Anno’s children books


It’s difficult to get rid of Anno’s books.  Mitsumasa Anno, a Japanese teacher turned artist, has a series of children’s books, no text, but amazingly detailed illustrations. “Anno’s Italy” and “Anno’s U.S.A” were favorites in Jenny’s childhood books.


Anno’s illustrations are  filled with real scenes, the plains of the Midwest or the streets of New York City.  Fields in Tuscany or a piazza in an Italian small town.   Small vignettes frequently represent iconic sculpture or paintings.  Can you find “Franklin flying a kite” or Michangelo “designing a sculpture?”





Here dwell together still two men of note
Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still the game’s afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo:
England is England yet, for all our fears—
Only those things the heart believes are true.

A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
As night descends upon this fabled street:
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.

Vincent Starrett



Sherlock Holmes is never far away. I think my addiction started in the 1970s. There was always some copy of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories on my night stand. Frequently a facsimile of the Strand with Sidney Piaget illustrations. For several years I was a member of The Baker Street Irregulars and received their journal. I have dozens of books dating from this period, various editions of the Conan Doyle stories and novels, the largest being “The Annotated Sherlock Holme;” imitations, pastiche style works; the films of; the art of; a cookbook, Victorian crime; the rivals of; the possibility of  new Holmes books seems endless. Some are serious criticism by scholars of the canon; others are best sellers.


I recently watched “The Seven Percent Solution,” (1976) based on the best selling book by Nicholas Meyer. Holmes, in a solid performance by Nicol Williamson, has not had a case to occupy his racing brain. A seven percent solution of cocaine has filled the void but results in all to real and fearful hallucinations. Loyal Doctor Watson (Robert Duvall) with Mycroft’s help leads Holmes to Vienna and Sigmund Freud (Alan Atkin) for a cure. Hyponosis helps. Holmes then involves Watson and Freud in an international kidnapping case, Lola Devereaux (Vanessa Redgrave); and of course a bit of  Professor Moriarity (Laurence Olivier). It’s a fast paced twist on elements from Doyle’s writing. Still enjoyable after 40 years.


My most recent Sherlock Holmes read was “The Great Detective: the amazing rise and immortal life of Sherlock Holmes,” by Zach Dundas. As a kid, Dundas read and reread the Holmes stories. He asks, “why has Holmes taken a 125 year grip on popular culture?” Scholarly analysis, pastiche writings, movies, tv, theatre, the arts, comics and advertisements — Holmes’ is everywhere. Dundas even explores more “porn” like blogs on the internet.


He writes about Gillette, Rathbone, Irons, Cumberbach, Downey — each has left an imprint on Sherlock. Illustrator Sidney Paget, for instance, branded Holmes with a deerstalker and Inverness cape. William Gillette added the curve calabash pipe on the NY stage.


Visit London and then visit the Holmes rooms — 221b Baker Street — at the Sherlock Holmes Pub on Northumberland Avenue, near London’s Charing Cross Station. On my last trip to London, I wanted to take the Sherlock Holmes tour but didn’t have the time. The appeal of Sherlock Holmes is in part due to this world Doyle created. The Victorian rooms, detailed, eccentric, mysterious. And the city, London, the mist, rain, Hanson cabs, trains, alley ways, and wharves. We are seduced.

Holmes is not himself without Watson. He is a friend, foil, and sidekick, we see Holmes through Watson’s eyes.

Dundas analysis is rich, sometimes new, but often familiar, a place we’ve been, a place we will visit again.

Last night I was looking for a movie to watch on my I-pad. “Mr. Holmes.” (2015) Why not? Holmes (Ian McKellen) has retired, suffers from dementia, raises bees, travels to Japan to get jelly made from the prickly ash, befriends Roger, the son of his housekeeper, is trying to write a final story. It’s an engaging movie.

As Vincent Starrett wrote “two men of note who never lived so can never die.” The Holmes story continues, grows, and twists. I’m hooked.



