Breaking Your Inkjet Cartridge Addiction

Epson ET-3760 with ink tanks

I have used a lot of different printers over the years. Printing needs change over time and old printers eventually stop working or no longer work so well with new computers. Eighteen months ago, I donated my fourteen-year-old HP inkjet AIO printer to a local charity. It was still working but a challenge to use with my newer computers. I bought a new and smaller Canon inkjet AIO printer. In mid-June it dawned on me that if I purchased the ink cartridges that I was going to need for the summer that my ink expenditure would be greater than what I paid for the printer. I decided to get off the inkjet-cartridge-wagon train. Read about the printer that I chose at this link. There is nothing like the potential of saving money to push us to change our habits.

Summer ’21 Update for the Crystal Coast

The beach at the Point on Emerald Isle
The beach at the Point in the town of Emerald Isle, NC

While we have moved from North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, that area of Carteret County that stretches from Swansboro to Beaufort, I continue to pay attention to the area. We lived there for sixteen years and would still be there if we had not wanted to be closer to our grandchildren.

My biggest worry is that the area which is one of the last beach areas with small towns at its heart is developing too fast in mainland Carteret County. While development is slow along the shoreline, across the bridge from Emerald Isle/Bogue Banks, it accelerating just across the bridges from the beaches. It is time to visit before it is gone, but that might be easier said than done this summer. Read my full update here.

Writing Our Own History

A Cathedral of Trees at Rich Park in Mocksville, NC

When I started writing for the web almost seventeen years ago, I had no idea how much I would appreciate my own writing. It turns out that few of us have memories as good as we think they are. Time after time, I will start writing about a subject and remember to look and see what I have already said about the subject. When you combine years of writing with extensive photographs from the same time period, you come up with local history that is often invaluable.

Local history is valuable in running local governments and even HOAs. In fact the governments, especially HOAs, that ignore their own history and precedents often get into the most trouble especially when they try to rewrite history.

Just because something is written down on the web does not mean it is automatically true. However, if it is written by someone with a long history of truthful writing, then you should likely give whatever they are saying consideration. I pay special attention to getting the facts right. I take some measure of pleasure in being right especially when I have been challenged by some who would rewrite history.

If you want to make sure your own story is correct, make sure you take being an author seriously. It takes a lot to build a reputation, but very little to ruin it.

Read more at my article, The Disappearing Narrative of Our Lives.

Our Pandemic Move – Life Lessons – Part 1

Early spring blooms in our neighborhood near Mocksville, North Carolina

Moving is never easy, but moving during a pandemic is a real challenge. However, we did and learned a lot – even some minor things like it makes sense to take paper towels and paper plates with you when you are huddled in the safe zone of your hotel room. Most of all, this move reaffirmed the value of working with a great real estate agent. While technology made the move possible. Our great realtors actually made it happen. Read more at this link.

A Safe Warm Spot for a Challenging Fall

The view from our small deck

We have spent fourteen years here along Raymond’s Gut just off the White Oak River north of Swansboro. I managed to learn enough about the White Oak River from my kayaking and boating to know Ed was right. Many times, I fished a cove just off the river when the main River had whitecaps on it. Then there were times you could be in the middle of the river with hardly a ripple. Sometimes it is blowing on the river but quiet on the backside of Bear Island.

Ed, a good friend of mine who died a few years ago, used to say that if you were willing to look a little, most of the time you could find a place on the water in Carteret County where the wind wasn’t blowing. Ed grew up here and knew the area’s waters better than anyone I have ever known.

It turns out Ed’s wisdom also applies to our house. If you look a little, you can almost always find a cozy spot out of the wind. It is one of the reasons we love our home. The side of our house with the most windows faces the South. That and the protection provided by pines just across the water from us makes our home a delightful place as the air turns cooler in the fall. It also creates a great microclimate for gardening. Living on Raymond’s  Gut just off the White Oak River turned out to be a lucky decision for us. Read the full article

From Cambridge to Cattle

The sign at our farm in Tay Creek, New Brunswick.

Many people have asked me how I ended up farming in New Brunswick. It is a fair question. I did not grow up on a farm. I went to a military school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and got my undergraduate degree from Harvard where I studied mostly Colonial American History. I am sure it drove my mother crazy but it was something that I needed to do.

“But if we were not going to be lawyers what would we be? There could be only one answer. You had to go back to land to find yourself. It was only there that you could sort out what was good and bad. There you could find out what was important and how to live life the way it should be. That the roads had turned back to dirt was a good thing.

