Speaking of Cats in Boxes

November 28th, 2021

It’s a rule.  Leave an empty (or almost empty) box or container where a cat can find it and in goes the cat.  The “experts” have all sorts of reasons for that behavior.  “Boxes Make Cats Feel Safe,” “Boxes Make Great Hunting Hideouts,”  “Boxes Help Keep Cats Warm,” and “A Box Is New and Mysterious” are a few that come up over and over.

I prefer to think that the answer is more often “because it’s there.”  I come to this conclusion, not through any complicated intellectual process, but by asking myself why cats think that we humans sit in chairs so frequently.  Do they think we feel safe there?   Or that we are waiting for prey to come sit on our laps?  Or would it even occur to them that we just want to rest a bit — to take a load off, as it were?  Seems unlikely.  Resting is lying down as every sensible cat knows.

In reality, I doubt if cats think much at all about why we humans sit in chairs (or anywhere else).  I doubt if they care — unless, for some reason it signals “time for a treat” or another cat-centered activity.  Trying to figure out the whys and wherefores of others’ habits is more likely our bailiwick, not  that of our feline friends.  And… I have to say that it’s as hard to second-guess cats as it is to figure out chickens.

One thing though… chickens do NOT like boxes.


When is enough enough?

November 27th, 2021

As we reviewed our blessings on Thursday, we were beginning to think that a return to “normalcy” might be around the corner with a big Christmas Party here — the first in several years.  Son Charlie has been encouraging us.  Nyel has already arranged for Pam-the-Bartending-Elf to assist. Some specialty food items have been ordered.  We’ve set the date and are considering the parameters — as in boosters required, masks optional, no hugging or smooching. (And with that last one, part of me says, “Why bother?’)

But then yesterday’s news was full of concerns about the newest Covid-19 variant — omicron.  Stock prices were falling, travel restrictions from the U.S. to South Africa and seven other countries are being put into place, and… on and on it goes.  Again.  Black Friday turned into Bleak Friday before our eyes and there wasn’t a word of advice to Sydney and Nyel Stevens concerning “to have or not to have” their gala Christmas party.

So, I put it to you.  Factor in the age and health cards — as in, with one of us almost 86 and the other wheelchair bound, how many more Christmas galas can we muster up?  And factor in the community card — as in, how much more time do we have to put off seeing friends and loved ones, especially those we see far too infrequently as it is?  But… how would any of us feel if even one person got sick after being here — even if it wasn’t a direct connection?

We are pondering.  No.  Actually we are agonizing.  We wonder who would come to Oysterville in any case?  And, we sympathize with the many others who are going through similar torments regarding their own holiday plans.

What to do?  What to do?  I hope the answer isn’t blowin’ in the wind.  We all know how that’s worked out…

A News Clipping of Note

November 26th, 2021

Part of Early News Clipping

There are several things that drive us collectors of bits-and-pieces-of-history to distraction — old photographs with no identifying names or dates and yellowing news clippings without any indicators of when or whence.  I think the following excerpt from just such a clipping was from the The Tribune of Ilwaco — probably in the late 1940s judging by snippets of ads on the reverse side.

Under the headline Espy Describes Early Settlement is an article about my grandfather’s talk at a dinner meeting of the Ilwaco-Long Beach Kiwanis club.  The part of particular interest to me describes the first road survey on the Peninsula.

An interesting document read by Espy was one made under date of October 1859, a petition addressed to the commissioners of Pacific county, Washington Territory, requesting the building of a road due west out of Oysterville to connect with the “weather beach” route to Pacific City at Baker’s Bay.

Isaac Alonzo Clark

The petition was signed by 25 pioneers of Oysterville including E. Ward Pell, R.H. Espy, Chas. Anderson, H. Wing, A.C. Wirt, Geo. Dawson, H.K. Stevens, Frank Warren, G.W. Warren, G.S. Foster, I. M. Chichester, J.A. Cole, Irving Stevens, Il Wheeler, Ezra Stout, George Wills, F. Hopkinson, W.H. Gray, E.G. Loomis, I.A. Clark, W. Sutton, Jr., and Thomas J. Foster, Jr.
The penmanship of the petition was very well done, and easy to read, in spite of an ornate style.  The language used was on the flowery side, and in true chamber of commerce optimism indicate a huge influx of business and visitors over the proposed road.
The following May of 1860 the records of the county commissioners, who are not named, signed by H.K. Stevens, clerk of the board, reveal that E.G. Loomis, George Willis and Dennis Colby were appointed “viewers” for the road project.
 Their detailed report was accepted by the board of commissioners and placed on file July 2, 1860.  (For a description of that survey, read my April 18, 2021 blog, “Metes and Bounds and Willow Posts” http://sydneyofoysterville.com/2021/metes-and-bounds-and-willow-posts/)
A photostatic copy of this original record was recently made by Verna Jacobson, county auditor, who reported to Mr. Espy:  “As nearly as I can ascertain, it is the oldest document in the office as to commissioners’ proceedings.”

