Author Archives: Lynn R. Mitchell

Taking Time to Reflect

Bearing Drift 2Two years ago I took over at the helm of BearingDrift.com as editor-in-chief when Brian Schoeneman stepped aside to pursue other goals. At the same time Shaun Kenney decided to change paths and also left.

Both had been pillars of the site for years, working with others on the board of directors, such as Norm Leahy, who now writes for the Washington Post and Real Clear Investigations, and Scott Lee who was our radio guy. Heading up all those was Bearing Drift founder Jim Hoeft who had retired from his career in the Navy.

When Brian and Shaun decided to leave, it started a bit of an avalanche. Norm relinquished his board position and also left, and that was followed four months later by Jim, who at that time was serving as Bearing Drift’s publisher, and a few months later Scott left “The Score.”

That’s a lot of changes in a short amount of time.

Meanwhile, I had been a writer with Bearing Drift (while also keeping my personal blog) for a number of years, and also photo editor. When asked to step to the top spot, I was hesitant.

At the very time Brian wanted to turn over the reins, my son was getting married and my parents were moving from their home of 40-plus years to an assisted living community because of my mom’s deteriorating health.

In other words, my plate was already full. Taking over Bearing Drift — an operation with 20 writers, a podcast, “The Score,” and other moving parts under the Virginia Line Media (VLM) umbrella — was going to be a chunk of responsibility.

Respected throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, Bearing Drift had been a leader in online writing for over a decade. During the rise of social media, the best and most talented of Virginia’s political writers became part of the Bearing Drift family to express their thoughts candidly and without censorship. And, I will add, without pay.

Shaun noted two years ago, “As print media continues to evolve in an era of digital media, the line between blogger and reporter has blurred to the point where only the medium distinguishes the two.  As other columnists and writers follow in Bearing Drift’s wake, one cannot help but be proud of what Brian and the rest of the VLM board has accomplished on behalf of Virginia’s public square.” I wholeheartedly concur.

Since stepping to the plate in 2017, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster — both personally and professionally. Losing so much of the original talent was a big hit. The board reconfigured with new members … a new editorial board was pulled together … a managing editor was tapped … Bearing Drift’s IT guru remained, thank goodness. New writers were needed to fill the chasm left with the departures of Brian, Shaun, Jim, Norm, and Scott.

I just caught my breath while rereading those five names. What a loss within months of each other. I suppose I’ve never really stopped long enough to think about it … until now.

At about the time all those changes were taking place, Donald Trump came onto the national scene and our writers were not necessarily on board with someone who did not exemplify what our site, defined as Virginia’s conservative voice, had fought and believed in for its entire existence. We watched as he became the Republican nominee and then president.

For many, our voices were silenced. We lost one of our long-time contributors who left the Republican Party. Thankfully, he returned to BD a year later when I asked if he would bring his voice and opinions back to the table so we could listen to other sides of the issues.

At first, we lost our punch. How do you write when you do not agree with the Republican administration and the 88 percent of the GOP who fell in line behind him?

I have written some criticisms of Trump but to continue on that path was like beating a dead horse. How could I be critical of Democrats when Trump was doing the same or worse? The hypocrisy of trying to carry the conservative banner in the age of Trump was not lost on Bearing Drift’s writers.

So the past two years have been a challenge on a number of levels.

For all the ups and downs with my mom, who passed away last month, Bearing Drift has been my safe haven in the storm. Working with and recruiting writers, editing, and keeping the site updated has become a mark of normalcy.

Although writing has always been cathartic for me, I’ve not had time to do much personal writing since taking over at Bearing Drift. My writing these days is mostly political and technical and, even at that, much of my time is spent on the managing side of the desk.

VLM has been a leader in bringing activist-driven conservative news and commentary to Virginia. That tradition continues. I’m proud to be part of our group of volunteers who continue to hold an honest discussion in today’s political arena.

I need to write. That’s why I keep LynnRMitchell.com for the thoughts that are more personal and less political. I need to visit here more often….

