Archive for the ‘The Red House Relatives’ Category

And suddenly… summer begins!

Saturday, July 17th, 2021

Sydney in Oysterville, Summer 1940

In the “olden days” of my childhood, summer in Oysterville meant visitors.  Lots and lots of visitors.  The relatives came from Portland and Puyallup and California and they usually came for two weeks or more.  Often, they “overlapped” and we were hard-pressed to find sleeping spots for everyone even though there were five bedrooms and all but one had double beds.

As I remember, the “overflow” relatives stayed at The Red House three properties to the north.  I’m no longer sure how many beds and bedrooms there are in that old house, but I think it can comfortably accommodate seventeen or eighteen people — more if there are a lot of little kids.

Many friends from afar visited, too, but they seemed to arrive more according to a “schedule” and so we devoted ourselves specifically to that group or that family.  I think the attitude about the relatives was that the houses belonged as much to them as to us — most, whether of my grandfather’s generation or my mother’s, had grown up here, after all.  There was always room and, as I remember, they immediately helped out by taking on any extra host and hostess duties when non-relatives arrived.

H.a. Espy Family Reunion 1943

I’ve been thinking about those days as we plan for the arrival next week of our bonus daughter extraordinaire, Marta. to be followed in short order by Randal Bays and Family, Cuzzin Ralph from Virginia, Cousin Alex and friend Katie from New York, Kuzzin Kris from Sacramento (who is actually staying at the Red House but we hope we get our share of her!) and then the Rose City Mixed Quartet!!!  And at the very beginning of this grand parade will be Cousin Ruth and Cindy from Mercer Island who are staying somewhere spiffy with a whole raft of children, grandchildren, and I don’t know who all.  I think our house is on the schedule for a “tour and history lesson.”

I can’t wait for it all to begin!  It will be like summers of old but “on steroids” as we are all eager to make up for the Sheltering Year that we hope against hope is over for good and all!  Now… if the sun will come out and the soft breezes blow — just as I remember from those olden days! — it will be a perfect summer, indeed!

 

Cousins & Chickens & Swallows , Oh My!

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

My Cousin Gin

Two Red House Cousins came calling yesterday.  Actually, they are my second cousins once removed and first cousins to each other.  Gin Ronco and Kahrs Bemis.  I think they are ten and Kahrs told me that even though he is a bit older, Gin is a bit bigger.

We didn’t measure this time, but I think she is pushing my five-foot-two mark and when I asked about her shoe size — (she had nicely removed them when she came inside and they looked… well, big) — she told me “Eight and a half.”  Is that a woman’s size?” Kahrs asked.  “Yep,” she said.  I got a pitying look from them both when I admitted that I only wore a seven-and-a-half.

Barn Swallow Nest, Church Porch

Before they came calling on us, they had checked out the chickens.  “We’ve named them,” they announced.  “The red one is Rosemary.  The white one is Ella.  And that fluffy one in the nest box is…”  I have to confess that I’ve forgotten what they said.  I was too taken with their descriptions of Svetlana (alias Slutvana, though I didn’t tell them so).

“She’s the nicest one,” they told me.  “She let us pet her.  For a long time.”  I didn’t explain about her being broody and not knowing about it.  I wasn’t sure if they were up on their chicken reproduction facts and really didn’t feel in a teaching mode…

Oysterville Church, South Side

Instead, we went over to the church to look at the swallow nests.  There are not only more of them this year, but for the first time in my memory we have two kinds of swallows and two kinds of nests.  On the porch and, also, up on the eaves on the north side are several barn swallow nests — rather traditional-looking cup-shaped nests built of mud and carefully lines with moss or down.  Barn swallows are the ones with forked tails.  Swallow-tailed coats are named for them.

Cliff swallows have short, square-tipped tails and, though their nests are also made of mud, they are gourd shaped with a small, round entrance hole.  Like their cousins, the barn swallows, they often build their nests near one another, though some might say that the cliff swallows carry neighborliness to extremes.  In the top eave of the church there are five — count ’em, five! — nests snuggled one against the other!

Cliff Swall Nests — Five!
Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Both Kahrs and Gin were full of swallow stories — babies rescued, nests found in unexpected places, and…  But all of a sudden, it seemed it was time to go!  “We’ll try to come back!” they promised.  Wow!  I hope so.

Home for A Day and Back Again

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Cousins

Days 29 & 30 —  Yesterday I left at dawn’s crack and had the road to Oysterville almost entirely to myself. Not so much mid-afternoon when I returned to St. Vincent’s — the Memorial Day traffic had, by then, clotted up the highway in both directions, but still, my round trip was without incident.

