Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Recording on the Sea...

Gary Mitchel finishing up my Carl Sandburg CD!!

The day started out like all others...go to breakfast with friends (Gary and Kitty Mitchell), finish up a recording at a local island studio (Gary and Kitty Mitchell), dropping off the finished CD at, well, you guessed it the house of Gary and Kitty Mitchell.

Gary has a small studio in his cottage by the sea. The windows are large and plentiful and so open to the sea it seems as if we are actually riding the waves. I love going to Gary and Kitty's house as it is eclectic with, well, everything. Gary is a musician and song writer and a founding member of Molasses Creek, a local folk band here. Kitty is the island art teacher and an artist herself. Their cottage looks like it belongs to artists!

While Gary works at making my Carl Sandburg recording a delightful and beautiful piece of recorded art, I look around. I am not really nosy, just curious. The cottage is full of art, photographs, pottery, books to be read, books already read, boxes of tea, coffee, thumbnail sketches, old and new programs for Molasses Creek, dishes, a box of bows and ribbons.

I want to settle right into this warm cozy house on this rainy day to read my book or just dream away the afternoon.

All too soon, Gary is making the final CD for me to take back to Philip's to listen to, approve and then get the sales coming in. This CD should be available in a month or so along with two others! This will be a good year for work! I have taken this great picture of Gary so that you will have a glimpse of him and his work on this island of Ocracoke. So, if you are thinking of recording a CD, give Gary a call.

Lou Ann

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas on an Island

Christmas day dawned cool with the wind whistling through the pines. We put on the early morning fire, lit the candles, and settled down to hot coffee and homemade bread before traveling fifty yards to Amy and David's house for gifts. Lachlan, being only four, was the shining star of the day. Christmas definitely is for children. The adults mostly ate our way through the day...ham and sweet potato pie, broccoli salad, apple salad, pies, cookies, and a case of red wine.

After dinner, we snacked again and played games late into the evening. Philip and I walked home to our sweet, quiet cottage. The electric candles were lit in all the windows, and the Christmas tree fragrant and lovely in the corner. We decided to watch "It's a wonderful Life," as Philip had never seen the movie. I couldn't believe it. I do not know how many times I have seen it, but always it is wonderful. It is indeed a wonderful life.

Love to all and Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Travel

So, we left Indiana between blizzards and storms. The window of traveling opportunity was small, but by 9:00 on Sunday morning we were ready and took to the roads. I took the photo on the way. The interstate was still just one lane, and that one lane was bumpy with ice. I was amazed at all the beauty as we traveled and destruction as well as trees were snapping off like toothpicks along with power lines!

It was one degree when we left and we drove through Ohio and West Virginia. We stayed in West Virginia and when we left there on Monday, it was only 3 degrees!

The Island is not warm, but not cold either. It is nice to visit with Philip's family and friends. We set up another Christmas tree, this one was free from the Variety Store! Philip found lights and ornaments so we were able to make it cheery! He has a nice gas log stove which definitely adds to the atmosphere of Christmas. So with wrapped gifts and Island fruitcake, we are ready for an Ocracoke Christmas.

Tonight is the Island pageant...complete with a live Baby Jesus, so I understand. Dinner will be at Philip's for everyone and then off to the pageant. We will walk the lanes to the church and back again in the Holy darkness on this Christmas Eve.

Lou Ann

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No School and Gypsy Soup!!!

We were all hoping it would happen. We slept with curtains open and ears tuned in to the ice pelting the doors and windows. By morning, we were welcomed into a world of snow and ice. Teachers and students alike cheered, however, for others it was treacherous travel. Many folks are still without power.
As for me, I made a pot of soup, cleaned house and ended the evening with Scrabble. All in all, it was a good day.
Here is my favorite soup recipe for a cold winter's day:
Gypsy Soup
2 T. olive oil
2 lg. onions, chopped
2 lg. cloes garlic, chopped
1/2 c. chopped celery
2 c. peeled, chopped sweet potatoes
Saute these together, then add:
3 c. broth...any kind
1 bay leaf
2 t. paprika
1 t. turmeric
1 t. dried basil
Salt..if needed
Dash cinnamon
Dash cayenne
Simmer for as long as you want!
1 c. fresh tomatoes or 1 28 ounce can chopped or diced tomatoes
1 can chick peas
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
Simmer again.
Notes: If company is coming or shows up (as did at my house last night!) Add whatever is in your cupboard..canned green beans, more chick peas, and more spices.
Great served with cornbread and real maple syrup!
Lou Ann
Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer and actress from Angola, Indiana. When she is not meandering around, she can be found writing late into the night or the early morning under the light of her red frayed lamp.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Swirling Snow

Tonight my town is a winter fairy land. The snow began around 4:00 in the afternoon as I joined friends at the coffee shop for a theatre meeting. We drank lattes, talked theatre, and watched the snow tumble down like an old woman shaking her feather bed. With plans and lists tucked into our satchels, we said good bye and scurried out to cars which were covered with snow. I drove home gingerly through the early evening twilight and came home to steaming hot tea water and Philip. He is here visiting for a few days from Ocracoke. We decided that the leftovers could keep so we walked back down into the town for supper at the Pizza Forum.

We took a table by the window so we could watch the plows go by. All too soon dinner was over and we bundled back up to walk home. The wind was strong, but I couldn't help but stand and enjoy the beauty of the town. All the windows are trimmed for Christmas and the mound is string with lights from top to bottom...Christmas carols serenade the walkers and shoppers alike. It was a surreal scene with the swirling snow. It could easily have been a scene from the 1950's. We braced ourselves for the walk home and directly into the falling snow.

