Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vacation Loot

I promise that this is my last post about my vacation, (unless I change my mind - it's my doggone blog, after all!). But I thought I'd share some of what came home with me after last week.


Shells collected from the beach at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Close-up of barnacle encrustations on inside of blue shell


I admit it. I'm a bag 'ho. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Hello, my name is Mary and I'm a bag-aholic. (Hi, Mary!!) Besides the purchase I shared previously, here are two more bags that came home with me after last week:

Back: Vera Bradley tote in Bermuda Blue (!!) -- birthday gift from my SIL Jenny
Front: another Endless Possibilities woven bag, perhaps a gift for ???

In my defense, one of those bags was purchased for me by someone else, and the other was purchased by me for someone else. I'm thrilled about that Vera bag, though -- it's now my new knitting bag. Now that I own one, I can't believe how many others I've seen around town. Mine is the prettiest, though! ;-)

Love Notes

When we ate dinner at Colington Cafe last week, my six-year-old nephew, (my 'lil buddy), requested that I sit next to him (be still, my heart!). Our linen tablecloth was covered with paper (perhaps in preparation for five kids?), and the wait staff handed out crayons to each kid, and so 'lil buddy and I had a running love-fest conversation in crayon all evening,

(I'm "Aunt Kitty", if case you hadn't guessed)

Can you blame me for tearing out this section of our tablecloth and taking it home with me?
It now resides permanently on my refrigerator door.

Before you gag on the cute overload, let me just tell you that for a good part of the week 'lil buddy was thoroughly entertained by bopping my knuckles with Lincoln Logs, which is surprisingly painful. How fickle are the hearts of six-year-olds! But he gave me the greatest bear hug as we were leaving to drive home on Saturday, so he's my buddy again. For maybe another year. He's #12 of my dozen nieces and nephews, and so I've learned a thing or two about kids, and I know that once they hit the age of seven or so, Aunt Kitty gets knocked off her pedestal of Auntly greatness, and she becomes just another boring adult. So I'll take my hugs while I can get them!

Knitting-related Loot

Sock Wizard software; size H crochet hook; yarn & WIP

The yarn is Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets "Potluck" (she has no website) purchased at Knitting Addiction in Southern Shores. It's a collection of six-foot lengths of various yarns (and quilt fabric strips!) tied together to make a (surprisingly expensive) 150-yard skein. I figure you're really paying for the labor to put this yarn together, as I can imagine it's quite time-consuming, especially for the one-woman show that is Ellyn Cooper. Knitting Addiction had a whole table of her gorgeous, hand-dyed yarns, and I wish I'd taken a picture, because they were just lovely - I kept being pulled back to them. What does it say about me that I ended up buying the most novelty-ish, blingy, expensive yarn she offers? Tacky white trash to the core, I guess.

close-up of the WIP -- lengthwise scarf on US 15 circulars (cast-on ~150 stitches)

It took a village to get this scarf started -- the very gracious Mary Jane and Anne, owner and employee of Unraveled, came to knit with us at TNK Tuesday night and helped me figure out how many stitches to cast-on to get the length & width I wanted with that limited yardage. (In case you were wondering, it takes a 15-foot tail to cast-on ~150 stitches of this yarn on US 15 needles). I'm still worried that I'll run out of yarn before it's as wide as I want, but I think I can probably compensate with yarn from my stash. One thing about this yarn - it's is SO easy to drop stitches, and I think I've already dropped three or four, at least, so far. But I'm not worried about the holes or ladders - the yarn and the "fabric" it makes is so messy-fringy, I'll just weave in a piece of yarn and tie up the holes, leaving a little tail hangin' and it'll just look like the rest of the scarf.

So, anyway, even though this yarn is pricey and is the epitome of novelty frou-frou, I'm still pretty proud that I visited both yarn stores down there twice, (that's four yarn store visits, people!), and only purchased one skein of yarn.

Gratuitous, touristy gift shop items

socks and shirt for my parents from Big Al's diner

WRV hat for my nephew's 17th birthday

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris

I picked that up at Manteo Booksellers because he's coming to Richmond in October and I had heard he was funny and wanted to see if his books were any good. I've only read part of the first essay so far but so far my review is - eh. Hoping the next ones are better.

A Humbling Gesture

Vernon Wingenroth painting

My sister's mother-in-law wanted me to have this painting by her late husband because, according to my sister, she noticed me admiring some of his artwork after his funeral a month-and-a-half ago. I'm quite humbled by the gesture, and am still trying to formulate the words for my thank you note to her. I haven't yet decided where to put this, as it is in a fairly big frame. It may end up on the mantle. This particular painting is of unusual subject matter, as he has mainly done beach and ocean scenes. I feel blessed to own something he painted.

And thus ends this series on my beach vacation. Whew! Enough already!


Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Before I reveal the real subject of this post, I will lure you in with a beautiful Outer Banks sunset, (or is this a sunrise? I can't remember...) :

[Update: that's a sunset. How do I know? I managed to capture the earth shadow!]

