Category Archives: Beach Life

Camp OBX 2020 = ONE Single Camper


It’s one crazy summer and midweek in late August veteran camper Jake has had enough. “I’m thinking of driving down for a Kill Devils burger tomorrow. Would love to say a socially distant hello.”

It’s early evening so I counter. “We can do you one better if you like. Stay here. Uncle Donny’s suggestion. Sleep in the pub. On the porch. On the deck. The trampoline (Lewis did that one night). Pitch your tent. Your choice if any of those work for you. And then you might fit in NHPC & Surfin’ Spoon as well. And get cinnamon buns for breakfast ❤️”

He ponders the idea, “Many good options! but I’ve got to be “in class” 8am Thursday.” I remind him that virtual class can pretty much happen anywhere. He agrees but it is the first day of class. He’s in the dark as to what to expect.

Then, “Driving tonight and sleeping out doesn’t sound like a bad idea. How are the bugs?” I send him a photo of the mosquito netting tent and memory foam folding mattress inside already set up, I know he’ll make the right choice.

Jake catches the sunrise on the beach while I make cinnamon buns and more for breakfast. He attends class. We head to Kill Devil’s in separate cars for lunch. Then it’s beach time. It’s a perfect Chamber of Commerce Day.

We leave the beach planning to stop at Kill Devils. NHPC is just that much too far in the wrong direction to even pick up pizza for the drive home and get the day tripper back to Richmond in time for classes on Friday.


I’m in my car just about to pull out of the grassy access at Dowitcher that is town parking for Small Street beach access. “I can’t find my car key.” Jake’s key is literally no where to be found. It’s the kind that only needs to be in proximity to the car to start it but it’s just not anywhere. We retrace our steps. He is confident that he did not put it in his pocket. And if he had the pocket is a very deep one that would have made escape unlikely.

We ask the lifeguard. Jake even tries to find it in the ocean. It’s no where we look. Vanished. Jake calls his mom. She says that Triple AAA will be able to start it. We all know how long it takes Triple AAA to respond so I volunteer to go get Kill Devil’s while Jake car sits. When I get back I find out that Triple AAA cannot help.

Diane has a spare key but cannot afford the time to bring it, she will Fed Ex it overnight.

Jake can barely enjoy his bonus time at camp he’s so vexed at losing the key. During this act Lewis sees my video of the excellent tide pool and they decide bring Felix after nap to play in it. I spy them walking toward Small Street as I return with take out. Opportunity to play at the beach! Jake distance joins while still looking for his key. Later we even check in with the town of Nags Head and advise them that there will be an overnight car at Dowitcher. Then we reason we may as well pack more into the day and step one last time through the original hobbit door at Surfin’ Spoon.

NHPC too is now on the agenda as well as a stop at Jockey’s Ridge for a sunset sprint. And a wrap up moonrise on the beach with a lanterns launch in the distance.


Next morning Jake raises the camp flag and attends his virtual class with an awesome sound side view complete with breakfast while waiting for Fed Ex to deliver the key. We are crushed when the first Fed Ex truck to arrive on our street is the wrong one. “You’re looking for an Express truck,” the driver tells us. We’ll take any truck with the key. Finally it arrives, class is long over so we are good to go get Jake’s car and polish off the day in camp style. Our customary camp hilarity is quite present but I can’t get Jake to put anything on the joke list. “We all need to be here.” He’s right, the joke list requires Martin and Lydia in attendance.

Thanks for holding up camp tradition Jake. 2020 did not defeat us!

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Vince Vaughan’s Got NOTHING On This Guy

sideboard mermaid

The family sideboard, repaired by friend Will Lockhart, adding more stories to its life.

It’s the early summer of 2006, I am meeting my sister Suzanne in Reedville to help clear out the tiny family one story with an open attic cinderblock, no air conditioning, not even a fan cottage (where Donny & I spent our honeymoon) of some faithful furniture so our aunt can put the property on the market. Suzanne claims the dining room table and chairs where countless hours have been spent eating, playing Pig and assorted other games and just generally enjoying life. I am happy with the sideboard that sat nearby and housed the dishes, playing cards, puzzles and such. Neither are heirlooms, just cast offs someone gave to our grandmother to furnish the cottage. But they’re priceless heritage to us chock full of family history and merriment. Suzanne and I meet, load our respective vehicles and part ways. And then this happens. (As documented ten years ago in my first blog on LiveJournal)

150 miles from home our vintage Suburban opts to mix my life up a bit and blows a tire. The car may be old but the tires are the best and so it is only an annoyance not a bad scene.

