Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

It was the heat what done ’em in!

Monday, July 26th, 2021

Marta and the Internet

For several weeks now, in the case of our internet access, download speeds, upload speeds and what have you, we’ve been in a world of hurt.  Finally, today Mark-the-Magician was sent by CenturyLink to have a look at our wiring, inside and outside.  And now, once again, all is right with the world.  The reason for major meltdowns at our house and in many other places on the coast was the hot weather we had a few weeks ago.  Apparently, the temperatures in some of the equipment kiosks reached 140° — enough to cause major damage and fall-out.   As in lucky us!  (Oh.  And did I mention the dead bats?  None in any of Mark’s kiosks but, apparently, a problem in others.  Heat prostration.)

Somehow, listening to the woes of the internet infrastructure put me in mind of “My Fair Lady” and “the gin what did her in.”  So with apologies to Eliza Doolittle and Company, who knew it would be the heat what done in our internet service?  “We just don’t expect heat like that here on the coast,” Mark said, “so we don’t have air conditioners in the kiosks.”  Understandable.

Little Brown Bats — Heat Sensitive

I was pleased to see that Marta — who is here visiting from the SF Bay Area — was incensed that the problem can’t be solved.  “But why not?” she insisted.  “If you were in a city area, it would have been fixed long ago.” I tried to explain that that’s the point exactly.  “We are rural-to-the-max and there’s no way we’ll ever have enough population (read: money) to warrant correcting this issue.”
“But that’s so unfair,” she said.  “Welcome to our world, said I.  “You’ve got PG&E where you live; we have CenturyLink…”

I don’t know exactly what magic Mark performed, but within a trice I was able to turn in the last of my Vespers article for day-after-tomorrow’s paper.  I hope it wasn’t too late…

It’s Grandparent Season at the Beach!

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

The Grandkid Generation at the Red House — thanks, Anna Hook Spooner!

Having no grandchildren is a lot like growing up without siblings.  You don’t actually miss what you’ve never experienced, but you’ve done enough vicariously living in the moccasins of others that you know some of the parts — both good and not-so-good. But, mostly, the fun parts and, most especially,  the parts involving grandkids at the beach!

The first batch of grandkids here in Oysterville this summer were two families of Red House cousins.  They live in Sun Valley and in Seattle and, although they see one another occasionally during the year, it’s summertime in Oysterville when they really get “quality time” together.  (Not that they call it that, probably, but they might when they look back on those two weeks many years from now.)  Sad to say, Nyel and I only hooted and hollered as we drove by — all of us on different wave lengths this year.  We did see Grandpa Jim Hook briefly, though — on his way out of town for a few adult catch-up days at home.  Though he claimed “frazzled,” he looked great! Grandpa-ing definitely agrees with him.

Pelicans at Benson Beach – Photo by Opa Tucker Wachsmuth

Next up were Carol and Tucker.  This year they are spending a separate week of time with each of their four grandchildren.  Last week it was 10-year-old Gabi’s turn and oh! the places they went and the things they did!  Bensons-by-the-Beach for their (HUGE) pancake breakfast, Marsh’s Museum (probably more than once), Cannon Beach and Seaside, the new jetty to see the pelicans, Sherwood Forest out by Leadbetter Point to see Opa’s childhood campsite, Camp Tagum.  And so much more!

And today, Cousin Ruth and Cindy arrive with Ruth’s children and grandchildren.  They have been beaching it on the Peninsula since Thursday and are coming over for a look at the house and a family history lesson.  Imagine!  We may not be grandparents (or more like greats or great-greats) but we qualify as a part of Oysterville’s “living history.”  I love it!  (I wonder what the kids think…)

The Egg Count — Waxing by Moonlight?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

July 19th – Egg of the Month?

I’ve been noting “egg” on the kitchen calendar each time one appears in a nest box.  Actually in “the” nest box, for although there are three of them, only the north one has seen any deposits for the last several years.  The girls are silent on the reason(s) for this.

Day before yesterday, on the 19th, we received our first egg for this month. Last month we were gifted with three — on the 19th, the 21st, and the 22nd.  All in the same nest box and all by the same hen, at least as far as we can tell.  Each egg has been the same shape, size, texture and color — a sure give-away, but only to a point.  Same girl, but we are unsure as to exactly which girl.  Once again, I wish those eggs came with identifying initials!

