Archive for the ‘Being Mindful’ Category

And the winner is…

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving, November 26, 2020

If I were the deciding judge in a world-wide contest for  best “Holiday Gatherings During Covid” poster, I’d choose the 2020 Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving photograph!  It arrived in my mailbox last night and I truly wish I knew if such a competition exists.  I think it would win hands down!

Our own photograph of Thanksgiving Scaled Down pales by comparison.  Besides which, even for a fabulous dinner for two, the chef here labored all afternoon in the kitchen and left ‘nary pot nor pan unused.  In fact, my first thought when I saw the Wachsmuth celebration photo was, “Lucky Carol!”  Even counting many willing hands to make light work, a virtual dinner for 17 is less work for everyone, both before and after.

I am assuming, of course, that the heavy lifting for their virtual dinner this year was done by  Tucker.  Not only is he an artist by training, but what I think of as his main body of work — A Christmas Card for each of the 50 years he and Carol have been married — has everything to do with family.  And I see by the recipients listed on the email for this Thanksgiving greeting, it had everything to do with family, as well.

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Besides that, the few times we’ve seen our Wachsmuth neighbors from afar in the last few weeks, the answer to  “What have you been up to these days?” has been a vague, “Oh you know… just puttering.”  “Some puttering!” we say!  Perhaps later Nyel can repeat his reaction when he saw the photograph, “This is amazing!  I wonder how much time it took him?”   And maybe Tucker will tell us.

But, maybe not.  You never can tell with artists!


In Honor of the Day

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

This year, our only turkey is this painting by a long-ago second grader.

Nyel and I have decided to make this Thanksgiving as memorable as we can and for all the right reasons.  We woke up recounting our blessings which began, of course, with family and friends — so many people who have been uncommonly good to us during this strangest of years.  How we wish we could exchange real hugs for this season’s virtual ones!

We’ve decided to pull out all the stops for our celebratory dinner.  My great-grandmother’s serving dishes, my grandmother’s china and crystal, my own silver place settings will adorn our table.  The  meal will feature a roast chicken (not one of ours!), garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and shrimp laden avocado halves all topped off by a dessert of Pear Kuchen from a recipe by Mary Funk.  We are even “dressing” for the occasion — Nyel in white shirt and vest and me in something other than jeans and a sweatshirt — a closet search is the order of the morning.

My Grandparents’ Golden Wedding Dinner, Thanksgiving Day 1947, Moby Dick Hotel

Nyel is recording the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Dog Show which we’ll watch this afternoon accompanied by guacamole and chips and an iced beverage or two.  (Watching television before nightfall is the height of decadence for me.  For Nyel, not so much, but together it will feel celebratory, indeed!)

And this evening, a “conference call” with Marta and Charlie.  It will put a cap on what we hope will be an “almost normal” Thanksgiving during this strangest of times — hopefully a day of peace, safety, and good health for us and for all our friends and loved ones.  And, most of all, a prayer for better days ahead.

Two Thumbs Up to OBSD!

Friday, November 20th, 2020

As of Monday, the Ocean Beach School District will return to remote-only learning due to the current (and worst yet) Pacific County surge in the coronavirus pandemic.  As a retired teacher and long-time community member, I say “Bravo!”

According to the Chinook Observer, the county’s case rate works out to 438 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average which puts us in a high risk group.  There were 55 new cases in the county during last week’s reporting period making 246 cases since the pandemic began.  “A staggering number” according to day-before-yesterday’s online article.

I know I will not be popular when I say, “Why am I not surprised?”  Yesterday, Nyel and I drove to Astoria and back for an 11:00 a.m. doctor’s appointment.  Going over and coming back, we both remarked at how much traffic there was.  “You’d never know there was any kind of sheltering going on,” we each said more than once.  It seemed to be business as usual in downtown Long Beach and Astoria.

I have a great deal of trouble understanding how  “we” continue to try to balance “normal” activities with precautionary measures for the coronavirus.  Which part of LIFE CAN NO LONGER BE NORMAL  is it that people cannot understand?  How can we be so concerned about the emotional distress of our children and the economic distress of our families that we are willing to put our loved ones at risk?  Or even provide their death sentence?  I don’t get it.

