Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

Twenty-four Hours of Glorious Gallimaufry

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

After almost 50 years — a new mattress!

I was gone from St. Vincent’s for just over twenty-four hours — five or six spent driving, seven or eight spent sleeping, and the rest spent in a wonderful hodge-podge of people and events and life-outside-the-hospital things.  The only downside was that Nyel wasn’t with me.  On the other hand, ‘they’ are making noises about discharging him soon — maybe early next week.  To a rehab situation.

Happy Mother’s Day from Marta!

My first stop was at Adelaide’s where I had a much-postponed coffee date with my friend Ruth.  It took us an hour and a half to catch up with medical news (both of us), children news (both), moving news (Ruth), and silliness (mostly me.)  Then I beat feet home to get ready for one o’clock delivery of a new mattress and box springs, ordered for our bed by Nyel weeks before this hospital stay.

Looking for Farmer Nyel

The deliverymen called at twelve-ten.  Could they come early?  You bet!  They were intrigued with the house and even admired our old mattress with its built-in ‘handles’ for moving it around.  “This is a collector’s item!” said the older of the two  “We may just display it in our store window.”  That made me chuckle.

Ice Cream

My folks got that mattress in 1971 from Sears — had to have the antique bed lengthened by four inches to accommodate the “new, longer” mattress size.  Our replacement  (which, sadly, I had to sleep on last night without Nyel) is actually an inch or so shorter than that old Sears number.  But, oh! so firm and fully packed (to borrow from an old Lucky Strike jingle).  I slept like the proverbial log.

Ready for Memorial Day

And… on to Friday Night.  Quite a crowd of “regulars” came to exchange the latest guzz’n’gossip and to talk about the unseasonably warm weather.  As if on cue, in came Sandra with a big bowlful of ice cream cups in many flavors!  Perfect!  Diane talked about Memorial Day Plans — she hoped Nyel would be back to read “In Flanders Fields” as usual, but if not, would I?

Patient Nyel

This morning Tucker and Del got the cannon out of the garage and put it on its new cement pad — a replacement for the one that was broken last fall during our dreaded Septic System Upgrade.  Then, I headed back to St. Vincent’s.  But first, a short stop in Ilwaco at the Heritage Museum to wish Don and Marge Cox a Happy 75th Anniversary!  Wow!  Talk about Role Models!

I had lots to report to Farmer Nyel  or, depending on his hat of the moment, General Nyel.  Actually, when I got here, he had on a shampoo cap —  I guess he was being Patient Nyel.   Not really a look to perpetuate — especially not at a hospital!




Season’s Greetings from Capt. Scarborough!

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Hawthorn in Nahcotta

For the second time this week, I nipped home to take care of a few items of business.  Nyel seemed in the best fettle yet when I left him and several telephone calls since then reveal that he is having a good day!  Yay!

The Peninsula greeted me in all its glory — ablaze with blossoms and colors and, best of all, stately Hawthorne trees all in full bloom.  From Chinook to Oysterville those lovely giants smiled at me and wished me well.  I felt that Captain James A. Scarborough, himself, was saluting me all along my way!

Scarborough was an Englishman – born in 1805 in Ilford, County Essex.  When he was twenty-four, he joined the Hudson Bay Company and first crossed the Columbia River bar aboard the Isabella in May 1830.  He worked for Hudson Bay Company for the next twenty years and, despite reports that his men did not respect him and that he was overly fond of demon rum, he received frequent promotions.

Captain James A. Scarborough

When he was thirty-eight he married Ann Elizabeth, a Chinook woman, and together they established a farm on Chinook Point where Chief Comcomly and his six wives had once lived.  The area became known as Scarboro Hill.   When Congress enacted the Donation Land Law in 1850, James and Ann filed for the land they had been living and working on.  They ended up with 643 acres extending about a mile along the north bank of the river and including all of Chinook Point and most of Scarboro Hill.

