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