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LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: Looking back at 2015 and ahead to 2016

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I certainly didn’t come close to accomplishing all my goals in 2015, but there is always next year to keep working and rededicate my energies to the next phase.

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“I just feel like I am trying hard to do the right things—and I am making everything worse—and this is the most important thing in the world! Do you understand what I’m saying?” I wailed at Jock.

ICONIC LOCAL EATERY: Gwenyfar ate at Winnie’s—known for their burgers—for the first time as part of her 2015 Live Local resolutions.  Photo by Holland Dotts Photography

ICONIC LOCAL EATERY: Gwenyfar ate at Winnie’s—known for their burgers—for the first time as part of her 2015 Live Local resolutions. Photo by Holland Dotts Photography

“Are you kidding? I raised a daughter. Of course I know what you mean.”

It was the perfect answer—having been on the other side of that—as a daughter who baffled her parents at every turn. In fact, he couldn’t have picked a better answer, because parenting is the most important thing he could do. It also doesn’t come with a guide book. Apparently, the important things in life never do. 

On the other hand, I was at the end of my tether with nursing Hilda in her first 48 hours home from the hospital—and knowing I made it exponentially worse by insisting on taking her home early. I should have listened to professionals, but we both thought it was different from what they described. Now, I have taken up temporary residence in the bathroom we converted to be Hilda’s condo. I have a lot of time for reflection (and panic—did I mention panic?).  With 2015 drawing to a close, that first sentence is starting to look like my mantra for the year if not more.

I set out with a combination of lofty, theory-oriented Live Local goals of engaging in 40 very down-to-Earth local experiences in 2015. On the lofty side, I planned to take a cross-country trip in a newly renovated ’67 VW bus to look at Main Street USA (Route 66), report on the Brunswick Connector Bus option, spend more time learning about, enjoying and reporting on the economics of our river and ocean, supporting local tradesmen through my ongoing renovation projects, and improving our eating habits at home, for both health and local food reasons. In addition, I hoped to continue to advocate for and report about the fight for our film incentives, and to explore issues around the proposed Municipal Service District (MSD) downtown.


Well, the bus project is still a project, and she currently does not have an engine or transmission installed. I actually made great progress on getting her rusted metal work replaced, her underside glass blasted and sealed, and everything else sanded. But that took till last week; she still is far from road worthy, and by mid-July of this year that was unthinkable.

On the plus side, the work is solid and continues at a good pace (or will when I have the time and money to get back to her). So, I really do hope that by July of this year, we are rolling down Route 66 to learn about the evolution of small business across the country and over two centuries.

Part of why I ran out of money for the project came with work on another resolution: restorations and putting tradesmen to work. After five years, the second floor of the bookstore—which will become an apartment—passed its final inspection from the county. We have HVAC, electricity, plumbing, appliances, doors, walls, windows—everything expected of a usable space. Sure, it could have gone a lot faster had I been willing to borrow money. But I wasn’t. And I waited for specific people to be available to help with the project. Finding someone you enjoy working with makes all the difference in the world. Jon Stafford, Bill Ladd, Bart Duarte, and Jeremy Bradford are all incredible people to work with; I do not begrudge a day I waited. What they made happen for me is breath-taking. Thank you, gentlemen.

Speaking of buses and transportation, I took the Brunswick Connector in 2015. Anyone who hasn’t should utilize it as a wonderful alternative for getting across the bridge: do a little shopping, have lunch with pals, then hop back on to get home—all without the misery of driving over the bridge and sitting in the parking lot, currently known as the Andrew Jackson Highway.

Though we didn’t get our full film incentive reinstated, there have been small steps forward this year: an increase in the film-grant fund, the introduction of the independent film-grant fund, and there is a rumor of a TV series starting production here in February. Things are looking up.  By no means should it be construed as “the battle is over”; it’s a long-range siege strategy, not a short, quick and dirty fight. Please, keep the importance of film to our economy on your lips when you speak with our elected representatives—or even your friends. We never know when something bears fruit. 

While I did look to some extent at the impact our waterways have on lives, there is far more that needs to be explored on that front. And I truly failed to shed any sort of light or insight on the MSD topic.

I guess that’s part of what next year will be about.

On a more realistic and specific front, I planned 40 activities to reacquaint with in our fair city. I didn’t get to 40, but I did have a fascinating time with:

1. Kayaking the Intracoastal Waterway with Jill.

2. Visiting Fort Fisher Aquarium; I hadn’t been there since the renovation/expansion. The Lorakeets were incredible!

3. Walking Moore’s Creek Bridge Park Trail with Hilda.

4. Daytripping to Halyburton Park. My friend, Donna, took me to walk the trails and we met so many nice people—especially young mothers and folks with dogs. So glad.

5. Drinking my first beer at the Barbary Coast (PBR, of course, as a nod to “Blue Velvet”).

6. Taking a horse drawn carriage tour. OK, actually we talked through the tour part, but the driver was lovely and the horses were even more awesome.

7. Eating my first Britt’s Donut, and having my first meal at Winnie’s, Goody Goody, and Merritt’s Burger House. All awesome—worth waiting for! Makes me wonder why I wasted my life without them? Sigh.

8. Attending my first fencing class with Cape Fear Fencing Association at Tileston Gym.  I actually have been talking to some friends about signing up for the next round of classes. But I have to wait, because in January, I am still going to be full-time by Hilda’s side, and all available money is going to her recovery right now.

That’s part of why I haven’t made it to everything on the list: money; the other part is time. Hilda’s accident has re-directed all our financial plans at this time of year. As Jock says, it was just a reminder about what is really important in our lives—and beyond any price. So, evaluation for the year:

I certainly didn’t come close to accomplishing all my goals, but I did the important one. There is always next year to keep working and rededicate my energies to the next phase.

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