Posts Tagged ‘Summer in Oysterville’

Before Nyel got the news… Casey was there.

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

YAY! A new publication by Casey!

I went to get the mail about the time Nyel started dinner — twelve gorgeous clams brought to us by friends.  Gorgeous clams, cleaned and each in one piece.  Easy to believe they were dug that very morning.  They were beautiful.

The package, carefully rolled a bit to fit in our postbox, was from Stevenson, Washington.  I knew before I opened it that it was a new book of poetry from Casey.   I’ve been bugging him about publishing again — as I’m sure many folks have.  And I’ve been vaguely aware that he’s been doing so, by  ones and twos in poetry journals and publications that poetry neophytes like myself know little about.   A nest blew down is a collection of thirty-six of Casey’s poems and, of course, I choose to think that if I hadn’t been bugging him over the past few years it wouldn’t have happened.

I read them aloud as Nyel cooked.  Some were hard to think about.  No.  Make that all of them were.  They sounded like Casey — but Casey in later-than-midlife.  The time when looking ahead gets easier in some ways than looking back.  “Although austere in tone…” began the blurb on the back cover, written by Paulanne Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita.  Hmmm.  I’m not sure that’s the descriptor I’d choose.  But, then, I’m not sure I have the right one, either.

And then, as the time to eat grew closer, I read Nyel’s name!  It was about halfway down the page in a poem titled “The guy who couldn’t see color.”  There is only one Nyel (at least for me).  And only one Casey who came to St. Vincent’s and managed to get into the ICU to see Nyel when the anesthesiologist halted his hip surgery because he was not doing well.  “Nyel might not walk again” begins the third stanza of Casey’s poem.

It’s really hard to eat clams through tears.  It’s really hard when you have to put hugging and visiting on hold.  It’s really hard to find a word that’s the opposite of austere to describe Casey’s work.  Especially when it comes to the poem that mentions Nyel.

Sailing To Catch The Moon

Monday, September 20th, 2021


When my friend Barb and I were setting up a telephone date for yesterday, she said to try her at five o’clock our time.  “We’ll be sailing to catch the moon,” she said, “but we should be home by then.”  Home is in Cohasset, Massachusetts and, even though we did connect last evening, I never did find out exactly how you sail to catch the moon.  I did ask if they were successful.  “Yes, but the wind died so we caught it from the deck of the clubhouse.  It was great!”  Her laughter, as always, was infectious.

Last Night’s Moon Over Willapa Bay

Barbara Hedges Canney and I have been friends for more than forty years — since before she met husband John and since before I met Nyel.  We’ve worked together, played together, laughed and cried together and visited back and forth across the country.  She is one of my closest friends though many miles (and quite a few years) separate us.  But Barb is one of those fabulous people who probably has many friends who feel about her just as I do.

Barb’s Boat

Nyel’s birthday present to me last year was a gift of Barbara’s help in organizing my files — maybe for ten days or so.  The “gift certificate” was given to me on February 28, 2020 and, of course before we could get our ducks in a row (or our sails unfurled) Covid hit.  We’ve been re-planning and hoping ever since.  And, the “working trip” has expanded to include John and some quality visiting time — maybe even some sailing on the bay if Barb can line up a boat.

But first… well, you know.  We await fair winds and following seas and some assurances that there will only be full moons to catch…

Was Sunday ever “a day of rest”?

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Sydney and Erin — At Sunday Brunch

It seems to me that Sunday is a scrambling day.  Scrambling to finish up what didn’t get done on Saturday.  Scrambling to get things started (and finished!) for Sunday dinner.  Scrambling to get our ducks in a row for the upcoming week.  Why did we used to call it “a day of rest” anyway?

I do remember that when I was just beginning school in Alameda, my mother got up to see me off to Sunday School… and then went back to bed.  Only once in a while did my parents go to church and when I asked why, they said they had had enough church at the University of Redlands — a Baptist institution — to last a lifetime.  I think they were obligated to attend a church service every day and I specifically remember her saying that there were five (count ’em five services) on Sundays.  YIKES!  So maybe they felt they had earned a day of rest.  Or at least a morning.

