at Dad's Christmas 2009

We stopped at Dad's in Portland this weekend. Captured on film are 5 of the 6 adult kids. We are a blended family- though we didn't grow up together.  ViAnna's 2 boys were older and the 4 of us were teens/preteens.  Missing from the event- my sister and about 20 plus assorted grandchildren (and a few great grandkids)!

Yes, that is a G scale railroad that weaves through a few rooms on Dad's handmade oak tracks.

Oysters at the Chester Club in South Bend

After a recent meeting one night, we stopped in at the infamous Chester Club  and Oyster Bar in South Bend.

This really is more of a biker tavern.  The oysters are super fresh and the beer on tap is just as fresh! The back room extends on stilts out over the mud flats.  If oysters could crawl, they would be in your lap.
The New York Times came all the way out west and did a review of Chesters in Oct of 2007. 
September 30, 2007
South Bend, Wash.: Chester Tavern

Consider the fried oyster. To snobs, it ranks far below oysters on the half shell, somewhere down the totem pole past oysters Rockefeller and oyster stew, the victim of a cooking technique fit only for bivalves of dubious provenance.
Fried oysters play starring roles only in a po’ boy, where the bread and remoulade further mask the flavor of mollusks that have had their unique molluskness cooked into oblivion.
Not so at the Chester Tavern. In this unprepossessing bar in South Bend (1005 West Robert Bush Drive, 360-875-5599), on Willapa Bay near the Washington coast, oysters are deep-fried with the kind of fanatical care you might expect in the self-proclaimed “oyster capital of the world.” (One in six oysters consumed in the United States come from the bay, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.)

No overbattered blobs here. The three-inch oysters — selected by the graders at the Coast Oyster plant — get a mere dusting of cornmeal and are fried in clean, unfiltered vegetable oil at 350 degrees, hot enough to seal in the sublime juices.

The result is sweet like corn bread, briny like the sea, creamy as a raw oyster and greaseless enough for even the calorie-concerned to down a dozen. Seven dollars buys six oysters with French fries, and $3 more gets the perfect chaser, a Fish Tale organic amber ale. For what may be the best fried oysters in the country, this is a bargain well worth the roughly two-hour drive from Seattle (or even a $318 round-trip flight from New York on JetBlue).

The genius behind the shell is Tim Sedgwick, who worked in the garment business in Seattle until 1994, when he bought the bar and began developing his oyster recipe. Oysters have since become the family business — Mr. Sedgwick’s daughter Amy was nominated for a regional Emmy for her public-television documentary “Shucks: An Oyster Story.”

Mr. Sedgwick is no monomaniac, however. Researching the history of the tavern, which dates from 1897, also occupies his time. A secret poker room once stood outside the building, he said, and big black-and-white photos over the pool tables show Oscar Chester, the original owner, who happened to be the town sheriff.

“He would go up into the hills and break up all of the moonshiners,” Mr. Sedgwick said. “And he himself had the biggest still up in the mountains! He’d break them up, and they’d have to come down to the Chester and drink.”

Of course, had Chester had Mr. Sedgwick’s oyster recipe, those moonshiners would have come anyway.

Coast Guard Responds to Fishing Vessel Fire. Rescues Crew and Scuttles Boat.

This afternoon- we could hear Coast Guard Helicopters overhead and see smoke out in the ocean... coming from a fishing vessel.  Later in the early evening- LOUD BOOMS could be heard off-shore.  On Twitter- I saw tweets that the 60' fishing vessel had to be scuttled. Here's the story and photos from the Coast Guard District 13 web site. (The Coast Guard site has a bonus video.)

ASTORIA, Ore. – Coast Guard crews responded to a boat fire approximately 10 miles from the coast of Long Beach, Wash., Monday.

Coast Guard Group/Air Station Astoria received a call at 4 p.m. from a crewman aboard the 60-foot fishing vessel Portlock reporting that the vessel was on fire.
The two crewmembers aboard Portlock were able to relay coordinates to a Coast Guard watchstander before abandoning ship into a liferaft.

The Coast Guard Cutter Active, homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., was eight miles from the burning vessel and was diverted to assist. Additionally, Air Station Astoria launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and Station Cape Disappointment, Wash., launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew to assist.
Once on scene, the Cutter Active launched a small boat crew to retrieve the two men from the liferaft. The two men were then transferred to the motor lifeboat and brought to Station Cape Disappointment.
The Portlock had approximately 400 gallons of diesel fuel and two propane tanks onboard. There were no reports of injuries.

