Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

The Best Book EVER!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Front Cover

I stayed up until the midnight hour (late for me) last night reading the Author’s Notes and Acknowledgements at the end of Daniel Silva’s latest book, The Order. The protagonist, who Silva admits shares many of his own traits, is legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon and the setting is, for the second time in the series, the Vatican City.

Of the 21 books Gabriel Allon books, I consider it the best yet.  Making such a judgement is not done lightly.  This book is not only topical, but combines current, historical and fictitious information into a seamless whole — a thriller/espionage book that will leave you with questions (and even some answers) that you had never before considered.

Back Cover

I plan to read it again and would have begun it this morning except that it is Nyel’s turn.  I hope he powers through it so I can re-read it and get it back to the library before our two weeks are up!  Meanwhile, I  will order a few of the dozens of books that Silva “consulted” while writing The Order — beginning with Pontius Pilot by Ann Wroe.  I can’t think of a better opportunity, during this Sheltering Time, to being learning more about a topic I’ve always “taken for granted.”

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read The Order, I highly recommend it.  But, if you haven’t read any of the Gabriel Allon series, I suggest you hold off on this one until you have read the first twenty… in order!


Get Ready! Get Set! Vote!

Monday, October 12th, 2020

This has to be the strangest voting year ever.  We’ve been ready to mark our ballots for…  well, it seems like forever.  The media has been full of voting news from other states for weeks and here in Oysterville we are chomping at the proverbial bit.

Our voters’ pamphlet arrived last week.  We’ve read it and discussed a few of the items briefly but we really know how we are going to mark our ballots.  When they come.  Which should be soon.  Presumably they were mailed out Friday and should get here tomorrow — today being a holiday.

Statue of Christopher Columbus Now Gone from South Chicago Court House

I’m actually not sure which holiday it is.  It used to be Columbus Day but then he got controversial…  I understand that fourteen states (including Oregon but not Washington) — plus 130 cities and Washington D.C. —  now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.  And, of course, some statues honoring Christopher Columbus are being removed.  In Boston,  Chris’s statue was beheaded which is hard to see as an act of patriotism rather than plain old vandalism.  As far as I know, however, (and  today’s Post Office closure would seem to indicate), the Federal Government still officially honors Columbus on this day.

Boston Beheading

The idea of “embracing change” is definitely becoming weird, at least to this old duck.  I’m positively nostalgic about those “olden days” when we actually went to our polling place to cast our ballots on the very day of the election.  I think we’ve been voting by mail in Pacific County since 2005 — but I’ve really lost track.

I’m not losing track of our ballot mailboxes, though.  Thanks to Fred Carter, there is a new one now at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach — the closest one to us besides the Post Office.  For sure we’ll be headed to one or the other tomorrow afternoon if the pony express to Oysterville brings those ballots in the morning!

After nearly 40 years… vindication (of sorts)

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

On Territory Road Across from The ORF Meadow

Probably most everyone has had the experience of “knowing” an important truth but being unable to prove it.  But it’s not everyone who knows (but can’t prove) that they are right about something and who actually sees that “truth” become public knowledge.  Certainly not after almost 40 years!  And, certainly not about two separate situations in the same week.  But, that’s exactly what has happened to me.

First was the undeniable identity of the “Oysterville sign stealer” who was the one and only suspect by the Espy Company in a sign issue in the mid-eighties .  A large wooden “Property For Sale” sign in the Espy Meadow (now the ORF Meadow) kept being trashed — as in the four-by-four posts supporting it were sawed off in the night and the sign was gone.  It happened twice or maybe three times.  I have forgotten.

My folks were then living in this house and as members of the Espy family (and of the Espy Company) were “caretakers” of the family property that was gradually being sold.  They felt they knew who was responsible for the vandalism.  So did most people in Oysterville.  But you can’t prove gut feelings.  I so wish the folks were still alive to see the photos of the present-day sign thief — the very same person they suspected.

On the 1980 Publication of the Peninsula Primer

The second “vindication” came yesterday via the Chinook Observer’s FaceBook site.  In a series of photographs from past issues, up popped a December 1980 picture and article about Nancy Lloyd and me.  It concerned the publication of the Peninsula Primer which I wrote and Nancy illustrated all those years ago.

If I had remembered that article back in 2006 when I found that Nancy had listed the Primer as one of her earlier publications without mention of me and without mention that she was the illustrator (intimating that she had also written the book),.. I’d have saved myself a lot of angst.  And money.  Nancy, of course, did not remember that she only illustrated but hadn’t participated in writing the book. The copyright attorney I consulted said I might have a  “case” but only if Nancy and I had signed an agreement or a contract ahead of publication.

