Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Happy Birthday, Tucker!

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Opa with Granddaughter Danielle, 2012

FaceBook reminded me this morning that it is Chester Wachsmuth’s birthday which I knew already but by one of his other names — Tucker!  I think he has about the most “active” names of anyone I know — or maybe “monikers” would be a better word.  Chester, Chet, Tuck, Tucker, Opa and probably others I’ve forgotten.  He says that as soon as someone calls him by name, he knows what period of his life he first knew them — as a schoolboy, a teenager, a young adult.  He is definitely a man of many names.

Tucker and His Toy Truck, 2016

He is also a man of many interests and talents — he’s a collector (an eclectic collector) of pinballs and maritime memorabilia and old stuff, in general.  He’s a sailor, a songwriter (lyrics only so far), a photogapher, a historian, a community leader, and a devoted husband, father and grandfather — an all around nice guy!

Plus, he is the best neighbor anyone could ask for.  He came at the drop of a hat whenever I called for help in Nyel’s final years and he’s always willing to change a lightbulb up near these 11-foot ceilings.  He’s seen to it that I am safe during power outages and keeps an eye on the house if I’m away.  And on and on.

Tucker and Carol, 2019

Plus he was wise enough fifty-some years ago to set his sights on Carol and she is the perfect “other half” of the Wachsmuth Team!  How much richer my life is for having the two of them as part of it!  I hope they know just a smidgen of the difference they have made to me and to so many of us.

So, Happy Birthday, Tucker!  I can scarcely believe that I was already twelve when you were born and that I spent another forty or fifty years not knowing you!  I’m so glad that situation has been remedied.



What a great title, Jim Tweedie!

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

You know, there are some things about this aging process that don’t bear thinking about.  Like the wonky ways of one’s memory.

Some years ago, Jim Tweedie asked me if I’d be willing to read a draft of his first book and, perhaps, write a foreword for it.  I remember both the reading and the writing very well — that I did those things, I mean.  But, when I ran across a pile of “new” books the other day with Jim’s (apparently) unopened book among them — Long Beach Short Stories: Possibly Untrue Tales from the Pacific Northwest — I had no memory of ever having read it.  None.

The cover looked vaguely familiar and I had a glimmer that Jim had handed it to me at a Vespers service a year or more before Covid shut us down.  Tucked between the first few pages was a note — also seemingly pristine and unread.  It was dated January 20, 2017 and began, “It suddenly occurred to me that I had not sent you a copy of my book — so here it is.”  The date made me wonder if my Vespers memory was right…

And there, right after the Table of Contents was a Foreword by Sydney Stevens dated “Oysterville, 2016.”  So… part of my memory is correct and I began to relax a little.  But as I started reading… not so much.  So far, I’ve read nine of the fourteen stories and, though it’s scary to admit, I don’t recognize a single one of them.  Not a plot.  Not a character.  Nada.

I took a break and re-read my Foreword.  In it, among other things I wrote, “I found his stories to be beguiling, enchanting, and challenging in ways I did not expect.”  That’s still absolutely true.  But where did the memory of them go after I read them?  And how did the Foreword disappear the same way?

James “Jim” A. Tweedie

I can’t decide if I owe Jim an apology for waiting so long to read his finished book and for completely forgetting its contents over the past seven years.   Or do I owe him a thank-you for writing a book that has obviously delighted me at least twice?

I’m going with the latter.  Thank you, Jim!  (And did I tell you, I love the title?)


Flowers, Cards, Books, and Candles…

Tuesday, February 28th, 2023

Birthday Flowers!

…to say nothing of phone calls and messages and lunch dates and laughter!  I guess not many people have had 87 birthdays so, the way I figure it, they wanted a little piece of my action.  And I was more than willing to share!

I had such a good time.  And it even snowed for me!  The first snowfall I ever remember on February 28th.  Of course, we did move from Newton Center, Mass, when I was three so I don’t know about those first three birthdays.  But I can tell you for sure that the next 84 birthdays in California’s Bay Area and on the banks of Willapa Bay were snow-free.

Birthday Candles and Books!

This morning, though, Carol and Tucker were visiting for a few minutes and Tucker, looking across the room and through the window and said, “It’s snowing!  And it’s so pretty!”

“It’ll be prettier through the east windows,” I said.  And it was.  So, we spent the next bit of time going from window to window comparing which view was the most beautiful — huge flakes everywhere, but not sticking anyplace.  We were so busy oohing and aahing, none of us took any pictures!

