Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

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….

Time for Another Tokeland Celebration

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Tokeland Hotel, 2012

We are headed for the lunch and a rendezvous with friends at the Tokeland Hotel.  In the “olden days” – say five or six years ago — going to Tokeland and meeting with these same friends was a yearly occurrence.  But, in those halcyon days of the early twenty-first century, we were all younger and more able and our annual Tokeland experience involved a picnic supper and an overnight at the hotel.

We made the trek on or close to Nyel’s birthday each early August.  For us, it got so we never had another birthday plan which has made it a little difficult these past few years when Tokeland was not on our radar.  This year, being the big seven five for Nyel, we’ve solved the birthday dilemma by celebrating in some way every single month starting a few months beforehand and to continue until Birthday Seven Six.

Evening at the Tokeland Hotel, 2009

As it has worked out, this month we can rendezvous once again at the Tokeland Hotel – but only for lunch.  Fortunately, the hotel is under new ownership and they are serving lunch on the weekends which had been an off-again on-again off-again proposition in years past.  And further fortnately, the food is reported to be excellent.  Yay!

There has been one serious change, though, in our (or probably just my) thinking about going to Tokeland.  Since time immemorial (well, at least since soon after Oysterville was founded in 1854) residents here travelled to Tokeland to party.  In the early days, they went by boat to celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends and relatives over there.  In fact, there was probably more visiting back and forth before the roads went in than there is now — a faster trip then, I daresay.  All that notwithstanding, I’ve long associated Tokeland with parties-of-the-eating variety.

Tokeland Picnic, 2009

Then, in 2012 when the present cannabis laws went into effect in our state, I began to wonder when partying in Tokeland might take on a different tone.  We all waited for someone to do the obvious – to make an application to open a recreational marijuana shop.  “Toke Land”?  It certainly seemed like a no-brainer.  But… it has never happened.  And yet… the expectation that it will, has somewhat altered my take on Tokeland.  Whether it would be for the good or the bad, I don’t know.  It just seems like such an opportunity wasted.

Wow! I swear I heard her eyelashes flutter!

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Nate McQuarrie, mid-bite

Periodically, Don and Laura McQuarrie blow through town and, when they do, they gather a group of us together for dinner at the Bridgewater Bistro across the river.  Last night they had their handsome son Nate with them – an almost clone of Don (especially his voice!) – who we hadn’t seen since he was knee high to the proverbial grasshopper.

I thought the highlight of the evening was going to be the discussion with Nate about carnivorous plants.  Apparently, that area of botany has been a passion of his since he was in third grade and, on this leave from his naval duties, he and his folks were not only visiting his twin sister, Emily, but… they went to the Darlingtonia State Park.  According to its website. “Darlingtonia State Natural Site is the only Oregon state park property dedicated to the protection of a single plant species.  Concurrently, the plants it protects are the only carnivorous flora in the system.” Who knew?  The McQuarries, of course!

There were lots of other high-spirited discussions among us, but I really thought that Nate and the carnivorous plants would be the highlight of the evening until…  Just after ordering dessert, I excused myself for a visit to the ‘ladies’ and had one of those you-had-to-be-there encounters.  At first, I had the place to myself, but by the time I exited the stall, two women had entered. One had disappeared into the vacant stall and the other woman – 40ish, blond, well-dressed – was waiting for her by the sink.

As I approached to wash my hands, she smiled and said in a very provocative tone, “And what are you doing for the next twenty-five minutes?”  Say what?

“I’m having dessert,” I replied.

“And what would that be?” she asked.  I wasn’t looking in her direction, busy as I was with soap and water, but I swear I could hear her eyelashes fluttering at me.

Darlingtonia State Park

“Silk pie,” I said, reaching toward the towel dispenser and hoping she’d move out of the way of my dripping hands.

“And what is the recipe for silk pie?” she asked.  I’m telling you, she made it sound totally suggestive.  I mean, really?

“I haven’t a clue,” I said.  “You’d have to look at the menu.”

I left feeling annoyed, amused, and amazed in equal parts.  I think that being hit on in the ladies’ room is a first for me.  Weird, but…  pretty good at my tender age, eh?

Totally Bassackward in Oysterville!

Monday, August 20th, 2018
  • Larger-than-Life Us by Vicki

    Number One – you don’t expect to be given a gift at a church service. Not even at the Sunday afternoon Music Vesper Service in  Oysterville.

