Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Already, I am torn…

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Welcome to Oysterville! (The real-life one.)

Last night, I began reading Susan Wiggs’ hot-off-the-press novel, The Oysterville Sewing Circle, and though I’ve read only 14 of its 362 pages, I am already finding it hard to keep focused.  It’s not that the book is poorly written.  Not at all.  Wiggs is an accomplished wordsmith and, in fact, is almost overly adverbed and adjectived for my taste.  I’m sure her plot development is strong and the romantic content intriguing.  (In fact, the blurbs on the back of the dust jacket say so.)

My Great Grandfather R.H. Espy (The H is for Hamilton)

No.  It’s not the technical aspects of the novel that are a turn-off to me.  It’s the content.  I’m really not one for “romances” or “women’s fiction stories” as Wiggs’ books are often described.  I’ve never read any of her books, though she’s written well over thirty.  Yet, the very title of this book compels my attention.  After all,  there really was an Oysterville sewing circle.  My grandmother, my mother, various aunts and cousins — to say nothing of my great-grandfather’s third wife, Aunt Kate — all belonged to it.

“So,” thought I when the book arrived, “I’ll give it a try.”  By page two my very strong can’t-continue gene was kicking in.    And then on page three my own family’s name popped out at me.  Mr. Espy, the owner of the shop, used to claim he was part vampire, manning the register every night for decades.  Every hackle I possess was suddenly on full alert.  It’s not that Espy is a particularly unusual name.  It’s just that Espy and Oysterville in real life — at least for the last 165 years — have been practically synonymous.  And here was my family name in a story involving a town with the same name as the one my Great-Grandfather Espy co-founded!

The Espy Plot – Oysterville Cemetery

In the very front of the book there is the usual disclaimer:  This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

I don’t think the names “Oysterville,” “Oysterville Sewing Circle.” and “Espy” used in the same novel are exactly “products of the author’s imagination” or are “entirely coincidental.” Though I’m tempted to put aside the book as another one of life’s wastes of money, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll meet a Sydney Stevens if I continue on.  Perhaps I’ll just wait and let one of my friends tell me ‘the rest of the story’ — someone who enjoys Susan Wiggs and her romance novels.  Meanwhile, I’m heading to the Oysterville Cemetery to see if there is any grave-spinning going on in the Espy plot.

Where’s my white hat?

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

I arrived at St. Vincent’s last night to find that Nyel has been a) diagnosed with yet a new infection — chronic osteomyelitis — and that he does not “qualify” for hospitalization.  Everything that was done could have been accomplished as an outpatient says the hospital.  And, since that is so, he does not qualify for admission under Medicare Part A’s rules and we will be billed for the Part B deductible.

“So does he need to be here?” I asked.  There was quite a bit of arguing.  I don’t think Nyel and I “won” but we were told that “No, he doesn’t need to be here” and “No, they are not going to prescribe antibiotics as they are not indicated.”  Whatever that means.

“Then, get Nyel outta here!” said I.  Or something like that.

They are preparing his discharge papers as we speak.  There is far more to this story but… if we leave soon we might even catch the tail end of the Oysterville Regatta!  And, for sure, the Regatta Dinner!  The St. V saga can definitely wait.

Situation Normal AFU at St. V’s

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

I guess in some ways it’s reassuring that St. Vincent’s Hospital didn’t suddenly (since Nyel was last there for six weeks in April/May) get better.  When Nyel was admitted night before last, things looked hopeful.  But now… same old, same old.  At least we know we weren’t crazy the first time around.

The orthopedic surgeon who performed the original (failed) surgery and one of the two “clean-outs” seems to be in charge.  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  As of yesterday, he wants to open Nyel up and clean out the wound (again!) as it has become infected (again!)  The infectious disease doctors and the wound care doctors and the cardio doctors and perhaps even other ortho doctors wanted to do an MRI to try to get more information.   They were advising against surgery but as of yesterday a.m. — the MRI was off the table (so to speak.)  Surgery was on.

By evening, surgery was off the table and the MRI was done.  Apparently, the doctor-in-charge was overruled. As far as Nyel knows, no surgery is planned.  Oh — and let me add that though many doctors have seen and talked to Nyel up close and personal, he has not yet seen the orthopedic surgeon during this stay.  Not hide nor hair.

But it’s the back-story that makes it all the more interesting.  At noon on August 11th Nyel had a follow-up appointment with the ortho surgeon.  Nyel had been home for over a month and had been under the care of Harbor Home Health.  The head nurse was pleased that Nyel was going into Portland for the follow-up appointment.  She had some specific questions about the wound site and whether or not the wound-vac (the pump to which Nyel was attached) was still necessary.

