Archive for the ‘Being Mindful’ Category

A day late and… you know the rest.

Friday, April 30th, 2021

Clearing Out The Back-Forty — A Scary Proposition

As I wrote a few days back, Nyel and I are doing what we should have done during the Sheltering Time of 2020 — clearing out, cleaning up, relegating, and passing on.  It’s one of those love/hate jobs.

I love the re-discovery parts — coming across all those once-upon-a-time treasures that we couldn’t part with back in the… well, in the once-upon-a-time days.  But now that time has passed and our lives have actually taken on some semblance of “patterning,” we are almost having a good time of it.  I’m not sure “patterning” is the right term.  It’s whatever you call having lived long enough that your memories and the physical things connected to them fall into clear(ish) categories.  Mostly.

And it has something to do with having put chunks of things behind us.  Like the years before we lived here or before we met.  Or some of our vacations that we know won’t be repeated.  Or the events we participated in or, perhaps organized, that are over  and done with.  By now, all of the “stuff” associated with those things are easily parted with — but so fun to look at one more time and do some reminiscing.

Granny’s Cake Plate, 1897

We’ve also made it easier on ourselves by finding “homes” ahead of time for many of the things we’ll be sorting through.  Any Espy family related stuff — especially documents and photographs will go up to the Washington State Historical Research Center to join the Espy Family Archive.  Or to appropriate family members.  Our personal treasures, especially if community related, will go to appropriate local organizations or to relatives if items are family connected.  And then there’s the Good Will and Friends of the Library and local thrift shops.

The “hate” part of this chore, of course, is facing up to the fact that most of the “stuff” that has brought us so much pleasure during our lifetimes will have little or no meaning to anyone in the years ahead.  It’s just the way it is.  Especially when you leave no grands or greats.  No one to say, as I so often do about things in this house, “This cake plate was the first purchase my grandmother ever made with her own money, after she was married in 1897.  It cost her ten cents as I recall.  Or maybe it was twenty-five.  (Perhaps in all our purging I’ll find that list of her wedding gifts and the one of her first household purchases somewhere.)  History seems so much more “real” when it’s entwined with family and memories.  Doncha think so?

And now… let the sheltering recede!

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

October 2020

A year and four days ago — on March 13, 2020 — we went into “Sheltering Mode.”   Since then, we’ve had no social events, neither small nor large, here in our house.  We did, of course, have a few limited gatherings in the garden during the warm months,  masked and socially distanced.  And, like everybody else, we’re pretty sick of the isolation .

November 2020

So our hearts are doing a happy dance now that the new CDC guidelines are out.  We were especially pleased to learn about these points:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart. 
  • A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

We do, of course, lament our very much younger friends and family members who do not yet qualify for the vaccine but (strangely) more folks we know do qualify now than don’t.  And Charlie and Marta just wrote:

  • Fully vaccinated people don’t need masks around low-risk unvaccinated people.

Nyel and Sydney, 2018 and from now forward, we hope

That’s a little loosey-goosey for me — or would be if I were a l not yet fully vaccinated, myself.  I’m just not clear as to who those low riskers are and, unfortunately, I’m not too trusting of people not to cheat. It’s  not that I’m paranoid, exactly, but it took only one person to tell me to my socially distanced and masked face that this was all a “hoax” to ramp up my skeptical side.  Just sayin…

Be that as it may. I am excited to start welcoming old friends back into our home.  It’s been a very long time…



Is our sheltering condition morphing?

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Fireside Evenings — Perfect!

As we approach the first anniversary of “sheltering in place” (which for us is right here at home)… and now that we’ve had our two covid vaccinations… we are looking forward to getting out and about more.  Or at least that’s what we tell one another.

But the truth of the matter is that we haven’t suffered all that much by staying at home.  In fact, neither of us is much of a go-go sort.  I do enjoy certain sorts of gatherings — openings at the Heritage Museum or local galleries, Community Historian classes and outings and, of course, parties.  Otherwise — for shopping of any kind, I’d rather let my fingers do the walking and, once again, thank goodness for the internet.

Nyel, on the other hand loves to shop — but only in the old-fashioned sense of looking, looking, looking.  “For what?” I ask him.  “Nothing,” is the usual response.  Thank goodness.  Because the only places he “shops” are thrift stores, junk shops and, occasionally, salvage yards.  I try to bite my tongue.  What we don’t need is more junk.  Now I lament that those forays of his are pretty much past… now that he’s been confined to a wheelchair.  As in be careful what you wish for.

Best Place Ever For Relaxing and Visiting and Watching the Tides Change

What we’ve both missed most during this sheltering time is seeing our friends.  We’ve always done a lot of hosting right here at home.  It’s a house that is happiest when it is full of people or so it has always seemed to me.  My mother and her six siblings were raised here and continued coming back as adults and bringing their own families.  During my childhood, I associated “Granny and Papa’s House” with talk and laughter and people everywhere.  When it was our turn to move in, Nyel and I continued the full-house tradition — the best way we could.  By hosting parties and gatherings and house concerts.

