Archive for the ‘Being Mindful’ Category

Is our sheltering condition morphing?

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Fireside Evenings — Perfect!

As we approach the first anniversary of “sheltering in place” (which for us is right here at home)… and now that we’ve had our two covid vaccinations… we are looking forward to getting out and about more.  Or at least that’s what we tell one another.

But the truth of the matter is that we haven’t suffered all that much by staying at home.  In fact, neither of us is much of a go-go sort.  I do enjoy certain sorts of gatherings — openings at the Heritage Museum or local galleries, Community Historian classes and outings and, of course, parties.  Otherwise — for shopping of any kind, I’d rather let my fingers do the walking and, once again, thank goodness for the internet.

Nyel, on the other hand loves to shop — but only in the old-fashioned sense of looking, looking, looking.  “For what?” I ask him.  “Nothing,” is the usual response.  Thank goodness.  Because the only places he “shops” are thrift stores, junk shops and, occasionally, salvage yards.  I try to bite my tongue.  What we don’t need is more junk.  Now I lament that those forays of his are pretty much past… now that he’s been confined to a wheelchair.  As in be careful what you wish for.

Best Place Ever For Relaxing and Visiting and Watching the Tides Change

What we’ve both missed most during this sheltering time is seeing our friends.  We’ve always done a lot of hosting right here at home.  It’s a house that is happiest when it is full of people or so it has always seemed to me.  My mother and her six siblings were raised here and continued coming back as adults and bringing their own families.  During my childhood, I associated “Granny and Papa’s House” with talk and laughter and people everywhere.  When it was our turn to move in, Nyel and I continued the full-house tradition — the best way we could.  By hosting parties and gatherings and house concerts.

So the sheltering hasn’t been all that difficult from a leaving-home-standpoint.  I wonder,  though, when it is finally unnecessary…  will we feel the need to leave home at all?  And if not, will we call our condition “agoraphobia? ”  I hope not.    “Homebodies” sounds better…

Catching Up With Reality

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

July 26, 2017

Last evening a friend called — a friend who lives not all that far away, but whom I’ve not seen or visited with since The Sheltering began.  It was good to talk with her.  But hard.  Lots of changes in her life that I wish I’d koown about, though there was nothing I could have done.

Among other things, we spoke about a couple of families who were deported by ICE a few years back — families I wrote about in my “Stories from the Heart” series for the Observer.  My friend has kept up with those families through occasional phone calls and she brought me up to date.  Especially she told me about “Maria” (as I called her in my story) and her three young children.

When I met them in the summer of 2017, Maria was working out on Willapa Bay, trying to save enough money to move with her three children.  Erin Glenn and I went calling — to see how we could help:
“…Dos años he said in answer to Erin’s ¿Cuántos años tienes?  Two years.  And he solemnly held up five fingers to prove his point.  Oscar is the middle child.  Curly-haired Alexa is ten months, and Joel, who was off playing with a friend, is ten and on summer vacation from Ocean Park School.  Their father, Miguel, has been gone for three months – deported to Mexico.”

From The Daily Astorian, December 10, 2018

“How are they doing?” I asked my friend.  “They’re having a very hard time,” came the answer.  “Miguel has planted pineapples but it takes a year for the crop to mature.  Meanwhile, he does odd jobs for a friend.  Maria and her sister-in-law cook during the week and sell their food at a roadside stand on the weekends.  Joel has a job, too, — digging graves.  He is 13 now.”

Digging graves.  At thirteen.  OMG.  I flashed on the regulation-sized volleyball court Miguel had built in their back yard here and how there was often a game going among adults and kids, as well.  I thought of how Joel had chosen to leave with his family rather than stay here with a friend, though the offer had been made.  I thought of Oscar, now truly as old as his fingers had told me…

Sometimes “catching up” isn’t all that great.  Sometimes “reality” sucks.

Works in Progress at Our Place

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

New Barn Doors for Woodshed Waiting for Final Painting

We have had our own little WPA (Works Progress Administration) happening here since the Sheltering began.  Nothing so grand as Timberline Lodge or Bonneville Dam or even the Ocean Park School.  (Yes, did you realize that we had several WPA projects right here on the Peninsula in the 1930s?)

Our projects are on a much smaller scale, but they’ve involved using stimulus money to jumpstart a few projects that we had been putting off.  For years.  Like a woodshed.  And a “patio area” outside our kitchen for tending to the potting and planting needs of herbs and salad greens (for instance.)  Some repair and spiffing up projects, too — a new roof for the toolshed and and a keep-out-of-the-mud area around the chicken coop.

Twenty-five Pavers Stacked at the Ready

To accomplish these outdoor projects we’ve had the help of our Garden Girls, our Painter Friend, our Jack-of-all-Trades Guy and, of course, the jump-start of the first stimulus monies.  It’s amazing what a lot of time and a little money can accomplish!  And that doesn’t even count what Nyel has been managing to patch and repair inside!  Or what good friends have helped with around the garden!  We’ve missed a lot this past year… but we’ve gained a great deal, too.  We are counting our blessings!

