Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Egg Hunt on St. Paddy’s Day

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Tucker and Carol

The day I brought Nyel “home” to Ocean Beach Hospital, I called Carol and relieved her of her chicken duties with a gazillion thanks and promises to pick up the squirt gun soon.  Oh — did I mention that I had noticed a little purple package on the piano top, left there during our March 3rd House Concert – a belated birthday present from Stephanie.  Inside – a Rooster Defense Mechanism in the form of a squirt gun!  I had left it with Carol for her protection during her chicken duties while we were gone.


On my first visit to the coop, I found that the Chicken Godfather (that would be Erik) had made a coop-cleaning visit and everything looked wonderfully neat and tidy in Farmer Nyel’s chicken domain. The nest boxes were filled with sweet-smelling cedar-shavings but had yet to be used and, though I glanced around the run when I filled up their water trough, I didn’t see that the girls had left any eggs out and about.  (They do that sometimes, either in protest to a change inside the coop, or just to be wild and crazy.  It’s hard to tell with chickens…)

On reflection, I think I must have been egg-blind or under some sort of hen hypnosis because on my next visit (which was yesterday morning) … eight, count ’em, eight eggs!  When you have only five laying hens, that is an impossible number, even within a 24-hour period, never mind twelve!

Only one of those eggs was in a nest box.  Four were spaced out along the fence line inside the run.  One was on the floor of the coop.  And, for a few seconds, I thought those six eggs were the total – still at least one egg too many unless I had missed seeing that one on the coop floor the day previously.  Possible, but I’m pretty sure I had looked…

Under The Coop

I was just about to open the coop door when I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “maybe you’d better look under the coop building.  If there are six, there could be more!”  And, sure enough, way over in one corner was a lovely, light brown egg.  Difficult to reach unless I bellied under.  So, I left the chickens closed in and went to fetch the bamboo garden rake.

It worked like a charm and the egg went into my bucket with the other five dirt-encrusted eggs (and the single pristine one by whoever braved the new nest box shavings.)  Only as I was headed out did my eye catch yet another egg way under the coop.  Eight in all!!  That must have been two days’ worth but how could I have missed them?  Chalk it up to another of life’s little mysteries.

The Home Stretch

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Daffodils on Bay Avenue

What a difference a day makes!

Bright and early yesterday morning, after eleven days away from home, I headed for the beach to take care of a few necessities on the Homefront.  Like finally receiving delivery of our new, back-ordered-for-three-months stove and keeping an appointment or two of my own.  Nyel had given me a list of things to do and get for him, as well, and besides all that… we both felt that I had done all I could to get his care situation turned around.  It’s not that we had given up hope exactly… but we felt it might be time to let some dust settle on the hospital front.

My drive was uneventful weather and traffic-wise.  Until the home stretch!  I had stopped for a moment at the Ocean Park Library to pick up a book waiting for Nyel and then headed east on Bay Avenue, curious to see if Tom Downer’s daffodils were up and blooming.  Were they ever!  Hundreds of cheerful yellow blossoms filled the verge from Eric’s gallery to the Charles Nelson House at the corner of Bay and Sandridge.  Talk about a glorious welcome back to the beach!  OMG!

Better Than The Yellow Brick Road!

I arrived home about noon-thirty and called Nyel to see how it was going!  He hadn’t sounded so cheerful since my birthday night before TBH (The Broken Hip.)  Apparently, no sooner had I left but “everybody and his brother” – hospitalist, cardiologist, the orthopedic team, his current nurse, etc. etc. – crowded into his room.  No one called it the “Care Team Conference” (that we had been advocating for since Monday) but, that was what it seemed to be.  Everyone weighed into his progress, pro and con, and what the next steps should be!   YAY!

