“Lend and Ear and Listen to my Version”

I've got my fare and just a trifle to spare

My mom passed away last week.  I found myself wanting to call her yesterday even though she’s been in St. Anthony Village with dementia for about seven years and wouldn’t even know what a phone was.   We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, but she was a strong and talented woman who loved to dance and listen to music.  Especially 40’s music.  She once was pulled up on stage with the Ritz Brothers to dance with them.  That night she was wearing an angora sweater and the band, acting silly, pretended to pull  fluffs of angora off of their suits the rest of the night.  She was buried at Rose City Cemetery with a view of Stanich’s Restaurant and Sports Bar…something she would like.  She loved northeast Portland, the Rose Festival and living in Oregon.  Born in Nebraska she was with the part of our family that moved out to the Northwest to live in the late 1940’s.  I’ve been trying to write some sort of epitaph for her.  She was a realtor, worked for the US Forest Service and a mother and housewife.  I found all sorts of smalchy poems and epitaphs but found the lyrics from one of her favorite Glenn Miller songs most appropriate.  She adored Glenn Miller and his music.

Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?

(Yes Yes) Track 29

Boy you can give me a shine

(Can you afford to board, the Chattanooga Choo Choo?)

I’ve got my fare

And just a trifle to spare

There’s gonna be a certain party at the station

Satin and Lace

I used to call funny face.

She’s gonna cry

Until I tell her that I’ll  never roam

(So Chattanooga Choo Choo)

Won’t you choo choo me home.

Margaret West Erickson 1924-2012

Thanks to everyone who helped me care for her over the years.  St. Anthony Village was one great “swingin'” place. She had the best care anyone could want.

Swing Kids


I think it’s finally showing a little bit of spring here in Timber Valley.  First came a huge windstorm on Monday night.  We had winds of over 65 miles an hour.  That doesn’t happen here often.  One BIG tree fell across Frontier Road and had to be chopped up and moved out of the way of the traffic…as if we had much traffic.  I was inside watching branches fall, calling to Cody to come in before he “got his head bonked with a humongous branch” (my exact words) But he loved the feel of the wind in his face like all of us mountain people.  So he stayed out until he heard the call for treats.  Then he ran inside by the fire.  There was also a 30 degree temperature outside.

Cody enjoys the wind storm

The day after the storm everything started to bloom and push out of the ground.  Solomon Seals, given to me by one of my favorite watercolor students, Nancy Rooper are pushing up.  I really didn’t think they would come up with the weather being what it is here.  Daffodils of course are starting to bloom. Everything is coming alive.  I haven’t planted much yet since the mountain environment changes so quickly.  This year I’m trying some Chinese Lanterns and more Bleeding Hearts.  We have so much shade it’s hard to find space.

First blooms

Miniature gardens are growing everywhere in the front of our cabin.  Little forests of tiny Douglas Firs all coming up at the same time.  I wish I could shrink down and explore these little worlds.

Tiny Doug Firs

Students remember to sign up now for my “Avatar” class at The Dalles Art Center.  Call me with questions at 509-365-5119.



I’ve been curled up in front of our giant TV (Thanks again, Bill) watching movies and old re-runs of Law and Order Criminal intent.  With Cody by my side and the kitties coming and going, I’ve been sitting, wrapped in a quilt in my big…and I mean BIG…chair near the fireplace for about two months now. No, I’m not painting or drawing or doing any important writing. I’m confused but accepting. (By the way did you know you can watch any episode of any Law and Order and still be surprised by the ending). It’s the truth.


Some of you know it’s been a rough few months for us. Ron’s mom, Patty,  passed on a few weeks ago and my mom is now on the Hospice program at St. Anthony Village. Things seem to be ending all around me. So I guess I’m quietly waiting for what’s next.

I’m sure I fit all of the classic symptoms of “Cabin Fever”. I’ve looked them up and added my own symptoms to the list.

