Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Celebrating the Fourth of July, 2017 In Cape Charles, Virginia

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

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On July 3, 1776, John Adams told his wife Abigail that when Independence Day came, it should be celebrated with ” pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports… and Illuminations.” Then, voila’, on July 4,1776, the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and as a country, we’ve never looked back ! Now, in 2017, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the historic little coastal town of Cape Charles, VA celebrated America’s 241st Independence Day with the very same traditions John Adams wished for… and more ! This year, the festivities kicked off at 10am with the traditional Parade, the best ever in my book, led by the Color Guard from the US Coast Guard Station Cape Charles.

 

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The Cape Charles Parade is always a marvelous combination of local pageantry, floats, banners, fire company trucks with air horns blasting a loud ” howdy”, antique tractors and cars, horses, kids on bikes, motorcycles, decorated golf carts, etc., from local organizations, clubs and individuals. They march enthusiastically down Bay and Mason Avenues, tossing candy, beads and even a few yellow rubber duckies to the appreciative spectators lining the streets cheering them on ! This year, however, the parade within the parade, the Golf Cart Parade, was truly amazing ! Golf cart entries were dressed to the nines, red, whites and blues galore, flags, balloons, Pom-poms, streamers, banners, signs, Uncle Sam top hats, creativity shone everywhere. Since they are street-legal in Cape Charles, many residents own electric golf carts and a little friendly competition among neighbors resulted in dozens and dozens of fantastic cart entries this year, all the better to enjoy the Parade !

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After the Parade, it was on to the arts and crafts tents and food vendors out on Bay Avenue by the beach. Lots of fun stuff to see and buy. Business was brisk at the Italian Ice stand and yummy aromas wafted from the taco tent and the shrimp po boy tent, with nearby hot dog and burger venders ladling on mustard and ketchup at a fast pace too. Down at the Gazebo, Mistress of Ceremonies, perennial favorite Trina Veber, announced all the Parade winners, including best golf cart float which celebrated the now-extinct Cape Charles ferry and best Novelty entry, awarded to Reid Diggs, who drove his boat-into-a-car conversion in the Parade.

 

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Next up on the events schedule, the “Guppie Challenge”, a fishing tourney for kids, held out on the Cape Charles Fun Pier and sponsored by New Roots. Seemed to be lots of entries, excited kids milling around the LOVE sign, waiting for parents to finish the sign ups. And right next door, the medical assistance tent in case anyone got hooked by their hook… or whatever ! Teams were registering for beach volleyball and the corn hole contest. ( If you’ve never seen Corn Hole played, it’s a pretty simple set-up, a wide tilted board with round holes cut through it, hence the name corn hole ). The object of the game is to toss little bean bags through the not-much-bigger-than-the-bean-bag holes. One of those things that sounds easy but in practice is complicated, no doubt a metaphor for life in these days. ) Out on the Gazebo, live music all day and into the evening, keeping everybody rocking and rolling through sunset and last light.

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My young great-grandkids love the fireworks on the 4th of July best of all. As soon as darkness starts to fall, it’s like a road trip — but instead of “are we almost there ?”, it’s “are they going to start soon? ” Meantime, I’m still fooling with camera settings, hoping to get a few good shots of the fireworks, which seems always to be a challenge. Suddenly, the first loud booms and the crackly sizzles of lacy sparklers. Then oohs and ahhs, the squeals of sheer delight, wide young eyes staring at the sky with amazement as brilliant colors and shapes streak upwards, illuminating the darkness, then fading, softly falling back towards earth. Each seemingly more beautiful than the one before, going on and on and on, until the spectacular Grand Finale, the always perfect conclusion to a marvelous 4th, a Cape Charles 4th !!

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First Annual Live Auction At Lemon Tree Gallery And Studio

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Crowds Looking at Art 2Another exciting  “First Of ” event in Cape Charles,VA  kicked off recently with the “1st Annual Live Art Auction” hosted by the Lemon Tree Gallery and Studio in Cape Charles to benefit Experimental Film Virginia.  At the door, attendees were greeted with a sparkling limoncello prosecco cocktail before moving on to the registration table (manned by Blue Heron’s own Luisa Gazzolo), then flowing into the main gallery to view the tables laid out with the myriad works on auction. Entitled the “Sail On Sale” and sponsored by GEAR ( Global Exchange Arts Roundtable, a 501 (c)3 non-profit led by Renata Sheppard, daughter of Clelia Sheppard ), the Silent Auction and the Live Auction proceeded simultaneously.

 

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Ranada and Pink Art

Well-known names such as David Turner, Christine Harris,  Anne Bois and dozens of other talented local artists donated 100% of auction proceeds from the sale of their work to GEAR. Pieces ranged from embroidered wall hangings, oil paintings, prints and carvings to exquisite blown glass, jewelry and bronze sculpture. Gift baskets, a romantic weekend getaway, etc., even an eye procedure, were donated by local businesses for this event. Item # 4, a cocktail party at Lemon Tree Gallery for 20 guests including live music, beer, wine, mixed drinks plus cheese and antipasto platters resulted in some fast paced bidding action.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful CrabRanada showing pottery piece

Ranada and wooden whale

 

 

 

 

 

Crowd and Stage

Several of the donating artists present were coaxed to take the stage while their works were being sold, including Melinda Blanchard, who paints amazing pet portraits. During her item’s bidding, Rosilina, Clelia’s super-soft, super-cuddly long haired dachshund, whose portrait is featured on Melinda’s brochure, made a surprise appearance on stage to the delight of the audience. Auctioneer William Summs kept the bidding lively throughout and by the end of the evening over $5000 had been raised to support this year’s crop of experimental filmmakers. Concluding with musical entertainment by Bruce Brinkley and Scott Wade, it was definitely a delightful evening. Much fun was had by all — especially by the successful bidders!

