Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Comfort Food and Naps

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Like everyone else of a certain age, I’ve experienced my share of stress — more than half of the ten “most stressful life events” according to the Holmes And Rahe Stress Scale.  But I don’t think I’ve ever experienced “group stress” on such a grand scale as the last few days.

It’s not among any activities I would ever recommend to anyone I care for.  And yet, almost everyone I know — whether friends, acquaintances, or “others” — were undoubtedly going through the same thing.  As in… no one to turn to if companionship was a possible answer to the situation.  Besides… there is Covid.  And it’s rainy and gloomy.

Tuesday night, we looked and listened and the disbelief settled in.  Yesterday, we checked with the latest news reports and both began to exhibit physical symptoms.  Nyel just plain “didn’t feel good” and slept in his wheelchair most of the day.  My left hip decided to act up and I truly worried that it was an early warning signal for a hip replacement.  I slept the afternoon away and felt a little better.  We bagged our usual healthy meal regime and resorted to comfort snacks.

Meanwhile, we did what millions of our countrymen and dozens of our  friends were probably doing — reviewed the last four years, thought about the mainstream media, wondered what the hell was wrong with the pollsters, and tried to come to grips (again!!) with what our country has come to.  I felt like I was giving up hope; realizing that perhaps hope does not spring eternal.  And trying, once again, to empathize with all of those, world-wide, who are so much worse off.  Not helpful.

Today doesn’t look to be much better.  Presumably, at ten o’clock this morning we’ll know more about Nevada… And I keep thinking that “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  Somehow, this too shall pass — but when?  Will I still be here to witness it?

Bring on the mac’n’cheese!

While we hold our breath…

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020


I should never have mentioned it…

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

The Doe Is Back!

I know that it probably is not related to the “conversation” I had with the young doe the other day, but I feel guilty nevertheless.  You might remember that the discussion (one-sided though it was) concerned her lovely, slim legs and sylph-like ankles and my amazement over their strength as well as their beauty.

Young Buck on Guard Duty

Yesterday, she was back but, this time, with a young and very attentive buck.  He stayed close by her — a bit more skittish than she, but even when he jumped the fence to get out of the yard and to distance himself from me, he immediately jumped back over and stood watch nearby.  She, meanwhile, ambled toward the pear tree and it was then that I noticed she was limping.  She was favoring her right foreleg and I immediately felt responsible.  Had I not mentioned her legs the other day (I think I even talked about osteoporosis!), surely she wouldn’t be limping.  I must have set her up…

Staying Nearby

My other thought was that the buck wasn’t just being flirtatious.  Maybe he was keeping an eye out for her — staying nearby just in case.  A foolish thought, perhaps, but I didn’t change my mind during the twenty minutes we all shared the garden.  (Nyel was out there, too, working on the rhodies along the east fence, but I was the one they were keeping an eye on. He, apparently, wasn’t of interest.)

As the doe browsed for fallen pears, the buck kept watch, his eyes seldom leaving me.  Mostly, he stood nearby, though once or twice he “floated” quickly to another vantage point.  (If you’ve ever watched a buck’s legs as he runs, you know what I mean about floating.)

Nyel thinks the doe may have a hoof problem rather than a leg problem.  That doesn’t really assuage my guilt, even though I know my cause-effect scenario is ridiculous.  Whatever the problem, though, I hope it heals itself.  Soon.

Doom, Gloom, and the Zoom Boom

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Well, there is just no way around it.  Zoom has become a part of our lives whether we want it to be or not.  Like almost everyone we know, we’ve attended zoom meetings, zoom reunions, zoom celebrations and zoom chats with our loved ones.  We are soon to embark on a zoom Reader’s Theater endeavor with Kuzzin Kris, her Brother Bruce, and several other Kuzzins that we only know of but have yet to meet.  Zoom activities seem destined to chase away the doom and gloom of the Sheltering Winter ahead.

But the very best Zoom application that we’ve been involved in are the Virtual Checkups that Nyel has had with his cardiologist who happens to be in Seattle.  Since I’m the designated driver and a round-trip to Seattle has become increasingly difficult over the years, I am jumping up and down with joy over this innovative appointment alternative, you betcha!  Especially since, in my bladder-weakend-old-age, getting to Seattle and back requires AT LEAST four pit stops and I have absolutely no desire to face the public restrooms between here and there.  Not until the Covid Threat is over or a Failsafe Vaccine becomes available here in the Outlying Areas.

However, there is one upsetting corollary (which is probably not the correct word choice here) to the entire Seattle zooming experience.  Our pre-pandemic routine (and for years before Nyel was cardio-doctor-dependent) was to coordinate ALL Seattle visits with a trip to my hair stylist, Elizabeth.  She kept me trimmed and trendy for twenty-five years but… alas!  I don’t think she has yet mastered haircutting via Zoom.

It’s bound to happen eventually!  If kids can go to virtual classes and doctors can evaluate their patients by Zoom, there surely can be no limits to its usefulness.  There is bound to come a time when the haircutter can just reach on through your computer and fix you right up!

