That Other Penny!

July 17th, 2018

Word To Live By

I’ve been noticing that other damned penny lately.  It’s taking longer and longer to drop.  Case in point: arranging with the dreaded Century Link to discontinue our landline.

After much discussion, we decided that we no longer needed a telephone line.  Broad band connection, yes.  Landline, no.  So, we called Century Link and made all the arrangements.  As of our next billing cycle we will no longer have telephone capabilities except by cell phone. That move will save us very little money, as it turns out, but even pennies a day seem helpful when a fixed income is involved.  And, when you are dealing with Century Link, there is definitely a Satisfaction Factor to be considered.

CardioMem Unit

But wait!  This morning, several days after we directed them to unplug us (and while we are still in the midst of notifying friends and loved ones), that dreaded other penny came thunking down.  For some months now, Nyel has been using a device called a “CardioMem” to monitor his heart function and send a report to his cardiologist in Seattle.  It was set up to communicate between Oysterville and Seattle by satellite but… drum roll…  the signal from here is too weak.  So, the device was converted to a… penny thunk… landline!  Nor does his pacemaker communicate by satellite as it’s supposed to.  Yep!   Has to be a phone line.

So, today Nyel will again wrestle with Century Link.  We are pretty sure that redoing what was already undone will cost us money.  More than pennies, no doubt.  Once again, we are confronted with Rural Living in all it’s glory.  For sure we are second class citizens and it’s probably no wonder that those pennies take longer to drop here in Oysterville.

You never know when it comes to chickens…

July 16th, 2018

And now there are two!

Saturday was a big day for the denizens of our chicken coop.  First was the cock-a-doodle-doing of not one but two roosters!  Say what??

For some time, Farmer Nyel has been suspicious of one of our April hatchlings.  “That chicken’s comb is getting bigger that the two other girls’… I think ‘she’ might be a rooster.”

Sure enough.  Saturday morning that black teenaged chicken found his voice. All morning long, he practiced crowing while hiding in the rhododendrons at the west end of the garden.  Every time he crowed, the black and white “rescue rooster” (who stood his ground near the oldest ladies of the flock) answered.  We wondered if there would be a confrontation.

So far… detente in the coop!

But we soon had another problem – a pit bull in the yard!  No collar.  No trailing leash.  No apparent owner.  Chasing chickens everywhere.  The chickens quickly found ways to belly under the fence and were gone.  The roosters went silent – no hint as to where any of the nine might be.  The canny dog hung around in the yard (but mostly out of sight) all day – waiting for those chickens to come home.  Nyel did what he could to scare off the dog and collect the chickens.  No dice.

By dusk, the dog had disappeared and when Nyel went out with scratch and called his flock, all but two came dutifully from wherever they’d been hiding.  Two of the three oldest girls did not make it home.  We were pretty sure what had happened.

But… Sunday morning, there they were, waiting outside their gate for Farmer Nyel.  All chickens accounted for!  All chickens locked inside the coop and run for the rest of the weekend.  No more sign of the pit bull.  If the chickens know where he came from or who he belongs to, they have yet to share their information.  Nor are they telling where they hid out until the danger had passed.  As always… you never know when it comes to chickens.

Goodbye Again To The Greatest Generation

July 15th, 2018

Yesterday, we took time out from houseguests and hosting duties to say a final goodbye to one of my mother’s closest friends here on the Peninsula – Lib Moore.  Even before retiring to Oysterville in the early seventies, my folks had known Lib and Tracy Moore for years.

I’m not sure how their friendship began – I suspect it was initially through Tracy’s business, Strand Insurance Company. By the time I, also, became a full-time resident, the two couples were part of a weekly card-playing group and Mom and Lib both belonged to the venerable Mentor Club.   The Moores lived just a few miles south in a lovely home on the bay and they all visited back and forth as long-time friends do.

Lib was younger than my mother.  In fact, she was a little closer in age to me than to Mom – Mom born in 1911, Lib in 1924, I in 1936.  Yet, their interests were more in tune with one another.  As Lib’s grandson pointed out in his portion of her eulogy, they were part of “the Greatest Generation.”  That’s the term coined by onetime NBC Nightly News anchor and author Tom Brokaw in his book by the same name.  It’s a fitting description.

