Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Here in Oysterville — Duck for Dinner!

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

Hunters Chris and Larry Freshley

I couldn’t have been more pleased when I answered the door yesterday.  There was my neighbor Chris holding a zip-lock bag of pure Willapa Bay Goodness.  Duck!  All breasted out and ready to prepare for dinner!  It was a déjà vu, of sorts, to the days when he and his brother Larry were kids here and my grandparents were the recipients of occasional gifts of hunting bounty.  Later, it was my folks’ who were on the receiving end.  And now us!!!

There was a time (when we lived in our bay house south of here) that Nyel went duck hunting each fall.  Over the years, our little vestibule had its share of ducks hanging in wait and Nyel’s duck dinners were fabulous.  Too, our next-door neighbor in those days, Dobby, was (and remains) the King of the Duck Hunters and watching his well-trained dogs do their job was one of the pleasures of the fall season.  Nyel and I sorely miss that part of our lives – not the part between bringing the ducks home and seasoning the breasts for dinner, though.  Chris’s arrival with that zip-lock bag was like a visit from a God of the Hunt!

Duck Hunter Dobby

Hunting season here in Oysterville is one of the most nostalgic times of the year for me.  Hearing that pop-pop-pop of gunfire out on the bay is all tied up with the traditions of our Oysterville lifestyle.  My great-grandfather hunted out there – as a necessity, not a sport.  His sons, including my grandfather Harry, the same.  Harry’s sons Edwin and Willard, ditto.  And once-upon-a-time, Nyel.  When I told Chris that we were especially grateful because Nyel’s hunting days are probably over, his (typically guy) response was, “All he needs is a good retriever.”  Music to Nyel’s dog-deprived (he thinks) ears!

I know that some of our neighbors take umbrage with the duck-hunting out on the bay.  I’m not sure whether it’s an environmental/ecological sort of concern or a belief in a no-kill policy or a vegan thing.  I respect their right to those feelings – whatever they are – but this is Oysterville, after all.  Far less populated (if it’s a safety issue) than ever in its history, and a place where hunting has been part of the landscape (so to speak) since the beginning.  When the time comes that none of Oysterville’s residents have deep roots in the community – no genetic tendencies toward hunting on the bay – perhaps that will be the time to speak out.  Meanwhile… let’s hear it for duck dinners right from our front forty!

Taking A Stand

Friday, December 8th, 2017

This afternoon at three o’clock, a small group of people will be gathering at Jack’s Corner in Ocean Park to display their solidarity with our Hispanic community.  Some will carry signs.  All are protesting the siege upon our neighbors that is being carried out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the dreaded gestapo-likened force known simply as ICE.  All of us are invited to join them.

The group had hoped to gather in Okie’s Sentry parking lot, but the owner refused permission, telling them that “getting involved—could be bad for business.”  Never mind that at least two of the arrests by ICE in recent months have taken place in that very parking lot. According to the woman who spoke with him, “The owner said he shared our concerns but his father and grandfather had made it a policy not to get politically involved which I didn’t find too heartwarming……three generations of men unwilling to take a stand.”

All of which begs the question that ICE agents seem to operate out of that very parking lot.  (When concerned citizens asked last summer if Okie’s couldn’t ask ICE agents to leave, the assistant manager said the parking lot was open to the public so the federal government could not be barred.)  Was that staying uninvolved?  Was it considered good or bad for business?  Just sayin’…

I commend all of the folks who are gathering today.  I understand that some signs will say “50 Good Neighbors Taken by ICE !!” and “Tell Congress the Peninsula needs our Hispanic workers”.  There will be handouts available with contact information for Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, and Jaime Herrera Beutler.  Democracy-in-action doesn’t get very much more “grass roots” than in Ocean Park, Washington!

Coming Soon!

