Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rumgager Show!

Today I took the time to visit three friends of mine in their local production of The Rumgagers! These three are definitely Ocracoke Pirates who have put together a grand show. It is full of audience participation and songs and stories from the sea. There are pirate jokes and skits, and well, I had a great time!

If you are visiting Ocracoke, stop in on Thursday afternoon at 1:00 for their show at the Deep Water Theatre.

Speaking of shows, the Woman of Ocracoke are working hard each day for our production on Saturday night. We want the men to come to the show, but women only are on the stage! That starts at 8:00 p.m., also at Deep Water Theatre. This Island is just full of talented people.

As for me, I am off to my own rehearsal for my stories for the evening!!

Lou Ann

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Haints and Hauntings...

Last night was double duty on the ghost tales...cottage ghost tales and a tour!

I love these cottage ghost tales, because, for the most part, I just wear my pirate dress including black shawl and seashells strung around my neck and head out on my bike.

Last night I was invited by a family who had three boys. We went up to the cozy living room of their rental cottage, lit all the candles (they had purchased some in the day for this event!), chatted a bit (I told them about my three boys and their families!), and then, as darkness prevailed ,told stories. They had asked for some of my scariest stuff, so that is just what I delivered.

I did keep a close tab on the time, though, as I had to whisk away by 9:20 to meet my ghost tour back on Howard Street by 9:30. Philip was taking care of the money and paperwork, and was also was the warm up act for the tour! The folks were delightful with six of them from Ohio!

We strolled the village until the bewitching hour when I left them at the cemetery as I slid into the darkness and went home. Philip and I drank cool ginger ale and just talked over the day before turning out the lights.

Just another wonderful day on Ocracoke.

Lou Ann

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday Passage

July 28, 2008, Sunday Passage

Dear Family and Friends,

I must go down to the seas again,
To the lonely sea and sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song
And the white sail’s shaking
And a gray mist on the sea’s face,
And a gray dawn breaking.

I have been taking to the sea early in the morning. I don’t need an alarm clock as I am on the 5:00 a.m. automatic pilot…wide awake and ready for the day. I rise and put old kettle on for tea in the early darkness. While I wait for it to boil, I toss on my old tee shirt and shorts, tie back my hair and put my sunglasses in my pocket. When the water boils, I make my tea adorned with cream and sugar, and I am ready.

I open the front door of the cottage and dawn is close, but still darkness prevails. The early morning song of our nesting cardinals breaks the silence and I know that I have time to get to the beach before the sun arrives.

The sound of the water…of waves on sand and current upon current upon current greets me well before I reach the sand. When I reach the beach the sand is cool beneath my feet after a night of pale moonlight. I look for shadows on the beach…couples bringing chairs to watch the glory of morning or stray beachcombers, but on this day I am alone. There is not a single soul as far as I can look in either direction. I am in awe of this holy moment and my breath is caught in my throat.

I head down to the water and begin my walk where sea meets land, one foot in each dimension. The deep gray of late dawn commingles with pale shards of crimson and pink. I walk with a clear head and with no destination in mind…just walking.

I must go down to the seas again,
For the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
That may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
And the sea-gulls crying.

I pass the turtle nesting areas, some of which I helped locate and enclose in these same early morning walks. On this day I think the sun will stay hidden until mid day as I can now see the heavy clouds in the East. I am not disappointed as I am enjoying the moment. I turn to head back as the early morning begins to unfold all that was hidden in the darkness. The ghost crabs dart and disappear before I can reach them, their bulging eyes peering at me, a foreigner in their world.

On the sand dunes, the ripening sea oats sway in the gentle breeze that has now picked up. I now see the form of a couple walking towards me, still so far in the distance that our voices are lost would be lost in the wind. I pick up a shell, a lady’s slipper that appears to be perfect, but then again I think all the shells are perfect. I slip it into my pocket and turn to look behind me. I stop. I stare. I lose all conscious thoughts. For there before me is the sun…against the dark morning clouds. It is a scarlet, blood red perfect sphere. In all my life I have never seen such a sunrise. I want to weep or sing or dance, but instead I sit on the damp sand to watch.

