Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

Oh no! Not another one!

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Homecoming Presents for Farmer Nyel

There was a surprise in the north nest box last night and right in time for Nyel’s arrival home.  He’d been gone for three long weeks – hospitalized with a broken hip plus, as a result of inattentive caregivers at St. Vincent’s in Portland, a serious flare up of his CHF (congestive heart failure.)  If anyone needed a surprise from chickendom it was Farmer Nyel.

But… maybe not this one.  It was a “fairy egg” – a teeny-tiny, perfectly formed egg sitting right alongside two other normal-sized eggs which, by comparison, looked gigantic.  This is the second time in our eleven years of backyard chickens that we have been gifted with a fairy egg.  Sounds very special but… not really.  Here’s the scoop from an online source:

Teeny Tiny Bowl for a Teeny Tiny Egg

… also called “wind”, “witch”, “cock” or the fairly crass “fart” eggs, are merely a glitch in the laying process that is fairly common in backyard flocks. Smaller than regular eggs, usually rounder and containing no yolk, these eggs generally occur either very early in a hen’s productive life before her hormones and reproductive cycle are fully formed and working properly – or sometimes very late in a hen’s laying life as her hormone production is winding down. They can also be the result of stress or a disruption of routine.

Well, our hens should be (and have been for several months) at peak production. They are neither too young nor too old, but “just right” as Goldilocks would say.   Also, their routines have not been disrupted except by the absence of Farmer Nyel, and you wouldn’t think it would take three full weeks for that to sink in.  Besides, I had told the entire flock that he would be back yesterday.

No Yolk!

No.  I’m thinking that we have a couple of looney-tune hens.  One of them is still laying her egg outside under the coop each day.  And now, we have the fairy egg-layer.  Maybe she thought this would be a special homecoming treat for the missing Farmer.

In any case, Nyel dutifully opened it to see what it contained.  No yolk.  Just albumen and a dark spot that was unidentifiable.  I really think that the first fairy egg – the empty one – was better.  This one was just weird.  But, like the good chicken farmer that he is, Nyel was appreciative of the effort and expressed hope that her system would straighten itself out soon!  Meanwhile, he had one of the “normal” eggs – poached on toast – for breakfast!  Truly, there’s no place like home!

The Sophisticated Farmer Nyel

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

It’s difficult to carry off any sort of savoir fair when you are spending your days in a hospital bed.  But, I’m here to tell you, that Nyel has managed to set the bar pretty high in the Sophistication Department at Ocean Beach Hospital!

First, let me say that ever since the St. Vincent’s Hospital crew filled him up with fluids and sent him off without a plan for getting him back to his “dry weight” as it is called in the world of Congestive Heart Failure, he has had no appetite whatsoever.  “I feel full up to here!” he says, gesturing well above his head.  “If I add one bite, I’ll be seriously sick to my stomach.”

So it is that he manages to choke down a little breakfast each day (yogurt and a fruit cup) and a lunch usually of the same ilk and refuses dinner no matter what.  The dietician has added Ensure to his nutritional requirements and is urging him to eat proteins so his bones can knit.  As for me – I have never, in the thirty-five years we’ve been together, seen Nyel refuse a meal – until now.  If I didn’t know how sick he is, his loss of appetite would be a huge indicator.

Yesterday, our friends Petra and Michael came visiting.  They called first and asked Nyel what they could bring him from the big city across the river.  “A nice baguette and some French brie,” was his immediate answer.  And, as soon as the bread was sliced and the brie removed from its wrappings, Nyel began to eat.

Sidewalk Cafe in Paris

Half the baguette and most of the brie later, he began to slow down a bit – even asking us if we wanted some.  We demurred and, although I can’t speak for P&M, it wasn’t because we didn’t want some.  It was the sure joy of watching Nyel eat that obviated all thoughts of joining in.

Wow!  I can’t think of any other circumstances in which a hospital room has been magically transformed into a Parisian sidewalk café.  The ambiance wasn’t quite the same, to be sure, but Nyel’s pleasure in the food was une joie de voir.  He comes home today and you can bet I’m dusting off my old copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking! 

Bon Appetit!

Kudos to Nancy and Colin!

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Page 87

The day had been a long one.  I was at the hospital with Nyel at 8:15 to give him a little assistance in sending his cardio mem information to Seattle – an electronic (magic) cyberspace communication with his Seattle cardiologist telling what the pressures inside his heart are.  Then our Community Historian class at the Heritage Museum until noon – today all about the cutting-edge methodology for archival preservation of photos and documents.  And then back to spend three more hours with Nyel – strategizing with caregivers about next steps.

