Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

A Nine-Minute Drive; A One-Minute Walk

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Anja Patten Sings”The Telephone” Aria by Gian Carlo Menotti

There’s nothing like a hug to make the world feel a little more do-able.  I seem to get lots of them these days – one of the perks of being a little old lady, no doubt.  And, I’ve come to realize, a good hug is not the only kind of heart-warming embrace that I’m fortunate enough to receive on a regular basis.  Music is another!  How lucky we are here on the Peninsula to have access to so many musical opportunities.

Barbara Poulshock, A Cate Gable Photograph

Yesterday I drove nine minutes from here to the Lutheran Church on ‘U’ Street to a “Musical Afternoon” performance by Barbara Poulshock and Anja Patten.  Barbara (at 90) is considered a Peninsula Treasure.  She has had a full life as a pianist, composer, and teacher of voice and piano, and, despite occasional lip-service to “slowing down” shows no sign of doing so.  Anja, a recent graduate of Whitworth University, is at the other end of things – soon to begin graduate school and then to launch her career in… social work!

Or, at least, that is this magnificent young soprano’s plan.  At the reception following the program, more than one person remarked, “But she could reach far more people with that gorgeous voice than she could through social work…”  Anja smiled through the compliments and well-meant musical encouragement.  Barbara also smiled with a teacher’s ‘time will tell’ kind of patience and a lifetime of knowing that each of us must follow our passion, no matter how it seems to observers.

Tom Trudell

Today, a one-minute (or less) walk will take me across the street to the Oysterville Church where two more local musicians will be playing at Vespers this afternoon.  Pianist Tom Trudell and vocalist/guitar-player Brian O’Connor will share center stage for the music portion of today’s service.  Both men are familiar figures in our local music scene.  Each of them mostly heard in solo performances – often as ‘regulars’ at venues on either side of the river.

Brian O’Connor

Tom and Brian are old-hands at Vespers.  Their performances are always so relaxed – laid back to the max – that I am left feeling that their selections were chosen with me, personally, in mind.  I have no doubt that every single audience member feels the same way and will leave the church this afternoon believing that they have had a Sunday hug times two!

A Flood of Memories!

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Kay Buesing

We had reserved seats but, when it became obvious that Nyel would not be leaping out of his hospital bed in time for the curtain, I asked Kay Buesing if she’d like to be my date.  And so it was that we went to see PAPA’s final evening performance (There’s a matinee today!  Go!) of “She Loves Me.”

After all, Kay and I and community theater go back a long time.  Back to 1980 when we were part of the founding group of Peninsula Players – in the days of Lawrence Lessard and Fritz Hahn and Ginny Leach and Martha Sommer.  I have a vision of the two of us prancing around on stage (Were we auditioning for something?) – me singing “I’m a Little Teapot” and Kay laughing (or was she cringing?)

Brooke Flood, 1998

The last time I saw “She Loves Me” was at the Bowmer Theater at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and I remember being impressed with the outstanding talents of every single performer.  As last night’s performance unfolded (a literal description of that magical set!) I was equally impressed with the voices and the dancing and the mysterious suspension of disbelief that the ensemble created.  I was sucked right in.

The two female leads – Hope Bellinger and Brooke Flood – I’ve known since they were chubby-cheeked little girls.  Hope, so shy yet so accomplished, struggling to get up on the piano bench at Vespers and play a solo with perfect aplomb.  Brooke, my student in first, second, and third grades at Long Beach School – was there anything she couldn’t do well?  Though I’ve followed both of them all these years, watching them (like half of the community!) with neighborly pride, I still felt so blessed to see them together on stage all these years later.

Ron Thompson, 2012

And the male lead?  Ron Thompson!  The last time I saw him, he was here tuning my piano!  He had done a House Concert here (a pianist!) and had mentioned that if I ever needed a piano tuner… I can’t remember how many years he returned… and it took me a few beats last night to realize that this accomplished actor/singer was that same Ron Thompson!  Wow!

