Archive for the ‘Charles M. Howell IV’ Category

Lively, Non-stop, Ecclectic!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

There are two areas in this house that I have considered the most important ever since I was a very little girl.  First is the library where we gather in front of the fireplace, especially in the late afternoons, to visit and catch up with our days — past and present.  And second is the dining room where we do the same thing except with the addition of food.

And in the spirit of “some things don’t change,” that’s where we are spending much of our time this week with my Schreiber Family cousins — Willard’s grandson, Alex and three of his five children.  Maddie is almost-fourteen-and-going-on-post doctoral-abilities that leave Nyel and me tongue-tied.  Jack is 20, is in the army and involved in cyber operations.  Sam is 25, is a software engineer working at Tessla.  Alex is an Associate Professor of Biology at St. Lawrence University. in Canton, New York.  Here, as well, is my son Charlie, retired cartoon script-writer and actor.

Discussions are lively, non-stop, and cover every imaginable subject.  Sometimes everyone is involved in one gigantic exchange.  Or there might be two or three separate conversations taking place — sometimes on the same or, more often, on unrelated subjects.  No topics seem to be off-limits and all of us seem to have something to say about whatever is under discussion.   Which reminds me that I’ve always been told that the Espys come in two varieties — the loquacious and the taciturn.  I’m here to tell you, there’s not a quiet one among this group.  Except Nyel.  Who, after all, is technically not an Espy…

 

Flowers Galore! It’s Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

Happy! Happy! from Marta

Wow!  For a moment there I thought Marta had finally done it!  Cloned herself with me as the beneficiary!

On my doorstep were two (count ’em, two!) identical FTD Florist Boxes.  Each contained a precious — also identical — message from my darling step-daughter, but the actual flowers were different.  One bouquet is mostly in reds and purples and one in yellows and peaches.  Both absolutely lovely!

They were a little droopy on arrival but came with perking-up powder and by this morning looked quite revived.  I decided to combine them into one huge, colorful bouquet which I’ve placed  on the dining table where all the blooms are calling out to anyone listening, “Look at us!  Look at us!”

Happy Mother’s Day From Charlie

They have serious competition, though from the living room table.  There, in all its spring glory, sits a wonderful bouquet from son Charlie.  It arrived in the early afternoon, hand-delivered from Artistic Bouquets & More in Seaview — a business I was happy to find was considered “essential” for Mother’s Day!

I am replete with the fragrance and beauty and love!  Charlie and Marta — you are the best!  (Rooney — I do hope that if the two bouquets were a mistake on the florist’s part that they, not you, bear the extra burden.)

Eighty-nine Years and Four Degrees

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

Freida Callo Ornament

Freida Callo (Frida Kahlo) has joined us for Christmas this year.  Charlie brought her up from L.A. — her likeness, anyway — and placed her carefully on the tree.  She looks out on us in all her “glory” which, depending upon your point of view, is gorgeous or rather weird.

I almost feel as if I knew her.  She’s one of those “I almost met her once” people — although I didn’t.  When I was married (1962-1971) to photographer Bill LaRue, we spent quite a bit of time with Ansel Adams (who had been a good friend of Edward Weston’s) and a little time (like two afternoons/evenings) with Brett Weston, Edward’s son.  Although Edward had died a few years previously (1958), he was often a subject of discussion and we almost felt that we had known him, too.  We attended every Edward Weston exhibit, poured over his Daybooks and enjoyed “knowing” the people he knew,  Freida Callo and Diego Riviera, among them.

Edward Weston

In his December 14, 1930 Daybook entry, Edward Weston wrote:  I met Diego! I stood behind a stone block, stepped out as he lumbered downstairs into Ralph [Stackpole]’s courtyard on Jessop Place, – and he took me clear off my feet in an embrace. I photographed Diego again, his new wife – Frieda – too: she is in sharp contrast to Lupe, petite, – a little doll alongside Diego, but a doll in size only, for she is strong and quite beautiful, shows very little of her father’s German blood. Dressed in native costume even to huaraches, she causes much excitement on the streets of San Francisco. People stop in their tracks to look in wonder. We ate at a little Italian restaurant [Coppa’s] where many of the artists gather, recalled old days in Mexico, with promises of meeting soon again in Carmel… 

Frida by Weston, 1930

And now Freida (her likeness, anyway) is in Oysterville — eighty-nine years and four degrees of separation as I count it!

 

Charlie’s here! Let the games begin!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Charlie and the Cribbage Cards

For about as many years as any of us can count, Marta and Charlie play cribbage every evening when they are together here in Oysterville.  They don’t keep a running score.  But… they remember!  The last time they intersected here on Territory Road was 2017 (we think) and they both still remember that Charlie won every single game!

