Archive for the ‘Country Living’ Category

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.

Place of the Yellow-Hammers

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

Flicker Nest — Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

My grandfather named this house “Tsako-Te-Hahsh-Eetle” which, he said, meant two things:  “place of the red-topped grass” and “place of the yellow-hammers.”  The name is Papa’s rendition of the Chinook jargon that he and his boyhood Indian friends spoke in the 1870s and 1880s.  It is not the name of this house in particular, but the name that this entire area at the Peninsula’s north end was called.

Flicker Nest Lit From Within by Flashlight – Photo by Steve McCormick

Last night we were able to see “up close and personal” what the real home of a yellow-hammer (which we call the red-shafted-flicker) looks like.  Tucker brought a part of the dead tree that Chris took down the other day– the part that had the beginnings of a flicker’s nest.  “He didn’t know it was there,” Tucker said.  But, as it turned out, Tucker had seen and heard that flicker hard at work several days previously.  My feeling of sadness almost overwhelmed my interest in a “teachable” (or maybe a “learnable”) moment.  Almost.

All of us Friday Nighters were amazed at the precision of the hole — perfectly round and absolutely smooth inside — an ideal nursery for raising a flock of 7 to 9 babies.  According to the experts, both Mom and Dad Flicker work on nest conconstruction and, during the 11-12 day incubation period, Dad takes the night shift, Mom the day.

Red Shafted Flicker

As for the tap-tap-tapping we often hear at this time of year — it’s the mating call and delineation of territory that’s happening– unless it’s nest-building.  Contrary to popular belief, Red Shafted Flickers feed mostly on the ground — they love ants! —  unlike some woodpeckers who actually listen for grubs and larvae inside of trees and then peck away to get at them.

However, there is confusion about the “yellow” part of their jargon name — I wish Papa was around to ask.  I’ve always assumed it referred to their beaks but, a close look reveals gray/black, not yellow.  Go figure.  Or maybe all beaks were called “yellow” in jargon…

Where is that damned fairy godmother?

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Yesterday Nyel and I — sometimes separately and sometimes together — spent seven f***ing hours on the telephone trying to solve Cinderella’s broken heart.  First we spoke with her Mother Ship; then with the Mother Ship’s Controller.  That took three hours.  They needed us to find out some information about our modem and its firewalls.  That required several phone calls to CenturyLink who was the supplier of our Modem and our internet service.  Need I say more?  But… just in case you don’t realize… here in the greater downtown rural center of things, CenturyLink is the only show in town landline-wise , and for medical reasons – see below — we need the landline.

Proudly CenturyLink’s robotic voice told us how they are completely automated now but… if we needed to talk to a representative, just say “representative” at any time.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many different responses that got us — including several complete hang-ups,  a robotic question “I understand you want to speak with a representative” followed by several more minutes of automated voice and THEN a hang-up.  ad-nauseum.

When we finally got a live CenturyLink voice and told her our problem, she asked a number of questions about our question — as in what exactly did we need to know about the firewalls (which we had already told her) and why did we need to know etc. etc.  We answered each question to the best of our ability — several times.  Finally, after more due deliberation, she said, “Your modem does not have any firewalls.”  “Then why,” asked my ever-patient husband, “are the Roomba people asking us to find out about them?”  Would you believe… another hang up!

At one point, I was on hold with my faithful cell phone, hearing over and over and yet again over, “Your call is very important to us.”  After forty-four minutes and constant repeats of my call’s importance, they hung up. Apparently the call wasn’t THAT important.

Cinderella Stuck on her Home Base

We would cut our CenturyLink connection in a nano-second but Nyel’s daily CardioMems* report is sent each morning via our landline.  CenturyLink is the only show in town.  And that report, literally, is a lifeline for him.  Need I tell you how very scary it is that said lifeline depends upon CenturyLink?  I wonder if there are T Shirts that say Rural Lives Matter.  Probably not.  And, in case you are wondering, Cinderella’s problem has not yet been fixed.  Actually… not even diagnosed as far as we can tell.  But then, after 24 hours, our internet access is still intermittent so perhaps the Fairy Godmother hasn’t been able to wave her magic wand yet…

*A CardioMEMS device is implanted in Nyel’s pulmonary artery via a short, femoral vein access cath procedure. It measures changes in pulmonary artery pressure, which are a surrogate measure for fluid retention in the lungs due to worsening heart failure conditions.

Speaking of local color…

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Finally!  Those recalcitrant mastershalums are blooming!  And everything else is, too.  I love it!  Even though there’s always something to be done around the edges, the blossoms hither and thither take my mind off the needy spots!

September Dahlias in July!

The dahlias, bless their pointy little heads, are earlier than ever.  I wonder if it’s part of Mother Nature’s nourishment formula —  giving us something beautiful to carry us through these ugly times we are enduring.  I’m not one to think that there has been some grand plan afoot since the beginning of time, but it is interesting that in this bleakest and scariest of summers our gardens flourish and soothe our souls.

Tostada with Rice and Salsa

Tostada with Rice and Salsa

Our garden isn’t the only colorful location in this particular sheltering spot.  The kitchen table at any given mealtime is a sight to behold.  Usually, I’m so eager to tuck into whatever Nyel is offering, I don’t give a thought to the photo opportunities right in front of me.  Friday’s tostada dinner called out “photo op” just in time!

For all the worries and scary parts of right now, it’s reassuring to look a little more closely right here at home.  We count our blessings every day and pray that we all reach November intact.