Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Inadvertently Part of A Non-Statistic?

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

A Pilgrims hat Thanksgiving cartoon turkey holding a Black Friday Sale sign

It was a smallish Friday Night Gathering.  Some of our “regulars” were out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.   Some might have been busy with leftover turkey and family.  As it was, there were eight of us — four couples, only one of whom  mentioned  that they had been shopping the Black Friday sales.

This morning my Google news feed was full of yesterday’s expected shopping statistics.  They were broken down by generation. According to the surveys,  the biggest group of buyers would be the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and expected to average $626.35 in spending per person.  Next, Generation X ( 1965-1976)   ) averaging $459.72, and coming in third, the millenials (1977-1995) at $252.11 each!

With my 1936 birthdate, I used to be called a “Depression Baby” and Nyel, born in 1943, was known as a “War Baby.”  Now we have apparently been folded into a category called “Traditionalists” or “The Silent Generation” which includes everyone born before 1945.  “The Center for GenerationalKinetics” (say what?) gave no buying statistics for us.

Well… the numbers seemed to all fit the informal information I gleaned from last night’s visitors.  The one couple who went shopping (or at least talked about it) includes a Baby Boomer.  I think the rest of us fall into the Traditionalist/Silent category.

However, as I thought it over… I believe Nyel actually did do some online shopping yesterday.  He mentioned in the morning that we had a book waiting at the library — one I had mentioned to him the other day, written by a friend.  “What?!  I was suggesting that as a Christmas gift.  I have all his other books and want to have this one, too.”  I think Nyel immediately ordered said book online.  I didn’t ask.  Christmas is a time for secrets, after all.

I can’t help wondering if that possible online purchase makes us fall within the Black Friday Shoppers — you know, the ones for whom no statistics are given.  It’s about all the contribution to America’s Black Friday shopping surfeit that I’m willing to make.  (Probably totally unpatriotic of me.)  But I’m still choking over the nine billion dollars in Cyber Monday sales predicted in last night’s news.  Is there a Generation Glut?

Not The Big Brother I’d Hoped For

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Living Nightmare

I’ve just about had it with scams and robocalls and junk mail.  I’m tired of my cell phone ringing in the middle of the night and thinking OMG what if it’s one of the kids.  I don’t want any more pleas from my university or someone else’s favorite good cause hoping for my money.  I’m tired of telling live voices not to call again (they always do) and hanging up on the robots and deleting the personalized impersonal emails.  And I’m beginning to get tired of my own FB friends urging me to adopt their good causes.

What is it about these callers and mailers and users of the internet that make them think that I’m not intelligent enough to know which charities I might be interested in — IF I had the where-with-all.  Which I don’t.  Which, I daresay if they are smart enough to get in touch with me, they should know — from my buying habits if not from my bank account (god forbid) — that “Discretionary Income” is not my middle name.  I feel like Big Brother has taken on a capitalistic persona to the max.

Our House In Alameda

When I was five and we first moved to Alameda, we lived next door to a family who rented Mrs. Musso’s upstairs apartment.  They had a boy about my own age  — maybe his name was Jimmy — and I remember talking to him through our upstairs windows.  For some reason, I began telling people that he was my brother.

Did he and I decide together upon this relationship?  I don’t remember.  I do know that, as an only child, I very much wanted a brother — an older one who would pave the way for me.  I don’t think Jimmy would have filled the bill, but before we could put it to the test my mother had a talk with me (about truthfulness) and Jimmy and his family moved away.  I always wondered (with a five-year-old’s logic) if my mother had a talk with Jimmy, too.

Sydney, 1941

I don’t think their moving was related to my story-telling, but I do know that every time I hear the words “Big Brother is Watching” I think of that five-year-old’s fantasy and of how chagrined I felt when I was caught out by my mother. I also connect the Big Brother syndrome to those persistent communications from people I don’t know.   (Strangely, I never relate them to George Orwell or his book 1984.) But, I do wish my mom was still around to have a talk, not with me this time, but with Big Brother.  And truthfulness.  Maybe he would move away.

