Samsung with Dell in Retrograde?

April 26th, 2017

“What’s your sign?” was the pick-up line of choice in California bars in the late sixties and seventies.  Or so I am told.  By the summer of 1967 (‘The Summer of Love”) I was married with children and teaching in Hayward in the East Bay.  Hanging out in bars was not a part of my lifestyle.  Not that it ever had been.

If I had any hangout time at all, it might be during a ten-minute recess break in the Teacher’s Room – where everybody knew your name.  And, in those days, they knew your sign as well.  So, if your day was going badly, someone would be sure to reassure you with words like, “Mars is in retrograde; things will be better tomorrow.”

I wasn’t a horoscope junky.  I’d ‘had my chart done’ – mostly because it was a freebie by a friend who was just starting up a horoscope business – in Berkeley, of course.  I knew that I was a Pisces with Aquarius ascending (or something like that) but not much else.  I admired (sort of) those who followed and believed, but I couldn’t suspend my own disbelief far enough to join in.  Nevertheless, when things are going particularly badly, even all these years later, I’m a bit tempted to look at my horoscope.

1969 – Sydney and Another Notable

What makes me stop short is that I don’t remember (if I ever knew) what all that terminology means and, for me, there has to be some sort of reasonable explanation for whatever the predictions are.  Reasonable and understandable.  Otherwise, I might as well buy a bag of Chinese fortune cookies and brew myself a cup of tea.

So, no one could have been more amazed than I this morning when my computer was misbehaving and “What’s your sign?” came downloading from my brain and spewing out of my mouth!  As might be expected, my computer screen gave no answer at all.  But, thought I. it does stand to reason that the planets might have some influence over an object with a direct line to cyberspace.  Such as my recalcitrant computer.  Some pesky app in retrograde would be as understandable to me as anything else.  And certainly preferable to the old standby, ‘operator error.’

A Frazzle Dazzle One Step!

April 25th, 2017

Dale at 16, Oysterville, 1927

The use of colorful language runs in our family.  Not the colorful sort that seems to rage rampant in print and behind those bleeps on television.  I mean expressive without being offensive.  My grandfather Espy, for instance was pretty famous for never swearing but for getting his point across, nevertheless.

“Dad burn it!” I’d hear him say.  Or maybe “Dad gum it!”  and I knew he was more than a little frustrated about something.  Sometimes it was “Son of a sea cook!” or “Consarn it!” or perhaps “Ding Bust it!”  But the ultimate in epithets from Papa was “Devil!” and, lest you think those are all pretty tame, you had to be there.  As those of us who knew him well remember, those words came bursting from his mouth like thunderbolts!  Not often, but certainly memorable.

Mona at 7 or 8 — Oysterville, 1911

My mother’s colorful speech was a bit different from her father’s.  She wasn’t substituting the acceptable for the unacceptable.  Far from it.  She was simply being her usual, inimitable self.  “She just wore me to a frazzle-dazzle one step” she often said after being cornered by a particularly irksome neighbor.  Or, she was known to refer to women of questionable moral character as “woo woo girls” and when I’d asked one too many ‘why’ questions, “Why’s a hen” was the only answer she’d give me.  Or when she was wanting me to make up my own mind:  “You’re the doctor; I’m only the nurse.”

Charlie at Three – Claremont Day Nursery, 1959

Too, there were many stories about my Aunt Mona’s childhood expressions – words that became part of the family lexicon.  “I piddly stimbled!” was what we all said after almost falling down.  It must have been young Mona’s way of saying, “I practically stumbled.”  The best Mona-ism, though, is what I say to this day when I’m refusing seconds after a big dinner: “My shimmy shirt and pants are full” – Mona’s little girl understanding of the colloquialism, ‘my sufficiency is sophonsified.’

My son, Charlie, was also inventive word-wise.  He worried that the water in the bathtub might overfloat, and once commented on his well-endowed grandmother as being volumptuous.  My all-time favorite, though, was his three-year-old answer to “What do you call it when two people sing the same song at the same time?”  “A coincidence,” came his prompt reply!  Spot on, say I!

Annual, Perennial, Eternal

April 24th, 2017

A Hat for All Seasons

The calendar says one thing; my bones say another.  It’s long past time to get the garden started but…  it’s too cold, too wet, too damned unpleasant outside.  I’m having the usual argument with myself: am I using the weather as a reason or an excuse?

