Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Here's the best daughter in the world walking on Aaron's Beach with a skimboard she found--yes found--on the shore of another beach. Although she'd never skimboarded before, she was bound and determined to teach herself how.

Skimboarding is not that difficult, really. All you have to do is have a death wish turn on the theme song to Hawaii Five-O. Then you take that flat piece of wood, toss it down on the shore just as a wave is crashing and effortlessly jump on top as it skims on the tiny amount of water that lingers when the wave withdraws back into the sea. Then you go a&& over tea kettle and wonder exactly how long it will take the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad to find your limp body on the beach.

Actually that was what happened to me when I tried it, minus the Hawaii Five-O music.

Chesapeake Bay Daughter, on the other hand, very diligently and methodically practiced and practiced until she perfected the technique, which is the exact same technique that is used when you slip on a banana peel. She doesn't fall down though.

No, Chesapeake Bay Daughter is very good at everything she does with the exception of cleaning her room. And today is her birthday.

Not only does she have to go to school today, but she also has to go to the doctor for shots as part of her annual sports physical. Guess which mother of the year scheduled a doctor's appointment for her daughter on said daughter's birthday?

Happy Birthday, CB Daughter.

Love you.

Skimboarder in Training
Mother in Training

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


<Chirp>.This house lives in the middle of a corn field over in Deltaville, which is north of Mathews between the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. Deltaville is a close cousin of Mathews in that its terrain, architecture and pace of life are very close to what we enjoy here.

<Chirp.> I'd really love to discuss this photo; about past vs. present. About how the corn crops are alive, tended to and under control; and the house had life but is now unattended, left to the mercy of the elements. The colors of the picture--brown signifying decay and green signifying life--further illustrate this life and death, past and present theme.Interestingly, this picture shows the controlled crops in a decaying state of brown while the uncontrolled growth at the steps of the house are green and full of life. Oh, how I could expand upon that. <Chirp.>

Yes, I'd really love to discuss all that at length, but I can't. <Chirp.>

Right now, my nerves and sanity are being tested by a chirping smoke detector which has been dangling from my bedroom ceiling for years months now. Despite removing the battery, <chirp>then pulling the entire apparatus out of the ceiling <chirp> and finally messing with the wiring coming out the ceiling (whereby I almost electrocuted myself and saw more sparks than a welder at the Newport News Shipyard) I'm unable to make it stop. The thing continues to chirp incessantly every so often.

Every so often is shorthand for Oh please make it stop.

And now, <chirp> a few questions:

Does everything have to be a <chirp> struggle? Is there any rest for the weary? Have you almost electrocuted yourself while teetering on a chair trying to yank a hard-wired smoke detector from the ceiling? Out of sheer <chirp> despair and frustration due to a chirping smoke detector, have you ever tilted your head backwards, closed your eyes, then glanced upwards only to see that on your <chirp> ceiling there is a granddaddy long legs spider making himself quite at home?

In your house or in your life, is there something that ought to be simple to fix but isn't and it's driving you crazy?


Monday, September 28, 2009

Black Snake

Above we have a view of the Chesapeake Bay from Aaron's Beach. Below we have a piece written by Chesapeake Bay Mother.It's about a legendary black snake and his descendants who still occupy our wildlife preserve yard. She's referring to a point in time when my parents lived in the house I now occupy, and my grandparents lived in the house my parents now occupy. Now occupies parents lived now occupies. Still.

Confused? Congratulations. You've successfully made it through the worst part of this post. Now let's join a coherently written piece, already in progress below.
Ichabod the Snake
by Chesapeake Bay Mother

Long ago, Father-in-Law claimed acquaintance with a member of the wildlife community inhabiting one of the many dimensions of his grassy barnyard. He dubbed his friend "Ichabod." I suppose it was the first name that occurred to him gazing into the eyes of a fully mature and robustly healthy black snake.

Father-in-Law seldom mowed the grass, owing to his gas-burning frugality, and when he did he used a bush hog.* As its name implies, a bush hog takes care of bushes and leaves grass still pretty high.

Perhaps it was Ichabod's effect on various visitors Father-in-Law enjoyed most. In particular, one of his wife's friends--a city slicker from California who never ceased recounting the horror of her encounter with Ichabod in the tall grass. As her voice climbed higher and her gestures became more frantic, I detected a naughty smile curling the corners of his mouth.

On meeting the big snake, I usually screamed, making apology to Ichabod for being so unsophisticated. He took it with his usual aplomb, disregarding me as he slithered on his way (no doubt some grumbling sexist explanation crossing his primitive reptilian mind).

Over the years various descendants of the original Ichabod, who we still call "Ichabod," remain with us. Granddaughter was nearly crowned by a tree-climbing Ichabod, who took an inadvertent fall. Everyone recovered. On the hottest day, one climbed our front steps and had to be removed gently with a shovel to the shady bank. Recently the young men reinforcing our shoreline with stones** described their chilly bumps when witnessing the size of an Ichabod in the brush. I explained he was a family member in good standing and meant no harm.

All the Ichabods love duck eggs and show up regularly to dine, the ducks objecting vehemently. What it must be like to cause such a stir everywhere you go! Since he hardly missed a day touting the serpentine magnificence of Ichabod, Father-in-Law would take pride.

