Posts Tagged ‘books’

On being garrulous (i.e. to rattle on…)

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Tillicum House – Home of KMUN and Coast Community Radio

Today I went to Astoria’s Tillicum House at the invitation of Dayle Olson, one of the co-producers of a KMUN program called “River Writers,”  a Writer’s Guild 30-minute show hosted on alternate weeks by Dayle and by Marianne Monson.  It airs monthly on second Mondays at 9 AM. and Dayle had kindly asked if I would agree to be taped for an August airing.

I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve been on a number of Carol Newman’s “Arts Live and Local” shows which are usually a fifteen minute slot which just cover the nitty gritty of an upcoming book publication or a book launch at a local bookselling venue.  But this was to be a half hour taping session which sounded a bit more ominous somehow.

Dayle Olson, My Hostess and Interviewer Today

As it turned out, the time went by almost before I could collect my wits.  In fact, I’m not sure I managed to gather them in any sort of order that might make sense to listeners.  I guess we’ll find out when it airs next month.  Dayle is the consummate interviewer.  Not only does she ask penetrating questions, but she sits across the way, head-phoned, microphoned, and totally professional appearing, with eyes that dance with merriment and appreciation.  She made the whole experience such fun.

Dear Medora

We talked about my first (and favorite!) book, Dear Medora, and about my ghost books and, of course, about Mrs. Crouch, the resident ghost in my house.  I told about my ongoing series, “Saints or Sinners? Characters of Pacific County” now running weekly in the Chinook Observer and I even a recently published one, “Klondike Kate” for the ‘listening audience.”  Plus, Dayle kindly gave me time to put in a plug for the History Forum which will begin in September at the Oysterville Schoolhouse — for all those interested in local history and who might have stories of their own to tell!

In retrospect, of course, I have no idea whether I stuck with whatever point I wanted to make or even satisfactorily answered Dayle’s questions.  I found myself just rattling on — a garrulous old woman enjoying herself immensely.  Thanks, Dayle, for a fun half hour!  It went by all too fast!

And how could I forget “Watership Down”?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

The shadows across the road were long and interspersed with bright spots of sunshine as I drove home along Sandridge Road from Ilwaco this evening.  I was driving the speed limit (I love cruise control) but, even so, I tried to keep a sharp eye out for deer or other forest friends who might decide to cross the road.

“Watch out for the Hrududus!” I called out — to myself, of course, because, worried though I might be, I didn’t see a single deer person along my way.  “I wonder if it’s only rabbits who call motorized vehicles ‘Hrududus,’ and wished Richard Adams was still around to ask.  Or maybe he mentioned something about that in Watership Down,” I thought.  “I wonder if I still have my old copy.”

And then, of course,  I wondered why I had forgotten to include that most wonderful of all animal stories in my review of children’s books yesterday.  I’ve read it at least twice and I’m thinking it’s time to take another look!  Especially since the rabbits of Surfside have diminished in numbers lately but there have been quite a few sightings here in Oysterville — or so I’m told.

Watership Down, Richard Adams’ first novel, tells the story of a group of rabbits as they make their escape from their warren which is being destroyed and seek a place to establish a new home.  (Surfside to Oysterville?  Maybe, although I haven’t heard anything at all about a warren being discovered. much less one being destroyed.)

In fact, my memory of the book is foggy at best — the leader, a buck with the improbable name of Hazel; violence by humans and other animals, including rabbits; both loyalty and betrayal among friends and the incredible grit and gumption of even the smallest…

Please consider this a P.S. to yesterday’s blog!

On the whole — the kids’ books were best!

Friday, June 2nd, 2023
City Lights Book Store, San Francisco

City Lights Books, San Francisco

I ran across yet another one of those internet sites listing 30 classics every American should read and scrolled through it to see how many — or IF any — I have read.  Two more than half — 17 of the 30 with another half dozen than I’m not actually sure about.  Did I read On The Road by Jack Kerouac or did I just hear him talk about it along with other “beats” at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach so much that I think I read it? Ditto Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but earlier in some High School English Lit class?

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the titles of 100 “Classic Children’s Books” and scored 61.  Perhaps a bit better percentage, but I remember many of the ones I did not read — not as a child, not as a mother, and not as a primary grade teacher.  Everyone Poops I don’t remember at all.  But all-in-all, I think I have read and been influenced by more “children’s books” than by any of the adult must-read classics that are so touted.  Perhaps it’s a case of arrested development?

