01 September 2007

The New Peace Corps? and where we've been

Found this interesting article online and thought to share the link for those who might want to read. It asks the question: Is teaching the new Peace Corps? Here's the link.

Yeah, I know, I haven't been around much lately, but there's been good reason for that... medical reasons mostly.

Everyone already knows about Jinx's breast cancer. For an update: Her one boob is gone, she's undergoing chemotherapy and she's lost her hair. When chemo's done (about 9 more weeks) they're going to take off the other breast. She's smiling, happy, and even writing again. (You'll see her column return in the 26 September River Journal.) She's not especially thrilled with being bald but, as I told her, she has remarkably beautiful eyes and they really stand out now.

My partner David was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. (We got the actual biopsy results the first weekend of the Festival at Sandpoint.) We're still in the process of discovering how this is going to be treated, as prostate cancer is a cancer where the 'experts' don't agree on the best treatments. He had an MRI last week to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, and we'll be meeting with an oncologist next week, plus have a meeting with a surgeon for a second surgical opinion the week after. David is also doing well, smiling and happy though he doesn't write at all. He is one of the most positive men I've ever met in my life and, if that means anything, it means he'll come through this just fine.

Last week, I also learned that my own 'cervical issues' have returned. I say 'issues' because my understanding is that this is NOT cancer - at least, not yet. It is, however, the last stage before it becomes cancer and therefore demands a response. I had hoped this was dealt with last year, when half of my cervix was removed, but I guess it wasn't. I've learned in recent internet research that approximately 36 percent of these 'issues' return even after the procedure that I underwent, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised. I will be getting an additional biopsy next week to determine the extent of the current problem so treatment can also be determined. There's a good chance that treatment will involve a hysterectomy, and that has me in a bit of a panic - not because I'm worried about losing my womb (my childbearing days are over anyway) but because of the cost. As a small business owner, I have no insurance. It should be an interesting experience. I, myself, am not smiling and happy but then, I'm not a very positive person. ;0) In addition, I'm in a program to stop smoking (have already cut my smoking by half) and while I know I need to do this, there's still a part of me that doesn't want to. All in all, though, I recognize life could be much, much worse. Even with this news, I am very lucky in the life I live.

School is starting, volleyball season has begun, I've finished my articles for the winter issue of Sandpoint Magazine and the River Journal continues to come out twice a month, which sometimes surprises me. Clark Fork won their football game at home last night and Laura (my birthday buddy and design mentor for the RJ) gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sage Lorien, last week.

10 April 2007

Sneak Peek- River Journal 11 April 2007

Here it is folks, and I'm back on schedule!

This issue features the debut of another new writer - Matt Haag of Idaho's Fish & Game. He's taking over JJ Scott's old role (as JJ retired) writing The Warden's Words.

Roberta Burdine took the River Journal to the Phillipines, and Jay Mock is this issue's Hotshot, with a glorious photo of an elk near Rapid Lightning Creek.

I got a call from Scott in Sagle regarding his proposal for solar roads as an answer to global warming. At first I wasn't too interested in it, but once I got to researching, it looks like a viable project. Though somehow I think it would happen a lot faster if he were in the Netherlands. Or Scotland.

Jinx wrote about a wolf visiting Elk Mountain Academy, Gretchen Ward, in her first appearance in the pages of the River Journal, wrote about global warming, and Gil Beyer sent us a report from Mexico on the Mayan calendar and "the end of the world."

No story on what's happening with the Clark Fork ordinances (and there really is news on that front) because I missed the meeting Thursday night when my son came home unexpectedly, and brought his new girlfriend for me to meet. I spent the evening enjoying family and didn't remember the P&Z meeting that night until the next morning. Ah well. Such is life.

Just a reminder about those season passes for this year's Festival at Sandpoint - get 'em now. Wow, what a lineup we have! The lineup's announced May 15, so rest assured, I'll let ya know who's gonna be here just as soon as we let everyone else know.

And now... time to throw some laundry in and maybe read the next few chapter's of Umberto Eco's "The Island of the Day Before."

04 April 2007

Sneak Peek 28 March 2007

It's hardly a "sneak peek" given that the paper's been out a week now, but at least it's all finally online, too, right here.

As for behind the scenes news - the biggest news is that the paper got done, given all the other projects that were due at the same time. Thankfully, the CFHS yearbook also got done, and is sitting with a printer in Pennsylvania. Why it takes months to print I don't know. Or actually I do - my sales rep told me they're getting in about 300 yearbooks a day right now.

Cassandra Cridland wrote a great piece on the Heron Players, including the menu for the upcoming show. For those who have been to the dinner theater in Heron before, yes, Victoria Denham is cooking again (yum!) and no, she won't tell me what the food actually is - it's a mystery meal, after all.

In my own column I wrote about "new" family I found in Mansfield, Louisiana, and that I was still waiting for pictures of them reading the River Journal. Well, the post office moved quickly with my subscriptions, because yesterday DeSoto Parish assessor Jimmy Stephens sent me a picture of himself reading the RJ at the Mansfield Battlefield. What a handsome guy! You'll see him down the road.

In other news... I finally sent out notification that my Imbris email and my Sandpoint.net emails will no longer be used - too many problems with their spam filters. I can't blame them - spam is becoming an enormous problem for businesses. But I also have to have email that works. If you want to email me, send me email to trish(at)riverjournal.com.

The 25th anniversary of the Festival at Sandpoint is shaping up to be awesome. I just got my last donation for the wine auction, which will be held April 27. This is a major fundraiser for us, and there's lots of goodies to bid on. Check it out here for tickets if you don't already have 'em. (And if you haven't bought the early bird season pass, I'll tell ya now - you'll regret it.) And check it out again next week, when our new and improved website will be online.

I also finished my stories for the summer issue of Sandpoint Magazine, which will hit the streets during Lost in the 50s weekend. Talk about a success story! If you haven't seen this magazine yet, then you want to get on the list.

Clark Fork's proposed new ordinances are moving apace. If the city takes the advice of the planner they asked to present at their last meeting, then they'll be backing up and re-doing this process - just what residents have been asking for. There's a meeting this Thursday night, so look for an update in our next River Journal.

Finally, I'm taking on a new project (I know, I know, what happened to the strength of my "no?") but this will be fun. I'm going to do volunteer indexing for the LDS church on one of their genealogy projects. You can check it out at here if you want.

