Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Is confinement to quarters in order?

Monday, March 16th, 2020

So now we are down to two.  Snowhite and Slutvana.  Big Red and the Little Red Hen have disappeared.  I hope they have simply eloped, but they didn’t leave a note.  Nyel has thought for a long time now — well, for a week which is quite a while in chicken time — that they are a couple.

Never mind that Big Red has continued to have his way with the other girls.  LRH doesn’t seem to mind such fowl behavior.  In fact, she often seems quite relieved that she isn’t getting the full thrust (ahem!) of his ardor.  But, the two of them do wander off together now and then and both seem quite skilled at getting under or over our garden fence.

They’ve been gone since last night.  I have to confess that I got involved in an episode of “The Crown” and it was full dark when I went out to lock up the coop.  I lit my way by flashlight and, before locking the outer gate, I inspected the inside of the coop.  Only Slutvana and Snowhite were there…


As I was writing this, there was a tap at the east door and… there was the Little Red Hen, looking distressed but, otherwise, unruffled.  I went right out with grapes and scratch, let the other two out of the coop, and called endlessly for the rooster.  No luck.

LRH ignored the morning treat and went right into the coop and directly into a nest box.  Maybe she was preparing to lay an egg.  Or maybe she was in an “I vant to be alone” frame of mind.  Or maybe she’s hoping Big Red will show up and she wants to be home to greet him.

So… perhaps we are down to just three girls again.  Or perhaps not.  It sometimes takes a while to know with chickens.

When I woke up today, it was 1947!

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Duck Hunter Dobby Wiegardt

I was in the wrong bedroom and in the wrong part of the house — not in my familiar upper southwest corner with a view of the church — but in my snuggly, sleepy state that didn’t really register.  What woke me this morning were the sounds of duck hunters’ shotguns out on the bayfront.  Such a comforting all’s-well-with-the-world sound here in Oysterville.  At least to me.  It took me right back to my childhood.

I have a number of friends who take umbrage with those nostalgic hunting thoughts.  I don’t think any of them are deeply rooted here along Willapa Bay.  They didn’t grow up with relatives and friends (all “menfolk” in my memory) going out in the pre-dawn hours of fall and winter to “bag a few” ducks or geese for dinner.  This morning I wondered idly if whoever it was out there was hoping to score their Christmas dinner on this cold, rainy pre-dawn.

Of course, even when I was a child, there weren’t many folks who regularly supplemented their diets by hunting.  Not like in my grandfather’s childhood.  In those days, the late 1800s, the most “famous” holiday hunting exploits took place at Thanksgiving in Bay Center.  The men supplied the ducks (or other fowl) and the women cooked the rest of dinner which was served to the entire community in Tom Olsen’s Hall.  As part of the fun, the hunters divided themselves into teams and assigned point values to the various birds:

Duck Hunters Chris and Larry Freshley

Crane or Coot 5
Teal, Butterball, Jacksnipe 10
Widgeon, Redhead, Spoonbill, Bluebill 30
Mallard, Canvasback, Sprig 40
Brant 60
Canada Goose, White Goose 80
Honker Goose 100
Swan 200

The winning captain got the biggest pie; the loser had to make the first speech. The winning team got all the wishbones; the losers had to help clear off the tables after the feast.

I can’t help but wonder how such a community event would go over these days.  Maybe pretty well in 1947.  But in 2019… probably not so much.




Losing My Grip

Monday, December 16th, 2019

I’ve come to the point in life where I am losing my grip.  Literally.  I’m not sure about the figurative part.  I’m hoping I’ll be the last to know about that.  But the grip involved in unscrewing caps on over-the-counter drugs (like simple pain relievers for my frequent thumb and wrist agonies) have become all but impossible.

It’s an arthritis thing.  Since arthritis runs in Nyel’s family and he has been suffering the symptoms longer than I, he isn’t much help in the Gripping Department.  But he knows tricks and usually, between the two of us, we can open new bottles and jars of condiments without resorting to smashing them to smithereens in frustration.  Usually.

I often think how our opposable thumbs are one of the key factors in differentiating us and some other primates like chimpanzees and orangutans.  So, as I lose the ability to engage in opposable thumb activities, am I reverting in some crucial developmental way?

I was interested in reading about a study published in the journal Nature Communications that new research finds that human hands are more primitive than those of our closest primate ancestors, chimpanzees.  Apparently, human hand proportions have changed little from those of the last common ancestor of chimps and humans, while the hands of chimps and orangutans have evolved quite a bit — to the point that their thumbs cannot be used in an opposable manner.  Hmmm.

Well… that’s a relief.  I may be losing my grip, but I’m not returning to a more primitive state.  Yet.  In the meantime, hooray for gripping aids and what my mom always called “main strength and awkwardness.”  Seems to work every time.


Another Perk of Motherhood!

