Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

Who’s been sleeping in my bed???

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

Rhododendron bed, that is!

Yesterday was the first day back for the “Garden Girls” after a winter break in their usually nonstop work schedule.  The two women have been looking after the flower beds (and more!) here at this house since 2019 when Nyel wisely suggested that perhaps I could use some “help” outside.  By now, they do it all — nothing added to the mix from me except questions and clapping!

So, yesterday on their first day back since last October, the three of us took a “walk about” to see what the immediate and long-term needs might be.   They were quick to spot the crocuses and daffodils (where’d they come from?) and other early signs of Spring.  And then, when we got to the rhododendrons along the east fence:  “Oh, my gosh!  It looks like some big animal has been ‘nesting’ here!”

A cougar they thought.  YIKES!  And sure enough, broken rhodie branches and torn up Dorothy Perkins roses and wild blackberries were smooshed down between the fence and the Jean Maries — almost unnoticeable and certainly hidden from my usual vantage point at the house.  But whoever was settling in, no doubt had a clear view of me.  YIKES.

“Why a cougar?” I asked.  I hadn’t heard of one in the area for years — not since Dan Driscoll reported one to the Wildlife people out of worry for his daughter who was then quite young.

It seems that a garden client’s cat had “disappeared” recently and the women had found its scanty remains, typical of a cougar kill — in Nahcotta!  Only four miles away.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:  Adult male cougars roam widely, covering a home range of 50 to 150 square miles, depending on the age of the cougar, the time of year, type of terrain, and availability of prey. Adult male cougars’ home ranges will often overlap those of three or four females.   And… though mostly nocturnal, not necessarily…

So…  I’m not going back out there to take a picture of the “nest.”  And maybe some of the non-leash-law-abiding among us should think twice for a while.

Over and Over and Over AGAIN…

Friday, March 3rd, 2023

It used to worry me but now it’s gotten so I hardly notice most of the time — all those FaceBook suggestions of people who would like to be my “friend.”  Not the ones I’ve never heard of.  No.  The ones that are so annoying are the friends I already have.  Who in the world are these clones?

Early on, I would doublecheck with those who I know to be current, active friends suggesting that they might have been hacked.  One or two (maybe) reported back that “yes, indeed” they had been hacked and to friend them on a new site.  Mostly though, everyone just ignores it.  Just one more social media annoyance…

But then… I wonder if I’M the one who has been hacked. And if so, what to do about it.  It all seems way too daunting and perhaps it would be better to just avoid social media altogether. Several of my “real-time” friends do, and their lives do not seem diminished thereby.

On the other hand…  (do I sound like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”?)… On the other hand, I enjoy my interactions with friends on FaceBook and I feel my original purpose in joining — to raise my profile so that people will know about, buy, and read my books — has been fulfilled.  Plus there has been the very great bonus of making new friends, meeting “new” relatives, and expanding my horizons way beyond Oysterville even for a few minutes each day!

At least for now, the upside outweighs the downside.  I think.

Help me to understand.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2023

NYT Newsroom

Chicago’s mayor race has joined the growing list of evidence that Americans are unhappy about crime.

That was the headline in this morning’s online New York Times “Morning.”  I had to have a second cup of coffee while I thought it over.  Then, I read the entire article.  An article from the most prestigious (some say) newspaper in our country.

Not the coffee, not the thinking, not the careful, in-depth reading helped.  I just could not get beyond “the growing list of evidence that Americans are unhappy about crime.”

Growing list of evidence?  Really?? Now we need a list of evidence to show that we are unhappy about crime???  Is there any other reader out there wo sees anything wrong with that sentence?  Anything at all?

Once again I am reminded of why I quit watching, listening to, reading, and otherwise coming into contact with “the news.”  This isn’t news, folks.  It isn’t even a series of words put into any kind of logical context.    The closest I can come to a description is “gobbledygook.”

If you can straighten me out, please try.  From my point of view, our nation has come to a sorry pass when the (supposedly) most prestigious newspaper in the country makes such a claim.  A growing list of evidence??  Americans are unhappy about crime??  Unhappy????  Like being unhappy that my hamburger was overdone?

As my friend Tom Akerlund used to say, “Help me to understand!”


Flowers, Cards, Books, and Candles…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Birthday Flowers!

…to say nothing of phone calls and messages and lunch dates and laughter!  I guess not many people have had 87 birthdays so, the way I figure it, they wanted a little piece of my action.  And I was more than willing to share!

I had such a good time.  And it even snowed for me!  The first snowfall I ever remember on February 28th.  Of course, we did move from Newton Center, Mass, when I was three so I don’t know about those first three birthdays.  But I can tell you for sure that the next 84 birthdays in California’s Bay Area and on the banks of Willapa Bay were snow-free.

Birthday Candles and Books!

This morning, though, Carol and Tucker were visiting for a few minutes and Tucker, looking across the room and through the window and said, “It’s snowing!  And it’s so pretty!”

