Couldn’t Understand a Word!

June 23rd, 2017

Israel Nebeker in Concert

The last time I had my hearing checked (which wasn’t all that long ago), I still scored in the ’normal’ range.  In a way, I was disappointed about that.  After all, if it’s not my hearing that’s gone wonky, it is probably my brain and that possibility sounds like (ahem!) a much worse option.

I think I hear most things okay – as well as I want to, anyway.  But there are two areas of my auditory life that have become bothersome in recent years.  The first has to do with the telephone.  Most especially with calls or messages from young people.  Not all of them, mind you, but a disproportionate number speak so rapidly that I have no idea what they’ve said.

I get this a lot because I’m the one who brides call to arrange the rental of the Oysterville Church.  More often than not I have to ask them to repeat themselves more slowly or, if it’s a message, I just have to hope that they’ll call again when I’m home so I can say, “Slow down, please!”  It’s gotten so I much prefer communications by email from these rapid-speaker types.

Sergey Antonov and Ilya Kazantsev

The other impossible situation is any kind of concert involving vocalists born in recent years – say, after 1980.  Last night, for instance, my failure to comprehend occurred at the Liberty Theater at the Astoria Music Festival.  I was so looking forward to “Beethoven and Blue Jeans” with Israel Nebeker but, as it turned out, I couldn’t understand a word he sang and only about one in ten or twenty of the words he spoke.  According to the program, musical selections would be announced from the stage.  As much as I strained, it was mostly a mumble.

Ditto for Nyel, even with hearing aids turned up.  Ditto for our hosts Paul and Lana Jane Brent, both of whom have excellent hearing.  The instrumental parts of the program with cellist Sergey Antonov and pianist Ilya Kazantsev came through loud and clear.  Ditto the accompaniment of the other ‘Young Virtuosi musicians.  However, the vocal parts… zip.  As I looked around the audience, it definitely seemed to be an age thing.  The theater was quite full and about evenly divided between the gray hairs (who clapped warmly) and the New Gen folks who whistled, cheered, stomped and laughed, presumably in all the right places.

Say what?

I was disappointed.  I liked the music and was prepared to be enthusiastic about the songs.  The last time (and only other time) we saw Israel was when he was being filmed for a music video over at the church.  We couldn’t hear him then, either.  They were filming an action sequence which, apparently, would be married to the music through the magic of technology.  All we saw were musicians and singer Israel miming something-or-other for take after take after take.  Soundlessly.

So, actually, last night was a step up.  There was sound.  Lots of it.  I’m thinking of having another hearing test… just in case.  If it’s a choice between my auditory acuity and my brain’s ability to discriminate between noise and sound, I hope it’s hearing aids that are in my future.  It seems the best alternative.

The Hard Reality of Mobility

June 22nd, 2017

Special Delivery to Oysterville!

Every once in a while, we say to ourselves: “Selves,” (we say) “maybe it’s time to stop driving.”  And we discuss alternatives like any right-thinking, totally responsible adults-of-a-certain-age should do.  As you might imagine, that conversation took a very serious turn at the time of our recent TooP (Totaling of our Prius).  But the reality of our lives always seems to get in the way of the inevitable.

For instance… Our disaster occurred on Tuesday, May 30th.  Since then, we have purchased (and minutes ago received!) a new car and have had two rental cars and a loaner from the dealership where said purchase was made.   In the meantime, our rental/loaner wheels have taken us to Portland and back five times (doctor’s appts.), to Seattle and back once (for fun) and to Astoria and back three times (a combination of reasons we’ll call “errands”).  That’s a lot of traveling in 24 days.  2,842 miles by my count.  And that’s not considering any of the usual ‘local’ driving.  Nor did I factor in the two round trips to Longview on our car-buying mission…

The Perfect Bumper Reflection!

Part of the problem – probably a good part – is living in Oysterville.  Groceries and entertainment, medications and doctors, family and most friends are more than walking distance away.  Much more than.  Dial-a-ride only goes so far.  Pride goes much farther – as in how many people can you bother to take you how far and how often?


