Archive for the ‘The World Beyond’ Category

Really? When did THAT happen?

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

At Bay and Vernon, Not So Long Ago

We discovered it was gone yesterday afternoon.  Nyel noticed it first – if you can be said to notice something that’s not there.  No flashing red light on the Bay & Vernon intersection in Ocean Park.  We weren’t sure when it went missing, having been away for all of the previous week.

Later, I mentioned it to a group of people at Adelaide’s where Colleen was having a ‘do.’  “Oh, yes!” said one woman.  “That’s been gone for a couple of months now.”

“Really?” said her friend.  “It’s gone?  The one at Jack’s corner?  I go by there almost every day.  I can’t believe I haven’t noticed.”

Now, An All Way Stop

I’m not sure the “couple of months” is correct, but the whole situation clearly shows that the flashing light was superfluous to our lives – at least traffic-wise.  We automatically stop there and if there is a car stopped on the street to our right, we let them go first.  What good did that flashing light do, anyway?  Now it’s replaced by four stop signs that say “ALL WAY” just in case you can’t figure it out for yourself.

The biggest use the flashing light ever got (besides being a measure of IQ) was as a landmark to visitors coming north from Long Beach.  As in, “Travel north on the highway until you come to the flashing red light; then turn right” (or “left,” or “continue on,” as the case might be).  I hope replacement isn’t in the plan.  I think that “at the four-way stop by Jack’s” should work just fine.

Gone! July 29, 2917 at Bay and Vernon, Ocean Park

As for IQ points – there was a saying (still viable, according to some) begun in the days when Ocean Park and Long Beach schools were serious rivals – back in the day when they were both K-8 schools.  Long Beach kids razzed Ocean Parkies by saying that you lose ten IQ points every time you go north through the light.  (Actually, in those days it might have been a stop sign…)  Ocean Park’s answer, of course was – “We go north on the back road so it’s not a problem.”  And sometimes they added, “And besides, every time we flush, Long Beach gets another drink of water.”

Small towns!  You gotta love ‘em!  Especially our small towns here at the beach!

H is for… Hospital!

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

When you spend as much time in the hospital – especially the same hospital and in the same unit – as Nyel has this year, you begin to make friends with some of the staff.   Once in a while, you get a little glimpse of life on the other side of the hospital bed, so to speak… as in this story that happened shortly before we arrived last week:

It seems there was a guy in another unit (had a broken leg or two and an eyepatch) who commandeered a wheelchair and speed-raced to a nearby convenience store.  There, he bought an ‘adult beverage’ and concealed it in a paper bag, and proceeded to drink it on his leisurely return to his room.  Another convenience store customer (who happened to be a hospital employee) saw and reported the episode…  Busted!  Immediate discharge.

I’ve always thought that those scenes in the movies where old guys unplug their IVs and sneak out in a load of laundry (“The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman comes to mind) were just figments of the silver screen.  Not so, apparently!  And those aren’t the worst transgressions.  There’s also the matter of civility and just plain good manners.

A day or so ago, when one of our nurses learned that I am a writer, she told me about a project she was working on – a little three-fold brochure for incoming patients.  “Basically,” she said, “it points out that this is not a hotel, nor is it a prison.  It gives patients a little idea of what to expect while they are here and a few guidelines for how to behave.”  I was amazed and all ears.  I had no idea that people would need ‘instructions’ on hospital etiquette.  And I had no idea that the need has seriously escalated in the last two years.  Here, like in every other public venue, people seem to feel empowered to show their ugly sides.

“Would you be willing to read our first draft?”  Absolutely! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at the patient-friendly, cleverly illustrated leaflet I was shown.  It reminded patients, directly and kindly, about all manner of hospital do’s and don’ts from the ‘no smoking campus’ to the possible necessity for dietary restrictions.  It described the special services that could be accessed and how to call for help – even reminding people that the use of profanity or racist comments is not acceptable.  I found it well-written (one typo only!) informative, and totally inoffensive.

