Vol. 22, No. 1














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 Sharon Aleckson

The HPCC Board of Directors would like to thank Tamera Woodruff and Josh Harrison for planning and organizing the 2021 Christmas Bazaar. (See Josh’s article in this newsletter.) This very successful event took a lot of personal time and energy. Tamera and Josh both did an amazing job! The Board would also like to thank Chris and Susan Sattem and their team of helpers for providing food, beverages, and pastries for many to enjoy.

In case you’re curious, money collected for vendor space rental and table rental was donated to HPCC. Money collected from the sale of food paid for the purchase of the food served.

We’re looking forward to a 2022 Christmas Bazaar. It’s on the HPCC 2022 Calendar of Events, and Josh and Tamera have already volunteered to organize it. There is currently a list of vendors who want to come to the 2022 bazaar. High Prairie crafters are already discussing and planning the projects they would like to complete for the bazaar. All that will be needed are people to help get it going next Fall. 

2022 Events and Activities

At the end of August of 2021, the HPCC Board of Directors asked members of the High Prairie Community to complete an interest survey. The results indicated which fundraisers, community benefit projects, and activities people would be interested in supporting and participating in. A drawing for a gift card was offered as an incentive for completing the survey, and there was a great response. The results were reported in the Fall 2021 issue of the High Prairian. Now, based on feedback from the 2021 survey, the Board is in the process of planning which events and activities will be on the HPCC calendar for 2022. 

 Correction: Due to the Editor’s no-longer-great hearing over the phone, the gift card winner’s name was printed wrong in our last issue. It should have read, “Tess Wallace.”

Fundraisers – A major fundraiser is needed to fund the operations of the HPCC and help support the HP Fire District. There are two options for a Fundraiser: Old Fire Hall Rummage Sale (a simplified version of HP Firehouse Sale) and Oktoberfest (a modified version of the 2019 HP Oktoberfest). More complete descriptions and the opportunity to vote for one or the other will be coming out soon. 

Community Benefit Projects – Survey respondents gave most support to three projects. These are a High Prairie clean-up/dumpster day; High Prairie community yard sales; and updating the High Prairie phone directory. All three will be put on the calendar, but with the caveat that each needs a person (or persons) to take charge and organize the event.

Activities – Because the HPCC Board has applied for a Capital Budget Grant from the State to upgrade the community center (see Henry Gebhard’s article in this newsletter), decisions about activities that use the community center will have to wait until it’s clear whether the grant is coming through. If it does, there will be limited availability until renovations are completed; so right now the Board is focusing on events and activities that don’t use the community center. When the center becomes available, the 2021 survey will once again be used to plan events and activities in the community center. The annual Firefighter Appreciation event will be added to that list.

The HPCC Board of Directors willingly puts in a lot of work for the High Prairie community, but they will completely burn out if they keep being in charge of event after event. What’s needed now is for other people to take charge of making events and activities happen and take the burden off the Board members. The Board can provide money to cover event/activity costs, as well as background info on what’s been done previously; but they need an organizer to coordinate with. If you’re interested in a particular event or activity, please step up and help make it happen. Talk to any Board member or call Sharon at 509-365-4429.

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This cookie, chock-full of chewy oats and melty chocolate, satisfies a sweet tooth in a better-for-you way. It’s made with whole grains and less sugar for longer-lasting energy, and a blend of healthful oil and butter. Baking it in a skillet gives it a big-cooki e wow factor and eliminates the need to scoop individual mounds of batter, so it’s extra easy to make, too. 

Storage Notes: Leftover cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. 


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the dish 
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed 
1/3 cup (75 grams) packed dark brown sugar 
1 large egg, at room temperature 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2/3 cup (80 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole-wheat flour or 
1/3 cup each all-purpose (40 grams) and regular whole-wheat flour (40grams) 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt 
1 cup (90 grams) rolled oats 
1/3 cup (60 grams) semisweet chocolate chips 

Step 1 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet with butter. 

Step 2 

In a large bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons of butter, the oil, sugar, egg and vanilla and, using a whisk, beat until the mixture is creamy and well combined, about 3 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer to do this.) 

Step 3 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just to combine. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the skillet, distributing it evenly across the bottom. 

