Archive for the ‘Springtime in Oysterville’ Category

Lordy! Lordy! Should I be thanking Mrs. C.?

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023

Fall Down, Go Boom!

Only two pictures were knocked off the wall as the plumbers eased the hot water tank down the stairs — and neither one was damaged!  There were drops of rusty water left along the route and, once again, I congratulated myself on choosing that cranberry colored carpet years ago!  It is the most forgiving color imaginable.  And the entire tank-moving-operation could have been so much worse!

Step One in the Upstairs Water Heater Removal Project was to drain the water remaining in the forty-gallon tank — presumably forty gallons of (now) cold and somewhat rusty water if the outside overflow was an indication of what had settled at the bottom of the tank.  I (hovering downstairs and out of the way) offered one of our very long garden hoses (perfect!) for draining purposes but then heard a bit of discussion between the plumbers about a window!

Splitting from Bottom to Top

“You can run the hose downstairs and right out the East Door,” I called out.  They looked it over and within minutes that tank was empty and could be muscled downstairs on a dolly step-by-step — which is when the pictures got knocked off and the drips occurred.  When the tank was safely outside, they said, “Take a look!  I think we were just in time!”

OMG!  the entire seam up the back of the tank was splitting — popping out screws as we watched!  I truly think Mrs. Crouch was on our side for once.  Perhaps she’s super-sensitive to water having reached her demise by drowning.  Whatever the reason for our narrow escape, I am thankful beyond measure.

Oh!  And another thing!  We thought we had turned off the electricity to that pesky hot water tank.  Nope!  It wasn’t the upstairs breaker switches as we’d assumed, It was the ones downstairs!  So does that mean the water going out the hose was hot?  I didn’t think to ask,

And another thing… the water in the sink in the bar that wouldn’t turn on Saturday was an unrelated problem — the filter in the spigot was completely clogged with rust. (I do think Mrs. C. might have had something to do with that…) Now that’s also fixed but the house and I aren’t out of the woods (or water) yet, plumbing-wise.  Stay tuned.

Delbert Knapp, Esq. – The Old Lamp Lighter

Monday, June 19th, 2023

Delbert Knapp, Esq.

In the case of Tucker’s friend, Del, and the lamps in my house — it’s the lamps which are old, not the lamp lighter!  (And speaking of age… are you old enough to remember that song, “The Old Lamplighter of Long, Long Ago”?)  I can’t help associating Del and that song because he has worked on two of my old lamps to get them alight once more.

Fixed Last Summer

The lamps belonged to my grandparents and were originally gas lamps.  I have no doubt that they were used in the parlor and only for special occasions.  Otherwise, how would they have survived seven children and all the hubbub that went with their growing up years?

The Lamp With The Replicated Globe

Actually, one of the globes did not survive and my mother had a friend in San Francisco duplicate it from the pieces that had been saved.  It was in the 1960s and my mother, at that time, owned The Little Lamp and Shade Shop on College Avenue right on the Berkeley/Oakland border.  She specialized in custom lamps and shades and if she couldn’t make it for you (or in this case for herself), she knew someone who could!

 The Ailing Lamp

I’m not sure when the lamps were converted to electricity, but probably 80 or 85 years ago.  And in that length of time, parts wear out — especially switches.  Del is a genius at electrical (and probably other) stuff.  He spent the better part of two days last summer working on one of the lamps and it has been perfect since then.

Tonight, he tackled the other one — the one with the replicated shade.  One of the switches has not worked for some time, so Del to the rescue!  He was able to fix the pesky switch but needs to replace a light bulb and we didn’t have the right size on hand.  Tomorrow he plans to go to… yep! … Jack’s Country Store to find one small enough for his purposes.


Signs and Peonies

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

The First Red Peony

I’m not one for believing in signs and portents…  But maybe, just maybe, there’s a message in our garden’s one red peony.  It’s the only red one.  It’s never bloomed before.  But Nyel was ever hopeful.

He had planted the peonies years ago, babying them along year after year.  Most of the plants didn’t survive and the ones that did all had white buds.  Nyel had hoped for red.  Or at least pink.  Like the ones his grandmother grew back in Idaho.

