Wow! What do you think?

July 27th, 2021

Screenshot from Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula Trailer

A month or so ago, one of my former editors at History Press sent me a “book trailer” for Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula and asked me for feedback.  I had never seen a book trailer before — perhaps I lead a sheltered life — so I looked at it with interest.  It was short, slick, and had one or two mistakes in it, all of which I told about in my reply.

Within forty-eight hours — maybe less — I received a re-make correcting the errors and using some suggestions I had supplied.  It was perfect!  I loved it!  But I had NO idea why they had sent it to me or what use was to be made of it.  I asked, of course, but never received an answer.

Mrs. C’s Husband — Screenshot from Book Trailer for Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Yesterday another book trailer came from History Press.  But not really “another.”  It was the first, erroneous one again.  So, once more I replied, reviewing our correspondence on the matter.  Again, I asked what use was to be made of the book trailer.  Again, no response.

I consulted Bonus Daughter Marta who is visiting and who is of a more techie generation than I.  “Use it!” she said.  Put it up on your blog.”  She explained how but… I am getting an error message which says it exceeds the size limit for this site.  So…  here is the link to paste in your browser.  I hope it works and, if it does,  tell me what you think!  More importantly, be sure to get the book!

It was the heat what done ’em in!

July 26th, 2021

Marta and the Internet

For several weeks now, in the case of our internet access, download speeds, upload speeds and what have you, we’ve been in a world of hurt.  Finally, today Mark-the-Magician was sent by CenturyLink to have a look at our wiring, inside and outside.  And now, once again, all is right with the world.  The reason for major meltdowns at our house and in many other places on the coast was the hot weather we had a few weeks ago.  Apparently, the temperatures in some of the equipment kiosks reached 140° — enough to cause major damage and fall-out.   As in lucky us!  (Oh.  And did I mention the dead bats?  None in any of Mark’s kiosks but, apparently, a problem in others.  Heat prostration.)

Somehow, listening to the woes of the internet infrastructure put me in mind of “My Fair Lady” and “the gin what did her in.”  So with apologies to Eliza Doolittle and Company, who knew it would be the heat what done in our internet service?  “We just don’t expect heat like that here on the coast,” Mark said, “so we don’t have air conditioners in the kiosks.”  Understandable.

Little Brown Bats — Heat Sensitive

I was pleased to see that Marta — who is here visiting from the SF Bay Area — was incensed that the problem can’t be solved.  “But why not?” she insisted.  “If you were in a city area, it would have been fixed long ago.” I tried to explain that that’s the point exactly.  “We are rural-to-the-max and there’s no way we’ll ever have enough population (read: money) to warrant correcting this issue.”
“But that’s so unfair,” she said.  “Welcome to our world, said I.  “You’ve got PG&E where you live; we have CenturyLink…”

I don’t know exactly what magic Mark performed, but within a trice I was able to turn in the last of my Vespers article for day-after-tomorrow’s paper.  I hope it wasn’t too late…

It’s Grandparent Season at the Beach!

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…)

Christmas in July!

July 24th, 2021

Ambrose Greetings From The Past

A very young Ambrose (Gordon’s alter ego), sporting full seashore regalia, looked at us from the greeting card which said, “If you’re careful on the beach…. nothing BAD will happen.” Printed on the back: BEACH BUNNY CARD, The Gull Motel, Long Beach, Washington.

Ambrose, accompanied by two tissue-wrapped packets, came out of a plain brown shopping bag, left on top of our piano by Gordon’s niece, Karen.  “Open it later,” she said.  “It’s part of my down-sizing program.”  ‘Later’ turned out to be after dinner when Nyel and I were reviewing the fun we’d had at Gordon’s 95th.  We were pretty sure the package would contain Christmas ornaments.  Karen had inherited hundreds of them from Gordon and Roy’s collections and, in the course of the afternoon, she mentioned that she was in the process of finding homes for them as she and Bill were preparing to move to a smaller house.

Roy’s Bear

And right we were.  Two ornaments!  A gorgeous bear collectible from the Christopher Radko Collection which, no doubt, was once Roy’s as he was an avid collector;  and, a fabulous rabbit sitting on a checkered wooden egg — Gordon’s, of course.  “Collectible” to Gordon meant rabbits and OZ memorabilia, never mind name brands.