Having put in his twenty years for HBC, he retired (or was dismissed, according to some reports), moved permanently to his land claim and, until his  untimely death, devoted himself to farming, commercial salmon fishing, and piloting mail steamers over the Columbia River Bar.  Scarborough’s farm prospered.  He was fond of plants and set out many fruit trees as well as other ornamental and useful trees and shrubs.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – NE Corner of Our Garden

Scarborough died in 1855 (two years after his wife’s demise) under somewhat  mysterious circumstances — there were rumors of poison.  There was also talk of a stash of gold ingots, supposedly buried on Scarboro Hill.  The treasure has never been found but, unbeknownst to most, the captain left behind enduring riches of another sort.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – SE Corner of Our Garden

About 1848, even before he was living there full time, Scarborough planted a Hawthorn tree on the slopes of his hill.  According to all accounts, it was an absolutely magnificent specimen and, for almost half a century, it was used as a local landmark and navigation guide. When in 1897, in preparation for the establishment of Fort Columbia the following year, the Army cut down the tree, there was a public outcry that could be heard throughout Pacific County and even across the river.

Locals flocked to Scarboro Hill, took slips from the tree, and many resultant Hawthorns still thrive throughout the area, including two ‘grandchildren’ at our house. Nyel planted them  ten years or so ago, started from from one of those original “slips” that had become a giant in our front yard, only to blow down in the storm of 2007.  I am happy to report that the “grandchildren” of Captain Scarborough’s tree are thriving!



Chickens and Lilacs and Rhodies, Oh My!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019


I nipped home yesterday afternoon to get the mail, pay some bills, deliver some book orders and get a change or two of clothes — all those itemss that go on hold when things get dicey.   But Nyel was in a good place — pain under control, appetite returning, and most of those pesky numbers looking better.  So, off I went!

So fragrant!

I was greeted in fine style!  The Jean Maries are out in all their glory — as well as the Mrs. G.W. Leaks.  Our lilacs are lucious and even the fuschias are blooming!  I know they are showing off in hopes that Nyel will come home before their glory days have passed.

Our Front Porch!

But, most amazing of all, was the welcome from all five girls.  No sooner was I in the house, than I heard them on our front porch.  Right up to the front door came the little red hen!  I’m sure they were a bit disappointed to find that it was only me — no Farmer Nyel in sight.  Nevertheless, they stuck around for some scratch and listened attentively to my report of things in the big hospital coop in Portland.

Glorious, Glorious May!

In the evening, after a super dinner at the Wachsmuths’, Carol walked across the street with me to “tuck in the girls.”  They left five beautiful eggs in the nest boxes and rustled around on their perches as we said goodnight.  In true farmer fashion, Carol made a a pouch of her sweater and nestled the eggs in it for her walk home.  How lucky we (and the chickens!) are to have such willing neighbors!!



Giving ‘The Farmer Nyel Report’ To the Girls

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Getting The Farmer Nyel Update

Yesterday, I drove home “to take care of a few things” — but mostly, of course to give the girls the first-hand scoop on Farmer Nyel.  He was still in the ICU, but off the ventilator and doing well.  I wanted them to know.

The day was spectacular and our garden was full of color.  If we had been home, I’d have taken Nyel outdoors for a few hours of sunshine and enjoyment.  His apple tree was blooming to beat its record and the Jean Marie Rhodies were coming out in force.  My back-up position, of course, was to take some pictures to show him.

On the Way to the Coop – May 1, 2019

The girls all came out into the run and stood (more-or-less) attentively while I gave them the report on Nyel’s status.  They had a bit of trouble making eye contact with me.  I know the feeling.  When you are concerned, sometimes ‘chastity of the eyes’ makes listening to the news just a bit easier.

I reassured them the best I could — no promises about when he’d be home and a little heads up that it might be a while, even then, before he could resume full coop duties.  But I promised that they could come up to the house to visit — “porch privileges.”

Everything was hunky-dory in the house in spite of it being the site of Sunday’s House Concert.  Between the musician, Wes Weddell, and neighbors Tucker and Carol, you’d never know that several dozen people had attended, eaten dinner, etc without benefit of us.  The furniture had been put back in place, the dishes washed, the carpet vacuumed, — I couldn’t have done better myself.