But where was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey or The Hole Book by Peter Newell (Published in 1908 and 1936 with a rea. hole through covers and pages caused by a gun and was the first anti-gun book I ever remember… but presented in such an interesting and engaging way.  And what about Girl of the Limberlost by naturalist Gene Stratton Porter — on the banned book list back in the 70s as I recall but why??  Or how about The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown — a book to make even the youngest of us think about our priorities!

I was happy to see that The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee were on both the adults’ and children’s lists.  The latter is one I’ve given to graduating high school seniors on occasion, although I think these days it could be read and appreciated by much younger students.

And for children of all ages (and adults, too) who live on this Peninsula — especially at the north end — read aloud Patricia Beatty’s wonderful historical novels about the Kimball Family who lived in Ocean Park in the 1880s.  Begin with The Nickel Plated Beauty and, if you can, describe a wood cook stove or show them a kerosene lamp at the museum or a picture of the long, woolen  underwear kids were sewn into when winter came — you will all have the best appreciation of our local history you can imagine!  Happy reading!

Not enough hours in the day…

Friday, May 26th, 2023

My “state of the art” electric typewriter on which I wrote a series of social studies texts in the early 1970s.

It seems to me that I get less done as the days go by, even though I have cut out a good number of activities as the years have passed.  First and foremost, I’m retired from teaching.  By my calculations that should give me at least ten hours per day (yes, ten) every weekday and often three or four hours on each of the weekend days.  Plus I wrote a series of K-5 text books subsequently adopted by the State of California to be used by every child K-5 child in public schools.  Admittedly, all his was back in the dark ages before technology made things easier and faster.  (Or does it?)

And I now have help in the garden so I’m not slogging around in the flower beds except for the occasional Slug Patrol or Deer Fence duties.  I don’t have  help in the house — never have had in this house — but I go by my mother’s mantra — “An old place like this (built in 1869) wouldn’t feel like home without a little patina of dust.”

Oysterville Schoolhouse — 100 years old in 2008

Plus I’ve given up any duties with Oysterville organizations — volunteer or otherwise.  And The Community Historian Project has turned a corner and is not based upon 15 weekly half-day classes.  I am hoping that our fledgling plans for a monthly History Forum at the Oysterville School September through May will not require too much of my non-existent time.

So… my question is:  what has become of all those hours in my life.  I seem to be busy all the time — tidying up, writing, researching, tidying some more.  But I fail to see very much actually accomplished.

Christmastime or anytime is rocking chair time these days!

I seem to remember my mother telling me now and then that my eyes were bigger than my stomach — reminding me, of course, to eat up everything on my plate or, more importantly, not to take so much next time.  Maybe there is an expression that relates to getting things done.  Perhaps, “My expectations exceed the realities of time and energy.”  Or, more likely, “Cut yourself some slack, old lady.”  Hmm.  Words to ponder.

Doncha hate it when that happens?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

“Oysterville” – An Arcadia Publication

Not to belabor a point… but on Friday night when friends and I were talking about my “Oysterville Talk” at the Surfside Homeowners’ Association, I grabbed a hard cover copy of my Oysterville book to look up a fact I just couldn’t recall — not at Wednesday’s talk and not by Friday night, either.  I went right to the page (29) in the book and looked for the caption that read: In the 1860s, a plate of oysters in San Francisco cost two and a half $20 gold pieces.  Above it was a picture of Tucker’s grandfather in 1940, demonstrating that bit of information by holding a plate of 50 oysters — which worked out to $1.00 per oyster.

But, that’s NOT what the caption said.  It said “…two and a half $25 gold pieces.”  

During the Gold Rush Era — pocket change for miners

“That’s not right,” said Tucker.  ” I never heard of a $25 gold piece.”  I agreed — “no such animal that I know of.”  “And that would make that plate of oysters cost $75!” Fred Carter said.  “That’s ridiculous.”

Ridiculous and wrong.  In my office, I had one of the first copies of my Oysterville book — a paperback copy printed in 2010.  “… two and a half $20 gold pieces.” it said.  And in the back room where I keep my book inventory I looked in a recent (a month old) paperback copy.  “… two and a half $25 gold pieces,” it said.

Nuts making.  I looked in the “retired book files” and found my “Oysterville Proofs” — my copy of the final corrections on the last proof of the book before it went to press.  At that point in the editing process there were still four errors, one of which was the $25 instead of $20.  All were marked (in red), all were subsequently corrected and all were printed correctly in the first run of the book.  BUT WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED AFTER THAT?

