Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

Snow, Rain, Sun Flurries — it’s March!

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

Well, if the 24th of this month means we’re heading out of it, I hardly think it’s very lamb-like.  I guess with all this climate change biz, you poets had better get busy creating new words to live by.  The old standbys aren’t working any more.

Like many proverbs for the month of March, ” In like a lion, Out like a lamb” can be traced back to Thomas Fuller’s 1732 compendium, Gnomologia; Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) was a British physician, preacher and intellectual.  In addition to his compilation of proverbs, he published two medical books and famously said, “Be you never so high, the law is above you.”

I do believe we’ve lost sight of more than the lamb and the lion, Dr. Fuller!  I wonder how you would improve your Gnomologia if you could have a stab at it today?



For shame, Stanford law students! For shame!

Friday, March 24th, 2023

David Leonhardt of the New York Times greeted me first thing today with these words:  Good morning.  A federal judge spoke at Stanford Law School.  Chaos ensued.

Not being much in touch with the news (always too horrifying and depressing for my aged sensibilities), I was definitely compelled to read further.  It was, after all, my alma mater that Mr. Leonhardt was talking about.  Stanford, so subdued and reasonable during my student days in the ’50s — but then wasn’t everyone?  And later, so  namby-pamby during the days of rival Cal Berkeley’s student protests in the’60s.  About this latest news, I was sore amazed!

 Stuart Kyle Duncan

The speaker was Stuart Kyle Duncan, a federal court appeals judge appointed by Trump.   It seems that the students at the lecture did some serious heckling and Judge Duncan asked the school administrators to calm the crowd.  Instead, the associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion (seriously? they have an associate dean for that??) walked to the lectern and began her remarks by criticizing him.  She has been placed on leave.

The judge described his experience in a Wall Street Journal essay, the Stanford president and the law school dean have apologized to him, and all law students are to attend a mandatory half-day session on freedom of speech.

Commentary is coming in from all sides — from other Universities both in support of the students and otherwise and, of course,  of Stanford’s position on the matter.  News pundits and talking heads who thrive on controversy are weighing in ad nauseum but, so far, not much from the students, themselves.

I did look in the Stanford Daily but found that the big news was “Stanford canceled all remaining final exams on Tuesday due to ongoing weather-related power outages, which are affecting buildings across campus.”  I was glad to see that the Daily still has a clear vision regarding their mission.

Yep!  Let’s keep our priorities straight!


I’m not exactly a foodie, but…

Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Chef Nyel and The Lamb Roast! April 17, 2022

It seems like I’ve been hankering for lamb for four or five years now — leg of lamb, lamb chops, rack of lamb… you name it.  Lamb chops, especially, were a staple in this family.  Broiled with a dash of salt, pepper and dredged in oregano flakes!  Yummm!  The best.

But then the local butchers said lamb was costing too much to keep it in stock.  CostCo held out for a while but then said they could only get it from Australia and supplies were limited.   And then came Covid and we just stopped looking.  Mostly.

But yesterday I found THREE loin lamb chops at Freddy’s!  Count ’em: one, two, three.   Tucked way out of sight, they were, almost like they didn’t want to be found.  I do so wish my closest girlhood friend, Joanne Bruner, were still among us.  I’d call her and ask her to come up from California for a meal!

I so clearly remember when we were Freshmen or Sophomores in high school and I asked her over for dinner.  “We’re having lamb chops!” I enthused.  Her face fell — just a little.  She’d never tasted lamb.  Her folks “didn’t believe in it” she said.  Something about them being from Colorado and “beef country.”

At Gulley’s Butcher Shop, Astoria, 2022

Huh?  I didn’t get it at all.  I still don’t — probably have the state wrong.  But she came to dinner and I have to say, one bite and she was hooked.  We had her to dinner on lamb nights many times after that…

I also remember that I was seven or eight years old before I really understood that beef and lamb were different from one another.  They both tasted great to me.  It must have been about the time that we tried horse meat that I noticed all meat wasn’t the same.  (It was during World War II and meat was rationed so you managed the best you could.)  I remember that mom used it in a stew — the chewiest stew ever! From then on, I paid a little more attention to just what kind of meat we were eating and I realized that I liked lamb the best.

Last year, Nyel wanted to do a lamb roast for Easter.  We ordered it from Gulley’s Butcher Shop in Astoria.  Four pounds boned and rolled! .  “Money is no object,” Nyel said.  And it wasn’t.  I’ve totally forgotten what it cost but I’ll never forget the pleasure Nyel had in cooking it and our subsequent enjoyment at Easter dinner.  I haven’t had lamb since.  But, soon!

…And everywhere that Sydney went,
Some lamb was sure to show!




Finally! Spring AND Summer Have Arrived!

