May 18; Moms and Mountains

May 18. Lots of memories associated with this day, most of mine having to do with mom’s birthday and one birthday in particular when Mount Saint Helens blew her top.

May 18, 1980. It was my moms birthday, and my husband and I were in the old truck with mom and dad driving up in the hills past Trout Lake. We saw the column of Ash, and thought at first that it was a fire, but quickly figured out it wasn’t. We drove up to a place we could see a little bit better and watched for awhile. Then Jerry and I drove back home to La Center, and drove up back roads into the mountains on the south west side. We were sitting on a cliff all night watching it blow and you could feel the ground shake. Red tail hawks and eagles were soaring overhead.

10 days later on May 28, we were up in north eastern Washington seeing ash everywhere. While we were there the mountain blew again, to the south west this time. We couldn’t go home back down I-5, and had to travel through Yakima on the east side of the Cascade mountains back down to the Columbia River gorge and then west along WA-14. When we got to our trailer in La Center, there were several inches of ash piled on the roof.

Mom was fascinated by the mountain blowing in her lifetime, and thought it was a pretty interesting birthday present!

May 18, 2019. This year for Mom’s birthday, she gets another of her children, Roger, joining her in the spirit world. I’m pretty sure she’ll put him to work right away. Roger Black passed on May 16, 2019.

Mom, you are Missed, and Loved forever! I remember you talking about how strange it felt to be almost the last one left of your siblings. Now I understand all too well. You raised us to believe in the afterlife, and family being together forever; gratefulness fills my heart.

Mount St. Helens and me, in recent years. Taken at McClellan Viewpoint in GPNF

This is posting only now because for some reason my mobile app has not been uploading posts like I thought it was.


Roger’s Walk of Honor

Roger Black, born May 8, 1942, died May 16, 2019. This beloved Navy veteran from the Viet Nam war was a Wonderful husband to Connie, father to Carmen Knopes and Sarah Vantinteran, grandfather to many, adopted Papa to dozens, and brother to myself and Boyce. We had three more siblings and two nephews who already passed on to join our parents in the spirit world; Nora, Sheldon, and Dennis. Seems like there must be a homecoming party happening on the other side.

Roger was a rock in our lives, Full of love and hugs, and good advice. He seldom got worked up about anything, and like mother he loved everyone and saw the good in them all. He taught us all so much just by example on how to be a better person.

In this last journey, Roger was escorted by another Navy Veteran who is 100 years old. The kind man from the funeral home was also a veteran, and the VA care home provided the beautiful flag. Employees and residents saluted, or put their hands on their hearts as we walked by.

We are so grateful for all the love and kindness from so many.

Roger at the 2018 Alumni Reunion

Loss of Baby Comstock

Help with Baby Comstock Funeral and Family expenses during this time.


On July 18, 2018, little four month old Finlee Andrew Comstock died unexpectedly and suddenly, leaving his parents Derek and Palace in total shock and grief, with no money for funeral or burial.

Through Generous donations , so far enough money has been raised to cover funeral costs. The donation request continues to help the family deal with lost wages etc. during this time.


Also an account has been setup at a local bank for those of you who do not like GoFundMe because of the fees they take out.

And for locals near Dallesport, WA, the local all volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a Spaghetti Dinner as a fundraiser. Little Finlee’s father Derek is a volunteer Firefighter in the Department in Dallesport. This will be Saturday, August 4, 5-9 PM

At the Dallesport Fire Department, 630 Central Blvd., Dallesport, WA, 98617

Julia’s Rainbow

Another young much loved woman has passed away this last week, and my heart is so sad.  Trying to continue forward with photography and life, and stay positive.   Julia Little Brave was my stepdaughter by a former marriage, and although I am estranged from her father I have kept track of his daughter as she married and had children.  I followed from a distance, not wanting to interfere, and kept her in my heart.  This is not about me… this is about an amazing young woman and her family.
Julia had  cancer.  She fought hard, and was in remission for some few years while she returned to college and developed a career in hospital lab work. This in itself was impressive in her large Native American family, where education was often a struggle.   All this while being a great mother, and constantly cheering up others, and praying for others in her Native American Church.  Her positive attitude was amazing.  This last couple years the cancer came back, and though she fought with all she had, this weekend she slipped into that dark night and into the spirit world leaving behind her supportive loving husband Matt and their three beautiful children, along with a heartbroken sister/ best friend and brothers and Father, Mother, and a huge extended clan.

