Archive for the ‘Charlie Howell’ Category

Oh Boy! It’s Sunday!

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

Charlie and Lupe

Lately — like for the last several years — I’ve looked forward to Sundays because that’s ZoomDay with Marta and Charlie.  When the internet is behaving itself (which is not often) we visit and catch up with ourselves and with Charlie’s kitties, Lupe and Rosencrantz.

Usually, of course, my internet is being wonky and everything freezes up at this end and I get a message that says, “Your Internet Connection is Unstable.”  Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  I know that.  Welcome to Rural America.  If it gets too bad, we hang up and do a conference call instead.  Lately, though,  the  telephone hasn’t been all that reliable either.  I’m not sure if it’s a Verizon cell tower problem or what.

I was told by Spectrum a few weeks back that their marketing campaign in this area would begin in February and that we would be able to sign up for their Cable service on February 28th.  I took that as a good sign since it’s my birthday.  However…I haven’t seen any marketing campaign yet.

I hope this is meant for the Internet Provider…

Still, hope springs eternal and I have my pen poised for that sign-up opportunity on Tuesday.  I’m really not optimistic by nature, so I guess I’m just plain tired of always being on the shitty end of the stick.  How many months ago was it, anyway, that the crews were laying the cables along the right-of-way along Territory Road?

Most curious of all is why the County Public Works Department didn’t seem to know anything about it when I called them.  “Isn’t your Department in charge of the County Right-of-Ways?” I asked.  “Well, yes, but…”  I don’t remember why there were no answers to my questions.  Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

Hats Off to Nansen Florals!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

Party at Gordon & Roy’s, 2001

When I heard last year that Marcia was retiring and her Artistic Bouquets was closing, I was just a tad concerned.  For years they had been the only florist on the Peninsula — the outside world’s big connection to us on birthdays and Mother’s Day and other special occasions.  All during the ’90s they supplied the Bookvendor with fabulous weekly arrangements.  They delivered the balloons for the 16 years of Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Galas, to say nothing of several of Gordon and Roy’s Parties.  Whatever would we do without them?

But, before their doors had been closed and latched, we heard that it was Nansen Malin to the rescue!  Not that she thought of it that way, I’m sure.  But the timing was perfect.  She was starting her business, Nansen Florals, just at the right time — and in just the right place:  the Carriage House that is on her property in Seaview.  Fortuitous to the max.

Nansen’s Business Card

So I wrote Charlie and Marta, gave them the contact information, and hoped for the best.  When my birthday came around at the end of last month, I was not disappointed.  In fact I was thrilled!  Two bouquets — equally gorgeous but as different as night and day.  When Nansen delivered the second one she said, “You won’t be able to choose which you like best.  Just as with your children, equally beloved no matter how different.”  Such a fabulous thought.  And she was right, of course, on all counts.

But, there remains one small mystery.  I must ask Marta about it.  Although the little envelopes and cards for each bouquet were identical, Charlie’s was the standard greeting “from him” by the florist.  On the other hand, Marta’s was made out to “Sydley, Oysterville” in her handwriting and using her nickname for me.  And inside, also in her handwriting, was written:  Dear Sydley, Wishing you a very Happy Birthday filled with Love & Laughter!  And cake, lots of cake!  (Or whatever your sweet tooth fancies)!!  I am so blessed and grateful you are my “bonus Mom” as you have enriched my life in so many waysl  Love you much, Rooners.

The Envelope From Marta

How in the world did Marta manage that?  She must have contacted Nansen days and days ahead and the card/envelope must have traveled back and forth between Seaview. WA and Corte Madera, CA several times!  Service over and beyond, I say!  It seems we are in fine floral fettle once again here at the Beach!

Flowers and Greetings and Love Oh My!

Monday, February 28th, 2022

A Birthday Bouquet from Charlie

Officially, my birthday was today but Charlie started it on Friday with a beautiful bouquet from Nansen Florals — just the perfect cheerful accompaniment to an otherwise quiet weekend.  Plus a suitable amount of time to consider that I’m entering my 87th year…  Some days that seems just wrong; other days… not so much!