I don’t know if the clear description of our roles in that endeavor reported by the Observer in this little article would have sufficed.  But it surely would have gone a long way toward vindication — especially among some of our mutual friends who looked at me with decided skepticism when I mistakenly appealed to them for memories and support.  I soon dropped the subject.  But I never forgot.


Debate Dabacle Needed Muted Mics

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

The Naked Truth?

Like many others (at least according to incoming reports) Nyel and I only managed to watch last night’s debate fiasco for about ten minutes.  What an embarrassment all the way around.  No surprises except, perhaps, the lack of planning for Trump’s inability to follow the rules.  Why in the world weren’t the mics muted for the candidate whose turn it wasn’t?  (If you know what I mean.)

It didn’t help much that I’ve been reading Too Much and Never Enough by Trump’s neice, Mary L. Trump.  In it, she tries to explain why her uncle is the way he is.  (As in who cares?)  I doubt if I’ll finish the book.  Like watching the debate last night, reading the whys of Trump’s personality disorder(s) seems absolutely pointless.

He is what he is.  The fact that even his critics and opponents still measure him by a “normal” yardstick is the big travesty.  Why would the Democrats and Mr. Biden agree to this series of debates in the first place?   Did they really think that “this time” Trump would follow the rules, tell the truth, act Presidential, or even behave as a gentleman?

Most of all, did they expect that Mr. Biden would come out on top by contrast?  Where have they been for the last three and a half years?  No matter what, Trump is the scene stealer wherever and whenever he appears.  For better or for worse, it’s always all about him and, whether we like it or not, the “nice guys” finish last.  It’s a lesson we seem unable to learn.

This used to be a nice neighborhood…

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

A Popular Sign

Most of us old-timers in Oysterville can remember clearly when, not so many years ago, no one locked their doors here.  Now, we can’t put out a campaign sign for one of our  long-time, third-generation neighbors without it getting ripped off.  Twice so far.

After our first “Dan Driscoll for Commissioner” sign disappeared back in July, Dan replaced it, and I faithfully brought the new one into the house each evening before dark and set it out again in the morning.  Then came the smoke, the poor visibility, my sore throat and scratchy eyes and… I became complacent.

Yesterday morning:  the sign was gone.  For the second time.  Carolyn Long’s sign (a bit catywampus) is still there, though I hesitate to say so for fear it, too, will be stolen.  I don’t see any other nearby Driscoll signs gone, but I haven’t actually taken an inventory.  So Nyel and I have the uncomfortable feeling that we are being specifically targeted.

Carolyn Long Survives!

On the other hand, all of the Wolfe signs within view of our house are still up.  It seems possible that it’s one of Frank’s supporters who is doing the dirty deed.  Perhaps Frank needs to have a word with them.  Especially because, of the many Frank Wolfe signs in the village, only one is in front of a voting resident’s home.  The others are a bit misleading since the homeowners live elsewhere full-time and are not eligible to vote in Pacific County.

While it is true that every voter registered in Pacific County can vote in the general election for any one of the candidates running for Pacific County Commissioner  (unlike in the Primary Election in which only the voters in each candidate’s Commissioner district can vote), those voting privileges do not extend beyond the county line.   Perhaps those particular sign displayers are confused about that.   More likely, they are trying to show support for a candidate who most voting residents of the village do not support — an unhappy statement in itself.

Sign or no sign, Dan has our support!

To me, the sign-stealing is just one more example of the neighborhood going downhill.  The Big City Folk move in and good manners and respect seem to evaporate.  It’s too bad.  Perhaps Frank should have a little talk with some of his Oysterville supporters.  They aren’t doing his cause any good at all.  And why the Driscoll signs that Nyel and I have displayed seem to be a particular target is a mystery to us.  If you have an idea, do weigh in!  Inquiring minds want to know.


Living On The Edge of Hell

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

Air Quality Icon For Oysterville Today

It’s scary to wake up to that red, frowning air quality icon on your screen.  First thing.  The good news, at least for us, is that Portland’s air quality is no longer the worst in the world as it was last night.  This morning it’s Vancouver, B.C.  We are between the two geographically but, thank goodness, much lower than either on the air quality index and, so far anyway, not in harm’s way of fires.  Still… it’s another inside day here in Oysterville.

