Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

They’re looking for a “situation.”

Sunday, January 29th, 2023

Hal and Diane

My friends Hal and Diane Buttrell are looking for a “situation.”  Not a situation in the sense of “a state of affairs”  And not a situation in the sense of  a “condition.”  More of a “situation” in terms of a place to live.  The place that they have been staying for some months is about to be sold and they need a “situation” — perhaps a house-sitting situation, or perhaps a rental if that “situation” is right.  Meanwhile, they have a piece of undeveloped property for sale and…

It reminds me of something my grandmother wrote in a letter to her son Willard during the Great Depression.  In those years following ‘the Crash of ‘29’ there weren’t many bright spots in Oysterville.  And there certainly wasn’t any money.  As my grandmother Helen Espy wrote to her son Willard:  We are far from in need, but are not exactly enjoying ourselves… We are doing a lot of old time bartering these days and it works fine.  We have traded oysters for apples, cabbages, rutabagas etc. and now have exchanged some old lumber for potatoes.

I don’t know if it’s harder to find a house to live in than it is to find food for the table, but it sounds a lot more difficult to me.  Especially right now with the tight housing market.  Diane is always hopeful and Hal (often a man of few words) is always supportive of her efforts..

Oysterville Science Academy Students in Lab Coats

Even with the spectre of “homelessness” hanging overhead, they  have been busy (and, so far, successful) in trying to revive the Methodist Church in Ocean Park.  And Diane continues to breathe life into the Oysterville Science Academy — a project that she began in 2015 with  only her enthusiasm and a dream for a better learning experience for kids.  Now the Academy has a Board of Directors (“a working Board,” Diane emphasizes), involves the Ocean Beach School District, and is poised to begin a new phase next summer for Academy graduates.

Hal, who suffers from Congestive Heart Failure (and sometimes sports a portable oxygen tank) still keeps an eye on their property, discouraging the gorse and other noxious weeds that might want to settle in if unchallenged and hoping that just the right buyers will come along to share his enthusiasm for the location and its possibilities.

Meanwhile,  between now and April, they are hopeful that someone “out there” will have need of two energetic, responsible adults to match up to a house that needs their particular brand of TLC.  Perhaps there’s “a situation” that could be of mutual benefit.   Diane says to contact her at if you have helpful information.

With Much Love On Your 100th, Marian Lee!

Saturday, September 3rd, 2022

Sydney with Marian and Jim Lee

Tomorrow, September 4th, is Marian Lee’s 100th birthday — the official one!  But it was today that the community came out in force to celebrate with our beloved centenarian and her family.  It was breakfast at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach from 8:30 to 10:30 — with Barbara Bate playing at the keyboard (loved all the Scott Joplin!) and the crowd singing Happy Birthday as Marian took her place at the head table.

It was packed!  Every possible chair at every possible table was taken.  There were folks from all over the Peninsula and far beyond. “We’ve never served so many breakfasts!” more than one waitress said.  And, as always it was service with a smile and “Would you like more coffee?” or butter… or syrup… and it would soon materialize!

I wondered if dear Marian and her handsome husband, Jim, ever got to eat anything at all.  There was a steady stream of well-wishers at the table — sometimes a whole line-up.  Marian, gracious as always, didn’t seem to worry about her pancakes and sausage getting cold.  She held firmly to each well-wisher’s hand and smiled and smiled.

“Thank you for coming!” I heard her say over and over again!  It seemed a bit tacky to say, “Thank you for making it possible!”  But what DO you say to the birthday girl who seems to think that you have done her a favor by celebrating such a fabulous achievement?

Come to think of it, there aren’t a lot of precedents.  So far, only two in my lifetime — two women who I count as friends:  Betty Paxton and Marian.  How fortunate are we who have known them!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Dear Marian!  Thanks for sharing your celebration with all of us!


“And of course there will be music!”

Monday, August 15th, 2022

Barbara Poulshock – A Cate Gable Photo

My heart is heavy with the news of Barbara Poulshock’s death… and, of course with the inevitable regrets that accompany the last journey of a much-admired friend and neighbor.  Did I ever tell her how much I appreciated her fortitude and determination to live life on her own terms as she aged?  Or how much her (seemingly) casual remarks shared over coffee at Adelaide’s about her last years with her beloved Normand sustained me in recent times?

