If you’ve read my blog you probably know a place in NC, Belhaven, is close to my heart. This summer I got to visit, and it was joyous. Other aunts, uncles & cousins who don’t live there were visiting. My generous uncle had a crew to cook & clean up. We had the best fried shrimp I’d had in a few years. And this incredible layer cake he gets in Currituck or somewhere on the way.

My cousins and I rode all over town in my uncles golf cart. It’s probably less than a mile from downtown to River Forest Manor, where we were staying. The house is being renovated and I told a little of its history here. While downtown, the golf cart ran out of gas and we were chugging and pushing home, and I was periscoping it, which was hilarious. It took 1/2 an hour to get back!

My Uncle rented a luxury bus that had bedrooms, a kitchen, etc. He also rented some of the outer cottages that have been renovated (very nicely, I might add, they were skanky for a long time.) He also brought his cars. One of them is the the Rolls from Arthur, which my uncle got at an auction. ALS (which killed Dudley Moore, star of this film,) is related to Parkinson’s, which my uncle has had for 20 years. He’s only 10 years older than me and has lived such an active life. I got to drive his newer Rolls in the parade! Here are some pics from the weekend.


River Forest Manor


Preston and Uncle Sonny


Water Street view


Bishop Home on Water St.


Preston rolls into Belhaven


4 of his cars


My cuz Chelsea



Preston and Aunt Libby


Preston’s Kris Kraft


Arthur Car


Boats at the marina


Preston’s Rolls


 Aunt Nellie’s house


I drove this!


My view at parade


Late afternoon


Boats at the dock


New Marina


All the water pics are Pantego Creek


There used to be a bumper sticker that read “4th of July in Belhaven”. This was in the 70’s, I suppose.

I’m sure I’ve discussed Belhaven before. The town is on a peninsula in Beaufort County, NC. It’s South of Hyde County & North of Pamlico Co by road.

My parents grew up there. Dad’s folks were from Bertie Co. & Washington, the county seat of Beaufort. Not to be mistaken with the charming town of Beaufort south of Belhaven near Morehead.

Mom grew up there. Dad was born in Norfolk, lived in Manteo & moved to Belhaven when he was about 12.

Anywho, there is a big Independence Day celebration in Belhaven every year. The town swelled from about 2000 folks to about 20,000 when I was a kid.

And, I could sit on Granny’s front porch on Main St. & watch it all. It was the most fun. At 9 pm, Avon Skin So Soft slathered on, we went a block over to Aunt Nellie’s to watch the fireworks from her pier. The story of the year the whole caboodle of fireworks exploding prematurely & the (possibly inebriated) operators diving into the water to escape was often retold.

When I was 12 the small community where we lived had its first 4th of July celebration. This was in Beaverdam, Hanover Co, VA. It was 1976, the Bicentennial. I remember the lady who organized it all riding into the Ruritan park on the hood of a white car.

My friend’s Mom was an artist, and both of her parents were a lot of fun. Her Dad had an old open box truck from the 30’s or 40’s. Barb J painted the stars & stripes on the truck & my 2 best friends & I spent a few 4ths (into our early 20’s!) on the back of that truck in the parade. I’ll have to find a picture.

Afterwards we’d go to Lake Anna & ski. Fun, fun times. I always missed Belhaven, though. It was hard to go back after Granny & Memom weren’t there anymore. However, I have lots of relatives there & spent several 4ths there in recent years.

One year my friend and I went to the park here in Richmond. There is a stage called Dogwood Dell & we sat on a blanket & listened to Patriotic music & mellowed way out. They had fireworks there. Later, we were driving on a parkway & pulled over (along with many others!) to watch the fireworks from the baseball diamond.

Tim likes a quiet 4th. We love to watch the Boston Pops & fireworks on PBS. A few years ago our elder son was in Boston on the 4th & saw this stunning fireworks display live.

Today has been mellow. Took a walk with Penny the dog & my sweet friend TT. I also sat in the sun awhile. Decided if I wasn’t doing any house or yard work I was not going to feel guilty, just enjoy it.

Our Internet & TV (Fios) have been down since last night. They are supposed to come & hopefully fix it by 2 pm. If not, I may just drag Tim to some live fireworks.

I’ve had a hard time reading books lately. I’ve gotten so into long-form magazine articles, I wonder if that is why. I ordered Tom Grimes’s novel City of God a while back. The book is stamped “no longer the property of Spokane library”, which amused me.


Her fantastic blog is over here.  I linked to her writer’s workshop page where I got today’s writer’s prompt, since I didn’t wake up with anything.  Sometimes I wake up teeming with life and ideas.  I swear you’ll experience that me one day!  In the meantime,

Write about a time you hid from someone, or a time you disguised who you really were.

I won’t be a downer and describe the many recurring dreams I have where I’m being chased and trying to hide!  Did I mention if I had one superpower it would be to transport myself, i.e. disappear?