Our discussion usually stops at that point.  We do not talk about relocating.  That’s not an option.  Not financially and not emotionally.  We get all sorts of ‘good’ advice from (usually much younger) friends.  Our children make noises (welcome ones) about being here more often and helping out.  We appreciate all of the above.  But…

The Old and The New

Our rich fantasy life probably doesn’t help.  Like… couldn’t we win the lottery and hire a chauffeur?  What happened to the days where there were old and trusted family retainers who lived in and took care of you ‘when the time came’?  Such great ideas, but not even remotely related to reality – not in our family no matter how far back you look.  Damn!

Our new Forester, being documented by Neighbor Tucker as we speak, is red.  I think we’ll call her Scarlett.  As in… Oh I can’t think about this now!  I’ll go crazy if I do!  I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Willie Bays Streaming Live from NYC!

June 21st, 2017

Willie Bays

Anyone who has ever seen a kid off at an airport or train station can relate to this email I received from Randal Bays yesterday:

Very big day for our family, I just put our first-born on a plane for New York City… he’s totally excited and happy to be stepping out into the world, but his dad is feeling a strong mix of emotions… happy, proud, anxious, sad. It feels like sending a kid off to college must feel, except he’s only 15. :-

Willie is playing alto sax in the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.  According to the Festival Website:

Each year, Monterey Jazz Festival brings together 21 of the most accomplished high school jazz musicians from across the country to form an all-star touring jazz orchestra. The Next Generation Jazz Orchestra meets each summer to rehearse with Education Director Paul Contos before embarking on a domestic or international tour that includes performances at several well-known jazz festivals. The program culminates in a main stage performance in September at the Monterey Jazz Festival with the annual Artist-In-Residence.           

Monterey Jazz Festival Arena, 2012 – Photo (c) by Cole Thompson

The second performance of their tour — at the Dizzy Cub Coca-Cola in Lincoln Center this Sunday — will be streaming live at at 4:30 Pacific Daylight Time and we’ll be watching, you betcha!  As Randal wrote, perfect timing – right after the Oysterville Vesper Service! That’s important for all sorts of reasons, but most especially because the rest of Willie’s family will be the featured music at Vespers this week – The Bays Family Irish Band (minus Willie.)  Were Willie here, he’d be playing Irish flute with mom and dad on their fiddles and brother Owen on his concertina.  But Willie is a continent away and off on the adventure of his young life!

In addition to their Sunday gig at Lincoln Center, Tour dates for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra include:

Waiting for Willie…

June 24 – Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center, Tannersville, NY
June 27 – Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, Rochester, NY
June 28 – TD Toronto Jazz Festival, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 29, – Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sept. 14 – Concert on the Lawn, Garden Stage, Monterey, CA
Sept. 14 – Jazz Legends Gala, Pebble Beach, CA
Sept. 17 – 60th Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, CA

To take a look at the bios of the 21 “Next Gen” (as they call themselves) members and learn more about what’s in store for them, check out the Monterey Jazz Festival website at

And if you’re looking for us after the Sunday vesper service, you’ll find us watching Willie streaming live from New York City.  No one except his parents could be any prouder of him than we are!

Our Very Own Cape of Invisibility

June 20th, 2017

Astoria As Seen From The Bridge 6/19/17

In Oysterville, you know summer is here, not by the calendar or even by the ambient outdoor temperature.  It’s the morning fog – that moist marine layer that is said to have drawn the first hordes of tourists here back in the 1870s and that soon gave rise to the name “North Beach Peninsula.”  Those visitors came downriver from the hot inland valleys to find cooling relief by the seashore.  Near the mouth of the Columbia, they landed on the right or north bank where the ocean beaches were more accessible.  Voilà!  North Beach Peninsula!

In our household, we are content in the knowledge that the fog “will burn off by 11 o’clock.”  That’s what my dad always said and he was right nearly all of the time.  We also know that, if we are headed to Portland or other inland points, we should dress for hot weather.  So it was yesterday morning.  It was in the high 50s here when we left Oysterville at 10:30 a.m. and visibility on the back road made a blessing of the oncoming fog lights.  We threw our jackets in the backseat against our return, ‘just in case,’ but were pretty sure we wouldn’t need them in the big city.

