Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gwynn's Island Homecoming Day, 1953 Part III

The photo above, taken from Gwynn's Island, is another repeat since Chesapeake Bay Woman is working on a project which precludes her from doing anything taking pictures.

Plus she has a couple of paying jobs, plus two kids playing spring sports, plus a myriad of non-paying jobs, plus is there anyway to clone myself to be three places at once? Except if it isn't too much trouble, please clone the version of me that is not sprouting gray hairs. Thank you.

The poem below dates back to 1953 when Gwynn's Island held its 5th Annual Homecoming Day. Like the one posted on Monday, this poem doesn't cite an author.

In other words, thanks to this project which is usurping every spare moment of her time, Chesapeake Bay Woman is copying stuff from old pamphlets and passing them off as blog posts.


Here's a special invitation
To some special sort of friends
To come and visit with us
Let this be your journey's end.

On Gwynn's Island in the Chesapeake
Down on Old Virginia's soil--
Where you cannot stop to worry
On your troubles and your toil.

Where you'll find peace and contentment,
Far away from fuss and strife.
Where you really can indulge in
The simple form of life.

There's no 'phone to Wake you mornings,
Trains and trams are far away,
Only Nature's soothing voices
Break in on your peaceful day.

Chickadees and bluebirds singing--
Wild geese honking when they come--
How much better all these sounds are
Than a city's busy hum?

Won't you come and help us life them?
Help us enjoy them, too:
'Twould be selfish to keep all this--
There's enuf for us AND you.

So we ask you to "COME SEE US"
Stay until you want to go.
With such a special invitation
Have you the heart to answer "NO"?

Isn't that nice?

Now for a few more of the advertisements, which to me are the best part. There's this one:

Owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Bunch,
Ordinary, VA
Rates--Single $4.00 and Double $5.00; on Rte. 17

or how about

If You Want to be Heeled and Your Sole Saved Come to
Hudgins, VA.

Presumably, he ministered to shoes.

Does anyone out there remember a time when you could get a hotel room for $4.00? I remember when gas was under a dollar per gallon. That was the same year we had to ride the stegosaurus to school because the wheel, necessary for the proper functioning of a school bus, had not been invented yet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gwynn's Island Homecoming Day, 1953 Part II

This photo was taken last winter from Commenter Breezeway's charming Gwynn's Island cottage. She tells me that wall is no longer there or has been replaced. The view is simply spectacular and her cottage is where I want to live absolutely adorable.

Today I continue with another excerpt from the July 4, 1953, souvenir program from the Fifth Annual Homecoming Day on Gwynn's Island.

Please hold down your moans and groans applause, which is making it difficult for me to concentrate. Feel free to cheer when this post is over, goodness knows I will.

The booklet is loaded with old advertisements, like the one from the Farmers' Bank of Mathews, Serving the People For More than 50 Years (and remember this was in 1953). Or the one from Robert F. Lewis and his Poultry and Egg Farm which sold "live and dressed fowl." If you wanted nekkid undressed fowl, I'm sure they could accommodate that too. Of note is the phone number, which is listed only as a five-digit number: 53571.

I remember when we only dialed four numbers and there were party lines, which were really anything but a party. We also used Morse code had to climb the telephone pole to make a call, and four numbers was about as much as a person could remember when negotiating such a steep climb.

Sprinkled throughout the program are narratives such as this one:

To those of us who are privileged to call this beautiful island "HOME" we are glad to have you back on your native soil. We will also claim your children, for they too are really home folks. For you, to whom Gwynn's Island is a vacation spot, where you can spend many peaceful, carefree hours, we have cordial greetings. We are also delighted to have you, who perchance, are making your first visit with us. Here you will make new acquaintances and establish new friends; we hope you will be back. We trust you all will have a pleasant day, and enjoy this holiday with us, as much as we appreciate your being in our midst.

The schedule of events for the day included:

Afternoon Ball Game - 2:30 p.m.
Gloucester C.H. vs. Gwynn's Island
Diversified Sports

Dinner at 5:30 on school grounds

Evening Program
Variety Features
Address of welcome...Hugh Gwynn, Original Owner of Island
Response by the Son of an Island son, Stephen Marriner, Esq. Washington, Penna.
Local Talent
Skit by Mrs. Alice Lewis
Playlet, "A Day on Gwynn's Island"

Pie Eating Contest

First, before I talk about the pie eating contest, I'd like to focus attention on the word "playlet" the dinner being served at 5:30. That is not a misprint. Country folk eat early. (So do old folk, but that's a topic for another day.) We still eat early around here. If supper isn't done and over by 4:45 6:00, there's a problem. Or else you're eating with people from the city.

Now, about this pie eating contest. In my time, I've been to various festivals where people entered pies, jams, cakes, etc. to be judged, but in all my 4,500 45 years on this planet I cannot recall ever witnessing a pie eating contest.

A chicken-wing-eating challenge? Yes.

Live goldfish? Unfortunately those savages in the fraternities back in the 1980s...

Well, anyway, have you ever witnessed a goldfish pie eating contest?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gwynn's Island Homecoming Day, 1953

This sunset over Gwynns Island dates back to 2008. The information I'm about to share with you dates back to 1953.

Yesterday a friend gave me loaned me a copy of a souvenir program from the July 4, 1953, Fifth Annual Homecoming Day on Gwynn's Island. I'll be sharing nuggets from this gold mine throughout the week.

The poem below is from page 17 of the program; no author is cited. The spelling is exactly as it appears in the booklet.


Here's a special southern recipe
Which you will find sublime
This one takes some concentration
And takes a lot of time.

You will find the main ingredients
Way down on Chesapeake Bay
So to make up this concoction
Please turn your thots this way.

Mix up six thousand acres
Of sandy soil and loam,
Roll flat and crimp the edges
Pick a spot to build your home.

Stir in ten thousand pine trees--
And a lot of shrubs and flowers--
Garnish well with honeysuckle--
And let it stand for hours.

Add spice of air and sunshine--
Enuf to suit your taste.
Take all you want of these two things
There's plenty here to waste.

Surround with sparkling water
Filled with all sorts of fish.
Better whet up a good appetite,
You'll find it quite a dish.

Fold in the finest people
That God has ever made--
Except, of course this visitor,
Who liked the place, and stayed.

Cover all with glorious heavens.
For you'll be always right--
Whether you use azure sky for day,
Or a gorgeous moon at night.

You can serve this fresh--or age old
To any one you see.
It's good to have occasionally,
Or thru eternity.

With this you can be young and gay,
Tho your hair be snow or raven,
And is served in Milford Haven.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wood Burning Furnace

In spite of all outward appearances, this is not the paper mill at West Point, although when the wind is blowing just so it's impossible to tell the difference.

This is my father's wood burning furnace, which he installed several winters ago in the hopes he could reduce his fuel oil bill.

