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Thursday, December 29, 2005
London-2 Dec. 29, 2005

    It was bitterly cold in London again today.  Uncle Jack felt a twinge of guilt as Mrs. U.J. bundled up and headed out for the half price ticket bureau in Leicester Square again while he stayed in their warm apartment reading the Guardian and sipping Twining's English Breakfast tea.  Lucky for her there was not a soul in line at the matinee window and she was able to snag two front-row tickets to "The Night of the Iguana" at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue which is only a short dash from their flat.

     Woody Harrellson is starring in this Tennessee Williams masterpiece and Uncle Jack can tell you he has come a long way from playing Woody the bumbling bartender in "Cheers".  The role of Shannon in this long and wordy play is a real challenge and he does well enough to earn the praise of some of the toughest theater critics in the world.  They usually enjoy humiliating American TV actors but Woody has earned the praise of most of them.

    The Lyric is the oldest of several venerable playhouses on Shaftesbury Avenue, having opened in 1888.  Nearly every one of the ancient velvet seats was full for this afternoon's performance which may be attributable to the drawing power of an American TV star,  the continuing power of Tennessee Williams or the cold weather---or all three.

     It was too cold to take pictures today.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.

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Woody is the only American star performing in the West End right now. He has gotten a lot of ink in the gossip magazines for his late night escapades in the city.

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Minis are seldom seen on the Outer Banks but they are ubiquitous in London. This one was parked in Soho Square this afternoon.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:17 PM

Comments [4]

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

     Uncle Jack is happy to report that he and Mrs. U.J. are safely ensconced in their Soho Square apartment where they will remain for the next five weeks.  Their British Airways flight from Baltimore on Monday night was uneventful and made more endurable than usual because Mrs. U.J. managed to convince the reservationist that her aged husband would suffer greatly and might possibly die if he did not have a bulkhead seat where he could stretch out his legs and avoid a deep vein thrombosis somewhere over the Atlantic. She can be very convincing.

     They spent most of yesterday shopping for essentials (beer, wine, etc) and getting connected to the internet which is still a tedious business in London.  Uncle Jack had hoped that his landlord would have installed wireless broadband in the apartment building by this time but it was not to be.  He is back in the land of dial-up where the simplest operation takes at least three times as long as it does with broadband, including doing his weblog.

    They slept an incredible 13 hours last night in an effort to conquer jet lag and it seems to have worked.  Mrs. U.J. was off to the Leicester Square half-price theater ticket booth at 11 a.m. and snagged a couple of ducats to a new and very funny play called "Glorious" which they enjoyed at the Duchess Theatre in Covent Garden this afternoon.  The play is built around the extraordinary singing career of an eccentric New York City socialite, Florence Foster Jenkins, who fancied herself a great operatic diva when in fact her voice was execrable.  (If you don't know about her she's worth googling). 

     And tomorrow is another day. Stay tuned.


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Christmas in Baltimore with Isabella (2) and Sophia (9 months). Nothing is more fun than watching little kids open their presents and then play with the packages they came in.

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Leicester Square is full of carnival rides this week but it's too cold for most kids to enjoy them.

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The window of Paul's Bakery in Covent Garden where Uncle Jack went to get bread this morning while Mrs. U.J. stood in line at the ticket booth. If there is a better bakery in the world Uncle Jack has yet to discover it.

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Last year at this time there were ominous rumblings about developers wanting to demolish Chinatown and rebuild it into something much more grand and profitable. Thank goodness it hasn't happened yet.

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A giant holiday decoration hanging over Shorts Gardens street near Seven Dials (which was one of London's premier red light districts in the late 19th century but is now full of upscale boutiques).

posted by Uncle Jack at 1:29 PM

Comments [7]

Thursday, December 22, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag Thursday Dec. 22

    Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the sunrise pictures below are taken from a different vantage point than the usual.  Thereby hangs a tale.

    Uncle Jack thought his heating problems were over with the arrival of the Ferrelgas truck yesterday afternoon.  Little did he know that they were just beginning.

