A Most Hopeless, Most Interesting Task!

September 18th, 2023

Ruth Dixon

I’m trying to clean out, consolidate and, in general, make sense of my files.  However, I’ve  all but given up after just two days.  The problem is, I saved these “gems” because they are just that and I’m just not ruthless enough to pitch and toss.  Just now, for instance I ran across a note from historian and journalist Ruth Dixon (1906- 2001) to my Uncle Willard, probably written to him when he was collecting information for his book, Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village.

Copied from the diary of Patterson Fletcher Luark, a pioneer of the vicinity of Westport:

Wednesday, Feb. 11,1863:
Went to lighthouse with team.  Found 7 or 8 men here from Bruceport pretending (?) to hunt for the body of Captain Wells; he and a stranger from Oregon in crossing from Bruceport on the 15th instant were both lost off Tokes Point.

From James A Gibbs Pacific Graveyard: Willapa Bay Light Station shows two lights. The shorter tower, proving too low and threatened by erosion, a higher tower was bult at right.

Friday, April 3, 1863:
The bodies of Capt. Wells and Cline, lost on the 15th of February off Tokes Point were found yesterday and today.
(Mr. Luark refers to giving Mrs. Wells a ride to his house for a visit, or returning her home.  They seemed to be very good friends.)

This is just a few of the tidbits I have, but not knowing just what you lack, and what you have, this will give you some idea.

Our history is so lacy — full of holes, it is a great feeling to be able to smooth it out a bit.

Thank] you for writing.

And, yes, please do send me a copy of Isaac’s letter.  [Isaac Clark, ss ]  Quite a few members of the family (mostly Wilsons) are collecting data, and I enjoy helping, and sharing.

The information about the July 4, 1872 boat race will be so welcome.

Signed [Ruth Dixon]



Friends, Family, Music, and Flowers

September 16th, 2023

Jim Lee listens to Barbara Bate and Fred Carter.

It was a Saturday afternoon to remember.  At one o’clock friends and family of Marian Lee gathered at the Senior Center in Klipsan to visit, to eat, and to celebrate her life.  They listened to the music she enjoyed during her 100+ years, told stories about their favorite memories of Marian,  and shared a few hours of tears and laughter.  Marian would have loved it all!

The inimitable Barbara Bate played the piano, Fred Carter sang a variety of tunes all of which Marian would have remembered, and Robert Scherrer sang a song that touched many of us — I doubt that there was a dry eye.  (Later I asked him to sing it at my funeral or party or whatever — he said he would, so please hold him to it!  If only I knew the name of it, it might help!)  Diana Thompson’s summary of her mother’s life was fabulous!  Marian would have been proud of her and of her sisters and all of the grands and greats who were there!

One of Patricia Fagerland’s lovely dahlia bouquets.

After we’d dried our eyes and said our goodbyes, Vicki and I headed south to Ilwaco to catch the last hour of the Dahlia Show at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  We were just in the nick of time.  Apparently there had been a “dismantling” announcement and exhibitors were starting to comply…  We whipped around in nothing flat and managed to see everything, though we couldn’t do much lingering.

We also saw a lot of folks we knew — so many dahlia growers!!!  I had no idea!  What fun!  I hope it will be an annual event!

P.S.  Late Breaking News:  The name of the song that Robert sang is “Please Pardon Me.”

I could hear them loud and clear, but…

September 15th, 2023

I went over to Carol’s to feed the birds this morning but… hardly one to be seen.  Oh, they were there, all right, and scolding! scolding! scolding!  Not me — or at least I don’t think so.  They were really cross with the two little critters who beat them to the  goodies!

Little Mr. Chipmunk was there even before I arrived, looking over a few scattered seeds that had been left behind yesterday.  As I approached, he had quite a bit to say about the situation but scooted into the bushes when I got within arm’s distance.  And, then, even before I left, he was aced out by Mr. (or Mrs.) Gray Squirrell.  Apparently they are not dining companions and whoever gets there first is the Seed King of the moment.

Meanwhile, the ever-patient (though noisy!) birds kept fairly well hidden in the trees.  Like who did they think was going to bother them, anyway?  I’m pretty sure they could have joined either of the furry critters, but apparently that is not good manners among the woodland fauna.

I didn’t stick around to see if everyone got his/her fair share.   (Mostly, I don’t know what “fair” is.  Or is that even a concept among the feathered and furred?)  I guess their numbers and continued patronage is the best indicator that they are happy with their allotment each day.  I’m just glad they are good cleaner-uppers.  I wouldn’t want one of Tucker’s bears to come join the breakfast brigade!  Not on my watch!

