Getting Our Just Desserts

April 6th, 2020

Yesterday we went on the Fresh Food Foray — to CostCo and Fred Meyers (curbside) to get some of the items we can’t get through online ordering.  Before we went, Nyel had baked oatmeal raisin cookies (yum!) and then added sugar to the CostCo list.

“Really?” I asked.  Nyel rarely bakes and we don’t use sugar for much else.  “The hummingbirds are back,” was his reply.  Enough said.  Soon we’ll be filling our feeder a couple of times a week at a cup of sugar a pop.  Yep.  I made a mental note.

There was brown sugar and powdered sugar but no white, granulated at CostCo.  No sugar at Freddy’s either.  When we got home, we looked at Amazon.  Expensive but it will be here later this week.  The hummingbirds will be grateful

I told  Marta and Charlie about it during our weekly conference call last night  “It’s sounding a lot like World War II when everything was rationed,” Marta said.  But she was a generation too late to remember that first-hand.  I, on the other hand, well remember rationing books and standing in line at the corner grocery store when their supply of sugar came in.  Desserts were a rare treat when I was a little girl.  I remember my mom saving up sugar for my birthday cake when I was six or seven.

And, then, the aha moment!  Never in all my years since “the war” have I put rationing together with hoarding.  But… of course!  How else to give everyone a chance at the items that had suddenly become rare commodities?  And if, as some medical professionals predict, this virus will be with us for a while, is rationing in the near future for us?  If our hummingbirds had a vote, they’d probably say “yes!”


The Next Best Thing

April 5th, 2020

Looking South on Territory Road, Oysterville c. 1930 – Stony Point Pictures

Stony Point Pictures (aka Keith Cox) has been posting old photos on Frank Lehn’s “Long Beach Peninsula Friends of Facebook.”  I love them!  They are worth the “price of the ticket” for sure!  Many I’ve seen before but with some it’s a first time thing.

Today I came across one of Territory Road (once called “4th Street”) that was taken of “our end” of the road looking from north to south.  It was new to me.  Almost.  I have one taken at a similar time period, but from south to north.  No cows in this one, though.  Just chickens.

Looking South on Territory Road, Oysterville, c. 1920 – Espy Family Archive

Some other all too familiar and sad images of Oysterville  that have recently been posted are of the Oysterville Church when the steeple was boarded up, and one of the little Captain Stream House — perhaps also the same time period.  Although, on second thought, the photo of the church is in color which probably puts it closer to 1980 when its restoration began.  (From 1930 to 1980, it looked much the same.) The big spruce tree in the right foreground (our garden) puts it much closer to 1980.

Oystreville Church Prior to 1980 Restoration – Stony Point Pictures

All of them make me think that seeing these photos is the next best thing to being able to travel back in time.  All of them also make me think of the improvements that have been made since we became a National Historic District and the Oysterville Restoration Foundation was formed.

Now, though, we may be over the top.  It seems to me that upkeep and restoration have been conflated, in some cases, with a good dollop of fantasy.  I’m glad to have these old photos to help us remember where we’ve come from.  Thanks, Keith!

Listening/Interpreting… Who’s in sync?

April 4th, 2020

“Think, think, think.”

I’m finding that there are people putting the accent on the “wrong syl-lah-ble” (at least from my viewpoint) with regard to the health directives given to us by Governor Inslee.  I guess it’s a personality thing — like seeing the glass half empty or half full.

In the first place, maybe my interpretation of “directive” is stronger than some others who are treating his words more like “suggestions.”  I can see why.  I think he has been much  too “soft” especially with regard to the circumstances appropriate for going outside.  To be fair, the Governor has tried to be firmer since seeing that people are still crowding the streets of our cities and paying little heed to his stay-at-home order.  But… still not firm enough to my way of thinking.

Now, the order has been extended until May 4 with the caveat that it may be even longer.  And still Inslee is careful to say that can Washingtonians can continue to go for walks, runs, and bike rides outside if they maintain a six-foot distance from others.  In my mind, he continues to give the inch that prompts people to take the mile.

