Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

“It’s Sydney… spelled like Australia.”

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Australia seems to be much on our minds lately.  Our friend Kenny has recently been there.  Our friend Martha is about to head in that direction.  And we had two visits last summer from our new friend Rosemary who is a third-generation Australian (though her roots go back to Pioneer Oysterville and beyond.)

Once upon a time, those connections might have been enough to tempt me into taking a trip.  Might have.  The time and distance have always seemed a bit daunting.  But, at this point in time, I’m content to live vicariously and wear the “I Love Sydney” tee shirt that Kenny brought me.  (I wish it was large enough for Nyel to wear.  Somehow, that would make more sense.)

I think that Australia was the first foreign country that I ever learned much about.  It was fifth grade at Lincoln School in Alameda and I remember that we made booklets about “The Land Down Under.”  We also learned to sing “Waltzing Matilda” and found out what a swagman and a billabong and a jumbuck were.  We drew pictures of kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses and compared the size and shape of Australia to the United States.

What I don’t remember is anything about Sydney.  You’d think I would have connected it to my name or that my classmates would have teased me or something… but, no.  In fact, my first “memory’ of paying any attention at all to the city of Sydney was in 1959 when the Sydney Opera House was built.  That was two years after I graduated from college — long after fifth grade, for sure.

Nowadays, especially when there seem to be so many Sidneys and Cydnees, and Siddnees around, I find myself saying, “It’s Sydney… like Australia.”  People seem to get that.  Mostly.  Although, every once in a while, that gets translated to Cindy.  I seriously wonder if there is a Cindy, Australia – or if some people are just amazingly stupid.  And then I think about our nominal head of state and I stop wondering about that last part.

The Louisville Sluggers in the North Room

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Edwin, Dale, Willard – 1917

As long as I can remember, the three baseball bats have lived in the North Room of this house.  For those in the know (mostly family members) the “North Room” refers to the upstairs bedroom on the north side of the house.  There is also a downstairs bedroom on the north side, but it is referred to as “The Parlor” in deference its original purpose.  But, I digress.

The bats are known (also among family members) to have belonged to “the boys” who, it almost goes without saying were my uncles Edwin and Willard.  They are the only “boys” to have grown up in this house and when they “put away childish things,” they didn’t put them very far.  Those bats, for instance, got put in the back of the bedroom closet and there they stayed for sixty or seventy years.

Corner of the North Room

When Nyel and I moved in and redecorated a bit, all of the children’s things ended up in the North Bedroom.  My doll cabinet, Charlie’s little Mexican chairs, my grandmother’s triptych of framed paper dolls, and a corner case full of children’s books are all part of the décor.  It seemed only right that the bats should come out of the closet and be displayed (discreetly and casually) in the corner.  They have been there, untouched except for occasional dusting, for the last twenty years.  I hardly ever give them a passing thought.

So… a few weeks ago when Tucker brought three of his own bats over for his habitual Friday Night Show and Tell, and then proceeded to tell us all about them, I began to wonder about ours.  Tucker’s information was based on the logo stamped on each bat plus what he had learned from the online Keyman Collectibles site concerning Hillerich & Bradsby Co. Louisville Slugger site. I nipped (probably more like galumphed my way) upstairs and returned with our three bats to see if they were anything of note.

Apparently, two of them – the taped ones – are pretty decent bats.  Both are Louisville Sluggers. The ‘best’ one is stamped “Louisville Slugger 125… ” and its manufacturing period is listed as 1916 to 1933.  Edwin and Willard were born in 1908 and 1910, respectively, so the dates would fit perfectly.   Tucker, who is a collector and knows these things, thinks that bat might have sold for ‘around ten cents’ in 1918 or 1919 and might fetch as much as $60 now.

Louisville Slugger 125 Logo

To me, of course, they are beyond price.  Their value lies in knowing who played with them and in picturing the excitement when the boys got them… Were they Christmas presents?  Were they ordered from the Johnson & Henry Store in Nahcotta?  Did each boy ‘own’ one or were they shared?  And what about the third, not-quite-so-good bat?  Was it left here by a friend?  Or did it belong to my mother who, apparently, was quite a tomboy in her youth?