Such pleasant associations with these three young people – the memories wafted over me throughout the evening.  The topper was when Brooke called to me as we were leaving and I met her five-and-a-half-month-old son, William.  He smiled and reached his little hands out to me and nestled his cheek against mine!  I was instantly in love.  And so, we all decided, was William!

What a fabulous evening!  Layers and layers of memories… and still the beat goes on!

The pleasure is all mine!

Friday, August 4th, 2017

In Carol’s Greenhouse

We were really pleased when Tucker and Carol put us in charge of the birds and plants at their place for a few weeks.  Finally!  We could return just a bit of their many, many caretaking duties with our chickens!  Nyel said he’d scatter birdseed each early morning; I offered to water Carol’s gorgeous potted plants – berries and vegetables and colorful flowers both in and out of her greenhouse.  “Every other day would be fine,” she said.  No one thought “heatwave!”

Things didn’t start well, though.  Nyel was in the hospital the day they left and for most of that first week.  But the gods were smiling on us all.  Tucker and Carol’s son Clark was at their place for exactly the right time period – we couldn’t have planned it better!  So, when we were finally home and could take up our tasks, all was well.  Except Nyel, who is not so spiffy.

Peter Amongst The Lettuces

So, I’ve been doing ‘double duty’ and, I have to say, I am enjoying my experience immensely.  The birds were a bit skittish at first.  I felt them watching me from the trees, but they were shy about showing themselves.  Gradually, they have become braver and this morning I practically had to shoo them away – goldfinches at the thistle feeders, stellar jays and juncos, a robin or two, and a couple of mourning doves, all after their favorites from the wild bird seed Tucker left.

But that wasn’t all the wildlife that greeted me.  In the greenhouse, a bright green tree frog hopped out from behind a tomato plant and we looked at each other for quite a while.  S/he seemed in no hurry to return to protective cover and I enjoyed the early morning company.  And then… a gray squirrel came off the deck as I headed for the hanging basket of fuchsias.  Unlike the frog, though, she didn’t hang around to get fully acquainted.   One quick look at me and she was off, darting behind the big pot of peas next to the boathouse.

Carol’s Fuchsia

I wanted to linger to see who else might arrive but… it’s Nyel’s birthday and we have places to go and people to see (and miles to go before we sleep!).  I almost felt guilty when I got home and described my feeding and watering adventures to him.  It was one time that I really didn’t want to admit that the pleasure was all mine.

And last night it was… Club Fred!

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The Birthday Boy

In the seventies, among the wanna-be jet set, Club Meds were all the rage.  I never went to one – it always sounded a bit too-too for my tastes, but the very term “Club Med” was synonymous with ‘Party! Party! Party!”

When I moved here in the late seventies and met Larry Weathers and some of his Seattle cohorts, I heard a lot about their friend, Fred.  “When Fred arrives, the party begins!  We call him Club Fred.” they told me.  I never did get to meet their friend Fred, but I’ve never forgotten the way those who knew him lit up just at the mention of his name.

Double J and the Boys

I thought about that last night at Fred Carter’s 70th birthday party. It was a full house at the Senior Center and, even though grayheads were in the majority, there was no doubt that a party was goin’ on!  When the Birthday Boy arrived, the decibel level ramped up even further.   “Wow!” I thought!  “The Peninsula has its own Club Fred!”

He was truly surprised, though he said that, in retrospect, there had been lots of clues.  I have to hand it to his wife, Vicki.  The plan has been in the works for well over a month and, to look at the array of celebrants, there wasn’t a pocket of the Peninsula that didn’t know about it.  Only Fred.

Fred and Vicki

It was a potluck and, as is customary here at the beach, everyone outdid themselves.  I wish I had seen the cake.  It had something to do with being an old dog and we heard there was a pile of melted chocolate bars of ‘doggie-do’ on it.  If you know Fred and Vicki and their animal menagerie, you didn’t have to see it to get the humor.

