Friday, December 11, 2015

Sanity Check

Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the Oregon Coast this week.  Homes were evacuated, raging rivers flooded their banks, the power was out and entire communities became cut off from the outside world by landslides.

Undaunted, these citizens watched out for each other during the storms and continue to help each other dig out from under tons of silt, water, and trees.  Often sending a distressed plea through social media for others to check on loved ones when the roads were washed away.  This small community banded together and the heartwarming stories are many.

We fared much better than most, only losing a pine tree to the wild winds.  It snapped off 16 feet up, unceremoniously dropping the upper half on the fence.  At the coast they jokingly call this "having your firewood delivered to your door."  Many have had it delivered by ocean waves this week, thankfully, not in our case.

The storms continue to batter the shore with lively thunder and lighting last night and another high wind warning alert for tomorrow.  Just as you are considering a sanity check might be in order, a moment (like the one pictured here) comes along.  The salty air whirls around you, the sky lightens and the birds once again take flight.  The calm before the next storm reminds you of why you live here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

From Our Home to Yours

Tis the season to receive delightful Christmas letters from friends far and wide.  Letters that eloquently describe their lives filled with fantastic vacations, children becoming doctors and new homes in gated communities.  In the spirit of the “holiday letter,” we offer our own newsy communiqué…

We hope this letter finds you as happy and healthy as we are, grateful for so much as we enjoy the beauty of the season.   Living the dream and wanting some help around the house, this year we were fortunate enough to secure the services of a personal monkey butler named, Mr. Jeeves

While it took us a while to understand each other, things have worked out swimmingly.  This summer, Mr. Jeeves was quite a help around the yard too.  On warm summer days when Bob was busy clearing brush and cutting back blackberry bushes, Mr. Jeeves jockeyed on the front of the riding lawnmower, drinking PBR with his little aviator hat flapping in the breeze.

Mr. Jeeves’ domestic skills have improved dramatically.  He learned how to set a beautiful table, pour the wine, and serve each course from left to right.  Although he is terribly shy and won’t actually perform any of those duties when we have guests, retreating to the comfort of his bunk and cable shows when they arrive.  Who doesn’t want to binge on Sister Wives from time to time?

This fall was a busy one with back-to-back events in Las Vegas.   Imagine my surprise when I checked into the fancy casino hotel, opened my suitcase and out popped a stowaway, Mr. Jeeves!  Dressed in an outfit that would have made Liberace jealous, he bolted for the door saying something about showgirls.   A few days later, I was getting dressed for work as the sun was rising when I heard a knock at the door.  Mr. Jeeves was back looking exhausted and a bit under the weather.  He ambled in, pulled the blackout shades closed, put on his satin sleep mask and climbed into bed. 

He was still there when I returned 14 hours later although the room service trays led me to believe he had been awake at some point.  The little scalawag had run up quite a bill, but nothing compared to the mini-bar charges I saw upon checkout.  Anyway, we will write that off to a well-deserved vacation for our favorite personal monkey butler.

Back in Netarts, Mr. Jeeves has been on his best behavior, now that Tillamook County has arranged to drop the charges for an earlier misunderstanding with several tourists.  He has agreed to sign on for another year and we are thrilled. 

From Our Home to Yours, Here’s to an Exciting 2016! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Twenty-nine years ago today I became a mother when my son flew home from Korea.  He was 9 months old, jet lagged with ear infections and trying to communicate his needs in a language I didn't understand.   

My first days as a mother were filled with tenderness, compassion, and fear.  Here I was trusted with the most precious gift of all, yet we were strangers but the day before.  No owner’s manual arrived with him, not even a bottle of formula or dry diaper.  We navigated this new world together hour by hour, feeling our way along.  Small steps, like the first time he smiled when he recognized my face or when I figured out he wanted to be carried in a sling on my back as he had in Korea and he snuggled in immediately.   We learned from each other.

This crisp fall day is an exact replica of the day he arrived right down to the few leaves still clinging to the trees in the sunshine.  I cuddled him close and we took a walk around the neighborhood, the smell of the turkey and pumpkin pies drifting out of kitchen windows. 

The memories wash over me. Once again I am a new mother who, although a little unsure of herself, is very sure her heart is bursting open with gratitude and love.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grateful for Sunbeams

After a wild week of weather, we are graced with the sun.  Just as I turn my face to absorb the last rays of the fall sun, so do all of the plants and animals of the kingdom.

How sweet it is to be loved!

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Keep Netarts Weird"

Today, I am passing along this article written by a Netart native which talks about locals, tourists and travelers.  I share it with you so you understand when I post these silly blogs describing life on the Oregon Coast, I am not making it up...

