Grandma’s Front Porch

Is there anything better than having a Grandmother, and all her grandmother ways (a stocked fridge, a big hug, maybe a fresh baked cookie, no judgment, loves all your friends and your new haircut) oh and she has an old Victorian beach cottage in a little southern beach town?  Oh and that little Grandma beach house is exactly 10 min. from your own front door.

Seriously what could be better?

Suzanne and I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon opening up the beach house affectionately known as “la casa de Chica”.  Chica is the Grandma who is the star of this particular show.

After going through the house and making sure all was good, we took a walk to the beach and happened on some buddies at a sidewalk café who beckoned us in for a cocktail and some conversation (a bouncer from the pub, two biologist/kayak guides, a brain scientist)  anyway, we sat in the sun had a few laughs and just enjoyed being a part of a great community.  It’s the little wonderful things, strung together, that make life a pleasure…

Much more on this topic in future posts.

Frost was (is) right

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost

Trying out for a spot on an NBA basketball team, earning a scholarship for academic excellence, winning a Nobel Prize, being elected to a political office.  These are things for which there is little one can do but to accept the outcome and move on.

Almost everything else where people are chosen for a limited number of spots, or a winner is picked over many competitors; there are other ways to win than the one that is spelled out in the rule book.

There is a well worn path for applying to a college or university, you work your ass off in high school for four years, you study your ass off and you take tests that compare you against everyone else on the planet, Get straight A’s, be in the top 1% of your class, make perfect scores on your SAT and your ACT, get yourself elected as Jr. and Sr. class president and make a pilgrimage to Africa to build a school for orphans.  Do all these things and your chances are pretty good, but still no guarantee. You throw your name in a hat and hope you get picked.  That is the front door, and passing through that way is perfectly acceptable.  But what if you follow the rules and they say “no thanks” you didn’t get picked.  There are other doors, windows, and ways that you can employ that will score you a seat at the table.

In fact, you can even plan to use the side door from the start and take a whole lot of the pressure off yourself.  With a little planning you can score your place and save a few bucks in the process.

The diploma you earn from XYZ University doesn’t have an asterisk on it that says ( yea but she didn’t get in through the front door; she went to Jr. College for a year) Yours looks just like the one that the HS valedictorian gets, and the funny thing is, your story is one hell of a lot better and will likely score you a better gig when you graduate because you showed the world something that it desperately needs: creativity, moxy, and a set a brass balls.  You didn’t take no for an answer and you figured out a way to reach your goals and you did it by creating your own rules.  You made yourself remarkable and remarkable is very very valuable.

Play by the rules and hope, or change the game, and thus the rules, and stack the deck in your favor.  Is the side door a guarantee?  Of course not, but it is the choice with the most control and less random chance,  for my money, I’ll bet on the one where I have my hands on the steering wheel vs. some faceless committee that will never know me and what I have to offer.

The road less traveled is a scarier road, it’s darker, harder to follow, there is no map or GPS, sometimes you have to hack your way through it.  This is why the vast majority of people don’t take it, this is also why it almost always proves more interesting, more enlightening, more of an adventure, and more remarkable when you arrive at the final destination, wherever that may be.

Love, Dad

Clam Shells

When you live on the Eastern Shore of VA, your car is usually dirty, your driveway is generally not paved, rather it is made of crushed clam and oyster shells,  (what? that is insane, how many shells does it take to make a driveway that is a quarter of a mile long?)  an ass load, dump truck after dump truck,  Where do they all come from?  Shucking houses that shuck and package oysters and clams for shipping.  Mountains of shell are created, and we spread them on our driveways and roads like you would gravel.  We take it for granted; my guess is you will find it practically amazing, I know I did.

When I looked at the floor mats in my car this morning and they were peppered with little pieces of shell, I smiled,  I love living on the Eastern Shore of VA.  It is one of the most unique places that I know of, it is special, it is different, it is unique and it is my home and I love it.

Sunrise at Greene Cottage

Spring has arrived in Northampton County and the annual explosion of color, sound, smell, and basic sensory overload  abounds.

