Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

Already? How did we get here so fast?

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Last Sunrise of Summer

Here we are – the last day of summer in the year of our lord 2018.  It’s been lots of fun and lots of work for me, more-or-less in equal measures.  Even the “work” part – finishing up a book, beginning a new series for the Observer – has been fun.  ‘Field trips’ with Carol and Tucker have been fun.  All the summer visitors have been fun.  My only complaint about this summer: there were many too many things I wanted to do than the days – even the longest ones – gave time for!

Especially neglected was our poor beleaguered garden.  Even though the aftermath of our new septic system is on the north side of the house – a side we have to go to fairly purposely to contemplate – it has somehow skewed my attitude toward the garden in general.  All that dirt where the lawn used to be.  And now all those struggling shoots of new grass.  My heart just hasn’t been in the out-of-doors.  On the other hand, I think I find some excuse or other every year about this time.  It’s apparently hard for me to come to grips with the “I don’t like gardening” concept.

Late Summer from Our Porch

However, I have been out there these past few days trying to prune back our Dorothy Perkins roses.  I’ve managed to get about halfway along our west fence and probably just need a couple more three-hour blocks of time (that’s all my old bones can manage in one go-round) to finish it up.

Part of the ‘trouble’ with forward progress are the other things that call my attention along the way.  The spent tiger lilies in the bed where I’m standing and the blankety-blank morning glory twining around the dahlias block my path and cause mega-diversions.  Actually, sometimes I’m glad for those distractions.  There is only so much snagging and scratching and ouching a body can withstand when it comes to rose-wrestling.

The Trimming Begins

But, so far, the weather has been glorious.  The passing parade of tourists has been interesting.  And my timing usually coordinates with Cappy’s desire for a walk so Carol and I can have a little visit over the fence as neighbors are said to do in little villages like ours.  All very Agatha Christie, but not in a murder mystery sort of way.

Bottom line – I’m not really ready for Fall.  Not that anyone asked.

Time for Another Tokeland Celebration

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Tokeland Hotel, 2012

We are headed for the lunch and a rendezvous with friends at the Tokeland Hotel.  In the “olden days” – say five or six years ago — going to Tokeland and meeting with these same friends was a yearly occurrence.  But, in those halcyon days of the early twenty-first century, we were all younger and more able and our annual Tokeland experience involved a picnic supper and an overnight at the hotel.

We made the trek on or close to Nyel’s birthday each early August.  For us, it got so we never had another birthday plan which has made it a little difficult these past few years when Tokeland was not on our radar.  This year, being the big seven five for Nyel, we’ve solved the birthday dilemma by celebrating in some way every single month starting a few months beforehand and to continue until Birthday Seven Six.

Evening at the Tokeland Hotel, 2009

As it has worked out, this month we can rendezvous once again at the Tokeland Hotel – but only for lunch.  Fortunately, the hotel is under new ownership and they are serving lunch on the weekends which had been an off-again on-again off-again proposition in years past.  And further fortnately, the food is reported to be excellent.  Yay!

There has been one serious change, though, in our (or probably just my) thinking about going to Tokeland.  Since time immemorial (well, at least since soon after Oysterville was founded in 1854) residents here travelled to Tokeland to party.  In the early days, they went by boat to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and relatives over there.  In fact, there was probably more visiting back and forth before the roads went in than there is now — a faster trip then, I daresay.  All that notwithstanding, I’ve long associated Tokeland with parties-of-the-eating variety.

Tokeland Picnic, 2009

Then, in 2012 when the present cannabis laws went into effect in our state, I began to wonder when partying in Tokeland might take on a different tone.  We all waited for someone to do the obvious – to make an application to open a recreational marijuana shop.  “Toke Land”?  It certainly seemed like a no-brainer.  But… it has never happened.  And yet… the expectation that it will, has somewhat altered my take on Tokeland.  Whether it would be for the good or the bad, I don’t know.  It just seems like such an opportunity wasted.

And another tradition bites the dust…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

1921 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

The Miss America Pageant says they are “evolving.”  Into what isn’t clear.  In fact, according to spokesperson Gretchen Carlson, herself a Pageant winner in 1989, “We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition.”

Apparently, “pageant” has become a euphemism for “beauty contest” and that’s not okay anymore. In keeping with the current cultural trends (read: the #MeToo movement) the bathing suit portion of the contest has been eliminated and the evening gown portion has been “revamped to give participants the freedom to outwardly express their self-confidence in evening attire of their choosing while discussing how they will advance their social impact initiatives.”  Effective next year.

