Sharon Aleckson

The HPCC Board continues its monthly meetings. At those meetings, the business of the organization is taken care of, events are evaluated or planned, and issues of concern to community members are addressed.

Several committees have been formed throughout the year, depending on what the business of the board happens to be at the time, so there are committee head reports at each meeting. Committees at this time are:

• Grant – Update on Capital Budget Grant

• Kitchen – Update on issues relating to the kitchen

• By-Laws – Reviews the current HPCC By-Laws and makes recommendations for improving them

• Events – Plans, organizes, advertises events

Currently a new committee was formed to review the Building Rental Agreement. They will advise and recommend changes to that document. The goal is to make the Community Center more marketable. HPCC receives money from community center rentals.

There were many events in our community this past year:

• Community Clean-up in 3 Phases

• Dumpster Days

• Community Yard Sales including Mini Firehouse Sales at the old fire station on Centerville Hwy.

• Farmers Market – a new event this year

• Bingo nights

• HP Christmas Bazaar (coming up)

These events were successful due to the efforts of many, and especially Josh Harrison. As advertising is a very important element in the success of an event, Josh put a lot of time and effort into the advertising for these events, and we want to thank him for taking on this responsibility.

On October 21, the community was invited to an Open House at the center where they enjoyed meeting the new firefighters, the officers of HPCC, and other High Prairie residents. The rib meal was a a big hit. Thank you, Anne, for planning and preparing the menu.

The final event for this year will be the High Prairie Christmas Bazaar to be held on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, November 30 through December 2, 2023. If interested in helping at the bazaar, contact Sharon Aleckson at 509-365-4429 or 509-310-9172.

Thank you to Brenda Edin, one of our Fire District 14 firefighters, for agreeing to fill an open position on the HPCC Board. 

As this year comes to an end, I want to thank all those who • helped plan and organize any HPCC event; • participated in any event; • supported any event; • prepared delicious meals; • kept the Community Center clean; and • the HPCC Board Members, who gave time to provide leadership for the organization. 


^ Top

Thanksgiving Dinner

Doug Taylor

I remember one of my first experiences eating turkey at Thanksgiving. We had gone over to Wasco, Oregon, to the Fulton’s, as Mae was my dad’s sister. She put on an elegant dinner and the main item was turkey with all the trimmings. I kind of tend to be a beef man and I do love steak and, of course, ham and eggs. In my younger days sometimes we on occasion for breakfast had just plain salt pork, which I enjoyed. It was a change from smoked bacon, which Dad smoked. 

Getting back to turkey, it really had a foreign taste to me, and I cannot say I really liked it. But I do thoroughly enjoy the dressing made either from turkey, chicken or whatever. Now I guess my taste has not changed, as sometimes my yard is surrounded by turkeys and I have no desire to have one for dinner. But sitting down to a great dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and all the other items makes for a wonderful time (pumpkin pie, my oh my). And I do thoroughly enjoy the dressing made from turkey, chicken or whatever. 

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving to all who may enjoy their turkey or whatever. May you all have a blessed day.

^ Top

Prepare for Winter at Home and on the Road

Debbie McDonald 

Each winter on High Prairie is different and unpredictable, but it’s better to prepare for extreme weather before the unexpected happens. Thinking about what could happen at your home, farm, work or school will help you develop habits and collect items to make emergencies a bit less imposing. I can remember a few power outages, feet of snow, and ice storms, one that left us in the dark for a week.  

The composition of each household is different, and family members should take time to write down what they will need to be safe, warm, healthy, clean and fed. Pets and ages of family members will make your list unique. The lists don’t have to be overwhelming – you may already have the essentials – but lists help keep your family organized and prepared.  

