Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

Doncha just hate when that happens?

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Sydney’s Neck

Not that I can understand the specifics behind my severe neck pain, but here is what I learned yesterday from my Primary Caregiver.

The x-rays showed:
Grade 1 anterior spondylolisthesis of C2 on C3, C3 on C4 and C4 on C5.  Plus moderate to severe degenerative changes fron C4-C5 through C6 and C7.

It’s probably fortunate that I really can’t read X-rays with assurance and that I don’t know the ramifications of big, scary-soundy words like spondylolisthesis.  Because of my age, “corrective surgery” is not an option, and I’m not sure it would be, anyway.  It would involve fusing some of those pesky vertebrae and I would then have little to no ability to move my head.

Sydney, 1941 — In the days when head-turning wasn’t problematic.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will depend upon muscle relaxants every eight hours as needed, tylenol for pain, and giving wide berth to activities that are likely to exacerbate the situaltion.

And, FYI,  as of today, I’m up and about and going on with life as usual, but a bit more slowly.  End of story.  But, probably not the end of the pain in the neck!


Midst Fire and Ash: Blessings and Bounty!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Tomatoes from Harry and Linda

It’s not that Harry Schleef didn’t have plenty of other things on his mind.  He and Linda, with the help of grandson Evan, had managed to get their animals (horses, donkeys, llamas) out of their Level Two Oregon Fire environment to safety.  He had seen Evan and Linda on their way to Oysterville with six cats and two dogs and was staying at home to keep an eye on things… just in case.  You’d think he might want to take a breather — a figurative one, anyway.  Air Quality was hardly conducive to a literal one.

But no.  Harry’s tomatoes were ready to be harvested.  He delivered forty pounds to neighbors and when the fire danger was downgraded to Level One, he headed to the beach with more tomatoes for Linda.  It was a quick turn-around to get Evan who needed to begin school yesterday.  And besides, the winds could shift.

Nyel’s Travel Wheelchair

“Too many tomatoes for me,” Linda said when she called.  “Do you want some?”  Heavens, yes!  But… what a mixture of feelings went with the acceptance.  It was Harry and Linda who gave us Nyel’s first wheelchair — the collapsible one we now depend on when we travel to the doctor’s or to any destination where Nyel has to get out of the car and be mobile.  Little did any of us know that it was to be a lifetime necessity.  But they won’t hear of us returning it or even reimbursing them for it.  That’s just the way they are!  And now, when their whole world is threatened beyond comprehension, they are distributing tomatoes!!!

Special Delivery at the Coop – 9/14/20

Meanwhile, our recalcitrant chickens gave us THREE (count ’em… one! two! three!) eggs yesterday!  They seemed very nonchalant about it but I do believe that they have finally mastered the word “EGG!”  When I thanked them and held up their lovely creations I almost heard them cluck “your welcome.”  Surely, it wasn’t my imagination.


Hard to Believe!

Monday, September 14th, 2020

Happy 33rd!

“What’s going on?” I asked.  I’d gone into the kitchen to get some ice for my evening Bloody Mary and saw on the table a wine glass and a bottle of apple cider.

“I thought maybe we could have a toast to our anniversary,” Nyel said.  OMG!  September 13, 2020 — our 33rd anniversary and I hadn’t given it a thought all day long.  I don’t know which was harder to believe — that we’d been married for all those years or that it was Nyel, not I, who remembered.  I must say, it wasn’t the smoky air that made me tear up for a moment.

Anniversary Chicken

So we shared a few moments of remembering our surprise wedding at the 3rd Annual Croquet and Champagne Gala in this garden.  That year it was a benefit for the Water Music Society.  And we talked about some of the many memorable moments over the years — trips to far and exotic places; celebrations we’ve attended or hosted; family events in Oysterville and New Hampshire and California and New York and Delaware!

Anniversary Roasted Potatoes

And, inevitably, we spoke of the people who have made so much difference in our lives — especially those who are no longer with us: my folks and Willard and Louise and Ed and Cleo; Gordon and Roy, Charlie and Kaye, my California teaching partner Tom Davis, Larry Weathers, Dorothy and Chuck Huggins, Helen Heckes, Carol Nordquist, Martha Murfin — so very, very many.

