Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

…until we don’t have it anymore…

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

It’s another one of those built-in situations.  Part of the human condition, apparently.  Whoever designed us glued the ‘appreciation’ part of the prototype onto the ‘retrospect’ component.  There was probably a reason for that but, try as I might to figure it out, it escapes me.

Why is it that we do not appreciate our youth and energy until we no longer have them?  Why don’t we realize the value of money until it’s inflated beyond usefulness?  And why didn’t I realize that getting the late-breaking news in the next day’s newspaper was so much better than these minute-by-minute tweets and snarks that arrive through the ozone.

In fact… it occurs to me that maybe the world is in its present state of constant turmoil for just that reason.  All this angst and drama and nastiness that is apparently a constant part of the cyberspace generation must be out there somewhere clotting up the ozone layer or the stratosphere.  Maybe it’s raining unseen from that “cloud” we hear about that is storing all our most precious information.

If I’d taken physics I might have a greater understanding.  I think there’s some principal that says energy can neither be created or destroyed.  I’m not sure how our thoughts play into that, but I think that once thoughts are formed and then released out in the universe, they have the power to influence us.  You know… like the power of positive thinking.  There are no doubt comparable energy forces like the power of paranoia.  Or the power of perfidy.

On the other hand… it’s raining.  Actually pouring.  A good day to clean out a cupboard or read a good book and just blame these gloomy thoughts on the weather.

Of Glass Harps and Mountain Dulcimers

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Michael Greiner and The Glass Harp

I (personally) know only one person who plays the glass harp – Michael Greiner.  And, until yesterday, I’ve only know one person who played the mountain dulcimer – Harlan Kinsey who I think has been playing in the great beyond for fifty years or more.  I don’t really “connect” the two instruments except that I love them both and you just don’t meet a lot of people who play either one.

But, yesterday up in Grayland on the search for cranberry information (a new book project… don’t ask) my new friend Connie Allen mentioned that she is “Career A-D-D” as in she’s had a lot of them.  I already know her as a bog owner and as a recently ‘retired’ tall ship captain, so I asked what other jobs she’s had.  It seems that she was a musician for a number of years – on the East Coast and later, in San Diego.

Connie On Board

“Appalachian Dulcimer” she said in answer to my question.  I love that instrument!  I connect it with the late fifties and early sixties and with Berkeley and with the folk revolution and with the first glimmers of the segue from Beat to Hippie.  I was only an onlooker.  Too old (was I 25?) and settled (married with a Kindergartener) to be part of it.  But I had friends in the thick of it all … especially artists and musicians.

Why I connected the dots is beyond me, but I said, “I know someone in San Diego – at least he used to live in that area – who plays the glass harp…”  Not that the dulcimer and glass harp have any particular relationship…

“Oh,” Connie said.  “Is it Mike?”  Talk about that old six-degree thing!  And it got better.  ” I went to a music gathering he hosted on the Peninsula a few years ago,” Connie said, “at…” and here she hesitated.  After all, how can you describe Camp Sherwood Forest?

Alan Greiner — c. 1948

For one thing Sherwood no longer exists – not officially.  But it’s a place forever in the hearts and souls of everyone who ever went there as a kid or a young adult.  I was a camper there in the ’40s and ’50s.  So was Alan Greiner who eventually bought Camp from Dorothy Elliott.  Alan is the father of Michael-of-the-glass-harp.  Marta and Charlie were campers there in the sixties – right along with Michael and his brother and sister.  Wow!  And how would I ever have thought to connect the glass harp and the mountain dulcimer…

It was the second time Connie and I had found a connection – on our first meeting a few weeks back, it was the Lady Washington which she skippered (for real) and on which Nyel reenacted the role of Captain Robert Gray back in the ’80s.  Wow!!  What will it be next time, Connie?  Actually… I hope it’s just the chance to get better acquainted based on the here and now.

But… you never know!

The Fragrance of Paris!

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

I love Paris!  I love its looks!  I love its feel!  I love its fragrance!  And I’m not talking Chanel Number Five here, even though that is the only scent I’ve worn since I was sixteen years old.

No, I’m talking about the waft of fresh bread as you walk by the boulangerie.  Or the pungent smell of cheese at the fromagerie or that tang of fresh produce at the greengrocers on Rue Cler.  And of course, that’s not all.  It’s the smell of old books at Abbey Bookshop or that whiff of the river as you stroll along the Quai d’Orsay.  And, somehow, every one of those delicious aromas rolled up into one!

All of that came to mind yesterday when Cate sent a message saying “I’m in Paris” and accompanied that with four photographs.  OMG!  I could actually smell those radishes!

