An anhinga (the snakebird) I saw while on Bald Head Island helping with the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.

On January 2, I went over to Bald Head Island to help with the Audubon Society‘s Christmas Bird Count. I know what you’re thinking, The Christmas Bird Count? But it’s January. But that was the best time for bird counters on the Cape Fear Coast to get together.

I’m not an experienced birder, so I found myself attached to a friendly group who was happy to have a novice along. They even lent me some binoculars. The day was foggy and it was cold and you can read about it on The Island Times, the blog of Bald Head Island Limited.

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Snowy palm tree in my neighborhood.

I miss snow. Living at the beach, we don’t see it much and it’s an even when we do, everyone down here in Wilmington panics and they forget how to drive and they buy all the bread, milk and toilet paper at Harris Teeter. The road crews down here are always caught off guard by snow, they don’t really have much equipment or many supplies (or really much experience) dealing with it, so an inch of snow will shut down the county for a day. Usually the threat of an inch of snow is enough to have the school board declare a snow day.

Yesterday, Sunday, was one such day. At 3 p.m. a note appeared at the top of the screen. “School Canceled – New Hanover County.” I laughed. Lauren laughed. The forecast was for snow and a “wintery mix” and every time the weather man has made this same forecast, the school board closes school and the public panics.

This morning it was cold, but clear. About a half hour after I got up I noticed the first snowflakes. A few minutes later I looked again – the car had some snow on the top. Over the next two hours it snowed about three inches. Now there’s a nice layer of sloppy, sleety, icy crap under three inches of beautiful snow. Since I work from home and Lauren was too, we took a quick walk around the block. Here are some photos.

 

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Lauren in the snow.

Our house in the snow.

 

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Lauren and I, self portrait with Android phone.

A beautifully decorated Christmas tree welcomed visitors to my in-laws' house on the Southport Christmas Homes Tour.

I’m fortunate enough to live near and have a great relationship with my in-laws. They live in Southport, NC, only 30-odd miles south of Wilmingtong, and I worked for a few years with my father-in-law, Bob Dzubak. Bob taught me to build cabinets and some key design principles and introduced me to the world of woodworking. My mother-in-law, Kathy, or KD, has a great eye for design. A few years ago, Bob and KD were looking to move out of a gated community and into the town of Southport, so Bob and I built a house. Well, we didn’t exactly build it, he hired framers and painters and all that, but we refined the layout and look of the house, designed, built and installed the cabinetry and built a beautiful home. This year KD decided to decorate in her usual way but put their home on the Christmas Homes Tour. Here are a few pictures showing off the house and the cabinetry. Enjoy, and Merry Chistmas.

It was a rainy day, but the house's holiday spirit couldn't be dampened.

A table-filling poinsettia greeted visitors on the Christmas Homes Tour.

There was a giant Santa in the TV room. He freaked me out a little (sorry, Santa).

A table full of Santas. I hope they bring me lots of presents.

KD festooned the breakfast bar with live greens and fruit. The pomegranates were my favorite.

No detail was spared, even the shelves above the butcher-block cutting board were decorated.

The dining room table was carefully decorated.

KD sait it took forever to wrap all of the little presents on the table.

Two amaryllis (amaryllises, amarallisi?) that KD grew for the occasion.

The living room was filled with live greenery, flowers and even the Grinch.

Like I said, the Grinch.

KD's treatment of the mantle shelf was beautiful.

Down the hall is the master suite, where KD was showing off her green thumb with this table of plants.

The kitchen table looked so great, I thought you'd like to see it again.

 

No Boundaries International Art Colony took over Captain Charlie's Cottages for two weeks of furious art making.

 

Three Wilmington artists started an art colony on Bald Head Island a few years ago. Now the No Boundaries International Art Colony brings artists from around the world to Bald Head Island for two weeks of art and camaraderie with fellow artists. I was lucky enough to visit No Boundaries for the second consecutive year and to attend their closing gala and gallery show. I wrote a story about it here.

 

 

 

Shawn Best, director of The Woods Gallery on Bald Head Island, paints on the porch.

 

 

Tubes and cups of color wait for the artists return.

 

 

Two weeks ago I got my hands on an interesting product that’s going to help me take my Adventure Blogs for Bald Head Island to a new level – a DryCASE. DryCASE is a waterproof, vacuum-sealed, crystal-clear bag for electronic devices.

I know what you’re thinking, Great, but how’s that going to make his Adventure Blogs better?

Well, for starters, if I’m paddleboarding, surfing, kayaking or doing something where I may get wet, I can leave my camera in my Sea-to-Summit dry bag and use my phone, which shoots 5 mp (plenty for web-quality photos) to get some action shots and even video.

I wish I had one at the start of summer when I went paddleboarding for the first time. I was way too nervous to bring my camera, but with my phone in the DryCASE hanging around my neck, I could have taken some awesome first-person shots to let you see what paddleboarding is all about. It would’ve been awesome to have when I went sailing too.

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