Archive for the ‘Summer in Oysterville’ Category

Was Sunday ever “a day of rest”?

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Sydney and Erin — At Sunday Brunch

It seems to me that Sunday is a scrambling day.  Scrambling to finish up what didn’t get done on Saturday.  Scrambling to get things started (and finished!) for Sunday dinner.  Scrambling to get our ducks in a row for the upcoming week.  Why did we used to call it “a day of rest” anyway?

I do remember that when I was just beginning school in Alameda, my mother got up to see me off to Sunday School… and then went back to bed.  Only once in a while did my parents go to church and when I asked why, they said they had had enough church at the University of Redlands — a Baptist institution — to last a lifetime.  I think they were obligated to attend a church service every day and I specifically remember her saying that there were five (count ’em five services) on Sundays.  YIKES!  So maybe they felt they had earned a day of rest.  Or at least a morning.

Blum’s, San Francisco – 1890s – 1970s

I do remember, too, that it was often on Sundays that we “went for a drive” — sometimes out into the countryside where we once bought my dog, Zipper.  And sometimes (at Christmastime, especially) into San Francisco to see the Christmas trees in the windows along the Marina or to wander the downtown streets and look at the magical displays in the department store windows.  Sometimes on Sundays we went and got a hot fudge sundae (which I always thought was funny — a sundae on a Sunday) as a special treat.

Looking back, I don’t know that Sundays were as much a day of rest as a day to have family fun — the only day of the week with two working parents that such activities were possible.  But like they say: a change is as good as a rest.  And therein must lie the problem when you are retired and every day is a sort of Sunday…

Toes Up On The South Lawn

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Windy Aftermath

Once again the garden chairs have been blown belly-up by the wind.  It doesn’t take much to buffet these plastic Adirondack chairs into submission.  After all, they are lightweight enough that I can stack all four and carry them from place to place.  So,  a “real storm” is hardly a requirement for blowing them over.

Nevertheless, yesterday could almost be classified as “stormy” here in Oysterville.  The rain seemed relentless, as did the wind.  The flags on the churchyard flagpole whipped and snapped all day and it was cold and gray and uninviting out.

Last Night’s Cozy Fire

Besides which, the chickens had gone to roost by five o’clock — about two hours early for these last days of summer.  They were hunkered down, seemingly resigned to a long and drafty night with the wind whistling around the coop. I wonder if this gloom and sog while summer is still upon us portends a difficult autumn and winter ahead.

On the other hand… the sun is shining this morning as we speak, despite the weatherman’s prognostication of more rainy gloom and doom for today and tomorrow.  That’s the best part of the weather here in Oysterville:  if you don’t like it, wait a minute and it’ll change!

His arms were up her skirts — to the elbows!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Last Year’s Plums!

There is nothing quite like coming upon the violation of your one and only plum tree!  With all due respect (and love) for Judy Eron’s song, “I Picked His Plum Trees Bare,” seeing such a transgression as it was happening right here a stone’s (or pit’s) throw from our house, did not bring out the best in me.

We were just coming home after erranding to the south and, as we passed the lane (Clay Street), I glanced east toward the bay and saw someone being way too cozy with our plum tree.  Our one-and-only plum tree — actually an Italian prune — that we had purchased, planted in our yard some years ago, and when it suffered failure-to-thrive syndrome, transferred to an area just outside our fence.  For a year or two, as long as Nyel was able, Nyel picked the plums around Labor Day each year.  Last year, with the help of Tucker and his granddaughter Amelia, we harvested enough fruit to divide among us.   This year we’ve been watching eagerly and today or tomorrow, we thought, would be the harvest.

Nyel Harvesting Plums in 2018

I braked, backed up, and headed down the lane just as the plum thief started our way toward his parked (in the lane) car.  His hands were cupped around a half dozen or so gorgeous plums.  OUR plums!  I rolled down my window and called out to him, “I think you have my plums!”

“Really?  I didn’t know…  I live nearby and have been walking my dog here for years.  I’ve never seen a fence around that tree or a private property sign on it…”

It was definitely a dé·jà vu moment.  Forty years of reprimanding recalcitrant 1st/2nd/3rd graders came bubbling forth:  “Why in the world would that be necessary?  Plum trees don’t grow wild around here that I know of.  We planted it!  Those plums belong to us!”

“Do you want them?” he asked.

“Yes!” I thrust my hands out the window and he dumped them in.  We waited until he was gone, then turned the car around and went home.  There were seven plums!  They were delicious!


