Julie McDonald Commentary: Spring Bursts Forth With Flower Baskets From Fundraisers


Last weekend marked an annual rite of spring — the day I pick up colorful bowls filled with DeGoede Bulb farm flowers sold by local high school students as a fundraiser.

I had to scout around to find the $20 flower bowls this year. After I posted a question online, several people responded with names of parents organizing the flower bowl sales for W.F. West High School in Chehalis.

The flower bowls create wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day for mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Then, while browsing through Facebook Friday evening, I saw a notice that Olequa Senior Center was holding its annual Mother’s Day flower basket sale in its parking lot to raise money.

You can never have too many flower baskets, so I ordered another one.

On Saturday morning, I picked up a hanging fuchsia plant from the senior center in Winlock and then drove north to W.F. West, where I filled my trunk with pots of flowers.

It’s a win-win when you can buy flowers and help others — whether young or old.

Don’t worry; it’s not too late.

Joanne Cobbs said the Olequa Senior Center sold two-thirds of its baskets, and the remaining plants will be sold Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until they’re gone. The cost is $30 each.

“We consider it very successful considering it’s just been word of mouth and Facebook,” she said. “We miss our seniors so much, and we’re looking forward to opening the center again someday.”

The Master Gardener Foundation of Lewis County’s Plant Sale will take place later this month — May 22 and 23 — in the Blue Pavilion of the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds. Thousands of plants grown by local master gardeners will be sold, including more than a thousand tomato plants, annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. For information, check out the website at https://lewis-mg-mrc.org.


Jackson Estate

Last week, I received a lovely letter from Linda Eller of Chehalis, who has lived near the historic Jackson House for more than five decades. She asked about the property lines of Jackson’s estate.

When I researched the history of John and Matilda Jackson, I tried to find a map of their old homestead. I checked with Lewis County officials as well as the Washington State Archives, but nobody had a map showing the boundaries of the Jackson estate, which grew from the initial 640-acre homestead to more than 2,200 acres.

I wanted the map to see where Jackson, who crossed the Oregon Trail in 1844, built his first home in April 1845, a one-room log cabin on elevated property about nine miles up the Cowlitz Trail from Cowlitz Landing. He dubbed his home Highland Farm. In May 1848, he married a widow with four sons, Matilda (Glover) Koontz, and brought her to Highland Farm.

Two years later, in the fall of 1850, he and his stepsons — along with Matilda’s nephew Joe Glover and his relative Joseph Manning — began building a new log cabin north of their initial home. A week after completion of the 16- by 26-foot cabin, Judge William Strong convened Federal District Court there Nov. 12, 1850.

If anyone has a map of the old Jackson estate, I would love to see it — and so would Linda Eller.


A Tale of Two WinCos

When I read that Cowlitz County had been rolled back to Phase 2, I can’t say I was surprised.

In the midst of a busy holiday season in December, I drove to Longview to shop for groceries with my son, who had traveled home from Finland. We wanted to try new recipes for the Instant Pot, so we shopped for ingredients in a crowded grocery store.

Coronavirus numbers surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we quickened our pace in the packed store as we discovered in nearly every aisle people — primarily men — shopping without masks. My son had quarantined a week before seeing us, and he needed to quarantine again in Helsinki before returning to his apartment, so the last thing he needed was exposure to the virus.

A week later, after he’d returned to Finland, I drove to Olympia for a doctor’s appointment and stopped at WinCo on Martin Way afterward. A little leery after our Longview experience, I wiped down the cart and pushed it down the aisles. Everyone I saw inside the store wore a mask.

Pandemic fatigue has hit hard. Nobody wants to wear masks any longer, especially those who have been vaccinated. At a softball game in La Center Saturday, only a few spectators wore masks. They were outside, so it was much safer than inside a crowded store.

The state is experiencing its fourth surge in coronavirus cases, and I only hope enough people receive the vaccines so we can move past this pandemic and relegate it to the annals of history. And I hope Lewis County never needs to roll back to Phase 2 again.


The Conservative Alternative

Fed up with cancel culture and lining the pockets of people who advocated opinions he didn’t like, my friend and writing critique partner Kyle Pratt last weekend launched The Conservative Alternative to Everything (https://www.altconservative.com/), a website where he blogs to show people where they can find movies, television shows, news and businesses more closely aligned with conservative Christian values.

For example, he pointed to VidAngel, a service that provides filters so viewers can skip or mute unacceptable words and actions in movies or television shows. Rather than using Google or Safari, which track and report internet browsing, he recommended the Firefox and Brave search engines. DryBar Comedy, created in 2017, offers clean standup comedy routines.


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.