Movie Critics


I have a number of collections of movie reviews by classic film critics like James Agee, Pauline Kael, Robert Ebert, Gene Siskel, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Vincent Canby, Bosley Crowther, Richard Corliss, Rex Reed.  I frequently read their reviews on the website, “Rotten Tomatoes.”  Usually that’s after reviewing the film on  IMDb, (Internet Movie Database).

When I took film courses at Boston College, they were taught by a young New Yorker, Manny Grossman.  He was hired by the English Department to teach several film courses.  Before classes, I would read whatever commentary and reviews available.  It was limited in the 1960s.  Manny was only a few years older than me,  got married my sophomore year, the same year Diane and I walked the aisle.  With our mutual interest in film we double dated rather frequently, a movie and dinner.   A standing joke was “who was better prepared for class” — I watched the film(s) but also read whatever history, commentary or critical reviews were available.

In the early 1970s, Manny was teaching at a community college in New York.  We may have been in mail contact a few times but what a surprise, we met in Soho, lower Manhattan, on I several weekends.  Wonder where he is today?


I just finished another film book.  Peter Biskind’s “Gods and Monsters: thirty years of writing on film and culture from one of America’s most incisive writers .” (2004)   I love his introduction, “My name is Peter Biskind, and I am a recovering celebrity journalist. Which is to say, I started my career during the anti-Vietnam War movement of the sixties as a political activist with a general interest in culture and a particular interest in films, and more or less ended it — or at least a lengthy phase of it — in the late nineties, writing about movie stars for Premier magazine.”

Biskind came of age as a film and culture writer in the same period I became a film fan.  He writes about the “movie brats” — George Lucas and  Steven Spielberg — and other directors of the period — Stanley Kubrick, Arthur Penn, Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman and Woody Allen who challenged the Hollywood model and created a new American cinema.

The essays explore specific films, trends, personalities, including producers and agents.  What amazes me is how these critics have a detailed recall of scenes, dialogue, and other cinemagraphic elements.  And their ability to compare film to film.  As I reread these film books, my Netflix list keeps growing.

Biskind’s first essay explores Eli Kazan’s “On the Waterfront.”  In 1950s,  Kazan was a “friendly witness” before the House Un-American Activities Committee.  He gave names.  As I’ve previously written, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando)  “squeals” on the waterfront hoods.  Politics, anti-communism and film.


I was intrigued that Biskind reviewed science fiction movies in his “War of the Worlds” chapter.  I never thought of them as  leftist, conservative, or centrist.  Do we place our trust in the federal government or the military?   I’ll watch “The Thing,” “Them,” “Forbidden Planet,” and “The Day the Earth stood Still” through a different lens.

I’ll watch ” Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, if only to listen to the Bob Dylan music track


I was surprised to find articles on the TV series, the “Holocaust”  and Stanley Karnow’s “Vietnam: a television history.” I believe “Vietnam” going to be rebroadcast.    Although it’s usually considered balanced, Biskind finds it “a great many facts, little analysis and much waffling. . . Karnow has a surprisingly rudimentary grasp of politics.” I’d like to rewatch.


Biskind writes about the theoretical unpinnings of some critics. Andrew Sarris was in the forefront of the “auteur” movement, the director was the “artist,” the auteur who created a body of film.  These critics discovered Hollywood directors like Ford, Wilder, Wyler, Cukor, Hawks, Houston.  No longer Hollywood hacks, these directors were artists.  Articles were written; books were published.  Pauline Kael was in a different camp.  Biskind labels her approach “eclecticism.”  She had no specific theory, but would draw on many; she had no formal standards, her reviews were personal.

Biskind writes about George Lucas’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the  “Star Wars” empire — an anniversary this year.   Children’s movie lands were back; but there were political overlays.  At the same time Steven Spielberg was creating the Indiana Jones films — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Temple of Doom.”  Hollywood would never be the same.


Biskind also wrote, “Easy Rider, Raging Bulls: how the sex-drugs–and rock ‘n roll generation saved Hollywood.”  I have the book and a video based on the book, so I’ll continue with Biskind later.