 

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Sweet DogMrs. Sheppard on stage with dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

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P.S. A group of nearly 50 experimental filmmakers who will be accepted by GEAR for its 2017 program will arrive here in July and spend 2 weeks living in Cape Charles, creating unique 3-5 minute films centered on the Shore. And the public will be able to see the results when their films are premiered on July 15th at the Palace Theatre. So save the date on your calendar, it’s going to be an interesting evening.

The Barrier Island Center’s Annual Art And Music On The Farm Event

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

1Rain clouds gone,  last Saturday dawned as bright and beautiful as one could have wished for the Eastern Shore Barrier Island Center  2017 “Art And Music On The Farm” festival. This Machipongo, VA event is one of the largest art/artisan annual festivals on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and one of our very favorites. Absolutely something for everyone… plus great live music !  And delicious food !  All day long !  Oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, decoy carvings, sculptures, bronze work, weather vanes, plants and garden art, ceramics, hand-crafted wood pieces, wool working and so much more on offer for the many enthusiastic attendees.  Island View Farms even brought 3 woolly characters from its herd of authentic Hog Island sheep, descendants of the original super hardy sheep that roamed that off-shore barrier island decades ago, explaining that their sheep enjoy the attention from the visitors as much as the visitors love seeing the sheep.

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And what’s a festival without food ? Definitely plenty of goodies to munch on here,  including at Kitchen Sync Catering, whose savory bill of fare included a delicious jambalaya, fresh strawberries & cream for dessert, with ice cold pink lemonade to wash it all down. Coastal Roasting had brewed its famous Marsh Mud iced coffee plus fruit and herb iced teas, hitting the spot perfectly on the warm summer’s day. Delicious aromas wafted from the Taqueria and Kielbasa & Brats tents, their spicy menu pairing well with the adjacent Beer Garden. Not far away was Chatham Vineyard, well-known for its luscious Chardonnay, also doing a brisk business.

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CrowdFrom 10am until closing at 4pm, five different and talented groups performed on fiddle, guitar and mandolin, playing to a very enthusiastic crowd.  The main stage area included an adjacent dance floor for those in the audience who wanted to accompany the liveld Musicy music with some clogging or free range dance. Toe-tapping and delightful, the music was rooted in the various styles of bluegrass and the old time country music traditions of rural Virginia. We stayed and listened to the entire one hour performance by Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones, lots of good energy, well played. ( In fact, we enjoyed it so much we brought their authentic sound home with us in the form of their latest CD. ) And when their set was over, to the delight of the audience, Erynnn got on the dance floor and back into her groove with some enthusiastic clog dancing ! Hats off to local long time clogger, Bill McLaughlin, who helped several youngsters give clogging a try. All in all, a wonderful day, full of fresh breezes, good music, delicious food and beautiful art. In short, another great Art and Music on the Farm festival !

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Mark Campbell & John Schwab On the way to play

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. — A huge shout-out and thanks to everyone at the Barrier Island Center, to all the volunteers and all the artists, artisans and musicians who make this outstanding event possible each Memorial Day weekend !!

A Glorious New Year’s Day 2014 Trip From Eastern Shore Virginia To Williamsburg, VA’s Historic District

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

CBBTBright, sunny, beautiful from dawn till dusk, New Year’s Day 2014 was simply lovely.  We had planned early on to ring in New Year’s Day in Williamsburg and the weather could not have been more co-operative.  One of the  delights of a trip to the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg in December are the beautiful holiday decorations– the door of each home in the restored area is adored with a unique, handmade wreath.  And since they are all crafted by the residents, no wreath is duplicated.  For about the last ten years we have made an annual pilgrimage on New Year’s Day to enjoy a guilt-free buffet brunch at one of the hotels because afterwards we take a brisk walk through the restored area to work off all those calories !   ( An excellent excuse for sampling several deserts …..)  And the trip from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg is so easy,  a glide over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, clear blue waters below,  chop-chop-chop up I-64 E , exit onto Colonial Parkway and, insto-presto, in less than 2 hours it’s napkin in lap, fork in hand, ready to enjoy a luscious lunch.