Gordon’s Rabbit Ornament

Also, never mind that we, too, are down-sizing.  Or that we have switched from 11-foot-high to table-sized Christmas trees.  We were delighted.  And for a few moments we were transported back to the days when ‘Gore and Roar’ owned the Gull Motel in Long Beach and to the years of Christmas parties which, eventually, required three trees to hold all the ornaments!!  It was a lovely Christmassy remembrance in July!  Thanks, Karen!

Happy 95th Gordon! (1926-2014)

July 23rd, 2021

Gordon In The Bath c. 1925

For the eighth consecutive year, the Gordon-and-Roy-Picnic Group gathered to pay tribute to Gordon, instigator, picnic planner, and martini maven extraordinaire.  There were lots of us missing besides Gore and Roar.  In fact, the only members of the old Picnic Group in attendance were Nyel and me and, as far as we know, the only other two still alive and kicking are Patty and Noel.  They, unfortunately, were otherwise occupied with a milestone of their own — Noel’s daughter was in town to celebrate her 60th.  Time flies!

But Gordon’s indomitable spirit and vast interests were  well represented, anyway.  His niece Karen and husband Bill were here from Sumner — full of stories about Gordon’s mother (“Grandma” to Karen) who lived to be almost 107!  Bill and Sue and Carol (with Tucker) were here representing the Mystery Book Club — a late-in-life group that Gordon helped found around the turn of the century.  (This one.)

Herb, Karen, Sydney at Gordon’s 95th!

Herb-the -Christmas-Elf came, too.  He was one of Gordon’s friends who helped him put up his incredible Christmas decorations during those final years that he could no longer quite manage by himself. I told Herb that Nyel and I are getting to that point, ourselves, and he said, “Just call!  I’d be glad to help!”

The food was picnicky beginning with hot dogs, chips, and pasta salad — Gordon would have loved it.  There was lemonade (Sorry, Gordon, no martinis!) and (of course) watermelon and cookies for dessert.  The Gordon stories were non-stop — most of them funny but a few eyes besides mine watered up a bit.  All-in-all it was a birthday to remember.  I think Gordon would have approved!

Carol, Nyel, and Tucker

Say a prayer and cross your fingers!

July 22nd, 2021

The 43rd year of Vesper services begins a week from Sunday — “God willin’ an the creek don’t rise” as our friend George Talbott used to say.  The Oysterville Restoration Foundation waited until Governor Inslee made his July 1st “proclamation” regarding Covid protocols for the rest of the summer — assuming, of course, that things continue to get better, not worse.

In answer to  the question, can religious and faith based services be held:
Yes. It is permissible to hold indoor and outdoor services at full capacity with no physical distancing requirements.  The services covered in these operational guidelines include all worship services, religious study classes, religious ceremonies, religious holiday celebrations, weddings, funerals, and support groups.

So, as of July 1st, Carol Wachsmuth and I got to work!  (You might remember that both of us have long since “retired from our volunteer scheduling jobs, but it seemed important to get started” and no one else had stepped up.)  We divided the responsibilities — Carol would book the ministers and the ORF members who would present the Oysterville Moments; I would schedule the musicians and the organists.  Vespers would start August 1st and continue every Sunday afternoon through September 26th.  A bit shorter season — only nine Sundays as opposed to twelve — and a much shorter time span in which to do the scheduling — three weeks as opposed to our usual six months!!

A Sign of Summer

We had no time to wait for people to adjust their own calendars or readjust vacations  or (in the case of musicians) to pull a group together or, or…  And, miraculously, every single person we contacted was able to fit themselves in where they were needed.  THE best volunteers EVER!  We finished booking by July 16th and asked all participants to double-check the sample bulletin just in case.  On Tuesday-the-20th we  took the finished copy to LazerQuick, and distributed the finished bulletins to the ministers that very afternoon!

OMG!  35 participants filling 36 spots over 9 weeks and all scheduled within three weeks!  Unbelievable and unprecedented and a tribute to all the volunteers who have given so generously of their time in the past!  And all of whom have told us time after time how dreadfully they  missed Vespers last year.  Just like the rest of us!  Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed that it will all work out as intended.  And see you there a week from Sunday — three o’clock, August 1st!

The Egg Count — Waxing by Moonlight?

July 21st, 2021

July 19th – Egg of the Month?

I’ve been noting “egg” on the kitchen calendar each time one appears in a nest box.  Actually in “the” nest box, for although there are three of them, only the north one has seen any deposits for the last several years.  The girls are silent on the reason(s) for this.