As the day brightens I look back out to sea and watch pods of dancing dolphins in front of me. They frolic and play without a notice to this spectacular sunrise, or do they notice? Finally, I sigh, stand up and continue on my walk. The couple that was so far away now approaches me. We talk about the sunrise. “Have you ever…?” I say. They shake their heads. They are tourists and are just starting their vacation. They continue down the beach holding hands. I meet a jogger, we also talk. How can we not?

By the time I get back to my exit, the sun is high, the red is gone, but for the memory and there are a few other folks emerging from small wind blown cottages. It will be a hot day and a good beach day, but I have had my beach day already.

I pick up my cup where I left it hidden in the dunes and go home to my waking village of Ocracoke. The garden gate creaks as I open it, and my day begins.

I must go down to the seas again,
To the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way,
Where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
From a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
When the long trick’s over.

John Masefield

Love to all,
Lou Ann

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A brief field trip..

Philip and I took Lachlan on a field trip on Thursday up the beach. We strapped him into the back seat and away we went. It is interesting that he only knows travel by ferry...just common place to him! We went to Cape Hatteras to have our picnic.
There we sat.
The three of us...facing this majestic lighthouse as we chased away sea gulls and ate bologna sandwiches. We didn't tour inside as he was probably too small and we had many more events for the day, but we did stand side by side up next to the lighthouse. We could only sigh in awe of this masterpiece that, not only was built by the sea, but moved as well.

Off we went to Chicamacomico for a tour of the lifesaving station. It has been restored beautifully and, since it was Thursday, we also were able to watch the drill. (Well, that was the reason for the trip!)

The eight members of the Coast Guard hauled out the beach cart which weighs over a thousand pounds and completed the drill just as it was done a hundred years ago. I tell the story of this rescue operation, but had never seen it actually completed. It was much grander than I had anticipated, although I knew the mechanics of the drill.

When the drill was completed, the men of the Coast Guard answered questions as they were served cold bottles of water. Something the men of long ago were not privy too!
After dripping strawberry ice cream, Lachlan fell asleep and we all came back home drifting along on the ferry. I would say a good time was had by all!!

Lou Ann

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Birthday...

I had a wonderful birthday yesterday. It is always so special on the Island. On Monday evening we had a July potluck supper for all the July birthday folks. The supper was fabulous and we wore our crowns and tiaras!

I woke early on my birthday and went to the beach to watch the sun come was so lovely and quiet. (Philip just can't get up that early!) I bought coffee in the village and a newspaper and sat out on the dock reading the news and enjoying this early morning time.

By the time I returned to the cottage, Philp was up and we hopped on our bikes and went out to breakfast to the Pony Island Inn. In the afternoon I followed Philip and a photographer (from Our State magazine) around as he took photo shots of Philp for the October issue. We spent most of the time in graveyards. (A cheery place to be on your birthday!!)

I went out on the Windfall with my friends, Bill and Lida. It was their wedding anniversary and the entire boat was full of couples celebrating their anniversaries as well. It was beautiful out in the sound on the old schooner and I never tire of listening to Captain Rob tell pirate stories!

It was almost dark when I returned home and time for me to go to work. I put on my old pirate dress with shawl and necklace of clam shells and then I went to work. I had the late night ghost walk through the village. I arrived back home by midnight. (all walking, of course!)

Between all of this, I enjoyed flowers from Adam and Tonya, phone calls, cards and emails. It is nice not to be forgotten when I am a thousand miles away. Thanks to all of you for making my day special!

Lou Ann

Sunday, July 20, 2008


We have spent the last couple of days waiting, waiting, waiting for the tropical storm, Christabal.
We have purchased supplies and batteries from the Community Store, parked our car on higher ground, filled the house with extra books, brought down the Scrabble game and biked down to the Sound several times.

