Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bethel Beach. Plus a Confession

I don't really have anything to share today other than these photos which were taken a while back at Bethel Beach.  However it occurred to me in supplying this post with its not so clever title that no actual beach is shown here.

Folks from Mathews don't really require an explanation, but since most people who read this have never even been to Mathews, I'll explain that the road leading in to Bethel Beach is hugged on both sides by  mosquito breeding grounds acres and acres of marsh dotted with a few pine and cedar trees, some of which are living and some of which have long been dead.

January and February tend to be difficult months for me, for no particular reason other than there doesn't seem to be enough daylight, I don't really care for winter unless there's snow--and there's none--and overall I just tend to get a good case of The Blahs this time of year no matter what.

My recent foray into running has definitely helped matters. Some.

But I am going to share one other thing that has boosted my spirits a bit this January.  Only if you promise not to laugh.

OK, you can laugh, I don't care.

The past couple of Sundays, I have become completely enchanted with and mesmerized by a couple of shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), even though I don't usually watch a lot of TV.

The January Blahs forced me to do things I wouldn't ordinarily do like running, on the one hand, but completely collapsing in front of the TV, on the other.

The first Super Soul Sunday I watched featured this, which prompted me to get up off my behind and run five miles for the first time ever this month.  I can honestly say it was an inspiration for me to consider doing the 10K I hope to do at the end of March.

The other shows I love on OWN are Master Class and Oprah's Next Chapter.

There, I said it.

I've made my confession.

My dirty little secret.

 I seem to be hopelessly addicted to the OWN network.

I've fallen and I can't get up!

  p.s. Last Sunday Oprah interviewed the woman who wrote the book Eat Pray Love . Although they did not talk about the movie which featured my new favorite actor Javier Bardem, it was fascinating hearing the true story behind the book.

p.s.s.I guess I really did have something to share. Even if it was only a confession.

p.s.s.t. To read about my adoration for Javier Bardem Eat Pray Love the movie, click here or here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pear Tree Cemetery

The blooms in this tree almost make you forget it's winter.
But the calendar says it is even if the temperatures don't.

These pictures, from Pear Tree Cemetery down Onemo, were taken a few weeks back after I'd just completed my first ever four-mile run.  I parked my car at nearby Bethel Beach and ran two miles out and  back.

Although I ran a lot in high school which was thirty years ago but feels like yesterday, I was a sprinter not a distance runner.  No doubt over the course of an entire track practice I'd have covered four miles but never four miles at a clip without stopping.

Over the past couple of weeks I've increased my mileage to five on a course that begins and ends at Williams Wharf with a loop down Beaverlett.

Baby Sis and I are going to run a 10K at the end of March, and that's providing the motivation for me to continue running.  (I might also do a half-marathon with Lauren in the fall, but right now I am just taking baby steps.)

The other motivation has to do with wanting to stay on the right side of the Earth when it comes to visiting cemeteries and doing everything in my power to fight off all that comes with getting older. I want to be like that tree above.  Just because the calendar says it's winter doesn't mean you have to wither up and die turn gray.

Here's a link to a previous post on Pear Tree Cemetery with more pictures and less talk about getting old.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beach Scenes

All of today's shots are from Bethel Beach.

But they weren't all taken at the same time of year.

These first four were taken recently.

These last few were taken over the summer.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Things

Today is the day where we share three thoughts, three things that happen to be on our mind at the moment. Three is merely a suggestion, so please share more if you want.

I'll begin.

1. There are daffodils blooming on the hillside near Flat Iron in Gloucester. In January. Although it's always a pleasure to see daffodils in bloom, there's something not quite right about January blooms. In fact, January blooms should be an oxymoron, at least as it relates to daffodils around here.

2. There are two dodgeball tournaments around town this weekend: one at Mathews High School Friday night, and the other at Ware Academy on Saturday afternoon. Chesapeake Bay Son is playing in both of them. Chesapeake Bay Daughter is playing in one of them. Chesapeake Bay Woman is playing in one of them, but she's not saying which one because she hasn't played dodgeball since fourth grade and now there are all these rules and she's mortified that she has to participate and is only doing so because a friend asked and did she mention she really doesn't want to play and let's move on to another subject.

3.  Monday morning my car wouldn't start. After much ado, it finally turned over and was acting fine until that evening when it started to make a noise. Something underneath the car sounds like a female opera singer holding the same note for a really long time. A new car is not in my financial forecast for at least another several years, so this car must last a long time. Simultaneously, newly-licensed Chesapeake Bay Son is perusing Craig's List on a daily basis, reading aloud the bargains du jour, hoping to find a used car for his own purposes. One of those "bargains" included a Camaro. (Like he's gonna drive a Camaro before I do!) Not wishing to quash his dreams entirely, I gently informed him that the insurance, maintenance, gas, and personal property taxes would be more than a little out of our league for that vehicle, so let's focus on something a little more realistic. Like lottery tickets so we can both buy Camaros.