Friday, July 15th, 2022

Spring & Summer 2022 in Oysterville!

It’s not often that two seasons arrive at the same time, but I truly think that Spring waited this year until she was certain that Summer was underway.  Finally, the pollinators are arriving — too late for our Jean Marie rhododendrons in May but I’m relieved to see them here, no matter what we missed out on earlier.

Yes, the bees and mosquitoes are finally putting in an appearance.  Flies (and even a moth) lurk around waiting for chances to sneak into the house. Our hummingbird feeder is beginning to attract a few more hummers.  A pesky ant or two and a gang of slugs have been seen prowling around the garden beds…  Yes, Spring has definitely arrived!

A Profusion of Dorothy Perkins Roses, 2022

And so has Summer.  The Dorothy Perkins roses on the west fence have never been prettier — and that on the good authority of my neighbor Carol Wachsmuth!  The Shasta Daisies are profusing all over the place and I suddenly realized that I’d forgotten all about planting nasturtiums this year.  That’s what happens when Spring doesn’t come nudging at my toes in March and April!  I wonder if it’s too late?

I guess the one positive occurrence in galloping right from winter into summer is that we skipped the Spring Fever part.  And (some of us)) the Spring Cleaning part.  But it’s going to make summer seem all the shorter, I’m afraid.  I’m determined to get up early and stay up late to take advantage of every glorious hour and vista!  Hope to see you on the trails and byways revelling in the glorious bounty of two seasons in one!


And I quietly drizzled along!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

The Oyster Crackers, 2021

Yesterday morning I had the privilege and pleasure of sitting over at the church while the Oyster Crackers rehearsed for Vespers.  They are the first music group scheduled for the summer — JULY 19th, 3 o’clock.  Mark your calendars!

 I had heard that they decicated a song about “wood chopping” to Nyel at their Peefroming Arts Center performanace last week and I was curious.  Of course I wept through the whole thing, even though it was toe-tappingly upbeat.  (But then I quiety drizzled along through most of their songs yesterday — Nyel loved them all!)

Randal Bays and Susan Waters, 2019

Besides satisfying my curiosity and engaging in a bit (just a tad) of personal wallowing, I wanted to get a feel for their upcoming Vesper program.  I’ll be presenting the first “Oysterville Moment” that Sunday and I’d like my remarks to be in keeping with this year’s brand new Vespers format.  It will lean more heavily on the music aspect of things than previously and the line-up of our talented local friends as well as of the five or six accoustic groups from farther away is impressive indeed.

Fingers crossed that the summer will softly open its arms to us all so that we can truly enjoy and be uplifted and renewed by our summer Music Vespers series after its long hiatus!

The Wisdom of the Widows

Saturday, June 11th, 2022

From Stephanie and Dave

If you are lucky enough to reach a “certain age,” you will find that the preponderance of your peers are widows.  Not widowers, mind you.  Widows.  The life expectancy of women is longer for a number of reasons and in married women, even longer and so, by age 86, widows outnumber widowers by a goodly number.

So it is that I now join a number of my friends in that not-so-very-rare-state.  In just these last few days, I have already received notes and letters and Facebook messages from widowed friends offering me advice . No matter the situation of my widowed friends — affluent or not, “educated” or not, married for a long time or not — there is great similarity in their advice:

From Jean: I’m so sorry to hear of Nyel’s passing. I know you will miss him every day and feel his presence as the days pass. He will always remain in your heart and his memory will be a comfort to you as the time passes. I send my love.

From Karen:  He will be in your memories forever! And you aren’t not alone for he is your angel watching over you, helping you make difficult decisions and more. Just keep putting one foot ahead of the other and close friends will help more than you know. Hugs Hugs Hugs

From Gwen: I am so sorry for you, Sydney. I lost Robert two months ago. The voyage has been intense. In his death, I was reborn. The most personal and painful experience. Be selfish of your time and your feelings. Throw yourself into this mourning so you can make peace in the end…

From Betty — Yes, there are things you’ll be needing to tell him. You’ll find yourself turning to him to comment on something. You will feel him near you physically and that will be a comfort. But embrace it and know he is there… always nearby, loving you always.

From Eric, Mike, and Paige

From Ruth C:  You will be numb for a while… that’s a good thing.  You will do well with all the details that need you, right away — sortings, documentations, the making of order.  You’re gifted at all that.  That, too, is a good thing.  Still the changeover from partnership to solo takes time to figure out.  Now you must do everything alone, do all the household planning alone, negotiate life alone without Nyel to talk things over with,  You will miss talking with him, his very presence, his essence.
Do take every bit of assistance you are offered, and ask friends to do things that would help.  They will want to help and may not know exactly how to… or even what to say.  Love will buoy you — your loved ones will be literal, real, welcome support.  You can’t practice widowhood ahead of time.  You’ll feel your way along and likely be very busy.  Sydney, dear one, take time for yourself when it all feels too much.  I’m so glad you have folks around you who will be there for you, whatever you need.


