Friday, April 30, 2010

Miss Mathews

Here we have a photo from historic Abingdon Episcopal Church of a lovely bench nestled in some very lovely flowers in a patch of very nice sunlight, but enough of that because GUESS WHAT I have a very exciting announcement to make and it's this:

We're having a Mini Impromptu Blog Fest this weekend thanks to Meg from Soup is not a Finger Food, and Big Hair Envy, and Noe Noe Girl, and Ann Marie who are coming to my house Saturday for wine followed by some wine refreshments before heading to Mathews High School at 7:00 for the Womanless Beauty Pageant fundraiser for Relay for Life/American Cancer Society.

Please. If you are within driving distance, please come Saturday night. Not only will you be supporting a good cause, you'll also laugh yourself silly.

Plus I'd like to show you the fruit of all my days hours of hard labor without the benefit of an epidural or Lamaze: the birth of this womanless woman known as Bayman, aka "Miss Grimstead."

Purple glitter and spandex will be involved.

If you have any questions about glitter or spandex the event, or if you're struggling to understand coconut bras the meaning of life, e-mail me at

I will definitely take pictures but dial-up internet and problems with my computer may preclude my posting them before next week, which will be approximately the same time I recover from all this.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were at a show where men were dressed up as women competing in a talent segment, what would you enjoy seeing them do that could be classified as PG-13?

Hypothetically speaking, does "one size fits all" include all sizes of men when fishnet hose the item in question is made exclusively for women?

p.s. Tonight fellow Mathews County blogger, Miss Mermaid, becomes Mrs. Mermaid on a very special piece of Mathews County land. Congratulations, Lady Mermaid. Watch out for the fiddler crabs, they are killer down that neck of the woods and will latch onto you like clip earrings.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Three Things

Every Thursday here in Crazyville Chesapeake Bay Woman's world we have what's known as a three ring circus Three Thing Thursday, where she I share three things and you share three things, whatever you want. Anything at all.

Let's begin.

1. The photo above from Bethel Beach is not of some mutant/hybrid seal-iguana-snake-alligator looking thing. That is a piece of driftwood which happens to look like some sort of mutant/hybrid seal-iguana-snake-alligator looking thing.

2. Oh my goodness gracious. Oh my goodness gracious sakes alive. As the talent manager of one of the participants in Saturday's Relay for Life womanless beauty pageant, I can assure you that anyone under the beams of the Harry Ward Auditorium will be screaming with laughter that night.

3. Today as I was leaving the paying job I rolled my sun roof back. A hawk flew so close overhead he cast a shadow on my forehead dashboard. For a not so fleeting moment I worried wondered about the possibility of some big bird swooping down, sticking its claws in my rat's nest frizzy hair and pulling me through the sun roof. But only for the whole commute home a fleeting moment.

Now it's your turn to share three (or more) things.

Whatever you want. Anything at all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Relay for Life

Once upon a time, Chesapeake Bay Woman had a friend called Bayman.

Bayman is the sort of person who'd give you the shirt off his back in a snowstorm and then ask if you also wanted his shoes and socks. He'd do anything for anybody.

One day, Chesapeake Bay Woman was sitting innocently at a lacrosse game, when a person we shall call Miss Kathy asked for suggestions of local men to participate in a Womanless Beauty Pageant as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Chesapeake Bay Woman, who loves these sorts of brainstorming games, spewed off about 120 20 names, one of which was Bayman's.

Bayman has a close relative fighting cancer, and the event--in which men dress up as women and compete in a beauty pageant which includes formal attire, a talent competition and a swimsuit event--benefits cancer research. So I thought he'd be a good choice. Plus, I want to see him in a dress and high heels.

This was the look on Bayman's face when Miss Kathy asked if he would please dress up as a woman and dance to an Isley Brothers song strut around on stage to benefit cancer research:

But after he thought about it for a moment and realized it was for such a good cause, he jumped right in the manicure chair right on the powder puff band wagon.

The "Miss Relay" womanless beauty pageant will be held this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Mathews High School in the Harry Ward Auditorium, not to be confused with any other auditorium because there is only one.

Former professional football player Stuart Anderson will also be wearing a dress, people! participating in the pageant. Folks, this is a sight you will not want to miss is going to be fun!

Tickets are $10 at the door, and of course donations are always accepted. Checks should be made to Relay for Life and can be sent to Miss Kathy Gwyn, 17542 John Clayton Memorial Highway, Mathews, VA 23109.

In addition to serving as Bayman's agent, choreographer, make-up artist, wardrobe expert, Isley Brothers fan who knows just the song to play for the talent competition manicurist, pedicurist, stylist and talent manager, Chesapeake Bay Woman will be videotaping the event, provided she can (a) find her video camera (b) charge the battery (c) find the battery (d) figure out how to use it, all of which means that (e) Chesapeake Bay Son best be comin' along to handle the videotaping.

The End.

p.s. Does anyone know where a person such as Bayman might locate high-heeled dress shoes in a man's size 12? With all the freaks who shop at the Gloucester Wal Mutant (no offense to freaks folks from Gloucester), I'm thinking that might be the best place for him to start. Of course we don't have any place to buy shoes in Mathews unless you count horse shoes and even then you have to call in a special person.

p.s.s.t Big Hair Envy? Noe Noe? This might be the weekend for a sleepover in Mathews.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nellie and Bill

These pictures are from the Gloucester Court Green. Above is the Clayton Building, which houses artifacts recovered from John Clayton's home and old office site. Below is the entrance to the court green, still sporting her spring finery.

Gloucester is where my mother's family comes from. Her grandfather, the blacksmith at Flat Iron, had three daughters and one son. One of the daughters was my favoritest* grandmother. Another is Great Aunt Nellie, who turns 85 today. In four days her husband Bill, who was her high school sweetheart, will be 93.

Aside from my mother, Nellie is the closest living relative to my favoritest* grandmother. She looks a lot like my mother, but she sounds exactly like my grandmother. Even though she hasn't lived here for decades, she retains that beautiful Tidewater accent. Her laugh is distinctive and contagious; thankfully every interaction with her is full of it.

Nellie and Bill, as I said, were high school sweethearts. Although they intended to marry in their youth, they didn't. They lived separate lives, married other people, had families, and carried on. But some how or another after their spouses passed away, they reconnected and finally married in 1999 . They are a most remarkable couple.

Bill is a published author, and the epilogue in his first book does a grand job of illustrating their philosophy on life:

Chapter 25


How does that look for a headline in your local newspaper? No kidding! I have told Nellie we should get in on these good deals for homes where the banks have foreclosed on so many loans, especially in Florida. My better sense tells me it would be foolish to take on a 30-year mortgage at my age, but one can't help thinking about it. In actuality, the lenders look at income, estate assets, and protection during probate, and we should qualify on all accounts. What is 92, anyway, but just a number.

Secrets to a Long Life?

We have just received our latest drivers' licenses, and we have applied for a new passport to get ready for our new adventure. The license is good for six years, and the passport for ten, so it isn't as if we're hanging it up for good. Actually, I am looking forward to a few more years, for I have a few more places to visit, a few more sights to see, a few more acquaintances to make, and most importantly sharing them all with Miss Nellie. As long as the both of us continue with our good fortune to enjoy relatively good health, traveling seems to be good for us, injecting an anticipation which may very well be the "Fountain of Youth."

There is much more of his story to share, but I'll save it for another time. Right now, I'd like to share something Chesapeake Bay Mother wrote in honor of their birthdays:
"Two important members of the Chesapeake Bay Family are celebrating birthdays this month. It marks the 93rd year for Uncle Leon E. "Bill" Braxton, Lt. Col. USAF, Ret., whose second book is imminent. Born in a hand built house, completely composed of local lumber and materials, he arrived one of nine children to be born on Chicken Foot Lane, Cumberland County, North Carolina. Bill achieved and gloried in life to the fullest and continues to amaze us.

