A Morning Saga

This morning I awoke to outside temperature of about 32 degrees….our first frost of the season. Last nigh, we had turned on our heat for the first time this fall. Over night we had run  out of heating oil and the house was about 50degrees…..BURRRRR. Obviously, I needed to get heating oil.

Anyway, I called the company I deal with, Atlantic Coast Oil and Lubes. The owner, Randy, answered the phone. I told him who I was, and that I needed oil, he asked if today or tomorrow was okay…I said sure but I’m out…he said today it is. See you about noon.

Just about noon, I saw the truck pull in my drive…. and oil was delivered! Probably there are many companies I could have called. But Randy had not been here in over a year….but still didn’t need my address (he remembered me). He made it a priority to be sure I got heat (he always does when I mess up and run out).

This is why I believe in doing business with locally owned and operated businesses. Customer service matters!! If you live in Wilmington and have a need for fuel oil, call Randy! He’s a good guy.

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You Never Forget The First One #tbt

I moved to Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend 1995 – it’s hard for me to believe it’s been almost 20 years! In that time I have experienced quite a few storms:

1996 hurricane Bertha hits July 12th with 105mph winds from the south. Newspaper article | Radar
1996 hurricane Fran hits Sept 5th with 105mph winds from the SSE. Heavy damage – 1 billion dollars damage, 23 killed storm surge approx 16ft. Newspaper headline | #2 | satelite image | av model error

1998 hurricane Bonnie hits August 26th with 115mph winds from the south, while turning N.E, moderate damage .
1999 Hurricane Floyd hit Sept 16th just east with 110mph winds from the south,dumps nearly 20 inches of rain here & causes heavy damage to north on Oak Island. New Hanover county reported 10 ft storm surge on sound side of Masonboro. A record 13.38 inches fell in 24 hrs.
2004  Hurricane Charley hits August 14th with 75mph winds from the SSW after hitting Florida, minor structural damage.  Also Hurricane Alex  August 3; Tropical Storm Bonnie August 12;  Tropical Storm Frances September 8; Tropical Storm Gaston August 30;  Tropical Storm Ivan September 16 and Tropical Storm Jeanne September 27
2005 Hurricane Ophelia passes just east on Sept 14th with 85mph winds from the south,western eyewall over Wilmington for a couple of hours. Widespread power outages & some minor roof damage & trees down.Ophelia Satellite image
2006 August 31 Tropical Storm Ernesto
2008 Tropical Storm Fay August 23 and Tropical Storm Hanna September 6
2010 September 3 Hurricane Earl
2011 August 27 Hurricane Irene

This morning as I awoke to the news that Tropical Storm Arthur, who was thought would just brush the coast, is now Hurricane Arthur, and we could possibly see landfall, I began to reminisce about hurricanes and storms. My first hurricane was Bertha. I guess you really don’t ever forget your first.

With Bertha I had no clue what to expect. I had experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1998 from four hours inland. With Bertha, I hemmed and hawed, I fretted and feared and in the end I stayed in my little apartment in an old historic house in Wilmington to ride it out.

I took a trip to Carolina Beach to watch her blow in; crossing the bridge back to the mainland just before the close. Coalman (my first Dalmatian) and I stocked up on essentials (stuff you can eat out of a can) and we settled in to enjoy a stormy day.

I swore after that Cat 1 storm I would never stay for another.

I remember feeling as if that old historic house was lifted off its’ foundation and slammed back to earth. I remember wandering out and around the block with Coalman during the eye of the storm.

Me and CoalmanI remember the sound of transformers blowing all over town and the 10 days I spent without electricity. TEN days in a downstairs apartment, in a questionable neighborhood, where all the windows were nailed shut for safety. There were long lines waiting for ice; price gouging for generators; and friends who took me in for meals, cold beverages and shared A/C.

This morning as I started to think about preparing for Hurricane Arthur, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my first.

As I’m reminiscing about storms, I am struck by how many storms blow into our lives. Some are afternoon thunderstorms, some are fast moving and others are long lasting. Some we can predict and others pop up and take us by surprise. However, none of us live a life without storms.

Just like the storm that is blowing through Southeastern North Carolina today, the damage caused by storms of our lives is often equal for how we react and how we prepare.

Prepare carefully.

                                 React thoughtfully.

                                                                    and Stay Safe!

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Hope – who doesn’t need HOPE?

It seems these days everywhere you turn there is a Mob of some ilk. Obviously the world has decided to cash in on the Herd mentality!  From Flash Mobs to Cash Mobs businesses and individuals are trying to influence what we buy and how we act. Yesterday, I saw a business touting a Crop Mob (yep, they’re a garden / farm business). Now, I am in no way saying these things are bad. I actually think the cash mobs supporting local businesses are awesome! However, until a few days ago, I have never felt compelled to participate in a Mob of any sort (in case you didn’t know – I pride myself on not being overly influenced by the pack).