The Best Laid Plans…

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

Cousin Alex

We learned yesterday afternoon that the long-awaited visit by my cousin Alex and his friend Katie will not be happening after all.  Their August 19th Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Portland has been cancelled — “not enough support crew to fly. and unable to find a replacement flight within 48 hours.” Their visiting window of opportunity ran out.

We are beyond disappointed.  It’s a visit we’ve been planning on for several months.  But, beyond that are the implications in an ever-growing stream of disruptions to whatever “back-to-normal” we had been hoping for.  Here on the Peninsula, “Help Wanted” and “Now Hiring” signs proliferate — to the extent that Adelaide’s in Ocean Park, for one,  is closed for lack of employees.  And in some other kind of domino effect, friends have reported that the shelves at Okie’s and other grocers on the Peninsula are bare.  To say nothing of the events that have been cancelled — Vespers, the Kay Buesing Kite Festival Gathering, the Oysterville Regatta Awards Ceremony — and those just for starters.

Visitors to Oysterville, both masked and unmasked, preface remarks to us with “We’ve been fully vaccinated.”  However, these days, that isn’t really very reassuring to anyone.  “Breakthrough” and “variant” and “Delta” and “booster shot” have crept into our vocabulary bigtime.  We are beginning to wonder about phrases of reassurance such as “herd immunity” —  and just how did humanity survive plagues through the ages when they not only didn’t know the cause but had no idea about any the “science” that the experts are telling us to count on?

And then, this very morning I saw a familiar name in an online New York Times article — a comment by an old friend of Nyel’s:  Our whole family were all vaccinated as soon as it was possible to do so, yet our grandson, who has been working in a day camp this summer, brought home the Delta variant. Luckily, our daughter-in-law is a scientist and got everyone tested as soon as he had a runny nose. Our grandson and his mom were positive, our son and granddaughter were negative and we are waiting to find out if my husband and I are positive. — Beda Herbison, Seattle   

Spectators – Oysterville Regatta 2017

As we watch what is happening right here in Oysterville — those touched by the virus and its variants as well as those who proclaim “it’s over!” — we wonder if there will ever be a return to normal as it was three or four years ago.  And, if not, will our little village survive a “new normal.”  Somehow I think there are parallels to the old rural way of life of the 1800s giving way to the agribusiness models of today.  But I can’t quite wrap my head around it yet…  I’m still stuck on missing out on a visit from Alex and Katie.

A Lot More Fun Than Anticipated

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

First Stop: Oysterville Post Office

It’s always gratifying when a day of errands and clean-up and boring old have-to’s turns into a day of pleasant surprises.  And through no effort or fault of your own.

I did the usual house and garden and chicken chores, waited for Nyel to do an invoice for a dozen ghost books for the Cranberry Museum, and set out out to deliver the order.  First stop:  Oysterville Post Office  Mailed the outgoing.  Nothing incoming.  Halfway to Cranberry Museum I noticed I’d missed sending the AT&T payment.  Drat.  “On my way back,” thought I.

At the Cranberry Museum there was a line.  It was 11:00 straight up.  Presumably they’d been open an hour.  But there was a notice on the door:  “Open at 11:00” and something about a “Private Party.”  Yes, I thought I’d seen a group of kids out on a tour of the bogs…

I lugged the books around to the back door (which was wide open) went in through the conference room, through the kitchen, skirted the museum (and another group of kids and several adults — all of whom were masked, as was I) and on into the Gift Shop.  As I set books and invoice on the counter, a woman suddenly materialized in front of me.  “Sydney?” “Miki?”

It was all I could do to keep from giving her a huge hug, “re-sheltering” or not.  She was there as a volunteer adult presence for a Long Beach Elementary Summer School field trip to the Cranberry Museum.  (Of course she was!  It there is a need, especially with kids involved, Miki will be there!)  We did a two-minute catch up and promised ourselves a coffee get together.  Somewhere.  Soon.

As I drove off the grounds, I had to stop as that group of bog-touring kids crossed the road.  And who should I see but Ardelle, another long-since retired teaching colleague — but, of course, she has a pretty heavy-duty cranberry connection, too!  Fun to see her with a group of kids instead of riding around the bogs on her tractor.

And… back at the Post Office, the strangest encounter of all.  A lovely woman introduced herself to me — said she knew Nyel from our old Bookvendor days.  “I was very sorry to read what your neighbor had to say in the paper recently about Nyel’s truck.  You’d be surprised how many people have mentioned how inappropriate those comments were.”  I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.  But I was grateful for her words.

Errand day turned out to be better than anticipated.  For sure.



Best Birthday Bunny Hunt Ever!

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Black bunnies were plentiful.