A couple of raindrops fell which caused everyone to believe it was here..but false alarm!

Now, we really don't want a hurricane, or any damage...but a long night of much-needed rain and some wind in the willows would be a welcome relief.

It is just like waiting for a snowstorm up north without the school delays!!

So, until then, all is well on Ocracoke Island!

Lou Ann

Friday, July 18, 2008

Early Morning Walk

Yesterday afternoon a young fellow took Philip and me behind the Village Craftsmen...into the shadows and told us a ghost story. He said that he was walking early in the morning (3:30) and heard giggling and saw a child's footprint within his own. He thought it was just someone else walking on the was early and the shadows were too dark to see anything on the beach. He soon realized that he was the only one walking and that it had to be a ghost..a child from a shipwreck long ago. As he (to remain anonymous) told this story, he shivered and looked around him for ghost remnants, I guess! He said that he is a scientist and did not believe in ghosts until yesterday. So, I decided to go out at 3:30 on the beach to do a little ghost busting myself. was really dark at 3:30 so I waited until 5:30. I made a cup of tea and hurried to the beach to catch any last minute haunting. I guess I was too late, they had all gone back to wherever? Anyway, the morning was beautiful and I had a long quiet walk with my camera. These pictures are from my ghost busting morning on Ocracoke Island.

The Sunrise

Instead of ghosts, I found dunes in the morning shadows.

I tossed my coffee cup in the darkness and when I returned it was waiting for me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Waterman's Fish Fry

In the center of the village is a wonderful old wooden structure known as The Fish House. It's breath and life flourished in years past as fishing was a strong industry here on this island and many other small communities. But with rising real estate prices and few fisherman, the Ocracoke Fish House was becoming an endangered species.

Folks rallied around looking for ways and means (mostly money!) to save this historic structure and way of life. Robyn Paine took hold it and with her committee was able to find the money to preserve this Fish House in our historic district.
It is still a fragile enterprise and there are fund raisers given often to help with the costs. Last night was one of those as the main street of the island was host to fish frying and hush puppy serving as the Waterman served the long line of folks including tourists and locals.

A local band entertained as folks chatted at picnic tables. There are art pieces and quilts and other benefits planned to preserve this this of history on Ocracoke Island.

Here is a link to a great story I found on the web:

As you can see a good time was had by all...when we had our fill of fish, it was off to the Opry.

Just another day on Ocracoke Island.

Lou Ann

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gardening on Ocracoke

I consider myself a gardener...maybe even a really good gardener...but Ocracoke Island has stumped me in this category!

The first summer I spent here I bought plants and had some lovely little garden areas all to be lost to the waters of Hurricane Alex. I have to admit that I was, well, shocked is the word. I know the problems were greater for everyone than my little garden, but it was very disappointing.

Last summer Philip and I spent our birthday money on plants and small shrubs for the front of his cottage. On a road trip to Manteo, we filled the back of his car with everything that we could possibly get in. We worked for days digging and planting and hoeing, and the results were startlingly lovely. Small rose bushes were blooming and thriving, other creeping vines sent out shoots and still others showed promise of a full garden...soon!

By the time I returned this summer, several plants had died and the rest are in a stagnant vegetative state. My purpose this summer is to just keep them alive...not to even expect any blooming or thriving. Meanwhile, the news from back home is that my garden is thriving in cool nights and sunny days and sweet rain. The raspberries have been picked by the quart...squash and tomatoes are taking form and herbs are full and lush. I also hear that the neighbors have been enjoying the fruits of my garden in their kitchen as well as in vases of my roses and lilies.

Alas. Alas. Coming to my aid this summer has been my next door neighbor, David and his wife, Amy. (They are also kin to Philip as in daughter and son-in-law.) They had a ton (?) of rich soil hauled in this spring and built raised beds for flowers and gardens. Now, I knew that David liked gardening, I just didn't know how well he knew how to do it!

