Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Our Panama City Friends, Lana Jane & Paul

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Paul Brent Gallery, Yesterday

We worried all day yesterday and the day before.  Hurricane Michael was headed right for Panama City and for Mexico Beach, as well.  Our friends Lana Jane and Paul Brent live in Panama City.  Paul’s Gallery is there.  They have a beach house at Mexico Beach.  OMG!

We knew they were safe, though.  They’ve been out here on the West Coast since early summer.  They have a place in Seaside and we knew they were planning to leave for Panama City sometime next week.  Headed home.  OMG!

Paul Brent Gallery, Before Hurricane Michael

Today Paul posted a picture of his gallery on FaceBook. ” Just found this photo of the Gallery. Pretty much gone,” Paul said.  In another post he said, “We are trying to find someone who can go by our home at 1216 Dewitt in the Cove to take photos. All our neighbors are either gone or without phones. Thanks so much. Paul Brent.”  OMG!

I called.  Paul answered, sounding firm, steady, matter-of-fact, as usual.  They still don’t know about their houses in Panama City or at Mexico Beach.  Their friends Rick and Jane who were here this summer and went on the Music in the Gardens Tour with us this summer lost their Mexico Beach house.  “It was flattened, Paul said.  Only the foundation is left.”  OMG!

“The huge oak trees in our neighbor’s yard blew down and slammed against their house.  All the leaves were stripped off by the wind.  They look like dead trees,” Paul said.  “We had smaller oaks and lots of shrubbery.  We are told that no one has seen our place, yet because it is totally covered in shrubbery.” OMG!

Paul and Lana Jane Brent

“Will you rebuild the gallery?” I asked.  “We don’t know yet.”  The assumption is that all the paintings are ‘gone.’  Watercolors don’t like water, you know,” he said.  “And even if we decide to rebuild, it won’t be done before Christmas, if then.  Thousands of homes in at least five cities. .. There won’t be enough contractors.  And their own homes and businesses are probably gone.”  OMG!

“On the other hand,” he told me, “I’ve just finished some new paintings that I’ll take with me.  It’s a start.  And our son in Cinncinnati is headed down to Panama City to take a look at the house.  No one has been able to get through but he said, ‘I WILL get through, dad!”  And Paul’s voice was full of hope.  OMG!

We talked until my cellphone began to run out of battery.  Even so, there seemed nothing to say.  Nothing to do but offer thanks that they were out of harm’s way.  And to pray that they’ll have the strength to see them through the next steps.  OMG!

When it comes to advice…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

A Concept Worth Exploring?

When you are going through a bad patch, about the last thing you need is unsolicited advice.  At least, that has always been my experience.  Suggestions gently hinted at… maybe.  But out and out “what you need to do” directions from well-meaning outsiders looking in – please, no!   It’s a lot like book recommendations and usually comes under the category, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

So, I was absolutely gobsmacked last night when a friend sent me a suggestion for a book with a title that made perfect sense!  In fact, I didn’t have to go farther than looking at the title to follow the advice contained therein!  Päntsdrunk: The Finnish Path to Relaxation. I was already intrigued.  But, when I saw the subtitle, (Drinking at Home, Alone, in Your Underwear), I felt I didn’t need anymore information at all.  Not right then, anyway.  (It had been a difficult day.)

As it turned out, of course, I wasn’t alone.  And I was fully clothed.  But that Bloody Mary did go a long way toward smoothing out the wrinkles from a long, hard day. After dinner plus an hour or so of television, and after Nyel was safely tucked back in bed, I went online to learn more about the book.  According to the blurb on

A Tall Glass of Relaxation

When it comes to happiness rankings, Finland always scores near the top.  Many Finnish phenomena set the bar high: the best education system, gender equality, a flourishing welfare state, sisu or bull-headed pluck.  Behind all of these accomplishments lies a Finnish ability to stay calm, healthy and content in a riptide of endless tasks and temptations.  The ability comes from the practice of “kalsarikanni” translated as pantsdrunk.

Peel off your clothes down to your underwear.  Place savory or sweet snacks within reach alongside your bed or sofa.  Make sure your television remote control is nearby along with any and all devices to access social media.  Open your preferred alcohol. Your journey toward inner strength, higher quality of life, and peace of mind has begun.