A Cool, Rainy Shenandoah Valley Late Summer Day

Can you believe it? I just checked the temperature at 1:30 in the afternoon and it’s 64 degrees in the central Shenandoah Valley.  I’m out on the deck with a sweater on listening to the sound of raindrops on the awning … wind rustling … a little rain spray blowing under the tarp. It feels like camping.

Rain moved in a couple of hours ago and is in the forecast for the rest of the afternoon. It’s one of those comfortable, snuggly days when it’s great to curl up with a book or sit bundled up on the deck, under the awning, listening to the rain falling, whiffing the earth smells, with only the sound of rain and rustling leaves.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved rainy days. I used to bundle up and take my umbrella and sit outdoors back in those days. Camping in the rain is an adventure — a challenge to stay dry while listening to the rain and entertaining myself by either playing games with someone, or writing, or reading.

Fall is right around the corner and days like this are a reminder of that. This rain is part of a cold front coming through that will drop temps over the next few days into daytime highs of 70s and overnight lows in 50s along with lower humidity.

So today I’m home, couched in with the rainy weather, and basically taking the day off.

Meanwhile, the rain picked up, thunder rolled in, and I scooted back into the house before my laptop and I got soaked.

It’s late summer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia….

Mom … August 5, 1927-July 18, 2019

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It’s taken a while to get around to posting this on my blog although I shared it with my Facebook friends the night of my mother’s passing on July 18….

In memory of my mom, Eula Osborne Randall Lucy — August 5, 1927-July 18, 2019. ❤️

Mom passed away early Thursday morning from the effects of congestive heart failure, an illness that had slowly taken its toll the past 18 months. She would have been 92 on August 5.

If you ever met her, you know she was one of a kind.

She was a career woman as my two sisters and I were growing up, smashing through the glass ceiling for women in Richmond’s moving and storage business during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. She was their first successful sales woman in RVA, the first woman in Virginia to become a “Certified Moving Consultant,” and the first female in the history of Allied Van Lines to be elected as a Nationwide Roundtable Chairman.

During those years she was a member of several business clubs, and served on the boards of the Sales & Marketing Club and the Export-Import Club. Her successes demonstrated to we girls that glass ceilings for women could be smashed and we could do whatever we chose as long as we worked hard.

Mom was very involved for years as a volunteer with the Chesterfield County Republican Committee until her health prevented her from bushwhacking around Midlothian, with Cal at the wheel driving her from home to home, pushing yard signs into the ground and advocating for her chosen candidate.

She loved Congressman Eric Cantor, attended his events around the 7th District, and served as his representative on the Silver Haired Congress to advocate senior rights and benefits.

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling was another favorite, and my parents appeared in one of his campaign ads. She is pictured with Governor Bob McDonnell whom she supported and solicited yard sign locations from friends, acquaintances, and strangers in her Salisbury neighborhood. Governor/Senator George Allen and Susan Allen, Governor Jim Gilmore, as well as Del. Manoli Loupassi, were others that she respected and worked to elect.

She was active in the days when Senator John Warner was chosen to run after GOP nominee Dick Obenshain was killed in a 1978 airplane crash. She met Warner’s wife Liz Taylor; she worked meet-and-greets and GOP women’s teas. My parents hosted events at their home.

Her great love, however, was President George W. Bush. Through my sister Gail who worked for him, she met Governor Bush in Austin and then again in the Oval Office. Pictures of President Bush with members of our family hang on the walls of my parents’ home.

So many memories, not enough space to share … perhaps when my thoughts settle I will write a piece about having a woman business pioneer as a mother. It was quite the ride!

I still find it difficult to believe she’s gone. We were expecting it and, yet, we weren’t. Not at that time. Not that soon. The hospice nurse had mentioned Labor Day so in my mind I had already decided she would be around until then.

Her memorial service was last week, a remembrance of a strong and independent woman who worked in a man’s world. All four grandchildren had readings, and my sister Gail gave the eulogy which caused laughter in the church. We were grateful to the many who came out, something I shared on Facebook:

THANK YOU. Words cannot express our family’s gratitude to those who supported us with their presence Friday at Mom’s memorial service. It was truly a celebration of a long life filled with family, a fair share of trials and tribulations, triumphs, adventures, and laughter.