San Francisco is another city that affects me differently than any other.  There, it’s the light.  Some say the light is special in Paris, too, and I think they are right.  But, for me, there’s something about the City by the Golden Gate that just surrounds me differently.

And Oysterville?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  It used to be the sounds.  Bob Kemmer working on the boat pulled up in his driveway.  Uncle John’s cows going into the Heckes barn of an evening.  The put-put of those old two-lungers out on the bay.  There’s a little twinge now and then – when the geese are flying or when a young girl clip clops her horse through town.

Thanks, Cate!  Those pictures were almost as good as rambling through le quartier with you.  Almost!

At the Northeast Corner of Territory & Clay

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

“across from the church and facing the bay” . 1930

It’s not often that I think of our house as being on a corner.  The property just doesn’t feel very corner-ish to me.  I think of it more as being ‘across from the church’ or ‘facing the bay.’

Come to think of it, I don’t often think of “corners” when it comes to Oysterville houses along the east side of Territory Road.  Not until the Stoner house by the stop sign at Oysterville Road.  Now that is a corner.  But for those of us with houses bordered by a lane on one side or another… not so much.

And, for those not familiar with Oysterville terminology, the ‘lanes’ are those grassy pathways that lead from Territory Road to the bay.  From south to north they are Clay, Merchant, and Division and yes, they are officially county roads though in my lifetime, anyway, they have never been maintained by the county.  Those of us who live adjacent to them keep them mowed.

Above Our Gate

Nor do I think of the houses here as having names.  Not like the quaint old house names of Seaview and Ocean Park such as “Sand Castle,” “Yeo-Ho,” “Yellow Bird,” “Quit-Yo-Worry,” “Beech-Eze,” or “Father’s Shan-Gri-La.”   For the first 120 years or so, houses here in Oysterville were known by the names of those who lived in them.  In 1976, when Oysterville was designated a National Historic District, the Daughters of the Pioneers sponsored house signs for the historic homes – signs with the names of the original property owners – and gradually those names took hold.

I guess that our house might be considered to have a name.  A sign saying Tsako-Te-Hahsh-Eetl hangs above our entrance gate and has been there ever since I can remember.  However, I’ve never heard anyone refer to the house by that name – not family members and not neighbors or visitors.  Perhaps there is too much angst about how to pronounce it.  I’ve always just thought of the sign as being a decorative curiosity – not the name of our house.

Tresspassers Will

Nowadays, as the generations move on, it has become more confusing here in the village.  Houses have changed owners.  The Daughters of the Pioneers signs are disappearing.  We aren’t always sure who owns what or who lives where.   In fact, I’m put in mind of a wonderful passage from Winnie the Pooh:

Christopher Robin said you couldn’t be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one–Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.

Whenever names and identities and signs and portents become confusing, I think of Piglet and of A.A. Milne and the House at Pooh Corner.  It may well be imaginary, but it certainly has more clarity for me than some of the corners here in Oysterville!

Nyel’s Stone Soup!

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

As is usual when I get my tail in a knot, it was Nyel to the rescue today.   Also, as is usual, ‘rescue’ took the form of taking charge of the kitchen – not just of the cooking and cleaning up, but of the planning and shopping, as well.

Actually, for the shopping part, he didn’t even have to venture out of the house.  He shopped the refrigerator and I know for a fact it was pretty slim pickin’s.  Nevertheless, I was nose-to-grindstone on the first deadline for a new book commitment and I simply didn’t give food a thought.  I surfaced for some cheese and crackers and a few celery sticks at noon and smelled (rather than saw) dinner already in the making.

Yum!

“Is it vegetable soup?” I asked.

“More like stone soup,” was the answer.

“Really?  Did you really use a stone?”  I was teasing… or so I thought.

“Yep.”

“No.  Really.  What did you start with?”

“Really.  It was a stone.  Well, maybe more of a rock.  I found it in the crisper.”

Uh Oh.  “What are you talking about?”

“Truly.  It was a rock.  A big chunk of petrified Parmesan cheese.  I started with that and then kept adding whatever vegetables I could find – carrots, potatoes, corn niblets, tomatoes… You know.  All the usual ingredients…”

It was delicious!

Dithering and Frittering

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Today is March 5th.  It’s the day the DACA program ‘should’ have ended.  But, in a stunning rebound of stupidity, the White House tried to interfere with the Justice System – probably thinking that the Supreme Court was now in their pocket.  Wrong again!  Our highest court wasn’t buying and Dreamers are ‘safe’ – probably for another six months or so.