Okay. Whatever.  From the images I’ve seen about this year’s “competition,” the contestants are still young, still beautiful, and still not representative of any cross section of youthful American womanhood that I know of.  Nor does the missamerica.org website convince me that the contest is other than a beauty contest.

1955 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

Claims by the organization such as “Miss America competitors have been a fearless advocate for causes such as civil rights and HIV/AIDs awareness” and “The Miss America Competition has served as a platform to amplify women’s voices during times in our country’s history when they have been needed most” just don’t resonate with me.  When I hear “Miss America” those causes are not what I think of and, frankly, I don’t want to.

The bottom line is, why can’t girls simply aspire to be beautiful anymore?  Why is it okay to have a competition based on intellectual qualities but not on an ideal of physical beauty?  I really don’t get it.  Apparently, the decision has to do with the recent revelation of “derogatory and chauvinistic messages” by a former CEO or with last year’s controversial emails among organization leadership talking about the contestants in lewd and vulgar ways.  Does the banning bathing suit decision really solve those problems?

2018 Miss America Swimsuit Competition

And that “intellectual” side of things is lame, at best.  Last year, contestants were asked about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the president’s reaction to white racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Paris climate agreement, Confederate statues, and whether football should be banned because of concussions.  They were given 20 seconds to answer.  Since when has intellectual been synonymous with political?

Why, oh why, do the simple pleasures of life – like showing off in a bathing suit – eventually get ruined by the do-gooders of the world?  (And don’t get me started on the contest entrance ‘rules’ which have considered divorced and abortion as sins of the first order.)  It seems to me there are way too many people in this world who are willing to throw that first stone.  Yikes!

In Defense of Disconnecting

Friday, September 7th, 2018

William Wordsworth in 1807 by Hery Eldridge

William Wordsworth was 32 when he wrote:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…

These are the first two of a fourteen-line sonnet – a lament on the loss of rural living in the wake of the mass production and factory work now that the Industrial Revolution was upon the world.  Wordsworth lived in England’s Lake District and the countryside there, as everywhere, had changed very little for centuries.  Now, railroads and steamships and coal mines and entrepreneurship were upon us.  Man’s connection to the natural world was at risk.

The poem was written in 1802 and was published five years later.  Wordsworth’s correspondence during that period also reveals his concern with the imbalance between the spiritual and material, between nature and economic growth.  I don’t know if he lamented the loss of our natural world, itself, but I feel sure that had he lived two hundred years later, his poetry (considered a part of the Romantic period) would have taken a serious environmental turn, as well.

On Our Porch

I, too, often think “the world is too much with us.”  Mostly, I have that thought when I watch or listen to the news.  I’m especially lucky, in that regard.  If I unplug and turn away and simply step outside into Oysterville, that frantic outer world disappears.  Then, my world is quiet except for birdsong.  It smells of the sweet grasses in the meadow with a bit of pungent geranium fragrance from the pots on our porch.  And I count my blessings.

Pondering Pooh and Other Perplexities

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

E.H. Shepherd Illustration

We seem to have bookmarked the summer by going to matinees – “The Rider” in June and “Christopher Robin” yesterday.  I loved the first one.  The second, not so much – but I’m not sure why.

First, let me say that I am a huge A.A. Milne fan.  I love the Winnie-the-Pooh books and usually have trouble accepting any animated versions of the denizens of Hundred Acre Woods.  That was not the case with this movie.  I thought the live-action character portrayals were superb – especially Pooh.  He was precisely the Pooh of my imagination.  So was the setting, or at least the Hundred Acre Woods part –  the rickety bridge, the makeshift falling-down shelters, the hand-lettered signs of childhood.

E. H. Shepherd Illustration

The movie makers got all that just right.  It was the story I found ho-hummish.  Predictable and overstated.  Disappointing.  And the human characters – especially Christopher Robin and his daughter Maddie – a bit too old.  He should have been in his twenties; she in her single digits.  Maybe then I’d have found the happy ending more acceptable.  But… maybe not.

I left the theater feeling robbed of the bittersweet longing that the books, themselves, always give me.  It’s the same feeling I get when I hear “Puff the Magic Dragon.”  For the adult me, it’s that filled-with-wistfulness for what can’t be recaptured sensation that is the magic of Pooh and of Puff.  But the tears I shed yesterday in the movie weren’t the tears that go with nostalgia.  More the tears of disappointment.  Still… you probably have to see the film for yourself.  It may speak to you differently.

Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

 

Picnic at Beard’s Hollow, 1940s

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been conflicted about Labor Day Weekend – sad that it marked summer’s end and happy that school was about to begin. That was as true during my teaching years as it had been when I was a student.  By the time I retired, that ‘Labor Day Weekend Feeling’ was forever ingrained.

