Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

It was “one of them variable days.”

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Chef Nyel works on tomato pie.

“Old Bob,” Oysterville’s handyman in the ’60s and ’70s. used a lot of expressions that have stuck with us over the years.  He often would remark on “one of them arty fellas” when he saw someone working at an easel near the church.  And, when asked, he usually concluded that it was going to be “one of them variable days” weather-wise.  Like yesterday.

Mostly it was sunny, so Nyel wore his old Panama hat.  But it was also chilly, so he wore his vest.  It was drippy around the edges — early morning and later in the evening.  Not enough to notice, really, unless you were wearing only your “variable” outfit.

Ms. Geranium — ready for The Season after Nyel’s TLC.

For us it was clean up the hanging baskets and the potted geraniums on the porch.  I fetched and carried while Nyel did the real work.  I do believe those plants know his touch.  They seemed to perk up as soon as he began snipping away the old bits and scratching up the soil around the plants.  Everyone–twelve  fuschias and nine geraniums — except for three, wintered over just fine.  Definitely no thanks to me, their Assistant Caregiver.

Coals in the Firepit

While we worked, we could hear the chain saw across the way where Tucker, Carol, and Chris were still cleaning up the aftermath of the fallen alder tree.  And all afternoon and evening we could smell the delicious fragerance of alder smoke from T&C’s firepit where they were burning the bits and pieces.  All my senses reported that it was a perfect Spring day in the village.

It wasn’t until Nyel was almost ready to pop that tomato pie in the oven that I noticed he was still wearing his vest and his Panama hat, though he had been inside at his kitchen duties for almost an hour.  Yep!  One of them variable days!

…and just on the brink of Spring!

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

The Picket Fence Mostly Unscathed – A TW Photo

She was just beginning to leaf out for the 2021 season.  I wonder if she felt disappointment as she fell.  Or, maybe it was time and she was resigned. I’m not sure how old she was.

It seems as though that tall alder tree had been growing in the old berry patch for as long as I can remember, right next to her sister tree.  But, of course that can’t be right.  Funny, how you never have just the perfect photograph to refer to when the time comes.  And our memories are so foggy now.

Carol W. and I Take A Look –  A TW Photo

Nyel was actually outside and within a few dozen yards and even fewer minutes of the crash, but he didn’t see or hear a thing.  He was on his way inside — ironically, to get out of the wind.  His phone was ringing by the time he reached the kitchen and it was Tucker with the news.  It all happened just across from the Driscoll and Wachsmuth properties.  Part of her broke off near the ground; part of her uprooted.  The picket fence stood firm, even though she landed squarely on it.  Tucker called the PUD to tell them that the transformer had been skewed on its cement pad

“No damage.” said the PUD. A TW Photo

I went out to take a look and already one of the workers at the place next door had cut some of the branches to clear School Street.  “So cars can get through,” he said.  It’s on ORF property —  on the northeast corner of Territory Road and School Street. I think Chris has offered to do the cleanup.  That property was overgrown with blackberries all during my childhood and even into the not-so-long-ago — hence the name “the berry patch.”  A lot of pies and jellies and jams came from there.  But that was BG (Before Gentrification) and probably before the alder tree.

I wonder what she was thinking as she fell.

Here in Oysterville… June!

Monday, June 15th, 2020

I’m not sure about other places, but here in Oysterville the month of June is usually a bust.  It equivocates.  It’s ambiguous.  It shilly-shallies around.  It is definitely unclear about its intent.

Seldom (actually, some years never) is there a “rare” June day as described by poet James Russell Lowell.  Nor is it “bustin’ out all over” as the Rodgers and Hammerstein song declares.  It doesn’t present us with “dry, hazy June weather” as Henry David Thoreau suggested.  Mostly, it’s a little of this and a little of that but nothing you can count on here in Oysterville.

May promised us picnic weather on the way.  But, apparently not in June.  Usually, too, June delivers the end of school days and gives proms and graduations and the beginning of a sunny future.  This year, not quite so much; not quite the same.  And not just here in Oysterville.

Here in Oysterville for almost 40 years, June has meant the beginning of our Summer Vesper Programs with Sundays of music and blessings and cozy fellowship.  In the uncertain June weather, we  have counted on the church providing the warmth of remembrance and the feeling of past generations reassuringly nearby.  This year is different and June has fewer places to c0zy up in here in Oysterville.