That's all I have.

Now it's your turn to share three things, whatever's on your mind. Anything at all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sea Gulls

Pardon these not so great shots of some seagulls down at Bethel Beach.  For starters, I'm not very good at action shots. Also, these birds were actually very far away, and the zoom on my camera doesn't usually produce very good photos even when the camera is working properly.

However, the camera isn't really working properly, and as a result I never know if a shot will be too dark (as a couple of these are) or full of glare (as several of these are).

It's basically anyone's guess how shots like these will turn out.  A more motivated, disciplined person would have sent the camera off for repair a long time ago.

I confess that not only am I completely unmotivated and utterly undisciplined, I am mortified of putting my camera in the mail because it's so important to me.

In the meantime I just pretend nothing's wrong and hope it will magically fix itself--just like everything else on my In Need of Repair list, which stretches from here to the Eastern Shore and back.

I'll worry about all that another day.

As for today, hope your day is a good one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Familiar Scene

This tree is a very familiar sight to anyone living in Mathews who has to travel to Gloucester and points beyond, and let's face it.

We Mathewsonians  all have to travel to Gloucester and points beyond at some point whether we want to or not.

Anyway this tree lives along Route 14 in Gloucester, in a field across the road from my fifth-grade English teacher's old farmhouse, which is now Holly Hill Antiques.

These photos were taken under duress so the quality is lacking, but trust me.
It's a beautiful tree.

I can't tell you how many times I've driven by this tree and wanted to pull over to snap some photos.  However this particular stretch of road is like the Autobahn, and pulling over on the shoulder to take pictures is not exactly the safest thing to do.

(In the interest of safety, I will refrain from telling you how these were actually taken, but rest assured it isn't something you're going to read about in any safe driving manual.)

Next to this tree is an old silo that ordinarily sports a sign for the pumpkin farm in Mathews, run by Fighting Mermaid and her family.

As a side note, I worked there back in high school when it was a strawberry farm, and I loved it! But tending to strawberry fields in the heat and humidity of Mathews County is very hard work. Shortly afterwards I decided working at an amusement park might be fun, so I went to work at Busch Gardens.  Which is a whole other story for a whole other day.

The orange pumpkin sign gives directions to the farm.

Alas, I've noticed the last couple of times I've driven by this silo that the pumpkin sign has fallen off. This made me think about who would be responsible for retrieving the sign and hanging it back up, and exactly how they'd go about doing so.  That hanging spot is pretty high off the ground.

I also wondered if they'd bring a camera with them.

What a great opportunity to take pictures without having to worry about getting run over...


(*waving* Hi, Fighting Mermaid! Let me know if you need any help retrieving this sign. I'll bring the camera!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Family Gathering

Saturday night the entire Chesapeake Bay Family and a few friends converged to celebrate my father's 71st birthday, which happens to be today.

The spirits were flowing spirit was festive, and the mood upbeat.

We enjoyed a leisurely dinner peppered with stories from my sisters' youth, punctuated with lots of laughter.

After a delicious meal, the Chesapeake Bay Children helped serve dessert, which was a chocolate fudge spoon cake with Oreo cookie ice cream. They drizzled the plates with chocolate syrup and added a strawberry for color.

There's a strawberry on there, but thanks to my camera's inability to do anything in low light, you'll have to take my word for it.

After the last bit of dessert was polished off and the dishes were cleared, I announced the next phase of the festivities for our 71-year-old parent: Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Yes. Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

I'd gone to the Dollar General earlier that day to pick up a few last minute things and saw the game hanging prominently in the party section.

I knew we must have this game.

Because how many chances do we have as adults to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey with a 71-year-old father? It's not like these opportunities come knockin' every day.

So I bought it and was very pleased with my purchase.  The look of horror on my teenagers' faces as I set up the game did not deter me one single bit.

Middle Sis, who did not follow the rules of the game, was number 14 there and technically hers was the closest to the tail. Notice all the other honest players who ended pinning the tail on the wall.

The rules were quite simple. NO CHEATING. THE END.

But some of us weren't able to follow those simple instructions. Instead of holding the blindfold against their eyes and using one hand to blindly pin the tail on the donkey, Some Sister People peeked. Also, you were not supposed to feel around. Once your hand landed on something, that's where the tail was supposed to be pinned. Again, Some People didn't follow that rule. They squinted, they felt around multiple times, and then they self-declared as the winner.

