Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

All Around The Bay To Get Half Way Home

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Meanwhile… in Sequim on January 15th

When the Pacific County Health Department voice asked if we would be willing to go to South Bend for our Covid-19 vaccination, we said “Sure.”  After all what’s an hour and ten minute drive (56.1 miles) after ten months of sheltering?  It’s not that I’m crazy about that drive around the bay.  But we are hardly in a position to negotiate.

I don’t know how far it is as the crow flies.  I remember when the USPO Department was last threatening to close down Oysterville’s post office and they suggested Bay Center as an alternative to us.  They said it was only 6.4 miles away.  Well… yeah!  As the crow flies.  More like 46.8 miles by road.  We thought briefly of going into the carrier pigeon business to supply mail delivery to the town.  Fortunately we didn’t have to.

I’m not quite sure why we need to go clear to South Bend for our vaccine.  Others we know are getting theirs (or did yesterday and the day before) at the County Offices in Long Beach.  They must have run out of vaccine for the beach,  but wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to bring an additional supply this way instead of having all of us old folks clotting up the roads going that way?  (Oh.  I guess I didn’t mention that although the time to get to South Bend should take under an hour and a quarter, it usually takes me about an hour and a half.  I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to all those curves around the bay…)  I wonder how many of us old ducks will be going that way today?

From “Private Snafu” WW II Cartoon Series by Warner Brothers

But… never mind.  We’ll shortly be on our way.  Once we get this first shot, we’ll be halfway home, so to speak, with the second one scheduled in just four weeks.  Also in South Bend.  I do hope that all the other Phase B-1 folks have managed to get scheduled by now.  I hope they are not still on the endless round of dial-hangup-redial.  It’s a better system than some — as in Sequim’s announcement to their 70-amd-over population, “Just come on down!”  I think the old WW II slogan SNAFU is probably in order regarding the distribution confusion, not just here but everywhere.  You remember… Situation Normal All F*cked Up.  Just sayin’…

Past, present, future – a collision of tears.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

It was hard.  It took two-and-a-half hours of hitting re-dial.  But, finally, we are scheduled to get our vaccinations on Friday.  We were asked, apologetically I thought, if we would mind driving to South Bend.  “Not at all,” we said.  Granted, the drive is not without it’s difficulties for us.  But… mind?  “Not at all!”

We haven’t breathed that first sigh of relief just yet.  But by Friday afternoon, we’ll no doubt be feeling more hopeful than we have in almost a year.  Hopeful that we may get through this most difficult of times without undo hardship — at least, as is the case so far, nothing we can’t handle.  By my birthday at February’s end, we should be facing the world with a bit more enthusiasm, even though still distanced and masked.

And we are SO grateful to our friends who got in touch yesterday morning.  “They are starting to schedule at ten o’clock,”  we were told.  “Call the County Health Department,” they urged.  And to other friends who posted on FaceBook — “just keep dialing,”  they encouraged.  We did and we are so glad.

Then, this morning… we watched Kamala Harris and Joe Biden take their oaths of office.  It was a beautifully orchestrated ceremony and I’m happy to say that I wept throughout it all.  Tears of joy and hope and reassurance.  But of it all, what will stay with me is the image of the Biden Family Bible — worn and well-used and “decades old” said the news commentator.  Because it looks so much like our Pryor Family Bible, I’d say “centuries old.”  Ours, printed in 1846, first belonged to my four times great-grandfather.  It is also huge and also looks a bit battered.  I loved it that President Biden brought his ancestors to the inauguration with him.

All-in-all, it’s a big week in our household — a week that clearly binds us to the rest of our nation and the world in such disparate ways.  Let the mending and the strengthening begin!

Background Noise

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

It’s an ongoing discussion in our house — not an argument, exactly — but a disagreement we return to periodically, even knowing that there’s no solution.  It’s one of the less important factors in the way each of us is wired — one of those “opposites attract” kinds of things, maybe.  But who knew?

Nyel is one of those people who wants the radio playing all day long.  I don’t think it really matters to him if he is in the room or not.  He is not what you would call “an active listener” — at least not most of the time.  When I catch a snippet of something and want to know more, my beloved husband of about 1/3 of a century just looks at me as if I’ve recently arrived from Mars.  He has no idea how to answer.  He hasn’t been listening.  But godforbid I should turn that radio off.