Going Native


Several years ago we were having dinner at Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville.  In conversation we learned that Jeff Hamilton, the owner’s son,  had committed suicide.  In the 1970s, we rented a house with John and Barbara Paglione on Old York Road, outside of downtown New Hope.  Around the corner on Sugan Road was the “ruins” or  “the old mill.”  Built in 1813 by William Maris, the cotton and weaving mill was/is a local landmark.  Hamiltons lived in  the mill.

We knew that Jim Hamilton, a NYC set designer, his French wife and children lived in the mill. There were annual gala parties at the mill but we were not quite part of that New Hope social scene. I think some of our friends/acquaintances were invited.    We were aware that there were Hamilton kids, a bit younger than us.   And we were interested when Jim opened Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville.


The Grill has become one of our favorite restaurants.  We go there for anniversaries, special ocassions, and when the spirit strikes.  For  several years we have enjoyed their Jersey dinners and Oyster nights.  Several times we’ve gone to Jim’s “cooking classes” — usually demonstration dinners in an apartment studio near the restaurant.


We’ve bought several of Melissa Hamilton’s “Canal House” cookbooks — small and seasonal.  We’ve also followed the career of Gabrielle,  In the late 1990s, with no experience in the restaurant business, she opened “Prune” in the East Village.  In 2012 she published, “Blood, Bones, & Butter the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef.”


There were some surprising admissions of drugs and thefts — but also the amazing rise of her career.  She is one of the most well know female chefs in the country. Two years ago with Paglions, we ate at Prune.  Not disappointed. Jen and Rob followed us, several months later and Jen got to meet Gabrielle.  In another small town event, our former Tinicum friends, David and Judy hosted Melissa and her partner, Christopher Hirscheimer for dinner.

But back to Jeff Hamilton.  When he was nineteen, Jeff went to Zaire to live with the Mbuti pygmies.  He had become interested in anthropology finding arrowheads on the Banks of the Delaware river.  In the prologue of “Going Native” his account of his adventures in Africa he wrote, “I began to wonder so intensely about what the life of the people who’d chipped these beautiful stone objects had been like, that I fell happy and melancholic at the same time. . . I dreamt then of the day I would live with people who are still living in remote areas of the world by hunting and gathering.”

While taking courses at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1975, Jeff met Colin Turnbull, a British anthropologist, known for his books “The Forest People” and “The Mountain People.” Turnbull had lived with pygmies in the Ituri forest then in the Belgium Congo, later Zaire.  Jeff would follow in his footsteps.

Like Jeff I found arrowheads along the Banks of the Delaware.  We both lived in river side small towns — New Hope and Bristol.  We both attended prep schools — Solebury for Jeff; Holy Ghost Prep for  me.  I may have even read “The Forest People” (1961) in college. I dreamed of traveling in Africa.  When Diane and I signed up in the Peace Corps in 1969 we were interested in sub-Saharan Africa. We were offered Arab Libya in North Africa instead.  Seven years later Jeff was living with the forest people; I was teaching, driven partially by the draft exemption.  I’m intrigued. Jeff had the independence, risk taking, sense of adventure spirit, to go to Africa alone.  That was not me.  I suspect family backgrounds had an influence.  The sub title for “Going Native” is “A young man’s  quest for his identity leads him to an African forest and it’s people.”  It was published in 1989, ten year after the experience under the name J.J. Bones.


“Going Native” was particularly interesting because of the Hamilton connection. It’s not particularly well written, and often repetitive.  Jeff lives in a village much of the time but eventually gets permission to live in the forest with the pygmies.  No photographs were allowed; although someone eventually takes a few.  He is presumably doing research for college but is usually consumed with daily life, little time is spent writing research notes.

In both village and forest, he feels the people are always taking advantage of him.  Hands always looking for a gift; sometimes stealing.  Jeff is constantly plagued with medical issues, malaria, awful skin diseases, parasites.  Not pleasant.  Life is slow; he writes a lot about boredom.  Local men spending much time sitting around, smoking, sometimes marijuana, drinking palm wine from the raffia tree.  And there are other forms of local alcohol. Jeff seems to adapt to a lot of strange foods — from termites and grubs to antelope and elephant.  At times his diet is very vegetarian; other times there is a fair amount of game available.

