Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

The Secret Life of Our Americauna

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Backyard Chickens

“Are you missing a chicken?” Tucker asked us the other morning.  He was calling from the lane, down by the “No Cars Please” sign. He had discovered a pile of brown feathers.

“I don’t think so,” was my reply but when I asked Nyel he said we were, indeed, missing a chicken.  The Americauna had not come the previous night when he called the chickens to lock them in. Oh oh!

But, she showed up later in the day looking none the worse for wear.  No missing feathers – not that we could tell.  She’s big and very fluffy – not sleek like some breeds.  Depending on where her feathers might have gone missing, it would be hard to tell.  Plus, she’s secretive – keeps her own counsel, you might say.  In fact, we aren’t even sure she’s a true Americauna.  That breed lays light blue eggs, presumably.  Hers are brown.  She won’t talk about it.

Americauna in Nest Box

She’s a large chicken, seven or eight pounds – considered “dual purpose” which means good for meat or for eggs.  We are only interested in the eggs and she’s rated ‘good’ in that department – medium-sized and three or four a week.  Americaunas are described as having “a muff and beards and are very hardy and sweet.”  Since her return, she’s spent almost all her waking hours in the nest box — but, she’s not laying.  Gone broody?  Maybe.  But she should be producing eggs to sit on.  She won’t talk about that either.

So, what was she doing away from the coop the night of August 17th?  Whose feathers were those that were seen in the lane and reported by Tucker?  If they did not belong to her, did she perhaps have an altercation with a foreign chicken?  So far, there are no clear answers and no indictments to be made.  The Americauna seems, for now, beyond reproach.

We would feel more inclined to do a full investigation if it had been the Russian Orloff who had gone missing.  She, too, is a large chicken whose ancestors once went by the name ‘Chlianskaia’ and later they were simply known as ‘Russians.’ I’m not sure when or how Count Orloff-Techesmensky got into the act but he, apparently, was quite an enthusiast of that particular breed and introduced them to the European and American public.  By one name or other, they were being imported into the United States as early as 1875.

Russian Orloff – On Guard Duty?

Our Americauna and the Russian Orloff are good friends.  They hang out together when they are free-ranging in the backyard.  They enjoy dust baths together and are equally unfriendly to the newer members of the coop.  That they might be up to clandestine activities is always a possibility.  But the Orloff has not been missing from the coop, nor has she been engaged in any secretive behavior that we know of.  Not time, yet, to call for a Special Investigator.  But we are keeping an eye out for an interpreter.

Totally Bassackward in Oysterville!

Monday, August 20th, 2018
  • Larger-than-Life Us by Vicki

    Number One – you don’t expect to be given a gift at a church service. Not even at the Sunday afternoon Music Vesper Service in  Oysterville.

  • Number Two – it isn’t usual, at least in my experience, for the person leaving the area to be giving a going-away gift to someone who’s staying.

But leave it to Vicki and Fred Carter to turn those unspoken protocols upside down!  Not really a surprise when you think about it.  If you read the Observer and saw Patty Hardin’s article about them on page B1 of last week’s paper, you know what I mean.  Vicki and Fred dance to a drummer all of their own and are just about to boogie on out of our lives with their four dogs, three cats, and most of their worldly possession.

They are headed for unknown adventures in a southerly direction – for now.  Tomorrow is the day they roll off the Peninsula in their fifth-wheeler for parts unknown (more-or-less.)  They actually have their first few destinations specifically arranged and it sounds as if they’ll be a step or two ahead planning-wise as they proceed.  They even have a job lined up that they can do along the way!  Something related to selling ad space on campsite maps.  It sounds as though Vicki will be the sales rep while Fred plays golf!

Vicki and Fred

Vicki, a once-upon-a-time art major, is taking along all her painting gear and singer-songwriter Fred will have his guitars aboard.  They’ll be busy when they are not on the move – and that doesn’t even factor in their desire to see everything everyplace has to offer – festivals, concerts, museums, monuments.  And to sample the regional foods.  And to meet their traveling neighbors.  And to book some musical gigs (Fred) and to do a travel blog (Vicki.)  Not only do they want to do it all – knowing Fred and Vicki, they will be successful.

So, I was totally flummoxed yesterday when Fred handed me a beautifully framed photograph of Nyel and me – a larger-than-life head(s)-shot that Vicki had taken at the recent CPHM reception for Eric Wiegardt and David Campiche.  Backwards!!  It was us who should have been giving them a going-away gift!  I console myself that they wouldn’t have had room for a single anything in their traveling household.  Also… they promise to be back.