I, on the other hand, can’t bear background anything.  Voices or music or static — I need to deal with it.  I am compelled to listen, maybe even to take notes or, if it offends, turn it off.  Pull the plug.  Whatever.  And, being the sort of person that I am, I can’t concentrate on two things at once.  No way.

I used to think that my brain was less able than other people’s as in my college roommates who wanted music playing while they studied.  I retreated to the library.  I always thought that they could do two things at once and I was, somehow, not as clever.  Later, when I began teaching, some of my colleagues played “background music” while kids were doing math problems or reading silently. The theory was that it helped them concentrate.  I was always glad I hadn’t had teachers like that.

But, more recently, when Nyel and I have discussed the “radio-always-on problem,” I’m thinking that I gave my roommates and others way too much credit.  Nine times out of ten Nyel has NO concept about what the radio has been spewing forth.  None.  As in nada.   “So why is it on?” I always end up asking.  There apparently is no answer except maybe the radio serves different purposes for different folks.  Given ten minutes of listening, Nyel is likely to be dozing in his chair.  Me… usually a dozen questions forming, most of which will never get answers or even be remembered…  Oh well.

Poised For The Next Step

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

The Next Step

I wonder how many of us are ready in Pacific County?   Presumably, those of us over 70 are next in line to receive the vaccine — the “B-1 Group” according to recent e-mail information we received.  And received. And received.  It was not made clear how we will be notified as to where and when to offer our arms.  But in our household, we are more than ready.  I imagine there are many, many all over the County who are ready to take that next step.

Meanwhile, we wait.  I’m not really certain what it is that we are waiting for.  Perhaps for authorization to come from on high.  Or, perhaps for more vaccine.  According to Wednesday’s paper:  Some 1,175 doses have been distributed to health facilities in Pacific County so far.  Ocean Beach Hospital initially received 975 does of Pfizer’s vaccine several weeks ago, but [Katie] Lindstrom said 500 of the doses have since been transferred to an out-of-county provider because there aren’t enough Phase 1a-eligible people in the county to use up all of the doses.

For you…?

SAY WHAT?  Now that’s something we aren’t hearing in the news very often!  Mostly the lament is that states and counties and health facilities are not getting what they need.  Wow!  Leave it to Pacific County to get too much and then to give it away!  Makes our county look pretty good, eh?  But actually, I might rather have a shot in my arm than a feather in my cap.

I’m sure there are rules.  Layers and layers of them.  Bureaucracy to a fault.  God forbid someone gets vaccinated before their category comes up and it’s their turn.  I wonder how many B-1 folks in Pacific  County might contract the virus while they are waiting.  While 500 doses are going elsewhere.  The mind boggles.

Back In The Day

Meanwhile… no one has said how we B-1 folks will be told it’s our turn.  Or where to go.  I remember taking my year-old son to a school gymnasium in Redwood City where table after table was set up with sugar cubes in little cups.  The first go-round of the polio vaccine.   That was in 1957.  I don’t remember any anxiety about next steps then.  But we were all a lot younger, too.  We hadn’t even taken that first step for mankind, so perhaps the shoe was right where it needed to be in the first place.  Let’s hope that’s the case now, as well.

About Walking On Water

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

High Tide on Clay Street

The day woke up gray.  Again.  Right now at least, it’s not actively raining.  But, the meadow is still mostly water.  Lake Little is as large as I’ve ever seen it.  There is still standing water in the lane and in our yard.

I’ve not ventured out to the chickens yet.  It’s still early and, on these gray days, they tend to sleep in.  When they do decide to leave the coop and venture out into their run, they object to the puddles and try to find higher ground.  Yesterday there wasn’t any.  Even the lawn between our house and theirs was deceptive — grass growing through one big lake.

I wasn’t quite wading and not quite floating as I took them their breakfast.  It was a weird sensation — no solid footing to be found.  I walked quickly, somehow knowing that, if I paused with my full weight on one foot or the other, I’d sink down, down, down below the surface.  And who would know…

I’ll wait a bit this morning.  The girls aren’t really pleased to see me, anyway, in this kind of weather.  I think they expect me to fix it — to turn off the wet and to turn on the warm and bright.  They don’t understand that I can’t even walk on water.


