Friday, September 30, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Daughter

My beautiful daughter Maria turns 13 today.

Thirteen years ago when I went into the hospital, there was much debate over what the baby would be named.  Maria was always at the top of my list, but others were not so enthused.

According to my notes from that time, the whiteboard in my room said that the nurse on duty was Maria.

I took that as a sign.

A confirmation of what I already knew.

The baby had to be named Maria.

Maria Shea, to be specific.  (She hates that middle name Shea, just like Baby Sister hates her middle name.  Baby Sis and Maria are alike in many other ways, too many to go into here. But for starters they look alike.)

Maria came into this world after I had been working all day in a very high-paced job in metropolitan DC.  I remember the day was very stressful, and I actually drove home crying a trend that continues to this very day.

Later that evening I knew we had to go to the hospital.  Thankfully, my mother was in town and could stay with then three-year-old Chesapeake Bay Son.  My mother was at the bedside when CB Son was born, and I was sorry she wouldn't be there for Maria's arrival.

Although she came into this world without much ado, Maria experienced problems shortly thereafter.  Evidently my blood wasn't compatible with her blood, or vice versa, which caused serious levels of blah blah blah--and can you tell that CBW is not a nurse or medical professional and doesn't even try to play one on the internet?

There was talk of possible brain damage if left unchecked.  She needed light therapy and possibly a blood transfusion.

My notes clearly state that it took two nurses to hold newborn Maria down while they gave her an IV (there was no blood transfusion to the best of my knowledge).  Their one-word description of her was "feisty."

Well, she's still feisty (especially on the basketball court or soccer field),  but she's also beautiful, smart, kind, considerate, talented, helpful, funny, fun-loving and the best daughter a mother could ever hope for.

Happy birthday, Maria.

You make me proud every single day, and I love you.

p.s. Friday night I will be hosting six (6)  of CB Daughter's classmates and two (2) of CB Son's friends for a total of TEN (10!) teenagers to feed before they spend the remainder of the evening skating in the basement with their music blasting.  Next up is scary movies.  All night long. I'm sure they'll be quiet as church mice and I'll get hours and hours of restful sleep.

 Calgon, please, I beg you.  Take. Me. Away. Now.

p.s. Click here for my mother's tribute to CB Daughter, and a glimpse of at least one photo which absolutely must be destroyed...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Things

Welcome to Three Thing Thursday, where I share three (usually more) things and I encourage you to do the same. You can share thoughts, dreams, hopes, desires, complaints, constraints, recipes, observations, recommendations, lamentations, obfuscations--anything at all.

Let's begin.

1. These photos of sponges (or whatever they are) washed up on Haven Beach were taken back before monsoon season hit Mathews bringing day after day of gloom, despair and agony darkness and heavy downpours. Monsoon season began in September and seems dead set on driving us all to the brink of insanity lingering the entire month. "They" say that Saturday, the first day of October, will be sunny and sixty degrees. "I" say I'll believe it when I see it.

2.  Last night at Beaverdam, the Mathews High School girls cross country team continued their streak with a win against Lancaster and West Point.  Unfortunately, for the first time in several years, the boys' team's winning streak came to an end; they came in second to Lancaster.

Or is it the boys team's winning streak?  I know it's not boy's team's winning streak, because there's more than one boy. I'm gonna stick with boys' team's but actually should just remove team's entirely and go with the boys' winning streak. However, I just realized I didn't use any apostrophe when I referenced the girls' team.  I ought to go back and simplify both sentences, but I'm too tired right now. Who here besides CBW is ready to jump overboard with a cinderblock tied to both ankles if this blog post doesn't get back on track? 

3.  Between work and sporting events, I drove approximately 400 miles total from Monday through Wednesday.  Thursday through Sunday will add at least another couple hundred miles to that tally thanks to Chesapeake Bay Daughter's weekend birthday festivities and a much needed trip "to town" (an hour away) to purchase a suit for Chesapeake Bay Son, who will be an escort in next weekend's Homecoming festivities.

4.  Will someone--anyone--please invite me to live in Bora Bora?  I don't need much, just a one room thatched hut over the water. (This over the water thing is important since I never want to have to cut grass or weed beds again.) I'd also like someone to wait on me hand and foot. If they like to cook, all the better. That isn't asking too much, is it? Good, I didn't think so.

Now it's your turn to share four three things.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gull Friends

These gregarious gulls and assorted birds were congregated down Aarons Beach not long ago.