So the sheltering hasn’t been all that difficult from a leaving-home-standpoint.  I wonder,  though, when it is finally unnecessary…  will we feel the need to leave home at all?  And if not, will we call our condition “agoraphobia? ”  I hope not.    “Homebodies” sounds better…

Catching Up With Reality

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

July 26, 2017

Last evening a friend called — a friend who lives not all that far away, but whom I’ve not seen or visited with since The Sheltering began.  It was good to talk with her.  But hard.  Lots of changes in her life that I wish I’d koown about, though there was nothing I could have done.

Among other things, we spoke about a couple of families who were deported by ICE a few years back — families I wrote about in my “Stories from the Heart” series for the Observer.  My friend has kept up with those families through occasional phone calls and she brought me up to date.  Especially she told me about “Maria” (as I called her in my story) and her three young children.

When I met them in the summer of 2017, Maria was working out on Willapa Bay, trying to save enough money to move with her three children.  Erin Glenn and I went calling — to see how we could help:
“…Dos años he said in answer to Erin’s ¿Cuántos años tienes?  Two years.  And he solemnly held up five fingers to prove his point.  Oscar is the middle child.  Curly-haired Alexa is ten months, and Joel, who was off playing with a friend, is ten and on summer vacation from Ocean Park School.  Their father, Miguel, has been gone for three months – deported to Mexico.”

From The Daily Astorian, December 10, 2018

“How are they doing?” I asked my friend.  “They’re having a very hard time,” came the answer.  “Miguel has planted pineapples but it takes a year for the crop to mature.  Meanwhile, he does odd jobs for a friend.  Maria and her sister-in-law cook during the week and sell their food at a roadside stand on the weekends.  Joel has a job, too, — digging graves.  He is 13 now.”

Digging graves.  At thirteen.  OMG.  I flashed on the regulation-sized volleyball court Miguel had built in their back yard here and how there was often a game going among adults and kids, as well.  I thought of how Joel had chosen to leave with his family rather than stay here with a friend, though the offer had been made.  I thought of Oscar, now truly as old as his fingers had told me…

Sometimes “catching up” isn’t all that great.  Sometimes “reality” sucks.

Works in Progress at Our Place

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

New Barn Doors for Woodshed Waiting for Final Painting

We have had our own little WPA (Works Progress Administration) happening here since the Sheltering began.  Nothing so grand as Timberline Lodge or Bonneville Dam or even the Ocean Park School.  (Yes, did you realize that we had several WPA projects right here on the Peninsula in the 1930s?)

Our projects are on a much smaller scale, but they’ve involved using stimulus money to jumpstart a few projects that we had been putting off.  For years.  Like a woodshed.  And a “patio area” outside our kitchen for tending to the potting and planting needs of herbs and salad greens (for instance.)  Some repair and spiffing up projects, too — a new roof for the toolshed and and a keep-out-of-the-mud area around the chicken coop.

Twenty-five Pavers Stacked at the Ready

To accomplish these outdoor projects we’ve had the help of our Garden Girls, our Painter Friend, our Jack-of-all-Trades Guy and, of course, the jump-start of the first stimulus monies.  It’s amazing what a lot of time and a little money can accomplish!  And that doesn’t even count what Nyel has been managing to patch and repair inside!  Or what good friends have helped with around the garden!  We’ve missed a lot this past year… but we’ve gained a great deal, too.  We are counting our blessings!

When the call came, I held my breath…

Friday, February 19th, 2021

A pleasant sounding young woman called from the Pacific County Health Department the other day…  I held my breath.  Did they need to cancel our second Covid-shot appointment?  Had they run out of vaccine?  Would we have to reschedule?  And how crucial is the timing for this second vaccine?  Were they going to need to switch us to another kind?

I think it was only Nano-seconds before she explained the reason for the call.  But it’s amazing how fast those synapses in your brain fire the alarm signals and pose the questions.  (Of course, Nyel says it’s just me — always looking at the empty half of things.  He’s probably right.)

The call was to ask us if we could come for our shots a half hour earlier.  Whew!  “Yes, of course,” I told her.  “We’ll be there.  No problem.”  We still need to drive to South Bend and back.  We still plan on packing a lunch.  And we’ll still be relieved when this is a done deal.

One step closer to the new normal.

Late Breaking News: Here comes the cavalry!

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Screen Shot

I had so many responses to my blog about scheduling the Covid-19 vaccinations that my friend Cate Gable wrote yesterday afternoon:  “Forward to whoever missed the first round.”  And she sent this link for us to copy and paste into our browsers:
A breaking news alert from The Seattle Times. View in your browser.

As it turns out, the information was all over the news yesterday, but on the off-chance you haven’t heard yet, I am following her advice and posting the link, hoping that “whoever missed the first round” will see this.  At this point, you may know as much as Cate or I do.  If so, please do share.)

Hoping for Full Speed Ahead

The missing part, of course, is that we have no idea what comes next for us in Pacific County.  How will folks on the wait list be notified?  By email? When should people start calling the Pacific County Health Department???  Or will that be the system the next time around? I really have no idea.  All I can say is, “Watch your emails.  Listen to those robocalls on the off-chance there will be a clue.”