 

Williamsburg InnLunch this year was an interesting buffet at the always special Williamsburg Inn– in addition to  Southern regional dishes like oyster pie,   seafood fritatta and minced Smithfield ham salad,  a surprisingly excellent offering was a black-eyed pea bisque.  For those not familiar,  it is a Southern tradition that on New Year’s Day, one must eat black-eyed peas — they are supposed to bring good luck for the coming year.  I don’t really enjoy them and the idea of black-eyed pea bisque was initially not appealing whatever. But Hubby tried some, wow, said he, this bisque is really excellent, you really should try it.   So I did…. once, twice and three times a charm !  Couldn’t believe it, that’s how delicious it was, best darn thing on the menu, I shall remember it aways.  Well, maybe not always but at least until next year when I hope they will serve it again !  The desserts were fun, especially the crepe’ station, rich, thin crepe’s filled with Bananas Foster, topped with a little scoop of fabulous ice cream and sliced fresh strawberries, very, very yummy indeed.

Williamsburg Historic area shop 244The weather was  delightful,  a little warmer than usual, about 55 degrees,  so when we started our walk  Duke of Gloucester Street was teeming with folks from all over, tourists wearing their badge passes,  locals,  students from the College of William and Mary which is located just a few blocks away, everyone quite  relaxed, just enjoying the afternoon, strolling down this historic street.  If you love dogs, Gloucester Street is also a “meet and greet” heaven for dogs of all kinds and sizes, as owners leisurely traipse down the street behind their pooches.  This year was an especially great year for “people walking dog”  watching– a Bernese Mountain dog, Labradoodle, Great Pyrenees, Scottie, Doxie, Boxer, you name it, they were enthusiastically escorting their owners down this four hundred year old street where individuals  like  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both alumni of William and Mary, probably walked their dogs too.   Interestingly, you almost never see aggressive canine behavior there, just doggie curiosity and tail wagging which makes the whole “man’s best friend” scene lots of fun. And to add additional interest to this convivial scene, the  period style carriages were out in force, each drawn by two gorgeous, well-cared for horses, stepping high, coats gleaming in the afternoon sunlight, liveried driver seated high above.  The carriages are apparently hand- manufactured in Austria according to one of the drivers but the wheels themselves are actually handmade at the wheelwright shop right in the Williamsburg Historic Area. Anyway, four or five horse-drawn carriages traveling down the street is quite a sight.

Williamsburg Christmas Decorations 241 This year’s batch of wreaths and swags was interesting as always.  Nearly every home and shop in the Restored Area is decorated each holiday season with a wreath or swag made entirely of materials which would have been available to residents of  the 18th century, basically constructed from fresh greenery pine, fraiser, boxwood, holly, magnolia and decorated with a myriad of dried different flowers, seeds and fruits, no artificial decorations allowed.  To up the ante’ a bit for residents, 1st, 2nd. and 3rd place blue ribbons are awarded and given the obvious amount of  effort many wreaths show, I’m guessing there is a bit of friendly competition every year to win a ribbon.  The effect is so pleasing that every year literally thousands of visitors come each year over the holidays to see the decorations and enjoy a holiday meal in one of the period taverns.  Each Tavern is  gaily decorated for the season, softly lighted by candles with costumed servers offering food authentic to the period– one of the most famous is the King’s Arms Tavern which is famous for its peanut soup,  Game Pye as well as an unusual veggie offering, a rich creamed celery with a hint of nutmeg,  which doesn’t sound that great but which was quite delicious.   There is always something new to see or try in Williamsburg and a visit there is  a great way to kick off the New Year.

 

The Alpacas Stole The Show At The 11th Annual Thanksgiving Artisan’s Guild Open Studio And Vineyard Tour On The Eastern Shore Of Virginia

Friday, December 6th, 2013
Brochure for the 11th annual artisan open studio tour on Eastern Shore VA

The Tour Is A Great Way To Find Unique Gifts For Special People On Your Holiday Gift List

It’s that time of year again– splendid Thanksgiving repast over, excess turkey safely ensconced in a light cream- and- sherry tetrazzini sauce, friendly football bets all settled– and on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, time for something different, one of my favorite events of the year,  the annual Thanksgiving Artisan Open Studio and Vineyard  Tour.  Pleasant, low-key, the Tour is the Friday-Saturday-Sunday after Turkey Day opportunity to personally meet talented local artists and select unique and beautiful art for some of the special people on your holiday gift list.  One of the great things about this self-guided driving tour, for locals and visitors alike, is that it is spread over a  wide- ranging area. Since the event is held in the participating artists’ studios, which are quite often located at their personal residences, visitors often end up traveling down scenic by-ways and into little hamlets that they would not ordinarily be exploring  if not for the Tour.  Thankfully,  the Guild puts out an on-line brochure and map, plus plenty of  signs and arrows are placed strategically along roads, their red bows waving in the breeze, helping to  guide folks along the way.  This year’s  Open Studio sites were scattered  from Capeville to Onancock.  ( One of my favorite Tours took place a  few years ago when we visited Open Studios  located from south of Cape Charles up to the island of Chincoteague near the Shore’s northern border with Maryland,  a distance  just shy of  70 miles.  We got started early in Cape Charles and visited just about every venue.  In fact,  after touring the 2 of the 3 open studios on Chincoteague that year, we spent the remaining half hour + of daylight at the beautiful Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, home of the famous Pony Round-up.  The vast flocks of snow geese were so  impressive, elegant white birds serenely floating on clear blue waters. )

Brown Alpaca Youngster

Am I Cute Or What ??

