Posts Tagged ‘Charles M. Howell IV’

.”…with one a little backwards..”

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

The photo Marta took only tells part of the story!  “Here we be the Sapiens Three (with 1 a little backwards…?” she wrote.  Both she and Charlie understood why Marta’s photo (she being the photographer) was backward and I think they felt they could figure out the solution but we were running out of time.  And anyway, to my way of thinking, it represents the three of us quite well!

Marta’s the “Take Charge” one of the trio.  She sets up our zoom meetings choosing a time that will coordinate with her busy pet sitting business — usually Sunday, sometimes Monday evenings.  And she’s the one who is often gobsmacked by one of Harari’s revelations — like the impact the Agricultural Revolution has had and is still having on us and the planet.  She brings it “home” — right on down to Trader Joe’s and Jack’s Country Store!

Charlie is the “Voice of Reason” and also the one who can often bring deep historical perspective and classic literature into our discussions.  I am always amazed at his analysis of the ideas presented — often parsing the language and even the ideas with references to Latin or Ancient Greek.  (I forget that he took courses at UCLA  — or was it USC? — when he was writing comedy scripts for Disney and Hanna-Barbera.  He wanted to understand the humor of Aristogenes in the original, for instance.  (I hope he weighs in on the comments here.  I’ve undoubtedly misremembered.)

Even The Illustrations Are Evocative

And my contribution?  Probably the typical teacher tricks — asking for clarifications, explanations, getting us all to connect the dots.  But not to illuminate things for their edification as was my role for years in the classroom. In this group, I’m the learner as much as they and the one seeking explanations, or at least that’s how I perceive myself.  And, of course, I’m the one who sets the goals — how many chapters (or more like pages) for next week.

But we are seldom on the same page — in more ways than one!  And that’s the fun of it!


Our Zooming Book Club

Tuesday, October 10th, 2023

I’m sure in this Newest Age of Technology — the one we’ve shaped to fit being mindful during Covid — there are many Book Clubs that have resorted to Zoom Get-Togethers to stay abreast of their latest selections.  And, likewise, I imagine that families who have been keeping in touch through the face-to-face possibilities provided by modern technology have also discovered the potential of sharing favorite authors and titles.

Marta and  Charlie and I have been conference calling and zooming for a number of years now, but it wasn’t until our cousin Alex sent me two books — a companion set by Yuval Noah Harari  and I became “hooked” —  that I suggested my son and bonus-daughter might also enjoy them.

Wow!  I can’t tell you how much fun our discussions are and how much disparity there sometimes is in our “takes” on whatever we’ve just read.  Also, of course, agreement on much of it, and the desire to read more, travel more (well, them, not me so much) and learn more about what he says.

But, first, I should say that, according to the blurb in the front of Sapiens: “Dr. Harari has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History.  His books, Sapiens, Homo Deus, and Lessons for the 21st Century (which the three of us don’t have yet) have become an international phenomenon.

If you are looking for a new way to consider the present state of of the world and where we might be taking ourselves, I highly recommend Dr. Harari’s books.  But — if you want an even richer reading experience — underline the reading and don’t even think “TV” —  read them simultaneously with The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, most especially books 6, 7, and 8 in that series.  OMG!

Definitely food for thought.  And so meaningful to share thoughts about them with the younger generation!

September 13, 1987 seems so short ago.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

September 13, 1987

Thirty-six years ago today

Nyel and I were married

At Croquet.

Gordon was my Bridesmaid,

Roy was Best Man.

Joel Penoyar did the honors

Much to Willard’s chagrin!

Wedding Picture by Kati Downer

It was a surprise to everyone

Except to my son Charlie

My mother had the vapors

Dad had another drink.

I gave Michelle my bouquet

And she took it to class for sharing,

Proceeds?  To Water Music that year.

It was the best wedding ever!

Wedding Pillow from The Franks


Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Margot Merah and Kathryn Claire

It’s always hard for me to think of Sunday as the first day of the week.  After all, it’s the last day of the weekEND.  Even when I was a child I was confused by that.  And then the new school week (which became a work week when I began teaching) started on Monday — obviously the first day of the week.  Not Sunday.  Monday!

Well, first or last, today was a lovely day.  Vespers with Kathryn Claire and Margot Merah was spectacular!  Dayle Olson said afterwards that she had only heard such lovely harmonies when some sisters sing together, and I agreed.  Cate and Starla Gable are the perfect example of what I think of as “genetic harmony.” Kathryn and Margot must certainly be sisters in another dimension.  Once again I remember what “achingly beautiful” means.  So I think that part of my Sunday put a cap on a wonderful week (except for the plumbing issues) and set me up for a glorious week to come.

Zooming Into Next Week

Then — an early dinner at the Roo with Maggie Stuckey and David and Dayle Olson.  Great food.  Wonderful company.  Terrible ambiance.  SO SO LOUD.  But we perservered and enjoyed one another anyway.  When the immediate company is a delight, it’s easier to tune out the surroundings!  That part of Sunday was a mixed bag — a fine hullaballo ending to last week and a lovely conversation of mutual interests to start this week.