Since it replaces all other sources of heat in the house and is run entirely on wood, there's no doubt that he did achieve his goal of reducing his fuel oil costs. But the price that has been paid thus far to install and maintain this thing?

Let's see if we can tally up the bill, shall we?

1 wood burning furnace (the cost of which nobody knows except my father, but rest assured it was neither free nor cheap)

52 weekends per year, of which approximately 3/4 are spent searching for, acquiring, hauling, stacking and splitting wood.

4,698 hours spent walking back and forth from house to the woodpile to replenish the furnace. The reason the furnace is so far from the house is because my mother refused to have anything looking like this next to her house.

1 bruised foot which came from a disgruntled mother having to traipse out to the furnace to load more wood when my father was away. She dropped a log on her foot.(Note: The price of having a disgruntled mother is far higher than the price of a bruised foot. Just ask my father.)

1 pickup truck in need of extensive body work, including a front bumper and grille. Seems my father, who hauls seafood most weeknights, decided to load up the furnace with wood before leaving for work. So he drove over to the wood pile, got out, forgot to put the car in park or neutral, walked over to the wood pile, began loading wood into the furnace, and then watched in horror as his truck plowed into a wagon parked next to the whole operation.

So, in summary, the total cost of having a wood-burning furnace:

No fuel oil bill.

No free time thanks to the incessant search for and procurement of wood, including scouring daughter's yard for trees and not realizing that you've cut down one of her favorites, but that's OK, she has plenty others.

One bruised and disgruntled daughter who is donating no more trees to this project wife.

One truck that now needs body work.

Yep, sounds like a deal to me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

John Clayton's Office

This week's Gazette Journal has a fascinating article about an archaeological dig going on here in Mathews near downtown Dutton, home of Dutton post office and *_________.

* Insert sounds of crickets here, followed by the lonely howls of a wolf, because there's not much more to Dutton than Route 198 and some pine trees, which by the way also describes the rest of Mathews County, give or take a few convenience stores and several thriving herds of killer fiddler crabs.

The front-page article begins:

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Mathews County, an archaeological gem is being uncovered that is of great historical significance to Gloucester County history, the region’s colonial period and much more.

Hmmm. I imagine it's also significant to Mathews County, no? For now we're not talking about the fact that Mathews was once part of Gloucester, and this site has to do with Gloucester Court House. We're merely talking about how if something of significance is happening in the northwest part of Mathews County--that was once Gloucester County--and a train leaves Gloucester County traveling 30 miles per hour towards the Clayton archaeological dig in Dutton, does it technically wind up in Mathews County or Gloucester County, and how many of you wish you were flinging your bodies across those train tracks rather than going any further with this ADD-generated sentence?

"Archaeologists Bob and Lisa Harper, co-directors of the project, began an in-depth study of the site, which served as Gloucester County Clerk’s office between 1720 and 1773 under the direction of John Clayton. Pete and Barbara R., owners of the property, had questions about the archaeological potential of the property after finding exposed foundations in their yard."

If like most of the planet you're unfamiliar with John Clayton, don't worry. The only reason we around here recognize the name is because Rte. 14 is named for him, and some of us pass a historical marker 4,000 times a day so many times that we consider John a member of the family. That historical marker on Route 3/Windsor Road says:

John Clayton: One and a half miles north is the site of his home “Windsor” where he developed an excellent Botanical Garden. He was first president, Virginia Society for the promotion of useful knowledge, and clerk of Gloucester County from 1722 until his death in 1772. His Herbarium Specimens, some still preserved in the British Museum, were the basis of “Flora Virginia,” compiled by Gronovius with the collaboration of Linnaeus and originally published at Leyden in 1739.

The Gazette article continues (and I'm paraphrasing):

The Harpers recently conducted a five-year-long dig of Clayton’s home, just a mile from the site of Old Office...Clayton, a botanist, stopped by the Old Office each day to check things over while his assistant clerk wrote most of the form manuscripts by hand daily.

...Harper said 17th century artifacts have been recovered from the site. Four are copper-alloy buckles, of English manufacture, and dated between 1630 and 1650 A.D. Another is an offset strap bar for a sword belt...

...According to Harper, the Old Office is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Virginia today. "When one considers that the Old Office is a multi-component site that encompasses the entire gamut of occupation, from pre-contact Native American to 1900 farmsteading, and with a public building site, it is without parallel in the Middle Peninsula for archaeological exploration," he said.

Harper said that an 18th century clerk’s office is so rare, that only two have ever been explored unaltered in the whole of Virginia archaeology. Both sites, he said, post-date Old Office by almost a century.

All this is going on right down the road in downtown Dutton?

Who knew.

Tell me anything you know about John Clayton, his memorial highway, botany or archaeology. Or, just tell me what your plans are for the weekend.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Things

Welcome to a Three Ring Circus Three Thing Thursday, where I share three (or more) things and you share three things.

Whatever you want. Anything at all.

I'll begin.

1. My father has tons a few vintage Volkswagens for sale, among which are a 1966 VW 1300 Sedan with a "good body and motor. Just needs a driver and a paint job."

2. A while back, my father gave me a stack of ads he wanted me to place on Craigs List, to spread the word about the thousands of several vintage VWs he has for sale. Thanks to my fear of everything anything new (i.e. Craigs List), his ads have gone unannounced.

(Insert the sounds made by a daughter huffing and puffing because of all the guilt she's carrying around.)

3a. Speaking of laying on the guilt, Chesapeake Bay Son really needs to help me with this technical stuff!

(Insert sounds made by a son huffing and puffing because he's the only one in the family who understands anything at all about post-1930 technology. And most everything else.)

3b. Two weeks from tonight I'll be in Richmond hanging out with my favorite blogger of all time, BOSSY.

3c. While rifling through all the neglected advertisements my father wants me to put on Craigs List, I discovered several pages of blog posts written by the very funny Chesapeake Bay Daughter, about a year ago. Can't wait to share some of her words.

3d. But first, there's a 1970 WV Karman Ghia, one-owner car, that needs to be sold. Anyone?

3e. In addition to VWs there's a 1951 Ford 4-door sedan with "extra motor and transmission , 3-speed with overdrive" for sale. This was the very first boat car I ever rode in.

Now it's your turn to share three things. Or seven things. Whatever, you want, anything at all. Including things which are causing you some degree of guilt. For example.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Glimpses from the Road

This cute little house sits right alongside the road, close enough that I idled the car in neutral, snatched the camera out the bag, looked over both shoulders to be sure no one was watching approaching, glanced quickly in the rear view mirror, said two Hail Marys even though I'm not Catholic, and pressed the button to take the photo--all without getting arrested rear ended by another vehicle.

Since so far so good there was no good reason not to, I zoomed in and took another shot.