And besides that, I’m having a little bit of growing envy.  Carol and Tucker put up a small greenhouse in their backyard and already they have all sorts of ‘starts’ – tomatoes and I can’t remember what else.  To be honest, my hearing turned off without my permission when Carol was describing the growing progress; I went into some sort of hothouse reverie that had more to do with personal warmth than plant growth.

I’ve taken to asking other people that “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” question: how does your garden grow?  Nahcotta neighbor Ann Gaddy, who I consider the Queen of Nasturtiums, told me (with a bit of a shudder) that she hadn’t been outside yet.  “Too cold.  Too wet.”    We commiserated and agreed.

Satellite Image of Rain Plume – from Cliff Mass Blog

But when?  Dr. Clifford Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington wrote in his blog yesterday about the “Pacific Mega Moisture Plume” approaching our coast.  “It is the JAWS of Pacific moisture plumes,” he said.  “…  a continuous band of clouds, 1000 miles wide, stretching from the western Pacific to just off our coast. Scary.”

Scary, indeed.  Even scarier is the new administration’s head-in-the-sand (make that mud) insistence that there isn’t a climate change problem.  But then, when you are a billionaire and don’t consider growing your own vegetables or even your own flowers, what the weather does is probably not a much of a problem garden-wise.  How many gardeners does it take to tend the White House rose garden, anyway, you might ask.  Right up there with how many Federal Judges to stop an immigration ban, perhaps.

Gardening in the Rain

Unfortunately, our weather can’t be adjudicated.  Just like my garden won’t get started on its own.  Time to pull on my boots and don slicker and sou’wester and get to work.  Oh. And my winter long-johns, too.

Some Circles Have Sharp Corners

April 23rd, 2017

Azmi Shawa

As I looked around the room yesterday during Azmi Shawa’s ‘Celebration of Life,’ I involuntarily took note of all the familiar faces in the crowd.  People we’ve known for years and years.  People ‘of an age’ – as was Azmi.  I couldn’t help but wonder which of us would be attending similar celebrations for the next in line.

And I thought about circles.   Congruent and concentric and intersecting circles like I learned about in Plain Geometry with Mr. Patterson in 1950 at San Rafael High School.  Circles of friendship and circles of influence, circles of sharing – the circle of life.  We encircled one another with our arms – hugs of caring and hugs of shared memories.

Willie Marsh

Not many hours afterward, Willie Marsh died.  This time, though, my thoughts cut right to the chase: “Too young!  Too many lives left to touch!  Too soon!”  Here was a circle that had an unbearably sharp corner.  Right now, it seems as though it’s a corner that can never be turned.  Perhaps the community’s many hugs will help — hugs for Berta and Marian and for all of Willie’s big family and many friends.

You just can’t get there from here…

April 22nd, 2017

Headed north for the bridge???

Some of the local wags probably still direct tourists to Leadbetter Point when asked about the bridge over to North Cove and Tokeland.  I must say, it is tempting advice to give.  I wish I had a nickel for all the drivers who have stopped me as I walk toward the post office to ask if this is the right road for the bridge.  Often, they have a map in hand and, usually, they argue with you when you tell them there is no bridge.  It’s hard to be polite when you know they are thinking “Dumb Yokel!” and you are thinking… well, never mind what you are thinking.

I can empathize just a tad with those insistent visitors — but in a twenty-first century way – when I get that eternal runaround by email or telephone.  It’s another one of those ‘you can’t get there from here’ deals.  It’s the game I’ve been playing the last few weeks with my publisher whose March 31st royalty check has not yet shown up. (Perhaps I should mention here that said royalty payment will cover four books with this publisher for all sales from July 20th to December 20th of last year.)

Robo Responder

After waiting a suitable time (two weeks) for my payment to show up, I emailed a polite query that c got this response:   Due to the high volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis regarding Royalties, please allow 5 business days for a response to your email sent to the Royalties Department.  So, I waited some more.  After eight business days without a peep, I called the phone number that was included in the email.

“Dial one if your inquiry concerns sales; Dial two if your inquiry concerns submissions; dial three if…”  I think my magic number might have been four.  And, guess what!  A robo-voice said to leave my call-back number but “Due to the high volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis regarding Royalties, please allow 5 business days for a response…”           

Sydney’s Books with Arcadia Publishing/History Press

On Business Day Nine after my first email inquiry I received a snippy email response saying they had notified me on March 31st (no, they hadn’t) and on April 17th my royalty payment (which I think will come to about $272) had been directly deposited to my bank account.  So, yesterday, April 21st, I stopped at the bank and inquired.  “Sorry, Sydney.  Nothing has come in.”

