Archive for the ‘Being Mindful’ Category

Country Roads? Or County Dumpsites?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Somewhere Else

Driving the length of Sandridge Road has finally become an exercise in the Use of Extreme Caution and its companion The Feeling of Foreboding.  God forbid that you need to pull over to get out of the way of a speeding vehicle heading straight for you as it passes four other over-the-speed-limit nitwits.

The wayside is cluttered with all manner of artifacts — from “take me” refrigerators and soggy “free” oversized sofas to the county’s own tsunami signs and mile markers — to say nothing of telephone poles and broken down ditch barriers and reflectors on tall white sticks.  It reminds me of the streets of San Francisco years ago when the garbage men were on strike.

Good Idea! Take note Pacific County

At least there was a little humor to that situation.  It was around Christmastime (in the late sixties, maybe) and people were desperate to get rid of their garbage.  It became popular to wrap up your kitchen refuse in fancy Christmas paper and leave it on the front seat of your parked, unlocked car.  Many-a-thief scored boxes filled with potato peelings and egg shells and moldering meat scraps to say nothing of empty tin cans and glass bottles.

But, let me be clear:   along our County byways, the mess has nothing to do with our hard-working Sanitation crews.  Those of us who have garbage pick-up service can count on those workers to empty our dumpsters on schedule, rain or shine.  And, I might add, most of the garbage dumpsters appear and disappear quickly — they don’t sit on the roadside adding to the clutter.

And never mind the rusting cars and boats and collapsed abandoned buildings that clutter up our fields and woods and “vacant” lots.  Sometimes it seems that we live in the middle of a gigantic dumpsite.  I do believe there are ordinances that deal with such matters.  Why are they not enforced?  I’m sure the answer would be something to do with money.

Beautiful! And Litter Free!

So perhaps the County needs to refocus its priorities.  Like maybe  we need to consider taking care of what we have before courting more building, more population, more need for county workers to help “expand” our economy.  It’s election season, folks, and we’ll be choosing a brand new County Commissioner.  Let’s find one whose first priority is keeping our County clean and green and fit to live in.  What a treat that would be!

Would Cinderella and Elli-Q bond?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Back in the days that I was working at a “regular-take-your-lunch-and-get-home-in-time-to-fix-dinner-job” some people called Wednesday the “Hump Day.”  Like if we got past that, it was all downhill toward the weekend.  It always seemed to me that they were wishing their lives away.

Not that I loved every day of every job I ever had.  But… mostly.  And ever since I’ve lived within hollerin’ distance of a weekly paper, publication date has been the day of the week to look forward to.  For many years now it’s been Wednesday, Chinook Observer Day.

Cinderella Vacuuming The Living Room…Again!

Some Wednesdays, like today, I look forward to seeing something I, myself, have written.  Other times (also, like today) I  learn new things that are happening in the community — things I had no idea about, especially now that I’m more homebound than during my working years.

Like bot companions for the elderly, infirm, and homebound.  Great idea!  Even though I already have Cinderella-the-roomba for vacuuming and “some” companionship, she doesn’t do all the wonderful things that Elli-Q promises her human partners.  Like initiating AND keeping track of conversations,  noting health conditions and contacting care specialists and loved ones in emergencies.  Elli-Q will also make small talk!  Wow!

Elli-Q — Ready for those who qualify in Pacific County

Of course you have to qualify to receive Elli-Q.  You only have to be 60, so I have the age thing nailed.  But I don’t know about suffering from loneliness or needing consistent health care monitoring.   And that average of “20 interactions with Elli-Q a day” might hamper my writing a bit.  Which could effectively eliminate one of my reasons for reading the weekly paper.   Hmmm.   I believe I’ll take yet another page from Scarlett’s story and think about that tomorrow.

What is the opposite of patience?

Sunday, March 12th, 2023

This morning I woke up in leisurely fashion to find that it was a half hour later than my usual five ayem internal alarm says “up-and-at-’em!”  I guess I’m only halfway ready for Daylight Savings Time — a concept that, try as I might, I can’t wrap my mind around.

You’d think that I’d be at one with skipping ahead an hour.  As Nyel (who was my polar opposite in that regard) often said, “Patience is not your middle name, Sydney.”  He was oh so right about that.  And so, wouldn’t you think that skipping ahead a whole hour would be perfect for me and all the others of my ilk?  All the others who are the opposite of patient?

