Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Balloon Launch, 2010

With the anniversary of my Dad's death, came the inspiring hope of love and families. My brothers and sisters, and my mom, live miles apart and had no way of being together on this date. My sweet niece, Brandy, remembered that last year Karen sent a Sky Lantern with me to the memorial service.

Afterwards we went out behind my parent's house in Texas and sent it off to the heavens to Dad. This year, in the mail, we all received a sky lantern with directions to set it off at the same synchronized time on the 26th.

On that day, the Outer Banks (including Ocracoke) experienced a massive storm up and down the eastern sea coast with winds in excess of 30-50 miles per hour. Snow and rain prevailed, but the launch did not.

Last night, with calming winds, we went drove to the Southpoint where the Atlantic meets the Pamlico Sound. The winds were low, the sky was gorgeous and it was here that we sent off the sky lantern. We were able to watch it all the way to the heavens and then slowly dip back down and become part of the sea. Dust to dust, sea to sea.

The sunset was exceptionally beautiful. As we drove back in the darkness with the sea beside us, I told Philip stories of my Dad. He is used to it, I speak of him often when I hear music he loved, or poetry, or beauty.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas on Ocracoke

Philip and I drove back to Ocracoke for Christmas. We meandered through the mountains, enjoying the drive, yet keeping an eye on the weather. We arrived on Christmas Eve in time for dinner with family and the Christmas Eve service at the United Methodist Church here on the Island. The church was packed with children and parents and was reminiscent of an old-fashioned Christmas of the past. It was good to see Philip's family and friends once again.

The nor-easter blew in on Christmas day with sleet and snow and gale winds shutting down the ferries for two days. There is something quite primitive to be on a an Island with the wind blowing, fire in the fireplace and dinner with family.

Today the sun is shining so there will be a late afternoon walk on the beach and homemade soup for supper.

The above picture is of The Community Store. The inside boasts of a real Christmas tree, burning pot belly stove and all the groceries and supplies we would ever need here. Yes, it is romantic and lovely here in the winter.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice

Dear Folks,
I think the Winter Solstice is my favorite Holiday, at least I make it so. This year was so spectacular with the full moon, the total lunar eclipse and the Solstice colliding in the Universe. My friend Laura and I decided to rent a cabin at Pokagon for the event. We also invited our friends, Philip and Fritz. (We are both in the dating scene these days!)

We all had dinner early and then headed out to the cabin in the park. We immediately filled the kitchenette with amaretto, chocolate and cookies!

The cabin was built with knotty pine on the inside, cozy and comfortable and it was as if we were on vacation! We played games on the large table, and watched movies til 2:00. Actually to be honest, they all watched the movies, I immediately fell asleep!

The cloud cover was thick and all the events planned by Fred Wooley were canceled, however at 2:00 Philip went outside and announced that it was clear enough to see. We put on boots and scarfs and gloves and out into the early morning quiet hours we walked. The haze surrounded the moon and night sky, but we could still see the moon and the eclipse. It was probably the most magical night of my light under this cosmic phenomenon.

It was as if it were the night for miracles. I think this evening will be in the top ten list of my life forever. Hope you were able to enjoy it as well!

Lou Ann

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"Can't we all just get along?"

So the news in my small town is the controversy with Dana Thompson and City Hall. On Wednesday evening Thompson put the above message on his marquis at the Strand Theatre. " We survived Depression, WW2, TV, DVD, 911 and fire, but will we surviv City Hall?"

During this past year Angola has experienced a downtown revitalization project. Thompson apparently missed a few meetings and ended up with one of the new planters outside his theatre. With these planters, it is difficult to change the corner lights on the marquis.

Thompson has been charged with putting popcorn in the planters and using the wrong kind of salt for the new pavers. Photos of the salt and grains of salt have been collected as evidence. A surveillance camera has also been installed to keep an eye on Thompson.

This will all go to court on February 25th.

So, Angola, where do you stand on this matter?

I am a frequent visitor of the Strand, which was built in 1932. It is an integral part of our downtown area. I hope these issues with Thompson and City Hall can be worked out. In the meantime, come on over to Angola and visit the Strand or the Browkaw. You won't be disappointed. Oh, and if you get a chance to talk to Thompson (and you will), crying will get you a free pop!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trans-Siberian Orchestra and a half-marathon!

On Friday Philip and I took the late night flight from Fort Wayne to  St. Pete, Florida to be with Adam and Tonya. Even though it is Florida, the chilly wind (and Tonya) met us at the airport. Their house is so lovely and decorated for Christmas. My room is like a bed and breakfast with the timber-frame bed with a handmade quilt and a gift basket on the small wooden dresser.

We spent Saturday touring the beautiful farmer's market here in St. Pete. We spent hours tasting, sampling and buying great food, bread, and coffee.

We spent the evening having dinner in Gulfport and then traveling to Tampa for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I must admit I have never seen the show and was in total amazement. I don't think there are enough words to describe the show!

Today Adam, Philip and I volunteered at the Holiday-Half Marathon and cheered for Tonya all the way. Yes she made it! I am so proud of her! Yea!

Enjoying the rest of the day with friends coming over for football, games and a cookout.