The Gift of Time

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Schoolhouse Clock

Somewhere along the line during the years I was teaching — (1962-2001) — it became unpopular to have a child repeat a grade.  Kindergarten parents, especially, were appalled that their child might “fail” kindergarten.  “Failure” implied some sort of inability to learn or to fit in with peers — unthinkable!  Educators began talking about providing “the gift of time” — which sounded a lot better, somehow, than “repeating a grade.”

I often wondered how my great-grandmother would have thought about that “gift of time.”  She had been a school teacher right here in Oysterville but, of course in those days, had to give up that occupation when she married my great-grandfather.  However, she taught all seven of her children to read and write, instructing them at home until they were eight or nine years old.  I imagine that “gift of time” was built right into doing chores, learning how to take responsibility, working with others and building moral character.  All my great aunts and uncles attended college in the 1890s and 1900s, had successful careers (even the women until they married) and raised their families with love and firmness.

I’m not sure what got me off on this rant — old lady ramblings, I guess.  I actually began this blog with the thought that my own days never have enough time.  Especially enough time to write.  Then I had the irreverent thought that it’s too bad I’m not a poet.  Surely, a poem does not take as long to write as a full-blown story or article.  Or maybe it does…  My poet friends will no doubt weigh in and take me to task.

Einstein was right — time is relative.  For a five year old, a year is a very long time.  To us elders, a year speeds by before we can get our shoes on.  But no matter which end of life’s continuum we find ourselves straddling, as I see it a gift of time is always welcome.



Virtual Complexities of Fake Shopping

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

The Fashionista

Last Friday night, someone said, “Oh, I see you are wearing Nyel’s vest.”  Busted!  It’s not my best look, but who cares when it’s just me and my true love trying to keep warm on a chilly evening?  This time, though, I forgot to change out of the Xtra-Lg-almost-knee-length-paint-spattered-humongously-fluffy- and-incredibly-comfy-hand-me-down.

Nyel has had two vests since this one and, though I’ve tried several times to get a down vest of my own, I’ve never found one as perfect.  I had, however, recently, tried again.  Eddie Bauer.  On line.  The ladies’ version of Nyel’s recent “dress-up” vest.  It had been a while since my fake shopping spree (if you call ordering one thing a spree), so later when our guests had gone, I went online to see what was happening.

I was amazed to find that I had placed my order on October 15th (time flies!).  When I went to the handy-dandy TRACK YOUR ORDER button, I found that it still said:  Estimated Delivery: Delivery date details will be available once they are provided by the carrier.  I gave it a few more days (maybe it was back-ordered, but you’d think they’d say so…)  Finally, last Wednesday I called Eddie Bauer Customer Service.

The Bookvendor 1964-2001

Then it got complicated.  The nice lady at the end of the line said (after considerable searching) that the order had been shipped to the Bookvendor address.  Say what?!  I tried to stay calm as I told her that we hadn’t been available at that address since 2001 and, in fact, the business had closed in 2001 and no longer existed.  She did some more searching and conceded that I had, indeed, placed other orders to Eddie Bauer since that time and they had gone to my Oysterville address.  She didn’t know what had happened…

However, she removed the charges from my credit card (funny how they had gotten that part right) and placed a new order.  “I’ve put it on  expedited delivery.  The package will arrive Friday afternoon.”  Sadly, Friday came and went and no package from Eddie Bauer.  Tomorrow a new Friday will roll around.  I’ll try to remember to deep-six Nyel’s comfy old vest lest my usual high fashion standard dips below the line once again.

Maybe Today

Meanwhile, I think another call to EB’s Customer Service Department is in order.  It would have been quicker and easier to go into the big city and shop.  Unfortunately, that’s not a reality for me right now…  virtually impossible, you might say.

