Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

All Around The Bay To Get Half Way Home

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Meanwhile… in Sequim on January 15th

When the Pacific County Health Department voice asked if we would be willing to go to South Bend for our Covid-19 vaccination, we said “Sure.”  After all what’s an hour and ten minute drive (56.1 miles) after ten months of sheltering?  It’s not that I’m crazy about that drive around the bay.  But we are hardly in a position to negotiate.

I don’t know how far it is as the crow flies.  I remember when the USPO Department was last threatening to close down Oysterville’s post office and they suggested Bay Center as an alternative to us.  They said it was only 6.4 miles away.  Well… yeah!  As the crow flies.  More like 46.8 miles by road.  We thought briefly of going into the carrier pigeon business to supply mail delivery to the town.  Fortunately we didn’t have to.

I’m not quite sure why we need to go clear to South Bend for our vaccine.  Others we know are getting theirs (or did yesterday and the day before) at the County Offices in Long Beach.  They must have run out of vaccine for the beach,  but wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to bring an additional supply this way instead of having all of us old folks clotting up the roads going that way?  (Oh.  I guess I didn’t mention that although the time to get to South Bend should take under an hour and a quarter, it usually takes me about an hour and a half.  I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to all those curves around the bay…)  I wonder how many of us old ducks will be going that way today?

From “Private Snafu” WW II Cartoon Series by Warner Brothers

But… never mind.  We’ll shortly be on our way.  Once we get this first shot, we’ll be halfway home, so to speak, with the second one scheduled in just four weeks.  Also in South Bend.  I do hope that all the other Phase B-1 folks have managed to get scheduled by now.  I hope they are not still on the endless round of dial-hangup-redial.  It’s a better system than some — as in Sequim’s announcement to their 70-amd-over population, “Just come on down!”  I think the old WW II slogan SNAFU is probably in order regarding the distribution confusion, not just here but everywhere.  You remember… Situation Normal All F*cked Up.  Just sayin’…

Background Noise

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

It’s an ongoing discussion in our house — not an argument, exactly — but a disagreement we return to periodically, even knowing that there’s no solution.  It’s one of the less important factors in the way each of us is wired — one of those “opposites attract” kinds of things, maybe.  But who knew?

Nyel is one of those people who wants the radio playing all day long.  I don’t think it really matters to him if he is in the room or not.  He is not what you would call “an active listener” — at least not most of the time.  When I catch a snippet of something and want to know more, my beloved husband of about 1/3 of a century just looks at me as if I’ve recently arrived from Mars.  He has no idea how to answer.  He hasn’t been listening.  But godforbid I should turn that radio off.

I, on the other hand, can’t bear background anything.  Voices or music or static — I need to deal with it.  I am compelled to listen, maybe even to take notes or, if it offends, turn it off.  Pull the plug.  Whatever.  And, being the sort of person that I am, I can’t concentrate on two things at once.  No way.

I used to think that my brain was less able than other people’s as in my college roommates who wanted music playing while they studied.  I retreated to the library.  I always thought that they could do two things at once and I was, somehow, not as clever.  Later, when I began teaching, some of my colleagues played “background music” while kids were doing math problems or reading silently. The theory was that it helped them concentrate.  I was always glad I hadn’t had teachers like that.

But, more recently, when Nyel and I have discussed the “radio-always-on problem,” I’m thinking that I gave my roommates and others way too much credit.  Nine times out of ten Nyel has NO concept about what the radio has been spewing forth.  None.  As in nada.   “So why is it on?” I always end up asking.  There apparently is no answer except maybe the radio serves different purposes for different folks.  Given ten minutes of listening, Nyel is likely to be dozing in his chair.  Me… usually a dozen questions forming, most of which will never get answers or even be remembered…  Oh well.

Poised For The Next Step

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

The Next Step

I wonder how many of us are ready in Pacific County?   Presumably, those of us over 70 are next in line to receive the vaccine — the “B-1 Group” according to recent e-mail information we received.  And received. And received.  It was not made clear how we will be notified as to where and when to offer our arms.  But in our household, we are more than ready.  I imagine there are many, many all over the County who are ready to take that next step.

Meanwhile, we wait.  I’m not really certain what it is that we are waiting for.  Perhaps for authorization to come from on high.  Or, perhaps for more vaccine.  According to Wednesday’s paper:  Some 1,175 doses have been distributed to health facilities in Pacific County so far.  Ocean Beach Hospital initially received 975 does of Pfizer’s vaccine several weeks ago, but [Katie] Lindstrom said 500 of the doses have since been transferred to an out-of-county provider because there aren’t enough Phase 1a-eligible people in the county to use up all of the doses.

