Friday, April 22, 2011

Notice The Somethings

I called my mom yesterday and asked, “Well, has springtime arrived in Wisconsin yet?”

She replied, “Oh yes, it has arrived; it’s forty-five degrees here today!” (You can tell that she is a true Wisconsin-ite.)

Mom went on to say that they’d just had a bad storm and most of the town’s electricity was knocked out. It took awhile for it to be restored and she heard that the power company got a whole lot of phone calls complaining about the delay.

“But,” she went on to add, “Debbie decided that she was going to do something different so she called the power company and thanked them for restoring the electricity. They appreciated her call so much but I’m not sure they quite knew what to do with it because they mostly just get complaints.”

Since having that conversation, I have thought quite a bit about what my sister did. And I also thought about the way most of us are wired in this regard:

  • If the French fries are cold, we complain.
  • If there aren’t enough registers open at the local Stuff Mart, we complain.
  • If the sanctuary is too hot (or too cold), we complain.
  • If the check out person makes a small mistake on our transaction (thereby delaying us 3.72 minutes while it’s fixed), we complain.
  • If the service is slow at a restaurant, we complain.
  • If we can’t find a clerk to help us in the shoe department, we complain.
  • If we’re put on hold for longer than 57 seconds, we complain.

I can imagine that it must be stressful to be a manager of just about anything when most of what they have to do deal with is negative feedback.

Now don’t get me wrong. If something really was done wrong or if an issue needs attention, I’m not saying we shouldn’t graciously speak up. However, I think it would be sort of fun to change the paradigm a bit and start to do more of what Debbie did.

  • Is the electricity finally restored after being out a couple hours? Call to say thank you.
  • Does the bus boy bring a new fork after you dropped yours on the floor—without being asked? Mention it.
  • Is the Post Office clerk extra patient when you ask fourteen questions about the cheapest way to send a package to Cincinnati? Tell his supervisor.
  • Does the teen running the cash register at McDonalds smile extra bright, compliment your hair and look you right in the eye when giving you your change? Tell her manager.
  • Does the person cleaning your office building keep the toilets extra clean? Comment on it.

Bottom line? If you’re like me, you probably just speak up when something is wrong. But think about all of the innumerable somethings that have been done right. Wouldn’t it be cool to make someone’s entire day and mention the somethings?

But before you do, be prepared for someone’s face to light up. Be prepared for someone’s eyes to brighten. Be prepared for worry lines to ease a bit. Be prepared for someone’s step to be a little lighter as they walk away. You might even need to be prepared for someone’s eyes to become suspiciously moist.

Because you know what?

We don’t know what unendurable burden the stocker in the cereal aisle is carrying. We can’t imagine the traumatic phone call the waitress at the diner just got. We can never know how very close to the “last straw” the manager at Walmart is.

To a person who is starved for attention, desperately lonely, or one step away from completely giving up, one kindness from one stranger could end up being the one thing that turns the tide for them. Once and for all.

Does that sound a bit dramatic? No, it’s not. At all.

So keep your eyes open. Speak up. Make a difference. Notice the somethings.


First of all, let me mention that I took all of your great comments concerning things to do on the Outer Banks and added them to this week’s earlier post called, “A Grumpy OBX-er.”

You can always find that post again later by going to the labels in the right column and clicking on “Manteo.” I’ve also added an Outer Banks tag to some of those relevant posts but for some reason, that’s not showing up . So you can just find all Outer Banks posts under Manteo.

Heidi said, “I wondered if you'd ever crossed paths with Nathan or Tricia from I check Nathans blog as well and I know he too is a minister and in the OBX area.

Heidi, Yes we have run into Nathan and his (pastor) dad a couple times at various functions and events around town. They are such a great family!

