Friday, December 22, 2017

Winter on Ocracoke

This story popped up in my dropbox this morning, and I thought you would enjoy reading it...Winter on Ocracoke. Of all the times I spent there, I truly loved winter the most. As always, thank you for reading.

It is winter on Ocracoke. It is my first winter on Ocracoke, and I really didn’t know what to expect. The shops are closed. The tourists are gone. There are no ghost walks or shows in the theatre.  

The truth is, it is perfectly lovely. Somehow the rhythm of the seasons seems balanced here. Of course there is no snow, but the wind sweeping in from the Atlantic is chilly enough for me to wear my winter coat and gloves when walking the winter beach. 
 “What is it like in the winter?”  is the question most tourists ask during the summer months. I always gave an answer, but it was not from my own heart. Now I know. Sit back, watch the snow fall (I do miss that as you know), pour an extra cup of coffee and let your mind wander onto a small island accessible only by ferry during the dark months of the year. 

The ferries from the mainland, known as Swan Quarter and Cedar Island, only run twice a day; 10:00 in the morning and 4:30 in the afternoon. You can’t be late or you run the risk of reading and/or sleeping in your car. The 2 ½ hour ferry ride travels through the Pamlico Sound. Taking the late ferry, you travel in darkness with Orion to guide the way as well as the green and red buoys strategically placed so that there is no chance of being set adrift out into the sea. 

Arriving on Ocracoke in winter is magical. The lanes and streets are quiet and dark as they are void of tourists. Shops are closed. Just a handful of restaurants and ‘motels’ stay afloat as a few duck and geese hunters travel here for their winter catch. 
It sounds a bit like a ghost town, but far from it. There are still 800 folks living here with children attending school. The big difference from summer is that you know everyone now. The sound of carpenters fill the air repairing structures, shop keepers are doing inventory, writers of song and verse are working in their studios, and the normal jobs of a community continue on through the winter months. 

I find myself in a wonderful pattern of life waking with the rising sun. My first thought was to get to the beach every morning to watch the sun come up as I do in the summer months. The truth is, it is chilly here. The Ocockers say it is cold, but I know better.  

Coffee and a fire on the hearth greet me before I head out to the Mad Mag Studio to work in the morning. The trees of cedars, yaupons, and live oaks are still covered with leaves. The pattern of trees and sun dance upon the old floor in this ‘once upon a time washhouse’. 

By early afternoon it is time for the beach walk.  I head out the cottage door with my camera slung across my back. I am often greeted by dancing dolphins and seagulls. Once in a while I come across another walker, but it is rare. It is as if the beach belongs to me…there is just sand and sea. This pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach is a protected sanctuary with picture book beauty.  

There is always a trip to the Community Store as shopping is done daily here. I take my list, but change the menu once I am in the store as I can only cook what is available on the shelves. There is also the daily trip to the post office to get the mail, read the bulletin board and hang out with friends. 

Evenings are for social activities…potluck dinners, listening to our local jazz band at one of the two restaurants open, watching movies with friends or just staying home reading by the fire. There are ball games as well, although the times are early as the visiting and traveling teams must commute by ferry. Sometimes the games are canceled because of high waves or wind.  

There are meetings and book clubs as well. This past week there was a community meeting over ferry tolls and most families had at least one member in attendance. 
The sense of friendship and community is validated in the winter as we chat over tea, over books, over each others cooking. 

As much as I miss family and friends in the Midwest, these dark winter months have embraced me on my island by the sea. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The chill of winter is perfect for certain poetry

The chill of winter is perfect for certain poetry: It is the end of the semester, and time to say farewell to my students. I know I always say this, but this year they were extremely wonderful … friendly, smart, and interesting. We finish our final projects and I tell them to bundle up and meet me in the courtyard behind Taylor Hall. This week has been cold with snow and the beginning of icicles hanging on old buildings and gutters. It is the perfect weather for reading poetry although the students are doubtful. It is not as if it is a surprise; I have told them about this all year so they knew it was coming. “Bundle up,” I say. “Let’s go.” And out we go.





Here is the link to this week's column. As always, thank you for reading and enjoy! Just click on the title or the first line!

Lou Ann

Friday, December 15, 2017

Music is alive, well this holiday season

Music is alive, well this holiday season: Sitting in a shaft of sunlight in Irene’s cafĂ© is a delightful way to spend the morning.

Irene's Cafe or Caleo Cafe is located on Maumee Street in Angola.