Here's hoping that, with my biggest projects done, it's back to my "normal" crazy life.

25 March 2007


I think I'm pushing my multi-tasking skills to the limit as I'm coming up on some big deadlines in the next few days... a newspaper, a 96-page school yearbook, stories for the summer issue of Sandpoint Magazine, the collection of auction donations for the Festival at Sandpoint, a project to build new bleachers at Clark Fork High School, taxes...

And this morning, I read that even the New York Times thinks I can't do it all.

Still, isn't that just the politically correct thing to say?

In an article called Slow Down, Multitaskers, and Don’t Read in Traffic by Steve Lohr,
he says that four Vanderbilt researchers reported on the efficiency that's lost when someone attempts to do two things at once. "... researchers found that response to the second task was delayed by up to a second when the study participants were given the two tasks at about the same time."

I can actually read a book, and sing along with a song on the radio, at the same time. Through the years, that ability has driven my family nuts. (Most people can read and listen to a song, it's the singing it that stops some folks.) I'm sure I read slower when I'm doing that, but does that really matter if both things need to happen during a certain time frame?

Of course, what really got to me about this article was the old "cell phone in the car argument."
"But one implication of the Vanderbilt research, Mr. Marois said, is that talking on a cellphone while driving a car is dangerous. A one-second delay in response time at 60 miles an hour could be fatal, he noted.

“We are under the impression that we have this brain that can do more than it often can,” observed Mr. Marois, who said he turns off his cellphone when driving."

Let's have a little scientific rigor here. Because the inference isn't that talking on a cell phone is dangerous... it's that talking is.

So before we run out to make more laws banning cell phone use while driving, let's go ahead and deal with the real problem, and ban any talking at all by a person driving a car.

And now it's back to work. 'Cause while I can multi-task, my computer keyboard can't. Typing here means I'm not typing on pages that need to be completed.

See ya later

14 March 2007

Sneak Peek 14 March 2007 River Journal

It's out, kind of, and it's amazing that it is. None are delivered yet.... I had to come home first and get some work done before heading back into Sandpoint for a 7 pm meeting. And I also wanted to come home to print off a flyer to stick in the Clark Fork papers based on a telephone conversation I had with an attorney on my way back from Spokane with this issue. (I was in Sagle, actually.)

I talked with the attorney because I had raised the question at the Clark Fork city council meeting on Monday night whether they had conducted a legal meeting. Here's what I'm sticking in the Clark Fork papers (and will print in our next issue of the River Journal).
Clark Fork Residents:
Please note: the story on the continued controversy over proposed new ordinances for our city notes that at Monday night’s city council meeting, the question was raised as to whether it had been a legal meeting or not.
I was able to speak with an attorney who represents cities on my way back from Spokane with this issue of the paper. I shared with this attorney my recollection of actions taken on the night of the meeting, and the response was that nothing in what I shared suggested it had been an illegal meeting. This attorney, it should be noted, was NOT offering legal advice, merely an opinion based on the information I provided.
It is my belief, therefore, that the actions taken during the 12 March meeting of the city council were fully legal and I apologize to the Mayor for raising the question of legality in the first place.
Trish Gannon, Publisher, The River Journal
That's where it stands at this point, and I'll keep you posted if that information changes.

12 March 2007

Recovering from Alumni

Why does alumni weekend always fall on my deadline? I've been working 12 hours straight so far today, trying to catch up and have a paper I can send to the printer tomorrow. On the bright side the twelve hours haven't been too awfully bad because (1) I'm relatively sober (after drinking Friday and Saturday night, I managed one beer last night before falling asleep - WAY early - in the bathtub) (2) I had already laid out most of staccato notes, the one part of the paper I truly hate laying out and (3) I didn't have anything in this issue that I had to write myself. Yet. (City council meeting in about 20 minutes, so we'll see what comes up.) Maybe there's a (4) as well - as I can't talk today. Between this horrible cold/cough, drinking, and very little sleep, I've lost my voice. So I've avoided answering the phone. It's not only hard to hear me, it hurts.

I don't play alumni, and every year, as I watch the volleyball, I regret it. Maybe next year. But I spend the entire weekend taking pictures of all the players, and it's a job I love. Most of it's basketball, and I sit pretty much right under the net in order to get good shots. It looks more dangerous than it's actually been throughout the years - the worst I was ever hurt at a basketball game came when a player landed on me in the bleachers. This year, I only got hit once and, believe it or not, it was my own son who crashed into me. Beezer Ruen came pretty close, and I did a beautiful zig while a guy from Noxon did a beautiful zag that kept me from some painful injuries this year.

If I load these pictures correctly, however, the first one looks like Alan Potter was just about to take me out at the neck. He actually missed me by a good three inches. My reflexes are pretty good. The second pic is just to show you guys that it's not just kids who play alumni - we get returning players of all ages. I think Bob Hays, at 70, is our oldest.

I heard this great story from someone who shall remain unnamed but this person, let's call her "C" flies home to Clark Fork every year just for alumni. She meets up with her sister, "T" and they rent a room and make a weekend of it. C was telling me that she knew they were going to give a bed in their room to their old friend (a male) "M" because he didn't have a place to stay. So she gets to her room late on Saturday night, and here's T in one bed, M in the other, and some guy sleeping with his shoes for a pillow on the floor. C tells me she wakes up T and asks her, "who's the guy on the floor?" T says, "I don't know. It's some friend of M's who didn't have a place to stay so I said he could sleep on the floor." In the morning, C asks M who the guy is and M responds, "how the hell would I know?"

Welcome to Clark Fork - and welcome home, alumni. It was another blast of a year.

08 March 2007

Alumni Weekend

I don't want to even think about how busy this last week has been and how busy the days ahead of me are going to be. On the bright side, however, one of the reasons my upcoming days look so frantic is that this is alumni weekend in Clark Fork. Yay!

This is my second-favorite holiday, coming only after the 4th of July.

If you've never experienced alumni weekend, then know this - guys over 50 can still play basketball. Boy, can they!

Every year in Clark Fork, on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, alumni and others from all over the area show up at the gym at Clark Fork High School for some of the hardest-hitting basketball and volleyball you've ever seen. It's a community party, and I love it!