Oysterville: In joy, in sorrow, a safe harbor.

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Bud Goulter

It’s been a week since my last entry in the Oysterville Daybook — a week of love and laughter, of deep sorrow and reminiscence, of outreach and introspection.  Our house has been filled with friends, new and old, and the village has hosted at least three weddings — at the church, at the schoolhouse, and at one of the neighbors’.

We’ve also lost our oldest, most colorful “character” — Bud Goulter.  He was 95 and, the last time I saw him (just a few weeks back at the post office) he asked after “Niles.” commented on the “newcomers” in town, and gave me a hug and a buss on the cheek!  Our meetings weren’t always so cordial through the years but, with the news of his passing, I’m glad about that last encounter.  A kind of closure to a lifetime of knowing one another’s families and foibles and skeletons in the closets.  I wondered, briefly, if I’m now Oysterville’s oldest citizen…  but I think it must be Charlotte by a few months.

Les and Ann Driscoll, Ava’s Parents

It wasn’t too many days later that our neighbor Sue told us that Ava, her neice, was gravely ill.  “Too young!” we thought.  We saw on Dan Driscoll’s facebook page that she had died; we’re not sure of the day.  Our hearts ache for all her family but most especially for her parents, Ann and Les.  It never seems that the order of things should allow a child to pre-decease the parents.  Words seems so inadequate… especially for lifelong neighbors in this tiny village.

Mark, Dale, Cameron, Helen, Sydney, Nyel

And in amongst the sorrow here… our friends Cameron, Dale, Helen, and Mark — the Rose City Mixed Quartet — arrived last Saturday.  They brought food for that evening, all-day Sunday, and Monday’s breakfast PLUS their sleeping bags (placed so carefully on the beds upstairs, I can’t tell that they were used at all) and their towels etc.  We laughed and visited and caught up with life-since-Covid and, to top it off, they did a House Concert for a small group here on Sunday evening.  What a gift they are in our lives!  I could hardly stand to say goodbye.

Barbara Canney – From Her FB Site

But… Barb to the rescue!  Barbara Canney, my friend since 1978 when my Uncle Willard “hired” her to organize our family documents and put me “in charge” as her mentor.  Our roles have reversed and yo-yoed over the years even though she lives in Massachussetts and we see each other less frequently than we would like.  She’s here for ten days and then her husband John is joining her for a mini-vacation.   And why is she here (you might wonder)?  Nyel hired her to help get my computer files (especially photos) in order.  It was my 85th birthday present but Covid interfered and so… here we are!  We laugh, we cry, we talk about old times and speculate about the future.  We might even get something done on the files!

OMG what a week!  I left out so much — and probably forgot a whole bunch, too.  Day by day blogging is oh so much easier and I hope I can get back on track.  Sometimes it’s hard when you live in Oysterville.

Have you noticed? It’s Cow Season!

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Black Angus Cattle

In the Merry, Merry Month of May we talk about the flowers that spring forth and the sunshiny weather (sometimes) and about a whole host of other things but I seldom see talk of cows!  Yes!  Cows!

Have you noticed that they are “out” — right along with the cherry blossoms and the goldenrod and all the other signs of Spring.  They are in the Shier Meadow on Sandridge Road.  They are in Goulter’s Field along the 101 cutoff.  And they are probably lots of other places, as well.


Cows!  Mostly Black Angus (I think.)  In any case, they are black, they are cows, and they remind me of my grandfather’s dairy farm, although, truth to tell, his farm was no more by the time I came along.  But it was the way of life when my mother and her siblings were growing up and sometimes I feel like I was there right along with them.

This is how my uncle Edwin Espy (1908- 1993) described Papa’s ranch:
In terms of the property involved, the ranch consisted or several interrelated elements that were scattered over about six hundred acres in an unconventional configuration. There were other properties of a different kind, chiefly marshland and a wooded hillside to the south that overlooked the bay. The land as a whole was principally of three types:
• The bay-front property, mostly meadow with some smaller wooded areas
• The “town” property, for nearby grazing, for two of the barns and for a garden
• The marsh, an extensive area of swamp and other low ground, heavily wooded or otherwise overgrown with shrubbery but providing succulent grazing for the cattle.
The buildings:
• Barns: Number 1 (the Big Barn) a half mile away; Number 2, the larger of two in town, and Number 3, right across the street from our dwelling
• An abandoned store building, used for a milk-separator operated by hand (the cream was sent to Astoria, most of the skimmed milk was for the calves and pigs; the family had whole milk and a minimum of cream)
• The Ranch House across from Barn Number 1 where, periodically Papa housed a ranch foreman
• The home itself, the repository of farm clothing, some of the tools and the milk pails, et cetera, which were washed in the kitchen
The animals;
• About fifty cattle, chiefly milk cows, but some beef stock cattle
• Sixteen horses at the maximum
• Pigs
• Chickens
• Dogs
• (Periodically a goat for the children)

