Archive for the ‘Books and Reading’ Category

If she ever asks you, just say “Yes!”

Monday, August 14th, 2023

Dayle Olson, Interviewer Extraordinaire

I am sitting here all puffed up and rosy after hearing myself on the KMUN program “River Writers” being interviewed by Dayle Olson.  She is without a doubt THE best interviewer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.  I say that because our half hour together (which was taped some time ago) was not only fun, but somehow made me sound pretty darned good.  I hope you can catch it somehow.  I think it’s the only time I’ve ever suggested that anyone listen to me!  I give full marks to moderator Dayle Olson who seemed to ask just the right questions in just the right order and had the perfect commentary to carry us along!

“Dear Medora”

We talked about how I began writing, about my “favorite” book, Dear Medora c. 2007, WSU Press), about what I’m working on now and my  plans for the near future.   I was even given an opportunity to read one of my “Saints or Sinners?” stories, now running weekly in the Chinook Observer.

We taped the show about a month ago and, in addition to my writing experiences, Dayle asked me about the upcoming (September 6th!) History Forum that I am helping to organize.  I was so very pleased to have an opportunity to talk about our plans — some of which are still evolving. Basically, it will be a First-Wednesday-of-the-Month (Sept. thru May) gathering of people interested in the history of Pacific County and SW Washington.

Oysterville Schoolhouse

We will devote each gathering to a general topic — “How We Got Here?” in September — have a few speakers to get us started, and then open it up for comments, questions, new information etc.  There will be no charge (except a donation basket toward upkeep of the historic schoolhouse) and we’ll fine-tune as we go.  I do hope some of the many folks who have responded to my blog over the years with history questions or information of their own will attend.

And, I hope you can find my half hour with Dayle Olson on the KMUN River Writer’s program!  Perhaps Dayle will weigh in and tell us all how to find it now that it is archived and available for re-listening.

Maybe it was the change in the weather…

Monday, July 24th, 2023

I can’t say I was really alert and “keeping a weather watch” today — in fact, after waking up at the regular six ayem time and bombing for the 3rd time in 452 wordle games played… I finished my coffee and went back to bed.

I finally surfaced at 2:45 p.m. and discovered it was raining.  Not hard.  But definitely more than misting.  Wow!  All I could think of was thank goodness I don’t have to drag those hoses around today.  (So, of course, my exercise program is shot to smithereens.)

It was a weird day — or, actually, half-day.  I caught up on a few phone calls and some correspondence and kept thinking I should be hungry but couldn’t think which meal it should be — breakast?  lunch?  I finally settled for a yogurt, some cranberry juice and waited (about an hour) for the cocktail hour to roll around.  A Bloody Mary made with V-8 juice (all my needed (veggies) and a half a bag of Doritos for roughage and voilà!  I read my library book ( Book Five of The Outlander series which appears to be never ending) and… the day was almost over.

Still it’s raining softly and I’m enjoying my misty-moisty view of the bay.  Strangely, I feel as though my day has been complete — even without normal hours, regular meals, or getting as much work done as I had planned.  It’s probably an old-age thing but I’ve checked carefully and I don’t seem to be bothered about it.  So… I think I’ll read few more chapters and thank the weather gods for this gently embracing day.

And how could I forget “Watership Down”?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

The shadows across the road were long and interspersed with bright spots of sunshine as I drove home along Sandridge Road from Ilwaco this evening.  I was driving the speed limit (I love cruise control) but, even so, I tried to keep a sharp eye out for deer or other forest friends who might decide to cross the road.

“Watch out for the Hrududus!” I called out — to myself, of course, because, worried though I might be, I didn’t see a single deer person along my way.  “I wonder if it’s only rabbits who call motorized vehicles ‘Hrududus,’ and wished Richard Adams was still around to ask.  Or maybe he mentioned something about that in Watership Down,” I thought.  “I wonder if I still have my old copy.”

And then, of course,  I wondered why I had forgotten to include that most wonderful of all animal stories in my review of children’s books yesterday.  I’ve read it at least twice and I’m thinking it’s time to take another look!  Especially since the rabbits of Surfside have diminished in numbers lately but there have been quite a few sightings here in Oysterville — or so I’m told.

Watership Down, Richard Adams’ first novel, tells the story of a group of rabbits as they make their escape from their warren which is being destroyed and seek a place to establish a new home.  (Surfside to Oysterville?  Maybe, although I haven’t heard anything at all about a warren being discovered. much less one being destroyed.)