When the call came, I held my breath…

Friday, February 19th, 2021

A pleasant sounding young woman called from the Pacific County Health Department the other day…  I held my breath.  Did they need to cancel our second Covid-shot appointment?  Had they run out of vaccine?  Would we have to reschedule?  And how crucial is the timing for this second vaccine?  Were they going to need to switch us to another kind?

I think it was only Nano-seconds before she explained the reason for the call.  But it’s amazing how fast those synapses in your brain fire the alarm signals and pose the questions.  (Of course, Nyel says it’s just me — always looking at the empty half of things.  He’s probably right.)

The call was to ask us if we could come for our shots a half hour earlier.  Whew!  “Yes, of course,” I told her.  “We’ll be there.  No problem.”  We still need to drive to South Bend and back.  We still plan on packing a lunch.  And we’ll still be relieved when this is a done deal.

One step closer to the new normal.

Late Breaking News: Here comes the cavalry!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Screen Shot

I had so many responses to my blog about scheduling the Covid-19 vaccinations that my friend Cate Gable wrote yesterday afternoon:  “Forward to whoever missed the first round.”  And she sent this link for us to copy and paste into our browsers:
A breaking news alert from The Seattle Times. View in your browser.

As it turns out, the information was all over the news yesterday, but on the off-chance you haven’t heard yet, I am following her advice and posting the link, hoping that “whoever missed the first round” will see this.  At this point, you may know as much as Cate or I do.  If so, please do share.)

Hoping for Full Speed Ahead

The missing part, of course, is that we have no idea what comes next for us in Pacific County.  How will folks on the wait list be notified?  By email? When should people start calling the Pacific County Health Department???  Or will that be the system the next time around? I really have no idea.  All I can say is, “Watch your emails.  Listen to those robocalls on the off-chance there will be a clue.”

I wish you good luck.  I hope this bit of information doesn’t add to anyone’s stress.  That’s the last thing any of us needs right now!  And do let us know if you have additional information that will help!

Vaccination Report from The Old and Infirm

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Two arms from our household received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine yesterday in South Bend.  Neither of the arms is complaining and so far, neither of their attached people feels tired, vomitty, or in any way out of the ordinary.  WOOT!  WOOT!

We were extremely pleased to see that the Point of Delivery behind South Bend’s Fire Hall was beautifully organized with nurses and other volunteers ready to explain the procedure, handle the paper work, get the vaccine into arms, observe us during a fifteen-minute recovery period, and give us instructions for next steps.  A smooth operation from start to finish.  Highest of marks for the Pacific County Health Department!

On the other hand, Nyel and I spent a good deal of our homeward journey speculating about the total mess the scheduling has been.  Why was the scheduling so hard and the vaccine delivery process so easy?  Last night, in response to my spasmodic weekly report to our usual Friday Nighters, we heard the scheduling frustrations, as well as the “success stories,” of some of our friends.  It seems incredible, since we’ve known for months now that eventually the vaccine would be “ready,” that the scheduling could be such a mess.  Especially when contrasted to the actual delivery process!  Obviously our Health Department is up to the second task.  What happened in getting ready for it?

I hope that when all is said and done we’ll find out the whys.  Could “they” not have used census records to list every Pacific County resident by age and access us that way?  Or by address?  Or by both?  Surely with all the computer possibilities there could have been a way to sort contact information and get in touch with the residents of our small county?  But maybe not.

Meanwhile, we’ve been told that our county is out of vaccine for this go-round.  Does that mean that they’ve put aside the second doses for which  some of us have been scheduled?  Unclear.  Does it help to know that other areas are having just as much trouble as we are?  Not really.  We’re all in this together and the only way out is all of us together, as well.  We are holding positive thoughts.

A Yearful of Patches and Projects

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Re-roofing The Toolshed

It’s not news that we patch-patch-patch more frequently and rapidly as we advance in age.  And so it is with our belongings — our homes, our vehicles, our clothing.  Although in this day and age does anyone actually mend and darn any more?

As I look back on this year, I realize that we, along with many of our friends, have had more than the usual quota of projects going on around home. Some are of the repairing and renewing variety; some are of for-the-first-time-ever variety.  And why not?  It was the perfect year to pay attention to the home front, being here for most of the time as we were.

Tucker and The Apple Tree Stump

Most of our projects were of the outside variety.  And, given our aged and infirm status, most involved friends and worker bees.  We had the finials on our balcony re-made and replaced, the roof to our toolshed re-shingled, the west section of our picket fence re-painted, our unhealthy apple tree removed, and our rhododendrons to the west and east seriously pruned.

New Woodshed

New projects included replacing our old vegetable garden with lawn and the installation of a wheelchair-friendly back patio and walkway.  In addition, at long last, we had a new woodshed constructed.  It is now ready for a few cords of wood which will, no doubt involve another project of sorts.

Many of our friends have also been busy with projects this year — most far more glamorous than ours:  Mark and Elo, a kitchen remodel and new lighting in their dining room; Pam and Tom, a new garden shed; and so many more.  We hope that they, too, feel that sense of satisfaction knowing that they’ve “used their time wisely” (as I used to advise my 1st-2nd-3rd graders.)  When the time comes that we can kick up our heels again, we’ll be able to do so with wild and reckless abandon and feeling totally guilt free!


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.