I’d rather be lost on Stackpole Road.

October 18th, 2017

Yesterday, while Nyel was mostly flat on his back and I was mostly flat on my backside, he mostly dozed and I mostly wrote.  But in the wakeful moments, we talked a bit about that Sunday drive we took a few days back.  And about getting ‘sorta lost’ in the northern wilderness of Ocean Park.

“Weren’t we on Stackpole Road for a while?” I asked.  “You know, that other, fake Stackpole Road?  The one that dead-ends and then starts again for real across from Bud Goulter’s place on Oysterville Road?”

“Yep,” said the man of few words.

It’s one of the many strange things about the roads on the Peninsula.  As every Oysterville schoolboy used to know, Stackpole Road was named after Isaac Clark’s, boat, the Dr Stackpole.  (If anyone knows who Dr. Stackpole was, do tell!)

Isaac Alonzo Clark, co-founder of Oysterville with R.H. Espy, platted the bayside village and became its first storekeeper.  He was also an oysterman but, according to his cohorts, a rather timid boatman.  When a storm was brewing out on the bay, he often put in at a protected cove near Leadbetter Point.  As the other plungers headed homeward they would see Clark’s boat, Dr. Stackpole, hunkered down for the duration.  The cove is still called “Stackpole Harbor.” Presumably, the name for the road evolved from that.

Isaac Alonzo Clark

At first, the road was just a sandy cart track that led to the north end of the Peninsula.  Even when I was a girl, we locals just called it “the road to the Point.”  Since it seemed to begin at Oysterville Road, it never occurred to me that there might be another piece of it in Ocean Park – nearly five miles to the south.  The only connection to Stackpole Harbor that I can think of is that Isaac Clark also platted much of Ocean Park for the Methodist Episcopal Church of Portland. (They say he got tired of the boom-town, party! party! party! atmosphere here in Oysterville.

I don’t know whether there are still other pieces of Stackpole Road.  When we were ‘sorta lost’ out there in the denizens of Ocean Park, I wished we had kept one of those spiffy maps of the Peninsula that we used to sell at the Bookvendor.  (I think they were made by a man named Love who worked upstairs for David Jensen.)  When I have time, maybe I’ll look at map sifter online.  Meanwhile, as interesting as all this is for passing the time at the hospital… I think I’d rather be out there lost on Stackpole Road again!

In Through the Side Door

October 17th, 2017

Nyel’s View of the Passing Parade

Yesterday began as planned.  We headed out at 8:30 for a two o’clock appointment in Portland with Dr. God (whose offices are at Emanuel Hospital).  Although it was a ‘long-standing’ appointment, we had our backs packed on the likelihood that we’d go from Dr. God’s office directly to the hospital’s admitting desk.  Nyel’s situation had deteriorated considerably in the last two days and so, along about Cranguyma Farms, he called and gave a heads up to Dr. God’s nurse.

We proceeded to Ocean Beach Hospital (as planned) for blood work so that the doctor would have the results (by the miracle of FAX) by the time we arrived.  But, even as Nyel was waiting his turn in the lab, the call came from Portland – “Skip the appointment.  Go directly to the hospital.  Either to admitting or to the ER.  We’ll let you know.”

Ambulance Bays: Full

It ended up being the ER which is actually called the ED (Department not Room) these days.  This one, as is no doubt true in all big city hospitals, is considerably bigger than our entire Ocean Beach Hospital.  The triage went quick-as-a-wink, Nyel was placed in a room, the ER doctor gave a few orders for meds, Dr. God came in, and then… we waited.  I think the wait was five hours; the Cardio Care Unit was full and we were next in line for a bed.

While we were there, the ED filled up, too.  We could hear the ambulances arrive, and then a helicopter.  “All incoming bays are full,” someone said.  Outside Nyel’s room, the hallways began filling up with patients on cots – apparently having vacated their ED rooms (for incoming patients) while they awaited their own discharge.   We felt lucky that Nyel was safely tucked in a room, hooked up to monitors (never mind the constant beeping which, we were told was the result of his stopping breathing as he would drop off to sleep.)  Scary.