I’m trying to think of an appropriate Coming Home present but, even so, I’m hoping against hope that I don’t have too long a time to do the planning.  Hurry back, Fred and Vicki.  We are already missing you and you haven’t even left yet!

Cathapotle, Stella, and the Oscar B.

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Inside the Cathapotle Plankhouse

Talk about making every minute count!  Yesterday, Carol, Tucker, Nyel, and I went on another of our “summer field trips” – this time to two destinations with a bonus ferry ride thrown in!  Any one of those activities could have been the entire focus of the day, but it was definitely one of those “and while we are at it…” things.  Except for the ferry ride.  That turned out to be the only choice if we wanted to get home in a timely manner, and a great choice it was!

First, we headed for Ridgefield, Tucker driving – old duffers in the front, ladies in the back as usual.  We arrived about lunch time.  First stop:  a Mexican Restaurant and a quick ride around town.  We liked what we saw.  Worth going back, we thought.  Then on to the Catahpotle Plank House which is located on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

The Old Duffers

The Plankhouse was built in 2004-2005 in partnership with the Chinook Indian Nation, Portland State University, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and numerous other community partners and volunteers. The House serves as an education and interpretive center and is used by the Chinook Indian Nation for cultural events throughout the year.  It is open to the public on summer Saturdays and Sundays from noon to four and it is well worth the trip – and the walk from the parking lot once you get there!

Several years ago, Tony Johnson, Chairman of the Chinook Tribe, urged our Pacific County Community Historians to visit.  He spoke of the Plankhouse building process using traditional materials and techniques and the best historic information and extant examples available. He didn’t exaggerate one bit – it was all he had said and more!

Still at the Stella Museum

We decided to take Highway 4 home so we could stop in Stella at the Historical Museum there which, also, is open on weekends only, but from eleven to four.  We arrived about 3:30 and learned that the museum includes four buildings – three jam-packed with interesting things from Stella’s heyday and the fourth, an almost-completed blacksmith shop.  We also learned that Stella was not known for its cannery (as we thought from the Mary Garvey “Cannery Shed” song), but for their production of cigar rafts, once a major method for transporting logs down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco.

“We’ll stay as long as you’d like,”” said the friendly docent.  She turned out to be the museum’s primary mover-and-shaker – knows our friend Nancy Anderson of the Quarantine Station in Knappton and is working with Lucien Swerdloff who teaches Historic Preservation classes at Clatsop Community College. The museum’s annual fundraising event takes place the weekend after Labor Day and, by then, they hope to have the smithy up and running.

Aboard the Oscar B

We headed homeward about 4:30, only to find that the highway was closed just beyond Cathlamet.  Tucker did a bit of quick maneuvering and we were across the highway and headed down through town to the ferry dock before we could give it much thought at all.  Just in time!  The Oscar B was being loaded and we were the next-to-the-last vehicle to get on board.  Woot!  Woot!

Home by 6:30. Too tired to fix dinner.  Cheese and crackers and grapes while we watched the PBS News Hour and one Jeopardy rerun.  The best field trip day yet!!!

Lollygagging at Adelaide’s

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

You don’t get to lollygag very often during summer.  Not when you live at the beach.  When you are just visiting?  Yes.  But when you live at a high-profile tourist destination, there is “no rest for the wicked” as my sainted mother used to say.  Not in summer.

So, on the days that there is white space on our calendar and we feel that we have used our time wisely around the home place, we often head for Adelaide’s for an afternoon coffee break.  Why Adelaide’s?  It’s close by — ten minutes at a legal speed.  Good coffee (decaf mocha for me, double espresso for Nyel; mine as hot as possible, his iced in summer).  Plus, there are lots of other goodies if we so desire (which we almost never do.)  Plus, we often see people we know (which is pleasant) and, more than once, I’ve been pointed out as the author of a book someone is buying and I always love that celebrity feeling when I’m asked for my signature!

Yesterday afternoon was a perfect time for lollygagging outside.  That doesn’t happen very often for me.  I must be still a California girl at heart because I don’t really feel warm until the temperature is a degree or so away from 80.  And no wind!  Yesterday it was probably the no wind part that drew us out to the Adirondack chairs to sit and sip.  Our coffees were even delivered to us!

