Archive for the ‘Winter in Oysterville’ Category

On being as brave as the daffodils…

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

They’re a hearty bunch, those daffodils.  Never mind that the weather has kept most of us two-legged folks indoors if given a choice.  Those stalwart harbingers of Spring are right on time, poking up through the soggy soil and winter blow-down everywhere I look! And not even bundled up in winter togs.

The camellias, though… not so much.  We have two camellia bushes — one in her thirties and one in her sixties.  The elder of the two began blooming in December last year; the other one, a month or so later.  December was way early, so I didn’t expect a repeat performance this year.

Evidence of a Visit by the Deer People

But, even though plentiful,  the camellia buds are still small and tight.  Traditionally, my mother gave me a bouquet of “the first camellia blossoms of the year” on my birthday, February 28th, and I “measure” our progress toward Spring by those memories.  This year, I’d say we have quite some time to wait.

But, in my walk-about yesterday, I noticed that the Deer People haven’t been waiting.  When those lovely camellia blossoms do decide to burst forth, they will be surrounded by raggedy-taggedy leaves.  Those pesky deer have made certain of that.  And as for the York Roses which have been stripped bare of any visible life… I’m counting on their usual hardiness to bring them back by summer.

York Roses? We can but hope.

I guess I should have been more diligent with the applications of “Deer Fence” but, somehow, the weather outside plus the coziness inside equalled inertia for Sydney-the-Recalcitrant-Gardener. I console myself that the Deer People had some tasty treats.   And I’m ever-hopeful that those daffodils will inspire me to get outside and do a little bit of Spring Welcome for the other garden denizens — the stationary ones, not the four-legged visitors. (Or the slithery ones, either, for that matter!)


The Mystery Pot and… Other Gifts Of Unknown Origin

Monday, February 6th, 2023

Mystery Box and Contents

The package was left on my porch table one evening last week by UPS — a neat Amazon Prime carton addressed to me.  I hadn’t ordered anything, at least not lately, but my memory is sometimes a bit wonky these days, so what the heck!

Inside I found another box — this one containing a Hamilton Beach Glass Kettle!  It was nothing I had ordered and, look though I might, I found no indication as to who had sent this to me.  I re-packaged it and put it in the back-forty, waiting for enlightenment.  Somehow, it didn’t feel quite right to accept a gift from an unknown benefactor.  And, basically, I felt there had been a mistake.

And speaking of “unknown benefactors” — I seem to have acquired more than one.  I love the thought and the intent (I think) but I do draw the line at food offerings.  Every once in a while I come home to a neatly packaged item — usually a “sweet” — waiting for me by the front door.  No name.  No indicators of who left it.

Last week it was a delicious looking brownie and another chocolaty confection.  They were sitting on a lovely flowered paper plate and neatly wrapped in a clear plastic food wrap.  After checking all my message sources (and aren’t there a lot of them these days?  FB and Email and telephone messages…) and finding nothing about food delivery, I pitched it unopened into the garbage.  Sorry, whoever-you-are, but my mother’s words came back loud and clear:  “Never accept food from strangers.”  And without an ID on the gift, I felt a tad uncomfortable.

So far, I haven’t had a clue as to my brownie philanthropist.  But yesterday I did receive a call from friends Randal and Susan in Olympia to see if the glass kettle had arrived.  “Oh!!  I wondered who sent it,” I said.

“Didn’t they include a note?  I tried to be very clear about that because I knew it might be a problem…” Randal told me.  “Yep.  I came ‘that close’ to sending it back…” and in the ensuing discussion, he convinced me to give it a try.  So I am doing so, but I’m still weighing pros and cons. Bottom line, I guess I’m a bit set in my ways and probably independent-to-a-fault!   I’m working on it…

Silly Cinderella!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Cinderella’s Home Base — The White Light Means She’s Ready For Work

I sent Cinderella into the library and the living room to tidy up a bit this morning.  I heard her leave her station. (She gives a three-bell “Here I go!” sort of salute when she leaves home base.)  And I heard her start to work on the library carpet.

I was busy in the kitchen but, after a bit, I was aware of an ominous silence.  I went to take a look.  No Cinderella in the library.  No Cinderella in the living room.  And no Cinderella anywhere that I could see.  When I found myself calling to her as in, “Cinderella!  Where are you?  Stop hiding and come out where I can see you.”  Well… I realized that this particular hide-and-seek player wouldn’t respond to “Olly Olly Oxen Free!”

