The three Rs — Resolve, Review, Regroup

November 7th, 2018


There were four candidates we felt passionate about – Pam Nogueira Maneman, Debbie Oakes, Robin Souvenir, and Carolyn Long.  With all but the mail-in ballots counted this morning, Debbie and Robin have won, but not Pam and Carolyn.  I am totally ecstatic and totally disconsolate at the same time.

It’s a difficult set of emotions, but I’m sure there are many others feeling similarly.  The morning after elections is never for the faint of heart.  Not for the candidates, certainly, and not for their supporters.  It’s a day when Resolve-with-a-Capital R needs to take front and center – Resolve by the winners to carry out their campaign promises and Resolve by the losers to continue working toward the next election opportunity.  Too, I think the other R words will kick in soon – Review and Regroup.  What could we supporters have done better?  How can we organize for what comes next?   And how can we be helpful in the meantime?


It’s times like this that I really question my proclivity towards the cup being half empty.  I tend to want to wallow in the coulda, shoulda, woulda points of view instead of rejoicing in some of the good news statistics – record voter turnout for a mid-term, a change in the color of the House of Representatives, a number of gubernatorial upsets, and probably more.  I am torn between wanting to stay glued to the news and wanting to just tend to the chickens and rejoice in our newly mowed lawn (thanks Beach Time Landscaping!). Today is one of those days that I’m so glad we live far from that madding crowd.

Stand Up Straight and Other Bad Advice

November 6th, 2018

Security Guard Richard Schroeder, 2017

Richard Schroeder makes the best ever Security Guard for the 6×6 Art Auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  He is a natural.  He stands motionless for hours at a time.  He remains expressionless.  His mirrored dark glasses look… well, ominous.  And, this year, the handcuffs dangling at his waist cause most of the riff-raff to keep their distance.

In fact, when Richard toppled over the other night while on duty, not a single riff or raff took advantage of the situation.  No one stormed the art-filled cases.  No one snuck along on tippy-toe silently taking artwork off the silent auction tables.  In fact, a respectful hush fell over the crowd.  Richard the Indomitable had collapsed.  Whatever had happened?

I messaged his wife Dian the next morning to see how he was doing.  Her response: “Sydney and Nyel – thank you for your concern.  He’s ok, heck of a goose egg & probably two black eyes, about a 2 inch cut on his head.  No stitches, they just closed the laceration with surgical glue.  He basically fainted… vasovagal syncope … drop in blood pressure, dehydration, no food & standing too long without movement.  All tests were negative re: any other damage but we’ll be checking in with our primary physician tomorrow.”

The Presbyterian Choir with The Singing Saints, 2007

Whew!  And click, click, click.  It all fell into place, just like that.  Vasovagal syncope is something we warn school kids about – or at least we used to back when I was teaching.  With little kids we usually didn’t use the “vasovagal syncope” words.  We just said something like “Don’t let your knees lock. Keep them a little bit bent.”  Those words weren’t heard often – mostly just before a class was to go on stage and stand on the bleachers through a few songs at the Christmas program or the Spring Sing.

I can’t remember if we’d warn them that they might faint if they forgot and stiffened their legs.  It was all an oversimplification, anyway, but in the 39 years of school programs I attended, we never had a kid go down.  I wish someone has given Richard a little pre-performance pep talk.  It was usually the music teacher who did it at Ocean Park and Long Beach Schools.

Richard and Betsy – Before the Fall

According to one online site:
Vasovagal syncope (vay-zoh-VAY-gul SING-kuh-pee) occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. It may also be called neurocardiogenic syncope. The vasovagal syncope trigger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness. Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment. But it’s possible you may injure yourself during a vasovagal syncope episode. Your doctor may recommend tests to rule out more serious causes of fainting, such as heart disorders.