    While the gas furnace continued to operate it did so apparently according to its own whim rather than obeying the commands of  its thermostat.  Consequently the room temperature kept going down as the evening went on.  When Uncle Jack retired at 10 p.m. (as is his wont when there are no NBA games on TV) the ambient temperature was 69.  When he awoke, shivering, at 3 a.m. he found that it had plunged to 55 and the furnace was doing nothing about it.

     After plugging in an electric space heater in the bedroom he went back to bed and managed to sleep again until 6:30 a.m. at which time he and Mrs. U.J. fled to the warmth and comfort of her daughter's house on James street, about a mile away. There they remained long enough to put in an urgent call to the Robert Hoy company who promised to send a technician to their rescue sometime this morning. 

      By this time they had discovered that the water was turned off at the James street house which meant no tea or coffee.  This was clearly an intolerable situation so they returned home where Mrs. U.J. holed up in the warm bedroom while Uncle Jack, whose Scandinavian blood runs thinner,  made hot tea to sip while waiting for their rescuer to appear.

      Which is by way of explaining why the sunrise pictures were taken from the back deck at 107 East James street this morning.

      This will probably be Uncle Jack's last posting for a few days until they get settled in their London apartment in Soho Square. In the meantime he and Mrs. U.J. wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and above all good health.  He will post a message on the board when he posts his next weblog entry.  Ciao.




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7:10 a.m.

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posted by Uncle Jack at 2:09 PM

Comments [10]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Freezing in Sonag, December 21

    According to the almanac today is the shortest day of 2005 and it couldn't have happened to a better day.  Uncle Jack trudged dutifully up to the beach at 6:55, knowing already that the wind chill factor was 32 degrees, but he didn't last for more than 30 seconds in the face of the icy wind coming out of the northeast.   The thick cloud bank to the southeast guaranteed that there would be no sunrise this morning so he turned his back to the wind and let it push him home.

      Now he begins the agonizing wait for the Ferrell Gas truck to come and fill his propane tank which contains less than a day's supply at this point.  It is now one week since he called to request a refill and every day he has watched the needle edge closer to "empty".  Inasmuch as gasoline suddenly shot up 15 cents a gallon this week he shudders to think what a tank of propane is going to cost this time around. Dealing with Ferrell Gas is a lot like playing Russian Roulette he has decided after 15 years of flirting with an icy death.

     A letter from his brother up in northern Minnesota this week cheered him up a bit.  It was an agonizing chronicle of  recent bouts of snow shoveling in sub-zero temperatures that really brought winter into perspective.  Uncle Jack can't remember the last time he had to shovel the snow off his roof to keep it from caving in. He is very happy about this.

      Keep warm wherever you are.  And try to have a nice day.  You still have two more shopping days before Christmas.

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This is about as good as it got this morning. In other words not very exciting.

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Another Nags Head landmark is heading for the rubble landfill. Andy's RV park on the Bypass at Lakeside Street has been a fixture on that corner since before Uncle Jack bought his first Nags Head house nearby in 1970.

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Uncle Jack remembers Andy's grandfather busily augmenting his minuscule trailer park with a little frontloader using sand borrowed from across the street. That would be a no-no today with sand going for upwards of $200 per square foot in that neighborhood

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The stripers were running on Old Oregon Inlet Road yesterday.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:27 AM

Comments [9]

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag Tuesday December 20
    Uncle Jack attempted to expiate some of the guilt engendered by his Sunday night  ham biscuit and cheesecake orgy by getting up extra early this morning and walking even farther on the beach than he usually does.  Actually it was  a pleasure because the north wind was gentle, the beach flat and the sunrise pretty.  What more could a person ask?

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Uncle Jack and the birds pretty much had the beach to themselves this morning. Not a fisherman to be seen anywhere.

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Not the most dazzling sunrise of the week but entertaining in its own way.

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The Outer Banks pier took quite a beating last winter. Who knows what Mother Nature has in store for it during the next couple of months.

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This cottage near the Outer Banks pier is battened down for the winter like most of the others in South Nags Head. Will the dunes hold up through the northeasters? Stay tuned.