I arrived home in plenty of time for our Annual Oysterville Restoration Foundation meeting which, this year, proceeded in an orderly fashion thanks, in part, to the presence of a deputy Sheriff who had been hired to “keep the peace.”  It’s sad that things have come to that in “quiet” little Oysterville. But as ORF president David Williams noted during the course of the meeting, when some members attempt to “do business” through threats from attorneys rather than through civil and neighborly discussion, it is necessary to take appropriate measures.

I wish our new-neighbors-to-the-north had been there.  During my absence, a long construction-style chain link fence has gone up on the front of their property from our corner fence post to the newly installed driveway on their north property line.  Perhaps the  contractors for their upcoming construction project are from the big city and perhaps this is standard procedure… but in Oysterville it seems not only unsightly but insulting.  Like who in the world — residents or visitors — can’t see that the property is completely open on the east side?  Or maybe the cyclone fence comes under the heading “to be continued.”   I’m only glad that the previous three or four generations are no longer here to see what has become of their peaceful, friendly village.

Cousin Anwyn and The Cannon

Speaking of the generations — Uncle Cecil’s great-great grandchildren were in town with moms and dads and grandpa.  They came down to visit the chickens and informed me that they have given each of the ladies a name.  When I arrived, the kids were busy with hoes and rakes from our toolshed trying to get the girls out of the rhododendron bushes where they were hiding.

When I pointed out that the chickens hide from predators in those bushes which is a good thing, the tools went back in the toolshed and their focus turned to Nyel — “How’s he doing?” asked Gin.  “Will he be here on Monday to fire the cannon? asked Kahrs.  “Give him hugs from me,” Silas said.  Twice.  Even (sometimes  known-to-be-grumpy) Uncle Cecil would have been impressed.

Danielle, Me, Gabi, Amy

Later, I visited with Amy Wachsmuth and her girls, Gabi and Danielle.  Sue Holway came by and snapped our picture to show posterity that Danielle is now two inches (at least) taller than I am!  Wow!  How did that happen?

All the way back here to St. Vincent’s, I thought about the “old time” neighbors and the kids and how much I love Oysterville.    Now,  if we can only get Nyel back home soon, it promises to be a good summer, cynclone fences notwithstanding!

Cousins Come Calling

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Anna, Walker, Anwyn – 4/9/19

There was a knock at the door and almost before I could greet cousins Anna, Walker and Anwyn, six shoes and two bike helmets had been discarded and there were hugs and laughter and more energy in our living room that in a month of Sundays.  Or Friday Nights, for” that matter.

Most of the lively animation that had bounced through the door belonged to Walker and Anwyn who are on Spring Break from Kindergarten and Pre-school, respectively.  Anna was, as always, laid back and languid, her sparkling eyes not missing a thing and her mom radar working on overtime – just in case!  “Be careful!” she cautioned once or twice.  “Everything is fragile here!”

Both kids looked right at me when she said that “fragile” word and I wondered briefly if they had been forewarned that Nyel and I were “really, really old.”  They were on their best behavior for at least five minutes and then there was a little running (carefully) and a little galloping (very carefully) and some horseplay with Walker on all fours and Anwyn trying to decide whether she was equine or equestrienne.

Rob (alias Dad) was in Seattle at work and Anna had taken a couple of days off from her job to come to Oysterville which, if you are part of her branch of our family, is The Red House.  “If I mention that someone lives in Oysterville,” Anna said, “the kids think they live in The Red House.  Those words are synonymous, of course!  They were for my sisters and me, too.”

Beeg with Daughters Lexie, Anna, Abby – 2014

Anna’s sisters are Abbie and Lexie and the three spent many-a-summer-vacation with their mother BG (or sometimes Beeg – both short for Brongwyn) here in Oysterville (read: The Red House) when they were growing up.  “Doesn’t Anwyn remind you of Mom?” Anna asked me.  And, indeed she does. Not only her liveliness and inventiveness and non-stop enjoyment of EVERYthing, but I also saw Beeg in so many of Anwyn’s expressions and gestures.  Yet, ironically, Anwyn (whose name is a combination of Anna and Brongwyn) is the only one of Beeg’s seven grandchildren who was born after Beeg’s untimely death in 2015.

Or maybe the resemblance isn’t ironic at all.