Joining us in the sanctuary were family members along with our parents’ friends, church family, neighbors … and then there were childhood friends of my sisters and me (some had been part of the Bon Air Baptist youth group back in the day), neighbors, and political friends.

Friday night we three sisters sat together on the couch, reminiscing as we flipped through old photo albums and laughing over memories. Meanwhile, in the dining room, our kids were perched around the table animatedly playing board games. Peals of laughter regularly rang out during the evening until well past midnight. It was a time for family, some who are scattered good distances beyond Richmond, to enjoy that brief moment in time before returning to our busy lives.

Thank you to those who reached out in other ways with flowers, food, personal notes and cards, helping wherever needed, and checking to be sure our step-father, Cal, was okay. Pastor Bob Lee and Pastor Rod Hale anchored the service while sister Gail added laughter with her eulogy. Readings from the four grandchildren as well as a duet of “In the Garden” from our cousin Sharon and her husband Don rounded it out.

Years ago when our dad died, we girls were 22, 20, and 13. Now Mom has passed and we are … well, let’s just say we’re considerably older. The World War II parents are quickly leaving and the mantle for preserving family memories is passed on to the next generation. Life goes on….

American author Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty, well-preserved body; but rather a journey into God’s arms, skidding in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘WOW! What a ride!’ ”

That, in a nutshell, was Eula. 

Mom was the youngest and last survivor of 10 children who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and saw women step from the shadows into the spotlight of leadership – a life worth celebrating.

I’m Back

I’m back.

If you didn’t notice, I slipped out the back door of Bearing Drift about seven weeks ago to work with my state senator, Emmett Hanger, on his victorious June 11 primary campaign.

During my absence Melissa Kenney, who is Bearing Drift’s managing editor, took over the day-to-day operations, and I cannot thank her enough for the time and dedication she put into making sure the trains were on time. Thank you, Missy.

After winning the primary 57-43 percent, Senator Emmett Hanger is the Republican nominee for the 24th Senate District going into November’s general election.

It wasn’t my first rodeo with him but, like last time when we worked together, it was an honor to once again be part of the team. Congratulations to our Virginia gentleman for running an above-board campaign and working circles around the rest of us.

As to Bearing Drift … it’s good to be back.

See also Emmett Hanger Had the Third Larger Turnout in Primary 2019.

Originally published June 17, 2019, at BearingDrift.com.

Emmett Hanger Had Third Largest Voter Turnout for Primary 2019

Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24th District) campaigns at polls during the June 11 primary.

On Monday’s radio show, as he analyzed the previous week’s primary races, host and former House of Delegates member Chris Saxman gave his hot take on the 24th Senate District race between incumbent Republican Senator Emmett Hanger and his challenger, Libertarian Tina Freitas.

Here’s the transcript (listen to the podcast here) of that section of the show (starting around 43:00).

Chris Saxman: “We had Senator Emmett Hanger on a couple of times as well as his opponent Tina Freitas, and down the stretch, Sen. Hanger definitely won … won by 15 points. Most people thought it was a toss-up, inside two points, potential upset by Freitas. And Hanger puts it away by 15 points.”

Al the Engineer: “What happened there?”

Chris Saxman: “I’m glad you asked.

“This is why polling and analytics matter. Six weeks out, Hanger’s pollster says, ‘Look, you’re doing pretty well, but here’s some weaknesses and if she gets funded, these weaknesses could catch up with you.’

“They came back three weeks later, did another poll before Memorial Day, and went to him and said, ‘If you don’t change the direction of your campaign, you will lose. Here are the numbers.’

“And he didn’t want to go on a full attack — this is not his personality; he’s not a negative campaign guy — but they said, ‘You have to do some sharp contrasts, and here are the messages you want to do that with. If you don’t do this, you’ll lose.’

“He obviously did it. He ran up the numbers back in Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Rockingham. She won on the eastern side of the district, over to Culpeper. On the western side, which is where Emmett Hanger’s from, he ran up huge margins and was able to put that one away. So that was a big win for Sen. Emmett Hanger.