Music is definitely in the air here in my hometown. Just spend a bit of time with us...walking around the mound or in our cafes and you will agree. I heard a rumor that a certain someone with a ukulele will be playing at Caleo next Friday at noon. Hope to see you there.

As always thank you for reading. Just click on the title or the first line for this week's column. See you around town.

Lou Ann

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Time sits in a capsule of joy in Waterloo

Time sits in a capsule of joy in Waterloo: I put the kettle on for tea, pack up canned goods, gather together winter paraphernalia and wait for a group of friends to gather at my old house. It is dark and the hour grows late, but we are on a mission to see the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train in Waterloo as it passes by on this night. One by one, they arrive … Kathy, Jan, Judy, and Mary (the bat girls, if you remember!). We all talk at once and head out to the shiny red Jeep. We toss our canned goods in the back and we are off. It is only a 20-minute drive, which is lucky, as they are all back seat drivers. Too much heat, too little heat, watch out for deer (and, yes, there were several on the side of the road), do not go too fast, do not go too slow. I just laugh and drive.


Canadian Pacific Holiday Train  


Or it could be titled, The Night the Train Came Into Town. Here is the column of greeting the beautiful midnight train in Waterloo last week. It was a wonderful experience, and if you weren't there, you can read all about it here!

As always, thank you for reading and enjoy!

Lou Ann

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Love helps put together the Thanksgiving table...

Love helps put together the Thanksgiving table: I love knowing on Thanksgiving morning that I am just one of the thousands of cooks up early baking pies, drinking coffee and thinking about the day along with so many other women (and men).


I do so love baking pies!!  



Here is the link to this week's Thanksgiving column. As I post this today, I am getting ready to put apple pies in the oven and go over my list for tomorrow's dinner. I love Thanksgiving so much. I love folks around the table...family, friends, and those who need a place to be.

This week I looked into the lives of three women that have inspired me in many ways in my life...not just homemaking.

I have included an Irish Blessing which I will be saying at our family dinner. Maybe you will want to read it also at your celebration.

Just click on the title or the first line.
 
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Lou Ann

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Some stories live on forever...

Some stories live on forever: One of these days I am going to board the Amtrak train at Waterloo and head over to North Platte, Nebraska. I have been wanting to do this for a long time.


Union Pacific Railroad 1940's.  

Here is the link to my Veterans Day column. I hope you enjoy it. Please just click on the link of the title. As always, I appreciate you reading. 

There is a great surprise twist at the end...something I wasn't expecting.

Enjoy it here!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lf2cGIRqVo

Thank you to all the Veterans for taking care of us.

Until next time,
Lou Ann

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Home is where we begin our chain of kindness

Home is where we begin our chain of kindness: The walls are still bedecked with spiders and ornaments of Halloween. I never like to take them down or make the change to the next season, at least until I do make the change.

Jacob McNeal reading Shakespeare on the square.   

Here is the link to this week's column. Jacob's family suffered a fire on Halloween night, and we are here to help. There is a gofundme page on Facebook. If you can help, that is great. If you just have a kind word for the family, that is also great.

Just click on the title or the first line for the story. As always thank you for reading and for being part of my life.

Lou Ann

Friday, November 03, 2017

Love of the land still lingers in memories

Love of the land still lingers in memories: My homesteading books still fill an entire shelf in my library. The subjects are varied and all point back to the ’70s in regard to Mother Earth … cooking on a woodstove, raising chickens, building a greenhouse, shearing sheep and the list goes on.

My homesteading books!


Here is the link to last week's column...the first frost on the farm. I really hope you enjoy it and that it stirs up some of your own memories. As always, thank you for reading. Just click on the first line or the title.

Happy Harvesting!

Lou Ann 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stay tuned; Frankenfest is coming some day

Stay tuned; Frankenfest is coming some day: Mary Shelley and “Frankenstein” appear to be the only words spoken in my red Jeep as Carolyn and I cruise down the highway. With dark fingernail polish, black dresses, and even black (so the package said) lipstick, we chat non-stop about the day ahead of us!

Carolyn and I are getting ready for Frankenfest! Note the fingernail polish.


 Here is the link to my Frankenfest column. Carolyn and I had the very best time and hope to bring a Frankenfest to our part of the state!


The laboratory is exactly as they left it in 1968.

I was so fortunate to be one of the readers!


 I hope you enjoy this column as much as I enjoyed the event and writing it. As always thank you for reading and wishing you a great Halloween season!