Yet, I was saddened that basic public etiquette has to be written out these days.  Especially for those whose lives may depend upon being here.  No wonder staff members, from pharmacists to housekeepers, tell Nyel what a pleasure it is to deal with him.  We had no idea!

How much time is enough?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Oysterville Daybook, June 25th

For those of you who have been asking… No.  Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have not yet responded to my letter to them.  It was written first as an open letter to the two of them and posted on this blogsite on June 25th –three weeks ago yesterday.  The next day I sent a hard copy to each of them at their Seattle Offices.  And for the next several days, the letter was shared on FaceBook and my blog went ‘viral’ – well viral by Oysterville Daybook’s standards!

Perhaps you read it. It concerned the siege that our Hispanic community has been under, right here in Pacific County.  Twenty-two arrests (now 23) here on the Long Beach, a far greater per capita number than in other comparable areas of Washington.  The questions I posed were straightforward.  What can we as friends and neighbors do to help?  What can they, as our elected representatives to Congress, do about this untenable situation?

Pony Express

Even allowing for vetting time by staff members, it would seem that I might have had a response by now.    People who forwarded a copy to Jaimie Herrera-Butler tell me that she has already responded to them – a sort of stock answer but, nevertheless, an acknowledgement.  She has not, however, contacted me even though the letter was written over my signature.  Go figure.   I do believe that turn-around time for mail was faster in the Pony Express days than in this era of cyberspace!!

I’d like to think that our senators have been busy leaning on ICE.  It was ‘quiet’ here for a week or so.  No new arrests.  No new ICE sightings.  But, no one dared think that they were gone.  And then, a few days ago, yet another arrest – this time leaving a teenager, one of our Ilwaco High School students, on his own.  It is hard to have faith that there is someone ‘out there’ who might make a difference.  Will our elected officials ever step up?  Will they even acknowledge our small community?  When?

Speaking of walls…

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Album Cover

The ‘commute’ to Portland (which is what we seem to be doing these days) gives us lots of time to do the things we ordinarily don’t take time for.  Like singing along with old favorites:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

Or reading aloud to one another:  …who lived in the big house at Easton surrounded by the biggest crinkle-crankle wall in East Anglia and probably in the world…

Crinkle-Crankle Wall

And looking stuff up:  A crinkle-crankle wall, also known as a crinkum crankum, serpentine, ribbon or wavy wall, is an unusual type of garden wall.  [It] economizes on bricks,  despite its sinuous configuration, because it can be made just one brick thin. If a wall this thin were to be made in a straight line, without buttresses, it would easily topple over. The alternate convex and concave curves in the wall provide stability and help it to resist lateral forces.

Wow! Isn’t “crinkle- crankle” about the best name ever for a wall?  And some of them are gorgeous!  We took time out from our listening and reading aloud activities to discuss the possibilities of building one in Oysterville.  Not to replace our picket fences, of course.  After all, Oysterville is known for its various styles of picket fences and walls just wouldn’t fit into the general scheme of things.  But… how about a teeny-tiny crinkle-crankle wall?  Maybe around the vegetable garden?  But it would have to be pretty high to keep the chickens out.  And would it block the sun?

Humpty Dumpty

Which led to a nursery rhyme discussion – Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall… And then to a poetry discussion — Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…   Betwixt and between, we spoke of all the carpenters and masons, wordsmiths and thinkers who have trod this ground before us – John Lennon and Robert Frost, to say nothing of Mother Goose and of the seventeenth century squires of East Anglia.

Several times, we approached the wall topic of the millennium but our thoughts were finally cut short by arrival at our destination.   Perhaps on Friday we will return to the wall/fence discussion.  All-in-all, thoughts of walls and fences made the commute to Portland  palatable, but certainly not desirable on a regular basis. Three times in one week seems more than adequate.

