All Around The Bay To Get Half Way Home

January 22nd, 2021

Meanwhile… in Sequim on January 15th

When the Pacific County Health Department voice asked if we would be willing to go to South Bend for our Covid-19 vaccination, we said “Sure.”  After all what’s an hour and ten minute drive (56.1 miles) after ten months of sheltering?  It’s not that I’m crazy about that drive around the bay.  But we are hardly in a position to negotiate.

I don’t know how far it is as the crow flies.  I remember when the USPO Department was last threatening to close down Oysterville’s post office and they suggested Bay Center as an alternative to us.  They said it was only 6.4 miles away.  Well… yeah!  As the crow flies.  More like 46.8 miles by road.  We thought briefly of going into the carrier pigeon business to supply mail delivery to the town.  Fortunately we didn’t have to.

I’m not quite sure why we need to go clear to South Bend for our vaccine.  Others we know are getting theirs (or did yesterday and the day before) at the County Offices in Long Beach.  They must have run out of vaccine for the beach,  but wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to bring an additional supply this way instead of having all of us old folks clotting up the roads going that way?  (Oh.  I guess I didn’t mention that although the time to get to South Bend should take under an hour and a quarter, it usually takes me about an hour and a half.  I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to all those curves around the bay…)  I wonder how many of us old ducks will be going that way today?

From “Private Snafu” WW II Cartoon Series by Warner Brothers

But… never mind.  We’ll shortly be on our way.  Once we get this first shot, we’ll be halfway home, so to speak, with the second one scheduled in just four weeks.  Also in South Bend.  I do hope that all the other Phase B-1 folks have managed to get scheduled by now.  I hope they are not still on the endless round of dial-hangup-redial.  It’s a better system than some — as in Sequim’s announcement to their 70-amd-over population, “Just come on down!”  I think the old WW II slogan SNAFU is probably in order regarding the distribution confusion, not just here but everywhere.  You remember… Situation Normal All F*cked Up.  Just sayin’…

Who, exactly, are Slutvana’s relations?

January 21st, 2021

Russian Orloff

Slutvana, our Russian Orloff, spent most of last summer and fall in a nest box — any one of the three we have.  She didn’t seem particular.  She wasn’t laying and she wasn’t broody.  Talk with her as I might, she wasn’t about to reveal the cause of her self-isolation from the rest of us.

But now that winter is upon us, she is suddenly out and about.  Her nest box days seem to be a thing of the past and, although she seldom collaborates with any of us, at least she is interacting with the garden and getting a little exercise.  She is definitely one-of-a-kind, chicken-wise.

That may be because the Russian Orloff is the only distinctly Russian breed of chicken to be found in America. Russian tradition credits Count Orloff – Alexey Grigoryevich Orlov (1737-1808) – with the importation and promotion of this breed of chicken. This is the same Count responsible for the Orlov horse breed, the famous Orlov Trotters. The Count is said to have imported the breed from Persia.

Or it may be that she is self-conscious about her looks.  Her small comb is almost non-existent and, in combination with her fat body, she is not the most attractive hen in the coop.  Plus her plethora of neck feathers makes her look like she has multiple (not just double) chins AND jowls which is not any more attractive in chickens than in people.

Orlov Trotter

On the other hand, Russian Orloffs are said to be “very cold hardy birds with their small combs and fat bodies.” A chicken’s comb, as you might know, actually helps it stay cool.  Unlike us, chickens can’t sweat.   To cool off, its blood goes into the comb and because the comb sticks up from the head, it says cooler than the rest of the chicken’s body. Blood circulating from the comb and the wattles helps the bird lose heat during hot weather.

So there you have it.  Slutvana is either really feeling frisky with the colder winter weather or she is out and about hoping for a glimpse of  her pseudo-cousins, the Orlov Trotters.  I don’t think there are any in Oysterville, but I haven’t wanted to discourage her quest.  Anything to get her out of the coop for a change!


Past, present, future – a collision of tears.

January 20th, 2021

It was hard.  It took two-and-a-half hours of hitting re-dial.  But, finally, we are scheduled to get our vaccinations on Friday.  We were asked, apologetically I thought, if we would mind driving to South Bend.  “Not at all,” we said.  Granted, the drive is not without it’s difficulties for us.  But… mind?  “Not at all!”