Adelaide’s at the Taylor Hotel by Jean Stamper

And there we sat, sipping and enjoying the passing parade for thirty or forty minutes.  Just enough time to regroup.  Just enough time to enjoy one another’s company.  Just enough time to ruminate on how lucky we are to be in this (relatively) peaceful corner of the world during these turbulent and uncertain times.  I highly recommend lollygagging!  At Adelaide’s!

…and Michael cooked, of course!

Friday, August 17th, 2018

I can’t think when we were all together last.  Ten years ago?  Maybe thirty?  Ever?  The Frank Family, Patty and Noel, and us.  The arranging was done by Michael who is now older than I was when we first met … by a darned sight.  So is his brother Steven.  And the next generation – several kids as tall as I am… how could that be?

I’d like to say we did a lot of catching up, but no, we didn’t.  I’d like to say we began conversations where we had left off.  But we didn’t do that either.  It was all about now – Michael’s book tour in Italy and Steven’s new book Class Action and a righteous discussion about pro-choice and ICE and maybe just a tad of personal talk among us elderly about the aging process and how we dislike it.  And lots of hugging.

Was it like we’d never missed a beat?  Not exactly… except when we realized that the next generation – Martie and Merona’s grandchildren – have joined the ranks of “young people” with talents and opinions and interests of their own.  Not surprising on the one hand, but overwhelming and fabulous on the other.  Especially, that we could be there, all of us together!

There wasn’t time to take it all in.  Did I say more than two words to Patty?  Did I tell Michael how delicious the dinner was – eggplant parmesano, green beans and, for dessert, still hot-out-of-the-oven blackberry cobbler with ice cream.  The evening ended too soon.  And even if it’s tomorrow (which is impossible) our next gathering will be too long in coming.  That’s just the way it is with old friends.

I always wondered where that went!

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Ed, Judy, Sydney, Nyel

One of my third-cousins-once-removed (who we don’t know very well) and her husband (who we had never met) came knocking at our door one day last week – another of those unexpected pleasures of summer!  We asked them in and spent an enjoyable hour or two getting better acquainted.

It turned out that they were in an RV and were staying on the Peninsula for several days.  It also turned out that Ed (who is a long-distance truck driver) is approaching retirement and is looking into his options regarding things to do when the time comes.  He had recently invested in a spiffy metal detector and so… we asked them back to have a go at our lawn.  “You won’t even know I’ve dug anywhere,” Ed said.

Inspecting The Treasure

I have to say that the whole concept goes against my grain just a little.  Not that I don’t delight in turning up the occasional piece of crockery or broken toy when I’m out doing my due diligence in the garden beds but, somehow, I don’t think we should go on the search on purpose.  I’m not sure why.  I certainly am not opposed to searching in archives and old files for paper treasures.  Why not metal ones hiding beneath our feet?

And so it was, that they came back a few days later and Ed spent the afternoon on the hunt.  Judy and Nyel and I (and the chickens) sat out in the sunshine and clapped and cheered as Ed swept that metal detector over the lawn – foot by foot in a very purposeful way. Alas!  No twenty-dollar gold pieces, but he did find a 1943 nickel (that Judy ended up dropping and losing when she was talking with those chickens!) and another nickel too corroded to date.

Long lost gyroscope?

There were also some bolts, a small medal with an angel on it, something Ed thought was a top, and the handle of a spoon (probably silver plated).  The spoon handle reminded me of something my grandmother had written to her daughter Medora I 1913.  She had been cleaning house and she wrote, “… All the while looking for a lost spoon as usual.  I am going to get some tin spoons, and they can get lost if they want to.  It keeps me worn to a frazzle hunting silver.”  I couldn’t help but wonder if Ed had found at least part of one of those “lost spoons” from a century ago.

As for the “top” – later Tucker, who has an eye for things, confirmed that it was, indeed, one of those gyroscopes that you spun by pulling the string wound around it.  Once you got it spinning you could put it anywhere – on the table, on the end of your finger, anywhere at all and it would continue spinning for a long, long time.  They were popular in the 1940s and ’50s and I remember having one that I played with a lot.  I wonder what ever happened to it.  I wonder if this is the very one that provided me with so much fun all those years ago…

When you recognize a zucchini…

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Nyel came home from the library yesterday with more than books.  A book we’d been waiting for… yes.  But, also, a familiar looking light-ish green zucchini.  A fairly big one.

