Happy Mother’s Day!

I wrote this poem about 6 years ago. It is full of inside jokes, but I thought it would be fun to post. I hope you enjoy reading this, and I hope you all have a wonderful mother’s day!

Oh Mother…

Who's gonna make the coffee?
Who's gonna clean the floor?
Who's gonna buy the toilet paper
when we don't have any more?

Who's gonna cut the grass?
Who's gonna clean the pool?
Who's gonna look at Savannah and say,
"You're wearing that to school"?

Who's gonna tell the baby
"be careful, that knife is sharp"?
Who's gonna ask silly questions
just to aggravate Clark?

Who's gonna be the grownup
when grownup stuff needs to be done?
Who's gonna be sarcastic, clever, and mean
just for fun?

Who's gonna do everything,
everything we don't do?
And love us forever and ever?
Mother, oh mother, it's you!

ThunderFoot: Part II

ThunderFoot Band room

ThunderFoot is a rock & roll band playing a range of music from Eddie Money to Tom Petty, Susan Tedeschi, Grace Potter, The Pretenders, and originals. We have experience playing locally at bars & restaurants, Wild Caught Festival, Beaufort Music Festival, NC Seafood Festival, weddings, private parties, and more.

Meet the Band



“You’re going to major in Business Administration.”

– Marj’s Dad
Marjorie singer

Marjorie has always been a singer.

She grew up singing in the church choir with her dad. Later, she joined an a cappella vocal ensemble that traveled to Italy and performed all over the country.

After being accepted into the School of Music at ASU, Marjorie found out she was expecting her first child, Charlotte.  Putting musical aspirations aside, she majored in Business Administration. 

Busy with life and being a mom, Marjorie found her way back to music.

She joined Beaufort Blues Project in May of 2013. Her first gig was at the popular “Hannah’s House” of Beaufort – and she’s been singing ever since!

“During this time [with Beaufort Blues Project], I found my voice and my style and my soul. I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.” – Marj


“What’s all this guitar crap?”

– Neal’s mom

Neal can tell you the very moment it happened, the moment he knew what his guitar should sound like.

He was hanging out with his cousin Jake, watching MTV. A music video aired that would influence Neal immediately: Steve Vai “The Audience is Listening.”

Steve Vai is a hard rock, virtuoso guitarist. Some say the only way to sound like Steve Vai is to practice 10 hours a day.

Neal, hearing this massive and exciting guitar sound, knew he wanted to play guitar like that.

Neal puts together some incredible tones and effects that are powerful and emotional. You will feel and enjoy his mood and talent.

Bass & Keys

“Are you really into this music thing?”

– Talley’s mom
Talley Bass and Keys

Talley first began taking piano lessons with Mr. Morris on Orange Street. She traveled to Beaufort once a week for a few months, maybe even a year.

The best part about this drive into town was the one-on-one time with her mom. Riding in the car, the two would sing and dance while listening to Motown hits.

For Talley, playing piano has been a way to meet new people, build friendships, and connect with others.

These days, she’s playing a solid bass line on the keys while adding complementary piano and organ tones.


“The worst mistake I ever made was buying you kids musical instruments.”

– Brian’s Dad
ThunderFoot Drummer

Brian is a singer-songwriter. He has produced 3 albums and won awards for his original songs.

His early years were spent as a skateboard kid who was into heavy metal. Brian started playing drums as a teenager, then moved onto guitar.

He first played with a band in his hometown of Wilmington, NC. While attending college in Greensboro, NC, Brian continued to play with bands and book solo gigs.

He has played bars in New York’s lower east side and performed in a band as a multi-instrumentalist for a modern dance troop.

Brain’s interest in music ranges from heavy metal to red dirt country.

After years of playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin, and more, Brian has returned to the first instrument of his youth – the drums.

Come see for yourself why everyone falls in love with Marjorie, what it means to go to the “Tone Zone,” and what makes everyone so happy at our shows!

