Friday, December 24, 2010

Is That a Redneck Diving Board?

Sometime between the beginning of August and the Labor Day Weekend, we had a board go missing on our pier.  I vaguely remember noticing a board that seemed loose and thought I should go get a hammer to hammer in the nails that had popped up.  But somewhere between the pier and the shed I was distracted, more than likely by a squirrel, and never fixed the board. (yes I realize that this paragraph exhibits some of the most horrendous sentence structure know to the free world.  I don't care)

But one obviously missing board is no problem, right?

I've had this recurring dream my whole life about walking on a pier when the boards start falling off and the pier starts getting taller and taller and taller and I'm trying to navigate large 5 board gaps.  I'm always small- as in my 5 year old self, not as in thin and wiry model small- and I'm always struggling to leap the great divides.  You can go ahead and try to shrink me, but I already know it all means I'm crazy  I'm a lunatic not all my puppies are barking I need more wine.

Anyway, if my 5 year old self can manage a 5 board gap (even in my dreams) certainly my 35 year old self can manage a 1 board gap.  Riiiight. 

As luck would have it, our neighbor came over to chat while I had Bailey out on the pier for a swim.  Mistaking our friendly neighbor for an evil mustachioed killer, Bailey went racing towards the house, fur standing on end and barking her most vicious sounding bark (which is actually pretty intimidating).  Bailey is very well trained.  I have trained her to NOT listen to me and NOT come when she is called so I have to run my fat behind all over the neighborhood trying to catch her.  She's my personal trainer. 

So I'm walking briskly down the pier calling Bailey's name sharply in between cajoling her with a large stick.  I'm looking up towards the house as I step directly into empty space and fall in the gap.  First, I was pleased I fit in the gap.   Obviously my personal trainer is doing her job.  Then I felt the pain as my nerve endings caught up.  Excruciating is an understatement. 
I managed to heave myself up onto the pier and hobble up the bank to the house where I quickly grabbed copious amounts of ice.  Ice makes everything better according to the Brat Child.  If he has a hang nail, he needs ice.  Of course at my house, ice is actually the bag of peas no one eats.  It's very confusing to the Brat Child when I cook frozen veggies.  In fact, he's been know to cry about me cooking his ice.  But I'm off on another tangent- look squirrel!
I assessed the damage to my legs.  I had a large 8"x10" bruise on my thigh and a very nasty bruise and cut on my shin.  At one point there was concern that I might have fractured something.  (I actually had photos of the injuries, but honestly, I hadn't shaved my legs in a few weeks days and didn't want anyone losing their lunch).  I turned out OK though it did take several weeks for the bruising to subside.
Immediately following my fall, the men folk went about looking for something to fix the pier.  The first board was too wide and sat up about an inch too high.  I pointed out the probability of someone (me) stubbing their toe.  Finally they found a board that fit in the opening but it was too long.
We could cut it, but I think I like it the way it is.  I was thinking it might be fun to see what happens if you use it like a catapult. 
 Or a diving board.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


 There's nothing more mesmerizing than sitting by a fire on a cool evening and watching the flames.  I have always been a fan of fires.  I remember being about 7 or 8 and wanting to start a campfire in the secret spot my cousin and I had behind our Great Grandmother's arborvitae shrubs.  We asked the adults for some matches.  Obviously, we didn't get any.  We did, however, receive a magnifying glass and with it the promise that if we managed to start a fire with it, we could have a campfire.  Silly grown ups.  I think it took us about 10 minutes to get it going good enough to move it under the shrubs.  And thus, a young pyromaniac was born.  Luckily, with my dad serving as a fire fighter for Baltimore County, I also had a solid respect for fire and what it could do.  I listened to my dad's stories about houses that burned down, and I decided I needed to pack my most prized possessions up so I could grab them and get them out of the house in the event of a fire.  So I used brown paper bags (paper being such an excellent fire retarder and all).  It took 5 bags to hold all my stuff.  When it became a pain to repack the bags each time I wanted to play with something, I gave up on the idea.

Deltaville has always been an excellent place for a campfire or bonfire.  Once Pepop opted to use gasoline to get a large brush pile going.  I think there was some singeing of eyebrows, and I was certain Smokey the Bear was going to show up and tell him he should know better and only he could prevent forest fires (I was secretly hoping Smokey would show up because I was in love with Smokey the Bear, and Chewbacca... it's a hairy guy thing, you wouldn't understand).

Nowadays, we have smaller burn piles that are comfortable enough to sit around sipping wine or listening to music or listening to the sounds of nature.  And I can spend hours staring into a fire and watching it lick the wood.