Lou Annn

How would you like to get your medication here?
 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

October brings us many wonderful things...

October brings us many wonderful things: Time is marked by the sliding into October with chrysanthemums blooming, pumpkins ripening and the wind whistling down the chimney. Ah … how lovely.

Full Harvest Moon compliments EarthSky.org.


Tomorrow night is the full Harvest Moon. Here is the link to this week's column which explains the other names and a "mark your calendar" event for the Minstrel Show!

As always, thank you for reading. Just click on the link! Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Thank goodness for the Book Fairy...

Thank goodness for the Book Fairy: My bookshelves host an array of books. It is a colorful collection from poetry to history, from childhood books to the one I bought last week. And even though it seems a bit topsy-turvy, I know where to locate each book.
 
 
Shhh....the book fairy has been here!
 
 
Today is National Hide a Book Day by the Book Fairy. I have been busy this morning putting my books in lovely locations in my community. There is a little fairy dust around each book. What a fun day is this!!
 
 
Here is the link to this week's column telling you all about it! It is not too late for YOU to be a book fairy also!
 
As always, thank you for reading and good luck in finding these books!
 
Lou Ann

Friday, August 25, 2017

Forever … when today is a long time ago

Forever … when today is a long time ago: “You are walking in her watercolor painting. You, trees, birds, meadows, wetlands, fens, log buildings, a garter snake so old it’s black. You are a part of her aesthetic, this beauty, her final creative work.”

Helene Swenson's Art Studio

Jason Kissel and Kevin McKelvey         .


Writing about Forever.

Here is the link to last week's column. It was a wonderful party at Wing Haven. Hopefully our poetry will last 200 years.

As always, thank you for reading. Just click on the title or the first line!

Lou Ann

Friday, August 11, 2017

Taking a step back in time

Taking a step back in time: I check the back ribbon of my Minnie Pearl straw hat before leaving the house. I gingerly step into Kathy’s car ducking my head wondering how did women drive with these hats? (Perhaps they didn’t?) I notice we are both wearing summer cotton dresses and sandals. This is not an ordinary outing for a Sunday afternoon. No, we are headed to the Collins Schoolhouse to participate in the fifth annual Ice Cream Social.

The ice cream social at the Collins Schoolhouse.

Could that still be June's hand writing?



Here is the link to this week's column. It was such a lovely day to spend at the Collins Schoolhouse. Maybe you will get to go next year. As always thank you for reading! Lou Ann


One can only imagine what was inside those lunch pails!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

July is fitting for traveling dusty Indiana roads

July is fitting for traveling dusty Indiana roads: July finds me crisscrossing Indiana with stories in my pocket and my GPS on the front seat next to me. With one click I can change the course of my driving from super highway to back roads and so why not? I decide to give way to time and enjoy the journey.


Queen Anne's Lace
Here is the link from last week's column. As always, thank you for reading and make sure you take time to explore the back roads before summer is over!

Lou Ann

Monday, July 24, 2017

A golden week of transforming students into actors...

A golden week of transforming students into actors: Monday morning. There are 15 eager students sitting on the floor around me each with a nametag and each wearing a sailor’s cap. They range from 10 to 14 years of age including 13 girls and two boys. My job is simple, really. My job is to transform these students into actors and actresses by Thursday noon. No big deal. I have done it before, but sometimes I worry the magic will go missing and the show will not come and there will be no show.


My students in Drama Camp!!


 Here is the link to this week's column. We had a great time in Drama Camp as you will see from the column. The students were spectacular. As always, thank you so much for reading! Just click on the above link!

Lou Ann


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Hendrys are here in Angola

The Hendrys are here in Angola: The note came in the middle of January. At first I thought it was a scam email offering me a million dollars if I were to send out my social security number and my bank routing information. The subject line was in large print: MEREDITH.


Here we are celebrating at the Deli! From left to right: me, Claudia, Peg, Yvonne and Meredith.


The Hendry family in front of Hendry Park Elementary School.

Here is the link to this week's column. What fun we had when the Hendrys came to visit! Enjoy, and thank you for reading. Please just click on the top line and you will get the whole story.

Lou Ann

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Life is good in our small town

Life is good in our small town: You know you live in a small town when the headline news is about the hedgehog stolen from the Carnegie Library. You know you live in a small town when the dinner table talk is about the hedgehog stolen from the Carnegie Library. And you know you live in a small town when everyone at the breakfast table cheers because the hedgehog has been returned.


