Naked Ladies All Over The Place

September 4th, 2019

Tatty-Looking Slutvana

Today I did a walkabout in the garden on my way to have a little chat with the Ladies-of-the-Coop.  I’m beginning to get anxious about their costumes for Our Grand Affair.  It’s one thing to have the 150-year-old house in order for her birthday bash.  After all, people are forgiving about the wrinkles and warts of extreme age.  But the garden?  And the girls?  Not so much.

Wing Feathers: Gone
Neck Feathers: Gone

And, of course, neither garden nor girls are in good fettle at all.  The garden is on its last leg flowering-wise and the lawn!!! OMG!  Between moles and an aborted thatch-job several years back (to say nothing of a septic project that meant a total new grass planting that went bad on the north forty) the lawn is at a low ebb.

Colchicum – “Naked Ladies”

As for the girls…  We are down to three this summer.  The Little Red Hen is looking terrific… so far.  But the other two have chosen this time to begin their molting process and they couldn’t be looking less attractive.  Today, I told them that several people are coming to Our Grand Affair specifically to say “hello” to them.  And, would they please put more effort into re-feathering between now and the 22nd.  Naked hens are not attractive.  But… chickens, as I have often mentioned, are poor listeners.  (And even poorer planners.)

Little Red – So far, lookin’ good!

Naked flower beds aren’t a great attraction, either. Right now, the few dahlias we have are looking good, but by September 22nd, I doubt that there will be a single bloom.  The daisies, of course, are gone.  So are the York Roses and most of the geraniums (thanks to the deer people).  We do have a few fall crocuses — really called “Colchicum” or, sometimes, “Naked Ladies” because they bloom after their foliage has died off.  Too few to be titillating, I’m afraid.

So now…  as Willie Nelson might say, it’s all up to those healing hands of time.  There’s a lot of that going on around here come to think of it.


Windows and Lawns and Music Oh My!

September 1st, 2019

Mark and the Seed Broadcaster

How does friendship happen?  When you think you’re merely a groupie and then get to be a host and suddenly the music becomes secondary — almost! — you suddenly realize.  We’re friends!  How could that be?  Why ever would they choose us as friends?


The Rose City Mixed Quartet was here this weekend.  They came first because Carol W. booked them to do the music for the final Vespers of the 2019 season.  They would stay here as they have always done in the past.  And we would host a Saturday evening House Concert.


And then, before you could even blink an eye, they said they wanted to be here “to help.”  And help they did!  They washed ALL of our windows inside and out.  They worked on our terrible, horrible, no good lawn — thatching, sowing, top-soiling, and watering.  They vacuumed with a much-better-than-ours vacuum cleaner that Dale’s mother sent with her regards.  (She’s in an assisted living place now and  has no use for it.)  They got rid of every cobweb in every corner of every ceiling and dusted the tops of picture frames I can’t even reach, much less see.

Cameron on the Cobweb-Hunt

Besides all that — they brought all the food for all the meals, Friday night through Sunday noon.  They brought sleeping bags which they put atop our beds so they wouldn’t leave dirty linens behind.  They even brought their own towels.  They left NO footprint in this house — except for the left-over food which is neatly packaged in our refrigerator or freezer.

Friendship doesn’t get better than that!  How do we ever reciprocate?  There is no adequate response to that question so it was left unspoken.  And that may be what true friendship is all about…  I can only hope that we can pay it forward somehow.

All My Favorites!

August 31st, 2019

Rose City Mixed Quartet

The “kids” blew in yesterday afternoon — car laden with food and clothes and printed programs and who knows what all.  Not actually our children, you understand.  In fact one or two of them might be closer in age to us than are our actual kids.  But never mind!  We would adopt the Rose City Mixed Quartet anytime!

They are in Oysterville to do Vespers on Sunday.  They are at our house to “help” us get ready for Our Grand Affair and, “by the way, while they’re at it, we could do a House Concert Saturday Night.”  (If you didn’t get the memo and would like to come, call me or drop me an email before one or two today.)

Friday Night: Animal Crackers and Chocolate Hummus

They gave me a sneak peak of this evening’s concert.  OMG!!  Twenty-one numbers and among them all of my favorites including “Little Red Riding Hood,”  “Java Jive,” and “Short People” (yes! even that one becomes a favorite when the RCMQ sings it!)  And… printed programs!!!  How spiffy is that!

