Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Fingers Crossed – It’s Boostering Day!

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Nyel – My Hero!

Nyel gets full credit!  He claims, of course, that he is a total luddite, that he can’t find his way to and from his email address, and that he is (at best) at three or four with his computer.  Yet, more than once, he has come to my rescue, solving the unsolvable and interpreting the techno-speak of instructions from “help sites.”  And now… he’s done it again.

I was in the other room deep into 2017 — finishing up a scrapbook long set aside — and I heard, “Do you want to get your booster shot tomorrow?”  Say what???  OF COURSE I wanted to but… We’ve been waiting for news of that Moderna shot forever, it seems, and have watched our Pfizer friends with envy as they’ve gone off to be boosted here there and even at CostCo.

“What are you talking about?” I asked as I dropped everything and followed the sound of his voice.  “They’re offering Moderna Boosters at Walgreen’s.  Tomorrow!  I can sign us up on line!”  And he did!   (Luddite, indeed!  What a guy!)   I called our friends Bill and Sue who have also been waiting patiently and… the upshot is that we’re all going together, wheelchair included, in their van and then out to dinner afterwards!  Is this a Red Letter Day or what?

And speaking of Mr. Klinkenborg…

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

Well, I know that chances are slim that you really have been talking or even thinking about Verlyn Klinkenborg of late, but I do highly recommend him.  Especially his book, the rural life.  And, in case you still don’t know who I’m talking about, check out my blog of May 26, 2020, “Characterizing Oysterville…Again!” for a quickie overview of both this amazing author and his book.

I’ve been re-reading bits of it, as I do periodically, and came across this sentence about the old farmhouse in upstate New York that the Klinkenborgs have been gradually restoring to its origins:  The house has changed us more than we’ve changed it.  What a lovely thought.  Right up there with “If these walls could talk.”

I do, indeed, believe that when we form a bond with a house there is a reciprocal relationship that occurs.  Somehow, we accommodate to one another.  Mr. K’s example is :  I almost never smack my head on the low ceiling over the stairs to the mudroom anymore.  For me that passage has grown taller over the past year.  Visitors smack their heads again and again, no matter ow often I warn them.

After-Performance Photo, 2017

I immediately thought of the time our friend Cameron missed the step going into our laundry room and fell to her knees on the (carpeted) uneven cement foundation, necessitating a hurried trip to the ER, stitches, and a slight delay to the Rose City Mixed Quartet’s performance at Vespers that afternoon.  So used to that one-step down were we, that I’d never given it a thought…  We certainly did think about it from then on!  And even more so now that Nyel is in a wheelchair.

But there are so many other, subtler ways the house and we have come to understand one another — the windows that won’t stay open unless propped; the door that opens by itself when the south wind blows (though Mrs. Crouch gets the blame); our automatic canting of a pen or pencil this way, not that way, lest it roll off the dining room table.  And, of course, which rooms we’ll be in according to the weather — never the front of the house if there’s a freezing east wind!

There are probably a dozen more subtle ways that we have changed — ways I haven’t even noticed.  A fair exchange, no doubt, for us re-painting, re-papering, and even re-purposing a room or two.  Maybe now that Mr. K. has set me to thinking, I’ll become more aware.  And maybe, someday, I’ll actually hear the walls talk!

Counting The Days…

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Last Year in Our Yard

I don’t know when I’ve been so eager to set the clocks back and return to “normal” time.  For whatever reason, the timing of morning light and evening dark, the chickens’ routines, and my own activities, are all out of whack right now.  The upshot is that I’m saying my goodnights to the girls in the pitch-of-it-all when a flashlight, no matter how bright, is NOT all that helpful.  And I seem to forget their breakfast until almost lunch time.  (Apologies don’t cut it with chickens.)

The night chores are the worst.  I can see where I’m going by moon, stars, or flashlight, and it’s not all that far.  But I can’t see who’s just beyond my sightlines — deer people eating the pears?  bear people ambling through?  scary little ratty people snuffling up the poultry food?  It’s a bit creepy, you betcha.

I can’t remember feeling this way about our nighttime garden in the past.  Not until the last ten years or so since we’ve had lots more four-legged visitors of the wild variety in and around the village.  Day and night.  They like it here and, for the most part, don’t cause much trouble.  A garbage can raid now and then by a bear or a thorough foraging of the roses by the deer.  That’s about all.  And since I’ve been ever-so-careful to take in the girls’ feed each evening, the rodents have deserted the coop as far as I can tell.

