Archive for October, 2010

Matt Haley’s adventures in Nepal and India

October 27, 2010

Matt Haley is shown here with Leela, Laxmi, Kabita & Nari at Bal-Mandir Orphanage. Kabita, second from left, is still at the orphanage due to her inability to speak or hear. The others have been placed in Reliance School.

Delaware Cape Region restaurateur Matt Haley has embarked on another winter trip to the Asian subcontinent to continue his support of an orphanage he has adopted and to explore the various cuisine cultures of that exciting part of the world. He is sending through lots of blogs and photos and I’m publishing them here to give our readers insight into his travels, discoveries and perspective on a very different part of the world. DF

Nepal – October 2010 Arrival

We arrived in Kathmandu not long before Shannon, Alex and Meredith, my traveling companions, were on route to the orphanage, Bal-Mandir. We met Leela and Laxmi, my adopted Nepali daughters who were formerly residents at Bal-Mandir, at the airport.  There were the usual happy tears, hugs and new introductions to their new “Aunties” before they had to go back to school to finish exams ahead of the Dasain Holidays.

Once at Bal-Mandir, we immediately caught up with Director Rabin Shresta, who led us to Kabita,  a deaf and speechless young woman I have been involved with for some time. She is considered my third Nepali daughter. On seeing her, more tears came. We had all studied a little American sign language, but come to find out what I thought was an international language was not so. When I tried to sign “Hello, how are you?” Kabita laughed hysterically and wrote down “wrong language!”

As wonderful as it is to see the children, there is always a sense of despair in seeing the surroundings and then an even elevated sense of shame to see how complete the people express themselves with happiness and gratitude.

Once settled in, it is a special treat to walk the streets of Kathmandu with the children. Shannon and I were led through the back streets by ten extremely excited children.  They  loved stopping at every street vendor, always asking us to sample their country’s food, never asking for themselves. Last year I wrote of the samosa, chat and momos on the street which would be similar to empanadas, chick pea salsa and dumplings. This is a wonderful way to settle in for the beginning of what should be a great adventure in all the ways to travel.

I have never traveled with Shannon Colburn, my co-worker, but have always wanted to. At the age of 27, she has been to over 50 countries and her view is like mine: Never visit another country or destination without at least giving back something it has given you. Also, eat, read, study art and listen to the music indigenous to the environment. This is how travel has become more for me then a vacation.

Within a few days the emotional side of this trip really settled in for us. We had the opportunity to take five orphan children from Kusi Ghar (our group home called “happy house”) trekking to the Annapurna region. Three  of the five had never been on a plane. Five of five had never been on an escalator or elevator. In my past visits I was always on the first floor so Leela and Laxmi hadn’t been on escalators or elevators either. So of course we immediately went to the hotel Yak & Yeti and put ten kids on the elevator, then to the mall to ride the escalators. I had to drag them off both. It was like being at a carnival.

It is always hard deciding who can come on treks and field trips, but since it was a holiday, it was easier since most children will head back to their villages to see and be with what relatives they may have left. We are leaving the trek and airport soon. We decided to bring Jeevaan, Leela, Laxmi, Chet and Bina along with Bruce Keenan – head of HCC -Shannon, Alex Capano, Meredith Marshall and Wanchuu our Sherpa and his brothers. We will trek Annapurna for 5-6 days. The weather looks like it’s going to be wonderful.

For more info on HCC please google Himalayan Children’s Charities. Thanks for your interest. Matt

Shannon Colburn of Rehoboth Beach teaching games to the kids in Bal-mandir.

The students at Reliance School in Kathmandu.


Dueling public radio and business moods

October 21, 2010

American University in Washington has entered the public radio market on Delmarva. This billboard is along the westbound lane of Route 9 between Lewes and Georgetown.

21 October 2010

Cooler today and drier.  Real autumn.  Leaves starting to change. After yesterday’s rain, the air smelled so good – some of it the fresh, rain-soaked scent of decaying leaves.

