Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

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…

Two Down, Forty-six to Go

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

San Rafael High School Bulldog

As I watched the news last night I wished vaguely that I had taken Mr. Dressier’s physics class in high school.  I’m sure there is some principal or other that applies to the persistence of the talking heads in thinking that our country’s leadership is going to turn some corner in the hallowed halls of the White House and come smack up against their senses.  No matter how consistent the tweetings and twitterings from the seat of government, there seems to be this hope-springs-eternal mentality among the mainstream media.  Frankly, I’m sick of it.

So what is that principal, anyway?  Inertia?  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary for Kids (my particular physics speed), inertia is “a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in unchanging motion unless acted on by some external force.”   When speaking of inertia and human activity, synonyms include “idleness, laziness, shiftlessness, sloth.”

Well… I hardly think the PBS news team can be said to suffer from any of those negative descriptors.  In fact, I admire their industry very much.  It’s the reluctance on their part (and on all of our parts) to stay stuck in the rut of what we are used to.  For some reason we are all still agog that ‘things’ are different from ever before and that there are so many breaks from historical precedence.

Clearly, the folks in the Other Washington who are calling the shots (or trying too) are not troubled by inertia.  So, the rest of us, including the news media probably need to look at the Laws of Chaos and the Laws of Order.  I know even less about those “Universal Laws” than I do about Physics.  I wonder if Mr. Dressier could have helped?

Order and Chaos

It’s disheartening when watching the news sets me off on one of these pointless rambles.  I think I’ll give it all a rest for another little while – until things get back into some sort of alignment and the mainstream news stops lamenting and breast-beating and being amazed at the same-old same-old.

About Time to Spring Ahead

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Isn’t it always the way?  Just as you’re seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel –well, actually, at the beginning of your day if you get up early – it’s time to mess with your clocks again.  It’s true that we are early birds.  We get up before our chickens, at least in the winter.  And right now, in mid-March, the sky is just beginning to lighten at five in the morning.

We sit and sip our coffee and watch our garden take shape as the day arrives.  It’s always a time of promise – a time of renewed energy.  We plan our day more enthusiastically than in mid-December or mid-January.  Our conversations begin to touch upon new projects and plans that will take us beyond our huddle by the fire.  Spring is almost here!  And then, with the flip of a calendar page and a backward turn of the clock dial… we are back in the darkness before dawn.  Damn!

Only Hawaii and Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation which is on federal lands) stay on standard time year-round.  Other states have petitioned Congress to stay consistent – either on or off DST. Reasons vary.  Most have to do with energy conservation but here in Washington, bills to end DST filed by Rep. Elizabeth Scott (R, Monroe) in House and Senate cite that the semiannual time switches are not only inconvenient but lead to health problems and accidents due to lost sleep.

Who knew?  She says that the bill to drop daylight saving time would reduce heart attacks, car wrecks and work accidents found to increase with the sleep-schedule disruptions. But, wouldn’t you know… a different Senate Bill would petition the federal government for year-round DST. As far as I know, neither the pro nor con bills have made much headway.

I’ve mentioned the debate to our girls in the coop but they are remaining neutral on the entire controversy.  Their days follow the sun – or on cloudy days, the light – and they don’t need a clock (or even a rooster) to tell them when to wake up or go to roost.  Smart.  We could take a lesson from them, no doubt.

Meanwhile, once we set our clocks forward at midnight day after tomorrow, we will need to wait until April 10 for our morning glimmer to come back to us as we are drinking that first cup of coffee.  Of course, it will be light later each day but, for a morning person such as myself, it’s simply wrong.  Another case of messing needlessly with Mother Nature.  We just can’t seem to leave her alone, can we?

The Art of Waiting

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Nyel Waits Patiently

There’s a lot being said these days about where our educational system has gone wrong or what we need to do better to prepare our youth for the future.  We read about the need for teaching critical thinking skills and that there should be a requirement for learning how to participate in civil discourse.  I couldn’t agree more.  But, right now, I’m thinking that one of the most important life-long learning necessities is How to Wait Patiently.

When you come right down to it, we probably spend as much of our lives in waiting than in any other single activity.  I’ve read, for instance, that the average person spends 38.5 days in their lifetime brushing their teeth, 101 days driving, and 25 years sleeping,   Granted, these are all activities we might be doing while we are engaged in waiting… but when waiting is the primary focus, how should we do it productively and with grace?  Those are the questions.

Waiting is much on my mind because, when it comes right down to it, being in the hospital – either as a patient or as a loved one – is all about waiting.  Since Nyel’s admission on Monday afternoon, we have been waiting for his system to be purged of an old medication, for a new medication to take hold and, ultimately, for all systems (including the doctor’s schedule) to be a “go” for a cardioversion. Well, actually, we are actually waiting, ultimately, to go home with Nyel in better fettle than before.

Sydney Waits Productively (?)

Current estimates are that the ‘procedure’ should occur around 2:30 this afternoon.  Once accomplished, we will wait to see if it his heart is back in the intended rhythm and then we wait to see if it will stay there until our next hospital procedure on March 15th. The operable (so to speak) word in all of this: wait.

To the best of our ability, we are waiting patiently, if not totally productively.  Nyel has been doing crosswords and watching the news on TV.  I’ve been working on the sequel to my Ghost Stories book (thanks to the possibilities of online research) and trying to keep abreast of emails and FaceBook messages.  We have also seen two of the movies offered on the “in-house TV menu’ – “White House Down” and “Reacher.”  And, of course, we eat (except not Nyel since midnight last night), we sleep, we listen to nurses and doctors, and we try to stay positive.

My only conclusion:  Waiting is hard.  It ought to be at the top of the basic learning list.  You know: ‘W and the Three Rs’.  Or wait (ahem!).  Is that a music group?