Last Year at Tucker and Carol’s

But, with Mother Nature, it is necessary to be ever-vigilant.  Unfortunately, my internal alarm clock does not seem to be synchronized with the ever-changing hours of daylight.  In the morning, it’s not so much of a problem, though sometimes my own activities are well underway before I think “Chickens!” and scurry to open their gate and take them their food and morning treats.  They are sure to let me know that Forgetful Farmer’s Wife does not make for happy chickens.

As yet, Unseen At The Coop

The evening is far worse.  It’s usually “Big Dark” by the time I grab that flashlight and scurry forth.  I try not to think about the time I heard movement just beyond my light beam — fortunately a doe and a buck watchful but too busy eating pears to leave the area.  Would a bear have been so polite?  Do I transmit scaredy-cat-victim endorphins all over the place?

So far, so good.  But November 7th and the end of Daylight Saving Time can’t come soon enough.  What a difference that hour will make.  I hope.

My Back-to-the-Land Attack c. 1976

Sunday, October 17th, 2021

Road and Building Site – July 1978

The interest of my nearest and dearest in my blog of a few days back —  “Fifty Years Ago Or So” — with its photo of California Gothic Mother (me) and Son (Charlie) has prompted me to reveal yet another little-known period of my personal evolution.  It came along a few years later.  I was up here  for Christmas — in 1974 or ’75 —  and to help plan Oysterville’s part in the 1976 Bicentennial, when my father introduced me to a man who was interested in buying a particular piece of bayfront property from the family.  It was  a mile or so south of Oysterville — “in an area we used to picnic when you were a kid,” dad said.  “You might have some insights about it.”

I didn’t.  I suspected, even then, that dad was doing a match-making thing.  It worked… sort of.  The man in question was an artist, a bit younger than I, worked seasonally for the Forest Service, and wanted a simple get-away to serve as his home-and-studio during his off-season.  Maybe we could go into partnership?  Which it turned out would be mostly my money and mostly his physical labor.

Sydney and Her Model House (built by Charlie) – July 1978

He had great ideas — showed me where he would raise kiwi fruit in a small clearing in the woods; showed me where he thought the house should be sited; and also where we’d place the wind generator to take optimum advantage of the “westerlies” (or was it the “southerlies”?)  We continued our conversation by mail after I returned to California…  and for several years thereafter.  I visited him at his fire lookout.  We met a time or two on “our” property to clear the area for the drain field and site the 1,000-foot “driveway” from Sandridge Road.  He came to Castro Valley and talked marriage.  And about then I realized that we both liked his dog (1/2 wolf, 1/2 husky) more than we liked one another.

By the summer of 1978, I had a road into the property, a well with great water, a Clivus Multrum composting toilet, a wind generator ready to install, and someone working on house plans.  The artist and I had gone separate ways.  I was left to find buyers for the Clivus Multrum and the wind generator, and thought I’d proceed with building a “summer place” that might segue into a place to retire.  It didn’t quite work out that way… thank goodness!

Fifty Years Or So Ago…

Friday, October 15th, 2021

California Gothic Mother and Son, c. 1970   Photo by Bill La Rue

I think of this photo as “California Gothic Mother & Son, circa 1970s.”  I hadn’t seen it (or thought about it) in years but, cleaning out the back forty reveals more treasures than can be imagined.  I loved this photo then and I love it now.  I wonder why it’s been tucked away for so long.

Now, a half century later, I don’t remember the context or the reason for this particular image.  My then husband, Bill LaRue, was a photographer after all, and he was likely to “capture us” at odd times for reasons known only to himself.  We actually have few photographs from that time period.  When you are married to a photographer, snapshots of the usual “important events” aren’t often a consideration.

I can’t quite remember what was happening in the Bay Area or in our lives in 1970.  We were busy.  I remember that Charlie’s hair was long for a number of years — as was the style among teens where we lived in Castro Valley.  Out in the burbs.  The dress I am wearing I remember well.  It was a “school dress” — I wore it, probably once a week or so to my teaching job in the Hayward Unified School District.   My wardrobe, then as now, wasn’t extensive, and  I remember being pretty sick of “the blue dress” by the time I was able to replace it.

I Googled “Bay Area 1970” to see if anything triggered a memory and found this:  San Francisco in the 1970s was a global hub of culture. It was known worldwide for hippies and radicals. The city was heavily affected by drugs, prostitution and crime. Outcasts and the socially marginalized were attracted by a greater tolerance and acceptance of diverse cultures in the city.  