I think these "old guys" are just dying for the kids to graduate so they can meet 'em on the floor at alumni - and I'll tell you this, as a watcher, I think they believe you get extra points for fouls.

You've never had this much fun before. Here's a link to a commercial we cut last year for the radio with Clark Fork alumnus George Thornton that tells you what it's like.

The action starts this Friday night (March 9) at 6 pm. Three games kick off the tournnament.

It begins again Saturday morning with two basketball games starting at 8 am.

From 10:30 to 3:30 it's volleyball, then basketball again from 4:30 to 7 pm

On Sunday, Basketball playoffs start at 8 am. Volleyball playoffs begin at 10:30 am with the championship game played at 12:30. Then it's free throw, 3-point contests and "old guy" 3 on 3 for the spectators, before finisihing up with the consolation and championship basketball games starting at 2:25 pm.

It's a great weekend at Clark Fork and I'll be right there in the thick of it - tired, but happy that I live in the best place on earth.

04 March 2007

More Options for River Journal

This issue of the River Journal just out highlights three ways in which new technology is expanding the capabilities of newspapers.

The first, I've already talked about, is the issue of new ordinances for Clark Fork. Through free blogs like this one, we were able to set up the ordinances online, and allow for any and all to comment (good or bad). As city council stated it would be too time consuming to hold a public meeting and go through the ordinances one by one, allowing for citizen feedback, this approach gives a way for public comment that doesn't place an onerous burden on city council members. The only way this could have been better is if city council had done it first. So there's the first "yay" for technology.

The second "yay" is in Marianne Love's Q&A with Sandpoint city councilman (yeah, I'm not always politically correct) Helen Newton. The story is a fascinating one, and not all of it is in the pages of the River Journal. Marianne has posted a continuation of the story both on the River Journal's website and at her own blog.

Finally, Sherry Ramsey has issued a challenge to RJ readers to pay-it-forward, and let us know how you're doing it, with a promise to publish some of the most innovative and simple ideas. (Yeah, it was Sherry Ramsey who wrote that story, NOT Cassandra Cridland. And that's another story.) Technology doesn't really play a huge role in this challenge, though readers are asked to email their information to Sherry. But it is one more way that the paper is opening itself up to the readership.

In fact, the 9-11 Mysteries story even includes a link to an online version of the movie - so you can not only read about what people saw in Sandpoint, you can go check it out yourself.

I'm not sure where the future of the RJ will go in terms of technology, mostly because of the very steep learning curve in front of me whenever we do anything that's different. But we're exploring ways we can expand what we offer while still keeping this a "newspaper worth wading through."

By the way... I'm thinking our new font (Dutch) is a vast improvement over our trial font in the 14 February issue. My apologies to anyone whose eyes were hurting after that issue came out.

27 February 2007

Sneak Peek 28 February 2007

Oh my, oh my, oh my. What an issue.

There's so much to talk about that I'll save most of it for another posting and only talk about one thing right now (I have to leave in 30 minutes for a volleyball game.)

Our two big stories this issue are on the proposed new ordinances for Clark Fork.

Currently Clark Fork has 9 pages of ordinances but, if city council has its way, that's going to increase to a 75 page document.

What a difficult two stories to write. (I wrote one, Jinx wrote the other).

First, I'm impacted by this. If these ordinances are adopted, my property value will likely decrease, because I'll be a non-conforming lot and will be unable to make improvements without becoming conforming. Which I won't be able to do as I don't have the 125 ft of public road frontage required. So I'm not thrilled with some of what's proposed, even though a number of the ordinances are certainly needed.

But I'm less thrilled with the attitudes of city council. I mean, forgive my French, but they're all pissed off 'cause people are upset. And, of course, they're either not happy with me, or won't be when they read our stories. Never a fun place to be in.

But city council needs to pay attention to what the residents of town are saying they want (and don't want) or they're gonna deserve the recall petitions that are already circulating.

Mayor Tommy Shields is one of the nicest guys I've ever met, and I can't believe he would do anything to hurt this community - but he was so un-in-favor of the questions I asked for our story that he told me he didn't think he should talk to me any more without consulting the city attorney. (The Mayor's the go-to guy as far as getting an official statement from the council. Individual council members can only speak for themselves, not for the whole. That's why Tom had to hold the bag on this one.)

I guess I can't blame him because I suggested the council had held illegal meetings. See, I had Jinx go in and request copies of minutes from the meetings where they developed these ordinances. And the city clerk told her (in front of Mayor Shields) that they didn't keep any minutes. Tommy didn't say a word (as in, wait, Jonelle, you're wrong, of course we kept minutes.)
Without minutes, it's an illegal meeting.

I called Idaho Rep. George Eskridge about this and asked him to get an opinion from the Attorney General's office. See, if they held illegal meetings there's a question about how they remedy that. The "remedy" under law is they have to go back and do those meetings legally. But what does that mean? They met for a year and a half talking about this. Would they have to meet for another year and a half - legally - to remedy the situation? Or could they do that in one legal meeting?
Well, Tommy didn't like me pointing that out to him, I guess. And he responded that minutes were certainly kept of every meeting they have. He didn't offer any explanation of why we were told no minutes were taken.

I got this email from him on Sunday around noon, and I told Jinx we had to be there first thing on Monday morning to get minutes - because every cynical bone in my body (which is most of them) didn't like this inconsistency.

9 am on Monday and... there was a note on the door that City Hall was closed. I heard the clerk was sick. I don't know if that's true or not, but the crud is certainly going on.

By Tuesday morning they had minutes (I was told), though when requested they said it would take a few days to provide them.

I'm not feeling really good about this.
If there are good reasons for each and every one of those new ordinances (and I would expect that to be the case for most of them) then the council shouldn't hesitate to be willing to explain to the public just what those reasons are. There's no way the public will support new ordinances without an understanding of why they're necessary. I had hoped to get some of that information for our article, but the response from the Mayor was that ordinances were selected based on what the council felt would be good for Clark Fork. I asked a second time for any objective criteria that had been used, but by then the Mayor wasn't talking to me anymore. And the Mayor is the designated 'voice' of city council.

Anyway.... check out our supplementary blog on the ordinances (www.cforkord.blogspot.com) and see what you think about what's proposed. And we'll keep you posted on the other end of this.
(This posting was modified from the original in order to clarify a few points.)