Helicopter Airspace- Busy!

Finally… back up to the fifth floor of the hospital.  Familiar territory.  Nurses we know.  Routines we know.  A menu we know (less happily).  And the beginnings of a plan to get Nyel into OSHU for a second opinion while we are here.  Our fingers are crossed that this will happen and that the various medical teams will move forward with something that will improve Nyel’s situation.  As ever, Nyel is non-complaining, but I’m feeling the need to beef up my cheerleading skills. Even the most patient patient is bound to get discouraged…

A Sunday Afternoon Drive

October 16th, 2017

Bay Farm Island Road

The answer to feeling housebound on a beautiful Sunday in October, Nyel said, was to take a drive!  So yesterday after lunch, off we went.  No destination in mind – just getting out to enjoy the day.

I remember that when I was a small child “Sunday Drives” were de rigueur.  That was before World War II – before rationing and the moratorium on gasoline and tires made such luxuries impossible.  I think the entire ‘Sunday Drive’ phenomena must have been a holdover from the days when having an “automobile machine” as my grandmother called them, was still an indulgence of the first order.

In Surfside

On one of our Sunday Drives, I remember getting my first puppy – way out in Hayward.  A full 21 miles away from Alameda where we lived.  It was an all-afternoon excursion.  At least it remains so in my memory.  Sometimes we just drove out to Bay Farm Island – which isn’t an island at all, but I didn’t know that then.  It was far distant in the country in my memory – all farms and cows and unpaved roads.  In reality, it was about two-and-a-half miles from where we lived on Versailles Avenue.  I remember going out there to choose a pumpkin for a Jack-o-lantern once; it must have been about this time of year.

Our drive yesterday took us first out to Surfside and up to the Great Day Café.  It was open but we chose not to go in, Nyel’s stamina not being up to snuff.  Then we headed south, drove by the golf course, got sorta lost in the maze of Surfside South/Ocean Park? North, and then decided to drive toward Ilwaco to check out the cranberry harvest.  Our timing was definitely off – no activity on any of the farms we passed except for one, on Cranberry Road, where a lone worker was driving a big beater around a flooded bog.

Cranberry Bog

Home again after an hour or so of driving around – rubber-necking just like tourists.  We didn’t come home with a puppy or even a pumpkin.  And, though I hate to admit it, we passed up a couple of opportunities to buy fresh cranberries.  Somehow, that meant planning – maybe for Thanksgiving Dinner – and we were more in the one-day-at-a-time mode.  Actually, one afternoon at a time.  One lovely Sunday Afternoon Drive!

The Changing Seasons

October 15th, 2017

Homeward Bound

In Oysterville, seasons often morph from one to another without much notice – maybe because rain is commonplace all year long and we just drip from Autumn to Winter and right on through Spring into Summer and Autumn again.  Sometimes, the only obvious difference is the warming or cooling of the temperature.

Yesterday, though, when I saw Tucker hauling the last Laser home from the bay, I knew for sure that summer was over.  Time to return the last of the boats to his boathouse and batten down the hatches until next year.  Summer 2017 is officially over in Oysterville!

On Territory Road

We’ve had a few days of sunny and (relatively) dry weather.  Maybe it’s Oysterville’s version of Indian Summer, even though it hasn’t lasted very long.  Plus, it certainly didn’t come after ‘a killing frost’ which some say are typical of Indian Summers.  Even so, it’s been glorious out.  Tucker says it will all change on Tuesday.  Then, apparently, the rains of Autumn will begin in earnest.

Headed for the Boathouse

Tucker watches those things.  I think it’s genetic.  Even though he didn’t come to Oysterville full-time until he retired, he is more tuned in to the weather and all its nuances than most of the rest of us.  I think it goes back to his great-grandfather Meinert who ran off to sea in his youth.  That was in the days of sailing ships and survival often depended on how you read the weather.