The Well-Guarded Culprits

Before you faint due to vasovagal syncope, you may experience some of the following:
     Pale skin
     Tunnel vision — your field of vision narrows so that you see only what’s in front of you
     Feeling warm
     A cold, clammy sweat
     Blurred vision
During a vasovagal syncope episode, bystanders may notice:
     Jerky, abnormal movements
     A slow, weak pulse
     Dilated pupils
Recovery after a vasovagal episode generally begins in less than a minute. However, if you stand up too soon after fainting — within about 15 to 30 minutes — you’re at risk of fainting again.

UPDATE FROM DIAN:  ” … turns out he did have a concussion. Now dealing with post concussion symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, nausea etc.”

We are so sorry.  Next year:  a Security Guard for the Security Guard?


Mouth Watering Disappointment

November 5th, 2018

Tried and True

There’s no arguing with the fact that I’m on record as not liking to cook.  But what I seldom say and Nyel often reminds me is that I CAN cook and, not only that, I have several signature dishes – recipes that I brought in my dowry and that we both really like.  Recipes that seem to taste best when I make them.  Just sayin’…

So, yesterday we were both looking forward to spareribs.  I don’t do them often, but when I do, they’re bitchin’ as they say.  We had bought two big packages of baby back ribs at CostCo earlier this fall and had one package for dinner that very night.  The second package went in the freezer until day before yesterday when I put it in the refrigerator to thaw.


It was a shrink-wrap package and when I cut it open yesterday afternoon, the smell practically knocked me out.  OMG!  Talk about tainted meat!  I called Nyel – not to corroborate what my burning eyes and running nose already told me, but so that he knew that I wasn’t being overly persnickety.  That’s an ongoing issue in our house – I have rules about left-overs and other questionable food products; Nyel will eat almost anything.

“Throw it out!” he said.  I think that was a first.  But the garbage truck doesn’t come until a week from Wednesday and I surely didn’t want to smell up the neighborhood in the meantime.  So, the ribs are re-wrapped and back in the freezer until garbage day.

Next Time…

Meanwhile… I’m pretty much off the idea of ribs for a while.  And, no.  I’m not taking the package back to CostCo.  Number one, it’s not worth the effort of keeping them frozen on the way and, further, I wouldn’t want to inadvertently (or even advertently) expose anyone else to that odor.  It’s the second bad meat experience we’ve had with CostCo and, as far as I’m concerned, they won’t get a third opportunity.

Oh… and about dinner last night.  Nyel had made a huge batch of Coleslaw to go with the ribs.  It was delicious with our tuna fish sandwiches – tuna compliments of our friend Phil Coffin.  Now if only Mike Karvia was still raising pigs, we’d know just where to go for our next batch of ribs!

In the Thick of Proud

November 4th, 2018

Tucker and Sydney

If I’d had any buttons, I’d have burst them for sure.  Last night at the 6×6 Art Auction our friend and neighbor’s oil painting went for the next-to-highest price.  And, really, if you are at all familiar with the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’s annual fund-raiser, you know that the sock monkey painting (always submitted by Leslie Hall Lipe and always acquired by Karla Nelson and always fetching top dollar) is in a class by itself.

There was a serious bidding war for Tucker’s painting.  It came down to two people on opposite sides of the room and, unbeknownst to them during the bidding tumult, they actually know one another.  In the end, it was Kenny Tam who took “Oysterville Regatta” home with him and his smile was as big as if he had won the actual race.

Won by Kenny Tam

It was a wonderful ending to a fabulous evening.  This was the ninth annual and I think it was the best one yet.  Certainly, it was the most crowded necessitating opening up a side-room-storage area and setting up several tables there.  Auctioneer Bruce Peterson immediately dubbed it the “VIP Room” and hinted that next year it will include a hot tub – or was it a massage table?  In true VIP fashion, the bidding was hot and heavy from that area, and the Wine Tasting Dinner for Six donated by the Shelburne Inn went for more than $1,000 to a man rumored to have a 6,000-bottle wine cellar in his South Carolina home.  Wow!

