Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

Coming Soon: Music in the Gardens!

Monday, June 19th, 2017

2017 Poster – Music in the Gardens

Never mind that the flowers may not yet be in bud.  And never mind that the musicians won’t be tuning up for another month or so.  It is time to mark our calendars for the Water Music Festivals BIG EVENT OF SUMMER – Music in the Gardens 2017.

It’s a one-day-only extravaganza scheduled for Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tickets don’t go on sale until July 10th, so mark that down, too.  And just as a reminder-to-self, jot down which of the locations you want to go to pick up your tickets – the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park, the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse on Sandridge in Long Beach.  It won’t be until you purchase said tickets ($20) that the whereabouts of the gardens and the whoabouts of the musicians will be revealed.

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

What I’ve gleaned, so far, is that there will be eight gardens on the tour this year and they will be located from Oysterville to Chinook!  There will also be (for an extra contribution) a specially decorated trolley to take you from garden to garden if you so desire.  And, as if you may not already be on sensory overload, there will be a raffle of selected works of art (perhaps garden related) on display at one of the venues.

This is the 11th annual Long Beach Peninsula Garden Tour.  If music and gardens and art are not quite enough for you, consider this:  the event is a fundraiser for the Water Music Society whose mission is to bring classical music to the Peninsula.  Each year, part of the money raised by this particular event is earmarked for the Ocean Beach School District Music Fund.  (Last year that amount was $5,000 — hardly small potatoes by anyone’s gardening standards!)

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

Oh… and one last thing.  Organizer Nancy Allen says that many of the gardens this year have “a water orientation” – to the Columbia or to Willapa Bay or, perhaps, to Loomis Lake.  She is careful not to reveal too much… not yet!  So, mark those calendars.  Quick!

I Stand Corrected!

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

From the June 7, 2017 Chinook Observer

I was expecting a call from my friend Linda so, when the phone rang, I answered with a little bit of a goofy-sounding “hello-o-o.”  (It could have been worse!)  Imagine my surprise when a pleasant sounding male voice said, “Sydney Stevens?  This is Sheriff Scott Johnson.”  Actually, he may not have said the “Sheriff” word but there was no question in my mind who he was.

There was also no question in my mind concerning why he was calling.  The Observer came out yesterday.  And, since it was the first Wednesday of the month, my column was on page four in all its glory.  “Is Pacific an ersatz* county?” was the title and it was poking a little fun (I thought) at a few of the more peculiar (in my opinion) occurrences, historically and recently, in Pacific County.  I might also mention here that the asterisk referred readers to synonyms for ‘ersatz,’ some of which in the context of Pacific County might not be too politically correct.

Right at the start of the conversation (which, I hasten to point out was friendly, low-key, and almost enjoyable), the Sheriff said he’d like a chance to talk to me and offered to take me to lunch.  I don’t know exactly how I responded, but I demurred and he went on to other things.  Mostly, we talked about the MRAP which Scott (I think we are now on a first-name basis) pointed out was all about the safety of his officers – a point I don’t take exception to in the least.  But, when the County is poor-mouthing and raising taxes, I do take exception to spending 8K on a war surplus vehicle that might be too heavy for certain of the 62 bridges of our county.

MRAP

Aaahhh!  There was the problem.  Scott told me that he was unaware of that problem (I right away declined to reveal my sources, though truth-to-tell he didn’t ask) and went on to explain that he’d been around dump-trucks all his life and many of them, when loaded, weigh more than the 18-ton MRAP.  I thanked him for pointing that out.

We went on to talk about the problems, logistically, of law enforcement coverage in the County.  And we established some ‘mutual points of agreement’ (for lack of a better description). He told me how he had driven through Oysterville just recently (“with my window down”) and how he had finally met Dan Driscoll (“seemed like a nice guy”) at a meeting at the Ocean Park Firehall.  For my part, I told him of the years I was involved in the D.A.R.E. program as a teacher in the Ocean Beach School District. And I told him how, a long time back, Nyel and I had hosted a community gathering in our home for then Sheriff John Didion and Deputy Ray Harrison to talk with us about better coverage here – the idea of neighborhood watches etc.

Sheriff John Didion – 2003

The conversation ended with Scott saying I’d given him one concrete idea: he intends to add a bit of information about the MRAP to other subjects in future talks with the community.  I’m not sure if he said he had no idea people were interested in the vehicle or if he was indicating that he wanted to straighten out any misinformation about it ‘out there.’  Probably a little of both.  He also reiterated his lunch invitation.  I can’t imagine ever taking him up on that but, as they say… never say never.

