Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Yesterday: National Corn-on-the-Cob Day!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

At the market, the sign on the bin of corn-on the cob said, “Five ears for $3.00.”  I think they were missing a bet.  They could have had a huge promotion.  But when I asked the produce guy if he knew that it was National Corn-on-the-Cob Day, he just looked at me.  Oh well.

I could have been even more informative, had he shown the least bit of interest.  For instance, I could have told him the corn on the cob is also known in different regions as pole corn, cornstick, sweet pole, butter-pop or long maize! But, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned that it is a sweet corn picked when the kernels are still tender when it’s in its milk stage.  If he was any kind of produce guy at all, he knew that.

Most people, produce professionals or not, know that corn can be served boiled, steamed roasted or grilled.  If it’s really, really tender, it’s also good raw.  There are debates about whether to butter and salt, or not.  (Remember the scene in War Games when the dad slathered butter — actually, margarine I think– on a piece of bread and then wrapped it around the ear of corn to butter it?  Great idea!)  But there is no debate about the etiquette of eating corn on the cob – fingers on both ends is totally acceptable.  Eating round-and-round or back-and-forth — your choice.

Yesterday was also German Chocolate Cake Day.  Not our favorite, so we pigged out on corn and didn’t leave room for dessert.  But tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day which sounds better.  (It’s also National Call Your Doctor Day… just in case.)  There are 1500 national days, apparently, and you can celebrate every one of them by checking out National Day Calendar at

Bangs and Whimpers and Silence

Monday, June 11th, 2018

At the G7 Summit

“The world will go on without us,” one of my Facebook Friends wrote.  She was responding to another FF’s lament about the current political climate in the world – specifically, how our allies are perceiving us since the G7 meeting in Canada.

I think I understand what she meant – sort of a “this too will pass” statement.  But it was a statement that, for me, came hard on the heels of a very hard month.  Our community has been blind-sided by the deaths of three well-known and much-beloved people and we have recently learned of the serious health problems of two others of our friends.  “Without us” seems all too personal and imminent.

And, of course, I can’t help wonder if the world will, indeed, go on.  Yes, it always has – no matter what horrors humanity has brought upon itself – genocides and pandemics and holocausts going back to our beginnings.  But now, the very Earth, itself, appears to be in jeopardy – climate change, nuclear stockpiling, rampant environmental tampering.  And the list goes on.

North Korean Missiles

People my age worry (or at least say they do) about their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren in one breath and in the next say, “…but I won’t be around to see it happen.”  My parents and grandparents said the same and no doubt those sentiments came along with the first-ever human DNA.   But, it truly does seem as though the stakes are impossibly high right now.

The hard part is knowing what to do about it.  “Speak out!  Be involved!  Have difficult discussions!” is the advice we hear.  Or… we can just re-read “The Hollow Men” by T. S. Elliott and think about the final stanza:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

T. S. Elliott

Elliott wrote the poem in 1925.  I find it interesting that when he was asked, years later, if he would end the poem in the same way, he said “No.”   He said that while the association of the H-bomb is irrelevant to the poem, he felt that it would come to everyone’s mind.  He was not sure the world would end with either a bang or a whimper.  People whose houses were bombed had told him that they didn’t remember hearing anything.

So, perhaps we should revisit the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence.”  Especially the third stanza:

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence


Today is Market Day in Astoria! Oh Boy?

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

For the last forty-plus years, my summer Sundays have been pretty much focused on Vespers, and participation in other functions have had to work around those three o’clock church services. Astoria’s Sunday Market is one of the events we think about longingly each year – but, actually, I’m not sure why.  When we have managed to go, we are usually disappointed.  However, we keep trying.  We are ever hopeful.

Since Vespers doesn’t begin until next week, we’ve decided to head for Astoria today and give the Market another go.  In an effort to stave off the chance (yet again) for negative feelings, we’ve tried to analyze what our “problem” is.   (We are quite sure the problem is ours and not inherent in the Market, itself.  Everyone else we know has positive things to say.  It must be just us.)

