Archive for the ‘Country Living’ Category

For me, it’s underneath the down comforter!

Saturday, November 12th, 2022

There is no use arguing with the inevitable. The
only argument available with an East Wind is
to put on your overcoat.  James Russell Lowell

Every year when the Oysterville Church flag is retired for the  winter, I am lulled into thinking that it’s a good thing.  Otherwise the flag will be whipped to rags by the winds and rains of winter.  What I forget each year is how much I depend on that flag to keep me oriented — not to home and country (although perhaps that, too) but to the weather and what is about to befall as the wintery weather comes full bore upon us!  Over the years it has become automatic to glance out the dining room windows in the morning and make a mental note of the flag’s “weather report.”  And, I might add, to prepare accordingly.

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay

From the west:  batten down the hatches, get the rain gear ready but hope for the best.  Sometimes gray skies disappear in the afternoonwith blue skies and fluffy white clouds promising a sunset to remember.

From the southwest — stormy days ahead, sometimes with few breaks.  And from the north — colder, clearer, but usually not so long lasting — not until the dead of winter is over.

But those east winds!  Oh my.  They come roaring across the bay and right through our wall and windows — never mind the spaces aroud the doors and sills where we try to keep the wind at bay, so to speak.  In it comes, anyway.  We close off the east rooms, build a fire in the libraru, crank the heat up notch upon notch and huddle under a down comforter.

Last Night’s Cozy Fire

A heating pad gets the bed ready — IF the power stays on.  We’ve been known to heat up cast iron pans in the firplace, wrap them in blankets and use them as bedwarmers when the power is out.  Oh! Oh! Oh!  How I miss my warm-bodied Nyel to snuggle up to!

In case you wondered:  there are 128 days until Spring.

 

 

Re-reading “The Classics”

Monday, October 24th, 2022

Books in the Library

When you live in a house filled with five  generations of great books, it makes no sense at all to run out of reading material.  Except… how did people 100+ years ago manage that teeny-tiny print?  There are shelves and shelves of books from the 1880s clear through the 1930s that I always thought I’d settle down and read “when I retired.”

Surprise!  My old eyes simply cannot handle the miniscule fonts.  Magnifying glasses?  Yes, this house is full of them — at least five fine large ones from my grandfather’s time — but they are awkward to use and don’t make for a joyful reading experience.  And besides, I can get any of these books in more modern editions through our wonderful Timberland Library System should I be so inclined.

Books in the East Room

No.  I just like the idea of knowing I can grab a book off a shelf on a whim and sit by the fire and… well, you know.  So, after lunch today I did just that, being careful to choose a book that had belonged to my Aunt Mona in the 1950s.  Print size, no problem.  That I’d read it before, probably in 1955, the year it was published, also no problem.  I remembered only that I liked it then and the first few pages have reminded me why.  Although it is about island living here in the northwest, when I was growing up here on the Peninsula in the 1940s, it could have easily been about here — especially during the stormy winter months when the ferry might or might not be running.

Says the author:  I cannot say that everyone should live as we do, but you might be happy on an island if you can face up to the following;

     1.  Dinner guests are often still with you seven days, weeks, months later and sleeping in the lawn swing is fun (I keep telling Don) if you take two sleeping pills and remember that the raccoons are just trying to be friends.

     2.  Any definite appointment, such as childbirth or jury duty, acts as an automatic signal for the ferryboats to stop running.

     3. Finding island property is easy, especially up here in the Northwest where most of the time even the people are completely surrounded by water.  Financing is something else again.  Bankers are urban and everything not visible from a bank is “too far out.”

    4. A telephone call from a relative beginning “Hello, dear, we’ve been thinking of you…” means you are going to get somebody’s children.

Books in the East Room

     5.  Any dinner can be stretched by the addition of noodles to something.

     6.  If you miss the last ferry  — the 1:05 A.M. — you have to sit on the dock all night, but the time will come when you will be grateful for that large body of water between you and those thirteen parking tickets.

     7.  Anyone contemplating island dwelling must be physically strong and it is an added advantage if you aren’t too bright.