Today we are halfway through this dithery month.  We woke up to wind and rain.  But, even at five-thirty it was light.  And warm.  Not January or February.  Not July or August, either.  By ten, the clouds were trying to make way for blue skies but the trees and shrubs still dripped.  The wind still blustered a bit.  Maybe it will yet offer a few hours of outside lollygagging time here in Oysterville.  Who knows?  It’s June!

Five more days until summer.  Fifteen days until June can be put to rest for another year.   Surely July will bring warmth and watermelon and days for wading in Willapa Bay right in front of Oysterville!

On the other hand, according to an old English proverb:  “If the first of July be rainy weather, It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together.”  YIKES!  Surely not here in Oysterville!

When Wednesday Was Hump Day

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Postcard of Oysterville Post Office  Outide and Inside

For years (probably since I retired in 2001) I’ve considered Wednesday “Paper Day.”  It’s the day the Chinook Observer is published and arrives early in the morning in my mailbox at the Oysterville Post Office.  Lately, since we’ve been sheltering, Wednesday has become “Mail Day.”  It’s not that I don’t go other days, but I’m spasmodic about it.  I always go for my mail on Wednesdays.

When I was working, some people called Wednesday, “Hump Day.”  I didn’t much like that most years — not unless it was one of those years when the class coming through was extra difficult.  (We used to attribute those classes to a conception year when the water was bad, for some reason…  Ask an old teacher if you don’t believe me.)

“Wednesday’s the day we sweep the floor…”

Mostly though, I didn’t like the term “Hump Day.”  I really loved my job and there were never enough days in the week to do all the fun things I wanted to do — especially as the years went by and the demands of from the State became more time-consuming.  And less appropriate for educating kids… but that’s another story.

In the old nursery rhyme, “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” Wednesday was the day we “swept the floor.”  Maybe by 1965 when hump day became popular, we were more likely to have wall-to-wall carpets and vacuuming wasn’t quite the focus it had been in mid-19th century when it first showed up.

An earlier days-of-the-week song, going back at least to the arrival of the Mayflower, was  “Wash on Monday.”  The duties of each day differed a bit from the Mulberry Bush version that most “Mother Goose” books include:

From “The Nursery Rhymes of England”

Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Bake on Wednesday,
Brew on Thursday,
Churn on Friday,
Mend on Saturday,
Go to meeting on Sunday.

It seems to me that, if we’d been taught the “Wash on Monday” rhyme, the focus would have been on Thursday rather than Wednesday… As in forget hump day.  Whatcha brewin’ tomorrow?


The Sunday Morning Show

Sunday, April 26th, 2020

Mrs. G.W. Leak in Our Garden

Six o’clock in the morning on this twenty-sixth of April.  The sun is just peeking over the horizon.  The tide is beginning to recede.  Nyel and I, still abed, are propped up and sipping coffee. No hurry.  It’s Sunday and, anyway, we’re sheltering.

Elk Herd in Oysterville, c. 2015

And then the show begins!  Through the window just beyond the foot of the bed, we can see movement out on the shoreline.  Elk!  Several of them.  No — at least a dozen!  Eating something.  What? we wonder…

Our Old Pear Tree

But before we can speculate, more Elk People coming from the south — maybe from Dobby’s.  There’s a herd that hangs out there now and then.  Just last week or so he told me they’d been there for a few days.  “Do they bother your garden?” I asked.  “No, never.  They have other plenty of food around here.  And, it’s fenced — though that wouldn’t faze them if they decided to check it out.”

We watch them for a long time.  They are huge — some huger (is that a word?) than others.  As we watch, I wonder what Mrs. G.W. Leak and the Jean Maries and Bosque Pear think.  They, especially Bosque, have a better, closer view than we do. Do they envy the elks’ mobility?  Do they feel at all vulnerable?

Jean Maries Beginning to Blush

And then… one by one… Elk People on the move again.  We count fifteen.  Walking north unhurried.  We think about getting up.  It’s 6:45.

But wait!  Here they come again.  Running hell bent for election.  Fifteen, eighteen, twenty six — at least thirty!  Back to Dobby’s?  What’s the hurry?  The Jean Maries are all a-blush with garden secrets at this time of year.  Maybe they know.

Patchwork Of Another Sort

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Mom’s Patchwork Quilt

My grandmother wasn’t a quilter and neither were her daughters.  But my mother did make at least one patchwork quilt and, as old and tired as it is, I do love it dearly.  She made it in 1932.  She was at home here in Oysterville waiting until my dad was earning enough money at Roger Babson’s Statistical Organization so they could afford to get married.  It took two years.

