Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

It was the heat what done ’em in!

Monday, July 26th, 2021

Marta and the Internet

For several weeks now, in the case of our internet access, download speeds, upload speeds and what have you, we’ve been in a world of hurt.  Finally, today Mark-the-Magician was sent by CenturyLink to have a look at our wiring, inside and outside.  And now, once again, all is right with the world.  The reason for major meltdowns at our house and in many other places on the coast was the hot weather we had a few weeks ago.  Apparently, the temperatures in some of the equipment kiosks reached 140° — enough to cause major damage and fall-out.   As in lucky us!  (Oh.  And did I mention the dead bats?  None in any of Mark’s kiosks but, apparently, a problem in others.  Heat prostration.)

Somehow, listening to the woes of the internet infrastructure put me in mind of “My Fair Lady” and “the gin what did her in.”  So with apologies to Eliza Doolittle and Company, who knew it would be the heat what done in our internet service?  “We just don’t expect heat like that here on the coast,” Mark said, “so we don’t have air conditioners in the kiosks.”  Understandable.

Little Brown Bats — Heat Sensitive

I was pleased to see that Marta — who is here visiting from the SF Bay Area — was incensed that the problem can’t be solved.  “But why not?” she insisted.  “If you were in a city area, it would have been fixed long ago.” I tried to explain that that’s the point exactly.  “We are rural-to-the-max and there’s no way we’ll ever have enough population (read: money) to warrant correcting this issue.”
“But that’s so unfair,” she said.  “Welcome to our world, said I.  “You’ve got PG&E where you live; we have CenturyLink…”

I don’t know exactly what magic Mark performed, but within a trice I was able to turn in the last of my Vespers article for day-after-tomorrow’s paper.  I hope it wasn’t too late…

The thing about chickens and watermelons…

Monday, July 5th, 2021

According to my Kuzzin Kris, the best part of watermelons are the black seeds.   “These wimpy seedless watermelons are no fun at all,” she told me not too long ago.  That’s because the entire point of watermelons are the seed-spitting contests!  Which she also believes every kid should learn about before they start losing their teeth.

I wish I’d known Kris a bit better when I was younger.  I grew up, much to the misplaced envy of others, an only child.  That meant watermelon was served on a plate with a fork and with several paper napkins.  Keeping the sticky juice off your hands and face and the tablecloth seemed to be what eating watermelons were all about.  I didn’t see the point.  Not much payoff.  I’d rather cool off with a glass of lemonade, thank you.

Of course, all of our watermelons had seeds in those days.  They were simply an annoyance.  I sure do wish I’d been a little younger and had known Kuzzin Kris and her seed-spittin’ comrades a lot better.  It might have changed my whole attitude about hot weather fun.

Now it seems a bit late.  And besides, we usually don’t have a choice — seedless is it.  Last night we saved all the rinds for this morning’s  chicken treats.  They gave a few desultory pecks and followed me back to the house.  Hoping for cracked corn.  Can’t say I blame  them.  It’s probably a sweet versus savory thing and they definitely prefer the cracked corn and meal worms  over watermelon.

I don’t even think the ones with seeds would help.  Chickens really don’t spit well.

The Long Agos and The Short Agos

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

When four-year-old Christian Hawes told his his Uncle Dick, “It’s not the long-agos that are hard to remember; it’s the short-agos”  I knew exactly what he meant.  But Christian is older now — maybe in his late thirties? — and we might be a bit older, too.  Though I hate to admit it, the long-agos and short-agos are beginning to blend together.

So, it was with particular delight that Nyel and I recently reviewed the scrapbooks from the sixteen years of our Annual Oysterville Champagne and Croquet Galas.  The first noteworthy thing was the sixteen (count ’em: one-six) years.  For at least a decade both of us have thought we put those galas on for twenty years.  WRONG.  Anyway you slice it, 1985 to 2000 made sixteen and we have the registrations, the score cards, the pictures, the news reports, and the scrapbooks to prove it.

