Archive for the ‘The World Beyond’ Category

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.

Past, present, future – a collision of tears.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

It was hard.  It took two-and-a-half hours of hitting re-dial.  But, finally, we are scheduled to get our vaccinations on Friday.  We were asked, apologetically I thought, if we would mind driving to South Bend.  “Not at all,” we said.  Granted, the drive is not without it’s difficulties for us.  But… mind?  “Not at all!”

We haven’t breathed that first sigh of relief just yet.  But by Friday afternoon, we’ll no doubt be feeling more hopeful than we have in almost a year.  Hopeful that we may get through this most difficult of times without undo hardship — at least, as is the case so far, nothing we can’t handle.  By my birthday at February’s end, we should be facing the world with a bit more enthusiasm, even though still distanced and masked.

And we are SO grateful to our friends who got in touch yesterday morning.  “They are starting to schedule at ten o’clock,”  we were told.  “Call the County Health Department,” they urged.  And to other friends who posted on FaceBook — “just keep dialing,”  they encouraged.  We did and we are so glad.

Then, this morning… we watched Kamala Harris and Joe Biden take their oaths of office.  It was a beautifully orchestrated ceremony and I’m happy to say that I wept throughout it all.  Tears of joy and hope and reassurance.  But of it all, what will stay with me is the image of the Biden Family Bible — worn and well-used and “decades old” said the news commentator.  Because it looks so much like our Pryor Family Bible, I’d say “centuries old.”  Ours, printed in 1846, first belonged to my four times great-grandfather.  It is also huge and also looks a bit battered.  I loved it that President Biden brought his ancestors to the inauguration with him.

All-in-all, it’s a big week in our household — a week that clearly binds us to the rest of our nation and the world in such disparate ways.  Let the mending and the strengthening begin!

Hoaxes, Legends, and the Meany People

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

“When did we get so paranoid?” was more-or-less the topic under discussion during the Coffee Hour this morning.  You don’t need much imagination to realize that our conversation had begun with fanciful predictions of how this election day would play out.  Somehow, we landed on “doctored” Halloween candy as the beginning of the country’s obsession with (what we used to tell our kids) the Meany People.  Or maybe, we thought, it started with that Tylenol scare back in the… when?

So I did a little research, as in which came first.  It was the “Halloween Legend,” as it is now being called, and it began in 1958.  Marta was four; Charlie, two.  I remember that we had to spread their “treats” out on the dining room table and throw out any home-made stuff — no candied apples,  no fudge or divinity, no popcorn balls or chocolate chip cookies — all of which were favored “staples” in my day.  It wasn’t long before the commercial companies swooped in and everything was store-bought and wrapped up tight.  Where had the fun gone, anyway?  Trick or Trust?

Interestingly, in a 2019 report by Adam Miller of CBC News: Razor blades, sewing needles, even poison – police forces across North America have reported cases of nefarious objects in treats for decades. But how many children have actually been seriously injured or died as a result? The answer – given the available data on the topic – seems to be not a single one.

As for the Tylenol scare?  Based on seven (yet unsolved) murders in the Chicago area in 1982, that frightening episode came more than a generation later.  Just in time to assure that every single pharmaceutical (or cleaning or cosmetic or…) product that could possibly be ingested is locked in its container so those with arthritic hands (those most in need of many of these very products) canNOT get into them without some sort of assistance.  Or a hammer.  Fear of Faith??

And today… we are facing election results that we’ve been primed to suspect.  For years (not days, not weeks not months, but YEARS!) we’ve been lambasted by the media with information about voter fraud, foreign intervention, intimidation at the polls etc. etc. ad nauseum.  All of which is exaggerated to the max because no longer is there an “election day” — a time to take pride in exercising one of our basic democratic rights.  Now, with Covid precautions and USPS paranoia, this election has become a month of mail-in votes and long lines at the polls and looking over shoulders for the protestors and rioters.   Responsible Reporting or Media Manipulation?