Last night, everybody knew our name!

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Nanci and Jimella’s Cafe

The thing about living in a small community – I’m talking the ‘greater’ community of the Long Beach Peninsula – is that, no matter where you go, you know someone.  At the bank, the drugstore, the DMV office, the post office – everyplace and on every errand – you will see someone you know.  It’s at once reassuring and annoying.

The reassuring part is that if you fall down in a dead faint someone can tell the EMTs who you are (although they, too, will probably know you.)  The annoying part (only slightly) is that everything takes a long time.  No dashing into the grocery store to grab a forgotten item and out again in two minutes flat.  Nope. You can pretty much count on being waylaid for a brief chat.  Or two or three.

Nanci at Work – May 25, 2017

It’s a bit more unusual, however, to go to the spiffiest restaurant at the North End at beginning of a huge tourist weekend and know someone at almost every table!  But, so it was last night in Klipsan Beach at Nanci and Jimella’s Café.  And if we didn’t know them, they seemed to know us.  It was the most remarkable feeling and, without a doubt, almost everyone in the restaurant felt the same way.

There was table-hopping and waving and hugs and laughter and Nanci Main, of course, was right in the thick of it.  The community had gathered to say “goodbye” to Nanci-the-baker-the-chef-the-standard-bearer-of-fine-dining! It was one of our last chances to say goodbye to the quintessential Queen of Hospitality here at the beach.

Wishful Thinking?

Saturday will mark Nanci’s last official workday.   After 45 years in the restaurant biz – most of them spent in three locations (Shelburne, Ark, Café) here on the Peninsula – Nanci is retiring!  The restaurant is for sale and Nanci is on to other things.  She promises some “pop-up” appearances now and then, like a dinner in June in honor of her dad who was a WWII veteran.  And she may do a bit of traveling.

But, knowing Nanci, she won’t be idle, probably not for a minute.  Giving to others is what she’s all about and I have no doubt that she will reinvent herself so she can continue doing just that.  Meanwhile, this weekend the community is gathering to say thank you and wish her well.  We’re so happy that we were there too!

One Reception Plus One Ribbon-Cutting

Friday, May 12th, 2017

From the CPHM website

This weekend, like almost every other one around this neck of the woods, is starting off in grand style.  Tonight, an opening and reception at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and tomorrow afternoon a ribbon-cutting at the Chinook School.  Both events have significant connections to our local history.

The exhibition, opening tonight at CPHM with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00, is called “Oregon’s Botanical Landscape: An Opportunity to Imagine Oregon before 1800.” It consists of 82 paintings representing the native plants of Oregon’s eight Ecoregions. The artist, Frances Stilwell, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and, two years after receiving her MS degree in Botany-Biophysics, moved to Oregon in 1969.  In order to define her new home, she began to learn about and draw Oregon’s native plants.

By Frances Stilwell

Before 1800, of course, there was no Oregon State or even an Oregon Territory.  The region beyond the Mississippi River was simply known as “The Western Frontier” so it makes sense that five of those Oregon ecoregions of today extend into Washington State.  As CPHM Director Betsy Millard says about the exhibit, “It reinforces our shared natural history that binds us regardless of state lines.”

The 1:00 P.M.  ribbon-cutting tomorrow at the newly restored Chinook School represents more recent history. It’s a piece of our community story that could easily have been lost in the name of ‘progress’ were in not for the collaboration of the Ocean Beach School District, the Port of Chinook and the formation of the Friends of Chinook School.’  Since 2004, the FOCS have worked toward this culminating event.

Christmas 2016

The present-day school building in Chinook was the third to be constructed on the site once known as “Gile’s Woods.”  The first school in that location was described by Lewis R. Williams his 1924 book, “Chinook by the Sea:”

 In 1892, the school which had been conducted for many years on the Prest Place was now moved over to the Cross Road in Gile’s woods to accommodate the children of parents who now moved to Chinook to engage in the fishing industry.  A large playground, consisting of an acre, donated by Mr. Gile, was cleared in the thick stand of spruce trees and a neat little school building erected near the road.  For years, this little building served as a community house to the country round about…

Before founding the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Angus Bowmer taught at Chinook School

By 1899, the student population had outgrown the small one-story school and a two-story building was constructed to replace it. The third and final Chinook School was built in 1927. During its construction, some classes were held in a large building that had been constructed in 1924 – a building that would eventually become the school’s gym.   Neither of the buildings, now renovated, have been used as part of the public school system since consolidation in 1966.  The plan is for both to continue in the “community house” tradition described by L.R. Williams.

