Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

Continuing a theme I started last week, today is Three Thing Thursday, where I tell you three random things, and you tell me three random things.

(Perhaps it should be called Three Things--plural--Thursday, but I prefer Three Thing Thursday. The grammar police have not arrested me yet, although I am wanted in several states and Canada.)

The challenge for me is limiting my randomness to three subjects.

Let's give it a whirl:

1. Nobody from Hudgins, VA, or anywhere else won the Mega Millions lottery last night, so that means a dutiful return to the paying job where people send memos saying, for example, that they are on Maturity Leave instead of Maternity Leave.

2. Although I'm not a hypochondriac (unless you count the time as a child when I was convinced I'd be dead or blind by the age of 40), the extreme exhaustion I feel right now has me convinced I am suffering from swine flu, narcolepsy, anemia, aneurysm, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, blood clots or two days to live. (I sincerely do not mean to make light of the swine flu issue but am being honest about my paranoia occasional thoughts on the subject since the last time I felt this tired I came down with "the other flu that was not prevented by The Flu Shot" and thought I was dying. No lie.)

3. In spite of my previous two statements, which are really considered whining, I am so grateful to have a job and am eternally grateful for good health.

Until that aneurysm kicks in.

Your turn.

While I absolutely love and live for my regular commenters and look forward to your three things, it would make me so happy to hear from any lurkers out there, anyone who might read but never comments. You can sign in anonymously and do not have to reveal a single thing about yourself. There is no right or wrong answer, I'd just love hearing from you.

It will sustain me until the hypothyroidism does me in.

Please tell me three things. Or more. Or less. We're nothing if not flexible here at Life in Mathews.

Chesapeake Bay Woman

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wolf Trap Light

There are a couple of lighthouses in and around Mathews County, and one is known as Wolf Trap Light.

Depending on the amount of haze, fog or cloud cover on a given day, Wolf Trap is visible just off shore from our county beaches, where the Chesapeake Bay Family went treasure hunting the other day. If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, the light is barely visible in the lower right part of the horizon. Or that may just be a speck on my computer screen so never mind. But the point is, it's visible on a clear day.

The name Wolf Trap is an unusual one, to say the least. To the best of my knowledge, we don't have any wolves, and even if we do, we sure as heck don't have any frolicking offshore in the bay that would need to be trapped. If there are, remind me never, ever to go swimming in the bay again.


The original structure went up in 1821 or thereabouts. Completely surrounded by water, it's accessible only by boat, unless you're a bird or some wolf frolicking around in the bay needing to be trapped. I thought I read somewhere that it's about 3.5 miles from shore, in about 16 feet of water.

(Please, don't ever quote me on details, facts or figures. Just know that I'm usually half right, half wrong, but I never know which half is right and which is wrong. Welcome to the inner workings of Chesapeake Bay Woman's ADD sieve-like mind, and the very reason she could never be an accountant.)

During a particularly bad winter in 1893, ice cut the lighthouse loose from its foundation and sent it on a little trip about 20 miles south. A temporary light was erected until the new one was turned on in 1894. This time they painted it red to protect it from the elements--salt water as well as ice. Who knew this about red paint? This is the first I've heard about it having such qualities.

Although Chesapeake Bay Father frequently dragged took us fishing with him, I don't remember any close encounters with this lighthouse, mainly because I was in the cabin turning green from seasickness we'd have been departing north of where this stands.

Update! We interrupt this mostly incorrect blog post to provide some additional details.

According to my only favorite source of quick information, Wikipedia, the light was named from "the 1691 grounding of the HMS Wolfe, a British naval vessel engaged in enforcing the Navigation Act and in combating piracy. In 1821 a lightship was stationed at this spot, and after refurbishment in 1854, the original ship was destroyed by confederate raiders in 1861 during the Civil War. Two years later, a replacement ship was put on station."

We now return to CBW's hot air, already in progress.

Wolf Trap is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and was offered up for sale to non-profit organizations a couple of years ago. When nobody took the bait, the lighthouse was sold to an individual who wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast. That lighthouse would not have been the most ideal of overnight destinations, especially if one of the guests had claustrophobia and wanted to go for a stroll outside to catch some fresh air, but certainly it would have been one unique B&B. Unfortunately, the man never received the financial backing and it was again put up for sale. I have no idea who owns it now.

Attention all two of you Blog Fest attendees: While Wolf Trap Light would certainly make for one memorable overnight experience, I cannot endorse it, what with all those wild wolves swimming around it and everything. We can, however, see it on our Tour de Mathews assuming the horseflies don't eat us alive since July is high season for those beastly insects.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


In contrast to the eternity several weeks of on-again/off-again rainy, bone-chilling weather, the past two or three days have been heavenly, if your definition of heaven includes bright sunshine, warm temperatures, low humidity and absolutely no ants mosquitoes.

In addition to these very welcome changes, the colors of Nature are evolving from drab winter gray to vibrant green.

If the picture above were taken three--even two--weeks ago, the following would apply:

1. There would be nothing green.

2. There'd be no sailboat.

3. There'd be no human beings outside--none on a sailboat and most certainly none huddled behind a tree taking pictures of other people on a sailboat while hoping those sailboat people don't spot me her trying to take pictures of them their boat. (This sentence is being nominated for the longest, most grammatically incorrect sentence of the year, and so far it's a very strong contender for first place.)

Yes, this weekend was absolutely wonderful weather wise. I even managed to go sea glass hunting again and came up with some really incredible finds, including one green bottle that had a Gloucester, Virginia, mark on it. More on these (and the arrowhead CB Daughter found) later on when I have a minute to breathe get done with the work week, with cutting grass, with fending off ants, and attending sporting events.

Today, though, it was almost 95 degrees in the shade and there was a bucket full hint of humidity in the air. Also, because I don't ever turn the air conditioner on until September much later in the spring, the house was rather hot when I came home from work. My prehistoric computer's fan was whirling and clanking, and that usually means it's overheating and will require mouth to mouse resuscitation unless I turn it off for a few months hours to give it a rest.

Our entire spring season consisted of weeks of cold, dreary rain, followed by two spectacular days this past weekend, immediately followed by heat and humidity starting today. We rarely get a decent spring, it's usually winter one day, and Sahara desert hot the next.

And this entire post consisted of lengthy run-on sentences and an inability to stop doing the daggone strike through thing, I really think I'm obsessed rambling, disjointed thoughts. It's all because I can't concentrate over the din of my computer's fan and need to hurry and queue this post up before I have to call 9-1-1 for the computer and wine-one-one for me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Spy

This is in a neighboring county very close to the Piankatank River. This particular area is chockablock full of wonderful things to photograph.

Chesapeake Bay Woman is a bit more tired than usual which means she's asleep and drooling as she's writing this but not willing to surrender to her weariness entirely, which would mean taking a night off from posting something to this blog.

So, to allow me to get some much-needed sleep and not spend an hour or three so figuring out what to write, finish this sentence for me:

Looking at the picture above, I see ________________.

You can list as many things as you want, all the things you see, or you can make up a story using the things you see--or even things you don't see. Or, you can just say, "CBW, I see nothing. But the winning numbers to the lottery are xx-yy-zz."

(By the way, I'll gladly split the winnings with you, in fact I'll give you 90% of the proceeds if I could just have enough to pay the bills and not have to commute four thousand miles a day. But this is neither here nor there.)

When I return from work tomorrow I will do a swan dive into my bed and sleep for ten days straight look forward to reading your responses.

Especially those responses which include winning lottery numbers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Silent Sunday

This beautiful, blooming bush living in my front yard asked me to take some pictures of it, which I gladly did.