Perhaps it’s that we’ve gone too early in the past.  Typically, it opens on Mother’s Day in mid-May, but we’ve found limited produce at that time of year and that’s always our main interest in going.  Or perhaps therein lies our problem – other vendors outnumber the produce vendors by far.  In fact, according to their current website:

Campo de Fiori, Rome

Astoria Sunday Market began in 2000 and now covers four city blocks adjacent to east and westbound US Highway 30, with over 200 vendors on a typical Sunday… features up to 200 vendors each week offering locally-made products that have been hand-crafted, grown, created or gathered by the farmers, craftspeople and artisans featured each week.

I think we might be stuck in an old-fashioned concept of what a market should be based on the many street markets we’ve gone to in Europe – and not that recently, either.  Perhaps things have changed there, too.  But it used to be (in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s of the last century) that “markets” featuring fruits, vegetables, other edibles — often on certain days in particular neighborhoods – were different from “flea markets” or where you might find everything from authentic European antiques to fake watches, from classical furniture to the latest sneakers.

I am reminded that my mother always made a distinction between “marketing” and “shopping.”  She never, for instance, went “shopping” at the grocery store.  A trip to Jack’s Country Store to replenish the larder was “going to do a little marketing.”  A shopping trip usually meant clothes-buying of some sort.  I don’t remember my mother and father ever going to a thrift store or a junque shoppe.  Maybe to an antique shop once in a while.

Waterloo Flea Market

So… this morning as we thought about our day’s adventure in Astoria, we tried to adjust our expectations.  We are at the stage in life where we don’t need (or want) a single additional craft or piece of jewelry or art or kitchen gewgaw.  Our motto has been “if we can’t eat it or wear it, we don’t need it” – and the wearing part is pretty iffy, too.  So… if it’s not yet too early in the growing season, we are hoping to come home with some fresh produce and maybe a loaf or two of crusty bread.  We’ll just enjoy looking at the rest.  Unless it keeps raining.  Then, all bets are off.

Highly Recommended!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

(060318) From the film The Rider. Brady Jandreau as Brady Blackburn. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

If you haven’t yet seen “The Rider,” do not pass Go!  Even if you have to do a bit of traveling to make it happen.

Yesterday, we did just that.  To Portland and back for a matinee!  We left Oysterville about noon, got to the Laurelhurst Theater in plenty of time for pizza and lemonade before the 4:30 start time, and were home by a few minutes past nine.  It wasn’t even fully dark yet!

Best of all – well not quite best because the movie was fabulous! – was the trip itself.  We went and returned on State Route 4, following the editorial suggestion in last week’s Observer:

View Along SR$

EDITOR’S NOTE: For residents of south Pacific County, traveling between the coast and Interstate 5 usually entails using highways 30 and 26 in Oregon. Both those routes, along with the Clatsop County portion of U.S. Highway 101, are responsible for many more traffic fatalities than Pacific County’s State Route 4 to Longview or the county’s segment of U.S. 101. The density of fatal accidents between Astoria and Rainier on Highway 30 closely resembles that on the interstate, which has far heavier traffic. Highway 26 is almost as bad, as is U.S. 101, according to statistics compiled by ITO World, a company that specializes in analyzing transportation statistics and trends.

I’ve probably made fifty trips to Portland and back in the last several years – sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the fog, many times in the rain and wind, and, once, following the ambulance –every trip on Highway 30 on the Oregon side of the river.  I am always nervous on that route – ever since my mother warned me about it just before I drove my worldly possessions up here in 1978, “Be careful on the highway between Longview and Astoria,” she said.  “The school librarian and her daughter were killed in an accident there just recently.”  Her words have stuck in my mind, all these years.

Posted on the Door of the Laurelhurst Theater

So, yesterday we traveled on the Washington side of the river.  I had forgotten how beautiful that drive is!  Well worth every extra minute (there were only nine of them) that it took!  We ‘waved’ at Bob Pyle as we passed Grays River and gave a nod to Kerrie McNally when we saw the ‘Miller’s Crossing’ sign.  And, of course a shout-out to Andrew Emlen and all the members of the Willapa Hills and the Skamokawa Swamp Opera!  And to the many parties of the past at Eric and Carolyn Feasey’s old place.

