Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

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!


Barb: My belated birthday present!!

Sunday, April 24th, 2022

Barbara Canney – From Her FB Site

For my 85th birthday in 2021, Nyel’s gift was to have my friend Barbara Canney of Cohasset, MASS, come and organize my files — computer files or hard copy files, my choice.

(Background: in 1980, my Uncle Willard arranged for Barb — who was about to begin her Senior Project at Evergreen — to come and catalogue the Espy Family Papers.  He agreed to pay her a stipend for one academic quarter; the project took her a year and a half and became the foundation for the Espy Archive, now housed at the WSHS Archive Center.  I was her “mentor” during that project… )

What a FABULOUS gift!  And who would be better qualified to dive into the morass that loosley qualify as “my files”?  In that long-ago year and a half that Barb was here, we became fast friends and have remained so — never mind that a continent and family obligations etc. etc. separate us.

The Canney Family, 2014

Unfortunately, though, Covid and other health issues have intervened and my gift has yet to be delivered, but… NOW, FINALLY Barb has her ticket and will arrive May 17th!  St. Patrick’s Day!  She’ll be here for a week and then her husband John will join her for a week-long vacation here in the place where they did their courting long ago.

I am SO excited!  Never mind that I need to organize my office so that Barb can organize my files.  And never mind that we’re not sure if she should start with documents or photographs.  And never mind that, like her initial work on the Espy papers, this week should segue into several years…  It’s a start.  And so much more!

My husband has the best idea for presents…ever!!!

The Worst Winter Day in April… Ever!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Old Nelson Home, Oysterville 1875 – By Pat Akehurst

Probably the worst winter in Oysterville’s history began the night of January 1, 1875.  That night, the weather turned sharply cold, and the thermometer hovered at zero.  When morning dawned, parts of the bay were sheets of solid ice, with the oysters embedded within it  As the tide moved in and then out, the oyster-laden ice simply floated out to sea, totally wiping out many beds.  The freezing weather continued for eight long days and nights.

Yesterday morning, as Nyel and I started off for Seattle at 4:30 a.m. for an appointment with Cardiologist Extraordinaire, “Dr. Trusted,” I have to confess that I didn’t give that historic January winter a thought.  And why would I?  It was April, for Heaven’s sakes!  April 12th, to be exact, and more than three weeks into Springtime 2022.  Nearly 150 years after than historic weather event here in Pacific County.

I did note that it was cold in Oysterville — very cold for April.  But still, I was more than a  little surprised when we arrived in South Bend in the midst of what looked like a blizzard.  The road was covered.  The trees were covered.  The windshield wipers were clotting up.  And to make matters worse, it was still dark.  Very, very dark.  At 6:00 a.m. in April, for Heaven’s sake!

I white knuckled it through Raymond and up through the already washed-out and not-yet-repaired road to Montesano.  OMG!  And still it snowed.  And hailed.  And sleeted.  It was slippery underfoot as I dashed into the restroom at the Montesano Quick Stop.

And so it continued… all the way to Olympia.  Did the traffic slow down at all???  Not that you’d notice…  But we didn’t see any accidents or mishaps and we arrived at the UW Medical Center for Nyel’s appointment with ten minutes to spare.  We asked hard questions about the prognosis for Nyel’s future…  The answers were hard, too.

All in all, it was good to get back home yesterday afternoon.  Dorothy was right, you know.  There is no place like home.  Especially if it’s Oysterville!  And even if it’s wintery here in April.

Report From Oz — Day Eleven

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

Cherry Blossoms University of Washington Quad

So… is this the first day of Spring?  Or… is it coming tomorrow?  When I checked on Google, the message I got was:  Spring 2022 March 20th-21st.  The way I read it, the Season Gurus don’t really know which day it’s arriving…  or this year, Spring will be over day after tomorrow!

It’s definitely cold enough to still be winter.  On the other hand, the daffodils in Oysterville are looking brighter than ever and, for the brief time I was in town yesterday, the bay reflected the blue, blue sky.  In Seattle it has rained by fits and starts and certainly didn’t encourage the wearing of Spring Bonnets or the planning of Easter Parades.  But there may yet be time — Easter is relatively late this year:  April 17th.

When I begin to lament the weather, however, I realize that even the inclement Spring is preferable to the gray, climate-less hospital room in which Nyel is spending his time.  No soft breezes or whippy winds.  No squinty sun days or foggy gray building-shrouded evenings.  Same temperature, same filtered air, same old, same old.

However, there are miniscule changes happening with Patient Nyel.  His appetite is improving — or perhaps he’s finding the best menu options to order.  He’s back to heading up the Clean Plate Club.  Again, his IV diuretic drip has been increased a bit so that he actually lost over one liter of fluid yesterday, making his eleven-day total in the ten-pound range.  Specifically, he weighed in at 77.8 kilograms (171.51 pounds) on Wednesday, March 9th and, today weighs 73.45 kilograms (161.9).