The Captain of the Port of Portland, Ore., determined the best option was to sink the vessel before it drifted to shore and imposed a threat to the coastal environment. After consultation with the Environment Protection Agency and other federal and interested stakeholders, the order was given to sink the vessel. The crew of the Cutter Active sunk the vessel eight miles offshore.

Oceanographers at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration have determined that any fuel residue from the wreck would drift seaward with minimal long-term impact.
ASTORIA, Ore. – Coast Guard crews responded to a boat fire approximately 10 miles from the coast of Long Beach, Wash., Monday, Aug. 31, 2009. Coast Guard Group/Air Station Astoria received a call at 4 p.m. from a crewman aboard the 60-foot fishing vessel Portlock reporting that the vessel was on fire. The two crewmembers aboard Portlock were able to relay coordinates to a Coast Guard watchstander before abandoning ship into a liferaft. (U.S. Coast Guard photos/Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Parker)

of Dancing and Dreams

Having grown up in Connecticut, and attending the famous Kirov Academy of Ballet in D.C., my brother's daughter has moved to Oregon- where both her parents grew up and attended University of Oregon- before moving east 28yrs ago. She is dancing with OBT- Oregon Ballet Theater.

The Oregonian has a story with her featured:
...Summer of Dancing and Dreams...

It's pretty cool - with hard work and determination - she is on her way to achieving the life of her dreams. Bravo to my niece! (and my Father couldn't be happier!)

I really want to go to Gnomedex 9.0

**UPDATE** Yay!! I won!! Watch for my posts from Gnomedex 9.0

Remember last Sept when we ventured to BlogWorldExpo? I wrote a few posts about it here and here. I confess that I was soooo busy learning and networking that I didn't blog it justice. The experience was fabulous and I can't wait to return this year! I learned so much!

Not to mention, while I signed up on Twitter in April 2008. It wasn't until BlogWorldExpo that I began to get a glimpse of the power of Twitter. Look at me NOW! I am one of the Twitter Elite with over 115,000 followers! Who would think that from my little home office on the coast of SW Washington State- I would have a voice across around the globe!? I am honored by the relationships I have developed on Twitter, Facebook and from my little personal blog.

Many of you know that Brett and I moved full-time to our Seaview beach home after our youngest went away to college. We own a business that processes market research and public opinion survey statistics for a national client base. We can do this because of technology.

One of the lonely things about living remotely is that I don't get to network in person with fellow techies. The perfect opportunity to do this is going to happen in just a few days up at Gnomedex 9.0 in Seattle. I procrastinated...and didn't purchase a ticket. Boohoo... now all the Full-Access passes are sold out!

Except- WOW- while reading the BlogWordExpo Blog- THEY ARE GIVING AWAY A FREE PASS!! I just have until NOON to enter!! Can I do it?

It is time for me to kick into gear...and learn all I can about social media. My blog needs to go to the next level. I can tweet and post and bring all of you along with me!

Who would think that an older #TROT (Top Redhead on Twitter) would get to hang out with all the cool techies? AND the real reason I really must attend GNOMEDEX 9.0? I need more swag. My wardrobe needs a makeover.

Our annual Picnic

We host a political picnic every year. This year, 150 Republicans enjoyed the beautiful weather, fresh oysters, BBQ of ribs, chicken, salmon, hamburgers & hot dogs.... and speeches from the announced GOP candidates for Congress representing the 3rd Congressional District - Jon Russell and David Castillo.

Washington State Attorney General, Rob McKenna, was our keynote speaker. We were ambushed by Pirates too! Imagine that! Pirates and Politicians.

Place to Come Home to

Thanks Cate for the mention... I am laughing at how you describe me! (see near bottom of article)
Coast Chronicles: Best place to live in small-town America? - The Peninsula
By Cate Gable
Observer columnist
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hoping something, sometime, will rub off on me, I wistfully opened my Money magazine this month and read about small-cap funds (recent winners over large-cap and growth); P/E ratios (stick with those below their five-year averages); dividends from solid performers (AT&T probably heads the list at 6.5 percent) and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (with inflation at 2.5 percent, TIPS yielding 1.84 percent aren't a bad investment right now).

It makes my eyes roll.

I close all the pages of charts, graphs and percentages and just sigh.

The one article I found relaxing was "100 Best Places to Live in America." It's an analysis that ranks small town living on five attributes that the magazine editors feel families care most about.

Their categories are jobs/economy, housing affordability, safety, education and leisure/arts. They consider the population of a 'small town' to be between 8,500 and 50,000.

