Monday, November 30, 2009

Blood, Sweat, and Reindeer

Broken glass.
Tears. Denial that anything is wrong.
More sweat.
More cussin'.
Way more blood.
Crying.Blinking back tears.
Gaping wounds.

An incessant internal dialogue which rarely ventured far from the simple question, "Why?"

Yes, folks, the Christmas decorating season is killing us killing me upon us once again.

Yesterday I attempted to hoist the 42 thousand million bins of lights and decorations from the basement up to my dining room, which is Christmas Cussing Central Christmas Decorating Central in my house.

As my daughter played video games in the adjacent room, I teetered atop dining room chairs straining to untwist, uncoil and arrange tangled-up lights, garlands, old Santa Clauses and strings of epithets beads delicately balanced atop the china cupboard and various overhead shelves, which are at least seventeen feet high if they're an inch.

After uttering several unsavory words under my breath--lest Chesapeake Bay Daughter hear me--I watched in slow-motion horror as a strand of extra large, white lights plummeted to the floor, taking a stuffed Santa Claus or two down with it as it fell. I was holding on to a prayer to another Santa Claus with my right hand, all the while standing tippy-toe on the dining room chair, wondering what planet I was originally intended for since clearly it was not Earth.

At least not at Christmas.

Using my cat-like reflexes, I grabbed those plummeting lights with my left hand before they hit the ground, but as I grasped and squeezed, an extra-large bulb cut a main artery the palm of my hand. Then the rest of the strand dropped on the hardwood floor, shattering at least 3 other bulbs.

Blah blah blah, there was bleeding and cussing and bandaids and Santa Clauses and garlands and stars and lights. And tourniquets.

The End.

p.s. I haven't even begun the arduous project of toting the bin which contains the qwazillion parts and pieces of an 8-foot artificial Christmas tree up the narrow steps from the basement.

We won't talk about assembling it once it's upstairs. Nor about putting on the tangled lights once it's assembled.

Thank you.

Click here to read about last year's efforts to put up outdoor lights, which is most people's first the last step in the whole Christmas decorating process. I can't allow myself to read it due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Does Martha Stewart ever stand on dining room chairs?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Eagle

This is one of two eagles who were frolicking around my parents' locust tree on Thanksgiving day. Eagles do that you know. Frolic.

This one spent the previous day lollygagging in a pine tree near Smithers Cemetery, which is across the creek from me. Eagles are prone to lollygagging, especially after before they frolic.

Mr. Eagle spent some time in this tree before settling on a dock post. He was dead-set on getting some scraps of fish my mother had thrown into the creek. But a heron was there to remind him that you don't always get what you want without competition. Even if your name is Mr. Eagle.

Here's hoping you have a Sunday where the worst thing you have to watch is an eagle and a heron vying for fish scraps.


p.s. If you're not watching eagles, herons and fish scraps, what are you doing today?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Haven Beach

Above is a (lopsided) shot of Haven Beach after Hurricaneaster Ida. This is meaningless if you didn't know what Haven looked like before the storm, but believe me, much of the beach is gone, especially towards the left as you walk in from the parking lot.

A couple of other things struck me when I ambled around that day. Most noticeably, there was an inordinate number of oyster shells coating the shoreline. I don't mean just a few more, I mean tons more. Below is a shot of what was at my feet for most of my walk: layers upon layers of oyster shells.

The other thing that was unusual was the number of glass bottles I found. In one particular spot there were about 20 bottles of varying shapes and sizes, from fingernail polish bottles to jelly jars to older looking medicine bottles. Evidently the storm unearthed a spot where somebody once dumped glass, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon it.

Speaking of oyster shells, and I believe we were, however briefly, I traveled to Big Hair Envy's house for a repeat Thanksgiving that included oysters. There was also venison, the world's best ham (baked by her world's best father), turkey, rock fish, butter beans, wonky teeth, skeet shooting, laughter to beat the band, and enough food to feed the state of Wisconsin and half of Iowa. Noe Noe Girl and C.W. were there, and aside from eating all I did was laugh. And take a few pictures.

Tonight I am doing yet another Thanksgiving at my house to accommodate family members who spent the actual holiday elsewhere.

So, Thanksgiving isn't over for me just yet. The fun and overeating continues. In fact, it may not stop until January 2, 2010.

What are you doing this weekend? Have you started putting up your Christmas decorations yet? Does anyone want to come over and help me do mine? Part of the work is already done since I never did take last year's outdoor lights down. Hopefully I didn't run over the cords with the lawn mower this summer.

But I think I did.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Four Thing Friday

Today is Four Thing Friday since Thanksgiving, oyster stuffing, pillows of mashed potatoes and tankers full of gravy preempted the regularly scheduled Three Thing Thursday.

Four Thing Friday is where I share four things and you share four things, whatever you want, anything at all.

I'll begin.

1. A bald eagle spent his entire Thanksgiving day on my mother's dock on Queens Creek. Ordinarily an eagle likes to be perched high in the limb of a tree. It's unusual to see one perched on a dock post only a few feet above the water. But we're not ones to look a gift eagle in the eye.

2. Oyster stuffing.

3. Mashed potatoes and gravy.

4. Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda. Literally translated this means that although the monkey is dressed in silk, he remains a monkey. Miss Roane taught me this in high school Spanish. I can't remember what I did 45 minutes ago, but I can remember a saying taught to me 25 years ago in another language.

4.5 Warning: Overindulgence in oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy causes one not only to recite 10th grade Spanish but to remember what it means. It also causes a person to say they're not one to look a gift eagle in the eye instead of gift horse in the beak mouth.

Now it's your turn. Tell me four things, tell me forty-two things, anything at all. En Espanol o Ingles. Whatever you want. It's all good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving

I'm very grateful to live in this crazy, beautiful little speck on the map called Mathews.

Thank you for reading this crazy little blog called Life in Mathews.

Thanks for leaving crazy comments and making me laugh.

Evidently, everything I'm thankful for involves crazy, but that comes as no surprise to me.

For those celebrating Thanksgiving, have a wonderful day with friends and family, even if they're crazy.

I leave you with this crazy picture of a wild turkey. (If you squint you can see him at the base of the tree.) I shot it one day down Harcum way. Let me clarify: I shot the picture, not the turkey. When there is movement or action of any sort--such as trotting or fleeing--I get all flustered and panic, and the picture ends up like this.

Nonetheless, it's Thanksgiving so a crazy turkey picture is only appropriate.

At least in my crazy world.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blending In

Here we have upon the sand ,
A seagull feather,
That once was fanned

Across the sky and water blue,
Until it landed
Next to you.

And there it rests in its new space
Amid the sticks
It's out of place.

And yet its colors, gray and white
Just blend right in
It looks just right

Next to those sticks of white and gray
Which came from somewhere
Far away.

Both washed upon the shore 'tis true
And though so different
Are similar too.

