Letter From Granma

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A Day at Back Bay

Another day of discovery as we ventured out to explore another part of Virginia.

I have been told by many, that I would like the outer banks.  Most of them are refering to North Carolina, however, since we had only the afternoon, we decided to look at the outer banks of Virginia Beach.  The outer banks are a 200 mile string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina and a small portion of Virginia.  They actually begin at the southeast corner of Virginia Beach and spread southward.

 A day outing.  Most surprising for me, initially, was the fact that on October 9th, we had a clear, sunny day and as we left on our journey, it was 80 degrees.  Fabulous.

We drove to the south eastern shore and traveled Sandbridge, Sand Piper and Sand Fiddler Roads…huge dunes protecting coastal homes on a narrow stretch of land.   

Sandbridge Beach is 5 miles of beautiful sandy public beach. 


We traveled south until the drive ended  at Back Bay.   


Situated along the coastline at the southend of Sandbridge, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge contains about 7,700 acres of beach, dunes, woodland and marsh.

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Virginia Feb 2011 USFWS

An additional 4,600 acres of the bay’s shallow waters surrounding the refuge’s marshy islands have been designated by Presidential Proclamation in 1938, as an area for the protection of migrating birds. 


When I say wildlife refuge, I mean it in every sense of the word.  Regulations include no pets, no swimming, sunbathing, or surfing.  Hikers and bikers must stay on dedicated trails.  It is truly a place to observe nature. 

We did not see a lot of wildlife, however, after additional study, I have determined that we will take the grandgirls for a visit there in January.  At that time approximately 10,000 snow geese and a large variety of duck take refuge during the peak migration season.

As an aside, there is also a Charles Kuralt Trail.


Charles Kuralt Trail, Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach

Charles Kuralt Trail, Back Bay NWR, Virginia Beach

Charles Kuralt (September 10, 1934 – July 4, 1997) was an American journalist. He was most widely known for his long career with CBS, first for his “On the Road” segments on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and later as the first anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning, a position he held for fifteen years.   Kuralt hit the road in a motor home (he wore out six before he was through) with a small crew and avoided the interstates in favor of the nation’s back roads in search of America’s people and their doings. He said, “Interstate highways allow you to drive coast to coast, without seeing anything.  (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Kuralt)

‎I happen to have been a huge fan of Charles Kuralt over the years.  I loved his down home style and how interesting he would make of what seemed to be the most mundane things.   The Charles Kuralt Trail has been established to help people enjoy these wildlands and to recognize the broadcast journalist who shared the delights and wonders of out-of-the-way places like these. 
I can remember so many segments of his broadcasts that simply focused on the landscape and natural habitat.  No narrative..simply the sound of the nature that we viewed.  Impactful.
Life is a transition.  Embrace it.




Beach grass, sea grass,

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More than a mere football game…

Traveling to Baltimore to see the Ohio State Buckeye game opener against Navy proved to be a great 3 day weekend.  The game itself was the highlight, but not for the reasons you might think.  Taking place in the M & T Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, the venue was perfect for an exciting game of football.

Since Baltimore is so close to Annapolis and a home game for Navy, I expected the stadium to be filled with navy.  Wrong…the stadium was filled with scarlet and gray.  The thing that struck me was how many “bi-fans” there were.  Starting with us…while my husband graduated from OSU and we have been lifelong fans, my son is in the navy.  I was amazed at how many others shared our feelings…but many of them were much more demonstrative.  Navy shirts, OSU hats worn by the same spectator;  OSU shirt, Navy socks and visor on another.  I don’t know the proper term for this phenomenon, but I loved it.

By far my favorite part of the day took place before the game even started.  I was totally unaware of a Naval Academy tradition and was unprepared for what I was about to experience.  Just before the opening kick off at every Navy home game, what seems like an endless steam of white takes to the field, company by company, until the entire field is covered.

navy 1


This tradition is called the March On and is one of the Navy’s most honored traditions.

navy 3

4400 midshipmen dressed in their summer whites on the field.

navy 5

Truly an inspiring sight to behold.  Each company and their commander introduced and the colors presented.

There are no words.

When the midshipmen filed off of the field, they all sat (stood) in the stands at the Navy end zone.  The teams took the field, the coin was tossed and the game was played.  A good game on a warm summer day.  Punctuating the game the Navy cannon was fired at each kick off and each Navy score.