There are missionaries in the village but Jeff wants limited contact with them.  He also becomes annoyed with a few white tourists who passing through, stop and stay with him.  He develops a few relationships, at times has a woman cook and clean, but frequently seems lonely.  His doubts about his produtivity and the value of his research are constant.  He thinks about leaving several times but sticks it out for about 2 years.

In a strange way I was reminded of Henry David Thoreau spending two years, basically alone, in solitude, finding himself on Walden Pond.   So different but maybe not.

Jeff Hamilton

Jeff returned to New Hope become another town character.  After his death a friend wrote of him as the Marquis of Debris.  He cleaned out houses, saving treasures in an old barn until his annual auction.  Jim Hamilton, said, “I spent $80,000 on his education.  What does he do?  Collects junk.”

Jeff’s story intrigues me.  How we become who we are.  The influences on our lives.  Where we live.  Our family.  Our education.  Travel and othe special experiences. People we meet.   Why some of us become home bodies; others world adventurers and risk takers.

Our youth; our old age; our continual search for identity.




Retirement: beginnng year 4


A teacher at HGP recently posted on FB that classes had ended.  A party was planned for retiring Marie McGoldrick Bliss at the Yardley Inn this week.  I realized I’d be ending the third of my “golden years.”  I retired In June, 2014.  There had been a nice farewell at the Yardley In for John Buettler and myself.

The same day a FB memory post reminded me that my surgery ended a year ago.  Maybe it’s time to reflect where I’ve been and where I want to go.  As if I don’t do that almost daily.  So far the retirement years might be labeled 1) Adjustment 2) Surgery and 3) Recovery.  I do remember someone, a doctor, technician or nurse last summer saying, “your recovery could take a year.”  I’ll give myself a few more weeks.


As I’ve previously written, Year 1, the adjustment year was fantastic.  There was our regular two week Cape Cod vacation, archaeology in Montpelier, VA, two trips with Paglione’s, John and I building the slave cabin in Montpelier, several NE trips, D.C., the Blue Ridge, and PA cabin camping.   Finally my trip to Italy.  I was on the road over eight weeks.  We also purchased a new car, Toyota Highlander, and had the exterior of the house painted.

We even got a dog, Mister Mosley, terrier-schnauzer, that I was getting to really enjoy. Our garden was quite a success producing over 300 pounds of tomatoes.  There were lots of local field trips, theatre, activities and visits with Eli and Viv.  I sold 20 cartons of books for $350, at least starting the senior downsizing, purging process.


Year 2, the surgery year started with a leak.  A fistula had developed in tissue weakened by the proton radiation I had for prostrate cancer three years previous.  My doctors at Pennsylvania hospital gave me the Cape Cod vacation before the first surgery.  It became the only travel for the year.  The surgery did not and will not correct the fistula.  And then a stress test revealed the need for triple bypass heart surgery.  A brief surgery in prep and then the major heart  surgery.  Finally  in May, another plumbing surgery to make my exterior pouches permanate.  I spent about 6 weeks in the hospital; 3 more in a rehab center.  It wasn’t how I had planned retirement. In between surgeries there were a few field trips, walks on the canal and drives through Bucks County and New Jersey — our food tours.  Sold another 20 cartons of books. Unfortunately Diane had to take Mosley back to the ASPCA.  He was too wild, independent, just too much to handle.


Year 3 was the recovery year.  The fistula wasn’t repaired and developed into a uncomfortable leaking exterior abscess. And the pouches are permanate.  But recovery and life continues.  Lots of walking on the canal and our Bucks, NJ field trips.  I’d like to write a guide book about food in the Delaware Valley.  We have lunch out frequently; went to quite a few plays; and activities with the grand kids.  My strength returned if slower than expected.  We hired someone to do painting – some exterior and now interior.  As rooms are painted Diane likes to redecorate.  The front porch is redone with easy chair, small table, a perfect place for river watching in the morning.  In the front living room we now have a large flat screen TV.  I do a lot of book rereading before I sell books.  The photography collection is gone and I am working on film books and the children’s collection.