“Did you run into Dobby at the library?” I asked.  I was sure that I recognized that vegetable.  I’d met other members of its family just recently.

“Not Dobby,” was the reply.  “But they had a big box of his zucchini on the counter.  I asked Beth if they were Dobby’s and she said ‘yes,’ and to help myself.”

What a good idea!  Dobby has been giving away his bumper crop for several weeks now.  We were the beneficiaries of three beautiful ones about ten days ago.  I’d been to their house on a quest for information and he and Lila loaded me up with garden goodies as I left.  The zucchini were distinctive looking – their color plus the size of some (large!) were different from the zucchini we’ve grown in our own garden in the past.

Dobby had told me to come back anytime for more.  He had been giving away those zucchini right and left and still they were coming on in his (very extensive) garden.  But… you know how it is when friends say to come back for more… you seldom do.  Obviously, he was serious about sharing his bounty.  A box full at Timberland Library – imagine!

My mouth began to water immediately!  Chef Nyel had prepared those first zucchini in a variety of ways– sautéed with onions, in stir fry, and my personal favorite – zucchini fritters served with sour cream!  Yum!  He promises a repeat of that meal tonight.  Thanks, Dobby!  And, whether you readers need a book or not right now, I suggest a trip to the library on the off-chance that the box isn’t empty yet.  Or, knowing Dobby, maybe it’s been replenished.  Yum!

It’s all over but the shout-outs!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Regatta Viewing At Its Best

It’s back to the usual summer quiet here in Oysterville – just a few tourists visiting the church and strolling through town with the ‘walking tour’ brochures in hand.  We are back to watching “the slow breathing of the bay, six hours in and six hours out” as Willard said in his afterward to Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village.  Now that the annual regatta is over, we are basking in the glow…

Too, we are talking about all the behind-the-scenes activities and about the people who – to us land-lubbing spectators – put everything together almost without effort.  Take, for instance, the canopy that magically appeared over the chairs lined up on the shoreline just before the race began Saturday. Seemingly, it appeared by magic!

Alex at work behind the scenes.

We had lugged our chairs down to our usual regatta viewing spot and had barely settled in when that pesky rain came back.  Nyel stayed put but I hot-footed it back to the house to grab jackets and my trusty  yellow rain hat.  I waited a minute or two for the skies to clear and then went back to join Nyel and the other stalwarts who had begun to gather.  I was surprised and delighted to see that a canopy had been set up, apparently just for us and our friends!

I assumed (I know, I know – never assume) that it was the work of Charley and Amy (Tucker’s son and daughter-in-law) who had, by then, joined the crowd.  Not until Sunday night, when Tucker and I were doing a little re-cap, did I learn that it was Alex Randle who had brought his truck to the end of the lane. And it was Alex’s canopy.  And it was Alex who saw to our comfort and protection from the weather!  “Wow!” as Tucker would say!  I’m so sorry I missed all that, Alex!  Thanks so much!

Then, there was Clark’s friend Jason Johnson who, when all was said and done on Saturday, didn’t have a spot to sleep.  Jason… who has come every year since he was a kid.  ‘Back in the day’ when the boats were hauled down to the bay by hand (not with benefit of Dave and Lina’s tractor or by other mechanized means), it was Jason who would jump up to help Tucker while the others might be sitting ’round the campfire.

Jason at the Regatta Dinner

It was a huge job. “We’d attach a line to the bow eye of each boat in turn and then drag them from the foot of Clay Street (where the bench is now) to the water’s edge,” Tucker told me.  “It was hard work and we’d walk home pretty exhausted with some sweat trickling down our backs….  He never sailed in the regatta or even tried but was always here to help. He’s the one who gave his younger son the middle name “Tucker.” Everyone in our family just loves Jason or “Jay Boy” as they call him. I’d love to go back and haul a few boats with him if I could.”

“But he could have stayed with us,” I said.  “We had plenty of empty beds.”  It was midnight before the Wachsmuth bed shortage was discovered, apparently, and Jason “made do” on a makeshift bed in Tucker’s living room.  “We didn’t want to disturb you,” Tucker said.  “Fiddlesticks,” said I. “What are neighbors for?  Next time…”

A Summer of Connections

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Mike’s Book

At every turn this summer, I seem to come across someone wanting information about something.  Usually the questions have to do with Oysterville and someone who once lived here.  Or, about the cemetery and someone who died here.  But, there are other questions, too, and I am amazed at how many times I can provide answers.  I think it’s called “getting old.”