The Ohio State marching band’s halftime celebrated the military and the Navy as well.

At the end of the game the entirety of both teams and coaches took to the end zone in front of the mass of white created by the mid shipman and stood together respectfully for the Navy alma mater  “Navy Blue and Gold”.  All of the teams and coaches then proceeded to the opposite end zone and stood with the Ohio fans to sing “Carmen Ohio”.  When does this ever happen in competitive sports?  Amazing.

Such tradition and class.  It gives us hope and pride that these fine young men and women will lead in the future.

Final score Ohio State 34, Navy 17.  A much closer game than the score reflects.

Final thought…Respect, Tradition and Class are what we remember long past the outcome of a contest.

Life is a transition.  Embrace it.



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Lessons Learned as I study with a 5th Grader

Last weekend over the Labor day holiday, we embarked on a trip to Baltimore.  The main reason for the trip was to watch the Ohio State/Navy football game, but we decided to make the trip into a 3 day adventure.  Our daughter, Amy, has had several conferences recently in Baltimore and sings the city’s praises.  We became tourists for the weekend.

We left Friday morning from Norfolk and traveled the route along the Eastern Shore to avoid Washington DC holiday traffic.  The route took us away from the expressways and through the more agricultural part of coastal Virginia which I have not seen.  It wasn’t the fastest travel to Baltimore, but it was scenic and informative.

eastern shore  chincoteague

We stopped at an Eastern Shore tourist information center soon after we crossed the bridge, and had a lesson on the area from a delightful senior citizen who worked there.  She was so thorough in her presentation of the highlights of the shore, that we have already decided to take a weekend trip back to visit her recommendations.  We are especially intrigued with seeing Chincoteague.

So what is the point of this blog?   I learned something last week when I was studying with the 5th grader;  knowledge that I applied on the trip.  As we drove we saw fields and fields of stakes.  What in the world was growing in those fields?  Tomatoes!  Had I not learned last week that the tomato has taken over the  soy bean as the most profitable crop grown in Virginia, it would never have occurred to me that these huge agricultural fields were crops of tomatoes.

A side note…for those of you who may not know, the tomato is a fruit.  Hummmm, watermelon a vegetable and the tomato a fruit, both incredibly healthy.

tomato fields

Life is a transition.  Embrace it.

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Am I Smarter than a 5th Grader…2

Cinquain Poem…

I love poetry, and when I was younger I loved to write it….however, once again the 5th grader stumped me.  Assignment…write a Cinquain Poem.

Who ever heard of that?  Well apparently I am the odd man out on this one.

A cinquain – which, by the way, is pronounced “sin-cane,”  – is a form of poetry that is very popular because of it’s simplicity. It was created by American poet Adelaide Crapsey about 100 years ago.

Cinquains are just five lines long, with only a few words on each line, making them easy to write. The first and last lines have just two syllables, while the middle lines have more, so they end up with a diamond-like shape, similar to the poetic form called the diamante.

(Now, I do know diamante….in bridal language diamante is a small, glittering ornament, such as a rhinestone or a sequin, applied to fabric or a garment or a fabric that has been covered with many of these ornaments.)

The Rules of a Traditional Cinquain

  1. Cinquains are five lines long.
  2. They have 2 syllables in the first line, 4 in the second, 6 in the third, 8 in the fourth line, and just 2 in the last line.
  3. Cinquains do not need to rhyme, but you can include rhymes if you want to.

However, I discovered 2 others acceptable forms.

Cinquain Pattern 1                                                                    Cinquain Pattern 2

Line 1: A Noun                                                                            Line 1:  One word

Line 2 Two Adjectives                                                               Line 2  Two words

Line 3 Three-ing words                                                             Line 3 Three words

Line 4  A phrase                                                                          Line 4  Four words

Line 5  Another word for the noun                                         Line 5  One word


Aspen worked on 2 cinquain poems using the pattern #1…one titled Mom and one titled Dad.

Sooo….here goes.


Clever, Creative

Calculating, Captivating, Caring

Constructing my new life


Life is a transition.  Embrace it.