And, there was music – just a tad – by Double J and the Boys.  They hadn’t come to play but they had come prepared.  “We always travel with instruments, Charlie Watkins told me.”  They played only one lively number and it was just for Fred.  He laughed and clapped and danced a spritely jig – not at all in keeping with his venerable age!  Vicki sat nearby, looking bemused as she often does when Club Fred is center stage.  It was a great party and we were pleased to be included!

Timing Is Everything!

Friday, July 28th, 2017

When we left the beach on a Thursday to get Nyel admitted to Emanuel Hospital early Friday morning, we probably had an inkling.  Our hope was that his heart problems would be an easy fix and that we would be home by Monday in time to meet our promised, neighborly responsibilities.  Tucker and Carol were leaving for Germany that day and we had agreed to scatter their morning wild birdseed and water the plants – small payback indeed for all the chicken-sitting they have done for us over the years.

We should have known better.  This was our third hospital admission specifically to determine how to treat Nyel’s congestive heart failure.  Each time, it’s been a bit different but, each time, it has involved at least five days in the hospital.  This time it was seven.

Mark in Hat

It’s always a day-by-day thing – watching the numbers, measuring the pressures and the fluids, planning yet another ‘procedure’ – and never with a projected date of discharge.  By Saturday morning, though, we knew we weren’t going to make it home in time to say “bon voyage” (or, more properly “Gute Fahrt”) to Carol and Tucker so… I emailed Mark and asked him if he could help us out.

Mark and Sandra live up on Douglas Drive – a short enough distance that they often walk their dogs right by our house on their daily trip to the post office.  I was trying to think how long we’ve been neighbors and friends – probably close to twenty years.  We met them at another neighbor’s house before Nyel and I had moved into the family house and before Mark and Sandra had moved here full-time from Seattle.

I don’t know where the line between ‘neighbors’ and ‘friends’ is, but in the case of Mark and Sandra it blurred away long been.  We’ve met one another’s children.  We see each other almost weekly at our Friday Night Gatherings.  They have been our most faithful House Concert goers (is that a word?) since the beginning.  We clap and cheer for Sandra’s amazing knitting projects and oooh and aaah over her clever jewelry creations.  Mark was a huge help to me when I wrote The North Beach Peninsula’s IR&N – especially at identifying photos of old rolling stock and locations along the rail line.  Plus, Mark has been the Go-To-Guy for any Oysterville water woes since the pipes were laid for our co-operative Water Company.

Chicken Coop in the snow

I was so grateful for his return email “yes.”  Before she left, Carol walked him through the chicken duties and when we got home last night and Nyel called him, we found that he had not only fed and watered the girls… he had also repaired a part of the coop that Nyel hasn’t been able to do plus he did some watering around our place, as well.  What a guy!!  We owe him bigtime!

About those birds and bees — mostly bees.

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Dale Espy – 1916

I wonder if Jimmy Kemmer knows that we were supposed to be brother and sister.  Our grandparents – mostly the women I think – had it all sorted out that Jim’s father, Roy, would marry my mother, Dale.  I don’t think romance was ever on the horizon for the two of them, though.  When they were growing up in Oysterville in the nineteen teens and twenties, mom was the tag-along tomboy and only girl out of the fourteen youngsters of about the same age.

“Thirteen boys and me!” she used to laugh. “They must have grown very tired of me tagging along!  But mostly I was included in all their adventures.”

Her most vivid memory of trying to keep up was a time when she was six or seven and the last in a long line of kids running through the woods up on the ridge (where Douglas Drive is now.)  “The boys must have disturbed a beehive along the way.  They raced by unscathed but by the time I got there, those bees were mad.  I was stung all over my face!  I ran home but I didn’t cry – not until I looked in the mirror!  I thought my face would stay that way forever!”

Dale with Jim Kemmer on her 95th Birthday – 2006

Of course, it didn’t, thanks to my grandmother’s good nursing skills and mom’s own strong constitution.  I don’t know what the common remedy for beestings was then.  Years later when my own two-year-old son was stung while we were on a picnic, we plopped a handful of cool mud on the sting and that relieved the pain, but I doubt that my grandmother plastered mom’s face with mud.  Or, come to think of it, maybe she did.  My mother grew up to be a great believer in facials.

