Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

Christmas Vespers in Oysterville

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Christmas 2009

If you count a generation as twenty years, the Oysterville summer vesper services have spanned two of them!  By now, if you say “vespers” to anyone who lives in the area, they automatically think of music and the little historic church across the street from our house.  They might even think “three o’clock on Sunday.”  That kind of association says “tradition” in the truest sense of the word!

So… when Diane Buttrell mentioned Christmas Vespers and the Bayside Singers in the same breath, I knew exactly what she was talking about.  It will happen at 3:00 next Sunday, December 17th, at the Oysterville Church.  It won’t involve a “service”… not exactly.  Although there will be at least one minister involved – Barbara Bate, who will be wearing her pianist hat and accompanying the singers.

Christmas 2008

And it won’t be a “performance”… not exactly.  Although the beloved Barbara Poulshock will, indeed, be directing the Bayside Singers in several Christmas presentations and there will be two solo offerings, as well.  Teresa Goodwin will be singing ” Pie Jesu” and her father, Dobby Wiegardt, also a member of the Bayside Singers, will do his traditional reading of the Christmas Story from the book of Luke.

Welcome, All!

There may be a few more surprises in store (as anything ‘Christmas’ should always include), but organizer Diane is quick to point out that the stars of the afternoon will be the audience, themselves. In concert (so to speak) with the Bayside Singers, it will be all of us who will “make the rafters ring” with the old, familiar Christmas carols.  Call it a sing-along or a performance or a service or whatever you like!  Just come on to Oysterville a week from today.

How I hope the church is full-to-overflowing and that our voices are heard from one end of the village to the other – and even out onto the bay!  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” begins the 100th psalm.  Yes!  Let’s!

A Glimpse From Beyond My Own Grave

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

“Oystervile Cemetery Sketches” by Marie Oesting

Yesterday, I finally understood a little bit better about why we never asked the right questions of our grandparents or our parents or someone else who has now gone on to their ‘great reward.’.  It’s a familiar theme. “Why didn’t I ever have that conversation with my great aunt?”  Or, “Why didn’t my mother tell me about that?”

My conversation was with my friend and neighbor, Cyndy, who is the President of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation – the organization that owns and manages the church and much of the open space here in Oysterville.  She and I served as Co-Presidents until last May when my term on the Board was up and I chose not to run again.  Nyel, too, was on the Board as Treasurer for a number of years until he resigned last month for health reasons.

We were talking about the church and its need for new or repaired wallpaper.  Cyndy had recently been over there with a ‘wallpaper expert’ and was telling us with some amazement that the wallpaper is applied directly to the boards.  “Yes,” Nyel and I said.  “The church is single-wall construction.”

Biggs and Dutton Album, 1993

Cyndy went on to tell us that the wallpaper expert had suggested lining the walls with a “very thin” wallboard to give additional stability to the repaired/replaced wallpaper when the time comes.  “But, I think that would ruin the acoustics in the church,” I said.

It was an “aha” moment for Cyndy.  She, like most people who have been to musical events in the church, is well aware of its fine acoustics.  Musicians from her Willapa Bay Artists in Residence Retreat often go there to play their instruments.  One group even had a small concert there.  The church has become the ‘recording studio’ for more than one CD over the years – the first one I’m aware of was “Christmas with Biggs & Dutton” recorded in the historic Oysterville Church March 7-9, 1993, according to the liner notesBut Cyndy had never put that together with the single-wall-construction part of the picture.

We continued discussing the wallpaper situation and Nyel and I mentioned that we have all the unused rolls and remnants from the last time the church was papered.  “You do?” Again, pure amazement.  “Yes, of course,” Nyel said.  “Where else would it be?”  (What he didn’t say was that this house has been the repository for almost everything to do with the church, ever since it was built in 1892.)  “But why didn’t you say something?” Cyndy said.  “All those years you were on the board and all the times we’ve talked about wallpaper?”

Inside the Oysterville Church

I don’t have a really good answer for that.  There were, indeed, many discussions about the need to “do something” about the wallpaper.  Our friend Ray Hansen has actually done several repairs over the years and has offered to come and do whatever is needed if the ORF Board would like him to.  “I know we’ve mentioned Ray and his offer,” I said.  “Yes, but I don’t know who Ray is,” Cyndy said.

