Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Daughter



I took this picture during our summer camping trip on the Eastern Shore. I fell in love with this tree and marveled at how many different backdrops there were each day, particularly at sunset. Each one was different, unique and beautiful. The same can be said for both my children.

Today is Chesapeake Bay Daughter's 10th birthday. She has to spend the day in school and then watch her brother's soccer game, so we won't have much time for celebrating. We will do the serious celebrating this weekend when we go to the state fair (weather permitting, and boy do I hope it permits because the pictures I'll come home with from that place will blow your mind. For example, someone from Annandale, VA, just won the pumpkin contest with her entry of a more-than 1,000 lb pumpkin. For example. )

The night CB Daughter was born, I had just come home from a terribly stressful day at work - stressful to the point I had burst into tears earlier in the day (we were living in Northern Virginia at the time and everything up there was stressful, but particularly the jobs I held). I went straight from work to home to the hospital. I've always felt the events at work that day triggered her entry into the world.

Be that as it may, she arrived without much ado, beautiful beyond words, and was a wonderful baby who caused me very little stress.

She has been a joy and a delight to this day. She astonishes me with her talent (academic as well as athletic), her compassion and her ability to love, love, love. She is truly a treasure.

Happy Birthday, Chesapeake Bay Daughter. I love you.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Outbuildings




These are two outbuildings or sheds down Onemo way. I have a fascination with old structures, and these caught my eye because they are so oddly shaped. The first one gives the illusion that it's leaning a tad; the second one just looks like a patchwork quilt of building materials. Speaking of slightly awry and mismatched pieces, it's time for another post about my family..

With Election Day just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to relay this excerpt from an e-mail my mother sent me when I lived in Northern Virginia. My parents were babysitting my then-toddler Chesapeake Bay Son (I have no idea where I was) and all three of them went to the polls to cast their votes. (Well, the adults cast their votes; Chesapeake Bay Son just watched.)

While waiting in line, a photographer with the local paper took their picture.
---------------------------
Here is what my mother had to say about that once she saw the picture in print:

" Disappointment. Oh, it's of us alright, front and center in the local section, but only the top of Chesapeake Bay Son's head is showing. Of course CB Father and I are looking down at the registrars, exhibiting our frog throats and jowls (which are not that noticeable when looking up as the registrars were doing). Asi es la vida. I thought it ironical that the one time we hadn't a clue whom to vote for that we are featured as responsible voters. Ha ha hardy ha.

CB Father's frog throat was monumental in its proximity to the lens; and even so, people will remark how young and good looking he is - count on it. While I will get only bare notice, thank goodness. And they just said "voters" rather than deal with our names. "
- Chesapeake Bay Mother
------------------------------

I, Chesapeake Bay Woman, stand corrected. This really has very little to do with an election and more to do with jowls and frog throats. Given that, here's a similar excerpt from another e-mail she wrote back in 1997:

" ....My hair is so attractive. It's orange and stringy. What to do I don't know. I'd cut it all off if I didn't look like Icabod Crane of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Us long-necked, small-headed persons with a hump in their neck are limited in hairstyles."
-Chesapeake Bay Mother
---------------------------

There are several lessons to be learned from my mother's e-mails:

1. Please register to vote. Then be sure to show up to vote on Election Day.

2. When the paper is taking your picture at the polls, be sure to glance upwards rather than down, especially if you're related to the Chesapeake Bay Family. This will minimize the Frog Throat Effect.

3. If you resemble Icabod Crane, you're related to the Chesapeake Bay Family.

4. If you're in the Chesapeake Bay Family, you resemble Icabod Crane.

Signed,
-cbw (aka ChesapIcabod Crane Woman)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunrise on the Creek



I woke up to this gift the other morning, and it was even more beautiful than what my camera can attempt to convey in this picture.

May you have a Sunday as beautiful as this sunrise.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Abandoned




This is an old house on Knights Wood Road which is approximately Somewhere in Mathews. I don't know exactly what the area is technically called (Diggs?), but it's between Haven Beach and Another Place, where Another Place = I have no idea because I don't get down that way often, and it's one back road leading to yet another back road, with lots of short cuts and cut-throughs and dead ends and please just take my word for it - it's near Haven Beach. The End.

Mathews has so many old, abandoned homes and structures, and I find beauty in every last one of them. This particular house, however, will be forever associated with a tragedy, in fact a murder.

Mathews has almost no crime to speak of in comparison to even neighboring counties, and certainly in comparison to more urban areas. We leave our car keys in the ignition, we rarely lock our car doors, and many folks never lock their homes even when they are gone all day long. Some people even put signs in their yard saying, "Please, please take this junk. I'll pay you if you'll steal it." When I was little I tried to pull my sisters in a wagon to the end of the lane and put such a sign on them, but my plan was aborted. Adults were involved.

Sure, we have the occasional theft of a lawn mower, or a breaking and entering into the pharmacy to take all the percocets. Some of us have even been known to trespass on occasion, where us may or may not include me.

But a murder?

Without going into the details, I will simply say that Someone from Out of Town came here one fateful night with Another Person from Out of Town and sadly only one of those people left. The other young person's body was left here in a shallow grave near this old house. Mathews made national news, although it was not at all the sort of attention we were seeking.

Both a body and a house were abandoned together for a brief period of time.

Now, just the house survives, and it's barely hanging on, but it's still beautiful.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Boat House



Above is a picture of the boathouse Thursday morning. Mr. Nor'easter has finally made himself comfy and is sticking around for a spell. He's a messy guest, I can tell you that. Very demanding. Notice the level of the tide in this shot and compare it to the one below.



Yeah, we're underwater.

But with the help of good people, we're faring just fine. The house is as dry as a bone.

The yard on the other hand is so deep the QE2 will be mooring here on her next trans-Atlantic voyage.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Winds of Change



I'm tossing this picture up (taken on our camping adventure this summer on the Eastern Shore) because I am in denial about the wind whipping outside and the dire prediction of rain (accompanied by flooding) for days on end at a time. They're calling for rain so severe there is already a 2-hour delay for school tomorrow. And thus far nary a drop of rain has fallen.

I decided a long time ago that I would never listen to--or rather count on--a weather forecast again, because nine times out of ten if we just played Spin the Bottle we'd end up on a forecast as reliable as anything the weathermen (or weatherwomen) predicted.

The other night, however, my mother mentioned that Daddy was getting gas for generators because a massive Nor'Easter was blowin' in. This caught my attention.

You see, when local knowledge is combined with modern technology, there's usually a darn good chance that whatever they say is comin', is a' comin'. When the locals start getting nervous, then I start paying attention. (By the way, I'm a local. However, I have not yet learned how to forecast a Nor'Easter using clues from anything other than radio or television.)

Today, a day with no rain, the wind has been so fierce it would knock you over. The tide is so daggone high I will soon be able to do a swan dive out of my back door into 5 feet of water. And I'll have white caps in the back yard. Rain is supposed to start tomorrow.

If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because we've lost current or else I'm drifting over to Cape Charles because we've been deluged by the rain and high tides, which have swept us out to sea.

And if you hear someone screaming, it is Chesapeake Bay Woman suffering from withdrawals from her morning coffee and internet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sports






This is the football field around which I've run at least forty gazillion laps since the early 1980's. When I was in high school, my mother organized the fundraising effort to put down a track surrounding the field.

