Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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

At long last! It’s Dahlia Season in Oysterville!

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

White and Spikey

It’s been a weird year garden-wise here at my place.  Almost all the flowers came late and began to fade away almost as soon as they had time to say “hello.”  At first I thought it was because summer took its time to arrive and then gave us too much wind and very little rain but my friends say it’s been “a great summer” and look at me as if I’ve been on another planet.

Perfect in Pink!

I guess it’s one of those eye-of-the-beholder things and my garden and I have mostly been beholding mole hills and bird nests.  But, now the dahlias have come out in full force and I am in my usual quandary — to pick or not to pick.  I so love seeing them brightening the garden that I hesitate to approach with my snippety-snips.

On the other hand… there’s nothing like bringing a bit of the outside in!  I do so enjoy seeing their stately blossoms and gorgeous colors as I move around the house throughout the day.  They make me think of my father — he always had dahlias, every place we lived, and usually had “a cutting garden” so he could leave the decorative bedding plants alone.  He often spoke of his mother’s dahlia garden in Boston when he was a boy and how she would stop at homes of perfect strangers to ask for bulbs.

Color, Color Everywhere!

I’m not even close to being that cheeky — and, thanks to my friend Patricia, I don’t need to be.  Her Long Beach garden is a dahlia lover’s Paradise and she is generous about sharing.  In fact, I wonder how many of my current plants came from her,  And, come to think of it, some of hers originally came from here many years back.  (My dad and Nana would be proud!)

I’m All Done In and It Wasn’t The Gin!

Sunday, July 23rd, 2023

Kuzzin Kris and Her Little Red Wagon

No!  Unlike whoever Eliza Doolittle was talking about, it wasn’t the gin that done me in.  It was the kuzzins — Kris Jones and her brother Bruce Jones.  (We didn’t even have any gin.)  And, besides that, they aren’t my kuzzins.  They are first cousins of some of my 2nd cousins  which, scientifically (probably), makes them shirttail relatives.  I really think they might be my siblings separated at birth and with different parents.

We aren’t really all that much alike.  Kris is a singer — an opera singer back in the day — is deeply into meditation — and remembers every joke her Grandfather L.D. Williams ever told her. (And repeats them in his voice.  Totally.)  She lives in Eugene, Oregon, teaches voice, meditation, and works with the University music people there to do fabulous productions or at least that’s what I think.  I’ve never seen her “in action.”

Bruce Jones, Seriously

Bruce and I have one tiny thread in common — we both worked for Blue Cross of Northern California, but about ten years apart.  Otherwise, he’s way smarter about things like spreadsheets and math-y things and now that he’s retired, he is an artist — watercolors, stone sculpure etc.  He lives in Guallala, California and is heavy into the art scene there.  He’s also on the Sewage Board. And maybe other things.  I have never succeeded in having a straightforward conversation with him — everything always goes zany right away and  I laugh until my eyes water.  (And so does he.)

So… they arrived Friday evening, and they fit right into the Friday Night Gathering — even weighing in on the serious subjects at hand like the disturbing news that there seems to be a John Birrch Society alive and well in Pacific County.  They, like I, remember the 1970s and the disaster the John Birchers created in Orange County, California — a disaster that still reverberates in Southern California.

Happy Birthday to Kris!

Saturday we spent time playing cribbage (them), eating (all of us), and checking out the place Kris lived in Ocean Park a few years back.  We also went up to the Cemetery to say “Hi” to Nyel and mostly just reminisced about our childhoods — when they were little and ran roughshod over their cousins at the red house and I was already a sophisticated teenager and really don’t remember them at all!  (To be fair, they don’t remember me either.  We obviously travelled in different circles.)

Today was Kris’s 83rd birthday and Bruce took us both out to breakfast in Ocean Park.  We tried to behave — so hard with those two — and afterwards they headed south, homeward bound, and I returned to Oysterville for a few minutes.  And then… another day another blog is needed to tell “the rest of the story.”

Not on your tintype or in a month of Sundays

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Dad (William Woodworth Little) and Me (Sydney Medora Little) – 1937

I can’t remember who said what yesterday, but whoever and whatever it was (or they were) prompted my rather adamant thought:  “Not on your tintype!”  Wow!  Where did THAT come from?  It’s an expression my dad used occasionally but I hadn’t thought of it in years — probably not in a month of Sundays.

I Googled “tintype” which resulted in a refresher course in early photography but I quickly back-tracked to old expressions which were once everyday sorts of things and that you don’t hear much any more.

