Archive for the ‘Winter in Oysterville’ Category

Jack’s, A Turkey, St. Paddy, And Me!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Stained-glass window of St. Patrick from Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Junction City, Ohio

This year, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we are having turkey.  Yep!  No corned beef and cabbage this time around, as in how can you turn down “free?”

It happened a few weeks ago.  I was doing a big shopping at Jack”s in my effort to cut down what seem like constant forays to the grocery store.  (It was BS-Q – Before Self-Quarantining and Social Distancing; I just DO NOT like to shop.)  As the clerk rang up the total, she asked if I knew about their free turkey program.

I didn’t and, for a moment, wondered if I looked truly needy, but she explained that customers who spent over $100 at one time were eligible for a free, fresh, butterball turkey.  “Would you like one?”  You betcha!  I think it’s the only free thing I’ve ever won.

“We’ll have it for St. Patrick’s day,” Nyel said.  “The luck of the Irish and all that.”  So in the freezer it went, all fourteen-and-a-half pounds!  And out it came day before yesterday to unfreeze in the fridge.  Today Chef Nyel will roast it “to a turn,” as they say and we’ll be suitably thankful to Jack’s Country Store and to St. Patrick, himself.

And, speaking of St. Patrick — I do feel a close affinity for him.  I have a good dollop of Irish in me, although my Irish connections in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh say we’re really English and never mind that we’ve been in Northern Ireland since the 18th century.

Turkey for Dinner!

St. Patrick, too, was actually English — probably born in the 4th century in Roman Britain.  At age sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland where he spent six years as a shepherd.,,,   Well, the story goes on and I can’t claim to much in common with any of it beyond the English ancestry part.

Who knew?

The Balancing Act

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Engraving – Edward Jenner giving smllpox vaccination, 1880s

If you are in an “opposites attract” relationship — and I think many of us are —  you understand completely about balance and compromise and other tricks of keeping things on an even keel.  The last few days I’ve run smack dab into couples dealing with the “possibilities” presenting themselves as Covid-19/Coronavirus  continues its insidious grand tour around the world and into the cracks and crannies of our lives.

At one end of the scale of reactions is my own husband/housemate/love of my life: Nyel-of-the-multiple-physical-ailments.  “It’s being way over-hyped by the media,” is his first and (for now) final word on the matter — although I have noticed that he keeps a bottle of Purell in his pocket these days.

At the other end of the scale are the photos on line of stockpilers with full carts of whatever they deem will keep them safe and healthy — even, as in the case of masks, the health care professionals are saying “don’t bother.  It doesn’t help.”  On the side of caution  among our own friends here are a Long Beach couple who have cancelled all travel plans until at least August and who are limiting trips to the grocery store to twice a month at most.  “We sat down and worked out two weeks of menus,” they told me.  We are trying to stock the pantry with staples, too.”

1918 Flu Epidemic

Other friends here in Oysterville have cancelled plans to fly to California.  “We can’t imagine anywhere much sater than right here,” one of them told me.  They have had some serious health problems while traveling in the past, so I can well understand their concern.  But will they be credited with an already-paid-for ticket.  They are looking into it.

Luckily, we have no serious travel plans, though I have wondered about our twice-weekly visits to the Physical Care Facility at Clatsop Care in Astoria.  Nyel is making good progress toward increased mobility and, at this point, even I (the cautious partner) wouldn’t dream of interrupting his forward movement (so to speak.)  I am trusting that the staff there is keeping on top of things and will notify us promptly if they feel the need to quarantine the facility.

As for all those forays to the store and post office and library —  I’m working on fewer — not so much because of the infection quotient but more because they eat up my time to write.  The Corona virus just gives me a greater feeling of urgency about it all.

Spanish Influenza 1918

And then, there are our Friday Night gatherings.  Neither Nyel nor I want to give those up, but… we have been discussing possibilities.  We think we’ll put it up to the group tonight — at least to those who are here.   At the very least it will be interesting to hear their thoughts and see which end of the cautionary scale each is on — for right now anyway.