The decision was made to get him onto oral diuretics so he can be transferred to a rehab situation – maybe as early as today!!!  No sooner had they left than Nyel got a couple of phone calls – one from his cardiologist’s assistant in Seattle saying that his doctor was again offering to oversee his recovery (the heart aspects) long distance and, hard on the heels of that, a call from our Primary Caregiver in Ilwaco who said he would be comfortable working with the cardiologist and managing things from this end.  So… it looks as though Nyel might still wind up in rehab at the Ocean Beach Hospital in Ilwaco!  Double Yay!

The Rose City Mixed Quartet

About that time, the Rose City Mixed Quartet arrived to serenade Nyel (!!!) and the Physical Therapist who happened to be working with him right then (and who also belongs to a singing group in Portland) joined in on the madrigal “Paul and His Chickens.”  (Nyel said, “She later told me that it had been the BEST day of her entire working career!”)

When I checked back with Nyel in the evening, he said that the day just kept getting better and better.  Sue and Bill stopped by in the afternoon and stayed for a couple of hours.  “You have to share that chocolate,” I told him.  “How did you know they brought some?” he laughed.  “I know Sue and Bill…” was my response.

Waiting for Farmer Nyel

We realize that things can change in a trice, but we are both feeling so much more hopeful now than we were twenty-four hours ago.  “What do you think caused all the turn-arounds with the St. V’s people?” I asked Nyel.  “I haven’t a clue,” was his response.  As usual, they didn’t explain themselves and Nyel didn’t feel he had much part of the decision-making process.  But… that entire concern is moot for the moment.  I’m heading back to Portland and hope to return with the ever-patient patient before too many more clucks and cock-a-doodle-dos from Farmer Nyel’s flock.

Oh yes… the stove couldn’t be installed yesterday – they brought the wrong connecting parts…  But even that didn’t mar the joyous thought that things are finally turning around for Nyel.  And did I say that neighbors Carol and Tucker had me over for the best dinner I’ve had in since February 28th?  It really was a day to hold in my heart!

Back in the Swing!

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

By Vicki Carter

As I looked around the room to see where Nyel had gotten to, I was overtaken by such a joyous and familiar feeling!  We were at the Art Opening at the Picture Attic surrounded by familiar faces, Fred Carter’s music, walls of bright, inviting paintings and… around the corner a huge table laden with finger foods of every description.  And there was Nyel – on his own two feet, looking over the food possibilities with great interest.

This was our first actual “outing” since Nyel broke his leg on October 3rd.  During the first three months, while he was wheelchair-bound, our only forays beyond the house were the obligatory doctor visits.  More recently, he’s been transitioning to leg-brace and cane, but still in the house.  Last night, though… wow!  Everyone at the Picture Attic was there for the Art Show, but in my mind, it was Nyel’s coming out (in the old-fashioned ‘into society’ sense) party!

(And, speaking of ‘old-fashioned, I just hate it that I feel compelled to explain what I mean these days when I use perfectly good expressions like “coming out.”  So many words and phrases seem to have been co-opted by younger generations and now have taken on new and, sometimes, nefarious meanings.  But I digress.)

Jean Nitzel

I felt that things were absolutely back to normal!  Me, hugging and schmoozing and enjoying the people.  Nyel, gravitating toward a quieter space and the food!  Both of us taking in the art and thinking to ourselves that we’d have to come back to really see what was there.  And both of us gratified in ways that we probably can’t explain that our long-time friend, recently-widowed Jean Nitzel, Picture Attic owner and hostess of the evening’s event, looked to be glowing in the success of the evening!  Another community role model, for sure!

We didn’t stay long but it was a start.  A re-entry into the fun of the Peninsula!  Bring it on!

Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

1904 Cash Register

Tucker outdid himself last night for his weekly “show and tell” part of our Friday Night Gathering!  In fact, when the time came, he had to go home and bring the mystery object over in his car.  “It was too heavy to carry,” he told us and, as always, acted as though we might not really have time for this weekly highlight.

He brought it in covered in a blanket and set it on the floor. The rest of us were totally mystified until he revealed… an old-fashioned cash brass register that was so shiny bright that there was an involuntary “Ohhh!” from the nine of us onlookers.  What a beauty!

