Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Wow, Fred Carter! Just… WOW!

Monday, February 26th, 2024

Fred Tunes His 37 Strings!

As promised, Fred arrived a bit early on Sunday.  He and Vicki unloaded and unloaded and unloaded their vehicle — three guitars, one banjo, one dobro, one mandolin  — plus his spiffy ipad that has all the words. a stool of just the right height and a mystery box (that I, for one, didn’t really notice until well into the second set.) He got right to work — tuning all 37 strings!

And the audience began arriving.  And arriving.  And arriving.  We had to get more chairs and even snagged a couple of tall stools from the kitchen.   A FULL house!  Forty counting me (but not Fred.)  I probably didn’t keep a well-updated list — I thought we had 30 coming.  I couldn’t have been more pleased!

Fred played each of his instruments and told a little about it — including the cigar box guitar — an unusual six-string one — made for him by a luthier who lives here on the Peninsula.  Except the box.  He said nothing about it until into the second set when he just picked up and began the wild beat that accompanies “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”  It brought down the house!

And someone brought the most gorgeous roses — forgive me but I’ve forgotten who!

Apparently, Fred had had a number of requests ahead of time — mostly music from the ’60s era. And mostly love songs.  I don’t think there was a dry eye when he dedicated “Look At Us” by Vince Gill to Vicki in honor of Valentine’s Day just past — their 35th together.  He had dedicated the entire concert to those with February Birthdays (my request, as mine is the 28th and neighbor Sandra’s is the 29th.)

Only one other in the crowd — Ray Hansen from Utah — admitted to a birthday this month and I’m not sure if he requested anything special.  Sandra did, however, even though she was unable to be at the concert.  “I was born in the year of the dragon and this is the year of the dragon,” she told me.  So, as his next to last number, Fred played “Puff the Magic Dragon” and we all joined in!

The last number was for Nyel — “Don’t Let The Old Man In,” Toby Keith’s theme song for Clint Eastwood’s 2018 movie “The Mule.”  Fred came with his guitar all the way to St. Vincent’s Hospital that year after Nyel’s final surgery to play it for him and has played it at every musical gathering here since then.  Thank you, dear Fred.  My heart runneth over.

We were a fishy threesome at dinner tonight!

Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

February 22, 2024

Martha, Sydney, Rose

It was Martha’s idea and, I must say, it was a great one.  She suggested that Rose and she and I all go out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays.  We are all Pisces and so, for starters (for this blog, not for our dinner) I took a look at a succinct definition of our sign:

Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
Pisces, a water sign, is the last constellation of the zodiac. It’s symbolized by two fish swimming in opposite directions, representing the constant division of Pisces’s attention between fantasy and reality. As the final sign, Pisces has absorbed every lesson — the joys and the pains, the hopes and the fears — learned by all of the other signs. This makes these fish the most psychic, empathetic, and compassionate creatures of the astrological wheel. With such immense sensitivity, Pisces can easily become swallowed by emotions and must remember to stay grounded in the material realm (appropriately, Pisces rules the feet).

Hmm.  Yes, I remember all that from “back in the day” — the ’60s and ’70s in California when “What’s your sign?” was the quintessential question when meeting a member of the opposite sex.  I thought it was pretty lame then and I still feel that way — possibly because I’m not especially psychic, empathetic or compassionate and staying grounded has never been a problem for me.  At least not from my own perspective!

I  wish we had talked a bit about that over dinner.  I’d like to know how Martha and Rose perceive themselves (and me) in terms of that traditional Pisces definition. But we never did get around to our mutual sign, though we seemed to talk non-stop.  We discussed food, of course, (giving the restaurant a mixed review) and travel, education and the wildlife refuge,  heritage trees and true crime stories in Pacific County History!

Martha had a “fortune” for each of us, too. Mine said: “the best is yet to come.”  I think I said, “I doubt that” which led to our few comments about men and marriage.  We agreed we should do it again —  have dinner, not get married!  Maybe we’ll try a place across the river next time.  Oh and did I mention that Martha chauffeured us, as well!   What fun!

Am I or am I not? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Today I went to lunch with an old, dear friend.  We were celebrating both our birthdays which are three days apart, though there is also a slight matter of ten years between us.  (Funny how those years make less and less difference as we age.)  We don’t get many chances to get together these days and it was a wonderful treat just to have time to “catch up.”