Probably not.  I was always overawed by her grace and fortitude and found it difficult to maneuver beyond her incredible talents. I confess that I sometimes found it difficult to feel easy in her company.  Until… until the time she told me how my own mother had helped her over the rough spots of learning to live alone!  Music and achievement had nothing to do with their bond.  It was their love of old lace and fine stitchery and the reverence for beautiful old handwork that drew them together.  Another dimension of Barbara.  Another dimension of my mother.  And a bond that included me.

Barbara’s son David has written:

Barbara Poulshock at the Oysterville Church, 2014

Mom’s Celebration is at 10AM Thursday
Hello all.  By now you all have heard the news of Mom’s passing,  Friday, August 12th (my apologies if this is the first time you’ve heard).  I want you to know how much the family appreciates your love and support of Mom over these many decades. It’s been a wonderful life!  So that you know, it was a peaceful transition and her last days were joyful, surrounded by family, listening to music, enjoying the sunshine — even giving a piano lesson!
Many thanks to Amber Jacobs, Mary Davis and the Coastal Care team for taking such good care of Mom this last month and a half. We are so grateful she was able to come home and spend time with her wonderful circle of friends.
Since the family was already here, having travelled from all parts of the world, we have planned her Celebration of Life  this coming Thursday:
10:00 AM — Thursday, August 18th
Ocean Park United Methodist Church
Pastor Mary Evelyn Long will guide the celebration.
And of course, there will be music!


A bigger farewell than we knew…

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

View from the Bridgewater Bistro

On June 2nd, Nyel and I took our friends Barb and John Canney to the Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria for a “Farewell Dinner.”  Barb had been here with us for two-and-a-half weeks, ostensibly to help me with my computer files.  Her visit was my 2021 birthday present from Nyel and it had been a year plus several months before it had finally all come together.  And well worth the wait!

It turned out to be the best birthday gift EVER!  Not only did Barb get me on track to continue streamlining my files, she helped me in countless ways with household chores, with nursing necessities, with cooking and shopping and just BEING — the way only old, dear friends can manage.  Barb’s husband John joined us for the last few days of her stay — all the way from Cohasset, MA.


Our Farewell Dinner was on a Thursday.  Barb and John left on Friday.  And the following Wednesday, Nyel died.  Little did we know that Thursday’s final dinner with our good friends would also be Nyel’s final dinner at the Bridgewater.  And, as it has turned out, my final dinner there as well.

At least, “there” under the loving stewardship of our friends Tony and Ann Kischner.  They have sold the Bistro and it’s the end of an era, for sure.  Not only their restaurants but they and their family have been part of our lives for forty years. Both their daughters were my students at Ocean Park School.  Ann was President of the Water Music Festival (before it became a “Society”) the year Nyel and I gave our Annual Croquet Gala to benefit Water Music — the year we got married in a surprise ceremony before the Awards Ceremony.  I gave my bouquet to Michelle who took it to school the next day for “Show and Tell.”

Nyel and Dr. Michelle,

We celebrated family birthdays and anniversaries at Tony and Ann’s Shoalwater Restaurant at the Shelburne.  During our Bookvendor years we ate many a meal at their Lightship Restaurant in Long Beach and their Heron and Beaver Pub (also at the Shelburne) was the perfect place to meet friends for a drink or a cozy evening meal.

The Pub was also where the Croquet Trophy lived between September tournaments and it was at the Pub that I held my retirement party followed by a dinner with good friends in the Shoalwater dining room.  So many memories — 40 years’ worth!  And all of them bound up in that last Farewell Dinner that we didn’t realize would also be a Farewell to the Bridgewater Bistro, as well!


And there was Mario, looking back at me!

Monday, August 1st, 2022

It took just a few seconds before I did a double take!  Barbara Bate had handed me a flyer about a Community Awareness Dinner but it wasn’t until I took note of the face and saw the words “Featuring speaker Mario Rodriguez” that I yelled, “Hooray!”

Well, probably not out loud.  We were at the Oysterville Church waiting for Vespers to begin yesterday when the information registered!  On August 16th (a Tuesday) after a free (!) dinner at the Senior Center, Mario is going to talk about “Holding Hope through Difficult Times.”  I can’t imagine anyone  more qualified to speak on that topic!

Mario — a man I had first met via telephone back in 2017 when he was in prison — arrested by ICE right in the parking lot of the Long Beach Post Office.
Mario —  whose voice came over the phone from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma directly to Emanuel Hospital in Portland where I was visiting my very ill husband..
Mario — for twelve years a bilingual educator at Ilwaco High School. “I worked with families, too.  I visited homes, helping wherever I could.  Sometimes I met family members at the clinic to help translate during medical appointments.  Whatever was needed.”
Mario — one of the many immigrants from our Peninsula who I featured in my “Stories From the Heart” for the Chinook Observer — a series later nominated for the Pulitzer and that, still later, spawned national and international TV coverage and a New York Times Magazine article.