Too bad there is snow at home, can't even think about it!!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making Gingerbread Houses and Thanksgivng

Time passes by with family and the coming of winter as the blog always slips away into the late night wind and snow. Here are the last two columns to help catch you up and then maybe, just maybe, we can be back in the running!
Just click on the links!

Thanksgiving in my small town!

Making Gingerbread Houses!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

This morning drizzle and fog blanket this part of the Midwest as I pull open the shades and peer into this November day.

Family has started to arrive for Thanksgiving, my favorite Holiday, known just for family and stories and good food.

The old lavender house welcome Adam and Tonya back from Florida. Of course, both are from this area so there are lots of folks and family to see for them.

We always put together a packet of events and possibilities so that we know where we are all going.

As for me, I usually just stay in the center of the house as they come and go.

So, wherever you are, Thanksgiving has just started in this small town.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

This week's column.

So, here we are a few days before Thanksgiving and my house is slowly taking on the feel of this holiday.  Pumpkins on the porch, orange twinkle lights still adorning trellis in garden, clean sheets on all the beds, and quilts aired out.

This weeks column is all about giving thanks for what we have. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Autumn in my yard....

Just a few photographs taken in my yard this Autumn. It has been stunning!

Enjoy this week's column!

A few years ago I met a young man on the steps of the Cultural Arts Building in Chicago while waiting for the train. This is about that day.

This week's column!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Post Halloween Ghost Stories...

Monday night and the girl's show up for girl's pot luck. We love this night, not a male in sight and the stories, gossip and wine flow! We never plan the food, we just let the pot luck take care of that.

This past Monday night women of all ages and generations filled this old lavender house. The food was great, and vegetarian as usual.

With candles burning and darkness deep upon us the talk turned to ghost stories. One of the girls had just returned from Salem, Massachusetts where she went on ghost and cemetery walks. Her stories were wonderful and certainly makes me want to get out to Salem. I was there a few years ago and did love it!

This prodded other ghost stories and before long it was late, the candles were dripping wax and it was time for my guests to leave. With bowls and dishes in hand, I bid my friends adieu, lock up the house and let the whispers of ghost stories settle into the bones of this old house.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Just a few photos out of hundreds from Halloween week in my home town..

Thirteen of us went to the Children's
Philharmonic Concert at the Embassy
in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We were so glad
to have Mom join us from Texas!

 Brandy made the beautiful birthday cake
for Mom's 81st birthday! It was absolutely
as wonderful as it looks!

Here is a picture of the northern Indiana crew
celebrating the birthday!

Jessie and I adorning our Mom and wishing them
a bon voyage as they were boarding the Queen Mary
in the morning out of New York.

A windy stormy night found us in the kitchen
making Halloween cookies. It was a mess
but so worth the effort! Matthew and Jonah and
Avrie had a great time!

This is Jonah's first school Halloween. They had
to dress up as book characters. Here he is
as Stellaluna. Great job on the costume, Karen! 

Just a photo of all the boys in Jonah's class!
Mrs. Doerr does have her hands full and is such
a wonderful teacher. We are so lucky to know her!

The family after the scary stories at Pokagon. They only
stayed for the kids show...
We were in the Pavilion with the huge fireplace!

Telling stories at Pokagon. Steve Etheridge and I
have been there for 19 years. That is
unbelievable! Folks still keep coming for stories!

Friday, October 29, 2010

End of October haiku

  brocaded raindrops
erases Autumn's facade
leaving stark bare limbs

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Club

Wednesday evening the eight of us in The Page Turners met for dinner and a discussion of this month's book, The Reliable Wife. It was the perfect book for October.

We, The Page Turners, take turns having dinner at one another's house with great food, wine and conversation. I think our book club is of the rarest form as we combine all of the above with literary conversations. Our satchels are laden down with books we have read, books to loan to others, and lists of books we want to read.

This month as dessert of pumpkin bars was being served, we sat in candlelight telling ghost stories, and of haunted ghost walks we have taken.

By the time we left the wind had picked up and was swirling about the leaves of Autumn. I do have to say that when I arrived home with the moon peaking out behind gray clouds and the swirling leaves, that I did look over my shoulder once or twice.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Note from the crew of the Windfall ll...

Two weeks ago Philip and a few friends set out on a wonderful journey. Here is a brief story of their journey.
Sorry there are no pictures...make them in your imagination!

It was a dark and stormy night.
The first mate said to the captain, "Cap, the men need to see you."
"Bring them up then," said the Captain.
The men huddled around the Captain.
He began.
"It was a dark and stormy night.
The first mate said to the Captain, 'Cap, the men need to see you.'
'Bring them up then,' said the Captain.
The men huddled around the Captain.
He began.
'It was a dark and stormy night....

The journey of the Windfall ll in one short blog. The sail was a glorious and brilliant expedition of five men: Philip, Steve, Frank, Captain Rob Temple, and Rob's son Emmet. Each day brought blue skies and different forms of landscapes from small towns to larger cities, from small water crafts to barges. The evening sunsets and night skies were of great beauty and awe-inspiring as they anchored. After dinner and the galley was clean for the night, the crew pulled out their fiddles, penny whistles and harmonicas. Their music and voices also sailed across the sea just as they did a century ago when sailing was an occupation.

