Archive for the ‘Nyel Stevens’ Category

Where in the world is that top hat?

Sunday, June 12th, 2022

Sydney and Nyel (in top hat) Croquet Gala 1985

Miki came over from Astoria this morning bringing coffees and good energy and her usual practical words of wisdom!  I had asked her if she would help me pack of Nyel’s clothes for the Good Will.  “Sure!  When would be a good time?” was her always willing response.

We sipped our coffees and visited a bit and then got to work.  She had brought about a gazillion banana boxes for us to fill.  Meanwhile, I had called Rita and asked her if the Players would be interested in Nyel’s tux and cut-away and, also, his fencing togs and épée.  And maybe a hat or two.  “Yes!” was her response!  “those are ‘costume’ items and would definitely be a great addition to our costume collection.”  Nyel would be so pleased.

Sydney and Nyel (in top hat) Oysterville Sesquicentennial, 2004

I set aside a couple of shirts I think I’ll wear around the house now and then.  For warmth — of my soul, if not my body.  Cate came by and I offered her a shirt or two and a Levi jacket, too.  And Miki chose a few items she thought her husband would enjoy.  !

“Does it have to be Good Will?” she asked.   “There is a thrift store in…” But yes.  Nyel was all about the Good Will — he often looked for specific things there and that was always his go-to donation place.  Yes, it had to be Good Will.
As Miki left, Cate opened her laptop to go over Nyel’s obituary with me.  And her column which will be devoted (mostly) to him next week.  I didn’t cry.  Not then.

Peonies and Pictures and Pondering

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

From Fred and Vicki

The first bouquet came today and I could scarcely believe the two lovely peonies front and center.  Peonies!  Or Pea-own-knees, as Nyel was taught to call them by his Grandma Martha.  His favorite flower!  But they have always been a bit cranky about growing here in our mild climate.  Not like in Idaho.

“Put ice cubes around their base every morning,” someone said.  We didn’t but they grew anyway, even if ever so slowly.  “This year you’ll have a bumper crop,” I told Nyel. Lotsa buds but they’re even slower than usual.  When they finally come, the season will be long over.

From John Snyder

And how I’m enjoying the pictures of Nyel that friends are posting!  One from my former team-teaching mate, John Snyder.  It shows Nyel in front of our old “Bay House” probably in 1984 or 1985.  I’m not sure what he was doing — maybe transplanting a baby tree — but he sure was handsome!  And that never changed.

I remember that he planted a grove of alder trees just south of our road — transplanted the babies that would “grow into our wood lot,” he promised.  They did, but by then we had moved into town, into the family house.

They say that a house becomes a home after it has seen a wedding, a birth, and a death.  My great-uncle Cecil was married here in 1910 by my Grandfather, then the Justice of the Peace.  I don’t know that there has ever been a birth here — except for the batches of kittens that are periodically born underneath the once-upon-a-time parlor. (My grandmother went to Portland or Olympia to have her babies.)  And I’m not sure if anyone has ever died in these rooms.  Until yesterday.   So finally, after 153 years, is this officially a home?


Just the other day…

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022

Sydney and Nyel, 1986 — a Stan Thompson photo for the Observer

All the places we went.
All the meals we ate and all those he cooked!
All the laughter we shared.
All the people we enjoyed, learned from, loved.
Wasn’t it just the other day we met… back in 1984?

General Nyel, Farmer Nyel, Chef Nyel,
Husband, Friend, and kindest person I’ve ever known.
Nyel LeRoy Stevens, how blessed I was and am,
And now… how bereft.
Wasn’t it just the other day we celebrated with a bang?

Already there are things I need to tell him,
Like ORF accepting our gift of replacement lamps
And that Slutvana came looking for him tonight.
I wonder if he’ll always be here in my head
Making it all seem like just the other day…

BOOM! May 30, 2022 – Photo by Barbara Canney







Barb: My belated birthday present!!

Sunday, April 24th, 2022

Barbara Canney – From Her FB Site

For my 85th birthday in 2021, Nyel’s gift was to have my friend Barbara Canney of Cohasset, MASS, come and organize my files — computer files or hard copy files, my choice.

(Background: in 1980, my Uncle Willard arranged for Barb — who was about to begin her Senior Project at Evergreen — to come and catalogue the Espy Family Papers.  He agreed to pay her a stipend for one academic quarter; the project took her a year and a half and became the foundation for the Espy Archive, now housed at the WSHS Archive Center.  I was her “mentor” during that project… )

What a FABULOUS gift!  And who would be better qualified to dive into the morass that loosley qualify as “my files”?  In that long-ago year and a half that Barb was here, we became fast friends and have remained so — never mind that a continent and family obligations etc. etc. separate us.

