Yellow Stripes and Rumble Strips

September 20th, 2018

Pass With Care

Yay!!  We drove back from Seattle last evening, through South Bend and around the bay, with ‘nary a “Pass with Care” nor a “Do Not Pass” sign either coming or going.  Never mind that we were slowed down a bit on our way in early morning – stuck behind the striping machine.  We were clapping and cheering!  And, Frank, you were so right.  We had no idea that it would all happen so quickly!  (Is this still Pacific County???  You know… the one way off in the southwest corner of the State???)

For readers who are mystified by all the above –  ten days or so ago, I wrote a rather snarky blog about the proliferation of Pass and Don’t Pass signs along the highway between the 101 turn-off and South Bend.  And, I lamented the apparent try at over-riding what I consider the tried-and-true yellow striping that traditionally indicates those important directions.  Our neighbor and County Commissioner Frank Wolfe wrote immediately:

Do Not Pass

The signs are “temporary” and have been erected as part of the “rumble strip project” on 101. The process of grinding the “gashes” in the center of the road (so your tires will sound like they are coming off your car and your steering wheel will jerk in your hands when you start to cross the center-line) obliterates the (recently re-applied) paint lines. So the signs have to be put in place until such time as the paint lines are re-applied. As Nyel pointed out, we would normally take our “pass/no-pass” cue from the paint lines.

I was glad to learn this but, I have to say, I wasn’t hopeful that it would happen anytime soon.  I apologize for my disbelieving attitude.  The stripes are in place and the signs are gone!  Yay!  And I love the rumble strips.  Somehow, in conjunction with those bright yellow stripes, they make me think there’s a tiger in the middle of the road – constantly on guard against careless and inattentive drivers.

Hear her story: Nancy Bell Anderson

September 19th, 2018

Nancy Bell Anderson

On the chance that you haven’t had time to read yesterday’s Observer, I am copying the article I wrote about the Oysterville Schoolhouse Lectures.  They start tomorrow, September 20th.  Hope to see you there!

Nancy Bell Anderson, co-founder with her daughter of the Knappton Cove Heritage Center, will begin the Fall 2018 Lecture Series at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 20 at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  Her topic: “The Columbia River’s Ellis Island.”

Since 1980 when the U.S. Public Health Service Quarantine Station was paced on the National Register of Historic Places, Nancy and a cadre of volunteers have worked tirelessly to preserve and interpret this important Pacific Northwest site.  She will talk about the site from the time it was put up for auction in 1950, its rescue and its role in interpreting the immigration story of the lower Columbia region.

Four additional schoolhouse lectures are scheduled for alternative Thursdays:
October 4, Dr. Susan Raymond, “Hieroglyphs and Graffiti”
October 18, Andrea Patten, “Hear My Poems – My Father’s Code”
November 1, Aaron Webster, “Flint Knapping”
November 15, Dr. Madeline Kalbach, “Birds, Making Their Voices Heard”

Knappton Cove Heritage Center

This marks the tenth season of the Schoolhouse Lectures.  Organized by Diane Buttrell and sponsored by the Oysterville Community Club, the talks are open to the public and are followed by a question and answer period.

I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!

September 18th, 2018

When it comes to trains, timing is everything.  So, when the announcement came this morning from the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association concerning their Open House on Sunday, I immediately went into my scheduling mode. On the face of it, it looks like we’d need to be in two places at once.  Again!  And as far as I know, Scotty has not yet perfected the beaming operation from Oysterville to Astoria and back.

We definitely must be in Oysterville by three to welcome musicians to a long-planned and eagerly-awaited House Concert here.  On the other hand, our friend Mark Clemmens has been working on the restoration of the 1925 Baldwin Engine #21 for almost as long as we’ve known him.  I think he joined the ARPA about the time he and Sandra moved here and he’s been trekking to the Locomotive Restoration Shop in Astoria at least once a week ever since.

When asked, Mark is always happy to answer the usual question, “How’s it going?”  His responses are mostly way too technical for me – engineer talk to the max.  The ARPA’s website at includes a photo journal and annotations back to 2001 for interested railroad buffs and for those (like me) who might be impressed by the sheer persistence and dedication of the folks working on the project.

Having heard bits and pieces of their progress over the years, I have a great desire to go to the Open House.  I’m thinking that if we are totally organized on Sunday, we might be able to leave home early enough to spend an hour or so at the Restoration Shop and get back in plenty of time…  I actually have my great-grandfather’s railroad watch to assist with our timing.  But that’s another story.

