Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

So glad to be back! I missed you!

Friday, June 19th, 2020

Nyel is too kind to give me a bad time about my FaceBook proclivities —  (penchants that he doesn’t share).  He just remains silent but I know that deep in his heart he likes to hear my “reports” about what our friends are up to, what they are saying, what we are missing.  I make no bones about it.  Our recent blackout due to CenturyTel’s ineptness, put me in touch with my feelings about the internet and, especially FB, in a big way.

I missed Frank Lehn’s reasoned reactions to so many things and Keith Cox’s amazing historical photos.  I missed Mark Peterson’s pithy, punny comments.  I missed Stephanie’s connections with the down-and-dirty-everyday-stuff.  I missed my Marta and Charlie’s serious, thoughtful commentaries on the Big Issues of the here-and-now, and I missed so, so many people’s kind comments on whatever I happened to be “on” about.  Karin Marasko surprised me by writing that she was worried about us… Bless her!…   I missed Brigid Brigid Byrne who loves me no matter what, and I even missed my friends who scold me about this or that —

Which reminds me of a thought I had before we were up and running again.  I think that lately (probably since the sheltering began) FaceBookers are more apt to share their strong opinions and be critical of others than they have in the past.  Not everyone and not all the time — but enough to notice.

Is it because, in the normal course of events, we have had more opportunities to speak our minds in person and leave FaceBook for the more benign interactions?  Or is it because we have more time now to inform ourselves about what’s happening beyond our comfort zone and we are feeling the need to weigh in?

I find myself wondering if putting our strong opinions “out there” helps inform others or creates more divisiveness.   Are we keeping open minds or are we digging our heels in?  Once we’ve put an opinion in writing, does it quickly morph into a truism in our minds or is it open for debate?  Does “social media” make it easier to express the thoughts we wouldn’t otherwise say to “just anyone.”  And, if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It’s amazing where a few days off-line leads… especially during this time of  continued sheltering for old folks.  It wasn’t nearly as restful as it should have been.

Doncha just love MaBell?

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Ready! Set! Visit!

Yesterday, we had a little “garden get-together” with a few of our Friday Nighters.  The afternoon was fairly warm, fairly sunny, and we were ready to have a visit.  It didn’t hurt any that, in addition to sheltering, we had been without internet service since Monday night.  Thank goodness for the magic of cell phones, but even so, we felt pretty cut off from the world.

High time to reconnect, we thought!  And it was lovely.  Our usual Friday night visits are from five to seven o’clock which usually feels just about right.  Yesterday we gathered at two and talked non-stop until one of the guests said, “it’s getting to be about seven…”  It wasn’t, of course, but it was nearly five.  Time flies, as they say.

Ernestine the Operator

Meanwhile, we had (of course!) been on the phone to CenturyTel’s robot help service, then to a live voice somewhere in EST, then to a live voice whose English was not even close to a second language and neither Nyel nor I could understand.  Several call-backs and emails over several days and they FINALLY sent a technician! He arrived this morning about ten-thirty.

“I won’t leave until this is resolved,” he said.  And he didn’t!  Bless him! He was here for a couple of hours.  In the end he said it was a “virtual problem.”  I asked him to explain and, if I understood correctly, it went something like this:  First there was a small outage nearby (which the robot had told us there wasn’t and, perhaps we weren’t even involved in it.)  Then, the East Coast live voice located the outage and tried to fix it.  By then, however, it had already been fixed, so the East Coast “fix” screwed us up, even though we might have been fine had he left it alone.  Then when we called the second day, the robot had to check things out again and found the big news:  we had no internet service.  So, finally on Day Three they sent the technician.

“I’m reporting what happened,” he told us, “so, if you want to, you can ask them for credit on your account for the days you were down.  And, next time,” he said, “just call me directly.  I can probably fix it without all that virtual stuff.”

“Precision Wires”

I was absolutely amazed to find that Nyel did, indeed call CenturyTel to see about a refund.  “We’re getting credit for $1.50 plus tax,” he told me a few minutes ago.  Wow!  Three days of internet service comes to 50 cents a day?  Why do I feel there is something wrong with this picture? I looked on my CenturyTel bill, but of course, nothing says “Internet Service.”  And there are no numbers smaller than about a gazillion.

Oh well.  We’ll just have another Garden Gathering.  Misery always loves company.

Here in Oysterville… June!

Monday, June 15th, 2020

I’m not sure about other places, but here in Oysterville the month of June is usually a bust.  It equivocates.  It’s ambiguous.  It shilly-shallies around.  It is definitely unclear about its intent.

Seldom (actually, some years never) is there a “rare” June day as described by poet James Russell Lowell.  Nor is it “bustin’ out all over” as the Rodgers and Hammerstein song declares.  It doesn’t present us with “dry, hazy June weather” as Henry David Thoreau suggested.  Mostly, it’s a little of this and a little of that but nothing you can count on here in Oysterville.