“They” have not given him a target weight, but asked him what his goal was.  “151” was his answer.  That wasn’t completely out of the blue.  Dr. Trusted threw that number out several years ago as “probably” a good weight for Nyel.  Whether or not he can reach it now, and whether or not it is a realistic goal now is the question.  The bigger questions, of course, are:  how long will it take?  And, when can we get him home to Oysterville?


And there they were! The flying scrapbooks!

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Gordon was right!

I think there are 90 or 100 of them.  Scrapbooks! Year upon year of them about our lives — about the people we love; the places we’ve worked (The Bookvendor, Ocean Park School, Long Beach School, Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum when it was still the Ilwaco Heritage Museum); the community events we’ve been involved with (The Annual Oysterville Champagne and Croquet Gala, Vespers at the Historic Oysterville Church);and on and on and on.

“It’s a sickness,” Gordon used to say.  He had 110 of his own scrapbooks the last time I remember but I’m sure there were more after that.  They are all at the Heritage Museum now and mine are on their way to join them.  Nyel and I “review” two or three a day and once a week I ferry a few dozen more of ours to join Gordon’s.  That’s what I was doing today when DISASTER STRUCK!

I was loaded down, traveling on the front road and just passing Ocean Park School, when  I heard a peculiar whooshing -clumping sound that seemed to be following along behind me.  It took me until Klipsan to realize that something was seriously amiss.  Very seriously.   The trunk was wide open and it looked like a half dozen scrapbooks were gone. As in G-O-N-E.

And on it goes…

And I proceeded on — heartsick but with little hope of finding the missing treasures.  Betsy said, “You’ll find them.  Or someone will.  Put it on Facebook.”  I was less than hopeful but retraced my steps anyway.  Nowhere along the roadside through Klipsan, Ocean Park, or Nahcotta.  Back to the Oysterville Post Office where I thought the “speed bump parking strip” might have jiggled everything loose.  No luck.  On the final turn toward home, right there on the northwest corner of Oysterville and Territory Roads was a neat stack of four scrapbooks!

Mega thank yous to whoever the Good Samaritan of Lost Scrapbooks was!  Or maybe Gordon was being my Scrapbook Guardian!  However I earned such a blessing, I am eternally grateful.  And I can scarcely believe my good luck.


It could kinda take the edge off…

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Sky: blue.  Clouds: not a one.  Wind: a zephyr.  Oysterville: quietly anticipating  whatever the tides might bring.

It’s Thursday morning about dawn-thirty and promises to be a gorgeous day — though yesterday the weather man predicted it would “deteriorate.” Along those lines, Cate says we are definitely  in for it.  “A big drought coming to this neck of the woods.”  I’m trying not to let that prophesy take the edge off the here-and-now.

But it is scary.  Droughts mean dry surroundings.  Tinder dry.  The Californians are moving up here to get away from their own drought-related horrors.  Where will we go when it’s our turn?  I don’t think Canada wants us.  And, besides, this is where I belong.  As in Mary Englebreit’s cheery card, “Bloom where you’re planted.”   Though I don’t think she had droughts or climate change in mind.

Besides… if blooming is in store for me, this is certainly where I want it to happen.  Right here in Oysterville.

It was “one of them variable days.”

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Chef Nyel works on tomato pie.

“Old Bob,” Oysterville’s handyman in the ’60s and ’70s. used a lot of expressions that have stuck with us over the years.  He often would remark on “one of them arty fellas” when he saw someone working at an easel near the church.  And, when asked, he usually concluded that it was going to be “one of them variable days” weather-wise.  Like yesterday.

Mostly it was sunny, so Nyel wore his old Panama hat.  But it was also chilly, so he wore his vest.  It was drippy around the edges — early morning and later in the evening.  Not enough to notice, really, unless you were wearing only your “variable” outfit.

Ms. Geranium — ready for The Season after Nyel’s TLC.

For us it was clean up the hanging baskets and the potted geraniums on the porch.  I fetched and carried while Nyel did the real work.  I do believe those plants know his touch.  They seemed to perk up as soon as he began snipping away the old bits and scratching up the soil around the plants.  Everyone–twelve  fuschias and nine geraniums — except for three, wintered over just fine.  Definitely no thanks to me, their Assistant Caregiver.

Coals in the Firepit

While we worked, we could hear the chain saw across the way where Tucker, Carol, and Chris were still cleaning up the aftermath of the fallen alder tree.  And all afternoon and evening we could smell the delicious fragerance of alder smoke from T&C’s firepit where they were burning the bits and pieces.  All my senses reported that it was a perfect Spring day in the village.

It wasn’t until Nyel was almost ready to pop that tomato pie in the oven that I noticed he was still wearing his vest and his Panama hat, though he had been inside at his kitchen duties for almost an hour.  Yep!  One of them variable days!