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Am I smarter than a 5th Grader? Day 1

OK…question number one.  What “region” is Virginia in?….my answer…Mid Atlantic.  Aspen’s answer South…Correct answer…South.

What does Virginia produce…my first thought–tobacco (however..maybe fishing or ship building since we live at the beach).  I wanted to google for more information, but Aspen wanted to finish her assignment without further investigation.  Aspen submitted fishing.  Homework complete.

I remained curious.  After all, I mentioned fishing during our conversation….purely a guess.  I didn’t want to mislead my granddaughter.  So first thing this morning I was online.  After researching today…initially, fishing did not come up at all.

“The Economy of Virginia is well balanced with diverse sources of income. From the Hampton Roads area to Richmond and down to Lee County in the southwest includes military installations, cattle, tobacco and peanut farming in Southside Virginia. Tomatoes recently surpassed soy as the most profitable crop in Virginia. Tobacco, peanuts and hay are also important agricultural products from the commonwealth.   Wineries and vineyards in the Northern Neck and along the Blue Ridge Mountains also have become increasingly popular. Northern Virginia (once considered the state’s dairy capital) hosts software, communications, consulting, defense contracting, diplomats, and considerable components of the professional government sector.”    http://www.ask.com/wiki/Economy_of_Virginia

Upon further investigation I found out the following…

Here are just a few facts about Virginia Seafood:

The Virginia seafood industry is one of the oldest industries in the United States and one of the Commonwealth’s largest. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science reported the annual economic impact to be over one half of a billion dollars.

Virginia is the nation’s third largest producer of marine products with total landings of over 494,028,366 million pounds in 2012 and is only out paced by Alaska and Louisiana. The dockside value to watermen alone was $191,664,734 million. Virginia also ranks as the largest seafood production state on the East Coast. Reedville, VA is the fourth largest U.S. fishing port based on landings. Hampton Roads was the seventh wealthiest seafood port in the nation.



OK…lesson learned.  What’s next?

Life is a transition.  Embrace it.

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A Vegetable…Really?


I learned something new today…which I try to do everyday, but I have decided to share at least one thing that I learn each day.

Today I learned that a watermelon is classified as a vegetable.  That is amazing to me, since watermelons are so sweet and often used as a dessert over the summer when we want something light, sweet and juicy.

Watermelon, the fruit ,that is really a Vegetable. Watermelon can be traced back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family.  Today the world’s largest producer of watermelon is China. Georgia, Florida, TexasCalifornia, and Arizona are the US’s largest watermelon producers.

  1. Not only does it quench your thirst, it can also quench inflammation that contributes to conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis.
  2. Over 1,200 varieties of watermelon are grown worldwide.
  3. Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.
  4. Pink watermelon is also a source of the potent carotenoid antioxidant, lycopene. These powerful antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing free radicals.
  5. Watermelon is a vegetable! It is related to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  6. Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  7. Watermelon is grown in over 96 countries worldwide.
  8. In China and Japan watermelon is a popular gift to bring a host.
  9. In Israel and Egypt, the sweet taste of watermelon is often paired with the salty taste of feta cheese.
  10. Every part of a watermelon is edible, even the seeds and rinds.

by on June 7, 2007 The Town Dish.com

Oh well…regardless…I plan on continuing to serve this ice cold treat at the end of my summer meal or as a satisfying treat on the beach.

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The Legacy of Pooh

My sister has a bear….Pooh.  No, not Winnie the Pooh….her Pooh is much different.  She wrote about Pooh in her recent blog.


Pooh has Power.

Pooh is a VIB…Very Important Bear and I don’t think that even my sister knows just how much Pooh has influenced our lives.

Your dad wrote about Pooh in his creative writing class when he was in high school.  Both he and your Auntie Amy had a great teacher…Mr. Leece.  Mr Leece had a wonderful talent for helping his students open up to their inner thoughts and feelings and write about them.  I think Mr. Leece was Auntie Amy’s all time favorite teacher.  I am not certain who your Dad’s favorite teacher was.  I think you should ask him.

I wanted to share what you daddy wrote about Pooh…

Dougs story of Pooh BearThere are lines through certain phrases, questions about words, and notes from Mr Leece, but the message is intact.  The words encircled are embracing and house I think.  You can ask your dad to clarify.