It’s a good idea to keep gas tanks above half a tank year-round. If any family members will be away from home, a kit for their car or backpack will be helpful. Store full, leak-proof containers of water where they won’t freeze for drinking, washing, and sanitation. If you rely on canned foods in emergencies, do you have a manual can opener? How will you heat food or water? Extra medication, candles or flashlights with fresh batteries, blankets, emergency chargers, battery powered radio, shoe traction devices, and a shovel might be on your list. Non-clumping kitty litter is handy when you suspect ice – non-clumping is essential. Before stepping on your porch or out of your car, toss a bit out your door to take that first step without slipping or falling. 

How about a communication plan? Cell phones, cordless phones, or phones connected by wi-fi may not connect during power outages, so keep a phone that plugs directly into the phone jack for emergencies. While you’re writing things down, add phone numbers of your neighbors, emergency contacts, places of work or school, and any other people you might want to contact or check on. I don’t think any of us memorize phone numbers anymore, and if we rely on our memories during an emergency, the numbers will fly out of our brains.  

Do you live alone or stay by yourself while others are away? Create a community of neighbors and friends who will check on you and with whom you can touch base. Is there someone who will clear your walkways and driveway of ice or snow? I’ve seen folks post on the High Prairie Washington Community Facebook page looking for help. Write down phone numbers posted in replies for future reference. 

About all this writing down – keep the lists or a notebook with your emergency supplies for easy access. Check the lists periodically and inventory your supplies. Just 5 or 10 minutes now and then will ensure you are ready for any High Prairie winter.

^ Top

Home Improvement and Scammers

Jon Hancock

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received 109,000 reports of home remodeling scams since 2007. During that time, the victims have lost nearly $207 million.

However, given that many scam victims choose not to disclose the crime, that might only be the tip of the iceberg.

Regretfully, con artists frequently target elderly homeowners, believing them to be more affluent and susceptible to memory or cognitive issues.

The dark side of home improvement

Keep in mind, there are home improvement businesses everywhere and at all quality levels. Some have a solid reputation and produce satisfactory work. 

Other contractors are questionable and just want to get rich quick; their caliber of workmanship is, let’s say, lacking.

Then there are the real con artists who take advantage of you and your house, leaving you with nothing but false promises. Their sole intention is to defraud you of your money and leave you with nothing.

Trust but verify

How can you tell if a contractor might not be reputable? According to the FTC, these behaviors are red flags:

• Scammers knock on doors, claiming to be “in the area” looking for business.

• Scammers claim they have materials left over from a previous job, which will save you money.

• They pressure you into an immediate decision.

• They ask you to pay for everything upfront and/or they only accept cash.

• They ask you to get the required building permits.

• Scammers suggest you borrow money from a lender they know.

• They won’t sign a contract, but insist on a handshake deal.

These seem almost obvious, but con artists don’t become con artists without learning the art of persuasion. They put you at ease. They engender trust and your guard comes down.

Be alert. If something doesn’t feel right, you are under no obligation to move forward.  Call a trusted friend or advisor to discuss your thoughts.

How to avoid scammers

Here are some ways you can greatly reduce your odds of being victimized.

• Consider only contractors who are licensed and insured.

• Get recommendations from family and friends.

• Check with the local Home Builders Association and consumer protection officials to see if they have complaints against a contractor.

• Research a business online and read reviews but keep in mind that they may not be perfect. Instead, focus on the center of gravity, i.e., the bulk of reviews, and how complaints are handled.

• Get written estimates and read the contract carefully.

• Don’t pay the full amount up front. A down payment will likely be required, but avoid those who want full payment upfront.

Let me remind you once more to remain vigilant and remember – you are not obligated to proceed if something doesn’t feel right.

In the unfortunate event that you have fallen victim to a scam, report the crime to the National Association of Homebuilders, the BBB, your state’s attorney general’s office, and the state consumer protection office.

A lot of home renovation businesses take great pride in their work. By adopting a few basic safety measures and researching the reputation of the business you are considering hiring, you can significantly lower your risk of becoming a victim of fraud.