We haven’t breathed that first sigh of relief just yet.  But by Friday afternoon, we’ll no doubt be feeling more hopeful than we have in almost a year.  Hopeful that we may get through this most difficult of times without undo hardship — at least, as is the case so far, nothing we can’t handle.  By my birthday at February’s end, we should be facing the world with a bit more enthusiasm, even though still distanced and masked.

And we are SO grateful to our friends who got in touch yesterday morning.  “They are starting to schedule at ten o’clock,”  we were told.  “Call the County Health Department,” they urged.  And to other friends who posted on FaceBook — “just keep dialing,”  they encouraged.  We did and we are so glad.

Then, this morning… we watched Kamala Harris and Joe Biden take their oaths of office.  It was a beautifully orchestrated ceremony and I’m happy to say that I wept throughout it all.  Tears of joy and hope and reassurance.  But of it all, what will stay with me is the image of the Biden Family Bible — worn and well-used and “decades old” said the news commentator.  Because it looks so much like our Pryor Family Bible, I’d say “centuries old.”  Ours, printed in 1846, first belonged to my four times great-grandfather.  It is also huge and also looks a bit battered.  I loved it that President Biden brought his ancestors to the inauguration with him.

All-in-all, it’s a big week in our household — a week that clearly binds us to the rest of our nation and the world in such disparate ways.  Let the mending and the strengthening begin!

A new perspective on history?

January 19th, 2021

How many facts?

“Ah well, I reflect as I brew the coffee, I might as well try to enjoy my errors since I make so many of them…”  Sylvia Ashton Warner again.  I wish it was one her bits of wisdom that I had absorbed long ago.  I’m hoping it’s one of those never-too-late things.

Probably, like everyone else, there are some mistakes that don’t bother me, no matter if it’s I or someone else who is making them.  But I have an especially hard time with factual errors involving history.  I hate it when I write something and am found to be wrong about a date or a name or a circumstance.  Once it’s “out there” it’s hard to take it back, hard to correct. no matter who was mistaken or when the error first appeared.

I’ve spent many an angst-filled hour, for instance, trying to correct the historic record regarding my great-grandfather Espy’s role in the founding of Oysterville.  I have his own words in a diary to corroborate his claim that an Indian named Old Klickeas told him where to find “more oysters than the Bruce Boys ever thought of.”   Not Nahcotti as so many have claimed.  It was Old Klickeas, not Nahcotti,  who met Espy and his friend Clark here on the bayshore.  Espy said so, himself, and even his grandson, my venerable Uncle Willard,  got it wrong.

How many errors?

But, try as I might, I cannot correct the record — I cannot expunge all of the references to Nahcotti being “the one.”  Once written, once published, once copied, once on the internet — multiplied a gazillion times, the error persists forever.  I hate that.  And yet, as new information is uncovered, the errors multiply.  It’s just the way it is.  Lost documents are found and clarify a date or a name or a place.  A first hand account — a diary or a letter, perhaps, can update or even change one’s perspective on history.  But changing the historic record is another matter. It is the most frustrating part of trying to write (or tell) about the past.  It’s why it’s probably best to claim to be a storyteller — not a historian.

However… “try to enjoy my errors?”  That’s probably an impossibly quantum leap for me.  Maybe I could just be more forgiving of myself.  And of others… especially of others.



You can’t tell a book by its… title.

January 18th, 2021

“Two Loaves” starring Shirley MacLaine was based on this book.

Spinster.  Now, there’s a word you don’t hear much anymore.  In fact, it’s a term that’s been out of fashion for my entire lifetime.  Even so, it’s the title of a book I first read in 1960 — just a year after it was published by Simon and Schuster.  It was recommended reading for one of the post-baccalaureate education classes I took in order to get my teaching credential.  It seemed, at the time, to be the most incongruous suggestion I’d ever heard from a college professor.

That’s what I thought then and what I continue to think, even now.  It’s the story (fictional) of a teacher among the Maori of New Zealand.  It’s long out of print — Timberland Library got it for me through inter-library loan from Western Oregon University in Oregon.  My memory of the book is about how, some days, the spinster fortified herself for school with a half a tumbler of brandy.

And I’ve remembered how she captured the hub-bub and enthusiasm of the infant room where she was the only teacher of 70 four-and five-year-olds.  And, for all these years, I’ve remembered her firm belief that children come to school chock-a-block full of experiences and wonder and joy and anger.  We have only to help them unlock it all and put it into context — that’s the sum total of our job as teachers;  The rest will come.