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This clump of wildflowers is hunkered down on the south side of a dune. How much longer they can hold out is anybody's guess.

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South Nags Head's snazzy new firehouse is nearing completion. Looks like RPC Contractors will be laying asphalt this week and that's usually the last step in the building process.

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The sun finally made it into the sky by about 7:15. It is supposed to remain there, unsullied by clouds, until it sets again in a few hours. Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:08 AM

Comments [3]

Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag Monday December 19

    Uncle Jack partied again last night and very nearly missed the sunrise this morning as a result.  Two pieces of Mark Tate's incredible cheesecake, one of Suzanne Tate's delectable coconut cake, all on a base of  5 Virginia ham biscuits washed down with two glasses of  chardonnay nearly did him in.  His body, grown accustomed to the ingestion of nothing but heart-healthy foods for the past 12 months, did not know what to do with these foreign substances so it fought back in the form of  serious heartburn in the middle of the night which led to oversleeping after recovery. He will be glad when the holiday/Christmas season is over so he can return to his normal diet of  unsugared bran flakes and skim milk.

     It rained all day again yesterday and the wind blew mightily out of the north.  While sunrise this morning really never got off the ground the day is beginning to look quite acceptable as the sun moves higher in the sky.  It doesn't get very high these days as we are only a couple of days away from the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year is nearly upon us. 

      Uncle Jack hopes the sun is shining wherever you are, too.  It makes last minute shopping so much more enjoyable than, say, freezing rain.  


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Some pretty pink clouds developed early but the cloud bank on the horizon was so thick the sun didn't actually appear until an hour later this morning.

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That's Uncle Jack's neighbor, Jim Morris, and his faithful companion Katie (who gets him out of bed before sunrise every morning for her obligatory walk on the beach)visible in the distance.

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This is as bright as it got yesterday so Uncle Jack is not complaining.

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The beach was littered with rockfish carcasses this morning and the gulls were very happy about it. Apparently a fresh rockfish head looks to them like a pecan waffle looks to Uncle Jack.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:56 AM

Comments [7]

Saturday, December 17, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday December 15

     Lucky for Uncle Jack he got up to the beach a little early this morning so he could watch the unfolding of what turned out to be the Sunrise of the Month.  The high surf of the past couple of days had subsided enough so he could walk to the Outer Banks pier and back and  take pictures while Mother Nature was doing the Morning Show. Admittedly it was nothing like seeing Al Roker dazzle the troops in KDH but it wasn't too shabby.

     Yesterday turned out to be sunny and almost mild by afternoon so he and Mrs. U.J. strolled down to the demolition site at Surfside Drive to see how things were coming along. Late afternoon is one of their favorite times on the beach because of the way the sun illuminates the breaking waves.

     It's going to be a lovely day here on the Outer Banks and he hopes it will be the same in Cleveland or Pittsburgh or wherever you have the misfortune to live. 


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He believes that seafarers call this a mackerel sky.

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Not a soul on the pier at sunrise this morning. High Tea is served at 4 p.m. just before sunset. Most of the regulars are able to get out of bed by that time.

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Worth waiting for.

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This sizeable chunk of shipwreck timber either washed up or was uncovered by the recent powerful surf near the Dunes South condos.

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Except for one truckload of debris waiting for transportation it's gone.

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Mother Nature will deal with the remaining pile of sand in her own time, just as she removed a 10 foot by 30 foot berm of Currituck county sand a year ago.

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Late afternoon Friday.

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This sandpiper doesn't seem to mind getting his feet wet.

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All this foam made Uncle Jack thirsty for a Rolling Rock.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:04 PM

Comments [2]

Friday, December 16, 2005
No Sunrise this Morning

    The ocean was magnificent though---big rollers coming in from the southeast with their tops being blown off by a stiff wind out of the west.  It was high tide again which didn't leave much room for walking but it was too cold to walk anyway.  Maybe later when the sun is supposed to show up and hang around for the rest of the day.

