Saturday, September 26, 2020

Tiny Neighbors

 At this time of year we have more than our usual population of nature’s tiny creatures all around our neighborhood.

There are little tree frogs everywhere; they love to populate the windows at night waiting for mosquitos that are attracted by the light inside the house. Even though they leave tiny little frog poops on the windowsills, we welcome them knowing that they are insect eaters.  When we have rain, their chorus of frog songs brightens the sounds of the evening as darkness comes.

We have multitudes of Green Anole lizards.  Yesterday I saw a little cluster of four babies dashing across the deck.  Like many lizards, they change color depending on the surrounding colors of the background ranging from bright green to gray and brown.  But, their eyes are always blue and the little sack under their chin is always reddish.

There are lots of crabs of differing sizes on the island.  The ones with the delicious meat are the blue crabs. They ate mostly in the Sound waters are are normally caught there.  We also have multitudes if Ghost Crabs.  They scurry all over the beach digging holes and disappearing into them, but they also appear anywhere on the island.  They quickly “crab” along sideways to avoid getting caught.  We are in a living ecosystem and all these critters are indicators of biological healthiness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Almost Stuck

During this last weekend we had some very tricky weather on the island.  We got a lot of wind for three days along with high tides from passing Hurricane Teddy.  The high tides were boosted by the full moon and additional northeast winds.  The result was that Highway 12, our northern link to the island, has been closed both on the island and on Hatteras Island between Rodanthe and the Basnight Bridge.  

In addition, shoaling in the Pamlico Sound ferry channel at Bigfoot Slough has limited the ferry to Swan Quarter to one run each day on a smaller ferry.  This single run is backed up with reservations for days and some weeks as reservations from the cancelled ferries have space priority.

So...we can’t go anywhere right now and we have had no mail this week and no groceries or other deliveries in a full week.  People on Hatteras Island are totally stuck as they cannot go anywhere in any direction.

Highway 12 was covered with five to six feet of sand as the entire dune system was at times washed over the entire road.  As Hugh tides have continued removal work is frustrating in that sand washes back while it is being removed.

We are told each day that the road may open and then, by the end of the day, that word is taken back.  It is just one of the great adventures of living here as discovered by many people whose vacations have been involuntarily extended!  Have fun!

Monday, September 7, 2020

A Wonderful Visit.

Since the year 2000 I have had the privilege of playing with the Jonesborough Novelty Band during the National Festival weekend each year.  This past week Trish and I traveled to Jonesborough in preparation for this year’s virtual festival.  Among other things, I got to do video work with the Novelty Band.

The organizer and leader of the Novelty Band is Terry Countermine, retired from computer science at East Tennessee State University and a long time Jonesborough resident.  Terry has served as both Vice-mayor of the Town of Jonesborough and as a Board Member of the International Storytelling Center.

Following our recording work earlier last week, Terry and his wife, Sandy, came home with us for a visit on the island.  They brought with them storyteller Barbara McBride-Smith, now a resident of Jonesborough and a long time good friend.

We are all visiting at the Ocracoke lighthouse.

We have had a wonderful time visiting together this week.  The Countermines have been in the guest house where Trish and I lived during hurricane recovery and Barbara has been in our home.  We have explored the island and enjoyed long talks and shared food together.

Sandy and Barbara took our picture after a walk to the Springer’s Point beach.

This year it is a special joy to be able to have a safe visit with friends after being isolated with COVID for most of the year.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Trip to Jonesborough.

Early this week Trish and I had a brief trip to Jonesborough, Tennessee, the home of the National Storytelling Festival.  The purpose of the trip was to do some filming in preparation for the 48th National Festival which this year, due to COVID will be produced virtually.

On Tuesday morning Barbara McBride Smith hosted me for an interview studio in which we talked about the past year including the journey Trish and I have had with recovery from Hurricane flooding of our house and also multiple issues related to learning to live in a coronavirus world.