Step 4 

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookie is browned lightly around the edges and just set in the center. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into 10 wedges and serving. 

Nutrition Information 

Per serving (a wedge), based on 10. 
Calories: 178 ; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 28 mg; Sodium: 68 mg; 
Carbohydrates: 24 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 11 g; Protein: 4 g 
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

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Gwen Berry 

It’s a crazy, dangerous world right now, according to the continual news reports we get every time we turn around. But is doom really right around the corner? Maybe the unceasing news itself, disguised as important information, is producing that feeling. 

It’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV, look at your cell phone, open a web browser, or scroll through Twitter without being assaulted with notifications of a new world disaster (or two, or three. . .). Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, alerts of shootings, plane crashes, crime, war, and human rights violations are constant. 

In addition to the near-ubiquity of negative news, the quality of the news has changed. In general, it’s become more emotionally charged, acrimonious, violent, and visually graphic. Plus, a larger percentage of the “news” is in the form of increasingly negative and fear-laden commentaries. They are often partisan, misleading, or intended to spread fear; and often they are more speculation than facts. 

There’s also been a dramatic shift to visual imagery in news items, using images sent in by the audience, gleaned from social media, and captured on smartphones by people close to or even directly involved in an event. These dramatic and shocking images are presented to convey fear, danger, excitement, and risk. This is a new form of “news reality” in which viewers are virtually right there at distressing events and may experience emotional reactions as if they were actually present. 

There are reasons the news is going that direction. Shock, fear, and outrage sell. Humans are evolutionarily wired to screen for and anticipate danger – a natural negativity bias. We instinctively pay more attention to things that are dangerous or threatening; so negative news draws us in and holds our attention, and it keeps bringing us back for more. News purveyors know this. “Media competition means that journalists and editors have incentives to use emotionally powerful visuals and story lines to gain and maintain ever-shrinking news audiences,” wrote political scientist Shana Gadarian in The Washington Post. 

Too much emotionally charged, negative news may have serious and long-lasting psychological effects. It can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression, and even PTSD-like symptoms. It can foster pessimism and world-weariness, and lead to “mean world syndrome,” a phenomenon where the violence-related content of mass media convinces viewers that the world is more dangerous than it actually is. 

Interestingly, too much negative news can affect your personal worries, too, making them seem more threatening and severe. Your worry may be difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be. Subconsciously, you can become more attuned to negative or threatening events and see even neutral events as negative. This increase in negative perception can feed a vicious cycle and affect your mood for some time. 

The impulse to consume negative news can be difficult to resist, since scanning for threats and danger is in our DNA. “Keeping our fingers on the pulse of bad news may trick us into feeling more prepared,” says Cecille Ahrens, clinical director of Transcend Therapy in San Diego, California. But while it may be necessary to follow the news to stay informed, especially during a crisis, Ahrens says the feelings triggered by negative news stories can keep people stuck in a “pattern of frequent monitoring,” leading to worse mood and more anxious scrolling. This negative spiral—dubbed “doomscrolling”—can take a toll on mental health. 

The truth is, this is kind of a crazy time. It only feels crazier if we’re inundated with images and stories that elevate our fears in order to control us or keep news outlets in business; and we definitely don’t need the news convincing us that things are worse than they are. 

What can we do? The first thing is to go on a media diet. Reduce news consumption, limit time on social media, and unfollow sites that are adding to the fear and anxiety. If something you read or hear upsets you, check on its accuracy before letting it get to you. 

Remember that, because we’re born with an instinct to screen for and anticipate danger, it’s easy to get hooked on all that negative news. Somewhere inside it feels like following all the news will make us safer, but it doesn’t. Pay attention to how the news is affecting you, and if you feel caught up in it, with a need to hear every update, find a way to get just the outline of what’s going on and stop with that. Or stop completely for awhile. 

Do something else with your time. Practice “attention restoration” by leaving the media behind and going on hikes, walking at the beach, playing a round of golf, etc. Focus on things you can actually have an effect on. Look at one of the good-news websites. They help put things into perspective by reminding you that there are still good things happening all the time. Encourage a more optimistic approach. 

