Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Of Glass Harps and Mountain Dulcimers

Monday, March 12th, 2018

Michael Greiner and The Glass Harp

I (personally) know only one person who plays the glass harp – Michael Greiner.  And, until yesterday, I’ve only know one person who played the mountain dulcimer – Harlan Kinsey who I think has been playing in the great beyond for fifty years or more.  I don’t really “connect” the two instruments except that I love them both and you just don’t meet a lot of people who play either one.

But, yesterday up in Grayland on the search for cranberry information (a new book project… don’t ask) my new friend Connie Allen mentioned that she is “Career A-D-D” as in she’s had a lot of them.  I already know her as a bog owner and as a recently ‘retired’ tall ship captain, so I asked what other jobs she’s had.  It seems that she was a musician for a number of years – on the East Coast and later, in San Diego.

Connie On Board

“Appalachian Dulcimer” she said in answer to my question.  I love that instrument!  I connect it with the late fifties and early sixties and with Berkeley and with the folk revolution and with the first glimmers of the segue from Beat to Hippie.  I was only an onlooker.  Too old (was I 25?) and settled (married with a Kindergartener) to be part of it.  But I had friends in the thick of it all … especially artists and musicians.

Why I connected the dots is beyond me, but I said, “I know someone in San Diego – at least he used to live in that area – who plays the glass harp…”  Not that the dulcimer and glass harp have any particular relationship…

“Oh,” Connie said.  “Is it Mike?”  Talk about that old six-degree thing!  And it got better.  ” I went to a music gathering he hosted on the Peninsula a few years ago,” Connie said, “at…” and here she hesitated.  After all, how can you describe Camp Sherwood Forest?

Alan Greiner — c. 1948

For one thing Sherwood no longer exists – not officially.  But it’s a place forever in the hearts and souls of everyone who ever went there as a kid or a young adult.  I was a camper there in the ’40s and ’50s.  So was Alan Greiner who eventually bought Camp from Dorothy Elliott.  Alan is the father of Michael-of-the-glass-harp.  Marta and Charlie were campers there in the sixties – right along with Michael and his brother and sister.  Wow!  And how would I ever have thought to connect the glass harp and the mountain dulcimer…

It was the second time Connie and I had found a connection – on our first meeting a few weeks back, it was the Lady Washington which she skippered (for real) and on which Nyel reenacted the role of Captain Robert Gray back in the ’80s.  Wow!!  What will it be next time, Connie?  Actually… I hope it’s just the chance to get better acquainted based on the here and now.

But… you never know!

The Fragrance of Paris!

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

I love Paris!  I love its looks!  I love its feel!  I love its fragrance!  And I’m not talking Chanel Number Five here, even though that is the only scent I’ve worn since I was sixteen years old.

No, I’m talking about the waft of fresh bread as you walk by the boulangerie.  Or the pungent smell of cheese at the fromagerie or that tang of fresh produce at the greengrocers on Rue Cler.  And of course, that’s not all.  It’s the smell of old books at Abbey Bookshop or that whiff of the river as you stroll along the Quai d’Orsay.  And, somehow, every one of those delicious aromas rolled up into one!

All of that came to mind yesterday when Cate sent a message saying “I’m in Paris” and accompanied that with four photographs.  OMG!  I could actually smell those radishes!

San Francisco is another city that affects me differently than any other.  There, it’s the light.  Some say the light is special in Paris, too, and I think they are right.  But, for me, there’s something about the City by the Golden Gate that just surrounds me differently.

And Oysterville?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  It used to be the sounds.  Bob Kemmer working on the boat pulled up in his driveway.  Uncle John’s cows going into the Heckes barn of an evening.  The put-put of those old two-lungers out on the bay.  There’s a little twinge now and then – when the geese are flying or when a young girl clip clops her horse through town.

Thanks, Cate!  Those pictures were almost as good as rambling through le quartier with you.  Almost!

The Wonderful Advice of Irene Martin!

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Irene Martin

I already thought my admiration for fisher/author/historian/priest Irene Martin knew no bounds.  Last Wednesday when she spoke at the Community Historian class, she soared higher than ever in my esteem.  I’ll try to explain why, but I doubt that I’ll even come close.