Our Apple Tree – 5-1-19

I dashed around, taking care of mail, bills, garbage, food in the fridge, phone messages, a dental appointment,etc. all the while checking in periodically to see how Nyel was doing.  Today I’m back here in the ICU where Nyel is how awaiting bed availability on the cardio floor and will be transferred up there — probably today.

Tomorrow a team will remove his pacemaker (which is also ‘infected’ with the MSSA) and he will continue getting physical and occupational therapy.  He says they had him “walking” yesterday and this morning — “Actually, shuffling,” he told me.  “You know… one of my legs is shorter now.”

Yes… I know.   And so do the chickens.  And shuffling is just fine with all of us!  However, whenever, wherever Farmer Nyel gets around, we’re hoping that it happens soon… in Oysterville!

Not so’s you’d notice!

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Free-ranging all over the place!

If the ladies are missing their rooster companions, they aren’t saying.  They aren’t even hanging around pining away.  All five are out and about – in our yard, on the road, and probably visiting the neighbors, though we’ve had no reports corroborating that assumption.

Healing Nicely!

The two randy roosters have been gone for a week and I’m not sure the hens have even noticed.  There has been no slow-down in production.  They are still laying three to five eggs a day – and in the nest boxes, too.  No more of those egg deposits in the run or under the coop (knock wood)! And, their feathers are slowly growing in; the bloody areas on their backs from those wicked rooster spurs are healing.

An Egg in Every Nest Box

The best news of all, from my viewpoint is that our backyard chickens are free-ranging once again.  No worries about rooster attacks on visitors – or me!  In fact, just the opposite.  The ladies come to greet everybody – perhaps hoping for a handout, but more likely just out of curiosity.  They come up on the porch, look in through the window panes in the door and seem to be saying, “Won’t you come out and play?”

Little Red Hen Comes Visiting

I’m pretty sure they are hoping to entice Farmer Nyel outside.  I’ve told them that he is enjoying their antics through the windows and, somehow, I think they get it.  They spend a lot of time in the east garden which gives the Farmer a ringside seat when he is working at his desk.  “As soon as it gets a little warmer,” I promise the girls, “he’ll come outside in his wheelchair to visit.  Maybe he’ll let you hitch a ride!”

Those girls may not miss the roosters but I’m pretty sure they miss Farmer Nyel.  Eggceedingly!

First Outing!

Monday, April 15th, 2019


Nyel took his first outing since TBF (The Big Fall) on February 28th.  Well… I’m not counting visits to the doctor.  There have been two of those, but I consider them practice runs, wheelchair-wise, for the fun stuff. And yesterday’s venture was definitely fun.  The final performance of “HMS Pinafore” at the Peninsula Playhouse in Ilwaco.

We’ve been to the Old Vic in London and to the various theaters at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and to many venues on Broadway – but none can compare with seeing your friends and neighbors in a community theater production up close and personal!  We loved it!

One of the ushers offered to seat Nyel (in his wheelchair) up front, “but the ship’s mast may be in his way,” she said.  My Nurse Ratched personality went into some kind of overdrive and before you could say “Damn the torpedoes” Nyel’s wheelchair had replaced one of the center aisle seats and Tucker and Carol had joined us for a perfect view – no mizzen, no mast, no disrupted sightlines.

During the intermission, Tucker asked if we’d ever been involved with community theater.  “Yes, years ago during the first incarnation of Peninsula Players,” I said.  It was during the ’80s – Lawrence Lessard was our first director; later, Alan Greiner and then Coleman White.  “Spoon River Anthology,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Seven Keys to Bald Pate,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Li’l Abner,” “Many Moons” – and others I’ve long forgotten about.

Our “Shoalwater Storytellers” evolved from those first Playhouse years – Lawrence and I plus Patty and Noel Thomas and Senta and Bob Cook at first.  Eventually just Lawrence and me and then Nyel and me – for almost 30 years!  I loved it all.  Would I do it again?  Nope.  Been there; done that.  I am content to enjoy this new generation of Players!  Encore!

Happy 165th Birthday, Oysterville!

