Archive for May, 2012

“Art & Music on the Farm”–The Barrier Islands Center’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The Eastern Shore of Virginia’s Barrier Islands Center  marked its 10th  anniversary with a walloping big  day- long celebration billed as “Art & Music on the Farm”.   Kudos to all the planners, the festival  was beautifully executed and great fun for all who attended.  A little history is likely in order here for those not familiar with Virginia’s chain of pristine off-shore Barrier Islands,  given world class status by the United Nations who has named it as one of  its Biosphere Reserves.  Stretching along Virginia’s  Atlantic Ocean coast  from Chincoteague, VA  all the way south to Smith Island at the convergence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay,  these barrier islands have a rich history as homes to hearty watermen,  destinations for tourists and hunters, outposts for Coast Guard stations and locations for lighthouses  as well as sheltering a singular diversity of  plant and animal life.  Except for Cedar Island, which still has a few remaining summer homes accessible only by boat trip,  most  of the remaining Islands have been purchased by the Nature Conservancy, 14 islands in all, some with romantic names like  Parramore, Rogue and Revel.  Purchased to  preserve them from development, the Conservancy’s protection has allowed the wildlife to flourish, especially critical for the many species of shorebirds and waterfowl that are now able to safely nest there.  It was to protect  the unique heritage of these  unique Islands that the Barrier Island Museum was established in 2002.  Located in the little hamlet of  Machipongo, VA , it has truly met its mission statement.  In the last 10 years, over 7500 artifacts from those by-gone days  have been collected for preservation and display at the Museum and the adjacent Almshouse Farm but the Center has ventured well beyond that initial mission, establishing itself as a place for classes for all ages, a lecture series,as well as a hands-on resource for local schools to teach young  children about the history and culture of the Eastern Shore .  ( Visit them at  )

So Saturday’s anniversary celebration brought together the important 3 “F“s– Fun, Food and Fiddling and the equally important  2 “S” s-  Shopping and Sipping.    Under the leafy shade provided by the  Center’s  huge broad oaks, tables were set up for rest, dining or just enjoying a glass of wine from the tents set up by two local vineyards,  a tall cold glass of freshly brewed  iced coffee from Eastern Shore Coastal  Roasting Co. booth or perhaps a frothy pint from  Wendell Brewery’s travel truck.   Lots and lots to see, do and hear– from 40 little tents filled with local artists,  several booths bursting with flowers and colorful shrubs from local nurseries  to a sound stage set  for the 4 different musical groups set to perform.  We arrived just as the  Carribean group, Ban Caribe,  was finishing  its toe-tapping opening number to much applause, “we”  being husband,  daughter-in-law and 2 grandsons.    Right off the bat,  the boys gravitated towards  the little sheep pen where a freshly shorn mama stood in the shade with her sweet-faced tiny  lamb, carefully people watching  the people sheep watching.   From there,  we made our way over to the  Kids Activity Tent staffed by patient volunteers who helped the kids get started on making  their creative picture project while I drifed towards the Appleseed Nursery area which was doing a brisk business from their  colorful display of cut sunflowers and blooming perennials, so winsome to the eye.


But it was the incredible  artwork  that  was the main focus of the day– some of the most famous artists on the Eastern Shore of Virginia  were there, works displayed  in  individual little white tents,  so many different creations,  a myriad of  art mediums.  Local painters like Thelma Peterson,  Mary Ann Clarke, Marty Burgess and Jack Richardson,  potter Elizabeth Hunt, sculpter  Maurice Spector,  metal artists  Copper Creations and Buck Doughty,  fine furniture craftsmen   Windsor Chairs, ceramics wizzard David Crane  and so many, many other fine artists and artizans were on hand, showing and selling  their unique creations.  Pungo Mills was there with their stone ground cornmeal, Chatham Vineyards was offering samples of  its  fine wine,  Machipongo Trading Company was madly selling cones of  delicious “Marsh Mud”,  the  super-delicious,  ultra- chocolate ice cream made homestyle by The Creamery.  Inside the Museum,  in the blissfully air-conditioned lecture room,  a  “Blues Workshop”  featuring the Harris Brothers was scheduled from noon to 1pm, followed by “Recollections from the Bay: Lives and Lore of Menhaden Fishing”  offered by the Northern Neck Chantey Singers.  Later in the day the well-known old time string band, Whitetop Mountain Band, was scheduled to appear out in the bandstand, see a video of that band below.  Out in the parking  lot,  a  sweet little collection of vintage cars caught a lot of eyes,  including my husband’s,  who has a real nostolgia for yesteryear automobiles.  All said,   having  enjoyed the 3 “F” s   as well as the  2 “S“s,  we set off for home, a few treasures in hand,  the end of a lovely Eastern Shore Day.


