Saturday, December 31, 2011

Life Lessons

My recent trip to New York City taught me a few things.

First of all, not all of New York City is cold and impersonal, which is a label I tend to place on most cities. My friend Daryl and her husband Ray have lived in the same beautiful, cozy apartment in the same beautiful apartment building for several decades. What that means is they have become close friends with many of the residents of their building, so much so that one of them offered to let Kate, Maria and I stay in his apartment, since he was going to be out of town during our visit.

I mean really, that's exceptionally generous, offering your home to complete strangers. Even here in Mathews we might be a little skeptical about letting complete strangers live in our house for a few days while we were out of town. Actually I think we'd be highly unlikely to do so, even though we're known for our small-town friendliness.

Yet here smack dab in the middle of New York City was an individual willing to let three unknown women sleep in his apartment while he was out of town. I find that truly remarkable.

Life Lesson #1: New York Can Be a Very Friendly Place

These scenes of the Hudson River and George Washington Bridge were taken just steps away from Daryl's beautiful apartment building. Whenever I think of New York, I think of Wall Street or Times Square, of crowds or sun-blocking, high-rise buildings.

Yet just down the street from where she lives are a few of my favorite things: water, lots of places to walk, and lots of open sky. You don't even have to get in a car and drive anywhere to see it.

Just stumble out the apartment building and there you are.

Life Lesson #2: There's More to New York Than Traffic, Buildings and Crowds.

These seagulls don't look any different than the ones I photograph here in Mathews. Their environment might be slightly different but they're still seagulls no matter what. They fly, they eat, they do whatever seagulls do, just like the ones here.

Daryl on Pier One

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the differences between city and country living are blatantly obvious. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find many things in common between Daryl's neighborhood and my hometown.

The big city didn't feel so big there.

It felt very welcoming and friendly.

And that was perhaps the best surprise of all. Thank you, Daryl!

p.s. Life Lesson #3: Restaurants and Food In General in NYC Are the Best.

Don't even get me started on Zabar's which was within walking distance from Daryl's apartment. I could have spent hours in there looking at the cheese case alone. I tried to spend hours looking at the cheese case alone. But, alas, we didn't have hours for me to stare at the cheeses. And now I'm back in Mathews where my cheese choices are Cracker Barrel, ShurFine or Heluvagood brands that come in cheddar, sharp cheddar, extra sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, I'msotiredof cheddar, white cheddar, fat-free cheddar, or Monterey Jack. The End.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Home Again

These pictures were taken a week or so ago.

I can't remember, really, and I'm too lazy to even click on the image to view the date.

These two structures sit right across from the Grimstead post office on Gwynn's Island.

As usual, the pictures don't have much to do with the point of this blog post other than the house above was once someone's home and I've just returned home after a train trip to New York City. I will post some pictures after I've had time to rest up, but the trip was a much needed getaway with some wonderful friends including Daryl, Kate, Lauren, as well as someone I had not met before other than through the blogosphere, Commenter Maria from New Jersey, who took the bus up to meet us.

We had entirely too much fun.

Daryl, our hostess and tour guide, and Kate have already posted some pictures and stories about all our fun.

I can't thank Daryl enough for her hospitality. I'd also like to thank Amtrak for providing six hours of utter and complete boredom quality travel time to tinker with my iPod with Wi-Fi capability.  My kids gave it to me last Christmas and it's only taken me a year (and a six hour train ride) to figure it all out.

Now that I'm back I'm looking forward to the weekend, mostly because there's nothing at all scheduled or planned.  I keep forgetting that Saturday is New Year's Eve.  I'm pretty sure I've had all the fun a person is supposed to have in one year week, so I'll probably be watching TV and going to bed early that night.

What will you be doing?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sandbank Seagulls

Part of my excursion on Monday took me to to the site of the old Sandbank wharf.  The road looks as if it just drops off into the bay.

(It pretty much does unless you hook it hard to the left there.)

A flock of seagulls was enjoying the sunshine.

A few started flying towards me.

But then they realized there was nothing to see and quickly changed direction.

Unrelated to anything previously mentioned, I am visiting blog friends in New York
for a few days and will return soon,
the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

A Mathews girl in New York is sort of like a New York girl in Mathews.
It won't be hard to spot the out-of-towner.
Of course, the crab hat that I'm bringing won't help matters much.

I'm definitely looking forward to it.