Meanwhile… today’s project is the lawn — those 41+ grass-less areas left by rampaging moles and the huge patch of “scorched earth” left after an ambitious thatching project that Nyel was unable to complete a year or two ago.  I have the grass seed. I have the top soil.  But the enterprise has been on hold for the last month for lack of muscle and energy on my part.  RCMQ to the rescue!!!

And, tomorrow?  It’s time to spread ammonium sulfate once again — that “magic” nutrient that puts nitrogen in the lawn and turns it green, green, green!  Or maybe that will happen today, too.  Plus, they are on a window-washing mission.  And who knows what all else.

So, I ask you, who wouldn’t want to adopt this fun and energetic group?  We are the luckiest old folks around!  And we will be the first to say so!


I’m losing count.

August 29th, 2019

Three More!

Three weeks ago I’d have told you that the swallows on our south porch were gone.  They had raised two batches of babies in the nest precariously perched above the living room window.  First there were three birdie babes, then five, all fledged and gone.

After a week or two, I had scraped and scrubbed and cleaned up  their mess (mostly) and was planning to apply just a bit more elbow grease when…  back came Mr. and Mrs. and not just to say “hello.”  The eggs were laid and  hatched just like that!  It didn’t seem that the requisite ten days had gone by before… three new babes.  Hungry ones!

I so love to watch them.  There always seems to be a dominant one– a little bigger, a little bolder sitting right at the precipice, and no doubt a little more demanding.  Boy baby or girl baby?  It would be interesting to know.  I love it that their bills are outlined so perfectly, giving a good target for mom and dad during the feeding process.

Barn Swallow Egg

Everything I’ve read online says swallows raise one to two broods a season.  Hmmm.  Maybe these aren’t the same parents.  Maybe the original couple has decided to go into the air b&b biz.  If only they’d wear name tags, I’d know a lot more.



Being Outnumbered and Loving It!

August 28th, 2019

Photo by Tucker

Even when it’s the height of the tourist season, I do believe the critters far outnumber the humans in Oysterville.  Especially if you factor in the birds!  And the underground folks — like the mole people!  And I guess it’s because they outnumber us that they are  sort of cheeky.

Photo by Tucker

Today, for instance, two deer grazed in our garden.  They seemed to be working on the lawn so I didn’t bother shooing them off.  But, I did go outside and talk to them for a while.  They couldn’t have cared less.  That’s one thing about our Oysterville population of wild denizens — they aren’t all that wild.  They have learned that we are cupcakes when it comes to cohabitating.  We’d rather shoot with our cameras than with anything scary or lethal.

Photo by Tucker

Tucker is the best camera shooter I know of here in Oysterville.  He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and with the right camera.  (Some of us these days just have one camera — the one on our cell phone.  Not always the best choice, photo-wise.)  The lucky part of all that for the rest of us is that Tucker shares at the drop of a hat.

Photo by Tucker

The other thing is that there is a Wildlife Path that goes right through Tucker and Carol’s property.  Not that it’s marked.  But the bear and the deer and (if there were any) the antelope, know it’s there and they all (except the antelope) travel along it.  Back and forth they go, giving Tucker a chance to take his glorious photos.  And did I say that T and C put out wild bird seed every morning?  So between the four-footed people and the feathery winged ones. Tucker has a lot of subject matter at his fingertips.  Which he shares.  And some are right here on this page!



Yesterday, Today, and Maybe Tomorrow

August 27th, 2019

The Culprit – Broken Fiber Optics Cable

It irritates me beyond all measure that I’ve allowed my life to become so intertwined with technology that I can hardly proceed without it.  For starters, I’ve been trying mightily to get back into my early morning blog routine.  After all, my friend Janet depends (or used to) on reading it with her first cup of coffee each day.  By now, though, she may have cozied up to another, more reliable source of pre-dawn verbiage.

So, for the past ten days, I’ve made every effort to get something going before I start my Nurse Ratched routine with Nyel and before I go out to say “hello” to the chickens.  And every morning I am thwarted by the lack of internet service.  It’s off-again, on-again, off-again, with the modem’s internet light alternating red and green and red  from about five to seven every morning.  Then, today, no flashing green.  Solid red.  And well into the afternoon.

Internet Photo of Century Link FiberOptics connection

Several calls to Century Link (by cell phone; our land-line was also down) to get an answer to our question, “What the heck?”  Actually, we got an answer with each call — and each explanation different.  What was consistent was their hard sell for a service upgrade that “will actually lower your monthly bill.”  Balderdash!  And who cares, anyway?  That’s not the point.

