Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

About My Big Girl Panties…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

I don’t think they fit quite yet.  Either that or the elastic broke.  I keep pulling them up and pulling them up and I still can’t quite pass for a grown-up.

But then, I look around a bit and wonder if that exalted state of “adulthood” is all it’s cracked up to be.  I’m not seeing many great examples, anyway.  Not in our political  leadership.  Not among many of the educators or parents or those we should be looking to as examples.  Certainly not a plethora.

The definition Merriam-Webster gives for “adult” is:  “fully developed and mature : GROWN UP” which doesn’t help all that much.  Like Santa Claus, “adult”seems to be an idea held up to kids in the hope that their childhood visions of sugarplums (or in this case, of a better world) will somehow come to fruition.

Well, I still believe in Santa Claus.  And I probably still believe that somewhere there are adults who not only make the rules but obey them.  I’m just not sure there are enough of them (adults, not rules)  anymore to make an impact.  Or maybe we’ve finally run out of elastic, plain and simple.

On being as brave as the daffodils…

Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

They’re a hearty bunch, those daffodils.  Never mind that the weather has kept most of us two-legged folks indoors if given a choice.  Those stalwart harbingers of Spring are right on time, poking up through the soggy soil and winter blow-down everywhere I look! And not even bundled up in winter togs.

The camellias, though… not so much.  We have two camellia bushes — one in her thirties and one in her sixties.  The elder of the two began blooming in December last year; the other one, a month or so later.  December was way early, so I didn’t expect a repeat performance this year.

Evidence of a Visit by the Deer People

But, even though plentiful,  the camellia buds are still small and tight.  Traditionally, my mother gave me a bouquet of “the first camellia blossoms of the year” on my birthday, February 28th, and I “measure” our progress toward Spring by those memories.  This year, I’d say we have quite some time to wait.

But, in my walk-about yesterday, I noticed that the Deer People haven’t been waiting.  When those lovely camellia blossoms do decide to burst forth, they will be surrounded by raggedy-taggedy leaves.  Those pesky deer have made certain of that.  And as for the York Roses which have been stripped bare of any visible life… I’m counting on their usual hardiness to bring them back by summer.

York Roses? We can but hope.

I guess I should have been more diligent with the applications of “Deer Fence” but, somehow, the weather outside plus the coziness inside equalled inertia for Sydney-the-Recalcitrant-Gardener. I console myself that the Deer People had some tasty treats.   And I’m ever-hopeful that those daffodils will inspire me to get outside and do a little bit of Spring Welcome for the other garden denizens — the stationary ones, not the four-legged visitors. (Or the slithery ones, either, for that matter!)


The Mystery Pot and… Other Gifts Of Unknown Origin

Monday, February 6th, 2023

Mystery Box and Contents

The package was left on my porch table one evening last week by UPS — a neat Amazon Prime carton addressed to me.  I hadn’t ordered anything, at least not lately, but my memory is sometimes a bit wonky these days, so what the heck!

Inside I found another box — this one containing a Hamilton Beach Glass Kettle!  It was nothing I had ordered and, look though I might, I found no indication as to who had sent this to me.  I re-packaged it and put it in the back-forty, waiting for enlightenment.  Somehow, it didn’t feel quite right to accept a gift from an unknown benefactor.  And, basically, I felt there had been a mistake.

And speaking of “unknown benefactors” — I seem to have acquired more than one.  I love the thought and the intent (I think) but I do draw the line at food offerings.  Every once in a while I come home to a neatly packaged item — usually a “sweet” — waiting for me by the front door.  No name.  No indicators of who left it.

Last week it was a delicious looking brownie and another chocolaty confection.  They were sitting on a lovely flowered paper plate and neatly wrapped in a clear plastic food wrap.  After checking all my message sources (and aren’t there a lot of them these days?  FB and Email and telephone messages…) and finding nothing about food delivery, I pitched it unopened into the garbage.  Sorry, whoever-you-are, but my mother’s words came back loud and clear:  “Never accept food from strangers.”  And without an ID on the gift, I felt a tad uncomfortable.

So far, I haven’t had a clue as to my brownie philanthropist.  But yesterday I did receive a call from friends Randal and Susan in Olympia to see if the glass kettle had arrived.  “Oh!!  I wondered who sent it,” I said.