That’s when I began thinking about all those questions I should’ve asked my grandparents.  And all the conversations we must have had in which they mentioned things that simply didn’t register… because I didn’t know the people or the circumstances or have any need to pay heed.  And that’s when I had a glimpse of what it might be like here in Oysterville when I am dead.

Praise Be! It’s Done! (almost)

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Oysterville Church, June 27, 2017

Roofing projects scare me to death.  During the years that we were having our roof replaced – we had it done in three parts over six years so we could afford it – I had a hard time looking up.  And it didn’t help much to hear the horror stories.  The roofers were old hands at their job and, in their case, the business was a generational one.  Even though I felt that clambering around on a steeply pitched surface forty or fifty feet in the air must be in their DNA, I worried.   Please God, keep them safe.

At Our House, 2012

It didn’t help much that, as we got to know them, they would tell us some of their personal horror stories – a fall that resulted in a broken pelvis or a broken back or…  Always, there was a sense of pride in survival and a nonchalant attitude about the current job.  They’ve replaced many a roof in Oysterville and now have just about completed the church roof.  Never mind that several roofing companies refused to give bids.  Too steep?  Too dangerous?  They wouldn’t say.  Or they just never responded to our calls.

Church Roof – June 11, 2017

Not that I blame anyone for not wanting to work up there.  To tell you the truth, my palms get sweaty just writing about it.  But then… I do have rather extreme acrophobia.  None of those high school aptitude tests ever pointed me to a career involving ‘up.’  I am full of admiration and awe concerning roofers in general and for these roofers who tackle our Oysterville buildings, in particular, there is a soft spot in my heart.

The Bard-Heim Barn was built around 1930 – a few years before I was born.  It was a magnificent building – a village landmark during my childhood, much as the church is the landmark now, during my old age.  My mother used to tell me that the roof had to be built by imported labor – shipwrights from Aberdeen (Washington, not Scotland) – because no local builders wouldn’t take on the project.  Too high!  It’s unclear to me why shipwrights would tackle a barn roof – but there you go!

The Bardheim Barn, c. 1940

The new roof at the Oysterville Church looks fabulous!  There’s just one little ‘roofing board’ left on the lower northeast side.  It’s one of the boards the guys ‘stand’ on while leaning against the roof at a precarious angle using heavy hammers (stainless nails on this historic roof; not staples!).  I doubt if it was ‘forgotten’ and I fervently hope I’m not here for its retrieval.  There might be one small area right next to the steeple that needs to be fine-tuned.  And then…Hallelujah and Amen!  The church roof will be done!

Progress On High (and Across the Road)

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

At the Ready with Sign and Shingles

I wonder if the roofers will finish their work on the church before the beginning of the Music Vespers season on the 18th.  My best guess would be no, but they’ve been working from morn ‘til night, as they say.  Even last Sunday they were hard at it for most of the day.  Which makes me wonder if anyone has spoken to them about the upcoming Vesper service.  Perhaps not.

For a variety of reasons, we’ve been waiting over a year for them to get started on this very daunting project.  (When I say “we,” I’m referring to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, the organization to which all property owners in the National Historic District of Oysterville belong, and, more importantly in this case, the organization that owns and manages the historic church.)  Probably no one has wanted to risk slowing progress by mentioning the necessity of a work slow-down next Sunday.

Oysterville Church

Hopefully, they’ve noticed the sign recently placed in front of the church.  “Music Vespers – Sundays – 3 p.m.”  That should give them a clue.  Worst case scenario – an unplanned Sunday afternoon work break.  Perhaps they would enjoy the vesper service.  After all, it’s ‘come as you are’ and ‘open to the public’ and ‘free of charge.’  And I can’t think of anyone with more need or justifiable reason right now for sending up a prayer or two from inside (as well as on top of!) the venerable old church.

