Category Archives: Family

Special Gathering, Special Place, Special Person

Yesterday, Motor Man and I attended a gathering for current and former staff members at Bacon’s Castle .

You all know how special that old house is to me. (If you’re new to the blog, click on the Bacon’s Castle category to the right to read previous posts.)

I was an interpreter (tour guide) at the Castle for one season in 2000. But, my connections to the house go back much further than that.

And my son, Marshall, was a guide there for ten years, beginning in 2000.

When he and I worked there, the site director was a wonderful lady named Frances.  When Marshall first joined the staff, he was the only guy, and many of the ladies there treated him as a grandson.

So Frances became very special to our family. She granted Motor Man and me permission to be married at Bacon’s Castle and presided over the guest book at our ceremony.

Frances retired from the Castle several years ago, but Marshall and I keep in touch with her and frequently take her out for breakfast.

And yesterday, Frances was at the staff members’ gathering.  Her birthday is Tuesday, so we surprised her with a cake. She will be 91 years young.

The cake was decorated with a photo of the Castle (the one at the beginning of this blog post), and Frances was tickled and more than a little amazed that this could be done.

At the end of the cookout, the employees and their families posed for a photo on the front steps.

And, of course, I had to have my picture taken with the birthday girl.

She has plans on her actual birthday, so Marshall and I are looking forward to celebrating with her in the near future.

~These Days Of Mine~






Here We Go Again

We’re expecting a very unwelcome visitor intruder today.  Yes, Hurricane Dorian began knocking on our southeast door last night. He kept us awake quite a bit.

I’ve shared several posts in the past about hurricanes, some recent ones that we’ve experienced just in the years that I’ve been blogging. In no particular order: Irene, Hermine, Florence, Sandy, Joaqun, Harvey, Julia and Matthew. Of course, all of those weren’t major storms by the time they reached us.  And some affected the Outer Banks much more than where we live in southeast Virginia.

So, in anticipation of Dorian’s arrival, yesterday afternoon, Motor Man and I battened down the hatches, made sure we had plenty of water, food, etc, took down the bird feeders and hanging plants. AND…

We ratcheted our old boat to the even older cedar tree in our side yard.

We were given that old boat a little over ten years ago and placed it by that old cedar.  It’s seen a couple of weddings, several family reunions and a couple of “poker run parties”.  And, it’s also seen its share of hurricanes, snowfalls and nor’easters.

This picture was taken in the aftermath of one of those storms, in which we lost a good portion of the cedar. It’s a good thing Motor Man had secured the boat: during the storm, the wind and high tide moved it perpendicular to its original location.

So, Dorian, please hang a right VERY  soon.

We hope the old boat (and the cedar) are around for many more years.

*After writing this, it occurred to me that it’s rather frivolous of me to be writing about a boat and a tree after so much devastation in the Bahamas and the states south of us.  We’re definitely keeping all those affected by Dorian close in thought.

~These Days Of Mine~




The Plane, The Plane!

A couple of weeks ago, Motor Man and I learned that seaplane rides would be offered Labor Day weekend at Smithfield Station, a local restaurant/hotel/marina. We immediately knew it was something we’d like to do.

We were waiting on the dock when the plane arrived Friday afternoon.

And after we had donned our life vests, had our picture taken. We wore headsets during the flight, so we could talk with each other and our pilot, Marc.

It was such a beautiful day for flying. There are so many tributaries in our area, which of course, look very different from the air.

We flew right by our house.  Marc even circled around a second time, so I could get plenty of pictures.

I took a short video of our landing back at Smithfield Station. It was smooth as silk.

Flying in a seaplane was something that neither of us had ever thought about, but it was a great experience.

~These Days Of Mine~






“It’s The Roots”

In my last post before the blogging break, I mentioned that Motor Man and I were, once again, hosting my family reunion this year.  My mom’s family started the tradition of a reunion many years before I was born.  And at one point, the first Saturday in August was pegged as “THE” day, so everyone could plan their summer around the reunion. That’s how important it was to everyone in the family.

My mom was one of twelve, and during the reunion’s “heyday”, there were upwards of 70 folks attending. But, as the twelve children and their spouses passed away, the size of the reunions dwindled. There were a few years when there was no reunion.

But, my generation, the first cousins, seems to have rekindled an interest in seeing each other at least once a year.  So, at this year’s reunion, we had a total of 19 to attend.

Thanks to my cousin, Carol, who lives in Pennsylvania, I had something special to share at the reunion. Carol is the daughter of my  mom’s youngest brother, Stanley and his wife, Betty.  Aunt Betty was very involved in the family, researching genealogy and recording attendance at the reunions for many years.

Aunt Betty passed away two years ago, and in going through her belongings, Carol found the reunion “books”. And she contacted me to ask if I’d like to have them.