So tell me again… what season is it, anyway?

September 14th, 2023

Late Summer Crocuses?

The crocuses are up in my garden!  I thought that was a bit peculiar but I’m not very green-thumbish.  So I looked it up.  This is what I found:  Crocuses can bloom from late winter to early spring, depending on the area. The flowers hold up for about 3 weeks on average. 

Shasta Daisies? All dead-headed!

Addled I may be, but I’m positive it’s neither late winter nor early spring or even in between the two.  So, what’s with those croci (or crocuses if you prefer) in the beds under my rhododendrons on the east side of the house?

I did a little walk-about this afternoon to see if there are other weirdnesses.  Yes, indeedy!  The Shasta daisies are all but gone and the Black-eyed Susans are drooping toward oblivion.  I’ve watered and dead-headed and talked to them… but apparently for naught.

Droopy Black-Eyed Susans!

So what time of year is it in my garden, anyway?  Is it only this particular garden?  I am flummoxed.  The Garden Girls come tomorrow.  Maybe they’ll have the inside scoop.  And maybe we’ll have to put our heads together and plan a little differently for next year.

Cooler, Darker, Moister — Is Fall in the air?

September 13th, 2023

It was mighty dark when I woke up this morning.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the clock and it was getting on toward seven o’clock.  It seems such a short time ago that it was full light by 5:30 in the morning.  I guess Fall is truly on its way.

Ten days from now on September 23 and we’ll be officially into autumn. I, of course, am still saying that we really didn’t have much summer weather, though my friends say I’m crazy.  But, it didn’t seem like there were all that many days when we could sit outside in comfort — with sunshine and no wind.  Truly, all those windy afternoons don’t say “summer” to me.

Or, maybe we’ll have a few weeks of “Indian Summer” — egads!  That’s probably not politically correct to say anymore either.  (I looked it up and found:  “An Indian summer is a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.”  Then I looked to see if it is PC to say so and learned: “The AMS says using the phrase is discouraged and claims that it is disrespectful of Native American people. In its place, the AMS chose Second summer – another phrase used to express an unseasonably warm and dry period in autumn in mainly temperate climates of North America.”

Then I had to look up AMS.  Oh my.  I found all sorts of meanings but nothing that related it to being the arbitrator for Politically Correct.  “Altered mental status (AMS) is a general term referring to a change to your average mental function” was one example. Another informed me that “The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops.”

And the beat went on.  Not worth the aggravation.  I take it all back.  I don’t really care what kind of weather we have going forward — politically correct or not.  It’s just too damned difficult for this old broad to keep up!

September 13, 1987 seems so short ago.

September 12th, 2023

September 13, 1987

Thirty-six years ago today

Nyel and I were married

At Croquet.

Gordon was my Bridesmaid,

Roy was Best Man.

Joel Penoyar did the honors

Much to Willard’s chagrin!

Wedding Picture by Kati Downer

It was a surprise to everyone

Except to my son Charlie

My mother had the vapors

Dad had another drink.

I gave Michelle my bouquet

And she took it to class for sharing,

Proceeds?  To Water Music that year.

It was the best wedding ever!

Wedding Pillow from The Franks

The last time I saw Spud and Mary…

September 11th, 2023

Spud Siegel and Mary Flower

Yesterday’s House Concert with Mary Flower, Spud Siegel and Doc Stein was perfect in every single way.  Mary, described by Hipfish as a “Finger Picking Artist” and Spud, mandolin (and pocket trumpet!) player extraordinaire, were everything the audience expected and more.

Doc, came as a complete surprise.  He apparently often plays with them and, as Spud said, “Mary wanted him to join us.”  It didn’t take long for the audience to understand why.  The three not only speak the same language musically.  The byplay among them kept us all laughing and wanting more! more! more!

Spud, Mary, and Doc September 10, 2023

Spud and Mary have done a House Concert here before which, I am chagrinned to say I do not remember at all, though at least two audience members assured me that they were here for it.  And since they came from Yakima and from Vancouver this time, specifically to see them again, I could only conclude that I am, indeed, losing it.

Today I spent a bit of time going back in our guest books to see if I could track down that concert. Yes!!   Spud and Mary were here on April 26, 2009 but I’m not at all sure Nyel and I were.  My usual House Concert heading naming artists and date  is not there — only signatures indicating a full house with a note from Brigid saying:  We are headed for New Orleans this Thursday.  This was the PERFECT warm up – Thanks to Mary F.

I can only think that I was in the hospital with Nyel on that occasion and that someone else hosted in our place.  Or… more likely, my mind has finally gone into overload mode.  I did count and found that there have been 106 House Concerts here since the first one Nyel and I hosted on January 28, 2001 with Irish Fiddler Randal Bays.


