Thursday, December 16, 2004

Last Post Until January, 2005

Ocracoke is a wonderful place to live. Of course it is.'s good to go someplace different now and then. I will be leaving tomorrow and will be gone for the holidays. My good friend Finley will be staying in my home on the island and celebrating the holidays with Jude and other island friends.

Village Craftsmen will be filling internet orders regularly (ask my staff....they don't need me here!), and our store on Howard Street will be open December 27 - December 31. If you're planning a Chrismas week trip to the island be sure to stop by and say hello.

Village Craftsmen will close for the month of January.

All of the Village Craftsmen staff (Dallie, Jude, Jaren, Dale, & Leon) join me in wishing you the Happiest of Holidays. Also, let's all do our part to promote peace & justice for all the world's people in the New Year.

I'll be back in early January with daily posts once again.

Fire Update

Last week I reported that my friend Lou Ann's son and family (Aaron, Karen, Matthew, & Jonah) came home from an evening with friends to discover their home surrounded by fire trucks. The house burned to the ground and no more than a handful of personal items was recovered.

Ocracoke residents joined with family & friends from their home town in Indiana to provide shelter, clothing, toys, and incidentals. For the short term they are being cared for. In a few days they will go to Aaron's brother's home in Florida to work in construction.

Several journal readers have asked what they could do to help out. Long term needs are now a priority. When they return to Indiana in the Spring they will be faced with need for housing and major appliances. A church in their hometown has set up a fund to help with these future needs. If you would like to contribute, a donation of any amount would be appreciated. The address is Fairview Missionary Church, 525 East & 200 North, Anglola, IN 46703. Please designate any funds for the "Aaron Homan Family Fund."

Thank you to all who expressed their concern and sent wishes and offers of assistance.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

At First It's Cold!

But then the hot water appears -- from both shower heads. Ahhhhh.

It's 35 degrees here this morning, and I thought a moment or two before heading to the outdoor shower. But, hey, it's invigorating....and really quite pleasant once the hot water starts flowing, even on a breezy day like today.

Several days ago a reader asked, "What's in store for New Year's Eve?........What does the island do to ring in the New Year?" I hate to admit it, but I don't know what folks are planning this year. Certainly something will be happening at Howard's Pub, and various others will be having private parties, but I don't know of any community-wide festivities being planned. That may change, however. Ocracokers are experts at throwing together parties at the last minute.

This year I'll be off-island for Christmas and New Year's Eve. A friend will be staying at my place. Maybe she'll throw a party while I'm gone! I don't trust her to add journal entries, though. There's no telling what she might tell you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Ocracoke Newsletter

We published another Ocracoke Newsletter a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, the emails to about 1/3 of the folks on our mailing list were not delivered because of a computer glitch with our server. If you did not receive our email notification you can still read the newsletter here.

In other news, the weather on the island has certainly turned colder. Right now it is only in the mid 40's. Several stores on or near School Road stayed open this evening for those of us who are still doing last minute holiday shopping. It's not quite like being downtown in the city, but the stores were decorated with Christmas lights and they were serving wine and cheese & crackers. Very pleasant.

Monday, December 13, 2004

"Christmas in the Country"

Tonight at 7 o'clock George Hamilton, IV, country music legend and Grand Ole Opry star, will be in concert at the Ocracoke United Methodist Church. His program is entitled "Christmas in the Country" and consists of many Christmas favorites. We're looking forward to a great show.

It's 58 degrees right & breezy, but very pleasant, under sunny skies. The beach has been a wonderful place to go for peace and quiet. Only one fisherman out where I was walking this afternoon.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Losing is Winning

It's Sunday, very early in the morning. I've just returned home after losing $4.00 at "nickel, dime, quarter" poker. But let's look at it another way:

This afternoon I made a plate full of deviled eggs. At 5:00 I carried them out to Jimmy's garage and shared them with several hundred other islanders. In return I spent a relaxing couple of hours visiting, laughing, listening to stories, and enjoying some of the best home-cooked food anywhere -- barbecue, corn, pasta salads, sweet potato casseroles, scalloped potatoes, cole slaw, and all manner of delicious desserts.

At 8:00 I joined seven friends for four hours of poker, island gossip, jokes, good-natured ribbing, and camaraderie. On the way home I looked up into the night sky, amazed once again at the dazzling display of stars strewn across the heavens.

All of this for only $4.00! I count it a spectacular bargain.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Last night's "Ocrafolk Christmas" was a big success, with an almost full house at Deepwater Theater. The usual lineup of performers (Molasses Creek, Coyote, Roy Parsons, etc.) was joined by John Golden, Jamie Tunnell, Michael Hilton, & the Ocracoke School Music Club. The audience was almost entirely local residents so it felt like a family gathering. At the end of the show Gary Mtchell passed out Christmas songbooks and everyone joined together singing a number of traditional holiday tunes. It was a superb performance with a down-home "feel good" atmosphere.

