Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

What happened to the apple pie?

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Portland Mom Bruised by Rubber Bullets

So now it’s mom and rubber bullets?  Whose son (or daughter) pulled the trigger?  Is his/her mom proud of him/her? Was shooting moms an order?  Do I pay my taxes to support troops who fire upon U.S. citizens?

Why won’t Governor Kate Brown persist in getting these troops removed?  Why does she blow it off as a political ploy by a law-and-order president in his bid for re-election?  Why, if her initial “reasonable” arguments fell on deaf ears, has she not been more insistent?  Why isn’t she aggressively finding a way to combat the use of federal troops in her state if, as she says, they are exacerbating the problem?  Do Oregonians feel satisfied with her leadership?  And what about Portland’s mayor?  Is he also culpable?

Sheet Music, January 1, 1917

What “other side” of this situation justifies troops harming those who are gathering peacefully?  Is the protest still about Black Lives Matter or has it become something else entirely?  Who is working to de-escalate and solve this mess with reasonable discussion and discourse?  If that’s happening, why aren’t we hearing about it?

Didn’t all of this start with a tea party in Boston several hundred years ago?  Is the party over?


OMG! I actually YELLED at her!

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, I think (and hope) you can attest to the fact that I thoroughly enjoy our Oysterville visitors.  They lean over our fence and ask questions about the village.  They give me amazing (and undeserved) compliments about our garden.  Sometimes they even tell me that they have roots here in Oysterville and, even more amazingly, some turn out to be relatives!  And I enjoy it all.  But this morning, all of those warm fuzzy feelings vanished in a trice!

I had backed the car out of the garage and was positioning it so Nyel could get into the passenger side from his electric wheelchair.  Approaching from the north was a pleasant looking woman with a dog (maybe a German Shepherd puppy) on a leash.  “Isn’t it gorgeous today?” she said.  “So sunny and hot.”

I said something like, “Never hot enough for me here on the Coast,” and she laughed but instead of walking on by, she veered around the car and INTO our garage.  It was a bit off-putting but I backed away toward our inner sanctum and she continued around the car and back out into the street.  Very strange.

A few minutes later, I was bringing Nyel’s  “travelling wheelchair” out and putting it into the car.  The woman (and dog) had now entered her car and was presumably starting to bypass our house and car.  Suddenly she stopped, was out of the car and was approaching me.  “Here!  Let me help you!  My boyfriend who just died had one of these.  I know all about them.”

“No thank you,” I said.  “I’ve got it.”  But on she came.  Of course, she had on no mask.  Nor did I.  (I was on my own property, after all.)  “Back up,” I said to her.  She kept coming… so I backed up and repeated, “Back up!”  But by then she was grabbing the handles of the wheelchair…  I sort of lost it at that point and yelled really loud.  “BACK UP LADY! YOU AREN’T WEARING A MASK!  I’M NOT WEARING A MASK!  GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!”

Finally, she dropped the wheelchair and discontinued her forward momentum.  “I was just trying to help,” she said.  “I keep forgetting about the virus.”


I left car and wheelchair in the road and retreated to the house to get the spray sanitizer, my mask, etc. etc.  Thankfully, when I went back outside, she was gone.  It will take me a while to feel warm and fuzzy about tourists again.  If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate, it’s stupid.  (And speaking of such, I should have taken her license number. I hope she didn’t leave any microbes behind…)



Before the sun crested the horizon…

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

By Dawn’s Early Light

Back and forth, forth and back I walked yesterday morning.  8,000 steps and all before breakfast!  And all because our “lawn” to use the term loosely, is more buttercups and dandelions than grass.  “Weed and Feed” we were told by the experts.  Best time to spread it, while the dew is still heavy on the surface but not on a day when it’s likely to rain.

Around here, the day chooses you and not the other way around.  Yesterday was it.  I loaded the spreader, set the dial at 3½ as instructed, and started off.  I planned to do the worst area first — the east lawn.  If the both the lawn and I survived, I’d tackle the north lawn the next day (which is now today.)