Blue Sky, Blue Columbia – 6/19/17

The gray drippy-enough-for-windshield- wipers weather continued and thickened as we neared the river.  Not only was the other side of the Columbia shrouded, we could barely see the water, itself, beyond the rocky rip-rap.  But… on the bridge, the view became magical!  Blue sky, blue water but no shorelines on either side – just the cottony, protective band of white fog.  Absolutely beautiful.

A lot has been written about fog.  Patricia Beatty, in her book O The Red Rose Tree wrote of the “eerie walks” her characters took in the mornings around Ocean Park.  In the familiar old folksong, the weaver says, So I hauled her into bed and covered up her head, just to keep her from the foggy foggy dew.  And, of course, Carl Sandburg’s fog came in on little cat feet.

Looking Across The Bay 6/20/17 – No There There

I don’t know that any of those descriptors fit the fog of Oysterville and the Peninsula.  At least, not for me.  I think of it more as an isolating, muting barrier – a protective cape of invisibility à la Harry Potter that we are provided again and again during the summer season.  Within it, we are isolated from the noise and fuss of the world beyond our neighborhood; we can concentrate on the things that really matter.  Until 11 o’clock.

It was 89° when we arrived in Portland yesterday.  Not a cat foot in sight.

Coming Soon: Music in the Gardens!

June 19th, 2017

2017 Poster – Music in the Gardens

Never mind that the flowers may not yet be in bud.  And never mind that the musicians won’t be tuning up for another month or so.  It is time to mark our calendars for the Water Music Festivals BIG EVENT OF SUMMER – Music in the Gardens 2017.

It’s a one-day-only extravaganza scheduled for Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tickets don’t go on sale until July 10th, so mark that down, too.  And just as a reminder-to-self, jot down which of the locations you want to go to pick up your tickets – the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park, the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse on Sandridge in Long Beach.  It won’t be until you purchase said tickets ($20) that the whereabouts of the gardens and the whoabouts of the musicians will be revealed.

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

What I’ve gleaned, so far, is that there will be eight gardens on the tour this year and they will be located from Oysterville to Chinook!  There will also be (for an extra contribution) a specially decorated trolley to take you from garden to garden if you so desire.  And, as if you may not already be on sensory overload, there will be a raffle of selected works of art (perhaps garden related) on display at one of the venues.

This is the 11th annual Long Beach Peninsula Garden Tour.  If music and gardens and art are not quite enough for you, consider this:  the event is a fundraiser for the Water Music Society whose mission is to bring classical music to the Peninsula.  Each year, part of the money raised by this particular event is earmarked for the Ocean Beach School District Music Fund.  (Last year that amount was $5,000 — hardly small potatoes by anyone’s gardening standards!)

Garden Scene – 2016 Tour

Oh… and one last thing.  Organizer Nancy Allen says that many of the gardens this year have “a water orientation” – to the Columbia or to Willapa Bay or, perhaps, to Loomis Lake.  She is careful not to reveal too much… not yet!  So, mark those calendars.  Quick!

A Saturday in 2/4 Time!

June 18th, 2017

Helen and Cameron

All of a sudden, yesterday became doubly brighter – despite the rain!  Cameron Griffith (soprano) and Helen Dietz (alto), two members of our all-time-favorite quartette, came calling.  They were in Astoria for last night’s performance by the Portland Symphonic Choir at the Liberty Theater.

The night before Cameron had written:  I know this is short notice but Helen and I are singing in Astoria for the music festival. We must be there by 11:00 am for rehearsal and the performance isn’t until 7:30 and we are on the second half. Could we come for a visit and a rest?

All Four

You bet!  We were so pleased they put us in their busy loop!  Usually (but not always) we see Helen and Cameron as two of the four Rose City Mixed Quartet.  The group has been coming to Oysterville since 2007 – usually each year, either for a House Concert or to perform at Vespers or, once, for the funeral of our neighbor Carol Nordquist.  On those occasions, of course, Mark Peterson (bass) plus Dale Weber (tenor) make four!

