Vol. 16, No. 1



2016 Firehouse Sale
High Prairie Night At The Goldendale Observatory
The Challenge Quilt
A Song From The Heart
Easy Money For HPCC— Go Shopping!
Ye Olde English High (Prairie) Tea
Amanda’s Hints & Tips
Second Chance
Spring Photos
FireLines: High Value For High Prairie
Fred Henchell Retires – Halfway!
High Prairie & Lyle Honor Firefighters
Remembering Winter
Hunting ‘King Boletus’
Familiar Faces— Dan & Frances Hartford
High Prairie Annual Rainfall Records



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2016 FIREHOUSE SALE – May 13, 14 & 15

Deborah Fenwick, Firehouse Sale Chair


The annual High Prairie Firehouse Sale will be here before we know it, on May 13, 14 and 15. This is the main fundraiser of the year to provide money for Community Center operating expenses as well as support for our volunteer firefighters. This year we have a special goal—to help purchase new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and Turnout Gear, essential for protection when fighting fires.

What’s the same as previous years?

  • Location – High Prairie Community Center at 701 Struck Road
  • Silent Auction including the discounted certificates of the Buy-It-Now Board – contact Barb Parrish at 509-281-0933 if you want to donate items or help solicit donations.
  • Rummage Sale – Start sorting and stockpiling those tax deductible donations you’ve been meaning to get rid of. Dates and locations for donations will be publicized in April.
  • Myron’s Bratwurst (or veg alternative) – served all three days with plenty of fixings. Don’t miss this year’s addition of baked potatoes to the menu.
  • Bake Sale – Dig out that recipe you’ve been meaning to bake. The pies, cinnamon rolls, and other goodies are always a welcome hit with shoppers.
  • Quilt Raffle – You are sure to not be disappointed this year. The pattern has proven to be a challenge for our experienced quilters and we cannot wait to see the results of all their hard work. A special thanks to Judi Strait, Loretta Lindsey, and all the ladies who have persevered in the construction of this year’s quilt: High Prairie Challenge.
  • Classic Fire Truck – James Amory will have the hoses set up so all the kids can take their turns putting out a house fire.


What’s New(er) in 2016?

  • Earlier Start Time  – accommodating earlier shoppers, the sale will open at 8 a.m. this year instead of the previous 9 a.m.
  • A Big Striped Tent – HPCC purchased a slightly used tent from the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce. It will provide an expanded area for clothing and household goods. Advantages: better visibility of our merchandise, improved traffic flow, and a single cashier’s station.
  • Expanded Car Show – Contact Ward Cockeram at 365-9564 if you’re interested in showing your classic beauty on Saturday. More details in April.
  • Sportsman’s & Rifle Raffle – The popularity of the new rifle drawing last year prompted organizers to improve the odds, and they have compiled a great list of prizes including: Browning .308 Rifle, Pelican Ice Chest, Fenwick Methods Fishing rod and KVD casting reel, collection of knives courtesy of John Parr, and a Surefire Flashlight. Tickets are $10 each and available now to buy or sell. Contact Sharon Aleckson (365-4429) or Deborah Fenwick (541-980-1330) for more details.
  • LIVE RADIO BROADCAST – Mike Richards will be broadcasting live from the sale all three days on KVGD-LP  100.1FM
  • Saturday Pancake Breakfast – Come first thing on Saturday morning and enjoy a short stack of flapjacks with homemade sausage patty. Served from 8–10 a.m.

High Prairie Community Council will once again have a booth at the Goldendale Home, Garden  & Sportsman’s Show on April 29 – May 1. This will be the first chance for residents to see the Needler Quilt on display and purchase raffle tickets for it. If you’d be willing to take a turn minding the booth, please contact Barb Parrish or Sharon Aleckson.

Watch your email, mailbox, and the High Prairie website for more information about schedules and volunteer opportunities. Website: www.highprairie.us/firehouse-sale/  Email: firehousesalehpcc@gmail.com  Or phone Deborah Fenwick: (541)980-1330.

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Audrey Bentz


Goldendale Observatory State Park is home to one of the nation’s largest public telescopes. There is none like it in the Northwest, and we live just 45 minutes away here in High Prairie!

