Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A little late… but here in profusion!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

York Roses

I walked through the garden this evening, Nyel at my shoulder, but just out of sight.  I especially looked at all his favorites — the flowers he preferred, the ones he took extra care with, the ones I worried I wouldn’t manage quite so well.

Flowers On The Porch

But, I’m happy to report that they are doing him proud!  The York roses are the showiest they’ve been since Nyel transferred them into the big tubs around his erstwhile vegetable garden. His white peonies — his favorites — are ready to burst into full bloom and his hanging baskets of fuschias and pots of geraniums on the south porch have never been so prolific.

It was a bittersweet walk.  So many gifts he left behind… for me.  For us all.  It’s one of the lessons we learn only when it’s all too late to say”thank you.”

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?


BOOM & BEGORRAH! A day to remember!

Monday, May 30th, 2022

General Nyel Surveys His Troops, May 30, 2022 – Photo by Michael Mathers

What a wonderful Memorial Day!  Our house was full of love and laughter — Barbara and John Canney from Cohasset, Massachusetts, and Owen, Willie, Randal, and Susan Waters-Bays from just up the way in Olympia.  And don;’t you just love it when your friends who have never met one another get along like a house afire and maybe even have more in common with one another than they do with you!  We had such fun!

The Honorary Oysterville Militia, May 30, 2022 – Photo by Barbara Canney

And then there was The Honorary Oysterville Militia gathering at high noon — to pay tribute to their friends, loved ones, and fellow-militia-members who have gone on to their final reward. It wasn’t a large gathering, but it was spectacular.  Among those assembled was Marian Lee, a really-0, truly-o veteran of WWII — a WAVE in the U.S. Navy.  Marian will be 100 on September 4th, and we asked if THOM could fire the cannon in her honor that day.  “If I’m still here,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye.  We’re counting on it!

Bays Family Irish Band – Photo by Barbara Canney

Before the formal part of the program began, the Bays Family Irish Band played a tribute to General Nyel — a tune called, “Nyel, the Canoneer” which is one of the original fiddle tunes recorded by Randal to accompany tthe book “The Hmours of Cascadia.”  (To purchase copies of the book, visit  And, Photographer Barbara Canney took a group picture — with the cannon, of course!

And then began the serious business of the day. First a reading by Chaplain Pat McKibbin of  the THOM members “lost in the line of duty.”  Then an anouncement by General Stevens of new commissions to Private Eugene Businius, to Lieutenant Ruth Maloney, and to Lieutenant Steven Kovach.  Only Lt. Kovach was present to claim his certificate of enlistment (suitable for framing) and his cap declaring his rank in The Honorary Oysterville Militia.

BOOM! May 30, 2022 – Photo by Barbara Canney

And finally… the big BOOM.  Doing the honors for the firing were Ron Biggs, Tucker Wachsmuth, and Sturges Dorrance.  It went off perfectly and was probably heard all the way to South Bend!  Laughing and clapping all around following by an unexpected treat of chocolate chip cookies straight from Michael and Petra Mathers’ Astoria oven and passed out by the baker, herself!  A sweet first for a militia gathering!

All-in-all it was a Memorial Day to remember!

It Was Go-To-Meeting-Day in Oysterville!

Saturday, May 28th, 2022

Inside the  vhurch — Oysterville’s Meeting House

Today is Memorial-Day-Weekend-Saturday — traditionally when the people of Oysterville gather at the church, using it as a “meeting house” in the traditional sense of the expression.  The tradition began in the 1950s or 1960s when family members returned to their local “roots” to join with others in placing flowers at the cemetery in preparation for “Decoration Day” as it was called early on.

Soon it became a time for talking about town concerns in the “now that I have you altogether” sort of way.  And, as those “concerns” grew and we became more organized, the various “organizations” began to establish times and agendas and encouraged every household to send at least one representative.  Today’s meetings included:
9:00 a.m. Oysterville Water
10:00 a.m.  Oysterville Restoration Foundation
11:00 a.m.  Oysterville Cemetery Association

Some of us, but not all, attended all three meetings.  Every single one was interesting, informative, and civil — I enjoyed them all.  That has not always been the case.

Entrance, Oysterville Cemetery

Of course, we haven’t had Saturday-Go-To-Meeting-Day in Oysterville since before the onslaught of Covid.  And the last two we had before that were a bit tense — one involving a “take-over”attempt by a group of newcomers and outsiders and the next year the promise of Security (with a capital S) should things get out of control.  I doubt that I was the only one who wondered how today would go.  But it was smooth as Willapa Bay becalmed!