“He also starts, in my estimation, too late running for reelection and his organization. He said, ‘Look, I campaign by working just as hard for my constituents.’ That’s great if this is the 1980s or 1990s and they want to see you. But with the digital aspect of a campaign and people grinding it out unseen, they don’t have to put out these massive campaigns to take you out.

“The Hanger campaign said, in … 2015, 12,000 voters voted in that primary in a three-way. On the day of the election [this year], the campaign manager or consultant or operative said they were thinking it would be about 16,000 votes. That was their estimate. Tina Freitas got 8,200. Now with 16,000, and she gets 8,200, who wins? She does.

“Well, guess what happened? 19,000 showed up! Three-thousand-plus more showed up than they were expecting. That’s a lot. That’s a substantial number turnout.

“So whatever Emmett Hanger’s team did, organizationally and in the campaign, whatever they were doing — digital, messaging, bulk mail, whatever — it worked. They turned out more people than anyone was expecting.”

It all came down to voter turnout in a June primary where voter apathy is a very real thing. #TeamHanger never let up. Sen. Hanger pulled in the third most votes in the Commonwealth.

Congratulations once again to Senator Hanger for his convincing win.

You may also be interested in If It’s Monday, Chris Saxman Is On the Radio.

Talking With Emmett … about Gun Rights

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Talking with Emmett … about gun rights….

“As a rural legislator, I have long been a leading advocate for the protection of 2nd Amendment rights. From consistently opposing legislation intended to chip away at gun owner rights, to patroning key legislation to afford statewide protection of this constitutional right, I am regarded as a leader in the Senate on this issue.

“I successfully patroned the important, overarching preemption legislation that prohibits localities from going farther than state law allows with gun restrictions. I also successfully patroned the concealed carry allowance in restaurants that serve alcohol for those legally permitted to carry concealed with the caveat that they don’t drink while carrying in the restaurant. And I have patroned legislation to protect the personal information of gun owners from public disclosure. I have an A rating by the NRA and am proud to be endorsed by them consistently over the years. I am also proud to be co-chair of the Sportsman Caucus in the General Assembly.

“As for ‘Constitutional carry’ (which is really allowing anyone to carry concealed without a permit and the appropriate training and screening), I do not believe our current application process to carry a concealed weapon is flawed. I am not hearing reports of long lines, unnecessary denials of the application, or any complaint that would justify changing a process that is working to ensure responsible owners are able to carry concealed weapons legally. I do believe because of my in-depth work in the mental health arena that this simple process helps to weed out someone who may have a mental health concern or a behavorial or criminal issue that would make it inappropriate to carry (like a domestic abuser or known drug dealer who hasn’t been charged and found guilty). The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has gone on record supporting my position as a safety issue for citizens and their deputies. If they pull someone over with a legal permit, they know that person has gone thru the process to carry concealed, if there is no permit they will know there has been no cursory check of their credentials. I do not think we need to change a system that is working for legal concealed carry.

“Again, I fully support the Second Amendment but just as with the First Amendment basic common sense comes into play. Just as the First Amendment doesn’t permit you to yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater, the Second Amendment doesn’t prevent us from having some simple steps to ensure the rights of gun owners while providing a layer of protection from those who may be mentally impaired or otherwise not be eligible to legally carry a concealed weapon. And this doesn’t impact open carry at all which remains legal, so again for me common sense wins out.

“I will continue to support the protection of our Second Amendment Rights. In a world today where so many are working to curtail or end our gun rights, I believe my stance of common sense legislation to ensure the protection of those Second Amendment rights is a good place to be.”

Read more at www.EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Social issues.

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Talking With Emmett … about Social Issues

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Talking with Senator Emmett Hanger … about Social issues:

“Social issues, and in particular, matters of faith, are areas where I cannot compromise. I am and always have been a strong Pro-Life Christian. I believe the dignity of life should be protected and honored from conception until natural death. Much has been in the news this session regarding abortion and simply put, I remain an ardent Pro-Lifer and my record, dating all the way back to my early work for our very first “parental consent” laws, demonstrates my commitment to my beliefs and values for human life. Some people have tried to say that my support of expanding access to Medicaid for our lower income Virginians compromises my position and that cannot be further from the truth. Providing quality health care for Virginians ensures all life is valued, rather than valuing only the lives of those who can pay for healthcare.

