Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

Eeper Weeper Chimney Sweeper

Friday, March 17th, 2023

From a children’s nursery rhyme site:

Eeper Weeper, chimney sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimney he did shove her.

Eeper Weeper is a morbid old traditional nursery rhyme that has fallen out of use in recent times as its content (a chimney sweeper killing his second wife and hiding her body) is not considered child-friendly anymore. It is questionable why it ever was considered a nursery rhyme worth singing to children.  [Doncha think the “anymore” is the weirdest word in this paragraph?]

I found it when I was looking for rhymes about chimneys — just for fun.  But, as I expected and now know for sure, there aren’t any except for those about sweeps.   Chimney sweeps, or climbing boys as they were often called, was a harsh profession to be in and most likely one that would severely cut your life short. Those employed were often orphans or from impoverished backgrounds, sold into the job by their parents.

How glad I am the chimney sweeps of today have proper tools, protective clothing and all the necessary safety gear to handle a messy job with finesse.  But most of all, how thankful I am to have a nice new chimney (from the roof up) and to know that with proper maintenance, it should last several lifetimes beyond me!

“And what about our other chimney?” I asked as they were finishing up yesterday.  “At least another five years for it,” they agreed.  Oh my!  I do hope so!  Chimneys are nothing to be sneezed at, price-wise!

I do wish I could include a photo of our spiffy new chimney but… if it ain’t one thing it’s another.  For whatever reason (and with cell phone cameras and computer programs, who knows) I cannot get any of my photos from there to here.  Maddening…   So if you’re in the area, look up as you drive by!  It’s impressive!

Would Cinderella and Elli-Q bond?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Back in the days that I was working at a “regular-take-your-lunch-and-get-home-in-time-to-fix-dinner-job” some people called Wednesday the “Hump Day.”  Like if we got past that, it was all downhill toward the weekend.  It always seemed to me that they were wishing their lives away.

Not that I loved every day of every job I ever had.  But… mostly.  And ever since I’ve lived within hollerin’ distance of a weekly paper, publication date has been the day of the week to look forward to.  For many years now it’s been Wednesday, Chinook Observer Day.

Cinderella Vacuuming The Living Room…Again!

Some Wednesdays, like today, I look forward to seeing something I, myself, have written.  Other times (also, like today) I  learn new things that are happening in the community — things I had no idea about, especially now that I’m more homebound than during my working years.

Like bot companions for the elderly, infirm, and homebound.  Great idea!  Even though I already have Cinderella-the-roomba for vacuuming and “some” companionship, she doesn’t do all the wonderful things that Elli-Q promises her human partners.  Like initiating AND keeping track of conversations,  noting health conditions and contacting care specialists and loved ones in emergencies.  Elli-Q will also make small talk!  Wow!

Elli-Q — Ready for those who qualify in Pacific County

Of course you have to qualify to receive Elli-Q.  You only have to be 60, so I have the age thing nailed.  But I don’t know about suffering from loneliness or needing consistent health care monitoring.   And that average of “20 interactions with Elli-Q a day” might hamper my writing a bit.  Which could effectively eliminate one of my reasons for reading the weekly paper.   Hmmm.   I believe I’ll take yet another page from Scarlett’s story and think about that tomorrow.

What a revoltin’ development this is!

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

I spent several hours with the Spectrum “people” on my computer yesterday.  Or they might have been bots.  It’s hard to tell in these “conversations” in “chat rooms” — whatever they are.  My “room” (which is my office) doesn’t morph into anything especially chatty nor does my computer — except for the faint blue tinge as I try to keep a civil tone to my responses.  (My own version of bot-speak.)

My intent was to find out when we here in Oysterville could expect to get hooked up.  After all, they laid the cables in our right-of-way months ago — in fact I think they started here in the village almost a year ago.  But, so far, no one from Spectrum has spoken to us about when we might expect to be offered service.

William Bendix as Chester A. Riley

After several-hours of online gibberish with them yesterday, my own surprising reaction was hearing the voice of William Bendix as-clear-as-clear for the first time in seventy years!  He was the radio actor who played the part of  Chester A Riley, a wing riveter at the fictional Cunningham Aircraft plant in California. His frequent exclamation of indignation—”What a revoltin’ development this is!”—became one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1940s.  And here it was rattling around in my head.

