Posts Tagged ‘books’

Yay! It’s A Party! And We’re Invited!!

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

Maggie Stucky, The Queen of Nurturing!

Maggie Stuckey is giving a party – a thank you party for some very special people here at the beach –people who many of us know and love!  And we’re all invited to say “thank you” with her — and to her, also, for that matter!  First. the particulars:

WHEN Sunday, April 14th, 2:00 p.m.
WHERE – Performing Arts Center, Long Beach
GUESTS OF HONOR – Clay Nichols, Sandy Stonebreaker. Mary Funk, Margaret Staudenraus, Dobby Wiegardt, (Marian Lee, Nyel Stevens — in absentia) Lee Johnston, Janice Yang.
ENTERTAINMENT – Music by Sea Strings (Janet & Bill Clark and Ray Hunt), Soulful Variations (Jayson Sheaux and Lee Moos) and Fred Carter.
  Presented by Time Enough Books in a Special Display!     

Maggie  is inviting all of us to come to celebrate with her as she thanks her special guests for their fabulous contributions to her latest book, The Container Victory Garden, A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Groceries.  And just so you know — Sunday, April 14th is National Gardening Day!  What a fabulous way to get the gardening season off to a great start!

If you already have the book, you know that Maggie’s inspiration for its theme came from the Victory Gardens of World War Two (AND World War One, for that matter!).  Maggie has always been about container gardening and during Covid’s “Sheltering Time” she was inspired to return to that theme for a book that could be helpful in a much different time of need.  As the book unfolded, she expanded on the possibilities of container gardening, many of which are illustrated in the fabulous artwork so reminiscent of the poster art of the 1940s war years.

And, Maggie reached out to those who remembered the Victory Gardens from the 1940s — the war years of their youth.  Many  of her guests of honor on Sunday will be people whose stories are interspersed throughout the book.  Such a wonderful party it will be!  See you there!!!
P.S. And if you remember any of those songs popular during the WWII era, I have it on good authority that we get to sing along!




Sue! Leigh! Kitt! Are you paying attention?

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

Mystery Book Club Founders: Gordon, Kay, Sydney, Carol – 2009

On March 30, 2010 I wrote in my Blog that I had joined a new Mystery Book Club — though that in itself is a bit of a mystery. In another blog I have a picture of the “Mystery Book Club Founders” which is dated 2009. It was a small group — just Gordon Schoewe, Kay Buesing,  Carol Nordquist, and myself. Soon, though we were joined by Sue Grennan and Leigh Wilson and, later, more folks still.

I think my attendance began to get spotty after four or five years. I don’t even remember much about the books that we read — except that Gordon suggested The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne.  Despite Milne being the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh — one of my all time favorite books — his Red House Mystery was really dreadful.  (I can’t remember if Gordon ever conceded that the rest of us were right about that!)

That didn’t stop us, though, but truth-to-tell we had more fun giving one another a hard time and poking fun at some of the books than we did in serious discussion.  (Or maybe that was just me.)  I don’t remember if some of us were already Louise Penny fans or if we happened upon her later.  What I do know is that a group of us — Bill and Sue Grennan, Kitt Fleming, Nyel and I went on a sort of Louise Penny pilgrimage to the Eastern Townships in Canada.  We visited a number of places which, according to information sent to Bill by her Assistant, were inspirational in creating her imaginary village of Three Pines.

Sydney at “Three Pines” – 2016

That trip was in 2016 and we loved it all.  We talk about going back and visiting the places we might have missed but I seriously doubt that we will.  It was one of those adventures that you could never duplicate and, if you tried, you’d no doubt be disappointed.  Kitt, Sue, Bill and I are still big Louise Penny (and Armand Gamache) fans.   And, of course, we still talk books when we get together.

I wonder if anyone in the Pacific County History Forum would be interested in forming a Local History Book Club?   I can see great possibilities for outings and walking tours and museum visits…  And so many books to choose from, fiction as well as non-fiction!  Hmmm. Food for thought…

Yesterday I spent with my grandmother…

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

Helen & Harry Espy, 1947

No sooner had I turned on the bedside lamp and checked the time yesterday morning than the power went out!  Damn!  And I had overslept, too.  I’d be hard pressed to get through my long list of “todo’s” even without all the amenities… like a shower and a hot cup of coffee to get my day underway.  On the other hand… no internet, so I needn’t worry about half the things on my list.  Not yet.

I dressed by flashlight, had a long drink of water (always in stock in the pantry against such “emergencies”) and called the PUD just in case they had news.  Yep.  A car hit a power pole and the substations in Ocean Park and Oysterville were adversely affected,  The estimate was early afternoon before we were back in the 21st  century.  No details about the accident, but it couldn’t be good considering the damage it caused.