Chesapeake Bay Woman's Ridiculous Footnotes

* Bush hogs are wild animals native to Virginia. They once roamed freely through the forests but now are confined to the most remote parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are closely related to Smithfield hams.

OK, that's not true, I was just playing. But do you see how I can state nonsense with great confidence? It's a survival mechanism. Plus it makes me laugh.

The bush hog is a tractor attachment that is not a wild animal but is prevalent in Virginia. As are Smithfield hams.

**This is the riprap I was talking about in Thursday's post.

And now, I will stop filling this post with all of my riprap and let you get on with your day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Silent Sunday: Sunset

"Softly the evening came. The sun from the Western horizon like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape; twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted and mingled together."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk."
-Jack Handy

I'm sorry. Ordinarily these Sunday posts are an attempt to match inspirational words with pictures, but that Jack Handy quote just cracked me up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This picture was taken at Freeport, where one of my German ancestors hopped off the boat to start a new life. Would anyone like to guess how many times in the 600+ posts to this blog I've mentioned that tidbit? Whatever the answer is, it's about the same number of times I've mentioned that my mother is kin to Wayne Newton, a fact which bemuses me. Don't ask me to connect the dots to that arm of the family tree, all I know is it's on my mother's father's side.

Anyway, although this photo was taken at Freeport it could just as easily have been taken anywhere in Gloucester, Mathews or Middlesex Counties; there are many corn fields around here.

The corn is being harvested now, and before too long they'll begin on the soybeans, which are on a slightly different time table. Some soybean fields are still lush green; others are peppered with yellowing plants; and still others are getting ready to turn brown, which is the final color before the harvest.

When we were kids Middle Sister and I sometimes played in the fields after the harvest. There would be the occasional ear of corn that we'd pick up for the pony, who absolutely loved it. Then there was the time, late at night, we took some of the leftover stalks and drove through the courthouse with them hanging out the window of my Volkswagen bug.

But that's a story for another time.

p.s. What is this post about? Is it about corn? Wayne Newton? Freeport? Soybeans? Teenage stupidity? No, I think this post is about the hazards of blogging when exhausted and the importance of a muzzle knowing when to stop. Happy Saturday, the very best day of the week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cash Crop

Very rarely do I take Route 14 from Gloucester all the way to Route 198, but sometimes my normal routine of 14 to 3 to 198 bores me.

Sometimes I take the long way home.

A few weeks ago when taking that long way was the most exciting part of an otherwise predictable and exhausting day, I turned down a road I have never, ever, driven down before. The road's name is immaterial, and that's a good thing since I can't remember it.

Wherever I was, soybean fields seemed to stretch forever. Above is a shed treading water in a sea of soybeans.

In this week's Gazette Journal, there's a teeny tiny blurb on page 9B:

Soybeans are top cash crop in Virginia

"A recent study suggests that most consumers believe soy is healthy. That should be good news to Virginia farmers, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation bulletin said, since soybeans are the state's #1 cash crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics service."

From Wikipedia:

"Soybeans contain a high level of phytic acid, which has many effects including acting as an antioxidant and a chelating agent. The beneficial claims for phytic acid include reducing cancer, minimizing diabetes,and reducing inflammation. However, phytic acid is also criticized for reducing vital minerals due to its chelating effect, especially for diets already low in minerals."

Dating back to, oh, let's just say a long time, tobacco has long been heralded as the cash crop of Virginia. Here's more from

"When the first English settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1607, tobacco was already known in England. The colonists discovered that the Indians were using wild tobacco. ...Tobacco became the most profitable agricultural product in the Virginia colony, without which, the colony would have failed. Tobacco became a highly-bartered item that was used as money."

Without minimizing the importance tobacco played in the early days of Virginia, I have to say it warms my heart that soybeans are the state's current cash crop. We've taken the long way, but we just may have arrived.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

Welcome to Three Thing Thursday, where I share three things (usually random, but today related) and you share three or more things, anything at all, whatever you want.

On your mark. S - e - t? GO!

1. Above is a shot of the creek from my parents' yard; I took it a few weeks ago. If I were taking this same picture today, you'd see no grass (aka "riparian buffer" per Anonymous Mathews Native) but you would see an excavator, a mountain of rocks, and a pile of dirt. They're putting in riprap.

2 What is riprap, you say? Here's the Wikipedia splanation: (By the way, just in case you didn't know, "splanation" is derived from the word "splain" which was invented by Ricky Ricardo/Desi Arnaz....)

Riprap — rubble, shot rock or rock armour — is rock or other material used to armor shorelines, stream beds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour, water or ice erosion.

It is made from a variety of rock types, commonly granite, limestone or occasionally concrete rubble from building and paving demolition. It is used to protect coastlines and structures from erosion by the sea, rivers, or streams. It is used on any waterways or water containment where there is potential for water erosion

3. There's something very silly about the term riprap. It's just one of those words for which you could never have any respect, in spite of the fact that riprap represents something strong, a defense which prevents one's land from cascading into the sea during the nor'easters, tropical storms, and hurricanes which come through here on a weekly regular basis. If you just say "riprap" three times in a row, quickly, you'll understand why I don't need to splain how silly it is.