“Billy” – My dad at seven years old – 1916

Not since “Hector was a pup,” actually.  Little did I know that Hector referred back to the Trojan War god who children at the turn of the 20th century studied about in school.  Apparently Hector was, in more modern parlance, “one cool dude” and young boys often named their dogs after him.  Who knew?  Again, that’s an expression my father sometimes used and, since he was born in 1910, the timing is about right.

Another of Dad’s expressions (usually used after a rich and delicious dinner) was, “I’ll see my Aunt Mariah tonight!”  There was no doubt in my mind that he thought he’d have the gollywobbles and it simply never occurred to me to ask who Aunt Mariah was.  As far as I know, she wasn’t anyone related to us.

Mom and Dad (Dale and Bill Little) – 1982-ish

And so last evening passed in a series of reveries about old-fashioned expressions and thoughts of my dad and gentler (or at least more gentlemanly) times.  Not a bad way to spend a few hours,  if truth be told.

My First Cousins

Monday, February 13th, 2023

Wallace, Sydney, Charles — the three oldest — at Fort Canby, 1938

I once had nine first cousins — seven on the Espy side and two on the Little side.  For most of our lives we have lived far apart but I consider myself lucky, indeed, to have known all of them — both on their home turf and on my own and lucky, too, that all of them have been in Oysterville.  Even my father’s nephews Craig and Brian have been here — twice I think.   Two others — my oldest cousin, Wallace Pearson, and Willard’s youngest daughter Cassin Espy actually lived here for a bit, years ago and not at the same time.  But in both instances, I was here and got to know them well.

I am the third oldest in age — the oldest of the six of us still living.  I am shamelessly sentimental about all of them — I love them to pieces, am SO proud of their accomplishments, of their characters, of their families, and of being related to such a remarkable group.  Do I ever tell them so?  Not that you’d notice.  If absence makes the heart grow fonder, it also plays havoc with staying in touch. Charlie and I are talking about going East next fall and paying a visit to each an every one.  I SO hope we can make that happen.

Cousins Mona, Joey, Freddy, Cassy with Great Aybt Dora and Their Mother Hilda – 1947

Yesterday I received a  lovely letter from Craig Little, the oldest of my father’s two nephews and the one who looks so much like Dad that even the two of them remarked upon it.  Three years ago Craig was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease although I’ve only recently learned of it.  He wrote me a long email letter yesterday — I can’t imagine the effort it took — and attached an article from the local paper (Cortland, NY) that he wrote for them recently.  I wish I could quote the entire article, but here are a few of the things that struck me:
There have been positives, as well.  I have already mentioned how the diagnosis of PD explained to me (and  others) many of the behaviors I had been exhibiting for some time…  I have learned to be more patient because nearly everything — from getting dressed to eating a meal — has to be done with INTENT, doing but one thing at a time.  I have slowed down considerably which, if you “go with it” can give you a fresh perspective and experience of things like nature that you never took the time to notice before…
    (Guest columnist Craig B. Little is the Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at SUNY  Cortland.)


Cuzzin Ralph Confronts the Crouches.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

Cuzzin Ralph and Sydney Working on WRE Archive, 2008

So many folks have asked me how I thought the ghosts of the unrighteous Reverend Crouch and his once-upon-a-time bride Sarah would react when Cuzzin Ralph came to spend a day or two.  It’s not that Ralph hasn’t been here before — many times in fact.  The Crouches (either or both) have had plenty of opportunities to make themselves known to him.  But so far…

Cheryl, Ralph, Sydney, Nyel, Virg — Christmas 2021, Oysterville

Not a moan or a groan or a typewritten note.  Not even the lid of an incense burner tossed across the room.  And if you have read my two books, “Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula” (2014) and “Haunted Histories of the Long Beach Peninsula” (2021), you will know exactly of what I speak.  I believe that ghost buster Madam X, who also made her appearance in “Haunted Histories…” would have had the perfect explanation.  In fact I think that my mother did, too.

Mrs. Crouch, as my mother often said, hung around this Oysterville parsonage because she was happy when she was living here in 1893.  My ghostbusting friend, Madam X, often said the same thing about the souls she confronted.  Some just didn’t want to leave — they liked where they were.  And if they were bothering those still on this side of the veil, it was usually because they didn’t realize it.