From McKenzie Funk’s 2019 NYT Magazine article

Since his release from prison a few months later,  I’ve visited with Mario now and then.  He’s working with an attorney, has been to court (a time or two I think), has continued to work in our community — though not, as far as I know in the schools. And, apparently, he still holds hope that he can become a citizen here in this country where he may be able to fulfill his wish — to get back into education so he can help…

The dinner is sponsored by Peace of Mind Pacific County in cooperation with Pacific County Immigrant Support, Pacific County Voicrss Uniting, and Peninsula Poverty Response.  I emailed for my reservation to the dinner for, although it is free, space is limited.  Hope to see you there, too!

O is for Over the Moon in Oz & O’ville

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

Nyel by Deidre Purcell, 2015

The word is just in — Nyel comes home tomorrow!

Meanwhile — ‘O’ has been for Overload here.  The editor literally pulled my Spooky Stories book off the press and has given me 48 hours (beginning yesterday morning) to review the PDF, note the errors, supply substitute images (I think there are 22 photos plus 10-or-so drawings that need replacement.)  All I can say is… it’s a work in progress…

But… first and foremost — Bill and Sue are picking me up tomorrow a.m. and we are going to Oz to fetch Nyel!!!  Yay!!  (Did I say that my 6’2″ husband, who a few years ago weighed about 170, is now at 147 pounds and the wizards are hoping for still more fluid loss.  And when the doctors asked when he last weighed 150, he thought a minute and then answered, “Probably when I was 12.”)

Cast Members – “A Bag Full of Miracles”

Little Red Hen was still hanging in last night — had hunkered down on the floor below the nest boxes; apparently without energy enough to fly up to the roost.  Though it was late — about 10:30 I think — Slutvana (who was on the roost) was wakeful, keeping an anxious eye on her friend.

And one final FABUOUS part to report — The BEST NEIGHBORS EVER Tucker and Carol treated me last night to dinner and the theater — a great meal at the Compadre and an absolutely hilarious time seeing so many friends in “A Bagful of Miracles!”  I loved it all!  And I’m absolutely sure that one of the miracles that Rita has been toting around in that bag of hers had Nyel’s name on it!  How else do you explain an early morning call today with the joyful news!  Bill and Sue say they’ll be picking me up at seven ayem for the ride to Oz!  I am definitely over the moon!

Fewer than the proverbial “six degrees”…

Thursday, February 24th, 2022

“The Infiltrators” – on Amazon Prime

If you have been associated with our Peninsula for very long, you (or someone close to you) has probably been involved with something or someone amazing!  I don’t know the reason.  Perhaps it’s just that there are few enough of us that everyone knows someone who knows someone who was involved with something….

To all of you who have found that to be true, and especially if you have been involved, concerned, aware — in ANY way — of our immigrant/ICE crisis here, I commend to you Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s film, “The Instigators” that won two big awards at Sundance in 2019.  Also, as a direct result of the film, Alex became involved with a group of Dreamer Activists who were working with the ACLU to get a very specific group of deported immigrants back into the United States.  (They had a three-month window of opportunity; they managed to get 10,000 deportees returned to their families here.)

Gilberto Ortiz – “Mundo”

Alex had read Mac Funk’s NYT magazine article, contacted him, and through Mac’s information was able to get a number of deportees back to the U.S. including a cast member from “The Infiltrators” for whom he felt responsible.  Among the others was Gladys, the subject of “A Family Fractured – Children in Flux,” the third in my Stories from the Heart series published in the Chinook Observer in 2019.  It had been as a result of that series that Mac featured some of the Peninsula’s undocumented immigrants in his article.   And… because of all of that, Mac Funk and Alex Rivera were sitting in my living room last Sunday!

Chelsea Renden – “Viridiana”

Let’s see… does that make all six degrees of separation?  I did leave out a couple of “minor” steps.  As a result of his “outstanding talent and exceptional creativity as a filmmaker and digital media artist whose work explores themes of globalization, migration, and technology” Alex was  awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship — colloquially known as the MacArthur “Genius Grant.”  It includes a stipend of $625,000 for the pursuit of a Fellow’s creative, intellectual, and professional work.  Alex, who lives in L.A.,  said that he was using a part of that award to meet the people he had helped get back to their families here in the United States — people he had “known” only by long-distance.  Four of them (including Gladys) live on the Peninsula!  And then he came to Oysterville to meet me!!!  Unbelievable.

