Archive for the ‘Relatives’ Category

When the Red House Cousins come to town…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

From Lexie’s FB Page – (Thanks Lexie!)

I went visiting this afternoon — four houses north and two generations south.  It was a hubbub of activity at the Red House as it has always been my live-long life!  Those cousins of mine can pack more activities and fun into a short stay than any other ten families I know.

As I knocked at the open door and walked into the kitchen, Anna was mixing a serious looking cocktail that involved egg whites and pisco (a kind of brandy) and Angostura bitters — “pisco being about 95 proof” said her dad, Jim.    “Beeg and I met pisco in Lima Peru seventeen years ago,” he told me.  “We brought the bottle back with us and last night was the first time it has been opened.”  Pisco Sours — one for me, one for Jim — we being the Honorable Elders of this particular family gathering.

Although, “gathering” doesn’t quite categorize what usually happens at the Red House!  More of a meet, greet, and off to fly a kite or take a swim or, in the case of Anna’s husband, Rob — to paint another section of the house with a fresh coat of red.  (Or at least that’s where I think he disappeared to!)

I caught glimpses of all five of the “youngers” — Lexie’s boys, Kahrs, Anders and Bo and Anna and Rob’s two, Anwyn and Walker.  But not all at the same time and not all doing the same thing.  Kahrs, flat on his back in the lane managing the kite flying overhead.  Anwyn in the kitchen, in the back yard, down the lane, in the tall grass.  Bigger kids so far out in the bay it was hard to tell who was who.  No one still.  Everyone having fun.

Red House Cousins!  Wow!  And that wasn’t all of them by any means — only the ones here and now.  YAY!

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!


Just Say No

Friday, December 17th, 2021

Santa Ralph in Lacey, 2021

I remember that it was in the 1980s that Nancy Reagan kicked off her “Just Say No” campaign as part of the U.S. “War On Drugs.”  Those three words quickly became a catch phrase for just about everything whether it was illegal substances, an unsolicited (or unwanted) invitation, or a tempting dessert that promised a gazillion extra calories.

Unfortunately, those three words still rattle up to the surface when least expected and when I certainly don’t want to acknowledge them.  Take an email I received from my cousin Cheryl today.  Her brother Ralph — Cuzzin Ralph of the Amazing-Research-on-Reverend-and-Mrs.-Crouch fame — has just arrived here for Christmas.  Not “here” here — but not far, either.  Cheryl and husband Virg live in Lacey and they are proposing to come visiting with Ralph on the 20th and 21st.  YIKES!

Cheryl and Virg, 2016

Talk about conflicted!  We haven’t seen C&V since Valentine’s Day 2020 and it’s been even longer since we’ve seen Ralph who lives far, far away in Virginia.  But, quite honestly, we have way too many things happening between now and Christmas to squeeze in one single additional thing.  “Just Say No!” said my head.  “Maybe just one day but not overnight,” said my heart.  And so, we are “negotiating” by email.

I’m not sure how it will turn out.  Sometimes, you just have to leave things in the lap of the gods…  I hope they are feeling benevolent this Holiday Season.


As much as I hate to admit it…

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Debi and Sydney – Porch Visit

… I really don’t like oysters all that much.  Fried oysters, yes.    My great-grandmother’s baked oysters, yes.  Smoked oysters — especially those!  But on the half-shell or in stew or in a sandwich, I’d just as soon pass.

So, when Debi Snyder, my 4th cousin twice removed, told me that she wasn’t crazy about oysters either, I was pretty sure it’s a genetic thing.   I use as proof of this an “infamous” (in the Espy family) comment made by my redoubtable uncle Willard Espy.  When, in 1980, he was interviewed for a Seattle TV Station and was asked about his feelings concerning oysters he said in his most dramatic tones,  “Actually, I was very nearly conceived, I am sure, in an oyster bed and I certainly was reared in oyster beds.  When I was a boy when we had guests for dinner we would have oyster cocktails, oyster soup; we would have fried oysters and surely we must have had some form of oysters for dessert.  And I can’t stand an oyster!”

