Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote of the day

"Well, have you told anybody about it?"

Robin in response to me when I told him our Skype wasn't working. My response to him was something along the lines of, "&&%%##$@, no. I think 25 million people already have...."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Authorities Close In On Serial Killer


Local and state authorities moved in on a suspected hunter, rumored to be closing in on the number of kills allotted for a non-resident hunting license.

"This has been my dream season," says hunter Robin Leatherman. "I have one more hunter's choice for deer. I got my first North Carolina black bear last weekend." Leatherman logged an unprecedented number of days hunting.

"Our three (yes, three) freezers are nearing capacity," says Karen Smith. "It's good there are only a couple weeks left of the season."

Fortunately for Leatherman and unfortunately for the natural resources of this state, he is now eligible to buy a resident hunting license this weekend. "That gives me six more deer, another bear, boar and some other stuff," states Leatherman.

See photos of his bear. (Warning: May contain disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back in the groove

I am playing catch up with our (relatively) recent photos and events from the past several months.
  • In August, we took a fishing trip to our old haunts in Gustavus, AK. We had fantastic weather and stayed with fantastic friends, Josh and Christina. They own and operate Majestic Expeditions, a truly fantastic place to stay whether you are relaxing, fishing or hunting. Alaska is fantastic!

  • Also in August, Robin's oldest son was married near Seattle, WA. What a whirlwind. We met the granddaughter and attended the wedding. There is definitely a family resemblance, as you will see. Robin was introduced to a nasty concoction called a duck fart, a mixture of Kahlua, whiskey, Bailey's and who knows what else. After this celebration, I resolved never to drink any alcohol at any event where the alcohol is provided for free.

  • During the week we were in Washington, Robin and son Josh built a timber frame structure for the wedding. The weather was perfect and could not have been any more beautiful. We didn't get rained on even once! I know lifting and moving those 300-lb + timbers had nothing to do with Robin's current shoulder problem. (What am I saying?!? There is no "problem" because it only hurts if he moves it.)

  • We took in a quick trip to tour the Olympic Peninsula, complete with a stop in Forks, WA where we learned all about Twilight. Holy cow, we had no idea! Rooms in dumpy motels were at a premium and booked solid! Robin became a big fan, at least for the first movie. (Interest is waning after watching the second.) Once again, this is proof that one person can make a difference in the world.

  • In September, Robin started deer hunting. I haven't seen him since. I did see him (briefly) when we squeezed in a deer hunting trip to his cousin's in West Virginia around Thanksgiving. I even hunted one day, if you can call it hunting. I sat in the woods in the pouring rain and didn't see a thing -- not even a squirrel. Well, I was armed with a gun so I guess it was hunting.) Be warned, some of these pictures are graphic!

  • In October, Robin's mom, brother, niece and cousin visited.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The $126 breakfast

A mere $126 will buy you room service breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta. We learned this after a recent trip there for Robin's work. They kept messing up so we got a free breakfast (and a stay in an executive suite at a later date). We only were asked about three times to show our room key. (I guess we didn't look like their typical guest.)

Our fun-filled trip (well, my fun-filled, anyway, because Robin was working most of the time) included lots of rides on the Marta subway, me seeing an arrest at Olympic Centennial Park, a great NHL hockey game and a fantastic puppet performance of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. (The Center for Puppetry Arts is a must-do for all Jim Hensen and puppet fans!)

See pictures of the most expensive breakfast and other photos from our trip.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

21,000 diapers

That's my estimate of the number of diaper changes my mom endured for us 13 kids. That number doesn't include any of the 23 grandkids' diapers she changed during her seemingly endless role babysitting them. In addition, she had morning sickness for more than 10 years. Not all at one time of course, but nonetheless, it adds up to 10 years. She baked more than 10,000 loaves of bread and washed more than 10,000 loads of laundry ... in a wringer washing machine she refused to give up!