On the subject of bees – here’s a little bit of folklore to think about from the book, Akenfield, by Ronald Blythe:  Billy was one of the old people.  The old people have gone and have taken a lot of truth out of the world with them.  When Billy died, his wife walked down the garden and told the bees and hung black crêpe on the hive.  My grandfather did this, too.  He said that if you didn’t, the bees would die as well.  Bees are dangerous to some folk and a gift to others.  You’ll get someone who’ll get stung once and perish and another who’ll get stung all over and get cured of all manner of things.  There were a rare lot of bees in the village in those days.  When they swarmed we used to all rush out into the garden with the fire-irons and scuttle and bang away; that brought them down.

Definitely food for thought.

Taking the Shortcut

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The View from Our House

I never stop counting my blessings that our friends Carol and Tucker live just a spit and a holler away.  It’s less than a block door-to-door and even less than that if you take the shortcut through the churchyard – a good thing to do in the summer, but pretty puddly in the winter.  It’s 165 steps by road; 122 by the shortcut.  Not a lot shorter but, somehow, walking across the lawn and through the gap in the fence seems to be faster by far.

It’s not that we spend that much time in one another’s houses nor necessarily in one another’s company.  Usually, Friday nights at our house.  Now and then around their table or their firepit.  Working on projects together, occasionally.  No… it’s not about time saved or spent – it’s just knowing that they are there.  They’ve come to our rescue many, many times in the years (Is it five, now?) they’ve lived in Oysterville full time – feeding the chickens when we are out of town, keeping an eye on the house, even preparing our ‘home hospital room’ after Nyel’s quadriceps surgery three years ago.

Taking the Shortcut

Sometimes we get to reciprocate.  But not very often.  If they are away for a few days, we stand in for them, tossing out birdseed in their yard each morning and, if it’s a Wednesday, we deal with their garbage can.  Hardly enough to feel that things are ‘even’ in terms of time or effort, though. When I worry about the inequality of it all, they assure us that that’s not the point.  But we wish we could do more for them.  Mostly, I guess, we wish we weren’t so often in need, ourselves.

The best part, though, is that we enjoy one another’s company.  Sometimes Carol and I dream up a ‘double date’ and the four of us go out to dinner or maybe on a day trip.  For a couple of winters, we’ve shared rides to the Community Historian meetings and, I think out of interest rather than neighborly support, both Carol and Tucker took the class I gave at Grays Harbor College a year or so ago. We’ve worked on community projects together and have sat side-by-side at programs at the schoolhouses and during services at the church.  We enjoy meeting one another’s friends and visiting with one another’s relatives. Living in proximity seems like extra icing on the cake.

Walking Home the Long Way

Tucker is the one who ‘discovered’ the shortcut.  It used to be that he got the best cell phone coverage out in his backyard or over toward the church.  If I called from the kitchen, I could look out the window and we could see one another as we talked.  (Those teenaged whipper-snappers have nothing on us old ducks, by Godfrey Daniel!)  And, one step led to another, you might say.

It all puts me in mind of my childhood when kids came in and out of neighbors’ back doors with ‘nary a knock or a ‘yoo-hoo.’  I don’t really remember any shortcuts then and we aren’t even close to that sort of bursting-through-the-door boldness now, but the feeling is the same – unconditional neighborliness!  It’s the best!

The Wedding Pillow

Friday, June 30th, 2017

The Wedding Pillow

We were married on September 13, 1987. We have a pillow that says so — although it almost didn’t.

The ceremony took place at the conclusion of The 3rd Annual Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Gala here in the garden, just before the awards ceremony. The Gala was a fund-raiser for the Water Music Festival.  Our wedding was a surprise to everyone except Judge Penoyar (who did the honors), Gordon Schowe (my ‘bridesmaid’), Roy Gustafson (Nyel’s best man) and my son Charlie (who flew up from California for the occasion).  No one else knew or suspected – not my mother or father (the hosts), not my Uncle Willard (the Master of Ceremonies), not any of the 100 or so attendees!