For Aunt Nellie Pearl Berger Braxton, we toast her 85th year of living in complete love and grace. She unfailingly calls her nieces and nephews, who have lost their parents, to tell us how special we are and to always say, "I love you." Her oldest sister claimed she was born small enough to fit in the teapot (hopefully the rivalrous siblings didn't try to stuff her in one) and was the cutest baby ever.

Happiest of birthdays and bon voyage, if you go to Italy! We so admire and love you both!"
-CB Mother

Uncle Bill and Aunt Nellie, thank you for being such an inspiration and for helping us see that there really is such a thing as true love. - CBW

*Favoritest is indeed a word.

Bill's book is called From the Cockpit to the Classroom, An Only-in-America Saga from the Depression-Era Cotton Fields of North Carolina Through the Skies of World War II to a University Professorship, by Lt. Colonel Leon E. "Bill"Braxton, USAF, Retired, with Capt. Arthur H. Wagner, USCG, Retired. His second book is about to be published. Did I mention he turns 93 this week?

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Best Policy

Friday morning I took a spin down Knight Woods road and was compelled by the morning light to photograph this house. When I got out of the car, a most unexpected and sudden thing happened for a chilly, spring Mathews morning: mosquitoes descended like the plague the flying monkeys on the Wizard of Oz.

Out of nowhere they came, with a vengeance. Relentless they were. Bigger than buzzards.

Speaking of old houses but not necessarily of winged monkeys or buzzards, the other day I alluded to a story involving the Chesapeake Bay Children, me, the law and a stroke. I've been meaning to relay this story for a while but never seem to have time to breathe accomplish what I set out to do.

Once upon a recent Sunday, I forced the Chesapeake Bay Children to ride with me to Bethel Beach. The weather was warm and the sunlight was perfect for photographs.

On our way they tolerated a few stops here and there for the occasional photo of dead houses barely noticeable to the human eye visible from the road and certainly not something most people stop to pay attention to.

But they're accustomed to these sorts of pit stops. Usually they roll their eyes and say something like, "Oh no, Mom. Again?"

On the way to Bethel, I told them about a shack in the middle of the woods on the left as you approach the beach. I described a grass-covered access off the paved road which would allow us to pull in under cover of dense pine trees and vegetation which hides everything, up to and including the shack I wanted to photograph.

Here's how that conversation went:

Chesapeake Bay Mother: "Oh, yeah. I want to show y'all this beautiful old shack in the woods here. All I have to do is pull right in here and it's right over there." (I gesture randomly towards an area that appears to be nothing but trouble a thicket.)

CB Children: "Oh no, Mom. Again?"

CB Mother: "It's OK. It's right over there."

CB Son, demonstrating sound judgment: "Mom, no. I don't think so."

CB Mother: "I've done this before, it's fine. We're down here in the middle of nowhere, the car is hidden, and the shack is right over there (gesturing towards nothing but dense vegetation, poison ivy, and briars). The lighting is perfect. This will only take a minute, and I'd really like you all to see it."

CB Children: Cut glances at each other and make a pact never to go anywhere with their mother again.

CB Mother: Parks the car under thick brush and pine trees. Leads the children a few steps towards the shack, which is hidden in a very dense Amazon Jungle forest.

All of a sudden, Chesapeake Bay Mother and her trained ear could hear a car coming, but just barely.

CB Mother, without the benefit of even seeing the shack, much less sharing it with her children: " OK, let's go back to the car, kids. I hear a car approaching."

CB Son: "Oh no."

CB Daughter: "Oh, brother, not this."

CB Mother, thinking to herself but not daring to utter the words out loud: "Jeeminy mahsters Uh oh, oh no, and why does this stuff tend to happen to me?"

Then, just as she and her children were hurdling brush piles to get back to the car, right there, screeching on brakes in front of us, was a Mathews County deputy who had descended with the swiftness and ferocity of a winged monkey those unexpected mosquitoes mentioned earlier.

He was looking right at us. It's not like there was any other reason for him to stop. Deputies don't stop for fiddler crabs, and they don't stop for horseflies, sea gulls, herons or hard crabs. Those would have been the only other living beings there that day on this very remote, desolate road going into Bethel Beach.

CB Mother, with beads of sweat on her forehead and a new appreciation for Valium attention to cardiac health: "It's OK. It will be fine. I can handle this. I'm just going to tell him the truth, which is we just wanted to take some pictures of the lovely shack in these woods."

CB Daughter, with the line of the day: "The truth is always best."

CB Mother, noting to self: This child has more sense than her mother, and this is a miracle a wonderful thing.

Chesapeake Bay Woman trotted nervously with her camera held high so the law enforcement official could see. Her darling, level-headed children were trotting in lockstep behind her. She had every intention of walking up to the law enforcement officer and telling him everything because the only logical explanation was to plead insanity the truth.

But then, all of a sudden, the last possible thing imaginable happened. He took off! Just like that. He didn't even say hello. (I'm not complaining, it was just a little unusual.)

Yes indeed. Without even asking what we were doing, he left, but not after studying the whole scene carefully. He must have taken one look at a crazy frazzled, sweaty, camera-wielding woman herding children out of a dense Amazon Jungle forest and assumed, correctly, that we were not doing anything too terribly illegal awful.

Then Chesapeake Bay Woman, realizing her children have more sense than she has her luck was running thin, packed her children in the car and headed home.

The End.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Silent Sunday

A few weeks ago just before leaving for work, I glanced out the back window and saw fog burning off the creek just as the sun was rising. Even without my first gallon first cup of coffee, I had sense enough to grab the camera and capture the moment.

As I write this it's late Saturday night, too late to adequately capture the moment and explain how absolutely wonderful the John Clayton lecture was, or how well Chesapeake Bay Daughter played in her lacrosse tournament, and how much I thoroughly enjoyed both.

So instead I'll just say that I hope your Sunday is as full of promise and possibility as this sunrise.

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Clayton Exhibit

This house sits off the road that goes from Port Haywood to Onemo. I would have zoomed in a little closer to avoid that hateful chain but the car was stopped in the middle of the road and I was shooting with one hand (the other of course was on the wheel), plus another car was approaching from behind. Why does taking pictures have to be so stressful?

While we're on the topic of stress (aren't we?), remind me to tell you what happened later on after I took this picture. The law, Chesapeake Bay Children and a near stroke are all key elements of that story.

Speaking of old places (which we were, back in the first paragraph before I became sidetracked by yet another trespassing story), today at the Clayton Building on the Gloucester Court Green you can take a look at some of the artifacts unearthed by archaeologists Bob Harper and his wife Lisa, who have been working at the site of Clayton's home for five years. John Clayton, clerk of the court from 1720 to 1773, was also well known for his work in botany.

Preparations for this exhibit and the associated lectures today have not been without a case of the hiccups.

Yesterday Bob sent me an e-mail explaining that the electricity had been cut (accidentally) to the building; the power point presentation is in jeopardy due to equipment malfunction, and the building had not been cleaned for today's soiree.

Below is an excerpt from that e-mail which made me chuckle. A lot. Poor Mr. Harper has the same luck I do, which is essentially Murphy's Law no luck at all, unless you count bad luck.*

Here's how he summed up the John Clayton Exhibit preparations:

When I cross the street now and the sign says "Look Both Ways" I have to remind myself that really means up and down because the ground might inadvertently open up or a helicopter might land on me! Ah, the joys of public speaking! Thanks for all your blog on Clayton and now when I ask "Who Cares About John Clayton?," I can say, me and eight other people instead of seven! If you come bring all the guests you want and please, please, please come up and introduce yourself to me. Hope you can be there. Bob

I can't wait to meet my long lost kin him and will indeed be there early.