I don’t know that the “practice of kalsarikanni” will become part and parcel of my daily regime, but I am sufficiently curious about the other words of wisdom that might be found in this book.  I’ve ordered it from Timberland Library and I’m hoping that the copy from Montesano that our friend is reading is not the only one in the system.  If it is, hurry up, Steve!  Relaxing is what we need more of around here right now!

When Knowing CPR Isn’t Quite Enough

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Several times over the 39 years I was teaching, an Emergency Services team came to a faculty meeting armed with dummies and a slide show to give CPR instructions to the staff.  I’m pretty sure that happens in other workplaces as well; most adults probably have the rudiments.  That and the Heimlich maneuver (which I had occasion to use successfully-thank-God on my dad at a family dinner one time.)

But now that we are no longer working and are old enough to be considered officially elderly, I’m thinking that there should have been another class (or, more likely a set of classes) for people about to retire.  Something along the lines of “Providing In-Home Assistance and Care to a Loved One” (PIHACLO). Probably with periodic refresher courses.

You know – how to transfer someone safely from wheelchair to bed or commode or anywhere else and back again.  Or, even more basically, all the tricks of wheelchair transport – which armrests and footrests to remove and when etc. etc.  And the best way to get a 200-pound person from point A to point B without touching one foot down.  And the tricks of bed baths.  Etc.

Fortunately (or not), we’ve had some on-the-job training in the not-too-distant-past.  But, I still feel like we are learning the hard way.  Lest readers be tempted to write about all the professional help available in situations like ours – fuggetaboutit.  Been there.  Done that.  Have several ‘T’ shirts.  When you have a bathroom emergency in the middle of the night, the healthy half of the team needs to know what to do and how to do it.  Right now.  Just saying…

Those of us who live in rural areas are especially up against it.  I know more than one couple who felt they had to uproot themselves and move to an urban area where more services were available.  And, of course, if you have “just enough” but not much excess, money-wise, you have even more to figure out.  Again… this is not a plea for help. Just an observation.  So maybe that Getting-Ready-for-Retirement class, PIHACLO, should include a laminated list of service providers and phone numbers specifically for the geriatric set.  Just sayin’…

For me, it helps to remember that our forebears managed, one way or another.  I often think of my grandparents who aged gracefully in this very house back in the day when the nearest hospital was a boat trip away.  And, when it comes to the indomitable spirit part, it helps to remember Matisse.  Toward the end of his life he was often bed ridden in his apartment in Nice. However, he continued to draw on the wall and ceiling around him.  (Don’t tell Nyel.  Although, I don’t think drawing would be his first choice for distractions…  Maybe chickens.)

About The ‘Comes Around’ Part

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Jason Derrey

You know the old saying… “What goes around comes around.”  Well, I’m not sure that’s the exact expression that describes my thoughts, but it’s close.  I’m talking about the surprising connections we make during the course of our lives – connections we don’t think much about at the time, but that make a big difference later on.

Take, for instance, the 1982-83 school year at Ocean Park School.  Jason Derrey was one of the kids in the third/fourth grade class that John Snyder and I (then, “Mrs. LaRue) team-taught.  Who would ever have imagined that, all these years later, Jason would be one of the EMTs to arrive when Nyel needed help Wednesday morning!  Jason was also on call yesterday when we asked for assistance transferring Nyel from car to house after his release from Peace Health hospital in Vancouver!

Did I recognize him?  Not at all!  Little chubby-cheeked boys change a lot in 35 years!  More than girls do, I think.  Even though Jason told me who he was on Wednesday, I had to ask again yesterday – just to make sure!  Lean, well-muscled, dark hair, mustache, – not until he smiles do I begin to recognize him!

Jason Derry – Top Picture, 2nd from left, Top Row

“Do you have good memories of that year?” I asked him. “Because I do.”  “Yes,” he said and began rattling off names of “kids” he’s still in touch with.  Come to think of it… so am I in touch with lots of kids from that year, at least to some degree.  Especially with those who have stayed in the community or whose parents I know.  And now, Jason!  What a pleasure!