And finally — Marta, Charlie, and I talked and laughed our way out of last week and into this week with our usual Sunday Night Zoom Meeting!  Of Course!  It was Sunday-Go-To-Meeting-Day — almost all day long!




This old house takes a family…

Monday, July 10th, 2023

The First Two Sections — A Family Accomplishment!

Along the west side of our house, between the public right-of-way and the fence line, my father planted a row of Jean Marie Rhododendrons.  (Or did Nyel plant them when we first moved in?  I’ll have to look that up…)  In any case, once they became well-established they began to grow like Topsy.  (And if you remember who Topsy was, please let me know.)

Nyel-the-Rhodie-Trimmer, 2020.

For a few years, Nyel would trim them neatly in the late spring and they pretty much stayed under control.  More recently, when he was wheel-chair-bound, he and I tackled them, every spring or summer… usually.  When Marta came for summer visits, she got into the act, as well..  It was definitely a family gardening project and Nyel, being Chief Plant Guy took on the job of Quality Control.  He even made a small standing measuring stick so we could be somewhat consistent.

Today’s helper: My Little Red Wagon!

Last summer (after his death in early June), I honestly don’t remember if we gave the rhodies a thought.  Probably not because by this summer they have been threatening to block our kitchen windows and obliterate the south garden fence.  Enter Charlie and Marta — to the rescue.  Of the four sections, there is one short one — horizontally that is– to the north; two medium-sized ones; and one ominously long one at the south end of the property   The kids and I did a fine job on the short and one of the medium-length ones.  Not half of the total, but a good start.

The Final Section – for tomorrow.

Today I did the second of the medium-lengths.  It took about two hours and I can’t say it looks perfect but… it’ll do.  Tomorrow I’ll tackle the longest section in which the Dorothy Perkins Roses have intertwined themselves.  It may be a scratchy two or three-day job.  Stay tuned.

And where are those “kids” when I need them?  There have been a few interested tourists.  Perhaps I could try my Tom Sawyer routine on them…

Fifteen Hours of Lace and… what ladder?

Thursday, July 6th, 2023

Charlie Threading Curtain Rods

It took three of us — Marta, Charlie and me — three days to take down the old lace curtains from the windows on our twelve-foot-high walls, wash them one-by-one and rehang them.  Fifteen hours of threading curtain rods through delicate channels of material and then spotting Marta as she stood tip-toe on Tucker’s six-foot ladder, none of which we can prove because we were too busy to take pictures.  (Except, of course, when all was said and done and the ladder was on its way home.)

Curtains at Twilight in the East Room

So… you’ll have to take my word for it.  The curtains fairly glow!  The rooms even smell fresher and we think they are probably good for another twenty years.  “That lets us out!” smile Charlie and Marta who will be my age and older by then.

Charlie At Work On Rhodies

Our other big project involves trimming the Jean Marie Rhododendrons on the west side of the house.  We are about half-way through (Marta says only a third) and may or may not complete our task before Departure Day on Saturday.  “Not to worry,” I say.  “I think I can manage, given enough time.”

Marta and Curtains

And, after all… what do we retired types have more of than time?  Answer (if we’re lucky):  Kids who devote two weeks of their precious time to helping us do the things we have difficulties with these days.  What could be better?




Marta LaRue is HOW old??!!!

Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

For the second year in a row, Bonus Daughter Marta LaRue of Marin County, California, has celebrated her birthday dinner at the Depot Restaurant in Seaview.  Some of us were with her both years and we no doubt look at least twelve months older this time around.  Marta, on the other hand. told us last year that she was celebrating her 68th birthday.  This year… well, you can figure it out.  And she still looks “going on sixteen” to me!

Pat and Charlie

Whatever her secret elixir is, its magic seems to be catching — at least in terms of enthusiasm and a certain amount of silliness and gigantic dollops of joie de vivre!  We dined with our friends Noel and Pat Thomas and all of us lost ten or more years in the process.  (And probably gained ten or more pounds!)  Have you tried the Depot’s Dungeness Crab Mac?  OMG!)

Sydney, Noel, and Marta — in Marta’s Selfie

We talked about old times, new projects, the difficulties of aging and all the usual “stuff” old friends managed to cram into a get-together that has become all too rare as the years gallop along!  Pat mentioned that she and Noel and I are the last of “The Picnic Crowd” that once included 20 or more of us — Gordon Schoewe and Roy Gustafson, Jim and Kay Buesing, Charlie and Kaye Mulvey, Bette Newell, Nyel. Dorothy and Chuck Huggins, Dottie and Lee McHugh, Gordon’s Cousin Jeanne and more, besides.

And what I kept thinking was that Marta and Charlie are older than we were then…

Looking at Marta’s Selfie




Big Boom, Old Lace, and Evening Fire Circle

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

July 4, 2023

“Oh say can you see…” we all sang, even though some of us could scarcely hear at that point.   The Honorary Oysterville Militia’s Fourth of July Firing Crew had just completed their salute to our nation’s birthday.  For those who had forgotten their earplugs, that BOOM was still resounding even as the smoke cleared!

