Archive for the ‘The World Beyond’ Category

Coming Soon!

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Rosas (Courtesy Gladys Diaz)

It’s hard for me to think of myself or my neighbors as “activists” but, I guess that is what interested, trying-to-help citizens are called these days.  The term seems too strident to my old-fashioned ears.  I’m not one to carry signs and gather in groups on the streets of the capital – or even on the streets of Long Beach.  But I do want to speak out.  To build awareness.  To effect change.  So… I write.

Last summer and into fall, I interviewed members of our Hispanic community – victims and their families who have been under siege by ICE.  There have been nearly 50 arrests here on the Long Beach Peninsula in the last year or so – a higher per-capita number than in any other part of our state.  Why here?  Why these hard-working men and women trying to provide for their families here and, often, for their relatives in poverty-stricken areas of Mexico?  Why?  They are not the “criminals” our new president promised to round up.  Not the people I talked to.  Not those who ICE has targeted, stalked, and harassed here on the Peninsula.

Stories from the Heart

Like so many who were aware of what was happening, I wanted to help.  So… with the editor’s blessing and support, I wrote a series for the Chinook Observer that I called “Stories from the Heart.”  Each of the fourteen stories was based on an interview with an ICE victim or a family-member and each was accompanied by a ‘sidebar’ of factual information about one aspect or another of the current immigration situation here in our ‘land of the free.’  Erin Glenn, with close ties to the Hispanic community, served as my interpreter during the interviews and as my ‘sounding board’ throughout the process.

The third story I wrote centered around Gladys, the first mother in the area who was arrested and deported.  Her long-time partner, Rosas, talked with me at length and, given the opportunity to use a pseudonym, told me that his nickname “Rosas” would be fine.  Little did any of us know that by using his nickname, we would be culpable in Rosas’ own arrest just a week ago?  And who knew that by identifying him in that way, ICE may have violated his free speech rights?  And who knew that his story would go viral – picked up first by the Seattle Times, then by AP, and hard on the heels of that, by the international press?

Gladys and Rosas’ Story

Meanwhile, Madeline Moore (one of the busiest women I know!) has developed a GoFundMe site for Rosas.  It should be up and running in a day or two.  Look for it under the heading “Help the Gutierrez Family.”  I’ll post a link as soon as it is finalized!

P.S.  Here it is:

The Joys (and woes?) of Homecoming!

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Moon over the Bay

We rolled into Oysterville about 6:30 last evening – the full moon in all her splendor over the bay, lighting up our house and the church in perfect Christmas card form!  Nyel’s discharge had been a bit of a surprise.  We had last heard “a day or two” and then suddenly, we were on our way!  Nyel is the best he’s been in almost a year and we are optimistic that we can keep him that way.  Meanwhile…

There was a moment’s panic when I couldn’t find the car which was in the Valet Parking Lot.  It had been accessible throughout Nyel’s stay and, at ten dollars a day, was probably the best parking bargain in all of Seattle!

Valet Parking at UW Medical Center

But when I schlepped the first load out the hospital front doors, down the escalator and across the underground walkway… no car!  Not where it had been for the past (almost) two weeks! And no one ‘on duty’ anywhere!  ‘Security’ to the rescue!  They found my car and assured me that I could just leave – no charge for the weeks we’d been there!  “It’s Sunday.  Free on Sunday!”  Yes, but…   No amount of saying “I’m perfectly willing to pay…” worked.  Wow!  A new spin on Home Free!

It’s always a little bit scary to come home after a longish absence.  Did the dishwasher fail and will we have to replace a water-soaked floor?  Was there a cold snap and did our pipes freeze?  And what about the house plants (which usually, thank goodness, revive)?  But, thus far this year, in our fifteen returns home after Nyel’s hospitalizations, all has been well.  Until last night!

Wow! Say what?

Our freezer door had not been closed tightly – an ongoing problem because of a leaky ice-maker which causes an ice build-up behind the pull-out drawer which can’t be pulled out all the way because the door won’t open wide enough because… all of which is too complex for human understanding.  Especially the part that goes, “Why didn’t we take care of this a long time ago?”  So, it was empty the freezer, scrape out the frost, sop up the water, and (this morning) call J&S Appliances.  (My inclination was to get a new refrigerator but Nyel’s practical side kicked in.)

On the plus side, when I weighed myself this morning, the scale said 54.9!  A bit of a shock until I realized that Nyel had changed the weight read-out to kilograms.  Translation, 119.9 pounds.  Yay! A loss of 4.9 pounds since last I checked.  I credit the lousy hospital food of the past few months plus the four (or maybe six) block walk back and forth to the cafeteria at the UW Medical Center.  This is a hard way to get back to my once-upon-a-time fighting weight but… only 2.8 kilos to go!!

