Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

And the winner is…

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving, November 26, 2020

If I were the deciding judge in a world-wide contest for  best “Holiday Gatherings During Covid” poster, I’d choose the 2020 Wachsmuth Family Thanksgiving photograph!  It arrived in my mailbox last night and I truly wish I knew if such a competition exists.  I think it would win hands down!

Our own photograph of Thanksgiving Scaled Down pales by comparison.  Besides which, even for a fabulous dinner for two, the chef here labored all afternoon in the kitchen and left ‘nary pot nor pan unused.  In fact, my first thought when I saw the Wachsmuth celebration photo was, “Lucky Carol!”  Even counting many willing hands to make light work, a virtual dinner for 17 is less work for everyone, both before and after.

I am assuming, of course, that the heavy lifting for their virtual dinner this year was done by  Tucker.  Not only is he an artist by training, but what I think of as his main body of work — A Christmas Card for each of the 50 years he and Carol have been married — has everything to do with family.  And I see by the recipients listed on the email for this Thanksgiving greeting, it had everything to do with family, as well.

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Besides that, the few times we’ve seen our Wachsmuth neighbors from afar in the last few weeks, the answer to  “What have you been up to these days?” has been a vague, “Oh you know… just puttering.”  “Some puttering!” we say!  Perhaps later Nyel can repeat his reaction when he saw the photograph, “This is amazing!  I wonder how much time it took him?”   And maybe Tucker will tell us.

But, maybe not.  You never can tell with artists!


In Honor of the Day

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

This year, our only turkey is this painting by a long-ago second grader.

Nyel and I have decided to make this Thanksgiving as memorable as we can and for all the right reasons.  We woke up recounting our blessings which began, of course, with family and friends — so many people who have been uncommonly good to us during this strangest of years.  How we wish we could exchange real hugs for this season’s virtual ones!

We’ve decided to pull out all the stops for our celebratory dinner.  My great-grandmother’s serving dishes, my grandmother’s china and crystal, my own silver place settings will adorn our table.  The  meal will feature a roast chicken (not one of ours!), garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and shrimp laden avocado halves all topped off by a dessert of Pear Kuchen from a recipe by Mary Funk.  We are even “dressing” for the occasion — Nyel in white shirt and vest and me in something other than jeans and a sweatshirt — a closet search is the order of the morning.

My Grandparents’ Golden Wedding Dinner, Thanksgiving Day 1947, Moby Dick Hotel

Nyel is recording the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Dog Show which we’ll watch this afternoon accompanied by guacamole and chips and an iced beverage or two.  (Watching television before nightfall is the height of decadence for me.  For Nyel, not so much, but together it will feel celebratory, indeed!)

And this evening, a “conference call” with Marta and Charlie.  It will put a cap on what we hope will be an “almost normal” Thanksgiving during this strangest of times — hopefully a day of peace, safety, and good health for us and for all our friends and loved ones.  And, most of all, a prayer for better days ahead.

Bill and Helper Holly to the Rescue!

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

Team Bill and Holly

We all know that the Deer People are not inclined to do their grazing on rooftops.  Until this morning, however, I’ve never before considered whether they might write thank-you notes.  If they discover the new stash of pears that our friend Bill dislodged from atop our cordless woodshed, I’ll have a little etiquette discussion with them.

After reading my blog of distress about those pesky pears, Bill wrote and offered his assistance.  I didn’t mean the blog as a call for help but, now that the woodshed roof is fruit free, I’m very glad that Bill is, by nature, a problem-solver. Since higher-than-I-am-comfortable would be involved, I was more than happy to say, “Yes, please!”

He brought his own ladder, his own tool (which looked like a long- handled window squeegee) and his daughter Holly, Sweeping Assistant Extraordinaire.  As it turned out, she “earned her keep” when the squeegee came loose from its moorings and followed the pears to the ground behind the woodshed.  Holly to the rescue without missing a beat (or a sweep, as it were.)