We first met (actually it was a ‘pick-up’) outside the (of all places!) Liberty Theater back in 2005.  We were among a group huddled outside in the rain waiting for the theater to open when the four of them stepped up and began to sing!  Afterwards, I approached them and asked, “Do you ever do House Concerts?  Would you consider coming to Oysterville?”  And the rest is history…so to speak.

Enroute to Oysterville, 2016

We’ve ‘entertained’ them separately in Oysterville; they have more than reciprocated in Portland.  One or more or all of the four have ferried us to the airport, provided overnight accommodations, serenaded Nyel at the hospital, invited us to birthday celebrations and on and on.  Yesterday’s visit by the two distaff members of the group was an unexpected delight!

The entire group will be here in August on “Regatta Weekend” when they will be the music part of our Oysterville Music Vespers!  But… maybe we’ll see them individually or severally between now and then.  You never know with the RCMQ!

Hugs Across the River and Back

June 17th, 2017

The Liberty Theater, Astoria

“The world is too much with us, late and soon…”  Those familiar words of William Wordsworth’s, written in 1802 have been rattling around in my head these past weeks and months.  Not quite in the sense that Wordsworth wrote them, though.  His sonnet criticizes the world of the First Industrial Revolution for being overly absorbed in materialism and distancing itself from nature – a situation he considered endangering our humanity and spirituality.

Although I say “amen” to that viewpoint, my own take on the world right now is that it is conspiring to overtake me and my honeybunch, personally, in accidents and illnesses and dire, almost insurmountable disorder.  When that happens, one tends to lose sight of the bigger picture – never a happy or healthy happenstance.

Israel Nebeker

So… thank goodness for friends!  Right now, right when we need them, folks seem to be contacting us from every corner inviting, reminding, urging…  It’s the Astoria Music Festival and, though I hate to say it, were it not for our friends, it would have gone right by us!  We would probably have continued wallowing in our own little sea of troubles, oblivious to the joyous possibilities just an hour away.  For this, for everything, we are out of tune said Mr. Wordsworth.  Were it not for our friends, that could have been our story.

As sometimes happens, though, the fates merged yesterday when we received one phone call and two emails – all from disparate people/locations – focusing our attention back to the world of music that has arrived right at our doorstep.  First our friend Paul Brent in Seaside called inviting us to “Beethoven and Blue Jeans featuring Israel Nebeker” at the Liberty Theater next Thursday night!  Thank you and yes!!

Aaron Larget-Caplan

Later, an email from classical guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan, a friend and Oysterville House Concert performer, reminding us of his June 23rd performance at Clatsop College and a gig the following night at the Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.  The latter date was already on our calendar (for a wonder!) so I wrote and assured Aaron that we’d see him then!

And, finally, just before bedtime, a note from soprano Cameron Herbert that she and Helen Dietz (both of the Rose City Mixed Quartet, also House Concert performers) would be performing tonight at the Liberty with the Portland Symphonic Choir and could they come over for a visit between their 11 o’clock rehearsal and their 7:30 performance?  Oh boy and how!  She’ll be calling this morning to fine tune…

“The world is too much with us” has given way to “What a Difference a Day Makes” and I am rejoicing that Wordsworth’s gloomy words have suddenly been replaced by the upbeat voice of Dinah Washington.  And maybe Shakespeare too: “If music be the stuff of love…”  And wasn’t it Jackson Pollock who said “Love is friendship set to music”?

Well… there you have it!

The Fustercluck Continues

June 16th, 2017

“Our” Forester (almost)

We have yet another temporary car – the third in 17 days.  This one is not a rental.  It is a loaner from Bud Clary’s Subaru dealership in Longview.  Through no fault of their own (as far as we can tell), the 2017 Forester that we bought and paid for on June 4th, is not yet ready for delivery.  There has been one phone call after another – mostly instigated by us with the query “What’s going on?  We haven’t heard from you about our car yet.”  We are not happy campers.