Janet said, I always enjoy your pictures--whether they be of your beautiful family, the scenic area you live in, or just something you thought was interesting. I am not a photographer--in fact I haven't even owned a camera since 35 mm cameras were "in". But I was wondering--what do you do with all of the "pictures". I think I read they are stored on memory cards (?), but how do you keep them organized? Say, six months from now, if you wanted to remember where the picture of Sarah on the beach with the green shirt was--how would you find it?

Janet, yes keeping pictures organized can be a bit of a challenge but I must say that it’s much easier to keep them organized in digital form, rather than printed form. (And yes I’ll admit it; I’m one of those people with shoe boxes full of old pictures!)

Different photographers all use different organizational methods but I mostly use a free download called Picasa Once it’s on your computer, you can very easily make virtual folders for all your pictures. For instance, the one you mentioned of Sarah on the beach would be in a folder (with the other ones I took that afternoon) called, “Sarah, beach.” (Catchy isn’t it?) And then if I want, ALL pictures I take of Sarah on the beach can put in that folder. The pictures are also organized by year and date too, so that makes the job a little easier.

The program also provides easy-to-use, basic editing which I really love.


And since I hate to leave you all picture-less at post’s end, here is a shot I took of my favorite girl.


Here she is during rehearsal for our Easter presentation.



And here’s a sneak preview of the first part of the resurrection scene.


It’s going to be a busy (but wonderful) weekend. Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Yep, it’s true. Every couple needs their own nickname and “Meganate” is the one that Steve, Sarah and I have bestowed uponst Meagan and Nathan. (You know, like “Meg and Nate?” But squished a little?)

Since so many of you have so kindly adopted this lovely couple into your affections, I wanted to let you know the latest on their upcoming summer plans.

On May 4, Steve, Sarah and I will head out to Florida to attend Nathan’s college graduation in Lakeland. While we’re there, we’ll no doubt get to take part in one (or several dozen) Wedding Planning Conversations which will be lots of fun.

Of course, we always enjoy the rare treat of getting to hang out with Meagan’s parents (and our dear friends), Revs. Frank and Sheri Hawley. And might I just add that if you don’t read Sheri’s blog on a regular basis, I highly recommend that you start. (You can always find it in my right column.) Sheri is a writer and speaker par excellence who in addition to her really full time job as a co-pastor, also travels around the country speaking at churches and conferences. Need a speaker? She’s your gal.

Alright. Back to my story.

Do you want to know the best part of our upcoming trip to Florida? The absolutely, exquisitely, very best part of the trip? When we climb back in the van to return home, Nathan is going to be in there, too! He’s coming home with us! For a week! His last time to be home before being married! I’m crying already! Sob! And sniff!

And to make me sob and sniff even more, here’s a photo of them on our trip to Florida to drop Nathan off for his freshman year of college. One of my favorite pictures ever.


I imagine you’ve pretty much guessed that we’re thrilled out of our socks to have this opportunity to spirit him away for a few days and say good bye to the passing of this old chapter and prepare ourselves for a great new chapter to come.

I haven’t told him this yet (because maybe he won’t come home if I do), but I have plans to not have the camera out of my hands for even one second while he’s home. If he so much as sneezes or scratches his eyebrow, I am going to take a picture of it. The only place he will be truly safe is in the bathroom and by the time he leaves, his life’s slogan may very well be, “Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the bathroom. . .”

After about a week of having him here, we’ll put him on an airplane for the last time as a single man and watch him wing his way back to his new life and his new future, not to mention the eventual production of at least a dozen darling grandchildren. (Although I must say that I still can’t quite imagine any short person looking at me and calling me, “Grandma Smith.”)

Their wedding is on the calendar for July 23, Sarah’s lovely yellow bridesmaid dress has been ordered and we are all counting down the days with great anticipation.

When the wedding is over, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Smith will depart on a cruise ship for a 5-day honeymoon and Steve, Sarah, and I will depart in a mini van for a 13 -hour trip back home, accompanied by the melancholy (yet joyous) knowledge that the Smith family has been changed forever.