First, you need to know that Irene had been scheduled since last fall to talk to the class on March 7th about Fishing on the Columbia.  I’m not sure what aspect she had in mind, but whatever it was would be informative, of that I was sure.  However, three and a half weeks before her speaking date, the Martins had a house fire.  Everything (almost) was lost or severely damaged by smoke and water.  Did Irene want to cancel her speaking date, Betsy had asked.  “No, but I might talk on a different topic,” she said.

And so, she did!  She talked about how we preserve history and what she learned from the fire.  It couldn’t have been more appropriate for Community Historians.   That’s what we are all about – preserving and disseminating local history.  Her experience and her advice resonated with every single one of us.

First and foremost: Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms.  “Promise!” she said.  And she told how her husband had replaced theirs just six hours before the fire broke out.  “Had he not, I would not be here today.”

She told about doing an inventory of everything in the house some time ago – with a granddaughter.  “I told her I needed help.  Plus, I think I bribed her… Money always works with teenagers.”  In any event, they spent several weeks talking about every single thing in the house and the stories that went with them.  “If someone doesn’t know the stories, those stories and that bit of history will die with you,” she said.  “Share your stories.  Over and over again.”

“And,” she asked, “are all your old family pictures labeled?  Are the names on the backs?  Saving the pictures without the names doesn’t do any good at all a generation or so later.”  It was a second promise she extracted from us: “Go home, and after you replace those smoke alarm batteries, label your pictures.”

And there were many more practical suggestions from her recent first-hand experience.  I’m glad to say that I’ve been on a similar wave-length for some time, preservation-wise.  Photos labeled, check!  Inventory complete, check!  Stories shared, check!  With regard to that last one, I sometimes fear that I’m repeating myself, especially with the stories in my blog.  After hearing Irene, I think that might be okay.  For posterity, you know!

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

Not only had he been to Oysterville, but…

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

In Seattle Yesterday – Definitely Fake Sky

It was about three o’clock yesterday when the doctor came in to talk to us before Nyel’s ‘procedure’.  We were back at the University of Washington Medical Center, this time for a long-planned implant of a cardio mems into Nyel’s heart.

“It’s essentially an antenna,” said the doctor.  “It has no battery, no moving parts, nothing to go wrong.  It will stay with you forever.”  In conjunction with the pillow-like device (in its own rolling suitcase) that Nyel will rest against each morning, the CardioMems device will send information back to his doctor in Seattle concerning the pressures in his heart.  It’s a way to keep track of his congestive heart failure without those frequent trips to the hospital – a management-by-long-distance-method.  Or so we all hope.

The doctor had a sample one to device to us and explained how it would be inserted into an artery in Nyel’s heart.  They would go in through the right side of his neck and the device would be placed in an artery on the back of the left side of his heart.  The process would take about 45 minutes.  No anesthetic required; just a bit of numbing at the insertion site.  Wow!

CardioMEMS Sensor


“Will I be able to drive afterwards?” Nyel asked.  “Sure,” said the doctor.  “Where do you live?”

Usually, we respond “the Long Beach Peninsula.”  We’ve found that people from the big city are more likely to have heard of the general area – not necessarily our little corner of it.  But for some reason I said “Oysterville” and Dr. Wood’s eyes lit up.  “Have you been there?” I chanced.  “Actually, yes,” he said “a friend of mine has a house there.”  And I thought to myself, “Probably not.  Probably out in Surfside.”

Dr. Gregory Wood

Imagine my surprise when he said his friend was named Lexie.  “Lexie Hook Bemis?”  I asked.  “Yes,” he said.  “Brock and I were colleagues.”  We chatted then about my Red House Cousins, their wedding at Timberline Lodge (which we found we had all attended back in 2007), and how the Bemis family had moved to Sun Valley a few years back. And how things weren’t the same anymore.

It was one of those small world moments to the max.  There’s nothing like a shared memory to make you feel bonded – unless it might be having someone look (literally) right into your heart!  Wow!  What a world we live in!

Oh boy! It’s been way too long!

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Bike Basket

I think it’s been a year and a half since we’ve seen The Hawes.  Otherwise known as “Tricky” because his name is Dick and if you are old enough that doesn’t require explaining.  You’d think he lived in another country.  Well, maybe Bainbridge Island qualifies now that we are all close to the doddering age.

I’ve known Dick Hawes since my California days.  Clear back to the early seventies.  He was from the northwest but for a time worked near Half Moon Bay (I think) where a teacher-friend of mine lived.  The Tricks (we also call him that) moved back up here a few years before I did and we’ve kept up our friendship ever since.  The teacher friend, though… not so much, at least not for me.