I drove Nyel and his wound vac to Portland (actually to an office in Beaverton) for his appointment.  The doctor was pleasant and chatty but said he “wouldn’t bother” looking at the wound site.  “But… we drove three hours…”  When Nyel mentioned that his home care nurse had some questions about continuing the wound vac, the doctor said that she should be “perfectly capable” of making that decision.

That the home health nurse was frustrated by that news is totally understandable.  A few days later when she suspected the wound was infected, she contacted the doctor who then sent orders for a blood test.  “Yes” came the result.  “Infection.”  The doctor then asked for a culture from the “seepage.”  The nurse picked up the ordered testing materials from the hospital and did the culture.  At that point she also removed the wound vac and showed me how to apply wet/dry dressings — the protocol always used, she said, when there is infection in this sort of wound.

Yesterday, at the hospital, Nyel was asked who made the decision to remove the wound vac.  (He was also informed that he would probably continue to use it for up to a year or a year and a half. YIKES!) Furthermore, Nyel was informed that a culture should never have been taken from the surface seepage.  These criticisms/concerns were (again, “apparently”) coming from the ortho doctor but, as mentioned previously, he has not seen Nyel face-to-face.  And he was the one who ordered the culture.

As for the pain (which is why he went to the ER in the first place on Wenesday night)  — “they” say it is because his body is laying down calcium deposits trying to rebuild his femur.  That could continue for up to three years.  Of course, the femur cannot be “rebuilt.”  Calcium is not bone — no blood supply etc.  But the body doesn’t know that.  Or so the experts are telling Nyel.”  They have increased his pain medication.  Is that working?  “Except when I move,” Nyel says.  “Then, on a scale of one to ten… it’s about a seven.”






Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Internet Down!

The wires (actually, the wireless) have been humming on the way to our house — so many readers asking if everything is okay.   Wrote our friend Ruth:  I checked your blog and found that your last one was 4 days ago…What is happening? We’re concerned. Praying, sending love and hopes for good news.

I am so sorry for my silence and want to assure everyone that all is well.  The first three no-blog-days were due to no internet service.  Yesterday, for some reason, was “just one of those days!”  Time ran out and before I could get to the computer I hit a wall and went to bed instead of  blogging.

It probably boils down to Time Management or lack thereof.  Yesterday, for instance, I needed to get the car across the river for servicing by 10 a.m. (Check!), drive home to get Nyel and take him across the river to have him measured at Evergreen Prosthetics and Orthotics for another “platform shoe (Check!);” take a load of stuff to Goodwill (Check!); do some necessary shopping at CostCo (Check!); go to the Pharmacy and Jacks and do some recycling (Check! Check! And Check!).  Too much for one day but this morning my car goes to George Hill for some repairs and we will be home-bound at least until Friday.

Betwixt and between all of that, of course, were coop duties, meal duties, put-away-the-grocery duties, check the rat trap duties, and, most important of all,  the nursing duties.  Unfortunately, Nyel’s MSSA infection (a gift from St. Vincent’s) has returned and that requires additional dressing changes etc. etc.  “They”  are not prescribing antibiotics “yet” hoping his own immune system will kick in…

Dumb Cluck Svetlana – Still Broody 

Long story short: no time for blogging.  Maybe not having a car will free up some time in the next few days and I can catch up to myself.  Meanwhile… Thanks for asking how Nyel is doing.  I apologize for not keeping up.

Thank goodness for the library!

Friday, July 26th, 2019

So, here I am at the Ocean Park Timberland Library and not for any of the reasons that Andrew Carnegie might have imagined, either.  After all, the Carnegie libraries — more than 2,000 of them — Carnegie  were built between 1883 and 1929, long years before computers and the internet were invented or even dreamed of.

And, basically, that’s why I’m here.  I need to access the internet for several reasons — not the least being to post this blog — and, even though I spent more than an hour on the phone with the nice-but-ineffective Century Link troubleshooter, I am informed that I will be without internet access for a while yet.  “If possible” a technician will come to do some further troubleshooting on Monday.  Those words “if possible” never seem to sound anything but ominous.

Alameda Public Library (my first library experience 1941-1946)

Mr. Carnegie envisioned that libraries would “bring books and information to all people.” He gave over $60 million to that end — a vast fortune in 20th-century dollars.  His offer was to build and furnish libraries to cities who agreed to maintain and staff them.  He systematically funded 2,507 libraries throughout the English-speaking world including some belonging to universities. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. By 1930, half the American public libraries had been built by Carnegie!

Ocean Park Timberland Library

Our Timberland Library in Ocean Park is not one of the Carnegie Libraries, but I’m sure that he would approve of it.  And I’m equally sure that he’d love “the modern touches” — like the computer area and the internet access.  Who wouldn’t?