In our household, if the celebration is about a birthday ending with a five or a zero, it’s a Big Deal.  Nyel’s  birthday yesterday celebrated turning to a number ending in eight, so we decided to low key it and go on a Bunny Rabbit Hunt.  It was a first for us, though we’ve heard about such excursions from Tucker and Carol and their grandchildren.

We left home about 7:45 p.m. — probably a little early — thinking that with all the low-lying fog, dusk would come sooner rather than later.  That’s when the bunny rabs come out to feed — a little before dusk.  And no sooner had we turned north onto I Street from Oysterville Road that we spotted the first one.  No two.  And, look over there — there are three more.

Crossing I Street in the Fog

I stopped the car; Nyel took pictures.  The bunnies froze in place for a minute or two and then hoppity- hopped away.  We continued driving slowly, first north and then south, up one street and down another.  There were lots of bun rabs on G Street — all of them on nicely manicured lawns.  We only saw one or two in vacant lots and only in areas where the grass was short.  That’s not to say ther weren’t any in the tall grass areas, but we surely couldn’t see them if they were there.

Altogether we saw 23 — all sizes and all colors.  Blonds, brunettes, redheads, lots of black bunnies, but no pure whites.  We also saw three deer — a doe and a buck (both large) on I Street and a single doe on Sandridge Road as we were returning home.

Blondie Blending In

So much fun!  So much better than a snipe hunt!  Highly recommended for grandchildren and armchair (or car seat) hunters of all ages!  And definitely the best birthday bunny hunt ever, especially considering it was a first!

Moody Summer in Oysterville

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

The Church in Perfect Picture-Taking Weather – by Marta LaRue

Sometimes it glowers.  Sometimes it spits.  Once in a great while it’s bright and cheerful.  For the most part, our Oysterville weather has been just plain moody this summer.  If it was a kid, I’d send it to its room or out for a long walk.  “Get over yourself,” I want to say.

But then I think about the “weather conditions” in other places — high winds, tornados, excessive rainfall, thunderstorms, river flooding, droughts.  Any place you can think of has problems far worse than ours.  Moody is definitely preferable to  extreme or violent!

Marta Ready to Photograph Oysterville in All Her Moods

Besides, I might be the only one that’s noticing.  The visitors are still arriving in droves.  Cyclists and walkers and even a horseback rider buzz and stride and clip-clop along Territory Road.   Kids attending the Oysterville Science Academy happily call out to each other in the schoolyard and now and then there is a canoe or sailboat out on the bay.  It seems to be summer as usual, no matter the weather.

And Marta says, “It’s perfect picture-taking weather!”  She is everywhere with camera in hand.  Never has our garden looked so lovely.  And never have the clouds grouped themselves around the church steeple so artistically.  Somehow, Marta and the weather are in perfect agreement about the beauty of Oysterville!


How many differences can you find?

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Jean Nitzel and Son

Remember those pictures — often in the comics section of the Sunday paper — that seemed at first glance to be identical, but weren’t?  I used to love those.  And for some reason I thought of them, only in a completely different way, when our friend Jean Nitzel wrote that she had arrived safely in Maine.  Day before yesterday she wrote on Facebook:  So happy to get off the train and put my feet on solid ground. At my son’s house in Maine here for a couple of weeks. Lots to see and do. Another check off my bucket list.

She kept us all apprised of her progress across the country with periodic pictures and comments on Facebook.  Change trains in Chicago.  Coming up soon.  A bit nervous about that.  They said they would have someone to help.  Moving around train feels like you are in a pinball machine.  Not very stable.  Is nice to just sit and look out the window  I’m on upper deck and is pretty rocky.  Reading a lot.

So that’s one “picture.”  The other that came to mind was the train trip my aunt Medora’s “chums” from Olympia took to come to the Peninsula for a visit in 1913 — 108 years ago.  Of course, they were young — had just completed their Freshman year in high school.  And train travel was, by comparison, relatively new.  Here is what one of the girls, Elizabeth Ayer, wrote home to her mother about that trip:

Elizabeth wrote this account to her mother on July 10, 1913 – almost 108 years to the day before Jean began her own train journey:

Elizabeth Ayer, Marie Strock, Medora Espy – 1912

Dear Mamma,
…  Mr. Strock bought our tickets.  Also a life insurance apiece.  They were for one day and $25.00.  Well we got aboard baggage, cherries, candy and all.  Made a very slow trip to Tenino.  It seemed to me that we crossed the new railroad about every half hour.  Marie immediately dived into a novel, the characters of which eloped in the second chapter, while I gazed out of the windows.  Some of the workers waved at us.  In Tenino we had to wait about 20 minutes.    In which time Marie read and I asked about 50 questions at the office concerning our trip.  From Tenino to Centralia the trip was quite uneventful.  Very nice depot at Centralia.  Here we deposited our baggage preparatory to a good rest.  I then inquired about the train to South Bend and found that it was at the end of the station.  Then we made a rush for the train, got into the parlor car… so we got off the car to take another.  We were about 3 hr. getting to South Bend.  There were only about 10 babies in our car and they all made as much music as they could.  At South Bend we deposited our baggage while I inquired about the boat to Nahcotta.  The man at the window said it was at the wharf and that we would have to hurry.  Then he rushed out, grabbed our baggage, and told us to follow. 