Day before yesterday, on the 19th, we received our first egg for this month. Last month we were gifted with three — on the 19th, the 21st, and the 22nd.  All in the same nest box and all by the same hen, at least as far as we can tell.  Each egg has been the same shape, size, texture and color — a sure give-away, but only to a point.  Same girl, but we are unsure as to exactly which girl.  Once again, I wish those eggs came with identifying initials!

We think, though, that it’s probably Slutvana.  She’s the only one who hangs out in the nest boxes — actually, always the north one.  However, though her nest box lounging is a daily activity, there is not always an egg involved.  Read:  hardly ever.

Moonrise Over Willapa Bay

Noting the dates of these last two months, I’m wondering if the egg-laying has anything to do with the phases of the moon. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know I’m reaching, but we’ve run out of other ideas.  Day before yesterday the moon was “Waxing Gibbous” and will be full day after tomorrow, the 23rd.  Last month on the 19th the moon was also Waxing Gibbous and was full on the 24th.

And for those who care — probably not the chickens — “Gibbous” comes from a root word meaning “hump-backed.”  According to the online Earth-Sky site:  People often see a waxing gibbous moon in the afternoon, shortly after moonrise, while it’s ascending in the east as the sun is descending in the west. It’s easy to see a waxing gibbous moon in the daytime because, at this phase of the moon, a respectably large fraction of the moon’s dayside faces our way.  And furthermore: Bottom line: A waxing gibbous moon is in the sky when darkness falls. It lights up the early evening. It appears more than half lighted, but less than full. A waxing gibbous moon comes between  first quarter moon and full moon. 

Note:  The site is silent on chickens.  And eggs.

Downsizing Along Memory Lane

July 20th, 2021

A Banker’s Box of Correspondence

The banker’s box is labeled “Correspondence A-L” and is chock-a-block full of big envelopes, each lined up alphabetically by first-name and written in felt-tipped marker in my familiar primary-teacher-handwriting.  The letters seem to be from friends and relatives, written from 1978 to 1983 — roughly the period of time from the beginning of my full-time residency in Oysterville until I met Nyel.  I must have been cleaning out file drawers for the occupancy of his work on his Master’s degree.  Typically, I threw nothing away.  Now is the time for that, but not before taking a peek.

Alastair Reid – Photo by Rollie McKenna 1960

The first contains a single letter from Alastair Reid (1928-2014)– Scottish poet, writer for the New Yorker. scholar of Latin American literature and good friend of my Uncle Willard’s.  As it happened, he was here visiting when I arrived with a caravan of worldly possessions from California.  I would stay with my folks until Willard and Louise vacated their cottage and returned to New York and then, while Ossie Steiner and the Mack Brothers built my house on the bay, I would live at W&L’s place and begin teaching at Long Beach School.

I remember that one evening during Alastair’s visit, he and I walked a mile or so south to my property and stood on the building site looking out at the bay.  We carried with us a cardboard model of the house that Charlie had made and positioned it this way and that to imagine the finished structure.  On the way back up my road, I teased him about the gorse coming up all along the edges.  “The seeds came in with the sand for the road,” I told him, “but it was probably some of your Scottish ancestors who brought the original ones.  Maybe even these!  I’ve heard they’ll wait 100 years, until conditions are just right, to germinate.  “Gorse is a scourge!”

“That’s odd,” he told me.  “It’s easily controlled in Scotland.  We just go along with a small blowtorch and zap the plants when they’re young!”  I think he must have been funning me.  Gorse is highly flammable and surely Scotland would have gone up in flames long since had his story been true.

His letter turned out to be a response to one of mine, apparently telling him that I had purchased his newly published volume of poems, Weathering, and how much I was enjoying them.  (Indeed, my favorite all-time poem by ANYone is the namesake poem in that volume.)  Reading the last paragraph in his letter absolutely blew me away and, if there was even a glimmer of doubt about taking a look in all the other envelopes, it has completely evaporated.  Here is what he said:

You’ll get lost in the Oysterville past through the family annals, and suddenly long-dead great-uncles will materialise in the cottage, and you’ll populate it with the vivid past.  It must make Oysterville very strange to be in, as though you were adding another huge dimension to it.


Talk about a one-armed paper hanger!