Sheltering or Hunkering?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Oysterville by Willard Espy

In an ordinary year, a hundred inches of rain fall on grandpa’s village; we have mutated until we breathe with comfort air that is half water, or water that is half air.  I suspect that if the Peninsula were to sink beneath our feet, a mishap that in some downpours seems imminent, we could live submerged without serious inconvenience.  So wrote my venerable uncle Willard Espy in his introduction to Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village.

Those words were written nearly fifty years ago, and I’m not so sure we still get that much rainfall in a “normal” year.  But… this year is hardly normal in other respects and, for the last few days, the rain has come down steadily.  We have taken to hunkering rather than sheltering.  There’s probably a fine line there, but to me, hunkering implies hiding out and sheltering is more about staying safe.

A Good Place for Hunkering and Sheltering

Besides the sound of rain on the roof and water swooshing down the drainpipes, we hear only the wind.  Periodically it rattles the roller door on the west side of the house and causes the rain to splat sideways against the windows.  The world — at least the part we see from our place– has lost its color; everything is curtained in gray.

I believe that this is the what grieving looks like — my feelings in 3D.  Sheltering against the pandemic and hunkering out of harm’s way — “the most we can do, the least we can do, all we can do” to quote Father Tom Williams.  Oysterville during this extraordinary year seems just the right place to be.




Maybe we’ve got it bassackward.

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Sydney with Second Grade Student, Southgate School,1962

This morning I heard a reporter on NPR say (as she was introducing the next guest):  “…but what should teachers be saying to children?”  She was talking about the events of last Wednesday at the capitol — about blame and accountability and forgiveness and, mostly, about what comes next.  I may not have her question quite right.  The moment I heard her words, my hackles went up and interfered with my hearing.

Which teachers?  Which children?  I hope not the youngest of our learners — not the five-to eight-year-olds.  I do believe that they are the most reasonable people on the planet.  I believe that we should turn that reporter’s question around and ask, “What do our youngest learners have to tell us concerning next steps?”

Of all the people I’ve dealt with over the years, it has invariably been the little children who are the best problem solvers.  They know about rules and about people in charge and about feeling inadequate.  They know about bullies and liars and cheaters.  And they know about consequences.  Given time to get the facts and understand a playground problem, and given encouragement to find a solution, kids are amazing.

On almost every one of the 7,000 (plus or minus) days I spent teaching “little kids,” we had a class meeting.  It was a time that we shared neat stuff, gave our news-of-the-day, asked for help with a “situation” and, sometimes, ratted out someone who we just couldn’t find a way to deal with on our own.  Class meetings were a safe space and it was where the playing field was equal.  It was where we built trust and tried hard to make plans for a better recess next time, a better day tomorrow.

So, Ms. Reporter, let’s not worry about what to “tell” the kids.  Maybe a better plan would be to listen to their take on things.  Or maybe we should stop all the pontificating and finger-pointing and second-guessing.  Maybe we should  just have a class meeting among ourselves.


“Bogan! Bogan!” Out of the mouths of…

Friday, January 8th, 2021

Charlie and Friend, 1957

Right at this moment, I’m not quite sure which most accurately symbolizes the status of our democracy — the insurrectionist mob that stormed the capitol on Wednesday or the endless blah-blah-blah of our lawmakers in Congress or the disarray of the executive branch– as in how many confirmed cabinet members do we have right now anyway?

Two days ago I declared on this blog, “There are no words” and posted only pictures which, as we know, are worth a thousand of them.

Charlie, 1958

Yesterday, I reported my conversation with our chickens –reduced to cluck-clucking because there still were no adequate words in my own limited lexicon.

Today, all I can think of is baby talk.  My son Charlie’s first word was “fishy” and his second words were “bogan bogan.”  Fishy was prompted by a colorful fish mobile that hung above his crib.   Bogan meant “broken” and referred to anything that wasn’t working the way he wanted it to.

