As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 29, 2010

What would Christmas be without the annual holiday dinner? This event just seems to grow and grow, and now that it’s being held at the beautiful, spacious, remodeled Barn/Community center in City Park, it’s a treat to attend. No matter how busy it gets, there’s always seating in the spacious facility (parking is a bit of a different story especially when it’s pouring rain). It’s great to see so many people you know, and I always marvel at the people who give up their Christmas Day to volunteer at the event. It takes a big cadre of people to prepare, serve and clean-up that much food, and the singers add a special touch.

Some people hesitate to come because they think it’s for the less fortunate and the homeless. Of course, they’re welcome, too, but it’s for everyone who doesn’t want to prepare a big dinner on Christmas or who doesn’t have family in town. There are people from all walks of life sitting at the same table, enjoying the camaraderie … and the great food.

It’s an event I look forward to every year. I missed the Thanksgiving dinner because we were in the desert, but I hear that there were even more people at the Christmas dinner.

*           *           *

Ah the mystery of banks. Several weeks ago the treasurer of our church ordered new checks (the sheet type) from Bank of America … but they didn’t come, and they didn’t come. Several people went to the post office looking for them as it had come to the point where they couldn’t pay bills without any blank checks.

They’d apparently been looking for the checks for at least two weeks when I got a call from my 94-year-old mother, who said she’d just received a box of checks, addressed to her in care of the church at her physical address (which she never uses as she has a post office box). I figured they were from her bank (Umpqua) which I thought was strange because I handle her finances and had not ordered any new checks.

It wasn’t until about a week later when I overheard a conversation between the treasurer and our senior warden lamenting the fact that the checks had never come. “Checks,” I interjected. “I believe I know where they are.”

I immediately called mother and sure enough she said the box was from Bank of America, where she has never banked, nor has she ever been the church treasurer. They definitely weren’t the sheet checks that the treasurer had ordered but at that point, we couldn’t afford to be choosy. They were checks and that’s what mattered.

I went to the bank the next day to see how that mix-up could possibly have occurred and the nice lady who had taken the order looked on the computer, and that’s where mom’s name popped up. No one could explain how her name, with her physical address, could have gotten onto the church account. Nor could they explain why the church suddenly ended up with one box of small checks, which, again, they’ve never used.

It will take a better detective than me to figure this one out.

*           *           *

It’s hard for me to go even one day without buying a newspaper … or two … or three, and Christmas Day was no exception. I finally found a Register-Guard and the World, but searched everywhere for the Sunday Oregonian, with no luck. I am painfully aware that the only day that the Oregonian is delivered to Bandon is Sunday, so I launched my search. Everywhere I looked, I discovered last week’s paper, dated Dec. 19. I was beginning to have bad thoughts for the person responsible for delivering the Oregonians to Bandon.

It wasn’t until the next morning on my way to church did I finally figure out why I couldn’t find Sunday’s Oregonian – Christmas was on Saturday.

I hope that’s not a sign of dementia.

*           *           *

I’ve learned that Al Greenfield, an owner of McFarlin's Bar and Grill in Old Town, is planning to open a new restaurant in the beautiful building at the west end of First Street, which housed (for a short time) the Phoenix Grill. Before that it was the very popular Channel House. It is a gorgeous location, with wonderful views of the lighthouse and the river.

Al has certainly been successful with McFarlin’s and since we’ve lost a couple of restaurants lately (Wild Rose and Two Loons), it will be a welcome addition to Bandon’s popular restaurant scene.

Another relatively new restaurant is The Loft Restaurant and Bar in the High Dock building in Old Town, which opened about six months ago.

Caryn Fieger recently sent me a note to say that her daughter is the chef, her boyfriend Jake is the line cook, Caryn is the prep cook/baker, her son Reid is the server/bartender, and his girlfriend Rachel is a server.

“We strive to use the very best ingredients and prepare creative food from scratch that tastes wonderful,” Caryn said.