This picture and those words are a weak, hastily-written attempt to say that although the elements of the photo above are different, they have something in common. The feather from a seagull and the sticks from a tree share an almost identical color which is only apparent when they're close together.

This sort of reminds me of Thanksgiving, believe it or not.

Those of you shaking your head, furrowing your brow and wondering if I'm still off my medication wondering, Chesapeake Bay Woman, how do you propose to link a feather, some sand, some sticks and a second-grade-level poem to Thanksgiving?

I'll tell you.

We gather with our families and friends this time of year, flung together like this feather and these sticks. We're each unique; some of us are feathers, others are sticks. Not really, just metaphorically* speaking. And yet in spite of our differences, we share something in common. We're family.

(In the Chesapeake Bay extended family, I'll be the feather and my two sisters can be the sticks. According to the Book of Sibling Rivalry it states very clearly on page 13 paragraph 1 that the oldest child gets to be the feather in any analogy* where the only other option is a stick.)

Who in your family stands out and how are they different from the rest of your family?

* I've just arrived home to a dark house after a long day at the paying job and a 2-hour, one-way commute thanks to bad drivers, accidents and Thanksgiving traffic on Route 17. Therefore I can't hold my eyes open long enough to look up the difference between metaphor and analogy, but hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say.

Even if I don't.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Soybean Harvest

This soybean field is right near the cemetery on what I call the Route 3 Cut-Through Road, aka Windsor Road. I think. (Such details elude me. Every minute of every day. That's why I make up my own names like Route 3 Cut-Through Road.)

Driving by I saw this combine harvesting the beans and quickly turned into the cemetery. Grabbing my camera, which is definitely not what people usually take on a walk through a cemetery, I crept up to the edge of this field, aimed carefully and took several pictures. The poor guy driving the combine saw me. The people who were visiting their dearly departed loved ones saw me. It wasn't as if I could just turn around and pretend that I was photographing something else - because what would that be? A plastic flower arrangement? A headstone, perhaps?

(Never mind that there are no headstones at this particular cemetery. There is a mausoleum, though. Why is it that the thought of being stuffed in a mausoleum causes me more thoughts of claustrophobia than being buried in a casket in the ground? Really, is there any escaping either one? And what difference does it make if I'm no longer alive? Why would I need to escape? These are the sorts of thoughts that preoccupy me when I'm off my medication bored at work.)

Anyway, this was taken about a week or so before Hurricaneaster Ida, the storm that would never end. The wet fall has put a hurting on crop harvesting, and many soybean fields have gone to waste. "Put a hurting on" is a very technical farming term which means "negatively impacted."

But please don't take my word for it. You'll be better off that way. Here's what the
Richmond Times Dispatch said recently:

Last week's torrential rainfalls have caused damage and delays to some Virginia farm crops, but the extent of losses is unknown, some agriculture experts said yesterday.

Several crops that were recently planted or still in the fields were hurt by the widespread, three-day deluge, including winter wheat, barley and soybeans, said Molly Payne Pugh, executive director of the Virginia Grain Producers Association.

"There is definitely going to be damage," Pugh said. "I don't have a good feel for how much yet. Right now, we are assessing."

...The state's soybean and cotton crops also are a concern now because the rain further delayed an already late harvest.

Soybeans, a $134 million crop for Virginia farmers in 2008, generally have had a good year in 2009, with yields estimated at around 37 bushels per acre, higher than the 32 to 33 bushels-per-acre trend of recent years, said Wade Thomason, an extension grains specialist at Virginia Tech.

But wet weather during the spring planting season made the crop late, and more delays will reduce yields.

Yesterday it rained all day long. Guess what they were calling for last night? Rain. Winds from the northeast, 20-30 miles per hour. Today? Rain. Winds from the northeast. Everything from the northeast. Northeast this, northeast that.

Poor soybeans.

How has your fall/autumn been? Has it been rainier/dryer/hotter/cooler than usual?

If you owned a soybean crop and most of it could not be harvested due to the weather, what would you do? Do farmers have insurance to cover lost soybean crops?

Somebody please explain. Thank you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meet Mark

Mark's from Mathews.

That's probably why he's smiling, because living here is good. He's also smiling because he's a genuinely nice person from the inside out.

And he happens to be single.

During Hurricaneaster Ida a couple weeks ago, Mark very selflessly waded through pelting rain and flood waters to pull my boat out from the boathouse, where it surely would have sunk and/or pushed through the roof - or both. He did this out of the kindness of his heart, and when I asked how to repay him all he said was, "Tell all your single friends about me."

What better way to spread the word than by announcing to the entire planet on the internet?

Before I introduce Mark, let's talk about what happens next because I'm not quite sure what does happen next. Because he's a wealth of local knowledge, Mark's going to be a regular feature here -regardless of whether we find him a friend. In addition to sharing his stories about Mathews--which will entertain everyone--he could answer any specific questions that readers may have. I've already sent him the list of questions asked thus far. Hopefully this will become a weekly thing and by next week we'll have some answers to those questions.

Ideally, though, I'd like to find a date for Mark. If there is mutual interest, we could arrange for a tour of Mathews (for anyone not local to the area) and sponsor a dinner at Sandpiper Reef. Another idea is to hold a group event at Sandpiper - a singles mixer perhaps. No matter what we end up doing, anyone traveling from out of town could stay at my house for the weekend if lodging is a concern. We'll figure all this out when the time comes. No matter what, it will be fun.

While these details are being pondered, let's introduce you to Mark.

Here's how one of his friends describes him: He is smart, polite, old school, very much a gentleman, a historian, a story teller, handy, witty, possesses a great sense of humor, fair, honest, nice looking. He is also strong, brave, a person of honor, a good athlete.

What an excellent description, and it's all true.

Mark was born in Charleston but moved to Mathews County as a freshman in high school, where he was a linebacker for the football team and a member of the track team. After high school he played football at Ferrum College before leaving to help his father run a car dealership back home in Mathews. He drove a tractor trailer briefly and then joined Anheuser Busch in Williamsburg. He's currently self-employed and does just about anything and everything (including helping a crazy woman with her boat).

He's divorced and has two boys, 28 and 18.

Another friend describes him as the Dog Whisperer, because he has such a calming effect on dogs. He has two himself, one of which he rescued from a ditch, along with her puppies.

He built his own house. Oh yes he did.

His parents, who live on Gwynn's Island, have been married 54 years. His 98-year-old grandfather is the oldest living citizen on the island and has deep, deep roots there.

What does Mark like best about living in Mathews?
"The people. Everybody's your friend." He also loves being so close to the water, which he knows like the back of his hand having spent so many years on boats.

Where would he take a first date?
He would show her Mathews, introduce her to the sights and to the people, and take her to a local restaurant for dinner.

What about the second date?
He'd like to do the same thing where she lives; have her introduce him to her town.

What is he looking for in a companion?
"I want an honest woman who is fun-loving, and who'll stand by her man."

