Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Another Right of Passage!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Not In My House!

Yes, “right” not “rite.”  There are some passages that are noted by a ceremony or event “marking an important stage in someone’s life, especially birth, puberty, marriage, and death.”  Those are the rites with an ‘e’ and no ‘gh.’  Then there are the rights that are moral or legal entitlements “to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”  So says

I am definitely talking about a “right” here.  It’s yet another of the entitlements I’ve actually awarded to myself in recent years.  The first was the right to let certain tasks carry over from one day to the next.  That was a big step, having been brought up to finish what I’d begun.  And in a timely manner, besides.    Sort of the home equivalent to the teacher’s mantra, “plan your work and work your plan.”   Some years ago, I realized that it would be okay to let some things take a bit longer to accomplish — especially if I needed to smell the roses along the way.

Yesterday’s new right has to do with my eyesight, or increasing failure thereof.  In a fit of pre-holiday cleaning (like, why?  go figure.) I ran smack dab into a huge cobweb in the corner of the living room  — back between the fireplace and the low shelf where the big leather-bound family Bibles are kept.  Not only was that cobweb huge — it actually had a fly or two trapped among it’s spokes.  OMG!  I actually felt it on my face before I saw it.

The Right To See It My Way?

Not surprising, though, when I think about it.  In fact, I’ll be the first to tell you that I long ago stopped worrying about facial wrinkles.  Reason?  Simple, My dimming eyesight no longer permits me to see them.  Ditto chin whiskers.  And Lord knows what else.  Permission granted to remain oblivious and unconcerned.

Now… permission granted to stop dusting and webbing on any kind of regular basis.  Actually, I think that part happened a while back.  The right of passage has to do with not giving a rip.  So easy.  Out of sight, out of mind as they say!


Sheltering, Settling, and Salads

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

It’s not the “Covid 15” as I’ve heard the Sheltering weight gain referred to.  No, the number on the scales has stayed the same.  But not so the number on the tape measure.  Or so I assume.  I haven’t checked, but my blue jeans get harder and harder to button and so my suspicious are no doubt justified.

After a certain age, we’ve all experienced a thickening of the thorax.  That seems to come along between 40 and 60.  No matter how one tries, the sylph-like silhouette of one’s youth just expands into oblivion.  Then the vertical shrinking begins and the girthy middle regions become even harder to control.

At least that’s how I have it figured.  These recent months of Sheltering seem to have compounded the Settling Issue.  And don’t bother to mention exercise.  That has never been part of my agenda and, in fact, since Nyel has been wheelchair-bound and I’ve taken on some of his duties, my Exercise Program has increased by triple digits.

So, we are going into Emergency Mode around here.  That means that one meal a day will be a salad.  Period.  No accompanying buttery bread just out of the oven.  No side of crunchy crackers with a bit of cream cheese on board.  Nope.  Salad plain and simple.  Until further notice.  Which, of course, means when my waistline is back to “normal.”  (Well, normal for an octogenarian-and-a-half.)

Let’s just call it a “Storage Shed”

Friday, November 13th, 2020

With one thing and another, our woodshed didn’t get completed until it was too late to fill it with a few cords of dry wood.  No problem.  We have enough firewood to see us through this winter and then we’ll work on it.

Meanwhile, though, it seems to have another purpose.  Situated as it is just under our pear tree,  its roof has become the quintessential Pear Depository for our garden.  Not that the roof isn’t slanted.  The rain runs off just fine.  But those pears are like rocks.  Heavy.  (Just ask painter Charlie Short who was a target for a few brief hours.)  And they tend to stay (THUNK!) where they land.

If they were normal pears, we might be able to count on the birds for cleanup.  But the birds have learned, perhaps through the Bent-Beak Method, to leave them alone.  Only the Deer People really love them.  But, until we can teach the deer to climb, that possibilty seems off the table (or the roof, you might say.)  I think teaching deer to climb is probably a lot like teaching pigs to fly…

“Just sweep them off,” said my helpful neighbor Chris.  I think that would probably involve a ladder with me on it with a long-handled rake or broom.  Not going to happen.  Maybe if that “just like the 2007 storm” ever arrives as “promised” by the weather gurus, the winds will take care of it.  On the other hand… it might be a toss up (again… so to speak.)  That pear tree is probably 100 to 130 years old.

Nyel says it all depends upon which way the wind blows… the tree could take the derelict gazebo (which would be fine with me.)  Or it could take a good part of our fence.  Or it could take the southeast corner of our house.  YIKES!  There really must be a better way to get rid of pears on the woodshed roof!