There's so much I could say about this lovely little house. Like how charming it is, even from the road. Like how I'd pay good money to sleep here on a rainy day just for the sounds of the water hitting the roof. Or like how it appears to be a combination of two local architectural styles: a farmhouse with a porch and a missing top half or a one-story dwelling that in later years grew columns and a front porch.

Please note: Chesapeake Bay Woman's expertise in architecture extends from here to nowhere and back, with a side trip down a path called Oh No She Didn't Just Pretend to Know One Hoot About Local Architecture, Did She?

No, thankfully, what I'm trying to say here today has nothing to do with architecture. It has to do with the fact that I drive by a million places like this each day--adorable homes, stoic old structures, vintage tractors or cars, lovely landscapes or beautiful yards--that I would love to walk up to, photograph, and write about. In the ideal world, the owner(s) would not have me arrested grant me an interview, which could be in person, over the phone, by e-mail or by courier pigeon. Either/or.

If you or anyone you know would like to have a structure or a vista photographed, please e-mail me at If you or anyone you know have anything to do with the lovely little house above, please know that I found it charming and hope you don't mind me taking a few pictures from the road.

No matter what, though, I promise never to talk about architecture again.

Does anyone out there have memories that include rain hitting a metal roof?

p.s. Metal is a non-specific, non-architecturally correct term which includes tin, copper and/or any other roof-like material which would cause a rain drop to create a charming sound upon contact. This same material, used in a plate buried somewhere in Chesapeake Bay Woman's head, prevents any and all information from being retrieved from her memory bank but does not prevent her from attempting to talk about things which she knows nothing about. Unfortunately.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Weather

This quaint arrangement greeted visitors to my parents' house last summer.

My mother, who is quite talented, painted that little sign there. She also paints scenes on old windows or tin coffee cans. She can pretty much make a work of art out of anything. This was probably some old piece of wood my father left lying around. Somehow it didn't end up in the wood-burning furnace.

She's also quite handy with plants and already has who knows how many things planted in her garden.

But what I really want to talk about is that goose there. That raincoat-wearing goose with the cockeyed hat.

As you may know, my mother's love for animals extends to the wild goose population. Although she has her own domesticated ducks and a beast goose named Gustav, the wild Canada geese also call her yard an all-you-can-eat buffet home.

A long time ago I was perusing the aisles at Wal-Mutant and saw this ceramic goose which came with a sun hat and rain gear. The idea is that you change the outfit according to the weather.

(It's sort of like a Barbie doll, except this is for grown-ups who like to play dress up with ceramic geese outdoors, and such people must be a dime a dozen around here if Wal-Mutant stocks so many. Frightening.)


This goose used to sit at the driveway entrance, so that anyone approaching would know what the weather was going to be based on the outfit of the goose. Of course you could also just glance out the window or listen to the forecast, but that's no fun now, is it?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Off-Road Driving

Above is a shot of Hills Bay taken from a moving vehicle my favorite stretch of highway leading off/onto Gwynn's Island. You can see there is not much separating the road from the water. One false move and you're overboard.

Below is a story about one such false move, relayed by Mathews County native and long-time friend of mine, Bayman.

"The road along the "river shore" on Gwynn's Island is CBW's favorite drive. (Mine too.)

It offers gorgeous views of tranquil blue waters, an endless canvas of sky, seagulls, clouds and as witnessed at Blogfest, some of the best sunsets you will ever see.

The road, however, can be treacherous at times. Cars have been known to be blown off the highway by wind during winter storms, when the road was covered in ice. I have seen the spray from the crashing waves go clear across the highway.

My favorite story about this road is set on a nice summer day. It was told to me by a friend who is no longer with us. Some alcohol was involved in both the telling and the hearing of this story. The names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

The island is home to numerous "come heres" during the warmer months. The majority was from Richmond. They had cottages, or a boat at the Islander Marina.

One day, a carload of young men, we'll say from Richmond, though we may never know for sure since my friend is no longer with us, was traveling along the river shore. Out in a yard was a very pretty Gwynn's Island native, enjoying the summer day in her bathing suit. She was bending over in her yard, tending to a rosebush or some other gardening project. The young men must have thought she was doing a very nice job, as they completely lost track of what they were doing. Their car sailed over the bank, and out into the tranquil, shallow waters. Hills Bay had claimed another."

Bayman--much like Mathews Mark--has more stories than Uncle Remus, and hopefully he'll share some more soon.

For now, I'm going to share a couple of pictures of him. Here he is giving a come-hither sort of glance.

Below is what he looks like while reflecting on things, such as the state of health care in America, or how many packs of Best Value chicken wings (grilled to perfection over charcoal) are needed to feed a bevy of Blog Fest attendees.

Thank you, Bayman, for your stories, your world-famous chicken wings, and most of all your kindness and friendship. Please send me wings stories any time. How does tomorrow sound?

If anyone reading has any chicken wings grilled to perfection stories about Mathews they'd like to share, please send them to And don't forget the hot sauce.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blue Skies

Yesterday I was able to sleep in until 8:30.

The temperature was 75 degrees as I sat on the sidelines of a game soaking in the smells and the sunlight.

Socks and shoes were not even an option, and my flip-flops thanked me for the fresh air they've missed since last fall.

My feet thanked them right back.

Today will be even warmer.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Daffodil Festival

One week from today is the annual Daffodil Festival in neighboring Gloucester County. As much as I love daffodils, I've never attended this event, although one year I did stop by the old Gloucester High School to look at some of the professional arrangements in the daffodil show. You wouldn't believe how many different types of daffodils there are until you've attended one of these shows.

Additional information on the festival is available
HERE. There's a very interesting section dedicated to the history of the daffodil in Gloucester,and I was surprised to discover that someone I know was descended from a key part of that history.

Below is an excerpt from the "Wild About Daffodils" section of the site:

The history of the daffodil in Gloucester County, Virginia is almost as old as the county itself. When Gloucester was formed in 1651 from part of York County the early settlers brought these soft reminders of English springs as they established themselves in the area. The soil and weather conditions were ideal for daffodils. The bulbs were passed from neighbor to neighbor and spread from orderly beds and burying grounds to the great houses to the fields.

Some, such as the hardy Trumpet Major variety, seemed to thrive on neglect. By the beginning of the 20th century daffodils grew wild in the untended fields of Gloucester. It is from this abundance of natural beauty that grew the extensive daffodil industry which earned the county the title "Daffodil Capital of America" in the 1930's and 40's.

Everyone had daffodils but no one thought much about them except as wild ornaments. It was around 1890 that Eleanor Linthicum Smith, of "Toddsbury" on the North River, first saw the commercial potential of daffodils. She developed a good size bed of flowers and paid local children ten cents per hundred to pick them. The flowers were picked during their spring growing season, packed standing up in laundry baskets covered with cheesecloth, and shipped to Baltimore

Mrs. Smith's baskets of flowers were loaded on a hayrack - one hundred baskets with about 2,500 blooms - and hauled by horse to nearby Dixondale Wharf or Hockley Wharf on the North River. They were put on a steamboat and shipped to her son who worked in Baltimore's Union Station. He resold the flowers to depot newsboys who became the first daffodil retailers.

