Delights: October 28 to November 3

Facing east, Kevin captured this magnificent sunset photo on his bike ride along the Potomac River.

October 28: The wind swept me off the beach. I landed on a sunny deck overlooking Sinepuxent Bay, courtesy of the Assateague National Seashore Visitors Center. With rocking chairs and lovely views, the deck offered the perfect place for me to read my book. Tourists admired the view, snapped selfies and ignored me — until a man my age asked me what I was reading.

I know why he asked: the cover of my book was straight out of 1950s pulp fiction, all lurid poses and chiaroscuro. Perhaps more surprising was the the lapel-grabbing text, which my visitor couldn’t see: “The famous novel by the Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner: Sanctuary.” (Considering Faulkner’s other works, calling Sanctuary famous, I think, is a stretch…)

Why I owned this particular Faulkner novel and this edition, I don’t know. Its peculiarity, though, is what prompted my visitor to tell me his own story about books. He proudly claims no bookshelves in his house and only one box of books. “Well, you and your husband are librarians . . .,” I suggested.

Oh no, he said, that’s not the reason. “When we downsized, I sold all my other books: 330 boxes of them.” 

Kevin, Nate, Jeremiah and I have many, many books. Three hundred and thirty boxes sounds like an overwhelming number. I guess I could make a rough survey of our bookshelves. But maybe I don’t want to know.

October 29: We stood in the church graveyard, well past dark, a shivery wind sometimes brushing our cheeks. The Berlin (Maryland) Ghost Tour guide leaned in to show us a photo, and then she squeaked. “I thought that tombstone was a person,” she said. Meanwhile, I thought that gray-hooded person was a tombstone. This, I thought, was a pretty good start.

Leading us through the tiny brick-clad 200-year old town, she told of ghost cats haunting an old fishmonger alley, “healing trees” and electromagnetic “ley lines,” and a despondent spirit woman known to stand right there (where I was standing; I moved). A car blared the song “Ghostbusters” as it passed us, and we appreciated the laugh, for soon we stood in front of a large 1830s house that, despite a fresh coat of paint and perfect location, hadn’t been occupied (by living people) for over 70 years.

We finished in the well-lit courtyard of an old (haunted) hotel and said goodnight. I walked to my car alone down the dark empty street. The leaves scudding next to me sounded like footsteps.

I’m glad I left all the lights on at home. 

The graveyard of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church prompted stories of a haunted carousel in nearby Ocean City.

October 29: I returned today for a closer look at one of those haunted houses. Definitely not the long-abandoned one, but instead a lovely house museum that held the “healing tree” on its grounds. Built in 1832 in the Federalist style, the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum boasted painted canvas floor coverings, block-print wallpaper and beautiful period furniture local to the Chesapeake Bay region. It also came equipped with a wonderful docent, who shared my passion for Abraham Lincoln, old maps, Cary Grant, and stormwater management. 

Subdivided and almost derelict, the house faced demolition in the 1980s. The community stepped in, raised money, and skillfully restored and furnished the house. The community also created a rich museum to the people, events and artifacts of the town of Berlin. (Local heroes include the Reverend Dr. Charles Albert Tindley, a founding father of Black Gospel music, and thoroughbred racing champions Man O’War, War Admiral and Seabiscuit.)

Sensing my evident interest, the docent tempted me with volunteer opportunities. I suppose, when visitors are scarce, I’d be able to linger at last over all that history.

A cheery storefront in Berlin, Maryland, during our Ghost Tour.

October 30: A woman in elaborate Halloween garb — Frida Kahlo? — turned onto the path in our neighborhood woods. Dressed in a ruffled gown and white lace, the woman carried a large framed painting and a tripod.

I caught up with her and we exchanged greetings. Her name is Teresa Oaxaca and she lives nearby. A painter, Ms. Oaxaca photographs her work in the environments that inspire her. 

As I write this, Ms. Oaxaca is a few yards away, her vibrant painting hanging from a tree, her veil cascading over her camera and tripod, and passers-by stealing peeks as she works. 

People expect mystery at Halloween. I hope to see her again when she’s the only one in costume. 

Painter Teresa Oaxaca and her self-portrait with flowers.

October 31: Yesterday, Jeremiah prowled the bookstore in his dinosaur costume. Tonight he and his costume helped me greet trick-or-treaters at our front door. Candy wasn’t the only attraction. “Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Ogle!” our visitors called out when I opened the door. (Jeremiah, meanwhile, enjoyed the admiration and astonishment of the toddlers.) Make-up, masks and old age prevented me from recognizing the elementary school kids as quickly as they recognized me. I doled out plenty of candy, but the treat was all mine. 