We think, though, that it’s probably Slutvana.  She’s the only one who hangs out in the nest boxes — actually, always the north one.  However, though her nest box lounging is a daily activity, there is not always an egg involved.  Read:  hardly ever.

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay

Noting the dates of these last two months, I’m wondering if the egg-laying has anything to do with the phases of the moon. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know I’m reaching, but we’ve run out of other ideas.  Day before yesterday the moon was “Waxing Gibbous” and will be full day after tomorrow, the 23rd.  Last month on the 19th the moon was also Waxing Gibbous and was full on the 24th.

And for those who care — probably not the chickens — “Gibbous” comes from a root word meaning “hump-backed.”  According to the online Earth-Sky site:  People often see a waxing gibbous moon in the afternoon, shortly after moonrise, while it’s ascending in the east as the sun is descending in the west. It’s easy to see a waxing gibbous moon in the daytime because, at this phase of the moon, a respectably large fraction of the moon’s dayside faces our way.  And furthermore: Bottom line: A waxing gibbous moon is in the sky when darkness falls. It lights up the early evening. It appears more than half lighted, but less than full. A waxing gibbous moon comes between  first quarter moon and full moon. 

Note:  The site is silent on chickens.  And eggs.

Downsizing Along Memory Lane

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

A Banker’s Box of Correspondence

The banker’s box is labeled “Correspondence A-L” and is chock-a-block full of big envelopes, each lined up alphabetically by first-name and written in felt-tipped marker in my familiar primary-teacher-handwriting.  The letters seem to be from friends and relatives, written from 1978 to 1983 — roughly the period of time from the beginning of my full-time residency in Oysterville until I met Nyel.  I must have been cleaning out file drawers for the occupancy of his work on his Master’s degree.  Typically, I threw nothing away.  Now is the time for that, but not before taking a peek.

Alastair Reid – Photo by Rollie McKenna 1960

The first contains a single letter from Alastair Reid (1928-2014)– Scottish poet, writer for the New Yorker. scholar of Latin American literature and good friend of my Uncle Willard’s.  As it happened, he was here visiting when I arrived with a caravan of worldly possessions from California.  I would stay with my folks until Willard and Louise vacated their cottage and returned to New York and then, while Ossie Steiner and the Mack Brothers built my house on the bay, I would live at W&L’s place and begin teaching at Long Beach School.

I remember that one evening during Alastair’s visit, he and I walked a mile or so south to my property and stood on the building site looking out at the bay.  We carried with us a cardboard model of the house that Charlie had made and positioned it this way and that to imagine the finished structure.  On the way back up my road, I teased him about the gorse coming up all along the edges.  “The seeds came in with the sand for the road,” I told him, “but it was probably some of your Scottish ancestors who brought the original ones.  Maybe even these!  I’ve heard they’ll wait 100 years, until conditions are just right, to germinate.  “Gorse is a scourge!”

“That’s odd,” he told me.  “It’s easily controlled in Scotland.  We just go along with a small blowtorch and zap the plants when they’re young!”  I think he must have been funning me.  Gorse is highly flammable and surely Scotland would have gone up in flames long since had his story been true.

His letter turned out to be a response to one of mine, apparently telling him that I had purchased his newly published volume of poems, Weathering, and how much I was enjoying them.  (Indeed, my favorite all-time poem by ANYone is the namesake poem in that volume.)  Reading the last paragraph in his letter absolutely blew me away and, if there was even a glimmer of doubt about taking a look in all the other envelopes, it has completely evaporated.  Here is what he said:

You’ll get lost in the Oysterville past through the family annals, and suddenly long-dead great-uncles will materialise in the cottage, and you’ll populate it with the vivid past.  It must make Oysterville very strange to be in, as though you were adding another huge dimension to it.

 

Talk about a one-armed paper hanger!

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Farmer Nyel, Coop Cleaner Extraordinaire

We’ve all heard the jokes about being “busier than a one-armed paper hanger” but I don’t know of an equivalent saying about a one-legged coop cleaner.  That was Farmer Nyel yesterday — taking on a way over-doo-doo (ahem!) project.  It took most of the afternoon and involved a spade, a shovel, a scraper a five-gallon bucket, a large compost container, a battery-operated drill, a catspaw, fresh wood shavings and a lot of tongue-biting by me.