But…about the movie.  Stunning!  I can’t get over the fact that these were real people, not actors, and further, that main character Brady Blackburn is the real-life son of Tim Blackburn who plays his father and, mostly, that Lily Blackburn, his sister with Asperger’s is also his real-life sister. Their actual last name is Jandreau and the action is set on the Pine Ridge Reservation where the family, of Lakota descent, actually live.  See it if you can!  It’s worth the drive to Portland on Highway 4, believe me!

The Jury Is Still Out

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

We drove home from Longview yesterday afternoon with a new battery in our less-than-year-old Subaru Forester.  After the third time we’d been stranded, we had made an appointment with the dreaded Bud Clary dealership so that they could run a “diagnostic” on the car to determine whether there was a problem.  Never mind that we had been complaining about our unreliable battery at every regularly-scheduled maintenance appointment since last September.

Apparently, they were unable to take our word for the fact that the car had habitually gone dead from the beginning of our relationship.  They finally told us that we would have to schedule a diagnostic appointment that could take up to three hours.  That time, plus the four-hour round-trip to Longview and another day was shot.  But, this time it might have been worth it.

The car was ready in under an hour!  “One dead cell.  We’ve replaced your battery.”  That didn’t make us jump up and down with joy, however.  We’d done our research and had long ago (back in September, actually) found that Subaru’s wimpy batteries are a problem.  We asked the Service Manager if they could upgrade the battery so this (or something similar) would not happen again.  “No.  Subaru won’t allow us to do that – not as long as the car is under warranty.”  Say what???

It occurred to me this morning that we weren’t given any paperwork for the new battery – you know, a little manual or booklet on the care and feeding of this new acquisition.  I guess that’s because things are such that you really can’t do it yourself anymore.  Gone are the days when you unscrew those little caps to check the water level in each cell.  Batteries are now fool-proof when it comes to simple tinkering.  But they aren’t fail-proof.  For sure, the jury is out on this one.

Bad Karma, Bud Clary! Shame on you!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Lake Sacajawea, Longview

At noon we parked by Lake Sacajawea in Longview to eat our picnic lunch.  Nyel had a 1:30 appointment at St. John’s Hospital, just across the way.  Our plan was to sit and enjoy the squirrels and other lakeside denizens and then move our car to the hospital parking lot.  We were sure Nyel’s appointment would give us plenty of time to get to our 2:30 maintenance appointment at Bud Clary’s Subaru Dealership which is a short three-minute drive according to Google.

But, when it came time to move the car… dead battery!  Again?!  Third time in a year.  We walked to Nyel’s hospital rendezvous and decided to call Bud Clary’s afterwards and ask if someone could come and give us a jumpstart.  But, when we did that, the answer was, “No.  Call AAA.”  Say what???

Our Forester

Triple A said it would be an hour.  Bud Clary said they would cancel our appointment at 2:45. So very friendly, eh?  NOT!!  In desperation, we tried the damned car again.  Voila!  It started.  Called Triple A and cancelled and they thanked us for thinking of them!  We like Triple A.  Rolled into Clary’s at 2:29 and change.

When we said we wanted to deal with the battery problem, there was one of those peculiar shadows that crossed the eyes of the maintenance man.  He was evasive but finally said that first we’d have to make an appointment to run a diagnostics test.  Then, depending upon what they found, they could replace the battery under the warranty.  When we said we understood that Subaru Foresters had a well-documented “battery problem,” he conceded that it was true.  And this diagnostic tool was what Subaru had recently come up with to deal with it.  Yada yada yada.  We made the appointment for next week.

Lum’s Auto Dealership

Our car was ready within 45 minutes.  Plenty of time for someone to have come the five blocks to Lake Sacajawea and give us a jumpstart.  Plenty of time to be good guys.  But, apparently, it’s just not in their DNA.  We should have known when they tried the bait-and-switch routine when we bought the car a year ago.