“They were always in bloom in time to be taken to the cemetery on Decoration Day,” he would tell me.  They were his favorites when he was a kid. And the lilacs, too.

Teresa at the Planter Box said our winters just aren’t cold enough here.  “Put ice cubes around them every morning in winter,” she said, but it seemed too onerous.  Nyel was determined, though, and year by year the plants grew stronger, the stems stood straighter, the buds stayed on the stems long enough to bloom, and Nyel was encouraged — even if they were all white.

Nyel’s Peony

But this year… up came one red peony.  A beauty, too.  Yet, I wanted to scream at it:  “YOU ARE TOO LATE!  NYEL’S NOT HERE ANYMORE!”  But I didn’t.  I chose, instead, to think of this as his “one year anniversary gift” to the garden and me.  Maybe next year there will be two.



Here we go meeting and greeting in May!

Saturday, May 27th, 2023

1964 H.A. Espy Family Reunion

I don’t know whether to celebrate our togetherness or to lament the burgeoning burden of bureaucracy here in our little village of Oysterville.  Time was when families got together on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the end of winter, the beginning of sunshine and flowers, and just plain getting out of their long underwear for a while.

That was before my time, of course, but we still use our three-day holiday to get together.  Nowadays, the focus is meetings more than families — at least that has become the Saturday tradition on the Memorial Day weekend here in Oysterville. Those meetings began in 1977 or ’78 — soon after Oysterville was declared a National Historic District in 1976.  It was felt that the nuts and bolts of an organization to oversee the restoration of the church could best be worked out by the town at large.  And so the Memorial Day Saturday meetings of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) were begun and have continued ever since — albeit by zoom during the Pandemic.

 When electricity came to Oysterville in 1936, our old hand pump became yard art.

When the Water Board was formed in the 1990s, it seemed natural that they, too, should report the year’s activities to their membership on Memorial Day Saturday.  Sometimes they went first (at 9:00 a.m.) and sometimes ORF went first.

And today, we added yet another meeting!  Tucker Wachsmuth held the first ever (that I know of) Annual Memorial Day Meeting of the Oysterville Cemetery Association.  A fitting date, I thought.  Like the other two meetings, it was well attended and the project described for the coming months was of great interest — locating boundaries and burials in the Pioneer Section of the Cemetery.

All-in-all, it was a full morning and another year of Oysterville business got underway!

Kerosene Lamp, Oysterville Church


Not enough hours in the day…

Friday, May 26th, 2023

My “state of the art” electric typewriter on which I wrote a series of social studies texts in the early 1970s.

It seems to me that I get less done as the days go by, even though I have cut out a good number of activities as the years have passed.  First and foremost, I’m retired from teaching.  By my calculations that should give me at least ten hours per day (yes, ten) every weekday and often three or four hours on each of the weekend days.  Plus I wrote a series of K-5 text books subsequently adopted by the State of California to be used by every child K-5 child in public schools.  Admittedly, all his was back in the dark ages before technology made things easier and faster.  (Or does it?)

And I now have help in the garden so I’m not slogging around in the flower beds except for the occasional Slug Patrol or Deer Fence duties.  I don’t have  help in the house — never have had in this house — but I go by my mother’s mantra — “An old place like this (built in 1869) wouldn’t feel like home without a little patina of dust.”

Oysterville Schoolhouse — 100 years old in 2008

Plus I’ve given up any duties with Oysterville organizations — volunteer or otherwise.  And The Community Historian Project has turned a corner and is not based upon 15 weekly half-day classes.  I am hoping that our fledgling plans for a monthly History Forum at the Oysterville School September through May will not require too much of my non-existent time.

So… my question is:  what has become of all those hours in my life.  I seem to be busy all the time — tidying up, writing, researching, tidying some more.  But I fail to see very much actually accomplished.

Christmastime or anytime is rocking chair time these days!

I seem to remember my mother telling me now and then that my eyes were bigger than my stomach — reminding me, of course, to eat up everything on my plate or, more importantly, not to take so much next time.  Maybe there is an expression that relates to getting things done.  Perhaps, “My expectations exceed the realities of time and energy.”  Or, more likely, “Cut yourself some slack, old lady.”  Hmm.  Words to ponder.

