Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Do I need to give up on the C.O. too?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Such A Tempting Posture

I’m beginning to think I want to be an ostrich when I grow up.  There is something to be said for sticking your head in the sand when the going gets tough.  Actually, I guess I did do that to some extent twenty some years ago when I retired and vowed never to watch the nightly news again.  I’ve pretty much kept that vow and as far as I can tell have saved myself a lot of angst.

My reasons were many-fold, but mostly I found that the national and international news was mega-depressing and that I really couldn’t make a difference no matter what I did.  I decided that I’d rather focus on our local community and try to do something that 1) I enjoy and 2) had at least the possibility of making a positive impact on a few folks beyond my immediate sphere of influence.

So, I put my energies toward researching our local history and writing about it and making it available, at least as much as I could, to others who might be interested.  That desire spawned seventeen or eighteen books, a number of newspaper and magazine articles and, best of all, the seeds of the CPHM’s Community Historian Project.  Yay!

A Role Model Perhaps???

But… when I read (with heavy heart) yesterday’s local paper — our esteemed Chinook Observer — I felt myself sinking into the doldrums once again.  Too many negatives — the Weyco Strike, county-backed housing at the expense of open space, new Covid deaths, clam dig cancelled, mortgage rates rising, new gimongous airport threatening farmland… and on it went.  And… what can I do about it?

Write a letter?  Ten letters?  Join a protest march?  Put a sign in my yard?  Sorry.  Been there done that.  Many times.  I think it’s time for the next generation — actually those who were born several generations after my peers and I were struggling to be heard. But wait.    Aren’t those the “future leaders” who were raised on Saturday morning cartoons?  And we wonder why we’re in trouble…

 Super Heroes to the Rescue?

Meanwhile… each Wednesday I’ll continue pulling my head out of this Peninsula sand dune we live on — just for a moment —  in case something positively positive and unexpected happens.  I don’t have high hopes.


At Two (Or More) With Modern Times

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

I can’t say I was ever a great letter-writer.  Or even an inveterate telephone-caller.  And definitely not a telegram-sender.  But I did know how to do all of those things and was probably about a five on a scale of one-to-ten, communication-wise.  So you’d think that being able to use a single device and be in touch with people around the world almost instantly would be a no brainer,  You’d think.

But, now that I have untethered myself from my landline,  I’m finding that the learning curve for keeping in touch and up to date has steepened.  Just this morning, for instance, I finally figured out how to access the voice mails on my cell phone.  In fact, it was just a day or so ago that I even noticed there was such a possibility,  And here people have been leaving me messages right and left!

If you are one of those, I’m so sorry.  Except if you are one of those who doesn’t have a name attached to your phone number and who doesn’t identify yourself in a voice mail.  Then I’m purely flummoxed.

I discovered one such message from a pleasant sounding woman who tried to contact me on August 20th.  Her voice didn’t sound familiar and the phone number… well, I don’t do numbers very well.  It took me a looong time just to learn my own cell number…  I certainly haven’t memorized anyone else’s. Had I been more savvy by then, I guess I could have called and said, “Who are you?” though it seems rude, or awkward at the very least.

Anyway, too late now.  I blipped out all those old messages and will try to do better in the future voice-mail-wise.  But… I can’t help wondering what else I’m missing.  Though truth be told, the jury is out as to whether I even want to know.


Help me to understand…

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Today my mail brought a promotion from the Bank of Pacific — “Time to choose Your Favorite!” it said, the choices being “a $5.00 downloadable treat” from Barnes & Noble or or Google Play.  Really?  A whole five dollars for “using your Bank of the Pacific Debit Card?”  And there were instructions about how to enter my reward code yada yada yada.

So I called the number and asked a simple question of the gentleman who answered the phone: “Why?”  He had no idea.  But he was prepared to help me get my reward, you betcha.  “No thank you,” said I.  So I called the BoP’s Customer Service and repeated my question.  The answer involved something about my usage (presumably high) of my debit card.

“If anything, I’ve used it less than usual,” I pointed out.  “Well, let’s see… What is your date of birth?” And after a bit she came back and  said, “Well, I really don’t see that your usage is…”  I explained that my “Why” question was really “Why is the bank doing this?”  And I went on to ask, “Isn’t the purpose of the bank to keep my assets secure?  And are the funds you are using to purchase and give away these gift cards actually the money the bank generates from your depositors?  Like me?”