Morning coffee and sailing northward before the sun came up was the protocol as Captain Rob was always on the move. A week into the journey they were at the race site and greeted with music on the dock, festivals in the park, and a send off dinner with pirates and oysters.

The day of the sail, dark clouds began to role in and rumors of gale force winds began to swirl about the 45 schooners in the race. It was definitely time to batten down the hatchet and prepare for the 82 miles scheduled for the Windfall ll. As the race began, pouring rain slashed these old schooners with a rain every sailor dreaded since the beginning of time. In an interview with Captain Rob this morning at 0900 he said, "The weather was much worse than expected. The gales in the night exceeded 40 knots and the darkness of the Potomac River made it so much worse." When the darkest of the night came, it was decided that for the safety of the crew and to keep the old schooner intact, sails would come down and a safe harbor would be found for a few hours.

The men waited out the storm and then joined those who were brave enough to continue on down to the finish line. Cheers went up from the crowd as each schooner came into Portsmouth.

Amazingly, not a crew member nor boat went down during the nor' easter than descended upon the men and women.

After a brief conversation with Philip and Rob this morning, all is well...still drying out clothing and re-arranging the galley after the storm's winds tossed about their belongings.

Sunny skies greeted them this morning as they begin their journey home to Ocracoke. Needless to say, these men, these sailors of ours will have stories to tell for years to come about the Great Schooner Race of 2010.
This is Lou Ann sending in the news from The Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race of 2010. All is well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Phoenix

I joined the world in watching the rescue of the 33 miners from Chile. I began last night when the rescue began and continued it after school today. I could not even stop watching.

My mind wandered as did everyone's elses as well...the emotions, the physical hardship, the hearts and minds of the world watching and those who worked non-stop to make this happen.

In a trying world, this rescue, this determination, this gift of hope to mankind is exactly what we all need to remember and recognize that we are all in this together.

The spirit of community is alive and well with The Phoenix, rising up from the ashes, as my dad always said.

Farewell tombed mineshaft...may these men live long healthy lives.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The last rose of summer...

Sometimes a garden is just full of surprises. I am a gardener so I know the last blooming flowers...the marigolds that are still blooming and producing scented flowers for my Autumn bouquets as well as the colorful mums.

My herbs are still growing tall with nary a wilt nor a tarnish from the cold nights that now descend upon us each evening.

But the last rose of summer is always a bit of a surprise and filled with the greatest of beauty, more so than in the summer.

So a bit of nostalgia as summer ends and Autumn begins to take over with glistening jewels in the forest and skies of azure.

Take a toast to the last of summer...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A little bit of Thoreau..

With this perfect Autumn weather here in the Midwest, I am enjoying and capturing all the beauty. This week I am leading students on environmental walks through the woods and culminating this with sketching.

We sit on logs or leaf-lined pathways as jewels of scarlet and tangerine leaves tumble down upon us as we write. Today's work brought us patches of sunlight and shadow, the calls of cardinals and crows, and the echoing of a woodpecker probably wondering what we were doing.

The assignment is to look for all the beauty in nature, the small pieces that we miss...the vein of a leaf, the shape of the acorn or the deep purple asters filling our woods these days.

Why do I do this? Oh, it would be nice to bring out some Plein Air painters, but most of all, I want them to appreciate the beauty of this world.

Another woodland walk tomorrow.

Tonight? Line-dancing!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Birthdays from a small town...

Dear Folks,
I love writing my blog and sharing with you stories from my small town. Yesterday was the 30th birthday of my sweet daughter-in-law, Karen. She is a wonderful friend as well, and we had a celebration of her birthday yesterday.
It was to have been at our local park, but the weather turned a bit chilly and damp so the plans were quickly changed. We hosted the party instead at Karen and Aaron's church in the Fireside room, complete with a fire.

Karen and I went early and decorated the tables with pumpkins and sunflowers and candy corn. It was a pot luck as the tables were full of food by late afternoon. We all had a great time with lots of folks wishing Karen a happy birthday. Kids were everywhere and that always makes for a fun party.

So, to Karen, happy birthday, and I wish you so many more happy ones.
The photos are, of course, from the party from my small town.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The full moon moonlight...

This day is so marvelous in so many ways...the full moon of September, the Autumnal Equinox, and the beauty that surrounds all of us wherever we live.
I have been anticipating this night for a few weeks when I realized what we were in for and that it has not been seen since 1991.

Jupiter will dance under the moon as well during the nighttime hours.

I had no choice but to leave my French doors off of my bedroom wide open last night and let those moonbeams dance all night across my room.

So, Autumn comes with a train of jewels cascading behind her. We are ready for her in the Midwest for the beauty and coolness she brings.

As for this blogger, so many stories have gone untold the past few weeks. My laptop has been at the shop so very few opportunities to write and post photos, but alas, we are back in business.

A toast to the Queen...Autumn.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The tradition continues...

When my children were young (well, actually all their growing up years), I read to them before they went to bed at night. We started with picture books and then eventually moved to chapter books including poetry at dinner.