I hope I said that the cards began arriving Tuesday and continued non-stop through today — some via the U.S. Postal service,  some hand-delivered, and some by email!  And gifts — mostly chocolate — sometimes came along for the ride!  Oh, and not to forget the messages and greetings on FaceBook.  I feel honored to have received so many wonderful birthday wishes.

Today, the day of days — more flowers!  This time a gorgeous bouquet from Marta, again via Nansen Florals !  And more messages — some sedate, some silly, all heartfelt.   One of my favorites:

Flowers from Marta

Grant me the senility
to forget the people
I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to
run into the the ones I
do, & the eyesight to
tell the difference.

Thank you everyone!  Now, if we can just get this weather situation turned around and let the lamb know we’ve had all the visiting from that lion that we need…


In the best of regulated families…

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Charlie has arrived!

Lots of flurrying at our house these past few days.  Not the kind of flurries that bring snow with them.  More the kind that bring visitors and Christmas elves and, day before yesterday… Charlie!  There’s been laughing and talking and going out to dinner.  And, of course with all the extra fun comes hurrying and scurrying to get presents wrapped and food prepared and everything in readiness for the big day ahead.

Actually for us, Christmas is very much a two-day affair — our traditional baked oysters according a my great-grandmother Julia Espy’s recipe followed by opening the gifts that have miraculously appeared under our tree.  And then on Christmas Day, turkey and all the trimmings in late afternoon followed by dessert in front of the library fire and, if we are not completely undone by then, snacks in the kitchen in the pitch of the night.

Baked Oysters a la Great Grandma Julia

This year, our wonderful friends, Susan Waters and Randal Bays and their boys Owen and Willie will join us for Christmas dinner — first time we’ve been all  together in more than two years I think.  (And we were so sure, when they moved to Olympia that we’d absolutely be in one another’s pockets because of the proximity!)

I hope that every single friend and acquaintance and everyone reading this Eve-of-Christmas-Eve blog is experiencing similar flurries and scurries and excitements of the season.  As my mother would have said, “It’s simply what should be happening in the best of regulated households!”  Which was usually a pronouncement made after a major incident or disaster along the way.  Like the time Aunt Dora dropped the roast and one of the little boys in the household happened through the kitchen about then and…  but that’s another story.  Maybe for tomorrow.

Oh how I hope the weatherman is right!

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

Snow in the Siskiyous

Charlie leaves Los Angeles today on the long drive north to Oysterville.  I think he’s starting a day before he had planned in order to miss the predicted snow in the Siskiyous.  If the weatherman can be trusted with his current forecast, it will not snow until Tuesday in Weed, California.  Weed is a city of some 2500 folks and is located in Siskiyou County just off I-5.

More than once, when I lived in Bay Area and made the trek north in winter, it was in Weed that I stopped to put chains on my trusty VW bug — though truth to tell,  that happened very seldom in comparison to cars without front wheel drive.  Sometimes there were kids out on the freeway earning money for school by offering to put your chains on for $5.00.  (Could it REALLY have been that cheap?) And at least once, when Charlie was a teenager, he had the unpleasant duty, himself — and I did take seriously my “motherly” role of worrying that he didn’t have gloves or a proper jacket.   Nowadays, we both watch the weather forecasts closely and hope for the best!

Chicken Coop in the Snow. 2008

On the other hand, I saw that “flurries” are predicted for Oysterville on Christmas Day and for a few days thereafter!  Oh!  I do so hope that’s the way it will be.  I think the last time it snowed in Oysterville when Charlie was here was in 2008!!!  I remember that he went out to the chickens with us early in the morning and was enchanted, as were we, with all the animal tracks in the snow.  It’s always an eye-opener to see how many forest and meadow creatures come calling at night leaving not a trace except when it snows!