She recently passed away, succumbing to a brain tumor and other ailments she faced the last couple of years. She always kept her sense of humor, noting on the days when she was feeling particularly good that she "didn't want to change her luck." (This, a glimpse to her fun-lovin', gamblin' side. She always enjoyed playing the slot machines and once kept me out past 3 a.m. in Las Vegas.)

Although her words were sometimes mixed up, you only had to listen with your heart and not your head. When she talked about the "hocus pocus," she was referring to the weather forecast. (This was a very apt phrase substitution, especially in a volatile weather state such as Iowa where she lived for 80 years.) When she talked about all those "germs" walking around, she was referring to the cage of 50-some birds at the care facility. (She always thought birds were very germy creatures and raised and sold over 500 parakeets to pay for her wedding dress.) Most importantly, despite her mental changes, she had times of clarity, stressing that "I'm still in here," and "Thank you for being here."

Her actions and attitudes convey something we can all strive to do: Be happy for the good days. Listen with your heart. Keep your sense of humor. Always treat people with respect. Always be there for those you love.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brake replacement 101

After a local company quoted us $150 to do a brake job on our car, we decided to spend $50 and 15 minutes to do it ourselves. Plus, I learned how to replace brake pads. It's so easy, I think I could even do it again -- unsupervised!

See some photos of this project.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Work, work, work

Robin still runs around like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, although not 24/7 like he did when we were at Dry Tortugas. He now has a crew of guys and they are getting a lot done!

See some photos of Robin and crew working on a road project and working (eating) at another special event. (Our friends who were visiting from Dry Tortugas and I tagged along. It was fun.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Salvaged shipwreck

Under the cover (and safety) of darkness, Robin and an entire cast of characters from contractors to archeaologists to co-workers and volunteers (like me), helped move a 10-ton remnant of a shipwreck from the 1600s.

Robin's day started out at 5:30 a.m. to load the "vessel", a process which took about 12 hours.

To move the 17-foot wide load down a 22-foot wide state highway, they had to secure special permits and sheriff and police escorts. This was a task far safer to do in the middle of the night instead of during the crazed traffic of life on the Outer Banks during high season.

At midnight, we began the 90-mile, 15- to 35-mph journey down NC 12. Despite a police escort of 6+ vehicles and an entourage of paparazzi-like media (all more of a cluster than a help), we made it through a couple of torrential downpours to arrive safely at Hatteras Village around 4 a.m. We made it back to our house around 6 a.m., concluding Robin's 24-hour-plus workday.

See some of my photos.

See some great video and more from a local news station.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The little cabin in the woods

Earlier I blogged about us hitting the motherlode. We've been spending some time out at the winery riding our 4-wheelers and working on food plots. The grapes are really loaded right now. Harvest time is in a few weeks. I hope to document that and the bottling process (if it doesn't coincide with our Alaska trip). We're planning to spend a weekend in the little cabin soon ... maybe for our 3-year anniversary!

See some photos of the vineyards and more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


While we were at my mom's, we managed to squeeze in a tour of the Spam Museum in Austin, MN. What a great place! Who knew they make 12 kinds of Spam? They even had Spam trivia, pack a Spam, a movie and all sorts of stuff. With more than 16,000 square feet of Spamtasticness, you could spend hours there!

We bought a can of turkey Spam (thinking it was healthier than regular Spam) and I tried it for the first time. It was better than I thought.

See some pictures from our Iowa trip and some of the other projects we've been working on, like building a boardwalk (I used a nail gun for the first time), reroofing our shed (no Robin, you can't call that stuff Black Mamie anymore), putting in food plots for deer (don't even ask) and more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How to skin a bluefin tuna

First, you need to be strong. These things are big. Their skin is really, really tough and you have to strip it off, muscle it back and have someone hold onto the fish while you do so. They don't carry these things, either ... they tie a rope on it and drag it around!

Check out some photos of how to clean a bluefin tuna.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Turtle porn

Robin and I took the Suzy Q out fishing Sunday. Wow, what a beautiful day. It was calm and beautiful with blue skies and blue water. Robin caught a dolphin ... not the bottle-nosed kind but the mahi-mahi / dorado kind.