We started those years in a small town in Pennsylvania, and eventually moved out to the farm. We spent the first few years in Indiana reading by the light of the kerosene lamps as we were void of electricity. 

Oh the places we roamed with those books. From "The Great Brain" series to the "Little House Books" to "Anne of Green Gables" to Shakespeare.

I think those were the best years of my life reading to my three little boys.

Karen and Aaron live only a block away so once school starts and we get back into a schedule, I like to bike over with a satchel full of books to read them their bedtime stories.

Tonight we explored books by Cynthia Rylant. When it was time for bed, we made a barefoot dash outside to look at the waxing moon and then it was off to bedtime.

I just picked up my books and road my bike back home. What a nice way to end the day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A celebration of life...

A much needed rain fell from the sky yesterday morning. It was cool and I was tempted to turn on the heat, but am waiting until Halloween for that one.

I didn't wear jeans to the farmer's market, but instead wore dark slacks and a deep purple sweater carrying my old black umbrella. Even with the rain, the folks who run the market were still in good spirits as we filled our bags with tomatoes and beans and the last of the sweet corn and beans. I also purchased honey from my favorite local beekeeper, but kept an eye on the time as I hurried through letting the rain glide off my umbrella.

I put the bags in the car and made my way to the Congregational Church, just a a couple of blocks away in my sweet town. For yesterday was celebration of life for a wonderful woman who has blessed our town for all of her adult life.

Marion Eberhardt was born March 20, 1925 and died this week with her loving husband, Art, by her side.

Marion was one of those folks that I call 'salt.' She and Art met in Petosky, Michigan where she was a biology teacher and he was pursuing his PhD in electrical engineering. They spent their courting days watching sunsets and shooting stars. Art took a teaching job here in Angola at Trine University (then it was Tri-State College) and they immersed themselves in this town.

Marion was a nature lover and taught Art all she knew about the natural world. She was instrumental in preserving Wing Haven and establishing Acres Land Trust here in northern Indiana. She was a camp leader, a Sunday School teacher, a gardener, a singer, a friend, a naturalist all her life.

She leaves woods full of trees that she planted and seeds of nature in all the lives that she touched.

She will be missed in our town, but we are thankful that she and Art blessed us with all those years. Thank you Marion. May you now rest in the nature that you so loved.

If you would like to know more about Acres, please visit this site:
 Acres Land Trust

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Notes from the West Coast...

So, the hurricane came and went, and was actually just a windy night and a few branches down on Ocracoke. Nice that things went so well after all that worry.

As the hurricane approached the Island, I was flying to Portland, Oregon to be with Abe, Kristin and the little girls Holly and Brianna. Holly is three and Briana just turned one.

It was a long flight and I kept thinking about the flight to China...never to do again...

We have all talked non-stop and played as well. I brought a barrage of puppets for the girls, some of my best friends and they love them. Maybe they will remember me after this visit.

Late yesterday afternoon we packed up and went to the Pacific Ocean. We had dinner out, then down to the beautiful rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest. Abe scrounged around for driftwood for a fire while I dug a hole and lined it with rocks. We had hoped to watch the sunset, but it was cool and misty and the fog rolled in. It was spectacular, just breathless.

Today is the the Farmer's Market and then out to the country for wine tasting.
What a great time we are having.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hurricane Earl

This is what I know; Philip is among only the few staying. He is hunkered down in his grandfather's house, the one he lives in. This house has  survived hurricanes for 150 years.

It has been an interesting journey this week with this Hurricane. 
So many friends have left for safety including Philip's daughter and her family.

The news isn't good at 4:30 this afternoon, but I will keep you updated as the hurricane progresses.

Godspeed to all in the way of this powerful storm.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bats in the belfry...bees in the wall.

Owning an hold house is not for the faint of heart...or for someone with a really thin pocketbook! 

I always think it is especially difficult for a girl to own her house, but then that seems a bit sexist, don't you think? I mean, I really love owning my house, but there is nothing that I can repair. OK, I can paint, really I can. However, I cannot roof or plumb or build or repair anything.

Let's just take this month for example: the air conditioner goes out so I call Armstrong Cooling and Heating. They are great, come on the first call and I am back in business. They send their bill through the mail.

The washing machine is next. I call Jim's Appliance Service. They are great, a husband and wife team always showing up the next morning. Jim always finds souvenirs in my cellar like coins in the furnace or broken parts in the washer. He fixes it right up and leaves the bill on my old kitchen table. 

Now there are bees in the wall, yes really in the wall. I am afraid to tell my border about them. I mean, it is late and dark outside and he really doesn't need to know...unless they break a hole through the wall in the night. Hmm...should I...shouldn't I? 

Tomorrow Charlie the Spider Fighter will be here to fix it all up. He will leave the bill next to the kitchen sink.

Everyone has their skill, and it seems as if I really need them all this year!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Farmer's Markets

Dear Folks,
I love my local farmer's market! (Photos to follow when laptop comes home from the repair shop!)

I decided to write this week's column about my local market and some reflections on the Barr Street Market in Fort Wayne. I have had some lovely comments on folks who remember that market as well.

As a bit of interest, yesterday when I shopped I came home with a beautiful bouquet of gladiolas...just as it should be. 