If I were allowed to keep going, the next stop on the Chesapeake Bay Woman Train of Out-of-Control Thought would be bric-a-brac and Tic Tacs. Don't get me started on knick-knacks and paddy whacks.

As much as I'd love to keep going on this topic, I will stop now.

(You're very welcome.)

Tell me three (or more) things. Anything at all, whatever you want. The sillier the better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

House at Dutton

For a long, long time--years even--I've admired this house which sits back off of Route 198 just past Dutton on the left if you're headed out of the county. It draws me in like you would not believe, and I'm really not sure why.

It's old, yes, and I love old. But there is nothing particularly striking about it. The house is rather plain and unadorned, always has been. About the only thing that changes are the colors of the trees, the grass, and the fields surrounding the house. Right now, the lush, green soybeans provide a stark contrast to the dull, weather-worn white and gray. Pretty soon, though, those beans will turn brown and be harvested; the leaves will drop and dry up, leaving the trees looking as withered and dead as the house.

The windows are covered, so no light ever gets inside. The old dirt driveway which once led people straight to the door is now choked with grass. The house is much smaller than most of the two-story farmhouses which are so prevalent here.

And yet this house stands out and beckons to me very loudly. I wish I knew why.


Note: CBW had been wanting to take a picture of this house for 44 years a long time, and the other day on the way home from her second paying job she grew a wild hair to match the couple sprouting off her face and whirled on in here.

Her heart pounded out of her chest when she realized there really was no place to turn around unless she backed directly onto the highway. Yadda yadda yadda, everything turned out just fine, and CBW did not have to offer the explanation she was concocting had for law enforcement personnel in the event they happened to be passing by.

There was a very legitimate reason I had to pull in there. I just can't remember what it was.

Is there a particular place or building or house you're drawn to for no obvious reason? Why do you think we're drawn to particular places? What would you have told a representative of the law if he had pulled up behind you as you stood with one foot in the car, the other on the ground, door open, taking a picture of somebody else's house?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Time Goin' On

When someone asks you, "How's it going?" and your answer is, "Lawsie, it's a time goin' on around here," well that pretty much means everything is happening, and none of it's good.

Welcome to my life Monday. There was a time goin' on yesterday.

Without boring you with the unpleasant details of my personal life, because I tend to prefer denying glossing over those, I will share a very high-level overview of my Monday, the first and worst day of any work week.

Let's begin.

All the (ignored) worries of my life staged a coup and startled me awake at 4:00 a.m. Monday morning. After pushing the Deny/Try to Snooze Button on my brain, I was able to finally fall back asleep, only to be jolted awake by Twinkie the Cat heaving up hairballs on the bedroom carpet. Too tired to do anything but listen to the retching, I managed to go back to sleep two minutes before the 5:30 a.m. alarm.

Then, racing to the kitchen to make the coffee, I stepped in Twinkie's upheaval. Shrugging that off, I then went to the bathroom closet looking for a ticket to Costa Rica who knows what and managed to close my hand in the door. The hand bled almost as much as my lip that I bit trying to refrain from screaming.

Fast forward to 7:30 a.m. after an hour's commute. The e-mails awaiting me at work almost had me in tears by 7:34 a.m., but I remained calm. Then I spilled my coffee all over every single paper on my desk.

Then I spent the rest of the day trying not to cry.

The End.

In between not allowing the multitude of bad things to win and "The End" above, insert many more things that can and did go wrong.

The day concluded with this realization on the drive home late at night after the away soccer game and forty two hours at work: For the first time in my working life, which began in the 1980's, I'm the oldest person in my immediate working group, including my immediate supervisor. Pass the Kleenex now, please.

To take my mind off my life worries, tell me what you did yesterday and whether you had a good, bad, or mediocre day.

p.s. I thoroughly --and I do mean thoroughly--enjoyed reading yesterday's comments regarding your first jobs. Baby Sis was a peach thrower picker? I had no idea. Also, please visit Big Hair Envy's site if you are interested in joining us at the Urbanna Oyster Festival in November. She's taking a headcount so we can figure out what we're doing refine our plans.

p.s.s.t. - Thanks for being patient with my whining above. This too shall pass. It always does.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Belmont Berries

This is a soybean field over in Middlesex County. Green, green, green for as far as the eye can see. Much of the undeveloped land in Gloucester, Mathews, and Middlesex is either timber or crops of corn, soybeans, more corn, more soybeans, corn, corn, a few blueberries, a couple of pumpkins and some strawberries. And some corn.

The pumpkins in Mathews come from Belmont Pumpkin Farm, which used to be a strawberry farm called Belmont Berries located in North, Va.

One of my very first jobs was working as a farm hand on Belmont Berry Farm.
I'm not sure if I answered an ad in the paper or if my mother or sister told me about the opportunity, since my mother was friends with the lady who owns the farm and Middle Sister was in the same class as the owner's daughter. No matter, I thought the prospect of working on a strawberry farm sounded pretty sweet. Pun intended.