But it wasn’t until he pressed the ‘Total’ button and the cash drawer opened with that never-to-be-forgotten “Ka-ching” sound that our nostalgia really kicked in.  All of us were old enough to remember the days when purchases were made with real money and almost every store had a cash register – but perhaps not as grand as this one.

It was made by the National Cash Register Company (which is still in business after 135 years, though now owned by AT&T.).  According to the label on the bottom of the cash drawer, the register had been manufactured in 1904 for a specific (unnamed)c company who, as part of the terms of purchase, was obligated to buy any supplies such as ink and paper (cash register tape) solely from the National Cash Register Company.  Ditto any repairs to the register.

The highest amount on any key was $1 which made $1.98 the largest sale that could be rung up.  This caused Tucker to believe that perhaps this particular register had been manufactured for a five-and-ten cent store – back in the day when most items at such a shop did, indeed, cost a nickel or a dime.

We all agreed that it was one of the best “show and tell” items ever from Tucker’s collection.  Surely, he’ll never top this one!  (But… we’ve said that before.)

It’s not every day…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Tooth Soap

The little round package fit right into the palm of my hand.  It had been given to me just as I took my seat before the concert began.  I had no idea what it was.

In the dim light, as unobtrusively as possible, I examined the little parcel.  It seemed to be made of a sort of plastic.  To the touch it was reminiscent of my grandmother’s dresser set made of Bakelite – that precursor to modern plastic, developed back in 1907. I could feel raised letters/numbers(?) on the top and could almost make out what it said.

Ling George V

It wasn’t until the intermission was over that I could take a good look.  It was a little round box, black with a maroon cover.  The lettering, curved to fit around the top and bottom edges said:  TOOTH SOAP – Peppermint Flavor – Enolin (1926) Ltd.  In the middle were the words:  Specially Prepared For The Use Of H.M. NAVAL FORCES.  Inside was a small cake of soap, apparently in its original cellophane wrapper.  It, too, was embossed with letters reading TOOTH “SOAP/ENOLIN/FOR H.M. NAVAL FORCES.

“I saw this in a shop somewhere after one of your House Concerts,” my benefactor said.  “I had been looking at your coffee table with all of the curiosities displayed and I thought this just needed to be among them.”

People gathered around.  We all had questions.  “Who would have been the king then?” we wondered.  Later I found that it was George V, Queen Victoria’s grandson, who was, himself, a navy man and who was England’s king from 1910-1936.

The other burning question: “Was this soap with its container original or a reproduction?”  I also looked that up and I’m not totally sure.   A British site claimed it was an “unused warehouse find and was selling it for £8.50 (12 available, 31 sold).”  Another site made the same claims but added that the warehouse was in Malta and the price per pot was £7.50.  Another site, in Spanish, said “GPD 12.99, aproximadamente US $16.79.”  And yet another: “AU $125.00/Approximately Euro 78.88.”

Coffee Table of Curiosities

Still another site added this information:  “These packets of tooth soap were introduced into Royal Navy slops in 1936 as a replacement for tooth powder and in 1944 were sold at 3½ d for paste and case or 2 ½ d for just the refill…  A case of these tooth soap containers and contents seems to have come to light in the last few years and flooded the market, so they are plentiful and cheap and can be picked up for under £5 with little difficulty.”

So, there you have it!  It will be added to the items on display in our coffee table – definitely a curiosity and far more urbane when compared to the broken bits of china and doll parts that we’ve found in the garden over the years.  Elegance (of sorts) among the mundane!  Thanks so much, Mike!

Seriously Conflicted

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Sometimes the gods smile on us.  Sometimes they frown.  But right now, they are seriously toying with us!  Either that or they have their wires totally tangled.