The profit from her daffodil sales eventually paid off the mortgage on her home. Aware of their value, she dug up the bulbs and transported them with her when she moved to nearby "Holly Hill". As word of the success of the business spread, others in the county began to take an interest in the cultivation of flowers. Mrs. Smith's granddaughter Eleanor and her husband, W.S. Field, later lived at "Holly Hill" and continued with the daffodil business. They were able to put five children through college between 1925 and 1945 on the profits

Holly Hill is the house on Route 14 in Gloucester up on a hill, right across the road from that lone silo standing near the old M&G Transportation (which is now a seafood wholesaler). The home and surrounding barns are now an antique shop.

Anyway, my fourth and fifth grade English teacher at Gloucester Day School, Mrs. Eleanor Martin, lived at Holly Hill until her passing. She was undoubtedly one of those five children who were put through college thanks to the success of the daffodil industry her great-grandmother seems to have inspired.

Mrs. Martin was a lovely, intelligent, dignified lady and an excellent teacher. I can still see the purple workbook--Keys to Good Language--as if it were yesterday.

One time on a whim, I pulled into her old house pretending to look at the antiques for sale. The old farmhouse is brimming with beautiful wares, but I didn't see any of them. I was absorbing the sights and smells of the house, admiring the wall paper, marveling at the wooden floors--thrilled to be able to legally trespass walk throughout the home which I'd admired as much as the lady who once lived there.

When a woman approached and asked if I needed any help or if there was anything in particular I was looking for, I thanked her and confessed I was more interested in reminiscing about my former English teacher who once lived here. To which the woman replied, "She was my mother."

To this day there is an area next to the barns where the daffodils--likely transplanted from Toddsbury by Mrs. Martin's innovative great-grandmother--still peek through.

The next time I see them, I'll smile.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mathews Bloggers

At first this looks like a shot of a crowded, confused bunch of pine trees and vines still struggling with winter, but in fact it's a glimpse at that house lingering in the background ever so quietly and stoically.

In life we often find ourselves so distracted by the things around us that we forget to focus on what is really there.

This Deep Thought is brought to you courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Woman, who is running on doughnuts fumes.

No matter, what I'd like to do here today is introduce you to some local Mathews County bloggers, two of which are relatively new to the scene; all of which are well worth the visit.

Today for the four few readers who frequent this site, I have a request. Take a stroll over to the sites below and sit down for a spell. Give them a quick read and most importantly leave a comment if you would.

1. Native Devil (click here for a link to his blog) was one year ahead of me in high school. I remember him as one of the kindest, friendliest people in his class. About a year ago, Native Devil was not expected to live. About a year later, his story is nothing short of miraculous, even though he doesn't really want to dwell on it. His memories from living in Mathews are priceless (such as helping to put down an oyster walkway around the New Point Lighthouse) but his life after leaving Mathews is where the story just begins. Please give him a visit.

2. Fighting Mermaid (click here for a link to her blog called Mermaid or Waterbug) was just one (or two? who can remember back to the 1800's that far back?) grades below me in high school and was friends with my Middle Sister. One of my very first jobs was working on her mother's strawberry farm up at North. Although I'm pretty sure I didn't work there more than a day week or two, many life lessons were learned: Nothing is easy. Work is hard. Ladders can be steep. Fields can be sweltering hot. But you can do this and more while nibbling on all-u-can-eat strawberries, so life is good.

Fighting Mermaid recently reconnected with a special someone from her past, and after all this time they're better friends than ever and reflect what life with another person should really be about: acceptance, understanding, respect, friendship and unconditional love.

3. Of course I don't need to tell you about this person because she's a regular over here, but she comes from a long line of folks associated with the water, the lighthouse, museum-worthy workboats and more, which is to say that she's a member of royalty here in Mathews.

All that is well and good, but what I'm really here to tell you is that the girl can fry an oyster like nobody's fool, and don't even get me started on the hushpuppies, the succotash, the fried fish and deviled eggs. Pardon me while I lie down for the food coma that has just been induced by the mere mention of her cooking.

Life in Mathews County is different for everyone, but these people reaffirm my belief that growing up in this isolated community was a privilege and a gift. It was something very special and unique. In spite of our many differences, we speak the same language and understand one another. And it's all good.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three Things

Welcome to Thursday, where I share three random things and you do the same. Well, you don't have to do the same, you could share one thing or five things or twelve things. They could be random, related, quasi-related or written in another language, por ejemplo.

I'll go first.

1. Although the picture above looks like it was taken on some desolate prairie in the Midwest, in fact it was taken on some desolate marshland of Bethel Beach in Mathews County. Right there where the sky meets the grass is the Chesapeake Bay.

2a. Today at work, at approximately 9:00 a.m., I pulled a bag of roasted peanuts (with the shells on) from my food drawer. (A food drawer is a drawer full of food for emergencies, such as it's 9:00 in the morning and you want some peanuts, daggone it. The food drawer also holds organic cranberry oatmeal and a few cans of low-calorie soup that will never, ever be eaten but will make nice museum pieces in a few decades. There are also several cans of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and ravioli, which will be eaten because there's no better way to start your day than with an overdose of disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. Daggone it.)

Since I'm a bit long in the tooth older now with a receding hair gum line, stuff sticks to my teeth more than it used to. Anyway, using a push pin to pick the peanut skins from my teeth, I managed to accidentally spear myself in the lip. It bled profusely. And still hurts.

2b. Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda (mas o menos). I forget the exact saying but loosely translated it means, "Although the Chesapeake Bay Woman monkey is dressed in silk, she still remains a monkey." Or, " You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."

Or, "You can dress her up but you can't make her use dental floss at work even if it's right there in the drawer. She's going to opt for the push pin which is way more effective, except for that bloody lip part."

3. (Queue up some smooth, new age spa music.) Last night after work I sat on the back porch and listened to the birds. It was magnificent and very relaxing. The air was cool but not cold, the smells were earthy, and the sun going down put on a show. I inhaled slowwwwly and deeply and leaned my head back, closing my eyes and focusing on the birds. (Insert sound of a needle being pulled off a record.) Then I accidentally hit the spot on my lip that was previously poked with a push pin while sitting at work hurriedly picking my teeth before anyone walking by my office could see what I was doing.

Now it's your turn. Please share three things, or twenty things, whatever you want, anything at all. But whatever you do, be careful when picking your teeth with a push pin at work. Things can turn ugly fast.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Comprehensive Plan

Yesterday, at a place that shall remain nameless, I may or may not have been bored out of my mind and took advantage of unauthorized access to a high-speed internet computer to download and print off part of the Mathews County Comprehensive Plan, specifically pages 1:1 -1:15.

