Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

The Fustercluck Continues

Friday, June 16th, 2017

“Our” Forester (almost)

We have yet another temporary car – the third in 17 days.  This one is not a rental.  It is a loaner from Bud Clary’s Subaru dealership in Longview.  Through no fault of their own (as far as we can tell), the 2017 Forester that we bought and paid for on June 4th, is not yet ready for delivery.  There has been one phone call after another – mostly instigated by us with the query “What’s going on?  We haven’t heard from you about our car yet.”  We are not happy campers.

We’ve dealt with three different salesmen, have heard several different stories, many apologies and reasons (perhaps excuses is a better word) and, for my part anyway, patience has given way to extreme annoyance and, yes, a bit of impolite raised voicing.  To think that we may be locked into going there for maintenance for the duration of our warrantee gives me the heebie-jeebies.  In fact, I’m beginning to detest the drive to and from Longview…

The Loaner

The trouble seems to be of our own instigation (of course!).  The first time we went to look at the highly recommended Forester, I was disappointed that the model we were interested in did not come with a choice of upholstery fabric or colors.  We had decided on a red car and wanted black leather upholstery – not the pearl gray fabric it comes with.  “No problem,” we were told.  “Order the car with the standard fabric interior and (for a nominal fee) we’ll send it to the leather guys and they’ll change it out for you.”

Really?  Done and done.  Salesman Number Two’s estimated “two or three days” became “four or five” once we had signed all the bottom lines “and they probably don’t work on the weekend so it may be a few more.”  Then the leather guys were inordinately busy, so it would be another few days.  Yesterday was to be the day…

In Longview

The early morning phone call said they had the car “but you’ll never believe it.  They did it in the wrong color – pearl gray. They need to re-order the black. It says black right on the original paperwork.  I wrote it up myself,” said the voice of salesman number one.  “Why does this always happen to me?” he asked in a tone that approached wailing.

You!?” I thought.  “I’m pretty sure you aren’t the victim here.”  But I didn’t say so.  Instead I turned the phone over to Nyel who gracefully accepted their offer of a loaner.  We picked it up yesterday from Salesman Number Three who also offered to pick up said loaner and deliver our car when it is ready.  To Oysterville.  And we have every intention of accepting that offer, as well.  You betcha!

How great is that?

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Oil Refinery – Marcus Hook, PA – Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Well, there you have it!  We are right up there with Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations in the world who are not members of the Paris Climate Accord.  Part of the Prez’s plan to “Make America Great Again.”  As my former Principal at Ocean Park School used to say to kids who were having difficulty explaining something: “Help me to understand.”

Let’s see – we rank 14th world-wide in education, 33rd in internet download speeds, 24th in literacy, 3rd in human development, 54th in education expenditures, and 72nd and 85th, respectively in girls and boys going to grade school, and 26th in employment growth rate.  Wow! It would seem that we have a long way to go.  Of course, that depends on your definition of “great” I guess.  And, if we are joining Nicaragua and Syria in the matter of climate greatness, there is surely room to wonder.

The World View

The above statistics are from a website called “Ranking America” where there are many more fun facts to be found.  Check it out at  The author, Mark Rice, is Chair of American Studies at Fisher College in Rochester, New York.   About his information, he says:

Ranking America is a site for finding information about how the U.S. compares to other countries in a variety of categories. I make every effort to report the data accurately, and I welcome anyone pointing out whatever inadvertent mistakes I may make… Ranking America is also an exercise in absurdism, and I hope that some users of the site appreciate that side of it.

The Naked Truth?

I am inclined to think that the real “exercise in absurdism” is this weird experiment in making ourselves “great” that we seem to be committed to for the next almost-four years.  For instance, I’m not at all clear about the “again” part of Trump’s campaign slogan.  What is his base line?   When, exactly, did he think we were “great?”  How does our alignment with Nicaragua and Syria help get us back to that time?  And who else will we emulate in this rush to greatness?  Truly mind-boggling.

So… how about a horse?

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Recycling Tubs

Lined up in our garage are a number of big blue bins.  They aren’t labeled, but after years of use, we can toss the recycling items into the correct ones without thought.  Glass.  Plastic.  Paper. Aluminum.  They clot up my life.