The good news: this was the last of our pre-paid “Clary Care” oil change/tire rotation/car wash.  Except for this battery deal, we are so DONE with Bud Clary.  We will be so very happy to return to Lum’s for our maintenance needs, if they will have us.  We dealt with them for twenty years before this Subaru and always treated politely.  They went out of their way to be helpful.  They probably spoiled us.  We love Lum’s.  And we have nothing good to say about Bud Clary’s.  Period.

Convergence at the Science Conference

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

No one asked me last night: “What was your take-away from the 2018 Annual Science Conference?”  If they had, I’d probably have answered with one word: “Convergence.”

For one thing, it had been an all-day event – multiple speakers talking about eleven different topics from the ‘History of Hatchery Reform’ to ‘Integrating Logging and Salmon Restoration – An update on Ellsworth Creek’ – and I couldn’t really believe how much I already knew about every single topic!  Enough, by far, to keep my mind engaged and my eyes glued to the various power point programs that accompanied each presentation.

Too, I knew many of the attendees and was pleased to meet many more – scientists, oystermen, politicians, writers, historians, fishermen – during the breaks and mealtimes.  (Great food, by the way!  All catered seamlessly by Bob and Judy Andrew of the Cottage Bakery.)  Plus, it was all taking place in familiar territory – the Meeting Room at the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation’s headquarters on Pioneer Road.  It was only a few weeks ago that I was writing about the creation of that very space as I finished my upcoming book, “Washington’s Cranberry Coast.”

Up first was a report on Washington’s Coastal Resilience Project, a three-year effort to rapidly increase the state’s capacity to prepare for natural events that threaten the coast — specifically,  rising sea level and, as a forerunner, an announcement about what to do if an earthquake should happen right then and there.  “Do not head for your car,” we were told, and we were given directions for walking to the nearest high ground – twenty minutes to the Lone Fir Cemetery.

Already, I felt on ‘familiar’ ground, so to speak.  It’s about a twenty-minute walk to the Oysterville Cemetery from our house.  That, also, is the highest ground near here and, as I have often said, if the big one comes, my plan is to go there, hug a tree, and if worse came to worse, I’d be exactly where I intend to end up anyway…

And, so it went.  From topic to topic I felt a personal connection.  Only a few days ago I had finished reading Robin Cody’s Another Way The River Has.  The last chapter deals with the success of reclamation efforts on the Umatilla River – reclamation of both the river and of the Chinook runs that had been long absent.  The chapter dealt with dams and hatcheries and the Umatilla tribe and federal agencies and more.  It was definitely a precursor to the second topic on the agenda – History of Hatchery Reform.

And then there was the topic about burrowing shrimp – those ghostly critters right outside my front door, on my very property, that, so far anyway, have more rights than oysters or oyster growers or any of the rest of us.  And the update on spartina… now thankfully gone from our property – and the vigilance needed to keep it that way.

And on and on.  Convergence!  I am struck once again how no one part of our lives is isolated from any other part.  If you’d ask, I’d tell you that my interest in and knowledge about this area is its history.  But this conference was a visceral reminder that nothing at all is in isolation – not even the books I read or the burial place of my ancestors or the sucking mud just a few hundred feet from my front door!

Barbara or Pete or possibly both?

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Barbara Poulshock – A Cate Gable Photo

We all say it.  There are just too many great things happening here – all the time and, all too often, at the same time!

Like today.  At two o’clock the Bayside Singers are having their Spring Concert at the Lutheran Church in Ocean Park and they will be unveiling the hot-off-the-laser-quick-press book of Barbara’s compositions.  We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.

Also, today – actually, more like tonight – at seven o’clock is Astoria’s celebration of Pete Seeger.  In a tribute to mark the late folksinger/activist’s 99th birthday, three dozen or so area musicians are getting together at the Clatsop College Performing Arts Center (PAC) to sing and play some of the beloved songs we associate with Seeger – “Kisses Sweeter than Wine,” “Goodnight Irene,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and so many more.  The event is a fund-raiser for the Partners for the PAC, the group working to preserve the building.