Therefore, we have arranged to have a “High Prairie Night” on Wednesday, April 13. It appears that it may be possible to have a bus to transport our group from the Community Center to the facility, so stay tuned for details. Mid-April will be a great time for unique views of Jupiter and its moons, plus other interesting things to observe that evening. The days are still short enough that we don’t have to wait for late hours to see the extraordinary views.

We will leave from the Community Center at 7:45 and attend the 8:30 pm showing of the moon and Jupiter. It is expected that we will return back here by 10:30 pm.

We may limit the group to about twenty, so please indicate your interest (or questions) to Audrey Bentz (amsong@gorge.net or 365-3600) to save a place for you and your best friend!   We will then let you know the details on departure, length of stay, etc. as soon as determined.

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Submitted by The High Prairie Needlers

The “High Prairie Challenge” under construction on February 23. This beautiful queen-size quilt will be raffled on May 15 at the High Prairie Firehouse Sale. Photo: Keiko Thornton.

The “High Prairie Challenge” under construction on February 23. This beautiful queen-size quilt will be raffled on May 15 at the High Prairie Firehouse Sale. Photo: Keiko Thornton.

“I think I have found you a real bargain on Craig’s List,” she said. “It is a complete quilt kit for only $25.00.”

The money was sent, the kit purchased, and when it arrived it was admired and greatly exclaimed over. The High Prairie Needlers were excited and eager to begin construction.

Alas, it was the Winter Holiday Season; Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. Also, the weather seemed against allowing the construction to begin on this new dazzling quilt project.

Finally the day came. The High Prairie Needlers assembled and instructions were studied. Unfortunately, the yardages were all included (or seemed to be) but could anyone decipher what fabric was to go into which grouping?! Yardage comparisons, much discussion and close perusal of the small photo included, and a great deal of guesswork later, the hope was yardage groupings had been determined and cutting began.

The cutting and counting of cut pieces commenced only to reveal a small shortage of four different prints. Off the quilters went to the computer to inquire if the instructions were accurate, only to discover the distributing quilting company for this kit was no longer in business. An intense search began for some way to contact the designer of the kit as the center of the quilt began to take shape.

What a learning experience these instruction had become, for even the more experienced quilters among the group, as assemblers were sent from one set of instructions to another coordinating set of instructions on a new page, with still no clear indication of which color fabric was to be matched with another. At last the fabric color hurdle was passed only to find assembly diagrams were either missing or were incomplete, and still no luck on contacting the original designer for insights and tips.

The quilters of the High Prairie Needlers are nothing if not persistent. Each week the question was asked in frustration:  “Do we go on or just bag it this year?” Each week the answer was: “We have gotten this far, if we can just resolve this issue, the rest should be easy to complete.” (Oh!  Please send us a complete assembly diagram in color!)

They searched on internet, in every local fabric shop in the Gorge area, and in every fabric shop they knew of in Portland; but could not locate matching or similar fabrics to the four short prints. The decision was finally made to substitute with like kind. One quilter volunteered to travel to Portland and purchase fabric substitutions and fabric for borders and bindings to complete the quilt top.

Another volunteered to color sketch the quilt as best as possible from the small photo included in the kit. Detail was basically non-existant and color detail fuzzy. Finally the consensus was to “…do your best and wing it to get it done.”

The challenge was met—overcome by the cooperation of all—and a quilt was completed.

Thus, the completion of The High Prairie Challenge!

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Diane Cazalet

I recently found out that I have metastasized breast cancer. I thought I was a cancer survivor for nearly 17 years, but somehow a few cells escaped and lay dormant and now have shown up in my liver. My prognosis is very poor and I am undergoing some strenuous chemotherapy. I have been doing some serious thinking about what is important to me.

I woke up at 2 a.m. one night and felt like a huge blanket of love was covering me. The feelings were so strong I decided to get up and write down some of the thoughts that were pouring through me. I was planning a Valentine’s luncheon for the “Needlers” and I decided to write the following for them and for the whole community:

Heart graphic

This group and community inspire me.
You make my heart sing.