Sunrise, April morning, the sun has made it through the trees and is now rising over the water to the east.  Greene Cottage is positioned on a point that is created by Chesapeake Bay to the West and Barlow creek to the East.  At this time of year you can sit on the porch and catch both a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful sunset.  It is something that I really didn’t factor in when the cottage was planned and built but it is something that I now feel is a major bonus.  When I am not traveling I like to make sure that I catch both rise and set from the back porch.  Each time I do I practicly cry from feeling so lucky.  There are guys I know that work on the water, they fish, crab, grow clams and oysters and I ask them if this ever gets old, remember these guys are about as much man as men can get.  They give a nod, maybe a grin, and smile with their eyes and hit you with a “nope”  While their lives are not easy, and they see this spectical everyday, they too appreciate it as much as a newbie.  Enjoy



One very simple word, Zig.  Is Zig actually a word? Probably not.  Zigging is what you do when everyone else is Zagging.  This activity, if practiced like a religion does several things.

When you are an early Zigger, you are most likely shunned by all the other Zaggers around you.  Nature doesn’t like Ziggers and it’s not just humans either, remember how they treated Rudolf?  He was a Zigger and everyone (except that little hottie Clairice) shunned him (more on Clairice in a second)

Young, inexperienced Ziggers do things differently than the crowd.  They don’t participate in the stuff the cool kids do, or they are sooo cool they do things far cooler than the crowd,  In any case they are set apart from the crowd and that can be a very lonely place.

If you have a child that is choosing the Zigger path, it can be very painful to watch as the group tries to bully them into conforming, eventually leading to either conformity or shunning.

This all changes when the Zigger path leads inevitably to material success.  Then the Zigger is labeled a maverick and the crowd embraces him as a rebel, a revolutionary, brilliant.  The path to this success is a dark and lonely one.

The path in the yellow wood one well worn, the other much less so.  What about the third path?  The one you hack out of the woods, the one you create.

Two paths meet in a yellow wood, I chose neither but rather cut my own and that was really really hard but I pressed on and that pressing alone made all the difference.

Anyone can Zag, lots and lots of people are really good at Zagging and playing the established well worn game.  Most of the wordd belongs to the Zagging club.  Ziggers are much more rare.  Rare, almost always is more valuable.  All hail the Ziggers of the world they are the ones that change things.  (and they sometimes even get the girl ala Clairice)


Back in the day they really didn’t do much insulating.  They did what they could to keep out drafts by plugging holes with rags or anything they had lying around.  In more expensive houses where they would plaster interior spaces they would put up lath (little strips of wood that look like long wooden yard sticks) and they would put horse hair plaster over that.  The airspace would act as somewhat of an insulator.

The real way these little places stayed warm was because they were little and a fire in the fireplace would keep the place toasty in the winter and the windows particularly the ones on the gable ends would keep them cool in the summer.  All with no electricity, no oil heat nothing.

The wood that the house was made of could also breath cause it was not all sealed up.  That is why so many of the these places survived.  When you close a house up and button up and seal it up there is no place for the moisture to go and a wooden house will rot from the inside out, then the termites and beatles move in and your done.

Exterior Features

The exterior is pretty much finished with the exception of a couple coats of paint and perhaps a shutter or two.  There are two floors, the second is on the dormer side and is more of a loft with a mac daddy view of the water.

The house is modeled after several historical homes here on the shore that follow an architectural style called “big house, little house, colonnade, kitchen”  These are very long houses that evolved over time as kids and money either required or permitted.  My cottage is the “little house”  it is the one that would have been built first than added onto.

The building is made of recycled lumber all harvested within 10 miles of where the house sits today.  It is constructed out of “true” lumber  a 2X8 is a 2X8 which gives the interior a very substantial post and beam feel.  My carpenter that built it is a trim guy so it is framed like a trim guy would frame.  Very neat, plumb, square, etc.  The interior will not be finished with anything other than paint and the framing is the trim.

The house is built pretty much as it would have been built 100 years ago, no plywood, no house rap, nothing that was not available 100 years ago.

Welcome to Greene Cottage

Welcome to Greene Cottage, the home of my version of very simple environmentally conscious home construction.   We have taken a step back in time, before modern technology whittled away at the craftsmanship in home building, and to a time before the days of composite building material compromises.

The building you see is made of recycled lumber all harvested within 10 miles of where the house sits today.  It is constructed out of “true” lumber  a 2X8 is a 2X8 which gives the interior a very substantial post and beam feel.  My carpenter that built it is a trim guy so it is framed like a trim guy would frame.  Very neat, plumb, square, etc.  The interior will not be finished with anything other than paint and the framing is the trim.

The house is built pretty much as it would have been built 100 years ago, no plywood, no house rap, nothing that was not available 100 years ago.

We are located in Northampton County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in a little town called Eastville.  If you are ever passing through drop us a note and come have a look.