Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

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!

As far as is known…

Sunday, July 17th, 2016
Fred Carter

Fred Carter, March 2016

Local singer/songwriter Fred Carter will be playing at the Oysterville Church this afternoon – sharing the dais with Seaview’s St. Peter Episcopal Church’s priest, Father Dick Loop.  I am so happy that Nyel and I will be able to be in attendance, but it won’t quite make up for a party we recently missed at Fred and wife Vicki’s.  Well… few things could.

It was billed as the “Piggy Petting Potluck Party” in honor of (?) or celebration for (?) the porcine pet they were taking care of for friends.  If I’m not mistaken, it was their second pig-sitting experience and, in this instance, the only comment I heard from Vicki about the pig was “stubborn!”  As far as is known, the pig will not be accompanying them to Vespers.

Edwin Espy, 1915

Edwin Espy, 1915

This is not to say that I think bringing a pig to Vespers would in any way be appropriate.  Well… maybe if someone organized a ‘Blessing of the Animals’ event like they do at some churches.  But otherwise… I don’t think so.  However, there was a time back in 1914 or ‘15 when my uncle Edwin somehow managed to leave his pet goat locked in the Sunday school room of the church for three days.  Although Edwin always said he “didn’t remember” the incident, his older sister Mona certainly did since she (or so she claimed) was the one who had to do the cleaning up afterwards.

Pigs and goats and other animals aside, I hope we have a full house today.  The Oysterville Moment will be presented by Hal Buttrell.  His wife, the inimitable Diane, will be playing the organ (or maybe the piano) to accompany the congregational hymn-singing. That old-fashioned pump organ is sometimes daunting and, although Diane has been practicing over there now and again, the jury is out regarding her final decision.  Piano?  Organ?  I wonder if I remembered to tell her that at least one other organist signed up at the gym for leg-strengthening exercises several months before Vespers began.

See you there at 3 o’clock this afternoon. But please leave the pigs and goats at home!

“One of them arty fellas…”

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

20160605_185704In the late seventies and early eighties Bob Meadows lived in the W.D. Taylor house just south of the church.  At that time, the house was a rental and was not in very good repair – a fact that bothered Bob not in the least.  He, being one of those jack-of-all-trades kinda guys, fixed the leaks and other annoyances and spent his days doing odd jobs around the community in exchange for remuneration that could involve money… or not.

Once, when the Wiegardt boys got carried away up at the Point and shot way more than their quota of ducks, my dad came to the rescue and took their overage.  (They had knocked at the door, afraid to go home with the extra bounty.)  Mom, not wanting to dress out the dozen ducks, asked Bob if he would do it in exchange for half of them.  He was delighted and later – much later! – brought six beautifully cleaned ducks back to mom with the remark, “I don’t know if I’m a-flappin’ or a-quackin’” which became another one of those words-to-live-by phrases in our family.

Quinn Crain, Self-Portrait

Quinn Crain, Self-Portrait

It was also Bob (“Old Bob” my folks called him, until it was discovered that he was born in 1911, the same year as my mom) who coined the phrase “one of them arty fellas” when referring to a painter who had set up his easel in the lane.  I thought about that the other evening when I saw a young painter hard at it in the churchyard across the street.

I walked over to take a better look and we had a short conversation.  “Do you know the Crain family?” he asked.  I said I didn’t think so.  He said he had an uncle and aunt by that name who lived in Ocean Park.  His aunt had recently died and he was doing the painting of the church as a gift for his uncle.  Her funeral was to be next Saturday and he could not attend.  He said he was from Portland.

From the Quinn Crain Galleries FB Page

From the Quinn Crain Galleries FB Page

About then, Nyel rapped on the window signaling dinner was ready and I went indoors.  “Do you know a family in Ocean Park named Crain?” I asked.  “Only Jon Crain,” Nyel said, and the penny dropped.  Nyel occasionally works with Jon at the high school and he had mentioned that Jon’s wife had died a few days previously.

That “arty fella” was packing up his brushes and easel when I went back outside to provide a little closure to our earlier conversation.  As I headed home once again, I asked his name.  “Quinn,” he said, “Quinn Crain.”  Later I looked up young Mr. Quinn Crain on FaceBook and discovered the Quinn Galleries site in Portland.  No mistaking the self-portrait pictured there! And what an impressive body of work!  I wish I could tell Old Bob all about it.

No! No! No! Not in the church!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Swallow on GuardThere was a lot of scolding going on in the Oysterville Church yesterday.  It began during the Memorial Day program right when Nyel was reading “In Flanders Field.”  The door from vestibule to the main part of the church was slightly ajar and those of us in the rear pews could hardly hear the words to that lovely old poem.

Competing with Nyel (and later with the Bayside Singers) were two very indignant swallows.  Sometime previously, perhaps over the weekend, someone had left the entry door open long enough… Now, Mr. and Mrs. Barn Swallow had begun their nest just above the vestibule window and they were letting us all know that the church was currently off limits to the rest of us.