What have we come to?

 

Grumpy Trumpy and His Nut Tree

Sunday, August 2nd, 2020

Frederick Trump 1887

According to the Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy,  “Last week, President Donald Trump tweeted his unhappiness that Google search results seemed to be favoring sources critical of the president. His chief economic adviser suggested that the administration “is taking a look at whether Google searches should be regulated.”

That seems a bit strange to me.  I just saw on Wikipedia (with whom Google has some sort of symbiotic arrangement), a nice big article about Trump’s very own grandfather, Frederick Trump.  You’d think that Trump wouldn’t be such a grump.  He should be pleased that his ancestors are getting their due from Google via Wikipedia and ought to treat them accordingly.

According to the article, Grandpa Trump, born in Bavaria in 1869, finished his barber’s apprenticeship at 16.  But before he could begin to earn a living on his own, he realized that …he was also approaching the age of eligibility for conscription to military service  in the Imperial German Army. He quickly decided to emigrate to the United States,  later saying, “I agreed with my mother that I should go to America.”  Years later, his family members said that he departed secretly at night, leaving his mother a note. As a result of Trump fleeing mandatory conscription required of all citizens, a royal decree was later issued banishing him from the country.  

Sounds vaguely familiar… It truly seems that the apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree. Or in this case (as my friend Sturges Dorrance mentioned to me), we might be talking nuts rather than apples.  But, at least according to Wikipedia, it gets better.  And right close to home, too:

 Rush

Seattle 1896, Yukon Gold

In 1891, Trump moved to Seattle, in the newly admitted U.S. state of Washington.  With his life savings of several hundred dollars, he bought the Poodle Dog Restaurant, which he renamed the Dairy Restaurant, and supplied it with new tables, chairs, and a range.  Located at 208 Washington Street, the Dairy Restaurant was in the middle of Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Washington Street was nicknamed “the Line” and included an assortment of saloons, casinos, and brothels. Biographer Gwenda Blair called it “a hotbed of sex, booze, and money… the indisputable center of the action in Seattle.” The restaurant served food and liquor and was advertised to include “Rooms for Ladies”, a common euphemism for prostitution. Trump lived in Seattle until early 1893 and voted in Washington’s first presidential election in 1892 after becoming a U.S. citizen.

F. Trump’s Bennett, Alaska Restaurant & Hotel, Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives circa 1899

Well, the article goes on for quite a while.  Suffice it to say that F. Trump (aka Friedr Trumpf) dabbled in mining and in real estate, went to Canada at the time of the Yukon Gold Rush and, again, set up several “restaurants” in the region of the Klondike.  By 1901, he returned to his native Germany, a wealthy man.  As biographer Blair said, “the business of seeing to his customers’ need for food, drink and female companionship had been good to him.”  

There’s lots more.  I leave it to you to utilize Google (quick!  before it comes under siege!) and read about the nuts and the nut tree for yourself.  Great stuff!

Help Me To Understand

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

Tom Akerlund

If you were a student,  a teacher, a parent, or worked or volunteered in any capacity in the Ocean Beach School District from the 1970s until well into the 2000s… and if you worked at a school where Tom Akerlund was principal… the words “help me to understand” probably sound familiar.  No matter whether it was a problem on the playground or a matter of divergent views at a faculty meeting, Tom’s first response was always, “Help me to understand.”

A great opening for problem-solving of any kind, and so often in the last few months have those words come to mind!  Help me to understand, for instance, why the words “peaceful protest” or the phrase “informed dissent” no longer resonate in our society.  Help me to understand why there isn’t a much larger hue and cry about Trump sending federal agents into cities like Portland and Seattle, even over the objections of the governors and mayors?  Troops are also being deployed to Albuquerque, Chicago, Kansas City. From what I have read, Trump’s troops in Portland have escalated the problems — not helped.  I don’t know about the other cities.  Help me to understand.

