Archive for the ‘Charles M. Howell IV’ Category

September 13, 1987 seems so short ago.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

September 13, 1987

Thirty-six years ago today

Nyel and I were married

At Croquet.

Gordon was my Bridesmaid,

Roy was Best Man.

Joel Penoyar did the honors

Much to Willard’s chagrin!

Wedding Picture by Kati Downer

It was a surprise to everyone

Except to my son Charlie

My mother had the vapors

Dad had another drink.

I gave Michelle my bouquet

And she took it to class for sharing,

Proceeds?  To Water Music that year.

It was the best wedding ever!

Wedding Pillow from The Franks


Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Margot Merah and Kathryn Claire

It’s always hard for me to think of Sunday as the first day of the week.  After all, it’s the last day of the weekEND.  Even when I was a child I was confused by that.  And then the new school week (which became a work week when I began teaching) started on Monday — obviously the first day of the week.  Not Sunday.  Monday!

Well, first or last, today was a lovely day.  Vespers with Kathryn Claire and Margot Merah was spectacular!  Dayle Olson said afterwards that she had only heard such lovely harmonies when some sisters sing together, and I agreed.  Cate and Starla Gable are the perfect example of what I think of as “genetic harmony.” Kathryn and Margot must certainly be sisters in another dimension.  Once again I remember what “achingly beautiful” means.  So I think that part of my Sunday put a cap on a wonderful week (except for the plumbing issues) and set me up for a glorious week to come.

Zooming Into Next Week

Then — an early dinner at the Roo with Maggie Stuckey and David and Dayle Olson.  Great food.  Wonderful company.  Terrible ambiance.  SO SO LOUD.  But we perservered and enjoyed one another anyway.  When the immediate company is a delight, it’s easier to tune out the surroundings!  That part of Sunday was a mixed bag — a fine hullaballo ending to last week and a lovely conversation of mutual interests to start this week.

And finally — Marta, Charlie, and I talked and laughed our way out of last week and into this week with our usual Sunday Night Zoom Meeting!  Of Course!  It was Sunday-Go-To-Meeting-Day — almost all day long!




Big Boom, Old Lace, and Evening Fire Circle

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

July 4, 2023

“Oh say can you see…” we all sang, even though some of us could scarcely hear at that point.   The Honorary Oysterville Militia’s Fourth of July Firing Crew had just completed their salute to our nation’s birthday.  For those who had forgotten their earplugs, that BOOM was still resounding even as the smoke cleared!

Developing a Strategic Plan

The ceremony began with a reading of James Swan’s story of the first Fourth of July on Shoalwater Bay in 1853.  “The party broke up at an early hour,” he wrote, “and all declared that, with the exception of the absence of a cannon, they never had a pleasanter Fourth.”  I’m quite sure that the firing of T.H.O.M.’s replica 1842 mountain howitzer made up for that 170-year-old oversight!

Marta and Old Lace

Marta, Charlie, and I then fortified ourselves with a bit of lunch and began a task I’ve been putting off for ten (or maybe twenty!) years.  We took down all of the lace curtains in the living room, washed them, and put them back up — not an easy task, but oh! what a spectacular difference it made!  Three more rooms to go before the best help ever leaves on Saturday!

Charlie and Tucker

Then we went over to Tucker and Carol’s for a spectacular evening of tacos (soft or hard, take your pick), a choice of ice cream sundaes or root beer floats for dessert and then storytelling out by their fire circle.  The battlefield noises from the beach seemed to surround us as it grew dark and, tired though we were, we wondered if we’d get to sleep tonight.  But once back home and inside the house, the sounds were marvelously muted.

Four at the Fire Pit

Marta and Charlie headed for a few games of cribbage and I am heading for bed.  Tomorrow:  more curtains and a celebratory birthday dinner for Marta at the Depot with friends Noel and Patty Thomas!

Party! Party! Party!

Over the river and out of the woods…

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

We had designated today as “Errand Day” — looking for a new stove to replace the dual-fuel one that is so scary to me; searching for comfortable slippers for Charlie — he-has-serious-foot-problems-probably-genetic-don’t-ask; a stop at Verizon with cell phone questions, and, best of all, lunch at the Bridgewater Bistro.

But Marta woke up feeling puny after a dreadful night of vertigo which attacks when least expected.   Charlie and I left her home to recover but we apparently couldn’t get away from the house quickly enough — not before a lens fell out of my glasses adding a stop at the optician’s to our list of errands.  It seriously promised to be “one of THOSE days!”

As it turned out, though, the day was wonderfully successful!  My glasses were fixed before we left the Peninsula.  I found an electric stove on sale at J.&S Appliances — 1/2 price during their Happy Fourth of July Sale.  It will be delivered in August.  Both Charlie and I got satisfactory help with our Verizon cell phone problems, and although Charlie didn’t find the slippers he had hoped for, the sales people at Gimre’s had some good ideas for him to follow up on when he gets home to L.A.

