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Last seen on Monday

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

May 9th – Treats for Three

One by one, our chickens are being picked off.  It’s the same old syndrome.  They are backyard chickens but, unfortunately, their English is limited and my Chickenspeak is non-existent.  The fence which surrounds our half-acre (plus or minus) is not chicken proof, although Nyel has our landscape-guy working on that. I don’t know how to tell the girls it isn’t safe to wiggle under or through the pickets.

So, bottom line, the chickens go visiting.  They go to see the neighbors.  They waddle down the lane toward the bay.  They go next door to see how the current construction project is coming along.  Almost always they come home.  But on Monday, Snowhite didn’t.

I was hopeful that she’d show up yesterday.  No such luck.  Slutvana and Little Red Hen were beside themselves.  Every time I went outside, they’d come running.  They murbled and clucked softly, undoubtedly urging me to DO something.  I commiserated and gave them extra treats, but truth to tell, I felt as miserable as they did.  I called and carried on.  So did they.  Unfortunately, in this case, we understood one another perfectly.

Sunbathing Snowhite

I’m pretty sure it’s dogs.  Despite all the sheltering rules,  we’ve had a number of visitors in town lately whose dogs have not been leashed.  Nor, apparently, do their owners care about cleaning up after their pets.  It’s beyond annoying.

Small dogs have even managed to wriggle into the yard and chase our girls.  Years ago we were right here when Polly’s Jack Russell came in, caught a hen bigger than he was, and took off up the street, Farmer Nyel giving chase at full speed.  That time, Farmer and chicken prevailed.  But there have been several incidents that we know of since — plus our three recent mystery disappearances — and “prevail” wasn’t what happened.  Not in English and not in Chickenspeak.

Short of keeping the girls locked in their run (which is muddy and unappealing at this time of year), I’m not sure what to do.  If I were certain about the source of the danger it might help.  I dislike the feeling that a local dog might be the culprit, but if that’s the case, the two remaining chickens had better shelter in place for a time.  Just like the rest of us.


The Sticking Point

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We’ve just about reached the sticking point in this house.  Literally.  After leading the life of shut-ins for two months, it might be time for me to do a deep cleaning.  Or at least tackle the kitchen floor.

My neighbor Carol spent last week cleaning her place from top to bottom.  Marta mentioned last weekend that she finally “couldn’t stand it anymore” and swept and scrubbed and vacuumed her place.  In our weekly conversation last night, Charlie said he’d finally succumbed and had faced down his kitchen floor.  I’m thinking I’m about the last in line.  My tolerance level must be too high.

I wonder what it is about this “sheltering” business that makes one day morph into another and causes the routines of normal life to seem so easy to postpone.  Is it that there is no longer urgency?  Is it that no one else will be dropping in to notice?  Or is it just the ailment our friend Dick describes as “ennui”? When I asked him his symptoms, he said, “Everywhere I look — in my office, in the garage, in the living room — are unfinished project.  I begin them and then my interest or energy just fizzles out.”

Yes, something like that.  Plus, we didn’t really have time to get into the Spring Fever cleaning mode.  Spring has gone by in a flurry of masks and wipes and worry and then, suddenly it seemed, it was summer.  The last few glorious days brought their own brand of lethargy — the sit-in-the-sun (or shade) and-bask kind.

We even jumped ahead to summer menus — spare ribs and coleslaw, pasta salad and ice tea!  I really could have cared less about my sticky kitchen floor.  But… this morning we are back to cool, moist marine air.  More like “Junuary”  weather than May.  Perhaps today (whatever day this is) will be the one that I’ll spend scrubbing something… something besides my hands,

Laugh Out Loud! It’s Thursday!

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

This came to me yesterday from my friend Joy in NYC.  It was sent to her by her friend Diane on Kauai.

My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary:

Day 1 – I Can Do This!!  Got enough food and wine to last a month!

Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine.  I fear wine supplies might not last!

Day 3 – Strawberries:  Some have 210 seeds; some have 235 seeds.  Who Knew??