Unlike Tucker, my genetic makeup lends itself exclusively to keeping rather than to also collecting.  Value seldom enters my thought processes like it might to Tucker.  But I sure am glad he’s my neighbor!  I learn a lot from him — even about 1920s vintage baseball bats!

Does Nyel need any help?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

A Guy Thing

The phone rang mid-afternoonish.  “I just read your blog.  Does Nyel need any help putting that KneeRover together?” asked Tucker.

“I’m not sure.  Why don’t you come over and find out?” was my response.  I was in my studio, hard at it, and went right back to work.  It was probably an hour before I thought to go see what was happening in the rest of the house and when I did, there they were – Nyel and Tucker and the all-but-assembled skooter.

I watched as Tucker attached the “training wheel” onto the left side of the rear wheel.  “For extra stability,” they told me.  “Do you have a tire pump?” Tucker asked as he checked the other three wheels.  The answer was “No” although I seem to remember that we do.  Somewhere.

No problem.  Tucker went home and got his.  It even has a pressure gauge which I’m pretty sure ours doesn’t.  Soon, each tire registered forty pounds as directed in the instruction manual and Tucker was off to the dining room on a test run.  His report: difficult on the carpet and doesn’t turn on a dime.  Not even a quarter.

Nyel was next.  Tucker and I hovered (no doubt uselessly) as the patient transferred himself from wheelchair to skooter more-or-less effortlessly, it seemed to me.  There was some experimenting with the height of the handlebars and… he was off!  It didn’t look easy and it didn’t look exactly fun.  Not on the carpet, anyway.

The best spin we could put on it was that it will definitely help him strengthen that right leg.  All the better for hopping down the step to the porch, anyway, and eventually off the porch onto the lawn.  That’s where the all-terrain skooter should really shine.  Meanwhile… a new toy in the neighborhood!  I wonder how many Friday Nighters will want to take a turn…

We’re dubbing him ‘Godfather Erik’ maybe!

Sunday, October 21st, 2018


If anyone ever earned his Godfather feathers, it’s our friend Erik!  Yes… feathers.  I think that’s what you probably earn when you are dubbed Godfather to baby chicks.  But it’s all speculation at this point – not the ‘earning’ part.  The ‘babychicks’ part.

Yesterday was Day 21 for Broody Slutvana.  She’s been sitting on her eggs more-or-less constantly since September 30th so, according to the books, yesterday should have been Hatch Day.  But, as we all know, you never can tell with chickens.  She began with five eggs and was very protective.  Then, one morning… Slutvana had left the nest.  There was one broken shell and no evidence of its contents; the remaining eggs were still warm.  The Russian wasn’t talking.

Broody Slutvana

Since then (it’s been ten days or so) she’s been fairly faithful to her job, although for the last three mornings she’s been off the nest long enough for the eggs to get cold.  After the breakfast roll call, though, she’s back on duty and more protective than ever.  Did you know that hens can growl?  Honestly!  When I express too much interest in her situation (like deign to look at her) she growls in warning.

Broody House That Nyel Built

And then yesterday, there was a fifth egg again!  Hers?  Whose?  That they aren’t all Slutvana’s eggs seems obvious – they aren’t all the same color.  But, broody hens aren’t  particular… or so I’ve read.  This morning, the same five eggs, but cold to the touch.  I’m not sure if that girl knows what she’s doing.

Nyel and I looked up “leaving the nest” and other related sites and found that incubation time can vary and time off the nest isn’t always crucial.  One report was that nine eggs hatched in “twenty-one days plus one or five.”  So, as of now, we are still moderately hopeful.

Erik’s Wall and People Door

And… we are ready!  Thanks to Erik who came and completed Nyel’s start at constructing a separate brooding area at the south end of the coop run.  The final wall separating the smaller area from the rest of the run had not been completed when Nyel had his fall and Erik, bless him, spent most of yesterday afternoon finishing it up and installing a people door, complete with a shiny new latch!

Now if those chicks hatch, we can move them and their mom to the safety of the Broody Yard – away from those overly inquisitive aunties and meany roosters.  And Erik will get his Godfather feathers for sure!