We’ve dealt with three different salesmen, have heard several different stories, many apologies and reasons (perhaps excuses is a better word) and, for my part anyway, patience has given way to extreme annoyance and, yes, a bit of impolite raised voicing.  To think that we may be locked into going there for maintenance for the duration of our warrantee gives me the heebie-jeebies.  In fact, I’m beginning to detest the drive to and from Longview…

The Loaner

The trouble seems to be of our own instigation (of course!).  The first time we went to look at the highly recommended Forester, I was disappointed that the model we were interested in did not come with a choice of upholstery fabric or colors.  We had decided on a red car and wanted black leather upholstery – not the pearl gray fabric it comes with.  “No problem,” we were told.  “Order the car with the standard fabric interior and (for a nominal fee) we’ll send it to the leather guys and they’ll change it out for you.”

Really?  Done and done.  Salesman Number Two’s estimated “two or three days” became “four or five” once we had signed all the bottom lines “and they probably don’t work on the weekend so it may be a few more.”  Then the leather guys were inordinately busy, so it would be another few days.  Yesterday was to be the day…

In Longview

The early morning phone call said they had the car “but you’ll never believe it.  They did it in the wrong color – pearl gray. They need to re-order the black. It says black right on the original paperwork.  I wrote it up myself,” said the voice of salesman number one.  “Why does this always happen to me?” he asked in a tone that approached wailing.

You!?” I thought.  “I’m pretty sure you aren’t the victim here.”  But I didn’t say so.  Instead I turned the phone over to Nyel who gracefully accepted their offer of a loaner.  We picked it up yesterday from Salesman Number Three who also offered to pick up said loaner and deliver our car when it is ready.  To Oysterville.  And we have every intention of accepting that offer, as well.  You betcha!

Looking for 2014

June 15th, 2017

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Day-to-day life went on hold in our household when Nyel had his quadriceps ‘transplant’ in the fall of 2014.  Life has never totally returned to normal (whatever that was), partly because Nyel’s recovery took a complete year and partly because full recovery lasted only a few months.

Lots has happened, health-wise, in the interim – heart surgeries and procedures for Nyel, mostly,  Plus that old clock tick-tocking our youth and energy away for both of us.  During these many months, some of the routines/chores of our lives have been relegated to a position of ‘On Permanent Hold’ – like the garden and my office.  Not completely, of course.  We’ve managed to hire the mowing done at times when Nyel couldn’t even manage the rider mower and I haven’t been arrested yet for the non-payment of bills.  Otherwise, though…

Spreader at the Ready

So, somehow, this has become the Summer of Catch Up.  The dining room has been given over to the piles and piles of ‘stuff’ that have accumulated in my office – documents to file or re-file, detritus to sort through, much of it saved for scrapbooks that had never been begun.  Bit by bit, I’m clearing off desk and counter tops and discarding, consolidating, organizing.  That’s what I do in the mornings these days and am determined to continue until I’m caught up.

In the afternoons, it’s the garden.  Three hours at a stretch is my limit when it comes to weeding, clipping, trimming, baiting, and general garden bed maintenance.  Fortunately, I’ve made passes at some of it now and then over the past few summers.  I can’t even imagine what trouble we’d be in if ‘neglect’ had been the operable word all this time.  Even so, I can only think one chore, one patch, at a time.  Otherwise, it would overwhelm me completely.  I would not be able to face those plant people who are trying to overtake the human and chicken habitations on our property .

Rain and the Greening of the Lawn

This week I’ve been using the spreader to fertilize and de-moss the lawn.  Our garden comprises about an acre and pushing that little full-to-the-brim spreader back and forth, across and over, time after time sets my thighs on fire and leaves me gasping, I can tell you.  I consider the process (and all this other garden maintenance stuff) my exercise program.  I still have the croquet court area to go.  It’s a chore Nyel used to do four times a year – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving week.  Yikes!

Today, it’s raining.  Whatever time I have around the edges of a dental appointment in Long Beach and a doctor’s appointment in Vancouver I’ll spend in the dining room on the hunt for 2014 – and every year from then till now.  Plus, I’ll be watching the lawn (except for the croquet court) green right up!  And all the while, resting my poor old aching legs and all the other parts connected with my summer exercise program.  If there’s time, I may even take a nap!

Progress On High (and Across the Road)

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!