     It rained all day yesterday and continued to rain all night.  Uncle Jack was gratified to note that Lake Ciltvaira, which usually forms at the intersection of  Ciltvaira and Old Oregon Inlet Road at the 17.5 milepost after every rain, did not materialize this time.  Apparently the new topping on the street is high enough to keep the runoff from backing up onto the street which will make driving a lot safer in that area in the future.  Kudos to the N.C.D.O.T.

     Which gives him an opportunity to pontificate regarding the word "kudos" which is misused almost as often as "penultimate".  Kudos is not the plural of "kudo"----it is itself a singular word which takes a singular verb.  Uncle Jack realizes that a few degenerate dictionaries, realizing that the misuse of the word has become endemic, have knuckled under and allowed "kudos" status as either a singular or  plural word but he will have none of it. 

     Have a nice day.

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Not exactly what one could call a sunrise. An hour later it suddenly became a bright, sunny day.

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The Elph wasn't quite up to catching the magnificence of these waves.

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Uncle Jack was standing on the bottom step of the stairway at Whitecap Street and had to leap to escape this rogue wave that nearly soaked his beloved $6.89 Wal-Mart sneakers.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:19 AM

Comments [5]

Thursday, December 15, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag, Thursday December 15

    Uncle Jack strolled up to the beach at 6:45 this morning but he didn't stay long.  For one thing there was no beach to walk on because a stiff breeze is blowing from the northeast and the surf is way up at high tide.  And it's cold up there.

     The pre-sunrise sky was weirdly beautiful though and that made the trek worthwhile.  He wishes he could have stayed a bit longer but his tolerance level for icy wind is at an all-time low.  Rain is forecast for a little later in the day so he is glad he got outside at all.  It is not hard to believe that official winter is only a week away.

      Have a lovely day wherever you are and remember that shoveling snow kills more people every year than polar bears.

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Twenty minutes before official sunrise.

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Sea foam is flying this morning.

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A harbinger of the more severe northeasters to come during the next few months.

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It got even better than this later on but Uncle Jack was too chicken to stay around and record it for posterity.

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If you move quickly this house in Sonag (photographed the day after Isabel) could be yours for about $850,000.

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Seems a bit steep for a house without a fireplace. (That's the fireplace lying in a heap under the house after it fell to the beach during Isabel).

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:05 AM

Comments [3]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Sunset in Sonag

     Uncle Jack has been out of town for a couple of days so he hasn't been able to post his usual sunrise pictures. (Somehow sunrise over the parking lot of a Comfort Inn in Durham just doesn't cut it).  He did manage to catch a rather spectacular sunset last Sunday night, though, and the Elph did pretty well by it as you can see below.

      The reason he went to Durham was to get his annual check-up from his heartless cardiologist and he is pleased to report that he passed with flying colors.  Thanks to the new healthy lifestyle diet he and Mrs. U.J. have been enjoying for the past year his cholesterol  score is way down in the normal range for the first time in years, he has lost 10 pounds of fat which he did not need for any purpose, and his blood pressure reading was excellent. Now he is starting to worry that he might outlive his bank account.

     He is also very happy to announce that the Yellowhouse Gallery with which he has been affiliated  for the past 36 years will open under new ownership next spring.  Pete and Eve Turek of  Colington Harbour, who many of you may know from their long residency on the Outer Banks, have bought the gallery and plan to continue it very much in the same vein but with some exciting new ideas for making it an even more interesting place to visit. 

      Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. are pleased as punch at this turn of events because they have known Eve and Pete for many years and know that Yellowhouse will be in good hands with the Tureks at the helm.  We will be staying on through next spring and summer to help with the transition and we look forward to seeing all our wonderful customers again next year.


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Sunset Sunday December 11 from Uncle Jack's backyard.

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Moonrise over the ocean, Sunday night, simultaneous with sunset. A doubleheader.

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Sunrise Wednesday Dec. 14 from Uncle Jack's front porch. It was too cold to go up to the beach this morning and the clouds obscured actual sunrise anyway so he took this from the comfort of home at about 7:15.

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All those who use Old Oregon Inlet Road regularly are rejoicing at the speed with which it is being widened and repaved.

