Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Hooray (mostly) for the rain!

Monday, April 26th, 2021

My Leaky Rain Boots

As everyone knows, the importance of rain boots is keeping your feet dry.  When that function fails… well, what is there to say?

It’s not that my boots are all that old.  Pat Fagerland had a pair that she loved and I asked her where she got them.  I think that was about three years ago.  I sent for a pair to use when I am out in the garden.  But mostly for going back and forth to the chickens through the wet grass.  The grass doesn’t even have to be very long nor does it have to be rainy before the dew-soaked blades force the moisture right in among your toes.  That is, unless you are wearing “proper waterproof gear” as one of my friends calls slickers, sou’westers, and boots.

Howeever… following a chicken run a few days ago, I noticed that my socks were quite damp when I took off my boots.  “Couldn’t be!” I thought.  The next time, I shoved bare (not sock-encased) feet into those boots and, sure enough, I could actually feel the slight trickle of cold water on my toes.  Both feet!  Design flaw?  Factory defect?  Built-in obsolecence?  What the heck?

Clara Mae’s Fantasy

How could both boots fail simultaneously?  Three years might be too long to expect my money back.  Or even a replacement which is what I would prefer.  Pursuing it all seems like more trouble than it’s worth.  Maybe I’ll just settle for  three-years-is-good-enough and order new boots.

But… since when did rubber rain boots become a disposable item? Or does three years exceed the rule for “disposable?”  Life gets complicated for the conscientious — don’t you think?

Oh… and did I mention that the chickens have expressed some Rain Boot Envy on these wet days? I hate to disappoint them but I’m just not sure how to explain why we aren’t investing in rainy day footwear for them after all.

With an Understanding Nod to Tom Lehrer

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Musician Tom Lehrer (r.) and Friend

The gloom and mist of six ayem greeted us as we entered the half-underground parking garage this morning. We could see our car waiting patiently over against the concrete wall.  Several other vehicles were scattered here and there.  They didn’t seem to be the source of the persistent moaning we heard as we hurried along.  Not moans of pain; not  of pleasure.  Just an incessant, hair-raising moan.

“What the hell is that?” I asked Nyel.  I thought how vulnerable we must appear — a gray-haired old lady pushing a white-haired cripple in his wheelchair.  I hoped we weren’t in the middle of something scary.

“Pigeons,” Nyel answered.   Of course.  We had seen them flying in to roost last night as we had driven in.  But this wasn’t cooing.  This was definitely moaning.  Perhaps their night had been no more restful than ours up at the third-floor Sleep Clinic.  Actually, Nyel said he had slept just fine wired up and masked and monitored.  I was the one feeling a bit bleary after a night spent curled on a noisy, leather couch that was jammed halfway under one of those tall hospital rolling tables.  I had the urge to sing Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” — but maybe I could make it “… in the Parking Garage ” instead.

Pigeons At Roost In A Parking Garage

Nyel hoisted himself into the passenger seat and I removed the seat cushion and legs of his wheelchair, collapsed and rolled it around the car to stow behind the driver’s seat.  The pigeons moaned.  We were out of there and arrived home without incident.  As we pulled up to the garage door and prepared to get Nyel out, up walked our neighbor Chris looking like he wanted to talk.  I turned the ignition back on and lowered the window.  We chatted for 15 minutes or so.  Tucker drove by on his way to a doctor’s appointment; Dan S. walked by with a darling new German Shepherd puppy.

When everyone had gone on, I tried to roll up the window.  Nada.  I realized that I had left the key in the ignition and it was turned to the ‘on’ position.  Dead battery.  This time it wasn’t the pigeons moaning.  As Nyel pointed out, “It’s a new damned battery.”

“But,” said I, “It’s a Subaru Forrester — what can I say?  They are known to be battery-guzzlers…”  Some mornings are like that.

“Your input is not valid.”

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

I’m not much on conspiracy theories.  Nor am I overly concerned about “privacy issues” or “transparency” or “truth in advertising.”  I’m pretty much a child of the forties and fifties — just enough skepticism about the world to take seriously “buyer beware” and to avoid speaking with strangers and other good advice.