They were engaged in some lively conversations and seemed to be having a very good time.

The gull  girl in the crab hat below is someone I've had more than a few lively conversations with, and we've definitely had our fair share of good times.

Although we're both from Mathews, she and I didn't really know each other well until we connected via blogging several years ago.

She would chime in and gladly filled in those pesky little gaps with much-needed facts or details in my stories about living and growing up in Mathews.

I learned a lot from her and she learned at least one thing from me:  how to wear a crab hat without embarrassment  with confidence and finesse.

She's moving out of the county on Saturday, and I'll definitely miss her.  Sure, she'll be instantly accessible on Facebook or e-mail, and she'll still appear in the comments section to help correct my erroneous statements with my failing memory.

But I'll still miss her and that spunky, sparky, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is personality.

Good luck with the move this weekend, Ann Marie.  You're headed for a place where you'll thrive and prosper.  But if you ever get lonely for home, you always have a place to stay here in Mathews.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Sky Scenes

Here are some more shots of the sky from Aarons Beach.

We've had a solid month day after day of overcast, dreary, wet weather here lately.

Last night after work the sun came out for just a bit.

Long enough for everyone in the neighborhood to crank up their lawnmowers and attempt to tame the knee-high jungle that includes mushrooms the size of a golf umbrella grass that has sprouted up thanks to weeks upon weeks of monsoon-like weather all the rain.

CBW, after driving 160 miles (round trip to work + Daughter's trip to orthodontist) and dealing with the paying job, came home and spent almost two hours trying to tame her back yard.

Then she spent an hour loading photos  to  the other blog she maintains for the high school cross country teams.

Then she walked the dog, fed the cats, cleaned two bathrooms and glanced at the pile of work that remains on the book that she cannot even begin to work on until the end of the week, which, in case she hasn't mentioned, is Chesapeake Bay Daughter's birthday.

Guess who is just about on the verge of fleeing the country never to return is hosting a sleepover that includes eight teenagers on Friday night?

Monday, September 26, 2011


They're fishin' nets now.

These photos were taken off the shore of Aarons Beach last week.

Click here for a post from almost a year ago relating to gill nets, among other things.

When I was comin' along, we didn't have any fancy equipment to pull the nets in, only elbow grease and fortitude.  I'll never forget those cold, rough, rainy days going out with my father to the mouth of the Piankatank to haul in stinkin', nasty nets full of fish.

Oh, what the children of today are missing.

Click here for Ann Marie's blog post on the topic. Her roots in Mathews County run deep enough to support a lighthouse and it's nice to know I wasn't the only teenaged girl out on rough waters pullin' in nets.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Sky

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

-Victor Hugo

"There's one spectacle grander than a day off;
but I'm not sure what that is.

(Wait. It would be sleeping past 5:30 a.m.and not having to drive anywhere or do anything for anyone.)

The interior of my soul is more tired than the sky is grand;
but it's all good.

It's definitely all good."

-Chesapeake Bay Woman

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Three Things

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of the day called Thursday, which is when we're encouraged to share three (or more) things, no matter what they are.

I'll go first.

1. As it turns out, after that little hike through the woods last week, I don't have poison ivy. I have CHIGGERS, or rather chigger bites. If you don't know what chiggers are, I'll devote a separate blog post to them at a later date. However, even if you do know what chiggers are? You don't know what this year's graduating class from Mathews County post-hurricane is like. In short, they're horrendous. Much like our mosquitoes, this year they have morphed into some killer, mutant breed that is relentless and dead set on causing hysteria, paranoia, incessant itching and the uttering of more than a few choice words.

Hey, at least my record against poison ivy still stands.  I am not allergic to it, at all. By the way, this is only mildly comforting as I scratch myself to death over these killer chigger bites. 

2. The Mathews High School cross country teams are undefeated. They won again Tuesday night against Northampton, Lancaster, and Middlesex. I am woefully behind in every possible aspect of my life on updating the cross country blog, but hope to tend to that this weekend. Chesapeake Bay Son's time has been improving, and it's such a pleasure to watch these kids run.

3. Saturday there's an invitational cross country meet at Maymont in Richmond (a mere 70 miles away! one way! on Saturday!) which I will attend in between working on proofreading and editing the first draft of the book, which was recently sent to me by the publisher and due back with all edits (that's 100+ pages at last count) by Tuesday.

(In between driving to sporting events and editing book submissions,  I also work  at that little place called The Paying Job, so not sure how I will squeeze everything into an already frenetic schedule, but we don't worry about such things, what with all the scratching from the chigger bites and all.)

