Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

…and maybe a little sunshine, please?

Monday, June 17th, 2019

 At The Oysterville Church

The Shasta daisies in front of the church have been out in all their glory for several weeks now.  They are spectacular — a fact that I have repeatedly told our own Shastas which are right across the street.   However, ours are still tightly in bud and, in this gray and misty-moisty weather, are probably intending to stay that way for a bit.  Maybe they are a different variety.  I suspect, though, that they are just stubborn.

Farmer Nyel planted them along our south porch years ago and they come back every Spring to brighten our days and to draw the eye away from other garden imperfections.  We eagerly await their arrival each year and I had hoped that this year, especially, they would burst forth a little early.  I thought they would make a suitable setting for Nyel’s homecoming tomorrow.

At Our House

But,  it turns out that daisies are a lot like chickens.  You can’t really count on them and they certainly turn a deaf ear to suggested behaviors.  Oh well…  I know that just being back at home in Oysterville will be excitement enough for all of us here on the homefront — daisies, chickens, and me!  To say nothing of Farmer Nyel, himself!

The face, yes… but not the name.

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

July 2017 – “The Second Batch”

Our house has a very large and complicated footprint,  or at least so it seems to me.  I’m talking from a bird’s viewpoint here.  In particular, a barn swallow’s viewpoint.  There are nooks and crannies, overhangs and gingerbread,  and many areas well-protected from the sharp eyes of predators.  So why, I wonder, do the swallows who come back here, generation after generation, always choose the same two nesting sites?

Both areas are by doors into the house.  In fact, the little darlings build their nests within a foot or so of the two doors we use most frequently.  Without fail, those are the areas the swallows return to (or choose anew) year after year.  This year there are five (coune ’em! five!) nests adjacent to the kitchen door.  Granted, it is a fairly protected area from the eyes of the general public, but we are in and out that door from early to late — on chicken duty or garden duty or compost duty!  Even though they  fly off their nests each time we approach, I can’t help but think that the birds like our company.  Why else would they choose that particular area?

Two of Five Out Our Kitchen Door

The other favorite building site is near our front door — often on the inch-wide ledge above our living room window.  Those front-porch-swallows, too, fly off the nest as visitors approach and, if there is lingering and talking before or after entering the house, Mom and Dad Swallow are likely to make fast and furious passes at the offending miscreants.  Occasionally, Mr. or Mrs. remains on the nest whether or not tall, unfeathered folk are nearby.  I always think those must be  returnees — either the same parent pair who made it back from their last migration or, perhaps, the now grown-up nestling from a year or so before.  They seem wise in the ways of humans — especially the humans of this household.

When I consider that each nest is built by a swallow couple and that they typically make up to 1,000 trips to collect mud for their construction project, I am full of admiration.  Nyel… not so much. He usually tries to disrupt the annual building frenzy to the extent that there are only one or two completed nests in each of their favorite haunts.  (Once the eggs have been laid, though, even hard-hearted Nyel lets them be.  I don’t even need to remind him that they are protected by law.)  This year, of course, he was otherwise occupied in Portland so the swallows worked without interference.

Precariously Perched on Our Front Porch

I think we got off lucky to have just one nest on the front porch.  That area off the kitchen, though — wow!   And did I mention that at least two of the nests have been refurbished again for the umpteenth year — probably as many as ten!  The occupants have never introduced themselves by name and since I have a lousy memory for faces, I’m not sure if we have been neighbors before.  But I’m willing to bet that we have!



Wow! Lookin’ at where they ain’t!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

Larry Freshley once told me that his first job out on the oyster beds when he was thirteen or fourteen was cluster-busting.  The task involves giving a large clump of oysters a smart rap with a crowbar or other heavy implement to separate the oysters (which tend to cleave together) from one another.  To young Larry’s question, “Then what?” his boss said, “Throw them where they ain’t.”

I’ve always thought that was one of the best instructions I’ve ever heard.  So, when I arrived home yesterday and walked around the perimeter of our house to see what my friend Pat Fagerland had accomplished over the past few weeks…  I first had to get over being totally gobsmacked and then found myself “looking where they ain’t.”  Weeds. that is!  Gone!  Not a weed in sightf!  How she managed all that I cannot even imagine.  It would have taken me all summer long to get all of that done and, even so, I’d be going back to the beginning time and time again, never getting to the end at all.

“Don’t you have a hoa?” she laughed when I called her.  “A what?” I think I had her repeat it a couple of times but I still don’t have a clue what she was talking about or even if I heard right.  “I’ll show you when I see you,” she said.  Of course, she made it sound like whatever that tool is made all the difference.  But, I know for a fact that, no matter what, she worked like a trojan to get things in this kind of shape.  “I’m not quite through yet,” she told me.  “I want to get it so you can easily maintain it…”

OMG!  What a wonderful gift of friendship!  I am truly blessed.  And spoiled to the max!!!  And teary every time I look at where they ain’t!



On Being a Commuter… and a Regular!

Monday, May 27th, 2019
SRO for Bayside Singers at Memorial Day Program

The Bayside Singers Perform for SRO Crowd in Oysterville

Day 31 — In our Sunday Night “conference call” last night, Charlie and Marta both remarked that I was almost “commuting” between Portland and Oysterville these days.  Well, not quite.  But it is true that this morning I made the 135 mile trip from St. Vincent’s to Oysterville for the third time in the last eight days.  Still… not quite commuting or at least so I thought until I made my usual pit stop at Safeway in Seaside.

After a dash to use the facilities I went to the Starbuck’s window and, before I could utter a word, the barista said, “Do you want your usual — a tall decaf mocha, double shot, no whipped cream?”  “Yes!” I said in amazement!  “How did you know?”

“Well,” he said.  “I wouldn’t remember your name even if you had told me, “but I’m usually pretty good at remembering what our regulars order.”  Wow!  So, maybe I am a commuter after all!

Sydney Reading “In Flanders Fields”

On this particular morning I headed right for the Oysterville Church where I had promised to take Nyel’s place in reciting (in my case, reading not reciting) “In Flanders Fields” as part of the Ninth Annual Memorial Day Program.

Afterwards, I again substituted for “General” Nyel, explaining to the crowd how we happened to form The Honorary Oysterville Militia and get the cannon in preparation for Oysterville’s Sesquicentennial in 2004    Pvt. Tucker Wachsmuth was the one who took charge of the cannon firing with the special help and  support of Capt. Ron Biggs, Lt. Pat McKibbin, Chaplain, Lt. Phil Coffin and neighbor Mark Seifried.  Nyel called shortly afterwards and swore that the bang could be heard clear off in Portland!  (No doubt it was the meds talking… but never mind.)

General Nyel and The Cannon in Plummier Days

Patient Nyel also reported that they are gradually shifting from IVs to oral meds in preparation for his move to a rehab or swing bed facility.  Fingers and toes crossed — it may happen later this week!

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!