Popping Up Like Toast

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

My thoughts exactly!

Our early-morning-over-coffee discussion today deviated a little from the “normal.”  Maybe it was the extra hour of sleep that came with the changeover to Standard Time.  Or maybe not.  Certainly, we didn’t “pop up like toast” as Nyel used to describe my method of greeting the day when I was working.  Twenty years of retirement have resulted in a more leisurely approach to the wake-up alarm.

No… I can’t really account for the reason we began to talk about a line in the Toby Keith song, “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”
Ask yourself how old you’d be

If you didn’t know the day you were born

We grappled with the concept for a while and concluded that we have no idea how to answer that question.  It’s not like most of us ever have stopped along the way and said, “Oh!  So this is how it feels to be sixteen!  Or forty-two or seventy-six!”  When I’m extra tired, feel achy or lacking in stamina, I’m much more inclined to wonder if I’m coming down with something — not thinking about my 1936 birth date.

Twyla Tharp, 2015

Our conversation turned to a recent PBS News interview with the amazing dancer/choreographer/author Twyla Tharp.  She was talking about aging and urged us all to stand straight, breathe deeply, and stride on out — not to hunch over and diminish ourselves by standing shorter and walking with cautious, shuffling steps.   Not exactly in those words — but that’s what I got out of her discussion.

Tharp is seventy-eight.  She spoke at my son Charlie’s graduation from California Institute of the Arts in 1978.  I remember thinking that she was a great choice for commencement speaker — “edgy,” I thought,  as was the entire atmosphere of Cal Arts.  I don’t remember her words — only that she received an Honorary Degree at the ceremony that year and that she seemed the same age as the graduates she was addressing.

Good Morning!

But, back to those lyrics.  They actually say the day you were born — not the date.  I was born on a Friday and, as we all learned from Mother Goose:  “Friday’s child is loving and giving.”  If I didn’t know I was born on a Friday — heck even knowing the day — that’s a far cry from my perception of myself!  But, no matter.   I know what those Toby Keith lyrics mean and I couldn’t have expressed the ideas better myself!

Heady thoughts for five in the morning — even with that extra hour of shut-eye.  Time for another cup of coffee, I say.

One by One — We hear all too slowly.

Friday, November 1st, 2019

Power Lines in California

Gradually, our California friends and loved ones are weighing in.  Marta and Charlie, who live in the northern and  southern parts off the state, respectively, have been in touch right along, of course.  Neither is close to the fire zone but Marta has had no power for several days.  She has nothing kind or positive to say about PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) — ‘nor does anyone else, for that matter.

Nan, my friend since E Street Grammar School Days in San Rafael wrote yesterday:    We were able to return home last night; cat in tow. Megan took care of us….wearing sweat shirts and hats; no heat, but hopefully P. G. and E will restore power this morning. We are grateful for all that we have; people who care for us…  

I’ve not yet heard from Bette, my friend from San Rafael High School journalism classes.  She’s in Danville and from what I can tell online, their power was turned off Saturday, Oct. 26th but was  back on again by 2:00 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28th.

Kincaide Fire in Northern California

‘Nor have we heard from Dayton and Jeanne, friends  from my teaching days in Hayward Unified School District.  I think they are probably off on a cruise — that’s their retirement program.  But it doesn’t look like Hayward has had any power outages and I’m pretty sure they aren’t in the path of a fire.

As for people in the fire zone — no word thus far.   We pray for long-time friends Averil and John in the city of Sonoma and for the Chmieleskis in Vacaville.  We hope they and their loved ones are safe and that their properties have escaped damage.

Perhaps it’s just that the fires are so horrific that the attention seems to be focused on the power outages, rather than the fires, themselves.  I’ve been a bit surprised at how upset people have been at PG&E — no one has anything good to say about these planned outages.  Plus, the  headlines are dramatic in the extreme.  Days of terrifying darkness, cold and hunger amid PG&E’s sweeping power blackouts said one.  For the Most Vulnerable, California Blackouts ‘Can Be Life or Death’ said another.  It seems to me that such reporting only fans the flames, so to speak.