Watching Willie Live in Real Time from NYC

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Willie Bays, Front and Center, at Dizzy Coca Cola Club, NYC – Laptop View

Yesterday afternoon and into the early evening, this old house experienced a First Ever! Never before, in all its 148 years, have the walls reverberated nor the windows shimmered with a real-time jazz performance taking place at Lincoln Center, New York City, and with a “grandchild” featured front and center!

Well… an ‘honorary’ grandchild.  Willie Bays first visited this house before he was born.  He learned to crawl on the library carpet here.  He practiced riding his first two-wheeler just outside.  He has been here for a family vacation for most of his sixteen summers. Granted, for Willie (as for his parents and younger brother Owen) his summertime visits are mostly ‘working vacations’.  There is always a Vespers performance by the Bays Family Irish Band worked into the mix of beach visits, egg collecting, conversations around the dining room table, and endless hours ‘just fooling around’ at our old upright piano.

Flashback: Bays Family Irish Band, September 2016

While the rest of his family carried on their annual Vespers tradition yesterday, Willie was 3,000 miles away having the time of his young life.  As the youngest member of the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, Willie was on tour with twenty of his peers, ages 16-18.  All are jazz musicians of note and were chosen as a result of nation-wide auditions to be part of this stellar group.  And, as serendipitous as it seems, their Sunday evening performance was to stream live over the net at 4:30 p.m. our time – a convenient half hour after Vespers.

We gathered around our laptops.  (There isn’t enough oomph or whatever it is for us to stream live through our TV – not Netflix, not even Willie.)  Never mind.  We saw and heard him loud and clear.  We cheered and clapped for his solos – both flute and alto sax – and cringed when the band director introduced him as “Willie Bay”  (think of Willie Mays and change the M to B Randal emailed him later). Parents Randal and Susan glowed with parental pride; Owen watched every nuance with a younger brother’s critical eye.

Susan Waters and Randal Bays, Proud Parents

As for us old ducks – we had a righteous taste of ‘grandparently’ delight and the very satisfactory feeling of seeing our young friend Willie ‘on his way.’  And this old house?  It’s taken in stride many transitions – from fireplace to heat pump; from wood cook stove to dual-fuel electric/gas range; from pitcher pumps to running water; from crystal sets to television.  And now – streaming live over the internet!  Wow!  I can almost feel it shake its chimneys in amazement!

Our Very Own Cape of Invisibility

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Astoria As Seen From The Bridge 6/19/17

In Oysterville, you know summer is here, not by the calendar or even by the ambient outdoor temperature.  It’s the morning fog – that moist marine layer that is said to have drawn the first hordes of tourists here back in the 1870s and that soon gave rise to the name “North Beach Peninsula.”  Those visitors came downriver from the hot inland valleys to find cooling relief by the seashore.  Near the mouth of the Columbia, they landed on the right or north bank where the ocean beaches were more accessible.  Voilà!  North Beach Peninsula!

In our household, we are content in the knowledge that the fog “will burn off by 11 o’clock.”  That’s what my dad always said and he was right nearly all of the time.  We also know that, if we are headed to Portland or other inland points, we should dress for hot weather.  So it was yesterday morning.  It was in the high 50s here when we left Oysterville at 10:30 a.m. and visibility on the back road made a blessing of the oncoming fog lights.  We threw our jackets in the backseat against our return, ‘just in case,’ but were pretty sure we wouldn’t need them in the big city.

Blue Sky, Blue Columbia – 6/19/17

The gray drippy-enough-for-windshield- wipers weather continued and thickened as we neared the river.  Not only was the other side of the Columbia shrouded, we could barely see the water, itself, beyond the rocky rip-rap.  But… on the bridge, the view became magical!  Blue sky, blue water but no shorelines on either side – just the cottony, protective band of white fog.  Absolutely beautiful.

A lot has been written about fog.  Patricia Beatty, in her book O The Red Rose Tree wrote of the “eerie walks” her characters took in the mornings around Ocean Park.  In the familiar old folksong, the weaver says, So I hauled her into bed and covered up her head, just to keep her from the foggy foggy dew.  And, of course, Carl Sandburg’s fog came in on little cat feet.

