Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

My Grass Roots Opinion Poll — Sort Of

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020


Most of our garden is lawn.  Back in the day when Nyel was able to do the heavy lifting, he took care of the mowing and the feeding and weeding and, mostly, the watering.  Now we have Tom-The-Mower-Man, but the quarterly applications of moss deterrent and fertilizer (ammonium sulfate) are up to me.

“Quarterly” is actually a mis-nomer, although it does happen four times a year — roughly Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving — as recommended by Master Gardener Don Tapio.  The process involves pushing a spreader back and forth east/west and then north/south on the lawn, which is a lot of walking and lifting/pouring of product.  So, it takes this old woman several days, especially considering the periodic rest periods between applications.

For the last few days, I’ve been working in the South Garden and am Johnny-on-the-spot for a bit of long-distance conversation with the neighbors as they walk their dogs or are just out for a stroll.  After “how’s it going” sorts of starts, the conversations have veered quickly to the County’s decision to open the beaches to driving.

At the End of Oysterville Road, 1940s (Where Surfside is Now)

I certainly haven’t seen or talked to every neighbor, but of those who have stopped for a bit of conversation, the prevailing reaction to the opening is “why?”  As one person said, “They are still discouraging visitors and we locals could already go walking on the beach.  So, what’s the point?”  And, another person — a dedicated clam digger — was incensed that “on top of that, the first clam dig has been cancelled!”

All-in-all, in my non-official, non-comprehensive, probably nonsensical and totally informal survey — residents don’t see the point of the “opening.”  Neither do I.


The Big News from Oysterville!

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Dan Driscoll, 2017

Maybe if we hadn’t been seriously sheltering, we would have had a heads up.  As it happened, though, we had no idea until we read it in the Chinook Observer — Dan Driscoll is running for County Commissioner!  About him, the article said:  Driscoll, an oysterman, owns Oysterville Sea Farms and had a well-documented legal battle with Pacific County over land-use and licensing issues to his seafood shop.  The battle escalated to the state Court of Appeals, which sided with Driscoll and upheld an original South Court ruling in 2018.

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2015 — A Bob Duke Photo

What the article does not say, of course, is that said “legal battle” did more to qualify Dan for candidacy in this election than any experience that either of his opponents have had, notwithstanding that one is the incumbent!  For years, Dan tenaciously examined, researched, interviewed, investigated county documents, employees, elected officials, state and county law etc. etc.  When the county won their appeal of Dan’s initial win, Dan kicked it up a level and, ultimately,  he prevailed.  It took five long years.  Or was it seven?  Whichever it was, it was unconscionable.

Dan Driscoll, Oysterville Oysterman

It’s not everyone who has the fortitude to take on “the system” or the tenacity to stick to his position no matter the financial or emotional cost.  That Dan did so is, in my opinion, a great example of his character and his ability to stand firm for what he believes is right.

Furthermore, his experience gave him a clear look at the underbelly of Pacific County government — how it works and how it doesn’t and, most important, what an ordinary resident and citizen could be up against in seeking justice here.

Which brings me to what Dan said last evening when I spoke with him briefly on the phone.  His campaign slogan (maybe he didn’t call it exactly that) is “fair and just treatment under the law.”  I can’t think of anyone better qualified to run on that principal.  Way to go Dan!

The Third Time Wasn’t Quite The Charm!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

It’s good to have wine-drinking friends!  And not necessarily in a way you might think.

Yesterday was our third trip in the last six weeks to go across the river to get our groceries at Fred Meyer’s.  We had placed our order — a big one — several days beforehand, we had been assigned a pick-up time, and we were all set.  Or so we thought.

We went the front road, through Long Beach, which was crowded with traffic.  Dennis Company, in particular, seemed to be doing a bumper business — parking lot and curbside full and many people (none masked) coming and going.  Hmmm.

The pick-up parking lot was almost full so we had a bit of a wait, for our delivery.  When it arrived, the transfer to our trunk went without incident though there seemed to to be a bit of reshuffling toward the end to make room.  It was all done very efficiently while we stayed safely in place inside the car. We went directly home to take care of the refrigerated things asap.

First, though, was Nyel’s transfer from car to wheelchair to get him into the kitchen at the receiving-and-put-away end.  Then, it was my turn to schlepp about a gazillion bags from car to house.  When I opened the trunk to begin, the first thing to greet me was something we hadn’t ordered.  Wine.  Lots of it — six boxes each containing five liters of Rhine wine.  Wow!  Someone was planning a party and it wasn’t us!

