could…that is, only if they are family. I looked in the rear view mirror to see what was going on. “Watch!” they said. Matt had his baseball cap in his hand and he would slowly put it in front of Isaac’s face. When he removed it a second later, Isaac made a funny and unusual expression; different each time. That is, different and more funny each time the hat was removed and each time I looked in the mirror. It was enough to make us all howl in laughter.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It was a visit long overdue. Life gets busy and one often neglects to do the things one should. I won’t even try to make excuses; one often simply does what is expedient when there is opportunity to acquire the desired means an easier way. So though I see my sister and her family weekly, it has been three years since I have taken the time to visit them at their home. Eeek! I am ashamed to admit that.

I’m glad we finally went. I enjoyed seeing all the new things they have done to their home since I had last been there. I enjoyed seeing their animals and I loved being back at one of the places I have always said was one of the most peaceful places anywhere to visit.

While we were talking, I noticed a photo of my nephew that appeared on the screen saver of my sister’s computer. It was such a wonderful picture of him, I had to stop mid-sentence to comment on this photo of her youngest son. “Wow, that’s a great photo of GM!” I exclaimed. “His smile just radiates! I can tell he absolutely loved whatever it was you were doing that day.” I commented to my youngest sis.

We continued our visit, and it was time well-spent. But today, that photo of GM is still resonating in my thoughts. The smile in the photo that gives away so much of GM’s heart, made me understand it was time to write about this nephew that is so very special to me. I’m not so sure he would be comfortable with that, so at least for this moment, I will refer to him as GM. I hear his mom often call him G-Man; and when he was just a tyke, I always referred to him as G….-baby. That name I know without a doubt is no longer acceptable; (he is now 21! LOL) but still, sometimes I have to stop myself from calling him the nickname I gave him as a baby. It simply slips out in love and affection.

Anyway, GM is an awesome kid that almost always makes me smile, merely at the mention of his name. He has been a wonderful friend to Matt as they were growing up, and I know the bond between them will always be very strong. With Matt being an only child, I am very thankful for that relationship.

For me, GM is one of those people that I trust almost without question, because I know he will always tell me the truth. That is one thing that has always been very important to me. My nephew is one of the people I am most comfortable with for that reason. I don’t like to have to guess where I stand with a person, or in any given situation…just tell me what you think; tell me your opinion; your likes; your dislikes, and I will be happy as a clam. GM and I have that kind of relationship, and it is really very comforting. Because of that, I will almost always trust GM’s opinion and listen carefully to what he has to say.

I love G because he cares enough to show me he is interested in me. I don’t mean that to sound selfish; but I think that is how relationships are built, by knowing the other one cares. There have been many times my sis and I will be on an afternoon drive somewhere with our sons, and we will be talking politics or current events while cruising in her Subaru. Though the topic may not be a favorite topic of G, he will always contribute to the conversation showing me he is listening. I love that he would state his thoughts, and I am often surprised by the wisdom in his comment. I don’t know why I should be surprised; I surely shouldn’t. Maybe it’s because sometimes I feel like common sense is pretty rare these days, but G-man often shows it.

He warmed my heart the other day, while at another family gathering. I was lamenting a mistake I had made. I don’t remember what it was specifically, but I do remember that my nephew piped up, (though I didn’t even know he was listening) … “Yeah, but you’re a great aunt, Aunt Jan!”

Yeah, ok, his was just a little comment, but it meant the world to me. How often does one hear something like that, anyway? Not very often, I would guess.

G likes to write, he likes to learn, and he is very computer savvy. He is thoughtful, gregarious and dynamic. For the most part, he is very content and his happiness is always contagious. Sometimes he just flat out makes me laugh when his excitement over something is unleashed. G’s life isn’t perfect; he has trials in life just like everyone, but that guy has learned how to handle them. And we rarely hear him complain. It’s amazing. I, for one, know I do not handle so gracefully the trials that life throws at me… unfortunately, I complain, I whine and I snivel. I need to take some lessons from my nephew, I guess.

It’s October; and October is a difficult time for my family having lost one of my nephews, 4 years ago this month. I’m sure I will be writing about this loved one in a day or two…and yes my thoughts are already there. With those thoughts on my mind and seeing that awesome picture of the G-man on the computer screen yesterday, I came to realize that I wanted him to know how much I love him…today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time for a Story

Written by: Kenneth Wright, Casey Beathard
Performed by: Tim McGraw

He sat down, picked up the phone and said, "Boy, I'm your old man."
He touched the glass between the two, as if to shake his hand.
The boy, he didn't budge, not even so much as a blink.
The man said, "Oh come on, better late than never, don't ya think?"

