Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Willie Bays Streaming Live from NYC!

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Willie Bays

Anyone who has ever seen a kid off at an airport or train station can relate to this email I received from Randal Bays yesterday:

Very big day for our family, I just put our first-born on a plane for New York City… he’s totally excited and happy to be stepping out into the world, but his dad is feeling a strong mix of emotions… happy, proud, anxious, sad. It feels like sending a kid off to college must feel, except he’s only 15. :-

Willie is playing alto sax in the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.  According to the Festival Website:

Each year, Monterey Jazz Festival brings together 21 of the most accomplished high school jazz musicians from across the country to form an all-star touring jazz orchestra. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra meets each summer to rehearse with Education Director Paul Contos before embarking on a domestic or international tour that includes performances at several well-known jazz festivals. The program culminates in a main stage performance in September at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the annual Artist-In-Residence.           

Monterey Jazz Festival Arena, 2012 – Photo (c) by Cole Thompson

The second performance of their tour — at the Dizzy Cub Coca-Cola in Lincoln Center this Sunday — will be streaming live at at 4:30 Pacific Daylight Time and we’ll be watching, you betcha!  As Randal wrote, perfect timing – right after the Oysterville Vesper Service! That’s important for all sorts of reasons, but most especially because the rest of Willie’s family will be the featured music at Vespers this week – The Bays Family Irish Band (minus Willie.)  Were Willie here, he’d be playing Irish flute with mom and dad on their fiddles and brother Owen on his concertina.  But Willie is a continent away and off on the adventure of his young life!

In addition to their Sunday gig at Lincoln Center, Tour dates for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra include:

Waiting for Willie…

June 24 – Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center, Tannersville, NY
June 27 – Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Rochester, NY
June 28 – TD Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 29, – Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sept. 14 – Concert on the Lawn, Garden Stage, Monterey, CA
Sept. 14 – Jazz Legends Gala, Pebble Beach, CA
Sept. 17 – 60th Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, CA

To take a look at the bios of the 21 “Next Gen” (as they call themselves) members and learn more about what’s in store for them, check out the Monterey Jazz Festival website at

And if you’re looking for us after the Sunday vesper service, you’ll find us watching Willie streaming live from New York City.  No one except his parents could be any prouder of him than we are!

A Saturday in 2/4 Time!

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Helen and Cameron

All of a sudden, yesterday became doubly brighter – despite the rain!  Cameron Griffith (soprano) and Helen Dietz (alto), two members of our all-time-favorite quartette, came calling.  They were in Astoria for last night’s performance by the Portland Symphonic Choir at the Liberty Theater.

The night before Cameron had written:  I know this is short notice but Helen and I are singing in Astoria for the music festival. We must be there by 11:00 am for rehearsal and the performance isn’t until 7:30 and we are on the second half. Could we come for a visit and a rest?

All Four

You bet!  We were so pleased they put us in their busy loop!  Usually (but not always) we see Helen and Cameron as two of the four Rose City Mixed Quartet.  The group has been coming to Oysterville since 2007 – usually each year, either for a House Concert or to perform at Vespers or, once, for the funeral of our neighbor Carol Nordquist.  On those occasions, of course, Mark Peterson (bass) plus Dale Weber (tenor) make four!

We first met (actually it was a ‘pick-up’) outside the (of all places!) Liberty Theater back in 2005.  We were among a group huddled outside in the rain waiting for the theater to open when the four of them stepped up and began to sing!  Afterwards, I approached them and asked, “Do you ever do House Concerts?  Would you consider coming to Oysterville?”  And the rest is history…so to speak.

Enroute to Oysterville, 2016

We’ve ‘entertained’ them separately in Oysterville; they have more than reciprocated in Portland.  One or more or all of the four have ferried us to the airport, provided overnight accommodations, serenaded Nyel at the hospital, invited us to birthday celebrations and on and on.  Yesterday’s visit by the two distaff members of the group was an unexpected delight!

The entire group will be here in August on “Regatta Weekend” when they will be the music part of our Oysterville Music Vespers!  But… maybe we’ll see them individually or severally between now and then.  You never know with the RCMQ!