But, at the same time, I feel like I’m in some parallel universe.  Jason says he has a twenty-one-year-old daughter (plus several other kids, but I got stuck on the ’21’.)  How could that possibly be?  Where did all those years go?  And how fabulous to call for help and have it arrive in the appearance of a former student!  I’m so happy to have had even a small part in Jason’s early years!  But it’s even better to see how he “turned out.”  I must get in touch with Mr. Snyder.  He’ll be as pleased as I am.

…here comes Farmer Nyel!

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Scootin’ Along!

Little did we think that Nyel would be reverting to childhood in quite this way but…  Yesterday, the physical therapist brought him a knee scooter to try out and on Tuesday good old UPS will be delivering an All-Terrain KneeRover Steerable Knee Scooter!  Color: blue.  No tools required for assembly.

“Are you pushing me?” he kept asking.  “No,” we all said.  “You’re totally on your own!”

“Is this hallway slanted downhill?” he asked.  And we laughed.

Up and down the hall he went like a kid with a new toy!  It was the highpoint of this hospital episode for sure and, when he got back to the room and settled into bed, he immediately asked for his cell phone. will be providing Nyel with an early Christmas present.

Nyel’s New Toy

Among other things, if the customer reviews are to be believed, he should have no trouble going down to the chicken coop and back.  Wow!  Being a one-legged farmer shouldn’t slow him down a bit!

However… no scooting around quite yet.  After his first follow-up visit to his Rebound doctor will be time enough to transition from wheelchair to KneeRover.  Meanwhile, there will be lots of “bed rest” and leg elevation and wheelchair transfers and meals on trays…  Another adventure about to begin!  (And if I behave myself, maybe he’ll let me take a ride on that scooter!)

Far Away Logistics from the LB Peninsula

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Our Favorite FB Site

When medical emergencies happen on the weekend, they can be a problem.  Factor in living off the beaten path and the problem is not a “can be” but is a certainty.  So when the surgeon came in this morning (which happens to be a Friday) and suggested that we touch base with the Case Manager right away lest we have to stay for the weekend, we got right on it.  Or tried to!

Our nurse said that, first, we’d need to talk to Physical Therapy.  They would talk to us about Nyel’s safety needs at home and it was a pretty sure bet that they would want to hear that he had a wheelchair available.  A walker, a commode, and a shower stool we already have.  “While he’s in surgery, do some networking,” our RN said, “and see what you can arrange.”

Nyel Post-Op

I didn’t wait until they came to wheel Nyel to the OR.  I was on it!  I posted an “all call” on Long Beach Peninsula Friends of Facebook that read: Looking for a wheelchair for Nyel. Does anyone have a wheelchair that won’t be needed for the next three months? Or does anyone know if there is a local organization that has replaced Kiwanis in supplying medical equipment on the Peninsula? Please contact Sydney Stevens. Many thanks.

And before you could say “Jack Robinson” I had two FaceBook responses, an email and a phone call!  Wow!  Within an hour we had several possibilities lined up and then a phone call from a friend in Oregon City who said, “We have a new wheelchair that we can get to you at Peace Health within an hour!  Wow!

So it was that while Nyel was under the knife, I was in the parking lot and a lovely wheelchair was being placed in my car by my friends Harry and Linda.  OMG!  It’s big enough for Nyel but small enough to fit between front and back seats and lightweight enough for me to handle!  I am eternally grateful.

Wrapped Up Until Christmas

Now, the day is waning.  Nyel is back in his room and “sitting up and taking nourishment” and all is almost well with the world.  We have yet to hear from the Physical Therapy people and, until that happens, we can’t break out of here.  I’m thinking of putting another all call out on FB – something like GET US OUTTA HERE!  Hopefully, it won’t be needed

Collapsing Into Grim Reality

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Nyel, October 4, 2018

Yesterday Nyel fell.  It has happened dozens, if not scores, of times before.  It is a fact of life for a man whose lower left leg is not securely attached to his upper left leg.  Long story.  Suffice it to say that after a successful knee replacement his quadriceps muscle tore loose from its moorings and despite two surgeries, it is still virtually non-existent.