Back? Or… forth?

Well, I did survive and I see no evidence of anything dire (or otherwise) happening on the east lawn so I was ready to roll at 6:30 this morning.  But, the “dew” was falling enough to form droplets on my glasses and that’s not recommended for the best (or any) results.  “No active rain.”  So here I am.

Front Page Today

As I sat down to write this post, I saw the online front page headline in the ObserverCovid-19 came calling on July 4, test says.  I could actually feel my blood pressure rise.  If the test is accurate, at least 30 virus-infected people were in Long Beach over the weekend of the Fourth.  Suddenly, I couldn’t see.  The droplets on my hair and glasses had turned to steam…  What is the MATTER with our leadership? Encouraging thousands of people to come to the beach?  And without enforcement relative to mask-wearing?  Putting our residents at unnecessary risk?  Do they actually WANT Pacific County to become some sort of epicenter?  Maybe of stupidity?  But I digress…



Lay off, Mrs. C.! After all… I’m on your side!

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Blankety Blank Blinkin’ Light

The little internet light on my modem blinks furiously most of the time.  And most of the time I have an internet connection.  But it’s the other part, perhaps the nano-seconds between blinks, that is giving me grief.

I’ve been downloading (or trying to) the possible cover photos for my new ghost story book.  For days. Each file is large — anywhere from 15 to 35 megabytes so my choices for getting them to the publisher come down to using a flash drive or a drop box.  I’ve had good luck with drop boxes before and they seem more secure than trusting a flash drive to the vagaries of mail (sorry Mark S.) to South Carolina.

A Story for Mrs. C.

I began uploading my top choices for the front cover on Friday.  There were seven photographs and it took about twelve hours for them all to upload but, fortunately, only an instant to then share with my editor.  She liked one in particular and asked if I could send a few other versions.  No problem, I thought.  She also suggested that a few of them might be good images for the back cover, as well.  I hadn’t been thinking beyond “front,” and when I did, I realized I had better choices than those already sent.

So it was that Saturday evening I began the process of uploading eight more very large photographic files.  I worked on it all day yesterday.  One by one they “almost” uploaded and then there was a “connectivity failure.”  Over and over and over again.  Maddening!  I finally got seven loaded and got a message that the box drop was full.  I needed to upgrade the drop box size.  For money, of course.  Whatever…

The Haunted America Series – 294 Titles (so far)

Then… home free!  Or so I thought, but try as I might, I could not “share’ the images with my editor.  I emailed my distress and she, somehow, accessed them from her end.  That left one more image that, fortunately, was just under the size limit so I sent it as an email attachment.  The first attempt failed but after loud raging at CenturyLink and a serious talk with Mrs. C., it went the second time.

Howinthehell will I send the 60 equally large files for the book, itself?  Fortunately, I have a week or so to think about it.  Meanwhile, I am reading aloud to Mrs. C.  It’s the chapter about her earthly husband, the unrighteous Reverend Crouch.  I hope she likes it.  I believe I’ll need her help to get this show on the road.

Dan Driscoll: Into The Fray!

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Dan Driscoll

My neighbor Dan Driscoll called yesterday and, in twenty minutes, he touched on more hot-button county topics than you could shake the proverbial stick at.  Fireworks, law enforcement, shoreline management, the freedom of information act, historic preservation, transparency in public meetings — you name it and it came rolling into the conversation.

He called to thank me for asking him some questions he couldn’t answer about fireworks.  That was Monday — less than a week ago.  Since then he’s “done his homework,” as they say.  He’s talked to people on all sides of the subject; he’s looked into laws and regulations; he’s caught up with the Peninsula’s history on the issues involved; and, best of all, he’s working on a plan!  It won’t necessarily be “the” answer to this very complex problem, but a first step toward some sort of change.  Something do-able.  It was SO refreshing to hear about what might be possible instead of all the reasons we’re stuck with the status quo!