It is a perfect evening.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Community Concert

Last night the town of Angola was treated to a Community Concert by the Auburn Community Band. It was a cold, clear night with an almost full moon as I made the trek down to the Community Center after dark. Fred Wooley was there to greet folks and to talk about the homeless shelter in town.

It was a wonderful concert performed by a band with folks of all ages. I was impressed with each rendition of Christmas carols, but especially with the age old song of Sleigh Ride!

By the time I left, it was windy and cold and the moon had slid away behind the night winter sky.

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer and a dreamer of dreams. When she is not out meandering in Northern Indiana, she is writing late into the night under the light of her scarlet fringed lamp.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

So many stories...

It seems as if the beginning of winter has brought so many events and stories. Trying to keep the blog up and live the stories all at the same time is the difficulty!

This morning the roads are covered with snow and ice with two hour delays all across northern Indiana. It is the also the morning that Abe and Kristin and Blue Moon Baby, Holly, will be leaving. It has been a wonderful visit...the house will be quiet when they leave.

Last night was our Monday night girl's pot luck. Kristin and Holly were able to attend; it was their first! Holly definitely behaved as if she enjoyed all the woman and the conversation!

I'll add a photo later. Until then, stay safe and stay warm!

Lou Ann

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Quietness

It is Monday morning after Thanksgiving. Quiet. Sweet. Clean. (ah, probably not!) The house has been fun, every bed occupied and so many trips to the grocery and vacuuming detail that I could not possibly count all of it!

All the boys, wives, children have been (are still) here from Oregon to Florida and, of course, Aaron and Karen. Philip arrived on Tuesday night to celebrate the holiday with this boisterous family as well as my international student, Mengting, from China.

We put all the leaves in the table and enjoyed meal after meal together. We went out to the Christmas tree farm and cut down our trees together as well. Philip and I were in the old fashioned Christmas parade in Hamilton on Saturday night as well. (Article and picture to follow!)

Abe and Kristin and baby Holly are still here on this foggy, snowy morning and I am just enjoying a bit of the early morning peace and quiet before I go back to school to spend the next three weeks with children too antsy to be in school!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

International Week and the first snowfall...

When I took Mengting home on Sunday night, it was snowing hard. Mengting comes from southwest China where they do not have fall nor winter...perhaps a little like Camelot, I think. She was enamored with the snow and asked me if this was the BIG one. I had to laugh as it was such a small snowfall. I did tell her it was time to get her boots!

This week is international week at the University and I have been able to host students all week at school. My room is the perfect location and atmosphere to host students from around the world. We have enjoyed dances from Saipan, photos from China, games from Argentina. The elementary students have been wonderfully respectful and have asked the best questions. I feel honored that I was chosen to host these students.

The evenings have been spent at the University as well with lectures on diversity and late night card games. It is fun to know that such lively young people live just blocks away!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Emporium Embezzlement!!

Closing night at our show...what a great time was had by all the cast and crew! We had a full house and sold out crowds!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ghost Stories in Steuben County


This is the week end that we wait for all year...the week end before Halloween. Everyone is ready...the houses are all decked out with pumpkins, orange lights, dangling ghosts and skeletons. My house is no exception as orange lights adorn my trellises and staircases.

The weather is co-operating as well with temperatures in the low 40's and a cold rain. (At least trick or treating is next week and maybe the rain will stop!)

Tonight Fremont Library hosts the annual spook house for young children. We will be set up in the library due to the weather, but ghosts and haints will haunt the stacks as children clothed in their costumes will roam about. I will be telling stories there as well...keep in mind for young children!

Tomorrow night is the annual Storytelling at Pokagon State Park. My friend, Steve Etheridge, and I will be sharing our ghostly tales in front of the fire place in the pavilion at Pokagon. This event is sponsored by the park and by the Potawatomi Inn! You will want to dress warmly as the cold and rain do tend to seep into the pavilion. Fred Wooley and Aaron (my naturalist son, Aaron) will have the pavilion adorned with carved pumpkins and a roaring fire will be placed on the hearth. Occasionally a bat or black cat will fly or stroll through adding to the atmosphere!

The children's show is at 6:30 and stories for adults ONLY begins at 8:00. Come early to get seats, however!! Please come on up and say hello to Steve and myself. We love visiting with you.

Until then,

Happy Haunting. Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found
writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

White Picket Gardens

My white picket gardens have become a symbol of my gardening, my writing, my who-am-I status in my small town and beyond.

However, my lovely old picket fence has been in great need of painting. Let me also make it clear that there are lots of picket fences in my garden...they are around my raspberry patch, my vegetable garden, they combine with trellises for morning glories and honeysuckle. Brides have blushed under these trellises...folks have told stories and spent evenings sitting out by the fire enclosed inside the picket fence. Jonah and Matthew play inside the garden as well as all the children in the neighborhood...so, it came down to the last moment when they just had to be painted.

I tried to get other folks to paint for me...you know Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn stuff, but no luck. So, I decided this Autumn to just do it myself. Today I finished the outside perimeter as my neighbors cheered me on down to the last fence post. The sun was going down and I was freezing cold but I prevailed...a cheer went up in the neighborhood as I put down my brush!

Now all I have to do is the inside of the fence which probably won't happen until spring because of all the plants and such.

I actually found it very pleasurable to paint my fence, my mind could just roam about and dream as I painted picket after picket after picket.......

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Passing the time with stories

So, for a week I have been traveling...telling stories...at schools, at the Storytelling Arts Festival in Indianapolis. I love this job that I have...this role of storyteller that I have nitched out for myself.

On Saturday four of my school students came to perform as well. It was exciting for me to show them around and brag a bit. It was something like show and tell! I was able to emcee their show and watch them work in this surrounding of stage and theatre. They were thrilled. I do think a star or two was born.

