Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowy Sunday

This is a shot of a little red barn that sits right off Route 14 near North.

(That would be North, Virginia, located in Mathews County. North the place not north the direction. We also have a Moon in Mathews County. Not just the moon up in the sky, but Moon. Moon, Virginia. Let's get back to the topic at hand now, which was what I wonder?)

This was taken the last time it snowed here and is not even close to representing how much snow was delivered from this weekend's storm. Depending on which snow drift you wander into today, it can be thigh-deep. The snow above is like a dusting of confectioner's sugar on a funnel cake. Yesterday's snow was more like a double-stuffed Oreo, times three and minus the chocolate cookie.

As of yesterday, when the snow was coming down sideways, I've not been brave enough to venture out with Precious, my camera. Precious and I will take many pictures as soon as there's no danger of her getting hurt or damaged.

(On the other hand, I walked the dog in my bathrobe, boots, hat and scarf and found it to be delightfully refreshing. Hopefully my neighbors weren't gazing out the window when their crazy, eccentric neighbor I walked by their house in a bathrobe during a blizzard. Seeing as they keep their Christmas tree up in the picture window year 'round, I'm thinking we're about even.)

One little thing I wanted to point out about the picture above, though, is the yellow sign there in between the two tree branches. That's Route 14 and the sign is warning drivers of a sharp turn ahead--that one right before the little bridge over the marsh at the remnants of the North River.

Right as you approach that bend but beyond this sign, there's a little house on the right where my pony Thunder once lived. Well, she didn't live in the house of course, but she lived in a field right beside it inside an electric fence which is no longer there. Back in the 1970's, the girl who owned her was getting too old and too tall for a smallish pony, and somehow or another we ended up with her. She arrived in a dump truck. To this day I have no idea how they got her on and off that thing.

Anyway, every time I pass by this house at that bend in the road, I think of Thunder. And I miss her terribly.

Getting back to the grand storm we've experienced, hopefully later today or tomorrow I'll post some photos of the snow. That is, I'll post snow pictures unless we lose current, which is the term used by the natives here to refer to electricity.

The very same natives wearing a bathrobe as they frolic around in a blizzard.

p.s. Evidently this snow frolicking in bathrobes is not limited to the greater Mathews County area. Just read Big Hair Envy's comment on yesterday's post.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


This is a tree stump that washed into the marsh at Aaron's Beach, most likely after Hurricaneaster Ida. Isn't it an odd shape?

We have very gifted artists around here who use stumps and driftwood like this as the foundation for things like sculptures.

This one looks a bit like a distorted, contorted heron to me. What do you think?

Unrelated to the above, last night I arrived home from my trip and promptly kissed the ground in my front yard. Then, after shooing off six cats, I raced inside and did a swan dive on my very own, cat-hair-filled bed. Then I unclogged the toilet in the kids' bathroom that was emitting a most foul odor, and cussed while my dial-up internet informed me it was still enjoying its week-long vacation. Then I opened up the icebox to be greeted by the very same pan of lasagna that I told my mother to eat up while I was gone and which now will be the main course for the neighborhood raccoons, who throw parties here every week. Last but not least, there's a 100% chance of snow today.

There's no place like home.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Here's a shot of the marsh looking towards the bay at Aaron's Beach. Every time I come here I see something different. This place always puts me at ease (except in the summer time when horseflies and fiddler crabs are rampant).

Recently I stole a friend's copy acquired a copy of the book "Mathews County Panorama: A Pictorial History of Mathews County 1791 - 1941" by the Mathews County Historical Society. It's jam packed with morsels of history and delicious old pictures.

(For the time being, let's not dwell on the fact that pictures are not normally delicious, let's just say that as I write this I'm starving and could probably eat an old picture, no problem. Update as of Thursday night: No, I cannot eat an old picture. I will not be eating again until the year 2014. 2014 also represents my current weight thanks to a little thing called meals and incidentals expenses which are all covered as part of my business travel .)

Below is an excerpt from the chapter "Sea and Soil - Our Pride and Wealth," page 9, which talks about the county's strong roots and prominent role in the shipbuilding industry:

"Mathews County was well established as a shipbuilding center in 1791 and remained so well into the 1830s and 1840s. This was not a new phenomenon but an industry which had grown steadily since the mid 1700s. Prior to that, the evidence suggests that Kingston Parish had produced watermen and an extensive local maritime industry by 1690.

In 1777, Mathews men built, on Pepper Creek, the largest ship in the Virginia State Navy. By 1790 as many as twelve ships a year (over20 tons each) were being built in the county. This maritime industry and the necessary transport of materials to support it created a surplus of food and goods in the county. The demand for Mathews vessels increased as wars abroad and at home (between 1792 and 1815) used the fast small ships produced here."

Mathews has a foundation and museum dedicated to preserving the county's maritime heritage. Click here for a link to the Mathews Maritime Museum. Below is what their About Us page has to say:

The Mathews Maritime Museum, owned and operated by the Mathews Maritime Foundation, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to preserving the maritime history of Mathews County, Virginia.

The framework of the Foundation grew out of the interest, ideas, and visions of a few Mathews residents who believed that the county's rich maritime history is often overlooked. In January of 1999, the Foundation incorporated and began steps toward accomplishing its long term goals; a living history museum and a shipyard accurately depicting the lives of individuals participating in the shipbuilding industry during the early 19th century.

The Foundation's future... picture this...
As you walk down the oyster shell paths you are taken back to an earlier time, a time when Mathews County was sustained by the artisans of the shipbuilding trade. You are greeted by the sights and sounds of a 19th century Chesapeake Bay fishing village alive with blacksmiths, coopers, sail makers, shipwrights, and others. Relax, enjoy, and participate while friendly costumed interpreters lead you on a journey through the maritime and cultural history of Mathews County.

Our logo is the schooner "EXPERIMENT", built on the East River in 1808. It is typical of the more than 2,000 seagoing vessels built in Mathews during the 18th and 19th centuries

I confess I've never been to the museum but plan to remedy that this year. Perhaps we'll add it and the Gwynn's Island Museum to the Blog Fest 2010 tour.

It's Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Three-Thing Thursday

Step right up, folks, it's time for the three-ring circus known as Three-Thing Thursday. That's where I share three things and you share three--or more--things, whatever you want, anything at all.

Let's get crackin'

1. Above is a shot from Big Hair Envy's grandmother's house. We are seriously considering making this a stop on the Blog Fest 2010 tour.

2. Two weeks from today I'll be headed to New York City with Big Hair Envy, Noe Noe Girl and Ann Marie. To say I'm excited is the understatement of the century.

