Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I have been so blessed these past 2 years to have a number of Red-Breasted Nuthatches in my yard. These little, perhaps even tiny, birds are so much fun to watch. They visit my feeders daily, but the fun is to see them running up and down the redbud outside my computer window. Very distracting! They are often in shots of other birds, but being so small – and cardinals being twice their size and so bright, they usually remain unseen. But, yesterday, as I was taking a few shots of something else outside, I turned around and was literally face to face with a little nuthatch. Did I mention they are brave little souls? The White breasted Nuthatch will fly away if you are in their visibility range, or if one of the cats moseys by… the Carolina Wrens will go up higher or to a bush about 30 feet away and start ‘scolding’ at the top of its lungs. But the Nuthatch just sits quietly and watches. Perhaps it is curious, too. These shots were taken from a distance of 5 to 3 feet away. Punkie and Spook followed me out into the yard to see what was happening. I was thrilled to see Punk come out, but that is another story. He has been quite ill. Anyway, I digress, as usual. My guess is that this is a female as the breast is quite pale. I love that blue color. But, there she sat, and posed, don’t you think? DSC_2220DSC_2224 DSC_2225

With Spook under the feeders, but not really interested… and Punkie right behind me. He is showing his age.

DSC_2226 DSC_0003

And an old shot for size comparison… find this feeder and compare with the size of the cardinals.


Sunday, March 24, 2013


Where is Spring, you say! Here we have daffodils, pansies, even the forsythia is opening… the late camellias are starting and I swear I saw a little color on a couple early azaleas. I did! But if you listened to that dumb groundhog up in Philadelphia, well, I am sure you must be disappointed. You can see a picture of this liar on this blog:

Very possumly Phil should be retired – a suggestion that he can’t refuse, kind of retirement… I, the Onley Proud member of the Possum Prognosticator’s Club, President of Possum Patrol (always on the lookout for lying DSC_1909muskrats), and possumly the most accurate Predictor of a Pussumly early spring… I got laughed at, guffawed at even, when I said Spring would indeed be late this year. HA! But who gets the last chortle? MOI! As I curl up all warm and toasty in my DSCN28681heated nest down the street from those nasty muskrats, snug but not smug… Oh, no, not me… I remember the disbelief when I saw MY shadow and ran for dear life back into my snugness on the carport Pledging not to come back out until spring really arrives… or some delicious cat food gets placed in the dish a couple feet outside my door. Whichever comes first. We possums may get blinded easily by headlights but we’re not fools! My human CO (Can Opener) still has her snow shovel out just a few feet on the other side of the heated water dish. She even has a de-icer in the ground level birdbath, yes indeedy.

But I digress… Just how accurate is that dumb groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil? According to StormFax Weather Almanac, Phil has been right 39 percent of the time since 1887. It is amazing that he still has a job. I, on the other hand can never be replaced. Not only is my Prediction record Perfect, but where else can you find an animal this cute who eats copperheads for snacks, catches mice and rats and all sorts of buglies and does NOT ever get rabies? Can you beat that with a stick? Impossumble. 

DSC_2203 In spite of all the wet weather we have had here, and I do mean wet – I mean, look at the yard! In the summertime this is where grass gets cut! We would need pontoons on the mower to get thru here! Or, maybe we could sell it to some unsuspecting Yankee as waterfront property, huh? No?

My human will tell you, “It always snows on the daffodils.” DSC_2208DSCN1336 DSC_2207 DSC_2209 I bet you can check back to March of each year and find a picture of some bright yellow beauties bowed over with a layer of snow.DSC_2179 My DSC_0857human also says, “Count your Cards,” to see how long winter will last. Translation: the more Cardinals at your feeders, the longer the winter. Unh huh, check it out. I taught her all these things. I did. She is not as impossumble as most humans. I am right Proud of her. Pay attention to Nature I told her. The more berries, the colder the winter.  Then there is the nutty predictor – the more nuts, the worse the winter will be, or the thicker shells, or the fatter… you name it.  Whatever. They are talking about edible nuts, aren’t they? Not humans… most of them are nuts, it seems. The point is, it is 4 days after the vernal equinox, and if you look real hard, it is snowing. Either that or these trees got dandruff!

(If you were a possum you would find that hairlarious!)pitaYawn

OK, so it is only 5 snowflakes an hour right now. Hang on. Just wait! You’ll see!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013


22 Things Happy People Do Differently

There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, smiling and content with their life. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning.

Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it’s impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally.

Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth.

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

Sorry, can’t give credit for this one – it came in an email with no credit given… possum

from a PAPER in the UK!