I'll report back as soon as I'm able.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Venturing Out

Yesterday, after sleeping all day lying around nursing a Christmas cold that refuses to leave, I decided to venture out to the ends of the Earth opposite end of the county from me, the Bavon/New Point area.

It was pretty chilly and there was a good breeze blowing.

None of this deterred a kayaker, who was gearing up and preparing to put in just as I arrived.

I didn't take his picture, but trust me he was out there somewhere just as I was snapping these. I think he slunk underneath the dock.  Slunk is the past tense of slink. I think. Or did I thunk he slunk?  To slink is to sneak stealthily underneath a dock when someone with a camera desperate for something to take a picture of happens to be nearby. There's no need to check this on Wikipedia or Merriam Webster online or anything. Except if you did, you might find this.  And here I thought I had made up a new word. 

After spending some time on the observation deck at New Point Light  reflecting on the cool breeze and the elusive kayaker,

I returned to the car and headed back up the road towards home, but not before I took a few more pictures of a seagull festival going on down Sandbank.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Day of Rest

These shots of a heron at Bethel Beach are about a month old. With everything going on here lately, I haven't had an opportunity to wander around the county to take pictures. This week will be just as busy, although in a much different way. I'm leaving on a trip to New York to see some blog friends and eat some good food.

Today, though, is the calm before after the storm, a day of rest and a day of lollygagging. My definition of lollygagging includes wandering around the county taking pictures, if the weather cooperates.

We had a great time celebrating Christmas and my mother's birthday Saturday evening. The whole family (plus Ann Marie, her father, and her adorable little dog who stopped by later in the evening) feasted on crab legs, scallops, shrimp and wine much more. Perhaps going against the grain of most family's typical Christmas celebrations, but right in line with a Chesapeake Bay Family celebration of any kind, there was some dancing involved. And a few hats. In short a good time was had by all.

But I'm really looking forward to resting and lollygagging today.

Hope your weekend was good and your Christmas (for those who celebrate) was great. If you're fortunate enough to have today off from work, try to squeeze in as much lollygagging as possible.

It's good for you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Decorations

After several weeks days of complaining and worrying about whether it would all get done, the Chesapeake Bay Family house is as ready as it's ever gonna get finally ready for Christmas.

Yes, that's an inflatable snowman sitting on my front porch.
Also, yes, that is a rope light hanging around the window.
They're not just for outside.
Are they?

For my mother's birthday this Christmas Eve, we're planning a big family seafood dinner.

The dinner will be big, the family isn't really that big.  Also, it's not a family of seafood.  That sentence sure was poorly written. Let me try again.

For my mother's birthday on Christmas Eve, the entire Chesapeake Bay Family will sit down to a big seafood dinner.

There. That's a little better.

Yep.  That's a Santa Claus hanging on the wall back there.
And those are tacky cheap Dollar Store decorations hanging from the chandelier.

I have a whole shelf dedicated to Santa Clauses that I picked up at thrift stores over the years. Those wooden birds live on this shelf  year round, and they look forward to this one time of the year when they have some company.

Below is an example of my mother's incredible artwork.  She painted that Santa Claus on an old coffee can a long time ago. I love it.

One of my favorite thrift store finds is the nautical Santa Claus below.

Here's my artificial Christmas tree in all its  gory  glory. This thing and I have a love/hate relationship.  We go about sixteen rounds every year when I try to haul it up and down the basement steps.

It's brutal, but worth it. The Chesapeake Bay Children won't let me light a match to it like I want to retire it and get a smaller tree.

Speaking of my kids, they made the snowman below.  Chesapeake Bay Son fashioned that hat out of some marsh grass, and they took a tine from a plastic fork to make the nose.  This is another one of my favorite decorations.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Do not adjust your dials.

This blurred view of Queens Creek from my back yard yesterday morning came courtesy of some morning fog that lingered after the sun came up.

The chairs below encircle my fire pit, where I live to light fires love to light fires.

Tomorrow is not only Christmas Eve, it's my mother's 70th birthday.

Baby Sis, Middle Sis--the whole family will be under one roof.

If I don't post again before Sunday, Merry Christmas, peace, love and joy to you and the ones you hold dear.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Things

Welcome to Three Thing Thursday where I share three thoughts (two of which today may be related) and hopefully you do too. We usually strive for three unrelated thoughts, but most of the time we break our own rules because we are the rules are arbitrary and ridiculous, sort of like the pricing scheme for gas.  Or ice cream.