And, not to worry if I’m “dark” (as in invisible and silent) for a few days.  As fabulous as this connection to the outer world is, it’s not exactly as convenient as schlepping into my office in my bathrobe and slippers…  As my mother often lamented, “Why me, oh lord?  Why me?”


What’s a few years or a few miles anyway?

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Oysterville Store, July 2015

And back to “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town” — the skewed, some-right-some-wrong sort of article in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast.  Paragraphs #11 and #12 are mostly correct. Except for the parts that are totally wrong:

Eight houses, a church, the  cannery and a one-room schoolhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.  And some structures date back to the 19th century.
Though Oysterville might be considered a ghost town, it does have life.  The post office is the oldest continuously operating post office in Washington.  The Oysterville Store sells groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  Oysterville Sea Farms sells harvested seafood.

Oysterville Store c. 1940

Once upon a time, the Oysterville Store did indeed sell groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  But not recently.  As many a tourist or out-of-town visitor can tell you, the little store has not been open for some time — maybe two or three years now.   I understand, though, why Mr. Webb didn’t think to come all the way north to Oysterville to check it out.  Everyone we know is in agreement that it is very much farther for people who live in the southern regions of the Peninsula to drive north “clear to Oysterville” than it is for us Oystervillians to drive south to their neck of the woods.  Go figure.

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2018

Oysterville Sea Farms, July 2018

But, it’s the Oysterville Sea Farms reference to selling “harvested seafood” that really flummoxes me.  I can’t imagine anyone in the greater Peninsula area or even in Pacific County — especially anyone associated with the Chinook Observer — not knowing that Sea Farms owner Dan Driscoll finally won his fight with the county and can now sell all manner of things (including the souvenirs and gift items erroneously credited to the Oysterville Store.)  Even some of my books are sold there!  Especially the ones about Oysterville!  Perhaps they could have been useful in fact-checking the article for Discovery Coast.  Perhaps a radical idea…



Welcome to beautiful downtown Oysterville!

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Bard Heim Barn c.1950

Paragraphs #9 and #10 of “Oysterville” in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast:

But all is well.  History has been saved, and it can be truthfully described as “living history.”

With Willapa Bay as its backdrop, the 80-acre Oysterville National Historic District and the areas immediately adjacent to it feels [sic] like a movie back lot version of a 19th -century coastal community.

I’m probably among the minority but I have never been to a movie backlot.  So I did a little research.  According to Wikipedia A backlot is an area behind or adjoining a movie studio,   containing permanent exterior buildings for outdoor scenes in filmmaking or television productions,  or space for temporary set construction. 

The Briscoe Residence c. 1890

The article went on to say: Some movie studios build a wide variety of sets on the backlot, which can be modified for different purposes as need requires and “dressed” to resemble any time period or look…  The shells, or façades, on a studio backlot are usually constructed with three sides and a roof, often missing the back wall and/or one of the side walls.  (Yep!  There are lots of houses in Oysterville exactly like that!  Not!)

But it was the final paragraph that struck me:  Though some studios like MGM and Fox sold vast tracts in the 1960s and 1970s, many historical sets continue to be demolished today, as there seems to be little interest in their preservation.

In that respect — the “little interest in their preservation” part — I do believe we are a lot like a historical set.  I well remember some years ago when Oysterville citizens went before our County Commissioners asking for tax relief which is allowed in many Washington Counties for designated historical properties to offset the monies spent to keep things authentically “historical.”

Tommy Nelson’s Cannery 1945

We were, of course, denied.  But it was Planning Director’s  remark that has stuck in my head all these years.  “Oh, protecting old houses isn’t really necessary.  We build historic houses every day. You just have to wait fifty years for them to be recognized.”  There are no words to describe my thoughts on that Trumpian viewpoint…

Wanted: Pied Piper of the Hamelin Variety

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

Pied Piper of Hamelin

Anyone who has had a long association with Oysterville knows that Tucker Wachsmuth is considered the Pied Piper of the village.  For thirty, or maybe forty-plus, years he has led  generations of children on scavenger hunts, whiffle ball tournaments, razor clam digs and midnight swims in the bay.  The kids and, now, their kids love him.

But it’s not the Pied Piper of Oysterville who has come to mind these last few days — not to my mind, anyway.  It is the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  You know the one — the man with the magical flute who rid the town of their rat problem and, when the mayor refused to pay him the agreed upon amount, tootled his magical tunes to lure the children from the village.  ‘Nary rat nor child left.

Rodent — Mouse or Rat?

Well, Oysterville is already bereft of children.  We occasionally have the visiting grandchild or two, but resident children have been few and far between for a generation or more.  But… we might have rats!!  Yes!  Rats!

Not long ago I blogged about the mouse problem we are having here at our house.  After advice from the professionals and some help from our friend Charlie Talbott, I actually caught two HUGE mice — both in the laundry room/pantry and both HUGE!  When I showed them to Charlie T. he said, “I think those are rats, not mice.”

