Category Archives: Sandpoint

Put It in Your Heart

I have a theory that the place that feels like home is where you were in fourth grade. Maybe you’ve lived there all your life, or maybe you just spent a year or two there, but in fourth grade you learned about your state and its history before going on to study the wider world as you moved on through the upper grades. Continue reading

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Posted on by Cate Huisman / Leave a comment

Stage Fright at the Follies

The first time I read one of my own poems in front of a live audience, my cheeks burned bright red, my eyes filled with tears, and I thought I would need an oxygen tank to breathe.

Needless to say, the experience overwhelmed me, and for three years I refused to stand in front of a microphone. My daughter, DaNae Aguirre, and my mom, Rhoda Sanford, continued to inspire and encourage me. They had this show-woman thing down. They didn’t need oxygen tanks.

Eventually, I returned to college and majored in communications, where I was required to give numerous speeches in front of live audiences. Picturing them naked didn’t ease my unease, but I practiced hard, and the added incentive of making a good grade helped me stop crying every time I stepped in front of a crowd. Continue reading

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Posted on by Desiré Aguirre / Leave a comment

The Chorale Sings Beethoven

It is a warm, bright September evening, the kind that gives no hint of the cold and dark that will inevitably come. Sweaterless, I toss my notebook and pencils—I can’t sing without a pencil—into my bike basket and pedal off to an autumn ritual: the first practice of the Pend Oreille Chorale as it prepares for its Christmas performances.

As I park my bike under the eaves of the church where we practice, I see Caren through the window adjusting the pillows and books that will put her at just the right height to accompany us on the piano. Beyond, I see her husband Mark in his usual well-worn jeans and work shirt, riffling through the score on the conductor’s stand.

Rehearsal begins with reunion. I greet my fellow tenors, the altos who sing the notes I once could, the sopranos whose ranges I haven’t had since grade school. I hear about Gloria’s new grandchild, and Jackie’s new job at the hospital, and ask Ed if he’s in shape for the ski season. I’m pleased to see that Charlie’s back; as one of a few who have been in the group since it first performed twenty years ago (when he was but a youth of seventy-four), he helps maintain its institutional memory and culture.

None of us would be here were it not for the distinctive devotion of Mark and Caren Reiner. They are, as Charlie says, “unimaginably caring mentors.” When they arrived in Sandpoint in 1992, they noticed that the community lacked a chorale and orchestra, and saw they might be able to do something about these omissions. It would be their contribution to the health and well-being of their new community. Continue reading

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Posted on by Cate Huisman / Leave a comment

Something about the Banjo

There’s something about the banjo that reaches out and grabs me. Bagpipes always make me cry, but the banjo slashes away all doom and gloom, dries teardrops, and paints a smile on my face.

The banjo, a simple, old-time instrument with a percussion head and a unique sound, forces my toes to tap and my laugh to erupt.

A newcomer to the art of performing music, I am blessed to have an assortment of role models that encourage, delight, and mentor my fledgling attempts. Scott Reid, a professional musician and Sandpoint icon, always treats me as if I were, well, a real musician. Best of all, his banjo playing inspires me to keep on practicing.

Scott performs with style and grace, breathing life into whatever instrument he has in hand, and layering it with smooth vocals that welcome and delight. His style weaves the genres of country, rock, and folk into a delicate tapestry. Scott can play “Stairway to Heaven” and Jimi Hendrix on the banjo, or perform old-timey frailing style, using the back of the nail on his middle finger as a pick, and mix that up with some Gypsy fiddle, heartfelt blues guitar, and songs he has written about robbing trains and Idaho winters. The banjo is his favorite instrument. “The banjo taught me everything I know about the guitar,” he told me. Continue reading

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Posted on by Desiré Aguirre / Leave a comment

Take the Pend Orielle Plunge

August 10th, 2003, dawned clear and beautiful, promising to be yet another of the many memorable days of that summer when the mercury inched into the nineties or beyond. From my supreme vantage point atop Sandpoint’s picturesque Long Bridge, I could feel the restless excitement of the swimmers on the beach below as we all awaited the beginning of the ninth annual Long Bridge Swim. Soon came the deep bellow of the air horn and over three hundred eager bodies surged into the chilly, but pristine, waters of Lake Pend Oreille. Not just another race, the event has become the Northwest’s premier open water swimming event, attracting participants from all over the western United States.

What makes this 1.7 mile swim so special? Several things. First and foremost is the attraction of Sandpoint itself. Long famous for its lakes, mountains and rivers, this little town of seven thousand also has established itself in the fields of music, art, and culture. But what really makes the Long Bridge Swim unique is the Long Bridge itself—actually two bridges side by side, one for traffic and one a pedestrian/bike path—which offers unsurpassed spectator viewing. After all, how many open water swimming events are there where you can stroll along with the swimmers every step of the way? And what a stroll it is.

Bridges have been a part of Sandpoint’s history for over 120 years, since the Northern Pacific Railroad built the first railroad bridge in 1882, connecting the area to the East and establishing Sandpoint as a bustling mining and timber town. And while mining and timber no longer claim as big a piece of the economic pie, there are still plenty of bridges. In fact, no matter from which direction you approach Sandpoint, you have to cross a bridge.

Anyone who enters Sandpoint from the south on Highway 95 will cross Lake Pend Oreille on the Long Bridge. The view alone has convinced many individuals to make this beautiful North Idaho community their home. And no wonder, with the lake’s clean waters beneath you and the jagged Cabinet Mountains rising against the sky to the east, it’s a view not quickly forgotten. To the north and west, rising sharply behind the town, is the Selkirk Mountain range with backcountry wilderness stretching some sixty miles to the Canadian border. Continue reading

Posted on by Dianna Doisi-Winget / Leave a comment