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!