3. Since I came to Northern Virginia earlier this week, I've gained more weight than during Thanksgiving and Christmas thanks to the decadent food/restaurants that are not available in Mathews, Gloucester, Middlesex, King and Queen and all other surrounding counties.

Now it's your turn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Conversation

This lucky sea gull is perched near the Sea Breeze. He's lucky because he's not trapped in a training class for five days straight with no access to the internet. He's not missing his children's basketball games. He's able to enjoy the peace and quiet and relax. He's not stressed.

This week I'm in Northern Virginia without access to the blogosphere--or my children. Although I wrote this post last Saturday, I'd like to make a prediction about today, Wednesday: I'M READY TO COME HOME.

Update (as of Tuesday night): I am spending $6.00 for fifteen minutes on here to say I AM READY TO COME HOME BEFORE I GAIN 20 POUNDS. Vietnamese, Mexican, and now I see there is a Thai place right near where I'm staying. Too much. It's just too much. I'd be 400 pounds if I lived up here, plus I'm not exercising at all. OK, enough whining.

I've notified this sea gull that I'd like to be rescued. Here's how that conversation went:

CBW: "Hey, Gull. It's CBW."

Gull: (silence)

CBW: "Listen, I know this is asking a lot, but can you fly up here and take me back home? I've had enough."

Gull: "What?"

CBW: "I know it's asking a lot, but if you come rescue me I'll be your BFF."

Gull: "You better come up with another offer. That's not cuttin' it."

CBW: "Popcorn and bread crumbs for life?"

Gull: "Deal."

So, folks, as you can see I've officially lost my marbles and have resorted to talking about flying home with a sea gull even though as I write this I haven't even left home yet.

Update: As of Tuesday night, it would take a 747 to lift me off the ground now after all I've been eating. Please get me out of here before I hit someone in the eye with the buttons popping off my clothes.

If you can follow any of this madness, you should seek medical attention immediately you're doin' good.

Now it's your turn. Tell me what conversation you'd have with this sea gull. Or tell me what sort of food you'd want if you could have anything that is currently not available to you.

Then contact your nearest mental health professional. Tell 'em the talking sea gull CBW sent you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Country Life

Above are the Chesapeake Bay Children on a recent outing to Aarons Beach. It was a gorgeous day, albeit a bit nippy.

That nippiness (it's a word, at least in my house) didn't stop Chesapeake Bay Daughter from taking off her shoes and socks for our stroll down the beach.

Chesapeake Bay Son and Daughter were born when I lived in Northern Virginia. After they came along, the urge to make more money, to work fancy schmancy jobs and to live in a place where the neighbors can see your every move really started losing its appeal.

When I thought back on my own childhood, which was full of long, lazy days exploring and playing outside; with little to no contact with civilization; where the friends you had in kindergarten were still your friends in high school; and where much of the landscape is untouched and undeveloped; I realized I wanted my own children to grow up in a rural environment away from the hustle and bustle and the fast, hurried pace of city life.

Don't get me wrong - I am not trying to disparage city life. It's just not my cup of tea. Just like living 40 miles from the nearest Kohls or Rack Room Shoes or Target or Best Buy or Costco may not be someone else's cup of tea. It's a matter of opinion and personal preference, although sometimes there is no choice in the matter due to employment, proximity to family, etc.


This angst about my children growing up in an urban environment coincided with a call from my parents who very generously said that if I were interested in moving back home, there was an empty house waiting: the same house I grew up in, right on the water. They were going to live next door at my grandfather's old house.

They didn't have to ask me twice. The stars and planets aligned, I landed a job within commuting distance, and we came home to Mathews.

And now my kids can stroll barefoot in January down an undeveloped beach. They can hop in the canoe and explore Miller's Cove; they can go off for hours to play in the woods across the creek where they most definitely are trespassing on someone else's property.

OK, that last one makes me nervous, so let's not talk about that.

Am I sheltering them too much? Am I encouraging them to play in the woods on other people's property? Am I depriving them of the social and cultural experiences only available in urban areas?

Perhaps. But they're OK with that. And so am I.

Monday, January 25, 2010

City Life

Welcome to Monday, not just the worst day of the week, but the day where I begin five days of entrapment in Northern Virginia far away from the comfort of my dial-up internet my quiet, peaceful Mathews. The crab above pretty much sums up my feelings on this topic.

In anticipation of no access to a computer this week, I prepared some posts in advance and queued them up. Heaven forbid I should go a day without posting, whether I have access to the internet or not.

Northern Virginia is no stranger to me. After college in Charlottesville, I came back to Mathews with the intention of putting my bachelors degree in Latin American Studies to good use. Since you can't really put that to good use around here, I figured I'd become a teacher. After working as a substitute at Mathews Intermediate School for several months, I scratched that occupation off my list. There was a hole in the paper from all the scratching.

Then a college friend said he could get me a job with Sprint in Northern Virginia. No experience necessary. It so happens, I had no experience! So I packed up all my worldly possessions, stuffed them into a grocery bag Volkswagen bug and headed north.

One job led to another job which paid more money, and then another job and more money and more money and before you knew it, little old Chesapeake Bay Woman with a bachelors degree in Underwater Basket Weaving was working for a fancy schmancy consulting firm rubbing elbows with fancy schmancy people.

Although the money was good and the work experience invaluable, I never intended to stay up there very long. Mathews was always calling me back.

More on this snooze-worthy riveting tale tomorrow. In the interim, what did want to do/be when you entered the work force and how does it compare to what you ended up doing?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


This is a sunrise on the creek from a week or two ago.

During the week I wake up in the dark to be at my paying job by 7:30 a.m. Therefore I get to see lots of sunrises, sometimes before I even leave the house depending on the time of year.

The shot above shows some ice on the creek that has now melted.

Speaking of melting, I'm liable to have a meltdown* starting today and ending next Saturday, thanks to my paying job. For now, however, I'm going to sit back, relax, ignore the impending doom** and enjoy my Sunday.

* Meltdown = Dread and fear relating to having to be in Northern Virginia for the paying job. All week. No access to internet during the day and very limited access at night, depending on the mercy of a hotel business center.

** Doom = Northern Virginia, which is loaded with cars and people and traffic and more people and more traffic and congestion. And people. Plus traffic.

There is a good reason why I moved from NoVa back to Mathews years ago, and it involves a sincere desire to live far away from people, traffic, concrete, pavement, chain stores, malls and insanity. With all due respect to Northern Virginians, if I didn't have to go for the paying job, I'd be thrilled never to see the beltway, Route 7, the toll road, the Springfield mixing bowl, people or I-66 ever again.

However, I am looking forward to eating Vietnamese and Thai food until I bust wide open.