I don’t think our Oysterville survival is especially weather dependent these days.  But the little fourteen-foot lasers – the mainstay of the Oysterville Regatta Fleet – would be vulnerable to a righteous storm, and a big blow could happen anytime now.  So, seeing Tucker haul the last boat up from the Bayshore is a sure sign!  The bright colored pumpkins scattered along Territory Road seem to mark his way home.  Autumn is here!   It’s official!

One Day at a Time

October 14th, 2017

 Photo by Pat Fagerland

It’s sort of like trying to have your cake and eat it too, this living one-day-at-a-time business.  That’s the way we are doing our lives these days, or at least that’s what I tell those who ask.  We try to do whatever becomes the most important – with getting Nyel medical attention at the top of the list – every day of the week.  But, of course, “life goes on” as they say.

So, we are learning to say “if ” a lot.  If we can be there.  If we are in town.  If we are able.  It’s not one bit satisfactory but that’s just the way it is.  (We say that a lot, too.)  And the alternative seems pretty ridiculous.  Stay inside, closed in and shuttered?  Not our style – certainly not mine.

Interestingly, I find myself thinking about the AA serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Photo by Pat Fagerland

It says a lot about how Nyel and I are living these days.  About how we should all live all the time, no doubt. But, it doesn’t talk about how you make plans, how you cancel meetings and appointments, how you can’t always hold up your end of things.  Perhaps that’s where serenity comes in… but that isn’t quite it.  After all, what is a life without plans?  Nothing filled in on the calendar means no life at all as I see it.

Not that we don’t have role models for this one-day-at-a-time-thing among our family and friends.  We do!  And, I think the truth of it is that each person must find the balancing that act works for them.  For sure, we are still experimenting.  So far, so good – at least I think so.  Our loved ones and friends are amazingly supportive and understanding. And resilient!  We have yet to feel abandoned by anyone because we can’t reciprocate properly.  Now, if we can just learn to cut ourselves some slack…

Learning the Rules, Regs, and Ropes

October 13th, 2017

It all seemed perfectly logical to us.  When Dr. God saw the results of Nyel’s bloodwork yesterday, his nurse called and said for Nyel to check into the ER (emergency room) at Ocean Beach Hospital.  He needed to be diuresed (given diuretics or ‘squeezed dry’ in hospital-talk) because his CHF (congestive heart failure) was making too many strides.

We got him there by 3:30 thinking that, like the last time this happened, they would check him into the ER and then he’d be admitted to the hospital, proper, by our local P.A. (physician’s assistant.) First problem:  the ER was full.  Second problem: his numbers were too high to admit him into the hospital.  Say what???

Well, it seems that CHF patients need more specialized care than normal hospitalization.  Or, at least Nyel does.  He would need a hospital with an ICU (intensive care unit).  And then the penny dropped.  The cardiac care unit is the CCU at Emanuel!  Same thing, said the E.R. doc.

In the end, a bed opened up and they kept him in the ER overnight, giving him several doses of an IV (intravenous) diuretic.  The unfortunate part for the patient – the bathroom in the ER is ‘down the hall.’  It made for a long night.  He called ‘to report’ about 5:00 this morning.  “Happy Friday the 13th!” he said.  “Wasn’t that yesterday?” was my response.

We compared notes.  Maybe three hours sleep between us!  I kept waiting for the call to come pick him up.  Little did I know that the ER doctor decided to keep him there at least through one more diuretic dose.  I needn’t have been poised to go get him after all.  And, come to think of it, it’s nearly seven ayem and I still haven’t gotten the word.  Nor do we know if we’ll be going on up to Portland.  New territory.  New rules and regs.  New ropes.  I hope this Friday the 13th is better than whatever yesterday was…

Surpassing Forty Years of Expectations

October 12th, 2017

Lummi Tradition, Planked Salmon

If I’d ever made a bucket list, a cedar planked salmon dinner would have been on it.  Right near the top.  It was one of the first things I wanted to experience when I moved full-time to the Northwest.  For years I had heard about the Lummi Island Salmon Barbecue, that it was open to the public for the price of a ticket, and that it was fabulous.

