Archive for the ‘Charles M. Howell IV’ Category

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!

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.