No precise dates define The Greatest Generation.  The term describes those who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II or helped to win that war through their work on the home front.  They were born between the early 1900s and mid-1920s, according to some and, according to others, were parents of today’s “Baby Boomers.”  I actually think that skips a whole generation — MY generation – who I’ve always understood to be those born between 1929 and 1945.  (The U.S. Population Bureau refers to us as “The Lucky Few” generation.  Hmmm.  Good to know…)

As I sat and listened to the accounts of Lib’s long life – a life centered on home and family and community service – I realized that there are so few of her generation left.  In fact, I think she was the last among my mom’s friends.  The end of an era.  Thank goodness for the Libs of this world.  Thank goodness I knew them.  Thank goodness they helped make some of us “The Lucky Few.”

la Fête nationale

July 14th, 2018

In Paris it is nine hours later than it is here in Oysterville and, like everyplace in France today, people are gearing up for French National Day.  This day is to France what 4th of July is to us. For the French, though, July 14th marks two important historic events – the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the unity of French people on July 14, 1790.

The day is celebrated with military parades, fireworks, concerts and balls.  The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the Champs-Élysées in the morning – while we are still fast asleep. The highlight of the celebration is the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, visible over all of Paris, as I remember.

My (then) husband and I arrived in Paris in 1964 on the evening of July 13th, jet-lagged and naively oblivious of the preparations that had been in the works for weeks.  We arrived at Madame Boyer’s little hotel late that night, happy to be in familiar surroundings in a place we had stayed several times before (I for the better part of a year back in 1958) and fell into bed.

Bastille Day, Rue Montorgueil, by Monet

The next morning it was pouring.  I think that even our northwest rainstorms couldn’t have competed with the deluge.  We nipped from awning to awning and around the corner to “our” sidewalk café on the Place San Michel and, as I remember, spent a good part of the day there, hunkered down out of the weather, attended to by our long-time waiter friend, Marcel.

My clearest memory of that soggy day is that the rain abated just in time for the fireworks display to go off as usual.   We stood along the bank of the Seine near the closed-up bookstalls and oohed and aahed even as the rain started up again.  Then a mad dash back to the café where people were grabbing chairs and holding them upside down over their heads as they rushed homeward (or, in our case, to the warmth and dryness of Madame Boyer’s.)

The next morning, we, like scores of others, were back at the Café early to return our chairs and thank Marcel and the others for their generosity.  It was a gorgeous day – not a cloud in the sky.  We sat for a long time enjoying our coffee and talking of the stormy Bastille Day as well as the historic Storming of the Bastille.

The Elephant on Willapa Bay

July 13th, 2018

            Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”
            They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.
            “Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
            “Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
            “Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
            “It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
            “It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
            “It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
            They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”
            “Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
 From the Equus website:


Yesterday my cousin David came visiting.  We talked about family – about our grandfathers (who were brothers) and about our great-grandfather who settled here before there was Oysterville.  We talked about the neighbors who were here during our childhood and about the people and events who shaped our perceptions of this little village.  We talked about changing times, and transitions and civility.

What we didn’t talk about: elephants.

In the Thick of It!

July 12th, 2018

Rose City Mixed Quartet

It was already getting dark as we left the High School the other night after the Candidates’ Forum.  Nine o’clock at night!  Summer on the wane already?  Hard to believe.  Wasn’t it just a day or two ago that it was still light until ten or ten thirty?  Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I know we weren’t bedding down the chickens until after ten.

And, yet, as I look at all our plans for the days and weeks ahead, we are right in the thick of summer.  Visitors to greet!  Picnics to host!  Events to attend!  Garden beds and eager lawns calling for attention!  Thank goodness for whatever extra sunshine we have to enervate us!

At The Rodeo  With The RCMQ, 2016

Tomorrow the Rose City Mixed Quartet arrives.  They will be doing a House Concert here on Saturday night and will be the “Music” part of Sunday’s Music Vesper service from 3:00 to 4:00 on Sunday. We love having them here and I feel compelled to say that they set the bar very high, indeed, in the house guest department.  They have been known to clean our house – right down to moving couches and piano to vacuum behind – before returning to Portland!  OMG!  And a few days ago, we received notice from them that they were “planning on bringing some food to Oysterville” and proceeded to outline their intentions for most of the weekend meals!  OMG!