Because of another commitment, this year we were unfortunately unable to start until after lunch.  With two grandkids in tow, aged 8 and 11,  we set off for the By The Bay Alpaca Farm in Pungoteague.  The approach to the property is down a long farm road, through large fields blanketed with green winter cover crops,  when suddenly they appear, some of  the cutest farm animals you’ll ever see,  a  herd of 14 beautiful alpacas.  During the drive I had asked the boys what they knew about alpacas– the 8 year old piped up that he thought they were members of the camel family and the 11 year old commented that they are a lot like llamas.  But none of us had ever seen an alpaca up close and personal so we  were looking forward to reaching out and touching one of these adorable creatures.   Definitely not disappointed, they were the highlight of the entire Tour for the 4 of us, absolutely stole the show !  These graceful animals, with cloven hoofs like deer, in various shades of beige, white and brown, placidly chewed their cuds,  completely ignoring their many admiring visitors.

Alpaca on a leash ready to be petted

OK, I’m Ready For Some Petting

Awards and ribbons won by the By The Bay Alpaca farm

A Sea Of Awards and Ribbons Line The Walls At By The Bay Alpaca Farm

Andrew Leach, who with Tara King  runs the farm,  was kind enough to put a leash on one of the sweetest youngsters and let the 4 of us pet him.  I was quite surprised at how long and deep the fleece is, about  3 inches this time of year, although it will be at least 6 inches long by the time they get sheared in the spring. And soft, it was amazingly soft,  which is why it is so prized for sweaters, scarves, gloves, etc. , all of which Tara makes right there on the farm in her light-filled studio.  By The Bay has won numerous awards for its fleece.  The studio is a veritable sea of ribbons and awards, a real accomplishment for the owners, especially considering that they started with only a single pregnant female and have built their herd of 14 from there.  Aside from how incredibly soft the fleece is,  we were all surprised by how much alpacas vocalize as well as  by the fact that, unlike cows, horses, etc.,  they are essentially “potty trained”.  Though I hesitate to get so earthy in a blog post, we were all astonished to see three or four different animals walk up to what apparently is their selected potty area in the middle of the pasture and do their thing,  right on the exact same spot where a previous  animal had just finished.  I asked Andrew if I was just imagining this and he said that alpacas like to keep their pastures clean and that they do basically adhere to a central toilet area instinctively, no attempts at training from him !  Who would have guessed ….

Artist display of blown glass

Reflections Glass On Display

From By The Bay we were off to Onancock, specifically the historic Onancock School which now houses the studios of  about 10 artisans.  We visited the studio of Elizabeth Hunt, a well-known potter who does beautifully decorative stoneware,  David Farlow, the Harbormaster at the Quinby, VA harbor, who is a 4th generation Eastern Shore decoy carver  and the  Reflections Glass Studio, owned by the Careys, a husband and wife glass blowing team.   There were more studios at the school to visit but because of our late start it was almost the witching hour and I still wanted to visit the studio of Vesna Zidovec,  a well-known potter, whose mirrors decorated by borders of  her hand-made glazed marine life tiles are legendary here on the Shore.  Vesna has a very cozy studio in her home in Onancock, toasty warm from a wood stove in the corner,  flanked by a chessboard table, soft classical music playing,  a great place to end the Tour. We selected a lovely glazed bowl decorated with, of course, a blue heron,  and then it was time to head for home, another Tour, albeit abbreviated, under our belts, a delightful time had by all plus a lot more info on alpacas.

 

 

 

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A GLORIOUS FOURTH OF JULY 2013 IN CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA

Friday, July 19th, 2013
 Cape Charles Beach July 4, 2013

Sun And Fun On The Cape Charles Beach

We spent a few days over the 4th of July at   a charming Victorian home  overlooking  the  Chesapeake Bay and sparkling sand beach on Bay Avenue in the quaint  historic town of Cape Charles, VA.   The plan was to have a couple of grandkids for a sleepover on Wednesday night, then a big family  gathering to watch the fireworks on Thursday night and finally  for Hubby and I to grab a well-deserved day of peace and quiet on Friday.  For once, things went some what according to plan.  We rolled into town just after  a kid-friendly lunch at Mickey D’s,  intent on getting  all cold items unpacked and stuffed into the refrigerator at the house before heading out to the Wednesday Aftenoon Chess Club at the new public  library on Mason Avenue.  I say “new”  library not in the sense of the building, which is a grand bank building built in the early 1900’s, most lately inhabited by Bank of America, ( and now owned by the Town thanks to the very affordable terms offered by BOA ),  but in the sense that it just become the library.  Space to be able to offer chess for kids is just one of the perks of making the building a public building rather than just another retail business as some had hoped.  I personally think time will prove that this expenditure by the Town was a brilliant decision.

 Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop In Cape Charles VA

To Try It Is To Love It— Brown Dog Ice Cream !