I know I’ve heard people say that “You’re not losing a son; you’re gaining a daughter” but I’m just now beginning to truly understand that sentiment. I am very much looking forward to being a mom-in-law to such a delightsome daughter-to-be as Meagan. The more I get to know her, the more thankful I am that she will grace the Smith family all the years to come.

I think mother-in-lawing is going to suit me just dandy! I mean, what’s not to love?

nage and meg3

And just because I’m almost fifty years old and am much more prone to reminisce than I used to be, here are a few photos tracing The Official History of Meganate. (I realize that for some of you long time readers this is a review; however, my newer readers might like to catch the whole story.)

The first time Nathan and Meagan ever met was in Greenville, NC. Meagan and her parents and sisters lived full time in an RV and traveled doing concerts and services at churches, and Nathan and his parents and sister lived full time in an RV doing the same thing. How cool is that? (Meagan is in green, the girl beside her is one of her two sisters and Nathan is third from the right.) The other kids on the couch belong to a third family we know who also traveled and did concerts and services around the country.)

Can you believe how young Nathan and Meagan are? I think Nathan was about eleven; Meagan was about a year and a half older.

early nate

Here we all are a few years later; the same two boys and their sister from the couch above, along with Nathan and Meagan. This was six months or so after Sarah’s bone marrow transplant.

2004 A Feb 007

While Meagan’s family was transitioning between their mobile ministry and pastoring, they parked their RV at the church Steve pastored in Smithfield and spent over six months helping out in our ministry there. One of the many happy byproducts of that situation was that Nathan and Meagan got to hang out together in a lot of fun and informal situations and ended up becoming really good friends.

2005 A June 022 2005 A June 047

2005 A June 028

Then the day came when the Christian Academy Nathan attended had its annual formal. Since Nathan and Meagan were such great friends, they (and their mothers), thought it would be fun if they attended it together. No romantic undertones, you understand. Just friends.

It was especially funny that he picked her up for their first “social occasion” (not really a date) at an RV! Given each families’ history, how appropriate was that?

2005 A June 156

2005 A June 166-3

2005 A June 089-1

Nathan had no clue he was standing next to his future father-in-law.

2005 A June 119

A pretty good lookin’ fella.

2005 A June 122-1

Well, most of you know the rest of the story. Years went by and they dated sort of casually but broke it off when Meagan went off to college. Two years later, Nathan went to the same college and their friendship continued. And continued.

And then one day? It was a whole lot more than friendship.

It was this!



IMG_0118 IMG_0130-1 IMG_7034-1



Love that picture, love them, love the fact that she said yes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Grumpy OBX-er.


This is a bumper sticker that is displayed around here a lot—not just by people who live here but also by people who visit from all over the country. So if you ever happen to be driving along in your part of the world and see someone sporting this sticker, be sure to smile at them and wave wildly in our honor. (Which, of course, will totally confuse them. But that’s okay.)

And speaking of people visiting from all over the country, it’s cool to read comments saying that some of you:

  • Have visited the OBX
  • Are thinking of visiting somewhere down the road
  • Are definitely visiting this summer

How fun is that?

And since we’re on that particular topic, I thought that this would be a good time to revisit something I wrote last year.

Steve and I love meeting new people and making new friends and we would be delighted to meet any of you who are planning a trip to our lovely area.

However, it does put us in a bit of an awkward situation because even though we might be aware that a Smithellaneous reader is coming here, we really have no idea whether or not said reader would even be remotely interested in meeting us. I realize that it might not be too terribly exciting to try and have to make room for “Meeting Those Smithellaneous Folks” on your vacation To Do List when you have so many other cool things to do.

So here’s the deal. Even though we might know you’re planning a trip here, we are going to assume that you are perfectly happy vacationing out here without being contacted by a blogging OBX-er.