He's a good-hearted soul from a wonderful family with strong ties to Mathews. Kind, compassionate, generous to a fault and willing to take unnecessary risks to help a friend in need, Mark is an all-around wonderful guy. I feel honored and extremely fortunate to call him a friend.

If you or someone you know is interested in knowing more, e-mail me at Otherwise, tune in again next week for another installment of Meet Mark, coming soon to a blog near you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower.
Albert Camus

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
Stanley Horowitz

Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.
David Letterman

I'm sorry, did we have an autumn? I'll bet we did. However, right now I'm feeling pressure to put up Christmas decorations, even though Thanksgiving is next week and July 4th was yesterday.
Chesapeake Bay Woman

Where will you spend July 4th Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Yesterday I drove out to two of the county beaches, Haven and Aaron's. The good news is they're still there, but the storm certainly made some changes.

For example, in the photo above from Aaron's, that sand has been pushed way up into the marsh grass--look how deep it is. The water cut a trench in the beach as you walk in from the parking lot, and there's another one way down to the right where there used to be some fallen trees.

At Haven the sand had shifted up also, and to the left much of that beach is gone.
We're darting to a completely unrelated topic We're shifting gears now.

OK, earlier this week I wrote about Eligible Bachelor Mark from Mathews who saved my boat. To facilitate the process of introducing him to interested eligible ladies, I'm going to interview him, take pictures and post the results on Monday (if everything works out). What happens next is still being deliberated.

If you feel like helping me out, perhaps you could post some questions that we could ask for the profile post. Interviewing is part of my paying job, so I'm comfortable coming up with my own questions, but I'm not usually interviewing prospective boyfriends for other people. Usually.

So, what questions would you ask Mark if you were eligible?

Have you (or someone you know) ever been on a blind date? How did it go?

Have a great Saturday and enjoy the weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009


OK, I don't expect you to believe me, but something really bizarre just happened.

Ordinarily I have no earthly idea what I'm going to write in a post until I sit down and stare at various pictures I've pre-loaded. The picture may trigger a thought which may trigger a bigger thought and voila, a post is born. Sometimes at work when bored which is approximately 8 hours per day, I'll make a list of potential topics to use if I'm uninspired by the pictures.

The topic of nicknames has been on my list for two weeks now, and each evening it was a contender for the next day's post but it kept getting shoved to the back burner. Last evening as I was cleaning up after supper, I made the decision to write about nicknames for today's post. Knowing I'd already briefly touched on the topic of names some time last year, I went back to that post and was pleased to discover that it was about strange first names, not nicknames, although we did dabble in nicknames in the comments section. Click here to see.

Then I looked at the date of the post: November 20th, 2008. Exactly one year ago to the day. What are the chances?

[Insert sound of creepy music that goes doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo.]
Anyway, we have lots of characters with nicknames running around here. In my neighborhood alone, there are aplenty:

Prunes - my father's friend. He hauls our trash to the dump. Descended from Tangier Island.

Mooch - Prunes' wife. When I was a kid I always thought they called her Moose and never understood why. Not that I understand Mooch, mind you.

Miss Curly - same person as Mooch, aka Prunes' wife. She gets two nicknames. Maybe it's because she keeps her Christmas tree up year 'round, prominently displayed in the picture window. Who knows.

Cotton - He lived in the red brick house that Mental P Mama wants to buy.

Sticks - Cotton's son who is just a few years older than me. Or older than I. He was older. And as skinny as a stick, hence the name.

When I was in high school, I played basketball with Dopie, Buckwheat, LaRue, and Boufant. LaRue had a brother called Mumps (his real name was the unusual Grayling). Of course who from around these parts can forget Watergate, the unofficial mayor of Ward's Corner and groundskeeper of the stretch of road from Eastview to Westview Inn.

My father is friends with Pepsi, Poochie and Meat Morris. Meat is like my father's brother; they drink bourbon tinker on cars up at Meat's garage on Route 700. I absolutely do not ever want to know how Meat got his nickname.

Jeffrey Rainier gave me a nickname in 7th grade. He and a few others called me Flipper because my straight-as-a-poker hair was mashed so flat to my head that my ears would poke out. He sat behind me in Mr. Thomas's social studies class and would flick me on the ear. Then in 8th grade shop class he made me a sign that said Flipper. Then he asked me to a 9th grade dance, which is a story for another time.

Most people just called me by my last name, which I actually liked.

My Baby Sis was known as Sunshine, and she played basketball with a person whose nickname was actually Baby Sis. (Trust me, this makes sense to those of us who are crazy as a loon know the characters.)

Middle Sis had a nickname, but I can't remember what it was. Perhaps she can enlighten us.

Did you have a nickname? What are some unusual nicknames from your past?

If I write about names or nicknames on November 20, 2010, I'm officially dubbing myself psychic although psycho would be more appropriate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

This boat is moored to a pine tree and rests in a sea of pine needles not because of last week's storm. It's here just because. No reason in particular, none required. That's how we roll here in Mathews.

Speaking of no reason--and no logic for that matter--welcome to Three Thing Thursday, where I share three things and you share three things, anything at all, whatever you want.

I'll begin.

1. Ever since that hurricane storm last week, I've been melancholy, in a funk.

2a. Speaking of funk, my favorite satellite TV/radio station is The Groove (Channel 844 on my particular provider). It's funk from the '80's. Cameo. Evelyn Champagne King. Commodores. Ray Parker, Jr. Stephanie Mills. Prince. Teena Marie. LTD. Fatback. Chaka Kahn. Midnight Star. Parliament. Michael Jackson. Earth, Wind and Fire. Rick James. Lakeside. The Whispers.

(I am forcing myself to stop this list because I'm only warming up, and nobody except Big Hair Envy , Middle Sis and Baby Sis understands and appreciates my love for The Groove.)

2b. Recently I heard a radio broadcast about music being good for patients, especially Alzheimer's patients. Note to Chesapeake Bay Children: When If your mother can no longer think clearly and/or is hospitalized or put in a nursing home, please pipe in some '80's funk for me. If you see me start tapping my foot and shimmying, that means turn up the volume. If possible, include some KC and the Sunshine Band. Thank you.

3. Thanks to a suggestion from Meg in my post about The Mathews Person Named Mark Who Saved My Boat, I am working on something--a contest, a post, I'm not sure yet--to facilitate the process of eligible ladies meeting this eligible bachelor. The specifics and particulars need to be thought up since I have no idea how this will work sifted through and processed, but with Meg's help I'll throw some structure around it. Stay tuned and be thinking about any single friends who may be interested.

Now it's your turn. Tell me three things or tell me forty-three things. Tell me your worries, your problems, your hopes and your dreams. Tell me about your favorite music. Anything.

Whatever's on your mind.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This is a picture I took a couple of weeks ago from Bethel Beach. I ventured down the left end instead of taking the usual walk to the right. There weren't any No Trespassing signs that I could see. (They follow me around wherever I go, it's extremely vexing.) There was this one thing resembling a hurdle, and being a former hurdler I cleared it, no problem. However in hindsight that probably wasn't a hurdle.