Enjoy this week's column!! 

This week's column on Farmer's Markets!

Friday, August 27, 2010


It is a lazy day in northern Indiana. I don't work at school on Friday as I save the day for storytelling or traveling, or in some cases, finishing up my article for the paper. (Friday a.m. deadline!) It is always good when I have a storytelling gig or big week end plans as I get the column done early. If not, well....

Today was one of those days. I just couldn't get to work. The day began so cool so I hung out laundry, made the first pot of soup since last spring, did the normal household chores and then finished up the column. I am not a procrastinator, I simply work well with deadlines.

I also decided to get the errands done before the actual weekend, leaving me a carless couple of days. My first stop was the ATM where I sat in a man standing at the ATM. His truck was park to the side and he was pulling a fishing boat. When he finished his transactions, I rolled down my window and said, "It's a great day for fishing, yes?" Maybe I shouldn't do things like that, I mean maybe he thought I was going to rob him, but nevertheless, I do things like this.

We got to talking and he was on his way to northern Michigan to camp and fish on a small lake. He told me that last week he attended the wake and funeral of a Lakota woman in South Dakota. He said it was fascinating as the wake and funeral lasted for a full two days, not just an hour or so. He also said that he didn't get much fishing done.

The things you can learn at your local ATM ! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A taste of Autumn

Tonight a heavy veil of dew covers trees and bushes and grassy areas. Just sitting here working on my screened in porch, I am surrounded by the evening cacophony of crickets and cicadas. While the August full moon peeps over my neighbor's house, I know the truth, Autumn is coming.

I have noticed the shift in sunlight in my kitchen window, the one facing the West. When I first returned home three weeks ago it still filtered direct and hot through the stained glass window and bounced off of the red walls. But now it has become slanted and sunbeams dance with sweet, sad beauty as summer begins to let down her guard.

The garden is heavy this time of year as Susies, last of the day lilies, green pumpkins sprawling all over the compost heap, and a luscious red-raspberry patch. My raspberries usually riped toward the end of September, but are a month early, and the berries are huge. Tonight I picked several pails full with more tomorrow night.

By tomorrow evening the temperature will dip into the low 50's, and I will toss another quilt upon the bed.

I love each season as it shows us its grace, so be what may, I will cherish these last misted summer days.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Indy Fringe Festival

I spent this past weekend in Indianapolis at the Indy Fringe Festival. It was a gorgeous weekend to attend and, as always, great fun to be with my Indy storytelling friends.

The Indy Fringe is a wonderful festival with lottery-based events, not juried. Folks from all the world can apply, but it is a first come, first serve basis. (Also whoever has $500.00 to toss around as that is the entrance fee!)

Several of my friends were in the festival this year, and I was lucky enough to catch both of their shows on Friday night.

Loren Niemi and Howard Lieberman, from Minnesota, had an interesting set with "55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs, and Audience Participation." They were, needless to say, quite entertaining and left us on the edge of our seats wondering what would happen next!

Deborah Asante, from Indianapolis, told her Fringe version of love stories. Deborah is a gifted storyteller and looked like a million dollars in her white-sequined dress and wrap. Her shoes and fingernails matched as well and glittered onto the wall as she worked under the red light. 

Afterwards we all sat out in the Fringe tent til midnight telling stories, meeting new folks.

The Fringe continues until the end of next week end, so if you get a chance to make the trip down, you won't be disappointed. Just tell Loren, Howard, and Deborah that I sent you.

Oh, and don't let the music stop with you holding the fish bowl full of stories at Loren and Howard's show or you will become part of the Fringe as well!! On the other hand, don't let go of the fish bowl, and you will really have a great time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another year starts..

School started today in my home town. It makes for a bittersweet day for all of us in the neighborhood. 

This summer our quiet streets have been home to many children...children who still stay out until late dusk...children who run barefoot every day...children who make up their own games to play with their imagination running rampant.

They travel as well. They might be at my house for a tea party (first day back!) or another house running through the grass or yet another house sitting on the stoop eating watermelon.

I love these children. Two of them are my grandsons, Matthew and Jonah. I think they are the ringleaders of the neighborhood!

But last night the streets were quiet at dusk with just the sound of crickets and cicadas as these children were called in early for baths and bed.

Jonah had his first day of school today as he went off to Kindergarten. Matthew went to third grade. Their parents walked them to school and then walked them home after school. (We have the old-fashioned crossing guard as well!)

So, another year begins and we are all a little older and wiser.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meteor Showers!

Hi Folks,
Welcome back to took a while to find my space and my voice again after my summer on Ocracoke, but I can assure you that I am settled in to my routine of living in my small town in Northern Indiana.

My first article back home is on-line about the Perseid Meteor Showers!

Enjoy! Thanks for being patient while I unpack the sand and store away the summer memories!

Lou Ann

Monday, August 02, 2010

A day for sweetness and sighing....

Dear Folks,

Today is Philip's birthday, along with his grandson, Lachlan. They love sharing this day together. We have had pot lucks and family dinners to celebrate and today Philip's brother and wife are coming for lunch.