But  what is located conveniently adjacent to the library, beloved by young and old alike, the perfect after-chess treat ?   The Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop, of course,  home of made-on-the-premises, good as Haagen Dazs,  6 or more  rotating flavors everyday, served in a cup, sugar cone or crunchy waffle cone, delightfully cold, deliciously creamy ice cream.  I tried the for- adults-only lemoncello which hit the spot on a warm summer’s day but I must say that Hubby’s coffee ice cream made with the Eastern Shore Roasting Company’s coffee was absolutely wonderful and I don’t even particularly like coffee ice cream !  The kids all had the Simply Berries, full of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, the yummy way to sneak in extra antioxidants.  From there it was off to the pool for a couple hours of pure splashing, jumping, laughing fun for the kids and a little relaxation  in the shade for us.

 Cape Charles Fishing Pier at Sunset 4th of July

Cape Charles Fishing Pier On A Soft Summer’s Eve

Back to the house  for a fast, kid- friendly dinner of grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob and salad plus plenty of  watermelon for dessert. I think that no fruit says summer better than sweet and juicy chunks of deep red, crisp,  ice cold watermelon — unless it’s a tree-ripened, dripping with juice, sweet-as-sugar peach, plucked at the peak of perfection from a tenderly cared for tree at the Nottingham Farms orchard just south of Cape Charles.  Anyway, we wanted to get in a walk at sunset and headed for  the lighted fishing pier just down from the house. It’s a wonderful facility, stretching out into the Chesapeake Bay quite a ways, protected by a jetty,  perfect for a relaxing after-dinner meander, no hurry,  enjoying the sights and sounds, watching folks still sitting on the beach or wading in tide pools,  just savoring the last few minutes of daylight, boats drifting back into the harbor, sated with a day of fishing, lights on the channel markers blinking red and green, a peaceful end to a busy day.  Once back at the house, early lights-out for all in anticipation of a busy morning on the 4th, grandparents definitely tuckered out, grandkids not so much, which I guess proves we’re not  spring chickens anymore.

 Vendor Tents Cape Charles Beach July 4th

Getting Ready For A Busy Day

Awoke on the 4th to stiffled giggles downstairs, where the kids were trying hard  (and almost succeeding) to keep the sound levels to a low roar.  A dash for the coffee pot,  zip-zip for a breakfast of yogurt and sausage & egg biscuits, then out the door for adventures down the street as the artist’s  tents and  the bouncy house folks were being set up for what they hoped would be a profitable day.   Food vendors were already bustling about, the Italian sausage guys busy slicing up mounds of onions and bell peppers to grill,  delicious aromas starting to waft across the sidewalk even at that early hour.  We poked our noses into everything, easy to do because we were more or less  the first visitors on the scene.  The kids got fixated on the possibility of a funnel cake later, I bought a  light-weight hat with an amazingly wide brim and the biggest flap down the neck I ever saw,  perfect for extra sunburn avoidance.  We took a moment to say hi to Billie Crocket, a terrific local carver,  and then back to the big front porch to settle down with a tall glass of  lemonade  awaiting  the parade.

Cape Charles fire truck  Golf cart parade  Shark car  Lady Liberty

 Cape Charles July 4th Parade 2013

And Where Are The Clowns ? Send In The Clowns…

What I have always loved best about the Cape Charles 4th of July Parade is the active participation of so many folks in the Parade itself as well as a great turnout of spectators to cheer them on.  Led by the Color Guard from the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station, followed by our first responders– fire truck after tanker truck after ladder truck after ambulance, full of  volunteers from Fire and EMT Stations all over Northampton County, giving we  the served a chance to cheer and wave to these folks who risk life and limb to help us everyday. And then the long procession,  a whole array of organizations from Veterans to the Girl Scouts to the ESO Clown Troupe, followed by the Golf Cart Parade, this year with at least 30 gaily decorated golf carts full of waving people throwing candy to the crowd,  followed by the Kid’s Bicycle Parade,  with the Horse Parade bringing up the rear.  So much participation, so much spirit, a joy to see, no apathy here, we love the Parade and the esprit de corps,  it beats slick commercial floats a ten times over.

5a Cape Charles Parade July 4th   5b Cape Charles July 4th Parade  5c Cape Charles July 4th Parade  5d Cape Charles July 4th Parade

 Tall ship at sunset in the Cape Charles VA Harbor on July 4th, 2013

Cape Charles Harbor At Sunset

After the Parade, a stroll down Bay Avenue, flowing with the crowd, snagging some of those aromatic grilled sausage/onion/bell pepper sandwiches, just generally enjoying the day until time for more  splashing & laughing at the pool where one of the mothers took over kid supervision responsibilities and Hubby and I went back to the house for a well-deserved iced tea,  just chilling out in an overstuffed chair, newspaper in hand, silently singing the praises of  whatever brilliant person invented AC.  Evening brought a spectacular sunset and some great “people watching” as still-decorated golf carts cruised merrily up and down the avenue, folks arrived to watch the fireworks from the beach, bikes and joggers silhouetted against  a glowing  sky of deep pinks and reds. Down at the harbor, white masts contrasted with  the midnight blue sky. It was lovely, a truly wonderful day.  Yet to come,  the fireworks, this year a 30 minute display of grand explosions,  a profusion of  blazing flower patterns, brilliant petals glowing in bright  reds, greens, golds, white.  It was awesome !   The kids loved it, we loved it, the crowd loved it, a colorful and exciting end to another great 4th of July in Cape Charles, VA.