The reward was an unexpected shot of the moon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


At Aaron's Beach the other day, all sorts of treasures had washed up on the shore. Some people might amble along and see the obvious: beach, sand, water, shells, seagulls, fish bones. But the Chesapeake Bay Children and I are slowly becoming avid treasure hunters, able to spend hours combing a small patch of beach and walking away with armloads of crap loot.

Included in our treasure chest this time were many pieces of green sea glass (one of the less common colors); an arrowhead (oh is that a good find); sponges; driftwood and huge oyster shells. The oyster shells are interesting because it's rare to find really large oysters anymore, so these likely have quite a bit of age on them. In fact, I'm reasonably sure they're older than soap scum ring around my bathtub, but this is neither here nor there.


The arrowhead is incredible, and I'll talk about that some other day because more copying from Wikipedia research is needed for me to babble speak intelligently about it.

Driftwood is exactly what it sounds like: wood that has spent quite a bit of time floating in the water until ultimately finding a home on the shore. All that time in the water renders it smooth and more interesting than your average chunk of wood. Sometimes there are worm holes or deep ridges carved on it, and the weathering process usually gives it a rounded, artistic shape.

(By the way, the trees lying on the shore above don't really qualify as the type of driftwood I'm talking about. Too big and still too tree-like. No, I'm talking about smaller pieces you can pick up that have taken on an entirely different look altogether.)

In fact, driftwood is often used in works of art or as decorative pieces in flower beds or homes. We have a local artist, Ben R., who uses driftwood as the foundation for some of his incredible--and I do mean incredible--bird carvings. He affixes the birds atop the wood, which gives a really authentic look. His creations are nothing short of spectacular, and you can often see him at local art shows and Mathews Market Days.

Yesterday I traveled back to the beach to look for more sea glass and to take more pictures. There were three small pieces of driftwood that beckoned to be taken home even though I'm not usually a driftwood picker-upper. They were begging to be made into something artistic, but I've never done anything with driftwood before--or anything artistic, for that matter--so I'm not sure what I'll do with them.

It would have made far too much sense to take pictures of these pieces and show them here, but they're three beautifully shaped pieces of very artsy looking wood, all of which can fit in the palm of your hand. As I said, I'm not artistic, but I have this strong desire to do something craftsy with them. (For the time being, I am ignoring the fact that any and all other crafts I have attempted ended in complete and utterly disastrous failure accompanied by several temper tantrums and a hefty dose of high blood pressure. But let's pretend right now that I can do something with these that does not include tantrums or off-the-chart blood pressure readings.)

If you had three interesting pieces of driftwood that had the potential to become something artistic, what would you use them for or make with them? Bird carving is not in my repertoire, but maybe gluing some shells or sea glass would work. Oh! I could shellac some fiddler crabs and glue them on!! That one really has some potential, except I'm in no mood to catch, touch or shellac a fiddler crab.

Have you ever seen driftwood used in art before, and what ideas do you have for using it?

Perhaps I'll take a picture of the driftwood and post them up here at some point. Or perhaps like most things I say I'm going to do, I'll get distracted and then forget about it entirely, especially after I lose the three pieces of driftwood and/or grind them up on the lawn mower after some kid throws them in the yard.

Happy Saturday - It's supposed to hover near 90 degrees here today. My type of weather.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Miss Ann

This sunrise from the creek in my back yard is not lost on me. Not at all.

Below is a story from Mathews Mountain Man, who now resides with his family in another part of the state but who has very strong ties to Mathews.

The man, the boat and the inn described below are all legends.

Capt’n Ken
by MMM

... Daddy Jim’s son. He lived on Gwynn’s Island and he was a hard man, too.

If you think Daddy Jim cursed too much, Ken always did him one better. The G.D.S.O.B. this and a devil-fetch-it to hell with that – they don’t capitalize “devil” on Gwynn’s Island.

Like his father before him, Ken was a waterman and deacon in the church. As a young man, when he wasn’t making love to one of his mechanical mistresses (i.e., hot rod cars), he spent most of his time making a living farming the shallow waters around Gwynn’s Island and sometimes deeper and less forgiving waters of the Bay. Like others of his generation he served in the War, then came home and went back to work.

In his middle age Ken drifted away from the fishing industry and took up other work on the water. I recall Mom driving down to the Intercoastal Waterway in Charleston S.C. to see Ken and Poppa as they piloted a forty-some-odd-foot Chris Craft from points far north of Charleston all the way to Miami. Jobs like that one came up now and then, but not frequent enough for one to earn a living.

In his later years Ken worked at the Tides Inn located on Carter’s Creek in Irvington – about 45 minutes from Gwynn’s Island. For years, he carried a carload of kinfolk with him to work each day; at one point that included his wife, his brother and two nephews - talk about nepotism.

At Tide’s Inn, Ken was the Captain of the Miss Ann, a 127 foot yacht that was built in 1926. She was the main attraction at the Inn; though a few might argue that Capt’n Ken was the main attraction, I think it was the pair.

Miss Ann had a personality of her own.

For instance, she had two steering systems, an electronic one for tight water, in and around the docks, and a wheel, or helm, for open water. The helm worked fine, of course, but the electronic system occasionally malfunctioned and despite Capt’n Ken’s wheelhouse acrobatics and cantankerous explosions it wasn’t unusual for the bow of the Miss Ann to end up in the trees.

To experience the pair though was – well, this is how his nephew once told it:

Guests at the Inn registered to take a three hour luncheon or dinner cruise. On Saturdays they might sign up for a “whiskey run” to Urbanna – Tide’s Inn was in a dry county, Urbanna was not.

Once the yacht left the dock, guests would meander around on the main deck marveling at the Miss Ann’s mahogany rails and sidewalls as well as her teak decking. In time, a few would climb the ladder to the upper deck to inspect the wheelhouse which was also garnished with meticulous woodwork. Inevitably, someone would ask permission to enter the wheelhouse and permission was always granted.

Once inside, the guest would discover the real secret of the Miss Ann – her salty captain. I don’t know that Capt’n Ken ever really tried to entertain, but he was always entertaining.

On one occasion he talked about piloting a transport boat full of seasick-prone Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel workers to shore the middle of a storm. To keep the boat from swamping and otherwise bouncing up-and-down in the rough waters he eased it up onto the crest of a wave and set the throttle so that the speed of the boat matched the speed of the wave. With the occasional nudge of the throttle the boat set atop the same wave all the way back to shore, much to the relief of the land-loving workers.

At other times Capt’n Ken might let one of his deckhands take the helm and steer the Miss Ann through the Rappahannock River Bridge. Under the captain’s watchful eye, the deckhand and any guest that happened to be in the wheelhouse at the time were told that a strong tide which ran at an angle to the bridge could push the Miss Ann into one of the support-pilings. The trick, novices soon discovered, was to align the long-axis of the Miss Ann’s hull close to one set of pilings and let the current push her toward the other as she passed through.

One thing we all understood was that Capt’n Ken was authentic. I recall several occasions when a guest who had visited the wheelhouse would step close to one of his friends and whisper, “You’ve got to meet the captain.” Guests might come to the Inn for a quiet respite and a relaxing cruise, but if they happened upon the Miss Ann’s wheelhouse, they came back for other reasons.

I’m saddened to say that a few years after his nephew shared his recollections of working on the Miss Ann, Capt’n Ken set sail for harbors unknown.

As part of his eulogy someone recited this poem. If you read between the lines might learn a little more about the Miss Ann and her Capt’n.