I built a fire in the library fireplace to stave off the cold and wished (for just a minute) that I could go back in time a couple of generations,  My grandmother would be firing up the wood cookstove in the kitchen and stirring the embers in the pot-bellied stove in the nursery — warming that room up for the youngest of her six children, for in my mind it was 1912 or so.

1912 – The Espy Children (Dale, Willard, Edwin, Mona, Suzita, Medora)

The three older girls, Medora (13), Sue (9),  and Mona (8) slept upstairs now that they were all school-age, but the three youngest, Edwin (4), Willard (2) and my mother Dale (1) shared a huge pull-down Murphy Bed in the Nursery — the most easterly room in the house,  Papa, who went to bed late, always banked the fired in the woodstove before joining Mama upstairs, so the little ones would be warm throughout the rest of the night.

When the coffee was ready, Mama carried it to the nursery where the tin coffeepot sat on the stove all day long and Papa refilled his cup periodically when he came in from the dairy barn or the meadow or the cream-separating building or wherever his many chores took him.  How I wished we still had that woodstove… but alas!  My folks had gentrified that room in the 1979s, getting rid of the old stove and having a fireplace built there instead.  Great for cozy ambiance, but not for a practical heating surface when our electricity fails us.

I had been planning to work on the computer all day, communicating with my new webmaster (who is in Alabama!) as we begin working on my new website.  But 1912 had rather limited amenities in that direction so I decided to do what I don’t get to do very often these days — just sit around and read.  Thank goodness for Kindles!  Despite it’s many windows, this house is not very well lit inside — at least not by natural light.  Maybe it’s those 11-foot ceilings that seem to trap in the gloom. even when the sun is shining fairly consistently — as it was on that particular day.  My Kindle was perfect and I escaped into a Jack Reacher book with ‘nary a guilty thought about my website.

H.A.Espy Children on Danny, 1924

Even so, I was glad I didn’t have to fire up the kerosene lamps and read by their smoky light — and even gladder that I wouldn’t have to wash the lamp chimneys in the morning.  I wondered what my grandmother would have thought of such a modern convenience — though with a family of six to wash and clean and cook and sew for, I really doubt that she had much time for reading.  Mom and Willard used to laugh at the memory of her taking a book out to the outhouse for a half hour or so now and then — the one place she wouldn’t be disturbed.  But, of course, there were no toddlers by then.

She always said that the years that the babies were little were the best years of all.  (That babies were Edwin, Willard, and my mom; Mona and Sue were “the girls” and Albert (who died at 4-1/2) and Medora — the two first born — were “the children.”  I loved to hear Gtanny’s stories —  how Edwin thought that God was shooting deer when it thundered and how Willard liked nothing better (from the time he was three) than to take the biggest book he could carry out to the road and lie down in the middle and read.  Horses and carts and walkers worked around him.  And yes… he was reading at three, finished 8th grade at 10 and high school at 14.  What a guy!

As for mom — she was a Tomboy through and through — and no wonder.  There were thirteen kids her age who lived in town but she was the only girl  She remembered spending many-a-time chasing after the boys  when they were trying to ditch her — but then she grew up a bit and the story changed…

It was really a lovely day, yesterday.  Back in 1912.  But how lucky we are that the power came on in time for a hot dinner, electric stove notwithstanding.  Lights!  Heat! The magic of 2024!  I only wish I could share a day of now-time with my hard-working, soft-spoken granny.  I’m sure I didn’t half appreciate her but I was lucky to have her in my life until I was in my second year of college.  I hope I told her how much she meant to me…


May the birdwalking long continue!

Thursday, March 21st, 2024

Bill Harley

I just ran across this statement online: Commentator Bill Harley recounts how his best teacher meandered off the subject at hand and left an indelible impression on him. “Birdwalking” is a term of derision used by educators about this practice.   Apparently the remark was made on January 7, 1997 on the NPR show, “All Things Considered.”

Taking another look… with love!

Monday, February 19th, 2024

February 19. 2024

Kitchen As Seen From Stairway

A blog reader wrote me the other day and said she remembered “my” house (now belonging to my cousin Lina and her husband Dave):  I remember seeing this house and reading about it in one of the Northwest Home books. It was so charming…

I was touched — both that she would remember and that she would contact me!  The book she referred to is Northwest Style: Interior Design and Architecture in the Pacific Northwest by Ann Wall Frank with photographs by Michael Mathers, ©1999, Chronicle Books.  I scanned my bookshelves and found the book, rereading what the author with the improbable name of Ann Frank had written about the house all those years ago.