I wish you good luck.  I hope this bit of information doesn’t add to anyone’s stress.  That’s the last thing any of us needs right now!  And do let us know if you have additional information that will help!

Vaccination Report from The Old and Infirm

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Two arms from our household received their first doses of the Moderna vaccine yesterday in South Bend.  Neither of the arms is complaining and so far, neither of their attached people feels tired, vomitty, or in any way out of the ordinary.  WOOT!  WOOT!

We were extremely pleased to see that the Point of Delivery behind South Bend’s Fire Hall was beautifully organized with nurses and other volunteers ready to explain the procedure, handle the paper work, get the vaccine into arms, observe us during a fifteen-minute recovery period, and give us instructions for next steps.  A smooth operation from start to finish.  Highest of marks for the Pacific County Health Department!

On the other hand, Nyel and I spent a good deal of our homeward journey speculating about the total mess the scheduling has been.  Why was the scheduling so hard and the vaccine delivery process so easy?  Last night, in response to my spasmodic weekly report to our usual Friday Nighters, we heard the scheduling frustrations, as well as the “success stories,” of some of our friends.  It seems incredible, since we’ve known for months now that eventually the vaccine would be “ready,” that the scheduling could be such a mess.  Especially when contrasted to the actual delivery process!  Obviously our Health Department is up to the second task.  What happened in getting ready for it?

I hope that when all is said and done we’ll find out the whys.  Could “they” not have used census records to list every Pacific County resident by age and access us that way?  Or by address?  Or by both?  Surely with all the computer possibilities there could have been a way to sort contact information and get in touch with the residents of our small county?  But maybe not.

Meanwhile, we’ve been told that our county is out of vaccine for this go-round.  Does that mean that they’ve put aside the second doses for which  some of us have been scheduled?  Unclear.  Does it help to know that other areas are having just as much trouble as we are?  Not really.  We’re all in this together and the only way out is all of us together, as well.  We are holding positive thoughts.

A Yearful of Patches and Projects

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

Re-roofing The Toolshed

It’s not news that we patch-patch-patch more frequently and rapidly as we advance in age.  And so it is with our belongings — our homes, our vehicles, our clothing.  Although in this day and age does anyone actually mend and darn any more?

As I look back on this year, I realize that we, along with many of our friends, have had more than the usual quota of projects going on around home. Some are of the repairing and renewing variety; some are of for-the-first-time-ever variety.  And why not?  It was the perfect year to pay attention to the home front, being here for most of the time as we were.

Tucker and The Apple Tree Stump

Most of our projects were of the outside variety.  And, given our aged and infirm status, most involved friends and worker bees.  We had the finials on our balcony re-made and replaced, the roof to our toolshed re-shingled, the west section of our picket fence re-painted, our unhealthy apple tree removed, and our rhododendrons to the west and east seriously pruned.

New Woodshed

New projects included replacing our old vegetable garden with lawn and the installation of a wheelchair-friendly back patio and walkway.  In addition, at long last, we had a new woodshed constructed.  It is now ready for a few cords of wood which will, no doubt involve another project of sorts.

Many of our friends have also been busy with projects this year — most far more glamorous than ours:  Mark and Elo, a kitchen remodel and new lighting in their dining room; Pam and Tom, a new garden shed; and so many more.  We hope that they, too, feel that sense of satisfaction knowing that they’ve “used their time wisely” (as I used to advise my 1st-2nd-3rd graders.)  When the time comes that we can kick up our heels again, we’ll be able to do so with wild and reckless abandon and feeling totally guilt free!


And the winner is…

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving, November 26, 2020

If I were the deciding judge in a world-wide contest for  best “Holiday Gatherings During Covid” poster, I’d choose the 2020 Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving photograph!  It arrived in my mailbox last night and I truly wish I knew if such a competition exists.  I think it would win hands down!

Our own photograph of Thanksgiving Scaled Down pales by comparison.  Besides which, even for a fabulous dinner for two, the chef here labored all afternoon in the kitchen and left ‘nary pot nor pan unused.  In fact, my first thought when I saw the Wachsmuth celebration photo was, “Lucky Carol!”  Even counting many willing hands to make light work, a virtual dinner for 17 is less work for everyone, both before and after.

I am assuming, of course, that the heavy lifting for their virtual dinner this year was done by  Tucker.  Not only is he an artist by training, but what I think of as his main body of work — A Christmas Card for each of the 50 years he and Carol have been married — has everything to do with family.  And I see by the recipients listed on the email for this Thanksgiving greeting, it had everything to do with family, as well.

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Besides that, the few times we’ve seen our Wachsmuth neighbors from afar in the last few weeks, the answer to  “What have you been up to these days?” has been a vague, “Oh you know… just puttering.”  “Some puttering!” we say!  Perhaps later Nyel can repeat his reaction when he saw the photograph, “This is amazing!  I wonder how much time it took him?”   And maybe Tucker will tell us.

But, maybe not.  You never can tell with artists!