Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Here comes winter!

Friday, November 9th, 2018

A Serious Fall Frost, 2013

The winter solstice is still a month and a half away – December 21st according to the calendar. But Jackie Frost has been here the last few nights as evidenced by the layer of white he’s been leaving here and there.  It’s a sure sign that summer is over and winter is making ready to descend.

When I was still teaching and traveled along the back road each day, I loved seeing the frost on the cranberry bogs with the accompanying dense layer of fog hovering just above ground level on early fall mornings.  Now my morning vista involves our expanse of lawn that turns frosty white and the sunrises over the bay that provide spectacular counterpoint to the somewhat bleak aspect of the garden.

A Serious Fall Sunrise, 2013

Of course, we could still have an Indian Summer.  Even though I’ve heard those warm days of the last few weeks referred to as just that, Farmer’s Almanac says that it’s not so.  Here are the criteria that the venerable publication lays out:

  • As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.
  • A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.
  • The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.
  • The conditions described above also must occur between St. Martin’s Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer’s Almanachas adhered to the saying, “If All Saints’ (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin’s brings out Indian summer.”

Frosty Under Foot

So, I’m looking forward to day after tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll have one more little spurt of warm, sunny weather.  Meanwhile, I’m bundling up for the morning and evening chicken run and watching out for that wintery skim of ice on their water container!  Brrrr.

The three Rs — Resolve, Review, Regroup

Wednesday, 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.

Mouth Watering Disappointment

Monday, 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!

Just sayin’…

Friday, 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!

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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.

On a Quest in Oysterville

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

No one could possibly mistake Nyel for a Hobbit.  Although he is shy (as are Hobbits) and is capable of great courage and amazing feats under the proper circumstances (as are hobbits), there the similarities end.  He’s not short and stubby.  He has a very respectable beard (which most Hobbits cannot grow) and his feet are neither covered with brown, curly hair nor do they have leathery soles.   He is not fond of beer, does not smoke a pipe, and I’m not sure if he is adept at throwing stones.

No.  Nyel is not a Hobbit.  Certainly, he is not Frodo Baggins.  But he is on a quest for a ring.  His wedding ring.  All of a sudden yesterday, it went missing.  “I was drying my hands after washing them at the kitchen sink and I noticed that it was gone,” he told me.  I was surprised at how upset he was and, also, suddenly aware of how thin he’s become – thin enough so that his ring could fall right off.

First off, I reached down into the garbage disposal and felt all around.  A few bits and pieces of a lettuce core (I think) but that was all.  We aren’t turning it on until we find the ring.  We retraced his steps (actually, his wheelchair tracks) in the carpet.  I looked under all the furniture.  I stripped the bed.  And Nyel called the Ocean Beach Clinic where he’d had an appointment yesterday morning.  I looked in the car and outside in front of the porch where the EMTs had transferred Nyel from wheelchair to car and back again.  All to no avail.

I woke up this morning wondering if a metal detector would work inside the house.  My almost-cuzzins Judy and Ed were here twice during the summer with Ed’s “retirement toy” but he confined his searches to our yard.  I think I’ll call and ask them what they think the possibilities would be of  coming to Oysterville for a wedding-ring-hunt.

Failing that, I think his Christmas gift will be a no-brainer – but only if Holly McCone can do a curbside fitting.  Meanwhile… we are on the quest.  And, if you happen to find a plain gold band with the well-worn initials NLS-SML-09-13-87 inside it, please give a holler.  As far as we know, it has no special powers, but there’s no use risking the fate of Gollum by hanging onto it.

The Peninsula’s Best Kept Secret

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Wheelchair – Awaiting Transport

Most of us know to call 911 in case of emergency.  If it’s a medical emergency, an aid car or an ambulance – sometimes both – arrives within minutes.  But, we didn’t know until a few years ago that the EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) can be called upon for assistance in other, non-emergency situations.  When that is the case, you call the regular, business number of your local fire department (for us, the Ocean Park Fire Station) and explain what sort of assistance you need and when you will be needing it.

Right now, and for the next several “non-weight-bearing” months while Nyel’s mobility is limited, we call for assistance getting Nyel in and out of the car.  He is totally capable of most wheelchair maneuvers in the house, but steps are another matter.  When we have to leave the premises for a doctor’s appointment, it’s a little tricky.

Preparing Wheelchair for Transport: Step One Remove Footrests

He’s working on developing enough strength to hop with his “good leg” to get one step down from living room to porch and one somewhat higher step down from porch to ground-level (and then, of course, back again at the end of the journey).  Until he can do that (with me hovering around uselessly) it’s EMTs to the rescue!  They arrive in pairs and one stations himself at the front of the wheelchair and one at the back.  Voila!  Easy Peasy.   He’s in the car before you know it!

Preparing Wheelchair for Transport, Step Two: Remove Seat Cushion

Today we had them collapse Nyel’s wheelchair and tuck it behind the driver’s seat – (do Linda and Harry Schleef know how we bless them every single day for the loan of this perfect little wheelchair?) – and at the other end of our journey I was able to get it out, un-collapse it and put seat and footrests back and then reverse the process to get us home.  We called the Fire Station when we were about twenty minutes out and they met us at the house to get Nyel back inside.  I can’t even imagine what we would do without them!