Although, as I mentioned, the tradition of the reunions began many years ago, apparently the idea to record attendance didn’t come about until 1979. These are the only books Carol found, and that’s the earliest date. Several years are recorded in each book.

Perhaps one of the more meaningful entries for me was this one from 1980. It was Marshall’s first reunion; he was 6 weeks old. How proud I was to write his name in the book.

My cousins enjoyed looking through the books, although it was bittersweet  seeing the signatures of so many of our loved ones who have since passed on. It was amazing that, for each of us, our mother’s signature was the first thing we saw on a page.

Carol and I were messaging each other recently, and she mentioned how much work is involved in hosting the reunion.  And I responded that that was true. As hosts, we provide hot dogs, condiments, beverages and paper products. And in addition to that, we of course, want the house, the garage and the yard all as tidy as can be.

I loved her  reply:

“And honestly deep down, we all know it’s not the house we are there for …
it’s the roots.”

~These Days Of Mine~


Break Time!

During the next two-to-three weeks, my blog posts will be sporadic…or maybe just non-existent.

Motor Man and I are coming up on a busy time: preparing for and hosting my family reunion,

a couple of boat races,

and perhaps a little “adventure” or two.

With life being so hectic right now, I think it will be easier to just put the blog on hold for a little while.

So, stay cool, enjoy your summer, and I’ll be back soon with, hopefully, some interesting blog material!

~These Days Of Mine~

The Little Yellow Bench

Some time ago (perhaps a couple of years or more?),  I saw, in front of a nearby antique shop, a little faded yellow wooden bench. I don’t recall the details of that day, but either the shop was closed right then, or I didn’t have time to stop. But I called within the next day or two to ask about the bench.

And was told that it had just been sold. Yes, I was disappointed.

A few days later,  on my way to Marshall’s house, I spotted, in the yard of one of his neighbors….. the little yellow bench. Sigh.

Every time I was in the area, I’d look over at that little bench.  Sometimes it was in the front yard, then in the side yard. Sometimes it would be turned over from the wind. But each time I’d pass by that house, I’d look  for the little yellow bench.

About a month or so ago, as I rode by, I thought the bench was missing. But then, I spotted it: “dumped” upside down in an overgrown area near the house. (Let me just say that the homeowners don’t keep the tidiest yard.)  I decided then that, should  I ever see one of them outside, I would stop and ask if they’d like to sell the little yellow bench.

Friday afternoon, Motor Man and I were in the area, and there were two people standing in the front yard, chatting.  We stopped, and learned that it was the homeowner and his neighbor. I asked if he would like to sell the little yellow bench.

He said that I probably didn’t want it; that it had some issues, it was a little wobbly, etc. So he dragged it out of the flowerbed, pulling up weeds and vines along with it.  I asked what he’d take for it, and he said he’d give us $10 to take it away.  I offered to give him $20 for it, but he refused, and helped us load it in our truck.

Poor little dirty yellow bench.

You don’t know how long I’ve had my eye on you.

So the next day, I gave it a gentle bath, decided to angle it differently on our deck, and added a little throw pillow. The next step is to protect it with a clear finish to prevent further damage from the elements.

She’s definitely looking better than when she was  upside down in an overgrown patch.  And I’m definitely happy to have finally brought home that little yellow bench.

(And now that I’ve written this entire post about the little yellow bench, I’m thinking it’s actually more of a love seat.…)

~These Days Of Mine~





Canada Bound

(No, not us.)

Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time know that my Motor Man builds performance engines for hydroplanes (race boats) as well as cars.

One of our engine customers is scheduled to leave today for a big hydroplane race in Valleyfield, Canada.  So things have been busy at our shop this week, getting everything ready.

Here are the specs about this particular boat:  it is a Grand Prix Hydroplane with a 468 cu. in. engine with 1200 horsepower. It burns 6 gallons of alcohol per MINUTE during a race. The engine turns 8000 rpm, and the blower (supercharger) turns 9600.  Straightaway speed is around 170-190 mph.

Motor Man thought it would be fun if I actually sat in the boat. There’s a ladder to climb up on this thing. It’s about 29 feet long and 14 feet wide and tilts on the trailer for transport on the highway.

Whew, I made it up there.

I cannot imagine being enclosed in this capsule and driving those speeds. (As a side note, all hydroplane drivers are required to periodically pass a “dunk test”.  The driver (wearing a helmet) is strapped in a capsule, it’s pushed over in a swimming pool, and they are to escape.  Speaking of the unimaginable…).  I found a You-tube showing a dunk test. It’s a bit lengthy, so you may want to just fast forward to the interesting scary part.)

It was all fun and games until they closed (and latched) the lid on the capsule. I agreed to that happening with strict orders that they only leave it closed for ONE SECOND.

So good luck and safe travels this weekend to our customer, Jim, and his driver, Tony.

~These Days Of Mine~