Louis Wachsmuth and Plate of Native Oysters – 1940

Tomorrow, I will try to get a live voice in the Editorial Department or in the Production Department at Arcadia Publications and see if this mess can be straightened out.  Meanwhile, if you have the book, check out page 29.  One way or another (though I’m not sure which way) you may have a collector’s item.

I doubt if there will be a recall — but that would really be cool.  If they had a lot of class, you could send your erroneous copy back and get a correct copy in return.  But don’t hold your breath…  I’ll be amazed if I can even get a live voice to talk to.  Stay tuned…

And speaking of polar opposites…

Friday, April 7th, 2023

From “The Outlander” TV Series.

I’m in the middle of 18th century Scotland — in the highlands of The Outlander series which I’m reading on my new Kindle to save my eyes from the fine print of the books.  It’s full of historic accuracy, steamy sex, and violent squinch-my-eyes-up bloodshed.  Sometimes I have to stop reading just because it’s too hard on my old and fragile sensibilities.

Ron Howard as Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Tucker to the  rescue (though I doubt that he knows it!)  He just loaned me a book called The Boys by brothers Ron and Clint Howard.  Both were child stars in Hollywood, yet grew up in a normal (actually, more than normal) household, and ended up making show business their  careers.  Though the roles they played as children — Ron as Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Clint as Balok in “Star Trek,” for instance — were often polar opposites, the normalcy of their 1960s-’70s homelife is a side of Hollywood that is not often seen.

Clint Howard as Balok in the “Star Trek” Series.

While the book borders a bit on “corny” (just as “The Outlanders” might rely a smidge on “horny”) it is worth reading to balance out all the horror stories of pushy stage moms and dads who see their kids as the proverbial cash cow.

So, while neither book is exactly well-balanced, I’m enjoying each for its own sake.  And for sure there is little danger of conflating the plots!

Wow! Really? Karl Marlantes??

Sunday, March 26th, 2023

Karl Marlantes,

If you read Deep River, you know who Karl Marlantes is.  If you didn’t,  stop reading this and get back to it AFTER you’ve read (preferably) Deep River (2019) which is about our area or, perhaps, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War (2010) which is the recipient of many awards and was on the NYT Best Seller List for 17 weeks.

Today I had the very great pleasure of meeting the author and of actually sharing the Speaker’s Podium with him at the Pacific County Historical Society’s Annual Meeting.  What an honor and pleasure!

Actually… “sharing” probably gives the wrong impression.  The publicity said “Featuring” Karl Marlantes and Sydney Stevens.  And there wasn’t actually a podium.   Just a stool — which was too high for me to hoist my tush onto!   And we didn’t “share” either.  I went first (standing) —  sorta like a warm-up band; Karl went second, sitting comfortably (or so it seemed) and felt like the main attraction, at least to me.

I loved Deep River and felt (unabashedly) like a groupie when I went up and introduced myself to him before the luncheon.  And then, during his talk about his writing process when he referenced several of the points I had made in my own talk earlier… I, of course, fell in love!

Seriously, the whole afternoon was a pleasure!  It was an SRO crowd but, amazingly, I knew a goodly number of the folks there.  I felt that my stories were well received and that they dovetailed well with Mr. Marlantes remarks — never mind that we had never met or conferred.

Next Year….Oysterville Schoolhouse?

“And next year,” says PCHS Prez Steve Rogers, “the  Annual Meeting” will be in Oysterville!”  Stay tuned.

What a great title, Jim Tweedie!

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

You know, there are some things about this aging process that don’t bear thinking about.  Like the wonky ways of one’s memory.

Some years ago, Jim Tweedie asked me if I’d be willing to read a draft of his first book and, perhaps, write a foreword for it.  I remember both the reading and the writing very well — that I did those things, I mean.  But, when I ran across a pile of “new” books the other day with Jim’s (apparently) unopened book among them — Long Beach Short Stories: Possibly Untrue Tales from the Pacific Northwest — I had no memory of ever having read it.  None.

The cover looked vaguely familiar and I had a glimmer that Jim had handed it to me at a Vespers service a year or more before Covid shut us down.  Tucked between the first few pages was a note — also seemingly pristine and unread.  It was dated January 20, 2017 and began, “It suddenly occurred to me that I had not sent you a copy of my book — so here it is.”  The date made me wonder if my Vespers memory was right…

And there, right after the Table of Contents was a Foreword by Sydney Stevens dated “Oysterville, 2016.”  So… part of my memory is correct and I began to relax a little.  But as I started reading… not so much.  So far, I’ve read nine of the fourteen stories and, though it’s scary to admit, I don’t recognize a single one of them.  Not a plot.  Not a character.  Nada.