Have a great Sunday that does not involve overeating stress and anxiety relating to an upcoming business trip.

p.s. For those--such as Mathews Mark-- who may be looking to throw a party at my house this week, the Chesapeake Bay Parents will be here minding the place, so just make sure you invite them . Oh, and if you could do a load of laundry and clean the entire upstairs I'd truly appreciate it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This was supposed to be a seagull flying in just the right spot at just the right time, except Chesapeake Bay Woman snapped the photo at just the wrong time. Mr. Seagull was supposed to be further along in his flight plan, at a higher elevation. Oh well.

The Blog Festers will recognize this as the place we spent the last afternoon and evening of the 2009 Blog Fest.

Speaking of Blog Fest, if you're interested in attending, click here to view the 2010 information site. Right now, we're a bit sparse on information, but that doesn't mean there isn't information to share.

What it means is Chesapeake Bay Woman can't even maintain can barely maintain anything one blog, much less two. In a couple of weeks I'll post a proposed schedule of fun-filled events which may or may not include a ghost, a cheeseburger boat, highway-hogging fiddler crabs, karaoke, tall tales, scenic vistas, the scent of warm pound cake, and a goose--with his own Facebook page--gone mad.

Getting back to the picture above, this is Hills Bay off Gwynn's Island. A lot of things converge here besides bloggers once a year. The Chesapeake Bay is off to the right; the Piankatank is slightly to the left; my creek is further down to the left; and Deltaville is right there. Aaaall the way back where those trees are.

That horizon is Deltaville.

One of our newer commenters, Jamie, has a blog about Deltaville called Deltaville Vignettes. Although Jamie and I have not met yet, we speak the same Tidewater language. Deltaville is so much like Mathews that her stories are a familiar song to me.

Recently, I learned something very valuable from her. She educated me on the more civilized way of addressing a sting from a nettle. We won't discuss the cruder method, although those who attended Blog Fest last year should recall that a cup was involved in the procurement of the remedy.

Click here and give Jamie a read, you won't be sorry.

Then leave me a comment with a story or remark about Deltaville. Or about Blog Fest. Or about stinging nettle remedies. Or the price of sugar in Jamaica.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Above is a dimly lit shot of Milford Haven looking towards the Hole in the Wall and the ice plant. I took this from the public landing on Gwynn's Island.

(Forgive me if it's not the ice plant. Just play along. That's what I've always called it. Mathews Mark will set me straight, no doubt. Before he does, let me just say that whatever it is officially called, my father worked there as a teenager, and ice was involved somehow or another.)

Speaking of the Hole in the Wall, which reminds me of fishing nightmares trips with my father across the bay, I'd like to take a day moment to talk about fishing.

Since Mathews is surrounded by water, most people here have gone subsistence pleasure fishing at some point or another. (Commercial fishing is another topic entirely, but rest assured Chesapeake Bay Woman has some stories about that.)

Some folks are fishing fanatics. Some are unwilling captives held hostage on a boat with their parents. Some have to listen to inane CB radio chatter while breathing in fish fumes. Still others are are lying down in the cabin turning green from yet another bumpy trip across the bay.

My parents used to take the Chesapeake Bay Sisters fishing way too often quite a bit back in the day. We bottom fished. We trolled. We sometimes turned green from bouncing like a cork in the middle of the choppy bay. We sometimes swore we were never going across that bay again.

The nearby Mud Hole, at the mouth of the Piankatank River, was one of my father's favorite spots since it was so close to our creek. I remember catching so many spot there, you could almost put away your fishing gear and watch them jump in the boat. Spot and croaker are so plentiful here I grew to dread the smell of fried fish coming from the kitchen, because that meant a plate full of crust and bones. Spot are small, bony fish. Give me a nice filleted flounder any day. Please.

Anyway, he also took us way down the Piankatank River, where we did some trolling. Funny, but I don't recall ever catching one single fish while trolling. Those lures were sure fun to play with though. Except for those pesky hooks.

In adulthood I haven't done much fishing, but the few times I have gone are quite memorable.

For instance, there was the time I went surf fishing down in Nags Head on one of the windiest days of the year. It was blowing a gale, and the surf was rough.

Did I mention I had never done any fishing in the surf before? Well, that's because we don't do that around here in Mathews. We bottom fish on nice, calm creeks and rivers. Or we troll, which means you don't even have to touch the rod, the boat does all the work.

Anywho, I was with a bunch of folks who knew what they were doing with this whole surf fishing thing. Not wanting to let on that Chesapeake Bay Woman--hailing from Mathews County, the spot and croaker capital of the world--had never cast out into thundering surf, I just took a few moments to observe them.

No problem. They seemed to be doing it with the greatest of ease. Piece of cake!

Actually, it wasn't a piece of cake. It was a piece of back.

As in, Chesapeake Bay Woman waded into the thundering surf, and as she attempted to cast out towards that vast expanse of ocean, she hooked herself in the back.

The End.

Let's hear your fishing stories.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Three-Thing Thursday

If it's Thursday, that means it's Three-Thing Thursday, which sounds very close to Three-Ring Circus, which sounds identical to Chesapeake Bay Woman's life.

Every Thursday I share three things, and you share three things. Whatever pops into your head, apropos of nothing.

For those who may have stumbled to this blog today thinking they were going to read something quaint about Mathews County, I offer my sincerest apologies for what I'm about to share with you. I promise it's not usually like this, but today I can't help it.

Let's begin.

1. Yesterday was a most stressful day at the paying job. With a thousand things going on at once; the phone ringing off the hook; people sending rapid-fire instant messages with that annoying little ping that shoots through me like a knife; and trying to prepare for being out of the office for the next week and a half, I was more than a bit distracted and stressed. When things calmed down in the afternoon, you could hear a pin drop in the office suite. However, my mind was still going a mile a minute, reviewing mental lists, trying to make sure I didn't forget anything. I was utterly and completely oblivious to my surroundings when this happened: I burped. Loudly. Very loudly.

2. Knowing full well my supervisor could hear me since she sits in the office right next to mine, I covered my mouth in shock and horror, wondering what to do. My eyes darted back and forth, beads of sweat broke out on my forehead, and my heart was pounding out of my chest. It was so loud there's no way she didn't hear it. My old supervisor would understand, and we'd die laughing. But this is a reasonably new manager, so I decided if she said anything, I'd lie and say it was something that fell on my desk that made an unusual noise. (Something like a burp.)

3a. Come to find out, after sitting there stewing and fretting for what seemed like days hours, I remembered that in the midst of all the earlier hullabaloo when 42 people were coming at me at once, she had told me she was going to lunch. So she was gone. She hadn't heard a thing.

Then Chesapeake Bay Woman breathed a sigh of relief so strong it blew the papers off her desk. She vowed to be more cognizant of her surroundings in the future. And perhaps to eat more slowly.