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Rosas (Courtesy Gladys Diaz)

It’s hard for me to think of myself or my neighbors as “activists” but, I guess that is what interested, trying-to-help citizens are called these days.  The term seems too strident to my old-fashioned ears.  I’m not one to carry signs and gather in groups on the streets of the capital – or even on the streets of Long Beach.  But I do want to speak out.  To build awareness.  To effect change.  So… I write.

Last summer and into fall, I interviewed members of our Hispanic community – victims and their families who have been under siege by ICE.  There have been nearly 50 arrests here on the Long Beach Peninsula in the last year or so – a higher per-capita number than in any other part of our state.  Why here?  Why these hard-working men and women trying to provide for their families here and, often, for their relatives in poverty-stricken areas of Mexico?  Why?  They are not the “criminals” our new president promised to round up.  Not the people I talked to.  Not those who ICE has targeted, stalked, and harassed here on the Peninsula.

Stories from the Heart

Like so many who were aware of what was happening, I wanted to help.  So… with the editor’s blessing and support, I wrote a series for the Chinook Observer that I called “Stories from the Heart.”  Each of the fourteen stories was based on an interview with an ICE victim or a family-member and each was accompanied by a ‘sidebar’ of factual information about one aspect or another of the current immigration situation here in our ‘land of the free.’  Erin Glenn, with close ties to the Hispanic community, served as my interpreter during the interviews and as my ‘sounding board’ throughout the process.

The third story I wrote centered around Gladys, the first mother in the area who was arrested and deported.  Her long-time partner, Rosas, talked with me at length and, given the opportunity to use a pseudonym, told me that his nickname “Rosas” would be fine.  Little did any of us know that by using his nickname, we would be culpable in Rosas’ own arrest just a week ago?  And who knew that by identifying him in that way, ICE may have violated his free speech rights?  And who knew that his story would go viral – picked up first by the Seattle Times, then by AP, and hard on the heels of that, by the international press?

Gladys and Rosas’ Story

Meanwhile, Madeline Moore (one of the busiest women I know!) has developed a GoFundMe site for Rosas.  It should be up and running in a day or two.  Look for it under the heading “Help the Gutierrez Family.”  I’ll post a link as soon as it is finalized!

P.S.  Here it is:

While Farmer Nyel was away…

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Pre-game Treats

Tetherball!  Carol taught those chickens to play tetherball!  Or more accurately, tethercabbage!  It might be Erik’s fault.  He volunteered to come up and clean out the chicken coop while we were off in Hospital Land, and Carol asked him if she could observe.  So she’ll know what to do next time.  (Please God.  Don’t let there be a next time.  Not a hospital next time.  Not soon, anyway.)

Carol reported that Erik regaled her with chicken stories while he was mucking out the coop.  And he told her that chickens like to play.  “Who knew?” she wrote me.  “Not I,” said the Farmer’s wife.  I learned about chicken ethics from that Little Red Hen – remember?  The one that wouldn’t let anyone else have any of the bread she baked because they wouldn’t help do the work.  I thought those Feathered Ladies were all about work… not play

Ready! Set! Play!

But, Carol was intrigued and decided to convert part of their run into a tetherball court.  I think that was done on Saturday or Sunday.  When we got home Monday evening, Tucker reported that he and Carol have not yet been privileged to see a game – or even a practice – but about a quarter inch of surface cabbage is missing.  Apparently pecked away during a righteous scrimmage.

Farmer Nyel and I have been trying to think if we’ve seen any playful tendencies among our girls over the years and we are sad to report that we haven’t noticed a one.  They love to work beside me in the garden and they are very curious about human visitors.  They are not crazy about any of the four-legged sorts that occasionally come around, though, and we could make a good case for their skills at hide and seek in those instances.  Otherwise… not so much.

Game Aftermath

One of our girls is in full molt just now – a legitimate explanation for No Eggs on her part.  Erik also says that when one hen enters molting mode, the others are often sympathetic and stop laying in some sort of fowl support.  Who knew?  And, who ever suspected that our friend Erik was a chicken whisperer?  Good to know…

The Joys (and woes?) of Homecoming!

