Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

It Seems to be Snowing at Our House

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

Flakes of Paint, Not Snow

The lawns, the flower beds, even the porch – no matter where we look, there is “snow.”  Some of it is an improbably bright pink; some is a faded red; and some is stark white.  The rhododendrons are losing their blossoms!  But, even more distressing, the tired, old paint has been scraped from the house and the residue blows hither and thither, breaking into smaller and smaller flakes.  On the green leaves and on the grass and in the newly mulched beds – wherever it settles – it looks exactly like we’ve been visited by one of those winter flurries.

Snow Falling on Cedars

I remember this phenomenon from paintings past and I know I will be picking up bits and pieces for years to come.  However, when the walls are pristine and white again and the flowers are blooming to distract the eye, I probably won’t give it a thought.  And I console myself with all the other snowfall images that are brought to mind.

My first thought, on seeing those white flakes on the glossy leaves of the Jean Maries was “Snow Falling on Rhodies” which led immediately, of course, to Dave Guterson’s wonderful Snow Falling on Cedars. It’s a book I haven’t read since it’s publication in 1994.  Its subject matter – the racism and hatred of Japanese Americans during World War Two, their incarceration in “Relocation Camps” and their difficulties in returning to their communities after the war – has many implications for our world of today.  I think it’s time for a re-read.

That ‘snow’ also puts me in mind of one of my favorite children’s paintings, Done by a first, second, or third grader in one of my classes at Ocean Park School, it is the quintessential Snow Picture!  There is no question about how the painter felt about that all-too-rare occasion here when the snow really, really comes down fast and furiously.  I wish I could remember who painted it.

In truth, it’s only when I’m working out in the garden that I find those snowy paint flakes distressing.  But I’d better find a way to come to terms with them.  Like so many modern-day aftermaths and consequences, no matter how diligent we are in our clean-up attempts, the problems linger on.  Relentlessly.

Basking in Spring’s Summer Sun

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Basking Nyel

Sunday was a perfect day – weather-wise, Oysterville-wise, music-wise, friend-wise, and every other-wise.  For starters, we woke up with sunshine already streaming in our east windows and the sky remained blue and cloudless all day long.  (Well, that was my impression, but there might have been a bit of white puff here and there.)  It got to be 88° on our south porch but the breeze from the west kept all those “it’s a scorcher” remarks at bay.  So to speak.

As for the bay, itself – gorgeous with its own hint of summer.  On Saturday, Betsy’s Laser had come out of winter storage and gleamed, white-bottom-side-up, in front of our house at what has become known among the sailing set as the Oysterville Moorage.  Tucker had announced that the annual Oysterville Regatta will occur on August 17th and, already, summer seems imminent.

Sunday afternoon also marked our last House Concert of the season.  Double ‘J’ and the Boys arrived in new glitzy regalia and some of us wore our cowboy boots in their honor.  It was the first time (maybe) ever that I remember leaving the door open during our potluck dinner.  It’s not often it’s warm enough to eat outside in our garden, even in summer!  I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture of the folks who had taken their chairs out and were enjoying the ambiance of it all!

Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens

And, maybe to top it all off (and certainly to underscore Nyel’s continued good health) his All Time Favorite Nurse, Holly, came all the way from Vancouver. She and her husband Max and dogs Tater and Bear could only stay for a bit of the Concert. “Work tomorrow,” Holly said, which probably meant being at Legacy Emanuel at six ayem.  We loved seeing them and I couldn’t help thinking that our spectacular weather would surely bring them back soon!

Never mind that yesterday dawned overcast and gray and stayed that way all day.  Today promises to be the same.  But… we are in a summer frame of mind now and so we are going on a field trip!  Yes!  We’re going to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland.  We haven’t been for ages and it seems a fitting way to remind ourselves that, it truly is still Spring.

Waiting for Grass to Grow

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Meadow in Spring

Halfway between our east garden fence and the bay is the swath of land we’ve always called “the meadow.”  Not ‘The Meadow’ across from the Little Red (now Gray) Cottage.  That meadow was once owned by my grandfather and was where he grew hay.  No, the meadow east of our house was pasture for a horse or two and now is just a pleasant open space, ideal for bird-watching.

In the fall, after the nesting birds have vacated, we have the meadow mowed.  It then puddles up, sometimes to pond proportions, and the ducks and brant and other waterfowl have their meetings there.  The eagles perch in the Monterey cypress trees nearby watching for voles and field mice and, often, a red-tailed hawk works the area – back and forth, forth and back in big lazy circles.