1. Excessive sleeping

2. Moodiness

3. Waiting for the next Netflix to arrive

4. Restlessness

5. Irrationality

6. Reading and ordering tons of novels from “mail order” library.

7. Crankiness

8. Forgetfulness

9. Sudden bursts of laughter or tears and distrust of other individuals


But instead of the the often predicted feeling of a desperate need to escape,  my version of cabin fever has morphed into an “I want to stay in my chair”. Let me warn you that “individuals suffering from the fever can become so frustrated while working or living in a remote situation that they dip to the emotional extreme of appearing crazy or acting in a crazed manner”. From Cabin Fever-Wikipedia. (Remember The Shining)


But I’m not feeling crazy. I think my  brain (right AND left) has been so full of creative ideas combined with sorrow,  problem solving, worry and restlessness that it has taken a break on me. SURPRISE…My brain has overloaded. So I’m being easy on myself. I’m just letting the fever run its course.

I did venture out for St. Patrick’s Day with our friends Sara, Jeff, Patty and John. Ron looked great in his totally green clothing. We had a great time at The Sunshine Winery and The Clocktower Pub in The Dalles. But…as soon as I got home. Back in the big chair swaddled with soft quilts and surrounded by my animals.

I’m not mad at myself. I’m not going to try and hurry my brain back into creativity. I’m just going to wait. Until the end of this maliase I’m going to be totally content  just helping Gorin and Eames solve horrible crimes, MAJOR CRIMES and cheering for Mondo to win big on Project Runway Masters.

 “Nothing can be rushed. It must grow, it should grow of itself…” —Paul Klee 1879-1940

The Problem With Moths (continued)

Some moths are beautiful but NOT our Timber Valley buggers

Living in Timber Valley comes with its problems.  Towards the end of October I noticed a few tiny flying moths in my kitchen (mostly around the night light), hanging out on my lamp shades in the living room, and flying around my head in bed while trying to read.  I brushed them aside and ignored them.  As November rolled around, the moth population started to increase by huge numbers.  At night my cheap Fred Meyer lampshades were covered with them.  My “Freak Show” night light in the hallway was also all but blacked out by the tiny creepy things. The small infestation had become a major irritation and a worrisome problem for me.  I hate the flying bugs when they come in big numbers.  I’m a little obsessive about them swarming near my head.  When one actually flew up my nose as I was reading  Joan Didion’s Blue Nights” I lost it. Then  I accidentally sucked one down with my coffee while reading “The Emperor of All Maladies ” by Sid Mukherjee.  I had a situation on my hands.  No flying dusty insect would break my concentration!

I remember my grandma fighting the same sort of problem.  She called these horrible little flyers “moth millers” and if she found even a single one we’d have to go through all of her cupboards, look through the flour, cornstarch and even check her parakeet’s birdseed to see if the tiny caterpillars from the “miller” eggs had hatched out to eat our food.  So my first defense was to go through my entire kitchen and all of the food for anything resembling a “miller worm”.  No luck.  Sorry, grandma.

Add your own flying moths

One night I actually dreamed that the moths  were flying out of my electric plugs to do their evil business while I was asleep.


When I found them inside my car I called neighbors.  YES neighbors were having the same problem and it wasn’t coming from our cupboards.  We were being attacked.  Everyone had tried some trick to get rid of them.  We started counting how many we could smash during the evening. It was a contest. Ron got out the vacuum…The Dirt Devil with Bagless Power.  We thought it was helping but each night a fresh platoon of moths joined the battle.  Then my favorite neighbors found the answer.  Jeff, a Search and Rescue Hero, and his wife, the brave librarian from Klickitat School, found what may clear our houses of moths…forever.    Here is Sara’s sworn statement:


Living up on Walton’s Mountain (as my brother refers to Timber Valley) is like living in a totally separate climate region from the gorge.  Summers are 10 degrees cooler, which gives us relief from the usual  hot days, but we are also 10 degrees cooler in the winter, which means we often have snow and ice whereas “down below” they don’t. I’m not sure if our crazy topsy-turvy weather of late has anything to do with our “little moth problem” but we have lived here 15 years and have never had to share our home with these little shits.

They dive at our plates of food at dinner time, they swarm the lamps at night, they collect on the window outside the door and all make a run inside when I’m not sneakier than they are. It seems they come in cycles. Jeff (SARS Rookie of the Year for Klickitat County) points out that my obsessive behavior with the vacuum cleaner hose in hand makes it hard to watch TV when I fire it up every ten minutes to capture our enemies. I want to suck those buggers down.