Lachlan is getting a new/used bike and I bought Philip an afternoon cleaning of his wonderful house. (No, I am not the one cleaning!)

After partying and lunch, Bud and Jamie will take me home with them to Norfolk to spend the night as I have an early morning flight back to the Heartland in the morning.

I can't believe my summer on Ocracoke is ending. It has been so wonderful, so magical, so healing for me!

It is definitely bittersweet with salty tears mixed in.

Here is a picture of Philip on his birthday. His friend, Rob Temple, had this hat made..Captain Philip. (Philip restored his dad's North Carolina skiff this past spring. I am afraid we have not heard the end of Captain Philip.

 Happy Birthday to Philip. My next post will be back home again in Indiana.
  Lou Ann

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Belly Dancing Class

Today I wanted to tell you about an activity on Ocracoke that many of you might have missed when you were here this summer. Among the normal swimming, kayaking, beach-combing, biking, moon watching...there is (well has been) belly dancing.
I saw the homemade sign at the Community Store in the middle of June announcing free belly dancing classes at the Community Center. This seductive poster featured art caricatures of two belly dancers that looked well...that looked great! I have been wanting to get my waist back to 17 inches (OK, just kidding) so I thought it would be a great idea. I called Lida Jones and talked her into taking the class as well.

I immediately became enamored with this ancient art of belly dancing. Our teacher, Katja, a student from Asheville was gentle and encouraging as well as very talented. (How did she do that?)

Our small group grew every week, until I knew we had enough for our first dancing troupe which we named Lola's Ladies.

For the past few weeks we have rehearsed and researched (looking for our great coin wraps on-line) until we were ready for the Women's Opry.

Today was the last class and I took Philip's granddaughter and her friend with me. I bought them belly dancing wraps and we all danced together. Katja is leaving to go back to school so it was a sad farewell.

I do love the fact that we now have added one more activity to our summer schedule. So, if you are around next summer, look for the posters; then you too can have 17 inch waists (or really just have a lot of fun!)

Lou Ann

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blogging for Philip

Philip hurt his back and has been in bed for a couple of days, therefore, I have taken over his blog. Yesterday I copied it on to mine, today you get to find it yourself. It is a great blog with photos from my early morning walk to Springer's Point. Thanks for letting me re-direct. (Opry tonight with stories to prepare!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moon Over Ocracoke

Dear Folks,

For the past week Philip's son and his family have been visiting from the mountains of North Carolina. It is so lovely where they live, but every summer (almost) they bring all their summer gear to Ocracoke to share in the fun and beauty here.

The children are active with bike riding and beach going and playing with their cousin, Lachlan, who lives here full time.

Yesterday afternoon I announced that there would be a full moon. (I guess I should have announced it to all of you as well!) We made a family plan to meet on the beach at 8:00 to just sit and stare at the deepening dusk with the sun going down on the Sound and the moon coming up over the Atlantic. I got there early with towels and a flashlight and spent some time alone just sighing at the beauty. It wasn't long before the whole entourage came running!

The kids were happy to just walk on the shoreline as veils of darkness began to hover over us. The grown ups all sat on the towels and chairs waiting for the magical sphere to rise out of the water. (OK, I know realistically how it all works, but play with me here!)

The July moon did not fail us. It rose magnificently up over the water and we caught our breath. We did, indeed, hollar down at the kids and they glanced at the moon, but continued to play in the moon shadows as they appeared on the empty beach.

Once they found out I had a flashlight, they began looking for ghost crabs. We, the grown ups, counted the shadows of the children once in a while, but knew they were fine and having a great time.

Finally it was time to leave. Of course, they did not want to go until I mentioned ice cream. Back into the village we all had ice cream, letting it drip down our chins and onto our day-old shirts.
It was a wonderful memory builder for all of us.
Lou Ann

P.S. The moon will rise again tonight...8:58 here on Ocracoke
P.S.S. I wrote this for Philip's blog as well!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The 4th Annual Women's Opry on Ocracoke

Our new belly dancing troupe, Lola's Ladies!
One small glimpse into the green room! (So much more!)
Post Show Appreciation!

This weekend was the 4th Annual Women's Opry on Ocracoke, and we did not leave anyone disappointed. Sometimes words actually fail me on describing the work that went into the production (unless you do theatre yourself), the performers, rehearsals, costumes, and, in working with all women, well, you can get that picture yourself.

We had a wonderful time putting on the show 'Way Off Broadway,' and indeed it was. Here are just a few words to describe the show:
Full of light and life!

We performed for a sold out crowd on Saturday night and a full house for the Sunday Matinee. If you missed it folks, all I can say is that I am really sorry.
Once over, once over. Just a few photos, some are taken by Brian Carter! Video to follow one of these days!

The cast of the 4th Annual Women's Opry on Ocracoke!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Birthday (sigh)

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a wonderful day. Philip actually got up and went to the beach with me to watch the sun rise. It was spectacular, as always, and this is the photo from the morning. We climbed up into the lifeguard chair to watch morning unfold just sitting quietly letting the waves roll over our thoughts. We finally decided to move on to our day and had breakfast at our local Pony Island on Ocracoke. The day was filled with rehearsals for the show...more belly dancing rehearsals and shopping for the perfect gaudy, jingly necklace, of which we found.