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ThunderFoot: Part I


Spring is a season of newness and growth.  Days are brighter.  Moods are sunnier.  With spring comes a feeling of joy and energy.  We had a long, cool spring last year, filled with crisp days and chilly nights.  Many families found new hobbies involving outdoor activities, such as gardening, riding bikes, and backyard fun.   

Feeling the need to be outside, Brian and I decided to build a firepit.  We picked a cozy spot near his music studio, tucked away and removed.  We spent the day moving heavy, busted chunks of concrete and rocks.  We stacked each block, forming a circular pattern until the top layer was complete. 

Brian and I sat around the new firepit.  The final glimpses of day were fading away as night demanded attention.  It felt as if the night was cradling us in her hands.  She pushed us closer to the fire.  Tingling warmth spread across my face and flushed my cheeks. The fire, bright and luminous, hissed and popped.  Bursts of sparks danced above the flames.  Familiar grey ribbons floated in the air, ashy and smoky.

We were engulfed in that space between darkness and light.

We were caught in this tangible moment, listening to music, hearing every note and chord.  We were fascinated with the cleverness of words laced together.  We were feeling every verse, every chorus, every measure.  It was a lyrical existence in time – poetic, inspired.  We didn’t want it to end.

It had been a few months since Brian had played with his band, and almost a year since I had played with mine.  We were missing it, and needing it. 

Warmed by the vigorous flames, and emboldened by the night, we sought the fulfilment of playing music together.  We had a desire that couldn’t be contained, much like those errant sparks. 

The music we wanted to create would need a drummer, guitarist, bassist, and singer. I am a keyboard player – a soft, quiet keyboard player.  I enjoy playing mild, layered tones in the background.  Brian has spent most of his time in a band as a singer and guitarist.  If we truly embraced this season of newness and growth, Brian would become a drummer, and I would have to play bass.

I reached out to a couple of friends whom I felt would be essential to this idea.  Maybe it was the hopeful days of spring, perhaps it was a longing for brightness and energy, but everyone agreed to this creative endeavor, just as the blossoms agree to be seen. 

A few weeks later, cables were run, mics were checked, amps were cranked.  We played “No Matter What” by the band Badfinger.  It was bright and luminous, warm and familiar. 

Something changed in the room the instant we played that song.  We were a band. All the pieces fit together, all the heavy, weighted chunks of concrete, were perfectly stacked. Everything was in the right place. 

Get Down to the Water

The tides have always been a part of my life.  As children, we would spend our summer days in the water.  Sometimes we would play on the shoals.  At other times, we would pass right over them as if they were never there.  The shape of our aquatic playground changed daily, hourly, minute by minute.  It was the sea’s way of playing hide-and-seek with us.  Always changing, never staying in one place.

In the fall of 2008, a major force was at work – gravity. The earth and moon were helpless to this constantly changing relationship of closeness and distance.  This mighty force.  Unrelenting. Unavoidable. Unstoppable.  The tide was rising.

I was living in the sweetest little one-bedroom house, renting the downstairs unit of a waterfront island cottage.  I loved that little house.  It was simple, and plain, and perfect.  Double sliding glass doors facing the canal.  Many nights, sometimes around midnight, I would put my kayak in the water and paddle out, moving with the water.  Life there was effortless and peaceful, but the tide was rising.

It was a Thursday evening, and I left the house to go work at my part-time job. The sun was still out.  I remember noticing the tide being really high, but I thought nothing of it. 

Within 30 minutes, the tide was inside that simple, plain, perfect house. 

As a result, and with a disappointed heart, I moved out.  This force, this constantly changing relationship of closeness and distance, this rising tide, changed everything.

I asked my mother if I could stay with her for a couple of weeks – just until I found somewhere else to live.  We decided that if I’m going to pay someone rent, it might as well be her.  With a little extra income, she could afford to retire soon.  So, she asked me to stay, and I did.

It was nothing but a party for the first several years, hanging out with my brothers and getting to know the people in the neighborhood.  My brother Willis introduced me to his good friend Dan.  After realizing we all had a similar passion for music, we did the sensible thing that most grown-ups would do, we started a band!  Standing in Dan’s driveway, we quickly came up with the perfect band name: Straits Haven.  We were moving with the tide, changing.