For you…?

SAY WHAT?  Now that’s something we aren’t hearing in the news very often!  Mostly the lament is that states and counties and health facilities are not getting what they need.  Wow!  Leave it to Pacific County to get too much and then to give it away!  Makes our county look pretty good, eh?  But actually, I might rather have a shot in my arm than a feather in my cap.

I’m sure there are rules.  Layers and layers of them.  Bureaucracy to a fault.  God forbid someone gets vaccinated before their category comes up and it’s their turn.  I wonder how many B-1 folks in Pacific  County might contract the virus while they are waiting.  While 500 doses are going elsewhere.  The mind boggles.

Back In The Day

Meanwhile… no one has said how we B-1 folks will be told it’s our turn.  Or where to go.  I remember taking my year-old son to a school gymnasium in Redwood City where table after table was set up with sugar cubes in little cups.  The first go-round of the polio vaccine.   That was in 1957.  I don’t remember any anxiety about next steps then.  But we were all a lot younger, too.  We hadn’t even taken that first step for mankind, so perhaps the shoe was right where it needed to be in the first place.  Let’s hope that’s the case now, as well.

Maybe we’ve got it bassackward.

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Sydney with Second Grade Student, Southgate School,1962

This morning I heard a reporter on NPR say (as she was introducing the next guest):  “…but what should teachers be saying to children?”  She was talking about the events of last Wednesday at the capitol — about blame and accountability and forgiveness and, mostly, about what comes next.  I may not have her question quite right.  The moment I heard her words, my hackles went up and interfered with my hearing.

Which teachers?  Which children?  I hope not the youngest of our learners — not the five-to eight-year-olds.  I do believe that they are the most reasonable people on the planet.  I believe that we should turn that reporter’s question around and ask, “What do our youngest learners have to tell us concerning next steps?”

Of all the people I’ve dealt with over the years, it has invariably been the little children who are the best problem solvers.  They know about rules and about people in charge and about feeling inadequate.  They know about bullies and liars and cheaters.  And they know about consequences.  Given time to get the facts and understand a playground problem, and given encouragement to find a solution, kids are amazing.

On almost every one of the 7,000 (plus or minus) days I spent teaching “little kids,” we had a class meeting.  It was a time that we shared neat stuff, gave our news-of-the-day, asked for help with a “situation” and, sometimes, ratted out someone who we just couldn’t find a way to deal with on our own.  Class meetings were a safe space and it was where the playing field was equal.  It was where we built trust and tried hard to make plans for a better recess next time, a better day tomorrow.

So, Ms. Reporter, let’s not worry about what to “tell” the kids.  Maybe a better plan would be to listen to their take on things.  Or maybe we should stop all the pontificating and finger-pointing and second-guessing.  Maybe we should  just have a class meeting among ourselves.


“Bogan! Bogan!” Out of the mouths of…

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Charlie and Friend, 1957

Right at this moment, I’m not quite sure which most accurately symbolizes the status of our democracy — the insurrectionist mob that stormed the capitol on Wednesday or the endless blah-blah-blah of our lawmakers in Congress or the disarray of the executive branch– as in how many confirmed cabinet members do we have right now anyway?

Two days ago I declared on this blog, “There are no words” and posted only pictures which, as we know, are worth a thousand of them.

Charlie, 1958

Yesterday, I reported my conversation with our chickens –reduced to cluck-clucking because there still were no adequate words in my own limited lexicon.

Today, all I can think of is baby talk.  My son Charlie’s first word was “fishy” and his second words were “bogan bogan.”  Fishy was prompted by a colorful fish mobile that hung above his crib.   Bogan meant “broken” and referred to anything that wasn’t working the way he wanted it to.

Yep.  Fishy!  Bogan!  Out of the mouths of babes etc. etc. etc.  Whoda thunk that those baby words uttered sixty-three years ago would be the only ones I could dredge up all these years later?  There are some adult words that rattle uselessly in my head. “Impeachment” and “25th amendment,”  for instance. Uselessly. Drowned out by Bogan! Bogan!

How I hope that I’m wrong.


Anyone else feeling vaguely “unwanted”?

