Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

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!

Has decorum deserted Oysterville?

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Irregular Behavior from a Friday Night Regular

When the doctor’s office called Nyel at 10:00 Friday morning and said ‘they’ wanted him at the hospital in Portland by 2:00 we said, “We’ll do the best we can.”  Panic!  Kitchen to clean up.  Carpet to vacuum!  Bathroom to tidy!

It’s not that we have some sort of anal problem about leaving a “lived-in” look behind.  We had other things on our minds.  Two, in particular, were looming in our immediate future –  our usual ‘Friday Night’ gathering and our very unusual Sunday “Celebration of Poetry” – an event of some importance happening at our house involving three poets of note, an audience of thirty, a potluck supper and… Damn!  Not only were we going to miss both of these events – we were not going to have time to prepare so that someone else could play host and hostess.

Friday Night Gathering – Photo by Tucker

I scurried and prioritized.  Pack a bag for an indefinite stay.  Help Nyel get up and get dressed. Deal with the chickens.  Load the dishwasher.  Call Carol and Tucker.  Put extra leaves in the dining room table.  Show Carol what needs to be done for Sunday.  Ask Tucker to help Charlie Talbott to schlep chairs and move furniture tomorrow.  Load the car.  Out of the village by 10:40. Whew!

A call from the doctor’s office a half hour from home – no hurry.  We have a bed secured for you. Damn!  Mental apologies to Carol and Tucker.  We could have taken longer and left things in better shape!  I might have had time to grab my earrings.  Naked ears are the least of our worries…What else did we forget?  So sorry to leave in such a rush.  So disappointed not to meet the Poet Laureate of Washington – I had so many questions to ask him…

Cruise control to Emanuel Hospital.  One stop on the way to get sandwiches at Safeway.  One other pee stop in Longview.  (Damn diuretics said Nyel.)  Arrival to find everyone expecting Nyel – nurses we know, doctors we know, a menu all too familiar.  Ditto the all too familiar cot for me.

Thank goodness for the best neighbors EVER!  Tucker even sent photos of the Friday Night gathering.  All we can say is… any dignity and decorum that was ever in Oysterville is now the center of all sorts of attention here in Room 5301.  I hope they get him back on his feet before Oysterville really tips over an edge!

An Emotional Meeting

Thursday, August 31st, 2017


There was frustration, there was anger, there were tears but, understandably, no laughter at last night’s ACLU People Power meeting in Long Beach.  The group gathered to assess the month’s progress with regard to assisting Hispanic neighbors as they struggle with the continuing ICE crackdown in our area.

First was a report about particular families who have been targeted – those whose members have already returned to Mexico – either voluntarily or by deportation –  those who have been bonded back to the community, and those who have been recently arrested.  The two latest arrests were both grandfathers – men who have been here long enough to raise children and whose children now have children.  According to the report, there has been no let-up in the surveillance of the Peninsula by ICE.  The number of those taken to date is 32 – “perhaps more.”  Over half have been arrested since January.

At the Northwest Detention Center – Photo by Stephanie Serrano

Another report dealt with those who had joined in a protest earlier this month at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.  Again, for the benefit of first-time attendees, the ‘process’ of arrest/detention/deportation was reviewed and it was pointed out that all of those arrested here are taken first to the Portland ICE office, for reasons that are unclear.  The Seattle office has no apparent presence in the process for our neighbors who are under arrest…

That discussion led to the article in yesterday’s Chinook Observer by Amy Nile.  “I’m so embarrassed by it,” said the ACLU volunteer who writes press releases for the group.  “I can’t tell you how many conversations she and I had.  Even so, there was information that was printed in the paper that was wrong.  Don’t they realize that we’re talking about people’s lives here?  I feel so responsible…”

“But at least they are doing some investigative reporting,” said another person.  “It’s just too bad they couldn’t get all the facts right.  Hopefully, they’ll do more and it will get better.”  Especially disturbing to the group was the statement in the article that arrests were being made in South Bend.  As far any South Benders at the meeting knew, there have been NO arrests in North County – a fact which has been noted many times at previous meetings “and even in the Observer’s own ‘Stories from the Heart’ series.  All the ICE arrests have been on the Peninsula. I spoke to the reporter and she did correct the story online but, of course, it’s too late for yesterday’s print version.”

Screen Shot – An Investigative Report by Amy Nile

There were questions, too, about the coverage given to Seattle and the statistics out of that office.  “As far as we know,” said one of the ACLU members, “any statistics concerning our area, would logically come from the Portland office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  That’s where our detainees are first taken for ‘processing’ and for all the initial ‘paperwork.’  They are taken there in handcuffs but leave from there for Tacoma in shackles – wrists, waist, ankles, chains.”

