Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

A Saturday in 2/4 Time!

Sunday, 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

Saturday, 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

Friday, 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

Thursday, 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)

Wednesday, 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!

Talent duly noted! Applicant accepted!

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Willapa Bay AiR, the artist in residency program located at the south end of Douglas Drive in Oysterville, is now in its fourth year.  There is a ‘waiting line’ for residencies – only about ten percent of applicants are invited to one of the coveted available spots.  Six lucky ‘emerging and established artists’ each month, March through September!  Applications for 2018 are now being considered.

Visual artists, writers, scholars, singer/songwriters, and musical composers apply from all over the world.   Of special note in February this year was the early arrival of writer Aida Moradi Ahani who managed to get here from Tehran during the initial confusion of Trump’s travel ban.  But a few days ago, there appeared, in person, an ‘applicant’ who may have surpassed even the determined Aida in his forthright bid for inclusion at Willapa Bay AiR!

He walked right up to the wall of glass doors at the main lodge and, though he spoke not a word, demonstrated his artistic merit unlike any other applicant has done before – or is likely to do again.  He came alone, having lost his mate somewhere along the way, according to local gossip.  Although he (and she) have been seen around the Nahcotta area for some time now, no one seems quite clear about where they came from or even their exact arrival date.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that he is “in” as far as the residency program goes.  Though AiR founder Cyndy Hayward’s dogs seemed a little too interested in him (and were quickly spirited away), current residents offered immediate friendship (and apples!) hoping he would find the residency to his liking.

Fortunately, in case he decides to apply elsewhere instead, Christine Herbert, a visual artist from Brooklyn, managed to get three marvelous pictures demonstrating 1) his confident stride onto the patio, 2) his approach to the main lodge, and 3) his full-blown display of talent – and never mind that it was documentation from behind.  Hopefully, he’ll become so comfortable in his surroundings that he will reveal his glorious talents from all angles many times during his residency!

No, No, Nannette!

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

If you have been following the saga of our totaled Prius, you may remember that the police officer at the site of the accident was Chief Workman of the Warrenton Police Department.  As I ‘reported’ in my May 31st blog, he was “especially” lovely to us – a really nice man.  I did not comment on his stenographic competencies, however.

Or perhaps, it was a “clerical error” back at the office that resulted in the accident report (which finally arrived yesterday) stating that Nyel L. Stevens is married to Nannette Lou Stevens, born February 1, 1944.  Come again???  All I can say is, if you’re out there, Nannette – you are one lucky gal!  We are really curious as to how Chief Workman (or his clerical staff) got this confused, he having copied, as he did, directly from my drivers’ license.  Granted, there are two similarities – our last names (which, in my case anyway, is actually Nyel’s last name) and the month of our birthdays (February).

Otherwise… not so much.  Nannette (with three n’s) Lou doesn’t bear much resemblance to Sydney Medora – in fact not even a whispery similarity.  Her 1st of February is an entire month away (usually) from my February 28th and 1944 makes her eight years younger than I.  I’m not at all sure how such a glitch can happen.  Some sort of weird computer error?

Nyel doesn’t seem too concerned about it.  Nor am I, really.  It’s just that Chief Workman did emphasize that our part of the paperwork needed to be submitted to the State of Oregon within 72 hours of the accident – or as soon thereafter as possible – or we risked Oregon notifying our non-compliance to Washington State which  could then result in Nyel’s driver’s license being rescinded.  A little simple math tells me it’s been ten days already – more like 240 hours than the requisite 72 – and straightening out this “little glitch” could take a while if the stories about identity theft and proving who you are and all of that stuff come into play.  Just sayin’…

I did check out “Nannette Lou Stevens” on Facebook and found a very attractive “Nannette Stevens” in Bend, Oregon.  She appears to already have a handsome husband and appears much younger than that 1944 date would indicate, so I’m not bothering to share this information with her.  No, no, Nannette!

The Queen of Flowers – Fit for a King!

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

Peonies from Stephanie

Our Friday night gathering had already begun by the time Nyel and I arrived yesterday, thanks to our neighbors Tucker and Carol.  They had graciously agreed to be surrogate hosts when, suddenly, yet another test was scheduled for Nyel. In Portland. Yesterday afternoon.

We knew we’d get home a little late, plus we knew we’d be tired, having travelled from Seattle to Portland to home…  It was definitely one of those everything-happens-at-once times.  (We seem to be having a lot of those lately.)

It was lovely to arrive to a houseful of friends – and with several more coming through the gate just behind us.  It felt warm and welcoming and cheerful.  “I hope that’s how our usual Friday night guests feel when they come through the door,” was my fleeting thought.

Red Peonies c. 1850 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

It was a few minutes before I had occasion to go to the kitchen for something and there, on the counter, was a bouquet of white peonies, still wrapped in their florist’s paper!  Stephanie!  I knew they were from her.  She often arrives at this house with flowers.  The part I also knew (but she didn’t) is that peonies are Nyel’s all-time, top of the list, favorite flowers.

