Raven's smile is hard to catch

Raven’s smile is hard to catch

Our son Raven is now 13. You’ll hardly ever see a photo of him as he hides from the camera. Yesterday I gave him a bowl of frosting to clean out and I had him!

He is not actually Klallam, but Tlingit. However he and Seneca participate in the activities of the tribe in order to learn more their Native heritage.

bowl of frosting

With the frosting bowl

Raven is active in the After School Program of the Klallam tribe where kids have a chance to learn about Klallam culture, music and language, as well as get help with their school work and participate in activities of the tribe. Raven attends every day after school.

Last week an amazing Culture Fair was held at the Long House at Peninsula College, with the after school group from the high school and Raven’s group from the middle school. The President Peninsula College, Luke Robbins welcomed everyone, as did Frances Charles, tribal chairperson.

. president

The displays presented by the students included posters telling the history of the tribes, about their music, medicine, language and native plants. posters baners over tables

There were many activities offered such  beading , and games such as tic tac toe played using the the Klallam language.

beading

Beading

The Bone Game, a traditional gambling game, was demonstrated.

bone Raven

Gary and Raven play the bone game

merrily bone game

Sissy and Merrily play the bone game

And a traditional button blanket, make by the students was presented to the college.

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Eagle button blanket made and given by the students for the Long House

Klallam singers and drummers shared music.

Klallam singers and drummers

Klallam singers and drummers

Then small traditional gifts, made by the students, were given.

Gifts made by the students for the guests

Gifts made by the students for the guests

cedar roses

Small cedar roses

It was a great celebration and it gave the community a chance to learn more about this amazing culture.

Thea sweat shirt

Here are Thea and Knox. Thea is our 16 year old granddaughter and Knox is now a Seeing Eye dog through Guide Dogs for the Blind.  Thea volunteered to raise Knox from puppyhood until he was ready to be trained.

First she had to participate in a training program with is offered in her school.   She learned that puppy trainers provide love and socialization to the puppies. Each year Guide Dogs for the Blind dog produces about 900 puppies which are placed with caretakers in the Western States.   The puppies are born so that in June they have reached the age where they are ready to leave their mothers. Knox arrived at the Holcomb household ready to learn and the first thing he was taught was to relieve himself on demand. This is an important skill for a guide dog. Knox went to school with Thea in the fall, wearing his little harness. Thea met with other classmates and their dogs several times a week as training progressed.

Guide Dogs for the Blind is a non-profit organization based in California. About 500 of the 900 dogs raised each year will actually be found suitable to work as guide dogs. Other dogs will be trained in other services or will become pets.

Knox was an eager learner and his training progressed very well. Thea loved him, but knew that at the end of the year she would be faced with parting with him so that he could go on to actual guide dog training in California and eventually be assigned to a blind or visually impaired person.

It was a sad and happy day when Knox was put back on the puppy truck for his return. Thea said, “It was exciting to realize he would go to do something fantastic that would change someone’s life.”   Four months later he had received his training and it was time for him to graduate and to meet the person spend he would spend his life serving. Thea and her mother and sister flew to California for the graduation. After the ceremony they met this person, a visually impaired woman from Arizona.   She felt especially lucky to meet Thea and to thank her.

They went for a walk together and Thea was pleased to see Knox behave perfectly when guiding her across the street. Knox, of course, recognized Thea and was excited to see her but knew his duty was to assist his new partner.

thea capitol

Odette, the dog Thea is training now

Thea is considering a career in guide dog training. It requires a college degree and a three year apprenticeship. Was this a good experience?   Yes, it was, Thea and her family are now involved with training a second dog, Odette!

 

ted ping

Ten Ping, a tiny favorite

 

dolls

Dolls on display from our shop, Apple Tree Dolls and Bears

 

girls in booth

Young customers

 

My doll club held its annual doll show last weekend and Seneca enjoyed herself as usual. The doll show is the  place she can get new outfits for her dolls and she brought her American Girl doll along for fittings. She was right in line to have herdoll’s hair styled by one of our members.