Somehow the Coast's wild, untouched beauty makes up for the crazy human antics that cause me to shake my head in wonder.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Food AND Shelter

A huge toadstool has taken up residence in the Alder grove here at Netarts.  It is the biggest one I have ever seen (the accompanying sand dollar is for scale),

This perfectly shaped mushroom conjures up visions of fairies (and, well...toads) taking cover underneath it's wide brim or making it their home during the pouring rain.  Large enough for an entire family, the possibilities are endless.

Upon closer inspection, I notice there are bite marks on the top probably made by a hungry woodland critter.  He may have stopped by for a snack and devoured his fill. Stuffed and moving slowly from his self-imposed "food coma," he considered taking the whole thing back to his nest for later.  He tugged and tugged but it wouldn't budge.

Alas, it was the waitress's day off and he couldn't even get a doggie bag.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stained Glass Sunset

The fall sunset through the Alder trees overlooking Netarts Bay = Nature's Art

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Do Not Have Crabs

This crab claw was festively decorated with lace-like barnacles festooning its otherwise scary pincher...

Note: Webster's Dictionary does not recognize the word "pincher" but growing up around crawfish and crabs, I can tell you they are exactly that, PINCHERS.

Another note: Now, I am told by the dictionary that the plural of crab in this instance should be "crab."  Apparently, one is not supposed to say, "I have crabs" or "Do you have crabs?" as it is an entirely different conversation for a different post. Good to know.

Anyway, all I was really just trying to show you something cool I found and ended up getting an English lesson.

So enjoy the fancy claw and don't tell anyone you have crabs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's Good to be Queen

Growing on a bluff next to the Cape Meares Lighthouse and overlooking miles of rocky coastline, the Pacific Ocean and migrating whales, this weed has found a perfect home.

Her official name, Queen Anne's Lace, seems well suited as she occupies her throne keeping a watchful eye on her kingdom and subjects far below.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pelican Poetry

'Twas the morning before Labor Day, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sandcastles danc'd in their heads,
And Bob in his 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a mid-summer's nap-
When out on the Bay there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a flock of pelicans, so close and so clear,
More rapid than eagles those pelicans they came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and wished I knew them by name.

Okay, I do get extremely excited when the pelicans arrive each September.  There is nothing more fun than watching them filling up at this bountiful buffet before completing their migration to points south.  The pelicans are so awkward and gregarious as they dive for food.  Sometimes they float along with the tide and nod as they go by, giving the impression they are simply good-natured visitors who stopped by for a long holiday.

And then in November as if they heard a whistle,
Away they will all fly, like the down of a thistle:
But then I’ll exclaim, as they wing out of sight-
Happy Trails to all, and to all a good flight!

Note:  Thanks to Clement C. Moore who helped with this poem and the returning pelicans for inspiration.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Rainmaker

It has been the driest, hottest year at the Oregon Coast.  Beach fires are banned, the rivers are low, the leaves are dry and wildfires threaten our forests.  The Earth is begging for rain.

Turns out, all that is required is to send me on vacation.  On my first day off, it started to rain.  Today is Day Three and over three inches of rain have fallen.

You are welcome!

All is not lost, I am on my third book.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Moments in Summer, Moments in Time

In our family, summer wouldn't be summer without days spent in the sand and water. While avoiding the city heat was the goal, we were actually pausing our lives to spend time together, listening and learning,  

It is this unstructured time which allows us to tell stories which otherwise would be lost. We come to know each other as individuals who had a history long before our first meeting.  We hear about experiences which shaped each of us and come to understand the unique perspectives we offer.

The sea and sand cast a magical spell, opening us to a deeper connection with those we love.

There is nothing more precious than these moments in time.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Grace Under (High) Pressure

It's been a long, hot summer even on the Oregon Coast.  This graceful Lucifer plant doesn't seem a bit fazed.  Perhaps it is trying to set an example for my other whiny, thirsty garden dwellers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's MR. Jeeves to You!

I always wanted a Personal Monkey Butler.   How long I have wished for a sweet, little servant to bring me a tall glass of iced tea on a silver tray, to answer the door and alert me to guests, or even to change the television channel back in the day (you see, it is a very old wish).  When not waiting on me, he could entertain me with tricks or gossip from the next town over.

He could sit on the back of my tall armchair and watch as I hold court in the afternoon, whispering in my ear from time to time.  I would be amused and give him a treat for his efforts.

As I grow older, this fantasy has rekindled itself.  Now I picture myself at Netarts in my Adirondack chair overlooking the Bay.  My Personal Monkey Butler is fetching me a pillow, feeding Goldie and dusting the sand dollars.   Yes, a Personal Monkey Butler has definitely on my bucket list…that is, until a month ago when I got one.