And it’s not like the Big City.  No curbside service here in Oysterville.  Periodically, we load up a vehicle and head for the ‘Recycling Station’ in Nahcotta where we fling our collectibles into the proper containers – all too high for short people, but there you have it.

Another life-clogger-upper is the compost bin out by the erstwhile vegetable garden.  Ditto the tub of compostable garbage that’s on its way out of the kitchen, I think about that old TV commercial – “Life’s messy; clean it up.”  It doesn’t help my mood.

Compost Bin

And then there are all the critters that have gathered ‘round, inside and outside now that our consciousness has been raised about spraying and scattering and daubing poisons around and about.  I often think about that bit of science I learned way back when… “insects will eventually take over the world.”  It would happen in a heartbeat around here so we experiment with natural and organic and bio-degradable cure-alls that don’t work very well but entitle us to feel smug.  We are helping the planet.

Subaru Forester

All it takes, though, is a major mishap to throw our high environmental standards into a cocked hat!   We are in the market for a new car, having totaled our climate-friendly Prius-C – a vehicle we disliked from the get-go. Hard to get into (especially for Nyel); a bumpy, noisy ride; a vague feeling of being always vulnerable, especially on the freeway near gigantic log trucks and eighteen-wheelers.  When the airbags didn’t deploy the other day and we learned that you have to rear end something low enough to engage the sensors behind the bumper (say what???), we have just about decided to go rogue.

We Googled “safe car choices for seniors” and we are exploring the options presented.  Not a dual-fuel choice among ‘em.  Sorry, Al Gore.  I don’t know how many driving years we have left, but the planet is going to have to cut us a little slack.  At least driving-wise.

Pitching Hay — Oysterville, 1914

But that was yesterday.  Before the embarrassment of a President leaving the Paris Climate Accord because he thinks the entire climate change issue is a hoax.  What a complete giraffe!  Now I’m feeling uncertain about my options.  Whose safety?  Mine or Mother Earth’s?  The timing seems all wrong.  Will people think we agree with Trump’s idiocy?  Yikes!

For the record… Nyel is talking a lot about re-building my grandfather’s barn and getting a horse.  Lots of advantages, there.  Mowing – check! Fertilizer – check!  Some GPS features built in – as in knows the way home.  Stay tuned…

How can we help?

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Espy Lot

My thoughts are a bit of a jumble this morning.  Our early coffee conversation concerned our plan to go up to the cemetery this morning to clean up the Espy Lot – general tidying, picking up any recent blow-down, and cleaning off the accumulated moss and dirt on the gravestones there.  We talked about the tools we need and I checked our list against several online sites concerning care and preservation of old tombstones.  We began to gather our cleaning implements – spray bottles of clear water, natural-bristle brushes, non-metal scrapers and spatulas.

With my second cup of coffee, I checked out emails and FaceBook messages as I thought about my morning blog… But the day came to a screeching halt when I read our friend Erin Glenn’s entry written “14 hours ago.”  I reprint it here in its entirety:

Liberty and Justice for All ….

The propaganda on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website is appalling and their efforts to silence people from speaking out against these crimes against humanity is unbelievable. It is a disgrace to be an American right now and to live in this country, with such a horrible, horrible person governing our beautiful Nation. Another friend taken from our community today…

The person’s house was staked out, he was stalked and followed and then arrested. This is what ICE does when they do not have a warrant, when there is no official reason to arrest an immigrant. This person is in no way shape or form a threat to national security and is the father of four American children.

Internet Image

Suddenly, cleaning up our monuments to the dead seems like a rather useless endeavor.  The problems at our little cemetery pale in comparison to the terrifying troubles threatening friends and neighbors in our community.  How can we help?  Is there information to be found on the internet? What tools can we gather?  And where do we go?

My thoughts are a-jumble and all I can think to do is to contact Erin and other folks who might know better than I how to proceed.  What did my grandparents do back in 1942 when their friends and business associates, Ira and Jeff Murakami, who owned Eagle Rock Cannery, were interned (“relocated”) under FDR’s Executive Order 9066?  Clear back in 1935, my grandmother had written to her son Willard who was in New York:           

Jeff and Ira Murakam c. 1930s

As to the Japanese problem, most stand with the whites tho justice points clearly in the opposite direction…       We of course are in an uncomfortable situation.  No sentiment has broken directly upon us as yet but doubtless there is a lot of rumbling about our having leased to Eagle Rock…  The paper stated that Pa was going to try the case soon coming to court, but this thank goodness is not true.  He was asked by the Japanese to take their case (they have their own lawyers) but he excused himself on the ground of being “prejudiced.”