RCMQ at Vespers, 2009

For the second week in a row, we feel like Grandma and Grandpa at the Beach – although this weekend there are no “kids” involved!   Just grown-up kids somewhere in the age ballpark of my own children.  (Hey, Charlie and Marta – are you paying attention?  Just sayin’…)  We are SO looking forward to catching up, listening to great music, and visiting with these long-time friends!

And in the weeks to come – Gordon’s Annual Memorial Picnic, the Oysterville Regatta, the Rodeo and Finn Fest, Nyel’s birthday.  And that barely gets us into August!  Let’s hear it for summer at the beach!!!  Especially in Oysterville!

Democracy Alive and Well at the Beach!

July 11th, 2018

It was standing room only last night at in the high school cafeteria where Pacific County residents gathered to hear candidates tell about themselves, their views, and their reasons for running for office in the upcoming mid-term election.  The speakers were candid, civil, and, for the most part, well-prepared.  It was an impressive display of democracy in action.

In my opinion, the shining star was Pam Nogueira Maneman who is running for Pacific County Prosecutor.  If anyone went to that meeting last night with thoughts like “but she lacks the experience…” I’m quite sure that they left thinking differently.  She sat between two candidates with whom she has worked in the past and talked forthrightly about the problems in the Prosecutor’s Office – problems that she blamed directly on the policies and (lack of) procedures that have their origin right there in the workplace of her opponents.  The problems she described adversely affect how the law is administered in our county and how we, as taxpayers and residents, are impacted on a daily basis.  And lest you think otherwise, she expressed clear solutions to those problems – solutions that work in other counties across the nation and that work in neighboring counties where she has worked.

I listened intently during the presentations by sheriff candidates, especially to the questions about ICE.  Robin Souvenir got two thumbs up from me for pointing out that being an undocumented immigrant is NOT a criminal offense in our country.  Sean Eastham, on the other hand talked about being available in case there happened to be a shooting…  He lost me there.  I am not aware that there has been gun violence related to ICE arrests here in Pacific County.  I did not like the inference.

Some time ago, I made the decision not to vote for a single incumbent on a national level.  No matter how hard certain of our elected officials have “tried” to accomplish things in the other Washington, they have remained ineffective.  Impotent and ineffective for years.  Time to clean the closet and get new minds and hearts to work on our behalf, I say.  Last night, I found myself thinking similarly when it came to our county elections.  And, not just the incumbent office-holders, themselves, but anyone who has worked under them.  Last night’s forum simply underscored my resolve as far as the Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s offices are concerned.

For the other positions – PUD Commissioner and County Commissioner, there are no incumbents running.  While the candidates’ presentations last night shed a bit of light on their preparedness, I feel I must do a little more homework before I am prepared to vote.  Meanwhile, a huge shout-out to the AAUW for making last night possible.  Thanks to them, I know I am well on my way to becoming an informed voter this time around.

Early Morning Outing

July 10th, 2018

Leadbetter Elk Herd in Oysterville Meadow, 2017

There were eight of them traveling almost single file.  Elk trotting north along the tideline in front of the house about six o’clock this morning.  Elk on the move!

It was all I could do not to pick up the phone to call our neighbor Carol but, so far, I don’t have a direct line to the Great Beyond.  For several years before she died, when the Leadbetter Elk Herd was traveling along the bay, we would call one another and that’s what we’d say, “Elk on the move!”  There was just enough distance between our houses for notice to be given and the sighting made.  Those early morning phone calls are among the many things I miss about Carol.

Carol Nordquisr, 2014

The first two in this morning’s lineup were not quite in single file order.  One was very small – about up to the other’s haunches.  Mother and child, I assume.  I wondered if it was the elk calf and mom that Dobby told me about several months ago.  Mother elk chose a spot in front of Dobby and Lila’s house as the perfect place to give birth.  Several bull elks were hanging around nearby… to claim parentage?  Hard to tell with elk.

I don’t know if they’ve been staying around Dobby’s since then or not.  In my imagination, they have been in the area, perhaps along with the two bulls, all this time, and a delegation was sent from the main herd at Leadbetter Point to escort them home. Perhaps Dobby has some details to fill in that will illuminate the truth of it a little better.

I wish, in a way, I’d been close enough to get a good picture.  On the other hand, those elk are huge.  I don’t really want them too close to town or to my backyard.  Dobbie said they kept a respectful distance from his house and garden, but even so…

Elk on the move, Carol!  Hope you saw them.