He said, "I read it in the paper, can't believe you're 21,
I can't believe some son of mine could do the things I hear you've done."
He went on like some big hero, who flew in to save the day;
And the boy said, "If your here, to steer me right, man, its too late."

"You had to be there, and I'm talkin from from day one.
Thats the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son.
And you'd have to go back, and teach me how when I was nine,
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whoopped my tail, I'd never thought it was a joke."
He said, "Sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayers,
You had to be there."

The man said, "Boy, I'm sorry that you hate me like you do."
The boy said, "Dry it up man, we ain't making this about you.
Its about a teenage girl, against the world, who was left there high and dry;
About a kid who might have stood a whole lot better shot at life, but
You Had To Be There

And I'm talking from day one,
That's the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son.
You'd have to go back and teach me how when I was nine,
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whooped my tail I'd never thought it was a joke.
Sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayer.
You had to be there."

Before the boy hung up the phone, he said, "They say I'm out of time."
And it hit the man, right there and then

"Oh man Son, so am I"….


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Warning! More Politics...

The Republican Party in our area has indeed "fractured" as reported in the Coeur d’Alene Press article “Republicans: Party Has Fractured” which appeared in today's October 5, 2010 edition.

I'm just going to get right to the point...I believe it is a shame the Republicans in our area are standing behind Phil Hart and I think it is way past time that he resigns. There-in the so called "fracture" in our party could be avoided. If Mr. Hart was a Democrat, the Republicans would be doing all they could to see that he was removed from office and we would be "up in arms" by his behavior. I have never believed that Mr. Hart’s issue was entirely about the 16th Amendment. Now it seems, even Mr. Hart is finally ready to admit the 16th Amendment is for a fact Constitutional, if he was quoted accurately in this Press article. (Sometimes ya just gotta wonder.)

I believe anyone with any character at all, would step down over a divide that ones actions are causing in their party.  But not Phil Hart.  He continues to justify his actions and refuses to admit it was wrong, or at the very least that it is something that could be construed as divisive.

While I don’t agree with the statement Senator Jorgenson made in the article, (if he indeed did make such a statement) that “A group of wackos have taken over the party.” (Big mistake there, if you wanted to be effective, Senator Jorgenson), the truth of the matter is the Republican Party in Idaho is in trouble if they do not weed out troublesome candidates such as Phil Hart.

I heard over and over in the last election, "well, I have to vote my conscience". "I want to vote for someone with character." We all want that, don't we?  But will someone please tell me, where is the character in someone who will not get behind the candidate that won in the primaries? Phil Hart sure seems to understand that now when he and others he wants elected need the votes, but he neglected to do so in the Presidential election by supporting Ron Paul, and he took a lot of people with him to support a candidate that had no chance to win, thus dividing the GOP and giving us Barak Obama. You don’t think that happened? Trust me; it happened all across this nation. And I, for one, believe it was intentional. Ron Paul, supposedly the man with all the character, in fact, held his National Convention at the same time as the Republican National Convention. Tell me where is the character in that? When he lost in the primaries, he should have gotten behind the Republican candidate that won.  We have a two party system that works best with TWO parties!  And now it seems, at least here locally, that we have some of the same people demanding that people resign from their position in Republican party politics if they don't support Hart because he is the chosen candidate! Isn't that a bit hypocritical?  That ain't what Hart did last election!

I’ve noticed that sometimes we voters tend to put the candidates on a pedestal; like they can do no wrong. We will defend them vehemently at times and at all costs. The truth of the matter is we would be much better off if we just admitted they are all simply humans and they are going to make mistakes. But it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to vote for the BETTER candidate whether we agree with them totally or not. None of them are perfect, so there is no perfect vote.

Though Senator Jorgenson lost in the primaries, and was viciously attacked by members of his own local party - which I believe had a great deal to do with his loosing the primary - he has still come out in support of a candidate that he did not fully agree with in a letter to the editor of our local paper. Though he has not totally agreed with Raul Labrador, he still understands the importance of getting behind the Republican candidate. To me that shows true leadership. Name-calling does not.  And lately it seems that we are seeing more and more of that.