(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Attending A Speech By The Secretary of State Turns Into A Little Adventure

Monday, May 28th, 2012

On April 3rd,  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton travelled  to Norfolk, VA  to tour  NATO’s  Allied Command Transformation headquarters and  to afterwards  deliver a policy speech at  the World Affairs Council 2012 NATO Conference Dinner held at the  Sheraton Waterside hotel.  I had been lucky enough to snag three tickets before the event was completely sold out.  WOW ,  I said to myself, as a person interested in world affairs, this is going to be really interesting and exciting  !   And so it was,  in both expected and most unexpected ways.



The first thing I decided was that the occasion was a good excuse to treat myself to a dressy new outfit.  Life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is  wonderfully casual  and most of the time I’m  attired in a sporty pair of comfortable  cotton or corduroy chinos,  blouse or sweater.  So  I combed Macy’s and Nordstrum’s  for a zippy new outfit  to wear to the dinner,  finally found something I liked, not perfect but quite satisfactory.   Next, deciding on a plan for the day itself.   The Sheraton has a lovely dining room overlooking the water at Norfolk’s Waterside Festival Marketplace  and I thought that since the formal dinner in the ballroom would likely not be well underway until about 7:30 it would be fun to have  lunch there.  So I got the agreement of   Husband and Eldest Daughter to leave the Eastern Shore by 1:30 pm which would put us at Waterside by about 2:30 pm.  Plenty of time for a very relaxed lunch and a little walk around the promenade before the reception began at 5pm, with the Secretary’s  speech scheduled to start about 6pm.   Well,  guess who just getting  into  the shower at 1:30 ????   Not me, not Hubby…. yes, it was Eldest Daughter.  Needless to say, her tardiness  threw the entire timeline off  kilter so instead of enjoying a nice relaxing glass of wine and lunch at Waterside, watching the boats cruising up the Elizabeth  River as planned, we ended up with a fast tuna cosmo at Zeros  Sub Shop !  I won’t say more about that except that I could have bitten nails in half with my bare teeth………   And little did I know it was but  an omen of what was yet to come.

Arriving at the Sheraton, which looked grand,  flags flying, water shimmering in the background, I  pulled out my camera, took  off the lens cap, focused, depressed the shutter button and ….. nothing.  Tried again, still nothing, looked at the screen, plenty of battery life, and anyway I always carry an extra hot battery.  Oops,  a little message… no DS card inserted, then remembered that I had given my currently in-use chip to my assistant to download some property pics the previous day.  Obviously I had neglected to retrieve  it.  Now, for the first time in memory, I was at a function that I very much wanted to photograph but no way to do it !   OK,  OK,  not to panic, rummage, rummage through my camera bag for another chip because I always  carry an extra chip. Well, apparently not always because, unbelievably, not one was to be found.  Now, time to panic !   The nearest place to buy an SD chip was at least a mile away,  the car had already been whisked off  to heaven knows where by the valet parking guy, it would be at least a 30 minute ordeal to reclaim the car, run to the mall,  park,  buy the chip and get back  to the hotel.  My husband thought we should try the  Sheraton’s gift shop before leaving the hotel, so trot, trot,  fast walking to the gift shop.  And there it was,  hanging on a peg board,  all by itself,  the very last one,  wrapped in the usual impenetrable packaging,  a shiny new 4 gig SD card,  to my rescue.    The irony of all this is that I am a person who at all times, well apparently not at all  times,  has at least one extra brand new camera chip on hand because I never delete photos, I just pop in a new chip.  Only problem that day being that all the extra chips were apparently sitting in my photo case,  in my desk drawer….. back on the Eastern Shore.  ( I will leave it to your imagination to guess how many blank camera chips I now have tucked in reserve in my camera bag ! )

Because of security reasons,  all  registration for this event was on-line and the tickets were not mailed out in advance but had to  be picked up at the event.  Security for the Secretary was clearly very tight, the hotel was filled with lots of uniformed officers,  a bomb sniffing dog was on patrol and  a slew of plain clothes Diplomatic Corp Security Service types  seemed to be everywhere.   By the time we finished at the gift shop,  two lines were already forming in front of the ticket pick-up tables.  We got in line, quite a long line,  for those whose last names  began with A-K,  picture  ID’s  in hand,  ready pick-up our tickets and progress to step two which was a new line to move up the stairs, through the metal detector, complete a bag search and then on to the reception.  Kapow !  More bad news struck —  they couldn’t  find our tickets.  First,  no relaxed lunch, then no camera chip and then, NO TICKETS  !!!!!

