Archive for the ‘Summer in Oysterville’ Category

Welcome to beautiful downtown Oysterville!

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Bard Heim Barn c.1950

Paragraphs #9 and #10 of “Oysterville” in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast:

But all is well.  History has been saved, and it can be truthfully described as “living history.”

With Willapa Bay as its backdrop, the 80-acre Oysterville National Historic District and the areas immediately adjacent to it feels [sic] like a movie back lot version of a 19th -century coastal community.

I’m probably among the minority but I have never been to a movie backlot.  So I did a little research.  According to Wikipedia A backlot is an area behind or adjoining a movie studio,   containing permanent exterior buildings for outdoor scenes in filmmaking or television productions,  or space for temporary set construction. 

The Briscoe Residence c. 1890

The article went on to say: Some movie studios build a wide variety of sets on the backlot, which can be modified for different purposes as need requires and “dressed” to resemble any time period or look…  The shells, or façades, on a studio backlot are usually constructed with three sides and a roof, often missing the back wall and/or one of the side walls.  (Yep!  There are lots of houses in Oysterville exactly like that!  Not!)

But it was the final paragraph that struck me:  Though some studios like MGM and Fox sold vast tracts in the 1960s and 1970s, many historical sets continue to be demolished today, as there seems to be little interest in their preservation.

In that respect — the “little interest in their preservation” part — I do believe we are a lot like a historical set.  I well remember some years ago when Oysterville citizens went before our County Commissioners asking for tax relief which is allowed in many Washington Counties for designated historical properties to offset the monies spent to keep things authentically “historical.”

Tommy Nelson’s Cannery 1945

We were, of course, denied.  But it was Planning Director’s  remark that has stuck in my head all these years.  “Oh, protecting old houses isn’t really necessary.  We build historic houses every day. You just have to wait fifty years for them to be recognized.”  There are no words to describe my thoughts on that Trumpian viewpoint…

Stop! Look! Listen! Saturday 10:00-4:00!

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

2019 Music in the Gardens Ticket

Saturday, July 13th is coming right up.  Do you have your Music in the Gardens tickets?  Have you planned your route?  They say that this year you must BE at a garden at the stroke of ten a.m. if you are to visit all seven gardens before the four p.m. closing.

It sounds simple enough.  Start at one end; go to the other.  But wait!  Don’t forget to factor in the musicians.  And if you have a favorite one (or two or six) that will take you some additional factoring.  And maybe a bit of calculus or even trigonometry.

For one thing, not all the musicians play all day.  And, in most cases, each garden hosts just one  musician (or group)..  But not always.  The schedule looks like this:

Garden One – Dave Drury 9:45 am. to 12:45 with two breaks on the half hour.
Tom Trudell will set up and begin “about” 12:45 until “at least” 3:30 — maybe
doing a couple of tunes with Dave.  And… student musician Tristan Trudell will be playing part of the time as well.

Garden Two — Two groups, Tanz (Judy Eron and Charlie Watkins) will play from 10 until 12.   Sea Strings (Bill and Janet Clark) will play from 12:30 or 1:00 to 2:30 or 3:00.  (Got that?)  In between (from 12 to 12:30 or 1:00) Janet and Judy will perform Beatles songs.
And later, guitarist Tim Bunney, a friend of the homeowner/gardener will play to round out the day.

Well… you see what I mean.  In those two gardens alone, it is a constantly changing, moveable, musical feast!  The other five gardens appear to be somewhat more straightforward:

Guitarist Brian O’Connor

Garden Three – Brian O’Connor, all day with breaks from time to time

Garden Four – Geoerge Coleman, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Five – Tom Grant, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Six – Terry Robb, 1:00 – 4:00

Garden Seven – Jean-Pierre and Al Perez, 1:00 – 4:00

Oh yes… the gardens!  If you have your tickets, you have a description and, most importantly, the location of each of the seven.  Super necessary to plan your day.  I can give you a bit of a hint — the names of the gardeners for each of the numbers above.  #1 – Diane and Fred Marshall; #2 – Dawna and Terry Hart; #3 – Shelley Pollock and Jeff Stevens; #4 – Barbara and Eugene Norcross-Renner;  #5 – Dave and Linda King; #6 – Deb Howard; #7 – John Stephens and Steve McCormick.

The Love Shack 

Only a few pieces are still missing — addresses and a map!  Both are available on your ticket which, if ordered online or by phone, can be picked up at the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse in Long Beach, or the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park.  Each venue still has tickets available for sale, as well — a $20 bargain!