Note: The information and some of the text in this article came from these web pages: 





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Rebecca Sonniksen 

I’ll admit —I’m a list maker, a perpetual planner. My younger sister, Amy, might even accuse me of being Ms. Bossy Pants. So, that’s why my story of how my husband, Scott, and I ended up with two unplanned special needs kittens is a personal reminder of the gift of the “unplanned.” 

Believe me, I know we’ve all heard enough these past few years about the ways people’s lives have had to change despite their plans. Like others, Scott and I were in agreement on what seemed a well-reasoned plan and suddenly had to let it go. But this sad story has a silver lining . 

This past September we had to make the gut-wrenching decision to put down our sweet 13-year-old cat, Gracie. If you’ve gone through the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet you know the agony, doubts, and sadness we experienced. 

When it’s finally over, the last thing you’re thinking is, “I need more emotional upheaval in my life.” So we decided, let’s keep it simple, no more kitties at least until the spring. But here comes the unplannin g. 

About 2 months after Gracie’s passing I received an email from LaRae, a volunteer for Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue, (CGCR) who fosters feral kittens and cats. She knew we had lost Gracie and wondered if by any chance we might consider adopting a “Special Needs” kitten, Suki. 

Her front leg had been crushed, perhaps by being thrown from a car, and it would need to be amputated leaving her with only three good legs. Because of her handicap she would need a safe indoor home and LaRae was worried this sweet kitty would be left alone in a cage for months waiting for her “forever home.” 

Scrolling down, I looked at the video she had attached of little Suki lurching across a table dragging her useless front leg. Her sweet delicate face was punctuated with round yellow eyes giving her the look of a surprised lemur. Her furry coat looked soft with the coloring of a “diluted calico.” Then there were pictures of her cuddled with another foster cat, a large orange tabby, who was grooming he r. 

Despite whatever cruelty she might have suffered, she was a sweet, loving little girl. Hard to resist. But still thinking, “not yet,” I wandered into the living room carrying my phone to show Scott. I guess he saw the same things I did because he thought we should consider it. So we arranged to go down to the CGCR clinic the next week and meet Suki and talk with the vet, Dr. Jean, about amputation. After conferring with Dr. Jean we decided it would be best to amputate the leg. 

Planning ahead, I thought—based on the pictures of her with the other cats—that after she got adjusted to us we should adopt a companion for her. I mentioned this in passing to our neighbor Elke Neubauer of Pawsitivity, who also rescues feral/homeless cats. 

Well, within a couple days, Elke had the perfect companion for her, a 3-month-old tabby male kitten she had just rescued. Like Suki, he was alone—no siblings, no mother. When there are siblings, Elke likes to adopt them in pairs. 

Within the next couple weeks, we had two 4- and 5-month-old kittens, Suki (Love) and Shanti (Peace). They couldn’t be more perfect for us and each other. He even grooms her where she can’t reach without her front right leg. They are both survivors and maybe that’s what makes them grateful and ready to give and receive love. 

And we are grateful to Elke, LaRae and the kind soul who brought Suki to CGCR. Their planning and dedication was responsible for saving these kittens’ lives. I guess it takes both–doing the footwork and the planning, and then just being receptive to what might come your way. To be ready to open your heart to the unexpected gifts of the unplanned. 

And to add to that—when we went over to Elke and Frank’s to meet Shant i , we took our granddaughters, who immediately fell in love with two fluffy siblings who they later adopted . 

The silver lining. 

Pawsitivity is a smalll group of volunteers providing a feral cat spay/neuter program in Goldendale and Centerville. To contact Pawsitvity for additional information call 509 261-089 or visit the web site www.pawsitivity.info

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Patricia Fargnoli 
Photo: Mike Mahaffa 

If you have seen the snow 
under the lamppost 
piled up like a white beaver hat 
on the picnic table 
or somewhere slowly falling 
into the brook 
to be swallowed by water, 
then you have seen beauty 
and know it for its transience. 
And if you have gone out in the snow 
for only the pleasure 
of walking barely protected 
from the galaxies, 
the flakes settling on your parka 
like the dust from just-born stars, 
the cold waking you 
as if from long sleeping, 
then you can understand 
how, more often than not, 
truth is found in silence, 
how the natural world comes to you 
if you go out to meet it, 
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds, 
its vacant birdhouses, and dens 
full of the sleeping. 
But this is the slowed down season 
held fast by darkness 
and if no one comes to keep you company 
then keep watch over your own solitude. 
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body 
the significance of cold 
and the night, 
which is otherwise always eluding you. 