As soon as I can get my boyfriend to treat me to a classy dinner, we’ll be visiting The Loft, and this spring, when Al gets his new restaurant open, we’ll be there, too.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 22, 2010

I just came from the 2 o’clock matinee of MarLo Dance Studio’s, “The Nutcracker.” It always amazes me just how creative Maria Merriam is as year after year she stages the wonderful productions featuring her dance students of all ages. There wasn’t a seat left in the Sprague Theater and the theater manager Jeff Norris had to ask people several times to let him know if there were empty seats in their area before they could get everyone seated.

What would the Christmas season be without The Nutcracker?

When I was growing up in Bandon we didn’t have a theater or productions of this magnitude, which helps to remind me just how fortunate we are to live in a small community with so much to offer.

*           *           *

Speaking of growing up in Bandon.

I hope my sister is friendly when you speak to her … thinking it’s me. And if she gives you a bit of a blank stare when you start talking about one city problem or another, it’s not that she’s not interested, it’s just that she’s not me.

I continually hear from people who have spoken to my younger sister, Maggie, thinking it’s me (actually all three of my sisters are younger). Another sister, Molly, also lives here, and although she’s eight years younger than I am, she’s occasionally been asked if we’re twins. But I stopped gloating this week when she told me that a young woman had stopped her in the store and asked if she were my DAUGHTER. Of course, she loved it, but I can’t say it was the highlight of my day.

It’s not hard to see the difference when we’re all three together (our youngest sister lives in Washington), but I know for sure that many, many people have mistaken Maggie for me, and it’s not likely to change any time soon.

One day she became so exasperated, after the third person had called her Mary, that the next guy who came up to her in the post office, looking like he was going to say “hi, Mary,” she beat him to the punch, saying “don’t call me Mary,” before he opened his mouth. Turns out he had been in her class in school, and knew she was Maggie.

So if I didn’t acknowledge you, or wave back, it’s probably because it wasn’t me. And if you’re like me, waving to familiar cars, even when you can’t clearly see the driver, those of you who know me by my 1997 Black Honda CRV have probably realized by now that there is another car exactly like mine, whose driver has a long pony tail. In fact the car is so similar (but usually cleaner) that I tried to get into it one day in Old Town without realizing that mine was several car lengths away. I figured it out pretty quickly when her dog barked at me.

*           *           *

It sounded like good news when I read that California regulators had approved a plan to convert salty ocean water into drinking water on the Monterey Peninsula. That was until I read that the project could double, or even quadruple, ratepayers’ water bills.

While state commissioners said exact rates will be hammered out in a separate phase of the approval process, they indicated that the region’s 100,000 customers would probably see rates climb 63 percent – and I’m pretty sure their rates are already a lot higher than we pay here in Bandon.

A spokesman for the PUC had a different take on it. He said “the state must balance the cost burden contemplated on Cal-Am ratepayers … with the burden on those same ratepayers if no alternate source of water is produced.”

Critics point out that costs for the project could run as high as $500 million for construction, operation and upkeep. That translates into $11,000 for each 326,000 gallons of water, at a time when the priciest desalinated water in the world reportedly costs $3,000 for each 326,000 gallons. Under that formula, consumers could be locked into paying four times what they are paying now.

And some of our ratepayers think they have it bad!

*           *           *

Hundreds of people turned out for the benefit spaghetti feed Thursday night to help the family of Steve Wampler, the Bandon School District band director who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The people of Bandon have proven time and again how generous they are, always stepping up to help someone in need. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the parking lot around the high school gym that crowded. True, there was also a ballgame going on, but most of the people had turned out to help the Wampler family.

*           *           *

We’ve also learned that Steve Underdown, owner of the local golf shop in Bandon Shopping Center and a retired police officer, is seriously ill, having been diagnosed with mesothelioma.. He and his wife, Cathy, have twins in junior high and they’ve been a big part of our community since moving here some years ago. Cathy just completed her term as president of the Bandon Chamber of Commerce. I don’t know anyone that knows Steve Underdown who doesn’t love and respect him. He’s that kind of a guy.

*           *           *

I learned recently of the death of long-time Port of Bandon commissioner Jim Hanna. Jim was involved not only in Bandon, but also with the Coos County Logging Museum in Myrtle Point, having served on its board for a number of years. Many years ago, Jim was manager of the local cheese factory, when it belonged to the Coquille Valley Dairy Co-op. Fellow port commissioner Hugh McNeil paid tribute to Jim in a letter to the editor in Bandon Western World last week.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 15, 2010

Maybe one of my readers can help me! How does a person go about unsubscribing from an email, which comes once or twice daily every day? It is from Brand Pfizer. This morning, I replied and asked that I be removed from their mailing list. A few minutes later I got an email which appeared to be from myself … from Brand Pfizer. In the body of the email, there was a place to “click here to be removed,” which I did.