Sylvia Ashton-Warner, 1908-1984

Well, that’s what I remember of the book.  That, plus it’s one of the most important books about teaching I’ve ever run across.  At first, I wondered why it was so strongly recommended to us fledglings… I was probably stuck on the brandy and a bit horrified by it.  Now as I re-read Spinster, I realize that it was Ms. Ashton-Warner who turned my interest toward our youngest learners and that her unconventional thoughts and methods were the underpinnings of my teaching for all those years — though not the brandy part, I hasten to add.

Seen through the broader context of today’s racism and divisiveness, it resonates even more deeply today.   It’s a must read, especially for  teachers — past, present, future.  I urge my readers to track it down and be prepared to see the world differently while you’re reading it — and maybe for the rest of your life.  Don’t confuse it with her second book, Teacher, which is also good.  But not as.

Background Noise

January 17th, 2021

It’s an ongoing discussion in our house — not an argument, exactly — but a disagreement we return to periodically, even knowing that there’s no solution.  It’s one of the less important factors in the way each of us is wired — one of those “opposites attract” kinds of things, maybe.  But who knew?

Nyel is one of those people who wants the radio playing all day long.  I don’t think it really matters to him if he is in the room or not.  He is not what you would call “an active listener” — at least not most of the time.  When I catch a snippet of something and want to know more, my beloved husband of about 1/3 of a century just looks at me as if I’ve recently arrived from Mars.  He has no idea how to answer.  He hasn’t been listening.  But godforbid I should turn that radio off.

I, on the other hand, can’t bear background anything.  Voices or music or static — I need to deal with it.  I am compelled to listen, maybe even to take notes or, if it offends, turn it off.  Pull the plug.  Whatever.  And, being the sort of person that I am, I can’t concentrate on two things at once.  No way.

I used to think that my brain was less able than other people’s as in my college roommates who wanted music playing while they studied.  I retreated to the library.  I always thought that they could do two things at once and I was, somehow, not as clever.  Later, when I began teaching, some of my colleagues played “background music” while kids were doing math problems or reading silently. The theory was that it helped them concentrate.  I was always glad I hadn’t had teachers like that.

But, more recently, when Nyel and I have discussed the “radio-always-on problem,” I’m thinking that I gave my roommates and others way too much credit.  Nine times out of ten Nyel has NO concept about what the radio has been spewing forth.  None.  As in nada.   “So why is it on?” I always end up asking.  There apparently is no answer except maybe the radio serves different purposes for different folks.  Given ten minutes of listening, Nyel is likely to be dozing in his chair.  Me… usually a dozen questions forming, most of which will never get answers or even be remembered…  Oh well.

Where is the line?

January 16th, 2021

Kay Buesing, 2013

Where exactly is the demarcation zone — that area between public and private that some guard so carefully and others feel is part of their open book?  I cannot answer the question, not even for myself.  The closest I can come is… “it depends.”

Kay Buesing’s son-in-law came to see us yesterday to tell us that Kay is now back on the Peninsula — has been since November or so.  OMG!  We didn’t even know she had left.  Care-giving issues during the pandemic, he said.  Her health has been fragile for a few years now — we did know that.  In September 2019, she and her care-giver came to “Our Grand Affair” — the 150th birthday party for this house — and Kay and I joked that maybe the party should be for us and that some days we felt about that old.  That was the last time we had a visit.

The First Kite Museum

We go back a long way, Kay and I.  She and her husband Jim arrived on the Peninsula the year before I did — 1977, I think.  She was already teaching English and drama at the high school when I was hired to teach at Long Beach.  She and Jim were part of “the picnic group” with Gordon and Roy and Noel and Patty.  Kay and I helped begin the first go-round of The Peninsula Players in 1980  and, about the time she and Jim retired and opened the Kite Shop in the old Long Beach firehall building, Nyel and I were beginning our sojourn at the Bookvendor cattywampus across the street.

While Jim flew kites and sold them, Kay worked behind the scenes to get the International Kite Festival off the ground (so to speak) and then turned her attention to establishing the Kite Museum.  She always credited Jim, but we all knew that Kay was proverbial power behind the throne — or, in this case, the wind beneath the kites.   And, if she could, she roped us all into helping, one way or another. She made all the hard work look easy and look like such fun.

Kay Buesing, 2014

But when Bobby came to our door yesterday — masked and with his long, pandemic hair — not only did it take me a beat to know who he was, I was gobsmacked at his news.  Kay has been placed in Hospice Care and since visiting isn’t an option these days… “send a card,” he said:  Kay Buesing, Coastal Care, 21914 Pacific Way, Ocean Park, WA 98641.