Julia’s sister in law has created a GoFundMe donation site to raise money to help the family with burial costs and huge hospital bills left behind.  Any amount you might be able to donate would be gratefully appreciated, even $1. You can find that site here along with her photo and more information.  Just click on that previous sentence in blue and the page will open up in a new tab.

This is the Rainbow I saw soon after I learned of Julia’s passing.. so I have named this Julia’s Rainbow.

Double Rainbow, Taken from Hood River Oregon, looking over the Hood River Bridge into White Salmon and Bingen, Washington on November 9, 2014

Julia’s Rainbow

In Honor of Loved Ones

In Honor of Loved Ones

In Honor of Loved Ones

My heart cries as once again we lose another family member.  Sometimes there are no words left to describe or explain, except it was way too soon to lose this lovely 32 year old daughter of my special first cousin.  Christina Clarke passed away suddenly in England this weekend, of unknown causes.  Her mother Camille (my cousin) flies to England today to help her son in law with all the details.  Camille had just lost her husband in the spring this year, and lost her Mother just last spring. Her father is also gone, a few short years ago.  I do try hard to hold onto understanding and faith, to know that indeed they are in God’s hands and we will see them again, but sometimes my peace and understanding is shattered by the pain.  I love my Cousins so much and many prayers and heartfelt hugs are being sent to all the Bammes Family.

Graveside Services for Veldon Black

Our beloved cousin Veldon passed away last week, and family gathered from far and wide for the funeral in Fredonia, followed by the Interment in Kanab cemetery.

Cousin Veldon Black was buried in style in Kanab, Utah, after a funeral across the border in Fredonia, Arizona where he lived for many years raising his family (son Alan Black and daughter Kayleen Black Robinson ) and loving his grandkids. In fact the young man in this photo is one of Veldon’s grandsons!
He taught school for a long time, and was much loved by his community and family. Fishing was a large part of his life, especially fly fishing, and his dream was to come visit the Gorge again and go fishing with Boyce Black, but time got away from him. Working in the LDS temple in St. George, Utah was a frequent occurrence weekly in recent time, and it was while working there in a very spiritual setting that he slipped out of this life and into the next. I figured that Heavenly Father had taken his hand and pulled him through that veil because he needed help with something on the other side that would help others. That was just the kind of man he was. I forget how many missions he and his sweet wife Ida Lou had been on, at least 2 or 3. Always encouraging and helping others, he also had a marvelous way of making people laugh at life. Humor was a large part of our family, and it continues down the line
our bro Boyce and his wife Kathleen Black gave me the ride to the funeral, and bro Dennis Black and his wife Donetta also came from Iowa for the event. We got to stay with my Aunt Mary Stevens who must be in her mid 90’s now I suppose. Hurray for a wonderful man’s life well celebrated! Hurray for family!

Some of you remember me heading with Boyce to Utah last spring for a funeral also.. another cousin in the Black family line. Dan Bammes, JoAnn Blackburn,Camille Price and Bruce Bammes are more of my cousin network related through my Dad and their Mom. There are so many more! I feel like as we lose our elders it is all the more important to connect with our cousins and help to support one another and love one another.

Hyrum Stevens Homestead

The old homestead built by my Grandfather Hyrum Wallace Stevens in Mount Carmel, Utah is mostly gone now.    Not much left anymore but the old milk house/ grain storage building is still there and very solid, along with many terraced rock walls.  The foundation of the Milk house was a very thick stone wall, built to keep the milk cool in those hot summers of southern Utah.  Later, when I get the photos of the house taken back in the 1930’s from my brother, I will share that as well.   We stopped here briefly on our way to my cousin’s funeral, and got to meet the new owners who have the home to the right now.  Grandpa’s home was on the hill to the left, above  rock walls just out of the first photo.  There are photos below of the homesite as well.

