Kings and Queens of Enfield

We've been treated like kings and queens, sleeping in, decadent breakfasts, experimenting with whatever's in the kitchen for dinner. Touring about and then crazy nonsense eating corn crab chowder at midnight (followed by the most amazing dazzle berry pie). Every morning there is a three-course meal starting with yogurt, then grapefruit and ending with frittata & sausage, all sourced from the local dairies and farms. We are living the truth of farm to table. 

Tuesday brought a special day, learning about the Whitaker's one of the oldest standing families in the region. We then visited a secret cider house in the making, took a tour of their facilities and tasted their recent harvest of cider champagne. After a short nap (all that cider went straight to our heads), we suited up and went to The Lodge at Roanoke Valley (housed in a former Masonic lodge) to attend the town art fair and auction. Dinner afterwards featured heaping plates of chicken jalfrezi. And then we ended the night with a raucous game of Left Right Center (great idea for holiday gifts). 

A sampling of food:


I have no words for the pictures I am seeing about the only world I know. 

News trickles in...

8am, Tuesday 10/30/12

Early morning, a blue sky is muscling its way through the remnant gray clouds to bring us a new day. Quiet, solitude, sleeping in; my eyes flutter awake to the soft coo of a text message pushed to my phone. I sent an email late last night to loved ones in New York, to check in and make sure they were okay, weathering through the superstorm. A third of the city responses trickled in with the worst reports of lost power and lack of internet access. A friend in Yankee Lake lost her car, and part of the house due to a fallen tree, but no one was hurt. The most troubling news came from the explosion of transformers and the resulting fires spreading throughout the shore areas of Queens very near the beach area that I frequent.

This is the second year in a row that I've missed a freak storm in New York. Last year i was in Toronto when it snowed, this year in the South during a hurricane. The juxtaposition of my location to the weather patterns of the places I've visited versus the place where I live is uncanny. I've never lived anywhere else (save the four years of college in Po'town) but New York City, and if I wasa true  believer of signs I might take this as one.

Scanning through my work email briefly, offices on the Eastern seaboard are closed. The Facebook updates are trickling in as well--it seems the worst of it is over, and judging from the posts there will be reparations of varying degrees for many. I'll need to check in on Dad later this morning, and my brother (who was grounded in Chicago last night) and family later today. I don't have any sixth sense about my six degrees, so I can only hope you are all safe. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


Prayers for home

12am, Tuesday 10.30.12

Snug as a bug in a four poster iron bed. The rat-a-tat patter of rain on a red tin roof. Floor to ceiling windows with 12-panes each look out into night, as it should be, silent and absent of flourescent street lights. A small pleasure for me, but also a frightful experience this evening for those back home. Home to that city that never sleeps, where an uninvited guest named Sandy wreaked havoc.

Being so far from the epicenter, it's hard to determine the reality of the news from the media's coverage (and sad attempts at securing ratings). As @ClaraJeffery shared earlier today, "Watching TV coverage of disasters you're handicapped by TV's priorities. ie: they're replaying better lit shots from much earler in the day."

Social media has been helpful in keeping abreast of F&F's whereabouts with shared tweets, photos and statuses posted on Facebook and Instagram, updates from the Tri-state NY area affected by Sandy. I feel somewhat more informed and slightly less anxious but the trickling in of news about power outages to blackouts, flooding to folks stranded, and now fires rampaging through the beach areas. It makes me wish I was closer to home.


Quiet meditation, fire optional

6pm, 10.29.12

I opted to stay inside, sleepy from the rain and the hearty breakfast, to indulge in a meditative (and overdue) writing exercise by the fire. I feel more accomplished these last two days of writing than I have all year. There's nothing quite like getting back to the heart of you. 