November 1: Fourth-graders Colette, Jack and Corrine (“I’m still in second grade but I’ll be at Oak Street next year”) came to my door. “We were playing in the leaves and we found this,” Colette said. They handed me a sharp piece of metal. Well done, I told them.

Then, eying the carpet of leaves under our shining maple tree, I offered them rakes to make a jumping pile. They happily accepted my offer. When I checked on them again, they had raked a two-foot pile of leaves and were making running leaps from across the yard. 

I gave them a thumbs-up. Maybe tomorrow I can point them to the leaves in the back. 

Jeremiah is reading (and hand-selling) “The Grandest Stage: A History of the World Series,” by Tyler Kepner. My 1969 Amazin’ Mets and my 2019 Washington Nationals make appearances.

November 2: Still energized by my substitute stint in a middle school civics class, tonight I attended a listening session of our town’s planning board. I thought we’d be discussing sidewalk improvements and pedestrian safety, so I was surprised when our town’s urban planner, Mr. Trainor, presented an entirely different and — judging from the 100+ citizens in attendance — a far more controversial topic. 

A rostrum blocked my view of Mr. Trainor. I thought immediately of our friends of the same name, but their professions don’t involve urban planning.

Then the urban planner rose to accept new speakers’ slips. Mr. Trainor, it turned out, was one of Nate’s dearest friends, who — I now remembered — had moved back to the area after a decade in Pittsburgh. I was very tempted to submit a speaker’s slip, if only to hear Jack say my name perfectly (and maybe signal “hello”).

This is not the haunted house in downtown Berlin but it’s spooky nonetheless.

Bonus: Sometimes a sentence in a book strikes a little too close to home. Briskly walking to the farmers market while listening to Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, I fairly blushed to hear this line: “She smiled at everyone even if she preferred not to stop and chat.” 

My favorite coffee shop, Rare Bird, lets customers sit as long as they want….

Readers, to receive notifications by email each time I make a post, just scroll all the way down this page (next to the “word cloud”), look to the left and click on the black button that says “Join Me!” And if you think a friend might enjoy these, please share the Delight!

If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!

26 thoughts on “Delights: October 28 to November 3

  1. As always, your perspectives move my mind to entirely different perspectives. Thank you for inspiring me. Must say, however, that I don’t always see the unique perspectives that you see (while doing the grocery shoppingO.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I appreciate your musing, Patricia (and hello!). Happily, I don’t try to find 24 delights a day — just a single tiny one! That means that means that 99% of my day is, like everyone’s, filled with working, grocery shopping, raking leaves, or chopping onions. But I do keep whimsey in my pocket in case that turnip reminds me of something… You’ve got your superpower in your pocket too, my friend.

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  2. Isn’t it lovely when someone asks you what you are reading and you end up having an interesting conversation? Love your Anthony Horowitz quote too.

    A propos that quote, I read this the other day in Jane Harper’s latest novel “A round white-haired man who exude the welcoming warmth of a freshly boiled kettle was already settled and waiting for them in the kitchen” – I can just see him, can’t you?

    Gorgeous picture at the top of the post too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally knew what you meant…. And I appreciate your writer’s care!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that quote, Barbara. The surprising apt metaphor always fills me with delight. That’s a good one — it evokes so much. And you’re right about book lovers: ordinary people who’d never talk to a stranger will become very chatty over a glimpsed cover!

      Finally, thanks for your compliment re: the top photo. I’ll pass that along to Kevin. I think it’s exquisite!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 330 boxes of books?! I will never ever again (or almost never) think that I own too many books! 😀

    And “She smiled at everyone even if she preferred not to stop and chat” does sound very close to home for me as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate both your comments, Donna. My visitor said a man arrived at 11 pm to purchase the 330 boxes; he lingered for two hours, wanting to discuss books (!); and finally he paid $300. At that point, my visitor would have given them away!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow! The visitor took all 330 boxes? And paid less than $1 a box? He could have gotten a much bettter (and quicker) deal at a second hand book store!
        This would make the basis of a fabulous short story — or a really fun blog post!