I hate it that history repeats itself.  I hate I that I feel helpless.  I hate it that this is happening

Anyone need Ford 8-N tractor parts?

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Nyel and the Ford 8N

Maybe it was the gray drizzle outside our windows this morning.  Or perhaps it was my teeny-tiny bit of smugness over having most of my ‘spring cleaning’ done.  Whatever the reason, our early ayem coffee discussion turned to the garage and the perennial chaos-of-the-workbench.

Mind you, I’m not pointing fingers.  My office has its own problems.  But, apparently, we haven’t yet found the appropriate carrot or stick to inspire me sufficiently.  I really hate sorting and filing… On the other hand, when it comes to Nyel’s bailiwick, there is the annual World’s Longest Garage Sale – a great motivator.  And it’s coming right up!  May 26-29, Memorial Day Weekend might be the perfect stimulus for a bit of intensive cleanup out in the don’t-look-right-or-left area of the house.

Memorial Day in Oysterville

I’m not sure how many years it’s been since we’ve had a garage sale at the end of May.  I think that Diane Buttrell’s fabulous Memorial Day Events plus the Oysterville Community Club’s Garage Sale at the Schoolhouse have taken precedence for that particular weekend.  And that may be the case this time around, too… But, meanwhile, the next ten days seem a goodly time to work on a serious cleanup mission.

“What do you have that we should be getting rid of?” I asked hopefully.  There usually is a simple, one-word answer to that question.  “Nothing.”  I wouldn’t call it hoarding, exactly – just an ongoing precaution against needing just this or that particular item.

Imagine my surprise when the answer to my question was, “Well, there’s that bumper and also a front tire and innertube for the 8-N.  All brand new.”

Garage Workbench – A few years and layers ago!

“For the tractor?” I couldn’t hide my amazement.  Nyel sold that old 8-N years ago – to the Methodist Retreat Center.  For parts, I think.  Why he has held onto the grill and tire is beyond me.  But… I didn’t ask.  “Also, my bike.”  I definitely didn’t ask on that one.  The bike is basically pristine-out-of-the-box.  Never ridden and, with Nyel’s current health problems, not likely to be.

None of the above will be helpful to that workbench problem.  But, as they say… baby steps.  And hope springs eternal!  Maybe a Fourth of July Sale?

Not by the fern on our chimney chim chim!

Monday, May 15th, 2017

1939 — Three Chimneys (and one rain barrel)

There used to be three but now there are only two chimneys at our house.  When you consider that we have five fireplaces, three in good working order, two chimneys do not seem to be an overabundance.  But, when it comes to repairing them, we might as well be talking restoration of the Sistine Chapel – no one is leaping up and down to do the work.

Long ago – probably fifty years now – the third chimney in the house was removed.  It had served two lovely little marble, coal-burning fireplaces – one in the ‘parlor’ and one in the bedroom above — but, as far as I know, they had not been used since my grandparents bought the house in 1902.  So, in the sixties, that chimney went away and the two remaining (and still used) chimneys were given a coat of stabilizing plaster which was painted green to match the house’s gingerbread.

Fern on Chimney

Two years ago, we noticed that a fern was beginning to grow out of the back side of the lower chimney!  Presumably, the plaster had cracked enough to give a foothold (or in this case, a spore hold) to a bracken-type fern and, also presumably, the situation would worsen if left to its own devices.  We contacted our friendly mason and were placed on his list.  And there we remain despite our occasional calls of inquiry.

Until recently, the fern has thrived.  Yesterday, though, I looked up there and there is nothing remaining but a blackened blob – or so it appears from my ground level vantage point.  I assume whatever nutrients were to be gained from that tenuous foothold in the cracked plaster have been depleted.  Our patience with that wait-list is depleted as well.  Where is Dick VanDyke when we need him?