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Marta is in L.A. for a few days just now, providing her with an opportunity to spend some time with Charlie.  Both of them posted pictures of their adventures a day or so ago — at lunch at Michelangelo Ristorante in Silver Lake near Charlie’s place; at a store that might have been named for the two of them, Whacko; and (I think) at a Soap Factory, although it and Whacko might be one and the same.

They looked like they were having a great time together, just as they have for the past sixty years.  When the two of them were young, I always counted myself blessed that they got along so well.  Each has a great sense of humor and great appreciation for the off-beat, yet each is kind and thoughtful and empathetic to the max.  I really like them both — in addition to the motherly love part.

But what really pleases me at this late time in my own life, is that they truly enjoy one another’s company.  It’s reassuring that they have one another to fall back on or turn to.  As an only child, myself, I find it comforting that they still enjoy one another and seem to grow closer as time gallops along!  Yay!

Travelin’ with Nyel

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Subaru Forester

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Up at the crack
Off in the dark
Seattle bound.

Another opinion
Perhaps a chance
For Nyel to walk again.

Cheese Platter

Pray for dry roads
And light traffic
And a good bedside manner.

A stop at Whole Foods
Or Trader Joe’s
For cheeses we don’t see here.

Party planning I’ve found
Is a fine distraction
From everyday hard stuff.


Hurry! Scurry! But Mostly Blurry!

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Now that I’m well into my nineteenth year of retirement,  my memory about those 40+ working years has become a bit selective.  I’m especially blurry about the hard parts — like getting ready for the holidays “around the edges.”

How did we ever have time?  For sure we did with less sleep.  Somehow, even without the internet to help us, we managed to shop for presents, get them wrapped and sent (in time!), get a tree (and sometimes poinsettias), decorate inside and out ( swags hand-made by Nyel) and even, some years, bake Christmas cookies or plan for a party.  All the while, overseeing all the Christmas activities for 25 or 30 school children, working on the traditional Christmas program and planning/supervising the classroom Christmas party.

I realize that this very description (the school part, that is) dates me considerably.  I don’t think there are “Christmas” activities at most schools these days.  Maybe “holiday” celebrations.  Or, has it become politically correct just to ignore the whole season?

I’m not even sure and, frankly, don’t want to know.  I find those thoughts a bit depressing.  In any case, my heart goes out to teachers and, indeed, to all working folks who are trying “to do it all” at this time of year.  And not only trying to do it all, but trying to do it with as little commercialism attached as possible.

But perhaps that isn’t a goal these days either — another thing I’m really not sure about anymore.  And, now that the internet has become our strong right arm as far as shopping goes… and, actually, now that shopping for ready-made gifts has replaced the home-made presents we once labored over… perhaps “the season” is easier for working folks.

I hope so.  I hope there is still joy in joyeux Noel and merry in Merry Christmas despite all the hurry scurry and ready-made everything.  Mostly, I hope that all of us take time for a little nap or two along the way .



Doncha just hate that?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The Box

We (mostly I) go though a lot of copy paper.  Especially when I’m in a writing mode.  For me, it’s difficult to proofread on the screen and, depending upon what I’m working on, there are often multiple drafts to read and correct.  Which means using lots of paper in my printer.

We used to pick up a case of copy paper every so often at CostCo but now that I’m the one who has to wrestle such items into and out of the car and into the house… not so much.  Hooray for Amazon Prime and UPS!  But when the package arrived, delivered directly onto the table on our front porch, I saw that the corner of the case was broken (or slit) open.  Otherwise, the box looked great — no dents, no scrapes.  Perfect!

I opened it right then and there on the porch and took out one package at a time, carrying two or three into the house and setting them on the hat rack just inside the door.  Eight 500-sheet reams altogether.  I was stacking ream four or five when I noticed that the corner of each individually wrapped package was ripped open.  Just a bit.  Just enough, perhaps, to take a look at the contents.  Every single ream!

Opened Reams

I immediately fantasized that the narcs were looking for some sort of paper-thin drugs sandwiched between the individual sheets of copy paper.  I didn’t see any dried doggie drool, but my imagination told me clearly that drug-sniffing canines had been involved — maybe as the box entered or left the warehouse.

Of course, when I shared my imaginary story with Nyel, he actually ROLLED his eyes!  I showed him the tears in the packages.  He shook his head.  “Well, how can you explain it?” I demanded.  “I can’t,” he said.  His next few words — “and neither can you” — weren’t spoken or even murmured.  But I could hear them loud and clear.  He did say, though, that perhaps I’d been reading too many mysteries…  Doncha just hate that???

Inadvertently Part of A Non-Statistic?

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

A Pilgrims hat Thanksgiving cartoon turkey holding a Black Friday Sale sign

It was a smallish Friday Night Gathering.  Some of our “regulars” were out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.   Some might have been busy with leftover turkey and family.  As it was, there were eight of us — four couples, only one of whom  mentioned  that they had been shopping the Black Friday sales.

