Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

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!

Surprises Sunday at Summer Salsa II

Friday, May 31st, 2019

There are big surprises in store for us Sunday at the Shelburne Inn in Seaview!  It’s the second annual Summer Salsa  Benefit for Our Immigrant Families Impacted by ICE.  There will be food (a taco bar!), music (by favorite locals!), a silent auction (treasures and trips), and works on display by featured artist Luisa Mack.   And the piece de resistance?? I have it on good authority that a video interview with a father who is at the Tacoma Detention Center will be shown during the afternoon.

Do you have your tickets?  Only $15 each!  They are available at the Ocean Park, Long Beach, Ilwaco, South Bend and Raymond Pharmacies and also at Pioneer Grocery in South Bend.   I’m hoping against hope that they’ll also be available at the door!  (It’s been hinted that Nyel will be outta here tomorrow so maybe — just maybe  — I can join everyone at the Shelburne festivities!  Woot!  Woot!)

From 2:00 to 5:00 local musicians including The Oyster Crackers, Brian O’Connor, and Barbara Bate will entertain and German-trained artist Luisa Mack  (who works in silver and has recently opened a shop at the Port of Ilwaco) will display some of her designs.  All proceeds from the event go toward helping Pacific County families who have been impacted by ICE and current immigration enforcement practicies.

Although the timing is not certain, Pacific County Immigrant Support personnel have been notified that  a father has been given the okay to speak at the fundraiser via video hookup from the Tacoma Detention Center.  Says spokesperson Sandy Nielson, “What this family has been through would crumble most as they are fighting a situation not only with ICE but with their local police prejudice.  Pacific County Immigrant Support has been working with other organizations and individuals to retain a lawyer for them at an initial cost of $5,000. Summer Salsa has been a major fundraiser for these efforts, and we thank them so much for what they are doing to support our work with their energy and talents.”

See you there!





Home for A Day and Back Again

Sunday, May 26th, 2019


Days 29 & 30 —  Yesterday I left at dawn’s crack and had the road to Oysterville almost entirely to myself. Not so much mid-afternoon when I returned to St. Vincent’s — the Memorial Day traffic had, by then, clotted up the highway in both directions, but still, my round trip was without incident.

I arrived home in plenty of time for our Annual Oysterville Restoration Foundation meeting which, this year, proceeded in an orderly fashion thanks, in part, to the presence of a deputy Sheriff who had been hired to “keep the peace.”  It’s sad that things have come to that in “quiet” little Oysterville. But as ORF president David Williams noted during the course of the meeting, when some members attempt to “do business” through threats from attorneys rather than through civil and neighborly discussion, it is necessary to take appropriate measures.

I wish our new-neighbors-to-the-north had been there.  During my absence, a long construction-style chain link fence has gone up on the front of their property from our corner fence post to the newly installed driveway on their north property line.  Perhaps the  contractors for their upcoming construction project are from the big city and perhaps this is standard procedure… but in Oysterville it seems not only unsightly but insulting.  Like who in the world — residents or visitors — can’t see that the property is completely open on the east side?  Or maybe the cyclone fence comes under the heading “to be continued.”   I’m only glad that the previous three or four generations are no longer here to see what has become of their peaceful, friendly village.

Cousin Anwyn and The Cannon

Speaking of the generations — Uncle Cecil’s great-great grandchildren were in town with moms and dads and grandpa.  They came down to visit the chickens and informed me that they have given each of the ladies a name.  When I arrived, the kids were busy with hoes and rakes from our toolshed trying to get the girls out of the rhododendron bushes where they were hiding.

When I pointed out that the chickens hide from predators in those bushes which is a good thing, the tools went back in the toolshed and their focus turned to Nyel — “How’s he doing?” asked Gin.  “Will he be here on Monday to fire the cannon? asked Kahrs.  “Give him hugs from me,” Silas said.  Twice.  Even (sometimes  known-to-be-grumpy) Uncle Cecil would have been impressed.

Danielle, Me, Gabi, Amy

Later, I visited with Amy Wachsmuth and her girls, Gabi and Danielle.  Sue Holway came by and snapped our picture to show posterity that Danielle is now two inches (at least) taller than I am!  Wow!  How did that happen?

All the way back here to St. Vincent’s, I thought about the “old time” neighbors and the kids and how much I love Oysterville.    Now,  if we can only get Nyel back home soon, it promises to be a good summer, cynclone fences notwithstanding!

Season’s Greetings from Capt. Scarborough!

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Hawthorn in Nahcotta

For the second time this week, I nipped home to take care of a few items of business.  Nyel seemed in the best fettle yet when I left him and several telephone calls since then reveal that he is having a good day!  Yay!

The Peninsula greeted me in all its glory — ablaze with blossoms and colors and, best of all, stately Hawthorne trees all in full bloom.  From Chinook to Oysterville those lovely giants smiled at me and wished me well.  I felt that Captain James A. Scarborough, himself, was saluting me all along my way!

Scarborough was an Englishman – born in 1805 in Ilford, County Essex.  When he was twenty-four, he joined the Hudson Bay Company and first crossed the Columbia River bar aboard the Isabella in May 1830.  He worked for Hudson Bay Company for the next twenty years and, despite reports that his men did not respect him and that he was overly fond of demon rum, he received frequent promotions.

Captain James A. Scarborough

When he was thirty-eight he married Ann Elizabeth, a Chinook woman, and together they established a farm on Chinook Point where Chief Comcomly and his six wives had once lived.  The area became known as Scarboro Hill.   When Congress enacted the Donation Land Law in 1850, James and Ann filed for the land they had been living and working on.  They ended up with 643 acres extending about a mile along the north bank of the river and including all of Chinook Point and most of Scarboro Hill.

Having put in his twenty years for HBC, he retired (or was dismissed, according to some reports), moved permanently to his land claim and, until his  untimely death, devoted himself to farming, commercial salmon fishing, and piloting mail steamers over the Columbia River Bar.  Scarborough’s farm prospered.  He was fond of plants and set out many fruit trees as well as other ornamental and useful trees and shrubs.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – NE Corner of Our Garden

Scarborough died in 1855 (two years after his wife’s demise) under somewhat  mysterious circumstances — there were rumors of poison.  There was also talk of a stash of gold ingots, supposedly buried on Scarboro Hill.  The treasure has never been found but, unbeknownst to most, the captain left behind enduring riches of another sort.

Hawthorne “Grandchild” – SE Corner of Our Garden

About 1848, even before he was living there full time, Scarborough planted a Hawthorn tree on the slopes of his hill.  According to all accounts, it was an absolutely magnificent specimen and, for almost half a century, it was used as a local landmark and navigation guide. When in 1897, in preparation for the establishment of Fort Columbia the following year, the Army cut down the tree, there was a public outcry that could be heard throughout Pacific County and even across the river.

Locals flocked to Scarboro Hill, took slips from the tree, and many resultant Hawthorns still thrive throughout the area, including two ‘grandchildren’ at our house. Nyel planted them  ten years or so ago, started from from one of those original “slips” that had become a giant in our front yard, only to blow down in the storm of 2007.  I am happy to report that the “grandchildren” of Captain Scarborough’s tree are thriving!