Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

Oysterville Music Vespers 2018

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Beginning Sunday, June 17th!

In Oysterville, Father’s Day and the opening of our annual Music Vespers series at the church are pretty much synonymous. This year they both happen on Sunday, June 17th and it’s coming right up!  Since a number of people have requested the full summer vespers schedule (and even though it’s available at the Visitor’s Center and has been published by the Chinook Observer), I am devoting today’s blog to it.  Suitable for Printing and Posting on your refrigerator.

June 17 – Pastor Mary Evelyn Long, Ocean Park Methodist Church; Music, Casey Killingsworth and Family; Organist, Sandra Nielson; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

June 24 – Pastor Vern Frank, Pacific Bible Church; Music, Double ‘J’ and the Boys; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Anne Driscoll.

July 1 – The Reverend Irene Martin, Episcopal Priest; Music, Singer/Songwriter Fred Carter; Organist Diane Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Diane Buttrell.

July 8 – Deacon Dick Wallace, St. Mary’s Parish; Music, Randal Bays and Family; Organist Dian Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

Rose City Mixed Quartet

July 15 – Father Dick Loop, St. Peter Episcopal Church; Music, Rose City Mixed Quartet; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Nyel Stevens.

July 22 – Deacon Jerry Sadler, St. Mary’s Parish; Music, The Oyster Crackers; Organist, John Balmer; Oysterville Moment, Tucker Wachsmuth.

July 29 – Dr. Barbara Bate, Interdenominational Pastor; Music, Guitarist David Drury; Organist Barbara Bate; Oysterville Moment, Charlotte Jacobs.

August 5 – Deacon Ken Morris, New Life Church; Music, Singer/Songwriter Mary Garvey; Organist, Kristin Hammond; Oysterville Moment, Cyndy Hayward.

August 12 – The Reverend J.D. Maddux, St. John’s Episcopal church, Olympia; Music, Folk Musicians Starla and Cate Gable; Organist, Sandra Nielson; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

August 19 – Pastor Don Mower, Family Worship Center; Music, Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Puget Sound; Organist, John Balmer; Oysterville Moment, Susan Holway.

Summer Music Vesper Audience

August 26 – Pastor Greg Ikehara-Martin, Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church; Music, ‘Tanz and Sea Strings’; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Tucker Wachsmuth.

September 2 – Pat McKibbin Lay Minister; Music, ‘Doug and Joyce (Ukulele and Songs); Organist, Diane Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Charley Wachsmuth.

All services begin at 3:00 and are open to the public who are encouraged to ‘come as you are’.  Proceeds from the collection basket go toward the upkeep and day-to-day maintenance of the church.  Questions can be directed to Vespers Coordinator Carol Wachsmuth,

See you there!

Sometimes there isn’t any good answer.

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Oysterville Church Vestibule

It isn’t every day that I meet someone at the church at 8:30 in the morning.  And never has such a rendezvous been in lieu of a midnight meeting!  But, there I was yesterday standing in the doorway to avoid the early morning drizzle, waiting for the reporter from the Tacoma PBS radio station. Actually, he was someone known to me – a local man on a freelance assignment.  But still, it was a little weird.

He had called me a few days earlier saying that the radio station was doing a series on “sacred places.” They were interested in the Oysterville Church because it is open all the time.  “Twenty-four/seven?” he asked.

“They actually suggested that I conduct the interview at midnight,” he said.  I think I laughed – at least a little whoop of incredulity.  “Why?” was my response.  “It’s not like listeners could tell the difference!”

Church Doorknob

But I told him “whatever…” and mentioned that there are no lights in the church.  I also asked if this was a ploy to talk about ghosts.  We’ve turned down ghost-chasers before. “Not at all,” he said.  “They were just curious.” And he suggested we meet in the early morning before visitors began arriving.

He decided that the vestibule was “less echo-y” and so we stood there for twenty minutes or so – he holding the small recorder close to my mouth and I trying to keep my answers to his questions concise and on track.  He had warned me about that – in a nice way.  “I know you could spend an hour or two on any one of the questions I ask,” he had said.  “But it’s supposed to be a fifteen-minute interview.”

Oysterville Church 1902

He asked about the history of the church, why my family was so closely involved with it, how its use has changed since my childhood, and how I feel about the church.  And, of course, why it’s open all the time.  All his questions were easily answered except maybe the last one.  I think the simple truth is, there is no one available to lock and unlock it every day and, thus far, no one has felt it was necessary.

Still and all, the whole thing seemed a bit odd to me.  We could have been sitting across the street at my house in warmth and comfort, instead of standing in the chilly vestibule.  It stretches credulity that such authenticity is needed for a radio interview…  Maybe it will become clear to me when I hear the (edited?) broadcast – presumably next Sunday or the Sunday afterwards.  As they say… stay tuned.

