Tag Archives: Virginia

Putting Things in Perspective

University of Virginia Men’s Basketball
2019 Champions

I’ve lived in Virginia for most my younger children’s lives. My older son and his family live in Virginian. My daughter-in-law’s family lives in Virginia. My younger children are fortunate enough to receive their college educations at prestigious Virginia Universities. I love Virginia History from Sir Walter Raleigh, the Powhatan people, Washington, Lee, Jefferson, and NASA mathematician, Kathrine Johnson.

I love that Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary but had his tombstone celebrate:

Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

I consider myself a Virginian.

However, when TV sports experts announced that the recent UVA basketball championship “Will be remembered forever!” I saw a bit of exaggeration. With Americans, we’re talking about people who can’t tell you Virginia’s role in slave trading or why Washington, DC is half its planned size because they returned Virginia’s donation of land.

But they will remember the 2019 Basketball Championship?


Everybody panic! It might snow!

Buffalo, NY 2014 (Courtesy PBS)

Southeast Virginia’s TV meteorologists are in a full-blown tizzy because (gasp!) it looks like it’s going to snow. This is not necessarily bad, because TV meteorologists love to be in a tizzy over any weather event—but if you lived as boring a life as they do, wouldn’t you? The only other excoitement they get is standing outside in a storm on a live broadcast telling everyone else not to go outside.

Our neighboring states average the following annual snowfall:

West Virginia 62″

Delaware and Maryland 20.2″

North Carolina (due south of us) 7.6″

Virginia as a state averages 10.3″ per year, but the southeast (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake, etc.) averages a paltry 5.8 inches, although eighty years ago, in January 1936, there was a record snowfall of 20 inches. Wow!

So, wish your television weatherman a happy blizzard, but leave quickly or risk having it all explained in great detail to you.


Pansy wikipedia


Around here, in the fall they plant pansies.

When I was a kid, “pansy” referred to a weakling; someone who couldn’t survive a challenge.

Yet pansies are planted as a winter flower around mailboxes and around offices to give a little color to the otherwise drab winter.

While it’s true that Virginia winters are not like winters in Ohio, the Yukon or Siberia, it’s still winter. You’re not going to catch me sleeping outside.

I think pansies have not been getting the respect they deserve.

Autumn Leaves – A Different Thought

photo homtv.net

photo homtv.net

When I was growing up, people would rake up the leaves in the fall, sweep them to the curb and burn them in the street. The smell of fall was the smell of burning leaves.

Some people thought the smell was attractive. I haven’t thought of it in years. When I lived in Florida, there were few leaves to burn, and when they did it was usually an out-of-control wildfire. Burning palm trees smell like someone torched the dump. Wyoming had lots of wide open spaces unencumbered by trees, so there was no need to burn leaves.

Open fires are frowned on in Virginia. That frown comes with a citation and a fine.

Over time, up here in Ohio and Michigan, burning leaves changed. Many of the concrete or brick streets were covered over with asphalt. Asphalt tends to melt and/or burn, so burning fell out of favor. If you smelled burning leaves, it probably meant that someone parked over top of a pile of leaves and the heat from their catalytic convertor started a fire. Somehow the mix of burning car and burning leaves isn’t quite the same.

So it surprised me to find in southern Michigan – just over the line from Toledo, OH – to be exposed to the ubiquitous smell of burning leaves.

I think that burning leaves, whether autumn or tobacco, belongs to a time now past.

Minor Blessings

There are major blessings – My faith, my wife, my family – and there are minor blessings.

Some of the minor blessings I’ve had relate to places where I’ve lived. When we lived in Baton Rouge, a trip to New Orleans was as easy as a trip to the mall.

When we lived in Florida, a trip to Disney World or Universal Studios was a day trip and I watched space shuttle launches from my driveway.

While living in Wyoming, a trip to the high plains was, well, just outside the back door, and the Rocky Mountains were an easy drive.

Living in Virginia, I frequently drive by famous battlefields from the Revolutionary or Civil War. I can quickly get to the beach and with very little effort, to the mountains.

My wife and I are enjoying a long weekend together and decided to head up to Washington, DC – another quick trip. Since it is so close, and we have no specific agenda; we parked the car and will use the Metro for most, if not all travels. Who knows where we’ll end up?

I brought my camera, and haven’t taken any pictures yet, so there’s no picture today. I’ll try to post tonight, but, this is DC, so there hotel has a $10 charge per device for internet access and the next 24 hour chunk of access is her turn.