(I need to pause to catch my breath. While we're taking this brief respite from sentences which stretch from here to Tallahassee, I'd like to clarify to my boss anyone reading that I was on a break and had some other business to tend to on that particular computer. Ahem.)

This particular document is chock full of facts and figures, some of which are fascinating, some of which are like reading an instruction manual on how to set up a Barbie Townhouse--in Japanese.

Anywho, since time was of the essence and this particular document is about 140 pages long, I only sent the first 15 pages to the printer, because I heard footsteps approaching they seemed to be most relevant to what I am researching at home, on my own time, after hours.

What I didn't realize was that page 15 ends mid-sentence, and it's a very important part of the previous paragraph. Take a look for yourself:

Table 1.10
Comparison of Income and Sales

1997 Personal Income ($ millions)

Virginia: 175,911
Mathews Co: 227

1998 Taxable Sales ($ millions)
Virginia: 60,114
Mathews Co: 24

Sales as Percent of Income
Virginia: 34.2
Mathews: 10.5

(i.e. We only spent 10-ish% of our income on stuff in Mathews. The rest went to Wal-Mutant in Gloucester. p.s. This is not the comprehensive plan talking, it's an imcomprehensible CBW, fyi.)

The plan goes on to say, "A comparison of sales as a percentage of personal income for the state as a whole with Mathews County indicates the weakness of the County's retail sector.

Statewide, people spent about one-third of their personal income on retail sales.

Mathews County residents probably do too, but only 10.5 percent is spent within the County. The rest goes to outside market areas such as Wal-Mutant, Bangkok Noi Restaurant, Dollar Tree and Peebles Department Store. p.s. The Comprehensive Plan didn't say this particular part.

One reason for this is that Mathews County is at the end of the "highway" rather than at a "crossroads" location and not likely to_______."

(Continued on page 16, which CBW neglected to print.)

So for those of you still awake, please take a stab at filling in that blank.

Here are my guesses

"Mathews is at the end of the 'highway' rather than at a 'crossroads' location (except for the intersection at Get N Zip)and not likely to draw additional dollars from people passing through, because you don't pass through Mathews, you come here and you drive until you hit a dead end, the water, the Food Lion parking lot or sometimes all of the above.

"Mathews is at the end of the 'highway' rather than at a 'crossroads' location and not likely to
convince me that we couldn't sustain a Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet, because I'm here to tell you the Chesapeake Bay Family (CB Parents in particular) would spend every discretionary cent to their name for the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, clam chowder, collard greens, yeast rolls, krab (with a k) salad, and soft serve ice cream machine.

I could keep going but will stop for now. You're very welcome.

What do you think the rest of that sentence is?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 3/50 Project

This is an old photo from the entrance to Aaron's Beach, taken in the summer months. That sign and those green reeds are not there anymore. The sign was done in by the hurricane that was called a nor'easter back in November. The green reeds always disappear or turn crispy brown in the winter time but should be returning in full force along with the mosquitoes, the ants, the horseflies and the fiddler crabs soon.

The reeds and this sign are in some ways representative of our local businesses. (Hang with me here.) We see them, we admire them from afar, we appreciate that they're here, and we assume they'll always be around.

Like the beach sign above, though, one day a small business might be here in the county; the next they're not.

One of my two local readers, Anonymous Hallieford Resident, owns the Sandpiper Reef Restaurant in Hallieford, about a mile-ish or two from my house. Imagine my surprise when I picked up last week's Gazette Journal and saw her picture right there on the front page in an article about the 3/50 Project, "a simple way to support local business."

Acknowledging that it's extremely difficult for small businesses to thrive and sustain themselves (especially in a community such as Mathews), the project encourages citizens to "pick three independent businesses in your community that you would hate to lose and spend a combined $50 at those businesses in a month."

Mathews County is a very, very tricky place to own a business. In such an isolated, insulated community, grocery stores are one of the few businesses practically immune from failure. Although we have two, they're distinct enough that neither one should have any worries about the other running them out of business. (Remind me to do a post on those differences, I could write a book on the topic.)

There are several other core businesses and services that we'll always need, such as gas stations, Dollar General, a decent Vietnamese restaurant, home repair services, auto repair services and medical professionals, to name but a few.

Restaurants must maintain a steady stream of customers to stay afloat, particularly in the not-so-busy winter months. In the sweltering warm summer months, the weekend influx of Richmonders out-of-towners descend to their summer homes to boat, fish and enjoy the seclusion, and the restaurants tend to do better.

There are many benefits to the consumer for supporting local businesses, two of which are doughnuts and ice cream cake. (Hang with me here. Again.)

For example, Saturday night I went to Sandpiper Reef Restaurant in Hallieford and thoroughly enjoyed the music and the company, which included the infamous Pookie and Husband, who were celebrating her 75th birthday. In addition to the pleasure of listening to her talk, I was right there when they plopped down her ice cream birthday cake, made by none other than Mathews Mark. It was outstanding.

Next, Mathews Mark took orders for doughnuts from Not-So-Anonymous Hallieford Restaurant Owner's brother who owns Blue Collar Joe's in Daleville, Virginia. As we speak, a dozen doughnuts sit on my counter in various stages of destruction. Although the doughnut establishment is not local to Mathews (much to my chagrin), it is a small, independently-run business that depends on its local community to survive.

(I received my greatly anticipated bling bling doughnut which is indeed heavenly but my new favorite is a chocolate doughnut with a banana frosting dotted with chocolate chips. Oh my. That's all I have to say. Oh my my my.)

So in summary, using Chesapeake Bay Woman's logic, which is an oxymoron: Support your local businesses, because if you do, you'll eat homemade ice cream cake and the best doughnuts in the universe. The End.

For more information on the 3/50 project click here.

p.s. Blue Collar Joe's doughnuts are going to be the official doughnuts of Blog Fest, even though Blue Collar Joe doesn't know this yet. This is fair warning to all Blog Fest attendees that I call all the bling-blings and the chocolate/bananas in the bunch. Also the coconut ones. And any that have caramel on them.

Thanks to my basketball days, I can--and will--box out anyone who thinks they're gonna come between me and my bling-bling/chocolate-banana doughnuts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Weekend

Friday night a strong storm passed through the county, bringing high winds and heavy rain along with it.

Saturday morning the rain continued, but by late afternoon, the clouds had parted and the sun came out to play.

Eager to take advantage of the break in the weather, I asked my best friend to drive me down to Bethel Beach, where the sunlight was simply brilliant. Isn't this dead tree gorgeous? Ordinarily it looks drab and dreary, but in the right light it takes on a whole new persona.