Today we're going to talk about beach erosion and trees like the ones above.

(For optimal alertness, you may wish to pour yourself another cup of coffee.)

The marshes leading down to our public beaches are full of what I'm going to call forest graveyards. In other words, there are trees standing--the remnants of big trees--but they're dead. All 3 of the county beaches contain sights like the one above, skeleton trees showing where the ground is now washed away entirely. Those not lost to the bay tower gracefully in the marshes, unable to tolerate the heavy dose of salt in the water.

To learn more about this, let's turn in our hymnals to Song Number 110 turn to that handy dandy desktop reference that every good citizen owns: the 1962 Soil Survey for Mathews County, written by the Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. Yes, the year is 1962, but it's still the same around here. All that changes is the names of our convenience stores.

(Zooms is turning into a 7-11, fyi. The original 7-11 at Ward's Corner became a Little Sue and now is a _____. I'm drawing a blank. Pass the coffee.)

From pages 38 and 39:

"...Northeasters occur much more frequently than hurricanes but are much less intense. They're often accompanied by rain (sometimes excessive), by the flooding of the lower lying areas with very highly saline tidewater, and by damaging winds. Because these storms occur much more frequently than hurricanes, the damage that results probably exceeds that caused by hurricanes and tropical storms.

Because most of Mathews County is less than 10 feet in elevation and much of it is less than 5 feet, the fluctuations of tides are important. Storm tides flood parts of the county that are at elevations of approximately 6 feet or less. The largest areas affected by storm tides is along the Chesapeake Bay. A study made in the Garden Creek area of the county by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows that on August 23, 1933, there was a high tide of 7.1 feet.

Before the Civil War, much of the lowland along the Chesapeake Bay in the vicinity of Garden Creek and Winter Harbor was protected by sand dunes and dikes. Since that time much of the dune sand has been removed, breaks in the dikes have not been repaired and tide gates have not been maintained. The encroachment of salt water in recent years is apparently causing the stands of loblolly pine to die back before they mature."

On Thursday of this week I'm venturing back down to the county beaches.

I hope they're still there.

To the one reader anyone reading from around these parts, what's an area that you remember from the past that is changed or gone due to storms and erosion? For example, I remember when Haven Beach went on forever to the left as you approach; I even remember a tree at that end of the beach. Now, it's all gone, though you can still see traces at low tide.

To the two any readers from other places, what have you lost to erosion or development or even new buildings taking the place of old ones?
(This question reminds me of that scene in Planet of the Apes where the Statue of Liberty is covered in sand. What an indelible mark that scene left on me. But I'm actually asking about things in real life, not in the Planet of the Apes. Feel free to discuss Planet of the Apes if you wish, though.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

High Waters

Above is a picture from Sunday afternoon on the way down to the county beaches. I didn't see any standing water on this road until I approached Haven, and as I said yesterday there's standing water there even after a regular storm.

Below is the road leading to Aaron's Beach, which did have some standing water. If I had a truck I would have plowed right through because it wasn't terribly deep, but since I need my Saturn to carry me to and from work 100 miles a day, I decided to err on the side of sissies chickens caution.

Although most of you are tired of hearing about the storm, there are two others reading who are looking for information about damage from Ida. Many are wondering about Gwynn's Island in particular.

I drove to the island Sunday but only as far as the market. There didn't seem to be anything terribly out of place or unusual other than some roadside debris. BUT. On the local radio station this morning they were talking about a house on the island that was a total and complete loss. Evidently a couple of homes sustained major damage.

Some readers have asked me to check on specific areas. On my next day off, Thursday, I will stop by your property and send pictures if you wish. E-mail me at or Ann Marie at if you're interested.

If anyone reading knows how things look on Gwynnville Road, please leave a comment. One reader asked about that area, and I don't want to leave her hanging until Thursday.


(That dotted line means we're shifting gears to another topic completely. Please stay seated with your seat belts fastened until this ride has come to a complete stop. Don't worry, it won't be too much longer but we may experience some hairpin turns.)

Now, what I really wanted to talk about here was the phrase "high water" which reminds me of "highwaters." (There is a difference.) Back in school, sometimes Chesapeake Bay Woman kids would wear pants that no longer fit properly--they were too short, for instance. Somebody would point at the poor victim and say, "Hey, you got your highwaters on?" or "You wearin' your clam diggers today?"

It's been a long time since I've been asked if I was wearing my high waters thought about those expressions and how much we'd laugh saying them.

(Warning: Hairpin turn ahead.)

All this talk of pants and school reminds me of the time I wore pants with a broken zipper to school. (The zipper didn't work at all. No zipper.) The thing is, I knew the zipper was broken but didn't care because they were my favorite pants. Then the boy I had a crush on noticed, and it all went sour from there. This is a story for another time and has nothing to do with Ida, clam diggers or storm damage.

It does perhaps have to do with emotional damage explain my abnormal/obsessive fear that my zipper is down whenever I stand up.

What are some of your memories from ill-fitting school clothes including pants that were too short?

(You may take off your seat belts and exit now. Try not to stampede on your way out.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Drive

Yesterday we experienced a most bizarre phenomenon. After 4 years days of dark gray skies; pelting rain; uber-high tides; and raging cabin fever winds, we saw the sun.

And it was good.

Eager to see what havoc the storm might have wreaked, I drove down to the public beaches and was met by impassable, flooded roads such as the one above at Haven/Old House Woods; so no beach shots yet. In spite of the storm's fierce winds there weren't many trees down, nor was there much exterior damage to structures. But there was plenty of standing water which can mean interior damage to homes in low-lying areas.

By the way, there are only about two places in Mathews that are not low-lying. One is the ascent of the hill at James Store and the other is the bridge going over the Piankatank. Actually, neither of these locations is in Mathews County, though we must traverse them in any attempt to escape the county, especially in Category One hurricanes called Ida flood-like conditions.

After I returned home from this little adventure, I received an e-mail from a concerned property owner who asked if I would check on her house and send pictures. Happy to help and eager to do anything that didn't involve housework or yard work, I hopped right back into the car and drove to what felt like South Carolina a very remote part of the county to her property. The house was OK, but her yard sustained quite a bit of damage from the winds and high tides.

On the way there, as I approached the courthouse and Best Value,* a very unusual car passed by. This was not your typical car that stands out around here: your Cadillac, your Hummer or your Jag-you-are. No, this was a car for royalty - a very striking, elegant and aristocratic Rolls Royce. We see these sorts of cars around here about as often as we see a Thai restaurant.

Has Tom Cruise already moved to Mathews? Was he here to check on his property, riding around in his distinguished chariot? Does he realize I could have saved him a trip? These are the insane thoughts that instantly popped into my mind. Then I reasoned that he wouldn't want to draw attention by motoring around in a car that stands out like debutante at a tractor pull.

