Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

About My Big Girl Panties…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

I don’t think they fit quite yet.  Either that or the elastic broke.  I keep pulling them up and pulling them up and I still can’t quite pass for a grown-up.

But then, I look around a bit and wonder if that exalted state of “adulthood” is all it’s cracked up to be.  I’m not seeing many great examples, anyway.  Not in our political  leadership.  Not among many of the educators or parents or those we should be looking to as examples.  Certainly not a plethora.

The definition Merriam-Webster gives for “adult” is:  “fully developed and mature : GROWN UP” which doesn’t help all that much.  Like Santa Claus, “adult”seems to be an idea held up to kids in the hope that their childhood visions of sugarplums (or in this case, of a better world) will somehow come to fruition.

Well, I still believe in Santa Claus.  And I probably still believe that somewhere there are adults who not only make the rules but obey them.  I’m just not sure there are enough of them (adults, not rules)  anymore to make an impact.  Or maybe we’ve finally run out of elastic, plain and simple.

“Three Pines” – Two Thumbs Down

Monday, January 30th, 2023

Alfred Molina as Armand Gamache in “Three Pines” series

FINALLY!  I watched “White Out,” the first two episodes of the “Three Pines” series.  I doubt that I will watch any more.  I was really disappointed — mostly that Louise Penny had endorsed it so heartily.  (But then her last book was a bit of a departure, too.  Maybe she is through with Inspector Gamache et al.)

Mostly — I disliked the characters in the TV episodes — there wasn’t a single one who appeared as I had envisioned.  Not even Rosa, the duck!  (Too big.)  Who was that svelte, neat Clara, for instance?  Surely not the distracted artist with bits of food or paint in her hair and wearing an old raggedy sweater or paint-daubed flannel shirt!  And Myrna?  Wrong size entirely!  Not the woman who sinks clear to the floor on Clara’s old, sprung couch cushions because of her immensity?
And I can’t even begin to talk about Jean Guy, Armand, and Reine Marie — where was the chemistry between them — the years of family relationships honed by threats of unimaginable magnitude?  They seemed distant, polite, but not at all as Penny wrote them.  Maybe Peter, Clara’s husband, was close to her depiction, but we never really got to know him anyway…

Only In The Drawing — Not In “White Out”

But worst of all — the village!  Three Pines!  Where the hell was it?  In fact, where were the three pines which are supposed to be standing sentinel in the village common?  Where was the peacefulness?  The friendliness?  The relationships between the residents?  And why was this village, always depicted as nestled around the central commons — why was the village so sprawling and non-cohesive?  As a matter of fact, why was the Bistro so loud — Penny pictured it as cozy, friendly, a good place to talk and renew oneself, often busy but never 21st century LOUD!  I wonder if the director or script-writers or any of the cast had even read the books.

I guess there was a reason I put off watching this for so long.  (I needed to gather my strength!)  As I’ve often said, there is only one film adaptation of a book that I felt really depicted what I “saw” as I read it.  That was “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  The movie was exactly what I had seen in my head — Harper Lee’s words in 3-D!.  In all other instances, I’ve been disappointed but never as much as in this TV depiction of “Three Pines.”

Sydney at “Three Pines” – 2016  (Better than no pines at all!)

Perhaps, partly, it’s because of the trip five of us took some years back to the Eastern Townships where we explored the places Penny had used as inspiration for her books. Any one of the villages that we visited could have been a better backdrop for Three Pines.

In fact, I wish I had another thumb.

For the first time ever… chicken remorse?

Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Chickens Bonding

It’s not that I miss the chickens.  They were, of course, fun to watch and  wonder about and probably taught me a lot about group behavior, both foul and human.  But in truth… I can’t say I want to renew my chicken vows.  Not the feeding and watering parts.  Not the tending the sick part.  Not in being the arbitrator in their cluck-fights.  No.  I’m happy without the girls.

However, I do miss them just a skosh when the day is galloping by and there’s not a bit of news or gossip to write about for my blog.  Like today.  I’ve been working on the dreaded income tax — sorting piles of papers and trying to make intelligent decisions.  Not blog material by any stretch.

The Louisa Morrison, Oyster Schooner

I wonder what my forebears thought when they confronted the first income tax.  It was a one-time tax, levied by Congress in 1861 to help pay for the Civil War.  At first,  a flat 3-percent tax was placed on all incomes over $800 and was later modified to include a graduated tax. Congress repealed the income tax in 1872, but the concept did not disappear.

In 1861, my great-grandfather Robert already had both feet planted firmly in the oyster business of Shoalwater Bay.  He and Isaac Clark had established Oysterville seven years previously and since 1855, the boomtown had been the Pacific County Seat.  I assume they were up-and-coming enough to be visited by the tax collector.  And, at the rate that the oyster schooners were taking their cargoes to San Francisco, I’m thinking that this was lucrative territory for the tax boys.