“Well… ” she began… And I cut her a little slack.  “I know that you don’t make these decisions and I really don’t want to talk to the people who do.  Not unless they would consider giving incentives in another way — like increasing the interest rate on my savings account.  I really don’t need them directing my “buying habits.”

The call ended on a fairly positive note.  I think.  The nice young woman gave me a chance to vent and maybe — just maybe– she’ll mention my call to someone who will listen.  I told her my name twice, just in case anyone wanted to set me straight.  (Or increase my interest payments.)

The whole thing is right up there with my mystification years ago that the BoP took their staff on an overnight Christmas shopping spree to Portland.  Right in the dead of winter.  When all of us merchants were struggling to get folks to “BuyLocal.”

Go figure.  I’m not using my gift certificates, thank you.  It just doesn’t sit right, somehow.  And, come to think of it, none of those gift cards are “BuyLocal” either.

Doncha think it’s scary the way…

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

…the cars and trucks barrel-ass along Territory Road here in Oysterville? Twenty-five miles per hour the sign says as you turn into town.  I don’t think so.  That hasn’t happened in a long, long time.  It’s more like forty or forty-five and pedestrians beware.  Oh.  And never mind that there are entire patches where we have no verge to  cower on anymore…

And it’s not just the tourists in a hurry to roar through the town with “isn’t it quaint” and “I wonder what there is to do here, anyway:?”  No.  Often, it’s the workmen coming in answer to a call — time is money and all of that.  Sometimes it’s even one of us who lives here, heaven forbid! How important we’ve all become!  How fast we need to get on with it!

Even scarier was the report in the paper about the break-in a few weeks back at our late-neighbor Bud’s.  It took more than an hour for the sheriff to get here but luckily (I guess) the intruders were still in his house.  Armed even.  What possible good would “neighborhood watch” do here, anyway?  “Good Night Nurse!” as my mother used to say!

Meanwhile, we are kept well-distracted (no pun intended) by water quality worries and by tsunami preparations and by rinky-dink rules and regulations that we can’t seem to change no matter how many tons of garbage the fireworks nitwits leave on our beach.  Our elected officials say their hands are tied and, even worse, no one at all wants to run against them in the upcoming election.  Would you?

I, for one, think we’re in a scary place down here at the grass roots.  I probably shouldn’t have gone out of the chicken biz.  You never could tell with chickens but they did seem a bit more grounded than most of the human flock I’m seeing.  Go figure.



And there was Mario, looking back at me!

Monday, August 1st, 2022

It took just a few seconds before I did a double take!  Barbara Bate had handed me a flyer about a Community Awareness Dinner but it wasn’t until I took note of the face and saw the words “Featuring speaker Mario Rodriguez” that I yelled, “Hooray!”

Well, probably not out loud.  We were at the Oysterville Church waiting for Vespers to begin yesterday when the information registered!  On August 16th (a Tuesday) after a free (!) dinner at the Senior Center, Mario is going to talk about “Holding Hope through Difficult Times.”  I can’t imagine anyone  more qualified to speak on that topic!

Mario — a man I had first met via telephone back in 2017 when he was in prison — arrested by ICE right in the parking lot of the Long Beach Post Office.
Mario —  whose voice came over the phone from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma directly to Emanuel Hospital in Portland where I was visiting my very ill husband..
Mario — for twelve years a bilingual educator at Ilwaco High School. “I worked with families, too.  I visited homes, helping wherever I could.  Sometimes I met family members at the clinic to help translate during medical appointments.  Whatever was needed.”
Mario — one of the many immigrants from our Peninsula who I featured in my “Stories From the Heart” for the Chinook Observer — a series later nominated for the Pulitzer and that, still later, spawned national and international TV coverage and a New York Times Magazine article.

From McKenzie Funk’s 2019 NYT Magazine article

Since his release from prison a few months later,  I’ve visited with Mario now and then.  He’s working with an attorney, has been to court (a time or two I think), has continued to work in our community — though not, as far as I know in the schools. And, apparently, he still holds hope that he can become a citizen here in this country where he may be able to fulfill his wish — to get back into education so he can help…

The dinner is sponsored by Peace of Mind Pacific County in cooperation with Pacific County Immigrant Support, Pacific County Voicrss Uniting, and Peninsula Poverty Response.  I emailed for my reservation to the dinner for, although it is free, space is limited.  Hope to see you there, too!