It’s A Sign!

In case you haven’t heard, Dan is running for Pacific County Commissioner.  As far as I know, it’s his first involvement in politics.  But his knowledge of how this county works (and doesn’t work) is far-reaching.  If you’ve been a resident here for very long, you are aware of Dan’s legal battles with Pacific County and its well-entrenched “old-boy” mentality.  It took Dan two or three years, but he eventually won his suit.  It set back his business and his efforts to restore the historic cannery in which his Oysterville Sea Farms is headquartered.  And it probably put him tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

On the plus side, though, is that Dan has had a good look around the underbelly (if counties have bellies) and knows where the bodies are buried.  (Yuck!  Terrible metaphors but, in my mind, totally appropriate.)  And, in addition to attending to the arduous work of re-building his business, he wants to be part of making some changes — changes that should, ultimately, make a big difference to all of us.

“Oysterville Sea Farms” Painting by Pat Fagerland

This is a hell of a time to break into politics — zoom meetings and telephone conversations and social media contacts don’t take the place of public get-togethers and face-to-face, in-person discussions.  But if anyone can make that work, I think Dan can.

I hope that people with questions and concerns and pertinent information about county concerns will reach out to him.  Whether or not you are in his District and can vote for him in November, with only three commissioners in the county, the actions of each one affect us all.  If you aren’t able to vote for Dan, tell someone who can.  But, don’t take my word for it.  Talk to him, yourself.  He’s very approachable!  And, besides that, he’s a nice guy and worth knowing.

After thinking it over…

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Gilbert Cottage Clock circa 1866-`1871

I do believe that of the 300+ worker-bees at Windsor Castle, there is only one position that I’d really like to create and fill at this house. Not the chef — Nyel does that.  Not the scullery maid — we have a dishwasher.  Not the housekeepers in charge of floors — we have Cinderella and Drizella.  And not those in charge of the curatorial, conservation, publishing, and communications needs — that would be me.  “The Ranger” who oversees the grounds (including the animals) is, of course, also Nyel and we have the mower-guy and the weeding ladies to keep things looking tidy.

New England Case Clock circa 1735

But what we don’t have is a horological conservator!  A clock guy.  Granted, Windsor Castle has 379 timepieces to take care of. We have maybe ten.  But all of theirs are in tip-top condition.  Most of ours are not.  We definitely need some one who can keep everything running and, preferably, in sync with one another as much as possible.

But, I think that we have onc basic difficulty that Windsor Castle does not.  Our house is built on shifting sands and, according to every clock-maker we have ever consulted or employed, at least some of our clocks need to be kept level in order to tick-tock with competence.  And not just most of the time.  All the time.

Schoolhouse Clock, circa 1910

So far, we haven’t found the answer.  Perhaps a horological conservator could help.  Though my fear is he’d have to call in the structural engineers and the foundation experts and who knows what all in order to first stabilize the house.  I really suspect that our ten clocks require more than a clock expert to keep them going.

Just as well.  I’m not at all sure where one looks for such an employee — not on our budget, anyway.  After thinking it over,  we are undoubtedly fine as is.  Unless the Queen needs to come to Oysterville for a visit and happens to bring her very own horologist on loan for the day.  Maybe he could have a look at our timepieces while Nyel and I have tea and scones with the queen…

So look who’s lurking in the kitchen!

Thursday, June 25th, 2020


And now we are training a second robot!  It’s Cinderella’s step-sister Drizella and her “place” is in the kitchen where she will dry or wet mop as directed.  She’ll do the dining room and bathroom floors, as well, although she doesn’t know about that yet.  She’s still undergoing training.

I cannot stress how fabulous it is to have willing and fairly silent young robots who are eternally in waiting to do our bidding!  Cinderella has now completed all of her training and we have only to go to an app on our cell phones to direct her to vacuum the library or the bedroom or the entire main floor which is nine rooms!  As long as we have wifi coverage, we can direct her from wherever we happen to be. Woot! Woot!

