Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dock

The weather over the weekend was spectacular - crisp, clear, almost humidity-free.

(We are never completely without humidity just like we're never completely without ants, mosquitoes, flies, fiddler crabs, cats that need feeding, unwelcome/uninvited Canada geese, dirty laundry or grass that needs cutting.)

The setting sun combined with this crisp air made for a delightful light display on the dock.

These photos, taken from the dock and the boathouse area, won't win any awards, but hopefully they help convey the point I'm trying to make.

Believe it or not, there is a point here, somewhere. I think it has to do with lighting. Or maybe it has to do with insects those missing boards and all the other repairs the house dock needs. Still, maybe the point is I'd rather have a million cats in the yard than even two geese, because at least the cats don't leave feathers and other distasteful deposits that make it nigh on impossible to walk through one's OWN yard barefoot.


Below, because there aren't enough hazards already, is an old crab net that hangs right in the middle of the doorway leading into the boathouse and the fish cleaning area.

(No fish have been cleaned in this area since Pocahontas gave Gwynns Island to Captain John Smith the 1970s. Archaeological tours are available by dialing 1-800-Nothing Ever Changes.)

There are plenty--plenty--of other places we could hang this net, but for some reason we keep it right here as if we hope to catch a human.

This is a better illustration of the missing boards the light show.

The dock is vital to our survival here in Mathews. It allows us to fish, crab and--most importantly-- communicate.

Just tonight, after exchanging pleasantries from the end of our dock, I learned from our neighbor that the reason she was hauling furniture off her dock onto higher land was due to a Major Storm predicted to possibly skirt the coast here in the next couple of days.

Since I hate skirts never listen to the weather forecast; don't watch TV; rarely listen to the radio; only occasionally read anything; and seem to get by just fine on oblivion word of mouth for everything up to and including an impending hurricane what's on sale at the Best Value, I guess I'd best be gettin' ready for a storm.

To anyone out there who lives in civilization watches TV: Do I need to batten down the hatches tonight or tomorrow night?

To anyone out there who knows what it means to batten down the hatches: Please give a brief overview of how to batten, especially in the throes of a storm you didn't know was coming, and give special emphasis to the hatches, which may or may not have any particular meaning to the person you're talking to.

To anyone out there still awake: Is this thing even coming close to us here on the Chesapeake Bay?

If so, I have a lot of work to do, right after I come home from work.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Boats Sail

Boats sail onQueens Creek the rivers,

And ships sail on the seas;

But clouds that sail across the sky

Are prettier far than these.

There are bridges on Milford Haven the rivers,

As pretty as you please;

But the bow that bridges heaven,
And overtops the trees,
And builds a road from earth to sky,
Is prettier far than these.

p.s. With all due deference to Ms. Christina Georgina Rosettie, and because "pretty" lies subjectively in the eye of the beholder, but most importantly since the fate of humanity does not rest on any of this, let's just agree that it's all beautiful.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What I Learned

The Griswolds Chesapeake Bay Family has just returned from a rare trip away from geese, cats, yard work, deadlines and schedules home and we had such a good time.

There were many things I learned on this much-needed break from our normal routine.

(Just to clarify, there is nothing normal about our routine or our life, but "normal" is just one of those words that I like to toss out every now and again to make myself laugh. You could just as easily substitute the word "dysfunctional" any time "normal" appears here. In case I've not mentioned it recently, the name of my next book will be Dysfunction Junction, Where Normal Fears to Tread.)

One of the first things I learned after wiping my feet on the welcome mat of Vacation is that sombreros can be used as sun bonnets. Sunbreros, if you will.

Below is a photo of Baby Sis and her sombrero-wearing self walking towards the beach with Chesapeake Bay Mother. There is so much I could say about how this evening ended, but for now let's just focus on the sombrero mood lighting, also known as condensation on the camera lens.

So, another thing I learned is to allow ample time for one's camera to adjust from a hot, steamy car to air-conditioning back out to 350% humidity. In other words, don't plan on any spontaneous shots, especially when one of your siblings is wearing a sombrero as a sun bonnet.