A Little Wierd… But Nice To Know… Maybe!

September 17th, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Yesterday morning when I checked my FaceBook page, there was an information box at the top which said that my cousin Mona and my friend and former student Chelsea “had marked themselves safe during Hurricane Florence Across the Eastern United States.”  While it was very welcome news, it seemed a little Big Brother-ish to me.

My immediate reaction was “How do they know?”  The ‘they’ of that thought process was a faceless entity, definitely a Big Brother look-alike, so to speak.  But, on reflection. I realized that somehow Mona and Chelsea had been given an opportunity by the ‘they’ of FaceBook to weigh in so that their friends could be apprised of their status.

Readying Suppies at Fort Bragg, NC

I am grateful.  But, being the glass half-empty personality that I am, I immediately wondered about other friends and loved ones in the Carolinas that I haven’t heard about – those without FB but, more crucially, those with FB.  Did they opt not to weigh in?  Or are they among 670,000 people without power?  And, if that’s the case, what other problems are they facing?

All-in-all, I’m feeling like a little knowledge is not entirely satisfactory.  I’m trying to take the attitude that “no news is good news” and I actually wish our media would subscribe to that philosophy, as well. The constant hype, the worst-case scenarios, and the repetitive visuals of the most dire situations wore me down in the first day or so of the impending disaster.  And now FB gets into the act!  I’m feeling a bit gobsmacked in Oysterville and am turning off, tuning out, and reverting to the age-old policy of hope for the best!

Marta and Charlie and Charlie’s Tchotchkes

September 16th, 2018

Charlie and Marta, September 2018

For the four decades (1940s-1970s) that I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California and Southern California were worlds apart.  Different climates, different lifestyles, and a “fur piece” to travel.  So, we seldom did, even though we had friends and relatives throughout SoCal as people began to call it.

When son Charlie made Cal Arts his choice for college and made animation script writing his choice of careers, we both knew that it was a sort of parting of the ways.  He has lived in the LA area ever since – more than forty years now.  I, perhaps, compounded things by moving up to the Northwest — though we didn’t visit back and forth much even before that.  Four hundred miles was four hundred miles, after all.

Charlie’s Tchotchkes

Marta, my daughter-but-not-by-birth, on the other hand, has remained in the Bay Area – in Oakland, Berkeley, and mostly Marin.  Our non-California friends sometimes remark, “How nice.  Do they see a lot of each other?”  Those in the know don’t need to ask. They understand that Charlie and Marta see each other seldom – mostly when both of them manage to get up here to Oysterville for Christmas.

So, last week when Marta was visiting a “long lost” friend in LA, they took the time to have lunch with Charlie.  Marta hadn’t been at Charlie’s house for years (maybe twenty) and she called later to report.  “I’d forgotten how big it is!” she said.  “And I’d forgotten that he keeps his Emmys in that hidden-away cabinet with all his other tchotchkes!”  And we both shook our heads and laughed.  Not that I could see her.  We weren’t skyping.  But I knew.

Charlie’s Tchotchkes Some More

She sent me a couple of pictures.  When did Charlie turn into his Uncle Jim?  How is it that Marta still looks like she did a gazillion years back?  And why am I thrilled that they are still as goofy as they were when they were little kids?  I do wish there weren’t so many states between us.  But… I console myself that Christmas is coming, with or without the tchotchkes.

Time for Another Tokeland Celebration

September 15th, 2018

Tokeland Hotel, 2012

We are headed for the lunch and a rendezvous with friends at the Tokeland Hotel.  In the “olden days” – say five or six years ago — going to Tokeland and meeting with these same friends was a yearly occurrence.  But, in those halcyon days of the early twenty-first century, we were all younger and more able and our annual Tokeland experience involved a picnic supper and an overnight at the hotel.

We made the trek on or close to Nyel’s birthday each early August.  For us, it got so we never had another birthday plan which has made it a little difficult these past few years when Tokeland was not on our radar.  This year, being the big seven five for Nyel, we’ve solved the birthday dilemma by celebrating in some way every single month starting a few months beforehand and to continue until Birthday Seven Six.

Evening at the Tokeland Hotel, 2009

As it has worked out, this month we can rendezvous once again at the Tokeland Hotel – but only for lunch.  Fortunately, the hotel is under new ownership and they are serving lunch on the weekends which had been an off-again on-again off-again proposition in years past.  And further fortnately, the food is reported to be excellent.  Yay!

