A Recurring Theme In This Sheltering Time

Barb Getting Us Ready for Our Grand Affair, 2019

As I’ve visited with people during these months of sheltering — by phone or zoom or text or email — the conversation often turns to frustrated comments like, “I can’t seem to get anything done”  or “I’m just not motivated” or “I think I’m suffering from ennui.”

I try to put my finger on why that’s such a common theme.  I guess it’s the not knowing.  The not being able to make definite plans.  The feeling that we are wasting precious time but don’t know how to remedy the situation.  But, when I think about it, that’s what the story eventually becomes for all of us if we live long enough.  By the time we get to our mid-eighties (if we are so fortunate) all of those uncertainties are what life is all about.  And to compound matters, we often have health issues that put a whole new level of difficulty into the mix.

Summer for Barbara is all about Sailing

And yet… there are things that I, for one, would like to “accomplish” before they’re beyond my abilities.  Like clean up my files — all the file cabinets full of research materials and all the online files that are redundant, incomplete, waiting to be trashed or put someplace for posterity.  So it was, when Nyel asked me what I want for my birthday, my immediate response was, “A personal assistant.  For about three weeks.”  Knowing that such a possibility is slim to none.

Barb and John’s Dog

“You need Barbara!” was his immediate response.  And he was right on the money.  Barbara Canney was hired by Willard in 1979 to catalogue the Espy Family papers.  It was to be her thesis project for her degree at The Evergreen State College. But it extended way beyond that.  She lived here on the Peninsula for three years (or was it five?), she became my closest friend, and we ended up turning over 70 bankers boxes of files to the Washington State Historical Society.  Barbara knows more about the Espy Family and their history than almost anyone else, including the family members, themselves.  YES!  She would be perfect!!!

Unfortunately, Barbara now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and aged dog, is sheltering like the rest of us, and is yet too young to qualify for early vaccinations.  Nyel contacted her anyway.  This morning she called me and we talked possibilities — maybe in the Fall after sailing season is over and she puts her boat up and, also it depends on the dog…  Meanwhile, I’m excited about the possibility and even a bit motivated to start the  project myself.   A bit.

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