Anniversary Salad

And, of course, we talked of all of our friends and relatives from whom we feel estranged just now with fires raging and the pandemic not yet under control.  We paused for a moment when we realized that we’ve been married exactly half of Marta’s lifetime and more than half of Charlie’s!  How fast the time has gone! Have we used it wisely?  Do our loved ones know how much we enjoy and appreciate them and how they have enriched these many years?  (It’s actually 36 if you count our first three years together!)

September 13, 1987

How fast they fly by.  Hard to believe, indeed!

Living On The Edge of Hell

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

Air Quality Icon For Oysterville Today

It’s scary to wake up to that red, frowning air quality icon on your screen.  First thing.  The good news, at least for us, is that Portland’s air quality is no longer the worst in the world as it was last night.  This morning it’s Vancouver, B.C.  We are between the two geographically but, thank goodness, much lower than either on the air quality index and, so far anyway, not in harm’s way of fires.  Still… it’s another inside day here in Oysterville.

There is is no “there there” across the bay again today.  But it appears more like fog than yesterday’s eerie, rose-colored curtain shutting off the rest of the world.  Still, the air seems thick and smells smoky and is likely to hang around for a while.  No breeze so far.  Not like years ago when we would greet the summer mornings fogged-in and Dad would say, “It’ll all burn off by eleven o’clock.”  Even the expression “burn off” seems totally inappropriate just now.

Clackamas County, Oregon 9/11/20

Our neighbors down the road have reported in.  Their full-time residence is  in Clackamas County, Oregon near Oregon City. That area (as of last night) was a “Level 2” — “be ready to evacuate immediately” — so they spent the last few days moving animals to safety — 3 horses, 3 donkeys, and 5 llamas.  Linda is here at their Oysterville house with a grandson and 6 cats and 2 dogs.  Harry is staying at home in Oregon unless/until the “Evacuate Immediately” order comes.  OMG!

We are so glad they are safe but, somehow, hearing that they are amplifies the fact that so many are not.  Ten percent of the Oregon population — 550,000 people have had to evacuate.  So far.  OMG!

Beyond Our Meadow: No There There

There seems nothing to do but pray and wait.  Bless them all!  Especially the first responders who are far from the edge of hell;  they are smack-dab in the middle of it.   “Stay safe!  Stay safe!  Stay safe!” is the mantra here.  And everywhere.

“The Dark Divide” is on its way!

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Coming September 18th!

If you are a Robert Michael Pyle fan or a Bigfoot fan or a Giants in the Trees fan… take note!  At long last the trailer for “The Dark Divide” is out and available for viewing on YouTube and FaceBook.  The movie comes to the big screen on September 18th and will be showing the 18th-20th at the Columbian in Astoria.  Woot!  Woot!

The film is based on Bob’s 1995 book, Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide.  It stars David Cross as Bob and Debra Messing as Bob’s late wife, Thea.  Although I’ve watched the trailer a half dozen times now, I’m still having trouble acceptinng Mr. Cross as Bob — not his looks or voice or mannerisms…

The Book – First Edition

But a trailer is not a good way to judge; I’m hoping my willing suspension of disbelief kicks in when I see the full movie.  Bob mentioned in his email announcement that Debra Messing is “a truly remarkable Thea” and I so hope he’s right.  Like Bob, the real Thea was so special and distinctive, it’s hard to imagine anyone capturing her on the silver screen — even Debra Messing.

The cinematography looks to be amazing — most of it centered in  Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest, from Mount Rainer to the Columbia Gorge,  — and that, of course, is probably the important part if it’s to be at all reflective of the original book.   The screenplay was written by Bob and director Tom Putnam so, presumably, Bob is fine with whatever deviations there are from the book.  (I’m never quite sure what “based on” means.  Sometimes any vestige of the “original” is lost on me.)   After I’ve seen it, I hope I get a chance to talk to him about it.  I’m also eager to see (or, more to the point, hear) how much of the musical score is provided by Giants in The Trees.