For all the grief I give her, she really was very inspirational as it related to our participation in sports. She played softball into her 40's and encouraged us to play; she made me join a bowling league with her (my highest score was 198, yes it was); and when she was young, she was one of the first females to letter in varsity basketball at Gloucester High School. This was in the days when women only played half-court.

Have I mentioned here lately how old I feel when I say stuff like that, things like, "My mother played basketball when it was only a half-court sport," or "My great-aunt took a horse and buggy to get to town," or "I must have my 13-year-old show me how to do anything that has a wire attached to it," or "You won't believe where I found a hair growing today?"


Last night I attended a Mathews High School j.v. football game, and today I watched two Ware Academy soccer games. Can I tell you that in spite of being a 43-year-old female, I wanted to jump right out onto both playing fields and tear things up? I wanted to race up and down the soccer field, kick the doggone ball until the stuffing came loose, tackle someone on the football field and later score the winning touchdown.

Yes, I even want to play football when I'm watching it from the sidelines. Would you believe that I have actually played a game of football on the MHS field before, under the lights, in front of an audience, and it did not happen when I was ten toes up asleep and dreaming? Would you believe I scored a touchdown, only it didn't count and I was so pissed off I couldn't see straight and steam was coming out of my ears? Would you believe that I was so angry that my touchdown didn't count I cannot even remember WHY it didn't count? It had nothing to do with me, but something to do with someone else. I'm sure of it.

By the way, even though sometimes I have been known to embellish or tweak the facts of a story for effect (or because I can't remember the facts), the truth is I really did play football on this field, one game: the Powder Puff game. Girls played football, and boys played cheerleaders. My heavens there were some ugly looking cheerleaders that night. And there was at least one female who was robbed of a touchdown, but she's not bitter or resentful or anything, even over 25 years later..

My point is....I'm not sure. Actually, I belive there are several.

I thank my mother for influencing me to love participating and competing in sports. The best memories of my life have been around high school (and county league) sports -not watching but participating.

I can't watch a sporting event without wanting to run out and start playing, regardless of the sport.

I was a darn fine football player, and I did score a touchdown. Whether it counted or not is absolutely, positively, 100% immaterial.

I was made to play sports, not watch them. Just ask my children, they can tell you. I embarrass them on a weekly basis as a spectator who feels that no age is too old to get out there and compete, or at least to scream with the enthusiasm of a Middle-Aged Wanna Be who wishes she could play and who will not get old without a fight.

The End.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Seven Things-Part Two



This is a little bend in the road down Onemo. Onemo is pronounced "oh NEE moe" even though some people say that the name came about because they needed "one mo' " or "one more" post office. I have no idea who "some people" are, and it is quite possible that these people exist nowhere except inside my head. Another strong possibility is that I dreamed this, or made it up. But I could swear I read it somewhere......If anyone out there with any knowledge --or quasi-functioning brain cells-- could please clarify this, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Below is Part Two of the 7-Thing questionnaire (aka meme) completed by my mother.

Here's CBW's Mother:
===========================================

Seven Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex
1. Sense of humor
2. Love of animals
3. Dedication to unselfish pursuits
4. Lack of self-absorption
5. Religious without religion
6. Empathy for women
7. Regard for all people of the world as relatives

Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. Coffee ready?
2. Husband, telephone, it's a Bubba.
3. Has anyone seen my glasses? ...my pocketbook?
4. I can't remember if I took my medication.
5. Husband, WAKE UP, you're on the:
a)...brink of falling over!
b)...interstate and driving!
c)...lawn mower wearing a straw hat!
(All of these are true.)
6. Before you go, check under the car for my kitties.
7. Who ate all the bread?

Seven Celebrity Admirations
1. Jane Goodall. She is all, St. Jane of Africa.
2. Margaret Mead, lady sociologist who gloried in Polynesian spontaneity.
3. Arnold Ziffle, the Green Acres precocious pig
4. Flipper, the swimming and smiling porpoise, whose great-grandpa coached Esther Williams.
5. Lassie: collie = love = dog genius.
6. Trigger, Blond, beautiful and carrying heart-throb Roy Rogers.
7. Every chimpanzee to wear clothes, and there were many.

Seven Favorite Foods
1. Oysters, stewed or fried
2. Steamed crabs
3. Mashed potatoes and gravy
4. Fish, fried or boiled
5. Virginia Spoon Bread (made with cornmeal)
6. All vegetables
7. All fruit
I just gained 10 pounds writing that list!

- Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother
==========================
Chesapeake Bay Woman's Notes and Additions
I don't have much to add, except I think it is noteworthy that there are only two humans listed in the celebrity category, and no men (unless you count Roy Rogers, although she was really talking about Trigger, the horse); all the rest are animals. This speaks volumes, particularly if you know my mother, which most of you don't. Just trust me, it does.

Also? I can't name one clothes-wearing chimpanzee. I feel inadequate, but strangely this does not bother me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Seven Things-Part One



This is an old store down Onemo. It was begging me to come closer and take a look inside, but I resisted the temptation. With my luck, someone would either shoot me or call the law, or a herd of fiddler crabs would come charging out.

My mother's mother ran a country store at what used to be Gloucester Day School, now Ware Academy. They also ran a store down at Flat Iron, next to where the blacksmith shop was.

Speaking of my mother, (see how I can use my ADD-like tendencies to segue way like that?) she has made yet another contribution to this blog
.

A million years ago, tj from humbleorigins, tagged my mother (aka mumma) for that 7-thingie questionnaire that was floating around the internet. I’m presenting her answers in two parts because, believe it or not, I am aware that these posts tend to get way too lengthy and you all come here instead of taking Ambien to get some much-needed sleep.

Here’s Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Mother:
============================================
Seven Things I Plan to Do Before I Die
1. Get this house straight.
2. Earn six figures a year at home in my spare time. (Note: Buy a gypsy outfit, a crystal ball, a deck of taro cards and a large neon sign saying, “FORTUNES SOLD HERE. ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, IN MANY POSITIONS.) *
3. Deteriorate physically.
4. Deteriorate mentally.
5. Lose my teeth.
6. Hire a beautiful Swede named Lars to mow my grass and give me back rubs and anything else he might want. **
7. Have one last vacation with my girls and Husband. Antarctica sounds cool.

Seven Things I Can Do
1. Whistle by blowing into a blade of grass held between my thumbs.
2. Flex my arms until they look broken (double-jointed). ***
3. Touch poison oak without getting a rash.
4. Twirl a baton and tap dance simultaneously. OK, that was a long time ago.
5. Pick up a live crab with my bare hands. Sometimes.
6. Outrun Husband. I only let him catch me when I want to.
7. Pull a jelly jar off a skunk’s head without getting sprayed. I got witnesses.****

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1. Communicate with the dead.
2. Communicate with the living.
3. Read for literary value without truly being interested. Shoot me.
4. Picture multi-dimensional solid figures. Brain strain.
5. Configure a black hole. If you fall “in” a black hole, where is the “in?” Probably glued to the side of a multi-dimensional solid figure.
6. See the future by training my attention to the subatomic level and riding a bison over the Einstein-Rosen Bridge to Always and Ever.*****
7. Use witchcraft. It would be handy for housekeeping.

-Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother
===========================================
Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Notes and Clarifications:

• *(shudder)I don't know what to say. So I'll say nothing.

• ** (shudder) But please send him over when he’s done with your yard, etc.

• ***I inherited this lovely trait. It’s always good to use at cocktail parties to break the ice, you know, contort yourself like some freak of nature.

• ****It’s funny, but if I were to have told the story about the skunk getting his head stuck in the jelly jar, I would have said she did get sprayed. I must be confusing stories, because she has definitely been sprayed trying to save a skunk from some perceived disaster. Head caught in jelly jar definitely counts as a legitimate disaster, I will say.

. ***** HUH?

That’s all for today, folks. More exciting answers tomorrow.

Thanks, t.j. for tagging CBM.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

School Project



Here's yet another Bethel Beach picture. By now I'm sure y'all are sayin', "Gracious sakes alive. When in the world is she gonna put up a picture that doesn't look identical to the one she tossed up here yesterday or some other day this week?"

Answer: I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine, perhaps even better.


I happened to open up my Middle Sister's diary at random today, and it fell to January 12, 1976:

--------------------------
"Dear Diary,
Today I got an A on my project. It was on South America. Mumma did most of it. Today we went to school. I saw that the creek was frozen. I wanted to skate on it so much, but we had to go to school."-Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister
--------------------------
Then I flipped to the next day, which said this:

"Dear Diary,
Today I went to school and got a B- on the project of Argentina. I did this one all by myself. Mumma got sick yesterday. She's got the flue [sic]. She's feeling a little better. Today was good."-Chesapeake Bay Middle Sister
---------------------------
Hmmmm. There are so many things I could say, at least fifty different things. For now, I'll just say two:

1. Middle Sister got an A on a project her mother did and a B- on a project she did herself.

2. Middle Sister did that second project herself because her mother was sick with the FLUE [sic].

3. "Today was good," she says on the day her mother is sick and she gets a B- on a project.

OK. That was three things, not two. I was never good with numbers.

I haven't heard from Middle Sister in a while. Maybe she can provide some insightful background into these South American projects, for example how much fun she had skating on the iced-over creek while our mother did her homework for her.

For example.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weekend



This is another picture taken at Bethel Beach. Right now I'd like to be face down in that sand taking a nice, long nap. I'm worn right out.

I've been running around non-stop since about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Since then I have picked kids up from the bus, picked kids up from soccer practice, delivered one child to a bowling party, fixed dinner for son and friend, cried my eyes out when blogger.com had technical difficulties and wouldn't let me post, had dinner with friends of mine from high school, laughed until I thought I would die, slept a few brief hours, fixed breakfast, watched a soccer game (Daughter scored a goal), delivered Son and Friend to a paintball party in Gloucester Point (30-minute drive one way), picked up ten tons of cat food at Wal-Mutant (which on a Saturday is a nightmare), and washed a load of laundry.

I'm downright exhausted and except for fixing supper tonight, I am officially on strike for the rest of the day.

I hope the rest of your weekend is unhurried and restful.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Escape from Mathews: Part Two



Driving back from Bethel Beach the other day, I took a back road I'd never been down before, because I was feeling brave and wanted to outwit the horseflies dive bombing my car. I slammed on brakes and gasped when I saw this beauty hiding in the woods. The picture does not do it justice. I would pay good money (where good money equals whatever spare change happened to be gunked up with coffee in my cup holder) to go inside this house. I really wanted to go in this house.

Below is the second installment of the college essay I wrote about Mathews and what I thought of it as a teenager. My opinion has drastically changed, although some of the nuances of our habits described here are unchanged.
===========================================
Escape from Mathews
Part Two

"I remember when I was in high school, all my friends and I ever wanted to do was ride up and down the road all day long. A car is a must in Mathews because it's the only way you can see anybody. Every weekend the teenagers pile into their cars, buy a few six-packs, and ride up and down the Main Strip, which is the stretch between the Tastee Freeze and the one and only grocery store, A&P.

Everybody knows everybody else by the cars they drive. I could be driving down the road and a friend's blue Pinto would be approaching. We'd blink our headlights on and off, which meant, "Meet me at the Tastee-Freeze." There we'd line up our cars just so, roll down our windows and catch up on the latest gossip.

The four main topics of conversation had to do with who was pregnant, who was getting married, who was getting divorced and who had died. (Occasionally we'd talk about who'd been in a fight recently, but we could always read about that in the Public Record of the county newspaper.)

This was our idea of an exciting Friday night."


-Chesapeake Bay College Brat
----------------------------------------------
This Friday night ritual was then--and is still now--referred to as "going up the road," although I am reasonably sure more was discussed than gossip (she says in horror, because now she is so averse to gossip). Another signal we had--and the old timers still use--is tapping your break lights when you pass a car you recognized.(I could write a novel on this subject of communicating via car in those days before cell phones. We were nothing if not creative.)

Have I mentioned what an odd bunch we were?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Escape from Mathews: Part One


When I was 19 or 20, I might have looked at this picture and said, "So what?" Now I look at it and want to smell that marsh; I marvel at the beauty of that dead tree; and I want to run to that barn, press my cheeks against it and tell it how much I love it. Yeah, I'm a little bit weird, but my point is my opinion of things, especially Mathews, has changed so much over the years.

Recently I discovered a gold mine of information next door at my parents’ house: a bunch of old college and high school essays and my scrap book from senior year in high school. It appears that I’ve been writing about Mathews my entire life and just never realized it. It also appears that my opinions of Mathews have fluctuated drastically depending on how old I was when I was doing the writing.

Below is the first segment (in excerpts because some of the writing is even worse than my normal stuff) of an essay I wrote my second year of college. I am embarrassed at some—OK, most—of it, because I no longer feel this way. In fact it is as if some Other Person wrote it.

-----------------------------------------
Escape from Mathews County
Part One
With Apologies in Advance to Anyone Living Here Because I Was a College Brat. I Blame Hormones. Just Like I Do Now.


“Mathews County is a boring name for a boring place. I realize this now, but there was a time when I thought Mathews and its inhabitants were great. I thought I could live there for the rest of my life and be happy. Not until I went away to college did I discover how very wrong I was. “

“...Very few people move into the county from other places. Why should they? There’s nothing to do there, and unfortunately very few of the natives move out because they’re so isolated from the rest of the world they fail to see there is a different way of life. They are opposed to change and progress; they are very naive.”

-Chesapeake Bay College Brat
--------------------------

If I were writing this today, the title would be “Escape TO Mathews County,” and I’d talk about how much I love living here precisely because it is a boring—but beautiful—place with a slow pace of life, small town ideals, and the nicest people on the planet. We do have more people moving here from other places, so there is more of a diversity of backgrounds. There might not be much of the typical things to do here like shop at Target or eat at the Cheesecake Factory, but there is plenty to do if you’re creative and you appreciate the beauty of nature. People are still opposed to change and progress, but that's not a bad thing. They are anything but na├»ve.

There’s plenty more to this essay that I’ll share in bits and pieces.

Just to be clear, in spite of what I wrote when I was in college, I’m hopelessly in love with Mathews and its people. I will never leave again.