The next thing I learned is that, yes, there is life without cats and geese technology. We had no internet, no telephones, about two channels of TV and plenty of bored board games to play.

Along those lines, I learned that I have lost all patience as it relates to anything except napping and staring at the ocean the game of Monopoly, but I would play a thousand rounds of it if Chesapeake Bay Daughter asked me to, and she did. At least a thousand times.

There were lots and lots of other lessons learned, including Just because you could body surf when you were twenty years old, does not mean you can do it twice as well in your forties. In fact, you can't even do it half as well. Or at all. But that's OK because your children nearly choked with laughter and the entire beach seemed to be quite amused. Next time put on a sombrero for a little extra panache.

But most important of all is this: I love spending time with my children and family away from the pressures of ordinary life, and with time passing by so quickly it's essential to make the most of every precious second together.

The End.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Week Or So

This is a recent sunrise on Queens Creek.

Once upon a time on Queens Creek,
A blogger took a break, for approximately a week.
Though she truly loved blogging she needed this break,
As did her two readers, for goodness sake.
While she squeezes the last bit of life from this summer,
She hopes to return fresher and hopefully not dumber

...although she can't make any promises on that last sentence thanks to the fact that her brain cells are on the endangered species list. At last count there were only three and two of them were hanging on by a thread.

I'll be back.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Boats on the Creek

I know.

You wish you had a pair of sunglasses. Here, take mine.

My apologies for the glare.

If you squint and avoid the upper right corner of the photo above, you'll see a boat on the creek I live on.

An exquisite boat.

Of course I'd call the boat above out of focus exquisite too.

Same with the one below.

(Except this one is way out of focus.)

During this particular excursion, whenever I tried to snap an in-focus shot, which was nigh on impossible from my vantage point, I became indignant impatient and uttered a few bydammits.

For those unfamiliar with the "Oh By Dammit" expression, please click here for that story.

May your Friday be free from out-of-focus photos and bydammits.

It's Friday! What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Things

Believe it or not, it's Thursday, and on this blog that means it's a three ring circus Three Thing Thursday, where we share three random things.

Usually I go first, but in real life I'd insist you begin, because I'm the sort of person who, when ordering at a restaurant, wants to hear what everyone else is getting first. This is usually because I can't make up my mind and somehow or another think that hearing everyone else's decision will make things easier. It rarely does, so I usually panic and order something willy nilly that I wasn't even considering to begin with.

If that paragraph makes you want to beat your brains in, welcome to my world. It's painful.

Let's begin.

1. Hallelujah. Amen. Thank you. Yes. I do not have to report to the paying job for a week and a half. Oh yeah.

2. Guess what? Chesapeake Bay Mother now has internet, thanks to Hallieford Jim! She also purchased a new laptop, or flaptop as my father calls it. She has already decided on a name for a blog she wishes to start. All of this coincides nicely with my need to cut back on my blogging in the fall to work on another project. So stay tuned for those exciting details. And more.

3. Continuing with yesterday's theme of "CBW never really knows what she's talking about, especially when it comes to identifying plants and wildlife," last night I saw either a sting ray or a skate. You see, those terms have always been interchangeable to me because I do not know what the difference is. Same with dolphin and porpoise. Regardless, I saw something in the water that was either a skate or a sting ray. Perhaps someone with some sense knowledge of marine biology can explain the difference to me.

Now it's your turn to share three things. If you can tell me the difference between a sting ray and a skate, it won't count towards your three things unless you want it to.

We're very easy going here. Some might also say we're willy silly nilly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Morning Glory

These flowers serve as the welcome mat to one of our county beaches, and if I didn't know any better I'd say they were morning glories.

Of course, I don't know any better, therefore I have to guess. It's just that I've never seen morning glories growing in the sand. They're always out in our field or climbing along the marsh grasses on the shoreline.

Since Details-R-Not CBW and CBW Doesn't Have Time to Confirm, she's going to go with the guess of morning glories and adds, "If these aren't morning glories, they're close enough."

