Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

A Frazzle Dazzle One Step!

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Dale at 16, Oysterville, 1927

The use of colorful language runs in our family.  Not the colorful sort that seems to rage rampant in print and behind those bleeps on television.  I mean expressive without being offensive.  My grandfather Espy, for instance was pretty famous for never swearing but for getting his point across, nevertheless.

“Dad burn it!” I’d hear him say.  Or maybe “Dad gum it!”  and I knew he was more than a little frustrated about something.  Sometimes it was “Son of a sea cook!” or “Consarn it!” or perhaps “Ding Bust it!”  But the ultimate in epithets from Papa was “Devil!” and, lest you think those are all pretty tame, you had to be there.  As those of us who knew him well remember, those words came bursting from his mouth like thunderbolts!  Not often, but certainly memorable.

Mona at 7 or 8 — Oysterville, 1911

My mother’s colorful speech was a bit different from her father’s.  She wasn’t substituting the acceptable for the unacceptable.  Far from it.  She was simply being her usual, inimitable self.  “She just wore me to a frazzle-dazzle one step” she often said after being cornered by a particularly irksome neighbor.  Or, she was known to refer to women of questionable moral character as “woo woo girls” and when I’d asked one too many ‘why’ questions, “Why’s a hen” was the only answer she’d give me.  Or when she was wanting me to make up my own mind:  “You’re the doctor; I’m only the nurse.”

Charlie at Three – Claremont Day Nursery, 1959

Too, there were many stories about my Aunt Mona’s childhood expressions – words that became part of the family lexicon.  “I piddly stimbled!” was what we all said after almost falling down.  It must have been young Mona’s way of saying, “I practically stumbled.”  The best Mona-ism, though, is what I say to this day when I’m refusing seconds after a big dinner: “My shimmy shirt and pants are full” – Mona’s little girl understanding of the colloquialism, ‘my sufficiency is sophonsified.’

My son, Charlie, was also inventive word-wise.  He worried that the water in the bathtub might overfloat, and once commented on his well-endowed grandmother as being volumptuous.  My all-time favorite, though, was his three-year-old answer to “What do you call it when two people sing the same song at the same time?”  “A coincidence,” came his prompt reply!  Spot on, say I!

Annual, Perennial, Eternal

Monday, April 24th, 2017

A Hat for All Seasons

The calendar says one thing; my bones say another.  It’s long past time to get the garden started but…  it’s too cold, too wet, too damned unpleasant outside.  I’m having the usual argument with myself: am I using the weather as a reason or an excuse?

And besides that, I’m having a little bit of growing envy.  Carol and Tucker put up a small greenhouse in their backyard and already they have all sorts of ‘starts’ – tomatoes and I can’t remember what else.  To be honest, my hearing turned off without my permission when Carol was describing the growing progress; I went into some sort of hothouse reverie that had more to do with personal warmth than plant growth.

I’ve taken to asking other people that “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” question: how does your garden grow?  Nahcotta neighbor Ann Gaddy, who I consider the Queen of Nasturtiums, told me (with a bit of a shudder) that she hadn’t been outside yet.  “Too cold.  Too wet.”    We commiserated and agreed.

Satellite Image of Rain Plume – from Cliff Mass Blog

But when?  Dr. Clifford Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington wrote in his blog yesterday about the “Pacific Mega Moisture Plume” approaching our coast.  “It is the JAWS of Pacific moisture plumes,” he said.  “…  a continuous band of clouds, 1000 miles wide, stretching from the western Pacific to just off our coast. Scary.”

Scary, indeed.  Even scarier is the new administration’s head-in-the-sand (make that mud) insistence that there isn’t a climate change problem.  But then, when you are a billionaire and don’t consider growing your own vegetables or even your own flowers, what the weather does is probably not a much of a problem garden-wise.  How many gardeners does it take to tend the White House rose garden, anyway, you might ask.  Right up there with how many Federal Judges to stop an immigration ban, perhaps.

Gardening in the Rain

Unfortunately, our weather can’t be adjudicated.  Just like my garden won’t get started on its own.  Time to pull on my boots and don slicker and sou’wester and get to work.  Oh. And my winter long-johns, too.

Some Circles Have Sharp Corners

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Azmi Shawa

As I looked around the room yesterday during Azmi Shawa’s ‘Celebration of Life,’ I involuntarily took note of all the familiar faces in the crowd.  People we’ve known for years and years.  People ‘of an age’ – as was Azmi.  I couldn’t help but wonder which of us would be attending similar celebrations for the next in line.

