Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

Christmas Vespers in Oysterville

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Christmas 2009

If you count a generation as twenty years, the Oysterville summer vesper services have spanned two of them!  By now, if you say “vespers” to anyone who lives in the area, they automatically think of music and the little historic church across the street from our house.  They might even think “three o’clock on Sunday.”  That kind of association says “tradition” in the truest sense of the word!

So… when Diane Buttrell mentioned Christmas Vespers and the Bayside Singers in the same breath, I knew exactly what she was talking about.  It will happen at 3:00 next Sunday, December 17th, at the Oysterville Church.  It won’t involve a “service”… not exactly.  Although there will be at least one minister involved – Barbara Bate, who will be wearing her pianist hat and accompanying the singers.

Christmas 2008

And it won’t be a “performance”… not exactly.  Although the beloved Barbara Poulshock will, indeed, be directing the Bayside Singers in several Christmas presentations and there will be two solo offerings, as well.  Teresa Goodwin will be singing ” Pie Jesu” and her father, Dobby Wiegardt, also a member of the Bayside Singers, will do his traditional reading of the Christmas Story from the book of Luke.

Welcome, All!

There may be a few more surprises in store (as anything ‘Christmas’ should always include), but organizer Diane is quick to point out that the stars of the afternoon will be the audience, themselves. In concert (so to speak) with the Bayside Singers, it will be all of us who will “make the rafters ring” with the old, familiar Christmas carols.  Call it a sing-along or a performance or a service or whatever you like!  Just come on to Oysterville a week from today.

How I hope the church is full-to-overflowing and that our voices are heard from one end of the village to the other – and even out onto the bay!  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” begins the 100th psalm.  Yes!  Let’s!

Taking A Stand

Friday, December 8th, 2017

This afternoon at three o’clock, a small group of people will be gathering at Jack’s Corner in Ocean Park to display their solidarity with our Hispanic community.  Some will carry signs.  All are protesting the siege upon our neighbors that is being carried out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the dreaded gestapo-likened force known simply as ICE.  All of us are invited to join them.

The group had hoped to gather in Okie’s Sentry parking lot, but the owner refused permission, telling them that “getting involved—could be bad for business.”  Never mind that at least two of the arrests by ICE in recent months have taken place in that very parking lot. According to the woman who spoke with him, “The owner said he shared our concerns but his father and grandfather had made it a policy not to get politically involved which I didn’t find too heartwarming……three generations of men unwilling to take a stand.”

All of which begs the question that ICE agents seem to operate out of that very parking lot.  (When concerned citizens asked last summer if Okie’s couldn’t ask ICE agents to leave, the assistant manager said the parking lot was open to the public so the federal government could not be barred.)  Was that staying uninvolved?  Was it considered good or bad for business?  Just sayin’…

I commend all of the folks who are gathering today.  I understand that some signs will say “50 Good Neighbors Taken by ICE !!” and “Tell Congress the Peninsula needs our Hispanic workers”.  There will be handouts available with contact information for Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, and Jaime Herrera Beutler.  Democracy-in-action doesn’t get very much more “grass roots” than in Ocean Park, Washington!

Oysterville Connections Past and Future

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Thanksgiving in Oysterville 2013

Even though there is the promise of a turkey dinner in the cafeteria and a hint of holiday atmosphere among the nurses and care assistants, it seems strange to wake up this Thanksgiving morning far away from home and family.  We are counting our blessings, nonetheless. Nyel and I are together and we are looking forward to better times ahead – surely more than many can say on this November 23rd in 2017!

And, even in Seattle, Oysterville has a presence!  Yesterday, our newest neighbor – so new we had not yet met him – came by to say hello!  Cardiologist Dr. Bert Green is now retired, at least from this Medical Center, but came in to introduce himself and have a short visit about Oysterville – a subject always near and dear to our hearts.  It was such a serendipity for him to stop by and we had to laugh that our first meeting was here in his old stomping grounds rather than over our shared fence in Oysterville.