However, last week my friend Marty tweeted about wanting to start a ‘Hope Mob’. It captured my attention, so, I asked questions….lots of questions! Here are snippets of answers I received – ‘Think cash mob yet not necessarily cash – could be time, cash, prayers, something. We all know someone who needs a little hope.’  ‘I want to make a real difference in this town.’

Hope – who doesn’t need HOPE?

People around us are living in despair. Many are feeling hopeless!  Wouldn’t it be nice to offer real hope, not just optimism? The difference between hope and optimism being that hope entails pathways and thoughts to an intended goal; whereas, optimism leads one to “expect the best, but it does not necessarily provide any critical thinking about how we are going to arrive at this improved future”.

So we met for coffee. We discussed how to get people involved. We discussed possible hope benefactors and recipients. Then we adopted the ‘if you build it they will come’ mentality so we decided on a mission statement:

Wilmington Hope Mob – Putting together generous strangers who bring immediate hope to people in Wilmington, NC with pressing needs.

We started a facebook group and began to invite people. In two days we went from 0 to 140+ members! I don’t know what needs are out there. I don’t know where this will take us. But I know we could all use a little hope! And I now know that at least 140 people in Wilmington NC are interested in having and/or spreading HOPE!

Just to solidify that we’re on the right track – yesterday, I typed Nope into a text message…my phone auto-corrected to Hope. You can take it as you wish, but I’m sure it means universal approval for the Wilmington Hope Mob (or I have poor typing skills <grin>).

Hope – it may mean help finding the better path.

Hope – it may mean a hand up.

Hope – it may mean just feeling supported.

Hope – it’s worth sharing!

Hope – it is what I wish for you!

Because, as Marty said, ‘Who doesn’t need a little hope?’

I hope you’ll join us!

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Fire on the Dock

Sometimes life requires that we venture outside of our comfort zone. Last night was one of these times. We had the opportunity to attend the North Carolina Competition Dining Series. In case you haven’t heard of it, I am told it is very much like the Television series, Iron Chef. Each night two local chefs compete head to head in a cook-off with a North Carolina ‘secret ingredient’ – the chef doesn’t know this ingredient until one hour before they start to cook. Each chef cooks three dishes with the secret ingredient and the diners get to vote on the dishes.


The view from our table

As a non-adventuresome eater, I was filled with trepidation about attending this event. But, it was Jenn’s birthday and she LOVES eating dangerously. We arrived at Shell Island Resort on a beautiful evening. Each table sat 10 people.  Seeing that the joy of life’s adventures are often determined by those we share them with we were anxious to meet our fellow diners. Lady luck was shining on us as we soon discovered that all the participants of ‘Table 6’ were fun and outgoing.

My fears were somewhat lifted when they announced that the ‘secret ingredient’ for the night was flounder! Naturally, I had shared my concerns with our entire table. I could feel nine eyes on me when the announcement was made – I gave two thumbs up! Although seafood is not my favorite (a trait I got from my mother who eats no seafood); flounder is a mild fish and therefore one I often choose.

The two competing chefs last night were Chef Antoine Murray of the Cape Fear Country Club and Chef Pat Green of Elijah’s in downtown Wilmington. During the evening they played a short video of each chef telling why they wanted to compete. Chef Green really impressed me with her interest in stepping out of her comfort zone and her ‘in it to win it’ attitude. Secretly, I was cheering for her to win!

Warm Salad of NC Flounder

Warm Salad of NC Flounder

The first course was Warm Salad of NC Flounder. We had no idea which chef prepared each dish at the time they were presented for our tasting pleasure. I now know the first course was by Chef Murray. The salad was a toasted Couscous Salad with Herbs, Tomato Concasse & Truffle Vinaigrette. I scored it 15 out of a possible 30 points. We were told in the beginning to have each dish start at zero and score them up for what was actually on the plate. It was a nice way to approach things – looking for the positive and giving points rather than expecting high points and subtracting.

Margarita Marinated Wanchese Flounder

Margarita Marinated Flounder

The second course was Margarita Marinated Flounder over Slaw. It was delicious! The fish was cooked to perfection, the flavors were a nice combination and over-all I enjoyed this dish. I scored it a 18 out of 30 (had I realized that I could go back and change votes before committing my vote, I would have scored this dish higher). The plate could have used more color. However the aroma and flavor really made up for what was missing in presentation.

Blackened Flounder

Blackened Flounder

The third course was Blackened Flounder with Shrimp & Sweet Potato Polenta, Sweet Chili Butter, and Chive Oil. This course got my highest score of the evening (19 out of 30). The blackened flounder was delicious. I LOVED the crispy sweet potatoes on the top and everything had enough spice to be delicious but wasn’t overpowering hot. This dish would have scored higher had it not included the sweet potato polenta. Although it was not bad, sweet potatoes are not my favorite and the combination of sweet and hot didn’t work for me.