It was during a “porch visit” with Debi a few days ago that our Espy oyster disconnect came up.  She and her husband and daughter were here on one of their periodic Peninsula visits and had just been having a bite to eat at Oysterville Sea Farms.  “Oh!  How was it?” I asked.  “The business recently sold and we haven’t been up there as yet.”

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2015 — A Bob Duke Photo

“My husband and daughter loved it!” she said.  “And I loved the view, as always.”  And that’s when she confided that seafood — even oysters — were simply not her thing.   “I feel a little guilty saying so, right here in Oysterville!”

“I think it’s genetic,” I told her.  And we laughed.  That’s another part of being Espy that might be genetic.  We all like to laugh and we all have a great sense of humor.  Well… almost all of us!

Once a teacher…?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Donna’s Grandchildren

I just received a note from my three-two cousin (third cousin, twice removed) — is that right, Ralph? — Donna Gwinn who lives in Garfield, Washington, not far from Pullman.  Donna, a generation or so younger than I and with more energy than all of us cousins of all the generations put together, was here two years ago for “Our Grand Affair” celebrating the 150th birthday of this house.  We have barely recovered from the fun and laughter of her visit!

Donna lives in a historic home, herself — the McCroskey House, a two-story 1898 Victorian that she turned into a Bed and Breakfast some years back.  She works (in ever-changing capacities) for a nearby school district, helps with six young grandchildren who live in the area, and is refurbishing her father’s farmhouse which she recently inherited.  Among other things.

McCroskey House Bed and Breakfast

She suggests in her note that she would like to rent the Oysterville Guest House (again) and bring her grandchildren (presumably the  oldest) to visit.  Can’t do it yet but my thoughts often go to your place! I want to take my grandchildren to the cemetery in Oysterville and show them the resting place of their sixth great grandfather! Is grandma buried there, too? I need to find out more about her and have you share her photos. 

I think Donna is a little screwy on this.  (Our mutual cuzzin Ralph, the family genealogist, will no doubt weigh in and straighten us out.)  I believe that Donna, like  Ralph, descends from R.H. Espy’s brother, William “Kentuck” Espy.  I don’t know where he is buried but it’s not here in Oysterville.  I hope that R.H. (who IS up there), as a many-times great uncle will serve her purpose and she will bring the kids for this Ancestry Trip, anyway.  Maybe when most are a bit older.

Espy Gravesites at the Oysterville Cemetery

It won’t be the first Grandkids Field Trip To Oysterville that includes me.  As I wrote to Donna:  Our cousin Ruth Espy Maloney did a similar Ancestry Trip with her grandkids in June or July — before things closed down again.  They had been home-schooled (or maybe just virtual-schooled) during the last school year and during that time Ruth had been giving them extracurricular lessons on Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Trail, and how R.H. Espy ended up co-founding Oysterville.  She asked me to do a house tour, focusing on family forebears. It was great fun.  I think the two kids were about 3rd and 5th grade age.  Or they could have been 5th and 7th graders — they were certainly well-informed enough!

I’m sure my friends and relatives who live in old family homes are well-familiar with telling their grandchildren about who lived there in “the olden days” and showing the family treasures once used by their ancestors.  Since neither Nyel nor I have grandchildren, I am more than happy to talk to young relatives about their more distant relations!  I wonder if any of it “sticks.”  (Maybe I should develop follow-up worksheets and a quiz!  lol)

Even in the best of regulated families…

Monday, August 30th, 2021

We felt badly when we wrote to Cuzzin Ralph and uninvited him to come to Oysterville (or “Oyster Patch” as he calls it) for a visit.  He was coming out from his home in Virginia to a family reunion of first cousins in Eastern Washington.  The plan was for him to stay with us for a day or two before heading up to SeaTac for his return flight.

But as our Pacific County Covid numbers increased, so did my nervousness, and I wrote to Ralph.  “No worries,” he said.  He would just stay in Garfield for an extra day.  He hadn’t been out our way since Covid began and it gave him extra time with his sister and their nearest and dearest.  They had all been vaccinated, their activities would all be outside, and they were looking forward to the reunion.

