Posts Tagged ‘Astoria’

Today is Market Day in Astoria! Oh Boy?

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

For the last forty-plus years, my summer Sundays have been pretty much focused on Vespers, and participation in other functions have had to work around those three o’clock church services. Astoria’s Sunday Market is one of the events we think about longingly each year – but, actually, I’m not sure why.  When we have managed to go, we are usually disappointed.  However, we keep trying.  We are ever hopeful.

Since Vespers doesn’t begin until next week, we’ve decided to head for Astoria today and give the Market another go.  In an effort to stave off the chance (yet again) for negative feelings, we’ve tried to analyze what our “problem” is.   (We are quite sure the problem is ours and not inherent in the Market, itself.  Everyone else we know has positive things to say.  It must be just us.)

Perhaps it’s that we’ve gone too early in the past.  Typically, it opens on Mother’s Day in mid-May, but we’ve found limited produce at that time of year and that’s always our main interest in going.  Or perhaps therein lies our problem – other vendors outnumber the produce vendors by far.  In fact, according to their current website:

Campo de Fiori, Rome

Astoria Sunday Market began in 2000 and now covers four city blocks adjacent to east and westbound US Highway 30, with over 200 vendors on a typical Sunday… features up to 200 vendors each week offering locally-made products that have been hand-crafted, grown, created or gathered by the farmers, craftspeople and artisans featured each week.

I think we might be stuck in an old-fashioned concept of what a market should be based on the many street markets we’ve gone to in Europe – and not that recently, either.  Perhaps things have changed there, too.  But it used to be (in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s of the last century) that “markets” featuring fruits, vegetables, other edibles — often on certain days in particular neighborhoods – were different from “flea markets” or where you might find everything from authentic European antiques to fake watches, from classical furniture to the latest sneakers.

I am reminded that my mother always made a distinction between “marketing” and “shopping.”  She never, for instance, went “shopping” at the grocery store.  A trip to Jack’s Country Store to replenish the larder was “going to do a little marketing.”  A shopping trip usually meant clothes-buying of some sort.  I don’t remember my mother and father ever going to a thrift store or a junque shoppe.  Maybe to an antique shop once in a while.

Waterloo Flea Market

So… this morning as we thought about our day’s adventure in Astoria, we tried to adjust our expectations.  We are at the stage in life where we don’t need (or want) a single additional craft or piece of jewelry or art or kitchen gewgaw.  Our motto has been “if we can’t eat it or wear it, we don’t need it” – and the wearing part is pretty iffy, too.  So… if it’s not yet too early in the growing season, we are hoping to come home with some fresh produce and maybe a loaf or two of crusty bread.  We’ll just enjoy looking at the rest.  Unless it keeps raining.  Then, all bets are off.

For the time being…

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

We took our ten-year-old library couch back to Mead Interiors in Astoria a few weeks ago.  Five hundred Friday nights, give or take, and one hundred House Concert potlucks, more or less, had taken their toll.  The couch was trashed with spills and it was time to re-cover it.

Mr. Mead built the couch in 2002.  We picked the style, gave him the measurements, and chose the fabric.  The fabric was a big mistake.  I had the idea that I wanted a gray, wide-wale corduroy.  The closest I could come was a dove gray in a very narrow-wale and, worst of all, it was cotton.  But I loved the look of it, anyway – never mind that it weighed a ton and Nyel had to take the front door off its hinges so that we could wrestle it into the house

The first bad spill on a cushion happened not too many months later and, stupidly, I thought I could remove it with Resolve.  It removed both the stain and the color in nothing flat.  (And, yes, I had ‘tested’ it first and all had seemed well.)  So, of course, I turned the cushion over.  Not long afterwards someone splashed something on the up-to-then pristine side of the very same cushion.  We took it to the cleaners and were told they wouldn’t do cotton.

So, we collected drips and smears for ten years, periodically wondering if we and our guests were messier than most.  Finally, we decided it was time to make a new beginning.  We spent time at Mead’s looking at fabric, brought swatches home, chose and re-chose and finally made our decision – something patterned and not cotton this time.

Once we took the couch away – way harder to deal with now that we are ten years weaker – we filled the empty space with rocking chairs from the east room.  They are the chairs we usually sit in to watch TV.  We replaced those with captain’s chairs which aren’t comfortable but temporarily do-able for our usual hour or hour and a half of daily TV viewing.