Deer Prints

But for now — no tracks, no snow, and for a few minutes, anyway, no rain.  The lawn is still pretty squishy, though.  With some steps I feel like I might continue right down below the grassy surface.  But I don’t.  And should that happen, I trust that Willard’s words in Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village still hold true:  In an ordinary year, a hundred inches of rain fall on grandpa’s village; we have mutated until we breathe with comfort air that is half water or water that is half air.  

It would be nice to feel the crunch of snow on just one or two mornings this season…  Just one or two.

“Dear Mommy!”

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

Front of Envelope from Charlie, July 1971

I truly love that my senior citizen son STILL begins letters to me “Dear Mommy!”  (Thank goodness, though, that they’ve never been to Mommy Dearest…)

Back of Envelope from Charlie, July 1971

After reading all of Gordon’s epistles (and saving some for subsequent blogs), I tackled the fattest packet of all — letters from Charlie beginning in in the 1970s when he was up here at Camp Sherwood Forest and I was still living in California. Many of them (and their envelopes!) were richly illustrated but it’s the history that he was unknowingly writing about that I have especially enjoyed re-reading.  Like this one:

Nov. 13, 82

Dear Mommy!
Here’s some exciting stuff for you!
The query was driving me crazy — so I did something new & exciting!  I went down to a place that has word processors — and lets you use them by the hour.  You type — and your words appear on T.V.!  Well, the deal is that you only have to type your letter once, and then type your mailing list — and the word processor does the rest — freshly typed copies for everyone — no errors, envelopes & all.  At the touch of a button you can delete, copy or move as little as one letter or as much as several paragraphs!
If you want, the can print it out to look like book copy — proportionally spaced and justified on the right — but I think that looks fussy — I wanted it to look like I had taken individual care with each letter.  Anyway — I spent a couple of days there — training on the machines is free.  I’m addicted!  Have to make a fortune & buy an IBM machine!

He “signs” the letter (which is, as are most of his epistles, printed in all caps on lined yellow notebook paper) with a drawing of himself at the IBM “word processor.”  Priceless!

I’m sending the packet on to Charlie with the thought that these letters going back as many as 50 years will be fun for him to “re-live.”  They certainly were for me!

Meet Young Mr. Rosencrantz!

Sunday, July 11th, 2021

When Happy Kitty died after a long (was he 19?) and contented life, Charlie knew that eventually he would get another kitten.  He has always had two at a time and Lupe, who is six, might miss her “brother.”

But, adopting a kitty in the Los Angeles area is apparently no easy task.  Charlie began the process shortly after his return home from here in June and, just yesterday, finally brought twelve-to-fourteen-week-old Rosencrantz home from the “adoption agency.”  No sooner had they arrived than several things happened almost simultaneously.

I brought Rosencrantz home. He jumped out of the carrier and ran and hid, said Charlie on Facebook.  And then:  I shouldn’t have let him just jump out of the carrier. I should have picked him up and held him for a moment. He can’t get outside. I just have to wait.  And later:  Just needs to acclimate a little bit.

Meanwhile, Lupe, who has been with Charlie since she was even younger than Rosencrantz, was less than pleased.  When, finally, Charlie reported:  Rosencrantz came out and alternately runs around, then hides again.  Lupe is hissing at me!  I’ve betrayed her!  And still later,  (in a bit of a panic), Lupe is crying!  Real tears!

During our weekly family zoom meeting, Lupe perched on a high bookcase behind Charlie, keeping her eye on everything, us included. Rosencrantz snuck hither and thither but never within range of the zoom camera.  We are eager to hear that they have bonded.  Or at least have arrived at peaceful co-existence.  Two black kitties!  So cute!  So diabolical!  Almost more difficult than chickens!  Good luck, Charlie!

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Sunday, May 30th, 2021

Marta, Jim, Charlie – May 30, 2021

Hard to believe that my son joins the official ranks of Senior Citizens today!  Social Security and Medicare Parts A and B and all that other coming-of-old-age stuff.  And, since it’s Sunday (our regular Family Zoom Day) we’ll get to give him our good wishes almost in person!

