Tag Archives: Charlottesville

We live in Arlington

the view from our window

the view from our window

We live in Arlington,
We live in Arlington,
Right next to Washington, DC!

These lines come from a little song that our children learned when they were (at various times) in about second grade in Arlington Public Schools.  Our oldest child, Sarah, started public school Montessori at Hoffman-Boston School  in 1978. Our youngest child, Billy, graduated from Yorktown High School in 2005. So, you can see we spent a goodly amount of time in Arlington. There was a stint in Denver in the early 1980s and then in 2006 Tom and I moved to Charlottesville. There we gardened, we walked everywhere in town, we drove those back roads (Old Plank Road, Poorhouse Road, Hebron Church Road…), we listened to music, and we loved our neighbors. During this era, we did another stint in Denver and we also traveled many roads (55,000 miles’ worth) in our camper.

Now we have come back here, right next to Washington, DC. We plan on more road trips, from our new/old base of Arlington. Here, too, we will garden, we will walk, and we will listen to the music (Jazz last weekend). We will go to Shakespeare, lectures, museums, and hang out with our children and friends, whom we love.

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington, Virginia

Below are some of the things I like about Arlington.

Actually, I am struggling with this writing.  I want to tell you about how Sarah and Robert’s elementary school (Drew Model School)  was so big into process and project-based learning. I used to tell folk stories to the children and go on nature walks with them.  I remember how Billy loved to wear the monarch butterfly suit at Long Branch Nature Center. Also, I think about how years later, my friend and fellow teacher Donna and I would walk along the stream at Long Branch with the immigrant parents and their children. Dusk came and the bats started flying. I remember one of our teachers’ assistants, Dan. He was a young Vietnamese man and he would swing with the kids–like the child he almost was. When I think of those evenings, I want to cry for the loveliness of it.

birds outside our window

birds outside our window

frog in a Long Branch Pond

frog in a Long Branch pond

For the first several years in Arlington we didn’t have much money. However, even at the beginning, in 1978, we did have money for Brenner’s Bakery doughnuts (sadly defunct these many years) down the street.  Later on, mostly in the 1980s, kindly women would cluck over our children at Korean, Vietnamese, and Salvadoran restaurants and serve us delicious meals for a little bit of money. Many years later–in the late 1990s–my adult students from Bosnia, El Salvador, and Vietnam made food for Sarah and Mike’s wedding feast.*

I think I am working up to a more focused comment.  I loved and I do love the diversity of Arlington.  At the Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP), I taught adult immigrants and refugees from over 80 countries.  Even now, when Arlington is much trendier than in the old days, I look out from my Starbucks table and see people from everywhere walk by on Clarendon Boulevard.

PHO 75, Arlington, VA

PHO 75, Arlington, VA

We live close to Washington, DC. Since Tom and I moved back here a little over a month ago, we have been jogging: Jogging past the Netherlands Carillon, past Arlington Cemetery, and along the Potomac River.  Sometimes we cross the Memorial Bridge–trotting straight towards the Lincoln Memorial, left past the Kennedy Center, on to Georgetown, and over the Key Bridge back home.  What can I say? I have a degree in political science and another in American Studies: I love being here.

Not even getting into the rest of the natural, cultural, and historical opportunities, but we love the Smithsonian Institution. We have been visiting the museums, the zoo, the gardens and the Folklife Festival non-stop for almost 40 years and we never get tired of it, and the price is still right.

musician outside of the Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

musician outside of the Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

After 9/11, we saw the Pentagon burning.  You have probably figured that I am not a big military type, but this was my home.  I cried for days. Later when Tom and I joined Arlington’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), every one of our instructors from the Arlington County Fire Department had been at the Pentagon after the attack. I am honored to have learned from these (and I never use this word lightly) heroes.

Rosslyn, Arlington, September 2017

Rosslyn, Arlington, September 2017

Enough! I love Milford, MI and Lake Superior; those red rocks and wild mountains of the west; Charlottesville and its funky music heart, but I am happy to be back home in Arlington.

Arlington County Fair

Arlington County Fair

community resources

community resources

Watergate: the Rosslyn Garage

Watergate: the Rosslyn Garage

Rosslyn cityscape

Rosslyn cityscape

rainbow from our balcony in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA

rainbow from our balcony in Rosslyn, Arlington, VA

*Also, our friend Sharon’s mom brought a Southern Maryland specialty, spinach-stuffed ham.