3b. Today is MENTAL PAUSE MAMMA'S birthday! Happy, happy Birthday, MPM. May your day be filled with laughter and good friends. Good friends who have sense enough not to burp in an office environment.

Now it's your turn. Please share three (or more) things. Whatever you want, anything at all.

Be sure to click on the link to MPM's site and wish her a very Happy Birthday.

p.s. Tune in again tomorrow, when I promise not to share any more juvenile (albeit completely unintentional), unprofessional office behavior better suited to the confines of a fraternity house one's own home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Ice Box

Today, let's take a brief stroll down memory lane and talk about a kitchen contraption referred to by the Chesapeake Bay Family as an ice box.

My paternal grandparents had two ice boxes, which seemed odd to me at the time. The newer one was modern for its time (the 1970s) and lived in the kitchen where my grandmother spent most of her day. The other, identical to the one pictured above, was used as a spare.

I remember everything about that old icebox: the feel of the cold, metal pull-handle; the squeak of the door hinges; the blinding glare of the interior light bulb; the metal grating that served as shelving; the smell.

(This wasn't a bad smell, mind you, just a smell. If you want to talk about a bad smell, take a gander in my ice box. That's more of an odor. A very rank odor. But let's get back on track, shall we?)

Unlike my maternal grandmother, this grandmother wasn't from around these parts. This grandmother, the wife of a general, was a former city slicker who dressed to the nines and served icky things like gelatin molds which had all sorts of eyeballs odd looking tidbits jiggling and wiggling about inside. She always had the latest contraptions, including one of the very first microwaves, which was large enough to house a small family but could fry up a pound of bacon in thirty minutes no time at all.

(Coincidentally, this microwave was manufactured around the same year as the computer I'm currently using. Plus, my monitor can fry my retinas a pound of bacon just as quickly. But let's get back on track, shall we?)

The differences in the two iceboxes mirrored the differences between my grandparents. My grandfather was reliable, dependable, and no-frills like the old icebox. My grandmother was flashy, fancy, and thoroughly modern, like her new icebox.

They both did the job well, these two iceboxes, but I always preferred the older one. Although it lacked all the flash, the pizazz, the widgets, the gadgets, the compartments, and the ice makers, it performed its job reliably, adequately, modestly and honestly.

Sometimes in life that's all you need. Something reliable and dependable without all the fanfare.

I miss that old icebox.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Forever Etched

I spy the door to a gorgeous old farmhouse.

I spy a beautiful etched-glass window.

This beautiful etched-glass window and the gorgeous house are part of Big Hair Envy's grandmother's place which used to be a post office back in the day--as in back in the day before our day; in other words way, way back in the day.

Pardon me while I write my acceptance speech for the Most Ridiculous Overuse of "Back in the Day" contest.

I was mesmerized by this door and its glass. As my eyes twirled like pinwheels going from one concentric circle to the next, Big Hair Envy did tell me something about it. However, due to my ADD etched-glass stupor, I failed to absorb and/or retain everything she said. What I think I heard was that they considered replacing the door and the glass but since they were unable to locate anything close to the uniquely detailed original, they decided not to mess with perfection.

Hopefully Big Hair Envy will read today and clarify the Door Story for us.

Hopefully my math teacher will never read this and question my use of the term "concentric circles, " which may or may not be what we're looking at in the design above, but which sounded right when I searched for a descriptor.

Disclaimer: Math should be outlawed was my worst subject.

I also took some shots gazing out through this glass from the interior, and they are lovely. Due to the miracle of dial-up internet, however, I don't expect to have those shots loaded until two years after Never this weekend.

Has anyone out there seen an original door like this? As many old places as I've trespassed on visited, I've never seen a window as detailed and intricate as this one.

Thanks again to BHE for the legal trespassing opportunity to visit this local treasure.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Barn

Once upon a Saturday, a group of friends met in bustling downtown Shackelfords, Virginia, for lunch. Afterwards they drove down some winding roads to property--which includes an old farmhouse and numerous barns--that's been in Big Hair Envy's family for many decades.

Then after Chesapeake Bay Woman realized she could walk all over the property and take photos without fear of legal ramifications, she came to the conclusion that she'd died and gone to heaven

The End.

Now for the Epilogue, in which we discover that eerie similarities in barn doors can establish a blood kin relationship, particularly if one says so has a vivid imagination.

The shot above from Big Hair's family property is of the beautiful barn, a gorgeous old tree and a very, very vexing sign. While nobody was looking, I stuck out my tongue and thumbed my nose at this sign, because we had Big Hair's permission to be there.

We could go inside the barn, snoop through old boxes wander around the house, and loiter to our hearts' content. These No Trespassing signs were powerless to do anything to deter us. (Insert the sound of evil laughter here.)

Now we've arrived at the part of the post which provides pictorial evidence that Big Hair Envy and I are kin, even if we can't establish an actual family link, and even though nobody has ever emphatically (or ever) stated that barn door similarities prove kinship.

The barn door above is from her grandmother's property. Note the weather-worn red paint; the cracks in the door, and the vine forking out like veins over the woodwork.

Now compare that to the shot below.
This is the upper-level door from my grandparents' old barn, which now belongs to my parents. This barn is right next door to me, but about 30 miles away from Big Hair Envy's. Notice the weather-worn red paint; the cracks in the door, and the shadow of the walnut tree which forks out out like veins over the woodwork.

The only real difference between the two photos, aside from the obvious location, is the lighting.

In conclusion, based on the fact that we both had grandparents who owned red barns with almost identical doors, Big Hair and I must be kin. You won't find these sorts of scientifically-based assertions anywhere else on the internet. This is pioneering genealogical research at its best. Barns can establish kinship.

Just remember, you read it here first.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Old House

These remains of a beautiful old two-story house are on Gwynn's Island.

Most of the upper level is gone except for the facade. What a gorgeous facade this is. A diamond-shaped upper window; horizontal boards; a window to nowhere; and curved tree branches framing everything.

The window to nowhere alone could inspire me to write a story stretching from here to Shackelfords, Virginia. And back.

Speaking of Shackelfords, and we just barely were, yesterday I had lunch with some wonderful people at Shackelfords. These wonderful people
made me wear a tiara, but that's a story for another time.

After terrorizing the Shackelfords metropolitan area, we traveled to Big Hair Envy's grandmother's home, which is a place we can legally trespass in spite of all the No Trespassing signs a spectacular old farm house with several exquisite barns.

I took so many photos that my newly replaced batteries started to wear down. Downloading and then uploading all these photos will require all day Sunday and well into Monday a bit of time, but rest assured this week is going to be replete with photos of one of the prettiest old homes I've had the pleasure to legally trespass inside visit.