The exhibit will be open all day, and there will be lectures at 2:00 and 7:00. I'll be attending the 2:00 session and will be the one who looks as though she's doing anything except the pages of chores on her Procrastination List To Do list.

If you happen to be in the area and have some time, please stop by. BYOF. Bring your own flashlight. Just kidding! He said he has a back-up plan in the event that current isn't restored by tomorrow.

*For the two other people besides my father, and by default me, who ever watched Hee Haw, this comes straight from the song that went:

"Gloom, despair and agony on me;
deep dark depression, excessive misery;
if it weren't for bad luck,
I'd have no luck at all.
Gloom, despair and agony on me."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fosters Department Store

Long before Wal-Mutant came to Gloucester and quite some time before Country Casuals took up shop down past Fleets, Fosters Department Store was the place to be if you needed clothes but didn't want to go across the river to town.

That just now came back to me--that we called Newport News (the closest urban area) "town." As in, "We're going to town this weekend to shop at Nachmans or Thalhimers. Possibly Leggetts." Nowadays if you say you're going to town, people think you mean the court house, also known as the village. Interesting.

Anyway, Fosters sat directly across from Richardson's Drug Store in what is now called the Halcyon Building. Quite honestly, even though it says Halcyon Building in plain print right there in the photo, I've never, ever, never heard a soul call it the Halcyon Building.

To me, it can only be Fosters.

Fosters was a multi-level department store loaded with clothing of every possible description. But if I ever purchased anything there, I don't remember it. I didn't go there for the clothes.

What I do recall is the rich, earthy smell of that old building; the well-worn, green carpeting that went up the old wooden staircase, whose steps creaked and moaned as you climbed up; and last but not least that cash register.

The huge antique cash register at Fosters was like a museum exhibit--that was 100% functional. I'm convinced I made trips into that store just to study that piece of art. When I grew tired of that, I'd slowly ascend those steps, savoring each and every creak.

When Fosters went out of business, my number one concern was for that cash register.

I wonder where it is now.

For Mathewsonians, do you have any Fosters stories or memories? Did you also say, "going to town" to refer to Newport News? I still say "going across the river" but not "going to town." That needs to change.

For the other reader anyone else, do you have fond memories of an old department store?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Things

Is it Thursday already?

Evidently it is, and that means it's time for Three-Thing Thursday, where I share three things and you share three things--whatever you want, anything at all.

Here we go.

1. That picture above is from Bethel Beach before things started turning fly-infested green around here. What I find particularly interesting is the lack of bird-sized insects sky formation that looks like mountains just above the horizon.

1(b) Mountains and Mathews County are antonyms; the closest mountains are about three hours away unless you count Mt. Laundrest, elevation 2,387 feet, which rises straight up from my laundry room floor (if I had a laundry room). Neither man nor beast has ever survived attempts to scale this Bermuda Triangle of mountains. Socks People Things go in, but they don't come out.

2. I don't have the luxury of watching much TV, and if I do it isn't until I'm halfway comatose after tending to bare-bone tasks such as breathing, eating, acknowledging children, paying bills, losing bills, forgetting things, taking a bath, and writing blog posts.

2 (b) When TV is an option, my new favorite show, which is anything but new since I'm watching reruns from earlier in this century, is The Office.

2 (c) Since Columbus sailed the ocean blue 1987 I've worked in an office environment, counseled supervisors and employees in an office environment, and likened the office environment to an adult kindergarten. The show does a great job of capturing all that ridiculousity.*

3. Today I must squirrel myself away at the Mathews Memorial Library. There is a project that requires my utter and complete focus. It was due in March. It's now almost May.

3 (b) Hopefully while I'm there I can use their internet to access Facebook to delete some spam which, according to sources, is on my wall.

3 (c) I can't access Facebook from home due to my computer that has the technical capabilities of a Singer sewing machine, circa Ben Franklin 1903. Also, am I the only one who wonders when "spam on my wall" became anything but a can of processed meat improperly placed in one's home environment?

Now it's your turn.

Please share three things
or four things;
two things
or more things.

Whatever you want. Anything at all.

* Yep, it's a word. You'll find it in the dictionary right after "favoritest."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

S&H Green Stamps

This sign is in Hudgins at Bill Dixon's old service station, the very same service station where we waited in long lines during the gas crisis of the '70s. Although the service station shut down a long time ago, the S&H sign still stands proudly, winking at me every time I drive by.

S&H green stamps remind me of one person and one person only.

My favoritest* grandmother from Gloucester was one of the thriftiest people I've ever known. On a very fixed, very limited income, she scrimped and saved every last penny she earned, so this whole green stamp thing--a way to get stuff for free--was right up her alley.

Whenever she went to the grocery store, she received green stamps which she'd tuck away neatly in her purse that then was tucked neatly on her arm as we walked the couple of miles through Gloucester Court House to her house on Corr Street, by the old Boutetourt High School.

Once home, I'd be stuck licking the daggone things and pasting them in the little booklet. If enough were accumulated, you could redeem them for stuff you didn't really need housewares or other items from a catalog.

I seem to recall dishes and silverware being acquired, but I could be confusing that with another store promotion, like the ones at the end of the aisle where there was a "plate of the week" that you had to buy to match the "saucer of the week" you just couldn't pass up earlier in the month, and before too long you were up to your earballs in junk of the week dinnerware.

Speaking of catalogs, who didn't love the Sears and Roebuck and JC Penney catalogs around here in the '70s? My sisters and I lived for those things. Montgomery Ward was another good one. This is a topic for another day, though.

Anyway, I was stuck licking those green stamps for the coupon book, while she took out every single item purchased at the grocery store to double- and triple-check the math on the receipt. She owned several stores earlier in life, including one at Flat Iron and one at the current Ware Academy, and there was no way she was going to let an error on the tab slide. As I said, every penny counted.

In the mean time, I'd be starved half to death, mouth drooling, hoping for one taste of something that came out of that grocery bag, but couldn't touch or open anything until she checked the math. Sheer torture for a bottomless pit growing tomboy.

Whenever I drive by Bill Dixon's and see this sign, I'm reminded of starving to death waiting for her to check the math on the cash register receipt my favoritest* grandmother and her ability to stretch a dollar from here to Alaska. She loved those stamps.

For some factual data on S&H Green Stamps, here's what my friend Wikipedia has to say:

"S&H Green Stamps' (also called Green Shield Stamps) were a form of trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry and Hutchinson company (S&H), founded during 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson.

During the 1960s, the rewards catalog printed by the company was the largest publication in the U.S. and the company issued three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, which could be redeemed for products in the catalog.

Sperry & Hutchinson began offering stamps to U.S. retailers during 1896. The retail organizations that distributed the stamps (primarily supermarkets, gasoline filling stations, and shops) bought the stamps from S&H and gave them as bonuses to shoppers based on the dollar amount of a purchase. The stamps—-issued in denominations of one, ten, and fifty "points"—-were perforated with a gummed reverse, and as shoppers accumulated the stamps they moistened the reverse and mounted them in collectors books, which were provided free by S&H. Shoppers could then exchange filled books for premiums, including housewares and other items, from the local Green Stamps store or catalog."

Do you remember S&H Green Stamps?

How about the JC Penney or Sears & Roebuck catalog? Was it just us freaks folks in Mathews who went hog wild over them?