Checkin’ Out the Bay

For a long time, Dick lived in a spiffy condo in Belleview.  When we went to the big city, we’d stay with him, and when he wanted a bit of country air, he’d come and stay with us.  He always came armed with a camera – a real one, not digital, even now – and he’d take long, solitary walks soaking up the ambience.  Later, he’d send us a card with a picture on it – something he saw or, more often, something we see every day.  But when seen through Dick’s eyes, it becomes a work of art.

M m m m m Good!

A few years back he formed his own little company called “one eye open” and marketed his cards at various galleries in the Seattle area.  He even had a show of his originals here at Bailey’s Café and, as I recall, made a sale or two.  That’s remarkable for a photographer.  In my salad days when I was married to Marta’s father (who is a photographer) I got used to hearing people visit his exhibitions and say, “I took a shot just like that!”  Yeah, right.  You don’t hear that so much at watercolor shows.  Or sculpture exhibits.  Or even at book signings.

Anyway, The Hawes will be here for the weekend and beyond!  Yay!!  We have a lot of catching up to do.  I don’t think he’s been here since my birthday two years ago this very week.  Is that possible?  Have we been up there?  I wonder if any one of the three of us can remember.  A sad, sad situation to be sure!

Feeling Blessed Midst Valentine Bouquets

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Camellias from John and Steve

The rooms in our house are overflowing with flowers – roses, tulips, camellias, roses, cyclamen, a spring bouquet, more roses!  Every single room!  They were Valentine gifts from friends and from my beloved, as well.  I feel surrounded by cheerfulness and good wishes and promises of springtime and happiness.

I can’t help thinking that should I shuffle off this mortal coil without anyone noticing, it would be all right.  A rather morbid thought, to be sure, but it’s one I learned from my sainted mother.  More than once I heard her say at a funeral or memorial service, “All these flowers – wasted!  Bring me flowers while I’m living!”  And we did.  Yellow roses were her favorite.

Tulip Garden from Jon and Pat

I’m glad to say that flowers have arrived in abundance during my own lifetime and I have enjoyed every blossom… “as god intended” my friend Te would say. Nyel has spoiled me on many an occasion with long-stemmed red roses and I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of friends who arrive with elaborate bouquets on all sorts of occasions – as well as on non-occasions and just-because.

There have been tomes written about the meaning of flowers – Daisies: innocence and hope; Roses: love and desire; Yellow Tulips: cheerful thoughts.  Even the sorts of arrangements have meaning, from nosegays to bridal bouquets.  Speaking of nosegays, did you know that during the Victorian era a small one,  a “tussie mussie,”  might include chamomile flowers, which a woman might send to a romantic interest to tell him “Patience” whereas goldenrod represented indecision.  And I was interested to learn that the oldest evidence of formal arranging of bouquets in vases comes from ancient Egypt, and depictions of flower arrangements date to the Old Kingdom (~2500 BCE).

Roses from Kitt and Doug

In this stress-filled world of today, I’m so glad that the tradition of flower-giving continues unabated! Walking through a house filled with flowers goes a long way toward re-balancing my thoughts and putting my own corner of the world in perspective.  You just can’t be surrounded by flowers and not feel blessed!

Appreciating Cate

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

Cate On Stage With Sister Starla

I imagine that almost everyone on the Peninsula recognizes the name ‘Cate Gable’ – for sure you do if you read the Chinook Observer.  Perhaps you have even been featured in her weekly column, “Coast Chronicles”.  Or one of your friends has.  Or, perhaps, she has written about a situation or event near and dear to your heart. Or… the opposite.

Sometimes, in a sort-of role reversal, I get to be the one who puts something in the paper about her.  Like this morning.  I just submitted a very short article about the upcoming Oysterville Schoolhouse Lecture Series – an announcement, really about Cate teaming up with Mary Garvey in a sort of reprisal of their last year’s presentation as singers of stories.