FYI - The name of my autobiography will be Close Enough: The Life of an Almost-Underachiever.
Whether these are images of morning glories or toaster ovens, I'd like to talk briefly about morning glories, which do grow wild around here. Somewhere.

My BFF Wikipedia says this about them:

The flower usually opens in the morning and closes in the afternoon. On a cloudy day, the flower may last until night. The flowers usually start to fade a couple of hours before the petals start showing visible curling.

Because of their fast growth, twining habit, attractive flowers, and tolerance for poor, dry soils, some morning glories are excellent vines for creating summer shade on building walls when trellised, thus keeping the building cooler and reducing heating and cooling costs.

The morning glory represents "love in vain" for whatever outside circumstances according to the Victorian "Language of Flowers", which attributed various properties and sentiments to flowers so that people could communicate their feelings by what flowers were given as gifts, such as those by a suitor to their loved one.

The seeds can produce a similar effect to LSD when taken in the hundreds.

Moral of the Story: If a suitor hands you a bouquet of morning glories, start chewin' on the seeds.

p.s. I do believe the top two are a "beachified" version of morning glory, but that last one is some gorgeous flower that grows down among the cattails in the swampy area of my shoreline.

Regardless of what they're technically called, they're technically beautiful.

Have you seen morning glories? If not, is there a similar sort of flower growing wild that you like?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The front page of yesterday's Daily Press had an article on algae and the Chesapeake Bay.

"The normally blue-green waters are awash in cranberry-colored stains that, scientists say, indicate the bay still has serious pollution problems."

According to the article, if the algae is dense enough it creates dead zones--areas depleted of oxygen--which can kill baby oysters and crabs, among other things.

"'It's an indication that the bay's water quality is out of balance,' said Christy Everett, Hampton Roads director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the elder statesman of a growing number of bay advocacy groups."

A combination of warm water and dense nutrients from storm water runoff creates the perfect environment for the algae to thrive. The runoff dumps fresh water laden with things such as fertilizer and animal waste, which create nitrogen and phosphorus. As the water cools, the algae dies and sinks to the bottom.

"As it decomposes, it consumes oxygen while sinking to the sea floor."

My father recently took a boat ride for the first time in many years. He was astounded at all of the new homes along the water. It's nearly impossible to find a patch of waterfront that hasn't been cleared.

Although I am in no way, shape or form fit to discuss science on any level, I have made some general observations over the years. The water in our creek has definitely changed over time--it's darker, murkier. What that is from I cannot say, I just know it's different.

Over time different forms of wildlife have come and gone on our creek. When I was a kid, mallard ducks and muskrats were everywhere; now we're lucky if we see any. Canada geese? We never had them 20 years ago. Now they come here in throngs thanks to Chesapeake Bay Mother's 24-hour Corn Buffet and Spa.

I could go on and on but my point is this: What sort of algae do I need to buy to create an oxygen-deprived dead zone in the hopes of keeping Gustav the Goose from leading his Canadian friends into my yard?

For more information on the state of the bay, visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's site.

For more information on Gustav and his antics, check out
his Facebook page.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Canoe

Once upon a time, a stressed out mother hosted a birthday party for her son and a gaggle of teenagers.

Although it was two whole days of cooking, cleaning, and waiting on people a lot of work, she was happy to be a part of such a joyous occasion.

After a never ending day chock full of fun, the teenagers partook of dinner and retreated to the living room to play video games. At night they never sleep became restless and decided they wanted to take the canoe and the row boat to the cemetery across the creek to play Ouija, because that's what all normal teenagers do, right?

All righty then. Moving right along.

The cemetery was located very close to home, directly across the creek from the stressed out mother's house.

These photos were taken looking towards that cemetery from the very vantage point the stressed out mother sat biting her fingernails waiting, except it wasn't daylight, it was pitch black night.
Oh, and the wind was blowing a clip from the northeast, much like the scene below, only without the rain.

And, of course, without the daylight:
OK, it wasn't quite that bad, but still.