Oysterville Summer Vespers in its 37th Year

My reference here, is to the height and pitch of the church roof.  It’s not every roofing company in the area that is even willing to give a bid for repair or, in this case, replacement of those cedar shingles.  I’ve been trying to remember the last time the roof was completely replaced.  Surely, it’s been done since the initial restoration of the building in 1980.  Although… the roof that Ossie Steiner and the Mack boys put on my little house on the bay in 1979 is still good.  Of course, it was done with shakes, not shingles, which probably makes a difference.

In any case, we are watching the roofers’ progress and hoping all goes smoothly.  I wonder how they feel about being the subjects of photograph after photograph – by every tourist who comes to town as well as by those of us who live here.  I know that being on high is more-or-less old hat to them, but I hope they take some pride in working on the Oysterville Church.  We are certainly clapping and cheering for them!

Coming Up On Wedding Season!

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

A Venerable Name

Maybe it was our shared last name.  “Almost” I should say.  Hers is with a ‘ph’ instead of a ‘v’.  For whatever reason, we had a wonderful chat on the telephone and I felt I had met a new friend – and her family!

She called about renting the church for her August wedding.  The date she had in mind was available, I penciled her in on the calendar and, under normal circumstances, that would have been that!  But, somehow, we got to talking about officiants and paperwork and whether there might be out-of-state-requirements (wouldn’t you think I’d know that, but I don’t) which led to discussion of a part-time family place in Ocean Park which led to…

“My father reads your blog every day!”

“Really?  Do we know each other?”

A Venerable Venue

“No.  But …”  And she told me the most marvelous story about the agreement she and her twin sister made with her dad a few years back.  The girls would come to the Peninsula every weekend for a year (no matter what) and, together, they would build a house.  Then, they would sell it and share the proceeds.  “It was the best experience I’ve ever had!”

During the construction process, she began a blog, specifically to tell about the building experience and “mostly for my father’s benefit.”  Apparently, it was during that time that Mr. Stephens ‘discovered’ my Oysterville Daybook blog and became a ‘fan.’

Bridal Bouquet

“You have become the center of many family discussions” the bride-to-be told me!  “We know all about you!”

Can you imagine?  I was all smiles the rest of the evening.  I want to read the house-building blog.   I want to see the house they built.  And I want to meet the family!  The wedding date is set for the day after Nyel’s birthday.  If we are home, I intend to keep an eye on the church.  Perhaps I can go chat them up when they are decorating or beginning to gather for the big event…

Or maybe they’ll come knocking at our door.  I’d like that.  It happens fairly often during the wedding season but meeting the ‘ph’ namesakes would take my scheduling duties to a whole new level!

Of bonnets and bunnies and Easter bounty…

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Easter Sunrise

This morning’s sunrise over the bay was a gentle glow, not a spectacular splash like sometimes.  The new flags in the churchyard waved in a breeze that promised one of those ‘variable days’ weather-wise for this Easter Sunday of 2017.  A veritable hang-onto-your-hat day during that imaginary Easter Parade at the Beach.

At least, I think it’s imaginary.  Although the Easter Parade still happens in New York and in many other cities besides, it’s one festival I’ve never heard of here at the beach. Church services and clam digs and egg hunts, yes.  But no Easter Parade.  Probably the iffy-ness of Eastertime weather is the reason.

Churchyard, Easter 2017

Now that there aren’t any regular services in the Oysterville Church – not since the 1930s my mother said – and nothing special planned for Easter, we won’t even get the pleasure of seeing a procession of fancy hats going past our house for a service.  Not that most women actually wear hats anymore – not even to church.  Every once in a while, someone wears a hat to our Music Vespers services in the summer and I always hope it’s a fashion statement that will make a resurgence.  So far, though… not so much.

However, I’m happy to say that my cousins at the Red House are planning a little egg-hunt-around-town for later today.  Our girls in the coop even contributed some of eggs to that endeavor – three brown eggs collected by eight-year-old Ginger first thing Friday morning!

Oysterville Bounty!

Like her mom Abby, her late grandma Beeg, and her (before-she-was-born) great-grandma Barbara, Gin is one of the ‘visiting’ cousins.  I’m never quite sure if it’s the chickens or her elderly cousins she really wants to see, but she never fails to ring the bell, accept our invitation to come into the house and then sit in the library for ‘a good and proper visit’ before she checks the nest boxes at the coop!  What a gal!

