I’ve been neglectful of the blog, as usual, but my mental health bogged down for a few weeks. I feel better now.

I threw a soiree for Sandy’s 65th birthday at Cafe Europa on Nov. 16 that went well. My sister and brother-in-law came to it, which made us both very happy. I don’t have any good photos because it was a little too dark for my camera. We haven’t had a party since Sandy’s 50th birthday, mainly because of my overwhelming anxiety about throwing parties. That one was fun but definitely had its problems. We had just moved into our house and didn’t have as much stuff so there was more room for people. Nowadays, it would be a real squeeze. We don’t have the back deck any more and I can’t even figure out how to make room for a Christmas tree.

The following week we went to Lake Waccamaw, as has become the tradition. As usual, the photos begged to be taken. There are different birds at Lake Waccamaw in fall and winter, and that’s a nice change from the usual mallards. There were flocks of American coots and we identified a pair of buffleheads one day. Photos at the end of the post.

The big surprise was when we went to lunch at Cape Fear Vineyards near White Lake in Bladen County. Seriously in the middle of nowhere, and as a former resident of Robeson County, I know about nowhere. Delicious food at decent prices, beautiful grounds, horses, miniature horses, llamas, and an art collection worth millions of dollars. There were at least a couple of hundred autographed celebrity photos and paintings, prints and memorabilia from movie and rock stars, including every member of the Beatles. But also, many signed prints and lithographs from Dali, Picasso, Chagall, even a Renoir. Shepard Fairey prints in the freakin’ bathroom. I was stunned. The owner moved back home after years of owning a restaurant in L.A., and he was friends with a lot of famous people. The question remains, why would anybody rich want to move back to inland eastern North Carolina? Amazing.

After that we took a little two-car ferry across the Cape Fear River and back just for fun.

And here are my annual November Lake Waccamaw shots. We stayed at Fred’s (now Weezer’s and our family’s) house again. The first time we’ve stayed there since it has central heat.

American coots on the lake and on the canal:

Big Bird came by at some point that morning (great blue heron).