Archive for the ‘Nyel’ Category

Going Through a Bad Patch

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Another Ironing Day

It’s been a hard week in our corner of Oysterville.  I can tell — not because the days have been long and hard and full of pain and sickness, but also bccause my “daily” blog hasn’t been seen or heard from since June 3rd.  And, I ask you this:  which is harder — to suffer pain yourself, or to watch a loved one struggle in agony and be unable to help?

Napkins, Pillow Cases, Ironing Oh My!

I suppose I’ve spent my time doing what women everywhere do (or at least once did) when they cannot ease the suffering of a child or mate.  I ironed.  Yes, I still do that now and then.  The linen napkins, the pillow cases (but never the sheets), and once in a while (like now) the frilly lace collar and bodice of an old-timey costume I might wear again sometime.  You never know.

I used to iron in earnest — if you can count ironing to earn your allowance when you are in high school.  Even my father’s dress shirts and, of course, my own calf-length (never shorter!) peasant skirts and tailored white blouses with Peter Pan collars.  I believe I earned the grand sum of $2.50 each week for my labors.  It took a lot of ironing to save enough for those cashmere sweaters that were all the rage in the early 1950s!

Sleeping Nyel

These days, though, I iron for the pure pleasure of it — a rather mindless activity that gives me time to think (or not!) — perhaps to work out the “what comes next” parts or perhaps to think of new ways to solve old problems.  Whatever goes on in my head probably isn’t worth recounting — even if I could remember.  But, as usual, I feel rested and renewed from the activity and… look at all those crisp stacks of napkins and pillow cases that seemed to stack up effortlessly.

But… the ironing is caught up now for another season or two.  Oh how I wish we were through this bad patch as well!

It’s lambykins for dinner! Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

Gerbera Daisy — Beloved by Deer and Slugs and ME OH MY!

This day went by in a flurry. First I was late with my morning call to Barbara Canney in Cohasset who said, “OMG!  I thought you might have gone to church!”  We laughed and I recalled the time that my dad thought Charlie really needed to know about church attendance.  So he took Charlie on Easter Sunday to Grace Cathedral on San Francisco’s Nob Hill for the “full meal deal.”  Charlie was ten.  Grandpa loved every minute of it but as I remember Charlie was silent on the matter.  Charlie’s next “church experience” was six or seven years later when he was visiting his father in NYC and went to see “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The Cutest Easter Bunny Rab EVER – By Nanci Main

Our friends Petra and Michael came by — brought us smoked salmon and stories and lots of laughter. It was so lovely to see them!  Then Nyel got busy making dinner.  The plan was to eat at four o’clock.  As I write this, it is six-oh-one and the lamb has just gone into the oven.  Yes! A four pound leg of lamb, boned and rolled that I picked up at Gulley’s Butcher Shop in Astoria yesterday.  Nyel specified what he wanted over the phone and my mouth has been watering ever since!

Chef Nyel and The Lambykins!

To add to the ambience of Easter and the season — a lovely Gerbera Daisy from Pat Fagerland that will go into the garden when danger of frost is over (as in WHEN do you think THAT might be.)  AND the sweetest Easter Bun Rab in town from Nanci Main — I know the bread will be delicious but can we really cut into this cute little fellow?

Happy Easter Everyone!  I hope yours is as memorable as ours promises to be!


At Long Last!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Nyel – April 5, 2020

Nyel is home and all is right with my world!!  Never mind that Little Red Hen is hardly moving at all.  And never mind that I managed to get almost-but-not-quite-all of the corrections that I wanted on the visuals for The Ghostly Tales of The Long Beach Peninsula.  And never mind that the Espy/Schreiber Family Reunion tentatively scheduled for the first week in July is in a bit of a state of flux.  Nyel is home and all is right with my world!!

Sue and Bill (Grennan, not Svendsen lest there be any confusion) picked me up at eight yesterday morning.  We had a lovely lunch at Elmer’s just off I-5 in Tacoma and I was in Nyel’s room five minutes before they had his final discharge papers and meds ready to go.  We boogied on home and were inside our house by five o’clock!  Bill (Bless him!) did all the driving while Sue supplied snacks and stories and good cheer both coming and going.

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

Nyel is a shadow of his former self — 145 pounds by our scales.  For fun I looked up what the average person should weigh according to their height.  This is what I found:  For women, the ideal weight is 105 pounds for 5 feet of height, and 5 pounds for every inch after. For men, it’s 106 pounds at 5 feet and 6 pounds for every inch taller. Those are for medium-framed people. Some adjustments are made if you’re larger-framed or smaller-framed.  