6a Surfer golf cart  6c Bikers at Cape Charles Beach July 4th  6d harbor at sunset  6b Cape Charles 4th of July Sunset

 

 

 

Attending Cherry Blossom Festival 2013- In Virginia Beach VA

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
View of the two spans of the 17 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel connecting the Virginia Eastern SDhore to the Virginia mainland.

The Beautiful Chesapeake Bay Bridge Seen From Fisherman’s Island area

Early April is the time of year when we usually look forward to going to the Cherry Blossom Festival in  Washington DC.   Unfortunately, this year we were not  able to go.  About three weeks ago, when I was bemoaning to a friend that scheduling conflicts were going to prevent us from going  to DC,  she mentioned that  nearby Virginia Beach, VA  also has a Cherry Blossom Festival,  why not check it out ?   There won’t be the fabulous blooms along the Tidal Basin, the National Mall or  Parkway Drive said she,  but it might still be interesting and fun.  I took her advice and after some research  found to my surprise that 2013 marked the Virginia Beach 9th  Annual  Cherry Blossom Festival.  Who knew ?  Anyway, that  Saturday  dawned bright and sunny, most welcome after all the spring rain we’ve had this year, a little breezy but expected to be near 60 degrees, a very pleasant day.   So after lunch we decided to go for it,  jumped in the car, zipped over  the Chesapeake  Bay Bridge  Tunnel, waves sparkling in the  afternoon sun,  making a bee line for Redwing Park , about an hour’s drive from our house, planning to get there in time for most of the program,  including the Taiko ensemble’s  performance. (Another little plug for life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is how close we are to the Hampton Roads area which is the 32nd largest metro area in the US.  It’s like having your cake and eating it too– enjoy  a low-key, relaxed rural feel here on the Shore but be able to access virtually every known metropolitan amenity in less than an hour in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, etc.  Love it, love it, love it ! )

Taiko drums at Cherry Blossom Festival

Taiko Drums At The Virginia Beach Cherry Blossom Festival

I was especially looking forward to the Japanese drums,  called Taiko, which are  really amazing, nothing like what we are used to as drums in a regular  band. A  Taiko drumming performance  is something really special.  Construction of these drums dates  back to feudal times, many  are very large,  made from beautifully grained wood, highly polished, often about the size of barrels, most actually  sit horizontally  and can be played  simultaneously by two drummers, one on each end.  The rhythms are hypnotic, with point and counterpoint, played in long mesmerizing “songs”   Historically,  these drums were often  used on the battlefield because  their loud “voices”  could communicate over long distances.  Taiko were also frequently  used in religious ceremonies in Buddhist and Shinto temples which  had really fabulous drums, usually  fashioned  from trees with  huge diameters, resulting in amazing  drums with faces 10 to 12 feet across. Drums like this could not  be easily moved and were played only by men who received special permission from the monks.  The first time I ever saw a Taiko performance was about a hundred years ago, in the Japanese Pavillion at EPCOT.  I was just transfixed by  the “song”  of the drums and their  mesmerizing beat– in fact, I went around  for days with the beat from one particular  “song”  replaying over and over  in my head.  Taiko drumming is quite demanding, not only because of  the physical strength needed to control the depth of sound and the tempo changes, but also for the sheer physical endurance required.   Certainly I wasn’t expecting professional quality taiko from the Virginia Beach  group,  called Soka Tiako, but they sounded great and  looked quite colorful in their  costumes, garnering lots of applause when their number was completed.

Dancing the flower dance at the Festival

Flower Dance At Cherry Blossom Festival

Lots  of other terrific performances of traditional Japanese music and dance in addition to the Taiko were offered all afternoon.  Among the most interesting was a group from Old Dominion University who played the koto, a zither type  instrument about six feet long, with 13 strings,  which creates the high pitched  sound I most associate with Japanese music.  The koto looks incredibly difficult to master  and in speaking to one of the performers just  before the show, I  was assured that  it is indeed difficult to master,  even more so outdoors  which involves a knack for playing while  breezes ruffle one’s music sheets.  The performers all wore traditional garb, kimono with obi,  gorgeous and colorful.   In fact, quite a few folks in the audience, both men and women, wore traditional garb which gave the whole event a  very authentic feel. One of  my other favorite performances was by the Virginia Beach Okinawa Sanshin-Kai band which played traditional three string lutes and featured a very sweet, almost ballet-like  dance by a mother and her young  daughter, both wearing beautiful kimono and elaborate “flower”  hats symbolizing the first blooms of Spring.

DSC_0881Parasols for saleJapanese character writing

DSC_0754DSC_0802For  martial arts fans, various groups from around the city offered  martial arts demonstrations throughout the afternoon including karate, judo and some a very proficient  kobudo with impressive moves with the traditional swords.  I personally am not into any of that but  a lot of applause went their way from folks who are.  Shopping is more my style and I enjoyed seeing some of the little gift items for sale in the tent area. The most popular item seemed to be a selection of colorful parasols, attracting gals and  girls alike.   In addition, the origami  and calligraphy demonstrations were fun,  lots of folks crowding around  to get their names written in Japanese  by some volunteers who were amused as they tried to write  names like Henrietta and Martha in characters.  A local rescue group for Akita’s was on hand with two of their charges, a handsome grey and a placid sand colored dog–I had just recently seen the Richard Gere film “ Akita”  (  based on a true story)  and we all agreed that it was a real tear jerker  of a movie. Who can even imagine a  depth of  loyalty that would compel a dog to wait outside a train station each night for 9 years, waiting for his owner who was long dead ?  Wow !

