Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

All Quiet With A Promise of Boom

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

Cannon on Display Again

Memorial Day was strangely quiet in Oysterville despite most of homeowners being in residence for the three-day weekend.  For the first time since 2010 there was no music at the church, no brunch at the schoolhouse hosted by Hal and Diane, and no big boom from the cannon.  I’m not even sure if the VFW had their traditional ceremony at the Oysterville Cemetery.

On the other hand, when I took flowers up to the Espy plot on Sunday, the Cemetery had never looked lovlier. The grass was freshly mowed, there were dozens of bouquets and flowering plants near grave markers old and new, and there were bright flags commemorating those who had  died in the service of our country.

For a few minutes I had the old burying ground completely to myself and I couldn’t help thinking of Willard’s book Skulduggery on Shoalwater Bay with its descriptive annotation: (Whispered Up from the Graves of the Pioneers.)   With so many friends and loved ones surrounding me in that place of peace and tranquility — there was nothing lonely or even sad about it.

Cannon on the Move

About mid-morning, in answer to General Nyel’s call for assistance, Lt. Tucker Wachsnuth arrived with his son Charley (a willing volunteer.)  They cheerfully transferred the Oysterville Honorary Militia’s cannon from its winter quarters (our garage) to its seasonal resting place in the garden north of the house.

The full-sized replica 1841 Mountain Howitzer is now ready for duties as assigned — “but probably not until Oysterville is no longer sheltering,” says the General.  “Meanwhile, keep your earplugs at the ready!”





My Grass Roots Opinion Poll — Sort Of

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020


Most of our garden is lawn.  Back in the day when Nyel was able to do the heavy lifting, he took care of the mowing and the feeding and weeding and, mostly, the watering.  Now we have Tom-The-Mower-Man, but the quarterly applications of moss deterrent and fertilizer (ammonium sulfate) are up to me.

“Quarterly” is actually a mis-nomer, although it does happen four times a year — roughly Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving — as recommended by Master Gardener Don Tapio.  The process involves pushing a spreader back and forth east/west and then north/south on the lawn, which is a lot of walking and lifting/pouring of product.  So, it takes this old woman several days, especially considering the periodic rest periods between applications.

For the last few days, I’ve been working in the South Garden and am Johnny-on-the-spot for a bit of long-distance conversation with the neighbors as they walk their dogs or are just out for a stroll.  After “how’s it going” sorts of starts, the conversations have veered quickly to the County’s decision to open the beaches to driving.

At the End of Oysterville Road, 1940s (Where Surfside is Now)

I certainly haven’t seen or talked to every neighbor, but of those who have stopped for a bit of conversation, the prevailing reaction to the opening is “why?”  As one person said, “They are still discouraging visitors and we locals could already go walking on the beach.  So, what’s the point?”  And, another person — a dedicated clam digger — was incensed that “on top of that, the first clam dig has been cancelled!”

All-in-all, in my non-official, non-comprehensive, probably nonsensical and totally informal survey — residents don’t see the point of the “opening.”  Neither do I.


Sometimes You Just Have To Wonder

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

People never cease to amaze and delight me.  Especially my friends!  Case in point:  this morning I received notification from my friend Mark Peterson that tomorrow (May 23rd – mark your calendar!) is National Drinking With Chickens Day!  I am not so amazed that a day has been set aside for this activity — more like, why just one day? — but that pun-loving Mark knows about it.  And why didn’t we?

I mean, clearly, drinking with chickens is a no-brainer if you are prone to hang out with them.  Which we are!  But that a national day has been set aside to celebrate that backyard-with-chickens activity is totally awesome.  Here we thought we were the only ones…

Photo from Drinking With Chickens website

As soon as I received Mark’s notification, I went on line to find out more.  What I learned is that there is an entire website and blog about  appropriate drink recipes, devoted to this (some would think) rather esoteric activity.    Plus other really weird and wonderful chicken stuff.  The most I can learn about the creator is that her name is Kate E. Richards and she is hysterical —  or at least I think so, even without benefit of a drink.

Whether or not you have backyard chickens and, probably, whether or not you drink, I urge you to check out Kate’s website. The photos alone are worth the experience.  And how can you not be enchanted by someone who writes, “So we have a few pets… They have taken over our entire life. Send help.”  Plus, she called her original (she’s on number 4.0) coop “Free Range Chicken Jail” which is exactly what our chickens call their coop!  Like minds.  All the way around!