As I snapped pictures left and right I noticed something very unusual off in the marsh. Evidently a boat that is rigged to serve as a duck blind broke loose during the storm and washed waaaaay up in the marsh. So if anyone's missing a boat, it's at Bethel Beach.

The weather was so warm I was able to kick off my shoes and walk on the beach barefoot. It was heavenly.

On Sunday, Chesapeake Bay Woman completely forgot to set her clocks an hour ahead for Daylight Savings Time and didn't remember until twenty minutes before she was due in Urbanna for a Blog Fest planning meeting with Big Hair Envy and Noe Noe Girl . Because she was late and extremely flustered over losing that precious hour she forgot to bring her camera and anything to write on.

Regardless, we giggled, ate fried oysters and drank wine had a blast very productive meeting, and there's no doubt in my mind this year's event is going to be even better than last year's.

Hopefully one or both of them will share pictures and details from our meeting, because Chesapeake Bay Woman is still trying to recover from the shock of losing an hour of her life.

I suppose that's better than losing a boat.

Or is it?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blog Fest 2010

This picture of a swing overlooking Hills Bay, from August 2008, is one of my favorites. It's on Gwynn's Island next to a spot of beach where a group of bloggers from all corners of the map descended on the last official night of Blog Fest 2009.

Last year's Blog Fest originated in response to blog friends' repeated requests to see Mathews County, but also due to a broader desire to finally meet the people we'd grown to know via the internet and the blogosphere. With attendees from as far away as Canada, Washington state, California, Texas, Maine, and all up and down the Eastern Seaboard, it was quite a diverse--yet familiar--group of people, most of whom had never met each other IRL/in real life and none of whom were convicted felons, much to everyone's relief.

We hung out, toured the county, took lots of pictures, ate and sampled a little wine.

But only a little.

This year's event will be held July 15-18. The core group from last year is attending, plus we're excited that several newcomers are joining in the frivolity.

Today Big Hair Envy, Noe Noe Girl and I are meeting in a local establishment to review plans and details for this year's Fest. Please note that the words "plans" and "details" cause me to twitch and convulse, which is exactly why Big Hair Envy and Noe Noe Girl are involved in the planning.

While I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort, they thankfully pay attention to things like:

How many people are coming?
What will we eat?
What will we do?

You know, minor details such as those.

I, on the other hand, will sit back and listen, nod in agreement, discuss the advantages of holding a karaoke contest, inquire where one might rent a margarita machine, glance off at the pretty bird flying by, become distracted by the shiny silverware on the table, and then ask Big Hair Envy to send me an e-mail telling me exactly what we discussed, what I need to do, and by when.

Anyway, if you're interested in attending and have not yet responded, send an e-mail to If you have recommendations or ideas about particular activities we should include, such as the karaoke contest and margarita machine suggested by the Baroness, let me know.

No matter what winds up on the official agenda, there are two things guaranteed: laughter and fun.

Click here for Big Hair Envy's post asking for suggestions and click here for a link to the Blog Fest website.

p.s. One of last year's attendees, Country Girl Kate, has recently been recognized on The Pioneer Woman's website as one of PW's favorite sites. Better get Kate's autograph while the gettin's good, because she's one baby step away from blog stardom, and before too long we're going to be following her as she makes the talk show circuit.

(She's taking me when she is a guest on Oprah, I've already made the request.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fort Nonsense

Every time a person in Mathews County travels to Gloucester County (home of Wal-Mutant and Starbucks for those who require such places) via Rtes. 14 or 3, they pass a place known as Fort Nonsense--which surprisingly has no traceable relationship to Chesapeake Bay Woman's house.

At the intersection of Rte. 3/Windsor Road, and Route 14 is a patch of woods and a series of embankments and ditches that would otherwise seem unremarkable to the average passerby but which does, in fact, have historical significance.

Rather than enduring Chesapeake Bay Woman's attempts to explain Ft. Nonsense, which would be anything but factual and plenty loaded with nonsense, we turn now to a quote from the Mathews Historical Society's website:

Fort Nonsense

"The Society is committed to restoring and preserving this historic Civil War-era fortification as an educational attraction for residents and visitors.

During the War Between the States, a number of small forts were built at strategic crossroads in Virginia to help in the defense of the Confederate capital. Usually, they were manned by local militia who would be summoned to the ramparts in the event of an emergency. One of these small forts is in Mathews County. It became known as "Fort Nonsense."

Several hundred men and slaves under the supervision of Mr. W. Dawson Soles built Fort Nonsense, which played a minor role in defending Gloucester Point’s Northern flank during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Its design and strategic position between the North and Piankatank Rivers guarded the main roads leading from Mathews County to Gloucester Point in an effort to defend the key Gloucester Point fortifications against any Federal flanking movement via Mathews County. The fort failed to stop Union Brigadier General Issac Wister’s Mathews County Raid in October 1863 when his unit marched against the fort’s rear from Gloucester Courthouse—the very place it was designed to defend. Fort Nonsense never witnessed any actual combat, but its remains offer an extremely well-preserved example of Civil-War earthen fortifications. Mr. Soles, looking at the Fort later after Wister's soldiers had wrecked the fort, remarked, “My! What a piece of nonsense!” —and the fort had a name.

Many of the ramparts still remain and are in excellent condition, according to a representative of the National Park Service who recently mapped the site. These well-preserved treasures lie in a wooded glade at the intersection of Routes 3 and 14 near the Gloucester County line. The property is owned by the Mathews County Historical Society (MCHS).

A MCHS committee, known as the “Fort Nonsense Irregulars” is working with VDOT and the County to make this dream a reality. Anyone interested in “enlisting” in the Irregulars may call 804-725-2135 for more information
. "

For more information on the Mathews County Historical Society's projects click here.

Meantime, I'm off to dial that number.

Any place officially named Nonsense that's recruiting Irregulars is screaming my name.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Today was supposed to be a post about an article in this week's paper, or possibly a brief discussion of the old Farmers Bank of Mathews, or maybe even a little something about the spate of warm temperatures recently. There were several things swirling around in my head and they all came grinding to a halt thanks to two cardiac events.

Example One
After school, the Chesapeake Bay Children and I leisurely lingered on the front porch, soaking in the sporadic rays of sunlight and inhaling the smells of wet earth and Almost Spring. We laughed and chatted and enjoyed the fresh air.

When I said something about fixing supper, they announced they were going for a ride out in the fields in the Gator, which for the unacquainted is a four-wheeled contraption with a small bed on the back, sort of a combination golf cart, ATV, tractor and wagon all rolled into one.

When they didn't return in a reasonable amount of time, I immediately knew they were all rolled into one, upside down in the middle of the field or in a ditch, with the contraption on top of them.

Or, alternatively, they were just playing basketball with the neighbors. One or the other.