We are not alone, of course.  Leaders throughout the world are struggling with the same situation and their responses are equally mixed.  We all seem to be in a pattern of tightening up for a while but relaxing before the economic situation becomes dire and, of course, before we have the virus under control.  God forbid we should close our borders to non-residents or close every single business that is non-essential.  We seem able to endure “some” restrictions for about a month at a time.  Alas, not long enough to made a continuing difference.

The OBSD plan is to reopen January 11th.  Good for them for taking this step!  I hope it’s just a first step.  And, how I wish that the rest of the County could follow — both in the private and public sectors.




A Whole New Meaning for PC

Monday, November 9th, 2020

In recent days “PC” has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.  Not your Personal Computer.  Not Politically Correct.  Not Police Constable or Probable Cause.  No.  It’s PANDEMIC COMPLACENCY.

As I look at the reports of new Covid-19 cases world-wide,  in the United States, in Washington State, and in Pacific County, and see what is being done about it, I think we are now well established in the PC zone.

What is wrong with us?  While European countries are taking extreme measures — like France’s total lock-down, Spain’s border closures, the Czech Republic’s closures of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places, our country has no overall mandate and little enforcement.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continues its spread across the world and has now passed 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths.  The United States is leading the pack…  and not in a good way.  According to the BBC World News, as of four hours ago today (November 9, 2020) the U.S. has had the most Covid deaths (236,591) and the highest number of total cases (9,893,685) in the world.

Right here in Pacific County, we are at an all-time high of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases — 28 as of November 6th bringing the County total to 155 cases since the beginning of the Pandemic.  Yet, as far as I can determine, life goes on pretty much as usual.  Most kids are in school, most businesses are open, the tourists continue to arrive in large numbers, and we are free to come and go as we please.

Too, it seems obvious to me that the public is half-hearted in following “suggested” health measures.  How else to explain the numbers?  And where is our leadership? The Public Health Officials continue with the same old, same old — wear masks, socially distance, wash your hands, stay home if you can.  We haven’t heard lately from Governor Inslee.  Pandemic Complacency seems to be the name of the game.

P.S.  Just after I posted this blog, President-Elect Biden spoke to the nation about his new task force on Covid-19 and the work he is already doing in preparation for immediate action once he has been inaugurated. YAY!  Finally after four miserable flailing-around years,  there will be a Leader in the White House!!



Comfort Food and Naps

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Like everyone else of a certain age, I’ve experienced my share of stress — more than half of the ten “most stressful life events” according to the Holmes And Rahe Stress Scale.  But I don’t think I’ve ever experienced “group stress” on such a grand scale as the last few days.

It’s not among any activities I would ever recommend to anyone I care for.  And yet, almost everyone I know — whether friends, acquaintances, or “others” — were undoubtedly going through the same thing.  As in… no one to turn to if companionship was a possible answer to the situation.  Besides… there is Covid.  And it’s rainy and gloomy.

Tuesday night, we looked and listened and the disbelief settled in.  Yesterday, we checked with the latest news reports and both began to exhibit physical symptoms.  Nyel just plain “didn’t feel good” and slept in his wheelchair most of the day.  My left hip decided to act up and I truly worried that it was an early warning signal for a hip replacement.  I slept the afternoon away and felt a little better.  We bagged our usual healthy meal regime and resorted to comfort snacks.

Meanwhile, we did what millions of our countrymen and dozens of our  friends were probably doing — reviewed the last four years, thought about the mainstream media, wondered what the hell was wrong with the pollsters, and tried to come to grips (again!!) with what our country has come to.  I felt like I was giving up hope; realizing that perhaps hope does not spring eternal.  And trying, once again, to empathize with all of those, world-wide, who are so much worse off.  Not helpful.

Today doesn’t look to be much better.  Presumably, at ten o’clock this morning we’ll know more about Nevada… And I keep thinking that “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  Somehow, this too shall pass — but when?  Will I still be here to witness it?

Bring on the mac’n’cheese!