Drama In the Neighborhood

Tuesday, May 19th, 2020

Mr? Standing Bear

There has been a lot of bear activity at our end of town this spring — most of it, as far as I know, at Tucker and Carol’s.  This morning I awoke to this email message with accompanying photos from Tucker:

We had a bear visit us this afternoon. He was trying to get into our bird feeder. It was amazing to see him up on his back feet. Carol and I chased him away. We had a big stick, but as soon as we opened the door, he took off. We’re glad that he seems to be afraid of us. He didn’t come back… yet.

Mr? Standing Bear, Sitting

YIKES!  That’s one big bear!  My thoughts flew to Slutvana-the-Wanderer who didn’t come home last night.  I’m pretty sure a recalcitrant chicken might be as tempting to a foraging bear as the morsels in a bird-feeder.

Just then, Nyel called to me that Slutvana was out in the croquet garden, not playing croquet but apparently happy to be foraging for whatever temptations were manifesting themselves in the lawn.

Slutvana Through The Window

I couldn’t help but wonder if she had met up with Mr? Standing Bear and  family while she was out and about.  A few minutes later I took her some scratch and asked her if she’d spent a pleasant night.  She did grace me with a fowlish sort of look but was not inclined to share about any close encounters or new acquaintances.

Still, you never can tell with chickens!  I was glad she was home.

Coming To Grips With Necessities

Monday, May 18th, 2020

In addition to our Covid Shags, there is the matter (in my case) of the Covid Claws.  It’s been years — at least 30 — since I’ve had to bother with manicuring my nails.  For a few years it was Jan and, for the last 20 or so, it’s been Gina To The Rescue — every two weeks come hell or high water, as they say.  And then came the Coronavirus!

Knowing that dozens of others are in this same high water boat doesn’t help.  My nails are a disaster.  And it doesn’t help to remember that before their introduction to the wonders of acrylic, they were also a disaster.  Bottom line:  I have crummy nails.  They are weak.  They flake and peal and bend and break.  They are pretty much useless without being enhanced.

But, as with the other amenities of enhanced feminine allure — lipstick, mascara and all sorts of makeup; nail polish and “nail art” (as they call it); hair colors and haircuts; and all those piercing and waxing and tatting possibilities — I’ve more or less lost touch with the purpose of things.  I mean, what is the purpose of lips or eyebrows or, for that matter, nails?  Fortunately, except for a bit of makeup (when it occurs to me) my only indulgence has been those acrylic nails.

Works In Progress

I find that sheltering in place is a fine opportunity to get back in touch with the purpose of things.  Fingernails, for example,  “shield the fingertips and the surrounding soft tissues from injuries. They increases the sensitivity of the finger by acting as a counter force when the pulp of the finger touches an object.”  Or, according to the experts, that is what they are supposed to do.

Mine never did any of that very well and, so, enhancement has been a godsend.  But now that the acrylic is loosening and extending to disruptive proportions, I am having to remove the “fake nails” one, by one.  Right now, I am in Digital Transition which gives a whole new meaning to the DTs.  My fingers are sensitive, my own nails still too short and too flimsy to be useful, and my three stubborn, remaining nails, ugly  and bothersome beyond belief.

The big question, of course, is will it be Gina-to-the-Rescue as soon as she can be back to work?  Or will I be “sensible” and try to get used to the natural (albeit inferior) keratinous, translucent structures at my fingertips?  Will I be forward thinking and come to grips (so to speak) with the very real possibility that this sheltering time will need to be repeated?  And, besides that, what of my waning years and decreased abilities to keep up appearances?  To say nothing of the unsightly changes to my fingers from arthritis — as in why draw attention to them?

Fortunately, summer is on its way and nails grow faster in summer.  Perhaps giving my fingertips a break (so to speak) for the season will help me decide.

In my mind’s eye it was all in vibrant color!

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

“Some Like It Hot”

Last night we watched “Some Like It Hot,” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.  I hadn’t seen it since it came out in 1959 and, though I thought I remembered it very well… I didn’t really.  In fact, about the only thing I remembered was that Curtis and Lemmon were in drag and were running from something or someone.  And, I remembered that it was funny.

I also thought that it had been filmed in color — vibrant color —  which it was not, despite the DVD cover.  Director Billy Wilder had decided from the get-go to film it in back and white to play down the garishness of Curtis’ annd Lemmon’s make-up.  And, I’m sure I never knew that Tony Curtis’ “Josephine” voice was dubbed by another actor, as Curtis couldn’t speak high enough.