Espy Ranch Foreman’s House

Apparently, the ranch was doing well enough by the time Papa entered the political arena in 1910 that he felt comfortable in signing on as a “silent partner” in the Johnson and Henry Store in Nahcotta. When the business failed a few years later and the principal owners walked away from their indebtedness, Papa felt a moral obligation to pay off the creditors. Even though it took him the next twenty years, he made good on every debt. No one in the family, save Mama, knew the cause or the extent of their privation.

I don’t know what sorts of cows Papa had — probably not Angus.  Maybe Holstein.  No matter.  A cow is a cow is a cow.  And they seem to come out in May!

Full of surprises is our Slutvana!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

Nyel with Slutvana’s (mis-shapen) egg

I read somewhere that common character traits of Russians (the people, that is) are, broadly speaking, generosity, resilience. and strength.  I cannot vouch, however, for those traits in Russian chickens — certainly not in Russian Orloffs and most assuredly not in our Slutvana.  Nor can I assert with any assuranee that Slutvana is a typical Russian Orloff or, for that matter, that Russian Orloffs (being chickens) bear any character resemblance to the Russian people, themselves.

Having said that, I would like to announce that Slutvana surprised the household and, indeed, the entire neighborhood, the other day by laying an egg!  YES!  We could’ve sworn that Slutvana’s egg-laying days were long over.  We haven’t seen one of her distinctive light-brown-oblongish-and-invariably-mishapen-eggs for months.  But last Thursday there one was — plunk in the middle of the north nestbox.  And since Slutvana now has the coop and all chicken accoutrements to herself, there can be no doubt as to the responsible party.

Slutvana Enjoys Her Reward!

Nyel sent her a grand reward — half an ear of corn.  Never mind that we had purchased four ears at Fred Meyer’s and had determined upon trying the first two that they were of ancient vintage — probably kept in cold storage since last summer’s harvest.  We set aside the other two for Slutvana and she laid that egg just in time for the corn to be given as a “thank-you.”

I doubt that she put two and two together, so to speak.  I’m not sure how good chickens are at understanding cause and effect in the first place.  And, even if they do, it’s probably a stretch to connect a half ear of fresh corn with a warm, freshly laid egg.  I did explain it to her, but she was already in corn-on-the-cob-heaven and could have cared less about how that came to be.

I know that because now it’s Wednesday and she has not repeated her performance.  Nor have we produced the other half of that ear of corn.  Maybe today…  One thing we do know: the age of the corn did not matter to Slutvana.  That’s definitely one thing you can tell about chickens (and corn) — it’s all good!


RoonieBobs, My GirlieGirl Bonus Daughter!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

It’s a great thing to have a Bonus Daughter.  A child that came into my life when she was five and I was twenty-three.  A child who spent weekends and school vacations and other times with us.  A child who called my parents “Granny and Grandpa” and who bonded with her bonus brother Charlie from the get-go — no matter that he was two years younger.

But, best of all — and most mysterious to me — Marta was a “girlie girl.”  She loved pretty clothes and glitzy jewelry and cutting edge styles from the time I met her.  No wonder she and Granny bonded — they were soulmates, though two generations apart.  Me?  Not so much.  I’ve always been the “practical” one — no ruffles, no lace, no ribbons or froo-frau.  Tailored, not glamorous.  Ivory soap, not designer cleansers in fancy-schmancy bottles.

And, yesterday here came her 2022 Mother’s Day gift to me.  OMG!  A bright red & white Ralph Lauren scarf!  A bar of lavendar soap with shea butter (which is what, exactly?)  A pair of “Famous Artist Series HOT SOX” with the Mona Lisa on them!  And a fabulous heart-ish shaped box of chocolates that Nyel and I got into right away.  Delish!

Each gift was wrapped and beribboned in gay profusion and they were all accompanied with one of Marta’s glitzy handmade signature cards!  I arranged them all around Charlie’s beautiful and fragrant Mother’s Day flowers and felt totally spoiled, indeed!

And though it has never before occurred to me before that either of our tastes have changed, I intend to bedeck and festoon myself with scarf and artsy socks, smelling deliciously of lavender and shea butter — whatever the heck THAT is!  Thanks, Roons!  I think you’ve won me over completely!