No, once I was visiting my sister at her school in Central North Carolina.  She lived with her sorority sisters in their house, and I’m always up for some shenanigans.  She had briefly dated this fellow, and I called him and told him I was whoever, and I’d met him at such and such party, and I’d love to see him again.  We agreed upon a meeting place, and she and her ‘sisters’ hid and watched and tittered at our meeting.

I dressed up like a country bumpkin with no social skills, and chatted with him for about 15 min- 1/2 hr., trying to convince him we’d met before, and how much he had admired me.  Alas, I don’t remember much more about it except Betsy and her sisters and I thought it was quite funny.  I think I had him convinced he had met me.

And that is a time I disguised who I was.  Which is difficult for me because I am compulsively honest.  Although right now I’m not sure I’ve been honest with myself lately, which has nothing to do with the writing prompt so I’ll leave you with a pretty picture.  Going back to my Denmark files…..


I can’t remember the name of the hotel, but I think it was designed by the brilliant Arne Jacobsen.  These are the first artichoke lamps I ever saw.  Aren’t they stunning?

today at Goodwill.  $1 ea.  I wrote a post about each one, with links to them–all 5, w/ authors & why I got the book.  Then WordPress refused to post it, and there was no draft saved.  Sooo, I shall tell you about ea. as I go along.

I’ll leave you with a picture.  I went to Sweden with my friend, Stephanie Joyce.  While there she purchased a piece of luggage, and I took this pic of her.  I thought she looked futuristic.  The hotel was contemporary, with lots of cool lighting.  Click on Stephanie’s name to go to her website.  She is an artist.  I looked at her site for the first time in awhile & it took my breath away.  Anyhoo, here it is:

On a chilly, sunny day.

Flat terrain, near the Pamlico Sound.

Just a church and some houses.

My Uncle Guy Swindell helped build the church.

On our way to Lake Mattamuskeet,

were Virginia, Tim and me.

Uncle Guy was my great-uncle,

and Virginia’s stepfather.

I met a Spencer,

surely a relative in this tiny, swampy place,

home to my ancestors.


the wood,

carved, dark, dusty.

narrow, spiral steps.


the steeple.

Church at Fairfield, Hyde Co., NC

LOL Moment


I was listening to the news this morning on NPR, which is a big pleasure of mine.  I laughed so hard when the sober newscaster said “The president of BP, Tony Hayward, apologized this morning for referring to the people and businesses of the Gulf region as little people.”  That is amusing on so many levels, and has brought me laughs and smiles all day!

Here’s another pic from last weekend, just for fun!

A wild water plant from East Lake, Bog Country.

There are some wild water hyacinths in there also, but I don’t think I captured any in the photo.

First, location, location, location.  406 E. Main Street, Belhaven.  Just 2-3 blocks from downtown, around the corner from Water Street & Aunt Nellie’s house on the water.

The floors were always painted light gray, and always gleaming.  It was about 5 or 6 feet deep, and had a wide 2 or 3 step stoop.  After FEMA raised all the houses, the porch had lots more steps, but it was a long time after Granny was gone.  It was as wide as the house, which was late, late Victorian.  Nothing fancy, but oh, the most comfortable, comforting, safe place I ever knew.  Always something we loved to eat in the cookie jar, and usually something smelling good on the stove.

Back to the porch.  At one end was a hanging, 2-person swing and it was old.  Once I believe my cousin Susan and I were swinging on it and the screws came undone or stripped and it dropped to the floor of the porch.  I believe our egos were bruised, mostly.  The swing was painted dark, dark green.  She had 2 benches on the porch.  One was a sort of plain & simple federal style reproduction, the other matched the swing.  I wish I could find a picture.  The boards were very close together, and they looked about the size of a broom, cut in half length-wise & round side up.  The design was kind of deco.  She always had pretty plants on the porch and it was pristine.  In front of the porch were hydrangea bushes with blue blooms, lots of blooms.

We always had a crowd on the 4th of July because it was a prime spot from which to view the annual 4th of July parade.  And all afternoon we’d watch people parading up and down Main Street on foot, bike, car and the occasional shriner’s go-kart. 

The memory of that porch at Granny’s is sacred to me.  I’ll find some pics of the 4th of July w/ everyone sitting up on the porch and post them sometime.  Since I don’t have any of the porch, I am posting a pic of my sisters and me ca. 1964.  I’m the baby.  It’s in front of Memom’s house, and you can see Memom’s red Rambler in the background.  My oldest sister, Lynn, then Betsy, then me (looking messy, as always).  Oh, and you can see why bangs don’t really work on me.

Lynn, Betsy, Julie ca. 1964, Memom's, Riverview St., Belhaven

Susan & I were very mischievous.  Eventually she had it taken down, but Granny used to have a huge cedar or some time of conifer that reached the ground in her front yard.  Once the neighbor lady across the street was calling for her daughter or grandaughter & Susan & I were on the porch, hidden, by the tree, from her view.  We kept answering her, “what?” every time she called.  I think Granny caught us doing this and admonished us.  I’ll have to check w/ Susan.  She’s my cousin with whom I have many fond memories of being at Granny’s.