Hugs Across the River and Back

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

The Liberty Theater, Astoria

“The world is too much with us, late and soon…”  Those familiar words of William Wordsworth’s, written in 1802 have been rattling around in my head these past weeks and months.  Not quite in the sense that Wordsworth wrote them, though.  His sonnet criticizes the world of the First Industrial Revolution for being overly absorbed in materialism and distancing itself from nature – a situation he considered endangering our humanity and spirituality.

Although I say “amen” to that viewpoint, my own take on the world right now is that it is conspiring to overtake me and my honeybunch, personally, in accidents and illnesses and dire, almost insurmountable disorder.  When that happens, one tends to lose sight of the bigger picture – never a happy or healthy happenstance.

Israel Nebeker

So… thank goodness for friends!  Right now, right when we need them, folks seem to be contacting us from every corner inviting, reminding, urging…  It’s the Astoria Music Festival and, though I hate to say it, were it not for our friends, it would have gone right by us!  We would probably have continued wallowing in our own little sea of troubles, oblivious to the joyous possibilities just an hour away.  For this, for everything, we are out of tune said Mr. Wordsworth.  Were it not for our friends, that could have been our story.

As sometimes happens, though, the fates merged yesterday when we received one phone call and two emails – all from disparate people/locations – focusing our attention back to the world of music that has arrived right at our doorstep.  First our friend Paul Brent in Seaside called inviting us to “Beethoven and Blue Jeans featuring Israel Nebeker” at the Liberty Theater next Thursday night!  Thank you and yes!!

Aaron Larget-Caplan

Later, an email from classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, a friend and Oysterville House Concert performer, reminding us of his June 23rd performance at Clatsop College and a gig the following night at the Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.  The latter date was already on our calendar (for a wonder!) so I wrote and assured Aaron that we’d see him then!

And, finally, just before bedtime, a note from soprano Cameron Herbert that she and Helen Dietz (both of the Rose City Mixed Quartet, also House Concert performers) would be performing tonight at the Liberty with the Portland Symphonic Choir and could they come over for a visit between their 11 o’clock rehearsal and their 7:30 performance?  Oh boy and how!  She’ll be calling this morning to fine tune…

“The world is too much with us” has given way to “What a Difference a Day Makes” and I am rejoicing that Wordsworth’s gloomy words have suddenly been replaced by the upbeat voice of Dinah Washington.  And maybe Shakespeare too: “If music be the stuff of love…”  And wasn’t it Jackson Pollock who said “Love is friendship set to music”?

Well… there you have it!

The Queen of Flowers – Fit for a King!

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Peonies from Stephanie

Our Friday night gathering had already begun by the time Nyel and I arrived yesterday, thanks to our neighbors Tucker and Carol.  They had graciously agreed to be surrogate hosts when, suddenly, yet another test was scheduled for Nyel. In Portland. Yesterday afternoon.

We knew we’d get home a little late, plus we knew we’d be tired, having travelled from Seattle to Portland to home…  It was definitely one of those everything-happens-at-once times.  (We seem to be having a lot of those lately.)

It was lovely to arrive to a houseful of friends – and with several more coming through the gate just behind us.  It felt warm and welcoming and cheerful.  “I hope that’s how our usual Friday night guests feel when they come through the door,” was my fleeting thought.

Red Peonies c. 1850 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

It was a few minutes before I had occasion to go to the kitchen for something and there, on the counter, was a bouquet of white peonies, still wrapped in their florist’s paper!  Stephanie!  I knew they were from her.  She often arrives at this house with flowers.  The part I also knew (but she didn’t) is that peonies are Nyel’s all-time, top of the list, favorite flowers.

Nyel’s grandmother grew peonies.  She and his grandpa lived just a few blocks away, in Montpelier, Idaho, and Nyel has fond memories of those peonies – memories so vividly described to me that this morning I asked him for “that picture of his grandmother in her peony garden.”  I swear I’ve seen it, but Nyel says that, as far as he knows, there never has been such a picture!

Peony, by Chinese artist Wang Qian, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Our own attempts at growing peonies have been dismal.  Teresa at the Planter Box says it’s because our winters are too mild (which, Nyel says, was certainly not true of Idaho) and she suggested that we take ice outside every morning for a few weeks in winter and place it around the plants.   (Like that’s going to happen…)  So, we are content with the one or two blossoms that come to fruition each spring.