Let's begin.

1. It's been a long time since I've taken any photos worth seeing  mentioning. The one above, from Bethel Beach almost a month ago, bores me a little, to be honest. OK, so perhaps the way the pine branches seem to reach out to those feathers of clouds is interesting, but otherwise I'm thinking I really need to spend an hour or so in the coming days taking some new pictures.

2. Since August I've been enslaved to a schedule that demands a 100 + mile-per-day drive to work and however many more miles to my children's school activities + children's weekend social activities--all of which requires nothing short of a personal assistant, which I don't have, to keep track of. Nothing gives me more pleasure to announce than this: If I don't want to, I don't have to drive outside the boundaries of Mathews County until Tuesday of next week. That is five full days of sleeping past five thirty a.m. and five full days of never having to drive more than the five miles to Mathews Court House for groceries. It's a Christmas miracle! As well as an overabundance of "fives" in one sentence!

3.My goal is to never have to cross the river again to do everything humanly possible to avoid crossing the York River until I return to work in January. Amen.

Now it's your turn.  What's on your mind?  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


These are just different shots of a soybean field and shed near the cemetery on Route 3, Windsor Road.

I don't have a whole lot to say today, because I am trying to keep my head above water even though it feels like my foot is tied to a cinder block pulling me under survive this week, juggling work and the pre-Christmas preparations.

But I am pleased--nay, thrilled--to report that after today I will not have to go to the paying job again until January 3. There's still lots of work to do, but at least it's all at home.

I still do not understand how or why words like nay spring so effortlessly from my mouth. Perhaps I am channeling my grandmother.

Or Captain John Smith.

Either way, I will be so thankful when this workday is over that I might just dance a jig.

A jig*?

CBW Captain John Smith


*About this word jig, Wikipedia says:

"The term jig was probably derived from the French giguer, meaning 'to jump' or the Italian giga. It was known as a dance in sixteenth-century England, often in 2/4 time, and the term was used for a dancing entertainment in sixteenth century plays."

Hello, CBW? Captain John Smith called. He wants his words back.

Nay, he demands them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Here are a few more photos taken from the public landing at the Seabreeze over on the island.

The sky was quickly filling with clouds, but every now and then a burst of sunshine would brighten things up brilliantly.

In this last picture I especially like how the dock sort of directs you to glance in the general direction of Callis Wharf, that white structure way off there in the distance.  It appears to be sitting under the only patch of bright sky in the east. I wasn't thinking about any of this when I shot the picture.  I'm just noticing it all now, well after the fact.

My initial thought when I paired these photos together, though, was this song.

Hope this week allows you an opportunity to sit at least briefly if not on a dock then at least some place that brings you peace.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Recap

Yesterday afternoon I drove to the high school to try and burn off some of the four thousand meatballs I ate at Saturday night's party for a jog around the track.

Then, noticing the sky was quickly clouding up, I raced over to Gwynn's Island to try and snap a few pictures before all the sunlight was gone.

These first two are from the public landing at the Seabreeze Restaurant.

These last two were taken from the car when I pulled over on the side of the road.

Kids? Nowhere in your driver's ed manual will you find a chapter on taking pictures from the car.  There are many, many excellent reasons for this. In short, don't do it.  Thanks for your attention to this lesson in the ongoing life class known as Do As Your Mother Says, Not As She Does.

I am amazed pleased to report I survived the weekend, which included:

* a book signing Friday night at Dilly Dally Emporium, which was a story in and of itself but a lot of fun;

* a post-Dilly Dally trip to Southwind, where I met several friends and engaged in some very lively conversation;

* Saturday's book signing at Twice Told Tales, where I saw my friends Bert and Brian from  school and where I met a very interesting gentleman affiliated with Gloucester Arts on Main. Not only does he have a fascinating life story, which includes many years in Brazil and an ability to speak Portuguese, but he can teach me photography--real photography, as in how to shoot a picture in anything but Auto mode!

* the Waverly Lane Christmas party hosted by my parents Saturday night. My mother outdid herself with the food and the decorations. I was so tired I couldn't hold my eyes open, so I forgot to take pictures. I did eat myself silly, however.

Speaking of pictures, I didn't get many good ones yesterday thanks to the incoming clouds and my camera's ardent desire to take only dark pictures, but there are a few just OK ones I'll post in the coming days.

It's hard to believe Christmas is this coming weekend.

What went on in your world these past few days?