^ Top

Meet Author Jane Kirkpatrick at Goldendale Library Zoom-in

From Terra McLeod, Branch Manager

Join us virtually, or join our Zoom-in party at Goldendale Community Library to meet author Jane Kirkpatrick. From 2:00 to 4:00 pm on Saturday, December 2, Jane will talk about the importance of stories along with a discussion of her stories and how the women she’s written about connect us.

Log in virtually from home, or join us for tea and treats at the library for a watch party. If joining us online you will need a computer, tablet or phone with a camera and microphone.

Jane Kirkpatrick is an award-winning author of 40 titles, most based on the lives of historical women. Her works have sold nearly 2 million copies and been translated into German, Finnish, Dutch and Chinese. She lives in Redmond, OR, with her husband Jerry and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rupert. (Rupert prefers the less formal Rupie). For 27 years the Kirkpatricks lived along the lower John Day River across the Columbia near Moro. Their trips to Goldendale included veterinary visits and the sale of watermelon to local Goldendale grocery stores. Her first book, Homestead, explored with humor their lives along that river. Homestead has been optioned for a film.

^ Top

Fabulous Treat for Holiday or Celebration

Gwen Berry

For several years, my sister, Leslie Clark, has been delighting the members of our family each Christmas (and some birthdays) with gifts of these fabulous treats. They’re so good that either you can’t stop eating them and they’re gone in no time, or you hoard them and dole them out to make them last as long as possible. They’d be a hit at parties, too.

Leslie’s Cinnamon Spice Nuts

Note: these bake a long time at a low temperature and have to be stirred during baking. They’re good to make on a day you’re within reach of the kitchen anyway.

1 lb. shelled raw nuts, any combination (about 4 cups)

1 egg white (I’ve made these without the egg white and it doesn’t make much difference)

½ c. maple syrup

¼ c. coconut sugar or brown sugar

¾ t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

½ t. nutmeg

1/8 t. ground cloves

• Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

• Cover a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment that sticks out a couple of inches on every side. 

• In a small saucepan, stir together syrup, sugar, salt and spices. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Letting the mixture boil briefly will result in a shinier glaze on the nuts, but don’t lose track and let it turn into candy (I say from experience!). Set aside to cool slightly.

• In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy. Add the nut meats and toss until coated with egg white.

• Pour the cooled syrup mixture over the nuts and toss to coat.

• Spread the coated nuts in a single layer on the parchment-covered baking sheet. Pour any extra glaze over them.

• Bake 60-90 minutes, removing nuts from oven every 15-20 minutes. Lift each corner of the parchment to make a heap of nuts in the middle of the pan, stir and spread again into a single layer. Nuts are done when they have dried enough not to be sticky.

• Remove nuts from oven and dump onto a second sheet of parchment. (Very carefully fold the original parchment sheet with the dried glaze on the inside to dispose of it. Otherwise the glaze will shatter, fly everywhere and make your kitchen sticky.) 

• Break up clusters of nuts. Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

^ Top

The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day

(Over the River and Through the Wood)

By Lydia Maria Child, 1844

Over the river, and through the wood, 
With a clear blue winter sky, 
The dogs do bark,
And children hark, 
As we go jingling by. 

Over the river, and through the wood, 
To have a first-rate play — 
Hear the bells ring 
Ting a ling ding, 
Hurra for Thanksgiving day! 

Over the river, and through the wood — 
No matter for winds that blow; 
Or if we get 
The sleigh upset, 
Into a bank of snow. 

Over the river, and through the wood, 
To see little John and Ann; 
We will kiss them all, 
And play snow-ball, 
And stay as long as we can. 

Over the river, and through the wood, 
Trot fast, my dapple grey! 
Spring over the ground, 
Like a hunting hound, 
For ‘t is Thanksgiving day! 

Over the river, and through the wood, 
Old Jowler hears our bells; 
He shakes his pow, 
With a loud bow wow, 
And thus the news he tells. 

Over the river, and through the wood, 
And straight through the barn-yard gate; 
We seem to go 
Extremely slow, 
It is so hard to wait. 