It’s 10 o’clock at night on a fast moving interstate, I’m not getting out to investigate. I am thinking I’ve dropped the transmission. I need to call D, Triple A, R who lives a stone’s throw away. My cell phone is quite literally squeezing the last of it’s battery juice into performance. Where’s the charger? In the car I usually drive. Where’s the extra battery? At home.

No panic. I call D, babbling the details before the phone dies. He springs into action and calls the cavalry. As I wait, I envision a night in Richmond. No good. I MUST get home. I power up the phone and call home. The line’s busy. I shut off the phone. 15 minutes later I try again. D answers. Someone come get me I implore. He’s on his way, so is R and Triple A.

3o minutes later R pulls up. He looks at the car. He starts the car. He looks under the car. Flat tire, he proclaims. We dig for the spare. We cannot find the jack. Triple A arrives. He announces the spare flat, too flat for Fix-A-Flat which I do have. The men discuss tire options. All involve the next day. I MUST GET HOME.

100 miles free, $3 a mile after that Triple A offers. I’ll take it. R shoves off after lending me his phone to call D and send him back home. I’ll be along I tell him. Triple A and I go for gas, coffee, and his buddy fresh from breaking up a bar room cat fight. This is gonna be a fun ride. Do you mind if we smoke? They’re nice guys, what can I say?

Imagine riding with Vince Vaughan uncensored easing back with a case of Bud Lite and you’ve got Triple A Buddy. We discover he used to work for the family electrical business. We compare notes on everyone. I am full of discovery.

rocking chair

Scored a pair of these rocking chairs too. Many a daylight hour spent in them on the cinderblock patio. Night time not so much. Mosquitoes.

By the time we get to Chesapeake TAB is sure we have kidnapped him. Only for his good buddy is he along for the ride, but how much farther? He’s not mad, he’s just VV, ready for some Mermaid Topless Bar action. We tell him we are not even in North Carolina yet. He has been to the OBX before. He has forgotten how long the ride through Currituck County is. At 3AM everyone’s agony is over. Triple A from having to deal with no dash lights, TAB from an eternal trip and me from the fumes of death, even though they did have the windows down.

Who needs a limo when you can get a kicking tow truck ride.

And the epilogue.

So I burned the tread right off a brand new tire. What did you do? I’ve been asked. Dunno. Never drifted off the road, stayed pretty much within the speed limit (read pretty much generously), not really that much weight in the car. It carried a heavier load when I took a bunch of stuff aka mostly magazines to Mom’s attic for Suzanne when she was moving west.

Also it turns out the spare was only low on air. Perfectly good to use. I knew Donny kept things right, but who was I to argue that night. Anyway it wasn’t a great spot to be changing a tire. And I never would have gotten to spend 170 miles with Vince Vaughan.

It was my $300 night to remember.

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Ocracoke Delivers


Ocrababes selfie. Jennifer Garrish, Becki Rea, Lora Whitehurst, Liz Teague, moi.

“Wanna go to Ocracoke?” Friend Becki Rea is tempting me with a trip a few weeks down the road. We’re sitting at the bar in Manteo listening to Bill, Doug and Tommy entertain us. Donny’s basketball buddy and his wife have taken over the waterfront eatery, Avenue Grill, and he decides that support all the way around is the perfect evening out. Lora and Ben are a few stools down from us. They recommend a few items which we order. It’s a casual fun evening. Becki explains that friend Liz Teague, she, Lora and I can make a girls’ trip of it. Twenty-four hours. I might just be able to squeeze that in between work commitments. I’m game.

This past Saturday morning sees the four of us head out in Becki’s new Ford to our destination. Hatteras Island is a mess from endless rain water dumped by Bonnie, the storm that wouldn’t quit, for days over the entire Outer Banks. We practically pontoon through pond after pond. There is more traffic headed north than south and we have to yield to most. Finally we reach Hatteras village, make a stop for water, and get in the ferry line. Luck is with us. We are the last car on an otherwise not full ferry. They’re just keeping to the schedule.

The crossing is such a switchback of turns due to so much shoaling that it takes more time than it should. At last we’re actually on Ocracoke. Liz has a good friend who offered her guest cottage aka the overflow for all family things vintage for the evening. We find her house, meet delightful Jennifer and unload. Our little abode is just the right size for the four of us. One couch, two single air mattresses, a foam padding pallet plus two desks, a dresser, boxes of vinyl lps and the room is maxed out. We are shoe horned in and could care less. Bathroom and shower are but a few steps away in the main house.