*Yes, favoritest.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Town Crier

This is the bell at Mathews Baptist Church (aka Old Baptist) at Hudgins. This particular day I had pulled into the parking lot more interested in the neighboring house's wisteria than the church, but the sunlight hit the bell so beautifully I couldn't resist snapping a shot.

Mathews Baptist Church and wisteria are topics for another time, there's plenty to say about both.

Today, however, I would like to make a few general announcements.

Consider this a Town Crier post, where the crier is exceedingly tired which of course guarantees her writing will have you crying before too long.

My apologies in advance, it's been a long life day.

Hear ye! Hear ye! Oyez! Oyez!

1. On Saturday, April 24, there will be a grand opening of an expanded exhibit at the Clayton Building on the Historic Court Circle in Gloucester.

The building honors botanist John Clayton and is home to a collection of artifacts from his residence, Windsor, and his office. The exhibit will be open from 10-4 and 6-7. Lectures at 2 and 7 p.m. (I'll be attending the 2:00 lecture if anyone wants to join me. )

Archaeologists Robert and Lisa Harper will be available throughout the day to answer questions. Robert recently told me they're always happy to provide tours of the site. If you are interested in a tour or wish to volunteer at the dig, please stop by on Saturday or e-mail me and I can put you in touch with him.

2. Sandpiper Reef will be hosting Toby and Larry, a very popular duo, this weekend.

The last time they played was when Miss Pookie, Mathews Mark's mother, was celebrating her birthday. I can personally attest to the fact that they're good, plus the atmosphere is conducive to old folk those of us who want to hear ourselves think wish to be able to converse while enjoying the music.

Mrs. Anonymous Hallieford Resident may not be thrilled with my mentioning this because they usually sell out, but give them a call anyway and see if there are any tables/seats left. If not, be sure to pre-reserve for next time.

If Chesapeake Bay Woman is carding at the door, be sure to slide her a telescope magnifying glass so she can properly read the fine print on those driver's licenses.

3. The Mathews Farmers Market continues every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you have even the slightest desire to sell something, I can't encourage you enough to go and try it on for size. The fee is only $5, and the Chesapeake Bay Children made $75 in only four hours of selling daffodils.

You just can't beat that. Not with a stick.

If you "bake it, make it or grow it," you can sell it there. All you have to do is show up by about 8:30 that morning, locate the organic farmers who have the gorgeous plants (both of them wear hats so it's pretty easy to spot them), and tell them you want a spot. Pay your five bucks, and have at it. It's great fun.

4. In other news, Chesapeake Bay Woman ran into a rusty clothes line this weekend while chasing after her aggravating, ornery mutt of a stinkin' dog with all the sense of a small kitchen appliance her children's beloved pet in the comfort and serenity of her very own back yard.

Although she didn't quite hang herself, she did walk away stunned and now boasts a scab on her lower left chin which, she supposes, is better than some of the other alternatives such as CBW is a magnet for disasters a scab around the larynx.

A couple of years ago, she made fun of Chesapeake Bay Son for doing the same thing and said, "How in the world could you run into a clothes line without seeing it?"

Easy, that's how.

Daggone karma dog.

What's going on in your town, village, neck of the woods, state, hemisphere, back yard or neighborhood in the near future?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mrs. Trusch

Late last week, I received the following message from someone involved in local politics:

"Marion Grey Trusch of Mathews, VA, turns 90 years old on April 21st. A retired high school government teacher, she has always prided herself on being a "Byrd Democrat" and enjoys the political debates. It's not every day that someone turns 90 so let's see how many birthday cards can brighten her day. Her address is: P.O. Box 1516, Mathews, VA 23109."

Mrs. Trusch is a living legend in Mathews County. She spent her entire life sharing her passion for government with high school students.

Although petite in stature, she came across like a giant in the classroom and never--ever-- lost control. I'll never forget the hush that came over the room on our first day of twelfth-grade government. She spoke with the authority of a drill sergeant, not allowing one person to speak unless asked to speak. Pursing her lips and tilting her chin up, she conveyed her expectations right off the bat and never wavered from those rules. Hers was definitely a zero-tolerance classroom.

But it was also the most fascinating classroom.

After that bit of business was taken care of--establishing authority--she relaxed just enough to let the flow of her never-ending river of knowledge spill forth in such a way that we sat riveted-- even those who were the worst students. She had a way of making everything about government sound interesting and important. Because to her, it was. It still is.

Mrs. Trusch made a lasting impression on generations of students. She taught my father (and the parents of my classmates) as well as my sisters at Mathews High School.

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post about seeing her at the nursing home when Chesapeake Bay Daughter and I were delivering daffodils. She looks the same as she did 30 years ago and her mind and her wit are just as sharp as ever.

Here's an excerpt from that original post:

When my daughter and I saw her, she was racing down the hallway. With our basket of flowers, we hurriedly asked her if she'd like some. "Sure," she said. "I'm in Room 15. But I'm hardly ever there."

Even in the nursing home, she's always on the go, interested in talking with other people, refusing to sit idle and never allowing the numbers on the calendar to dictate how she ought to live. She's still very much in charge.

Below is a comment on that original post from Janice Blake, a good friend and classmate of mine:

Thank you, Chesapeake Bay Woman, for this wonderful, heartfelt mention of our lady, Mrs. Marion Von Trusch! Even her name is one of distinction. Although disappointed to hear she is at a new home away from home, I am elated to hear that she is still being VonTrusch-like. I absolutely adore that woman! Thanks, from Dr. Janice Blake-Brooks (I owe her)

Mrs. Trusch turns 90 on Wednesday. If you're in the county and able, please stop by to wish her well. If you're no longer in the county but have been impacted by her incredible ability to inspire learning and a passion for government in all of her students, please send her a card.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Trusch. The depth and breadth of your impact on so many students cannot be measured or adequately captured in words, but these two are a start:

Thank you.


If you're from Mathews, do you have any Mrs. Trusch stories?

If you aren't from Mathews, who was your favorite teacher and why?

No matter where you're from, have a great Monday.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Abingdon Episcopal Church

Last Friday, the Chesapeake Bay Children and I attended a school concert at Abingdon Episcopal Church in neighboring Gloucester County.

The church itself dates back to the 1600s but this structure was built in 1755. (She says, as if she's any sort of authority. She did, however, read these dates in a book, so provided she didn't transpose the numbers--which is highly likely--she presumes they're in a close proximity of accuracy, give or take a few centuries. Either way, that's a long time ago.)

Abingdon looks almost identical to Ware Episcopal, which dates back to approximately the same period and is the sight of another school concert the Chesapeake Bay Children and I attended.

Click here to read about that episode which basically assures my Mother of the Year Award, due to arrive in the mail any day now complete with an apology letter for taking so long.

At Friday's Abingdon concert, CB Daughter and I sat in the audience while CB Son played in the hand bell choir.

It was a long performance, especially since the choir sang four thousand songs, and the hand bells (the only reason we were there) were featured only two or one three times.

Wanting to get as far away as possible from other people to distance ourselves from the throngs of spectators and gain a better view of the hand bells, Chesapeake Bay Daughter and I sat up in the balcony like birds watching everyone else down below.

The perch gave us a unique perspective, and as luck would have it I had my camera with me.

Although the interior is beautiful, the particular photos from our balcony perch turned out rather boring except for the two below which I took by zooming in close to a window behind the pulpit.

I did this while Chesapeake Bay Son was probably doing something very important, like trying to ignore the fact that his mother was in the balcony taking pictures of windows and other things completely unrelated to the concert, as he struggled to concentrate on his music.

But he's used to that. Poor guy.