Although the stressed out mother fretted the whole time, she could hear the teenagers, so she knew everyone was reasonably safe.

When they arrived back home, the son disembarked from the rowboat, approached his mother calmly and said, "When we got out at the cemetery, Jason forgot to pull the canoe up on shore, and the wind blew it away. He came home in the rowboat with us, but the canoe is gone. We looked for it. "

The mother decided then and there that she was running away from home and wondered how quickly she could acquire a ticket to Bora Bora was none too pleased with this news, particularly at the end of such a long, painful fun-filled day.

Among some of the pyrotechnic outbursts that shot forth from her mouth were, "BLEEPITY BLEEP! I CAN'T BaaLEEVE THIS! THANK GOD CHESAPEAKE BAY FATHER TAUGHT ME HOW TO DRIVE A BOAT WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER." This was screamed uttered as she threw her boat in reverse out of the boathouse in the dark; in the gale-force wind; with her daughter on the bow holding a flashlight trying to locate the canoe. In the dark. With wind. At night. Looking for a needle in a haystack canoe in the dark. Wind. Dark. Wind. Dark. Dark. And more dark. Plus some wind thrown in for good measure.

After much cussing, more than a few stomps of the foot, at least one full-on hissy fit and several conniptions, the stressed out mother and her flashlight-holding, bow-riding daughter located the canoe and dragged it back home. In the dark. And in the wind.

And everyone survived lived happily ever after.

Including the teenagers the canoe.

The End.

p.s. Dear Chesapeake Bay Son, I thoroughly enjoyed having your friends over and would do it again in a heartbeat. Speaking of hearts, though, if you'd like mine to continue beating into old age, be sure to choose another activity, such as shuffleboard or checkers pull the canoe up on shore next time. Oh, and do the boating during daylight hours. Love you!

Also, a sincere thanks to my father for teaching me at a very young age how to handle a boat. It's a life skill that has come in very, very handy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Don't ever ask me to make a decision unless the question is whether to continue working if I should win the lottery.

Decisiveness is nowhere to be found on my short list of personal attributes.

Take, for example, these photos of a bushel basket on the public landing at Onemo. They're very similar.

Yet there are subtle differences, enough that I could not decide which one to post for today.

So here are all three.

There are a couple of stories to share from this weekend, and hopefully I'll work on those today, provided I can decide which one to tell first.

Are you decisive? How do you go about making decisions? Do you employ the Eenie Meenie Miney Moe or the One Potato, Two Potato method? Is there a better way?

And how does one catch a tiger by the toe, anyway?

Have a great, decision-free Sunday.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blue and Green

Last night I decided not to post today.

Then, because of my obsessive/compulsive need to post daily because yesterday's pictures were so gray and gloomy, I changed my mind.

We can't have storm clouds lingering on the first one day I decide to skip a post, now can we?

So here is some blue and green, a little color for the weekend.

May yours be filled with more color than gray.

p.s. For those who may recognize it, that's the Islander in the background.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Storm Clouds

In spite of all appearances, this is not a scene from the Wizard of Oz and the picture was not taken in Kansas.

August is the unofficial thunderstorm month around here, and many evenings treacherous storms race up the Piankatank River before spinning off angrily towards the bay. They're very rude, these thunderstorms. They barge in, wreak havoc and don't even say they're sorry.

Although this looks very ominous, no ruby slippers or flying monkeys were involved in this particular storm which came through a week or two ago.

This was taken along what some folks call the river shore road on Gwynns Island.

(I'd capitalize River Shore Road, except the Virginia Department of Transportation has officially declared this Old Ferry Road. And who am I to quibble with a posted sign unless it says No Trespassing?)

Right below those storm clouds is Deltaville, which is in Middlesex County.

Deltaville has several claims to fame including Sting Ray Point, where Captain John Smith is rumored to have wrangled with a ferocious sting ray; Taylors Restaurant, formerly the home of the world's greatest seafood buffet ever; the baseball stadium which uses crab pot wire to protect the audience from fly balls; and Jamie, who writes a blog about her childhood memories in that area. You didn't hear this from me, but she's been known to splash about in these very waters atop a rubber ducky float. Not that I have photos or anything.