After the morning’s ceremonies were over – the cannon had been fired and the last of the left-overs from coffee-at-the-schoolhouse had been packed away – I noticed that the church door was still open.  In fact, both of the double doors were open wide.  When I went over to close them, Mr. Swallow scolded me roundly from his perch on the bell rope.  He was obviously keeping close watch over the construction site a few feet to his north.

That bell rope has been knotted so that it is out of reach of tourists. Fortunately, there weren’t any in the area as I stood there talking to the immovable bird.  He cheep-cheep-cheeped at me as I tried to explain that the inside of the church, though perhaps barn-like to him, was not an appropriate place for a nest.  He was unflappable.  Literally.  So I went off to the American Legion sponsored lunch at the Heritage Museum.

Later, apparently during a work break, Nyel found the vestibule empty of birds and firmly closed the doors.  I felt vaguely sorry for them.  And more than vaguely annoyed at whoever had left the door open in the first place.  What were they – born in a barn?

Blest be the tie that binds… but not in my backyard!

Monday, May 23rd, 2016


In The South Garden

In The South Garden

Old fashioned hymns and garden weeds are an unlikely pairing, but in my mind they seem to be closely connected.  I think it’s because years ago, when I was still teaching and my dad needed help in the garden, Sunday afternoons were a likely time for me to spend a few hours going after buttercups and dandelions.  Even in summer, I sometimes skipped Vespers and did my ‘yard duty’ instead.

Often I’d work in the south garden.  Located, as it is, just across from the church, I could enjoy the music from my ignominious position (on hands and knees) behind the fence while I wrestled with nature’s bounty.  Most of the hymns were familiar to me and I would sing along.  It’s a habit that stuck – singing hymns while weeding.

An Old Favorite

An Old Favorite

Most of those wonderful old hymns are from John Wesley’s A Collection of Psalms and Hymns, first published at Charlestown, South Carolina in 1737.  They are the ones we sing in the Oysterville Church largely because our collection of hymnals are hand-me-downs from the Methodist Church in Ocean Park.  Never mind that our church was originally of Baptist persuasion.

But, more importantly to me, those are the hymns I learned when I attended Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa (just north of Nahcotta) from 1942 to 1950.  She, too, apparently had been the recipient of old Methodist hymnals and her answer to the disintegrating bindings was to cut out the hymns and carefully paste them on the pages of Readers Digest magazines.

Dratted Bindweed

Dratted Bindweed

On Sunday evenings we campers would gather at the main building, “The Ark,” for our weekly Sing-Song.  We sat on the living room floor in front of the big stone fireplace, Miss Elliott would sit at piano, the ‘hymn books’ were passed ’round and, by turns, we would choose the next song to sing.  I loved that hour each week!  I can still hear the crackle of the fire providing counterpoint to the piano and our young voices “making a joyful noise unto the Lord…”

All good memories when it comes to hymns!  Sometimes it’s Miss Elliott’s voice saying “This Is My Father’s World – Number 45” or maybe, as the shadows grow long, “Now The Day Is Over – Number 495.”  And, I sing along.  Conversely (or, perhaps, perversely) whenever I see that stupid bindweed (which is seemingly everywhere in the garden) I can hear Miss Elliott announce, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds – Number 306” and the words and music float unbidden into consciousness.  Well… I guess it’s better to sing than to curse!

Vespers As Seen from the Passenger’s Seat

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
Beginning June 19th

Beginning June 19th

Today, Carol Wachsmuth is delivering the Oysterville Music Vespers bulletins to the local ministers who will conduct the 2016 services at the village church – the last step in the long (and sometimes frustrating) process of scheduling the popular summer series begun in 1978 by my folks.  I will be riding shotgun – not really an apropos metaphor in this case, just descriptive of my position in Carol’s car.

For the first time in twenty years, I’ve had no responsibilities at all in terms of scheduling vespers.  None.  I’ve been in the glorious position of “support” which in reality has been just to clap and cheer for Carol as she has jumped into the position of ‘Vesper Coordinator.’

Scheduling and coordinating the volunteer ministers, musicians, organists, to say nothing of the summer Sunday preparations – the sweeping, the flower arranging, the distribution of hymnals – is a January – September job.  It takes patience and persistence and a positive attitude – all of which Carol has in great measure.   From my vantage point (across the street and around the corner) she has accomplished her tasks seamlessly.

Carol Wachsmuth

Carol Wachsmuth

The summer Music Vespers series is the main fund-raiser by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) in support of the historic Oysterville Church.  Traditionally, the musical services begin on Father’s Day and continue through Labor Day Sunday.  The money collected during each of the twelve summer programs provides the majority of the financing required to maintain the church throughout the year.  Plus, the services help to fulfill the guidelines for ORF’s stewardship of the erstwhile Baptist Church – that the building continue to be used for ‘church purposes’ and that they be ecumenical in nature.

I’ve had a peek at the upcoming summer’s offerings.  Fabulous!  How lucky our community is that Carol and Tucker moved here full-time just when they did and that Carol has volunteered to take on this big responsibility.  Vespers is in great hands and I’m so glad to just go along for the ride!