If you don’t remember how all this came down, here is a quick recap:

  • • Last September when Mr. Trump ended DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he created a six-month delay to give Congress time to come up with a legislative version of the policy, which protected young undocumented immigrants who had come to the US as children.
  • • Multiple federal judges felt Trump was on shaky ground and ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume renewing all existing DACA permit.
  • • Our nation’s highest court declined the administration’s request to bypass the appellate courts and to consider immediately whether to overrule those decisions.
  • • Meanwhile, Congress has had “the gift of time.” Six months to come up with a solution for the Dreamers.

And… how ironic that we call them “Dreamers.”  They are living a nightmare!  An unbelievable horror from which there seems no escape!

It’s March 5th, for heaven’s sake!  Six months have gone by and Congress has come up with nothing.  The Dreamers have waited and watched while our “leaders” have dithered and frittered on a budget, on gun control, on immigration on… everything.  They should all step down – every last one of them.  I, for one, don’t want to hear one more excuse.

Living Lucky in Cranberry Country!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Inside The Furford Cranberry Museum

A week ago, if you’d have asked me what I knew about the Furford Cranberry Museum in Grayland I’d have thought one of us had slipped a cog.  But, as of yesterday – been there, loved it, will probably return!  I was there on a fact-finding and photo-taking mission with some of the movers and shakers of the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation (Long Beach Branch).  While we were there, I met a whole host of fabulously interesting people – among them a woman name Connie Allen!

She slipped up to the makeshift desk area where I was setting up my computer and scanner and seamlessly began to save my bacon (or probably cranberries in this case) with regard to all the techie things that worked differently from usual.  (How does electronic equipment ‘know’ when you are totally out of your element, anyway?)  “I have exactly the same scanner at home,” she smiled, and we were off and running.  She stuck by me for the next few hours, standing and scanning in the coldest corner of the old building.  I felt inordinately lucky!

Nyel as Captain Robert Gray, 1989

Betwixt and between, I learned that she is a Captain of tall ships, that she and her husband work on the Lady Washington, and that she has videos of the 1989 re-enactment in which Nyel played Captain Robert Gray as he guided the ship into the Columbia back in 1792.  Really?  A video?  Another of those small world things for sure!

At lunch (there were 11 of us) I lucked out and was seated right across from Captain Connie.  We talked of all manner of things, including the repairs in progress that we had noticed that morning as we drove from Raymond to Grayland along the watery edge of Highway 105.  Come to find out, Connie is deep into fundraising to help rebuild the barrier dune in the area we all know as Washaway Beach.  She handed me a spiffy, fold-out card with the logo “Wash Away No More” and suggested three ways that anyone can donate to assist with this monumental effort:

  • Illustration: Washaway Beach Project

    North Willapa Grange
    P.O. Box 137
    Tokeland, WA 98590

  • com/us/fundraiser/charity/2561564
  • gofundme/washawaynomore

“Your contribution of $5.80 provides one cubic yard of rock” said the card.  I think she said (but I might have misunderstood!) that they have raised $20,000 so far – undoubtedly a drop in the proverbial bucket – but her positive attitude and involvement with every agency and charitable donation outfit you can imagine was way more than inspiring!

After all the years of reading about Washaway Beach and feeling heartsick for the people who are watching their property and homes being relentlessly threatened and then taken by the sea, I was suitably impressed by Connie’s quiet confidence.  She is on a path forward – one cubic yard at a time!

WashAway No More

The Day I Entered My 83rd Year!

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Birthday Girl – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Yesterday was my 82nd birthday!  That’s hard enough for me to believe but when I consider that the day marked the first of year 83 on this watery old planet, I find it quite mind-boggling.  Happily, I don’t think about those numbers very much; there are so many more interesting things to occupy my mind.

Like, trying to remember what chapters 13 and 14 in James G. Swan’s The Northwest Coast or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory were all about.  Not that I hadn’t just read them – like two days previously – but the details were a little foggy.  I was trying my best to recall them as I entered the Heritage Museum for the Community Historian class.  It’s my job to lead the ‘homework’ discussion first thing every Wednesday morning and I take my responsibilities seriously…

Birthday Cards!

So, imagine my surprise when Betsy Millard came into the room a few minutes before the starting time carrying a darling little cake with candles lit and the class began to sing “Happy Birthday!”  To me!  Needless to say, thoughts of Swan and his 1854 adventures went right out of my head!  And… there were a gazillion teeny tiny cupcakes that we could share, allowing me to bring that cake home to Nyel-of-the-Sweet-Tooth.  It was a grand start to a fun day.

