Archive for the ‘Country Living’ Category

Deer and Daffodils Everywhere You Look!

Saturday, March 23rd, 2024

In the southwest corner of our garden.

The sun shines betwixt and between scattered showers.  The peepers are peeping out in the bogs and the geese and ducks are honking and quacking as they fly overhead.  And just in case you doubted the season, daffodils are everywhere.  And so are the deer.

The other day as I was driving from Nahcotta to Oysterville,  I pulled over as five (count ’em! five!) lovely doe people crossed the road in front of me.  They moved in their usual leisurely fashion and the only forewarning I had that there would be a third and then a fourth and a fifth was that the first didn’t wait for the second one and that second one wasn’t a young’un.  They were all grownup lady deer, ambling slowly, oh so slowly, across the road.

Too, more than once I’ve had to stop as I went up Wiegardt’s Hill headed for Ocean Park.   Fortunately, everyone coming and going has slowed and then waited, too There is no “Deer Crossing” sign, but the locals know.  And… while we wait (usually for only one or two in that spot) we can enjoy the bright daffodils that the Ocean Park Village Club and Tom Downer have planted along the walking path on the north side of the road.

Deer Sign on the Camellia

So far, I have seen plenty of deer sign and nibbled camellia leaves in my garden… but no deer people.  They must know when I’m otherwise occupied.  I do love to see them, but I don’t love the havoc they leave behind!  And, will I have any roses at all this summer?  I’m thinking that there are other delicious morsels coming out in the woods around town about now — but I don’t know how to convince our visitors to choose those over our garden plantings.

Thank goodness, though, that they aren’t interested in rhododendrons or poppies or peonies or daffodils or… as far as I know — nasturtiums or lilies.  At least, they leave some of my favorites alone.  More or less.

I’ve never thought of myself as a screamer…

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

… but then I don’t think I’ve ever had much occasion for screaming.  Thank goodness!  The other day, though, I startled myself with my unexpected reaction — twice! — to seeing a squirrel (maybe) run across my pantry and then, again, across the storage area next to our garage. The downside:  I think those unexpected screams startled me more than the critter.  The upside (possibly) is that he/she/it/they/ seem to be gone.

I’m not for certain-sure just what sort of varmint it was.  It didn’t run along on all fours, hugging the wall like mice are apt to do.  And it was WAY bigger than a mouse.  And it didn’t run hell-bent-for-election and sort of hunkered down like I think of rats moving when startled.  But it was as big as a rat and my impression was that it was fairly dark in color and had a fluffy tail.  The biggest give-away, though, was that it went lippety-lippety — sort of leaping along with a vertical-motion-on-fast-forward.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a squirrel run in a straight line.  Usually, there’s a tree nearby and they lippety-lip over and up as quick as a wink.  But, once I gathered my wits, I was pretty sure it was a small squirrel  — one more terrified of me (and my scream) than I was of her/him/it/them. I closed the doors behind me (in the direction of the main part of the house) and opened the store room door leading to the garage AND opened the garage door, too.  Then I called Tucker.

He, of course, was in the middle of a gathering at the schoolhouse (where I should have been but had completely forgotten…) but said he’d be over with a couple of live traps a little later.  We baited them with peanut butter and set one in the garage and one in the store room.  That was Saturday.  So far… no critters  Also so far, I knock on the doors before opening them (feeling a little demented as I do so.)  If someone is going go lippety-lippety, I prefer it done before I enter their territory.  Hearing myself scream is terrifying!

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.

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.