Cuzzin Ralph At My Gate, 2023

Mrs. Crouch has never really been more than a playful nuisance to anyone living in this house.  We’ve all been curious about exactly what happened to her and to her womanizing husband.  But, we’ve just been after the historical facts — especially Ralph who has used his internet research skills to great advantage.  Since the Reverend never tried to cover up his behavior — or to change his ways –I can only conclude that he was well-satisfied with himself and has no grudge to bear against Cuzzin Ralph for telling his story the way it was.

But… we will see.  The cousins are only halfway through their stay here.  So far, the Crouches have maintained their silence and have “behaved” as far as we know.  But… you never can tell for sure with ghosts.


Another Naked Turkey Story!

Sunday, November 27th, 2022

Not Quite Table-Ready!

Some years ago,when I was nine, I wrote a story called “The Naked Turkey” for the Children’s section of the Oakland Tribune.  It was my first published work and was life-changing — but not in a way you might imagine.  You can read it in my blog of November 21, 2010 at:

This year I ventured forth on my first solo trip without Nyel as navigator and, amazingly (and among a few other disasters) that naked bird came back to haunt me.  (Actually, it appeared in all its glory to my Thanksgiving hostess, Kuzzin Kris.)

There had been a bit of a premonition about how this holiday would go.  When I took my lunch break at the Salem Rest Stop, my GPS stopped working.  “Never mind,” thought I.  “I have Kris’s very clear written directions for which freeway exit, off ramps etc. to take me to her new apartment in Beautiful Downtown Eugene.”

Not As Simple As It Appears

Of course, I didn’t think about how I might keep one eye on the road and the other on the rather complicated directions which, I soon gave up and just got the hell off the converging on, off and who-know-what ramps as fast as possible.  I ended up in a HUGE GoodWill parking lot and a lovely young woman talked on my cell phone to Kris and explained…

That was Wednesday.  On Thursday, we”scratched-and-laughed” and got ready for Kris’s friend. Judy, who was joining us for dinner.  No cooking, though.  The entire meal, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and even brussel sprouts with garlic would be ready for pick-up at Safeway at three o’clock.  Kris, in full hostess mode, went by herself to pick up the meal in her little red wagon.

It seemed to take a long time and, when she returned, Kris was a bit subdued.  Apparently all the accoutrements were cooked to perfection but the turkey was not only naked but totally raw.  A discussion ensued (as you might imagine).  Kris had been gone from Eugene for several years and during the interim Safeway had stopped offering cooked turkeys.  Which prompted a lot of questions like then why offer a full Thanksgiving meal ready to eat???  Time for such deep marketing examination was limited however…

Kris And Her Handy-Dandy Little Red Wagon

“But what shall I do?” she asked the clerks (who I think by this time had gathered ’round in sympathy.)   “How about chicken?” someone said.  “We have both roasted and fried and we could cut them up and give you the portions you’d like of each kind…”

“Done!” said Kris!  And I have to say that it was the best Thanksgiving Turkey-less dinner ever!  Topped off by two pies and then a visit to another friend’s place for two more pies.

I’m sure there were lessons learned, as well.  But, really… who cares?  We were replete!

Oh no! Not more treasures!

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

“Self,” I said to myself… “It’s high time to get on with this downsizing project!”  It’s a project Nyel and I began several years ago with an eye to leaving the house in understandable condition when it’s our time to shuffle off. “Understandable” translates to getting rid of all of our personal “stuff” — those keepsakes and photos and endless file folders of written material that will mean nothing to those who will be here next.

We made good progress and between the things that went to museum archives and collections, the things that are designated for family members, the things that we took to thrift stores and Good Will, and the detritus we threw out, we  probably redistributed 80% of the items in the garage and our back forty storage area.  But even so, what remains seems daunting.

I began this morning with a heavy cardboard box labeled Dale’s Photos etc. ’98? “Piece of cake,” I thought to myself.  “Those were the years when mom was at Golden Sands and later at the nursing home.  I probably took most of those pictures myself.  They’ll be easy to cull…”

And the first thing I ran across was an envelope sent from Williams, Arizona on March 22, 1931 — addressed to “Miss Dale Espy” in Redlands California and written in my father’s familiar handwriting  Postage: 2 cents.  It turned out  to be a letter written after my not-yet-dad and a friend had hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back while on Spring Break from the University of Redlands.  Two weeks later, on Easter Sunday (April 5th), Dale Espy and Bill Little would announce their engagement.

