Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

Lest you have doubts…

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

Driving across the frozen Columbia River – January 25, 1930

I’m not sure who brought it up last night, but suddenly the focus was on ice and snow and if there had ever been much freezing weather in our neck of the woods.   And was it true that the Columbia had frozen completely over back in the twenties or thirties.  And questions about other snow stories that I thought were common knowledge.

I was so glad there were a number of people among us who had been on (or associated with) the Peninsula for five or six decades and more.  And,  I was a bit amazed that those who really didn’t know “for sure” hadn’t at least read about some of our cold weather episodes.  (Or maybe, I was just disappointed that they hadn’t read what I’ve written along those lines.)  Maybe it’s time to tell some of those tales again.

Charles Fitzpatrick photographed the Troyer Fox on frozen Willapa Bay near Nahcotta, January 19, 1930 — CPHM

Like this story from my book Oysterville, Arcadia Publishing ©2007: “On the night of January 1, 1875, the weather turned sharply cold, and the thermometer hovered at zero.  When morning dawned, parts of the bay were sheets of solid ice, with the oysters embedded within it.  As the tide moved in and then out, the oyster-laden ice simply floated out to sea, totally wiping out many beds.  The freezing weather continued for eight long days and nights.”

Dennis Driscoll’s Snowman in Oysterville – February 2014

Or from Dear Medora, WSU Press, ©2007:
Monday, January 11, 1908
Mama, I wish you could see me.  My cheeks are as red as my sweater.  Skating yesterday, snowballing and sliding today.  It has snowed all day long exsepting [sic] a little this evening. The weather here gets worse and worse all the time.  Papa says it will soon be too cold to snow.

I’m not sure if the conversation last night began with commentary about climate change.  But, if there’s doubt in anyone’s mind about long-ago (or  even short-ago) weather events here at the beach, I recommend a little reading about local history.  And just as important — write up some of your own “weather reports” — for the Friday Night Gatherings of posterity.



“Your input is not valid.”

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

I’m not much on conspiracy theories.  Nor am I overly concerned about “privacy issues” or “transparency” or “truth in advertising.”  I’m pretty much a child of the forties and fifties — just enough skepticism about the world to take seriously “buyer beware” and to avoid speaking with strangers and other good advice.

So, when Nyel and I were speaking with Marta and Charlie the other night on a conference call, I was amazed to have our conversation interrupted (while I was speaking) by a voice that said, “Your input is not valid.”  What the hell????  Nyel and I were both on our landline — I using the handset in my office and Nyel using the handset from the Mother Phone near his desk.  He heard the voice, as did I.  Marta and Charlie did not.

When we explained what he had heard Marta said,  “That happened to me once, too.  Remember?” None of us did;  Marta was the only one who heard it and, although she remarked about it, the episode hadn’t really registered.  Now it has.

So… who is monitoring our calls?  And what does “not valid” mean exactly?  I wish I could remember what the subject matter was.  It was one of those free-ranging conversations — progress on some work Charlie’s having done on his house; East Indian and African cookery that Marta’s friend Jim is into; our gradual re-entry into the social world now that we and many of our friends are totally vaccinated etc.

I asked Nyel just now if he remembered where we were in the conversation.  He said, “I hate to tell you… but I think that message was my fault.  I think I inadvertently pushed a button on the phone and that was the response.”

Oh boy howdy!  I hope so!



They’re Harbingering All Over The Place!

Sunday, March 14th, 2021


The daffy-down-dillies are out in all their glory — even on my dining room table.  There is nothing so fresh, so cheerful, and so just plain hopeful as a bunch of daffodils during these final dreary winter days.

I thought about that this morning when it was the “usual” time for coffee but way too early and dark.  Daylight Savings has arrived!  As I looked at my cheerful bouquet I was thankful that I had raided our daffodil patch and that they were there to greet me on this dark and  drippy day.

Camellias – The Last Bouquet of Winter

It promises to be a stellar week.  Beginning today with a the time change, marching through St. Patrick’s Day midweek and ending with the official beginning of Spring on Saturday, the days will no doubt speed by all too rapidly.  I hope to find time to savor every one of them.  I think it’s my favorite time of year!