Doom, Gloom, and the Zoom Boom

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Well, there is just no way around it.  Zoom has become a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not.  Like almost everyone we know, we’ve attended zoom meetings, zoom reunions, zoom celebrations and zoom chats with our loved ones.  We are soon to embark on a zoom Reader’s Theater endeavor with Kuzzin Kris, her Brother Bruce, and several other Kuzzins that we only know of but have yet to meet.  Zoom activities seem destined to chase away the doom and gloom of the Sheltering Winter ahead.

But the very best Zoom application that we’ve been involved in are the Virtual Checkups that Nyel has had with his cardiologist who happens to be in Seattle.  Since I’m the designated driver and a round-trip to Seattle has become increasingly difficult over the years, I am jumping up and down with joy over this innovative appointment alternative, you betcha!  Especially since, in my bladder-weakend-old-age, getting to Seattle and back requires AT LEAST four pit stops and I have absolutely no desire to face the public restrooms between here and there.  Not until the Covid Threat is over or a Failsafe Vaccine becomes available here in the Outlying Areas.

However, there is one upsetting corollary (which is probably not the correct word choice here) to the entire Seattle zooming experience.  Our pre-pandemic routine (and for years before Nyel was cardio-doctor-dependent) was to coordinate ALL Seattle visits with a trip to my hair stylist, Elizabeth.  She kept me trimmed and trendy for twenty-five years but… alas!  I don’t think she has yet mastered haircutting via Zoom.

It’s bound to happen eventually!  If kids can go to virtual classes and doctors can evaluate their patients by Zoom, there surely can be no limits to its usefulness.  There is bound to come a time when the haircutter can just reach on through your computer and fix you right up!

I just read that Zoom has added 2.2 million MONTHLY active users in 2020, while in ALL of 2019, it added only 1.99 million users.   So it’s only a matter of time doncha think?  We all should have bought stock in the company back in the early oughts.  Maybe it’s not too late to invest my haircut money in Zoom stock against the day when Elizabeth and I can do business once more.  Virtually!


The Zoom Boom: Reluctant Acceptance

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Why I don’t like zoom.

Like it or not (mostly not), we are zooming more frequently these days.  We’ve been to zoom birthday parties and reunions, to zoom meetings and zoom family get-togethers.  Now my Kuzzin Kris is proposing “Readers Theater by Zoom.”

Apparently it’s a new hot idea and leave it to Kris to be on the cutting edge!  In a meeting (by zoom, of course) with Nyel and me and her brother, Bruce, Kris proposed that we explore the possibilities.  She says that her son, Todd (who is an actor), will assist.  I’m not quite sure what that means but the four of us left our zoom recent zoom conversation with an “assignment” — to suggest possible plays.

There are a gazillion! At least.

As I thought about what sort of play might be palatable to these two reluctant Oysterville participants, I thought maybe getting started with a one-act — probably a  humorous one-act — might be okay.  So I went online to see what I could find.  OMG!  Readers theater on zoom is HUGE.  Everything from “Distance Learning with Readers Theater Scripts” and “Free Comedy One Act Plays” to “One-Act Plays Written for Zoom” are clotting up the internet.

Up Close & Personal During The Sheltering Time

I dove right in and selected a few titles to try.  But, truth to tell, I’d rather have Todd advise and select.  As his Uncle Bruce says, “Then we can blame Todd.”  I’m not quite sure what we’d be blaming anyone for, but maybe Bruce has an inside track.  Bruce has never steered us wrong before, so we are now in the waiting mode.  Stay tuned.

Everyone is weighing in…

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

“Wish Upon A Star” from Alan Greiner

Worldwide, at least among our loved ones, the topic is our November 3rd election.  Cousin Eva wrote yesterday from Austria.  This morning we heard from Alan Greiner in Switzerland.  We loved their good wishes.  Not that we need their reminders to vote.  We just like the reassurance that so many thoughts are are focused on the outcome of the upcoming date — perhaps the most important date of the century and not just to us here in te United States.  Perhaps a seminal date for all of mankind.