Under The Fainting Couch – WAY Under!

I grabbed a flashlight, got down on my hands and knees (or belly in the case of the lowest furniture) and went on a search.  Sure enough.  There she was under the fainting couch in the bedroom — way under.  I couldn’t reach her so I had to move the couch.

I’m not at all sure why she was there in the first place.  I think she must have been on her way home to re-charge her battery and ran out of poop entirely.  But why she went under the fainting couch is a total mystery.  Did she think it was a short cut?

Cinderella Vacuuming The Living Room…Again!

Well, forty-five minutes of re-charging and she has begun again.  In the living room.  (I don’t think she can remember that she’s already done most of that room.)  Or maybe it’s all part and parcel of her new game.

It’s hard to tell with robots.

For the first time ever… chicken remorse?

Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Chickens Bonding

It’s not that I miss the chickens.  They were, of course, fun to watch and  wonder about and probably taught me a lot about group behavior, both foul and human.  But in truth… I can’t say I want to renew my chicken vows.  Not the feeding and watering parts.  Not the tending the sick part.  Not in being the arbitrator in their cluck-fights.  No.  I’m happy without the girls.

However, I do miss them just a skosh when the day is galloping by and there’s not a bit of news or gossip to write about for my blog.  Like today.  I’ve been working on the dreaded income tax — sorting piles of papers and trying to make intelligent decisions.  Not blog material by any stretch.

The Louisa Morrison, Oyster Schooner

I wonder what my forebears thought when they confronted the first income tax.  It was a one-time tax, levied by Congress in 1861 to help pay for the Civil War.  At first,  a flat 3-percent tax was placed on all incomes over $800 and was later modified to include a graduated tax. Congress repealed the income tax in 1872, but the concept did not disappear.

In 1861, my great-grandfather Robert already had both feet planted firmly in the oyster business of Shoalwater Bay.  He and Isaac Clark had established Oysterville seven years previously and since 1855, the boomtown had been the Pacific County Seat.  I assume they were up-and-coming enough to be visited by the tax collector.  And, at the rate that the oyster schooners were taking their cargoes to San Francisco, I’m thinking that this was lucrative territory for the tax boys.

Which to toss? Which to keep?

Even though that first income tax was for a short time, the idea never went away.  Finally, on July 2, 1909, Congress passed the 16th amendment establishing its right to impose a Federal income tax.  The amendment was  ratified February 3, 1913, and the rest, I say, has been one big headache.  Not that I object to the concept.  I do think we need to pony up our fair share.  But does it have to be this hard to figure out?  And will the “haves” continue to get a free ride for as long as the rest of us live?

I have to admit… chicken blogs were more interesting. But then… almost anything would be.


So now that January is almost over…

Friday, January 27th, 2023

“If January is the month of change, February is the month of lasting change. January is for dreamers… February is for doers.” — Marc Parent. “ …

I’m not sure who Marc Parent is, or more to the point, which Marc Parent I have quoted here.  There are several Marc Parents listed on Google and I’m inclined to go with “Marc Parent, author of Turning Stones: My Days and Nights with Children at Risk.  But, whoever the Mr. Parent is who said the “February is for doers,” he gets my vote of approval.

February is my birth month and I think being “a doer” is as apt a description of me as most others might be.  I like to get things done.  The old teacher adage, “Plan your work and work your plan” are the words I’d like to live by.

And I have lots of plans for February, you betcha!  First and foremost is to continue making progress on my new book — at least enough to see if it has merit or not.  Second, to begin exploring a new series for the Chinook Observer.  And third, to get that pesky income tax stuff ready for my accountant.

Each of those sounds like a project of many months in itself.  But, as I remind myself now and again — I’m retired.  There’s really nothing I HAVE to do so there’s not much reason not to accomplish what I WANT to do.

And then there’s the chimney…



Oh, no! It’s the dreaded income tax time!

Thursday, January 26th, 2023

Tax Time Begins On The Dining Room Table

It’s not that I’m a stranger to the federal income tax forms with their small print and gobbledygook phrases.  I’ve done my share of filling them out, going to a tax specialist for the parts that were beyond me and, for the most part, saving what I might have need for as the year goes by and the paperwork accumulates.