Some things don’t change much, thankfully!

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

Memorial Day 1917

Oysterville is gearing up for Memorial Day Weekend — the biggest weekend of the year here in our little village.  Traditionally, it has been when families gather together to clean up the cemetery and decorate the graves of our forebears.  “Decoration Day” it was called from its earliest beginnings… until 1971.

Though the grave cleaning and decorating tradition goes back to our earliest settlements, it was during the years following the end of the Civil War in 1865, that so many American communities were tending to the remains and graves of an unprecedented number of war dead.

2014 Memorial Day, Oysterville Cemetery

Soon, the idea for an official, nation-wide holiday occurred on May 30, 1868 when Ohio Rep. James A Garfield, a former general and future U.S. president, addressed a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery.  After his speech the 5,000 visitors made their way into the cemetery to visit the tens of thousands of graves in the newly formed cemetery.

Gradually over the following years, local municipalities and states adopted resolutions  to make Decoration Day an official holiday in their areas.  As time went on, “Memorial Day” began to supplant “Decoration Day” as the name of the holiday, and it soon became a day to honor all fallen American troops, not just those from the Civil War. It wasn’t until 1968 that “Memorial Day” became an official national holiday.

Here in Oysterville we’ve celebrated our loved ones at the cemetery for 150 years or more.  These days,  the weekend is replete with meetings (The Water Company, The Oysterville Restoration Foundation, The Cemetery Association) on Saturday.  Cemetery decorating occurs on Sunday.  The VFW gathering to honor the war dead occurs early on Monday followed by (since 2004) the firing of their cannon by The Honorary Oysterville Militia.

And all weekend long, it is a time for visiting and renewing old friendships, sharing meals and stories and remembering why it is we are so connected to this village  and to one another.


Balderdash! There are DROVES of them!

Monday, May 22nd, 2023

Moles! Moles! Moles!

According to more than one “reliable” internet source: Moles are antisocial, solitary animals; they live alone except to breed. A mole typically travels more than one-fifth of an acre. No more than three to five moles live on each acre; two to three moles is a more common number…

Yeah!  Sure!  You betcha!   Breeding AND birthing seasons must be long over in our grassy patch in that case, and the young are grown and still taking lessons from mom on how to ruin the recently verdant vistas around my house.

Everywhere I look — more mole hills! Oh joy!

I am a bit confused about how I can legally get rid of these annoying critters.  It’s not as if there  aren’t plenty of yummy, grass covered open spaces in Oysterville that are NOT part of someone’s garden — especially not a part of MY garden.  But when I ask (again on the somewhat unreliable internet) if it is legal to kill the critters in Washington State, I get several different answers:

  1.  Moles are unclassified and people may trap or kill moles on their own property when they are causing damage to crops, domestic animals, or their property (RCW 77.36. 030).
  2. While moles are unclassified, meaning that people may trap or kill them on their own property when they are causing damage to crops, domestic animals, or property, traditionally used mole traps are illegal in Washington State due to their body-gripping design.

Lesson from our Hawthorne tree — Just rise above them!

So…it becomes another full-time occupation:  Moles and gophers can damage your lawn and garden. Control them humanely by eliminating their food source, spraying with liquid repellents, scattering repellent granules, using barriers and/or digging trenches lined with wire mesh or hardware cloth.

Yep!  I’ll get right on that.

A Forty-year First Outside My Window!

Friday, May 19th, 2023

Over my kitchen window — a double-decker barn swallow nest.

Several of last year’s nests appeared to be intact when the first barn swallows began to do their yearly house-hunting several weeks ago.  As usual, a pair claimed the one above the kitchen window right away.  I always think it’s a “family thing” — if not the same parents back for yet another year, probably one or more of their offspring.  Year after year, they re-line and refurbish that nest, ready to welcome yet a new generation.  And, in the years that winter storms or the occasional housepainter destroys the nest, a new one is begun.  Same spot, year after year.

So, when I saw Mr. and Mrs. arrive and get busy, I smiled at them (but mostly to myself) and left them alone.  It was only today that I went out to see why the activity seemed to have ceased.  Was mom already on the nest?  Or were they taking a break?