The spirit of sharing and caring is so strong. I have never lived anywhere where so many neighbors get together to work, play, help and support each other whenever the desire or need arises. I feel this community spirit so strongly at the annual Firehouse Sale. This is when we are at our best, with the ones contributing the most reaping the greatest rewards. Many lasting friendships have been made and enriched when working together for this common cause.

I don’t get to Needlers as often as I would like but it is such a comfort to know I can get together and share with my friends year round. When I do go, I feel I have just received a gift from all who are there.

I liken this community to a choir. Everyone has their own voice yet we are singing in harmony. Thank you Needlers and community.

You make my heart sing.

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Gwen Berry

These have got to be the easiest fund-raising activities ever! To make money for the High Prairie Community Council, all you have to do is go shopping as usual.

Fred Meyer Community Rewards

Fred-Meyer-Rewards-Card-logoFred Meyer has a new game for deciding where their donation dollars will go. They’re letting the customers tell them. Here’s how it works: the more of us who link to HPCC on the Fred Meyer website and use our Rewards Card when shopping at Freddy’s, the higher the donation will be. It’s like voting for the HPCC every time you shop. Each quarter they’ll make $650,000 in donations to lucky non-profits based on how much their linked shoppers spent.

How to Do It:

  1. Go to www.fredmeyer.com/topic/community-rewards-4
  2. Under “Are You a Fred Meyer Customer?” click on “Link your Rewards Card Now”.
  3. Sign into your Fred Meyer online account (or register for one).
  4. It will ask you to enter your organization’s number or at least 3 letters of the name.
  5. Type in “High Pr” or “84731” (High Prairie is misspelled in their list, so don’t put in the whole name or it won’t find it. With “High Pr” we come up 3rd on the list.)
  6. Click on the circle next to High Prarie (sic) in the list.
  7. Click on Enroll (orange button at bottom of list).
  8. After that, every time you go shopping at Fred Meyer, make sure the checker scans your Rewards Card. Voilà! Your vote for HPCC has been counted.


AmazonSmile-logoAmazingly, there’s an even easier way to funnel corporate donations to the High Prairie Community Council—a program called “AmazonSmile.” All you do is start your Amazon shopping at a slightly different website: www.smile.amazon.com. The first time you go there, you tell them to send their donations to HPCC, and after that it’s shopping as usual. Amazon will donate .5% of the price of all your eligible purchases to the HPCC. That’s 50¢ for every $100 you spend. If 50 High Prairians spend $100 each—not difficult to do at Amazon!—HPCC will get an easy $25.

How to Do It:

  1. Go to www.smile.amazon.com
  2. Log into your regular Amazon account (or register for one)
  3. Choose High Prairie Community Council from their list of charitable organizations
  4. Bookmark the www.smile.amazon.com website in your browser
  5. Every time you shop at Amazon, start at the new website, www.smile.amazon.com.


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Anna Purcell

The English King Charles II was known to take tea in the afternoon in the mid-17th century, but High Tea—where did this idea come from? It came from Anna Maria Stanhope, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. She would have breakfast and a light lunch and by three in the afternoon she was famished, the problem being that the household did not dine until eight o’clock in the evening.

She started asking the cook to bring her some tea, bread and jam and possibly some biscuits (cookies). She enjoyed them in her bedroom and it quickly became a habit with her. She then decided to invite her lady friends to join her and of course they progressed to the formal living room. It quickly became very popular and the etiquette picked up; and when Queen Mary took up the habit it became a very formal affair.

To stick one’s little finger in the air today is pretentious at best, but years ago it was necessary for balance. The cups came from China and had no handles; and when they progressed to very fine, delicate china cups, they were hard to hang onto.

The Earl of Sandwich had previously introduced putting fillings between two slices of bread, so that idea was incorporated into High Tea, including sweets such as scones and pastries. It was a very gracious affair.

Even though it’s often referred to as High Tea in other parts of the world, in the UK it is called Afternoon Tea. The regular tea at six o’clock is the evening meal. It is usually a lighter meal, as the main meal is usually eaten mid-day.

We are planning a High Tea on High Prairie to honor ladies who do so much for so many. It will be held on April 16th from eleven o’clock until two o’clock. We invite anyone interested to bring a woman in their life that they want to show appreciation to—mother, grandmother, daughter or sister’s friends. We will pamper them all, serving finger sandwiches, orange poppy seed scones with clotted cream and preserves and, of course, chocolate dipped strawberries.