But, I have to say that for thirty-five years, Nyel figured out the deductions for my office space and writing needs and, on occasion, called the IRS for a clarification on this or that.  Not that we didn’t still send a huge packet of information to our accountant — but Nyel had it in great shape for her.  And now it’s my turn.  Lordy!  Lordy!

I ask myself, “Self, is this little office worth the hassel of itemizing?”

Though I know that I may not have all the documentation I need until January is over, I’ve begun to gather and sort.  I’ve commandeered the dining room table and each time I’m at that end of the house, I pause for a few moments and try to make a little more progress.

Always I am reminded of that great episode of “The Odd Couple” when Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman) is called into the IRS office for an audit.  He is requested to bring all of his receipts for meals etc. claimed while he was covering sports events for his column in the newspaper.  The box is filled to overflowing with all manner of scraps of paper and other oddments — including an annotated football! — on which he has kept track of his expenses.

Oscar Madison at Tax Time

My record-keeping isn’t nearly so colorful but probably just as hit and miss.  I console myself with the thought, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.  I used to reassure Nyel that way, too, but he (the ex-banker) just looked at me with an absolute lack of expression on his handsome face,  Reassuring?  NOT!

Chim Chimney, Chim Chimney…

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

We have two chimneys. It’s the lower one that is of current concern.

When you live in an old house, repairs and replacements become a part of your everyday thinking.  If it’s not refinishing the woodwork inside or, adjusting a window that no longer closes quite tightly, it’s replacing the roof or the carpet or even the kitchen cabinets.  Seldom, though, do you think about replacing the chimney!

Recently, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation qualified for a grant to replace the top part (from the roofline up) of the Oysterville Church’s chimney.  The bricks as well as the mortar were failing and water was wicking through them, through the walls of the church, through the wallpaper and creating unsightly stains and the perfect environment for healthy crops of black mold.

A Closer Look

The repairs were spendy but the problems should now be solved.  Below the roofline — not so much, although now those bricks will dry out and the situation will be stabile even though the chimney will not be operable.  As a practical matter, the chimney hasn’t been used for at least fifty years.  The stove exists as an interpretive element only — to show how the church was heated from the time that it was built in 1892 until it was restored ninety years later.

Our house was built in 1869.  At one time, we had three chimneys; now only two.  The upper one (which appears to be in the best shape) may have been original to the house.  The lower one, however, was not constructed until 1915.  Even so, it is struggling to stay upright — and has been for a number of years.  When we began getting quite a healthy crop of ferns growing out  through the mortar and the plaster covering, I began to worry.

Looking Down Inside From The Top

Yesterday Jake-The-Chimney-Guy came to evaluate both structures.  The good news:  only the west chimney needs immediate attention.  AND below the roofline, even on that one, no work is  necessary  However… the outer part of the chimney is huge — probably eight feet tall, which is not apparent until you see it from the southeast.  Though it’s not as fancy at the one at the church, the cost will be about the same.  (GULP!)  Too bad private homes can’t qualify for grants, eh?

The work will probably take place in the Spring.  So… let the scrimping begin!!!


In general, I don’t like to re-read my blogs…

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

A Georgia O’Keeffe Travel Box

In some ways, writing this Daybook is a bit like keeping a diary.  Not quite as chronological a record, perhaps, but occasionally I can find an entry that reminds of something that has been gone from conscious thought for years.  Take, for instance, this paragraph from a June 2o16 Daybook entry written when we were visiting our friends Susan Haynes and Bob Borson in Santa Fe.

Later we spent a few hours at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which was featuring an exhibition of her ‘Texas Period’ paintings – done in the years before her marriage to Alfred Stieglitz and long, long before she found her ‘spiritual home’ here in New Mexico.  Part of the exhibition may have been life-changing for me – if you can have such a revelation at my advanced age.  It was seeing O’Keeffe’s “Travel Boxes” that I think will change my scrapbooking obsession forever…

Obviously, that thought went right out of my mind… forever.  The evidence is six (or more) unfinished scrapbooks and the boxes upon boxes of “stuff” to cull through in order to complete them.  I haven’t yet brought myself to simply dump the entire kit and kaboodle, but that urge is getting stronger .