“The Magnificent Seven”

Despite all those unknown or misremembered details, the film held up amazingly well.  It was especially fun to see co-stars George Raft, Pat O’Brien, and Joe E. Brown in stereotypical roles — like seeing old friends again.  We thoroughly enjoyed the silliness of it all.  Two hours and two minutes of unadulterated fun!

Chances are we’ll have more opportunities to revisit other old “friends” in the weeks to come, thanks to a clean-out project of neighbors Carol and Tucker.  A few days back they left a huge box of DVDs that they are getting rid of (although “maybe not quite yet,” Tucker told me, when I was ooohing and aaahing our thanks and promising to pass them on.)

“Midsomer Murders”

Tonight we are looking forward to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and in the wings are boxed sets of “The Pallisers” “Black Adder,” “The George Eliot Collection,” “Jeeves & Wooster,” “Sherlock Holmes” and on and on!

It seems more than logical that we would expand our screen time during this pandemic, but whoda thunk we would have such a surfeit of viewing possibilities!  First, and just “in the nick,” Cyndy fixed us up with Roku and now, this goody box  from Tucker and Carol.  For us, sheltering during this pandemic is turning out to be a time of visual as well as mental  enrichment!  Who knew?


Front Row Seats To A Peak Performance!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Looking Up Up Up!

The swallows have been back at our house for a month or so but, for the first time in years, they are building their nests in new places.  They did scope out their old haunts —  six or seven of them above the eastside kitchen window and in every upper corner of the once-upon-a-time back porch.  They stuck up their beaks at all of them, apparently eschewing the fact that most swallows return to the same colony generation after generation, with 44 percent of pairs reoccupying the same nest.  Studies show that a good nest may be used for 10-15 years by a series of different pairs.

Granted, last year’s used (and reused ad infinitum) nests have been gone since late last fall — the final sacrifice made to benefit our summer house-painting project.  Over the years, nest disappearance has occurred here periodically and the swallows, seemingly undeterred, have rebuilt in exactly the same spots.  Not this year.  Perhaps it has to do with social distancing.

Precarious Perch

So far, two nests are completed — one just under the west peak of the roof, tucked under the eaves and up so high it’s hard to see; the other impossibly constructed at the bend in a drainpipe coming from the gutter under the eaves on the south side of the house.  In both cases, Mom and Pop Swallow seem a bit smug.  “Try and raze our place this time!” they seem to say as they swoop back and forth.

There was one aborted attempt to rebuild atop the window frame on our porch.  I think it was the drainpipe couple.  I really hope so.  Their current choice is so much better, all the way around.  No mess for us groundlings to deal with and, hopefully, a softer, not a lethal, landing should one of the babies plunge earthward.  (Last year, we found a fledgling on the porch — perhaps a victim of overconfidence about being ready to fly.)

The Church Colony Begins

As for the church — despite efforts by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation to discourage the swallows, they are back in force.  The activity has been unceasing as they have flown back and forth, back and forth, building their nests under the sloping eaves.  They are cliff swallows — cousins to the barn swallows across the street here, at our place.

Their sturdy mud nests (each made with up to 1,000 mud pellets!) have a small, round opening so eggs and babies will be protected against predators.  Watching the parents fly, unerringly and at top speed, in to feed their babies is a sight to behold.

Whether we are inside or out, we have front row seats to the best show in town!  Facing prolonged sheltering isn’t half so bad with such ongoing entertainment (and education) in store!  Let’s hear it for the birds!  And especially the swallows!


Oh, the places I’ve been!

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Screen Shot #!

This morning I received my first ever “Google Maps Timeline” email.  Apparently, I received it because I turned on “Location History, a google Account-level setting” that saves where I go to my private Timeline.  Hmm.

According to this account, I visited one city  (Warrenton) in April and made three visits there — one to CostCo and two to Fred Meyer — each on separate days.  I do believe that is accurate.  However, there is no record of my going to the post office here in Oysterville which I do two or three times a week.

On the other hand it says I spent 51 minutes at the church one day — which I didn’t.  What I might have done was park on the street in front of my house (which is right across  from the church) for a few minutes — time to unload groceries before returning the car to the garage., perhaps.

