Archive for the ‘Charlie Howell’ Category

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!

The Beatles got it bassackwards!

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

Charlie, 2011

My son Charlie is 64 today!!  And, absolutely, Sir James, I still love him — unequivocably and forever.   Speaking of which, I’m thinking that it’s been about forever since we spent his birthday together.  Maybe even since he went off to college in 1974!  Our tradition is The Birthday Telephone Call — but this year that doesn’t seem adequate, even though this year it’s necessary for multiple reasons.

So, this year it’s going to be a zoom call — tomorrow not today.  Sunday evenings are the time that Marta, Charlie and I have a “conference call” each week.  We’ve done that for about a year and, though we have talked about zoom, I’ve been the laggard in that area.   Yesterday, I found that my reluctance was apparently based in gut-level reality.

On Thursday, Nyel and I, along with dozens of other relatives, participated in a Birthday Bash for my cousin Mike Williams.  After a bit of difficulty (the computer kept notifying us that our internet capacity was inadequate so we moved into another area of the house) everything seemed to go smoothly.  It wasn’t until Mike’s daughter Melinda sent us a video copy of the “Bash” that I wished I could push some sort of reset for a re-do!


There was a woman — we’ll call her “The Eyelid Woman” — posing as me,  She was sitting cozily next to my husband Nyel (who looked like his usual, handsome self) and she never opened her eyes.  Really!  They fluttered once in a while (even worse!) but never did she make eye contact with the screen.  And she appeared to have gigantic eyelids.  The entire thing was grotesque.

So the question is, Charlie, will you still love me now that you are 64?  I surely hope that you and Marta can give me some pointers — or do I look like that all the time.  OMG!



One Of Those Age Old Questions

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Charlie’s First Picture

Just what is the purpose of government?  I think I need to review.  But not today.  Today is Memorial Day and, once upon a time it was my son’s birthday.  I am witness to the fact that he was born at 7:44 in the morning on Memorial Day, 1956.  It was May 30th.  I remember being pleased that his birthday would always be a holiday.

And so it was…  until his fourteenth birthday.  By then, Congress had passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including  Charlie’s birthday (which just happened to be Memorial Day), from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.  The other three holidays were Washington’s Birthday, Labor Day, and Columbus Day.

Charlie’s Birth Announcement

I wonder what George’s mother might have thought about the change.  In one way it is comforting to know that Charlie and the Father of Our Country were given the same cavalier treatment.  But, still, it does make me wonder just what the bottom line purpose of our elected leaders might be.

I think of Dan Driscoll’s campaign slogan — “fair and just treatment under the law”– and wonder how that factors in when it comes to messing around with holidays and birthdays.  I think, perhaps, the answer to the purpose of government is simply to keep us confounded and a bit miffed for indefinite periods of time.

Memorial Day used to be a holiday to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.  Even that official purpose has morphed over time as noted in our local cemeteries where the VFW places flags honoring all veterans and the rest of us decorate the graves of loved ones (whether or not they serrved) with flowers.  Go figure.

Elves, Elves, and More Elves!

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

Porch Surprise

Charlie left about noon on Thursday.  He had been here a week — one of the longest visits in many years — and, from the old folks’ point of view, one of the very best!  We visited, played games, re-created some family recipes and, in general, got up to some semblance of speed.  Under normal circumstances, even with weekly phone calls, that’s hard to accomplish.  Nyel and I tried to stay up late (for us) and Charlie, ever the night owl, used his ‘alone time’ to finish any kitchen clean-up (usually a lot!) that I’d left for morning!  Fabulous!  It definitely earned him the moniker “Charlie-The-House-Elf” in my mind.

The Packages Within

That afternoon, Nyel had a long-postponed visit to the dentist.  We returned home to find a large “care package” on the table near the front door.  Michael and Lynn Madigan, Gourmet Food Elves (and not just at Christmastime!) had left us dinner.  Actually, two dinners.  Wow!