Nevertheless, the important thing is that as I’ve traveled through this life, God has blessed me at every turn. I guess it’s His way of saying, “I’m here,” and more importantly, “I care.”

Whether a blessing is earth-shatteringly large, or as small as finding something you’ve given up for lost, it’s nice to know God is here, and here for me.

He’s there for you to – and He’s never hard to find, if you just look for Him.

The Cicadas Are Coming!



The online news media has been anticipating the arrival of Brood II cicadas since the first daffodils bloomed. Here’s the coverage in a nutshell…

“There will be 30 million of them!”

“They’re coming! They’re coming!”

“Hundreds have been spotted in North Carolina” (which probably means an anonymous phone caller asked “I found this weird bug. What do you think it is?”)

“Really! They’re coming!”

“They’re hatching in southern Virginia!” (I live a few miles from the North Carolina border, which to me means southern Virginia. Ain’t seen, heard, nor smelt any yet.)

However, I like cicadas.

Anything that bumps politicians and celebrities off the news is a good thing.

Spring is Here


Andy Warhol said something about someday everyone being famous for fifteen minutes. When asked about it, he intentionally misquoted himself, different each time.

But, as usual, I digress.

In Virginia, we get 15 minutes of Spring.

I think it was yesterday.

It was 90 degrees today.

Virginia Winters

coldHaving lived in different parts of the country I notice a bit of a difference between climes. In Wyoming, unless it was below zero and there was the chance of being stuck somewhere, I wore my suit coat, shirt and tie to work all winter. In Virginia, when it gets to 50 degrees, everyone wears the down filled “Michelin Man” coats.

I have no problem with that.

At my son’s soccer game (The “Icebreaker” Tournament) today, everyone was frozen to the core at 40 degrees, including me.

My friends back in Wyoming and Ohio are laughing at me.

So be it.

However, I have robins, daffodils and neighbors working on their yards.

I use my snow shovel primarily as an extra-large dust pan.

Life is good.

The Best Laid Plans

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
– Robert Burns

This past weekend was a three day weekend because of Presidents’ Day. My wife and I decided that I should take a vacation day along with it. Four days off in a row! What opportunities! We could get so much done and then just spend some time together, maybe shopping, going out for a meal, or whatever. I had a list of things I wished to accomplish, starting with cleaning out my study. Every week I think, “Maybe next weekend I’ll get my study in order.” With four days, this was finally going to be the weekend!

Friday I realized I had a dental appointment after work, but no worries, the weekend would start immediately after that. Except that my daughter had soccer practice, and my wife was already gone with my son to his practice. When practice was over, I expected her to come running off the field so we could head home; instead newly inspired, she continued to practice some of her moves solo, and was most unhappy when I suggested we get headed.

It was now late.

Saturday offered all kinds of possibilities, although Katie had a soccer game in the morning, and Adam had a game in the evening. It had started to snow, and in true Virginia fashion, the weathermen (excuse me, meteorologists), reeking of adrenaline, were describing every possible catastrophic outcome with bated breath.

The officials at the Field House cut the second half of the soccer game by 5 minutes to clear people out early, so naturally the coach saw this as a chance to wax poetic with the team after the game.

We grabbed a couple of pizzas on the way home.

Sunday was the great “Battle of the Kitchen Sink” over which I ultimately prevailed. Barb took Adam to his flag football game while I grilled steaks so that they would be ready when everyone got home. The only thing scarier than a starving teenager is a teenager who’s starving because of athletic exertion. The meal was ready on time and casualties were averted.

Monday. The long weekend is quickly slipping away. The funny noise in my wife’s car got louder and we dropped it off for service. It was a very disturbing sound. If you listened carefully you could hear spelled out in Morse Code, “I’m going to be expensive!”

Even though there was no school, Adam’s high school was conducting tryouts for the soccer teams. This was three hours in the morning, three hours break, and then three hours in the afternoon. I had been marinating meat for several days so we could have shawarma for dinner, so I was focused on that.

Katie had several projects for school that should have been done earlier in the weekend, but now demanded her attention and she demanded mine.

Then the dog got sick.

Not terribly unusual, as any dog owner will attest.

In the early evening it was obvious that the dog was more than just sick. Barb drove and Adam carried the dog into our veterinarian’s office. After x-rays and IV fluids, the vet told us he needed to go to the emergency veterinary hospital. We waited there until almost midnight. After weighing the options presented by the vet, we decided to go ahead and have her perform emergency surgery.