Home to work in the garden for an hour or two.  Mostly clean-up that should have been done last fall.  I can’t remember why I didn’t do it then…  When I finally decided to think about dinner, I noticed that today’s Observer was still tightly rolled up the way our postmaster puts it in our mailboxes.  I took a minute… and I’m SO glad I did.

Our Coast Artcle

Nestled within the paper was the annual copy of our coast magazine.  And on pages 86 to 91 is a marvelously illustrated article about our house!  “Historic House In A Historic Village” is the title.  I had all but forgotten the interview with author Nancy McCarthy and the follow-up photo session with Colin Murphey.  It all happened last September and, somehow, we’ve had a few other things to think about since then.  It seemed like a big surprise!

Best of all, I didn’t find a single factual error in the entire article and, I’m here to tell you as a writer who often interviews people – getting everything right in a long article isn’t all that easy.  Nancy did a beautiful job.  Kudos to her and to Colin who captured the visuals to perfection!  I hope you take a look – and mark September 22nd on your calendar.  (You’ll know why if you read the article.)

…and now I can breathe again!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

I made the great mistake of going across the street yesterday morning to bring the Vespers flowers back from the church.  Each bouquet was in a bowl still filled with water and so it was a two-handed, two-trip operation.  No problem.  Except…

As I headed home the first time, a voice called out to me from the rooftop of our house.  There was Jay, precariously (in my judgement) balanced, putting the finishing touches of paint on the gingerbread above his head.  Oy vey!  I could scarcely look.

Never mind that he had left this bit of work for last – for the first day after school was out so that his teen-aged son Charlie could ‘spot’ him… just in case.  He had told me about his plan before he left on Friday.  “I’m not getting any younger (or more agile was the implication) so I’ve figured out how I can place the ladder straddling the roof peek and…”  OMG!  I think I went deaf at that point and my palms began to sweat.

When you are afflicted with acrophobia (“the extreme or irrational fear of heights”) as I am, even knowing that someone will be up high and in a precarious situation can make you hyperventilate. When the plan involves your very own roof and your very own friends it can hardly bear thinking about.  And, as a matter of fact, I had repressed that entire conversation until yesterday morning when a cheery voice called out to me from on high.

In a less perfect world – a situation beyond belief right now – I would have dropped my bowl of flowers right there in the middle of the street.  Somehow, though, I managed to complete my task without incident and even called a tremulous “Hi!” to Jay and Charlie.  But, after one tenuous glance, I kept my eyes focused on the honeysuckle in the lovely David Campiche bowl gripped between my suddenly damp palms. OMG!

I sent Nyel out to get pictures.

Gathering to Meet and Greet

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

In our many years of Friday Night gatherings, there are a few subjects that we seldom broach.  One of those is politics although I have to say that in the last two or three years we have, indeed, done a bit of serious broaching…  How can anyone avoid it these days?

But any political discussions we have are mostly about national concerns.  We have stayed away from local politics.  In a small community (and I’m talking the Peninsula or even Pacific County here – not our miniscule village of Oysterville) where friendships and politics often overlap in strange ways, it makes for better social gatherings to leave political opinions out of our chit-chat.  Last night was a huge exception.

We devoted our Friday Night to a Meet and Greet for Pam Nogueira Maneman who is running as an Independent for the office of Pacific County Prosecutor.  We had met her at a similar gathering at the Shelburne a month or so ago and we were impressed.  We wanted our friends to meet her and to hear what she had to say about her own plans if she is elected and how her philosophy differs from the current status.

Usually, attendees at our Friday Nights are a bit of a surprise – our friends just come if they can, knowing we’ll be here unless we’ve let them know otherwise.  There have been a few times when only two or three other people have been here but usually it’s more like thirteen or fourteen.  However, for this Meet and Greet, we wanted to be sure that Pam would have an audience, so I let our “regulars” and a few others know and asked for RSVPs.

There were fourteen of us and it was a perfect number. Pam took ten or fifteen minutes to talk about her background and experience – born in Brazil 27 years ago, an exchange student at Raymond High School, graduated from high school in Brazil, undergraduate work at UW, completed three-year UW law school program in two years, became a U.S. citizen, has worked in law offices in both Pacific and Grays Harbor Counties etc. – and then it was just questions, answers, and lively discussion.  Everyone seemed appreciative of this opportunity to meet Pam and I believe the feeling was mutual.