As we take a step or two back, the distance between the island and Deltaville becomes more apparent.

With yet another step or so back, the ferocious temperament of the clouds becomes apparent too. Clouds are extremely temperamental, you know.

Yep, it's cyclone thunderstorm season here.

Auntie Em!

There's no place like home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Things

Welcome to Thursday where I share three things however random and you share three things, the more random the better.

Let's begin.

1. Saturday evening there is a crab steam at the Ruritan Club. Senator Ralph Northam, my favorite state leader, will be there, and so will a person wearing a crab hat. Guess which one people are coming to see?

Come on out and have a grand time with crazy people wearing crab hats good friends and good food. I promise none of the crabs being steamed are fiddler crabs.

2. Today I made a list of all the things troubling me. The list was absolutely overwhelming.

3. The photo above is in my top ten favorites. Obviously it represents Everything Mathews with the skiff, the marsh grass, the dock and the water, but it also represents how I feel most some days: tethered tightly to a dock even though the tide is way out and there's no danger of drifting away--or at all for that matter. An uncomplicated boat meant to venture calmly and freely on the waters is unnecessarily bound by outside influences.

Or something.

And now, before we get too deep, it's your turn to share three things. Whatever you want, anything at all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Cornfield Incident

Once upon a time, a group of bloggers met for a weekend of fun and frivolity.

After gallivanting, cavorting and caravaning through several counties taking photos, they decided to have lunch.

This lunch included cheeseburger boats, hamburger boats, crab cake boats and french fries which evidently is what makes a boat a boat as opposed to those plastic baskets that used to denote a boat. This talk about plastic baskets and boats is not germane to the story other than this: BOATLOADS of french fries and other fried foods were consumed.

Let's return to our incident, already in progress.

On the ride home, one of the passengers had what is known in the medical journals as "a rumbly in the tumbly. " When the driver told her how far they were from home, and added that by the way there's no such thing as public restrooms in the tri-county area, an emergency stop was made to address the shituation.

This emergency stop involved a cornfield and a very, very lovely old farm. It so happens the driver knew the owner of this farm, so she felt it was OK to trespass stop a while and take some photos. It also happens that another passenger had some wet wipes everything necessary for such an emergency stop. It was something else destiny.

While the one passenger addressed her needs, the remainder of the jolly party frolicked about the property gleefully snapping one photo after another.

And when all was said and done, it was a very productive pit stop for all the merry bloggers.

The End.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Book

This is an early morning shot of the old school near Haven Beach and a prime example of a location that will be going in the book I'm supposed to be working on, Mathews County Then and Now. I'm taking the "Now" shots and must locate the "Then" shots to match.

I can take photos all day long, no problem. The problem lies in trying to locate all the "then" photos to go along with mine.

And that's not all.

There are very stringent technical requirements for the shots. Photocopies are no good. Scanned copies of originals are acceptable provided they are of a certain quality. Digital photos must be saved as TIFF files.

Did I mention I've never heard of a tiff unless you're talking about a spat, and we aren't?

Did I mention that I don't know how to use a scanner, much less ensure proper resolution, cropping, output or print size; color (what is grayscale?); descreening; etc.? I thought descreening was what my cats do to my windows. Who knew it was also a scanning term?

Also? If I want to copy files or photos or what not from the main drive on my computer to a CD? Doesn't work. Even Chesapeake Bay Son says so, so it's not just me. Therefore, I need a new computer, but there are only two problems: money and fear of change money. Never mind that I would have no idea what to get even if I had the money.

So, let' recap the challenges:

1. Locate 80 high-quality, vintage photos of typical Mathews scenes, such as schools, churches, the court house, wharves, estates, homes, etc. (Not easy.)

2. Take 80 high-quality photos to match the 80 older/vintage ones. (Daunting, but doable.)

3. Get (1) and (2) into the proper technical format. (Impossible for me. Does not compute.)

4. Research each location and write a blurb describing the major changes over the years for each pair of photos. (Not impossible, but not easy.)