The First (but not the last) Deja Vu

Saturday, July 30th, 2022

Peninsula Saddle Club Logo

This was Cowboy Breakfast morning at the Long Beach Rodeo Grounds — the first one I’d been to since BC (Before Covid) and the first “traditional” outing that I’ve always shared previously with Nyel.  We had gone every year that I can remember, Nyel dressed in his cowboy duds and describing himself as “all hat and no horse!”

This time I went as Tucker and Carol’s guest and the morning was full of deja vu!  For one thing, there were Judy Eron and Charlie Watkins of “Double J and the Boys” renown — both in full cowboy regalia and cooking up a storm behind the serving counter.  I was able to tell Charlie (the egg man!) “no runny parts” on my fried egg and he did it up “extra crispy” just like always!

Cranberry Cowgirl Duo, Ardell and Carolyn

“Little” Guy Glenn was flipping flapjacks, as usual, and I marvelled again at how long ago he’d been a third grader in my classroom.  (Or was he?  Neither of us quite remember… Maybe it was his sister, Carrie, and Guy was just the wannabe younger brother???)  His folks were next to us in line and over at a nearby table were Malcolm and Ardell MacPhail.  It felt like Old Home Week.

In fact, there were many familiar faces in the crowded room.  And, in that treasured Peninsula small-world way, the young man who found a seat next to Tucker turned out to be Charlie Watkin’s grandson, here on the Peninsula from North Bend with his family.  How fun!

And, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who was “seeing” people from past Cowboy Breakfasts — Nyel, Gordon and Roy, Florence and Azmi, my cowboy cousin Brad Pearson, Nyel some more — so many people that seemed to be enjoying the morning just out of sight.

Nyel After The Cowboy Breakfast, 2014

Once again, I felt our community’s greater dimension.   I love knowing that we are not solely the total of everyone who lives here now, but the sum of all who have lived here before us, as well.  Whether or not we knew them or have even heard their names, they had a part in the legacy we continue to share.  Lucky us!

“No worries. It happens all the time!”

Monday, July 25th, 2022

My Aunt Medora (1915) after whom I was named

As I looked at a copy of Nyel’s death certificate before I sent it off in response to yet another bureaucratic request, the name “Muriel” popped out at me.  Yes, that was Nyel’s mother’s first name.  But it is NOT my middle name, though this “official” document said, officially, that it was.

No.  My middle name is Medora, after my mother’s oldest sister.  Ironically, another of my mother’s sisters was named Muriel (although we always called her Mona).  But I was not named for her.  And, truth to tell, I like the name Medora better,

My Aunt Muriel “Mona” (circa 1920) after whom I was NOT named

And as I continued to look at the document — very carefully, now — I saw that the” name of the surviving spouse” (that would be me) was Sydney Medora Little.  But wait!  That was my maiden name  Shouldn’t “surviving spouse” reflect my married name?  Apparently not.  I was told later that it is actually correct as is.  “They” do want your maiden name…  Go figure.

The ways of bureaucracy continue to confound me.  Thank goodness for the kindness of people along the way.  Like Eric Andersen, the new-ish owner of Pentilla’s Chapel by the Sea.  He is always reassuring, sympathetic, and willing to help this confused old lady — and probably every other person who becomes gobsmacked by the intracacies of the State’s requirements.  Or the County’s.  Or maybe the Nation’s.

I can’t help but wonder who will birddog the paperwork when it’s my turn to leave this mortal coil.  Fortunately, I doubt that I’ll be too conderned about it when the time comes…


Ken or Mayim or something else?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Mayim Bialik, Jeopardy Host Wannabe

I’m sorta sick of all the hype about Jeopardy — who will be the permanent host, how the fans feel, what the producers think, what the sponsors say and on and on, ad nauseum.  I used to enjoy watching the show — before it became more about Alex Trebek and less about a fun game of trivia facts.  With Trebek’s death, the show’s promoters have taken the hosting question far more seriously than the game, itself.  Or so it seems to me.

In fact, I wish we could get an inside look at who the writers are these days.  Surely it’s a different team that’s coming up with the categories and the questions which range from the ridiculous to the impossible.  There’s not much middle ground.  And what about the judges?  They let questionable or even wrong answers slide but get picky over pronunciation.  Inconsistency is the by-word.