Danish Modern in the East Room

So far, we feel we need to be ‘in residence’ when she cleans the East Room — the big room where  the TV, the roll top desk, a four-foot-in-diameter coffee table, Papa’s lawyer cabinet  and  seven assorted chairs hang out.  Cinderella has had to be rescued several times while cleaning there — twice from being trapped under the lawyer cabinet and once from getting hung-up on a Danish modern chair-leg.  Our conclusion — certainly not an old-fashioned girl, but not exactly modern, either.

Do I talk to these robots? Yes!  Do they answer?  Not quite, but I can sort of tell what they’re thinking…  I blame all these months of sheltering.

“Putting Out Fires” as they say…

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

It’s getting down to crunch time on deadlines for the sequel to my ghost stories book and I’ve been spending every spare moment at my computer — fine-tuning, double-checking, re-thinking.  So, when an uninvited intruder showed up on my screen, closing me out of all my files and giving me no options — not even a peek at my desktop or access to the taskbar or windows/file explorer — I was more than a little annoyed.  It claimed to be an opportunity for me to upgrade to “Microsoft Edge” — unasked for and impossible to get rid of.

I followed the usual protocols — turn off, count to ten, turn on.  Whew! Lookin’ good.  But the first key I tapped, there it was again!  “Microsoft Edge.”  Uninvited.  No way to get it off my screen. Clotting up my life.   This time I unplugged, waited five minutes, re-plugged and… back it was.  I called Dominic at Plugged In Computer Repair.  He had me go through the turn off and on routine again and it looked like the problem had solved itself.  Wow!

“How long since you’ve had your yearly maintenance done?” he asked.  “Years,” I told him.  “Since way before Mike (of Mike’s Computers) moved”

“Why don’t you drop it off next time you’re in town,” he suggested.  I told him that I only sally forth once every two weeks to get our groceries at Fred Meyers’ curbside service.  “Well, next time you do that, drop off the computer and I can probably have it ready to pick up by the time you come back through Long Beach.”  Perfect.  And I went back to work.

But, with the first keyboard stroke — “Microsoft Edge” appeared and I was clotted up once more.  I called Dominic, took the computer to town and dropped it off, relieved that I was the only customer, Dominic was masked (as was I), and there was hand sanitizer on the counter. We (Nyel was with me for the “outing) came home and I picked up our almost-full recycling bins and did my due diligence at the Nahcotta Recycling Center, went to the post office, checked out the newly re-opened library, picked up an order at the Planter Box, and drove around to check out the tourism scene.  Lotsa traffic, lotsa people, only two masks that we saw.

I pickec up the computer and we were home in time for the cocktail hour.  Computer purring along.  Cinderella at Home Base waiting to be helpful.  Deadlines calling a bit more stridently.  Okay! Okay!  I’m on it.  And what’s with Microsoft, anyway???  Sending something that froze everything up?  Nyel got the same message last week but he was able to delete his.  And why do they do that, anyway?  How rude.  There oughta be a law… Like Scarlet, I’ll think about that tomorrow…


A whole new learning curve with Cinderella!

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

Cinderella’s Home Base

Right off the bat — or, more accurately, right out of the box — we realized that a few things had been overlooked during Cinderella Roomba’s job interview.  In the first place was the matter of her living quarters.  It seems there are very specific parameters.  She needs to live in a place where there are eighteen unencumbered inches on each side of her and four feet in front of her. Plus she needs a good WiFi connection.  Lots of luck with that in Oysterville!

Do you know that there is not a single spot in this big house that meet those requirements — at least not on the first floor!  And since she “doesn’t do stairs,” it was find or make a place for her downstairs or send her back to Kentucky.  (Yes, that’s where she came from.  It took her almost a month to get here and we wondered if she were vacuuming all the highways along the route.)