Flounder & Crab Cake

Flounder & Crab Cake

When the fourth course arrived I almost felt as if part of my food was missing. The dish was a Flounder & Crab Cake with Remoulade & House Pickled Vegetables. The flounder & crab cake was about the size of a quarter and appeared tiny in comparison to the other dishes. The flavor was good and I even enjoyed the pickled vegetables, even thought I was concerned when they were announced. I scored this dish 12 out of 30.

Flounder Roulade

Flounder Roulade

The fifth course had us all talking as soon as it was announced – a Flounder Roulade Stuffed with NC Shrimp & Flounder Mousse, Beet Risotto, Sofrito Braised Pork Shoulder. This competition also had professional food critics as the judges. Jenn astutely noticed that this was the only dish where the professionals ranked it higher than the ‘real people’. I can only say that has to be because this dish was NASTY to anyone other than a professional! I was able to pick out a shrimp and enjoy it but the beet risotto was awful and it permeated the entire dish! I ranked it 5 out of 30 but only because it did look pretty on the plate.

Southern Fried Flounder

Southern Fried Flounder

The last course was right up my alley – Southern Fried Flounder with Collard Greens, Crab-Asparagus Polenta, and Sweet Potato Cream Sauce. The Crab-Asparagus Polenta was amazing; I would definitely eat it again. Although I am not a big fan of collards, these had nice bacony chunks and were tasty. The flounder was good; unfortunately it was dry and needed some tarter sauce (or something). I scored it 12 out of 30. The presentation wasn’t beautiful and the execution was off.

Gayle & Jenn

Having a GREAT time

The winner for the evening competition was Chef Antoine Murray. The real winner of the evening was Jenn! She got me to step out of my foods comfort zone and it was a fun way to celebrate her birthday.

Fire on the Dock goes on through May 22nd and there are two more NC competitions coming up – one in Raleigh and one in Greensboro. If you get a chance to go, you won’t be disappointed!


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One of the nice things about spring is that everything wakes up! Trees begin to bud, flowers spring out of the ground and it seems as if everything comes to life. This weekend we have the opportunity to enjoy a brush with nature up close and personal. We are vendors for the Herb and Garden Fair at Poplar Grove.
















On Saturday, I took some time to enjoy the beautiful flowers. Purchase a few herbs and enjoy the day. I hope you’ll enjoy my pictures!








The Poplar grove Herb and Garden Fair holds a VERY special place in my heart (Jenn’s too). What follows it the ‘story’ as it appeared in the Glynne’s Soaps Newsletter: In 1999, we attended the Herb and Garden Fair and purchased some air plants, small plants that can grow without soil.  We wanted some Spanish moss to place around the plants to help hold in moisture and act as a base.  As we were driving home, discussing where to get some Spanish moss, we stopped at Pottery Plus (knowing full well they would not have what we needed).  However, what they did have was someone set up in the parking lot with Dalmatian puppies.  And we, not being as rescue aware as we are now, brought home a little girl with one blue eye and one brown eye and named her Dodie Glynne.  She wasn’t with us long, as she died of Addison’s disease not long after her second birthday, but every time we see the Herb and Garden Fair we think of Dodie.  It’s fitting that we will be there now with Glynne’s Soaps.

Beautiful colors

The Herb and Garden Fair continues again today until 4:00. Come see the beautiful flowers, watch the demonstrations (the kids were getting to try throwing some pottery), and enjoy a beautiful Spring day (of course you can also see me at the Glynne’s Soaps booth).



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Plenty of Socks at Lo Tide

We have arrived at the time of year when festival and events permeate my life. Last week Jenn announced that we have no free Saturdays until October.  Part of me is excited to be back to the grind and part of me is already longing for a Saturday free from work!

Yesterday we attended, as vendors, the Lo Tide Run in Carolina Beach.  This was the 8th annual Lo Tide Run whose goal is to raise money to assist local cancer victims in financial need in memory of Steve Haydu of Carolina Beach who died from cancer at a young age. This year there were 1950 runners pre-registered for the race and undoubtly over 2000 who ran (some registered the day of the race).

I had to up and at ‘em early – if you know me you probably know that is NOT my style. A 0530 wake-up call doesn’t make me a happy camper. However once we were set up and ready to go, I had an opportunity to wander to the beach and enjoy the sunrise.

The Solitude of Sunrise

The Birds enjoying the Beach with me

The Birds enjoying the Beach with me

Unfortunately on my journey to find a little early morning solitude, I discovered something that makes me very angry! Litter on the beach! I have little or no patience for litter anywhere, but to spoil such beauty is unconscionable!


In January I shared a post about attending the Step Up for Soldiers BBQ Cook-Off. In that post I showed 32 photos of feet and footwear. Yesterday as I returned to our booth from watching the sunrise, Jenn said ‘I think today you need to move up the leg a bit and take photos of socks’, a quick glance at the volume and uniqueness of socks told me she was right!


I spent my day asking if I could photograph socks. I did have my first inquiry asking if I had a foot fetish…I don’t. We had a fun, yet long, day at the Lo Tide Run. I hope they raised lots of money.

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