Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

Samsung with Dell in Retrograde?

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

“What’s your sign?” was the pick-up line of choice in California bars in the late sixties and seventies.  Or so I am told.  By the summer of 1967 (‘The Summer of Love”) I was married with children and teaching in Hayward in the East Bay.  Hanging out in bars was not a part of my lifestyle.  Not that it ever had been.

If I had any hangout time at all, it might be during a ten-minute recess break in the Teacher’s Room – where everybody knew your name.  And, in those days, they knew your sign as well.  So, if your day was going badly, someone would be sure to reassure you with words like, “Mars is in retrograde; things will be better tomorrow.”

I wasn’t a horoscope junky.  I’d ‘had my chart done’ – mostly because it was a freebie by a friend who was just starting up a horoscope business – in Berkeley, of course.  I knew that I was a Pisces with Aquarius ascending (or something like that) but not much else.  I admired (sort of) those who followed and believed, but I couldn’t suspend my own disbelief far enough to join in.  Nevertheless, when things are going particularly badly, even all these years later, I’m a bit tempted to look at my horoscope.

1969 – Sydney and Another Notable

What makes me stop short is that I don’t remember (if I ever knew) what all that terminology means and, for me, there has to be some sort of reasonable explanation for whatever the predictions are.  Reasonable and understandable.  Otherwise, I might as well buy a bag of Chinese fortune cookies and brew myself a cup of tea.

So, no one could have been more amazed than I this morning when my computer was misbehaving and “What’s your sign?” came downloading from my brain and spewing out of my mouth!  As might be expected, my computer screen gave no answer at all.  But, thought I. it does stand to reason that the planets might have some influence over an object with a direct line to cyberspace.  Such as my recalcitrant computer.  Some pesky app in retrograde would be as understandable to me as anything else.  And certainly preferable to the old standby, ‘operator error.’

Wake Up Call!

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Screen Shot – Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Oysterville was without power for a little over thirteen hours yesterday.  I’m not sure about the rest of the Peninsula.  Though we’ve pieced together a part of the story, I’ve not heard many corroborating details yet.  I did learn, though, that our ever-present Oyster Shell Telegraph doesn’t always cover the entire Peninsula. I’ve always thought it a pretty reliable communication method, but yesterday it showed itself as having at least one black-out pocket of its own.

When the lights went out, I was at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, just sitting down to lunch at the final Community Historian session.  No worries.  There was plenty of light coming in from the windows in the small meeting room and we didn’t linger long enough to notice the creeping cold.

Screen Shot — Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Near 227th on the way home, cones blocked our side of Sandridge suggesting a detour.  Up ahead we could see flashing red lights and figured there had been an accident that had compromised a power pole.  We detoured up to U Street and cut back to Sandridge on Bay, all the while noticing that there were no lights along the way.  Everyone looked to be out of power so we were not surprised to find Oysterville dark.

I decided to catch up on some telephone calls and the first person I talked to happened to be Cate Gabel who was out walking her dog.  She had just seen a Medix helicopter land in a field in Ocean Park to life flight an accident victim and, ever the reporter, had asked about the situation.  No details.  Just hope expressed that the patient would make it.

As the house began to get cold, we took the car, cranked up the heat and went on some errands.  No power at the bank; just the drive-up window.  One bill of our cash deposit immediately blew out of the drawer and was carried off in the wind.  The teller rushed out to the rescue and found the twenty-dollar bill in the field to the west.  “Second time today!” she said cheerfully.  We were also told by another bank employee that the accident involved a fatality.

Lights Wth The Push of a Button at Our House!

On to the library across town.  Power on.  Then down the highway to North Long Beach to get chicken feed.  Power there, too.  “No, it wasn’t an accident; they’re just replacing power poles on the back road,” we were told.  Hmmm.  We went home, took a nap under our down comforter and then went out for dinner.  Every restaurant we passed had parking lots full of cars.  Usual for a Wednesday night in April? Not sure. We thought it probably was because of the outage.

At the Roo we visited with our next-table-neighbors – friends we haven’t seen for a long time.  “If there’s power by tomorrow night, come over for dessert,” they said.  So… when the lights came on in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking “Oh boy!  Dessert!”  Pretty good wake up call, eh?

A Point to Ponder

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

“If the County is so damned broke, why are they continuing to pursue Dan Driscoll and Oysterville Sea Farms?  How much drain is their current court appeal on the county?”