With direction and help from our neighbor Chris Thomas, I set up several raised beds and I’m following a more “scientific” approach to the garden.  So far yields have been great.


And we traveled, Cape Cod with the Kwait’s; Ann Arbor for Libby Paglione’s wedding; Maine, visiting David and Judy on Mantinicus island; Washington state visiting with sister Marylee;  New England weekends and most recently the Outer Banks.  Seven weeks; not bad.

I can’t say my recovery is complete. But I do need to set some goals for the coming year. Walking needs to continue, actually increase,  and I also need to do some upper body exercise and stretching, I won’t call it Yoga yet.  I am a random personality and it’s not easy for me to establish a routine.  I need routine.  It was discovered that I have sleep apnea.  So I’m wearing a mask.  But I am also sleeping too much.  Afternoon naps are common and I may be in bed over 12 hours some nights.  Need to exercise, stretch and cut back on sleep.

Expand the raised beds in the garden, at least four maybe six in the front. Plan for spring, summer, fall crops, multiple small plantings.  We are overrun with lettuce right now.  My cooking has been sporadic.  It needs to be more regular.  Bread, desserts, grilling, salads, using cookbooks, exploring new food.  Pickling, preserving, drying.  I want to continue to make kumbucha, start to make beer, and eventually.  wine.  More selective, limited eating and drinking should be part of the food goals.   There is little question we will continue to market-farm food shop and continue to explore new and return to favorite restaurants.  We both took cooking classes this year and enjoy the experience; more next year.

The great book reread and sell needs to continue.  Other “collections” that need weeding are music, slides, tools.  Need to have a yard sale, too much old furniture, children’s stuff in basement.  That needs to be soon.  I think I want to buy new camera equipment (Nikon) and get back to some more serious photography.  Since I’m reading about films, I want to watch more, not just new films, but classics I’ve seen and older films that are new to me.  I thought about approaching film study as if I was teaching or going to teach courses.  Transferring slides and movie footage to digital is a daunting task, need to develop a plan?  I may want to get back with the Yardley Photography Group I helped organize in year 1.

We should finish interior house painting this year.  I need to contact Bristol Fuel about the window replacement and check if roof work needs to be scheduled.  There will always be a need for maintenance — I should be able to restain the deck for instance.


Then there is travel.  I need to try to ride my bike.  We need to take the kayak to local lakes or the Jersey shore. Local field trips should increase.  I could/should get back on the train to explore Philadelphia independently.  Better planned trips with Eli and Viv.  Theatre, museums.  We should make it to NYC several times during the year.


I’d like a get away in the mountains (lake) or shore, someplace that is a sit back, legs up, slow walking, reading, reflecting escape.  Maybe a place we’d return to year after year.   Was hoping this would happen in June.   We have Cape Cod booked for 2 weeks in August.  We also have 3 nights at a Hilton resort in Myrtle Beach in September (will add some days to this).  But what else? Our typical New England, Eastern Shore long weekends are fine.  Should we travel to some Southern cities — Charlestown, Savannah?  Are there other classes, interactive, educational destinations?  I’d like to get back in a plane at least for a domestic trip — the Southwest?    The Caribbean?  I think that comes before an international trip.

Next step is to turn these ramblings into a list.  See what Diane would add to the list.  I think I’ve learned that it’s important to act on dreams and desires.  In a moment you may become incapable of doing them.  There are things I may have wanted to experience that are now beyond the pale.  Not sure what they are but I know they exist.  Priority!  Planning!  Serendipity!  Year four begins.



Loving: movie and history


I taught American history for many years.  I enjoy  traveling to historic sites.  We recently went to Deerfield MA and Roanoke Island and have been considering trips to Plymouth and Williamsburg.  I enjoy reading history and watching historical documentaries or historical fiction.  It’s particularly rewarding when the experience introduces me to some “new,” for me at least, history.

This week Netflix shipped “Loving” (2016) written and directed by Jeff Nichols.  The story sounded promising.  An inter-racial marriage in Virginia in the 1950s leads to a Supreme Court case that bans laws against miscegenation.  I watched about 30 minutes but wasn’t impressed; it seemed too slow, not much happening.  Richard Loving, a crew cut, laconic, brick layer, didn’t excite.  Mildred, his girlfriend, wife was pretty, and pretty quiet.