 “Winter Grace” by Patricia Fargnoli from Hallowed. © Tupelo Press, 2017. 

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Tim Darland, Fire Chief 

High Prairie firefighters had a very busy year. During 2021, first responders took part in 125 emergency calls. This is a record for the department. I will break down the call categories in the spring High Prairian issue. 

The Fire Commissioners have sworn in two new department members, Pat Snyder and James Biscardi. Welcome to both and thank you for taking an active part in our community. Your service is very much needed. 

In 2021 the department received a grant from Legends Casino for $5,000. The money is being utilized to install air systems at Station 1 and Station 2. This air system will allow us to pre-charge the air brakes on the emergency apparatus for a faster response out the door. This project is scheduled to be completed in February 2022. Also, some much needed building maintenance was done over this last year, including painting Station 1/Community Center and replacing door seals. 

As we all know, winter is upon us and certainly arrived with a vengeance. The fire department prepares by chaining up several emergency vehicles to respond in these winter conditions. Time is critical in any emergency response situation and even more so with feet of snow on the ground. As property owners, you can greatly help save time in our emergency response by plowing long driveways as well as ensuring the width plowed is at least 9 feet. Being able to drive to your residence for a house fire is much quicker than if the firefighters have to drag hoses up your driveway. 

With that being said, I know not everyone can get or keep their driveways plowed. Here are a few thoughts to help “buy time” until responders can access your location. Purchase fire extinguishers. A few years ago, my son came into my bedroom and said he smelled something burning. Turned out my dishwasher started a fire and the 20 year old fire extinguisher I had still worked to put out the fire. Whew! Make sure the dial on the fire extinguisher indicates “charged” or in the green. This brings up my second thought. Ensure you have working smoke detectors. Test them monthly! In addition, replace smoke detectors if they are older than 10 years. Lastly, keep blue address signs visible to help emergency responders find your location. Time is critical. Please help us help you. 

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Josh Harrison
Photo: Nance Carter

On December 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 2021, the High Prairie Community Center had its first Christmas Bazaar. Josh Harrison and Tami Woodruff coordinated the event. Tami handled all the phone calls and set up the building for vendors, and Josh handled advertising. Josh designed the flyer for the event. He posted it on social media in 35 local Facebook groups. He also spent 20 hours putting up flyers in Goldendale, Lyle, The Dalles and Hood River. 

The event was a raging success. There was a great turnout of people, and every vendor we spoke with was very pleased with their sales. We also had a good variety of vendors. We had vendors with jewelry, knitted items, homeopathic remedies, desserts, handmade leather items, handmade cutting boards, handmade baskets, and handmade wood crafts among other things. 

For this year’s bazaar we decided to go from 10 am to 6 pm each day; but we noticed that starting at about 4 pm there were very few customers. For next year we will probably do 10 am to 4 pm. Going so late was the only thing that vendors were unhappy with, which will change next year. 

In case you didn’t have a chance to come to our event, here are photos that Josh took of the vendors. He used the photos for his Facebook group posts to entice people to come after the event had started. Whether you are a would-be vendor or just enjoy buying handmade quality items for family and friends for Christmas, we hope to see you again next year! 

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Henry Gerhard 

The HPCC has for some time wanted to upgrade the community center kitchen and make other improvements. Susan Sattem spearheaded a project to look at the improvements that should be made in the kitchen to make it work better. This kitchen project was coming to a head around Thanksgiving in 2021. At that time the kitchen project was looking into a means to finance these improvements and reached out to our State Legislators regarding state support for the kitchen improvements, as well as better access from the community hall to a proposed covered concrete patio on the west side of the building. 

Our Legislative members brought to the Kitchen project the fact that there are state funds that will be available for capital improvements at county, city, and other jurisdictions in the State. The downer in this information was that all applications for such funds would have to be submitted not later than 1/28/2022, and it was just after Thanksgiving. 