However, if one or two of you should find it mildly intriguing to meet up with us, we will leave that decision entirely up to you. You’re welcome to shoot an email to smithellaneous AT and let me know when you’ll be here and that you’d like to try and get together. We’ll do our best to work it out to meet you for a piece of pie (or something less caloric) at one of our local eateries.

We’re already looking forward to meeting for the first time two of our wonderful Smithellaneous readers (a mother and daughter from England) who will be here in June. It’s so much fun to meet people from all over!

(By the way, Buff left a comment yesterday about fun things to do on the OBX; I copied it to the bottom of yesterday’s post to make it a bit more visible.)

In my next post, I’ll be writing about our very own Royal Couple, AKA Nathan and Meagan. You won’t want to miss it.

I’ll close with a few pictures of this area from my archives, just in case you‘re in need of a quick, virtual vacation. (And aren’t we all?)

IMG_0265 _DSC0053 _DSC0055 IMG_0122 IMG_0143 IMG_0234 IMG_0237

And lastly? Here’s Snowy, the Grumpy OBX-er.


Monday, April 18, 2011


We woke up yesterday morning very thankful to have made it through the night safely. As most of you probably heard, North Carolina experienced two dozen deaths and heavy damage from multiple tornadoes that came through the state on Saturday. A tornado did touch down further up the beach from us but all we got here in Manteo were a couple hours of heavy rain and high winds—which caused our Saturday night sleep to be a bit restless, I might add.

We did find out that a tornado touched down in our old neighborhood in Smithfield; here are a few pictures taken by some friends who have a home there.

tornado collage2

As much as I hate scary storms, one thing I do love about them is that when they are over, they leave behind such amazingly fresh and newly cleansed air.

As Sarah and I were leaving for church about 8 am yesterday morning, I paused for a moment on the porch, took in the deepest breath that these COPD-afflicted lungs would allow and then just sighed for the pure joy of it. I mean, it was one of those mornings when you just want to drink the air, it was that crisp and that sweet.

I said to Sarah, “Do you think your dad would notice if I didn’t show up at worship band rehearsal or at church this morning?”

Alas, Sarah responded that I would probably would be missed just a tad and that we really should be going.

And so we went--accompanied by lovely spring air the whole way.

After having guests to our house for lunch, taking our sacrosanct Sunday afternoon nap (we were especially wiped out after a ten-hour work day on Saturday), it was finally time for Steve’s and my late afternoon-ish, quasi-early evening-ish bike ride.

We got our (on sale from Walmart) bikes out of the garage and started getting ourselves helmeted and otherwise prepared for our imminent take off.



However, our plans were delayed just slightly when my be-helmeted hubby got a phone call.


So while he talked, I entertained myself by wandering around the yard with my camera and taking pictures of beautiful, spring time (allergy-causing) flowers.


I also took a picture of a bumble bee. How exciting is that?


At long last we were on the bike trail which (happily) passes just a block from our house. The air was still cool and still fresh and I was one happy woman to be pedaling along in it.


We rode down to the north end of the island and paused for a moment by this, um, body of water. (I can never remember what it’s called. A bay? A sound? An inlet? My Body of Water Knowledge Bank is rather limited.)


Then on the way back to the house, we stopped by Manteo’s newest attraction—a historic windmill that has just been relocated to a piece of land right on the bike trail.



Across the road from the windmill, is The Island Farm which provided plenty of opportunities for me to take pictures of loveliness. (While Steve waited patiently.)

IMG_3624 IMG_3629 IMG_3658 IMG_3660

But with all the lovely things we saw on our bicycle-eaque meanderings, the most beautiful sight of all was this one at the end of the journey. Home sweet home.



AnonymousAnonymous said, “Becky, Do you know anything about Martinsville NC? Do you live nearby? My husband is waiting on a phone interview with a local hospital there. Guess what area? Sleep Disorders. Anyway, if you know anything about the town, can you let me know please? Thanks.”