21 February 2007

What Part of Government Don't They Understand?

Our next River Journal will include a story covering the city of Clark Fork's desire to increase zoning regulations and ordinances from the currently-existing nine-page document to a 78-page document (and hold your hats when you find out the kinds of things they want to regulate!). So I won't belabor the points here. But I do want to look at a related issue here, so consider this a sidebar story.

Over 80 residents showed up at last night's "workshop" on the new proposal. In a town of 530 residents (including children) that represents a substantial portion of the public. And city council expressed dismay and resentment at the public's concern.

"Where have you guys been in the year and a half we've been working on this?" is a paraphrase of their attitude.

You hear the same at almost every governmental meeting when something's going on that the public doesn't like, from school boards to planning and zoning to county commissioners. "Why didn't you come to meetings before this? Why didn't you get involved?"

There's a lot of answers to those questions, and, in a perfect world, all people would be interested, informed and involved in every aspect of governmental regulation of their lives. In fact, we'd all "do government" like New Hampshire or Maine or whichever state it is that votes in "town hall meetings."

In the real world, right here in Idaho, people don't have the time and generally don't have the interest or the specialized knowledge. They're more than content to let the people they've elected to make those decisions make those decisions.... until the people they elected make decisions they don't like.

That's life. When will people in government understand that? Quitcher whining already - you knew it was this way before you ran for office and if you didn't like it, you shouldn't have run!

The truth is, all governmental entities struggle with how to get information out and public participation in (though some, it must be said, would prefer not to have the public participation at all). And another truth is, they rarely do much of anything to accomplish that that takes the slightest bit of effort on their part, unless they've decided beforehand that they want to nip any public outroar in the bud. (Which is why you see lots of heavily advertised public meetings right before levies are run.)

Take Clark Fork, for instance. They say they post meeting notices on the wall of the post office. And they said they put a notice in with the water bills. (although it was pointed out that the notice in the water bill said only a meeting would be held, while giving no date, time or location for it).

Clark Fork is served by three newspapers - The Spokesman Review, The Daily Bee, and the River Journal. I'm not sure about the Spokesman, but the Bee and the RJ both post calendar notices at no charge. And speaking for myself - the River Journal - not only have I never received a calendar notice, I've also never received a phone call saying, "Hey, Trish, we'd really like to get some information out on this and get some people involved. Could you do a story on what we're doing?" And I LIVE in Clark Fork!

Never once have I seen a city council member hanging out at the gas station or the grocery store or the local restaurant saying "we've got something in the works and I'd like a little feedback." They've also not approached the school and asked "can we put a meeting notice on that huge, new reader board you've got right in the middle of town?" (I don't know if the school would say yes, but the point is, you don't know if you don't ask.)

The truth is, one little sign posted down at Hay's gas station (or even on the post office wall) saying "ATTENTION CLARK FORK RESIDENTS! Your city council would like to increase our nine pages of ordinances/covenants by an additional 69 pages and we want your input!" would have gotten them all the public attendance they wanted.

It's time for government officials to grow up and quit their caterwauling about lack of interest/involvement. If you truly want public involvement, it's really not that hard to get.

19 February 2007

Follies Success

"The best one yet!" That's the comment I heard over and over again after this year's Follies - the fifth for the Angels over Sandpoint.

Some numbers... well, the Panida was a sell-out of course. MickDuff's was selling 100 tickets for their live simulcast down the street. I heard they sold out too, and when we did our "walk-through" after our act was finished, the place was certainly packed. The 'nasty nuns' (see picture) collected $1,084 in donations for the Angels, and I think they sold about $800 in raffle tickets. And the bar did a booming business.

This is all great news because the Angels over Sandpoint do some pretty important things for our community. They give out scholarships to students, provide school supplies for students who need them, and provide meals/support/transportation for area cancer patients. The Angels are a wonderful addition to our community, and it's great to see their show be such a success - not just in terms of audience enjoyment, but in the ability to fill the coffers up in order to do more good work in our neighborhoods.

I had a blast with the Snews and people seemed to laugh at all the right parts. I'll have to wait for the video to know how well it went over, though. I do think the audience was surprised and entertained by my special guest - Mayor Ray Miller, who hammed it up perfectly on stage. Jinx was awesome singing "There's Lightnin' in These Thunder Thighs." Gail Fendly was her regular awesome self and Ernie had an extra act (reading literature) that I heard had the audience in stitches . (I was downstairs changing at the time so didn't get to see it). Susan Daffron was a gorgeous Egyptian princess. So all in all, I think we showed that the River Journal features some of the area's most talented people - and not just in writing!

17 February 2007

It's Mardi Gras!

Drove into Sandpoint last night to co-emcee the Mardi Gras parade with Dan Young at Dan's invitation. I told him that standing in the truck bed next to him with a mic in my hand kinda made me look for the punchline. You know... "a conservative and a liberal were standing in a truck bed..."

Truth is, of course, that while we tend to look for what makes us different from other people, it's kind of like the DNA of humans and chimps. We have more in common than we do that's different.

It was a fun experience, though I think our biggest audience was when a group of seven people or so gathered on the corner in front of Panhandle State Bank. I think the parade-watchers were all on First Avenue. And I hear through the grapevine that Dan and I just might be asked to co-emcee another event coming up in the not-so-far future. Seems like people think we complement each other well.

I wish our conservatives and liberals in state and federal offices got along as well as Dan and I do.

I'll be leaving shortly to head into dress rehearsals for the follies this morning, with the performance set to kick off around 7 pm tonight. Ernie and I managed one (yes one) practice of our material prior to today. So keep your fingers crossed for us.

I'll be driving into town with Jinx this morning, who's also performing in tonight's show. If you've never heard Jinx sing before, then you've missed a treat. This woman has a voice like an angel.

Oh, my beautiful oldest daughter was in the parade last night, and I got a picture! I won't put it up here, though, 'cause she was doing something weird with her lips and she'll kill me if I share that pic with anyone. She's gonna be a nun in tonight's performance, though, so I'll get some pics and post them of that. Probably not a nun like you would expect to see, however, so be warned if you check this blog in the next few days.