So, when Nyel and I were speaking with Marta and Charlie the other night on a conference call, I was amazed to have our conversation interrupted (while I was speaking) by a voice that said, “Your input is not valid.”  What the hell????  Nyel and I were both on our landline — I using the handset in my office and Nyel using the handset from the Mother Phone near his desk.  He heard the voice, as did I.  Marta and Charlie did not.

When we explained what he had heard Marta said,  “That happened to me once, too.  Remember?” None of us did;  Marta was the only one who heard it and, although she remarked about it, the episode hadn’t really registered.  Now it has.

So… who is monitoring our calls?  And what does “not valid” mean exactly?  I wish I could remember what the subject matter was.  It was one of those free-ranging conversations — progress on some work Charlie’s having done on his house; East Indian and African cookery that Marta’s friend Jim is into; our gradual re-entry into the social world now that we and many of our friends are totally vaccinated etc.

I asked Nyel just now if he remembered where we were in the conversation.  He said, “I hate to tell you… but I think that message was my fault.  I think I inadvertently pushed a button on the phone and that was the response.”

Oh boy howdy!  I hope so!



They’re Harbingering All Over The Place!

Sunday, March 14th, 2021


The daffy-down-dillies are out in all their glory — even on my dining room table.  There is nothing so fresh, so cheerful, and so just plain hopeful as a bunch of daffodils during these final dreary winter days.

I thought about that this morning when it was the “usual” time for coffee but way too early and dark.  Daylight Savings has arrived!  As I looked at my cheerful bouquet I was thankful that I had raided our daffodil patch and that they were there to greet me on this dark and  drippy day.

Camellias – The Last Bouquet of Winter

It promises to be a stellar week.  Beginning today with a the time change, marching through St. Patrick’s Day midweek and ending with the official beginning of Spring on Saturday, the days will no doubt speed by all too rapidly.  I hope to find time to savor every one of them.  I think it’s my favorite time of year!

Road Trip To Longview

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Subaru Forester

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  We’d been putting off the Subaru airbag recall for more than a year and now that we are “fully vaccinated” why not get on the road, we thought.  And since we have to go all the way back to the dreaded Bud Cleary dealership, why not have a few other things taken care of at the same time, we thought.  Like replace the sideview mirror that I whacked on the garage doorframe, and have the car serviced, too, we thought.

Nyel called.  He made the appointment and explained what we wanted done.  Yesterday was the day.  “Be there at 11,” they said.  “We’ll have you out of here by three.”  The morning dawned sunny with bright blue skies.  We packed a lunch, left at 8:30, looking forward to our first road trip beyond Astoria in well over a year.

As we headed out on highway 30, I set the cruise control for 55 and we began to enjoy the ride — for about 5 minutes.  The traffic was fairly heavy and almost instantly the cars and trucks began passing us.  “Why?” we wondered.  “Where are the cops?” we wondered.  “Have speed limits finally become suggestions only?” we asked one another.  We continued being the only car following said “suggestion.”

Somewhere around  Svenson or Knappa we saw cars parked on both of the road.  We slowed a bit — enough to see the car that had gone over the side  (WAY over the side) to our right.  Maybe one of the cars who had passed us, we thought.  We didn’t stop.  It wasn’t until we were nearing Westport that an Aide Car came barreling toward us.  “Wasn’t that accident closer to Astoria?” we wondered.

Predictably, Bud Cleary did not have our sideview mirror in stock. (Did I make clear that we hate Bud Cleary’s and only go there under duress??) “But we ordered it when we made this appointment.”  A shrug was our response.  On the other hand, we were out of there before two — in plenty of time to stop at the Safeway in Astoria to pick up  a roasted chicken (rosemary/garlic) for dinner.

Road trips, even mini-ones: totally overrated these days.  And why are there so many cars on the road anyway?  Is the pandemic over already? Oh… that’s right.  Traffic around here never did let up.  Or slow down.  Did it?