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Moon over the Bay

We rolled into Oysterville about 6:30 last evening – the full moon in all her splendor over the bay, lighting up our house and the church in perfect Christmas card form!  Nyel’s discharge had been a bit of a surprise.  We had last heard “a day or two” and then suddenly, we were on our way!  Nyel is the best he’s been in almost a year and we are optimistic that we can keep him that way.  Meanwhile…

There was a moment’s panic when I couldn’t find the car which was in the Valet Parking Lot.  It had been accessible throughout Nyel’s stay and, at ten dollars a day, was probably the best parking bargain in all of Seattle!

Valet Parking at UW Medical Center

But when I schlepped the first load out the hospital front doors, down the escalator and across the underground walkway… no car!  Not where it had been for the past (almost) two weeks! And no one ‘on duty’ anywhere!  ‘Security’ to the rescue!  They found my car and assured me that I could just leave – no charge for the weeks we’d been there!  “It’s Sunday.  Free on Sunday!”  Yes, but…   No amount of saying “I’m perfectly willing to pay…” worked.  Wow!  A new spin on Home Free!

It’s always a little bit scary to come home after a longish absence.  Did the dishwasher fail and will we have to replace a water-soaked floor?  Was there a cold snap and did our pipes freeze?  And what about the house plants (which usually, thank goodness, revive)?  But, thus far this year, in our fifteen returns home after Nyel’s hospitalizations, all has been well.  Until last night!

Wow! Say what?

Our freezer door had not been closed tightly – an ongoing problem because of a leaky ice-maker which causes an ice build-up behind the pull-out drawer which can’t be pulled out all the way because the door won’t open wide enough because… all of which is too complex for human understanding.  Especially the part that goes, “Why didn’t we take care of this a long time ago?”  So, it was empty the freezer, scrape out the frost, sop up the water, and (this morning) call J&S Appliances.  (My inclination was to get a new refrigerator but Nyel’s practical side kicked in.)

On the plus side, when I weighed myself this morning, the scale said 54.9!  A bit of a shock until I realized that Nyel had changed the weight read-out to kilograms.  Translation, 119.9 pounds.  Yay! A loss of 4.9 pounds since last I checked.  I credit the lousy hospital food of the past few months plus the four (or maybe six) block walk back and forth to the cafeteria at the UW Medical Center.  This is a hard way to get back to my once-upon-a-time fighting weight but… only 2.8 kilos to go!!

Poor, Thirsty Fern!

So… on balance… Dorothy was absolutely right.  There is definitely no place like home

Special Delivery!

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Mail Service!

According to the patient, “You know you’ve been in the hospital too long when you get a package via the USPS!”  Jorivic, Nyel’s Personal Care Assistant, said that in all the years he’d worked here at the UW Medical Center, this was a first!  It was big excitement up and down the hall!

It was from our Portland/Seaview friend, Ann, whose note said:  “Since I can’t bring the chocolate in person, the mail will have to do!  And ‘do’ it did!  Nyel didn’t waste a minute getting to the heart of the matter – two hefty bars of dark chocolate!  His favorite.

He kindly offered me some, but tempted though I was, I demurred.  That very morning, I had wakened to a situation that I very dimly remember happening to me once before, way back in high school.  A zit on the very end of my nose!!  Nyel, in his typical, loving way, put the best possible spin on it by christening me “Rudolph!”  No chocolate for me for a while!

Several other visitors in the last ten days have endeared themselves by bringing dark chocolate.  Nyel, ever generous, has shared; me, ever willing, has accepted.  I just hope my beacon disappears sooner rather than later!

Meanwhile, Nyel has made good inroads on Ann’s gift.  The first bar went fast.  The second he seems to be allotting himself more slowly – perhaps hoping to make it last until he is discharged.  Rumor has it that we could be on our way home before the weekend wanes!  I’m happy to light the way!!!