So who was it? Anyone?

* Speaking of Best Value, Food Lion has king crab legs on sale for $3.99 per pound. Also, turkeys are $0.37/pound (if your total bill is $35 or more). Folks, you can't even buy water for $0.37/ pound. Get 'em while you can!

And don't be surprised if you're rubbing elbows with a Rolls Royce-driving Somebody at the freezer case. He may have a keen eye for a bargain but needs to trade the Rolls for a pickup with 4-wheel drive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

After the Storm

Yes, I'm still talking about the storm known as Hurricane Ida in certain circles and Historic Nor'Easter in circles where people sitting in an office 90 minutes from here have no idea what they're talking about. Never fear, though, because by the end of this post we'll be talking about my optometrist. Welcome to free form, stream of consciousness rambling hot air thoughts brought on by four days of confinement due to a hurricane stormy weather.

This is a picture of my yard on Friday after the storm started to slack off and I could walk around without being freakishly paranoid concerned the camera would get wet.

Ordinarily, the water (even at high tide) doesn't come near those two pine trees. Fortunately I'm on high enough ground that the house stays dry, even in a storm of this magnitude.

For the past four days the only thing that's happened here is this: cooking, sleeping, and eating--not necessarily in that order. Occasionally there was cooking while sleeping, and sleeping while eating, both of which really cause a mess. Periodically I'd read blogs and leave cheeky comments check e-mail and glance at the television, whether it was on or not.

In short, I've grown fond of this concept known as semi-vegetation hibernation.

During this state of vegetation meditation, I've given serious, considerable, substantive thought to ways of earning money without 100-mile daily commutes. If you've heard this already, please just play along and nod politely. It involves a TV show which I am absolutely positive would be successful, interesting, informative and--most of all--humorous and entertaining.

When I say "substantive thought" I mean that I discussed my ideas with my optometrist, who smiled and nodded politely. But really, the idea that's brewing is a good one, if only someone can make it happen. Evidently that person will not be my optometrist.

And here we have the conclusion of a post which started off talking about the storm and which ended as predicted expected, having nothing to do with a storm but everything to do with references to my optometrist.

The End.

p.s. Have a great Sunday and if possible make it a point to do absolutely nothing except eat, sleep and cook - not necessarily in that order.

p.s.s. If anyone out there is wondering about the storm damage here, please e-mail me at or Between the two of us we can answer your questions or locate someone who can.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hurricaneaster Ida

I took this picture from my deck on Thursday, the worst day of Hurricane Ida, aka that pesky little nor'easter that blew through here. You read it here first, and probably won't read it anywhere else, but that was a small hurricane, not a huge nor'easter. There's a difference. I'll get back to you on what that difference is as soon as I look it up. Or make it up.

This is not a very good picture, but it does show how strong the wind was during Hurricaneaster Ida. In between those two pine trees is a hammock blown sideways. It stayed like that for a long time before finally snapping. The wind was just relentless.

Today, now that the worst of the storm has passed, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank a very generous, brave, selfless individual for saving my boat house and my dilapidated boat (which has four thousand years of loan payments still due).

Mathews Native Mark is Mathews Mountain Man's brother and Pookie's son.

Mathews Mountain Man was my track coach in high school; now he lives on the opposite side of the state with his lovely wife and children. Pookie, their mother, once made a hamburger which later exploded behind Gwynn's Island Baptist Church. She also caught me trespassing on her family's property on the coldest day of the year.

(If you haven't read that story, please click on the link above. It's a good 'un. There's a link within that post to the exploding hamburger incident. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.)

Mark waded through knee-high waters on a dock he could not see, braving horizontal rain and high winds to pull my boat out before it hit the roof. (Take a look at the boat house/dock pictures from the past two posts for an idea of what he waded through.)

Here's a shot from Thursday of the front yard, the tide and the rain. Merely opening the door to take this shot nearly knocked me over - and I was standing indoors. This was not even high tide, but for point of reference, that pine tree farthest away is normally well above and away from the water.

Did I mention how cold it was even without being submerged in water up past your knees? Somehow or another in all that wind and rain, Mark pulled the boat out of the boathouse and secured it to whatever dock posts were still visible. As he put it, "I'm from four generations of people who know the water, I ought to know how to tie up a boat."

Yes, but it's one thing to know how to do it and quite another thing to do it in horizontal rain and 50+ mph winds while wading knee-deep in rising waters on a dock you can't see.

There's nothing I can say or do to convey how much I appreciate his help in this disastrous shituation. Without his help, the boat would have sunk and/or the roof to the boathouse would be floating down the flooded ditches alongside Route 198.

Mark did say that if I had any single friends to please mention that he was available. So, lady readers, if you or someone you know is looking for a very kind man who will go to great lengths to help a friend by wading in 50 m.p.h. winds to save a boat, he's your man.

Thank you, Mark, for all your help. You saved the day. And the boathouse. And the boat. And my sanity - at least for the time being.

p.s. Can you hang shutters? Fix garage doors? Just kidding. Sort of.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stormy Weather - Part II

Here's the boathouse at this morning's high tide.

The rain has stopped so I was able to get out and survey the goings on. In the previous post I mentioned a pot of gill nets. Notice it's been swallowed up by the tide. Also, in the background on the right you'll see our neighbor's boat floating over the top of the dock, just about over the dock poles.

I'll post some more pics later today or tomorrow. For now, the wind and rain have died down, but the tide is still up in the yard.

Time to go cook a pot roast.

Stormy Weather

This is a picture of my dock and boathouse at low tide yesterday. Yes, low tide. Click on the picture for a full appreciation of what's going on here. Ordinarily there's a walkway all the way around the boathouse and straight down the left side to the fish cleaning table. (Wherever you see poles poking through is normally a walkway.)

See that green bucket down at the end of the dock? The only thing keeping it there (for now) is some gill nets inside. If you look along the lower right side of the boathouse you'll see a green/brownish line which represents where the water was at yesterday morning's high tide. They say the worst is yet to come with the next high tide. (Update since I still have current and can provide one: "They" were right. Yesterday evening's high tide was worse.)

Naturally I didn't prepare for this, so whatever was out there is gone.

(Except for those gill nets which date back to the late 1970's/early '80's. Thank goodness they're still there--along with the memories of hauling those heavy, slimy, fish-laden nets from the water with cold, salt spray hitting you in the face as you try to balance yourself in very choppy waters as fish wriggle and gasp for breath all about you. Ah, childhood memories.)

In other news, I've successfully avoided thinking about the storm damage by eating baked brownies, made lasagna, succotash, collard greens, and beef stew. We might be floating away soon, but we'll be eatin' good as we sail away.

What's the weather like where you are?

Happy Friday, the best day of the week, even in a hurricane that they're calling a nor'easter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three Thing Thursday: The Storm Edition

Welcome to another edition of Three Thing Thursday, where I share three four things and you share three things. Or, you can share four things or five things, whatever you want, but today instead of three I'm sharing four.

