Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

Sometimes it’s hard to choose…

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

To read?  Or to write?  To have a day — or even better two days in a row — to do one or the other is my idea of heaven, especially if I have the leisure to spend just enjoying myself.  No deadlines.  No necessary research.  No over-riding “reason” to do one or the other.

Today I chose to write.  There will be deadlines involved soon, but I have ten days or so to blather on, delete, explore new avenues, and let my thoughts take me where they will.  Luxury to the max!  So… I spent time on two totally disparate themes.  One was “cops and robbers” and the other was “unexpected public music.”  Both (or neither) may turn into columns for the paper.

I had fun with both of them but one is too long and the other… perhaps too bland.  I’m not sure.  So, I’ve put them both on the back burner for now, am going to treat myself to my favorite all-time pasta dish — Sandy Stonebreaker’s chicken tetrazzini accompanied by sautéed snap peas with a lemon zest garni.  And then… I’ll read a Donna Leon book on my Kindle —  Give Unto Others, the 31st in her Guido Brunetti series that came out last year.  Somehow I missed it.

Dobby, Sydney, Tucker

And one more bit of perfection on this day — Tucker and I went over to  Dobby Wiegardt’s so we could have our pictures taken together!  Tucker took a selfie of the three of us.  Great picture except I look like I’m standing in a hole.  A deep one!  However, I think it will serve its purpose.  I’ll let you be the judge when you see it its proper context in the paper next week!



Friends, Family, Music, and Flowers

Saturday, 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…

Friday, 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!

Thank you, Michael Lemeshko!

Sunday, 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…

Friday, 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…

Thursday, 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!

With apologies to Nyel and all chefs at large!

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Propane Tank, 2020 — Unsightly After 20 Years

Yesterday was a red letter day for me!  I bade a fond farewell to our propane tank and to all its connections to my kitchen range.  But I did send silent apologies to all the wonderful cooks and chefs out there who know better than I about the wonders of cooking on open flames!  I acknowledge your artistry and (to me) your bravery.

Me… not so much, even though I grew up with gas stoves in California without giving them much thought one way or another.  In fact, I think I lived with gas being the only option — both on stovetop and in the oven for my first 42 years.  It was natural gas, piped in from under the streets in every house where I lived.  I never gave it a thought.

But, when I moved full-time to Oysterville and built my own house, I found that I had a choice.  Electric everything, or “gas” which was provided by propane tanks.  I don’t know why that seemed scary to me — perhaps because I’d heard of disasters caused by the combination of leaking gas and a spark.  (But why I’d never focused on that where natural gas was involved — and surely there must have been disasters now and then — I don’t know.)

Time passed.  Nyel entered my life.  Nyel who loved to cook and lamented that we hadn’t the proper cooking facility.  So, when it came time to move to the family house, the first thing we did was to remodel the kitchen and install a duel-fuel stove.  And propane.  I was not a happy camper but, of course, Nyel’s wonderful meals more than compensated — even when we did, indeed, have a gas leak early on! (But no spark.  No explosion.  And no repeat performance.)

In August 2020 Nyel did his magic paint trick — the next best thing to a propane tank disappearing act.

As the years  went by and the tank grew rusty, Nyel painted it white to camouflage it a bit — for my sake.  He talked about building a  latticework screen around it but it was one of those things that we never got around to.  I’m sure he knew full well that eventually I would revert to an all-electric stove if ever he could no longer manage the cooking duties.  I’m so glad that never happened as long as he lived.  And now…  Now I’m sure he would be cheering me on.  He was just that kind of guy!

Shouldn’t we call it R&R Day?

Monday, September 4th, 2023

What to do on Labor Day — from Country Living Magazine

I do understand the reason that the first Monday in September is called “Labor Day.” It is our yearly celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday was first proposed when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

But, what it has become, of course, is a “day off” — a sort of extension of summer.  One more day before school starts most years and then the work year begins anew.  Except, of course, if you work in the tourist or travel industry or happen to be a nurse or a retail worker or a first responder or…  But, I guess the point could be argued that some work does not count as “labor.”

Another Labor Day Option?

In my own case as an elementary school teacher, the holiday just came at an awkward time in the school year — within days of the opening  school some years or, in some cases it was the day before school started.  It was always just at that time when we “grade school teachers” were scurrying to get our classrooms ready for the next 25 or 30 (or when I began in 1961, 32). youngsters.

There were desks to arrange, bulletin boards to create, new curriculum materials to become familiar with, class lists to look over, the school nurse and (if you were lucky) counselor to meet with, lesson plans to prepare, worksheets to create… and on and on.  Of course that was in “the olden days” but nothing much changed during the 29 years I spent in the classroom — except, perhaps, the addition of paraprofessionals who sometimes made the work load easier… but not on Labor Day.

