Friday, March 27, 2009

Agape: From the Inside Looking Out on Winter

Before I leave for Virginia, where spring is already underway...cherry blossoms are scheduled to "peak" while I am is one last look at winter in the Northwest. It has been beautiful, but I am sure that everything will have quite a different look when I return on April 17.

Those of us who live in Agape have been quite snug throughout the winter. We have looked out these windows. We have looked out from the porch. We sit high on the hill and we look out and down, into and over the village.

The windows are decorated with brightly colored creations of paper which catch the winter light and lend a cheerful note to what can be a very dark season.

We look down past Lodge 2 and down and over the dining hall/hotel, and then the eye goes up, up, up the far mountainside to the big bowl created by Buckskin and Copper Mountains.

Pussy willows picked last spring are hanging on until a new batch can be picked to be put in a vase for the dining table.

Looking off to the east from the porch, Lodge 3 and the individual chalets in the distance are visible through the falling snow.

Buckskin looms over the village and is clearly the centerpiece from one of Agape's front windows.

More decorations to help keep the spirits light.

More folded paper stars and one of several plants take in the afternoon light.

And from the porch at night, we can see the lights of the dining hall/hotel. Above it, the moon rises into the big bowl formed by the mountains.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Not-So-New Post Office

This is the end of the counter in the not-so-new post office. It is not-so-new because everything in it was removed, piece by piece, from its former location in the corner of the bookstore. At one time it had been a part of the Holden Store and miners and their families could shop for necessities, check on their mail, and visit...all in one place.

The bookstore itself is currently in the process of a major renovation. During this week, a work group from Pacific Lutheran College in Tacoma is working there to prepare the space for the vicarious pleasures of shopping at Holden...a favorite place for everyone to leave behind some major bucks if they are not careful, discriminating, and iron-willed. The new and improved bookstore should be ready in time to welcome our summer guests.

This framed document, rescued from the wall before post office reconstruction began, now hangs in the not-so-new post office. It is an authorization for Alvin G. Holzhauser to become the Postmaster at Holden. It is dated February 4, 1941 and is signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Here is a close-up of Roosevelt's signature. Holden is very proud to be in possession of the original document after all these years.

Before work began with the crowbars and the hammers, Stephanie Carpenter, the manager of the Holden Bookstore, and Bill Somerville, a volunteer, take down the sign indicating the corner of the store's space is a post office.

Behind the counter, David Chiles begins the work necessary to separating the counter from the place where it has stood for so many years.

Bill and David ponder how best to remove the back counter in the space. The original Holden mail boxes hang on the wall to their left. Those boxes would also become a part of the not-so-new post office. (Nothing was thrown away. It was moved intact, or in pieces, and reinstalled in a different space.)

The back counter is moved to its new location.

This is a photograph of the inside of the Holden Store during the days the mine was in operation. The back corner is the former location of the post office.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sugar Daddies, Wax Lips, and Squirrel Nut Zippers

Planned for last September but canceled when Holden had to be evacuated because of the forest fire, the Miner’s Reunion (their 50th) was rescheduled and celebrated this past fall.

To put the finishing touches on the celebration, Stephanie Carpenter, who manages the fabulous Holden Bookstore, ordered (among other things) a wide selection of candy that was popular at the time. While it is not so popular at the moment, it is still available. Those of you who are over…say…50 will instantly recognize the names of these confections and will recall the memories associated with many of the ones that were offered for sale in the store.

The area in which the current bookstore is located was once the general store operated by the mine for use by the miners and their families. And those who returned for the reunion could tell you exactly where everything was located (there have been renovations in the former Holden Village Store over the years) and what was sold and the man who sold it to them. (Apparently, the person who ran the store at the time was blind from an accident in the mine and this job was created especially for him. Customers would often have to guide him through the intricacies of locating certain objects on the shelves…"a little more to the right"…"a little higher"…) But they did recall all the items for sale in the store and especially recalled having a bit of extra change for a favorite candy. It would be my guess (based on the most popular choice while they were here) that a Cherry Mash would have been their favorite at the time. It was certainly their favorite all these years later.

Here is only a partial list of the offerings. See if your childhood memories include any of these candy brands. Sometimes, the candy itself is a horror in this the age of granola and organically grown and pesticide free and free range and low-fat food products. It was…how shall I put this?…sugar. And it was sweet.

Necco Wafers, Root Beer Barrels, Smartees
Bit-o-Honey, Walnettos, Charleston Chews
Jelly Nougats, Now and Later, Mary Janes
Jujubes, Sen Sen, Goetze's Caramel Bull's Eye Creams
Zagnut, Candy Buttons, Chuckles
Sky Bar, Cup-o-Gold, Annabelle's Big Hunk
Good and Plenty,, Cherry Mash, Sixlets
Mountain Bars, Dots, Lemonhead
Bazooka Bubble Gum, Chick-o-Stix, Boston Baked Beans

My personal favorite, at the time I was 6 years old...about that time...was Niklnip...5 "bite’em, drink’em, chew’em mini drinks?" (5 tiny wax bottles of a sweet colored liquid. You were to bite off the top, drink the enclosed liquid, and then chew the wax for however long it took to rid it of its sweet flavor…or for however long you wanted to chew the wax. Sometimes, a 5-pack of Niklnip could be made to last the whole day.)