3b. In short, every spare minute of my life time has been spoken for this weekend.

3c. Regardless, Sunday I will spend some time reminiscing with Ann Marie, whose great- great- great- GrandSomeOne, Elzy Burroughs, built the New Point Light. Next weekend, she's moving away from Mathews on to a place called Greener Pastures, which is a spectacularly gorgeous beach community huddled near the Atlantic Ocean.

By the way, she can expect frequent visits from CBW who has absolutely no problem inviting herself to friends' houses, especially when those friends have houses near the beach.

4. Please click here to read my mother's experience with beauty pageants. She's a very gifted, very beautiful writer.

Now it's your turn to share three things. Feel free to share more things unless, of course, those things happen to be chiggers and/or mosquitoes.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scenes from Haven

Last week I was finally able to make it down to Haven Beach for the first time since Hurricane Irene. I am pleased to report the beach is still there; however, as with other storms, lines and boundaries have been redrawn ever so slightly.

The shot below is looking left as you walk from the parking lot.  When I was a kid, the beach on this side extended much further out, and if memory serves me there was at least one tree out there right on the beach.

By the way, memory very rarely serves me these days, but I think I'm right about this.  Except I don't think I mean "when I was a kid," I think I mean "only ten or fifteen minutes years ago." I am struggling with the concept of time and age (among many other things) at the moment.

In addition, when I say there was one tree out there, I realize there are a thousand pine trees bordering that beach, but there was a tree right on the beach.  And that beach hooked much farther out into the water.  Also, I'm tired so none of this makes any sense.  Let's get back to the blog post already faltering in progress.  

One very noticeable change is how much the beach has been shoved back.

Really?  "Shoved back"?  Well, yes, that seems to be the best way I can describe it right now, after a very long day.  The beach has been shoved back. Final answer.

Where the sand meets the marsh grass below there is a very noticeable, sudden drop. That sand was shoved blown back a couple of storms ago.  Each nor'easter or tropical storm or hurricane shoves pushes the sand farther and farther back.

I am pleased to report that the haunted swamp (below) remains relatively unchanged.

OK, so the woods, not the swamp, has the reputation of being haunted.  But surely the swamp is involved somehow, especially when boundaries are shifting with each and every storm.  

No ghosts were spotted this trip, sadly, although there were countless mutant/ninja dive-bombing horseflies, which were bigger than your average ghost and twice as frightening.

The End.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


These are from last Friday at Aarons Beach.

It was a cool, brisk, windy day and the sun was shining brightly.

In between running a million errands, I snuck down here to snap a few photos.

Snuck:  Past tense of "sneak" (or is "sneaked" the past tense?), meaning Chesapeake Bay Woman was looking for any excuse to dawdle take a break from her overly packed day and had to do so in secret. She's really not allowed any such diversions in her daily life even though she plays a diversion lover on the internet.

Although I tend to moan and groan complain about everything I'm juggling, at the same time I have to remind myself incessantly that it's all good.

Having to get up at o'dark thirty means I have a job to drive 50 miles each way to go to. Having sporting events to attend almost every night and some Saturdays means my kids have more of a social life than I could ever hope to have are healthy and active.

Next week my daughter--my baby girl--turns 13.  When I moved back to Mathews in the spring of 2001 after living in Northern Virginia/metropolitan DC for entirely too long! about 14 years, she was only 2.

All I did was blink a few times and now she's a teenager.

Anyway, these are the things that I think about when I sneak down to the beach in between running errands or delivering people to and from events.

Here, where I can look up at the sky or out at the water, life tends to slow down a bit, just for a moment; long enough for me to collect my thoughts and realize how quickly everything's passing by, just like those clouds.

Here today, gone tomorrow.

But beautiful nonetheless.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Last Friday was a beautiful, fall-like day here in Mathews.  A Thursday evening thunderstorm gave way to cool, crisp, sunny weather.

On Saturday, when Chesapeake Bay Son had to run in a cross country invitational meet which meant being outside all day long, it rained.

And rained.

And rained.

Yesterday it rained and rained and rained some more.

My mood as I write this mirrors the weather of the past two days:  foul, grumpy cold and cloudy.  All I want to do is sleep but there's no time for that today since is Monday which means I'm even more foul than usual back to work and the start of a very long, very busy week which includes two soccer games and two cross country meets (one of which is on Saturday--hopefully not in the rain).