During the first part of Nyel’s project, I had a small job of my own — cutting and hacking at the blackberry brambles, the bindweed, and ivy that have worked their way into the chicken run during the current growing season.  Nyel’s theory has always been that the girls will make short work of the greenery (although maybe not the stickery ones.)  Wrong!  And of course, we also think that we should be getting eggs (at least occasionally) from these lay-abouts.  Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!  They obviously don’t know the Chicken Rules — not the Rules According to Farmer Nyel, anyway.

Inside the Coop

The worst part of Nyel’s job was wrestling the dropping board out of the coop.  It’s big.  It’s bulky.  It’s poopy and  uncooperative.  Plus it’s old and rotten and fell to pieces as he was pulling it out of the back “clean-out door” and (I might add) trying to keep his balance at the same time.  It was scary.  My offers to help got a very sharp response in rather negative terms.  So… I left the premises like any sensible wife would do.   The chickens had left long since — another example of fowl wisdom extraordinaire.

Shortly before dinnertime, the cleanout and repair work had been completed.  Praise be!  Farmer Nyel even accepted my offer to refurbish the nest boxes and the coop floor with wood shavings while he headed into the house to put away tools and clean himself up.  By the time I called those ungrateful chickens home to “slip between clean sheets’ (well… the chicken equivalent to that lovely fresh bed feeling) I was really happy the day was over.  Mostly I was pleased that our one-legged coop cleaner had, once again, allayed our fears and proved that he was up to all coop duties as required.  What a guy!

Thank-you Egg!

And… this morning, guess what?  A thank-you egg!  Sometimes those girls really amaze us.

 

The Very Best Part of A Book Talk

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Sydney talks about Madam X at the Senior Center

Yesterday I gave a Book Talk about Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula at the Senior Center in Klipsan.  It was the third event in as many weekends and I didn’t have high expectations for attendance or sales.  However, what I didn’t factor in was how much fun I would have talking with the people who were there!

I met several women who read my blog every single day!  They asked after the chickens, were pleased to meet Farmer Nyel (who was helping Vicki sell books for me) and one expressed a desire to meet Tucker.  “I want to find out if he is related to the Glass family.  They were best friends to my husband and me.”  I know that Tucker is related to the Glass family but I don’t know if it’s the right Glass family.  Even so, I found myself saying, “Why don’t you come by the house sometime and we’ll walk over and I’ll introduce you.”  I hope she does.  She and I were “of an age” as they say, and had it not been for people waiting in line for my autograph, we probably could have spent the rest of the afternoon becoming best friends!

A Small but Mighty Interesting Audience

Actually, there were several encounters like that and I did think to myself, “Well, after all… it’s the Senior Center and I’m bound to meet a few soulmates here.  I should come more often…”  But, it wasn’t just ‘Senior Serendipity’.  Along came a good looking “young” (50s?) man named Paul who said that we are “sort of related.”  And, indeed we are!  My first cousins were brought up by his mother’s inlaws (got that?) in Minnesota in the 1930s.  Paul was visiting the Peninsula and had just happened upon the book signing and… here he was!

Sydney with Wallace and Charles, Ft. Canby, WA, 1938

As it turned out,  when  Nyel and I returned home a half hour or so later,  we saw Paul taking pictures up the street.  I hailed him, invited him in, and we spent a pleasant half hour looking at family pictures and sharing information about my cousins Wallace and Charles Pearson whose mother Suzita was my mother’s older sister.  As Sue was dying of pneumonia on December 27, 1932, she asked her mother (my grandmother) to send the boys to Lake City, Minnesota to the Pearsons, her husband’s people.  At that time her father (my grandfather)  was in a sanitorium recovering from a horrendous automobile accident and my grandmother, always frail and losing her sight, could not have coped with two young boys.  Even by pooling our information, there is much that Paul and I don’t know.  Time to get Cuzzin Ralph looking on ancestry.com once again!

And… even so, I sold a fair number of books.  But the best part of all (as usual) was meeting and talking with everyone!  Even my Facebook friend, Terry Eager. came all the way from Chinook to meet me in person and say “hello.”  Wow!  What a fun afternoon!

 

How many differences can you find?

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Jean Nitzel and Son

Remember those pictures — often in the comics section of the Sunday paper — that seemed at first glance to be identical, but weren’t?  I used to love those.  And for some reason I thought of them, only in a completely different way, when our friend Jean Nitzel wrote that she had arrived safely in Maine.  Day before yesterday she wrote on Facebook:  So happy to get off the train and put my feet on solid ground. At my son’s house in Maine here for a couple of weeks. Lots to see and do. Another check off my bucket list.