The House of Neighbors Future

Later in the day Leigh Wilson stopped by – laden with imaginative gifts from paperback books and a warm fuzzy blanket (with a pass-it-on history), exotic snacks (organic pears and dark, dark chocolate) and great tales about big city living.  I can’t really remember how long ago Leigh moved from Oysterville – in some ways it seems ages and ages ago, but in others, it is like yesterday.

The House of Neighbors Past

No matter what, though, Leigh will always be a part of our Oysterville family – just as will Marilyn and Ann, Gail and Fred, Gretchen and Lisa, Ginger, Nancy, Hal and Diane, Larry and Marion, and Jean and John and the many who have “gone to their greater reward” as my mother used to say.  It’s another blessing we think of often – to live in a village where we know everybody and connections remain strong forever.  To have visits from a past and a future resident right here in the far-off University of Washington Medical Center, was an unexpected pleasure and a wonderful way to begin our stay here!!   The start to a Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

An Easy Choice… More or Less

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

I wish I could remember who that woman was.  She was ‘of an age’ – gray haired and soft spoken – and must have been a member of the Community Historians group.  We were on a field trip to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Motor Lifeboat School and were following several young uniformed men along the walkway down to the boats.

“Such tight little buns!” she said softly to me.  I don’t remember if I reacted or not.  No doubt, though, that I grinned hugely in agreement.  How could I not?

That little vignette came to mind the other day when I learned that The Oysterville Town Hall Lecture Series has invited us all (and the public, in general) to tour the United States Coast Guard Lifeboat Rescue School as the guest of Senior Instructor Chief Brandon LaVelle.  Those who attended the September 21st lecture at the Oysterville Schoolhouse had the pleasure of meeting Chief LaVelle and hearing about the incredible work of the young men stationed at Cape Disappointment.  Here is a chance to see it all ‘up close and personal.’

Unhappily, I’ll not be in attendance.  It’s going to be Nyel’s coming-home-from-the-hospital day and I’ll have to ‘depend on the kindness of others’ to learn how it went – buns or no buns.  In truth, I’ve been out there a number of times.  It was a favorite field trip for third graders during my teaching years, plus I think I’ve been twice with the Community Historians and maybe with another group, as well.

The tour is on Thursday, November 9th at 10 a.m. at the Coast Guard Station at Cape ‘D’.  Here are the Parking and Entrance instructions:  There is room for 24 cars directly in front of the station gate.  Room for more cars adjacent to Cape D Café.  (Discover Pass Required).  The gate will be opened at 10:00 only.  Sorry but late arrivals will not be admitted.  There is no charge for this event.

With My Arms Full of the 1960s!

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

“Think Small” by Noel Thomas

Actually, I’m not sure which was closer to overflowing – my arms or my heart!  Both were laden as we came home last night from the 8th Annual 6×6 Art Show and Auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  Two coveted art treasures plus a profusion of memories and the warm glow of a perfect evening!

“Something Happening Here” was the event’s theme, inspired by the current special exhibition, “Flashback: Remembering the 1960s.”  And remember we did!  Two pieces of artwork, especially, called out to me – Jean Nitzel’s “POW” and Noel Thomas’s “Think Small.”  And we came home with both!  Unbelievable!  Both artists are long-time friends. Both paintings brought a multitude of flashbacks and connections – how the pop art of the 60s influenced both Charlie and Marta in their chosen careers and visions of the VW bugs we had all through the 60s and beyond.

Security Guard Richard Schroeder

Auctioneer Bruce Peterson was in his element.  OMG!  Was he really at Woodstock?  Could he truly see back beyond all the gray heads in the audience and ‘know’ what we were up to all those decades ago?  He wasn’t more than three sentences into the evening before he had bound us together, friends and strangers alike, into one wonderful glow of shared remembrances.  We laughed and nodded knowingly whether we’d been to the Haight or not.