We saw some pretty incredible sea life, too. At one point, we spotted all kinds of splashing going on. Now, you wouldn't expect to see something like that in the middle of nothing 10-15 miles offshore. We took the boat over to investigate. It was a pod of 50+ bottle-nosed dolphin feeding. What a neat sight.

When we were heading back in, we saw something really huge in the water. We took the boat over to investigate. It was a gigantic sea turtle, probably about 8 feet long.

Still on our way back in (it takes about an hour to go that distance in our boat), we saw something else weird in the water with lots of splashing and commotion. Of course, we had to check it out. Right there, in the middle of the whole wide ocean, a couple of sea turtles were gettin' it on. I am sure they were thinking, man, there's a whole ocean out there and you have to come over here?!?

It was pretty cool to see ... even better than last year's shark porn because I wasn't in the water and scared.

See the photos of turtle porn.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Updates from The Edge

  • Suzy Q: Our schedules and the weather (sort of) finally cooperated and we were able to take our boat out together for the very first time after 3 months of ownership. (My month in Iowa didn't help.) We went out on the ocean and it was great! I didn't get sick or anything. We caught a few blue fish and worked out some how-to's with the electronics. It was fun.
  • Employment: I returned from Iowa and happily joined the ranks of the underemployed. I am working a part-time job as an office assistant in downtown Manteo.
  • Another Big Dig: Not quite on the scale of the last archaeological dig at Fort Jefferson, Robin used a back hoe to help out with another archaeological dig at Fort Raleigh. Unfortunately and fortunately, I'm working at a part-time job and was not able to document this dig.
  • Wedding day (not ours): Robin's son Josh is getting married at the end of August. We reworked our Alaska travel plans in order to attend.
  • House guests: My sister and brother-in-law spent a quick 52 hours enjoying the sights of The Outer Banks. We all went to the Lost Colony show. Although they market fireworks as part of the show, they didn't do them when we went because of a rain delay. We checked them out another night but the "fireworks" were really just big sparklers. We're looking forward to some "real" fireworks in Manteo over the 4th.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heat wave

Wow, the solstice just happened and summer is here! The heat index today is projected to be 105-110 degrees. Yikes. That's almost as hot as it was at Dry Tortugas. Hopefully, this will be short-lived.

Water temps are going up, the crowds are here and tourism season is in full-swing. A trip to the grocery store yesterday took 2 full hours: lots of traffic, lots of groups of tourists shopping and of course, one checker. Certainly not like Alaska!

We're looking forward to getting our boat out on the water soon and getting some fresh mahi mahi, mackerel and whatever else we can catch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quote of the day

"He'd break a rubber crowbar if I gave it to him."
Someone's reference to a breakage- and accident-prone co worker.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good news and not-so-good news

The good news is my brother Lee is back from Iraq!

He returned just in time for the Memorial Day parade last week. I do mean "just in time" ... with 10 minutes to spare! Robin and I watched said parade and spoke at the same time: "That looks like Lee ... that IS Lee!" He returned about a week early and we are all very happy to have him back. This should be his last deployment but ya never know.

The not-so-good-news is that my mom's brain tumor and dementia continue to worsen. She's confined to a wheelchair now and can hardly move. On good days, she can speak coherently some of the time. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the past month with her. We had some good times, some laughs, some nice car rides in the countryside and continued our ongoing research project: Conducting ice cream taste tests and reviews.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Barbie's birthday

My mom, a.k.a. Vacation Barbie, celebrates the big 8-0 this weekend! She recently moved from her home to the local assisted living place. Fortunately, her cat Molly was adopted by her previous home health care worker! I won't be able to attend the big bash but we're trying to get there in 2 weeks for a longer visit when my temporary job is done.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wanchese Whistle

The other day after work, we were making dinner and all of a sudden, some sort of warning siren sounded. This went on for about 5 minutes or so, enough to make all the hounds in the 'hood bark. We weren't quite sure what it was but thought they were testing the warning system. Not many days later, the same siren sounded, this time lasting for about 20 minutes.