Barbara has great questions for the Studio interview session.

Afterward I made several video spots related to festival promotion and hosting.

The next day the Jonesborough Novelty Band (with which I am privileged to play each year for the Festival weekend) did some filming of music to be interspersed throughout the virtual festival.  Barbara joined with us for Kathryn Windham’s special and unique version of “Show Me The Way To Go Home.”

Playing with Terry Countermine while Barbara sings with the Novelty Band. 

That evening I had a small safely-spaced and fully masked audience of about thirty people while I told the stories I had planned for the Wednesday evening before the festival show this year. That filming will be used to kick off the upcoming Virtual National Festival.

Telling in an actual tent with a real (masked) audience!

Be sure to go to: to get all the details and buy tickets for the Virtual National Storytelling Festival.  It will premier on October 1, 2, and 3 and will continue to run for the following week.  It will be a one-of- a-kind adventure!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

All Blooms Now!

This week the last bit of work at restoring the house is complete:  painting is done and the last finish carpentry is complete.  We are all fixed just a week short of when Hurricane Dorian came last year and did all of the destruction in one hour that it has taken a year to overcome for us.  We are ahead of many people on the island who are still in dire circumstances.

The freshly painted house makes a bright background for backyard blooms.

Early in the summer we planted flower seeds behind the house so we would have visible blooms outside the windows when we were working at the sink in the kitchen or caring for ourselves in the bathroom.  Now those blooms are at their apex and we enjoy them each day.

The zinnia blooms last for weeks.

The zinnias just seem to get bigger and bigger and the great thing about them is that the blooms last forever.  The sunflowers do not last as long but the birds are glad for that as they will eat the seeds right off the plant once the bloom has faded and dried.  It is all fun to watch.

Our birds do love the sunflowers.

Having things grow around the house is a thing that has given us a lot of cheer as we have gone through this long period of disaster recovery.  The blooms have been even more enjoyable since COVID has kept us at come to enjoy them constantly.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Birthday Week.

This week our son, Jonathan, and his wife, Kahran are with us for the week.  It is Kahran’s birthday week and we have been celebrating all week...why not?

When we were asking Jonathan about her favorite desserts and cakes, several of the things he mentioned involved pineapple. So, I made a secret plan and ordered some fresh pineapple shipped from Hawaii.  It arrived perfectly the day before they arrived.

The fresh pineapple arrived just in time. The package smelled wonderful!

Using my grandmother’s old cast-iron skillet, fresh pineapple, and Luxardo cherries, I made her a pineapple upside down cake for her birthday.  It turned out that this is her most favorite cake of all!  (We also discovered that Jonathan does not like pineapple, but, as usual, he always wants her to have what she really loves!)

It’s obvious that Kahran’s favorite cake is not Jon’s favorite!

We have had a wonderful time all week and shall miss them when they go home this weekend.

Jon and Kahran at her birthday dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Tomato Time.

On our way to the mountains we had dropped off one car to be serviced in Durham, so, we had to pick it up on the way home.  That called for us to spend the night as we could not make the last ferry that day.

We had kept sleeping mats so we could use the living room floor at Doug and Jill’s house which also gave us the opportunity for a visit there.

When we arrived our son, Doug, was busy canning tomatoes.  The neighbor has a big garden with lots of tomatoes, but she had a health issue that prevented her using them.  Doug and Jill were invited to pick all the tomatoes.

A whole world of tomatoes.

He was finishing that day’s canning batch and we got to watch and smell.  I am not sure how many they have done so far but this is not the first batch.  The finished quart jars are so pretty and later, as we were falling asleep, we could hear the lids popping as the jars cooled down.

After that we had pizza delivery, cat play, and visiting until bed time.  Early in the morning we headed back to Ocracoke.

Cat play time on the back porch.

Tiny Neighbors

 At this time of year we have more than our usual population of nature’s tiny creatures all around our neighborhood. There are little tree f...