Blum’s, San Francisco – 1890s – 1970s

I do remember, too, that it was often on Sundays that we “went for a drive” — sometimes out into the countryside where we once bought my dog, Zipper.  And sometimes (at Christmastime, especially) into San Francisco to see the Christmas trees in the windows along the Marina or to wander the downtown streets and look at the magical displays in the department store windows.  Sometimes on Sundays we went and got a hot fudge sundae (which I always thought was funny — a sundae on a Sunday) as a special treat.

Looking back, I don’t know that Sundays were as much a day of rest as a day to have family fun — the only day of the week with two working parents that such activities were possible.  But like they say: a change is as good as a rest.  And therein must lie the problem when you are retired and every day is a sort of Sunday…

Toes Up On The South Lawn

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Windy Aftermath

Once again the garden chairs have been blown belly-up by the wind.  It doesn’t take much to buffet these plastic Adirondack chairs into submission.  After all, they are lightweight enough that I can stack all four and carry them from place to place.  So,  a “real storm” is hardly a requirement for blowing them over.

Nevertheless, yesterday could almost be classified as “stormy” here in Oysterville.  The rain seemed relentless, as did the wind.  The flags on the churchyard flagpole whipped and snapped all day and it was cold and gray and uninviting out.

Last Night’s Cozy Fire

Besides which, the chickens had gone to roost by five o’clock — about two hours early for these last days of summer.  They were hunkered down, seemingly resigned to a long and drafty night with the wind whistling around the coop. I wonder if this gloom and sog while summer is still upon us portends a difficult autumn and winter ahead.

On the other hand… the sun is shining this morning as we speak, despite the weatherman’s prognostication of more rainy gloom and doom for today and tomorrow.  That’s the best part of the weather here in Oysterville:  if you don’t like it, wait a minute and it’ll change!

Just call me Sydney-the-Unwilling…

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Vilma Silva as Julius Caesar, Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2017

Maybe it’s an age thing — as in getting set in my ways.  Or maybe the world has just begun changing faster than I can keep up.  Whatever the reason, I’m definitely losing my “willing suspension of disbelief”  — you know,  that “intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something unreal or impossible in reality, such as a work of speculative fiction, in order to believe it for the sake of enjoyment.”

I first ran into my wall of unwillingness several years ago at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.  I don’t remember the specifics — it was one of Shakespeare’s history plays, maybe Henry IV Part I or II — and one of the commanders in battle was portrayed by a woman.  Fair enough.  But the character was also portrayed AS a woman with pronouns changed to fit the circumstances.  What was not changed was that she had a wife at home.  All okay in my book except that these were really-o, truly-o historical characters and in real life the commander was a man, not a woman.

Uwe Kockisch as Guido Brunetti

My actor son Charlie was with us on that trip and we discussed the situation at length.  He gave me the “insider’s take” on the possible reasoning of the director etc.  I could not (Charlie might say would not) change my mind.

I’ve been thinking of my “unwillingness” lately in a somewhat different context.  Nyel and I recently learned that author Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti and his Venetian cohorts have become stars of a popular television series.  We were elated!  Next to Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Leon’s Brunetti is our favorite detective.

We’ve watched two episodes so far and are debating whether to see more.  The series is set in Venice (as are the books) but with a German cast speaking German and with English subtitles.  That was my first hurdle.  Try as I might to tune out the German, I do hear the words I recognize (thankfully, in this case, not that many) which is jarring in the extreme.  Plus none (read not one) of the characters is as Donna Leon so carefully developed them — at least not as far as Nyel and I are concerned.

Alfred Molina as Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in the new “Three Pines” series

As with Louise Penny’s books, each of the Leon characters have become very real to us.  Leon has portrayed them minutely and consistently in twenty-three books.  We’ve watched them change and grow over time.  The television series are NOT those characters although they are co-opting their names and their situations.  We can but hope that “Three Pines” which begins in December, also on Amazon Prime, will be more faithful to the images in our heads.

I feel a bit like a child who loves Winnie-the-Pooh might feel if the beloved old bear suddenly became a reindeer and was speaking Swedish.  My world with regard to Brunetti is off-kilter and I am definitely Sydney-the-Unwilling.

Words of Wisdom for Our 34th Anniversary

Monday, September 13th, 2021

Dale and Bill Little September 22, 1934

Yesterday, I came across two items of significance in my ongoing efforts to tidy up the crevices and corners of this old house — those places where the detritus of three generations has been carefully set aside for “someone” “someday” to deal with.  Recently, I’ve been reviewing and discarding the paper keepsakes — mostly of my own — and found a huge (11″x 14″) manilla envelope stuffed with letters from my folks between the years 1976 and 1990.