And here was a whole bouquet!  Until I buried my nose in them, I had no idea of their delicately sweet fragrance.  No wonder the Chinese call the peony “Queen of Flowers!”  They are said to remind people of wealth, fortune, and prosperity.  I don’t know about that, but peonies definitely make me think of Nyel… and of his grandmother who I never met.

“The Mighty Franks”

Friday, June 9th, 2017

With Author Michael Frank

By the time we arrived, the room was a-buzz – probably thirty-five or forty people, glasses of Perrier or wine in hand, milling around with one eye on author Michael Frank, the star of the evening.  Michael moved easily from group to group, dispensing handshakes and hugs and looking for all the world like the sophisticated host of a cosmopolitan cocktail party.  We’ve seen Michael in that role many times before — whether or not he is hosting and whether or not there’s a party.

No, wait!  Not a ‘role’ at all.  It’s just Michael! To the manner born, you might say.  It doesn’t even seem surprising that his first book, a memoir, is taking the world by storm.  Yes, the world!  “The Mighty Franks” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, just two or three weeks ago – published simultaneously in five (count ‘em five) languages!  It has received high marks from the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and on and on!

“The Mighty Franks”

Already Michael has done book talks and signings in Los Angeles and San Francisco to say nothing of a fabulous ‘book launch’ at the home of a friend in New York City.  If all the attention has turned his head, it doesn’t show a bit.  As we entered the room and he spied us across the way he gave a wonderfully surprised greeting – more hugs and exclamations (You came all the way from the beach?!!) and made sure we had something to drink and connected with his brother, Dan.  The best host ever — as always!

Then it was “show time.”  Michael was introduced, took center stage, eschewed the mic, and told us about the book.  It centers on members of his extraordinary family – some of whom Nyel and I have known almost as long as we’ve known each other.  Michael and his two brothers and his parents were all at -ceremonythe 3rd Annual Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Gala (a fund-raiser we put on in our garden for 19 consecutive years) in 1987.  At that particular event, two important things happened – Nyel and I were married in an unannounced-until-then-ceremony, and we first met the Franks. “The Mighty Franks” as it turns out — or part of them!

Elliott Bay Book Company

During the Q&A portion of the evening, someone asked Michael how he was feeling about all the attention he and his book are getting.  Michael’s response was along the lines of loving it but it’s only been two weeks so it’s too early to tell.  I made a mental note to ask him a similar question in August after some of the dust settles.  He and his immediate family (who live in NYC) will be in Seaview then for their annual family get-together.  “I’ll call you,” he said.  “I want you to come to the house for dinner.”  I didn’t say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. By then you’ll be too famous for the likes of us.”  Actually, I didn’t even think it.  I’m pretty sure Michael will always be Michael – a mighty Frank, to the manner born!

Ode to A Petrified Clam

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

The Perfect Little Black Bag

The presentation made to Nyel and me by Double ‘J’ and the Boys at Sunday’s concert was unprecedented in oh! so many ways.  First of all, I don’t think any other musicians have ever done such a thing.  Thanking us, yes.  Profusely thanking us, yes.  But a gift?  The bar has definitely been raised!

And what a gift it was!  Actually, two gifts in three parts.  First: a black carryall emblazoned with the logo from The Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering – an event I’ve actually hankered to attend!  The bag is the perfect size for me – not too huge, with straps that fit over my shoulder and allow the bag to tuck right under my arm rather than hanging and banging at knee level.  (I’m sorta short.)  Plus, it has a large outside pocket, a net thingy maybe for a water bottle if I ever thought to carry one, and a metal ring for hanging stuff off of.  Plus, the top zips closed for security purposes.  I’ve claimed the bag part of the presentation for myself.

Petrified Clam, Texas Size

But wait!  Before I’d had a chance to fully register all of the above, Judy (with magician-like precision) extracted parts two and three of this never-ending gift – the front and back sides of a petrified clam!  Now, that’s something you don’t see every day!  Not unless you spend your winters in the wilds of Texas as Judy and Charlie do.  Apparently, they run across petrified items every once in a while.  “But finding matching halves is unusual!” Judy said.

I don’t know what that clam weighed when it was alive, back when Texas was under water and no one was around to brag about the size of things in the Lone Star State.  But now that minerals have replaced all the once living clam cells, the petrified version weighs fourteen ounces.  Almost a pound!  Perfect paper weights for Nyel’s desk!  If I knew how to write an ode (in keeping with the poetry piece of this gift), I would definitely commemorate this hefty clam.  Something like –

Petrified Clam Halves – 14 ounces worth!

