Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflections from My Trail - The End of an Argument (A Fishing Tale)

By Charlie Pottenger

Wisconsin about 1968, Dad and I were up and on the lake before dawn and were witnessing another of God’s miracle mornings. Mist was rising from the warm water on a dewy July morning and we were casting huge lures over submerged weedy reefs in search of giant muskies.

These savage, pike-like fish are extremely hard to catch, but the explosiveness of their strike and the strength of their desire to escape make them one of the great American game fish, similar to the heavy fighting steelhead and salmon of the Clearwater.

As dawn progressed and changed the eerie silence of the calm predawn to the splash of light on the water, we cast into the rising sun and my Dad’s surface lure whirred and gurgled in the invisible glare. Nearing the boat with about three feet of line left there was an explosion in the water and Dad’s hands were stripped of his expensive rod and casting reel.

He looked dumbfounded at his empty hands and said, “Sh**ty! Sh**ty!” At the other end of the boat I shouted, “I told you so!”

Thus an ongoing argument between us was resolved. Over hundreds of happy vacation hours spent in the boat seeking these huge fighting fish we had noticed a major difference in the way we held our rods when retrieving the lures in hopes of one of those explosive strikes. The difference provided something to banter about during hour after hour of boring, non-productive sessions of fishing.

I maintained that the correct hold was to grab the rod with the left hand ahead of the reel and anticipate the strike so that the fish’s pull would only sink the rod deeper into the palm. Dad, on the other hand, maintained the rod was designed with a pistol grip so the left hand could comfortably hold it with the fingers only to resist the pull of the fish.

Day after day we rehashed the pros and cons of the proper grip and I always scoffed that someday a fish would steal his rod and prove my righteous position!

That wonderful morning I was finally justified and if Dad were still alive he would tell you that I made him remember that morning almost every time we were together thereafter.

To complete my story, I began gloating immediately! Dad was really sad to have lost his expensive rod, reel and lure plus a really nice musky. I joyfully ordered him to man the oars and get ready. “Get ready for what?” he exclaimed, trying to reestablish his fatherly authority.

Since I had a sinking lure I told him that the fancy star-drag reel he was using would catch in the weeds as the giant fish tried to rid itself of the pesky lure and sooner or later the fish would jump or surface, whereupon he should row like crazy so I could cast behind the fish, snag the line and ultimately catch the brute and reclaim the rod. He said, “Bullsh*t, son!”

Well, the fish surfaced, he rowed, I snagged the line and was able to pull the rod in. The fish was still on, Dad became overjoyed. He said, “Give me my rod!” I said, “Your rod? I just salvaged this rod and this now is my fish!”

I landed the fish, sold the rod back to my Dad for a dollar and had proof that his way of holding the rod was wrong!

This is my favorite fish story and I think of it often. I highly recommend all anglers with casting rods seeking heavy fish heed this advice. I must report that Dad never changed and caught many more muskies with his poor technique, but he never was allowed to forget.

My recommended grip while retrieving a casting reel in search of heavy fish. 
My Dad’s recommended grip while retrieving a casting reel in search of heavy fish, which doesn’t always work.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas tree permits available at Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

In this area, it is a popular tradition to begin the holiday season with an outing to the forest to cut the family Christmas tree. Permits are required for each tree you are going to cut. Permits are $5 each and are limited to three per family.

The permits can be purchased from any of our Forest offices or at the following local vendors: Harpster Store in Harpster, Tom Cat’s Sporting Goods in Kooskia, Rae Brothers Sporting Goods and Tackett’s Saw Service in Grangeville, Cloninger’s Harvest Foods in Kamiah, Helmer Store & Cafe in Helmer, Idaho Rigging in Potlatch, Tri-State Outfitters and Woodland Enterprises in Moscow, and DYNW (Discover Your Northwest) at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, and Lochsa Lodge at Powell.

“Cutting a Christmas Tree on Your Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests” brochure is available at all forest offices and on the forest website at:

As a general rule, no special areas are designated for Christmas tree cutting. Here are some tips when choosing and cutting your Christmas tree:

Cut your tree at least 200 feet away from well-traveled roads, flowing water, campgrounds and recreation sites.

It is permissible to cut trees from the cut banks and fill slopes of lesser-traveled roads.

Select your trees from thickets or overstocked areas. Avoid removing trees from plantations or other areas where tree growth is sparse.

Select a tree that is the right height for your needs. Please don’t cut a large tree just to take the top.

Pile all discarded branches away from roads, ditches and culverts.

Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible. Stumps should be eight inches or less.

Attach a permit to each cut tree prior to transporting it in your vehicle.

For more information, call or visit your local Forest Service office.

Recipes from Home: Ready for the holidays

By Jo Moore of the High Country Inn

I have entertained at the High Country Inn for several years now with High Teas, and as a middle course served homemade scones with “clotted cream,” but have never enjoyed the messy hands that result from having to handle the scone dough.

Every recipe I have ever run across has called for cold butter, cut into tiny cubes, and mixed into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of peas.