Santa Clarita in Southern California

Maybe because our power is always “iffy” in winter…  Maybe because we know our outages aren’t “on purpose”… Maybe because we have emergency food and water stashes in case of  tsunami… Maybe because we know the neighbors who might need help…  I think our local experiences with power outages aren’t so scary as what I’m hearing from California.  Or maybe it’s just that we’ve never forgotten how to cope.  As in… doesn’t everyone have a flashlight handy?

One by one.  Please, please may they keep calling.



Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Happy Halloween!

Ghosts and goblins and witches, oh my!  And so the holiday season begins!  During my childhood, Halloween marked the start of the most exciting time of year!  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — Boom! Boom! Boom!  All in a row!  What could possibly be better?

Costumes and trick-or-treating and apple-bobbing!  Halloween was definitely my favorite!

Turkey dinner and cousins and seldom seen family members gathered once again around the table!  Thanksgiving was definitely my favorite!

Trick or Treat?

Curling ribbon and Christmas trees and secrets and Santa Claus!  Christmas was most definitely the best of all!

The darkest days of the year were punctuated by excitement for three months in a row.  What could be better!

Then came the parenting years and then the primary teaching years and the excitement always had an overlay of planning and responsibilities and… exhaustion!  But the anticipation and excitement of the little ones was still the best part.

And now?  Who’da thunk that Oysterville would have ‘nary a child in residence?  Not a single costumed child to show up at our door.  It’s a lot like living in a retirement community — a circumstance I always hoped would never be part of my old age.  Our bowl of treats is ready, though…  just in case.  And there’s always Mrs. Crouch somewhere just out of sight.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

The End of An Era

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

“It’s a disaster for the community,” our friend Mike said this morning.  Mike lives north of Seattle.  He has a place here on the Peninsula that he gets to infrequently — especially at this time of year.  And, when he says “community,” he’s referring to the entire Peninsula and maybe even a bit beyond.

What he was talking about today was the closing of Bailey’s Cafe in Nahcotta.  In the short time that we’ve known  — we learned of it on the 10th; the last day was the 13th — we’ve heard the same outcry over and over again.  “The end of an era!”  “It won’t be the same without Jayne’s.”

Jayne Bailey

And in answer to my own lament, Jayne wrote: It happened quickly, going in circles, trying to be out by end of month.  We will take a couple of months to re evaluate.  Thanks for the thoughts..its been bittersweet…so many much hard work.

Our  community, of course,  includes all the part-timers and visitors and incidental tourists who have “discovered” and “adopted” Bailey Cafe over the years and have felt about it as if it existed for them, personally.  Yes!  We all know the feeling.  I don’t think we have experienced such group distress since Nanci and Jimella sold the Ark back in 2003.

Jayne opened her cafe next to the Nahcotta Post Office three years later — in 2006.  It filled a huge void at the North End — an emptiness food-wise we hadn’t even known existed.  There are more eating places now… but no place quite like Bailey’s Cafe.  I’ve read and re-read the note she sent — “re-evaluate” stands out.  Is that a hint that there might be a new incarnation?  We can but hope.


On Its Way Out

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Hot Off The Press!

So skinny.  Just a shadow of its former self.  There is no question in my mind that it won’t be around much longer.  The telephone book, like all the other old-fashioned, out-dated communication accoutrements, is on its way out.

The latest edition of Century Link’s Pacific County telephone directory is not quite brochure-size… but close.  Like last year’s book, it includes both the 360 and 564 area codes but, even so… Actually, there are two more white pages.  It’s the yellow pages that have disappeared — from 78 last year to 62 this year.  Probably the fault of web pages and social media and internet advertising in general.  Gone are the days when our automatic go-to option was the yellow pages.

