At High Noon on Memorial Day!

May 25th, 2022

Considering the Cannon

For the first time since the pandemic sheltering began, The Honorary Oysterville Militia (THOM) will gather at 11:30 a.m. on Memorial Day (May 30th) for their annual salute to veterans and others who have been called to serve “in the great beyond.”  The cannon will be fired at high noon and the public is cordially invited to attend.

Oysterville has a long history of celebrations marked by cannon fire.  According to my esteemed late Uncle Willard Espy’s account in Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village, in the 1870s R.H. Espy would don special black broadcloth pants, a maroon and black brocaded vest, a light linen duster, a stiff shirt with boiled bosom, a stiff collar, a bow tie, and a beaver hat and would order the discharge the cannon to begin festivities such as the Oysterville Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta.

THOM Cannon 

There are accounts that Oysterville’s original cannon was blown to bits by a rowdy group of midnight revelers, so for several generations we had to make do with only the stories about it.  Hardly satisfactory thought Nyel.  We happened to be in Gettysburg a few years before Oysterville was to observe the sesquicentennial year of its founding, and all those cannons on display prompted Nyel to make inquiries.  He learned that for a mere ten or twelve thousand dollars Oysterville, too, could once again have a cannon.

We pondered…  and on the long road trip back home we conceived the idea of forming The Honorary Oysterville Militia.  We would sell commissions to our friends and relatives and buy the cannon with the proceeds.  General Nyel was the first to invest.  The plan was successful beyond our wildest expectations and in early 2003 a replica full-sized 1841 mountain howitzer was ordered from Cannon Ltd. in Coolville, Ohio. It arrived in the spring of 2004, just in time for Oysterville’s 150th celebration.  We’ve been celebrating ever since!

P.S.  There are still commissions available.  Apply to General Nyel in Oysterville.

I’m sure I should have known that!

May 23rd, 2022

Our camillia in greener, glossier days.

I really hadn’t noticed until our “Garden Girls” called it to my attention:  the leaves on our camellia bushes — especially the one on the south side of the house — have turned from glossy green to a lemony yellow.  “Have they ever done that before?” asked Glenna,  “Not that I remember.”  Which is becoming a standard answer to most questions these days (as far as I can remember!)

So they looked it up.  “Too much moisture.”  Well… there you have it!  The story of our year, so far.  Apparently, the condition is not fatal to camellias — they just have to weather through it, so to speak.  It all reminded me of a letter my Aunt Medora wrote to one of her “chums” back in  September of 1913 when she was fourteen years old.  I know I’ve blogged about it before, but Medora’s words are always worth another look:

Medora in the Garden c. 1913

We are having a regular winter storm.  Do you know what a storm is?  Not an Oysterville one.  You see, we get from both the ocean and the bay.  The wind has already knocked the remainder of our cherry tree down; the cupboard of dishes in Sue’s playhouse toppled over and consequently she will have to abandon her house till next summer; a great piece of the trimmings of our house blew off; apples and pears litter the ground.  It is a real storm.  The bay is covered with white caps; the water has covered our lower meadow and you could almost go down the lane leading from our house to the bay in a dinghy.  To cap it all, it has rained night and day since Monday evening in regular torrents.  It is not an unusual storm.  The natives merely remark, “Sort of wet today.”

Never mind that it hasn’t been stormy.  And never mind that it’s not autumn.  It’s the “Sort of wet today” that has rattled around in my head for most of 2022.  Medora would have found that some things in her beloved Oysterville had not changed much over the last hundred years!

I wonder if Bud and Doug are having a chat…

May 21st, 2022

Espy Family Archive

I was delighted to see the very attractive layout for the late Doug Allen’s story, “SHOALWATER’S HEART; Oysterville in its glory days” in Wednesday’s paper.  I loved seeing the familiar photographs of the Swan Restaurant and the old stagecoach that ran along the Peninsula’s only highway back then — the hard sands of the ocean beach.

Robert Hamilton Espy, Co-founder of Oysterville

As I read, I made mental notes of the questions I’d have liked to ask Doug, if only I could.  I doubt that I asked him even twenty years ago when his article was first published.  He was a difficult man to get a hold of and I found that it worked best to write out my questions for him and keep the list handy.  Eventually, he would call me with questions of his own.  How I wish that could still happen!

One part of his story made me think of Bud Goulter who died just a week ago today, and I almost wondered if Bud and I would have yet another argument about the founding of Oysterville.  He always insisted that Oysterville was here long before Espy and Clark came along — never mind the written statements to the contrary by both of those men who lived and died many years before Bud was born.  I missed seeing Bud at the Post Office and tried to imagine if he would give Historian Allen his due.  Probably not.  In fact, I imagine he’s up in the Great Beyond carrying on the same argument with Doug Allen and probably with Espy and Clark as well!