Miss Ann

she tides by the inn on carter’s calm creek
with golden gunnels a good fathom deep
mahogany skin and decks of teak
she sails from irvington to the great chesapeake

summer’s sleepy sun sets her aglow
as sailing songs sing on the radio
she’s the one, she whispers it so
she’s Miss Ann, he boards her to go

sliding his fingers along her rails
he sees the sunset has lifted her veil
as dim lights lap at the water’s edge
he parts the river with her bow’s wedge

greedy gulls dip low to taste the tossed bread
dipping their beaks and tilting their heads
then dolphins, abreast her starboard
porpoising, porpoising in the harbor

he lives to lie down deep in her soul
and listen to her heavy hearts roll
her swede steel belly secures his berth
as she rocks him to sleep in the swells of the surf

oh how churns still waters to wine
and makes that salty river taste fine
but dusk is soon gone and the thought he dreads
is leaving Miss Ann before he has said

“Miss Ann, Miss Ann together we labored
and year after year to my heart you did favor
i’m forever your captain, your captain Miss Anne knowing all of your secrets and your legend so grand.”

Godspeed, Capt’n... Godspeed

Postscript– In 2008, The Tide’s Inn sold the Miss Ann. Her new berth is in Colonial Beach, Va.

She’ll never be the same.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

This is yet another shot I took down Freeport way a couple of weeks ago on my way home from West Point. The house is on the left as you drive down to the landing, just before the bend to the right. As with all things old, the structure's history, its stories, its good times, its bad times scream out to be told. But unless somebody tells me, I'm left to my own devices to fill in the blanks. This outcome is frightening less than desirable, so if anyone knows anything about this place, please speak up.

The simplicity of the scene coupled with the complexity of that house and its Unknowns really speak to me

Today has been a Marathon Day, and here it is 9:30 p.m. (Wednesday night), and I have nothing prepared for today's post (Thursday). Considering I already turned into a pumpkin several decades hours ago, there is no use trying to whip up something artificially, so instead I've invented something called Three Thing Thursday.

(Hello, my name is Chesapeake Bay Woman, and if you're not careful sometimes I will contradict myself and not even realize it, as in "no use trying to whip up something artificial" and "I've invented Three Thing Thursday." For example.)

I'll tell you three things and hope you'll tell me three things--which can be anything at all.

Ready? Begin

1. Today while sitting in my office at work, I realized that if I could define Heaven it would be a place that included (among many, many other things) a person's ability to eat infinite numbers of bite-size Almond Joys and/or Mounds with no fear of repercussion, no expanding waistlines, and no clogged arteries because surely the antioxidants in the chocolate and all the "good fat" in Nature's coconut have beneficial--if not heavenly--qualities. However, the other part of me says that if I could do that without restraint or consequence, the pleasure would grow old. So it's back to the drawing board on that one.

2. Chesapeake Bay Daughter had a soccer game this evening and scored 3 goals (out of the team's 5 or 6, we can't quite settle that dispute). Oh, how I love to watch that girl play sports, it's one of the indisputable definitions of CBW's Heaven.

3. The Chesapeake Bay Children made me proud by discussing their Earth Day activities with me and insisting that we shut down all lights at exactly 9:00 p.m. If not for them, I'd have been completely unaware because I live under a rock and don't get out much don't always have time to listen to the news or current events.

Now, it's your turn. Three things, anything.

Have a fantastic Thursday.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old Cars

Last Sunday when the Chesapeake Bay Children and I were driving to Aaron's Beach (many thanks to Anonymous Mathews Native for explaining how that name came about --see her answer in yesterday's comments if you haven't read it yet, it's one moooving story involving cattle), I spotted this old car in the middle of the woods. Actually, I had taken a wrong turn and was going towards Bethel Beach down Knights Woods road and ended up turning around and going back the right way.


On our way to Aaron's Beach, this old car corpse jumped out at me from the middle of the woods. This year's leaves haven't grown in just yet, so the sunshine highlighted what otherwise would have been camouflaged with all the pine needles and dead leaves.

Old cars have always been fascinating to me. When I see one like this, completely left for dead and abandoned in the middle of nowhere, questions flood my vast wasteland of a mind, such as:

Who owned it?
What color was it? (Yes, I see the blue now that I study the picture.)
How many miles did it have on it?
What memorable events did this car transport people to?
Why did somebody leave it in the middle of the woods?
Whose property am I standing on as I take pictures of this dead car?
How long until someone see me and calls the law?

Due to the stress of taking the picture (or rather the stress of wondering when a carload of property owners was going to drive by and see me), I didn't have time to focus on the finer details of this vehicle, nor could I tell what kind it is.

Anyone have any guesses?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sea Glass

On Sunday, the Chesapeake Bay Children and I took advantage of the warm weather and went to one of our county beaches. This is the one between Haven and Bethel; the road is called Aaron's Beach Road so Sherlock I am assuming the name of the beach is Aaron's, although quite honestly I've never heard it called that.

Sea glass is abundant at many of our local beaches. For the unacquainted, this is not your run-of-the-mill shard of trash glass. Rather this is older glass that has been rough-and-tumbled in the water, waves and sand for a long time until it is smooth, not sharp, and actually sort of pretty. Some people collect sea glass, and recently I declared myself to be one of those. A collector, not a piece of sea glass, although sometimes my mental capabilities remind me of a piece of sea glass.

Anyway, I was surprised to learn that some of the colors we frequently find--such as green and blue--are actually rather rare. I was also surprised to find that the Chesapeake Bay is known for its sea glass. I'm not surprised to state that I didn't know either of these until I read them on Wikipedia.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about all this:

Sea Glass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sea glass (also known as beach glass, mermaid's tears, lucky tears, and many other names) is glass found on beaches along oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted glass.[1]

Sea glass is one of the very few cases of a valuable item being created from the actions of the environment on man-made litter.

The color of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, glasses, art, flasks, containers, and any other glass source that has found its way into the ocean. Some collectors also collect sea pottery.

The most common colors of sea glass are kelly green, brown, and clear. These colors come from bottles used by companies that sell beer, juices, and soft drinks. The clear or white glass comes from clear plates and glasses, windshields, windows, and assorted other sources.[2]

Less common colors include jade, amber (from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles), golden amber (mostly used for spirit bottles), lime green (from soda bottles during the 1960s), forest green, and soft blue (from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars from the late 1800s and early 1900s, windows, and windshields.) These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.[2]

Uncommon colors of sea glass include green, which comes primarily from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and RC Cola bottles, as well as beer bottles. Soft green colors could come from bottles that were used for ink, fruit, and baking soda. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces.[2]

Purple sea glass is very uncommon, as is citron, opaque white (from milk glass), cobalt and cornflower blue (from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, and Bromo-Seltzer and Vicks VapoRub containers), and aqua (from Ball Mason jars and 19th century glass bottles.) These colors are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.[2]

Rare and extremely rare colors include gray, pink (often from Great Depression era plates), teal (often from Mateus wine bottles), black (older, very dark olive green glass), yellow (often from 1930s Vaseline containers), turquoise (from tableware and art glass), red (often from nautical lights, found once in every 5,000 pieces), and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in 10,000 pieces.) These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some of the black glass is quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles.[2]

Like gathering shells or stones, collecting sea glass is a hobby among beach-goers and beachcombers, and many enjoy filling decorative jars or making jewelry from their finds. Hobbyists both enjoy searching for and collecting sea glass, as well as identifying its original origins.

Sea glass can be found all over the world, but the beaches of the Northeast United States, Mexico,Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Maine, Nova Scotia, The Chesapeake Bay, California, and Southern Spain are famous for sea glass. The best times to look are during spring tides and perigean and proxigean tides, and during the first low tide after a storm.