Photographer Bill LaRue c. 1965

Really?   I don’t remember “the city” that way at all.  We had friends living in The Haight and in North Beach, in the Castro and out in the Avenues. We crossed the bay frequently — to attend art exhibits or the theater, to go out to dinner, to shop, to visit.  I clearly remember “The Summer of Love” in 1967 and felt comfortable with the way we had all morphed into the rallies and peace marches of the early seventies.  However, the Berkeley student “protests” — not so much.

In the late seventies, long after Charlie had cut his hair, and after he had graduated from Cal Arts in Valencia and had moved to L.A., I came  north to Oysterville.  It was a bit of a shock to hear what people thought of “California Girls” — of what they thought my lifestyle had been like.  It was a lot like what I read this morning on Wikipedia…  Go figure.

Three Thumbs Up for Long Beach!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Mask Up

There’s probably a way to get a good picture of a billboard message in lights — one of those kind that changes every few seconds.  Probably pulling over to the side of the road and doing the usual point-and-click isn’t optimum, but there was traffic and…

Practice Patience

In any case, most locals (who undoubtedly get out and about more frequently than I) have probably seen the big signs I’m talking about.  They are both on the main highway as you enter Long Beach — one facing south, about across from Bank of the Pacific and one facing north about across from the golf course.  I think I noticed that one first, probably last Friday.

At least for me, from when you first see the sign until you have driven past it, there is just enough time to read the three messages it flashes:  MASK UP!  PRACTICE PATIENCE!  SOCIAL DISTANCE!  Maybe not in that order.  But, I was so pleased to see the sign(s) and recognize the watchwords of our times that I didn’t really register any details.

Social Distance

Today, coming back from a doctor’s appointment in Ilwaco, we pulled over to take a picture of the sign across from the BOP.  There was a fair amount of traffic, so we didn’t linger, even though Nyel was dissatisfied with his results.  I don’t  know if they’d have turned out better if he’d managed perfect timing…  Maybe.  But whether or not the timing is perfect for a cell phone photograph, it is fine and dandy tfor drivers and passengers entering Long Beach to read all three messages.  Now let’s just hope they “get” them.

And three thumbs up to Long Beach (one for each message!) for putting these important watchwords up in lights!

Today’s Forecast: A Soaking Rain

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

“Really?  A  quarter inch of soaking rain this afternoon?  That’s what the weatherman had to say?”  I don’t know if I was skeptical or disappointed.  Nyel’s response, “Yup,” was not helpful.

I just think a quarter inch of rain doesn’t seem like enough to be “soaking.”  But then, I’m not a good judge of liquid quantities.

When I was young and foolish and hugely pregnant, I asked my obstetrician if I would know when my water broke.  He didn’t laugh out loud but he did twinkle a bit and said, “Have you ever spilled a cup of water?”  I hadn’t.  Charlie didn’t announce himself that way.  And I’m still not sure how far a cup of water would go…

“But,” I continued to my long-suffering husband, “is soaking rain a real term?  Does Kathleen Sayce have it on her list of 134 ways to say ‘rain’ in the Pacific Northwest?”  You know the answer — “Yup.”

So I looked it up and, of course, my husband-of-few words is correct.  Maddeningly, he is ALWAYS correct.  There it was on Kathleen’s list under the heading “Heavy Rain Terms.”  It shows up just after ‘Sleeting’ and just before ‘Sopping.’   ‘Soaking’ it says.  I can’t help but wonder if the weatherman consults Kathleen’s list or if it was vice-versa.

I still don’t know exactly what it means.  Synonyms for ‘soaking’ include waterlogged, saturated, drenched, and sodden.  No surprises there.  So I guess what confuses me is the one-quarter inch.  It doesn’t seem like enough to soak, saturate, sodden or waterlog.  In fact, it seems like a puny amount to me — maybe enough to provide a grizzle or a sprinkle or a skoosh or a mizzle, which are all on Kathleen’s list under “Light Rain Terms.”

But, then, I still don’t know how much a cup of water is when it spills.  How can I possibly judge a quarter-inch of sodden?   I’d ask Nyel, but I already know what his response would be…

Rule #1: Always check between the covers!

Monday, October 11th, 2021


We all know the adage, “You can’t tell a book by its cover.”  We know that to mean, literally, that a book might have the dullest cover ever and be a true cliff-hanger.  But, more likely we apply the adage metaphorically.  Like, even though that woman looks as cold and aloof as an Ice Maiden, she is totally warm and approachable, belying her looks.

But… the other day Karla Nelson of Time Enough Books called me with an entirely new take on that old saying.  “Sydney,” she said, “I didn’t know you were writing ghost stories about the indigenous people of West Virginia!  And under a pseudonym, too!”