How slim we all were way back then!  How un-gray and how lithe and athletic.   And energetic!  For the most part, Nyel and I did the work ourselves.  We laid out the courts, put up the tent (loaned each year by Noreen Robinson), schlepped the champagne (donated yearly by Jack’s), sent out the invitations, registered the teams, asked friends to be judges and my uncle Willard to act as Master of Ceremony.  Whatever non-profit was the beneficiary was asked to provide finger foods (always fabulous!) and the guests (who had each donated $20 toward the benefitting non-profit) came in whatever they deemed was an appropriate croquet costume. The setting was my folks’ place (now ours) in Oysterville and, often, Willard and Louise Espy hosted a potluck picnic at their Red Cottage afterwards.

There was, of course, the trophy which “lived” at the Heron and Beaver Pub at the Shelburne. Our festivities began the night before the Croquet Gala (always held on the Sunday following Labor Day) with the traditional “stealing of the trophy” from Tony Kischner so that it could be presented to the winning team the next day  Over the years, the Saturday night event gathered enough followers of its own that Tony had to have us sit in the garden area outside to leave room for other pub customers.

Sadly, one of the scrapbooks will probably have to be discarded.  It was the victim of a 1992 water heater disaster and, though I plan to work on it a bit, I don’t know if it will be worth turning over to the Heritage Museum with the others.  Some long-agos will just have to be remembered without benefit of visual aids!  Perhaps, if Christian’s theory was correct, the longer we wait, the better we will recall those badly damaged 1994-1996 years…  We can but hope!



It went by in a flash…

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

Doncha hate it when you see something online for just a fleeting moment and then you can’t find it again?  That happened to me recently when I was trying to Google something on my cell phone.  Up popped a rather confused collage which seemed to be headed with a misspelling of my name — SYNDEY STEVENS (in big blue letters) — followed by excerpts from my various Oysterville Daybook entries.

Before I could take a good look at the “site” (if that is what it was), it disappeared from the screen and, try as I might, I’ve not been able to find it again.  Disconcerting to say the least.  Is there a dyslexic person posing as me?  Why would someone repost my blogs under a misspelled name?  I’m sure my mother would have told me that imitation (or in this case, mimicry) is the sincerest form of flattery.  Or is it plagiarism?

And, the bigger question is:  what besides the spelling of my name was changed?  As a writer interested in history, I would like to feel that my blogs will “forever” be available from out there in cyberspace as they were written.  Not that I haven’t made mistakes of my own — some of which I’ve managed to correct, but probably not all.  But, I don’t like to think that someone is messing with my words as well as with my name.

I imagine others have had similar experiences.  I commiserate fully!

Speaking of holidays…

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

American Flag in front of The White House in Washington D.C. 

As of yesterday, we (the U.S. of A.) has 11 Federal Holidays!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
  • Presidents Day (Washington’s Birthday)
  • Memorial Day (Decoration Day)
  • Juneteenth
  • 4th of July (Independence Day)
  • Labor Day
  • “Columbus Day” (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Veterans Day (Armistice Day)
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

“That’s quite a many,” as my mother used to say!  Especially considering that, in her youth, Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day), Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Juneteenth did not exist.  The first four to be created (in 1870) were New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day, and Independence Day.  We’ve been adding one or two every few decades ever since.

In Ancient Rome Every Other Day Was An Official Holiday

Still, it is reassuring to know that we don’t yet approach the number of holidays that ancient Rome celebrated — more than half of their calendar year, according to some scholars!  One wonders how they got on with the business at hand…  Oh!  That’s right, they didn’t.  Rome fell in 476 AD.  They lasted from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD — or about 1,000 years.

Lest you worry, it looks like we may have a few holidays and a few centuries to go.



Never mind the calendar — IT’S SUMMER!

Monday, June 14th, 2021
The Heckes Place, 1920s

The Heces Boarding House in Oysterville was busy during the summers in the 1930s and ’40s.

