Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

The Swallows Are Back!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Cliff Swallows at the Church – June 1, 2020

Nyel saw them first — day before yesterday, circling around outside our kitchen window.  The swallows are back!  If they’d just slow down a tad, maybe we could tell if they are of the Cliff or Barn variety.  Paul, our ORF President, especially wants to know!

Cliff swallows are the ones who nest in the eaves of the Oysterville Church.  Some people call them “Mud Swallows” because they make their neat round nests of mud rather than of grass and mud like barn swallows’ cup-like structures.  Cliff swallows usually nest in colonies which, in the western United States can number up to 3,700 nests in one spot according the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

We hope they are not aiming to match that record at the Oysterville Church!  But even a dozen or so nests can produce quite a mess on the walls — not only unsightly but damaging to the paint and expensive to clean up.  Paul has made it a mission to discourage them from nesting on the church — even had some special wooden “inserts” placed along the eaves last winter. Whether or not they will work should be determined shortly.  Bets are running about evenly here in Oysterville!

Barn Swallows (second batch) on Our Front Porch – Aug. 9, 2016

Meanwhile, we are watching to see what “our” barn swallows will do.  Nyel has reluctantly agreed that they can “have” the kitchen garden area, but he’s hoping to discourage them on the front porch.  Lots of luck with that, I say.  And besides… I love to watch them raise their families and chirp from on high at our backyard chickens.  I wonder if the girls have flight-and-swoop envy?  Its always hard to tell with chickens.

Carolers At Our Doorstep!

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

What They Saw

It was a holiday first-ever for us!  Christmas carolers at our door!  And us without a toddy or a wassail cup to offer!  Talk about gobsmacked!  All we could do was smile and smile and smile!

Maybe the tone (ahem!) for the day was set when we had a zoom meeting with the Rose City Mixed Quartet.  No serenading or singing, though, zoom being what it is.  But we had a great visit and consoled ourselves with listening to their Christmas cd in the background.

What We Saw

Then Cate called and asked if we’d be home around three…  When I heard the latch opening on the gate, I gave it a minute or two, thinking she’d leave whatever-it-was and I could catch her on her way out for a few words of  safely distanced Christmas conversation.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find Cate and five friends — some dressed in Santa garb, some bundled against the cold, and one mafioso-type standing guard against the Grinch and Covid and non-believers in general.

What Else We Saw

I called Nyel (who was in the kitchen nearby, cooking with his Santa chef hat in place) while Cate began to strum her ukulele and the group broke into song.  I, of course, got teary — it seemed beyond belief that we would be so honored.  They called themselves the Clamdigger Choir (or was it the Clamshell Chorus) and even came bearing gifts!

What The Chickens Saw

There didn’t need to be snow or sleigh bells or a carrot-nosed snowman looking on.  It was absolutely the merriest beginning to Christmas we’ve ever had.  Thank you so much Bette Lu Krause, Rosemary Hallin, Steve Kovach, Nanci Main, Barbara Bate, and Cate Gable!  You are the best Christmas elves ever!  Bless you each and every one!

The Neighborhood Watch

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

On Territory Road across from The ORF Meadow

Some years ago — more than twenty, actually — shortly after John Didion had been elected Pacific County Sheriff for the first time, Nyel and I hosted him at an informal meeting at our house here in Oysterville.  We asked if he would talk to interested Oysterville residents about neighborhood safety.

As I recall, it was a period of time during which there was concern about “squatters — possibly druggies” in one or two of the unoccupied second homes in the village.  Sheriff Didion was accompanied by one of his Deputies, Ray Harrison, who lived in Surside and who was to become a familiar presence in Oysterville.  At that meeting, Ray said he would increase his “drive-throughs” in the village and, indeed, he proved as good as his word.  We all felt well looked after as long as Ray was on the job.

Also, at that meeting, John and Ray talked about Neighborhood Watch programs and encouraged us to consider forming such a group.  They promised to help get us started and to support us in any way that they could.  Unfortunately, that idea never got beyond the talking stages here, but I think that maybe Surfside residents did organize a community safety group of some kind.  Perhaps it is still functioning.

Homeward Bound

I’m pretty sure we passed around a “sign-in sheet” at that meeting.  I don’t find  it here; I imagine that we gave it to John at the meeting’s conclusion.  Neither Nyel ‘nor I have a clear memory of exactly who was here, but my lasting impression is that most of our neighbors in “greater downtown Oysterville” attended.