In fact, my memory of the book is foggy at best — the leader, a buck with the improbable name of Hazel; violence by humans and other animals, including rabbits; both loyalty and betrayal among friends and the incredible grit and gumption of even the smallest…

Please consider this a P.S. to yesterday’s blog!

On the whole — the kids’ books were best!

Friday, June 2nd, 2023
City Lights Book Store, San Francisco

City Lights Books, San Francisco

I ran across yet another one of those internet sites listing 30 classics every American should read and scrolled through it to see how many — or IF any — I have read.  Two more than half — 17 of the 30 with another half dozen than I’m not actually sure about.  Did I read On The Road by Jack Kerouac or did I just hear him talk about it along with other “beats” at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach so much that I think I read it? Ditto Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but earlier in some High School English Lit class?

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the titles of 100 “Classic Children’s Books” and scored 61.  Perhaps a bit better percentage, but I remember many of the ones I did not read — not as a child, not as a mother, and not as a primary grade teacher.  Everyone Poops I don’t remember at all.  But all-in-all, I think I have read and been influenced by more “children’s books” than by any of the adult must-read classics that are so touted.  Perhaps it’s a case of arrested development?

But where was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey or The Hole Book by Peter Newell (Published in 1908 and 1936 with a rea. hole through covers and pages caused by a gun and was the first anti-gun book I ever remember… but presented in such an interesting and engaging way.  And what about Girl of the Limberlost by naturalist Gene Stratton Porter — on the banned book list back in the 70s as I recall but why??  Or how about The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown — a book to make even the youngest of us think about our priorities!

I was happy to see that The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee were on both the adults’ and children’s lists.  The latter is one I’ve given to graduating high school seniors on occasion, although I think these days it could be read and appreciated by much younger students.

And for children of all ages (and adults, too) who live on this Peninsula — especially at the north end — read aloud Patricia Beatty’s wonderful historical novels about the Kimball Family who lived in Ocean Park in the 1880s.  Begin with The Nickel Plated Beauty and, if you can, describe a wood cook stove or show them a kerosene lamp at the museum or a picture of the long, woolen  underwear kids were sewn into when winter came — you will all have the best appreciation of our local history you can imagine!  Happy reading!

It’s probably not every day that you…

Sunday, May 21st, 2023

…go to the Long Beach Grange, but this coming Wednesday, May 24th,  is a day you can make up for other lost opportunities!  From 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Maggie Stuckey will be talking about (and selling!) her hot-off-the-press book, The Container Victory Garden.  Story-telling contributors to the book will have an opportunity to read their Victory Garden remembrances.  And, folks from the Grange will be selling plants ideal for container growing!

A few things you should know:
There will be a no-cost raffle for special plants from Maggie’s book.
Autographed copies of Maggie’s book will be for sale.  (Cash or personal checks only, please.)
A portion of the book sales will be donated to the Grange.

Do come to learn all you need to know from best-selling author Maggie Stuckey about how to become successful at vegetable container gardening,  And come, too, to honor the intrepid Victory Gardeners of World War II whose stories are also a part of this information-packed book.

The Long Beach Grange #667 is located at 5715 Sandridge Road, Long Beach. There is parking around the back and the building is wheelchair accessible.  See you there on Wednesday!






At the Smithsonian with Maggie – tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

As many of you know, Maggie Stuckey’s latest book. The Container Victory Garden is now out!  And, as some (but possibly not all) of you know, Maggie, herself, is out and about following a very serious surgery that unfortunately coincided with the publication of the book.  Her friends and fans were devastated that all sorts of book-signings and book talks had to be put on hold.  But tomorrow comes  a fabulous peek at the book AND at a recovering Maggie!   YAY! And of all places — at the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington D. C.  AND WE ARE ALL INVITED!   This is what Maggie says:

If you wish to join the live event, registration is necessary. Fortunately, it’s an easy and free process.
Here’s how to register:
1. Visit the “Let’s Talk Gardens” series page here.
2. Scroll to the description of my lecture.
3. Click the “register here.”
4. Follow the instructions provided.
Once you register, you’ll receive a personal email with all the login information calibrated for your time zone.
Please remember, if you’re unable to join the live event, you can still access the lecture at a later date from the Smithsonian Gardens library.