For that two years, mom worked on her trouseau — mostly re-working discarded clothing of her older sisters so that she could have a wardrobe appropriate to far-off Boston.  She also hemmed napkins and embroidered tea towels  and put lace edging on pillow cases.  (I think the lace was re-cycled from things of my great-grandmother Julia’s.)

Two Greens – Not a Shadow

While she was at it, she made the quilt.  Once, long ago, she told me what each different piece had come from — a dress of my grandmother’s, an old pair of rompers of Willard’s or Edwin’s, perhaps some left-over fabric from the kitchen curtains.  I wish I had written it all down.

The only patchwork item (if you can really call it an “item”) that has been created in this household during my lifetime is our lawn!  And what a patchwork it is!  Different colors, different textures, different densities, different rates of growth!  And, different-sized patches!  Maybe this is more a crazy quilt pattern that a patchwork design.

There is no rhyme but plenty of reasons to it, and I do know something about each patch.  In the beginning when the folks first moved in, the main part was put in by my dad.  The part we call “the croquet court” was done by Willard.  Part is in place of a large flower bed and was done by Nyel.  Part (a big patch) was done by Beach Time Landscaping when we had to have our septic system re-done.  It obliterated most of Willard’s patch.  And then there are the scattered patches that I’ve worked on — the little round areas that repair the mole damage.

Green, Greenish, Greener

All-in-all… it’s a mess!  Ten thousand square feet of this and that.  But… it beats most alternatives and until we have a lot more than the promised stimulus money (which we haven’t seen yet) we aren’t intending to replace it.  We’ll just continue to patch, patch, patch.

Random Thoughts While Waiting

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

Our morning coffee discussion has become a little tedious of late.  Not enough outside stimulus as in interaction with the real rather than the virtual world.  And speaking of stimulus… that was today’s main topic.  As in how much, when, and who will be involved in those stimulus checks.  The best I can understand is that “they” will use our 2019 income tax records to determine how much and  will make a direct deposit to our bank account.

Our conversation led to a lot of speculation, mostly concerning those who are “off the grid.”  I guess the survivalists and others who have made a lifestyle of avoiding the mainstream have things figured out so that they have no need for a stimulus package.  But what about those who are on the fringe — a lifetime of pick-up jobs, no social security connections, never paid income tax, no bank account.  What about those folks?

Or are there any people left in our bureaucratic society who are truly off the grid?  I remember during the 60s being visited by a couple with the improbable names (couple-wise) of D’neal and D’lean.  I had met D’neal at San Francisco State when I was taking classes to get my teaching credential.  He was charming, lived in the Haight with D’lean and a bunch of other young people, and I think he just floated around the student cafeteria looking for opportunities.

A few years later the two of them showed up at our house in Castro Valley with  100 pounds of chicken food.  They were on foot and said they were on their way to the Santa Cruz Mountains to live off the land, supplemented by that chicken food.  Go figure.

I’m sure they wanted help with their endeavor but we were very much of the mind that if you were able-bodied you worked for your living.  It was clear to me that if you could head into the mountains, each lugging a 50-pound sack of chicken feed, you were able-bodied enough.

We never heard from them again.  For all I know, they are now corporate CEOs and are a part of the Establishment with a capital E.  But, if not, will they manage to score a couple of stimulus checks???

And so the discussion goes in our household.  How about yours?

Happily Hunkerin’ and Hardly Hankerin’!

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

I really am so happy to be home with plenty of time to write, I’m beginning to lose patience with all the folks who are complaining of boredom and resorting to mindless games on Facebook to pass the time.  I know that’s not one bit fair, so I gave myself a mental exercise that might help me follow the advice of Robert Burns: O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!   

Sydney On the Road to Madrid, 1958

What if things were the other way around, and for some reason inside living  spaces were off limit?  I could go to restaurants and to movies and to concerts and coffee shops, but I couldn’t go home?  I don’t think I’d be very good at that.  I did live ‘out of a suitcase’ in Europe for a year in 1958/59.  But I was a lot younger then.  And it was a choice, not a have-to.

Thinking about it did make me realize how thankful I am that I can find an  infinite number of things to think about, to explore, and to marvel at right within my own four walls.  And with the  help of the internet, there is no dearth of entertainment and “outside” stimulus.  When I’m feeling extroverted, I can easily reach out to friends and even strangers via Facebook or Skype or email.  And if I’m feeling Greta Garbo-ish, I can find plenty of solitary pursuits.

Library Corner at Our House

So, life could be much, much worse, at least at my end of things.  I hope all my friends are finding similar ways to made that lemonade.  I think we’ll be drinking it for quite some time.