Jen, married to native Wayne (the main street on the island sports their surname) as well as being a career upper class level science teacher at the island’s one school, hands us our entry buttons (although I never saw anyone check, everything is that casual) and the five of us are off to experience the festival. It’s within walking distance as is most everything, but still golf carts are everywhere. The island favored mode of transportation, along with bicycles and shanks’ mare.

We start out mostly together and pretty much remain that way dividing and conquering occasionally and flowing back together with ease. The festival is low key, fun, and full of high caliber treats. The Green Grass Cloggers start us off. From there between two backyard venues, within short walking distance of each other, we hang with the Oak Grove String Band, Lipbone Redding, De Tierra Caliente, The Bucket Brothers. Every other person we see is from Dare County. Our county is well represented. Friends send their love to Donny. I send him a photo of the house to rent that would be perfect for his porch style listening.

We eat lunch that we buy from food vendors and sit on the deck of the Thai Moon (they are closed choosing to be a food vendor for the afternoon) to the tunes of the Blue Eyed Bettys and Maggie and Cassie MacDonald. We get beer and Lora and Liz sandwiches from The School Road Deli. Lora gets the Vice-Principal. I vow to get Laurie McKay an author gig at the school. Her books will fit right in and lunch at the deli is a must for her. We explore the artisan offerings. I buy a requisite t-shirt and we decide to mosey back to the homestead for a shower before dinner and the evening shows.

Lora and I opt for the outside shower. It’s a cobbled affair I fall in love with. Tiny, it sits right beside a little canal, Jen realistically calls a ditch, that flows to the sound when the wind blows the water the right way. Inside the shower there is barely enough light to see snakes and spiders that probably love it as much as me. I don’t care. I go first to shoo any visitors out for Lora. I only find a few small slugs climbing the walls of the bathtub you must stand in. Refreshed I dash across the yard in my towel to dress in the slightly larger cottage.

Donny’s bag of pistachios that he tossed at me as I’m leaving home work well for an appetizer. We nibble on cinnamon buns and chocolate chip cookies I have managed to bake before leaving home. Dessert out of the way, upon Jen’s recommendation, we walk to the Ocracoke Oyster Company for dinner. We figure everything in town is going to be packed. Becki orders a Mule. Our waitress doesn’t know it but after Becki explains the simple drink she says no problem. We all fall in line except for Jen, who is our DD and also has her stellar teacher image to maintain.  We declare the Mules perfect and before we leave have another round.

We walk back to the house to get the car. Jen needs to check on the mom and pop motel in town that she and Wayne own and it’s right next to the evening venue where Kaira Ba is going to be performing. They’re just getting started. We all begin standing together near the front but as the evening progresses Liz and I inch even closer while Becki, Jen and Lora move in the opposite direction. They want the full experience, we want the Mosh Pit rhythm. Liz has been instructed by Steve to check the group out as potential for the Salvage Station. Almost immediately, Liz and I look at each other and grin, perfect for Asheville. Every member is a dynamic force. They blend well. Senagal native Diali Cisokcho with his 22 string kora is magical. And the universal theme of love is evident in every piece. We are mesmerized.

Show over, we drift off to find the others. Our next stop is the community center where Michael Stanwood is performing. You could not find two more diametrically opposed acts. Michael works alone occasionally accompanied by David Tweedie but the show is his. He’s miked but he really doesn’t need to be. He might just have performed the song of the festival with his, “I’m Breaking Up With Myself.” It’s just so Ocrafolk. The perfect way to end our evening.

Back home we organize our bedding and fall into various states of sleep that bring on morning all too soon. Jen has a pot of rich coffee ready. That paired with the balance of the cinnamon buns and we’re all awake. We pack up and have just enough time to take a quick trip to the beach in Jen’s four wheel drive. It’s smack on high tide, still the beach is wide and beautiful. We soak it all in and decide to stop at the Fig Tree Bakery and Deli and Sweet Tooth for take out breakfast to be picked up on our way out of town. We hug Jen goodbye after she lets up steal some mint (it won’t grow if you don’t steal it) which is overtaking her garden. She loads us up with homemade fig preserves. A better new friend would be hard to find.