Screen Shot #2

I’m not quite sure if this Google function would be helpful if you were beginning to get a little addled.  Nyel says maybe it could be used to prove that you were NOT somewhere at a certain time… like at the scene of a crime.  (Say what??  Why would he even think that?  Must be a guy thing…)

But… twice in March I went to the Recycle Center in Nahcotta and I see that those trips were on this Google App as to “The Charles Nelson Guest House.”  The Charles Nelson place is cattywampus across  from the recycle bins, so I guess that’s considered close enough.  Although, my mind does flash to a new Nahcotta version of the board game, “Clue” — “…at the guest house in the garden with an empty vodka bottle…”

I haven’t decided if I want to turn the app off.  The record goes back to January 1, 2020 and does include a list of all our medical trips to Seattle, Astoria, etc.  with mileage.  But… why do we care?  Under the new tax laws we no longer itemize.  Nor have we received a tax refund for a number of years.  So… of course, we have not yet seen a stimulus check…  just sayin’.

Yesterday, one of my friends gave me a hard time about whining in my blog.  Was I?  Am I again?  I don’t think so, although maybe there’s an app to determine that, too.


The Third Time Wasn’t Quite The Charm!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

It’s good to have wine-drinking friends!  And not necessarily in a way you might think.

Yesterday was our third trip in the last six weeks to go across the river to get our groceries at Fred Meyer’s.  We had placed our order — a big one — several days beforehand, we had been assigned a pick-up time, and we were all set.  Or so we thought.

We went the front road, through Long Beach, which was crowded with traffic.  Dennis Company, in particular, seemed to be doing a bumper business — parking lot and curbside full and many people (none masked) coming and going.  Hmmm.

The pick-up parking lot was almost full so we had a bit of a wait, for our delivery.  When it arrived, the transfer to our trunk went without incident though there seemed to to be a bit of reshuffling toward the end to make room.  It was all done very efficiently while we stayed safely in place inside the car. We went directly home to take care of the refrigerated things asap.

First, though, was Nyel’s transfer from car to wheelchair to get him into the kitchen at the receiving-and-put-away end.  Then, it was my turn to schlepp about a gazillion bags from car to house.  When I opened the trunk to begin, the first thing to greet me was something we hadn’t ordered.  Wine.  Lots of it — six boxes each containing five liters of Rhine wine.  Wow!  Someone was planning a party and it wasn’t us!

Since we are not wine drinkers, I took only one box in to show Nyel and alerted him to be on the lookout for anything else that might be a mistake.  We ended up unpacking 14 big bags and checking off each item against the receipt.  All but five things had arrived — probably the equivalent of one grocery bag.  And, in addition to the wine, there was one bag containing items we had not ordered and had absolutely no interest in.

Nyel called Freddy’s.  Apparently the other party had already called and their order had been re-filled.  The store would replace the things we hadn’t received but said “We can’t take back any of the rest.  You can keep it or dispose of it… whichever you like.

We called friends who we thought might be interested in the wine and maybe some of the other items.  I put them all out on our porch table and in twenty minutes they arrived.  They were glad for the wine and in a few of the groceries and offered to drop the rest off at the Food Bank.  Perfect!

Today we go back across the river to pick up the rest of our order.  Yet another sheltering adventure for the old folks!  Woot! Woot!

Week Nine Begins

Monday, May 4th, 2020

In our household, the sheltering for the Coronavirus Pandemic began March 9 which means that today begins Week Nine of spending twenty-four-seven (as they say) within the confines of our house and garden.  We’ve endured without benefit of visitors except one over-the gate chat with Cate and two or three out-in-the-street visits with neighbors.

We’ve exited the premises three times for groceries and I have gone once for a prescription pick-up and two or three times a week to the post office to get our mail.  So far, we have no complaints.  Between Facebook and and the telephone we manage to keep up with friends and family — in some cases more regularly than B.S. (Before Sheltering).

We assess how it’s going periodically — usually when there is any “news” as to expected duration of the shelter-in-place orders or projections as to when a vaccine will be forthcoming.  Last night, over a dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed spinach, we concluded that even if the sheltering orders are relaxed, we’d rather continue as we are until that vaccine becomes available — the caveat being that all such decisions are subject to change

Meanwhile, we are hoping for a summer full of sunshine with many opportunities for M&DGs (Masked and Distanced Gatherings)  in our garden– bring your own refreshments, bask in the companionship, tell stories, make music.  Right now that’s all sounding pretty darned good!