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The entire street has been widened and one lane has already been paved its entire 5 mile length. The other lane could be finished by next week at the rate the pavers are moving. Tax dollars well spent if you ask Uncle Jack.

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At noon today this was all that remained of the once palatial beach house fronting Surfside Drive in South Nags Head. Not the best advertisement for building on the ocean front.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:26 PM

Comments [10]

Sunday, December 11, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag, Sunday December 11

       It was a tad chilly on the beach this morning but perfect for walking due to the complete absence of  wind. As it was yesterday and the day before the beach is wide, flat and hard---all conducive to making tracks.  Uncle Jack takes inordinate pleasure in laying down the first set of footprints (human, that is) in a mile of sand on a glorious morning like this.


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20 minutes before official sunrise.

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The extremely low tide apparently revealed something to eat to the flocks of sandpipers who gathered at the edge of the surf this morning.

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Even the gulls were out in force.

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Owners of condos in the Dunes South development will be coughing up to pay the bulldozer operator who pushed up this faux dune yesterday. It replaces the vanished FEMA berm that was trucked in at great cost to taxpayers last year at this time.

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The sunrise got even better after a while but the battery in Uncle Jack's Elph ran dry with this picture. He seems to have forgotten the first rule of scouting which is "Be Prepared".

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A reminder to folks in the snowbelt who might be feeling sorry for themselves about now. It can happen here, too. This was taken in December of 1989 if Uncle Jack remembers correctly.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:07 AM

Comments [1]

Saturday, December 10, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag (Not!) December 10

    Thick clouds obscured the horizon this morning and a stiff breeze out of the north was pushing 36 F air around so Uncle Jack beat a hasty retreat from the beach at 7 when it became obvious that there would be no sunrise.

    The beach is magnificent, though----flat as a pancake, wide and hard enough to walk on without effort.  Perhaps when it warms up a bit he and Mrs. U.J. will be able to get out and see what the bulldozers have been up to.

     This is a wonderful time of the year on the Outer Banks in spite of the chilly weather. You can walk for miles on the beach and not see another soul (except for the dozer operators) and birds of all kinds are usually putting on a show, diving into the frigid ocean with abandon. 

     And there's no snow to be shoveled anywhere.

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This is where the sun was supposed to appear at 7 a.m. or thereabouts. Obviously it didn't.

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It's not quite officially winter yet but this is definitely a winter beach.

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It rained most of Friday so very little progress was made toward removing the Surfside derelict. If this standing wreckage could be installed in a New York City gallery it would be hailed as a monumental breakthrough in modern art.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:25 AM

Comments [1]

Friday, December 9, 2005
Everett Tate's Fish Recipe

    In a recent blog Uncle Jack waxed lyrical about the baked puppy drum dinner he and Mrs. U.J. enjoyed at the home of  Suzanne and Everett Tate. Since then numerous readers have asked him for the recipe which he is happy to provide this morning.  (This is even better than a sunrise picture if you like to eat fish). He is grateful to Suzanne Tate for sending it along.

Here is Everett's famous Baked Fish recipe--Outer Banks style.

--Use baking pan large enough to hold fish with 2" to 4" space around fish. Place fish in center of pan lengthwise. (Fish must be dressed and clear of scales, head, and tail with belly cleared of all matter.

--Score (cut) fish crosswise every inch on both sides,about 1/2  inch deep. Oil bottom of pan. Salt and pepper fish and place on its side in center of pan lengthwise.

--Peel 2 or 3 baking potatoes and slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Place sliced potatoes around fish (not on fish). Potatoes may be placed on top of other slices ifnecessary.
--Peel 2 medium onions sliced like the potatoes and place them on top of the potatoes.
-Slice salt pork (streak of lean, if possible)1/8 inch thick and cut into about l inch pieces. Place pieces of salt pork on onions and potatoes and fish.

--Mix 2 tablespoons of white cornmeal in large glass of water and pour over potatoes and onions (not on fish). Add additional water up to level of top of potatoes.

-- Bake one hour at 350 degrees and finish with 1/2 hour at 400 degrees.

