Archive for the ‘The World Beyond’ Category

The Balancing Act

Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Downtown Long Beach

Last evening during our Friday Night Gathering, Jean Nitzel mentioned that she had tried (years ago) to interest the City Fathers of Long Beach in converting the main street to a Pedestrians Only Zone — just from Bolstad Avenue to Sid Snyder Drive and just in the summer.  It didn’t get anywhere back then — a gazillion excuses were given beginning with “that stretch is part of the State Highway System…”  But they didn’t even try, Jean said.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

And, I must say, there wasn’t much discussion about it last night, either.  I’m not sure why.  I thought it was a great idea, myself, and was reminded of the many streets in Europe that are “pedestrians only” — Rue Montorgueil in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Carnaby Street in London, Strøget in Copenhagen — and many others throughout the world — even in Seattle.  I was saddened that the city of Long Beach wouldn’t even give the idea the time of day.

There are also streets called woonerfs — a street or square where cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other local residents travel together without traditional safety infrastructure to guide them.  Also, sometimes called a “shared street,” a woonerf is generally free of traffic lights, stop signs, curbs, painted lines, and the “usual” guides to travel behavior.  The idea behind them is to reduce accidents and, amazingly, the statistics prove that this has happened.

While I can’t quite image the main drag in Long Beach becoming a woonerf, I must say that on many days in the summer, Territory Road in Oysterville comes close.  And my observation is that everyone is more observant and courteous and many of our visitors really take time to enjoy the village — a pleasant change from the usual speed-through at 40 mph!


So, here we are in the year of the rabbit…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023


In the years that I lived in the Bay Area — from 1941 when I was five until 1978 when I moved to Oysterville — Chinese New Year was always an important occasion.  In the early years, we would sometimes go into San Francisco’s Chinatown for the big New Year’s parade but later — when we had television — we could watch the highlights without the hassle of the crowds.  Still… it was a Big Deal.

Now… not so much, though if I remember (which is seldom), I call my friends, the Quans’ in Fresno and wish them Good Luck in the New Year.  This year, of course, the Monterey Park mass shooting on the eve of the Lunar New Year erased our thoughts of celebration entirely.  What a world we live in, these days!  Scary doesn’t half describe it.  (And if you haven’t yet read Cate Gable’s column, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”  in yesterday’s Chinook Observer, I suggest that you do so.  You can find it online by Googling:  Am I My Brother’s Keeper Chinook Observer.)

So, I’ve just gotten ’round to finding out a little more about this Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rabbit.  In the Chinese tradition, the Rabbit is the fourth of all zodiac animals. According to the online site,
Legend has it the Rabbit was proud—arrogant even — of its speed. He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was. One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. Rabbit set off at daybreak. But when he got there, no other animals were in sight. Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived. One of them was the Ox he had always looked down upon.
The story is so reminiscent of Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare that I can’t help but wonder how they might be connected.

In any case, in Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon. Some say it is because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.  To outsiders, the Rabbit’s kindness may make them seem soft and weak. In truth, the Rabbit’s quiet personality hides their confidence and strength. They are steadily moving towards their goal, no matter what negativity the others give them.  With their good reasoning skills and attention to detail, they make great scholars. They are socializers with an attractive aura. However, they find it hard to open up to others and often turn to escapism.  A plain and routine life is not their style. Though conservative and careful in their actions, they need surprises every so often to spice things up.

In general (depending upon date ranges) those born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011 were born in the Year of the Rabbit.

It’s hard to keep up!

Monday, November 28th, 2022

Charlie and Sydney at Stanford Commencement, June 16, 1957

Sometimes (maybe oftener and oftener) I am totally confused by what I read.  The source doesn’t seem to matter.  This morning  it was a sentence in the New York Times.  It went like this:
Nine-year-olds lost the equivalent of two decades of progress in math and reading, according to an authoritative national test. Fourth and eighth graders also recorded sweeping declines, particularly in math, with eighth-grade scores falling in 49 of 50 states…

Amazing!  Imagine nine-year-olds losing 20 years of math and reading learning!  It boggles my mind!  And just how are they testing kids on their achievement in basic subjects these days, anyway?  I’d like to see the test that could determine what an individual knew more than a decade previous to their conception!  Huh???  Say what???

So… giving the reporter the  benefit of the  doubt, I’ve tried to parse out the meaning.  The sentence I quoted was in an article by Sarah Mervosh and began: Remote learning erased students’ progress in math and reading.  Perhaps Ms. Mervosh meant that the test scores had slipped when compared to test scores of two decades ago.  That would make a little more sense.  Maybe.  But that’s not what was written.