 And usually attended by a professional:

Sometimes, we even go to a friend's house spur of the moment to drink wine by their fire pit and eat farshmellows and chockit.
Makes for a goom time. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful- The Rainbow Connection

During my trip to California this past weekend, I spent a little time in the town of Monterey. If you've never been, I highly recommend it as I would live there happily if it were located on the East Coast.  While there, I visited the Point Pinos Lighthouse.
The weather was gorgeous, which was somewhat of a surprise because rain had been forecasted.  I had not anticipated spending a sunny day in Monterey.  As my friend and I exited the lighthouse, there was a fine mist in the air though the sun still shone as brightly as it did when we entered.  When we turned the corner, there was a huge rainbow that spanned the area between the ocean and land.
I can't think of any descriptions other than stunning and spectacular and perhaps even magical.

You know me and my symbols and signs. 
  Most people see rainbows as symbols of peace, harmony and hope.
What could be a more positive symbol than a rainbow?
Rainbows make me smile. 
They make me remember that I was once young and carefree enough to go running through my neighborhood looking for the end and the pot of gold. 
They make me think that perhaps the trials and tribulations of life will be worth it in the end.

This is a photo of Pepop, myself, and my cousin Ty in the old john boat we christened The Rainbow Connection.
Yeah, we were huge Muppet fans, but perhaps there was some childish wisdom in the name.
Perhaps we knew one day we would find it.
I think I have.
And so, I leave you with my good friend Kermit to sing a song I love and listen to on a regular basis (and yes, I listen only to the Kermit the Frog version)


Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic...
... Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
... Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be...
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
Laa, da daa dee da daa daa,
La laa la la laa dee daa doo...

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Periwinkles or snails, whatever you want to call them, are all over the place in Delatville.  I prefer calling them snails since Periwinkle makes me think of Tinkerbell and there's nothing fairy-like about a snail.  And periwinkle also conjours that odd color of blue in the Crayola box. 

Anyway, is seems snails are a natural kid attractor.  If you want to catch a kid, throw some snails in a pile under a box rigged with a stick and string.  Wait for the kid to go in to pluck up the snails, pull the string and voila!  You've caught a kid. I don't know why you'd want to catch a kid especially since 90% of the time I'm willing to sell the Brat Child, but if you did that's how I would do it.  For a kid, a snail is the perfect kind of marine animal to mess with.  It's small, it doesn't bite, it doesn't run away and it moves in a slimy trail of snail poop (OK for the science teacher who might read this I know it's not poop it's mucus) what more could a kid ask for in a wild pet?

I know my cousin and I spent many summers "catching" snails.  We'd lay on the pier and lean over to pluck the snails from the sea grass, like picking berries, and plop them into our buckets.  One summer we had the bright idea of bringing our snails into the trailer.  We asked Grandmother who probably said something about not letting them loose.  Seriously? Like they're going to leap from the bucket and race through the house.  So when Grandmother went outside, Kelly and I began building our snail habitat- in the kitchen sink.  There were shells, pieces of wood, sand and water.  Happy with our habitat, we dumped the bucket 'o snails into the sink and went off on another adventure.  When we returned, it was to a very unhappy Grandmother.  Not only was she not happy with the habitat in her sink, but apparently our snails were not smart enough to know they had to stay in the sink.  We had snail trails all over the kitchen.  About 15 years later when we were cleaning out the trailer to prepare for building the new house, I found a snail shell in one of the pots in the back of the cabinet.  I'm pretty sure I know where it came from.

And it seems that an interest in snails is mildly genetic.

Meet The Brat Child. 

He is a snail serial killer. 
Go to the snail mail post office and you will see his photo there under the snail's most wanted. 
In fact, in this photo he is holding what is apparently a baby snail. 

Yes, the Brat Child loves catching snails.  He refers to it as snail hunting.  This was my conversation with him about hunting snails:

Me: So how do you hunt snails?
BC: You jus gwab dem and put dem in the bucket.
Me' So it's not like deer hunting?
BC: Umm, no, you don't need no gun.
Me: So you don't have to shoot them?
BC: No, you jus gwab dem.
Me: Why do you catch snails?
BC: Ummm a-uz you gwab dem and put dem in da bucket and den take dem home.
Me: Don't they die if you take them home?
BC: No.
Me: So how come they don't come out of their shells when you bring them home?
BC: Well, sometimes dey are sweeping a wong, wong time.  And sometimes, actually, they aren't sweeping but their heads will come out of da shells but onny if you don't wook at dem.  If you wook at dem they don't come out, soooo, dey not dead dey jus don't want you wooking at dem or dey sweeping.

 I have found 3 not dead snails in my van.  I was apparently wooking at dem.