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Sunrise Over Willapa Bay

Statement given by Robert Hamilton Espy on July 13, 1913 and recorded by his son Harry Espy:

Came down [from Wisconsin] Spring ’53; worked at mill six weeks in Astoria; came to Palix in June.  Worked six weeks or so for Mark and Job Bullard and one Brown at Bay Center getting out piles for San Francisco till learned San Francisco could not take them.  Got yoke of oxen for his work.  Turned them out on Palix and John Crellin killed them the next year on shares.

From Bay Center went to North River and helped build mill for [James Clark Strong] who was first legislative Representative from this county.  He [R.H.] scored logs and others hewed.  Worked there till late in Oct.  Then returned to Palix and squatted on what was after Wilson place at fork of Palix.  Built log shack and put some clapboards on it.  Went up middle fork of Palix Falls and caught lot of dog salmon and salted down.  Left in cabin of man named Steel farther down Palix.  Steel went to Astoria, [got] sick and died about Christmas.  About same time R.H. went over leaving some things, including Prince Albert coat, in his cabin.  Next Spring when returned cabin was burned and “Tom Hayes,” Indian, was wearing his coat.  Salmon were all right.

During Winter ’53-’54 sawed logs on beach at Harrington Point with one Ellis and kedged them over to Dad Simmons’ mill near Tongue Point.  Toward Spring he met Clark at Parker’s Mill above Tongue Point and in week or so came over here.  Clark was looking round for opportunity like himself.  While n Palix “Old Klickeas” Indian had told of oysters here and on his telling Clark, he became interested – came over as partner.  [On April 11] came in sail boat to old Chinook, down beach to Wallicut where they secured large canoe and John Edmunds (or Pickernell) hauled across portage to Tarlett Sough ½ mile or so from bay, west of point where was a house – think owned by Pickernell’s son.  Staid overnight then took canoe down slough and down bay.  When came along front of Oysterville tide was out – was foggy – couldn’t see shore but heard something tapping in shore, tied up and came in.  Found Klickeas pounding on old stump on beach (one that had been washing in).  He had seen them coming and tried to callout.  They staid a few days, then went down to Bruceport for supplies.  Stopped at Dick Marion’s present place and picked oysters.

Boys at Bruceport objected and made as uncomfortable as possible.  There were then there Morgan, Winant, the storekeeper (Simmons) and few others.  Garretson was then returned to S.F. and some had gone East.  They thought entire bay belong to then as far as oysters were concerned.  Soon was so uncomfortable they [RH and Clark}returned to Oysterville…

Saucy Hummers — Back with a Vengeance!

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Alone at the Feeder!

I was happy to see Dr. Madeline Kalbach’s “Birdwatching” column devoted to hummingbirds this week.  (And totally awed by the pictures accompanying the article.  Both Dr. Kalbach and her friend Susa Stauffer are fabulous photographers and they put my puny efforts to shame!)

We, too, have been enjoying the return of the rufous hummingbirds at our feeder.  They must have come back while we were in Portland at the hospital because, by the time we got home two weeks ago, they had re-established themselves among the resident Annas and it is (mostly) calm at the feeder.

In the early morning, as the sun is just peeping over the Willapa Hills, they are already distributing themselves around the six feeder stations.  Other little hummers vie to be next in line.  Where do they all go at night, anyway? We probably should get another feeder, but we don’t have a handy hanging spot – not one that we can readily see, that is.  Probably the height of selfishness, eh?

Later in the day, I see the little birds at the barberry by the south gate, checking out the camellias near the east porch, and sitting on the branches of the ready-to-burst-into-bloom- lilacs dotting the property.  I’ve often thought that their nests must be somewhere in the lilac bushes.  There are so many convenient little crotches made by the branches that seem just the right size for a tiny cup-shaped nest.  So far, though, I’ve not seen one.  Not here in Oysterville.

Resting in the Lilac Bush

Years ago, in California, we had an atrium that included, among the plantings, a lovely dwarf Japanese maple.  The same hummingbird family came there every year – at least I think it was the same family – and refurbished their tiny lichen-covered nest.  The female laid two white eggs, smaller than jellybeans, and raised those buggy-looking babies with the love and devotion that only a mother could give such unprepossessing-appearing offspring.  But… they fledged into beautiful Annas and I was always sure that their parents would have been attentive no matter what.