The Proof is in the Pudding

July 9th, 2018

Willie Bays

Besides the enjoyment of having ‘honorary grandchildren’ visit every summer, their being here is a chance for me to stay in touch (at least a little bit) with the current world of parenting.  I’ve been out of the elementary classroom for sixteen years now and so my knowledge of kids and parents is more-or-less from afar.  Having the Bays family here is a rare opportunity, albeit of limited duration, to see how things have changed – both since I was teaching and the far greater ‘since’ when Marta and Charlie were still under my roof.

Owen Bays

I think that I raised my own children in much the same manner as I was brought up.  I look back on my ‘parenting’ (a word I don’t remember as part of the lexicon) as a rather passive position.  Kids simply grew up.  The adults of the household were responsible for feeding, clothing, and looking out for matters of health and safety.  The ‘terrible twos’ and ‘those teenaged years’ were times to pay close attention and there was a lot of

Marta LaRue

sympathetic sighing on the part of other parents.  Otherwise… not many worries.

We didn’t really worry about their education; that was the teacher’s job.  If we didn’t think the teacher was quite up to snuff, we might try to supplement a bit at home or (rarely) arrange for a parent/teacher/kid conference.  Otherwise, there was a separation between home and school – even though both the adults in our home were teachers.

Nor did we concern ourselves much about socialization.  That just “happened.”  In our case, we purposely moved into a neighborhood that had a diverse population and then we let the natural course of playing with “the kids next door” take care of itself.  Neither Marta nor Charlie were particularly interested in joining things.  Charlie tried cub scouts and found it too boring for words.  Marta joined a dancing class but found that she would rather be with her school or neighborhood friends.

Charlie Howell

And, our answer to “media concerns” was that we didn’t get a television until about the time that teachers began requiring kids to watch certain shows for homework.  I think that was when Charlie was in fourth or fifth grade and, by then, both he and Marta had plenty of other interests besides being glued to the tube.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a life-stunting decision on our part.  After all, Charlie’s career was as a writer for Saturday Morning television cartoons – an award-winning career at that.  And Marta was a musician and performer – a doer rather than a watcher.

Every visit with the Bays brothers and their folks is an eye-opener.  I really wish that I had been as involved and as aware as a parent.  On the other hand… Marta and Charlie turned out just great.  And, as they say, the proof is in the pudding!

“Fun with Flags”

July 8th, 2018

American Jack Flag

If you are familiar with “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom, you probably remember the episodes in which Sheldon and girlfriend Amy were creating a video series called “Fun with Flags.”  It was actually somewhat informative in a zany kind of way and I couldn’t help thinking of those programs when Tucker did his show-and-tell at our Friday night gathering.

Tucker is a collector.   An eclectic collector, I should say.  For some time (several years, probably), he has been bringing something-or-other to tell us about on Friday nights.  Usually he tells a little about how he acquired the particular item and then something about the item, itself.  We could almost call it our “Friday Night Educational Moment.”  Last Friday he brought a jack flag.

Grand Old Union Flag

Some of us knew what a jack flag is – it’s the part of the American flag with the stars.  Not all of us knew what it was used for except that maybe it had nautical implications and that the British flag is called the “union jack”.  Tucker said that he didn’t know all the ins and outs, but he did explain that the jack of the U.S.A. is a maritime flag, flown on the jackstaff on the bow of American vessels that are moored or anchored; the ensign (the entire national flag) is flown on the stern (rear) of the ship.  Once under way,  however, the ensign is flown from the main mast; its purpose is on the vessel is to indicate citizenry.

I did a little more digging and found that, according to legend, it was the “grand Old Union Flag” that was first raised at Cambridge where George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  Althought not  officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress, it was flown for some time during the Revolutionary War.  According to tradition, it was Betsy Ross, under the direction of Washington, who made our first sanctioned flag and it was she who suggested the five-point star because it was easier to make.  The Smithsonian Institution points out that there is no hard evidence that can connect Betsy Ross to the creation of the first flag.

The “Betsy Ross Flag”

I’m surprised that Sheldon and Amy of “The Big Bang Theory” didn’t talk about more of our American flags.  There have been many of them – especially during the early days of our country.  Too bad they couldn’t have been here Friday night.  I’m sure they’d have been inspired to renew their “Fun with Flags” episodes!