Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

David Berger’s Razor Clam Project

Friday, January 18th, 2019

David Berger

Day before yesterday, David Berger testified in Olympia on behalf of HB 1061 designating the Pacific razor clam the State clam. Whether you love eating or digging razor clams or simply making money from the tens of thousands of visitors to the beach who do, you might want to consider signing David’s petition.  Also, it would help if you would send it on to everyone you know:

In case you don’t remember my blog of 6/1/18 in which I reviewed his book –, David is the author of Razor Clams, Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest. The book is fabulous and fun and the next best thing to getting out on the beach with your clam shovel or gun and chasing the fast-digging bivalve yourself.

In addition, it lays the foundation for David’s idea to make the razor clam the State Clam of Washington. As he points out:  Washington has a state tree, a state amphibian, a state vegetable, and a state endemic mammal.  It does not have a state clam…  (western hemlock, Pacific chorus frog, Walla Walla sweet onion, and Olympic marmot, respectively, in case you are wondering.)

I’m urging folks to sign the petition for a number of reasons.  For one thing, David is a friend and I think his ideas are sound.  But if that isn’t quite enough to get your support, here is his bio as found on the Humanities Washington website about his project:  David Berger has worked as a visual arts critic for The Seattle Times, executive director of a botanical garden, and as a communication officer for Dunhuang, a World Heritage Site on the Silk Road in China. Berger is also a Metcalf Fellow for Marine and Environmental Reporting. David Berger started razor clamming when he moved to Washington after graduating from college

So… sign the petition!  And, you don’t have to be a Washington State citizen to sign it  — which seems only fair, since that’s not a requirement for digging or eating them either.  So spread the word!  Let’s give our razor clams a little dignity.  It’s about time!  We’ve been walking all over them for years.

Scott + Holly = Musical Magic in Oysterville

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Holly Reeves and Scott Cossu in Oysterville

Scott Cossu is known as “the grandfather of New Age Music.”  Holly Reeves is the principal cellist with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra.  Playing together they are pure magic, or so was the collective opinion of their Oysterville House Concert audience last evening.

Their program was eclectic to say the least and, though I am no music expert – not by a long shot – I think it transcended the “New Age” category by centuries.  Literally.  As Scott said at the conclusion of the concert, “When else have you heard pieces from the 13th  century, Jelly Roll Morton, and the Beatles all in the same program?”  Plus, of course, many of Scott’s own compositions and arrangements.

Scott was one of the first artists with Windham Hill records, widely recognized as ‘the’ New Age record label from its inception in 1976, though their artists often came from classical, jazz, folk, or bluegrass backgrounds.  Scott was no exception.  He was trained classically but, through a series of fortuitous circumstances, widened his horizons dramatically while he was still in college in the early 1970s.

First and foremost, he credits Hamza el Din, a teacher at the University of Ohio who offered a course in the music of Africa.  Hamza recommended that Scott should travel “out west” to study Ethnomusicology (World Music) at the University of Washington.  Upon hearing that Scott had studied with Hamza, he was accepted immediately and his out of state tuition was waived. Scott spent the next two years learning the music of Thailand, Sudan, Korea, China, Romania and Ecuador. Scott remained friends with Hamza until Hamza’s death, in 2006.  And… the rest is history, as they say.

This was the third House Concert (or the fourth?) Scott has done here but it was the first time Holly Reeves had accompanied him.  What a perfect combination!  Holly, also, classically trained has toured extensively, performing in Canada, Costa Rica, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Japan, and most recently, Italy. She is also a long-time member of the Tacoma based chamber orchestra, Northwest Sinfonietta and maintains a busy private studio.

Scott delights in saying they met last May lifting weights at the gym.  We (and thirty of our friends and neighbors) are delighted that they did!

Can we ever get back on track?

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

Presumably, our Founding Fathers thought through every contingency when they designed our Constitution.  That balance-of-power thing?  And the checks-and-balances thing?  And all the oversight contingencies?  What the hell happened?

We seem to have become a nation of slogans.  “Make American Great Again.”  “Me Too.”  “Lock Her Up.”  “No More Thoughts. No More Prayers.” “Stronger Together.”  And on and on and on.

Meanwhile, our friends and neighbors are not being paid, our food is not being inspected, our prisons are not being funded, and the nominal leader of our country confuses his own fictions with fact  and is incapable of telling the truth.

When I was a child, our shining moral example was the story of George Washington and the cherry tree and “I cannot tell a lie.” It seems a sad commentary on our nation’s “progress” that the story has now segued into a scowling man and a wall and “I cannot tell the truth.”

I really don’t care about where we went wrong.  I’m much more concerned about how we can get back on track.  Fast.  Before it is too late and there are no trees left at all, cherry or otherwise.