NYT Newsroom In “The Olden Days”

It all led me on a fanciful flight of journalistic wonder — as in how many decades has the NYT lost in the communication skills of their writers due to the effects of remote investigating and reporting.  Perhaps more than we can imagine.

But then, I tend to be tough on writing standards — my old 1957 BA in Journalism from Stanford still shakes a finger now and then at what I read.  And that criteria DOES go back few decades to be sure!


Is it that post-

Another Naked Turkey Story!

Sunday, November 27th, 2022

Not Quite Table-Ready!

Some years ago,when I was nine, I wrote a story called “The Naked Turkey” for the Children’s section of the Oakland Tribune.  It was my first published work and was life-changing — but not in a way you might imagine.  You can read it in my blog of November 21, 2010 at:

This year I ventured forth on my first solo trip without Nyel as navigator and, amazingly (and among a few other disasters) that naked bird came back to haunt me.  (Actually, it appeared in all its glory to my Thanksgiving hostess, Kuzzin Kris.)

There had been a bit of a premonition about how this holiday would go.  When I took my lunch break at the Salem Rest Stop, my GPS stopped working.  “Never mind,” thought I.  “I have Kris’s very clear written directions for which freeway exit, off ramps etc. to take me to her new apartment in Beautiful Downtown Eugene.”

Not As Simple As It Appears

Of course, I didn’t think about how I might keep one eye on the road and the other on the rather complicated directions which, I soon gave up and just got the hell off the converging on, off and who-know-what ramps as fast as possible.  I ended up in a HUGE GoodWill parking lot and a lovely young woman talked on my cell phone to Kris and explained…

That was Wednesday.  On Thursday, we”scratched-and-laughed” and got ready for Kris’s friend. Judy, who was joining us for dinner.  No cooking, though.  The entire meal, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and even brussel sprouts with garlic would be ready for pick-up at Safeway at three o’clock.  Kris, in full hostess mode, went by herself to pick up the meal in her little red wagon.

It seemed to take a long time and, when she returned, Kris was a bit subdued.  Apparently all the accoutrements were cooked to perfection but the turkey was not only naked but totally raw.  A discussion ensued (as you might imagine).  Kris had been gone from Eugene for several years and during the interim Safeway had stopped offering cooked turkeys.  Which prompted a lot of questions like then why offer a full Thanksgiving meal ready to eat???  Time for such deep marketing examination was limited however…

Kris And Her Handy-Dandy Little Red Wagon

“But what shall I do?” she asked the clerks (who I think by this time had gathered ’round in sympathy.)   “How about chicken?” someone said.  “We have both roasted and fried and we could cut them up and give you the portions you’d like of each kind…”

“Done!” said Kris!  And I have to say that it was the best Thanksgiving Turkey-less dinner ever!  Topped off by two pies and then a visit to another friend’s place for two more pies.

I’m sure there were lessons learned, as well.  But, really… who cares?  We were replete!

Gone! No regrets! No remorse! No landline!

Thursday, July 28th, 2022

Goodbye! Over and Out!

You’d think that I’d miss it.  But, I’m here to tell you that after 86 years of being tethered to the outside world via a telephone line, I don’t feel even a twinge of repentance for my decision.  Actually, “our” decision.  Nyel was the one who ordered Starlink so that we’d have a chance at reliable internet.  And he was the one most looking forward to cutting that CenturyLink cord.

So… as of 8:30 a.m. on Monday… tah dah!  My connection to others on this planet is dependent upon cell phone towers and the neat little Starlink dish and router which “beams internet data, not through cables, but via radio signals through the vacuum of space. Ground stations on the planet broadcast the signals to satellites in orbit, which can then relay the data back to users on Earth.”  Do I understand it?  Hardly a word.  So… we’ll see.

Starlink Dish

The only part of the changeover which gave me a momenetary pang — letting go of my landline number which I’d had for 43 years — half my life!  But, in recent years most incoming calls on that number have been sales pitches, donation requests, or spam.  People who really need to get in touch either have a cell number, an email address, or can find me on social media.  Options galore!

Now if I can only remember to keep track of that cell phone…


Report From Oz – Day Ten

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

Not many changes in Patient Nyel’s situation today.  Another bit of weight gain (Boo! Hiss!).  An increased amount of medication in his IV Drip (Yay!),  Exercise Program proceeding as hoped (more clapping and cheering.)