Thank you, Big Hair Envy, for letting us legally trespass.

Have a peaceful Sunday full of family, loved ones and friends who let you legally trespass.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lazy Day

In honor of a lazy Saturday, I'm posting a very lazy picture which attempted to capture that bird flying there just above the water. (Not the white dot on the left, which might be a capsized boat for all we know; but the dark arc there in the middle).

Because the picture is so awful, it's impossible to discern whether this was a heron, a pelican, an airborne mermaid, or a bufflehead.

About a week ago, I didn't know what a bufflehead was. Now, a week later, I've already forgotten but I remember that "bufflehead" is a great word.

Actually, I do recall that bufflehead are those tiny little ducks which swim underwater. So the water creature above was most likely an airborne mermaid a heron

Also in honor of this lazy Saturday I am wondering about copyright law sharing an excerpt from a newly acquired book written by the Mathews County Historical Society called, "Mathews County Panorama":

"Mathews County lies in southeastern Virginia. Save for a stretch of land by which it is attached to Gloucester County, all its boundaries are water. On the east and south, its shores are washed by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, on the southwest is Mobjack Bay, on the west North River and on the north is the Piankatank River. Its geographic location gives a clue to the origin of the old saying, "One only goes to Mathews when going to Mathews."

It's true. Mathews is not a thoroughfare, it's a destination. You either want to be here or you don't.

I do.

Here's to a lazy Saturday.

Friday, January 15, 2010


There's an area in nearby Gloucester County called Guinea.

(By the way, the picture above was not taken down Guinea, it's from Bethel Beach shortly after the Hurricaneaster known as Ida.)

For the unacquainted, Guinea is an isolated section of Gloucester on the water. It's sort of like Tangier Island, in that the people there still speak with a certain accent/dialect supposedly descended from the early colonists. They are well-known as excellent watermen and have quite the seafaring history.

With all that isolation, however, comes a reputation that is not always complimentary. Although most of them are as good as gold, they are known to be rough. Tough. Not people you want to mess with. Or look directly in the eye.

I'm not saying that any of this reputation is true. But true or not the legends and the reputation have persisted over many centuries generations.

My mother grew up in Gloucester and graduated from Gloucester High School. This evening as we were leaving a basketball game, she was reminiscing about her school days, when all of a sudden she veered to the topic of Guinea. (She dragged me kicking and screaming with her.)

Below is a reasonably close representation of the discussion that ensued.

Disclaimer: The following disparaging statements were made at the end of a long, long day by a very tired mother. They fell upon the ears of a very stunned but equally tired daughter. The daughter would like to say that she loves Guinea and everyone who currently lives there, anyone who used to live there, and anyone who ever will live there. I promise I'm not making eye contact when I say that either. Let me repeat: Guineamen are great, and I am afraid of love Guinea.

Chesapeake Bay Mother: "Lawd! Those girls from Guinea. You didn't want to mess with them. They'd just as soon shoot you as look at you."

Chesapeake Bay Woman, very worn down from a long day of driving and shopping with her mother: "Hmmm."

Chesapeake Bay Mother: "Yes indeed. They were mean as snakes, almost like a different species! Some of them had webbed feet."

Chesapeake Bay Woman, incredulous and wondering where the mothership was that deposited her on this strange planet: "What??"

Chesapeake Bay Mother: "Yes, and they wore flip flops to school. Actually the ones on the island never did go to school."

CBW, wondering how somebody with webbed feet slides a flip flop on: "What did they do?"

CBM: "Who knows! Not just that, but they were the only people I knew--the girls now--who would put permanents in their hair and never brush it out! They'd come to school with their hair all shiny and curled up."

Chesapeake Bay Woman, wondering if she ought not get out of the car and run--quickly-- to look for the mothership that so cruelly abandoned her here: "WHAT??"

Chesapeake Bay Mother: "Yes, lawd. You remember I told you about that time there was a Guinea girl on our basketball team, and she was shall we say expecting. The basketball coach was so afraid of her she didn't say anything and the girl played basketball most of the season. Pregnant. Really. The coach was afraid of her."

Chesapeake Bay Woman, starting to twitch and flinch: "Hmmm."

Thankfully something else happened to change the subject.

I think it was when I saw the lights from the mothership and I said I had to go.

The End.

p.s. On a more civilized note, Guinea is also the home of the Guinea Jubilee. Click here for more info on this annual festival which draws people from all over. Nary a one of them shows up with webbed feet wearing flip flops. I don't think.

p.s.s.t.Mathews Mark, since you are threatening to leave us tomorrow due to lack of computer, please regale us with any stories you have relating to Guinea, but remember to be nice. Guineaman are people too. Even if they might have webbed strange feet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three-Thing Thursday.

Welcome to another edition of Three-Thing Thursday. Before we dive in headfirst, let's pause for a soliloquy regarding the passage of time.

(High school English teacher Mrs. McD. would be so proud that I remembered the word "soliloquy" that she wouldn't mind whether I was using it correctly or not.)

Things have changed since I came along. Back then, a week lasted the equivalent of a month. These days, Monday Thursday seems to happen every other day. All I did was blink and another one showed up, just like that. It's the same with Christmas and summer time. In fact, a year now consists of 365 Thursdays, half of which represent the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas, while the other half is winter summer.

If you're completely unable to follow what I am talking about, this means you're enjoying impeccably good mental health. Congratulations!

Every Thursday, I share three or more random things, and you share three or more things. Anything at all. Whatever you want.

I'll go first:

1. Today I'm driving 40 miles (one-way) to the Social Security Administration to legally change my name back to the one that was bestowed upon me at birth. This will be the very last time I make such a trip. Ever.

2. I'm taking Chesapeake Bay Mother, who originally bestowed that birth name upon me. She is uninterested in the Social Security aspect of the trip, because she wants to stop at the La-Z Boy furniture outlet, Trader Joe's, Best Buy, Target and Golden Corral. Help.

3a. Have I mentioned that when Chesapeake Bay Mother is turned loose in a store (which is rarely since we live in the hinterlands), she runs off and disappears, never to be found again? Then I spend my entire once-a-year shopping experience not shopping but searching for my mother, who wonders what all the fuss is when she finally comes out from her hiding place. (Try playing this hide-and-seek game in the The Biggest Mall Ever Built in Georgia during the Family Visit to see Middle Sister, except don't because you'll end up crying.)

3b. Did I mention I have to go to Social Security? The only thing worse is the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

3.c. But wait! Tomorrow I must go to the DMV for another new license. It's another new license because my old one expired three weeks ago, so off I went to have it renewed. However, the paperwork to change my name had not arrived prior to the expiration date on the old license. So now I have the privilege of repeating the whole DMV experience. Yay! Oh, what a joyous occasion this is going to be.