We ‘ve been asked that question many times since last week’s banner headline in the Chinook Observer:  Money cliff nears for Pacific County with the sub-head Top official: Worst situation in her 30-year career.  I imagine there will be some letters to the editor in today’s paper asking the same questions.  I hope so.

We’ve certainly been pondering that question ourselves.  But not out loud to anyone who could give us an answer.  We gave up on that long ago.  There is undoubtedly some cosmic law regarding perfectly intelligent, well-meaning people saying one thing when they run for office and another as soon as they are sworn in.  Those of us who ask questions are suddenly ‘outsiders’ and don’t understand the full implications yada yada yada.

Pacific County Courthouse

Personal Privacy vs Full Disclosure?  Maybe something like that.  Whatever the reason/excuse/pretext is, it seems endemic to public officials and public employees in general to begin their jobs with good intentions and end up giving us folks outside the loop answers in governmental gobbledygook.  Like ‘these dollars’ can only be used for ‘this purpose’ or that the State makes increasing demands of Counties without commensurate financial compensation.

But I don’t think the Oysterville Sea Farms situation comes under those sorts of budget constraints.  Nope.  This is a home-grown affair and, as I see it, it’s sucking up a lot of our tax dollars.   Money that could go toward keeping staff positions that may otherwise be threatened with layoffs.  It seems a no-brainer for the County to drop their appeal and save the money

Dan Driscoll

As a result of this blog, I’ll likely hear from both sides of the OSF equation.  I hope not. We’ve had ten long years to listen to the pros and cons. We’re tired of the bureaucratic answers.  In fact, we’re tired of the bureaucracy – the entire convoluted process.  And we are dead tired of wondering how much money the County has spent on this unpopular pursuit of one of our most popular Oysterville residents.

Whatever happened to the of, by and for the people?  You’d think in a County the size of ours, we could get it right.  But, no.  We ‘outsiders’ seem destined to just keep pondering…

Sheltering in Oysterville

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Rainy Day Vista

“Oh, good.  You’re home!” came Cate’s voice over the wire.  “Aida and I are on a walk in Oysterville and it just started to pour.  Can we come by?”

Over cups of tea we spent an hour talking, talking, talking – mostly, of course about Aida’s Willapa Bay AiR residency.  Much to her delight, it has given her the opportunity to complete the second draft of her second novel.  The manuscript is ready for translation from Farsi to English, the first step on the road to publication.  It’s a love story – an immigrant and a U.S. citizen and their struggle to overcome ‘the cultural divide.’ A topical subject, for sure.

Aida told us, too, of the difficulties Iranian citizens have in getting a U.S. visa.  Since we have no embassy in Tehran, it is necessary to take the expensive flight to Dubai to be interviewed by U.S. immigration authorities. The wait for an appointment is incredibly long.  Had it not been for intervention by Willapa Bay AiR’s founder, Cyndy Hayward, Aida’s March residency would not have occurred.  As it turned out, she arrived two weeks early after quickly making her travel arrangements as soon as Trump’s first immigration/travel ban was blocked by court order.

Storm Shelter

I was a bit taken aback to learn that yesterday was the final day of her Residency.  Where did the time go?  She leaves today for a month of travel – seeing friends across the United States and revisiting New York where she spent time several years ago.  While there, she hopes to make some useful contacts that will ultimately lead to the perfect translation of her book.

Our hour went too quickly.  Aida was delightful – warm, enthusiastic, incredibly chatty.  I thought back to my first knowledge of her – back in the fall of 2016 when she had been accepted to the Residency.  I think it was my February 1st blog that ‘broke’ the news that she might not be able to come because of Trump’s travel ban — the first of the headlines that caused a stir far beyond Oysterville.

Aida and Sydney

It was heartening to learn that Aida had “met so many wonderful people” while she was here and I greatly regret that it never worked out for us to get to know her earlier — despite the possibilities of  Friday Night Gatherings or dinner or even a House Concert.  Who’d a thunk it would be the blankety-blank rain that would bring a visitor from clear across the world into our house?  Thanks, Cate, for knowing that there’s always shelter here!

Help Me to Understand

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Oysterville Store and Post Office c. 1940

The U.S. Post Office is at it again.  Oysterville is under attack.  It’s not quite like it was last time when we were one of many small, rural Post Offices being considered for closure.  No, this time our little Post Office will be staying open but we will be losing our Postmaster, Steve Fricks.  He will be replaced by someone new.