It’s a date and time conflict of unparalleled proportions.  On Saturday, February 9th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Oyster Crackers will be performing in Ilwaco while Cate Gable, Sarah Day and Tony Pfannenstiel will be reading from their recent works of poetry in Ocean Park.  Which to attend?

An impossible choice!  Both events involve friends and creative works near and dear to our hearts.  The Oyster Crackers event at the River City Playhouse has been planned for some time.  It’s a benefit concert for the Ocean Park Food Bank and the crackers, themselves — Bette Lu Krause, Rita Smith, and Chrystl Mack — have been handing out little flyers about it for over a month.  We’ve told them from the get-go that we’d be there.

The Oyster Crackers

We learned about the poetry reading just the other day.  There was an announcement on the bulletin board at Adelaide’s – right beside the Oyster Crackers announcement.  I could scarcely believe it!  And then, I saw in the Community Calendar in the ObserverOCEAN PARK — An Afternoon with the Peninsula Poets is set for Saturday, Feb. 9, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., a poetry reading will be held at the Ocean Park Library. Featured poets are Sarah Day, Cate Gable and Tony Pfannenstiel, with guitar accompaniment by George Coleman. An open mic will begin at 2 p.m. Please feel free to share a poem with the audience. If you have questions call Tony at 503-720-6786.

Aaaaugh!  I don’t know whether to scream or go deaf!  The last time Cate hosted a poetry event on the Peninsula (at least as far as I know), it was at our house in Oysterville and we couldn’t be there.  Nyel was in the hospital in Portland for a serious heart-related event and, of course, I was with him.  With the help of neighbors Tucker and Carol, the poetry reading – that time with our friend Bob Pyle and with Tod Marshall, then the Poet Laureate of Washington – came off without a hitch.  Or so we were told.

Cate Gable

On the one hand, The Oyster Crackers – friendship, a verbal commitment, a desire to support the food bank vs. we’ve seen them several times already, have hosted them here for a House Concert and have them booked for another next Fall so it’s not like we’d be abandoning them.

On the other hand, The Peninsula Poets – friendship, a first-time opportunity (at last!) for us, my own abiding interest in the written word and those who write them vs. a previous commitment and the hope of another opportunity SOON!

On the other hand – I feel like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”…

Tall, Shimmery, and Rooster-Proof!

Sunday, January 27th, 2019


Helen Wolfe Dietz

When Helen strode on into the chicken run with ‘nary a glance from that killer rooster, the irony was not lost on me.  Helen is one of the Rose City Mixed Quartet and, like all of them, she is close to the six-foot mark.  That she is blond (well, maybe more silver these days) and beautiful might not have had any bearing on things, but the height probably did.  That she, like her musical cohorts, delights in singing “Short People” at each of their Oysterville House Concerts leapt to mind as Farmer Nyel’s entire flock, including the cockamamie doodle, gazed up at her with foul affection.

Of course, it might have been that they were grateful to see that she was bringing water.  Their trough was bone dry – a state of affairs that Helen had discovered on an egg-collecting mission yesterday morning.  Well, thought I, it was bound to happen sometime.  Usually, I get down to the coop before the girls and boys wake up or at least on a morning after I’ve remembered to lock them up.  But, I had been far too busy partying and having a good time the night before to do my due diligence in the chicken department, so now… I would have to face those rooster spurs.

“I’ll do it!” Helen said.  I protested, but weakly, and so it was that all of us (except dear Farmer Nyel) trooped down to the coop.  Dale took his camera.  Cameron answered each cock-a-doodle-do with stunning soprano trills that caused an almost palpable group gasp from the flock.  I trailed a bit behind (shorter legs) and wondered how I could assist.

As for Helen, she strode on out, lugging five big bottles of water.  Without hesitation, she unlatched the gateway, entered the run, and closed the gate behind her as we all waited to see what would happen next.  What happened was astounding!  All seven chicken stood stock still, heads slightly cocked looking up (way up) at Helen in that weird one-eyed stare that chickens do so well.  When they saw her move toward their water container, they gathered round with silent expectation.  Even the killer rooster.  She was “golden” (or silvery, take your pick) as they say.