And I thought about circles.   Congruent and concentric and intersecting circles like I learned about in Plain Geometry with Mr. Patterson in 1950 at San Rafael High School.  Circles of friendship and circles of influence, circles of sharing – the circle of life.  We encircled one another with our arms – hugs of caring and hugs of shared memories.

Willie Marsh

Not many hours afterward, Willie Marsh died.  This time, though, my thoughts cut right to the chase: “Too young!  Too many lives left to touch!  Too soon!”  Here was a circle that had an unbearably sharp corner.  Right now, it seems as though it’s a corner that can never be turned.  Perhaps the community’s many hugs will help — hugs for Berta and Marian and for all of Willie’s big family and many friends.

Wake Up Call!

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Screen Shot – Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Oysterville was without power for a little over thirteen hours yesterday.  I’m not sure about the rest of the Peninsula.  Though we’ve pieced together a part of the story, I’ve not heard many corroborating details yet.  I did learn, though, that our ever-present Oyster Shell Telegraph doesn’t always cover the entire Peninsula. I’ve always thought it a pretty reliable communication method, but yesterday it showed itself as having at least one black-out pocket of its own.

When the lights went out, I was at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, just sitting down to lunch at the final Community Historian session.  No worries.  There was plenty of light coming in from the windows in the small meeting room and we didn’t linger long enough to notice the creeping cold.

Screen Shot — Chinook Observer FB Page 4/20/2017

Near 227th on the way home, cones blocked our side of Sandridge suggesting a detour.  Up ahead we could see flashing red lights and figured there had been an accident that had compromised a power pole.  We detoured up to U Street and cut back to Sandridge on Bay, all the while noticing that there were no lights along the way.  Everyone looked to be out of power so we were not surprised to find Oysterville dark.

I decided to catch up on some telephone calls and the first person I talked to happened to be Cate Gabel who was out walking her dog.  She had just seen a Medix helicopter land in a field in Ocean Park to life flight an accident victim and, ever the reporter, had asked about the situation.  No details.  Just hope expressed that the patient would make it.

As the house began to get cold, we took the car, cranked up the heat and went on some errands.  No power at the bank; just the drive-up window.  One bill of our cash deposit immediately blew out of the drawer and was carried off in the wind.  The teller rushed out to the rescue and found the twenty-dollar bill in the field to the west.  “Second time today!” she said cheerfully.  We were also told by another bank employee that the accident involved a fatality.

Lights Wth The Push of a Button at Our House!

On to the library across town.  Power on.  Then down the highway to North Long Beach to get chicken feed.  Power there, too.  “No, it wasn’t an accident; they’re just replacing power poles on the back road,” we were told.  Hmmm.  We went home, took a nap under our down comforter and then went out for dinner.  Every restaurant we passed had parking lots full of cars.  Usual for a Wednesday night in April? Not sure. We thought it probably was because of the outage.

At the Roo we visited with our next-table-neighbors – friends we haven’t seen for a long time.  “If there’s power by tomorrow night, come over for dessert,” they said.  So… when the lights came on in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking “Oh boy!  Dessert!”  Pretty good wake up call, eh?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Monday, April 17th, 2017

I told myself that it was Easter Sunday.  I didn’t have to get anything ‘done.’  And, besides, we were going to out in mid-afternoon.  No time to really make headway on any other projects or even to get started in the garden.  So, I gave myself permission to fool around with my ancestry-dot-com family tree.  Seven hours later I was scrambling to get ready to leave the house for our dinner date.

So far, though, I don’t consider it time wasted.  I’m learning a lot about my father’s family that hadn’t been a glimmer before now.  I knew nothing at all about that branch of my tree except that the first Little in our line, my great-grandfather Henry Little, came from Inneskellin, Ireland.  Yesterday I learned that he was a baker and arrived in the U.S. with his wife, Margaret, in 1865 – the year they had been married. They subsequently had six children;  my grandfather William Oliver Baketel Little was the youngest.

William Oliver Baketel Little

What is astounding to me is that I not only didn’t know any of those great aunts and great uncles, I hadn’t even heard about any of them.  In comparison, I knew every single one of my great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family, as well as their children, their grand-children, and now their great-grandchildren.  What a difference in family dynamics!

Unless, of course, all of those ‘greats’ on my father’s side died without issue. Doesn’t seem likely, but, in order to find out, I’ll need to spend more time down that rabbit hole!  Yikes!

Of bonnets and bunnies and Easter bounty…

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Easter Sunrise

This morning’s sunrise over the bay was a gentle glow, not a spectacular splash like sometimes.  The new flags in the churchyard waved in a breeze that promised one of those ‘variable days’ weather-wise for this Easter Sunday of 2017.  A veritable hang-onto-your-hat day during that imaginary Easter Parade at the Beach.