I just read that Zoom has added 2.2 million MONTHLY active users in 2020, while in ALL of 2019, it added only 1.99 million users.   So it’s only a matter of time doncha think?  We all should have bought stock in the company back in the early oughts.  Maybe it’s not too late to invest my haircut money in Zoom stock against the day when Elizabeth and I can do business once more.  Virtually!


The Iconic Sound of Autumn in Oysterville

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

The Duckhunter – Watercolor by Eric Wiegardt

Pop!  Pop!  Pop!  The sound of duck hunters down by the bay.  Until this morning I didn’t realize how much I missed that iconic sound of Oysterville.  It may be because of my aging ears but I don’t think that accounts for most of the early morning silence out on the bay.  I’m not sure we have many (if any) hunters in residence right now.

It would have all gone right by me except that I happened to call Dobby Wiegardt this morning.  As the phone was ringing I suddenly realized it might be too early for him but, right at that moment he answered.  “No, not early at all, he said.  I’m just sitting here watching the ducks.  The tide is low and they’re all coming in to feed.”

Duck Hunters Chris and Larry Freshley

I’m not a hunter, although I had plenty of chances during the years I was Dobby’s next door neighbor.  It wasn’t that I objected to the duck hunting, (and I certainly appreciate a good duck dinner), but I never took him up on the offer.  I just can’t bring myself to any sort of comfort level around guns.  Any type of guns.  It’s a wimpy, city-girl sort of thing I think.

When Nyel joined the household, long guns came with him and, soon, he was out there doing his share of “Pop! Pop! Pop!”  But, when we moved into “town,” other activities took precedence.  Only when the “Freshley Boys” (and more recently, Dave Cordray) are in town does that special sound of Autumn resonate here these days.

Too, in recent years, our friends among the newer arrivals on the Peninsula lament the hunting seasons.  I think that it is fast becoming a demarcation line between the old guard and the newcomers — another indicator of the many changes that are galloping along to overtake us.  Or… more probably, it’s just the years catching up with me that are causing me to notice.  Hard to tell sometimes.


The worlds I live in: Real, Virtual, Imaginary

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

 Helen Richardson, 1896

When things in this “real  world” – if, indeed, a world depending mostly on virtual contacts and communications can be termed “real” — becomes especially tense and unpleasant, I find it helpful to step back in time.  Not a virtual step, mind you.  These days anything “virtual” is much too close to our present reality.  No, for my sanity I’d rather take a totally imaginary step.  A step based in historical documentation but with myself as a participant in the action.

Lamplighter at Work

This morning my thoughts have been centered on my grandmother Helen Richardson Espy.  She came to Oysterville as a young married woman with the understanding that it would be for only “a few years.” She was a city girl and Oysterville was more backward than she could have imagined.  She hated it and only because of her great love for my grandfather and her devotion to her children was she able to manage.  She remained here until her death more than fifty years  later.  It was not until close to the end of her life that she realized she had grown to love this place, after all.

But it’s the story of her early childhood that I love best.  She was born in Mexico City — her father was attached to the American Embassy there and her mother was the daughter of ex-pats — Southerners who had fled America at the end of the Civil War.  She first came to the United States  in 1879 or 1880 when she was about a year and a half old.

The family lived in San Francisco until young Helen was school age. Her first memory was watching from the window of their house on Montgomery Street as the lamplighter stopped his horse each evening at one lamppost after another, igniting the lamps with his taper.  There were other memories that she jotted down for her son Willard to include in his 1978 book, Oysterville Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

Once a Familiar Sight in San Francisco c. 1890

How I loved to hear the tamale man sing as he wheeled his cart down Market Street, “Tamale, tamale, ’tis good da cheek-in tamale”…There was Sing, the Chinaman, with his long queue and laughing face, and baskets of vegetables hanging one at each end of a pole that he balanced over his shoulder as he dogtrotted from house to house… But I hated it when my nurse took me through the steep hills of Chinatown.  Such smells– such noises– and once there were two little boys asleep in a box suspended by a hook from the ceiling…

My mind leapt forward to my friend Milton Quan’s memory of his mother, Gracie, tethering him and his brother to the flagpole on the beach when they were little.   It was at China Camp (since 1979, China Camp State Park) on San Pablo Bay where he grew up in the 1940s.  Both of us agree that Gracie was a smart and careful mom — the boys could play endlessly in the sand with their toy trucks while they were safely out of the tide’s reach.   I wonder if I could have shared his story with my grandmother… would she have felt differently about the boys in the box…

China Camp

Once again I am reminded that imagination, reality, past, and present have a way of colliding.  A trip back in time provides a lovely interlude but, even still, such a journey is always a reminder that life is full of misunderstandings of one kind or another.  The safest remedy in my mind:  keep your perspective and sense of humor intact for all your worlds — real, virtual, imaginary.  And any others that take your fancy.


Is bigger really better? Just wondering…

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

At Our Neighbor’s Place

Nine days have passed since I wrote here of the Great Pumpkin’s choosy beneficence in Oysterville.  Apparently, he (or one of his minions) reads my blog and decided to remedy his lack of attention to some of us — at least with regard to our property and that of one of our neighbors.