I came home to a lovely baby shower for a friend given by Tonya. So, she made another trip up north to share her talents with her friends and family.

It has been good to share conversations on the old front porch watching the full moon rise and telling stories.

I guess that really is the role I play in all of my life...storyteller, and I am happy for this role.

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Autumn Campfire

It was the perfect night after a day of yard work and painting. Late in the afternoon Karen and I decided we should have a lovely bonfire to end the work day and invited all the neighbors over. It was an easy thing to do as everyone was out mowing or raking or painting or just sighing over the spectacular Autumn day.

By 7:30 neighbors began arriving with lawn chairs...there were children and dogs and many stories to tell as we gathered around the fire making our circle larger as more folks arrived. My student from Trine Unviversity arrived as well. I am her host family for the year and this was her first outing. Mengting is from Mainland China in a small village where it is always spring. I believe she is in for a big surprise. It was her first experience with a campfire, marshmallows and s'mores.

The children drank hot chocolate while Blue Moon beer was passed out among the grown ups. No one wanted to leave the lovely hot ember coals, but close to 11, everyone was growing sleepy and it was time to say good night. It is lovely to have neighbors visit. Everyone left through the garden gates carrying their chairs and their children. I sat outside for a while watching stars and sparks dance into the ebony night.

As I cleaned up the yard and poked at the coals, I knew it had been a lovely golden night. As Henry Glassie once wrote, "It was enough so that in the morrow we can nod and say it was a good night."

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Frosty Night

Last night was the first frost in northern Indiana. There frost warnings blared on the radio from the weather forecaster, but I think I knew it to be true beforehand.

There is a certain kind of feel in the air when the frost is imminent. I had spent the day mowing and raking and pruning and weeding with a sweat shirt and jeans as it was cool. But the sky was azure blue and the crows were cawing the frost warning. The neighbor girls came and picked the last of the red raspberries out of the patch for their early morning breakfast today. I covered what was left of my garden, the last tomatoes and squash to keep them going for a while longer.

This morning when I went walking, the barest glimmer of frost was on roof tops and the Commons outside of town. I am sure the countryside was of great beauty and that the lakes were steaming.

I have been reading James Whitcomb Riley to my kids at school this week, When the Frost is on the Pumpkins. I can only hope they all woke up this morning thinking about the poem!

A lovely day before me...for painting, for gardening, for visiting the farmer's market and for cooking hot dogs outside tonight on the fire. Come to think of it, I might just make an apple pie as well!! Autumn is definitely here.

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall Fest in my Home Town

It was the once a year event in Angola, Indiana where the streets are blocked off and folks meander through town walking or on bikes as we celebrate the coming of Autumn.

There were two stages this year...the Main stage and the children's stage as well as roving artists.

I was up early on Saturday to participate in the 5K run...although I walked the run. It was beautiful with a hint of fall in the air as we walked around town early in the morning. By the time the awards were given, the sun was high and the chill was off and folks were perusing the crafts booths and the music was starting.

I looked at the old quilts at the church as the sun slanted in through the stained glass windows, bought homemade candles, listened to music, visited with friends and told stories on the new children's stage. It was great to have friends and neighbors come to my performance!

The day ended with a hoe down at Pokagon State Park. I have been attending this hoe down for at least 25 years! Prairie Fire String Band provided the music as we dance squares and rounds until late in the evening. The parking lot was full of dancers and lookers as some sat in chairs in enjoyed the music from the sidelines. The boy scouts sold coffee and cider and hot dogs to keep us going through the night. The sky was full of stars and the bonfire was enough to keep the chill away.

Today was more of the same music and crafts. I was downtown at 6 when the tearing down began...always sad to have another festival over, but it was a perfect week end.

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Johnny Appleseed Festival, 2008

It was a great week end at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We had two absolutely gorgeous days with highs in the 70's and a slight breeze to keep away all the yellow jackets!

The food was phenomenal from apple dumplings to corn fritters...with everything in between. All the crafts were exceptional and built using the tools of the 1770's. Canons, fife and drum participants, cloggers, dulcimer players and bagpipers were around every bend in the old road.

And, of course, there was storytelling. I had full crowds for my shows and loved sharing my homespun tales. The highlight is always Johnny Appleseed, aka, my friend, Scott Mertz!

By the end of the week end, my shoes were covered with dust and straw was still clinging to the back of my old dress, but oh, Indiana in the Autumn is like no other place!

Lou Ann

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Signing and Poet Laureate....

I love book signings. OK, I really only have one book, and I share it with other storytellers, but still...

Last week end was spent at a festival in Indianapolis where I was proud and happy to spend the day signing away my book. I have to admit that I wasn't real busy, but I wrote such long narratives in the front that it seemed as if I always had someone!

Sharing my table for the afternoon was the Poet Laureate of Indiana. Norbert Krapf. I was, of course, thrilled to be sharing time with him. We chatted about our work. He is a native of Indiana, moved away for a while and now is back writing full time. Within a few short hours, I decided that I wanted to be poet laureate as well. I do believe it takes more than wishing, however.

I bought one of his books, The Country I Came From, and read it cover to cover when I got home. I loved it. I have already shared it with my students, my friends, my book club members and have corresponded with Norbert hoping that some of his brilliance may rub off on me.

The book is a treasure as are all the others.

Here is a short excerpt from the book:

Queen Anne's Lace

Against a galaxy
of dark greens

this constellation
of whites

within which
tiny stars

pulse the color
of an old

rusty fence
beside which

we stand
and gaze.

Norbert's books and mine are available through the Indiana History Center.

Or you can buy Scenic Routes direct from me. I can guarantee you will love them all.

