Bill Moeller Commentary: So What Else Is New?


When you’ve seen as many birthdays as I have, it’s difficult to get excited about anything short of seeing Mount Rainier dry out enough to have a grass fire on its peak one of these years. 

Not that it isn’t impossible if there aren’t enough changes on the way we sit here complacently and deny that things are headed in that direction. 

All right, I’ll stop being so pessimistic about the future. Enough said. 

Over the last few years, I’ve made it a habit to stay up until midnight as we change years and the big ball drops down onto Times Square in New York City. According to the time zones, it’s a few hours earlier than that annual episode here in the West Coast. 

At one time I wouldn’t have missed that show — and the Seattle fireworks — for anything, and also wouldn’t have missed the midnight reading of our national debt. 

I cheated this year and got that reading on Christmas Day instead of midnight on New Year’s Eve and got a “ballpark” figure of around $30 trillion, an increase of approximately $2 trillion from last year. 

I tried to think of some other way I could bring this to our attention and came up with the following analogy. 

According to information I gathered online, the average length of our steps when walking is about 3 feet. The number of steps we take on a distance of more than a trip to the bathroom is approximately 2,000 steps per mile and the circumference of this world of ours is 28,735 miles. 

Now let’s say that there could be bridges across the oceans and we decided to make a trip around the world on foot. Let’s also say that if we were paid $1 for each of those 57,470,000 steps we took, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay off our family’s share of the national debt. 

Enough of that, let’s look at the lighter side of life. 

I looked at my calendar for last year and was reminded that I heard the first frogs croaking on March 23, and that was also the day I received my second COVID-19 shot. 

But the record also shows that I missed seeing any skunk cabbages that year. The latter left me with a kind of empty feeling. Sam, my feline companion, had his first birthday on June 9 and a friend — former Centralia College librarian Loualta Vogel — turned 100 on July 8. 

She passed away shortly after that while living with her daughter’s family in New Jersey. She and her late husband also owned the Olympic Club for many years before selling to McMenamins. 

My daughter Lisa visited from Georgia this summer and we had a delightful jaunt to Mount Rainier, where I had worked the summer of 1946, just before enlisting in the U.S. Army. 

I don’t know why it wasn’t written on my calendar but I also had my cataracts removed early last summer and I now know why so many friends have spoken highly of the procedure.

Has it been a good year? Oh, there have been ups and downs, of course. It was only possible to get in two kayak trips this summer due to several things: conflicting schedules and some stitches on both hands. The first was acquired when I reached out to pet my neighbor’s dog and acquired 10 of them on my left hand. Later in the summer, while unintentionally tripping and scraping my other hand, I gathered 11 more. Oh, and the successful removal of a cancerous growth on my left hand took a few more, too. 

Spending hours sitting with a book in the shade of a neighbor’s tree which obligingly crosses high over the fence between us — and with something cool close at hand — was proof enough that, yes, “Life Can Be Beautiful.” 


Bill Moeller is a former entertainer, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper and pilot living in Centralia. He can be reached at