Tori gate at RedWing Park in Virginia Beach

Tori Gate in Miyazaki Garden at Redwing Park

Reflecting pool with cherry blossoms

Reflecting Pool At Miyazaki Garden

Apparently part of the impetus for the planting of  the lovely cherry trees at Redwing Park, as well as for the creation of the Festival itself, was that about 14 years ago Virginia Beach established a   “Sister City”  relationship with the city of  Miyazaki , Japan.  This  special relationship resulted in many cross-cultural exchanges and eventually in the city’s construction of  Miyazaki Garden, a  lovely traditional Japanese strolling garden, as well as the planting of hundreds of ornamental Japanese cherry trees in the Park.  The trees  were only in about 25% bloom that Saturday due to the cooler than normal Spring this year,  but that  was enough to see how gorgeous they were going to be this year. Miyazaki  Garden was beautiful  though, an early blooming tree  leaning over a reflecting pond was the site of  much photo taking, prompting me to take pics of  people taking pics.  All in all, as my friend forecast,  it wasn’t the National Mall and it wasn’t the Tidal Basin, but the Virginia Beach, VA  2013 Cherry Blossom Festival was definitely quite nice and we’re glad we went.

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

 

 

 

 

Ringing In The New Year In Historic Williamsburg, VA

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

This year,  as has been our habit for the last 10 or so years, we  made a New Year’s Day trek to Williamsburg, VA to enjoy lunch and a leisurely walk through the Colonial Historic Area  to admire this year’s  door  decorations.   Fortunately it’s just a hop, skip and jump from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Williamsburg….. Well, maybe more of a longish glide.  As in glide smoothly over the incredible Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, sparkling blue waters of the merge point of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean swirling below,  a sight that never ceases to amaze me with its ever changing face.  Sometimes smooth as glass, other times presenting as long, undulating waves, yet again as wild angry chop, covered with foam, something different every time one goes across.  Then gliding west on Rt. 64 which, on New Year’s Day, usually is a fat, low-key drive because most folks are likely trying to get the ole eyeballs focused after a rollicking New Year’s Eve.  Anyway, it seems like no time at all and one is on Colonial Parkway, heading for Duke of Gloucester Street.

The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg is an on-going restoration effort of the  Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, was made possible by massive endowments by the John D. Rockefeller family, is a truly  amazing place, a living history museum consisting of an entire town, replicated from the Colonial era.  It’s like a time travelers dream, suddenly you’re back in the 1700’s, walking down cobblestone streets, past shops filled with long gone items like candles, bonnets, leather pockets, thick pottery, pewter mugs, etc.,  as well as replicas of the one and  two page local newspapers of that era which are so amazing to read. Horse- drawn grand coaches clatter down the streets, young drummers from the Fife and Bugle Corps march purposefully towards the Governor’s Palace, drums counting the cadence, aromas of hot spiced apple cider waft through the air as folks from literally all around the globe visit during the holidays to see the Historic Area and the famous Christmas door wreaths and swags.

A quick lunch at one of the several taverns was in order before setting out to see this year’s crop of  decorations.   Taverns were public houses of that era and were places for visitors and travelers to eat and relax. The Foundation offers 4 authentic tavern experiences with menus offering foods  similar to the dishes which would have been popular with folks like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson back  in the day.   At dinner,  what would have been typical Colonial era entertainers stroll through the dining rooms, singing and accompanying themselves on lute and mandolin.  Both the servers and the entertainers are in authentic costume, the lighting is by candle which creates an old-fashioned ambience.  My favorite tavern for a quick lunch is  Josiah Chownings, which was a real tavern, operated by a real Josiah Chowning back in the mid-1700’s.   I especially look forward to their peanut soup appetizer which is served with long strips of chunky,  very dry, crisp seasoned bread called “sippets”.   Peanut soup probably sounds less than palatable but well made, with a good quality chicken stock and heavy cream, it is silky smooth and absolutely delicious.  My husband often orders the Brunswick Stew which is a very old Southern dish, popular still, chicken stewed with corn, lima beans, tomatoes, herbs, etc..   The original recipe for Brunswick Stew called for squirrel instead of chicken, no squirrel for me, thanks anyway, but with chicken it is quite  tasty.

Lunch enjoyed, we set out for a leisurely walk  to view  this year’s wreaths.    Somehow, we never seem to tire of looking at these lovely, all- natural decorations.  No matter how many times we have gone to Williamsburg over the holidays,  it always seems that fresh and new ideas hang on each  door. Every conceivable type of plant material is used in quite creative ways —- fresh cedar, pine, Frasier fir and boxwood sprigs are used to form the basic wreath which is then decorated with all sorts of colorful fruits, seed pods, magnolia leaves, grasses, dried flowers, pine cones, shells, etc.  Over the years,  these lovely wreaths  become so famous that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation finally published an elaborate hardcover book entitled “Christmas Decorations From Williamsburg” which gives step by step directions on how to make a Colonial style wreath at home.  Order the book at  http://www.Williamsburgmarketplace.com.  I have the book but confess that somehow I’ve just never gotten around to making one myself although the directions are quite well illustrated.  Maybe next year…..