Poor, Thirsty Fern!

So… on balance… Dorothy was absolutely right.  There is definitely no place like home

Consent, Consensual, Consensus

Friday, December 1st, 2017

In The News

I’ve been reading with great interest – no, make that ‘with great dismay’ – all of the commentary in the news and even on FaceBook about sexual harassment.  As the percentages of women who claim they have been sexually harassed have escalated – I think it’s up to 60% now – my first reaction was, “I wonder why I’ve never had that problem.”  In a perverse sort of way, I almost felt left out.

But, as I read more and more of what women are ‘revealing’ on sites such as #MeToo, my thoughts have changed yet again.  What I think of as ‘sexual harassment’ (Wikipedia: typically of a woman – in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks) is apparently only part of the issue.

Long-Ago Standards?

For one thing, the standard ‘workplace/professional’ piece of the equation no longer seems to matter – unless you count activities such as attending a fraternity party to be ‘work’ – and the woman’s own behavior/condition (such as being too drunk to walk) also seems to be but a minor factor.  Consensual no longer appears to be a biggee except if agreement is explicit and verbal – maybe even written!

So… what happened to good old-fashioned “flirting” as we called it in the olden days?  I always thought that was a two-way street.  If it led to advances that were unwanted, you said so.  If saying so was overridden, then (and only then), you had a legitimate complaint.  Granted, in those olden days, few women under such circumstances actually spoke out and, if they did, they weren’t taken seriously.   Which brings us to now…

So… where is the line?  If it’s closer to the ‘harmless’ flirtation now that it was forty years ago, do women have the right to speak out?  Are today’s standards retroactive?  Should good men’s reputations and careers be put on the line because we women now feel that we can speak out?

Today’s Fashions?

That seems to be the consensus.  I think there is a basic flaw here but I’m confused as to what it is.  Perhaps there is more than one piece of skewed thinking.  I’m still stuck back at the decision of my own alma mater to follow the (then) current trend and make dormitories co-ed.  That happened a few years after I graduated.  I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. At a time in young people’s lives when their hormones are raging and they are still actively trying to develop their minds and characters… why would such a decision be made?

And don’t get me started on women’s fashions…  In what universe is showing cleavage and nipples not an invitation of some sort?  It’s all very confusing to me and I have no answers at all.  But from my old lady perspective, what’s happening does seem to a sort of mass hysteria with retrospective overtones.  I wonder how my many-times forbear, Salem Witch Mary Esty, would view it.

Coming in January

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 Online Photo

Nyel isn’t a guffawing sorta guy.  He isn’t even a chuckler.  So, when I woke up at 5:15 this morning to the sound of a true belly laugh from the hospital bed a few feet away, I was more than curious.

As it turned out, he was catching up on the early a.m. news on his cell phone and a headline story from the UK’s Daily had set him off: Want to know how good you are in bed? Smart condom will rate sexual performance including speed of thrusts and duration.

The article went on to say: Makers of the world’s first ‘smart condom’ have finally revealed a look at the ‘game-changing’ new device, which boasts the ability to detect STIs, assess performance, and even calculate how many calories you burned during sex.

A “smart” condom!  Why am I not surprised?  With smart cars, smart phones, and a lot of smartass inventors, it was only a matter of time.  The wearable (or wearable tech), as it is called, costs $80 and, according to its makers, British Condoms, it’s lightweight and water resistant – and, with a nano-chip and Bluetooth capabilities built in, it can provide a range of statistics to help improve the wearer’s sex life.

And, in case you wondered: The device also records the amount of calories burned, different positions, and can detect chlamydia and syphilis. All information will be kept anonymous – but users ‘will have the option to share their recent data with friends, or, indeed the world.’


As interesting as the article, itself, were some of the online comments.  Is it reusable? was right at the top of the list.  Why? and Who cares? were right up there, too – probably from female readers. But, the makers say, they’ve already had 900,000 inquiries.  Unfortunately, the i.Con will not be available for this year’s man who has everything… Perhaps for a Happy Valentines Day instead?


Nyel Says It’s “Global Darkening”

Monday, November 13th, 2017


It seemed unusually dark the other morning – especially for this time of year, we thought – and Nyel and I got to talking about moonrise and cloud cover and all those celestial phenomena that have transformed the nightly weatherman into a meteorologist who clots up the news with charts and graphs and boredom-a-nauseum night after night.  Nyel, who often cuts right to the chase, said: “I think it has to do with Global Darkening.”

