Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

“If you don’t like the weather…

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

…just wait a minute.”  Those have been watchwords about our Peninsula weather for as long as I can remember.  Between that rather flippant saying and my childhood memories of Old Jimmy Anderson’s daily (rain or shine) prediction, “Looks like more rain coming,” I don’t put much faith in the weather forecasts.  The safest way of considering our weather from my point of view is “what you see is what you get.”

Back in the day, when I was first teaching here, school closures because of snow and ice were called on the days when the school bus couldn’t get up Sahalee Hill.  The Director of Transportation — for years it was Bob Slagle — would do a test run about five in the morning and would make the call.  Sometimes it would be a delayed opening to give things a chance to warm up and melt.  Sometimes it was an all-day closure — a go-out-and-make-a-snowman-day for kids and a day for working parents to do the day-care-scramble.  Before computers and cell phones, we were all notified by land-line-telephone and, if we were part of the “telephone tree” we spent a busy few minutes calling to notify colleagues or parents who would then make their own calls.


I don’t know how it all works these days.  My impression is that school closures are made more frequently and not necessarily by a reality check but, more likely, by paying heed to the online weather forecasts.  Granted, the weathermen are more up-to-the-minute and more accurate these days, but I still get the feeling that we all carry the “better safe than sorry” mantra a little too far.

Or… am I falling into that old person’s refrain: “I used to walk five miles through deep snow to get to school…”  Probably so.  And, as far as I know, there haven’t been any rumblings about school closures this week.  Not yet.  On the other hand, the opening session of Community Historians 2020 has been postponed from tomorrow (January 15th) to the following Wednesday when it will be combined with Session Two.   I have to confess, I’m delighted.  It’s been a long time since I’ve made a snowman…  We can only hope.


And speaking of the democratic process…

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Charlie and Marta, Yesterday in L.A.

The weekly phone conversation (a three-way, free, conference call) with my “kids” always involves a political component of some kind.  Happily, we are all of the same mind philosophically, Marta being perhaps the most liberal, and both she and Charlie politically “involved” in one way or another.  Both are well informed and Charlie happens to live in Adam Schiff’s district which, somehow, makes me feel more closely aligned with his present impeachment responsibilities.  A bit of a far-fetched idea, but there it is.

Alice and The Dodo (speaking of caucuses)

Last night, the conversation got around to the primaries and I mentioned Washington’s caucus system which Marta didn’t know much about and when Charlie asked when that was happening, I couldn’t really answer.  So after we had hung up, I looked it up.  Or tried to, and found that the Democrats will be voting in a regular presidential primary this year for the first time ever.  The Republicans, apparently, have been using a combination of the primary and caucus systems for some time.  2020 will be the first time that both parties in our state have used the primary system for a presidential election.

Once again, I wonder how that got by me.  The Seattle Times article that popped up on my screen was dated April 9, 2019!  The reason is probably a no-brainer – too much cost for too little participation.  I’m quite sure it’s the right decision, but I did love the opportunity to hear various viewpoints and to have a chance to express my own.  It always seemed to me to be an excellent method for ensuring some meaningful dialogue among voters and, hopefully, a better informed electorate.  On the other hand, the 2016 caucus I attended didn’t feel as though there were enough participants — at least not here on the Peninsula.  I surely hope that changing to the primary system increases voter involvement.

Fortunately, we still have a lot of time to gear up — the date of our primary will be March 10, 2020 — just a month after the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary.  Presumably the early date will give Washington state a  greater influence on the nomination process.  Go Washington!

The Best Theme Yet: “My Home Town”

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

The Announcement

Tonight is the 6×6 auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Foundation — the big annual fundraiser for the support of their exhibition programs.  A worthy cause but, more than that, a wonderful event starring our local art community.  Nyel and I have again reserved a table for six and are looking forward to an evening “out on the town.”

Appropriately enough, the theme of this year’s 6×6 event is “My Hometown.”  It’s a great theme, as always, and lends itself to every interpretation imaginable. It can be a literal interpretation like Jeanne Nitzel’s “My Hometown, Long Beach, Wa c. 1950s” or fanciful like Richard Schroeder’s “Mouse House” showing a big chunk of cheese inhabited by chunky little mice.  If you (like us) didn’t get to see the submissions during last month’s display at the Heritage Museum, take a look right now at the CPHM website preview:×6-art-show-and-auction/

My own preferences seem to gravitate to the historic themes — particularly as related to the bay or ocean.  And, I have to admit that I’m biased in favor of the many artists I know personally.  It’s probably fortunate that our neighbor Tucker Wachsmuth did not do a painting specifically of Oysterville.  My actual hometown done by an artist who is also a neighbor would probably put me over some edge.  And it definitely would threaten the precarious Stevens financial balance.