Well, I’m afraid that I can’t be of much help on this topic because I didn’t even know there was a town in NC called Martinsville until you asked about it. So I learned something new today!

Although I can’t tell you much about that town in particular, I will tell you that the state of North Carolina is such a great place to live with mountains and the ocean both within driving distance, as well as four distinct seasons. You’d love it.

Good luck to your husband on his interview!

AnonymousLisa said, “You have made the Outer Banks look so appealing that I am considering a trip there this summer for my husbands and my 20th Anniversary. Would you be kind enough to do a post of "must see", "must eat" and "must stay" for us?? You have talked about several places since you have been there and I don't know if I have found all of them in the archives. So maybe a Travel Brochure post as such...who knows you may be on to something with that.”

Lisa, I’m happy to hear that my Outer Bank writings have made you want to come for a visit; it really is a great place and quite unlike any other area of the country.

And although I’m honored that you would think I’m knowledgeable enough to writer a Travel Brochure type of post, I’m still such a newbie around here that I don’t know about even half of the things that are available here. Maybe in ten years or so, I might consider myself a bit more qualified for that job!

However, a good place for you to start is at; you can also Google the Outer Banks and find out all sorts of helpful information.

As for the stuff I’ve written about it in the past, I’ve tried to put a Manteo label each of those posts; if you scroll down the right column of the blog you’ll see a heading that says, “Subjects I’ve Covered.” You can click on the Manteo label and pull up all 27 (or so) of my past posts about our town and the Outer Banks in general.

I hope that’s helpful and happy twentieth anniversary!


After reading the post above, some other Outer Banks suggestions have come in which I'll post below.

From Buff:

One place you must eat for yummy local seafood is Lone Cedar Cafe, owned by NC's Senator Basnight! Best food around...I think you said another time that you have eaten there.

Also, Sam & Omies..

They should check out Jockey's Ridge and Wright Brothers Memorial...And they must visit Hatteras...cross the big scary bridge, check out the Serendipity house which was the Inn in Nights in Rodanthe and climb the Hatteras Lighthouse! (Just a couple things to do when visiting...)

Anonymous said, One of my favorite Outer Banks destinations is Ortegaz, right there in Manteo. Fantastic food, wonderful service, and fair prices!

Rachel said,

Favorite eateries -- Tortugas Lie, The Nags Head Pier House Restaurant and Barefoot Bernies

Favorite Thing to Do -- Lay on the beach, walk on the beack, BE ON THE BEACH... for real though, it's vacation ;)

Favorite OTHER things to do -- Horseback riding on the beach in Hatteras was expensive ($100 per person) but AMAZING. Visiting the lighthouses. Jockey's Ridge, Nags Head Woods, Wild horse tours in Corolla.

Favorite shopping spots -- The Duck Waterfront Shops, Manteo (the Christmas shop and the Manteo Bookstores are the BEST!), Kitty Hawk Kites

Other than that, I know we really love it because we go every year at the same time and we see a lot of the same faces. OBX is a community not only of the people who live there, but of the vacationers who go year after year as well. Many of the people who work there remember us from years before and I just love that!

Brooke said,

When I was a kid we'd rent a big house with one of my stepmother's brothers in Frisco (just south of the Hatteras Lighthouse). Those weeks were some of the best of my summer. Along with all the swimming and playing in the ocean, there's a great little bookstore in Buxton that I just loved (thats still there! ).

In November of 2009 my father rented a house at Buxton for a few days, right on the beach. My father, stepmother, brother + family, and I gathered there to spend time together. It was LOVELY. It was the last vacation I took with Dad, he died April 24, 2010. I think that was also the last time Dad saw the ocean too. That is the most treasured trip I've taken to the OBX so far. It will have to be something HUGE for a trip to the OBX to be more treasured.

So, yeah, the OBX, I love them. I love them in November better than August, but I love to swim in the ocean, and November isn't a good time to swim in the ocean. It's a horrible crux.