Besides… living here on the Peninsula simply acts as reinforcement to that transition from summer to fall.  We have always been a vacation destination.  It’s the beach, after all.  During my lifetime, I’ve watched that ‘vacation’ moniker morph into ‘tourist’ and, lately, into the ‘year-round tourist’ term.  Even so, there is still a tangible lull in the activity on the Peninsula after Labor Day.  Fewer visitors, less traffic, diminished hours for some tourist-dependent businesses, and an almost audible sigh of relief, even among those whose livelihood depends upon that influx of outsiders.

In Oysterville, Labor Day weekend marks the end of our Music Vespers for another season.  I am always a bit amazed that the twelve weekly services are over so soon.  Although there are no longer “summer homes” here that get boarded up at the end of the season, we know that some of our part-time residents won’t be here as often and the stream of visitors to the church will lessen.  Somehow, it seems a relief to have the village ‘back,’ though we’ll be looking forward to friends and visitors by the next three-day weekend.

Smokin’ Hot!

Although the shortening days sadden me, the hint of nip in the air is a reminder that the ducks and geese will be moving through soon and hunting season is just around the corner.  Not that Nyel hunts anymore and not that I ever did.  But I love to hear that “pop! pop! pop!” out on the bay – a reminder of my childhood and of the continuing rhythms of our lives.  I’m even looking forward to first storm of the season (but maybe not until November).  It seems a long time since we’ve hunkered down by the fire.

Meanwhile, though, bring on tomorrow’s barbecues!  And Happy Labor Day!

Wow! I swear I heard her eyelashes flutter!

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Nate McQuarrie, mid-bite

Periodically, Don and Laura McQuarrie blow through town and, when they do, they gather a group of us together for dinner at the Bridgewater Bistro across the river.  Last night they had their handsome son Nate with them – an almost clone of Don (especially his voice!) – who we hadn’t seen since he was knee high to the proverbial grasshopper.

I thought the highlight of the evening was going to be the discussion with Nate about carnivorous plants.  Apparently, that area of botany has been a passion of his since he was in third grade and, on this leave from his naval duties, he and his folks were not only visiting his twin sister, Emily, but… they went to the Darlingtonia State Park.  According to its website. “Darlingtonia State Natural Site is the only Oregon state park property dedicated to the protection of a single plant species.  Concurrently, the plants it protects are the only carnivorous flora in the system.” Who knew?  The McQuarries, of course!

There were lots of other high-spirited discussions among us, but I really thought that Nate and the carnivorous plants would be the highlight of the evening until…  Just after ordering dessert, I excused myself for a visit to the ‘ladies’ and had one of those you-had-to-be-there encounters.  At first, I had the place to myself, but by the time I exited the stall, two women had entered. One had disappeared into the vacant stall and the other woman – 40ish, blond, well-dressed – was waiting for her by the sink.

As I approached to wash my hands, she smiled and said in a very provocative tone, “And what are you doing for the next twenty-five minutes?”  Say what?

“I’m having dessert,” I replied.

“And what would that be?” she asked.  I wasn’t looking in her direction, busy as I was with soap and water, but I swear I could hear her eyelashes fluttering at me.

Darlingtonia State Park

“Silk pie,” I said, reaching toward the towel dispenser and hoping she’d move out of the way of my dripping hands.

“And what is the recipe for silk pie?” she asked.  I’m telling you, she made it sound totally suggestive.  I mean, really?

“I haven’t a clue,” I said.  “You’d have to look at the menu.”

I left feeling annoyed, amused, and amazed in equal parts.  I think that being hit on in the ladies’ room is a first for me.  Weird, but…  pretty good at my tender age, eh?

Does being “one of the oldest” count?

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Tom Crellin House, 1869  (Our House)

Our house is not the oldest in Washington, or even in Oysterville.  It’s in the oneofthe category – and you can think of that word oneofthe as similar to wannabe in pronunciation but not necessarily in definition.  In Washington, the oldest house (most likely) is the John R. Jackson House on the Jackson Highway in Lewis County.  It was built in 1850, reconstructed in 1915, and now is part of a State Park.  In Oysterville, the Munson House (once called the “Red Cottage” but recently painted gray) was built in 1863 and the John Crellin House, once the twin of ours, was built in 1867 – both older than ours.