Perhaps, by now, you recognize Onions in the Stew — written by Betty MacDonald of The Egg and I fame.  I’m not sure it was what I had in mind when I thought I’d read “the classics” in my retirement years.  But it is, indeed, a classic and I am enjoying it thoroughly!

Gone! No regrets! No remorse! No landline!

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Goodbye! Over and Out!

You’d think that I’d miss it.  But, I’m here to tell you that after 86 years of being tethered to the outside world via a telephone line, I don’t feel even a twinge of repentance for my decision.  Actually, “our” decision.  Nyel was the one who ordered Starlink so that we’d have a chance at reliable internet.  And he was the one most looking forward to cutting that CenturyLink cord.

So… as of 8:30 a.m. on Monday… tah dah!  My connection to others on this planet is dependent upon cell phone towers and the neat little Starlink dish and router which “beams internet data, not through cables, but via radio signals through the vacuum of space. Ground stations on the planet broadcast the signals to satellites in orbit, which can then relay the data back to users on Earth.”  Do I understand it?  Hardly a word.  So… we’ll see.

Starlink Dish

The only part of the changeover which gave me a momenetary pang — letting go of my landline number which I’d had for 43 years — half my life!  But, in recent years most incoming calls on that number have been sales pitches, donation requests, or spam.  People who really need to get in touch either have a cell number, an email address, or can find me on social media.  Options galore!

Now if I can only remember to keep track of that cell phone…

 

Things Might Be Looking Up In Oysterville

Sunday, November 21st, 2021

Space-X Starlink Satellite

Until very recently, I had the vague idea that Elon Musk was some sort of exotic scent for men.  Then my cousin got a spiffy job in California working for Tesla and I found out a little more — at least to the extent that the scent exuded by this particular Musk is that of money and cutting edge electric cars.  And now we are hearing about Mr. Musk even closer to home.  Yes!  His Starlink satellites have reached the skies above Oysterville!

According to our neighbor (who, as far as we know, is the first in our area to sign up) the system delivers exactly what its website promises:  Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Within each coverage area, orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.”

“It was seamless!” she enthused to us at our Friday Night Gathering.  “No muss, no fuss.  Instantly we were up and running — no problems encountered by our local installer or by us!”  And best of all, the download speed for the internet is 200+MB/s (a figure so vast when compared to our all-time CenturyLink speed of 5.88 MB/s, that I cannot remember the exact number)!!

CardioMems Device

Will we sign up?  The jury is still out.  Mostly because it only makes sense to do that if we bag our landline and current internet delivery service.  We will do that in a nano-second IF Nyel finds that his daily CardioMems report can be sent another way.  Right now, the data from the device that measures and monitors his pulmonary artery pressure and heart rate goes daily via our landline directly to his cardiologist in Seattle.  That communication allows for immediate tweaking of meds, should the numbers so indicate.  The big question:  is there another way that his CardioMems machine can communicate with Seattle?

Fingers crossed!  If our stars are in the right aspect and there is a way to circumvent our landline, we’ll be on the waitlist before you can say, “200 MB/s.”

 

We didn’t recognize the signature but…

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

Mr. Mower Man, October 2, 2012

Early morning October 2nd.  Something was going on out in the meadow!  Way out at the east side, near the bay.  Yay!  It’s the Mower Man, Mr. Kurtz here to do our annual mowing.  Or so I thought for about a minute.  But something was wrong.

Mr. Kurtz has mowed the meadows in front of Oysterville for a number of years now.  He usually starts at the south end of the village and works his way north, mowing in straight lines east to west, west to east, and back again.  Neat and Tidy.

Our wintertime view is back again!

The Mower Man I was watching was working in concentric rectangles — south to north along the east side, east to west along the north side, north to south along the west side, etc.  It looked like he’d started at the north end of the village.  Neat and Tidy as always but an entirely different pattern.  Not the signature of Mr, Kurtz.

I stood by our east fence for a while and, as he drew near, he waved and I gave him a thumbs up.  We exchanged smiles and, had it not been for the noise of the mower, I’d have introduced myself and asked after Mr. Kurtz.  Mr. K is “of an age” and I hope he’s doing well.  Maybe this year’s Mower Man is his son.  Or grandson.  Or an employee.  Or maybe Mr. K. has retired.