Due to a misinterpretation of a letter I wrote to the editor of our paper concerning this name calling, instead of people recognizing that as my point, I have been accused by some of not supporting Raul Labrador. So now it comes down to why I so much wanted that misstatement and accusation toward me corrected. Now, because of someone’s misinterpretation of my beliefs, I look like I am not justified in stating “I strongly believe in voting for a less than perfect candidate!!” Always have, and I always will.  I ALWAYS knew I would vote for Raul Labrador when he won the May primaries, though he was not my candidate of choice in the primaries. I believe it is extremely important to do so, if we want our party to win. Call it voting for the lesser of two evils if you want. I don’t care. I think we are all evil because the Bible says "the heart is evil and desperately wicked"…but I’m still going to vote for the better candidate! My letter was not intended to be in support of, or against Raul Labrador. It was intended to be in support of a citizen’s right and responsibility to ask questions and receive answers to those questions without getting blasted in the media. I wanted to defend and lend support to someone asking questions. It is a shame someone decided to pull out something else from my letter.

But I am getting a bit off track with that. That issue has little to do with the article in the Press today...other than the name calling aspect taking place.  However, I believe that little fact is very much a part of the fracture the Press is talking about and that is unfortunate.

It’s also unfortunate that the Press today in their article did not mention that there is a viable candidate for Phil Hart’s District 3 position. He is a Republican with conservative values and his name is Howard Griffiths. Mr. Griffiths is not like one of the candidates that came along as a “write-in” after they already lost in the primaries, as in the case of Murkowski in Alaska and our own Rick Currie here in Idaho. Rather, Mr. Griffiths decided to run as a write-in candidate (his only option) after Mr. Hart’s tax problems once again surfaced, becoming more and more troubling as well as more public. Griffiths added his name as a write-in correctly and respectfully. I believe that is noble and offers hope for ridding the party of someone as divisive as Phil Hart has been.  I, for one, will be marking the bubble next to the spot where I write-in Howard Griffiths’ name. I don’t care if he is perfect or not either. Phil Hart has got to go.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I think I love my home probably more than anyone should ever love their home. I love the country feel, the dirt roads, and the wide open space all around, only closed in to the north of us by pine trees. Right now, the sky is cloudy and the temperatures cool, but the blue birds are still active and there is a western blue bird sitting on the fence post outside my window where I sit typing my thoughts. I can't believe they haven't left yet. I heard the meadowlarks just a day or two ago as well. It seems they all are late in flying south this year.

Bella, my black lab, is looking at me through the window begging for entrance through the front door...she has already gained entrance to my heart, so I know I will get up in a minute to let her in. I just can't say no to those big brown eyes. Skeeter is grazing contentedly in the pasture and Matt is lying on the floor in front of the fire doing his Math. He just received a phone call from a friend and I love that, too; i.e. that he has lots of good friends that share his interests, and schooling; and that one of them will call most every day.

I always said I would never have my computer in my living room, but when we closed the store and I brought my desk and computer home, there was no other place it would fit. As it turns out, I love it being here, because I can still be a part of the family activity while I work; I can still enjoy the views from our windows; and if I want to, I can even look up once in awhile to see what is on the TV. From where I sit, I can see the flowers on my deck, the chairs, the bar-b-q and the porch swing. It looks so comfortable and inviting. I am thankful for that deck; but I know I didn't get out there nearly enough to sit and relax this summer.

I love my garden; and my yard, both front and back. I love the new little garden of wild flowers that I planted this spring which replaced the strawberry patch that I somehow managed to kill. I love my Mountain Ash which is covered in red right now, and I cherish the little Western Larch that create a border in the front yard. They were given to us by someone we love: my brother and sister-in-law, so that makes them even a bit more special.

I love that I know most of my neighbor’s names, and that most of us share same interests and life styles. There's a sense of community and it feels good. It's great to know if we needed help, we could call on a neighbor and they would come. In fact, just as Matt was talking to his buddy, he got an interrupting call from a neighbor who needs help in lifting something. I love that they would call...I simply love it.
I don't think there is a thing about my home that I don't like. Well, my house could always be bigger and the pasture and yard fences need tightening. I could do without my husband's junk pile along the side of the shop; but then, who needs perfection. It's country living; and I know that for a fact, when I see the farm equipment (most of it old) that lines the pasture.

The sunsets are awesome, and so are the sunrises. The mountains are close and so are the lakes. I love that we have four seasons and I know now, that it is ok that we are settling in to autumn. Things will soon slow down, snow will fall, days will become shorter and nights longer.

I could go on and on about my home, but Matt just got back from helping the neighbors....and how cool is that! They sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers....to brighten up our home....