And, just for a minute…

Saturday, January 12th, 2019


Last night Tucker brought the BEST thing for his Friday evening “show and tell.”  He called it a MOBO because that is what is painted on it, but none of us (including Tucker) had a clue what those letters might mean.  And, honestly, I didn’t care because, just for a minute I was four years old and wanted to climb on that little MOBO in worst way!

It was a little horse, suitable for riding by a small child (Me!  Let it be me!) and, where the stirrups might be were footrests that you could push and the horse would move forward!  And turn!  (Giddy up MOBO!)  Tucker said that when he was a boy the Waddles Restaurant in Portland had several of these little horses that kids could ride around in a room set aside for the purpose.  Although this particular MOBO hadn’t come from there – it was something Tucker found in an antique shop years later – it was just like the ones he remembered from his childhood in the ’50s.

Waddles Restaurant, Portland

Wow!  I actually felt a tinge of jealousy – that I had been too old in the ’50s, that I had never heard of the restaurant, and that I had never had the opportunity to ride a MOBO.  Judging from some of the old pictures of me, however, I had lots of opportunities to ride other things.

There I am in a cool car, I think on a merry-go-round at the New York World’s Fair in 1939!  And there is another of me, taken that same year at Christmas in Oysterville, sitting on my first tricycle.  That was a big Christmas for me – a toy stove, a “cry baby” doll as big as I was, and my very first set of wheels.  Bright red, as I recall.  But… no MOBO!

Sydney at 1939 World’s Fair

A few years later, in the summer of 1942, I went to Russian River with Mrs. Nagle who was our housekeeper/baby-sitter during the war while my mom worked at the shipyards.  (She was a pipe fitter’s helper at General Engineering in Alameda.)  I remember the day that my mom and dad came up to take me home and, as a special treat, I got to ride a pony that then posed with me for a picture.

Sydney at Russian River, 1942

In the years that followed, there were lots of ponies and horses in my life – never belonging to me, but available to ride at Camp Willapa or, if I was lucky, in Oysterville when a friend would let me borrow theirs.  But there was never a MOBO.  Lucky Tucker!  And who’da ever thunk a dignified (ahem!) old lady such as myself would have such a nostalgic longing to be four years old again so she could ride a toy pony.  Wow!

With All the Anticipation of Childhood!

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Oysterville Moms and Kids, Summer 1938

When our friends in Portland wrote and asked if they could come for a sleepover later this month, I felt the same excitement I remember from seventy or seventy-five years ago – that little tummy tingle of butterflies and the warm glow of looking forward to a special event.  But even though it was a dimly familiar feeling, I wonder how many friends actually spent the night at my house when I was a kid.  And, vice-versa.

I do remember staying overnight with my friends Anne (Nixon) and Nancy (Goodell) Cannon in Portland – usually on the way to or from my home in California.  My mom and their mom (Gyla) had been friends since girlhood and, on those occasions, we kids were pretty much left to our own devices while they visited and giggled like schoolgirls, themselves.

Nancy Cannon Goodell (1936-2015)

They lived on N.E. Davis Street in a wonderful house with all sorts of nooks and crannies.  I seem to remember that we could get up into the attic from one room, crawl around up there ‘exploring’ and then re-enter the main house through an entirely different ‘doorway.’  I don’t actually recall anything about the sleeping arrangements – not even if Anne and Nancy each had their own rooms.  The ‘sleep’ part of ‘sleepover’ certainly wasn’t important.

Plus, I don’t remember when the term ‘sleepover’ came into vogue.  Certainly not way back then.  In fact, I can only remember staying at someone else’s house overnight out of necessity.  Ditto in the next generation when Charlie and Marta were little.  I’m not sure about Marta as she lived with her mom (except for weekends and vacations) so she could have stayed overnight with her school friends now and then.  But I think that Charlie’s only overnight excursions were when he stayed with my folks who lived fairly close by in Oakland.

It wasn’t until I began teaching here on the Peninsula in the ’70s that I remember anything much about sleepovers.  Certainly, that’s when I was first made aware of the term.  Every once in a while, a child (usually a girl) would share or write in her journal that she was going to spend the night at a friend’s.  I also remember that about fifty percent of the time – especially if it was a first grader – it didn’t go well and parents would be called to come pick up their homesick child before the night really got under way.

Oysterville Kids (r to l Nancy, Judy, Anne, Me

That never ceased to amaze me, mostly because I don’t remember ever experiencing homesickness.  I do remember, clearly, someone asking me the first summer I spent at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa if I missed my mom and dad. “Oh no”, I responded confidently.  “I don’t worry about them. They can take care of themselves.”  My mother, who was apprised of my remark, never let me forget it!  I think she actually felt a bit insulted that I wasn’t pining for home, even just a little.