A Little Wierd… But Nice To Know… Maybe!

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Yesterday morning when I checked my FaceBook page, there was an information box at the top which said that my cousin Mona and my friend and former student Chelsea “had marked themselves safe during Hurricane Florence Across the Eastern United States.”  While it was very welcome news, it seemed a little Big Brother-ish to me.

My immediate reaction was “How do they know?”  The ‘they’ of that thought process was a faceless entity, definitely a Big Brother look-alike, so to speak.  But, on reflection. I realized that somehow Mona and Chelsea had been given an opportunity by the ‘they’ of FaceBook to weigh in so that their friends could be apprised of their status.

Readying Suppies at Fort Bragg, NC

I am grateful.  But, being the glass half-empty personality that I am, I immediately wondered about other friends and loved ones in the Carolinas that I haven’t heard about – those without FB but, more crucially, those with FB.  Did they opt not to weigh in?  Or are they among 670,000 people without power?  And, if that’s the case, what other problems are they facing?

All-in-all, I’m feeling like a little knowledge is not entirely satisfactory.  I’m trying to take the attitude that “no news is good news” and I actually wish our media would subscribe to that philosophy, as well. The constant hype, the worst-case scenarios, and the repetitive visuals of the most dire situations wore me down in the first day or so of the impending disaster.  And now FB gets into the act!  I’m feeling a bit gobsmacked in Oysterville and am turning off, tuning out, and reverting to the age-old policy of hope for the best!

Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018


Picnic at Beard’s Hollow, 1940s

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been conflicted about Labor Day Weekend – sad that it marked summer’s end and happy that school was about to begin. That was as true during my teaching years as it had been when I was a student.  By the time I retired, that ‘Labor Day Weekend Feeling’ was forever ingrained.

Besides… living here on the Peninsula simply acts as reinforcement to that transition from summer to fall.  We have always been a vacation destination.  It’s the beach, after all.  During my lifetime, I’ve watched that ‘vacation’ moniker morph into ‘tourist’ and, lately, into the ‘year-round tourist’ term.  Even so, there is still a tangible lull in the activity on the Peninsula after Labor Day.  Fewer visitors, less traffic, diminished hours for some tourist-dependent businesses, and an almost audible sigh of relief, even among those whose livelihood depends upon that influx of outsiders.

In Oysterville, Labor Day weekend marks the end of our Music Vespers for another season.  I am always a bit amazed that the twelve weekly services are over so soon.  Although there are no longer “summer homes” here that get boarded up at the end of the season, we know that some of our part-time residents won’t be here as often and the stream of visitors to the church will lessen.  Somehow, it seems a relief to have the village ‘back,’ though we’ll be looking forward to friends and visitors by the next three-day weekend.

Smokin’ Hot!

Although the shortening days sadden me, the hint of nip in the air is a reminder that the ducks and geese will be moving through soon and hunting season is just around the corner.  Not that Nyel hunts anymore and not that I ever did.  But I love to hear that “pop! pop! pop!” out on the bay – a reminder of my childhood and of the continuing rhythms of our lives.  I’m even looking forward to first storm of the season (but maybe not until November).  It seems a long time since we’ve hunkered down by the fire.

Meanwhile, though, bring on tomorrow’s barbecues!  And Happy Labor Day!

…and the winds blew fair…

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

Before the Race

The rain smattered and pattered right up until the starting horn blew at yesterday’s Oysterville Regatta.  From then on, it remained dry (mostly) and was suitably windy (actually, more than)  for the nine competing boats and their redoubtable skippers.

Judy and Charlie – Photo by Vicki

There were some gnarly gusts, though, catching a number of the sleek laser sailboats just wrong and over they’d go.  Exciting for us shoreside spectators, difficult for the stalwart sailors, and cause for the rescue jet skier (Doug Knutzen) to zip hither and thither throughout the race.  Thankfully, the event was disaster-free, though there was one problem that caused a skipper to drop out after the first heat and another boat lost its rudder for a few tense minutes.  The consensus: easier sailing than last year but enough excitement to last until Regatta 2019!

Admiral of the Fleet – Photo by Vicki

Afterwards, the Awards Dinner, the culminating Regatta event each year since the early 1990s, surpassed all expectations!  Orchestrated by Carol Wachsmuth and daughter Lina, and hosted by Lina and Dave, there was a fabulous array of food and beverages (served by our favorite professional Pamela and her friend Lisa) – even a special beer for the occasion, brewed by Carol and Tucker’s son Charley! Music was provided by Judy and Charlie of Double J and the Boys. In addition to the stars of the day, nearly all of Oysterville was in attendance along with friends and relatives from as far away as Germany.