It used to be that you could tell it was summertime when “the beach filled up”  — a phrase meant that all the summer homes and boarding houses were full of people who had come for “the season.”  Nowadays, with mobility and telecommuting and year-round tourism such as they are, it’s harder to see that line of demarkation between the seasons.  Lately, I’m finding it’s the recycling centers that give the best clue.

Last Friday I went to our nearest recycling center (Nahcotta) with two tubs full of glass and plastic.  There was still room in the container for glass — barely.  But the plastics container was full to the brim.  At one time I thought Peninsula Sanitation emptied those big containers on Thursday, but maybe not anymore.  Surely by Friday morning there should still have been some space.  But maybe the pick-up day has changed or maybe there are just more recyclers making use of the service.  If that’s the case… hooray!  Or maybe the beach has filled up even though official summer is yet a week away.

August 2, 1949 — Clam Chowder served at Dedication of the Ocean Park Arch

But, no matter the season, it’s not unusual to find all those big bins full to overflowing and I always wonder why Peninsula Sanitation doesn’t have their “transfer” times posted.  Or I guess that’s what you call the clean-out process.  The Nahcotta center and seven others throughout south county are listed as “Drop Box Recycling” centers on the Peninsula Sanitation Website, but no times are given.

This morning about 9:00 I tried again and found that today was the day!  All drop boxes were closed as the bins were being unloaded into huge black plastic bags and readied for transport.  It was an errand morning for me — returning library books, picking up prescriptions, taking Nyel to OBH for some lab work — so I swung by the Long Beach Recycle Center and found it ready and waiting for my plastics — and anything else, for that matter!  Yay!  Had I known, I’d  have brought the cans and cardboard, as well.

So… I wonder if Monday is always clean-out day now.  And is it in addition to Thursday?  And are there other days?  I should’ve asked…


Mrs. Crouch, are you at it again?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

Hot Water Faucet Yeilds Only Cold Water

Tricky arrived on Tuesday afternoon and left Thursday morning.  He was our first house guest in over a year — actually since (we think) the Milt Williams/Barbara Bate House Concert on February 9, 2020.  No one has stayed upstairs since then, so when Tricky said on Wednesday morning that there didn’t seem to be any hot water, we were a bit flummoxed.

We do have a dedicated upstairs water heater.  And there have been times (mostly when we have an attack of the cheaps) that we have flipped its circuit breaker so it isn’t using any electricity and, of course, isn’t creating any hot water.  But it’s been years since we’ve done that.

And besides… the circuit breakers for the upstairs are located in an impossible-to-reach location requiring a ladder or a tall step stool.  Since Nyel can no longer get upstairs and I go up unwillingly and have not gone on ladder or step-stool for at least five years…  And since Tricky is pretty sure there was hot water the last time he was here and is also pretty sure he didn’t flip that breaker switch…

Circuit Breaker Box

Last night we asked our much younger and more agile friend Charlie (who was here for “Friday Night” )if he’d check the breaker switch.  Up those killer stairs he went (like a young gazelle!) and… “Yep!”  It had been tripped.  He switched it back to the ON position and this morning I went up and turned on the hot water  Nada!  We don’t know if the circuit breaker switched off again or if the water heater, itself, is defunct…  Damn!

We have concluded that we might have a problem.  But… it’s never simple, is it?  We have four house guests coming June 1st and another 9 coming on June 7th.  Hot water is a must.  (Not everyone says, “No problem.  A quick cold shower is just fine!”)  So we have a call into the plumber for starters.

Never mind that we will be in Seattle at the UW Medical Clinic on Monday to check out Nyel’s heart.  And never mind that he may need to be admitted to the hospital for a few days (or more) so we don’t know exactly when we’ll be coming home.  We are counting on Carol and Tucker coming to the rescue but we already know that they’ll be gone on Monday, as well.

In some ways, it might have been easier before electricity came to Oysterville in 1936…  Or maybe even before Mrs. C came in 1902.

When Push Comes To Shove

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

Sometime priorities fall into place without much thought at all.  Yesterday was a fine example.  And, it’s not that I have second thoughts about the choices we made, nor any regrets.  Not exactly, anyway.