(As an aside — I looked up words that mean the opposite of patient.  The first choice, of course, was “impatient” which annoyed me no end.  It’s like saying the opposite of resolute is irresolute or the opposite of beautiful is unbeautiful.  DUH!)

It seems to me that we non-patient types should be pleased that we are an hour closer to whatever or wherever it is that we want to accomplish.  But… no, that’s not the case for me.  I want all the time I can get, thank you very much.  My impatience is with myself — that I never seem to reach my goals soon enough and, my experience is that more time (or less) doesn’t make all that much difference.

So then, perhaps, I’m back to Albert Einstein and his belief that time and space are interconnected.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m deep into Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and am, again, intrigued by the possibility of time travel.

Not that I think setting our clocks ahead or back is a kind of time travel.  Or is it?  However you slice it, I definitely have an hour less between now and mid-day to get ready to wish Barbara Bate a Happy 80th.  So… I’d better get on it!

So whadjathink?

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Did you see this drawing by the late Larry Weathers on Page B-1 of the Observer this week?

Or maybe you don’t get our weekly paper, the Chinook Observer.  If not, you might as well stop reading here, because this is going to be all about yesterday’s issue.  And me.

One of my grandmother’s is rolling over in her grave at that first paragraph.  My beloved Oysterville Granny who believed most firmly that we should keep our light under that proverbial bushel.  My Bostonian Nana, however, thought that if you didn’t toot your own horn, no one else was going to do it for you.  So for this blog, I’m going with Nana.

In case you don’t get our paper (for shame!) or in case you didn’t really have time to read it (REALLY???) I will tell you that my new series began yesterday with a story about F.C. Davis.  Don’t know who he is… or was?  You are missing out on one of the true characters of our local heritage.

That’s what the series is about.  It’s a collection of short stories cobbled together from bits and pieces found hither and yon — that I hope will become my next book.  Tentative title:  “Saints or Sinners?  Characters of Pacific County.”

Oysterville Cemetery Sketches by Marie Oesting — one of many sources for stories about our local history

And, as I hope you come to understand over the weeks ahead, there’s a reason for these stories.  I have long believed that it’s the memories that we gather and that we tell and re-tell that are important in the great scheme of things.  It’s through our memories and the stories — not just the names and dates and battles fought and won — that we pass on our history, generation after generation.

When I was a child, before cell phones and television and even before decent radio reception, conversation was our main form of evening entertainment.  We might be telling the “news” we learned in the neighborhood or the fate of the two chickens who “flew the  coop.”  Or, the old folks might be reminiscing about their own childhoods — those days long ago when there were no roads here on the Peninsula and almost everyone had some kind of a boat.  What was talked about around our old fireplace was my first inkling of “history” — so much more engaging than the history classes of my school years.

Years later, when Nyel and I owned the bookstore in the ’90s, there seemed to be a big push on for grandparents to write down their memories for posterity.  I can’t say we got rich selling those “Memory Books” but I did like the idea.

Papa and Aunt Dora c. 1896 — Storytellers Extraordinaire!

My fondest hope is that readers will enjoy the Saints or Sinners stories that will appear in the Observer and will even be inspired to tell a few of their own.  Better yet, write them down!  A hundred years hence those stories will be the historic record — the words that will convey who we ordinary, everyday folks are.  God forbid that the glaring headlines in the metro news about mass shootings and spy balloons and war ad nauseum will become our only history of record.  Not my history and not yours.

Who’s been sleeping in my bed???

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

Rhododendron bed, that is!

Yesterday was the first day back for the “Garden Girls” after a winter break in their usually nonstop work schedule.  The two women have been looking after the flower beds (and more!) here at this house since 2019 when Nyel wisely suggested that perhaps I could use some “help” outside.  By now, they do it all — nothing added to the mix from me except questions and clapping!

So, yesterday on their first day back since last October, the three of us took a “walk about” to see what the immediate and long-term needs might be.   They were quick to spot the crocuses and daffodils (where’d they come from?) and other early signs of Spring.  And then, when we got to the rhododendrons along the east fence:  “Oh, my gosh!  It looks like some big animal has been ‘nesting’ here!”

A cougar they thought.  YIKES!  And sure enough, broken rhodie branches and torn up Dorothy Perkins roses and wild blackberries were smooshed down between the fence and the Jean Maries — almost unnoticeable and certainly hidden from my usual vantage point at the house.  But whoever was settling in, no doubt had a clear view of me.  YIKES.

“Why a cougar?” I asked.  I hadn’t heard of one in the area for years — not since Dan Driscoll reported one to the Wildlife people out of worry for his daughter who was then quite young.

