Sunday, November 17, 2019

Recovery in Progress

Back at home on the island this last week and we are seeing the beginnings of recovery from Dorian.  As we drive around most of the debris has been picked up...more is accumulating though...most cars have been hauled off, and some construction is beginning.

Kim and Reggie’s home is all gone. Directly across the street from us.

We still see more houses and now businesses being torn down totally.  The Edwards Motel is now gone along with the old Trolly Stop building, recently home to Ocracoke Judo studio.  We are seeing many houses being raised.  We can’t raise ours because it is too long and narrow for the beams to fit all the way under it.

Our friend, Debbie’s, house...up in the air.

We are, though, seeing work progress at home.  Armando and Luis have almost completed the new drywall installation, so it looks like we have rooms again.  When the drywall is finished we can move on to tile for the bathrooms and flooring for the rest of the house.  There is still a transportation issue: our replacement shower unit for the main bathroom has been on a truck in Norfolk for a month and cannot be delivered to the island until highway 12 to the north is reopened.  That holds up several things that cannot happen before it is installed.

We are going to have a living room again!
Outside we are cheered by the growth of the winter rye grass that I sowed everywhere!  Now we are sowing permanent fescue through the ryegrass, but the beautiful green covering the storm-caused bareness  is an encouraging thing to see.

Green grass over bare dirt is a Wonderful sight.

There has been a rough storm with wind and rain this weekend, but, we hope that it will not slow the progress of road repair.  Right now the road is scheduled to reopen on November 22.  We are hopeful.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


We just finished a lovely weekend in Germantown, Tennessee.

Way back when I was a student at Davidson College, I had a very dear friend from Taladega, Alabama, named Bill Jones.  Bill and I sang together in the Davidson College Male Chorus and in a smaller group called the Lamplighters.

After college we both went to seminary and Bill became a Presbyterian minister while I was Methodist.  Many years later we connected through storytelling as he was at a church in Kingsport, Tennessee, near the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough.

When later Bill and his wife, Lida, moved to Germantown, Tennessee, where he was minister at Balmoral Presbyterian Church, he was instrumental in starting a church storytelling weekend there.  This year was the twentieth year for that festival, and, though Bill is retired with Lida to Ocracoke, I am still going to Balmoral every other year.

The church is very accommodating and involved in community life as well as the life of its own members.  In one hallway there are bulletin boards that interpret to all who see them the total life of the church in all its dimensions,  This is a great idea as most church members only have intimate knowledge of those areas in which they are themselves personally involved. It is a model of interpretations others could duplicate.

The hallway interprets church missions and activities.

Also, as one enters the church, you pass under a gigantic flock/mobile of six hundred origami peace cranes made by church members.  It is almost a calming experience and reminder that you are entering an earthly home of the Prince of Peace.  (In one of the hallways there are other peace cranes, each of which has the name of a church community member who has recently died.)

Balmoral Peace Cranes.

We had a wonderful festival in itself, but, the Balmoral Church setting makes it quite a memorable and unique event.

PS:  on our drive home we saw, at the North Carolina State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh, a truck carrying the largest pumpkin ever.  Worth taking a picture!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cary to Memphis

Last weekend we were at a wonderful new festival in Cary, North Carolina: the Old North State Storytelling Festival.  This festival was the fruit of tremendous work by Alan Hoal and the NC Storytelling Guild.  I was featured along with Donna Washington, Michael Reno Harrell, and a half-dozen regional tellers from across the Carolinas.  Watch out for next year as this event is destined to thrive and grow.

From there we had a couple of baby days in Roanoke, Virginia.  We visited with our two-month-old grandson, Beckam.  He is Trish’s daughter, Betsie’s second son..his brother is fifteen!  Lots of fun there!

Sleeping and growing!
In addition there were more babies. When Trish moved to Ocracoke, she had to leave her long-term hair-care person, Kate Altizer.  At the same time, Kate was in the process of having twin boys.  During this visit we got to both go to Kate’s house and meet her for haircuts and to see the twins.  We now look better and it was lots of fun.

Sleeping twins.

Now we are headed to Germantown, Tennessee for our semi-annual  visit to Balmoral Presbyterian Church for their festival there.  On the way we spent the night at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, an experience of rest and good food all in itself.  Now we are ready for the weekend.

Fun time at the Opryland Hotel.

If you are near Memphis, check out the Balmoral Festival.  The church is located on Quince Road in Germantown.  I will also be preaching on Sunday.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Wonderful Halloween

There were only treats and no tricks this Halloween week.  We got home on Monday and had three upcoming days of wonderful clear and temperate weather for working on the house.

Trish and I were able to get our screen porch back in order so we could actually use a part of our house as autumn rolls on.  It had been power washed and disinfected by Serve Pro and now we managed to get the paper lanterns replaced and repaired, put some treated furniture back in place, and add a new colorful rag rug to the floor.  It feels so good to see one little space begin to look normal.

With new paper lanterns, the porch almost looks normal again.
The biggest work was done outdoors.  The washed up pilings in the front yard were salvaged to use in raising and doubling the size of the food pantry at the Lighthouse Church.  Ivey and Greg managed to pull them out with a ditcher and a front end loader and then the yard was almost empty.

Watching the pilings get removed.
I had managed to salvage two truck loads of wood chips from trees being ground up, and, as soon as the yard space was clear we began filling and leveling with our wood chip treasure.  We hauled many loads in our little truck and our yard cart and in the end sowed annual rye grass to stabilize the
Wow...the yard is looking better now.