Oh, huge and silent mollusk of so long ago,
Your sea birth unremarked by ancient mariners!
Overlooked by cowpokes, but not by yodeling Judy
Or by Charlie of the sharp snappy snake boots.
Welcome to our bayside home!  Can you smell the sea again?

Better yet… maybe Judy will write one of her inimitable songs!  I mean, how many songwriters have tackled a petrified clam?

Through the Eyes of a Friend

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Our Garden at Twilight by Stephanie

One of the nicest perks of friendship is that warm glow you feel when you realize that you see eye-to-eye with one another on something.  My friend Stephanie Frieze’s photographs on FaceBook this morning seemed like a literal manifestation of the way we felt about yesterday’s House Concert by Double ‘J’ and the Boys.

Janet of Double ‘J’ and the Boys by Stephanie

That she loved the concert, I have no doubt.  I think everyone in the audience did.  But, more than that, some of the outstanding details that caught my eye throughout the evening were right there in Stephanie’s photographs – Mark in his fabulous hat; Cec’s stunning braid; our garden at twilight.  There was even one of me that captured me at a moment that I was so entranced with the music that, somehow, I didn’t recognize myself for a moment!  (How does that work, anyway?)

Cec’s Braid by Stephanie

To top it all off,  Stephanie posted a video of one of my all-time favorite Judy Eron songs, “Social Security.”  Judy dedicated it to me and Stephanie has captured it for my continued listening pleasure right there on FaceBook!  (Should I revise this blog’s title to read ‘Through the Eyes and Ears of a Friend’?)

Mark in Hat by Stephanie

As Stephanie’s photos show, it was a wonderful evening!  The music was quintessential Double ‘J’ and the Boys — zany, serious, upbeat; the audience was full of friends (old and new); and, as always, the potluck dinner afterwards was delectable.   It was a fitting last-of-the-season event – one that carries the promise of more to come when September rolls around.

So… if you have a special occasion coming up and, like me, are likely to forget all about the photo ops, I can only hope that you have a friend like Stephanie nearby.  Especially a friend with whom you see eye-to-eye!

The Bays Boys: First Place Winners!

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Willie and Owen

It’s getting to be a habit – the best kind I can think of.  Irish fiddler, Randal Bays sent this email message yesterday:

Dear friends and family, We have some exciting news… both Willie and Owen won first place on their instruments at the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil  in St. Louis this weekend, one of two events in North America that qualify the winners to go to Ireland and compete in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil this summer.  We are very proud of these guys, not just for their musical abilities but for their great attitudes and all the effort they put into preparing for this competition.

Fabulous!!  But what exactly is a Fleadh Cheoil and how in the world do you pronounce it? According to good old Google, “The Fleadh Cheoil (Irish Pronunciation: [f?l?a? ço?l?], meaning “festival of music”) is an Irish music competition run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ). … North America has two regional qualifying Fleadh Cheoil.”

Bays Family Band

That didn’t help much – especially with the pronunciation, so I went to and watched and listened.  Still no help.  Whatever Irish genes I have (presumably quite a few on both sides of my family) they do not include a natural gift for the language or the brogue.

But, DNA and ancestral genes aside, we couldn’t be prouder of our young friends Owen and Willie!  They both qualified last year, as well, and the entire family were off to Ireland – the first trip for the boys and the first chance for Randal to introduce his family to his many friends there.  Randal, though American born and bred, is well-loved and respected in Ireland and bears the distinction of being the only non-Irish-born musician to have a recording of Irish fiddle music in Ireland’s top ten. The Irish Examiner, the third largest newspaper in Ireland, deemed Bays “a rare beast, a master of both the fiddle and the guitar”, and Fiddler Magazine said he is “among the best Irish style fiddlers of his generation.”


And the Bays Boys’ mom, Susan, is no slouch either. Not only is she a fine fiddler in her own right, but she also holds a PhD in Ecology from the University of Washington. Currently she works as a Rare Species Ecologist and coordinates federal, academic and non-profit partners in restoration and reintroduction actions in prairie habitat with special interest in the federally endangered Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. (Wow! How’s that for a mouthful!)