The “Straits” is a narrow body of water north of Harkers Island.  It connects the mouth of North River to Core Sound.  It is where I found my first clam and sand dollar, and where I caught my first flounder and drum.  Many summer days and evenings were spent in the Straits with my family.  Boats glide across the water.  Dolphin swim through the channel.  Birds rest. 

Our band was named after this body of water, this narrow passage of connecting water.  This band connected us to each other, to new friends, and to new adventures to come.  It has been many years since the beginning of that band.  Straits Haven has had many gigs, road trips, and stories. The band has changed, I have changed, just as the tide has changed. 

Our lives are like a major force at work.  We are helpless to this constantly changing relationship of closeness and distance.  This mighty force.  Unrelenting. Unavoidable. Unstoppable.  The tide is rising.  Always changing, never staying in one place.

Listen to Straits Haven:

Get Down to the Water

Warm Wishes

Dear Reader,

I hope you are staying warm this winter! I know so many of you miss all the other seasons! Take advantage of these extra cold weekends and cook something warm and comforting. This weekend, I chose to make Lasagna Soup.

I first created this soup last year during our annual “Souper Bowl” competition. We had clam chowder, taco soup, broccoli & cheese soup, and many more. Imagine a few tables pushed together full of hot soups, blended aromas filling the air, and all the power strips you can find! It was a fun gathering and hot soup is always a happy treat.

I have made this soup a few times since then. Each time the ingredients may change just a little, but the satisfying result is always the same. I hope this winter, maybe this weekend, you will make time for something warm and filling as well.

With warm wishes,


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar (24 ounce) pasta sauce
  • 1 carton (32 ounce) chicken stock
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces farfalle pasta
  • shredded mozzarella cheese for topping


  1. Brown the onion and ground meat in a large pot, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, mix well.
  3. Add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, and half of the chicken stock.
  4. Stir in pesto and cottage cheese.
  5. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Undercook pasta by about 3-4 minutes. Strain noodles and add to soup.
  6. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes or until pasta is done.

Serve with shredded mozzarella cheese, crushed red pepper, and garlic bread.


As the noodles continue to cook, they will absorb some of the moisture from the soup. Add some of the remaining chicken stock as the soup thickens. Soups like this can have many substitutions. I have used broken lasagna noodles instead of farfalle. If available, I will dice and sauté carrots before adding onions and meat. Try including mushrooms and zucchini, or add 1/2 pound of ground sausage for extra flavor.

Share with us your warm wishes! Leave a comment.

Just Another Day

I celebrated a birthday this week!  And on this birthday, I learned a new lesson.  I think it is natural – or at least healthy – to always be learning.  There are so many things we can learn each day.  As a teacher, I enjoy modeling for my students that learning never stops, just because you grow up.  I enjoy learning something new every day.  I learned many things this week, starting with a little history of what was happening in the year 1976, the year I was born: 

  • a dozen eggs cost 69 cents
  • stamps cost 13 cents
  • Stretch Armstrong was created
  • the Steelers won the Super Bowl
  • Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were tv favorites
  • there were no red M&M’s

I don’t mind getting older, but I don’t expect balloons or a party. You don’t even need to call me or tell me happy birthday.  It’s just another day – or so I thought, until this week.  This week, I learned something new.

You see, there are six kids in my family – four boys, two girls. Growing up, we simply celebrated birthdays at home, with just the immediate family.  It made sense.  The six of us plus mama and daddy, eight people singing was enough of a party!  Usually, we would have dinner together as a family, and then blow out the candles.  Acknowledgement of the birthday.  Simple. With your parents and brothers and sisters.  It’s just the way birthdays were done. 

My birthday is two weeks after New Year, which is one week after Christmas, which is about four weeks after Thanksgiving!  That’s nearly eight weeks of classroom parties with students, parents, and teachers, and nearly eight weeks of family parties with aunts, uncles, and cousins! Eight weeks of celebrations. Eight weeks of holiday foods that you won’t see again until next year! By the time my birthday comes along, I am feeling quite full – and a bit rounder.

