Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A double edge? Here? On the cutting edge?

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

A Seller’s Market

The current housing market news here at the beach is both encouraging and alarming.  If you are planning to sell your place, you probably couldn’t pick a better time.  But, you’d better have a firm plan about next steps.  “It’s a seller’s market,” as they say.  And, once you’ve sold, finding something to buy is another story entirely — especially if you want to stay here at the beach.

I can’t really remember ever hearing about bidding wars over and above the listed prices happening before.  Not here on the Peninsula.  Nor have I heard of people just approaching homeowners whose houses are not for sale, and making an offer they can’t refuse.  But, that’s what’s going on now according to several of our friends who have had recent first-hand experiences along those lines.  Unbelievable!

Great Place To Visit…

But, of course there’s a downside.  Most sales are being made to out-of-area folks — people from California or Seattle or Portland.  Local residents simply cannot afford the prices.  Even scarier — “some renters are being asked to move with nowhere to go,” according to realtor Doug Knutson.  “Rents are being driven up beyond some folks’ ability to pay.”

I remember visiting in Nantucket some years ago and finding that several restaurants were still closed even though “the season” was well under way.  The problem as one owner explained to us — “The workers have been priced out; they can’t afford to live here any more.”  His answer was to build a housing facility for his employees and to fill it with seasonal workers from the Barbados or other Caribbean Island Countries.  “Not my first choice,” he told us.  “But we’ve run out of options.”

We’ve already heard that one of our well-known Peninsula businesses is considering a similar move — building affordable housing for their employees so they can keep good workers here.  It reminds me, once again, of Ted Holway and “The Apartments” that he had his oyster workers build for themselves in the 1940s.  His purpose was to encourage seasonal workers to stay year ’round by providing low-cost housing for them.  Maybe we are circling back to a similar solution to providing for our local work force.

“Ted’s Apartments” – 1950

Meanwhile, the number of second homes here appears to be on the increase.  There seems something so wrong with this picture — houses empty for much of the year while hard-working parents need to move their families elsewhere to be able to find a place they can afford.  And yet, I can scarcely begrudge those vacation home-owners their opportunity to have “a place at the beach.”  It’s the American dream come true.  I doubt that there is an easy answer…



Fear and Foreboding Among the Girls

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021


Last night Clara was missing from the roost.  Not only that, although it was almost dark, Slutvana left her perch and came out into the run to talk to me.  She was agitated but I couldn’t make out what the trouble was.

Then I heard just the smallest “pprrrtt” sound from way over in the corner underneath the coop — in an area that I can’t reach, of course.  I went outside and peered through the hog wire and there she was!  Clara!  All huddled up and rheumy-eyed making little “pprrrtt” sounds.

I squatted down and talked to her for a while.  Asked if she was okay (which I’m pretty sure she wasn’t) and asked her to come out so I could take her to Dr. Farmer Nyel.  With one last little pathetic sound, she closed her eye in dismissal.  I didn’t know if she was dead.  It’s hard to tell with chickens.

Slutvana pacing, pacing, pacing.

By then, Slutvana had gone back to roost and Little Red Hen was still asleep, apparently oblivious to the drama going on nearby.  I wish I could say I spent a restless night…  But when the alarm rang, I did pull on my boots and headed out.  “Pprrrtt” I heard right away.  Same spot.  Slutvana and LRH nervously pacing in the run.  They weren’t the least bit interested in the cracked corn treats I offered — just boogied off across the lawn toward the house and disappeared underneath leaving Clara huddled in her corner.

Little Red Hen — Nowhere To Be Seen.

Nyel and I spent a good part of the day across the river doing errands.  I dreaded going down to the coop when I got home and hated it that Slutvana met me right at the corner of the house and clucked and clacked all the way to the coop.  No Clara.  No LRH.  Slutvana a bundle of nerves.  What the heck?

A walk-about in the garden  revealed nothing chicken-wise.  I called and Slutvana clucked.  Nothing.  I soothed myself by admiring the rhododendrons that are bursting forth in all their glory. Slutvana went to the East Door hoping Nyel would show up with treats.