When touched they disintegrate into powder. We’ve torn our house apart looking for hiding places. We find nothing but dust bunnies. I was having whole conversations with anybody that would listen about how to get rid of the little buggers. Finally, when Jeff was as sick of them as I was (or of listening to me complain) He searched the internet. He found NoSquito!!, my foot tall new best friend. We set him on the fireplace mantel. He emits a soft bluish glow so he doubles as a nightlight! The soft sound of the fan inside is somehow soothing and assures me that our catch will not escape. Looks like we found the solution to the moth problem, wonder if it works on crazed deer? Sara

Keeping the air clear in Timber Valley

So now we wait.  Will the NoSquito (by Stingo) solve the problem?  I hope to Hell it does.  If it doesn’t I may start flinging myself toward the bulbs. The war in Iraq may be officially ended but this one continues on the mountain.  Good night John Boy.

Merry Christmas to everyone.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year




The Problem With Moths

the lesson of the moth By Don Marquis, in “archy and mehitabel,” 1927

(Jerry: The narrator is a poet reincarnated in a cockroach’s body. He types by jumping on the keys of a typewriter…no caps. This is a good introduction to my next post that will be written tomorrow morning with full explanation if all goes the way I plan.)

i was talking to a moth

the other evening

he was trying to break into

an electric light bulb

and fry himself on the wires

Moths are swarming at the Fenter household

why do you fellows

pull this stunt i asked him

because it is the conventional

thing for moths or why

if that had been an uncovered

candle instead of an electric

light bulb you would

now be a small unsightly cinder

have you no sense


plenty of it he answered

but at times we get tired

of using it

we get bored with the routine

and crave beauty

and excitement

fire is beautiful

and we know that if we get

too close it will kill us

but what does that matter

it is better to be happy

for a moment

and be burned up with beauty

and excitement

than to live a long time

and be bored all the while

so we wad all our life up

into one little roll

and then we shoot the roll

that is what life is for

it is better to be a part of beauty

for one instant and then cease to

exist than to exist forever

and never be a part of beauty

our attitude toward life

is come easy go easy

we are like human beings used to be before they became

too civilized to enjoy themselves


and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity


but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself


(Jerry: I will continue with a rant on evil  moths tomorrow morning. My thanks to the late Don Marquis and to whoever took this beautiful picture of the swarm.)

Jerry Fenter Show Opening on Thursday, December 1st

Come and experience "Agonizing Love" at the Attic Gallery with me.


On Thursday, December 1st, I have a show opening at the Attic Gallery in downtown Portland. Earl Hamilton, Sandy Visse and I will be showing our work together.

EARL HAMILTON…Earl who is a great admirer of Marc Chagall’s paintings has a unique whimsical style all his own.  His playful images painted in acrylic with texture and collage take the viewer into a world of fantasy.

JERRY FENTER…This year Jerry set the theme for our holiday show: “Agonizing Love”.  Her tantalizing paintings are humorous with collage bits, capricious sayings and bizarre narratives.

SANDY VISSE…Sandy’s unique ceramic sculptures are playful  and fanciful artistic creations that follow the theme of “Agonizing Love”.

 Opening reception to meet the artists on FIRST THURSDAY December 1st, 6-9 PM.

Attic Gallery..206 SW First Avenue

Portland, Oregon 97204


Gallery Hours 10-5:30 Monday-Saturday


This should be a fantastic opening and I’m hoping lots of people will come and see my paintings and also enjoy the work of Sandy and Earl.  Flowers for ME are always my favorite!  I’d love to see all  of you.  It’s common knowledge that we all have had some kind of agonizing experience with LOVE.  I know it!

SEE YOU THERE!   I was actually inspired both by the old Romance Comics of the 50’s and 60’s and by my high school crushes and long lost loves. Anyone from Parkrose High School class of 65 is required to come!

Things To Do in Nebraska

Each Night I Dreamed of Nebraska


 You might want to re-read my last post to catch up. I’m sure everyone’s forgotten where I was in my Nebraska story. Trips to Seattle, big snow, and an ongoing head cold have kept me away from the computer for a while.