I was so filled with emotion walking around on this land.. thinking of our Mom, Nina Stevens, and how she was raised here as the middle of 11 children.  Her first school bus was a horse drawn sleigh in winter, and wagon in summer.  When the family made a trip to Kanab it took half a day to get there, traveling down the river valley in a buggy or wagon pulled by horses.  They had to watch for some nasty patches of quicksand that could swallow horses and wagons!  Electricity was unheard of and lanterns provided light at night.  Mom took her turn milking cows before school, especially when Grandpa was gone for two years on a mission for the LDS church and Grandma was alone with the kids.  The older boys and girls helped run the farm, milk the cows and take care of the younger children.

So many stories Mom told us or wrote down, I cannot begin to mention them all here, but will try to share some from time to time.

The old homestead built by my Grandfather Hyrum Wallace Stevens in Mount Carmel, Utah.  Sis in law Donetta Black standing in the driveway on October 18, 2014.  Not much left anymore but the old milk house/ grain storage building is still there and very solid, along with many terraced rock walls.

Grandpa Steven’s old home stood here to the left. The old milk house is the only building still standing. Mount Carmel, Utah October 18, 2014.  My sister in law Donetta Black is standing in the driveway.

Four Kitties and a loving Brother Roger


Recently I added more newer photos  from this last couple weeks, at the bottom of this older post from last year.  The new images show showing my brother cruising us around in his 4wheeler… when a month ago he could hardly get out of bed.  Hurray!

Originally posted portion below from  May 26, 2013:
I love to go visit my brother Roger and his family in The peaceful friendly little mountain town of Trout Lake, Washington. I am always greeted with love and affection from the moment I step on the front porch. These four cats have grown up in this sometimes harsh outdoor environment with extreme heat and cold, and have thrived. Growing up sleeping together in one soft little bed on top of the wood box they’re always wrapping around each other like a continuous dance. I love to bury my face and arms into the pile trying to pet every one of them and receiving love in return. They are a challenge however to get a good picture of, because they’re always moving and so curious, and because the light is not so good under the covered porch. I was thrilled to finally get this picture. I had posted it on Facebook and we had a good laugh as each person in the family claimed those are their kitties. Through winter storms with snow sometimes 10 feet deep, through summer heat with temps up to 104 F, these cats have become the healthiest cats I know.

My brother Roger Black is a kind and loving man, treating others with compassion and humor mingled with a love of others he no doubt learned from our Mother and Father. About 11 years ago he had almost died from a heart fibrillation, alongside the road while driving. His loving daughter Sarah was able to get the car stopped, call 911, and then pull him out of the car onto the road where passersby helped her do CPR until the paramedics got there 15 minutes later. They thought he would possibly be a vegetable after that but because of the CPR he pulled through and surprised them all. If you ask him how old he is he will tell you 11 years old! He has enjoyed his new lease on life and along with it his grandchildren.

Roger and his kitties are survivors full of love and appreciation for life. I learned from them things like being grateful for the moment, being grateful for a roof over my head and food to eat and those who love me. I am grateful to those who believe in my talent, and my brother Roger is one of my biggest supporters And encouragers. He carried me on his shoulders when I was two and he was 18. He carries me through hard times now when he is 70 and I am 55. In spite of ongoing CLL Cancer, COPD and other problems, Roger keeps on ticking (with a defibrillator in his chest) and always has an encouraging word for others. He has great love for his wife Connie, his houseful of kids and grandkids (daughter Sarah, her husband Mark and son Aidan; a grown grandson Bugsy), as well as his daughter Carmen and her big family in Goldendale.
And still he always has lots of loving pets for the four beautiful Kitties on the porch
In this old family photo Roger is in the middle in the back row. I am the baby on Mom’s lap


And this is Roger today

UPDATE September 2014

Roger (wearing his oxygen MOST of the time)  took me on a drive in his 4 wheeler,  Montero Gold, recently and we had a good ol time looking for fall colors up around Goose Lake, Forlorn Lakes, and down some wild road I never could have taken my truck on.  This is him on that day, at the Ice Caves.