Looking Across The Bay 6/20/17 – No There There

I don’t know that any of those descriptors fit the fog of Oysterville and the Peninsula.  At least, not for me.  I think of it more as an isolating, muting barrier – a protective cape of invisibility à la Harry Potter that we are provided again and again during the summer season.  Within it, we are isolated from the noise and fuss of the world beyond our neighborhood; we can concentrate on the things that really matter.  Until 11 o’clock.

It was 89° when we arrived in Portland yesterday.  Not a cat foot in sight.

How many times in one lifetime?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Hanford Tunnel Collapse – May 9, 2017

I had never heard of “down-winders” until my friend and neighbor Carol Nordquist was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years ago.  It was her younger sister, ‘Aunt Becky,’ who said, “Oh yes.  We grew up in Walla Walla.  Our family are all down-winders and cancer is what we die of.”

These thoughts came flashing to mind yesterday afternoon when I happened to see a FaceBook message from Joanne Rideout:  RICHLAND, WA (KPTV) – An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington after a portion of a tunnel that contained rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed.

Crude Oil Pipelines in the U.S.A.

No matter how much reassurance we’ve been given about safety precautions since the site opened in 1943 – no, wait!  It was a secret until well after the war.  Part of the Manhattan Project, you know.  It was during the Cold War (1947-1991) that site expanded to its current size of 586 square miles – roughly equal to half the area of Rhode Island – and sometime during that period that we were told “no worries.”

Hanford is currently the largest and most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, and despite the fact that it is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup, it has continued to leak radioactive waste into the soil and groundwater. As if all of that isn’t horrifying enough, Hanford offers a number of tours for members of the public, elected officials and their staffs, tribal officials, stakeholders, and others.  Plus, it’s on the Register of National Historic Places.  Just like Oysterville.  Go figure.


What’s most incredible to me is that new and terrible corporate proposals continue to be promoted as “safe.”  Furthermore, we are told that the benefits far outweigh any possible negative consequences.  About the Dakota pipeline the developers told us it “wouldn’t just be an economic boon, it would also significantly decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil…”  About the proposed LNG terminal in Warrenton, just across the river, we were told…  “the West Coast needs foreign LNG to avert economic crisis, and this ‘clean’ fuel will serve as a ‘bridge’ to a renewable energy future.”

So far, our Astoria/Warrenton neighbors are holding firm and seem to be prevailing.  But how many more environmental safety battles will be lost in our lifetime?  How many Hanfords does it take?  How many down-winders?  And how many salutes to history and facility tours to assuage horrified consciousness? OMG!

The Choice Generation

Friday, May 5th, 2017

I am familiar with the phrase “boredom is a choice.”  And I understand that for some people which bathroom they are most comfortable in is a choice.  But yesterday at Emanuel Hospital I heard a new one: “Which race do you consider yourself?”

Actually, as I thought that over, it made as much sense to me as lots of other things these days.  Remember when eye color was an identifying feature?  That was before the rainbow of choices in contact lenses.  In fact, there is hardly an aspect of our lives that doesn’t involve choices.  There don’t seem to be any ‘givens’ any more.  It’s a little crazy-making.

I’m not at all sure what the root problem is.  Is it that ‘the grass is always greener’?  Or is it more one of those ‘because we can’ things?  Or maybe it’s a deep conspiracy by therapists to insure their job security.  My mind feels like it’s bending a bit too much when I try to figure it out.  I get boggled enough at Fred Meyers (or any other large grocery store) when I look at the cereal choices.  OMG!!  It seems easier to choose  eggs and bacon for breakfast!