3.d. Help.

Now it's your turn. Tell me three things, tell me more than three things. Tell me anything that will make me laugh after returning from a day trip to outpatient services at the nearest mental health facility Newport News.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tiny House

This precious little house sits just off the cut-through road from Route 14 to the Court House, or as I call it The Back Way In.

It's on the right just as you turn from Route 14. I've been drawn to it my entire life and was only recently brave enough to stop in the middle of the road and take pictures of it.

They don't make houses like this any more. In fact, it's hard to call this a house when it looks more like a cabin or a hunt shack. Except this is Mathews, not the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a hunt shack on a busy road doesn't sound right.

(Of course herds of fiddler crabs running across major roads doesn't sound right either, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. Anything goes around here.)

That front porch is adorable-- and look at the window hanging open there in the front to the right of the porch. It's precious, I tell you.

Although there was a time when I thought a big house was desirable, after the burden of keeping up with one fell entirely on me; after I finally admitted once and for all that I was born with ADD a severe domestic disability; when I discovered that the organizing and cleaning gene that many possess was lacking on my part, I decided that a tiny little house like this one was all I could ever hope to maintain ever needed.

There is another old house that looks almost identical to this one down Knights Wood Road, where that very unfortunate incident occurred several years ago. Come to think of it, both of these cute little houses are associated with very unfortunate events nearby. These were really big unfortunate events, especially for around these parts.

On second thought, maybe I don't want a house exactly like this one.

Surely there is someone in the county who knows more about this adorable abode. Mathews Mark? If you don't know, perhaps you can ask The Guys?

For the remaining two of you rest of you, what sort of house would you live in if you could trade yours in for the ideal one?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mercury Rising

Here's a picture of some Canada geese who belly up to the all-u-can-eat buffet frequent my mother's back yard in search of corn. They don't have to search very hard.

My mother spends a large part of her day tending to geese, ducks, dogs and my father cats, but the most difficult challenge involves herding Gustav the goose in and out of his pen each day. This requires quick reflexes, lots of flailing arm movements, the skills of a snake charmer and fast-moving feet.

Recently as I observed the daily goose-herding scene unfold, I flashed back to another similar childhood horror incident involving almost identical motions.

I remembered my mother chasing mercury from a broken glass thermometer.

Remember glass? Remember when everything was made of glass instead of plastic?

Once upon a time, thermometers were made of glass, very fragile glass, and they contained mercury. Lethal, deadly mercury.

At least according to Chesapeake Bay Mother.

These glass thermometers were so fragile that a feverish child could snap one in two with one hand. Or somehow or another the thermometer would end up shattered in the floor. For example.

The breaking of a thermometer back in our house in those days set off a chain of events that included screaming, hollering, fear, panic and herding. A tiny drop of mercury the size of a needle in a haystack would bounce from the broken thermometer to the floor to the walls to Jupiter our central nervous systems.

At least according to Chesapeake Bay Mother.

As I recall, there was much ado about nothing. Because to the best of my knowledge that mercury never was caught. She either opened the door and let it bounce out or it landed squarely on our dinner plates where we proceeded to swallow it while chewing with our mercury-filled teeth.

Was the Chesapeake Bay Family the only one to chase mercury until it fled the county and bounced into the next state until it was safely out of the house, sprinting towards the bay? Or is this a case of overreacting, like the time when Chesapeake Bay Mother had us guzzling syrup of Ipecac because she thought we had trichinosis after I served up some Gunnoes sausage that, while blackened on the outside, may have been slightly rare on the inside?

Just wondering.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blog Fest 2010

What's more fun than a barrel of bloggers monkeys?

Where else can you rub elbows with a baroness while watching a grandma frolic in the hot tub?

What small-town event drew international attention and inspired Hollywood producers to create a film which went on to earn millions and trillions of dollars such that the attendees never had to work again?

The answer to all of these is Blog Fest, although that last one hasn't happened--yet.

Yes, it's time to stop dawdling, cease with the dilly dallying, push away from the table of procrastination and get to gettin'. It's time to begin plans for Blog Fest 2010.

Last summer a group of 16 or so bloggers came together in Mathews County, Virginia, for the very first Blog Fest. Those original attendees, who came from all corners of the map, are listed on my side bar. We ate, drank, talked, laughed, drank, sang, toured, photographed, drank, ate, hot tubbed, swam, beached, and boated. It was a blast.

Below is bare-bones information for this year's event. There is also a separate blog dedicated to Blog Fest, where you'll find information from last year.

If you're reading this blog post, you're invited to attend.

What: Blog Fest 2010, a weekend of hijinx fun and frivolity

When: Thursday, July 15 - Sunday, July 18 (Arriving Thursday evening, departing Sunday morning.)

Where: Mathews County, Virginia. Chesapeake Bay Woman's house is a disaster home base.

Who: Anyone is invited. If we receive an overwhelming response, which I don't really anticipate, we will establish a limit. This is highly unlikely, though.

What to expect: I don't know. Anything. Everything. Nothing at all. Last year, we toured Mathews' beaches; meandered around the village; ate at some local restaurants; went on a work boat tour of the lighthouse; and spent a magical evening on a Gwynn's Island beach.

I am open to suggestions on activities but think we will kick off the same as last year with a cookout at my house Thursday night. The other two days will likely include some sight seeing, a boat ride, perhaps a trip to the Gwynn's Island Museum, perhaps a tour of a local historic home, and free time - especially for those who attended last year and have seen many of the key sights already.

As Big Hair Envy--my co-host and partner in crime--and I iron out the details, we'll let you know. Until then, you can e-mail me with any questions @

If you are interested in attending, please leave a comment on the Blog Fest website and send me an e-mail. Include your name, where you're coming from, mode of transportation and any other relevant information that will help us with logistics. I can send you information on lodging, although there is plenty of room at my house and in my yard (for campers). Because commercial lodging is very limited, the sooner you make your reservations the better.

Hope to see you this summer and don't forget to check the lackluster and uninformative fun-filled, action-packed Blog Fest website for the latest and greatest Blog Fest news.

Be there. Aloha.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boats on the Creek

This is a completely untouched picture from a couple of weeks ago when mist and fog crept up the creek to take a peek.*

I shot this while standing in between two pine trees down on the shoreline.

It's a peculiar picture, yes--not to mention slightly lopsided--but I marvel at how the creek and the fog blur together with nothing distinguishing one from the other except the outline of those trees and boats.

(If you're having trouble seeing the boats, click on the image and they'll be much clearer.)

The boats to the left of the distant trees are docked at the Queens Creek Marina, which is where my kindergarten teacher and piano teacher, Mrs. Hudgins, used to live. I spent many a Saturday walking down her long, dirt lane for lessons. All by myself I'd tippy toe into the yard just waiting for her Great Dane to come thundering up. His bark alone would make the windows rattle.