Day 4 – 8:00pm.  Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.

Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer.  It came out as Jell-O Shots!!

Day 6 – I get to take the Garbage out.  I’m So excited, I can’t decide what to wear.

Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!

Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”.  You must gather all the ingredients and make your own meal.  I have No clue how this place is still in business.

Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room.  Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.

Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today.  Seems nice.  He’s a Web Designer.

Day 11 – Isolation is hard.  I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”

Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides.  I think I just barked at a squirrel.

Day 13 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentlly touch your face.

Day 14 – Watched the birds fight over a worm.  The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.

Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?

Farmer Nyel To The Rescue!

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Snowhite has been disappearing in the middle of the night.  She’s there, all fluffed up on the roost with the others when I go down to the coop to tuck them in and lock things up.  But in the morning, she’s gone.

The first time it happened was Sunday night.  Monday moring, the cheeky little hen surprised me by coming out from under our house and walking down with me to give the others a wake-up call.  I asked her how she managed to get out but… not a peep.  She busied herself telling the others all about her adventures and chowing down on breakfast while I walked around the perimeter of the run to see where the break-out point was.

I couldn’t find it.  So, of course, there was a repeat performance yesterday except that Snowhite was nowhere to be found.  She didn’t join the others for breakfast, never mind that I called and called.  Then, about midday, Nyel was in the east end of the house and saw her out the window — nonchalantly pecking around in the flower beds.

This time, I looked a lot more carefully and finally found her exit point.  It was one of those bendy breaks in the chicken wire that she could get out of, but not back in.  I didn’t think I could fix it, but Farmer Nyel said he could.  So, after lunch he went outside in his electric-all-terrain-super-duper-wheelchair and cobbled it all back together.

And, then!  He asked for some clippers and a heavy-duty bag for lawn debris and did a little rhodie maintenance — to make it easier for Tom-the-Mower-Guy to get around.  Wow!  It was SO fun to see him outside working with the chickens looking on.  And he says he has another project in mind for today.  Yay!!

And speaking of innovation…

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

Kuzzin Kris just sent me a video suggesting a simple alternative for a medical face mask — using a lady’s thong.  It’s hysterical and made me wish that my underwear choices were a bit less traditional.  Especially since I’ve found myself at two (or ten) with masks made with ties rather than with elastic.  I think my head is the wrong shape.

When I went online to find an illustrative photo to use with this blog, I immediately came across a site that was titled something like “1000+ Photos of Underwear Masks!”  I opened it before thinking.  It wasn’t at all what I had in mind and I’m pretty sure I’ll now be on all sorts of sites showing unmentionables and worse.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to find out whether there is a plan in place for prescription drugs delivery to the old and infirm here at the north end of the Peninsula.  Apparently there is an effort being made by the Peninsula Pharmacies but, since we don’t have municipal police in our area to do the deliveries (as they do in Ilwaco and Long Beach), it’s a problem.  It seems the law allows for law enforcement officers to make such deliveries, but there aren’t allowances made for others such as EMTs.

I think I understand the reasons for such laws, but in the case of a national pandemic, you’d think an exception could be made.  I hope they figure it out soon.  I was in the Ocean Park Pharmacy yesterday and even though customers were respecting the six foot distancing and many were masked, it was distinctly uncomfortable feeling.  I definitely don’t want to go back.

But, of course, I will.  Nyel is doing remarkably well health-wise, largely due to his faithful regimen involving 20+ prescriptions.  All, of course, need refilling at different times and hardly a week goes by that I’m not in the pharmacy once or twice or more.  I’m sure there are many others more needy than we…




Making History With Peninsula Ghosts!

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Cover of 24-Page Booklet from History Press

The contract I’ve just signed with History Press was a hard one to negotiate and, truth to tell, we are not completely through with our “discussions.”  The last item to be decided, as with most books and with most publishers, is the title.  My editor and I have already had a bit of discussion about it, but the matter won’t be settled until “around the time of manuscript deadline” which is September 4th.