I understand that the AAUW will be sponsoring a Candidates Forum for all those running for County offices – July 10th, Ilwaco High School, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Pam says she will be there for sure.  So will we!  (I didn’t realize until last night that voting in the primaries begin July 20th here!  High time to become better informed!)

The Finishing Touches

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Window Trim, June 2018

“Well, we’ve got the old girl dressed! Now we’re just putting on her earrings and she’s going to look terrific!”

It was our friend Jay talking and he was just finishing up the window trim on the west side of the house. ‘She’ was looking like a million bucks – a big improvement over a few weeks ago when she was right down to her undergarments and beyond!  There’s nothing like a new outfit to make an old lady perk right up – especially this 149-year-old icon of pioneer Oysterville architecture.

Bloomers and Beyond — May 2018

Now that we are retired and living the dream (as they say) on a fixed income, we can only manage to get the house painted a bit at a time.  The neediest parts this time around were the west and south sides – fortunate, in a way, because those are the parts that visitors see as they approach her.  If we decide to have a 150th birthday party for her next year she will definitely look dressed for the occasion!

The house has been white with forest green trim for the eighty-plus years I’ve known her so it’s not really that she looks like she’s wearing a new frock – more like she’s been washed, starched and ironed and maybe given a little extra bling-bling.  The rest of the house just looks a bit tired by comparison but, for that matter, don’t we all?

Yesterday: National Corn-on-the-Cob Day!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

At the market, the sign on the bin of corn-on the cob said, “Five ears for $3.00.”  I think they were missing a bet.  They could have had a huge promotion.  But when I asked the produce guy if he knew that it was National Corn-on-the-Cob Day, he just looked at me.  Oh well.

I could have been even more informative, had he shown the least bit of interest.  For instance, I could have told him the corn on the cob is also known in different regions as pole corn, cornstick, sweet pole, butter-pop or long maize! But, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned that it is a sweet corn picked when the kernels are still tender when it’s in its milk stage.  If he was any kind of produce guy at all, he knew that.

Most people, produce professionals or not, know that corn can be served boiled, steamed roasted or grilled.  If it’s really, really tender, it’s also good raw.  There are debates about whether to butter and salt, or not.  (Remember the scene in War Games when the dad slathered butter — actually, margarine I think– on a piece of bread and then wrapped it around the ear of corn to butter it?  Great idea!)  But there is no debate about the etiquette of eating corn on the cob – fingers on both ends is totally acceptable.  Eating round-and-round or back-and-forth — your choice.

Yesterday was also German Chocolate Cake Day.  Not our favorite, so we pigged out on corn and didn’t leave room for dessert.  But tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day which sounds better.  (It’s also National Call Your Doctor Day… just in case.)  There are 1500 national days, apparently, and you can celebrate every one of them by checking out National Day Calendar at

Bangs and Whimpers and Silence

Monday, June 11th, 2018

At the G7 Summit

“The world will go on without us,” one of my Facebook Friends wrote.  She was responding to another FF’s lament about the current political climate in the world – specifically, how our allies are perceiving us since the G7 meeting in Canada.

I think I understand what she meant – sort of a “this too will pass” statement.  But it was a statement that, for me, came hard on the heels of a very hard month.  Our community has been blind-sided by the deaths of three well-known and much-beloved people and we have recently learned of the serious health problems of two others of our friends.  “Without us” seems all too personal and imminent.

And, of course, I can’t help wonder if the world will, indeed, go on.  Yes, it always has – no matter what horrors humanity has brought upon itself – genocides and pandemics and holocausts going back to our beginnings.  But now, the very Earth, itself, appears to be in jeopardy – climate change, nuclear stockpiling, rampant environmental tampering.  And the list goes on.

North Korean Missiles

People my age worry (or at least say they do) about their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren in one breath and in the next say, “…but I won’t be around to see it happen.”  My parents and grandparents said the same and no doubt those sentiments came along with the first-ever human DNA.   But, it truly does seem as though the stakes are impossibly high right now.

The hard part is knowing what to do about it.  “Speak out!  Be involved!  Have difficult discussions!” is the advice we hear.  Or… we can just re-read “The Hollow Men” by T. S. Elliott and think about the final stanza:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

T. S. Elliott

Elliott wrote the poem in 1925.  I find it interesting that when he was asked, years later, if he would end the poem in the same way, he said “No.”   He said that while the association of the H-bomb is irrelevant to the poem, he felt that it would come to everyone’s mind.  He was not sure the world would end with either a bang or a whimper.  People whose houses were bombed had told him that they didn’t remember hearing anything.