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  4. How remarkable to have come across Teresa Oaxaca. Quite a vision!
    I think I mentioned that we lived for ~18 years in Falls Church -312 N Maple Ave. passé through recently for the first time in several years. As Board Members 40 years ago of the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, we are somewhat sad the the town is losing its village-like character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, Bob, about the dramatic changes in Falls Church. Some, like the buffed-up library and flourishing of coffee shops, are great. The City is also planning to improve sidewalks and street crossings (particularly near said library and coffee shops).

      But losing the tree canopy and the ubiquity of tall buildings is indeed unsettling. Less village, more city. I appreciate your and Susan’s stewardship all those years.

      And, yes, Ms. Oaxaca was quite a vision!

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  5. What a deliciously spooky tour! I particularly liked the ghost cats. I can see their slinky spirits “prowling and scowling.” Meow, meow! Loved Jeremiah’s costume.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked the tour, Laurie. The ghost cats and that empty house (70+ years of poltergeist activity!) were definitely the highlights, as were the quiet streets. (The company offers others in nearby Chesapeake towns. Maybe I’ll do another … and try to tempt Kevin!)

      I’ll tell Jeremiah you enjoyed his costume. He also wore it to our brewery after our trick-or-treat work was done!

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  6. Another wonderful, uplifting post, Carol Ann. The man with 330 boxes of books didn’t, of course, tell you how big the boxes were! VERY small, perhaps? Regarding librarians and books, I speak from personal experience when I say that librarians are amongst the most avid book hoarders of all, desperate to hang on to tomes we’ve read “just in case” we need or want to refer to them again. I could NEVER get rid of my books, and if for some reason I did I’d never, ever tell a soul. Oh, the shame of it!

    I love your tales and photos of Halloween. It’s a much bigger thing on your side of the Pond than ours, although it continues to grow here. The first time I – and I suspect many other Brits – logged it as a serious festivity was when I saw that scene in the film ET when the Halloween streets are so full of people dressed up in weird costumes that the alien himself attracts no attention.

    My favourite sentence of all in this post is the one that ends with the reference to “… my passion for Abraham Lincoln, old maps, Cary Grant, and stormwater management.” I suspect this is first time in the history of the English language that “Cary Grant”, “Abraham Lincoln” and “stormwater management” have ever appeared in the same sentence! I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your entertaining comment, Mr. P. I always love your visits. Your comment about librarians — how wonderful that you were one!!! Tell us stories! — as book hoarders does make sense. My visitor said he was on many many awards panels and accumulated lots of books that way. My son Jeremiah, the bookseller, is trotting rapidly down the “teetering book pile” path; he’s a bibliophile with an employee discount!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the humor of my list! (And, as with everything, it’s all TRUE.) Cary Grant appeared in the story because a local woman of the town was Hollywood actress Linda Harrison and spouse of a producer Richard Zanuck. The museum had a photo of her and a very handsome silver-haired Cary Grant. Jeremiah and I are frolicking through our Cary Grant movie collection. Such fun.

      Speaking of movies, thank you for reminding me of the trick-or-treat scene from ET. It’s definitely getting to be a fun holiday over here, with more house decorations and lights than Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess serving on book award panels – and writing reviews of new books too – can quickly lead to the accumulation of a vast number of volumes, though not necessarily titles one would wish to keep after reading once. They say that in order to find your prince you have to kiss a lot of frogs, and by the same token very few books that I read make it on to my list of “forever books.” But those that do…!

        Lucky Jeremiah, spending his days in the world of books. I love libraries AND bookshops, the smell of them, the colours of them, the electric thrill you get when you walk into one and immerse yourself in a world of wisdom, insight and beauty…but sometimes the choice is so daunting!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. 330 boxes! I imagined him taking them all to the car boot sale, but I expect he sold them on Ebay….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’m in awe too — and slightly worried. I don’t know how he advertised, but happily, his 11 pm (!!) buyer carted them all away at 1 am. At that point, my companion would have given them away, but was glad to to take (I now remember) $300 for them all!

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  8. I linger on Oct 28. I follow you as you are swept off the beach onto the sanctuary of the deck – how wonderful to have public spaces such as these. And even more fabulous is that conversations between friendly folk have resumed, that common passions can once again spark lively sharing.

    Our household hoards books. Even after older child moved out, along with many many personal favourites, we are left with no bookshelf space – I wonder how that happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your comment, Ju-Lyn, for its appreciation of my sanctuary (YES! I hadn’t noticed that until you helped me to see) and of the friendly people I met. Books draw people together — and won’t let us go! I’m so glad (but not at all surprised) that you and I are in the same lovely situation.

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