The large white bag was full of individual packages, neatly labeled:  “Momma’s Irish Cream,” “Osso Buco,” “Saffron Risotto for Osso Buco,” “Wagyu Prime Rib,” “Garlic Mashed Potatoes,” “Creamed Spinach”. Wow!  Oh, and I forgot to mention the wonderful Goodie Box of cookies, fudge, and other treats!  Wow some more!

Momma’s Irish Cream

I later found instructions sent to my email by Michael:  First meal is osso buco with saffron risotto.  The osso bucco is sealed up; you can reheat it in the bag submerged in a pan of barely simmering water for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  Flip the bag halfway through cooking.  The second meal is prime Wagyu roast beef with creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.  You’ve also got a box of Christmas cookies and fudge.  Try to share!  Finally several drams of Lynn’s homemade Bailey’s type liquer.  It’s delightful on its own, but really shines in coffee.  

From The Cookie Elf

And if those Christmas Elves were not enough, here came Charlotte Killien, Cookie Elf Indescribable!  Her cookies are becoming legendary here on the Long Beach Peninsula and we feel honored, indeed, that she remembers us when she is in town!  “Please, please,” we say to her, “come when you can stay for a visit.”  But we are seldom so fortunate and have to content ourselves with her baked goods.   (Let’s hear it:  “Oooohhhh  Noooo!”)

So… Thanks to the  elves in our lives, the holiday spirit continues at this address in Oysterville!  As I so often say… we are truly blessed!

Another Perk of Motherhood!

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Marta is in L.A. for a few days just now, providing her with an opportunity to spend some time with Charlie.  Both of them posted pictures of their adventures a day or so ago — at lunch at Michelangelo Ristorante in Silver Lake near Charlie’s place; at a store that might have been named for the two of them, Whacko; and (I think) at a Soap Factory, although it and Whacko might be one and the same.

They looked like they were having a great time together, just as they have for the past sixty years.  When the two of them were young, I always counted myself blessed that they got along so well.  Each has a great sense of humor and great appreciation for the off-beat, yet each is kind and thoughtful and empathetic to the max.  I really like them both — in addition to the motherly love part.

But what really pleases me at this late time in my own life, is that they truly enjoy one another’s company.  It’s reassuring that they have one another to fall back on or turn to.  As an only child, myself, I find it comforting that they still enjoy one another and seem to grow closer as time gallops along!  Yay!

Sunday Night Call

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Charlie and Marta, 2016

Every Sunday night at seven o’clock, everything stops around here for the weekly conference call with Charlie and Marta.  Sometimes Nyel joins in but usually he leaves the conversation to the three of us — Charlie talking from L.A., Marta from Corte Madera, and I from Oysterville.   Sometimes, though, one of us might be talking from somewhere else and, once in a while, one of us has to miss.  But, it’s become pretty much a Sunday night ritual for the last year and a half.  From seven to eight-ish we catch up, we reminisce, we share our thoughts and… we laugh. We’re all good at that.

Marta La Rue, Mayan Goddess, 2012

Last night, however, most of our conversation was serious.  Marta said that she PG&E has announced plans for a possible “Public Safety Power Shutoff” event for day after tomorrow.  Of course, a spirited discussion followed.  Topics ranged from 1) the irresponsibility of PG&E and the various utility commissions presumably in place to oversee them, to 2) what consumers can do short of buying generators to keep crucial businesses operating and on, to 3) climate change and, finally, to 4) the immensity of the global problem.  “We’re far beyond just lighting a few candles and waiting for the lights to come back on,” said ever-practical Charlie.  “Our civilized world runs on computers — you can’t go back to 19th century solutions.”

Charlie as Magus, 2013

We ended on a lighter (ahem) note.  I complained that I haven’t seen a recent photo of Marta on FB and she said she’s thinking of going hat shopping, photos to follow.  Which reminded me of Charlie’s solution to everything when he was eight or nine (or fifteen or thirty) — “just wear a little hat” he’d smile. It was his way of not engaging, and it was maddening and hysterical at the same time.  (You probably had to be there.)  When the call ended, I think we were all smiling.  I know I was.