May promised us picnic weather on the way.  But, apparently not in June.  Usually, too, June delivers the end of school days and gives proms and graduations and the beginning of a sunny future.  This year, not quite so much; not quite the same.  And not just here in Oysterville.

Here in Oysterville for almost 40 years, June has meant the beginning of our Summer Vesper Programs with Sundays of music and blessings and cozy fellowship.  In the uncertain June weather, we  have counted on the church providing the warmth of remembrance and the feeling of past generations reassuringly nearby.  This year is different and June has fewer places to c0zy up in here in Oysterville.

Today we are halfway through this dithery month.  We woke up to wind and rain.  But, even at five-thirty it was light.  And warm.  Not January or February.  Not July or August, either.  By ten, the clouds were trying to make way for blue skies but the trees and shrubs still dripped.  The wind still blustered a bit.  Maybe it will yet offer a few hours of outside lollygagging time here in Oysterville.  Who knows?  It’s June!

Five more days until summer.  Fifteen days until June can be put to rest for another year.   Surely July will bring warmth and watermelon and days for wading in Willapa Bay right in front of Oysterville!

On the other hand, according to an old English proverb:  “If the first of July be rainy weather, It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together.”  YIKES!  Surely not here in Oysterville!

Everything’s rosy at our house!

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Dorothy Perkins – 2016

Just when I begin lamenting the end of the lilacs and rhododendrons in our garden, here come the roses!  They always take me by surprise — mostly because they come in June which isn’t a very rosy month here in Oysterville — nor weather-wise, anyway.  It’s usually misty-moisty or downright rainy, and could spoil my Oh-Boy-It’s-Almost-Summer attitude.  But, then… tah dah!  Here come the roses!

Hybrid Tea Rose, Maybe

We have four different kinds of roses in our garden.  Three of them are back behind the kitchen where they are seldom seen except by us.  Somehow, that pleases me.  One bush (or is it a tree?) grows against the house outside my office.  It can only be seen from the kitchen window and I think it knows that it blooms just for us.  I have no idea what kind it is — maybe a “hybrid tea rose” whatever that is.  It looks like it would make a perfect bud vase sort of rose — but it really doesn’t.  I’ve learned to leave it uncut if I want to enjoy it for a longer period of time.  Of the four roses in our garden, it’s the only one with a fragrance that my old nose can detect.

Old Fashioned Climber

Just beyond that lovely deep red rose are the delicate little pinky-white climbing roses that came out of nowhere and established themselves along the back wall of our garage.  For lack of a proper name, I just refer to them as “old-fashioned climbers.”   Cutting them for bouquets is always tempting but they told me long ago that they don’t like it.  They are happiest in situ.

And then there are the York Roses, or at least that’s what my dad called them.  They are a variegated rose, red and white, and are said to commemorate the Wars of the Roses (1455-85), a series of English civil wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York.   The wars were named many years afterward from the badges of the contending parties: the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.  Although my dad always called it the “York Rose” it is more properly known (of course) as the “York and Lancaster.”

York Roses

Our only roses that are up front for all the world to see are the sweet little Dorothy Perkins that climb along our west fence.  First planted here in the 1920s by my grandmother, they bloom all summer and fall but have yet to make their appearance this year.  Over the years, many people — visitors as well as locals — have asked for cuttings which we have willingly supplied.  It pleases me to think that Dorothy Perkins on other fences in town — at the church and near the schoolhouse — came originally from Helen Richardson Espy, my beloved “Granny.”

Let them eat bread! Nyel’s sourdough bread!

Friday, June 12th, 2020

Hot Our Of The Oven

The day after the Madigans brought their bread-baking care package to Nyel, he was feeding his sourdough starter…  Two days later, he baked.  Just one loaf (more’s the pity) but it was “a little bit experimental,” he said.  It was his third time trying a particular no-knead recipe and he wasn’t about to waste time or ingredients if it failed.  Not that the first two trials were failures, but he is SUCH a perfectionist.

The problem hadn’t been in the finished product.  Far from it!  So I probably hadn’t been as sympathetic as I could have been.  (I was much too busy scarfing down bread-hot-out-of-the-oven-and-dripping-with-melting-butter!) The difficulty had been in the process, with bread dough so sticky he could hardly handle it.

Michael was familiar with the recipe.  “You can add as much as 10 grams more flour,” he told Nyel.  Plus, he suggested being very liberal with the flour on counter and hands as Nyel was forming the loaf… The bread turned out perfectly!  There’s nothing like getting advice from an expert.