Lou Ann

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Strand Theatre

Last night I went walking at Dusk. My favorite time. The full moon was rising and I decided to go towards the town as opposed to walking by the University. The two small theatres were lit up with their marquee's and there were a few folks strolling in town. I stopped in at The Strand Theatre to check on the time of the movie, The Women, as several of us are going tonight. The ownerr was there, as he always is, and we started talking about the town politics. I felt like a politician as well as a writer as I listened to his complaints and thoughts. I was in tears at one point thinking about the possibilities. The County Council Members walked by as we were talking.

As for my articles? He loves them, but they aren't enough, he said, they aren't enough.

So how do we save small towns in Indiana? I like to think my weekly column makes a bit of a difference, but maybe he is right. Maybe it is not enough.

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red fringed lamp in Angola, Indiana.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurrican Ike and Rain in Indiana

My family is in the midst of Hurricane Ike with my parents an hour north of Houston and Leslie and Jack, brother and sister, in Houston. I can't even begin to know where the clean up should begin as I have been watching the news, as I am sure you have as well. Mom and Dad are without electricity, and I wish they would come north to Indiana. They could have stay in my lovely old house or in Fort Wayne with my sister, even if she is in Greece!!

We had six inches of rain ourselves and the above is a lull in the rain as Jonah and Matthew were out with their umbrellas! They did, indeed, find every puddle!!

I can only send thoughts of recovery and patience to my family and others who will have weeks of work ahead of them.

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red scarlet lamp in Indiana or in the wee small cottage on Ocracoke Island.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Adam and Tonya

The past five days have been filled with family, friends and a bursting house. Adam and Tonya flew up for a five day week end from St. Petersburg to enjoy Indiana in the late summer. They were not disappointed with the warm days and cool nights...nights cool enough to toss on a quilt or two.

I am always so happy to have my children sleeping under my roof. I love hearing their voices and just spending time with them. Aaron and Karen and the boys spent time here with meals as well.

Tonya and I spent time choosing house colors for the old house restoration and colors for the inside as well. Adam and I set up a movie screen for my out door movie theatre which began last Saturday evening with all the children in the neighborhood! We sat out under the stars eating popcorn and watching an old Don Knotts movie. Neighbors kept strolling over to enjoy the movie as well. I think it will become a regular here in the neighborhood.

So, tonight it is quiet with house chores and my column to keep me occupied.

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red scarlet lamp in Indiana or in the wee small cottage on Ocracoke Island.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pop's Weiner Shop and Wax Lips

On Friday afternoon Jonah and I took a field trip down into our small town...it was fun to be back visiting the shops and my friends after my summer on the Island.

We had 'coffee' at Rachael's, bought candles at Tracy's, and just strolled the walks visiting. We were, of course, curious about the new shop, Pop's Weiner Stand. The store is just wonderful. We strolled in and enjoyed all the art work from the 50's including Betty Boop and 57 Chevy's! The floor is a great linoleum from the 50's as well with black and white checks. We sat on the stools and swirled around while visiting with Greg, the new shop keeper.

We ordered coney dogs and Orange crush off the menu! It was a great lunch and very inexpensive. After lunch Jonah used his pocket money to buy penny candy, that is now a nickel, and I bought the red wax lips. I had to lift him up to the mirror so he could see how he looked!

We bid farewell to Greg and visited several other shops in which Jonah would not take off the lips! He was the town entertainer for the afternoon. By the time we got home, they were soggy and he just chewed them up!

Lou Ann Homan

Lou Ann Homan is a storyteller, teacher, writer, and dreamer of dreams. She can be found writing late into the night under the light of her red scarlet lamp in Indiana or in the wee small cottage on Ocracoke Island.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Friday night at 5:00, I drove to spend the week end in Indianapolis with Ellen and a few other friends to attend the Fringe Festival.

I was not disappointed.

We started out Friday night watching All About Eve, an old black and white movie (filmed sometime in the 50's). We sat outside on the canal in downtown Indy with a large screen on the lawn. We drank wine, ate popcorn, and spent a lovely evening watching a movie and the sky grow dark with evening stars.

By Saturday morning, Ellen and I were downtown for a fairy tale workshop and perusing the schedule for the Fringe Festival. We parked the car for the day, and walked up and down Massachusetts Avenue watching shows, having lunch (and dinner as well.) We were still enjoying the evening and attended the 10:30 show by storyteller friends of ours from Minneapolis. It was a great way to end the evening, although we did find a late night bar to rehash the show and more stories..always stories.

Sunday we were back at the Fringe and enjoying all of the events.

I drove back late Sunday afternoon and was greeted by a bat which had just been waiting for me!

If you get the chance, the fringe is still going on through Sunday...maybe next year I will have my own show there!

Lou Ann Homan

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

This week end was just wonderful as my sisters and brothers surprised our parents with our visits and with a lovely anniversary party! The airport was busy with our arrivals and it was so fun to watch Mom and Dad's reactions as we one by one settled into their Texan home!
The party was full of friends and laughter, and we ended this week end with tears and airport runs. It is difficult to have families spread all over the globe, but when we are together, time stands still. My Dad summed it up beautifully when he came into the kitchen on Sunday morning. He said, "How wonderful to wake up to hear my daughters laughing in the kitchen."

Getting ready to say good bye!

Just like it was 60 years ago!

The food and cake were delicious!

Three proud and happy daughters!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Adam and Aaron...

Today is the birthday of my twin sons.

I cannot believe they are grown up and well, kind of old! I so remember the day they were born, every moment of that day that they were born. First of all, I didn't know twins were coming, or should I say no one else believed me, I knew it all along! Didn't know they were boys either!