Maggie Stuckey

In addition to Maggie, you are likely to see other people you know!  According to the publicity about the Smithsonian talk:

Maggie Stuckey, bestselling garden author, tells a story on two levels in her new book, The Container Garden Victory Garden.   On one level is a detailed how-to guide to container vegetable gardens, written specifically for beginners and told with clarity and gentle wit,  The second story pays honor to the Victory Gardeners of World Wars I and 2, and the many lessons present-day gardeners can learn from them. Their legacy is highlighted in 20 first-person stories from Americans alive today who remember helping in their families’ Victory Gardens – powerful stories of patriotism, sacrifice, and hope. Maggie’s presentation weaves the two together in a program that is both educational and heartwarming.

Mark Petersen and Nyel Stevens, 2017

I’m especially looking forward to seeing Mark Peterson who kindly agreed to read Nyel’s story since Nyel is no longer around to do so.  Nyel was so pleased that the story of his beloved grandparents’ garden would be included in Maggie’s book and I’m sure he would be equally pleased that Mark agreed to stand in for him.

Imagine!  A date with Maggie at the Smithsonian!  “See you” there!





Doncha hate it when that happens?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

“Oysterville” – An Arcadia Publication

Not to belabor a point… but on Friday night when friends and I were talking about my “Oysterville Talk” at the Surfside Homeowners’ Association, I grabbed a hard cover copy of my Oysterville book to look up a fact I just couldn’t recall — not at Wednesday’s talk and not by Friday night, either.  I went right to the page (29) in the book and looked for the caption that read: In the 1860s, a plate of oysters in San Francisco cost two and a half $20 gold pieces.  Above it was a picture of Tucker’s grandfather in 1940, demonstrating that bit of information by holding a plate of 50 oysters — which worked out to $1.00 per oyster.

But, that’s NOT what the caption said.  It said “…two and a half $25 gold pieces.”  

During the Gold Rush Era — pocket change for miners

“That’s not right,” said Tucker.  ” I never heard of a $25 gold piece.”  I agreed — “no such animal that I know of.”  “And that would make that plate of oysters cost $75!” Fred Carter said.  “That’s ridiculous.”

Ridiculous and wrong.  In my office, I had one of the first copies of my Oysterville book — a paperback copy printed in 2010.  “… two and a half $20 gold pieces.” it said.  And in the back room where I keep my book inventory I looked in a recent (a month old) paperback copy.  “… two and a half $25 gold pieces,” it said.

Nuts making.  I looked in the “retired book files” and found my “Oysterville Proofs” — my copy of the final corrections on the last proof of the book before it went to press.  At that point in the editing process there were still four errors, one of which was the $25 instead of $20.  All were marked (in red), all were subsequently corrected and all were printed correctly in the first run of the book.  BUT WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AFTER THAT?

Louis Wachsmuth and Plate of Native Oysters – 1940

Tomorrow, I will try to get a live voice in the Editorial Department or in the Production Department at Arcadia Publications and see if this mess can be straightened out.  Meanwhile, if you have the book, check out page 29.  One way or another (though I’m not sure which way) you may have a collector’s item.

I doubt if there will be a recall — but that would really be cool.  If they had a lot of class, you could send your erroneous copy back and get a correct copy in return.  But don’t hold your breath…  I’ll be amazed if I can even get a live voice to talk to.  Stay tuned…

And speaking of polar opposites…

Friday, April 7th, 2023

From “The Outlander” TV Series.

I’m in the middle of 18th century Scotland — in the highlands of The Outlander series which I’m reading on my new Kindle to save my eyes from the fine print of the books.  It’s full of historic accuracy, steamy sex, and violent squinch-my-eyes-up bloodshed.  Sometimes I have to stop reading just because it’s too hard on my old and fragile sensibilities.

Ron Howard as Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Tucker to the  rescue (though I doubt that he knows it!)  He just loaned me a book called The Boys by brothers Ron and Clint Howard.  Both were child stars in Hollywood, yet grew up in a normal (actually, more than normal) household, and ended up making show business their  careers.  Though the roles they played as children — Ron as Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Clint as Balok in “Star Trek,” for instance — were often polar opposites, the normalcy of their 1960s-’70s homelife is a side of Hollywood that is not often seen.

Clint Howard as Balok in the “Star Trek” Series.