I know it’s a bit of a quantum leap, but I was wondering if the protesters on Capitol Hill in Seattle would have been so destructive if they could have had a few pieces of that fabulous loaf — as in “let them eat bread” and having enough for the multitudes as in the loaves and fishes story in the Good Book.

And, I’d definitely like to share with Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan and with our Governor Jay Inslee.  They each deserve a loaf and more for their tweets in response to the threats by the prez.  “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker!” Durkan tweeted. And in a tweet using one of Trump’s own mis-spellings, Inslee said, “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. ‘Stoop’ tweeting.”

Let them all eat bread, I say.  Nyel’s sourdough perfection!  It would mellow things right out as breaking bread together is meant to do.


Does anyone know Chrissy?

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

A Package For Me!

Last night we received two Amazon orders via UPS.  One package was for Nyel — a hose bib connector — and one was for me.  I was sure it was the wall clock I had ordered to replace our thirty-year-old kitchen clock whose (apparently) irreplaceable motor died.  Amazon had been notifying me for several days that I would get it on Wednesday, June 10th.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found a pair of comfortable looking white shoes in a size not mine and a lipstick-sized concealer I don’t need!  We double-checked.  Yes the “familiar” label full of barcodes and other official-looking stuff had my name and the correct address.  BUT… on the other side was a similar label addressed to a woman named “Chrissy” who lives in Santa Rosa, California.  Obviously automation had run amock in the packing department at Amazon.

Not My Stuff!

I looked for Chrissy on FB and found three people with the same name — one who says she goes or has gone to San Francisco State University.  Close enough.  I messaged her but I don’t know if it will reach her or not.  Nyel thinks she might be a nurse — judging from the shoes.

Meanwhile, I called the Amazon HELP number and got the robotic message that because of Covid-19 they are unable to manage the phones (wouldn’t you think they could do that while sheltering at home?) and to contact them online at amazon-dot-com-forward-slash-help.  That got me dozens of choices to check describing “my problem” but, of course, there was nothing that said what to do if a package has two different address labels on it etc. etc.

And On The Flip Side

This morning’s message from Amazon says, “Your package was left on the front porch on Wednesday, June 10.”  No, it wasn’t.  Not MY package, anyway.

Maybe Chrissy has my package.  Maybe it’s still at Amazon.  Maybe we should stop payment and re-order that clock.  Maybe someone out there knows Chrissy…

Eventually, I found a way to have UPS to return this package and for Amazon to credit our account and send another clock.  I wish we could just have UPS deliver this to Chrissy but I don’t think it works that way.  Bottom line: If you are out there, Chrissy, you need to contact Amazon about the order you didn’t get.  Good luck!


It’s uncomfortable here on the cutting edge…

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

I really love everything about where I live — the vistas, the quiet, the small communities, the ease with which generations interact — and until now, the feeling that we aren’t quite as tainted by the fad-problems of modern decades as are our urban neighbors.  Yes… fad-problems.  Yes… until now.

As is my usual early Wednesday morning habit, I took a look at the online version of the paper — always eager to see what’s in the news and always too impatient to wait for the hard copy which comes in our mail.  Today’s front-page headline, “PUD No. 2 Commissioner admits touching woman without consent” was a bit of a deal-breaker for me.  That’s the only way I can express it.  All of my shimmery feelings about the area — about the vistas, the quiet, the small communities, the ease of interaction — suddenly dimmed.  From shimmer to shame in one easy headline…

It wasn’t the substance of the article that really bothered me even though I read it carefully.  It was the realization that one of the fad-problems of recent years has finally found purchase here.  And right on the front page of our only community newspaper.  A report of sexual harassment?  Years after the alleged occurrence?  Right when the accused party is running for office?  Give me a break!  Shades of Joe Biden and Tara Reade.

It’s probably a knee-jerk reaction on my part, and without knowing all the facts I should button up.  Not that I’m in any way judging the merits or truth of the situation or the accuracy of the reporting.  But I am definitely lamenting that the greater world has suddenly impinged.  And with a front page headline, no less.

Sartorial Splendor and Quality Control

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Summer Wardrobe

I swear to you, half or more of my sheltering time has been spent trying to get a new pair of blue jeans.  So far, I’ve had no luck at all.  I blame it on sloppy quality control with a tad of over-zealous marketing thrown in.  Plus, I’m convinced that as Americans have chunked up, manufacturers have changed their sizing so we’ll all feel better about ourselves.  For those of us who haven’t chunked with the times, it’s not working.

For 20 years or maybe more, I’ve bought the same brand of jeans.  I don’t mind telling what brand they are — NYDJ.  “Not Your Daughters Jeans” which, they promise, will fit and enhance the “mature” figure.  Hmmm.

Not Measuring Up!

