Friday, December 7, 2012

Gearing up for Christmas

I posted this same video last year during the Yuletide season.  
It is a taste of what a Deltaville resident sets up in his yard each year.  
The video shows about 36,000 of the 77,000 lights he set up last year.  
This year he's reported to have 80,000 lights.

Check out his website Deltaville Lights for more information.  
The lights are on now until January 4, 2013 5:00pm- 11:00pm Sunday- Thursday 
and 5:00pm- midnight Friday and Saturday and Christmas Eve, Christmas Night and New Year's Eve.
 The display is located on Rt 33 in Deltaville so go check it out!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wild Turkey Part Deux

In lieu of the impending holiday whereupon we gorge ourselves on turkey and stuffing, here is a repost of my most viewed blog post:

Progression of a Conversation: Wild Turkey

While driving down our private lane...

Dad: Hey there's some wild turkeys over there!

Mom: There's some Wild Turkeys in the car I think.

Me: We have Wild Turkey??

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


After posting the blog entry about the clown house, my cousin reminded me of something I had long ago forgotten.  It was the scandal involving a bedroom in said house. The people in town spent quite a bit of time whispering and gossiping over the fact that one of the bedrooms was painted Passionate Pink.  Couple this with the intense parties that typically resulted in a bacchanalian skinny dipping fest and you have enough gossip to fuel a small town for months.

That wasn't the only local scandal.  One afternoon around lunch we noticed that the Sheriff was at Miss Mary Jane's house.  At first we (and by we I mean mostly the adults not really the kids) wondered what could be going on.  It couldn't be a true emergency because he hadn't shown up with lights or sirens.  Perhaps she had gotten in trouble.  Imagine the surprise when the Sheriff seemed to be showing up every day at lunch time.  I can distinctly remember my grandmother peeking out the window and saying, "He's back gain Pat" to my aunt.  It was something so gossip worthy that my grandmother talked about it for decades.

So a word to the wise- if you want to be good friends with someone every day at lunch, you might not want to travel there in the Sheriff's car.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Meditation

O, wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

~Percy Bysshe Shelley

"When the trees their summer splendor
Change to raiment red and gold,
When the summer moon turns mellow,
And the nights are getting cold;
When the squirrels hide their acorns,
And the woodchucks disappear;
Then we know that it is autumn,
Loveliest season of the year."

-   Carol L. Riser,

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. 
The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, 
no matter how hushed,
are as crisp as autumn air."

-   Eric Sloane

Sunday, November 11, 2012


  Thank you to all those who have served and are serving our country.
Postcard from Oregon to his mother

James Jackson Pilot USS Tulip Union Gunboat Civil War

Uncle Oregon WWI

Albert Jackson, my grandfather WWII


Possibly Pepop WWII

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Clown House

This house across the creek has always been known as a party house.  When I was a kid, I used to sneak down to the pier to witness the wild goings-on.  The parties always involved a lot of alcoholic beverages and that typically led to late night skinny dipping. And while it was usually too dark to really see anything, it was always a laugh when the drunken adults went skinny dipping in sea nettle infested water.  Because jellyfish stings are bad enough when they brush an arm or leg.  Can you imagine what it feels like wrapped around an intimate body part?  I've never seen anyone try to climb in a boat faster.

Of course these parties sometimes started in the afternoon, and they were always loud.  I remember one afternoon, my cousins and I thought it would be fun to shoot off our cap guns while we hid behind the trash cans on Pepop's pier.  We'd shoot off two or three caps then sit and listen.  The partiers turned down their music and said things like, "Did you hear that?" "Is someone shooting?" and then they'd turn the music up and start the party again.  A few minutes later we'd shoot off the cap gun again.  This went on until we got bored with it.  

There was one time that the party was going on in the early evening and there was a lot of foul language going on.  Sound travels pretty well on water and it was not hard to understand fully what was being said.  On that day, Pepop was fed up.  He grabbed his shotgun, marched to the pier, shot into the air and hollered over to the party.
Pepop: Keep it down over there and watch your G- Damn mouth!
Home Owner: Sorry Mr. Jackson!
Pepop: I don't have a problem with having a good time but the G- Damn language has got to stop.  I have my grandkids here and I don't want them listening to that shit!
Home Owner: Sorry Mr. Jackson, we'll watch what we say, Sir.
Pepop: See that you do because I don't want to here anymore of that G- Damned language!

