Archive for the ‘Up Close and Personal’ Category

Doncha just hate when that happens?

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Sydney’s Neck

Not that I can understand the specifics behind my severe neck pain, but here is what I learned yesterday from my Primary Caregiver.

The x-rays showed:
Grade 1 anterior spondylolisthesis of C2 on C3, C3 on C4 and C4 on C5.  Plus moderate to severe degenerative changes fron C4-C5 through C6 and C7.

It’s probably fortunate that I really can’t read X-rays with assurance and that I don’t know the ramifications of big, scary-soundy words like spondylolisthesis.  Because of my age, “corrective surgery” is not an option, and I’m not sure it would be, anyway.  It would involve fusing some of those pesky vertebrae and I would then have little to no ability to move my head.

Sydney, 1941 — In the days when head-turning wasn’t problematic.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will depend upon muscle relaxants every eight hours as needed, tylenol for pain, and giving wide berth to activities that are likely to exacerbate the situaltion.

And, FYI,  as of today, I’m up and about and going on with life as usual, but a bit more slowly.  End of story.  But, probably not the end of the pain in the neck!


A Footnote to Our Local History

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Sealand-Nahcotta 1890s

Perhaps you read my article about Sealand in the July 23rd Chinook Observer.  If not, you should be able to read it by cutting and pasting this link:

It was the fifth story in my series, “Once Upon A Time in Early Pacific County” and it’s one I thoroughly enjoyed writing — perhaps because I had a bit of first-hand knowledge about Sealand “the town across the tracks.”  Although I was a generation too young to have known it personally, I grew up hearing my grandparents refer to it — always.  When it came to the town four miles south of Oysterville, they never spoke of Nahcotta.  Only of Sealand.

Dorothy at Graduation fron IHS, 1948

So, I can hardly express to you the pleasure I felt when I received a note the other day from my friend, Dorothy Trondsen Williams.  Dorothy grew up here on the Peninsula — in Ocean Park — and was the granddaughter of J.A.  Morehead who figured prominently in my Sealand article.  Some years ago, I had written about Dorothy’s growing up years in my series “North Beach Girls of the Teens and Twenties.”  I drew from some of her reminiscences for the recent Sealand story.

In her note to me she said:  I especially enjoyed the Sealand Morehead articles in the Observer recently and thought you might be interested in the fact that I recently obtained J.A. Morehead’s desk.  Daughter Barbara plans to laminate the stories and they will be stored in the desk in a cubby hole for future generations to enjoy.

I couldn’t be more pleased!



Sartorial Splendor and Quality Control

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Summer Wardrobe

I swear to you, half or more of my sheltering time has been spent trying to get a new pair of blue jeans.  So far, I’ve had no luck at all.  I blame it on sloppy quality control with a tad of over-zealous marketing thrown in.  Plus, I’m convinced that as Americans have chunked up, manufacturers have changed their sizing so we’ll all feel better about ourselves.  For those of us who haven’t chunked with the times, it’s not working.

For 20 years or maybe more, I’ve bought the same brand of jeans.  I don’t mind telling what brand they are — NYDJ.  “Not Your Daughters Jeans” which, they promise, will fit and enhance the “mature” figure.  Hmmm.

Not Measuring Up!

When I bought my first pair — size 6P, one size smaller than usual as advised — I was five-feet-two and weighed 120 pounds, give or take 5.  Now, I am five-feet-one-ish, still weigh 120-ish and am, perhaps a little thicker through the thorax than previously.  Twenty years can do that to a girl.

Add to that information that I have two (count ’em 2) wardrobes — summer and winter.  In summer, I wear blue jeans and a sweatshirt with, maybe, a tee shirt beneath it.  In winter, I wear blue jeans, a sweatshirt over a tee shirt, Nyel’s old down vest, and a rain hat.  When I “dress up,” no matter the season, I usually wear black NYDJ jeans and a black sweater and, if I remember, a colorful scarf.  Neat and tidy is my goal, not fashion plate.

Winterized Sydney

So, when I ordered a new pair of jeans, same size as usual, my expectations were also as usual.  The pants came and they seemed a bit loose around the middle.  Washing in hot water should take care of it I thought.  It didn’t.  So, I hung that pair in the closet and ordered a pair of size 4P.  For some Covid-19 related reason, there was a long delay.

Last night the package finally arrived (bless Fed Ex).  I’m here to tell you that 4P fit me perfectly!  Except that my legs seem to be three inches too short.  Despite my last experience, this new pair is in the washing machine.  If they are still too long, I’ll send them back — none of this hiding them in the closet until they change their mind.  Daughter-schmaughter!  Could we just have a little quality control?


