Friday, February 25, 2005

Beer Dinner a Success

As I reported yesterday I was going to a "Beer Dinner" at Howards Pub last evening with my niece Jaren and her friend Kara. It was billed as a paring of fine beer and fine food and indeed it was. Bill Cole and George did a fabulous job with an elegant presentation,delicious menu of chicken, shrimp, scallops, beef ribeye, vegetables and sauces to compliment, an exquisite chocolate cake with ice cream and incredible beers pared as one would wines to bring out the best of both. We had a wonderful time. Bill intends to do this again and I suggest if you are on the Island you take advantage of an interesting, informative and" delicious" evening! Can you believe they make a Double Chocolate Beer? The weather is cold and blustery today. It feels like a storm coming. It's an isolated feeling, an Island feeling. Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Duck Weather

We woke up to a steady,heavy rain this morning. A low pressure system is sitting right off our coast. We're the lucky ones though,as we hear the northeast will get snow. I can hear thunder rumbling . Philip is headed into some bad weather today. By way of introduction, I'm Jude, better known as " the thorn in Philips side". You won't see me in the shop as a rule but if you call Village Craftsmen I will probably be the person who will answer the phone. I've been a co-worker of Philips for twelve years now. While Philip is gone I'll keep you informed of happenings on the Island and a little bit about the folks who are a part of Village Craftsmen. Tonight Howards Pub is featuring a "Reservation Only" dinner paring beers with specific foods (they usually do this with wine I believe) so this ought to be interesting! I'm going with my niece Jaren and her friend Kara. They invited me because they think I'm "cool". How about that! If I'm able to type tomorrow, I'll let you know how it went. Just kidding.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Spring Can't Be Far Behind


Be sure to wait for the picture to load!

I'll be taking off a few days now and then in the next several weeks. I'm going to see Lou Ann performing in "The Vagina Monologues," a benefit for various women's causes. I'll be back shortly, but I'll be concentrating on "finish work" at my house rehabilitation project (installing kitchen cabinets & bathroom fixtures, rewiring antique lighting, etc.). So I've turned over the Journal to my friend, neighbor, and co-worker, Jude. She'll be keeping you up to date on island happenings until I get caught up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fog Horn

Except for those few times each year that I catch an early ferry off the island, it's been decades since I've used an alarm clock. I guess this is one advantage of owning my own business (which, even in the busy season, doesn't open before 9 am), and always having lived within a 5 minute (or less) walking distance to my gallery. But maybe the biggest reason is that we O'cockers operate in a low-pressure, laid-back, "island state of mind" kind of way.

I'll never be caught in a traffic jam on my way to work. I never fret about what clothes I'll wear to work (one t-shirt is as good as the next). It really doesn't even matter if I don't have time to put shoes on.

But this morning I was awakened by an alarm clock of sorts. The Cedar Island ferry was sounding its fog horn every minute as it made its way out of the harbor and across the sound. I lay in bed and listened until the last low blast faded into the fog.

Not a bad way to wake up. I guess I'll go make some breakfast.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Making a Slow Recovery

A reader, wishing me a speedy recovery, said, "It's hard to imagine the flu gets out to that island of paradise." I don't know how it got out here, but once on the island, it spreads as if it were in a kindergarten classroom. We all live so close, and come into contact with each other so regularly -- at the Post Office, the stores, the churches, at public meetings, etc.

The stores are sold out of cough medicine. Some folks have developed phneumonia. I'm heading to the clinic this afternoon. But at least I'm beginning to think I won't die.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sunny Skies and High Temperatures

The day is beautiful, clear & sunny. But the high temperatures are not about the day. I've been laid low with fever and congestion, the main reason for no postings for two days. Check back regularly. When I'm feeling better I'll continue the journal entries. Until then I'm going to stay in bed, drink plenty of juice, and rest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dey Jimminy Criminy!

Last night I sent our latest Ocracoke Newsletter email to over 6000 folks on our mailing list. Several days earlier I had installed a new version of anti-virus software on our computer. What I didn't know is that there is a conflict between the mailing software & the anti-virus software. As a result, some people received our email but many others did not.