  • Number Two – it isn’t usual, at least in my experience, for the person leaving the area to be giving a going-away gift to someone who’s staying.

But leave it to Vicki and Fred Carter to turn those unspoken protocols upside down!  Not really a surprise when you think about it.  If you read the Observer and saw Patty Hardin’s article about them on page B1 of last week’s paper, you know what I mean.  Vicki and Fred dance to a drummer all of their own and are just about to boogie on out of our lives with their four dogs, three cats, and most of their worldly possession.

They are headed for unknown adventures in a southerly direction – for now.  Tomorrow is the day they roll off the Peninsula in their fifth-wheeler for parts unknown (more-or-less.)  They actually have their first few destinations specifically arranged and it sounds as if they’ll be a step or two ahead planning-wise as they proceed.  They even have a job lined up that they can do along the way!  Something related to selling ad space on campsite maps.  It sounds as though Vicki will be the sales rep while Fred plays golf!

Vicki and Fred

Vicki, a once-upon-a-time art major, is taking along all her painting gear and singer-songwriter Fred will have his guitars aboard.  They’ll be busy when they are not on the move – and that doesn’t even factor in their desire to see everything everyplace has to offer – festivals, concerts, museums, monuments.  And to sample the regional foods.  And to meet their traveling neighbors.  And to book some musical gigs (Fred) and to do a travel blog (Vicki.)  Not only do they want to do it all – knowing Fred and Vicki, they will be successful.

So, I was totally flummoxed yesterday when Fred handed me a beautifully framed photograph of Nyel and me – a larger-than-life head(s)-shot that Vicki had taken at the recent CPHM reception for Eric Wiegardt and David Campiche.  Backwards!!  It was us who should have been giving them a going-away gift!  I console myself that they wouldn’t have had room for a single anything in their traveling household.  Also… they promise to be back.

I’m trying to think of an appropriate Coming Home present but, even so, I’m hoping against hope that I don’t have too long a time to do the planning.  Hurry back, Fred and Vicki.  We are already missing you and you haven’t even left yet!

Cathapotle, Stella, and the Oscar B.

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Inside the Cathapotle Plankhouse

Talk about making every minute count!  Yesterday, Carol, Tucker, Nyel, and I went on another of our “summer field trips” – this time to two destinations with a bonus ferry ride thrown in!  Any one of those activities could have been the entire focus of the day, but it was definitely one of those “and while we are at it…” things.  Except for the ferry ride.  That turned out to be the only choice if we wanted to get home in a timely manner, and a great choice it was!

First, we headed for Ridgefield, Tucker driving – old duffers in the front, ladies in the back as usual.  We arrived about lunch time.  First stop:  a Mexican Restaurant and a quick ride around town.  We liked what we saw.  Worth going back, we thought.  Then on to the Catahpotle Plank House which is located on the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

The Old Duffers

The Plankhouse was built in 2004-2005 in partnership with the Chinook Indian Nation, Portland State University, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and numerous other community partners and volunteers. The House serves as an education and interpretive center and is used by the Chinook Indian Nation for cultural events throughout the year.  It is open to the public on summer Saturdays and Sundays from noon to four and it is well worth the trip – and the walk from the parking lot once you get there!

Several years ago, Tony Johnson, Chairman of the Chinook Tribe, urged our Pacific County Community Historians to visit.  He spoke of the Plankhouse building process using traditional materials and techniques and the best historic information and extant examples available. He didn’t exaggerate one bit – it was all he had said and more!

Still at the Stella Museum

We decided to take Highway 4 home so we could stop in Stella at the Historical Museum there which, also, is open on weekends only, but from eleven to four.  We arrived about 3:30 and learned that the museum includes four buildings – three jam-packed with interesting things from Stella’s heyday and the fourth, an almost-completed blacksmith shop.  We also learned that Stella was not known for its cannery (as we thought from the Mary Garvey “Cannery Shed” song), but for their production of cigar rafts, once a major method for transporting logs down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco.

“We’ll stay as long as you’d like,”” said the friendly docent.  She turned out to be the museum’s primary mover-and-shaker – knows our friend Nancy Anderson of the Quarantine Station in Knappton and is working with Lucien Swerdloff who teaches Historic Preservation classes at Clatsop Community College. The museum’s annual fundraising event takes place the weekend after Labor Day and, by then, they hope to have the smithy up and running.