Today the weather has turned chillier. It's only 58 degrees and the sky has clouded over, with a stiff breeze blowing. Who knows, it might even feel like Christmas before the year's over. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Christmas is in the Air

Tonight between 5:00 & 7:00 the Ocracoke Preservation Society will host its annual wassail party at the museum. We will light the community Christmas tree, sing carols, drink hot cider, and visit with neighbors and friends. The temperature is a balmy 70 degrees, so it won't feel much like winter, but we are getting into the spirit of the season nonetheless.

At 8:00 there will be an Ocrafolk Christmas concert at the Deepwater Theater. We'll enjoy some wonderful music and listen to island tales. I'll be telling the story of the wreck of the British steamship "Ariosto" on Christmas Eve, 1899.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Maybe I'll Be Lucky

Tonight was the Ocracoke Library's Christmas Cookie Swap. I spent all afternoon wiring the upstairs bathroom in the old homestead, so I didn't take time to bake any cookies. wonderful daughter, Amy, made cream puffs (I told her that each one was worth at least two regular cookies). I'm hoping she'll share a few of the cookies she gets tonight.

In other news, the weather has taken a more somber turn today. It has been overcast all day. It even rained a bit in the afternoon. So, just to be honest, it's not always bright and sunny here on the island. But it is still warm. I've got all of my windows open, just enjoying the unseasonally balmy winter weather.

Hardly a visitor is on the island, but many of you have been placing internet orders at the Village Craftsmen. We can ship most orders the very next day, so if you've still got folks on your holiday list (as I do!), keep us in mind.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Barefoot in December

I walked into the Post Office this morning and saw a neighbor standing there barefooted. The temperature is 68 degrees under beautiful, sunny skies. And the village is quiet, quiet, quiet. While we were chatting another person walked in dressed in a tie-dyed t-shirt and shorts. "This is going on my daily journal today," I enthused to the barefooted friend. "All those folks dressed in suits & ties, or high-heeled shoes, creeping along the beltway will so wish they were here. Maybe not all of them....but some of them at least." "Well, it's not my fault they're not," was the only response.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Sad News from Off-Island

My friend Lou Ann and I had been having a wonderful time enjoying Ocracoke's marvelous December weather (the temperature today is in the upper 60's), when we received a phone call from Lou Ann's son in Indiana. He and his wife and two children came home last night to see their burning home surrounded by dozens of fire trucks. The house was fully engulfed in flames and was beginning to collapse into the basement. They lost the house and all of their belongings. At least no one was injured.

Lou Ann will be leaving in the morning to be with them. In the meanwhile Ocracokers have been collecting personal items to send to her family.

We had all been enjoying Lou Ann's visit to the island, and looking forward to several more days of her contributions to our community, but we understand that she needs to be back home at this time. We send all of our thoughts and concerns, as well as clothes & toys.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunsets, Ducks, & Dolphins

I was gone most of the day yesterday. Rode across to Cedar Island (walked onto the ferry) to meet Lou Ann, who has come for a week-long visit. On the way back home we sat on the upper deck and ate cheese & crackers and drank a glass of red wine. The sunset over Pamlico Sound was magnificent. The view was crisp & clear so we held our breath as the last speck of the sun's orb disappeared behind the horizon, and looked for the legendary green flash. No luck this time, but the final remnants of the day spread across the western sky in spectacular fashion.

This afternoon we walked to the ocean beach. A huge floating "island" of cormorants was just beginning to take off for its flight to their nighttime roost in the sound. We watched for an hour as dozens, then hundreds, and finally thousands of birds took to the sky and headed west. We estimated at least a hundred thousand cormorants. As the last rays of the sun painted the sky and water a multitude of colors a large pod of dolphins appeared close off shore.

Life is good.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Brief Note

The ocean was calm today. Just gentle waves lapping on the shore. Amy, Lachlan, & I strolled for about 45 minutes. There was hardly a soul on the beach. The temperature is a chilly 48 degrees, but it's been sunny all day. Not much going on right now.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ida Lawrence

Not much going on here on the island today. Hardly a "stranger" to be seen. It's been cool (in the mid-50's) but sunny. Stars are glorious again tonight.

However, on this date in 1902 the schooner "Ida Lawrence" wrecked on Ocracoke's beach. All hands aboard were rescued. At least one house (eponymously named) was built from lumber salvaged from the Ida Lawrence.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Night Sky

'Twas a long day for a 20 minute doctor's appointment. Left at 9:30 am and got home at 7:00 pm. The good news is that all is well.

The other good news is that the view of the stars was spectacular on the ferry ride home. Orion, the Seven Sisters, the Milky Way, and so many more were strewn across the heavens as if some pirate captain had opened his treasure chest and tossed diamonds about with total abandonment.

Such beauty.....and there's no admission charge. Even the ferry ride is free!