I took a break and re-read my Foreword.  In it, among other things I wrote, “I found his stories to be beguiling, enchanting, and challenging in ways I did not expect.”  That’s still absolutely true.  But where did the memory of them go after I read them?  And how did the Foreword disappear the same way?

James “Jim” A. Tweedie

I can’t decide if I owe Jim an apology for waiting so long to read his finished book and for completely forgetting its contents over the past seven years.   Or do I owe him a thank-you for writing a book that has obviously delighted me at least twice?

I’m going with the latter.  Thank you, Jim!  (And did I tell you, I love the title?)


Two full lifetimes ago today…

Tuesday, February 21st, 2023

Our 2023 Telephone Directory – 24 white pages; 48 yellow pages. Period.

Our latest telephone book is really a laughing matter.  When it arrived, I threw it away in the basket so kindly provided as a junk mail receptacle at our Post Office;  I really thought this skinny little excuse for a directory qualified as junk.

But then I heard that voice in my head say, “Self.  Wait!  This could be a collector’s item — the very  last- ever telephone book issued by Century Link in Pacific County!”  So I retrieved it and looked up my name.  As expected:  not there.  But… Nyel’s was!  Now that was really weird.  He had died even before I had cancelled our landline which had always been in both our names.  Go figure.

I thought of all of this a few minutes ago when I saw online that the very first telephone book was issued in New Haven, Connecticut on February 21st 1878 — 145 years ago today.   However, it was a little different from what we’ve been experiencing since then.

L Connecticut District Telephone Company List of Subscribers, February 21, 1878

According to a fascinating entry on  On February 21, 1878 the New Haven District Telephone Company issued its first list of subscribers–a broadside listing about 50 subscribers with no telephone numbers included. The University of Connecticut Library copy, one of two surviving,  is reproduced on the website.  Maybe not a telephone “book” exactly, but a forerunner of what was to come.

In November 1878, the company, by then renamed The Connecticut District Telephone Company of New Haven, Connecticut, issued the world’s first actual telephone book. This telephone directory booklet or pamphlet contained the names and addresses of 391 subscribers who paid $22 per year for service. There were no phone numbers, but there were advertisements and listings of businesses in the back of the book—the first, embryonic “yellow pages.” The advertisers included physicians and carriage companies. Customers were limited to three minutes per call, and no more than two calls an hour without permission from the central office.

Besides rules, this first phone book also feature tips on how to place calls:  — pick up the receiver and tell the operator whom you want — and how to talk on this gadget. Having a real conversation, for example, required rapidly transferring the telephone between mouth and ear. “When you are not speaking, you should be listening,” it says at one point. You should begin by saying, “Hulloa,” and when done talking, the book says, you should say, “That is all.” The other person should respond, “O.K.” Because anybody could be on the line at any time, customers should not pick up the telephone unless they want to make a call, and they should be careful about what others might hear. “Any person using profane or otherwise improper language should be reported at this office immediately.”

(This entry was last revised on 02-21-2018. Thanks to Laura Smith, Archivist at the University of Connecticut Library, for pointing out the existence of the February 1878 directory.)

Of course I turned to page 188 first!

Saturday, February 18th, 2023

Plant Green Garlic – by Lee Johnston

Stevens, Nyel, 188.  That’s what the index said and that’s the page I went to right off the bat.  Maggie’s book, The Container Victory Garden, arrived last night, and although it was addressed to me, I knew it was truly Nyel’s.  Maggie had said that all those who had contributed to the book would get theirs about a week prior to its official publication.  And here it was!  Nyel’s copy!

I was born in 1943 in Montpelier, Idaho.  It wasn’t until after World War II that I first became aware of the term Victory Garden, but I well remember my grandparents’ garden from those days, even though I didn’t know the name and they probably didn’t call it that.  To them, it was just the garden.

Painting by Janice Minjin Yang

Straightforward.  Spare.  It sounded so much like Nyel that he could have been inside my head reading it to me.  He went on to tell about his grandfather, a conductor on the Union Pacific Railroad — He grew just about every vegetable you could think of, but my favorites were the carrots, which I was allowed to dig and eat right there in the garden, with the dirt rubbed off on my Levi’s.

And he went on to tell about the Nyel I knew for forty years: Wherever I have lived since then, I always tried to have a garden whenever possible, some large and some not so large.  Today I’m trying to garden in pots, in a very small area off our kitchen.  So far, some things have been very successful, some were a complete bust.  The experiment continues.

And so it will, dear Nyel… with the inspiration of your words and the help from Maggie’s wonderful book.  And so it will!