For me at 5’2″, that worked out to 115 pounds — 10 pounds lighter than I am now and 15 pounds heavier than I was 40 years ago when Nyel and I met.  For Nyel at 6’2″, it worked out to 190 pounds which is just about what he was during his “prime” (and how I remember him from plummier times.)  Today, his appetite is better than it was in the weeks before he went into the hospital, so we are hopeful that he can gradually put on a few pounds.  Seconds on ice cream?  Thirds? You betcha!

Wedding Portrait – September 13, 1987

Last night he gloried in uninterrupted sleep — no  being poked by needles, changing batteries in his heart monitor, being wakened at 4:00 a.m. to be weighed etc.  Then, breakfast in bed and back to sleep for four hours more!  After a very late lunch we took a little drive in the Prius, went to Jack’s to replenish our ice cream supply and will have a late steak dinner… just because we can!

My list of thank-yous to people is without end — for cards and messages sent; for food and limitless TLC for us both; for cheering and uplifting words and prayers.  We are ever grateful to each and every one of our wonderful friends, neighbors, even strangers who have reached out during this past difficult month.  Blessings to all of you!

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!

Oz, O’ville, & bad juju you betcha-Day 23

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022


Tom Crellin House, 1869

From Oz — All Good News!  Nyel is responding well to oral meds and, if the gods continue smiling he will be coming home this week.

From Oysterville __ LRH came clear  out into the yard this morning, moving slowly (but aren’t we all?) and not too interested in food, but definitely on the mend if this trend continues.

From Arcadia Press in South Carolina — Finally! a PDF of my Spooky Stories book which, I am told has already gone to press.  This is the first I have seen of the book since I handed in my ten stories adapted from Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula last January.  Despite my requests for a proof, this  is  the first glimpse I have seen of the book which appears to be a “done deal.”  Of all the 30+ books I’ve had published over the past 40 years with at least six publishers, this is indeed a first.  I have asked that they literally stop the presses and kill the publication.  I’m not sure they will.

What upsets me the most are the illustrations, none of which I had input into.  Since the  stories are about real places and real people here on the Peninsula — some historic and some contemporary — and since I have photographs to go with almost all of them, it seems unconscionable that they are using “all images from Shutterstock” as they claim they do on the copyright page of the book.

My discussion with the editor was unproductive.  She said she’d never worked with an author who wanted to see a proof before it went to press… I seem to be one of a kind — but not in a good way.  The conversation was left unresolved.  I’m not sure she is going to stop the presses — or even try.  She’s probably not sure I’m going to seek legal counsel — or even try

Meanwhile I spent my afternoon reading through the entire 112 pages.  Here is my rough tally:61 pages (mostly all words, no drawings or photos) “OK”
41 pages – mostly photos; some drawings — totally unacceptable (as in why would the Solano, a four-masted American schooner, for which  photos exist, be shown as a three-masted-something-or-other in one picture and a non-sailing freighter in another????)
10 pages that I simply do not understand.

As usual — stay tuned on all counts!  At least it’s never dull around here…

Report from Oz – Day Six

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

In The Center of Things!

Here in the Emerald City– sunny today with a shower now and then in the afternoon.  Everything seemed to move slowly — I was a bit late to Nyel’s hospital quarters and missed the Doctor Team’s visit.  Apparently, though, I didn’t miss much — no big changes in his oral meds or IV drips or other protocols.  Weight loss: miniscule.  Tremors, continuing.  Stomach distress, a bit better.  Lotsa questions.  Few answers.  And so the HUAW (Hurry Up And Wait) experience continues.

Cousins – Sydney and Si 2022

No one has yet broached the “go home” subject.  I’m sure they first want to have some “results” to show for all these days in Oz.  Tomorrow it will be a week that we’ve been here and, already, we are losing track of time.  Nyel was sure that he missed Jeopardy yesterday because it was the weekend.  I missed, too, because Cate called from Arizona — had heard at lunch (with Cindy and Tom Downer and other Peninsula Rainbirds) that Nyel is in the hospital!  Wow!