And, I did count and found that Spud has done six concerts here (counting that one with Mary that I’ve spaced) — most of them with David “Crabbo” Crabtree who used to play with him at the Ark and, before that, at the Shelburne when Nanci and Jimella had the restaurant there in 1981.  We remember one another from way back then…

How lucky I am to have so many fine musicians in my life.  And for so long, too!  I am rich beyond measure that I can count so many as friends.

Thank you, Michael Lemeshko!

September 10th, 2023

Michael Looking for the Best Angle

“Pacific County History Forum” is up and running on YouTube thanks to Michael Lemeshko, one of the Forum organizers.  Michael not only volunteered his video equipment and offered to document each of the monthly sessions.  He also explored how to get them online for those who want to experience the Forum again (and again) and especially for those who have not yet figured out how to be two places at one time.  Way to go Michael!

As he was working on the “finished product,” Michael kept me apprised of his progress:    The only negative is that the video is in 5 parts. So part one is 30 minutes, part 2, 30 minutes, and parts 3, 4, 5, a few minutes each . All due to either changing batteries or hitting pause. 

Then he went on to say: No more hitting pause. Can’t do anything about changing out a dead battery. Learning as we go...

Sydney Moderating

My “take” on it was one of total awe and amazement.  I don’t know what I expected, but I certainly did not think I would learn much by seeing the  video.  After all!  I was right there in the thick of things.  But… you know what they say about being too close to your work.  And it was true — I didn’t see the forest for the trees… (and not the trees very well, either.)

I’m so glad I can listen to each of the speakers again and again.  And I’m equally glad that I won’t be the moderator next month!  (Robby Burns comes to mind: O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! )  There’s nothing like seeing yourself “up close and personal” to give you a taste of humble pie!

Do take a look!   If you were there in person, you’ll enjoy the “replay.”  And if you weren’t, I hope this will encourage you to come next time!

And the beat goes on…

September 8th, 2023

Mr. P. in Colin’s Plum Tree

My down-the-street neighbor, after reading of the fruit-theiving porcupine in my plum tree, sent a photo of Mr. P in HIS plum tree a day or so later.  That rodent is surely making the rounds!

I did a little sleuthing to see what I could learn about porcupines. According to my research, adults range from 2 to 3 feet in length and weigh about 20 pounds,  Their fur ranges in color from brownish-yellow to black with white highlights on their quills – (the black and white are definitely “our” guy’s colors,)  And they are covered in approximately 30,000 hollow quills.

Even though all our Oysterville sightings so far have been with the rascals in trees, they are said to spend much of their time on the ground.  AND, presumably they aren’t the best climbers.  One study found that 30% of the porcupines had healed fractures from falling out of trees! 

Dogs often tangle with porcupines and should be taken directly to a vet should that occur. Such an attack can be fatal. 

As for their diet — A foraging porcupine will eat the fruits (as we know, here in Oysterville), plants, and vegetables in your garden and they  have been known to chew on tool handles, garden hoses, and tires.

In Washington, porcupines “are unprotected” which I assume means you may have your way with them.  My way is to let them go their way.  But I do resent their stealing my plums!

Just east of our back fence…

September 7th, 2023

Look who’s in our plum tree??? Photo by Cate Gable

Look who  Cate spotted in Nyel’s plum tree the other day!  The pesky porcupine that ate all of the Wachsmuth’s apples!  Of course, it’s hard to tell with porcupines, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same one.  After all, we don’t often see any of these slow-moving critters in town and this one does look pretty familiar.  And smug.

Tucker checked out the few plums (actually they’re Italian prunes) Mr. Porcupine left on the upper branches and reports that they are still a bit tart.  We (Tucker on his ladder, me on terra firma with a container) are going to try to get them on Saturday — if any remain!

And today, while I was at the dentist, the meadow just beyond that plummy prune tree disappeared!  Just like that!!  Chris-The-Mower-Man was here and what a grand job he did!  Have you noticed the ORF Meadow as you come into town from the south?  Beautiful! And it’s so nice to see Willard’s Bench once again after its summer disappearance in the tall grasses!

Our Gorgeous Meadow Ready For Autumn!

I hope we have a month or two to enjoy the beauty of the shorn meadow grasses before the winter tides and rains start creating their puddles and lakes out there.  But, I love those, too — especially when the ducks get to dabbling and it’s splash-full of watery activity out there beyond my windows!  It is hard to believe, though, that summer is just about over!  I hope I enjoyed it.  It seemed to dash by so in a blink this year!