How many times in one lifetime?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Hanford Tunnel Collapse – May 9, 2017

I had never heard of “down-winders” until my friend and neighbor Carol Nordquist was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few years ago.  It was her younger sister, ‘Aunt Becky,’ who said, “Oh yes.  We grew up in Walla Walla.  Our family are all down-winders and cancer is what we die of.”

These thoughts came flashing to mind yesterday afternoon when I happened to see a FaceBook message from Joanne Rideout:  RICHLAND, WA (KPTV) – An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington after a portion of a tunnel that contained rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed.

Crude Oil Pipelines in the U.S.A.

No matter how much reassurance we’ve been given about safety precautions since the site opened in 1943 – no, wait!  It was a secret until well after the war.  Part of the Manhattan Project, you know.  It was during the Cold War (1947-1991) that site expanded to its current size of 586 square miles – roughly equal to half the area of Rhode Island – and sometime during that period that we were told “no worries.”

Hanford is currently the largest and most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, and despite the fact that it is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup, it has continued to leak radioactive waste into the soil and groundwater. As if all of that isn’t horrifying enough, Hanford offers a number of tours for members of the public, elected officials and their staffs, tribal officials, stakeholders, and others.  Plus, it’s on the Register of National Historic Places.  Just like Oysterville.  Go figure.

Safe?

What’s most incredible to me is that new and terrible corporate proposals continue to be promoted as “safe.”  Furthermore, we are told that the benefits far outweigh any possible negative consequences.  About the Dakota pipeline the developers told us it “wouldn’t just be an economic boon, it would also significantly decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil…”  About the proposed LNG terminal in Warrenton, just across the river, we were told…  “the West Coast needs foreign LNG to avert economic crisis, and this ‘clean’ fuel will serve as a ‘bridge’ to a renewable energy future.”

So far, our Astoria/Warrenton neighbors are holding firm and seem to be prevailing.  But how many more environmental safety battles will be lost in our lifetime?  How many Hanfords does it take?  How many down-winders?  And how many salutes to history and facility tours to assuage horrified consciousness? OMG!

Designed to be Functional?

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

I’m a great believer in the form-follows-function philosophy of art.  I love Eames chairs (like the one at Noel’s house) and the old Bell helmets (like the one I used to have in my motorcycle days.)  Clean lines.  Comfortable.  Useful.  Classic.  Right up there with ‘no-fuss-no-muss’ and ‘waste-not-want-not’ – also attitudes and lifestyles I believe in.

So, the discussion at our Friday gathering last night was of particular interest to me.  Among participants were several of the ‘usual suspects’ plus Tucker’s life-long friend, sculptor Eric Jensen and our neighbor Cyndy, CEO of the artist-in-residency program, Willapa Bay AiR.  Topics under discussion ranged from Oysterville happenings to public art installations.  We landed squarely on the Maya Lin Fish Cleaning Station at Cape Disappointment.

“It was never intended to be functional,” Cyndy said.  “Yes, it was,” I countered.  And we argued – not very vehemently because, as usual, I wasn’t too sure of my facts and everyone else stayed quiet.  (Doncha hate it when that happens?)  Besides, Cyndy said she was a participant in the Confluence Project ( a multi-location interpretive art project which included the fish-cleaning station at Cape Disappointment) since its beginnings.

As I ruminated over our discussion this morning (and actually looked up the history of that controversial art installation), I thought about my brain.  And brains in general.  And the whole form-follows-function thing.  I’ve been told that we only use about one-tenth of our brain’s capacity.  I don’t have the brain power to even understand how that’s possible, let alone how efficient and useful the human brain design might be.

My thoughts wandered back to my elementary school days when we learned in Health Class that our bodies could be compared with automobiles.  I think the brain was the engine – the driving force.  After many decades of use and uncountable mileage, I’m sure my brain needs an overhaul.  It may be a classic design, but it’s not functioning to optimum capacity any more – if ever it was.  I am a failure at an intelligent argument.