Harry and Dora Espy circa 1896

The concluding paragraphs of the article amused me greatly.  My grandfather was known as a man of many, many words and, according to the reporter:
H.A. Espy was accompanied to the meeting of the Kiwanis club by his sister, Mrs. Dora Wilson of Portland, who, according to Harry “pulled my coat tail three times” when she felt it time for him to conclude his address.
However, the Kiwanians appeared to enjoys both the amusing anecdotes and the historical documents of the oldtimer of Oysterville, giving him a hearty round of applause.



November 25th, 2021

We are thankful for countless treasures on this Thanksgiving Day 2021, but first and foremost for the gift of friendship.   We wish all of you a wonderful day and joyous beginning to the holiday season!


A Case of Mistaken Identity

November 24th, 2021

Ida-Mae and Clara — In Plummier Days

Not that it makes any difference.  But, I have discovered that it wasn’t Clara who was feeling ill.  It was Ida-Mae, Clara’s almost-twin sister.  I’m embarrassed to admit it but, for almost a year, we’ve been calling our (now) missing hen by the wrong name!

I know that for a fact because yesterday, after seeing that beautiful black and white hen in such obvious distress, I looked up her history.  Not that I have ancestry.comforchickens (if, indeed, there is such a thing) but I do write about various chicken milestones in my blog.  I was curious about how long we’d had “Clara” and when her “almost-twin” had died, so I took a look in past blog posts.  Here is what I found:

June 20, 2020 – a pair of Barred Rock hens came from our neighbors down the road who generously answered my plea for a couple of hens to increase our puny flock of two — if you can really call two hens a “flock.”  They are beautiful, mellow additions and, for a while, are being isolated from Slutvana and Little Red Hen in the once-up0n-a-time “Broody Coop” …  Their former owners estimated them to be two years old.

In June 2020

June 27, 2020 – In the seven days since we’ve had them, they’ve give us seven eggs.  They are totally sweet, good-natured girls.  We are calling them Clara and Ida-Mae. 

December 14, 2020 – I had just finished writing my blog about chickens’ sleeping habits yesterday when I went to let the girls out of the coop and found Ms. Clara toes up just behind the roost…

And, apparently, without missing a beat, I’ve called Ida-Mae by Clara’s name ever since.  I’m so sorry.  It sort of reminds me of the Victorian habit of changing a living child’s name to that of a sister or brother who has just died.  My own great-grandmother Richardson, born October 30, 1856, was Christened Anne Maria Taylor but when younger sister Medora Law Taylor (1864-1869) died, Anne Marie became Annie Medora Taylor.  An odd custom I’ve always thought.  And  here I’ve done it to our chickens!

No matter.  Whether we remember her as Clara or Ida-Mae, she was still missing this morning.  Missing and presumed… you know the rest.

Waiting for the third shoe to drop…

November 23rd, 2021

Morning Facebook Notification from PUD – 11/23/2021

I know I’m mixing metaphors here but, so far, it’s a day that seems to require a bit more than usual in the realm of expectations and portents.

First, shortly after the alarm went off, the power followed suit.  Went off, that is.  Not an optimum time in most households, I’d say.  Coffee to make, toilets to flush, showers to take.  All reminders of how soft and dependent we have become.  Though, truly, we didn’t need this outage, so hard on the heels of the last two, for us to renew our concerns for the long, dark winter ahead.

Fortunately (and thanks to our dedicated PUD workers), we were back up and running within a couple of hours and I hied myself out to the chickens to bid them good morning.  Slutvana and Little Red Hen were waiting eagerly by the gate to the coop, but no sign of Clara.  I was at once relieved and concerned when I looked into the coop and saw her standing uncertainly by the door to the ramp.  Now that I was there, she started down — with difficulty, I thought, and I noticed that she had a poopy butt which is never a good sign.


Of course,  as soon as I opened the gate, Slutvana and LRH dashed out into the yard after the cracked corn I tossed about for them.  But, not Clara.  She stayed in the run, looking at me with dull eyes.  I told her I was sorry she didn’t feel well.  I hope it’s just a bit of indigestion but, honestly, I’m concerned.  Farmer Nyel says we’ll just have to wait and see.  That’s the way it is with chickens.