So, perhaps we should revisit the lyrics of Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence.”  Especially the third stanza:

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence


The Voice of Many Mornings

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Lois Preston Cox-Sampson back in the days of Ocean Park’s Shake Shack 

For twenty years, perhaps more, the phone would ring at our house a few minutes after six in the morning.  “I was wondering…” would come the familiar voice, “…if Nyel would like to work today?”  And then Lois Sampson would say whose class needed a substitute and the day would begin in earnest. Yesterday we learned that Lois has died.

Nyel hasn’t been working for several years now but, ironically, he received an email day before yesterday from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction telling him it’s time to renew his Emergency Substitute Certificate.  Despite my incredulous, “You’ve got to be kidding!” response, he was giving the request serious consideration.  We have since learned that the substitute-calling situation has been automated and now, according to the scuttlebutt, the new system is “a mess.”  I’m not sure why except that there are some things that require finesse that no amount of automation can supply.

Lois had that necessary special ‘something’ that allowed her to match up substitutes with teachers and classes so that school days went smoothly for all concerned.  She always seemed to know who would be available to work on a moment’s notice, who might need some lead-time, and who would be the perfect choice for a difficult class.

Lois with granddaughter Amelia, the love of her life

I know this from having watched her work from both ends of the spectrum – as a teacher back in the day and as the substitute’s wife of recent times.  Without Lois to run all the necessary ‘interference,’ I don’t know if credential renewal is still on the table for Nyel.  “Without Lois” is a concept that I simply cannot encompass when I think of the Ocean Beach School District.

I was trying to remember how long I’ve known her and what her jobs with the District were over the years.  My mind is foggy on those details.  Suffice it to say that Lois has always been there.  Cheerful, informative, reassuring – whether on the phone or in person.  We will miss knowing that she is nearby – just a morning phone call away.

Highly Recommended!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

(060318) From the film The Rider. Brady Jandreau as Brady Blackburn. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

If you haven’t yet seen “The Rider,” do not pass Go!  Even if you have to do a bit of traveling to make it happen.

Yesterday, we did just that.  To Portland and back for a matinee!  We left Oysterville about noon, got to the Laurelhurst Theater in plenty of time for pizza and lemonade before the 4:30 start time, and were home by a few minutes past nine.  It wasn’t even fully dark yet!

Best of all – well not quite best because the movie was fabulous! – was the trip itself.  We went and returned on State Route 4, following the editorial suggestion in last week’s Observer:

View Along SR$

EDITOR’S NOTE: For residents of south Pacific County, traveling between the coast and Interstate 5 usually entails using highways 30 and 26 in Oregon. Both those routes, along with the Clatsop County portion of U.S. Highway 101, are responsible for many more traffic fatalities than Pacific County’s State Route 4 to Longview or the county’s segment of U.S. 101. The density of fatal accidents between Astoria and Rainier on Highway 30 closely resembles that on the interstate, which has far heavier traffic. Highway 26 is almost as bad, as is U.S. 101, according to statistics compiled by ITO World, a company that specializes in analyzing transportation statistics and trends.

I’ve probably made fifty trips to Portland and back in the last several years – sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes in the fog, many times in the rain and wind, and, once, following the ambulance –every trip on Highway 30 on the Oregon side of the river.  I am always nervous on that route – ever since my mother warned me about it just before I drove my worldly possessions up here in 1978, “Be careful on the highway between Longview and Astoria,” she said.  “The school librarian and her daughter were killed in an accident there just recently.”  Her words have stuck in my mind, all these years.

Posted on the Door of the Laurelhurst Theater

So, yesterday we traveled on the Washington side of the river.  I had forgotten how beautiful that drive is!  Well worth every extra minute (there were only nine of them) that it took!  We ‘waved’ at Bob Pyle as we passed Grays River and gave a nod to Kerrie McNally when we saw the ‘Miller’s Crossing’ sign.  And, of course a shout-out to Andrew Emlen and all the members of the Willapa Hills and the Skamokawa Swamp Opera!  And to the many parties of the past at Eric and Carolyn Feasey’s old place.

But…about the movie.  Stunning!  I can’t get over the fact that these were real people, not actors, and further, that main character Brady Blackburn is the real-life son of Tim Blackburn who plays his father and, mostly, that Lily Blackburn, his sister with Asperger’s is also his real-life sister. Their actual last name is Jandreau and the action is set on the Pine Ridge Reservation where the family, of Lakota descent, actually live.  See it if you can!  It’s worth the drive to Portland on Highway 4, believe me!