Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

I could smell the cotton candy!

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Pinball Fun!

The clapping wasn’t over before the balls started rolling the lights began flashing!  It was that never-to-be-forgotten sound – pinball machines in use!  As soon as Tucker had completed his “pinball talk” at the Heritage Museum’s annual meeting yesterday, the crowd dispersed toward the machines – 25 or 30 of them, but who was counting?

Everyone I talked to seemed to have a story that began, “When I was a kid…” and ended “…just like this one!”  Talk about nostalgia!  The room absolutely vibrated with old memories – even if pinball hadn’t really been a part of their lives.  Or maybe I was the only one.  I don’t believe I’ve ever played a pinball machine… so why was it such an amazingly visceral déjà vu?

Pinball Conversation?

Nyel and I spent a long time talking about that afterwards.  BT (Before Tucker) I had truly associated pinball with poolhalls and taverns and, since I’ve never been in either that I can remember… no pinball experiences for me.  My clearest memory of pinball machines is of walking (quickly) by the pool hall on Fourth Street in San Rafael on my way to and from high school.  I tried not to look inside…  but the cigarette and beer fumes drifted out the door and I could hear those pinball machines as clear as clear.

And then Nyel asked, “But didn’t you ever go to an arcade?”  Bingo!  Yes, indeed I did.  The summer I was six or seven I spent two weeks with friends at Russian River.  By day we went to the beach or went for explores in the woods and every night after dinner (or so I remember) we went down to the arcade.  I played Skee-Ball – not exactly a pinball machine but they were all around me as I spent nickel after nickel trying to rack up my score.

Time Traveler?

I think I was sort of addicted!  I was bound and determined to win a creamer and sugar set to take home to my mother – and I finally did.  I can still remember my disappointment that neither she nor my dad seemed at all impressed at my accomplishment.  Nor did mom ever use the treasures I had worked so hard to get.  In the cupboard they went, never to be seen again.

I think that was the end of my interest in ‘gambling.’  Saved from a lifetime of debauchery at seven years old!  Wow!  I’m not sure if it’s that Russian River arcade at Guerneville that I associate with pinball or not, but how else to account for the smell of cotton candy that was so clear to me yesterday?

Thanks for the memories, Tucker!  Hurry up and set up your pinball museum right here in Oysterville!  I have a lot of lost time to make up for – a mis-spent youth for sure!  Who knew?

Living Lucky in Cranberry Country!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Inside The Furford Cranberry Museum

A week ago, if you’d have asked me what I knew about the Furford Cranberry Museum in Grayland I’d have thought one of us had slipped a cog.  But, as of yesterday – been there, loved it, will probably return!  I was there on a fact-finding and photo-taking mission with some of the movers and shakers of the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation (Long Beach Branch).  While we were there, I met a whole host of fabulously interesting people – among them a woman name Connie Allen!

She slipped up to the makeshift desk area where I was setting up my computer and scanner and seamlessly began to save my bacon (or probably cranberries in this case) with regard to all the techie things that worked differently from usual.  (How does electronic equipment ‘know’ when you are totally out of your element, anyway?)  “I have exactly the same scanner at home,” she smiled, and we were off and running.  She stuck by me for the next few hours, standing and scanning in the coldest corner of the old building.  I felt inordinately lucky!

Nyel as Captain Robert Gray, 1989

Betwixt and between, I learned that she is a Captain of tall ships, that she and her husband work on the Lady Washington, and that she has videos of the 1989 re-enactment in which Nyel played Captain Robert Gray as he guided the ship into the Columbia back in 1792.  Really?  A video?  Another of those small world things for sure!

At lunch (there were 11 of us) I lucked out and was seated right across from Captain Connie.  We talked of all manner of things, including the repairs in progress that we had noticed that morning as we drove from Raymond to Grayland along the watery edge of Highway 105.  Come to find out, Connie is deep into fundraising to help rebuild the barrier dune in the area we all know as Washaway Beach.  She handed me a spiffy, fold-out card with the logo “Wash Away No More” and suggested three ways that anyone can donate to assist with this monumental effort:

  • Illustration: Washaway Beach Project

    North Willapa Grange
    P.O. Box 137
    Tokeland, WA 98590

  • com/us/fundraiser/charity/2561564
  • gofundme/washawaynomore

“Your contribution of $5.80 provides one cubic yard of rock” said the card.  I think she said (but I might have misunderstood!) that they have raised $20,000 so far – undoubtedly a drop in the proverbial bucket – but her positive attitude and involvement with every agency and charitable donation outfit you can imagine was way more than inspiring!