Except to go to the Cheesecake Factory and Target.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tractors



This tractor and shed were an unexpected surprise on my journey down Bethel Beach this Sunday. I absolutely love old tractors, old cars, old barns, old outbuildings, old houses and anything old that does not include skin, brain cells, unwanted hair and ligaments. My grandfather had a tractor like this. During daffodil season I used it to pull a wagon loaded with the dancing yellow flowers. I loved driving that thing. The smell of the flowers and the smell of the tractor were simply delicious.



These old ice coolers are located on the side of the Island Market (formerly Scrooch's Market) on Gwynn's Island. It was so muggy here this weekend I could have climbed right into one of these and taken a nap. Instead, I had to cut grass on a tractor all day long.

Speaking of tractors, and as far as I can tell we have been all along, below is something my mother (aka Mumma) wrote about my father (aka Daddy) and his assorted tractors (aka quite the collection that rarely is used).

-----------------------------------
My Name Isn't Earl....
By Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother

"As I have mentioned before, my husband collects tractors: His first was a gray Ford, followed by several red Farmall's with notable tall exhausts, and now--the creme de la creme--a bright green, John Deere. The John Deere is relatively new, a find given up by a "come here" (that's another day, another story)with large assets and unrelenting grass/brambles. It was a real steal, he assured me.

The John Deere came with every attachment I can't identify, including something that looks like a cement mixer. Perhaps now I can at least have my own patio, or even a Clampett-like "cement pond."

I asked Husband to find out which thingy was the plow and to plow up some of our acreage for a nice garden. Well, then it happened. His lower lip began to morph into the style of his father's, and slowly it dragged his upper lip into the perfect pout.

This happened once before, when the lady at Burger King informed him they no longer had "triple bacon cheeseburgers." She then did something that won my heart forever: She told him to "fix that lip." I am her biggest fan.

Anyway, he did plow up a garden, but it took pushing, and he did find a friend who showed him how to attach the plow, turn on the engine and USE it.

Nothing succeeds like nagging.

The garden, however, is another story, another day."

-CBW's Mother

------------------------------

CBW's Note: I don't really have a whole lot to add to this particular topic other than to say I wish Daddy'd bring that John Deere over here with the bush hog attachment and take care of the weeds that are taking over the shoreline around my house. Oh, and I could also use some bush hogging in the trees along the old pony pen. Last but not least, can you put the shovel attachment on and scrape up the pine needles out of my driveway? What? Is that a pout I see? The Burger King Lady says to please fix that lip.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bethel Beach



This beautiful place is Mathews County's Bethel Beach. I actually found Bethel yesterday after months of trying to figure out how in the world to get there.



Mathews might be a small place, but by golly it has a million miles of back roads that are laid out in no logical manner.Whatsoever. In fact, I drove home from Bethel a completely different way than I came in. I saw roads and places I'd never laid eyes on before.

By the way, the answer to how to get to Bethel Beach is as follows: I could never again recreate the journey I took to get there, but my best advice is just follow the swarming horseflies. That's horseflies, not houseflies, and indeed they are practically as big as horses. And houses for that matter.

Don't worry, though, they won't bite you because they're full as a tick after savagely attacking me today.

What is it with me and insects?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Redart



This is the road that leads to Redart (Trader backwards), which is the name of an area in Mathews on the way to Gwynn's Island. The field on the right is loaded with soybeans. Practically every field here now is full of corn or soybeans. They both are harvested when they turn a crispy, dry brown. The corn is just about at that stage, but the beans have a ways to go yet.

I'm going to be brief today because I'm queuing up some things my mother has produced. For now I want to tell you about what I did yesterday, which was completely out of the ordinary for me, and--come to think of it--probably out of the ordinary for most people I know.

I attended a picnic at former governor and current candidate for Senate Mark Warner's house in King George, VA. Yep, I sure did. I shook his hand and sweated all over his yard. It was hotter than blue blazes yesterday. He lives in a magnificent house on a scrillion acres on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River. It was beautiful, and I didn't fall down once even though there were tree roots sticking up everywhere and I just knew I was going to go down face first in front of someone important. I didn't.

However, because I was outside in the sweltering hot, 150% humidity, and was sweatin' like a pig on a spit, my hair frizzed all up. I don't mean just a little bit, I mean in a disastrous way. There were no mirrors anywhere to be seen so of course I didn't know it was all frizzed up until the ride home in the car.

So I shook Mark Warner's hand looking like a poodle dog who hasn't been to the groomer in ten years. Typical Chesapeake Bay Woman luck.

Earlier I heard speeches from current Governor Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe. I am pleased to report that this was in an air-conditioned environment.

Therefore Chesapeake Bay Poodle Dog was not concerned about her hair. She was, however, still concerned about falling down in front of someone important.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset



This boathouse is on our creek. I took this right after Tropical Storm Hanna left town, right as the sun was starting to set. I hope these folks don't mind having their property displayed all over the internet.



This is Smithers Cemetery at sunset. Even though my camera says the picture was taken at 6:30 a.m., it was actually p.m. That's because I don't know how to change the time on my camera. Or do anything with it other than push one button to take a picture. There are approximately 47 other buttons on it that are never used. While we're on the topic, where topic equals Chesapeake Bay Woman's Fear of Gadgets, Widgets, Fruit Fly Infestations and Technology, the time on my computer is off by exactly one hour. I have no idea what happened or how to fix it.

What I love about living on this creek is we see the most spectacular sunrises since we face east, but the sunsets directly behind us produce equally magnificent views, and the lighting is incredible.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Expressions



This is a glimpse of an old house on Gwynn's Island. Below is a glimpse into some of the words and sayings I've grown accustomed to here in Mathews. Both are a dying breed.

Not until I left Mathews and went to college did I realize how unusual some of our expressions are. I had no idea, for example, that saying someone or somebody was as ugly as a mud fence could cause confusion. My roommate looked stunned the first time I said it. Then she wanted to know what a mud fence was, and just how ugly was it? I confess I have no idea, and I never stopped to think about it before she asked.

My mother's mother, if she were alive, would have been 100 years old this past Monday. She had the most wonderful accent, but she also had a very unusual way of saying certain words. For example:

"Push" was pronounced poosh.
"Bush" was pronounced boosh.
As in, "Don't you dare poosh your sister into that boosh."


I have to assume there were some Scottish or Irish folks that influenced that pronunciation, but it's quickly fading. I only rarely hear it any more.

Some other odd pronunciations coming from my mother and grandmother include:

Dunkey (donkey)
Predney (presently)
Hawse (horse)
Example: Predney that dunkey and hawse will need feedin'
.

Folks from Mathews contribute to this colorful kaleidoscope of sayings and pronunciations. I have a friend who always said "mersure" instead of "measure." She'd say "warsh" instead of "wash." Other people I know would say "poncil" (almost with a French accent) instead of "pencil." Many people to this day pronounce "house" or "mouse" as with a long "o" sound. Like "hoe" with a light "s" on the end.

Some of the expressions I grew up with are:

I'm as serious as a heart attack. (Pretty darn serious.)
Your bedroom looks like Hooraw's nest. (It's a disaster. Who or what is Hooraw? A bird?)
Your hair looks like the cat's been suckin' on it all night long. (You need a rake to comb that hair.)
Those vegetables are no count. (They're no good.)
You can't swing a dead cat without hitting fruit flies in this kitchen. (You have a fruit fly infestation.)
That cookie is harder than a brick bat. (You couldn't get your teeth through it.)