Birthday Cards!

Lunch at the pub with my good friend Miki.  Home to answer emails and phone messages and… oh my!  Too full of steak/frites to think about dinner.  A call from son Charlie and… tomorrow there will be more celebrating!  Hard to believe.

Birthday e-cards!

Thank you, everyone — for today and for all the yesterdays I have depended on you and the tomorrows that I will count on you.  You are the best!

So far… a day of ups and downs.

Friday, February 24th, 2023

Camellias – Lacking Their Uusual Vigor

The cold continues but at least the wind had died by morning leaving clear blue skies and bright sunshine.  I can’t say I went out and danced a wild fandango, but I did pick a few very puny camellias to put in the silver bowl in the library.  And I struggled forth with a few sticks of wood that I have no confidence will burn.  So much for the Outdoor Activity Program.

Bright and early I was at the Hair Tender in Long Beach for my last nail appointment in that venue.  The shop is being packed up and will be empty as of March 1st.  After 32 years in the business, Gina still is without a new home — her needs are specific and, so far, the right place hasn’t shown up.  Paul’s Memorial Service is  tomorrow and somehow my wishful thinking kicks in and hopes that by then Gina’s problem will be solved.

I turned on the radio on my way home — just in time to hear the inimitable Geno Leech reading a new poem honoring an old friend/fisherman/fisher-poet who died recently.  (I may have that wrong.  I tuned in just after the introduction.)  Geno, as usual was magnificent.  I had to pull over so I could give him my undivided attention.  What a fabulous talent that guy has!  And I know I don’t have that wrong.

A stop at the Post Office but no mail today — weather problems with flights and delivery trucks.  Then home to spiff up the house a bit for the Friday Nighters — emphasis on “a bit” and then back to the computer to do a couple more short “Saints or Sinners?” stories to send Matt. (Did I tell you that he is going to run one a week starting next week?  Or that’s the plan, anyway.)

Two Years Ago, Camellias More Robust – But Weren’t We All!

But as sometimes happens, I found myself spinning my wheels — lamenting Paul, worrying about Gina, cheering for Geno and all our other talented poets and musicians…  And then a phone call from friends across the river asking me to a pre-birthday lunch.

Things are definitely looking up!

The Mystery Pot and… Other Gifts Of Unknown Origin

Monday, February 6th, 2023

Mystery Box and Contents

The package was left on my porch table one evening last week by UPS — a neat Amazon Prime carton addressed to me.  I hadn’t ordered anything, at least not lately, but my memory is sometimes a bit wonky these days, so what the heck!

Inside I found another box — this one containing a Hamilton Beach Glass Kettle!  It was nothing I had ordered and, look though I might, I found no indication as to who had sent this to me.  I re-packaged it and put it in the back-forty, waiting for enlightenment.  Somehow, it didn’t feel quite right to accept a gift from an unknown benefactor.  And, basically, I felt there had been a mistake.

And speaking of “unknown benefactors” — I seem to have acquired more than one.  I love the thought and the intent (I think) but I do draw the line at food offerings.  Every once in a while I come home to a neatly packaged item — usually a “sweet” — waiting for me by the front door.  No name.  No indicators of who left it.

Last week it was a delicious looking brownie and another chocolaty confection.  They were sitting on a lovely flowered paper plate and neatly wrapped in a clear plastic food wrap.  After checking all my message sources (and aren’t there a lot of them these days?  FB and Email and telephone messages…) and finding nothing about food delivery, I pitched it unopened into the garbage.  Sorry, whoever-you-are, but my mother’s words came back loud and clear:  “Never accept food from strangers.”  And without an ID on the gift, I felt a tad uncomfortable.

So far, I haven’t had a clue as to my brownie philanthropist.  But yesterday I did receive a call from friends Randal and Susan in Olympia to see if the glass kettle had arrived.  “Oh!!  I wondered who sent it,” I said.

“Didn’t they include a note?  I tried to be very clear about that because I knew it might be a problem…” Randal told me.  “Yep.  I came ‘that close’ to sending it back…” and in the ensuing discussion, he convinced me to give it a try.  So I am doing so, but I’m still weighing pros and cons. Bottom line, I guess I’m a bit set in my ways and probably independent-to-a-fault!   I’m working on it…

Oysterville Christmas Turns Exotic!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

Christmas Cheer in Oysterville!