Nebraska. The Junk Jaunt. Let me tell you they were right when they advertised the jaunt as “Shop ‘til You Drop”!

Since we got into Columbus a day late we didn’t start our jaunt until Saturday.  WOW 300 miles of treasure! Amy, me, Janet and Jerry (my cousins) were ready. We all climbed into  Jerry’s truck (in case we had some BIG stuff to bring back) and started out toward the first town on the jaunt. It was like a “pickers” dream! The entire town was filled with places participating in the jaunt. Each place had a number. So we cruised…we’d check out each sale by slowing way down, staring at the treasure, checking to if baby clothes or old clothes were out. (This is a SURE way for the professional junk PICKER to know a good sale)  Good…no clothes or old shoes. Bad…all clothes no good stuff.

Choosing the perfect Scythe

Amy fixed her goal on buying a good scythe (pronounced “sigh” in the mid-west). We saw some great ones at lots of places on the jaunt but just couldn’t find the one that perfectly fit her hands. Now she wants one for Christmas! I was looking for small stuff to carry on the plane. Jerry was open for anything. He and Janet ended up taking home an entire turntable and speakers for a friend of his just to get the needle to fit his friend’s old record player so he could play old 33 1/3’s! We circled around the town for the entire day…because of a shortness of time we missed all of other towns that were participating in the jaunt! We had the best day. We came home with some crazy and great treasures. Janet got some beautiful little shadow box wall pictures.  Amy was walking on air because she found an original “Moulie Grater” in its original box. We were shopping in a giant barn when she spied it in a pile. She was so excited everyone jumped when she shouted out “Wow, I found MY Moulie!” Laughter. I brought home some small things including a tiny (1/2 inch) porcelain doll that I may put in my manger scene at Christmas. We are hoping to return next September more ready to spend three days picking and having a way to get cool stuff home. A U-Haul? Who knows?

Into the woods to the "Deer Stand"

The most fun in Columbus was just spending time at the Kneifel homestead and hanging out! We spent time outside. The weather was beautiful. We also took long walks on the property. Jerry was especially excited to show us his new “Deer Stand”. A Deer Stand is kind of like a big boy’s version of a tree house…with windows that you can stick a gun out of and shoot at game as it passes by on the ground. It is VERY high and has a zillion steps to climb, at the top of the stairs you pop up through the floor, come to a square room that I think has a heater and probably everything else needed to be comfortable while hunting. (I’m surprised Jerry doesn’t have a big screen TV up there!)

Zoi before the fall

Amy and I walked out to the blind with Jerry and Zoi. Zoi is Jerry and Janet’s RED (Go Big Red) poodle that is the cutest thing on four legs. She is a chunk though. Round and sweet. As we were getting ready to climb the stairs I casually asked Jerry, “Do you think Zoi can make it up?” I was afraid with that round body she might fall. Jerry’s answer was, “Oh no, she’s good.” (Last famous words.) We got almost to the top, Jerry was inside the stand when Zoi tripped, flipped and fell feet to the sky past Amy and down next to the stairs. She bounced off some trees and landed so far down we couldn’t see her. We all ran to her rescue. Thank goodness she got up. She limped a bit until Jerry picked her up and then just looked kind of sad and surprised.  She was probably sore the next day but she was fine! What a tricky dog. All of us thought we were going to collapse from fright but she toddled home just fine. Disaster averted Nebraska style.

One of the other highpoints on any Nebraska trip is watching a Cornhusker game. Go Big Red!!!! Football is right up there with religion in the mid-west. Here’s what you do.

Me at the Nebraska Football Store

1.  Dress up in your Nebraska “Big Red” clothes. This can be a tee shirt, hat, socks, gloves, corn-head, jacket or whatever has caught your eye at the Husker Store (which you’ve visited earlier in the day).