Beach glass, as it is called on inland lakes, such as the Great Lakes, is similar to sea glass. However, this glass is weathered by sand and tidal action and not by the saline waters where sea glass is found


The Chesapeake Bay Children and I found about six pieces of green sea glass the other day. The way I figure it, I ought to be able to retire before too long. My figuring skills are not exactly my strong suit, though. See previous statement about the similarities between sea glass and my mental faculties.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mercurochrome and Merthiolate

This beautiful lane is on the right as you drive down to Freeport, in a neighboring county. OMG she mentioned Freeport without talking about her ancestor jumping straight off the boat from Germany! It's a miracle. Lanes like these beckon me to drive down them and discover what lies at the end. Urges like these are the reason that some day curiosity will kill this cat, or at least land her in jail. I'd just like to make it known that I mean no harm, I am just trying to be nosy share our local beauty with the world.

Once upon a time children rode their bike for hours on end, especially if they lived in the Chesapeake Bay household.

In case I've not mentioned it before, there was nothing to do around here and most of your fun had to be invented. The bicycle provided much-needed activity and an even more-needed escape from reality home. Because I was insanely slightly competitive, I often enjoyed racing up and down our paved lane on my one-speed bike--no hand brakes, no gear shifts, no helmet or elbow pads. Just the sincere desire to go fast enough to take flight.

On occasion, I did take flight, but not in the way intended. This was the dreaded fall caused by inattention, excessive speeds, a stray stick or rock, or just plain bad luck.

(Speaking of bad luck, more than once--in fact as many as four separate times--I was hit in the face/eye with a rock propelled from a neighbor's lawn mower as I rode my bike by their house and they were cutting grass. What do you think the odds are of that happening more than once? Why can't I have this sort of luck with the Virginia lottery?)

Falling off a speeding bicycle onto pavement was the worst. Knees and elbows caught the brunt of the beating; blood was everywhere and the pain was excruciating. This pain, however, was a mere warm-up for tolerating the Mother-Applied Punishment Remedy of Choice: the evil Mercurochrome or Merthiolate.

(I'd like to press pause for just a sec and let you know there are many variations of spelling for these two tinctures of battery acid, but the spelling above appears to be closest to correct. We always pronounced it "methyalade" not -ate but people around here also say "nare" instead of "nary" or "chimbley" instead of "chimney" so we were definitely not the experts in the arena of pronunciation.)

Merthiolate and Mercurochrome came in tiny brown bottles with a glass dropper which served as a hot poker to apply the battery acid to the wound. This tincture of hellfire was supposed to prevent infection, and as I recall it did that by burning away every possible shred of skin, hair, flesh and bone that it came into contact with. There was no sting like Mercurochrome applied to an open wound. Except for Merthiolate.

Mercifully, Mercurochrome was banned in the U.S. due to the presence of mercury and the howls of innocent children being tortured. I'm not sure what happened to its twin, Merthiolate, although I think it suffered a similar fate.

Or perhaps it went back home to Hades where it was born.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Silent Sunday

This is from Ms. Breezeway's cottage on Gwynn's Island. In case I've not said it lately, thank you, Breezeway, for allowing me to trespass visit your lovely abode and take advantage of these striking views.

There is something mesmerizing about gazing off into the vast expanse of this horizon. Whenever I trespass visit this quaint cottage I am always looking over my shoulder lest a neighbor should think I'm an uninvited guest immediately calmed. The views, the sounds of the water lapping the shore, all of it is hypnotic; it's impossible not to relax.

May your Sunday be free of run-ins with the law as calm and tranquil as the bay is above.


Saturday, April 18, 2009


This is a shot through some brush on the Cricket Hill side of Milford Haven, just down the way from the Coast Guard. I was standing in the state road when I took the picture, so no trespassing was involved.

The sun has been shining brightly the past 24 hours, and "they" are calling for temperatures in the 80's here today. I sure hope "they" are right, because my bones are cold and my soul is weary.

My Saturday will be spent driving 55 miles to a lacrosse tournament, where Chesapeake Bay Daughter might play 5 minutes of each game due to the fact that she's 10 and most everyone else is 13+ but never mind all that.

I'll sit on the sidelines in my red chair that says "Baseball" on the back, because really that's what I have been training to watch most of my life, yet neither of my children were inclined to play after they reached the coach-pitch stage.

Pardon me while I go cry now since today is the first day of baseball at the Piankatank Ruritan Club, which is the home of the Mathews County Little League, crab cakes, BBQ, sweetened iced tea and hours and hours of baseball/softball.

The Accidental/Misplaced Lacrosse Parent Who Really Needs to be in the Bleachers Swinging at Every Pitch and Cheering Children Across Home Plate.

p.s. What will you be doing this Saturday?

I'll be dreaming about a low, inside pitch that I pull hard to the left, either inside the third base line or into left field.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Factual Friday

This is a picture of someone's boat hitched up in the shallow water surrounding West Point, which is about 35 miles from Mathews. This boat looks almost identical to one from my teen years. Although I felt like wading out to see if I could get 'er started, I refrained because, well, theft and all. Not to mention I didn't have a key, which this particular rig requires. (If it were just the outboard, and if the battery and a gas line were all hooked up, sure. But with this particular number we need a key. Or a key would be quicker. Not that I'm plotting to steal a boat or anything, for goodness sakes.)

The Mathews County Soil Survey from November 1962, which I've quoted here before, is rife with interesting facts even if some of them are artifacts. Below is another excerpt from this fascinating sleep aid publication.

Let's begin.

"...What is now Mathews County was once inhabited by the Chiskiake Indians, who called the area Werewocomico. The first white settlers probably arrived in the middle 1600's.

Originally the present Mathews and Gloucester Counties were part of York County. Later, Gloucester County was formed and was divided into four districts or parishes. In about 1790 Kingston, one of the four parishes, was established as Mathews County. The colonial courthouse was built in the town of Mathews in 1792.

Hesse, a plantation established by land grant in about 1643, is located less than two miles from Chesapeake Bay Woman's house but she's not allowed down there along Milford Haven across from Gwynn's Island. Judith Armstead, an ancestress of General Robert E. Lee, lived at Hesse. Poplar Grove, on the East River south of the courthouse at Mathews, was a land grant from George III of England to Samuel Williams and son. It was once the home of Captain Sally Thompkins, a nurse during the Civil War and the only woman commissioned by the Confederacy."

Chesapeake Bay Woman Again Much to Your Chagrin .

Seriously, Hesse plantation, is not that far from where we live, yet the farthest I've been down the Miles-Long Driveway was about halfway down and that was while riding with one of the groundskeepers back in high school, which is another story for another day.

Ancestress? That may be my new favorite word, it sounds so elegant. Regal even.

I'm the ancestress of procrastination. See what I mean? It even makes procrastination sound good.

Speaking of ancestors, where did yours come from and do you have any famous, infamous or otherwise noteworthy people swinging from your familiy tree? Because you know that Wayne Newton is my distant cousin in case you haven't read it here 400 times already.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

When It Rains

This is a shot of the Piankatank River down the public landing at Harcum. A storm was moving out and the wind was trying very hard to chase the clouds somewhere else.

Speaking of storms, one has been stalled over Mathews for nigh on a century several days straight bringing cold, dreary rain. This provided the perfect backdrop to one of the more intense, dramatic and unusual days I've had in 24 hours a while. Today was a most interesting day all told, except if all was told, I'd be writing for a week to explain everything what happened.

The Cliff Notes Version of Chesapeake Bay Woman's Day:

In short, today was loaded with unexpected events, error messages on my computer (it may be dying), some drama, salad dressing on my forehead, ants all over my counter, a sudden change in schedule, and an emergency.