The late morning sunlight shining through the windows was exquisite. And while everyone else turned their attention to the bulletin to see how many more songs before this was over the adorable children singing and the older ones playing music, Chesapeake Bay Woman kept looking at the window in the background with laser-beam focus.

(Did you know that laser-beam focus and Chesapeake Bay Woman are antonyms except when it comes to photography and then they become Siamese twins? Also yes those are tombstones in the yard outside, probably dating back to who-knows-which-century.)

The shot above is my favorite.

Chesapeake Bay Son played a wonderful cow bell set of hand bells and later went on to play one very impressive game of lacrosse, during which his mother (who does not know the rules of the game other than it's legal to hit, clobber, push and shove and why wasn't this game available to her as a kid--and can 45-year-old women play?), hollered to her son who plays the last line of defense before the goal, "WHACK HIM!"

The spectators on either side of her laughed.

She was the only one hollering. Evidently lacrosse is a very solemn, dignified game, much like being in the sanctuary of a historic church.

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Right Light

Believe it or not--in spite of all outward appearances--this beach is not in Florida or the Caribbean or some other popular tourist destination. Nope. It's here in Mathews County.

Last weekend or some weekend recently, on a hot day, I forced encouraged the Chesapeake Bay Children to get in the car because, "You WILL enjoy this!" accompany me to Bethel Beach for some Nature Appreciation 101.

(The good thing about Nature appreciation lessons? Nature does all the teaching. All I have to do is fling them onto the beach or out in the forest or in the middle of a daffodil field, and Nature takes care of everything else and asks for nothing in return.

If this is the one lasting impression I can leave on them, aside from viewing humanity and this planet as one (one planet, one people) instead of "us" vs. "them," I feel I've done my job as a human being. If I could teach them not to leave ice cream dishes under their beds and dirty socks in the yard, that would be an achievement too.)

Most times our public beaches don't quite look like this with the white sand, blue sea, and blue sky. No, often times the sand has more of a brownish hue (due to being damp) and it's covered in seaweed. Although still beautiful, they sometimes take on a drab tone, especially in the winter.

The water, at least from this vantage point, typically looks darker, with shades of green and brown. On stormy days it's gray.

But this particular day the sun scared off every bit of cloud cover, and she did her level best to highlight the water as well as the sand.

I think she did a darn fine job.

All of the above applies to us as much as it does this beach. We may weather some storms and take a beating; we may wonder if we're going to make it through the rain and heavy winds. Even without a storm, some days we may look and feel rather ordinary, perhaps forlorn.

But when the dark skies clear and the sun shines bright, we're better than ever. Sometimes we're better than we ever thought we could be.

p.s. As Chesapeake Bay Woman writes these Deep Thoughts she is deliriously tired and may even be asleep for all we know. If none of the above makes sense, just know she wishes you a happy Saturday and a life filled with mostly brochure-like beach scenes, with only the occasional storm--to make you stronger.

p.s.s. I don't know why Chesapeake Bay Woman slips back and forth from third to first person so often, but she does, and I ask you to see above about the strong possibility of being completely asleep as she writes this. She and I both thank you

But wait! One more thought/question:

Can you remember and/or describe an experience in your life which was particularly horrific at the time, but which made you stronger, with time, for having survived it?

Friday, April 16, 2010


This osprey lives on a creek down Redart, Virginia, home of the Mathews Yacht Club and not much else.

Osprey dine on freshly-caught fish. When they aren't sitting on their nests--usually in a tall riverside tree, on a man-made platform (like the one above) or atop a channel marker --they spend their days swirling over creeks, rivers and ponds in search of their next meal.

When they spot their target, they forcefully apply their air brakes, beat their wings, and hover in place before swooping down to pluck their prey from the water. Then they take off in flight with the live fish clutched in their claws as they transport dinner back to the nest.

This sounds easy, but imagine trying to take off in flight from the water bearing the additional weight of a very unhappy, wriggling fish who is desperately struggling to get away.

For that matter, imagine being a fish minding your own business in a tranquil underwater world. One minute you're casually blowing bubbles while checking out the new fish in town. The next thing you know you're plucked from the water into another universe, suspended from talons as you fly over Queens Creek on your way to the lion's den osprey's nest, where you'll be pecked and eaten alive.

Fish anyone?

Recently two osprey stories have appeared in the Gazette Journal.

The first talks about the pond near the Old Mill Skating Rink, where osprey like to do the hokey pokey and they turn themselves around, that's what it's all about to fish. Unfortunately for them, though, Route 14, also known as the Gloucester-Mathews Intercoastal Pedal to the Medal Speedway, runs very close to where they fish. Many have been struck by cars as they attempt to ascend in flight with the wriggling fish weighting them down, impairing their ability to control their flight path.

In an effort to dissuade the birds from flying across the Indianapolis Speedway Route 14, nets have been strung up, but I don't think these are working very well.

This week, there was an article about a nest catching on fire at VIMS (the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where one of my readers works). An osprey nest on top of a telephone/electrical pole evidently teetered off its perch and tumbled onto the wires igniting a blaze.

Scrambled eggs anyone?

The following groups were called to the scene of the fire, which severely damaged the osprey's ego the pole and the nest:

* Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue brush truck
* Medic unit
* Six fire/rescue personnel
* Dominion Virginia Power (aka Vepco)

The osprey, who squawked, "I'm blowin' this popsicle stand!" came away unscathed and was last seen heading hurriedly towards the vicinity of Redart, where she was told there was nothing to bother her except those loud parties and class reunions at the Yacht Club.

On this Friday, a few questions:
* Do you have any osprey stories or observations?
* Have you ever heard the expression, "Let's blow this popsicle stand"?
* Has anyone (from around here) been to the Yacht Club for anything other than the salt-water swimming pool a high school reunion?
* Did you know that three months from today, we'll be in the throes of Blog Fest 2010?
* Am I the only one tired of these questions yet?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three Things

Welcome to Three Thing Thursday, where we share three (or more) random (or related) things. Whatever you want. Anything at all.

I'll begin.

1. The house above sits patiently on a corner on the way to Haven Beach. It's also on the way to Aaron's Beach, but this particular day I was headed to Haven.

Just so you know, I deleted about another two paragraphs relating to this opening statement because it rambled on and on. On and on. Although I personally found the content amusing, I thought it best to just delete it and move on to the next subject. You're very welcome.

2. Last night I sat down to sip some $4.99 Fish Eye Merlot with a screw cap to read the Gazette Journal. Perusing the Glimpses from the Past section, I came across something which forced me to say something I've not uttered in this lifetime in a while:

"Well bust my buttons and buckle my shoes!"

There in plain print was this:

"50 Years Ago
Thursday, April 14, 1960

...Miss Mary Ann Jones, daughter of Mrs. Bernice Jones of Gloucester, was crowned Queen of the Daffodil Ball held at Gloucester High School on Saturday evening, April 9. The ball is an annual affair sponsored by the Gloucester Lions Club."

Miss M.A.J. is Chesapeake Bay Mother and Mrs. B.J. (nee Streagle) was my grandmother.

3. Thanks so much to all of you who comment here-- I truly, truly appreciate it. Although I don't always have time to say so, just know that I value and appreciate the time you spend visiting here and commenting. The comments really make my day.

3b. I would like to officially state for the record that Mrs. F. with 4, who comments here regularly, never ceases to amaze me with her hilarious remarks. I cannot thank her enough for making me laugh on such a consistent basis.

This is also a personal plea for her to please find her visa (she's from Canada) and make the trip here for Blog Fest in July. As long as she leaves her ants (with carvable rumps) behind, everything should be delightful. Actually, to demonstrate how much I'd like her to visit, I'd even welcome her mutant-sized ants with open arms if it meant she would come to Mathews County, Virginia, for a visit. Now that I've discovered the wonders of Terro, I can utter that sentence without wincing.