This morning my Google news feed was full of yesterday’s expected shopping statistics.  They were broken down by generation. According to the surveys,  the biggest group of buyers would be the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and expected to average $626.35 in spending per person.  Next, Generation X ( 1965-1976)   ) averaging $459.72, and coming in third, the millenials (1977-1995) at $252.11 each!

With my 1936 birthdate, I used to be called a “Depression Baby” and Nyel, born in 1943, was known as a “War Baby.”  Now we have apparently been folded into a category called “Traditionalists” or “The Silent Generation” which includes everyone born before 1945.  “The Center for GenerationalKinetics” (say what?) gave no buying statistics for us.

Well… the numbers seemed to all fit the informal information I gleaned from last night’s visitors.  The one couple who went shopping (or at least talked about it) includes a Baby Boomer.  I think the rest of us fall into the Traditionalist/Silent category.

However, as I thought it over… I believe Nyel actually did do some online shopping yesterday.  He mentioned in the morning that we had a book waiting at the library — one I had mentioned to him the other day, written by a friend.  “What?!  I was suggesting that as a Christmas gift.  I have all his other books and want to have this one, too.”  I think Nyel immediately ordered said book online.  I didn’t ask.  Christmas is a time for secrets, after all.

I can’t help wondering if that possible online purchase makes us fall within the Black Friday Shoppers — you know, the ones for whom no statistics are given.  It’s about all the contribution to America’s Black Friday shopping surfeit that I’m willing to make.  (Probably totally unpatriotic of me.)  But I’m still choking over the nine billion dollars in Cyber Monday sales predicted in last night’s news.  Is there a Generation Glut?

Not The Big Brother I’d Hoped For

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Living Nightmare

I’ve just about had it with scams and robocalls and junk mail.  I’m tired of my cell phone ringing in the middle of the night and thinking OMG what if it’s one of the kids.  I don’t want any more pleas from my university or someone else’s favorite good cause hoping for my money.  I’m tired of telling live voices not to call again (they always do) and hanging up on the robots and deleting the personalized impersonal emails.  And I’m beginning to get tired of my own FB friends urging me to adopt their good causes.

What is it about these callers and mailers and users of the internet that make them think that I’m not intelligent enough to know which charities I might be interested in — IF I had the where-with-all.  Which I don’t.  Which, I daresay if they are smart enough to get in touch with me, they should know — from my buying habits if not from my bank account (god forbid) — that “Discretionary Income” is not my middle name.  I feel like Big Brother has taken on a capitalistic persona to the max.

Our House In Alameda

When I was five and we first moved to Alameda, we lived next door to a family who rented Mrs. Musso’s upstairs apartment.  They had a boy about my own age  — maybe his name was Jimmy — and I remember talking to him through our upstairs windows.  For some reason, I began telling people that he was my brother.

Did he and I decide together upon this relationship?  I don’t remember.  I do know that, as an only child, I very much wanted a brother — an older one who would pave the way for me.  I don’t think Jimmy would have filled the bill, but before we could put it to the test my mother had a talk with me (about truthfulness) and Jimmy and his family moved away.  I always wondered (with a five-year-old’s logic) if my mother had a talk with Jimmy, too.

Sydney, 1941

I don’t think their moving was related to my story-telling, but I do know that every time I hear the words “Big Brother is Watching” I think of that five-year-old’s fantasy and of how chagrined I felt when I was caught out by my mother. I also connect the Big Brother syndrome to those persistent communications from people I don’t know.   (Strangely, I never relate them to George Orwell or his book 1984.) But, I do wish my mom was still around to have a talk, not with me this time, but with Big Brother.  And truthfulness.  Maybe he would move away.

Maybe it’s a sign… for Tucker?

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

New “Cemetary” Sign

When I saw the newly posted sign by the Oysterville Cemetery Road, I immediately thought of our neighbor, Tucker.  Not only is he the current president  of the Oysterville Cemetery Association, but he has an abiding interest in signs.  This one would a perfect addition to his sign collection!

Oysterville Cemetery

It is located just across the road from the large wooden “Oysterville Cemetery” sign which has been there for years.  The original one was done by Herman Eberhardt’s Boy Scout troop back in the 1950s or ’60s.  I think it’s been replaced at least once by the Oysterville Cemetery Association.  You’d think that the signage team might have noticed the discrepancy in spelling while they were installing the new marker.  But… apparently, not.

Once upon a time, Oysterville Road had another name…

I’m not sure if it’s State or County that bears the responsibility for the signs along the Oysterville Road.  Probably the County.  And, it probably falls to Tucker in his presidential capacity to call the Public Works Department (or whoever is in charge of signage) and asking them to correct their spelling error.  And, maybe — just maybe — since they will have to discard the incorrect sign, anyway — they will let him add it to his sign collection.

Come to think of it — I wonder if all the cemeteries in the County have been newly (and incorrectly) posted.  Further, I wonder if Tucker could successfully claim them all if nobody else wanted them.  After all, it’s not everyone who collects signs — especially those that have an interesting story.

Here’s hoping!