“Didn’t they include a note?  I tried to be very clear about that because I knew it might be a problem…” Randal told me.  “Yep.  I came ‘that close’ to sending it back…” and in the ensuing discussion, he convinced me to give it a try.  So I am doing so, but I’m still weighing pros and cons. Bottom line, I guess I’m a bit set in my ways and probably independent-to-a-fault!   I’m working on it…

The Balancing Act

Saturday, February 4th, 2023

Downtown Long Beach

Last evening during our Friday Night Gathering, Jean Nitzel mentioned that she had tried (years ago) to interest the City Fathers of Long Beach in converting the main street to a Pedestrians Only Zone — just from Bolstad Avenue to Sid Snyder Drive and just in the summer.  It didn’t get anywhere back then — a gazillion excuses were given beginning with “that stretch is part of the State Highway System…”  But they didn’t even try, Jean said.

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

And, I must say, there wasn’t much discussion about it last night, either.  I’m not sure why.  I thought it was a great idea, myself, and was reminded of the many streets in Europe that are “pedestrians only” — Rue Montorgueil in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Carnaby Street in London, Strøget in Copenhagen — and many others throughout the world — even in Seattle.  I was saddened that the city of Long Beach wouldn’t even give the idea the time of day.

There are also streets called woonerfs — a street or square where cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and other local residents travel together without traditional safety infrastructure to guide them.  Also, sometimes called a “shared street,” a woonerf is generally free of traffic lights, stop signs, curbs, painted lines, and the “usual” guides to travel behavior.  The idea behind them is to reduce accidents and, amazingly, the statistics prove that this has happened.

While I can’t quite image the main drag in Long Beach becoming a woonerf, I must say that on many days in the summer, Territory Road in Oysterville comes close.  And my observation is that everyone is more observant and courteous and many of our visitors really take time to enjoy the village — a pleasant change from the usual speed-through at 40 mph!


So, here we are in the year of the rabbit…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023


In the years that I lived in the Bay Area — from 1941 when I was five until 1978 when I moved to Oysterville — Chinese New Year was always an important occasion.  In the early years, we would sometimes go into San Francisco’s Chinatown for the big New Year’s parade but later — when we had television — we could watch the highlights without the hassle of the crowds.  Still… it was a Big Deal.

Now… not so much, though if I remember (which is seldom), I call my friends, the Quans’ in Fresno and wish them Good Luck in the New Year.  This year, of course, the Monterey Park mass shooting on the eve of the Lunar New Year erased our thoughts of celebration entirely.  What a world we live in, these days!  Scary doesn’t half describe it.  (And if you haven’t yet read Cate Gable’s column, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”  in yesterday’s Chinook Observer, I suggest that you do so.  You can find it online by Googling:  Am I My Brother’s Keeper Chinook Observer.)

So, I’ve just gotten ’round to finding out a little more about this Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rabbit.  In the Chinese tradition, the Rabbit is the fourth of all zodiac animals. According to the online site,
Legend has it the Rabbit was proud—arrogant even — of its speed. He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was. One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. Rabbit set off at daybreak. But when he got there, no other animals were in sight. Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived. One of them was the Ox he had always looked down upon.
The story is so reminiscent of Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare that I can’t help but wonder how they might be connected.

In any case, in Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon. Some say it is because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.  To outsiders, the Rabbit’s kindness may make them seem soft and weak. In truth, the Rabbit’s quiet personality hides their confidence and strength. They are steadily moving towards their goal, no matter what negativity the others give them.  With their good reasoning skills and attention to detail, they make great scholars. They are socializers with an attractive aura. However, they find it hard to open up to others and often turn to escapism.  A plain and routine life is not their style. Though conservative and careful in their actions, they need surprises every so often to spice things up.

In general (depending upon date ranges) those born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011 were born in the Year of the Rabbit.

Silly Cinderella!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

Cinderella’s Home Base — The White Light Means She’s Ready For Work

I sent Cinderella into the library and the living room to tidy up a bit this morning.  I heard her leave her station. (She gives a three-bell “Here I go!” sort of salute when she leaves home base.)  And I heard her start to work on the library carpet.

I was busy in the kitchen but, after a bit, I was aware of an ominous silence.  I went to take a look.  No Cinderella in the library.  No Cinderella in the living room.  And no Cinderella anywhere that I could see.  When I found myself calling to her as in, “Cinderella!  Where are you?  Stop hiding and come out where I can see you.”  Well… I realized that this particular hide-and-seek player wouldn’t respond to “Olly Olly Oxen Free!”