On October 14, 2020

Our ballots arrived in our post office box on Tuesday and yesterday we marked and “mailed” them.  We chose to deliver them to the new Official Ballot Drop Box at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach.  It was a dedicated outing and Nyel snapped my picture as I slipped the ballot envelopes into the slot.  We kept copies of the USPS tracking numbers just in case…

Alan’s morning message said, “Wish upon a star!  Vote!”  Our response:  “Done and done!”

We realize, of course, that it’s all a hoax…

Saturday, October 3rd, 2020

Ready For An Outing

The news of Covid-19 running rampant in the unmasked White House is not nearly as interesting (in my opinion) as the reaction to the reports by those from every possible political (and non-political) stripe — U.S. citizens, foreign governments, and probably even the folks in space.  (Has anyone heard commentary from the International Space Station yet?)

The fascinating part, to me anyway, is how predicatable people’s responses are.  From Trump’s supporters who are saying he was infected by the Chinese or even that he is lying about testing positive… to his political rivals who are “not surprised” but wish him well.  All of it could have been scripted last March.  Maybe it was.

My own knee-jerk reaction is to mimic the pandemic nay-sayers and the President, himself by just blowing it all off with “It’s a hoax” and hoping people get the irony.  Mostly, though, my plan is to let the story unfold and check in with the news in the evening, as usual.  I can’t think that any actions or reactions  on our part will make any difference to the current “crisis” in the long run.  Or the short run.

Sydney’s Public Face

We continue to shelter, wear our masks when it’s necessary to be in public, wash our hands, and stay socially distanced.  We hope everyone else does the same.  And we wish the scientists bonne chance in perfecting a vaccine sooner rather than later.

Time and Tide…

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Sydney c. 1944

When I was growing up, there were only two sacrosanct rules:  obey the person in charge and be mindful of the tide.  The first edict applied everywhere; the second, only to my summers on Willapa Bay and/or when at the beach.  Those words to live by came into conflict only once and it was not a pretty picture.

It was 1946.  I was a scrawny ten-year-old and was spending my fifth summer at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa.  Although my grandparents were in nearby Oysterville, I visited them only on occasional weekends and between camp sessions in deference to my grandmother’s frail health and, more importantly, because she was blind.

On the occasion of my transgression, our camp “unit” — about seven or eight girls of 10 or 11 and a college-age counseler — had gone up to Leadbetter Point for an overnight campout.   Miss Elliott had dropped us off in the morning and had then returned with our sleeping bags, knapsacks and food supplies.  By lunchtime we were “on our own at the end of the known world” as we told each other with shivery delight.

Typical Transport with Miss Elliott

After lunch, the counselor said we were going over to Grassy Island which, in those days, was still separated from the mainland by a fairly wide channel of water.   At low tide, however, it was but a stretch of wet sand, quickly transversed and, since the tide was out, our trek was an easy one.  I can’t really remember what we did over there but I do remember keeping an eye on the water.  When the rivulets began to trickle into our homeward path, I said something to the counseler about it being time to go back.  Cheeky me!

I don’t remember her response — only that I soon was concerned enough to leave the group and head back to our campsite on my own.  By the time the rest joined me, they had had to wade in water up to their waists and I remember that they tried to dry thier clothes by standing as near to the campfire as they could.  I, of course, was grounded for the rest of the trip.  No dinner.  No campfire singsong.  A cool reception at breakfast the next day and, when we finally returnned to camp, I was confined to quarters for the rest of that day as well.

Not far from our campsite.

I do remember feeling that I was being unjustly punished and, in my weekly letter home to my folks in California, I recounted the experience (apparently in lurid detail.)  What I didn’t learn until I was a young mother myself, was that my mother wasted no time in calling Miss Elliott and giving her a piece of her mind.

According to my Aunt Mona (who was the one who told me “the rest of the story”), Mom said something like, “How dare you let a counselor, who has had no experience with our bay at all, take charge of a group of children on an overnight trip such as that!  And how dare you discipline Sydney who was absolutely right with her suggestion to go back to the mainland?  She’s been on the bay every summer of her life and knew exactly what she was talking about!”

I don’t think I ever did talk about that incident with my mom or with Dorothy Elliott, either, for that matter.  But I do think that my inclination to question authority figures probably stems from that long-ago visit to Grassy Island.