As it is, Nyel and I have had several serious discussions, full of phrases like:  “…we’re pretty much tapped out this year.” and “…we really don’t have any wall space left.” and “…but it’s all for such a very good cause.”  Your guess is as good as mine on what will happen when we have paddles in hand and Auctioneer Bruce Peterson starts his hypnotic patter!  Whatever the result though, it’s bound to be a great evening of elbow-rubbing with the local glitterati,  delicious refreshments, good company, and lots of laughter and enthusiasm.  (And high hopes that Security Guard Richard Schroeder remains upright and at the top of his form.)



Our little candle continues to glow!

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Screenshot of NYTM online article by McKenzie Funk

This morning’s email was full of commentary and requests from friends and from strangers — even one from a journalist/immigrant activist in Spain about my 2017 series “Stories from the Heart” written for the Chinook Observer.  When Editor Matt Winters and I first talked about the possibilities, I remember saying, “Erin Glenn and I have an idea… Maybe we can light a little candle to illuminate what our own Hispanic community is enduring… Maybe we can help…  Maybe…”

Screenshot of NYTM article by McKenzie Funk

And so we lit that candle.  The fourteen stories appeared in the Observer each week from July 26 through October 25, 2017.  They attracted the attention of the big city newspapers in Seattle and of the international media, as well.  An Aljazeera news station in Mexico interviewed a wife and mother from Ocean Park who had been deported by Ice.  BBC did a spectacular film which featured local fisherman “Rosas” as well as Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright and others.  And an investigative reporter for the New York Times Magazine, McKenzie “Mac” Funk, came to the Peninsula several times to talk to victims, advocates, onlookers and law enforcement.  And to learn more about ICE and their methods.

Mac’s story, “How ICE Picks Its Targets in The Surveillance Age” has been long in the making.  Yesterday, he sent me the link to the online version:  The “hard copy” version will be published Sunday, October 6.

Mario – Screenshot from NYTM article by McKenzie Funk

The article is focused on what happened (and is still happening) right here on the Long Beach Peninsula — mostly at the Port of Peninsula in Nahcotta and in Ocean Park — but in all our other communities, as well.  The article is long and detailed and frightening.  My eyes filled more than once as I read, remembering when Erin Glenn and I first approached the families who agreed to be interviewed.  Their fear and their bravery and their hurt were palpable.  I’m so glad their stories are reaching an audience wider than we had ever imagined.  And, of course, I hope the ripple-effect continues until change is effected and we can all say, “We helped.”

Let’s Talk About Plan B…

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Which chapeau?

The count-down has begun!  One week from right now we will be scurrying to put the finishing touches on the house and garden — the last minute adornments to complete preparations for “Our Grand Affair.”  There will be balloons and flowers to put out, chairs to set up, tables to arrange with food and beverages, stage and P.A. system for the musicians and who-knows-what-all…

“What is Plan B?” Cate-the-Music-Mistress asked yesterday.  She was referring, of course, to the weather forecast — cloudy with morning showers and 40% chance of rain.  In Oysterville, as in all of the Northwest, the weather needs to be factored in to any plans for an outdoors event.  Even for  (or maybe especially for) the 150th birthday party of a grand old lady.  In the belief that these walls really can talk, I asked the house, herself, what she’d suggest.   “Bring the party inside,” was the response!  I hoped it was actually the house that was answering — not Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.

Which footwear?

Two full sheet cakes, dozens of cookies, seven plus cases of bubbly beverages, sixteen musicians (and their instruments) and 200-or-so guests???  Yes, probably do-able if we cancel the house tours and just cozy up to one another upstairs and down.  Musicians in the library as they are for House Concerts, food and drink buffet-style in the dining room, people  on the stairs, standing, sitting on the floor and on whatever chairs and couches are available…  Yes.  It will probably work.

Not our first choice by any means.  I hope everyone (including those vacillating weather forecasters) are doing serious Sun Dances.  And, no matter what, I’m advising anyone who asks:  wear shoes that don’t mind being wet.  Even if we get a break in the weather, the lawns will no doubt be soggy…

Being Outnumbered and Loving It!

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

Photo by Tucker

Even when it’s the height of the tourist season, I do believe the critters far outnumber the humans in Oysterville.  Especially if you factor in the birds!  And the underground folks — like the mole people!  And I guess it’s because they outnumber us that they are  sort of cheeky.

Photo by Tucker

Today, for instance, two deer grazed in our garden.  They seemed to be working on the lawn so I didn’t bother shooing them off.  But, I did go outside and talk to them for a while.  They couldn’t have cared less.  That’s one thing about our Oysterville population of wild denizens — they aren’t all that wild.  They have learned that we are cupcakes when it comes to cohabitating.  We’d rather shoot with our cameras than with anything scary or lethal.