In the late morning the debris haulers came down our street and gathered all of the building and yard debris we have accumulated since the last pickup.  Now the house looks clear to the street and we believe it will eventually look normal again.
All the debris is hauled away...for now!
In mid afternoon the best thing happened:  a Kempsville Building Supply truck got over on the ferry and delivered our order of drywall!  Now the first work can be done at putting something back in place instead of just tearing it out.  It has been almost two months since Hurricane Dorian and at last we can say we are making visible progress toward recovery.

Drywall arrived!  Our first load of new building supplies.
The day ended with wonderful hoards of Trick or Treaters showing the world that a hurricane cannot stop children’s appetite for candy and costume fun!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Athens Alabama Storytelling Festival

All week this week we have been at the 16th Athens Alabama Storytelling Festival.

This festival starts on Tuesday when students from Athens, Limestone County, and other surrounding areas are bussed in for a storytelling field trip.  We have one group for the morning and then a second group after lunch before the school day is over.  By the time the school days are finished we tell to nearly six thousand students.

Bil Leo with 1,500 third graders.
The lineup this year for the student days is: Randy Evensen, Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Leo and me.  When the weekend festival gets underway on Friday, we are joined by Kevin Kling and Josh Goforth.

Randy Evensen charms the students.

A special feature of this festival is the lineup of student tellers who perform with us on the school days. This year there are eleven student tellers ranging from seven years old to fourteen. The students are wonderful and the audiences love them.

Also, early in the week there is a local teller event from which the featured tellers choose one person  to perform with them on Thursday evening. This year’s Athens teller is Leah Oakley who has also come to our Ocracoke Island workshop weeks for the past several years.  Everyone loved her story of the squirrel in her fireplace.

Rain in Friday and Saturday did not dampen the spirits of this audience.  We have all had a wonderful time.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Recycling Our Trees

We have found such strange things in our yard following Hurricane Dorian.  One of the most interesting was the neck and head of a good sized plastic giraffe.  We could never figure out from where it had come.

The most mysterious, however, was a still-strapped bundle of 10 x 10 treated pilings that looked like they had just come off a building supply truck.  The longest ones were twenty feet long and they were  bundled with an assortment of shorter lengths.  They still had red flags stapled to the end like they were properly marked as an over-length load on the truck.

Assorted pilings still in a bundle.
We checked with all the construction people on the island and with the people who do work like this and no one had lost any pilings or even had any similar to these.  Everyone finally decided that they had washed all the way from the mainland.  Now Jamie and Galen will have some free pilings to use just for getting them out of our easy task.

Many trees went down during the storm.  We lost five trees in our yard, one of which ended up on the neighbor’s house. As the trees are cut, they are ground into chips as this is the easiest way to dispose of them.

The usable version of a downed tree.

One of our needs is to replenish the ground itself where trenches were washed out in the yard and large amounts of soil were washed away in several places.  We keep saving the tree chippers a lot of work by asking for the chips instead of letting them be hauled away.  We can fill with them and make a new yard surface with them.  Then we will sow them with annual rye grass followed by permanent grass before next summer.  The pine and cedar chips disintegrate quickly and very soon you cannot tell that we did not do the repairs with dirt.  Now our trees are still with us instead of being cut and hauled away.

The cedar chips smell wonderful after the hurricane stink.

Recovery continues!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Back on the Island

We arrived back home Tuesday night and, with the daylight of the following morning, came back in touch with the realities of hurricane recovery.

There is a lot of progress: much of the debris has been picked up though there is a huge amount to go and more is being generated all the time as houses continue to be both stripped out and torn down.  Several groups are continuing to provide meals.  This includes local chefs and restaurants as well as off island food trucks and other groups.  The Mennonite church on the mainland has been faithful and wonderful in this regard.  Most insurance adjustments are completed and people are now in the long wait for actual money.  SBA loans can now be applied for as well.

All that remains of Stella’s house.

On the other side, the mountain of debris at the beach parking lot is growing though multiple loads are hauled away almost every day. There are still dozens of dead cars to be picked up.  Multiple propane tanks (including ours) have been removed.  We hope to have some heat source restored before cold weather comes.  The road to The Hatteras ferry (NC 12) is still not open for building supply trucks to access the island,  most people are in a waiting mode with regards to repair work.

Debris is hauled to the beach access parking lot and then trucked off the island.
We have had many offers from people to come and help but we cannot accept those offers.  There is no place to stay in the island and there is no way to feed numbers of people in addition to essential workers.  The island is closed except to residents, homeowners, and pre-approved construction workers.
Rows of dead cars still waiting to be hauled away.

But...we are home!  We are very fortunate that we have a place to live...the apartment over our garage next door.  We also have our wonderful contractor...the man who built for us to begin with...Woody, and his dear worker, Armando, working on our house.  They encourage us each day by assuring us that it will all come together in the fullness of time.

Last note:  we thought our little red VW had survived the storm.  But, after starting and trying to run, all of the electronics went out and fried all the computer systems.  The brakes are also gone.  It looks fine as it is hauled away to be used for body parts.  So sad!

Bye, bye Bugbaby.

Recovery in Progress

Back at home on the island this last week and we are seeing the beginnings of recovery from Dorian.  As we drive around most of the debris h...