And to keep with the theme of symbolism in whatever.... here's a snippet about snail totems, "Snails also teach us to protect the inner child.  Snail people often present a hard shell to the world when they really have a tender heart and strong feelings. Watch for Snail and learn who and when to trust."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fiddler Crabs

Fiddler crabs are interesting.  I've always enjoyed watching the ones that live next to the rip rap in the marsh.  sitting around in the mud until someone or something draws near then scuttling into their holes.  The name fiddler crab was given because of the movement of the claws on the male crabs- looks like they are playing a fiddle.  Fiddler crabs are detritivores or animals that eat detritus or decaying matter (fungus, algae, etc). 
This Fiddler Crab was found in the ditch outside of the Seabreeze Restaurant on Gwynn's Island. 
I'm certain it's a carnivore and is fed small children. 
You need to really watch out for those Mathews bred fiddler crabs!

I'm pretty sure this movie was filmed on location in Mathews County, VA

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living Driftwood

I love taking photos of this tree at Aaron's Beach.  Every time I see it I think of it as living driftwood.  I imagine one day I will show up at the beach and find it gone- washed out to sea or thrown haphazardly on the shore line. 

I can't say exactly what draws me to it.  Aesthetically the bark is amazing: smooth and graying and twisting.

I think honestly, it appeals to me because I see myself in this tree.  I am this tree.  Standing stoic heedless of the blazing sun, the pounding surf, the impending storm.  Maybe standing a little defiantly because of the impending storm. And perhaps a little weary of facing storms too. 

But despite all the storms its faced, it still stands tall.  And its more beautiful and richer for having faced the storms it has.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Relaxation Station

Is there anything quite so Mahvelous as lazing around in a hammock?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


 I seem to be on a "symbolism kick" so I might as well mention some interesting things about butterflies:

* Native American legend says that if you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it.  Release the butterfly and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies.  By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature and your wish will surely be granted.

* Butterflies symbolize transformation making them an ideal image for anyone contemplating or in the midst of a major change.

* The Chinese believe that a jade butterfly suggests a wedding of souls.  Many grooms choose this as a gift for their bride.

* In the Greek language, Psyche is both the word for butterfly and soul.

* Many religions use the butterfly as a symbol of the soul including Christianity.

* Butterflies are thought by some to be human souls searching for a new reincarnation.

My family seems to have a special butterfly "bond".  By that I mean there have been some rather interesting encounters with butterflies that made me look up the symbolism.

It started when my uncle passed away suddenly several years ago.  While my cousin and aunt were walking in the yard after the funeral, a butterfly started flying around them.  It passed by my cousin so closely that she felt the wing brush her cheek.  Curious, they followed the butterfly around the yard.  At the time, my aunt had rented a large dumpster to use in order to clean out some things from the basement.  There had been some family members helping with the clean up, and someone inadvertently threw away a band my uncle had made to help my aunt use the grinding stone.  It was one of the last things he had done when he was home and losing it upset my aunt quite a bit.  Anyway, this butterfly flew over to the dumpster, landed on a box, walked around the lid of the box in a circle three times then flew away.  The next day, my cousin decided to root around in the dumpster to see what had been thrown away.  While in the dumpster, she remembered the box the butterfly had landed on and decided to see what was in it.  When she picked up the box, laying underneath was the band from the grinding stone.

 About a year after my uncle's death, my cousin, aunt and I went to Deltaville for a long weekend stay.  We took our little john boat out on the creek enjoying being able to speed along like we did as kids.  My uncle used to indulge us quite a bit with that old john boat between jumping waves to taking long treks into the river to watch menhaden boats and even a few trips out to the Bay.  While we were speeding along, quite a distance from any shoreline, a tiger swallowtail butterfly appeared out of nowhere and was keeping up with the boat.  My aunt held out her hand and surprisingly the butterfly landed on her palm and rested before flying off and disappearing.  Later I came across a fact sheet on Tiger Swallowtails that stated it was rare for them to be found so far from land. 

It was following this last encounter that I became curious and looked up some information on butterflies.  I learned they are the oldest symbol of the soul.  Nice thought.  Even nicer that I came across this weed growing next to the path at Aaron's Beach and saw all the butterflies feeding on the nectar.