Robert Michael Pyle

What a treat for all of us local fans!  I can hardly wait.  Meanwhile, I think I’ll re-read the book.  If memory serves, we bought our copy from the author, himself, when he did a signing at our book store, The Bookvendor, back in the day.  Wow!  So long ago, now.  And now we can say, “We knew him when…”  Actually, we’ve been saying that about Bob for years!

Huckleberries! A Labor of Love!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

Nyel’s Secret

Nyel “disappeared” for a couple of hours the other day.  I thought he was down communing with the chickens and, as it turned out, that was part of it.  But, mostly, he was picking huckleberries — the little blue kind.  They are his favorite.

It took about two-and-a-half hours for him to halfway fill a large yogurt container.   “Between their size and my arthritic fingers…” he said.  It is definitely a measure of how much he favors huckleberries!  I, for one, have neither the interest nor the patience.

2-1/2 Hours Steady Picking

Nyel, on the other hand, has been watching and encouraging this little bush (if you can encourage a bush) since it first volunteered itself down near the chicken coop.  Year before last he got a few berries — just enough to whet his appetite.  Last year, however, he was “otherwise occupied” recovering from St. Vincent’s Hell and I doubt that those huckleberries even crossed his mind.  So, by this year, the bush and he were both ready!

Ready for the Freezer

He’s picked two “batches” so far.  Both have gone immediately into the freezer and he tells me there will be more.  Meanwhile, there would be an even greater number if he could stand up long enough to pick them or (heaven forbid!) if I would pick at least some of the ones he can’t reach from his wheelchair.  I’m thinking about it… Maybe if he had a plan for those little morsels I’d be more willing.  But, so far, he’s just waiting patiently to see how many he can accumulate.

I don’t know if he can train the chickens to help him.  That could be easier than counting on me.

An Unsettling Wind

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

The Black-eyed Susans have usurped the Shasta Daisies.

The wind blew all night.  Not a howling wind.  Not even a creaking wind…mostly.  But it was steady and forced itself under the doors and through the cracks and crannies of this old house.

I don’t like the wind.  Neither does the garden.  It whips and buffets and scours everything in its path and makes me feel uneasy.  I hesitate to see the condition of the dahlias and the lilies and anything else on slender stalks.  And I’m glad I took a few pictures the other day.  Before destruction.

Pooh’s “mastershallums” are everywhere!

Too, I worry that there are dimwits around who don’t think about fire safety.  Would anyone be so stupid as to have a bonfire  on the beach last night?  Or even in their backyard?  It’s so dry.  It wouldn’t take much for a real disaster.  And, as long as I’m worrying, I wonder about how much blow-down there will be  and whether or not power will be interrupted.  Nyel, of course, says I worry too much.

Our hanging baskets are heavy with fuschias in bloom.

Probably just to prove him right, I also worry about the chickens.  In the big wind storm of 1921 or ’22, chickens that lived in Ilwaco were blown clear to Seaview!  I’ve always wondered how folks sorted all that out.  That was back in the days when almost everyone had chickens and I doubt that there were many “designer” varieties among them.  Hard to tell your Rhode Island Red from the next one.  I also doubt that those chickens were understanding a lot of English — not like chickens of today who, as I’ve reported recently, have demonstrated their understand of “egg” and “jail.”  And who know their names.

For sure, I’ll be glad when the wind dies down.  For dang sure!

Plums! Plums! Plums! — Plum Delicious!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020


Last year we didn’t get any plums.  I think we were otherwise occupied with Nyel’s recovery from his hip removal.  (Yes… not replacement.  Removal.)  So the plums went to the birds, or perhaps to bright-eyed visitors as they walked by.  At least we hope so.  The whole picking season went by without a thought from us.

This year, though, Nyel had been out on an “orchard” inspection (if one apple tree, one pear tree and one plum tree constitute an orchard) in his wheelchair and saw that those plums were ready.  “The first good crop since we planted the tree,” he said.  That was about ten years ago.  Actually, they are Italian prunes, not really plums, and they are probably my all-time favorite fruit.