Friday, December 18th, 2020

R.H. Espy, born 1826 in Allegheny County, PA – died 1918, a 64-year resident of Pacific County, WA

Somehow, Wednesday’s front page headline in the Observer — “Out-of-state seniors drive up county age” — was a bit unsettling.  As I read the article, I realized that the finger-pointing by the U.S. Census Bureau was specifically directed to a group of us old ducks that I don’t quite fit into.  Almost but not quite.  And I’m not at all sure why I care.

The article’s statistics specifically target an influx of older residents who were born in states other than Washington and who moved here between 2015 and 2019.  Well, I moved here permanently (check!) and was born in Massachusetts (check!) but that was in 1978 and I was still twenty-plus years shy of being a senior.  Even so, the tone of the article made me feel a bit uncomfortable about being old and born out-of-state.  And then I felt annoyed.  And then totally pissed off.

I dragged out my copy of the 1860 Pacific County Census and took a quick look.  As expected, the only residents listed as born in Washington Territory were under seven years old!  Duh! At a time when our indigenous people were not allowed to be counted in the U.S. Census and when Euro-American settlers were just beginning to arrive, ALL  adults who were counted in Pacific County had been born elsewhere.  Double duh!

The one exception to the 7-or-under pattern  was 16-year-old George Johnson who my great-grandfather, the census-taker, counted despite George’s Indian heritage.  Knowing what I do of Great-Grandpa R. H. Espy, he snuck in as many Indians as he could.  I’ve been told that he mostly preferred their company to many of the early “born-elsewhere” settlers.

Julia Jefferson Espy born 1851 in Marion County, OR – died 1901, a 31-year resident of Pacific County, WA

Granted, most of those listed in the 1860 count were not “seniors.”  Actually, make that “none” were seniors in the present-day understanding (65-and-over) of the term.  Settling the wilderness was not an occupation for old folks.  The oldest people listed were John Crellin, Sr. from the Isle of Man who was 60 and George Wills from Kentucky who was 58.  Both were farmers and came here with younger family members.

The total number of residents in Pacific County in 1860, according to my GG and the U.S. Census Bureau, was 470 — all born out of Washington Territory with the exceptions noted above.  The total number today is 21,668, 46.9% of whom were born out of state.

I don’t find these latest statistics very compelling.  As in so what?  What I’d much rather like to know from our present-day, newly arrived, born-out-of-state residents is this:  What brought you here and what, if any, “connection” do you have to our area?  I’ll bet the answers would be fascinating.  Much more interesting than the latest census analysis of our changing demographics.  Just sayin’…



The Least of My Problems

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Yep! It’s Me!
Sydney, 1941

My hair!  It’s the bane of my existence.  Always has been.  It is fine, curly (or used to be), and frizzes up with the least bit of humidity.  When I was young, my mother struggled (and I endured) putting it up in “kid-leather hair curlers” so that I would have perfect corkscrew curls on special occasions.  They lasted (sometimes) long enough for a picture to be taken.  Otherwise, it was a disaster.

I’ve learned, in all the years since, that I can depend on regular styling and cuts by a fabulous hairdresser or I can let it grow long enough to put it in a French Twist if I’m patient, or in a plain old bun if not. Right now, of course, I can do nothing but wait impatiently for it to grow.  And complain.  I do that regularly and loudly.  Nyel’s answer:  “Get a hairnet!”

Ruth Buzzi’s “Laugh-In” Look

His suggestion immediately conjures up the image of Ruth Buzzi on “Laugh In” and, somehow, in this context it no longer seems funny to me.  If I’m outside, I find that a hat helps keep these wispy gray locks contained.  Inside the house… good old-fashioned bobby pins and patience.  I tell myself daily that, if this is my only complaint, I am truly blessed.  (And, don’t tell Nyel, but I am seriously considering the Ruth Buzzi look.  I wonder if he’ll notice…)

Two Thumbs Up to OBSD!

Friday, November 20th, 2020

As of Monday, the Ocean Beach School District will return to remote-only learning due to the current (and worst yet) Pacific County surge in the coronavirus pandemic.  As a retired teacher and long-time community member, I say “Bravo!”

According to the Chinook Observer, the county’s case rate works out to 438 new cases per 100,000 people over a two-week rolling average which puts us in a high risk group.  There were 55 new cases in the county during last week’s reporting period making 246 cases since the pandemic began.  “A staggering number” according to day-before-yesterday’s online article.

I know I will not be popular when I say, “Why am I not surprised?”  Yesterday, Nyel and I drove to Astoria and back for an 11:00 a.m. doctor’s appointment.  Going over and coming back, we both remarked at how much traffic there was.  “You’d never know there was any kind of sheltering going on,” we each said more than once.  It seemed to be business as usual in downtown Long Beach and Astoria.