There's a chance I might have worked there longer than a week, but I doubt it. Instead of frolicking in the lush fields of strawberries, stopping every so often to eat them, which was exactly what I thought the job entailed, I was sent up a ladder with a bucket and brush to paint the trim on their Victorian house on the very first day of work. A very steep, dangerously angled roof was involved, and I remember thinking "I'm really not that far from the stratosphere that teetering on a long, steeply-angled ladder while holding a bucket of paint and a brush was really not what I had in mind when I signed up for this gig.

Next came the tamping in the sweltering, baking summer heat. I had never heard the word "tamp" before this job (I didn't get out much), but the lady who was instructing me on my drudgery task kept saying, "You tamp the dirt like this, and keep tamping it." As she stomped her foot on the ground packing the loose dirt in around the new fence posts that someone had just placed in the ground, it finally sunk in. Tamp = stomp, and stomping dirt in Amazon humidity + No Free Strawberries On the Job = All of a sudden, Substitute Lifeguard is really looking good.

Strawberry farm work was way too hard for Chesapeake Bay Woman, and she had to resign shortly thereafter. She greatly regrets throwing in the towel so quickly but the heat, heights, humidity and trim work hard work were just too much for that lazy teenager her. She has nothing but admiration and appreciation for the work that goes into running such an operation. Belmont was and still is a great place to visit.

What was one of your first jobs?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Silent Sunday: The Sky

Several weeks ago we were experiencing nightly thunderstorms, which is pretty typical for August. What isn't typical is some of the incredible skies left behind by the storms.


"There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky;

There is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul."

-Victor Hugo

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Here we have a flock of seagulls.

(Why do I hear, "And I ran, I ran so far away?" Oh wait, it's because I'm stuck in the 70's 80's. That would be 1980's for those toddlers out there who think only adults in a cemetery nursing home might remember anything prior to the year 2000. While I'm on the topic of being old and outdated, I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that there was a time when "text" was a noun and not a verb, and that time was only yesterday.)

Actually, this may not look like a flock of seagulls, but if you double-click the image you'll see there are about five of them, one or two of which are so amazingly close in color to the old dock posts that they seem to blend right in. What you can't see no matter how many times you double-click the image is that there were about seventyeleven seagulls all off to the side of this scene. Of course seventyeleven equates to a flock, it says so in the encyclopedia.

(Remember those? They sat right on the living room bookshelf that also held the rotary phone plugged into the wall. What's the phone number to the Mathews Convalescent Center?)

Here's to a relaxing Saturday spent blending into your surroundings, which in my case will either be a couch, a bed or the geriatric ward a beach chair.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maritime Heritage

Mathews County is synonymous with water.

The coffee table book found in everyone's home, "Soil Survey, Mathews County, Virginia, Our Soil, Our Strength," (published in 1962 by the USDA) says, "The county forms a peninsula that is dissected and nearly surrounded by tidal bays, rivers and creeks. It is bounded by the Piankatank River on the north; Chesapeake Bay on the east; Mobjack Bay and the North River on the south and southwest, and Gloucester County on the west. Gwynn's Island, at the mouth of the Piankatank river, is connected to the mainland by a highway bridge."

The book "Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater," by A. Aubrey Bodine, says , "Captain's paradise, Gwynn's Island, Virginia, is a seafood center which is said to have produced more sea captains in World War II than any other Bay community. Here in 1776 Lord Dunmore, the royal governor, made his last stand against the Virginia patriots whose cannon on Cricket Hill drove his fleet away."

From "Images of America, Mathews County" by Sara E. Lewis, comes this: "More than 2,000 seagoing vessels were launched along Mathews' edge during the 1700's and 1800's. ....There were six shipyards in the East River. Others were in Blackwater Creek, Cobbs Creek, Garden Creek, Winter Harbor, Milford Haven, North River, Pepper Creek, Point Breeze, Put-in Creek, Sloop Creek and Stutts Creek. Families with surnames such as Ashberry, Billups, Gayle, Hudgins, Hunley, Miller, Smith and others were engaged in the trade."

And finally, from this week's Gazette Journal, which talks about next Saturday's festivities here in the county:

"...On Saturday the 26th the maritime past will be celebrated in the county with Mathews Maritime Foundation’s (MMF) Heritage Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Horn Harbor Marina in Port Haywood. According to MMF spokesperson Pete Hall, there will be demonstrations of crab pot making, oyster dredge net weaving, crab picking, and sculling throughout the day...."

Our maritime roots grow deep and hopefully will never be fully uprooted. Even today, there are many Ashberrys, Billupses, Gayles, Hudginses, Hunleys, Millers and Smiths in the county.

I have to say, though, that Sloop Creek is a new one on me, and I will not rest until I find it, simply because the word "sloop" makes me laugh.

With love and sloopy kisses,

-Chesapeake Bay Woman

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

Did somebody add a couple of Thursdays to the regular week? Am I stuck in the movie Groundhog Day? Because I could have sworn the last Thursday was only a day or so ago, and according to the calendar it's Thursday again.

That means it's Three Thing Thursday, where I share three things and you share three things, anything you want.

1. I'll spare you from stating one obvious thing, which is who knew it was possible to say the word "Thursday" four times in three sentences? How about "three things" three times in the same sentence? Four? Three? Things? Thursday? Somebody get me off this crazy ride.