Walk softly and carry a yardstick!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

“Social Distancing.”  “Shelter in Place.”  “The Six-Foot Rule.”  “Wash Your Hands.”  “Don’t Touch Your Face.”

Whoda thunk these would be the Words To Live By for the 2020s?  Perhaps just for this year and, even better, perhaps just for this month.  But…  bottom line, we don’t really know.  With that in mind, I thought Governor Inslee’s tone was a bit soft last night.  After what many experienced along our coast this past weekend — an onslaught of tourists, apparently — I’m not sure he was firm enough.

I’ve always said  the bay side of the Peninsula is by and far the best side when it comes to living here.  This last weekend, for instance, while thousands of people headed for our beaches, we had very few visitors here in town.  Only two or three cars stopped at the church and one or two went (too fast!) through town toward Oysterville Sea Farms.  It was actually eerily quiet for a beautiful weekend in Spring.

Nyel and I have been sheltering in place for two full weeks now.  Nyel hasn’t been off our property at all and I’ve only been out to Jack’s (once), the  pharmacy (once), and the post office.  Oh… and to the bank once before they limited access.

But I’ve been working on complete isolation.  By doing that mobile app deposit thing, I’ve now cut out the necessity of the bank.  We’ve been ordering groceries online so that necessity is taken care of.  And, yesterday I read that the pharmacies of Long Beach and Ilwaco have a “delivery service for seniors” arranged with the local police.  I hope Ocean Park is figuring out a similar plan.  We don’t have police at this end and I know Deputy Sheriffs are already spread thin, but maybe there’s another way.  If there is, I’m sure the O.P. staff will figure it out.  They are THE BEST.

So, for me, that just leaves the post office.  I’ve been limiting my visits to three times a week but I can probably cut down to one or two.  Even so, yesterday I had to mail a package and, in the time that took, three people popped in to get their mail.  In case you haven’t been in our post office and don’t know it’s size, I can tell you unequivocally there is no way two people can be in there and have six feet between them.  I am tempted to make a big sign for the door:  ONE PERSON AT A TIME, PLEASE.  But I’d no doubt get in big trouble; the P.O. has lots of “can” and “cannot” rules about posting signs and notices..

Inside the Oysterville Post Office

I’m also thinking of carrying a yardstick when I go outside.  Added to the length of my arm, it’s still a foot short of the six-feet rule.  But, even so, I’ve found that many people “forget” or have a truncated idea of what six feet looks like. And even though it  couldn’t be used in the post office, it might serve as a reminder to  the stubborn and the gormless.

Supermoon, Worms, Robins and… Rats!

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Tonight, March 9, 2020

For whatever reason, Nyel and I were completely unprepared for yesterday’s time change.  “Spring Ahead” had not entered our thoughts.  So when Nyel awoke at 6:15, according to his cell phone, and said, “I guess I forgot to set the alarm…it’s late,” it wasn’t all that late at all.  In fact, by the old time, we were fifteen minutes early.

The day here in Oysterville was gorgeous — blue sky, fluffy clouds, bright sunshine — but just a tad chilly.  Even so, it seemed like Spring to me — and the robins apparently thought so, too.  Nyel spotted several out on the lawn checking out the worm supply.  So… those  cheerful red-breasted fellows are harbinger-ing already, even though the official first day of Spring isn’t for another ten days.

A Welcome Visitor

As for the worms, they and the soil conditions must be right on schedule.  On this very night Earth will host the Super Worm Moon — the full moon which (according to the “Old Farmer’s Almanac”) refers to the fact that earthworms and grubs tend to emerge from their winter dormancy at this time of year, marking a sure sign of spring! 

The “super” part of tonight’s full moon is because it coincides  with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit. Super .moons make the moon appear a little brighter and closer than normal, although the difference is hard to spot with the naked eye.

Reading Material for Farmer Nyel

What isn’t one bit hard to spot with the naked eye is the evidence that there is a rat in our chicken coop. YUCK!  It’s a first for us — in the coop, that is.  We had mice and rat problems of our own in our laundry room last summer.  DOUBLE YUCK!  So, here we are in the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese calendar and, apparently, not finding a welcome at the main house, they’ve moved in with the chickens.

Never mind that the astrological rat, according to the Chinese,  is a clever and quick thinker, successful but content with living a quiet and peaceful life.  Sharing the coop with our chickens is a big problem — as in what is a safe way (for Big Red and his girls) to get rid of the four-footed food thief?  Farmer Nyel is researching… Stay tuned.