Bill Moeller Commentary: Scraping the Barrel


Over the more than a dozen years I’ve been fooling people into the notion that I know what I’m doing, I’ve devised a method or two about filling up a space calculated to hold approximately 600 words.

That done, I can sit back for a few days before anxiety sets in again and I ask myself, “why in the world am I sitting in front of a computer screen when I’d rather be tending to the limited garden space that surrounds the mobile home I live in?” 

A system that eventually helps solve the problem is saving little bits and pieces gathered from the world around us until enough quirks and oddities can be put together to create at least a semblance of a column.

Shall we see if this turns into just such an accomplishment?

To begin, a typical Sunday morning at Chez Mollare consists of buying a copy of The Seattle Sunday Times — mainly for the six pages of comic strips included therein.

There’s also a special insert labeled “At Home in the Northwest.” And, recently, in a section called “The latest way to make money from your home,” we are told that we should rent out our pools and backyards.

Now why in the world didn’t I think of that? 

An example given was Vassil Ananiev, of Sherman Oaks, California, who is making $25,000 a month renting out his 2,000 square-foot home with a pool and cabana. My closest thing to a pool with water in it is a galvanized garbage can lid turned upside down on top of a pile of rocks accumulated from attempts to plant things in land left over from the last “Ice Age” in the Northwest and where birds, squirrels, mice and Sam quench their thirst.

Another item in the same issue compares gardening to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and that may not be very far off the mark.

On the subject of growing things, I can remember when a person could count on stores selling garden products such as watermelons being ripe. Such items weren’t picked in the field back then until they were ready to eat. Therefore, it was a surprise to me when I found exactly that in a small watermelon at a local supermarket. A week later, though, I threw out a cantaloupe from the same place because it was still green when I cut it open. It went into the garbage can after one bite. Examples such as that seem to remind me of the years — back when I was young — that ripe watermelons sold for four cents a pound. Of course, 65 cents an hour was a pretty good living wage then.

And here I pause to report some thievery.

I built and installed a tall post, intending to place a large pot planted with ivy or something similar at the top of it. I didn’t have a big enough pot that seemed suitable so I temporarily capped the post with an oversized ceramic frog. Wouldn’t you know, that frog disappeared sometime during a recent night! 

I had also collected a number of small angels — the kind you find in Goodwill stores (where I found most of mine) — and decided to group them together in a small community next to the back fence. I asked my son, Matthew, to paint a sign that identified the group as living in “Angeltowne, USA.” I thought it was kinda cute. So did the person who stole the largest of the cherubim in the shape of a tall lady angel playing a stand-up string bass instrument.

What sort of punishment would be suitable for such nocturnal thievery? My immediate suggestion has something to do with a never-ending residency in the Celestial City with a loudspeaker blurting out nothing but old Guy Lombardo recordings.

And before I close this column, my thanks go out to the City of Centralia for changing the sequence of the traffic light at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Johnson Road.

We who use that crossing frequently can feel a lot safer now.


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