July 19th, 2021

Farmer Nyel, Coop Cleaner Extraordinaire

We’ve all heard the jokes about being “busier than a one-armed paper hanger” but I don’t know of an equivalent saying about a one-legged coop cleaner.  That was Farmer Nyel yesterday — taking on a way over-doo-doo (ahem!) project.  It took most of the afternoon and involved a spade, a shovel, a scraper a five-gallon bucket, a large compost container, a battery-operated drill, a catspaw, fresh wood shavings and a lot of tongue-biting by me.

During the first part of Nyel’s project, I had a small job of my own — cutting and hacking at the blackberry brambles, the bindweed, and ivy that have worked their way into the chicken run during the current growing season.  Nyel’s theory has always been that the girls will make short work of the greenery (although maybe not the stickery ones.)  Wrong!  And of course, we also think that we should be getting eggs (at least occasionally) from these lay-abouts.  Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!  They obviously don’t know the Chicken Rules — not the Rules According to Farmer Nyel, anyway.

Inside the Coop

The worst part of Nyel’s job was wrestling the dropping board out of the coop.  It’s big.  It’s bulky.  It’s poopy and  uncooperative.  Plus it’s old and rotten and fell to pieces as he was pulling it out of the back “clean-out door” and (I might add) trying to keep his balance at the same time.  It was scary.  My offers to help got a very sharp response in rather negative terms.  So… I left the premises like any sensible wife would do.   The chickens had left long since — another example of fowl wisdom extraordinaire.

Shortly before dinnertime, the cleanout and repair work had been completed.  Praise be!  Farmer Nyel even accepted my offer to refurbish the nest boxes and the coop floor with wood shavings while he headed into the house to put away tools and clean himself up.  By the time I called those ungrateful chickens home to “slip between clean sheets’ (well… the chicken equivalent to that lovely fresh bed feeling) I was really happy the day was over.  Mostly I was pleased that our one-legged coop cleaner had, once again, allayed our fears and proved that he was up to all coop duties as required.  What a guy!

Thank-you Egg!

And… this morning, guess what?  A thank-you egg!  Sometimes those girls really amaze us.


The Very Best Part of A Book Talk

July 18th, 2021

Sydney talks about Madam X at the Senior Center

Yesterday I gave a Book Talk about Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula at the Senior Center in Klipsan.  It was the third event in as many weekends and I didn’t have high expectations for attendance or sales.  However, what I didn’t factor in was how much fun I would have talking with the people who were there!

I met several women who read my blog every single day!  They asked after the chickens, were pleased to meet Farmer Nyel (who was helping Vicki sell books for me) and one expressed a desire to meet Tucker.  “I want to find out if he is related to the Glass family.  They were best friends to my husband and me.”  I know that Tucker is related to the Glass family but I don’t know if it’s the right Glass family.  Even so, I found myself saying, “Why don’t you come by the house sometime and we’ll walk over and I’ll introduce you.”  I hope she does.  She and I were “of an age” as they say, and had it not been for people waiting in line for my autograph, we probably could have spent the rest of the afternoon becoming best friends!

A Small but Mighty Interesting Audience

Actually, there were several encounters like that and I did think to myself, “Well, after all… it’s the Senior Center and I’m bound to meet a few soulmates here.  I should come more often…”  But, it wasn’t just ‘Senior Serendipity’.  Along came a good looking “young” (50s?) man named Paul who said that we are “sort of related.”  And, indeed we are!  My first cousins were brought up by his mother’s inlaws (got that?) in Minnesota in the 1930s.  Paul was visiting the Peninsula and had just happened upon the book signing and… here he was!

Sydney with Wallace and Charles, Ft. Canby, WA, 1938

As it turned out,  when  Nyel and I returned home a half hour or so later,  we saw Paul taking pictures up the street.  I hailed him, invited him in, and we spent a pleasant half hour looking at family pictures and sharing information about my cousins Wallace and Charles Pearson whose mother Suzita was my mother’s older sister.  As Sue was dying of pneumonia on December 27, 1932, she asked her mother (my grandmother) to send the boys to Lake City, Minnesota to the Pearsons, her husband’s people.  At that time her father (my grandfather)  was in a sanitorium recovering from a horrendous automobile accident and my grandmother, always frail and losing her sight, could not have coped with two young boys.  Even by pooling our information, there is much that Paul and I don’t know.  Time to get Cuzzin Ralph looking on once again!

And… even so, I sold a fair number of books.  But the best part of all (as usual) was meeting and talking with everyone!  Even my Facebook friend, Terry Eager. came all the way from Chinook to meet me in person and say “hello.”  Wow!  What a fun afternoon!