The next few images are from a 4 wheeling trip in the hills near Trout Lake…

Roger_Larry_Montero-4807 Roger_Larry_Montero-4832 Roger_Larry_Montero-4837 Roger_MtAdams-4850

Dedication Memorial In Honor of Loving Parents

Nina Black at Lewis River

Our Mother, Nina Black, was born Nina Stevens on May 18, 1913 in Mt. Carmel, Utah; and died of a stroke, peacefully  in the  home of her son Boyce on November 7, 2003 in White Salmon, Washington, seven years after her husband, Claude Elias Black (May 8, 2008- Thanksgiving Day 1996).   Nina took her last breaths holding hands with Boyce and myself  and surrounded by three generations of her descendants singing her favorite hymns to her as she passed through that veil between worlds. Claude had a quick heart attack after a Thanksgiving Dinner with the large family, and passed away on his own bed with his boots still on, just the way he would have liked.  His last breaths went through me as I did CPR and I knew beyond doubt that he was ready to go, I could feel him so strongly.

As a young girl growing up in southern Utah, Nina remembered her first schoolbus was a horse drawn Sleigh in the winter. A trip to Kanab, 20 some miles away, took half a day travel time down the old creek bed, watching out for quicksand areas. Her Mother, Mabel May Stevens, always had flowers on their piano, and many of her 10 brothers and sisters loved to sing and play music.  Their Father, Hyrum Wallace Stevens was a hard working man with a farm, and several cows.  Life was hard but full of love, fresh garden produce and plenty of milk!

Nina grew into a lovely young woman

Nina as a young girl

Nina as a young girl

and she met a handsome young man

Dad on his Mission to North Carolina

Dad on his Mission to North Carolina

Claude was her School Bus Driver for awhile, and the day after Nina Graduated from High School they headed off to St. George to be married in the LDS Temple, Sadly, the car broke down on the way and by the time Claude got it fixed and they made it to St. George the Temple was closed.  Claude had to be at Sheep camp the next day, so they found the Bishop and some witnesses and arranged a civil marriage.  After the summer working at the camp (Mom cooked, Dad was a Sheep herder), they returned to the Temple and got sealed for eternity.

Claude and Nina on their wedding day April 15, 1932

Claude and Nina on their wedding day April 15, 1932

The next 18 years found them moving around following work during the depression, having each child in a different town and in 4 states.  After living in Utah (Dad was a mechanic in Glendale, Utah), California (Orange Orchards), Arizona, and Idaho, (Mechanic and driver on road construction),  The Depression was hard times, often with so very little food for the family.  One time about all they had was a little flour, and they found a 50 pound bag of onions laying by the road.  They had baked onions, fried onions, onion soup, and were grateful.    Claude brought  the family to Washington in 1950 to help his brother Clell Black with a Service Station in Husum, and it became the home they had been searching for.  Raising their teenage kids here was wonderful.  Dad worked at Hunsaker’s and then at Ford Garage in Bingen, and I am told the house was always full of kids.  Mom said she had to count the sleeping bags on the lawn or the living room floor depending on the season to know how many kids she had that day to cook for.  To this day there are many who call Claude and Nina Mom and Dad, kids who stayed with us or came over for meals often, kids with troubled homes that my folks took under their wings.

I was fortunate to be born and raised in White Salmon, and went with Mom and Dad everywhere.

Mother was the teacher in life who most taught me to “Love one Another” by example, by actions. Love of beauty in nature was her legacy, seeing the Divine in others was her trademark. Humor was a joy shared with Mom and Dad… laughter and hugs filled our home. This amazing woman raised 6 children, and always had time for a hug and love… or cookies and homemade rootbeer,  or homemade icecream.