2. Head out to the nearest tavern with the least people, the most Big Screens and the best food and beer.

3. Find a table right in front of the Big Screen.

Popcorn Machine at the First and Ten in Bellwood

4. Get some popcorn from a real pop-corn machine.

5. Order a bucket of beer.

All You Need at a Husker Game

6. Order food.

7. Get all crazy and watch the Husker game in all of its glory.

8. Cheer on the team and watch Bo Pelini, the Husker coach, go crazy during the game!

9. Pray for a Husker win.

It was a wonderful night and a great trip thanks to my family! Amy and I are already talking about a return trip next September for the jaunt. I miss my cousins and Columbus. It must be in my blood.

For more information on Columbus, Nebraska, number 84 from the 100 BEST SMALL TOWNS IN AMERICA, go to www.columbusnedowntown.com

Toto, We’re Not in Oregon Any More


 (There is No Place Like Nebraska)

There is no place like Nebraska

 Dear old Nebraska U.

Where the girls are the fairest,

The boys are the squarest,

 Of any old school that I knew.

There is no place like Nebraska,

Where they’re all true blue.

We’ll all stick together,

In all kinds of weather,

For Dear old Nebraska U!

 Here it is. The Nebraska Fight Song. You can hear it on line! You can get it as a ringtone! Just grab your Corn Hat and your Official Husker’s wear and you are set for a good time! I promise.

Cousin Jerry in a Cornhead Hat

I just got back from (according to Money Magazine) the 84th Best Place To Live In America. Amy and I spent almost a week in Columbus, Nebraska. I know what you’re saying. “Why Nebraska? It’s so hot and humid there. Just a lot of corn fields and conservatives.” Yes it can be hot and humid… but it’s Heaven in late September. Warm days, cool nights, football and family…I’ve finally found my roots. I’m totally thankful for this.

We started our trip at the Portland Airport. Our goal was to get on the plane, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Well, we tried.

We did some serious gift shopping for the relatives in the tiny Airport stores, got to talking and laughing, bought a U of O monkey doll (a scary present for Husker fans) and some Huckleberry Jam.

We headed for our gate. I wanted to play on the moving sidewalk… so we fooled around on that for a while. We road to the end of it, checked out a few more shops then as an afterthought looked at the time. I checked my ticket. We were OK. The flight didn’t load until about 7:45. We walked to the gate and the room was empty except for one crabby lady in a wheelchair. We thought we were early! “The plane is gone,” the wheelchair lady said flatly.  I ran to the window. Our flight was still there but locked and loaded. I knocked on the window trying to get the attention of one of the luggage attendants on the ground. No luck…they all wear earphones. I could see our plane, it was still sitting there. I went for the gate door (closed), ignored the security signs (Do not touch this door or you will face horrible Federal penalties) and did what anyone would do. I banged HARD on the door. Panicked flight attendants, who must have just exited the plane, opened up and gave me suspicious looks. “What the hell are you doing?” one shouted. I begged for them to let us get on the plane. No chance… It was full. The plane DEPARTED at 7:45 am. I had mistakenly read that he plane was BOARDING at 7:45 am. Thus began our long tedious story of being on standby, our luggage already in Nebraska, too many expensive cab rides, a trip back to Amy’s for the night, outrageous change of flight penalties (Thanks American Airlines for being so hard to deal with) and a thousand calls to my Cousin’s cell phone in Nebraska. Amazingly ALL of us stayed calm.


We arrived the next day at the Omaha airport. My cousin met us with special Nebraska Gift Bags. Each bag included a cool Nebraska lei made out of corn-cobs, beads, and beer caps, a Husker hat, Big Red Gum, Husker’s Beer Cozies and watches from Wal-Mart (my Cousin Jerry’s idea of a joke because of our lost sense of time). A great dinner at Glur’s Tavern (Home of Columbus’ Best Burger) and (National Historic Site Circa 1876) finished off the day.

Amy looks out on Nebraska fields

A short ride through the cornfields and we were safe and home at my cousin Jerry’s in Bellwood (A small town outside of Columbus) by bedtime. We needed sleep so we could start out early the next morning on the JUNK JAUNT. Shop ‘til you drop, 300 miles of treasures. What a concept! Amy and I were stoked! We love to pick and it runs in the family. For more about the Junk Jaunt go to www.junkjaunt.com.

 (To be continued)


Old Clothes or Neat Stuff?

Amy Wants a Scythe for Christmas!