Had I been able to blog early this morning, I’d have reported that our trip to Seattle to get a second opinion from the University of Washington’s Infectious Disease doctors went well.  Except for the fact that they were running way behind and we didn’t get out of there until after six (home at 10:30) — we were glad we went.

New information:  Nyel has many bone fragments in his thigh which may be causing his pain.  (I guess the orthopedic surgeon at St. Vincent’s didn’t see them on the MRI.  Or didn’t think they would cause Nyel pain.  Or didn’t think we needed to know.  )  Also new information:  It is much too early to tell whether he has chronic osteo myelitis.  He’ll go back to Seattle in eight weeks and they may be able to tell Nyel more. )   New Conclusion as a result of the visit:  We are through with the Infectious Disease team at St. Vincent’s.

Bureaucracy Cartoon

What does the Providence Medical Group have in common with Century Link?  Hint:  Two words; the first begins with R and the second with B.  Give up?

Answer: Raging Bureaucracy.  Rampant Baloney.






Conflicting Thoughts and A Long Day

August 26th, 2019

Travel Assistance

Today Nyel and I head for the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle for a second opinion about his “ID”(Infectious Disease) diagnosis and treatment.  At the present time, our understanding (which is admittedly confused) is that he is harboring at least three infections in his fragile old body — two (with complicated names) in his thigh in the area of the surgery, and one (chronic myelitis) in his bones, also in the area of his surgery.

After eight weeks of antibiotics by IV in the hospital, Nyel was released without any follow-up medication.  In the time since, he has been in various degrees of pain — from the excruciating-impossible-to-sleep-and-drugs-won’t-touch-it pain to the minimal “only-when-I-move” variety.  He mostly has no appetite and no energy.  And, of course, thus far no one can say if any or all of those symptoms are caused by the infections or by healing or by something as yet undiagnosed.

Meanwhile, the ID team at St. Vincent’s has given conflicting information as to Nyel’s ongoing treatment.  Twice (and by two different doctors) he has been told that they were doing cultures to determine exactly which antibiotic(s) would be most effective, and twice it was decided to let his own immune system deal with the infections for fear he would develop resistance to a drug he might need in the future.

Causing us further angst is the fact that car travel, even when involving short distances (like the drive to Nahcotta!)  plunges him back into a miasma of leg cramping and unbearable pain.  Or so it seems, though we don’t know why.  Right now (and for the past thirty-six hours) he is essentially pain-free after three sleepless nights in a row.  Both of us feel in our bones (so to speak) that the trip to Seattle is likely to have a dire effect on his fragile pain-free-for-the-moment status-quo.  But… on the other hand…

Wound Care Supplies

The final say, of course, is Nyel’s and he feels strongly that we need to pursue this avenue.  So off we go in an hour or two.  It will be an up-and-back trip today.  A three o’clock appointment.  Picking up food as we go and eating in the car.  Only one car exit for Nyel — at the Medical Center.  More than one in-and-out is way too hard on him and just the thought of staying over night anywhere is a nightmare — wound care and dressings and transfers from wheelchair to walker to who-knows what.

It will be a long day.


Gathering My Wits For Vespers

August 25th, 2019

Flowers at Vespers

Once again (and for the final time this year), it is my turn to do the “Oysterville Moment” at Vespers.  We began calling it that some years ago for lack of any other appropriate designation.  It’s the five or six-minute time period at the beginning of Vespers which began as an introduction of the participants when my folks started the summer Sunday Vespers services in the church.

Mom scheduled the ministers and organists and musicians and ushers.  Dad went over in the morning and swept the church and took  flowers from his garden.  He, also, stood at the door to welcome people, passed out the bulletins and, if needed, introduced the participants to one another.  Mom began the services with the welcome and often told a little bit of history about the church or about Oysterville.  People loved her stories.

Cyndy Hayward’s Oysterville Moment

After dad died, Nyel took on the custodial jobs, I did the flowers and helped mom with scheduling.  She still enjoyed telling her stories at the beginning of each service but when she could no longer manage, I began filling in.  That’s probably when we started calling that  portion of the program the”Oysterville Moment.”

Nyel and I had been “carrying on the tradition” (as they say) for about twenty years when it occurred to me that this really should be a responsibility shared by all the members of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.  Gradually, more and more residents took on one or two Oysterville Moments and then, in an amazing stroke of good fortune, Carol Wachsmuth volunteered (or did I do some arm-twisting?) to take on the scheduling job!  She is a master at it and I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the audience, responsibility-free, right along with almost everyone else.