Finally, just about the time I gnawed off my last good toenail fingernail, into the house they trudged, completely covered in mud, eyes wide as saucers, nervously pacing, wringing hands and breathing heavily.

The good news was they weren't upside down in a ditch! I could see so with my own two eyes.

The bad news was the Gator was halfway submerged in a swamp on someone else's property. Blah blah blah a story for another time blah blah many, many lessons were learned and everything is fine now except my cardiovascular system. The End.

Example Two
After tucking CB Daughter in to bed and saying goodnight to Chesapeake Bay Son, I come downstairs to hear an excited raptaptapping on the sliding glass door which faces my parents' house and is the one and only door they use to come into my house. (Usually they don't knock though.) I hollered for the person to come in and it's Chesapeake Bay Mother wearing her Oh Dear, There's Something Very Wrong face.

Chesapeake Bay Woman: "What's wrong, is everything OK?"

CB Mother, looking extremely distraught and anguished:"No!"

CBW: "Oh no, is CB Daddy OK?"

CB Mother: "It's the little kitty. She's not doing well."

CBW (swallowing her heart, which had just leapt up into her throat): "Oh thank God! There are no people sick or hurt?"

CB Mother: "No, but I've got to get her to the vet. She's had six kittens and she's just not doing well. Can I borrow your car? Mine is low on gas and I've got to get her to Middlesex."

CBW: Does the math and realizes that 1 mother cat + 6 kittens = 7 cats. 7 cats + the existing cat population + 3 flocks of Canada geese + Gustave the killer goose + 3 lame ducks + 3 dogs brings the total cat population in Chesapeake Bay Family's Wild Kingdom to Infinite.

CBW, still adjusting to the shock that someone might be dead and then realizing instead there at least 7 more cats: "Sure."

CBW: Wonders if she'll have her car back by the morning, when she has to drive the CB Children--who just hours ago were in her mind lying upside down in a ditch--to school where they have to take exams.

CBW: Really needs a vacation. Is very grateful that all human beings are OK as of the writing of this post. She'll report on the status of kittens and mother cat tomorrow, after she transports her children to school in the mud-coated Gator since her car is being used as a cat ambulance.

The End

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three-Thing Thursday

Although it feels like yesterday was Thursday, another one has sprouted up ever so quickly. Thursdays are starting to feel like bamboo. First there's one sprig, then there's 10. Before you know it the Thursdays are so thick, you can't hack your way out of them with a machete.

On Thursdays I share three things and you share three things; whatever you want. Anything at all.

1. Taking advantage of yesterday's milder temperatures, I lit a fire on the back patio after arriving home from a very long day at the paying job.

(It's important to note that I lit the fire in a confined, fire-designated space on the patio, I didn't actually set fire to the patio. Not this time, anyway.)

There wasn't the faintest breeze in the air, it was dead still. The porridge temperature was not too warm, not too cold--just right. The smell of burning pine blended perfectly with the heavy, crisp evening air.

2. The birds are exuberant in the mornings. No matter what I'm fretting or stewing over as I cross that threshold at still-dark-thirty, those birds' deafening songs and incessant early-morning chatter instantly assuage my fears and worries.

3. Last night while inhaling the intoxicating aromas of the evening air and a fire, I heard something that sounded almost as sweet as the morning birds.

Off in the distance a baseball was making contact with a bat
, and kids were cheering. The Little League fields are within a stone's throw of my house.

In spite of all sorts of motherly encouragement, neither of the Chesapeake Bay Children continued beyond the Coach Pitch phase of Little League. Chesapeake Bay Woman never married a professional baseball player, so all her dreams of spending life on the fields in the stands of a baseball diamond have washed away with yesterday's tide.

That doesn't mean she won't occasionally stop in to the games anyway, particularly if the aroma of the concession stand's BBQ is wafting across Route 198 into her back yard and right up her nostrils.

Now it's your turn to share three (or more) things on any topic you wish. Whatever happens to be on your mind, anything at all.

But hurry up, because another Thursday is coming soon, as in day after yesterday tomorrow

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Episcopal Church

This quaint little church sits at Foster, near the intersection of the old dump road and Route 14.

The old dump road is now called Ridge Road, but it will always be known as the Dump Road to me. That dump closed a long time ago, and now we have a new dump, called a "convenience center," not to be confused with a convenience store. Oh, heavens no.

What, pray tell, is so convenient about having to haul one's trash to the dump? Isn't it far more convenient if someone else hauls it off for you? When did a dump become a convenience center? Do they also sell stamps and ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens?

In other news, Chesapeake Bay Woman recently accepted the award for most frequent use of the word "dump" in an opening paragraph that is supposed to be about a quaint church. Her English teacher and her Sunday School teacher are holding a conference as we speak.

Below is another angle of the church, which is known as Trinity Church.

All these years I've just referred to it as the cute little Episcopal church. I've only been inside once, for a wedding. (Ms. Seabreeze? Are you out there?)

In spite of our limited interaction, this church waves cordially to me several times a week as I drive by, especially in the morning when the sun hits her just so.

Trinity was originally affiliated with Kingston Parish, which dates back to 1652. For a Chesapeake Bay Woman spin on that, including pictures, click here:

The Kingston Parish site has this to say about its sister church Trinity:

"For much of its history, Kingston Parish had two or three Parish churches. In the twentieth century the advent of quality roads made transportation around the county easier. This factor and others caused the Parish to decide to hold services in only one church building. For many years services were held alternately in Christ Church and in Trinity Church at the corner of Route 14 and Ridge Road near Foster. As of the late 1970s, Christ Church has been the sole functioning church of the Parish, and today Trinity is leased to an unrelated congregation."

This church, beautiful in its simplicity, is entirely surrounded by a graveyard bearing the surnames of many Mathews County founding families. A lovely wrought-iron fence hugs the perimeter, almost pushing the graveyard and the church closer together, as if punctuating the fact that life and death are in such close proximity.

Is there a church with historical significance near you?

To anyone with any connections to Mathews, have you ever been inside this church?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Glimpses of Green

Every now and then over the course of the winter, particularly these last couple of weeks when winter has worn out her welcome (not that she was ever particularly welcome here to begin with), I'll go back through old pictures and marvel at the green.

The lush green of a Mathews County summer is stunning when you haven't seen it in half a lifetime four or five decades months.

The picture above, from last August or September, is from my parents' yard overlooking Queens Creek. You can barely make out the creek due to all the Amazon jungle haze and humidity creating low visibility green vegetation.

In contrast, the shot below is from approximately the same vantage point, but looking more towards the left and the opposite side of the creek. Blue water, blue sky and white snow stand out, with very little green unless you count those pine trees across the creek, and I don't.

You see, pine trees are currently on my [insert word of your choice that rhymes with "spit"] list, especially the ones currently growing in my gutter. There are also several huge ones next to my house which create an endless shower of pine needles and cones, like daggers falling from the sky, during any sort of wind. A good nor'easter is enough to traumatize a person for life.