Nyel has pooh-poohed that idea.  “No, they must be mice,” he said.  “Why would we have rats?”

Remy – in our house?

Why indeed?  And I’m pretty sure we have one more.  I saw him three times on Thursday.  He was out in the room between the laundry room and the garage, in the space we euphemistically call the “work room.”  He did, indeed, look like a rat.  He was size XXX Large and had a belly on him you wouldn’t believe.  I immediately thought of Remy — you know the star of the film “Ratatouille” who had the gourmet sensibilities.

So far, despite traps and glue pads, the rodent has eluded me.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe someone with a magical flute will show up to lure this fellow out of my house!  Eeeuuueee!

Where does this stuff come from?

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

At The Entrance to Oysterville

At the halfway mark in the article, “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town,” paragraph #7 states:  On Aug. 5, 1854, community leaders decided that Oysterville was a better name than Oyster Beach or Shell Beach to represent their town.  It grew to a population of about 800.

Again… bits and pieces of information cobbled together to make some sort of story.   As far as I can remember, the 1860 census reflected the all-time population highpoint for Oysterville:  231!  Ten years later, according to the federal census, there were 738 people living in all of Pacific County.  By then, of course, there were several other settlements in the County, but even assuming that every resident of Pacific County was living in Oysterville, it’s still doesn’t make the 800 people mentioned in paragraph #7.

H.A. Espy and Charlie Nelson, Oysterville Centennial 1954

And, as far as the “community leaders” naming the town…  Probably true.  In a way.  According to native son Charlie Nelson (1883-1978), “Oysterville” suggested by I.A. C;ark was only one of several names proposed and the men left it to Mother Stevens to make the final choice.  “…And a fitting one, too,”was Charlie’s comment.

I have yet to find anything definitive about the names Oyster Beach or Shell Beach — not where it was, not who lived there, not whether it had any connection whatsoever to the Peninsula or to Oysterville.  With so much written about Oysterville and its founding, it is curious to me why people continue to latch onto  undocumented “facts” (fake history?) to tell the story.  I sometimes feel it’s a deliberate slap at me and my family…  but why?    Nyel says, “Just another one of life’s little mysteries…”



At the crux of the matter… maybe.

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Old Oysterville Sign

I have arrived at Paragraph #6 in my (increasingly infrequent) commentary on the article in Discovery Coast titled “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town”:

By 1854, a community of several hundred, then called Oyster Beach, existed.  On April 12, 1854, I.A. Clark filed a 161-acre land claim that encompassed all of what is now the Oysteville National Historic District.

Hmmm.  I’ve seen a reference to “Oyster Beach” twice in my thirty plus years of research on Oysterville and its origins.  Both mentions have been in the Sou’wester , the quarterly magazine of the Pacific County Historical Society.  In the Summer 1975 issue in an article on early post offices in  Oregon Territory:  In a letter dated August 2, 1854 from Washington City, the Honorable Columbia Lancaster announced the post routes in the new Washington Territory, including “from Astoria to Chenook, Edmonton (John Edmonds Pickernell’s), Tarlit, Oyster Beach (an early name for Oysterville), Brigham City and the direct route to intersect the route from Olympia to Grays Harbor, 120 miles and back once a week .”  The second reference to Oyster Beach was three years later in the Winter 1978 issue of the Souwester and was a reprint of the same information about the early Oysterville (Oyster Beach) post office.

James Swan, One of the First Pacific County Historians

The only other contemporary information about Oysterville that I’m aware of (besides the statements by founders R.H. Espy and I.A. Clark) was written by James Swan in his book, The Northwest Coast or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory.  In January 1854, Swan took a trip to San Francisco, apparently to get out of the Northwest’s winter weather.  He returned in early June and traveled via the Peninsula on his way back to his home at Stony Point.  This is what he wrote: We reached a settlement some fifteen or twenty miles distant, called Oysterville, where quite a number of oystermen had collected during my absence to San Francisco.  

Although Swan traveled extensively around Shoalwater Bay during his stay here from 1852 to 1855, and although he mentions many early settlers as well as the only settlement on the bay at that time, Bruceport or Bruceville, he makes no mention of a place called Oyster Beach.

The rest of Paragraph #6 seems accurate as far as it goes.  Apparently, the land claim that Clark filed on April 12, 1854, was incomplete and had to be re-filed some years later.  However, it seems that Espy and Clark chose that April 12, 1854 date as the “founding” of Oysterville and over the years it has become known as the date they actually arrived here in their stolen canoe. (Well, they said “borrowed,” but that implies that it was returned to the graveyard where they found it and that’s one story I haven’t yet heard…)