Sometimes Gary Mamola's hand pauses as he fills out forms for patients at Coeur d'Alene's free health clinic. For four years, his wife, Sandy, has run the all-volunteer clinic that offers medical care to people with no insurance or Medicaid.
Still, Gary sometimes is staggered by what he hears.
"Almost everyone I see works, a lot of them full-time in minimum-wage jobs," he says during a recent night at the clinic. "You just don't realize how many people have nothing."
Sniff, sniff. Could it be the scent of the freshly cut grass of a summer's day even in the dead of winter? Ah, visions of beach sand, bare feet, salmon sizzling on the barbecue ...
All from one little smell? You bet.
"I was always fascinated by aromas, but I thought it was a lot of hype what it could do for moods," says Jeri LaForce Sahlin as she sprays rose water into the air above her.
Kathy was 32, hooked on crack cocaine, jobless, deserted by her husband and about to lose her two boys when she met Nita Magnuson.
"I was nervous about her because I had to see her to keep my sons," Kathy says now, smiling at Nita. Kathy's not proud of most of her story, so she won't use her last name. But she likes the latest chapters.
She had hit Jim, her 12-year-old son, several times before downing enough drugs to put her in the hospital last May. Jay, her younger son, constantly ran away. Jim wanted to die.
Janna Kellas, 16, wanted her modest earnings to count for something more than a new teen magazine on her nightstand. So she gave her money to charity.
"I thought it'd be cool," says the Lake City High School junior, who donated $100 to United Way this fall. "And it makes me feel really good to know it's going to help someone."
It's no wonder my friends with out-of-state parents are envious. My parents live near me in Coeur d'Alene now and I have the peace of mind and heart I didn't have when they were out of reach.
I wanted them closer than California for years. They finally moved four months ago. Last week, my parents and I learned how right that move was.
The ambulance hadn't left my parents' driveway before a friend called me at work to tell me my dad was heading for the hospital. She lives across the street from them. I didn't know she knew those two friendly people are my parents.
Guess you must be feeling better now. The doctor said your cheeks are rosy ... and he said the color in your face is good, too! Get Well Soon - an American Greetings card
Not a deep sentiment, but just what Dr. Thomas Rau needed after his heart surgery.