It’s not that Steve wants to leave.  Far from it.  This is his ‘dream’ job – close to home, part-time, pleasant (if a bit quirky) working conditions, and friendly (also a bit quirky) postal patrons.  From my viewpoint on the opposite side of that little postal window, Steve is a perfect fit for Oysterville – always pleasant, informative, and helpful – especially with some of us elderly folks who might need assistance in carrying a package or in understanding which mailing method might be best.

Postmaster Jean Smith, w008

Steve is the seventeenth Postmaster in Oysterville’s history.  I think that’s a remarkably small number considering ours is the oldest continuously operated post office in Washington, beginning on April 29, 1858 with Isaac A. Clark as Postmaster.  Several of Oysterville’s oldest residents remember the five who proceeded Steve– Minnie Andrews, Muriel Wright, Mary Munsey, Casey Killingsworth, and Jean Smith. I think that they all stayed until they retired or left of their own volition.  Not so Steve.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have the story quite straight.  I had heard from a friend that her friend was applying for the Oysterville postal position.  “That can’t be right,” said I, but upon checking with Steve, I found it was absolutely true.  “I am being transferred to Ocean Park,” he told me, “but not by choice.”

Mailboxes at the Oysterville Post Office

It seems that someone (actually two someones) in Ocean Park are moving ‘up’ to positions in other post offices.  Somehow, that means that Steve has to be offered one of those jobs – a “step up” but a step he doesn’t want to take.  If he refuses, his employment with the Post Office is over for now.  He can reapply in X number of years.  Apparently, it’s a union rule, designed to ‘protect’ workers from being passed over when jobs become available.

Say what???  I thought Unions were for the protection of employees…  Bureaucracy with a capital B if you ask me.  “What can we do?” I asked Steve.  “I don’t think anything,” was the reply.  Probably not, but I’m determined to lodge a complaint, anyway, beginning with a call to “Chris” at the Ocean Park Post Office.  I believe he is Steve’s immediate supervisor.  I know that it will be less than useful but maybe I can find out who the Postal Union contact for this area might be and call that person, too.   Maybe we all should.

One Day at a Time

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

It’s been one of ‘those’ weeks… Consequently, no blogging, no emailing, no response from this end to all the concerned questions from friends and fans. So, though it’s a bit out of my usual blog character – if blogs can be considered to have such an attribute – I will try to recap the past seven or eight days in some sort of staccato, shorthand fashion.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13th – To Portland for CT Scan and Dr. appt. for Nyel. Motel check-in. Tried to get head start on blog. Interrupted by a “Windows Update” at 7 p.m. after which my computer had lost the function of the space bar and the 1, 2, 3, 4 keys. Everythinglookedlikethis (and dates like 1854 came out 85 and 1881 came out 88) which was not conducive to blogging or, more importantly, to working on a Power Point presentation for the Community Historian Class scheduled for March 21st. Stewed about that for way too long – till about 2:00 and discovered…Too.time.consuming.and.unsatisfactory.

THURSDAY, MARCH 14thUp at 4:00 for early check-in at Emanuel Hospital where Nyel is scheduled for an ablation – probably a four to five hour procedure. I aborted my plan to work on my presentation in the waiting room – too tired to think well. Nyel’s procedure took nine full hours!!! Good results said doctor. Nyel groggy with sore throat and rough voice (from breathing tube) but otherwise, comfortable. I was provided a cot in his room for the night.

FRIDAY, MARCH 15th – Drove home at noon with doctor’s orders and prescriptions to fill. Called Mike’s Computers and Mark took a look at my computer remotely – Too involved for a quick fix; arranged to take computer in on Tuesday. Nyel weak but otherwise feeling “okay.”

SATURDAY, MARCH 16th – Worked all day on Power Point presentation by copying phrases in old documents, cutting and pasting them onto Power Point template, typing over the words and saving the spaces. Onerous but do-able. Errands, grocery shopping, house set-up for tomorrow’s House Concert. Nyel about the same – up and dressed, but taking it very easy.

SUNDAY, MARCH 17th – Fine-tuned (read dusted, cleaned bathroom) for House Concert and used spare moments to finish up Power Point program. Musicians, The Winterlings, arrived at 3:00 to set up. Audience (37 people) began arriving at 3:30. Concert from 4:00 to 6:00ish followed by potluck dinner. The Winterlings did not stay overnight as expected so we crashed fairly early after putting house back together. Nyel was a bit tired but said he was ‘okay,’

MONDAY, MARCH 18th – Nyel not well today – quite fatigued, short of breath, dizzy when standing, shaky when walking. Contacted doctor; adjusted meds. Betwixt and between, Nyel napped and I fine-tuned my Power Point presentation.