My original thought was to call the book “More Ghost Stories from the Long Beach Peninsula” but, from the get-go, it was not acceptable.  How about having “eerie” or “haunted” in the title, they suggested.  I wanted it to sound more like a continuation or a sequel to the last book.  They did not.

In fact, the whole idea of a “sequel” seemed off-putting to them.  But, to their credit, they listened to my take on the matter resulting from the years Nyel and I owned the Bookvendor in Long Beach.  Ultimately, they decided to give the book a chance — title to be duked out at a later date.  As I think my stories are more “unsettling” than eerie and the settings are more “historic” than haunted, there will probably be a lot of duking.

The working title that they have suggested is “Historic Haunts of the  Long Beach Peninsula” which isn’t even accurate as I see it.  It seems to mean that the book is about places that have been haunted historically — or at least that’s the way I read it.  Of course, they haven’t actually seen any of the stories yet…

Meanwhile, my editor wrote:  Regarding the title, that was changed by the publication director and as I put in my contract email to you, it is not the final title. This was a tricky project to get approved because we have never done two haunted books covering the exact same location before and he wanted to make a clear distinction between the two books for the editorial board. Currently, it is the placeholder, and once we work through all the details of the images and manuscript together, I can go to bat for you regarding the title wording.

Wow!  With the 291 titles in their Haunted America series, they’ve never done a sequel!  This book will make its own history!  Hard to believe.  I am pleased beyond all measure!


Smash, Grab, and American Dreams

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Yesterday, a group of us gathered in the Community Room at the Ocean Park Timberland Library for our first rehearsal of  “American Dreams.”  We weren’t all present; there’s another group meeting today.  Nevertheless, this first read-through was a moving and powerful experience.

“American Dreams” is an original play by Linda Britt, a Maine playwright and director.   She interviewed more than a hundred immigrants, gathering their stories, and scripting them as monologues for readers’ theater.  They focus on the immigrant experience in the U.S. — an experience which varies widely depending on country of origin, race, religion, age, and location.

Yesterday we spoke the words and heard the voices of women and men from Albania and Nicaragua, from Ireland and Germany, from France and Syria and Argentina — all immigrants and each with a different story to tell.  Some stories will sound familiar to audiences; some will be eye-opening in the extreme.

The production rights for “American Dreams” were purchased through an Abe Keller grant  by PCIS  (Pacific County Immigrant Support) whose mission is to support the needs of undocumented immigrant families threatened by arrest, detention and deportation by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  Our fabulous co-directors for this production are Sandra Nielson and Cate Gable.

Ironically (perhaps, but not really), while we were rehearsing, we learned that there have recently been seven(!) more arrests here by ICE — one  a situation in which ICE smashed a car window in order to grab the driver who, reportedly, was responding to ICE demands in a lawful manner.  I hope we see more about  these recent situations in the Chinook Observer.   I, for one, feel the need for factual information though I do appreciate the need for circumspect reporting to protect the victims.

“American Dreams” will be staged the evening of April 25th at the River City Theater in Ilwaco and the following afternoon at a small theater (TBA) in Raymond.   Two days only!!  Mark your calendars now.  The production will provide a window into what is happening all around us, day after day — shocking abuses to community members — our neighbors! — that are the antithesis of what most of us were brought up to believe.

On balance…

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

We heard (sorta) three out of the ten disks.

I’m not just sure how to rate yesterday in the great scheme of things.  It was another of those up-and-back-to-Seattle days.  We left about 7:30, just as it was getting light and had an uneventful trip to the UW Medical Center.  At least, uneventful if you don’t mind driving in intermittent fog, pouring rain, and heavy traffic.

For distraction, we had the audio version of Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.  I had read it when it came out in 2016 but only remembered a few of the more bizarre parts.  Nyel claims he never read it and, judging by the snoring from his side of the car, he will be able to make that claim yet again.