Under The Fainting Couch – WAY Under!

I grabbed a flashlight, got down on my hands and knees (or belly in the case of the lowest furniture) and went on a search.  Sure enough.  There she was under the fainting couch in the bedroom — way under.  I couldn’t reach her so I had to move the couch.

I’m not at all sure why she was there in the first place.  I think she must have been on her way home to re-charge her battery and ran out of poop entirely.  But why she went under the fainting couch is a total mystery.  Did she think it was a short cut?

Cinderella Vacuuming The Living Room…Again!

Well, forty-five minutes of re-charging and she has begun again.  In the living room.  (I don’t think she can remember that she’s already done most of that room.)  Or maybe it’s all part and parcel of her new game.

It’s hard to tell with robots.

I’m counting on birthday luck!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

When Nyel and I signed up for Starlink and said “bye-bye” to CenturyLink, we truly thought that there would be smooth internet sailing… at least for a while.  Well, there was.  If you count four months as “a while.”

And then, Elon Musk moved (or took down or who knows) one of his satellites — maybe something to do with the Defense Department or with astronomers or something dire.  It was the satellite that effects starlink dishes that are facing north.  Like ours.

Now, the best way to face is west, apparently.  All very well and good unless your two-story house is to the  west.  As in the dish’s face.  So now, when I try to zoom with my loved ones, I get a message on my computer screen that my “internet service will be disrupted every 43 seconds.”  We are back to conference calls on our cell phones for the time being.  Moving the dish will require finding a spot, someone to re-mount it, an electrician and who knows what all.  And, besides, I have learned that Mr. Musk is not to be trusted.

So, today I called Pacific County Public Works Department to find out anything I could about the cable that “someone” has been busy laying along the right-of-way on Territory Road in Oysterville and beyond.  “Charter Communications” the helpful voice on the end of the  line said, and gave me their phone number.


I’m not just sure who I talked to when I called that number but whoever it was said there would soon be “some marketing” and as of February 28th, homeowners would be able to sign up for their service.  February 28th!!!  That’s my birthday!  I can’t think of a better present.

“Three Pines” – Two Thumbs Down

Monday, January 30th, 2023

Alfred Molina as Armand Gamache in “Three Pines” series

FINALLY!  I watched “White Out,” the first two episodes of the “Three Pines” series.  I doubt that I will watch any more.  I was really disappointed — mostly that Louise Penny had endorsed it so heartily.  (But then her last book was a bit of a departure, too.  Maybe she is through with Inspector Gamache et al.)

Mostly — I disliked the characters in the TV episodes — there wasn’t a single one who appeared as I had envisioned.  Not even Rosa, the duck!  (Too big.)  Who was that svelte, neat Clara, for instance?  Surely not the distracted artist with bits of food or paint in her hair and wearing an old raggedy sweater or paint-daubed flannel shirt!  And Myrna?  Wrong size entirely!  Not the woman who sinks clear to the floor on Clara’s old, sprung couch cushions because of her immensity?
And I can’t even begin to talk about Jean Guy, Armand, and Reine Marie — where was the chemistry between them — the years of family relationships honed by threats of unimaginable magnitude?  They seemed distant, polite, but not at all as Penny wrote them.  Maybe Peter, Clara’s husband, was close to her depiction, but we never really got to know him anyway…

Only In The Drawing — Not In “White Out”

But worst of all — the village!  Three Pines!  Where the hell was it?  In fact, where were the three pines which are supposed to be standing sentinel in the village common?  Where was the peacefulness?  The friendliness?  The relationships between the residents?  And why was this village, always depicted as nestled around the central commons — why was the village so sprawling and non-cohesive?  As a matter of fact, why was the Bistro so loud — Penny pictured it as cozy, friendly, a good place to talk and renew oneself, often busy but never 21st century LOUD!  I wonder if the director or script-writers or any of the cast had even read the books.

I guess there was a reason I put off watching this for so long.  (I needed to gather my strength!)  As I’ve often said, there is only one film adaptation of a book that I felt really depicted what I “saw” as I read it.  That was “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  The movie was exactly what I had seen in my head — Harper Lee’s words in 3-D!.  In all other instances, I’ve been disappointed but never as much as in this TV depiction of “Three Pines.”

Sydney at “Three Pines” – 2016  (Better than no pines at all!)