Consent, Consensual, Consensus

Friday, December 1st, 2017

In The News

I’ve been reading with great interest – no, make that ‘with great dismay’ – all of the commentary in the news and even on FaceBook about sexual harassment.  As the percentages of women who claim they have been sexually harassed have escalated – I think it’s up to 60% now – my first reaction was, “I wonder why I’ve never had that problem.”  In a perverse sort of way, I almost felt left out.

But, as I read more and more of what women are ‘revealing’ on sites such as #MeToo, my thoughts have changed yet again.  What I think of as ‘sexual harassment’ (Wikipedia: typically of a woman – in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks) is apparently only part of the issue.

Long-Ago Standards?

For one thing, the standard ‘workplace/professional’ piece of the equation no longer seems to matter – unless you count activities such as attending a fraternity party to be ‘work’ – and the woman’s own behavior/condition (such as being too drunk to walk) also seems to be but a minor factor.  Consensual no longer appears to be a biggee except if agreement is explicit and verbal – maybe even written!

So… what happened to good old-fashioned “flirting” as we called it in the olden days?  I always thought that was a two-way street.  If it led to advances that were unwanted, you said so.  If saying so was overridden, then (and only then), you had a legitimate complaint.  Granted, in those olden days, few women under such circumstances actually spoke out and, if they did, they weren’t taken seriously.   Which brings us to now…

So… where is the line?  If it’s closer to the ‘harmless’ flirtation now that it was forty years ago, do women have the right to speak out?  Are today’s standards retroactive?  Should good men’s reputations and careers be put on the line because we women now feel that we can speak out?

Today’s Fashions?

That seems to be the consensus.  I think there is a basic flaw here but I’m confused as to what it is.  Perhaps there is more than one piece of skewed thinking.  I’m still stuck back at the decision of my own alma mater to follow the (then) current trend and make dormitories co-ed.  That happened a few years after I graduated.  I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. At a time in young people’s lives when their hormones are raging and they are still actively trying to develop their minds and characters… why would such a decision be made?

And don’t get me started on women’s fashions…  In what universe is showing cleavage and nipples not an invitation of some sort?  It’s all very confusing to me and I have no answers at all.  But from my old lady perspective, what’s happening does seem to a sort of mass hysteria with retrospective overtones.  I wonder how my many-times forbear, Salem Witch Mary Esty, would view it.

Bracelets, Belts, and Knights of Old

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Sydney’s Many Charms

The Ronco Family – Abby and Dan with Virginia (Gin), 8, and Silas (Si), 10, — came by last night dispensing hugs and laughter and family news in equal measures.  They are among our many Oysterville Red House cousins and it’s not very often that we get to see them on their home turf (Seattle, not the hospital).  Usually, our visits occur in Oysterville and we see them the most often of any of ‘the relatives.’

While Ab and Dan caught up with Nyel, my charm bracelet caught the attention of the kids.   Si was interested in the gold content of the charms – what did fourteen-carat mean anyway? and was the gold nugget from the Yukon pure gold or not.  Questions I had a fairly tough time answering right off the cuff, so to speak, but not nearly as difficult as the questions posed by Gin.

Chastity Belt Charm

In her typically thorough style, Gin went charm by charm, wanting to know what each was, where it came from and, sometimes, why I chose it.  When we got to the pissoir I was hard-pressed to explain, even though Gin has spent time in France and even in Paris, I think.

Pissoirs, of course, are long gone and I had to compare them with porta-potties, but for men only.  I told her how men could see over the ‘privacy wall’ and often doffed their hats to passing ladies as they were relieving themselves. She responded with a semi-smile and a shrug — “It must have been a guy thing,” she seemed to say.


But, her questions about that bit of ancient history paled before those about the chastity belt.  “A belt?  How did you wear it?”  She saw how it could go around your waist “but where did this part go?”