Entertainment Value: Priceless!

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

Cinderella at Homebase

Last night we hosted our first Friday Night Gathering in more than a year — a rather truncated version, to be sure, but absolutely fabulous in all respects.  Only four of our two-dozen (or so) regulars met the “fully” part of the CDC vaccination guidelines for small groups being able to get together inside and unmasked.  Six counting us.

As it turned out, two of our guests didn’t show up and then, an hour in, called to apologize for forgetting.  Wow!  Nearly normal for sure!  “Come on over!” we said.  “No problem!”

Meanwhile, the first four of us began catching up with the guzz’n’gossip when, suddenly, we were interrupted by the arrival of Cinderella.   Perhaps you read a few weeks ago that she has had a stroke (or the robot equivalent thereof) and she and her Fairy Godmother/Mothership can no longer communicate with one another.  This means that she (usually) doesn’t follow commands from our cell phone, nor does she know exactly where she is if we pick her up and carry her somewhere in an attempt to override the Fairy Godmother’s silence.  But the good news is that she is still under warranty and will be replaced.  Soon.  Roombas are apparently back-ordered right now — two to four weeks.

Meanwhile we have discovered that I can carry her to a room, push her start button and she will proceed to vacuum that room, the next room, and sometimes the next… until she runs out of battery.  Then she stops where she is and waits to be placed back on her docking pad where she recharges.  Sometimes, after she’s fully charged again, she stays put until I get her for the next job.  Sometimes — like last night — she seems to be on automatic pilot and she returns to where she thinks she left off.

Cinderella at Work

Last night we were about a half-a-drink into the evening and here she came!  Our guests were enchanted (so to speak)!  “I want one!” said the distaff side.  “Our kitties would love it!” said her husband.  “They could ride around on her  — their own personal KittyCar!”

Cinderella “worked the room” for thirty or forty minutes much to the amusement of our guests.  By then, the library and living room areas were spotless and Nyel was able to send her “home” via his cell phone.  We aren’t sure why we can communicate with her sometimes but not consistently.  What we are sure of is that she is the best show in town — but only when she decides to be.

Road Trip To Longview

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Subaru Forester

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  We’d been putting off the Subaru airbag recall for more than a year and now that we are “fully vaccinated” why not get on the road, we thought.  And since we have to go all the way back to the dreaded Bud Cleary dealership, why not have a few other things taken care of at the same time, we thought.  Like replace the sideview mirror that I whacked on the garage doorframe, and have the car serviced, too, we thought.

Nyel called.  He made the appointment and explained what we wanted done.  Yesterday was the day.  “Be there at 11,” they said.  “We’ll have you out of here by three.”  The morning dawned sunny with bright blue skies.  We packed a lunch, left at 8:30, looking forward to our first road trip beyond Astoria in well over a year.

As we headed out on highway 30, I set the cruise control for 55 and we began to enjoy the ride — for about 5 minutes.  The traffic was fairly heavy and almost instantly the cars and trucks began passing us.  “Why?” we wondered.  “Where are the cops?” we wondered.  “Have speed limits finally become suggestions only?” we asked one another.  We continued being the only car following said “suggestion.”

Somewhere around  Svenson or Knappa we saw cars parked on both of the road.  We slowed a bit — enough to see the car that had gone over the side  (WAY over the side) to our right.  Maybe one of the cars who had passed us, we thought.  We didn’t stop.  It wasn’t until we were nearing Westport that an Aide Car came barreling toward us.  “Wasn’t that accident closer to Astoria?” we wondered.

Predictably, Bud Cleary did not have our sideview mirror in stock. (Did I make clear that we hate Bud Cleary’s and only go there under duress??) “But we ordered it when we made this appointment.”  A shrug was our response.  On the other hand, we were out of there before two — in plenty of time to stop at the Safeway in Astoria to pick up  a roasted chicken (rosemary/garlic) for dinner.

Road trips, even mini-ones: totally overrated these days.  And why are there so many cars on the road anyway?  Is the pandemic over already? Oh… that’s right.  Traffic around here never did let up.  Or slow down.  Did it?


And now… let the sheltering recede!