Not for The Faint of Heart

The two best parts of the day were 1) our lunch, made and packet for take-out by Nyel-the-Chef: tunafish sandwiches, celery sticks, an apple for Nyel and a tangerine for me.  And 2) getting there early enough that the lab reports from our first stop-off were actually ready by Nyel’s 3:15 appointment with his cardiologist.  The results were the the very best he’s had since leaving St Vincent’s hospital in June.  Yay!

There was an hour and a half wait between the lab work and Nyel’s appointment during which we both read the books we’d fore-armed ourselves with.  I finished mine — Permanent Record by Edward Snowden.  Not uplifting.  In fact, in combination with current news events, disturbing in the extreme.

We headed home about 4:30.  Still rainy and foggy, but already getting dark, heavy “parking lot” style traffic, glaring headlights, impatient drivers.  With apologies to Nyel (who was now wide awake) I asked if we could bag listening to Hiaasen’s book.  The last thing I needed was a distraction of any kind.

We reached home at five to nine, too tired to eat.  It was a most difficult day — physically (the drive), mentally (Snowden’s book plus the ever-escalating news from the mideast), and emotionally (ditto above: the drive and Snowden and the news).  Did the good news about Nyel’s heart health balance all that out?  You betcha.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t even consider the two appointments we have up there  week after next!

The Wrangler, The Whisperer, and Snowhite

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

Vicki’s Portrait of Fred, 2016

If you know Fred Carter, you probably know him as a singer/songwriter or as a golfer or as Vicki’s husband or as President of the Senior Center in Ocean Park.  Mostly, you’d know him as an extraordinarily nice guy.  But… did you know he’s also an accomplished chicken wrangler?  Last night he put his wrangling talents to use to help out our little white hen, Snowhite.

If you’ve been following the life and times of Farmer Nyel’s Backyard Flock, you may know that Snowhite appears to be suffering from mites.  She, also, is faster than the speedy Warner Bros. Road Runner of “beep beep” fame and, though several of us have tried to catch her, she has led us a merry chase through hedges, over fences, into trees, and has successfully eluded all attempts to capture her for a bit of doctoring.

Farmer Nyel, Chicken Whisperer

“Wait until dark and get her off the roost,” was the advice all the chicken experts gave me.  Easy for them to say.  Hard for a short octogenarian to manage.  So last night about dusk-thirty, Fred came to the rescue.  “Okay!  Let’s go!” he said.  I grabbed a cardboard box and off we went.  “I was down there a few minutes ago to lock them in for the night,” I told Fred.  “She’s on the roost but I’m not sure how close she is to the door.”

“Well, we’ll find out, won’t we?” And with that, he opened the back door, reached into the coop, grabbed Snowhite by the legs and quick-as-a-cluck (actually LOTS of clucking — in fact, you’ve never heard such a squabble!) she was in the box, the top was closed and we were carrying her back to the house!

She spent the night secured in that carton in our heated back-forty.  This morning an hour or so before first light, Farmer Nyel and I went into the garage armed with a can of mite-dusting-medicine and doctored her up.  She didn’t like it a bit, but seemed resigned.  Not much squawking or struggling.  Just a lot of dirty looks directed mostly at me!  Nyel with his soothing voice and gentle (yet firm) touch is definitely a Chicken Whisperer.

The dusting was done in no time and I returned her to the coop before the rest of the flock was even stirring.  Only the rooster seemed to notice and he gave a few thank-you-doodle-dos before settling back down.   I hurried back to the house through the rain humming “Dusting in the Dark” (to the tune of that other one, or course…)

A Timely Reminder

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

11/13/1983 President Reagan addresses U.S. troops at Camp Liberty Bell the Demilitarized zone South Korea

From the November issue of  “Out of the Archives,” the newsletter from the Washington State Archives:

“There are some who’ve forgotten why we have a military. It’s not to promote war. It’s to be prepared for peace. There’s a sign over the entrance to the Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state, and that sign says it all: Peace is our profession.”

The quote is from the newsletter’s monthly feature, “Who said that?”  Being too impatient to wait until next month for the answer, I looked it up online and was surprised to find that it was President Ronald Reagan.

I doubt if our current Prez would really understand the concept…