Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

What’s in a name?

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Jay and Helper – 2018

It was at one of those “Oysterville Meetings” — you know, the ones that happen spontaneously and very often in the street — that the name of our 150th birthday bash for the house arrived.  Neighbor Tucker, house painter Jay, and I were talking about party plans.  Jay (whose last name is Short, though he is six-foot-a-hundred-and-something) is in the process of painting the east side of our house. It’s the final side over the last four years and I am, of course, eager that it be completed “in time.”

“It will be done in plenty of time for your Grand Affair,” Jay assured me.  Tucker and I laughed at that but Jay said, “that’s how I think of your party in my mind.”  And he went on to tell about a book that he had picked up at Powell’s years ago — a kid’s book that he read over and over again to his children when they were young.  “It’s a sort of a mystery.  The clues are in the pictures,” he said.  “It was called A Grand Affair or something like that.  You probably read it to your school kids,” Jay said.

By Graeme Base

The next day, he arrived with the book in hand.  The Eleventh Hour was its actual name, and the minute I saw the cover I remembered it perfectly!  “It was the mouse!  The culprit was the mouse!”  It’s a Graeme Base book — one of my all-time favorite children’s illustrators.  I sat down almost immediately and re-visited it cover to cover.

And… even though the title wasn’t quite as Jay remembered, he wasn’t far off at all.  On the first paragraph of the second page:
Now Horace was a clever lad; he planned his day with care,
Ensuring that his party would be quite a Grand Affair.

There it was!  The name that we hope will perfectly describe our grand old lady’s birthday celebration.  “Our Grand Affair!”  Thanks to Jay and hats off to yet another successful Oysterville Meeting!

Chickens, Tsunamis, and The Water Stash

Monday, August 12th, 2019

All In A Row

“What are all those bottles of water lined up by your back door?” our friend Mark asked one Friday night.  “Well…” I responded, “they began as Tsunami Preparation but have segued into Chicken Supplies.”  He nodded as if that made sense, and maybe it does.  Or not.  Definitely one of those it-is-what-it-is things.

There was a time when Nyel took the whole tsunami preparedness schtick very seriously.  He refitted his old backpack with an upgraded first aid kit, bought a backpack for me to replace the one I’d given to Goodwill thirty or forty years ago, and began stockpiling emergency supplies.  Well…  supplies of water.  He rinsed out used tonic water bottles and carefully filled them with refreshing Oysterville water, dating each bottle as it was placed on the pantry shelves.  Periodically, he would refresh and redate.  But mostly, there they sat.

Judging by the dates, he began the Tsunami Preparedness Program in 2001. It petered out in 2015 which was the year Nyel’s left leg was encased in a plaster cast from groin to ankle and he spent three months in a hospital bed.  One of my “other duties as assigned” (in addition to my Nurse Ratched responsibilities) was to take care of the chickens.

Pantry Shelves

Lugging food down to the coop wasn’t hard, but carrying buckets of water was.  So… I began taking and using those tsunami bottles.  As in, who wouldn’t?  That was in 2015…  and the beat goes on.  Today I refilled the empties (though I didn’t date them) and put some back on the pantry shelves — mostly to get them out of the way.

It’s not that I’ve given up on the tsunami — it’s just that the reality these days is, with Nyel’s bum leg it takes us the full twenty minutes just to get out of the house.  Never mind the provisions.  And, when you are in Oysterville, where to go in that time allotment is actually the first big question.  We have resolved that IF we can make it into the car in time, we’ll head for the highest nearby spot — the Oysterville Cemetery — and hug a tree.  If that doesn’t do it… well, we’ll end up where we hope to be eventually, anyway.

As for the water… any surviving chickens will be more than welcome to it.  (I wonder if I should be helping them with their bottle-opening skills.)

 

The Best Party on the Peninsula!

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

From the July 11th issue of “Coast Weekend”

I just love the Music in the Gardens Tour!  Yesterday was the “13th Annual” and it seemed to me that the entire Peninsula, from Stackpole to Sahalee, was in full party mode!  The sun was out!  The music was wafting!  The flowers were blooming!  There were goodies to eat!  And everybody but everybody was out in force!

I went with neighbor Carol Wachsmuth and we managed to visit all seven gardens and take time out for lunch, as well.  Despite stopping at every turn to greet and hug old friends, we had plenty of time to see the unusual and unique features of each garden.  The one thing I didn’t have time to do was take pictures, but images of  color, shape, texture, and most of all of perfection(!) will be in my mind’s eye for weeks to come.