Imagine our surprise yesterday when it was one of those very same “neighbors” whose picture showed up on the photos taken by Dan Driscoll’s surveillance camera!  It never, in all these years, would have occurred to me that a “Neigborhood Watch” endeavor might reveal the mischief of one of our own near neighbors, Michael Parker.  It puts a whole new spin on the concept of “Neighborhood Watch” doncha think?

Waiting for that other shoe to drop…

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

I’m pleased to “report” that the Driscoll Sign Thief of Oysterville is now known to the candidate and to the Sheriff’s Department.  Although Dan has given me his “blessing” to reveal the culprit’s name, I am choosing to wait until the Sheriff acts on Dan’s report.    As of yesterday evening, Dan has not received any word of “official” action.

Apparently, the latest sign removals were caught on camera — “loud and clear” you might say.  Dan called the Sheriff’s Department and a Deputy travelled to Oysterville Sea Farms to interview him and, presumably, to see the “evidence.”  One would assume that the next step would be to interview the person shown in the photograph.

Dan at Work

Dan also is hopeful of having the signs returned to him.  “I’ve had more than $1,000 worth of signs stolen in Oysterville,” he told me.  “I’d really like them to be returned.”

So far, however, Dan has not been apprised of “the rest of the story.”  The Sheriff’s Department has not indicated that the “other party” has been contacted nor has there been any word as to the whereabouts of the stolen signs.  Curious. isn’t it?

Based on Dan’s track record of tenacity and follow-through, I have confidence that the matter will eventually be resolved and that the rest of the story will be clarified.  Which is another great reason to vote for Dan for Commissioner.  If there is one thing Dan does NOT do, it is to ignore wrong-doing on the part of those in a position of public trust — in this case, some sort of official follow-through with regard to his complaint.  Stay tuned…

More Good News for Our Man, Dan!

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020

Jon Lind, left; Dan Driscoll, right

We were pleased to learn the other day that Jon Lind, who came in third in the race for Pacifc  County Commissioner’s #2 seat, has fully endorsed Dan Driscoll!  In a press release sent out on August 20th:

Independent Candidate Jon Lind is supporting Libertarian Candidate Dan Driscoll in his campaign to unseat two-term Democrat incumbent Frank Wolfe to represent district number 2 as Pacific County Commissioner. Lind’s support of Driscoll is highly valuable to Driscoll in District number 2.   It is expected to solidify the anti-incumbent vote.  In the recently certified results of the Primary run off,  56.93% of voters voted against the incumbent.  

Dan At The Office

The primary drew state-wide attention on this race because Driscoll set a record for the most votes received by a third party candidate in traditionally anti-third party Pacific County. Regardless of whether Libertarian challenger Driscoll or Democrat incumbent Wolfe prevails in the November county wide election, Driscoll is almost certain to top this record.

Put another way, incumbent Frank Wolfe received 1,595 votes or 42.49% in the Primary.  Dan Driscoll received 1,491 votes of 39.72% and Jon Lind received 646 or 17.21 percent.  With only a 104 vote difference betwween Frank and Dan, the endorsement by John should be a shoe-in but… we can-but-hope while we urge everyone to vote in the General Election.

Dan The Oyster Man!

In that election, unlike the  Primary, all of Pacific County will be voting for the Commissioner’s spot.  (In the Primary, of course, it was only voters in Dictrict #2 who could vote.)  So it is important for all of us to urge friends, relatives, co-workers etc. who live in the southern part of Peninsula, in Chinook, in Naselle, and in north county to vote for Dan in November.  (I tried to get a map to post here but, as in most other things in our county, the information is less than transparent.  Perhaps you will have better luck than I in finding exactly where the boundaries are.)

In any case, every eligible voter in Pacific County will have the opportunity to vote for Dan in the upcoming election.  He has my endorsement for oh! so many reasons — see my blog of July 12, 2020, “  You’ll no doubt have other great reasons to vote for Dan.  Do share them!  (I’m not sure his delicious oysters are a qualifying reason… but they certainly can’t hurt!)

[Message clipped]  View entire message

2 Attachments



What lessons should we adults be learning?

Monday, August 10th, 2020

Julia Jefferson Espy on her wedding day, 1870

My great-grandmother, Julia Jefferson Espy, graduated from the University of Salem (now Willamette University) in 1869.  Immediately, she was hired — because she was the prettiest graduate goes the family story — by Oysterville School Board members Lewis Loomis and Robert Espy to teach at Oysterville’s one-room schoolhouse.  She was 18 years old.