Since we are not wine drinkers, I took only one box in to show Nyel and alerted him to be on the lookout for anything else that might be a mistake.  We ended up unpacking 14 big bags and checking off each item against the receipt.  All but five things had arrived — probably the equivalent of one grocery bag.  And, in addition to the wine, there was one bag containing items we had not ordered and had absolutely no interest in.

Nyel called Freddy’s.  Apparently the other party had already called and their order had been re-filled.  The store would replace the things we hadn’t received but said “We can’t take back any of the rest.  You can keep it or dispose of it… whichever you like.

We called friends who we thought might be interested in the wine and maybe some of the other items.  I put them all out on our porch table and in twenty minutes they arrived.  They were glad for the wine and in a few of the groceries and offered to drop the rest off at the Food Bank.  Perfect!

Today we go back across the river to pick up the rest of our order.  Yet another sheltering adventure for the old folks!  Woot! Woot!

Ponderables In The Age of Sheltering

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Ready-to-Go Basket of Masks and Gloves

It seems to me that we are already getting used to parts of the “new normal.”  Masks and gloves, for instance.  I have a baskets of freshly washed masks and disposable gloves located near our front and back doors.  Plus some in the car (and a leaky bottle of hand sanitizer, as well.)

However, every time I mask up to go out in public, I wonder how long I’ll be clear-sighted.  Do I have my glasses situated just right or will I fog up before I get where I’m going?  Contact lenses must be the answer.  As we enter the long haul with our various virus protections in place, contact lens manufacturers should do a booming business.

Or… I could just remember my very brief foray into scuba diving and spit on my glasses like I was taught to do with my mask.  Magically kept it from fogging.  I don’t remember ever hesitating as I readied to plunge into the briny depths but… somehow going to the post office seems to require more… what?  Formality?  Decorum?  Definitely a subject for pondering as I sit here sheltering.

Our Front Porch

And then there is the rather unnatural — “Speak for yourself,” says Nyel — focus on food that seems to accompany sheltering.  I finally took courage and weighed myself yesterday.  “Same- old Same-old,” said the scale.

It’s lying, of course.  These extra bulges couldn’t just be due to that old time-and-shifting problem.  You know, like with the shifting sands of time.  What am I doing differently now that I’m sheltering?  I know for a fact that it has naught to do with exercise.  That’s never been a part of my lifestyle.  So… why?  I ask you!  Something else to ponder…

One thing that requires very little pondering, however, is the diminished capacity of my mind.  Not enough mental stimulation — which for me has always involved socializing.  Being around people and interacting with them — not all the time, but periodically — is what keeps my imagination and creative juices dribbling along.

One “Friday Night” Before the Sheltering Began

Telephone, skype, email, and text are fabulous… but only as a stop-gap measure to in- person-up-close-and-personal encounters.   I’m thinking of inviting people over for “gate talks” as the weather improves.  They can stand at our gate, we can come out onto the porch and visit from twenty-five feet away.  Definitely worth pondering!



Was it a honeymoon? Is it over?

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

Well, whatever it was (and I don’t believe “honeymoon” is the correct appellation) there are strong indicators that it’s over.  I’m talking here about our initial dealings with one another as we accepted sheltering and distancing and masking and disinfecting as part of daily life.  The newspaper and social media were full of the kindnesses and outpourings among us here in Pacific County.

At first no one said much about the people that were not complying with the Governor’s directives.  Granted, they were probably the minority.  Surely, they’d step up as time went by, we said.  (Whenever I begin a statement with “Surely, ” my husband is certain to say, “Don’t call me Shirley.”  Which always puts me in better touch with reality.)

A letter went out to all the owners of second homes here (49% here on the Peninsula; 63% here in Oysterville) asking them to please, stay away for now.  (They haven’t — not here, anyway).  Then our one of our county commissioners was quoted in a Seattle paper, “If you live in Seattle, stay in Seattle.  If you live in Portland, stay in Portland.” The edges began to unravel…

As one could predict, the movers and shakers  in the hospitality industry spoke out, worried about getting back to “normal” if we alienate the tourists now.  Long time visitors spoke out resentfully feeling that the dollars they’ve spent here over the years entitles them to come when they want.  Part-time residents quietly just kept coming. And going.  And coming back… perhaps feeling safer here and letting it be known that they were bringing nothing other than their own food.

Even when it’s an unhappy ending to an actual honeymoon, most things get worked out… at least for a while.  But it usually requires willingness and some conscious effort. I hope that we full-time residents can maintain our equilibrium and support one another with kindness and understanding as we make our way through this.  It will make it a lot easier as we decide what the “new normal” will involve.  Meanwhile, stay well, stay safe, stay home.

Father Tom William’s quintessential words of wisdom come to mind: “It’s the least we can do; it’s the most we can do; it’s all we can do.”