The Best Medicine

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Our friend Pete came by yesterday.  Brought us some fresh oysters (which we had for dinner last night – fabulous!) and stayed for a while to visit.  We always learn stuff from Pete.  Yesterday it was a new “old folks’ joke.”

Scene is “The Home.”  To be read with appropriate quavery old folks’ voices:
George comes up to Mabel and says, “Betcha can’t guess how old I am.”
“Betcha I can,” is her response.  “Drop your pants.”
A hesitation but, then, with a wotthehell expression, George complies.  Mabel looks him over.
“Now turn around,” she commands.  He does.”Now, turn around in a circle three times.”  He does.
“So,” he says, “how old am I?”
“Eighty-seven,” she says.
He is astonished. “How did you know that?”
“You told me yesterday!”

I thought about that joke last night when I sent out invitations to our next House Concert.  Three times.  First, I confused the date.  Next, I left off the time.  Finally, I think I got it right.  And I didn’t even have to drop my britches!

Our Friend BobWho

Monday, October 15th, 2018

This weekend we learned that our friend Bob Bredfield had died.  He probably went the way he would have liked – alone in his house. ‘peacefully,’ of ‘natural causes.’  Selfishly, we wish we’d had a chance to say goodbye.

As it is, every day of our lives is brightened by Bob.  He was a carpenter extraordinaire and especially loved working on old houses.  They “spoke” to him right down to their bones and he responded with a loving touch.  Over the years, he worked on the outside of our place – rebuilt the balcony and both the east and south porches.  And he redid our kitchen – took the old one right down to the studs. He rebuilt the curve in our upstairs bathroom wall, building what neighbors thought was a still in his front yard to steam the wood.  He lovingly removed old windows to be rebuilt by Bergerson’s and then reinstalled them – not a single old, wavy glass pane so much as cracked.  And on and on.

Shoalwater Storytellers Poster, 1981

I first met Bob in the early 1980s.  Lawrence Lessard and I had begun a performance group, the Shoalwater Storytellers, composed of Senta and Bob Cook and Noel and Pat Thomas and us.  At that time, Bob Bredfield had one of those Old Timey Photo places in Long Beach – where tourists could go put on gay nineties costumes and have their photos taken with suitable props.  Bob was a good friend of Noel’s and Noel convinced him to bring clothing and camera to my place on the bay and take a picture for our first-ever poster.  Nowadays, a copy of it is framed in my office – another reminder of Bob and of long-ago days.

Over the years, Bob became our go-to guy for the never-ending patchwork and propping of this aging (1869) house.  He was always reliable but worked according to his own drummer, so to speak.  Sometimes, in the middle of a job, we wouldn’t see him for several days.  Often, he’d arrive at noon rather than the agreed-upon nine.  “Is Bob there yet?” I’d call from work and ask.  Nyel’s standard response was “Bob who?”  Which meant, of course, that he had not yet surfaced – at least not in our direction.  And so, gradually, we called him BobWho which he seemed to take in stride.

Bob was a hard drinker.  Whether or not that explained his somewhat erratic schedule, we could but guess.  The only time we ever saw him seriously ‘under the influence’ was at one of our Croquet Galas, probably in the mid-’90s.  He somehow decided that it would be fun to throw croquet balls as hard and fast as he could across our yard.  It was scary.  Croquet balls are kinda hard and there were lots of people here.  Noel took Bob in hand – actually, I think, took him home, diverting possible disaster.

A few weeks later, Bob came calling.  “I think I owe you an apology,” he said.  “Noel tells me…”  I told him my greatest disappointment was that I didn’t think we could invite him to anymore Galas… Promises were made and those promises were kept – through Christmas parties and other gatherings… forever.

And now… who will we call when a piece of gingerbread falls from the eaves?  Who will crawl under the house to see if the foundation is in trouble.  And who will stay under exploring the “stuff” that has found its way there in the last century and a half – native oyster shells, broken crockery, rusted toys…  “Look what I found this time,” he’d call out.

We will miss you,  BobWho.

Our Panama City Friends, Lana Jane & Paul

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Paul Brent Gallery, Yesterday

We worried all day yesterday and the day before.  Hurricane Michael was headed right for Panama City and for Mexico Beach, as well.  Our friends Lana Jane and Paul Brent live in Panama City.  Paul’s Gallery is there.  They have a beach house at Mexico Beach.  OMG!