It seems that a garden client’s cat had “disappeared” recently and the women had found its scanty remains, typical of a cougar kill — in Nahcotta!  Only four miles away.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:  Adult male cougars roam widely, covering a home range of 50 to 150 square miles, depending on the age of the cougar, the time of year, type of terrain, and availability of prey. Adult male cougars’ home ranges will often overlap those of three or four females.   And… though mostly nocturnal, not necessarily…

So…  I’m not going back out there to take a picture of the “nest.”  And maybe some of the non-leash-law-abiding among us should think twice for a while.

Help me to understand.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

NYT Newsroom

Chicago’s mayor race has joined the growing list of evidence that Americans are unhappy about crime.

That was the headline in this morning’s online New York Times “Morning.”  I had to have a second cup of coffee while I thought it over.  Then, I read the entire article.  An article from the most prestigious (some say) newspaper in our country.

Not the coffee, not the thinking, not the careful, in-depth reading helped.  I just could not get beyond “the growing list of evidence that Americans are unhappy about crime.”

Growing list of evidence?  Really?? Now we need a list of evidence to show that we are unhappy about crime???  Is there any other reader out there wo sees anything wrong with that sentence?  Anything at all?

Once again I am reminded of why I quit watching, listening to, reading, and otherwise coming into contact with “the news.”  This isn’t news, folks.  It isn’t even a series of words put into any kind of logical context.    The closest I can come to a description is “gobbledygook.”

If you can straighten me out, please try.  From my point of view, our nation has come to a sorry pass when the (supposedly) most prestigious newspaper in the country makes such a claim.  A growing list of evidence??  Americans are unhappy about crime??  Unhappy????  Like being unhappy that my hamburger was overdone?

As my friend Tom Akerlund used to say, “Help me to understand!”


For the first time ever — a self-assessment!

Monday, February 27th, 2023

I decided that with only 30 hours or so left before I officially enter my 88th year and can say that I am age 87, perhaps I should do a little self-assessment.  You know — how are things looking, feeling, behaving.  And no, I’m not documenting with visuals.  Just a few general impressions that (if I remember) I can compare with a year from now.

So… first my mental situation.  Gradually declining, I’m sure, but better than it was before Nyel died.  Without him to depend upon for remembering (or finding) the items I tend to discard along my way, I’ve had to find other ways to cope.  One is trying to adhere more strictly to routines and that includes where I put the things I use all the time — vitamins, keys, hairbrush…  If it goes back to the same place EVERY time I use it, I have a shot at finding it next time.  So a + or two for mental acuity.

Physical Assessment — overall, scarey.  I have lost ten pounds since Nyel left me — mostly because the learning curve is steep when planning, shopping, preparing meals for one — especially for someone who loves good food but hates to cook.  And I was spoiled every meal for forty years.  On the other hand I’ve lost two inches in height in the last few years  No longer am I “five feet two, eyes of blue.”  Now it’s “…speakin’ of my sweetie pie, only 60 inches high…”

I think most of the weight loss has been from a serious reduction in muscle mass in my thighs and upper arms.  (Pushing Nyel’s 150-170 pounds in the wheelchair day after day was a great exercise program!)  And of course, as the muscle has disappeared the crepey skin has come to taunt me.

Otherwise — except for dim eyesight, fuzzy hearing, and a few agéd looking teeth, I think I’m doing okay.  My balance is still pretty good — don’t need a cane yet.  Emotionally, I’m no more (or less) mature than I ever was; I still think it’s pretty boring to be “well-balanced” in that department.

Will I leap right into an exercise regime and begin working on some of these situations?  Not on your tintype!  With apologies to my more physically inclined friends, I didn’t like PE in school, I’ve never seen the point in walking, jogging, wearing myself to a frazzle.  But, as the weather warms up and I feel comfortable outside, I’ll get busy in the garden and that may help…

And (if I remember) we’ll compare this year’s assessment with next year’s.  YIKES!

The Balancing Act

Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Downtown Long Beach

Last evening during our Friday Night Gathering, Jean Nitzel mentioned that she had tried (years ago) to interest the City Fathers of Long Beach in converting the main street to a Pedestrians Only Zone — just from Bolstad Avenue to Sid Snyder Drive and just in the summer.  It didn’t get anywhere back then — a gazillion excuses were given beginning with “that stretch is part of the State Highway System…”  But they didn’t even try, Jean said.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

And, I must say, there wasn’t much discussion about it last night, either.  I’m not sure why.  I thought it was a great idea, myself, and was reminded of the many streets in Europe that are “pedestrians only” — Rue Montorgueil in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Carnaby Street in London, Strøget in Copenhagen — and many others throughout the world — even in Seattle.  I was saddened that the city of Long Beach wouldn’t even give the idea the time of day.