So… here I am, a venerable octogenarian, looking forward to our friends – four of them! – coming for a sleepover at the end of the month!  And they are coming “just because.”  Which I am sure is the best possible reason for a true sleepover!

Standing On His Own Two Feet!

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

First Stop!

I feel like calling out to the chickens, “Watch out, girls!  Here he comes!”  But it will probably be a while.  There are some logistics to work out – where and when for the locking knee brace, the walker, the cane, the wheelchair – all of which will play a part in Nyel’s ability to resume his Farmer duties.  But the very bottom line as of yesterday – he can now but weight on his “bad” leg.  Yay!

According to his surgeon, his broken leg has healed well.  That does not mean, of course, that he is in any less danger of falling than he has been since his second quadriceps surgery failed several years back.  “Falling” has been his middle name.  He is SO lucky that, in the dozens of times his knee has failed him and he has gone done without warning, this was the first real damage he has done to himself.  A mega wake-up call. So, now the re-learning work begins.

Of course, yesterday’s news was received with great relief – in more ways that one.  For the three months of “no weight-bearing,” my dignified husband has been dependent on what used to be known as “the truckdriver’s friend” – a pee bottle or a male urinal.  So, first stop yesterday was the men’s room at Rebound where he could actually ‘stand and deliver’ so to speak.

Six on the Floor

Today, he is using his knee-locking brace (almost happily!) and a walker to begin rebuilding strength in both legs.  Meanwhile, the wheelchair will probably be his main aid to mobility.  And, when he is confident that he can move around the house without problems, he’s looking forward to that knee scooter to get him down to the girls in nothing flat.

As for me – I’m clapping and cheering and trying not to hover! Woot!  Woot!

Looking Forward To That Light Fantastic!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Sydney and Nyel, 2004

YESTERDAY:  Nyel’s heart team at the UW Medical Center gave him a great six months’ report.  Things have not looked this good for him since 2014!

TODAY: To Portland to get the report of his orthopedic team.  Hoping his leg has healed sufficiently that it can begin bearing his weight again.  First time since October 3rd!

TOMORROW:  Looking forward to planning a better future – maybe not tripping that light fantastic right away, but at least having another pair of boots on the ground.

I can’t wait to tell those chickens:  “Here comes Farmer Nyel!”

Joined at the Hip

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Miki and Me

Last night I went to a meeting at Ocean Park School with my friend Miki.  I felt like I had stepped back in time about 30 years.  Sort of.  Of course, the school has been remodeled since then, the educational staff is for the most part unknown to me, and the community members who attended probably were students, themselves, 30 years ago.

But, aside from those small details, there was a lot of déjà vu to the evening.  Miki and I attended dozens of such meetings back in the early ’90s.  The reasons might have been a little bit different, but they were still billed as a desire by the school district to get community input.  Last night it was “reconfiguration” that was under consideration.  In the early 1990s it was a multi-graded first, second, third grade school that was being considered – also a reconfiguration of sorts.

That time, it began when, on a routine school visitation, School Board President Admiral Jack Williams came into my first-second-third grade classroom (the only one at Ocean Park in those days) and was amazed to find that he couldn’t tell who were the ‘youngers’ and who were the ‘elders’.  He couldn’t distinguish their ages at all – not by size, not by the work they were doing, not by their behavior.  He asked if he could come again.  And again.  Admiral Jack was smitten.

Multigrade Classroom – 1992

“Why can’t all the primary classrooms be like this?” he asked.  We talked.  Then Miki and I talked.  Then we spoke to the superintendent, only to find that Admiral Jack had put in a word or two way ahead of us.  The game was on!  We met with teachers, first, to see if there were enough like-minded folks – teachers who understood that every child learns differently and at his or her own rate of speed and that mixing up ages in the classroom works in all sorts of magical ways.

Meetings and meetings and meetings later, the multi-graded school was created.  It lasted about as long as the turnover to the next superintendent – a stick-up-your-butt traditionalist who wanted every six-year-old “where s/he belonged – in first grade.  Period.”  I (probably viewed as a trouble-maker) was transferred to another school.  Miki, ever the diplomat, stayed on at Ocean Park – and still she is there with a “blended 1-2” class, doing what she believes in as she readies herself for retirement… maybe.

Meeting at Ocean Park School, Jan. 7, 2019

And now… the reconfiguration being considered is more along the lines of the whole district — perhaps K-2 at Long Beach, 3-4 at Ocean Park, 5-7 at Hilltop and 8-12 at the High School.  However, most of the people sitting near us were in favor of keeping ‘neighborhood schools’ much as they are now with K-5 at both Ocean Park and Long Beach.  The sticking point seems to be that they’d be one classroom short at Ocean Park School. And a portable would cost money.  And arranging for one class to be “off-campus” (perhaps at the library) would be a safety concern.  And never mind that the numbers will change with time…

Am I glad I went?  You bet!  It was the best visit Miki and I’d had for years!