Instead, I got a whole list of the drugs that they are pedaling, with absolutely nowhere to remove my name from anything.

I am sure there is a way to do this, but I don’t know what it is.

At least with all the political lists I’m on, you can always opt out, which I did this week over the WikiLeaks issue.

People occasionally tell me they’ve emailed me about something, and I haven’t responded. It’s probably because their email got lost in the 30 or 40 that I receive daily, which I seldom even bother to read.

But I want Brand Pfizer off that list.

*           *           *

I received a red “news alert” from Dish Network (the satellite where I get my TV signal) Saturday evening talking about contract negotiations between Dish Network and Chambers Communications Corps. regarding our ABC station (KEZI Channel 9 out of Eugene). The alert said that Chambers had demanded a 500% increase and unreasonable contract terms, which could mean that Chambers would block Channel 9 starting December 15th if Dish doesn’t accept their demands. Dish asked subscribers to send an email to Chambers Communications. I clicked on the specific site, but both emails (to Carolyn Chambers and another to Scott Chambers) came back undeliverable. My guess is that if they do reach an agreement, it will probably mean an increase in rates for all Dish subscribers. I already pay way more than I did when I had Charter, for the same programs, but since it wasn’t available in my neighborhood, I went with Dish.

I certainly would not want to lose ABC, but I really don’t want a big increase in my rates either.

I guess I will wait and see what happens Dec. 15.

*           *           *

I have an update on County Commissioner Nikki Whitty. According to fellow commissioner Bob Main (who I talked to on Dec. 8), Nikki was recuperating in Oerding Manor rest home in Coquille, along with her husband, former commissioner and one-time state representative Jim Whitty. Bob said she had been airlifted from Coquille Valley Hospital to RiverBend in Springfield where she underwent surgery, and that she is definitely doing better now. He hopes she will be back to work soon, but said that any other information about her health would have to come from Nikki. I do know (from Albert Lillie) that she underwent a six-hour surgery to remove a mass.

I’ll keep people posted as to how she’s doing.

Bob said the county really needs her as she has so much “institutional memory,” and he’s definitely right about that.

*           *           *

The annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas dinner was held Thursday night at Harbortown Events Center in Old Town and it was a great event. Al Greenfield, owner of McFarlin’s, catered the meal, which included smoked turkey and wonderful cuts of prime beef, along with their famous chopped salad and homemade feta dressing. For dessert, people enjoyed cheesecake from Chubby Girl Cheesecakes, and although I have stopped eating sweets (again), I could tell that it was delicious.

We were entertained throughout the evening by Candy Kreitlow on the harp, and later by the Gold Coast Chorus of Coos Bay (including John Hubbard and Dick Handley from Bandon), who sang a number of Christmas songs.

*           *           *

I just got back from the Sprague Theater where I watched the New Artists Production of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” It was a fun show, and it always amazes me just how much talent we have in Bandon. I believe they said it was their 10th production of 2010. Their next event will be the “I Wanna’ Be a Star!” variety show set for Jan. 28 and 29 at the Harbortown Events Center.

When I got into the theater Sunday, I noticed a big group of senior citizens in the first three rows and wondered at the time who they were as I didn’t recognize any of them. During intermission I talked to two women who said more than 50 of them were on a bus trip from Roseburg, and after the show they were planning to eat at The Mill Casino and then head over to see the lights at Shore Acres before they returned to Roseburg – to end their 12-hour day. And by the time the play was over, the storm had hit and it was raining hard, but I’m sure they still had an enjoyable time … as someone else was driving.

*           *           *

The Bandon Playhouse is busy on their latest, and undoubtedly most expensive, production ever: “Beauty and the Beast,” scheduled for a four-week performance beginning in February.