But what about O’Keeffe’s “travel boxes?”  I can find dozens of pictures of them online but, so far, I can’t find any written description of them.   And perhaps I knew at the time… but now?  Not so much. How did she organize them?  Were they for sharing with others?  How could they take the place of scrapbooks?  Were they easier to store?  And would they only work for a travel experience — not for day-to-day keepsakes?

I don’t know if I am truly interested in the answers to those questions or not.  I’m actually delving deeper by the day into a new book which, if I let it, will probably gobble up all my “free time” for the next year or so.  At the rate I’m going with those scrapbooks and boxes, they’ll still be there jammed to overflowing.  And I’ll be another year beyond remembering why I kept all that “stuff.”  The only positive thought along those lines is that I’m no longer keeping new stuff.  I think the last scrapbook (if I ever get to it) will be for 2019.  But… maybe a variation on O’Keeffe’s Travel Boxes might work.

I do believe Scarlett had a point.  I’ll think about that tomorrow…

If it ain’t one damned thing…

Saturday, January 21st, 2023

Timing Is Everything

So, now it’s the dishwasher.  Relatively new (more’s the pity) and probably its innards are a mass of computer chips.  The “control panel” is a spiffy looking array of words in LED lights which are also what you are to press in lieu of buttons.  Buttons, of course are old school.  Forget buttons.   There are many choices; many non-buttons to press.

All went well for a year of so but, as is always the way with such “time and energy savers,”  last night it balked.  Lights on.  Nobody home.  And, of course, I’d had company for dinner and the dishwasher was full-to-overflowing with dirty dishes pluse the glasses from our Friday Night Gathering.

Find the manual — actually sort of a non-manual that might be helpful if I had my glasses back.  But the three weeks won’t be up until Tuesday so I tried the computer instead with a long string of letters and numbers that I tried to see with a magnifying glass on the inside of the door — sideways of course.

Go the the computer; type in make and (I hope) model number.  In a situation like mine, I need to reboot and after following the directions meticulously, I wanted to tell SOMEone what to do with that boot.  (And besides… Fred and Kevin had already tried the reboot trick by turning off the breaker switch.  It didn’t work then, either.)

I called the appliance repair people who are always very kind and always very booked.  They’ll be here between 8 and 10 on January 30th.  Okay.  It’s only time and money.  And what was wrong with dishpan, drainboard, and dishtowel, anyway?  I can’t remember ever having to make an appointment with a repairman in those days…  And, last weekend’s leaky pipe has been taken care of so there’s hot and cold running water again!   So… life is good, eh?



Another Milestone

Friday, January 20th, 2023

400 pounds!

A year or so so ago, when Nyel and I planned what we wanted on our tombstone, it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be the two of us overseeing its installation at the Oysterville Cemetery.  But, the “supply chain” got in the way and when all was said and done, it was a full eight months between our order and today’s delivery and, of those eight months, Nyel has been gone seven.

Had he been here, I think he would have been pleased.  The letters in his middle name are such that the pronunciation can be iffy — a matter that Nyel was sensitive about.  We fixed it on the computer mock-up but, still, I held my breath.  Perfect!  And, in the matter of names for me — there are so many!  Would it look okay?  But again, perfect!

…by any other name…

Tucker and Cate met me at the Espy Lot at 9:00 a.m. and the stones came soon after.  Yes, two stones — the base and the main tombstone, both granite.  Each weighed 400 pounds and the men didn’t make lifting and positioning them look easy exactly, but they were obviously well-practiccd and knew precisely what they were doing.

And, betwixt and between, Brad, the elder of the two, answered our questions about other stones nearby.  My great-grandparents’ is sandstone which “mostly” explains why the lettering is wearing away.  It will happen on the granite ones, too, but not as fast and maybe “fixable”… for a while.

The problems with sandstone…

All of us probably had the same thought… “Well, we won’t be around to worry about it…”  For the present, I’m well satisfied.  In the summer, when the Dorothy Perkins are in bloom and when Charlie and Marta are here, we’ll place Nyel’s ashes in front of the monument and scatter the rose petals as we have done for my folks and for Willard and Louise and the other Espys who have gone one — just as they did for those who went before them.  I think they call it “closure.”  I call it “heartbreak.”