To force myself to be a little more cheerful, I thought I'd post these pictures of bright yellow wildflowers which are growing all over the place now, particularly on the side of the roadways and along the edges of the soybean fields.

Here's hoping the week is as bright and cheerful as these flowers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Milford Haven Boats

Disregard the blurry white post at the bottom of this photo.Also, if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can disregard the look of bemusement on that man's face as he wonders about the crazy woman on the bridge pointing a camera at him.

These shots were brought to you courtesy of the only red light in Mathews:  the stoplight at the Gwynn's Island bridge.  

This light pretty much gave me all the permission I needed to put the car in park, pull out the camera and start snapping away.

I hope your day includes at least one red light (literal or figurative) that forces you to slow down, stop, and do something enjoyable. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three Things

Is this a heron or one of our mutant mosquitoes?
It's hard to tell the difference these days, the insects are so big.

Welcome to another Thursday, which is the day we are encouraged to share three things.

Let's go.

1. Yesterday was my parents' anniversary.    Click here to read my mother's blog post on the topic. They actually spent their anniversary attending Chesapeake Bay Daughter's first soccer game of the season. I couldn't be there because Chesapeake Bay Son had a cross country meet at exactly the same time. I can't thank them enough for being there for her.

2. The Mathews High School Cross Country teams (girls and boys) won against Middlesex yesterday on the campus of Rappahannock Community College. The mosquitoes were ferocious--I swear they had teeth-- and the evening was sweltering hot, but they did very well in spite of the adverse conditions.

3. The mosquitoes around here now are definitely a new breed. Fighting Mermaid may have hit the nail on the head in the Comments last night when she said this herd flock may have arrived from the Amazon courtesy of Hurricane Irene.  On Facebook recently, someone said these mosquitoes were so big they had bones. Another person said he saw a tick on one of them. These things are BIG.

Now it's your turn. Please share three or more things on whatever topic happens to come to mind. Anything to distract us from the scratching and itching of biting, mutant mosquitoes that are the size of herons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Poison Ivy

This isn't the same house referenced below, but the brush was just as bad as or worse than this.
Actually, this house is near Antioch, not terribly far from where the incident below occurred.

For several days now I’ve been in denial about the fact that I have poison ivy.

Does one actually have poison ivy or is it more appropriate to say that one has contracted  a rash due to poison ivy or is one simply allergic to poison ivy and is this as painful to read as it is to scratch write?

The fact of the matter is, up until now I could wallow in poison ivy and never feel any effects.  Chesapeake Bay Son?  If he so much as looks at it, or someone utters the words poison or ivy he’s broken out for weeks, in agony. It’s terrible.

(Around here we pronounce that last word TERR-rhymes with her-uh-bull.)

But I grew up here in the country, spent years, days and hours on end wandering around in all manner of weeds, tall grass and woods and never once was sensitive to it.

Well, OK, maybe once. 

Here recently after messing around with some clippers in an area that I know is rife with poison ivy, one small bump appeared on my ankle. I pointed, ridiculed and laughed at it, and away it went.  The End.

But last week something happened.  Something I was hoping to avoid telling.  Something I wasn’t exactly going to share with anyone, much less the internetz since it may or may not have involved me setting foot on property that is not public. Just for a minute.

I was jogging down my favorite jogging road, which for purposes of this story shall remain nameless even though I’ve named it millions of times before

Anyway, I got to thinking about this magnolia tree which stands in the middle of the woods close to the road.  I thought how oddly situated it is amid so many pine trees and then got to thinking how usually magnolia trees are planted purposefully in people’s yards (unlike pine trees which grow in my some people's gutters).

Perhaps this tree was marking the site of an old house.

So I slowed down from a jog to a walk and peered into the woods near the magnolia.  (Anything to take a break.)

Lo and behold, I saw an old house sitting way back off the road, hiding in a very dense thicket.

Knowing no cars would be along ever for some time, I hopped across the Grand Canyon cavernous ditch and scampered back into the woods. There was lots of waist-high brush everywhere (and I was wearing shorts) but I didn’t pay it any mind. I was dead set on two things: escaping the ferocious winged monkeys known as Mathews Mosquitoes that had suddenly descended out of nowhere now that I was in the woods; and getting a closer look at that house.

Well, the mosquitoes were so bad I couldn’t open my mouth without ten flying inside focus on the house, although the little bit I saw looked charming. After trudging several hundred miles yards through dense jungle brush, swatting at winged monkeys mosquitoes the whole time, I turned around and headed back to the safety of the road, already scratching at the damage done by those mutant insects.