We stop for our breakfast and aim for the ferry. There is a line. They’re loading. There is an RV in front of us. Some cars have gone around it. We try and are stopped. Then we are waved forward. Literally last vehicle on. We rock. Liz texts Jen our success. Goodbye Ocracoke. When Liz asks me what impressed me the most about the festival, I say everything and then pause. While that’s true, I’m most impressed that between my last visit three decades ago and now not much has changed. Sure businesses have come and gone and growth has happened. But to the outside observer, it’s still the same quaint neighborly island I remember. Were a golden opportunity such as the one that brought us to our beloved home on Colington Island open up I’d move there in a heartbeat.




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Filed under Beach Life, Ocracoke Island NC

Culper the Culprit

giphy culper

Coquina Beach with perfect waves and his parents home at last make for a happy pup. He’s in the right family, already a natural surfer.

The road from puppy, to pup, to grown up dog (does this even happen) is fraught with tales of mischief, wide eyed innocence and general mayhem as any caretaker can tell you. The stories are endless, most hilarious later, much later, but at the time not quite so much.

And so I enter the world of pup care for young Culper named after General George Washington’s highly successful spy ring. This group was so covert and shrouded in secrecy to protect the members that Washington himself did not know they names of all the spies. To this day no one knows for sure the name of female Agent 355. The name perfectly fits our sneaky clever pup, although autocorrect culprit possibly fits even better through his growing months.

exploded dog toy

How innocent is that face.

It is while his parents are on vacation that things get interesting. I am called in to pinch hit for the full time caretakers. I enter the house to find an explosion. A toy explosion. How many pieces of fiber fill can be in one small dog toy? Apparently when shredded apart by pup teeth the answer is countless. I know that his caretakers are taking excellent care of him but also have lives and demanding jobs and so I have already decided to take him on a field trip even before I walk in on the explosion. But Culper won’t get in my car. I can lift him in but not being really sure how the field trip is going to play out anyway I opt out.

The backyard will have to do to run off some energy. I am in the porch area stowing my phone to be ready to frolic with Mr. Energy. I don’t see him. But I figure that he is around the corner digging up plants, a favorite pasttime. Actually no, he is not around the corner digging up plants. He has spied a way out and escaped. I have visions of my charge running onto busy Colington Road, or just running free. Panic is setting in. I call Donny all the while calling his name and running toward the front of the house where I find Mr. Culprit investigating whatever in the side yard. I breathe a sigh of relief and lure him to me with apple bits I have in my pocket to reel him in when yard time is over.

broken fence

Freedom trail. Photo credit Donny Ball

Later Donny comes over to repair the fence, a feat unto itself since it was not attached to the house and at that only held up by imagination. It’s getting dark, cold and lack of all but the basic tools challenge this simple job. And rocks in the ground impede any deep digging for the post so Donny Rube Goldberg’s the entire repair using leftovers from Robert’s outside shower construction to create a triangle support system.

My next call of duty reveals plant parts scattered everywhere. Caretaker Ezra tells me that yes, everyday is a different disaster. (He sort of forgot to tell me that the fence was already downed by Mr. Busy. And that he too, temporarily, lost The Kid. “I panicked,” he tells me later. “Lewis would’ve killed me if anything happened to his dog.”) I reason that this pup needs some serious grown up dog chew toys and head to PetSmart for some destruction proof Kongs. They do the trick. He is well behaved the rest of parental vacation.

And then comes the coup de grace. At least in this dog’s life. In my opinion. So far. His parents are home. All is well. I’m asked to go put him to bed. No problem. It’s a short car ride or jog to their abode but I’d do it anyway even if the trip were longer. I arrive, let myself in and greet the happy pup. We head off to the bedroom where disaster has occurred. As Hilarey later describes, “It looked like a huge pile of confetti.” I do not have an incriminating photo but trust me one photo could not have covered the scope. A tasty paperback had been torn page by page. Thoroughly devoured.

genius of dogs

Culper digested, well almost.

Valerie has brought the pup home earlier in the day from his outing on the beach and after seeing how hungry he was for reading material elects not to put him to bed because she doesn’t want him to get into any more trouble. Surely she forgot that this pup, this adorable pup, will not get off the bed without help. He can. He just won’t. He’s afraid of most heights. He won’t get off of the couch. Anything with the slightest height to it. Not for love or food. Maybe Val thinks that Culper has unlocked the Get Down From Heights achievement badge. Nope. Not yet. He makes a few exceptions but the reward has to be high. Like a ride in the Prius for an outing.