Washington state comes off pretty well in this article, despite our small towns being hampered by an economy that's in the dumps.

Mukilteo, up north of Seattle and with a population of 20,500, made Money's top ranks coming in 10th. A typical Mukilteo single-family home costs $435,000; property taxes are $3,260; and the unemployment rate is 7.1 percent. Plus, they get high marks for "natural beauty and good schools."

In the top 100, Washington has four other winners: Sammamish (12); Newcastle (17); Richland (51) and Silverdale (92). Oregon didn't fare as well - making the rankings were only West Linn at 64th and Lake Oswego in 79th place.

But these numbers got me thinking about how our Peninsula would stack up against these towns. I wondered how we would fare given the criteria laid out by the Money editors.

So here are my own, mostly unscientific, guestimates about how our little corner of the world might have performed in their contest.

First, we definitely fit the "small town" criterion. Folks at the Long Beach Visitors Bureau indicate that we have a wildly fluctuating population. In the winter, full-time Peninsula residents clock in at around 10,000.

Summer folk, or maybe we should say "seasonal neighbors," balloon the Peninsula population to around 25,000 an increase of 250 percent. But that still puts us well within their 50,000 cut-off.

So, now we know - all of our small towns together are still 'small town.'

The next factor - jobs/economy - is probably our weakest area.

According to the most recent government figures for June, the unemployment rate for Pacific County is 12 percent. This is about three points higher than the national figure and it sounds pretty scary. But, believe it or not, that's an improvement over the past couple months.

Our all-time unemployment high for the county was 14.4 percent, registered in March of this year. For May it was 13 percent.

So we're trending into better territory, but we still have a lot of people out of work. As well, the kind of work we do have - low-paying jobs that support the tourism industry - aren't the kind that make it easy to keep a family afloat.

Add to that the fact that our year-round economy is natural-resource based - fisheries, timber, agriculture - and we happen to be living at a time on earth during the greatest environmental crisis mankind has ever faced.

(El Niño may deliver another hit to our failing salmon runs this year. Ocean acidification is taking a toll on oyster and crab. And on the phone with a fish expert the other day, I heard it unofficially stated "... the sturgeon are kaput." I'd like to see environmental and habitat restoration become our economic driver. Or how about pursuing alternative energy - wind and wave - and other light industry to get us back up on our financial feet?)

Affordable housing is a winning category for us. I figure a single-family home is three bedrooms, two bath, stick built. I spoke with Dennis Oman, broker and owner of Oman Realty, and DJ Bogue, broker/manager of Anchor Realty in Surfside, who both indicated that the price range for a 3BR/2BA on the Peninsula is between $160,000 to $240,000.

Part of affordable housing in the Money survey includes property taxes. Ours are in the middle range. According to the Pacific County Assessor's office, residential property taxes range between $9 and $11 per $1,000 of assessed value. This means property taxes on that single-family home price-range work out to between $1,440 and $2,640, which puts us near the top of the heap compared to the Money winners.

Only first place winner - Louisville, Colo., with typical home prices of $325,000 and property taxes of $1,590 - would score better.

I'm not sure how to rate safety and education. Money doesn't share their rationale on these factors, so I'll give us a neutral there.

But in the leisure and the arts category we would surely score well.

Scan through the Chinook Observer calendar section or check out events at to see the array of activities available to us - many of them free. Even if we can't get all the first run movies, we seem to be pretty clever at entertaining ourselves. We've got Lewis and Clark, multiple national and state parks, a top-notch museum, and lots of active community sponsors for music, drama, and arts events.

I give us high marks in the arts and leisure category.

And as for Mukilteo's "drop-dead gorgeous views of Puget Sound" - well, those Money editors should try Cape 'D' on a sunny day.

Overall, I'd say we've been cheated out of our top ranking in the best small town places to live. But, of course, this is a blessing in disguise and one that has brought us all here. We're not on the map - hurray.

And, anyway, living here isn't really about the numbers, is it?

I asked a few friends to answer the question "What is best about Peninsula living?" and here's what I heard:

From Sue Staples, an inveterate birder, "A whirlpool of swallows, eddies slowly overhead, one blue feather falls."

Mike Carmel, gardener extraordinaire and Tilth treasurer, "Old beauty, new friends, good air, gentle pace, caring community."

Rosemary Hallin, community volunteer for Camp Victory, "beautiful people - ocean, bay, forests together, living on the edge."

Nansen Malin, Twitter Queen and Republican kingpin, "Beach house memories, salt air dunes salmon, oysters, place to come home to."