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

Cape Charles’ Inaugural Clam Slam Festival

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

What do a Shriner’s Parade, a crab skiff race, a fishing boat docking contest,  paintings  of whimsical mermaids  and prancing horses have in common ?   Surprisingly, they were all a part of a new Eastern Shore Virginia festival, the 2012 Clam Slam in Cape Charles, an inaugural event held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The Clam Slam  blasted off  Friday evening  at the harbor with a huge Harbor Party featuring live rock/blues music music from 6-10 pm performed by John Baldwin and the Original Sinners, a well-known Virginia Beach  band.  I’m still a Glenn Miller-Tommy Dorsey-Benny Goodman-Artie Shaw  fan myself but I’ve spoken to several people who went Friday night and commented that they really enjoyed the music.

 

10am Saturday morning brought a  complete change of pace as the Shriner’s Parade and Car Show.  led by the smartly stepping Color Guard from the  US Coast Guard’s  Cape Charles Station, began winding its way along Bay Avenue  and then down Mason Avenue.  Following was a colorful assortment of participants including the ever popular fire trucks from Cape Charles and nearby Cheriton throwing candies to the crowd and then what I think was  litttle Miss Chesapeake Bay.  Everyone loved the crab racing skiffs which would be struting their stuff  in the harbor later in the day, a colorful collection of oranges, greens and blues,  rolling past sidewalks crowded with on-lookers.

But of course it was the Shriners who  highlighted  the day, going all-out as usual in their efforts to raise money for their 22 hospital network where children are treated for free for a wide variety of very serious issues, including burns.  Dressed in costume, the Shriner contingent led off with marchers, then a good sized marching band attired in teal slacks, white shirts, gold cummberbunds and their traditional red fezes, playing with  plenty of volume and enthusiasm,  followed by their top attractions, horses,  clowns, mini-trucks and of course, the laugh-out-loud, crazy-driving  miniture cars, probably the Shriners most famous parade unit.

Envision exuberant drivers, stuffed into tiny cars   barely big enough to hold them, careening  around in apparently randomly wild configurations. Further imagine  what appears to be total mayhem, with these big guys in minuture cars, zipping every which way but Sunday, about 6 ways on this 2 way street,  all to huge laughs from an appreciative  audience and you’ve pretty much got the picture. The clowns were tons of fun too- dressed up like  Beverly Hillbillies, one of the fellows was doing his antics in  bare feet.  Given that hot, hot pavement, I’d say, Wow, that’s really dedication.  Following all of that fun, a string of sweet antique cars.  A  fellow standing beside me kept pointing to one yellow beauty, saying I had one just like that, exactly like that  just as the Kedive motorcycle group roared into view, first you hear them, then you see them.

Next up,  horses and riders from Triple M Ranch.  Located just outside Cape Charles  on 150 acres overlooking historic King’s Creek, a saltwater inlet from the Chesapeake Bay,  Triple M has a dedicated group of riders and they have consistantly added a lot of interest to local events by bringing their gorgeous mounts to participate.  Their  horses were so cute last Christmas at the Cape Charles Grand Illumination at Central Park.  Adorned in holiday bells, red bows, plush reindeer horns, red and green saddle blankets, etc., they certainly brought a lot of extra smiles to that special evening.  Following the horses, a cute golf cart sponsored by the Friends of the Cape Charles Library advertizing their book sale and then, last but definitely not least, a long string of antique Corvette’s,  buffed and shiny, clearly well treated by their proud owners.

I didn’t have time to stick around for the other festivities down at the harbor which included games for kids, a  horseshoe contest,  a crab pot cork race and the wildly popular  Smith Island crab skiff race.  I did however take a quick stroll down Mason Avenue to see what the sidewalk art booths had on display this year.  Looks of good stuff, paintings, crafts, political buttons, you-name-it,  for sale along the sidewalk.  And at the very end of the sidewalk appeared a little tent filled to the brim with the most adorable mermaid dolls and whimsical paintings, prints and original oils both,  all beckoning  me  in, singing sweetly  like the Sirens to Ulysses, come  in, come in, see me,  touch me, take me home with you……  Created by talented Shore artisit,  Katherine Kiss, who said she has been working in the fanciful genre for a long time,  the  mermaid dolls were so absolutely gorgeous,  I’d have loved to have bought every one !

P.S.  I didn’t attend any of the Sunday events but  the Boat Docking Contest was the clear favorite– over 800 tickets for the event were sold, the proceeds to be used for the prizes and to help off-set  fuel costs for the boat owners.  However, Jennifer Ingram from Blue Heron’s  Cape Charles office did attend, ( had a ticket in the VIP section no less )  and she was kind enough to supply me with the following pictures for this post.

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

“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   www.barrierislandscenter.com  )

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.

                     
http://youtu.be/9XUPTKmGzUI

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