Friends and Family

Tucker, in his capacity as Admiral of the Fleet and Master of Ceremonies, presented the awards – the trophies all crafted by him and taking on more significance with each passing year.  The Oyster Cup is adorned with each winner’s name and goes back to 1994!  There were tee shirts (also designed by Tucker) for all participants and workers and, to cap it all off, he treated us to his “2018 Regatta Song” – plus a review of past celebratory compositions as well!  Wow!

Regatta Pinata Grandkids

The youngest children raced around the periphery, adorned in the colorful remains of an afternoon piñata attack.  Old friends renewed acquaintences and new friendships were forged.  As it grew dark, a fire was lit in the firepit, various instruments began to appear, and guests gathered ’round to join in on old favorites.  As Nyel and I walked home, we talked about our good fortune to live in this lovely place in the company of good friends and neighbors.  It really doesn’t get much better than Regatta Day in Oysterville!

The Bridge on the Bay

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Regatta Invitation 2018

In Oysterville, the sailors among us are gearing up. Friends and relatives from as far away as Germany are arriving. There is more activity down at the bay than there has been since this time last year.  It’s Regatta Weekend!

At the center of all the activity is Tucker Wachsmuth who is Chief Organizer of this who-knows-how-many years annual event. And of course, his family is in the thick of it, too – Carol who is hostess to the multitudes; daughter Lena who oversees the Awards Dinner afterwards; son Clark who numbers among the competitors; and Cousin Chris Freshley who re-instituted the Oysterville Regatta twenty years ago (more or less) and then did then hand-off to Tucker a few years later.

Oysterville Regatta 2017 – Photo by Mark Petersen

Over the years, the regatta has developed many of the tell-tale signs of an “event.”  There are invitations, a time-keeper’s committee boat, an official rescue boat, tee shirts, trophies, music – even a yearly regatta song!  At the thick of it is Tucker – Artistic Director, Singer/songwriter, and all-year-long Boat Keeper.  The boats – all 14-foot laser class sailboats – are mostly based in Oysterville, several of them in Tucker’s boathouse.

The Regatta, of course, has generational ties to Oysterville.  The event was originally begun in the ’70s – the 1870s that is – by the oystermen in Shoalwater Bay.  They had organized the Oysterville Yacht Club and after the races the club gave a Regatta Ball, “ever to be remembered as the crowing social event of the season,” according to Wallace Stewart who was known as one of the best sailors on the bay.  Their sailboats, of course were their oyster sloops – their everyday work boats.  They were 30 feet long, ten feet wide, had centerboards and were known as “plungers” perhaps for the way they looked in choppy waters. Tucker’s great-grandfather, Meinert Wachsmuth sailed in at least one regatta in the 1890s.

Annual Regatta c. 1870s

When the sails are racing across the bay, it doesn’t take much imagination at all to think of the present-day regattas as a bridge across time – from the 1870s to 2018.  I’m sure the sailors must feel that connection even more closely than do the onlookers – especially Tucker and his family.  It’s surely genetic as well as generational!

The Willys in Oysterville

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

They were picture perfect, parked in Oysterville in front of the church!  Six vintage Willys – 19aught-something to 1939 on an outing to the Washington coast.  They had come from California, Oregon, Idaho and Eastern Washington on one of their periodic outings.  Their owners belong to the Northwest Chapter of the Willys-Overland-Knights Registry, formed in 1960.

Oysterville residents and tourists gathered ’round like bees to nectar, taking pictures, asking questions, and oohing and aahing appropriately.  Several of the men said that their car had first been owned by their collector fathers, and several also said that there were another one or two Willys at home in their garages.

Our neighbor Tucker was interested in the engines and asked technical questions I can’t begin to remember.  When I wondered how he even knew to ask, he told me that he once owned a vintage car (not a Willys, though).  “I thought I might like to collect them, but I soon realized that I didn’t really know enough about fixing them.  So, I sold it and began collecting pinball machines instead. Those I could fix!”

When they left Oysterville, the group was headed across the river to the Fort Stevens Military Museum where they will be on display today (Wednesday, August 1, 2018.)  The last car in line was the “Trouble Truck” complete with flatbed trailer.  “Just in case,” laughed the driver who is one of several non-Willys owners who accompany the group on their outings.

Oysterville seemed pretty quiet when they left.  They were definitely a bright ending for July 2018!