It was the happiest day of my entire life with only the birth of Abe to match it. I loved those days. I look back over their childhood as my happiest, sweetest days. There are times I would like to go back and visit those days...to read to them, watch the stars come out with them, tuck them in at night. Life is so short..enjoy each moment.

Happy Birthday my sons!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Parkway, going out of my way to enjoy this absolutely breathtaking ride. At one point I stopped, pulled out my guitar and played Country Roads by John Denver. I have always wanted to do that!!

I drove into Gatlinburg and found my way to the cabin that I shared with four other storytelling buddies. The cabin had a wonderful huge screened in porch that became the late night storytelling location. Our conversation was accompanied each evening by the late night frogs that sang in great harmony!

The workshop went well, three hours goes by quickly when you have a lot to say, and I did!!

We said our good byes late Saturday night, as I was up before sunrise on Sunday making my journey back to Indiana. It was beautiful watching the sun rise in the mountains as I drove North. The day was spectacular with cool weather and bright blue skies.

I arrived home by 5:30 to the waiting arms of Matthew and Jonah. I was so happy to see them. Karen had dinner waiting..fresh blueberry pie, homemade mashed potatoes, chicken on the grill..it was so delicious.

Have finished the clothes part of unpacking, I think the other 'stuff' will take longer.

The trees are green and refreshing after sand and salt. It will take a while, but I will soon become a Hoosier once again.

Lou Ann

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I left Philip at 6 a.m. yesterday morning. My car was/is packed to the brim with summer clothes, my guitar, books, camera, laptop...salt, sand, memories. Philip had also put a pink rose (from his birthday bouquet) into a jar and placed it in the cup holder. It was all I could do to pull away and leave him standing in the early morning mist.

The good news is that the Jeep is actually running after it's long hiatus. The bad news? It sat all summer under a shady tree and the branches were stuck in my windows and the cascading oleander flowers left imprints all over the car. Not really a big deal, the Jeep is old. I really meant to fix the air conditioning, but somehow between all the activities and love of the summer, I just didn't do it. (Yesterday central North Carolina broke the heat record!!)

I read across on the almost three hour ferry ride, then drove through small towns and farmland until I hit the main highway. It was an easy drive, but stopped just short of Asheville for the night. I found a lovely Holiday Inn in Hickory, North Carolina complete with an attached YMCA. I did work out and then had dinner. I made sure I was busy so I wouldn't dwell all night on the fact that I wasn't taking tickets or working in the Opry wuth Philip. We always do our radio show on Wednesday evening!

Today my drive takes me through the Blue Ridge Parkway and then to Gatlinburg. Ellen and I are presenting our standards workshop at the National Storytelling Conference. We should have a lot of fun sharing our work (from two years ago!) with teachers from all over. We have a cabin in the mountains, and the weather sounds delightful there! I will cherish some cool air after a hot summer!

So, I am a long way from home, wherever that is...Indiana...Ocracoke...sigh.

There is always something to miss.

Love to all,
Lou Ann

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Going Home...

It doesn't seem possible that my summer visit at Ocracoke is over. It seems as if I just got here and had all these lovely sun drenched days ahead of me. But my Jeep is packed and I have been saying good bye even though I have been trying to lead a normal life with regular activities this past week.

The Women's Opry show was a huge success on Saturday night with a sold out house. The women were phenomenal and I will never forget the magic of that evening.

It was also Philip and Lachlan's birthday and a visit from Uncle Buddy.

The days just fill up here with events.

It has been wonderful golden summer. I know that it will be so difficult to pull onto that ferry early in the morning. I will miss Philip so much, I can't imagine living without him in the next few months.

My travels will be taking me to Gatlinburg and then on home to Indiana. So, farewell for now...

Lou ann

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 up..it 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 beach...it 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. Well...it 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: http://hamptonroads.com/node/119071

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: Villagecraftsmen.com

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

Lou Ann

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Surprise Party!

This summer Philip is, shall I say, semi-retired. In that I mean he has hired a manger to run the business so that he can have some time off. Jude has worked for Philip for years and she is the perfect one to make decisions and keep the Village Craftsmen running smoothly.

I commented to Philip the other day that he never did have a retirement party, or a gold watch. (Even though I did buy him an old pocket watch years ago for Christmas!)
So, my friend Katy and I decided to plan a surprise retirement party. Oh, it was nothing like what is given in corporations or schools for that matter, it was Ocracoke style.

Katy and John had just moved into their new cottage on the island so it was the perfect excuse to plan an open house pot luck, that is just the way it is done here!

We had a great time keeping this secret and by the time we walked into Katy's last night, you could tell he was definitely surprised. There were flowers and balloons and even a banner. I think Philip was a bit overwhelmed by this party with his island friends. There were a few toasts, plenty of wine and beer and the food was fabulous!

Some of us stayed late to just talk and tell stories. It was inky dark by the time we left. Philip had the bouquet of balloons in one hand and steering his bike with the other.

Happy Semi-Retirement Philip!

Lou Ann

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Remembering Tasha Tudor

"Award-winning author and illustrator Tasha Tudor died yesterday (June 18, 2008) at the age of 92 at her home in Marlboro, Vermont. On her farm, she lived an 1830s life of self-sufficiency. Tasha Tudor’s close to 100 books included Mother Goose, a Caldecott Honor Book in 1945, and 1 Is One, a Caldecott Honor Book in 1957. Her family has created an online memorial page that will remain online until July 1, 2009Plans are underway for a Tasha Tudor Museum"

Years ago we bought a small golden retriever puppy. She was the runt of the litter, small, golden and full of life for my three boys. She came with papers and her legal name was Pumpkin Moonshine from a book by Tasha Tudor. She grew up to be in love with the boys, but I think Aaron loved her most of all. They hunted together, fished together, even played baseball together. I loved having another 'female' in the house!