Best of all, we had a fabulous lunch at the Bistro — Charlie’s treat, as it turned out! I am still replete — Caesar salad, steak frites, creme brulé, coffee for me and for Charlie a house salad, salmon with several vegetable sides, and a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream drizzled with both chocolate and caramel sauce and with an extra cup of chocolate fudge sauce on the side.  And coffee.  And a coke.  OMG!  SOOO good!  Having said all that though, we truly missed that special something that Ann and Tony provided for so many years!

Before we came back to our side of the river, we stopped to get a little bubbly to top off the cannon shooting tomorrow!  AND festive holiday cups to drink it from!  Let the Good Times continue!  Especially with my one and only son!  I am so blessed!

May 30th! Always a CMH4 Holiday to me!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023


Did you know that I got to choose the day we met, Charlie?  About the middle of May, the doctor said, “Any day now, I’ll expect your call, Mrs. Howell.”  But you seemed content to stay where you were.  Then, toward the end of the month, I was told that you were getting too big for your allotted space and we would have to “induce” your entrance to the world.   I was a bit upset about that until the Dr. said, “What day would you like for this baby’s birthday?”

“Really?  Wow!” I thought.  That seemed to put a whole new spin on things and since May 30th was a holiday (and I thought it always would be)  I said, “How about next Wednesday?”  And so it was that you were born on Wednesday, May 30, 1956!

However, I do believe I went to the Redwood City Hospital about 8:00 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday the 29th.  I don’t know if the doctor had forewarned me or if I just realized that you were going to continue to take your time, even when urged.  I remember asking if I could speak to the doctor sometime that afternoon and was told that he was on the golf course.  I think I was a bit anxious about that…

Daddy Morgan, Son Charlie, Mommy Sydney

But he arrived in time to introduce us at 8:30 in the morning on May 30th and we had a whole glorious holiday to get to know each other!  You would have 15 years of your birthday always being a holiday and then… well sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.   Once in a while it’s even part of a three-day weekend!

Whenever it is, Charlie my son, it is always the best day of the year for me!  Many, many happy returns!

And speaking of nicknames…

Monday, May 15th, 2023

Charlie, 1974

Perhaps you’ve already read Cate Gable’s “Coast Chronicles” column which will be out in print on Wednesday.  Right now, you can find it online by googling chinook observer coast chronicles the indomitable Pat Akehurst.  It’s a fun article about a wonderful woman who came to the Peninsula in the seventies and who remembers it all — the people, the places, the views and vistas, the jobs she had and the paintings she made.  She is remarkable and, if you have been here for even half that long, you will find yourself nodding about things you lost sight of long ago.

Writing Partners Gordon Bressack and Charles Howell with their first (of many) Emmys

For me, it was Pat’s fond memories of my son Charlie.  “He just shimmered,” she said!  I knew he would do something wonderful with his life!”  Just the words any mom wants to hear — especially when it has turned out to be true!

But… she remembered him as Quad or Quaddie.  That surprised me because, indeed, that was his nickname, but I thought that he became “Charlie” under the rather gimlet eye of Miss Blewitt, his Kindergarten teacher in Castro Valley, California.  By the time Pat met him, he was in high school and I can’t imagine that my mother (who Pat also remembered) was still calling him “Quad.”

He was named Charles Morgan Howell, IV after his dad and since his dad went by “Morgan” and his grandfather Howell was called “Chick,” we somehow connected the IV with the Latin for four and he became “Quad.”  Besides, he was born on May 30th of my Junior year and he and I spent many hours in and around the Stanford Quad (short for Quadrangle) during his first year.  It’s where he took his first steps.

Sydney and Quaddie in the Stanford Quad, 1957

It was such a delight that Pat remembered “Quad.”  I must remember to ask Charlie just how long Granny (and maybe Grandpa) called him by that name and how he felt about it.  (I never did have a nickname except for the butcher at the  corner grocery in Alameda who always called me “Syd, Syd, the Chinese Kid” which I didn’t get at all.)

Come to think of it, my father often called me “Syd” — but somehow I never really thought of that as a nickname.  I wonder if that’s how Charlie felt about Granny calling him “Quad.”

On being a Mom for “quite a many” now!

Sunday, May 14th, 2023

Charlie, 1956

For me, the greatest joy of my “golden years” has been sharing adulthood with my children — with my son Charlie and my bonus daughter Marta both of whom are well into their retirement years!  Who woulda thunk it!

Marta, c. 1959

The basics of young motherhood never go away, of course.   I still worry and fuss (hopefully to myself) when they are ailing, feel like I’ve failed them if they bump into obstacles (literal or figurative), and want to brag and shout to the world about their successes.