Amy (Philip's daughter) hosted a family, birthday potluck. Her yard was filled with family, friends and lots of kids. The hit of the evening was the roof beer floats that Philip made. No one was left out of that for sure!

Birthdays come and go, and mine was fun and happy. Last year I was getting my purple cast on my birthday. So far this year (well, just one day!), all is well!

Lou Ann

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mad Mag's Studio

As I promised, I have taken an early morning photo of my new writing studio!
This wonderful old wash house has probably seen more laundry on this island than I would care to do! I also know how hard it was to keep clothes laundered with the primitive facilities of the hand pump, homemade detergents, wash boards, and the heat of the summer, as well. I often think about the smell of clothes in days gone by here on the island, the clothes must have been scented with fish and stale cigarettes!

So, as I use this newly restored space, I have already christened it this summer with many writing projects, singing and dancing as well.

Thank you Philip for this wonderful gift!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

4th Annual Women's Opry!

Just finished Sunday afternoon rehearsal for the 4th Annual Women's Opry.
It promises to be just as wonderful as the other three, but with a different twist! This year the Women of Ocracoke are going Way Off Broadway!
There are 18 pieces in our two act variety show all focusing on songs from Broadway. There are singles, duets, chorus numbers...there are monologues and belly dancing as well! It will definitely be talked about for a long time on Ocracoke as one of the highlights of the 2010 summer!
It, again, has been my great honor to produce the show and bring it to the stage due only to the number of creative and willing women to work hard just because they want to!
Please join us on Saturday, July 24 at 8:00 or Sunday, July 25 for a 2:00 matinee at the Deep Water Theatre for as we all say..."There's no business like show business!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is there to do here on Ocracoke?

The other day Philip and I were sitting on the rocking chairs at the Community Store. It is a great place to hang out in the middle of the afternoon, or really anytime. Locals stop by to chat as they are buying milk or broccoli or tobacco, and tourists stop in as well to buy drinks or snacks or tobacco!

As we will sitting there just watching the harbor and talking, a couple came and sat down on the bench. We both nodded hi and made small conversation with them, as we always do.

Finally, the woman said, "What is there to do around here?"

Philip and I both looked at each other and kind of shrugged our shoulders.

She replied, "Oh, I guess you're dong it."

(Tomorrow I will tell you what we really do here on the island in the summer!!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rainy day for reading...

Woke up to thunder and lightning this morning, although I had to bike down to the store for milk. We made a deal, Philip would make the bed while I went to get the milk. I will take my chore any day!

Came back and enjoyed homemade bread with fresh blackberry jam made by a woman on the island. (Story to follow!!) Hot coffee and conversation were the mainstays at the breakfast table.

Last night was the birthday potluck for those of us with July birthdays. I, of course, wore my crown, as did several others with a tiara tossed in as well. I made the cake of double chocolate fudge (secret recipe!) topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

I have so much to do today, finish writing our Opry piece, phone calls, column, etc, but I just spent the morning outside on the screened in porch reading and letting the rain pour from the heavens. A perfect morning.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"I'll Tell You How the Sun Rose..."

It is so enchanting to live in a place where one can see the sun rise and sun set over water every day. You can find this on the island of Ocracoke, off the N.C. coast, out to sea.

My day usually begins with a walk on the beach with early morning coffee and camera in hand. This past week the sun has risen between 5:55 and 5:58. On this particular morning the clouds were layered as the sun rose from the darkness of the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It was so lovely I forgot all about the camera, for a bit. Here is the morning sunrise.

I decided during the day that I would watch that beautiful spherical ball of light and heat set over the Pamlico Sound that very night. So, with camera and bike, I was off towards the ferry docks for the evening view. There were so many folks watching on this night. Tourists...locals...everyone in silence as the view of the setting sun took our breath away. So, here is the same sun 12 hours later!

"I'll tell you how the sun rose
A ribbon at a time
The steeple swam in amethyst
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun,
Then I said simple to myself
That must have been the sun."

Emily Dickinson

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This week's column..

Yesterday I talked a little about my new writing studio, by the way, I named it Mad Mag's Studio. Mad Mag is one of the stories on the Ocracoke Island ghost tour...she was one colorful (although disturbed) woman! (Oh, don't get the wrong idea, I may be colorful, but not disturbed.’s-dinner-party-was-a-pure-delight&catid=96:lou-ann-homan-saylor&Itemid=136mn.

Anyway the above link is to the article. I think it is really interesting with a few political references as well and a glimpse into my past dating experiences!


Friday, July 09, 2010

Thunder across the Island...

I have a new office space this summer that Philip built for me. He had the old wash house restored with one side for my writing, photography or just getting away studio. It is wonderful having a place to go that is just mine.

I love writing in this little space, (Photos to follow) it is quaint, small and has a great feng shui. This morning I was finishing up my column as a storm came rolling in over the water. Thunder, lightning and great torrents of rain swept by my windows. It so reminds me of thunder storms on Lake Michigan when we were all kids.