I had called Spectrum’s (supposedly) Long Beach, WA, office.  No live voice.  So I accessed their online number.  No live voice but a pleasant, chatty woman that said oh yes, I could arrange to have Spectrum connect me up.  They are ready and waiting…

A gazillion questions and answers (some I thought rather an invasion of privacy which, of course, I don’t really think we have any more) and they were ready for me to suggest three dates when they could come and get me hooked up.  So I did just that — three days next week.  Then it all got waffely and the session ended.

A few minutes later I received a message from Spectrum:  “Changes have been made to your account…”  Say what?  Now I have an account?  And I have to call a number if I want to find out about the aforementioned changes?  That’s the precise moment when I heard William Bendix’s still familiar voice:  “What a revoltin’ development this is.”

The sun was well over the yardarm here in Oysterville and so I decided that a Bloody Mary might be just the balm for my spirits.  Meanwhile… I told myself I’d think about calling tomorrow…


Built like a brick… chimney!

Monday, March 13th, 2023

West Side of Our House, 1964 showing lower chimney

There are some things I have always just taken for granted, I am somewhat chagrined to report.  One of those is this old house in Oysterville that has been here since 1869.  Though I’m not sure exactly who built it, I suspect it was Charles Beaver who was living in the village then and was beginning his career that culminated in the creation of Seaview.

Ten Years Ago — Ferns Began Growing Out of the Chimneh

He built this house for the Tom Crellin family and it was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1902. As is often the way in this neck of the woods, our family has been in touch with their family over the course of five generations.  Through that long association, we know a great deal about the house and its amenities — some would say its “peculiarities.”  The Crellins brought the plans from the Isle of Man where they had lived for some time — maybe centuries — and both our house and “The Bottle House” a block to the north — were built using that same set of plans. Our house has changed very little over the years; the other house (the John Crellin House) has changed considerably.

Not too long ago, a member of the Washington State Preservation Office, on a visit to Oysterville, asked me when “the  lower part of the house had been added.”  When I responded that it was a part of the original house, he gave me that patronizing look of disbelief that those who are partially informed seem to assume — especially when an uncredentialed person “corrects” their mis-impression.  Oh well.

ChimCare at Our Gate

Suffice it to say that although the lower structure was, indeed, an integral part of the building from 1869 onwards, it served utilitarian purposes for a number of years — a meat-hanging room, a woodshed, a laundry my mother remembered.  Then, in 1910 or 1911, there was a chimney fire in the (then) kitchen and my grandmother saw “an opportunity.”  The burned portion was gutted and became my grandmother’s dream library and, when all was said and done, the one-story part of the house was converted to a living room, dining room and kitchen.  (I refer to that remodel as “when my grandmother moved West.” The kitchen stove and living room fireplace were back to back and shared the same chimney.

Setting Up on the Back Side

Which brings us to today — 110-some years later.  Finally, the chimney has failed — not just the mortar, but the bricks, too, have begun to wick water and crumble. leading to instability and scary falling-down-chimney thoughts.  With all the patch-patch-patching over the years, replacing the chimney was never on my radar at all!  The work begins today!

What is the opposite of patience?

Sunday, March 12th, 2023

This morning I woke up in leisurely fashion to find that it was a half hour later than my usual five ayem internal alarm says “up-and-at-’em!”  I guess I’m only halfway ready for Daylight Savings Time — a concept that, try as I might, I can’t wrap my mind around.

You’d think that I’d be at one with skipping ahead an hour.  As Nyel (who was my polar opposite in that regard) often said, “Patience is not your middle name, Sydney.”  He was oh so right about that.  And so, wouldn’t you think that skipping ahead a whole hour would be perfect for me and all the others of my ilk?  All the others who are the opposite of patient?

(As an aside — I looked up words that mean the opposite of patient.  The first choice, of course, was “impatient” which annoyed me no end.  It’s like saying the opposite of resolute is irresolute or the opposite of beautiful is unbeautiful.  DUH!)

It seems to me that we non-patient types should be pleased that we are an hour closer to whatever or wherever it is that we want to accomplish.  But… no, that’s not the case for me.  I want all the time I can get, thank you very much.  My impatience is with myself — that I never seem to reach my goals soon enough and, my experience is that more time (or less) doesn’t make all that much difference.

So then, perhaps, I’m back to Albert Einstein and his belief that time and space are interconnected.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m deep into Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and am, again, intrigued by the possibility of time travel.