For (and from) Charlottesville, Virginia

Good friends and neighbors, flowers and trees are more beautiful and stronger than hate and  ignorance. That’s the way it has been so far in my life. Charlottesville, may you heal quickly.*

June: black-eyed Susan vine

June: black-eyed Susan vine

monarch butterfly on zinnia

monarch butterfly on zinnia

 

crocus

crocus

Lisa and Andy (City Market #7)

Lisa and Andy (City Market #7)

caterpillar on black and blue salvia with black-eyed Susan

caterpillar on black and blue salvia with black-eyed Susan

Dogwood Festival Parade, Charlottesville, Virginia

Dogwood Festival Parade, Charlottesville, Virginia

summer garden

summer garden

Tom's rose, Awakening

Tom’s rose, Awakening

City Market #5

City Market #5

Real Charlottesville

Real Charlottesville

tulips and birdbath, Charlottesville

tulips and birdbath, Charlottesville

crape myrtle and oakleaf hydrangea

crape myrtle and oakleaf hydrangea

*All of these photos were taken in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Bee’s Knees and Bears Ears

So far this morning I have: skimmed the front section of the New York Times, worked on yesterday’s crossword puzzle, swept the floor (picking up stray oat shards that fell off the bran muffins), emptied the dishwasher, washed and dried clothes, plumped up the bath rugs in the dryer, tried to clean the cushions for the porch chairs, and corresponded with friends and relatives. All of this was not in an effort to be neat and efficient, but to pile up more tasks in order to avoid finishing this blog post. I began this post over three weeks ago, but I have not wanted to finish it. Part of this reluctance may be because, especially in this over-heated political climate, I want to avoid writing about political topics. As my friend Sharon said once, I do like to please people. I think, though, the bigger stumbling block is that I don’t know how to synthesize my ideas and feelings to express them succinctly in these few paragraphs. Synthesized or not, succinct or not, I am done waffling. Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies*, I’m going back in.

By the time I was 20 years old, I had pretty much given up the idea that politics could or would save the world. Earlier on, I had thought that non-violent political and social engagement could do that. That’s why I majored in political science. That’s why I had canvassed for Martin Luther King Jr. and had rallied against the war in Vietnam, had tried to organize to save Biafran babies, and had written about preventing the Alaskan pipeline. Well, the war in Vietnam did end eventually, but, in significant ways, the other causes haven’t worked out well.

I was 20 when the news of the Kent State massacre wafted into Zion Canyon where I was living. I felt pain and outrage for a bit and then the canyon and the sky took me back.

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon

I spent three summers on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Back then we were mostly isolated from the news. Instead of the news, we listened to the wind in the ponderosas and the calls of the ravens.

ravens over the Grand Canyon

ravens over the Grand Canyon

When I was 22, I taught public school for one year in Page, Arizona, just outside the Navajo Nation. This was challenging for me because of loneliness, school bureaucracy, and fairly rampant ethnocentrism. This experience was also an honor for me because of the land outside my classroom, some caring colleagues, and the students themselves.

Those early years in wild country passed quickly and I settled in close to the ground with my husband, my children, and whatever little bit of land I had to garden. This is where I have mostly remained. However, sometimes I force myself to bring my head up.

our garden

our garden

Bee’s knees: Already this spring, I have seen a few wasps, several bumblebees, several types of native bees, one cabbage butterfly, a couple of yellow swallowtails (or one twice) and another unidentified butterfly flying across the street. A few blocks away, I saw what looked to be a couple of honeybees among the flowers. I am hopeful that we legions of organic gardeners and farmers, and other assorted tree huggers will stem the tides of poison, disequilibrium, and destruction of our earth and its inhabitants. I plant my garden and I look (and find) signs of hope. Recently, I moved a clay pot that had over-wintered on my front porch and I startled a red-backed salamander. About a week ago, Tom discovered a garter (most likely) snake in one of my rock piles. Two evenings ago, I attended a presentation about non-honeybee pollinators at Ivy Creek Natural Area here in Charlottesville. It appears that many varieties of native bees and other arthropods are continuing to pollinate the flora for us, but we need to plant more native plants, and, of course, refrain from using poison.

bee and flower, Idaho Botanical Garden

bee and flower, Idaho Botanical Garden

Bear Ears: Ever since it came in the mail last Saturday (now almost a month ago), I’ve been wearing my “Protect Bears Ears” tee shirt to the gym and around the neighborhood.The few people that have commented on it seem to think this is an initiative to make sure that bears have adequate hearing protection.