Isaac Alonzo Clark, Co-founder of Oysterville

One thing about getting older — there are more and more people and places to miss, more and more arguments to lose or win, and more and more occasions to realize that in the great scheme of things, most of it probably doesn’t matter.  Except to teachers and historians and to the people who actually DO things.

FYI — I live in the OTHER Oysterville!

May 20th, 2022

Photo by Marta LaRue

I was dismayed to learn from one of my facebook friends that this message has been on the  Music in the Gardens Tour FB page for the last few days:

Special News Flash!  A select few tickets for the Oysterville Garden Tour VIP Experience have opened up!  The very special private tour of the gardens — along with a catered and wonderful dinner in the gardens — is an incredible experience!  Proceeds go towards Music Programs in the schools and also supporting the Oysterville School.  Tickets are $1.000 each and this elegant evening is not to be missed.  As you can imagine — it will be a VIP Experience worthy of the Rock Star that you are — while supporting these community nonprofits.  If you want to join an elite group of garden lovers (and foodies) join us Friday, May 20, in Oysterville.  Please send a private message and we will answer questions and arrange for you to join us!  #vipexperience #gardentour #dinner #finedining #taxdeductible

Just Beyond The Garden Gate

OMG!  I fully expect to go up to the cemetery next week to place flowers on the graves of my ancestors and find that the ground is rockin’ and rollin’ as they toss and turn in their graves.  If there is anything that this town was NOT founded on it was elitism.  Everyone was welcome  in 1854– as opposed to the exclusivity of the Bruce Boys in Bruceport just across the bay.  RH Espy and Alonzo Clark were of one mind on that point — there would be no exclusivity or elitism here.  The Oysterville desribed on the Water Music FB page is certainly not MY Oysterville or one my forebears would recognize!

South Garden in Summer 2013

And in more recent times, or at least for the last 80 years (which is about all of my 86 that I can clearly remember) Oysterville has continued to be a welcoming place.  Friendliness, sincerity, and a willingness to help are the defining charactertistics that Oysterville residents have considered important.  How much money you have, how Very Important you are in your own eyes, or whether or not you have Rock Star characterists don’t really hold much cachet.  Foodies?   Elite group of garden lovers?  I’m not sure the people who lived and loved, worked and played here and cherished Oysterville were all that interested in those aspects of life.  I am happy that this is not MY Oysterville.  Shame on you, if it is yours!



Oysterville: In joy, in sorrow, a safe harbor.

May 19th, 2022

Bud Goulter

It’s been a week since my last entry in the Oysterville Daybook — a week of love and laughter, of deep sorrow and reminiscence, of outreach and introspection.  Our house has been filled with friends, new and old, and the village has hosted at least three weddings — at the church, at the schoolhouse, and at one of the neighbors’.

We’ve also lost our oldest, most colorful “character” — Bud Goulter.  He was 95 and, the last time I saw him (just a few weeks back at the post office) he asked after “Niles.” commented on the “newcomers” in town, and gave me a hug and a buss on the cheek!  Our meetings weren’t always so cordial through the years but, with the news of his passing, I’m glad about that last encounter.  A kind of closure to a lifetime of knowing one another’s families and foibles and skeletons in the closets.  I wondered, briefly, if I’m now Oysterville’s oldest citizen…  but I think it must be Charlotte by a few months.

Les and Ann Driscoll, Ava’s Parents

It wasn’t too many days later that our neighbor Sue told us that Ava, her neice, was gravely ill.  “Too young!” we thought.  We saw on Dan Driscoll’s facebook page that she had died; we’re not sure of the day.  Our hearts ache for all her family but most especially for her parents, Ann and Les.  It never seems that the order of things should allow a child to pre-decease the parents.  Words seems so inadequate… especially for lifelong neighbors in this tiny village.

Mark, Dale, Cameron, Helen, Sydney, Nyel

And in amongst the sorrow here… our friends Cameron, Dale, Helen, and Mark — the Rose City Mixed Quartet — arrived last Saturday.  They brought food for that evening, all-day Sunday, and Monday’s breakfast PLUS their sleeping bags (placed so carefully on the beds upstairs, I can’t tell that they were used at all) and their towels etc.  We laughed and visited and caught up with life-since-Covid and, to top it off, they did a House Concert for a small group here on Sunday evening.  What a gift they are in our lives!  I could hardly stand to say goodbye.

Barbara Canney – From Her FB Site

But… Barb to the rescue!  Barbara Canney, my friend since 1978 when my Uncle Willard “hired” her to organize our family documents and put me “in charge” as her mentor.  Our roles have reversed and yo-yoed over the years even though she lives in Massachussetts and we see each other less frequently than we would like.  She’s here for ten days and then her husband John is joining her for a mini-vacation.   And why is she here (you might wonder)?  Nyel hired her to help get my computer files (especially photos) in order.  It was my 85th birthday present but Covid interfered and so… here we are!  We laugh, we cry, we talk about old times and speculate about the future.  We might even get something done on the files!

OMG what a week!  I left out so much — and probably forgot a whole bunch, too.  Day by day blogging is oh so much easier and I hope I can get back on track.  Sometimes it’s hard when you live in Oysterville.

Have you noticed? It’s Cow Season!

May 12th, 2022

Black Angus Cattle

In the Merry, Merry Month of May we talk about the flowers that spring forth and the sunshiny weather (sometimes) and about a whole host of other things but I seldom see talk of cows!  Yes!  Cows!

Have you noticed that they are “out” — right along with the cherry blossoms and the goldenrod and all the other signs of Spring.  They are in the Shier Meadow on Sandridge Road.  They are in Goulter’s Field along the 101 cutoff.  And they are probably lots of other places, as well.


Cows!  Mostly Black Angus (I think.)  In any case, they are black, they are cows, and they remind me of my grandfather’s dairy farm, although, truth to tell, his farm was no more by the time I came along.  But it was the way of life when my mother and her siblings were growing up and sometimes I feel like I was there right along with them.

This is how my uncle Edwin Espy (1908- 1993) described Papa’s ranch:
In terms of the property involved, the ranch consisted or several interrelated elements that were scattered over about six hundred acres in an unconventional configuration. There were other properties of a different kind, chiefly marshland and a wooded hillside to the south that overlooked the bay. The land as a whole was principally of three types:
• The bay-front property, mostly meadow with some smaller wooded areas
• The “town” property, for nearby grazing, for two of the barns and for a garden
• The marsh, an extensive area of swamp and other low ground, heavily wooded or otherwise overgrown with shrubbery but providing succulent grazing for the cattle.
The buildings:
• Barns: Number 1 (the Big Barn) a half mile away; Number 2, the larger of two in town, and Number 3, right across the street from our dwelling
• An abandoned store building, used for a milk-separator operated by hand (the cream was sent to Astoria, most of the skimmed milk was for the calves and pigs; the family had whole milk and a minimum of cream)
• The Ranch House across from Barn Number 1 where, periodically Papa housed a ranch foreman
• The home itself, the repository of farm clothing, some of the tools and the milk pails, et cetera, which were washed in the kitchen
The animals;
• About fifty cattle, chiefly milk cows, but some beef stock cattle
• Sixteen horses at the maximum
• Pigs
• Chickens
• Dogs
• (Periodically a goat for the children)

Espy Ranch Foreman’s House

Apparently, the ranch was doing well enough by the time Papa entered the political arena in 1910 that he felt comfortable in signing on as a “silent partner” in the Johnson and Henry Store in Nahcotta. When the business failed a few years later and the principal owners walked away from their indebtedness, Papa felt a moral obligation to pay off the creditors. Even though it took him the next twenty years, he made good on every debt. No one in the family, save Mama, knew the cause or the extent of their privation.

I don’t know what sorts of cows Papa had — probably not Angus.  Maybe Holstein.  No matter.  A cow is a cow is a cow.  And they seem to come out in May!

Full of surprises is our Slutvana!

May 11th, 2022

Nyel with Slutvana’s (mis-shapen) egg

I read somewhere that common character traits of Russians (the people, that is) are, broadly speaking, generosity, resilience. and strength.  I cannot vouch, however, for those traits in Russian chickens — certainly not in Russian Orloffs and most assuredly not in our Slutvana.  Nor can I assert with any assuranee that Slutvana is a typical Russian Orloff or, for that matter, that Russian Orloffs (being chickens) bear any character resemblance to the Russian people, themselves.

Having said that, I would like to announce that Slutvana surprised the household and, indeed, the entire neighborhood, the other day by laying an egg!  YES!  We could’ve sworn that Slutvana’s egg-laying days were long over.  We haven’t seen one of her distinctive light-brown-oblongish-and-invariably-mishapen-eggs for months.  But last Thursday there one was — plunk in the middle of the north nestbox.  And since Slutvana now has the coop and all chicken accoutrements to herself, there can be no doubt as to the responsible party.

Slutvana Enjoys Her Reward!

Nyel sent her a grand reward — half an ear of corn.  Never mind that we had purchased four ears at Fred Meyer’s and had determined upon trying the first two that they were of ancient vintage — probably kept in cold storage since last summer’s harvest.  We set aside the other two for Slutvana and she laid that egg just in time for the corn to be given as a “thank-you.”

I doubt that she put two and two together, so to speak.  I’m not sure how good chickens are at understanding cause and effect in the first place.  And, even if they do, it’s probably a stretch to connect a half ear of fresh corn with a warm, freshly laid egg.  I did explain it to her, but she was already in corn-on-the-cob-heaven and could have cared less about how that came to be.

I know that because now it’s Wednesday and she has not repeated her performance.  Nor have we produced the other half of that ear of corn.  Maybe today…  One thing we do know: the age of the corn did not matter to Slutvana.  That’s definitely one thing you can tell about chickens (and corn) — it’s all good!


RoonieBobs, My GirlieGirl Bonus Daughter!

May 10th, 2022

It’s a great thing to have a Bonus Daughter.  A child that came into my life when she was five and I was twenty-three.  A child who spent weekends and school vacations and other times with us.  A child who called my parents “Granny and Grandpa” and who bonded with her bonus brother Charlie from the get-go — no matter that he was two years younger.

But, best of all — and most mysterious to me — Marta was a “girlie girl.”  She loved pretty clothes and glitzy jewelry and cutting edge styles from the time I met her.  No wonder she and Granny bonded — they were soulmates, though two generations apart.  Me?  Not so much.  I’ve always been the “practical” one — no ruffles, no lace, no ribbons or froo-frau.  Tailored, not glamorous.  Ivory soap, not designer cleansers in fancy-schmancy bottles.

And, yesterday here came her 2022 Mother’s Day gift to me.  OMG!  A bright red & white Ralph Lauren scarf!  A bar of lavendar soap with shea butter (which is what, exactly?)  A pair of “Famous Artist Series HOT SOX” with the Mona Lisa on them!  And a fabulous heart-ish shaped box of chocolates that Nyel and I got into right away.  Delish!

Each gift was wrapped and beribboned in gay profusion and they were all accompanied with one of Marta’s glitzy handmade signature cards!  I arranged them all around Charlie’s beautiful and fragrant Mother’s Day flowers and felt totally spoiled, indeed!

And though it has never before occurred to me before that either of our tastes have changed, I intend to bedeck and festoon myself with scarf and artsy socks, smelling deliciously of lavender and shea butter — whatever the heck THAT is!  Thanks, Roons!  I think you’ve won me over completely!


On the whole…

May 9th, 2022

I’d rather be a door than a doormat.
After all, who wants to be stepped on and left to display everyone else’s dirt?

A door, now…
A door can be opened to fresh ideas, sunny smiles, and even to a skinned knee that needs attention.
Or it can be firmly closed against those who would drag you down or cause you pain or suck the spirit from you.  Yes, a door is meant to be closed against the meany people.

Doors and doormats, though, don’t get to choose how to behave.  It’s preordained.
We, on the other hand, have free will.  Aristotle said so, though learned men have argued about that ever since.  Still… how we act in certain situations merits pondering.

  Doncha think so?

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

May 8th, 2022

Happy Mother’s Day from Charlie

You’d think that after all these years I wouldn’t be surprised anymore.  But I always am.  It’s not the flowers or the Mother’s Day greetings that catch me unawares exactly.  It’s the fact that they always arrive on the Friday beforehand, Charlie’s theory being that I’ll have the weekend to enjoy them (and, lately) to share their beauty at our Friday Night Gatheringss.

This year was no exception.  As a matter of fact, though, they were actually exceptional in that they were OH SO fragrant!  I’m not sure what Nansen’s secret is.  You hardly ever get the benefit of a flowery scent with posies from the florist these days.  So, a double thankyou, my beloved Charlie!!!

USPO Package Notice

It wasn’t until the next day, just about noontime, that I checked my email and saw this note from Bonus Daughter Marta: Just want to let you know that there should be a package from me waiting for you at the post office.  I hope you are able to pick it up before this upcoming Mother’s Day!   

And, don’t you know that our Oysterville Post Office is only open half a day (no matter what day of the week it is, except Sunday) so I missed it entirely.  I only hope there was nothing perishible in it…  Marta is known for her exotic food choices from Trader Joe’s so my fingers are crossed!  And I’ll be there first thing tomorrow, you betcha!

My Mother, Dale Espy Little – a few years before we made one another’s acquaintence! (1932?)

All-in-all, I think this Mother’s Day has been stretched beyond recognition!  I wish I could stretch it a little farther than Oysterville so it could include my own dear mother…  Actually, I’m pretty sure it does reach her if loving thoughts count!