As Bruce brought each piece of art to life, he seemed to connect the dots that Museum Director Betsy Millard had expressed so cogently on their webpage: “Many of the artists have dug deep into their memories to create some remarkable works that touch on themes common to both the 1960s and today.  From music to social justice protests, the 1960s continue to inspire creative expression.”

“POW” by Jean Nitzel

And… speaking of ‘expression.’  There was never a change in Security Guard Richard Schroeder’s!  He is the master of ‘holding a pose’ and when he stopped by our table afterwards to say ‘hello,’ – without his shades and full of smiles — neither Carol nor Tucker recognized him, though they had been admiring his devotion to duty all evening long!

For a couple who are never lucky in matters of raffles and auctions, coming home with the only two works of art that we especially coveted was more than amazing.  I give a lot of the credit to the teeny tiny red origami cranes that dangled from my ears – a gift of ‘good luck’ from our friend Kenny who brought them to me from his recent trip to Japan.  It was the first time they had ventured out with me and I could almost feel the karma gathering.

An Origami Crane for Good Luck!

It was an evening to remember and, you can be sure, that the two pieces of artwork will be ‘Forever Reminders.’

Olè!  Let the fun begin!

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Tomorrow Night!

Latino Music!  Colorful displays!  Refreshments!  Piñatas and other surprises up for auction!  The Celebration of Hispanic Culture begins at seven o’clock tomorrow evening at the Chautauqua Lodge in Long Beach!  We are all invited to come to this gala fund-raiser to help “Peninsula Hispanic families disrupted by ICE detainment and incarceration” (says the poster.)

Sponsors of the event, Dr. Robert Brake and his group of “dogoodnics” urge everyone to come ready to party.   Wear your red, white, and green – the colors of the Mexican flag – and be prepared to bid on the fabulous piñatas and other items generously donated by community business   I understand there are season’s tickets for at least one on-going music series here on the Peninsula.  And, in case you are want to be ready for unexpected visitors, there are several donated stays at some of our spiffiest lodging spots here at the beach!

As it looks right now, Nyel and I will be bidding by proxy and clapping and cheering from afar. (Especially if there is a chicken piñata!)  So far, Nyel’s progress toward discharge from Emanuel is very slow.  I hope that we will not be here a full two weeks as we were last time.  It’s just too bad that the ‘commute’ home is just a little more than my advanced age can deal with.


Too, I was on the list of ‘speakers’ for the event – not that I had anything much to say.  I wanted to thank members of the Hispanic community for welcoming me into their homes and sharing with me so openly.  I believe that their generosity in allowing me to tell their ‘Stories from the Heart’ did, indeed, shine a light into the shadowy world of racism and prejudice that exists even here in Pacific County.

And, too, I wanted to thank all those who have so generously responded to the needs of our neighbors under siege.  The outpouring has been heartwarming and has made a huge difference in the day-to-day struggles of many families.  The People Power Immigrants Advocacy Group headed by Ann Reeves and the GoFundMe site at have reached out and given much-needed, direct help to many of the very families mentioned in “Stories from the Heart.”

My final thank-you would be to Editor Matt Winters, who listened last June to my “pitch” and allowed me to write the “Stories from the Heart” series for the Chinook Observer.  He has been supportive throughout.  And, while I’m on the subject – the last story of the series (#14) will be in next week’s paper, but I’ve already proposed to Matt that we revisit the series in the spring – along about the time of the Congressional deadline for dealing with the Dreamers.  I’d like to write about ‘what happened next’ and tell some of ‘the rest of the story.’

As we speak…

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

San Francisco, 1906

I don’t know how long it took for my grandparents to learn about the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.  Days, probably.  And it was weeks until my grandmother’s dear friend Leila wrote from Berkeley that she and her mother were all right, despite aftershocks that were still going on.  But that was before the internet and social media, before computers and television and even before telephones and electricity here in Oysterville.