Bear in the Meadow

In late spring, when the rains abate and the meadow dries out, the grass begins to grow again.  Now, in mid-May, it is a luxuriant expanse of green and you can almost hear those stalks heading skyward.  By summer, the grass will be taller than the kids at the Red House –  my seventh generation Espy cousins.  Great cover for sneaking over to our house and checking out the nest boxes at the coop.  It’s in summer that some of the native grasses develop their red tops from which the sign on our house, TSAKO-TE-HAHSH-EETLE (place of the red-topped grass) gets its name.

Meanwhile…to the north of our house is a huge of expanse of plain old brown dirt.  I wish I could say that I’m watching it and waiting for the grass to grow.  But, so far, we haven’t even seeded it.  We are waiting for “the inspector” who must okay the work of the electricians who dug the trench for the connections to the new septic system which is under that fallow brown dirt.  Once the inspection is made, the trench can be filled in, and the seeding can take place.

Waiting to be Planted

I feel like all of the above paragraph could become a song and end with “…and the green grass grows all around, all around, and the green grass grows all around.”

From A Reliable Source

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

In The Meadow

We heard some disturbing – no, let’s say alarming – news yesterday about a killer dog on the rampage in Oysterville.  Seriously.  Apparently, it has run down and killed three deer in the area in the last week or so.  One was witnessed by someone I know to be low-key, truthful, and not given to exaggeration.

“Have the incidents been reported?” was our first question.  Our informant didn’t know.

“Whose dog was it?” we asked.  Not one that is known in the area.

“Was there anyone out and about?  As in a frantic owner who had let the dog off its leash?”  No one in sight.

Outside Our Door

Apparently, the kill that was witnessed occurred out on the bayfront.  The deer was running north and the dog – “medium-sized tan” – was flat out behind.  Took the deer down, killed it, and walked away from it.  At least that’s what we were told.

So… this is third-hand information.  I don’t think it’s “fake news” but I don’t really know.  I’m wary these days.  Unless I’ve witnessed something myself, I’m not sure of the truth of the story.  From my perspective, that’s not a comfortable position to be in.  I certainly don’t want to discount such an ominous bit of information.  In my mind, a dog that would chase and kill a deer might well go after a child or maybe even a little old lady.  Maybe.

Living Yard Art

On the other hand, I don’t want to start disbelieving what someone I’ve know most of my life is saying.  This whole disconnect from the truth thing has me a bit rattled.  I don’t know how many of our country’s recent leader-appointees have lied under oath or parsed their words in order to ‘untether’ themselves from reality.  More than a few.  I certainly don’t want to think that the prevarication epidemic has spread clear to in Oysterville.

As I say… it’s more than disturbing.

Awash, Ahoy, and Avast…from Oysterville!

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

By VanGogh

Wrote my uncle Willard Espy in his book Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

In an ordinary year, a hundred inches of rain fall on grandpa’s village; we have mutated until we breathe with comfort air that is half water, or water that is half air.  I suspect that if the peninsula were to sink beneath our feet, a mishap that in some downpours seems imminent, we could live submerged without serious inconvenience.

As the rain continues to pound on our roof and to fill the meadow with puddles-turned-to-lakes, I think that we will soon be testing the truth of Willard’s suspicion.  I may not be growing gills yet, but my thoughts are definitely taking a nautical turn.  As in “awash.”  Who but someone threatened to become flooded with rain or seawater would think in terms of awash?

Which leads me straight to ahoy.  It seems the logical greeting, one neighbor to another, these last few days.  Or even, farmer to chicken.  Last night as Nyel headed for the coop, I wondered whatever had become of my grandfather’s old sou’wester.  It surely is the only sort of head covering that could approach adequacy in this ongoing deluge.  And “ahoy!” is certainly the only appropriate salutation to hens trying to avoid the gathering flood.

By Constable

“Avast raining!” I want to shout.  I think “avast,” also, is usually used in a maritime setting.  As in “Avast heaving” — the cry to arrest the capstan when nippers are jammed, or any other impediment occurs in heaving the cable.  (I found that description on the Wordnik site online and I think it says it all.  Don’t you?)

And why do all those words begin with ‘a’ anyway?  Perhaps Poseidon (or his Roman counterpart, Neptune) had a speech impediment that came down to seafaring folks in this peculiar fashion.  A-back, abaft and all aboard!  If you’re a-coming to Oysterville, bring your snorkel!

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.