During the course of the conversation, she mentioned that I was outspoken — not in a critical way, but in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice.  I wasn’t exactly shocked…  Well, maybe a little.  Me?  Outspoken?  “Yes,” she insisted, “you always seem to say what you are thinking.”  (Lordy, lordy, what a jumble that must be, I thought.  But I didn’t say it out loud!)

When I got home, I went straight to my handy-dandy computer dictionaries and found these definitions from various sources:
1. Someone who is outspoken gives their opinions about things openly and honestly, even if they are likely to shock or offend people.
2, unrestrained in speech; frank.
3. spoken boldly or candidly.
4. uttered or expressed with frankness or without reserve.

Robert Burns

Oh my!  I’m not sure I like any of those definitions overly much — at least not when applied to myself.  Two quotations instantly came to mind.  The first by one of my favorite poets, Robert “Rabbie” Burns:
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
Is my friend’s observation what everyone sees in me?

And the second thought — one of the few pieces of advice my mother ever gave me:  “When you speak, speak the truth.  But don’t always speak.”

I think I’ve failed on both counts.  Certainly I’ve never seen myself as “outspoken” — in fact I often chide myself for being too timid to speak out.  And, although I do try to speak the truth, I think I don’t do so often enough and not always when it most matters.

I wonder if this lunchtime comment will end up being a game-changing revelation.  Will I be more chaste of tongue and increasingly keep my thoughts to myself?  Or is there another proverb that may take over at this point?  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…”


Grief Therapy? Try working on your income tax!

Monday, February 12th, 2024

February 12, 2024

Published in 1998 “Thank you for giving Lottie a home,” the letter said.

“They” say the grieving process can take two years or more.  Some say there are five stages to get through.  Some say there are seven.  And dealing with a suicide, they say, is different.  No one talks about a double suicide, perhaps as many as ten years in the planning, to be done when both parties were “at the top of their game” and “in the peak of health” with everything pre-arranged right down to leaving their home to their cat-sitter so the cats would have the security of a home they had known for years.  And the provision for friends — a letter mailed to arrive after it was all a done deal.  My letter began, “Dear Sydney, It’s time to say goodbye.” Followed by a few thank yous for shared good times and favors.  Handwritten on a page from a lined yellow note pad.  Two signatures.  Over and out.  No forewarning — not ever.

Birthday Visitors- August 2017

Depending on whose list you look at, the first stage in grieving should be “shock” or “denial.”  Sorry.  Once again, I don’t fit the mold.  My reaction was anger pure and simple.  It still is — with quite a dollop of bitterness.  All I could/can think about is what a selfish, uncaring thing to do.  And why did they tell Nyel (and me) so many times that they admired how we dealt with his years of illness and injury?  Admired us?  Or thought we were examples of what they chose not to deal with?  Certainly we weren’t “the role models” they said we were.  They were liars.  Frauds.  Not the good friends we thought they were.

On Two Legs with Michael and Petra, 2014

Still… I’m trying to cut them a little slack.  Perhaps they didn’t truly believe (though they said they did) that we are all connected — that our lives and the way we live them are intertwined on this earth — that we need one another and that faith and charity and all the rest of it can only be expressed with and to the rest of humanity.  How selfish to check out when they were in their prime, flipping off those of us who loved them.  Yes, I’m angry.  I doubt that I’ll ever move past that.

Or, actually, maybe I have already done so — if there’s a stage of grief called irony.  When the letter arrived, I had just begun to pull together all those pieces of “stuff” that I need to send my CPA.  Yes!  It’s income tax time and as I work on it I wonder if that was one of the many things they “took care of” before they checked out. Or did they just blow off that responsibility along with their friendships?  Was their grand gesture just a giant copout?  (If you are tempted to answer… don’t.)  We were good friends (or so I thought) for a quarter of a century and for almost half that time they were secretly planning their time “to say goodbye.”


Judge not…

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

Consensual co-suicides.
A long time in the planning.
Only a few friends knew.
Thank goodness I wasn’t one,

They wanted to take their leave
When they were both still healthy,
Still enjoying life. and with money to leave behind.
And the hell with the rest of us?