Now that we are naming each generation, I think this next one should be called ‘The Choice Generation.’ (Not to be confused with Pro-Choice, which is something entirely different.)  It seems to me that there are no hards-and-fasts about anything.  I know young parents who go to great lengths not to ever say ‘no’ to their toddlers. It’s crazy-making.  Whatever happened to guidelines and parameters and acceptance of things as they are?  What happened to facts and truth and reality?

I think I was born before we got into naming generations.  My mom always said that I was born “during the Depression.”  Come to think of it, maybe I’m part of the Depressed Generation.  Some days it seems admirably fitting…

About those tax dollars…

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Yesterday.  Early morning.  Traffic, medium.  There were three of us cars, one behind the other, on the 101 cutoff over to the river road. After we turned east at the stop sign, we all picked up speed as we headed for Chinook, but no one seemed inclined to pass.  We were the third in line.

Suddenly, a car was passing us.  One of those ‘out of the blue’ streaks.  We were on a slight incline.  Visibility for oncoming traffic: none.  He passed us before Nyel even got the “as*****!” word out of his mouth.  He passed the car in front of us and went right on past the next car. It was a few seconds before I thought to breathe.

“Where’s a cop when you need one?” we said in unison.  We could see well ahead of us by now.  The speeding car was way ahead of all of us.  I wondered if he would slow down through Chinook or… And then there were flashing lights behind us, coming fast.  The sheriff’s car whooshed by us and was soon out of sight.  Did he hear the silent cheers from all of us as he passed?

As we approached the outskirts of Chinook, there they were!  Cop car and as*****’s car.  Nyel and I gave the deputy a thumbs up as we passed, though the temptation was to flip another finger at the perp.  Maybe one of the people ahead of us took care of that.  No matter.  We were pleased to see our tax dollars at work.  And, I realized, as the next clot of oncoming traffic came toward us… if it hadn’t been for the work on the bridge and the intermittent lulls in traffic, we could have be relating a whole different story today!

Out of the Loop

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

It was a quiet Friday Night at our house.  Only Tucker and Carol came over – neighbors bearing a bowl of delicious peanuts.  We offered “jumbo shrimp” (The ultimate oxymoron. Why aren’t they called prawns anymore?) and beverages, and the four of us munched our way through a rare opportunity for a companionable visit.  Our topics ranged from family news to the world situation and we speculated that most of our “regulars” were at the Town Hall Meeting in Long Beach.

I had actually learned through email and Facebook messaging that several friends were ‘abandoning’ us for the chance to attend a Democratic Town Hall with Jaime Herrera-Buetler – which sounded like another oxymoron to me.  I’m mildly interested in knowing if Rep. H-B appeared in person or if this was a video version of her telephone town hall the night beforehand.  We had received a phone call asking us to participate in that one, but we had declined.

I think we are burned out on the political scene for a while.  From the grass roots level right up through the world (and maybe interplanetary) situation, we are feeling out-of-synch and out-of-sorts.  And before the do-gooders and activists and rabble-rousers remind us of all manner of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘don’t give ups’ let me say, “Been there.  Done that.  And probably before you were born.”

It’s not that I’m against staying informed.  Far from it.  But in this day and age I think I can manage much of the information-gatheriing from the comfort of my rocking chair.  I’m feeling like all those signs and banners and meetings and marches are up to others now.  I’d love to think that I’ve earned the right to be consulted for my wisdom but, of course, now that I’ve reached my octogenarian years, my ‘wisdom’ includes the knowledge that no one really gives a fig about it.  I wonder if that’s always been so.  Just lip service to reinforce the idea that experience and longevity have some value.

When in doubt, consult Google…  “influential elders in American history” I wrote.  Nothing substantive.  Just information about care for the elderly (say what?) or about influential Americans like George Washington who died when he was 67 (and don’t tell me that was ‘elderly’ then; many of my own ancestors from that time period lived into their 80s).  Nothing about revered little old ladies dispensing the answers to life’s problems…

So, probably this “wisdom of the elders” is just another hoax to keep us old ducks hoping and hopping.  Why am I not surprised?