The next part of Elizabeth’s story, though not about train travel, is an interesting look back at how visitors got to the beach from points north a century ago:

He led the way across the tracks and through grass past our knees.  Soon as we came in sight of the boat, our guide yelled to the captain that he had a couple of passengers for him.  Then the Captain met us and took the baggage.  He wasn’t much more than a boy.  The captain took our suitcases down below and the boat started … As we neared the ocean, the water grew very much rougher and it became impossible to stand alone.  I went down and got my raincoat and then we staggered forward and clung onto the gangplank and the water washed over the front and soaked our legs.  (It was great.)  Finally, Marie wanted to go down and read and I wanted to change my hat so we waited until the boat was tipped to suit our fancy.  Then we made a dash for a ladder, got ahold of it and after half an hour managed to fall downstairs and finely got my suitcase and after much work got out my hat.  I spent most of the 3 hours up in front.  One time when I was leaning over the rail reading a notice concerning corked boots, the captain leaned out of the window and inquired if my pal was sick.  She was leaning on the pilot house.  We ate our lunch about 3 o’clock.

Bay View Hotel — White building on left, across railroad tracks from Morehead & Company

Don’t know when the stage goes so will give the most important part of my letter.  I have left in the way of funds the money to get my ticket back and 50 cents beside of which I owe Medora 20 cents for postals and intend to put the 30 cents in on films.  So that will leave me without a cent.  And have just discovered that we will have to stay over night in South Bend which will be 50 cents beside meals so need more money.
          We met Medora half way up the wharf.  She is the same good natured goodfornothing that she was last winter.  We took dinner at the Bayview Hotel, Nahcotta.  Had a three minute steak.  Everybody stared at us….  The hotel is kept by a family of 14 or 16 all of whom dressed up in honor of our presence.  Medora said it was the first time in her life she had seen them dressed up.  Drove to Oysterville behind Coaly…

So… how many differences did you find between now and then?  Or, perhaps it would be easier to name the things that were alike!

Now THAT’S impressive!

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

There’s been lots of construction in Oysterville the last few years — much of it centered in and around the historic old church.  But nothing has impressed me more that today’s sight at Tucker and Carol’s.  Wow!  At first it looked like a big, blue rainbow right over their house.  But then… I looked again.

What I was seeing was the immense chute arcing from the cement truck in their driveway over the house and into their backyard.  Without the space to drive the truck to the back, it was the only way to do the upgrade to their existing firepit.  That involved incorporating the huge rocks of the original firepit and making a cement surround wide enough to accommodate comfortable seating as you roast your hotdogs marshmallows.  It will be fantastic!  And right in time to get “broken in” before the Regatta Dinner in late August.

Tucker’s Grandparents Van Fleet, Arthur Nelson, n Brothers Dan and Doug at Camp Tagum

I don’t remember when the original firepit went in behind the cabin — probably shortly after Tucker and Carol bought the place from another Wachsmuth family member.  Maybe in the late seventies, eighties?  I’m not sure. What I am fairly certain about is that Wachsmuth firepits harken back to the days at Camp Tagum at Sherwood Forest up by Leadbetter Point.  That’s where Tucker and his two older brothers spent a lot of their summer vacations when they were kids, camping out with their mom and dad and with various family members and friends.

They’ve carried on that tradition with their own kids and friends and now, grandkids, right here in their own back yard in Oysterville.   Long, lazy summer evenings poking sticks in the fire, telling old  stories, singing songs.  Sometimes the younger set sleeps out near the firepit — under the stars or in tents, depending on the weather.  New generations making summer memories.  And surely one of those memories will be “the time the blue rainbow was over Oma’s and Opa’s house.”



The Aftermath

Monday, June 28th, 2021

The hydrangeas sit south of our house
Two of them, side by side.
They seem to be sisters
About the same size
Blooming together
Year after year.

Why then
Is one smiling with health
And one curled up in death
Today after our
105° of Sunday sunshine?
It doesn’t seem fair.