I should never have mentioned it…

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

The Doe Is Back!

I know that it probably is not related to the “conversation” I had with the young doe the other day, but I feel guilty nevertheless.  You might remember that the discussion (one-sided though it was) concerned her lovely, slim legs and sylph-like ankles and my amazement over their strength as well as their beauty.

Young Buck on Guard Duty

Yesterday, she was back but, this time, with a young and very attentive buck.  He stayed close by her — a bit more skittish than she, but even when he jumped the fence to get out of the yard and to distance himself from me, he immediately jumped back over and stood watch nearby.  She, meanwhile, ambled toward the pear tree and it was then that I noticed she was limping.  She was favoring her right foreleg and I immediately felt responsible.  Had I not mentioned her legs the other day (I think I even talked about osteoporosis!), surely she wouldn’t be limping.  I must have set her up…

Staying Nearby

My other thought was that the buck wasn’t just being flirtatious.  Maybe he was keeping an eye out for her — staying nearby just in case.  A foolish thought, perhaps, but I didn’t change my mind during the twenty minutes we all shared the garden.  (Nyel was out there, too, working on the rhodies along the east fence, but I was the one they were keeping an eye on. He, apparently, wasn’t of interest.)

As the doe browsed for fallen pears, the buck kept watch, his eyes seldom leaving me.  Mostly, he stood nearby, though once or twice he “floated” quickly to another vantage point.  (If you’ve ever watched a buck’s legs as he runs, you know what I mean about floating.)

Nyel thinks the doe may have a hoof problem rather than a leg problem.  That doesn’t really assuage my guilt, even though I know my cause-effect scenario is ridiculous.  Whatever the problem, though, I hope it heals itself.  Soon.

The worlds I live in: Real, Virtual, Imaginary

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

 Helen Richardson, 1896

When things in this “real  world” – if, indeed, a world depending mostly on virtual contacts and communications can be termed “real” — becomes especially tense and unpleasant, I find it helpful to step back in time.  Not a virtual step, mind you.  These days anything “virtual” is much too close to our present reality.  No, for my sanity I’d rather take a totally imaginary step.  A step based in historical documentation but with myself as a participant in the action.

Lamplighter at Work

This morning my thoughts have been centered on my grandmother Helen Richardson Espy.  She came to Oysterville as a young married woman with the understanding that it would be for only “a few years.” She was a city girl and Oysterville was more backward than she could have imagined.  She hated it and only because of her great love for my grandfather and her devotion to her children was she able to manage.  She remained here until her death more than fifty years  later.  It was not until close to the end of her life that she realized she had grown to love this place, after all.

But it’s the story of her early childhood that I love best.  She was born in Mexico City — her father was attached to the American Embassy there and her mother was the daughter of ex-pats — Southerners who had fled America at the end of the Civil War.  She first came to the United States  in 1879 or 1880 when she was about a year and a half old.

The family lived in San Francisco until young Helen was school age. Her first memory was watching from the window of their house on Montgomery Street as the lamplighter stopped his horse each evening at one lamppost after another, igniting the lamps with his taper.  There were other memories that she jotted down for her son Willard to include in his 1978 book, Oysterville Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

Once a Familiar Sight in San Francisco c. 1890

How I loved to hear the tamale man sing as he wheeled his cart down Market Street, “Tamale, tamale, ’tis good da cheek-in tamale”…There was Sing, the Chinaman, with his long queue and laughing face, and baskets of vegetables hanging one at each end of a pole that he balanced over his shoulder as he dogtrotted from house to house… But I hated it when my nurse took me through the steep hills of Chinatown.  Such smells– such noises– and once there were two little boys asleep in a box suspended by a hook from the ceiling…

My mind leapt forward to my friend Milton Quan’s memory of his mother, Gracie, tethering him and his brother to the flagpole on the beach when they were little.   It was at China Camp (since 1979, China Camp State Park) on San Pablo Bay where he grew up in the 1940s.  Both of us agree that Gracie was a smart and careful mom — the boys could play endlessly in the sand with their toy trucks while they were safely out of the tide’s reach.   I wonder if I could have shared his story with my grandmother… would she have felt differently about the boys in the box…

China Camp

Once again I am reminded that imagination, reality, past, and present have a way of colliding.  A trip back in time provides a lovely interlude but, even still, such a journey is always a reminder that life is full of misunderstandings of one kind or another.  The safest remedy in my mind:  keep your perspective and sense of humor intact for all your worlds — real, virtual, imaginary.  And any others that take your fancy.