As for Easter Dinner… we’ve been invited out!  “We’ll start with oysters, hors d’oeuvres, bubbles and bloodies” wrote our host, and then proceed to a meal “loosely based on the Easter feasts I remember growing up, but with about four fewer courses.”

I can’t wait!

Attention? Attention??

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Despite (and party because of) a hefty wind and periodic drenching rain, there was lots going on in the Oysterville Churchyard yesterday.  Specifically on and around the flagpole.

It was one of those mornings that the wind whistled and rattled around the house.  As I walked into the dining room and glanced out the west windows, I was momentarily flummoxed.  The flags was streaming straight to the north.  Yes, flags was.  One American flag with two streaming parts.  A flag divided.  You would be an idiot not to read symbolism into that occurrence!  I grabbed my camera and took a picture.

Retiring The Flag

Later, Nyel took down the flag.  We retire it (as well as our Washington state flag) every year or so and, obviously, it was overdue for replacement.  The state flag was looking pretty tattered a while back and we took it down but we hoped the stars and stripes would last through the winter.  Who knew that the end to Oysterville’s current Old Glory would be so dramatic?  Being torn asunder horizontally was a first as far as we remember.

Churchyard Workers, Chris and Larry

An hour or so later, Brothers Chris and Larry Freshley drove a truck into the churchyard and began their magic refurbishing of the flagpole area.  Chris, a landscape architect, had designed and planted the churchyard three or more decades ago and, for years, Larry (a retired teacher and one-time tree-farm owner) volunteered to maintain it all.  They grew up in Oysterville.  They had a vested interest in the village.  And it showed.  The grounds with their lovely rhododendron borders were the perfect setting for the Historic Oysterville Church, the centerpiece of the village.

Renewed and Refreshed with Boxwood and Roses

In time, maintenance chores came under the auspices of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation and, gradually, the design focus became blurry, the gravel walkway became weedy, and time took its toll.  That’s often the way of it with volunteer institutions.  Luckily… Chris and Larry to the rescue!  It they had ridden up yesterday on white horses rather than in a white truck, I wouldn’t have been surprised.  It was just that kind of day in Oysterville.

In Oysterville: Music by Candlelight

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Renée Larry, Mary. Terry, Jerry

On Tuesday – that’s tomorrow! – music fans will have a first-time-ever opportunity right here in Greater Downtown Oysterville!  Five singer-songwriters will do a short (hour long) performance of their work at the Oysterville Church.  The event begins at 7:00 o’clock.

Mary Flower (Portland, OR), Terry and Jerry Holder (Olympia, WA), Renée Muzquiz (Portland, OR) and Larry Murante (Seattle, WA) will be culminating a week long retreat at Willapa Bay AiR with a round-robin presentation for the public, free of charge.  Their stay here at the beach has been sponsored by the Peninsula Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.

Oysterville Church, Wintertime

“It has been a fabulous experience,” Larry told me yesterday afternoon.  And when I met with the others over at the church to discuss the ‘nuts and bolts’ (heating, lighting, seating), everyone else echoed his sentiments.  They spoke about the generosity of Bill and Sue Svendsen of the Peninsula Performing Arts Center and of the fabulous facilities that Cyndy Hayward of Willapa Bay AiR has put at their disposal.

The musicians, themselves, can take credit for the idea of a public performance.  Each one expressed delight in the opportunity to perform in the Oysterville Church which is well-known in the music world for its excellent acoustics.  It is also known for its ‘historic’ character and the musicians were pleased to find that there is, in fact, a furnace and heat will be made available for tomorrow’s event.

Lighting is a little more problematic.  There are two outlets near the dais so the musicians can work by lamplight but, otherwise, at 7:00 p.m. on the last day of January, it’s mighty dark in the little 1892 building.  Votive candles (the kind contained in glass cups) on the windowsills will provide enough light for audience members to safely find seats and to enjoy the warm old-fashioned glow of yesteryear.

It should be a magical event.  Spread the word and come on over!


Sunday, November 20th, 2016
Oysterville Church by Bob Duke

Oysterville Church by Bob Duke

Three words with full stops after each.  Words to live by when you get to a certain age.  I thought of them yesterday as I lay sprawled on the porch of the Oysterville Church.  I had made a three point landing – both knees and my right hand hurt like hell.