I hear that tickets for the follies sold out in six hours (not the ten I reported previously) so if you don't have one, you're out of luck for seeing the show up close and personal. But as far as I know, there's still room down at MickDuff's on First Avenue (used to be the Whistle Stop for those of you who've been around for a while) and they'll be presenting the show as a live simulcast on their big screen TVs. So stop in and pay the cover charge if you want a glimpse of the hottest show to ever hit Sandpoint. (Okay, those guys from Seattle who danced while taking their clothes off at the Big Boy Ballet were pretty hot - but they weren't locals). Bear in mind, this show is R-Rated (and some parts should probably be X-rated) so don't go to see it if you're easily offended.

Lessez les bon temps roulez, folks!

16 February 2007

River Journal 14 February 2007 - Sneak Peek

Better late than never, right?

The latest issue of the River Journal is off the presses and out on racks from Paradise to Coeur d'Alene and points between.
If you're wondering why the text on this issue looks a little dark... the answer is, it is. I had to use a new font for the body text because of my new layout program and, now that I see it in actual print, I can safely say that Cushing was not a good choice. We'll look for something a little less... full for our next issue.
Couple of empty spots on the pages too and I'm not sure how that happened, but that seems to be the only glitches I've seen so "GOOD JOB TRISH!" I can't believe I put this whole thing together using completely unfamiliar software.
By the way, don't read Marylyn Cork's story (Don't Eat the Meat) during lunch. Or breakfast. Or dinner.
Not only is this issue of the paper put to bed, I have my "Snews" script fully written for the Follies, and Ernie and I will be performing it live tomorrow night at the Panida. We've rehearsed it once, so I'm sure we're ready for this. :0)
I'll be heading out shortly to downtown Sandpoint's Round Red Square to emcee the Mardi Gras parade. I know of one entry that will knock your socks off - 'cause it's my own Misty. I'm not sure if she'll be wearing her 'nasty nun' outfit that she'll be debuting on the Panida's stage tomorrow night; but if so, I'll make sure to put up pictures.
So lessez les bon temps roulez! folks. It's Mardi Gras time.

10 February 2007

The Wrong Kind of High?

I woke up about 1 o'clock this morning when the fire had burned itself almost completely out. Staggering around half asleep I got more wood, and got the heat going again, then laid back down on the couch, where I sleep when I want to make sure I'm not gonna let the fire go out.

Somehow, with eyes barely open, I was at exactly the right angle to notice that the top of my chimney was no longer connected to the piece that leads through the roof and out of the house.

I said a bad word and wondered how long the chimney had been disconnected. And while there was no visible smoke coming out of the rather large gap, I thought about carbon monoxide and how I've been sick this week and how Amy comlained that every time she sat on the couch to do her homework she fell asleep, despite getting plenty of sleep every night.

I said another bad word and, still half asleep, pulled myself off the couch and over to the stove.

Did I mention I had just gotten the fire going again?

The chimney was merely very warm but the stove itself was pretty hot and it wasn't possible to brace myself upon it to get the chimney reconnected. And because the telescoping pipe that leads from the stove to the roof got a little bunged up during installation, bracing was a requirement.

After ten minutes I gave up, opened the window next to the wood stove, shut down the fire and took myself off to bed.

Come morning, of course, there was a stove to deal with, so I worked on the computer for a while, and mopped the kitchen floor. Finally, there was nothing left for it but to tackle the chimney.

First, I took it all apart, because the reason it had come unhinged was because every piece of it was unhinged. The chimney consists of a collar, a small pipe at a 45 degree angle, another small pipe at the opposite 45 degree angle, the telescoping piece that doesn't telescope, and the final run that goes through the roof. All of these were packed with cresote that had to be cleaned out because, if you're gonna move chimney pieces around, every bit of creosote that's in them will fall on your head.

That will happen when you clean them out, too, of course, so by the time I was ready to put it all back together again, I looked like the little match girl.

I took a break to clean myself up, and vacuum up all the creosote that had made its way throughout the living room, and to mop the kitchen floor again where I had tracked soot over to the sink.

I began to put pieces together, but at the end, the telescoping pipe MUST telescope up to the final connection. I couldn't make it do it, no matter how hard I cussed. I waited for Amy to come home.

Amy was thrilled to learn that she was gonna get to help me pull the telescoping pipe apart, and she made sure to garb herself in one of MY sweatshirts before doing so.

We still couldn't do it. Darn thing acted like it was welded together. "Mom, why don't we put some butter on it?" she asked.

NO, I didn't put butter on it. I did that the first time I had to try to get the pipe to telescope, and I learned my lesson as the butter smoked and cooked itself off of the heated pipe. Wax doesn't work, either (second time I took it all apart), nor does baby oil (third time). By the way, the only way to clean the chimney is to take it all apart - this is why I do this so frequently.

And why I never put the screws back in to any of the pieces.

As Amy's strength was not quite enough to help me pull the telescoping pipe apart, it appeared I was going to have to screw in each piece so that I had a strong base to pull against for that final step. This is easier said than done.

You see, from the collar at the stove to the receptacle at the ceiling, the pipes have to match up EXACTLY.

And that's where I'm at now. Screwing pipes in, getting to the end, and discovering I'm off just a quarter inch or so to making it fit.

I think it's time to work on the computer for a while. That way, I don't end up throwing the pipes out into the front yard.

Progress is Being Made

By this Saturday morning, I have over half of the 20 pages of the next River Journal completed, and completed in my new layout program, InDesign. As I said before, the learning curve is steep, but I'm loving this program.

Thanks must go to Sandy Compton, who not only nagged me half to death to use a professional design program for layout, but who took the most miniscule noises of agreement as aquiescence, and ordered the program for me. Of course both Laura Wahl and Susan Daffron, some of the best designers around, have told me for quite some time that I needed to move 'up' in the layout world, but there is that small issue of me and change.

Of course, the paper's only half done, and I might change my mind about how beneficial this particular change will be before deadline rolls around Tuesday afternoon.

07 February 2007

The Sweet Smell of Success

Let me say, first, that our River Journal/Keokee volleyball team won TWO GAMES last night! Yay! Combined with our one game win on the first night, we have now surpassed our own own record for last year. Let me give full credit to the coaching given us Monday night by Myra Lewis, former volleyball coach extraordinnaire. Yes, I AM squatting down to make the pass, and the ache in my thighs today proves it.