2. Related to #1, I feel as though every thing I do these days is hurried and half-a@@ed. My work (stretched too thin), my hobby of blogging (no time for it), my photography (no time for it) my parenting (not enough time for it), my house maintenance (hate it and no time for it), my bill-paying (What bills? Wasn't that trash?), my pet care (Twinkie the cat will not make eye contact and is scouring the classified ads for a new home), my writing for my second job (turned in 2 articles that were awful), my attendance at school and sports events--pretty much you name it, I'm not doing it well.

3. Hopefully Commenter and high school friend Ms. Seabreeze will read today, because I wanted to tell her how happy I am that she's engaged. Except I haven't had time to do so because see #2 above and add "not a very good friend due to not enough time" to that laundry list. Ms. Seabreeze is a smart, funny, beautiful, optimistic lady who deserves all the happiness in the world, and it sounds as though she's met someone who can give her just that.

There's someone out there for everyone; sometimes it just takes a while to find him or her. Sometimes they're under your nose and you don't know it. Sometimes you just get lucky and are in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you can't stop saying the word "sometimes."

Anyway, congratulations to Ms. Seabreeze and Mr. Wonderful. Please stop by to see me sometime (!).

Now it's your turn. Tell me three things, anything at all. The more words you repeat, the better I'll feel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tell Me a Story

Here's a true story: About a month ago, I happened upon a vacant, old farmhouse for sale down Onemo. Wanting more to photograph the house and less to think of how I could never afford to purchase it, I bravely pulled right on in the driveway and commenced to taking pictures.

The house itself was marvelous, but this window in particular caught my eye.

Doesn't it look like your grandmother's windowsill? The poor woman is probably either in the nursing home or was recently called home - to The Big Home in the Sky--so they've put her lovely old farmhouse up for sale. (This is just my guess; for all I know the house belongs to some poor family of four, freshly moved here from Richmond, who finally had it up to here with the fiddler crab infestation in their yard, which of course is about one foot below sea level.)

Reflect on this window. Ponder those knickknacks. Wonder why on Earth you read this ridiculous blog. Consider their owner, and tell me about the person who stood in that kitchen.

I'll go first:

Her hair was in a bun, and she wore a dress every day. She could cook like nobody's fool and always wore an apron. Peanut butter cookies and hot apple pie were her specialties. Her husband died many years ago, but she stayed busy and enjoyed the company of her one best friend, who lived near by. This friend drove her to church every Sunday, and they had breakfast together every Wednesday. She always had pancakes; her friend had the eggs over easy. They went to the grocery store afterwards; Best Value was their favorite.

She loved flowers but in her later years found that gardening was too hard on her aching joints and weary body. Likewise she had to give up playing the piano but never tired of playing her old records of ragtime songs.

Then one day as she was dusting off the precious ceramic chickens proudly displayed on her windowsill, she parted the curtains to see some frizzy-haired lunatic pointing a camera at her. Ceramic Chicken Lady screamed! Chesapeake Bay Woman screamed! Then they both had heart attacks and blacked out.

The End.

p.s. Of course that's not a true story. I just created it in the vast, vacant wasteland known as my brain my imagination.

Now it's your turn to make up a story or at least tell me what comes to mind when you see this quaint window and try to picture who used to live there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

House Calls

Friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your ears. Once upon a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and Chesapeake Bay Woman was a child, doctors made house calls. When she doesn't have two articles due for her second job and one hundred miles a day to drive for her primary job, never mind children to usher and house work to ignore, she will be sure to write about her house-calling doctor. Until then, Chesapeake Bay Mother has this to say about one Dr. Tabb from Gloucester.


"Dr. Harry Tabb was the only doctor in our area when I was a child. He made house calls and was the last person this child wanted to see approaching her bed. He came armed with lollipops and his kid act. I saw straight through the deception and proceeded to howl, a thing which set his teeth on edge. You could almost hear him enumerating the better ways he could make a living.

Descended from long-ago landed gentry in our small community of waterfront farms, he was tall, gray-haired, condescending and wore a fake smile which he thought worked especially well on dull-witted children. I showed him who wasn't so dumb. In spite of my efforts to intimidate him, I usually wound up getting a shot anyway and Dr. Tabb would have a sigh, shake his head in disgust, and bid my mother goodbye, leaving final instructions. On he would go to visit other sick people.

Interestingly, Dr. Tabb had a middle nickname which my Uncle Douglas gave him: Harry "Beacon" Tabb. It seems that all doctors share a weakness for fishing. I have known at least two others who were constantly obsessing over wetting a line in the river, and Dr. Tabb had it bad. On one outing, he and his companions were found tied up to a channel marker in the river, in the highest of bottled spirits and out of gas. The "party" was towed to shore, earning their host the derogatory middle name. My facts are now unverifiable but I believe this to be a faithful account.

I was getting ready for church one Sunday when Mother told me Dr. Tabb had died suddenly of a heart attack the night before as he sat down to dinner. At church I wept telling another of the event and she also burst into tears. He helped so many people in his time.

Though he inspired involuntary dread in me, he maintained a perfect record when it came to making me cry."