Once, before it became a known health hazard, I was sunbathing on my deck and watched as a humming bird settled herself on my outstretched arm.  Had I not been watching, I’d have never known she was there.  She seemed weightless and I felt blessed to be chosen as her resting place for those few precious seconds.

I don’t know about these Washington hummers, though.  More than once they have flown from window to window and room to room, hunting us down and buzzing at us through the pane to tell us the feeder needs refilling.  Saucy little bits of blurs and beaks!  I never tire of watching them.

Blogging by Moonlight?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay

Since 2008 I’ve taken some pride in having my daily blog written and published on the web no later than eight ayem NoMatterWhat.  Granted, there have been a few misses.  But very few until this past February 28th when Nyel broke his hip and our lives suddenly turned upside down for a bit.   Right now, for instance, it’s seven in the evening and I’m just sitting down to reflect on things.  I wouldn’t be surprised if soon I’ll be blogging by moonlight!

Today started at 4:00 A.M. with hurry up and get ready, eat breakfast, pack a lunch… hurry because the EMTs are coming at 5:30 to get Nyel into the car.  It was non-stop from that point on – up to Seattle to see his cardiologist who had juggled his busy schedule to check Nyel out.  Yes, Nyel has a great deal of extra fluid aboard (what were those St. V. people thinking???).  He is also iron deficient anemic.  And his meds need tweaking.

We are SO glad his doctor urged Nyel to make the trip, painful though it was for him.  And did I say that driving up and back to Seattle in a day is not my favorite activity even when I’m not doing all the driving — which I was this time, of course.  But… it was SO worth it on so many levels, the most important being peace of mind after three weeks of great uncertainty.  Now we can concentrate fully on getting Nyel well and getting him walking and can put our recent experiences behind us.

The March Moon is called this because the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins.

Back home by 5:30 for a cup of tea and a snack and finally time for the blog!  Not by moonlight this time but it’s good to know that, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac this month’s Moon may “appear” brighter and bigger than normal because it is a supermoon –meaning the Moon will be nearly at its closest to Earth for the month of March.  So, blogging by moonlight might not be all bad, if it comes to that.  But I’m hoping that we’ll begin returning to ‘normal’ soon and for me that means blogging at sunrise!  Maybe tomorrow…

Consider it a test…

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

November 2016

Ten hanging baskets of fuchsias and ten fat clay pots of geraniums adorn our south porch.  They have been there every year from spring until mid-fall since 1972.  That’s when my folks retired here to mom’s family home and dad began working his magic with the garden – which extended, of course to the pots and baskets on the porches and the climbing Dorothy Perkins roses on the fences.

Fuchsia – March 2019

Since 1998 when we moved in, Nyel, in his turn, has been the garden steward.  My job is to clap and cheer.  And to weed.  But I don’t touch those porch plants except for occasional watering.  (If reminded.)   Usually, in October, Nyel cuts back the fuchsias and gives them a good soaking and hangs them in the garage for the winter.  This year, though, he broke his leg, and was ordered off his feet for three months so… the baskets remain as they have been for over a year.  Ditto the pots of geraniums, though we usually don’t take them inside.  Sometimes the plants winter over; sometimes not.

Geranium – August 2015

We thought about having me bring one basket at a time inside, having Nyel trim and water, and then me carting them to the garage and hanging them on the ceiling rack made for the purpose.  Great idea but… I’m just too wimpy.  I can carry one basket at a time… barely.  But lifting that same basket dripping with water… forget it!  So, the fuchsias join the geraniums in the wait-and-see mode.

Geranium – March 2019

Even if some of them make it, I’m afraid they will not be things of beauty.  Nyel is a great trimmer; Mother Nature, not so much.  Not with porch plants, anyway.  We have decided to consider it all a test.  If things turn out well, no telling how slothful we may become.  But, if the results are bad, we may have to rethink the porch plant thing – especially if Nyel continues breaking all the parts of that pesky leg!

With apologies to Dad, of course, and to Hank Batten who was his right-hand garden helper.