For the first time in quite a while, I felt a glimmer of hope for our little community —  the Historic District and our Douglas Drive Neighborhood and the folks out towards the weather beach and Leadbetter Point.  Perhaps — just perhaps — we can keep our indivduality, our sense of history and purpose, and incorporate the best parts of the future as they come along.  We can but hope…


At High Noon on Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Considering the Cannon

For the first time since the pandemic sheltering began, The Honorary Oysterville Militia (THOM) will gather at 11:30 a.m. on Memorial Day (May 30th) for their annual salute to veterans and others who have been called to serve “in the great beyond.”  The cannon will be fired at high noon and the public is cordially invited to attend.

Oysterville has a long history of celebrations marked by cannon fire.  According to my esteemed late Uncle Willard Espy’s account in Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village, in the 1870s R.H. Espy would don special black broadcloth pants, a maroon and black brocaded vest, a light linen duster, a stiff shirt with boiled bosom, a stiff collar, a bow tie, and a beaver hat and would order the discharge the cannon to begin festivities such as the Oysterville Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta.

THOM Cannon 

There are accounts that Oysterville’s original cannon was blown to bits by a rowdy group of midnight revelers, so for several generations we had to make do with only the stories about it.  Hardly satisfactory thought Nyel.  We happened to be in Gettysburg a few years before Oysterville was to observe the sesquicentennial year of its founding, and all those cannons on display prompted Nyel to make inquiries.  He learned that for a mere ten or twelve thousand dollars Oysterville, too, could once again have a cannon.

We pondered…  and on the long road trip back home we conceived the idea of forming The Honorary Oysterville Militia.  We would sell commissions to our friends and relatives and buy the cannon with the proceeds.  General Nyel was the first to invest.  The plan was successful beyond our wildest expectations and in early 2003 a replica full-sized 1841 mountain howitzer was ordered from Cannon Ltd. in Coolville, Ohio. It arrived in the spring of 2004, just in time for Oysterville’s 150th celebration.  We’ve been celebrating ever since!

P.S.  There are still commissions available.  Apply to General Nyel in Oysterville.

I’m sure I should have known that!

Monday, May 23rd, 2022

Our camillia in greener, glossier days.

I really hadn’t noticed until our “Garden Girls” called it to my attention:  the leaves on our camellia bushes — especially the one on the south side of the house — have turned from glossy green to a lemony yellow.  “Have they ever done that before?” asked Glenna,  “Not that I remember.”  Which is becoming a standard answer to most questions these days (as far as I can remember!)

So they looked it up.  “Too much moisture.”  Well… there you have it!  The story of our year, so far.  Apparently, the condition is not fatal to camellias — they just have to weather through it, so to speak.  It all reminded me of a letter my Aunt Medora wrote to one of her “chums” back in  September of 1913 when she was fourteen years old.  I know I’ve blogged about it before, but Medora’s words are always worth another look:

Medora in the Garden c. 1913

We are having a regular winter storm.  Do you know what a storm is?  Not an Oysterville one.  You see, we get from both the ocean and the bay.  The wind has already knocked the remainder of our cherry tree down; the cupboard of dishes in Sue’s playhouse toppled over and consequently she will have to abandon her house till next summer; a great piece of the trimmings of our house blew off; apples and pears litter the ground.  It is a real storm.  The bay is covered with white caps; the water has covered our lower meadow and you could almost go down the lane leading from our house to the bay in a dinghy.  To cap it all, it has rained night and day since Monday evening in regular torrents.  It is not an unusual storm.  The natives merely remark, “Sort of wet today.”

Never mind that it hasn’t been stormy.  And never mind that it’s not autumn.  It’s the “Sort of wet today” that has rattled around in my head for most of 2022.  Medora would have found that some things in her beloved Oysterville had not changed much over the last hundred years!

I wonder if Bud and Doug are having a chat…

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Espy Family Archive

I was delighted to see the very attractive layout for the late Doug Allen’s story, “SHOALWATER’S HEART; Oysterville in its glory days” in Wednesday’s paper.  I loved seeing the familiar photographs of the Swan Restaurant and the old stagecoach that ran along the Peninsula’s only highway back then — the hard sands of the ocean beach.

Robert Hamilton Espy, Co-founder of Oysterville

As I read, I made mental notes of the questions I’d have liked to ask Doug, if only I could.  I doubt that I asked him even twenty years ago when his article was first published.  He was a difficult man to get a hold of and I found that it worked best to write out my questions for him and keep the list handy.  Eventually, he would call me with questions of his own.  How I wish that could still happen!

One part of his story made me think of Bud Goulter who died just a week ago today, and I almost wondered if Bud and I would have yet another argument about the founding of Oysterville.  He always insisted that Oysterville was here long before Espy and Clark came along — never mind the written statements to the contrary by both of those men who lived and died many years before Bud was born.  I missed seeing Bud at the Post Office and tried to imagine if he would give Historian Allen his due.  Probably not.  In fact, I imagine he’s up in the Great Beyond carrying on the same argument with Doug Allen and probably with Espy and Clark as well!