Those were their retirement years — the years that they did a lot of travelling which, for their first forty-some years together they could not afford to do.  Not money-wise; not time-wise.  The letters and cards and interesting clippings told of their adventures and mishaps, asked me to look after various domestic details at home for them and, mostly, reflected their total enjoyment of not only “the moment” but of the great privilege of life in general.

Two items, nestled together, said it all: first, the invitation to their 50th wedding anniversary which involved seven (count ’em seven) big events and asked that RSVPs be sent to me; and, second, a thank-you letter from the two of them written from Hawaii where Charlie and I (apparently) had sent them as a surprise anniversary gift.  The celebrations (repeating of vows, receptions, dinners etc.) were planned in the greatest detail by mom and dad, themselves.  And no matter what they said, Charlie and I have NO memory of sending them off to Hawaii.

My mother’s words in the letter were perfect in every respect. I’ll share a few of them here for you to enjoy whether or not you knew my folks and whether or not you’ve been involved in a significant anniversary celebration of your own.

Sydney and Charlie at Bill and Dale’s 50th

Dear Daughter… What a super celebration we had thanks to  your very efficient handling of all the last minute details.  Everyone has mentioned what perfect hosts you and Charlie were…
Your father and I both agree that we accomplished our mission in life when we “Diddled” and produced you and you “Diddled” and brought forth Charlie.  We didn’t stop at half best, but we produced the top best…
We will always remember our Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration as the most rewarding time of our lives.  Weddings are filled with great expectations — fifty years later it is nice to survey the years and realize that what you were dreaming in your youth might not have been too realistic, what you gain over the years takes a lot of work and play — love and laughter — grief and tears which all add up to a life with substance that could not be attained if all of your youthful wishes were granted by the wave of a magic wand…

My father added:  Hi!  Just to say (also) thanks — we all had a great time.  We’ll do it again!?  Love, Dad!

All words to live by on this, our 34th!

Re: should-bes of the Sunday after Labor Day

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Wedding Picture, Sunday, September 13, 1987

I really like Fibonacci numbers.  I love their sequence in which each number is the sum of the two preceding ones: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144… It’s the predictability that I find comforting.  And I never cease being amazed at how they also appear in nature — in the arrangement of leaves on a stem or the branching of trees or in the positioning of a pinecone’s bracts.   In fact, I think it was during an environmental education class at Coyote Canyon State Park in CA back in the 60s that I was first introduced to Fibonacci (1170-c.1240-50) the Italian mathematician from the Republic of Pisa.

Charlie’s Birthday/date — Wednesday, May 30, 1956

I wish he had extended his mathematical wizardry to our calendar.  Perhaps he could have figured out how to make the days and dates more predictable.  As in, why couldn’t my birthday have ALWAYS been on a Friday? After all, we are supposedly celebrating our birthDAY not our birthDATE.  I’m sure Signor Fibonacci could have re-adjusted Julius Caesar’s changes to our calendar so that little kids (and moms and dads) could plan ahead for their special day.

What brings all this to mind is that Nyel and I were married on September 13, 1987 — a Sunday — at a surprise ceremony during the 3rd Annual Oysterville Croquet and Champagne Gala.   In my mind, today should be the day we celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary.  But… no.  Obviously, Fibonacci was not consulted and so, if we remember, we’ll celebrate tomorrow. On a Monday!  So wrong, doncha think?  So very very wrong.

And, furthermore, the Sunday after Labor Day was sunny for every single one of our sixteen (or was it eighteen?) croquet galas.  I’m not sure that has been true since, but maybe Signor F. could have factored the weather in, as well.  Or perhaps John Dalton, 18th century British weather pioneer could have worked on that problem.  Just sayin’…





Ole’s Nook again — in my email!