Suddenly, up came my name over and over.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

My Byline but Not My Writing

Disconcerting and frustrating don’t begin to express it.  This morning I was searching Google for articles by Frank Turner in the old Ilwaco Tribune  and up popped a site called “Muck Rack” with excerpts from article after article by  “Sydney Stevens.”  The problem:  some were by me; some were not.   The ones that were by me seemed to come from the Chinook Observer.  Most were from series I have written during the past few years.  But several that I saw (and I have not yet done an extensive search) are purportedly by someone with the same name and written for a site called  I haven’t checked it out yet.

No, thank you.

But I have taken a look at this “Muck Rack” site.   The home page says: “The all-in-one PR software you’ve been waiting for — A centralized Public Relations Management (PRM) platform to help your team build media relationships, collaborate from anywhere, and measure success.”   And it offers a “Demo.” So I guess it’s some sort of advertisement or “opportunity,” though it doesn’t say so.  And I’m not sure how it targets me, in particular — maybe just because i’m doing the Google search.  Another cyberspace mystery — and not in a good way.

Presumably you can let the site owners know of problems but, try as I might, I could not access them through their little box which gives problem choices (none that fit) to check.  I checked several, anyway, but it appears that the process is an example only — doesn’t go anywhere, so there is no recourse.

Badgers??? Not written by me…

The more I think about it, the more I conclude that it’s a site that can help you find articles by a certain author if he/she has been published on the internet.  I wish the screen that popped up had shown articles by Frank Turner rather than by me and other people named Sydney Stevens.  I might have been interested in exploring further.

I can’t decide if the site presents a good opportunity or not.  If I follow-through enough to find out, I’ll probably be inundated with email messages etc.  from them.  (Ms. Skeptical) Or, be sucked to spending money for something that doesn’t work. (Ms. Frugal) If any readers have used it, I hope they let me know.  (Ms Hopeful)  Also, the name is a bit-off-putting.  Too similar to muckrake which to this author, does not have good connotations at all.  Boo!  Hiss!

The Best Reason To Keep On Keepin’ On…

Friday, March 5th, 2021

It was the BEST birthday ever, but most certainly not in terms of what I did or where I went or who I saw.  I simply sat and sheltered and spent the day “as usual.”  And, while I was doing that (and taking a wee nap in the afternoon) my birthday came to me!

It came by email and snail mail, by text and messaging, on Facebook and through landline and cellphone!  I received hundreds (literally!) of birthday greetings from relatives and friends and even from business acquaintances and from people I might have know once but can’t truly remember now.  It was astounding! And humbling!  And I have no idea of what I can do to tell each of you how appreciative I am!

Suffice it to say “Thank You so much for making 85 the best birthday yet!”  Who’duh thunk it?

Here come #11 and #12! Way to go, Amna!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Amna Amaryllis on February 3, 2021

I’ve always believed that it’s a book that is “a gift that gives on giving. ” However, I’m rethinking that… or at least amending it to include flowering bulbs.

Our waxed amaryllis bulb was given to us by Harry and Linda Schleef almost two months ago — December 8th!  We had the first four blooms in time for Christmas.  The second four came in time for New Years.  Later in January, the third stalk came up and presented us with two more gorgeous red flowers, bringing the total to ten!

Thinking Amna might wish to hear the language of her forefathers, we were just beginning to say “totsiens”  to her.  That’s “good bye” in  Africaans, the official first language of South Africa, native home of the Amaryllis.    But… before I had time to check my pronunciation, up came a FOURTH stalk and now she’s getting ready to birth blossoms number eleven and twelve!  Maybe more!  Hard to believe.

Amna on December 31, 2020

Will there be a thirteen and fourteen?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  I did do a little research to see how many blossoms an amaryllis growing in a waxed bulb might be expected to have.  This is what I found:  Most bulbs produce one or two flowering stalks, each with a cluster of 2 to 14 showy, brightly colored flowers.  Hmmm.  Not descriptive of the experience of this particular amaryllis whose name, you may recall, is Amna.  I gave her that name because I liked the sound of Amna Amaryllis.  As it turns out, Amna is Arabian in origin and means “safe.”