So I know that putting him on the bed for a nap will not involve any more reckless recreation. I leave him surrounded by his literature litter. I would have made a photo attempt and cleaned up but couldn’t find the light. And what, you ask out of mild curiosity, might have been his choice of literature. Why, The Genius of Dogs of course.







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Filed under Animal Antics, Beach Life

Wanna Go For a RUN?

with lydia

Suzanne, Lydia (future figure skating star already in training) and me.

“We’re going to have a marathon!” my friend Lynda Wood grins at me, “but you can’t tell anyone yet.” The year is 2006, Lynda is the force behind the newly formed Outer Banks Education Foundation. DCEF’s then director, Amy Montgomery, has pitched this money making idea to the board. They love it even knowing how much work it will involve to get it in place. “We are still dialoguing with town officials and all the other players,” Lynda wraps up her secret. I have absolutely no hesitation that she will convince everyone to get on board and of course that is exactly what happens.

A marathon event intrigues me ever since seeing Frank Shorter win in 1972. I happen to have our newly acquired first ever color television turned on, actually it is such a novelty that we have it turned on more times than not. And there he is all alone turning into olympic stadium running passed cheering crowds that line the street. I am hooked. That looks like such a thrilling moment. But of course marathon running is for Olympians and their like, never mere mortals such as myself.

Until my dental hygienist can not contain her excitement as she cleans my teeth. “Right here in our own back yard,” she is so excited. I ponder. I consider. She is a runner. Me not so much. But wait I do run with Stephanie and the girls on Saturday morning. In her intense Beach Pump class, think bootcamp, we are put through our paces including running on the beach.

I can do this, I reason. But I need a training partner. I buttonhole Suzanne Deiss, fellow Beach Pump attendee as well as every other class the girls at the rec center offer. I’ve known Suzanne a long time. Jackie Sue was in my swimming classes. But I don’t know her that well. Still I catch her in a private moment and throw out my idea. She doesn’t take long to answer. We’re a team.

keep out me runhill run hill marker castle We are confident but have absolutely no clue about what we’re doing, and so we tell no one for weeks. Just in case we decide to quit, or worse fail. And then one day in class Denise DePedro point blank asks me if we’re training for the marathon. We fess up and now realize that we’ve got to make good on our intent. There’s no turning back.

We are so green in the beginning that we don’t even know about the sweeper. We think that if worse comes to worse we can walk the entire way. But we learn that the sweeper will pick you up if you’re too slow. Great. Now we have to really train seriously. We read books, I cruise the internet. We make a plan. And along the way some pretty hilarious things happen. As Jackie Sue, Suzanne’s daughter, tells her mom, “Mom when you go running with Sandy I never know when you’ll be back.” She may as well have added, “Or what mischief you’ll get into.”

She’s right. Most any adventure with me is a SandyBeachGirl experience. One time during our training we’re at the Youth Center having a water break when a guy drives up and puts down his window. “You’re SandyBeachGirl, right?” I look at him. How does he know that I ask. “Your pony tails.” Oh those, well I do aim to entertain. More on this particular SBG adventure soon.

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Filed under Beach Life, Life, Running


jeff and gang

Jeff Galloway seminar April 2006 Dare County Beach Youth Center

“We can walk 26.2 miles,” I tell my workout class friend Suzanne begging her to join me in training for the inaugural OBX Marathon scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend 2006. Good friend that she is, she agrees and we begin what proves to be eight months of work, silliness and success. Neither of us know a thing about training for a marathon but we exercise every weekday together and run Saturday mornings in Stephanie’s Beach Pump, the original OBX bootcamp. We’re not worried, we’ll figure it out as we go along. Still at first we don’t tell a single soul what we’ve cooked up. Digging around in the archives of my LiveJournal posts I come up with this post shortly after the start of our training journey.

Suzanne Deiss and I are officially training for the first ever OBX Marathon. A trip to the dentist and a chat while getting my teeth cleaned (okay a listen) had me agreeing with Caryn. Imagine the T-shirt!

At first Suzanne and I were going to walk it (how hard could that be?) But pride got in the way and we decided that at the very least jogging (which is my form of running) would get us there before dark maybe and look a lot better.

We did some research and started training. Imagine our surprise when we found out that Olympian, Jeff Galloway, whom we both had discovered independently (me online, Suzanne in a running magazine, and had really liked his approach) was coming to the Youth Center, our home away from home, to do a workshop.