Not that I think setting our clocks ahead or back is a kind of time travel.  Or is it?  However you slice it, I definitely have an hour less between now and mid-day to get ready to wish Barbara Bate a Happy 80th.  So… I’d better get on it!

A Change In The Weather?

Saturday, March 11th, 2023

I once taught with a woman who explained every negative (not the positive, mind you) happening in her classroom with “a change in the weather.”  It didn’t appear to me that there was ever cause for this theory,  In the California’s Bay Area, the weather doesn’t change all that dramatically… or often.  Not usually.  Not in the 1960s.

But, today, I am having a severe attach of “the sleepies” for no reason at all.  I slept well last night, woke feeling rested and with several projects calling to me — projects that I actually wanted to do.  It’s not like I’m sleep deprived or falling into that “need a nap” avoidance behavior.  And besides, it’s not even noon yet.

I even had a good breakfast — at least I thought so.  Two pieces of sourdough toast slathered with butter and chunky Adams peanut butter.  Plus a glass of cranberry juice and a cup of decaf coffee.  I’m surely not calorie-deprived or vitamin-deprived either.

So… I’m reverting sixty-some years and picking up on my neighboring teacher’s blanket excuse — it must be a change in the weather!  I can’t really prove that by looking outside or even at the various thermometers and barometers around the premises.  But… it seems reason enough to me.  Especially reason enough for an early (before lunch nap!)

So whadjathink?

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Did you see this drawing by the late Larry Weathers on Page B-1 of the Observer this week?

Or maybe you don’t get our weekly paper, the Chinook Observer.  If not, you might as well stop reading here, because this is going to be all about yesterday’s issue.  And me.

One of my grandmother’s is rolling over in her grave at that first paragraph.  My beloved Oysterville Granny who believed most firmly that we should keep our light under that proverbial bushel.  My Bostonian Nana, however, thought that if you didn’t toot your own horn, no one else was going to do it for you.  So for this blog, I’m going with Nana.

In case you don’t get our paper (for shame!) or in case you didn’t really have time to read it (REALLY???) I will tell you that my new series began yesterday with a story about F.C. Davis.  Don’t know who he is… or was?  You are missing out on one of the true characters of our local heritage.

That’s what the series is about.  It’s a collection of short stories cobbled together from bits and pieces found hither and yon — that I hope will become my next book.  Tentative title:  “Saints or Sinners?  Characters of Pacific County.”

Oysterville Cemetery Sketches by Marie Oesting — one of many sources for stories about our local history

And, as I hope you come to understand over the weeks ahead, there’s a reason for these stories.  I have long believed that it’s the memories that we gather and that we tell and re-tell that are important in the great scheme of things.  It’s through our memories and the stories — not just the names and dates and battles fought and won — that we pass on our history, generation after generation.

When I was a child, before cell phones and television and even before decent radio reception, conversation was our main form of evening entertainment.  We might be telling the “news” we learned in the neighborhood or the fate of the two chickens who “flew the  coop.”  Or, the old folks might be reminiscing about their own childhoods — those days long ago when there were no roads here on the Peninsula and almost everyone had some kind of a boat.  What was talked about around our old fireplace was my first inkling of “history” — so much more engaging than the history classes of my school years.

Years later, when Nyel and I owned the bookstore in the ’90s, there seemed to be a big push on for grandparents to write down their memories for posterity.  I can’t say we got rich selling those “Memory Books” but I did like the idea.

Papa and Aunt Dora c. 1896 — Storytellers Extraordinaire!

My fondest hope is that readers will enjoy the Saints or Sinners stories that will appear in the Observer and will even be inspired to tell a few of their own.  Better yet, write them down!  A hundred years hence those stories will be the historic record — the words that will convey who we ordinary, everyday folks are.  God forbid that the glaring headlines in the metro news about mass shootings and spy balloons and war ad nauseum will become our only history of record.  Not my history and not yours.

Happy Birthday, Tucker!

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Opa with Granddaughter Danielle, 2012

FaceBook reminded me this morning that it is Chester Wachsmuth’s birthday which I knew already but by one of his other names — Tucker!  I think he has about the most “active” names of anyone I know — or maybe “monikers” would be a better word.  Chester, Chet, Tuck, Tucker, Opa and probably others I’ve forgotten.  He says that as soon as someone calls him by name, he knows what period of his life he first knew them — as a schoolboy, a teenager, a young adult.  He is definitely a man of many names.