Step back in time to a more gracious life and enjoy the company of other women.

High Prairie High Tea, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For the complete invitation go to www.highprairie.us. Entrance is $12 per person at the door. Please R.S.V.P. by April 1st to Nance Carter at: nccolors@embarqmail.com or 206-550-1345.

We hope to see you there!

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Amanda Richards

Clean the inside of your dishwasher with two packets of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid. Pour the packets of Kool-Aid into each of the dishwasher’s detergent cups and run it empty on the longest and hottest cycle available. Lemon Kool-Aid is loaded with citric acid, just what you need to remove soap residue and hard water minerals that collect inside the dishwasher.

Tip courtesy of Everyday Cheapskate author, Mary Hunt

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Rebecca Sonniksen

Photo: Rebecca Sonniksen

Photo: Rebecca Sonniksen

It was just after 8:00 a.m. when I arrived at the Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue’s (CGCR) spay/neuter clinic at the Lyle Activity Center (the old elementary school) on the corner of Highway 14 & Third Street. Marcia Buser, a volunteer organizer, had been there since early morning prepping for the day’s arrivals.

There were 38 cats scheduled to be spayed or neutered today. Dr. Ann Brown DVM arrived around 8:30 a.m. to prepare herself for a busy day. Dr. Brown and an alternate veterinary, Dr. Jean Cypher DVM, are compensated by CGCR; everyone else are volunteers. CGCR, which operates primarily on donations, is also funded through adoption fees and occasional small grants.

CGCR’s mission is to provide services to feral or abandoned cats at no cost: spray/neutering, occasional testing for feline leukemia, vaccinations, and treatment for worms and fleas. If the cat is socialized they try to provide a foster home until it can be put up for adoption at a Portland Petco. Because they are a small organization with no shelter they are unable to take in pets.

For those feral cats that are not adoptable the preferred option is they are returned to their natural environment with commitment from their caretaker to provide food, water, and shelter. With their Trap/Neuter/Release policy (TNR), they do not trap feral cats to just relocate them or take them to a kill shelter. Unadoptable cats are relocated as barn cats if they do not have a caregiver to go back to and if there is a barn home available.

It’s now 9:00 a.m. and people arrive from Hood River, The Dalles, Bingen, Odell, Lyle, Rowena, Carson, and Parkdale. They are bringing cats in carriers and traps, rescued from fruit orchards, vineyards, neighborhood streets, abandoned houses and barns, and trailer parks.

CGCR is the only organization in the Columbia Gorge that provides these critical services. It is particularly urgent now, at the beginning of “kitten season” (early spring through late fall), because a female cat can reproduce 2–3 times a year and become pregnant as early as 4–5 months.

There were tortoise-shell cats, black & white tuxedo cats, and Siamese. There was a lynx-point, and a big orange male with blue eyes. There were two black cats with intense copper eyes, crouched and glaring out of traps. There was a fearful short haired tabby brought in by neighbors of its owner who had moved away. There was a big black cat brought in by an elderly couple when they saw it was abandoned when its owner died. There was a cat shot by an air pellet gun that had five kittens bought in by a woman who regularly brings cats and kittens from Hood River.

Feral cats had their ears tipped, which marks them as having been spayed or neutered. They went back to barns, orchards and vineyards where they would find food and shelter. Fixed and fed cats are better mousers. Others went to foster homes to wait for adoption.

When I left at 3:00 p.m., 24 cats had been spayed or neutered. One treated for diabetes. A pellet removed from another and 12 ears tipped.

Watching these volunteers, most of whom have been doing this for decades, I could see it’s not easy. People can be cruel and thoughtless, but they can also be caring and compassionate. CGCR volunteers spend countless hours trapping, transporting, finding foster homes, seeking new homes, cleaning cages, delivering food, making calls, scheduling appointments and providing medical assistance. They are able to face such challenges, by reminding each other, “We’re doing this for the cats.”

CGCR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since they are an all-volunteer organization, all donations go directly to the cats. To schedule an appointment, adopt a cat, make a donation, or check out more resources go to their web page: www.gorgecat.org.

Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue Statistics for 2015

Adoptions: 473

Surgeries: 828 total fixed

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Tim Darland/Gwen Berry

A quick recap of 2015 HPFD activities: Members responded to a total of 100 emergency calls this year, up from 82 last year. Once again, the largest category was Medical Calls (35), followed by Wildland Fires (22) and Motor Vehicle Accidents (21). The pie chart shows the call types and numbers.

Types of Calls pie chart - 2015

The table below shows that HPFD members volunteered a total of 2,673 hours in 2015. This is calculated by taking the number of hours the Fire District spent on training/maintenance activities and emergency responses, and multiplying them by the number of personnel that participated in each activity.

Value to Community table - 2015

By then multiplying the total volunteer hours by $23 (the average Emergency Services hourly wage, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics), it turns out that High Prairie’s volunteer firefighters provided a very valuable service to the community. The value of their 2015 combined service came to a whopping $61,469.

Thank you to department members and their families for the commitment they give to HPFD and the community. We’ve put a value of service on their volunteer hours, but let’s just face the facts that they truly are invaluable!

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Jake Jakabosky

Tim Darland-Fred HenchellThe High Prairie Fire Department has (almost) lost another long-term, valuable member. Fred Henchell, a department fixture for the past 16 years, declares the summer heat is getting to him, so “it’s time to get out of the kitchen” and retire.

Well, he may be retiring from active duty, but you won’t find him sitting around much. Fred intends to continue on with a few of his pet projects, like the Firewise Committee, the inventory of potential water sources for drafting (filling the tender from surface water sources for firefighting), and coordinating the flow of information between amateur radio users and Klickitat County Search and Rescue during major emergencies.

As if that isn’t enough, Fred will also continue as the installer of home address numbers and road signs to assist emergency responders in quickly locating residences. He is also investigating the possibility of driving his big red pickup and playing “gofer” during large fires by chasing down parts and equipment and delivering meals to hungry firefighters.

Even with that, Fred isn’t done “helping around the place.” He will continue on as High Prairie Community Council Treasurer and a collector of local weather data. (See his article elsewhere in this issue.)

Fred got his lifelong start in fire management soon after signing up as a forestry major at the University of California, Berkeley in 1957. By 1959 he was part of the Angeles National Forest Zuni Indian Hotshot Crew. After a mandatory stint in the military and more Berkeley time, he worked prescribed and wild fires in the redwoods for a while and then moved to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1989 to work on timber sales, recreation planning, and environmental analysis.

By 1996 Fred and his wife, Cindy, had moved to High Prairie, and both were commuting to work in the Trout Lake area until he retired in 2000. Fred became a High Prairie Fire Commissioner in 1999, serving for 7 years. He joined the fire department the same year, and soon became an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Cindy also joined in by becoming the Fire Department secretary.

Fred has always been the first to jump in when something needs done around the fire hall or community center, like cutting weeds, sharpening fire tools, constructing the well house, or—most recently—hanging the glass document case in the community center.

When you see Fred, be sure to give him a big slap on the back and thank him for his years of service looking out for all us folks on High Prairie. And anyone out there who’d care to make a stab at filling his boots as a department first responder— give us a ring. We can always use more help.

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Gwen Berry

(back, left to right) Chief Tim Darland, Fred Henchell, Jake Jakabosky, Dave Thom, (front, left to right) Tom McMackin, Ron McDonald and James Amery. Photo: Gwen Berry.

(back, left to right) Chief Tim Darland, Fred Henchell, Jake Jakabosky, Dave Thom, (front, left to right) Tom McMackin, Ron McDonald and James Amery. Photo: Gwen Berry.

Seriously— what would we do without these dedicated people? Who’d be there to put out a chimney fire, keep a wildfire from threatening homes, respond when there’s a car accident, or come and provide medical assistance when someone can’t breathe in the middle of the night? It’s easy to take for granted that someone will be there when you need them, but it isn’t automatic. A Fire District requires organization and money, a fire hall, fire trucks, firefighting gear, and training programs—but it would all be pointless without the individual men and women who volunteer their time and energy to keep us safe.