There are also streets called woonerfs — a street or square where cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other local residents travel together without traditional safety infrastructure to guide them.  Also, sometimes called a “shared street,” a woonerf is generally free of traffic lights, stop signs, curbs, painted lines, and the “usual” guides to travel behavior.  The idea behind them is to reduce accidents and, amazingly, the statistics prove that this has happened.

While I can’t quite image the main drag in Long Beach becoming a woonerf, I must say that on many days in the summer, Territory Road in Oysterville comes close.  And my observation is that everyone is more observant and courteous and many of our visitors really take time to enjoy the village — a pleasant change from the usual speed-through at 40 mph!


So, here we are in the year of the rabbit…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023


In the years that I lived in the Bay Area — from 1941 when I was five until 1978 when I moved to Oysterville — Chinese New Year was always an important occasion.  In the early years, we would sometimes go into San Francisco’s Chinatown for the big New Year’s parade but later — when we had television — we could watch the highlights without the hassle of the crowds.  Still… it was a Big Deal.

Now… not so much, though if I remember (which is seldom), I call my friends, the Quans’ in Fresno and wish them Good Luck in the New Year.  This year, of course, the Monterey Park mass shooting on the eve of the Lunar New Year erased our thoughts of celebration entirely.  What a world we live in, these days!  Scary doesn’t half describe it.  (And if you haven’t yet read Cate Gable’s column, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”  in yesterday’s Chinook Observer, I suggest that you do so.  You can find it online by Googling:  Am I My Brother’s Keeper Chinook Observer.)

So, I’ve just gotten ’round to finding out a little more about this Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rabbit.  In the Chinese tradition, the Rabbit is the fourth of all zodiac animals. According to the online site,
Legend has it the Rabbit was proud—arrogant even — of its speed. He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was. One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. Rabbit set off at daybreak. But when he got there, no other animals were in sight. Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived. One of them was the Ox he had always looked down upon.
The story is so reminiscent of Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare that I can’t help but wonder how they might be connected.

In any case, in Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon. Some say it is because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.  To outsiders, the Rabbit’s kindness may make them seem soft and weak. In truth, the Rabbit’s quiet personality hides their confidence and strength. They are steadily moving towards their goal, no matter what negativity the others give them.  With their good reasoning skills and attention to detail, they make great scholars. They are socializers with an attractive aura. However, they find it hard to open up to others and often turn to escapism.  A plain and routine life is not their style. Though conservative and careful in their actions, they need surprises every so often to spice things up.

In general (depending upon date ranges) those born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011 were born in the Year of the Rabbit.

Oh, no! It’s the dreaded income tax time!

Thursday, January 26th, 2023

Tax Time Begins On The Dining Room Table

It’s not that I’m a stranger to the federal income tax forms with their small print and gobbledygook phrases.  I’ve done my share of filling them out, going to a tax specialist for the parts that were beyond me and, for the most part, saving what I might have need for as the year goes by and the paperwork accumulates.

But, I have to say that for thirty-five years, Nyel figured out the deductions for my office space and writing needs and, on occasion, called the IRS for a clarification on this or that.  Not that we didn’t still send a huge packet of information to our accountant — but Nyel had it in great shape for her.  And now it’s my turn.  Lordy!  Lordy!

I ask myself, “Self, is this little office worth the hassel of itemizing?”

Though I know that I may not have all the documentation I need until January is over, I’ve begun to gather and sort.  I’ve commandeered the dining room table and each time I’m at that end of the house, I pause for a few moments and try to make a little more progress.

Always I am reminded of that great episode of “The Odd Couple” when Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman) is called into the IRS office for an audit.  He is requested to bring all of his receipts for meals etc. claimed while he was covering sports events for his column in the newspaper.  The box is filled to overflowing with all manner of scraps of paper and other oddments — including an annotated football! — on which he has kept track of his expenses.

Oscar Madison at Tax Time

My record-keeping isn’t nearly so colorful but probably just as hit and miss.  I console myself with the thought, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.  I used to reassure Nyel that way, too, but he (the ex-banker) just looked at me with an absolute lack of expression on his handsome face,  Reassuring?  NOT!