How many legs?

For me, Long Beach School’s current “We’re going on a bear hunt” is the perfect (and downright appalling) example of pushing the envelope.  The instructions from the staff to our community’s adults are:  “Place a bear in your window, on your porch or fence or anywhere children can safely see it from a distance.”

And to kids:  “Walk or drive your neighborhoods and count and classify your sightings.  How many bears can you find?  What color are they?  How big, how small?  Are they stuffed or drawn?  Did you spot other stuffed animals in windows, too?”

Bringing Fresh Air Indoors

I appreciate the intent — an educational counting/classification activity that also gets kids out in the fresh air.  It’s the “out” part I object to.  In my mind, now is not the time and the activity is fraught with pitfalls.  Why not have a similar activity inside the house?  Instead of bears, make it legs — table legs, chair legs, legs on toys…  Fresh air is a good thing, but not quite this way and probably not right now.  Not when the risks are so high and people are so likely to relax their attention.

And why don’t the instructions at least include “wear a mask” and “keep a six foot distance from those you meet.”   I’m only glad I’m no longer teaching and don’t have to “own” that activity.   I can only hope that the activity is rescinded before it leads to an outcome none of us want.

Undaunted… Well, maybe not quite.

April 3rd, 2020

Austrian Beauty

Our garden has been left to its own devices for a while, mostly due to the weather but partly because of the Sheltering Syndrome.  We are absolutely fine with sheltering in place until someone yells ollie-ollie-oxen-free but the problem might be that we are TOO fine with it.  That’s the “syndrome” part.  As in I’m starting to think of my world as confined within these four walls.

So, yesterday I forced (well almost) myself to do a walk-about in the garden.  Some of our rhodies have been blooming profusely and I apologized to them for not getting a picture when they were at their peak.  The deer people have been enjoying the camellias more than ever and that warranted another apology — I should have been giving the leaves a shot of deer repellent occasionally.

Windblown but Brave

The narcissuses (say it three times real fast) that Cousin Lina brought from Austria are still blooming and they are beautiful!  But… they are pretty crippled up from recent winds and rains.  I took their pictures, anyway, and commiserated with them.  “We’re all going through a bad patch right now.  Thanks for hangin’ in,” I told them.

I know that the only earthly reason not to get out there more frequently is inertia.  Who’da thunk that would be a side effect of sheltering in place?  And now that I know… will anything change?  We’ll see…

Remembering “Mrs. Muffin”

April 2nd, 2020

Martha Turner, 1935 Graduation from Ilwaco High School

Almost every time I turn around these days I am hearing about friends who are working at the food banks or at the school cafeteria or for Meals on Wheels — so many dedicated people helping to get nourishing food to those in need.  And I think of my friend Martha Turner Murfin.

Martha would be just two months shy of 102 were she still living and, as sure as I’m writing this, she would be in the thick of helping us all get through this pandemic.  Martha was all about helping — especially children.  She saw to it that they had shoes and backpacks and school supplies.  She saw to it that they had warm jackets in the winter and that they were signed up for “free and reduced” school meals.  She made home visits to see for herself what might be needed — ever aware of people’s pride; especially the kids’.

I first met Martha in 1981 at Ocean Park School, in those days a K-3 school.  She was the Librarian there and not only helped kids choose just the right books but offered a warm lap and comforting arms for kids who needed them.  She kept secrets and always knew just the right thing to say when a child’s whole world was falling apart.  The little kids called her “Mrs. Muffin” and so did the rest of us!  It was a term of endearment of the first order.

Martha Turner Murfin, 1918-2011

She worked with kids and families right up until she couldn’t any more — which was only a short time, as I remember.  She died in the summer of 2011 and her Celebration of Life may well have been the largest such gathering in the Peninsula’s history.