Virginia burning: Who is the arsonist of Accomack County?

A serial arsonist is bringing terror to rural communities on America's eastern seaboard

Rupert Cornwell

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

It’s not quite the Crime (or rather Crimes) Of The Century. But a remote corner of rural Virginia has spawned a mystery that baffles police and has driven locals to prayer: who is responsible for a plague of arson attacks that have been occurring roughly every other night since last November?

So far, no one has been killed or injured, and the targets are mainly empty and derelict buildings: abandoned houses, barns or garages. But the number of attacks is staggering: at least 72 in the last four months, the bulk of them along or near US Route 13, the highway that links Accomack County on the state’s Eastern Shore with the outside world.

Systematic arson is far from unknown in America. Detroit, for instance, underwent the fiery ordeal of “Devil’s Night” on 30 October for decades, when vandals would set ablaze scores of the abandoned structures disfiguring a metropolis whose population has halved in 50 years.

But Accomack County is no crime-infested urban jungle. Though English explorers first landed there in 1603 – four years before the establishment of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the US, on the opposite side of Chespeake Bay – it is among the poorest and most thinly populated parts of Virginia. Barely 33,000 inhabitants are scattered over 450 square miles of overwhelmingly agricultural land, much of it wetlands and flat coastal inlets. Now, it appears, it is also home to one of the country’s most prolific arsonists.

Most of the attacks happen at night, between 6pm and midnight. Weekends are most popular (14 attacks on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday, nine on a Tuesday, eight on a Thursday, seven on Friday and six on Wednesdays.) Police have tried everything to crack the case, including a tip line and a reward of $25,000 (£17,000) – big money in these parts – and random checkpoints on local roads.

But to no avail. The person, or persons, responsible is still at large, and knows the lie of the land. Some of the fires appear to have been set so that they are undetected for an hour or two. “Whoever is doing this is really doing their homework,” an Accomack County official told The Washington Post.

At the best of times, serial arson is a mysterious business, and this particular outbreak has spurred all manner of theories. Some suggest that the original perpetrator has inspired copycats. Some put it down to thrill-seeking. Others say the fires are the work of a former soldier, policeman or ex-firefighter, with inside or specialist knowledge. The universal assumption, though, is that he/she (or they) is a local.

“We feel certain the person or persons responsible for these fires is a resident of Accomack County and is known to local residents,” Captain Tim Reibel, of the Virginia police, told reporters two days after Christmas, when the number of suspected arsons had already reached 38. Which makes it all the odder that after four months, in a community inevitably described as “tight-knit,” no culprit has yet come to light.

Conceivably, the arsonist is acting out of a desire to rid the area of ancient eyesores – such as the Whispering Pines Motel on US 13, once a bustling local hub but long since derelict, and which went up in flames on the evening of 12 March.

Or maybe the person is acting out of a grudge, a common motive for arson. “Someone thinks they have been treated unfairly, and is seeking revenge,” Charlie Russell, whose family built the original motel in 1932, told a TV station. What is unquestionable, however, is the strain on the county’s police and firemen, even with the assistance of state law enforcement and now, it is said, of FBI agents expert in arson cases.

Firefighters in Accomack are mainly volunteers and overworked. “It’s been months of a living hell,” Jeff Beall, fire chief for the small town of Tasley, said. “It’s taking a toll on family life. It is taking a toll on the station’s financial situation and our personal financial lives.” There’s not even been time to tabulate the extra hours worked, let alone raise donations to help pay for them.

And the mystery remains. After 18,000 man hours devoted to the case, police claim to have “several strong leads,” but have made no arrests. In the meantime 100 people attended a prayer vigil at a local school this week, at which the pastor read from Psalm 37: “Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of those who do wrong.”


How sad that we made the news all the way over on the other side of the Atlantic.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

the “PINES”

I just feel the need to reminisce… and to share more old pictures of the Pines as we all called the Whispering Pines locally. Most of these shots have been archived by Kirk Mariner, some  are old postcards… whisp pines Kirk Mariner paper

   whisp brochure whisp cottage km Whisp Pines old kirk   Whisp pines old motel KMwhisp pines oldWhispering Pines cardwhisp lobby km  whisp P din. rm KM and this is where I learned to love camellias, especially Pink Perfection.DSCN1232 And that began my love of landscaping. I wonder what those old bushes look like today. I wonder if I could get back in there and take some cuttings…….

And the “NEW” part added after the Russell’s sold it. This shoddy workmanship lasted about 10 years before it just rotted in place. It took 50 years for the original buildings to get this bad… 50 years and some hungry termites!