Over the river, and through the wood — 
When grandmother sees us come, 
She will say, Oh dear, 
The children are here, 
Bring a pie for every one. 

Over the river, and through the wood — 
Now grandmother’s cap I spy! 
Hurra for the fun! 
Is the pudding done? 
Hurra for the pumpkin pie! 

American-Born Thanksgiving Song: Over The River and Through the Woods

Gwen Berry

“Over the River and Through the Woods” is a classic Thanksgiving song that many of us grew up singing. The song describes the excitement of bundling up and riding a horse-drawn sleigh to visit Grandmother for Thanksgiving. In case you never learned it, don’t remember it, or haven’t heard it in a while, you can listen to the song here:  https://youtu.be/Zl5r76hVYF0?si=OsgbgnIOdHB5bTWG. There are lots of renditions of the song on YouTube and other places, but this is one of my favorites.

“Over the River and Through the Wood” was originally titled, “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.” It was a poem written by Lydia Maria Child and published in her 1844 book of poems, Flowers for Children, Volume 2. The poem celebrated going to family gatherings for Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s house in Medford, Massachusetts. In time, Child’s poem was set to music by an unknown composer. It became popular after the Civil War, and by the turn of the century it was a classroom standard. 

Over the years, the song has taken on a few adaptations. The end of the first line was changed from “wood” to “woods,” to match modern American English; and although most of us know the words as “to Grandmother’s house we go,” the original poem read “to Grandfather’s house we go.” In addition, lines about Christmas are sometimes substituted in place of Thanksgiving. For instance, the line “Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!” becomes “Hurrah for Christmas Day!” 

The original poem had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song. With twelve  to choose from, you can guess that current arrangements don’t all contain the same ones. Actually, most people have been unaware that there were originally twelve. In 1871, six of the stanzas were published as a book with the name, “Over the River and Through the Wood.” Beautifully illustrated with woodcuts by Christopher Manson, it became widely known, and so for a long time eclipsed the original poem.

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) was born in Medford, Massachusetts, where her grandfather’s house still stands. Much more than an author of children’s poems, Lydia Maria Child was one of the first American women to earn a living through writing. She wrote novels, pamphlets, and works for children. She was also an activist, and often used her writing to advocate for slaves, women, and Native Americans.

Interestingly, during the author’s childhood in the early 1800s, Thanksgiving was a regional holiday mostly celebrated in New England. On April 13, 1815, President James Madison declared it a national day of thanksgiving to celebrate the end of the War of 1812. It wasn’t until November 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln reserved the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving.

^ Top

Oaks and Acorns: 2023 was a Mast Year 

Debbie McDonald 

If you have oaks on your property – and I really hope you do – did you notice how many acorns have dropped this Fall? If you have a metal roof, you’ve probably heard every dropped acorn hit like a gun shot!  I swear the squirrels wait for me to step outside to shake acorns off the trees and onto our metal barn roof just to see me jump. 

Every two to five years oak trees have a mast year, meaning they produce an overabundance of acorns, increasing food availability and population growth for birds, squirrels, mice, deer and other wildlife. It takes a great deal of energy, so in subsequent years the trees will bear little to no nuts. That, in turn, lowers wildlife populations. When the oak tree masts again, providing an abundance of food for lower wildlife populations, there’s a higher chance that some acorns will be left to germinate and grow into future oak trees.  

Once again I’m going to recommend you read The Nature of Oaks by Douglas Tallamy. It’s available for free through our great library system or at book sellers. The book is divided by months so you can read what is currently happening with your oak trees and is written in an easy style. Oaks are a treasure on High Prairie.

Garry Oak (aka: Oregon White Oak) acorns. Bottom: unripe acorns. Left: Ripe acorns ready for harvest.

^ Top

Jingle Bear Comes Home

A true story written by Judi Strait

Many years ago, in the small town of Newberg, Oregon, lived a very kind woman named Judi. Judi loved to sew, and one day she decided to make a teddy bear.