I know she’s somewhere close by, cheering us all on — especially all of the real-life angels who are following in her footsteps to take care of those in need during this most difficult time.  Thanks, Mrs. Muffin, for continuing to serve as a shining beacon for us all!

Decadent Dinner For Two While Hunkering

April 1st, 2020

Tossed Green Salad – Gone!

I didn’t think to take pictures until it was too late, so you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that it was fabulous!  And use your imagination.

Part of our morning coffee discussion is always the day’s meal plan and yesterday’s dinner discussion centered around a baguette that we had picked up last week at Freddy’s curbside service.  (Which was excellent, by the way!  Worked perfectly; no glitches.  We already have placed an order for Sunday pickup.)


Anyway… that baguette has been calling to me.  “We have a little wheel of brie,” said the chef.

“Perfect!” said I.  “Let’s have the baguette and brie and a tossed green salad.”


Roasted Garlic

When the time came, the fragrance of roasting garlic met me halfway to the kitchen.  Two heads (one each) were waiting on the table along with the warm, crusty baguette ready for slicing and the brie, soft and creamy at room temperature.  (If you have never had brie and roasted garlic mooshed onto a warm baguette, you have missed one of life’s greatest dining pleasures.)

Last of the Brie

The salad, tossed with Nyel’s perfect Vinaigrette dressing, included romaine lettuce, green onions, sliced radishes and cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and black olives.  Only missing was the wine but since neither Nyel nor I are wine drinkers, it wasn’t missing at all.

It was as if we’d died and gone straight to Paris!  Heavenly!

Random Thoughts While Waiting

March 31st, 2020

Our morning coffee discussion has become a little tedious of late.  Not enough outside stimulus as in interaction with the real rather than the virtual world.  And speaking of stimulus… that was today’s main topic.  As in how much, when, and who will be involved in those stimulus checks.  The best I can understand is that “they” will use our 2019 income tax records to determine how much and  will make a direct deposit to our bank account.

Our conversation led to a lot of speculation, mostly concerning those who are “off the grid.”  I guess the survivalists and others who have made a lifestyle of avoiding the mainstream have things figured out so that they have no need for a stimulus package.  But what about those who are on the fringe — a lifetime of pick-up jobs, no social security connections, never paid income tax, no bank account.  What about those folks?

Or are there any people left in our bureaucratic society who are truly off the grid?  I remember during the 60s being visited by a couple with the improbable names (couple-wise) of D’neal and D’lean.  I had met D’neal at San Francisco State when I was taking classes to get my teaching credential.  He was charming, lived in the Haight with D’lean and a bunch of other young people, and I think he just floated around the student cafeteria looking for opportunities.

A few years later the two of them showed up at our house in Castro Valley with  100 pounds of chicken food.  They were on foot and said they were on their way to the Santa Cruz Mountains to live off the land, supplemented by that chicken food.  Go figure.

I’m sure they wanted help with their endeavor but we were very much of the mind that if you were able-bodied you worked for your living.  It was clear to me that if you could head into the mountains, each lugging a 50-pound sack of chicken feed, you were able-bodied enough.

We never heard from them again.  For all I know, they are now corporate CEOs and are a part of the Establishment with a capital E.  But, if not, will they manage to score a couple of stimulus checks???

And so the discussion goes in our household.  How about yours?

Clear Communication At The Coop!

March 30th, 2020

Farmer Nyel isn’t buying it, but I’m pretty sure the chickens are beginning to understand some English.  Either that or they have perfected mind-reading, which Farmer Nyel would never believe either.  Not because of the chickens.  Because of my mind.

Today we awoke to “one of them variable mornings” as the folks’ old handyman Bob Meadows would have said.  It was pouring rain at first light, then a little break and Nyel said, “Here’s your opportunity!”

I was on it!  Hat on uncombed head.  Field jacket buttoned over hiked-up bathrobe.   Boots on bare feet.  Truly a vision of loveliness.  I grabbed the scratch container which had some over-the-hill cherry tomatoes in it and added some cracked corn.  I also filled an aluminum-foil pie plate with yummy poultry crumbles — their dietary staple.  And off I started.