As I write this, I’m still looking for that line of privacy.  I’ve decided that I can only do as I would want done — tell those who know Kay and would want to reach out.  Ask them to send her their love and their memories — the most important gifts of all.

Here they come, ready or not!

January 15th, 2021


Our world has been gray and green for so long now that the single pink camellia felt like a visual assault.  Not very big and not especially bright — not neon-sign bright or day-glo paint bright.  But, even so, she got my full attention when she appeared.

I don’t think it was an accident that she showed herself from exactly the spot we would notice.  Like the chickens when they come calling, Ms. Camellia was right outside our east door — just beside the porch where we’d be sure to see her as we went from one end of the house to the other.  I couldn’t help exclaiming when she caught my eye. I felt her smiling back, pleased that she had surprised me.  So far, she’s the only one — the first bright burst of the new year.

Here come the daffodils!

I’m not sure who will be next — daffodils or hyacinths.  The race is on.  Both are poking up but it will be some time before they blossom.  Blue  will edge around our garden beds and a field of yellow will blanket our northern verge.

I’m betting the hyacinths will burst forth first, but don’t mention it to the daffs.  They always like to think they are the harbingers.  And when it comes to harbinging… don’t we all?

Poised For The Next Step

January 14th, 2021

The Next Step

I wonder how many of us are ready in Pacific County?   Presumably, those of us over 70 are next in line to receive the vaccine — the “B-1 Group” according to recent e-mail information we received.  And received. And received.  It was not made clear how we will be notified as to where and when to offer our arms.  But in our household, we are more than ready.  I imagine there are many, many all over the County who are ready to take that next step.

Meanwhile, we wait.  I’m not really certain what it is that we are waiting for.  Perhaps for authorization to come from on high.  Or, perhaps for more vaccine.  According to Wednesday’s paper:  Some 1,175 doses have been distributed to health facilities in Pacific County so far.  Ocean Beach Hospital initially received 975 does of Pfizer’s vaccine several weeks ago, but [Katie] Lindstrom said 500 of the doses have since been transferred to an out-of-county provider because there aren’t enough Phase 1a-eligible people in the county to use up all of the doses.

For you…?

SAY WHAT?  Now that’s something we aren’t hearing in the news very often!  Mostly the lament is that states and counties and health facilities are not getting what they need.  Wow!  Leave it to Pacific County to get too much and then to give it away!  Makes our county look pretty good, eh?  But actually, I might rather have a shot in my arm than a feather in my cap.

I’m sure there are rules.  Layers and layers of them.  Bureaucracy to a fault.  God forbid someone gets vaccinated before their category comes up and it’s their turn.  I wonder how many B-1 folks in Pacific  County might contract the virus while they are waiting.  While 500 doses are going elsewhere.  The mind boggles.

Back In The Day

Meanwhile… no one has said how we B-1 folks will be told it’s our turn.  Or where to go.  I remember taking my year-old son to a school gymnasium in Redwood City where table after table was set up with sugar cubes in little cups.  The first go-round of the polio vaccine.   That was in 1957.  I don’t remember any anxiety about next steps then.  But we were all a lot younger, too.  We hadn’t even taken that first step for mankind, so perhaps the shoe was right where it needed to be in the first place.  Let’s hope that’s the case now, as well.

About Walking On Water

January 13th, 2021

High Tide on Clay Street

The day woke up gray.  Again.  Right now at least, it’s not actively raining.  But, the meadow is still mostly water.  Lake Little is as large as I’ve ever seen it.  There is still standing water in the lane and in our yard.

I’ve not ventured out to the chickens yet.  It’s still early and, on these gray days, they tend to sleep in.  When they do decide to leave the coop and venture out into their run, they object to the puddles and try to find higher ground.  Yesterday there wasn’t any.  Even the lawn between our house and theirs was deceptive — grass growing through one big lake.

I wasn’t quite wading and not quite floating as I took them their breakfast.  It was a weird sensation — no solid footing to be found.  I walked quickly, somehow knowing that, if I paused with my full weight on one foot or the other, I’d sink down, down, down below the surface.  And who would know…

I’ll wait a bit this morning.  The girls aren’t really pleased to see me, anyway, in this kind of weather.  I think they expect me to fix it — to turn off the wet and to turn on the warm and bright.  They don’t understand that I can’t even walk on water.