So, in case you wonder where these words of wisdom come from this summer, they are written in a small, restored wash house out to sea.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

4th of July

Dear friends, storytellers, family and dreamers,

I want to share a few words and a few photos with you about the 4th of July on Ocracoke Island.

There was a pale veil of melancholy due to last year's tragedy on the 4th. Each event of the day mentioned the names and we honored them in silence and in our thoughts.

The fanfare might have been dimmed, but the community spirit was not. I think that is what I love most of all about being here, the resilient spirit of the community.

The day was spectacular in weather starting with the flag raising early in the morning with the boy scouts. There was sand sculpting at the beach, a vintage car display, sky-divers and the parade of course.

Our friend, Jim, was here for the weekend and he and Philip worked every day on our float. It was a wonderful satire concerning the closing of the ABC stores in Hyde county due to the embezzlement of $100,000.00. Needless to say, the locals loved the float and it made the tourists wonder.

Philip, Jim and I on our third place float!

The day concluded with a square dance out on the Community Square on the harbor. The parking lots was blocked off as folks gathered to dance the Ocracoke Square Dance called by Philip as music was provided by Molasses Creek. Following an hour of this, Aaron Caswell, of Ocracoke, set up his rock band and they played non-stop until 11:00. The parking lot was full of children, adults, locals, tourists....everyone was there having a wonderful time. We danced under the starry sky until the last song. No one wanted the evening to be over.

Here are a few photos from the day, just a few!

Ed and Susan (Pirate and his lady!)

The Island Queens.

Monday, July 05, 2010

This week's column...

I open up the old screen door on the front porch and take a seat on one of the rockers. My morning view on this July Fourth weekend is that of scented cedar trees, whispering pines, and the scent of salt from the sea. The small lane in front of the cottage is filled with oyster and clamshells. My mom even added to the road when she was here by dumping the clams from last week’s clamming adventure. My mom’s shadow and voice echo around the island for me as she enjoyed each and every adventure including a small wedding in this cottage, watching the full orange moon rise over the sea sitting side by side listening to the waves upon the sand, and meeting island folks. She made friends wherever she went.

With my mom leaving on the 6:00 a.m. ferry, along with my Indiana friends, the past and the present mingle in my imagination as I sit here letting the clouds go by. I think about the Fourth of July in Indiana as a kid. It was/is my favorite holiday (ok, second to Halloween!) The charm of an Indiana Fourth of July was always the same…parades with local bands, churning ice cream on the back porch, grilling chicken, fresh sweet corn (if the weather was just right), family and fireworks.

As a young mom, I made sure the traditions continued taking the kids to the parades, making ice cream out on the farm, picking our own sweet corn and fireworks. There was always Doc Headley with his fire truck and steam engine as well. I did add one tradition that I continued until those boys were raised and moved on, and that was bean hole beans. I read about it in Yankee magazine one year and knew that I had to make them. I am sure they remember this tradition, although probably not fondly. The beans never turned out, but it didn’t dampen my spirits as I continued to make them year after year. The recipe is as follows (from my memory) in case you are curious: Boil one bag of navy beans (preferably on an old cook stove!) the night before and then let sit til morning. Early next morning dig a deep hole by the garden and build a fire down inside the hole. Back in the kitchen mix up the beans in an old cast iron kettle, add an onion, salt and a ham bone (if you have one), water and stir. Make sure the lid is on tightly!

Back at the hole, wait until the coals have charred down into a fire suitable for marshmallows and put in the pot. Cover with dirt (again check that lid!) and let them cook all day. I think I always did something wrong as they were terrible, but my boys ate them anyway!

Ocracoke Island is full of tradition as well. Up until 1957 there was the pony penning every year as young men rode their horses to the north end of the island the night before and, early in the morning of the Fourth, brought the roaming herds into town. Old timers remember the stories of the stallions and their herds thundering into town. Island children sat in cedar and yaupon trees watching. The young horses were then branded and everyone enjoyed the day. There were parades, beauty contests, talent shows down by the harbor, and always a square dance at the old school house. The pony penning ended when the highway was built and the fireworks replaced the square dances. This year there won’t be fireworks due to last year’s tragedy and due to the fragile infrastructure of the island and the old wooden cottages. The boy scouts will still raise the flag at 9:00, and the Methodists will worship at 11 singing patriotic songs. There will be fresh shrimp and parades and a memorial service as well. However instead of fireworks, the square dance will make a comeback at the community square parking lot down by the docks. By the ending light of day and the beginning of night, residents and tourists will gather to dance as they did once upon a time.

I will think of all of you in my hometown celebrating the fourth with the new downtown area, the parade, the fireworks and my family gathered at the gardens of the White Picket Fence. In the meanwhile I will be do-si-doing on my island out to sea.

Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Beautiful day..

I slept with all the windows open last night as the cool breezes from the sound rocked us all gently to sleep.

Today is a perfect day in weather and in activities. I sent my column to press (an hour early!), Philip is working on the float for the parade on Sunday, laundry is hung out dry and company is coming for the week end.

The fireworks have, of course, been canceled because of last year's tragedy and the fragility of the island, but the old time square dance will be brought back as we do-si-do on Sunday night at the Community Squre.

If you are on Ocracoke, come on down to dance or just listen to the music!