How wrong I was.  For director Nichols, this was the point.  Here was an ordinary couple who crossed the black white divide and only wanted to marry, make a home and raise a family.  Since VA law did not allow them to marry, they went to Washington, D.C., it was 1958.  There was no crusade; just a “loving” couple wanting a life together.  Laws in VA and 24 other states made it illegal.


They are arrested one night by a local sheriff.  The D.C. marriage certificate meant nothing nothing in the Commonwealth.  “To jail” said the judge or leave the state for 25 years.  They reluctantly chose the latter.  Mildred is particularly upset. She is a country, family girl; DC doesn’t work for her.  In 1963 she writes Attorney General, Robert Kennedy about her situation.  He refers her case the to ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

The Civil Rights campaign begins but Richard and Mildred are just looking to live at home (Central Point, VA), together, and to raise their family (now 3 children).  Into the film,  I’ve begun to understand director Nichols dynamic.  Richard (Joel Edgerton) is a pretty basic guy, a mason, likes a beer, working on cars, drag racing, hanging out with friends (many black), and “loving his family.”  Mildred (Ruth Negga) is devoted to family and Richard but sees that publicity (Life magazine, local media, national news) may eventually help them and yes, others (her performance was nominated for an academy award).   These are simple folk, not interested it changing the law, or making history.


The ACLU leading the charge moves the Loving case to the Supreme Court.  Mildred and Richard have no interest in gong to the court.  Richard tells the lawyers, “Tell the Judge I love my life.”  In 1967, Loving v. The Commonwealth of Virginia, the court said the VA law against inter-racial marriage, “had no purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination.” The VA law and others were unconstitutional.

I am so glad I didn’t quick judge “Loving.”  It’s a very good movie, subtle, honest, true to history.  I always enjoy learning about new (for me) pages, maybe chapters in American history.  I’d never heard of the “Loving” family contribution.  Since I don’t teach anymore, I share the story with you.




Traveling to the Outer Banks


We go to New England for many (most) of our vacations.  And although I’m dreaming international, or cross country, local get-aways  keep me motivated.  Last week we headed south.  The upper Chesapeake is part of our usual two-day trips.  Rarely (in recent years) do we venture further South. This trip was different.    Our first stop was a Hampton Inn in Fruitland-Salisbury MD.  Diane and I usually don’t stay in these chains.  But we had points, many points actually, from our stay in Ann Arbor in the Fall.  So the room was free.  And surprise, we liked it.  The staff were extremely friendly, you know what your get, breakfast was good.  The woman at the desk said the hotel was frequently a “pit stop.”  Perfect for us, in and out.  In the future, we will  use points for other pit stops. We found a decent lunch in Salisbury (The Market Street Inn) and had dinner at Evolution Brewery not far from the Hampton.  Strip mall traveling. .

The Eastern Shore drive through Delaware, Maryland and eventually Virginia toward the Outer Banks has a unique local flavor. Lots of trailers, RV sales, small garden sheds for sale, all kinds of auto and truck sales and repairs.  Most places are “mom and pop” and not national chains. It hasn’t changed in decades.  I’d forgotten about the Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnel. Wow,an amazing engineering project.  Our weather was beautiful.


Passing through Virginia Beach (we went there once with the Bonnema’s for a craft show back in the 1970s).   Otherwise not on our radar.  Route 158 toward the Outer Banks has quite a few large farm stands, lots of bill boards advertising seafood and shore activities. I search for a local flavor.


We arrived. Kitty Hawk. What a surprise.  The main highway is one shopping center after another.  Restaurants, auto services, furniture stores, vacation activities — the best of “Route 1.”  Diane was hungry so we stopped at Henry’s — seniors very welcomed, but I’ll. admit  it was ok.  Then to the Cyprus Moon Inn.  It’s right off the bridge, south, in a small wooded neighborhood on the Sound.