I don't know that he even realized his bad language (but to be fair, he never uttered the F- word).
At some point one of the owners added the clown head speaker to the roof.  The parties eventually subsided, but the clown head is still there (and was actually repainted after the tornado).
While the parties are over, I still have the memories of the screams of the men and women when their naked bodies hit those swarms of jellyfish.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Meditation

Our pier- Sunday Morning
“Bursts as a wave that from the clouds impends, And swell'd with tempests on the ship descends; White are the decks with foam; the winds aloud Howl o'er the masts, and sing through every shroud: Pale, trembling, tir'd, the sailors freeze with fears; And instant death on every wave appears.” 
~ Homer

Neighbor's Pier- Sunday Morning
"So the storm passed and every one was happy."
- Kate Chopin, "The Storm"
Boat Ramp and pier- Sunday Morning
"Who hath desired the Sea?the sight of salt water unbounded The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded? The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed Hurricane
~Rudyard Kipling  

Stay safe out there!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hurricane's A'comin'!

There's a big storm rolling up the Atlantic and it's projected to turn inland somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast.  As of today, forecasters are saying there's a 90% chance that areas of the East Coast will be subjected to gale force winds, flooding, heavy rain and possibly snow as Hurricane Sandy collides with a winter storm thus creating what they're dubbing the "Frankenstorm".  So, because of the potentially really bad, really crazy weather, here are some preparedness ideas- just in case.
  • Have a list of contact information (hospital, law enforcement, local utilities, etc)
  • Water- make sure you have 1 gallon of water per person per day for 3 days
  • If you have a well and lose power you will lose water- fill available containers with water (including the tub) to use for drinking and flushing the toilet
  • 3 day supply of non-perishable food
  • Hand crank or battery operated radio with extra batteries 
  • Flashlights- one for each person in the household
  • Batteries- for flashlights, radios, etc
  • Matches/lighters
  • First Aid kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Charge cell phones 
  • Fill your car's gas tank and try to park it facing out and away from trees if possible
  • Fill your grill's propane tanks- if you have an electric stove, you won't be able to cook food
  • Fill jugs with water and place in your freezer to fill up any empty space- a full freezer holds temperature better than an almost empty one
  • Clean out your fridge of any left over food
  • Set freezer and fridge to the coolest setting
  • Gather coolers together and place in coolest place in house (like a basement) if it looks like the power is going to go out, place perishables like milk, lunch meat, condiments, etc in the cooler with jugs of ice and cover cooler with blankets or quilts. This limits the amount of times you have to open the fridge door.
  • Make sure you have extra blankets, jackets, hats in the event the temperatures drop (they're supposed to with this storm- keep warm!)
  • If you use a generator- PLEASE DO NOT use it inside the house and do not sit it outside next to an open window/door.  Generators create carbon monoxide which is colorless and odorless and people have been known to get sick and die from improper generator usage!
  • Secure any loose objects in your yard: tables, chairs, toys, grills
  • Clear out any clogged gutters and rain spouts
  • Have board games or cards on hand
  • Stay out of flood waters! 
  • Watch for tornadoes! 
  • Don't forget to prepare your pets/livestock too! Check out some tips here
Stay safe! 

Friday, October 12, 2012


  Life sometimes has a way of being difficult 
to the point of wanting to runaway and escape.  
While Bore Bora is where I'd really like to disappear to,
I'd happily settle for the Tidewater of Virginia.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Bike?

The only modes of transportation we had as children were walking or riding a bike. It was a good vacation if your dad managed to find room to take your bike with you.  It meant you would be racing around The Point on two wheels rather than hoofing it.  It meant you could make it into town in a few minutes instead of 30+ which meant trips to the Stop & Shop for fireworks.

Fast forward to July of 2012.  Big E and I are preparing for a weekend camping trip, and he's excited about a surprise he has for me.  I'm excited too. I love surprises. So I walk around to the back of his truck, and he shows me the bike he's purchased for me.  And my first thought is "A Bike?" Not because I have anything at all against bikes.  I spent much of my youth on a bike flying down Stafford Drive with no hands, cruising through town and doing bunny hops over in the Votech parking lot (all of which were done without a helmet). But the operative word here is youth. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm an adult and a parent who is well versed in every possible worst case scenario that could befall someone in any given situation.  And I haven't been on a bike in at least 20 years. Did I really want to be the one testing to see if bike riding was really "just like riding a bike"?