Local volunteer firefighters received some well-deserved recognition recently, at the annual Lyle and High Prairie Firefighter Appreciation Dinner. Held at the High Prairie Community Center on March 5th, it was an opportunity for Fire Chiefs Dave McCune (Lyle) and Tim Darland (High Prairie), firefighters’ families, and enthusiastic community members to come together to honor and thank the firefighters for their service.

The Community Center was dressed for the occasion, with strings of lights over the tables and bright, fire-themed centerpieces. The crowd enjoyed a wonderful dinner of lasagne, salad and breadsticks catered by Beneventi’s (generously provided by the Lyle Fire District). Dessert was chocolate cupcakes with flame toppers, which were brought to the tables in fire hydrant cupcake stands. HPCC provided the decorating, dessert, and people to serve the dinner.

After dinner, Lyle’s Fire Chief, Dave McCune, and High Prairie’s Fire Chief, Tim Darland, presented awards to those firefighters whose contributions merited special attention. The awards presented to High Prairie firefighters were:

James Amery – Commissioner of the Year: Not only a longtime High Prairie firefighter (19 years), but also Chair of the High Prairie Fire Commissioners for the second year running. In 2015 he made 22 emergency calls out of 100 and attended 26 out of 50 drill/maintenance activities.

Ron McDonald – Rookie of the Year (voted by members): Became an active member in 2015. Made 11 emergency calls out of 100 and attended 32 out of 50 drill/maintenance activities.

Dave Thom – Night Owl Award: Made the highest number of emergency calls between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., totaling 17 nighttime responses.

Jake Jakabosky – Chief’s Award, for Outstanding Commitment to our Customers in 2015: Continuously represented the HPFD, at HPCC meetings and writing FireLines articles, with the utmost professionalism. He made 37 emergency calls, 11 of which were between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and attended 27 out of 50 drill/maintenance activities.

Tom McMackin – Chief’s Award, for Dedicated Service and Commitment to Excellence:  He made the highest emergency call volume, totaling 58 out of 100 responses. Attended 37 out of 50 drill/maintenance activities. In addition, he mentors less experienced staff, increasing the readiness of the HPFD to any emergency.

Dave Thom – Firefighter of the Year (voted by members):  In recognition of exceptional leadership and dedicated service. Made the second highest emergency call volume at 55 responses. Amazingly, he attended 45 out of 50 drill/maintenance activities. He makes himself an integral part of the team by peer teaching throughout the year.

Fred Henchell – Lifetime Firefighter Award: Presented to Firefighter/EMT Fred Henchell in honor of his retirement from the High Prairie Fire District with 16 years of dedicated service to Klickitat County and its citizens. In addition to the award, the High Prairie firefighters presented Fred with a lock blade knife decorated with horse-drawn and modern fire trucks, recalling that Fred was the person you went to if you needed to cut something—he always had a knife whenever one was needed.

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Alex Bertulis

boletus-edulisI’m ensconced in our little “Airstream” trailer in the Gorge and feeling very cozy, despite the cooling environment. It’s October and the colors are changing. Here, on the edge of the desert, the wind has stopped, so no more windsurfing for a while. The air is moisture-laden and not conducive for painting outside. There is still no new snow on the mountains. The good news is: mushrooms are sprouting up in them thar hills!

In Seattle, Nina had invited me to go mushroom hunting. We drove over Snoqualmie Pass and detoured over dirt roads which led to one of her “secret” mushroom spots. Unfortunately, she had shared her secret with some of her Russian friends and the grounds were well trodden. Remnants of mushrooms and cut stems were observed only too often. Nonetheless, perhaps by accident or providence, we managed to find some attractive specimens. The preferred pick is always of the legendary boletus variety, the “King Boletus” being the top prize for us former Europeans. I also came across some large but rather ordinary looking mushrooms that I decided to harvest.

I arrived back at the car before Nina did, ate my lunch, and tried to avoid the hot sun. Two women came walking down the dirt road carrying baskets filled with splendid boletus. I asked if they knew their mushrooms (a rhetorical question). When they responded in the affirmative I asked them to pass judgment as to the edibility of my mystery mushrooms. They concluded (in Polish) that this was, indeed, an edible variety.