If you would like to read our latest newsletter, just click here:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I'm Doasted Right

Several years ago I met Wiley coming out of one of the local stores. To my inquiry about how he was doing, he replied, "I'm doasted right." Any O'cocker would know exactly what he meant. A "dose" is a local expression for the flu, a head cold, or any severe respiratory infection. To be "doasted" is another way of saying you're sick.

It seems that half of the community is struggling with some bug that's been going around the island. I started getting it yesterday evening, and today I'm doasted right. Maybe it won't last long. I hope not. The weather is gorgeous today, with highs near 60 degrees, the perfect day to be outdoors.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ocracokers, on this day of lovers, have several choices for gifts for their sweethearts -- a romantic dinner at one of our fine restaurants, roses or other flowers from a local florist, or even boudoir photographs by Heather Johnson.

Interestingly Saint Valentine's Day falls on the day originally celebrated by the Romans as Lupercal ("wolf day"), in honor of Lupercus who was believed to protect their flocks from wolves. It was quite the primitive festival, involving sacrifical death, fertility rites, lots of blood, and unrestrained sex.

Today, of course, the holiday is quite sanitized, but still characterized by blood-red hearts and various levels of passion. Whether you spend the holiday on Ocracoke or elsewhere we hope your life is filled with love -- of family, friends, and/or sweethearts.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New Bathhouse

On your next visit to the island you may be delighted to see a brand new bathhouse at the lifeguard beach. Hoping to have it in service by April, the National Park Service (or at least their contractor) has been hard at work for several months. The facility will include rest rooms, changing rooms, a rinse-off area and wide boardwalks.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


In all the years I've lived on Ocracoke and walked the beach, only once have I seen a whale. No breaching of the great leviathan, no dramatic eruption of air from the blowhole, no massive flukes assailing the surface of the deep. Just the gentle rolling of a mysterious dark form, larger than any living thing I'd ever witnessed, moving steadily and deliberately just offshore.

At midday today a couple from Washington D.C. was even more fortunate. A large number of whales had congregated near the lifeguard beach and they were there to take it in. Food was obviously abundant, for great numbers of gulls hovered above the water and feasted on the hapless fish. Unlike my solitary visitor from the depths of the ocean, this pod of whales was active and animated. With binoculars the delighted couple watched for over an hour as the whales entertained them.

By the time I learned of our offshore visitors and made my way to the beach all was quiet. A few dolphins moved slowly south, and an occasional gull or willet flew by, but no whales ventured by. Maybe another time.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Small Town News

For those of you who wonder what's happening on the island in the winter I share this morning's email message from the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association:

"On Friday night, Community League basketball games will be going on in the gym. The Community Women will play the Lady Dolphins at 5:00 .PM. Following that will be 2 Men's games with 3 Community Men teams and the Men Dolphins. Come out and support them!

On Saturday morning, the Assembly of God Church will have a Pancake Breakfast from 7:00 - 10:00 AM for $4.

That afternoon, at 1:00 PM, there will be a wedding vow renewal ceremony at the Assembly of God Church.

Come out for the Rockers on Saturday night at Sargasso Deepwater Grill from 9:00 PM - until...

Worship at the United Methodist Church this Sunday will honor the Boy Scouts at 11:00 AM.

And don't forget to remember the ones you love on Monday. There are specials going on all over the island for desserts, flowers, massages, photography sessions, gifts and more... Support Ocracoke.

Have a great weekend."

Come join us if you can!

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Tom Pahl (owner of Ocracoke Restoration Company) and I had dinner at Howard's Pub this evening. The day had been mild and pleasant so I decided to ride my bike. After two hours of chatting, laughing, and sharing stories I headed back down Highway 12 toward Silver Lake. I was not prepared for the strong chilling wind. Sand was blowing across the road and gusts were so strong that at times they almost halted all forward motion.

It was good to turn down School Road and up my driveway. In my cozy home on Howard Street I can barely tell that it's windy outside. I'll just take my book down from the shelf, get comfortable, and read until I'm ready to turn in for the night. I"ll be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Civic & Business Association

Tonight is the monthly meeting of the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association. Many folks wonder how Ocracoke is governed. We are not incorporated (though there are on-going discussions on this issue). Our most local government is the County Commissioners. However the Ocracoke Sanitary District (which administers our municipal water system) has the potential to act in many ways as a form of local government.