“Huh?” was my totally uncomprehending response.


Apparently, a customer had taken a copy of Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula off the shelf to have a look and, when she opened it, found that the title page said:  “Early Native Americans in West Virginia – The Fort Ancient Culture” by Darla Spencer – History Press © 2016.   There followed 158 pages of illustrated text material, presumably interesting information about the Late Prehistoric and Protohistoric native settlements in West Virginia between about AD 1000 and AD 1650 to 1700.  The bibliography, acknowledgements, and foreword are scholarly and impressive.  This is definitely not a book of ghost stories about the Long Beach Peninsula!

In the end (and after checking carefully), the customer bought both of my ghost books, correct innards intact.  Karla removed the “West Virginia edition” from the shelf and gave it to me so I could take a look.  I still can’t imagine how such a mistake happened.  With the number of titles that History Press has in print (4260  according to their website today), it stands to reason that their printing and binding facilities are fully automated.  How could

So how do the innards of one book end up with a cover from a completely different book?  And how many of those mismatches were produced?  Are they “out there” somewhere confounding people from WV to WA?  And if any of them do sell and they are not returned, who gets the royalty for the sale?  I really think Darla and I should split the entire net profit –none of this eight percent (about 50 cents per book) nonsense.  I really don’t think History Press earned their 92% this time around.  Do you?

Snugging In Against Winter

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

The Cannon Heads toward Winter Quarters

Yesterday, without fanfare, the replica 1841 Mountain Howitzer that rests on its own cement pad for six months of the year in our North Garden was retired for the winter.  General Nyel of The Honorary Oysterville Militia (THOM) oversaw the cannon’s Snugging In process by Lieutenant Chester “Tucker” Wachsmuth and his son Clark.

“The weatherman has been predicting serious rain for days now” said the General, “so we thought we’d better do our due diligence before it materializes.”  The cannon is now safely at parade rest in a snug corner of the Stevens’ garage as is the bronze plaque which displays the names of the founding members of THOM.

Bronze Plaque Listing Founding Members of THOM

Oysterville Daybook readers may remember that THOM was organized at the time of Oysterville’s Sesquicentennial in 2004. It was Nyel’s idea that the village should have a cannon to replace the one that was used here in the early days on ceremonial occasions. Cannons are expensive so we formed The Honorary Oysterville Militia and offered friends and family the opportunity to buy commissions. We raised enough money to purchase an exact replica of an 1841 Mountain Howitzer and to have it shipped from the factory in Coolville, Ohio. It, like it’s long-ago Oysterville predecessor, is fired only on ceremonial occasions and only with blank charges.

Snugged In for The Season

If the weather cooperates in the Spring, the cannon will return to its outside quarters sometime in May.  It has become the tradition to fire it on Memorial Day to honor those THOM members who have “fallen in the line of duty,” as well as all other Oysterville friends and loved ones who are no longer on the “active duty” list.

Meanwhile, we’re ready for those winter rains, Mr. Weatherman.  Bring ’em on!


Me! Warts and All! – for whatever it’s worth!

Saturday, October 9th, 2021

The Parsonage c. 1900 — where Mrs. Crouch lived

Yesterday a link arrived to the podcast I did a few weeks ago with Jim Harold on his program “Ghost Insights.”  I listened to it with fear and trepidation — hearing myself being interviewed is a true horror to me.  Second only to seeing myself on TV.  And yet I keep saying “yes” when asked.  Go figure.

It wasn’t as bad as I had thought… perhaps they edited out the worst parts.  Still, there was one really bad error (by me) on it.  I’ll let listeners see if they can find it.  Hint:  it has to do with a question Mr, Harold asked me toward the end of the interview.

As is always the case with these things, at least for me, there are other things I wish I had said or pointed out about the ghosts of the Peninsula — especially those who have manifested themselves to people I know well.  In at least one case, I’ve known the woman who shared her story for more than seventy years.  She was a great informant and I have great faith in the accuracy of her “report.”

Where Mrs. C. hangs out?

And I wish I had said a bit more about the not-so-righteous Reverend Crouch.  I guess I expected Mr. Harold to ask me some leading questions about him, but that didn’t happen.  Of course, from my viewpoint, the purpose of the podcast is to encourage book sales.  I wonder if it will.

Here is what the “Ghost Insights” team sent to me with the suggestion that I put the link on social media:

Listen to my recent interview on Ghost Insight with @THEJimHarold  

If you listen, let me know what you think  (Be kind, please.)  I think it’s about 30 minutes long…