When the boys all went off to college she wept for them in the saddest, sweetest way. It broke my heart. She knew things were changing. She is buried out on the farm.

I have all of Tasha Tudor's books and still make her apple crisp. I especially loved pulling the books out in the Autumn and reading to my sons.

She lived a wonderful long and productive life. The world is a better place because she lived her.

Lou Ann

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A trip up the Beach...

Yesterday morning I awoke to thunder and rain...it was wonderful as it is so dry here. I hurridly, and I do mean hurridly, took my shower outdoors. We have the most wonderful outside shower, complete with a stained glass window. It actually is artistic in every way. So, I took the shower, not bothering to dry off, as there was no need with the rain pouring down on me. The hot coffee was waiting for me inside the cottage!

We then (Philip and I) made our way up the beach for his dental appointment. It is no easy task to go to the dentist when you live on an island. There are, of course, no dentists here...so we drive to the ferry, board at 9 and am off and driving by 10 o'clock. We travel through the Cape Hattaras National Seashore, small towns and then his Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head...ahhh...finally the home of the dentist! We make the 12 o'clock appointment on time. I meander small shops, develop pictures at CVS...while waiting for Philip.

Since we were off island, we took advantage of seeing a movie, Get Smart. It was a light, fun adventuresome comedy. We headed back home traveling into dark, stormy weather as we boarded the ferry. It was a lovely game of chess...who would win...us or the storm. Luckily we made it off the ferry and home before the storm hit.

We spent the evening playing speed scrabble by candlelight and drinking gin and tonics. All in all..it was a lovely day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Early morning kayaking...

With my Indiana girlfriends still here, we decided to go out on the early morning kayak trip to watch the sunrise. We met at 6:00, had coffee on the Pizer and walked on over to the water. Our kayaks were ready and waiting. The water was a bit rough as we headed out of Silver Lake, but smoothed out once we hit the marsh area.

It was tranquil and peaceful as we watched nature wake up on this morning. The virescent marshlands were stunningly beautiful in the early morning light. We even stopped at Springer's Point to follow the path of Blackbeard the Pirate. It is not so frightening during the day...but alas at night, one must beware.

We kayaked until the sun was warm on our backs and the bustle of the day began.

Lou Ann

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sweet Scent of Laundry

It is early morning on the Ocracoke Island where I spend my time working. By night I lead ghost and history walks and tell stories at the old Opry...by day? I am a laundry connoisseur. If fact the first summer I was asked to come to the Island by my sweetheart I said, and I quote..."..only if you provide me a clothesline," and he did.

So, I like the idea of saving money..I also like the romance of hanging out laundry. I got up early this morning to hang out sheets. The sky was a soft pewter gray with just a tinge of sunshine as the cardinals around the cottage kept me company with their morning sun. All day I will go about my other activities with one eye on the clothesline. By nightfall the sheets will be sweet scented with yaupons, cedars and salt from the sea.

Lou Ann

Monday, June 16, 2008

Waking Dunes

My friends from Indiana are here this week so we decided to meet for an early walk on the beach. The sun was just rising as I made a pot of coffee and sat out on the pizer watching the day open as they arrived by bike. I bid farewell to Philip who would be home enjoying a quiet breakfast,for a change, as we made our way to the sleeping dunes.

Ahhh, the beach is so lovely in the morning. We walked along the shore letting the waves lap over our still pale Indiana legs as we told stories and had girl talk!

When we turned around to walk back the beauty was strikingly beautiful of the day awakening. We stopped to watch dolphins in the water and then headed back to the village for breakfast. We were full of salt and sand, but it doesn't really matter here. It is good to share this life with my friends.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories

Saturday, June 14, 2008

'What Could Possibly Go Wrong Festival'

This morning after a long walk on the beach and a lovely swim in the water that was the color of aquamarine jewels, Philip and I biked down to the Community Store with our canvas chairs to spend the day at the What Could Possibly Go Wrong Festival. (This is, by the way Friday the 13th!) We set up our chairs on the porch facing the water and the musicians and enjoyed the company of friends and music and a pig pickin to go along with it. All of this was in financial support of a new radio station for the island. Folks of all ages were joining in the festivities...laughing, telling stories, dancing. The last act of the day was performed by Baby Dee and The Free Moustache Rides Again. All performers were islanders making it all the more special. By nightfall all had dispersed and a quiet came over the sandy lanes once again.

It was quite a wonderful day...so much that, in fact, we will talk about it around the village tomorrow.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time...fluid and flowing

Time has been something that I have been thinking about this first week back on the Island. This is the first year I am not working in the shop, so the gift of time has been handed to me...or should I say tossed at me. I wasn't sure at first how I would handle this or even what to do with it. So, here it is Wednesday morning and here are a few of the activities that I have participated in: sitting on the porch of the Community Store, attending events at the museum (Philip has one in about an hour!), hosting the after festival party, sitting on the porch of the Community Store, biking, walking the beach, baking bread (well, not really, but hope to soon!), giving ghost tours (two of them last night!), re-writing radio shows for the Opry, talking with Philip by the hour, sitting on the Community Store porch, dinner with family, dinner with friends...OK, the list could go on and on.

Time. It is lovely for me to have...to use...to savor...to gather.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories

Monday, June 09, 2008

Home on the Island

So, here I am again...Home on the Island. The leaving is always difficult and busy, but once I am packed and locked up I am fine and ready to begin my adventure.
It took three days of driving as I took my time to enjoy the journey. I got caught in the storms in Pennsylvania the first night so stopped early.