Manuel Uriza — “Claudio”

Last night Nyel and I watched “The Infiltrators” — available on Amazon Prime.  Besides all the six degrees of separation and besides the fact that we found Alex the low-key, knowledgeable kind of guy you’d like for a friend or next door neighbor — we found the film riveting —  informative and, despite all, full of hope.   If you know a Dreamer or an immigrant — documented or not — watch it!  You are probably only a few degrees away from this film, yourself!

And today, another goodbye…

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Ryan’s funeral is this afternoon.  We won’t be there, except in spirit — once again our hearts overruled by the risks involved from dreaded Covid.  We are sorrier than can be imagined.

We’ve not been to any “gatherings” outside our home since before the pandemic arrived.  Certainly not to any rites of passaage — no weddings or christenings, no graduations or retirement parties, no funerals or memorial services.  As much as we miss concerts and parties and Vespers and theater productions, it is missing those rites of passage that make us feel most bereft.  Not being able to “be there” to support friends and loved ones as they celebrate milestones in their lives leaves a void, forever unfilled.  There have been too many of them.  Funerals are hardest.

As for Ryan — we’ll remember him best as a youngster, whizzing through town on his bike. Chasing or being chased?  We never knew, but probably neither.  The joyful look on his face said only, “Because I can!”

The Sounds of Christmas

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Dusk was just around the corner yesterday afternoon when Christmas arrived on our south porch!  At first we heard the gate open and then a bit of foot scuffling and then… sleigh bells!  The carolers had arrived and for the next quarter hour or so we were wreathed in smiles and immersed in songs and good tidings!  It was even cold enough to feel like Christmas — only the snow was missing.  But it was the sound of sleigh bells that caused my heart to soar.  I’ve never ridden in a sleigh or even seen or heard one except in films.  Yet the sound is at once nostalgic and full of promise and says “Christmas” like no other!

There were seven singers, each bundled up in full caroling regalia — warm coats and scarves, mittens and stocking caps (some even borrowed from Santa’s hat rack!)  I was so entranced that I can’t even tell you which carols they sang — maybe “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Winter Wonderland”?  I do know that they left (all too soon!) singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and then they were off to other households, sleigh bells jingling.

We had no steaming cups of hot buttered rum to offer — only red and green M&M’s — festive, perhaps, but not so warming.  Even though it wasn’t icy and snowy, I wished we could have provided them a bit of hot, wet Christmas cheer.   Maybe next year… if they are inspired again and we can keep our place on their list.  Meanwhile… Let The Season Begin!


Ready! Set! The Season Begins!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

The village Christmas Elves, Martie and Steve, were out and about yesterday delivering their traditional Christmas wreaths.  Once again, because of the configuration of our porch and doors, they brought us three.  Three gorgeous wreaths to get our Holiday Season up and running!

For us, the wreaths symbolize inviting the spirit of Christmas into our home along with good tidings and good fortune for the season and the upcoming year.   For many, though, the wreaths are associated with religion, as their circular shape is said to symbolize eternal life and the unending love of God. In the 16th century, the use of wreaths during Yule was adopted by Christians and became a custom in the form of Advent wreaths. These wreaths were traditionally made of evergreens, which also symbolize eternal life, holly oak, and red berries. The red berries and the thorny leaves of the holly oak represented the crown of thorns worn by Jesus and the drops of blood that they drew.

Wreaths, of course, go back centuries.  The word “wreath” comes from the Old English “writhan,” meaning “to twist,”  and they have long been associated with many cultures.  In the Persian Empire, wreaths called “diadems” were a sign of power or authority.  Made of fabric and and adorned with jewels, they were often worn by royalty. Ancient Egyptians also wore a type of wreath as a headdress, but theirs were of flowers and called a “chaplet” In  Rome, wreaths made of laurel were worn by emperors and awarded to warriors and others as a symbol of honor. Additionally, Romans awarded olive leaf and laurel wreaths to winning athletes and even poets. Wreaths were hung on doors as signs of victory.

Christmas wreaths are also connected with the pagan holiday of Yule, marking the winter solstice, which was celebrated by ancient Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. This 12-day festival, which was also called midwinter, was held to honor the returning of the sun and the seasonal cycle. The wreaths used during Yule were meant to symbolize nature and the promise of spring.

For me this holiday season, however they are displayed and for whatever reasons, wreaths symbolize good will and hope — both so sorely needed as we approach Christmas 2021 and the uncertainties of a new year.