The other thing that has happened this particular summer is that the questioners are from places far away.  In that respect, Rosemary Peeler gets the prize so far.  She came clear to Oysterville from Australia looking for more information about her Briscoe roots.  Some years ago, Rosemary  had run across one of my Oysterville Daybook entries about Judge John Briscoe who lived and worked in Oysterville in the 1850s, ’60s, and ’70s.  We’ve communicated periodically since and, of course, I put her in touch with Mike Lemeshko early on.  I think he was still researching and writing The Cantankerous Farmer vs. the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company, which has become the definitive chronicle about that crusty old pioneer.  The three of us spent a pleasant few hours at my dining room table looking at documents and pooling our knowledge.  Great fun!

Then, a few days ago, I received a phone call from Peggy Gordon in Canada who was looking for a copy of Anne Nixon’s family chronicle The Heckes Kemmer Caulfield Family History.  I’m not at all sure how Ms. Gordon got my name (or the name of Anne’s book, for that matter) but she was hoping I could connect her with an available copy.  I contacted my lifelong friend Anne (who is now living in California) who contacted her cousin Judy Stamp (who is here on the Peninsula) and who had all the remaining copies of the book.  Alas! there are no more, so Peggy is considering a six-hour drive from Canada to take a look at the book at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum or at Timberland Library.

Sydney’s Camp Chronicles

And, this past weekend, Susie and Gordie Andrews introduced me to Penny Parks from New Jersey (I think) who has done some work for the fabulous “Find a Grave” site – a primary destination point for almost every budding genealogist, but one that can sometimes be fraught with problems.  She is interested in completing and correcting some work that has been done on our Oysterville Cemetery and I was delighted to be able to help, even minimally, in her endeavor.  Come to find out, Penny was here at the beach because of the annual gathering of old campers at Sherwood which is celebrating it’s 100th year anniversary this summer.  I was a camper there in its earliest incarnation as Camp Willapa – not quite 100 years ago!  And that’s another connection…

…and the winds blew fair…

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

Before the Race

The rain smattered and pattered right up until the starting horn blew at yesterday’s Oysterville Regatta.  From then on, it remained dry (mostly) and was suitably windy (actually, more than)  for the nine competing boats and their redoubtable skippers.

Judy and Charlie – Photo by Vicki

There were some gnarly gusts, though, catching a number of the sleek laser sailboats just wrong and over they’d go.  Exciting for us shoreside spectators, difficult for the stalwart sailors, and cause for the rescue jet skier (Doug Knutzen) to zip hither and thither throughout the race.  Thankfully, the event was disaster-free, though there was one problem that caused a skipper to drop out after the first heat and another boat lost its rudder for a few tense minutes.  The consensus: easier sailing than last year but enough excitement to last until Regatta 2019!

Admiral of the Fleet – Photo by Vicki

Afterwards, the Awards Dinner, the culminating Regatta event each year since the early 1990s, surpassed all expectations!  Orchestrated by Carol Wachsmuth and daughter Lina, and hosted by Lina and Dave, there was a fabulous array of food and beverages (served by our favorite professional Pamela and her friend Lisa) – even a special beer for the occasion, brewed by Carol and Tucker’s son Charley! Music was provided by Judy and Charlie of Double J and the Boys. In addition to the stars of the day, nearly all of Oysterville was in attendance along with friends and relatives from as far away as Germany.

Friends and Family

Tucker, in his capacity as Admiral of the Fleet and Master of Ceremonies, presented the awards – the trophies all crafted by him and taking on more significance with each passing year.  The Oyster Cup is adorned with each winner’s name and goes back to 1994!  There were tee shirts (also designed by Tucker) for all participants and workers and, to cap it all off, he treated us to his “2018 Regatta Song” – plus a review of past celebratory compositions as well!  Wow!

Regatta Pinata Grandkids

The youngest children raced around the periphery, adorned in the colorful remains of an afternoon piñata attack.  Old friends renewed acquaintences and new friendships were forged.  As it grew dark, a fire was lit in the firepit, various instruments began to appear, and guests gathered ’round to join in on old favorites.  As Nyel and I walked home, we talked about our good fortune to live in this lovely place in the company of good friends and neighbors.  It really doesn’t get much better than Regatta Day in Oysterville!