There has been one serious change, though, in our (or probably just my) thinking about going to Tokeland.  Since time immemorial (well, at least since soon after Oysterville was founded in 1854) residents here travelled to Tokeland to party.  In the early days, they went by boat to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and relatives over there.  In fact, there was probably more visiting back and forth before the roads went in than there is now — a faster trip then, I daresay.  All that notwithstanding, I’ve long associated Tokeland with parties-of-the-eating variety.

Tokeland Picnic, 2009

Then, in 2012 when the present cannabis laws went into effect in our state, I began to wonder when partying in Tokeland might take on a different tone.  We all waited for someone to do the obvious – to make an application to open a recreational marijuana shop.  “Toke Land”?  It certainly seemed like a no-brainer.  But… it has never happened.  And yet… the expectation that it will, has somewhat altered my take on Tokeland.  Whether it would be for the good or the bad, I don’t know.  It just seems like such an opportunity wasted.

Sending Prayers and Crossing Fingers

September 14th, 2018

Washington’s Cranberry Coast

Please note that due to inclement weather, order processing will be delayed.
Once Hurricane Florence has passed, we will begin processing orders in the order in which they were received.

This announcement has been the banner headline on the Arcadia Publishing website for several days now.  Their offices are located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina which, as far as I can tell. Is on the coast directly in the Path of Hurricane Florence.

Yesterday, I had occasion to check on the ETA of posters coming from Arcadia – posters regarding the launch of my new book, Washington’s Cranberry Coast.  Responses from both my editor and the marketing specialist were reassuring but said, “our offices are currently closed due to Hurricane Florence, but we hope to be back open by Monday!”

From Mount Pleasant FaceBook Page

Concurrently, yesterday’s headline in Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper announced: “Charleston’s barrier island residents say ‘meh’ to Hurricane Florence evacuation order.”  The article went on to quote a Mount Pleasant resident who said, “We’re staying…Everyone I know is staying.”

It’s hard to know what to believe.  I’m quite sure that we are all being inundated with mega-doses of media hype even as we see the real-time photographs of the hurricane from within(!) as well as from every other possible vantage point.  It is confusing and the tendency is to blow it all off (so to speak) but of course, we can’t.  We have friends and relatives throughout North and South Carolina who, though well inland, will surely be affected by the storm.

From Mount Pleasant FaceBook Page

So, why is Arcadia saying it’ll be business as usual on Monday?  Wishful thinking?  Or are they confident that their offices will remain unscathed and that they can send out books and posters and whatever else their authors and customers are counting on?  Hard to tell.

We are sending our prayers, keeping our fingers crossed, and (probably selfishly) hoping for the earliest possible return to normalcy on the East Coast.  My big book signings – four of them! – are scheduled for Saturday, October 13th and Sunday, October 14th in conjunction with the Cranberrian Fair.  We have a month to get the word out and maybe, just maybe, the books are already boxed up and on their way!  Meanwhile, our thoughts are with everyone in Hurricane Florence’s path.

A Peek at Peak Production

September 13th, 2018

Ready for Collection

Six eggs yesterday!  That’s 100% efficiency from the six ladies of the coop.  “Why?” we ask them.  “It’s September,” we tell them.  “The days are getting shorter, not longer,” we point out.  “During the Spring and Summer when you older girls should have been laying, you were on strike,” we remind them.  “What’s going on?”

Chickens – even grown up lady chickens – never answer.  They keep quiet about their egg-laying habits.  But they do seem to smile when we ask.  And they definitely brag after each production success.  Such a clucking and squawking from the coop! I’m sure they are feeling quite smug.

Even on the Coop Floor

But it’s the two roosters who are crowing to beat their record.  Not that they have anything to do with the egg count.  People often ask about that, mistaking the presence of roosters with the arrival of eggs.  No correlation, of course.  Just like with all of us egg-producers, hens can do that part of the job all by themselves.  They just can’t hatch chicks without those roosters around to fertilize the eggs.

And, of course Mrs. Hen has to feel family-minded before she will decide to “go broody” and forego the pleasures of coop run and garden for three weeks.  She has to be of a mind to sit around on her nest day and night, leaving only once in a while to have a bite of food or a sip of water.  It’s a pretty big commitment and not every good layer is a good sitter.