John R. Jackson House, 1850

The Tom Crellin House (ours) was built in 1869 and has been in the Espy family since 1892.  And when I say “in the family” I mean that in every sense – fanciful and otherwise.  These walls do talk to us – their scars and patches have recorded many stories from long ago.  We also know that the house is happiest when there are parties and concerts and events here – the house loves people.  And, it is also abundantly clear that this old place requires about the same investment in upkeep each year as keeping a kid in an Ivy League College or an elderly relative in an upscale living facility.  We consider the house a beloved family member.

John Crellin House, 1867

So it is that we are beginning to consider what to do next year to commemorate her 150th birthday.  We are pretty sure it will be a party of some kind.  Maybe something involving house tours.  Maybe a birthday party in combination with the establishment of some kind of long-term care package for the house – a non-profit foundation or society to keep the house intact for another 150 years. That’s been suggested as we have struggled to find a solution to the house’s future.

The Little Red Cottage. 1863

Or maybe there’s a better idea.  It bears some consideration… and soon.  One of the things about getting older, whether you are a person or a house – each year goes by more quickly than the last.  And there’s also that “best laid plans” thing…  So, I guess the first question to be asked is would anybody come to a birthday party for this old house?  If not, there’s no point in ordering the champagne.

Yesterday on Territory Road

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Edwardian Visitors

Among the usual stream of visitors to the church yesterday were a group of people who could have stepped right out of an early 1900s photograph – except that they were animated and in full color.  We had seen them earlier in the day in Long Beach where they were at one of the pocket parks enjoying a picnic lunch.  They seemed ‘picture

perfect’ in Oysterville so I grabbed my camera and went out to talk to them.

It turned out that they were members of the Edwardian Society of Oregon and were on one of their periodic outings.  According to the information on their website http://edwardiansociety.com/ “We enjoy the style and spirit of the Edwardian era, approximately 1900 to 1919. Although this time in history was brief, its impact on the 20th century was huge. We will explore the ideas, arts, culture and style of the Edwardian era through our activities.”

Oysterville Baptist Congregation, 1902

Before I could ask permission to take a picture, I was pressed into service to photograph them in front of the church using their cameras and I hoped against hope that my usual shaky hands would behave.  It turned out that we knew people in common and, since they so perfectly represented the era in which my grandparents moved into the erstwhile parsonage across the street, I impulsively asked them in for a quick peek.  (Nyel, bless him, took it all in stride, acting the perfect host, as usual.)

They left with Oysterville Walking Tour brochures in hand and I couldn’t help wishing that it was one of our Vesper bulletins, instead.  On the front of those bulletins is a 1902 photograph of the Baptist congregation gathered in front of the church when it was but ten years old.  My grandfather and his two oldest children (Medora who was 3 and Albert, 2) are in that photo.

The visit by the Edwardian Society of Oregon seemed fitting, indeed.

The New Normal

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Dan Driscoll’s “Sunset Over Oysterville 8/21/2018”

“On the bright side, the smoke kept the temperatures down in the state today.”  That’s what an article in yesterday’s Seattle PI said.  Really???  It was 90° on our porch yesterday.  I’ve seldom seen it hotter than that in Oysterville – not in all my eight-plus decades.  But then, I don’t know that the PI or anyone else in the so-called ‘Emerald City’ considers our corner of Washington part of the state – at least not the Peninsula.

Their interactive air quality map does show South Bend, however, and listed the air quality level there at “198 (unhealthy)” at four o’clock this morning.  That compared to “241 (very unhealthy)” in Tacoma at the same hour.  Yesterday, Seattle’s AQI topped the list for worst air quality in the world at 180 followed by Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (178) and then Portland (172).

The report went on to say, “Of course, that’s nothing compared to Eastern Washington where the highest AQI in Chelan read 411, well into hazardous territory, and (thanks to local wildfires) showing no signs of slowing down.”  Say what?  That’s a statement I don’t quite understand, coming as it did right after the sentence about Seattle’s 180 AQI topping the world list.  Maybe some of those stats were for one day and some for another.  Or maybe the term ‘new normal’ goes beyond climate change these days and includes drawing illogical conclusions as well.  Not fake news exactly.  More like sloppy reporting.

Another Smoky, Windless Day in Oysterville – 8/22/2018

Whatever the actual facts may be, we found it more comfortable to stay indoors yesterday.  We heard that, under the current outside conditions, people were breathing in the equivalent of smoke from five cigarettes a day.  Really?  As an ex-smoker I couldn’t help the mental addition of “without any of the satisfaction” to that statement.

This morning’s National Weather Service alert says that smoke from ongoing fires in northern Washington and British Columbia will continue to move across the area today and the air quality alert will remain in effect until noon tomorrow.

Oh.  And did I say that the AQI in Beijing right now is 75?