South of the Woodshed

If the Deer people are smart enough to look behind and to the south side of the woodshed, they will be sore amazed!  I know they will be grateful for the bounty, even if they are disinclined to write.  But, perhaps they will talk with me about it and I can drop a note to Bill and Holly on their behalf.

As for me… chilly as it was outside, my palms got a bit sweaty just watching Bill maneuver on that ladder.  I could only stay long enough to take a few pictures.  Both Nyel and I feel that we are in Bill’s debt once again!  And now, in Holly’s too!

Are we celebrating or mourning?

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

May Blossoms

We’ll miss the apple blossoms in May and the harvest in August.  And we’ll miss the tang of apples fresh from the tree and the special flavor of those Rajka Rezistas when transformed into apple sauce or apple pie or apple butter by Chef Nyel.  But we won’t miss the tree, itself — always leaning eastward, always struggling to hide its leaves and fruit from the deer people, and always in the way when Tom is mowing the south garden.

And now it’s gone.  It didn’t take long for Eugene and his chain saw to cut it off at ground level (or, actually, a bit below ) and to cart it off in his truck.  Farmer Nyel says we’ll cover the (sort-of-) stump with some of that good mole-hill dirt and sow some grass seed.  “By next summer, the tree will be but a memory.”

Apples on the Hoof

Sadly, yes.  Not only the memory of feathery flowers and delicious fruit, but of Randal and Susan and the Bays Boys harvesting those apples for us summer after summer.  Their timing with apple-picking was as perfect as their timing when playing music. Which is often why they were here around Labor Day Weekend every year — to perform at Vespers and, of recent years, to help out us old “honorary grandparents” (or so we think of ourselves, whether or not they do.)

Our Once-Upon-A-Time Apple Tree

Yesterday, Nyel made apple pan dowdy with the very last of this year’s harvest — a harvest which he managed, himself, standing on his one good leg with me and his wheelchair hovering (and trying not to) behind.  We’ll eat it for dessert this evening with mixed feelings and ice cream.  Another reminder that nothing lasts forever but, in this case, we hope we can hang on to those apple memories indefinitely.

The Zoom Boom: Reluctant Acceptance

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Why I don’t like zoom.

Like it or not (mostly not), we are zooming more frequently these days.  We’ve been to zoom birthday parties and reunions, to zoom meetings and zoom family get-togethers.  Now my Kuzzin Kris is proposing “Readers Theater by Zoom.”

Apparently it’s a new hot idea and leave it to Kris to be on the cutting edge!  In a meeting (by zoom, of course) with Nyel and me and her brother, Bruce, Kris proposed that we explore the possibilities.  She says that her son, Todd (who is an actor), will assist.  I’m not quite sure what that means but the four of us left our zoom recent zoom conversation with an “assignment” — to suggest possible plays.

There are a gazillion! At least.

As I thought about what sort of play might be palatable to these two reluctant Oysterville participants, I thought maybe getting started with a one-act — probably a  humorous one-act — might be okay.  So I went online to see what I could find.  OMG!  Readers theater on zoom is HUGE.  Everything from “Distance Learning with Readers Theater Scripts” and “Free Comedy One Act Plays” to “One-Act Plays Written for Zoom” are clotting up the internet.

Up Close & Personal During The Sheltering Time

I dove right in and selected a few titles to try.  But, truth to tell, I’d rather have Todd advise and select.  As his Uncle Bruce says, “Then we can blame Todd.”  I’m not quite sure what we’d be blaming anyone for, but maybe Bruce has an inside track.  Bruce has never steered us wrong before, so we are now in the waiting mode.  Stay tuned.

Jumping Up & Down & Clapping & Cheering!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Maggie, 1962

The very best thing EVER (besides good news for yourself) is good news for someone you care about and who deserves it more than you can possibly say.  And that would be what has just happened to our friend Maggie Stuckey!

First of all, you need to know that Maggie “has paid her dues.”  She left North Carolina in 1962  with a degree in English and has never looked back.  She headed for New York where she had a secretarial job waiting for her with a big publishing house.  Soon she was working as a copy editor, first for one publisher, then another.