I checked in with the Oysterville Postmistress this morning — cleared Carol and Tucker for mail/package pickup.  Then got to worrying about running out of my own meds while up here — to say nothing of paying some bills and needing clean clothes.  And possibly sox!  Put out a distress signal to friend Michael Lemeshko who has offered to drive me to O’ville and back on Saturday — details not yet finalized.  What a guy!  It will be a wonderful chance to catch up on his progress on his latest book — this one about Seaborg and the beginnings of Ilwaco.   And to talk about the Community Historians and how we can contribute to next steps.  Michael already has a plan afoot…

The Oldest and The Youngest Espy – My Mom and Si – Labor Day 2007 

And this evening — dinner with Cousin Abigail Hook and family — “The Red House Cousins” in Oysterville.  I think we’ve seen one another (distanced and masked) only once since the Pandemic struck and it’s been longer than that since I’ve had even a glimpse of the kids.  I’m pretty sure they are both taller  than I am now and, let’s see.  Are they both teenagers by now?

Do I feel just a tad guilty about going out “on the town?”  You bet I do.  I console myself that there will be stories to relate to Nyel tomorrow and, if I remember to take them, pictures to share!


Report from Oz – Day Two

Friday, March 11th, 2022
The U District

The “U” District

So here we are in the Emerald City – Nyel to consult with the Wizards and Dr. Trusted at the UW Medical Center while I try to figure out the complexities of Life In The Big City.  To say we are not in Oysterville anymore is an understatement of the first order.

We were just about to put a late lunch (tostados) on the table – it was 1:30 Wednesday – when Dr. Trusted’s assistant called and said there was a place for him in Seattle; be there by 6:00.  Between bites I packed for “an indefinite time – at least five days” – not much for Nyel, the “usual” (blue jeans) for me plus toiletries, reading material, my laptop.  By 2:30 we were on the  road – kitchen tidy (mostly) gassed up, ATM’ed for good measure, and even an open-ended reservation for me at the Residence Inn in the U District.

Light traffic, for a wonder.   Checked in at my “home away from home” at 5:50, mostly so I could see the route to the Medical Center while it was still a bit light.  Got Nyel admitted and into his room by 6:30.  “You’re late!” was his greeting from Nurse Nancy.  And welcome to Oz.

UW Medical Center

Since then, Nyel has had about a gazillion Echocardiograms, IV drips, and infusions until they are having to do his blood draws from veins in his hands.  Several different teams of doctors have weighed in and last evening it was decided that his heart was stable and he would not need an ablation or another  cardioversion for now.  Hallelujah!   They are concentrating on finding the magic formula (it is  Oz, after all) to get the excess fluid out of his system – the  “congestive” element in Congestive Heart Failure.  The trick is to find a way to do that without further compromising his kidneys.  And so… the beats go on.

On the distaff side of things, I right away discovered that there is a shuttle that runs every half hour from my “Residence” to the Medical Center, nine minutes away.  And it’s free!  (There are some things about the Big City that are really wonderful!!!)  The first one in the morning leaves at 6:39 a.m. and the last one from the hospital leaves at 6:23 p.m.  So far, I’m a nine-ish to four-ish visitor.  Nyel mostly sleeps.

My New Sox

We both are feeling totally beholden and grateful to Carol and Tucker for keeping an eye on things at home and reassuring the chickens…  And to all of our friends and relatives who are keeping tabs on the situation through email and FaceBook and blogposts, oh my!  Thank you all.  You have no idea how your good wishes help.

(Oh.  And did I say that I forgot to pack sox?  Remedied at the hospital’s gift shop.)

The worst part was…

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Anterior cut of an enlarged heart; ACardio_20140403_v0_003

We left Oysterville at 4:30 yesterday morning.  Nyel had a 9:00 a.m. appt. for blood draws in the lab at the Seattle Medical Clinic and a 10:00 appt at the Cath Lab down on the 2nd floor for a right heart catheterization —  a test to see how well his heart is pumping (how much it pumps per minute) and to measure the blood pressure in his heart and the main blood vessels in his lungs.

The drive up — at first dark and rainy but getting lighter and drier.  Siri kept us informed — two fifteen minute traffic slowdowns but, even so, we arrived at 9:15.  No valet parking (they could have forewarned us).  Got Nyel into his wheelchair and into the front door and then the trip through hell to find the entrance to the underground parking garage.  Asked three people.  Only one knew where it was… a nightmare.