That sentence above is brought to you courtesy of a serious lack of coffee this morning and a low-pressure weather system that has stalled over the county. Or is it a high-pressure system? I won't know until I've had my coffee and visited wikipedia.

This special hurricane edition is brought to you courtesy of Ida.

Oh, Ida

1. Thanks to Hurricane Ida, which they say is no longer a hurricane, we're in the midst of what the weather folks are calling a "historic nor'easter." May I say that all of the nor'easters in this area are historic, in that you can't wait for them to be history. The tide floods the yard and the wind is relentless. And the rain. Oh, the rain.

2. It's Wednesday morning as I write this. Ordinarily I'd be at my paying job, but it's a holiday. (Can you hear my cries of joy and ecstasy?) Because there's a good chance our current will go out, I'm queuing this post up early. Winds are supposed to reach 50 miles per hour, and we're already well on our way to that number.

3. "Current" is the old-timey way of saying "electricity" around these parts. My mother utters it without batting an eye, and now I do too. So, in anticipation of losing current, I wrote this post well in advance. If you don't hear from me for a while, I'm treading water and trying to hook up a generator. Chesapeake Bay Woman doesn't have the patience or knowledge to hook up a curling iron, so hooking up a generator ought to be something. Else.

4. Or, the weather forecasters will be wrong, once again, and tomorrow it will be bright, sunny and 75 degrees.

Either way, I still don't know how to hook up a generator.

Now it's your turn. Please share three--or more--things, whatever you want, anything at all. Be sure to include step-by-step instructions for hooking up a curling iron generator.

(Those instructions can be separate from your three or more things. Thank you.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The General

These crab pots and that flag live down Onemo at the public landing.

Today is Veterans Day which has little to do with crab pots but does have a little something to do with the flag. Based on my proclivity for rambling, however, by the time this post is over with I'm liable to have linked crab pots with veterans, so let's not rule out a connection just yet.

My paternal grandfather was known as The General in Mathews County where he retired, but his grandchildren called him Gus. Both names were not exactly on the mark - he was a Brigadier General and his first name was Gustave. (Hence my mother's hesitation at awarding her goose that name. However, both had a Take Charge Attitude, so she acquiesced. The family name lives on in a fiery-tempered goose with his own Facebook page.)

Gus graduated from West Point in 1920 and was stationed everywhere from San Francisco to the Phillipines. I have pictures of him on Corregidor in 1929 and the German freighter Kulmerland off Singapore in 1930. There are stories of him rubbing elbows with This President or That Very Important Person, and he certainly had a long list of impressive military accomplishments.

But what I remember about Gus doesn't involve his career, which he rarely referenced. What I remember is how he called us his Vikings. (Probably because we were blond-haired kids who ran amok like savages. No offense to any present-day Vikings out there, but they did have a reputation for destruction. On the other hand, they were excellent explorers and navigators who later established a successful football franchise in Minnesota.)

Ordinarily an aloof man, he greeted his grandchildren with bear hugs whenever we saw him. His military career prevented him from seeing his own 3 boys grow up, so as if making up for lost time he cherished every visit. In later years, he'd tear up after hugging us goodbye, even though we were only going next door. Just next door.

What I appreciate most about Gus, though, were the life lessons he instilled in his grandchildren. Refusing to sit still during his retirement, he started a daffodil farm and hired us as his farm hands every spring. Although the work was hard, the rewards have lasted a life time.

After living all over the world, Gus retired to bucolic Mathews County in 1954. If not for him, I wouldn't know this peaceful paradise. Impressive military career notwithstanding, Gus knew and appreciated the gifts that abound in this charming coastal community, and he understood the importance and beauty of connecting with the natural world.

He was a very wise man.

p.s. Regarding crab pots and their relevance to Veterans Day, here's the connection: Without my grandfather--the veteran--I wouldn't live in Mathews, which has a history of watermen--who use crab pots. See?

p.s.s.t. Chesapeake Bay Viking has a certain ring to it.

p.q.r.s. What do you remember about your grandfather(s), assuming you knew him/them?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Although I'd like to say this is a picture of a lovely old boathouse or some sailboats, or that it's a study in horizontal and vertical lines, the fact of the matter is we're here today to talk about dinghies. This shot, taken from last weekend's Urbanna Oyster Festival, shows all the hazards and humiliations associated with dinghy riding.

In case you're not familiar with the term, a dinghy is a small vessel which transports people from their boat to shore without having to pull the boat up to a slip. You can just toss the anchor overboard and pray you and your big-boned frame make it to shore in a toy raft .

In the photo above, the dinghy is that postage-stamp-sized raft getting ready to capsize transporting those nice folks from the mainland to the bottom of Urbanna Creek their boat anchored off shore.

Although dinghies do serve a purpose, you won't catch me in one any time soon. No siree.

Problem #1 with dinghies is my inability to say the word with any degree of seriousness. Dinghy. Say it again. Dinghy. Say it three times in a row with mucho gusto and tell me it's not funny. Then imagine some suave captain beckoning to a lady friend, "Hello there, would you like to take a ride in my dinghy?" I don't think so. It's just not dignified.

Problem #2? Dingies are way too small. Just look at those poor people pictured above. Any moment now the bow end of that raft is going to buckle under due to way too many people in the boat and that lovely lady in the green vest is going to be pulling seaweed from her epiglottis.

There are other problems with dinghies including lack of horsepower, but until I can move beyond #1 and #2 above, the horsepower thing is irrelevant.

Now, let me share an excerpt from my friend Wikipedia on the topic of dinghies and their lifesaving capabilities:

"On yachts shorter than 10 meters there is usually not enough room for a reasonably sized dinghy. A dinghy is useful to avoid the need for expensive dock or slip space, so owners of small yachts compromise by carrying a small rigid dinghy or deflated inflatable, or by towing a larger dinghy. Space can be saved by storing items in containers or bags that are tied to the dinghy. Dinghies are sometimes used as lifeboats." (!)

(!) Based on what I see above, if I were in need of saving and the choice was to hop on a dinghy or swim to shore, I believe I'd be swimming. And pulling seaweed from my epiglottis--happily.

Have you ever been on a dinghy? Do you think these people made it to their boat without going topsy turvy? Does a sillier word than dinghy exist? If so, what is it?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oyster Festival

Little Known Facts from the 2009 Urbanna Oyster Festival

1. Above is a picture of the parking lot at the Oyster Festival. Seriously. It was a freshly harvested soybean field. Once we parked the car here, we gathered our belongings and walked fourteen miles four miles four hours until we crossed the bridge into the quaint little town of Sacramento Urbanna.

2. After walking for four days to California for so long, a person can work up an appetite. Good thing. Because there are forty two thousand forty two hundred food booths selling everything from roasted corn to kettle corn, deep fried pickles and deep fried feet.

3a. After you exhaust yourself walking and eating fried feet everything, there's a parade. If it's Friday, then it's the fireman's parade, which is basically sirens, firetrucks, sirens, bleeding ears, red lights, sirens, more trucks and permanent brain ear damage. If it's Saturday, then it's marching bands, classic cars, throbbing temples, hair of the dog, dancing with life-sized oysters and Noe Noe Girl running out to join the hillbilly portion of the parade. If it's Sunday, the Oyster Festival is over but the parades live on courtesy of flashbacks You Tube and the internet.

3b. Big Hair Envy has the cutest father ever invented.

4. The best oysters in the universe are served not at the Urbanna Oyster Festival but down Bavon at Ann Marie's Restaurant. She was brave enough to invite us to her house Saturday night after the parades and the hairy dogs and the marching bands and the forty thousand mile walk food booths. She served up fried fish, The World's Best Fried Oysters (with just a little help from Gene Autry), cole slaw, macaroni salad, hush puppies, succotash and deviled eggs--so good it'd make you run next door and smack your mamma, assuming she lives next door and in my case she does. Then we were treated to live entertainment which included singing, dancing and dogs dressed up as squirrels. I promise I am not making this up.

Then we stuffed ourselves into the car, drove forty two thousand miles home, made a few crank phone calls, went to bed and woke up Sunday morning ill prepared to say goodbye to the Oyster Festival.

In short, the weekend can be summed up as follows:

Noe Noe Girl: "It ought to be illegal to have that much fun."
Chesapeake Bay Woman: "In some states it is."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Silent Sunday

Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.
Elbert Hubbard

Hold a true friend with both your hands.
Nigerian Proverb

It is the friends that you can call at 4 a.m. that matter.
Marlene Dietrich

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
Alice Walker

No man can be happy without a friend, nor be sure of his friend till he is unhappy.
Thomas Fuller

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Window

Above is a picture I took from the road going down to Bethel Beach. Thank goodness for zoom lenses which help a person avoid trespassing take a picture.

Click on the image to see the details, but my favorite part is the window about midway down.

In unrelated news, we survived the Oyster Festival thus far.

Mental P Mama wore red cowboy boots and was front and center for the fireman's parade.

None of us can hear a daggone thing though, thanks to permanent ear damage from all the screaming sirens.

Have a great Saturday.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Oyster Festival

Here we have some wet sand, some pebbles and a few oyster shells on Haven Beach.

Today marks the beginning of the Urbanna Oyster Festival.

The following bloggers will be in attendance, and most of them will be spending the night at The Loony Bin Casa de Chesapeake Bay Woman.

(This means that CBW has spent the past 48 hours furiously scraping PAG--permanently adhered gunk-- from her icebox, kitchen floor, bathroom ceiling, face, and front porch. Yes, she's been on a mad cleaning panic frenzy.)

Mental P Mama is driving all the way from Connecticut with a slight detour to Charlottesville. As an added bonus,she's bringing BC Powder and red cowboy boots.

Big Hair Envy has worried about all the details and kept us straight, just as she did for Blog Fest.

Noe Noe Girl is bringing her warm smile, her wonderful husband and son. Can't wait to see them.

Ann Marie is very graciously hosting a fish fry for us on Saturday even though she's been to Hell Neck Road and back the past week or so. (There really is a Hell Neck Road, it's in Gloucester.) Something tells me that the Bavon area of the county will never be the same, and I can't wait.

Mom x 2 will be joining us on Saturday. It will be great to see her again and introduce her to the fine art of a new form of music called Wonky Tonk.

If anyone in Urbanna this weekend sees several grown women in crab hats busting a gut laughing you'll know to turn and run away as fast as you can we've arrived.

For all Oyster Fest attendees, I'd like to reiterate the very important safety rules published on the Oyster Festival website. Please take heed:

Your safety while at the Oyster Festival is important to all of us here in Urbanna. Please comply with the following festival safety rules:


No pets (unless they are well-behaved crabs firmly attached to your hat*).

No private golf carts (as if*) and/or ATV type vehicles (well, OK, I can see that being hazardous *) within the town festival limits (placing a limit on festivities seems cruel and unusual to me*).

No alcoholic beverages (insert sound of crickets chirping here*)

No water taxis will be operating. (We have water taxis? -again with the crickets-*)

The use of the Upton’s Point Marina dinghy dock is available. (Thank heavens!*)

*The Oyster Festival website did not include these parenthetical remarks but should have.

If I don't do anything else while I'm there, I'm going to stop by that dinghy dock and see why it's important that dinghy docks be available at an Oyster Festival.

Now, for those of you who don't give one spat about an Oyster Festival and its accompanying dinghy docks, golf carts, firemen's parades and oyster shucking contests, please answer one or all of the following questions:

* What was the best part of your week?
* What was the worst part?
* If you could go anywhere in the world for a week, with no worries about money, responsibilities, obligations, etc., where would you go, what would you do and who would you take with you?

Have a great weekend, and be safe. This is Chesapeake Bay Woman reporting live from Mathews County in the hours preceding the Bloggers Festival of Hysterical Laughing Oyster Festival. Be sure to tune in later this weekend for more details if I survive them all as they become available.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

A week or so ago the devil was beating his wife, which is to say that the sun was shining during a rain shower. Such a combination almost always guarantees a rainbow like the one just barely visible above. If you can't see it, don't worry, because this train of thought is getting ready to change tracks, and rainbows aren't even remotely involved. If you do not have ADD now, you will before this post is over.

Welcome to the Three Ring Circus Three Thing Thursday, where we share three (or more) things: our complaints; worries; successes; brain cobwebs contents; random thoughts, kitchen sinks-- anything at all.

Let's begin.

1. Saturday night was Halloween. Today is Wednesday, the Wednesday after Halloween. On my ride home from Hades work as I rounded Cobbs Creek corner, I saw outdoor Christmas lights. A fluke, I thought. But no. Another house further down past Blakes had a Christmas tree all lit up inside the house, visible from the road. We've hardly wiped off all the Halloween makeup. Did Thanksgiving drop off the calendar this year? (p.s. Without naming neighbors, there are some folks who leave their tree up year 'round. Right in front of the picture window. Amazingly, I'm not referring to myself in this instance.)

2. Dear friend Grandma J. took off on a road trip to California, and we never heard from her again, except for one e-mail that said she was sick and another which specified the casket she wanted from the selection now offered at Wal-Mutant. (She said something about wanting the Virgin of Guadalupe model.) Naturally we were concerned for her well-being, but she posted to her blog yesterday and was talking about UFO's abducting armadillos or armadillos hijacking UFO's, so all is well in the land of Grandma J. Whew.

3. The leaves are really pretty here now, but they're hanging by their fingernails to the trees. One good, steady clip of wind from a nor'easter or a cold front and all those leaves will be gone. I love summer, spring is good, fall is OK, but the cold, stark and dark winters are not my cup of glee.