And so we spent today getting tips from and being evaluated by running guru Jeff. We are floating across the finish line.

At the workshop, we learn that Jeff, an avid coffee drinker, is less than enthused with his morning java. I call Donny and he rises to the occasion promptly. He brings Jeff some real coffee and also takes a group photo for us. Jeff is awesome. He give us permission, no urges us, to incorporate a run walk time pattern into our system. He explains that switching out muscle groups keeps any one set from getting too fatigued. Brilliant. Suzanne and I are sold. Future posts will take you along on our adventures but today is about Jeff, our savior.

Jeff will be back on the Outer Banks in a few weeks and I urge you to sign up for his course. I can tell you from first hand experience, thanks to John Gillam who made all the arrangements including having Jeff and his amazing wife Barbara as house guests, that your investment will not be wasted. John & Muffin even arranged for us all to have cocktails at their home with Jeff and Barbara. Circumstances saw only six enjoying this lovely intimate evening which actually turned out to be incredible fun. Casually hanging out with such a down to earth icon. It just doesn’t get much better than that.



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Filed under Beach Life, blog, Running

Yo, I GOT This!

cat“Ma’am you cannot be up there!” I’m in Harris-Teeter trying to get our favorite Liberte lemon yogurt from its top shelf banishment. The only way to reach it is to climb on the very sturdy bottom of the refrigeration door. The stock is so high up even Donny cannot reach to the back of that shelf. But I’m careful. I’ve learned my lesson about unreliable top shelf ventures so documented in a LiveJournal entry that recently surfaced.

I went on my daily Thanksgiving store run this morning to knock off the latest list which included one more glass pie dish.

All that were left were green glass ones. I don’t care that they are in that designer gal’s line, I did not want a green pie dish. It is not a good pie dish color even if you are making a key lime pie, which I am not. Resignedly I put the dish in my buggy but then happily spy clear glass pie dishes on a top shelf.

Excellent! Just what I want. But I cannot reach the top shelf without stepping on the edge of the bottom shelf. That works except for the fact that on top of the stack of pie dishes is a set of three glass mixing bowls nested together under shrink wrap. The entire stack is just a bit too tall for me to lift off the bowls and get a pie dish even with the aid of the bottom shelf.

Of course there is no one around to help. On the opposite shelf are boxes of dishes that look sturdy enough to stand on. I move one in place and carefully lift off the set of bowls. Perfect…until the set starts slipping…right out of my hands.

This happens in excruciatingly slow motion.

puppiesI have time, or so it seems, to consider options to make the save. I want to leap off of the box, snatch the flying bowls midair, and neatly land on my feet. I do not feel this will happen quite as I envision and thus abandon the plan. I really do not want the bowls to hit the floor but they pay me no mind and land with an extremely loud crash.

I jump off of the box as two sales ladies immediately appear from around the corner asking if I am okay. Sure, if you don’t count chagrin and mortification. The bowls are smashed beyond recognition but luckily 99.9% of the glass is still under shrink wrap.

I apologize as I hastily return the borrowed box to its shelf. The sales ladies are too concerned that I am okay to care about the box, the bowls or what I was looking for. Of course I am okay. I only dropped my dignity.

I woefully look up at the out of reach pie dishes. The ladies are busy cleaning up. I decide to stick with the wrong, wrong, wrong green dish and move on to look at CD players. So okay the green dish is not completely wrong. It is after all a glass pie dish.

kittenCD player acquired I suddenly think about the button batteries I have finally remembered to get for our clock army. They are back on the pie dish aisle. I must go back. It has taken me forever to finally complete this task despite numerous notes to myself and every reminder I could come up with, including leaving the dead clocks by the back door where everyone got to look at their sad faces for months on end. The batteries were my first stop in the store and as they were much too small to put into the cart, I had been carrying them around in my hand. When I decided to tackle the pie dish issue I put the batteries in a baking dish. I could go back to the watch counter for more but that would leave the baking dish batteries homeless.

Bravely I return. The ladies are gone as is all the evidence of my clumsiness. And there, is the path I have cleared to the clear pie dishes. I put the green one back, get a clear one, scoop up the patiently waiting batteries and go to check out.

At the check out counter the cashier asks if I want a warranty for my CD player. It’s only $7.99. I never use them, but I feel a tiny bit bad about the smashed bowls. Still I have gotten the right pie dish free and clear. Well almost, I buy the warranty.