Click here for an old post on those lessons,that dog, and the time my mother drove past me sixteen times before remembering she had to pick me up. For Chesapeake Bay Mother's version of that same story, click here.

The other boat towards the right, up on a lift, belongs to some people who live on the other side of Smithers Waterfront Cemetery. During Hurricane Isabel the tides came up so high and the winds were so strong that the boat came loose and floated straight down the creek. She landed almost exactly where I stood taking this picture, right at the pine trees on the shore.

I remember wading out to catch her so I could secure her to one of the pine trees. The water was up to my waist and the wind was howling. Eventually, after the worst of the storm had passed, a neighbor across the creek came in his boat and towed her back home.

What these two stories have to do with each other is absolutely nothing, except they both pop into my head just by gazing at this weird-ish photograph of boats on the creek on a misty, foggy day.
*I'm not sure what's up these days with the Dr. Seuss-like words and rhymes coming out of my fingertips onto this blog. After writing the sentence about the mist and fog creeping to take a peek at the creek, this came bubbling out:

Up the creek

To take a peek
The mist and fog did crawl.
They snooped around
Hanging close to the ground
And really found nothing at all

May you have a Sunday as brainless and mindless as everything above the poem above, but as peaceful and tranquil as that creek.

(Without the mist and the fog

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Although it's not readily visible, there's a house hidden in this snow-laden thicket. It's a tan house with white trim; you can juuuuust make out the door. (If you click on the image it makes a world of difference.)

Mother Nature tucked us snugly under a light blanket of snow Friday, and I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph such a rare occurrence around here.

In spite of the warm, welcoming sign on that tree, I was not trespassing. No, I was stopped in the middle of the road with my window rolled down. The house is only a hop, skip and a jump from the road.

Above is a better view, although the house still tries to blend in, wishing to remain anonymous and forgotten. So I left her alone and did not trespass in spite of my ardent desire to fling open the car door and trot the few steps over the ditch and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go... the horse knows the way to Stop it NOW, CBW. (Oh, all right!)

No, I stifled my urge to get out and walk over to take a look inside investigate further. Since it was so quiet and nobody else was around, I settled into the notion of snapping photos from the comfort of my car while Mr. No Trespassing Sign ridiculed, scoffed and very clearly disapproved of my activity. He was blatantly rude, actually, displaying very unbecoming behavior and a severe lack of decorum.

Just when I began to feel comfortable--in spite of the rude sign--there in the middle of the road with my window rolled down, listening to the exquisitely soft, soothing and tranquil sound that snow makes after it falls, yes right there in the glare of a most impertinent No Trespassing sign, a car came barreling right up behind me.

Then I had a heart attack.

The End.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Bird Count

According to this week's Gazette Journal, there was an Audubon Christmas Bird Count for Mathews and Gloucester Counties last Sunday. Since 1969 this annual event, which relies on volunteers to count and record various species of bird, tracks the data as an indicator of the state of the environment.

The article explains that the bitterly cold weather impacted the overall results, because the birds were more focused on moving to the Caribbean staying under cover and keeping warm than they were parading around waiting to be counted. Plus, the bird counters were not as likely to get out and wander around, preferring instead to wonder how much it costs to move to sunny Puerto Rico stay in their cars.

The results included:

141 tundra swan (lower than normal)
228 mallards (up from last year)
845 bufflehead (fewer than last year. Bufflehead?)*
24 bald eagles
614 Eastern bluebirds
1 Baltimore oriole (who was looking for the rest of his teammates)
4 semipalmated plovers (Semipalmated? Is that like partially hydrogenated?)
100 rusty blackbirds (There were only 3 oily blackbirds.)
995 Canada Geese (Yes, 995, no lie, and approximately 992 were spotted in my mother's back yard, pictured above, where she maintains a wildlife preserve which offers a daily buffet of cracked corn which is sometimes hand-fed.)
1 partridge in a pear tree (The same as last Christmas.)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Counters missed one particularly evil bird:

Satan Gustav, my mother's killer goose.

Just look at him hissing and spitting. This is how he says hello when he's penned up. When he's out on parole out of his pen, chasing and biting are incorporated into his charming greeting.

Click here for more background on this beast who not only rules the roost next door but also has his own Facebook fan club.
*A Bufflehead is one of those little diving ducks that never existed around here when I was a kid but which seem to have taken over the creek, which used to be dominated by mallards.

As a side note, yesterday when I went next door to snap this photo of Gustav, it was about 25 degrees outside. My mother was out in the duck pen wearing her bathrobe and white, knee-high, Guinea work boots--which belong to my father.

We carried on a conversation and I seriously contemplated packing it all up and moving to Grand Cayman, where Guinea boot-wearing mothers are scarce as if wearing a bathrobe and your husband's work boots in 25-degree weather were perfectly normal.

Because around here, it is.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Three-Thing Thursday

Welcome to the three-ring circus that is Chesapeake Bay Woman's life Three-Thing Thursday, where I share 3 things and you share 3 things: complaints, worries, successes, moods, hopes, desires, winning Virginia Lottery numbers, or the phone numbers to producers interested in doing a TV show on a county with more characters and more stories than can ever be told. For example.

Ready? Let's go.

1. This evening after racing home from work to a sick child, I hurriedly threw together dinner which included instant-but yummy-mashed potatoes--as a time saver. Truth be told, I love instant mashed potatoes and could eat them every night whether I need to save time or not, but that's not what this is about.

2. My left-handed daughter, who rarely uses a knife, pressed down on the beef with the side of her fork. She must have been pressing down very hard, because when her fork slipped, the instant--but yummy--mashed potatoes flew.

3. Where, pray tell, did these airborne instant--but yummy--mashed potatoes land? On my temple, in my hair; in my ear, on my chair.

(Hello, Chesapeake Bay Woman? Dr. Seuss called. He wants his sentences back.)

Now it's your turn to share three-or more--things. Random or related. Dr. Seuss-like or not.

Whatever you want, anything at all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mark's House, Part IV

Today is another chapter in the book called, "Chesapeake Bay Woman Doesn't Have to Go to Jail for Trespassing." This book is available courtesy of friend Eligible Bachelor Mark, who is the caretaker of this house which dates back to the 1700s.

The photo above is not a photo of the house--although it's there--nor is it a photo of the well--which has a padlock on it. (I just happened to notice the padlock in passing. I wasn't going to peek inside or anything.)

No, the photo above is of that magnificent tree in all its glory. Look at how majestic he is; how broad his shoulders are; how tall he towers.

It's possible for a tree to be a he, no?

