Sunday, August 20, 2017

His name is Larry

Larry is homeless. I met him while sitting on a bench waiting for friends in Bay Harbor Park in San Diego.  He stood about 5’8” and might have weighed 130 pounds.  He appeared clean, but like many without access to dental care, he had very few teeth.  He was pushing a baby stroller full of his belongings. The San Diego Symphony was setting up to play music from Fiddler on the Roof in the park.  Larry asked me to watch his belongings because he needed to go to the box office.

I waited as Larry walked to the box office and when he returned he handed me a brochure which listed the summer park events.  He was excited about the different concerts and his face lit up when he saw fireworks were on the schedule for that evening.  He was out of breath and said he needed to sit and catch his breath because he had COPD.  It was then he began to share his story with me.  He started with “I wasn’t always this way” (referring to his COPD).   With tears and broken, breathless words he related his near-death experience. 

On May 14, 2016 Larry was asleep and awoke to what he thought was someone kicking him in the back.  Only what he felt was not someone kicking him, but someone stabbing him in the back with a butcher knife. A knife that was left in his left arm.  By all accounts Larry was left for dead but, for reasons even he cannot explain, he survived. 

Larry said he didn’t initially realize he had been stabbed.  When the offender left, Larry smoked a cigar.  He reached around his back and when he pulled his hand back it was full of blood. That’s when he used his free government cell phone to call 9-1-1.

Larry spent 29 days in the hospital.  29 days. When I told him it sounded like God had a plan for him, Larry’s response was “I’m a living testimony.” Larry was one victim in a series of attacks in San Diego in 2016.  

We continued to talk and I learned Larry was a veteran. He said he had built condominiums and office buildings without any injuries.  He also appeared to enjoy music.   

I do not know how Larry ended up on the streets or why, after being in the hospital, he returned to the streets. What I do know is he appeared to have a joy for life.  A joy some people who have much more than Larry never seem to find.  Larry did not ask for anything from me, did not appear angry, and did not indulge in self-pity.  And when I left, with a smile on his face, he raised his hand in the air and said “Remember the Bee Gees!”

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quarter Moon Books & Gifts...a treasure on Topsail Island.

Books have been a staple in my life for, well, as long as I can remember.  I love reading them, writing them, and collecting them.  I could spend hours exploring bookstores, reading the covers, and losing myself in the stories they contain. 
Three years ago I started planning my move to the coast and came across an article in Our State magazine about Quarter Moon Books & Gifts.  I was immediately intrigued.  It looked like a perfect combination of my two loves - books and the beach - so I put it on the top of my list of places to go.

One sunny afternoon after work I made the thirty minute drive down the island.  I knew from the moment I walked into the store there was something special about it. I grabbed a cold beer and a book by one of my favorite authors, and found a seat on the deck. I smiled as the stress of a busy day melted away. 
Coffee, tea and smoothies 
You see, Quarter Moon is more than a bookstore.  At the front of the store, behind the counter is a coffee, tea, and a smoothie bar. There are gorgeous postcards, funny greeting cards, beautiful jewelry and some pretty clothes throughout the store.  
Do you need some decor for your house or some gifts for the kids in your life? You can find books about the sea, stuffed whales and turtles, some fun temporary tattoos, and a classic book or two.  If it's decor you are looking for you can find some ceramic and glass pieces, light boxes, candles, and beautiful artwork.  Jewelry from local artisans, gorgeous coffee mugs, and of course stationery and wine glasses are displayed throughout.  
Oh, and there are books....books for all ages. New and used.  Books on local history. Cookbooks. Fun beach reads. And a title or two to lift your spirits. You will have no problem finding something to take to the beach to read.
Music on the deck
Wine for all
Finally, there is a gorgeous bar, built by a local artisan, where you can get a glass of wine or a cold beer. Sit at the bar, on the couch, or find a spot on the deck.  If you decide to sit outside you will be able to hear the waves crashing against the shore and the seagulls flying overhead.  It's the perfect place to relax. And if you have a well-behaved dog - they are welcome too!
Over the last three years, Quarter Moon has become a fixture in my life.  You will find me there almost every Saturday night (sometimes Friday too) listening to talented local musicians.
Ben and Heather
 I have had the pleasure of getting to know the owner, Lori Fisher, and feel blessed to call her friend.  She has owned the Quarter Moon for over twenty years and has grown the business into a "must see" on the island.  

Lori has a great staff who have also become friends.  Marie, Mollie, and Melinda all bring charm and life to the business.  
Marie and Mollie
Within a couple of visits they will greet you by name and whether it's your first or fiftieth time there, you will feel welcomed.  Marie will fill your glass with your favorite drink and Mollie will regale you with a spirited story.  Music will fill the venue and laughter will abound.  One of the regular musicians, Doug McFarland, makes a regular appearance and even wrote a song about Quarter Moon.  If you are there when he's playing you will hear the "regulars" singing along and once he knows your favorite song(s) he will be sure to fit it into the set.   Be sure to ask him to sing the Cadbury Egg's sure to make you smile.  
Doug McFarland
Last night I asked Marie and Mollie what their favorite thing is about working at Quarter Moon and after giving it some thought, both said it was the relationships.  Relationships with each other and relationships with the "regulars." 
I am happy to say I have become a regular at Quarter Moon. I have made friends with the other "regulars" and even a few tourists.  I have fallen in love with the energy and the atmosphere of the place and the people.  I recommend it to everyone that will listen and always take my visitors for a drive down the island so they can experience it for themselves.  
If you are ever on Topsail Island, take a drive south to 708 S Anderson Drive.  Join me for a good book and a drink on the deck.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Twenty years ago I packed my things and moved out of the house I had purchased with my, now, ex-husband. My daughter and I moved into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in Kansas City and set forth on a new journey.  If you would have told me then what the next twenty years would bring I wouldn't have believed it.

In the past twenty years I have moved.... a lot.  14 times to be exact.  I have rented apartments, houses, townhomes, and even a loft in the city, but I have not owned any of these homes.  I have finished college, had another child, went to the Police Academy, made friends, lost friends, fallen in love, had my heart shattered, and moved across country. A lifetime has passed and I am now 1216 miles from where I started. My children and I live in a tiny rental house in a charming seaside village in North Carolina where we have decided to plant some roots.  

In seventeen short days I will be closing on the first home I've owned since 1997. I will pack my boxes, load the truck and drive the four miles to my new home. It will make the 40th move in my lifetime...and God-willing, the last. Looks like I'm....