Aboard the Oscar B

We headed homeward about 4:30, only to find that the highway was closed just beyond Cathlamet.  Tucker did a bit of quick maneuvering and we were across the highway and headed down through town to the ferry dock before we could give it much thought at all.  Just in time!  The Oscar B was being loaded and we were the next-to-the-last vehicle to get on board.  Woot!  Woot!

Home by 6:30. Too tired to fix dinner.  Cheese and crackers and grapes while we watched the PBS News Hour and one Jeopardy rerun.  The best field trip day yet!!!

…and Michael cooked, of course!

Friday, August 17th, 2018

I can’t think when we were all together last.  Ten years ago?  Maybe thirty?  Ever?  The Frank Family, Patty and Noel, and us.  The arranging was done by Michael who is now older than I was when we first met … by a darned sight.  So is his brother Steven.  And the next generation – several kids as tall as I am… how could that be?

I’d like to say we did a lot of catching up, but no, we didn’t.  I’d like to say we began conversations where we had left off.  But we didn’t do that either.  It was all about now – Michael’s book tour in Italy and Steven’s new book Class Action and a righteous discussion about pro-choice and ICE and maybe just a tad of personal talk among us elderly about the aging process and how we dislike it.  And lots of hugging.

Was it like we’d never missed a beat?  Not exactly… except when we realized that the next generation – Martie and Merona’s grandchildren – have joined the ranks of “young people” with talents and opinions and interests of their own.  Not surprising on the one hand, but overwhelming and fabulous on the other.  Especially, that we could be there, all of us together!

There wasn’t time to take it all in.  Did I say more than two words to Patty?  Did I tell Michael how delicious the dinner was – eggplant parmesano, green beans and, for dessert, still hot-out-of-the-oven blackberry cobbler with ice cream.  The evening ended too soon.  And even if it’s tomorrow (which is impossible) our next gathering will be too long in coming.  That’s just the way it is with old friends.

It’s all over but the shout-outs!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Regatta Viewing At Its Best

It’s back to the usual summer quiet here in Oysterville – just a few tourists visiting the church and strolling through town with the ‘walking tour’ brochures in hand.  We are back to watching “the slow breathing of the bay, six hours in and six hours out” as Willard said in his afterward to Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village.  Now that the annual regatta is over, we are basking in the glow…

Too, we are talking about all the behind-the-scenes activities and about the people who – to us land-lubbing spectators – put everything together almost without effort.  Take, for instance, the canopy that magically appeared over the chairs lined up on the shoreline just before the race began Saturday. Seemingly, it appeared by magic!

Alex at work behind the scenes.

We had lugged our chairs down to our usual regatta viewing spot and had barely settled in when that pesky rain came back.  Nyel stayed put but I hot-footed it back to the house to grab jackets and my trusty  yellow rain hat.  I waited a minute or two for the skies to clear and then went back to join Nyel and the other stalwarts who had begun to gather.  I was surprised and delighted to see that a canopy had been set up, apparently just for us and our friends!

I assumed (I know, I know – never assume) that it was the work of Charley and Amy (Tucker’s son and daughter-in-law) who had, by then, joined the crowd.  Not until Sunday night, when Tucker and I were doing a little re-cap, did I learn that it was Alex Randle who had brought his truck to the end of the lane. And it was Alex’s canopy.  And it was Alex who saw to our comfort and protection from the weather!  “Wow!” as Tucker would say!  I’m so sorry I missed all that, Alex!  Thanks so much!

Then, there was Clark’s friend Jason Johnson who, when all was said and done on Saturday, didn’t have a spot to sleep.  Jason… who has come every year since he was a kid.  ‘Back in the day’ when the boats were hauled down to the bay by hand (not with benefit of Dave and Lina’s tractor or by other mechanized means), it was Jason who would jump up to help Tucker while the others might be sitting ’round the campfire.

Jason at the Regatta Dinner

It was a huge job. “We’d attach a line to the bow eye of each boat in turn and then drag them from the foot of Clay Street (where the bench is now) to the water’s edge,” Tucker told me.  “It was hard work and we’d walk home pretty exhausted with some sweat trickling down our backs….  He never sailed in the regatta or even tried but was always here to help. He’s the one who gave his younger son the middle name “Tucker.” Everyone in our family just loves Jason or “Jay Boy” as they call him. I’d love to go back and haul a few boats with him if I could.”