No, it’s not about that. I have brought my head up from my comfortable dirt, rocks, and plants and I am becoming political again. Bears Ears is the name for an area of Southeastern Utah, east and south of Canyonlands National Park. Many Native Americans and environmental groups are calling on President Obama to name this area a national monument through the Antiquities Act. Some people  advocate leaving the control (and designation of use now and in the future) of this approximately 1.9 million acres of land to the state of Utah. Since I am adverse to, well, adversity, it’s a relief that people around here don’t seem to know what my shirt is referring to.  Confession: A couple of weeks ago realizing that many other gym goers’ tee shirts sport names of races, vacation spots, or bars, I chickened out and started wearing my wordless tee shirts again. This week, I toughened up and tried to put my body where my heart was.

My heart is with the native people of the Colorado Plateau—Diné, Hopi, Ute, Zuni and others. In many instances back in Page, my students, their families, and their cultures were not respected. It looks like there are still some people now who disrespect and disregard the cultures and histories of the groups who have lived in the Colorado Plateau hundreds (and thousands) of years before the pioneers settled there in the latter half of the 1800s.

bullet holes in pictographs, Southern Utah

bullet holes in pictographs, Southern Utah

My heart is with the rock, sand, and sky of Southern Utah. I believe that this land should be preserved for all the inhabitants of this earth. I hope that President Obama will designate the Bears Ears a national monument.

Southeastern Utah

Southeastern Utah

There. I have said my piece and I am hunkering down close to the ground again.

protect Bears Ears

protect Bears Ears

For more information about Bears Ears, please see: The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, The Grand Canyon Trust, and many articles in the Salt Lake Tribune and other periodicals available online.

* Thank you, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg (see the introduction to Howl and Other Poems).

 

I Wonder As I Wander

Going-to-the-Sun Mountain

Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

I was (still am) the youngest of five children. One of the benefits of this set-up was that I  listened to rock and roll from a tender age. I remember Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” from Cooke School in Detroit. I remember Van Morrison from 6th grade in Milford, mostly because I had a friend named G-L-O-R-I-A. One of my older brothers and his friends used to sing rock a cappela on the school bus.  Another brother annoyed me because he always demanded that I answer the question, “Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?…Who was that man? I’d like to shake his hand… (Barry Mann, 1961).” I don’t know that man’s name, but this morning I am happy to report a breakthrough on a similar venerable rock and roll question:

I Wonder, wonder who, who ooh ooh who
Who wrote the book of love?
The Monotones, 1958

The answer, I now believe, is Stevie Wonder. Last night, my husband, Tom, our next door neighbors Mark and Ward, and another (roughly) 10,000 people at the John Paul Jones Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia jammed to Stevie’s skill, power, grace, and love until after the midnight hour. I can’t sing, I can’t dance—my hiking boots stuck to the floor in best WASP-of-a-certain-age-style—but still, I danced and sang with Stevie until I was hoarse and tears were in my eyes. I could go on and on, but, well, maybe I will just a little bit: the geniality, the humor, the call and response, the steel guitar, the harmonica, intertwining The Star Spangled Banner and Lift Every Voice and Sing in the funkiest and best version of either I’ve ever heard, and on and on.

I do go on, but here’s the take away: Stevie called on us all to love more and hate less. Yes, he referred to the Paris massacre and the gun violence ongoing in this country. I am going to try to accept his challenge. Note: When I say “called on,” I don’t mean that lovey-dovey ideas were just floating in the ether.  I mean Stevie explicitly gave us our marching orders: He told us that we need to start going forward, not backward.

What I didn’t write: Since September 25, I’ve wanted to write about finally getting on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I read the  poet, Vachel Lindsay, sometime in the mid-1960s. Lindsay, more noted for such works as “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight,” and “General William Booth Enters into Heaven,” also wrote a poem called “Going-to-the-Sun” in a volume of the same name.  I’ve searched for the snippet of poetry that had inflamed my imagination all those years ago. I haven’t been able to unearth it yet, but more on that in another post.

Then I came back to Charlottesville and started sifting through books and memorabilia like I have for the last five years. Do I keep this or that piece of paper or shred of cloth? What do I do with the remaining mountains of teaching materials?

A piece of paper

A piece of paper

Then, last night with Stevie, I had to think, yet again, of the innocents and their blood–in this country and around the world–and of the refugees.

Likely I will write some more about poets and rock and roll, my travels, and my memories. Not today, though. Stevie brought it all home for me last night. I know now which sun I am really traveling to:

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” James Weldon Johnson (poem to music, 1900)

I’m Starting Now: I love you.