Which to toss? Which to keep?

Even though that first income tax was for a short time, the idea never went away.  Finally, on July 2, 1909, Congress passed the 16th amendment establishing its right to impose a Federal income tax.  The amendment was  ratified February 3, 1913, and the rest, I say, has been one big headache.  Not that I object to the concept.  I do think we need to pony up our fair share.  But does it have to be this hard to figure out?  And will the “haves” continue to get a free ride for as long as the rest of us live?

I have to admit… chicken blogs were more interesting. But then… almost anything would be.


If it ain’t one damned thing…

Saturday, January 21st, 2023

Timing Is Everything

So, now it’s the dishwasher.  Relatively new (more’s the pity) and probably its innards are a mass of computer chips.  The “control panel” is a spiffy looking array of words in LED lights which are also what you are to press in lieu of buttons.  Buttons, of course are old school.  Forget buttons.   There are many choices; many non-buttons to press.

All went well for a year of so but, as is always the way with such “time and energy savers,”  last night it balked.  Lights on.  Nobody home.  And, of course, I’d had company for dinner and the dishwasher was full-to-overflowing with dirty dishes pluse the glasses from our Friday Night Gathering.

Find the manual — actually sort of a non-manual that might be helpful if I had my glasses back.  But the three weeks won’t be up until Tuesday so I tried the computer instead with a long string of letters and numbers that I tried to see with a magnifying glass on the inside of the door — sideways of course.

Go the the computer; type in make and (I hope) model number.  In a situation like mine, I need to reboot and after following the directions meticulously, I wanted to tell SOMEone what to do with that boot.  (And besides… Fred and Kevin had already tried the reboot trick by turning off the breaker switch.  It didn’t work then, either.)

I called the appliance repair people who are always very kind and always very booked.  They’ll be here between 8 and 10 on January 30th.  Okay.  It’s only time and money.  And what was wrong with dishpan, drainboard, and dishtowel, anyway?  I can’t remember ever having to make an appointment with a repairman in those days…  And, last weekend’s leaky pipe has been taken care of so there’s hot and cold running water again!   So… life is good, eh?



Just one of those days…

Wednesday, January 18th, 2023

So far, for me anyway, it’s been the worst winter ever.  Cold.  Wet.  Power outages. Broken pipes.  So, I made up my mind to take advantage of the inhospitable outside realms and close myself up in my office and  write.  There are books in my head and no time like the present.

Today, though, things ran a bit amok.  I was making great progress — following 1880 saloon keeper Dan Rodway up and  down the streets of Oysterville when I suddenly realized, “Oh shit!  It’s Wednesday!”

Out I dashed, bathrobe on but no slippers, past the clock that said 8:05 and on to the kitchen where all clocks said 7:58.  Hoping for the latter, I dashed out to the garage, opened the door, shoved out the dumpster while avoiding most of the puddles in my bare feet,  and looked up and  down the street.  Not another dumpster in sight.  None.  “Which,” I told myself, “doesn’t really mean much.  If they aren’t in residence, they don’t have garbage.  Or they are as forgetful as am I.”

When next I surfaced, it was time to go to the post office to collect the mail and, most importantly, the Observer.  I remembered in time to drag in the dumpster before running it over and… YAY!  Empty!  I’d made it!

The day continued (as far as I know) while I was buried in census reports and old documents.  About three I surfaced once again — coffee calling.  And… wow!  Blue sky!  Sunshine!  Almost Spring weather!

I can’t decide if what I accomplished writing-wise was worth missing the glorious weather.  Damn!

I’m happy to report…

Tuesday, January 17th, 2023

By early afternoon yesterday, the leaky pipe under the house had been repaired (actually, replaced) and all water-related systems were “go.”   Water ran freely from each and every faucet, the refrigerator’s ice-maker was operating once more, toilets flushed at the drop of a lever, and all was well with the world.

Again, I must apologize to all of our Sunday House Concert musicians and guests who managed the water crisis with hardly a raised eyebrow.  AND, considering that the median age of the group (discounting the musicians) couldn’t have been much less than 70, I feel I must congratulate you all on excellent bladder control!  Only one toilet was flushed; the others not even used as far as I could tell.  Well done, music lovers!!!

As you might imagine, though, the kitchen was in a bit of a turmoil.  Someone had neatly stacked all the dirty dishes and put the silverware in a large bowl of water.  And more than one person apologized for not being able to fill the dishwasher, but “the plates really needed rinsing first.”