House of Chairs

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Wicker Chair

When the things that surround you have ‘always’ been there, you don’t really give them much thought.  Maybe that’s not the case with the artwork, but certainly it’s true of the furniture.  Especially if ‘always’ is really and truly always – like since you were born.  That’s the way it has been for me in this house.

And then, one day, a friend said to me: “I  think of your place as a house of chairs. You have so many and they all seem to have a story.”  I thought about that and had to concede that she had a point.  We truly do have a ‘chair collection’ here.

Probably the oldest ones are the wicker chairs – part of the furniture that my grandmother brought to the house in 1902.  The family moved here from California (where wicker was totally appropriate) and, since their stay was only to be for a few years until Grandpa Espy died, why not bring the most easily transported of their household goods?   They brought a living room “suite” most of which is in the North Bedroom upstairs and whether or not wicker is suitable in the northwest, I always think of those graceful pieces as a breath of fresh air.

The Billy Chair

Then there is the ‘Billy Chair’ in the library, identifiable by the medallions on its ears which was a trademark, according to my mom, of the Billy Brothers.  I always thought “whoever they were” when she said their name but have learned recently that they were furniture makers in Ilwaco – probably in the late nineteenth century.  (So maybe the wicker chairs aren’t the oldest in the house, after all.)

Another piece from about the same period is the lovely oak chair with the caned seat – “The Parson’s Chair” we call it.  It was given to mom by Dorothy Yeatman in the early 1970s.  Dorothy had lived in here when she was a little girl in the days that the house was still the parsonage for the Baptist Church across the street.  Her father, Reverend Yeatman, served as pastor from 1898 to 1901, and Dorothy remembered him always sitting in that particular chair when he wrote his sermons.  She said the chair belonged here in the house where it was most used.

Reverend Yeatman’s Chair

The two captain’s chairs I associate with my grandfather.  In the ’40s and ’50s when I remember him, he often sat in one of them at his desk – reading the paper or working on his correspondence, a cup of lukewarm coffee close at hand.  We have two of them and used to use them for extra seating on Friday nights but Tucker is leery about their stability… He’s probably right.  A couple of the stretchers are missing or no longer fit properly… another “project” on Nyel’s long list.

And those are just a few, so I guess my friend was right in her characterization of the house.  I think I’ll just sit back in one of these chairs for a while and imagine the people they have supported and the conversations they’ve witnessed over the years – a nice rainy day activity, don’t you think?

The Age of Slippage

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

1969 – Sydney and Paul (before slippage)

More and more frequently there are pauses in conversations with friends that are punctuated by their irritated comment, “Right now the name escapes me…”

“Welcome to my world!” say I.  In our house we call it the “age of slippage.”  We stick our tongues out at each other for corroboration that there is something right on the tip of it.  We blurt things out hours later when it’s no longer appropriate but… you have to capture the thought when you can.  And, we often say things like, “I told you about that just this morning.”  But, did we?  You couldn’t prove it by me say I.

More frequently than we’d like to remember (even if we could) we head from one end of the house to the other but by the time we get there we can’t remember the why of it.  Sometimes, the easiest path to total recall is to go back to the beginning.  Fine for me.  Harder for Nyel as long as he’s in this wheelchair.

Nyel and Sydney, Summer 2018 (Mid- Slippage?)

And there’s that whole piece of “losing” things.  Mostly, it’s a simple case of misplacing or of not putting something back where it “belongs.”  Usually, we find whatever it is…  eventually.  However, we never have found Nyel’s car keys.  It’s been almost a year now since they disappeared.  But as son Charlie says, “It’s not losing the keys that matters.  It’s when you find them and you don’t know what they’re for that you have a problem.”  I hope they’ll turn up before we enter that stage in our slippage.

On the plus side, though, my memory usually works pretty well in past tense. I remember the names of my childhood friends (Jackie, Joyce, and Robert)  and the name I gave my bike (Faster) and the name of my dog (Zipper) and the name of our 150-year-old desert tortoise (Nebuchadnezzar.)  Closer to recent times – like in Charlie’s childhood – I sometimes need a little memory jog.

“Happy 96th!” Sydney and Mom, 2007 (Learning from the Queen of Slippage!)

Like with all those cats we had. I remembered the one who gave birth to four kittens without a pause as she walked down the hallway.  That was Sadie.  But Charlie had to remind me that the quintessential mother cat, who nursed 13 kittens one spring without comment, was named Zorba.  And right around the same time, we had a cat named Hecate.

And speaking of slippage – I thought I started out with a point to this blog.  It sort of escapes me now…