Sootbuster at Work, 2015

I hasten to say, however, that we have a fabulous chimney sweep who keeps us soot-free and safe from chimney fires on a yearly basis.  But, like  VanDyke’s character Bert in Disney’s “Mary Poppins” film, our sootbuster specializes in the interior not the exterior of chimneys.   So, it’s back to a modern-day Michelangelo or someone who does plasterwork as well as painting in high places.  So far, our queries have resulted in “not by the fern on your chimney chim chim” sorts of responses.  Has our poor old house outlived the workmen who can (or are willing to) do the job?   We hope not!

Out of the Loop

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

It was a quiet Friday Night at our house.  Only Tucker and Carol came over – neighbors bearing a bowl of delicious peanuts.  We offered “jumbo shrimp” (The ultimate oxymoron. Why aren’t they called prawns anymore?) and beverages, and the four of us munched our way through a rare opportunity for a companionable visit.  Our topics ranged from family news to the world situation and we speculated that most of our “regulars” were at the Town Hall Meeting in Long Beach.

I had actually learned through email and Facebook messaging that several friends were ‘abandoning’ us for the chance to attend a Democratic Town Hall with Jaime Herrera-Buetler – which sounded like another oxymoron to me.  I’m mildly interested in knowing if Rep. H-B appeared in person or if this was a video version of her telephone town hall the night beforehand.  We had received a phone call asking us to participate in that one, but we had declined.

I think we are burned out on the political scene for a while.  From the grass roots level right up through the world (and maybe interplanetary) situation, we are feeling out-of-synch and out-of-sorts.  And before the do-gooders and activists and rabble-rousers remind us of all manner of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘don’t give ups’ let me say, “Been there.  Done that.  And probably before you were born.”

It’s not that I’m against staying informed.  Far from it.  But in this day and age I think I can manage much of the information-gatheriing from the comfort of my rocking chair.  I’m feeling like all those signs and banners and meetings and marches are up to others now.  I’d love to think that I’ve earned the right to be consulted for my wisdom but, of course, now that I’ve reached my octogenarian years, my ‘wisdom’ includes the knowledge that no one really gives a fig about it.  I wonder if that’s always been so.  Just lip service to reinforce the idea that experience and longevity have some value.

When in doubt, consult Google…  “influential elders in American history” I wrote.  Nothing substantive.  Just information about care for the elderly (say what?) or about influential Americans like George Washington who died when he was 67 (and don’t tell me that was ‘elderly’ then; many of my own ancestors from that time period lived into their 80s).  Nothing about revered little old ladies dispensing the answers to life’s problems…

So, probably this “wisdom of the elders” is just another hoax to keep us old ducks hoping and hopping.  Why am I not surprised?

Well, now I’ve done it!

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

Garden Helper

Yesterday we were back to cold, miserable, pouring down weather after two glorious days of sunshine.  I can’t say it was really warm outside on those back-to-back days – not California warm.  But it was pleasant enough for this fair-weather gardener to spend several hours getting rid of the buttercups and daylilies and the numerous other unwanteds and unknowns.  The soil was just the right consistency and, for a few minutes, I totally lost my mind.

Somehow, I decided that it must be time to plant nasturtiums.  Wrong!  But I did it, not giving thought to first soaking the seeds in warm water for twenty-four hours or, even worse, not waiting for the soil temperature to reach the recommended 70°.  The contents of four seed packets were probably totally wasted.  What an idiot.  I must have thought that the garden was experiencing some sort of greenhouse effect from this two-day surge of sunshine.

Last Year’s ‘Mastershalums’

It wasn’t until the middle of the night that I woke up with a start think about Winnie the Pooh and mastershalums and what I had done.  The Pooh Bear might not have gotten the nasturtium name quite right, but he probably was more patient about planting them.  And when he did, he was totally confident about what would result:  “…I planted it, and I’m going to have mastershalums all over the front door.”  I wish I could say the same.

              A few minutes after I had determined that I was an idiot and had wondered how I could get a handle on the soil temperature in our south garden, I did what any computer-savvy gardening simpleton would do.  I Googled soil temperatures in Washington State and found that I had probably tucked those poor little seeds into a 40° garden bed.  I am so sorry.  I have all sorts of fanciful solutions – heat strips, hot water baths, a line of sunlamps – none of which is going to happen.