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In case you didn't see it the first time here is the baked puppy drum just out of the oven.

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And here is the chef, Everett Tate with his masterpiece. Magnifique!

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This is where we were Thursday afternoon in the continuing saga of the condemned house on Surfside Drive.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:36 AM

Comments [3]

Thursday, December 8, 2005
It's cold out there.

    Uncle Jack checked the temperature at 6:30 this morning and almost decided to go back to bed.  The wind chill was 33 which unless he is mistaken is one degree above freezing.  And that's exactly what it felt like up on the beach.

     He didn't stay long enough to see if the sun was going to make an appearance at the appointed time but it didn't look too promising so he split.  On the way home he encountered the neighborhood deer (he saw them Sunday night in his own yard) munching up one of his neighbor's succulent bushes.  We stood and stared at each other for quite before Uncle Jack succumbed to the cold wind and continued home.

      A couple of years ago Mrs. Uncle Jack went to considerable trouble and expense to plant 100 day lily bulbs and several other costly shrubs in the back yard. It was her first and last adventure in gardening because the deer ate everything as soon as it blossomed. 

     Uncle Jack should hasten to say that he is not complaining about the cold.  After growing up in northern Wisconsin he realizes that in some places 33 degrees in December is considered balmy.  He hopes that even if you live in one of those places you will have a nice day.

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This is about as good as it got this morning. Tomorrow it is supposed to be raining at dawn so be grateful even for this.

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It was still too dark at 7 a.m. to get a very good picture but they seemed to enjoy posing. They looked like they might be mother and daughter.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:48 AM

Comments [4]

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Sun returns to Sonag

   Uncle Jack is pleased to report that the sun returned to South Nags Head this morning after a two-day absence.  It was cold on the beach this morning (in the low 30's) but the absence of wind and the flatness of the foreshore made walking a pleasure.  No doubt the bulldozers will be busy tearing it up today but until they start the beach is the place to be this morning.

     Uncle Jack would like to wish everyone a Happy Pearl Harbor Day.  It was 64 years ago on a Sunday and he was only 11 years old but he can still remember vividly how he heard the news. He and his dad were driving back into town (Ashland, Wisconsin) after several hours in the woods cutting firewood when they encountered a large crowd on the main street in front of the office of the Ashland Daily Press.

      This was long before the arrival of television in northern Wisconsin, of course, so people got the news where they could---in this case from sheets of teletype paper displayed in the window of the newspaper office.  The headlines were scary, even for an eleven-year-old whose grip on geography and politics was still very shaky.

      He did learn that the Japs, whoever they were, had pulled a dastardly trick and bombed a place called Pearl Harbor, wherever that was, and sank a lot of our unsinkable ships.  This was, of course, the beginning of our involvement in World War II,  during which time Uncle Jack greatly expanded his knowledge of geography and politics.

      It does seem rather amazing to Americans who lived through that period that the beastly Japanese would metamorphose into our best friends in Asia and that Toyota, Nissan, and Sony would become household words in this country. What an amazing world we live in. 

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What a lovely sight after two days of rain and dark clouds at what should have been dawn.

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Ditto again.

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And thrice ditto.

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This group of eskimos gathers daily at dawn on the Sonag beach with their sled dogs. That's Katie Morris in the foreground, relishing the frigid air.

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The beach was as wide, flat and clean as it gets in Sonag this morning. All ready for the bulldozers to resume their Sisyphean activities.

posted by Uncle Jack at 9:17 AM

Comments [4]

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Bracing weather

    Winter doesn't officially begin for two more weeks but you would never know it in South Nags Head. Yesterday morning an icy rain prevented Uncle Jack's usual dawn patrol and this morning, while it wasn't actually raining, an icy wind out of the north and the total absence of  anything resembling sunrise sent him packing after about two minutes on the beach.  He is already looking forward to his afternoon nap.

      The high point of the week so far was the fabulous dinner they enjoyed at the home of their friends Everett and Suzanne Tate. The piece de resistance was a whole puppy drum of which there was nothing left but a small heap of bones after the four of us got through with it.  Uncle Jack can state with complete confidence that nobody on the planet enjoyed a more satisfying  dinner on Sunday last.