The need for money, for Spanish-speaking attorneys, for assistance with guardianship papers were discussed. There will be another meeting next month, date yet to be decided.  Those interested in attending or who can help in other ways are asked to contact Ann Reeves at


Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Yesterday, Erin Glenn and I spent one of the fastest half hours on record (or so it seemed) over in Astoria at the Tillicum House, home of our public radio station, KMUN.  We were the guests of Joan Herman who hosts a local issues oriented show called “Perspectives.”  Even though our conversation was being taped and, theoretically, corrections could be made on the spot, both of us were a bit nervous – Erin because she’d never been on the radio before and I, maybe because I had.  Or perhaps Erin’s nervousness was catching.

Joan had asked if we would talk about the looming presence of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or ICE) here on the Peninsula and the resultant manifestations being felt within our Hispanic community.  Erin, who has been a bilingual and migrant educator for many years and has deep roots within the Mexican community talked knowledgeably and clearly.

Erin Glenn

She told about what happens to detainees after they are arrested, what conditions are like at the federal prison where they are taken – the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.  She talked about the group of activists with whom she has been working and who are providing assistance to families under the ‘ACLU People Power’ umbrella.

My part was to describe some of the situations I’ve encountered as I’ve interviewed families for my “Stories From The Heart” series for the Chinook Observer. I talked a bit about the lives that have been disrupted through arrests or by the constant uncertainty under which our Hispanic neighbors have been living for the last year or two.  I told about the children I’ve listened to, many of whom are U.S. citizens — kids who are afraid to go to school because they don’t know who will be at home to greet them at the end of the day.  I told of the people who have been here for fifteen or twenty years, working in our community, raising families and participating fully in community life… until recently.  My ‘entrée’ into their homes is through Erin who often serves as interpreter during our visits.

Joan Herman

The half hour sped by and, as it turned out, of course, Erin’s performance (if that’s how you describe talking on the radio) was stellar.  Her answers to Joan’s questions were informative – right down to giving contact information for listeners who would like to help.   I felt that I was mostly just along for the ride, but it was a worthwhile trip!  The program airs from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. a week from this Friday — September 8th on KMUN, Coast Community Radio, 91.9 on your radio dial!

A Windy Day in Oysterville

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Oysterville Regatta 2017 – Photo by Mark Petersen

Sailing.  It’s a delicate balance in more ways than one.  No wind and you are dead in the water.  Too much wind and bad things happen.  Like at yesterday’s Oysterville Regatta.  Two broken tillers, two ripped sails, a broken boom and more dumps than we could keep track of.  Everyone agreed that the 2017 Regatta will be talked about for years to come.

I don’t really like the wind.  It’s unsettling to me.  So, living here on the beach where we have wind every day of the year is a little bit challenging.  On the other hand, I love the recreational activities associated with wind.  As a spectator, only, I hasten to point out.

I love to watch the kites flying at the ocean beach and remind myself that it’s not an accident that The International Kite Festival was born here and has been a huge success, year after year. And where else but on Willapa Bay could there be a regatta – dated (intermittently, to be sure) from the 1870s?  And where but Oysterville would you find a whole family of sailors whose great, great-great, and three-times-great grandfather participated in some of those early regattas of 140 years ago?

2017 Oysterville Regatta Invitation

But, during yesterday’s regatta, I was very happy to be enjoying the spectacle from dry land.  Oysterville’s event is pretty bare bones – no microphones or fancy visual enhancement aids at the seashore.  We walk to the end of the lane laden down with chairs, binoculars, something to eat and/or drink and buoyed up by high anticipation.  Tucker, who is Admiral of the Fleet, supplies a list of sailors, boats, and sail numbers by which to identify who is where.

Yesterday, with boats going out of commission and ripped sails being replaced by spares, sailors were often unidentifiable from our vantage point and we had to ‘guess’ who was in which boat and who was ahead, behind, or in the water.  It was great sport all the way around.  We kept a close eye on Doug Knutzen, the rescue volunteer who was zooming hither and thither on his jet ski.  When he didn’t pause for long at his destination, but went whizzing off in another direction, we breathed a sigh of relief.  All was well…

Spectators – Oysterville Regatta 2017

Periodically, Tucker would leave his post at the waterside and come and tell us what was going on.   But it wasn’t until the Awards Ceremony last night that we learned that only one boat has finished the first relay race!  One out of six starters.  And… he had to be towed into the bank once he crossed the finish line because of … wind damage!  All agreed that Chris Fuller more than earned his trophy!

What a day!  It’ll go down in history!  I’m sure of it.

Another Bluesy, Woozy, Newsy Friday!