 

diana

She helped with our little foster girl who was gifted with a doll and another toy by some kind dealers.

seneca and anna

Seneca with our foster daughter, playing with new dolls

 

Seneca found a special doll she wanted and luckily she had enough money left from her birthday to make the purchase. On the way home she hugged her new doll along with her old favorite. I love it that she loves dolls!
new doll

A few weeks ago Seneca was talking about wanting to work on a cruise ship someday. She asked me if you must go to college to do such work. I suggested that she write to the cruise people and ask them. A few hours later she had created a very sweet letter to her favorite cruise line, Holland America, asking her question and throwing in a few details.  She mentioned that she has been  on four of their cruises and that she had a birthday coming.

holland america

Two weeks later a FedEx box came for Seneca and inside was a model of a Holland America ship along with a letter. She was advised to go to college if she could, and to apply on-line when she was ready to go to work. She was also wished a Happy Birthday. Nice to have a company with a heart, and the letter certainly created a lot of excitement at our house.

beach bucket of clamst

Razor clam dig this weekend! Clams are protected and there are only a few days during the year when digging is allowed. We try to be here at Ocean Shores for these dates, we love razor clams! Ted and I are both from this area and have memories of digging clams as kids, dragging gunny sacks of clams across the beach behind our parents who generally did the digging. Diggers are now limited to 15 clams each. But we find that 25 or 30 clams is enough for our family to eat fresh, the best way to enjoy them.

bech ted digs

The digging time depends on when the tide is low and that is often in the evening. Clams are only dug during the cold months, which often means digging at night by the light of  Coleman lanterns. However, this weekend the low tide is late in the afternoon, which makes digging much nicer.

beach two diggers

The weather was about as good as it gets, cloudy but with no wind and no rain. Beach is spectacular in gray and silver with the sun reflecting off of the sand. The beach is nearly empty as our diggers walk down to the shore to dig. The digging process itself is wet and sandy, and unexpected waves often roll in to fill boots and shoes with water. It is all good fun though and within a half hour or 45 minutes we have enough.

All who dig are required to help clean the clams. It is a process that takes awhile as all sand must be removed.   They are fried immediately.

beach reacy to eat

This is one of the special treats we get to enjoy as a part of living this area and we are grateful!

beach sen and tif eating

 

granny

It is hard to find a good photo of Gramma, she liked to hide from the camera

My grandmother had many tips and quips about life and she loved to share them. Though she has been gone for more than 25 years, her words of wisdom come back to me.

Many of her “rules” came from her basic philosophy and had to do with what she believed and how she lived her life. She told me many times, that there are three important things that one should always have, even if finances are tight.

She believed that everyone should have good bedding. Quality bedding, sheets pulled tight and bed made every morning, were things I learned from her.

She believed that everyone should have plenty of good quality underwear. Our underwear generally comes from Penney’s but when it sags or tears, out it goes.

The third things she insisted was important was that we not eat from cracked or chipped dishes.   With a houseful of children we often chip dishes. But we couldn’t toss a whole set when a few became chipped.

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Yes, some of the dishes were in very bad shape.

Recently we realized that many of our dishes were chipped in more than one spot and they needed replacing. However, the dish sets we found all contained cups and saucers as part of the set. We use coffee mugs rather than cups and saucers and didn’t want buy them when we wouldn’t need them. Finally we found an attractive set that came with only plates in two sizes, and bowls. They were so reasonably priced that we bought six sets. We will have plenty of replacement parts.

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While going through the cupboard we sorted out the many many little dishes that had been collecting.l

Gramma was right, it does feel good to look at a nicely set table with no chipped dishes. And there is an great sense of satisfaction that paying attention to these three principles brings me.

New dishes neatly stacked.

New dishes neatly stacked!

bins

Red bins full of Christmas memories

It is time to trim our collection of Christmas memorabilia. We decided to spend the morning sorting.

When we were first married, while Ted was still in law school, we didn’t have much money to spend, but each Christmas we would buy a small figure of an angel and one of a Santa. The tradition stayed with us and now 53 years later we have dozens and dozens. Time for some sorting and thinning. Silly Santas had joined the collection as well as stuffed Santas, a Santa stapler, a napkin holder, things that really didn’t add to the of meaning of the collection.   So we began tossing.

miss piggy

Miss Piggy is gone now, along with this box of odds and ends.

Miss Piggy in a Santa costume was easy to toss and a few others as well. Then we got to bins with things like the tin of half burned candles. Out. A box of ornaments carefully wrapped in paper dated 1987, which should have been tossed then, went out, they had not been opened since then. Tarnished? Chipped? Out they went.

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Dozens of Christmas stocking most belonging to children who have lived with us.

Next were the Christmas stocking, all of our kids, grand kids, foster kids and a few assorted others, had stockings with their names on them, no matter how many years had passed since they spent a Christmas with us.. These I could not part with. Each brought special memories, especially the two that had belonged to our sons who are no longer living.