The Canney Family, 2014

Unfortunately, though, Covid and other health issues have intervened and my gift has yet to be delivered, but… NOW, FINALLY Barb has her ticket and will arrive May 17th!  St. Patrick’s Day!  She’ll be here for a week and then her husband John will join her for a week-long vacation here in the place where they did their courting long ago.

I am SO excited!  Never mind that I need to organize my office so that Barb can organize my files.  And never mind that we’re not sure if she should start with documents or photographs.  And never mind that, like her initial work on the Espy papers, this week should segue into several years…  It’s a start.  And so much more!

My husband has the best idea for presents…ever!!!

One of the hardest parts…

Thursday, April 21st, 2022

Last week and this have been non-stop appointments for Nyel — all the medical, dental, and you-name-it-health-related folks wanting to weigh in on his status, needs, unkept appointments, new prescriptions, etc. etc. that you might imagine after his recent four weeks in the hospital.  We are both exhausted.

As it is with everything in life, each expert or professional considers that they are the ONLY one he needs to see.  It reminds me a lot of high school homework.  Every teacher seemed to consider that he or she was the only one who was giving you an assignment and god forbid you complain.  Especially if it was Mr. Dressier, the chemistry teacher, who might double the amount just because…

Mostly, we are both tired.  Today we tried to nap after lunch, only to be interrupted by a phone call from Dr. Trusted’s assistant wanting to change Nyel’s meds based on yesterday’s lab tests.  Unfortunately, the change would put him back to  a combination that landed him in the hospital in March.  Even more unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any alternatives left.  But… they are working on it.

Nyel, bless him, went right back to sleep.  That put me in mind of my old classmates who didn’t seem to mind the extra assignments.  (Actually, I think I was one of those.)  What a difference 65 or 70 years make!  But then, I always was cranky if my nap was interrupted…  My mother said that was the reason she quit giving me naps much earlier than most moms.  (My cousins said that’s why I’m so short.)

Goodbye to Little Red Hen

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

Nyel with Little Red Hen, 2012

Last night
Oh so lightly
She was breathing
Nestled among the cedar shavings
On the coop floor.

That she knew
Farmer Nyel was home
I have no doubt.
Chickens know more things
Than you would think.

Nyel and Little Red Hen

Nyel raised her
From a fluffy ball of yellow
And for ten years
They had a special bond,
Little Red Hen and Nyel.

I brought her to the house
So they could say “goodbye.”
Slutvana came, too —
Maybe for treats.

It’s often hard to tell with chickens.

“Reunion” in Oz – Day 21

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Jayden’s in South Bend

When I read the email from my friend Pat Moss yesterday morning saying she was going up to Seattle to the UW Medical Center and could she take anything to Nyel, my response was instantaneous.  “Yes!  Take me!!”  And then I asked, “When?” which, after all, was immaterial.  “Today,” was the answer.  “When can you get here?”  It was then 9 a.m.

I was in Ilwaco by 10:30, enough packed for two days and nights plus a library book Nyel wanted, some papers from Lum’s for him to sign and two or three of my wits along for good measure!  It was a leisurely trip up “the back way” with several stops enroute, including take-out sandwiches from Jayden’s in South Bend which were FABULOUS!  We caught the 4:15 ferry from Bremerton which put us in Seattle too late to visit Nyel that day, so here I am back at the Residence Inn.  I’ll catch the early morning shuttle to UWMC to see him.  Woot! Woot!

AND on that front… last evening the doctors began Nyel’s transition to oral meds so he can be untethered from the IV drips and, hopefully, stabilized and homeward bound in a few days.  I have alerted our “Beach-to-Oz Medical Transport” (Bill and Sue Grennan and their van) and it may well be that I’ll go home tomorrow with Pat and have only a day or two turn-around before coming back again to fetch Nyel and say farewell to Oz for a good long time (we hope.)

On The Ferry From Bremerton

On the home front:  As of last night, Carol W. reports that Little Red Hen is still hanging in — just sitting, almost comatose in the coop run.  On Teresa Millner’s suggestion, Carol made a mash of yogurt, poultry food, and water and took it to LRH.  “I stuck it under her beak so she could smell it and she began eating it right away,” Carol told me on the  phone.  “And Slutvana came right over to help her out!”  Nurse Carol left the bowl of mash with them so we will see what today’s report brings.

So, all-in-all, things are looking up for the Oysterville-Oz contingent.  We can’t thank all of you enough for your good thoughts, your prayers, and your encouraging words. We aren’t out of the proverbial woods quite yet but the clear skies over Willapa Bay are beckoning.  Stay tuned…

Report from Oysterville & Oz – Day 16

Friday, March 25th, 2022

We seem to be doing the two-step, Nyel and I.  For Nyel right now, it’s two steps forward, one step back.  And for me, it’s two steps this way and then two steps that way — not necessarily forward or back in either case.