Maybe when the sun goes down all three girls will be back at the coop.  We can but hope.

Winnie-ther-Pooh, Kuzzin Kris, and Me

Friday, April 16th, 2021

While Farmer Nyel is planting bush beans and onion sets in the Kitchen Garden, I’m in the South Garden sowing nasturtium seeds and missing my Kuzzin Kris.  She and I are at one when it comes to nasturtiums because both of us know that Winnie-ther-Pooh was right about them:
“Christopher Robin gave me a mastershalum seed, and I planted it, and I’m going to have mastershalums all over the front door.”
“I thought they were called nasturtiums,” said Piglet timidly, as he went on jumping.
“No,” said Pooh. “Not these. These are called mastershalums.” A.A.Milne.

Nyel ordered a quarter of a pound of mastershalum seeds for me.  I didn’t count them but, it’s a Bunch — capital B!  I’ve been planting for days and days — well, for three going on four.  Never mind that bad knees prevent me from crawling around the garden beds.  And never mind that I can no longer sit on an upturned bucket and get back up to my feet without help.  I’ve been doing the stoop-labor trick each day for as long as my back will let me.  Which might be twenty minutes.  Hence: “days and days.”

Fortunately the weather has been cooperative.  I hope the seeds will be, too.  Nyel just informed me that these are the “vining” variety which came as a bit of a shock.  The package didn’t say so — as in buy in bulk and take your chances?  It should be interesting.  We’ll probably have mastershalums all over the place.  I think Winnie-ther-Pooh would be pleased.

Oh.  And about Pooh’s name:
When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, “But I thought he was a boy?”
“So did I,” said Christopher Robin.
“Then you can’t call him Winnie?”
“I don’t.”
“But you said–“
“He’s Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don’t you know what ‘ther’ means?”
“Ah, yes, now I do,” I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.  A.A. Milne.

A Wonderfully Humbling Experience

Friday, April 9th, 2021

Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, American lepidopterist, writer, teacher, and founder of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

We received an invitation from Bob Pyle yesterday to “attend” the PEN America annual literary awards “at a gala ceremony to be announced live in NYC and sent out virtually to everywhere that people love books,” said Bob.  In a “normal” year we, like so many others, would never have had this opporutunity.  But, yesterday at 4:00 PDT, there we were.  OMG!  It was wonderful and totally disconcerting at the same time!

Not only had I read NONE of the books nor seen any of the plays,  I was totally ignorant regarding the authors, the playwrights, and, in some cases, even the genres — except, of course, for dear Bob and his many books.  It was hugely humbling and incredibly enlightening all at the same time.

You can check it all out by watching yesterday’s ceremony, yourself.  Just go to 2021 PEN Awards Youtube.  You’ll see what I mean… or maybe not.  Maybe you’ve read the books and know the authors.  If so, don’t tell me.  I am slowly coming to grips (AGAIN!) with the fact that I am so NOT well read and so NOT intellectual and so NOT well-informed.

Bob was nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For The Art of the Essay — “For a seasoned writer whose collection of essays is an expansion on their corpus of work and preserves the distinguished art form of the essay.”  He was among the five finalists vying for the $15,000 prize and the priceless prestige that goes with such an award.  Although I’ve not yet read Nature Matrix: New and Selected Essays, I am fairly confident that I have read several of the sixteen collected essays in this new (September 2020) book.  That Bob was a finalist did not surprise me in the least.  He is not only an expert in his field, but has won numerous other literary awards over the years.  I find that reading anything Bob writes is not only a delight but is likely to expand my horizons in unexpected ways.

Nominated for the 2021 Pen America Award for PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For The Art of the Essay

But, I have to admit that my confidence in Bob’s ability to win wavered just a bit when actor Kara Young, host of the awards ceremony, pointed out in her opening remarks:  “We stand in solidarity with all those who are threatened by anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Trans hatred.”  I just couldn’t help the errant thought that Dr. Robert Michael Pyle is (sorry, Bob!) “an old white guy.”  Did he have a chance in this year of women and people of color?  As it turned out, it was Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Had I Known: Collected Essays, who won the “Art of the Essay” category.