I'm such a cheater, though -- this picture wasn't even taken this year -- it's from last year's vacation. But, it's so pretty, I feel compelled to share it. We did stay at the same house both times, so the view is essentially the same.

The real subject of this post is a sort of before-and-after, through-the-years pictorial. You see, as I've mentioned before, I'm quite fascinated with old, abandoned buildings. And there has been an old, dilapidated building on the drive to and from the Outer Banks for as long as I can remember. So, starting in 2004, I've been stopping along Rt. 158 in Jarvisburg, Currituck County, NC, and taking a few pictures.




Things are really shaping up for this sweet old building.

And what is this place, you ask?

It's the Historic Jarvisburg Colored School -- the oldest African American school in North Carolina, established shortly after the end of the Civil War.

It does my heart good to see it being restored.

I can't wait to see how it looks next year!

***Edited on 4/13/07 to add the following pictures***:

February, 2007

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Vacation 2006 - Part 3: Cape Hatteras Light

***Breaking News*** : Frumpy, out-of-shape, middle-aged woman trudges up 252 steps to top of 12-story structure and her heart does not explode. Alert the media.


Last Thursday we decided to make a half-day trip and drive south to Hatteras island and the town of Buxton, where the lighthouse is located.

But first we drove over to where the lighthouse originally stood for 129 years before it was moved a mile inland in 1999:

Each of those stone blocks is inscribed with the name of one of the original lighthouse keepers.

Dedication to the lightkeepers

Another view of Hatteras light, America's tallest

Lightkeepers cottages

Inscription as one enters the lighthouse

Our group begins the long deathmarch climb to the top

Don't look down!

View of lightkeepers cottages from the top

view from balcony of lantern room, which houses the First-Order Fresnel lens

looking up into lantern room from inside

view of lighthouse shadow from the top

As many times as I've been to the Outer Banks, this was my first time climbing the Hatteras lighthouse, and I do believe it's something everyone should do at least once in their life. I'd do it again, although I think they need to space the landings more frequently. One landing every thirty-two steps is too far apart for this couch potato. You think they'll redesign it for me? ;-)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vacation 2006 - Part 2: I Heart Manteo

A little geography and history to kick off this post:

Manteo, NC is located on Roanoke Island, which is situated in the Albemarle Sound between the North Carolina mainland and the Outer Banks barrier islands.

It was also the home of the first English colony in the New World, established in 1587, and the first English child born in the Americas, Virginia Dare. Those first settlers later disappeared and although there are many theories, no one knows for sure the actual fate of the Lost Colony. Since 1937 Manteo has been hosting an outdoor play every summer dramatizing the story of those first colonists. One of the play's more famous performers was Andy Griffith, very early in his career. Old Ange still makes his home on Roanoke island today.

The Manteo waterfront never fails to charm me whenever I'm there, with its prevalence of Elizabethan and Old World buildings inhabited by wonderful shops and restaurants.

Our rented beach house is located in south Nags Head, so we were within close proximity to the bridge to Roanoke Island, which afforded me the opportunity to go there not once but three times last week.

And here are a few things I saw while there:

House being moved to make way for new construction

Roanoke Island Inn - one of several B&B's in Manteo

North Carolina Maritime Museum


Wanchese Pottery

Manteo Booksellers.
I love this shop.

carving of Sir Walter Raleigh, which is located in front of:

Sir Walter Raleigh Antiques and Outer Banks Quilts

I browsed in that antique store/quilt shop and as I was leaving had a stroke of brilliance and asked the quilt shop proprieter if she knew of anyone in Manteo who sold yarn. Lo and behold, two streets over is a new yarn shop:


Yarn shop owner showing me a bag made from Sugar 'n Creme,
for which she gave me the free pattern.

Same bag knit with Noro
And on the same block is one the coolest ideas for a non-profit organization I've even seen:

Endless Possibilities

Their whole philosophy is win-win-win. They take donated clothes, tear them into strips, and weave them into fabric for handbags, totes, rugs, clogs, wall hangings, pillows, and various other objects that they then sell in their shop, and all the proceeds go to the Outer Banks crisis hotline. And the items they make are just lovely. They also teach weaving classes. Here is a bag my niece made during a class there:

Love those minty-green colors.
And a bag that I purchased for myself.
They leave the shirt buttons right on the fabric strips and weave them right in. Very cool.

On another evening, our group drove over to Manteo and ate dinner at Big Al's, a 1950's-themed diner with Coca-Cola memorabilia covering every square inch of the place. A fun place for kids, for sure, and they even have a gift shop (at the beach? shocking, I know!). I picked up a "Big Al's" t-shirt for my dad, who refers to himself by that same descriptive moniker.

Later that evening we walked around the waterfront, got ice cream for the kids and somehow shrunk them:

Honey, I shrunk my nieces, nephew and their friends!

There are so many other neat things to see and do and show and tell about Manteo, but this post is too long already, so I'll end it here.

Tomorrow -- Vacation 2006 Part 3: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse