Archive for the ‘Charlie Howell’ Category

Our Zooming Book Club

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

I’m sure in this Newest Age of Technology — the one we’ve shaped to fit being mindful during Covid — there are many Book Clubs that have resorted to Zoom Get-Togethers to stay abreast of their latest selections.  And, likewise, I imagine that families who have been keeping in touch through the face-to-face possibilities provided by modern technology have also discovered the potential of sharing favorite authors and titles.

Marta and  Charlie and I have been conference calling and zooming for a number of years now, but it wasn’t until our cousin Alex sent me two books — a companion set by Yuval Noah Harari  and I became “hooked” —  that I suggested my son and bonus-daughter might also enjoy them.

Wow!  I can’t tell you how much fun our discussions are and how much disparity there sometimes is in our “takes” on whatever we’ve just read.  Also, of course, agreement on much of it, and the desire to read more, travel more (well, them, not me so much) and learn more about what he says.

But, first, I should say that, according to the blurb in the front of Sapiens: “Dr. Harari has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History.  His books, Sapiens, Homo Deus, and Lessons for the 21st Century (which the three of us don’t have yet) have become an international phenomenon.

If you are looking for a new way to consider the present state of of the world and where we might be taking ourselves, I highly recommend Dr. Harari’s books.  But — if you want an even richer reading experience — underline the reading and don’t even think “TV” —  read them simultaneously with The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, most especially books 6, 7, and 8 in that series.  OMG!

Definitely food for thought.  And so meaningful to share thoughts about them with the younger generation!

Too Quiet On This Western Front!

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

Marta and Charlie

Charlie and Marta left a little after mid-day and it is all too quiet here at the house even though Chris-the-Mower-Man was here for an hour or so.  And I’ve set the hoses and hear the reassuring snick-snick-snick of the sprinklers magically greening the garden.  And I even put Cinderella to work, cleaning up a few crumbs left over from last night’s revelries.  But still… the silence is omnipresent.

How did the time go so quickly?  Twelve days and nights!  They told me they wanted to do whatever I needed so I put them to work bigtime with the things I cannot accomplish on my own — washing all the curtains, getting a head start on trimming rhododendrons for starters.  But still we laughed and talked and carried on as only family folk can do!

We chose this one!

Marta said she’d do all the cooking — and she did!  Charlie spent a day across the river with me — helping me choose a new kitchen stove and cheerfully accompanying me on various errands — to CostCo, to the Verizon Store, to Fred Meyers.  How much easier it was with him along!  How I wish that they both lived closer by.

We managed to take a few tentative steps toward the eventual disposition of the house and its contents. We went out to lunch and out to dinner, saw old friends, were treated to Marta singing with Fred, went to Vespers, and participated in The Honorary Oysterville Militia’s Fourth of July Cannon Salute.

Nyel’s Final Resting Place

Most importantly — and the real reason for this summer visit by my two beloved ones:  we placed Nyel’s ashes in the Oysterville Cemetery near the gravestone that he helped me design in the months before he died.  It was a fitting tribute to the gentlest of men and I was so grateful for the assistance of my son Charlie and bonus-daughter, Marta.  As much as I miss them right now in this overly quiet house, I can think of little else but how lucky I am!


Appetizers, Drinks, Friends and Music!

Friday, June 30th, 2023

One of the best Friday Nights EVER!  The food was great!  The drinks were fine!  Our friendships are strong!  But it was the music that made this a night to remember!  Fred and Marta had their guitars.  Cate brought her ukelele.  The three had not played together before but that is the magic of music and musicians — harmonies and solos and riffs and who-know-what-all.

There was just the right mix of songs we could sing along with —  Woody Guthrie, John Denver, Fleetwood Mac and Harry Bellefonte to name a few and some more esoteric selections that Marta, Cate, and Fred sang solo or in two and three-part harmony.  So fun!  And I had forgotten what a fine voice my son Charlie has.

All too soon (though it was later than usual) Cate began singing “The Owl’s Lullaby” — always the last song in her performances.  She had to leave to tend to her ailing dog and the rest of us sang on for a bit — though it wasn’t quite the same without her.

All in all, it was a memorable evening.  I always love the Friday Night Gatherings.  Music just makes them that much better!


A Day of Looking Back and Planning Ahead

Thursday, June 29th, 2023

June 29, 2023

My early morning visit to the cemetery was practical rather than sentimental, but there was plenty of time for the gamut of feelings.  Miki, one of yesterday’s participants in our small ceremony for Nyel, wrote that she arrived home with only one earring — drop style of amber glass.  So, I went up for a look around.

Unfortunately, the carpet of pine needles and pinecones were also amber-ish in color and there was no sun to reflect off the glass, so after a few words with Nyel, I headed home stopping at the Post Office on the way.  In answer to Tammy’s “Wow! You’re early today!” I told her of my quest.  “Did you know you are only wearing only one earring this morning, too?” she asked.

Mine was pearl, not amber, and was a gift from Nyel years ago.  For a long time now, they are the only ones I’ve worn.  I couldn’t help wondering “what the heck’s going on?  Is Nyel collecting earrings now?”

But, no.  Mine was on the dresser where I had apparently overlooked it this morning and the amber one was found tucked in a crevice of its owner’s couch.  The day was off to a fine start!

The rest of the day was spent “walking the house” with CPHM curator Betsy Millard to get an idea of what, if anything, might be of interest to the museum after I’m gone.  Her gentle reminders that the artifacts would have to further the “Espys in Oysterville” story helped keep us focused.

After lunch, Betsy kindly showed  Charlie and Marta (and me, as well) the various parts of the museum including storage and archival facilities etc.   We were fortunate that Executive Director Madeline Matson was available so C and M could meet her. The entire visit was wonderfully informative for future planning.  Both “kids” were suitably impressed as I was sure they would be.

We were all so engaged that only one photo resulted.  I don’t know if it has significance or not.  It’s hard to tell with bears.

Marta, Bear, and Charlie

Non-stop Everything!

Monday, June 26th, 2023

Coffee, Cookies, Candies, Oh My!

Eating! Laughing! Talking! Eating some more! Singing! Laughing! Quoting movies.  Quoting books. Laughing! Eating!

Have another, won’t you?

Marta and Charlie arrived around three-thirty.  Now it’s almost seven hours later.  I’m off to bed.  They are Eating! Laughing! Talking! And… you know…  It’s SO good to have them home!  The house and I didn’t realize how lonely we were without them!

Mother’s Day Has Already Begun!

Thursday, May 11th, 2023

Postcard From Charlie, 1964

As I was going through yet another pile of “keepsakes” today, I came across a postcard sent to me from Shasta Dam in 1964 from my son Charlie who was then eight years old.  This is what it said: I got a pocket from Shasta Dam.  Can’t talk long.  This telephone costs money. Bye.  “Click”  Your son, Charles.    It was addressed:  To Mommy, 5808 Greenridge, Castro Valley, Calif.

I’m not sure  what a “pocket” was — maybe Charlie can remember.  I’m so glad I kept this.  What a treasure!   Already he was thinking in alternative possibilities…

Letter from Mom, 1983

And then I ran across another treasure — this one from my mother written in November 1983, just after she and Dad had celebrated their 5oth wedding anniversary.  Mostly, she was thanking me for my “very efficient handling of all the last minute details” — not one of which I can remember and probably was getting credit for things not deserved!  But what tickled me was this paragraph, so typical of Mom:
Your father and I both agree that we accomplished our mission in life when we “Diddled” and produced you and you “Diddled” and brought forth Charlie.  We didn’t stop at half best, but we produced the top best!

 What a mom she was!  I miss her every day but never so much as when something zany strikes my funny bone and I know that only my inimitable mother would share in my delight.  I’m so glad I caught just a bit of her unique flavor!

Flowers From Charlie!

And just about then, the lovely Mother’s Day bouquet arrived from Charlie (via Nansen).  I feel like I am sharing it with his beloved Granny, as well.  What a lovely beginning to the holiday meant just for us mothers!  (Who all diddled, don’t forget!)




Here we go gathering nuts in May!

Monday, May 1st, 2023

I think of “The Reluctant Dragon” song every first of May.  It was featured briefly in the 1941 American comedy film produced by Walt Disney and directed by Alfred Werker which was called… drum roll… “The Reluctant Dragon” written by Charles Wolcott, T.Hee, and Erdman Penner and is sung by the dragon (Barrett Parker).

I first heard it from my college roommate, Sandy Peters, who came from a quirky musical family on Bainbridge Island.  She and her younger sister shared an atticky room with an owl who came and went through an ever-open window and each family member played a variety of instruments — Sandy mostly the guitar and her dad, Babe, mostly the musical saw.  Sandy and I later married brothers, making our children  first cousins and our friendship lifelong..

Charlie and Me, 1957 at Stanford

And so it is that I think of all of the above every year on this day.  I also think of my maternal grandmother whose birthday was May 28th, of my dad whose birthday was May 12th (often on Mother’s Day), and mostly of my son, Charles, who was born on May 30th (and who is not at all a reluctant dragon!)

Party at Gordon & Roy’s 2001

So… according to the song:  “Here we go gathering nuts in May…” (which I always interpreted as meaning partying with my friends since I don’t know of many true nuts that are ripe in May), it promises to be a very NON-reluctant month!



Marta was upset. I was forewarned. Charlie was…

Sunday, April 16th, 2023

Charlie, 2012

Depending on the why of it or maybe on the where of it or even on the the when of it, my mental pictures of my son can run the gamut of his sixty-six and eleven/twelfths years.  From baby and toddler days through adolescence and beyond, all my conjured images make me smile.

I was, therefore, so glad of Marta’s forewarning.  We had a conference call rather than a zoom chat this evening.  Marta was in Los Angeles at her friend Jim’s, not far from Charlie’s place.  Jim, however, was in the hospital and our discussion revolved around his situation, Marta’s preparations toward caregiving when he is released, and other matters of concern.

It wasn’t until the end of the call that Marta cautioned me against looking at Charlie’s Facebook page.  “There’s a lot of blood!  And it’s just his face and arms!  And it doesn’t say it’s just makeup!”  Marta wasn’t crying, but she wasn’t laughing either.   And Charlie was silent.

Charlie, a vampire victim in Simmin’s film – 2023

Yikes!  Gradually the story unfolded.  Charlie’s friends, Simmin and Marcelo, had asked him to come over to help with a film Simmin was just finishing up. I didn’t get the whole story but there was a director and cameraman and Simmin (who I believe wrote the script and stars in the film), and who actually did Charlie’s makeup.  It’s a vampire film, apparently, and Charlie thinks he was some sort of victim.  He’s quite vague about it all, but perhaps tangling with a vampire can have that effect on you!

Marta saw the photograph with no forewarning and was quite upset until she was able to talk with Charlie about it.  Points for Simmon’s artistry no doubt.  (Although both Marta and I wondered just what kind of vampire leaves such a bloody mess behind…)  But, never mind.  Charlie thinks Simmin was pleased.

I loved it that Marta was so protective of me — she wasn’t at all sure I should even look at the photo.  But, forewarned is forearmed as they say.  I don’t know how I’d have felt had I just come across it as Marta did.  As it is, ghough, I thought Charlie should put the picture up on his Actor’s Resume. With all the vampire films around these days, there could definitely be a need for a bloody body…


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!