Another Wednesday… and so it goes.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Perspective really is everything when you come right down to it.  Right now, during this sheltering time, my perspective has mostly to do with what day of the week and what week of which month it is.  Today being Wednesday, there are two all-important concerns on my agenda.  It is Observer day and it is garbage day — usually thought of in that order.

My interest in the Observer is often quite personal.  Take today, for instance.  It’s the day my column usually appears — the first Wednesday of the month.  Plus, I have a series going about early settlements here that are no more — “Once upon a time in Pacific County.”  There is no set time for the articles to go into the paper but, once I turned one in, I am ever hopeful.  I’ve been looking for several weeks for the most recently submitted — on Bruceport — and even took a look online this morning rather than waiting until I can get to the post office for our hard copy.  Sadly, not yet in print.

The other biggee on Wednesdays is getting the garbage out in time for the new, earlier pick-up time — 8:30 a.m.  Depending on which week it is, I try to get everything in the dumpster on Tuesday night so I just have to wheel it out in the morning.  Sometimes I even remember to place the car in the garage so I can get that pesky dumpster past it without backing out, repositioning, or whatever.   Putting the garbage out the night before is not an option, of course.  Bears!

Then, there’s every other Tuesday when we cross the river to Fred Meyer’s to pick up our grocery order.  That’s an adventure in and of itself — especially the unpacking part when we get home to find out what’s missing or what’s extra.  Yesterday, no Johnsonville brats and, instead of unsalted butter, it was salted.  And still no bread flour.

But we are well-stocked for the next two weeks, and therein lies the impact on this particular Wednesday morning.  By the time we put away all those groceries, re-packaging some things for the freezer, dealing with plastic bags (I thought those were outlawed in Oregon…) I had forgotten all about garbage day coming up.  Or was too tired to care.

And so it goes.  It all reminds me of that great book I used to read to kids:  The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown.  Each page followed a pattern in which the author told us what she thought was most important — never mind all the other characteristics — of a spoon or an apple or a shoe.  The kids often had their own ideas and didn’t always agree with Ms. Brown.

That would lead to the kids writing  their own “important books.”  One of my favorite (and, therefore, still memorable) pages was by a second grader who wrote:  “The important thing about me is that I am kind.  It is true that my name is Steve and that I am seven  and that I have two sisters.  But the important thing about me is that I am kind.”

The important thing about Thursday is…

Coming To Grips With Necessities

Monday, May 18th, 2020

In addition to our Covid Shags, there is the matter (in my case) of the Covid Claws.  It’s been years — at least 30 — since I’ve had to bother with manicuring my nails.  For a few years it was Jan and, for the last 20 or so, it’s been Gina To The Rescue — every two weeks come hell or high water, as they say.  And then came the Coronavirus!

Knowing that dozens of others are in this same high water boat doesn’t help.  My nails are a disaster.  And it doesn’t help to remember that before their introduction to the wonders of acrylic, they were also a disaster.  Bottom line:  I have crummy nails.  They are weak.  They flake and peal and bend and break.  They are pretty much useless without being enhanced.

But, as with the other amenities of enhanced feminine allure — lipstick, mascara and all sorts of makeup; nail polish and “nail art” (as they call it); hair colors and haircuts; and all those piercing and waxing and tatting possibilities — I’ve more or less lost touch with the purpose of things.  I mean, what is the purpose of lips or eyebrows or, for that matter, nails?  Fortunately, except for a bit of makeup (when it occurs to me) my only indulgence has been those acrylic nails.

Works In Progress

I find that sheltering in place is a fine opportunity to get back in touch with the purpose of things.  Fingernails, for example,  “shield the fingertips and the surrounding soft tissues from injuries. They increases the sensitivity of the finger by acting as a counter force when the pulp of the finger touches an object.”  Or, according to the experts, that is what they are supposed to do.

Mine never did any of that very well and, so, enhancement has been a godsend.  But now that the acrylic is loosening and extending to disruptive proportions, I am having to remove the “fake nails” one, by one.  Right now, I am in Digital Transition which gives a whole new meaning to the DTs.  My fingers are sensitive, my own nails still too short and too flimsy to be useful, and my three stubborn, remaining nails, ugly  and bothersome beyond belief.