When I met Nyel in the early eighties, it was one of the ‘adventures’ I proposed.  At that time, the Lummi event occurred at the end of summer – maybe on Labor Day Weekend – which wasn’t ideal since both of us were involved with school – I, teaching; he, attending the U.  However, the timing wasn’t the deal-breaker.  It was that he had already had a Lummi Island experience with his former sweetheart.  He didn’t really talk about it but in true womanly fashion, I figured it out and the subject was dropped.

Just About Ready

But… I always had a hankering.  And then, the other day our friends Erik and Pat proposed bringing all the fixings for dinner to our house.  “Which would you like?” Erik asked.  Salmon or tuna?  I have both, caught this summer and in the freezer.”

Salmon was our response and when Erik said, “Oh good.  I’ll bring the barbecue and the cedar plank…”  Really?  Cedar planked salmon???  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!  As it turned out, when they arrived laden with appetizers and side dishes, the barbecue with briquettes-at-the-ready and the most gorgeous salmon filet ever… Erik had left home without the cedar plank!

Ready to go!!

Nyel’s amazing collection of salvaged ‘stuff’ to the rescue!  Part of a bundle of unused cedar shingles!  “Perfect!” said Erik.  And the cooking began.  The result exceeded all expectations.   We both had seconds and, had we not been cautioned to leave room for dessert, we probably would have gone for thirds!  And, of course, the best part of all was seeing how it was done!  Wow!  We know full-well that the salmon caught by Erik’s own hand and on his own boat can’t quite be replicated by us land-lubbers.  But we have plenty of fresh planks ready and waiting!

Columbus Day and Other Stuff We’ve Ruined

October 11th, 2017

Christopher Columbus Day

Tomorrow is Columbus Day.  In the parts of California where I grew up – Alameda in elementary grades and San Rafael in middle and high school – October 12th was school as usual.  But it was a holiday complete with parades and no school in nearby San Francisco, a fact that we kids always felt was unfair.  We were told it was because of the large Italian population in The City which, of course, made no sense at all to me and my friends.

So, if the October 12th fell on a weekday, we who were school-bound were provided with forty minutes or so of activities centering around the old rhyme “Columbus sailed the ocean blue, In fourteen hundred ninety-two.”  Somehow, the teachers managed, through skits or stories or bulletin boards, to give us a sense of pride in our  country’s beginnings.  I, for one, loved Columbus Day and all the history that went with it.

Indigeneous Peoples Day

Little did I know that the history, or at least the versions of it we were taught, was all wrong.  Now that more than 500 years have passed since he sailed the ocean blue, Columbus is disparaged as much as he is praised. Beginning in 1992 in Berkeley, California, cities started renaming the second Monday in October “Indigenous People’s Day” to shift focus from the conqueror to the conquered.

And, of course, the new awakening of our consciousness did not stop with Columbus. In 1995, James W. Loewen’s book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, reviewed the common misstatements and misrepresentations in the retelling of American history in high school history texts. Not only did Loewen, a sociologist and history professor, point out the often deceptive and inaccurate teachings about America’s history, but he criticized the texts for a tendency to elevate American historical figures to the status of heroes, unintentionally giving students the impression that these figures were superhumans who live in the irretrievable past.

Wonder Woman

Damn!  Who knew?  No more heroes like Columbus or Massasoit or Paul Revere?  Not to mention George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or Sacagawea?  Next, they’ll be telling me that we have to turn those historical personages in for the ‘real’ superheroes like Spiderman or Wonder Woman.  I despair.

I’m still thinking about celebrating Columbus Day tomorrow… I wonder if Jayne is back to making sandwiches at Bailey’s Café.  I think having one of her fabulous “Italians” would be the perfect tribute!

As we speak…

October 10th, 2017

San Francisco, 1906

I don’t know how long it took for my grandparents to learn about the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.  Days, probably.  And it was weeks until my grandmother’s dear friend Leila wrote from Berkeley that she and her mother were all right, despite aftershocks that were still going on.  But that was before the internet and social media, before computers and television and even before telephones and electricity here in Oysterville.