She kept us all apprised of her progress across the country with periodic pictures and comments on Facebook.  Change trains in Chicago.  Coming up soon.  A bit nervous about that.  They said they would have someone to help.  Moving around train feels like you are in a pinball machine.  Not very stable.  Is nice to just sit and look out the window  I’m on upper deck and is pretty rocky.  Reading a lot.

So that’s one “picture.”  The other that came to mind was the train trip my aunt Medora’s “chums” from Olympia took to come to the Peninsula for a visit in 1913 — 108 years ago.  Of course, they were young — had just completed their Freshman year in high school.  And train travel was, by comparison, relatively new.  Here is what one of the girls, Elizabeth Ayer, wrote home to her mother about that trip:

Elizabeth wrote this account to her mother on July 10, 1913 – almost 108 years to the day before Jean began her own train journey:

Elizabeth Ayer, Marie Strock, Medora Espy – 1912

Dear Mamma,
…  Mr. Strock bought our tickets.  Also a life insurance apiece.  They were for one day and $25.00.  Well we got aboard baggage, cherries, candy and all.  Made a very slow trip to Tenino.  It seemed to me that we crossed the new railroad about every half hour.  Marie immediately dived into a novel, the characters of which eloped in the second chapter, while I gazed out of the windows.  Some of the workers waved at us.  In Tenino we had to wait about 20 minutes.    In which time Marie read and I asked about 50 questions at the office concerning our trip.  From Tenino to Centralia the trip was quite uneventful.  Very nice depot at Centralia.  Here we deposited our baggage preparatory to a good rest.  I then inquired about the train to South Bend and found that it was at the end of the station.  Then we made a rush for the train, got into the parlor car… so we got off the car to take another.  We were about 3 hr. getting to South Bend.  There were only about 10 babies in our car and they all made as much music as they could.  At South Bend we deposited our baggage while I inquired about the boat to Nahcotta.  The man at the window said it was at the wharf and that we would have to hurry.  Then he rushed out, grabbed our baggage, and told us to follow. 

The next part of Elizabeth’s story, though not about train travel, is an interesting look back at how visitors got to the beach from points north a century ago:

He led the way across the tracks and through grass past our knees.  Soon as we came in sight of the boat, our guide yelled to the captain that he had a couple of passengers for him.  Then the Captain met us and took the baggage.  He wasn’t much more than a boy.  The captain took our suitcases down below and the boat started … As we neared the ocean, the water grew very much rougher and it became impossible to stand alone.  I went down and got my raincoat and then we staggered forward and clung onto the gangplank and the water washed over the front and soaked our legs.  (It was great.)  Finally, Marie wanted to go down and read and I wanted to change my hat so we waited until the boat was tipped to suit our fancy.  Then we made a dash for a ladder, got ahold of it and after half an hour managed to fall downstairs and finely got my suitcase and after much work got out my hat.  I spent most of the 3 hours up in front.  One time when I was leaning over the rail reading a notice concerning corked boots, the captain leaned out of the window and inquired if my pal was sick.  She was leaning on the pilot house.  We ate our lunch about 3 o’clock.
       

Bay View Hotel — White building on left, across railroad tracks from Morehead & Company

Don’t know when the stage goes so will give the most important part of my letter.  I have left in the way of funds the money to get my ticket back and 50 cents beside of which I owe Medora 20 cents for postals and intend to put the 30 cents in on films.  So that will leave me without a cent.  And have just discovered that we will have to stay over night in South Bend which will be 50 cents beside meals so need more money.
          We met Medora half way up the wharf.  She is the same good natured goodfornothing that she was last winter.  We took dinner at the Bayview Hotel, Nahcotta.  Had a three minute steak.  Everybody stared at us….  The hotel is kept by a family of 14 or 16 all of whom dressed up in honor of our presence.  Medora said it was the first time in her life she had seen them dressed up.  Drove to Oysterville behind Coaly…

So… how many differences did you find between now and then?  Or, perhaps it would be easier to name the things that were alike!

Knock! Knock! Adventure calling!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Kevin West at the Oysterville Cemetery 7/11/21

I was just in the midst of gathering my wits in preparation for my book signing at BOLD on Sunday when there was a knock at the door.  It was my neighbor Tucker and with him a personable young man named Kevin West.  “Kevin is looking for some historical information about Oysterville,” Tucker said, “so I told him I knew just the person for him to talk to.”