I can’t decide whether to continue looking for the bridge on this road or just to write it off as a bad trip all the way around…

“Public Enemy Number One”

April 21st, 2017

Connecting With The Outside World by Robert M. Danielson

The package felt like it might contain a book – a heavy book – and had been mailed to me Par Avion from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  It was from Robert Danielson – a name that sounds familiar, though I don’t think I know him.

Within the carefully taped bubble-wrapping was a 125+ page book, chock-a-block full of information quoted from historic documents, maps, charts, and copies of stunning old photographs.  The title:  CONNECTING WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD – Construction of the National Park (1913-1918) and Ocean Beach Highway (1919-1934).  The accompanying letter began: “Hi Sydney, We have read your recent article on place names which helped familiarize us with your part of Pacific County…”

I think the “article” Mr. Danielson is referencing is the recent Sou’wester magazine issue I wrote, A Sense Of Place – Names of the North Beach Peninsula.  There is nothing that warms this author’s cockles more than knowing that something I’ve researched and written has actually helped another historian.  But, the surprises weren’t over.

Senator H.A. Espy at his desk, 1911

As I flipped through the pages, my grandfather’s name, Harry A. Espy, caught my eye.  I checked the index and, sure enough!  He appears on page 65 in a section called The Naselle River Toll Bridge: Public Enemy Number One.  There, in the fourth paragraph of that section, I read:

With no plan and no money appropriated in 1927 to resolve the bridge problem, the matter was left to sizzle through the summer as other parts of the road were being improved; there were plenty of needs to go around.  On September 7 “the war on [the] toll bridge” was renewed by Harry A. Espy, former State Senator and president of the Pacific County Taxpayers League, in a presentation to the County Commissioners.  Based on data collected by Senator Norman, an “implacable foe of the toll bridge from its inception,” Espy cited data that showed the Pacific County Bridge Company had, in 1926, experienced extremely large profits from operating the bridge.  The bridge tolls totaled $26,354 with disbursements of $5,607, and allowing for deprecation, the profits taken in the form of dividends to the shareholders were what he considered to be excessive.  It was recommended that an investigation be made to substantially reduce the tolls and eliminate them entirely for county vehicles.  This seemed to be a softening of the previous positions that called for total elimination of tolls an impossible choice as long as the operation or tolls, an impossible choice as long as the operation of the bridge was in private hands.

Poster in Oct. 4, 1929 North Beach Tribune, Page 69 Connecting With The Outside World

I knew that Papa had been concerned about roads during his term as State Senator and, in fact, during the 12th Legislative Session in 1911, he served on a number of Senate committees including the one on Roads and Bridges.  But if I had ever known that he was an advocate of toll-free bridges, I had forgotten.  Way to go, Papa!  And a HUGE thank you to Bob and Barbara Danielson for their kindness in sending me a copy of their handsome book.  I shall read it with interest!

Wake Up Call!

April 20th, 2017

Screen Shot – Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Oysterville was without power for a little over thirteen hours yesterday.  I’m not sure about the rest of the Peninsula.  Though we’ve pieced together a part of the story, I’ve not heard many corroborating details yet.  I did learn, though, that our ever-present Oyster Shell Telegraph doesn’t always cover the entire Peninsula. I’ve always thought it a pretty reliable communication method, but yesterday it showed itself as having at least one black-out pocket of its own.

When the lights went out, I was at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, just sitting down to lunch at the final Community Historian session.  No worries.  There was plenty of light coming in from the windows in the small meeting room and we didn’t linger long enough to notice the creeping cold.

Screen Shot — Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Near 227th on the way home, cones blocked our side of Sandridge suggesting a detour.  Up ahead we could see flashing red lights and figured there had been an accident that had compromised a power pole.  We detoured up to U Street and cut back to Sandridge on Bay, all the while noticing that there were no lights along the way.  Everyone looked to be out of power so we were not surprised to find Oysterville dark.

I decided to catch up on some telephone calls and the first person I talked to happened to be Cate Gabel who was out walking her dog.  She had just seen a Medix helicopter land in a field in Ocean Park to life flight an accident victim and, ever the reporter, had asked about the situation.  No details.  Just hope expressed that the patient would make it.