So… what else will this day bring?  I’m a great believer in things happening in threes.  I’m not sure if I can count the roller doors on the woodshed getting stuck right after I had my visit with Clara.  It’s not that big a deal — usually.  But right after they froze up (in the open position) here came the rains.  Torrential for a few moments.  The good news was that it came straight down so the wood was safe and dry.

Maybe it’s just going to be that kind of day.  Or that kind of week until we can say “goodbye” to November.  Perhaps, eventually, we can look back on 2021 as the year with the difficult autumn that, ultimately, paved the way for an easy winter to follow.  We can but hope.

The Wrong Holiday? Maybe not.

November 22nd, 2021

I know that love stories are usually associated with Valentine’s Day more than with the upcoming Thanksgiving season, but this one that I ran across “amongst my souvenirs” reminded me a little bit of  both.  It was a story written  by my mother in the early 1970s  and reprinted in the Chinook Observer after Charley Nelson’s death in 1978.

In memory of Charley and
Deane Nelson: a love story
by Dale Little

Dale Espy Little – “Mom” 2010

(Editor’s Note:  The following was written a while ago as a tribute to Charley and Deane Nelson, pioneer family of the peninsula who lived at Nahcotta. Both have recently passed away.)
“I saw you coming,” Charley said, as he opened the door.  I was late, and he was probably beginnng to wonder if I had forgotten to bring him his dinner.
Friends and well-wishers always tried to see that Charley was well taken care of when Deane was having one of her bouts in the hospital.
Charley is ninety-two and has begun to fail noticeably over the last year.  Even so, though he can hardly see and his hearing is becoming more and more difficult, he keeps his priceless sense of humor.
He and Deane — his 88-year-old wife — are certainly the most beloved of all the people on our isolated peninsula.  They are childless, but have an abundance of friends and admirers.  I seldom drive by their place that they are not having visitors.  Though Deane has been a cripple for forty years, up to this day they have never had help in the house.
They are both so independent, it is difficult to do much for them.
Right now Charley says, ” I’ve always taken care of her and I can do it this time.”
As I went in I said, “I guess you’re happy, Charley that Deane will be home tomorrow.”
“It will be one of the best days of my life — that and the day I married her,” he said.  He had come near losing her this time.
Then he added, “What is Pledge?”
“If you are talking about what I think you are, Charley, it’s a furniture polish — what did you want it for?”
“I want to squirt it around to freshen the air.  I’ve been cooking bacon and eggs and I want the house to smell good when Deane gets here.”
“Show me where you keep it, Charlie, and I’ll see if I’m right.”
He took me to a back utility room — everything was in apple pie order.  He pointed to a can on the counter and said, “I know Deane uses that, but I didn’t know for exactly what.”  It was Pledge all right.
I said, “If you let me look, Charley, maybe I can find what you want.”  He pointed to the cupboard.  I found the air-freshener without any problem and handed it to him.
“This is what you want, Charley, it’s the tall thin can, but you had better keep it out so you won’t have any trouble finding it.”
As I had entered the utility room I had noticed two beautiful bouquets — evidently just picked.

Charles and Deane Nelson c. 1970

“Did you go out and get the flowers yourself, Charley?  I love apple blossoms.”
“Yes,” he said.  “I wanted to beat the rain.  I proposed to Dean under an apple tree out on the old Andrews place sixty-nine years ago this month.  I loved her then — she was beautiful — and I’ve loved her more each year since.  It’s been love all the way.
“I’m going to make her one of my big mulligan stews tomorrow.  We both go for one of my big stews — two gallons of it.  I cook it all day.”
“What do you put in it Charley?”  I was curious.
“In the old days we had to use canned beef because we hardly ever had fresh meat unless someone had just butchered, but now I use regular stew meat, but I put everything in it — every vegetable on the market.”
I went away worrying at first about Charley managing the stew without being able to see and then I realized that it would probably taste better to both of them than any meal they ever had.  They were together again — still together after 66 years of love and being loved by all who know them.








Things Might Be Looking Up In Oysterville

November 21st, 2021

Space-X Starlink Satellite

Until very recently, I had the vague idea that Elon Musk was some sort of exotic scent for men.  Then my cousin got a spiffy job in California working for Tesla and I found out a little more — at least to the extent that the scent exuded by this particular Musk is that of money and cutting edge electric cars.  And now we are hearing about Mr. Musk even closer to home.  Yes!  His Starlink satellites have reached the skies above Oysterville!

According to our neighbor (who, as far as we know, is the first in our area to sign up) the system delivers exactly what its website promises:  Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.”