Yep.  Fishy!  Bogan!  Out of the mouths of babes etc. etc. etc.  Whoda thunk that those baby words uttered sixty-three years ago would be the only ones I could dredge up all these years later?  There are some adult words that rattle uselessly in my head. “Impeachment” and “25th amendment,”  for instance. Uselessly. Drowned out by Bogan! Bogan!

How I hope that I’m wrong.


Cluck! Cluck! Who’s there?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Big Red Looking for Nyel — 2018

They come to the east door every afternoon about 1:00 or 1:30.  Up on the porch, up on the threshold.  Clucking and tapping with their beaks against the window panes.  “Farmer Nyel, Farmer Nyel, let us come in,” they say.

They hop up the steps to the porch — only on the days it’s not raining and just at the time I’m returning to my office after lunch in the kitchen.  The time varies a bit.  How do they know?  Are they hanging out in the rhododendrons or in the crawl space under the house?  Can they hear me coming?

Farmer Nyel and His Girls

Our routine doesn’t vary.  I open the door and tell them I’ll call Farmer Nyel.  I have to leave them alone for a moment but they wait patiently.  So far, they’ve not stepped onto the cranberry carpet and into the house.  After I’m assured that Nyel is on his way, I visit with them for a bit, telling them that it just takes a little time nowadays.  “And,” I tell them, “he’s bringing treats!”

When he gets there they greet him anxiously and stretch their necks up to reach the treats in his hand.  Usually it’s Little Red Hen and Clara who come.  Slutvana, the independent one — not so much.  Sometimes LRH hops right up onto Nyel’s lap or onto the arm of his wheelchair for better access to those mealworms.    Or to the cracked corn.  Or whatever the treat may be.

Ten minutes max and then that east wind gets right in among us.  Nyel gives a final toss of treats out toward the lawn and the girls take the hint.  I’ve never heard him say, “That’s all! by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.”   Nor do they say, “See you tomorrow!”   We can but hope… You never can tell with chickens.

Nice Day For Ducks!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

The Freshley Boys, Oysterville Duck Hunters – a generation or two ago

We’ve had our share of rain the last few days.  Lake Little has taken over the meadow east of our house.  There are soggy spots on the lawn on the way out to the chicken coop.  Day before yesterday, I don’t think I ever could see the bay shore at the end of the lane  — not through the sheets of downpour.

My mother would have said, “Nice day for ducks!” with that cheerful note in her voice that meant “no big deal.”  Dad would have remained silent.  He was more the “It’ll burn off by eleven o’clock” kind of guy, but only if he thought it would.  He was often silent in the winter, but seldom wrong in the summer.

From the sound of things out there yesterday, it was a good day for duck hunters, too.  There was a lot of pop-pop-popping out in front of our place and toward the south.  The sound reverberates so much around our yard that it’s hard to tell just where it’s coming from.  But, as I’ve said before, it’s a nostalgic, reassuring sound to me — one of those ‘God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world” kind of sounds.  Or at least “…all’s right with Oysterville.”  (Which reminds me of what my Uncle Edwin is said to have remarked during a very loud thunderstorm, “God must be out hunting!”  He was three or four.)

My father, “a proper Bostonian” as my mother sometimes said, was not a hunter, but my mother’s brothers were — especially Edwin.  We still have his 12-gauge, double-barrel (side-by-side) shotgun    It was also Ed who dug clams commercially  during high school when times were hard.  I don’t know how much of the local bounty found it’s way to the table, however.  There are recipes in my grandmother’s “Receipt Book” for clam chowder, for baked oysters, for poached salmon, and for cooking live crab — but little else.  I have the feeling that they’d had enough of all those “treats” by the time the Great Depression was over.

Wiegardt Father and Son, South of Oysterville, 2018 — A Chinook Observer Photo

Too, my grandfather was a dairy farmer and there was always butchering to be done in the fall, so beef was plentiful.  He kept a few pigs, too, and of course, chickens.  Those provided the staple meats that I grew up with and are still the mainstays of our menus.  But I do miss the days when Nyel was one of the folks out pop-popping away on the bay and I’m so grateful that, occasionally, some of our hunter friends share their bounty with us.  Always a taste of Oysterville at its best!