Busy Times on the Front Porch

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

There seems to be a steady stream of summer visitors making their way to our front door these days, and not just by the usual overland route!  Mama and Papa swallow are clotting up the airways, too.  Keeping four hungry babies fed is definitely a full-time job.

On the days when people traffic is at maximum density – like during the Gordon Memorial Picnic on Monday – our little avian enclave gets pretty testy.  The babies stretch their necks right out of their nest and open those beaks in a frenzy of expectation.  The adult swallows swoop around just beyond the overhanging porch roof, waiting their opportunity.  Closer and closer they dart toward the offensive humans – not threatening exactly, but certainly demanding.

I have not been loathe to remind those two adults that we tried to warn them.  The lintel above our front door is not a good place for raising babies.  That was during nest-building season last year.  Nyel took a more direct approach than my verbal warnings.  He flat-out knocked down each attempt before even the foundation was completed.  But, clever contractors that they are, they re-doubled their efforts (maybe called in an extra crew) and in one single day while we were away, their nest was completed and Mama swallow was ensconced by the time we returned.

We knew they would be back this year and, though Nyel threatened to get rid of the nest before they arrived, he somehow never got around to it.  I suspect there’s a soft spot in there somewhere but don’t say I said so. Plus, the builders had carefully placed that nest at the far end of the door frame so their droppings aren’t directly in the path of our comings and goings.  Thoughtful, I pointed out.

After the last guest had gone Monday and I was doing a little tidying up, babies and parents must have decided that they could cope with a single person.  Either that or getting food to those hungry quadruplets meant throwing caution to the wind.  There were a couple of wonderful photo ops and when I showed those pictures to Nyel, even he was suitably impressed.  Not oohing and aahing exactly… but close.

Looking for time to just… sit.

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

A few years back…

Our friend Cate said that our place looked like “a home for old people.”  She was talking about our garden and the chairs that were lined up invitingly all in a row.  She said it jokingly, but still… That was a few years back – when we were a lot younger and I could laugh at her description.  Now?  I wish we still had those chairs!

Nyel never did like them much.  They were hard to get in and out of but, more than that, he had to sit with his head at a peculiar (and uncomfortable) angle because the high back of the chair was not compatible with his hat.  (Hats are imperative for old people in the summer, you know.)  He toughed it out, mostly for my sake, I think.  In line with my general philosophy, ‘appearances are everything,’ I loved those chairs.  They were colorful and inviting – to young and old, I thought!

The Hat Problem

We’ve had our eye out for suitable replacements but, mostly, we’ve only seen clones of those dangerous, collapsing chairs.  So, we’ve done without.  Then I had a bit of an epiphany.  We have in our back-forty, eight ancient (and very banged up) folding metal chairs – they went with the card tables that my folks had back in the seventies and eighties.  I think they got them second-hand.  They’ve been used and misused for half a century and are so ugly that I can hardly stand them.  If only they were pretty, bright colors thought I.

Cans of spray paint at Jack’s were my solution.  Yesterday Nyel painted the first four.  I love them!  They won’t be especially comfortable but they look terrific and will serve the purpose – sitting at the picnic table or just hanging out admiring the bay — without hat issues.  Or gazing at the the flowers.  Or schmoozing with Cate and the other old people that might be joining us… if we ever have time to just sit around!

Feasting on Summer!

Friday, July 20th, 2018

South Garden

“Has your house ever been on the Garden Tour?” our visitor asked.  We were standing on the south porch with a riot of daisies and climbing roses and nasturtiums and I-don’t-know-what-all smiling at us in the sunshine.

“No,” I laughed.  “We’ve never been asked.”  I didn’t offer to take her around to the rest of the yard so she could see for herself that we could never qualify – at least not in the middle of summer.  ‘The Merrie Month of May’ might be another story.  Then, many of our rhododendrons are in bloom and there is actually some ‘garden’ to our yard – if you know what I mean.  In July… not much happening except in that southwest corner.  And that, in truth, is a feast for the eyes.

Ready for the Oven

What totallyy qualifies for summer around here, though, is Nyel’s cooking!  Even with our oven “off limits” (we are still smelling propane and waiting for the hooker-upper-people to come with their testing equipment), Chef Nyel manages to pull it all together.

Earlier this week:  gazpacho!  Yum!  Last night: tomato pie baked in my mother’s old roaster oven.  “Never get rid of anything that might prove useful someday” is Nyel’s motto.  Instead of making me eat crow for all my years of asking “Can’t we recycle that?” he served up the most delicious tomato pie ever!  What a guy!  What a feast!  What a summer!