I drove an old road through Virginia and thought of Adam the whole way as I passed through Confederate territory with signs every few miles. It was a stunning drive....highway 17 in case you need to make the trip. I arrived to a house full of folks and the pot luck supper and the auction. It was as if I had never left...good friends, good food..

Philip's cottage is as it was. Quaint...small...full of history. I felt at home right away!

The week end was the Ocrafolk festival out under the shade of the live oaks. The weather was hot as it was everywhere else, but tolerable. Philip and I did our old fashioned radio show as well as call the evening square dance. We sat by the hour listening to all types of music from jazz to folk to original pieces.

Last night after the festival we hosted the party. All the musicians came and filled up the old cottage with music....accordions, banjos, guitars, and even a keyboard. A new baby slept in the old bedroom while laughter and friendship was shared. The music went on until after midnight. Philip and Jim and I then sat out on the front pizer watching the half golden moon talking about how wonderful life is.

I did wake early this morning and biked down to the cold restored Community Store for coffee and conversation. I sat out on the porch in the early morning light and just visited with folks as they stroled by.

Today is unpacking, settling in...

It is lovely to be back...to be Home on the Island.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The U.S. Embassy to the Rescue

So, the saga began on early Thursday morning when the first to-be hurricane of the season was named Alma and headed for the Nicaraguan Coast. Of course, my children are in the heart of Nicaragua on a butterfly/moth hunt! I realize it is not every one's idea of the perfect vacation, but they are adventuresome boys.

The news reports were alarming with mud slides, 75 inches of rain, and life threatening conditions. As you can imagine, the girls and I were on panic mode. Finally Karen called the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua who dutifully went on a search. They called her back numerous time as well as the Embassy in Belize! It seems as if all were on the hunt for these three American young men. On Friday they located them and took Aaron to the Embassy to call home to Karen. All is well. "What is all the fuss about?" he asked. So, all is well, we slept well last night and they will be home on Sunday with stories that will be told for years!

Lou Ann

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where in the world in Marguerite??

So, the tea cups are ready and the boys are watching expectantly out the window..but no Marguerite. I finally put out tea party away and we went on with our day. Later on she called and said that she could not find my house and did not dial my cell phone number properly. She even stopped in at the Herald/Republican. Alas, alas...she will come on Sunday. I am excited to hear this story, write it and make my millions...or at least my $25 per story. Tune in later. In the meantime, it is a gorgeous day after two nights of light frost. The sun and sky are gorgeous...a great day for gardening!

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Visit With Marguerite??

Today is my Nannie day with Matthew and Jonah (Kristin, please bring little Miss Holly to Indiana...she is missing all our fun!!) I met them sleepy eyed and cold (frost last night), they got dressed and I brought them home to hot oatmeal with brown sugar and butter. As my grandmother used to say, "They licked the platter clean." We have done our 'morning' work and are waiting for a visit from Marguerite. She is an elderly woman who called me last week and told me she had a story to tell and that I must hear it! I have never met her, nor do I know her last name, but curiosity always gets the best of me. So with tea brewing and a fresh pad of paper, I wait for a new story!! Lou Ann

Tonya, sorry about the repeat!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Week End

Today I rose early (before the sun was out) to bike down to the mound to photograph the monument as the sun was rising. It was chilly, but beautiful and so quiet! A few folks I knew waved as they circled, but, for the most part, on this quiet Sunday I had it all to myself. Here are a few of the photos.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Hometown

First published in the H/R. Enjoy!

It is dusk. The time reserved for poets and writers and singers of the world. The gray of early nighttime mingles with the last of the rain. In the path of the rain stands my crabapple trees adorning the front of my house. Their petals cascade with the rain…like pink snow. Two girls walk by with umbrellas. They are telling stories and giggling as they twirl their colorful umbrellas. I smile at them through my windows on my porch. The spring leaves have come out so much this week that my writing area is half covered in bushes gone wild. I should trim them, but I haven’t the heart to take the hedge trimmer to their beauty.

I bought this house in the spring from Randy and Shannon five years ago. It was a day like this with flowers and trees blooming all over town and in their garden. They had placed a small flag in the yard along with a homemade For Sale sign. I had a realtor who just could not understand what I wanted as she helped me find The Perfect House. Finally, one day, she asked, Lou Ann, what do you want? Sometimes it is hard to put in words all that I was looking and hoping for. I simply said, A house that says welcome home when I open the door. We spent a lot of time that winter just opening doors and putting my head inside listening. When I stumbled upon this one, Randy opened the door for me…and it whispered from every corner, Welcome Home.

Before I moved in, they hosted an ice cream social in my house-to-be so that I could meet all of the neighbors. I remember shyly walking through this house that would soon be mine and wondering what name I would give it. I was already in love with it. I imagined all of my ‘things’ spread out in all the rooms. The neighbors came visiting through all the small gates in the White Picket Fence, just as they do now. It was on that moment that I named this lovely old house.

Home is where we put our shoes, our hat, our teacups, our dreams. Here is a short story of home. A few years ago I met Edith. I was helping out with some hearing testing for wellness day when she showed up to have me test her hearing. She would not take off her headscarf as her hair was in pincurls. We began chatting and she invited me to visit her on Sunday, which was Mother’s Day. She told me her house was on a hill inside the outlet mall. I found her house without any trouble, but was so ashamed that I had never noticed her house. I am supposed to notice these kinds of things. She greeted me at the door with swooping red earrings and red high heeled shoes. Her gray hair was twisted up and around her head like a crown. I brought her a carnation which she put in the house and then closed the door as we walked around her small place. There was an old rusty station wagon, dogs on chains, bones strewn around, and her pride and joy….a cardboard box of baby chickens and ducks. She handled each one with so much sweetness and love that it was as if they were her children. I looked around at all of the traffic surrounding us…no one really noticing, and I looked back at Edith. I asked her why she stayed there with all the cars bustling about her tiny farm…she answered me perfectly. Where would I go? This is my home. She told me that she and her husband had built this space together. She was right, She didn’t see the rusted station wagon or the bones. I learned two things from Edith that day. First of all, to be more observant in my life and secondly, home is where we are…where our friends meet, where we go at the end of the day…and what we fall in love with.