    Have a nice day in spite of everything.

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Not many things are as beautiful as a sunrise over the ocean but here's one of them: a baked puppy drum with onions, potatoes and fatback---Outer Banks style.

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And here's the justifiably proud chef, Uncle Jack's good friend Everett Tate. He and Mrs. U.J. dined with the Tates Sunday night and he can tell you they have never had a better meal.

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Sunrise Tuesday December 6, 2005. Somewhere behind those clouds it's happening.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:28 AM

Comments [11]

Sunday, December 4, 2005
Sonag on Sunday 12/4

    Sunrise this morning was called on account of rain but the sun did appear later in the morning so Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. could take their usual stroll down the beach in Sonag.  Pictures below.

     Big news of the day is that a "For Sale" sign has appeared on yet another Nags Head institution.  This time it's Dowdy's Amusement Park on the Bypass near the 11 milepost, across the street from the new YMCA.

    It will be hard to imagine Nags Head without Dowdy's because it has been there forever ---a little bit of Coney Island that somehow escaped to the more genteel surroundings of the Outer Banks.  Like Newman's Shell Shop it was a fixture in Nags Head when Uncle Jack first came in 1969---a must visit for vacationers of the time. 

    Dowdy's takes up a very large tract of  land next door to the new Nags Head Elementary School---prime property that must be worth vastly more these days for almost any other use than as a repository for a few antiquated carnival rides and a go-kart track.  The nearest Wings is almost 100 yards away so maybe they will want to squeeze another one of those in along with a few more particle board palaces.

     Uncle Jack got a chuckle a few year's ago when he was fishing down at Oregon Inlet and a huge pink Buddy Davis-style sport fisherman rumbled by.  The name on the transom was "Dowdy's Amusement" which he thought was an inspired bit of Outer Banks wit. 

     Anyway he hopes that Dowdy's property has gotten too expensive for anybody to buy and that it will be back again next year in all its tacky glory.  Where else will he be able to get his cotton candy fix?

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The first 'dozer of the pre-winter sand-pushing season has appeared in South Nags Head. Like a swallow returning to Capistrano only noisier.

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Bit by bit the Surfside Drive derelict is disappearing. By the end of this week there may be another nice stretch of wide beach in Sonag.

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This is the beach at Surfside since the town gave up on trying to save part of the street with giant sandbags and trucked-in berms. Lots of room for folks to spread their blankets next summer.

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Another Japanese Tonka-Toy at work in Sonag. What ever happened to Caterpillar?

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:45 PM

Comments [6]

Saturday, December 3, 2005
Sunrise in Sonag, Saturday Dec. 3

    Mighty cold on the beach this morning but mighty pretty, too.  Temperature 36 F at 6:30 a.m. with a light wind out of the north. Refreshing.

    Uncle Jack hopes it will be a nice day where you are, too.

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Picture 1 6:35 a.m.

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Picture 2

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Picture 3

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Picture 4

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Looks like a bright, sunny day in store. Uncle Jack is very happy he won't be working outside though.

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Yesterday's high surf left a cleanly swept, albeit severely tilted, beach in most parts of Sonag. Great walking conditions for folks who have one leg shorter than the other.

posted by Uncle Jack at 7:32 AM

Comments [6]

Friday, December 2, 2005
Big Doings in Sonag 12/2/2005

     As South Nags Head has grown rapidly in recent years its main street, Old Oregon Inlet Road, has deteriorated even faster. The incessant pounding from thousands of trucks bearing  particle board, sheetrock, framing materials, roofing shingles, cement blocks, and concrete (not to mention countless tons of Currituck Sounty berm sand) has left the road in dreadful shape.

      As one who risks his life daily on this antiquated and brokendown  thoroughfare Uncle Jack was thrilled to discover yesterday that N.C.D.O.T. has at last decided to do something about it.  Hordes of workers operating paving machinery of all kinds have descended upon the neighborhood to widen and eventually repave N.C. 1242 as it is officially known.  The work should be finished before the onslaught of tourists next spring according to D.O.T. spokesmen.