Pete Seeger. 2009

Because of my last few weeks of nose-to-cranberry-book-grindstone, I’ve been oblivious to almost everything beyond my computer screen.  So, the news of the Seeger tribute came as a big surprise yesterday – ironically in an email.  There is no doubt in my mind that we will try to go.  The sticking point is a dinner date after Barbara’s event and before Pete’s.  Can we make it?

Nyel, bless him, says “Let’s try.”  He’s completely on board with the Bayside Singers, but I’m not sure he shares my love affair with all things Pete Seeger.  I was a fan back in the fifties when Seeger was black-listed during the McCarthy Era and in the sixties when he hosted a television show “Rainbow Quest.”  I loved it that the Kingston Trio formed, in part, to honor him and his music, and that Joan Baez sang his songs, as did every other folksinger I admired.

Astoria’s Performing Arts Center

Yes.  We’ll try to do it all today!  Barbara and Pete and, in between, dinner with friends.  It doesn’t get better than that!

From A Reliable Source

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

In The Meadow

We heard some disturbing – no, let’s say alarming – news yesterday about a killer dog on the rampage in Oysterville.  Seriously.  Apparently, it has run down and killed three deer in the area in the last week or so.  One was witnessed by someone I know to be low-key, truthful, and not given to exaggeration.

“Have the incidents been reported?” was our first question.  Our informant didn’t know.

“Whose dog was it?” we asked.  Not one that is known in the area.

“Was there anyone out and about?  As in a frantic owner who had let the dog off its leash?”  No one in sight.

Outside Our Door

Apparently, the kill that was witnessed occurred out on the bayfront.  The deer was running north and the dog – “medium-sized tan” – was flat out behind.  Took the deer down, killed it, and walked away from it.  At least that’s what we were told.

So… this is third-hand information.  I don’t think it’s “fake news” but I don’t really know.  I’m wary these days.  Unless I’ve witnessed something myself, I’m not sure of the truth of the story.  From my perspective, that’s not a comfortable position to be in.  I certainly don’t want to discount such an ominous bit of information.  In my mind, a dog that would chase and kill a deer might well go after a child or maybe even a little old lady.  Maybe.

Living Yard Art

On the other hand, I don’t want to start disbelieving what someone I’ve know most of my life is saying.  This whole disconnect from the truth thing has me a bit rattled.  I don’t know how many of our country’s recent leader-appointees have lied under oath or parsed their words in order to ‘untether’ themselves from reality.  More than a few.  I certainly don’t want to think that the prevarication epidemic has spread clear to in Oysterville.

As I say… it’s more than disturbing.

The Bully Boys on the Hill

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

I’m not a particular fan of Mark Zuckerberg’s and I have a rather ho-hum relationship with Facebook.  Nevertheless, I had a hard time sitting through the news last night. Watching forty-four senators take Zuckerberg to task after months of their routinely ignoring the atrocities committed by the man in the White House seemed wrong, wrong, wrong.  It felt like bullying to me.

Just the fact that two full committees were giving Mr. Z their undivided attention while the president has skated on just about everything was enough to set my teeth on edge.  And, I kept waiting for those oh-so-serious lawmakers to give one tiny indication that perhaps, just perhaps, any of us Facebook users had any responsibility in any of it. – But no.  We weren’t mentioned.  Obviously, we are to be talked about, lamented over, and defended whether we, ourselves are culpable or not. Do they even realize that we can unfriend and unFace if we so choose?  We can’t do much about Syria and China and North Korea. It was beyond annoying.

So much “concern” over my privacy.  And yours.  Could those empty suits (as my friend Tricky calls most of our public ‘servants’) work up that much concern over gun control or immigration or tariffs or the gazillion dollar national debt?  Could they confront ‘the leader of the free world’ with the same unbending seriousness that they gave to Mr. Z.? Why is it that my “privacy” on FaceBook matters more than does my safety in a mall or a school or a church?  Why does my “privacy” matter more than the plight of my neighbors who are being arrested for seeking refuge in this “land of the free.”

What a crock.  I wish I could wave my magic wand and banish the whole Congressional kit and caboodle off to cyberspace.  They could spend eternity worrying about one another’s privacy issues and we could find someone else to stand by and watch Mr. T self-destruct.

If wishes were porn stars…