Disappointed doesn’t half describe my feelings.  However, I was bursting my buttons with pleasure and pride at knowing Bob, and so glad for this virtual stretch into the world of literature.  My must-read-list has expanded exponentially.  I wonder how many of those winning authors’ books I can read before the 2022 PEN America Awards roll around.  I doubt that I’ll be lucky enough to attend the ceremony next time — much less know one of the finalists!  Thanks for inviting us, Bob! We loved “being there!”



Not quite a “sea” of blue… perhaps a pond?

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

I don’t know about other authors, but the day I dread most in the book-writing process has arrived — the first edits by the copy editor for my “approval” — or not. Perhaps it works differently with a mainstream publisher but with History Press I have had a new copy editor with each book I’ve done for them.  I believe this is the eighth book and eighth copy editor.  Which means starting from square one each time.

For instance — hearing that the History Press policy frowns on “sidebars” and having to explain that I am known for sidebars, that it’s an important part of how I deliever ancillary historic information etc. etc. gets my dander up from the get-go.  Always in the past the copy editor has capitualated but I still must engage them in the discussion and hope that my reasoning is accepted.  Otherwise… Actually, I can’t wrap my mind around the “otherwise.”  A complete re-write?

Then there are the terminology issues — copy editors never like it that I capitalize Peninsula when referring to the North Beach (or Long Beach) Peninsula.  I do it, as does our venerated local newspaper, to differentiate it from the many other peninsulas along our watery coast.  That issue always reminds me of an ongoing discussion that Willard had with a NYT editor about the Long Beach Peninsula NOT being part of the Olympic Peninsula.  It took almost a year, as I recall, for him to win that argument.  “East Coasters can be very parochial in their attitudes,” he said.

References to “the weatherbeach” or  “weather beach” are often difficult for copy editors, too.  Although it’s a term that is not heard much nowadays, it was certainly in common usage historically.  And, these are books about history to be published by the History Press.  Go figure.

Not that I don’t make my fair share of errors well beyond typos and spellcheck glitches.  But usually, my word choice and my manner of presentation has been carefully thought out and I get prickly when copy editors change my pearls of thought.  Fortunately for me, this copy editor has said in his note accompanying his changes:   I was very careful during my review of the text to maintain the original voice and wording as much as possible, and my efforts are simply to present the material in a readable and entertaining way for the reader.  We can but hope.

April 2021 Calendar

My comments/adjustments/explanations are due back to him by April 8th.  Turnaround time is always tight — especially if you have a life.  Or a doctor’s appointment.  A week seems short for the consideration of possible changes to a 45,000 word manuscript.  His concerns are noted in blue.  I took a quick look — maybe not a sea of blue, but definitely more than a puddle.  Oh my!

On the other hand, the publishing date for Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula has been moved up from June 23rd to June 21st — unless that’s a typo.  You never know…

Entertainment Value: Priceless!

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

Cinderella at Homebase

Last night we hosted our first Friday Night Gathering in more than a year — a rather truncated version, to be sure, but absolutely fabulous in all respects.  Only four of our two-dozen (or so) regulars met the “fully” part of the CDC vaccination guidelines for small groups being able to get together inside and unmasked.  Six counting us.

As it turned out, two of our guests didn’t show up and then, an hour in, called to apologize for forgetting.  Wow!  Nearly normal for sure!  “Come on over!” we said.  “No problem!”

Meanwhile, the first four of us began catching up with the guzz’n’gossip when, suddenly, we were interrupted by the arrival of Cinderella.   Perhaps you read a few weeks ago that she has had a stroke (or the robot equivalent thereof) and she and her Fairy Godmother/Mothership can no longer communicate with one another.  This means that she (usually) doesn’t follow commands from our cell phone, nor does she know exactly where she is if we pick her up and carry her somewhere in an attempt to override the Fairy Godmother’s silence.  But the good news is that she is still under warranty and will be replaced.  Soon.  Roombas are apparently back-ordered right now — two to four weeks.

