Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

Random Thoughts While Waiting

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happily Hunkerin’ and Hardly Hankerin’!

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

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

Sydney On the Road to Madrid, 1958

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

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

Library Corner at Our House

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

Walk softly and carry a yardstick!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Oysterville Post Office

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

Supermoon, Worms, Robins and… Rats!

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Tonight, March 9, 2020

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

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

A Welcome Visitor

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

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

Reading Material for Farmer Nyel

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

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

…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!