“Your crotch,” chimed in her mom, at that point.  “Why?” both kids asked.  “So you couldn’t have sex,” was Abby’s answer.  “But what was the hole for?” asked Si.  “So the lady could pee,” answered Dan.

The conversation continued long enough for us to cover how the chastity belt was attached (“locked or welded” said Abby) and when they were used (“during the Crusades” said I). But Ab said they’d reserve the big “why” question for car talk on the way home.  I wish I’d have been along on that ride! I think I’d have learned a lot about good parenting in the 21st century – effortless with love, laughter and straightforward information.  Was I ever that smart with my own kids?

Coming in January

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 Online Photo

Nyel isn’t a guffawing sorta guy.  He isn’t even a chuckler.  So, when I woke up at 5:15 this morning to the sound of a true belly laugh from the hospital bed a few feet away, I was more than curious.

As it turned out, he was catching up on the early a.m. news on his cell phone and a headline story from the UK’s Daily had set him off: Want to know how good you are in bed? Smart condom will rate sexual performance including speed of thrusts and duration.

The article went on to say: Makers of the world’s first ‘smart condom’ have finally revealed a look at the ‘game-changing’ new device, which boasts the ability to detect STIs, assess performance, and even calculate how many calories you burned during sex.

A “smart” condom!  Why am I not surprised?  With smart cars, smart phones, and a lot of smartass inventors, it was only a matter of time.  The wearable (or wearable tech), as it is called, costs $80 and, according to its makers, British Condoms, it’s lightweight and water resistant – and, with a nano-chip and Bluetooth capabilities built in, it can provide a range of statistics to help improve the wearer’s sex life.

And, in case you wondered: The device also records the amount of calories burned, different positions, and can detect chlamydia and syphilis. All information will be kept anonymous – but users ‘will have the option to share their recent data with friends, or, indeed the world.’


As interesting as the article, itself, were some of the online comments.  Is it reusable? was right at the top of the list.  Why? and Who cares? were right up there, too – probably from female readers. But, the makers say, they’ve already had 900,000 inquiries.  Unfortunately, the i.Con will not be available for this year’s man who has everything… Perhaps for a Happy Valentines Day instead?


Training My Tongue

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

I was brought up to believe in the adage: “When you speak, speak the truth, but don’t always speak.”  Not that I often follow that good advice.  It’s right up there with another mantra that is popular in some circles: “There is no such thing as a stupid question.”  Yes, there is, say I.  I heard many during my 39 years as a teacher and have certainly asked my share – especially when I’ve ignored the second half of that familiar old proverb: “Speech is silver but silence is golden.”

I’ve been thinking about all of those mantras and idioms here at the University of Washington Medical Center.  Nyel was sent here from Legacy Emanuel Hospital to be evaluated for receiving a heart pump – an option not available at Emanuel Hospital, but yet the only option the Portland doctors feel is viable at this point.  The doctors here say that Nyel’s heart function is good enough so that the heart pump possibility is “off the table.”

Now that they have said “no” to the heart pump, they are back to walking a path that is familiar to Nyel. They are repeating the same tests that Nyel has been having for many months; some for many years.  I suppose the hope is that they will see something here that the Portland doctors have missed.  So far… not so.  And why is it that they cannot look at his history – all the charts and notes and scans, all the electronic records and DVDs that were sent with Nyel?  Or did they?  What are they doing that is different?  Or are they?

Yesterday I asked.  The answers were in doctor-speak and made me feel like I should reconsider the “silence is golden” rule.  I’m pretty sure that my questions came under the “stupid” category.  Fair enough.  But I didn’t like some of the responses that seemed to demean Nyel’s Portland experience.  I didn’t like feeling patronized.  The team (yesterday four doctors, a nurse, and a fellow or two) will be here shortly on their rounds.  I mean to hold my tongue this time.  Except maybe to ask when Nyel might be discharged.