But this year, this birthday, this one was different.  It started out like all the others with my mother asking me what kind of cake I want.  I requested a sausage quiche instead of cake. I told my coworkers no party, no cupcakes, no special lunch.  It’s just another day. 

On the morning of my birthday, I arrived at work to find a doorway draped with streamers. Inside my classroom more streamers, birthday banner, birthday hat, balloons, and a card full of glitter!  I think this was the first time I ever received balloons for my birthday.  I actually cried – twice! I was surprised at the joy and love I felt from such a simple gift. At lunch, I was greeted with cupcakes and a display board filled with facts: a history of what was happening in the year 1976, the year I was born.  My students sang to me, friends reached out with happy birthday messages.  My siblings flooded Facebook with pictures and birthday wishes.  At home, the requested quiche was waiting for me, along with a surprise mac-n-cheese and homemade light rolls! 

Along with learning the cost of stamps and a dozen eggs, I learned that indeed, my birthday is just another day, but it’s not about me.  It’s about all the people I love.  It’s another day filled with opportunities to tell someone you appreciate them, reach out to friends and family, and share a little joy.

A New Year, A New Goal

The new year is full of reflection, promises, hope, and resolutions! You know the ones that are easy to predict – wake up early, get healthy, save money, and more! I read somewhere to just pick one word and let that be your goal for the new year.  Feeling optimistic, I chose two words – one for my professional life and one for my personal life. I chose money and skinny!  Later that day, a phrase came to mind for another goal:

Thoughts without judgement.  

I am generally a likeable person.  I think if you asked my coworkers to describe me, they would say I am nice.  If you asked my family, they would say I am nice.  If you ask my ex-husband’s wife, even she would say I am nice.  I’ve never bragged about being the smartest or the prettiest or the wealthiest, but I do brag about being one of the nicest.  I quantify “nice” by my actions.  I’m agreeable, kind, and easy going. I try to be generous with my time. If you need me to take on a project at work, I’ll do it.  If a friend needs help with moving, I’m there with boxes.  You need a ride to the airport? I’ll drive. 

Which brings me to the phrase: thoughts without judgement.  You see, being nice is easy, but sometimes my thoughts are not so nice.  Sometimes in my thoughts, I am quick to complain, judge, criticize, mock.  There may even be some inward eye rolling followed by silent insults.

Thoughts without judgement.

So, does keeping those judgmental thoughts to myself make me a nice person?  Does keeping rude comments to myself make me a nice person?  Does having s little self-control and not speaking out make me a nice person?  Absolutely not.  It makes me a hypocrite. 

At work, I shared my new year’s resolution with my friend.  I can’t even remember how the topic came up, but it did.  Of course her reply was, “Talley, you are a nice person.”   We talked a bit more and then both went back to work.  Later that day, she came into my room to vent – as we often do with one another.  You know the venting I’m referring to.  When you have to talk about someone who just said something annoying, disagreed with you, or heaven forbid – asked you to do something!  Anyways – she came into my room to share the “thoughts” that were running through her head, and then she stopped herself.  Suddenly remembering my new agenda, she decided to keep her negative thoughts to herself.  It was like not offering someone a dozen donuts when you know they are on a diet!

A similar exchange happened with my mother.  I told her about my thoughts without judgement plan, and she caught herself before criticizing someone. 

It’s been almost a week, and I can already see a difference! I’ve been keeping a mental score of how many times a judgmental thought pops into my head.  It was disappointing as first, realizing how hurtful I can be. This much needed self-reflection is slightly heartbreaking.  Thankfully, I’ve been able to catch myself mid-thought.  I can recognize and stop what is happening.  I am quickly shifting away from those negative thoughts altogether.

Thoughts without judgement

So, it’s the beginning of a new year.  Yes!  I want to make more money.  Yes! I want to be skinny.  But even more than that, I want to actually be what I claim to be. I want to be a better person, I want to be a nice person.  The next time someone describes me as such, I want it to be true.