Her classes numbered up to 50 and often included “married ladies and hulking young oystermen” who had never had an opportunity to learn the three R’s. I’ve always wondered if she accepted 44-year-old Major Espy’s proposal of marriage at the end of that first school year out of true love or as a graceful way to retire from the classroom.  After all, married women may have been among the student population, but they were not allowed to teach!

Between 1872 and 1887, Julia and Robert had seven children.  Julia chose to teach all of them at home for their primary years — until they could read and write and do basic math.  Once she was satisfied that they were off to a good start, they were sent to the new two-story school (1875-1905) which was situated on the same grounds as the present-day school building (1907-1957), now the home of the  Oysterville Community Club.

Oysterville Schoolhouse circa 1880

I’ve often wondered why Julia chose to home-school her youngsters.  Surely, in those days with no labor-saving devices and without household help (until the girls were older), she had little time to add teaching duties to her busy days.  However, if her belief in a “good start” was the key to successful advancement, she may well have been correct.  All of her children attended college (except for the youngest, Verona, who had a disorder akin to multiple scelorosis). The two other girls became teachers before they married.  Of the four boys, one was an attorney, one a mining engineer, one a water engineer, and one a banker.

I wonder what advice Julia would have for parents today — parent facing the prospect of children being “home-schooled” under very different circumstances than she had faced.  In her world, both parents worked but, for women, that work was usually done at home.  Most adults — women and men — took on teaching their children in one way or another as a matter of course.  Whether it was teaching farm chores or store-keeping or smithing or doctoring, the younger generation often got the basics from the adults of the community — sometimes before their formal education, sometimes after.

R.H. Espy Family, 1895

Education was definitely a community event.  Will we be embracing some of those methods again?  Can we?  Or are we too specialized now?  Too automated, computerized, technologic for parents to oversee the education of their own youngsters?  Especially all of a sudden, without preparation…

And yet… there are many families in our communities who have managed to home school successfully. What “secrets” do they have to share with the rest of the parent/school community?  What advice would our grands and our greats and our great-greats have for us?  Perhaps it’s time we try to find out.

A sign of arrested development?

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

In 2015

A few years ago, when the house to our north was for sale, we happened to be spending a good deal of time in Portland at various hospitals.  Nyel was having some serious health problems and so, for several months we weren’t home very regularly.  Our wonderful neighbors watched out for our chickens, picked up our mail, and generally kept an eye on things.  Including keeping our property free from the “For Sale” signs that kept migrating  over to our front gate.  Someone thought it was pretty funny to move the realtor’s signs from the property next door to our house.

We were busy struggling with Nyel’s health and absolutely oblivious to that particular bit of TLC being provided by our good friends and neighbors — as in, removing said signs and returning them to the property next door.  By the time we finally returned home, we were so relieved that Nyel was improving that we didn’t pay much attention to the “homecoming reports.”  The sign switching stopped and life went on.

It’s A Sign!

Now the sign  fetisher is apparently at it again.  Only this time, the culprit has taken to disappearing our signs — actually just one sign.  The Driscoll sign.  Of the many here in the village, ours is one of only two that vanished Friday night.  The others, at least on the properties near us, are still in place.

Perhaps it’s one of the non-Driscoll supporters here in town, most of whom, incidentally, are not full-time residents of Pacific County and cannot vote in the upcoming election.  So… what message are they trying to send?  And to whom?  Is it a message to the steady stream of tourists who visit the Historic District all summer?  Or is the message to the candidates, themselves, (who, I needn’t point out, are well aware of who can and cannot vote in our little village).  If the message is meant for us in particular, we can’t quite figure out the logic.

It’s a sad, sad situation when the biggest excitement for someone is thievery.  Of political signs!  Worst of all, they are stealing money out of our neighbor Dan’s pocket.  To what purpose?  I seriously doubt that they’ve given it that much thought.  It’s a teenager’s trick and since we have no teenagers in town, it’s obviously a matter of arrested development.  Sad.  Very, very sad.


The Shape of Summer in Oysterville

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

A Sign of Summer

Even though Oystervillains [sic] are a fiercely independent lot, there has always been a certain “shape” to summer — especially over the last several decades.  There are certain events and activities that take place each year and, whether or not you participate, they seem to be markers along our path to autumn.