This is but a small sampling. I'm sure not all of these are unique to this area, but I suspect some of them are.

I'd love to compile more of these sayings and quirky pronunciations from the local area, and if I had the time I'd go out and interview people. I'm feeling a little too lazy to do that at the moment. For anyone reading this who has not yet fallen asleep, I would love to hear about any local sayings or odd pronunciations in your neck of the woods.

Right now, though, I must go deal with that no-count fruit fly infestation before I blow a gasket. There's more of them in my kitchen than you can shake a fist at.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Responsibility



This was shot recently from Gwynn's Island. That red ball reminds me of a hoppity hop I had when I was a kid. Was it hoppity hop or hippity hop? It was a rubber ball akin to today's exercise balls, only there was a handle you grasped while you bounced yourself silly. For me, that didn't take long since I was already halfway silly to begin with.
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As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, (and if I were capable of linking to these references, I would) I seem to have been put in a position of enormous responsibility at a very young age.

Let's take a gander at some of what I was expected to do, shall we?

- Feed, water, groom, hoof-pick, horse-fly spray and ride a pony that was the most stubborn animal this side of a mule.

- Feed, water, groom, hoof-pick, horse-fly spray, babysit, teach and entertain two younger sisters, almost as stubborn as aforementioned pony and/or mule.

- By the way, I was only about 10 years old when given all this responsibility.

- Tend to 2 younger siblings while fretting that parents were capsized on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay when said parents left me in charge of said siblings for an entire day, well into the evening, when a storm was a-brewin'.

About that last one.

My father bought into the CB radio fad back in the 1970's. His handle was Drumsticks, which was cool because he played in a band. Our call-numbers (I'm totally making this term up, I have no idea what the terminology is, but it is whatever letter/number combination we used to identify ourselves on the CB) was KG-0-23-45. He had a CB in the boat, a CB in his van, and a CB for the home. We were not lacking for communication devices.

One day, when I was probably 4, I was put in charge of my younger sisters while my parents went fishing. OK, I wasn't 4, but I was way too young for tending to small children by myself while the parents were on a boat trip otherwise known as "Why catch fish off your own dock when you can make yourself green in the gills by driving across 15 miles of the choppiest, windiest, most sea-sickness-inducing water known to man? And leave your oldest daughter in charge of everything and everyone?"

The parents were gone a long time, a little too long, and it was coming close to supper time. In addition to the grumblings going on in Chesapeake Bay Girl's stomach, there was a grumbling going on in the sky. A storm was fast approaching, and there were no parents anywhere in sight.

Chesapeake Bay Girl, being the responsible 4-year-old, OK 10-year-old, decided to take matters into her own hands. She turned on the CB radio that was in the den. She waited for a pause in whatever mumbling, rambling, nonsensical garbage was coming across the airwaves. And oh, those men could talk some trash.

At just the right opportunity, she very bravely pushed the button on the mike (Is that what it was called? I have no idea) and said, "This is KG02341, Base to Boat/Whatever (I can't remember what we called the boat), come in, do you read me?" Silence. Then I repeated, "KG02341, it's looking stormy and we want to know your 10-20." Silence. "This is KG02341, Base to Boat (or whatever). Do you copy me?"

This time I got an answer. It was some drunken idiot probably two doors down. As if I wouldn't recognize my own parents' voice he said, "Yeah, darlin', I read ya loud and clear. We're fine as can be."

Let's recap the whole situation, shall we?

1. Chesapeake Bay Girl is babysitting her two younger sisters while trying to locate her parents who could be lost at sea as the Storm of the Century brews overhead.

2. Chesapeake Bay Girl, who normally can't say two words to anyone outside of her family because she lived such a sheltered life and was painfully, excruciatingly shy, had to pick up a microphone (or whatever the darn thing was called) and broadcast over the airwaves known as Drunken Bubba's Network, that she was concerned about her parents.

3. Chesapeake Bay Girl wonders if there isn't some nice family in Guatemala that would like to adopt her.

The parents eventually pulled into the creek, safe and sound, absolutely unconcerned about the whole storm thing and that whole Leave Daughter in Charge of It All without communicating to her thing.

Thirty-plus years later, I'm still wondering about that nice family in Guatemala.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grimstead


Above is a picture of the Island Market, formerly Scrooch's Market, on Gwynn's Island. On the left is the Grimstead Post Office. There are two post offices on this tiny island and that strikes me as odd. They aren't located more than a mile or two apart. Speaking of odd, does anyone find the name Scrooch odd?


Today I drove the Gwynn's Island Meals on Wheels route. I covered three areas, the Glebe, Redart (that's Trader backwards, by the way), and the island. There were also three trends I noticed among the people I visited: death, dementia and loneliness.

Delivering food to these folks is so much more than just bringing them something to eat. They look forward to having someone, even if it is a frazzled, tired, forgetful, scatter-brained 43-year-old, check in on them, talk to them, and help them out with anything that needs doing.

Back to the three trends.

Death. It's no secret that these folks are waiting to die, as blunt as that may sound. They are unable to leave their homes without assistance, and most are in varying degrees of physical--and in some cases mental--decline.

The first lady I visited down the Glebe will not be alive the next time I run this route. I'm no doctor, but anybody could see that her frail body just will not last much longer. She lies all alone in her bed with the TV on in the adjacent room.It broke my heart to see how much she has deteriorated since the last time I saw her, but on the other hand she will be able to leave this life peacefully, in her own home, rather than in some sterile nursing home or hospital. She is aware of her surroundings, and they are familiar to her. Her last moments will be in a comfortable environment.

Dementia. Another lady suffers from many physical ailments but is also losing her mental faculties, asking the same questions over and over again, and saying things that are incoherent. Her home health care worker met me at the door but not until after I heard a good dose of the patient's ranting and raving. The poor person helping her looked frazzled. I understood completely. I identify with frazzled. I also identify with demented. It so happens I am fluent in incoherent.

Loneliness. The last lady I visited met me at the door as if I were an overdue dinner guest or a long-awaited family member. After a brief introduction, where it was determined that she didn't know my family but did know my best friend (in Mathews, when you meet someone, you must talk until you have identified a person you both know, then you can move on to the next topic), I set the food on her table and started to make idle chit-chat since it was my last stop, and she seemed to want to talk.

About 3 minutes into our exchange, imagine my surprise when she proceeded to lift up her dress. Not exactly sure what she was going to do next, I stood there, wide-eyed, glancing nervously from the ceramic chickens on her kitchen shelf to the wooden fork and spoon on her wall. There was really nothing I could have done to prepare myself for what she was about to show me. No, she did not pull her plastic britches down. Instead, she showed me what she called her hernia, which looked like this:

Jeeminy Christmas, I've never in my entire life seen anything like what was coming out of this woman's mid-section! It looked like she was pregnant with an alien life form, and she was approximately 3 months overdue.