I never thought of public radio stations as competing with one another.  They receive government funding and make appeals to their listeners for donations and sponsorships.  Their commercial advertising is strictly regulated and limited.  I guess that’s why it surprised me when I saw American University’s WAMU start advertising for a public radio frequency on Delmarva.  That puts them in direct competition with WSCL and WSDL out of Salisbury University in Salisbury. They’re also carrying a lot of the same programming – the good programs from a variety of public radio outlets, primarily from NPR.  These days NPR programming identifies itself as NPR instead of National Public Radio.  The announcers always used to say National Public Radio but it’s been a while since I’ve heard the National Public Radio tag.  It’s all NPR now. Everyone wants to distance themselves from the government.

I’m a regular listen and send pledge dollars from time to time. The national and international coverage is excellent.  I find it fair and represents many sides. The local coverage provided by the folks at WSCL and WSDL is also good and getting to be more in-depth all the time. Not as good as newspapers, but what would you expect me to say. Put all the media together and we’re so blessed in this country and state to have lots of information on which to act to make our democracy strong.

WSDL, with news and talk, and WSDL, with great classical programming, are in the middle of their fall fund drive.  It’s interesting to hear them emphasizing that pledges to them will stay on Delmarva, an obvious reference to WAMU’s incursion into the market.  That’s the fun of being on Delmarva, separated geographically by the Chesapeake and Delaware bays.  It makes us feel special.

How was summer business?

I stop in a variety of businesses in Delaware’s Cape Region from time to time.  Here are some of the folks that told me they had a good summer:

Gus at Gus and Gus on the Boardwalk told me it was a strong summer.  He wouldn’t tell me before Labor Day.  But by early October he was ready to commit.  “Not fabulous,” he said, “but strong.”

Rudy and Chelsea Spoor at King’s Ice Cream in Lewes and Milton said they had a strong summer, especially in Lewes.

Mark Grabowski and Jim Paslawski at Finbar’s in Rehoboth said they had a very strong summer.  “It was our best year in four years here,” said Mark.

Esther Maria and Jesus at Café A Go Go on the avenue in Rehoboth said the summer was steady and strong.

Ed Lynch at Lewes Cycle Sports said the summer’s good weather made for strong rentals to people wanting to ride the area trails and towns.

Matt DiSabatino said the downtown Lewes restaurant scene was strong and steady and Matt Carter at Quest Fitness said kayak and paddle board rentals were stronger than ever.

Dennis Forney at the Cape Gazette ( hey, that’s me!) said the Beach Paper had one of its best years ever while the Cape Gazette is continuing to adjust along with the overall economy. “We’re blessed with a strong base,” I said, “but it sure is going up and down a lot. The paper is kind of a barometer of economic activity in Delaware’s Cape Region. When the economy is up, we’re up. When it’s down, we’re down. Right now, we’re down but leveling out. I think it’s going to take a few years to get really settled down. The whole world is recalibrating. And anybody who expected the economy to turn around in just a couple of years is dreaming. How long did it take to get us in this mess? We have a ways to go. But like everyone else, we’re trying to adjust as well as we can to the conditions as they exist – not as they were or as we would like them to be.”

That Forney guy always was mouthy.

Don’t forget the power of love.

Don Wagner’s license tags tell a story

October 20, 2010

Don Wagner stands in front of a small part of his license tag collection.

20 October 2010

Overcast and light fog, feels like October

Don Wagner loves words and the unusual, license tags and memorabilia. His unique building on Savannah Road in Lewes, opposite the end of Cedar Avenue, has hosted a variety of businesses over the years but almost all of them have to do with cars.  This year he leased out space for the Two Dips ice cream business.  Add a few picnic tables, some bright lights, palm trees and friendly servers and the level of busyness on the location went into a higher gear than it had seen in several years.

Inside the main part of the building, people wander around with their cones and look at Don’s tag collection.  He has them from all eras and from all over the U.S. Most of them have letters and numbers but many have the little sayings that have become so interesting on our cars.  He showed me a section of the wall that had new tags given to him from visitors just this summer.  There were at least 20 and they came from north, south, east and west.