Meanwhile we have discovered that I can carry her to a room, push her start button and she will proceed to vacuum that room, the next room, and sometimes the next… until she runs out of battery.  Then she stops where she is and waits to be placed back on her docking pad where she recharges.  Sometimes, after she’s fully charged again, she stays put until I get her for the next job.  Sometimes — like last night — she seems to be on automatic pilot and she returns to where she thinks she left off.

Cinderella at Work

Last night we were about a half-a-drink into the evening and here she came!  Our guests were enchanted (so to speak)!  “I want one!” said the distaff side.  “Our kitties would love it!” said her husband.  “They could ride around on her  — their own personal KittyCar!”

Cinderella “worked the room” for thirty or forty minutes much to the amusement of our guests.  By then, the library and living room areas were spotless and Nyel was able to send her “home” via his cell phone.  We aren’t sure why we can communicate with her sometimes but not consistently.  What we are sure of is that she is the best show in town — but only when she decides to be.

2 books + 2 Beans = food 4 mind & body!

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Timberland Library is THE best!  Yesterday when we went to our Ocean Park branch to pick up a couple of books, we were asked if we’d like a Garden Starter Kit.  “Yes!  Of course!” and I was handed a lunch-sized paper bag with a cheery “Take It & Make It Garden Starter Kit” label.

I immediately flashed on my friend Maggie Stuckey who, several years ago, did a series of container gardening talks at libraries in Oregon and SW Washington.  She not only told how to plant and manage a garden-in-a-pot, she demonstrated her talk by planting one as she explained each step!  Afterwards, there was a drawing among the audience members and the winner took home her finished container!  (And, in case you didn’t know, Maggie and Rose Marie Nichols McGee wrote the quintessential edible-garden-in-a-pot book, Bountiful Container.)

Before we even left the parking lot, Nyel had looked in the paper sack and had inventoried the contents: 2 small peat pots, 2 green bean seeds, a small bag of soil, a description the particular bean seeds and what they would produce, and an instruction flyer.  Wow!

On the way home we talked about where and how he would set up his starter garden and where he would ultimately plant the young bean plants in their biodegradable pots.  Last night he began one of the books — Robert Crais’ Freefall.  Today he will begin his Spring garden!

And did I mention… We Love Timberland Library!!


Flurries with a chance of feathers…

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Dressed For Chill

“Snow flurries” said the news.  Sounds intriguing and sorta hopeful.  Romantic almost.

But the chickens and I are here to tell you that there was nothing intriguing, hopeful, or romantic about yesterday’s weather.  As every realistic chicken and farmer’s wife knows, nothing flurries without wind.  And the wind was fierce.  I dawdled before going out with their breakfast but, even so, it had only warmed up to 32º.  The wind was coming in from the bay at 15 mph which doesn’t seem much until you’re out in it.  Chill factor 21º.

The girls were off their roosts and milling around inside the coop.  I’ve not seen them behave like that before.  I hung up their food — enough so I wouldn’t have to go out again until this morning — but then (of course!) I saw that their water was frozen.  Duh!

The Girls’ Front Yard

Back to the house,  fill the teakettle and bring it to a boil, back to the lower forty and with some cracked corn treats this time.  I unfroze the water and tossed the treats nearby, calling them through my muffler.  They took turns sticking their heads out the door, but wouldn’t sally forth.

Right now I have the teakettle on again.  It’s not quite as cold today and the snow has disappeared.  Mostly.  I hope there aren’t any frozen chickens down there.  Or dehydrated ones, either.  But… you never can tell with chickens.  Especially during the flurrying time.

Mr/Ms Cool and the Peanut Gallery

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

“Oysters and Oysterville” screenshot – Sydney and Dobby

There is a lot to be said for blissful ignorance.  While Dobby and I sat quietly waiting yesterday, aware only of “technical difficulties” at the beginning of our video presentation, videographer Aaron Webster was scurrying and Madeline Moore’s thumbs were flying on her cell phone.  Little did we know that the live stream was having severe audio problems and our “audience” was giving blow-by-blow feedback to Madeline.  To us our two “directors” appeared busy but unflappable — definitely cool and working diligently to get things back on track.