Oh my goodness!  An orchid in my living room at Christmas!  In my mind (and experience), it doesn’t get much more exotic than that!  Not here in Oysterville, anyway!  And certainly not in this old house.  I am gobsmacked!

For several years now, my neighbor Linda — who lives some of the time in far off Oregon (and wrongly in my opinion) — has stopped on her way to the beach at her favorite Trader Joe’s and picked up a couple of those waxed amaryllis plants at this time of year — one for her and one for me and probably others, as well.  Care free, fast growing, with bright red blossoms in time for Christmas.  Yesterday she called as she came through Long Beach.  “Are you home?  I’m dropping off our annual Christmas flower but they didn’t have any amaryllis this year.  So we are each having a white Christmas!”

Memories of Vanda Orchid Corsages…

Orchids!!  A gorgeous white spray of orchids — on the hoof!  The only orchids I’ve ever really experienced (besides seeing them in the wild in Hawaii) are those small, purple orchids (Vandas?) that were so popular for corsages in the 1950s.  If you got one of those (instead of baby roses or carnations) it was almost a declaration of true love!  But, although I do remember keeping those corsages in the refrigerator long after the prom — why? I wonder now.  Sentiment, I guess. They weren’t alive and I didn’t really have to worry about them… but I oohed and aahed over them for a long, long time.

An Exotic White Christmas!

Yesterday, after this gorgeous spray’s arrival, I went straight to my computer and looked up how to care for it.  Wow!  Misting and spraying and soaking the roots and feeding it special orchid food!  I right away spoke to it up-close-and-personal and told it I would do my best but not to have very high expectations — especially not beyond Christmas.

Meanwhile, though…  I feel that little glow of high school prom love!  And for the first time in all my years, a walk through my Oysterville living room feels like a vacation in the tropics!  Wow!

And not a buckshot to be found!

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

Dinner On The Way!

My duck-hunting neighbor came by yesterday with three duck breasts ready for cooking!  “I know Nyel loved these,” he said, “but what about you?”

.  I told him I was, indeed, a fan of wild duck but since Nyel was the chef, I wasn’t so sure I could do them justice.  “Do you have a good recipe?” I asked.

“Yes.  It’s from your cousin, David Williams…” and he proceeded to tell me.  Heavy skillet, olive oil, sliced onions, breast meat sliced to one-eight of an inch or so and voilà!  The secret — lay the breasts on a plate in the freezer and bring them to “not quite” freezing so they’ll slice easily.  A sharp knife (which I don’t really have) helps, too.

I wonder if my mouth was watering right out loud!  “I got all the feathers and I think all the buckshot but… be careful,” he cautioned as he waved goodbye.

I felt a bit insecure about following the directions but, when all was said and done, I think Nyel would have been proud!  A tossed green salad, steamed rice, and duck breasts fit for a queen — with enough left over for another meal today.  Absolutely delicious!!!  And not a buckshot or a feather to be found!

…and leftovers for lunch!

And perhaps the best part of all was the connection I felt to my mother and grandmother and great-grandmother, all of whom, I’m sure, opened their front doors to the generosity of Oysterville duck hunters.

Quick! I hope there’s time to check it twice!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

It’s been happening for a while now.  Ever since retirement, I’d say.  Suddenly the end of November is upon us and Christmas is already demanding our full attention.  There’s the Naughty’n’Nice List to double-check, the gifts to gather and wrap and beribbon, the baking to be done, the house to decorate — maybe even outside as well as in! — the events to attend — and the loved ones to gather close.  Oh my!

The question that always nags at me is how in the world we did all that and worked, too, back in our salad days.  Especially those of us who taught little ones.  Multiply the paragraph above by at least two — you know, the classroom to be decorated (and the halls and the gym) and the Christmas program to plan and the rehearsals and secrets and… oh yes.  Be sure to stay on track with all those curriculum requirements.  Bless all of you teachers who are still carrying on — and I think it’s probably way more complicated these days.  Can we even call it “Christmas” or is everything a “Winter” celebration or ????

As I reflect on all of that, my own little holiday plans seem much more manageable.  And, wonder of wonders, good friends have offered help — to climb-that-ladder-to-adorn-the-top-of-that-ten-foot-tree kind of help.  I feel teary with gratitude and Christmas spirit.  And I’m here to reassure you that even though these holidays are bittersweet, they have their own special comforts and delights for us old folks!