So, despite his orthopedic surgeon’s strong words of advice, “DO. NOT. FALL.”, it happens.  For four years, despite all caution and use of his constant cane companion, Nyel falls.  He falls in the house on the carpet, in the garden on the grass, in the garage on the cement – he has even fallen on the tarmac between the Ocean Beach Medical Clinic and the Hospital.  It is a fact of our lives and there are no happy solutions.

Until yesterday, the worst damage during a fall happened early-on when he fell in the kitchen and whacked his head against a drawer pull.  He didn’t lose consciousness but he did lose a lot of blood and gained six stitches.  Since then, he’s been lucky – until yesterday.  At five o’clock in the morning, as is his usual procedure (required by his cardiologist), he stepped on the bathroom scales to weigh himself.  Make that ‘almost stepped.’  Before he could complete the transfer of weight to take the necessary step up, the left leg collapsed and down he fell – despite having supports under both hands – a towel rack and a shelf.

Temporary Measures

There ensued a 911 call, transport to our local hospital and X-rays which revealed a broken tibia (which will require plates and screws) and a spiral fracture of the fibula.  The ER at Ocean Beach Hospital was thorough and efficient, giving him a temporary cast, and making arrangements for his transfer to Peace Health SW Medical Center in Vancouver where Nyel’s previous orthopedic work has been done by Rebound surgeons.  For whatever reasons, Peace Health said “no ambulance transfer” as they would not accept him as an emergency patient.  So… the OBH nurses got him into our car and I drove him to the Emergency Admitting area at Peace Health, myself.

And here we are.  Nyel was finally tucked in about one o’clock this morning.  Me, too – in a regular hospital bed in a double room here!  Surgery will “probably” be tomorrow and he will “probably” be discharged on Sunday. Nyel will then have to stay off his left foot for at least six weeks.   Meanwhile, ‘they’ are keeping him on the edge of comfort with pain meds and we are trying to get used to yet another hospital.  Nyel, as always is stoic.  Me… maybe not so much.  We are both looking forward to getting back to Oysterville and figuring out next steps.  So to speak.

Another Generation at Our House

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Nurse Stump

As I worked my way toward the southwest corner of the fence yesterday – still trimming back those pesky roses – I bumped up against the old spruce stump, still fairly solid but showing its age with its new role in life.  It has gradually become a full-fledged nurse log with sword fern and bracken, foxglove and moss and lots of there greenery growing proudly among its cracks and crevices.

At the top, over on the south side is a still spindly young spruce tree.  The next generation!  It is probably three feet tall, making it six feet high in all when you factor in the height of that big stump.  It shares the space on the stump’s table-like surface with a big galvanized tub of geraniums.  The little sapling appears to be happy there, as well it should.  It has a proud heritage of which I reminded it as I worked my way along.

The mother tree once grew in the woods nearby and was carefully selected by my grandfather and uncles to serve as a live Christmas tree.  It must have been in 1916 or 1917 – Edwin and Willard remembered that they were about eight and six, respectively.  “We tromped around for a long time to find just the right tree,” my Uncle Ed said.  “It had to be no less than ten feet tall and no more than eleven to fit in the bay window in the parlor.”

Ready for a Sunday Drive, 1939 (Spruce Tree at Left)

After the holidays were over and the clean-up almost complete, the boys and Papa once more went on the search.  This time, it was just in the yard.  They were looking for the perfect place to replant the tree so that they would always remember that Christmas… and all the others, as well.  And they always did.

They chose the southwest corner, adjacent to the lane and across from the church.  “For years the tree didn’t change much,” Willard often recounted.  “Then, it must have finally found a deep-water source and up it shot.”  It became something of a landmark in that part of Oysterville.  In fact, when we finally had to have it removed, there was an angry letter to the paper accusing us of taking down an “old growth” tree and saying that the birds would no longer have reason to come to Oysterville – no place to nest and sit.