It is late, darkness has descended and the day is over. I close up the lap top, turn off the frayed scarlet lamp, time to close the doors and pull down the old sashes on the windows. I walk in and notice my red shoe collection…in windows, on steps, by the guitar and the piano, next to guest beds and doll collections…for there is indeed no place like home.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

It is a cool rainy day in my hometown. It was a good morning to wake up to work on crossword puzzles, read my book club book, The Sun Also Rises, by Hemmingway and bake bread. It is also the day I like to just look out the window and watch the rain drip off the crabapple trees in my yard. Maybe later I will put on my pink boots and take a stroll to town dodging the puddles as I walk.

For those of you Moms out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Lou Ann
Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Exciting Elections...

OK, I am really into this election. My yard sports the Obama sign...I wear a button, Women for Obama. I suppose you all knew which way I would vote anyway. When we were kids growing up, it appeared to be a secret, like how much money someone makes. Maybe the secrets aren't the right way to be anymore, just as they probably weren't then. I like to be vocal about who I am and how I believe. Now, my kids are not Obama fans, but that is what makes America so successful!

I voted at 6 in the morning and spent the next hour at Rachael's coffee shop doing my own exit polls. My friend, Kathy, joined me and we had great fun. Of course, I was up until 1 in the morning to await the results.

So, my button stays, my views are stronger and let's all just wait and see what happens next!

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Freeze?

Last night driving home (I was gong to ride my bike, but it was tooo cold!) from Matthew's kindergarten program, I noticed folks out in their gardens placing sheets and newspapers on their spring flowers and early gardens.

Because I am a seasoned gardener, I know what needs covering and what doesn't...I also know that I wouldn't dare plant tomatoes or peppers until the middle of May.

And, yes, we had a heavy frost last night. The ground has a pale sheen of ivory mist this morning...Winter cannot let go this year!

Lou Ann

Monday, April 28, 2008

This week's article, first posted in the H/R

This was published last week in the H/R on my spring dinner theatre production. Enjoy!

I open up the back door of my ‘Backstage’ at Hamilton. I stand back in the early morning light to take a good look at my classroom. It isn’t much. I moved into it at the beginning of the school year with, what I call, deep despair. It is a beige tin trailer. Beige. It is dented from years of playground balls and frisbies and, probably, a few young hefty children bumping into it as they go for a fly ball or tag. The steps crumbled this winter and were replaced. Both sets were replaced on the same day in February which left me for a short time with no entrance or exit. It was a day of pondering, or reckoning…as the old folks would say. Step inside with me. The lights are harsh, the carpet is old and something was once spilled on the center of it. The heaters rattle so I have to turn them off when talking. In the heart of winter, the wind whistles up through the tin making us feel like Laura from Little House on the Prairie during the long blizzard.

The children do not see any of that. I go inside and create our work space. I plug in the many twinkle lights. Push the play button for the music and look at my classroom, my workshop, my studio. In this space of time and dust, the products are children.

My after school arts classes have produced a show, a performance, an original play that will showcase today eight times! I think back on these past four months working with each group. The writers were first, all fourth grade. We began our work as the Writer’s Strike ended. I did my best to explain it to them. They understood and did their work seriously….without asking for a raise. When the script was ready, they did their cast call as if they were Broadway directors. They invited each student in to try out and show off their skills. They wrote a Western so they were also looking for a Howdy Partner in a great western dialect. Choosing the cast was difficult for them, but the show was finally posted and we went into rehearsals. The script writers would often show up to check out their work and give advice as well as design programs and costumes.

The Backstage is ready and class after class crowds into this space. The audience must help solve this Gold Rush mystery. The character names are as colorful as their personalities. Gizard. Sally Jo. Ruby Mae, Dixie Lee. John Padre. Lex. Daniel Doom. Billy Bob. They take their places in the freezing tradition of French Tableau. I start the music…a great selection of honky tonk Saloon music and we begin.

I smile and laugh as if I have not seen this production for, oh, a hundred times? They are delightful and this group of actors all in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade are engaged and intent on their character. Six steps and a door I am always saying…be your character! And today they are. They end with a square dance and a flourish.

At three in the afternoon tables and decorations are set up for the country Western dinner that accompanies our show. We are now a dinner theatre, tickets…$2.00. The shows are a sell out at that. My principal, Kimberly, and a loving group of mothers work tirelessly filling plates with barbeque and baked beans. The script writers become the waiters and servers and we, the actors and actresses wait in the green room. I tell them how in real green rooms, the actors take naps or do puzzles or yoga. These children would rather run around and holler.

It is the eighth show…they are stunning, and I am proud. We eat. We tear down. We bid farewell. It is dark as I pack up my guitar, unplug the lights, pick up the last of the playbills scattered on the old carpet floor. With the bright lights on and all the kids gone, it is just a trailer, an old tin trailer. I notice a few new spots on the floor, but it doesn’t really matter. I load my car with cans of beans, our table decorations, and return them to Hamilton Super Value. It is nice to live in small towns where you can borrow thirty cans of beans!

I meander home over the country roads and make my turn around the mound, and I am home.