“Sea Strings” – Bill and Janet Clark

At the Norcross-Renner’s  we lingered by the stunning heather bed and the beautifully but lightly “managed” woods between house and bay.  At the Pollock/Stevens garden in Ocean Park, we were impressed by the perfect plantings in the undulating free-form beds and the views of all of it from the deck above.  At Dawna and Terry Hart’s — shiny bits of glass in all the unexpected places and, of course, the “cat condo” where we stopped for a bit, hoping to meet its resident… but no such luck.

At Diane and Fred Marshall’s it was the view, the view, the view!  The weather cooperated fully and we could see to Saddle Mountain and back again where we stood surrounded by garden beds in perfect order — not a weed or a errant leaf in sight!  At Dave and Linda King’s we enjoyed each one of the eleven “patios” and admired all the tiny details of the Fairy Garden for a long time.  (Will Carol try something similar in the woods adjacent to her place?  Her grandchildren would be enchanted!)

We approached the end of our day with a mind-boggling walk around Deb Howard’s “Willapa Bay Heritage Farm.”  Both of us loved seeing all the varieties of chickens (Carol is our chief “chicken sitter” when we are out of town) but were curious as to their silence.  Farmer Nyel’s girls cluck and clatter constantly — to us and to each other — but Deb’s ladies made not a peep.  Nor did the  two pygmy goats which one of the worker-bees said were “borrowed” for the day, though there will eventually be resident goats.  As for the vegetables and fruits and herbs and flowers… we were told that there will eventually be a retail produce stand on the property.  Stay tuned.

The most serene and rejuvenating garden we saved for last.  Steve McCormick and John Stephens’ “Bayside Garden” felt like a welcome retreat from the day’s bustle.  Though it was late in the afternoon, many people still strolled along the shady paths among rhododendrons and stately trees on this elegant property.  Sitting with the owners on their deck overlooking the bay was the perfect ending to the best party on the Peninsula!  Thank you homeowners, gardeners and Water Music Society — once again you have outdone yourselves!

 

Happenings in the ‘Hood

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Dell’s House?

The first thing I noticed as I drove into town the other day was a neat and tidy looking tent in front of Tucker’s boathouse.  I was immediately bombarded by two thoughts — first that Dell had finally moved in for good and second, that Tucker’s collecting had seriously overflowed. In my heart of hearts, though, I knew the truth… that the sheetrocking of his new Pinball Arcade is about to happen.

Meanwhile… I sorta like the Dell fantasy.  Dell is a long-time friend of Tucker’s who lives in Oregon and comes visiting now and then.  Almost always there is a project going on at the Wachsmuth house and Dell is a willing and very helpful volunteer — especially if it involves electricity which is his area of expertise.

Hampson House, June 11, 2019

I think it was in May that Dell was here for a full week helping with the wiring of the aforementioned arcade.  I remember that he went home on a Saturday because, he told me:  “I promised my wife I’d be home for Mother’s Day.”  But… soon afterwards, Dell was back again “to finish the job!”  What a guy!

In reality (and as I suspected) the tent is being used as extra storage while the sheetrocking happens.  Tucker gave me a peek under the tent flap.  Wow!  Chock-a-block full!  But, even more amazing was that Tucker already had the tent.  In fact, has two of them and their acquisition is yet another Tucker story… Ask him sometime.

The other change in the neighborhood was the progress on the Hampson House.  If you can call disappearing parts “progress.”  The upstairs is now just a memory except for a few two-by-fours here and there.  I imagine that they will be incorporated into the remodel somehow.  It’s been quiet over there — no worker bees for several days.  Perhaps it’s the misty-moisty weather that has called a temporary halt to things.  Or perhaps they are waiting for a delivery of materials.  I’m sure the goings on (or not) will be the subject of speculation throughout the summer.

Ready for Summer!

At our house, all is as it has been except for the addition of four inviting new lawn chairs — fake Adirondacks in bright colored plastic.  They do cheer me up and I hope the summer will be such that they will see a lot of use.  Nyel has informed me that, once he gets home and weather permitting, he intends to spend a good deal of wheelchair time in the garden in the next few months!  So, now that we have seating for visitors, hope y’all can come and set a spell!