Spruce Sapling

But, the tree had a good deal of rot beginning and we had feared for the church or for our dining room or for passing pedestrians and cars should it go over in a big storm.  We watched as the logger from Naselle took it down, section by section and I felt a deep ache with every part that fell.  It was like losing a family member.  It helped a little that the very last round – fully five feet across – was taken and polished and made into an immense coffee table.  It sits in the central room at the Portland Audubon Society – a room surrounded by windows so that the birds can say “hello” as they fly past.

I told the little sapling all of this as I worked yesterday.  I think all of us should know something about our forebears.  Don’t you?

Winding Down the Season

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

End of September

After a week of spectacular weather, the cloudy (sometimes drippy) weather of yesterday seemed like a final punctuation mark to summer.  Both Nyel and I succumbed to unusual urges – to clean and tidy up the garden and to finish up a few almost-completed outdoor projects.  The weatherman tells us to expect more of the same all week so I hope time and energy continue to cooperate.

As I hunkered in the flower beds, clipping and pulling, I could hear a wedding party gather across the road.  For about an hour they talked and laughed and enjoyed one another as they posed for photographs before going into the church.  It was such a peaceful, happy gathering!  Another lovely ending to the season, perhaps – although, there may yet be other weddings before the year is out.  I can’t imagine, though, that they could be any more joyous than this one sounded.

Looking Like Autumn

Also, as I worked, I heard gunshots to the south.  It’s early for duck season plus it didn’t sound like shotgun shots. It’s early for deer. as well.  Nor do I think there’s deer hunting so close to Oysterville, as far as I know.  Maybe someone doing some target practice?  Hard to tell.  But it served to remind me that duck season isn’t far off and that familiar pop-pop-pop of the hunters’ guns will soon let us know that autumn is underway.

I’m already making mental lists of Fall Projects that we should see to.  I’m promising myself that this year I’ll dig up and sort the dahlias – we have a plethora of pink ones that need to be thinned and some gorgeous purple ones that, I hope, can be divided and moved to more advantageous spots.  And there are a few things that didn’t get our attention this summer – a lean-to for our firewood, for instance, and perhaps a start on repairing the gazebo.  Both of those are in Nyel’s bailiwick and I stand ready to clap and cheer if he makes moves in those directions.

There’s always more to do than time or energy or money warrants.  I’m never sure if that’s a bad thing or a good thing.  In general, though, I guess looking forward to continued accomplishment is positive – even if it is only one tiny step at a time.

About Our Gout Bout

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Infamous Gout Sufferer

“The secrets of old age” is what my mother called all those aches, pains, dribbles, rude uncontrollable noises, and I don’t know what-all.  I think gout must have been one of those “secrets” although she never said so.  Secrets are secrets, after all.

Also secret is whether or not some of those old-age annoyances are catching.  Science may tell us unequivocally “no” but sometimes you have to wonder.  Gout is the case in point in our household right now.  Nyel was diagnosed with that Henry-the-Eighth problem about a month ago.  It was his right wrist that was under attack and his entire right hand and arm-to-the-elbow were affected – red, swollen, painful to the touch and excruciating to move. He was the poster child for a man who had lost his grip – at least with regard to his dominant hand.

Can’t hurt!

Diagnosis involved careful scrutiny by our primary care guy.  And blood tests.  Treatment, which is ongoing, has involved steroids and other meds with fancy names, one of which he will probably need to take forevermore.  The cause, unlike that of King Henry, is not rich foods – we eat very little red meat, no ale or beer or other alcohol for Nyel.  For him, the cause is clear – diuretics that he must take for his heart health.  It’s a pretty straight forward cause and effect.

But, yesterday, when one of the finger joints in my left hand flared up – swollen, red, painful to the point of unbend-ability and I self-diagnosed it as gout, I couldn’t blame any meds or my diet or anything else.  It’s clear to me that gout is a contagious situation – another secret of old age that my sainted mother never shared with me.  Of course, being in the middle joint of my middle finger as it is, could pose a much larger problem.

Popeye didn’t know…

I consider myself fortunate that I am right-handed and that, should it be necessary to flip someone off, I am as yet unimpaired with regard to my digitus medius of choice.  I can only hope that I don’t have the need for a double flip-off while this gout bout lasts.  I doubt seriously if mom ever considered this particular limitation among her secrets.  But… they were secrets after all.