Part of that lack of nesting instinct can be laid (ahem) right at chicken breeders’ doorsteps.  In an effort to get maximum production from hens, farmers have eschewed the good brooders and have developed many breeds that show little inclination toward parenthood. Through their efforts, Silkies, Cochins, Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Sussex are the five broodiest domestic breeds for home hatching purposes.  We don’t have any of those.

Six for Six

Among the ten breeds known to be the best of the layers, though, we do have one:  a Rhode Island Red.  The others – just your garden variety girls without any claim to fame.  So… maybe yesterday was a fluke.  We definitely aren’t complaining —  just hoping that this is more than a tantalizing peek at the production possibilities.  We’ll see.

And, on the other side of the questions…

September 12th, 2018

I’ve been interviewing people these last few weeks for my Observer series “Our Greats and Grands.”  I don’t think I’m very good at the job though Lord knows I’ve done scores, maybe hundreds, of interviews in my time.  I thoroughly enjoy the whole process – getting to know my subject(s), finding out what’s important to them, hearing about their area(s) of expertise.  And, I love the writing part – trying to capture a little of the emotional content behind the facts.  Telling someone’s story from their point of view.  Recording the history for posterity.

But… as I say, I’m not especially good at it.  I think the fault lies in my limited listening skills.  Or maybe, nowadays, my limited remembering skills.  I find that I get involved in the conversation and that’s not always conducive to documenting the facts.  My friend Cate uses a teeny tiny tape recorder in addition to taking notes – a good idea but way too time consuming to go back and, essentially, “reconduct” the interview in order to double-check facts.  So, I begin every interview by forewarning my subjects that I’ll be getting in touch with them – not only for fact-checking, but also for the additional questions that are sure to pop up as I begin writing.

This morning, though, the shoe was on the other foot.  I was the one being interviewed.  A reporter from Cannon Beach was doing the questioning.  Fortunately, she had one of those lovely little tape recorders.    Even more fortunately, she brought a friend with her who turned out to be my cousin.  Small world!! I’m pretty sure I got my facts straight but I’m also sure I didn’t stay on track very well.  It was way too much fun!

Oh!  And the article?  You’ll have to wait until the next issue of Our Coast which comes out next Spring.  Until then… I think I’ll look into a little tape recorder.  It makes the interviewing process seem so easy!

And another tradition bites the dust…

September 11th, 2018

1921 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

The Miss America Pageant says they are “evolving.”  Into what isn’t clear.  In fact, according to spokesperson Gretchen Carlson, herself a Pageant winner in 1989, “We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition.”

Apparently, “pageant” has become a euphemism for “beauty contest” and that’s not okay anymore. In keeping with the current cultural trends (read: the #MeToo movement) the bathing suit portion of the contest has been eliminated and the evening gown portion has been “revamped to give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives.”  Effective next year.

Okay. Whatever.  From the images I’ve seen about this year’s “competition,” the contestants are still young, still beautiful, and still not representative of any cross section of youthful American womanhood that I know of.  Nor does the website convince me that the contest is other than a beauty contest.

1955 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

Claims by the organization such as “Miss America competitors have been a fearless advocate for causes such as civil rights and HIV/AIDs awareness” and “The Miss America Competition has served as a platform to amplify women’s voices during times in our country’s history when they have been needed most” just don’t resonate with me.  When I hear “Miss America” those causes are not what I think of and, frankly, I don’t want to.

The bottom line is, why can’t girls simply aspire to be beautiful anymore?  Why is it okay to have a competition based on intellectual qualities but not on an ideal of physical beauty?  I really don’t get it.  Apparently, the decision has to do with the recent revelation of “derogatory and chauvinistic messages” by a former CEO or with last year’s controversial emails among organization leadership talking about the contestants in lewd and vulgar ways.  Does the banning bathing suit decision really solve those problems?

2018 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

And that “intellectual” side of things is lame, at best.  Last year, contestants were asked about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the president’s reaction to white racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Paris climate agreement, Confederate statues, and whether football should be banned because of concussions.  They were given 20 seconds to answer.  Since when has intellectual been synonymous with political?

Why, oh why, do the simple pleasures of life – like showing off in a bathing suit – eventually get ruined by the do-gooders of the world?  (And don’t get me started on the contest entrance ‘rules’ which have considered divorced and abortion as sins of the first order.)  It seems to me there are way too many people in this world who are willing to throw that first stone.  Yikes!