Come to think of it, that never was my strong suit.  I have always been superior at waking up the morning after with a clear vision of what I should have said.  This morning, though, I relied on the good old internet to remind me what the intent of that fish station sculpture was.  The most recent article I could find was by Katie Williams and had appeared in the August 20, 2015 Chinook Observer.  Under discussion was the closure of the Maya Lin Fish Cleaning Sculpture.

In the article, Colin Fogarty, executive director of the Confluence Project, was quoted: “We’re on the side of the fishermen,” he said, while questioning the advisability of closing it “at the height of the fishing season, using that work of art as it was intended to be used.”

Unhappily, my only partially functioning brain doesn’t know the rest of the story.  Is Maya Lin’s sculpture still closed for use?  Or is it now back to functioning as intended?

Some Circles Have Sharp Corners

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Azmi Shawa

As I looked around the room yesterday during Azmi Shawa’s ‘Celebration of Life,’ I involuntarily took note of all the familiar faces in the crowd.  People we’ve known for years and years.  People ‘of an age’ – as was Azmi.  I couldn’t help but wonder which of us would be attending similar celebrations for the next in line.

And I thought about circles.   Congruent and concentric and intersecting circles like I learned about in Plain Geometry with Mr. Patterson in 1950 at San Rafael High School.  Circles of friendship and circles of influence, circles of sharing – the circle of life.  We encircled one another with our arms – hugs of caring and hugs of shared memories.

Willie Marsh

Not many hours afterward, Willie Marsh died.  This time, though, my thoughts cut right to the chase: “Too young!  Too many lives left to touch!  Too soon!”  Here was a circle that had an unbearably sharp corner.  Right now, it seems as though it’s a corner that can never be turned.  Perhaps the community’s many hugs will help — hugs for Berta and Marian and for all of Willie’s big family and many friends.

The Best Approach

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Jimmy Kemmer, Judy Heckes and ‘Aunt Rye’ at the Oysterville Approach, c. 1940

Here on the Peninsula, when we talk about one approach versus another, we usually aren’t talking golf strategies or planning a sales campaign.  We’re talking beach approaches – the traditional ingress/egress roadways to and from the ocean beach.

At Oysterville – and probably at other early settlements, as well – the approach road was originally constructed for wagons and stagecoaches that carried freight and passengers from one end of the Peninsula to the other.  Travelers journeyed along the only available north/south highway – the hard sands of the weather beach.  Each ‘approach’ was marked by a large, clearly visible sign constructed in the area of the primary dune.  Or, more accurately, as clearly visible as a sign could be made, considering the constraints of stormy weather, wind-blown sand, fog or any of the usual constraints and challenges.

Winter 1983 Sou’wester

Communities took pride in their approach Signs.  When I was a child, the sign said “Come Again” as you left Oysterville Road and drove onto the beach.  And, coming back, the big letters that spelled OYSTERVILLE may have been the first word I ever could read.  Community members took pride in constructing approach signs that were distinctive.  In 1983, the Sou’wester featured a photograph of Ocean Park’s “Sunset Arch” and provided the following information about it:

This old Ocean Park beach approach sign was dubbed the “Sunset Arch”. It stood at the east end of Bay Avenue and was erected in the spring of 1932. It replaced a weather-beaten sign which stood at the approach for many years. Two local clubs called the Nit-Wits, a men’s club, and S. I. O (Six in One), a women’s club, joined forces to build it. Club members were Les Wilson, Bob Delay, Henry Edmonds Jr., Bit Wins Sr., John Morehead Jr., Walker Tompkins, Lucille Wickberg (Mrs. Les Wilson), Edith Lundquist Winn (Mrs. Bill Winn), Alva Slagle, Nancy Peterson, Sharlie Peterson, and Edna Burden. Les Wilson says his club feted a fir tree, sawed the trunk into three pieces, and transported it to the dunes at the approach. After several failures, the sign was finally erected. Walker Tompkins painted it to read “Ocean Park” on the west side and “Sunset View” on the east side. Henry Edmonds says that Charles “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick set up his camera and waited for two hours to get a photograph of a car driving under it. This photo, without a car, was also taken by Fitzpatrick. The “Sunset Arch” finally rotted in the late 1940s and the sign was replaced by a new community group led by Lyle Clark in 1949. The new sign utilized the metal masts of the wrecked ship Arrow. One of the masts still stands, but it is now badly rusted. In December1981 the North Beach Peninsula Association instated a beautiful new sign at the beach approach.  The legend “Ocean Park, 1883, 46° 30′ W., 124°2′ N.” is etched in the wood. 