The End.

Thanks for stopping by, come again soon, there'll be more talk about nothing of the same tomorrow.


The Marathon Version of Chesapeake Bay Woman's Day:

The day began with me spilling coffee all over the floor as I was juggling a bag, a pocketbook, a carafe of coffee, a coffee cup, a kitchen sink, my car keys, all my unopened mail, my cell phone and my lunch bag simultaneously.

The day ended with me frantically unpacking groceries while fixing supper, and in the process of throwing some lettuce on a plate and calling it a salad making CB Daughter and Son a salad, I flung Good Seasons dressing all over my forehead when the cruet backfired. Then, with one eyeball clamped shut (see previous statement about salad dressing on face) and one hand out in front of me patting the counter trying to find a tea towel, I took a closer look and discovered an Ant Fiesta happening right there in my very kitchen.

In between these last two paragraphs was a bit of unexpected drama involving a trip to the grocery store, some blood, and an ambulance. (No Chesapeake Bay Family members were injured in the explanation of that last sentence.)

Sprinkle the above generously with some very spicy--yet simultaneously tasteless--work, a long commute in the rain, and a soccer game that was cancelled, then uncancelled, then cancelled due to rain.

Guess who was responsible for snacks/drinks for the team, but take another guess at who had nothing due to believing game would be cancelled due to rain. Breathe deeply and take yet another guess at who had a mini-stroke after receiving a phone call that the game was indeed on, and then guess who was ready to cry after receiving a third call saying the game was indeed cancelled.

Welcome to a very typical Chesapeake Bay Woman Day. Did I mention the ants?

The End.

Thanks for stopping by, come again soon, there'll be more talk about nothing of the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Goose is Named

This is a profile view of my mother's Nameless Killer Goose poised on my lawn mower. Don't be surprised if you see this exact same photo in a post office near you after he achieves his lifelong goal of landing on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

Chesapeake Bay Mother spent a lot of time carefully considering all the names and comments submitted for Friday's Name that Goose contest. There were also some who suggested that perhaps He was a She in spite of his aggressive, killer tendencies.

After contemplating all the entries and pondering this He vs. She dilemma, she offers this reply:

" Gustav (pronounced Goosetoff) may stick, and thank you for so many clever suggestions.

The perplexity of not knowing the true nature and traits of the subject is a definite obstacle to popping out the perfect fit in a name. I know him; and he is a him. To those who think differently, I can only attest to the fact that in nine years, he has laid exactly 0 eggs. His mate, who is deceased, laid an average of 20 or 30 at a time, which is probably what killed her. Those things are huge! He has also engaged in life and death struggles with the late Ralph, who would have easily killed a female. I, having to separate them, know this well. Perhaps he just photographs wimpy and feminine.

Enough apologizing.

'Cookie' gets honorable mention, if only for the fact that Grandma J. sent herself to bed.

To TJ: A Roomba lawn mower? My nightmare come true. Nothing scares the sh?t out of me like a robot.* Remember in '2001' and '2010' (the books and movies), when HAL the master computer from Hell knocked off most of the original crew and his big red 'eye' didn't even blink? Remember the crazed Cub Cadet that tried to kill me offering nary an excuse? When a man-made machine cozies up to me, my innards spin like a Cuisinart and I feel the urge to freak big time. Just be careful what you wish for."
- Chesapeake Bay Mother

Mindless ChatterAdditional Input from Chesapeake Bay Woman

* Although this has absolutely nothing to do with naming a goose, I have to chime in and say that I, for one, will take the Roomba lawn mower that Chesapeake Bay Mother is afraid of. In fact, I'd like to take that Roomba lawn mower and aim it right towards the goose pen, or the Gustav pen, as it were. By so doing I can provide a much-needed distraction that will buy me enough time to cross the yard to see my parents next door. Otherwise, it's like Cato vs. Inspector Clouseau where that goose just appears from nowhere ready to kill. In fact, if I had to name the beast, I'd call him Cato. I think I will.

Thanks to all of you who participated. I know Baby Sis suggested Goosetav, but an anonymous person proposed Cato Gustav the Guard Goose before she did. If Anonymous would like to discuss a reward, please email me at Congratulations! You have successfully named that devil goose.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taxes and Death

This is from Commenter Breezeway's lovely Gwynn's Island cottage. If I lived there I would never leave home, not even for groceries. Oh, I suppose I'd have to venture out at some point to file income taxes every year, which is what this post is about. Arguably.

Before I forget, I'd like to say that Goose Naming Deliberations are not yet complete. Due to my hectic work and sports schedule this week, I may not be able to consult with Chesapeake Bay Mother until Thursday or Friday. But I promise I'll announce something--even if it's wrong--by Friday.

Now, let's turn to today.

Today is Tuesday, but not just any Tuesday. It's the Tuesday before taxes are due, also known as a procrastinator's worst nightmare.

To test your knowledge of exactly how the tax filing process works, and to provide a dawdling exercise for those who still have not filed, let's take this brief quiz.

Please put away all notes, don your thinking caps, furrow your brow and lick the tip of your pencil. Then recoil and spit quickly because lead is not something you want to ingest.

Ready? Begin.

1. Which of the following statements is true?
a) The only two things that are certain are taxes and death.
b) The only thing worse than taxes is death.

2. The best time to learn how to do your own taxes is:
a) As early in life as possible, it's really not that difficult.
b) Never.

3. Which of the following is more qualified than Chesapeake Bay Woman to handle tax filing, checkbook balancing, bill paying and/or anything else having to do with numbers, details, facts and figures, and most importantly discipline?
a) A CPA
b) A chimpanzee

4. Assuming you have the attention span and accounting abilities of a small kitchen appliance, when is the best time to drop off tax paperwork to your accountant?
a) Around February, by which time you should have received your W2's and all other year-end statements and required information. This also helps the accountant by giving her ample time to place careful thought into your income tax filing.
b) Two to three days before taxes are due, however you have to wait until your accountant leaves for lunch or goes to the bathroom. This requires several hours of heavy surveillance on your part to ascertain precisely when she will not be in the office. Ideally the receptionist is also on the phone and therefore distracted. Sneak into the office, drop your paperwork on her desk and run. Run very fast.

5. Besides incarceration, what are your options if you wait until the last minute and not even a CPA can bail you out by April 15th?
a) File for an extension.
b) Peruse the internet for jobs and rental properties in Bora Bora. Research the process for securing a passport, since yours expired back in the 10th grade and you never renewed it. Wonder how quickly it will take to procure airline tickets and a flight out, paying particular attention to those departing on or before April 15th.

Answers: You already know the answers. If you don't hear from me for a while, I'll sign on again once I arrive in Bora Bora.

Chesapeake Bay Woman

Monday, April 13, 2009


This is another picture I took from the Seabreeze on a cloudy but calm Thursday morning. The water was as smooth as glass.

Today the entire Chesapeake Bay Family minus Middle Sister did what many other families across the world did: we gathered at the dinner table to discuss names for my mother's killer goose.

OK, so maybe we were the only family on the planet discussing goose names at the dinner table; that's what makes us certifiably crazy unique.

As of this moment, Chesapeake Bay Mother has not made a final determination and is asking for your help in the decision-making process. She has narrowed it down to 3 possibilities:

1. Gustav (or Goosetav)
2. Bruce (Bruce the Goose or Bruce Willis but Bruce or Brucie for short)
3. El Ganso (Ganso for short)

Chesapeake Bay Son preferred El Conquistador, but CB Mother says that's too long. Almost all of her animals have two-syllable names.