(This warning siren is reminiscent of my home town "whistle." The whistle dates back to factory days and blows at 7 a.m., noon, 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Even on the weekends. Except for Sunday when they abstain from the 7 a.m. one. For "nostalgic" reasons, the town voters decided to keep the whistle blowing, although it still causes some rankor.)

The Wanchese whistle blowing continued and we finally found out why it blows. It is the warning system for the volunteer fire department. The length of time the whistle blows depends on the time of day, type of fire alarm and other factors no one could quite explain to us. We apparently have been lucky and not had a fire alarm in all these months we've been living there.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Suzy Q

Based on a suggestion from my sister, we decided to name our boat Suzy Q. This appropriately chosen name was the nickname my dad called me when I was a little girl. In a serendipitous coincidence, I learned this is the nickname/call sign that airplane pilots use when flying over and referring to the area around my hometown.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boat buying

As you know, I have neglected my blog recently. Between moving, finding a place to live, unpacking, job searching, buying a car, etc., we also were combing Craig's List and every place else in search of the perfect boat.

I can now tell you all about 2-stroke vs. 4-stroke, gunwales, deadrise, cuddies, center consoles, T-tops, diesels, inboard/outboards and all sorts of boat-related stuff. Our due diligence paid off and we found an awesome boat, the Palm Beach. This 21-ft. brand new boat has a 150 HP Yamaha engine and a 21-degree deadrise. Which means less rockin' and rollin' in the water, always a good thing for me!

We finally get to install and use all of the boat electronics we've been hauling around with us since Alaska. Once those are on, we'll be out on the water.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The motherlode

Robin and I befriended a couple who own and operate Vineyards on the Scuppernong. These nice people not only make awesome wine (we recently bought 4 cases!), but they also are in desperate need of someone who will come and help them with their deer problem.

The deer find their land and grapes irresistible and the does are running rampant. Boy, did they find the right man for that job. I'm not sure Robin could be happier. Plus, they have this awesome cabin we can stay in whenever we want (yes, I'll take pictures sometime). Did I mention they make awesome wine?!? You know what I'll be doing while Robin hunts!

We spent a day out there over the weekend playing farmer. I drove a Kubota around and we planted some food plots to help lure the deer away from the grapes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I'm back to the world of 9 to 5. Boy, what a change! I haven't had time to update my blog! I now have a full-time (temporary) job doing general office work that goes until mid-May.

In addition, my job search is in full swing and taking what free time I have. I had a very hopeful interview last week. This entailed a lot of prep. Robin and I went shopping for my interview outfit because of course, I didn't have a thing to wear (I left all that in Colorado). Plus, I had to pull together some semblance of a portfolio from the stuff I could get my hands on (some is not unpacked and the rest is in Colorado).

I am hopeful to be called back for round two. Which means another shopping expedition for another outfit!

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Regulation, regulation

Robin is taking a water treatment certification class for the state of North Carolina. In this weirdly over-regulated state, they require a high school transcript in order to register for the test. Yep, a transcript just to take the test.

We ordered his transcript. Robin had so many approved and unapproved absences, I am not sure how he actually graduated. Based on his attendance, he was hardly ever in class.

"People needed a lot of help with their cows," he said. "That's how I got all of those approved. People would call in when I was hunting or fishing and say my cows got out again." It didn't hurt that he plied his principal and teachers with meat and fish!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Windy Wanchese

Instead of snow days, they have wind days around here. It was so windy here the other week they canceled school. Between the high winds, surf and tides, roads were flooding and washing out. The school buses couldn't get through. They sent the kids home early and canceled school the next day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Like Christmas

The movers delivered ~most~ of our household stuff. The only things missing (so far) are our motorcycle key, a table, a marine cooler full of stuff and another big box full of what I'm sure is very important stuff (although I have literally no idea because we haven't unpacked everything yet).