5. Need a new computer.

6. Tilt! Help!

If anyone reading has access to old photographs or post cards of Mathews, and/or if anyone knows anything about what scanner or computer I need to complete this project, please let me know.

The ideal computer must not cost anything manipulate and save photos in TIFF format; multi-task; do the laundry; cook supper, and cut the lawn while ferrying children to and from school activities and the orthodontist that's an hour away.

The scanner must be able to produce images at a resolution of no less than 300 dots per inch and save as TIFFs. In spite of how it appears to me, the previous sentence was written in English and is not Lithuanian. What, pray tell, is resolution a TIFF?

You can e-mail me at ChesapeakeBayWoman@gmail.com (or my other e-mail if you have it) or leave a comment here. The main priority right now is in acquiring the photos and then scanning them. Oh, also in acquiring the proper technology. Plus learning how to use it. Then doing all the research. While parenting two children.


p.s. Since I already have a day job, I'll just plan on doing all this during the hours ordinarily set aside for sleeping, i.e. midnight to five a.m.

p.s. Part II This means that at some point in the near future, my blog is going to switch from daily postings to twice or three times a week. Or less. (Hold your applause.)

p.s. Part III Thanks for letting me whine vent.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Morning Has Broken

These are from Aaron's Beach on a recent summer morning.

Chesapeake Bay Son is trying out for the cross country team. His practices are usually when most people are just reaching the REM stage of sleep at the crack of dawn.

When/if I do not have to travel four thousand miles to the paying job, I drive him to practice and take advantage of the hour or so between drop off and pick up to photograph some of my favorite places in the early morning light.

While there isn't a whole lot of color in these particular shots because I am not a real photographer and tend to do things like point the camera directly into the sun while in Auto mode, there is something rather soothing about them.

In fact, there's something soothing about the water no matter how much the photographer refuses to use anything other than Auto mode no matter what, particularly first thing in the morning before anything's had the chance to mess with it yet.

I hope your Monday is as peaceful and serene as this Mathews County beach at sunrise.

p.s. I am sort of laughing as I write this Sunday night, because Mondays for me are about as peaceful and serene as a root canal without Novocain. What advice would you give to someone who wastes spends an entire Sunday dreading Monday?

Is there any way a person can make a decent living writing silly blog posts and taking photos in Auto mode?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunflowers, Etc.

These sunflowers grow in my mother's garden.

I don't know what kind of magic juju she waves over her plants, but everything she's grown this year has been super-sized up to and including her flock of wild geese .

On the other hand, my tomatoes have all but given up. The peppers are choked out by weeds, and my roses are dying from neglect.

The crab grass, however, is doing remarkably well thanks to in spite of the neglect.

Keeping the yard cut is one thing. To keep the weeds out of the garden and flower beds would require hours each week that I simply do not have. That black weed block paper stuff? Doesn't work. The crab grass howled with laughter and, to add salt to the wound, came back stronger than ever. I'm not big on using poison unless it's for ants or Gustav's water bucket either.

Aside from hiring someone, which is cost prohibitive for me, is there some magic juju that retards grass growth in flower beds and gardens?

Today I'll be contemplating these domestic dilemmas which include how to clean mold from a pop-up camper; how to keep the Canada geese and their deposits* out of my yard when my mother feeds then next door; and how to repair a ping pong table damaged in an unexpected rain storm during a party. It was my great idea to put it outside.

*The Canada geese aren't scared of me at all. Several times per day I come dashing out the back door trying to scare them off, much like a madwoman. They laugh when I yell, jump up and down, stomp my feet, flail my arms and swirl large objects in the air. I'm sure the neighbors are equally bemused amused.

At least I hope so.

Serenity now.

May your Sunday be free from stress, maintenance dilemmas and geese chores.

Saturday, August 7, 2010








A Royal Pain:

The End.

p.s. What word best describes how you're feeling today? And what one word would you use to describe a killer goose? I can't seem to designate just one word, it must be an entire string.