Moms and Granmas save things…sometimes we save “stuff” in boxes, but more often we save memories in our hearts.  I have been accused of “saving” too much “stuff”.  I have lots of “stuff” saved in the attic, and I have even more memories saved in my heart.  I am very glad I saved this piece of notebook paper in my “stuff”.  It is more meaningful today than it was all those years ago.  I am glad I can share it with you.

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A Look Back at Halloween…

Last week was Halloween, “Beggars Night” as we called it when I grew up.  That’s when you would don your costume and go out in the streets to “Trick or Treat”.  By donning your costume, I mean layering for the cold but trying not to cover up the costume you worked so hard to create.  There was nothing worse than wearing a coat on Halloween.


I guess part of why I have been thinking about Halloween is that last weekend when Pappa Don and I drove to Ohio to celebrate my birthday, we went through Xenia.  We drove through the streets where I grew up and past the house in which I lived from the 3rd grade until I went away to Nursing School.  Because we were there just a few days before Halloween, the yards and streets were covered with leaves and the porches were decorated with Jack-O-Lanterns.  It brought back memories of Halloween when I was little.

Grandpa Clark and Granma Lucia, my mom and dad, always made popcorn balls to hand out to the kids when they rang the doorbell on Halloween.  When I grew up no one was afraid to get homemade goodies and very often families would hand out cookies and other homemade treats instead of candy.  My mom and dad would spend hours popping corn and making the hot sticky syrup to pour over the popcorn.


They would take a huge wash tub and mix the popcorn with the hot syrup (it would burn you fingers unless you buttered your hands to protect them).  They would then form the popcorn into balls.  They would then wrap each treat in wax paper and twist to close.

pop corn balls in wax

It became a tradition….every Halloween.

They even upgraded to using dum dum lollipops as a base and surrounding the sucker with the popcorn forming a popcorn ball on a stick with a sucker inside.


In later years they further upgraded to Tootsie Roll Pops in the center…Wow!

tootsie pop

I must say….this treat became so popular that kids would come back for more , pretending that they were there for the first time.  My dad would say…”I think you were already here”….but the kids would deny their ploy.

Obviously with so much demand and so many beggars….eventually the pop corn balls would run out.  The late evening arrivals would get the left over lollipops.  Over the years the kids learned to ring our doorbell early!

We had well over a hundred beggars every year….that was a lot of work in the kitchen in order to prepare.  I don’t remember my mom and dad ever complaining about this yearly project.  I do remember the laughter and my dad’s big hands and my mom’s little hands as they worked together making memories for us.  They truly enjoyed it and always made this holiday and every holiday very special.

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Halloween 2013

I think that as I have aged, my idea of a costume for Halloween has become quite lame.  Although we have a few decorations up in the house and a big pumpkin in the kitchen….(whole, not carved), I was not overly concerned about what I would be wearing on this particular day. 

Yesterday I got out the traditional “garb”.  I thought you might like a glimpse of what I wore.  First of all at work we all wear all black, which is totally appropriate for Halloween.  I, however, decided to add a touch of Halloween whimsy!

What do you think of my accessories?

halloween socks

halloween ears

I will tell you that the little girl that lives down the street…..Devon, absolutely LOVED my earrings!  She paid me the only compliment I received all day!  She’s three….


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Pooh “The Bear” was a member of our family. He arrived at Christmas, a gift for Jan. Over the years he became “real”. Jan tells us about Pooh in her blog today, but I don’t know if Jan even knew how much impact that this little guy had on me and Pappa Don and on your Dad and Auntie Amy. So loved….I can’t wait for my Christmas Card!

Living Simply By Going Backwards

Tomorrow is Halloween but things got spooky around here yesterday.

Each year lately, I have drawn an original Christmas card using colored pencils.  I generally am not inspired until the deadline approaches in late October.  I will never learn.  It is the same this year.

I have generally drawn various ornaments over the years to be the cover of the card though there have been variations.  This year I decided to use my Teddy Bear.  His name is Pooh and he was a gift from my father nearly 50 years ago.  He has been well loved and shows his age as much as I.

poohPooh sits in his rocker in various outfits depending on the season.  The outfits cover his worn out fur and his clumsily stitched repairs.

Let me explain.  My family has long recognized that Pooh is more than a stuffed toy.  In fact, I shudder to…

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