Immediately, we began to talk about the dark side of everything human – all those dread diseases and mass shootings and nations of refugees on the move and the rash (ahem!) of sexual predators and the rise of fascism across the planet… and on and on.  It was Depressing with a capital D.  Like the D is Global Darkening.

Lord of the Flies

Although neither of us had heard the term before, I couldn’t believe that Nyel had really coined such a clever phrase.  Not because he’s not clever, but just because ‘they’ say that there has never been a new thought – or probably not in Oysterville, Washington.  So, I Googled “Global Darkening.”

What popped up immediately was “Global Dimming” which, according to Wikipedia is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth’s surface that was observed for several decades after the start of systematic measurements in the 1950s. The effect varies by location, but worldwide it has been estimated to be of the order of a 4% reduction over the three decades from 1960–1990.  Well… close, but way too limiting.

I personally think that Nyel’s term is right on the money.  What we are seeing, hearing, learning, and being horrified by in news report after news report has to do with the dark side of human nature.  Dim may be part of it – as in dull-witted and stupid or, even, as in hard to see.  But the Darkening that Nyel is talking about is exactly as it sounds – the dark side of humanity as a global circumstance beyond any one person’s control.  It’s the Lord of the Flies all grown up and out of control.

“Peter, Paul, and Mary”

Again, I went to Google and took a look at sites that explore such topics.  What is the dark side of a human being?  Beware of the “dark side” of humanity during any collapse.  Infamous study of humanity’s ‘dark side.’  The titles were all very depressing.  Not very informative.  What we need is a Sigmund Freud, or perhaps a Carl Jung in combination with an Al Gore, the World Health Organization, and perhaps a little Yin Yang theory thrown in for good measure, to get to work on it.

I’m not suggesting that we put our concerns about Climate Change on hold.  But perhaps we’d better give equal time to the issue of Global Darkening.  As Peter, Paul and Mary sang (but did we listen?), “Don’t let the light go out…”

As Others See Us

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Seattle Times Photo by Erika Schultz

They keep coming!  Copies of Nina Shapiro’s Seattle Times article “A Washington county that went for Trump is shaken as immigrant neighbors start disappearing” have arrived by email and on FaceBook from friends throughout Western Washington.  (Thank you, all!)  I’m not clear whether the article appeared only as a digital report (there are videos imbedded in the copies I received) or if it also appeared in the hard copy of yesterday’s Times.  My friend on Bainbridge Island had not seen it in yesterday’s paper but he is having another look.

Overall, I think it was a good article.  The photographs by Erika Schulz were spectacular and the story, itself, brought the plight of our Hispanic neighbors into the spotlight on a bigger stage than our local paper can manage.  That’s a good thing, I think.

Seattle Times Photo by Erika Schultz

I was disappointed, though, that Ms. Shapiro did not interview any of the ICE ‘victims’ beyond those who were featured in my “Stories from the Heart.”  Though their stories had probably not been available to most of her audience, I felt that she was piggy-backing on work that had already been done – probably sour grapes on my part.  But there you have it.

Too, I was surprised at the political spin that the article took.  For starters, I didn’t know what Nan Malin’s comments about Obamacare had to do with the ICE arrests; if the reporter tied that together, I missed it.  But most bothersome, was the part that Ms. Shapiro missed.  While Pacific County voted for Trump (as she stated), the Peninsula did not.  This was the one pocket of the County that voted Democratic in the November 2016 presidential election and it’s where ICE began its deluge of arrests – for months before it began to focus elsewhere in the County.

Seattle Times Photo by Erica Schultz

Perhaps Ms. Shapiro will do a follow-up article and take a closer look at the political situation on the Peninsula.  It would also be great if she got our ‘rural character’ right.  Her comment about the photographs in Flint Wright’s Long Beach office, (father and grandfather on horses — capturing the rural lifestyle of Pacific County) didn’t quite reflect what our rural character is like – at least not to me.  Boats, piles of oyster shells, old wooden buoys, maybe, but horseback riding, not so much for most of us. I think in the great scheme of surf and turf, we’re more about the sea.  But, maybe that’s not how the outside world sees us.

To read Nina Shapiro’s article for yourself:

Of Hospitals and the Deep Dark Woods

Monday, October 30th, 2017

SAT Test?

Easy to get into and hard to get out of – hospitals are just the opposite of most things.  Except maybe the forests of the Northwest.  At least, that’s what my experience has been.

Take getting into college, for instance.  There are tests to take, applications to fill out, money to procure and, sometimes, interviews to accomplish.  Or how about getting into a restaurant?  Some have only certain days and hours that they are open for business; some require reservations; some might even have a dress code.