Now it's your turn to share three (or more) things. Anything you want.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gwynn's Island, Pre-Civil War

This view is from Gwynn's Island looking towards the Piankatank River, with Hallieford (home of Sandpiper Reef Restaurant where Chesapeake Bay Woman is the emergency, back-up, last resort bouncer) to the left and Deltaville (home of Taylor's Restaurant and its legendary seafood buffet that alas is now just a distant memory, one filled with hushpuppies, steamed shrimp and fried fish) to the right.

The Gwynns Island Museum has put together a number of incredibly informative books about the island, one of which is "Chimes from the Chesapeake: Life on Gwynn's Island Before the Civil War" by May Evergreen (pen name for Elizabeth Ellen Hill). Her family, originally from New Hampshire, bought 350 acres on the southeastern end of the island in the mid 1800s, on what was then known as Buckschase.

A quote from her articles written in the 1850s pretty well summarizes the island even today. The following is from page 1 of the book:

"...Having too much faith in humanity to fear a rude repulse from the friends of past days, I have bethought me that some few chimes from the Chesapeake might not be entirely without interest to those who are somewhat unfamiliar with this powerful daughter of old ocean.

Chesapeake, signifying "mother of the waters" according to Indian lore, is a name well befitting the broad and magnificent bay, all bright and beautiful in its tranquility, but wild and fearfully awful when the "winds are all abroad" and are working wrath and mischief upon the waters.

Turbulent and tempestuous as she may be at times, this "mother of waters" casts her arms most protectingly around our fair islet resting as a bright jewel upon her bosom.

Gwynn's Island! How many are there who never heard the name; and among those too who are reckoned the wise ones of the earth, there are very many who have ever been utterly ignorant of this locality.

To those who are fond of the minutia in detail I would say, this gem of an island stands 37 1/2 degrees north of the equator, is in Mathews County, Virginia, is separated from the main by Milford Haven, a lovely and lively limb of the Chesapeake, not more than half a mile at its narrowest portion, and is one of the prettiest sheets of water that ever sparkled in the sunbeams, or danced the tempest to the music of the wild winds."

And to that Chesapeake Bay Woman says, some 150+ years later, "Why can't Taylors bring back the seafood buffet?" "Amen."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gustav and Friends

Here is my mother's killer goose, Gustav, frolicking amongst daffodils with one of his friends from Canada. I snuck up on him the other day and overheard this conversation:

Gustav: "Did you hear all the commotion going on around these parts last night?"

Canada Goose: "No, I had to run up the creek and spend the night with my wife in the cove. She gets mad if I stay out past sunset because she has to sit on the nest all day long without a break and claims she has to do 'everything' while I'm out gallivanting with those white geese."

Gustav: "Well, count your lucky stars. That crazy, frizzy-haired Chesapeake Bay Woman next door was whoopin' and hollerin' last night, and nobody could sleep."

Canada Goose: "I've heard similar antics during the day and pretend not to notice. What happened this time--ants everywhere? Snakes in the yard? Spiders? Rodents in the attic? A dead opossum on the shoreline? Fiddler crabs in the garage? Have mercy, it's always something goin' on over there."

Gustav: "No. This was a different sort of shriek. Evidently after a long day at work, she came home and ran around like a chicken with her head but unfortunately not that frizzy hair cut off. Hoping to soothe her last unplucked nerve, she gave the shower door a good yank and it fell off its hinges, sending her backwards as she struggled to keep the glass door upright."

Canada Goose: "What is wrong with her that every day something either breaks, invades her home, or turns into a disaster?"

Gustav: "She's a magnet for disasters. I try to keep my distance and when she gets too close I let her have it with the hissin' and the spittin'. This is somehow translated into Gustav is evil!, but let me tell you somethin'. I want no parts of that frizzy-haired woman and all her shrieks and disasters."

Gustav: "Don't look now, but I think she heard what I said. Quick, act like you have some sense and pretend we were talking about the weather or the cracked corn buffet over here in Chesapeake Bay Mother's Wild Kingdom. If she gets too close, though, you have my permission to bite hiss and spit. You must save yourself and your family."

In unrelated news, Chesapeake Bay Mother is concocting some Gustav memorabilia for Blog Fest this summer. Thus far, T-shirts and coffee cups have been discussed, but no matter what he will be depicted in his preferred stance, which is: neck arched, mouth wide open, and pitchfork under his right wing tongue stuck out in his best hiss.

Monday, April 12, 2010

From the Frying Pan to the Fire

This delightful old shed lives down Shadow, which is on the way to New Point and Bavon, except not really on the way, you have to veer off the main road just a bit, but then eventually you reconnect to the main road so maybe this is sort of on the way to New Point and Bavon, and who's tired of this never-ending sentence besides me?

Speaking of being tired, as I write this Sunday evening tired doesn't even come close to describing the way I feel. Perhaps it had to do with the 5:30 a.m. alarm on Saturday to prepare for the Farmers Market, which included bending over in a daffodil field in cold, wet conditions that rendered every one of my fingers numb and useless, which was the exact same condition of my coffee-less brain.

After surviving the Farmers Market, delivering children to and from places, delivering parents to and from places, serving as middle man in a parental dispute that included, "Why the BLEEEEEP! can't he cut that BLEEP! BLEEP! wood some other time? Everything has to revolve around his schedule and that BLEEEEP!ing wood," I arrived home in time for a very quick break before heading over to Sandpiper Reef restaurant to work as a bouncer until 2:00 the following morning.

Why in the world would Chesapeake Bay Woman pretend to be serving as the gatekeeper to a restaurant/bar when her only real restaurant/hospitality experience involved waitressing at a pizza parlor in college, where she served a woman a salad with mushrooms after the woman explicitly said she was allergic to them? Read on.

Remember my post on Blue Collar Joes, home of the most delectable doughnuts ever created? Blue Collar Joes is owned by the brother of Sandpiper Reef's owner (aka Anonymous Hallieford Resident in the comments).

Imagine the horror of discovering that Brother Blue Collar's house burned to the ground last week. He was inside working on a hot water heater (I believe) and somehow or another it exploded and set the place on fire. Luckily someone found him in time and pulled him to safety. He's in the hospital but doing OK-- as much as someone can be OK after they've lost their home and everything they own. Everything.

Sandpiper Reef was hosting a very popular local band Saturday night, but Anonymous Hallieford Resident needed to be with her brother in a hospital on the other side of the state. She needed help.

Happy to assist, I found myself standing at the door with Bay Man carding toddlers young people eager to hear the band while Mathews Mark was busy tending to the goings on inside.

More on these escapades later, but for now a few key things:

1. Please leave some words of encouragement to the Maker of the World's Best Doughnuts in today's comments or on the Blue Collar Joes Facebook page.

2. Please also encourage the Maker of the World's Best Doughnuts to buy a home in Mathews County and open up a doughnut shop here. The old Fleets restaurant is currently vacant...

3. Dear Blue Collar Joe, You have a group of people here in Mathews who are very eager to help you in any way possible. Tell us what you need and consider it done. Same to you, Anonymous Hallieford Resident, except if I'm going to be at the door again, please provide me with some extra strong reading glasses to decipher the microscopic text on the Virginia state driver's licenses

4. These doughnuts belong in Mathews County.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gwynn's Island Festival

This vast, empty space filled with blue, green and brown sits at the very end of the Earth road in Mathews County: New Point.

New Point is the home of mutant killer fiddler crabs our lighthouse and the observation deck which, to the best of my knowledge, does a better job of displaying fiddler crabs in their natural habitat than it does the lighthouse, but perhaps I am jaded. Perhaps.

