Beach House Monday.
Monday morning fulfilled the News14 weather forecaster’s predictions. With great sadness and a shade of sarcasm, I muttered, “Thank you, Joshua McKinney, for last night’s forecast for today.” It rained then poured early. Drops pelted my bedroom window and woke me. My heart sank. Our only agreed-upon adventure away from the beach house? We had hoped to drive the half hour to Beaufort and pick up the ferry to Cape Lookout. Our desire was to visit the lighthouse that has stood through many storms and the wild horses who boast a lineage that dates back at least 500 years. I turned on News14 in the morning only to hear Lee Ringer give a bleaker forecast for Monday but perhaps not as bleak for Tuesday. It was a weather event crap shoot.
Shortly after 9:00, my cell rang. I recognized the number as outerbanksferry.com’s, and I knew what I would be told. No, they weren’t sending the ferries to Cape Lookout today, but they would be going out to Shackleford Banks and Bird Shoals. Cape Lookout tours, weather permitting, departed daily at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm, and they would try to go out Tuesday. Just in case of good-enough weather, I made our reservations over the phone for the 1:00 ferry, and the caller informed me that should they have to cancel, she would call me at least an hour ahead of time. She also asked that if we decided to cancel would I please let her know. The outerbanksferry.com woman was helpful and pleasant, and I will thank her face-to-face, weather permitting. She also informed me that we should pack sunscreen, bug spray, our cameras, and a cooler of drinks and snacks. My first thought was that I’d have to pre-mix my Bloody Marys and hope they didn’t turn into watery messes, but my practical mind knew what she meant. In any case, we were set to travel to the lighthouse and the horses on Tuesday, weather permitting.
As it has turned out, the sun peeked through the clouds for a while … long enough for both B and N to sit outside for a bit but come back in again because it was too hot and starting to sprinkle-drizzle. By noon, tents and umbrellas had been erected, chairs had been placed, and swimmers braved the waves. Why care about getting wet when you’re at the beach? Mid-afternoon and to the south, denim-colored clouds threatened a storm. Even the visual threat of a distant storm failed to deter beach lovers who spilled onto the sand in the resurgent sprizzle. And still the surf continued to roll and pound, approach and retreat, shush and fizz.
Late lunch time. Apple and cranberry chicken salad, chips, crackers, and, as all good southern folk must have, home-made pimiento cheese.
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Ah! The pimiento cheese! I had neglected to incorporate the kindness shown us Saturday morning by fairly-new friends who with each passing day prove to be inherently fun and thoughtful. R and M, rather new to our town but not to North Carolina, had dined with us the evening before. M offered to whip up her now-famous pimiento cheese, and B said, “Oh, please. That’s too much. That’s too kind.” Instead, I said, “If you really want to …”
Sure enough, on Saturday morning, just prior to us leaving the house, the doorbell rang, and there stood R and M with a lunch bucket for us to take. It wasn’t until after they had left that I opened the lunch bucket and found not only the promised home-made pimiento cheese but also home-made lemon squares, crackers for the cheese, and a note wishing us a lovely vacation.
A note! A hand-written note! In the lunch bucket! Even my mother never did that for me when I was a student! I was elated, and that simple, sweet gesture of generosity made this transplanted Yankee love my new southern friends even more.
And speaking of kindnesses, I am compelled to acknowledge fellow wineau and walking oenological encyclopedia, Good Neighbor R. As I handed him a 1/3-full bottle of Krupp Brothers’ “The Doctor” to finish, GNR offered – for the umpty-umpth time – to trim our shrubettes. He finally wore me down; he is both persistent and genuinely kind. Thrice he had loaned me his clippers, and thrice I had said I hadn’t used them … yet. Thrice he offered to trim for me. This time, I said, “yes.” If he so desired. If he had time. If he felt the need. And if, when I return home, find that he managed to trim as offered, I will thank him face-to-face when I see him on Sunday. If he didn’t, I won’t be upset. He’s too good a soul and too wonderful a friend.
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Back to the Beach … the Creepy Part.
The sky grew darker, and I wondered what the rest of the day would bring. After all, if we were “stuck” in the beach house with wine, alcohol, books, and computers, we would be fine. We would wait for the rain to subside before venturing out to replenish our vodka supply at the ABC store, check out the Justin Bieber beach towels at one of the beachy ‘superstores,’ and find dinner. But we wondered if the poltergeists of the house join us again.
Don’t believe in poltergeists? Personally, I’m just not certain yet. But long after I’d sliced a tomato, one slice was found on the floor in the middle of the kitchen. None of us put it there. We reasoned that it flung itself to its kitchen floor death for whatever reason it felt necessary.
The empty dishwasher in the kitchen started up more than one on its own no matter what we did to cancel a cycle, turn it off, or open the door.
The beach house phone rang once while B was standing next to it. There is no dial tone. It’s not connected.
Late Sunday evening, as we sat on the deck, gazing at the moonlight on the ocean, the light in B’s bedroom flickered on and off twice.
Monday morning, we heard muffled booms, not once but twice. The house shuddered lightly with the booms, and we looked at each other. The first set boomed as if it were the heartbeat of a giant. boom-BOOM. boom-BOOM. boom-BOOM. B was about to step outside when they stopped. Within a half hour, the booms returned, although they weren’t cardiac-esque. They were steady with several counts between them, like the drumbeat accompanying men into old-timey war. N went to the front of the house. I went outside. We continued to hear the booms, but no one on the beach seemed to notice anything. We tossed around some theories, settling on the water heater as the source of the booms. Wherever it was located.
The street number of the house is, of course, 1313.
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Official Unofficial Fan Club.
Lunch was lovely. “Thank you, B, for making lunch.” After showers (inside) and downpours (outside), we decided that when the weather gets tough, the tough crack out the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2010. We are the official fan club of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Thank you, Cellar 275, for stocking them for us.”
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When the rain ceased, and we’d had our wine, we gathered ourselves up off the couches and decided it was time to hit the stores. Lo and behold, that’s when the house decided to develop a maintenance issue. Our intended vodka run en masse was abbreviated to just B and me as N volunteered to stay back at the house and wait for the maintenance guy. B and I returned to the house before the maintenance guy showed up, so we waited.
Ginger-haired adorable maintenance dude showed up at 6:30, fixed the problem, charmed the ladies, and explained the booms. Apparently, there is an island nearby on which the military detonates ordnance. He said they hadn’t done that in a couple of months, but when they do it, the windows will rattle. Nice. At least we learned that there weren’t bad spirits or evil children hidden in the attic who made the noises.
Issue fixed, it was time to pile into the car and head out in search of sustenance. Dinner at Rucker John’s wasn’t bad. We had to wait at the bar (oh, woe were we!), and the bartender improvised an Almond Joy martini for me, and I applauded the outcome. The fried mushroom appetizer was divine. My prime rib was juicy and delicious. The general atmosphere of the restaurant approached shabby, but our server was pleasant and more attentive than I’d hoped for in a beach town on a Monday night. A last-minute stop at a Wings beach store yielded our Emerald Isle t-shirts and were on our way.
I was ready for Tuesday and hoped for good weather.