While I wasn't able to test any theories about bike riding on that particular trip (we hiked 10+ miles, my legs were shot), we did bring the bikes along on the second camping trip.  And this time, I wasn't given an opportunity to not ride.  Big E arranged for our friends to drive the kids over to the lake while we rode our bikes. Here I was, not sure I was in good enough physical condition to ride a bike, not sure I had the balance to ride a bike and not having any recent experience with riding a bike now throwing my leg over a bike and hitting the trail.

Riding a bike is, in fact, "just like riding a bike". Your muscles and brain remember what to do and eventually you stop riding your brakes like a 98 year old driver in a Buick and you let yourself fly down the hills.  I loved it.

So I took my bike to Deltaville for the week on the off chance I'd be able to ride it.  One afternoon I snuck out and rode around The Point.  I rode down the lane towards town and on the way back to the house, I rode down the sandy lane that my cousins and I referred to as "The Shortcut".  I was 10 again. I was a centaur on wheels.

I love, love, love this guy.

He knew what I wanted when I didn't even know I wanted it. And in giving me a bike, he gave me the ability to relive happy moments of my childhood. Rest assured, that bike is going with me on each of my treks to Deltaville.  Photography from bike seat is probably easier than photography from moving car.

Oh the adventures I'm going to relive!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


A while back I posted about a place my son dubbed "Shark Tooth Island".  It's an area along the Rappahannock River where people said you could find shark teeth.  Always up for an adventure, we went to check it out.  We were surprised to find that within the sandy cliff walls of the beach were hundreds of scallop shells.  One particular area of the beach had them tumbling out of the walls, onto the beach and even layering the water. 

Chesapecten Jeffersonius VA state fossil
Scallop shells and barnacles were everywhere and we filled our buckets with the Pliocene treasures- treasures that could be 5.3-2.6 million years old. 
Imagine, these scallops lived during the time of the Wooly Mammoth, the Saber Tooth Tiger and the Megalodon Shark.

I am anxious to go back and spend a day rooting around there.  Wouldn't it be grand to find a Megalodon tooth?!

Read about the shark teeth we did find here

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Snake Oil


 According to the website, it can be used to treat 
insect bites, scrapes, minor burns and sunburn.  
All of these maladies were experienced during my childhood in Deltaville.  
Sometimes all at the same time.  
My grandmother swore by Campho-Phenique.
Itchy Bug Bite? Use Campho-Phenique.
Burnt yourself playing with fireworks? Use Campho-Phenique.
Scraped/cut yourself on the rusty old lawn mower you were sitting on 
while your cousins pushed you around the yard at high speeds?
Use Campho-Phenique.

I should point out that Campho-Phenique has a very unique, very strong odor.

Apparently, the odor becomes more pungent (if that's possible)
the longer it steeps in the medicine cabinet.
These photos are of the actual bottle we have in the bathroom.
The label indicates it expired in 1989 making this the very same bottle I used as a kid.
Campho-Phenique bottle expired in 1989 and Vicks switched to plastic in 1990
You can read about my grandmother's cure for sore throats (and loud obnoxious children) here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

VA State Bird

anopheles quadrimaculatus
The state bird of Virginia is the mosquito.  
Please note the shadow being cast by this particular bird bug on the bathroom wall. 
 I learned that this species of mosquito is known as a vector for human malaria. 
Luckily, malaria was eradicated from the US back in the 1950's.  
Unfortunately, it wasn't because they got rid of the birds bugs that transmit the disease.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Meditation

After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.
~ Walt Whitman

Sunset over the Piankatank River as seen from the Piankatank River Bridge


Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Meditation

"There is nothing--absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1

"A man of wisdom delights in water."

 "Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not."
~James Taylor 

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
~Loren Eiseley

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Netting a Shark

As a child, one of the greatest adventures while in Deltaville was bringing in the gill net.  As an adult I'm flabbergasted shocked mildly surprised that I though such hard work was actually enjoyable.  But when you're a kid, the prospect of catching something good got you going at 4:00 A.M. We'd stumble out of bed, pull on clothes and make our way bleary-eyed to Pepop's dock to climb aboard his green boat Pigpen.
While sticking our heads over the side of the boat and letting the waves soak our heads was great fun, the real thing that brought us out at the butt crack of dawn was the prospect of finding something spectacular in the gill net- namely- a shark.  

We always had hopes that we'd pull the net in and find ourselves face to face with Jaws.

Unfortunately, all we managed to find were small dogfish and some sandbar sharks.