As the house began to get cold, we took the car, cranked up the heat and went on some errands.  No power at the bank; just the drive-up window.  One bill of our cash deposit immediately blew out of the drawer and was carried off in the wind.  The teller rushed out to the rescue and found the twenty-dollar bill in the field to the west.  “Second time today!” she said cheerfully.  We were also told by another bank employee that the accident involved a fatality.

Lights Wth The Push of a Button at Our House!

On to the library across town.  Power on.  Then down the highway to North Long Beach to get chicken feed.  Power there, too.  “No, it wasn’t an accident; they’re just replacing power poles on the back road,” we were told.  Hmmm.  We went home, took a nap under our down comforter and then went out for dinner.  Every restaurant we passed had parking lots full of cars.  Usual for a Wednesday night in April? Not sure. We thought it probably was because of the outage.

At the Roo we visited with our next-table-neighbors – friends we haven’t seen for a long time.  “If there’s power by tomorrow night, come over for dessert,” they said.  So… when the lights came on in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking “Oh boy!  Dessert!”  Pretty good wake up call, eh?

Skinny Dipping in Oysterville?

April 19th, 2017

Oysterville Kids High and Dry c. 1946

My skinny dipping days were over by the time I moved to Oysterville full-time in 1978.  Or so I thought.  Mostly.  Besides, even when I was a summer kid here and every day was sunny and warm, I don’t remember swimming in the altogether.  We swam in the bay in our “bay-suitys” as one of my friends called them, and we even wore “bathing shoes” to keep from getting cut on oyster shells barnacles.

I don’t know about skinny dipping in my mother’s day.  There was a time that I would have considered that idea totally shocking but that was before she told me about going “nicked and wicked” in the dunes.  No tan lines for her, no siree!

‘Swimming’ in the Bay c. 1951 — Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

As far as swimming in Oysterville was concerned, though, first choice in those ‘olden days’ of my childhood was the bay.  I think some kids went to Skating Lake, too, but that seemed like a long way away – especially to our moms who could keep an eagle eye on us if we were just out in front of the Heckes house where the shallow water was best for wading and lolling, but not really swimming.  By the time I was a teenager, Ted Holway had dredged out a real-for-sure swimming hole right at the end of our lane – still that warm bay water, but deep enough to really swim.

Nowadays, there is “the canal” and I hear tell that skinny dipping is de rigueur among swimmers of all ages.  (Just sayin’…)   Its location north of town makes it less accessible to tourists or other non-locals – a well-kept ‘secret’ you might say – though every once in a while some unlikely duck-hunter or other intrepid explorer comes upon it and asks what it is.  “The remnants” of a development called Terra Mar is the answer.

Clark Wachsmuth at The Canal c. 1980s

Here’s the skinny (ahem) according to a 1989 article by Sou’wester Editor Larry Weathers:    TERRA MAR: Abandoned real estate sales scheme north of Oysterville on Willapa Bay. Terra Mar “land by the sea” was planned as an ocean / bay recreation and retirement community in 1968. The development was to include 1,400 acres of ocean front beach homes, interior lakeside lots, bayside marina, condominiums, riding stables, airport, shopping center, clubs, and a boat canal system linking all areas “in a world where land and water are the basis of all wealth”. Terra Mar, a division of Sherwood Pacific, Inc., a Spokane company, surveyed and filed several plats at the county courthouse in September 1968 and paid for an expensive advertisement campaign which attracted several thousand investors. But Terra Mar “land by the sea” was actually “land under the bay.” Attempts to dike tidal wetlands along the bay, and dig canals in the peaty soil, were a bust. The dike could not hold back floodwater in 1974 and the normal high water table ended water pipe and canal construction. Terra Mar lot owners attempted to recover their investments, but the developers announced bankruptcy and cleared out. Nature has reclaimed the marsh and tidal wetlands but traces of the disintegrating dike and canal system still blight the landscape.

Oysterville Shoreline from Above — Bob Duke Photo

 It’s interesting how things change over time.  I’m not sure that ‘blight’ would be my word of choice these days regarding erstwhile Terra Mar.  Mother Nature has a way of reclaiming and softening and probably, like my own sainted mother, would have no difficulty in accepting this ‘swimming hole’ north of Oysterville.

