Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Grief

(I've been pondering a quote that GretchenJoanna shared on her blog, and this poem resulted.)

Do not write sadly of a last sunset,
a final kiss,
or that you smelt 
a loaf of warm bread
and did not know
it was your last.
This grief is a lie that fools tell.
This is why we have eternity, love.
Sunsets, kisses, satisfying smells
and all other goodnesses
are eternal.

How happy I will be when I know
I have heard my last lie,
felt my last twinge,
smelt my last whiff of decay.
I will write of that,
I will sing of that,

Oriental, NC
copyrighted by the author

The Moor

It was like a church to me.
I entered it on soft foot,
Breath held like a cap in the hand.
It was quiet.
What God was there made himself felt,
Not listened to, in clean colours
That brought a moistening of the eye,
In movement of the wind over grass.

There were no prayers said. But stillness
Of the heart's passions -- that was praise
Enough; and the mind's cession
Of its kingdom. I walked on,
Simple and poor, while the air crumbled
And broke on me generously as bread.

-- R.S. Thomas

(I'm unashamedly stealing this poem from my dear blogging friend, GretchenJoanna. If you'd like to know more about Welsh poet R.S. Thomas, you may read about him here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Just Ouch

I'm gonna whine a little. It's been such a week! Normally I am a very healthy person, and I don't complain of ailments because I really don't have many. Thus, I'm a lousy patient when I do get sick. In the past week, I've had FOUR issues, physically, that set me back. Four! Two of them I won't mention on ye olde blogge, but they are little personal miseries that occur in life, as we age.
Then on Friday, on a bike ride, Adam accidentally ran into me. I wasn't hurt badly -- just a scrape on my leg, and a good-sized bruise on my hip that's sore. Makes sleeping a little bit harder.
But yesterday was the killer. We went to a friend's house for Adam to help her winterize her bee hives. No big deal. I'm around bees all the time. I knew that one of her hives was occupied by particularly mean-spirited bees, but I was standing well back from them, minding my own business. Both Adam and my friend were closer to that hive.
And then ... boom! One of those bees nailed me on the soft side of my hand. Ouch! I pulled the stinger out. I wandered over and found some plantain leaves, tore them up, and put them over the sting.
And it seemed to do fine for a while. Inside her house later, I took the plantain off and applied some cooling aloe gel. Maybe that was a mistake? I don't know, but the hand started to swell. And swell. And SWELL. It got huge.
Last night I took two Advil, 100 mg of benadryl, and slept okay. But today it's been a true pain. I've applied cold packs all day long, but the swelling is still pretty painful and itchy.
I have never, ever had a bee sting like this. It's utterly miserable.
So, there's my whine. I skipped chorale rehearsal tonight because I can't focus, can't hold things well with the hand. It's really hard to type! We did homeschool today, and I taught my Bible study, but that was the most this girl was up to.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


The day trip to Ocracoke happened, and I'll tell you this -- there's not enough time in the day to do Ocracoke in one day, from Oriental. Just sayin'. But we did try! We got up with the sun ~
We made the 7:45 ferry at Minnesott. I started to knit. I knew I'd have plenty of knitting time while on the four ferry rides that dominated our day.
Okay, Tammy, I'm working hard on your shawl! I hope you like the look.
After crossing the Neuse River, we drove out to Cedar Island, a low, watery peninsula where the other ferry takes off. We passed swampy salt marshes on both sides.

Occasionally when it gets too wet, they build a high bridge. See how flat it is? Adam shook his head and muttered, "Reminds me of Nebraska."
In Oriental we have ditches along our roadways, little ditches. They come in handy for extra rain. (In Iowa, there were massive ditches, useful for sliding your car into during particularly bad winter storms.) But the ditches on either side of this highway occasionally broke out into full-fledged lakes. I felt I was skimming over the surface on an unconvincing film of asphalt.
We reached the Cedar Island ferry station early ... but better late than dashing in at the last minute! We sat and enjoyed the glorious weather. It was a picture-perfect day outside. Julia loved all the ferry rides.
And yes, that's a puppy dog you see on Adam's lap. We took the dogs along because 14 hours is too long to leave them alone.
Cedar Island is right on the Pamlico Sound -- big water. Sand burrs and salt water.
It was lovely and relaxing.

Our van was on the very front of the large ferry. The ride to Ocracoke takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Here's a photo of the lounge. Some people slept on the benches, wrapped in blankets. Some ladies played cards.
A photo of North Carolina's lighthouses. You can read more here. A friendly lady on the ferry told me they'd been to Ocracoke many times, and that we could walk up into the old lighthouse there. I was excited.

