Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

First Outing!

Monday, April 15th, 2019


Nyel took his first outing since TBF (The Big Fall) on February 28th.  Well… I’m not counting visits to the doctor.  There have been two of those, but I consider them practice runs, wheelchair-wise, for the fun stuff. And yesterday’s venture was definitely fun.  The final performance of “HMS Pinafore” at the Peninsula Playhouse in Ilwaco.

We’ve been to the Old Vic in London and to the various theaters at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and to many venues on Broadway – but none can compare with seeing your friends and neighbors in a community theater production up close and personal!  We loved it!

One of the ushers offered to seat Nyel (in his wheelchair) up front, “but the ship’s mast may be in his way,” she said.  My Nurse Ratched personality went into some kind of overdrive and before you could say “Damn the torpedoes” Nyel’s wheelchair had replaced one of the center aisle seats and Tucker and Carol had joined us for a perfect view – no mizzen, no mast, no disrupted sightlines.

During the intermission, Tucker asked if we’d ever been involved with community theater.  “Yes, years ago during the first incarnation of Peninsula Players,” I said.  It was during the ’80s – Lawrence Lessard was our first director; later, Alan Greiner and then Coleman White.  “Spoon River Anthology,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Seven Keys to Bald Pate,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Li’l Abner,” “Many Moons” – and others I’ve long forgotten about.

Our “Shoalwater Storytellers” evolved from those first Playhouse years – Lawrence and I plus Patty and Noel Thomas and Senta and Bob Cook at first.  Eventually just Lawrence and me and then Nyel and me – for almost 30 years!  I loved it all.  Would I do it again?  Nope.  Been there; done that.  I am content to enjoy this new generation of Players!  Encore!

…and not the jingle-jangle kind!

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Rooster Spurs

I got a lot of razzing when I announced to the Friday Nighters that the roosters were gone.  Also, oh nos and expressions of sympathy for them.  Say what?  Obviously, no one had paid attention to or believed my tales of distress as a victim, and no one had any idea of the damage the boys were causing to the hens.

Rooster Damage To Hen

Nyel and I, on the other hand, were both absolutely jubilant that those bad boys were gone, spurs and all.  Erik-the-Chicken-Godfather to the rescue!  He came over Friday afternoon well prepared – protective eye gear, heavy gloves, a heavy-duty fishing net, two strong cardboard boxes, and a new role of masking tape.   I had called and asked if he could box up the roosters so I could take them to the poultry auction in Chehalis and he had done his rooster-capturing homework.  Besides getting prepared for battle, the choice was to try hypnosis.  We thought he’d made a good call!


He began with the baddest of the bad boys – the black rooster.  The capture wasn’t the biggest struggle, though.  Getting him into the box and taping it shut was the dicey part.  Surprisingly, the white roo was harder to capture.  He put up more of a fight than the black rooster.  My theory about that: as the beta male, he was used to being on the defensive.  And he was good at it.  I saw the alpha roo confront him many times but the white roo’s fighting stance with white ruff extended always caused the aggressive black alpha to back off.  (More than once I wished for a white ruff – maybe like Queen Elizabeth the First wore.)

Making Capture Look Easy

To top off the capture, Erik offered to drive the roosters to Chehalis the next day! I hope he knows how truly grateful I am!  When I called last night to see how it went, he reported that it was a smooth delivery.  I hope those boys fetch enough money that Erik’s trouble will be repaid – at least a little.  A suitable thank you will need to wait until Farmer Nyel is able to participate – maybe a chicken dinner??

Quadruple Taping

Havetos and Gettos

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Sydney in Oysterville, 1939

When I was a young girl, I hadn’t heard of “the power of positive thinking” or of “the cup being half full.”  My life was simply a matter of havetos (as in you have to go to the dentist and get your braces tightened or you have to clean up your room)  and gettos (as in you get to go outside and play until dinnertime or you get to go see the new “Road” picture with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.)

It seems to me that most of the gettos were connected to ifyous.  If you put away your toys you get to listen to “Let’s Pretend” on the radio.  The havetos, of course, were decided upon by forces beyond your control like your parents, or by circumstances like getting sick.  And they were really serious like having to stay in bed or go to the doctor.  But, as I remember, my life was mostly gettos.  Thank goodness!

I didn’t realize until long after I was grown that not all of my playmates had as many gettos as I did.  For me, for instance, school was a getto.  The only haveto I associated with it was having to eat some breakfast before I left the house.  That always left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach and as soon as I went away to college, I gave up eating first thing in the morning.  (Ever since, breakfast is a getto if I can wait a few hours for it.)

I was amazed when I learned that some of my friends looked upon school as a haveto.   They thought of visiting the relatives as a haveto, also.  And, even of going to camp as a haveto!  They were the Eeyores among my friends.  I tried to stick with the Poohs and Piglets.

I remember hearing some older people made dire predictions and ominous statements – “when you grow up, you’ll realize…” or “enjoy being young while you can…”  I knew even then that they were referring to the grim realities and responsibilities of life as an adult when it would be all havetos and very few gettos.  But, I hadn’t heard of “making lemons out of lemonade” back then, either.

I’m happy to report that my life is still more gettos than havetos.  The number of doctor’s appointments are creeping up, of course, and housework and gardening definitely fall into a gray area… So far, though, the gettos are way out in front.  

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.