Surprises Sunday at Summer Salsa II

Friday, May 31st, 2019

There are big surprises in store for us Sunday at the Shelburne Inn in Seaview!  It’s the second annual Summer Salsa  Benefit for Our Immigrant Families Impacted by ICE.  There will be food (a taco bar!), music (by favorite locals!), a silent auction (treasures and trips), and works on display by featured artist Luisa Mack.   And the piece de resistance?? I have it on good authority that a video interview with a father who is at the Tacoma Detention Center will be shown during the afternoon.

Do you have your tickets?  Only $15 each!  They are available at the Ocean Park, Long Beach, Ilwaco, South Bend and Raymond Pharmacies and also at Pioneer Grocery in South Bend.   I’m hoping against hope that they’ll also be available at the door!  (It’s been hinted that Nyel will be outta here tomorrow so maybe — just maybe  — I can join everyone at the Shelburne festivities!  Woot!  Woot!)

From 2:00 to 5:00 local musicians including The Oyster Crackers, Brian O’Connor, and Barbara Bate will entertain and German-trained artist Luisa Mack  (who works in silver and has recently opened a shop at the Port of Ilwaco) will display some of her designs.  All proceeds from the event go toward helping Pacific County families who have been impacted by ICE and current immigration enforcement practicies.

Although the timing is not certain, Pacific County Immigrant Support personnel have been notified that  a father has been given the okay to speak at the fundraiser via video hookup from the Tacoma Detention Center.  Says spokesperson Sandy Nielson, “What this family has been through would crumble most as they are fighting a situation not only with ICE but with their local police prejudice.  Pacific County Immigrant Support has been working with other organizations and individuals to retain a lawyer for them at an initial cost of $5,000. Summer Salsa has been a major fundraiser for these efforts, and we thank them so much for what they are doing to support our work with their energy and talents.”

See you there!

 

 

 

 

Home for A Day and Back Again

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Cousins

Days 29 & 30 —  Yesterday I left at dawn’s crack and had the road to Oysterville almost entirely to myself. Not so much mid-afternoon when I returned to St. Vincent’s — the Memorial Day traffic had, by then, clotted up the highway in both directions, but still, my round trip was without incident.

I arrived home in plenty of time for our Annual Oysterville Restoration Foundation meeting which, this year, proceeded in an orderly fashion thanks, in part, to the presence of a deputy Sheriff who had been hired to “keep the peace.”  It’s sad that things have come to that in “quiet” little Oysterville. But as ORF president David Williams noted during the course of the meeting, when some members attempt to “do business” through threats from attorneys rather than through civil and neighborly discussion, it is necessary to take appropriate measures.

I wish our new-neighbors-to-the-north had been there.  During my absence, a long construction-style chain link fence has gone up on the front of their property from our corner fence post to the newly installed driveway on their north property line.  Perhaps the  contractors for their upcoming construction project are from the big city and perhaps this is standard procedure… but in Oysterville it seems not only unsightly but insulting.  Like who in the world — residents or visitors — can’t see that the property is completely open on the east side?  Or maybe the cyclone fence comes under the heading “to be continued.”   I’m only glad that the previous three or four generations are no longer here to see what has become of their peaceful, friendly village.

Cousin Anwyn and The Cannon

Speaking of the generations — Uncle Cecil’s great-great grandchildren were in town with moms and dads and grandpa.  They came down to visit the chickens and informed me that they have given each of the ladies a name.  When I arrived, the kids were busy with hoes and rakes from our toolshed trying to get the girls out of the rhododendron bushes where they were hiding.

When I pointed out that the chickens hide from predators in those bushes which is a good thing, the tools went back in the toolshed and their focus turned to Nyel — “How’s he doing?” asked Gin.  “Will he be here on Monday to fire the cannon? asked Kahrs.  “Give him hugs from me,” Silas said.  Twice.  Even (sometimes  known-to-be-grumpy) Uncle Cecil would have been impressed.

Danielle, Me, Gabi, Amy

Later, I visited with Amy Wachsmuth and her girls, Gabi and Danielle.  Sue Holway came by and snapped our picture to show posterity that Danielle is now two inches (at least) taller than I am!  Wow!  How did that happen?

All the way back here to St. Vincent’s, I thought about the “old time” neighbors and the kids and how much I love Oysterville.    Now,  if we can only get Nyel back home soon, it promises to be a good summer, cynclone fences notwithstanding!

Season’s Greetings from Capt. Scarborough!

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Hawthorn in Nahcotta

For the second time this week, I nipped home to take care of a few items of business.  Nyel seemed in the best fettle yet when I left him and several telephone calls since then reveal that he is having a good day!  Yay!