And then he laughed in that charming way of his and before you know it, the two of them were sitting in my library and we were talking about Oysterville’s founding fathers and about the rowdy days of old and about Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.

As it turned out, Kevin is a filmmaker and an adventurer and a follower of whatever takes his fancy.  He asked if he could film me for his You Tube “channel” and, without really understanding what it was all about, I said, “Sure!”  The next day, he gave Tucker the following information so that we could see for ourselves what he does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icB1QxGYQY  Copy it into your browser when you have 30 or 40 minutes to “visit” Oysterville and come sit with me in our library for a bit.

 I am passing it on to you “warts and all” as they say.  I’m not sure who the local was that told Kevin about the cemetery — I itch to edit that part and maybe you will too.   I thought the interview with me was fairly okay — I await your “review.”   (I think the episode is titled “This Town Is Haunted.”  If you know me at all, you know how I feel about that, too.)

 

On the Patio at Bold tomorrow 2:00-4:00!

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

If you’ve not yet been into BOLD Art Framing and Espresso at 711 Pacific Ave N in Long Beach, by all means drop by tomorrow at 2 p.m. when I’ll be chatting a bit about my new book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.  After all, it’s not every Art Gallery that hosts a book-talk and book-signing!  But then, it’s not every gallery that calls itself BOLD and ventures into the literary arts as well as the visual arts.  I couldn’t be more pleased to be a little part of it!

For BOLD owners  Greg Holmes and Daneka Ewert, this book-signing venture is a first!  I hope that it is a fun and successful experience for them and that it won’t be the last of such events. And I’m counting on you readers who are old hands at attending book-talks and author-signings to show up to clap and cheer and (of course) to buy a book or two!

From the very first day that they opened their doors, Daneka and Greg have included a display of books by local authors and, though I cannot speak for others, they have done very well by me.  Indeed, I’ve wished more than once that my friend Bob Meadows was still living so I could tell him all about it.  “Old Bob” was an Oysterville handyman who could fix or jerry-rig just about anything — probably would have done well in the arts, himself.  He had a fine sense of humor and one of the things that amused him greatly was seeing “all them arty fellas” setting up their easels around the Oysterville Church on summer afternoons.

I don’t know if Old Bob had ever been in an Art Gallery, but how I would love to have taken him into BOLD so he could see the marvelous creations of some of them arty folks — me included!  I don’t know how he felt about ghosts but he was interested in the history of this area and I think he enjoyed reading.  Maybe my ghost stories would have been just right for him.  And maybe they’ll be just right for you.  Come on over tomorrow afternoon and find out!

Big Doings and A Major Decision

Friday, July 9th, 2021

In 1956, the C.L. Smith Family bought the property just north of the Heckes place and separated from the R.H. Espy House by the grassy lane called Division Street.  This weekend, some sixty-five years later, the Smith’s great-grandson is getting married on that property, part of which is still in the family.  His mother and father were also married in Oysterville — in the historic church some 31 or 32 years ago, I think.

Since their arrival in Oysterville, all generations of the Smith family have been “summer people” as I, myself, was until I moved here permanently in the 1970s.  And, it wasn’t until then that I began to know the family — sisters Anne Kepner and Jean Stamper who, with their husbands, would eventually build two places on the property.  Jean and Wayne’s, to the south, incorporated the original cabin; Anne and Jim’s to the north was a new construction, lovingly designed to fit in with “Old Oysterville.”

Smith Cabin, 1984

Like so many Oysterville property owners, the Smith descendants have embraced the village.  No matter that they don’t live here full-time.  No matter that they spend most of their years far from this little corner of the world.  They come back to mark important occasions in their lives — like this weekend’s wedding.  It’s the way of many folks who have been connected to Oysterville over the years.

Kepner and Stamper Homes, 2006

This evening is the big rehearsal dinner on the old Smith Property.  The father of the groom has asked General Nyel if the cannon could be fired to mark the beginnings of the festivities — at 5:30.  The General has arranged for militia members to gather  here at 5:00 and the dinner party will “parade” to the cannon grounds for the big bang.  As Major and Aide de Camp to the General, I have decided that my place this evening is inside our house as hostess with our usual Friday Night guests.  A “Major” decision on my part… so to speak.  I’m pretty sure the General and The Honorary Oysterville Militia members will have things well in hand without my services on this stellar occasion!