Charlie and Marta, 10/11/21

But an added pleasure — and one I couldn’t have imagined fifty or sixty years ago — is seeking their opinions and advice on all sorts of concerns and having righteous discussions about the things that really matter.  “The gift of time” has been good to me in many ways, but it is in my ever-developing friendship with my children that I feel most blessed,

And so, on this Mother’s Day 0f 2023, I have to say “Thank you, Charlie and Marta, for being such great ‘kids’ and for all the years you’ve put up with me “no matter what!”  I love you to the moon and back.

“Murder, Anyone?”

Friday, February 10th, 2023

Proud Mom (that’s me) wants you to know that son Charlie Howell is in a film which can now be seen on Amazon Prime!  In it he plays himself and co-star, Maurice LaMarche plays the late Gordon Bressack who, in real life was Charlie’s writing partner for 30 years.  The film, based on a script by Gordon, was directed by his son James Cullen Bressack.  As one critic said: “… a genre-fluid film-within-a-film is a monstrously meta memorial to the director’s father.

Says Rotten Tomatoes:  Basically, the plot involves two playwrights, George (Gordon) and Charlie, who are tasked with the challenge of creating the next “avant-garde, surrealistic, mind-bending neo-noir thriller”. As they write, the story comes to life in real-time. However, their own emotions and arguments also begin to manifest on film, creating sharp twists and turns that affect the entire movie. Filled with hilarity and chaos, “Murder, Anyone?” is a comedic play-within-a-play-within-a-movie that contemplates the complexities of language, art, theater, film, and more.

Charlie in “Murder, Anyone?”

Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 89% rating and the audience score they post is 95%!  Wowie Zowie!  How proud Gordon would have been of son Jimmy!  And how proud I am of Charlie!!  And how I wish my folks and Nyel were here to clap and cheer with me!

Every Day: An Adventure In Time And Space!

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

Nyel and Sydney, 2018

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since Nyel and I had our last conversation — at least our last communication that was two-sided.  As we all have known from our cradle days, one-sided conversations (which, I guess, are not  technically “conversations”) are not all that uncommon.  In fact, in recent years “self-talk” has become a recognized teaching technique for use with young children. So, I make no apologies  for my occasional comments and questions that go unanswered… at least not out loud.

Charlie in Dickensenian Mode

On the other hand, I find it very hard to deal with modern technology when it comes to communication in the here and now.  Last night, for instance, I had an important — maybe even urgent — message for my son Charlie who lives 1,000+ miles away.  But when I called him, the call went straight to voicemail and I was told I could not leave a message — his mailbox was full.

So, I emailed him to call me.  And some time later, emailed him again saying I was going to bed but to call anytime.  I slept soundly until about 4:30 a.m. — no interruptions by phone.  Checked my emails and found three urgent ones from Charlie.  His phone was not working — it said.  Contact him by a zoom link he had sent.  And, finally, that he’d hold the zoom link open for another fifteen minutes… But that had been hours ago.  So… I emailed a response.  Said I’d check in every 1/2 hour or so now that I’m up.  And decided that whatever I wanted to talk to him about probably was no longer urgent.

It all put me in mind of the days of my childhood when we had a crank phone in the kitchen and all long distance calls went through the switchboard operator  in Ilwaco.  I don’t know what time the “exchange” closed down for the night — maybe 11 p.m. — but I’d be willing to bet that if there was an emergency, there was a way to get through — even if it was a midnight drive in the Model A to roust J.A. Howerton, owner of the Ilwaco Telephone & Telegraph Company.

Maybe we’re regressing.  Maybe I shouldn’t give up my landline after all…

all growed up and…

Thursday, October 14th, 2021


Charlie and Marta, 10/11/21

I loved the movie “Honeysuckle Rose,” mostly because I’m a huge Willie Nelson fan. Besides introducing the song “On the Road Again,” I remember the film for a few words spoken by Amy Irving (as Lily Ramsey), “I’m all growed up and furred over…”  Never mind that Irving’s performance won her a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress.

I still love the line and sometimes think of it in relationship to my own ‘kids.’ Never mind that they are both senior citizens, now collecting social security and eligible for Medicare!  And never mind, either, that Charlie’s hairline is receding (adding greatly to his close resemblance to his Uncle Jim Howell) and that Marta continues to amaze us all with experimental hairstyles and youthful exuberance.  “Furred over” doesn’t half explain what great adults they are!

Lunch at Michelangelo’s

Of particular delight to me, is that they manage to spend more time together nowadays than in any time since their childhood.  It helps that Marta is frequently in Los Angeles and that the two of them have never lost their same sense of the zany, the ridiculous, or the edgy.  And, they are both foodies, at least in terms of the restaurants they like.  Usually, Nyel and I get in on their visits through the selfies they take when out to dinner or lunch.  (And we won’t go there with the “out to lunch” expression.  Doesn’t fit either of them, but maybe both of us.)

The latest gems were taken at one of their favorite restaurants, Michelangelo’s, a few days ago.  Hard to believe that I’m lucky enough to still be around observing their antics — even from afar!