Charlie in Berkeley at Three

It happens that Marta is in L.A. today with her friend Jim and she just posted a selfie of the two of them and Charlie at La Cabanita in Glendale  which, according to its website, serves “authentic Mexican food known for its flavors, colorful decoration & variety of spices & ingredients, native to Mexico.”  I’m happy to report that, coincidntally, our dinner menu right here in Oysterville tonight is build-your-own-tostados.  Great minds, eh?

And… in another serendipity, a week from today Charlie will be arriving (fingers crossed) just in time for dinner, though the menu is yet undecided!  We’ll celebrate his birthday a week late and revel in seeing him for the first time in almost a year and a half!  Yay!  I feel like I will be the one getting the present!

Meanwhile… Happy Birthday, Charlie!  Can’t believe how well you wear those years!


It’s Mother’s Day Sunday, but honestly…

Sunday, May 9th, 2021

This year the “official” Mother’s Day began on Wednesday with a UPS delivery from Ms. Marta LaRue, my super-duper bonus daughter.  A handmade card and a box of See’s chocolates — all sorts of milk chocolates especially for me!  I got into them after dinner that very day and read and re-read the sweet greetings — “a true blessing” “a steadfast presence” “fun and joyous” — and thought “back-atcha” over and over again.

And yesterday, here came the florist’s delivery truck and a lovely bouquet from Charlie — roses and gerbera daisies and Queen Anne’s lace and purple stock — and other bits of beauty that will brighten this special day and many more to come!

But best of all, it’s a Zoom Day.  In fact, every Sunday evening for more than a year has been a Family Get Together — the four of us on a Conference Call or Zoom.  Neither is absolutely reliable since both our telephone and internet services seem to be “intermittent” now and then.  One or more of us (but usually me) just goes away during a phone call.  With Zoom we can still see one another but are frozen in peculiar poses and silenced, as well.    But never mind!  It’s all wonderful and magical, anyway — and will be extra special on Mother’s Day!

The Blessings of Becoming Old

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

Dale Espy Little – “Mom” 2010

My mother used to talk about “the secrets of old age” which were mostly those by-products of aging that people in her generation never talked about — chin whiskers and thinning hair for women, for instance.  But, she never really talked about the blessings of becoming old.  Not in so many words, anyway.

One of the greatest blessings, as I see it, is the opportunity to “know” your children as they march toward their own “golden years.”  And, of course, if you are blessed with grandchildren and great- grandchildren and even great-greats, seeing them grow up and take their place in the family and in the community is a peek into the future that is the best kind of blessing of all.

Charlie and Marta – September 22, 2019

Both my son Charlie and my step-daughter Marta are now into their social security years, and I couldn’t be prouder or more delighted with either of them!  Both have “turned out well” as they say.  They are socially and politically astute, have pursued their individual talents, are independent in all respects, yet have kept their ties to family and long-time friends.  Even more importantly, we enjoy being with each other and, now that I am approaching my own dotage, I am happy to seek (and mostly follow) their advice, especially concerning this rapidly changing world that they now understand far better than I.

Dale, Sydney, Charlie – 1959

I’ve been thinking of our relationships, our gradual role reversals (perhaps), and of how proud I am of both of them.  This is the weekend of the Williams Family Reunion — an annual affair here on the Peninsula which is now in it’s 80th-something year.  For the first time ever, it is going to be a zoom reunion and, therefore, for the first time ever, Marta and Charlie can attend — Marta from the S.F. Bay Area and Charlie from L.A.  I’m so pleased that I will be able to introduce them to a whole new side of their family and vice-versa!

Marta, c. 1959

So… I really have to say that this will be a kind of back-handed perk of the pandemic.  In person, up-close-and-personal reunions are the best, of course — but maybe this taste of Williams inclusiveness and hospitality will get the two of them up here for the next one.  And that would be yet another blessing!