“People wander in, take a look, and then get my address.  They send me tags they have sitting around their houses and garages.” Don loves to look at the tags and put the letters together to form interesting or historic phrases.  He looks at one wall and says to all within hearing distance: “Take a look at these.”  Pointing to one tag after another, he shows how groups of letters, in rhebus-like fashion, spell out the preamble of the U.S. constitution. “We the people . . . ” As he keeps going through the tags and his history lesson, you feel your jaw begin to drop.  Don’s amazing.

The tables and palm trees are inside for the winter now, the bright lights off at night, the freezers quiet and warm and the garage doors on Don’s personal license tag museum are down until next summer.  Then, owners of classic cars will return with their shining treasures on wheels and they’ll talk with Don and see what new prizes he’s displaying.

Don’s one of the area’s true characters.  A bright light.  Make it a point to stop in next summer and hear the stories of what visitors have dropped off from across the land.

License tag on a car registered in Texas driving down Gills Neck Road in Lewes last week:  H8OPEC

Tomorrow I’ll blog about local businesses and their thoughts on the past summer.

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival sets new records

October 19, 2010

Boney James wails during the Friday concert at Rehoboth Convention Center. Ron MacArthur photograph


19 October 2010

Rehoboth’s Convention Center looks quiet from the outside.  But inside, its rafters, walls, floorboards, doors, light fixtures and hinges are still ringing and vibrating from the loud, tight and live jazz that filled its spaces during the 21st Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival last weekend.

Delaware Celebration of Jazz President Denny Santangini said this year’s festival broke new records in terms of attendance.  “For the first time ever,” said Santangini, “we had four consecutive shows at the Convention Center sold out. Friday night, both Saturday shows and the Sunday jam when we had 24 professional jazz musicians playing solid music for three and a half hours.  All I can say is it was absolutely fantastic. The town was crowded.  Fabulous.  Overwhelming. A huge success.”

Santangini said this year’s festival attracted a lot of people.  “I could tell by the way they were telling me they were having a hard time finding a place to park. Lots of new people.  We did a lot of advertising in the Philadelphia market and they really responded. Every T-shirt was sold, every hat was sold. The artists came to me during the jam  We had a back room set up with an Italian buffet for them.  They had nothing but compliments.  Said this is the best jazz festival they attend. And they go to a lot of festivals.  They also told me they sold more CDs here than anywhere else they have been.  The jazz festival gets a cut on that.  20 percent.  It’s not a lot but it all adds up.”

Santangini said the success of this year’s festival means Delaware Celebration of Jazz Inc. will be able to again make significant cash contributions to Beebe Medical Center and Meals on Wheels.

Tomorrow I will be blogging about Don Wagner on Lewes Beach and his license tag museum.

Bethel congregation braves rain for photo

October 6, 2010

Members of the Bethel United Methodist Church congregation in Lewes gather for a centennial photograph.

6 October 2010

A little bit of rain last Sunday morning didn’t deter members of the Bethel United Methodist Church congregation in Lewes from gathering in front of the church following the 10 a.m. service for a photograph.  The photograph was scheduled as part of the commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the church building at the corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. George Hatter, a lineman for the Board of Public Works in Lewes, positioned a bucket truck so an overhead photo could be taken. When the appointed time arrived, about 11:15, rain drops had begun to fall.  It wasn’t a particularly cold rain and certainly not enough to dampen the spirits of young and old who wanted to be part of history. This photograph and others from a commemorative service at the church will appear in the Friday, Oct. 8 edition of the Cape Gazette.

Methodism in Lewes reaches back to as early as 1739 when George Whitefield, an emissary from Methodism founder John Wesley, preached from the balcony of the Hitchens House at the corner of Kings Highway and Madison Avenue about a new way to worship Jesus Christ.

Bishop Peggy Johnson, leader of the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church, told those at the Oct. 3 commemorative service at Bethel that they should look to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, in chapters five through seven of Matthew’s gospel, as the truest guide to Christian principles.  That sermon contains some of the toughest Christian tenets – tenets that seem to get lost in the acrimonious world in which we live. Tough tenets but tenets based purely in love.  “Turn the other cheek” and “love thine enemies”  are suggestions that many find hard to swallow. Still, Christianity is alive, well and thriving more than 2,000 years after the death of Jesus.  It’s hard to ignore that kind of staying power.