Those sentiments just about say it all.

Peter G. Petersen, co-founder of the Blackstone Group and multi-billionaire, has decided to give away most of his fortune and his friends are asking why. As an answer, he tells a sweet little story in the June 8, Newsweek, which I picked up in the Nahcotta Post Office magazine exchange box. (Thank you, neighbor, whoever you are, and let me add this to my list of what's best about living on the Peninsula.)

The story: Kurt Vonnegut is at a lavish hedge-fund manager's party (probably BC, before the crash) with Joseph Heller and he says, "Hey Joe, doesn't it bug you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made on Catch 22?"

Heller says, "Nope. I have something he doesn't have. I know the meaning of enough."

So, views of Long Island and the Willapa Hills, the old growth cedars at Ellsworth Creek, fresh spring salmon, delicious water, few traffic lights, honest friends, walks on the beach, community volunteers, stars at night, space for a garden, elk, coyote, hummingbirds, the chance to write for a great little weekly - sounds like enough to me.

By my calculations, we live in the number one, top of the list, all-around best 'small town' in America. But let's just keep this to ourselves.


Here are a few of the SandSations 2009 event this past Saturday. More to come....

Yikes! I hope those eagles aren't eating our deer friends!

Bald eagles becoming bold predators
Observer staff writer
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Photo: KEVIN HEIMBIGNER/Chinook Observer
An immature eagle dines on a fawn
on the beach. The deer’s tracks in the sand indicate that it was hunted down
from the air.

LONG BEACH - The morning of July 1 while driving south on the beach adjacent to the cablevision tower I spotted three bald eagles squabbling where the dry sand begins. They were actively feasting on what I thought was a seal. Approaching on foot I got the camera ready, but the eagles did not cooperate by staying together long enough for me to take a picture of all three.

Then I noticed their meal was a small deer of about 40 pounds. The eagles took turns eating and then retreating to the safety of the dunes. Driving off I saw tracks and stopped to check them out. The tracks were those of the fawn and they were deep in the hard sand and wide apart. The deer had been in full flight, throwing sand a couple of feet when it had violently changed directions numerous times.

I looked for other animal tracks to see what had chased and likely killed the fawn. There were none and no tire tracks to indicate someone may have accidentally struck the racing animal. The logical conclusion was that the three eagles, two young ones and one mature adult, had somehow killed their prey. Approaching the scene it was clear that the 40-pound buck had stopped where the eagles had evidently caught up to it in the soft sand.

A quarter-mile further south I spotted another mature eagle and after a minute it flew off in the direction of the deer. I turned back north and followed and sure enough he joined in the meal after a brief flutter of feathers. According to Wikepedia the bald eagle's main diet is fish, but they are known to prey on raccoons and deer fawns.

Ten or 15 years ago a bald eagle on the beach was rare as hen's teeth, a treat. The past few years a drive on the hard sand from Ocean Park to Long Beach more often than not reveals at least one eagle and sometimes as many as half a dozen on the beach or perched on the dunes.

I have seen at least three times when eagles have had rabbits in their clutches as the birds are doing what they are supposed to do, as predators they are controlling populations of fish, rodents and rabbits. Reports of a small dog being swept away in the talons, collar and all, and of domestic cats being snatched up from the beach grass are becoming more common.

As the population of bald eagles continues to increase on the Peninsula the vigilance one has for their pets must also increase. Keeping an eagle eye out for these beautiful and spectacular predators is becoming a must.

The bald eagle had been on the endangered species list, but was officially de-classified June 28, 2007. Restrictions on the pesticide DDT has allowed eagle populations to again increase nationwide. To shoot or willfully harm an eagle is a federal offense, however, and led to several years of incarceration.

The Morning After

We all love the fireworks, the bonfires, the family times. But what happens when tens of thousands of people descend on the beach for 20 miles?

Everyone loves the beach. But not everyone cares FOR the beach. They build huge raging fires and throw all sorts of debris into the heat. They leave everything from sofas to broken glass on the sand - thinking it will just wash away.

The next morning- tons and tons of spent firework parts, beer bottles, cans, metal, plastics, rope, clothes, furniture and other crazy non- bio-degradable foreign objects are left.

Shelly Pollock and the volunteer Grassroots Garbage Gang- get up early and pick up the yucky trash. It is hard work. It is disgusting work. Fires are still burning... and those are usually the fires with broken glass, melted hot wire, and cut up beer cans. It can be dangerous. It is also very rewarding.