“I lived in New York City (Upper West Side) for ten years; best time of my life,” she says.  “The economy was very strong; if you got tired of your job, you could quit and walk across the street and get another one the same day.”

In 1970, she moved to Los Angeles, “for what turned out be three very insignificant years,” she says.  “Then, in 1973 I fell in love and moved to Portland; today the boyfriend is gone, but I’m still here.”

About that time, she began writing — for other people as a ghost writer and for herself.  She’s written books about gardening and books about food.  Like us, you may even have her Soup Night on your kitchen shelf.

Last Spring, as we were all getting used to The Sheltering Times, Maggie came up with a new book idea.  She pitched it to her agent; her agent, Heather, contacted a few publishers and on October 3rd she wrote:  “This past week, things started popping. Two, then three, then four of the editors who received the proposal from my agent asked for a phone visit with me.  Four!  Wow…”

The upshot:  all were interested and so Maggie’s agent planned an auction for the publishing rights.  Maggie:  “Those calls happened last Tuesday and the day before, and that is undoubtedly the last of them. Because now we move on to the next phase.  Which is that Heather plans to check in with each of those four on Monday, to try to tease out just how serious is their interest. She has already made it clear that she intends to “close out” everything by the first of the week because she is planning an auction for Thursday or Friday.  An auction!  Holy s**t! I’ve never been in that position before…  Keep your fingers crossed for me.”

Smiling Maggie!

We did.  And yesterday she wrote:  “My new book is going to be published by a unit of Harper Collins. The financial terms are astonishing (the advance is almost three times more than the highest advance I ever received), and I really really like the publisher (the human being, not the company; well, I like the company too).  Pub date set for March 2022, delivery date March 2021 – both approximate.  In the final analysis, the 4-way auction dropped down to only two serious bidders, both Harper imprints. What an extraordinary experience for an author. I can’t stop smiling.”

Neither can we!



If you don’t have one, get on it!!!

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Today I just want to tell you that if you don’t have a friend like my friend Brigid, do everything in your power IMMEDIATELY to remedy the situation.  I have known Brigid for twenty or thirty years.  Or maybe more.  I don’t know her well — as in I don’t think I have ever met her son, Tom, or any other members of her family.  We’ve never travelled together, nor have we gone partying or double-dating.  Nevertheless, I consider her a good friend.  If you are lucky, there is a Brigid in your life.

Yesterday I received a present from Brigid.  I thought, at first, it was some sort of whacky greeting card.  The envelope was sort of fat, but fit into my P.O. box handily.  What it turned out to be is the best medicine a lady with an attack of degenerative disc disease could ask for.  Or so I am willing to believe.

Being pain free right now, I haven’t  yet applied one of these magical patches, but it is nice to know that there is an alternative treatment waiting in the wings — five “pages” of neat-and-tidy patches.   Best case scenario, of course, is that they won’t be needed anytime soon. The expiration date on the package says May 6, 2022, so Brigid has me  covered, so to speak, for some time to come.  Thirty times over!  WOOT!  WOOT!

Midst Fire and Ash: Blessings and Bounty!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Tomatoes from Harry and Linda

It’s not that Harry Schleef didn’t have plenty of other things on his mind.  He and Linda, with the help of grandson Evan, had managed to get their animals (horses, donkeys, llamas) out of their Level Two Oregon Fire environment to safety.  He had seen Evan and Linda on their way to Oysterville with six cats and two dogs and was staying at home to keep an eye on things… just in case.  You’d think he might want to take a breather — a figurative one, anyway.  Air Quality was hardly conducive to a literal one.

But no.  Harry’s tomatoes were ready to be harvested.  He delivered forty pounds to neighbors and when the fire danger was downgraded to Level One, he headed to the beach with more tomatoes for Linda.  It was a quick turn-around to get Evan who needed to begin school yesterday.  And besides, the winds could shift.