Jonah's friend, David, took this photo the night before the family left. Adam and Tara are missing from the photo; hopefully we will all get to spend time together soon.





We all know that stories come and go; books begin and end; family celebrations also come to a close. I was able to spend an entire month with my Phoenix family. I call it Full Moon to Full Moon. This photo was taken before our last family dinner. Lucky for me Aaron and his family live here. So, cheers to a wonderful month of stories and memories...

As always, thank you for reading. Just click on the title or the first line. Thanks also to KPC for always printing my column on Saturday!

Lou Ann

Monday, July 03, 2017

Ukelele comforts travelers on momentous trip to beach

Ukelele comforts travelers on momentous trip to beach: The waves wash over me like a song or a dance. The sun fades and I sit inside of that time … the time that belongs to poets or storytellers or musicians of the world. It isn’t light. It isn’t dark. And the day light fades to night shadows. I rise up from the beach with my camera, make my way back to the old beach bicycle and bike back up to the cottage.

This photo was taken on our last night!    


 We had a fabulous trip, and here is the column to prove it! Just click on the above link in the title or the first line, and there is the story.

As always thank you for reading and enjoy!

Lou Ann 

Friday, June 30, 2017

The garden is blessed and the fairies will play

The garden is blessed and the fairies will play: It is midnight. My house is quiet except for the sound of the ceiling fans in the bedrooms of all my sleeping family. The neighborhood is so peaceful even with the occasional barking dog here or there and the sounds of night, which I love. My campfire has fallen to glowing embers, and with its protective screen, I can leave it as hearth and bed lure one and all back inside. Yes, tonight ends the Solstice, one of the most magical days and nights of the year.





Fairies will be abundant in my garden this summer thanks to the Solstice Princess. It was a wonderful celebration. Enjoy this column and as always, thank you for reading. Just click on the title or the first line and there is the story!

Lou Ann 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The gifts were usually simple...

The gifts were usually simple: The gifts were usually simple. The six of us pooled our money together and walked down to the local drug store to see what we could find for Father’s Day. Once we bought a card that cost a whole dollar. We argued over that one. And once we bought a shaving mug with a brush. Everyone agreed on that one, and we just couldn’t wait until Sunday morning to give it to our dad. Sometimes, and more than once, we spent the money on cherry Cokes and ended up with homemade cards. We always felt bad afterward, but we loved sitting on those stools drinking those Cokes in the summer.

My dad loved all theatre shows. Here we are singing with "Mama Mia!".

Here is the link to my Father's Day column...one day late! I had a wonderful day celebrating with two of my sons who are wonderful fathers so this was postponed a day! 

Just click on the above link, and as always, thank you for reading!

Lou Ann

Friday, June 16, 2017

Invader evades the bat patrol at the house with a picket fence

Invader evades the bat patrol at the house with a picket fence: I tiptoe downstairs and find my guests sleeping on my living room floor. I stop on the stairs and wonder why they are not tucked away in the bridal suite where they are supposed to be sleeping. They hear me on the stairs and sit up and stare at me bleary eyed. David, the husband, looks at me through bloodshot eyes and says, “There was a bat.”


Here is the photo of the bat patrol team!

Here is the link to last week's column. Just click on the title or the first line and you will find it on the KPC website! 

As for the bat...nope, naddy, zip.

As always, thank you for reading!

Friday, June 09, 2017

You can never have enough tucking in at night

You can never have enough tucking in at night: Jonah is mine for the night, and nothing could make me happier. I love that he can walk home from school to my house. I have the usual after school snacks ready … pretzels, apples, Route 66 Orange Pop!


Jonah and Graham in last year's cornfield!



Here is the link to last week's column. As always, it was written with much love. Just click on the above link, and as always, thank you for reading!
Lou Ann

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Adventures always find a way to the door step

Adventures always find a way to the door step: With warm days and cool nights upon us, my phone starts lighting up with bicyclists requesting a night’s provisions. I joined Warmshowers.com a few years ago and have become a popular host because of my location. Folks traveling across the U.S. on bicycles know that hosts provide a safe clean bed and always a warm shower. There is no exchange of money with hosting, just good will!


Jenny signed the wall before they left the next morning.

Here is the link to this week's column. It was a great adventure just sharing an evening on my front porch! Just click on the above link and there it is! Enjoy, and thank you for reading! Lou Ann


 
Jenny and Neil on my front porch!