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

October 2020

A year and four days ago — on March 13, 2020 — we went into “Sheltering Mode.”   Since then, we’ve had no social events, neither small nor large, here in our house.  We did, of course, have a few limited gatherings in the garden during the warm months,  masked and socially distanced.  And, like everybody else, we’re pretty sick of the isolation .

November 2020

So our hearts are doing a happy dance now that the new CDC guidelines are out.  We were especially pleased to learn about these points:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart. 
  • A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

We do, of course, lament our very much younger friends and family members who do not yet qualify for the vaccine but (strangely) more folks we know do qualify now than don’t.  And Charlie and Marta just wrote:

  • Fully vaccinated people don’t need masks around low-risk unvaccinated people.

Nyel and Sydney, 2018 and from now forward, we hope

That’s a little loosey-goosey for me — or would be if I were a l not yet fully vaccinated, myself.  I’m just not clear as to who those low riskers are and, unfortunately, I’m not too trusting of people not to cheat. It’s  not that I’m paranoid, exactly, but it took only one person to tell me to my socially distanced and masked face that this was all a “hoax” to ramp up my skeptical side.  Just sayin…

Be that as it may. I am excited to start welcoming old friends back into our home.  It’s been a very long time…



Talking With Dorothy Trondsen Williams

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

Dorothy Trondsen c. 1942

Yesterday, with the Nahcotta Post Office closure still foremost in my mind, I called Dorothy Trondsen Williams who is now living in Seattle.  Dorothy is the “nearest relative” to the suddenly closed Post Office that I know of.  I had some questions for her.

Dorothy’s relationship to the Nahcotta Post Office goes like this:  Her grandfather was J.A. Morehead, stagecoach driver, county commissioner, and owner of Morehead’s General Merchandise est. 1889, the first store in Nahcotta.  By the time Dorothy came along in 1926, Morehead had sold the business to Dorothy’s father and great-uncle and the name had been changed to “Trondsen and Brown.”  Perhaps by then it was even under its final name, Trondsen and Petersen.  Under whichever name, by that time, too, there were two stores — the original one in Nahcotta and a “satellite” store in Ocean Park (where Jack’s Country Store is now.)

The New Sign – 1914

“So, is the building where the Nahcotta Post Office has been all these years the actual Morehead (and, later, Trondsen and Brown) building?” I asked.

“Oh yes!” was Dorothy’s reply.  “Only, when I was growing up the post office was way around in the back of the building.  The front was all general merchandise — everything from jewelry to produce to farm implements.  Everything!  Deane Nelson, Charlie’s wife, was in charge of both the post office and the store.”

My Grandmother’s Teapot

I’m quite sure Deane had been in charge for a number of years — at least since 1918 when my (then) six-year-old mother rode her horse from Oysterville to Nahcotta and Deane helped her choose a blue china teapot for my grandmother’s 40th birthday present.  I count the teapot as one of our family treasures and the story of my mother’s four mile ride to Nahcotta and back as an early sign of the grit and determination that characterized her for her entire life.

“I remember that my father had to get up very early and meet the mail delivery each day,” Dorothy told me.  “He placed it all in the post boxes and had it ready for Deane before the store opened.  Then he went on into Ocean Park to manage the store there.”

Admiral Jack’s Uniform Cover – John G. “Jack” Williams, Jr. (1924-1991) Deputy Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff of the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet– CPHM

We talked of other things for quite a while — caught up with our mutual relatives who are scattered over much of the world.  Dorothy shared with me that she now has ten great-grandchildren with another expected soon.  She still knits for every newborn (and probably beyond!) and I could just see her smile right over the telephone as she talked about her big, ever-growing family.

“Do you know that it’s been 30 years since Jack died?” she said.  Thirty years!!  How fast the years go by.  How glad I am that that she and I are still “connected” and can keep some bits of the history of this area in proper perspective. At least for now.

The Best Reason To Keep On Keepin’ On…

Friday, March 5th, 2021

It was the BEST birthday ever, but most certainly not in terms of what I did or where I went or who I saw.  I simply sat and sheltered and spent the day “as usual.”  And, while I was doing that (and taking a wee nap in the afternoon) my birthday came to me!