Amelia and Tucker at Work

So Nyel called Tucker and, before you could repeat the title of Judy Eron’s song, “I Picked His Plum Tree Bare,” he and his granddaughter Amelia had done just that.  They gave us half (maybe more!) — certainly enough to eat and eat and eat.

Nyel is looking up recipes, too.  He found one for plum cake which sounds really good.  And also for plum tarts, plum cobbler, and plum turnovers.  What’s more, he thinks we have enough plums to make each recipe with plenty left over for fresh fruit snacks!  And that’s plum perfect by my way of thinking.  Yes!  Plum Perfect!



September First! It’s a fact!

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Sunrise Over Willapa Bay, September 2012

It’s an absolutely perfect day today in beautiful downtown Oysterville.  By eight o’clock this morning the risidual fog had burned off, a slight breeze was blowing, and only a few tourists had yet arrived in town.  It promises to be a glorious September — the kind  that we often have in this part of the country.

Actually, September and October are usually our best months — not June, which tends to be drizzly and wet; not July or August which can have uncomfortable hot spells.  But, September and October can be glorious.  And if today is any kind of harbinger, this month will be fabulous, indeed.

 Bust of Aaron Burr as Vice-President (1801-1805)

Historically speaking, though, September 1st is a bit of a mixed bag.  It was on this day in 1807 that Vice-President (our 3rd) Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason against the U.S.   He had been accused of trying to create an independent country in the center of North America including the Southwestern U.S. and parts of Mexico. Burr claimed he was just trying to farm 40,000 acres in the Texas Territory that had been leased to him by the Spanish Crown. He had organized an armed militia of about 60 men. Historians still debate Burr’s true intentions.  Since he had killed the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, I tend to think he was probably guilty of the treason.  Of course, I may be a bit biased, because Hamilton was one of my forebears.

It was September 1, 1873 that the first cable car began service on Clay Street in San Francisco.   My grandmother (1876-1954) grew up in San Francisco and then in East Oakland, California.  She used to tell me about riding the “trolley” but it never before occurred to me that she might have included cable cars in that description.

Judy Garland with Terry, 1939

Sadly, it was on September 1, 1945, that American female Cairn Terrier, actor, Terry died.  Terry played Toto  in The Wizard of  Oz (1939). Known for doing her own stunts, she broke a foot when she was accidentally stepped on by a Winkie guard during the the filming. She appeared in 16 films, including as Rags in the Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes (1934). Originally named Terry, she changed her name to Toto after the filming of Wizard of Oz.

I wonder what today will bring to the historic happenings of September 1st.  I hope it’s good news to accompany this beautiful day.


First the chickens… now Cinderella!

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Slutvana at Work in the Nest Box

I know that Nyel thinks I’ve finally gone over the edge, but he’s far too gentlemanly to say so.  And besides, I’ve got him talking to the chickens, too.

It all started because the girls weren’t laying.  When I read that chickens can learn up to 30 words in English (probably other languages, too, if they are in foreign-speaking households) I decided to speak to them about the situation.

I held up a fake egg and said “Egg!  Egg!” over and over again.  Every day.  I also told them that they would remain in “jail” — no free-ranging — until production increased.  And it did!  We began getting one or two eggs a day after an entire  summer of only one or two eggs a month!!  And now Nyel is also saying “Egg!  Egg!” when he visits the coop.  He doesn’t exactly admit to becoming a believer but he says “it can’t hurt.”

Will Cinderella miss the leg?

So… I’ve begun talking to Cinderella, our robot roomba!  I know it’s crazy but…  She somehow programmed herself so that when she leaves her base to begin a cleaning job she ALWAYS runs into the leg of the fainting couch on her way.  Every time.  So, this morning I spoke to her about it in the same no-nonsense tone I use with the chickens.  And voilà!  She missed the leg!  After 50+ cleaning missions this was a first — if only by millimeters!

Nyel isn’t buying it.  Yet.