The fire is lovely, soothing, its glow warm on my skin. Mr. Whittaker stopped in for his afternoon Bourbon, and sat with me awhile reminiscing about his life: "I lived down the street, raised here in town. My daughter lives here now; my wife and I moved out to the ol'house just outside of town. She's been gone 14 years now, cancer at age 58. We would have been married 50 years this year." He recalled some of the lyrics of an old country song by Rick Trevino, Doctor Time and then fell silent for a moment. With a sip and a shake he went on, talking about his upcoming trip to Thomasville beach where he has a house and a recent trip to Biloxi where he held the dice for 30-40 minutes playing craps, rolling ten tens. He leaves a few minutes later wishing me a good night.

The whistle of a passing train sounds, complementary to the ambient crackling fire, wind and rain. It is hypnotic, and I find myself rooted to the sofa watching, listening engaged in a mindful yoga meditation of my own doing. 

Enchanted in Enfield

12am, 10.29

I've recently started watching Once Upon a Time, the ABC series that tells the story of characters taken from our most beloved fairy tales and transported to the "real world" by a powerful curse cast by an evil witch. The characters now live in Storybrooke, an enchanted seaside town in Maine. I've not been to the  furthest Eastern state but I find myself entirely bewitched by a Southern one. 

Enfield, North Carolina is a sleepy town on the verge of an awakening. Established in 1740, it's the oldest town in Halifax County, a town with a population of about 2000, agriculturally known for its tobacco and most recently peanut markets. Friends Suzanne & Wayne Anderson ventured down to NC several years ago to fulfill their dream of owning a bed & breakfast. The Manor at Bellamy Gardens is heaven on earth, especially for a city girl. There are five guest rooms, decorated in rich tapestry colors, and with an empty register on arrival we had the pleasure of choosing our favorites.  Claudia chose the Chinoiserie room with its deep reds and jacuzzi. I chose Vieuz Carre, transported to my own piece of Versailles.  

Six o'clock tea and whiskey time in the salon, where we were joined by neighbors Ronnie and Gail, and Suzanne's sister Martha, another transplant from up North. Dinner a few hours later was hosted by  Myra and Andrew, owners of the The Lodge at Roanoke Valley where we had the pleasure of dining on the most delicious Brazilian moqueca (fish) stew. The hospitality and kindess of friends was a wonderful start to our holiday.


Plunging past Hurricane Sandy to the mainland

6pm 10.28.12

Our passage to Assateague Island the pony refuge was sketchy, with "puddles" of water covering the asphalt like Northern black ice where the danger lay in what you could not see. We entered the refuge part of a three-part caravan of trucks and automobiles--somewhat relieved to not be the only ones attempting to see the horses. The sign at entry noted that the refuge would close at noon; and the manager at Waterside Inn didn't think it was likely that the ponies would be close to the beach in this foul weather but we had to try, just in case.

We drove along the wildlife park's road to the end of the line, to the beach, where the sea was in a fierce tribal dance with the sand, rolling its waves and clapping against the shore. Braving the pelleting rain we ventured to the shore to take photos--some of the most beautiful pictures I've taken of the sea. The stark monochromatic colors of the water against the sand, driftwood pens amid the fauna and foliage of the landscape made us all proclaim the need to return in sunshine, in clear daylight. Unfortunately, as predicted there was not a pony in sight.

Traveling back across the Eastern Shore towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel and mainland Virginia, the weather was gray, overcast. At times rainy and blustery but nothing that would indicate anything more than a stormy disposition. We knew time was of the essence and we proceeded with caution to make it to the B&T before the National Guard had any inkling to close it down. After one detour in Exmore for a fantastic Sunday brunch--where we sat at the counter of a shiny gulfstream Winebago diner--I found myself driving toward "our plunge into the sea". George suggested and was duly encouraging, that I should continue driving to experience first-hand crossing the 20 mile bridge or as he described it, "plunge" into the ocean.