The success I'm celebrating this morning, however, has to do with writing the final script for the Snooze, the skit Ernie Hawks and I perform for the Angels Over Sandpoint production of the Follies each year. Special thanks to Susan Daffron, who helped by adding in some VERY funny stuff to my basic script. And as a heads up... there's going to be a "Special Guest Appearance" this year during our skit.

Didn't get your tickets to the show? You're not alone - tickets sold out ten hours after the "box offices" opened. But don't despair! Velma, Queen of Fun, has come up with a special attraction this year - the show is going to be broadcast live from McDuff's, just down the block from the Panida Theater. I also hear performers might be making walk-throughs of this Irish bar during the night. Should be a good time for all.

I think my script is pretty darn funny. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I'm right.

06 February 2007

Follies February 17

In just short of two weeks, the Follies (a production of the Angels Over Sandpoint) will be performed on the stage of Sandpoint's Panida Theater. It's the fifth year for this annual, Mardi Gras performance, and the word is out - the show is hot! Ticket sales began at 8:30 am last Friday, and were sold out just ten hours later. This is an adults-only show by the way. The Angels say it's rated R - for Racy, Raunchy and Ridiculous. And it usually is.

For five years, Ernie Hawks and I have performed a skit in the Follies called "the Snooze." Think of the Saturday Night Live news broadcasts with a local flavor (though Ernie has refrained from ever saying "Trish, you ignorant bitch.") (Actually, Ernie missed the first year)

Eleven days 'til performance... and I still haven't written the skit. This is not unheard of - I generally don't get it written until ten days before the show, but I have to tell ya, I'm getting a little nervous. To write that kind of comedy you have to enter into a different wavelength... and I haven't found it yet. I'm hoping I'll hit on it soon. Lucky for me, Ernie spent 20 years in Coeur d'Alene Little Theater so he's fairly calm about performing with little or no rehearsal.

I'm gonna be looking for those 'perfect waves' the next few days, and am happy for any suggestions that come my way about local happenings in the last year that just beg to be satarized.

If you didn't get your tickets, stay tuned. The Angels have some plans up their (wings?) that just might make your Saturday night an R-rated experience after all.

05 February 2007

What I did on my Vacation

It was a vacation week for me last week, and what I did on that vacation is probably less notable than what I did NOT do. Because I didn't work. Not really.

I had plans to work. I was going to print off the relevent financial information for last year and take it to my accountant so he could file my corporate and personal taxes... but I didn't. I was going to write my skit for the upcoming Angels Over Sandpoint Follies production... but I didn't. I was going to clean and organize my office... but I didn't. I was going to sort through my clothes and take to goodwill everything I don't wear... but I didn't. I didn't even post on this blog. (Sorry, Marianne.)

I did read and re-read a number of books, some quite good (make sure to check out Thunderstruck, a non-fiction book about the late 1890s and the lives of Guglielmo Marconi and Harvey Crippen. And Laurie Garrett's Betrayal of Trust is a perennial favorite for me). I watched a tournament of 10-12 year old girls playing club volleyball in Spokane. I attended the Erika Luckett concert at DiLuna's (AWESOME!). I played our second game of volleyball (losing both matches and thereby continuing our dead last position). I watched my favorite football team get creamed in Superbowl, and competed in Karaokee competition with my beautiful girls. I watched the last home basketball game in Clark Fork for our girls (again, awesome. Rayna Allen went out with a blaze!) and I visited with my son, who was down in our area for a week.

I also worked... a little bit. I taught my classes at Clark Fork (their newest newspaper should be out this week), and organized a meeting on our extra-curricular programs for the Booster Club. I did my bookkeeping work for the mad scientist. And I bought a new design program to do layout on the River Journal, and then lost myself playing with it on the computer for a couple of days, learning how to use it.

If I can figure this program out, it's going to save me a lot of time when putting together the pages for the paper, but until I do, the learning curve is going to be costly in terms of time spent. For example, it took me 35 minutes one day to figure out how to center text in a frame. And I still didn't actually figure it out - I mean, I didn't learn where the software stores that information. But I did find out a keyboard shortcut that works.

I have been putting together template pages for the next issue of the paper, and hopefully I'll be able to put those pages together without too much difficulty and in time for meeting my next deadline (next week). Keep your fingers crossed for me.

26 January 2007

Volleyball update

Last Tuesday night, the River Journal/Keokee co-ed volleyball team played our first matches of the Sandpoint City Rec season. After losing our first match (0-3) we realized our game problems were stemming from a complete lack of skill in, well, the fundamentals. That would be the bump, the set and the spike. Oh, and there were a few problems with serving, too.

I suspect the serving problems will iron out fairly quickly once we get used to having to hit the ball over the net on a full-length court. Our practice sessions on Sandpoint West's raquetball courts don't quite get you up to speed for sending a ball sailing over a net that's about 30 feet away from you.

And that net! About 8 feet high for co-ed, or a foot or a foot and a half higher than what we've practiced on. It doesn't seem that high until you're next to it, or until you see our teammate Carol Curtis (all 5 feet 1 inch of her) standing next to it. It intimidated the heck out of me. At least, that's my excuse for why I wasn't able to pop the ball over it when I was playing in the front row (much less jump up and slam the darn thing into the opponent's court).

We lost our second match, too, though we did win the final game. I had thought we had a chance in the first game until their power server took the court and aced us something like 14 straight times. Well, he didn't actually ace us, as we were connecting with the ball. We just weren't connecting with the ball correctly, as was evidenced by its wild path through the air and into the other courts out at the fairgrounds.

We practiced again last night, again at SWAC on the little court. I think I might have ticked everyone off a little bit when I insisted we work some passing drills. It just seemed to be that if we can't get control of the ball, then it's not gonna matter whether we can set or hit as we'll never get the chance to. Go ahead. Call me a volleyball nazi. I mean, I like to get out and play to have fun; don't get me wrong, it's not about winning. But I don't like losing! (I should mention, by the way, that if I had to rank my teammates in terms of their passing skills, I would have to place myself pretty near the bottom of the list. Like, right AT the bottom.)

I think we made some progress with the drills, and before our next game Tuesday night I'm hoping to have a little 'talk' about how to move your body from one part of the court to another, and where your feet and your shoulders should be pointing while you do it. I now appreciate the high school girls' drills on "shuffling." I'm kind of weak on that, too. I shuffle well enough from side to side, but when I have to go forward or back, I forget all about shuffling and try to run to the ball - which usually results in me tripping over my own feet.