Not everyone cheated, however.

Some people hit the china cabinet instead of the donkey or even the wall near the donkey.

This is Baby Sister's attempt. She was playing Pin the Eyebrow on the Donkey.
But at least she didn't cheat! (Bravo, Baby Sis.)

Our neighbors, who probably could not believe they were invited to a party that entailed such a serious and competitive round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  

Happy Birthday, Chesapeake Bay Father!

I fully expect Middle Sister to remark about her Pin the Tail prowess and explain how she won fair and square. But as the moderator for the whole activity I have to say that I wholeheartedly disagree and must issue a challenge for a rematch.

For the official rules of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, a game usually played by five year olds (or Forty Somethings, Fifty Somethings, Sixty Somethings and Seventy Somethings if you're invited to a party of mine), click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

From My Back Yard

Looking up Queens Creek towards Cow Point

On the left two pine trees that the heron and eagle like to lounge in.

The remains of my locust tree (on the right, foreground), that was nearly done in by the last hurricane.

Pines and locust together in one shot.  Those overturned chairs are covering my firepit.  A recent wind storm blew them over.

Smither's Cemetery (right, behind that barely visible wall)


May your weekend be as peaceful as this recent sunrise on Queens Creek.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Three Things

I love this shed.  In spite of the few minor cosmetic issues, I love it.  

Thursday is upon us once again which means it's time to share three things. I'll go first.

1. These pictures are of the potting shed referenced in yesterday's post about my visit to Carol's house and our walk in the woods. As soon as I spotted this structure I dashed over, introduced myself, and began taking pictures. This shed has lots of personality, but the windows were my favorite part. (The last photo below was my favorite of all.)

2. Last night after racing home from a long day of work to retrieve CB Daughter from basketball practice, I spilled into the front door and dove head first into the dinner making process, do not pass Go, do not even change out of your work clothes or take a moment to collect your thoughts because teenagers must. Eat. NOW.

After CB Son and I exchanged a few pleasantries, he proceeded to inform me nonchalantly that there was a basketball game at the high school. Ordinarily this would cause me to grimace because it would require two more trips for me that evening: one to deliver him and one to retrieve him.

In this instance, however, I realized he could drive himself in my car, since he now has his license. And I still grimaced.

Sure, it's nice that he can drive legally now, but this opens up a whole new can of Worry--an extra large vat of it, in fact. Nevertheless, we went over the rules for easing me into this concept of him driving alone at night:

"Text me when you get there. Text me when you leave. But dontchoodare text while driving. Drive directly there and straight home. Do not pick up or drop off anyone else or venture elsewhere after the game. Night time driving is different. Even if you think you can see, animals dart out. Big ones. Other drivers may not be able to see at night even if they are perfect drivers in the day. Yes, I fully realize I sound like the stereotypical mother but I can't help it. Just yesterday you were in a bassinet and today I'm handing you my car keys. Cheeseandrice, where did the time go and how much longer before you all leave me in a corner of the arts and crafts room at Sanders Assisted Living?"

We really did discuss all of that and more, except for the cheese and rice part and the assisted living scenario, which occurred only in my head.

I am pleased to report that we both survived this major milestone. It was far easier for him than for me, a trend which no doubt will continue with each step he takes away from me towards adulthood.

Serenity now.

3. This Saturday night Baby Sis and Middle Sis will be in town to celebrate my father's 71st birthday. We're planning a big dinner for us and a few neighbors, but any time our family gathers it morphs into a dance party. All I can say is it's a good thing I've been running here lately, because I think I'm going to need lots of endurance.

4.  (Because three is only a suggestion...) Between the son officially driving and the upcoming weekend celebration, I'd like to state for the record that I really, truly, love my family dearly but at the same time really, truly dream of some day escaping if only for the rest of my life a week, to Bora Bora.

Now it's your turn to share three (or more) things. 

 Whatever you want. 

 Anything at all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Last week I received an email from Carol, a Mathews resident who lives below the Court House near where I sometimes go for a jog.

She asked if I'd be interested in taking some photos at her house, which backs up against a very dense woods.  Although she talked of the possibility of poison ivy; dangerous, half-fallen trees; sinkholes,  and muddy conditions, I gladly leapt at the opportunity and headed to her house on Friday.

Poison ivy?  No worries.  Half-fallen trees, hidden tripping hazards, and muddy conditions?  Bring it on! These are necessary ingredients for any misadventure adventure of mine.

Dense woods.

Carol hadn't been back in these woods for a couple of years due to the conditions (such as the aforementioned holes and half-fallen trees) but also because she has had knee problems.