Our table was in the middle-ish on the north side of the big room.  We had reserved it hoping to accommodate Nyel’s wheelchair.  It was perfect!  Bill and Sue Grennan, along with Tucker and Carol shared the table with us and I felt absolutely honored to be sitting next to the artist, himself!  They always say “pride cometh before a fall,” but I don’t think taking pride in a friend’s accomplishments is quite the same.

Sock Monkey of the Wild Northwest

The whole evening was glorious – the art seemed better than ever, there were lots and lots of friends in attendance, the food and beverages were perfect, and the staff did everything so seamlessly, you’d think this was a daily activity.  And, while the entire audience was full of quiet concern when “Security Guard” Richard Schroeder toppled over, even that event was handled smoothly.  Dr. Weaver (whose wife is always a contributing artist) was in attendance, the EMTs came quickly and, as the audience clapped, Richard gave a wave from the gurney as he was carried out.  The last we heard, he should be fine.

And thanks, Tucker, for giving Oysterville’s Regatta a solid place in the local art world.  Can you hear us calling for “More!  More!”?

They don’t make ’em like they used to…

November 3rd, 2018

A 1945 Classic

It was a small group of Friday Nighters who gathered last evening – just the right number to have an in-depth discussion or two.  Mainly we talked about movies – old ones.  But, we began our stroll down memory lane with last year’s Academy Award winning Best Picture – “The Shape of Water.”  Those of us who saw it were pretty much underwhelmed.

To me it seemed like a poorer version of “The Enchanted Cottage” – 1945 with Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young.  That was another “modern day” fairy tale with an impossible happily-ever-after ending.  It was so much better than “The Shape of Water.”  But we all conceded that sometimes you can’t go back again – some of those oldies are better left in our memory banks.

Then we talked about the movies we’ve seen over and over – the ones that do hold up.  “Rear Window” and “The Birds” – actually most of the Alfred Hitchcock movies.  And “Casablanca” and “Gaslight” and “The African Queen” –  anything with Ingrid Bergman or, for that matter, Humphrey Bogart or Katherine Hepburn or Gregory Peck or…

Scene from 1952 “I Love Lucy” episode, “Job Switching”

And there were the musicals – “Oklahoma” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Cabaret” and “Meet Me in Saint Louis” and how about all the Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly movies and which partners did we like them best with.  And, in that genre we agreed that some of the more modern films like the first “Mama Mia” were holding up pretty well, too

From there we segued into early television.  We all felt that most of our once-upon-a-time favorites seem dated now.  Nyel had recently seen an episode of “Wagon Train” that he found pretty lame.  On the other hand, we thought that some of the classic TV comedies – “I Love Lucy” or “The Carol Burnett Show” – anything with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman – still can make us laugh until we cry.  “They don’t make ’em like they used to,” we said.  Over and over.

“Dick Tracy” character, B.O. Plenty introduced in 1957

This morning Nyel and I repeated that same mantra when I mentioned, “I don’t seem to feel my usual sparkle today,” which led us to Sparkle Plenty, Dick Tracy’s daughter-in-law, and her father Bob Oliver “B.O.” Plenty which led us to Pigpen and the other “Peanuts” characters…  and isn’t Prince Valiant still going strong more’s the pity?  And so, our day began.  With, I might add, the full realization that we aren’t quite what we used to be either.  It makes me wonder how our past selves would hold up if we could rewind the film…

Just sayin’…

November 2nd, 2018

With the news that the Pentagon is sending 5,100 troops to our southern border to beef up the 2,100 National Guardsmen already there, I wondered once again what the administration’s problem is with refuges, migrants, immigration etc.  To me, it must boil down to a very unhappy First Family life.