Preparing Wheelchair for Transport, Step Three: Collapse for Transfer to Car

And… that’s not all!  Last week they came and changed out all our smoke detectors, installed a carbon monoxide detector and told us to call whenever we have lightbulbs that need changing with a ladder involved.  OMG!  I can’t tell you how many times we have prevailed upon friends who, of course, have no more business than we do on ladders.  It’s a problem when you have twelve-foot ceilings in parts of the house!

Several of our friends in the “big city” have told us how lucky we are, assuming that they don’t have that kind of assistance available to them – that it’s just a rural thing.  I can’t really believe that, but I don’t know.  I do know that our EMTs (who are also fire fighters) say about 90% of their calls these days involve medical situations, not fires.  “Better construction techniques and better fire safety education these days,” said one.  “Yeah, it used to be that we were fire fighters with some medical expertise.  It’s the other way around these days.”

This Boot’s NOT For Walkin’!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Basic Black, Peek-a-Boo Toe Model

The Good News:  Cast came off.  Stitches (some) came out. A removable boot replaced the cast.

The Not-So-Good News:  Back to Vancouver in a week for removal of remaining stitches.

The boot, of course, is for comfort (as opposed to the cast.) It is to be taken off several times a day so the patient can flex his toes and foot and, also, at night so he can sleep more comfortably.  His leg, deceptive though the boot may be, is still NON-WEIGHT-BEARING all caps.  Everyone said he’d be much happier without the cast but… I’m thinking the jury is still out on that.  Nyel certainly isn’t jumping up and down for joy.  On the other hand, he has made no complaints.  He really is a SUPER PATIENT all caps.

Oh My!

Since it’s his left leg and, since we have an automatic transmission, Nyel asked the doctor if he could drive.  I thought the answer would be the old “do you have a valid driver’s license?” response, but this is a very serious doctor.  Instead, he responded, “As long as you are not taking narcotics.”  No problem.  Nyel finished up the four days of pain meds they gave him on his release from the hospital after surgery and, since then, has not taken as much as a Tylenol or Aleve.  He says nothing hurts.

The Casting Room

He, of course, offered to drive home, but I demurred.  It was still light out and the fog (which was awful on our tip in to Rebound in the morning) had mostly lifted.  I thought it might be better for Nyel to do his initial driving-run on the Peninsula before he tackled the highway.  Probably silly, but he didn’t argue, so I’m thinking it was the right call.

We arrived home without incident and our fabulous EMTs, Mike and Lani Karvia, were waiting to transport Nyel from car to house.  (Those two pesky steps are a bummer, wheelchair-wise!)  Oh… and the other good news: the doctor also okayed skooter usage.  Today Nyel will be putting together (“some assembly required”) his Knee Rover.  Every day a new adventure with Patient Nyel!

My Man in the Kitchen

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

You can tell a lot about a man by taking a look at his relationship to the kitchen. You can judge his self-confidence, his ingenuity, his sense of adventure, and probably his political attitude, well.  When that man is in the kitchen in a wheelchair, you can learn even more.

From the time of our very first “date,” I’ve been aware of Nyel’s confidence and competence in the kitchen.  On that particular occasion, nearly 35 years ago, he brought all the ingredients to my house and prepared a gourmet meal for me – chicken with grapes!  And all the trimmings right down to Dilettante chocolates and brandy for dessert.  OMG!  I was in love.

I remember that he made his way around my meager kitchen with ‘nary a question. He eyeballed the hanging pots and pans, inventoried what was on the open shelves, checked out the refrigerator and set up shop – all the while, unpacking the groceries he had brought and getting right down to it.  He did have a cookbook with him – Craig Claiborne’s 60-Minute Gourmet.

I think I probably asked him, “Do you really like to cook?”  His answer:  “I like to eat.”  Since I’m not passionate about either of those activities, I was filled with wonder.  I still am.  After all these years, Nyel still does most of the cooking in our household – whether it’s for company dinner or just for the two of us.  It’s not that I can’t cook – I just don’t much like to.

The last time Nyel was seriously impaired and completely bed-bound for three months, we managed just fine.  I’m not an inventive cook, but I can do three meals a day without difficulty.  As Nyel often points out to me, I did just fine raising a family and doing kitchen-duty for the forty-seven years before he and I met.  My rejoinder, of course, “That didn’t mean I liked it.”

Both of us are firm believers in cooking from scratch. Fresh produce, fresh meat, home-made soup – the basics.  I try to ‘enjoy’ my time in the kitchen, but both of us know that the stretch from ‘endure’ to ‘enjoy’ is a long one for me.  Our friends know that, too, and we have been blessed with many gifts of food – sometimes the ingredients for an easy-peasy-just-open-the-package-and-heat-and-serve meals, and sometimes casseroles or soups ready to put on the table.

Meanwhile, in true you-can’t-keep-a-good-man-down fashion, Nyel is back in his domain at the west end of the house!  If it’s within his reach from the wheelchair, it’s food for fodder, so to speak!  He’s pretty much got breakfast and lunch covered.  Cooking dinner has become a tandem affair – he does the prep at the table and I do the stand-up routines at the stove. What a team!  One thing for sure… we are not suffering in the meal department.  My man in the kitchen sees to that!