Soil Map

The good news is I now know where to find out how the soil temperature is coming along.  And I also know that Kathleen Sayce will tell me an even better way — maybe I can simply stick a thermometer right into the dirt.  Mostly though, I probably need to just wait patiently.  Or maybe plant something that isn’t so fussy.  Primroses are always good.  Until the deer notice

I Think I’m Unravelling

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Raggedy Ann

It occurs to me that I’m probably unravelling.  Not in the metaphorical sense of losing my mind, but in the absolutely literal sense of coming to pieces bit by bit.  Not a finger here and a toe there, though.  I’m coming apart as if I were stuffed with cotton batting and had somehow sprung a leak.

No one ever mentioned it to me when I was growing up.  No doctor has ever told me that my innards were different from those of other people.  Maybe that they were more like Raggedy Ann’s than Margaret O’Brien’s.  But, how else is there to explain the little white bits and pieces I seem to strew about without even realizing it?

Margaret O’Brien

I probably wouldn’t notice even now were it not for our wall-to-wall cranberry carpet.  Acres of cranberry color underfoot.  Since we seem to know a lot of people who enjoy spilling red wine now and again, we feel that it has served us well these last twenty-five years.  But now that I’m leaving stray snippets of myself from one end of the house to another, I’m becoming disenchanted with its color.  White on cranberry is just too obvious.

Before you jump to the conclusion that this problem is but a minor and ‘normal’ scattering of lint, perhaps caught on my clothing or left behind by visitors, let me assure you that I’ve been studying the problem for some time.  Even when I am in the house by myself, even on the rare occasions that I gallop around naked as a jaybird on a freshly vacuumed carpet, the lint appears.  And it’s getting worse.

Poised for Pursuit

I’m considering a new floor covering.  Not that I think the problem will be solved, exactly.  But I seem to remember that when a carpet is new, it more or less repels the detritus.  Perhaps we should consider a different color.  Or a different texture.  But, if in fact, I’m just fraying at a faster pace, it might be wiser to invest in a new vacuuming system.

Mostly, I wonder if this condition is just one more example of the “secrets of old age” that my mother alluded to but never explained…

A Point to Ponder

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

“If the County is so damned broke, why are they continuing to pursue Dan Driscoll and Oysterville Sea Farms?  How much drain is their current court appeal on the county?”

We ‘ve been asked that question many times since last week’s banner headline in the Chinook Observer:  Money cliff nears for Pacific County with the sub-head Top official: Worst situation in her 30-year career.  I imagine there will be some letters to the editor in today’s paper asking the same questions.  I hope so.

We’ve certainly been pondering that question ourselves.  But not out loud to anyone who could give us an answer.  We gave up on that long ago.  There is undoubtedly some cosmic law regarding perfectly intelligent, well-meaning people saying one thing when they run for office and another as soon as they are sworn in.  Those of us who ask questions are suddenly ‘outsiders’ and don’t understand the full implications yada yada yada.

Pacific County Courthouse

Personal Privacy vs Full Disclosure?  Maybe something like that.  Whatever the reason/excuse/pretext is, it seems endemic to public officials and public employees in general to begin their jobs with good intentions and end up giving us folks outside the loop answers in governmental gobbledygook.  Like ‘these dollars’ can only be used for ‘this purpose’ or that the State makes increasing demands of Counties without commensurate financial compensation.

But I don’t think the Oysterville Sea Farms situation comes under those sorts of budget constraints.  Nope.  This is a home-grown affair and, as I see it, it’s sucking up a lot of our tax dollars.   Money that could go toward keeping staff positions that may otherwise be threatened with layoffs.  It seems a no-brainer for the County to drop their appeal and save the money

Dan Driscoll

As a result of this blog, I’ll likely hear from both sides of the OSF equation.  I hope not. We’ve had ten long years to listen to the pros and cons. We’re tired of the bureaucratic answers.  In fact, we’re tired of the bureaucracy – the entire convoluted process.  And we are dead tired of wondering how much money the County has spent on this unpopular pursuit of one of our most popular Oysterville residents.

Whatever happened to the of, by and for the people?  You’d think in a County the size of ours, we could get it right.  But, no.  We ‘outsiders’ seem destined to just keep pondering…