Yesterday about mid-afternoon, I happened to look at Facebook for a moment. Am feeling very grateful for my health and safety – 10 fatalities, 1500 homes/buildings have burned down so far.  For a nano-second my mind went blank.  It was my step-daughter Marta.  But what was she talking about?  The hurricanes in the east?  Why?  But no.  She’s talking about fire…

Even as those thoughts tumbled through my head, I was scrolling down…  Seeing the videos.  Reading the headlines… NORTH BAY WILDFIRES.  NAPA, SANTA ROSA, SONOMA WILDFIRES RAVAGE CALIFORNIA’S WINE COUNTRY.  MARIN LEAPS INTO EMERGENCY MODE AMID FIRE CRISIS.

Santa Rosa, yesterday

I hunted for a fire map.  Were Nan and Jack safe in Healdsburg?  What about Averil and John in Sonoma?  What about Sarah and Bonnie – don’t they live in Santa Rosa?  I grew up in Marin County.   In San Rafael.  These days it’s less than an hour from Santa Rosa.  How many of my old friends still live in the area?  I sent out some emails.  Jack weighed in right away.  They are safe but the smoke is bad…

Marta’s FB site continued to send forth information.  Helpful information for fire victims and rescue-workers.  A LIST OF EVACUATION CENTERS.  Dozens of them already.  And evacuation centers for pets.  Even for horses.  In between she posted thank yous and messages of encouragement to the Fire Fighters.  You, too, Marta!  Thank you!  Thank you for being involved and for jumping in to help.

My mind flashed back to 1971 when Marta was still in high school and she cut classes to help a voluntary bird rescue effort. after the (then) largest oil spill in San Francisco Bay history.  At that time knowledge about caring for birds after such a disaster was limited, yet they saved 4,300 birds. (A group of those volunteers subsequently morphed into the International Bird Rescue in an effort to increase knowledge and research for such endeavors.) It was said to be one of the largest volunteer turnouts since the 1906 earthquake.

Marin County, 1971

And, now, it seems I’ve come full circle.  Blessings to the dear old Bay Area. And thank goodness for your fabulous, enduring community spirit!

Not Even Close!

October 9th, 2017

Thank Goodness

After the ‘usual’ depressing state-of-the-world discussion with friends yesterday afternoon, I re-read Shelley Pollock’s even more depressing column in last week’s Observer:  “Hold on to your hats… I mean your wallets! Painful changes ahead for Washington insurance customers.”

Her commentary was about health insurance for 2018 – in particular, individual health insurance and, even more particularly, individual health insurance for those under the age of 65 in Pacific County.  Her information in one word:  Scary!

I have long been grateful that, in addition to Medicare,  we have coverage – excellent, affordable coverage – under the Washington State Teachers’ Retirement System.  I am even more thankful that, during the many years I was a public-school teacher and was part of the negotiations process, our bargaining teams never lost sight of our retired teachers.  Otherwise…  But I can hardly bear to consider ‘otherwise.’

Thank Goodness Some More!

Shelley’s column was enlightening in other ways, too.  Take the income requirements, tax credits, and out-of-pocket maximums she talks about for two 64-year-olds.  Not that we are, or have been, that young for a long time.  But, I got stuck on the income amount in her example – “$6,000 a month combined.”  Say what?  I had to pause in my reading for a bit.  My mind just stalled out.  All I could think of was “not even close” and “thank goodness for all those years I taught and paid into our future coverage.”

We think of ourselves as ‘middle class’ income-wise.  If that $6,000 figure is what middle class incomes are these days, it would appear that we are not in that category.  So, I went to Google and asked, “What is middle class?’  Apparently, there could be as many as five qualifiers:  income, wealth, consumption, aspiration, and demographics.  I wish I could say, “Bingo!  Two out of three!”  But, according to the information Google had for me…’not even close’ remains the way it is for this household.

Tevye and Golda’s lyrics from “Fiddler on the Roof” come to mind – It doesn’t change a thing, but even so…  Only, it’s not really very ‘nice to know.’  Not even close.