Ready for the Next Million Plus

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

I’m not talking dollars here, although that would be nice.  I’m talking feet – as in pedestrian foot traffic in and out of the Oysterville Church.  Although math has never been my strong suit, I think that over the past forty years, many more than a million feet have walked along the walkway into and out of the church. Now that the walkway has been replaced for the first time since the early eighties, I think it’s ready for the next million or so.

This is how I figured it:  10,000 visitors a year (according to signatures in the guest books) times two feet each is 20,000 steps in – 40,000 when you count the exit process; times 40 (more or less) years.  That makes 1,600,000 feet that have marched, hopped, dragged, or sauntered their owners into our little church to have a look around.  No wonder that wooden walkway needed replacing.

New, also, is the porch deck and the four posts that support the railing. All that’s needed is a little paint and the entrance will be ready for the summer onslaught.  Yay!  Of course, all this begs the greater question of the wear and tear on the church floor within.  The last time it was refinished, as in stripped and sanded and resealed, we were told “that’s it.  The floor will be compromised if another layer comes off.”

And then there are the dear old, uncomfortable pews.  They, too are beginning to show their age.  Who wouldn’t after being sat on for 116 years?  But like Scarlett, I choose to think about that tomorrow.  Or maybe not at all…  As the old Polish proverb goes, “not my circus; not my monkeys.”

Church Work in Oysterville

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

When we say, “There’s a lot of church work going on in town,” it’s a literal statement.  We aren’t referring to the faithful going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Nor are we talking about church ladies slaving away over hot stoves so their husband can take meals to those in need.  No.  We are talking about work of the hammer-and-nails variety.

Day before yesterday the lumber arrived and was stashed in the “rear-behind” (another of my mother’s idiosyncratic expressions) of the church.  Yesterday, the work was to begin… and, eventually did, but not until Friday-the-thirteenth had her way with the workman.  Apparently, there was also lumber waiting at the schoolhouse and, the workman not knowing one steeple from another, went and made some repairs on the schoolhouse porch.  The mistake was discovered only after he had completed the job.  Whoops!

It couldn’t have been too extensive an undertaking because, by late morning, there was a flurry of activity at the church.  The porch railing and supports: down.  The porch deck: gone.  The walkway: cordoned off.  And by day’s end, despite the “Church Open” sign… it wasn’t.  Of course, this morning it is pouring rain, so it remains to be seen if progress will continue apace.

I believe the plan is to replace the walkway, the porch deck, and one of the posts that support the porch railing.  It should be completed in plenty of time for Oysterville’s Memorial Day celebration at the end of May.  Also, perfect timing for a busy summer ahead.  Weddings lined up for the months ahead and, beginning on Father’s Day, June 17th – the 43st annual Music Vespers series gets under way.  Perfect timing, schoolhouse repairs notwithstanding!

Shades of Michelangelo

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

The ceiling of the Oysterville Church is only 17 or 18 feet high.  Nothing like the Sistine Chapel.  And Ray Hansen had plenty of room to stand on the scaffolding.  None of that lying on his back business. But even so, I couldn’t help but make the obvious comparison.  And I wouldn’t have traded places with him for all the pasta in Rome.

Had I been a well person – and how long does this stupid bronchitis last, anyway – I would have been across the street every single day these past few weeks – worrying and fretting in my acrophobic way.  I don’t do well with ladders.  Scaffoldings?  Forget it.  Never mind that he assured me, very seriously, “Before I move, I always look to see exactly where my feet are.”  Yikes!  Instead of seeing to his safety myself. I asked Tucker if he’d take pictures.

As it was, I crossed my mental fingers tight, tight, tight and stayed tucked in safely here at home while progress was being made.  I think my friendship with Ray is still intact.  For sure it would have been a bit fractured, or at least frayed, if I’d been hovering.  Or whatever you call it when you are fretting and carrying on way off in the down-blow.

Meanwhile… the church as never looked better!  The man is pure magic when it comes to peeling and scraping and patching.  Furthermore, he had only scraps and remnants to work with – ends of wallpaper rolls that Nyel, the never-throw-anything-away-guy, has had squirrelled away in our back forty since the wallpaper was restored in the early 1980s.  Through some miracle, there was just enough.  Barely.  And only because Ray is a master of smoke and mirrors and the guild secrets of the wallpaper fraternity.  (Thumb tacks?  You’re using thumbtacks?  Who knew.)