At that time the Kitchen Committee and the HPCC Board joined forces to get the application completed by mid-January. There was an outline that defined what information was needed, and the application had to be entered online to the legislative computer system. Once you began entering you could not go back, you could only start over. Chris Sattem managed the data needed as he would be entering the application. Deborah Weber developed the first draft of the application, which also showed us the data that we did not have. Todd Meislahn contacted the Yakama tribe who stated they were not concerned about activity at the Fire District/Community Center. The HPCC Treasurer, Henry Gerhard, contacted Riverview Bank to investigate our financial options. 

Between Dec. 15 and Jan. 17, everyone helped at 8 to 10 meetings to refine the application. Chris Sattem entered the application on Jan. 20th. Now we wait to see how the legislative session proceeds. We may be awarded the full $800,000 we requested, we may receive only a portion of that, and we may receive nothing. Regardless, we will continue to do whatever we can to bring about needed improvements. 

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From https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/valentines-day-ideas/a26863/valentines-day-facts 

St. Valentine wasn’t just one person. You may already know that Valentine’s Day was named after its patron saint, St. Valentine — but there’s actually some confusion surrounding which St. Valentine the holiday technically honors. According to History. com, there are at least two men named Valentine that could’ve inspired the holi day, including one Valentine who was a priest in third century Rome. As the story goes, this Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage (he thought it distracted young soldiers), illegally marrying couples in the spirit of love until he was caught and sentenced to death. Another legend suggests that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape prison in Rome, and that he actually sent the first “valentine” message himself while imprisoned, writing a letter signed “From your Valentine.” 

Valentine’s Day has its roots in an ancient Pagan festival. Though some historians believe that Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine on February 14, others believe that the holiday actually has its origins in a Pagan fertility festival called “Lupercalia,” which was celebrated on February 15 in ancient Rome. Dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus, the day was celebrated by sacrificing animals and smacking women with animal hides, a practice that was believed to encourage fertility. 

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Rebecca Craig Sonniksen 

Walking through pioneer cemeteries, I love to imagine the lives of the people whose names and tributes are etched into the granite headstones. I imagine the late 1800’s, when the school teacher, the farmer, the preacher, the journalist, the well driller, the merchant, all traveled cross-country looking for a better life. 

The dates on the stones also invite you to imagine lives cut short by consumption, farming accidents, lightning strikes, drownings and suicide. And the small stones etched with lambs mark the heartbreaking loss of babies and children. 

For many of us, they were our ancestors settling in such towns as Grass Valley, Moro, Klondike, Wasco, Antelope, Locust Grove, Monkland, Kent and Shaniko that became the world’s largest inland wool shipping center. 

The pioneers who braved these hardships and tragedies set the stage for what many of us take for granted. My great grandfather, Thomas Craig, and members of his Irish-born family homesteaded in Sherman County in the1890s. When my sister and I found out that they were buried in Wilcox Observer Cemetery, a small cemetery located on private land 2 ½ miles south of Kent, Oregon, off U.S. Hwy. 97, we planned a visit. 

What we found was a graveyard that had been abandoned and was surrounded by encroaching agricultural land. Pieces of barbwire were rolled up and strewn around the graves. Markers were knocked over and covered in weeds and grasses. Decorative wrought iron fences surrounding some graves were filled with weeds, and the graves and markers had disappeared, sunken into the ground. 

We were saddened by this condition and decided to work together with the new land owner to restore and preserve this pioneer cemetery. In addition to the nearly 20 marked graves there is evidence of about 15 unmarked graves. We would like to conduct a search using ground penetrating radar to locate and mark the unmarked graves and reset and repair the damaged stones. 

Before we can begin, however, we need the support of other desendants of these 30 or so souls, because only together can we hope to restore this sacred place, which has been neglected for more than 100 years. 

To that end we have listed below the names engraved on the tombstones. If you recognize a name or know someone who might be related, or if you are interested in helping us restore dignity to this pioneer cemetery, please contact me at rsonniksen@gmail.com

If you would like to know more about the Wilcox aka Observer Farm aka old Kent Cemetery, check out the web page www. shermancountyoregon.com

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