Found Nyel (Yay! for cellphones!) on his way to the cath lab (despite the Information Desk being unable to tell me where it was… why don’t they find INFORMED people to work there???).  Helped Nyel get ready — “Gown opens in the back…” and was directed to the waiting room where I spent two hours alternately reading one of Alexander McCall’s “44 Scotland Street” books and… worrying.

The procedure, which he has had done previously, sounds “routine” when the doctors and nurses talk about it.  But, inserting a catheter into the jugular vein, threading it into the heart and through to the pulmonary artery sounds terrifying to me.


If Nyel’s pressures were bad, they would keep him in the hospital but I couldn’t stay with him.  And, if was told he could go home, but got out too late, my eyes would not let me drive us home in the dark.  I had made arrangements with my cousin Ruth (Bless her!) to take me/us in… either way.  We figured we could muscle Nyel up the one small step into her house on Mercer Island.

About 12;15, here came a nurse pushing Nyel’s wheelchair.  Both (the nurse and Nyel — probably the wheelchair, too) were all smiles.  The procedure went well!  So… quick! up to the third floor to see the cardiologist to get the “verdict” — hospital or home???  Home it was.  Found the parking garage (and the car!) and were on the road by 1:20.  No rain, no dark, no traffic slowdowns.  Ate the “lunch” Nyel had packed — cheese, crackers, tangerines — as we traveled.  Home by 5:20.  Whatever the worst part of yesterday was, it was totally neutralized by Nyel’s good report!  Yay!!!

He offered. I refused.

Friday, June 26th, 2020

At The Stevens’ Salon

Yesterday Nyel took his barber’s kit and disappeared into the garage.  Being the worrier that I am (and with the excuse that I needed to document The Great Haircut Event) I followed.  I knew he’d be standing on his one good leg on the cement floor and with both hands and head busy.  In my mind, a formula for trouble.

Feeling Like A New Man!

But, it  went perfectly smoothly and didn’t take long at all.  Just enough time for a few pictures and a little sweep-up of a lot of hair.  Wow!  What a difference a few dozen swipes with an electric razor makes!  Not the designer cut that our wonderful Elizabeth has been providing in recent years, but neat-and-tidy counts for a lot.  Plus, he reminds me that he used to cut his own hair for years…  I had forgotten.


After I finished clapping and cheering, Nyel asked if I’d like him to do mine.  I have to tell you, I was just a tad tempted.  However, I don’t think a buzz-cut is my style of beauty.  Not that long, gray, and shaggy is either, but … oh well.  This too will pass.  And meanwhile, what a good-lookin’ feller I have to admire!  Plus, he says my Sheltering Shag isn’t all that off-putting, so not to worry.  What a guy!

An Escape Artist Extraordinaire!

Thursday, June 4th, 2020


After lunch yesterday, Nyel and I parted ways for the afternoon — I, to go into my office hidey-hole and finish up a writing project and Nyel, heading outside to enjoy his chickens in the sunshine.

It was some time later that my concentration was broken by a familiar noise from the past.  A mower.  But not just any mower.  Not Chuck-the-church-guy’s mower and not Tom-our-lawn-man’s mower.  IT WAS OUR MOWER!!  Which could mean only one thing — Nyel had escaped!

It’s  been three extensive surgeries on his left leg and well over a year-and-a-half since Nyel has been on that rider mower.  His left leg is shorter by four inches than his right leg; he cannot yet put full weight on it.  Nor can he walk more than a few steps WITH his walker and wearing his specially built-up shoe.  Which were both in the bedroom where they had been since sheltering began and physical therapy stopped.  What the hell??

I went out to the garage to have a look.  There was his empty wheelchair and a blank space where there had been a mower.  Nearby was a battery charger and a (probably empty) gas can.  What the bloody hell??

On The Road Again!

The path between our east fence and the meadow — the path that Nyel likes to keep mowed to certain high standards that probably only mower-guys understand — had been freshly mowed.  That’s where the familiar noise had come from but all was quiet by the time I got there and no Nyel in sight.  What???

Then it started again — way down the street, along the verge  in front of Willard’s Bench.  Part of Nyel’s old “responsibilty” for the upkeep of the village — now mowed by other volunteers.  He looked so pleased with himself and so content on that mower!  Every bit of angst I might have  had was overwhelmed by a heart full of gladness,  Yay!  Let’s hear it for determination and grit and, ultimately for escape!

“How did you get from your wheelchair to the mower?” I asked him later.

“I hopped,” he said.  You should have seen his grin!