Archive for the ‘Sheltering During The Pandemic’ Category

Another 1st at Our House (& not a good one)

Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Susan Waters, Randal Bays, Clint Dye Maybe in the Fall??>

In all the years (22+ probably) that we’ve been hosting House Concerts here at the White House in Oysterville, today we had the first ever experience of having to cancel the day before the event.  One of the musicians, Randal Bays, called me at 8:00 this morning with what he said (thought? hoped?) was a terrible cold.  So far, he was testing negative for Covid.

Ironically, the very first House Concert Nyel and I ever hosted some twenty years ago was with Randal!  He’s probably done fifteen or more since then, has played at countless Vespers, and has included his wife Susan and sons, Willie and Owen, in most of them.  He sounded devastated.  (I was, as well, but tried mightily to sound supportive, concerned and all those other things that one feels in these all too recent days since the Pandemic.)

Randal Bays — when he was feeling plummier!

As soon as we were off the phone, I began e-mailing and calling the 30 folks who were planning to come tomorrow.  I do hope I got them all!  Everyone I talked to was amazingly sympathetic — wishing Randall and his musical companions — wife Susan and friend Clint Dye — well and hoping that we could reschedule at a later date.

Thank you all for your understanding.  And if, perchance, you know of anyone planning to come who didn’t get the word, PLEASE let them know!   This is not the hostesses worst nightmare, I’m sure… but it could be close!

Even in the best of regulated families…

Monday, August 30th, 2021

We felt badly when we wrote to Cuzzin Ralph and uninvited him to come to Oysterville (or “Oyster Patch” as he calls it) for a visit.  He was coming out from his home in Virginia to a family reunion of first cousins in Eastern Washington.  The plan was for him to stay with us for a day or two before heading up to SeaTac for his return flight.

But as our Pacific County Covid numbers increased, so did my nervousness, and I wrote to Ralph.  “No worries,” he said.  He would just stay in Garfield for an extra day.  He hadn’t been out our way since Covid began and it gave him extra time with his sister and their nearest and dearest.  They had all been vaccinated, their activities would all be outside, and they were looking forward to the reunion.

But… the best laid plans.  Though the air was smoky from nearby fires, they persevered.  Hostess Donna began to suffer from smoke-related allergies — or so she thought — and finally went to get tested.  The results came in the day Ralph reached home.  Positive.  Damn!  So far, though, Ralph tests negative as do the others who were at the reunion.

Other members of Donna’s family, though — not so lucky.  Her daughter, grandbaby, and daughter-in-law all have it and, yes, except for the baby all were vaccinated.  Donna wrote to me yesterday:  What I am learning? Covid takes time to “percolate”. A positive test only happens when you are three to four days fully into the virus. Rapid tests work well if you are really festered. Rapid tests are hard to find…
It effects people in different ways. I thought I had my annual harvest smoke filled sinus infection I always get this time of year. Emily had aches in muscles, headache and sore throat, no sinus or lung stuff. Today Frances is so run down with it, I went to her house and brought her car with her three kids to Garfield, planning to stay here two nights. She can’t get rest with them around. Ian can’t get more time off. Talk about conundrum for families!   So far, my only grandchild with Covid is the baby! She turned 1 today and we shared Zoom birthday wishes. She coughed and laughed through it but is obviously not at 100% and I can’t help!

My heart is heavy with concern.  There seems nothing to say about the situation that is helpful.  I can hear my mother’s voice:  “Even in the best of regulated families…”  Her catch-all phrase for when the unthinkable happened to thinking people.  To people she admired and loved and knew that “but for the grace of God go I.”


And now… let the sheltering recede!

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

October 2020

A year and four days ago — on March 13, 2020 — we went into “Sheltering Mode.”   Since then, we’ve had no social events, neither small nor large, here in our house.  We did, of course, have a few limited gatherings in the garden during the warm months,  masked and socially distanced.  And, like everybody else, we’re pretty sick of the isolation .

November 2020

So our hearts are doing a happy dance now that the new CDC guidelines are out.  We were especially pleased to learn about these points:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart. 
  • A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

We do, of course, lament our very much younger friends and family members who do not yet qualify for the vaccine but (strangely) more folks we know do qualify now than don’t.  And Charlie and Marta just wrote:

  • Fully vaccinated people don’t need masks around low-risk unvaccinated people.

Nyel and Sydney, 2018 and from now forward, we hope

That’s a little loosey-goosey for me — or would be if I were a l not yet fully vaccinated, myself.  I’m just not clear as to who those low riskers are and, unfortunately, I’m not too trusting of people not to cheat. It’s  not that I’m paranoid, exactly, but it took only one person to tell me to my socially distanced and masked face that this was all a “hoax” to ramp up my skeptical side.  Just sayin…

Be that as it may. I am excited to start welcoming old friends back into our home.  It’s been a very long time…



Catching Up With Reality

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

July 26, 2017

Last evening a friend called — a friend who lives not all that far away, but whom I’ve not seen or visited with since The Sheltering began.  It was good to talk with her.  But hard.  Lots of changes in her life that I wish I’d koown about, though there was nothing I could have done.

