Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

I’ve been working on my newest project for about ten days now and I have no one to blame but myself. I always think, “If I can just finish this job or that project, I’ll have more time and less stress in my life.” But the moment I scratch a few things off the list and have some free time, I scramble to take on another project. What’s up with that? It’s almost as if I WANT stress in my life – or maybe I just don’t know how to relax.

William W. Weibel, my Dad

Dad

Ten days ago (no doubt on a day when I had cleared the decks, so to speak, of all immediate projects and was wondering what to do with myself) I got the harebrained idea to buy my 81 year-old father an iPod for Christmas. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Like me, my father loves music. During the summer his stereo is on all day long – sometimes he even goes to bed and forgets to turn it off. I use the term “stereo” loosely. My two sisters and I try to keep Dad updated and “with it” but his stereo consists of an old 5-disk CD changer that doesn’t support mp3s and an even older turntable. So I figured that I could convert all his CDs to mp3s, load them on an iPod, buy a set of speakers with a dock and – Voila! – Dad would have access to a couple of thousand songs that he could listen to endlessly without having to change CDs.

My only problem was how to get my hands on his CD’s. I knew if I just leveled with him I would have a huge fight on my hands. Some years ago my sisters bought Mom and Dad a computer for their 50th Anniversary. Dad came unglued – ranted and raved for weeks that it was a waste of money, that it would never be used, etc. When he finally ran out of steam and accepted the fact that there was a computer in the house and it wasn’t going anywhere, he slowly (and on the sly) began learning how to use it. Now, some years and three computers later, Read More

Mother Nature put on a show today. It started this morning when I awoke to blessed sunshine pouring through my open bedroom windows. Normally my windows wouldn’t be open in December, but we’re having a mild spell (it got up to 75 degrees today) so I took advantage of it to enjoy the last hurrah before winter comes crashing in.

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

I finally made myself crawl out from under my nice warm down comforter and was stretching in the sunshine when I heard an unusual bird call. Perched in the very top of the tree closest to my rear deck was the largest Pileated Woodpecker I have ever seen. When I was younger I used to watch Woody Woodpecker cartoons. It wasn’t until I moved to the Outer Banks and saw my first Pileated, with its big red head and pointed head feathers, that I realized the cartoon character was based on an actual bird. I’ve only seen one other Pileated Woodpecker, some years ago, but I should have recognized it from its call alone – Ha-Ha-Ha-HA-ha! – just like good ol’ Woody. For those of you who are too young to remember Woody Woodpecker (am I dating myself??), here’s a photo of a Pileated Woodpecker, although it is not a photo I took.
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You might think that this post is about the gorgeous 78 degree weather we had on the Outer Banks today on the last day of November. Or about our golden beaches glistening in the sunshine. Or even about our golden sunsets over the Sound. But no – today’s little bit of gold refers to a cargo container that washed up on the shore yesterday and, like a beached whale, regurgitated hundreds of bags of Doritos.

Cargo container loaded with Doritos washes up on shore after nor'easter

Cargo container loaded with Doritos washes up on shore after nor’easter

Frito Lay says that the word “Dorito” means “A Little Bit Of Gold” in Spanish. Judging by the hordes of people scurrying along the beach stuffing plastic grocery bags full of nacho, sour cream and onion, and jalapeno flavored chips, you would have thought they had struck gold. And maybe, in a way, they did.

Local residents rush to pick up bags of chips from the beach

Local residents rush to pick up bags of chips from the beach

Just a week ago we suffered through an angry nor’easter that damaged oceanfront homes and carried away more of our precious beach. A good friend of mine lost the ground floor of his place, his septic system, and the entire dune in front of his oceanfront cottage. Normally, a cargo container that falls off a ship plying the merchant lanes near our shores would have sunk to the bottom. But undoubtedly, the nor’easter’s thrashing waves are responsible for carrying that container from the deep water to the shallower sand bars near shore, where it inexorably inched toward the beach. The Universe giveth and the Universe taketh away. Not that I’m implying that a few bags of corn chips can make up for the devastation and destruction of the storm – but at least it’s “A Little Bit Of Gold.”

It’s definitely time to get out of the Outer Banks. We just had a two day nor’easter over the Thanksgiving weekend that brought a tree down across my driveway, forcing me to walk 600 feet to the house in the pouring rain and 70 mile per hour winds.

Damage along the Beach Road in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, following a nasty nor'easter

Damage along the Beach Road in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, following a nasty nor’easter

The outside world doesn’t realize that nor’easters are so much more destructive than hurricanes. Take a look at the photo below.

That’s not soapsuds on the road, it’s sea foam whipped up by the angry ocean. The storm-driven waves then breached the dunes along the Beach Road, flooding the houses adjacent to the beach and leaving tons of sand and debris in their wake. Soon this will be something I don’t have to deal with any more – just another four weeks until I head south to sunny Sarasota, Florida.

One of my best friends, Elizabeth, has been studying astrology for years. I think she’s made it her personal mission to educate me on the subject, and to that end she is always sending me links to astrology websites and excerpts from monthly astrological forecasts. Now, I’m not a stranger to the concept of astrology – in fact I’m a pretty strong believer. After all, any emergency room worker will tell you that they have more and weirder cases whenever the moon is full. If the full moon can make people go crazy as well as affect the tides, it’s not much of a stretch for me to believe that all the planets affect us in some way. So, like a million other people in the world, I always read my horoscope in the paper. Heck, I’ll even admit that I actually paid good, cash money once (OK, maybe twice ‘er, maybe three times) to have my astrological chart done for the moment of my birth.

During Mercury Retrograde things can go awry

During Mercury Retrograde things can go awry

My problem is that when Elizabeth sends me these links and articles, they are not simply a horoscope for the day. They are about the positions of the planets and the arc of their intersecting points across the heavens and this transit and that house and something called Mercury Retrograde. OK, let’s get something straight; my brain is not puny. I’ve got fairly strong cognitive and language skills and I’m no slouch in the business world. But this astrology stuff puts me down for the count. I read it, then read it again, and STILL I can’t figure out what it is saying.

The only thing I have come to understand is that three times a year, for about three weeks each time, the planet Mercury goes retrograde, meaning that it appears to move backward in the sky. The operative word here is Read More

I sell real estate. I’ve been doing that for the past 10 years on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s not my profession of choice – I just sort of fell into it (you can read more about that on my “About” page). But it’s been good to me and I’ve invested in property here and there.

1870's era house in Old Town Key West has been converted to three apartments

1870’s era house in Old Town Key West has been converted to three apartments

One of my more recent Key West Real Estate projects is an old house (circa 1870) in Key West that I bought this past July. Over the years it has been a single residence, a church, a school, and eventually it was converted to its current configuration of three legal apartments. The place has been uglified over the years – old metal shutters installed across the front and the exterior painted a pale pink that has long since faded to nothing. But where others saw ugliness, I saw opportunity.

Since I’m retiring from real estate and leaving the Outer Banks at the end of the year anyway, the plan was to sell my home here and use the proceeds from that sale to restore the exterior of the Key West property to its former glory – then sell it at a profit. In the meantime, there were existing tenants living in all three apartments (all of whom wanted to stay, according to the Seller), so I would be receiving income from the property while I restored it.
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