After this, of course we were best friends. She had broken the ice by pulling up her dress and showing me every possible thing she had--and then some. We had a very nice conversation and she showed me around her impeccably clean house. It wasn't until the end of our visit that she mentioned her age: 94. She lives by herself, is fully functioning--alien pregnancy and hernia notwithstanding--and is as sharp as a tack. She said her son wanted her to move to Florida, but she didn't want to die in some strange place in some strange state.

She wants to die right here in Mathews, where she has lived her entire life.

And she will.

Forgetful




Here is another beautiful Mathews County sunset and another Chesapeake Bay Family story, this one written by my mother.
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From Chesapeake Bay Mother

"Speaking of extra dimensions (as I was, to myself), I can prove they actually exist.

There is the dimension I fell into on Church Street - floating in a realm whose time is 1/11 of real time. Head down, I was about to be crushed by a heavy vehicle loaded with senior citizens, feet against the sky and refusing to obey my will to have them against the pavement to help me struggle upright. My brain was flooded with the hormone for "fight or flight." I can truly say I was Somewhere Else than our four-dimensional universe. How this agrees with particle physics (which can't even agree with itself), I can't say, but the human mind is as much a part of the universe as black holes. In fact, some minds are black holes.

My husband is a marvel of economy when it comes to information management, while I am doomed to retain every inconsequential detail for eternity. (Example: the bit of prose from my 11th grade English book - "The Loose that Gaid the Olden Geg," Or Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, written with transposed first letters throughout. Trust me, I can no sooner dispose of this ditty than I can extract my own appendix.) Husband conversely discards all information not directly linked to his own basic human drives, including food, shelter and tractors, (and possibly one or two others that Chesapeake Bay Woman is editing out because it causes undue mental anguish) not necessarily in that order.

I can die assured that Husband will not grieve long. In fact, by funeral time, he may have to ask who passed.

We attribute Husband's evaporating recollections to an early heart surgery and its primitive methods. Before age 20 and before the bypass equipment used today, he was packed in ice (to slow down metabolism) and operated on within a small window of time to repair a big hole in his heart chambers. He always blamed the ice for his deficits; this could be.

At any rate we deal with his memory deletions by using my cluttered-closet lobes as extra storage space. This despite the fact that his head is twice as big as mine. It is strange, though, having to remind him the names of his college roommates, his mother's maiden name, that his grandfather played the trombone and worked for the railroad, or that he was described as "silly" on his report card by an elementary teacher.

That leaves plenty of room in Husband's lobes for the truly important data he so requires: how to find his way to the "Pink Feather," * as I have dubbed his garage/workplace/buddy club for its large posters of scantily-clad girls; how to use his cell phone, which is the Living Network of Bubbas (LNB); and how to scramble eggs, grill hamburgers and fry oysters.

We gladly store all information for a plate of those oysters. They are their own pleasure dimension and the real reason I stay married. "

-Chesapeake Bay Mother
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* Note from CBW: The Pink Feather, which is essentially a work shed located on Route 700 and therefore also referred to as the 700 Club, serves beverages on a regular basis, where regular can sometimes be defined as daily. Old Granddad gets together with Jim and Jack to shoot some Wild Turkey. I'm sure this has nothing to do with an ailing or failing memory.

Many world problems are discussed and solved there. If only they could recall their solutions, I'm sure the world would be a much better place.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Market Days



This is a view of the creek during the early part of the storm....
Below is a shot (same view, ever-so-slightly zoomed in) just after the storm.



Tropical Storm Hanna, while not the huge weather event we expected, was just bad enough to cancel one of my favorite things: Mathews Market Days.

Market Days is always held the first Friday and Saturday after Labor Day. It’s two fun-filled days of funnel cakes, french fries, kettle corn, crab cakes, iced tea, barbecue, funnel cakes, kettle corn, french fries and-–oops, I got hung up there for a minute. The food is great, but there are also art exhibits and vendors selling everything from flags to pottery to wood carvings to french fries to kettle corn to funnel cakes.

The food is great, did I mention that?

There are three things I love about Market Days, and this time I am not going to mention the french fries, funnel cakes and kettle corn. Seriously, I’m not.

No, the three things I love about Market Days are the rides, the Saturday night street dance, and the opportunity to see old friends.

My children love the rides, even though quite honestly they are not the most sophisticated—or fun--rides in the world….There’s usually a scrambler, a swirling strawberry (and why in the world any human being would pay money to get dizzy in a swirling strawberry is beyond me), a slide, a moon bounce and some swings. They’re those rides operated by folks who look like they’ve just been released –or escaped from—jail. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, escaping from jail is bad, but I have nothing against newly-released prisoners, it just seems odd to me that these rides tend to attract convicted felons who evidently haven’t seen a dentist in a decade or more. Not that I am one to talk about being a frequent visitor to the dentist. And to be clear, I have nothing against convicted felons. I do, however, have an issue or two with dentists. Big issues. But of course this has absolutely nothing to do with what I was originally talking about.

The rides are great, but the most fun to me is the Saturday night street dance, or as my little sister calls it, the barn dance, even though it is not held in a barn, and there is no barn anywhere in a 2-mile radius. There are characters there who look like they should be in a barn, but this is not a barn dance. They block off the street and people mill around or sit and listen to music. This is where I usually see people I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays, which in case you didn’t know is a long time, and so much longer than a month of Mondays or Thursdays, for example.

This year, the storm cancelled all of Saturday’s festivities and sufficiently deterred vendors and attendees on Friday, even though the weather was cooperating. I went for a bit Friday morning, but it just didn’t feel the same. Little Sister drove here all the way from Richmond for the so-called barn dance that never happened.

Oh, and the worst part of all? Most of The Food People who normally line up and down the street didn’t show up because of the probability of rain.

So here I sit with no kettle corn, no french fries and no funnel cakes. No iced tea, no barbecue, no swirling strawberries, and no barn dance. I do still have a Baby Sister hanging around though. I think I'll go aggravate her.

There's always the Urbanna Oyster Festival in November. Guess I'll get my french fries and barn dance then.

Blue Skies



After yesterday's wind and rain, we have blue skies and sunshine today. It's as if a storm never came through.

I'll spend today loading some new pictures and thinking up new stories. Chesapeake Bay Mother has written gobs of material, but I try to spread that out so she doesn't monopolize the conversation. Not that this is a conversation. And not that she can't monopolize it if she wants to. Because I really do not have any control issues at all. It's not like I want to control how much information she shares here or when she can share it.

No. That's not it at all.

Anyway, this coming week I will share some things written by Chesapeake Bay Mother and I will share more of my hot air as it spews forth. Right now, I don't have a lot to spew because I'm still feeling lazy after spending an entire day inside watching the tropical storm.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I hope everyone in the storm's path fares as well as we did.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hanna



I took this picture on our camping "vacation" over on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay earlier this summer. What you see in the blue off in the distance is a storm that was moving up the western shore of the bay, but which never hit us. The Unpredicted Storm of the Century ended up hitting us later in the week. Stuff like that tends to happen to me on vacation, and, generally speaking, in all parts of my life. My life is one unpredicted storm after another.

Tropical Storm Hanna is supposed to make her mark starting this evening and extending into Saturday. They (whoever "they" is) say we can expect wind gusts from 40-50 mph, power outages and flooding. This really isn't any different from any other nor'easter that we get, except we have a little advance notice.