It came by email and snail mail, by text and messaging, on Facebook and through landline and cellphone!  I received hundreds (literally!) of birthday greetings from relatives and friends and even from business acquaintances and from people I might have know once but can’t truly remember now.  It was astounding! And humbling!  And I have no idea of what I can do to tell each of you how appreciative I am!

Suffice it to say “Thank You so much for making 85 the best birthday yet!”  Who’duh thunk it?

Where is that damned fairy godmother?

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Yesterday Nyel and I — sometimes separately and sometimes together — spent seven f***ing hours on the telephone trying to solve Cinderella’s broken heart.  First we spoke with her Mother Ship; then with the Mother Ship’s Controller.  That took three hours.  They needed us to find out some information about our modem and its firewalls.  That required several phone calls to CenturyLink who was the supplier of our Modem and our internet service.  Need I say more?  But… just in case you don’t realize… here in the greater downtown rural center of things, CenturyLink is the only show in town landline-wise , and for medical reasons – see below — we need the landline.

Proudly CenturyLink’s robotic voice told us how they are completely automated now but… if we needed to talk to a representative, just say “representative” at any time.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many different responses that got us — including several complete hang-ups,  a robotic question “I understand you want to speak with a representative” followed by several more minutes of automated voice and THEN a hang-up.  ad-nauseum.

When we finally got a live CenturyLink voice and told her our problem, she asked a number of questions about our question — as in what exactly did we need to know about the firewalls (which we had already told her) and why did we need to know etc. etc.  We answered each question to the best of our ability — several times.  Finally, after more due deliberation, she said, “Your modem does not have any firewalls.”  “Then why,” asked my ever-patient husband, “are the Roomba people asking us to find out about them?”  Would you believe… another hang up!

At one point, I was on hold with my faithful cell phone, hearing over and over and yet again over, “Your call is very important to us.”  After forty-four minutes and constant repeats of my call’s importance, they hung up. Apparently the call wasn’t THAT important.

Cinderella Stuck on her Home Base

We would cut our CenturyLink connection in a nano-second but Nyel’s daily CardioMems* report is sent each morning via our landline.  CenturyLink is the only show in town.  And that report, literally, is a lifeline for him.  Need I tell you how very scary it is that said lifeline depends upon CenturyLink?  I wonder if there are T Shirts that say Rural Lives Matter.  Probably not.  And, in case you are wondering, Cinderella’s problem has not yet been fixed.  Actually… not even diagnosed as far as we can tell.  But then, after 24 hours, our internet access is still intermittent so perhaps the Fairy Godmother hasn’t been able to wave her magic wand yet…

*A CardioMEMS device is implanted in Nyel’s pulmonary artery via a short, femoral vein access cath procedure. It measures changes in pulmonary artery pressure, which are a surrogate measure for fluid retention in the lungs due to worsening heart failure conditions.

And it wasn’t even March yet!

Monday, March 1st, 2021

March Sunrise over Willapa Bay

March 1st today.  Beautiful sunrise.  No wind.  Mild temperature outside.  Whatever happened to “coming in like a lion?”  And does this lamb-like weather forewarn of March going out with a roar.  YIKES!  Let’s hope not.

We had about enough roaring in February, by my reckoning.  For a couple of days, I kept the chickens inside their run.  Didn’t want a repeat of the 1922 windstorm when Ilwaco’s chickens ended up in Seaview and everyone had a heck of a time sorting them out once the weather calmed down.

February 2021 Storm Damage

So… our girls stayed safe.  Not so our south fence.  A good part of it blew down — right into the lane.  Nyel was philosophical.  We’ve known for some time that the posts are rotted at ground level and need replacing.  One more job that we have to hire out these days.  Nyel sent a “Help!” text to Our Main Man Eugene who came over within minutes to prop it back up.  A temporary fix “so the girls won’t get out,” he said.

In the next few weeks, he’ll be back to do some honest-to-goodness repairing.  Then there will be the post-painting issue.  And then some pro-active work on the rest of the south side fence — posts AND rails, Nyel says.  It never ends.  Just like that pesky wind.  But… it’s job security for some folks and I guess that’s the best way to look at it.  And maybe the whole month of March will be gentle and lamb-like.  We can but hope.