We'll see whether they go for my 'pep talks' or whether they kick me off the team. I'll let ya know after the next game.

23 January 2007

Behind the Scenes - 24 January 2007 River Journal

It's 4:39 an I aim to be done with this post by 5 pm so I can call it a day. As I didn't start working until 7:30 this morning, it's a rather short one, especially considering that today was deadline. Yep, another paper has been uploaded to the printer - you can pick one up on Wednesday, or check it out here. You'll love Sherry Ramsey's investigation of the area's wine culture, and Marylyn Cork's sneak peek at the newly restored Naccarrato House in Priest River's Settlement.

That the paper is done is especially amazing given how I woke up a couple of mornings ago to find my computer had crashed and I have to say, it's not a nice way to start the day. (Read about it here)

It's also amazing as I've had just the slightest difficulty moving my arms. Yes, after waiting a full year to practice, the Keokee/River Journal volleyball team finally got together to practice last week. Surprisingly enough, we haven't improved over that year of no practice, which will make tonight's games (the first of our season) rather interesting.

Marianne Love's column this issue is a fascinating look at a term in the Peace Corps, seen through the eyes of Sandpoint's Betsy Dalessio. You can read it here, or at Marianne's blog (see the link to the right to Slight Detour) just as soon as I let her know she can post it.

We feature another new columnist this issue. Michael White, a Realtor with Sandpoint's Coldwell Banker Resort Realty and an estate land manager with a BS in Forest Resources and Ecosystem Management will endeavor, once a month, to keep our readers posted on the information that will help them manage their property wisely. Read his first column here.

Finally, we'll be sharing with you each issue a recipe from the Community Assistance League's new cookbook, "Savoring Sandpoint, Recipes from Across the Bridge." Here's a tasty treat to get you through the cold days of winter:
Serves four to six
1 ½ C Onions, diced
3 T Olive oil
1t Garlic, minced
6 C Chicken broth
1 C Carrots, peeled & diced
1 C Sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
1 C Rutabaga , peeled & diced
1 C Celery root, peeled & diced
2 Chicken breasts
3T Tarragon
Salt & pepper
In a large saucepan, sauté onions in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and cook on medium heat until golden. Add broth, carrots, sweet potatoes and rutabaga, Partially cover and cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Add celery root and chicken, cook about 5 minutes more. Add tarragon, salt & pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes until vegetables are soft but hold their shape. Serve immediately.
The above recipe is one of over 250, double tested, recipes in Savoring Sandpoint, Recipes Across the Bridge, a cook book published by the Community Assistance League. Copies of the book may be purchased only at the Bizarre Bazaar, 105 Vermeer Drive, Ponderay, Idaho 208-263-3400

09 January 2007

10 Jan 2007 River Journal - a Behind the Scenes Peek

The inhalation of the last Mounds candy bar leftover from the Christmas stockings coincided with the last file of the current issue of the River Journal being uploaded to the printer. You can read it here, but first, how about a sneak peek at the 'behind the scenes' action with this issue?

Of course, where to start? First off, you might notice I've been tinkering with the look of the front page again. I do that a lot, mostly because I'm self-taught at design and layout and figure it can always be improved. If you like how it looks, let's give credit where credit is due - to the never-ending thoughtful advice of Keokee's design wizard Laura Wahl, who is responsible for the wonderful look of Sandpoint Magazine.
A big change is the "where in the world is the River Journal?" photo is now just one column wide, leaving room for a timely picture of happenings in our area on the front page. This is another item I've avoided, mostly because I didn't want to make the time commitment to attending enough events to make sure each issue had a photo. And then it hit me - why not let our readers provide the photos? And so the "River Journal Hot Shot" was born. Bonner Awards is making the mugs as I type, and let me encourage each and every one of you, right now, to submit those photos!
This first issue of the year kicks off with the first column of our newest columnist - historian extraordinnaire Nancy Foster Renk. Her column, Backtracking, will take us through the last 100 years of happenings in Bonner County, in honor of the county's centennial this year. Look for her column in the first issue of each month.
Cassandra Cridland took on, without hesitation, the stories of the CIRCLES project, despite my crediting the last story she wrote to Sherry Ramsey. We got her name in there correctly this time, and she did a great job explaining how a small group of people in Bonner County are working to eliminate poverty in our area.
Jinx may have a few surprises in store for people when they read her story on Family Violence, as she talks about her own experience in living through such a situation. It was her hope that in describing some of what she lived through herself, she can encourage others in that type of situation to take the action necessary to get out.
You won't see it online, but the print edition of this issue kicks off our first-ever (I'm pretty sure) crossword puzzle. I'm not sure why so many readers have requested a crossword puzzle, but I was never that excited about providing one - I mean, you pay for those things and it didn't seem worthwhile to me. But some folks, at least, want one and it finally occurred to me - why not make up my own? And make it all with local questions? It's kind of a 'local trivia contest' and I thought the questions might be too easy - but so far, no one who got a 'sneak peak' has been able to get them all right. It will be interesting to see what people think of it.
Another new feature is the "Top News Stories" of the last few weeks. Kind of a USA Today approach to the news - my attempt to provide our readers with at least some information on what's been going on, without trying to find the time or the room for in-depth features. As lots of people keep telling me, "you know, not everyone reads the Bee." (or fill in their local paper.) One thing I like about RJ is we're still a free newspaper - so we provide access to information to any who want it.
Jody got his "Surrealist" column ("Reel" Good Bad Films) in early, as he took off for a week in California, taking my now 16-year-old daughter with him. It was a great trip, he said, and never fear - he's back in time to get the print edition delivered to Bonners Ferry and other points north of Sandpoint on Thursday.
Finally, Lou Springer sent in a great piece on a little happening in Heron this holiday season - when a community came together to make sure teacher Kathleen Huntley, widowed this year, was kept busy thinking about her "12 days of Christmas surprises." As Kathleen was quoted in the article, "This is why I choose to live here. The community is filled with caring people..." Yep. That's why I choose to live here, too. What a wonderful group of people we share our surroundings with. Kathleen, by the way, was a teacher's aide at Hope Elementary back when my almost-20-year-old son was in first grade. And as a left-hander, she was able to teach both my left-handed children how to tie their shoes, something I had been totally unable to do. (Thank goodness they'd come up with velcro by then.)
That's it for this issue. I head to Spokane bright and early in the morning to pick up our newest issue "hot off the presses" and get it delivered from North Idaho College to Clark Fork. (Jody gets it to Bonners Ferry... and my mama takes it out to all the Montana delivery points. Yeah, it's a family newspaper all right.)