To make a long story short, when Louis gets a bone, he doesn’t just gnaw on it, he completely destroys it. Well, not completely – bone shards had perforated his stomach and small intestine. The surgery seemed successful and Louis should be home tomorrow.

Now it’s Tuesday – may vacation day and day four of my four day extended weekend.

I’ve revised my “To-Do” List.

  1. Shred old “To-Do” List
  2. Unconditionally surrender

Maybe next weekend is when I’ll get my study in order.

The Battle Is Won


Here in Virginia there are many battle sites. My neighborhood is known as “Great Bridge” since the Americans turned back the British during the Revolutionary War at a bridge referred to as “The Great Bridge.” Since “Great Bridge” refers to an area, while the battle is referred to as the Battle of Great Bridge, the modern drawbridge is called the “Great Bridge Bridge.”

But I digress.

Manassas, the site of 2 great battles is in Virginia. If you were educated in the north, you may know the battles as “Bull Run.” Yorktown & Williamsburg were the sites of battles in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Yorktown was where the Revolutionary War ended and Appomattox Court House, also in Virginia, was the site of the surrender of General Lee to General Grant, ending the Civil War.

But today ended the battle of the kitchen sink, a historical occurrence, if I do say so myself.

The opening shots occurred several months ago when the spray handle to the faucet split and began to leak. I bought a “universal” replacement, which sorta-kinda worked, but not exactly. I Googled the original manufacturer and ordered the exact replacement, which was pricey, but I figured it represented the path to easiest success.

The exact replacement was exactly what I needed, except that they had changed the one fitting from coarse threads to loose threads. This meant that the replacement was exactly the right size, but there was no way to get it to work.

I went back to the “universal replacement.” The main problem was that the pressure was restricted. The company’s customer service department gave me instructions for checking it out, and determined that it was defective. They shipped a replacement.

Apparently the replacement was either delivered to the wrong address, or someone stole it.

They sent a replacement-replacement. It worked, until yesterday, when it fell off spraying water all over the kitchen.

This morning I went to the hardware to get a whole new faucet. The instructions were all in pictures that were too small to see accurately, but that didn’t matter, because the instructions didn’t match the faucet; it was the same faucet but the real one came less assembled than the pictures showed.

Eventually we figured it out.

I’ve never enjoyed plumbing, especially in the space under a sink. Imagine being crammed into an MRI Scanner, only smaller with obstructions. Now attempt to use tools in that space. That’s what it’s like working under the sink.

Eventually, thanks to my kids, we got the new faucet installed and working. Casualties were minor. Total cost with all the pieces parts, partial repairs, special tools, etc. was enough to make my congressman jealous. However, the kitchen sink is now functional.

I declared victory and dismissed the troops to return to their regular pursuits.

One last thing. Does anyone know where I can get a bronze plaque made to mount in the kitchen in order to mark the end of the Battle of the Kitchen Sink?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


As with most historical figures, as time passes, our recollection of The Reverend Doctor King changes. It’s sometimes hard to believe that so few years ago we had legally enforced segregation. That the Pentagon had separate bathrooms for blacks and whites because of Virginia law. That Norfolk shut down its public school system rather than integrate. That Rosa Parks was arrested for keeping her seat on a public bus.

Dr. King brought these ugly facts to the forefront, but did so in a way that made it impossible to ignore.

We all think of ourselves as the “good guys” and prior to the 1960s, equality was not something we wanted to think about. Whites weren’t biased, it’s just that blacks and whites were seen as different, or so we wanted to believe.

It’s true, blacks and whites are different. Not because of being black or white, but because each of us is an individual and every individual is different. It took us a long time to figure this out.

Today we look around and congratulate ourselves on making a lot of progress. We have a black president starting his second term. Neighborhoods are integrated. Mixed families are becoming more common.

However, making progress is different from reaching a goal.

It’s because Columbus found land in the New World that he’s renowned, not because he set sail. Armstrong wasn’t the first astronaut to head to the moon, he was the first to actually get there. Progress is good, but it’s only a step in the right direction.

We’re making progress, but we need to continue.

Today we may see Dr. King as an icon – an ideal. Like Washington, Lincoln, and so many others, in life he was not a marble statue but just another individual. The difference is that people like Washington, Lincoln, and King took on the challenges, took the heat, and told us what we needed to hear, whether we wanted to hear it or not. King was a man, not an icon, but that’s what makes what he did so monumental. He stood up when others feared to.

Celebrate tomorrow as a day that marks one more step forward for humanity.