It was “Happy Birthday to Nyel!”

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Oysterville Regatta 2017 – Photo by Mark Petersen

One way or another, we salvaged most of Nyel’s birthday weekend.  We made it home from Portland in time for the second and third heats (races?) of the Regatta.  Afterwards, we got Nyel into his wheelchair and wheeled him down the middle of Territory Road with half of Oysterville and the Regatta Dinner guests walking along behind us.  “The only way to travel!” Nyel said.  In my mind  seventy six trombones led the big parade.  Only appropriate for his 76th birthday!

At Lena’s, we were greeted by Tucker and Carole’s son, Charlie, who managed to wheel Nyel over gravel and lawn and rough spots to seat him at the head of the nearest table.  Soon, the table filled with friends who filled us in on the first race and proceeded to treat us both like visiting royalty! People brought us food and beverages and there was even a surprise chocolate cake (a four-layer CostCo special, I think) and the whole crowd sang Happy Birthday to Nyel.

Regatta Pinata Grandkids 2018

A dinner highlight was Tucker singing three (count ’em! Three!) Regatta songs this year.  My favorite and the one I think should become THE official regatta song — was to the tune of “Where have all the flowers gone?”  Here is the truncated version which you can probably figure out:  Where have all the lasers gone… gone to summers every one; where summers… gone to memories;  where memories… gone to stories; where stories, gone to grandkids; where grandkids… gone to lasers every one.

On Sunday our long-time friend “Tricky” came down from Bainbridge and the three of us hooked up with Noel at the Bridgewater in Astoria for Nyel’s birthday dinner.  Lotsa sharing of “geriatric war stories” and even more reminiscing about the “olden days” of forty or fifty years ago.  It was lovely to catch up with one another  though we missed Noel’s wife, Patty, who was back east at a school reunion.

At home, there were presents — all food related, including a new slow cooker (his old one died) from son Charlie plus a hefty book called  Crock Pot – The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection.  Nyel’s comment:
“A great birthday and a real improvement over spending the day in the hospital.”  Amen to that!


Another Missing Bit of Childhood

Friday, February 15th, 2019

On this very date, February 15th, in 1903, the first Teddy bear went on sale.  Little did toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom realize that he was creating a childhood institution.  He had asked and received permission from President Theodore Roosevelt to use his nickname, Teddy, and had then sewn up a couple of stuffed bears and placed them in his store window.  The rest, as they say, is history.

I don’t believe I ever had a toy bear and I’m not at all sure that my son Charlie did, either.  Certainly, there was never a bear that had a place in our lives like Christopher Robin’s Pooh Bear.  I think that “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” was about the extent of my early bear connection.

I do remember shopping for a little Steiff bear for Charlie when we were in Germany in 1958.  He was two and, somehow, I thought he needed a stuffed bear.  But, even then, they were way too expensive for our meager budget.  The stuffed animal that became his favorite was a dog that we got in Italy.

We had gone into a big department store in Rome, specifically to look for a cuddly stuffed animal.  The salesclerk showed us a big, floppy dog, larger than Charlie.  I kept saying (and motioning with my hands) “smaller” and by inches we were shown smaller and smaller versions of the same stuffed dog.  Each dog was accompanied by the word “piccolo” and by gestures which we soon understood to mean “small.”  And, so it was that Charlie acquired Piccolo Doggie who was, as Goldilocks would have said, “just right” size-wise, and was Charlie’s boon companion for years.

During those years, Charlie and I were also introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh in a book given to Charlie by his Great-Grandmother Little, as I recall.  Later, I enjoyed my own second childhood over and over again by reading those Milne books to my first graders.  Wise old Pooh helped many-a-child of my acquaintance over a rough spot – but he wasn’t technically a Teddy bear and he didn’t come along in time for me to enjoy him during my own childhood.

If I were to examine my character critically, I’d probably come up with a flaw or two that I could credit to the lack of childhood Teddy Bear bonding.  Right up there with that electric train I never got!  Oh well…