Above the window on the porch — a more traditional one-story nest, precariously perched as always.

I don’t think I can express to you the jumble of thoughts that flew through my head when I looked up.  A brand new nest, but INSIDE the old one!  A double-decker affair!  I have never seen anything quite like it in the barn swallow neighborhoods around this old house.  It looks like the beginnings of a high rise — although there won’t be much room for the third story.  Plus the first story looks to be all filled up — with the second nest!

What were they thinking?  Or maybe this is common practice in some areas and has just been introduced to Oysterville.  I do wish the swallows would tell me about it.  But, until they do, I think I’ll send a copy of the photograph to Dr. Madeline Kalbach.  Maybe she’s seen the “high-rise syndrome” among swallows before!   For me, it’s definitely a first!

Mother’s Day Has Already Begun!

Thursday, May 11th, 2023

Postcard From Charlie, 1964

As I was going through yet another pile of “keepsakes” today, I came across a postcard sent to me from Shasta Dam in 1964 from my son Charlie who was then eight years old.  This is what it said: I got a pocket from Shasta Dam.  Can’t talk long.  This telephone costs money. Bye.  “Click”  Your son, Charles.    It was addressed:  To Mommy, 5808 Greenridge, Castro Valley, Calif.

I’m not sure  what a “pocket” was — maybe Charlie can remember.  I’m so glad I kept this.  What a treasure!   Already he was thinking in alternative possibilities…

Letter from Mom, 1983

And then I ran across another treasure — this one from my mother written in November 1983, just after she and Dad had celebrated their 5oth wedding anniversary.  Mostly, she was thanking me for my “very efficient handling of all the last minute details” — not one of which I can remember and probably was getting credit for things not deserved!  But what tickled me was this paragraph, so typical of Mom:
Your father and I both agree that we accomplished our mission in life when we “Diddled” and produced you and you “Diddled” and brought forth Charlie.  We didn’t stop at half best, but we produced the top best!

 What a mom she was!  I miss her every day but never so much as when something zany strikes my funny bone and I know that only my inimitable mother would share in my delight.  I’m so glad I caught just a bit of her unique flavor!

Flowers From Charlie!

And just about then, the lovely Mother’s Day bouquet arrived from Charlie (via Nansen).  I feel like I am sharing it with his beloved Granny, as well.  What a lovely beginning to the holiday meant just for us mothers!  (Who all diddled, don’t forget!)




Hurry up Spring! Decoration Day’s a-comin’!

Tuesday, May 9th, 2023

A Slow Beginning for the Jean Maries

Finally!  The Jean Maries and their Rhodie friends are beginning to bloom.  But, except for the Mrs. G. W. Leaks, they are sort of spotty.  I’m thinking, “and so far, so has Spring been spotty.”  Not just “sort of” either.  VERY spotty!  I guess I should be thanking the flower goddesses that we have any blossoms at all!

And, of course, almost everything is a tad late but, I must say, trying mightily to catch up.  My dad’s birthday is May 12th (he’d be 113 this year) and the Jean Maries were always in full flower for his natal day.  I’m not sure they will be this year… but close!

Memorial Day 2009 – Espy Lot,  Oysterville Cemetery

And on the plus side — maybe we’ll have some of the late bloomers coming on at the end of the month in time for “Decoration Day” at the Cemetery.  (I really do like that name better than Memorial Day, don’t you?  Much more festive; not so somber.)

In “the olden days,” the whole town would turn out on Decoration Day, itself, and clean up the graveyard, putting flowers on the graves of loved ones and making sure that each stone was swept clean of pinecones and free from moss and encroaching grass.

Jason Huntley, Oysterville Cemetery 2010

Nowadays, the Oysterville Cemetery Association hires someone to mow  the grounds and keep the blow-down picked up, so most of us only need to go up a few days before Memorial Day to put out our flowers.  It always looks so welcoming on May 30th when the VFW comes to do their short ceremony, and the townsfolk gather to pay their respects to those who have preceded us.

It’s a tradition that will have more poignancy than ever for me this year.  I wonder how I will manage to make it through the playing of taps.