But hospitals – no muss, no fuss.  Just walk in (or go in an ambulance), state your business if you are able, and you are in.  The deep, dark woods are even easier – you don’t even have to have a coherent reason for entering.  In you go and the devil take the hindmost.  It’s getting out that’s the difficulty – with both of them.

Not that hospitals really want you to stay.  It’s just that once they and you agree that you are ready to get out of there, it seems to take forever for departure to take place.  It is mostly a paperwork thing.  First, there has to be authorization from the doctor who might be otherwise occupied.  For hours.  Then there have to be orders printed out for follow-up care and prescriptions to have filled at your local pharmacy and finally, if the hospital is large enough, a specialist arranges a follow-up appointment with your doctor of choice.

As far as I know there’s no paperwork about getting out of the forest.  You are on your own.  Best to go with a companion,  take a compass along, and remember your water flask.  Forget the bread crumbs, though.  In our northwestern woods, the undergrowth is thick – no way of leaving a carefully marked trail behind you unless you are handy with a machete.

Years ago – maybe 40 – Marta and I thought we’d cut across the woods at the Point where long before, each of us had gone frequently as campers (me at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa; Marta at Alan and Barbie Greiner’s Sherwood Forest.)  We knew, unequivocally, that the bay was “right over there.”  Hours later, Marta finally climbed a tree as high as she could to see if she could spot water, a road, a building… any landmark at all.

Today, Nyel is scheduled to be at OHSU for two early afternoon appointments. Under ordinary circumstances we’d never get out of here (Emanuel) in time but nurses, doctor, pharmacist and who-knows-who-else began working last evening on getting us discharged in a timely manner today.  And then… homeward bound!

Hunger Strike? Not exactly…

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Satisfying Nyel’s Sweet Tooth

I didn’t have any dinner last night but I certainly didn’t go to bed hungry.  Bill and Sue had come visiting in the afternoon and brought a box of a dozen little frosted cupcakes – all beautiful, delicious, and totally decadent! – and I had eaten two of them.  Not enough to stave off the desire for a decent dinner but, the operable word here is … well, suffice it to say that it’s hospital food and I long ago ran out of options.

The thing is… over the last year (since Oct. 4, 2016) we have been here at Emanuel Hospital for 66 days, mostly in increments of 5 or 6 days at a time.  That’s more-or-less 132 lunches and dinners.  On the “Guest Menu” there are four choices for those meals.  Not four for lunch and another four for dinner.  The same four choices for both meals:  1) Tillamook Cheeseburger; 2) Macaroni and Cheese; 3) Roast Turkey; 4) Northwest Salad.  Lunches and Dinners cost $10 each, cash on delivery.  It seemed reasonable enough at first.  Now… not so much.

Limited Choices

The meals are ‘passing fair’ as my mother would say of things that were barely okay.  But, even if I liked them all equally and alternated them evenly, that’s about as much hospital food (baked hamburger patty?  Soupy mac ‘n cheese?  One veggie choice – broccoli?) as I can stomach.  So… no dinner last night.

I hasten to say that the Patient Menu is entirely different, thankfully. Nyel has sixteen lunch and dinner choices as well as a “build your own sandwich’ option with multiple possibilities. Granted, it’s a heart healthy menu which means only, as far as we can tell, no salt.  Otherwise, it looks great and Nyel is quite happy with his meals.  The problem for me, of course, is that guests are not allowed to order from the patient menu.  Even if they pay.  The Kitchen Nazis won’t allow it.  Maddening.

There are options.  There are two cafes on the first floor.  One is a serve-yourself sort of buffet, on open for limited hours only.  I have checked it out and put the entire place in my mental round file.  Dreadful!  The other possibility is the Heartbeat Café.  Again, limited choices (and hardly gourmet) but when I really am wanting a Caesar salad (and have a momentary lapse, forgetting that it will be just a pile of wilted lettuce with some shredded bits of parmesan cheese) I do venture forth.

Pesto Pasta

I could, of course, take the car and go ‘out’ for a meal now and then but it just doesn’t seem worth the effort.  Plus, I’m not a huge fan of eating alone in a strange restaurant.  And, it’s not that friends (bless them!) haven’t offered to come whisk me away for a meal.  But, that seems way too much ‘all about me’ when the whole reason for being here is to support my honey.

However, there is one option left which I’m thinking of exercising today.  Calling for take-out service!   I have a hankerin’ for a big serving of pasta with pesto sauce and an order of garlic bread.  And maybe a tossed green salad (hold the lettuce??).  I Googled ‘takeout food near me’ and found a half-dozen possibilities from an Olive Garden to a pasta bistro that will deliver right to Nyel’s hospital room.  Yay for the Big City!