Chesapeake Bay Woman's Final Remarks In Spite of Her Opening Statement Which Says She's Too Busy to Write on Her Own Blog:

The house-calling doctor I will write about (whenever I have a minute) also relied quite heavily on the use of shots to the posterior region. Although I despised the shots, I will say we were rarely sick for more than a day, plus our mother was handed a pill or three to tolerate the arduous job of being the parent of sick children. No prescription required. It was a win-win for everyone.

Those were the days.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Susie Proctor

Above is a shot of Aaron's Beach and below is a story written by Chesapeake Bay Mother about a couple who lived near her growing up. Miss Susie was always known to me as Susie Proctor, one of my grandmother's friends. She lived across the road from what is now Ware Academy, which was my mother's home and my grandmother's country store.

by Chesapeake Bay Mother

"Miss Susie and Mr. Randolph were neighbors across the road when I was in high school. I loved them both; if anything in this recollection demeans them, it is the unintended consequence of recounting things as I perceived them.

Mr. Randolph had an economy of words and existed on another dimensional plane when in the company of my mother and Miss Susie, his wife; I surmise he did this for his own serenity. He smoked. You knew he smoked though he was never seen smoking in the house or elsewhere. He was a small, slight man, who I remember wearing a large straw hat for sun protection when outdoors. He had the trepidation of one who knew his every word would be augmented or corrected; that he was a man interrupted was too achingly obvious. A look of pure despair occupied the territory that was his face in those times he was released from obligatory politeness. He fixed an inert, hopeless stare off into another realm as the tornadoes of conversation spun wildly across their neatly decorated living room, where my mother and Miss Susie talked in unison with the voraciousness of starving animals. As another non-participant, I would occasionally try to engage his attention with a sympathetic look into his eyes, which he briefly acknowledged, then moved his focus back into his personal thoughts.

To call Miss Susie talkative was to call the Mississippi wet. She filled the air with rural witticisms and the smells of slow cooking. One look at her small perfect kitchen with its antique wood-burning cook stove and the past came rushing back with a side order of baking powder biscuits, fried chicken, collard greens and candied sweet potatoes. To pass through that charmed room was to drool helplessly.

With her perfect fair complexion and white hair rolled into a neat tuck, she was a slightly plump and perfectly ordinary-looking epitome of southern hospitality and good manners. Ever self-effacing, she had many references to her plainness--one of which may have been "ugly as Hall's dog." You sensed that her huge cat and small dog, personifying the sexual inequity of the home, lived an enviable existence. I often wondered what exchanging places with them would profit me, knowing full well this couldn't happen.

They had no children, lived on minimal incomes provided from Mr. Randolph's job on the state highway department road crew, Miss Susie's once a week cleaning job at the church next door, and the benefits from an elderly boarder, Mr. Bryant, who had his separate quarters. Even so, they gave me money which they could ill afford for my graduation. They drove a pristine vintage car, which was garaged and driven sparingly. Their marriage, for all its seeming inequities, balanced and endured until he died of lung disease. She went on to celebrate birthdays of three digits.

They were genuine and dear people. I still remember their generous spirits, surviving in my recall of her happy, laughing voice and his vacant, wistful gaze.

Perfect is that which works. "

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Silent Sunday

A recent thunderstorm left this glorious rainbow behind.
* * * * * * *

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down.
Without the rain there would be no rainbow.

-G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Some questions.....

Doesn't this make you want to pull up a rocking chair and sit under the overhang? (Let's overlook the fact that rocking chairs on uneven, grassy surfaces are probably more aggravation than leisure.)

Do you see the American flag dead ahead? (Let's not reference the fact that the man who owns the flag--and yard--was cutting grass, highly suspicious of the frizzy-haired person pointing a camera in his direction as he spun around the yard on his John Deere.)

Did you know this part of Mathews is known as Onemo, pronounced Oh NEE mo? (Rumor has it the original name came from the need for One Mo' post office. How One Mo' became Oh NEE mo is well beyond the limits of my sleep-deprived brain cell.)

Am I the only person who has to work on a regularly scheduled day off? All day long? (Please don't answer that. Instead pretend I asked, "What will you be doing this weekend?)

Happy Saturday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Flashback Friday: The Sisters

This is a picture of a recent sunrise on the creek. The camera was insisting I put up the flash, but I always ignore that, just like I sometimes ignored my trifling Middle Sister when we were young.

One of my favorite posts on Life in Mathews was called Sibling Rivalry, written in June of 2008. Actually, the comments were my favorite part, because Middle Sis and Baby Sis chimed in with their charming personality and overly defensive stance on wearing too much lipstick sharp wit.

For the full story, please click here and be sure to read the comments.

In honor of both of my sisters coming into town tonight, I am sharing some of the warmer, more heartwarming parts of that loving sisterly exchange. Let's begin.

Here's an excerpt from my original post:

"I did cruel stuff to both of my sisters. I can’t even tell you some of the things I did because they’re so awful. A less awful thing I did often, especially on long car trips, was to lick my hand and then wipe it on their arms or legs, any exposed patch of skin. This was usually because they were getting too close to me. They had crossed that invisible line that separated my territory from theirs. Then they’d holler, “Mamma, Chesapeake Bay Sister is licking me,” and start to whine and cry or something. If one of them licked me back? It was full-on war....