Not to worry.  I did two big dishwasher loads immediately following the plumber’s departure and went to bed with a spotless house and only happy memories of the House Concert.  Another adventure in this soggy season which is bound to go down in history as “The Wicked Winter of ’23.”

Or maybe it’s just me.  But it seems I’ve been colder, more apt to be schlepping firewood through the rain from the woodshed, and more reluctant to venture forth, even to the post office, than for many-a-year.

The first day of spring is March 20th this year — 62 more days!  I can hardly wait, weather-wise.  And, if I could write a story a day between now and then, I might have the first draft of a new book completed…    Tah Dah!!!




I know I’m way too critical, but…

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Those were the days!

I don’t know if it’s the 39 years of teaching in me or the life-long interest in our local history or the fact that I majored in journalism back in the day when there were proof-readers and copy-editors. Probably a combination of all the foregoing, but sometimes I get irritated at the errors I read in our local paper concerning historical information that I feel everyone who cares about our history (and dares to write about it for publication) should know.

Not that I haven’t made my own errors — and some of them lulus — but I do hold writers of our local history to a high standard.  Especially when you consider that future historians will be researching “facts” in the archives of these very newspapers.  And, the whole thing is compounded when some of the “history” now being written about has occurred in my own lifetime!  YIKES!  So, sometimes, I feel obligated to try to correct the record, at least for my own satisfaction.

What set me off this time is the article in this week’s Chinook Observer on Page B4, “Recalling the historic ferries of the Columbia.”  The picture of Captain Fritz Elfving’s Tourist No. 3 just under the word “historic” brought a smile.  How many times had I ridden that ferry as well as the Tourist No. 2?   I guess that makes me “historic” too!  And many of my friends and neighbors, as well.

Until the Oregon Coast Highway was completed in the 1930s, tourism was for the intrepid only.

But the part of the article that I found jarring (and as far as I know, inaccurate) was this sentence:  Elfving founded the Astoria-McGowan Ferry Co. in 1921, capitalizing on the sudden popularity of the Oregon Coast as a travel destination.  Maybe so, but approval for the road that we now know as the Oregon Coast Highway did not occur until 1919 and Highway 101 was not paved and finished until the early ’30s (parts of it later). Then, and only then, could coastal towns connect with each other. Perhaps, Elfving saw the hand of tourism writing on that proverbial wall, but I do not believe that was the immediate reason for his ferry enterprise.

By 1921 when Elfving loaded up his first ferry, summer tourists had been coming down the Columbia to “the beach” for more than sixty years.  But it was the “North Beach” they came to because of its easier accessibility — not the “south beaches” of Oregon.  Commerce, too, between Astoria and the North Beach Peninsula was vigorous.  By my childhood in the 1930s and ’40s, Astoria was the closest “city” for shopping and all sorts of commercial enterprises.  And the only way to get there short of hitching a ride with a fisherman headed in that direction, was by Fritz Elfving’s ferries.

Nowadays, with the big box stores crowding out the fields and forests along the northern Oregon Coast, it’s had to believe that our still rural Peninsula was the big draw for 19th and early 20th century tourism.  No wonder Captain Elfving’s motives in beginning his Astoria-McGowan Ferry Company back in 1921 are a bit confused these days.  Historians, be alert!



Navy Blue Eyebrows and the S. of O. A.

Sunday, December 4th, 2022


Mom at Sweet Sixteen

It’s with that first glance of myself in the mirror each morning that I often hear my mother’s sighing whisper — “Oh, the Secrets of Old Age.”  Though she never revealed exactly what those were, I find that I am, by now, discovering a few for myself.

Take the time, years ago, that Jan Erikson was doing nails… My mother was leaving as I was arriving for my appointment and Jan said quietly, “Did you notice?”

“What???” I was gormless, as usual.

“Your mom’s eyebrows were navy blue!”

Mom at 86

We discussed whether I should mention it to her and I finally decided not to in the “This too shall pass” frame of mind.  It did and she was soon back to her usual (and not so unusual) fashion statements.  She was always dressed to the  nines and I can still here my dad saying to her when she readied herself for a special occasion, “You look like a million bucks!”

It wasn’t until I was in my late sixties and mom, though deep into her own world of dementia, was still making fashion statements at the Nursing Home, that I discovered my very first “S. of O. A.”  I could no longer distinguish between my navy blue socks and my black ones.  Cataracts were the culprit — and I was so sorry I hadn’t spoken to her about those eyebrows.  She did in fact, have cataract surgery later which helped for a while.