We knew they were safe, though.  They’ve been out here on the West Coast since early summer.  They have a place in Seaside and we knew they were planning to leave for Panama City sometime next week.  Headed home.  OMG!

Paul Brent Gallery, Before Hurricane Michael

Today Paul posted a picture of his gallery on FaceBook. ” Just found this photo of the Gallery. Pretty much gone,” Paul said.  In another post he said, “We are trying to find someone who can go by our home at 1216 Dewitt in the Cove to take photos. All our neighbors are either gone or without phones. Thanks so much. Paul Brent.”  OMG!

I called.  Paul answered, sounding firm, steady, matter-of-fact, as usual.  They still don’t know about their houses in Panama City or at Mexico Beach.  Their friends Rick and Jane who were here this summer and went on the Music in the Gardens Tour with us this summer lost their Mexico Beach house.  “It was flattened, Paul said.  Only the foundation is left.”  OMG!

“The huge oak trees in our neighbor’s yard blew down and slammed against their house.  All the leaves were stripped off by the wind.  They look like dead trees,” Paul said.  “We had smaller oaks and lots of shrubbery.  We are told that no one has seen our place, yet because it is totally covered in shrubbery.” OMG!

Paul and Lana Jane Brent

“Will you rebuild the gallery?” I asked.  “We don’t know yet.”  The assumption is that all the paintings are ‘gone.’  Watercolors don’t like water, you know,” he said.  “And even if we decide to rebuild, it won’t be done before Christmas, if then.  Thousands of homes in at least five cities. .. There won’t be enough contractors.  And their own homes and businesses are probably gone.”  OMG!

“On the other hand,” he told me, “I’ve just finished some new paintings that I’ll take with me.  It’s a start.  And our son in Cinncinnati is headed down to Panama City to take a look at the house.  No one has been able to get through but he said, ‘I WILL get through, dad!”  And Paul’s voice was full of hope.  OMG!

We talked until my cellphone began to run out of battery.  Even so, there seemed nothing to say.  Nothing to do but offer thanks that they were out of harm’s way.  And to pray that they’ll have the strength to see them through the next steps.  OMG!

When it comes to advice…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

A Concept Worth Exploring?

When you are going through a bad patch, about the last thing you need is unsolicited advice.  At least, that has always been my experience.  Suggestions gently hinted at… maybe.  But out and out “what you need to do” directions from well-meaning outsiders looking in – please, no!   It’s a lot like book recommendations and usually comes under the category, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

So, I was absolutely gobsmacked last night when a friend sent me a suggestion for a book with a title that made perfect sense!  In fact, I didn’t have to go farther than looking at the title to follow the advice contained therein!  Päntsdrunk: The Finnish Path to Relaxation. I was already intrigued.  But, when I saw the subtitle, (Drinking at Home, Alone, in Your Underwear), I felt I didn’t need anymore information at all.  Not right then, anyway.  (It had been a difficult day.)

As it turned out, of course, I wasn’t alone.  And I was fully clothed.  But that Bloody Mary did go a long way toward smoothing out the wrinkles from a long, hard day. After dinner plus an hour or so of television, and after Nyel was safely tucked back in bed, I went online to learn more about the book.  According to the blurb on

A Tall Glass of Relaxation

When it comes to happiness rankings, Finland always scores near the top.  Many Finnish phenomena set the bar high: the best education system, gender equality, a flourishing welfare state, sisu or bull-headed pluck.  Behind all of these accomplishments lies a Finnish ability to stay calm, healthy and content in a riptide of endless tasks and temptations.  The ability comes from the practice of “kalsarikanni” translated as pantsdrunk.

Peel off your clothes down to your underwear.  Place savory or sweet snacks within reach alongside your bed or sofa.  Make sure your television remote control is nearby along with any and all devices to access social media.  Open your preferred alcohol. Your journey toward inner strength, higher quality of life, and peace of mind has begun.