This cabin is a miniature house with a maximin story; a place where five rivers and a million memories meet.  A few feet eyond a moss-encrusted gate, an evocative shape rises like a gothic dollhouse from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, so intimate with its environment that it becomes a private world.

The Living Room

I remember being a bit aghast at that first paragraph when I saw the book for the first time.  Yes, the gate was moss-encrusted, but almost 1,000 feet from the house and unseen beyond the road’s curve into the trees.  But, actually, the rest was close to accurate — after all, the original design was by Noel Thomas who, in those years, was making museum-quality miniature houses with his wife Pat.  And “a million memories”… at least!

The author went on a few paragraphs later with a more literal, less fanciful description which I think more closely fit my own feelings about the house:  The 900 square-foot cottage is a departure from the quaint romantic vernacular of Oysterville’s old Victorian houses, most of which are made of California redwood, reused from the ballasts of ships that arrived for trade.  With its cedar board- and- batten siding, simple A-frame open floor plan, and rustic charm, it is more reminiscent of the fish canneries, covered bridges, boathouses, and old barns of the region.

Yes.  That’s more the feeling I had about the house.  Except I wish she had understood what ballast was.  The redwood siding for the old homes in Oysterville WAS the ballast on the oyster schooners coming up from San Francisco.  Ballast might be anything from lumber to pianos to top hats or potatoes that the storekeepers had ordered from the Captain on his last voyage north (maybe two or three weeks before).  That cargo was used as ballast to help control the ship’s stability and to ensure safe passage.

But… the photographs are wonderful… and right now bittersweet.  Michael asked for an “introduction” to the house the first time Nyel and I met him back in 1998.  And, within that rule that says the world gets smaller and smaller, Lina and Petra probably crossed paths years ago in Portland when Tucker and Carol owned a toy shop just down the way from Tucker’s cousin’s bookstore where Petra worked!

The Book


Shouldna done that! Glad I did!

Sunday, December 10th, 2023

Yesterday afternoon I bit the weather bullet (and my night-blind vision bullet) and attended a gathering of poets at Time Enough Books. They were there to celebrate the publication of Cascadian Zen and to read some of their poems included in this stunning new anthology by Watershed Press.  As the name of the book implies, it celebrates, laments, and reflects upon (but oh so subtly) the vast region called Cascadia.

Cascadia is sometimes described as another term for the Pacific Northwest but it is that and more.  The name is usually used to refer to this area as an environmentally significant bioregion. It is defined by the watersheds of the Fraser, Snake and Columbia rivers, and encompasses all or portions of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, and Alberta.  It’s where I live and, if you are lucky, where you live, too.

The poems look as every aspect of this magical place — reverently, irreverently, with humor and with pathos.  Like most other regions on the planet, Cascadia has some serious troubles and a gazillion solutions on offer.  The poems, subtly (and Zen-like?) lead listener or reader to take another look, a different view, or perhaps suggest another path to follow.  Each of us who cares about this magical region should read the poems — again and again.  And maybe write a few of our own!

This afternoon I am going across the street to the Oysterville Church to enjoy Joel Underwood’s concert “That Ribbon of Highway” — a show he will be touring the State with in 2024 under the auspices of Humanities Washington.  It celebrates the 30 days that folk-singer and activist Woody Guthrie travelled the highway along the Oregon side of the Columbia River touring the Grand Coulee Dam Project in 1941.  I love the songs that came out of that 28-day tour… Yet, the irony of singing along to “Roll on Columbia” the day after listening to the poets of Cascadian Zen is not lost on me.  And I don’t think I am alone.  No wonder we are all a little schizophrenic — though I was hoping that it was just the usual holiday frenzy in our Cascadian air!

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made, Book-wise!

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

As much as it pains me to admit it, I am still trying to recover from the biggest mistake I ever made.  Book-wise that is.  This was a mistake in judgment pure and simple.  My intentions were good but… we already know about that road to hell.  It all began in the 1990s when I was teaching several week-long Elderhostel classes each summer on the history of Oysterville.  My students — all adults who were probably, on average, ten years older than I was then, loved the classes and were interested in EVERYthing about Oysterville, oysters, and anything else related to our Peninsula.  They were eager for information but didn’t have the time to do deep research or get a full-sized book on any of the subjects they were curious about.  They just wanted some “down-and-dirty” basic information.