 

Report: Flora, Fauna, Music

Although, unlike the kids in my neighborhood, I am not going back to school tomorrow, I felt the need to write a report on how I spent my summer. Here it is.

Flora

We had enough rain (more than enough for the grapes and the Italian basil) and the weather was mostly moderate. After all these years of  living in Virginia, “moderate” is my word for not so damn hot and humid for so long that I can’t stand it. Notable elements of the garden include:

  • the best crop of green beans since the early 1980s—bush and pole,
  • the best crop of green chilies in at least seven years—New Mexico style, not Anaheim,
  • crazy, prolific summer squash, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s “tromboncino”—the plants took over most of the garden until I finally hacked the vines back and offered the fruits to passersby,
  • tomatoes only pretty good—they suffered from being overrun by the rampaging tromboncinos,
  • Tom’s rose, “Awakening”—I had nothing to do with it, but I got to see and smell it (his moonflowers are just beginning to bloom in the night and they bring the sphinx moths, more on fauna, below)

    green ciles

    green chiles

Fauna

Sometimes I have trouble separating the fauna from the flora. I like to think that is because I am an integrative person. Maybe that’s why I always grow my herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables together. Whatever the reason, my jumbled gardens have worked for me and for the fauna.

  • we had first the bumblebees, and then, slow to show up, the honey bees did come,
  • cabbage butterflies, skippers, red admirals, and, now, one monarch (I’ve had a jubilant crop of native milkweed—more than in years) I’m hoping more monarchs will arise from the jumble, and
  • cardinals nested by the porch, then disappeared, later the catbirds came, some wrens and gold finches, always the sparrows, and the crows still keep watch
monarch butterfly on zinnia

monarch butterfly on zinnia

Special Sighting: Last week Tom and I camped at Loft Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. We took a short hike along the Appalachian Trail. On the trail, a long, lovely, lean timber rattlesnake crossed our path. He didn’t hurry and he didn’t rattle.

timber rattlesnake, Shenandoah National Park

timber rattlesnake, Shenandoah National Park

Music

Because I am an integrative person (so I think), I have trouble separating the fauna and the  flora from the music. This summer we had a very successful music harvest.

  • In June, we heard and saw Paul McCartney. I was amazed, no maybe about it. I kept thinking this old guy is going to need a break, but all he ever did was pause briefly to switch between guitars and the keyboard and the voice. Richer than Croesus or even Richie Rich, older even than I am, still, McCartney sang every song (some were old, some were new, some were even from video games) as if he meant them. He sang a cappella about a blackbird sitting on the edge of night. He told us that “we can work it out” and we believed him.
  • In early August, we walked to the downtown mall to hear and watch Garrison Keillor. This performance was part of his valedictory tour, “America the Beautiful.” I liked many parts of the show and, of course being an English major type myself, I am a fan. I have loved the way Garrison—may I call you Garrison? As a fellow mid-westerner I feel so close—walks slowly up and down the aisles singing songs with us. When we sang, “I’ve been working on the Railroad,” I was transported back to the car rides of my childhood and to singing with my friends in school or in lilac trees. Garrison sang, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Yes, here 70 miles north of Richmond and he sang, I do believe, all the verses. I want to mention that I knew at least parts of all of the verses. I think that comes from my latter-day abolitionist, overly righteous younger self and to my reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and To Kill a Mockingbird  (many times)  during my formative years. I will remember singing with you, Garrison. Thank you.
  • Last Saturday, Tom and I went up to Wintergreen Resort for the Blue Ridge Mountain Music Fest. When we are in Charlottesville, we attend every August. Each year we fall under the spell of the flowers and the butterflies, the blue hills, and the music that seems integral to the place. All the groups we heard sang and played with that wonderful precision that we’ve come to associate with old-time music and bluegrass. This year, though, it was the group, Balsam Range, that blue us away. I took a dozen photos hoping to catch the passion, the skill, the humor, and the love (sentimental, plaintive, but heartfelt) in their songs. The photos didn’t work out, so now I need to figure out what to say. In their own genre and in their own ways, the artists of Balsam Range seemed as world-class as McCartney. Like Garrison, the group sang a song about the Civil War. This time, though, the sensibility was from the Confederate side. It was a song about  a young man about to die a few miles outside of Birmingham. He pleads with the listener to tell his mother that he had been a brave soldier and that he would miss that life he would never have with his sweetheart back home. As I learned time and time again from my refugee and immigrant students, it’s the people close to the ground (on either side of the conflict) that die in war–the farmers, the storekeepers, the women, and the children.