Here, at least since the late ’70s, “The Summer Season” begins on Father’s Day with the first Summer Music Vespers program at the church.  From then until Labor Day weekend, the focus of each Sunday (at least for some of us) is the hour spent with friends and neighbors and visitors from afar in song and fellowship.  Though each Sunday is unique, each also follows a similar structure: a story and welcoming message from a member of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation;  a short message from a pastor from the greater area; a forty-minute musical presentation by local or visiting musicians; two or three hymns sung by the congregation; the passing of collection baskets (donations to be used for maintenace and upkeep of the old building).

In July, the focus is at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  That’s usually the month that the Oysterville Community Club sponsors the highly popular Artisan’s Fair — a three day event featuring artists and craftsfolk from all over the Peninsula and drawing dozens of tourists in addition to  locals!  Such a lovely time for “catching up” on the creative accomplishments of our many talented Peninsula friends and neighbors!

In August, the Oysterville Regatta occurs — always on a Saturday (for maximum participation), always in the afternoon (for the wind), and always at the most judicious time of the tide as determined by Chief Skipper Tucker Wachsmuth.  For the landlubbers in town (like us) the dinner afterwards, prepared by Carol W. and daughter Lina, is a particular highlight.  The entire town is invited plus all the regatta participants and their families plus musicians plus… Fabulous!

Sweet Memories – Regatta Day 2012

And, of course, the days of summer are punctuated by two or three weddings a month at the church and by picnics and barbecues and family reunions throughout the village.  There is always a special feeling of friendship and sociability here in summertime.

This year, though… not so much!  Summer has lost its shape entirely.  We console ourselves that we are not alone in that regard and that Oysterville and the rest of the world will soon look back on this as the Summer of Masks and Social Distancing — a once-in-a-lifetime aberration here and everywhere.

A Case of Arrested Development?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Judging by the “message” and, perhaps, by the handwriting, I’d say the graffiti on the CLOSED sign at the church was done by someone with about an eight-year-old’s mentality.  If it was an eight-year-old in my classroom, they’d earn a barely passing grade for the handwriting part.  But I think it was probably done by an adult who is still confused between handwriting methods — D’Nealian or stick-and-ball?  Not a good example of either.  Plus the arrow and the ellipsis are a bit more sophisticated than most eight-year-olds might do.  A bit.

As for the message, itself… it was probably intended to be funny or clever.  Presumably, a message conveys news, advice, or a request.  I guess this is “advice” albeit advice to break the law.  Definitely an eight-year-old’s mentality.  Let’s put it up for a vote.  Clever or stupid?

I imagine it was done by a disgruntled tourist although an ORF Board Member suggested it was probably a disgruntled neighbor.  I’m not aware that any of the neighbors have ever used the church on a regular basis for saying prayers or even for quiet meditation and we have no eight-year-olds living in town.  So I’m discounting that suggestion.  Mostly.

I’ve replaced the sign.  I wonder how long the new one will last.  I’m thinking one replacement is enough.  Any more is way above my pay grade.

My Grass Roots Opinion Poll — Sort Of

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020


Most of our garden is lawn.  Back in the day when Nyel was able to do the heavy lifting, he took care of the mowing and the feeding and weeding and, mostly, the watering.  Now we have Tom-The-Mower-Man, but the quarterly applications of moss deterrent and fertilizer (ammonium sulfate) are up to me.

“Quarterly” is actually a mis-nomer, although it does happen four times a year — roughly Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving — as recommended by Master Gardener Don Tapio.  The process involves pushing a spreader back and forth east/west and then north/south on the lawn, which is a lot of walking and lifting/pouring of product.  So, it takes this old woman several days, especially considering the periodic rest periods between applications.

For the last few days, I’ve been working in the South Garden and am Johnny-on-the-spot for a bit of long-distance conversation with the neighbors as they walk their dogs or are just out for a stroll.  After “how’s it going” sorts of starts, the conversations have veered quickly to the County’s decision to open the beaches to driving.

At the End of Oysterville Road, 1940s (Where Surfside is Now)

I certainly haven’t seen or talked to every neighbor, but of those who have stopped for a bit of conversation, the prevailing reaction to the opening is “why?”  As one person said, “They are still discouraging visitors and we locals could already go walking on the beach.  So, what’s the point?”  And, another person — a dedicated clam digger — was incensed that “on top of that, the first clam dig has been cancelled!”

All-in-all, in my non-official, non-comprehensive, probably nonsensical and totally informal survey — residents don’t see the point of the “opening.”  Neither do I.