There is is no “there there” across the bay again today.  But it appears more like fog than yesterday’s eerie, rose-colored curtain shutting off the rest of the world.  Still, the air seems thick and smells smoky and is likely to hang around for a while.  No breeze so far.  Not like years ago when we would greet the summer mornings fogged-in and Dad would say, “It’ll all burn off by eleven o’clock.”  Even the expression “burn off” seems totally inappropriate just now.

Clackamas County, Oregon 9/11/20

Our neighbors down the road have reported in.  Their full-time residence is  in Clackamas County, Oregon near Oregon City. That area (as of last night) was a “Level 2” — “be ready to evacuate immediately” — so they spent the last few days moving animals to safety — 3 horses, 3 donkeys, and 5 llamas.  Linda is here at their Oysterville house with a grandson and 6 cats and 2 dogs.  Harry is staying at home in Oregon unless/until the “Evacuate Immediately” order comes.  OMG!

We are so glad they are safe but, somehow, hearing that they are amplifies the fact that so many are not.  Ten percent of the Oregon population — 550,000 people have had to evacuate.  So far.  OMG!

Beyond Our Meadow: No There There

There seems nothing to do but pray and wait.  Bless them all!  Especially the first responders who are far from the edge of hell;  they are smack-dab in the middle of it.   “Stay safe!  Stay safe!  Stay safe!” is the mantra here.  And everywhere.

Stand up and be counted? Hmmm.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Knock! Knock! Who’s there?

The U.S. Census Taker came to our door four or five months ago — “just to ask a few preliminary questions” she said.  “You can do the rest of it online.”  And so we did.  Months ago.

Monday there was a card in our mailbox addressed to someone that I assume was me.  “Cidney L. Stevens” it said.  The rest of the address was correct.  All my life (and that’s a fair amount of time, now) I’ve been Sydney M.  Granted, I’ve had several surnames — the part they got right.  But I’ve never spelled my first name differently and I’ve never used a middle initial other than M.  The card was a “reminder” to complete the 2020 census.  What a waste of time, paper, ink, etc.  Even in an automated world, good help is hard to find.

I also think it’s noteworthy that the 1920 census got my mother’s information wrong.  Her birth name was Helen-Dale Espy but, she went by “Dale” so there would not be confusion with her mother who was also a “Helen.”  At the time of the 1920 census, she would have been eight years old.

1920 Census

According to the census that year, Helen and Harry’s youngest child was “Allandale ” and was a son.  I didn’t come across that information until after my mother could no longer tell me what she knew about it, so I can only conjecture.

I know that she was a Tomboy, that she wore rompers or coveralls when she was playing with Willard (11 months her senior) and Edwin (3 years older than she) or the 13 other boys of Oysterville who were the only children near her age.  No little  girls.  I also know that she sometimes wore a cap to cover her curls — for bellying under the barn for eggs or climbing and running and hiding in the woods with all its stickery threats to a little girl’s hair.

Willard and Dale, 1914

Too, when she was very young — three or four — her hair was quite short — a curly cap.  When strangers came to the house to see my grandfather on business matters and came across Helen-Dale with her brothers, they often remarked, “What a fine group of boys you have, Mr. Espy.”  An enduring family story was my mother’s indignant reply:  “I’s not a little boy!  I’s a little gill!”

So… how much faith should we have in the census information when it comes out?  Two big errors in the same family within a hundred years probably isn’t a big deal.  But by how many times should we multiply it and with how many grains of salt should we accept the results?



September First! It’s a fact!

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Sunrise Over Willapa Bay, September 2012

It’s an absolutely perfect day today in beautiful downtown Oysterville.  By eight o’clock this morning the risidual fog had burned off, a slight breeze was blowing, and only a few tourists had yet arrived in town.  It promises to be a glorious September — the kind  that we often have in this part of the country.

Actually, September and October are usually our best months — not June, which tends to be drizzly and wet; not July or August which can have uncomfortable hot spells.  But, September and October can be glorious.  And if today is any kind of harbinger, this month will be fabulous, indeed.

 Bust of Aaron Burr as Vice-President (1801-1805)

Historically speaking, though, September 1st is a bit of a mixed bag.  It was on this day in 1807 that Vice-President (our 3rd) Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason against the U.S.   He had been accused of trying to create an independent country in the center of North America including the Southwestern U.S. and parts of Mexico. Burr claimed he was just trying to farm 40,000 acres in the Texas Territory that had been leased to him by the Spanish Crown. He had organized an armed militia of about 60 men. Historians still debate Burr’s true intentions.  Since he had killed the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, I tend to think he was probably guilty of the treason.  Of course, I may be a bit biased, because Hamilton was one of my forebears.