Developing a Strategic Plan

The ceremony began with a reading of James Swan’s story of the first Fourth of July on Shoalwater Bay in 1853.  “The party broke up at an early hour,” he wrote, “and all declared that, with the exception of the absence of a cannon, they never had a pleasanter Fourth.”  I’m quite sure that the firing of T.H.O.M.’s replica 1842 mountain howitzer made up for that 170-year-old oversight!

Marta and Old Lace

Marta, Charlie, and I then fortified ourselves with a bit of lunch and began a task I’ve been putting off for ten (or maybe twenty!) years.  We took down all of the lace curtains in the living room, washed them, and put them back up — not an easy task, but oh! what a spectacular difference it made!  Three more rooms to go before the best help ever leaves on Saturday!

Charlie and Tucker

Then we went over to Tucker and Carol’s for a spectacular evening of tacos (soft or hard, take your pick), a choice of ice cream sundaes or root beer floats for dessert and then storytelling out by their fire circle.  The battlefield noises from the beach seemed to surround us as it grew dark and, tired though we were, we wondered if we’d get to sleep tonight.  But once back home and inside the house, the sounds were marvelously muted.

Four at the Fire Pit

Marta and Charlie headed for a few games of cribbage and I am heading for bed.  Tomorrow:  more curtains and a celebratory birthday dinner for Marta at the Depot with friends Noel and Patty Thomas!

Party! Party! Party!

Over the river and out of the woods…

Monday, July 3rd, 2023

We had designated today as “Errand Day” — looking for a new stove to replace the dual-fuel one that is so scary to me; searching for comfortable slippers for Charlie — he-has-serious-foot-problems-probably-genetic-don’t-ask; a stop at Verizon with cell phone questions, and, best of all, lunch at the Bridgewater Bistro.

But Marta woke up feeling puny after a dreadful night of vertigo which attacks when least expected.   Charlie and I left her home to recover but we apparently couldn’t get away from the house quickly enough — not before a lens fell out of my glasses adding a stop at the optician’s to our list of errands.  It seriously promised to be “one of THOSE days!”

As it turned out, though, the day was wonderfully successful!  My glasses were fixed before we left the Peninsula.  I found an electric stove on sale at J.&S Appliances — 1/2 price during their Happy Fourth of July Sale.  It will be delivered in August.  Both Charlie and I got satisfactory help with our Verizon cell phone problems, and although Charlie didn’t find the slippers he had hoped for, the sales people at Gimre’s had some good ideas for him to follow up on when he gets home to L.A.

Best of all, we had a fabulous lunch at the Bistro — Charlie’s treat, as it turned out! I am still replete — Caesar salad, steak frites, creme brulé, coffee for me and for Charlie a house salad, salmon with several vegetable sides, and a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream drizzled with both chocolate and caramel sauce and with an extra cup of chocolate fudge sauce on the side.  And coffee.  And a coke.  OMG!  SOOO good!  Having said all that though, we truly missed that special something that Ann and Tony provided for so many years!

Before we came back to our side of the river, we stopped to get a little bubbly to top off the cannon shooting tomorrow!  AND festive holiday cups to drink it from!  Let the Good Times continue!  Especially with my one and only son!  I am so blessed!

Fun! Fun! Fun! And a froggy, too!

Saturday, July 1st, 2023

Me and My Little Red Wagon

Another day to remember!  One of those Fun Fun Fun Days even after I took my little red wagon out for some serious work in the garden!  We had spent the morning at the Artisan Fair at the Oysterville Schoolhouse. Loved the music, the crafts, seeing so many friends among the vendors and the attendees!  We could have stayed all day but Marta and Charlie and I all heard the rhododendrons calling.

Charlie at Work

It was the out-of-control Jean Maries along the west side of the house begging us to give them a trim…please!  I’m not sure I did any trimming last year so they’ve  had two glorious seasons of non-stop growth.  Enough is enough so… off to work we went!

Charlie, looking dapper in one of Nyel’s old cowboy hats, was the bagger.  Marta, slathered in sunscreen and also shaded by a wide-brimmed chapeau took one pair of clippers and I, the other.  We had our “measuring stick” (fashioned years ago by Nyel-the-Rhodie-Trimmer) and we bravely began.

Marta LaRue. Fashionista Rhodie-Trimmer

Our method was to cut as carefully as we could, toss the cuttings into my little red wagon, whereupon Charlie transferred them into those huge  plastic garbage bags “for outdoor use”.  We worked on two sections of rhodies — about 1/3 of the total length of what awaited — and Charlie filled three of those huge bags.

Just as we were about to call it a day, Marta discovered a little tree frog clinging to a leaf that she was about to cut and toss.  She and Charlie rescued him before he went sailing into the wagon, making sure he was happy on a nearby leaf.  (I had wanted to transfer him to the fuchsias in the hanging baskets on the porch but my suggestion was over-ridden.)  Somehow, Froggy had let it be known to Marta and Charlie that he was a Rhododendron Froggy, not a Fuchsia Froggy.

Froggy Looking For His Rhododendron

So… there you have it.  Another fabulous Saturday in Beautiful Downtown Oysterville.  And did I mention that many folks stopped to talk with us on their way to or from the Artisan Fair, but none mistook us for Tom Sawyer…