If only I could add a category to my bucket list of what I want to be next time I grow up!  I’m sure it would have something to do with living in the Bays-Waters family, at least now and then, with special emphasis on being a roadie on their journeys to the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which, of course, I’d know how to pronounce to perfection!



A Tea and Posy Day

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

My Grandmother’s Teapot

It’s not every day that our doorbell rings twice, each time with a lovely surprise.  But yesterday it did!  First came Pat Fagerland and, although she was ‘expected’ and we had planned to have tea, she immediately began pulling surprises out of her commodious bag of tricks.  First came a carton of half and half, next a package of cookies, followed by a tea infuser, a package of Earl Gray tea – everything we needed for a tea party except the hot water and the cups and saucers!  It was like Mary Poppins had come calling!

Willard, Edwin, Dale – 1916

We had a lovely “catch-up” afternoon and even with a bit of ‘family history’ thrown in.  Although I’m sure we had used the little blue teapot before, I hadn’t told Pat its story so yesterday I did.  The teapot was a birthday gift to my grandmother from my mother back in 1917.

Mom was five (and a half!) years old.  She had been saving her money to buy her Mama a present and asked her father’s permission to ride Danny to Trondsen and Petersen’s store in Nahcotta to make a special purchase all on her own.  Family friend Dean Nelson worked there and helped her choose the beautiful little blue teapot.  It cost the full amount she had saved – twenty-five cents!  Dean wrapped it carefully with brown paper and tied it securely around little Date’s waist – (Papa wouldn’t let the children use saddles; “too dangerous” he said) and she trotted home with her precious package.  It’s been in use in this house ever since.

While Pat was here, the doorbell rang once more.  “Flower delivery!  Happy Mother’s Day!”  The florists had outdone themselves once again!  A gorgeous bouquet and never mind that they had forgotten to note who it was from on the card.  I was pretty sure it was Charlie, though I did call to double-check!  So many people do so many nice things for me these days – like bring a tea party in a bag! – that I just had to make certain that those gorgeous posies were from my son!

It was a grand Friday – one full of reminders of the many blessings of friendship and family!  And this morning – a little sunshine to bask in!  It doesn’t get much better.

Teacher Appreciation Week

Monday, May 8th, 2017

This Year – May 8th – 12th

Next week, May 8-12, is National Teacher Appreciation Week – a five-day week, apparently in keeping with our traditional five-day school week.  And Tuesday the 9th is Teacher Appreciation Day.  I wouldn’t have known any of that had it not been for a FaceBook post by former student Kelli Lucero.

“For teacher appreciation week, can you name your teachers K-6??” she wrote.  While I was noodling that over (Kindergarten, Miss Thompson; Fifth Grade, Miss Hamilton) and lamenting that I couldn’t recall any of the others, my own name popped out at me.  There I was, listed as Kelli’s third grade teacher!  How many years ago, I wondered… Probably 1985/1986 when I was still Mrs. LaRue.  (Thanks for remembering, Kelli!)

Center Stage: The Amazing Mr. Wonderful

Besides her K-6 teachers, Kelli also mentioned other “amazing teachers who left a mark” – among them Mr. McQuarrie (aka “Mr. Wonderful.”) I find it more than co-incidental that just about the exact time Kelli was posting her appreciation, I was having dinner with the amazing, Don McQuarrie, himself!  We were at the Bridgewater Bistro across the river for our annual dinner get-together.  Five couples, all of whom still live in the area except for Don and Laura who moved to Linden, WA twenty-five or thirty years ago, before their own kids began school.

A few years before or after Kelli was in my class, her brother Pat was also one of my students.  He was part of the huge class that John Snyder and I team-taught.  Years later, when I was collecting memories for my book, Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades, Kindergarten Teacher Margaret Staudenraus (also on Kelli’s list) said:

From Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades

The first year that John Snyder and Sydney LaRue (Stevens) team-taught, they asked all the kids in the room who were related to one another to stand up.  Of their 57 students, about half of them stood.  Then they asked those who were still seated to stand if they were related to anyone in the rest of the school.  When all was said and done, only three kids remained sitting down!

Great memories! I don’t know if there is a ‘Student Appreciation Week’ or not.  Actually, it doesn’t matter.  I’m totally content with the thought that I loved every part of my 39 years in the classroom and that all these years later ‘my kids’ and I have so many wonderful shared memories!