Judi chose the finest blue and brown wool from a nearby mill and carefully worked, with love in her heart, adding very special bells in each ear of the teddy bear. Judy wrapped the bear in a cozy blue scarf and called him Jingle Bear.

Jingle Bear was so special that Judi sewed many more bears like Jingle Bear. They had all different colors of soft, warm wool and different colored cozy scarves. Judi sewed bells in each of the new bears’ ears. They were all very special.

As the weeks passed, Jingle Bear noticed that things were different. The days were shorter and much colder. There were other changes, too. There seemed to be more joy and laughter and wonderful smells of ginger and cinnamon. He found out that it would soon be Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus. 

One day, Judi put all of the bears in her car and took them to the most wonderful place – Sleighbells Christmas Store. It was full of beautiful Christmas decorations and gifts of all kinds. Jingle Bear and his friends got to stay in this delightful place.

One day a very nice lady came to the store. She saw little Jingle Bear and fell in love with him. She took him home with her and he became her very special Christmas bear.

Some 30 years later, Jingle Bear was taken to another store. This was not a fun store, but a crowded one. Jingle Bear was not happy in this new store until one day when a nice lady saw him and took him home.

Judi met this kind woman for lunch, for they were good friends. They visited and laughed, and as they left the restaurant and walked to their cars, Judi’s kind friend said she had a gift for Judi. Judi’s friend reached into her car and handed Judi her gift. Judi could not believe her eyes as she joyfully declared, “That’s one of my bears! That is Jingle Bear!” Judy never dreamed that she would see any of her bears again.

Jingle Bear looked brand new. His wool was still soft and its colors had not faded. His scarf was still cozy and best of all his ears still jingled with joy. Jingle Bear and Judi hugged and were very happy to be together again.

Judi brought Jingle Bear home to High Prairie, where she lived now. She carefully placed him in her living room and he continued to spread joy to all of Judi’s friends and family. 

Jingle Bear had come home!

^ Top

Jingle Bells is About—Sleigh Racing!

Gwen Berry

Like “Over the River and Through the Woods,” Jingle Bells is holiday song that came out of Medford, Massachusetts. Medford resident James Lord Pierpont wrote the song sometime in the 1850s about an activity that was all the rage in the snowy northern parts of our country – sleigh racing. Sleigh racing and sleigh rides were common activities in the mid-1800s, giving young men and women a chance for fraternization and a bit of drinking, and everyone a chance to show off their horses.  

Kyna Hamill, professor of literature at Boston University and vice-president of the Medford Historical Society, explained to the CBC that the “sleigh rides” in the song were actually dangerous street races up and down Salem Street. “Medford is home to a series of sleigh races that used to occur on a street called Salem Street, and because of this event, which pretty much happened in the middle of the 19th century, these sleigh races — which you could pretty much call drag races  — down this street were one of the most popular events,” said Hamill. “Because of that, the influence and inspiration of the song, we believe, came from those races.” 

Look for the clues that it’s about racing when you read the full lyrics:

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
Hey! Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

[Although less well-known than the opening, the remaining verses depict high-speed youthful fun. In the second verse, the narrator takes a ride with a girl and loses control of the sleigh:]

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.[a]
|: chorus 😐

[In the next verse (which is often skipped), he falls out of the sleigh and a rival laughs at him:]

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away. Ah!
|: chorus 😐

[In the last verse, after relating his experience, he gives advice to a friend to pick up some girls, find a faster horse, and take off at full speed:]

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed[b]
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.
|: chorus 😐

Notes to lyrics:
(a) “Upsot” is a jocular variant of “upset”.
(b) Two forty refers to a mile in two minutes and forty seconds at the trot, or 22.5 miles per hour (36.2 km/h). This is a good speed, and suggests the desired horse of that era was a type later known as a Standardbred.

^ Top