The ticket issue was  truly serious because everyone had been advised in their confirmation email that  absolutely —  NO  ticket, NO  entry.   The World Affairs Council charge d’ affairs,  a lovely calm lady named Gabrielle  Blake  was summoned.  She re-confirmed that all three of us were on the computer print-out list of attendees,  had all the remaining envelopes  reviewed again, then had the  envelopes for the L-Z  line   searched to see if our envelope had gotten mixed up with  their batch.  No such luck….  We were asked to step out of  line and wait to see what could be done.  ( While waiting, Eldest Daughter spotted Kathy Lewis, the hugely popular and respected talk show host  from  WHRV, Norfolk’s NPR station,  went over and introduced herself.   Ms. Lewis was kind enough to pose for a picture with her.  In fact,  she was pretty funny, said she hoped that my photo  would  make her look  skinny, as like many of us, she is fighting the  Battle of  the Bulge. )

About 10 minutes later,  Gabrielle was back.  Let’s speak to the security folks,  she suggested,  see if they can waive the  “must show a ticket”  requirement  since you clearly are  on the computer attendee list.  So, trot, trot, trot over to the line by the stairs.  Gabrielle  spoke with the  guard at the bottom of the steps,  who then radioed  for his supervisor.   The supervisor came, listened to the explanation,  indicated he would be right back.  In the meantime, one other couple in the same ticketless situation was joined up with us to wait for the resolution to  the problem.   The five of us waited patiently.  In the meantime, Gabrielle had to leave  us to go deal with another issue.  Finally,  2 gentlemen from the  Diplomatic Security Service detail came down  to speak with us but they needed to also speak with  Gabrielle and get her assurances as to our bona fides.  So…… Radioing for Gabrielle, the  return of Gabrielle,  the re-check of our ID’s.  Finally, one of the Diplomatic Corp Security Service fellows came back, motioning  for  us to follow him.   Follow the leader as the 5 of us  wound behind him,  through the lobby,  around to a set of  back elevators where he zipped us up to the reception floor,  stationed us at  the head of the metal detector line.  There  we were finally processed through, then wanded,  purses searched and at long, long last,  released to begin to enjoy this special  evening.

  But was that the end of our travails ?   No indeedy, once we left the reception and moved into the ballroom to our pre-assigned table we immediately realized that one of the other people  assigned to this table had either the flu or a terrible cold, he was  just coughing almost non-stop, politely into his napkin, but much coughing none  the less.  My husband  is quite susceptible  to getting serious lung complications from respiratory aliments and I just didn’t want to take any chances.  So, off to ask if  somehow, someway, somewhere,  could someone  possibly get us moved to a different table ?   Located  a hotel manager who, after  telling  us that only Gabrielle could authorize a move to another table ,  made a quick call to her.  Like the Fairy Godmother,  Gabrielle  quickly re-appeared.  Athough I know she probably couldn’t even believe that she was dealing with yet  another issue involving us,  Gabrielle was once again  super  nice and very understanding.   Fortunately, she had 3 extra tickets ( out of  the 780 total event seats)  that she had been holding back for emergency use and so  was  able to switch us from our current table to the table designated for  those tickets.     Absolutely perfect, problem solved.

Since the tale of this mini-adventure  has stretched on and on,  with regard to the remainder  of the evening,  I shall merely say we had a great time.   Secretary Clinton’s  speech on the on-going role and importance of the transformation of NATO and its role in America’s  security was interesting and very well received.  Norfolk, VA is the important location of the Supreme Allied Command for North America for NATO and the audience was jam-packed with military, political and local dignitaries, all dressed to the nines.  Dinner afterwards was surprisingly good given that 780  guests had to be served simultaneously, kudos to the Sheraton banquet manager.  Our  other  table mates, ( nobody coughing in this group) including a fellow who previously had been commander of a  submarine,  were  quite interesting,  all and all,  a very good ending to an unexpectedly adventurous  day.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Eastern Shore Hospice’s 5th Annual “Corks and Forks” Fundraiser A Complete Success

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The  Hospice and Palliative Care of the Eastern Shore  organization pulled off yet another great fundraiser party a few weeks ago.  Held once again at Aqua, a fine dining restaurant overlooking the Chesapeake Bay in Cape Charles, VA, the party was just getting into full swing as we arrived.  The great thing about Aqua’s  as a venue for a large party like this is that it is such a beautiful building- from its  long wall of picture windows overlooking the Bay to the amazing translucent bar that appears to be a long stream of liquid gold  to  the fabulous irridescent aquamarine tile covered columns,  Aqua’s offers  terrific ambience for any event. Kudos unlimited to Dickie Foster for building this fine restaurant !