Among the guests were the Frank Family – Merona and Marty and their sons Michael, Steven and Danny from L.A. with a summer place in Seaview.  They were ‘friends of friends’ and we had met for the first time as we were registering teams before the festivities began.  They were charming and I’m sure I hoped that we would get to know them better but, truth to tell, I was more than a little distracted.

The surprise wedding came off without a hitch.  Michelle Kischner, daughter of Water Music president Ann and 3rd grader in my classroom, took my bouquet (supplied by Gordon) for Show and Tell the next day.  The ceremony made headlines in Wednesday’s paper and, several months later we received an elegant throw pillow with our names and the wedding date stitched on it – from the Franks in California!

But… the date was wrong.  What to do?  I finally decided to mention it in my thank you note – casually, as a quirky happening that would remind us forever of the day.  “SEND IT BACK!” she replied.  Not a request; a demand.  So off it went.  Several months passed and back it came.  Date corrected but this time… Nyel was spelled Nyle instead.  I hadn’t the heart to tell her.

The following summer, Marty and Merona were at our house (for a party? a dinner? I’ve forgotten) and Merona spied the pillow and the mistake. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded.  I told her I just didn’t have the heart but, not surprisingly, the pillow went home with her and she had it redone… again!

“Oysterville Croquet Gala” by Norma Walker

When we attended Michael Frank’s book-signing in Seattle earlier this month and I asked him to personalize his book The Mighty Franks for us, I said (as I always do) “…and it’s N-y-e-l.”

“Yes,’ he said (was there a smile in his voice?)  “I remember the pillow!”

Watching Willie Live in Real Time from NYC

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Willie Bays, Front and Center, at Dizzy Coca Cola Club, NYC – Laptop View

Yesterday afternoon and into the early evening, this old house experienced a First Ever! Never before, in all its 148 years, have the walls reverberated nor the windows shimmered with a real-time jazz performance taking place at Lincoln Center, New York City, and with a “grandchild” featured front and center!

Well… an ‘honorary’ grandchild.  Willie Bays first visited this house before he was born.  He learned to crawl on the library carpet here.  He practiced riding his first two-wheeler just outside.  He has been here for a family vacation for most of his sixteen summers. Granted, for Willie (as for his parents and younger brother Owen) his summertime visits are mostly ‘working vacations’.  There is always a Vespers performance by the Bays Family Irish Band worked into the mix of beach visits, egg collecting, conversations around the dining room table, and endless hours ‘just fooling around’ at our old upright piano.

Flashback: Bays Family Irish Band, September 2016

While the rest of his family carried on their annual Vespers tradition yesterday, Willie was 3,000 miles away having the time of his young life.  As the youngest member of the 2017 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, Willie was on tour with twenty of his peers, ages 16-18.  All are jazz musicians of note and were chosen as a result of nation-wide auditions to be part of this stellar group.  And, as serendipitous as it seems, their Sunday evening performance was to stream live over the net at 4:30 p.m. our time – a convenient half hour after Vespers.

We gathered around our laptops.  (There isn’t enough oomph or whatever it is for us to stream live through our TV – not Netflix, not even Willie.)  Never mind.  We saw and heard him loud and clear.  We cheered and clapped for his solos – both flute and alto sax – and cringed when the band director introduced him as “Willie Bay”  (think of Willie Mays and change the M to B Randal emailed him later). Parents Randal and Susan glowed with parental pride; Owen watched every nuance with a younger brother’s critical eye.

Susan Waters and Randal Bays, Proud Parents

As for us old ducks – we had a righteous taste of ‘grandparently’ delight and the very satisfactory feeling of seeing our young friend Willie ‘on his way.’  And this old house?  It’s taken in stride many transitions – from fireplace to heat pump; from wood cook stove to dual-fuel electric/gas range; from pitcher pumps to running water; from crystal sets to television.  And now – streaming live over the internet!  Wow!  I can almost feel it shake its chimneys in amazement!

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!