Photo by Tucker

Tucker is the best camera shooter I know of here in Oysterville.  He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and with the right camera.  (Some of us these days just have one camera — the one on our cell phone.  Not always the best choice, photo-wise.)  The lucky part of all that for the rest of us is that Tucker shares at the drop of a hat.

Photo by Tucker

The other thing is that there is a Wildlife Path that goes right through Tucker and Carol’s property.  Not that it’s marked.  But the bear and the deer and (if there were any) the antelope, know it’s there and they all (except the antelope) travel along it.  Back and forth they go, giving Tucker a chance to take his glorious photos.  And did I say that T and C put out wild bird seed every morning?  So between the four-footed people and the feathery winged ones. Tucker has a lot of subject matter at his fingertips.  Which he shares.  And some are right here on this page!



What’s in a name?

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Jay and Helper – 2018

It was at one of those “Oysterville Meetings” — you know, the ones that happen spontaneously and very often in the street — that the name of our 150th birthday bash for the house arrived.  Neighbor Tucker, house painter Jay, and I were talking about party plans.  Jay (whose last name is Short, though he is six-foot-a-hundred-and-something) is in the process of painting the east side of our house. It’s the final side over the last four years and I am, of course, eager that it be completed “in time.”

“It will be done in plenty of time for your Grand Affair,” Jay assured me.  Tucker and I laughed at that but Jay said, “that’s how I think of your party in my mind.”  And he went on to tell about a book that he had picked up at Powell’s years ago — a kid’s book that he read over and over again to his children when they were young.  “It’s a sort of a mystery.  The clues are in the pictures,” he said.  “It was called A Grand Affair or something like that.  You probably read it to your school kids,” Jay said.

By Graeme Base

The next day, he arrived with the book in hand.  The Eleventh Hour was its actual name, and the minute I saw the cover I remembered it perfectly!  “It was the mouse!  The culprit was the mouse!”  It’s a Graeme Base book — one of my all-time favorite children’s illustrators.  I sat down almost immediately and re-visited it cover to cover.

And… even though the title wasn’t quite as Jay remembered, he wasn’t far off at all.  On the first paragraph of the second page:
Now Horace was a clever lad; he planned his day with care,
Ensuring that his party would be quite a Grand Affair.

There it was!  The name that we hope will perfectly describe our grand old lady’s birthday celebration.  “Our Grand Affair!”  Thanks to Jay and hats off to yet another successful Oysterville Meeting!

Chickens, Tsunamis, and The Water Stash

Monday, August 12th, 2019

All In A Row

“What are all those bottles of water lined up by your back door?” our friend Mark asked one Friday night.  “Well…” I responded, “they began as Tsunami Preparation but have segued into Chicken Supplies.”  He nodded as if that made sense, and maybe it does.  Or not.  Definitely one of those it-is-what-it-is things.

There was a time when Nyel took the whole tsunami preparedness schtick very seriously.  He refitted his old backpack with an upgraded first aid kit, bought a backpack for me to replace the one I’d given to Goodwill thirty or forty years ago, and began stockpiling emergency supplies.  Well…  supplies of water.  He rinsed out used tonic water bottles and carefully filled them with refreshing Oysterville water, dating each bottle as it was placed on the pantry shelves.  Periodically, he would refresh and redate.  But mostly, there they sat.

Judging by the dates, he began the Tsunami Preparedness Program in 2001. It petered out in 2015 which was the year Nyel’s left leg was encased in a plaster cast from groin to ankle and he spent three months in a hospital bed.  One of my “other duties as assigned” (in addition to my Nurse Ratched responsibilities) was to take care of the chickens.

Pantry Shelves

Lugging food down to the coop wasn’t hard, but carrying buckets of water was.  So… I began taking and using those tsunami bottles.  As in, who wouldn’t?  That was in 2015…  and the beat goes on.  Today I refilled the empties (though I didn’t date them) and put some back on the pantry shelves — mostly to get them out of the way.

It’s not that I’ve given up on the tsunami — it’s just that the reality these days is, with Nyel’s bum leg it takes us the full twenty minutes just to get out of the house.  Never mind the provisions.  And, when you are in Oysterville, where to go in that time allotment is actually the first big question.  We have resolved that IF we can make it into the car in time, we’ll head for the highest nearby spot — the Oysterville Cemetery — and hug a tree.  If that doesn’t do it… well, we’ll end up where we hope to be eventually, anyway.

As for the water… any surviving chickens will be more than welcome to it.  (I wonder if I should be helping them with their bottle-opening skills.)


The Best Party on the Peninsula!