It all began a few nights ago when we couldn’t get out trusty TV to show us Jeopardy — which, by the way, I am rapidly becoming disenchanted with, anyway, now that their “quality control” seems to have died with Mr. Trebec.  In any case, instead of the program, we were treated to a message which said something about no connection with our satellite dish and suggested we check our various connectors. We switched to a Netflix series we’ve been watching and decided to do the Scarlett O’Hara trick — think about it tomorrow.

Tomorrow turned out to be yesterday when our friend Dick Hawes arrived for a visit — first one since our pre-Covid concert with Milt Williams and Barbara Bate!  It was a gorgeous day, so when Nyel suggested a “waalkabout” in the yard, I suggested that the two of them take the pruning equipment and clear the area around the Direct TV dish.  They did and… voilá!  Television reception is back to normal.

Big and Beautiful

Our garden, however… not so much.  Our beautiful rhododendron looks a bit mis-shapen.  It occurs to me that perhaps if we’d waited a week or two for the blossoms to disappear, the unladen branches would have retreated from the Direct TV dish and we’d have preserved that bit of symmetry for yet another year. Obviously, we didn’t think through our priorities.  Sigh…


About those crotchless panties…

Sunday, May 16th, 2021

I indulged myself in the purchase of a few unmentionables not long ago — actually, these days, I think mentioning them might be old hat, so to speak.  Boy-cut underpants.  Very cute; very comfy.  But after the second or third wearing/washing, my favorite pair began to unravel — right at the crotch!

So far, there are no “break-throughs” so to speak and I am poised to discard them should the problem persist.  Meanwhile, however, I have to say that the situation has caused a few flights of fancy.  As in… are crotchless panties and thongs counterparts?  Do the manufacturers of the unmentionables without all the usual parts save those parts to be used for thongs.

Which brings up another sort of undergarment that I actually find a bit laughable,  And useless.  Though I’ve never had the pleasure.  The closest thong experience I’ve ever had is when I was a skinny little kid and my underwear would ride up in the back.  I think we called them “Indian panties” in those days — which is undoubtedly at the top of some politically incorrect list these days.

Which again makes me wonder.  How can the items on the Frederick’s of Hollywood site (and probably a gazillion others) pass muster when I see that friends on FaceBook have been taken down for the most innocent of word choices — apparently misunderstood by the watchers and censors.

Perhaps these unraveling ruminations of mine will be removed, as well.  It’s hard to tell what the rules are these days.  Where is quality control, anyway?  What are the standards?  Obviously, they are coming apart thread by thread.



What’re the odds?

Monday, May 10th, 2021

1969 Volkswagen Bug

It’s early evening or late afternoon — take your pick.  Five p.m.  I think I’ll just call it “the cocktail hour.”  We’ve just returned from Longview where we spent a long, boring three-and-a-half hours at Bud Cleary’s Subaru Dealership having the air conditioner assembly replaced in our 2017 Forrester.  In simpler terms:  another frickin’ recall.  The second one in our less than four years of Subaru ownership.  What’re the odds.?

2002 PT Cruiser

To amuse ourselves on the way home, Nyel compiled a list of cars that each of us has owned since we became driving age (which adds up to 132 years between the two of us.)   Twenty-three makes in all including:  MG-TC, Mercury, Plymouth, Austin Healey Sprite, Nash Rambler, VW Bug, Kaiser, Chevrolet, MG-A, Porsche, Ford Mustang, Toyota, GMC Pickup, Chrysler LeBaron, BMW, PT Cruiser ,Prius C, Ford Pickup, Dodge Pickup.    Among those makes, we had 4 (at least) VW bugs.  Not a single recall among any of those vehicles — not until the Subaru Forrester.  I repeat… what’re the odds?

2017 Subaru Forester

Nyel says it’s because of all the bells and whistles these days.  Too many things to go wrong.  I say lack of pride/care/smarts in workmanship from the design concept forward.  I’d go back to a Bug in nothing flat if they were still being made…