The North End Is The New Yellow!!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

From the Ocean Park Chamber’s FB Page

Have you driven north lately?  On the Peninsula, I mean.  The daffodils are out in all their glory!  And they are EVERYwhere.  Look for them on the back road beginning at the Beach Barons’ place and, on the front road about at the Peninsula Baptist Church and at Oman’s and the Ocean Park Elementary School and at Sheldon’s Field.  Heading east toward Nahcotta, the north side of Bay Avenue is glorious and Oysterville is daffy-daffy-daffy-down, all-around-all-around!

Near The Beaver Ditch on Oysterville Road

Tom Downer told me yesterday that we are looking at SIX TONS of bloomin’ bulbs?  Or did he say 60 tons?  Either way, it’s more than I can get my garden spade around.  Or my mind.

I love the plantings in clumps and clusters.  I wish we’d suggested that to Eugene-the-Landscaper when he did ours.  But I’m thinking that our rows will eventually clump up anyway, as the bulbs split and sprout.

In The Oysterville Churchyard

Big Red has apparently declared himself Inspector General.  I don’t know how he gets out of the yard (and he sure as shootin’ isn’t telling) but he was out daffodil moseying yesterday and then wouldn’t go back into the garden.  The hens stood on the other (read: right) side of the fence, but not until I walked through the gate and showed him how it was done would he return to his coop duties.

Big Red on Patrol

I know that Ferdinand truly loved sniffing the flowers but, really Big Red!

Wouldn’t you know it?

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

After all our mice and rat (yes!! rats!!) problems last summer, wouldn’t you know that this year, beginning January 25th. is the Year of the Rat on the Chinese calendar.  I think I should have been anticipating that!  I was born in 1936 which was also the Year of the Rat.  Like all other members of the Chinese Zodiac, the rat comes around every twelve years.

Somewhere deep within me, I knew that,  But, I must keep it well repressed.  I certainly did not feel any affinity for the ones out in out storage area that died in the traps I set.  And I am keeping those traps current just in case.  I do not like rats in such close proximity.  No sirree!

Besides that, Nyel was born in the Year of the Sheep.  Rats and sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac, are not particularly compatible. As I see it, it’s too late now.  But, even so, don’t tell Nyel.


A Pause That Refreshes? I can but hope.

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

Now Available in Hardcover from Amazon

A three-day weekend!  When you are retired it shouldn’t make all that much difference, but this time around… I am at least hopeful that I’ll find my way forward along what has proved to be a difficult path.

History Press and I are still deep in contract negotiations.  I think.  Late in their North Carolina workday yesterday, they emailed me a contract by PDF attachment.  Also an addendum that must be agreed to by me along with the contract. That addendum requires that I buy 500 copies of my book (for resale by me), to be paid for in full plus shipping by the publication date — probably Spring 2021.  I am not a happy camper.

Never, for any of my seven books published by Arcadia Publishers or their imprint History Press, has author purchase of books been a part of the deal.  I write the book, pitch it to them, am offered a standard contract, and Bob’s your uncle.  Not this time.  A whole new ballgame, even though of all my books with them, I believe Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula has done the best.  You’d think they’d be eager for the sequel.

I’m using this three day weekend to research the price of self-publishing — a process I tried (and hated) years ago, but I think self-publishing has come a long way.  On the other hand, all book sales and distribution would be my responsibility…  forever.  So maybe taking History Press’s deal for a finite 500 would be better.  But the shipping costs are the sticking point.  My pencil just doesn’t sharpen to a fine enough point.

Now Available in Hardcover

Plus I sure would like to know if this is standard operating procedure for them all of a sudden.  Do all contract offers now come with an addendum requiring the author to buy 500 books?  Or have I, somehow, come under special scrutiny and attention?

If you know of anyone who has recently been published by History Press, I’d be interested in hearing from them…   And BTW, Happy President’s Weekend!

Sad to say, I’m retiring my tiara.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Queen Elizabeth is almost exactly ten years older than I — just enough older that I was full of teen-aged fascination as the news followed her marriage to Prince Phillip, her father-the-King’s death, her trip home from Kenya as Queen, and finally, her coronation.