Hard on the heels of that treasure, I ran across a postcard in my own tidy 22-year-old’s handwriting sent from Perugia, Italy on March 8, 1958.  The picture on the front was of Michelangelo’s “David” and I reported that we (Charlie’s dad and I)) were still crazy about Italy and that “Quad (which was Charlie’s toddler- nickname) is fine.”

Maybe it’s going to take longer to go through this box than expected…

When considering the alternatives…

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

Oysterville Church, South Side

… our corner of the world really does look like a better place this morning.  The sun is shining. Friends and loved ones are sending cheering thoughts to Nyel (and to me!).  Even the chickens seemed glad that Farmer Nyel is home and I think they have promised another egg — though, as we know, there are never any guarantees with chickens.

Most importantly, Nyel seems more cheerful, even though he says he feels the same as before (which is basically like sh**.) He says his improved outlook is because he has greater faith in Dr. Trusted at the UW Medical Center than he did with the situation here in Astoria.  The wheels are turning as we speak toward getting him an admission date up there.  Perhaps he will have a date before the day is over.

Meanwhile, we have heard from my Austrian cousin Eva in response to my “how’s it going” query regarding the troubles in Eastern Europe.  She wrote:

Austrian Cousins Eva and Lina Richardson

“You are right – we are living in a mad world. The war in Ukraine is on our doorstep. We are all very worried about everything escalating. I must say here, I am grateful to Biden for not answering to the aggression. Just imagine, what Trump would have done in this crisis.
     I read the news almost hourly, always afraid of the war. The Ukrainian people are coming in droves, the first ones have already arrived in Austria, even here in our little town. They are getting a very warm welcome, (which makes me feel uneasy about all the Syrian and Afghanistan refugees here (who are not welcome at all).  But already two million (!) people have fled from Ukraine. And I think many more will follow.
     We think about staying or leaving, my sons and nephews wonder if they would fight with weapons – none of our sons served their year in the Army, all of them did civil service with the Red Cross. But things have really changed in a very short time.
     I realize how lucky we were to grow up in peace, I am very thankful for all the good things that were possible, like going to school, working, raising children, being in pension without any financial worries, a very good medical system etc etc. 
   Last night I went to a gathering, where a young Ukrainian women told us that she was forced to leave her home in Donbass eight years ago. She moved to Kiev and started all over from zero, now the same thing again – only much worse. 

We are reminded, once again, how fortunate we are to live here on this little patch of sand and water.

My crowning glory? Not so much.

Saturday, November 20th, 2021

Medora, circa 1913

My grandmother felt that a woman’s hair was “her crowning glory” and,  was full of advice for her eldest daughter, Medora — even by letter when Medora was away at boarding school.  In this note, written on November 2,  1914, she said:

 I do hope you are not slicking up the sides of your hair.  I know it will take the curl out.  Ruth ought to be a continual object lesson to you as to how pretty hair can be ruined.  You can leave it soft and curling around your face and still show your ears.  In fact, when you take the frame of your hair from your face it is like plucking the petals off a daisy and leaving the bald pod.  Some people’s hair is not a necessity.  Yours is – so is mine.

I’m not sure what she meant about her sister Ruth’s hair.  Try as I might, I can find no pictures of Ruth that show “ruined” hair.  But, Medora’s hair, was definitely an “issue” as the letter written just a week later demonstrates:

Medora, 1915

Tuesday, November 10, 1914
       Remember, I don’t want you to wear your hair up.  It does not matter who likes it up.  Up in back makes you look like a Dutch waitress in a German bakery.  On top is becoming, but too old.  With little curls sticking out of a psyche, you would be a picture, but wait for awhile.  I was in a rush to get mine on top, but am thankful my mother had me keep it down until graduation year.

I think that epistle would have stopped me dead in my tracks, but if it slowed Medora down, it was not for long.  In her diary of Thursday, March 18, 1915, Mama’s sixteen-year-old first born wrote:

I have been wearing my hair up for two weeks and I don’t like it at all but I want to impress people that I am old

Ruth Buzzi and Her Hairnet

She was still a year and a half away from graduation.  Perhaps in the interim Mama had relented.  I hope so because, against all odds, this lovely, vibrant girl died in her sleep, perhaps of an aneurysm, on January 18, 1916 — just 15 days after her 17th birthday and six months before her graduation.

I thought about my grandmother and Medora and crowning glories early this morning when I woke up from a fine night’s sleep during which I had apparently had been wired into an electrical outlet.  My hair, short and fine and tending toward frizz, was standing straight up all across the top of my head.  I think what I need is a Ruth Buzzi hairnet.  But don’t mention it to Granny!