So… I conceived the idea of doing an ABC series — ABCs, in this case, standing for basic information, not for a cutesy children’s nursery book.  I began with C is for Cranberries, The A-B-Cs of Cranberries on the Long Beach Peninsula.  It was illustrated by my friend Gordon Schoewe and chock-full of factual information about the local cranberry industry — with as much quirky information thrown in as I could muster. (L … is for laws:  Two pieces of legislation have been written specifically for cranberries  FEDERAL-  Cranberries are considered an obligate wetlands plant and are, therefore, given congressional exemption for production on wetlands.  STATE – Growers on the Long Beach Peninsula may take sand from the beach to be used for sanding the bogs, a process which must be done when creating a new bog and every three or four years thereafter.)

I followed that up with I is for Indians, The A-B-Cs of the Chinook People in the lower Columbia River region. illustrated by Pat Fagerland.  Both she and I worked with the Chinook tribe to make sure we “got it right” and I’m pleased to say that the book is carried at the Chinook Tribal Office and Museum in Bay Center.  (C… is for Chinook: Chinook [chi – nook’] n.  Contrary to current usage, the ch in Chinook is given the hard ch pronunciation as in chin.  Only when used to mean a type of wind is the ch given the soft sound.)

P is for Papa Train, The A-B-Cs of the Long Beach Peninsula’s Narrow Gauge Railroad 1889-1930.) was illustrated by Scott Fagerland, then a 6th grader at Hilltop School in Ilwaco and is given credit on the back cover as an athlete, a musician and an artist. (G… is for gandy dancer — a laborer in a railroad section gang.)

O is for Oysterville, The A-B-Cs of Shoalwater Bay’s Oldest Community.  (H is for… hotels.  During Court Week there was dances twice a week.  Court didn’t last over a week at the outside.  Both hotels would be full and anybody who had rooms to spare would have a chance to rent them ot, too.  People who was workimg in oysters would stay at the hotels, the year around.  In them days, why people who come to the beach on holidays, they would usually bring their tent and stay for three months at Ocean Park and LongBeach. A 1947 reminiscence by Dewitt Stoner Oysterville Resident 1884-1955.)

And maybe my favorite is K is for Kidnapping the County Seat, the A-B-Cs of Early Government in Pacific County, WA illustrated by Pat Fagerland with historical research by Larry Weathers.  (B is for… before.  Beginnings: Oregon Territory, 1848; Pacific County, 1851; Washington Territory – 1853; Washington State – 1889.)

No matter how much explaining I have done over the last twenty-five years, booksellers continue to place these books in the young children’s section.  Parents and grandparents take one look and realize that they would not be of interest to a three- or four-year-old, but it seldom occurs to them that adults — especially visitors or those new to the area — might find them highly informative and a quick way to get a historic overview of our area.

I will be selling them at the Book Fair on Saturday along with others of my 17 books that are currently in print.  Hope to see you then!

Fun! Fun! Fun! And who’da thunk it?

Thursday, November 16th, 2023

At Ocean Park Timberland Library, Nov. 15, 2023 – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Yesterday, I was busier than that proverbial bird dog during hunting season — seeing my cousins off after a fabulous two-day stay, gathering my books (and my wits) for a Book Talk at Timberland Library, and fixing myself a  fabulous crab salad from the generosity of my friend-the-crabber, Nahcotta Bob!  Did I even think about writing my blog?  Well, maybe for a minute…

The Book Talk was the highlight.  I didn’t really think anyone would bother to come but… wow!  By  the 2:00 starting time, every seat was taken and there might have been a few folks standing at the back!  I was gobsmacked.  For one thing, I don’t have a new book out or even one actually in the works.  My talk was to be about the 17 books I’ve written over the past several decades that are still in print.

I wonder what I was talking about…. Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

I decided I’d start with my greatest “failures” — my series of A-B-C books.  As I explained, they are among the best books I’ve written as far as giving a good overview of a single subject — basic information about such Peninsula and Pacific County subjects that are integral to our history:  Titles still in print include: C is for Cranberries: The A-B-Cs of Cranberries on the Long Beach Peninsula; I is for Indians: The A-B-Cs of the Chinook People in the lower Columbia River Region;  O is for Oysterville: The A-B-Cs of the Peninsula’s Oldest Community;  P is for Papa Train: The A-B-Cs of the Long Beach Peninsula’s Narrow Gauge Railroad, 1889-1930;  P is for Peninsula: The A-B-Cs of The Long Beach Peninsula and Vicinity;  and, perhaps my favorite:  K is for Kidnapping The County Seat: The A-B-Cs of Early Government in Pacific County, Washington.