I remember sitting in the yard here in Oysterville in June 1953, pouring through the Life magazine devoted entirely to the pomp and circumstance of her official crowning at Westminster Abbey.  I was seventeen and had just graduated from San Rafael High School.  I had two weeks before reporting to work at the Cliff House Gift Shop in San Francisco.  Queen Elizabeth was a role model in her grace and poise; her husband and consort — not so much.

I’ve been thinking about all that this week.  Now that our neighbor Cyndy set us up with Roku and we can stream, we are watching “The Crown”.  And it just happened that “The Queen” was the very last Netflix disc we got before cancelling our subscription and going over to steaming mode.  So we watched that between a couple of episodes of “The Crown.”

I must say, if I still had any bubble left at all with respect to English royalty, it has surely burst forever.  Neither of the presentations is a bit sympathetic to the monarchy as far as I can see — especially “The Queen.”  I’m sure the fault lies partly with me.  I never could really buy into the Diana craze nor was I very sympathetic to her attitude toward her marriage to Charles — or even to her engagement..

I don’t know of anyone who shared that view as completely  except for my mother, an inveterate anglophile all her life.  Neither of us thought that being part of the royal family (even by marriage) was about moving with the times — flitting hither and thither with international jet set, playing hide and seek with the paparazzi.  It’s one of those if-you-can’t-stand-the-heat-don’t-go-anywhere-near-the-kitchen things. Tradition and protocol and propriety.

I’ve retired my tiara.  Actually, I don’t know where it is.  Oh well.  It’s another era past and left to the movies to interpret however they want to…

You, too, can tell a story from the heart…

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Perhaps you read my series called “Stories from the Heart” that ran in the  in the Observer  a few years back.  The thirteen first-hand accounts concerned members of our local Hispanic community — stories that centered on their everyday struggle in the current ICE-y climate of surveillance and arrest right here on our (seemingly) peaceful Peninsula.

This coming Wednesday evening, there will be an opportunity for all of us to audition for a similar story-telling experience — this time in a readers theater presentation called “American Dreams.”  Sponsored through a grant from the Seattle-based Abe Keller Peace Education Fund, our local Pacific County Immigrant Support group is mounting this production under the able direction of Sandy Nielson — performances to take place Saturday April 25 in Ilwaco and April 26 in Raymond.

Readers Theater production of Our Town, Intermountain Theater, Placerville, CA

Cate Gable gave more detail in her January 29th column but some of the bottom lines are:  the play was written by Linda Britt, a Professor of Spanish at the University of Maine and involves a series of monlogues by immigrants in varying circumstances — a blind immigrant from Canada, a woman from Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as voices from Mexico, Guatamala, China, Russia and Egypt.  The ages of the storytellers range from teens to octogenarians and, among the heart-tugging revelations, “illustrate the range of differing circumstances of our U.S. immigration rules.”

The readers theater model (upon which Lawrence Lessard and I developed “Shoalwater Storytellers” back in the ’80s) is near and dear to my heart.  It can take many forms, but all involve reading from a script — no memorization involved.  If you can read aloud, you can do readers’ theater.  If you can take on another persona while reading, so much the better!

Readers Theater presentation of “A Wrinkle in Time”

Auditions take place from 4 to 7 this Wednesday, February 5 in the north end room of the Ilwaco Library building.  According to Sandy, “There are quite a few monologues from people aged 20-40 and it would be nice to have those read by people who are actually in that age range.”  Here’s your chance to get involved — to walk the walk while you, literally, talk the talk!  Come to the auditions!  Bring a young person with you or vice-versa!

Harbingers, Marauders, and Resplendence!

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Here they come!

They’re popping up all over the place!  Daffodils!  The harbingers of Spring!

On the north side of our house, along the verge there are a gazillion shoots promising to bloom soon.  Some were planted by Nyel several Autumns ago.  And there are several hundred that were planted this last October by our landscaper friend Eugene Busenius.  Those include some that were a house gift in September from my cousin Lina in Austria, and dozens from Jack Downer — a gift to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation — and even more dozens from him as a gift to us.  Eugene was a trooper!  I hope he does a drive-by when they bloom.