Someday, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation will have to think seriously about re-doing the church wallpaper from start to finish.  Only because of Ray’s TLC over the years have we managed to keep the current paper in place.  I imagine that the day of reckoning will come long after I am gone.  And Ray, too, for that matter.  I hope another Wallpaper Angel surfaces in the meantime.  One with a calm manner and careful feet.  Just like Ray!

Lost Days and Missed Opportunities

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Just Across the Street

The worst part of being sick is all that time that has simply gone away.  Days and days of limbo which is described by my dictionary as an uncertain situation that you cannot control and in which there is no progress or improvement. That is an absolutely precise description of my situation from Sunday, March 11th through Monday, March 19th!  Limbo!  And not in a dancing kind of way either.

Somehow, I managed to meet a few writing deadlines.  Even wrote my blog as usual until I simply couldn’t force myself out of bed, even for a few minutes.  But then, whatever had invaded my body took total charge and time marched on without me.  I just hate that.  I am so fortunate to have been blessed with good health throughout my life – never missed a day in high school – and not afterwards, either.  In all our married life, this is the first time my long-suffering husband has seen me down and out.

Oysterville Church Vestibule

I remember that my mother used to describe one or two of her acquaintances as “a person who enjoys poor health.”  She emphasized the word “enjoys” and I took it to mean those people (usually women, sad to say) who, when asked how they are, answer with a litany of complaints.  One learns not to ask.  I never wanted to be one of those women.

The very worst part of this particular siege is that I have missed out on visiting with Carol and Ray Hansen.  They are here in Oysterville partly through my doing so I feel doubly upset.  For their working years, they lived in Seaview and I think we gradually became acquainted in the 1990s.  We were refurbishing the interior of the house – a necessity after having it insulated from the inside.  Someone (who we owe bigtime) suggested Ray who, it turned out, is the best paper hanger ever!  Every room in our house says so!

It may have been back that far that he began patching and mending the wallpaper in the church “as a favor.”  And about that time, too, we became acquainted with his wife Carol and found we had mutual friends and sometimes we partied together and… you know how it goes here on the Peninsula.  When they moved to Utah we were devastated, though we have managed visits back and forth.

Nearby, Ray’s at Work!

When the Oysterville Restoration Foundation needed some serious work done on the church wallpaper recently, we recommended Ray…and no sooner had they arrived and made themselves cozy in the Oysterville Guesthouse than I collapsed.  I’m so afraid Ray is almost finished with his work.  Right across the street and I haven’t managed to get a single photograph, say a single encouraging word or left my sickbed to even catch a glimpse of  Carol.  And I have the woozy, hazy thought that she came calling a couple of times, too!

Such a time-waster, this sick business!  I’m so so sorry.

Beyond my understanding… and his.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

the only one in town

I got an email and a phone message yesterday from a young man who had one of those difficult (for me) two first names.  He was from a radio station in Tacoma and had heard “a story about a church in Oysterville that was open 24/7.”  Was that my church, he wanted to know, and what could I tell him.

So, of course, I called.  When it comes to Oysterville and the church I always call.  I want people to know the “story” – a story fast fading into history.  He sounded pleasant and eager and apparently wanted to involve the Oysterville Church in a radio story of some kind.  We didn’t quite get that far, I’m afraid.

What was the story you heard about the church, asked I. That it was open 24/7, said he.  And then he stopped.  I guess I waited too long because he eagerly explained that he had been in Long Beach and had heard that story.  Was it true?  He wasn’t sure which of Oysterville’s churches it might be?  He was hoping I knew which one and maybe even “went to that one.”

at the ‘y’

I tried to explain that Oysterville is a National Historic District.  That the church is historic.  That it’s the only one in town… “Yes, but do you ever – or do you know of anyone who ever – goes there at midnight to pray?  You know, being open 24/7 and all?”

I’m sorry you didn’t come to Oysterville when you were so nearby, I said.  And I explained about being a National Historic District.  That once-upon-a-time no one locked doors; it wasn’t necessary.  We all knew each other, had free access to one another’s homes… leaving the church unlocked is sort of a holdover from those days, I said.  Another long silence.

“across from the church and facing the bay” . 1930

Does everyone in Oysterville belong to that one church he wanted to know.  Maybe he was thinking that he’d have better luck talking to one of the other members.  Obviously, our conversation was going nowhere and he wasn’t coming up with the answer to his radio show. You know what, I said.  I don’t think I can really help you until you come to Oysterville and see what the church is all about for yourself.  Then, knock on my door and we can talk…  I’ll try to do that he said.

The phone call ended and I felt as though communication had not taken place.  We were two aliens trying to breach the void – even though the words were familiar, they were totally out of any mutually understandable context.  Kinda like when millennials begin talking cyberspace to me.  Scary to think that my very own growing up years are not only forgotten – they aren’t even conceivable…

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!