As I reached the half-way mark, the skies opened: huge pelting raindrops and nasty icy hail beat on me and my chicken offerings.  I hurried.  Only faithful Snowhite was in the run but when I said, “Here I am!” with as much cheer as I could muster, Slutvana and Little Red came out of the coop and down the ramp.

Usually the group gathers just inside the gate, jostling for who will bolt out first when it opens.  And, usually I throw the scratch out on the lawn, encouraging them to leave the coop and “free-range.”  (They actually need no encouragement.  Not ever.)

Usually, too, their food is in a food trough inside the coop.  Not now, though.  I’m hoping to starve out the rat or at least leave only the “food” in the chicken-proof rat trap.  So the girls are probably a little off their feed, so to speak.

So, as I was unlatching the gate, I said, “Go on under the coop.  We’re not going out today.  It’s nasty out.”  And, under they went, leaving me to open the gate, throw the scratch under the coop and place the food pan as far under as I could — out of the hail and rain.

I closed their gate behind me and hurried back to the house as the rain and hail stopped and the sun burst forth for a minute.  My heart was full of joy!!  English  understood!  Or was I speaking chicken?  I really thought Farmer Nyel should be more impressed.  Maybe you had to be there.

In stressful times, try nursery rhymes?

March 29th, 2020

One of the weird manifestations of this sheltering-in-place business — I lose track of what day it is.  Years ago, when I retired, I thought that might be the case but, almost immediately, appointments and events and meetings began to clot up the calendar and the days never seemed to get confused.

Now, however, the story is different.  Yesterday, I went to  our little Oysterville Post Office to mail a package and missed my window of opportunity by fifteen minutes!  I had lost sight of it being Saturday, the day of the 10:15 a.m. closure.  With that still fresh in my mind, I am aware that  this is Sunday but I’m sure the days will all blend together once again before many more go by.

So, it occurs to me that maybe I should revert to the the implied advice in nursery song, “The Mulberry Bush” — you know: ‘This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes…etc. all on a Monday morning.”  A little structure might help.  Tuesday, iron our clothes; Wednesday, mend our clothes; Thursday, sweep the floor; Friday, scrub the floor; Saturday, bake the bread; Sunday, get dressed up.

Well, right away that gives me at least two free days — forget mending and dressing up.  And why there are two days to attend to the floor is beyond me.  Maybe Thursday or Friday could be freed up, too.  And, ironing???  Not much need there…

Perhaps I need to modernize the rhyme — add some things about email and telephone and skyping  or zooming.  I’ll think about that… maybe tomorrow.  Whatever day that is.

Happily Hunkerin’ and Hardly Hankerin’!

March 28th, 2020

I really am so happy to be home with plenty of time to write, I’m beginning to lose patience with all the folks who are complaining of boredom and resorting to mindless games on Facebook to pass the time.  I know that’s not one bit fair, so I gave myself a mental exercise that might help me follow the advice of Robert Burns: O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!   

Sydney On the Road to Madrid, 1958

What if things were the other way around, and for some reason inside living  spaces were off limit?  I could go to restaurants and to movies and to concerts and coffee shops, but I couldn’t go home?  I don’t think I’d be very good at that.  I did live ‘out of a suitcase’ in Europe for a year in 1958/59.  But I was a lot younger then.  And it was a choice, not a have-to.

Thinking about it did make me realize how thankful I am that I can find an  infinite number of things to think about, to explore, and to marvel at right within my own four walls.  And with the  help of the internet, there is no dearth of entertainment and “outside” stimulus.  When I’m feeling extroverted, I can easily reach out to friends and even strangers via Facebook or Skype or email.  And if I’m feeling Greta Garbo-ish, I can find plenty of solitary pursuits.

Library Corner at Our House

So, life could be much, much worse, at least at my end of things.  I hope all my friends are finding similar ways to made that lemonade.  I think we’ll be drinking it for quite some time.