Deer Candy

Other signs of Spring in our yard include lots of deer scat and the tell-tale nibbling on our camellias.  I don’t think there is a leaf in sight that doesn’t have a bite-sized chomp out of it.  They aren’t going to make  the most attractive bouquets in the world when they bloom — but there will be a story of two connected to them for sure.  “The Marauding Deer People of Oysterville” comes to mind.

Winter Promises

Thank goodness for the Rosamundi Rhododendron in our south garden.  She is  resplendent and flowering in all her glory — setting the bar high for everyone else out there.  And I can clearly hear her saying “Nya Nya Nyaa” to the deer people, much to the envy of the apple tree and the hydrangeas and, of course, the aforementioned camellias.

I keep telling all of them, “Worry not!  We are going to be SO ready for you whenever and however you show up!”  I hope they are listening!



“It’s a regular lake out there!”

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

The lake in our east meadow made its appearance somewhat later than usual this year, undoubtedly because the rains of November didn’t arrive until December.  Years ago, Nyel named it “Lake Little” in honor of my father.  Most people probably think we call it that for its size, but I maintain that, in that case, he’d have named it “Little Lake.”  Which he didn’t.

Black Brant

My father, William “Bill” Little  always enjoyed that seasonal body of water.  He liked watching the ducks paddling around out there on fine winter days, bobbing and diving after who-knows-what tasty morsels below the surface.  Too, he enjoyed seeing the Brant come in to rest and reconnoiter.  I can still hear him say, winter after winter, as if it were the first time, “Why!  It’s a regular lake out there!”

Chickens at Water’s Edge

I recently read that the oldest recorded Brant was a female, and was over 27 years, 6 months old. It had been banded in Alaska and was found in Washington.  Can’t help but wonder if she was among the yearly visitors to Lake Little.

This year, the lake seems larger than usual, even though it didn’t appear until Christmastime.  I wonder if its size has more to do with the condition of the meadow, itself, rather than with the amount of rainfall.  Does it have to do with how evenly the meadow was mowed back in September?  Or, perhaps, with the storm-driven high tides of late December?  Kathleen Sayce could probably tell me.

Eagles On Merchant Street

I don’t think the waterfowl care one way or another.  Nor do they seem to pay any attention to our chickens who sometimes stand at water’s edge to watch them float and dive.  Even when the eagles are in their nearby perch high atop the nearby Monterey Cypress on Merchant Street, the denizens of Lake Little pay no heed.  I imagine they are secure in the thought that there is plenty for all.  After all, they are right here in Oysterville, God’s country!


Whew! No matter how you figure it…

Monday, January 6th, 2020

Goodbye to Christmas 2019

…we got our tree down just in time!  Or so it seems.  Our two tall Christmas elves made a return visit yesterday afternoon to climb Tucker’s ladder and take down the way-up-high ornaments that they had placed in that eleven-foot noble fir four weeks ago. (Four weeks!  Wow!  No wonder that tree was looking so tired.)

Tradition in some circles (especially British) has it that the Christmas tree should come down on Epiphany (which is today.)  Or… some say that all  Christmas decorations should be taken down on Twelfth Night (which was yesterday… or today, depending upon how you count.)  Either way, by my figuring, we made it!

Two-fisted Clean-up!

According to some traditions (or maybe superstitions), Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night should be left up until February 2nd (Candlemas Day) and still others say that if you miss getting your house undecorated by January 5th, you must leave the Christmas decor up until Twelfth Night the following year!  Yikes!

On the other hand… taking decorations down too early is also a no-no.  In ancient times, people believed that tree-spirits lived in the holly and ivy. After the festive season, they would be released outside but if they were let go before Christmas ended, there could be problems with the harvest as a result.  I was a bit relieved to hear the holly and ivy part — we didn’t have either among our festive boughs!

Every Crack and Cranny!

Mostly, though, I’m just pleased to have the house looking back to “normal.”  It is a New Year’s bonus that our elves could be here yesterday ensuring the end of Christmas in a timely manner and according to old traditions!  And besides that, they went crazy with the cleaning up!  There is ‘nary a fir needle nor an icicle strand to be found as a reminder of Christmas past — and that’s said with perfect 2020 hindsight!