TUESDAY, MARCH 19th – Nyel feeling considerably better. We met friends in Astoria for a belated birthday celebration for me (we were in the hospital back on ‘the’ day, Feb. 28th). Dropped my computer off at Mike’s and learned that they had just received another computer, same make as mine that had developed the same problem on the same day after a Microsoft Windows update! Hmmm. Stopped at Heritage Museum to transfer my Power Point presentation from my thumb drive to their computer. Discussed pros and cons of repairing my computer with Mike Challis. After consultation with Nyel, decided to upgrade to a new laptop. Don’t know when it will be set up and available for pick up. ‘Rehearsed’ my script for tomorrow. Am ready… more-or-less. Nyel shaky, dizzy, but stronger.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22nd – Nyel feeling better but taking it easy. Presentation (66 slides/100+ historic photos) was exactly an hour with only one or two serious glitches – a minor miracle under the circumstances. Out to lunch with Maggie. Home to find Nyel feeling “okay” but ready for a nap.

TODAY, THURSDAY, MARCH 23rd – Nyel feeling good enough to attend Schoolhouse talk today.   Yay!!!
Figured out how to post from my blog from his computer…maybe.

The Cane-ectomy Song… for Nyel

Monday, May 30th, 2016

334f00c3-ed95-46f0-b999-924a9933c397Yesterday evening Double J and the Boys played to a full house here and, as always, kept us laughing, singing along, clapping, and even doing a bit of whooping and hollering.  Plus, there were quite a few wannabe yodelers in the crowd but it’s unclear whether Judy agreed to give lessons at a later date.

I had about fifty gazillion ‘favorites’ – Janet’s show-stopping “Orange Blossom Special” on the fiddle; Charlie’s “Sharp, Snappy Snake Boots;” and every single one of Judy’s original and always zany originals.  But the hands-down best of all was the song she wrote for Nyel:

 Nyel“Cowboy Boot Tango”

Creased and worn, both pull straps are torn.
Toes are scuffed.  The polish kinda rough.
Fancy black, with stitching on the back.
Hardly new – the heels could use some glue.

They belong to Nyel, but he had not worn them in a while.”
Could only walk with pain… and only with a cane.

But a successful surgery, called a cane-ectomy,
Now he’s walking well. You can hardly tell,
Back in his boots, ready for something new.     
Nyel could be a pro at the Cowboy Boot Tango.

I wish I could note down the music but choose any tango and sing it in rhythm and you’ll get the idea.  It brought down the house and I haven’t seen Nyel laugh that much in a long, long time!

When We Were All Much Younger

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

PosterIn the late 1970s when the village movers and shakers were drawing up the bylaws of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, they determined that the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend would be the best day for holding their annual meeting.  It was the one weekend of the year that “most people would be in town.”  You could count on it!

There were few part-time home owners here then.  “Most people” really meant family members who lived elsewhere – grown sons and daughters who had grown up here and settled elsewhere.   And their children.  Perhaps even their grandchildren. Memorial Day, after all, was a generational holiday – a time of coming together to honor those who had gone before.

IMG_8719So, the ORF annual meetings were well attended.  Often they were followed by a picnic lunch where there was the lively chatter of catching up with old friends – schoolmates, perhaps, of long ago. Or the neighbors’ visiting relatives that only knew one another from summer vacations.  Or even from Memorial Day gatherings back in the years when we still called May 30th “Decoration Day.”

IMG_8714When the Oysterville Water company was formed in the 1990s they, too, chose that Memorial Day Saturday for their annual meetings. Ditto all the above except that our numbers now included people from the ridge (Douglas Drive) – neighbors but not property owners in the Historic District and, therefore, not members of ORF.  Traditionally, OW meets in the church at 9:00 and ORF at 10:00. The first meeting is usually fairly well attended but numbers dwindle after its adjournment.

In fact, ‘dwindle’ may be the operative word for the entire Annual Meeting on Memorial Day Saturday concept, at least for ORF.  There just aren’t as many generational families living here now – not as many ties to the cemetery or to the past and not as many reasons to come for this particular three-day weekend.  Certainly not for the ORF Annual Meetings.  Or so it has seemed in recent years.  Maybe this Saturday will be different. We can but hope!