Our story started when a travel-weary monkey, clad in a worn pirate suit came wandering down our lane.  He was dragging his little hobo pack behind him along the gravel road.  You see, we are the last stop on the road, in fact, the last stop on the continent.  He pushed up his false eye patch, scratched his furry head and asked if I might be able to employ him.  A dream come true, I scooped him up and took him inside.

I washed and mended his miniature pirate outfit and put a new feather in his cap.  I gave him food and water before tucking him into the top bunk in our spare room.  He nestled down on the pillows under the chenille blanket and began to snore.  I quietly tip-toed down the hall to tell Bob my wishes had been granted.

The next morning the little guy wandered into the kitchen looking for a “cup of joe.”   While brewing it, I asked him to watch closely because coffee making/serving would be one of his daily duties.  We went through a list of other responsibilities before I asked him if I could call him Jeeves.  He seemed fine with that, but preferred I call him Mr. Jeeves.  I was fine with that too; after all, a good Personal Butler Monkey demands a little respect.

The first week his probation training period went pretty well.  A few little misunderstandings are to be expected after all.  Dishes go in the dishwasher, clothes go in the clothes washer, and the garden hose is for watering the garden not the local wildlife.  He did, however, sit on my Adirondack chair and amuse me in the afternoon breeze.

Along about Day 10, when I asked Jeeves to bring us a few snacks to enjoy on the lawn, he haughtily responded, “It’s Mr.  Jeeves to you!”  as he threw down his linen napkin and stomped to his room.  Fair enough, I had forgotten to use his formal name.  He seemed much better the next day.  In fact, he was so happy that when he requested his first evening off, I couldn’t deny him.  Somehow Bob and I would fend for ourselves.

It was late that night when Mr. Jeeves returned and came weaving down the hallway only to miss his bed completely and pass out on the floor.  The next morning, he was nursing a terrible headache and helped himself to the coffee before pouring ours.  He did share all of the town gossip he learned the night before, so I forgave him.

Two days later I read in the Tillamook paper about an unruly monkey (dressed in a pirate costume) who was terrorizing the tourists at the boat ramp.  Said monkey had been allegedly sitting on a dumpster, fiercely throwing old crab bait, while laughing hysterically at the vacationers attempts to launch their fishing boats.  Mr. Jeeves denied everything but wasn’t able to furnish an alibi.

I am sad to report, things have further deteriorated.  When last seen, Mr. Jeeves had taken up residence at the Upstairs Tavern; beer in one hand, ash-laden cigarette in the other, playing video poker with his tail.  His pirate costume is disheveled, his hat lost its feather and the false eye patch is back.  He won’t come home, even when I call him Mr. Jeeves and offer to get him help or a new feather.

My dream butler has become a crazy nightmare and I am forced to get up and wait on myself.

*Note: no monkeys were harmed in the writing of this story.  The names were not changed to protect the innocent, because he is not innocent!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Coastal Navigation

“Turn at the goats.”  That was it, the complete driving directions we received when calling the Quilt and Textile Center.

“The goats?” we asked.

“Yes, the goats,” which was repeated three more times during the conversation.

Finally giving up and hanging up, my front seat navigator turned to me perplexed.  “What goats?” she asked me.  I shrugged.  In my eight years in this coastal community, I have never seen a goat.  Plenty of cows, but no goats.

It wouldn’t have been quite so frustrating if we hadn’t already…

… been traveling back and forth on the same six mile loop for over an hour looking for the Center,
…stopped at the Visitors Center which was closed on a Saturday during the busy tourist season providing no help,
…followed the attraction signs which pointed us in a different direction altogether,
…or, learned the GPS system directs to you the fairgrounds on the other side of the city.

So we abandoned our plans to see the Quilt and Textile Center and headed back home to Netarts on Hwy 101.    A mile down the road we come upon another sign to the Center and decide on one, last ditch effort to find the place.  A few blocks past the sub shop and car wash, we see the building.  Hooray!  As we turn in, off to the right there is a house with a play structure in the yard and, imagine that, a couple of goats lying down in the tall grass.  We can just barely see their ears sticking up and it's not a herd of goats or a landmark by any means.

When we finally walked in the front door we were greeted by the Center Staff who were completely unfazed as we described our journey.  Without even a hint of concern that visitors might not be able to find them, they simply stated once again, “Well, we told you to turn at the goats.”

Note:  We were the only car in the parking lot.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Snail's Pace

Some days (aka today) this little guy could beat me in a race to the finish line.  It has been one of those weeks/months with too many projects and too little relaxation.  I am worn out.

This morning when I saw this snail crossing the porch on his way to my newly-budding geraniums, my first response was to relocate him...quickly.  Instead, I sat down in the wicker rocking chair, leaned back and watched him creep along toward his pink and red destination.  His pace was slow yet straight and determined, taking advantage of the morning dew.