...I will say, though, that both of my sisters have this irritating habit of wearing too much lipstick ,and when they drink coffee or wine their lipstick marks are all over the glasses and cups (and I find the glasses and cups all over the house). They wear so much lipstick that sometimes even the dishwasher doesn’t get it off. And no way am I putting my hands in those glasses to wash that stuff out. No way. That would be just like them licking me.

In the comments section, Baby Sis and her attitude chimed in:

"Um, let's see....I can add a little to the "torturing your sisters" that you "forgot" to embellish upon. Let's start with the pool game called CLAM where one of the younger sisters would have to swim under your legs at the pool, only to be distracted by a strange yellow mist...and then there's the game of " football ". Your instructions were as follows: place your head on my butt and when I yell "hike" you run backwards... (Baby Sis says more, but I'm trying to save space here, plus I don't agree with what she said so there.)

CBW responds:

"Oh, and here's a Special Note to Little Sister who had to go and specifically define what I had glossed over in the earlier narrative. You can't prove any of that happened. In fact, I think when I was pulling you in the wagon too fast and you fell out and hit your head on that pole, it may have done some permanent damage.

I NEVER said put your head on my butt. I said that I was going to HIKE it to you, and to be correctly positioned you'd have to get CLOSE in. Clearly we have different versions of the story. And for the love of Pete, will my sisters just get over it already? Some people. And their lipsticks. And their loose lips!

Here comes Baby Sis's attitude right back:

Here's a note to all you lipstick haters: buy a sponge and actually hand wash your glasses/coffee mugs. It comes right off. The only reason I wear lipstick is to take away from the " FRANK BURNS " effect. ( CBW always refers to her own lips as being eerily similar to Frank Burns' chicken lips on MASH- although that's not true ).

ALSO, regarding the "wagon story",um, yes, it most likely DID do permanent damage and I still have the scar. Apparently you've forgotten the night the BOOGIE MAN was on our dock and we had forgotten to feed the pony. You sent Middle Sis and I out to walk in the pitch black dark for the 200 yards to the pasture, while you stood up there in the light picking your finger nails and twirling your hair, protected by the baseball bat in YOUR hand. HMMMMMMMMM

CBW responds to the alleged "Boogie Man" incident and then says this about her own lips:

Oh, and Frank Burns lips? Maybe. But that's only because I don't trace an artificial boundary the size of Oklahoma around my existing lips and fill them in with lipstick. Which is then deposited on every glass this side of the Mississippi.

Little Sister never aggravated me as much as Middle Sister. Until now.

And finally, after biting her lipstick-encrusted lip for too long, Middle Sister finally chimes in:

"...Little sister never aggravated me as much as middle sister did"....OK, whatever!! An excerpt from my diary might read...."Today Chesapeake Bay Child bit me. After I stopped crying, we played house. She made dinner. It was rat poison. Just before I ate it, Mamma came downstairs and screamed. We were all in trouble. Just like the other day, when CBC tried to lick me. She pushed me off of my skateboard. I screamed and ran. Mamma said she didn't care who started it, we were all in trouble." Don't quote me, but I feel this is accurate. - middle sister

Chesapeake Bay Woman, who always has to have the last word, said...

I will confess to this: I did serve up d-con rat poison at a sisterly tea party but I (a) did not know what I was serving and (b) had no intention of having anyone swallow it and (c) was only using WHAT WAS HANDY, HELLO PARENTS??

p.s. Middle Sis and her Husband; Baby Sis; CBW and the CB Kids; and the CBW Parents will be having dinner together tonight. If anyone spots a mushroom cloud over Mathews County, you can count on it being me after picking up 32 lipstick-stained glasses from every corner of the house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Three Thing Thursday

This is from Hills Bay on Gwynn's Island a couple of weeks ago during a spell of frequent evening thunderstorms. Although these clouds were likely not associated with any storm, the skies were often filled with fast-moving and constantly changing cloud formations.

Completely unrelated to that opening paragraph, I'd like to announce that once again we find ourselves welcoming Thursday into our lives. Here in Chesapeake Bay Woman's World that can only mean one thing: Thank God I don't have to work tomorrow It is Three Thing Thursday, where I share three things and you share three things, anything at all, whatever you want, the more random and off the wall the better.

Here we go.

1. Tonight Middle Sister and Middle Sister's Husband are arriving in Mathews from Georgia. This will be the first time the Chesapeake Bay Family has seen Middle Sister since she ran off to get married in Hawaii so her family wouldn't attend her wedding. I've been told Middle Sis and Husband are taking the Chesapeake Bay Parents and I out to dinner, her treat. She also is attending her class reunion on Saturday, right after she leaves lipstick marks all over every single glass in my cupboard.

2. This weekend is Market Days in Mathews. I have to work much of the weekend and will miss most of it. (Insert sounds of growling followed by crying here in this space.)

3. Last night my Great Aunt Nellie (84 years old) and her husband Bill (92) surprised us with a visit. Bill drove all the way from their home in Florida. (See above where I note that he is 92 years old, but I neglected to mention he looks 25 years younger.) They were high school sweethearts who ended up marrying other people and living separate lives. When they both lost their spouses later in life, they reestablished contact and married. Bill has just written a book, has a bluetooth, a Facebook page and in short knows more about technology than I do. (Insert sounds of crying here since I still have dial-up internet and the only blue teeth I have are the ones the dentist hasn't pulled out yet.)