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

“Ole’s Nook” — Print of Original Painting By Carol Couch

One of the greatest pleasures of writing and posting a daily blog has been the feedback I’ve received from people I know and from many I’ve never met.  Email and Facebook responses come from far and wide and sometimes months or even years after a particular blog first appeared on the internet.  Take this email I received yesterday from Jamie Lee,

Hello! I’ve stumbled upon this site in my journey to discover more about a jacket I picked up at a yard sale all the way down in Phoenix, AZ. I purchased a red coach’s jacket from what I am thinking is the 70s or 80s. It’s got an Ole’s Nook Tavern graphic on the back and it says “Brat” on the front chest area. It’s a great piece and must have an awesome history from what you and the other commenters have included on this page. If you have any info you can give me it would be much appreciated and maybe I could send pictures via email to share :) 

The blog page the writer refers to was written and posted on August 16, 2014.  (In case you are interested, the link to the post is  It received a fair amount of commentary when it was first posted but it was surely a surprise — and a pleasant one! — to receive  yesterday’s inquiry.  Perhaps one of today’s readers will have more information about the jacket and will post it here so we can all share in the fun.

So, come on all you Ole’s Nook fans!  Let’s hear your stories and memories — especially about jackets and other memorabilia!




His arms were up her skirts — to the elbows!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Last Year’s Plums!

There is nothing quite like coming upon the violation of your one and only plum tree!  With all due respect (and love) for Judy Eron’s song, “I Picked His Plum Trees Bare,” seeing such a transgression as it was happening right here a stone’s (or pit’s) throw from our house, did not bring out the best in me.

We were just coming home after erranding to the south and, as we passed the lane (Clay Street), I glanced east toward the bay and saw someone being way too cozy with our plum tree.  Our one-and-only plum tree — actually an Italian prune — that we had purchased, planted in our yard some years ago, and when it suffered failure-to-thrive syndrome, transferred to an area just outside our fence.  For a year or two, as long as Nyel was able, Nyel picked the plums around Labor Day each year.  Last year, with the help of Tucker and his granddaughter Amelia, we harvested enough fruit to divide among us.   This year we’ve been watching eagerly and today or tomorrow, we thought, would be the harvest.

Nyel Harvesting Plums in 2018

I braked, backed up, and headed down the lane just as the plum thief started our way toward his parked (in the lane) car.  His hands were cupped around a half dozen or so gorgeous plums.  OUR plums!  I rolled down my window and called out to him, “I think you have my plums!”

“Really?  I didn’t know…  I live nearby and have been walking my dog here for years.  I’ve never seen a fence around that tree or a private property sign on it…”

It was definitely a dé·jà vu moment.  Forty years of reprimanding recalcitrant 1st/2nd/3rd graders came bubbling forth:  “Why in the world would that be necessary?  Plum trees don’t grow wild around here that I know of.  We planted it!  Those plums belong to us!”

“Do you want them?” he asked.

“Yes!” I thrust my hands out the window and he dumped them in.  We waited until he was gone, then turned the car around and went home.  There were seven plums!  They were delicious!


Signage: is it all in the wording?

Monday, September 6th, 2021

Whitby Abbey and St. Mary’s Church

I spent a fun few hours last night looking at slides from a 1985 trip to England.  Slides!!!  OMG!  Fortunately, they were stashed away with a little hand-held viewer so I could take a look all these many years later.  Why in the world did we have slides made?  Did we have a projector?  Did we actually watch them after the trip?  And, even more curious, did we show them to anyone else?  OMG!

But, they were fun to look at one last time.  A young dark-haired me showed up in two or three — Nyel not at all, so we know who must have been the photographer.  I’m happy to say that there were no “surprises” — I remember every view and nuance of the trip.  I even remember this sign which was posted in the vestibule of St. Mary’s Church at Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire:

Melting Ice Cream & Lolly Sticks dropped
in the Church add to the work of the

Church Maid & make this old Church untidy.
Please leave them outside.
Dog owners too are asked to leave
their pets in the porch.
Campers are warned not to sleep
in the Church Yard or on the
Abbey Plain.


I couldn’t help but wonder as I read the words if that sign was any more effective than the informational signs recently placed on the doors of our Oysterville Church.  Our new signs basically ask those who enter the building to wear masks.  In my observation: some do and some don’t.  I wonder if we could sneak in the term “Church Maid” — so much better than “the cleaning lady” and, though it’s not in use on the current sign, is the term we usually hear.  And “lolly sticks” and “untidy” — you do have to smile.  I hope such a sign is still being used at Whitby Abbey and, even more, I hope that visitors pay attention to it.