Soon Nina arrived. When she saw the abundance of boletus in the Polish women’s baskets, she exclaimed: “Where did you find all those?” The two women responded by pointing into the sky with circular motions: “Oh, all over there.”

“Oh, yes,” Nina responded, “I know exactly where you mean.” Later, I chided Nina: “Did you really expect them to tell you their secret spot?”

As I dropped Nina off at her house I dumped my share of mushrooms into her basket. She objected since she had no intention of cleaning and preparing unfamiliar mushrooms that belonged to me. I assured her that my mushrooms were hers to keep and I expected only a small sample of her marinated concoction. Reluctantly, she agreed. The next day I dropped by and picked up a small jar of mushrooms marinated in a slimy sauce. It’s a Russian dish to die for, but it’s an acquired taste.

That weekend, the Northwest Mycological Society was holding its annual mushroom exhibit in Seattle. My interest was piqued and I decided to go. While browsing through the many displays I came across samples that looked remarkably similar to my mystery mushrooms. They were labeled, “matsutake.” Thinking out loud, I exclaimed that I had picked a whole bunch just like that. Immediately, I was surrounded by several middle-aged Japanese ladies who expressed great interest in my comment. “Where did you find them?” queried the little lady on my left. “Well,” I responded, “how do you prepare these things?”  I had now attracted a full crowd around me. The little oriental lady folded her arms across her chest and stood her ground: “I won’t tell you how to prepare these mushrooms until you tell me where you found them.”

I remembered how secretive Nina was about her locale and how vague the Polish women had been about theirs. Finally, I responded, “I found them east of Snoqualmie Pass.” There were great smiles on the faces around me. I hoped they accepted my answer with humor. After all, even Spokane is on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass.

I then drove over to Nina’s house. My mystery mushrooms were still in the cardboard box. “Nina, I’ll take those if you don’t want them. Did you know that they are matsutakes?”

“Well, that’s good to know,” she replied. “The Japanese really like them. Go ahead, I’m sick of cleaning mushrooms.”

There must have been over a pound of these prized fungi that I reclaimed—beautiful specimens that held up well with time. I arrived at my place in the Gorge later that evening and began to prepare them for consumption. I sliced them up and “dry sautéed” them. That way they got roasted and developed their strong flavor more readily. I took three eggs, spiced them up and fried the mushrooms into a “frittata.”  It was more than enough for two dinners, but I ate the whole thing. What a treat!

It had rained recently in the Gorge, but the weather was sunny and warm again. Inspired by my latest mushroom orgy, I decided to drive up into the high forest of Mt. Adams in search of more fungi. After testing a few locations that were devoid of good mushrooms, I came across a couple of beautiful boletus at the edge of a creek. If there is one—there must be more, I reasoned. I went back to my car and got my shopping bag, a little knife and my trusty mushroom guidebook.

Soon I came across another group of boletus. They were well-preserved specimens with shiny black caps—a variety I had not seen before. The book identified them as “Zellers Boletus.”  Into the bag they went. Then, I came across an extensive colony of beautiful white mushrooms with gills on the underside of their caps (rather than pores that boletus have). They were growing clumped together in great numbers. The book showed remarkably similar examples and called them “Fried Chicken Mushrooms.” In the footnote, the author added: “No one seems to know how this mushroom got its name-—it certainly doesn’t taste anything like chicken! Be sure not to eat clumped mushrooms with white to grey caps or with pinkish spores, as they may be poisonous.” Well, I thought, these caps are not “white” white, and certainly not grey. So, I harvested them all and took them home.

The next morning, I cleaned all the mushrooms and dry sautéed the two boletus; I roasted them in a frying pan, adding only salt and pepper. I then sliced up the “chicken” mushrooms and sautéed them traditionally—in olive oil, with salt, pepper and onions. In the meantime, I began nibbling on the two varieties of roasted boletus. They were scrumptious! The roasted flavor of these morsels was powerful and irresistible. Within an hour, my plate was empty and my stomach was full. That was my lunch.

After the “chicken” mushrooms lost most of their liquid, I mixed in a generous portion of sour cream and some spiced up tomato sauce, and stored the concoction away in the fridge. It makes a delicious spread when loaded generously on toasted bread. I have been snacking on this dish with delight for two days now—with no ill effects. I must have picked the non-lethal variety, after all.