While the book borders a bit on “corny” (just as “The Outlanders” might rely a smidge on “horny”) it is worth reading to balance out all the horror stories of pushy stage moms and dads who see their kids as the proverbial cash cow.

So, while neither book is exactly well-balanced, I’m enjoying each for its own sake.  And for sure there is little danger of conflating the plots!

What is the opposite of patience?

Sunday, March 12th, 2023

This morning I woke up in leisurely fashion to find that it was a half hour later than my usual five ayem internal alarm says “up-and-at-’em!”  I guess I’m only halfway ready for Daylight Savings Time — a concept that, try as I might, I can’t wrap my mind around.

You’d think that I’d be at one with skipping ahead an hour.  As Nyel (who was my polar opposite in that regard) often said, “Patience is not your middle name, Sydney.”  He was oh so right about that.  And so, wouldn’t you think that skipping ahead a whole hour would be perfect for me and all the others of my ilk?  All the others who are the opposite of patient?

(As an aside — I looked up words that mean the opposite of patient.  The first choice, of course, was “impatient” which annoyed me no end.  It’s like saying the opposite of resolute is irresolute or the opposite of beautiful is unbeautiful.  DUH!)

It seems to me that we non-patient types should be pleased that we are an hour closer to whatever or wherever it is that we want to accomplish.  But… no, that’s not the case for me.  I want all the time I can get, thank you very much.  My impatience is with myself — that I never seem to reach my goals soon enough and, my experience is that more time (or less) doesn’t make all that much difference.

So then, perhaps, I’m back to Albert Einstein and his belief that time and space are interconnected.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m deep into Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and am, again, intrigued by the possibility of time travel.

Not that I think setting our clocks ahead or back is a kind of time travel.  Or is it?  However you slice it, I definitely have an hour less between now and mid-day to get ready to wish Barbara Bate a Happy 80th.  So… I’d better get on it!

So whadjathink?

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Did you see this drawing by the late Larry Weathers on Page B-1 of the Observer this week?

Or maybe you don’t get our weekly paper, the Chinook Observer.  If not, you might as well stop reading here, because this is going to be all about yesterday’s issue.  And me.

One of my grandmother’s is rolling over in her grave at that first paragraph.  My beloved Oysterville Granny who believed most firmly that we should keep our light under that proverbial bushel.  My Bostonian Nana, however, thought that if you didn’t toot your own horn, no one else was going to do it for you.  So for this blog, I’m going with Nana.

In case you don’t get our paper (for shame!) or in case you didn’t really have time to read it (REALLY???) I will tell you that my new series began yesterday with a story about F.C. Davis.  Don’t know who he is… or was?  You are missing out on one of the true characters of our local heritage.

That’s what the series is about.  It’s a collection of short stories cobbled together from bits and pieces found hither and yon — that I hope will become my next book.  Tentative title:  “Saints or Sinners?  Characters of Pacific County.”

Oysterville Cemetery Sketches by Marie Oesting — one of many sources for stories about our local history

And, as I hope you come to understand over the weeks ahead, there’s a reason for these stories.  I have long believed that it’s the memories that we gather and that we tell and re-tell that are important in the great scheme of things.  It’s through our memories and the stories — not just the names and dates and battles fought and won — that we pass on our history, generation after generation.

When I was a child, before cell phones and television and even before decent radio reception, conversation was our main form of evening entertainment.  We might be telling the “news” we learned in the neighborhood or the fate of the two chickens who “flew the  coop.”  Or, the old folks might be reminiscing about their own childhoods — those days long ago when there were no roads here on the Peninsula and almost everyone had some kind of a boat.  What was talked about around our old fireplace was my first inkling of “history” — so much more engaging than the history classes of my school years.

Years later, when Nyel and I owned the bookstore in the ’90s, there seemed to be a big push on for grandparents to write down their memories for posterity.  I can’t say we got rich selling those “Memory Books” but I did like the idea.

Papa and Aunt Dora c. 1896 — Storytellers Extraordinaire!

My fondest hope is that readers will enjoy the Saints or Sinners stories that will appear in the Observer and will even be inspired to tell a few of their own.  Better yet, write them down!  A hundred years hence those stories will be the historic record — the words that will convey who we ordinary, everyday folks are.  God forbid that the glaring headlines in the metro news about mass shootings and spy balloons and war ad nauseum will become our only history of record.  Not my history and not yours.