If the controversy and the hype and the constant yammering about what the fans want continues for much longer, I think I’ll opt out altogether.  “Too much already,” say I.  In fact, the other night I watched bland old Wheel of Fortune and you know what?  It was sorta restful and way more fun than Jeopardy has been lately.  Pat and Vanna were predictable.  The contestants were interested in playing the game.  The game, itself, was just the right mix of fun and challenge.

Ken Jennings, Trebek’s Choice for Host?

So… maybe Jeopardy has run its course.  Maybe the producers got too hungry.  Maybe they forgot that games are for playing and for having fun…  This particular fan doesn’t really care if it’s Ken or Mayim or Donald Duck.  Let’s just get on with it before it’s not worth the effort.  If any of you readers are Jeopardy fans, I’d like to hear your take on the current situation.  Maybe I’m expecting too much.  Or maybe not enough…

I do a lot of thinking when…

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Sometimes the Recycling Center is less than inviting.

I went to the recycling center today — the one nearest me, in Nahcotta.  It was clean as a whistle and there was no one there except a man in a Peninsula Sanitation truck who appeared to be taking a break of some sort.  I don’t dislike recycling, but I can’t say I love it, either.

A Sunrise on Willapa Bay – June 9, 2015

Mostly, it puts me in mind of being a second class citizen.  No curbside recycling collections for us.  And, it goes without saying, that we need to pre-sort; it doesn’t all go into the same bin.  Not so in the more urban areas.  As with many such things, we rural residents are on the second-class citizen lineup.

Curbside?? Where?

Trade-offs?  Of course.  Great weather events almost daily — sunrises, sunsets, rainbows over the bay, whippy winds and pelting hail.  We get a little of everything as the year rolls ’round.  And even better than the smiling bounty of Mother Nature — the ability to absolutely count on knowing someone no matter where you go — to the post office, the store, the newest pizza joint in town.  It’s a given — there’s always a friendly face. a smile, maybe even a hug.

Wolf Moon – January 2, 2018

But, it seems to me that “rural” no longer has to mean 2nd class citizen.  Basic amenities such a up-to-date garbage collection, high speed internet, healthy drinking water and a power supply you can count on should be available to all of us by now.  At least that’s what I think when I’m pitching aluminum can after aluminum can into the slot of the recycle bin.  It’s almost enough to make me give up V-8 juice!  Almost.

Can hope exist without memory?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

“Happy 96th!” Sydney and Mom, 2007

Some years back, when my mother was still living at the nursing home up at the west end of Pioneer Road, we had an incident which I’ve never forgotten,  Nor have I ever quite come to an understanding of it.

It was one of those pouring down January evenings — cold, pitch black, but not yet dinner time.  Nyel and I had gone to pick up mom and take her home for fried oysters or clam chowder or another of her favorites — I’ve sort of forgotten.

Mom looks at Dear Medora with Nyel, 2007

She was smiling as the nurse’s aide brought her outside and she stood with me patiently under the overhang as Nyel brought the car as close to us as possible .  He leaned over, opened the passenger door, and  I quickly manuevered her into the car.  But not quite quickly enough.

As soon as the rain hit her face, she began to scream.  And then to cry.  “It’s okay, Mama!” I kept saying.  “Get in the car.  It’s okay.”  But she was terrified.  It was cold.  It was wet.  And she had no idea what it was or what was happening to her.

We all — Nyel and I and the aide — understood that she did not “recognize” the rain — had no memory of it.  Or of much else.  And when I kept repeating, “It will be all right,” those words had no meaning either.

Once in the car, of course, she began to calm down. And soon all was well. When we got home, Nyel cleverly drove directly into the garage and we were able to get her into the house without going back out into the rain.  But I’ve never forgotten her fright.  Nor have I ever forgotten the realization that without memory, there can be no hope.

By Thomas Bulfinch, 1867

Last night, I re-read the story of Pandora and her box (or jar as the story is related in Bulfinch’s Mythology). When “she slipped off the cover and looked in, forwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man — such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind…”  Only hope was left at the bottom of the jar…

No mention is made of memory, at least not in the story of Pandora and her jar.  And when Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, is spoken about later (as mother of the nine muses) there is no connection made between memory and hope.  I’m sure that must have been an oversight…