Wine glasses and plates in hand,  we began a slow circuit  of the various food stations, each seemingly with more delicous offerings than the last.  First stop, the Oyster Station.   And not just any oysters, but three wide trays of  ice,  each proudly holding a specific type of Eastern Shore VA  grown beauty.   A  tray of  fat Chincoteage oysters, a tray of salty Seaside oysters and  a tray of tender Bayside oysters,  each  plump and glistening in its briny juice,  ice-cold and with a dash of Mingonette Sauce,  ready to be downed in one great sluurrpp !   My husband loves oysters but I took a pass, concentrating instead on the accompanying sparkling wine from the Scharffenberger Winery in Mendicino, California,  which was also ice cold and absolutely luscious.

Next stop,  the Chicken Satay/Grilled Shrimp Station whose offerings were being paired with  Savigonon  Blanc.  The chicken was grilled to perfection and served with a slightly spicy Thai chili sauce on the side.  The chili sauce was quite good,  although I personally am partial to a peanut sauce with satay,  particularly a sauce made with whole peanuts freshly ground in a food processor rather than made with the chunky peanut butter called for in lots of recipes .  ( However,  if one is in a time crunch,  Smucker’s  brand Chunky Peanut Butter is a top-of-the-line substitute.)   And as my husband was quick to remind me, it’s nice to do things differently from time to time.   Although they were offering both an oaked and a steel vintage of the sav blanc,  I didn’t try either because I was working on my second taste  of the Scharffenberger’s.  It  worked perfectly with the chicken so  I figured,  if it aint broke, don’t fix it……. or some such adage.

Onward and upward to what turned out to be, side by side,  my two favorite stations of the evening.   First station offered  an Italian antipasto,  Kalamata olives, fresh mozzerella and chunks of artichoke hearts transformed  into finger food with skewers and also  mini-mini sandwiches,  styled as  “Turkey Reubens”,  wafer thin smoked turkey with a dab of cole slaw, tucked into small wedges of crusty Italian bread, very, very nice.   Next door to that tasty group was a station featuring sausage chunks atop a bed of ratatulle as well as teriyaki meatballs, both very well prepared although I would have enjoyed  a bit more of  the delicious sauce over the meatballs.  The wine paired with the meatballs and sausage was my very favorite of the night-  an aromatic red Zinfandal from the Big Sur region of  California,  Peachy Canyon Vineyard’s  “Incredible Red”, a wonderful pairing,  a wine with plenty of heft to work well with those spicy meats.

By now the sun was almost setting and we moved to Aqua’s outdoor  veranda to sit for a bit, just relax and  enjoy the sunset and the gentle breezes  blowing off the water.  It was an idylic waterfront scene,  the sun slipping deep to the west, despite the cloud cover trying to paint  the Chesapeake’s waters in pastel shades of  pinks and gold,  a few last  boats cruising in off the  Bay, heading for their marina moorings,  waves lapping at  Aqua’s soft sand beach, candles glowing golden on the tables, perfectly lovely,  absolutely.  We waited until the sun had slipped below the horizon before heading back inside for a bite at the  Dessert Station,  a brie en croute with fig preserve and house made chocolate nut clusters,  paired with a late harvest dessert wine. Yummy !  From there, off to peruse the display  of  the  many donated  “Silent Auction” items.

“Corks and Forks” is an important  fund-raiser for Hospice with proceeds going to its Fragile Hearts Children’s Grief Camp,  a camp to be held at YMCA’s Camp Silver Beach this year for children dealing with grief and loss, a truly worthy cause.   And funds are raised not just through the ticket sales  but also through the donations of various items from local artists and the local business community to be sold at the Cork and Fork’s   “Silent Auction”.  This year the prime objets d’ art were  paintings  by well-known local artists  Willie Crocket,  Thelma Peterson and Clelia Sheppard and a ceramic  by Vesna Zidovec.  Other donated items included various types of gift baskets,  getaway packages, concert tickets, jewelrey and  sculpture.   All in all,  something for everyone to be interested in.  The countdown to the end of the auction was lively, with folks darting to enter their latest bids on their favorite items.  Some disappointed sighs were heard  the winners were announced but all in all,  loads of fun for everyone.  This post would not be complete without mentioning the music by the Russell Scarborough Jazz Trio.  I am a big fan of jazz and these three guys can really get down, they are wonderful and added a great deal to this delightful evening,  chalk up another winner by the Eastern Shore Hospice organization !

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)