Rather than pumpkins, though, we have scored what appear to be phallic gourds.  I think they are correctly called “Long-necked Ornamental Gourds.”  This is the second or third year the Great Pumpkin has so honored us.

On the website, they are listed as “long neck dipper gourds” and are described as having a lengthy handle (so THAT’s what that is!) and large ball (yeah, that one was clear).  They go on to say that they are “great for birdhouses, painting and other crafts.”  The Amish Gourds company sell all their gourds dried and cleaned and for $62.99 you can buy a box of eight Apache Dipper Gourds with bulbs between 5-6 inches in diameter and around 12-14 inches tall.  “These Apache dipper gourds are excellent for wood-burning, painting, and birdhouses… The total length of the gourd following along the curve is around 15-20 inches.”  Wow!

Ours, though it might be bigger than our neighbor’s, is not nearly as large as those big Apache Gourds.  I guess the Great Pumpkin wasn’t ready to invest that much in his belated delivery.  Nevertheless, now that we know the many uses that can be made of  the Great Pumpkin’s gift, we are preparing the drying ovens and sharpening our knives.  Woot!  Woot!

As for Dan’s sign… I imagine most people in Pacific County have already voted.  For Dan, we hope!  So… over and out.

Are we celebrating or mourning?

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

May Blossoms

We’ll miss the apple blossoms in May and the harvest in August.  And we’ll miss the tang of apples fresh from the tree and the special flavor of those Rajka Rezistas when transformed into apple sauce or apple pie or apple butter by Chef Nyel.  But we won’t miss the tree, itself — always leaning eastward, always struggling to hide its leaves and fruit from the deer people, and always in the way when Tom is mowing the south garden.

And now it’s gone.  It didn’t take long for Eugene and his chain saw to cut it off at ground level (or, actually, a bit below ) and to cart it off in his truck.  Farmer Nyel says we’ll cover the (sort-of-) stump with some of that good mole-hill dirt and sow some grass seed.  “By next summer, the tree will be but a memory.”

Apples on the Hoof

Sadly, yes.  Not only the memory of feathery flowers and delicious fruit, but of Randal and Susan and the Bays Boys harvesting those apples for us summer after summer.  Their timing with apple-picking was as perfect as their timing when playing music. Which is often why they were here around Labor Day Weekend every year — to perform at Vespers and, of recent years, to help out us old “honorary grandparents” (or so we think of ourselves, whether or not they do.)

Our Once-Upon-A-Time Apple Tree

Yesterday, Nyel made apple pan dowdy with the very last of this year’s harvest — a harvest which he managed, himself, standing on his one good leg with me and his wheelchair hovering (and trying not to) behind.  We’ll eat it for dessert this evening with mixed feelings and ice cream.  Another reminder that nothing lasts forever but, in this case, we hope we can hang on to those apple memories indefinitely.

Jeeves, Pooh, “The Boys” and me

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Don’t get me wrong.  I am delighted that Timberland Library is up and running and even more delighted that they are being mindful to the max — not allowing us inside, quarantining books, double-checking our card numbers. But, when the wait for a book turns into weeks rather than days, I have to revert to our home library which at this point in the Time of Sheltering is getting to be Old News.

Nevertheless, last night, in a bit of desperation, I grabbed a P.G. Wodehouse book — Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves and found it was “just the t.” as Bertie Wooster might say.  Like A.A. Milne’s Pooh books and G.M. Ford’s Leo Waterman series with its improbable cast of wino operatives known as “The Boys,” Jeeves and Bertie never cease to amuse and amaze — no matter how many re-reads they get.

As peculiar as it seems, all these authors ring the same bell for me.  They take a look at human character through an unfamiliar lens and remind me that whatever my own problems are, they are pretty puny (and boring) in the great scheme of things.  And even better right now, they encourage me to look at our own lives in their current situation as a bizarre and improbable story.  I can’t help but wonder if it were in book form, who would claim authorship.  It certainly wouldn’t be my choice for bedtime reading.


In the non-pumpkin zone… again!

Sunday, October 18th, 2020

Along Territory Road, 2010

The Great Pumpkin struck again yesterday.  He arrived (in broad daylight!) with a pick-up load of pumpkins and scattered them artistically through town.  When he began his tradition here in 2010, he left his bright orbs of color throughout the village — a few here and a few there along the verges.  There were some pumpkins  in front of every house as well as in front of the church and schoolhouse.  Since 2015… not so much.

You can definitely tell who’s considered “in” and who is considered “out” by Oysterville’s Great Pumpkin.  We,  like the church and a number of other places along Territory Road are obviously “out.”  Not a pumpkin to be seen.

Sally and Linus

Oh well.  Unlike Sally Brown and Linus van Pelt, we won’t be up all night over it.  In a way, it seems like good advertising… most of us that don’t get pumpkins aren’t Great Pumpkin aficionados.  It seems to be a two-way street… or verge, as the case may be — just one more indicator of the Great Divide in our wee hamlet.