Our nominal leader has been married three times.  So have I, so I don’t hold that against him.  It just takes some of us a few practice sessions to get it right.  However, two of the titular honcho’s wives have been immigrants and still had immigrant status when he married them.  They were here in the United States legally, but they were immigrants and didn’t achieve citizenship until well after their marriages to the rich man.  Just sayin’…

His first three children were born, in fact, before their mother became a U.S. citizen.  However, since they were born in New York (and since their father is a U.S. citizen) they also have citizenship status.  Still, I can’t help but pause here to think about the 14th amendment which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”   Our nominal leader this week proposed ending that status.  Granted, his “kids” are safe but…  just sayin’…

Then, there’s that whole “chain migration” thing.  In August the nominal man’s Slovenian in-laws became U.S. citizens through the family-based reunification program which their lawyer said is “the bedrock” of our immigration process.  They were sponsored by their daughter, the “first lady” of our country.  Tweeted her nominal husband:  “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now!  Some people come in and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”… just sayin’.

Of course… there’s always the issue of Fake News to fall back on.  I’m not sure which of these peculiar situations might be fake – the wives, the children, or the in-laws.  Or is it the nominal head of household, himself? … just sayin’.

Longing to Bring Back that Baby!

November 1st, 2018

According to what I have read (and what I also remember) the “feminist movement” has swept us up in three big waves.  The first was more in my grandmother’s and mother’s time in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  It focused, primarily, on the right to vote.

The second wave began in the 1960s and lasted for about 20 years.  It dealt more with domestic matters focusing on issues such as sexuality, family, the workplace, and reproductive rights. Beginning in the 1990s, so-called third wave feminists embraced individualism and diversity and tried to redefine what it means to be a feminist.

And now, presumably, we are into the fourth wave which, according to one researcher, “combines politics, psychology and spirituality in an overarching vision of change.”  Lordy! Lordy!  What a bunch of gobbledygook.  I don’t know what else “researchers” say, but I would bet dollars to donuts that the entire feminist movement is responsible for its own share of divisiveness in our society.  Just the term “fight for women’s rights” is a big turn-off for me.  I’m not in favor of fighting, no matter what.

I truly think we threw out the baby with the bath.  Along with the push for equality among the sexes, there was some spillover into other areas – or at least that’s what I think caused the reduction in services that – alas! – we once took for granted.  For instance, I personally draw the line at pumping my own gas.  I will drive clear from Oysterville to Astoria when my tank is low rather than avail myself of our local do-it-yourself fueling stations.  It’s not that I can’t do it.  I don’t want to.  I really think it should be a pro-choice thing, don’t you?

The Fun Next Door

October 31st, 2018

Published in 1939 by Houghton Mifflin Company

When the equipment rolled into town the other day and stopped at the house next door, I couldn’t help wishing that the Oysterville School was still up and running.  The activity that the huge machinery promised would have been the best recess entertainment ever, and the view from the playground across the street would have been just about perfect.

As it is, there has been no regular school in session here since 1957.  That’s when our School District No. 1 consolidated with Ocean Park, Long Beach, and Ilwaco to become part of the Ocean Beach School District.  Gradually, the student population dwindled until there were no longer school-aged children in the village.  But… if there were, they’d love the activity at the Hampson House next door!

Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne

The hub-bub immediately reminded me of a story I used to read to my son Charlie and, also, to the primary-aged children I taught – Mike Mulligan and his Steam Virginia Lee Burton.  Mike bragged that his steam shovel, his beloved Mary Anne, could dig as much in a day as a hundred men could dig in a week.  They get one last chance to prove it by digging a cellar for the new town hall.

They begin at sunrise, and first to come to watch is a little boy.  Work continues as the sun makes its inexorable way across the sky and the crowd gathers.  Gradually, the whole town is watching as Mary Anne and Mike complete the job just as the sun is setting.  Unhappily, though, Mike has not left a way for Mary Anne to exit the new basement.  It is the little boy who suggests the happily-ever-after solution to the problem.

Well… we don’t have a little boy in town to watch and we don’t have a crowd of villagers, either.  I think there could have been a dozen of us in town yesterday – all busy with our own lives and some of us not even clear about the reason for the activity.  “A new septic system?” one neighbor asked.  “No, I think it’s for the foundation of a new addition,” someone else said.  As for us, we are content to take a “time will tell” attitude.