 The Amazing Falling Poodle!

Will Bo Pelini’s Head Explode at the Husker Game?

Who is Bo Pelini?

Coveting Everything  at The Husker’s Store!


Fall Comes on Bear Feet

Fall Bug by Sherm Rouse

Our property feels like killing fields right now. Fall is here. Holly and Berry are full time into hunting. Each day I go outside to triage downed soldiers from the squirrel army. I can sometimes save the slightly wounded but it is usually just a matter of finding and flinging the recently fallen. These squirrels, mostly yearlings and not wise in the ways of the woods, have thoughtlessly run INSIDE the fence to gather up seeds and nuts for the coming winter. The kitten girls, alert in bunkers under plants and small trees, attack with confidence. No, they don’t kill to EAT the rodent troops, they just  play them to the death. To Holly, a squirrel friend is just what she wants. She’ll play with her squirrel until it slows down, gets “tired” and doesn’t respond. Then she sits with it, betwen her paws, nipping at it to “wake it up”. Soon it goes stiff and loses the light she likes so much in its eyes. Bored, she returns to her bunker to wait for another friend to play with. Yes, it’s hunting season in more ways than one.

Fall Seeds

Speaking of squirrels and/or chipmunks I always remember my friend Marc Faulconer in high school giving me a crazy gift of a small skinned chipmunk. On the back of the hide was written, “Poor, poor Chippy”. It was of course sad, kind of good gross, and hilarious because almost every present or note Marc ever sent me was hilarious. I carried “Poor Chippy” around through college, and remember showing Chippy to my daughter when she was in high school. She also found it hilarious and memorable. Sadly Chippy has disappeard, lost in a box in Amy’s basement or in my storage area. I miss Marc. I miss Chippy.

Big Ass Hunting Truck...Just Add Lights!

Real HUNTING SEASON is coming up. I already see where “outsider” hunters (meaning those not from Timber Valley) have marked trees and turn-offs where they think there will be the most deer. You can easily recognize these guys from the “city”. They drive huge trucks with lights atop the cab so “just maybe” they can NIGHT hunt if somehow they miss that kill during the daytime. Locals wait until deer are in the “city folks” sights near the main road and then honk LOUD and wave! They think we’re being friendly.

Fall Vine Maple

There are lots and lots of does and fawns on our property. The bucks go deeper into the woods, but right now the woods near here have been cut so clear that hiding spaces for them are gone. My crazy deer is still around. She has quit attacking me and Cody. Now she creeps around the edge of Ron’s studio if I go outside, runs up close to the fence and stares at me with just a touch of malice. She smirks. If I stare back she bends her knees and will lie down without taking her eyes off me. She still makes me nervous but I haven’t called my neighbor Jeff to shoot her yet. I’m just too soft. I am reading a hunting magazine…but just for cartoons and pictures (so far).  I’m not a hunter, but really like the taste of wild meat!

Other signs of fall and of a cold cold winter are around me. The leaves on the vine maples are starting to turn. Cody is blowing his second coat from summer and getting his new thick winter fur. Animals are jumpy. Birds are leaving for the south, crows and ravens screaming from the tops of trees, looking for road kill. Everyone is fattening up for winter. Wild cherries, blackberries, huckleberries and black caps are eaten by the pounds.

Black Bear's Gift

Here is a picture of the “gift” a Black Bear left us in our field right NEXT to Cody’s dog run. It’s bear scat (a scientific name for poop). If you live in the woods you become expert at identifying it. Notice the blackberries this bear has eaten. This is the first time I’ve found bear scat that close to our house. Again an example of what happens when habitat is scarce. I’m a little nervous but like seeing bears.

Dream Bear


Amy and I are heading east instead of south. We’re off to Bellwood, Nebraska to visit my cousin and his wife. We’re just as excited as those who might be going south to Mexico or to Hawaii. Probably MORE excited. We are looking forward to a great week of eating, visiting, picking, maybe watching the Cornhuskers play on TV and seeing history up close at the Platte County Historical Society. My cousin owns the building! So we’re off. Look forward to a Nebraska post soon. Aloha… or maybe I should say “Go Big Red”. My dad and mom would be proud.