The Peninsula greeted me in all its glory — ablaze with blossoms and colors and, best of all, stately Hawthorne trees all in full bloom.  From Chinook to Oysterville those lovely giants smiled at me and wished me well.  I felt that Captain James A. Scarborough, himself, was saluting me all along my way!

Scarborough was an Englishman – born in 1805 in Ilford, County Essex.  When he was twenty-four, he joined the Hudson Bay Company and first crossed the Columbia River bar aboard the Isabella in May 1830.  He worked for Hudson Bay Company for the next twenty years and, despite reports that his men did not respect him and that he was overly fond of demon rum, he received frequent promotions.

Captain James A. Scarborough

When he was thirty-eight he married Ann Elizabeth, a Chinook woman, and together they established a farm on Chinook Point where Chief Comcomly and his six wives had once lived.  The area became known as Scarboro Hill.   When Congress enacted the Donation Land Law in 1850, James and Ann filed for the land they had been living and working on.  They ended up with 643 acres extending about a mile along the north bank of the river and including all of Chinook Point and most of Scarboro Hill.

Having put in his twenty years for HBC, he retired (or was dismissed, according to some reports), moved permanently to his land claim and, until his  untimely death, devoted himself to farming, commercial salmon fishing, and piloting mail steamers over the Columbia River Bar.  Scarborough’s farm prospered.  He was fond of plants and set out many fruit trees as well as other ornamental and useful trees and shrubs.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – NE Corner of Our Garden

Scarborough died in 1855 (two years after his wife’s demise) under somewhat  mysterious circumstances — there were rumors of poison.  There was also talk of a stash of gold ingots, supposedly buried on Scarboro Hill.  The treasure has never been found but, unbeknownst to most, the captain left behind enduring riches of another sort.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – SE Corner of Our Garden

About 1848, even before he was living there full time, Scarborough planted a Hawthorn tree on the slopes of his hill.  According to all accounts, it was an absolutely magnificent specimen and, for almost half a century, it was used as a local landmark and navigation guide. When in 1897, in preparation for the establishment of Fort Columbia the following year, the Army cut down the tree, there was a public outcry that could be heard throughout Pacific County and even across the river.

Locals flocked to Scarboro Hill, took slips from the tree, and many resultant Hawthorns still thrive throughout the area, including two ‘grandchildren’ at our house. Nyel planted them  ten years or so ago, started from from one of those original “slips” that had become a giant in our front yard, only to blow down in the storm of 2007.  I am happy to report that the “grandchildren” of Captain Scarborough’s tree are thriving!

 

 

Getting My Irish Up as in Trying Not To

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

I grew up thinking I was “Scotch, Irish, and English.”  Later I learned that scotch was something to imbibe and “Scottish” was perhaps a better choice of words.  Still later I learned that the Irish part was wrong, too.  When I visited Enniskillen in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, I not only found my “Irish” Little relatives, but was told in no uncertain terms that we were English, not Irish.

I don’t know about the Espy side — they, too, were from Northern Ireland and they, too, had arrived there from England during one of the potato famines of the 18th or 19th centuries.  As far as I can tell, they (like my Little forebears) were there for several generations but whether or not that qualified them as “Irish” I don’t know.  And, I don’t know if, perhaps, marrying a thoroughly vetted Irish colleen or perhaps an Irish crofter would count for anything.  I have the feeling that if you had a drop of English blood, you were never to be considered Irish.

It reminds me of the story a young man from Naselle told me.  His parents had moved there when he and his siblings were little.  After fifteen or twenty years, his mother asked an old-timer how long she and  her family would be considered “newcomers.”  After considerable thought, the answer was:  “Until the last person who remembers when you came here is dead.”

All of this flashed through my mind a bit when a caregiver came into Nyel’s room and said she wanted to talk to me about getting Nyel out of here — not this week, of course, but next.  She said that they would not consider sending him home yet (with which we heartily concur) but they were also not much in favor of sending him back to a small rehab place “on the coast.”  She went on to say, “We did that last time and, yet, here he is again!”  To say I was instantly furious is an understatement beyond comprehension.

My Irish was definitely up.  “That certainly wasn’t the fault of the facility where we were,” I said.  “That can be attributed directly to the care Nyel received, or actually, didn’t receive here in the first place.  Have you read his chart?”  I really wonder if I didn’t say all that with a very thick Irish brogue…  She backed down immediately.