I guess so.
They said over and over how brave Nyel was.
Maybe.  But maybe he was just honorable — thinking of how it would be for the rest of us,
For those who loved him,

Do we  really have free choice?
As in flipping off the rest of the world when it suits us?
For me, there is only one stage of this “grief.”
Anger.  Or perhaps this isn’t grief at all.


Tomorrow! It’s Fred Carter in Ocean Park!

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024

If there are two things that definitely belong together, it’s music (especially of the acoustic variety) and books.  So what could be better than an afternoon of “acoustic guitar music with local musician Fred Carter” at the Ocean Park Timberland Library.  I can’t imagine that any of my readers don’t know — but just in case —  “Fred plays a variety of mid-century American and British rock and folk music.”  Well, that’s what the Library’s webpage says. but if you know Fred, that word “variety” doesn’t really cut it.  Fred can play almost ANYthing.  Once he has heard it, he can play it — a remarkable gift indeed.

And as for the acoustic part… well, that’s been a continuing “discussion” between Fred and myself for some time now.  I am not of fan of amplified/electrified/plugged-in music and so I’ve been pretty tight about keeping the House Concerts here acoustic-only venues.  It’s an ongoing (and fairly civil) argument that Fred and I have, and I must say that he has always gracefully adhered to my wishes in his concerts here. I was delighted to read that his gig tomorrow at the O.P. Library will be acoustic (and honestly, Fred, I wasn’t given any opportunity to influence anyone!)

He’ll be playing from 2:00 to 3:30 tomorrow — I imagine in the Meeting Room at the Library, although I went to an Aaron English concert there years ago in the computer room as I remember.  But I don’t think Fred will be hard to find.  Follow the crowd!  Better yet, get there early to get a good seat.  Right next to me!


Our “Dressy-Uppy” Friday Night Gathering!

Friday, December 22nd, 2023

Tucker and His Sleigh Bells

There were sleigh bells!  Music and singing!   Glitz and glamour! And there was food and drink and laughter and fun.  It was a perfect holiday get-together!

I didn’t count how many folks were here — enough to spread out from dining room (where the food was) to living room (where the music was) to the library (where the conversations were) to the East Room (where the Christmas tree and wind-up toys and Millennial Creche were.)

And talk about Dressy-Uppy! Way to go, Bill!

Tucker joined Cate and Fred singing “Silent Night” in German.  Nanci Main and I talked about the traditions of tinsel–one strand at a time is the rule!  Carole wore  her very first knitting project — a darling scarf around her neck that was just right for “dressy-uppy.”  And even though it seems that Charlie is here so seldom, he knows almost everyone — which I guess happens when forty years of even sporadic visits occur!  I’m so glad!

Once again, I was thankful that Nyel and I dreamed up our “Friday Night” tradition all those years ago.  And I love it that so many friends continue to enjoy our get-togethers, too!  Friendship!  It’s what makes life worthwhile!



Today we said “goodbye” to Lee Crowley.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023

Lee Paul Crowley left us on December 13th.  His funeral was today at the Peninsula Church Center — well attended as you might imagine.  Lee had lived here for his entire 86 years.  But, for that very reason, there weren’t as many people as you might expect — so many have gone on before him.

Even I missed his service — a doctor’s appointment, wouldn’t you know.  But I made it to the reception at the Cranberry Museum in plenty of time to give Melinda a hug and to meet so many of their friends and relatives who had gathered to remember and to reminisce.

I’m not even sure how long I’d known Lee.  It wasn’t for very many years and for that I’m sorry.  And yet, in a small community like ours, I felt connected.  He was named after his parents’ all-time favorite Peninsula doctor, Lee Paul.  That’s a name I grew up with in a way, for even though Dr. Paul was gone from here long before I was born (and before Lee was born, too), my mother often spoke of him.  If there was a serious problem, he would come to Oysterville (on his horse, if I remember the stories correctly.)  Otherwise, he’d speak to my grandmother (who had seven youngsters) over the telephone, she telling symptoms and what she thought should be done, he agreeing or adjusting and often “deputizing” her to involve the school teacher if the ailment was running rampant among the village children.  Dr. Paul was a demi-god in my mother’s childhood.  And some of that rubbed off a bit by osmosis when I finally met his namesake.