It had happened in a blink, the way those things usually do. The street was empty and I had the fleeting thought that I could be there quite a while before Nyel missed me or anyone noticed.  It was starting to rain – an unlikely afternoon for hordes of tourists to arrive and come to my rescue.  Simultaneously, I realized that my undignified butt-in-air landing meant that the cell phone in my back pocket was reachable and that, if worse came to worse, I could call for help.

By then, though, I had determined that I was probably all right and that, at worst, I’d have a few bruises.  I hauled myself up and continued into the church being more cautious about lifting my feet as I crossed the threshold.  It had been a clumsy mis-step up the single stair onto the porch that had caused my sudden plunge downward, and I proceeded with all due caution.


Sydney with Scabby Knees – Front Row, Far Right

All my life, I’ve been one to fall up rather than down stairs.  Thank goodness.  Not that I fall all that much, even now in old age.  Again, thank goodness.  And, I often land on my knees.  That was true even in childhood.  In more than one of my old grade school pictures, I have a bandage on one knee or the other – or at the very least, a scab or two.

In recent years – well, the last twenty or so – I’ve been extra careful about falling.  It was in the early 1990s that I was diagnosed with “severe” osteoporosis and no amount of shot-taking, infusions, pill-injections or partaking of clinical studies has changed that.  On the other hand, I have never in my life broken a bone.  I’d like to keep it that way.

My doctors always say, “Do. Not. Fall.”  Great advice and, Lord knows, I don’t do it on purpose.  Certainly not on a soggy Saturday afternoon in deserted downtown Oysterville!

Blind Pilot Could Use Your Help

Monday, August 29th, 2016
Blind Pilot Founders, Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dubrowski

Blind Pilot Founders, Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dubrowski

If you’ve always had a hankering to be in a music video – or even if such a scenario wouldn’t occur to you in your wildest dreams – a chance is coming up to be of help to a ‘local’ band.  The group is Blind Pilot, an indie folk band born in Astoria and now based in Portland.  They will be taping a segment of an upcoming video and they need “extras” to serve as audience members.

It’s happening at the Oysterville Church this Friday, September 2nd.  If you can help out, be there at 12:00 noon.  I was told that we (yes, I’m planning to be there!) will be asked to sit in the pews and “just act like audience members.”  We will be directed (by the Director) about when to clap or listen intently or whatever…  I think it’s purely a volunteer deal – no budget was mentioned – and, although they have booked the church for four hours, I don’t think they’ll need the extras for very long.

Blind Pilot's Israel Nebeker Live at Sasquatch

Blind Pilot’s Israel Nebeker Live at Sasquatch

So… about Blind Pilot.  The group began in 2008 as a duo with guitarist/vocalist Israel Nebeker (of Astoria – that’s the local connection) and drummer Ryan Dubrowski who met at the University of Oregon.  That year they went on a bike tour down the West Coast from Bellingham to San Diego, taking with them a few songs and their incredible talent and charisma.  Their instruments followed behind them in custom-built bicycle trailers of their own design.

Early on in their collaboration, Israel and Ryan rented space in one of the old cannery buildings on the Astoria waterfront.  There they lived and worked on their first album, “3 Rounds and a Sound.”  The view of the pilot boats working on the river inspired their name.

"Amd Then Like Lions"

“Amd Then Like Lions”

By summer of 2009, the band had segued into a 6-piece ensemble featuring fellow Oregonians Luke Ydstie (upright bass, backing vocals), Kati Claborn (banjo, dulcimer, backing vocals), Ian Krist (vibraphones) and Dave Jorgensen (keyboards, trumpet).  As a sextet, they released their second album, “We Are The Tide” in 2011.  Over the years, they have made numerous television appearances including Late Night with David Letterman, and have performed at Lollapalooza, Sasquatch and the Bonnaroo Music Festivals.

Blind Pilot has just (August 12th) released their third album, “And Then Like Lions.”  I’m not sure if the videotaping at the church on Friday has to do with its promotion or with something else altogether.  Come and be part of the fun and find out!