Among other things, we spoke about a couple of families who were deported by ICE a few years back — families I wrote about in my “Stories from the Heart” series for the Observer.  My friend has kept up with those families through occasional phone calls and she brought me up to date.  Especially she told me about “Maria” (as I called her in my story) and her three young children.

When I met them in the summer of 2017, Maria was working out on Willapa Bay, trying to save enough money to move with her three children.  Erin Glenn and I went calling — to see how we could help:
“…Dos años he said in answer to Erin’s ¿Cuántos años tienes?  Two years.  And he solemnly held up five fingers to prove his point.  Oscar is the middle child.  Curly-haired Alexa is ten months, and Joel, who was off playing with a friend, is ten and on summer vacation from Ocean Park School.  Their father, Miguel, has been gone for three months – deported to Mexico.”

From The Daily Astorian, December 10, 2018

“How are they doing?” I asked my friend.  “They’re having a very hard time,” came the answer.  “Miguel has planted pineapples but it takes a year for the crop to mature.  Meanwhile, he does odd jobs for a friend.  Maria and her sister-in-law cook during the week and sell their food at a roadside stand on the weekends.  Joel has a job, too, — digging graves.  He is 13 now.”

Digging graves.  At thirteen.  OMG.  I flashed on the regulation-sized volleyball court Miguel had built in their back yard here and how there was often a game going among adults and kids, as well.  I thought of how Joel had chosen to leave with his family rather than stay here with a friend, though the offer had been made.  I thought of Oscar, now truly as old as his fingers had told me…

Sometimes “catching up” isn’t all that great.  Sometimes “reality” sucks.

Eight Months and Counting

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Enterring Month Nine!

As you enter the ninth month, you get a little crazy.  At least that’s what I remember from my “Expecting Days” and that’s definitely what’s happening during these Sheltering Days.

This morning as I was making coffee, my Covid hair finally pushed me over the edge.  I foraged around in the kitchen junk drawer and found a couple of rubber bands and took care of the problem.  When I arrived back in the bedroom and handed Nyel his cup, he didn’t even notice.

A Work In Progress

“Good!” thought I.  I guess I can go with this new look — at least around the house.  Never mind the scraggly look at the back.  I can’t see it and probably my true love won’t notice that either.  I figure another eight or nine months and I can bag the rubber bands and comb my long gray locks into a chic coif to be proud of.

Well… you’ll have to admit:  so far, anyway, my sense of reality is as frangible (yes, it’s really a word) as ever.

The Best Book EVER!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Front Cover

I stayed up until the midnight hour (late for me) last night reading the Author’s Notes and Acknowledgements at the end of Daniel Silva’s latest book, The Order. The protagonist, who Silva admits shares many of his own traits, is legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon and the setting is, for the second time in the series, the Vatican City.

Of the 21 books Gabriel Allon books, I consider it the best yet.  Making such a judgement is not done lightly.  This book is not only topical, but combines current, historical and fictitious information into a seamless whole — a thriller/espionage book that will leave you with questions (and even some answers) that you had never before considered.

Back Cover

I plan to read it again and would have begun it this morning except that it is Nyel’s turn.  I hope he powers through it so I can re-read it and get it back to the library before our two weeks are up!  Meanwhile, I  will order a few of the dozens of books that Silva “consulted” while writing The Order — beginning with Pontius Pilot by Ann Wroe.  I can’t think of a better opportunity, during this Sheltering Time, to being learning more about a topic I’ve always “taken for granted.”

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read The Order, I highly recommend it.  But, if you haven’t read any of the Gabriel Allon series, I suggest you hold off on this one until you have read the first twenty… in order!


Another Project in the Works!

Monday, August 24th, 2020

When I was a child, our woodshed was just outside our kitchen door — the perfect place for my grandmother’s use in the wood cookstove and fairly convenient for the boys and men of the household to keep the wood baskets near the three fireplaces filled.

In due time, the woodshed was upgraded to a laundry room and for years, our firewood supply has been stacked on pallets in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden.  Much of that wood has been salvaged from trees that neighbors had taken down and offered to anyone who would clean up the mess.  Free firewood?  Nyel was always willing.

Although the wood is in a fairly “protected” spot, it is not in a woodshed nor is it convenient to the house.  Nonetheless, as long as Nyel was able, he saw to it that the wood baskets were kept well-supplied.  In the last few years it’s been up to me and I have to say that I’ve not been very faithful at my task.   So, over time, some of the wood has gotten punky, the pallets on which it is stacked have begun to disintegrate, and the entire situation has become “a project.”

Staging Area

Nyel has prevailed upon our landscaper/patio-creator Eugene, to build us a woodshed (YAY!) but agreed to first clear the wood out of that garden corner.  After much deliberation, and even though it’s a bit of a trek to and from the house, that area still seems the best place to situate the firewood and will be the location of the new woodshed.  We console ourselves (or I do) that if the wood is dry, it will be much easier to deal with — even on rainy days.