Of course because "they" are predicting it, that means it won't happen. Except now that Chesapeake Bay Woman has said it won't happen, that translates into The Bottom Will Drop Out of the Bucket That Is The Sky, and we won't have current, aka power, for two weeks. Which means I can't make coffee. Nor can the local convenience stores.

Chesapeake Bay Woman hereby declares a State of Emergency.

More details and photos to follow, as time and "current" permit.

-cbw

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Richardson's



This is a picture of Richardson's Drug Store (currently a restaurant), at the corner of Main and Church Streets in Mathews Court House. My mother fell down in the street just a little bit to the left of this picture. She was almost run over by a Bay Transit bus loaded with senior citizens. If you haven't read that story yet, click on Falling Down in the August archives.

Everyone from Mathews has a story about Richardson's Drug Store, and if they don't, there's something wrong or they've lived under a rock their entire life. (Never mind the fact that having something wrong with you and living a sheltered life actually describes many people--including yours truly--who live in Mathews. That detracts from the point I'm trying to make. And I'm not sure I really know what that ever was.)

Richardson's has been around forever and is an institution in Mathews. It is the embodiment of nostalgia.

My memories revolve around bar stools and fountain drinks. You could sit at the counter on a stool and swirl around while waiting for your Pink Lady to arrive. Yes, swirl. I love that word. You could swirl and swirl until you became dizzy. Or until your mother told you to stop and act like you have some sense.

Oh, I loved those Pink Ladies. I have no idea what was in them, but it was like drinking nectar, it was heaven in a glass. I am reasonably sure there was a great deal of sugar involved. Those were the days before everything we ingested was infused with high fructose corn syrup. However, it was not before the days of Pixie Stix, which consisted of this: pure cane sugar, plus more sugar, then 100% sugar, and an unhealthy amount of red dye #2. Who knew red dye #2 could taste so good? And how could something that tastes so good be so bad?

I also remember paper straws. Yes,there was such a thing as straws that were not plastic. There was also such a thing as milk delivered in glass bottles, eggs purchased at the local farm, party lines on telephones and a stegosaurus that ran wild throughout the county.

Besides paper straws, swirling counter stools and Pink Ladies, I also loved the tile floor in Richardson's. Why on Earth a child would fixate on a tile floor is beyond me, but I did. The exact same floor still exists today - white with blue designs scattered throughout.

I can hardly mention Richardsons Drug Store without mentioning Mr. Clarke Richardson, a gregarious sort who ran the place when I was coming along. He was a character as flavorful as the many and varied drinks served up at that counter. He was usually in the back, in the actual drug store part, and I remember he always wore a hat of some sort.

Today Richardsons is a very popular place to eat in the Court House. Although the paper straws have gone by the way side, the counter, those swirling stools and the tile floor still remain.

Alas, the stegosaurus died a while back, but otherwise not much has changed.

I like that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day-Worst Day


This is another lovely sunset in Mathews County.

Today was Chesapeake Bay Children's first day of school. It also marked my first dentist appointment in over 7 years. That is seven (7) years.

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Warning! Exceedingly Long Post To Follow: Please do not adjust your eyeballs. They are sure to go crossed no matter what preventative steps you take. This is merely a stress release and not meant to be entertaining or readable. Not that it ever is anyway.
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Sometimes I wonder if I am being tested, but most days I've just come to expect that if anything can go wrong it will, and there's no possible way I could concoct or anticipate the stuff that happens to me on a routine basis.

Here is but a sampling of what happened today:

1. CB Son and Daughter get up, eat a wonderful breakfast, get dressed for school and we have 20 minutes to spare. Great!

2. At just the right moment, I holler upstairs for them to come down so I can drive them to school. Ordinarily they ride the bus, but today was going to be special. (Oh, and special it was.)

3. No sooner had I reached for my pocketbook and keys, then I glanced out the window to see one of our 6 killer cats batting a poor, defenseless bird on the deck.

4. Chesapeake Bay Woman screams NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! A bead of sweat breaks out on her forehead, and her heartbeat quickens.

5. Chesapeake Woman, in her older years, has grown quite fearful of touching insects, small mammals, creepy things that could be lurking below the surface of the water when swimming in the ocean and just about every rodent identifiable by modern science. A new one she added to her list this morning was poor, defenseless birds that couldn't hurt a flea. She was not always this way, no. Something happened after age 40 that turned every logical thought into one big episode of panic and fear, with a side dose of dread.

6. Given that, she hollered at Chesapeake Bay Children to please come out and help her save the poor bird. She made Chesapeake Bay Son pick the thing up. SHE WOULD RATHER HAVE HER SON DO IT THAN TOUCH IT HERSELF. Looking at the big picture, she did have good intentions. Really. Bird is placed in a bush and we race to the car.

7. Chesapeake Bay Son announces that the button to his shorts has popped off. More delay. (Remember, we were originally right on time, if not early. Tick-tock, tick-tock and it is the first day of school. We are gonna be late.)

8. Pulling out of our lane, we see Neighbor Man at the end of the road flagging us down. Neighbor Man is waiting to tell us that we've missed the bus. Except we didn't miss the bus because I was driving them to school. I just didn't put that fact on the 8:00 morning news. Neighbor Man proceeds to tell us a very nice, very prolonged story about how we can still catch the bus, etc. Tick-tock, tick-tock, we're gonna be late for school. The very first day.

9. Chesapeake Bay Woman pulls out onto the main highway on two wheels, where main highway = two-lane highway, and CBW has crossed the dividing line into the other lane. She quickly over corrects her steering and children start sweating. One of them may have been crying. Maybe it was me who broke out into a sweat. Or who was crying. Who knows. It's all one big blurrish nightmare.

10. After I collect myself, I reassure them we're not gonna be late, even though we still have about 12 solid miles to drive. Chesapeake Bay Son doesn't buy it and proclaims that this is the WORST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER. Well!

11. I drop them off--with a minute or so to spare--and race back home. I have exactly 40 minutes before my first dental appointment in seven years. Yep, seven. I have some extra time, so I decide to clean up the dishes in the kitchen, which is hardly a chore I relish even on a normal day. When I reach for the faucet, I am met with the last thing in the known universe I would have expected to see: I was eye to grotesque, multiple, disgusting eyes with a PRAYING MANTIS. On my kitchen faucet. Inside my house. In my kitchen. Clinging all over my stuff. Cackling with glee at how much he has successfully scared the bajeebus out of me.

I let out a scream that can be heard in six counties. I also declared a praying mantis infestation. Will someone please get me an Orkin Man for Christmas?? One who handles fiddler crabs, ants, moths, fruit flies, house flies and now praying mantises?

12. I go to my dental appointment. Here are the results:

a) I am in Stage 1 Hypertension. I am NOT making this up.

b) I have an infection that has eaten away the bone of my tooth and the root is halfway gone. This requires amoxycillin.

c) Mr. Dentist proclaims that the following needs to happen:
- One tooth pulled.
- One operation to insert cow bone to reinforce bone that has rotted away due to infection. I said cow bone.
- Gum problems that need to be tended to.
- At least one cavity.
- I need a crown.
- I need to be sedated with Valium before they will do a cleaning on me. I am NOT making this up. Based on my behavior in the chair, they said it would be best if I came back another time with a sedative in my bloodstream.
- I need to use special toothpaste meant for people whose gums are receeding below their belly button.
- I need to check myself in to Eastern State Hospital. (I am making that part up. Maybe.)

d) After that lovely experience, I race to work, which is only 55 miles away.