It was September 1, 1873 that the first cable car began service on Clay Street in San Francisco.   My grandmother (1876-1954) grew up in San Francisco and then in East Oakland, California.  She used to tell me about riding the “trolley” but it never before occurred to me that she might have included cable cars in that description.

Judy Garland with Terry, 1939

Sadly, it was on September 1, 1945, that American female Cairn Terrier, actor, Terry died.  Terry played Toto  in The Wizard of  Oz (1939). Known for doing her own stunts, she broke a foot when she was accidentally stepped on by a Winkie guard during the the filming. She appeared in 16 films, including as Rags in the Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes (1934). Originally named Terry, she changed her name to Toto after the filming of Wizard of Oz.

I wonder what today will bring to the historic happenings of September 1st.  I hope it’s good news to accompany this beautiful day.


But… have you gone inside!?!

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

If you’ve driven north through Long Beach on the Pacific Hiway, you’ve seen it.  No one could have missed the knock-your-socks-off purple building that used to be the Picture Attic and is now…. drum roll…. BOLD Arts and Coffee.  But…?  Have you been in?

Yes, it’s open.  Softly.  Owners Daneka Ewert and Greg Holmes say, “If the door’s open, come on in.”  They are still adding finishing touches but the coffee machine is up and running (the cafe mocha is delish!!), baked goods are available,  and the artwork is on display!  YES!  Artwork!  At last count, thirty-four (count ’em 34) “local artists and makers” according to Gallery Manager Sue Svendsen.  The names, familiar and maybe not so.  Their works up and priced and ready to go home with you — watercolors, oils, pottery, stained glass, pastels, you name it!  Bring your check book!

PLUS — books by Jan Bono and me (yes!  my ghost book!!) and Jim Tweedie/David Campiche are on display and ready for purchase, as are CDs by ten talented muscians.  There are soaps and candles and teas, bath products and pet sprays — all by local entrepeneurs and… and… and!

Sip and nibble at tables on the patio or in the gallery surrounded by art — social distancing with a BOLD flair.  Framer Pat Fitting is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays to discuss your framing needs and soon the art supply/classroom space will be ready to go!  Check it all out!  It’s a great new place to “shelter in style” and will improve your outlook, guaranteed!

Beating That Dead Horse Again

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

There’s no way around it.  Our political system flummoxes me to the max.  Last night I watched as the delegates for state after state pledged support for Biden AND for Bernie Sanders — who is no longer running.   I do understand that having a firm delegate count gives Bernie more opportunity to influence the party platform but it is still mighty confusing.  Perhaps all the Democratic candidates should have hung on and the platform could have reflected a percentage of the ideas of each according to … blah blah blah.  I guess I still think in terms of “majority wins” and trust that the chosen one will honestly try to consider all ideas…  Probably naive to the max.

But that isn’t the part of our election process that bothers me the most.  It’s the electoral college.  I’ve had the reasons explained to me ad nauseum and I still don’t get it.  Why, when I lived in a populous state, did my vote count for less than it does now that I live here in Washington.  What is fair about that?

This is what the pro-electoral-college folks say:  The suitability of the Electoral College system is a matter of ongoing debate. Supporters of the Electoral College argue that it is fundamental to American federalism, that it requires candidates to appeal to voters outside large cities, increases the political influence of small states, preserves the two-party, and makes the electoral outcome appear more legitimate than that of a nationwide popular vote. 

Opponents argue that the system is antithetical to a democracy that strives for a standard of “one person, one vote” in that it can thwart the will of the majority of the nation’s voters by producing an outcome where one candidate wins the popular vote but another wins the electoral vote and thus the presidency (which happened most recently in the 2016 election makes it easy for candidates to focus their resources disproportionately on just a few “swing states”, and gives citizens in less populated states more voting power than those in more populous states.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I live outside (WAY outside) a large city and I don’t give a fig for the two-party system.  I want to vote for the candidate who makes the most sense and has the best plan for our nation, no matter what party he/she belongs to.  And I want my vote to count no matter where I live. Period.  In our highly mobile society, demographics change by the minute. I can’t believe that people change their political stripes if they move from one state to another.  Why shouldn’t each vote be counted no matter where you live?  And just which three million votes of Hillary’s weren’t counted, anyway?

But… it seems to be the old dead horse story and the Old Boy Network prevails.  We can but hope that truth and justice prevail as well.  And P.S. — I do like the virtual convention format!  Much more user friendly, at least so far.