I’m not sure I can connect those dots — Arabian, South African, Oysterville.  And, frankly, who cares!  Right now it’s all about Amna — her beauty and her generosity.  To say nothing of the enjoyment she had given us and continues to bestow!


All Around The Bay To Get Half Way Home

Friday, January 22nd, 2021

Meanwhile… in Sequim on January 15th

When the Pacific County Health Department voice asked if we would be willing to go to South Bend for our Covid-19 vaccination, we said “Sure.”  After all what’s an hour and ten minute drive (56.1 miles) after ten months of sheltering?  It’s not that I’m crazy about that drive around the bay.  But we are hardly in a position to negotiate.

I don’t know how far it is as the crow flies.  I remember when the USPO Department was last threatening to close down Oysterville’s post office and they suggested Bay Center as an alternative to us.  They said it was only 6.4 miles away.  Well… yeah!  As the crow flies.  More like 46.8 miles by road.  We thought briefly of going into the carrier pigeon business to supply mail delivery to the town.  Fortunately we didn’t have to.

I’m not quite sure why we need to go clear to South Bend for our vaccine.  Others we know are getting theirs (or did yesterday and the day before) at the County Offices in Long Beach.  They must have run out of vaccine for the beach,  but wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to bring an additional supply this way instead of having all of us old folks clotting up the roads going that way?  (Oh.  I guess I didn’t mention that although the time to get to South Bend should take under an hour and a quarter, it usually takes me about an hour and a half.  I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to all those curves around the bay…)  I wonder how many of us old ducks will be going that way today?

From “Private Snafu” WW II Cartoon Series by Warner Brothers

But… never mind.  We’ll shortly be on our way.  Once we get this first shot, we’ll be halfway home, so to speak, with the second one scheduled in just four weeks.  Also in South Bend.  I do hope that all the other Phase B-1 folks have managed to get scheduled by now.  I hope they are not still on the endless round of dial-hangup-redial.  It’s a better system than some — as in Sequim’s announcement to their 70-amd-over population, “Just come on down!”  I think the old WW II slogan SNAFU is probably in order regarding the distribution confusion, not just here but everywhere.  You remember… Situation Normal All F*cked Up.  Just sayin’…

Background Noise

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

It’s an ongoing discussion in our house — not an argument, exactly — but a disagreement we return to periodically, even knowing that there’s no solution.  It’s one of the less important factors in the way each of us is wired — one of those “opposites attract” kinds of things, maybe.  But who knew?

Nyel is one of those people who wants the radio playing all day long.  I don’t think it really matters to him if he is in the room or not.  He is not what you would call “an active listener” — at least not most of the time.  When I catch a snippet of something and want to know more, my beloved husband of about 1/3 of a century just looks at me as if I’ve recently arrived from Mars.  He has no idea how to answer.  He hasn’t been listening.  But godforbid I should turn that radio off.

I, on the other hand, can’t bear background anything.  Voices or music or static — I need to deal with it.  I am compelled to listen, maybe even to take notes or, if it offends, turn it off.  Pull the plug.  Whatever.  And, being the sort of person that I am, I can’t concentrate on two things at once.  No way.

I used to think that my brain was less able than other people’s as in my college roommates who wanted music playing while they studied.  I retreated to the library.  I always thought that they could do two things at once and I was, somehow, not as clever.  Later, when I began teaching, some of my colleagues played “background music” while kids were doing math problems or reading silently. The theory was that it helped them concentrate.  I was always glad I hadn’t had teachers like that.

But, more recently, when Nyel and I have discussed the “radio-always-on problem,” I’m thinking that I gave my roommates and others way too much credit.  Nine times out of ten Nyel has NO concept about what the radio has been spewing forth.  None.  As in nada.   “So why is it on?” I always end up asking.  There apparently is no answer except maybe the radio serves different purposes for different folks.  Given ten minutes of listening, Nyel is likely to be dozing in his chair.  Me… usually a dozen questions forming, most of which will never get answers or even be remembered…  Oh well.