Tucker and His Toy Truck, 2016

He is also a man of many interests and talents — he’s a collector (an eclectic collector) of pinballs and maritime memorabilia and old stuff, in general.  He’s a sailor, a songwriter (lyrics only so far), a photogapher, a historian, a community leader, and a devoted husband, father and grandfather — an all around nice guy!

Plus, he is the best neighbor anyone could ask for.  He came at the drop of a hat whenever I called for help in Nyel’s final years and he’s always willing to change a lightbulb up near these 11-foot ceilings.  He’s seen to it that I am safe during power outages and keeps an eye on the house if I’m away.  And on and on.

Tucker and Carol, 2019

Plus he was wise enough fifty-some years ago to set his sights on Carol and she is the perfect “other half” of the Wachsmuth Team!  How much richer my life is for having the two of them as part of it!  I hope they know just a smidgen of the difference they have made to me and to so many of us.

So, Happy Birthday, Tucker!  I can scarcely believe that I was already twelve when you were born and that I spent another forty or fifty years not knowing you!  I’m so glad that situation has been remedied.



In Oysterville, it’s the Year of the R…

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Red House Roof Project

In many places of the world, this is the Year of the Rabbit — specifically the Water Rabbit.  The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture and 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope.

In Oysterville, it appears to be the Year of the Roof.  As we speak, there is a roofing crew at the Red House removing shingles and applying acres of blue tarp.  Large bundles of cedar shingles await their turn at covering the 1872 home of our great-grandfather, R.H. Espy.  I know he’s smiling down and applauding for his Red House Greats — especially for David, Chief of Operations among the RH cousins.

Both the Red House and the Oysterville Church are sporting spiffy new chimneys, too — at least from the roofline up.  The chimney on my lower roof is on the schedule to be repaired next week (God willing an’ the creek don’t rise).  That will be the third old structure in recent months to sport a newer, safer, skyline.

New Chimney – Just like the old!

Meanwhile, all the residents of the National Historic District have been discussing, examining and answering surveys about the use of modern “alternative” materials when building or repairing their homes.  As it has become increasingly difficult to get traditional materials (old growth cedar shingles, for instance) historic sites all over the United States — even Historic Williamsburg — are approving alternative look-alike materials.  The Oysteville Restoration Foundation is hoping to approach the County with a proposal for changing the ordinance that specifies such matters for Oysterville.  Stay tuned.

So, next time you visit the village, I invite you to look up and admire the recent improvements to the health and safety of our old buildings!  Long may they endure!

Spring Is Coming No Matter What! Or is it?

Sunday, March 5th, 2023

Dafodils Coming Up Around The Old Spruce Stump

I don’t know how things are in your garden, but mine seems to be progressing toward Spring no-matter-what!  There are volunteer daffodils growing all around the old Spruce (or was it a Fir?) stump.  Across the way, three valiant crocuses (croci?) have popped up through the thick covering of winter moss.  And, hither and thither are some primroses that the deer have nibbled but not completely obliterated.  Yet.

But… I don’t think the deer people are comfortable going onto wooden porches.  Not even for the most gorgeous primroses in Oysterville!  They are in a large pot and when they were presented to me for my birthday, I was told to put them on the porch table until I am ready to start spraying Deer Fence again.

Crocuses Through the Winter Moss

Well… it has to get warmer than the current 52° (at 12:45 p.m.) for this goosebumped gardener to get out and do anything beyond a quick picture for this Daybook!  In fact, I just looked at a packet of nasturtiums that has been calling out to me — plant when the temperatures reach 65° it said.  Really?

So then I asked Google when that would be.  Here was the answer:  “The warm season lasts for 3.4 months, from June 20 to October 2, with an average daily high temperature above 63°F. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 40°F to 66°F and is rarely below 32°F or above 73°F.”

A Bowlful of Primroses for the Porch Table

Well, maybe since our temperatures fell well below that 32°F mark, we will make up for it in June with some temperatures a bit above 73°F.  Hope springs eternal.  (I actually think that this is what happens most years — I wait and wait and wait and then… I forget all about the pesky nasturtiums! )

Where is Piglet when I need him?  And “Oh, Bother!” said Pooh!