“But he could have stayed with us,” I said.  “We had plenty of empty beds.”  It was midnight before the Wachsmuth bed shortage was discovered, apparently, and Jason “made do” on a makeshift bed in Tucker’s living room.  “We didn’t want to disturb you,” Tucker said.  “Fiddlesticks,” said I. “What are neighbors for?  Next time…”

A Summer of Connections

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Mike’s Book

At every turn this summer, I seem to come across someone wanting information about something.  Usually the questions have to do with Oysterville and someone who once lived here.  Or, about the cemetery and someone who died here.  But, there are other questions, too, and I am amazed at how many times I can provide answers.  I think it’s called “getting old.”

The other thing that has happened this particular summer is that the questioners are from places far away.  In that respect, Rosemary Peeler gets the prize so far.  She came clear to Oysterville from Australia looking for more information about her Briscoe roots.  Some years ago, Rosemary  had run across one of my Oysterville Daybook entries about Judge John Briscoe who lived and worked in Oysterville in the 1850s, ’60s, and ’70s.  We’ve communicated periodically since and, of course, I put her in touch with Mike Lemeshko early on.  I think he was still researching and writing The Cantankerous Farmer vs. the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company, which has become the definitive chronicle about that crusty old pioneer.  The three of us spent a pleasant few hours at my dining room table looking at documents and pooling our knowledge.  Great fun!

Then, a few days ago, I received a phone call from Peggy Gordon in Canada who was looking for a copy of Anne Nixon’s family chronicle The Heckes Kemmer Caulfield Family History.  I’m not at all sure how Ms. Gordon got my name (or the name of Anne’s book, for that matter) but she was hoping I could connect her with an available copy.  I contacted my lifelong friend Anne (who is now living in California) who contacted her cousin Judy Stamp (who is here on the Peninsula) and who had all the remaining copies of the book.  Alas! there are no more, so Peggy is considering a six-hour drive from Canada to take a look at the book at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum or at Timberland Library.

Sydney’s Camp Chronicles

And, this past weekend, Susie and Gordie Andrews introduced me to Penny Parks from New Jersey (I think) who has done some work for the fabulous “Find a Grave” site – a primary destination point for almost every budding genealogist, but one that can sometimes be fraught with problems.  She is interested in completing and correcting some work that has been done on our Oysterville Cemetery and I was delighted to be able to help, even minimally, in her endeavor.  Come to find out, Penny was here at the beach because of the annual gathering of old campers at Sherwood which is celebrating it’s 100th year anniversary this summer.  I was a camper there in its earliest incarnation as Camp Willapa – not quite 100 years ago!  And that’s another connection…

A Bit of Local Color?

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

I might have missed it if Tucker hadn’t pointed it out when he dropped us off the other morning.  We had been to the Cowboy Breakfast, Tucker driving, and consequently we were using the front gate.  There on the gatepost was a bit of bright color which turned out to be a painted rock.  I wondered how long it had been there.  We usually come and go through the garage.

The scene painted on the rock was cheerful and vaguely reminiscent of another such ‘gift.’  My mind being as it is these days, I couldn’t quite remember… Hadn’t there been a painted rock on the table by the front door? Or maybe two?  Were they left by a friend?  It was all a shadowy memory…

A few days later, a message came via Facebook from a facebook friend I’ve never met.  “Did you happen to find the painted rock I left on your front gate?  Last weekend?” she wrote.  “I dropped one at the base of the flagpole at the church… also by the oyster maiden at Willabay… also one gone traveling at Chief Nahcotti’s grave… and left one for Caitlin in Anita’s.  GRAVE…”

Oh my!  I Googled painted rock and found a score of sites:  “Painted Rocks – The Creative Project Sweeping the Nation,” written in 2017; “Painted Rock Life: The Home of Painting Hiding & Finding Rocks,” apparently an ongoing blog on the subject; and oh, so many more.    One site said that rock painting had been thought up as a way to empower women.  Another claimed that rock painting is connecting communities.  There are groups of rock painters nationwide inviting any and all of us to join.  Oh my!  Again!

Later, I happened to turn the rock over and found that the back was painted as well.  A message telling me what to do next.   I was glad for the instruction.  Otherwise, it’s hard to know with rocks