(That last sentence may well be the winner in the next Name the New Dr. Seuss Book Contest.)

Above is a closer view of Mr. Tree. I like the contrast of the stark tree with the lush green grass and the little river of sunlight to the right. To me the tree and its couple of downward reaching branches look like someone trying to touch that glowing river. But I have a vivid imagination which includes winning the lottery and creating a reality TV show, so don't pay me any mind.

Here's Eligible Bachelor Mark stepping out of the woodshed. He was loading up that wheelbarrow with firewood to heat the house. That tractor just to the left of the wheelbarrow has definitely seen better days, but it didn't stop me from wanting to take her for a spin. See above about a vivid imagination, which is essential when trying to start up a tractor which has been sitting outside of a woodshed since the 1700s 1970s.

Now we have arrived at the photos which tell one more tale relating to Ms. Hijinx, who is the resident ghost. Mark explained that earlier this week, while passing through the dining room from the kitchen to the living room, he noticed a chair had been moved. Mark did not move it. His son did not move it.

Below is the position of the chair exactly as he found it.

Below is the same chair, photographed from a different angle. It appears that whomever was sitting there wished to glance out the window.

This concludes this chapter of "Chesapeake Bay Woman is Ecstatic To Be Legally Trespassing." If anyone wishes to contact Mathews Mark directly his email address is

If anyone wishes to contact Chesapeake Bay Woman to feature a house as part of her Legally Trespassing series or about that reality TV show, send an email to

As a side note, although today's post contained 4-5 pictures, it took me 1-2 hours to upload these courtesy of my speedy dial-up sprinternet. Ordinarily 4-5 pictures would last me, oh, 4-5 days since I usually only post 1 shot per day.

(And now I will be swallowing 1-2 aspirin since these 3-4 references to my enemy called numbers have caused my brain to sputter and my synapses to smolder.)

Tune in tomorrow for Three-Thing Thursday followed by Who Knows What Friday; at some point I will figure out announce the dates for Blog Fest 2010: The Hijinx Edition.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mark's House, Part III

Today we continue our discussion about the house at Mathews Court House which dates to the 1700s. Mathews Mark is the property's caretaker, and as I mentioned yesterday he recently gave me a tour.

The tree above is one of the first you see as you approach the house, and it's enormous. This picture doesn't do it justice. I can only imagine what it looks like dressed in its greenery. There are several other stately trees in the yard, but this one has the most personality. Trees can have personalities you know.

Above is a window in the second-story servants' quarters, which is supposedly where the resident ghost engages in her high jinks.

High jinks, or hijinks, sounds like a combination of hygiene and tiddly winks, but it popped into my brain whle contemplating a word to describe the mysterious resident and her antics. However, since I've been known to confuse cormorants with pomegranates, I decided to check the dictionary to be sure this word exists; of course you all know that it does. High jinks means boisterous or rambunctious carrying-on or unrestrained fun. High jinks may be the theme for Blog Fest 2010 and is now my new favorite word.

This side note of ridiculosity is brought to you by my self-diagnosed attention deficit/rambling disorder. We now return to the original topic which may not have presented itself yet due to the interruptions.

As Mark took us upstairs and into the servants' quarters, he explained that Ms. Hijinx makes noises, slams doors, and most recently was upset by a picture Mark brought with him when he moved in.

Pardon the very poor quality of the next photo, but I wasn't using a flash and the picture is important to the story.

This is an ancient Vortex woodstove in the kitchen of the house, directly under the servants' quarters. If you look carefully, there on the floor next to it is a picture of an Ernest Hemmingway-looking fellow. Mark hung this sizable picture on the wall to the right of the woodstove.

One morning, he came down to the kitchen and noticed the picture had been removed from the wall and placed upright--but sideways--on the counter next to the sink. In other words, the portrait was turned to the right horizontally so the man was looking up at the ceiling--the servants' quarters are overhead.

There is no way it could have fallen and bounced to this particular place (never mind that pictures don't usually bounce), and nobody else moved it. The picture was so oddly placed that he struggled to recreate its exact placement and never did get it to stand the way he found it that morning.

Hopefully soon we'll have more information on this lovely home's history and its former inhabitants, but for now it's nice to know there's a place I can legally trespass stop by now and then to take pictures.

Thanks, Mathews Mark!

p.s. Mathews Mark now has an e-mail account. You can reach him at If you have questions about the house, about Mathews or about Mark, send him a note.

p.s.s.t. Does anyone know anything about this old Vortex wood stove? The only Vortex stoves I found on a google search were modern ones. This thing is old--and gorgeous.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mark's House, Part II

Here's a side view of the 1700s house where eligible bachelor Mathews Mark lives as caretaker.

Saturday I stopped by to legally trespass take a tour.

Although we're not 100% sure who originally owned the house the current property owner sounds nothing short of a Renaissance Man. Mark said the man has been a pilot, a ski resort owner, a lawyer--I could not keep up with all the job titles.

(When I say we're not 100% sure who originally built the house, nor are we sure about all the job titles, what I mean is that Mark told me, but I did not retain those details thanks to ADD the wonderfully photogenic yard and house which distracted me. Same thing with most any other aspect of the narrated part of the tour except for the ghost story. I always pay particular attention to ghost stories.)

Here's what Mark looks like when he catches someone trespassing in his yard. He smiles and appears happy to see you; welcoming.

His mother Pookie, on the other hand, does not smile when she catches me someone trespassing on her property on Gwynn's Island. Ask me how I know, or click here to find out.

Mark invited us in and led us all around the house which is so full of character words do not apply. You have to feel it; smell it; see it; experience it.

You must crouch and duck your head as you ascend a narrow, winding stairway into a section of the house evidently reserved for 18th-century leprechauns. (We tall people were not in abundance in the 1700s I suppose.)

You must twist and wind your way through this room which adjoins that room which then leads to another cozy nook, and then to the servants' quarters which is where the ghost lives. The ghost story is for another time, but it's a good one.

In addition to the house and the resident lady ghost, there are stunningly gorgeous elm trees in the yard - one looks so old George Washington himself may have slept under it. Or maybe it was Blackbeard. Maybe Blackbeard buried some treasure down Haven Beach and to distract would-be thieves he traveled to Mathews Court House and slept in the Hardees drive-thru after waiting thirty-two minutes for an order under the tree in this yard.

Or maybe--just maybe--Chesapeake Bay Woman's imagination is so daggone lively that we've gone from a post about Eligible Bachelor Mark and his 1700s house to Blackbeard falling asleep under a tree, and it's time to snap out of it and act like we have some sense.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more shots from Saturday, including one of the aforementioned tree and another which pertains to the lady ghost.

Just don't hold your breath waiting for me to act like I have any sense.