Remembering “Mrs. Muffin”

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Martha Turner, 1935 Graduation from Ilwaco High School

Almost every time I turn around these days I am hearing about friends who are working at the food banks or at the school cafeteria or for Meals on Wheels — so many dedicated people helping to get nourishing food to those in need.  And I think of my friend Martha Turner Murfin.

Martha would be just two months shy of 102 were she still living and, as sure as I’m writing this, she would be in the thick of helping us all get through this pandemic.  Martha was all about helping — especially children.  She saw to it that they had shoes and backpacks and school supplies.  She saw to it that they had warm jackets in the winter and that they were signed up for “free and reduced” school meals.  She made home visits to see for herself what might be needed — ever aware of people’s pride; especially the kids’.

I first met Martha in 1981 at Ocean Park School, in those days a K-3 school.  She was the Librarian there and not only helped kids choose just the right books but offered a warm lap and comforting arms for kids who needed them.  She kept secrets and always knew just the right thing to say when a child’s whole world was falling apart.  The little kids called her “Mrs. Muffin” and so did the rest of us!  It was a term of endearment of the first order.

Martha Turner Murfin, 1918-2011

She worked with kids and families right up until she couldn’t any more — which was only a short time, as I remember.  She died in the summer of 2011 and her Celebration of Life may well have been the largest such gathering in the Peninsula’s history.

I know she’s somewhere close by, cheering us all on — especially all of the real-life angels who are following in her footsteps to take care of those in need during this most difficult time.  Thanks, Mrs. Muffin, for continuing to serve as a shining beacon for us all!

Sheltering, Sewing, and Stylin’

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020


“One thing about quilters,” says my friend Sue Grennan, “they can sew!” And she should know.  A quilter, herself, for fifty years and a member of the Peninsula Quilt Guild since moving to the beach sixteen years ago, she is an expert when it comes to stitches and seams and patterns and speed.  “I thought that making masks might be something some of us could do to help during this crisis.”

“Every quilter has a stash,” she told me.  “That’s a stack (or sometimes a box or ten boxes) of bits and pieces of fabric — left-overs from the quilts we’ve been working on.  They’d be perfect!  And I’m sure we can find mask patterns on line…”

She called the Pacific County Health Department and told them her idea.  Could you use them?  Yes, indeed, they could.  So she pitched the idea to some of the quilters last week and they are off and running… well, sewing.  “Mostly we’re experimenting right now,” she told me.  “… working out the kinks.”

Patterns and Prototypes

For one thing, there is no elastic to be found right now.  Not in the fabric stores, not at Amazon, not online or from the usual sources.  “We’re trying to figure out exact;y what we might get from craft stores, but they are asking for diameters in millimeters…” she told me.  So, for now, they are using bias tape and fashioning loops to go over the ears or ties to go around the head.  “They are definitely a work in progress. It’s a bit of a learning curve.”

This is an individual effort on the part of the quilters — not a Guild sanctioned activity.  Not like the place mats they made to be distributed by Meals on Wheels.  And not like the quilts that some members make for cancer and heart patients at various hospitals.  For the moment the masks are in the experimental stage.   Some are being made with pockets inside so you can slip in a non-porous tissue or paper for more protection.  Some masks are reversible (like the Sue and Bill are modeling here).


Today 90 masks will be delivered to Gloria Park’s quilting studio  —  a batch of 75 and another of 15  — the first day’s work by two of the quilters.  Eventually — maybe this afternoon — they will go to the Naselle Fire Department.  Another group of quilters are making masks for the Ocean Park Fire Department.  “I hope that, eventually, we’ll have enough available for any one who wants one,” says Sue.

There will be no charge.  Only the hope that the masks will offer “some” protection but, more importantly, will provide a colorful reminder to use good health habits, good sense, and good manners during these days of distancing and sheltering.  “I’m working on one with a chicken pattern on the fabric,” Sue told me.  For Farmer Nyel, I wondered?  Or maybe me. Wow!

“Garden of Eating” by Sue Grennan, 2014

And it suddenly occurred to me that just about now is when the 25th Annual Quilt Show was scheduled at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  Not a word did anyone say about the cancelled show.  Not “if only” or “it’s too bad.”  Not the quilters.  They’re much too busy with the here and now.  Masks!

Jack’s, A Turkey, St. Paddy, And Me!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Stained-glass window of St. Patrick from Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Junction City, Ohio

This year, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we are having turkey.  Yep!  No corned beef and cabbage this time around, as in how can you turn down “free?”

It happened a few weeks ago.  I was doing a big shopping at Jack”s in my effort to cut down what seem like constant forays to the grocery store.  (It was BS-Q – Before Self-Quarantining and Social Distancing; I just DO NOT like to shop.)  As the clerk rang up the total, she asked if I knew about their free turkey program.