Meadow, Bay, and Sky — as far as the eye can see.

Whatever the story and no matter the signature, our meadow looks great.  It’s definitely ready for the high tides and heavy rains of winter.  Then Lake Little will form once again and provide recreational and nutritional habitat for the dabbling ducks and the geese and the occasional heron.  And so the seasons revolve — no matter who signs the work orders!  Thanks. Mr. Mower Man!

Beautiful Bounty: almost too gorgeous to eat!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Gorgeous! Delicious, too!

Our down-the-road part-time neighbors were in town over the weekend and brought us bounty from their garden in Oregon City.  Tomatoes!  So gorgeous!  Almost too beautiful to eat.  Almost.  The biggest, reddest ones are Heartlands and, though I was told the names of the others, I have already forgotten.  I’m bad at remembering names — tomatoes, people… I’m a non-discriminating forgetter.

I also forget why my dad didn’t especially like tomatoes.  I don’t think he minded them in sauce, but during my growing-up days, we didn’t have many salads or raw fruits or vegetables.  I do remember, though, that when we did have sliced tomatoes as a side dish, dad put sugar on them!  Sugar!  I was a salt-and-pepper girl, following my mother’s example.

Corn-on-the-Cob (Nyel’s favorite!) and English Cucumbers!

Some way I associate my father’s tomato hesitancy with some of the old “poisoned apple” folklore from the 1700s.  Not that my dad was that old, mind you, though he would have been the first to say that Bostonians (and he was one!) were provincial in the extreme. It was one of the reasons he moved west.  Tomatoes may well have still be suffering from the thought that people got sick and died after eating them — which was true if they were eating off pewter plates. Because tomatoes are so high in acidity, when placed on this particular tableware, the fruit would leach lead from the plate, resulting in many deaths from lead poisoning. No one made this connection between plate and poison at the time; the tomato was picked as the culprit.

I think tomatoes also got a bad rap because they are a part of the deadly nightshade family but, thankfully we’ve all (Bosonians included) gotten past that.  These days tomatoes are consumed around the world in countless varieties. More than one and half billion tons of tomatoes are produced commercially every year.

But I’m here to tell you that none (as in not one tomato out of those many tons) can hold a candle to the garden bounty that we received day before yesterday.  Oh!  And did I mention the corn and the cucumbers?  And, as for those tomatoes — I don’t even think my dad would have ruined them with sugar!

 

 

 

 

 

Oysterville’s Deer People

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021

 

Posing for Tucker

The deer people have been keeping a fairly low profile — at least on our edge of town.  I imagine the bucks are busy growing their new antlers — maybe even getting the itch to get the velvet off by now.  And the mama deer have just about had it with nursing.  By now, even the June-borns should be foraging on their own.  It’s not quite time to stay out of sight of the hunters — but soon.

A week or so ago, I saw our little Bucky deer over on the west side of Sandridge just across from School Street.  He was fairly well camouflaged and watching the traffic closely, not interested in crossing just then, but perhaps storing up traffic information.  The car in front of me spotted him and slowed to a stop.  Those behind us had no idea what the trouble was but they were respectful and, after we went on, I saw in my rear view mirror that they stopped in their turn to have a look.  It’s one thing most of us never tire of.

By Tucker Wachsmuth

Tucker got some wonderful photos of an older buck.  I didn’t ask where he was but I imagine it was out Leadbetter way.  What a beauty.  I hope he can stay hidden from the trophy hunters this fall.   Not every deer is as patient and diligent as Oysterville’s Bucky.  We are looking forward to his annual fall pear foraging adventures — anytime now.  Fingers crossed.

 

There must be a hundred of ’em!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Photo Op — Goulter Cattle 2003

It started five or six weeks ago with the cows.  We were driving north on Sandridge past Shier’s Field, and Nyel, who was riding shotgun, suddenly said, “Look at that!  A hundred cows!”

By the time I could glance over, however, I thought there were more like twenty or thirty.  And then they were behind us.  “Yeah, right,” I said.  “No really!” he insisted (maybe just a little tongue-in-cheek.) “A hundred cows!”