Meanwhile, I hitched a ride into Oysterville — not literally, of course — and managed to: 1) do a load of laundry and repack my bag with clean clothes; 2) Pay a stack of bills from the past week’s mail that Carol and Tucker had left on the dining room table for me; 3) gather up a few items that Nyel had requested — shaving gear and other toiletries; the last two Chinook Observers; an unread library book; a partial box of dilettante chocolates.

All of this was thanks to the chauffeuring generosity of Michael Lemeshko who thought he might do a few errands in Ilwaco in preparation for the April Walking Tour he will be presenting there.  But, as it turned out, he walked around Oysterville, instead; then visited with Tucker and Carol, toured Tucker’s pinball arcade and won three free games which he “gifted” to Tucker when we left.  By two o’clock we had dropped off the mail at the post office, returned two books to the Ocean Park Timberland Library, and were ordering turkey and cheese sandwiches at Molly’s Station in Seaview.

The day was punctuated by phone calls back and forth with Patient Nyel and by calls from friends “just checking in.”  It was raining in Seattle when we left at 7:00 a.m. and, again, 12 hours later when we returned.  In Oysterville, the sky was blue, the clouds puffy and white, the sun shining.  As they say, “there’s no place like home…” —  except when your most important half is still back in Oz.!

Thanks, Mr. Frommer. You changed my life!

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

Did the original actually look like this reproduction? I can’t remember…

In 1957, Arthur Frommer published a pioneering guidebook called “Europe on Five Dollars a Day.”  In 1958, my (then) husband and I packed up our essentials, rented out our house,  and set off with our eighteen-month-old son to find out if, indeed, we could manage on that amount of money.  We could and we did.  For a year.

We took the SS. Ryndam of the Holland American line from NYC to Calais, then the train to Paris where we bought a used Hillman station wagon and proceeded to travel as far east as Turkey, as far north as Scotland, and as far south as Morocco — not in that order. We moved at a leisurely pace, following the sun and getting off the beaten path as much as possible.  Sometimes we rented apartments for a month; sometimes we stayed in pensiones; sometimes in gasthauses or inns or hotels.

We found early on that fresh milk wasn’t always available so Charlie learned to eat yoghurt.  I got used to being scolded by well-meaning grandmothers (in French; in Italian; in Greek; in Turkish and in Yugoslavian, which I think was properly called Serbo-Croation) for delaying Charlie’s toilet-training until he was two which was what Dr. Spock, the American baby guru recommended.  Charlie’s dad and I traded off visits to museums and art galleries with child-minding duties at fabulous city parks or along exotic shores.  We tried to see and experience everything we could — within our $5.00 a day limit which for two of us plus toddler was usually less than double that amount.

Charlie at Lido di Jesolo. Venice, 1959

As the years passed, I returned to Great Britain and the Continent many times and, even after the euro came along, I still tried to follow Frommer’s general advice — eat in the “neighborhoods” not in the tourist locations; there’s nothing wrong in refusing an ensuite room and, instead, using the bathroom down the hall; treat yourself to a “big splurge” every once in a while; speak as much of the local language as you can manage; try almost anything once.

I kept detailed notes about my expenses on those trips and just ran across two of those accountings — one from 1964 (first day in Paris, $13.44, for two) and from 1974 when I acted as guide for my folks on their first European venture — a note that on June 10th I had spent 63 francs and 90 centimes or #12.78 for the day which included hotel, lunch, cigarettes, tolls (for what?)

“Those were the days my friends…”


Words to live by? Fuggedaboudit!

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

The Oyster Crackers – scheduled for August 1st but, sadly, cancelled.

August 3rd and it’s my first blog of the month.  To say that yesterday and the day before were difficult would be understatements beyond compare.  On the other hand, beautiful bonus daughter Marta was here — the last two days of a ten day visit.  Definitely the bright side of an otherwise terrible, horrible, no good, very bad couple of days.  Alexander and Judy Viorst would absolutely understand.

It all began early on Sunday morning with the decision to close the 2021 Vespers Season —  just six hours before the first service was to begin.  Carol and I, who had volunteered in the first place to schedule the Sunday programs for August and September, scrambled to undo everything we had spent the month of July pulling together.  The day’s participants were notified.  Signs were posted on the church doors.  Would-be congregation members were met in the churchyard by Tucker who explained…  And then we began notifying all the other fabulous volunteers.  No Vespers in 2021.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to any of us, one of our neighbors awaited the Covid testing of relatives — all fully vaccinated — who had visited here last week.  So far, two of the five have tested positive for Covid, two have tested negative, one still awaits test results.  The only other two people they came in contact with here have thankfully tested negative.  Although we heard about this late in the day, the news strongly reinforced the decision to close the Vespers season.