Tiny Tim had it just right when he said, “God bless us every one!”

An Adventure for the Non-adventurist!

Saturday, November 19th, 2022

The Bowline Hotel, Astoria

I’m not what you would call an adventurous eater.  Or so it would seem after yesterday’s experience at Tiffany and Brady’s newest pub and eatery, The Knot Bar at The Bowline Hotel in Astoria.  (Don’t hold me to that “newest” comment — I honestly can’t keep up with their cutting edge entrepreneurship — a latest count includes the Adrift Hotel, Long Beach; Adrit Distillers, Long Beach; Inn at Discover Coast, Long Beach; Pickled Fish Restaurant, Long beach, Boardwalk Cottages, Long Beach; Ashore Hotel, Seaside; the Shelburne Hotel Seaview and now the Bowline Hotel and Knot Bar in Astoria.)  And to think I knew Tiffany when she was in the second grade class across from mine at Ocean Park School!  She was a force to reckon with then, as well!  And the Tiffany-Brady alliance seems to know no boundaries!

But… back to The Knot.  In all fairness, it is an “eatery” last — or so I see it.  First:  THE VIEW — right on the river’s edge within hailing distance of passing ships and  just westward of a gentle bend that provides a view of Astoria’s intriguing shoreline and ever-changing cityscape.  And second — A BAR which is more about beverages than snacks, although their website says this:
Locally sourced food and classic cocktails pair with post-industrial aesthetics…Our cocktails are handcrafted and celebrate local distilleries. The food menu is Scandinavian-inspired and pays homage to our community’s seafood history…

My Bloody Mary came with a small garni of celery and a generous piece of beef jerky on a cocktail swizzle (which I finally managed to extricate in multiple pieces.}  The menu, divided into four categories: “Snacks,” “Small Plates,” “Plates,” and “Sweets” was exotic (by my standards) and made for difficulty in choosing.  The listings, all spendy, included Foie Gras Tart, Beef Tartare, Bitter Greens, Sliced Duck Breast, Sweet Carrot Crepe Cannelloni and many many others.

I finally had the celery root soup which was served with flair from a glass flute (about cup-size) into a large bowl at the table.  Michael, who ordered the same thing,  explained the lukewarm quality — the individual serving of piping hot soup was decanted into bowl just out of the freezer.  With it, I had and a side of bread which was a very generous serving (four slices, I think) with butter. (Nothing special, but I freely confess, Nyel spoiled me for life in the Bread Department.)

Entrance to The Knot at The Bowline

The best part of the meal — visiting with old, dear friends and having the lounge completely to ourselves.  I understand it’s “jumping” during the evening cocktail hour but if you’re looking for a place for a noontime tête-à-tête with a view to die for — The Knot at The Bowline is just the place to put down your mid-day anchor!

P.S.  I won’t be offended if you tell me I’m showing my age.  It’s been on raging display for some time!  And aren’t I the luckiest “Old Broad” (Gordon’s pet name for me) in the world to have wonderful friends who keep me up-to-date and well-nourished?

Friends, food, flowers! Repeat!

Saturday, September 10th, 2022

From Leigh

It’s Saturday and another week is ending — the thirteenth full week since Nyel left us.  It’s been a week of visiting and catching up — friends from Astoria, from Seaside, from Seattle, even from Nahcotta and Long Beach.  They’ve brought flowers, taken me to lunch, and dropped by for tea.  Each day has brought splendid remembrances of past adventures and many promises of more  delights to come.  How lucky I am!

From Lana Jane and Paul

And tomorrow — brunch at the home of friends who, though newish in our lives, had already begun to build memories that included Nyel.  It all reminds me of that song I used to sing with my 1st/2nd/3rd graders at the beginnings of most years:

Make new friends
But keep the old,
One is silver,
And the other, gold.

Tuesday, September 13th would have been our thirty-fifth anniversary.  I’m sure that it never occurred to either of us that we would get so close to such a milestone!  How lucky we were!  And how fortunate I am, still.  If you are among the many to whom I  haven’t given a direct “thank you,” please know that it’s a totally unintentional oversight!  I am ever grateful to each and every friend — for your sustaining thoughts, your heartfelt laughter, and for the memories that we are lucky enough to share. (more…)