Yesterday about mid-afternoon, I happened to look at Facebook for a moment. Am feeling very grateful for my health and safety – 10 fatalities, 1500 homes/buildings have burned down so far.  For a nano-second my mind went blank.  It was my step-daughter Marta.  But what was she talking about?  The hurricanes in the east?  Why?  But no.  She’s talking about fire…

Even as those thoughts tumbled through my head, I was scrolling down…  Seeing the videos.  Reading the headlines… NORTH BAY WILDFIRES.  NAPA, SANTA ROSA, SONOMA WILDFIRES RAVAGE CALIFORNIA’S WINE COUNTRY.  MARIN LEAPS INTO EMERGENCY MODE AMID FIRE CRISIS.

Santa Rosa, yesterday

I hunted for a fire map.  Were Nan and Jack safe in Healdsburg?  What about Averil and John in Sonoma?  What about Sarah and Bonnie – don’t they live in Santa Rosa?  I grew up in Marin County.   In San Rafael.  These days it’s less than an hour from Santa Rosa.  How many of my old friends still live in the area?  I sent out some emails.  Jack weighed in right away.  They are safe but the smoke is bad…

Marta’s FB site continued to send forth information.  Helpful information for fire victims and rescue-workers.  A LIST OF EVACUATION CENTERS.  Dozens of them already.  And evacuation centers for pets.  Even for horses.  In between she posted thank yous and messages of encouragement to the Fire Fighters.  You, too, Marta!  Thank you!  Thank you for being involved and for jumping in to help.

My mind flashed back to 1971 when Marta was still in high school and she cut classes to help a voluntary bird rescue effort. after the (then) largest oil spill in San Francisco Bay history.  At that time knowledge about caring for birds after such a disaster was limited, yet they saved 4,300 birds. (A group of those volunteers subsequently morphed into the International Bird Rescue in an effort to increase knowledge and research for such endeavors.) It was said to be one of the largest volunteer turnouts since the 1906 earthquake.

Marin County, 1971

And, now, it seems I’ve come full circle.  Blessings to the dear old Bay Area. And thank goodness for your fabulous, enduring community spirit!

Celebration of Hispanic Culture

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Poster at the Oysterville Post Office

Two weeks from tonight – Friday, October 20th – there will be a Fundraiser and Celebration in honor of our Hispanic Community.  For the many folks who have been reading my “Stories from the Heart” series in the Chinook Observer and who have been asking, “How can we help?” – this is your opportunity.

The event will take place at the Chautauqua Lodge in Long Beach from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and is a described on posters around town as: “Fundraiser to help peninsula Hispanic families disrupted by ICE detainment and incarceration.”  Included during the evening will be guest speakers, displays, refreshments, Latino music and community-sponsored piñatas for auction.  It is my understanding that there will be other auction items, as well, including several B&B donated gift certificates.


Arrangements and planning have been done by Dr. Robert Brake, his wife Gwen, and their group of “DoGoodnics.”  According to Dr. Brake’s FaceBook site:  Here’s my short list of other things we need: 1. additional piñatas for auction, 2. Mexican art/artifacts for display, 3. Mexican table cloth(s), and donation jars (at least two).

Would also appreciate assistance with setup on Friday, October 20 at the Chautauqua, say 10 a.m.
Let me know what you can do to help. DoGoodnics hopes to raise $2000 to help Hispanics.
Robert and Gwen Brake 360-665-2784

Mark your calendar!  We’ll see you there!

Feeling Connected Here in Portland

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Maybe it has to do with ‘the seventh time’s the charm’ (although it occurs to me that maybe the expression is ‘the third time…).  No matter the reason, we seem to have had more connections between the beach and Emanuel Hospital in Portland this time than is usual.  Not that our good friends here haven’t fussed and spoiled us in the past – but this time we’ve had connections of a different sort – or so it seems.

It began on Sunday when in walked Steve and Jeanne Bellinger, so out of context that I didn’t even recognize them for a second!  “Wrong hospital!” I thought!  It’s not every day that your Primary Caregiver and his Lab Technician Bride come calling from three hours away.  Wow!  Seems they were on a sort of’ busman’s holiday trek, visiting friends and family members who were in various care-giving institutions in the Portland area.

