Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

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!

How much time is enough?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Oysterville Daybook, June 25th

For those of you who have been asking… No.  Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have not yet responded to my letter to them.  It was written first as an open letter to the two of them and posted on this blogsite on June 25th –three weeks ago yesterday.  The next day I sent a hard copy to each of them at their Seattle Offices.  And for the next several days, the letter was shared on FaceBook and my blog went ‘viral’ – well viral by Oysterville Daybook’s standards!

Perhaps you read it. It concerned the siege that our Hispanic community has been under, right here in Pacific County.  Twenty-two arrests (now 23) here on the Long Beach, a far greater per capita number than in other comparable areas of Washington.  The questions I posed were straightforward.  What can we as friends and neighbors do to help?  What can they, as our elected representatives to Congress, do about this untenable situation?

Pony Express

Even allowing for vetting time by staff members, it would seem that I might have had a response by now.    People who forwarded a copy to Jaimie Herrera-Butler tell me that she has already responded to them – a sort of stock answer but, nevertheless, an acknowledgement.  She has not, however, contacted me even though the letter was written over my signature.  Go figure.   I do believe that turn-around time for mail was faster in the Pony Express days than in this era of cyberspace!!

I’d like to think that our senators have been busy leaning on ICE.  It was ‘quiet’ here for a week or so.  No new arrests.  No new ICE sightings.  But, no one dared think that they were gone.  And then, a few days ago, yet another arrest – this time leaving a teenager, one of our Ilwaco High School students, on his own.  It is hard to have faith that there is someone ‘out there’ who might make a difference.  Will our elected officials ever step up?  Will they even acknowledge our small community?  When?

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.


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.


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.