The next time we went by, I was prepared.  I saw a few dozen at the north end — maybe the same few? — and then a whole bunch more toward the south.  “And look over there to the east!  There must be a hundred of them!  Lying down!” Nyel said. “Who do you think they belong to?  Wrights?”

We were headed to Astoria so, being in a cow-ish frame of mind, we checked out Goulter’s herd.  Probably another hundred?  I wondered idly if they’d ever met the cows on Sandridge.  And are they all being fattened up for steaks and roasts?  I remember one year that Blaine Walker and Lance Wright were raising a few Kobi beef but I don’t think that worked out well.

Horses at Martin’s Bog — “at least 100 of ’em!”

And… as if all those cows aren’t enough, have you seen the horses at the old Martin’s Bog just north of Joe John’s Road on Sandridge?  “Must be a hundred horses!  At least!”  We don’t know who they belong to, either.  But, like the cows, it’s a pleasure to see them all.  I don’t really think I’ve seen so many pastures full of cows and horses since I was a kid!  Not here on the Peninsula, anyway.  It feels just like it should be!

Bumper Crop of Bambis in Oysterville

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Among the Lettuces

Suffice it to say that Mrs. W.T. Deer knew what she was doing when she chose this particular Oysterville garden to hide her newborns.  She must have had insiders’ knowledge that this wasn’t mean Mr. McGregor’s garden and that her little ones would be safe among the vegetables as long as they didn’t move a muscle.

And they didn’t.  These weren’t naughty Peter Rabbits. no sirree.  These were well behaved Bambis and they didn’t so much as blink — “great photo subjects,” according to Tucker who knew (and wasn’t telling) their location.   According to the wildcare.org site, “Deer, like Jackrabbits, will leave their young alone for up to twelve hours at a time while they forage. The babies know to stay still and quiet, tucked into the grass where their mother left them.”  Or among the potatoes and asparagus.

Twins In The Garden!

Obviously, Beatrix Potter’s Peter was not a Jackrabbit.  I remember that his mother reminded him,  “Your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.” I wonder what the twin Bambis’ mother said to them before she went off to have breakfast.  Whatever it was, they seem to have paid close attention.

There are several other fawns in town this season.  I saw two of them galloping across Territory Road toward the schoolhouse the other day, stopping traffic in both directions.  They were both still wearing spotted coats, though one looked to be half a size bigger than the other.  I didn’t see mom; presumably she was at the front of the line, trusting that her little ones would keep up.

I can’t remember when we’ve had so many babies in town.  Perhaps our year of sheltering convinced the Mama Deer People that it’s a safe, quiet area for bringing up little ones.  Now that our visitors are back, however, we sure could use a few “Bambis at Play” signs along the road!

 

Contemplating “Everyday” Secrets

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

Tucker holds two halves of an alder limb – Photo by Steve McCormick

Every once in a while, we get a look at something not quite meant to be seen — not exactly a secret, but certainly not out there for general viewing and discussion.  Something interesting.  Maybe a curiosity or an oddment never before considered as a possibility for contemplation.  But, once viewed,  a conversation starter for sure.

So it was with part of Tucker’s “Show and  Tell” Friday night.  In addition to the Flicker’s nest, he brought a section of that fallen alder’s branch that had split length-wise.  On one half were a number of small nibs extending outwards; on the matching half were the little holes they had been extracted from.  The tiny points were reddish in color, though Tucker said they were white in the  beginning.

“That’s why they call it red alder,” he said.

“Really?” I asked.

A close-up from Tucker

“Maybe,” he laughed.  “I really don’t know.”  He wondered if they were the baby starts of more branches that would have eventually grown out and made themselves known.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if these halves were from the dead tree that had hosted the Flickers’ construction or if it was from a living part of the tree that blew down.  Where was Jon Fagerland or one of the other arborists we know to give us some answers?  Or a maybe a logger would know…  But we didn’t have anyone handy just then.

Once again, I amazed at what’s out there, unseen.  Things never  even considered in our daily treks through the world.  Or at least not in mine.