My first reaction to the wimpy book in my mailbox was, “Oh, of course.  Everyone is giving up their landlines. Cell phones are eliminating telephone directories!”  But… there are actually more white pages, so maybe landlines are holding their own.  For now.

Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo

I did notice that there is one additional listing for the Ocean Beach Hospital. Fifteen this year as opposed to fourteen last year.  All  identical  listings, each with a different number.  It seems obvious that each number is for a different hospital department but, unless you have them all sorted and memorized, how in the world does the directory help?  On the other hand… I remember a few years back when the hospital wasn’t listed in the white pages at all.  Nor in the yellow pages.  Nor in the first page listing of emergency numbers!  Go figure.

I went on a brief search for my stash of old phone books — the ones put out by Carlton Appelo and Wahkiakum West Telephone Company back in the day.  They always included a bit of history about the communities in the area — facts and lore you wouldn’t necessarily run across elsewhere.  Unfortunately, I came up empty-handed, but I know those books are tucked away somewhere.  Even when I find them, they won’t be of much use telephone-wise.  But neither is this wimpy current one.


My Great Aunt Dora and Me… After Eighty

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Dora Espy Wilson, c. 1951

My Great Aunt Dora did two notable things once she reached eighty.  She went on her first-ever roller coaster ride and she took the S. S. Lurline to Hawaii.  I thought about that yesterday when I was doing something for the first time ever at the age of almost eighty-four.  Not so glamorous or exciting — but a first, never-the-less: I’m helping Nyel clean out our garage.

So far in my lifetime, garages have been the bailiwick of the men of the family — my father and my husbands, mostly.  When I did have a small cottage with garage to myself, it contained the water heater and, sometimes, my car.  There definitely was not a work bench or a wall of tools or stacks of lumber that “might come in handy.”  There could have been shelves for storage but I’m not sure.

Our garage serves many purposes.  It almost always houses the car; it shelters the cannon in winter; its shelves and corners and rafters all store things we just can’t get rid of; and it is the repository of many unfinished projects of Nyel’s.  Like a dozen or so duck decoys waiting to be painted…  Not that I don’t have unfinished projects.  Mine just happen to be in my computer.

Don’t look up!

When things get out of hand and it becomes doubtful that the car can find adequate space, Nyel goes on a cleaning spree.  Or he used to.  Now, he has to put up with me to do the lifting, shoving, climbing, pulling — all requirements of clean-out.  Plus, he has to put up with my  “why” questions.  Like “why do we need four large boxes of jelly glasses and rings?”    And my comments: “I’m certainly not going to be making jams or jellies and in forty years I haven’t seen you do any of that either.”  Well, he did make plum jam.  Once.  Twenty years or so ago.

Invariably we get into the saving versus hoarding discussion.  We both are big on saving for sentimental or historical reasons.  There is no question about keeping the box labeled “Horseshoes, Old” that dates back to the days when everyone in my mother’s family had his or her own horse.  Plus there were the work horses on my grandfather’s dairy farm which probably accounts for the box marked “Horse Collar.”


But there are things that are beginning to call less adamantly and, perhaps, are beginning to moulder and rot.  Old doll parts and doll clothes from my mother’s generation.  Two (count ’em, two) rusted old griddles that weigh a ton.  “But our stove has a a griddle…” said I..  “You never know when you’ll have a big crowd in for pancakes…” said he.  And so it goes and will probably continue on throughout the winter.

And what about things like jars of kitty litter for using in the event of spills during an oil change?  Like that’s going to happen soon…  Or how about the work bench?  Will we ever find it under all that “stuff?”  The scary part is that Nyel knows where everything is and why it’s there and how long he’s had it and what he’ll use it for.  YIKES!

Work Bench!

I never did ask Aunt Dora if she enjoyed her after-eighty-escapades. I’m pretty sure she would have been enthusiastic about both of them.  I’m not so sure about this after-eighty adventure of my own.  Ask me a year from now.