According to her, the name must flow naturally from the lips when she's screaming for the beast to come in at night or to come back from swimming too far down the creek. So, picture a woman pacing back and forth on the shoreline hollering this name up Queens Creek and into the surrounding areas since sound carries very well on the water.

If you were the goose, which one would you prefer? Remember that you'd hear the name multiple times a day, at very high decibels, especially if you swim too far up the creek (with or without a paddle).

If you were one of our neighbors, who are frequently treated to The Chesapeake Bay Mother Show in which she wanders the neighborhood calling for the goose when he goes missing, which name would you prefer hearing, and remember it will be at very high decibels.

If you were Chesapeake Bay Mother and you had to call this name out every day for the rest of your life, at very high decibels, which name sounds best?

If you were Chesapeake Bay Woman, wouldn't you be somewhat concerned that the primary topic of discussion around the Easter dinner table involved a nameless goose and the internet contest to name said goose?

If you were Chesapeake Bay Woman, how would you ever know if you were losing a grip on reality, when your actual reality involves nameless geese and an internet contest to name said goose?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Silent Sunday

Thursday morning about 7:30 I drove over to Gwynn's Island because I could tell the sun and the clouds were intent on providing a spectacular show. They didn't disappoint me.

First I stopped at the Seabreeze and took several shots from the dock there before heading over to Commenter Breezeway's cottage, where I took the picture above.

This particular morning was unusually calm--there's almost always a breeze (if not gale force winds) blowing on the bay. The clouds couldn't decide whether they were going to linger or move on. Neither could I, because every time I told myself it was time to go I'd take a few steps towards the car, glance behind me, and see a whole new Something that needed to be photographed.

In unrelated news, deliberations are still underway for the winner of Friday's Name that Goose Contest. We've narrowed it down to two or three choices, and may I just go ahead and say to Middle Sis that Sammy Davis, Jr., is not a contender--although it was discussed at length at the dinner table last night.

May your Sunday be as tranquil as the scene above.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Evening Post

I shot this from the dock at the Seabreeze last week at about 7:30 or 8-ish in the morning.

Here it is: the Saturday Evening Post. Hardly a magazine, and barely a post, but here nonetheless.

I don't have anything much to say today and seriously contemplated giving myself the full day off, but I really didn't want to break my streak of posting Every Day Since I Don't Know When, so here we are. (Long sentence, anyone?)

Today was the Bobby Stewart 5K race/fun walk down at Williams Wharf. The Chesapeake Bay Children ran and did very well considering Son is 13 and Daughter is 10. Chesapeake Bay Woman opted for having fun on the walk.

It's always nice to see old friends and familiar faces walking and running for a good cause and in memory of such a wonderful person.

Baby Sister is in town, and we (along with CBMother) will peruse the list of potential goose names tomorrow to determine the winner. Thanks to all who participated. The Nameless Goose also thanks you.

From the bottom of his hissing heart.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Name That Goose Contest

Step right up, folks! (Insert circus music here.)

In the center ring we have The Nameless Goose whose many traits include an ardent distaste--if not blatant disgust-- for human beings; a desire for world peace; and a compelling need to cut grass.

My mother's goose, pictured above on the tractor, because that's where you always find geese, does not have a name.

What would you name an ornery goose who bites, hisses, spits and boxes you out as you move towards the lawn mower?

Contest Rules:

1. I'll convey the rules of the contest as soon as I dream them up.
2. Right now, there are no rules.
3. Just leave a name for the monster goose, and I'll present them to Chesapeake Bay Mother.
4. Contest ends sometime. I can't tell you when.
5. I might leave this post up for two days. I never give myself a day off, and I'm thinking this might be a good time to leave something up for more than 24 hours. However, I don't do well with change and I do heavily compete with anything that breathes myself so we'll see about not posting on Saturday.
6. I do not know when the contest ends, maybe Sunday, because see #2 above.
7. The winner will receive this: (Insert sound of crickets here and refer back to #1 above.)

Basically, I'm loosey goosey on rules and antsy to receive names, although no ants are welcome in this contest.

Please. Name that goose.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Storm

This building is on the left as you're going down to Freeport landing. I won't say one more word about my ancestors and Freeport, but I will say that when I took this picture it had been raining cats and dogs for 4,679 days straight, and I took this just as Mr. Wind was blowing all that dampness out of here.

Speaking of wind and rain, I am pleased to share a story about a storm written by Mathews Mountain Man, also known as MMM in the Comments section.

MMM grew up in Mathews and played a significant role in my track career, such as it was, but really he's a writer and doesn't admit it. Maybe he just doesn't talk it, who knows. He and his family live in another part of the state but will hopefully be visiting during Blog Fest weekend. He's on the guest list, so that means he has to show up, along with his wife and children. Anyway, he and my mother are the real writers on this blog--along with Anonymous Mathews Native who has not submitted a contribution lately (chop chop, AMN). I'm just the rambling host, the emcee (you can call me Chuck Barris) and the photographer.

Also, I am someone who is going to coordinate a Goose Naming Contest (GNC) on Friday. Yes, folks, the quality of the entertainment will be sinking to new depths. My mother needs a name for her killer goose, and I feel certain someone out there can come up with a name. Stay awake tuned for more details.

Without any further ado, here's his story.

That Was No Squall
by Mathews Mountain Man

"Mathews is a long way from Tornado Alley, but occasionally we hear the sound of the proverbial train from nowhere furiously spinning its way through a torrential downpour. “What the hell is that?” we wonder as our eyes dart back and forth from face to face. The sound is so rare in our little spot on the Bay that we don’t even think to hit the floor, much less to head for a well framed closet – I only know of one house in Mathews that has a basement.

But, I did hear the train once – or at least something like it. It was on a summer afternoon when I was in my early teens. There were five of us at our home on Stutt’s Creek; my mom, two of my three brothers, my brother’s friend and me. Heaven knows where the third brother was, but the little fart might have freaked out if he had been there.

The five of us were hanging out in our vintage 1860’s home, with its leaky old, single pane windows that rattled when you turned on a ceiling fan. I don’t recall if we knew that there were storms in the area or not, but in Mathews a gully-washer-of-a-storm can kick up and clear out in the span of twenty minutes. Depending on where you live in the county you might not see a storm coming, except, perhaps, for the ominous black cloud that often acts as an escort by properly introducing the wind and rain.

This storm was typical, the sky suddenly got black and the wind started stirring. My mom called out for us to close all the windows. Minutes later it started raining and almost immediately the drops were the size of small marbles, pounding against the windows and pelting on the metal roof. At least four of us meandered carelessly about the house making comments like “goodness gracious,” or “golly gee,” or “I lay-in-el ole’ fella, she’s blowin a clippin-clear gale out there,” – just ordinary expressions.

Moments after the storm hit though, we heard an unusual humming noise like a tuning fork, only louder. I didn’t know at the time what the noise was, but I was tempted enough to look out the window. We had three small apple trees in our side yard and their supple trunks were bent over so far that the tops of the trees were touching the ground. That’s when I knew that this was no ordinary storm. Meanwhile, the humming noise grew louder. Our carefree attitudes vanished and frantic voices called out around the house. “Get away from the windows,” someone shouted and the five of use gathered in the hallway. The humming noise grew louder still. “What is that?” someone asked. We starred at each other and shrugged our shoulders in ignorance. For a few frightening moments we stood there feeling helpless, unable to comprehend what was happening.