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

At Bailey’s Bakery and Cafe

As is often the case, we planned our day (insofar as that’s ever possible!) over our morning coffee.  As usual, the discussion was mostly about what and where we were going to eat, and since it was Friday and the appetizers that folks bring for our weekly gathering usually serve as dinner, we only needed to talk about lunch.  We hadn’t been to Jayne’s (Bailey’s Bakery and Café) for a very long time and were hankering after one of her sandwiches.  We decided, in the interest of Nyel’s low salt diet – and with the thought that half would be better than all — that we would split an “Italian.”

We walked up to the counter, mouths already watering, and Jayne greeted us with. “Before you order, take a look at the sign board there,” and she pointed to a white board with the shocking message that henceforth she would be serving only baked goods and drinks.  Soup during the lunch hour.  “Say what?!?”

“My two helpers have gone back to school already,” she said, “and without them, I can’t manage the sandwiches.”  Seeing our disappointment, she pointed to the ‘Specials’ board and said, “I can do you a tuna wrap, though.”  Done.  But our moods turned a bit toward the blue side of an otherwise gray looking day.  Damn!

Jayne’s Baked Goods

“Do you think this is a permanent situation?” we dared ask.

“It depends how much I enjoy being stress-free,” she smiled and proceeded to ring us up, and head back to her work area to fill our order.  Damn!   Being a savory-rather-than-sweet sort of person, that was bad news, indeed, for me.  On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who works harder than Jayne and deserves a break more.  And, the tuna wraps were fine – probably even delicious by some standards – but when your mouth waters for one thing and you end up with another… Well, you know how it is.

As things turned out, I didn’t even get the full advantage of the appetizers later in the day.  I came in late to my own houseful of people – Nyel ‘holding court’ for a dozen or more friends who we hadn’t seen for several weeks.  That was due, partially, to a couple of Fridays of Nyel in the hospital and to the exotic traveling of several of our friends.  My tardy arrival was due to an interview for the series of ‘heart stories’ I’m doing and so, by the time I arrived, the evening was in full swing.  And I think that a few of the appetizers were all but gone – though I couldn’t swear to it.  Too much going on, too much laughter, too much fun!

Friday Night Conversation

There was lots of news among our friends, too – not on signboards except if you count the certificate Tucker brought to share telling (I think) that he had successfully participated in a hot air balloon ride during his recent trip to Germany.  Though he described his adventure in some detail, I didn’t get my usual sweating palms thinking of the height part.  Not like when Kenny described climbing up the ladders during a rainstorm at Mesa Verde a week or so ago.  Been there, done that (though not in the rain) and not only did my palms sweat, but I felt a little woozy… glad I was on terra firma in the safety of my own home and among wonderful friends!  I do love our Friday Nights!

A Flood of Memories!

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Kay Buesing

We had reserved seats but, when it became obvious that Nyel would not be leaping out of his hospital bed in time for the curtain, I asked Kay Buesing if she’d like to be my date.  And so it was that we went to see PAPA’s final evening performance (There’s a matinee today!  Go!) of “She Loves Me.”

After all, Kay and I and community theater go back a long time.  Back to 1980 when we were part of the founding group of Peninsula Players – in the days of Lawrence Lessard and Fritz Hahn and Ginny Leach and Martha Sommer.  I have a vision of the two of us prancing around on stage (Were we auditioning for something?) – me singing “I’m a Little Teapot” and Kay laughing (or was she cringing?)

Brooke Flood, 1998

The last time I saw “She Loves Me” was at the Bowmer Theater at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and I remember being impressed with the outstanding talents of every single performer.  As last night’s performance unfolded (a literal description of that magical set!) I was equally impressed with the voices and the dancing and the mysterious suspension of disbelief that the ensemble created.  I was sucked right in.

The two female leads – Hope Bellinger and Brooke Flood – I’ve known since they were chubby-cheeked little girls.  Hope, so shy yet so accomplished, struggling to get up on the piano bench at Vespers and play a solo with perfect aplomb.  Brooke, my student in first, second, and third grades at Long Beach School – was there anything she couldn’t do well?  Though I’ve followed both of them all these years, watching them (like half of the community!) with neighborly pride, I still felt so blessed to see them together on stage all these years later.

Ron Thompson, 2012

And the male lead?  Ron Thompson!  The last time I saw him, he was here tuning my piano!  He had done a House Concert here (a pianist!) and had mentioned that if I ever needed a piano tuner… I can’t remember how many years he returned… and it took me a few beats last night to realize that this accomplished actor/singer was that same Ron Thompson!  Wow!

Such pleasant associations with these three young people – the memories wafted over me throughout the evening.  The topper was when Brooke called to me as we were leaving and I met her five-and-a-half-month-old son, William.  He smiled and reached his little hands out to me and nestled his cheek against mine!  I was instantly in love.  And so, we all decided, was William!

What a fabulous evening!  Layers and layers of memories… and still the beat goes on!