And what an experience it was. We could barely see the middle let alone the end of the bridge in the fog and mist, and what we could see of the winding structure conjured images of metal sea monsters come to life. We stopped midway to admire the view from the scenic outlook point near the gift shop. Claudia and George bravely faced the wind, rain and splashing surf to walk to the end of the pier. I made it about 1/4 of the way before turning back, the gale force of the wind felt as if it would sweep me away.

Back in the dry warmth of the Chariot we forged ahead, plunging into the second tunnel and emerging to more wind and rain for the last stretch of the bridge, where we could just make out Virginia Beach on the horizon. Once we crossed the state line into North Carolina we were clear, stopping once or twice to take photos of appealing architecture (or lack thereof) and the blooming cotton fields.

We arrived in Enfield to a quiet house, Suzy, Wayne & Cozy Bear en route back to the Manor. We parked the car in the gravel driveway and ventured inside. After a quick tour of the downstairs area, we settled in the den/library to wait for their return. It felt brilliant to sit down in a luxurious manner, legs extended, feet up, back nestled against the tufted leather settee. A warm welcome indeed.


Going to the Carolinas

8am Sunday, 10.28.12

Early Sunday morning, the hotel room is as dark as night, a sliver of light peeking from just behind the curtain shielding the sliding doors. It has been a restless sleep filled with weird colorful dreams that are hazily psychedelic now. I'm stirring, but my body aches, the soft mattress offering little to no support after a long day of travel.

Yesterday we leisurely drove south from the Northeast on our way to North Carolina. My first long road trip in the Red Chariot. We met up in Newark, and after a harrowing experience of parking lot roulette found ourselves on the turnpike, and on our journey south. We made it to the car ferry in Cape May with an hour to spare, even after a slight traffic diversion (thanks to a lively albeit distracting conversation). The voyage was mild in comparison to Montserrat, and given that we were heading toward a hurricane I think we can safely say, so far that we are doing ok time wise (though George may differ on that).

As of last night Sandy was classified as a tropical cyclone. We've been fortunate in that so far the weather has behaved. It's been windy, rainy but nothing too out of ordinary, yet.

In an hour or so we will make our way to see the Chincoteague ponies, and then travel onward to the Carolinas, and with that, we shall see what the new day brings.



Dragons (in progress)

A fictional work in progress, written using the Fibonacci Sequence:

I dreamt,
of both again.
When I asked about it.
Her eyes blinked, and gave me my answer.
I should have known that her silent eyes would reveal a telling message.
Although it’s been many moons since the dragon has made an appearance, the mystery still persists.  The creature haunts us all.
Legend tells of a time where we could not breathe without the fire of the dragons. And I can't help but wonder how we have survived this long without any contact, without any sign. 
I remember mother and father sharing stories from their youth, stories of dragons and fire, magic and brimstone, honor and faith. Their stories seem unreal to me, to us all. My generation cannot fathom a time and place without fear and darkness, we often walk in the light to deter the evil lurking in shadows.


I am in no stretch of the imagination a thrill seeker, I even shy away from roller coasters -- BABY roller coasters, the kind with a dip of 15' at best. So the idea of driving south in the direction of "Frankenstorm" tomorrow has me a bit on edge.


(draft, tigger thoughts)

I have to be realistic about his condition. He's had a good life, a long life for one with nine lives. A full life with the most cherished love and care.

When he leaves this earth I want it to be from a place of comfort not pain. Always for him, partially for me.

Watching a human waste away to nothingness without a choice for reprieve was enough, for my mini monster, I have a choice. I question whether I will have a chance to make it when the time comes.

In his last appointment with the vet -- he weighed in at a loss of 8 kilos. The doctor diagnosed him with a host of possible issues most of which would require invasive surgery and anesthesia.

We put him on meds instead, steroids to ease the pain and whet his appetite. A 2-week treatment, nearly 8 weeks ago. He has moments when he pukes and poops, and they far outweigh the days of normal eating and consumption.

And I asked the hard questions, about euthanasia and what it involves (a catheter to administer fluid).