06 January 2007

Some feedback

I sent my little "weekly" idea off to the River Journal writers, and some of their feedback is too precious not to share.

From Boots: "We're right behind ya!" (So don't bend over.)

From Jinx: "You are the RJ God, you can do what you want to." (Did you get that - the RJ God! I may have to change my title!)

From Lou: "Can you live with a weekly deadline? And a (boatload) of more work? If so, go for it!"

From Jim Tibbs: "Would that mean a weekly cartoon? I'd be happy to oblige."

From Susan: "That would be interesting. My advice: outsource everything!"

05 January 2007

Looking for Feedback

It's that time of year when I look over what the paper has done in the year before, and what I'd like to see it accomplish in the coming year. And I'm always looking for feedback. We're already making some changes, so look for 'em next week when the first issue of 2007 hits the streets.

Here's the big question, though: should the River Journal go weekly? That's the number one question I get asked about the paper, for the last five years.

I've always responded "Never," because it's too much work. But what if we did a smaller RJ every week, say, 12 pages as opposed to 20?

There's a lot of pros and cons to work out and, as always, I'm looking for feedback. What do you think? What do you see as the pluses and minuses of doing that? I'll be interested to hear from you.

I won't make a decision right away but if we do it, the target date is July 1.

02 January 2007

Special for Tony

If you want to comment on a post, simply click on the link at the bottom of each one that gives a number of comments (usually it says "0 comments"). That will bring up a screen that lets you leave a comment, or a pithy observance, or a sarcastic remark, or an explosive exposition... good thing I don't know where my thesaurus is, I'd go on all night.

Are these resolutions?

I chained myself to the computer today as part of my goal to organize my time just a bit better this year, and got a number of pages of next week's River Journal laid out and ready to go. I also spent quite a bit of time on a new feature we'll be debuting. No, I'm not gonna say what it is, you'll have to pick up a paper to see. But I'm really excited about it. I also got to lay out our newest columnist's debut article - local historian Nancy Renk is joining our fold as of 10 January. I thought I would get 1099s done and ready for tomorrow's mail, only to discover, when I opened the envelope, that the IRS sent me 24 copies of the instructions for the 1099 instead of the 1099 itself. Hmm. Guess I'll be stopping at Vanderford's tomorrow.

I haven't quite kept up with the house stuff like I was planning to, but the night is still young. It's just possible the Christmas tree will come down and I'll fix that dryer vent yet tonight.

I'm back on the ab-buster (150 times a day) after getting ready for New Year's eve and discovering everything I own to wear is clingy. Even things that aren't supposed to be. The challenge now is whether I hate exercise even more than I hate my flab. Okay, the truth? 150 times on the ab-buster yesterday, none yet today. But as I said earlier, the night is still young.

I was thinking I would try to worry less about my kids this year, but so far it's not happening. The Princess (Amy) is on a trip to California with my brother Joe. They're in San Francisco tonight... and, of course, she's driving. Tomorrow she'll celebrate her 16th birthday in the big city and then the next day they'll head down the coast to Santa Barbara. I told her that it was up to her but, on the drive down (they flew into Portland, then rented a car there) I would prefer it if she didn't drive across the bridge at Lake Shasta. Lucky for me, she slept through that part of the drive. I would also prefer if she skips most of the coast (if they take 101) around Carmel, etc.., but I guess she's got to learn sometimes - and call her mother frequently to check in.

Then the Boy (Dustin) called tonight to let me know he's in the emergency room at Kootenai Medical having his leg stitched up. Seems he fell at work on a wet floor and landed on something not so comfortable. He told me he'd "text message" me a picture of the wound. I can hardly wait. I'm being good though... I'm not driving down to Coeur d'Alene. Yet.

I'm so glad we have New Year's. I might never make resolutions without it.

Happy New Year

And 2007 begins.

Although I've been waiting for Ernie and Linda to post the news of their New Year's Eve activities (they said they were planning to be in Venice for the show) their blog still has some wonderful information/stories/pictures about their days in Italy so far. Check it out here.

Marianne Love has posted actively throughout the holiday season. Catch up on the Love family news (and check out the new spotted filly roaming the Central Valley) here.

Despite my grandiose plans for the holidays (all the stuff I was going to get done) I spent most of it sleeping. When not asleep, I was reading or watching movies. Didn't do much more than that, and boy, do I feel better than I have for a while.

My pics: check out (in theaters) Night at the Museum. Hilarious... one we'll buy when it comes out on DVD. On video/DVD: Invincible. (the story of Vince Papale and the Philadelphia Eagles.... and yes, Dustin, I cried.) In books: (hard to pick just one but...) Gerry Spence's Bloodthirsty Bitches and Pious Pimps of Power: the Rise and Risks of the New Conservative Hate Culture. It will make you think... and not just about conservative hate, but how we respond to it ourselves. (I haven't spotted any great non-fiction books I wanted to read in the last month, so I re-read Terry Brook's Shannara series. Yes, a lot of ideas stolen from Tolkien but still a good read after all these years.) Music: I've been enjoying the heck out of the Corinne Bailey Ray music Misty got for me.

Football Highlight of the New Year: No, I didn't watch the BSU game (no TV, remember?) but here's what David said: "what a game !! Boise St was beating OK, then OK came back and took the lead. then on 4th down Boise pulled off a touchdown to tie it with like 7 seconds left. then it went into overtime and Boise St went for two, after OK had already scored and gone for one extra point. It was win or lose and Boise won. The are undefeated, wow!"

Football Highlight of the Old Year: I'm not sure how they pulled it off, but Barb's Kansas City Chiefs are in the playoffs. Yay for Barb! (da Bears would have been my highlight, but they went and lost to the stupid Packers at Soldier Field. I'll never hear the end of it.)

Vacation's over so it's back to work for me. The next issue of the River Journal comes out January 10, plus I have to close out the year and do all that tax stuff. Gonna be a fun week.