“It was seamless!” she enthused to us at our Friday Night Gathering.  “No muss, no fuss.  Instantly we were up and running — no problems encountered by our local installer or by us!”  And best of all, the download speed for the internet is 200+MB/s (a figure so vast when compared to our all-time CenturyLink speed of 5.88 MB/s, that I cannot remember the exact number)!!

CardioMems Device

Will we sign up?  The jury is still out.  Mostly because it only makes sense to do that if we bag our landline and current internet delivery service.  We will do that in a nano-second IF Nyel finds that his daily CardioMems report can be sent another way.  Right now, the data from the device that measures and monitors his pulmonary artery pressure and heart rate goes daily via our landline directly to his cardiologist in Seattle.  That communication allows for immediate tweaking of meds, should the numbers so indicate.  The big question:  is there another way that his CardioMems machine can communicate with Seattle?

Fingers crossed!  If our stars are in the right aspect and there is a way to circumvent our landline, we’ll be on the waitlist before you can say, “200 MB/s.”


My crowning glory? Not so much.

November 20th, 2021

Medora, circa 1913

My grandmother felt that a woman’s hair was “her crowning glory” and,  was full of advice for her eldest daughter, Medora — even by letter when Medora was away at boarding school.  In this note, written on November 2,  1914, she said:

 I do hope you are not slicking up the sides of your hair.  I know it will take the curl out.  Ruth ought to be a continual object lesson to you as to how pretty hair can be ruined.  You can leave it soft and curling around your face and still show your ears.  In fact, when you take the frame of your hair from your face it is like plucking the petals off a daisy and leaving the bald pod.  Some people’s hair is not a necessity.  Yours is – so is mine.

I’m not sure what she meant about her sister Ruth’s hair.  Try as I might, I can find no pictures of Ruth that show “ruined” hair.  But, Medora’s hair, was definitely an “issue” as the letter written just a week later demonstrates:

Medora, 1915

Tuesday, November 10, 1914
       Remember, I don’t want you to wear your hair up.  It does not matter who likes it up.  Up in back makes you look like a Dutch waitress in a German bakery.  On top is becoming, but too old.  With little curls sticking out of a psyche, you would be a picture, but wait for awhile.  I was in a rush to get mine on top, but am thankful my mother had me keep it down until graduation year.

I think that epistle would have stopped me dead in my tracks, but if it slowed Medora down, it was not for long.  In her diary of Thursday, March 18, 1915, Mama’s sixteen-year-old first born wrote:

I have been wearing my hair up for two weeks and I don’t like it at all but I want to impress people that I am old

Ruth Buzzi and Her Hairnet

She was still a year and a half away from graduation.  Perhaps in the interim Mama had relented.  I hope so because, against all odds, this lovely, vibrant girl died in her sleep, perhaps of an aneurysm, on January 18, 1916 — just 15 days after her 17th birthday and six months before her graduation.

I thought about my grandmother and Medora and crowning glories early this morning when I woke up from a fine night’s sleep during which I had apparently had been wired into an electrical outlet.  My hair, short and fine and tending toward frizz, was standing straight up all across the top of my head.  I think what I need is a Ruth Buzzi hairnet.  But don’t mention it to Granny!






How far have we come? How far yet to go?

November 19th, 2021

Abraham Lincoln

On November 19, 1863 — 158 years ago today — at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War,  President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In fewer than 275 words, he brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

It used to be that every school child could recite at least the beginning sentence of the Gettysburg Address:  Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.    But, all these years later we still argue the fine points of that very sentence and, sometimes, it seems as though we might be, yet again, on the brink of a mammoth civil conflict.

And perhaps we are — it’s just that it happens on the streets during “protest marches” and in the courts during “fair trials” and in our free press in hateful words and “fake” news.  As if these thoughts don’t bum me out enough, I looked up how many wars the United States of America has been involved in since our beginnings in 1776.  Want to hazard a guess?

“Freedom From Want” by Norman Rockwell

Since the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War with the Treaty of Paris in 1783 in which Britain recognized the independence of the United States of America and the colonies, we have been involved in 92 wars, three of which are ongoing.  Granted, this information comes from Wikipedia which is not necessarily known for its accuracy and even it has a disclaimer of sorts at the top of the page:  The neutrality of this article is disputed  Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page.  Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. (August 2021)

Nevertheless… were the number of wars even half that amount, it is a scary proposition.  I wonder what Lincoln would have to say about our situation today.  And could he confine his remarks to  two minutes and 272 words?  Today, less than a week before our traditional Thanksgiving here in America, it is surely something to think about.