But… the best laid plans.  Though the air was smoky from nearby fires, they persevered.  Hostess Donna began to suffer from smoke-related allergies — or so she thought — and finally went to get tested.  The results came in the day Ralph reached home.  Positive.  Damn!  So far, though, Ralph tests negative as do the others who were at the reunion.

Other members of Donna’s family, though — not so lucky.  Her daughter, grandbaby, and daughter-in-law all have it and, yes, except for the baby all were vaccinated.  Donna wrote to me yesterday:  What I am learning? Covid takes time to “percolate”. A positive test only happens when you are three to four days fully into the virus. Rapid tests work well if you are really festered. Rapid tests are hard to find…
It effects people in different ways. I thought I had my annual harvest smoke filled sinus infection I always get this time of year. Emily had aches in muscles, headache and sore throat, no sinus or lung stuff. Today Frances is so run down with it, I went to her house and brought her car with her three kids to Garfield, planning to stay here two nights. She can’t get rest with them around. Ian can’t get more time off. Talk about conundrum for families!   So far, my only grandchild with Covid is the baby! She turned 1 today and we shared Zoom birthday wishes. She coughed and laughed through it but is obviously not at 100% and I can’t help!

My heart is heavy with concern.  There seems nothing to say about the situation that is helpful.  I can hear my mother’s voice:  “Even in the best of regulated families…”  Her catch-all phrase for when the unthinkable happened to thinking people.  To people she admired and loved and knew that “but for the grace of God go I.”


Way to go Uncle Sid!

Friday, July 30th, 2021

Uncle Sid in the 1920s

Melinda Crowley of Cranberry Museum fame sent me a photostat of a hundred-year-old news article which said in part:

The Oregon Daily Journal, Portland, Sunday Morning, July 16, 1920
Pacific Growers now have the additional encouragement of having today as an example, the heaviest producing cranberry bog on record.  It is owned by S.W. Richardson of Oysterville, Washington.

Aunt Bu – C. 1918

Less than an acre in extent, the field hardly impresses the visitor as something remarkable.  Should you, however, go down into it and notice the clusters of berries and blossoms making a solid mat several inches thick on the bed of sand, you begin asking questions.
Though a bog that has just come into bearing, this little patch produced last year 265 barrels of cranberries.  Cranberries last year opened the market at $14 and one of the beauties of cranberries is that, once started, the upkeep is practically nothing. Like alfalfa, it keeps going.
So this world’s champion bog and grower produced nearly $3,000 worth of berries from about six-sevenths of an acre.

S.W. Richardson was Sidney Worth Richardson, my maternal grandmother’s younger brother.  I was named after him and knew him very well — not as a cranberry farmer, but as a pear orchardist.  And not in Oysterville but in Medford where he lived with his wife Beulah.  I’ve always known about his bog here but not that it was a “world’s champion bog.”  I believe the reason there wasn’t much talk about its glories is because my Great-Uncle Sid had a bit of a “past” — a past which affected both sides of my mother’s family…

But that’s another story.  Maybe I’ll tell it tomorrow.

It’s Grandparent Season at the Beach!

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

The Grandkid Generation at the Red House — thanks, Anna Hook Spooner!

Having no grandchildren is a lot like growing up without siblings.  You don’t actually miss what you’ve never experienced, but you’ve done enough vicariously living in the moccasins of others that you know some of the parts — both good and not-so-good. But, mostly, the fun parts and, most especially,  the parts involving grandkids at the beach!

The first batch of grandkids here in Oysterville this summer were two families of Red House cousins.  They live in Sun Valley and in Seattle and, although they see one another occasionally during the year, it’s summertime in Oysterville when they really get “quality time” together.  (Not that they call it that, probably, but they might when they look back on those two weeks many years from now.)  Sad to say, Nyel and I only hooted and hollered as we drove by — all of us on different wave lengths this year.  We did see Grandpa Jim Hook briefly, though — on his way out of town for a few adult catch-up days at home.  Though he claimed “frazzled,” he looked great! Grandpa-ing definitely agrees with him.