Well, just this last week, on the spur of the moment, I decided to try to get some scones made in the hour I had before going to a morning meeting. In my hurry, before I knew it, I had softened butter and creamed it with the sugar before I realized with a jolt that I wasn’t on the road to making scones at all! So I gave that idea up and went to my meeting empty-handed, after calling myself several derogatory names (including “stupid”).

Later that day I decided to just go ahead and see if I could salvage what I had started, even if it meant wasting two sticks of expensive butter! After thinking a bit, this is what I did. I went ahead and added the bowl of mixed dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, turned the mixer on low and blended it just until the whole mixture was crumbly. I then added the liquid ingredients, and it all came together, and could be turned out onto my board without being sticky.

I couldn’t believe my good luck, and proceeded with getting the scones into the oven. The finished product was better than any I had ever made before. Thinking it might just be a fluke, the next day I decided to try the same method with two different recipes, and all turned out just the same! So I became anxious to share my “new” technique. Below is my recipe for pumpkin scones, ideal for serving for Thanksgiving breakfast, or any time you feel like a delicious scone! They also freeze wonderfully to thaw and reheat in the microwave.

Next week I’ll have a different scone recipe, following the same method, and another recipe for a festive Thanksgiving breakfast.
Luscious Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Have ready: 2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional, but delicious!)

Coarse granulated sugar for sprinkling

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone (Silpat) liners.

Cream until just blended:

1 cup butter (two sticks) softened

½ cup brown sugar, packed.

Mix together in separate bowl:

4 ½ cups regular flour

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 Tb. pumpkin pie spice (Or make your own, directions follow recipe)

In another small bowl, mix together with fork:

1 cup plain canned pumpkin

Two eggs

½ tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup whole milk or half and half cream

Directions: With mixer running, add flour mixture to butter and brown sugar, mix on medium high just until mixture is crumbly, scraping bowl once. Immediately add pumpkin mixture and ½ cup pecans, and beat on low until it just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and with your hands form dough into about an 11-inch round. Brush all over the top with half and half or milk, sprinkle over this coarse white sugar and rest of chopped pecans. Cut into twelve even triangles, using a bench knife or other sharp knife, place 6 scones on each baking sheet, at least two inches apart. Bake 10 minutes, rotate pans and bake another 3 or 4 minutes or until scones are lightly browned and firm. Let cool on pan. Ice the scones with Vanilla Glaze.

Make a simple vanilla glaze, with 2 Tb. warm milk, 1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Mix with whisk until well blended, and thick enough to set up (add more sugar if needed.) Pour into a sandwich zip-type bag, close and snip a tiny bit off one corner. Use this as a piping bag and drizzle criss-cross over each scone. Scones can be made and frozen ahead for a delicious start to Thanksgiving Day or any autumn or winter morning or afternoon!

Pumpkin pie spice: (If you already have the following on hand. If not, it is probably less expensive to just purchase the prepared spice.)

Blend together, crushing any lumps:

¼ cup good quality cinnamon (Saigon or Ceylon)

2TB. Ground ginger

1TB. Ground cloves Mixture can be multiplied to keep on hand.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Clearwater County 4-H leaders inducted into Idaho 4-H Hall of Fame

During the 2014 Idaho State Leaders Forum in Lewiston Nov. 7-9, three Clearwater County 4-H leaders were inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame. Oreta Stuart, who has been a leader for 43 years, was recognized for her time as a volunteer in the Idaho 4-H program.

Over a span of 43 years, Oreta Stuart has made her mark on the Clearwater County 4-H program.

Like many other Clearwater County youth, Oreta’s three children participated in the 4-H program. After taking 4-H cake decorating projects, one of her daughters actually became an employee of Wilton, Inc. in Portland, Oregon, giving cake decorating classes.

Oreta has been a project leader in art and leather craft for twenty-four years, and sewing for thirty years. She has helped members in completing their projects by scheduling time for them and at times providing necessary materials needed for completion.

Oreta’s commitment to the county 4-H program includes serving as community club leader for the Weippe Good Luck Club for eleven years and for Fraser Boosters for ten years, in addition to her project leadership in the two community clubs. In her role as community club leader, she oversaw leaders and their projects, worked with youth in organizing and completing community service projects, and encouraged youth to be the best that they could be. Additionally, she served on the fair board for 24 years. In 1986, Oreta received the Distinguished Service Award for Northern District I.

At the state level, Oreta participated in planning state leaders forums when Northern District I hosted, and she has also been a district representative to the State Leaders Association where she served three years.

Billie, a former 4-H member who spent six years in the sewing project under Oreta said, “Oreta is compassionate with the youth she works with. She took time away from her family to help 4-H members learn. She was a very positive person who made sewing fun.”

Laura Bell and Lawrence Judd were also recognized for their efforts in bringing 4-H to Clearwater County. Don and Larry Judd accept the service award on behalf of the Judd family. The following was shared about Laura Bell and Lawrence.

The life enriching 4-H program was established in Clearwater County by the efforts of Lawrence and Bell Judd.