Nyel’s grandmother grew peonies.  She and his grandpa lived just a few blocks away, in Montpelier, Idaho, and Nyel has fond memories of those peonies – memories so vividly described to me that this morning I asked him for “that picture of his grandmother in her peony garden.”  I swear I’ve seen it, but Nyel says that, as far as he knows, there never has been such a picture!

Peony, by Chinese artist Wang Qian, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Our own attempts at growing peonies have been dismal.  Teresa at the Planter Box says it’s because our winters are too mild (which, Nyel says, was certainly not true of Idaho) and she suggested that we take ice outside every morning for a few weeks in winter and place it around the plants.   (Like that’s going to happen…)  So, we are content with the one or two blossoms that come to fruition each spring.

And here was a whole bouquet!  Until I buried my nose in them, I had no idea of their delicately sweet fragrance.  No wonder the Chinese call the peony “Queen of Flowers!”  They are said to remind people of wealth, fortune, and prosperity.  I don’t know about that, but peonies definitely make me think of Nyel… and of his grandmother who I never met.

Say what you mean – Mean what you say

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

It often comes as a surprise to me that someone I know ‘only in passing’ reads my blog now and then.  Take the technician at my eye doctor’s across the river.  Susan.  When I was there the other day, we talked about my latest trauma – our totaled Prius.  “You must have a story that goes with that,” she said.  “You are a great story-teller; I read what you write.”

On reflection, I do have a ‘sort of story’ about that car crash.  Before the dust had settled and the fluids had stopped leaking, an EMT showed up at the driver’s window.  “Are you hurt?” he asked Nyel.  “No, but I think my wife might be,” was the answer.

The uniformed young man (maybe in his 20s – I can’t really tell anymore) came around to my side, asked for me to open the door and then knelt to talk to me.  He asked me some questions about what happened and how I was doing.  My answers were “I’m not sure, I had dozed off” and “I’m sore in the seatbelt area.”

“May I see your chest?” he asked.  And, being a literalist as I am, I pulled up my sweater and exposed by lacy 34-D bra in all its glory.  I wish you could have seen his face.  Not horror exactly – but on the dismayed side of surprise.  “No, no, no,” he said quickly.  “I just meant that I would…”  I think he was going for “…like to feel…” but thought better of it.

I pulled down my sweater, he gently pushed around on what I would call “the upper sternum (bony) area” of my (now) well-covered front, as he repeatedly asked, “Does this hurt?”  “Just a little,” I kept saying, all the time thinking “so now you know what your grandmother’s underwear might look like…”  Wisely, though, I said nothing.  Only asked how he got to the accident scene so fast.  “I just got off duty,” he said, “and I was on my way home.  I thought I might be able to help.”

 I think we were still chatting when all the emergency vehicles and personnel began to arrive – the Warrenton Chief of Police, the fire department, the ambulance, the EMTs.  Lots of young men being solicitous and helpful.  I didn’t flash any of them, though.  Probably they didn’t ask exactly the right question.

Susan loved my ‘story.’  So, I offer it to my readers for their reading pleasure and with profuse apologies to the wonderfully sincere and helpful young EMT who stopped, on his own time, to help.  I hope he chalked up my behavior to an old lady’s addled and literal response to his solicitous inquiry.

How great is that?

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Oil Refinery – Marcus Hook, PA – Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Well, there you have it!  We are right up there with Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations in the world who are not members of the Paris Climate Accord.  Part of the Prez’s plan to “Make America Great Again.”  As my former Principal at Ocean Park School used to say to kids who were having difficulty explaining something: “Help me to understand.”

Let’s see – we rank 14th world-wide in education, 33rd in internet download speeds, 24th in literacy, 3rd in human development, 54th in education expenditures, and 72nd and 85th, respectively in girls and boys going to grade school, and 26th in employment growth rate.  Wow! It would seem that we have a long way to go.  Of course, that depends on your definition of “great” I guess.  And, if we are joining Nicaragua and Syria in the matter of climate greatness, there is surely room to wonder.

The World View

The above statistics are from a website called “Ranking America” where there are many more fun facts to be found.  Check it out at  The author, Mark Rice, is Chair of American Studies at Fisher College in Rochester, New York.   About his information, he says:

Ranking America is a site for finding information about how the U.S. compares to other countries in a variety of categories. I make every effort to report the data accurately, and I welcome anyone pointing out whatever inadvertent mistakes I may make… Ranking America is also an exercise in absurdism, and I hope that some users of the site appreciate that side of it.

The Naked Truth?

I am inclined to think that the real “exercise in absurdism” is this weird experiment in making ourselves “great” that we seem to be committed to for the next almost-four years.  For instance, I’m not at all clear about the “again” part of Trump’s campaign slogan.  What is his base line?   When, exactly, did he think we were “great?”  How does our alignment with Nicaragua and Syria help get us back to that time?  And who else will we emulate in this rush to greatness?  Truly mind-boggling.