“It’ll be prettier through the east windows,” I said.  And it was.  So, we spent the next bit of time going from window to window comparing which view was the most beautiful — huge flakes everywhere, but not sticking anyplace.  We were so busy oohing and aahing, none of us took any pictures!

Birthday Cards!

Lunch at the pub with my good friend Miki.  Home to answer emails and phone messages and… oh my!  Too full of steak/frites to think about dinner.  A call from son Charlie and… tomorrow there will be more celebrating!  Hard to believe.

Birthday e-cards!

Thank you, everyone — for today and for all the yesterdays I have depended on you and the tomorrows that I will count on you.  You are the best!

For the first time ever — a self-assessment!

Monday, February 27th, 2023

I decided that with only 30 hours or so left before I officially enter my 88th year and can say that I am age 87, perhaps I should do a little self-assessment.  You know — how are things looking, feeling, behaving.  And no, I’m not documenting with visuals.  Just a few general impressions that (if I remember) I can compare with a year from now.

So… first my mental situation.  Gradually declining, I’m sure, but better than it was before Nyel died.  Without him to depend upon for remembering (or finding) the items I tend to discard along my way, I’ve had to find other ways to cope.  One is trying to adhere more strictly to routines and that includes where I put the things I use all the time — vitamins, keys, hairbrush…  If it goes back to the same place EVERY time I use it, I have a shot at finding it next time.  So a + or two for mental acuity.

Physical Assessment — overall, scarey.  I have lost ten pounds since Nyel left me — mostly because the learning curve is steep when planning, shopping, preparing meals for one — especially for someone who loves good food but hates to cook.  And I was spoiled every meal for forty years.  On the other hand I’ve lost two inches in height in the last few years  No longer am I “five feet two, eyes of blue.”  Now it’s “…speakin’ of my sweetie pie, only 60 inches high…”

I think most of the weight loss has been from a serious reduction in muscle mass in my thighs and upper arms.  (Pushing Nyel’s 150-170 pounds in the wheelchair day after day was a great exercise program!)  And of course, as the muscle has disappeared the crepey skin has come to taunt me.

Otherwise — except for dim eyesight, fuzzy hearing, and a few agéd looking teeth, I think I’m doing okay.  My balance is still pretty good — don’t need a cane yet.  Emotionally, I’m no more (or less) mature than I ever was; I still think it’s pretty boring to be “well-balanced” in that department.

Will I leap right into an exercise regime and begin working on some of these situations?  Not on your tintype!  With apologies to my more physically inclined friends, I didn’t like PE in school, I’ve never seen the point in walking, jogging, wearing myself to a frazzle.  But, as the weather warms up and I feel comfortable outside, I’ll get busy in the garden and that may help…

And (if I remember) we’ll compare this year’s assessment with next year’s.  YIKES!

Oh Boy! It’s Sunday!

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

Charlie and Lupe

Lately — like for the last several years — I’ve looked forward to Sundays because that’s ZoomDay with Marta and Charlie.  When the internet is behaving itself (which is not often) we visit and catch up with ourselves and with Charlie’s kitties, Lupe and Rosencrantz.

Usually, of course, my internet is being wonky and everything freezes up at this end and I get a message that says, “Your Internet Connection is Unstable.”  Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  I know that.  Welcome to Rural America.  If it gets too bad, we hang up and do a conference call instead.  Lately, though,  the  telephone hasn’t been all that reliable either.  I’m not sure if it’s a Verizon cell tower problem or what.

I was told by Spectrum a few weeks back that their marketing campaign in this area would begin in February and that we would be able to sign up for their Cable service on February 28th.  I took that as a good sign since it’s my birthday.  However…I haven’t seen any marketing campaign yet.

I hope this is meant for the Internet Provider…

Still, hope springs eternal and I have my pen poised for that sign-up opportunity on Tuesday.  I’m really not optimistic by nature, so I guess I’m just plain tired of always being on the shitty end of the stick.  How many months ago was it, anyway, that the crews were laying the cables along the right-of-way along Territory Road?

Most curious of all is why the County Public Works Department didn’t seem to know anything about it when I called them.  “Isn’t your Department in charge of the County Right-of-Ways?” I asked.  “Well, yes, but…”  I don’t remember why there were no answers to my questions.  Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

“Time, Daisy!” Words to live by…

Saturday, February 25th, 2023

Every household probably has a catch phrase or two of the sort that Nyel and I always called “words to live by.”  One of our favorites, “Time, Daisy!” was from “L’il Abner” in which I played Mammy Yokum opposite Scott Cowell as Pappy.  It was not long before Nyel and I married and, as I prepared for my role, he often ran lines with me.  “Time, Daisy!” — a line delivered by Abner — was a cue for Mammy and Pappy to do something or other (which I’ve long ago forgotten) and became the words that Nyel and I forever used instead of “Hurry up!” or “We’re gonna be late!”