At least, I think it’s imaginary.  Although the Easter Parade still happens in New York and in many other cities besides, it’s one festival I’ve never heard of here at the beach. Church services and clam digs and egg hunts, yes.  But no Easter Parade.  Probably the iffy-ness of Eastertime weather is the reason.

Churchyard, Easter 2017

Now that there aren’t any regular services in the Oysterville Church – not since the 1930s my mother said – and nothing special planned for Easter, we won’t even get the pleasure of seeing a procession of fancy hats going past our house for a service.  Not that most women actually wear hats anymore – not even to church.  Every once in a while, someone wears a hat to our Music Vespers services in the summer and I always hope it’s a fashion statement that will make a resurgence.  So far, though… not so much.

However, I’m happy to say that my cousins at the Red House are planning a little egg-hunt-around-town for later today.  Our girls in the coop even contributed some of eggs to that endeavor – three brown eggs collected by eight-year-old Ginger first thing Friday morning!

Oysterville Bounty!

Like her mom Abby, her late grandma Beeg, and her (before-she-was-born) great-grandma Barbara, Gin is one of the ‘visiting’ cousins.  I’m never quite sure if it’s the chickens or her elderly cousins she really wants to see, but she never fails to ring the bell, accept our invitation to come into the house and then sit in the library for ‘a good and proper visit’ before she checks the nest boxes at the coop!  What a gal!

As for Easter Dinner… we’ve been invited out!  “We’ll start with oysters, hors d’oeuvres, bubbles and bloodies” wrote our host, and then proceed to a meal “loosely based on the Easter feasts I remember growing up, but with about four fewer courses.”

I can’t wait!

Out of the Loop

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

It was a quiet Friday Night at our house.  Only Tucker and Carol came over – neighbors bearing a bowl of delicious peanuts.  We offered “jumbo shrimp” (The ultimate oxymoron. Why aren’t they called prawns anymore?) and beverages, and the four of us munched our way through a rare opportunity for a companionable visit.  Our topics ranged from family news to the world situation and we speculated that most of our “regulars” were at the Town Hall Meeting in Long Beach.

I had actually learned through email and Facebook messaging that several friends were ‘abandoning’ us for the chance to attend a Democratic Town Hall with Jaime Herrera-Buetler – which sounded like another oxymoron to me.  I’m mildly interested in knowing if Rep. H-B appeared in person or if this was a video version of her telephone town hall the night beforehand.  We had received a phone call asking us to participate in that one, but we had declined.

I think we are burned out on the political scene for a while.  From the grass roots level right up through the world (and maybe interplanetary) situation, we are feeling out-of-synch and out-of-sorts.  And before the do-gooders and activists and rabble-rousers remind us of all manner of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘don’t give ups’ let me say, “Been there.  Done that.  And probably before you were born.”

It’s not that I’m against staying informed.  Far from it.  But in this day and age I think I can manage much of the information-gatheriing from the comfort of my rocking chair.  I’m feeling like all those signs and banners and meetings and marches are up to others now.  I’d love to think that I’ve earned the right to be consulted for my wisdom but, of course, now that I’ve reached my octogenarian years, my ‘wisdom’ includes the knowledge that no one really gives a fig about it.  I wonder if that’s always been so.  Just lip service to reinforce the idea that experience and longevity have some value.

When in doubt, consult Google…  “influential elders in American history” I wrote.  Nothing substantive.  Just information about care for the elderly (say what?) or about influential Americans like George Washington who died when he was 67 (and don’t tell me that was ‘elderly’ then; many of my own ancestors from that time period lived into their 80s).  Nothing about revered little old ladies dispensing the answers to life’s problems…

So, probably this “wisdom of the elders” is just another hoax to keep us old ducks hoping and hopping.  Why am I not surprised?

…and the town’s filling up!

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Headed for the Beach

In Oysterville, it feels a little like it did thirty or forty years ago when most of the part-time residents would show up on holiday weekends.  Nowadays, with our ever-increased mobility, home-owners and their friends and family seem to come and go whenever the spirit moves – not necessarily for special occasions only.  But… yesterday, as the town started filling up, I had a little bit of déjà vu.

            For starters, I think the Accuardi family is planning to be here in force to celebrate Fred and Gail.  They have sold their Red Cottage after twenty years of careful stewardship and their large family is gathering to wish them well and to say ‘arrivederci to Oysterville’ – at least to this chapter.  Martie and Steve at the Captain Stream house will continue the family’s connection with the village with energy, enthusiasm and next generations – “as God intended” as our friend Te would say.