By the way, today, when I asked how things were down Bavon, my high school classmate Johnny Pugh replied that the mosquitoes down that end of the county were "taking off and landin' like jet planes." Bavon is Mosquito Hell Heaven, but I think these woods I was in could give even Bavon a run for its money. Regardless what part of the county we’re talking about, we grow insects big—monstrously big-- here in Mathews.

Finally I made my way back to the main road and resumed my run, swatting at real or perceived mosquitoes or anything that made a buzzing sound inside around my head. I drove home and thought nothing more of the incident.

Several days later, I started itching.  Bad.  And then the rash appeared. 

I either have poison ivy or the beginnings of malaria, or possibly West Nile Virus.  Either/or, take your pick.

Rest assured it will be a cold day in hell Mosquito Heaven before I venture into those woods again.

The End.

This isn't poison ivy. But just pretend that it is. Also pretend there are mosquitoes the size of bald eagles descending so thick you can't even see this window. Then wonder if the rash you have is caused by poison ivy, which you've never had, or malaria, which you probably do have based on exposure to unusually large, unusually dense, mutant mosquitoes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Here are more sunrise photos from the same series I posted last Friday.

In case it isn't obvious, these are unedited, straight from the camera.

Now is as good a time as any to provide some background on my photography skills or lack thereof, as the case may be, and it can be summed up succinctly as follows:

I am self-taught; have no idea how to use my camera, never have; and know nothing about photo editing whatsoever.  The End.

I do not know anything about aperture, shutter speeds, lenses--nothing, other than they're terms I ought to be familiar with.  I simply make sure the camera (which is a Canon Power Shot S51S--or S515, I can't read the fine print)  is in Auto mode, point it and shoot.

A version of Photoshop came with a scanner I purchased when I was working on the book, however I've never installed it and don't even know where I'd find the time to actually edit photos even if it were installed, since I barely have time to download them from the camera and then upload them to the blog. Doing this with a dying laptop and/or antiquated desktop makes the time commitment even greater. Sprinkle on a huge handful of impatience, and there's no way I'm going to edit any photos.

Anyway, my point in all this is I'm really not even sure what the point is I often post pictures here that I know are technically incorrect or too dark or too full of glare or too orange, as that last one happens to be.  But that's the way it was in real life and I don't really feel compelled to change or alter it in any way, even if doing so might improve the overall appeal of the picture.

And now, Chesapeake Bay Woman is going to stop talking about photography because all this nonsense has given you her a headache.

Or maybe she just stared at that way-too-orange photograph way too long.

The End.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ware House

Soybean field leading down to public landing in Gloucester

These were taken a couple of weeks ago in neighboring Gloucester County at the end of Ware House Road.

There's a public landing there called Warehouse Landing.

If you happen to be wondering why the road name is two separate words and the landing is one merged name, you're in good company. Or rather, you're in my company.  And this question will haunt me throughout the day today.  Warehouse Landing at the end of Ware House Road on the Ware River. Was it a warehouse on the Ware River or a house on the Ware River or both? Although I'm not ever usually a stickler for details, this one is perplexing. 

Raise your hand if you're already confused, tired of hearing the words Ware and house, or just plain aggravated that it's Monday?  

(Chesapeake Bay Woman, put your hand down.) 

I've posted shots of this house and its outbuilding several times before, most recently in April before the tornado.

Click here to see how it's changed, albeit slightly, in just a few months.

Speaking of subtle changes, on a drive through Gloucester County yesterday, I noticed that the lush green which peaked in July and August has started to give way to a lackluster, dull, dry green. The cornfields have already turned a crispy brown and some have even been harvested.

Fall is just around the corner, and this depresses me just a bit.

A few questions for this Monday:

1. Who can tell me anything about Warehouse Landing in Gloucester?  (Dear Chesapeake Bay Mother, since you lived near this road as a youngster, I am hoping you can provide some much-needed facts and information.)

2. Which do you prefer, the stifling heat and humidity warmth and vibrant, green colors of summer or the ominous signs of winter cool, brisk days of fall?

3. After a week without an earthquake, tornado, water spout, hurricane, or other natural disaster, I am wondering if it's safe for me to put away the plywood that covered my windows or if I should just keep it on the back deck in anticipation of the next natural disaster. Thoughts? Opinions?

Have a great week.