Long Beach Approach, Historic

I understand that nowadays, replacing an approach sign isn’t all that ‘easy.’  There are right-of-ways and easements and laws and liability issues to consider.  Estimates to replace the Seaview approach sign (damaged by a vehicle) are in the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars range.  In our complicated, litigious society, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) no longer exists and liability rather than visibility determines the best approach.  A sad commentary, indeed.

…and the town’s filling up!

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Headed for the Beach

In Oysterville, it feels a little like it did thirty or forty years ago when most of the part-time residents would show up on holiday weekends.  Nowadays, with our ever-increased mobility, home-owners and their friends and family seem to come and go whenever the spirit moves – not necessarily for special occasions only.  But… yesterday, as the town started filling up, I had a little bit of déjà vu.

            For starters, I think the Accuardi family is planning to be here in force to celebrate Fred and Gail.  They have sold their Red Cottage after twenty years of careful stewardship and their large family is gathering to wish them well and to say ‘arrivederci to Oysterville’ – at least to this chapter.  Martie and Steve at the Captain Stream house will continue the family’s connection with the village with energy, enthusiasm and next generations – “as God intended” as our friend Te would say.

Line-Up at the Dock

In the Red House (not to be confused with the Red Cottage) Cousins Abby and Dan Ronco and kids (the sixth generation of Espys) have arrived with friends.  Their plan is to have an Easter Egg Hunt throughout the town on Sunday.  I hope the weather cooperates, but knowing my intrepid cousins, a little rain and wind won’t slow them down.

Other folks are in town to take advantage of the long overdue clam season.  We haven’t been out but we understand the digging is great.  We’ve already been offered some freshly cleaned clams from neighbors Tucker and Carol!  (Sometimes there are advantages to being old or infirm.)

Beach Driving

And, of course, there are all of the ‘regulars’ –those spirited neighbors who are here every-weekend-no-matter-what. Plus, those who live here full-time but have been away for parts of the winter.  Add us all up and the town seems a-bustle.  As my folks used to say, “It feels like Old Home Week.”  Throw in a bit of intermittent sunshine and we can almost imagine that spring and summer are on their way after all!

Speaking of land and luck and the ‘p’ word…

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Croquet and Picnic, 2012

At our Friday Gathering last night, our upcoming 30th anniversary was mentioned.  Actually, it’s not for another six months but, given our slowed pace of mind and body these days, it’s probably time to start thinking about it.  We’ve talked vaguely about having a huge potluck picnic and just inviting all our friends – maybe announce it in the paper like people used to do in the old days.

“I’d be careful about the ‘potluck’ part of the announcement,” one of our wiseacre guests said.  “With marijuana legal these days, it’s hard to know what might be in that pasta salad Mable’s so famous for.”  We all laughed.  But… he might have a point.

We have attended (and hosted) a fair number of potluck meals over the last few decades and we’ve never been too concerned about the offerings.  But, we have noticed a recent trend toward labeling the ingredients.  It’s not unusual to see a recipe card attached to an inviting looking dish or even a slip of paper that says “gluten free” or “peanut butter frosting” in deference to people’s allergies and food restrictions.

All-time Best Selling Cookbook

So… what is the protocol, pot-wise?  Is it an unwritten rule these days that the Alice B. Toklas brownies be specifically labeled?  Or are we entering a phase where all our offerings should list the ingredients?  Probably not a bad idea.

As for the term potluck, who would have thought that its connotation could change so completely?  But, actually, the ‘traditional’ meaning we have come to understand – “a gathering where each guest contributes a dish of food, often homemade, to be shared” – is not the original meaning, anyway.

According to etymologists, the word pot-luck appears in the 16th century work of English writer Thomas Nashe and was used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest – the luck of the pot.” The sense “communal meal, where guests bring their own food,” originated in the 1930s during the Depression and was influenced by the word “potlatch.”  Who knew?   So now will its meaning segue again?

Picnic at the Tokeland Hotel

Which makes me think once more about Tokeland, the town across the bay named for Chief Toke of Chinook and Chehalis lineage.  Wouldn’t you think that someone from there would have been first in line to get a cannabis franchise when the law went into effect?  I mean… really!  Someone was missing the best (and easiest) marketing ploy ever.  And imagine what that would have done for potlucks in Tokeland.  The mind boggles.