Now it's your turn. Tell me three things, tell me thirty things, just tell me something, anything at all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Event Planning 101

Here is a picture of an old shed camouflaged nicely in an overgrown pine tree patch down in the woods at Bethel Beach, and speaking of old and overgrown I'd like to talk about me and my role as an event planner at my paying job.

Did I mention yet that I am not an event planner? Oh. I meant to. That's where the camouflage aspect of the picture above comes into play, because just like that house, Chesapeake Bay Woman blends right in to the workforce as she pretends to be an event planner when she really isn't.

No matter, because I'm going to teach you everything I know about event planning. It's important to share best practices in any aspect of one's job, and so it is my pleasure to share with you The Chesapeake Bay Woman's Guide to Event Coordination and Project Management.

First, let's take a test to see how much you already know. Ready? Begin.

1. Your employer wants to throw a great big event for employees and their families, an appreciation day of sorts, involving a budget; the coordination of multiple outside vendors; and careful monitoring of the 40,562 tasks and details required to launch the event. The best person to tackle this job is:

a) Someone with an attention to detail who has a strong project management background.

b) Someone with an attention to dawdling who can't remember any details, whatsoever, about anything.

2. Selecting a date is critical to event planning. What's the best way to make your choice?

a) In January, select September 12, and then forget about the actual date (but not the month) until August comes rolling around.
b) Schedule the date for exactly four days after you return from being away from the office for a week and a half so you can attend to the nightmares details at the very last minute.

3. If your event will be outside, selecting a rain date is a fundamental step in the whole event planning process. This way you have what is known as a back up plan. It's always good to have not only a plan, but a back up plan. When do you start thinking about buying a plane ticket to South America this rain date?

a) Four days before the event, when you realize it's been raining for two weeks and today there are flood warnings and in four ridiculously short days children are supposed to be moon bouncing and rock-wall climbing and don't forget there will be a model aircraft show and not only will the model aircraft not fly but nobody will be there to watch due to gale force winds and horizontal rain.
b) Four days before the actual event, when someone casually asks if there is a rain date and you feel your heart make contact with your tonsils because all contracts have been signed and all vendors paid. There is no rain date.

4. Communication is extremely important when planning an event or running a large project. What are some examples of strong, professional statements you should make--with great conviction and without cracking a smile--to ensure the success of your major nightmare event?

a) "We need to confirm that Bubbles the Clown is bringing her own extension cords for the popcorn machine."
b) "Hey, Co-Worker, has Bubbles indicated what time she plans to arrive on Saturday?"
c) (To a potential volunteer for the event) "Yes, it's true that some people have a very serious fear of clowns. In light of that, I won't sign you up to assist Bubbles the Clown with her snow cone machine. How are your balloon-twisting skills?"

Congratulations! You are now fully prepared to execute your worst nightmare a highly successful, pain-free Major Event.

Featuring Bubbles the Clown.

Two continuing education credits will be awarded for this tutorial, and your certificate of completion will be mailed next week.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Locust Tree

This is a recent shot of Queens Creek as seen through a locust tree in my back yard. My whole life I've hated this tree, mainly because it drops branches that are riddled with thorns, and I am usually barefoot. Barefooted. Barefeeted. I rarely wear shoes.

(Sometimes I exhaust myself with my own ridiculosity. Ridiculousness. Inane, unnecessary, unrelated rambling thoughts. This happens to be one of those occasions. My apologies in advance for whatever you're about to barely tolerate read; taking a blog break does not appear to have been good for my functioning brain cell.)

Anywho, this tree and I have not been nice to each other over the years. For example, when Hurricane Isabel came through here a while back, I was praying for Mother Nature to please spare the beautiful sycamore tree that was growing along the shoreline to the left of Mr. Locust. In return, I would happily offer up and sacrifice this locust tree as a token of my gratitude. But once again the Chesapeake Bay Woman Luck prevailed, and my gorgeous, beautiful, statuesque sycamore tree came crashing to its death while Mr. Locust stood haughty and proud, snickering and pointing his thorny fingers at me when I came to survey the dreadful scene.

So it came to be that the locust was the remaining tree adorning the shoreline. Over time, the more I stared and scowled at it, the more I liked it, especially at sunset when the last rays of light bounce off it like in the photo above. We've come to an understanding, the thorny tree and I. No longer do I view it with hatred and disgust; I am resigned to looking at its good features.

This is a long way of building up to how I feel about the end of summer. I've been dreading September and Back to School and Busy Time at Work and Sports Schedules and Endless Chauffeuring of Kids, but now that the time is upon us I'm starting to think of the locust tree; of how I hated it but now love it. Nothing changed about that tree except the way I look at it.

So I will try to focus on the good features of fall: the brisk September evenings; the smell of burning dinner leaves; Saturdays in sweatshirts on the sidelines of soccer games; and the end of ant season lawn mower's hibernation until next spring.

On the flip side, though, don't ask me to be positive about the shorter days and the longer periods of darkness.

That's like asking me to be jubilant after stepping on the thorns of Mr. Locust Tree.

Barefoot. Barefooted. Without shoes.