When I bought my first pair — size 6P, one size smaller than usual as advised — I was five-feet-two and weighed 120 pounds, give or take 5.  Now, I am five-feet-one-ish, still weigh 120-ish and am, perhaps a little thicker through the thorax than previously.  Twenty years can do that to a girl.

Add to that information that I have two (count ’em 2) wardrobes — summer and winter.  In summer, I wear blue jeans and a sweatshirt with, maybe, a tee shirt beneath it.  In winter, I wear blue jeans, a sweatshirt over a tee shirt, Nyel’s old down vest, and a rain hat.  When I “dress up,” no matter the season, I usually wear black NYDJ jeans and a black sweater and, if I remember, a colorful scarf.  Neat and tidy is my goal, not fashion plate.

Winterized Sydney

So, when I ordered a new pair of jeans, same size as usual, my expectations were also as usual.  The pants came and they seemed a bit loose around the middle.  Washing in hot water should take care of it I thought.  It didn’t.  So, I hung that pair in the closet and ordered a pair of size 4P.  For some Covid-19 related reason, there was a long delay.

Last night the package finally arrived (bless Fed Ex).  I’m here to tell you that 4P fit me perfectly!  Except that my legs seem to be three inches too short.  Despite my last experience, this new pair is in the washing machine.  If they are still too long, I’ll send them back — none of this hiding them in the closet until they change their mind.  Daughter-schmaughter!  Could we just have a little quality control?


The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

You may think that it’s a photograph of Rock Hudson and Doris Day that accompanies these words, and perhaps you are right.  On the other hand, I have it on somewhat questionable authority that it’s a portrait of our friends Michael and Lynn Madigan.  Truth, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.  Or something like that.

The facts of the matter, however, are that my recent blog about the bread flour that did not show up with our Fred Meyer order last week, elicited a number of offers on Facebook — some for regular flour, some for the bread variety, and all extremely generous and much appreciated.

However, I had seen Lynn and Michael’s offer first, so they were the ones who arrived yesterday with two generous bags of bread flour, a container of yeast, and two pounds of unsalted butter.  Wow!  Right off the bat — as soon as our oohing and aahing quieted, Michael said, “You do realize, that we buy bread flour by the ton?  Literally!  This wasn’t a problem.”

Friendship — The Staff of Life!

The Madigans own Bowery Bagels in Portland.  They have a small retail outlet but, mostly, their business is wholesale and, BC (before Covid) they supplied scores of bakeries and coffee shops and grocery stores with their fabulous bagels.  (I believe that Coffee Girl in Astoria was one of their customers.  Maybe still is.)

We had a “porch chat” for twenty minutes or so — catching up on how the pandemic is affecting all of us personally and, of course, how their small business is faring.  The interconnectedness of us all — from farmer to manufacturer to supplier to delivery drivers to outlets to ultimate consumer is mind-boggling and so much better understood (at least by me) when explained on a personal level.

We talked about other things, too.  The night before they had witnessed from their home in Long Beach, a group of six or seven high school seniors in caps and gowns out on the beach with a photographer.  As the group filed back toward the road, Lynn and Michael belted out “Pomp and Circumstance” from their deck.  “We weren’t sure they could hear us, but then some of the kids actually tossed their caps in the air!” said Michael.  “It was a moment we won’t soon forget.”

It wasn’t until the Madigans’ car drove away that I realized I had missed a photo op of my own.  When I wrote them asking if I could mention Bowery Bagels in my blog, I lamented my oversight and they kindly sent me the portrait that accompanies this blog.  You may or may not recognize them…

“What I Miss Most” by Sheltering Sydney

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Thanks, Mark!

Mostly we are busy and mostly “as usual.”  There are house and garden to keep in order, meals to cook, stories to write, books to read… all the pieces of ordinary life.  “So,” I asked myself this morning, “now that we are approaching the end of our third Sheltering Month, what do I miss most?”

Without a doubt what I miss most is feeling safe in the greater world — the world on the other side of our old picket fence.  Then, in rapid order, I miss being able to visit with friends and loved ones up close and personal.  And I miss the library.

There are other things that I find worrisome but I don’t exactly miss them  — several doctor’s appointments (eyes, teeth, skin), for instance.  I just keep postponing them.  Then, too, are the up-close-and-personal amenities such as haircuts and manicures but, amazingly, those have been relegated to very low priority.

Wishful Thinking

I say “amazingly” because my words to live by have always been “appearances are everything” — a shallow sounding philosophy until you really think about it.  Suffice it to say that I feel secure in the belief that Nyel sees beyond my shaggy hair and snaggly fingernails and, for the nonce, he’s the only one who sees me up close and personal.  Besides, it’s more a matter of degree than anything else.  I’m still trying my best to appear “sheveled, kempt, and ruley” which, sometimes, is all that can be expected.

What about you?  What do you most miss during these sheltering times?