Category Archives: Something Out of Nothing

Do You Have Control?

Denver Airport

“Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather. And your safety is our first priority.” Each canceled flight ended with this apology.

My husband and I took the news in stride when we heard that our flight would leave two hours late. We put our names on a waiting list for the only restaurant with seating on our concourse and texted our kids in Denver and Baltimore to update them.

I’m not a fan of flying, so I was happy to have the flight diverted and late rather than to fly out of Denver with the danger of hail, lightning, and wind shear—all serious enough threats to close the entire airport for more than an hour.

Continue reading Do You Have Control?

Know Any Snow Wimps?

Dec. 8, 2013

The snow begins–December 8, 2013

I hear it every year during advent.

No, that isn’t a typo.  Not Advent with a capital A—advent with a lower-case a.  The one that heralds the coming of Snow with a capital S.

I heard it this year for the first time at church last Sunday:  “I’m from [insert your favorite frozen tundra region here], and WE know how to drive in snow.”

Continue reading Know Any Snow Wimps?

Spicy Encounter?

Hello Sound

Reaching the Currituck Sound in record time, we drove across the bridge, and I posted a picture of the waves on social media with my husband’s traditional greeting that still makes me laugh, though he’s been saying it for more than twenty years:  “Hear the Sound?”

(He also asks for a burger and fries at the ATM machine, but that’s a story for another time.)

As we neared the Duck sign that marks the turn to our street, I dug into my purse for the keys to our favorite place to relax.

Just as my fingers found the keys, Matt said, “Hey, look at that.”

“What?” I asked, looking up but seeing nothing unusual.

“There,” he said, gesturing to the delivery van in front of us.

And there it was—the image for my favorite Outer Banks Seasonings—a lighthouse surrounded by blue waves in a circular frame of golden yellow.

He grinned as the imaginary beams from the lighthouse logo lit up my face.  “You want to follow him?” he asked.

“Yes!” I exclaimed.  But I thought he was teasing me.  Born in the city, he is not one to speak easily to strangers on the street.  He’s grown used to his wife’s propensity to engage in gregarious conversations with strangers, but he’s not one to actively pursue a person he doesn’t know.

But he passed our turn and focused on the van, saying only, “I hope he isn’t going all the way to Corolla.”  Matt knew how much I loved those spices.  I’d been buying them for ten years, and one year I even bought them to put into a holiday gift basket for each of the secretaries in my office.

But the spices had recently disappeared from the shelves of the local seafood market.  I’d searched the Internet and found them only available in, oddly, the Duck Post Office.  I’d sent Matt to the post office, but he came back empty-handed.  For almost a year I’d been unable to find them.  I still have one bottle of garlic pepper on my spice shelf, but my favorite, Pamlico Bay Seasoning, was emptied months ago.  Matt has heard me mourn its loss every time I make Maryland crab soup, as I whine about the fact that ordinary bay seasoning just isn’t as good.

Luckily, the driver stopped at one of Duck’s most famous visitor sites, the Duck Deli, a little cottage that was once the only restaurant in town.  Matt found a rare parking space in front, and I jumped from the car and hurried toward the van, waiting for its driver to come back from the kitchen.

The driver returned, opened the door of the van, and tossed a bread rack into the back.  My face fell when I saw no spices in the van.

“Hey!” I said.  As he turned and looked at me warily, I hurried on, “I love those spices!  And I haven’t been able to find them in months.”

I blurted out my story, and he began to smile.  He introduced himself to me and told me that he and his son had recently opened Proof Bakery and that I could get the spices there—that they had changed the packaging.  When I told him how much more I liked his spice blend than that more famous seafood seasoning from Maryland and how my crab soup hadn’t tasted the same since, he laughed and told me that he was originally from Maryland, too.  He gave me his business card and invited me to visit, laughing when I told him my name.  “Well, now, that’s a mouthful of name, isn’t it.”

I laughed and promised to pay the bakery a visit.

“So did he think you were a stalker?” Matt asked as I slid into the passenger side of our SUV.

“Nah.  We’re in the south,” I grinned and told my husband the spicy story of my encounter.

Had we seen that delivery van at home, where a few years ago two snipers alleged to be in the same sort of van terrorized our residents for months, we would never have considered chasing the Spice Man down.

Don’t talk to strangers.  It’s the mantra we use to protect ourselves and our children.  But when I think of all the friends who started out as strangers to me, I’m reminded again that nothing is either/or.  We live in a both/and world, and sometimes it’s worth the risk to talk with a stranger.

And as we turned onto our street and drove toward the water, the Sound was perfectly silent.  But I could hear it, just the same, reminding me that life happens in the in-between.

So tell me your stories of silent sound.

Lose Your Prada?


Walking the beach between thunderstorms, I found a pair of glasses.  Not just any glasses.  Prescription Pradas.

I picked them up and shook the sand from them.  I thought they might be reading glasses until I turned them and saw the Prada imprint on the inside.

“Honey, look at these!” I exclaimed to my husband.  “They’re Prada!”

Our streak continued.  Every summer we find sunglasses washed in by the waves—usually inexpensive lenses, often scratched up—but occasionally an expensive pair that I would never buy for myself.  This pair had not been in the water long—no scratches, no rust on the hinges.

I held the glasses in front of my eyes and gazed through them to look at the family in the distance.  The lenses were photogray, but because the day was overcast, they had only the slightest tinge of green.  The prescription was mild—nothing like my contact lenses, which allow me to read the big E at the top of the vision chart.

“I don’t want to just leave them here to be washed away by the waves,” I said to my husband.

“Take them up and put them on the railing of the walkway,” he advised.

I trudged through the soft sand and looped the glasses around the dune fencing, wondering whether the owner had another pair, ultimately deciding that the person who wore those glasses would not be nearly as debilitated as I would be if I lost mine.

Each time we come to the beach, I travel with a spare pair of contact lenses and my glasses, knowing that my vacation will be ruined if I have to see the world through my own imperfect eyes.

Without vision correction, I see only the blurry outlines of the world, like a hazy Impressionist painting, like a PowerPoint image with the soft edges maximized to blur out any details.

Scanning the beach, I saw no one who seemed to be searching for missing glasses.  It was late afternoon, and an earlier rainstorm had driven most people indoors.

I wondered, as I always do when someone’s possession washes up in front of my feet, about the history of those glasses.  What does she look like, the woman who lost them?  Was she knocked down by a sudden, unexpected wave?  Did the loss upset her?  Had she spent a week’s salary on this one indulgence?  Or was she like my colleague who has frames in a dozen different styles and colors, who tells me it’s her one vanity to be able to accessorize?

I’m struck again at how Nature is no respecter of persons.  Drought and rain, storm and sun—they belong to us all.  We can be obliterated by the hurricane, and we can be sustained by the gentle breeze.

But it’s good to know that we’re all in it together, even those people we never meet.  So I’ll go back to the beach this morning and check to see if those glasses are still hanging on the fence.  And I’ll hope that the owner, whoever she is, finds what she needs.

Tell me your stories of lost, of found.