Pelicans at Benson Beach – Photo by Opa Tucker Wachsmuth

Next up were Carol and Tucker.  This year they are spending a separate week of time with each of their four grandchildren.  Last week it was 10-year-old Gabi’s turn and oh! the places they went and the things they did!  Bensons-by-the-Beach for their (HUGE) pancake breakfast, Marsh’s Museum (probably more than once), Cannon Beach and Seaside, the new jetty to see the pelicans, Sherwood Forest out by Leadbetter Point to see Opa’s childhood campsite, Camp Tagum.  And so much more!

And today, Cousin Ruth and Cindy arrive with Ruth’s children and grandchildren.  They have been beaching it on the Peninsula since Thursday and are coming over for a look at the house and a family history lesson.  Imagine!  We may not be grandparents (or more like greats or great-greats) but we qualify as a part of Oysterville’s “living history.”  I love it!  (I wonder what the kids think…)

The thing about chickens and watermelons…

Monday, July 5th, 2021

According to my Kuzzin Kris, the best part of watermelons are the black seeds.   “These wimpy seedless watermelons are no fun at all,” she told me not too long ago.  That’s because the entire point of watermelons are the seed-spitting contests!  Which she also believes every kid should learn about before they start losing their teeth.

I wish I’d known Kris a bit better when I was younger.  I grew up, much to the misplaced envy of others, an only child.  That meant watermelon was served on a plate with a fork and with several paper napkins.  Keeping the sticky juice off your hands and face and the tablecloth seemed to be what eating watermelons were all about.  I didn’t see the point.  Not much payoff.  I’d rather cool off with a glass of lemonade, thank you.

Of course, all of our watermelons had seeds in those days.  They were simply an annoyance.  I sure do wish I’d been a little younger and had known Kuzzin Kris and her seed-spittin’ comrades a lot better.  It might have changed my whole attitude about hot weather fun.

Now it seems a bit late.  And besides, we usually don’t have a choice — seedless is it.  Last night we saved all the rinds for this morning’s  chicken treats.  They gave a few desultory pecks and followed me back to the house.  Hoping for cracked corn.  Can’t say I blame  them.  It’s probably a sweet versus savory thing and they definitely prefer the cracked corn and meal worms  over watermelon.

I don’t even think the ones with seeds would help.  Chickens really don’t spit well.

Polishing and Fluffing in Anticipation

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Willard’s  four great-grandsons with their mom, Kathleen – 2004

I’ve been tidying up — polishing silver, directing Cinderella, and even doing a bit of dusting here and there — while Nyel has been planning menus and ordering last minute food items!  Charlie is on his way up from Los Angeles and the Willard Espy cousins are headed our way from points east and north.  The family (or at least a part of it) is gathering!  I am beside myself with excitement.

Willard and Dale, August 1914

We haven’t seen Charlie since Christmas 2019.  And, I suddenly realized, Willard’s grands and greats were here in January 2020, shortly after Charlie left.  They just missed one another that time so it will be the first time that Willard’s grandson Alex and my son Charlie (2nd cousins) have ever met.  Charlie and Alex’s sons — Max, Sam, Jack and Ben — did meet back in 2004 at Oysterville’s sesquicentennial, though it’s doubtful that any of them remember.  However, Charlie will meet Max’s wife, Micah, and Alex’s young daughter, Maddie, for the first time Monday.  Most of them will be staying here until a week from today.  Missing due to a health problem will be Alex’s mother, Mona, Willard’s oldest (by six minutes?) daughter and my beloved first cousin.  Damn!

Helen and Harry Espy on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1947

And oh how I wish Willard and my mother were here for this get-together.  They would both be so pleased.  And my grandparents, Harry Albert and Helen Richardson Espy — great-grandgrands to Charlie and Alex and  great-greats to the rest!  Oh my!  If their ears could burn, I’m sure they would do so.  I expect that we’ll be telling and re-telling all sorts of familty stories, some familiar to us all and some not so much.

I can hardly wait!