Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

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!

Another Mystery In the Coop

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Wind-proof Latch

The gate into our side yard (where the cannon lives in the good-weather months) was wide open yesterday when we returned from erranding.  I’d like to say that’s  not an unusual occurrence and lately that’s been true.  But there was a time, when it happened all too often.  Mostly on weekends.

Nyel thought that it was blowing open (mostly on weekends?) and so Tucker replaced the latch (which is on the inside) and adjusted the gate props that keep it closed.  Still… once in a while it is somehow opened and, with free range chickens, it is worrisome.

We know it wasn’t anyone trying to get a better look at the cannon.  It’s put away for the winter these days. It could have been the propane guy but, until we get the bill, we have no way of knowing if he was here.  It could have been kids, but as far as I know, there were none in town yesterday.  Another one of life’s little mysteries…

Open Coop Gate

A little later when I went down to the coop at dusk, the coop gate was closed and the chickens were clucking and clacking outside it — wanting to get into the coop to roost for the night.  Four chickens.  One missing.  Slutvana!   I called and called, even after the others were snugged in for the night.  No Slutvana.

“The coop gate could have blown shut,” Nyel said.  Yes, maybe.  But it seems odd that the garden gate was open and the coop gate was shut, both on the same day. My own clucking and worrying was rewarded today with the sight of Slutvana joining the others for morning snacks.

I should say trying to join the others.  They were all huffy toward her — did not let her near the treats.  They seemed to be scolding her for not waiting patiently with them at the coop gate.  And for staying out all night.  I wonder if she has learned a lesson?  I know I have.  I’m propping that gate open from now on.  With a heavy cement block.

The Gift of Time

Monday, November 25th, 2019

Schoolhouse Clock

Somewhere along the line during the years I was teaching — (1962-2001) — it became unpopular to have a child repeat a grade.  Kindergarten parents, especially, were appalled that their child might “fail” kindergarten.  “Failure” implied some sort of inability to learn or to fit in with peers — unthinkable!  Educators began talking about providing “the gift of time” — which sounded a lot better, somehow, than “repeating a grade.”

I often wondered how my great-grandmother would have thought about that “gift of time.”  She had been a school teacher right here in Oysterville but, of course in those days, had to give up that occupation when she married my great-grandfather.  However, she taught all seven of her children to read and write, instructing them at home until they were eight or nine years old.  I imagine that “gift of time” was built right into doing chores, learning how to take responsibility, working with others and building moral character.  All my great aunts and uncles attended college in the 1890s and 1900s, had successful careers (even the women until they married) and raised their families with love and firmness.

I’m not sure what got me off on this rant — old lady ramblings, I guess.  I actually began this blog with the thought that my own days never have enough time.  Especially enough time to write.  Then I had the irreverent thought that it’s too bad I’m not a poet.  Surely, a poem does not take as long to write as a full-blown story or article.  Or maybe it does…  My poet friends will no doubt weigh in and take me to task.

Einstein was right — time is relative.  For a five year old, a year is a very long time.  To us elders, a year speeds by before we can get our shoes on.  But no matter which end of life’s continuum we find ourselves straddling, as I see it a gift of time is always welcome.



The Ache In My Heart

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Bookwoman on Horseback delivering books to a rural school

The other night, Vickie Carter told me about the “Horseback Librarians” and then followed up by sending me this link:   The images are stunning.  They tugged at my heart.

I had never heard of this particular WPA project before.  Vickie’s mention came right at the time when Nyel and I are watching the Ken Burns “Country Music” series on Netflix — a gazillion more images from our beleagured country during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years.  And, too, images from the WPA projects and the beginnings of hope for so many.

“Migrant Mother” by Dorthea Lange

I thought of Dorthea Lange and her iconic photographs of migrant California farm workers — photographs taken as part of yet another WPA project.  They  have become symbols of the hard times for those years that the oldest of us only remember through the stories of our parents.   And I thought of how few of us there were gathered  at her funeral in Berkeley in 1965 to pay her tribute.  My heart ached then, too.

I went to a bookshelf in our library to look for my copy of Washington, A Guide to the Evergreen State — part of the WPA Writers Project and published in 1941.  My friend John Snyder had snagged it at a book sale years ago and knew I’d love it.  Again, my heart ached but more because I couldn’t locate the volume.  I’ll probably spend the day looking…

Vintage WPA Poster

Lots of heartache this morning!  Our “hard times” now need a different kind of vision than FDR’s New Deal and the WPA.  I wonder if there is anyone imaginative enough and tough enough and charismatic enough to fill the bill.  And what will the price be this time around?

Not a very cheerful beginning to this Sunday morning, I’m afraid.  I’m off to talk to the chickens about it all.  At least they will cluck-cluck sympathetically — not a solution but it beats a tweeting alternative.

Gather ’round! It’s the visiting season!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Friday Night in November 2019

Last night it was SRO at our usual Friday gathering.  We ran out of chairs so we spilled over from library to living room.  Hal sat on the floor and I meant to see how he’d manage to get up — but I forgot.  I can still do it, but it’s not a pretty picture — not popping up like toast as it was in the days before I got old and creaky,

Sue, Carol, Sandra — All A-Tangle?

The fiber arts ladies (or so I call the knitters and quilters) sat on the couch and played cats cradle.  Not really, but that’s what it looked like.  I think they were helping Sandra with a problem.  It took a while but they got it solved.

Tucker actually brought a hand truck loaded with his show-and-tell for the evening — some of his sign collection which included  few old Oysterville signs, a discarded tsunami sign,  and a yellow stop sign.  Yes, yellow.  Only a few of us remembered them. Ahem!  From The Manual of Traffic Signs on

The first STOP sign appeared in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. There were a variety of colors used for STOP signs until the late 1920s, when the background color was standardized on yellow for maximum day and night visibility. Remember that this was a number of years before the invention of glass-bead retroreflectorization for sign faces, so a red sign looked very dark at night.

Until 1954

By 1954, signmakers were able to use durable fade-resistant red coatings for sign faces, so the background color of the STOP sign was changed to the red color you see today. This change also served to distinguish the regulatory STOP sign from yellow warning signs, and also made the color consistent with that of red traffic signal indications, which for decades had used red to signal “stop”.

So there you have it.  We learn a lot on Friday nights!