Full House at Vespers

Today, however, it’s my turn to do the Oysterville Moment.  It’s my second time this summer, the first being just two weeks ago.  And, of course, my age being what it is, I can’t remember what the heck I talked about last time.  If I repeat myself, will anyone notice?  Probably not.  Most of the heads out there in the audience are gray like mine, after all, and their memories may not be much better than mine.  But… just in case, I think I’ll call Carol and ask.

Farmer Nyel is back on duty!

August 24th, 2019

Nyel Approaches The Coop

Yesterday, Nyel completed a trip that he began on February 28th.  That was the evening (my birthday!) that he fell on the way out to the chicken coop to collect the day’s eggs and say goodnight to the girls.  It was the evening he fractured his hip which ultimately led to several surgeries, many weeks in the hospital, and, ultimately, to no hip at all.

This time, it was broad daylight and he approached the coop from his regal position on his new electric all-terrain wheelchair.  He had gone out the garage door, up the middle of the street (well, it’s Oysterville!), through the gates that barricade the cannon, and over the expanse of abnormally mole-ridden lawn!  He had done it with the singular nonchalance and aplomb that I associate with the bearing of kings!

Farmer Nyel Back On Duty!

An electric wheelchair!!!  Can you imagine?  We certainly couldn’t — not in our wildest dreams.  And then, for reasons that will probably always remain mysterious, we were handed a huge check from unknown benefactors.  They must be people we know — why else would anyone just give money to a little old couple from Oysterville?  To say we were gobsmacked — both of us — doesn’t begin to describe it.

And then… how to honor this gift in the best possible way?  Weeks before, we had briefly considered getting Nyel a sturdy electric wheelchair so that he could safely resume his rightful place on the property as “Farmer Nyel.”  But we had discarded that thought almost immediately.  Too spendy and, perhaps, not really necessary.

But, now?  The more we talked, the more it seemed like the perfect idea.  And so. yesterday, Farmer Nyel was back on chicken duty!  And rhododendron-trimming duty.  And if he’s not careful, mail-fetching and even grocery-shopping duty!  (I jest, but the batteries — two of them — will take him twelve miles before they need to be recharged.  I’m sure Jack’s is only about five miles away…)

We are SO grateful for the generosity of whoever you are out there!  You have no idea how the atmosphere in and out of the coop has changed!  Overnight!  The girls and I are ever-grateful, to say nothing of Farmer Nyel.

Just when I thought I could breathe again…

August 23rd, 2019

Jay and the Finished Product!

Yesterday, our friend Jay finished painting the east (the front) of our house.  It was the last portion of the house to be done.  He’s refurbished each side over the past few years and saved “the best for last” — or something like that.  It is definitely the side with the most gingerbread, the highest gable peaks and, from my point of view, the scariest ladder approaches.  I mostly couldn’t look.

Consequently, I have no photographs of Jay at work on the house, much to my chagrin.  In fact, the only picture I took of Jay-at-work this time around was one of him painting the post that holds up the bird feeder!  It was a complete serendipity painting-wise — not at all part of the plan.  “I just thought it should look nice for your Grand Affair,” Jay said.  What a guy!

Tucker at the bottom; Jay at the top

But even as he was beginning to pack up his truck yesterday, Tucker was crossing the street to talk with him.  Apparently, the two had talked before and Jay had agreed to use his long extension ladder to climb up to the steeple and have a look at the church bell.  It sometimes gets stuck in the upside-down position and, for several years, has sounded more like a cowbell than a church bell.  Tucker had asked Jay if he’d take a look.

So it was that yesterday afternoon, Jay climbed to the top of his ‘leventy-‘leven foot ladder, exited at the top and knelt on the outer edge of the steeple to take a look.  (My palms are sweating as I write this; I can’t believe I actually took a picture of “Jay at the Top!”)  Unfortunately, he was in his painting-whites and he sort of blends in with the steeple but, he’s documented none-the-less!

His report:  the bell-rope is very frayed and needs replacing and the bell is iron, not bronze, so it has become rusty since 1892 — which may account for the ‘cowbell’ sound.  “Every time you ring it, a shower of rust comes down.  Eventually, it might sound better,” Jay laughed.

Tucker will talk to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation Board of Trustees.  His recommendation:  replace the rope and then ring the bell on every possible occasion to see if we can improve the sound.  Yay!   I know the brides and grooms would be pleased (they often ask for permission) and wouldn’t it be great to toll the bell before every Vespers service in the summer?  I’m all for it!