Every day I walk by his garden in astonishment...squash, tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, watermelon, cantaloupe...everything tall, green, and lush. OK, I will admit it, I am jealous. He did what I couldn't! But let's give me a little credit that I arrive too late in the spring and leave too early.

At least now I know it can be done...

The watermelon in the photo is David's. He brought it over for supper last night and we enjoyed in the front yard and then I showed them how to have an Indiana seed spitting contest!

So, folks, gardens do thrive on Ocracoke Island..just not in my yard!

Lou Ann

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The alarm was set for 5 a.m. for Monday morning...I have moved past this 5 a.m. wake up call this summer, but it rang and we were up! It was still dark in the outside shower as I made my way down the wooden steps. With our satchels packed, and coffee in hand (at least in my hand) we were picked up by friends of ours for a day off island. It may not seem like a big event to most of you, but it certainly was for us as we do not leave the island very often. There were seven of us involved and we called ourselves the Hyde County tour bus for North Carolina.

We boarded the 6:30 ferry for our two and half hour ride to the mainland. We talked and read, some slept. I did some lovely photography of the sun coming up and we arrived at Hyde County. Now, not to be disrespectful, but there really are not too many tourist attractions there. We did, however, find a few! We were not onto the mainland five minutes when we stopped for coffee at a small restaurant...maybe I could call it that...where the coffee and food were great! There were two or three locals and they knew that we had come all the way from Ocracoke Island!!

We stopped at an old store boarded up and peeked in all the windows and visited the old church across the road. The door was open and we went in. It was old and echoed with time and stories. Someone began singing Amazing Grace and soon we were all just standing and singing. It was lovely and reverent and maybe my favorite part of the trip.

We continued to Bath, North Carolina where Blackbeard married his 14th wife and some historians even believe he was from that area as opposed to England. The town itself is so lovely, and so quiet. We had lunch in a small cafe that said 'closed' but were really open, even though we could not get anything off the grill!

We then toured the Belhaven Museum which Philip and I had toured last January and I wrote about it in a blog or article or Passage. It was the entire contents on Mrs. Way's home in 1962. It is all arranged over the police station and has not been cleaned nor dusted since 1962. It was dim and dark and hot and full of amazing artifacts from her home such as a one eyed pig, a 10 pound tumor removed from a woman in the 50's, a button map of the U.S., a dress from a 700 pound woman, canned fish from 1960...should I go on?

We took the 4:00 ferry back home to Ocracoke Island where we shared stories and laughed and did a little reading as well. My book for the day was Cannery Row by Steinbeck. Interesting choice.

Our cottage looked lovely and sweet after a day off-island....we had a wonderful time, but isn't it nice to come home?

Lou Ann

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A rainy Island week...

The rain came in over the sound with thunder and lightening on Saturday evening. I love storms here on the Island, the thunder tumbles over the sea and the wind shakes all the cedars and yaupon trees.

The rain has been gentle and lingering for the most part canceling our ghost walks on Tuesday evening and the fish fry at the Waterman's last night.

The tourists are not as crazy about this cozy weather as I am, but we certainly did need it.

As for today, I will curl up with my John Adams book, bake a batch of cookies and watch the tumbling clouds.

Lou Ann

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Ocracoke Gothic

It was a wonderful July Fourth on Ocracoke Island. The events of the past few days just swim in my head with the fun and laughter and beauty of this Island. We had two house guests which we love, Buddy (Philip's brother from Norfolk), and Jim (our friend from Manteo!) Those two gentlemen, alone, enrich our lives!

There were pot lucks every night (including a couple of them at our house)..beach walking, visiting, flag raising, song singing, and parade routing!!

Philip and I decided to do a small float on the back of the pick up truck. We called ourselves Ocracoke Gothic as opposed to American Gothic. We carried clam rakes, clams, baskets of vegetables, a chamber pot, and hosted a clothesline as well. I wore an old bonnet from Great Aunt Tressie and a house dress actually belonging to Philip's Mom, but has been put away in the attic. We had a great time and won third place as well which meant we brought home a hundred dollar check!