I was reminded of a fortune, from a long-ago cookie, which sits on my desk simply stating, "You will obtain your goal if you maintain your course."   These words have rung true in my life, yet I appear to have forgotten them during the recent flurry of activity.  The Universe apparently decided I needed a visual reminder, so along he came.

Seeing it as a sign* I slowed my own pace today and am thankful for his presence.

*I wasn't always such a firm believer in "signs."  In an earlier life chapter, I was engaged on May 18th.  Later that day, Mt. St. Helens violently erupted.  Unaware I should be paying attention to the sign, I went ahead and married the guy which ended badly.  Enough said, I now pay attention.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arriving at my Destination

A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing.
She goes where she will without pretense
and arrives at her destination
prepared to be herself
and only herself.

  -Maya Angelou

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Fine Whine

Usually a very grateful girl, I recently found myself saying these things,

"This is horrible, the tides are all wrong today for a long afternoon walk on the beach."


"I didn't sleep well last night because (as I was laying in my toasty warm bed next to my sweetie at the Oregon Coast) the rain was pounding too loudly on my window."


"I only found two unbroken sand dollars today."


"The sun is shining on my computer monitor and if I move, I have to give up my view of the bay."

When I whined to my friends and relatives, they didn't have much empathy.  My co-workers had none. I am reminded that my problems are not problems at all.

Then I had a much needed talk with myself which started like this...

"Snap out of it, Miss Nancy, you indeed have a lucky life!"

Thursday, February 26, 2015


With grateful heart, I found my soul
tossed out of the sea,
vulnerable to the world.

I picked it up, this fragile pearl,
with a mother's love and said,

"You are safe with me."

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Don't Poop in your House

 Because this guy above can't speak for himself, I will let these numbers do the talking.

 "In 2013 alone, at the Nehalem Bay Estuary Clean Up, 100 volunteers collected and sorted marine debris which included...

15 yards of trash
2 yards of rigid plastic
1 yard of mixed plastic
96 gallons of glass
64 gallons of thin film
64 gallons of metal
12 hazardous material items
16 tires
4 large barrels
758 shotgun shells
27 balls
1 canoe
7 flip flops
1 buoy
1 tent
1 refrigerator"

Source: Dale Cramer Burr, Executive Director, Nehalem Community Trust, Headlight Herald Guest Opinion

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday's Moment of Zen

I came along at the right moment to capture nature's spectacular artistry.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

And the Award Goes To...

In the world of "garbage washing ashore during winter storms," this recent entry may take the Artistic Design Award. I can imagine the art critic's review now...

"Given the large, three-dimensional nature and the necessarily bold visual language of this installation, the work has a strong sense of place, but at the same time, the depictions of fabric and rope produce a feeling of impermanence and shape-shifting evocative of transient lives where landscape, language and a sense of self are forever being renegotiated.  Although mute, textiles are an almost inexhaustible mine of cultural and scientific information. The secret is in knowing how to read the signs. These physical qualities of endurance, adaptability and evidential power also have great metaphoric potential."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Close Encounters of the Worst Kind

Is it an alien?
Darth Vader's sidekick?
A huge, armor-coated spider?

Not according to the local high school science teacher.   Upon exploring Netarts Bay last weekend searching for cool stuff for his students, he found this Kelp Crab.  It is cool, in a "creepy, don't ever want to run into one sort-of-way," I suppose.

He excitedly shared there are many, many of them in the Bay.  Oh boy, I guess. He went on to say Kelp Crab are known for the ability to climb and run quickly, oh dear.  They also pinch very hard, yikes.

Don't bother with all the scary sci-fi movies, this creepy crustacean will be the villain in my nightmares!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tales of a Sea Dragon

Of all the things the sea has shared with me this winter, 
the Sea Dragon is my very favorite.

Coming ashore on a full moon, the fog parted long enough to light his way.  The serpent had traveled a great distance the past fortnight and needed to rest on the soft sand.  The next morning, the winter sun rose and warmed his smooth skin as he languished on the beach.

He quietly watched my approach.  With a wink and a sly smile, he welcomed me to sit by his side.  He talked of pirates and mermaids, of storms and wild seas and of far off places I can only imagine.  I told him of deserts, canyons and cities where you never even see the horizon.

The conversation eventually drifted away and we silently watched the waves together as the sun crossed the sky overhead.  We were kindred spirits.

I could have stayed there forever, but after a while, he turned his head longingly towards the sea.  The high tide playfully lapped against his side, beckoning him back to the water.  I knew our time had come to an end.

As we said our farewells it was clear, our friendship would last an eternity. Until we meet again, safe journey!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lessons Still to be Learned

Some people pass through our lives 
in a shorter time frame than we had hoped 
to teach us things 
they never could have taught if they stayed.