Is bigger really better? Just wondering…

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

At Our Neighbor’s Place

Nine days have passed since I wrote here of the Great Pumpkin’s choosy beneficence in Oysterville.  Apparently, he (or one of his minions) reads my blog and decided to remedy his lack of attention to some of us — at least with regard to our property and that of one of our neighbors.

Rather than pumpkins, though, we have scored what appear to be phallic gourds.  I think they are correctly called “Long-necked Ornamental Gourds.”  This is the second or third year the Great Pumpkin has so honored us.

On the website, they are listed as “long neck dipper gourds” and are described as having a lengthy handle (so THAT’s what that is!) and large ball (yeah, that one was clear).  They go on to say that they are “great for birdhouses, painting and other crafts.”  The Amish Gourds company sell all their gourds dried and cleaned and for $62.99 you can buy a box of eight Apache Dipper Gourds with bulbs between 5-6 inches in diameter and around 12-14 inches tall.  “These Apache dipper gourds are excellent for wood-burning, painting, and birdhouses… The total length of the gourd following along the curve is around 15-20 inches.”  Wow!

Ours, though it might be bigger than our neighbor’s, is not nearly as large as those big Apache Gourds.  I guess the Great Pumpkin wasn’t ready to invest that much in his belated delivery.  Nevertheless, now that we know the many uses that can be made of  the Great Pumpkin’s gift, we are preparing the drying ovens and sharpening our knives.  Woot!  Woot!

As for Dan’s sign… I imagine most people in Pacific County have already voted.  For Dan, we hope!  So… over and out.

Are we in Enoch’s “Age of Sexy Makeup”?

Monday, October 26th, 2020

It’s probably a sign of overwhelming stress concerning ‘the here and now’ that we spent our morning coffee hour discussing how the Bible(s) as we know it/them evolved.  The (s) and the ‘it/them’ should indicate to readers that there are several (perhaps many) versions of the Good Book in use these days.  Even more germane to this particular ramble is that we were looking to Google and the Internet for answers to our questions.  Questions like how many Gospels or Books exist(ed) that are not now included in current versions.  Of the Bible(s).

One interesting bit was about the Book of Enoch — actually there were three — is that it/they included information about a gang of fallen angels coming to Earth and  leaving  the particulars on how to make weapons, magic, and sexy makeup. Those writings of Enoch didn’t make the cut as early as 300 CE (Common Era) which, as you probably know by now, is replacing AD (Anno Domini ) among scholars and others INTK (in the know) in order to take religion out of the equation.

Well… somehow old Enoch’s information sounds pretty sensible to me.  Especially since, during TSTC. (The Sheltering Time of Covid) I have been working my way out of Sexy Makeup.  Not for any religious reasons, mind you.  Just laziness.  Which I think sloth was another name for.  And I think it’s a current Biblical no-no.

As for the weapons and magic parts… “Well, here we are…” you might say.  Plenty of the former and I’m actually communicating with you via the latter.  Is this, I ask you, an example of things coming full circle?  Should Enoch’s books be reconsidered? The Biblical scholars among us may want to weigh in.  Also, anyone who can still dredge up a bit of humor about OCS (Our Current Situation.)

My take on all of it — things are indeed bleak when the stress levels get this high in places like calm, quiet Oysterville.  Amen.

The Witness Tree and An Old Friend

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Grays River – Columbia Land Trust Photo

Three years ago when I arranged to transfer 53 acres of my grandfather’s long ago dairy farm to the Columbia Land Trust, little did I realize that I would be the recipient of their monthly e-newsletter, “The Moss.”  Nor did I ever expect that I would be seeing our friend Bob Pyle, virtually up-close-and-personal,  in the current, October 2020, edition of that newsletter.  A video in a newsletter!  Doncha just love (some parts of) this wonderful new world we live in?

Grays River Covered Bridge

The 5 minute/44 second video takes the viewer along the Grays River to the site of an ancient Hemlock that still stands, even though the forest surrounding it has been logged as many a four times since the mid-nineteenth century.  As I watched the aerial progress up Grays River, the Covered Bridge came into view — the last covered bridge in the state that is still in use.  And there, for only an instant, was a glimpse of Bob Pyle’s familiar house tucked away in the midst of his own heritage landscape.