My fearless enthusiasm for the woods combined with her need for a walking companion meant we were a well-matched team.

She and I set out on our adventure, she armed with pruners for the briars, and I with my camera.

By the way, this particular day was so cold my hands would have been numb if they were submerged in a flaming fire.  For the first time this winter I actually donned a hat (without claws) and a scarf in addition to my usual gloves and coat.

It was bitterfreezingcold.

Off into the woods we dashed.

About midway through was a clearing (of sorts) where sunlight sparkled on some brilliantly green moss.

Look!  Green!  

Excited at this discovery I quickly became distracted at what else there was to see and soon lost all track of Carol. She had told me that if I came to a very deep ditch, that was where her property line ended.  So off I trotted in search of this ditch.

So focused was I on my mission that I completely forgot about Carol, who was focused on pruning briars and inspecting trees and other plants she hadn't visited in a while.

All this is an excruciating long a long way of saying we became separated.

Way back in the woods.

On the coldest possible day of the year.

And she has bad knees.

And there are holes and tripping hazards and trees hanging precariously.


Around each tree there was another surprise.  Green moss; interesting tree stumps, drainage ditches, and lots of loblolly pines swaying in the occasional gusts of very strong wind, gusts capable of dislodging tree limbs and half-fallen trees onto unsuspecting passersby.

For example.

Sure, this ditch water looks calm, but way up in the canopy of these woods were wind gusts.  Trust me.
 The pine trees were creakin'.

As a side note to this story which does actually have a happy ending, Carol is doing some research into the history of the various drainage systems and ditches in our fair county, and when I told her about my favorite document, the Mathews County Soil Survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (circa 1962), she shocked me by informing me she already had a copy! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I've never met anyone who was familiar with the soil survey!

(It's a wealth of information.  Click here or here or here for previous posts relating to the Soil Survey. They may just make you laugh.  Or cry, depending on how tired you are of hearing about my favorite document.)

Anyway, there came a point in time where I realized I couldn't hear Carol behind me any more.  After I reached the end of her property, I turned around and went back, expecting to find her somewhere along the way.

Except I didn't find her anywhere along the way

Not only that, but I couldn't hear anything.  No crunching leaves, no snipping clippers, no nothing.


She must have gone back to the house, it's so daggone cold, I thought.

So back to the house I trotted, dodging briars and low-hanging limbs, hopping over fallen trees and leaping over mud holes.

The front door was slightly ajar.  I knocked on it, poked my head inside, and said Hello?

No answer.

So back into the woods I trotted, dodging briars and low-hanging limbs, hopping over fallen trees and leaping over mud holes--this time stopping every few steps to listen for footsteps which are so easy to hear when the crispy, dry leaves carpet the ground.


Back to the house I sprinted again (dodging, hopping and leaping my way out), this time wondering if maybe she was in some back room and didn't hear me the first time.

At the door I stepped in a little ways, stepped in some more, called her name,  realized (again) she wasn't in there, and dashed back into the woods, more than a little out of breath from all this dodging and leaping.

Sinkholes.  Mud.  Thick patches of briars.  Bad knees.  Hasn't been back here in a couple of years.  Oh no, I thought, she's fallen and it's my fault and she can't call for help because she's face first in quick sand or in so much pain she's writhing in agony barely able to move.  How could I have been so ridiculously unaware of her whereabouts?

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, she appeared.  Safe and sound.

Perfectly fine! Cool as a cucumber.

All that worry was for naught.  Thank goodness.

I didn't let on how worried I'd been.  No need. She was fine.  I was fine.  It was all good.  I did casually mention that our trek in the woods most definitely counted as vigorous exercise.  Oh yes indeed it did.

She then took me around and showed me some of the beautiful plants on her property that she believes were planted by one of three sisters who originally owned the house.  She told me that the shed (above) in these woods was likely used as a potting shed.

In the coming days I'll share more photos of this wonderful shed, which was one of my favorite parts of the journey.

In the mean time thanks so much to Carol for inviting me over and sharing her stories, her artwork, and her beautiful woods with me. I look forward to returning in the spring for pictures of all her flowering shrubs--as well as her artwork, which I thought was magnificent.


Note:  Carol's husband, who passed away several years back, was a California artist whose work may soon be shown at Gloucester Arts on Main. She was telling me stories about him and his work, when I asked about a stack of canvases over in a corner of her living room.  They were paintings she herself had done, and they're also worthy of showing, in my opinion. Unfortunately, due to the cold weather which pretty well numbed any functioning brain cells, I did not even think to take pictures of her artwork.  Next time.  Thanks, Carol!