Nyel’s Travel Wheelchair

“Too many tomatoes for me,” Linda said when she called.  “Do you want some?”  Heavens, yes!  But… what a mixture of feelings went with the acceptance.  It was Harry and Linda who gave us Nyel’s first wheelchair — the collapsible one we now depend on when we travel to the doctor’s or to any destination where Nyel has to get out of the car and be mobile.  Little did any of us know that it was to be a lifetime necessity.  But they won’t hear of us returning it or even reimbursing them for it.  That’s just the way they are!  And now, when their whole world is threatened beyond comprehension, they are distributing tomatoes!!!

Special Delivery at the Coop – 9/14/20

Meanwhile, our recalcitrant chickens gave us THREE (count ’em… one! two! three!) eggs yesterday!  They seemed very nonchalant about it but I do believe that they have finally mastered the word “EGG!”  When I thanked them and held up their lovely creations I almost heard them cluck “your welcome.”  Surely, it wasn’t my imagination.


“The Dark Divide” is on its way!

Thursday, September 10th, 2020

Coming September 18th!

If you are a Robert Michael Pyle fan or a Bigfoot fan or a Giants in the Trees fan… take note!  At long last the trailer for “The Dark Divide” is out and available for viewing on YouTube and FaceBook.  The movie comes to the big screen on September 18th and will be showing the 18th-20th at the Columbian in Astoria.  Woot!  Woot!

The film is based on Bob’s 1995 book, Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide.  It stars David Cross as Bob and Debra Messing as Bob’s late wife, Thea.  Although I’ve watched the trailer a half dozen times now, I’m still having trouble acceptinng Mr. Cross as Bob — not his looks or voice or mannerisms…

The Book – First Edition

But a trailer is not a good way to judge; I’m hoping my willing suspension of disbelief kicks in when I see the full movie.  Bob mentioned in his email announcement that Debra Messing is “a truly remarkable Thea” and I so hope he’s right.  Like Bob, the real Thea was so special and distinctive, it’s hard to imagine anyone capturing her on the silver screen — even Debra Messing.

The cinematography looks to be amazing — most of it centered in  Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest, from Mount Rainer to the Columbia Gorge,  — and that, of course, is probably the important part if it’s to be at all reflective of the original book.   The screenplay was written by Bob and director Tom Putnam so, presumably, Bob is fine with whatever deviations there are from the book.  (I’m never quite sure what “based on” means.  Sometimes any vestige of the “original” is lost on me.)   After I’ve seen it, I hope I get a chance to talk to him about it.  I’m also eager to see (or, more to the point, hear) how much of the musical score is provided by Giants in The Trees.

Robert Michael Pyle

What a treat for all of us local fans!  I can hardly wait.  Meanwhile, I think I’ll re-read the book.  If memory serves, we bought our copy from the author, himself, when he did a signing at our book store, The Bookvendor, back in the day.  Wow!  So long ago, now.  And now we can say, “We knew him when…”  Actually, we’ve been saying that about Bob for years!

Plums! Plums! Plums! — Plum Delicious!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020


Last year we didn’t get any plums.  I think we were otherwise occupied with Nyel’s recovery from his hip removal.  (Yes… not replacement.  Removal.)  So the plums went to the birds, or perhaps to bright-eyed visitors as they walked by.  At least we hope so.  The whole picking season went by without a thought from us.

This year, though, Nyel had been out on an “orchard” inspection (if one apple tree, one pear tree and one plum tree constitute an orchard) in his wheelchair and saw that those plums were ready.  “The first good crop since we planted the tree,” he said.  That was about ten years ago.  Actually, they are Italian prunes, not really plums, and they are probably my all-time favorite fruit.

Amelia and Tucker at Work

So Nyel called Tucker and, before you could repeat the title of Judy Eron’s song, “I Picked His Plum Tree Bare,” he and his granddaughter Amelia had done just that.  They gave us half (maybe more!) — certainly enough to eat and eat and eat.

Nyel is looking up recipes, too.  He found one for plum cake which sounds really good.  And also for plum tarts, plum cobbler, and plum turnovers.  What’s more, he thinks we have enough plums to make each recipe with plenty left over for fresh fruit snacks!  And that’s plum perfect by my way of thinking.  Yes!  Plum Perfect!