Now it's your turn. Tell me three things, tell me thirty three things, tell me whatever you want. No rules, no requirements, just sally forth and tally ho. Whatever that means.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Above is a work boat just off of Gwynn's Island near the mouth of the Piankatank River. That's Deltaville in the background.

Below is some history about watermen from the book "Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay," by William W. Warner.

"Captain John Smith, discoverer of the Chesapeake, was responsible. His exuberant broadsides on a land with 'the prerogative over the most pleasant places of Europe, Asia, Africa or America' found ready ears among the restless yeomanry of Stuart England. Adventurers invested and settlers came rapidly. Within a few generations of Jamestown's unpromising start, brick manor houses dotted the shorelines of the large and delightsome navigable rivers...

...There also came some called watermen. The term is a curious one; its history, puzzling. The Oxford Dictionary first finds use of the word around 1400...By 1549 there is reference to a Tudor squire who "did bye of John Mareyn, Waterman, oon hunderith and syxe bussels of oysters.'

...Today 'waterman' has limited and archaic use in England. It is heard mainly around the first of August, when the London Fishmonger's Company sponsors an annual Waterman's Race......Why the word took firm root on this continent only along the shores of the Chesapeake is a matter of speculation...But whatever its local origins, the word soon came to be used more generally in the Chesapeake country to separate those who had the resources to acquire land and those who didn't and went out on the waters for subsistence. That it has endured so strongly suggests that the distinction is still sharp. To hear today's watermen tell it, at least, it most certainly is.

"My father raised me a waterman and it's all that I know how to do," they will say. "Follow the water one year same as the next. Ain't no sense in it, but I do it just the same."

By this the listener is to understand that the Chesapeake waterman has much the harder way, an unpredictable existence, he will insist, that offers no real security.

Only those who acquire the smart of it and follow it strong may get by."
(pp. 62-63)

Watermen define Mathews County, and I could write a book on this subject alone. When I was coming along, a man could earn a highly respectable living on the water. Over the years, for a number of reasons--most of which are out of their control--fewer and fewer watermen endure.

Thankfully there are some who persevere and who graciously agree to take boatloads of ladies out for cruises in their spare time. (By the way, spare time to a waterman is called sleep).

Although there's no time to get into it today, the book goes on to talk about how the earliest watermen were folks who wanted to get away from the mainstream, so they settled in marshlands at the mouths of rivers, in places that were..

"full of convicts, bugs, muskeetoes (sic), worms of every sort both land and water, spiders, snakes, hornets, wasps, sea nettles, ticks, gnats, thunder and lightning, excessive heat, excessive cold, and other irregularities in abundance."

Welcome to Guinea, where convicts exist in abundance.

Welcome to Mathews, where irregularities exist in abundance

And where sadly the waterman is on the endangered species list.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Farmhouse

Once upon a time,
In a place far away,
Lived a tiny little county
On the Chesapeake Bay.

A husband and wife
From way far from here,
Determined that Mathews
Was where they must steer.

They lived another life
In a place far away,
Their house it was modern
In every way.

The Husband loved fishing
And worshipped the water,
The Wife loved her horses
And saddles and halters.

One day on a whim
They decided to buy
A lonely old farmhouse
Sight unseen, on the fly.

When he travelled to Mathews
To put down the money,
The husband took pictures
To send to his honey.

As she stared at the photos
He'd sent by e-mail,
She spotted A Something
That caused her to wail flail.

The yard contained tombstones
Resembling a cemetery,
Although not a deal breaker
She did become wary think it was scary.

And then one more thing
When the Husband walked through,
There were very low ceilings
And only one loo.

The couple determined
That this was not bad,
But the one thing discovered
That did make them sad

Was the fact that the house had no kitchen. Seriously.

The End.


Once upon a time,
Not so long ago,
Someone wished to retire
In a place called Onemo.

They've put down a contract
On a very old house,
That hopefully will satisfy
Both Him and His Spouse.

May the one or twelve quirks
Of our quaint little county,
Not discourage them away
From all of our bounty.

Such as crickets, mosquitoes
And one or two crabs,
And herons and snakes
And those fiddler crabs.

To the Couple Who's Moving
From parts far away,
We welcome you happily,
To the Chesapeake Bay.

p.s. This is really the end.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Here is a lovely old window from an outbuilding down Onemo very close to the post office. It was all I could do to keep myself from running over and taking a quick peek inside.

Speaking of quick peeks, let's take a gander at two interesting tidbits from last Thursday's Gazette Journal, our local paper.

Headline: Punkin Chunkin planned for November 7

(Yes, that's right, a good ole fashioned punkin chunkin. Now I'll stop interrupting and get on with the article, already in progress.)

"Once Halloween is over, what should you do with your Jack-o'-Lantern? Just chuck it--from a giant catapult that is. Kingston Episcopal Parish, in cooperation with Belmont Pumpkin Farm, will hold its annual Punkin Chunkin from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Belmont Pumpkin Farm on North River Road, North.

A trebuchet, a medieval catapult, will be on site at the fall festival...Those who don't have their own pumpkins can pay $1 to fling one of the season's leftover pumpkins into the field. Admission is $4 per person or $12 per family."

On the next page, there is an advertisement for Pet World in Gloucester Point:

1 Dozen Crickets
1 coupon per customer
Expires 11/5/09.

I'm not sure which image is more disturbing and perplexing: forking over money to hurl rotting pumpkins through the air with a medieval catapult, or paying hard-earned money for crickets, which I always thought were (a) free and (b) not something you'd want even if they were free and (c) have I been sitting on a cash crop of insects all along? I could be selling crickets? People pay money for crickets? People clip coupons to avoid paying money for crickets? My house basement is a veritable gold mine.

And where do I get one of these medieval catapults? Does Wal-Mutant carry them? I think I've just come up with a new way to earn money, aside from this cricket gig: charging money for families to catapult fiddler crabs through the air. It will be big fun for the families and may help reduce the herds population of crabs infesting my yard.

What other ways could we capitalize on this notion of peddling insects and/or decomposing vegetables?

And again, I ask you, where does one purchase a medieval catapult?

In summary, then, today's post touches on windows, a desire to trespass and look inside somebody's window, punkins, chunkin some punkins, crickets for free, clipping coupons for free crickets, and a partridge in a pear tree new business proposition involving midieval catapults and fiddler crabs.

Welcome to life in Mathews and Life in Mathews, where anything goes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Silent Sunday

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many;
not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
Charles Dickens

Most true happiness comes from one's inner life, from the disposition of the mind and soul.
Admittedly, a good inner life is difficult to achieve, especially in these trying times.
It takes reflection and contemplation and self-discipline.
William Shirer

I can't believe it's November already. Tomorrow it's Christmas and the next day it's July 4th. Can we slow this ride down just a tad? I'm getting dizzy.
-Chesapeake Bay Woman