So I get busted at The Teeter. My new strategy becomes to reach what I can every time I shop. Our supply stays steady but low. And then I see a different stock clerk using the same refrigeration door step plan as me. Yo! I’m back in business.

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Filed under Animal Antics, Beach Life, blog

BO-JA-GI Wrap SandyBeachGirl Style

sea bassIf you’re Korean or have ever watched Korean drama or just in general know a lot about Korean culture then you probably know more about Bojagi wrap then me, but I’ve taken it to heart. Long before I had the idea to wrap my art in custom printed Bojagi wrap, which is my own spin off of this honored Korean centuries old tradition, I used old tablecloths or vintage fabrics to wrap gifts.

happy birthday bojagiI got that notion from watching Korean historical dramas that Emily introduced me to, Dong Yi and then Yi San. Everyone always wrapped and tied with a tidy knot any foods, a gift, almost anything that needed transporting in a covered manner in a serviceable cloth. I was intrigued and hooked. I did this for a short spell when we joined friends for dinner or we were gifting someone but everyone thoughtfully kept returning the clothes I used. That seemed to defeat the purpose of an effortless but recyclable wrapping and so I pondered a better way.

The idea of sponge block printing on scraps of fabric came to me as the perfect solution. I create letters for a message and shapes for accents and voila an instant Bojagi wrapping. And rather than knot the material I use package string to keep everything in place. Less material needed and less bulky to ship or transport.

Bojagi is the ideal name for my fabric wrappers because my brother used to call me Ja being unable to pronounce Sandra. Or rather JaJa which got shortened to Ja. And so there I am right smack in the middle of Bojagi.

bojagi wrapAny customer who orders a major piece of art from my Etsy store, SandraBallART, automatically gets a custom Bojagi. For littler pieces I’ll do the same but I add in a small fee. Any local folks that order art as a gift get a custom Bojagi wrap as part of the package.

Bojagi wraps SandyBeachGirl style are fun to make and stress free. It’s an outer wrapping so what if a little paint dribbles on the cloth or the letters are a bit hard to read because the paint bled. It’s Bojagi art. Recycled. Reclaimed. Renewed!

And feel free to jump on board the SandyBANDS express. Make wraps with your own unique style for fun or sale.  Start your own Bojagi business. You are so welcome to post your comments, photos or links here. We’re all on this planet together. Let’s take care of each other.

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Filed under Art, Beach Life

Camp OBX 2015


Mimicking the pose of three first flight witnesses. Jake (16 year old Johnny Moore), Martin (lumber merchant Cephus Brinkley) and me (surfman Will Dough) Senior Camp 2015. Photo credit Lydia.

In 2006 Emily & Marty need summer help with then six year old Martin & three year old Lydia. Being more fun to call it camp than anything else it quickly it became officially Camp OBX envied by many but attended by a very select few.

Not far from the beginning, Donny’s nephew Jake and his family, plus even more of Donny’s family, were visiting and after Jake got back home to Richmond he decided that camp time was needed. Taking the bull by the horns he told, not asked, his parents that he wanted to attend, applied and was accepted. He’s now in his sixth year and the only non-grand to be a full rights camper. He always tries to schedule his camp time with Martin and Lydia but occasionally he’s been the only camper in residence.


Beach time with the teens brought this no zoom needed friend to my towel side.

Three years ago the younger crop of grands began getting their own special camp time. As much as all of our campers love and cherish their parents, and while family camp time is unique and awesome, as seven year old Edward, now a three year camp veteran, states, “It’s not camp when you’re here, Mom.”

Campers have learned to read, swim, surf, and ride a horse all at camp. Campers have seen turtles hatch, the inside of the Wright Brothers Monument, and almost seen the moon rise at the top of Bodie Island lighthouse (got halfway up to be thwarted by lightning in the area). Campers have made their first mini-golf hole-in-one and one lucky camper even got just the right one to win a free game (Professor Hackers ftw), gotten their first hourly paying job (thanks Val and My Little Sunshine) and mastered the art of wearing flip flops while at camp. Campers have camped out under the stars, seen shooting stars, and watched babies become Virginia Dare stars at the Lost Colony. Those are only some highlights. The list is pretty much endless. And FUN is always the operative word.

We got our first official t-shirt this season, thanks to the Desjardins family, Marty specifically who came up with the idea. It reads “Grandma Sandy What Can We Do That’s FUN?” This now much repeated phrase was started by grand Sebastian trying to get me to play Portal without actually coming out and saying it, since he has limited screen time. His clever reasoning being that if the idea comes from Grandma Sandy allowances are made. It took me longer than the rest of the family to figure out his coded message.