Unrelated to anything you've just read or seen, at yesterday's Farmers Market down on the court green, Chesapeake Bay Mother sold two pieces of artwork before the market even opened up for business - to the lady selling plants next to us.

We were encouraged to set up a booth at the upcoming Gwynn's Island Festival on June 26th. A quick visit to the Mathews County Visitor Information Center website yielded the following information:

A family style chicken dinner begins the Festival on Friday, June 26th at 4:00-7:00 pm located at the Gwynn’s Island Civic League Building, Old Ferry Road, Gwynn. Take out is available is from 4pm - 5pm. Cost of the dinner is $8.

Saturday’s festivities begin at 9 am at the Civic Center featuring a variety of music, arts and crafts, food vendors, children’s games, square dancing, golf putting contests and free blood pressure checks.

The Rescue Squad, Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department and Coast Guard will have educational displays.

Live Music ALL DAY
Honda Motorcycle Exhibit ALL DAY
Mathews Art Gallery Exhibits ALL DAY
Pet Parade with prizes at 10:00
Antique Car Exhibit at 10:00
Ultralite flyover at 11:00

The Gwynn’s Island Museum will be open 10-5 pm.

No admission charge and free parking for all events.


Call Cricket at 804-725-7577 or Sandy Sharp 725-9045 for vendor information, or email for more information and applications to participate .

They had me at the fried chicken dinner, although that free blood pressure check square dancing stuff has piqued my interest for some strange reason.

Perhaps it's because when I think of Gwynn's Island I think of just about anything but square dancing, but this is neither here nor there.

Go ahead and swing your partner--with reckless abandon even. Every sort of medical or rescue professional from Coast Guard to Rescue Squad will be on hand.

Looks like the Chesapeake Bay Family will be gearing up for this day of festivities. While Chesapeake Bay Mother sells her artwork, perhaps I'll sell grilled fiddler crabs on a stick--with a mango coconut dipping sauce. (Insert an evil, Vincent Price-like laughter here.)

No, you can't eat fiddler crabs, there's nothing to eat except shell and a nasty attitude. But surely there must be some practical use of these brazen little hussies crustaceans. Somehow or another, fiddler crabs will be incorporated into my Gwynn's Island Festival exhibit. And mango coconut dipping sauce may or may not be involved.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Photo above is from New Point, Virginia. Text below is from No Point, Whatsoever.

Today's post will be different in that instead of rambling and veering off an actual topic, I will ramble and veer off no particular topic or rather several unrelated topics. It's just a running list of things jumping around all the cobwebs and tumbleweeds in my head, which is a very frightening place indeed.

First of all, Thursday night's trip to see my favorite blogger Bossy was grand. I would share pictures but that would have required a functioning brain cell a camera, which was inconveniently left at home. So instead just picture a group of about 10 or 12 folks gathered around a table filled with Greek nachos and fried green tomato lasagna at a place called Kitchen 64 in Richmond. To make the picture realistic, be sure to toss in several glasses of half-filled wine glasses. (Sprinkle these generously throughout. Rinse. Repeat.)

Among the cast of characters Bossy will be seeing on her cross-country tour are Grandma J.'s daughter and Foolery. If anyone reading this is in or near one of the cities she's hitting on her cross-country tour, please try to go see her, you won't be sorry. She's amazing--friendly, funny and fun.

Next up is an update on my everybody's favorite topic, the War on Ants. On the advice (given to me two years ago and only now acted upon) of our local pediatrician, I purchased some Terro and placed bucketfuls little drops of the liquid all over the kitchen and doorways. The first 24 hours were awful - there were ants everywhere, swarming. But now? Not a single one. Best of all, these bottles of Terro are under $3! Can you believe it? Three bucks to annihilate killer mutant ants.

I heart Terro and want to be their official spokesperson, not that they're looking for one, and not that they'd want me even if they were looking for one. Still, the offer's out there, Terro People.

Get some from your local hardware store, which for us is Sutton and Kline/Moughons, today. It really works.

Unrelated to any of that, I received an e-mail from Bob Harper, who is the archaeologist in charge of the dig at the John Clayton site which I wrote about here. He explained how one of his main goals is to keep the name of John Clayton, a local botanist, alive. He also very generously offered to give tours of the site any time.

If you're interested in a tour or volunteering at the dig, contact him at

Lastly, the Chesapeake Bay Children, Chesapeake Bay Mother and I will be participating again in this week's Farmer's Market on the court green. We'll be the ones looking dazed and confused with the sign that says Royal Colony Farm, the original name of my grandfather's daffodil business back in the '60s and '70s.

CB Mother is bringing some of her artwork and freshly baked bread, and the CB Children will be selling white daffodils which are gorgeous and smell as sweet as perfume. I will be supervising, which translates into "sitting in the background guzzling sipping coffee and yacking with the other vendors."

Most importantly, have a great weekend!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Friendship needs no words.
-Dag Hammarskjold

A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.

A friend would understand that Chesapeake Bay Woman couldn't be more tired if she had just ascended Mt. Kilimanjaro before swimming the Suez Canal and then running the length of the Sahara Desert.

However, she's not sure that swimming the Suez Canal is really a big deal, so she'd like to substitute the Atlantic Ocean for the Suez Canal in the swimming portion of this Exhaustion Olympics.

While I crawl into bed for a few hours of precious sleep, tell me your caption for the photo above.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three Things

Welcome to the three-ring circus that is my life Three-Thing Thursday here at Life in Mathews, a day when I share three things, and you share three things. Whatever you want. Anything at all.

Let's begin

1. Tonight after work I will drive to Richmond to a place called Kitchen 64 (or 84 or 44 or one of those 4 numbers) to meet up with one of my favoritest (it's a word) bloggers, Bossy, who is on a cross-country tour promoting the book that she didn't write but meant to.

1b. What this means from a stamina standpoint is I will wake up at 5:30 a.m. Drive an hour and 15 minutes to work. Work 8.5 hours. Drive another hour to Richmond. Drink wine Visit with Bossy for a couple of hours--and hopefully Big Hair Envy if she can make it--then drive an hour and a half home to Mathews.

2. That photo above is from the Easter Sunday sunrise service on Gwynn's Island. Blog Festers may think it's the beach where we had the cookout, but it isn't. This is on Commenter Breezeway's side of the island, and that's the Chesapeake Bay out there.

3. I lived on Gwynn's Island when I was 4 years old and have always felt a strong connection to it. Whenever I'm there I feel like I've arrived back home.

Now please make me the happiest blogger in the universe and leave a comment. You can say one thing, two things, three things or more things.

For the three two of you who read and don't comment, go ahead and write something even if it's "I love ants and fiddler crabs." Aside from being an indication of a serious disorder, it would let me know you're out there.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sit for a Spell

These Adirondack chairs are perched on a gorgeous spot of land down Redart, the same place I was talking about yesterday. All that brown grass out there is a marsh utterly and completely infested with fiddler crabs, but don't let that stop you from enjoying the view. Beyond that marsh is a lovely creek.

Aren't these chairs inviting? Don't they just beg you to sit and rest for a spell? I took them up on their very generous offer. Taking photos on somebody else's property is illegal takes a toll on a person.

There is nothing I love more than sitting and staring at the peaceful views around here. My favoritest (it's a word) thing to do at my own house is to sit on the front porch at sunset, or on the back porch at sunrise. Or underneath one of the pine trees before the ticks start dropping from them like rain from a nor'easter.

The shot below is from one of the county's public beaches, Haven, home of the infamous Old House Woods, ghost stories, flying pirate ships and Senior Skip Days in high school buried treasure, or so they say.