Playhouse president Lorna Salt told me that the cost to produce this show is in the range of $30,000. The costumes aloe cost $15,000, and they are not allowed to make their own. Lorna is busy trying to get sponsors to help with the cost, as well as advertisers for the program, and they have a number of activities scheduled to let people know about this production.

People don’t realize just how much it costs to put on big-name shows like this.

I can’t wait to see it.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 08, 2010

It was so sad to learn that Stephen Wampler, the band director for the Bandon School District, is seriously ill with a rare form of cancer, known as metastatic neuro endocrine carcinoma.

Mr. Wampler, who is in his mid-50s, is unable to work after being diagnosed only a short time ago. An Italian pasta dinner to benefit the Wampler family will be held Thursday, Dec. 16, from 5 to 7 at the Bandon School District cafeteria. Cost is $6 for adults and $4 for kids.

After the benefit dinner, people can attend the Ocean Crest Elementary School Winter Concert at the Ocean Crest Gym or the BHS home basketball game against Coquille at the high school gym.

All proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit the Wampler family. Let’s hope the community will turn out to support this popular family.

*           *           *

Another fundraiser that people should be aware of is the impressive new cookbook, Ye Olde Cookbook, which is a fundraiser for the Bandon Community Health Center.

The book features a collection of recipes from churches on the South Coast of Oregon, with Barbara Eakley of St. John Episcopal Church editing the book. Recipe chairmen include Eakley for St. John, Barbara Dodrill for First Presbyterian and the Rev. Robin Haruna for Unity of Bandon.

There are recipes from a lot of well-known people, including two governors (Kitzhaber and Kulongoski), but what makes it special is the many old recipes from days long gone … including a number of them which Barbara obtained from an old cookbook I’d loaned her. Ironically, it had belonged to a long-time member of the Episcopal Church in Powers, Helen Gamwell, who was well known for her culinary talents. There were a number of her old cookbooks and recipe files still in the house when I purchased the Gamwell property in Powers over 20 years ago.

I have a 1912 copy of Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book and a 1930 Better Homes and Garden Cookbook which were among the treasures.

So don’t be surprised when you see 14 of the recipes attributed to me – they actually came out of those old cookbooks. I can barely boil water let alone make Sweet Potato Fluff, Beets in Sour Sauce, Fried Onions & Apples, Grilled Cheese Sandwich Pie or Stuffed Bermuda Onions. I’ve never tried any of them, but I’m sure a lot of real cooks will find them interesting.

People can purchase the cookbook at Cert’ Vert on the Pedway in Old Town for $20 or by sending a check for $25 (including $5 shipping and handling) to St. John Episcopal Church, P. O. Box 246, Bandon, OR 97411.

It would make a great Christmas gift.

*           *           *

I learned this week that Mike and Lindy Keiser, owners of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, have donated $10,000 for this summer’s fireworks display. I don’t know much more than that, but all I can say is that it’s a wonderful gesture and will ensure that we will have a Fourth of July fireworks display this summer.

*           *           *

I may have mentioned this in the past, but since it’s that time of year, I want to remind people not to open any e-mail that says “Postcard from Hallmark.” It is said to be a particularly deadly computer virus, and is one that has been verified by Snopes. It’s getting to the point that I’m almost afraid to open anything that I don’t know for absolute sure is coming from someone I know … and that’s not always foolproof as hackers can get into e-mail accounts and send out spam to someone’s address book without their knowledge. And if a person forgets to put something on the subject line, or doesn’t write a short note, but just includes a website for me to click on, I just delete it. I’m not willing to take the chance.

*           *           *

I received an e-mail from a man named Doug Floyd, who I think lives in Bandon. He’s the one who painted the big yellow O on the piling in the bay this fall in University of Oregon colors. He said he spent a couple of days, during a high tide, painting the Oregon “O” from his little boat. He added: “A friend of mine told me that the reason that the pole is leaning is that some saltwater beavers were underwater chewing it off. Now that’s funny,” Floyd said.

I sent him back an e-mail and asked him for a little information about himself, but I haven’t heard back from him.

He’s probably busy basking in the glory of Oregon’s big win over Oregon State Saturday.