As we speak…

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

San Francisco, 1906

I don’t know how long it took for my grandparents to learn about the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.  Days, probably.  And it was weeks until my grandmother’s dear friend Leila wrote from Berkeley that she and her mother were all right, despite aftershocks that were still going on.  But that was before the internet and social media, before computers and television and even before telephones and electricity here in Oysterville.

Yesterday about mid-afternoon, I happened to look at Facebook for a moment. Am feeling very grateful for my health and safety – 10 fatalities, 1500 homes/buildings have burned down so far.  For a nano-second my mind went blank.  It was my step-daughter Marta.  But what was she talking about?  The hurricanes in the east?  Why?  But no.  She’s talking about fire…

Even as those thoughts tumbled through my head, I was scrolling down…  Seeing the videos.  Reading the headlines… NORTH BAY WILDFIRES.  NAPA, SANTA ROSA, SONOMA WILDFIRES RAVAGE CALIFORNIA’S WINE COUNTRY.  MARIN LEAPS INTO EMERGENCY MODE AMID FIRE CRISIS.

Santa Rosa, yesterday

I hunted for a fire map.  Were Nan and Jack safe in Healdsburg?  What about Averil and John in Sonoma?  What about Sarah and Bonnie – don’t they live in Santa Rosa?  I grew up in Marin County.   In San Rafael.  These days it’s less than an hour from Santa Rosa.  How many of my old friends still live in the area?  I sent out some emails.  Jack weighed in right away.  They are safe but the smoke is bad…

Marta’s FB site continued to send forth information.  Helpful information for fire victims and rescue-workers.  A LIST OF EVACUATION CENTERS.  Dozens of them already.  And evacuation centers for pets.  Even for horses.  In between she posted thank yous and messages of encouragement to the Fire Fighters.  You, too, Marta!  Thank you!  Thank you for being involved and for jumping in to help.

My mind flashed back to 1971 when Marta was still in high school and she cut classes to help a voluntary bird rescue effort. after the (then) largest oil spill in San Francisco Bay history.  At that time knowledge about caring for birds after such a disaster was limited, yet they saved 4,300 birds. (A group of those volunteers subsequently morphed into the International Bird Rescue in an effort to increase knowledge and research for such endeavors.) It was said to be one of the largest volunteer turnouts since the 1906 earthquake.

Marin County, 1971

And, now, it seems I’ve come full circle.  Blessings to the dear old Bay Area. And thank goodness for your fabulous, enduring community spirit!

Excuses and Reasons and Cop-outs, Oh My!

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

In Long Beach, WA

The front-page headline in yesterday’s Chinook ObserverFireworks flip-flop unlikely after survey.  The subheading:  Not a Ban, a Better Plan’s survey doesn’t sway Peninsula’s leaders.

Why am I not surprised?  Same old, same old.  Lots of rhetoric but no action by the leadership of our county.  Despite a 76.7 percent support for some sort of limits according to the informal survey by the local ‘Not a Ban, a Better Plan’ group, our leaders are not planning to take any action.

It seems to all boil down to the fact that there is “…no simple solution” according to one of our County Commissioners.  I don’t remember that the survey had anything to do with “simple.”  Once again, our leadership seems to be flummoxed by the complexities of ‘just say no.’

In Long Beach, CA

I am reminded of our County’s Comprehensive Zoning hearing that my folks attended back in the 1970s.  One of the proposals (which ultimately passed) was to number and alphabetize the streets on the Long Beach Peninsula.  My mother was appalled.  She hated the idea of getting rid of all the many traditional names like “Huckleberry Lane” and “Skating Lake Road.”  And she said so.

But, of course, our leadership prevailed.  “To make it easier for our EMTs” they said.  (That was in the days before we used fancy terms like ‘first responders.’)  “I just moved back to Oysterville from the San Francisco Bay Area,” my mom argued.  “San Francisco, as you might know, is quite a bit larger than the Peninsula.  They have never found a need to change their charming, old-fashioned street names, nor have there been any complaints from their emergency personnel.  Are you saying that our EMTs are not as smart as their EMTs?”

Successful Gun Amnesty Campaign, Austrailia

Well… there you have it.  The beat goes on.  Perhaps we need to wait until a real disaster occurs – like all the homes on the beach front go up in flames – for anything to change.  Although… maybe not.  Our national leadership certainly hasn’t pointed the way in the matter of disasters and law-making.  “1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days” here in America according to theguardian.  Meanwhile, Congress hasn’t passed a single piece of gun control legislation, beyond voting in 2013 to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms, which could potentially bypass security checkpoints at airports and other locations.

But, I digress.