There is more to this story that is equally unnerving but I am choosing to stop things here because my Stage 1 Hypertension is flaring up again. Other unmentionable events include the fact that I was called on by the Head Honcho at work to advise him how to handle a possible downsizing and restructuring of the workforce that, when all is said in done, could potentially result in Chesapeake Bay Woman becoming Chesapeake Bay Homeless Woman Due To Advising Management How to Effectively And Safely Eliminate Positions Up To And Including Her Own.

The End.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Of Mice and Mayhem



A while back, as in several months ago, I referenced an unfortunate childhood incident relating to a tea party I hosted for my two younger sisters. Below is my mother's perspective on that whole thing. As I recall, my intentions were honorable and very innocent (I was trying to teach them table manners, for example), and everything was fine until Chesapeake Bay Mother arrived on the scene. But I'll let her tell her side. At least for now.
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By Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother

I'm always amazed at the number of times in my life I have actually made a doctor laugh, and we certainly won't go into all of them here, but note that the older the physician, the more absurd it seems, unless of course you're four. I was more like 34 when Dr. Bowles lost it to my excited retelling of the events of the day of The Tea Party.

Let's start at the beginning. For Christmas, the three Chesapeake Bay Children received a table and chairs fashioned after a kitchen suite. It was in the basement where many of their play things had a home, including a china tea set.* I was involved in some meaningless chore,** when I suddenly missed the sounds of Chesapeake Bay Sisters at play--which would often times rival the bellows of a roomful of animals roasting on a spit. Mother had warned me, "If they're quiet, you'd better get movin', because they're up to something!" I rushed downstairs to discover my little dears all sitting at the table and using perfect manners to dine upon.....DECON! Yes, rat poison du jour.

I screamed and scared them into silence, which drove me into more panic. The more I pleaded, the silenter they were. So, Dr. Bowles heard from me. When he stopped laughing, he assured me that they probably didn't eat it, but if they did, etc. etc. And so it was a waiting game.

Well, they lived and so did I, but the day would come when history would see us all ask the question, "To puke or not to puke?" or "Can you make yourself puke without waking Daddy, who is still on the night shift and currently sleeping?"

Chesapeake Bay Oldest Daughter fried sausage and fed it to her sisters.*** I discovered it was not cooked in the middle and immediately assumed they would develop trichinosis (a parasite in undercooked pork) and so, off to vomit we went. All the resulting retching and crying**** did wake Daddy, who red-eyed, tousle-haired and not the least bit pleasant roared, "What the HE## is going on out here?"

What indeed. (CBW added these last two words. I felt it was necessary. I'm sure my mother can tell a story as well as the next person, but sometimes I just have to add stuff to it. I seriously do not have control issues. N.O. spells no, not me. -cbw)

- Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother
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Additional Input and Much-Needed Clarification from Chesapeake Bay Woman:

* CBW's Note#1: Actually, the dinner ware was made of tin, not china. China would have been broken to smithereens within two seconds of us laying hands on it. This was a nice tin set of plates with a brown pattern and the daintiest little teacups and saucers you've ever seen. The Decon looked simply exquisite on the plates. I mounded it up just so.

** CBW's Note#2: Mindless chore in this instance was likely my mother watching The Guiding Light, followed by Match Game 76, while Chesapeake Bay Child babysat her two younger sisters. I was practicing cooking and serving them dinner, which was something I would need to know in the days,months and years to come. I was left to teach myself. See Note #3

*** CBW's Note #3: Yeah, I was left to teach myself how to cook, and I was so starved to death I broke open a roll of pork sausage ready to eat it right out the package but instead fried it up to a very crispy blackened outside only to find it medium rare on the inside. I saw no problem with it and enjoyed it immensely. I did not,however, enjoy retching in the back yard for no good reason.

****CBW's Note #4: I can assure you this was Middle Sister crying. I just know it. I can guarantee I wasn't crying over this whole thing. I thought the darn sausage tasted just fine and saw the entire exercise as useless and a huge waste of time and Night-Shift-Working-Daddy's precious sleep.

I would like it noted for the record that my cooking skills have greatly improved since these first attempts at hosting dinners. My table manners haven't, but at least I'm not serving up rat poison or raw pork anymore. I did eat some undercooked chicken once but I didn't make it.

Nor did I get sick, thank you very much.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Switch



This road is located in the Glebe area of Mathews. I really, really wanted to go down it. I always want to know what's hiding at the end of these lanes. But in this particular instance there were too many signs talking about private property and trespassing and such. So I heeded the warnings, but not without much contemplation and deliberation.

When I was a kid, someone gave us a pony named Thunder, who was the most stubborn animal that ever lived aside from my two sisters.

Whenever I rode Thunder, I'd break a branch--otherwise known as a switch--off a bush to use as a crop, to give her a a gentle tap (and the occasional whack) when she walked instead of trotted; when she stopped dead in her tracks instead of moving forward, and when she reached around and bit me just because I nudged her with my heels to get her to move at all.

She was one ornery (pronounced AHN-ree) pony.

Back in those days, dinosoars roamed the Earth. And switches were often used on children, usually as a punishment for some wrong doing. Go ahead and call Social Services, but you ought to give them the whole truth, which was we all made out just fine in spite of the fact we were hit with switches, flyswatters made of steel, and hairbrushes made of lead.

But we're not talking about all that, we're talking about switches and I have a story about one switch in particular.

When I was about six, my sisters and I spent the night with my grandmother, Nanny, in Gloucester. Middle Sis and I fought a lot, but not just cat fights. No, these were legendary brawls involving teeth, hair and eyes, hitting, lots of kicking, biting and torture of all sorts.

Nanny knew what a tough job it was to prevent these fights. This particular occasion, to keep us in check, she carefully selected a very large switch from her yard and placed it on a shelf out of our reach but within sight. She told us she certainly hoped she would have no use for it, but reassured us that she wasn't afraid to use it if necessary. Then she returned to the kitchen to fry the best fried chicken ever to touch an iron skillet.

Chesapeake Bay Child, ordinarily a very loving and caring individual, especially to her younger sisters, suddenly felt an evil streak come over her. It hit her like a tidal wave and she could not fight it. For reasons that are not entirely clear, I pulled up a stool, stood on it and grabbed that switch off the shelf. I have no earthly idea why, but I then commenced to walk up to my grandmother, who was wearing a dress and hovering over the stove. I started to hit her bare legs. Yes, Chesapeake Bay Child took a switch to her own beloved, fried-chicken-making, favorite grandmother.

I have no idea how this story ends because I very successfully blocked out anything that happened next. I want to say that in spite of the egregious violation on my part, she resorted to laughter and a phone call to my mother. I don't recall flyswatters or hair brushes being used, so the humor must have outweighed the act of disobedience.

Note: No children, ponies or fried-chicken-cooking Nannys were harmed in the making of this post. A few bushes had their branches torn off, and one ornery sister got her hair pulled, but otherwise everyone came out unscathed. Physically, anyway. The jury is still out on the mental part.