While I've heard shark is "good eatin'", I'm not a fan of eating fish.  
Also, sharks seem to be in a different category than your everyday run of the mill spot or croaker.  
So we chopped them up and used them as crab bait.  
It isn't easy trying to crab with a hefty piece of shark meat on the end of the line.

Sharks at Haven Beach

This old fisherman caught a juvenile sand shark one evening as we were enjoying the beach (I have no clue why I didn't pull out my camera to take a photo of it).  He let the Brat Child touch its skin and told us he had caught about 12 sharks that week in total fishing from the rocks at Haven Beach.  We watched as he gently let the shark go back to the Bay.

  This was in sharp contrast to the gentleman who caught a juvenile sand shark this past August.  He did show it to my mother and the Brat Child as they walked by, and then he proceeded to gut it right there on the beach.  Now, I've heard that you have to clean a shark pretty soon after catching it if you want to use it for your supper.  However, I think throwing the guts into the area where people swim is slightly rude.  Especially when there were people actually swimming there.  Nothing says relaxation more than watching seagulls fly off with shark intestines dangling from their beaks.
You're welcome for that image.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sharks of the Chesapeake

If you weren't already slightly nervous about what types of things are swimming below the surface of the water at your favorite swimming spot, I'm about to make you that way.  
Here is a list in order of their threat to humans level (lowest to highest).

Smooth Dogfish-
Prefers shallow water where it scavenges and feeds on crustaceans and small fish.
Average 3-4 ft in length.
One of the most abundant sharks on the East Coast.
The dogfish poses no threat to humans due to its small size and blunt teeth.

 Hammerhead Shark-
Average size of 2-4ft though some range 6-13 ft.
Favorite food is stingrays.
Not considered a threat to humans.

Sandbar Shark caught by my mother
Sandbar Shark-
Found in grassy, shallow protected areas and sandbars.
Grows to 7ft but the juveniles that are typically found in the Bay are about 2-3 ft.
Visits the Chesapeake in the Summer and Autumn months.
Primarily found in the Virginia waters of the Bay but sometimes found in Maryland waters.
Most common shark found in the Bay.
The Chesapeake is the most important Sandbar Shark nursery on the East Coast.
There are very few reports of unprovoked attacks on humans.
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark-
Feeds on small bony fish, worms, and crabs.
Their mature size is around 3 feet long.
 They are considered a moderate threat to humans as they often come into contact with humans due to their habitat.
 However, most bites inflicted on humans by this shark are nonfatal and not serious.

Dusky Shark-
Migrates towards the Bay in the summer months.
One of the most sought after sharks for the fin trade.
Averages about 12ft in length.
Preys primarily on bluefish but feeds on many other species of fish, stingrays and crustaceans.
Considered a threat to humans due to its size.  
The International Shark Attack Files lists it as responsible for six attacks on people and boats, three of them unprovoked and one fatal (none in the Bay).

Nurse Shark-
Average size of 7-10ft but can reach 14ft.
They are nocturnal and are often found resting on the sea floor during the day.
Their diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, small fish and stingrays.
They are bottom feeders.
Nurse sharks usually are non-aggressive and swim away rather than bite.
However, there have been unprovoked attacks reported by swimmers and divers.
Their bite is powerful and has a vice-like grip capable of serious injury.

Tiger Shark-
Named for the dark vertical stripes seen on juveniles.
Grow to 10-14 ft and live for 50 years.
Referred to as the "wastebasket of the sea" because of its reputation for eating anything, including trash.
Know as man-eaters, they are second only to Great Whites for number of attacks on humans.
And because they aren't picky eaters, they're less likely to swim away after biting a human unlike the Great White.
(We found a Tiger Shark tooth on the beach of Shark Tooth Island so they're around)

Bull Shark-
Average size is 7-12 ft.
Bull Sharks are known to be aggressive and are known to frequent shallow water.
They also spend time in brackish and freshwater and are probably responsible for most near-shore shark attacks attributed to other species.
Because bull sharks dwell in shallow water, they may be more dangerous to humans than any other sharks and along with Tiger sharks and Great Whites its among the top three sharks species most likely to attack humans.
Before you try to tell yourself Bull sharks couldn't possibly be found in the Chesapeake Bay, read this article about two 8ft Bull Sharks that were caught in the Potomac River.

According to the International Shark File, Virginia has had 5 total reports of unprovoked shark attacks with 1 of those being a fatal attack of a 10 year old boy back in 2001.  The attack occurred in the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach in approximately 4 feet of water.  It's thought the shark was a Bull shark.

Happy Swimming!