Nyel, Mrs. Crouch, and the Great Pumpkin

October 30th, 2018

Nyel’s Left Leg

Yesterday’s trip to Rebound netted Nyel a good report on progress thus far.  He was dismissed within a half hour and headed home minus the rest of his stitches, accompanied by copies of his latest X-rays and an appointment in four more weeks.  Plus, of course, the stern admonition, “Put no weight on your left foot.  None.”

The X-ray reveals eight (although the Dr. said there are more than nine) spikey looking screws that affix the metal plate to his shinbone.  Not a pretty sight!  If we hadn’t felt ready for Halloween before, we do now!  Maybe, like our ghostly Mrs. Crouch, the scary looking bone and its accoutrements is invisible, but we know it’s there!  All the time.

Spotty Delivery by the Great Pumpkin

We are also about ready to blame Mrs. C. for the disappearance of Nyel’s wedding ring.  Never mind that he’s lost enough weight so that, for the first time in 30-some years, it can just off his finger.  The fact that we’ve looked everywhere to no avail makes us highly suspicious that our ghostly resident is involved.  She’s usually not mean – just mischievous.

On the missing wedding ring front… Don, our clever plumber friend is coming later today armed with a camera with which he can search our garbage disposal without having to take it apart.  We’ve looked high and low in all the likely and unlikely places to no avail so this will be a last-ditch effort.  I am hopeful.  Nyel noticed that his ring finger was bare while drying his hands right after washing them at the kitchen sink.  We’ve not used the disposal since so… maybe.

Our Forever Pumpkin!

Meanwhile, the Great Pumpkin was apparently busy over the weekend scattering cheerful looking gourds hither and thither.  Actually, all the scattering was thither.  Like last year and the year before, no pumpkins were left in front of our house or the other pioneer Oysterville households.  We, like Linus, are not on the Great Pumpkin’s radar.  The good news, of course, is that we don’t need to deal with the rotting aftermath.

And besides, one of our friends brought us a year-round knitted pumpkin that is the perfect décor for our kitchen table!  Between that and Mrs. Crouch and Nyel’s awesome legbone, we are definitely ready for tomorrow!

Here you go — everything but the sound!

October 29th, 2018

Randal Bays

Thanks to Tucker’s good eye and fine camera, you too can see what last night’s concert-goers also heard.  It was grand!

John Coynw

There were jigs and reels, hornpipes and waltzes, and songs in Johns soft Irish accent.  (Thouh he’s lived in Boston many years, the sounds of Limerick  still dominate his singing and speaking voice.  Lovely!)

House Concert

Randal has been gracing us with Irish music for twenty years, now.  He’s often here with his family — wife Susan Waters and sons Willie and Owen Bays.  Together the four of them comprise the Bays Family Irish Band and we had hoped that they would also be here to add yet another element to our evening of Irish music.

John with Flat-back Bouzouki

But, alas!  Sunday evening concerts in Oysterville aren’t conducive to Monday morning work and school schedules in Olympia, so Randal and John were on their own.  Ours was the third (or maybe the fourth) concert they had done since John flew into PDX from Boston on Friday afternoon.

Tonight they are scheduled for another — this time in Olympia.  It will be professionally recorded, perhaps with an eye to a new CD.  In 2004 (OMG — fifteen years ago?) Randal and Roger Landes brought a sound engineer to Oysterville and recorded their album “House to House” which featured our house on the cover and (inadvertently!) our mantle clock chiming during one of their tunes.

Randal with Guitar

Another of Randal’s CDs, “Oyster Light” features Randal on the albumn cover, standing down at the end of our lane by the bay with an incredibly soft light reflecting from the water.  The picture was taken by Willie Bays who was then nine years old, so it must have been in 2010 or so.  Wow!

The Audience

Last night’s concert here was video-recorded — not professionally, but by Randal, himself.  Before tonight’s concert, he told me, he and John will take a look and listen to see what tweaks or changes they want to make for tonight’s recording session.  So, I guess you could say that we were a rehearsal for the next album.  Who knew!

Thanks Randal and John.  Come back soon and bring your families!  Maybe  summertime!