Isaac Alonzo Clark, Co-founder of Oysterville

One thing about getting older — there are more and more people and places to miss, more and more arguments to lose or win, and more and more occasions to realize that in the great scheme of things, most of it probably doesn’t matter.  Except to teachers and historians and to the people who actually DO things.

Would it have helped to be forewarned?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

The Oldest and The Youngest Espy — My Mom at 95 and Silas at 3 months —  Labor Day 2007

Perhaps you remember the old drinking song that went:  Her mother never told her, the things a young girl should know…  It pops into my head now and then in an opposite context — more in line with my mother’s frequent lament, “The secrets of old age…” said with a sigh and often with those “secrets” left unspecified.

Today produced a fine example.  Nyel and I were having trouble communicating — a more and more frequent occurrence these days and not helped at all by the fact that Nyel’s hearing aids are no longer working properly and I can only shout for so long before I can’t do it anymore…  (Perhaps this scenario is familiar to some of you.)

In any case, before I describe the crux of our morning discussion, let me first say I firmly believe that the fact that “opposites attract” is a good thing.  One of Nyel and my “attractions” is that he is good at details and I am good at seeing the whole picture; together we can often connect the dots in weighty matters that would otherwise go undealt with.

So, today we were discussing, with our neighbor Cyndy, the intricacies of hooking up to Starlink and getting rid of other internet providers.  (Well, to be clear — ‘intricacies’ to us are ‘more familiar’ to Cyndy but none of us claims any expertise.)  I had called her with a basic question and suggested that we go on speaker so Nyel could weigh in — his understanding being greater than mine.

The call went well, but afterwards Nyel brought up several factors that hadn’t been mentioned (and should have been) during the conversaton.  “Really?  Did I know about that?” was my response.  Apparently I did (once) but I now had NO memory of whatever it was… And the “come to Jesus” discussion began…

Finally, I said, “Nyel, you need to be as aware of my short-term-memory problems as I am of your mobility issues and you need to help me compensate as I do for you.  They are simply facts of our old age!”  “Yes,” was his rejoinder.  “But I can’t see what you do or don’t remember; you can see that I’m in a wheelchair!”  Check. and mate.

Maybe I just need a few tee shirts with appropriate slogans to help him remember that I can’t remember…

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…



Some visitors come and stay and stay and…

Friday, January 7th, 2022

Huff Highwater Puddle

We loved seeing the King Tides come galloping into our garden.  Yes!  Galloping!  Usually, those high tides creep along, relentless but fairly slowly.  Not last week’s however.  The 12.7 foot tide on Monday afternoon was scheduled to reach its apex at 1:15, but by eleven that morning it was already noticeably high.  And on and on it came, oh so quietly.  No wave action to speak of.  Just creeping along, through the picket fence on the east side of the yard and halfway up to the house by the time all was said and done.

Reverend J. T. Huff

Although the tide table said there were higher tides last week, it’s the only one that actually came onto the premises — at least that we could ascertain.  But, somehow, it must have been filling up whatever spaces there are underneath the lawn (is that even possible?) and by yesterday there was standing water in a big area of the yard.  Maybe it’s just a gigantic grass puddle (as opposed to a mud puddle) caused by all the rain, but somehow I think of it as visiting tidewater that hasn’t wanted to leave.

I’m calling it the Huff Highwater Puddle after the Reverend J. T.  Huff who came to preach to the Baptist congregation here in Oysterville in 1878.  That was before the Oysterville Baptists had built their church and were meeting each Sunday at the R.H. Espy House.  When they were lucky enough to have a visit from an occasional itinerant preacher, he stayed with the Espys as well.  Pastor Huff must have found the accommodations to his liking for he stayed for eight (my mother said twelve) long  years!

R.H. Espy Family and Rev. Huff c.1895  l to r Top: Susie, Ed, Harry, Dora; Middle: Rev. Huff, Julia (Mrs. R.H.E.), R. H Espy; front: Cecil, Will, Verona.

Huff came back to Oysterville in June 1892 and, as far as is known, stayed with the Espys for another few years, lending his assistance at the church when necessary (as in the months after Josiah Crouch’s sudden departure.)  That has always been the family’s explanation for why the family patriarch, R.H. Espy donated the property and the funds to build the Baptist Church and also purchased the Crellin House right across the street to serve as a parsonage.  Enough, apparently, was enough even for a strong-minded Baptist like my great-grandfather!

Hopefully the visiting Huff Highwater Puddle will not be around quite so long as its namesake!