Read more at YEARS ON THE FARM.

Not Missing My Boat Yet

The White Oak River near Swansboro, NC

In 2006, we bought a home on Raymond’s Gut just off the White Oak River just ten minutes from the beaches of Emerald Isle. In June of 2007, we added a boat and a boat lift to our collection of things to make life more complete here along the water.

There were challenges to learning how to be safe boaters in our fifties, I even took a course and hired someone to accompany us on our first trip to Shackleford Banks in our own boat. It was a very long ride down there by boat from our house. The trip was so long, it was the only time we ever made that trip with our boat.

Everytime you use a boat, it takes more time than most people imagine to clean it up, and each year it needs maintenance which increases with the age of the boat. However even with all the work, we enjoyed boating for several years. These pictures taken from our skiff and going from Raymond’s Gut to Swansboro give you an idea of all the beauty we have seen from our skiff. Then there was this especially memorable trip with my friend, Brian, when we beached the skiff on an island just outside of Bogue Inlet.

It was truly nice when our children would come down and we could all go boating. I often told people that you could not really see the Crystal Coast without riding down the Intracoastal Waterway from the Emerald Isle bridge to Swansboro’s harbor. In my mind it was a much better main street for the area than Highway 24.

I learned out to the navigate the tricky waters of the White Oak River. I even got so I would venture out a little into the ocean. I even captained a few memorable fishing trips like this one where we caught bluefish until our arms ached.

However, I got so that I did most of my fishing from the kayak. Going out in the skiff, even my early morning ride to the marshes near Swansboro, became less a part of my life. Still I am grateful for all the beauty that the skiff allowed me to see.

Most boaters will tell you that owning a boat is a lot of work even if you have a lift for it. The other thing about a boat is that it is a lot of responsibility when you are the captain and you have others on board. A lot of things can go wrong on a boat and people do get hurt even in safe places to boat like the sounds of the Crystal Coast much less the more dangerous Bogue Inlet. I could handle emergencies a lot better when I was in my fifties than now when I am in my seventies. Making sure that you have a safe boating trip can be very stressful.

A few years ago I sold my truck. I was driving it less than 2,000 miles a year. Do I miss it? Once in a while I would like to have it back but it did not make sense given that we have limited parking at our house and I put less than 2,000 miles per year on it the last few years. I enjoyed driving it, but it wasn’t something that I had to have to survive. I guess the boat finally got to that same point.

This spring I had someone interested in buying my boat so I made the decision to sell my boat and get rid of my lift. I am pleased with the decision. It is a couple of less things to worry about as I get a little age on me.

When you get into your seventies, it is not uncommon to simplify your life. We’re working at that. I still enjoy getting out on the water, but I have plenty to fill my life like gardening, fishing from my kayak, and our newly found marsh kittens.

The changes required by the current crisis make you appreciate a lot of simple things in life. I am just happy to have a beautiful home along the water and that my family and friends are safe so far from the Corornavirus.

I have a lot of great memories with my boat, but it hasn’t been gone long enough for me to miss it.

HOAs Rarely Provide a Smooth Ride

The Low Tide Channel Between Oyster Rocks in the White Oak River.

Many of us live in HOAs. At the best of times HOAs stay out of our lives, provide a little safety, protect our property values and usually offer us some recreational opportunities that we might not have if we built our homes in the middle of a field.

Unfortunately, many HOAs are started by developers, have underfunded reserves, and people with agendas running them. Most will say that their agenda is to make the community a better and more beautiful place to live.

However, as we all know the devil is in the details. Something like navigating a river with hidden oyster rocks at high tide. When you put people of varying ages together in a community, it is hard to come up with priorities that suit the majority of the people. The guy in his seventies who has given up boating is going to care a lot less about the inlet needing to be dredged than the younger family that just spent $30,000 on a new boat.

HOAs also come with lots of skeletons hiding in their closets. Those are the poor decisions, reckless spending and down right illegal actions that sometimes box HOAs in a corner. The usual advice is to get involved with your HOA. However, there are times when doing just that puts you in one faction or the other in your community. They might even be warring factions.

My advice is to carefully investigate any HOA in a community where you are planning on buying. Talk to more than one person, try to find someone with a broad perspective of the community. Sometimes HOAs drink a lot of their own Koolaide so be careful accepting at face value the pitch from HOA directors. Someone not on the board might have a totally different view.

Here is a cautionary tale of what can happen when HOAs go off the rails.