And lest we forget! (Or WHO could forget?!) The candy cigarettes and the bubble gum cigars! Politically incorrect at present, the authenticity of the nostalgia of the candy selection was guaranteed by the display of confectionery tobacco look-alikes. Yes, a few individuals made negative comments. More often, the response was, "LOOK! Candy Cigarettes!" And yes, the cigarettes still come with a bright pink tip.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sometimes You Just Have to Try

Fascinated by its mysterious appearance, I have been looking down the hill from Agape for many nights now, watching the changing pattern of the light coming through this back window of the kitchen.

The fantastical design is being created, in part, by the accumulation of snow that slides from the roof above. Here at Holden, that phenomenon is called a roof-a-lanche. With the continued accumulation of snow and with temperatures that edge above the freezing point during the day, sheets of snow lose their grip and gravity takes care of the rest.

The other contributor to the design is additional snowfall. We have had amazing amounts of snow to fall in the past few days. I am told that this type of extended activity is what usually happens early on in the winter and is why Holden gets closer to 300 inches of snow each year rather than the paltry 170+ inches we have had so far this winter season.

Last night, I stood at my window looking down at this window, and even though I knew for certain that the picture would be less than stellar, I had to get my winter gear on again and go down the hill and try. The snow was falling, falling, falling, so I was pleased to capture any image at all.

It was just a lovely scene.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Plan B

Plan B: This is what you do when your camera, normally your best friend, your ever-present companion, decides that it is unable to focus, and as a result all of your pictures look as if a wad of vaseline has been smeared across the lens prior to a reasonable request for a reasonable and routine "shot." You go back into your many stored images and select one that is pertinent and applicable to the story-at-hand and use it even though it has nothing to do with said story and was actually taken a month earlier at some other occasion, but no one is the wiser for using it in a later story...are you?

Take this picture of the homemade hamburger buns, for example. Now a few of you may feel inclined to question the choice of taking a picture of hamburger buns...EVER! But aren't they just the loveliest buns? We at Holden see them all the time...let me rephrase that...we at Holden see them every time we have hamburgers. No plastic wrapped tied-off packages of 8 buns for THIS establishment! The irony is that we rarely have hamburgers, so the sight of buns of any kind is a rare sight indeed! Hence, out comes the camera and the image of a basket of buns is captured and later stored in the computer.

This basket of buns was actually on the table for a "Beach Cookout" to celebrate the official "Sun Over Buckskin Day." The problem with the celebration of that event on that day was that it was a cloudy day...there was daylight, but no one could tell where the sun was...over Buckskin or not over Buckskin. But the party was planned, the outdoor grill dug out from under the snow, and the burgers "patted out." Don your beach wear and come on down! Knowing the words to Beach Boys music required. The party went on as planned; the sun did-or-did-not do its thing on schedule.

Only a couple days later, however, it was a sunny day (are you still with me here?) and in order to verify the authenticity of Sun Over Buckskin Day (i.e. seeing the sun crest the top of Buckskin), we had another celebration...this time at the hour scheduled for coffee break, and we had it outside where there were several cases of champagne chilling in a snow bank. Well, forget the basket of buns picture...bring on one with the champagne chilling in the snow bank!

But the original basket of buns photo is still stored, and I get it out today to accompany my sad story about my camera and to let you know that we have just had another occasion for which buns were required. The elementary school children sponsored a Starburger Cafe. It was set up on the first floor of Chalet 2 (our all-purpose palace) and had tables for 3 spaced around the room. Olaf Coffey was the maitre'd and greeted all the guests at the door and saw to it that they were seated. Elli Vegdahl-Crowell, Jordyn and Nyrie Mietzke were charming waitresses..."Hello, I am Nyrie and I will be your waitress this evening."

The buns were used for the hamburgers cooked on the grill outside by August Carpenter and high school teacher Dave Sather...and were they ever good! We had all the trimmings and milk shakes to accompany French fires! We are not that decadent as yet! It was a great night.

And I would have taken some charming pictures so that you could see just how charming it really was, but as I said, my camera....

But, I swear it! The buns looked just like the ones in the above picture!

And if we had been served hot dogs, the buns would have looked just like these ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prayer Flags

I laid my hand
A square of colored cotton cloth,
I hoped,
The whole of it
A dream
At once powerful and pure.

I embellished the perimeter
A continuous stream
Written symbols
Designed both
To encompass
To direct
The dream.

My small square
Of colored cotton cloth,
And others
Of the same size,
Were strung
And lifted up
To hang
So that the eye
Is drawn
To where the colors
Are set apart
Against the sky.

The heart must needs
The eye,
For it is
Linked together
And reaching upward
Toward the heavens,
Receive the sun,
Accept the rain,
Stiffen with frost.

Even now,
As the fabric fades,
As the edges fray,
And as the inked supplications smear,
It is there that
God’s breath
Falls upon them,
Moves them,
Stirring the corners,
Billowing the whole,
And turning the impermanence
Of these individual
Testaments of faith,
Into one prayer
With many