The big question, of course, is will it be Gina-to-the-Rescue as soon as she can be back to work?  Or will I be “sensible” and try to get used to the natural (albeit inferior) keratinous, translucent structures at my fingertips?  Will I be forward thinking and come to grips (so to speak) with the very real possibility that this sheltering time will need to be repeated?  And, besides that, what of my waning years and decreased abilities to keep up appearances?  To say nothing of the unsightly changes to my fingers from arthritis — as in why draw attention to them?

Fortunately, summer is on its way and nails grow faster in summer.  Perhaps giving my fingertips a break (so to speak) for the season will help me decide.

Ponderables In The Age of Sheltering

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Ready-to-Go Basket of Masks and Gloves

It seems to me that we are already getting used to parts of the “new normal.”  Masks and gloves, for instance.  I have a baskets of freshly washed masks and disposable gloves located near our front and back doors.  Plus some in the car (and a leaky bottle of hand sanitizer, as well.)

However, every time I mask up to go out in public, I wonder how long I’ll be clear-sighted.  Do I have my glasses situated just right or will I fog up before I get where I’m going?  Contact lenses must be the answer.  As we enter the long haul with our various virus protections in place, contact lens manufacturers should do a booming business.

Or… I could just remember my very brief foray into scuba diving and spit on my glasses like I was taught to do with my mask.  Magically kept it from fogging.  I don’t remember ever hesitating as I readied to plunge into the briny depths but… somehow going to the post office seems to require more… what?  Formality?  Decorum?  Definitely a subject for pondering as I sit here sheltering.

Our Front Porch

And then there is the rather unnatural — “Speak for yourself,” says Nyel — focus on food that seems to accompany sheltering.  I finally took courage and weighed myself yesterday.  “Same- old Same-old,” said the scale.

It’s lying, of course.  These extra bulges couldn’t just be due to that old time-and-shifting problem.  You know, like with the shifting sands of time.  What am I doing differently now that I’m sheltering?  I know for a fact that it has naught to do with exercise.  That’s never been a part of my lifestyle.  So… why?  I ask you!  Something else to ponder…

One thing that requires very little pondering, however, is the diminished capacity of my mind.  Not enough mental stimulation — which for me has always involved socializing.  Being around people and interacting with them — not all the time, but periodically — is what keeps my imagination and creative juices dribbling along.

One “Friday Night” Before the Sheltering Began

Telephone, skype, email, and text are fabulous… but only as a stop-gap measure to in- person-up-close-and-personal encounters.   I’m thinking of inviting people over for “gate talks” as the weather improves.  They can stand at our gate, we can come out onto the porch and visit from twenty-five feet away.  Definitely worth pondering!



Reality Check?

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Three-thirty in the morning is way too early to be wide awake but… it happens.  As always, I have a book within easy reach but… it doesn’t seem to be the answer.  So, I puttered for a bit in the garage (say what!) loading the recycling into the car for a run to Nahcotta later.  And then I thought I’d read the parts of the paper I’d glossed over last week.

Because of this, in December 2019, teachers did not need to have insurance premiums withheld from their paychecks because there was no January 2020 insurance to pay in December, since it would be paid on Feb. 5  

I thought about that.  Then I read the rest of the paragraph. The district will not withhold the same premiums from teachers in their March paychecks. But that agreement is in no way related to the district’s belief that it was done improperly, just that employees have a choice to keep the money in March as long as the district bears no liability if the insurance payment schedule changes again, Huntley said.

After the third or fourth read-through, I gave up.  It may be early onset something-or-other but I simply cannot wrap my head around those words.  I thought I wanted to keep up with my former colleagues and their concerns, but… maybe not now.

I’d like to blame the time of day.  Maybe it’s not too late for a short snooze before Big Red wakes up the sun.  Then perhaps I’ll try again.  Perhaps.

A Flowery February Friday!

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Birthday Bouquet from John and Steve (and their garden)!

Last night’s “usual” Friday gathering was festive, fragrant, and generally fantastic!  Lively conversation, a good mix of “regulars” and “once-in-a-whilers” and food to die for — as I had hoped, the perfect birthday celebration!

Prompted by our Wednesday’s Community Historian lecture, I actually had some “sharing” to present to the gathering.  Tucked away in my closet are a number of my grandmother Helen Richardson Espy’s “unmentionables” dating back to the time of her 1897 wedding.  Her corset (which had both steel and whalebone ribs), a pair of her split-leg bloomers, a chemise, a petticoat, and a pair of size three shoes with bows decorated with seed pearls!  Among other things!

Roses from Cate!