He had scarcely arrived yesterday afternoon when Marta announced that she had brought her cribbage board (never mind that we have a perfectly good one here in the house) and, “besides that I’ve been practicing!”  Each of them had also brought a brand new deck of cards — Charlie’s purchased en route at Anderson’s Split Pea Soup restaurant on I-5.

After dinner and with a little bit of cribbage banter, they got down to it.  Charlie just kept smiling.  Marta was laughing but full of challenge.  “Cut throat cribbage!” she announced!  “Is there such a thing?” I asked.  She laughed some more.  Charlie…smiled.

The Game Is On!

Nyel and I trundled off to bed soon thereafter and so it wasn’t until morning that I could ask who won.  Apparently they just played one game.  “Well, it was close,” Marta said.  There was some kind of demurring noise from Charlie.  “Well, I was closing the gap at the end…” she said, not a bit defensively.   More laughter….

The games will continue tonight, no doubt.  It’s what they do.

Happy Birthday to Charlie!

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Charlie in Italy at Two

Sixty-three years ago today Charles Morgan Howell IV made his cautious entrance onto the world stage and has been entertaining all of us who know him ever since!  He arrived at eight in the morning which, by my reckoning, should have made him a day person; I am still mystified at his life-long night-owl proclivities.  Even as an infant, Charlie could often be heard babbling happily to himself in the middle of the night — often when I, too, was burning the midnight oil (and perhaps babbling, as well) at the kitchen table in our Belmont, CA home.

Charlie in Berkeley at Three

I had a (fairly) good excuse; I was probably writing a paper or, perhaps, writing for “the” paper which happened to be the Stanford Daily.  Charlie’s first year among us was my senior year at Stanford University where I was a Journalism major but, more importantly, the only mom (as far as I know) during the final year of the Class of ’57.  I don’t believe Charlie had an excuse for his wakefulness, at all.  He’s just more active in the wee hours.

Perhaps it’s because he began as the lone “night person” in a household of daytime folks that Charlie has always seemed totally content to enjoy his own company.  He often pursued solitary pastimes as a kid — taught himself cartooning and animation techniques by spending hours and hours drawing flip-books when he was in third and fourth grades; wrote a neighborhood newspaper for a time when he was a bit older, setting the type by hand with a printing kit that he had been given.  (Or did he buy it, himself?)  It’s not that he’s ever been a “loner” — most of his work and recreational pursuits have been collegial — it’s just that he is content with solitary pursuits, as well.

Charlie at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 2012

So, when I called him about 7:00 o’clock this morning to wish him Happy Birthday, I was a bit surprised that I woke him up with my croaky “Happy Birthday to you” song.  “I have a doctor’s appointment later today,” he explained in a sleepy voice.  Heck of a way to spend a birthday, say I.  Hope he does something fun as well!  Happy Birthday, Charlie!  Have a great day!  And night!

 

 

The show must… and all that!

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Charlie Takes Center Stage, 11/18/2018

Yesterday my 62-year-old (ahem) son was in a recital in L.A. but, since Nyel and I are pretty much house-bound until he can put weight on his leg again (five more weeks), we could only wish him luck from afar.  Not the usual “break a leg” though.  We are avoiding that particular phrase at all costs.

Not only does Nyel have a badly broken left leg which is keeping him wheelchair-bound, but Charlie also has a bad break – three, actually – that occurred last week in a fall.  It’s his left clavicle and his surgery is set for this Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Dem Bones

But meanwhile…  Charlie has been taking voice lessons for several years and, in typical music lesson fashion, his teacher arranged for her students to give a recital for family and friends.  Not the usual recital, mind you.  It’s L.A. after all.  She had each of her students showcase a song from a Broadway musical and arranged the numbers so that there was a sort of a story, (at least that is my understanding.)  Then she and the students pooled their money, rented a small theater for a (rehearsal) day and a night and… voilà!  Last night was the big production.

Charlie, in true showmanship fashion, did his part on cue.  I know that because his step-sister Marta managed to leave smoke-filled Northern California for a few days in smoke-filled Southern California and she and her friend Jim were there!  She not only called with a full report, but sent a picture.  Charlie looks great – but I couldn’t help but wonder about his tie.  It’s one of those dreaded clip-on affairs I imagine, since he is under strict orders not to move his left arm.  To say nothing of the fact that it hurts like hell if he does.

Marta and Jim

I wish we coulda… but am so glad Marta was there to represent the family. Way to go Charlie!  You are a trooper in the total “show must go on” tradition.  We are proud of you!

Marta and Charlie and Charlie’s Tchotchkes

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Charlie and Marta, September 2018

For the four decades (1940s-1970s) that I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California and Southern California were worlds apart.  Different climates, different lifestyles, and a “fur piece” to travel.  So, we seldom did, even though we had friends and relatives throughout SoCal as people began to call it.