Mom at 92

All that also put me in mind of a boyfriend I once had (we might have even been engaged for a minute) who told me with great self-confidence (he was an artist) that my mother wore too much makeup.  And by the way, he told me, “so do you.”  Well, all I can say is that with those statements he revealed some of his own secrets.  I didn’t stick around long enough to see how he would weather into his own old age…

On the other hand, I do very much admire women of my own age who have never worn makeup at all.  They look fabulous — great skin tones, everything in sync, and they probably don’t have S. of O. A. thoughts with that first glimpse in the mirror each morning.  Hindsight.  (Maybe that’s another one…)

Doncha just hate that?

Sunday, November 20th, 2022

So… the headline said:  “Want to live to 90 years old? A new report reveals how you can.”  Always interested in what’s ahead for me — after all, I’ll be 90 in just three years and a couple of months — I read on.

The article was by Najja Parker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and dealt with a research study based in the Netherlands.  Bottom line:  I’m not tall enough to have a good shot at living past my 90th birthday.  Not tall enough by several inches.  Never have been. Say what???

But there it was in black and white:  “In fact, the authors [of the study] found that women who were taller than 5 feet 9 inches were 31 percent more likely to reach 90, compared to those who were under 5 feet 3 inches.”

Well… sh**!  I’ve never reached the five-foot-three mark in my life.  “Five feet two, eyes of blue…” that was me.  Until maybe ten years ago when I began to shrink.  I think I’m under five feet now and no telling if I’ll even be tall enough to measure by 2026!

I gave the rest of the article only cursory attention (as you might imagine!) but in a related article I saw some interesting news from a study done by the University of California. “After analyzing the results, researchers found that those who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to die before reaching their 90s…  Those who exercised 15 to 45 minutes daily were just 11 percent less likely to die before their 90s.”  In other words, alcohol outperforms (ahem) exercise in the Aging Department!  (Doncha just love California??)

I may have to re-think a few priorities here…

An Adventure for the Non-adventurist!

Saturday, November 19th, 2022

The Bowline Hotel, Astoria

I’m not what you would call an adventurous eater.  Or so it would seem after yesterday’s experience at Tiffany and Brady’s newest pub and eatery, The Knot Bar at The Bowline Hotel in Astoria.  (Don’t hold me to that “newest” comment — I honestly can’t keep up with their cutting edge entrepreneurship — a latest count includes the Adrift Hotel, Long Beach; Adrit Distillers, Long Beach; Inn at Discover Coast, Long Beach; Pickled Fish Restaurant, Long beach, Boardwalk Cottages, Long Beach; Ashore Hotel, Seaside; the Shelburne Hotel Seaview and now the Bowline Hotel and Knot Bar in Astoria.)  And to think I knew Tiffany when she was in the second grade class across from mine at Ocean Park School!  She was a force to reckon with then, as well!  And the Tiffany-Brady alliance seems to know no boundaries!

But… back to The Knot.  In all fairness, it is an “eatery” last — or so I see it.  First:  THE VIEW — right on the river’s edge within hailing distance of passing ships and  just westward of a gentle bend that provides a view of Astoria’s intriguing shoreline and ever-changing cityscape.  And second — A BAR which is more about beverages than snacks, although their website says this:
Locally sourced food and classic cocktails pair with post-industrial aesthetics…Our cocktails are handcrafted and celebrate local distilleries. The food menu is Scandinavian-inspired and pays homage to our community’s seafood history…

My Bloody Mary came with a small garni of celery and a generous piece of beef jerky on a cocktail swizzle (which I finally managed to extricate in multiple pieces.}  The menu, divided into four categories: “Snacks,” “Small Plates,” “Plates,” and “Sweets” was exotic (by my standards) and made for difficulty in choosing.  The listings, all spendy, included Foie Gras Tart, Beef Tartare, Bitter Greens, Sliced Duck Breast, Sweet Carrot Crepe Cannelloni and many many others.

I finally had the celery root soup which was served with flair from a glass flute (about cup-size) into a large bowl at the table.  Michael, who ordered the same thing,  explained the lukewarm quality — the individual serving of piping hot soup was decanted into bowl just out of the freezer.  With it, I had and a side of bread which was a very generous serving (four slices, I think) with butter. (Nothing special, but I freely confess, Nyel spoiled me for life in the Bread Department.)

Entrance to The Knot at The Bowline

The best part of the meal — visiting with old, dear friends and having the lounge completely to ourselves.  I understand it’s “jumping” during the evening cocktail hour but if you’re looking for a place for a noontime tête-à-tête with a view to die for — The Knot at The Bowline is just the place to put down your mid-day anchor!

P.S.  I won’t be offended if you tell me I’m showing my age.  It’s been on raging display for some time!  And aren’t I the luckiest “Old Broad” (Gordon’s pet name for me) in the world to have wonderful friends who keep me up-to-date and well-nourished?