I hadn’t looked at any of those items for ten or fifteen years and it was great fun to see them through the eyes of my friends and loved ones!  I also was reminded of two things about her courtship days that my grandmother took pride in for all of her 74 years.  One was her very small shoe size and the other was that my grandfather could span her 19-inch waist with his hands.  I always thought that was her own bit of self-pride.  It wasn’t until Tames Alan pointed out that these were common Victorian aspirations that I realized just why she remarked on those particular aspects of her youth.

Carnations from Maggie!

She also confided to me once, “It’s far worse to have had beauty and to have lost it than to never have had beauty at all.”  Photographs of her reveal that she was, indeed, a beauty and I always took her remark to be a lament as well as a reassurance to me that I needn’t worry in that regard.  I did, anyway.  Didn’t we all?

This morning the house smells of Daphne and birthday cake and still echoes with laughter.  Such a lovely evening it was!  How blessed I feel!

Flowers! Candy! Cards! Plus A Gift of Time!

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday!  My birthday was yet a day away when the cards and gifts began arriving!  A gorgeous basket of spring flowers from Charlie, a Birthday Gift Card from Marta, plus a box of chocolates from local friends and cards in my postbox from far-away friends and relatives!  Surely today, the day my 84th, is off to an auspicious beginning.

It’s the ending I’m concerned about, of course.  It was on this day a year ago that Nyel fell and fractured his hip.  He was on his way out to lock up the chickens for the night.  This date, a year later, marks the end of his first week of physical therapy and early glimmers of hope that he will walk again.  My fondest birthday wish is that this day will be a Friday “as usual” with no reason for EMTs or aid cars or ambulances.

Straight from the Coop

I think the plan is for a special brunch featuring (of course!) eggs from the girls and maybe even a birthday Bloody, though that will just lead to a nap when my plan is to spend some solid writing time.  That would be the best treat of all — four or five hours in a row just to sit at my computer and work on my book.  Under ordinary circumstances, I’m lucky to find two uninterrupted hours.  Surely, I can lock myself away from other duties and demands on this day!  (To which Nyel would instantly say, “Don’t call me Shirley!”)

And, anyway, we all have a bonus day tomorrow!  I was born in a leap year so tomorrow will be my 21st February 29th!  My friend and up-the-hill neighbor, Sandra, was actually born on a 29th but I’m not sure which year.  She’s younger than I by several leaps I believe, and I hope she is planning a big hoopty-do.

And speaking of such, in this household we usually don’t do anything special unless the birthday ends with a 5 or a 0.  So…Nyel has another year to get back into stride (so to speak.)   And everyone else… you have a year to get ready to do some serious partying!

Pay attention, Chicken Little!

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Helen and Harry Es;py on their 50th Wedding Anniversary

I have been noticing in my mirror lately that Chicken Little was quite wrong about what was falling.  And not in an acorn sort of way, either.  In a face sort of way.  Specifically my chinny-chin-chin.  (And never mind that that’s yet another fairy tale.  It’s the falling part that matters here, not the  hair on it — a totally different problem that I’m not yet ready to discuss.)

I believe I have my sainted Grandmother Espy’s chin.  Hers started migrating south by the time she was in her fifties.  I don’t think  I even noticed at the time.  She was my beloved granny and I wasn’t very concerned about her chin or any other individual part of her.  It was the whole package that counted.

Sydney, 1941

I was a lot smarter and a lot less critical eighty years ago.  It never occurred to me to notice what people looked like — and especially not how I might look.  I guess that all changes in the teens or, probably nowadays, in the preteens.  Up until that time, I don’t even remember looking in the mirror.  Except once when I was five or six and it wasn’t my face that concerned me.

I had been spanked for some transgression and I’m sure my dignity was hurt worse than my bottom.  I remember going up into my bedroom, standing in front of the full length mirror on my closet door, pulling down my underpants and looking at my behind with great indignation.  I was howling mightily (for my mother’s benefit, I’m sure) and howled even louder when I discovered that my skinny little tush wasn’t even one bit red!  How could THAT be?  I’m sure I had expected a hand print or two at the very least!

In the eye of the beholder… 2019

I console myself that my eyes are growing dimmer at just at the right time.  Not only does my own reflection seem pleasantly blurred these days, but my friends and loved ones are also are taking on soft edges.  Plus they seem to be speaking in more dulcet tones.  (Surely, I don’t need those pesky hearing aids.  Not yet.)

It’s probably a little late to be wishing for grandchildren.  Or for anyone else who might overlook the ravages of time.  Although, come to think of it, the chickens are always glad to see me…