I didn’t and, for a moment, wondered if I looked truly needy, but she explained that customers who spent over $100 at one time were eligible for a free, fresh, butterball turkey.  “Would you like one?”  You betcha!  I think it’s the only free thing I’ve ever won.

“We’ll have it for St. Patrick’s day,” Nyel said.  “The luck of the Irish and all that.”  So in the freezer it went, all fourteen-and-a-half pounds!  And out it came day before yesterday to unfreeze in the fridge.  Today Chef Nyel will roast it “to a turn,” as they say and we’ll be suitably thankful to Jack’s Country Store and to St. Patrick, himself.

And, speaking of St. Patrick — I do feel a close affinity for him.  I have a good dollop of Irish in me, although my Irish connections in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh say we’re really English and never mind that we’ve been in Northern Ireland since the 18th century.

Turkey for Dinner!

St. Patrick, too, was actually English — probably born in the 4th century in Roman Britain.  At age sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland where he spent six years as a shepherd.,,,   Well, the story goes on and I can’t claim to much in common with any of it beyond the English ancestry part.

Who knew?

“If you don’t like the weather…

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

…just wait a minute.”  Those have been watchwords about our Peninsula weather for as long as I can remember.  Between that rather flippant saying and my childhood memories of Old Jimmy Anderson’s daily (rain or shine) prediction, “Looks like more rain coming,” I don’t put much faith in the weather forecasts.  The safest way of considering our weather from my point of view is “what you see is what you get.”

Back in the day, when I was first teaching here, school closures because of snow and ice were called on the days when the school bus couldn’t get up Sahalee Hill.  The Director of Transportation — for years it was Bob Slagle — would do a test run about five in the morning and would make the call.  Sometimes it would be a delayed opening to give things a chance to warm up and melt.  Sometimes it was an all-day closure — a go-out-and-make-a-snowman-day for kids and a day for working parents to do the day-care-scramble.  Before computers and cell phones, we were all notified by land-line-telephone and, if we were part of the “telephone tree” we spent a busy few minutes calling to notify colleagues or parents who would then make their own calls.


I don’t know how it all works these days.  My impression is that school closures are made more frequently and not necessarily by a reality check but, more likely, by paying heed to the online weather forecasts.  Granted, the weathermen are more up-to-the-minute and more accurate these days, but I still get the feeling that we all carry the “better safe than sorry” mantra a little too far.

Or… am I falling into that old person’s refrain: “I used to walk five miles through deep snow to get to school…”  Probably so.  And, as far as I know, there haven’t been any rumblings about school closures this week.  Not yet.  On the other hand, the opening session of Community Historians 2020 has been postponed from tomorrow (January 15th) to the following Wednesday when it will be combined with Session Two.   I have to confess, I’m delighted.  It’s been a long time since I’ve made a snowman…  We can only hope.


And speaking of the democratic process…

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Charlie and Marta, Yesterday in L.A.

The weekly phone conversation (a three-way, free, conference call) with my “kids” always involves a political component of some kind.  Happily, we are all of the same mind philosophically, Marta being perhaps the most liberal, and both she and Charlie politically “involved” in one way or another.  Both are well informed and Charlie happens to live in Adam Schiff’s district which, somehow, makes me feel more closely aligned with his present impeachment responsibilities.  A bit of a far-fetched idea, but there it is.

Alice and The Dodo (speaking of caucuses)

Last night, the conversation got around to the primaries and I mentioned Washington’s caucus system which Marta didn’t know much about and when Charlie asked when that was happening, I couldn’t really answer.  So after we had hung up, I looked it up.  Or tried to, and found that the Democrats will be voting in a regular presidential primary this year for the first time ever.  The Republicans, apparently, have been using a combination of the primary and caucus systems for some time.  2020 will be the first time that both parties in our state have used the primary system for a presidential election.

Once again, I wonder how that got by me.  The Seattle Times article that popped up on my screen was dated April 9, 2019!  The reason is probably a no-brainer – too much cost for too little participation.  I’m quite sure it’s the right decision, but I did love the opportunity to hear various viewpoints and to have a chance to express my own.  It always seemed to me to be an excellent method for ensuring some meaningful dialogue among voters and, hopefully, a better informed electorate.  On the other hand, the 2016 caucus I attended didn’t feel as though there were enough participants — at least not here on the Peninsula.  I surely hope that changing to the primary system increases voter involvement.

Fortunately, we still have a lot of time to gear up — the date of our primary will be March 10, 2020 — just a month after the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary.  Presumably the early date will give Washington state a  greater influence on the nomination process.  Go Washington!