Linda and Greg, the innkeepers, are our age.  They built two houses on the site.  The grounds are overgrown, many large pots of aging plants, aging cedar or cyprus steps and siding.  The rooms were pleasant; porches overlooking the Sound were fantastic.  Breakfast was an tray of fruit and pastry, room coffee, provided the night before.   All pretty informal and casual.  The wind on the Sound was amazing.  Loud and rough.  No kayaking for a few days.


Day one we drive north to Duck and Corolla.  This is off season but traffic is still slow.  Houses were closer, bigger, more uniform than we had expected.  Our joke was the architects designed with legos.  Not much variation, maybe the color.  At the end of the road we saw the Corolla lighthouse and a few historic buildings, shops. Not much. Only off road vehicles further north.

Day two we drove South.  To Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  It’s not Cape Cod.  We walked around a lighthouse and a birding area.  There are small towns (?) almost.  We went as far as Avon.  Lots of sports, boating, fishing — we watched kite surfing. We did find a great sandwich shop , Brothers, tuna subs with a local sauce.  We tried to eat on the ocean beach but black flies drove us back to the car.  Land wind as we get in New Jersey.  Found a sound access and sat in the sun for a while.  But this is not Cape Cod.  Few access places, just not as user friendly.

Initially we were worried about restaurants on the Outer Banks but we found quite a few with good seafood.  Soft shell crabs were coming in, had I one as an appetizer at Steamers and talked to the owner-chef.  He was buying 600 a day from Randy who had them peel in a tub (ironically near our B and B).  You can clean the crabs or not, and freeze them.  The harvest will be only about a week. Other restaurants,  the Blue Point in Duck and RJs in Kitty Hawk, were both very good. Only one disappointment:  The Salt Box.  Interesting, one night we were shut out due to a wine dinner, ambience and location seemed right, but the chef didn’t know how to cook fresh Rock fish or soft shells.  Very sad.

Day three we headed to Roanoke Island.  Finally a small town, Manteo, with harbor, restaurants,  shops, a few bed and breakfasts (we could have stayed here).  Listened to a great lost colony story by a park ranger at Raleigh Park.  In season they put on a play.  Stopped in a nature center and then drove to Wanachee, a small fishing village (not much), mostly commercial fishing.  Diane did some shopping in Manteo, I bought chocolates and ice cream.


Each day we returned to Cyprus Moon.  Rested, enjoyed the porch on the Sound,  When the wind calmed down, it would have been kayak friendly.  Not everyone would enjoy the “casualness” of Cyprus Moon.  It bothered Diane more than me but the owners were close to us.  It was an interesting stay off the main road.

Next day.  Rain.  We headed north.

The Mansion House in Snow Hill had a familiar feel.  We checked in, a sound room with a view.  The piano “bar” was still there. George was a familiar face.  We ate downtown, local music venue, not bad food.  Next day drove out to Assateague.  Sun holding out. Walked in dunes, on the beach.  Ponies.  Lunch in Berlin, musical festival.

Overall Snow Hill is a nice stop on the way home.


We had lunch on Sunday, at Dogfish in Rehoboth. It almost seemed a bit seedy but the food was still good. Rehoboth is interesting; shades of Long Beach Island, but a boardwalk and downtown, maybe we could spend a week here.

Overall a good explore.


Birding: life list two

Just returned from a week on the Eastern Shore and Outer Banks.  We didn’t do any serious birding but kept our eyes and ears open.  Saw several White Ibis, all flying but pretty solid identification.  Caught a quick look at a Green Heron, sometimes we see them on canal in Yardley.



There are two birds I added new to my life list.  Something I’d hoped to do on this trip.  The first was the Black Vulture, a large black scavenger with gray head.  Although we also saw Turkey Vultures with their red head, the Black Vulture was more common.


I also listed the Boat-tailed Grackle in my Stokes life list.  Large black bird with bluefish-green gloss on head and back. A long flat tail.

Im pretty certain I’ve seen the Vulture and Grackle before but never recorded a sighting.  Other common species in the marshes were red-winged blackbirds and Eastern Kingbird.

Need to get out birding more frequently.