These Adirondacks didn't really beckon me to come sit because I couldn't remember if this dock belonged to the county or if it had reverted back to private property, so I erred on the side of wimpy caution and admired them from afar.

After yesterday's talk of snakes, raw oysters, strings and savages, I thought I'd post something a little more relaxing today. Something peaceful is really needed because the things that have happened here in the Chesapeake Bay household would rival what goes on over at Sandpiper Reef on any given night, and based on yesterday's post (and comments), that's saying something.

As I write this, the Chesapeake Bay Children are having to sleep downstairs (which is about 10 degrees cooler than their 110-degree bedrooms upstairs) on inflatable mattresses because our HVAC system decided to go on strike, and it was 98 degrees in the shade today, quite literally. (CB Daughter quoted the temperature from the car's dashboard, and at the time we were parked in the shade.)

We won't talk about the ants swarming in the kitchen in spite of the Terro I purchased from Sutton and Kline (aka Moughons), because otherwise I'd have to start twitching crying.

If you could please ignore those last two paragraphs sit in either the marsh-view Adirondacks or the bay-view Haven Beach ones, which would you choose, and why?

More importantly who would you want sitting next to you and why?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


This gorgeous vista can be enjoyed at the end of a very long dock in the heart of bustling downtown Redart, which is the word "trader" backwards. As I've mentioned many times, there isn't a lot to do in Mathews, so for entertainment we just sit around and spell things backwards, then slap it up on a sign and assign it a zip code.


Mathews Mark, who has been missing in action for weeks now due to lack of internet access, was working down Redart last week. He gave me a call.

(Ring, ring...)

Chesapeake Bay Woman: "Hello?"

Mathews Mark: "Hey, CBW, I'm working down Redart at a gorgeous place that would make some really good pictures. What are you doing right now?"

CBW: Is not even on the line any more because she's spinning gravel out the driveway to get there post haste. An opportunity for legal trespassing does not present itself ever every day.

Mathews Mark was right. This piece of property was gorgeous, ideally situated on a point with not one but two docks, one of which was about a mile long if it was a foot.
Prior to coming out here, I ventured to the other dock closest to the house, over on the other side of those pine trees.

Scoping out the views for the ideal picture, I happened to look downward since I was approaching an incline onto the dock. There, lying inches in front of me in all his sunbathing glory, was this:

The rest of him was stretched clear across the dock, and he wasn't in any hurry to move. He'd probably just swallowed a small pony or something and was just taking an after-lunch nap.

The trip to Redart was productive, black snakes and huge herds of fiddler crabs notwithstanding. I'll share more photos of the place when I can.

But before I forget, the other night Anonymous Hallieford Resident invited several of us over to her restaurant, Sandpiper Reef. While she was busy pouring drinks from their new margarita machine, Mathews Mark regaled the crowd with stories.

A platter of fried oysters was placed in front of him. (They were delicious, by the way.)

Mathews Mark: "Did y'all ever used to tie strings around raw oysters?"

CBW: "Ummm. What did you say? Strings? Around oysters?"

Mathews Mark: "Yeah, you know, you take a string and tie it around the middle of an oyster and swallow it.

CBW: "What the ... why in the world would anyone want to swallow an oyster with a string tied around it?"

Mathews Mark: "So you could pull it back up."

We won't ask the ever-so obvious question of why at this juncture, because that is not germane to the point of this story, which is this: There ain't a whole lot to do around here.

And this: There is a killer boa constrictor on the loose in the vicinity of Redart, and he isn't afraid of anything, up to and including small ponies a frizzy-haired woman carrying a camera.

And also: Dear Reality TV Show Producers, there is a gold mine of television fodder here in Mathews County, Virginia. Truly.

Monday, April 5, 2010

High Water

This scene next to the New Point Fire House pretty much describes my ability--or lack thereof--to do anything productive today, up to and including writing a blog post.

The old building, with so much to say, yearns to share her stories but stands stoically with her windows boarded up, because she can't believe there is a boat resting next to her on dry land behind a sign advertising high water, but she really and truly appreciates the irony.

The past several days have included physical labor; Easter preparations; a daffodil booth at the Farmers Market; an Easter sunrise service which started with a 5:30 a.m. alarm and ended with two large 7-11 coffees; 5 solid hours of cooking; another four two hours of eating black pepper boursin, ham, turkey, asparagus, roasted baby vegetables, spinach/cheese casserole, twice-baked potatoes, macaroni and cheese, the kitchen sink, a few clothespins, and a dirty tea towel homemade bread, salad and strawberry jello with Cool Whip.

In conclusion Chesapeake Bay Woman is in a food-induced coma and will not be awake again until Thursday is way behind on everything.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Ham

This picture from Haven Beach was taken on a day almost as cold as it was at yesterday's Farmers Market at Mathews Court House.

Chesapeake Bay Daughter and I had a great morning selling daffodils there, despite the fact that I we didn't know what I was we were doing.

We met quite a cast of characters--literally. The vendor across from us was a member of the Screen Actors Guild who has danced with Sandra Bullock and performed in a number of western films. I'll post a picture of him and the maker of the world's finest bloody mary mix as soon as I have an opportunity to upload the photos.

Chesapeake Bay Daughter did a fabulous job of selling our daffodils. We sold our entire inventory by 11:00, and the Gazette Journal took her photo. Contributing to those overall sales was another Mathews County blogger, who had never been to the Farmers Market before, but who now vows to come back because of all the fun and frivolity that goes on there.

All in all it was a great day, up until the point I accidentally baked a piece of jewelry underneath a spiral sliced ham.

After the Farmers Market, hoping for a jump start on Easter Day preparations, I shoved two hams--and evidently an ill-fitting pinky ring--into a baking pan under tin foil for 2-3 hours at 250 degrees, before applying a maple-brown sugar glaze and subsequently jacking the heat up to 375 for another 30 minutes or so.

FYI- If Chesapeake Bay Woman ever invites you over for Easter dinner, politely decline and make mention of the fact that you've already exceeded the recommended daily allowance of silver or any other precious metal.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farmers Market

Today Chesapeake Bay Daughter and I will be down at the Court House selling daffodils at the Farmers Market.

This is our first such adventure, but here is the preliminary game plan--from which I've been working for several days now:

1. Wake up.

2. Drive to the Court House, specifically the Court Green, and have a grand time selling daffodils.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Here at the 11th hour Chesapeake Bay Daughter asked me a few questions. These questions prove that she has invested a great deal more time--which is to say any time at all--thinking through this process, focusing on mission-critical details such as:

-How much will we charge for the daffodils? (insert sounds of crickets)
-Will we have a sign? (more crickets)
-What about a table? (the sound of my heart pounding)
-Do we have change in case the customers have large bills? (the sound of the blood pressure cuff bouncing from my arm off the wall)
- What time do we have to be there? (the sound of a body collapsing on the floor)

If you are one of the two people in Mathews reading this, please come down to the Court Green and help me figure out what I need to do buy some local produce. You don't have to buy our daffodils, I'm only doing this to teach Chesapeake Bay Daughter some life lessons.

As it turns out, she seems to be teaching me some as well

p.s. Yesterday's post talked of pictures of the tombstone from the Amazon Jungle thicket near the New Point Lighthouse. However, due to a variety of distractions, not the least of which included a dead opossum (which I still swear is a hyena); another photo op courtesy of Mathews Mark (which included an unexpected black snake); and some other natural disasters up to and including being ill-prepared for the Farmers Market, I didn't have time to focus on that today.

Evidently I didn't have time to focus on the finer details of selling daffodils at a Farmers Market either.