2015 marks our first pretty much non-stop camping the entire traditional school break summer and it really was, as Jake told his parents, the best year yet!

martin camperlydia camperjake campersea bass camper


edward camper benji camper zach camper marie camperpj rising camper

The Nifty Nine. Martin 14, Lydia 12, Jake 17, Sebastian 6, Edward 7, Benji 7, Zach 5, Marie 3, PJ 2. Martin & Lydia belong to daughter Emily & Marty. Sebastian belongs to son Donald & Terri. Edward & Marie belong to son Stephen & Sarah. Benji, Zach & PJ belong to son Andrew & Jenn. Jakes belongs to Donny’s brother Robert & Diane.




Filed under Beach Life, Camp OBX, family

Hanging Around UP in the AIR

sunset park

Closing out 2014. Sunset over the sound behind the ropes course.

Our new favorite place to play is Abby & Brad Carey’s First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head. Into its second season it is fast becoming a must do for every Outer Banks vacationer and local.

While this is definitely Abby & Brad’s vision (Brad has helped build a lot of courses) I still maintain that without the guidance of then Nags Head planner awesome Liz Teague they would still be dialoging with town officials. She helped them cut through the paper trail in record time every step of the way.

rope and tape gone

Emily takes on one of our favorite challenges while Donald and Martin look on. For this one you had to get back on if you fell off because your lanyard was in the middle, but no fear, its gone. A first year element only. Glad we got to play on it. I did fall off my first time through but finally got back on. It was kind of tricky because you end up hanging below the loops with no good hand holds to grab. Still I wondered why I even fell the second time I took it on. It really was easy.

The course is a sixty feet tower of challenges formed in three almost circular levels. At least one section of the first level is mandatory, that is after also mandatory flight school. Then for two hours you can go on any section as many times as you like. Every level has two sections with seven individual elements each separated by a wooden platform built around the support pilings. Only one person at a time allowed on an element and only two people on a platform. The sections are labeled after hurricane categories. Tropical storm, Category 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

I have been on all the sections save category 5 at the top. The hammock and I have yet to meet and the guy wire tight rope. The entire time you are on a section you are tethered to a five hundred pound load bearing strap that is locked in place on a lead wire. If you fall off of an element you just pull yourself along until you get to the platform. There are a couple of elements where you cannot do this because of the way the lanyard and the challenges intersect but they’re not too difficult to get back up on and keep going. After each level you zip line to the middle where you are untethered by a guide with the key. Then on to your next set of seven challenges.

zip to the end

Guest at Family Camp OBX for a week Henry zip line rides between sections.

My personal nemesis is was an element called Pirate Crossing. It’s two loose ropes that cross in the middle of the element. The point is to hold onto the rope while you slide your feet along a wire, switch to the second rope in the middle and continue. The first time I tried it I kept the rope too slack and while I didn’t fall off I used a lot of unnecessary energy staying the course. This time I stalled about even trying the level with Pirate Crossing but brother-in-law Robert, my climbing partner, urged me on. Turned out it is really easy once you get the hang of it. Speaking of Robert I’m so excited for him. He was only going to do the first level elements because of his compromised ankle, but we ended up doing all but those on Cat 5. And he aced every one.

the park new

Brand new not even yet open park 2014. Those buoy things above my head, my downfall this year. I refused to use the guy wire and just could. not. get. my leg around the buoy and hold on. Everything was that much too far apart. But I’ll figure it out.

Bested the Pirate Crossing but fell off of Braided Argile on Category 4. That section ends with hand over hand rings which I have yet to really try. I love monkey bars but these rings are thicker in dimension and smoother. Of course I could try and see if I can make any progress. Hanging by the first two is as far as I’ve pushed myself.

Playing on the course this past week was lots of fun because we had folks on almost every level and every section. Words of encouragement from any one of us were constantly floating from above and below and even the covered viewers deck where some of our party chose to hang out. The added elements of a stiff breeze and people unexpectedly juggling the course as they took on their personal challenges only upped the stakes for success.

The view is amazing, the vegetation below in the wetlands is lush and green with beautiful water flowers adding in color. From sea to sound the panorama is yours for the looking, that is unless you’re busy tackling a challenge. Or unless you’re son Lewis who likes to go through with his eyes closed.


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Filed under Beach Life, family