I consoled myself with the “new look” in the library with the thought that “it’s only for the time being.”  I don’t do change well and, at first, every time I entered the room I was startled anew.  But… now I’m getting used to it.  In fact, I even like it and am getting queasy about that patterned fabric that will be arriving on our two-ton-couch soon.  At least I hope it’s soon.  As I said, I don’t do change well.


Sunday, September 25th, 2011
Nyel and Bob at ‘Spirit of the River’

     For us, yesterday was all about Astoria and it was all about fun!  About twenty members of the Lower Columbia Preservation Society (LCPS) arrived here for a mid-morning “Back to School” event at the Oysterville School House.  It was the ‘fourth annual’ such get-together here sponsored by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) and the first to feature our historic schoolhouse. 
     Each year we have highlighted some aspect of Oysterville’s history – the waterfront and the cannery one year, the cemetery another, the church another.  This year’s “Back to School” program began with “Sharing” during which each of us told a bit about our interest in preserving history through restoration of historic buildings.  Almost all of the Astoria folks live in interesting old houses, as do many of us, and we take the opportunity each year to celebrate our victories in their maintenance and restoration and to commiserate about our common concerns and difficulties in that endeavor.
     For this year’s gathering we  included a “History Lesson” about schools in Oysterville over the last 150 years, following which several members of ORF told their memories of attending school in the building when it was still a one-room schoolhouse.  (Since 1957 when low student numbers caused the school to close, the building has served as a community center.)
     “Lunch” involved oysters in the shell hot off the grill, steamer clams, barbecued chicken and an amazing array of salads and desserts contributed by LCPS.  Although plans for a game of whiffle golf at “Recess” were factored in, we all skipped that by common consent and just “talked among ourselves” for a few hours.  All in all, a most enjoyable school day!
     We scarcely had time to help with the clean-up and get home for a quick change of clothes before it was time to zip across the bridge for the Spirit of the River — a “fundraiser for Columbia Riverkeeper to protect our river from proposed LNG terminals and pipelines.”  Many of our friends from both sides of the river were involved.
     Noel Thomas was the featured artist, author Bob Pyle was keynote speaker, the folk band Willapa Hills were among the performers as was pianist Jennifer Goodenberger.  And everywhere we looked we saw friends and acquaintances among the ‘worker bees’ and participants.  I was amazed at how ‘right at home’ I felt and how welcoming everyone was.
     It was a stellar evening, topped off by the success of our houseguest, Dick, at the silent auction.  He came home with a Nancy Campiche photograph of the bridge.  He said that it encompassed many happy memories for him going back to the days of his childhood when he crossed the Columbia from Astoria to Megler on the ferry.   We stayed up and talked about those days and these days for way too long…

So little time…

Thursday, September 8th, 2011
Playing Tourist

       The four of us met the Oceania cruise ship at 10:30 yesterday morning and waited.  And waited.  We had arrived at the Port in Astoria in time to see the very first passengers disembark and we were glad about that.  Within the past twenty-four hours we had been told the ship’s arrival would be at noon, at 8:00 a.m. and, finally, at 10:30.  It’s hard to tell with ships.
     We were meeting my high school friend Neil MacPhail and his traveling companion Halina.  They were on the return voyage to San Francisco after twelve days in various British Columbian and Alaskan ports.  With us were Neil’s cousin Malcolm and wife Ardell who spell their name without the ‘a’ in Mac.  (Apparently there is much discussion among Mac/McPhails about which is correct.)
     By 11:15 we were on our way to Fort Clatsop, the only “request” Neil had made when we talked last spring.  It was a whirlwind tour but we did catch one of the movies – new to us and from the Clatsop point of view.  The re-enactors who played Lewis and Clark:  too old, too fat, too clumsy and downright embarrassing.  Oh well.
     On to the Astor Column.  The day was absolute perfection and the view was magical.  I think this was the best part of our tourist day.  We did all our viewing from the parking lot overlooks.  We didn’t go to the top of the column – too old, too fat, too clumsy!
     And then on to T. Paul’s Supper Club for a late lunch.  I think the food was fine.  We were all too busy visiting to really notice.  Malcolm had brought the McPhail Book – the genealogy of the clan from the time they came from the Isle of Mull to Prince Edward Island in the 1806.  In 2006, 500 Mc/MacPhails gathered on PEI to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their ancestors’ arrival in North America.   Now that’s a Family Reunion!!  It was at that gathering that Neil and Malcolm (who are fourth cousins) and families met up for the first time – though I, as a mutual connection, had been carrying “greetings” between them for a good many years.
     Our final tourist delight (NOT!) was riding the trolley.  We “locals” had ridden it numbers of times with a variety of mostly good experiences.  We thought that the information about Astoria’s history and development along the waterfront would be interesting to Neil and Halina.
     Unfortunately, the trolley guide was into trolley restoration, not Astoria history, so the standing-room-only crowd heard all about where the trolley came from, how long the restoration took, how much it weighed, who worked on it etc. etc. etc.  (Like most of the passengers had come off the cruise ship to learn all about trolleys?)  Disappointing to the max.
     We returned to the port in plenty of time for Halina to make a purchase at one of the vendor’s tents.  There were handshakes and hugs all around and then they were on their way through the security gates and lost in the returning crowd.  It was a great day but Ardell and I were in agreement – next time we’d tweak it just a little… 