Anyway. This is not a tirade about pine trees. I don't think.

Continuing on with the theme of how I have way too many pine trees in my yard drab, lackluster winter colors, below is a lifeless tree that, though lacking any color, does have an interesting shape to it.

But interesting shapes can't hold a candle to color in my book. Give me a green soybean field any day. Please.

Oh, and please remind me about how much I love green grass and green weeds and green vines and green crabgrass and green greenery in about a month when I have to start cutting grass again. Which reminds me, my tractor has a flat tire. Oh spit.

Perhaps another couple of weeks without green wouldn't hurt anything.

What, if any, signs of spring have you noticed?

For people in different seasons, like Annie from Australia , perhaps you can tell us what the weather is like in your neck of the woods.

Has anyone made any interesting summer vacation plans?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blue Collar Joe's

Once upon a time on a late Saturday afternoon, Chesapeake Bay Woman was contemplating what to fix for supper. As she ruminated on the possibilities, which did not include doughnuts, she heard a knock at the door.

It was Mathews Mark.

He quickly handed her a beautiful box and said, "These are from Anonymous Hallieford Resident (who owns Sandpiper Reef Restaurant)."

Mathews Mark traveled clear across the state this weekend to retrieve his son from college, and along the way he stopped in Daleville, Virginia, where Anonymous Hallieford Resident's brother runs Blue Collar Joe's, home of The Very Best Doughnuts Ever, Ever, EVER Created.

Ever. I mean really. Ever.

It's very important to understand that Chesapeake Bay Woman does not eat doughnuts. She's really not much of a sweet tooth because she prefers overindulging in salty, greasy things as opposed to sugary, cakey, frostingy things. (Yep, it's a word, a word that comes out your mouth after you've eaten half a dozen heavenly doughnuts, some of which are covered in silver sparkles, M&Ms and gummy worms.)

But these are not mere doughnuts. No, they're incredibly beautiful, sinfully decadent, absolutely fantabulously delicious works of art.

Before Mark's truck even left the driveway, I had grabbed the camera and set about staging the doughnuts in the best possible late afternoon sunlight, as their heavenly scent made me drool dizzy and giddy.

(That's your first reaction at receiving a box of doughnuts, isn't it? Photographing them before even thinking about tasting them? Well if not you'll change your ways when you see these doughnuts, they are just that beautiful.)

Each and every doughnut was different. There was a coconut and a blueberry, but most of the others were exquisite combinations of gooey chocolate, creamy caramel, crushed nuts, sparkles and sprinkles and my favorite--crushed ice cream cone a la Nutty Buddy.

The Chesapeake Bay Children and I thought we'd died and gone to Sugar Heaven and gleefully forgot all about eating supper that night cut each one up in about five pieces and sampled and savored each one. Chesapeake Bay Son declared them delectable. Chesapeake Bay Daughter said they were the best ever. Chesapeake Bay Woman fell over backwards in a sugar-induced convulsion all the while still reaching for one more taste of divine decadence.

Blue Collar Joe's is located in Daleville, Virginia, which is quite a ways from Mathews. This is probably a good thing. If it were any closer, I'd have to change my name to Chesapeake Bay Doughnut.

Thanks, Mathews Mark, for dropping these off, and thanks, Anonymous Hallieford Resident, for thinking of me.

But most of all thank you to Mr. Blue Collar Joe for the best doughnut supper I've ever had. Ever.

Blue Collar Joe's website is The phone number for the World's Best Doughnuts is (540) 992-5637. When you call, please tell them that Chesapeake Bay Doughnut Woman is running low on insulin doughnuts and to please send another dozen soon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

To Do List

The photo above was taken from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

This photo was taken from the outer banks of Gwynn's Island.

Completely and utterly unrelated to any of the above is the rest of this post. Welcome to the transition. Please enjoy the Muzak playing in the background while we gently shift into fifth gear.

As I write this on Saturday night, I'm eagerly anticipating a sunny, warm Sunday because if not I'll be traveling to WVEC television studios prepared to engage in an all-out fist fight with the weather man the weather forecast indicates a potential spurt of moderate temperatures.

High on my list of things to do during this rare temperate day:

- sleep late

- have a cup of coffee then go right back to bed

- ease gently into the day

- open the garage door to let the small family of rodents out for some fresh air and exercise let the fresh air in

- attempt to tackle the clutter there (and realize that even five minutes of effort is an actual attempt, no?)

- download/upload pictures from an unexpected delivery to my doorstep yesterday

- eagerly write Monday's blog post about said delivery which involves the color pink, some sparkles, rapture, indulgence, blue collars, and a gummy worm (not necessarily in that order)

I would ask you to guess what the delivery was except one of my two readers already knows.

Instead, can you come clean my garage for me? what will you be doing today?

And even better, what would you rather be doing if you could do anything?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spanish Ducat

In this week's edition of our local paper, the Gazette Journal, there was a particularly interesting tidbit in my favorite section, "Glimpses Into the Past."

20 Years Ago
Thursday, March 1, 1990

"A 400-year-old silver coin was found along the North River shore of Mathews by North resident Doug S. A Peninsula coin dealer identified the coin, dated 1586, as a Spanish four ducat. The coin is slightly larger than a U.S. quarter and has been worn smooth on one side."

Okay, first of all, I went to school with Doug S. 400 years ago 400 years ago is not something we reference with any degree of frequency here in Mathews, unless one (i.e. CBW) is talking about the last time the refrigerator was cleaned.

Something from the 1800s? Sure. Early 20th century? Certainly. But something from the sixteenth century? Never.

Just touching something from the year 1586 is miraculous to me, but finding such an item would be the thrill of a lifetime. That's not just because I don't get out much, mostly it's because I don't get out much always wanted to be an archaeologist hunting for tiny pieces to some historic puzzle that needed to be solved.

It's time for a pop quiz, even though quizzes and thinking are illegal on the weekends, especially in Mathews.

How did this 400+ year old coin of Spanish descent wind up in the North River of little ole Mathews County, Virginia, USA, North America?

1. Captain John Smith brought it over from England and lost it out his pocket when he wrestled and man-handled a sting ray off a particular point in Deltaville in 1608. (For non-locals, Sting Ray Point is said to have been named for just this wrestling match, although there was no reference to a 1586 coin falling out his pocket--until now.) This answer does not address how the coin made its way from Spain to England from Stingray Point to the North River, but that's a topic for some other day.

2. Pirates. Plain and simple. Pirates. They came up the river seeking shelter from a storm and started playing quarters except with ducats.

3. Honestly if I don't find out the answer to this I'll be thinking about it until and even while drool falls from my mouth onto my lap as I sit propped up in the hallway of the Mathews Convalescent Center.

But I really think the answer relates to pirates.

What do you think?