When son Charlie made Cal Arts his choice for college and made animation script writing his choice of careers, we both knew that it was a sort of parting of the ways.  He has lived in the LA area ever since – more than forty years now.  I, perhaps, compounded things by moving up to the Northwest — though we didn’t visit back and forth much even before that.  Four hundred miles was four hundred miles, after all.

Charlie’s Tchotchkes

Marta, my daughter-but-not-by-birth, on the other hand, has remained in the Bay Area – in Oakland, Berkeley, and mostly Marin.  Our non-California friends sometimes remark, “How nice.  Do they see a lot of each other?”  Those in the know don’t need to ask. They understand that Charlie and Marta see each other seldom – mostly when both of them manage to get up here to Oysterville for Christmas.

So, last week when Marta was visiting a “long lost” friend in LA, they took the time to have lunch with Charlie.  Marta hadn’t been at Charlie’s house for years (maybe twenty) and she called later to report.  “I’d forgotten how big it is!” she said.  “And I’d forgotten that he keeps his Emmys in that hidden-away cabinet with all his other tchotchkes!”  And we both shook our heads and laughed.  Not that I could see her.  We weren’t skyping.  But I knew.

Charlie’s Tchotchkes Some More

She sent me a couple of pictures.  When did Charlie turn into his Uncle Jim?  How is it that Marta still looks like she did a gazillion years back?  And why am I thrilled that they are still as goofy as they were when they were little kids?  I do wish there weren’t so many states between us.  But… I console myself that Christmas is coming, with or without the tchotchkes.

Old Photographs and Easter Memories

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Easter Sunday, April 17, 1938

Easter is the one holiday I can’t get very worked up about.  In my memory it’s a blur of egg hunts and getting dressed up and having a big dinner with the relatives.  And posing for photographs.  Always the obligatory photographs!  I guess, though, if that hadn’t been part of the Easter ritual, I wouldn’t have any memories of Easters past at all.  Certainly, I don’t remember going to Sunday School or church on Easter, although I think sometimes we did.

Easter Sunday, 1940, Portland OR

The first picture I have was taken in 1938.  Eighty years ago tomorrow!  I’m clutching a stuffed bunny and, although the photograph is in black and white, I have the vague sense that my “outfit” (hat and matching coat) was powder blue.  My mom, also in what appears to be a matching hat and coat ensemble, leans slightly to the right, reaching a protective hand toward my shoulder.  We were still living in Boston then and our surroundings are unfamiliar to me – perhaps near my paternal grandparents’ home at 12 Pierpont Road in West Roxbury.

Easter 1943

Two years later we were in Portland and one of the obligatory photographs includes my grandmother – the only photo I’m aware of with the three of us (Mom, Granny and me) together.  I treasure it for that!  Plus, I love my little bonnet and… was I actually wearing gloves?  One of the few times for that particular article of clothing.  For some reason, I dislike gloves and mittens…

                     Uncle Will. Photographer

Then, there’s a whole series of photos taken by my Great Uncle Will.  They were taken in the forties and fifties at every family gathering at his and Aunt Minette’s house in San Francisco.  Uncle Will was my Oysterville grandfather’s next youngest brother.  He was Water Commissioner (I think) in San Francisco and they had a lovely home in St. Francis Woods in San Francisco.  They were the designated Family Patriarch and Matriarch during those decades and relatives in the area gathered at their place on holidays – especially anyone who happened to be at Treasure Island or Alameda Naval Air Station during the war.

‘Quad’ All Dressed Up, Easter 1960

 

 

I have one Easter picture from when Charlie was little – taken around 1960, I think.  He’s all dressed up in his first sports coat and tie – visual evidence that we were still giving a sartorial nod to Easter.  And there must have been an egg hunt, too.  Maybe we even went to church… Lacking photographic evidence… it’s hard to say.  Maybe Charlie remembers.

Convergence and Compromise

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Charlie and Marta, Christmas 2016

The ‘kids’ are here!  Let the holiday fun begin!  Never mind that the kids are in their sixties and (ahem) a bit set in their ways.  It’s a little late in the game to expect the house rules to apply automatically when they cross the threshold.  Yet, I’m always a bit unprepared for the difference in our lifestyles – particularly when it comes to sleeping.

The crux of the matter is that Marta and Charlie are night people; Nyel and I are day people.  We are all a bit long-in-the-tooth to be changing.  Take yesterday, for instance.  Marta had flown in to PDX and we fetched her in time for our Friday Night Gathering.  Charlie was ‘expected’ in time for a late supper.  He arrived sometime close to 2:00 a.m.! YIKES! (We ate without him.)