Mom and me....

Mom and me….

Mom and me

Mom and me

Nina and Darlisa at Long Beach

Nina and Darlisa at Long Beach

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Daddy and Me

Daddy and Me.  Can you tell I was Daddy’s Girl?  I followed him everywhere, down cliffs, up waterfalls, and  across rivers in search of fish and rocks; and I followed him into the deep woods hunting deer.

Daddy taught me how to handle a gun properly at a young age, but I never did shoot a deer... when I finally got my first deer in the scope, I  put the rifle down and Dad asked what I was doing... I said "I'm really not hungry, Dad".  He laughed and said "you will be come winter!"

Daddy taught me how to handle a gun properly at a young age, but I never did shoot a deer… when I finally got my first deer in the scope, I put the rifle down and Dad asked what I was doing… I said “I’m really not hungry, Dad”. He laughed and said “you will be come winter!”

I don't remember many times I was at Mosquito Lake in snow, but here is proof it happened!

I don’t remember many times I was at Mosquito Lake in snow, but here is proof it happened!

Summers often found us going to Utah to see Grandma Black (Sarah Elizabeth Cox). These journeys were full of visits to amazing places and red rock parks, places my parents had not been to growing up in Utah.

Summers often found us going to Utah to see Grandma Black (Sarah Elizabeth Cox). These journeys were full of visits to amazing places and red rock parks, places my parents had not been to growing up in Utah.

My wonderful brothers sadly left home for Navy, Army and College by the time I was 4 and my sister had already gotten married, so at times it was like being an only child, but when they were around they spoiled me rotten.

Our Family after I came along

Our Family after I came along

Claude and Nina lost their oldest son Sheldon in a hunting accident…and then had me 1 1/2 years later. My growing up memories were of a happy mother full of love and joy… willing to wade with me in the creek, throw a snowball at age 75, and kiss away all the pains. I have often wondered in recent years how she did it… and then I know.  It was because of her absolute faith in God and in what comes after death. She knew she would see her son again, he was not really gone… and so the pain was less sharp.  Her faith nourished her Husband, and all her Children; Nora, Sheldon, Dennis, Roger, Boyce, and myself.

My brother I haven't met in this life, Sheldon, with my "adopted" brother Jimmy

My brother I haven’t met in this life, Sheldon (on the right)  with my “adopted” brother Jimmy.  Sheldon was killed in a freak hunting accident at age 20 in September 1956 by Jimmy, and as I grew up Jimmy was the other brother in our house… I remember him throwing me up in the air and laughing. Mother always said that she knew if she said one angry word to him about shooting Sheldon that he would have killed himself, so she simply took him in her arms.

I am always amazed at the strength of my parents… Not long before they lost Sheldon, Grandpa Alvin Black died of a heart attack in Husum where he had come to help his sons build a home for Clell and Allie.  In the spring after losing Sheldon,  Mom and Dad took their first EVER child free weekend trip to the coast, camping at Copalis Beach in Washington.  That is where I was conceived just when they thought they were nearly done raising children.  Mom was 45 and Dad was 50.  Then, while pregnant with me, Mom’s Mom passed away back in Utah and she made the journey for the funeral.  After all of this, still these amazing people said only kind things and raised me with joy and love.

Roger, Darlisa, Dennis, Boyce

Roger, Darlisa, Dennis, Boyce

Sister Nora and her son Gregory Jon

Sister Nora and her son Gregory Jon at the Beach with us


Nora and Nina were pregnant at the same time, and David and Darlisa were born exactly 2 months apart

Nora and Nina were pregnant at the same time, and David and Darlisa were born exactly 2 months apart

Mom and my Tippy Dog

Mom and my Tippy Dog

Nina loved this land.   Daily she would point out a lovely hat on Mount Hood or Mount Adams, or some lovely flowers blooming along the roads.  Summers were spent wading in the Lewis River, filling our pockets with rocks while Dad filled his bag with fish.  The smallest or largest moments of beauty around us were pointed out and appreciated.