Too, my friend-since-childhood here in Oysterville, Larry Freshley,  was in the same class as Lee — two years behind me, I think.  Although I did go to 7th grade here, I was at Ocean Park School while Larry was in 5th grade in Oysterville and Lee was probably at Long Beach School… and yet, we had mutual friends because that’s the way it is on the Peninsula.

I’ll miss the twinkle in Lee’s eyes and his gentlemanly ways.  I’ll miss his determination, his perseverance, and his kindness.  I’ll miss the times Nyel and I went to breakfast at the 42nd Street Cafe with Lee and Melinda and Ardell and Malcolm… Nyel and Lee stoic about their physical ailments, but always ready to give one of the rest of us a bad time about something.

Missing our friends and loved ones.  It’s the hardest part of growing old.


Bit by bit… here comes Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

First came the amaryllis from Linda Schleef — still only a few inches high and tightly in bud.  That was almost two weeks ago and today… voilà!  The first two flowers have burst forth in all their glory and two more buds are growing ever higher to join them in Christmas splendor!

And then there was the pile of cedar boughs — trimmings, really — from Tammy and Artie Foes.  They arrived on my porch table last Saturday and bit-by-bit I’ve been decking the halls with their fragrant greenery.  It’s a work in progress, as they say, and today I added the delicate little paper angels so beautifully made by Heidemarie who is Tucker’s cousin Manfred’s girlfriend in Germany.  Each angel is handcrafted from printed paper (perhaps a magazine?) — such a lovely addition to my Oysterville Christmas each year.

Today, too, I unwrapped the Millennial Creche that Charlie added to our Christmas traditions some years back.  I don’t know which of the  familiar characters (so unconventionally portrayed) is my favorite.  Perhaps, this year, it’s “Joseph” with his long hair and cell phone trying to capture “Mary” with her Starbucks coffee cup and the “Baby Jesus” in his straw-lined cradle.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish decorating the tree that Patricia Fagerland so beautifully lighted for me today.  I had asked if she would help me with the lights before I had purchased the tree, thinking that I’d need someone who was fine with ladders.  As it turned out, though, the tree is short and squat — not exactly a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  Perhaps more a Lucy Van Pelt tree — certainly not what you would call tall and graceful.  Still, the lights were a bigger challenge that either Patricia or I thought.  Hard to believe it took five strands of lights rather than the one we both thought would do the trick.  Talk about girthy!

And here I was, dreading the idea of getting the house ready for Christmas!  So far, it’s been one joyous memory after another — so many friends who have had a part in Christmases past and are filling my heart with happiness once again.  ‘Tis the season for sure!

“Past Perfect” — and indeed it was!

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023

Alice Holm’s Year-End Remembrance Card given to each student.

During the last half of his long life, my uncle Willard Espy worked periodically on a book about his own growing-up years in Oysterville.  The tentative title was “Past Perfect” and each time he was out here on vacation from his home in New York, he would work on it a bit more — often collecting reminiscences from family members or neighbors who could fill in the forgotten cracks for him.

Today, I came across the notes from his first teacher, Alice Holm.  Miss Holm taught the primary grades during the years that Oysterville had so many school-aged children that there were actually two schools in the village.  The four youngest of the seven Espy children went to their first three years of school there and Miss Holm, who was about ten years younger than my grandmother, became a lifelong family friend.  This is her memory of Oysterville written long after those teaching years here:

Yes, I remember Oysterville.  I remember it began where you turned the corner of the Nelsons’ white picket fence where the “lay-locks” (says Charley) bent over the gate, and with the other flowers, bubbled and bloomed in profusion.  I remember the bay that spread out on the right in its Sunday evening quiet splendor.  Then, looking up the one wide tree-bordered street, I remember that elusive something that suggested the passage of time — centuries — and the never-failing twinge of melancholy that swept over me in spite of rich contentment.
I remember the old church in its soft hues and mellow tones, the high-backed pews, the worn-out hymnals, the organ, none too cooperative, and the groups that gathered there.  There were visiting ministers and speakers as well as the saddle-back divine who came on horseback to save our souls.

Yes.  Past Perfect!