“Tongue in Cheek” – Cover Band, 1980s

Nyel crashed first – about nine.  Me next at tennish.  Marta, who seldom goes to bed before 1:00 waited up, cribbage board and dice for Farkle at the ready.  It’s a ‘family’ tradition for the two of them to play games and ‘catch up’ well into Night One.  I did wake up about midnight-thirty and waited until Charlie rolled in before going back to bed.  The ‘kids’ were still going strong at four and, needless to say, I don’t expect them to surface today until noon.

“How did this disconnect with ‘normal’ sleep patterns occur?” I ask myself each time we converge.  I don’t think Marta became a night owl until she was a young adult.  She had her own band for a number of years (no need to say more, really) and during the lean times supported herself as a waitress and bartender.  In recent years, she’s had daytime jobs, though music is always just under the surface.  I think she manages with less sleep than I find necessary.  Most people do…

Charlie, on the other hand has always been a nighttime kinda guy.  I had THE worst time getting him up in time for school, even when he was in Kindergarten.  Fortunately, his career as a free-lance (mostly) writer allows him to follow an upside-down time schedule.  And, now that he’s acting in live theater… ditto.  His lifestyle and sleep patterns are a good fit — usually.  He and I have talked about our different sleeping styles and circadian rhythms and the whys and wherefores and have never reached any satisfactory conclusion as to what causes us to be so different.  Why am I getting up each day about the time he goes to sleep?

Charlie at Hanna Barbera, 1979

And then… voila!  This morning as I began reading Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey, I found the answer.  Maybe.  Bed was a charming place at any time, but if one was so sleepy that neither riotous bell-ringing nor the wails of a colleague made any impression, then getting up must be torture.  Welsh, too, probably…. Celts hated getting up…

Charlie’s full name is Charles Morgan Howell, IV.  ‘Morgan’ is as Welsh as Welsh can be.  There you have it!  Thanks, Elizabeth MacKintosh (who wrote as Josephine Tey.)  You’ve answered a very basic question.  It’s his father’s fault.

“… Pack up your pack…”

Monday, September 4th, 2017

The Elizabethan Theater, OSF

I don’t know if an earworm slows you down or speeds you up.  I hope it’s the latter because I’ve got one and I’m behind.

We are scurrying to get on the road – off to Ashland for our yearly rendezvous with son Charlie and a short bout of theater glut at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  It’s a halfway meeting place, more-or-less – a bit more from Charlie who is driving from L.A. and a bit less for us.  We have tickets for four plays this year, two of them, unfortunately, in the outdoor Elizabethan Theater.

The weather news is not good.  In fact, it’s dreadful — the very worst!  Yesterday the measurement went from “unhealthy” to “hazardous” on the Air Quality Index, but so far today it’s back to “unhealthy.”  We know that the outdoor performances are happening on a day-to-day (and sometimes hour-to-hour) basis, so as they say:  “You pays your money and you takes your chances.”  Meanwhile, the Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings (which was caused by a lightning strike and was first reported July 12th) is only 10% contained and now covers 142,857 acres.  The smoke is affecting almost all of Oregon.

“The Bricks” at OSF

Tickets to the plays are a traditional Christmas gift from us to ourselves and to Charlie.  We take advantage of our OSF membership and order in early November, not knowing which plays audiences and critics will deem “best.”  It really doesn’t matter.  In the sixty years I’ve been going to Ashland, I’ve only been disappointed once or twice.  And, of course, we never know what Mother Nature might have in store for us when our dates are eight or nine months in the future.

We’ve never experienced being ‘smoked out’ but we have been at the Elizabethan theater in the rain – not so bad as to shut down because of danger to actors in fight scenes etc. (slippery stage) but wet enough that the action took place in street clothes.  As one of the actors later told us, “The costumes are far more costly than an actor’s salary!  They are the first to be saved!”  On those rare, rainy evenings, rainchecks are offered to those who want to leave by the intermission.  We are usually prepared with garbage bags to slip over our heads…  But I don’t think there is an ‘easy fix’ for smoke problems.

Shoalwater Storytellers Poster, 1981

So, here we are, packing the car with high hopes.  Our chicken-sitter is in place.  Our chickens have promised (we think) to be on their best behavior and we are optimistic about Nyel’s health and our car’s battery.  We have arranged to have brunch with Bob Cook, an old friend from the very first configuration of the Shoalwater Storytellers back in 1980.  And, we hope to hook up with Sharon VanHueit who also has relocated from the beach to Ashland.

Plays or no plays, we’ll have a great time.  As my earworm keeps telling me… “We’re on our way, Pack up your pack, And if we stay, We won’t come back.”  I don’t think that last part is true, though…  But you never know.