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Audrey Bentz

Dan and Frances Hartford. Photo: Audrey Bentz

Dan and Frances Hartford. Photo: Audrey Bentz

You’ve probably enjoyed a delicious cinnamon roll or piece of cake in the past years, provided by Dan (the Baker Man) and Frances Hartford who now live on 2 Oda Knight Road, off Struck Road.

Dan began life in the area of Seaside, Oregon. His parents were both bakers and his mother raised horses as well. Frances was the oldest of ten children born and raised near Jasper, Indiana, in a large settlement of German Catholics. Her family lived primarily “off the land” with their farm, raising all their food from their garden and fish from the lake. But after being caregiver for her nine siblings and being in charge of the chickens, plus milking the cows, Frances exercised her rebellious nature by completing high school and then migrating with a sister to Canada to get away from the farm. After spending some time there, they headed to Texas where she worked as a nurse’s aide, while enjoying a social life with lots of dancing! But eventually they returned to Indiana where she took care of 20,000 chickens and worked as a waitress. Then one day she headed West in her car on a solo trip across the United States. She survived with a little cash, a cat, a gun and a fishing pole. She slept in her car at night, and when stopping at a gas station, she would just buy 25 cents worth of gas at a time. She made it to Eugene, Oregon, where she worked for a time, but eventually she came to Portland. She volunteered to help in a Catholic youth program where there was a handsome young man, also working as a volunteer with Catholic youth, who “looked really nice in his cashmere suit from Hong Kong.” His name was Dan Hartford.

Fourteen years later they married and had two sons, Dan Hartford III and Dale Hartford. They spent 25 years in Alaska, primarily in Anchorage but to Fairbanks in the winter!  Dan was a head baker for the Safeway store in Anchorage. But then he had a bad experience with carbon monoxide poisoning, which he assumed caused him to lose his senses of taste and smell and develop serious allergies, especially to wheat flour. So Dan switched into a floor covering trade, and then to superintendent for a house building company. That led him into building schools in the Eskimo areas across the northern part of Alaska. He said he flew about a million miles on Wien Airlines, later realizing that the toilets built in the schools they built were damaged because the Eskimoes had no idea how to use them! Frances worked in a greenhouse in Anchorage during that time and they enjoyed moose hunting and salmon fishing.

They then moved back to the Lower 48. After returning home, they lived in Lake Oswego, and later operated a counter top business in The Dalles. They bought High Prairie property in 1997. They built their house, moving in 2003. Dan still loves to bake, and finds he can tolerate wheat flour if he just does occasional baking—which he dearly loves to do, providing many tasty cakes, rolls, and pies for High Prairie events. He still uses his dad’s rolling pin and recipes that date back to the 1800’s. Frances is reliving her youth by raising a two acre garden and fruit orchard with over 100 fruit and nut trees from all over the world. She feels people should always plant Heirlooms from their youth to pass on to next generations. They raise Silver Lace Wyandotte chickens which originate from 1880, brought to Iceland in 9th century.

Dan’s son Dan III and wife Erin also have a home on Oda Knight Road. Grandpa and Grandma Hartford help care for grandchildren Rebecca, Ella Jean, Katherine and Patrick Kennedy. Congratulations are due to Dan and Frances, as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on March 5! And yes, they are still active in the Catholic church in Goldendale! Both Dan and Frances feel that High Prairie is a great place to live and they appreciate all the friendly people.

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Fred Henchell

Since 2008, I have maintained a “manual gauge” that meets weather bureau standards. (Prior to that I used an electronic gauge that seemed to always fail part way through the year.) I also use a big pot to collect and melt snow.

Some qualifications:

  • High winds make measurement difficult. Rain and snow often come sideways.
  • There is a lot of variability across our area. Squalls and storm cells can be very localized.
  • The annual pattern is variable: wet vs. dry, warm vs. cold. When precipitation  arrives—fall, winter, spring and summer.

All this makes our weather interesting and unpredictable.

(Click for enlarged view)

(Click for enlarged view)

(Click for enlarged view)

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