I have a great deal of trouble understanding how  “we” continue to try to balance “normal” activities with precautionary measures for the coronavirus.  Which part of LIFE CAN NO LONGER BE NORMAL  is it that people cannot understand?  How can we be so concerned about the emotional distress of our children and the economic distress of our families that we are willing to put our loved ones at risk?  Or even provide their death sentence?  I don’t get it.

We are not alone, of course.  Leaders throughout the world are struggling with the same situation and their responses are equally mixed.  We all seem to be in a pattern of tightening up for a while but relaxing before the economic situation becomes dire and, of course, before we have the virus under control.  God forbid we should close our borders to non-residents or close every single business that is non-essential.  We seem able to endure “some” restrictions for about a month at a time.  Alas, not long enough to made a continuing difference.

The OBSD plan is to reopen January 11th.  Good for them for taking this step!  I hope it’s just a first step.  And, how I wish that the rest of the County could follow — both in the private and public sectors.




A Whole New Meaning for PC

Monday, November 9th, 2020

In recent days “PC” has taken on an entirely new meaning for me.  Not your Personal Computer.  Not Politically Correct.  Not Police Constable or Probable Cause.  No.  It’s PANDEMIC COMPLACENCY.

As I look at the reports of new Covid-19 cases world-wide,  in the United States, in Washington State, and in Pacific County, and see what is being done about it, I think we are now well established in the PC zone.

What is wrong with us?  While European countries are taking extreme measures — like France’s total lock-down, Spain’s border closures, the Czech Republic’s closures of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places, our country has no overall mandate and little enforcement.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continues its spread across the world and has now passed 50 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.2 million deaths.  The United States is leading the pack…  and not in a good way.  According to the BBC World News, as of four hours ago today (November 9, 2020) the U.S. has had the most Covid deaths (236,591) and the highest number of total cases (9,893,685) in the world.

Right here in Pacific County, we are at an all-time high of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases — 28 as of November 6th bringing the County total to 155 cases since the beginning of the Pandemic.  Yet, as far as I can determine, life goes on pretty much as usual.  Most kids are in school, most businesses are open, the tourists continue to arrive in large numbers, and we are free to come and go as we please.

Too, it seems obvious to me that the public is half-hearted in following “suggested” health measures.  How else to explain the numbers?  And where is our leadership? The Public Health Officials continue with the same old, same old — wear masks, socially distance, wash your hands, stay home if you can.  We haven’t heard lately from Governor Inslee.  Pandemic Complacency seems to be the name of the game.

P.S.  Just after I posted this blog, President-Elect Biden spoke to the nation about his new task force on Covid-19 and the work he is already doing in preparation for immediate action once he has been inaugurated. YAY!  Finally after four miserable flailing-around years,  there will be a Leader in the White House!!



Once again, the mind boggles (or tweets?)

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

At Disney World

My subconscious has “put paid to” this 45th presidency even though the final ballot counts aren’t yet tallied.  I know that (the subconscious part) because I spent a fitful night dreaming — can I say nightmaring? — that I was in charge planning the DJT Presidential Library.

Apparently, there had been a huge controversy about just which was the Orange Man’s “home state” (which is where the library was to be put.)  It was finally decided (by me) to place it adjacent to Disney’s Epcot Center in Orlando and to make it a theme park centered on the Presidential Tweets.

My presentation was to “The Board” — I’m not sure what “Board” but in my nightmare it was made up of dozens of men and women who were all smoking cigars and who all looked a bit like George Burns.  On display was a three-dimensional model of the proposed library’s interior and a set of huge earphones for everyone.

George Burns In Drag

The model library was divided into large rooms labeled “Covid,” “Climate,” “Putin,”  “Wall,” “Fake News,” “Economy,” etc.  If you tuned your earphones into one of those rooms, you could listen to every tweet #45  had made about that particular subject.  There were a great many room possibilities — maybe a hundred.  But there were no other parts to the library because, as I explained to The Board, there was no evidence of any papers, records, collections or other historical materials that had accumulated during DJT’s presidency.  “Just tweets,” I told them.

The Naked Truth?

At the end of my spiel, someone rolled one of the naked statues of Trump into the room.  My proposal was to make that the  center piece of the library.  Wow!  What a wrangle that turned into!  Apparently there were many who still wanted it to replace the Lincoln statue in Washington D.C.

OMG!  Will this nightmare never end?  Apparently not…