Watering the Flock

Wow!  I don’t know if it was her bravery and no-nonsense attitude or if she is actually a chicken whisperer or if it was simply a matter of tall.  Whatever it was, I probably have no chance of replicating it, so I’d better be more diligent about my duties in the future.  After all, I think my growth spurt has been over since 1949.

The Ties That Bind

Saturday, January 26th, 2019

RCMQ, Winter 2016

The Rose City Mixed Quartet arrived yesterday afternoon, brimming over with bedding, towels, food and hugs.  Only it was a ‘bass-less trio’ not a quartet.  Mark was home with a cold and fever and couldn’t accompany Cameron, Helen, and Dale for their Winter Sleepover in Oysterville.  (Not that anyone actually called it that, but we’re hoping it becomes an annual event!)

They timed it, they said, to coordinate with our Friday Night Gathering and so, by a few minutes after five, there were fifteen of us sitting around our library fireplace.  Dale took it upon himself to be the fire-tender, Cameron and Helen passed appetizers, and the conversation flowed.  Sometimes the whole group focused on a single topic; sometimes there were multiple conversations among two or three.  It was never quiet, never dull and, as always, there was a lot of laughter.

Vicki and Fred

Among the first to arrive were Vicki and Fred!  OMG!  We knew they were on their way home, driving their huge, diesel-guzzling rig back from California, but we had no idea that they’d make it in time to walk through our door laden with appetizers “as usual!”  We hope they are back here for good.  No more of this living the RV life and only stopping in once every few years!

Among the snippets of conversation I overheard during the evening was one between Helen and Sue (of Sue and Bill-the-kilt-guy) about northern Montana – a common bond, apparently, where family and close friends live.  (Of course! That six degrees of separation thing.)  Another conversation between Dale and Charlie-the-school-para involved virtual educating and the school’s place in the socialization of kids – again a topic of interest between ‘strangers.’

Sue and Bill, 2016

(No, not exactly strangers, for sure!  I had the fleeting thought that it was Charlie’s late parents George and Martha who were standing near us at the Liberty Theater back in the aughts when we first heard the RCMQ and I introduced myself to them and asked them if they’d consider doing a House Concert in Oysterville.)

Cameron and Carol and Tucker (and maybe Cyndy) were engaged in their own conversation– maybe Portland haunts – I couldn’t hear; and Bill, Steve, John and Nyel were talking local politics.  No one sang although Fred offered to fill in the bass part of Missing Mark.  “We didn’t bring any music,” Helen said, “and I’m one of those who sing by muscle memory.  I need the music in   of me…”  I can’t say I got the nuances of that remark, but Fred probably did.

Tucker and Carol, 2017

Tucker’s show and tell involved his grandfather’s gold pocket watch, watchchain, and fob (a large gold nugget) and that elicited a whole new set of topics – family jewelry, Alaskan “green gold,” the pros and cons of engraving initials on inherited treasures.  And on it went – well into overtime! You have wonderful friends,” Cameron said later.  “Such a diverse group!”

“Really?” I thought.  And here I was thinking how much all of us have in common…  I think we’re probably both right

Ed’s Hat

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Scott with Ed’s hat (Photo by Tucker)

At the beginning of the second set at Sunday’s House Concert, a battered old fedora made its appearance atop pianist Scott Cossu’s head.  It was perfect!  So perfect, in fact, that Tucker (and I assume everyone else) thought it was Scott’s own hat.  And, in fact, many of his online photos show him wearing a similar “cover” ala the long tradition of  jazz musicians.

But I knew better.  I’ve known that very hat for more than fifty years.  For most of that time, it has hung on our hat rack (where Scott spied and snagged it) waiting for its owner, Edwin Espy.  My Uncle Ed was the elder of my mother’s two brothers, just two years older than Willard and three years older than Mom.  He was the athletic one, the hard worker and Papa’s ‘right hand man’ and it was Ed who famously said of his little brother Willard (whose nose was always in a book):  “He’ll grow up to be a preacher; he’s so lazy.)