After all the years of reading about Washaway Beach and feeling heartsick for the people who are watching their property and homes being relentlessly threatened and then taken by the sea, I was suitably impressed by Connie’s quiet confidence.  She is on a path forward – one cubic yard at a time!

WashAway No More

Check and Double-Check

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

Schoolhouse Clock

Robin Cody will speak at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at 10:00 tomorrow morning.  Ten ayem.  Thanks to one of my bright-eyed readers, I am pointing out a disparity between what appeared in the e-Edition of the Chinook Observer this past week and what I wrote in my blog.  The time noted in the Observer (in an article written by me, I’m sorry to say) was wrong, wrong, wrong.  I am not to be fully trusted, especially when it comes to numbers.

I have not yet checked today’s paper so I don’t know if they were able to get the error corrected before they went to press.  I did see that it was corrected in the online paper after my desperate eleventh-hour plea yesterday morning.  But, if you are reading this and plan to go, please double-check your calendar notation and adjust your plans if you need to!

Numbers and I are at odds.  I don’t think that’s always been the case.  I didn’t have any trouble learning my street address in first grade – 1320 Versailles Avenue.  Or my phone number – LAkehurst 2- 2378.  But something must have happened along about the time I got my social security number.  That was 66 years ago and I still can’t remember all those numbers!  Or my cell number, for that matter.  I can remember my address and my landline number. Period. Oh, and my birthdate in both words and numbers!  Yay!

Screenshot: Robin Cody Article, Chinook Observer Online

I look on in amazement when Nyel rattles off his various numbers AND my various numbers without drawing breath.  How does he do that?  On the other hand, he never worries about being late… and sometimes he is.  I drive him crazy wanting to leave extra time for flat tires and mudslides.  I’m almost always early.  Maybe that’s just in case.  Just in case I got the time screwed up.  Again.

Double-check, please.  Robin Cody.  Oysterville Schoolhouse. 10 o’clock.  Thursday, February 1st. Seating is limited.  Get there early.  And take into account the “Men Working” slowdown on the back road.  See you there!

What day is this again?

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Thought Police Poster

Most literate Americans know that this is day we can hear (or not) the President’s State of the Union address.  But do most of us know that it is also Data Privacy Day?  Yep.  Really.  Since 2008, many nations of the world (including ours) commemorate an international effort held annually since 2008 to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.  Yep.  Really.

I was noodling those not-so-disparate bits of information around last night when I came upon my friend Martha Williams’ FaceBook entry.  For those who don’t know her, Martha is a retired teacher and has now embarked on a new career – working with elementary students as a “Science Warrior” according to the Chinook Observer’s article about her last April.  (   Here is what she wrote on FB yesterday:

Wow- I receive frequent updates from a Trump site and was asked to answer questions for information he was to gathering for his state of the union speech. You know me. I answered them in length. After Submitting my comments, I was informed that I was blocked because of certain words I used. I did use Climate and immigrants and making each American great again. SO, my dear FB family- we are not a country that can be heard when we disagree with Papa Prez- not that I thought we could, but this was so personally blatant and yes ?. Does it stop me??? No way, back to work ??


It’s not that what happened to Martha falls precisely under the Data Privacy umbrella.  Or maybe it does.  No matter.  For me, it was an illuminating convergence of circumstances and events.  One more illustration that the times we live in are troubling and that Orwell’s Thought Police are right inside our devices and in the very air we breathe.

I doubt if Martha spoke of “climate” in the context of distrust, but that is certainly part of the take-away for me.  Climate change is happening in more ways than one.  And woe be unto those of us who speak out about it.  The silencing has begun.  Even here on our tiny sandspit.  Actually, I should say the attempt at silencing has begun.  Whoever blocked Martha’s words obviously hasn’t met her.  I can’t think of a more articulate, vocal, impassioned champion of our most basic rights.  You go, girl!

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.’