Line-Up at the Dock

In the Red House (not to be confused with the Red Cottage) Cousins Abby and Dan Ronco and kids (the sixth generation of Espys) have arrived with friends.  Their plan is to have an Easter Egg Hunt throughout the town on Sunday.  I hope the weather cooperates, but knowing my intrepid cousins, a little rain and wind won’t slow them down.

Other folks are in town to take advantage of the long overdue clam season.  We haven’t been out but we understand the digging is great.  We’ve already been offered some freshly cleaned clams from neighbors Tucker and Carol!  (Sometimes there are advantages to being old or infirm.)

Beach Driving

And, of course, there are all of the ‘regulars’ –those spirited neighbors who are here every-weekend-no-matter-what. Plus, those who live here full-time but have been away for parts of the winter.  Add us all up and the town seems a-bustle.  As my folks used to say, “It feels like Old Home Week.”  Throw in a bit of intermittent sunshine and we can almost imagine that spring and summer are on their way after all!

Housing Shortage

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Last Year

I’ve heard tell there is a shortage of low-cost housing on the Peninsula – especially rentals.  I’m sure that the reasons for that are complex, but it is a bit disturbing to see all the usually-empty second homes throughout our communities and, at the same time, to know that there are a whole host of people having a hard time filling that most basic of needs.

The last few days, my considerations about housing have become even more confused.  The swallows are returning and we are attempting to let them know that our house is a NO VACANCY neighborhood.  Not because we (probably just I) don’t want them here.  They have been nesting in our Kitchen Garden for at least 20 years.  Last year there were six nests out there, tucked up under the porch roof – a regular colony — and several of the swallow couples raised two broods in their seasonal homes.

Spring Welcome Wreath

But, this year there is a conflict of interest between us and our little feathered friends.  We need to have that part of our house painted.  I wish I could explain to the swallows that we have put off the inevitable for two-score years specifically out of deference to them.  Unfortunately, their nesting season coincides perfectly with our painting season and, once they are settled in, I can’t bear to have the nests knocked down.

Right now, the swallows are just beginning to arrive and they are in house-hunting mode.  Our first ‘inquiry’ for the season began with a knock at our front door.  Well… almost.  Nyel was about to go outside for something and, through the window, he saw a swallow perched on the pussy willow wreath that hangs on the door.  They looked at each other for a minute or so before the swallow took off – long enough for communication to take place.

Swallow: “Season’s greetings!  I’m back!”
Nyel: “No nesting this year.  Go away.”

No Vacancy

Nyel followed up his end of the conversation by taking down all the old nests (while I was off on an errand) and putting up some fluttery hanging things as deterrents against a new building boom.  I was upset by it all – Nyel says it’s a misplaced nesting instinct on my part – but I do recognize our need to have the area painted.  I am resigned.  For now.

Propping, Patching, Painting

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Mahatma Gandhi

You’ve probably heard the old joke about aging.  (Pay attention to the punctuation.)  “When you are 40, it’s Patch.  Patch.  Patch.  When you are 60, it’s Patch, Patch, Patch, Patch.  When you reach the venerable age of 80, it’s PatchPatchPatchPatchPatch.”  Well, it’s as true for houses in this neck of the woods as it is for people – maybe more so.

Of course, I don’t really have a straight-across comparison between our house and any living person.  The house was built in 1869, the same year that Mahatma Gandhi and Henri Matisse were born.  Gandhi lived until 1948 – 79 years; Matisse until 1954 – 85 years.  Not too shabby for either of them, but certainly not the age of our house.

Henri Matisse

Or, for a closer comparison, I could look at the building materials in addition to the age. Granted, redwood lumber (brought north on an oyster schooner) versus flesh and blood is definitely an apples and oranges sort of deal.  But, it is telling that some living redwood trees are 2,000 years old and more.  That’s definitely ‘flesh’ of a different sort and the statistics bode well for our house – to a point.

I’ve been reflecting on all of this because it’s looking like a new coat of paint is in order.  I’m not sure when we painted last (and by “we” I do not mean us, personally.)  It’s been at least ten years, maybe closer to twice that.  We had one side painted a year in the interest of our budget and I’m sure that will be the way of it this time, too.  It’s a big project.

Tom Crellin/H.A. Espy House, 1964

Plus, there’s always the scary possibility that the painter will run across a rotten board or some other dire contingency.  In her dotage, my mother worried that the little marble fireplace in the erstwhile parlor was sinking into oblivion.  More than once she had the Mack brothers or Bob Bredfield crawl under the house to reassure her.  And… speaking of fireplaces, what about that fern growing out of our east chimney?

As I say – PatchPatchPatchPatchPatch!