On this quiet afternoon, our company has all left for the ferry, Philip decided to nap, and even though the cottage needs cleaning, there are other things to do that are a bit more fun!

Hope you all had a great Fourth as well!!

Lou Ann

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Solstice on Ocracoke

This article is reprinted from my H-R article! Enjoy~

It is the night of the Solstice, the first day of summer. Magical. It is my night to host the late night ghost and history walk. I prefer this time as the village quiets down from the day. Folks have retired to front porches to sit on porch swings finding relief from the humid air that sweeps over us from the Atlantic. Bikes are parked on sandy drives, and the only folks out walking are strolling hand in hand oblivious to ghosts.

I put on the finishing touches of my costume…a blue cotton pirate dress, a string of seashells for a necklace, a red rose pinned in my hair and my spider woven black shawl. I turn on a light in the cottage as the dusk has turned the shadows to deep purple, and I know it will be inky black before I return.

There is a knock at the door.

Two boys are standing on the pizer. They are barefoot and their once-white tee-shirts are streaked with the day’s dirt. One is Emmett, the son of the Captain of the Windfall. He is 13 or 14 and can be found crewing for his dad or reading Mark Twain or J. K. Rawlings in a tree somewhere. His friend is from up the beach and they are biking around looking for an adventure on this Friday night. I ask if they want to participate in the ghost walk. They are all ears as I tell them where I will be and when. “Fig tree lane,” I say, “midnight.” I ask them to be discreet when they scare my tour group….”make it sound real,” I say. I realize we are whispering and our eyes are darting around in the early darkness. We make a pact and they disappear into the night.

I check the batteries in my flashlight and go out the back door and follow the path to where folks are gathering for this late night haunt. I chat and welcome them to the ghost and history walk, collect their fees, pass out the waivers to be signed. I laugh as I hand them out, “They are so you don’t call me in the night if you can’t sleep!” I point out the bathroom and my supply of bug spray. With all the business taken care of, my voice changes to a whisper as we meander down Howard Street. Their flashlights shine on old graves planted among the cedars and the live oak trees.

We gather under the light of the waning full moon and the stories begin. Blackbeard. Shipwrecks. Lighthouses. Hurricanes. I talk about the history and geography of this little ribbon of sand that we are living on for this moment.
They shudder and move closer to one another. The streets are empty and dark and haunted as we move around the village and through the cemeteries. I know the stories well as I spend my free time studying books, shipwreck accounts and listening to the local folks talk on the Community Store porch.

We come to the old foot path of Fig Tree Lane. I tell the story of Mad Mag who was kidnapped by a ship’s captain and forced to live here in 1900. She still roams the island wearing white and moving from cemetery to cemetery. I pause with my story every few lines waiting for the boys to rustle the bushes or send out a shivery cackle or two. I hear nothing. We follow the foot path. I am the one who is now spooked. I know those boys are hiding here. I see a flash of light, but it is lightening over the Sound. My voice quivers at the next story as I search for them. My group is not nearly as afraid as I am. I know they are hiding and watching and waiting for the right moment. We continue to the end of the tour…the boys do not appear. I tell the last story and thank them all for coming. As my group disperses I call out in the shadows, “Emmett? Where are you?” I hear rustling, but it is only the wind and the approaching storm.

It is late when I receive a call from Rob, Emmett’s Dad. The boys were hiding until midnight in the mud and the mosquitoes. We had to have passed each other in the darkness. How did we miss each other? Some stories just don’t have endings, I think, as I lock the cottage door

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Family and Friends,

For this blog, I am sending you to Philip's blog site. I wrote his monthly newsletter and it is just great fun! Lots of pictures and a wonderful story on island life with Philip. Here's the link:

Then go to his Ocracoke on the photo of the washhouse and enjoy! Let me know what you think.

Lou Ann