Claude and Nina at Lower Falls

Claude and Nina at Lower Falls

Dad fishing under Upper Falls on the Lewis River

Dad fishing under Upper Falls on the Lewis River


Up until a week before her 90th birthday, Mom was still sewing patchwork quilts up on her old Singer Treadle sewing machine. Many of those quilts contained memories… as material salvaged from clothing was often used in her quilts.

50th Wedding Anniversary (I think, or 60th?) The Quilt on the wall may have been one of Mom's

50th Wedding Anniversary (I think, or 60th?) The Quilt on the wall may have been one of Mom’s

My friend Debbie, Mom and myself in around 1986

My friend Debbie, Mom and myself in around 1986.  It was during this time that I was a single mother, and Dad became Grandpa Dad to my daughter.

My dad and my daughter

My dad and my daughter


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Frosted Leaves and Mount Adams
Frosted Leaves and Mount Adams.  

Perfect Crystalline Frost on the early morning plants reminds me of my Mother, who taught me to always notice the moments of beauty in all seasons.  In the background on this photo, we see Mt. Adams, one of her favorites… and I see it now as her faith, enduring to the end.

Mother and Father, we love you!!!

Buffalo Breath and Memories



This one is dedicated to my deceased husband David Reel… who passed away January 16, 1996 following a long illness. We had been together for 4 years when he got sick… and soon after that we had a large community wedding on Winter Solstice 1991, sort of a blend of new age, native american and christian…. a ceremony we created more or less on the spot and involved the whole crowd. The men followed David into the chapel from outside and circled the building clockwise to make a circle filling the whole room, and the women followed me in a counter clockwise circle ending up in a circle inside the circle of men… with David and I standing together with our Native preacher friend… My daughter joined in our ceremony, by reading out loud a wonderful poem she found called “Don’t you Quit!”
The ceremony was profound, I felt… and later was told that forming part of the circle was an experience for many rather like getting married all over again, renewing their own vows . After the ceremony was over, musician friends of ours in Port Townsend started playing a Polka, and David and I danced all around the room until we were breathless… joined by the others after the first few moments…

At the time, David had a IV port in his arm, and had energy for only one dance, but oh, we had so much fun! Sadly he ended up back in the hospital once more after one night of honeymoon.

The reason I chose this photo (taken on January 15, 2009) was because of a memory from our extended family honeymoon that took place in May of 1992. We all drove across Idaho camping at hot springs along the way, with David almost entirely blind at the time.  Often, after the camping chores shared by all 3 of us were done, I would read out loud to both he and my daughter before bed. It was a timeless journey, with fishing and hot springs, laughter and frustration both. We came to Yellowstone and spent a week or so wandering around… my daughter still remembers me sitting in the open door of the camper van playing my Native American flute for the herd of Buffalo crossing the road and wallowing in the dust nearby. She tells me they came closer, listening to the flute.

At one point, my girl and  I were outside the van, taking photos of the buffalo and a large moose with calf off the road a ways. David, who could not see more than some movement and light, was sitting in the van with the window down… while a buffalo was browsing in the low bushes beside the road not far away. Later, he told me he learned a new breathing meditation….. “Buffalo Breath”. As the Bison grazed, she would take a deep breathe and exhale it all out with a whooosh… so for awhile when things got rough David would practice his “buffalo breath meditation. Hmmm… now that I think of it, it was rather a lot like the kind of breathing they teach a woman to use in labor!

Back here in 2009, In this photo, it was freezing cold out, with rime frost on the trees and plants… and as the Bison breathed, their breath became the fog you see around the back buffalo. Seeing this I was transported back in time to the trip to Yellowstone.  This small herd was living on a ranch near Trout Lake, Washington, but change comes to all things eventually and the herd is gone now.

Life has never since been the same

 The “Don’t You Quit” Poem