Five minutes later the worst was over. The winds calmed, the rain subsided and we slowly began to relax. As the sun came out, we stepped outside to inspect the damage. Right away we found that a number of large branches had broken off and fallen close to our automobiles. Remarkably, not one of the branches landed on a car; not even a scratch. One sizable branch fell directly above a car, but it got caught up in the lower part of the tree and dangled precariously overhead.

At the edge of our yard a few large trees, some a couple of feet or more in diameter, had been uprooted or twisted off at the bottom. I ran over to the remains of a favorite pine and soon discovered that the base of the evergreen was the origin of a narrow pathway of destruction. Looking toward the creek I saw many trees, some of them easily over a hundred years old, lying helplessly on their sides. When my brother’s friend wandered over and surveyed the destruction, he said, “Look at that, a clear path. Those trees; their huge.” He thought for a moment and then proudly announced, “That was no mere squall; it was a tornado. We had a tornado!”

“And we lived to tell about,” anyone with sense might have added.

The next day – while the aforementioned little fart was playing amongst the debris; a virtual wonderland, full of imaginary friends and foe – after we confirmed with the local Coast Guard that a twister had touched down in our area, we solved the mystery of the humming noise, or at least we think we did.

As the twister passed by the house, the air pressure outside dropped rapidly and sucked the air from inside the house, through the leaky windows. The humming noise came from the air rushing past the metal weather stripping in the window casements. Imagine what might have happened if we had had high-efficiency replacement windows.

Ah, life in Mathews." -MMM

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Duck Blind

This is a picture of the Piankatank River from the public landing at Harcum. Although you can't see it from here, just to the left of this scene is a water view of Freeport, which is how many times is she going to tell us this? where my German Ancestor not to be confused with Wayne Newton, another distant relative hopped off the boat and created a new life. This is also where my car would have landed had I not engaged the emergency brake when I was taking the picture I showed the other day.

If you double click or single click or just click however you want on the picture above, you'll get a better view (it's waaaaay out there in the water just about dead center of the arch formed by the tree) of a structure known as a duck blind.

Most of you
probably know what they are, but for Grandma J. the uninitiated, a duck blind is essentially a hiding place for hunters to lie in wait for their prey, in this case, ducks, geese or anything that moves other fowl. It's sort of like a thatched hut that can only be reached by boat, like the ones they have in Bora Bora except small on size and heavy on chewing tobacco and rifles. Not that there's anything wrong with those.

In another lifetime long ago, I dated someone from a suburb of New York City. On a trip here, I pointed to a duck blind and jokingly asked if he knew what it was. He took a gander, furrowed his brow, and reflected on the possibilities. His dead-serious answer was, "It's a water buffalo."

The four posts holding up the blind appeared--to him--to be legs, and the bushy pine branches or whatever they use to camouflage the hut appeared to be buffalo-ish. Buffalo-like. Buffalo-ly. It looked like a buffalo.

Much to his chagrin, I died laughing at his very carefully thought out response. Never mind that water buffalo are not native to the Piankatank River, nor to the Tidewater area of Virginia, nor to Virginia, nor to the United States to the best of my knowledge.

To this day whenever I see a duck blind, I think of a water buffalo. Then I think about a thatched hut over the crystal clear waters of Bora Bora. And then I think of a water buffalo swimming out to the thatched hut over the clear waters of Bora Bora to attack me and there's no way out of the duck blind over-water thatched hut. Then I have a panic attack. The End.

p.s. I (seriously) am not someone who has panic attacks, but I play one on TV the internet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Bonnet

This is another shot from the road leading down to Freeport landing in a neighboring county. Although the content is rather boring, the color was what attracted me. Green! I can't believe how much green there is. After 3,698 straight days of cold, dreary, gray, rainy, blustery, drab, dull when is she going to stop? weather thank you , it's so refreshing to see green again. Oh, also there are some farm animals of some sort - sheep? goats? both?--off in the distance but since I have problems with details and processing multiple things simultaneously, I really wasn't concerned with them. Just the colors.

Now, speaking of putting a lid on something (such as my rambling thoughts), let's turn to the topic of Easter bonnets.

When I was a child Easter meant two things: candy and painful outfits.

The Chesapeake Bay Children were not big on fashion; none of us were girly girls. As tomboys we were more comfortable in a tree than in a dress. Shoes and clean fingernails were usually optional, if not downright scarce.

Although Easter meant candy, which was good, that candy came with a price tag: the mandatory Easter outfit. One of the main reasons I disliked church at the time, and I'm ashamed to say that I did, had to do with the dress requirement. Over time, I've changed my opinion of church somewhat, but not about wearing a dress. Thankfully dress codes have eased some, but at the time there was no flexibility. We were forced into frilly, ill-fitting, ridiculous, uncomfortable dresses paired with white tights that would never stay up; red--yes, I said red--patent leather shoes; and finally the last indignity: the Easter bonnet.

Don't get me wrong--I loved hats. I still love hats. Just not dressy hats. But the Easter bonnet wasn't a hat, it was a monstrosity that screamed to the world, "My mother made me wear this and I'm traumatized beyond words. If I become a convicted felon one day, you can blame this bonnet."

Perhaps something on the simpler side would have suited me better, but putting a frilly, ribboned hat on my head was like slapping a pair of bib overalls and a baseball cap on Queen Elizabeth. You may as well ask her to chew on a piece of straw while you're at it. They just don't belong together. At all. Ever.

And so it was with me and the Easter bonnet.

There are a few Polaroid snapshots of the Chesapeake Bay Girls at Easter, and in each one Baby Sis is smiling; Middle Sis looks pained; and I am visibly unhappy with a scowl the size of the St. Louis arch plastered on my face.

The reason Baby Sister was smiling? She was the only one who didn't have to wear an Easter bonnet, for reasons still unclear and unfair. I'm pretty sure she was laughing at us.

Just like everybody else. Except our mother, our grandmother and every other female over the age of 40 in a 50-mile radius frolicking around the church parking lot with flowery dresses and flowing ribbons and curly-que hair and patent leather shoes.

The Chesapeake Bay Girls: Bonnets R Not Us.

I feel like climbing a tree. And chewing a piece of straw.

Monday, April 6, 2009


For many reasons, I am too worn out to write tonight, Sunday night. So I'm thinking this will be another Silent Sunday except given that it isn't Sunday when this is posted, I'll call it Mute Monday.

I would, however, like to talk for a moment about this photograph. Rest assured, if I end up writing everything I have to say about it, you'll be wishing you were having a root canal calling this Muzzle Monday or Make Her Stop, Please, Have Mercy Monday.

On the way home from West Point the other day, I turned down a road displaying a public landing sign. The great thing about public landings is I can't be accused of trespassing, and a water view is guaranteed. Also, I'd never been to this public landing before, so I was excited for a new adventure.

On the way there, I passed many, many photographicable sights. (Annie says that photographicable is a word, and I'm with her on that.)

The last hundred or so yards before I reached the landing involved a rather steep hill with high embankments on either side. This particular shed was on the left as I was going down the road towards the landing.

The tree on the right has bent itself around the shed to accommodate it. The tree is alive; the shed is dead.

The roof is clinging to what little bit of original color that it can. Weather and time are stripping away whatever color is left.

The boards are dull and gray, and Nature has stripped away some of the wood. Yet right outside of this are the bright yellow daffodils.

Yet another way of slicing and dicing this picture has to do with shapes. The dead portion--the shed--is very linear, while the living parts--the flowers, the trees the grasses--have curves and rounded shapes which are less harsh and stark.

In summary, I see the juxtaposition of life and death in this photo. Life and death coexist peacefully and beautifully here.