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

From the July 11th issue of “Coast Weekend”

I just love the Music in the Gardens Tour!  Yesterday was the “13th Annual” and it seemed to me that the entire Peninsula, from Stackpole to Sahalee, was in full party mode!  The sun was out!  The music was wafting!  The flowers were blooming!  There were goodies to eat!  And everybody but everybody was out in force!

I went with neighbor Carol Wachsmuth and we managed to visit all seven gardens and take time out for lunch, as well.  Despite stopping at every turn to greet and hug old friends, we had plenty of time to see the unusual and unique features of each garden.  The one thing I didn’t have time to do was take pictures, but images of  color, shape, texture, and most of all of perfection(!) will be in my mind’s eye for weeks to come.

“Sea Strings” – Bill and Janet Clark

At the Norcross-Renner’s  we lingered by the stunning heather bed and the beautifully but lightly “managed” woods between house and bay.  At the Pollock/Stevens garden in Ocean Park, we were impressed by the perfect plantings in the undulating free-form beds and the views of all of it from the deck above.  At Dawna and Terry Hart’s — shiny bits of glass in all the unexpected places and, of course, the “cat condo” where we stopped for a bit, hoping to meet its resident… but no such luck.

At Diane and Fred Marshall’s it was the view, the view, the view!  The weather cooperated fully and we could see to Saddle Mountain and back again where we stood surrounded by garden beds in perfect order — not a weed or a errant leaf in sight!  At Dave and Linda King’s we enjoyed each one of the eleven “patios” and admired all the tiny details of the Fairy Garden for a long time.  (Will Carol try something similar in the woods adjacent to her place?  Her grandchildren would be enchanted!)

We approached the end of our day with a mind-boggling walk around Deb Howard’s “Willapa Bay Heritage Farm.”  Both of us loved seeing all the varieties of chickens (Carol is our chief “chicken sitter” when we are out of town) but were curious as to their silence.  Farmer Nyel’s girls cluck and clatter constantly — to us and to each other — but Deb’s ladies made not a peep.  Nor did the  two pygmy goats which one of the worker-bees said were “borrowed” for the day, though there will eventually be resident goats.  As for the vegetables and fruits and herbs and flowers… we were told that there will eventually be a retail produce stand on the property.  Stay tuned.

The most serene and rejuvenating garden we saved for last.  Steve McCormick and John Stephens’ “Bayside Garden” felt like a welcome retreat from the day’s bustle.  Though it was late in the afternoon, many people still strolled along the shady paths among rhododendrons and stately trees on this elegant property.  Sitting with the owners on their deck overlooking the bay was the perfect ending to the best party on the Peninsula!  Thank you homeowners, gardeners and Water Music Society — once again you have outdone yourselves!


Happenings in the ‘Hood

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Dell’s House?

The first thing I noticed as I drove into town the other day was a neat and tidy looking tent in front of Tucker’s boathouse.  I was immediately bombarded by two thoughts — first that Dell had finally moved in for good and second, that Tucker’s collecting had seriously overflowed. In my heart of hearts, though, I knew the truth… that the sheetrocking of his new Pinball Arcade is about to happen.

Meanwhile… I sorta like the Dell fantasy.  Dell is a long-time friend of Tucker’s who lives in Oregon and comes visiting now and then.  Almost always there is a project going on at the Wachsmuth house and Dell is a willing and very helpful volunteer — especially if it involves electricity which is his area of expertise.

Hampson House, June 11, 2019

I think it was in May that Dell was here for a full week helping with the wiring of the aforementioned arcade.  I remember that he went home on a Saturday because, he told me:  “I promised my wife I’d be home for Mother’s Day.”  But… soon afterwards, Dell was back again “to finish the job!”  What a guy!

In reality (and as I suspected) the tent is being used as extra storage while the sheetrocking happens.  Tucker gave me a peek under the tent flap.  Wow!  Chock-a-block full!  But, even more amazing was that Tucker already had the tent.  In fact, has two of them and their acquisition is yet another Tucker story… Ask him sometime.

The other change in the neighborhood was the progress on the Hampson House.  If you can call disappearing parts “progress.”  The upstairs is now just a memory except for a few two-by-fours here and there.  I imagine that they will be incorporated into the remodel somehow.  It’s been quiet over there — no worker bees for several days.  Perhaps it’s the misty-moisty weather that has called a temporary halt to things.  Or perhaps they are waiting for a delivery of materials.  I’m sure the goings on (or not) will be the subject of speculation throughout the summer.

Ready for Summer!

At our house, all is as it has been except for the addition of four inviting new lawn chairs — fake Adirondacks in bright colored plastic.  They do cheer me up and I hope the summer will be such that they will see a lot of use.  Nyel has informed me that, once he gets home and weather permitting, he intends to spend a good deal of wheelchair time in the garden in the next few months!  So, now that we have seating for visitors, hope y’all can come and set a spell!