Bo-Beau whined for the water. He only threw up once.
We passed the other ferry, traveling from Ocracoke to Cedar Island. We also saw the Swan Quarter ferry, entering Ocracoke just before us. It was taller and bigger, and through our broken binoculars it looked like a floating hotel.
We started seeing the channel markers for Ocracoke. Adam brought along his GPS. One important thing he wanted to do on this trip was to chart the ferry's trip through Ocracoke's tricky, narrow channel, and save it in his GPS, so if when we sail here ourselves, we will have a perfect chart to use. See the markers?
One wreck in six feet of water, which is rather deep for this area! Adam says he doesn't think these poles are part of the boat, but perhaps were put there to alert boats, to avoid crashing into the submerged boat.
Left of the channel thousands of birds rested on a long sandbar.
Here you see the entrance to Ocracoke's Silver Lake, a lovely, round sheltered bay, edged with shops, hotels and boat slips.
It was nearly 1:00, so we drove off the ferry and headed for the lighthouse. When Adam and I came to Ocracoke 25 years ago for our honeymoon (Okay, don't even ask about the insanity of youth. We drove 2 days from Jackson, Mississippi to Ocracoke, and 2 days back. We barely made the ferry back then ....) well, we never even saw the lighthouse. I didn't know where it was on the island. There was no Google to assist, no websites with handy maps. Adam planned out the whole trip by visiting the local library. Remember those days, old folks?
I thought it odd that the tiny 4-car parking lot warned, "15 minute parking only." 15 minutes?
Here's the old gate. This structure was erected in 1823. It stands 75 ft. above sea level.
Sadly, I rattled the locked lighthouse door and realized that it is not open for visitors. Sigh. No wonder 15 minutes is adequate.
We proceeded to our next destination -- the Bed-and-Breakfast where we stayed all those years ago. Here it is! Oscar's House is a cute little place. We wanted to return last summer, but she only books for longer stays. It's kind of a hippy/greenie/progressive/spa-yoga-Hindu prayer kind of place now :) The innkeeper is a wonderful cook. Those upstairs windows were ours once.
I knew Julia would enjoy a little shopping, and Ocracoke has quaint galleries and quirky artisans. The shop below is called Books to be Red. I like a used bookstore.
A bit dumpy on the outside, it was utterly delightful inside the door ... rather like some good friends of mine! (heehee - sorry. Couldn't resist.) They had YARN. Such beautiful yarn.
~ and some fun pottery ~
~ and yet more yarn ~
~ and neat things hanging from the ceiling.

Not used books, but new ones. And some very pretty journals. I like the one on the right; Julia prefers the one on the left.
Nearby lay Ocracoke's oldest lane, Howard's Street. Unpaved, shaded by ancient live oaks, littered with sagging cottages, crab pots, and postage-stamp-sized cemeteries.

Nearby is the island's tiny school. Their mascot? The Dolphins, of course! Someone adapted a smooth piece of driftwood for the purpose porpoise.
Captn. Garrick rests here.
Although Adam made his delectable pumpkin scones for us, plus a fresh loaf of bread and a pot of honey butter, Julia complained of hunger. We'd looked up some eateries on Ocracoke, and read of Eduardo's taco stand, with fabulous food and the lowest prices on the island. Sadly, I discovered they do not accept credit cards, so we pooled our funds and came up with $9. It was enough for two tostados, so we sat at their picnic table. It was delicious. I glanced at my watch. It was almost 3:00!
I think that's when I realized that my idea of a leisurely visit to Ocracoke was a fool's errand. When your ferry arrives there at nearly 1:00, and you have to be back in the ferry line at 3:30 to leave, you don't have much time!! What was I thinking?
So I put the van back in the ferry line, and Adam and I went for one last stroll while Julia dog-sat our over-excited pups. They were rather stimulated by the time on the water and all the people. They live such a sheltered life. We were very dog-weary by day's end.
Nets laid out to dry:
We walked across the parking lot to the local museum in an old farmhouse. I wish I'd gone there earlier. We didn't have time for me to do what I love to do in a museum:  read everything and soak in all the details. It takes forever, but I feel immersed in the days gone by.
An old ship's rudder from the early 20th century, recovered on the island:
I wanted a shot of Silver Lake so you could see how pretty it is, how protected and calm. I didn't have a good vantage point.
After our return ferry ride back to Cedar Island, the sun was just setting.
As I considered the clock, I realized it would be just possible -- but not easy! -- to drive maniacally to Cherry Point to catch the 7:30 ferry back across the Neuse, to get home. If I didn't arrive on time, we would sit there for an additional hour. So I drove in a way that I no longer relish doing -- it wracks my nerves. But we made it, barely. We drove up to the ferry just as they were finishing boarding. All that to say ... if Adam and I ever return to Ocracoke, we will stay overnight somehow. And if we sail there ourselves, we will stay at least two nights, because we would be stupid to sail all the way there (a full day's sail) and turn around and do it all again the next day! There are slips in Silver Lake managed by the park service, and they only charge a little per foot, for the length of your boat. That may be our next option. So there's our expedition to Ocracoke! Julia loved it, which was my goal. She's worked hard in school and deserved a day away.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

River Moods

Last night's Neuse was brown and turbid, its chop ridden hard by wind and slapping against the rocks.
The sky matched the river's mood.
Every ray of sun glanced off her and spun in midair.
This morning's cool air convinced me that I could pull on clothes, mount my bike, and go riding. A thin skin of mist hung over the tired bean fields.
The previous day's angry rainstorm still lay in the ditches.
And yesterday's brown, roiling waters were smooth as silk. Or crepe, perhaps.

Tonight, riding again, the sky grew so ominous, so large and deep blue, if I were a small child, I would have been afraid. Our coastal winds (I guess?) keep our cloud formations very curled and twisting.
See that distant rain pocket along the orange horizon?
Here it is, close-up:
We never did get rain here. But on such a river, one can see other people's rain, far away. And knowing our own ignorance of weather's movement, and the unpredictability of it here, we don't know if that's our evening, or just someone else's now.
Tomorrow, we're all taking two ferries in early morning and traveling to Ocracoke Island for the day.

Zoom in on the map to see things closer. See the skinny island on the right? Ocracoke is on the bottom of that island. Oriental is along that body of water that is labeled "Adams Creek," but is actually the Neuse. You can click to look closer, and find it, on the north side of the river. And to get to Ocracoke, of course we cannot go straight across the water. Oh no! We have to drive over to highway 306, and take a ferry across the river (where the dotted line is), and then drive along highways 101 and 70, wiggling our way out to the tip end of that crinkly peninsula, out to Cedar Island. The long ferry leaves there at 10:30, and we will be aboard!  I'll be sure to have lots to show and tell you about Ocracoke! Stay tuned.