The mail was full of birthday cards and, at last look, I had 152 greeting on FaceBook.  Wow!  Later in the afternoon, a ‘spring bouquet’ arrived from Charlie and an email from Marta saying a present was on its way.  I felt well and truly loved for sure!  It was really hard for me to remember that I had a couple of deadlines looming and writing projects to concentrate on.  But I got enough accomplished that I didn’t even hesitate when Nyel asked me if I’d like to go out to dinner!

Birthday Bouquet from Charlie

We headed for the Pickled Fish where I paid absolutely no attention to “healthy.”  Well, the Bloody Mary did come topped with what appeared to be a complete salad, and the Dirty, Dirty Fries had generous dollops of cheese on them (protein, right?) and the tomato soup was probably healthy, though it boggles my mind that something so delicious could also be at all nutritious.

Then… home for birthday cake and an episode of Jeopardy.  For once, we didn’t watch the news and that might have been the best birthday gift of all!

One man’s treasure…

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

The Tree Next Door

Not that our once-upon-a-time neighbors, the Hampsons, were our BFFs.  They weren’t.  But, even so, as I listened to the chain saws and chippers all day yesterday, I was sort of glad they were no longer among us.  John took such pride in those trees – researched to find exactly which ones he wanted and paid close attention to how each one would complement or contrast or visually reinforce.  He spent a lot of time and effort on his garden.

I don’t know if the plan is to take them all down.  I see yellow tape marking most of them, so I suppose they’ll be history by the end of the week.  I hope the big cypress just on the other side of the fence between our properties is not one of the doomed ones.  I like looking at it and I like that it shields the view the houses have of one another.  Just a tad.

Work in Progress

On the other hand, we are glad that something is happening next door.  We have yet to see the new owners – not here, that is.  Dr. Bert Green did visit us (twice!) in November during the two weeks that Nyel was at the UW Medical Center.  We enjoyed talking with him, though we spoke very little of Oysterville.

The Neighborhoods of Oysterville

 

I had heard that they were planning to build an additional wing on the house and I did ask about that.  “More a bump-out than a wing, I think,” he said.  “But that’s really my wife’s department…”  He didn’t mention whose department the garden is. So, the plans remain a mystery – something to look forward to here in the ‘hood as Spring unfolds.

Speaking of neighborhoods… it may come as a bit of a revelation that Oysterville actually has them.  At least according to the Design Guidelines which can be found on Pacific County’s website.  Within the Oysterville Historic District there are five (count ’em – five!) neighborhoods listed!  We are in what is called “The Core” neighborhood.  The others are the “Northwoods,” the “Shoreline,” the “Southwoods,” and the “Douglas Drive” neighborhoods.  Seems crazy in a village the size of ours, but there you have it!

No matter which neighborhood any of us lives in, we are all interested in the changes that have taken place over the years and are curious about what is to come.  That’s just the way it is in a village the size of Oysterville.  I really can’t imagine living in a place where nobody notices or even cares.  Can you?

When the blind lead the blind…

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Helen & Harry Espy, 1947

My grandmother was blind – beyond “legally blind,” but she was able to distinguish light from dark – mostly.  One of my early memories is of sitting on the floor with her next to the oil stove one dark, early morning, as she lit match after match letting it drop into the opening and onto the liquid pooling at the bottom.  “Tell me when it lights,” she would say.  And I remember watching as each flame went out, hoping for the next one to “catch” so we could get started with the day.

She never had household help.  She managed to make the meals for herself and my grandfather, cooking on the old woodstove and “washing up” at the sink by feel, rather than sight.  Every week or so, she would receive a “talking book” in the mail – a brown box of 78 rpm records from the Library of Congress. Each afternoon, while Papa snoozed, she would “read.”  She was the best-informed, literate member of our family.

Package of “Talking Books”

I thought about that wonderful Books-for-the-Blind program yesterday when I read about another government perk (if you can possibly call it that) for those cannot see.  This time it is state governments who are, with some sort of convoluted thinking, issuing handgun licenses to the blind.  It was Iowa that was in the news, although it turns out that blind people in several states can own handguns legally.

According to USA Today:  Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.  The article went on:    Polk County officials say they’ve issued weapons permits to at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.

Most amazing to me:  this is not new news!  That particular article was written in 2013.  Apparently, proponents of Disability Rights backed the bill – right up there with the usual gun lobby folks.   …Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities.

From “Family Guy”

But that wasn’t the headline news yesterday.  This was:  Never too young: Iowa house passes bill to let children of all ages handle guns.  Well… I guess that will end any controversy about teachers packin’ in the schools of Iowa!  Now the kids can do it.  Even the blind kids.

Sometimes there is simply no more to say…