The Civic & Business Association is not an official governmental agency, however it does provide a voice for the citizens of the island, and is a vehicle for Ocracoke residents to debate local issues and influence policies that affect life on the island. You can read more about the Association, as well as peruse minutes from past meeetings here: It will be a few days before tonight's proceedings are posted on the web.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Harbingers of Spring

Flocks of robins are everywhere on the island, a sure sign that spring is approaching, even if weeks away.

Michael Judge, in _The Dance of Time_, observes that "Spring .... dances over the distant hills, taunting those who have kept faith in spite of all appearances. ..... River ice melts, and robins return." He is speaking of March, but for us on the Outer Banks robins make their appearance in February. We're happy to see them again.

Some of you may know (and most may be shocked to learn) that many old-time Ocracokers would catch and eat robins. You can read all about it here,, in the last several paragraphs.

Monday, February 07, 2005


"The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Carl Sandburg

The ferries didn't run this morning. No deliveries, no visitors, no UPS or mail. And no trips off-island. Until noon, that is. The fog has now lifted and life has resumed it's normal pace.

The carpenters at my house restoration were expecting flooring this morning. They made do with other odd jobs. At one o'clock a truck showed up with the lumber.

Little cat feet. Silent and soft and oh so gentle.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Egrets, and Willets....

....and Great Blue Herons, and Sanderlings, and Herring Gulls, and Pelicans. These are just some of the shore birds I see daily -- wading in the shallows, fluttering from the tide line, searching for fish along the shore, poking their beaks into the sand, bracing against the cold north wind, or gliding just above the breaking surf.

But the dolphins are hiding, staying farther off shore, avoiding the rough surf we've been having lately. They'll be back of course.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Is It Youth or Just the Ocracoke Lifestyle?

This coming week my son-in-law, David Tweedie (fiddler for "Molasses Creek'), will be playing in Raleigh for a private fund-raising dinner for former president Bill Clinton. Amy called and asked if I had any black shoe polish that David could use. I took a tin over to him. As I handed it to him he asked, with a rather sheepish look, "Now how exactly do you use this?"

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pot Luck Dinner

Two nights ago, while talking on the phone, Lou Ann asked me what was going on here on the island. Frankly there wasn't much to report. It's been a quiet time. There hadn't even been a pot luck dinner for weeks. The next day Amy told me that Paula & Michael Schramel had planned a pot luck for Thursday evening.

As usual, I arrived to find a house full of people laughing and telling stories on each other. Teenagers and middle schoolers were off in another room tormenting each other. Lachlan was passed around the room so everyone could ooh & aah over him. The kitchen table was covered with dishes of beans, chicken, deviled eggs, broccoli salad, macaroni, homemade breads, delicious desserts, and much more. There was beer, wine, iced tea, & soft drinks. The fireplace was crackling.

It was good to get together on a wet and windy winter night.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Beached Whales

About a week and a half ago a reader asked what I knew about the beached whales along the Outer Banks. Although I had heard vague reports, I didn't know any details. (I suppose that's one result of my refusal to own a television or subscribe to a daily newspaper.)

Yesterday I received an email newsletter from Ruth Fordon at Ocracoke's Island Pathways. She had this to say:

"Contributing to my winter angst is the story of the whale strandings that occurred on January 15th. Thirty or more pilot whales, 3 pygmy whales and one minke whale have beached themselves at various locations along the shore of Cape Hatteras between Buxton and Corolla. One theory posits that since the pilot whales are known to value community, it is possible that the pod followed a sick whale ashore stranding them all."

It is always sad news to learn of these kinds of wildlife tragedies.


Yesterday I got so wrapped up in babysitting (playing, visiting neighbors, walking to the P.O., napping [Lachlan, not me] ) that I forgot to make a journal entry.

After babysitting I ventured out to the beach. A strong north wind sent sand through tiny openings in my shoes, and kept my face cold and red. The waves were white and foamy; the water a dull gray-green. The sky was gray-blue with a hint of pink as the sun neared the western horizon. Sanderlings, alone or in widely scattered groups of just two or three, scurried back and forth poking into the tidal areas for tasty morsels.

The winter beach is sometimes stark and bleak, but it always has its rewards.