It's like Christmas opening all these boxes, some of which have been packed since Alaska!

The movers provide an itemized inventory list we signed off on in Key West. When we were reviewing the items prior to their arrival, we were very intrigued by one listing: an "exercise stepper." We don't own an exercise stepper and had no idea what they could have listed as one. The answer: A foam archery target.

So far, only a few things are ruined. I'll be taking pictures and filling out paperwork on all that. For now, back to the boxes!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The local hospital hosts an annual, themed event for a fundraiser. Known as The Gala, all the highfalutin members of society attend. (Plus a few not-so-highfalutin.) This year's theme was Paris. (Last year's theme was James Bond and next year's is Egypt.)

It's held at the Wright Brothers Pavilion and Robin had to staff it. I got to volunteer. Whooowheee! (At least for me because I could drink but Robin couldn't.)

Actually, it's a wonderful event. The community really gets excited about it and it's great for the hospital. Part of the event is the ever-popular silent auction. It was our first silent auction and we went crazy bidding on items. It was fun. We were the proud new owners of, what else? A new surf rod!

See some photos of uhh, Robin's rod, the Eiffel Tower and what the rest of the decorations looked like.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Holy mackeral, Robin!

Only it's really Holy Bluefin!

Robin had the opportunity to go out on a charter boat and came back having hooked not one, but TWO bluefin tunas! Robin spent 30+ minutes hauling in a 158 lb. bluefin tuna.

See the photos of this huge fish!

Bluefin tuna is the source of some of the best and most expensive grade sushi, toro. A bluefin could sell on the black market for thousands of dollars. The guys on the boat split the one tuna. [NC regulation -- yet another long, long list of do's and don't from this over-regulated state -- says you can only keep one per boat.] We've been eating toro sushi and tuna steaks all week. Yum!

Now, the hunt for our own boat will reach a new height soon. Time is ticking and the fish are starting to come in. Robin is frantically searching Craig's List and calling people ~every~ day!

On a side note, Callie, the outside cat we inherited and who doesn't belong to us, is looking much better, thanks to the fresh bluefin tuna scraps she's getting this week (not to mention the salmon, halibut and deer scraps that go her way).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You know you're a redneck when...

One of the criteria for our rental house was storage: either having it or being able to put a storage shed on the property. After a couple years being separated from all our stuff, we were in a bit of a panic that soon it would all be in one place. We didn't have a place for everything. It has been in storage somewhere in Virginia (the closest government storage facility). They have finally located it (see The Hunt for Red February) and will deliver it next week.

Our landlord, a local character named Winkie, is awesome. He said we could do whatever we wanted. We took him at his word and went on a whirlwind hunt for storage. We ended up finding an awesome carport that has storage in it. (You know you're a redneck when you own a carport and are proud of it!)

We then had to arrange to have the car port taken apart, delivered here, reassembled, etc. Plus we had to prepare the foundation for it, which involved a lot of hauling gravel and smashing it around. Fortunately, our man Winkie had an excavator he let us borrow and my man Robin knew how to use it!

See some photos of this involved project.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We are now the proud new grandparents of a bouncing baby girl, Hannah Jo. Hannah arrived late last week, an early Valentine's present. All are doing well and are settling in at home.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Hunt for Red February

In this elusive cat-and-mouse game, breaths are held as the moving and storage company, Atlas Van Lines, tries to find, locate and deliver a couple's entire household and lifetime belongings. Robin Leatherman and Karen Smith star in this not-to-be missed adventure. Lots of plot turns and twists in this low-tech thriller. The hunt is on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finally! Photos!