Perhaps, partly, it’s because of the trip five of us took some years back to the Eastern Townships where we explored the places Penny had used as inspiration for her books. Any one of the villages that we visited could have been a better backdrop for Three Pines.

In fact, I wish I had another thumb.

They’re looking for a “situation.”

Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Hal and Diane

My friends Hal and Diane Buttrell are looking for a “situation.”  Not a situation in the sense of “a state of affairs”  And not a situation in the sense of  a “condition.”  More of a “situation” in terms of a place to live.  The place that they have been staying for some months is about to be sold and they need a “situation” — perhaps a house-sitting situation, or perhaps a rental if that “situation” is right.  Meanwhile, they have a piece of undeveloped property for sale and…

It reminds me of something my grandmother wrote in a letter to her son Willard during the Great Depression.  In those years following ‘the Crash of ‘29’ there weren’t many bright spots in Oysterville.  And there certainly wasn’t any money.  As my grandmother Helen Espy wrote to her son Willard:  We are far from in need, but are not exactly enjoying ourselves… We are doing a lot of old time bartering these days and it works fine.  We have traded oysters for apples, cabbages, rutabagas etc. and now have exchanged some old lumber for potatoes.

I don’t know if it’s harder to find a house to live in than it is to find food for the table, but it sounds a lot more difficult to me.  Especially right now with the tight housing market.  Diane is always hopeful and Hal (often a man of few words) is always supportive of her efforts..

Oysterville Science Academy Students in Lab Coats

Even with the spectre of “homelessness” hanging overhead, they  have been busy (and, so far, successful) in trying to revive the Methodist Church in Ocean Park.  And Diane continues to breathe life into the Oysterville Science Academy — a project that she began in 2015 with  only her enthusiasm and a dream for a better learning experience for kids.  Now the Academy has a Board of Directors (“a working Board,” Diane emphasizes), involves the Ocean Beach School District, and is poised to begin a new phase next summer for Academy graduates.

Hal, who suffers from Congestive Heart Failure (and sometimes sports a portable oxygen tank) still keeps an eye on their property, discouraging the gorse and other noxious weeds that might want to settle in if unchallenged and hoping that just the right buyers will come along to share his enthusiasm for the location and its possibilities.

Meanwhile,  between now and April, they are hopeful that someone “out there” will have need of two energetic, responsible adults to match up to a house that needs their particular brand of TLC.  Perhaps there’s “a situation” that could be of mutual benefit.   Diane says to contact her at if you have helpful information.

For the first time ever… chicken remorse?

Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Chickens Bonding

It’s not that I miss the chickens.  They were, of course, fun to watch and  wonder about and probably taught me a lot about group behavior, both foul and human.  But in truth… I can’t say I want to renew my chicken vows.  Not the feeding and watering parts.  Not the tending the sick part.  Not in being the arbitrator in their cluck-fights.  No.  I’m happy without the girls.

However, I do miss them just a skosh when the day is galloping by and there’s not a bit of news or gossip to write about for my blog.  Like today.  I’ve been working on the dreaded income tax — sorting piles of papers and trying to make intelligent decisions.  Not blog material by any stretch.

The Louisa Morrison, Oyster Schooner

I wonder what my forebears thought when they confronted the first income tax.  It was a one-time tax, levied by Congress in 1861 to help pay for the Civil War.  At first,  a flat 3-percent tax was placed on all incomes over $800 and was later modified to include a graduated tax. Congress repealed the income tax in 1872, but the concept did not disappear.

In 1861, my great-grandfather Robert already had both feet planted firmly in the oyster business of Shoalwater Bay.  He and Isaac Clark had established Oysterville seven years previously and since 1855, the boomtown had been the Pacific County Seat.  I assume they were up-and-coming enough to be visited by the tax collector.  And, at the rate that the oyster schooners were taking their cargoes to San Francisco, I’m thinking that this was lucrative territory for the tax boys.

Which to toss? Which to keep?

Even though that first income tax was for a short time, the idea never went away.  Finally, on July 2, 1909, Congress passed the 16th amendment establishing its right to impose a Federal income tax.  The amendment was  ratified February 3, 1913, and the rest, I say, has been one big headache.  Not that I object to the concept.  I do think we need to pony up our fair share.  But does it have to be this hard to figure out?  And will the “haves” continue to get a free ride for as long as the rest of us live?

I have to admit… chicken blogs were more interesting. But then… almost anything would be.