The philosophical portion of this post is now over. The rest of the story is as follows:

I opened my car door and got out to take this and a few other pictures. The car was idling on a very steep embankment that led to the public landing, which means there was water, and that water was known as the Piankatank River. Emergency brakes were invented for a purpose, and that purpose is to prevent cars from rolling down steep embankments towards rivers.

No cars, people or rivers were injured in the making of this post, and I'd like to remind folks that emergency brakes were invented for a purpose. In case you didn't hear that the first time.

Are you wishing for that root canal yet? I know I am.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Silent Sunday

The other day I had to travel to the neighboring town of West Point. On the ride home I stopped at Freeport, which is where one of my German ancestors supposedly hopped off the boat to start a new life.

This field is on the left as you drive down to the water. Speaking of new life, the entire field was loaded with new grass and tiny white flowers that almost looked like snow (pictured very poorly in the foreground here).

My focus was almost exclusively on the field and whether or not someone was going to drive up and ask me what I was doing. In the end what stands out is the sky, which I didn't even notice at the time.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Spy

Here's a goose on the creek at sunrise a few weeks ago. This picture is one of those I'd never consider posting here because I find too much fault with it, except I have nothing better until I can load up all the pictures I took today after the sun finally came out after 5,327 days of rain. (If you feel that last sentence contained too many words, you'd be correct except what you don't know is I really wanted it to contain more words so this is actually an improvement.)

The book Virginia Folk Legends, edited by Thomas E. Barden, contains a couple of tales about Mathews, neither of which I've ever heard, but one of which I'd like to share. Of course I'd never heard of lacrosse and had never tasted salad dressing until I left Mathews to go to college, so chances are good that the stories existed but I never knew about them due to the fact that I lived under a rock.

Here's one of the stories.

A Confederate Spy
M. Smith, interviewed by H.G. Miller in an unknown location in Mathews County, no date given

"In an old home situated on the Bay, I heard an interesting tale of Civil War days. During the war a Confederate spy by the name of Bell came to the home of Mr. W. Hudgins near Fitchett's Wharf and asked for refuge. While he was there some Yankee soldiers prowling through that section of the county came upon a Confederate cap in the vicinity of the Hudgins' home. They immediately started to the house to search, but in the meantime Bell had gone out into a dense woods nearby to hide.

The mistress of the house saw the soldiers coming and ran up to Bell's room to see if any of his belongings had been left there. Nothing seemed to be in the room which would reveal his presence in the house except some letters, which she grabbed quickly and just had time to slip them inside of the dress of a doll which her little girl was holding.

As soon as the soldiers reached the porch, one of them picked the little girl up in his arms to talk to her. But she remembered her mother's warning and held her doll baby close to her side. So the letters were not discovered.

Mr. Hudgins took Bell in a sail boat at night to Gwynn's Island, where he hid in the woods. At times the Yankees were so near that they could hear them breathing. Later Mr. Hudgins took Bell to the Eastern Shore where he remained for a while. His mother was living in New York and he was very anxious to see her. It was during a visit to her that he was finally captured.

[John Wilkes] Booth, who was an old friend and school-mate of Bell's, sent word to Lincoln that if Bell were hung, he [Lincoln] would die. Bell was hung, but before he died he wrote a beautiful letter to the man in Virginia who had befriended him. In this letter Bell wrote about the beauty of the morning of the day before he died, and of how much he wanted to live. He also expressed beautifully his appreciation of the great kindness of Mr. Hudgins and his family. This letter was destroyed by mistake, greatly to the distress of the present members of the family, who would have liked to have preserved it.

Many people believed that the hanging of Bell was one of the causes of the assassination of President Lincoln."

Chesapeake Bay Woman. Again.

To prevent me from being sued for copyright infringement, please be advised that I did not write any of the above story and I fail to recall how to properly attribute a quotation from a book, but I sure do know how to make a sentence run from here to Argentina and back.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sibley's General Store

This is a picture of Cecil Sibley's store which now houses the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center. I'll talk more about all that in a minute, but first let's take a glimpse into how my brain interprets things.

While most of you probably see a store and a stop sign, not necessarily in that order, the very first thing I see are lines. Vertical lines, horizontal lines. Lines, lines, lines.

Running down the brick wall on the right are lines which lead your eye to the up and down lines of the signs and then the left to right line of the Main Street sign. I then jump to the left and right lines of the electrical wire and then the up and down and left to right lines of the store, its windows, then the up and down/left to right lines of the porch rails. There are even lines in the crosswalk of the street. Lines. Lots of lines. Definitely lots of lines.

The line-obsessed portion of this post is now over.

The strong desire to talk about the movie Rain Man is being squelched by my desire to talk about Sibley's, but remind me to come back to my Rain Man tendencies some time, preferably in the presence of a trained professional.

Sibley's General Store was a functioning commercial establishment when I was comin' along, and Mr. Cecil Sibley ran it. Mamma would take me there to get horse feed or vegetable seeds, with the occasional need for a halter or curry comb. (In spite of the rat's nest that was my hair, the curry comb was for our resident stubborn pony.)

A sweet, helpful man, Mr. Sibley and his white hair presided behind the counter except for those times when he disappeared into the back room. When he returned, he always produced exactly what you came in there to purchase, no matter how obscure the item.

Today, Sibley's houses the local tourist information center. Behind the main store is a smaller building dating to the mid-1800's. Some architects believe it's one of the few examples of ______________. (Fill in the blank with an impressive word which has to do with something that's really, really old and valuable, because I can't remember what it is and even so my word would be entirely unimpressive.)

Sibley's has been nominated to the register of Virginia landmarks. Whether accepted or not, the store is a treasure loaded with fond memories of simpler times when there were no Wal-Marts, and most of your non-grocery needs could be met by a friendly man wearing an apron, standing behind the counter of a small country store.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Spectrum

This gorgeous tree, on Route 198 near our lane, produces quite the show each spring. The lighting was less than ideal here, but even so its beauty shines through. Speaking of quite the show in less than ideal lighting, I'd like to talk about a place called the Spectrum.

Once upon a time under the bridge at Yorktown there lived a night club called the Spectrum.

The Spectrum was a diminutive establishment by today's standards, but it was the closest dancing spot to Mathews County if you exclude your Ruritan Club, your American Legion Hall or your back yard pig roast. And really, you should exclude those.

As a silly, under-age teenager with not a single logical thought, I was allowed in the Spectrum on the few occasions when either (a) one of my friends knew a member of the band or (b) the fake IDs we purchased from the back of Glamour magazine didn't work, yet we were waved in by the bouncer anyway because really, who cared?

The band known as Slapwater (which is still in existence albeit with a few shifts in personnel) often played at the Spectrum. Anyone of my age bracket (based on the color my hair wants to turn that age is AARP-Eligible) who grew up around these parts might be able to understand why Chesapeake Bay Silly Under-age Teenager risked getting in trouble to see Slapwater play at the Spectrum--on a school night no less. She was in love with the band and one of her friends knew the right people to get her in.

This particular night the silly teenagers were called up on stage to sing Double Dutch Bus, which is the perfect song for silly teenagers who don't get out much (excluding your Ruritan Club, your American Legion Hall and your back yard pig roast, and please do exclude these). Mercifully, that song has very few notes; regrettably, the band played an extended version.

The Spectrum was torn down a long time ago, well before Nicks Seafood Pavilion--another legendary establishment also located "under the bridge at Yorktown." (Those words were from a radio ad, as I recall.)

If you're from around here and have any memories of the Spectrum, I'd love to hear them. If you're not from here, tell me about a place you went as a silly, under-age teenager. Or tell me about a place you go as a silly, over-age adult.

Or, just tell me if a song exists that is sillier than Double Dutch Bus.