Double J and The Boys — scheduled for August 8th but, sadly, cancelled.

So did the 480% increase in Covid cases in Pacific County during the last two weeks being reported by our Health Department.  And so did a letter from one of the ministers scheduled for later in the month:  I am truly sorry to be sending you this notice, but I cannot in good conscience participate in the Oysterville church service, due to the current Covid surge. There is just not sufficient space to make distancing anything like possible; it sounds to me like a super-spreader event just waiting to happen. I want you to know, I am truly sorry.

And, of course, there were rumors.  Reasons (not even close) for why there will be no vespers.  “Information” that “Covid is over.”  “Directives” that we were to re-schedule vespers — not!  “Information” via social media and coming to us by emails was scary in its distance from truth or fact — at least as Carol and I knew the situation to be.   I finally just had to console myself with the words of the late Gordon Bressack, “Fuggedaboudit!”

This morning I hugged Marta tight when I said goodbye.  You never know these days when that can happen again!  Stay safe out there, everybody.  It ain’t over yet…

Meet Young Mr. Rosencrantz!

Sunday, July 11th, 2021

When Happy Kitty died after a long (was he 19?) and contented life, Charlie knew that eventually he would get another kitten.  He has always had two at a time and Lupe, who is six, might miss her “brother.”

But, adopting a kitty in the Los Angeles area is apparently no easy task.  Charlie began the process shortly after his return home from here in June and, just yesterday, finally brought twelve-to-fourteen-week-old Rosencrantz home from the “adoption agency.”  No sooner had they arrived than several things happened almost simultaneously.

I brought Rosencrantz home. He jumped out of the carrier and ran and hid, said Charlie on Facebook.  And then:  I shouldn’t have let him just jump out of the carrier. I should have picked him up and held him for a moment. He can’t get outside. I just have to wait.  And later:  Just needs to acclimate a little bit.

Meanwhile, Lupe, who has been with Charlie since she was even younger than Rosencrantz, was less than pleased.  When, finally, Charlie reported:  Rosencrantz came out and alternately runs around, then hides again.  Lupe is hissing at me!  I’ve betrayed her!  And still later,  (in a bit of a panic), Lupe is crying!  Real tears!

During our weekly family zoom meeting, Lupe perched on a high bookcase behind Charlie, keeping her eye on everything, us included. Rosencrantz snuck hither and thither but never within range of the zoom camera.  We are eager to hear that they have bonded.  Or at least have arrived at peaceful co-existence.  Two black kitties!  So cute!  So diabolical!  Almost more difficult than chickens!  Good luck, Charlie!

Why is it so hard, Kilroy?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Just back from the Warrenton Run — Staples to return used ink cartridges; Goodwill to deliver a load of “stuff” from the back forty; CostCo to get a couple of food items; Fred Meyers to get other food items.  The first two went well — maybe because we were donating.  The last two, not so much — probably because my expectations are too high.

At CostCo it was The Mask Problem.  As I entered (masked) I saw that there were two “checkers” — one masked, one not.  A man a and his young (8-ish) son (both unmasked) were asked by the unmasked checker if they had had their vaccinations.  “Yes” was the answer and in they went along with the rest of us who were masked.

Inside, most  shoppers were masked but about a third of them wore theirs Kilroy-style with their noses hanging over the edge.  Ditto the employees. What’s with that, anyway?  It irritates me no end — brings out the Cranky Teacher, the Nagging Mom, the Despair of Stupidity in me.  I did my shopping and was out of there in ten minutes flat.  I’m not sure I’ll go back very soon.

At Fred Meyers, the Delivery Woman said there had been three substitutions of food items — Simple Truth brand brown eggs instead of Kroger brown eggs; wheat crackers instead of rice crackers; jumbo pimento stuffed olives instead of regular size garlic stuffed.  We okayed the first one but said “no” to the other two.

We got home and found the crackers and olives had come along with us, anyway.  Nyel called.  “She should have pulled them.  Check your online receipt to see if she took them off your bill.  And, no, we don’t want them back.”  I’m sure we’ll find a happy home for the crackers and olives but I was disappointed, anyway.  It’s probably time to start shopping locally again…

Did I mention that I hate doing errands — most especially shopping… she said in a cranky tone of voice.