I don’t know that the “practice of kalsarikanni” will become part and parcel of my daily regime, but I am sufficiently curious about the other words of wisdom that might be found in this book.  I’ve ordered it from Timberland Library and I’m hoping that the copy from Montesano that our friend is reading is not the only one in the system.  If it is, hurry up, Steve!  Relaxing is what we need more of around here right now!

An Evening with the Oyster Crackers

Monday, September 24th, 2018

The Oyster Crackers – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth 

Polished!  Professional!  Profound!  My thoughts about yesterday’s House Concert are brimming over with adjectives and superlatives.  And a deep feeling of peace.  I wish I could adequately describe their harmonies, their costume changes and choreography (right down to their music stands!), and their obvious enjoyment of their music and of one another.  It was probably one of those you-had-to-be-there things.

Rita Smith and Her Grandfather’s Button Accordion – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Three local women with disparate backgrounds and experiences:  Rita Smith, Bette Lu Krause, Christl Mack.  Together they are the Oyster Crackers.  Their voices gently glide and spiral around one another, carrying the listener to places of possibilities and contentment.  “What is it about them?” I found myself thinking.  Is it that they are the embodiment of grace and womanhood?  Are they what the suffragettes and feminists would like to be?

But… there was no pronouned (and certainly no strident) message here.  No aim to point out anything – at least not that was obvious or that came to me as I listened.  “Was it their sincerity?” I asked myself.  Perhaps their quiet commitment to the music and to the messages of the songs that came through loud and clear?  Or was it the songs, themselves?  Their choices spanned centuries and genres; some familiar, a few well-known, many obscure.  I wish I had taken notes or asked for their set list so I could think about those particular songs some more.

The Oyster Crackers in Red — Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

I came away feeling blessed – that we had heard them do one, single number at a Music Vesper Service in 2017 and that I had asked them if they’d consider a House Concert sometime.  Blessed that their commitment and dedication led them from “only two or three songs” of a year ago to their full-blown, two-hour presentation (with instruments!) yesterday.  Here!  In Oysterville!  Absolutely Fabulous!

And before I forget, we all have another opportunity to enjoy them on Wednesday, October 17th at 7:00 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center in Long Beach!  See you there!

Aaron English and Another Near Miss!

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

Aaron English

Musician Aaron English first contacted us in January 2015 about doing a House Concert here.  He was referred by two of our all-time favorite singer/songwriters, Larry Murante and James Hurley and we booked him up in ‘a fast hurry’ as they say.   We loved him.  Our audience loved him.  And he bonded with the Peninsula bigtime.

But, since his January 2016 concert here at our house, we’ve never been able to coordinate with him – not for another concert here.  We’ve been in touch.  He’s been on the Peninsula.  He’s even stayed here a couple of times while performing at the Kite Festival or at other venues.  But between Nyel’s many hospital stays in 2016 and 2017 and Aaron’s many comings and goings, we’ve not been able to book a second gig with him.

Aaron at the Shelburne

Not that we haven’t tried.  And not that we haven’t communicated!  Among other things, he writes occasionally that he has introduced Nyel’s salad dressing recipe to yet another community as he eats and tours his way hither and thither.  And just last week, he and his lady were scheduled to stay here for a night for a mini-reunion of sorts with Wes Weddell and Tucker and Carol and… he called to report car trouble.  Stuck in Raymond.  Bummer!

Finally, last night we caught up with him – learned online that he was doing a gig at the Shelburne.  We went there with our visiting California friends only to find out that the he had already done two sets and was eating dinner!  Bummer some more!

Aaron at Work

We ordered dessert and coffee, and had a wonderful in-person visit.  Since we had talked with him Thursday night, his car had been towed to Longview where the engine is being rebuilt ($$$$), Elizabeth had flown home to Utah ($$$$) (where her dog had been diagnosed with a fatal tumor around her heart) and Aaron was finishing up their tour on his own with the unstinting help of other Peninsula friends — help with housing, help with transportation and even to Portland this morning where he has a recording date.

And then (!) much to our delight, Aaron did another short set – just for us, although other people drifted in to listen.  How could they not!  So fabulous!  And even though Aaron and Elizabeth are moving to Nashville almost immediately, we talked about a House Concert in the Spring.  God willin’ and the creek don’t rise….