*           *           *

Again I don’t know many details, but I have learned that Curt and Denise Horton have sold Old Town Pizza & Pasta to a man named James Davis. I’m not sure where he’s from or any details, but I do know that the business has sold. It’s located in the McNair Building under the arch at the east end of Old Town. I recently tried their new broaster chicken and found it to be delicious.

*           *           *

The chamber held a ribbon cutting at Benjamin’s Attic, which moved recently from its uptown location to Old Town (across from Thai Thai). Danielle Benjamin, whose mother owned the business before she died some months ago, has a wonderful collection of treasures, and she has a real flair for presenting them.

If you haven’t been into her shop, this would be a good time to stop by and welcome her to Old Town.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

December 01, 2010

My column was late this week because we spent the Thanksgiving Week in the desert, where we expected, and hoped, that we’d find some warm weather. But since it snowed in Bandon a couple of days after we left, I guess we weren’t too surprised when the temperature failed to get above 68 degrees at Indio (near Palm Springs), where we were visiting. The drive of over 1,000 miles each way took us three days to get there … and only two days to get back in spite of some of the most horrific Interstate 5 freeway traffic that I’ve ever encountered.

We left Indio shortly before 11 on Saturday, and were hoping to get as far north as Sacramento, or even further, that evening, but it wasn’t to be. Out in the “middle of nowhere” we encountered bumper to bumper traffic, which finally slowed to a complete stop. And after sitting on the freeway in a driving rain storm for about 30 minutes we decided to inch our way off at the next truck stop, which we could see a short distance away. And that was a lucky stop. Not only did we find a great Best Western hotel, but also a fabulous restaurant, so it was a pretty good ending to an otherwise too-eventful drive.

The next morning we changed our minds about heading to Sacramento after hearing that the highway was shrouded in dense fog. So we headed off toward San Francisco, and went through Oakland, heading for Highway 101. We never saw a drop of rain on Sunday, or a bit of fog, and the drive was great … but next time, the threat of groping or not, we might just decide to fly.

*           *           *

For some reason, I have kept my 1968 daily calendar book for more than 40 years. It’s interesting to look through the pages of the calendar and see what I was doing those days … as a relatively young reporter for Western World.

But it was the small newspaper clipping, affixed to the front of my book with scotch tape that bears repeating:

Here’s what it says: “Dear Lord, Lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember, somewhere out there a man died for me today. As long as there be war, I then must ask and answer: Am I worth dying for?”

As we all know this was during the Vietnam War, and I didn’t realize what an impression it had on me until I saw even more references to the war in the back of the calendar. I’d clipped out a picture of a Vietnamese mother and her children in front of their burning house as two American soldiers walked by saying: “How do you tell ‘em we’re on their side?”

That pretty much said it all.

*           *           *

I recently ran into a BHS graduate, whom I hadn’t seen in many years. John Sorenson (who now lives in Alaska) was quite a bit behind me in school, but we got to talking one day and he told me he’d written a book on golf. Several days later, he dropped a copy off for me. “How I Discovered The True Secret of Golf” isn’t just about golf. There’s a section in it that has quite a bit of information about him and his family, including his mother, Emma, who taught for 29 years at Ocean Crest Elementary, beginning back in 1954.

There’s a lot of just plain good information about the game of golf, with heavy emphasis on the logic of the golf swing.

That’s what I hope to take away from John’s book . . .

*           *           *

I learned this week that long-time Coos County Commissioner Nikki Whitty was in RiverBend Hospital in Springfield undergoing exploratory surgery. She apparently hasn’t been feeling well lately, and Albert Lillie sent me an e-mail to say that she’d undergone six hours of surgery. He knew that doctors had discovered some kind of a mass, but he didn’t know any more than that.

I just pray that Nikki is going to be fine. She’s the sparkplug that keeps things going in the commissioners’ office and she pretty much never hesitates to lend a hand at any community event where she’s needed.

*           *           *

I always manage to find an interesting item in the daily Coos County Sheriff’s Office log, and Monday was no exception. Some woman called the police shortly after midnight to report child abuse. It said that a one-year-old child was in the emergency room at Bay Area Hospital with his mom “after family members caring for the child fed him food laced with marijuana.” The incident occurred on Coal Bank Lane, which is in the Coos Bay area.

Nothing surprises me any more.

previous columns by mary schamehorn