Something’s Outta Synch

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Our M2adow in March

Our M2adow in March

We knew back in January and February when it rained day after day after day that every drop would be translated into mosquitoes.  We knew as we watched the standing water gather in the swales and in the meadows and in the low area behind the church.  “Gonna be a mosquito problem come Spring,” we’d say.  And there is.

They came early.  In swarms.  The mosquito abatement guy said he’d never seen them so thick up at the cemetery.  But, just when we were in the midst of the ‘to Off or not to Off’ debate’ here came the swallows!  A bounty crop, you might say.  “Ah!  The balance of nature!” some said.  “It will all work out for the best,” some said.

Porch Mess

Porch Mess

Around our house you are more likely to hear, “Damned swallows!  What a mess!”  Two swallow facts contribute to our probably non-PC attitude about the little darlings.  The first fact:  each barn swallow (as most of ours are, though we have cliff swallows, too) eats 850 mosquitoes a day.  (That’s according to Mary McCann on BirdNote.)  That’s the good news.  But that voracious appetite translates into lots and lots of swallow guano.  That’s the bad news.

The second swallow fact:  the little darlings may be a marvel of instinct and perseverance, but they aren’t necessarily smart in their choice of real estate.  Take the one-inch ledge atop our porch windows, for instance.  Some years (like this one) Mr. and Mrs. Swallow try for days and days to build there.  Sometimes they are successful.  Sometimes not.  And sometimes, Nyel intervenes by attaching plastic-strips-that-blow-in-the-breeze as discouragement.

At The Church

At The Church

Meanwhile, though the guano (or SwallowShit as we say in our call–em-like-we-see-em sorta way) builds up on the window, on the window sill, and on the porch which is the main entrance to our house.  Not only do we (and our visitors) need to watch where we step, but we are often dive-bombed and always scolded unmercifully by busy Mr. and Mrs.  They have marked their building site and woe be unto those of us encroaching on their territory.

So, my question is:  in that entire balance-of-nature scenario, what is it exactly that is going to balance the guano problem?  (And, did you know, that when you scrub guano off a painted surface – like your house—the paint comes with it?)  I mean, really!  Rain equals mosquitoes equals swallows equals guano.  Is that really Mother Nature’s idea of a suitable end product?  Surely not.

And did I say, that for the first time in forty years, there are swallow nests in progress at the church?  Three of them, so far.  We can only pray…

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a…

Saturday, May 7th, 2016
Buttercups Galore!

Buttercups Galore!

Nor do I much care what Rhett was talking about.  What I’m talking about are buttercups and this headline I saw recently:  “Physicists find out why buttercups make your chin glow yellow.”  Who cares, for Heaven’s sake?  We all know what it means.  We don’t need to know why it happens!

Yesterday I walked outside to pick some flowers and came across a whole patch of “lawn” that’s almost solid buttercups.  We should probably be digging or spraying or re-seeding or something but, instead, I wanted to sit down with one of my childhood friends and find out if she liked butter.  That’s the whole purpose of buttercups as I see it.

A Field Full of Wishes

A Field Full of Wishes

Never mind that everybody liked butter, according to the buttercup test!  I knew there was something ‘off’ about that, but I figured it was tied up with sunshine, somehow; the test never worked as well on an overcast day.  And, I don’t remember anyone ever saying, “But I don’t like butter!”  That would have been just plain wrong.  After all, what’s not to like?

Those little tiny daisies – also the scourge of the lawn Nazis – were another source of summertime delight.  We spent hours making daisy chains of them.  They became crowns or necklaces or ankle bracelets.  If there were no daisies to be found, we used dandelions but it was far better not to pick them; instead, we let them go to seed.  Then you could make a wish and blow… It never occurred to us that we were sowing next season’s crop – only that our wish would come true if the entire puffy ball dispersed.

At the End of Oysterville Road, 1940s

At the End of Oysterville Road, 1940s

We hunted for four leaf clovers and chewed on sour grass and made whistles out of wide blades held ‘just right’ between our thumbs.  To say nothing of knowing where to watch for the first ripening blackberries and spending hours in the dunes at the end of Oysterville Road looking for wild strawberries.

Will a lawn full of buttercups conjure up all those memories for the grown-up children of seventy years hence?   Will they know (or care) about daisy chains or Rhett Butler or turning cartwheels ten times in a row?  About that, Scarlett, I do give a damn.  I do, indeed!