Portland, OR

Why have only the Democrats in Congress objected?  Help me to understand.  Why has everything that Trump does become politicized?  Help me to understand.  Why do I not feel safe from the leadership in my own country?  Help me to understand.

Pittsburg, PA

And yes, I’ve read all the things that you, my readers, have also read.  By now, my question is rhetorical.  Please don’t advise me to read any more or to listen to any more talking heads.  None of it helps me to understand.  I’m sick of all of it and sick at heart.  How did we allow ourselves to get to this point?   Please God can we find a peaceful solution at the polls in November.  If not, I will never understand, no matter who tries to help me.

 

 

 

 

 

An Ode To Us Wonderful Women (My Age!)

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

My very distant cousin Bonnie Meyer, who lives in Oakland CA and who I’ve not ever met, sent me this.  I love it and, since I couldn’t say it better myself, I am re-posting it here!  Enjoy!

I’m normally a social girl
I love to meet my mates
But lately with the virus here
We can’t go out the gates.

You see, we are the ‘oldies’ now
We need to stay inside
If they haven’t seen us for a while
They’ll think we’ve upped and died.

They’ll never know the things we did
Before we got this old
There wasn’t any Facebook
So not everything got told.

We may seem sweet old ladies
Who would never be uncouth
But we grew up in the 60s
If you only knew the truth!

There was sex and drugs and rock n’roll
The pill and miniskirts
We smoked, we drank, we partied
And were outrageous flirts.

Then we settled down, got married
And turned into someone’s mum,
Somebody’s wife, then nana,
Who on earth did we become?

We didn’t mind the change of pace
Because our lives were full
But to bury us before we’re dead
Is like  red rag to a bull!

So here you find me stuck inside
For 4 weeks, maybe more
I finally found myself again
Then I had to close the door!

It didn’t really bother me
I’d while away the hour
I’d bake for all the family
But I’ve got no bloody flour!

Now Netflix is just wonderful
I like a gutsy thriller
Or swooning over Idris
Or some random sexy killer

At least I’ve got a stash of booze
For when I’m being idle
There’s wine and whiskey, even gin
If I’m feeling suicidal!

So let’s all drink to lockdown
To recovery and health
And hope this bloody virus
Doesn’t decimate our wealth.

We’ll all get through the crisis
And be back to join our mates
Just hoping I’m not far too wide
To fit through the flaming gates!

By Jan Beaumont, Auckland NZ

Hunkering Down and Planning Ahead

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

At the Tom Crellin House here in Oysterville, we are under a “Self-imposed-Semi-Shut-in-Status” which we are calling a “4-S-Alert.”

For Nyel, the timing sorta sucks — he was just getting ready to graduate from wheelchair to crutches in his physical therapy sessions but they (not we) called a halt to his appointments until virus concerns clarify.  For me, though, our 4-S Alert could be the gift of time that I’m forever seeking — time to write, time to read, time to catch up to myself for once.

Inside “The Renegade Rooster”

And, for us both — it’s a time to set a few goals for the future. High on our list of priorities is to resume our summer “field trips” to interesting places fairly close to home.  We’ve been hearing about a wonderful little private history museum in Winlock and today (on Day Two of 4-S Alert!) it just happened that Cousin Cheryl sent us some specific information about it!  And pictures!

The museum is called “The Renegade Rooster” which, right away, says it’s our kind of place!  And the photos — WOW!!!  We might have to figure out how to spend more than a day on this field trip — like how Nyel can negotiate overnight accommodations in addition to negotiating the jam-packed display areas in the little museum.

Roy Richards outside his Renegade Rooster Museum — Photo by Bill Wagner

Managing those crutches has suddenly begun to loom large in the great scheme of things.  If his forays back and forth in the house with his walker and his balancing exercises as he works in the kitchen are the path forward, then Nyel-the-Intrepid is already on the road to the Renegade Rooster!  Woot! Woot! and Cock-A-Doodle-Do!