Reading A Cogent Fact or Two – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

The books are fabulous, if I do say so, myself.  The “failure” was in following an A-B-C format which made potential buyers (and even most booksellers) assume they were books for young children,  NOT!  ABCs as in basic information, organized according to the alphabet for fun and as a way to present historic (as well as quirky) information about each of the title subjects.  Had people bothered to take a look at the books, they would have known immediately that the vocabulary, as well as the concepts, were for adults, not children. (And such a bargain at $10.00 each!)

So, having explained all of that and then reading a favorite excerpt from each, I went on to talk about the other more successful books and pointed out some of the little-known back-stories of each.  We had a few minutes left for questions and answers and then my friend Carol Wachsmuth (Bless her!) sold books while I visited with my “audience” and signed books for those who wanted.  I’m so pleased to report that many books sold — 19 (!) of the ABC books!  Yay!

So endeth my shameless sales pitch!  If you couldn’t be at the library yesterday and you might be interested in a copy or two, write to me at and “we’ll talk” as they say!

“Plan your work; work your plan!” he said.

Sunday, November 12th, 2023

John Matthews, the first school principal I ever worked with in Hayward, California, was big on lesson plans and their subsequent accomplishment.  His words of wisdom — “Plan your work and work your plan.” became words to live by for most of the teachers on his staff.  Even today, sixty-some years later, I find myself quoting his oft repeated aphorism.  And, sometimes, it morphs into another, more appropriate reminder like Mark Your Calendar!

This poster announcing my “Book Talk” at the Ocean Park Timberland Library brought John’s cogent advice into focus once again.  When I was asked by the good people at the library what topic I’d like to focus upon for my talk , I said I thought I’d give an quick overview of each of my books still in print.  And, since they number 17, and since each deals (in some way) with the history of our area, I’d try to give an overview of the books and of our history at the same time.  I must say “The History of Our Peninsula” on the poster sounds somewhat daunting.  Between now and Wednesday, I’ll be “planning my work” you betcha!  I hope you will be marking your calendars!  (And, in case you wondered, I will have books for sale afterwards if you are interested.)


The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

Friday, November 10th, 2023

When it comes to writing, I’ve probably made more than my share of mistakes over the years.  Since my focus is history. errors “come with the territory” you might say, since new information constantly surfaces putting what once seemed definitive in a completely new light.  So I’m not talking those kinds of mistakes here.  No.  I’m talking mistakes in judgement — like the decision to write a series of books on basic facts about our Peninsula and present them in an ABC format.  It simply never occurred to me that people (including booksellers) would assume that they were children’s books.

They showed up in the children’s section of most bookstores, even though I had carefully explained to the booksellers that these were books for adults.  One look at the contents and the way in which the information is presented should have been enough…  But, no.  And even if they were placed with adult books, buyers by-passed them thinking they were mis-shelved.  “Whatever were you thinking?” you may ask.

Well… it was this way.  For a dozen or so years, I taught Elderhostel classes during the summer at the United Methodist Camp in Ocean Park.  My classes were on Historic Oysterville, but the students always had great interest in the entire area and asked a lot of great questions.  The information was readily available in many books and journals in the libraries and bookstores and museum archives, but the students didn’t really have time (or money) to invest in “real” research.  They wanted something basic — a simplified presentation of the nuts and bolts of our local history.  The ABCs  (as in basics) you might say.  And as I soon learned… a big mistake, at least marketing-wise.

Granted, some of the bookx did sell well enough to go out of print.  D is for Discovery — the A-B-Cs of the Lewis & Clark Expedition’s Winter on the Pacific Coast 1805 – 1806  and O is for Oysters: The A-B-Cs of Oystering on Willapa Bay both sold out —  the first during the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, and the second largely due to its availability at Oysterville Sea Farms during Dan Driscoll’s early years of ownership there.

I’m a little foggy about a few of the others — Perhaps O is for Oysterville: The A-B-Cs of the Peninsula’s Oldest Community and I is for Indians: The A-B-Cs of the Chinook People in the lower Columbia River Region also went out of print and were reprinted.  In the days when Nyel was my Business Manager, he handled those decisions and I just spent my time researching and writing and finding great illustrators.  Suffice it to say, that I have a goodly supply of most of the “Mrs. Stevens’ A-B-Cs left.

And, if still you doubt, thumb through a copy of any of “Mrs. Stevens’ A-B-Cs” and look at the information presented with its attendant vocabulary and concepts and you will understand that they are adult-oriented, though great to be used with children as a teaching/discussion tool. If I had an Air B’n’B or a summer cottage for family, I’d have every one of those ABC books available for visitor browsing.  You can’t beat them for a quick overview of facts and quirky information about this area that we love!