Closing spring this year has been a delight attending events. There were two highlights of the season for me. I discovered a new plant I had never seen before and I read an exceptionally good book. While camping at Moss Creek in south central Washington I saw for the first time the Sugar Stick plant. Properly known as Allotropa Virgata which is parasitic on fungi that occur in leaf litter beneath conifers. Seeing it took my breath away. Most importantly, the reason it’s so exciting to see this plant is that it feeds by taking nutrients from the matsutake  mushroom, exclusively. While most mushrooms are enjoyed primarily for their taste, matsutake mushrooms are appreciated for their aroma. The scent invokes the taste of autumn, with a hint of sweet cinnamon and cypress. It has a firm, meaty texture and a spicy flavor. Matsutake is the most prized mushroom in Japan, where a single fresh specimen can cost over $100 in American money. Mushroom hunters go crazy when they see the Sugar Stick.

Here and to the right are shown different stages of the developing Sugar Stick plant.
Map of where the Sugar Stick and Matsutake can be found in N America.
The Matsutake

The popular book being read in my area now by my friends and acquaintances, as well as myself, is about the life of Cardinal Francis George. In our area we have a special interest because this incredible man was our bishop for a number of years and to me in particular as he Confirmed Taylor. I sat in meetings with him and at the time had no idea how intelligent he was, nor of the amazing things he accomplished in his life, all for the glory of Christ. He was humble, sincere, and very kind to everyone. Yet, he had no tolerance for nonsense. I can’t begin to tell you about this great man but I can suggest every Catholic should read this book as Cardinal George saw right through the the corruption in today’s government as well as the corruption in the church. When he became the Archbishop of Chicago, the first native son of Chicago to receive that position, he inherited the terrible truth of the church’s sex scandal amongst the clergy that rocked the faith of every Catholic. He explains so many question we Catholics have running through our heads. Francis George died of cancer on April 17, 2015, in the archdiocesan residence in Chicago at age 78. If anyone is worthy of sainthood, it is he.

The book is at times hard to read as a Catholic, but it answers so many questions and gives great hope for the world. There is no question in my mind that this man is a saint today. I give a special THANK YOU to Kirk who loaned me his book. Just today I finished an enjoyable book called “Dear Mad’m” based on a true story of an 80 year old woman who left San Francisco to live in a mining cabin in the Siskiyou Mts of north California. She wanted more depth to her reclining years. It is a delightful book.

Thank you to Kathy who loaned me the book.

One evening in June St Joseph’s church invited all of us involved in the Sunday school program to dinner at Ixtapa restaurant in Hood River. There were about 20 of us present so it was a lively group. I didn’t take any photos as I started the event with a margarita that put me in a talkative mood. We had a great time.

I had not eaten here before so enjoyed trying a new restaurant.

Part of the fun was watching families enjoy dinner with their children. it was a lively place.

Several days later I attend a party in Vancouver for my long time friend Kirk who was retiring from teaching. Kirk’s mom, his brother and his wife, and I were from out of town while most of the other folks were colleagues of Kirk, except for his friend Kim, who host the party. She is from Woodland, WA.

Another great teacher earned his reward. God bless Kirk in his retirement.
I have known Kirk since he was five. We taught in the same school many years before he moved to Vancouver.
Kirk’s good friend Kim host the party. She was a blur making sure everything was as it should be.
Kirk did a great job greeting every one of his guests.
Kirk’s family: his mom Rosemary his brother Carl and Carl’s wife Virginia.
We all had a very good time.

It was a great party for Kirk. We all had a wonderful time. Thank you for including me, Kim. Kirk is very dear to me.

Two days later I was back in Vancouver attending the high school graduation party of my great niece, Thea. Jeremy and Stephanie’s daughter. Jason and his gang were there as was Thea’s grandma Judy Baenen from Lead, SD, and her aunts, Melissa from Pierre, SD and Emily from Sturgis, SD. Jeremy’s sisters. It was great seeing them again. I enjoyed seeing Brody and Owen, Thea’s twin brothers, home from collage, and Stephanie’s mom Sunee. I knew only a few of the other guests. The weather was beautiful and the party was held outside. Congratulations, Thea, on your graduation. Thea will be attending Gonzaga in Spokane next year in the nursing field.

Thea with her family
Thea and her aunts Melissa and Emily
Grandma Sunee
Grandma Judy
Second cousin Sophie
Jeannette, Second cousin once removed
The young ladies looked cute playing Badminton
Sam shows us how it is done
Jason struts his stuff
Sophie makes her move
Emily and Melissa steal the show
Friends Bob and Jeremy enjoying the day!

Thank you Jeremy and Steph for the great party. We had lots of fun and it is heart warming to see your beautiful daughter on her way to face the world. She is ready and will do well !

God bless you Thea as you venture into your collage years!

Then spring was over and we found ourselves into summer. We decided to go on a family camping trip. Soon Jason’s gang, Taylor’s girls and I head for Moss Creek Campground. Dennis and Taylor joined in during the days but didn’t stay over night. That story, however, will be for The Opening of Summer entry.