Dr. Paul’s Automobile on the Right – Ilwaco 1924

Their visit reminded me in a weird way of stories I used to hear about Dr. Paul who was the only physician on the Peninsula when my mother was a little girl.  He lived and had an office in Ilwaco and mom remembered that he would ride his horse to Oysterville if there was a serious enough situation to warrant it.  By the time she was thirteen, however, he had an automobile according to information about the photo of Ilwaco’s main street on the Fourth of July, 1924.  However, it’s been a while since doctors have made house calls.  I think a hospital visit by the Bellingers was even better!

They brought Nyel a gift – a cheerful strand of fall leaves created by the crafty Jeanne.  They found the perfect place to hang it – and from the compliments of the staff, we know it’s the best room decoration around!  We visited for quite some time – heard about Steve’s aborted Pacific Crest trek and about daughter Hope’s surprise visit home from college last weekend.  And, Steve mentioned that it was here at Emanuel that Ben Supernowski spent 47 days in the trauma unit in 2010/2011.  “There’s a plaque down there in the main hall telling about him,” Steve said.

So, yesterday we went down to the third floor on one of our walks to take a look at the plaque.  We found it about three-quarters of the way along the central corridor – Ben, smiling cheerfully with the commentary about his horrendous ordeal written below.  His recovery was, indeed, a miracle.  And to think that he is now out of college, married and beginning his career as a minister!

Ben’s Story

Later that afternoon, Ann Skelton popped in.  “I just came in the hospital for an X-Ray and knew from Sydney’s blog that you were here, she said.  Although we know that Ann’s primary residence is here in Portland, our connection is through various Peninsula activities and events – Community Historians, a mutual interest in Pacific County zoning activities, yearly shenanigans at CPHM’s 6×6 art auction, etc. etc.  We visited about “stuff” – the progress of the new Seaview approach sign, the amazing Kaye Mulvey, and the weather, fires, and other phenomena that have made this summer a tough one.

And I haven’t even mentioned the phone calls and email messages from friends here in Portland and at the beach – staying in touch, offering assistance or distractions or “whatever you need.”  We feel well and truly cossetted!  (Don’t you just love that word!)

…and the beat goes on…

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Celebrating Poetry in Oysterville

50% Hippie!  That’s what my test results were for one of those dimwitted FaceBook quizzes with the alluring (not!) title, ‘How Hippie Are You?”  Fifty percent seems about right. I’m pretty much a hippie in spirit but not in practical application.

Truth to tell, the hippie generation came too late for me.  I was already a wife/mother/teacher living in the East Bay by the time the Summer of Love came along – not inclined to be hanging out in the Haight-Ashbury or in Golden Gate Park.  On the other hand, the Beat Generation was a little too early for me.  I was a junior in high school when Allen Ginsberg’s Howl was published, and a foray into San Francisco was generally a shopping trip with my mom, not an evening in North Beach at the City Lights Book Store.

Tod Marshall, Poet Laureate of Washington State

But, in both cases, I was in agreement with almost everything about those countercultural movements.  Almost.  I was too uptight to try the drugs, a bit leery of the free-love movement and certainly not comfortable piercings and tattoos – but grew my hair long, and had a wardrobe that featured black skirts and sweaters as well as layers of diaphanous scarves and colorful ankle-length dresses.  I embraced the music, the literature, the art, and the world of ideas that both the ‘beats’ and the ‘hipsters’ shared.

I thought about all of that yesterday afternoon, knowing that the “Celebration of Poetry” was taking place at our house in Oysterville.  Right up my alley!  Right in my house!  And… I was missing out once again.  Not because I was too early or too late this time around.  I was 100% present at Nyel’s bedside and 100% where I wanted to be – no question about that!  And thanks to Tucker’s photos and the magic of cyberspace, it might actually have been a 150% situation anyway!