Cate’s Column

That event will occur on February 15th and it was as I was putting my thoughts together that I came face-to-face with the fact that Cate, once again, is putting herself in the background. When I asked her, for instance, what their program would look like, she said:

“We’ll sing, we’ll talk about the process of writing songs and, we’ll talk about our location and how this very place informs and inspires songwriting.  Also, I intend to talk about Mary as a contemporary Marine Shanty songwriter.  The fact that she is writing songs about current history is remarkable and unusual.  Many have been recorded and are being sung by others.  I have no doubt that they will continue to be sung long after we are dead in the tradition of folksongs everywhere.”

Is it just that she’s so used to putting others in the spotlight through her column that it’s automatically the way she thinks of things?  Take her poetry, for instance.  Even though she has been writing poetry for decades and has recently received her MFA in Creative Writing – magna cum laude! – from Pacific Lutheran she has arranged for several local poetry events featuring others with herself only tucked in around the edges.

New Graduate, 2016

And her teaching career –  years working in classrooms from Hawaii to mainland Indian reservations.  Or her own musical background and a lifetime of singing and composing.  Her talents and contributions go on and on but she seems to be fully committed to the hide-your-light-under-a-bushel way of life.  That and making all the rest of us look good!

Thanks, Cate!

For reasons of privacy…

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Ocean Beach Hospital

It’s a sad state of affairs when you go to the local clinic and/or hospital and know most of the people you encounter – not just the doctors, nurses, and front desk employees, but also the patients in the waiting rooms or coming through the doors.  And perhaps even the caregivers pushing their wheelchairs.

And I don’t mean ‘know’ as a synonym for ‘recognize’.  I mean know them because you’ve worked with them, had them as students in the classroom, been at parties and picnics with them… You know them as friends, neighbors, and community members from all parts of the Peninsula and, in a few cases, even beyond.

Tom and Sam Andrews’ Store, Oysterville 1915

That was the case yesterday when Nyel and I went down to the Ocean Beach Medical complex in Ilwaco.  We could hardly make our way to the registration point for all the greetings and good-to-see-yous going on!  We caught up on one another’s activities and concerns and learned about local news that we probably missed in the paper.  It was a lot like Old Home Week – a lot like it was a few decades ago at the Oysterville Store or at the Cottage Bakery in mid-winter, or Jack’s Country Store any day but a clam tide.

Undoubtedly, it speaks to the age of most of us – certainly for those, who for reasons of privacy, I’ll refer to as ‘patients’ – that the place de rigueur to meet and greet is a medical facility.  And, probably, were we not so old, we wouldn’t know as many of the worker bees, some of whom, for me, were parents of former students or were even those once-upon-a-time first-graders, themselves.  Me, being the social butterfly (and also NOT a patient yesterday) loved it all.  Even Nyel, remarked that it was great to catch up with several of the folks we hadn’t seen for a long time.

Ocean Park Clinic and Pharmacy

We are hoping, of course, that once the Ocean Park Clinic is up and running, some of our appointments can happen at this end of the Peninsula.  Then the chances for seeing folks we know will probably increase exponentially.  I almost want to say, “I can’t wait.”  But, really, I can.

The Sad. The Glad. The Unexpected.

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

2017 Christmas Portrait by Tucker

Yesterday was December 26th – Let Down Day.   Like the day after most big events, it was a little bit of a bummer.  The surprises were over.  Charlie said his goodbyes and headed homeward and I know I’ll be holding my breath til he calls that he is back and safe.  There was still a lot of cleaning up to do and we felt a little half-hearted as well as a little frantic about getting it done.  All a part of Let Down Day.

Marta’s Plan

On the other hand, Nyel was still feeling well and one of the girls presented him with a gorgeous brown egg – the fourth in the last ten or twelve days!  Marta is staying for another week and, as always, is up for whatever presents itself.  She has plans to go clamming for littlenecks on the bay, to take up our neighbor’s offer of a sauna, and to spend more time looking at family keepsakes.  Her positive energy is contagious and I try not to think of the next big Let Down Day next week when she bids us adieu.

Party! Party! Party!

Late in the afternoon, we opened our front door to visitors bearing armloads of gifts!  Michael, Lynn, and Regina came laden with cookies and banana bread, and home-made manicotti!  They stayed just long enough for us to catch up with the past year and for Nyel and I to realize that, so far, this newish friendship has been pretty much one-way!  In fact, this last year we’ve experienced that feeling a lot.  We are truly blessed, but still and yet… how to reciprocate to so many for so much?

As is often the way, our thoughts are focused on a party.   A Valentines Party all about hearts – as in ‘from the bottom of ours.’