The Elephant on Willapa Bay

Friday, July 13th, 2018

            Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, “Hey, there is an elephant in the village today.”
            They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, “Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway.” All of them went where the elephant was. Every one of them touched the elephant.
            “Hey, the elephant is a pillar,” said the first man who touched his leg.
            “Oh, no! it is like a rope,” said the second man who touched the tail.
            “Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree,” said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
            “It is like a big hand fan” said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
            “It is like a huge wall,” said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
            “It is like a solid pipe,” Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
            They began to argue about the elephant and every one of them insisted that he was right. It looked like they were getting agitated. A wise man was passing by and he saw this. He stopped and asked them, “What is the matter?” They said, “We cannot agree to what the elephant is like.” Each one of them told what he thought the elephant was like. The wise man calmly explained to them, “All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said.”
            “Oh!” everyone said. There was no more fight. They felt happy that they were all right.
 From the Equus website: https://wildequus.org/2014/05/07/sufi-story-blind-men-elephant/

 

Yesterday my cousin David came visiting.  We talked about family – about our grandfathers (who were brothers) and about our great-grandfather who settled here before there was Oysterville.  We talked about the neighbors who were here during our childhood and about the people and events who shaped our perceptions of this little village.  We talked about changing times, and transitions and civility.

What we didn’t talk about: elephants.

Memorial Weekend, 2018: Saturday Report

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Driving south on Pacific Hiway from Oysterville yesterday was a tad hazardous.  Every side street, or so it seemed, was marked by arrows and signs to garage sales, many of them obliterated by cars waiting to enter the traffic mainstream.  There wasn’t much waiting for a break – cars darted in and out, willy-nilly.  Definitely a day for defensive driving.

We reached Long Beach and the Pickled Fish without incident, though.  We were meeting Kay Buesing, her daughter Kim and son-in-law Bob for lunch – a long-time-no-see situation all the way around!  It was comfort food for all of us – pizza and cassoulets and mac ‘n cheese.  But, in reality, who noticed?  We were having so much fun catching up that the time flew by and the food just seemed to disappear!

It wasn’t a bit crowded – a ‘first’ for our visits there.  The rest of the world was apparently otherwise occupied, still hard at it in the quest for the perfect garage-sale item.  We covered all ‘the usual’ topics – what we’ve been doing, what our kids are doing, the changes on the Peninsula and in our world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And there was lots of catching up on the status of things.  Things like the Kite Museum that we really don’t keep up with now that Founder Kay has retired.  They still have no Director, apparently, and Patty Rolfe (bless her!) who was hired to run the gift shop, is holding down the fort.   But that has meant that new exhibits and programs and important kite contacts are on hold – or at least that’s what I surmised.  Kay was reluctant to talk about it.  I know the feeling…

Later in the afternoon, just as I was thinking about a nap before dinner, Cousin Abby came down from the Red House.  “I heard you might need a hug,” she said.  “Always!” was my response.  Her visit was the perfect ending to a day highlighted by friendship and fun!  When we take flowers up to the cemetery later today, I’ll have lots to share with the old folks…  I know they’ll be interested.

Not only had he been to Oysterville, but…

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

In Seattle Yesterday – Definitely Fake Sky

It was about three o’clock yesterday when the doctor came in to talk to us before Nyel’s ‘procedure’.  We were back at the University of Washington Medical Center, this time for a long-planned implant of a cardio mems into Nyel’s heart.

“It’s essentially an antenna,” said the doctor.  “It has no battery, no moving parts, nothing to go wrong.  It will stay with you forever.”  In conjunction with the pillow-like device (in its own rolling suitcase) that Nyel will rest against each morning, the CardioMems device will send information back to his doctor in Seattle concerning the pressures in his heart.  It’s a way to keep track of his congestive heart failure without those frequent trips to the hospital – a management-by-long-distance-method.  Or so we all hope.

The doctor had a sample one to device to us and explained how it would be inserted into an artery in Nyel’s heart.  They would go in through the right side of his neck and the device would be placed in an artery on the back of the left side of his heart.  The process would take about 45 minutes.  No anesthetic required; just a bit of numbing at the insertion site.  Wow!

CardioMEMS Sensor

 

“Will I be able to drive afterwards?” Nyel asked.  “Sure,” said the doctor.  “Where do you live?”

Usually, we respond “the Long Beach Peninsula.”  We’ve found that people from the big city are more likely to have heard of the general area – not necessarily our little corner of it.  But for some reason I said “Oysterville” and Dr. Wood’s eyes lit up.  “Have you been there?” I chanced.  “Actually, yes,” he said “a friend of mine has a house there.”  And I thought to myself, “Probably not.  Probably out in Surfside.”

Dr. Gregory Wood

Imagine my surprise when he said his friend was named Lexie.  “Lexie Hook Bemis?”  I asked.  “Yes,” he said.  “Brock and I were colleagues.”  We chatted then about my Red House Cousins, their wedding at Timberline Lodge (which we found we had all attended back in 2007), and how the Bemis family had moved to Sun Valley a few years back. And how things weren’t the same anymore.

It was one of those small world moments to the max.  There’s nothing like a shared memory to make you feel bonded – unless it might be having someone look (literally) right into your heart!  Wow!  What a world we live in!