Nyel is still gaining weight, even though he has been put on a liquid intake restricted to two liters per day.  That regimen, of course, supposes that someone is watching the amounts of liquid he’s getting — ice chips from the nurse, beverages accompanying his meals, sips of water with his pills, etc.  But… no one is monitoring or keeping track.  Not the kitchen, not the nurses, not the helpful nurses’ aides.  And certainly not Nyel.

And where is his cheerleader/advocate/unofficial Nurse Ratched?  Obviously not where she is needed.  Although I’ve been running around tending to business — a mammogram (all negative and benign), a trip to Strand Insurance to transfer our coverage to the new Prius, a stop at the library for a book Nyel reserved, and to the post office and to Penttila’s to check on a stone that we ordered long ago, and lots of facetime with my computer to catch up with writing chores, answer correspondence etc. etc. — my primary, number one, top-of-the-line priority is temporarily on the back burner.  I feel guilty.

Although I’d spoken with Nyel at least a half dozen times by 2:00, being an advocate (or sometimes a nag) is never as good long-distance as it is up-close-and-personal.  I must say, though, that he did address all of my concerns to his team of doctors, even though he wasn’t really sure they were important.  I’m happy to say that the doctors and I see eye-to-eye on advocacy issues and Nyel seems duly impressed.  He’s paying better attention…I think.  It’s hard to tell over the phone.

So there you have it.  No ETD yet.  Not for either of us.  Stay tuned.

Report from Oz & Oysterville – Days 14/15

Thursday, March 24th, 2022


So many of my readers have expressed concern these last few days when I have “skipped” an entry and for that I greatly apologize.  I can only attribute it to EO (Extreme Overload) and will catch you up the best I can.

First and most importantly — Nyel continues to make progress slowly and both he and the doctors have decided to “stay the present course” for a while longer.  The goal continues to be to get him as “dry” as possible using IV diuretics and other medications  (ever mindful of his endangered kidneys) until they feel they have reached their optimum effect and then switch to oral meds, hopefully keeping him stable so he can return home and cut the “IV umbellical cord” (so to speak).

Yesterday (or actually the night beforehand) they moved him up a floor — into another cardiac unit but for a reason that had naught to do with him.  They needed his  first room for a Covid patient for whom there was no space in the ICU.  There was little explanation for the move and Nyel, being Nyel, asked no questions.  I, on the other hand, had a gazillion of them and we finally learned that Nyel’s first room is a “Negative Pressure Room”  that keeps patients with infectious illnesses, or patients who are susceptible to infections from others, away from other patients, visitors, and healthcare staff.  Nyel did not need such a room and since there was an opening on the floor above…  voilà!

2022 Prius

As for me — I drove home yesterday from Seattle through patches of torrential rain.  Fortunately most of that came after I was out of the metro area and knew my way, whether or not I could actually read the signs.  Nevertheless, I was amazed that the trip took only a bit more than four hours and, mostly, that I arrived here in one piece!

Space Age Controls

My “to-do” list is lengthy and I’ve been working non-stop since I got here.  Today I spent four and a half hours at Lum’s completing the transaction for our new car — a 2022 mid-sized Prius, classic silver with black “leather-like” upholstery.  The drive home (with errands enroute) was an adventure, to say the least — where’s the hand-brake?  how the heck do you shift with a button gizmo?  where’s the cruise control — I know it’s here somewhere!  And thank goodness it’s not dark yet — there must be lights; isn’t it a law?  Mostly I lamented not having my navigator along to bolster my courage and clap and cheer that I made it (even into our garage!) without incident.
Oh… and I almost forgot.  It’ll parallel park for me, too!  (One more thing to figure out…)

And suddenly I realized… I have a column due tomorrow for next week’s paper!  YIKES!


Report from Oz — Days Twelve and Thirteen

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

The Big Reveal

At our request, the wizards — or, in our case Nyel’s doctors — spent extra time with us yesterday answering questions and giving us their best guesses for how Nyel’s future will unfold.  Basically, Nyel can stay in the hospital and they can keep trying to improve his situation, or he can go home and we can try to manage from there.  Either way, options are running out.  Two months?  Two years?  No way of knowing.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) Nyel could not hear a lot of the discussion — his head still feels “full of water” (a situation that may have to be left unresolved).  He was clear on the immediate choices, however, and is emphatic that he wants to stay here until the wizards can do no more this time around.    Too, given the choice of returning periodically, he feels he would like to continue his hospitalizations as they become necessary.  What a guy!

A Tough Day

When the room finally cleared and just the two of us were left, I asked how much he had been able to hear.  “Not much,” he confessed.  So I went over it all with him again.  About the time projections, he said, “Then, I’m dying?”

“We all are,” is the only answer I could think of to give him.  “We just don’t know when… and neither do you, when it comes right down to it.”  And there we left it, for now.  Thankfully, he slept better last night and his muscle cramping is a bit less severe.

And another day in Oz begins…