Learning Granny’s Tea Cart

We finally decided to try the place that came closest to meeting her specifications,  even though it wasn’t perfect — 13 inches on one side and several feet (but under a couch) on the other.  It’s a high-off-the-floor couch so she can go under it if need be.   And it’s near my office and the modem.  The difficulty might be that it’s not very centrally located.  In fact, it’s in the far northeast corner of the house — the farthest possible place from the kitchen.  However, so far, we she hasn’t told us that it’s  a problem.  (On the other hand, she hasn’t made it to the dining room and kitchen yet — she usually has to return to home base for a rest about halfway through the living room.)

However, presumably she’s been mapping as she goes, so when she just gets down to her cleaning duties, perhaps she will go faster.  And farther.  She is working now, as we speak, and seems to be re-doing everything she did yesterday but in a speedier manner.  Hopefully she will get all the way to the kitchen before she has to come back to home base to recharge her batteries — or to dump her dust bin, whichever comes first.

Papa’s Lawyer Cabinet

She did get stuck once yesterday.  I was nearby (as instructed for her initial run) and her app on my cellphone said, “Cinderella is stuck.  She needs your help.”  She had tried to get under my grandfather’s “lawyer cabinet” which has a curvy decorative bottom — ideal for getting stuck halfway under.  It was tricky getting her out.  There’s no way Nyel or I, even in tandem, could lift that cabinet full of books but, somehow through main-strength-and-awkwardness I was able to budge it enough to nudge her out.  YIKES!

Even so, Cinderella is rapidly finding a place in my heart.  I don’t think the carpet under our bed has been this clean since it was installed two or three years ago!  And, even though there are places she can’t get to, she does a far better job than I can manage with her old, upright distant cousin.  Woot!  Woot!


Doncha just love MaBell?

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Ready! Set! Visit!

Yesterday, we had a little “garden get-together” with a few of our Friday Nighters.  The afternoon was fairly warm, fairly sunny, and we were ready to have a visit.  It didn’t hurt any that, in addition to sheltering, we had been without internet service since Monday night.  Thank goodness for the magic of cell phones, but even so, we felt pretty cut off from the world.

High time to reconnect, we thought!  And it was lovely.  Our usual Friday night visits are from five to seven o’clock which usually feels just about right.  Yesterday we gathered at two and talked non-stop until one of the guests said, “it’s getting to be about seven…”  It wasn’t, of course, but it was nearly five.  Time flies, as they say.

Ernestine the Operator

Meanwhile, we had (of course!) been on the phone to CenturyTel’s robot help service, then to a live voice somewhere in EST, then to a live voice whose English was not even close to a second language and neither Nyel nor I could understand.  Several call-backs and emails over several days and they FINALLY sent a technician! He arrived this morning about ten-thirty.

“I won’t leave until this is resolved,” he said.  And he didn’t!  Bless him! He was here for a couple of hours.  In the end he said it was a “virtual problem.”  I asked him to explain and, if I understood correctly, it went something like this:  First there was a small outage nearby (which the robot had told us there wasn’t and, perhaps we weren’t even involved in it.)  Then, the East Coast live voice located the outage and tried to fix it.  By then, however, it had already been fixed, so the East Coast “fix” screwed us up, even though we might have been fine had he left it alone.  Then when we called the second day, the robot had to check things out again and found the big news:  we had no internet service.  So, finally on Day Three they sent the technician.

“I’m reporting what happened,” he told us, “so, if you want to, you can ask them for credit on your account for the days you were down.  And, next time,” he said, “just call me directly.  I can probably fix it without all that virtual stuff.”

“Precision Wires”

I was absolutely amazed to find that Nyel did, indeed call CenturyTel to see about a refund.  “We’re getting credit for $1.50 plus tax,” he told me a few minutes ago.  Wow!  Three days of internet service comes to 50 cents a day?  Why do I feel there is something wrong with this picture? I looked on my CenturyTel bill, but of course, nothing says “Internet Service.”  And there are no numbers smaller than about a gazillion.

Oh well.  We’ll just have another Garden Gathering.  Misery always loves company.