Because of Bell Judd’s involvement in 4-H while growing up in Washington state, the Judd’s recognized and valued the experience that 4-H offers. Lawrence Judd, then a county commissioner, approached the University of Idaho about establishing a Community Extension Club, now known as 4-H, in Clearwater County. The Community Extension Club was established in 1936.

Bell Judd was one of the first leaders of the first Community Extension Club in the Clearwater County with her children Claude, Marie, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002 and recognized for 50 years of volunteer service, Harry, who became an extension educator, Clarabell, and Verla along with neighboring youth being members. A granddaughter also became an extension agent because of her 4-H involvement.

Bell Judd led the clothing, canning, and sewing in the community club. Bell Judd continued to lead and instill the life skills that 4-H is known to produce. Lawrence lent support and assisted with non-home economic projects. This leadership continued into the next generation of their family and other youth in the county resulting in 40 years of volunteer leadership. In the forty years of leadership, Lawrence and Bell helped youth attend regional and national 4-H events and be the best that they could be.

The marriage of Lawrence Judd and Laura Bell Reed established a family whose combined family participation in 4-H spans over 450 years. The impact of their efforts through time and monies expended continue today as Clearwater County continues offering the 4-H Youth Development program to youth throughout the county.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quilts of Valor presentation on Veterans Day

The Central Idaho Quilt Guild will be hosting two Quilts of Valor presentations quilts on Tuesday, Nov. 11. One will be at the Orofino VFW Hall at 7 p.m., for veterans who live in Orofino.

The other presentation will be at the American Legion Hall in Kamiah at 2 p.m., also on Veterans Day, for veterans that live in the Kamiah, Kooskia, and Stites areas.

In order to receive one of these quilts, the veteran must have seen action in a war, be it World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

The public is invited to attend one or both of these very moving presentations.

Several ladies in the guild have made these quilts, some as a group and others individually. They come up with their own designs or one that has been suggested in a quilt magazine.

They use fabric they have purchased or some that have been donated to the guild for this purpose. Some ladies cut out the material for the quilts, some made the tops, some did the quilting, and some sewed on the binding. Some made the whole quilt themselves.

The guild will serve cookies, coffee, and punch at the end of each presentation.

September jobless rate falls as labor force declines

None of Idaho’s 44 counties saw unemployment rates reach double digits during September. Franklin County was the only county where unemployment rose between August and September, from 2.4 percent to 2.6 percent.

Six counties had rates below 3 percent, the lowest in Oneida at 2.5 percent. May of 2008 was the last time six or more counties experienced rates that low.

Clearwater County had the highest unemployment rate for September at 7.6 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from August. Last September it was 11.5 percent.

Lewis County’s September rate was 3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in August, and from last September’s rate of 5.5 percent.

Idaho County’s September rate dropped to 5.5, down from August’s 6 percent, and down from 8.4 percent in September 2013.

Nez Perce County’s rate for September was 3.6 percent, down a little from August’s rate of 4.1 percent. Last September’s rate in Nez Perce County was 5.1 percent.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in September, its lowest level since May 2008. Last year September’s unemployment rate was 6 percent.

The state’s two-tenths of a percentage point drop in unemployment from August mirrored the national rate’s drop to 5.9 percent. September marked 13 full years that Idaho’s jobless rate has been below the national rate.

Employers across most Idaho sectors scaled back hiring in September, but still generated another 3,800 jobs, just below September’s 10-year average. New hires, primarily to fill existing job openings, approached 20,000, the highest September level since 2006.

Total employment remained essentially unchanged from August at just over 741,000 while the number of workers without jobs fell below 35,000 for the first time in more than six years, essentially accounting for the decline in the labor force.

Nearly 2,100 workers left the statewide labor force – many likely returning to school - making September’s labor force decline the largest one-month drop since February 2010. The state’s labor force participation rate – the percentage of working-age adults working or actively looking for work – fell to 63.3 percent, the lowest level since August 1976.

Since the series of severe recessions between 1980 and 1986 Idaho’s labor force declined only one other time between August and September – in 2013. Total employment also rose markedly from August to September in every other year except 2008 to 2010 during the recession.

Construction, manufacturing, hotels and restaurants and bars maintained employment levels slightly higher than normal for September, but the rest of the economy slipped against the five-year average. Services sector jobs, which pay an average of $12,000 a year less than goods production jobs, edged up three-tenths of a point to 84.5 percent.

Almost 12,700 more people were working in September than a year earlier, even though total employment has remained essentially flat since May. Total employment experienced similar stability during the same period in 2013, reflecting how gradual the recovery is occurring across the state.

Unemployment insurance benefit payments continued to run below year-earlier levels in September, totaling $6 million to a weekly average of 5,400 jobless workers. That compared to $6.5 million in regular benefits paid to a weekly average of 6,500 workers in September 2013 plus another $2.5 million in federally financed benefits to a weekly average of 2,800. Federally funded benefits ended at the close of 2013.

In addition to the six counties below 3 percent, another 21 counties and all five metropolitan areas had rates less than the statewide rate of 4.5 percent.