Whisp new part Jay Diem 

And what is left……. the old concrete blocks…

Whisp Pines fire Malissa WattersonWhisp Pines burned

In answer to a few questions I have received, the Pines is about 3 miles from my house. It was an old friend, our 2nd dining room, I can still name the waitresses, and am still friends with one of them!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Whispering Pines

 In Loving Memory

Perhaps “In Loving Memory” sounds too strong for a building, but, well, it just seems to fit in this instance. However, for many of us who have lived here on the Eastern Shore long enough to consider ourselves “shoremen” – or shorewomen as the case may be, we remember the Pines lovingly… going there on a date, before the prom, or with your family after church.Whisp Pines dining rm For many of us, it was our special dining room, where we would take company for a special meal, where friends would stay when they passed thru the shore. I dunno, it just seemed kind of our most famous landmark here south of the Assateague lighthouse. Folks have called it elegant, gracious, a symbol of fine dining, fine living… As a kid, I learned about camellias there. I saw my very first Pink Perfection at the Pines. Folks used to “sneak” out back after dinner and swipe (pruning, we called it) a nice bouquet to take home from the awesome collection of magnificent blooms. From the highway, in season, one noticed the huge azaleas on both sides of the road (old 13.) They were probably the first azaleas I ever really noticed since they were so big and beautiful and there were so many of them. I decided back then that my place would one day look like that. And I have done my best to make it happen.Whispering Pines card

A number of years ago, the last of the older generation of Russell’s died and the property was sold. None of the family wanted the stress of running the motel and most famous dining spot on the shore. Perhaps they all knew they would never be able to do it as well as the previous generation… they all had other interests… and maintaining the standards that preceded them, well, it would have indeed been quite a task. Anyway, the property was sold… I will not mention the man’s name who bought it, as he is not worth being remembered. He came down here and took an Eastern Shore icon, a treasure, and ran it into the ground in almost a year. He fired all the staff bringing in folks with different standards, replacing a chef with a short order cook, eliminated tablecloths, replaced glassware with plastic… then cut down about 50 pine trees, ripped out dozens of azaleas, and put up a modern tacky, poorly built truck-stop type motel alongside the elegant colonial architecture of the older Pines. The new staff was, um, not in the least schooled in Southern genteel courtesy… they were schooled in, um, a brand of room service we were unaccustomed to. The Soda Shoppe became a bar. Somebody actually painted the word MOTEL on the roof of the new addition. The locals who had eaten and patronized the Pines for most of their lives not only avoided it like the plague, but got so we averted our eyes so we could not see what it had become.

It did not take many years before the shoddy workmanship showed itself in the added on motel. The roof caved in, sections were not repaired, just closed. And in time, the whole place was all but abandoned. It is hard to believe that there is an entire generation now that has no idea where or what The Whispering Pines is, or was.

Anyway, we here on the Shore have been plagued with an arsonist – or arsonists – as some of the fires are copycat burnings. We have had approximately 66 fires since November. The arsonist took a break over Whispering Pines WAVYThanksgiving and again from Christmas Eve until mid- January. Obviously we are dealing with a very sick and angry individual – but I am sure you know the profiling that goes with these types of individuals. On the good side, if there is one, we are now minus about 60 old abandoned buildings – tho a few of buildings actually still in use have been burned, too, including a hanger about a half a mile from my house that still had electricity in it, and outside light burning, and a plane in one side. It was definitely not an old abandoned building.

Night after night a spotter plane flies over watching for new fires. The police have a couple of promising leads as to who it might have been… you know the profile. Cameras are “hidden” around some buildings and the guy has been taped. We just need Abby from NCIS to work on that image and we will have him. Perhaps… in time. They are pretty sure they know approximately where he lives.  

Whisp Pines burnedWe all wondered when “he” would get around to the Pines… and last night he did. I have borrowed these shots but am not sure who should get credit. The oldest picture is a post card from the Pines during its hey-day. I think the fire pictures are from WAVY TV 10.

I drove by this morning after feeding Charlie’s cats. I just had to see it. I have avoided even looking at it for so long, it hurt so much. One of the Russell boys was there along with a fireman keeping watch as it smoldered. He and I hugged and shed a few tears and shared stories of our youth and the many hours spent at the Pines, the folks who once worked there, even remembering the cars some of them drove. Really, it was just like being at a funeral.

Oh, the memories…

A satellite image of the Whispering Pines area in Accomack County, VA. Click the map image to see more detail and to pan and zoom.