The Best Approach

April 18th, 2017

Jimmy Kemmer, Judy Heckes and ‘Aunt Rye’ at the Oysterville Approach, c. 1940

Here on the Peninsula, when we talk about one approach versus another, we usually aren’t talking golf strategies or planning a sales campaign.  We’re talking beach approaches – the traditional ingress/egress roadways to and from the ocean beach.

At Oysterville – and probably at other early settlements, as well – the approach road was originally constructed for wagons and stagecoaches that carried freight and passengers from one end of the Peninsula to the other.  Travelers journeyed along the only available north/south highway – the hard sands of the weather beach.  Each ‘approach’ was marked by a large, clearly visible sign constructed in the area of the primary dune.  Or, more accurately, as clearly visible as a sign could be made, considering the constraints of stormy weather, wind-blown sand, fog or any of the usual constraints and challenges.

Winter 1983 Sou’wester

Communities took pride in their approach Signs.  When I was a child, the sign said “Come Again” as you left Oysterville Road and drove onto the beach.  And, coming back, the big letters that spelled OYSTERVILLE may have been the first word I ever could read.  Community members took pride in constructing approach signs that were distinctive.  In 1983, the Sou’wester featured a photograph of Ocean Park’s “Sunset Arch” and provided the following information about it:

This old Ocean Park beach approach sign was dubbed the “Sunset Arch”. It stood at the east end of Bay Avenue and was erected in the spring of 1932. It replaced a weather-beaten sign which stood at the approach for many years. Two local clubs called the Nit-Wits, a men’s club, and S. I. O (Six in One), a women’s club, joined forces to build it. Club members were Les Wilson, Bob Delay, Henry Edmonds Jr., Bit Wins Sr., John Morehead Jr., Walker Tompkins, Lucille Wickberg (Mrs. Les Wilson), Edith Lundquist Winn (Mrs. Bill Winn), Alva Slagle, Nancy Peterson, Sharlie Peterson, and Edna Burden. Les Wilson says his club feted a fir tree, sawed the trunk into three pieces, and transported it to the dunes at the approach. After several failures, the sign was finally erected. Walker Tompkins painted it to read “Ocean Park” on the west side and “Sunset View” on the east side. Henry Edmonds says that Charles “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick set up his camera and waited for two hours to get a photograph of a car driving under it. This photo, without a car, was also taken by Fitzpatrick. The “Sunset Arch” finally rotted in the late 1940s and the sign was replaced by a new community group led by Lyle Clark in 1949. The new sign utilized the metal masts of the wrecked ship Arrow. One of the masts still stands, but it is now badly rusted. In December1981 the North Beach Peninsula Association instated a beautiful new sign at the beach approach.  The legend “Ocean Park, 1883, 46° 30′ W., 124°2′ N.” is etched in the wood. 

Long Beach Approach, Historic

I understand that nowadays, replacing an approach sign isn’t all that ‘easy.’  There are right-of-ways and easements and laws and liability issues to consider.  Estimates to replace the Seaview approach sign (damaged by a vehicle) are in the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars range.  In our complicated, litigious society, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) no longer exists and liability rather than visibility determines the best approach.  A sad commentary, indeed.

Down the Rabbit Hole

April 17th, 2017

I told myself that it was Easter Sunday.  I didn’t have to get anything ‘done.’  And, besides, we were going to out in mid-afternoon.  No time to really make headway on any other projects or even to get started in the garden.  So, I gave myself permission to fool around with my ancestry-dot-com family tree.  Seven hours later I was scrambling to get ready to leave the house for our dinner date.

So far, though, I don’t consider it time wasted.  I’m learning a lot about my father’s family that hadn’t been a glimmer before now.  I knew nothing at all about that branch of my tree except that the first Little in our line, my great-grandfather Henry Little, came from Inneskellin, Ireland.  Yesterday I learned that he was a baker and arrived in the U.S. with his wife, Margaret, in 1865 – the year they had been married. They subsequently had six children;  my grandfather William Oliver Baketel Little was the youngest.

William Oliver Baketel Little

What is astounding to me is that I not only didn’t know any of those great aunts and great uncles, I hadn’t even heard about any of them.  In comparison, I knew every single one of my great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family, as well as their children, their grand-children, and now their great-grandchildren.  What a difference in family dynamics!

Unless, of course, all of those ‘greats’ on my father’s side died without issue. Doesn’t seem likely, but, in order to find out, I’ll need to spend more time down that rabbit hole!  Yikes!