Dr. Robert Michael Pyle

I hadn’t formed the entire thought yet when here came Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, himself, answering the off-camera narrator’s question about why the Hemlock is the lone old-growth survivor in the immediate area.  “I suspect that Hemlock may be a Witness Tree.  Witness trees were large trees that were situated very close to the survey lines on the land.  When the hills were logged, the  logging crews had to be very careful to leave the witness trees standing because they had to be able to know where the corners of the sections were.”

Repair Work on Oysterville Road, 1880s

Years ago I came across some notes — perhaps in early Pacific County Commissioners minutes — about the first survey of Oysterville Road.  I don’t remember if any trees were mentioned but I do remember that someone’s fence was an important marker — a fence long gone and the owner long forgotten.  I remember thinking at the time that I wish there had been better information.

And now I wonder which and how many documents might have referred to the Witness Tree in the Grays River watershed.  It’s a lovely five-minute film.  I commend it to anyone who loves our forests and is interested in the conservation and restoration efforts by the Columbia Land Trust and other such groups.


The Deer People Love Those Pesky Pears

Friday, October 9th, 2020

The Pear-Eater

For the last several evenings as I’ve gone out to close up the coop, I’ve come face-to-face with the same young doe.  At least I think it’s the same one.  To my untrained eye and in the almost-dark, it’s a little hard to distinguish the nuances.

She stands near our collapsing gazebo (a project for next summer, perhaps) checking out the lawn around our heritage pear tree.  The fruit has been falling for the last week or so with big thonking sounds when it hits the roof of our new (almost completed) woodshed.

Ripening Pears

We assume, because they are detaching themselves from the mother tree, that those pesky pears are ripe.  They are, as they have been for the last 120 years, hard as rocks.  My grandmother declared them “only fit for pickled pears” as did my mother.  I might add “for pickled pears and deer” who seem content to gobble them up, seemingly without effort.  Not like the birds who try one peck and then abandon the endeavor.  (I often wonder if those pears are capable of bending beaks.)

Woodshed Under The Pear Tree

In any case, our evening encounters have been pleasant.  I stop ten or twelve feet away, and we look at one another for a minute or two.  I then welcome the visitor to the garden and offer as many pears as she wants.  But I do admonish her to leave our roses and geraniums and camelia bushes alone.  So far, so good.

Ms. Doe’s Calling Card

I hope the word about the pears doesn’t travel around the neighborhood.  I think I draw the line at deer.  I especially don’t want the Bear People to show up.  I don’t think our conversations would be quite so pleasant…

National Daughter’s Day… maybe

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Sydney and Marta, 2018

Some say September 25th is National Daughters’ Day; some, apparently, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of September.  Whichever date it is, I’m happy to celebrate my “almost” daughter, Marta LaRue.

Marta refers to me as her “other mother” or, sometimes, as her “second mom.”  I appreciate that very much because the Cinderella story has always given “stepmother” a bad rap.  We both avoid that “step” word when we can.  I don’t think either of us resemble Cinderella’s “steps.”

Marta at Five

Marta came into my life in 1959.  She was four-going-on-five and her dad brought her to Charlie’s third birthday party at our little house on Henry Street in Berkeley.  I was already smitten with her father, and shy, adorable Marta just about sealed the deal.  Although I would terminate my marriage with her father in 1972, Marta has been one of the most imprtant parts of my life since that May 30th birthday party for Charlie.

Marta spent school vacations and every other weekend with us.  She called my parents “Granny” and “Grandpa” as Charlie did.  She came up to Oysterville with us several times, went to Camp Willapa one summer — I think she learned to play the guitar there — went on a camping trip to Arizona with us.  Always, always Marta was the buffer between her father and Charlie (whose relationship was difficult at best).

Marta’s Band c. 1980

After graduating from high school, she became a part of the Berkeley/Bay Area music scene and soon had her own band.  Betwixt and between, she waited tables, was a bartender, worked for a company that made educational software, worked as a receptionist in a law firm and, undoubtedly, there are more.  She has always managed to make her own way and make it look like nothing but fun.  What a gift!

Even as a little girl, Marta “thought” with her heart.  Her intuition and empathy  and basic kindness are characteristics that define her to this day.  For her post-retirement job, Marta’s Pet Care Services, she is “Chief Dog Walker and Pet Sitter Extraordinaire.”  Although she doesn’t say so, I sometimes wonder if her rapport with the animals in her care might be greater than with the owners involved.  It would not surprise me!