We are part of the flora and the fauna, the music, and the blue and rocky hills.  We are integrative types, you and I, and, perhaps we are lucky to be here. We were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Mary's Rock Shenandoah National Park

Mary’s Rock Shenandoah National Park

Excuses

If my math is correct, it has been 48 days since I put a new post up on this blog. I kept telling myself that I could at least put up some photographs to let people know I am still here. That didn’t really work because, lately, I haven’t liked my photos anymore than I’ve liked my words or my thoughts. That sentence sounds gloomier than the reality behind it, so I am moving on to other words and thoughts.

Possible excuses for my lack of blog production:

  • Here in Charlottesville, Virginia—not as snowy this year even as Washington, D.C. (let alone the Northeast)—the snow and cold gave everyone an excuse for taking February off. Me, too, mostly.
  • Once the weather warmed up in March Tom and I were renovating our yard and garden. Plus, Tom and I got caught up for awhile in March Madness.
  • Other facile excuses: We work out at the gym two hours most days. By the time we walk to and from the gym, shower, etc. and maybe get some coffee and work on the NY Times crossword, a certain amount of the day is gone along with any thoughts I might have had.  People have been working on our house and this leaves me feeling unsettled.
  • Good excuses: We’ve had family and friends visit. We’ve walked to the University of Virginia campus for concerts. Tom and I are now volunteer gardening in two small areas near our house and we are beginning to help out at an emergency food bank.
  • Cranky excuses: I am embarrassed about how few followers my blog has. I say to myself, if I only had a cute cat and I videoed the cat doing clever cat tricks, my blog would be a hit.* I’ve also thought of putting up more recipes (soon, I promise, not 48 days from now) or writing about politics. Save the Colorado River, knock down the Glen Canyon Dam, declare Greater Canyonlands a National Monument, and stop wasting everyone’s time on ill-advised high stakes educational testing. Hmmm. That was fun, but I am already weary of my own diatribes.
  • April excuse: Sometimes, despite the crocuses and daffodils and the cherries and the redbuds, I find no rest in this beautiful world. I feel like I want to go eat worms (if you don’t know the childhood ditty, check online). However, faced with the reality of all the fat and juicy worms in my garden, I’ve decided to cheer up, grow up (about time), and leave the worms for the birds.

Some photos anyhow:

very early birds

very early birds

crocus

crocus

daffodils (Marieke)

daffodils (Marieke)

creeping phlox

creeping phlox

*I did once have a cat, if one could be said to “have” a cat. I received this little cat (from my later-to-be sister-in-law, Betsy) back when I lived in my cheesy basement apartment in Salt Lake City. Talk about cute cats: Mani Sheriar Irani looked like a Siamese except for her little black and white striped tiger legs. She had turquoise eyes.  I loved Mani. If she is still in one of her nine lives, I love her still. The thing is, it turns out that I was terribly allergic to her. As a kitten, Mani would sleep on my neck. I couldn’t breathe. Even so, I kept her until I was pregnant with my first child. I figured I was breathing for two, so I was able to give Mani to one of my students.

Coming soon: Swedish Ice Box Cookies

November 23, 2013: Charlottesville, Virginia

Yesterday, I considered writing about where I was, what I was doing, and what I felt on November 22, 1963.  I thought better of it. Instead, today I took a walk in the neighborhood with my new camera.*

the camper and our white picket fence

the camper and our white picket fence

plumbago, ivy, and leaves

plumbago, ivy, and leaves

cemetery #1

cemetery #1

cemetery #3

cemetery #3

asters

asters

signs

signs

barberry and oak leaves

barberry and oak leaves

Historic Court Square

Historic Court Square

courthouse with cannon

courthouse with cannon

Stonewall Jackson in the shadows

Stonewall Jackson in the shadows

Downtown Mall #1

Downtown Mall #1

City Market #1

City Market #1

City Market #2

City Market #2

City Market #3

City Market #3

City Market #4

City Market #4

City Market #6

City Market #6

Lisa and Andy (City Market #7)

Lisa and Andy (City Market #7)

Lee Park

Lee Park

Cory's yard

Cory’s yard

our last shasta daisy

our last shasta daisy

* A couple of weeks ago, even though I was just sitting on the couch, I broke my little Nikon camera.  On Wednesday, I bought a new little Nikon.  I am happy to note that this camera says it is shockproof and waterproof.