     In the meantime Old Oregon Inlet Road is even more hazardous than usual but Uncle Jack, for one, is more than happy to put up with the danger and inconvenience. Besides, the whole operation is more fun to watch than anything on TV with the possible exception of  Fox News.   

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Not the most spectacular sunrise this morning but worth getting up for. The surf was way up making beachwalking difficult because of the many sandbagged houses now encroaching on what should be the public's beach.

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It's impossible to get around something like this without getting your feet wet so Uncle Jack had to turn around. He talked with some visitors on Sunday who said they caught a fish off their deck at high tide.

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The sun actually popped into view at about 6:55 after which Uncle Jack beat a hasty retreat from the icy north wind.

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"SLOW" is the governing word on Old Oregon Inlet Road this week. (When it isn't "STOP")

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Whatever needs doing there's a machine for it, most of which seem to have been made in Japan.

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There don't seem to be as many men leaning on their shovels as there were when Uncle Jack was a kid. They're probably hanging around down by the unemployment office.

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The first few bites of the clamshell came out of the derelict house on Surfside this morning. A few more days and the beach will be significantly wider in that area---wider and safer.

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What a pity it didn't get moved when it was still a viable house, like Cuckoo's Nest which has gotten a new life in a safer area.

posted by Uncle Jack at 4:33 PM

Comments [4]

Thursday, December 1, 2005
Trip to Durham 11/30

    Uncle Jack and Mrs. U.J. drove to Durham yesterday, leaving before sun-up,  hence the absence of sunrise pictures.  He presumes the sun did come up but he wasn't there to see it so he can't say for sure.  (If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it does it make a sound?  Something like that.)

   With the Mini in fine form and all of the new four-lane segments of  Highway 64 open including the magnificent and long-awaited Knightdale Bypass the trip to Durham was a breeze, requiring only 3 hours and 20 minutes door to door (our destination was on Fayetteville Rd. in Durham near the gigantic mall) which was a good half-hour faster than we have ever done it before.

   The return trip was something else.  Uncle Jack became momentarily confused (as he often does these days) and turned off  I-40 at the wrong exit which added roughly 45 exhausting minutes through rush-hour traffic around Raleigh to get back on track.  Not one of Uncle Jack's finest performances behind the wheel.

   The fall leaves were magnificent in many places along the way but he couldn't stop to take pictures so you will have to take his word for it.  If you have time this week-end you might want to drive over to Columbia and back as the leaves along 64 in the swamps are very pretty right now, especially where they are reflected in the canal waters.

    He had planned to go up to the beach this morning and record the sunrise but there wasn't one so he stayed inside.  The wind is blowing and it's cold again.  Definitely not a good day for beachwalking but it should provide an ideal setting for his nap this afternoon.

   Have a lovely day wherever you are---even northern Minnesota if that is possible.  

P.S.  Uncle Jack's only begotten son, Eric, has joined his father and his own son, Alex, in the blogosphere.  You can view the brilliant results at http://spaces.msn.com/members/finkrecords/

Uncle Jack's bosom swells with pride.


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This whimsical sculpture enlivens the courtyard of a very upscale commercial complex on Fayetteville Road in Durham, as do the others in the pictures below.

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Picture 2

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Picture 3

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Picture 4

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On Tuesday workers seemed to be constructing a driveway to the derelict house in front of Surfside Drive preparatory to tearing it down. Stay tuned for further progress reports as the wreckers begin their odious chore.

posted by Uncle Jack at 8:04 AM

Comments [1]

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After retiring in 2005 after 35 years as owner/operator of Yellowhouse Gallery and Annex on the Beach Road in Nags Head, Uncle Jack, accompanied by Mrs. Uncle Jack (a.k.a. Susan), commenced to travel extensively. This blog is a chronicle of their ramblings around the U.S. (in their redoubtable Mini Cooper convertible) as well as visits to England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Malta, interspersed with lengthy stays in South Nags Head and Baltimore between trips. He took a lot of pictures along the way, many of which are posted along with each blog entry.
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