So… Nyel has been busy sorting wood — the punky stuff in one pile and the good stuff in another.  More than once I’ve held my breath as he has maneuvered his wheelchair into impossible positions but… so far, so good.  Tom-the-mower-man has agreed to haul off the bad stuff and I have been prevailed upon to stack up the good stuff in a somewhat protected area.

In The Interim

So it is that Nyel, is moving fireplace wood to a staging area on the east porch steps.  He stacks it up on his feet and against his legs as he sits in his wheelchair — he looks like Forklift Man!  He gets it to the east porch steps where he stacks it neatly.  Then I carry it, two pieces at a time (usually), and stack it on the porch.  For me, lots of bending and lifting — kind of like Winnie-the-Pooh’s stoutness exercises, or so I tell myself.

We hope to be finished today and hope, even more, that Eugene will be as good as his word and start the woodshed — “around the end of the month.”  Oh boy!  A woodshed!  Who knew?

Paranoia or Good Instincts? Hard to tell.

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Local Color

During the three-day weekend, we were mostly in the house, the weather being only so-so.  We did work in the garden for a while on Saturday and, of course, I was outside early and late and in between doing my due diligence with the chickens.  Since we didn’t leave our own property and had no visitors, we spent the entire weekend sans masks.

So did most other people, apparently.  Each time I glanced out our west windows or over the west fence I saw what I have come to think of as the unmasked multitudes.  Mostly, they arrived by cars in groups — presumably family members or close friends.  There were also a number of Oysterville property owners here with friends and relatives and walking hither and thither but, also, sans masks.

Many of the visitors went into the church and, though most paused long enough to at least glance at the sign posted on the door, no masks appeared going in or coming out.  On multiple occasions, the church door was left open after the visitors had come and gone.

White Pelicans Over Oysterville – Photo by Tucker

That’s not an unusual occurrence, but what used to be usual was my knee-jerk response of going over to close the door.  This weekend I left it open as I’ve been doing since the first part of March.  My gut tells me that if some of those unmasked visitors have the virus, their very breathing could contaminate the air.  And, my instinct tells me that the contaminated air lingers…

I was willing to admit to a good dose of paranoia until I heard an epidemiologist’s report on NPR this morning that… guess what?  There is growing evidence that Covid-19 particles can aerosolize and that these minute particles can stay in the air for many hours causing potential aerosolized transmission.  Not only coughing and sneezing can generate those particles; plain old breathing through your nose can, too!

Our Garden in July

Hooray for my instincts!  Hooray for everyone who wears masks, even in spaces that seem benign!   And, for the record, on Friday a whole group of folks were visiting in Oysterville with masks on!  Yay!  I actually went outside and called “thank you” to them and, as it turned out, some of the group were local and knew me.  Such a bright spot in my day.  Too bad it didn’t happen again.  And again and again…

In my mind’s eye it was all in vibrant color!

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

“Some Like It Hot”

Last night we watched “Some Like It Hot,” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.  I hadn’t seen it since it came out in 1959 and, though I thought I remembered it very well… I didn’t really.  In fact, about the only thing I remembered was that Curtis and Lemmon were in drag and were running from something or someone.  And, I remembered that it was funny.

I also thought that it had been filmed in color — vibrant color —  which it was not, despite the DVD cover.  Director Billy Wilder had decided from the get-go to film it in back and white to play down the garishness of Curtis’ annd Lemmon’s make-up.  And, I’m sure I never knew that Tony Curtis’ “Josephine” voice was dubbed by another actor, as Curtis couldn’t speak high enough.

“The Magnificent Seven”

Despite all those unknown or misremembered details, the film held up amazingly well.  It was especially fun to see co-stars George Raft, Pat O’Brien, and Joe E. Brown in stereotypical roles — like seeing old friends again.  We thoroughly enjoyed the silliness of it all.  Two hours and two minutes of unadulterated fun!

Chances are we’ll have more opportunities to revisit other old “friends” in the weeks to come, thanks to a clean-out project of neighbors Carol and Tucker.  A few days back they left a huge box of DVDs that they are getting rid of (although “maybe not quite yet,” Tucker told me, when I was ooohing and aaahing our thanks and promising to pass them on.)

“Midsomer Murders”

Tonight we are looking forward to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and in the wings are boxed sets of “The Pallisers” “Black Adder,” “The George Eliot Collection,” “Jeeves & Wooster,” “Sherlock Holmes” and on and on!

It seems more than logical that we would expand our screen time during this pandemic, but whoda thunk we would have such a surfeit of viewing possibilities!  First, and just “in the nick,” Cyndy fixed us up with Roku and now, this goody box  from Tucker and Carol.  For us, sheltering during this pandemic is turning out to be a time of visual as well as mental  enrichment!  Who knew?