Finally, I am able to upload all the long-awaited for photos all my, uh, fan(s) have been waiting for. (Hey, I know at least two people who asked me for photos!)
  • Rest and recovery: More rest, recovery and fun following Robin's surgery. See some pictures from our road tip to Iowa, a rocket launch, our cruise to the Bahamas and what we can do with a 22 rifle.
  • Fantasy fest: Caution: Contains nudity. View at your own risk. Just so you know, here are some verbatim rules (yeah, right!) from the city of Key West published in the Fantasy Fest Event Guide: Nudity is illegal. City code specifies that body paint does not constitute clothing. Nudity is not allowed on public property or in public view. Please wear a cover-up to avoid exposure on city streets. Body painting must be done in enclosed or screened areas, out of public view. Drink from paper or plastic cups provided by bars and vendors. Open containers are allowed in the Fantasy Zone.
  • The move: Robin's last hurrah fishing at the fort, how you move 300 pounds of frozen fish 1,000 miles, a forewarning of a Nor'easter and more during our move from Key West to North Carolina.
  • Redneck revival: The winner of my family's annual Christmas Sock Contest, our awesome, completely furnished rental and some wildlife and scenery around Wanchese.
  • Wright Brothers: A celebration of the 106th anniversary of powered flight.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rants and raves

  • Transportation: Our ghetto Jetta wasn't road-worthy enough to drive to North Carolina. Now, we bought a similar (only better) ghetto car. It's a Honda Civic and is getting 36 MPG! Plus, the air, heat and radio all work!
  • Medical madness: Now that we finally have a mailing address where we actually receive our mail, all the medical bills are coming in. Somehow, the chiropractor Robin saw last summer in Kodiak charged more than $500 for two, 20-minute visits. Because Robin has insurance, the chiro billed him $200, twice what the cash price would have been. That's after the insurance already paid over $300. That puts the chiro's hourly rate at about $750 an hour!
  • Working out: Dare County has a community center with a small workout facility. Originally, it was supposed to be for senior citizens only. But, they had to open it up to the entire population to legally receive the funding they lined up for it. The best part is it is free to use (especially helpful for one unemployed person in particular)! Based on the music they play, however, I am certain they are trying to drive out anyone under the age of 70.
  • Wired and wireless: We now have home internet service! Whoohooo! What a luxury.
  • Unemployment: My seasonal, temporary park service job ended in July. Since then, I have been unable to receive unemployment due to some weird government regulation. Effective this week, I can finally receive unemployment after 6 months of trying. (Hopefully, it will be short-lived and I will get a job soon!)
  • Weather: Wow, what a treat to not be hot and sweaty all the time. After an almost 3-week streak of 20-degree colder than normal temps, we are now in the 50s most days.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dangers of driving

North Carolina is a highly regulated state when it comes to driving. Actually, it's a highly regulated state for most things, as we are discovering.
  • To get a driver's license, you must have proof of car insurance. It does not matter if you have a car, however. If you don't have proof of insurance, you can't get a license. Period. We had to call Robin's car insurance, add me to it and have them fax proof that I am on the policy.
  • Unlike the state of Florida (who will let anyone drive), NC makes you take a written test to obtain your driver's license. The motorcycle test is way more difficult than the car test. Instead of 3 multiple choice answers for each question, you have to choose from 4.
  • We just purchased a second car (this area has no public transportation whatsoever). The problem is we can't drive it. The motor vehicle license and registration office says you can't drive your car without plates. If you purchase it from the owner directly (which we did) and not a dealership, the state says you can't drive it home until you get new plates. (We broke the law to get it home.) They have no contingency for a temporary tag from a private owner. Plus, you can't get a NC license plate until you have your NC driver's license. We are waiting for our licenses to arrive from the ever-so-safe-and-secure U.S. Postal Service. Brilliant!
  • On a side note, to obtain a library card, as always, is the most difficult. You can't get one of those until you have a state ID. Sheesh! They were nice enough to give me a "guest" card.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Two-handed driving

is a must around here!

Wind gusts are 50 mph+! Talk about windblown.

There's salt spray all over the road and the windchill is 11. (At least it's 11 above zero and not below, like where my mom is.) Some of the edges of the water around the sound have even frozen.