We’d had a little forewarning, though.  We arrived about 1:30 — a half hour early.  Aaron had been setting up on the deck at Sea Farms since noon but was having difficulties getting a live feed.  Shortly after Madeline got there, Aaron took off for the schoolhouse to see if things might be better there.  No luck.  Then suddenly we were “on.”  And after a few minutes we weren’t.  Aaron was scurrying.  Madeline was texting and reassuring viewers that it would soon be fine.  Dobby and I were mostly oblivious — sitting quietly, bundled up like two Pillsbury Doughboys against the cold.  Our view from the deck of Oysterville Sea Farms is the best one in all of Oysterville!  We couldn’t have chosen a better place to be cooling (literally!) our jets.

“Oysters and Oysterville” – filmed on the deck of Oysterville Sea Farms

Finally, mics were readjusted, Aaron resumed his place at the computer controls, Madeline continued texting and Dobby and I were given the high sign to continue where we had left off.  (Tricky, given our aged memories but… we struggled forth.)  Afterwards, Madeline was full of enthusiasm and reassurance.  Aaron was mostly silent, probably feeling responsible for whatever glitches had happened but, given the ongoing difficulties with ANY technology working in Oysterville, he had done admirably.

Before leaving home, I had set up my computer for Nyel so he could watch our endeavor.  The first words out of his mouth when I returned were, “Well THAT was a complete disaster!”  Not heartening, to say the least.  Apparently, he gave up on us early in the technological crisis.  So, he and I ended up watching together just before dinner.  Not a disaster, at all — though, I wanted to leap in and edit out some of my ums and uhs, fix my right earring which, at one point seemed to be tucked up under my hat, and a few other self-centered things.

My take-away:  I don’t think there will be a second career opportunity for me on television.  Come to think of it though, I did have a weekly talk-show for a couple of years on the first-ever Hayward Cable station in the late sixties or early seventies…   WOW!   It was called “Teacher Talk.”  Who’duh thunk it?



Dobby & Me, Streaming Live Tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

Look for “Oysters and Oysterville” on Wednesday, February 10, at 2:00

All things being equal, Dobby Wiegardt and I will be “streaming live” (as they say) on Facebook tomorrow.  The cameras roll at two o’clock — rain (from the Oysterville Schoolhouse) or shine (from the deck of Oysterville Sea Farms.)  Cape D Interpreters Aaron Webster and Stephen Wood will be doing the videography and Madeline Moore will make the introductory remarks on behalf of the Columbia Heritage Museum.  Our topic is “Oysters and Oysterville.”

Dobby, of course, will be talking about the history of oysters here on Shoalwater (now Willapa) Bay.  His family has been in oystering here since his grandfather, Heinrich Wiegardt arrived in the mid-1870s and Dobby, himself, has been in the family business all of his long life.  He probably knows more about the oysters of Willapa Bay than anyone else around.  I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Dobby with his grandfather’s hats, April 2019.

My area of “expertise” (presumably) is Oysterville.  My family roots go back a generation earlier than Dobby’s — to 1852 when my great-grandfather, Robert Hamilton Espy, arrived in newly created Pacific County, then still a part of Oregon Territory. He co-founded Oysterville in 1954 and the Espys have had a presence here ever since.  I love the stories about the early days — especially the stories told around our library fireplace by my grandfather and his sister, my great Aunt Dora.

They talked about the “characters” they remembered from their childhood in the 1870s — those they called “the saints and the sinners.”  Papa talked mostly about the saints and Aunt Dora, the sinners.  I have to admit, I remember her stories best!  I hope I remember to tell some of them tomorrow.

Masked Sydney, October 2020

We won’t have much time — “30 to 45 minutes” we were told.  Dobby and I agreed that we’d better take a few notes along with us — to keep ourselves on track.  There’s something that happens when you get to our venerable age that plays havoc with your memory.   I’m pretty sure that I’ll need more notes than Dobby — even though he is more venerable by five whole years!

I hope you get a chance to see us!  If you miss tomorrow’s 2:00 live performance, I believe it will be available on YouTube later.