Photographer Tucker’s Empty Chair

In fact, it was Edwin who grew up to get his doctorate in theology and who ultimately became General Secretary of the National Council of Churches.  “The Protestant Pope,” he was called.  He visited Oysterville at least once a year until his death in 1993 at age 84.  And, for as long as I can remember, he left that old fedora on the hat rack so it would be here when he needed it.  He was a man who always wore a hat and, presumably, at home in NYC he had several of them.  Here he had just the old and well-loved one and, in case it was stormy, Papa’s old sou’wester.

Ed Espy sans hat, 1975

Of course, no one (including Scott) knew the story of Ed’s Hat when he donned it Sunday night.  Only Nyel and I knew and we both (it turned out) silently mused about the differences in the two men – the pianist and the church man – and how the hat suited them both perfectly!  I think Ed would have been delighted that Scott felt at home enough here in the house to borrow his hat.  And the fedora, itself, looked absolutely beatific – in perfect harmony with its new experience!

With All the Anticipation of Childhood!

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Oysterville Moms and Kids, Summer 1938

When our friends in Portland wrote and asked if they could come for a sleepover later this month, I felt the same excitement I remember from seventy or seventy-five years ago – that little tummy tingle of butterflies and the warm glow of looking forward to a special event.  But even though it was a dimly familiar feeling, I wonder how many friends actually spent the night at my house when I was a kid.  And, vice-versa.

I do remember staying overnight with my friends Anne (Nixon) and Nancy (Goodell) Cannon in Portland – usually on the way to or from my home in California.  My mom and their mom (Gyla) had been friends since girlhood and, on those occasions, we kids were pretty much left to our own devices while they visited and giggled like schoolgirls, themselves.

Nancy Cannon Goodell (1936-2015)

They lived on N.E. Davis Street in a wonderful house with all sorts of nooks and crannies.  I seem to remember that we could get up into the attic from one room, crawl around up there ‘exploring’ and then re-enter the main house through an entirely different ‘doorway.’  I don’t actually recall anything about the sleeping arrangements – not even if Anne and Nancy each had their own rooms.  The ‘sleep’ part of ‘sleepover’ certainly wasn’t important.

Plus, I don’t remember when the term ‘sleepover’ came into vogue.  Certainly not way back then.  In fact, I can only remember staying at someone else’s house overnight out of necessity.  Ditto in the next generation when Charlie and Marta were little.  I’m not sure about Marta as she lived with her mom (except for weekends and vacations) so she could have stayed overnight with her school friends now and then.  But I think that Charlie’s only overnight excursions were when he stayed with my folks who lived fairly close by in Oakland.

It wasn’t until I began teaching here on the Peninsula in the ’70s that I remember anything much about sleepovers.  Certainly, that’s when I was first made aware of the term.  Every once in a while, a child (usually a girl) would share or write in her journal that she was going to spend the night at a friend’s.  I also remember that about fifty percent of the time – especially if it was a first grader – it didn’t go well and parents would be called to come pick up their homesick child before the night really got under way.

Oysterville Kids (r to l Nancy, Judy, Anne, Me

That never ceased to amaze me, mostly because I don’t remember ever experiencing homesickness.  I do remember, clearly, someone asking me the first summer I spent at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa if I missed my mom and dad. “Oh no”, I responded confidently.  “I don’t worry about them. They can take care of themselves.”  My mother, who was apprised of my remark, never let me forget it!  I think she actually felt a bit insulted that I wasn’t pining for home, even just a little.

So… here I am, a venerable octogenarian, looking forward to our friends – four of them! – coming for a sleepover at the end of the month!  And they are coming “just because.”  Which I am sure is the best possible reason for a true sleepover!