I also said that I thought it was paramount to Nyel’s healing that I be nearby and that we also need to have our wonderful community to give him support.  She did not argue.  I assured her that we could get him back and forth to see the doctors here, as needed.  Perhaps she was convinced.

Our first choice is the swing bed situation at Ocean Beach Hospital.  We have our fingers crossed.  She said they had been trying to get another patient admitted there (Really!!  Who??? — but I knew better than to ask.) and, thus far, there was no availability.

“It’s early days yet,” I said.  “Perhaps something will open up.”

“Perhaps,” she said.  “If they will take him.”

“D’fheidhmigh siad go maith níos fearr!” say I!

Speaking of Leg Muscles…

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Pump Organ at the Oysterville Church

Right now, Patient Nyel is working hard on regaining muscle strength in his legs — enough so he can stand or, actually, learn how to stand with one leg four inches shorter than the other and no left hip joint at all.  It promises to be a long, difficult process.  And painful to the max.  So far, though, he is determined  — to the point that when Carol Wachsmuth mentioned yesterday that she was desperately looking for an organist or two for vespers, Nyel said:  “The first thing we need is a carpenter.”

“Say what???” was my response.

“To build up the left pedal on the pump organ so I can pump it.”

“Yes, that will be very helpful,” said I.  “But there’s the small matter of you not being able to play the organ.  Or the piano, for that matter  Nor do you know how to read music.”

A Sign of Summer

“Oh that!” was Patient Nyel’s response.  “Damn!”

The truth is that we very much do need an organist or two (or even a pianist at this point) who can donate a few Sunday afternoons during the summer to play at the Oysterville Music Vespers.  Suzanne Knutzen, Diane Buttrell, and Sandy Nielsen, bless their hearts, have signed up for more than half the twelve Sundays but Carol is hard pressed to find another volunteer or two.

Their responsibilities would be to play the prelude and postlude for our three to four o’clock Sunday services and accompany the congregational singing for two or three hymns.  Vespers begin on Father’s Day, June 17th, and continue every Sunday through Labor Day Weekend.  If you are reading this and can help out, (or know of someone who might), please contact Carol Wachsmuth at 1-503-349-0340 or carol.wachsmuth@gmail.com.

Before They Go To The Dogs?

Friday, March 29th, 2019

It promised to be a long wait at Les Schwab’s yesterday – as much as two-and-a-half or three hours I was told.  I knew it would be – it was one of the last days to remove studded tires and return to normal treads.  Winter, according to the Road Police is over.  I hope they are right.

I came prepared with my latest acquisition from the library – Janet Evanovich’s newest Stephanie Plum novel, “Look Alive Twenty-Five.”  There’s nothing like the zany characters from the Burg in Trenton, New Jersey to help pass the time.  That and the free popcorn and not-too-bad coffee.  And, too, the book was a great distraction from the Fox News on television.

It was crowded – grandmas and grandpas with little kids in tow and young people, perhaps on Spring Break already, and working guys who didn’t seem in much hurry to get back to work.  Almost everyone was busy doing “screen time” as it’s called these days – even the worker bees behind the desk were busy at their computers.  I was the only one with a book (though some people may have had e-books) and there was a man sitting to my right who was just sitting.  Waiting.  He didn’t seem to be watching the relentless TV; perhaps he was people-watching.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said to me as I returned with my second cup of coffee.  “Would you mind handing me my walker?  It’s just beyond my reach.”  And I saw a familiar-looking walker except this one had bright yellow tennis balls affixed to its back legs.

“No problem.”  And as I handed it to him, I asked if he found the tennis balls helpful.  “My husband is using a walker just now and we’ve been wondering about the tennis balls.” I told him.

“I think they’re great,” he said.  “They’re especially helpful on deep-pile or shag carpets and, outside, they help a lot on gravel or rough road surfaces.  You can buy them in cans of six and they’re often on sale.”

I thanked him for the information but he wasn’t quite through.  “One thing, though, with the tennis balls you suddenly become a dog magnet.  Every dog in the neighborhood comes to play when I go outside!”  We laughed and about then his name was called.  He made his way slowly to the desk with his prosthetic leg and walker and bright yellow tennis balls.

When I told Nyel what I had learned, he surprised me by saying that he was thinking of asking some of our tennis-playing friends if they ever have an excess of used tennis balls – more than their dogs might need.  Good idea…