Two Hundred Years and Counting!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
Fort Vancouver Pipe Band

     I can’t resist grand celebrations, especially when they involve people and places dear to my heart.  When Oysterville celebrated their centennial in 1954, the Espy family was in the thick of the planning and speech-making.  My mother got costumes together for my two Stanford roommates and we participated in all of the festivities with enthusiasm.
     In 1976, Oysterville was again in the thick of things.  My mother had spent the first four years of her retirement arranging and organizing the celebration which was held here for the entire peninsula.  Every service club, every community group from Megler to Leadbetter Point was involved and that time I was actually the Mistress of Ceremonies!
     Most recently, in 2004, Oysterville celebrated their sesquicentennial.  That time Nyel was Master of Ceremonies and also, under his “generalship” The Honorary Oysterville Militia led off the festivities with the firing of their 1841 replica mountain howitzer.  It was a grand celebration!
     Here in Oysterville we have also celebrated the centennial of the church (in 1992) and the centennial of the schoolhouse (in 2007).  And, in a way, we foreshadowed the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial celebration by hosting a House Concert introducing Jeffrey Reynolds and Andrew Emlen as the undaunted explorers, themselves.  (They’ve been playing those roles periodically ever since, their latest performance being at the Liberty Theater in Astoria last Thursday evening.)
     So, with all those centennials – sesqui, bi, and otherwise! – under our belts, it was a no-brainer to head across the river yesterday to clap and cheer for our Astoria neighbors as they got their year of bicentennial celebrations officially underway.  We had a great time, misty-moisty weather notwithstanding.
     We toured the tents at the heritage fair, sampled ethnic foods, watched the smithy working at his anvil, and visited with friends from both sides of the river.  We also waited in vain for the canoe exhibition race featuring the Chinook Nation and other Northwest Native nations, but it didn’t happen.  Cancelled, we were told, as one group conceded to the other.  But we suspected that the nasty wind and resulting chop on the river was the basic reason.
     It was a great day all around.  My favorite part had to be the pipers from Fort Vancouver (which was once Fort George right where Astoria is now).  We watched and listened to them (and wept, of course—why do the pipes always bring tears?) as we ate our lunch at the Rio Café.  I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate!

What to do? What to do?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Mrs. Stevens’ ABCs

     Sometimes the universe seems to send conflicting messages.  Take my “Mrs. Stevens’ ABCs” series, for instance.  They are simple, paperback books that are intended to give basic information in ABC fashion about our area.  The information is factual, often historic, sometimes whimsical or quirky.
     For some years I’ve been considering doing an A is for Astoria book as a part of the series.  I’ve accumulated quite a file of Astoria information but I have dragged my feet because my illustrator of choice, Pat Fagerland, has been busy with other projects.  And then Pat, herself, approached me and said, “Have you ever considered doing A is for Astoria?  There is so much history there; it would be a great subject.”
     Wow!  We began to make plans.  If we hurried, we could have it ready for Astoria’s bi-centennial celebration in 2011.  That discussion was a week ago and then, yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who lives across the river.  She presented me with a book she thought might interest me – A is for Astoria by Karen L. Leedom and illustrated by Sally Bailey. 
     It’s a lovely book – hard cover, full color, geared toward children with enough factual information to appeal to adults, especially the grandma-buyers of the world.  It is much different from my books.  Rather than focusing on the historical aspects of Astoria, it is an ABC presentation of things to do and see there —  C is for clamming, M is for museums, W is for waves… well, you get the idea.
     So, what to do, what to do?  Will it look like I am a copy-cat if I, too, come out with an A is for Astoria?  Is there a market for both?  Can I, in fact, avoid repeating the information in Leedom’s book or does she already ‘cover the waterfront’ so to speak?  Perhaps I should watch for one more “sign” from the universe before making my decision…