One Last Summer Picnic

And so… I thought the “Labor Day” moniker was apt and actually was thankful for one more day to get ready for the new school year.  But, now that I am retired and don’t usually have to scurry on this holiday, I really would like call this “R & R” Day — and find a way for all workers to have the luxury of one paid day with no work responsibilities at all.  (Yes, I have been told I live in a Fantasy World!  Hear!  Hear!)

It’s A Grand Day for Cloning!

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

St. Helen’s Hall, Portland OR

Being in two places — or maybe three or thirty — at once has been a life-long fantasy of mine.  I’ve always had the unreasonable desire to “do it all” but, as much as I’ve tried, I’ve not been very successful at it.  My earliest memories of that unrealistic yearning go back to my pre-Kindergarten days at St. Helen’s Hall in Portland,

My good friend, Nancy Cannon, was a bit younger than I and perhaps a bit more timid.  When St. Helen’s Hall proved a “good fit” for me, Nancy’s mother enrolled her as well, not realizing that she would be in a different class.  I still remember sitting on the floor in the back of my classroom by the huge windowless French doors talking to Nancy on the other side — trying in my best five-year-old tones to reassure her that it would “be all right.”

Nancy Cannon Goodell (1970s ?)

How I wanted to give her a hug and how torn I was when my own teacher led me back to my place at the little table where bright-colored crayons and a coloring book awaited me.  “If only,” I remember thinking, “I could be in my classroom and Nancy’s at the same time!”  That was almost eighty years ago and I can still remember how stubbornly I hung onto the idea that I SHOULD be able to be both places at once.

Today, as on every Labor Day Sunday of the past 45 years, I am thinking yet again of how to be in two places at once — at Vespers in Oysterville or at the Annual Williams Family Reunion in Chinook.  If I didn’t have “responsibilities” at the former and I were less cautious about my old-age driving abilities, I could probably spend an hour at the Chinook gathering and make it back in time for most of Vespers.  But alas!  It is not to be.

Zooming — the next best thing to cloning?

Maybe cloning wouldn’t be possible, anyway.  Would I have to be young and physically fit?  Could I choose my destinations and arrival/departure times precisely?  And, does making “the best possible choice” in such matters really develop our character as my parents tried to gently infer as I was growing up?  There is one small consolation, though — tonight is Zoom Night with Charlie and Marta.  It’s about at close to cloning as we are likely to get in my lifetime.  Certainly better that talking through a crack between those big old French doors!

“Sing me a song…”

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023

Marais and Miranda

I was so pleased that my friend Mary followed my blog suggestion yesterday and looked up Josef Marais’ song, “Pity the Poor Patat.”  She made no comment about it, but I was happy to know that someone “out there” had connected, perhaps for a first time, with Joseph Pesssach (1905-1978), a folk-singer from South Africa whose stage name was Joseph Marais.  For many years he sang with a partner and they were known as “Marais and Miranda” — and if you don’t remember them, you may be old enough to recall the Doris Day/Frankie Laine rendition of their song “A-round the Corner (beneath the berry tree}.”

I first learned of Marais and his music from my college roommate Sandra Peters (who, some years later, was to become my sister-in-law, making our children first cousins.)  Sandy came from a musical family, but more importantly to me, a rather quirky one.  Not only did she and her sister share an attic room with a pet bat (!), her dad played the musical saw and Sandy knew more off-the-grid folksongs than I’d ever heard of.

Sydney and Nyel – Wedding Picture 1987

However, it wasn’t until I met Nyel that all those songs (and more) came bubbling forth — perhaps because he said he didn’t sing (and, indeed, I never heard him do so — not even when standing beside me at church during the hymn-singing) — but he always asked me to sing!!  Me!  The one who can’t carry a tune in a bucket but remembers all the words — especially the kookie ones.

Mostly, his requests for “musical entertainment” came when we were on car trips.  Since I have always been pretty much night-blind, he would drive after dark and it was my “job” to keep him awake.  He didn’t seem to mind my tenuous tune-carrying and he enjoyed the lyrics — which often led to discussions about where I’d learned them, from whom, and about the years before we had met.  (It’s hard for me to believe that even as late-in-life as we did meet, by the time Nyel died, we had spent nearly half of our lifetimes together!)

Sydney and Nyel — Oysterville Sesquicentennial, 2004

It both amuses and pleases me that music was such a huge part of our lives, though both of us professed to a severe “lack” in that area of accomplishment.   But… I did follow my mother’s advice to “Make a joyful noise” and, somehow, ended up with the perfect appreciative partner!  And… back to yesterday’s potato patch discovery:  you can never tell what will trigger a song and a whole host of fabulous memories.  They don’t say “music makes the world go ’round” for nothing.