Those thoughts from the early 1980s came wafting back to me when I read today’s New York Times “Morning” email — an article by Melissa Kirsch titled “Going Downhill.”  In it she explores returning to the once-rewarding, now-abandoned, activity of skiing and in her ‘evaluation’ speaks about the value of “just hanging out” with other skiers — on the slopes, in the lodge, wherever.  She likens that part of the skiing experience as a way to “reclaim time as something other than a raw ingredient to be converted into productivity” — a description of “chilling” used by author Maggie Lange in her own recent NYT article.

Measuring the Minutes

Yes!  Whether or not we are directly taught to not waste time, to spend time wisely or even that time is money, the older we get the more value we seem to place on what “use” we make of our time.  And in our productively-oriented society, “spending” time without an obvious product as an end result is somehow frowned upon.  I believe I have to think about that some more.  A tangible product seems fine when spending money.  I’m not so sure that the “product” needs to be tangible when it comes to “spending” time…

And did I mention that another of our words to live by was, “Let’s think about that tomorrow, Scarlett!”


So far… a day of ups and downs.

Friday, February 24th, 2023

Camellias – Lacking Their Uusual Vigor

The cold continues but at least the wind had died by morning leaving clear blue skies and bright sunshine.  I can’t say I went out and danced a wild fandango, but I did pick a few very puny camellias to put in the silver bowl in the library.  And I struggled forth with a few sticks of wood that I have no confidence will burn.  So much for the Outdoor Activity Program.

Bright and early I was at the Hair Tender in Long Beach for my last nail appointment in that venue.  The shop is being packed up and will be empty as of March 1st.  After 32 years in the business, Gina still is without a new home — her needs are specific and, so far, the right place hasn’t shown up.  Paul’s Memorial Service is  tomorrow and somehow my wishful thinking kicks in and hopes that by then Gina’s problem will be solved.

I turned on the radio on my way home — just in time to hear the inimitable Geno Leech reading a new poem honoring an old friend/fisherman/fisher-poet who died recently.  (I may have that wrong.  I tuned in just after the introduction.)  Geno, as usual was magnificent.  I had to pull over so I could give him my undivided attention.  What a fabulous talent that guy has!  And I know I don’t have that wrong.

A stop at the Post Office but no mail today — weather problems with flights and delivery trucks.  Then home to spiff up the house a bit for the Friday Nighters — emphasis on “a bit” and then back to the computer to do a couple more short “Saints or Sinners?” stories to send Matt. (Did I tell you that he is going to run one a week starting next week?  Or that’s the plan, anyway.)

Two Years Ago, Camellias More Robust – But Weren’t We All!

But as sometimes happens, I found myself spinning my wheels — lamenting Paul, worrying about Gina, cheering for Geno and all our other talented poets and musicians…  And then a phone call from friends across the river asking me to a pre-birthday lunch.

Things are definitely looking up!

Brave, Upstanding, Cheerful and Prompt!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

Brave Soul!  Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

When Tucker called and offered to pick up my mail this blustery morning, there was no hesitation about my reply. I had already decided that I would gladly skip today in order to avoid that howling wind and  those icy snow-specks that can’t even stick around to be counted.

He literally blew along my porch a few minutes later, arriving with two puny catalogs from WSU Press.  Period.

Daffodils!! A Bouquet in February 2021.

But then, mail delivery complete, he showed me the picture he’d taken directly north of our garage — right against the fence that in spring and summer (we hope to heaven) will again enclose the cannon.  But now — just wind, snow-specks and one lone “Brave Soul” as Tucker called it.  A daffodil!  And a beauty at that!

She’s the first one of the year here at this house and I can’t believe she wasn’t already whipped and ripped to pieces.  (Maybe by now she is.  I haven’t the courage to go look.)

Brave Soul, indeed!  Who’da thunk I’d be feeling shamed by such a lovely, delicate gift from Mother Nature?  Maybe tomorrow, if that dreaded wind abates, I’ll go and tell her in person how she made my day!

It’s always on my birthday weekend!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023

The FisherPoets Gathering is coming right up — this weekend in Astoria and live once again after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic.  Otherwise, we’ve been celebrating every last weekend of February since 1998!  Always just in time for my birthday which is (three years out of four) on the last day of the month.

Every year there are more people I know who are participating.  More poets from the Peninsula.  More musicians from everywhere.  More folks than you can imagine fitting into the cafes and beer halls and theater spaces of Astoria!

And you have to be a tactical genius to plan where you want (no, NEED) to be (and WHEN) in order to see and hear the people on your “must” list.  Set your sights and then don’t look right or left — otherwise you’ll be detouring to talk to an old friend from Nantucket or a guy whose name you’ve forgotten, but what a voice!!

If I had my druthers, I’d turn my personal clock back twenty years or so and hang on tight to Bob Pyle’s or Carol Newman’s coattails — just to be there and to soak it all up.  As it is, I’ll be glued to the radio and tuning into my birthday a few days early with the best celebration on the Northwest Coast!