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My childhood stocking. My mother embroidered my name on it. Two of these stockings belonged to our first born children and the Hawaiian Santa belonged to my father.

We sorted through all 12 bins. We sent two boxes to the trash and sent three boxes to the Good Will. And brought our total down to 8 bins. It is a start!

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Click here to see the complete report.

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If you asked any of our children what special Christmas food is their favorite, most would say, “Christmas bread.” I bake it each Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning we eat it while unwrapping the packages.

I was a little late getting going on it this year and about 3 o’clock on Christmas Eve I was ready to start. But I realized that if I started at three, it would be risen and ready to bake just as we were  to leave for church.  So, I decided to wait, start it a little later and let the dough rise while we were at church and bake it after church.

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All went according to plan, when we got home from church the dough was perfectly risen and ready to roll out. I rolled the dough, filled it with cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and sugar and formed the bread rings.  Then I put them on pans to rise again before baking, which takes about a half hour.

I got busy doing the things a parent does on Christmas Eve and was ready to go to bed when I next thought of them, they had risen and risen until the little cell walls had burst and then fallen, almost flat. There was nothing to do but go ahead and bake them  though they came out rather flat.  I figured frosting and cherries would help hide the problem.

The Christmas bread was a hit as usual.   I am probably the only one who knew that it was less the perfect this year.   This morning our little foster boy had the last bite.  That little guy loves my cooking!!

And if you would like a copy of the Christmas bread recipe, send me an email!

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Last to be added are the cherries.

 

Advent is the season of waiting, longing and preparation.  We are waiting and preparing—

wreath

 

We made a space on the porch for a swag of greens which we bought from an organization working to reduce teenage drinking.

We cleaned the guest closet and took out unused coats to give to the church clothing closet and to leave space for coats of visitors during the season.
closet

We cleaned and emptied a corner of the house in preparation for the Christmas tree.

empty corner

We noticed that Seneca has posted a rather lengthy list of things she would like to receive this year, in preparation and anticipation.

list

And the kids created two different ginger bread houses for us to enjoy.

boys

girls

Soon we will begin making candy which is to be our Christmas gift to friends and relatives this year.

There is much busyness but  we attempt to quiet ourselves to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

 

There never seem to be enough foster home places for the children who need them. We have been a foster family since the late 1960’s and the situation has gotten worse.  Hardly a weekend goes by that I don’t get a call or an email asking if we can take a child, or pick from a list.  Typically they are teenagers waiting to get into drug treatment or kids who can’t get along at home.  My heart goes out to each and every one, but we simply cannot take them all.

About a month ago we got a call late on a Friday afternoon from another county (they seem to find our number) asking if we could take an angry three year old. No problem, I thought, but we were headed to our place in Ocean Shores.  I was told they could work with that, they would take him to us at Ocean Shores.  He arrived about nine at night, exhausted but still capable of a good scream before settling into bed.  He had been through a traumatic experience and was either very frightened or very angry.  Next morning he shrieked and screamed, kicked and hit.  We gave him his space and encouraged him to join our activities.  He was resistive of every change, just telling him it was time to eat would cause shrieks of “I don’t want to!” at full volume. He was angry all right, but gradually things calmed down.  We had committed to taking him for only the weekend but by Sunday night we began to think we might provide a temporary home for him until he and his sisters and brothers could be returned home.

I was starting my last weeks of employment by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, however, and I knew if he could not be in day care it wasn’t going to work. The first day in day care he scratched one child and bit another, but the day care folks were willing to work with him!!   Things continued to improve at home when his social worker told us about his 12 year old brother.  She thought it would be good for the boys to be together.  The brother  had none of the angry behaviors and we agreed to give it a try.  He is a calm and cheerful boy, but his arrival upset the little guy who was now crying whenever he had to be away from his brother.

A week later, Friday, we got a call asking us to take a 17 year old girl with her 8 month old baby. Again, we committed just for the weekend.  She is a good mom and very attentive to the baby. And Seneca thinks that the little bald baby is wonderful, and he has a terrific giggle.

So suddenly we are a family of six kids. With foster children we never know from day to day how long  they will need a place.  This year we have cared for a total of 24 children. One of the things that keeps us going is seeing the changes that usually do occur in kids as they live in a more stable environment.

We took four, but I had to say “no” to about 10 children during the past month.

Yes, there is a need for foster families, for kids of all ages. Please help us spread the word!