I endured numerous bug bites standing as still as I could and leaning in to get the closest photo possible.  I couldn't help but think of my Grandmother and wonder if perhaps any of these Buckeye butterflies were friends of hers.  Today I went to my grandmother's house in order to go through her things and divide items amongst the family.  I came across some butterfly prints she had.  I was somewhat startled to see that the butterfly depicted in the prints were Buckeyes like the ones in these photos.  Buckeyes are typically not the subject of paintings.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

~Irish Blessing

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Swan

While enjoying a lazy relaxing day at Aaron's Beach, I noticed an odd bird swimming just off the shore.  At first I thought the bird was a goose, but the neck seemed off- too long.  Using the zoom on my camera I was able to get some shots and I was surprised to see that the bird was actually a mute swan.  I was intrigued.  The last animal I expected to come across was a swan.  So I followed it's journey parallel to the shoreline trying to get better photos.  Eventually, the swan disappeared as quietly as it had appeared and I went back to relaxing on the beach. 

Some time later I began to wonder about the swan.  I am someone who believes in signs.  While I don't go looking for signs in every rainbow and 4 leaf clover, I do recognize when something happens that might be out of the ordinary.  I felt that a lone swan appearing at the beach in front of me was certainly a sign I should look into.

Swans mate for life and because of this they are typically seen as a symbol of love and fidelity.  Literature and Mythology is littered with stories about swans.  The Ugly Duckling, Swan Lake, Children of Lir, Cear Ibermeith and The Wild Swans to name but a few.  Many stories deal with women being transformed into swans and requiring a hero to fall in love with them in order to save them from whatever enchantment had been placed on them (I am, of course, paraphrasing).  In Celtic mythology, swans are associated with music, love, purity and the soul.

What I was most interested in was finding out the meaning of a swan as a totem animal.  So I'm sure some are wondering what exactly a totem animal is. Totems can be symbols for an individual's personal or spiritual identity.  Most people have more than one totem animal that teaches, guides and sometimes protects them.  Most totems remain with you throughout your life, though, a major life change could cause your totems to change in order to adapt to new circumstances.  Sometimes people also have special helpers/protectors that show up for a limited amount of time in order to help you through challenges you must face (Check out Discover Your Animal Totems to find out what totems you may have). 

So, I looked up swans and this is what I found:   Swan as a totem represents grace, strength, and longevity. A swan showing up can indicate the one you are with, or someone you are soon to meet, is a soul-mate. The swan teaches that there is beauty in all things. As an archetype, the swan begins life as an "ugly ducking" and yet emerges into a beauty when full grown. This children's story is a tale of soul-growth and also teaches inner beauty. The swan's message may very well be that things are not as they appear outwardly. Look beyond the obvious.  The Swan is one of the most powerful and ancient of totems.  As you begin to realize your own true beauty, you unfold the ability to bridge new realms and new powers.  Swan can show you how to access the inner beauty within yourself and in others.  A Swan totem heralds a time of altered states of awareness and the development of intuitive abilities.  Swan people have the ability to see the future, and to accept the healing and transformation that is beginning in their lives.  Accept your ability and go with the flow.  Stop denying you know who is calling when the phone rings.  Pay attention to your hunches and inner knowledge, and Swan medicine will work through you.  The Swan's call teaches the mysteries of song and poetry, for these touch the child and the beauty within. (borrowed from and ).

Unfortunately I can't really elaborate on how any of this might relate to me personally, but it does fit.  Fits enough that I'm sure the swan is one of my totems.

Do you have a totem animal? 
 Ever had a weird animal encounter you thought might have some sort of meaning?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Road Not Taken- a Lesson in Fate

A close friend of mine asked the question, "Do you believe in Fate, why or why not?"  The answer I came up with was that we are given options but we ultimately make the choice of which path to take.  Maybe you miss out on a choice you should have picked, but inevitably you always seem to come back around to it again in the end.  I believe this wholeheartedly.  And while you might not have chosen a path that is the easiest or most direct route to what is "meant to be" eventually the path you did choose will bring you around to the choice again.  I believe that if something is meant to be then it will be placed in front of you again and again until you figure it out.  It reminded me of one of my favorite poems....

            The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
        ~Robert Frost

Are there paths you wished you had taken?  Have you crossed paths with the same choices more than once? Do you believe in Fate?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Best Weekend Ever

This weekend I managed to make it down to Deltaville.  While I love going to Deltaville, sometimes I'm ready to head home and have a vacation from my vacations.  This trip was different.  This trip was the most relaxing trip I've had in several years.  There was no real agenda, no set schedule.  Just time to do whatever and whenever we wanted.  Most of our time was spent exploring some beaches in Mathews County.

And of course there were a few Chocit Shakes. 

 Some had cweam some did not.

There was also mass quantities of wine.  In a Flounder wine glass.
How many people do you know with a Flounder wine glass? 
 That's right, exactly one. 

And there was also fire and goom friends. 
And Farshmellows.  And Chocit.

For those goom friends who got to meet Ethan and my mom
Ethan said: "Mom I like you people"
My mom said (after 2 more glasses of wine): I like you people too.  You have goom people.