“I cannot in good conscience support any proposition that allows someone to make a decision about whether someone else should live or die, no matter how early in the womb or late in life, which is based on some supposed issue of choice or personal convenience.

“In addition, I want to clarify misinformation out there about state dollars allocated for preventing unwanted pregnancies. If we can prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place, then we can obviously decrease the abortion rate. To argue otherwise is frankly out of touch with where we are today as a society. Specifically, any TANF monies directed by the state to Planned Parenthood are the same that we provided to Free Clinics, hospitals, and health centers for Long-Acting Contraceptive Devices (LARCs) to be used to prevent pregnancies. This funding was specifically geared to assist low-income Virginians who otherwise may not have access to, or money for, contraception. And to be clear, Medicaid expansion doesn’t increase the abortion rate because that is federal money restricted by the Hyde Amendment so for anyone to say my work to expand health care services to our working poor is a pro-abortion effort then they are completely off base and have a lack of knowledge of how the state and federal programs work.

“I work to protect all life and am Pro-Life. This issue is part of my core beliefs and principals. I will always support and vote to protect the unborn in the same vein that I dedicate much time to ensuring the health and care of the disabled and elderly. Every life is precious and a gift from God. It is our responsibility as leaders in the General Assembly and in our communities to protect and cherish human life.

“As a Christian, I believe my life, though pitted by errors and shortcomings, should be patterned after the example of Christ. I try to guide my decisions based on biblical instruction including the Ten Commandments and I believe strongly our form of representative democracy cannot survive, at least in a manner that is efficient and affordable, unless the majority of our citizens are ‘Godly’ people and are willing and capable of assuming their role as responsible citizens in a free society.

“I have patroned and supported restrictions on abortions long before it became a dominant ‘Republican’ theme. I continue to maintain that while the state and faith-based communities should provide support and a safety-net for those in dire circumstances, it remains the ultimate responsibility of the individual to provide for themselves and the welfare of their family.”

Read more at EmmettHanger.com.

See also Talking with Emmett … about Gun Rights.

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Chesterfield’s Joan Girone Shattered the Glass Ceiling for 1970s Young Women

It was 1976 and the board of supervisors in Chesterfield County, Virginia, was a male refuge. Joan Girone changed that.

Shattering the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman elected to the board, she became a role model and trailblazer at the age of 48 for many women who grew up in Chesterfield and were just beginning to find their way. They were watching, listening, and observing even though they may not have realize it at the time. All these years later, I see Mrs. Girone’s fingerprints on many of my Republican beliefs.

She was progressive for the GOP, especially at that time, and they were fortunate she carried their banner in her groundbreaking journey to open doors for women. At the time, Chesterfield was just beginning to grow and expand with newcomers relocating as businesses moved into the area. The result was the beginning of change in county leadership.

From reporter Bridget Balch with the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“It set a new vision for Chesterfield County,” said former state Sen. John Watkins, a friend and political ally of Mrs. Girone’s. “Before, it was easy to say that many county governments were good old boys running local government, and she proved that that wasn’t necessarily the way it was going to work from then on.”

She went on to serve three terms before retiring from the board in 1987. During that time she was vice chairman from 1976 through 1980.

Why she didn’t move further up the political ladder is a bit of a surprise. When she ran as an Independent for Virginia state senate in the 1980s, challenging the incumbent Republican senator and bucking the local Republican hierarchy, she was shunned by some within the party and her political career never regained momentum. From the RTD:

Though a strident Republican, when Mrs. Girone ran for state senate in 1987, she challenged a Republican incumbent, state Sen. Robert Russell, as an independent. She said that the local party’s nomination process was rigged against her, and her candidacy exposed a rift in the local party. She also split with the Republican leadership, saying they were too right-wing for her more mainstream approach to politics.

Able to see the political winds of change seemingly before the GOP itself, Mrs. Girone was asked in 2012 about the shifts when county voters did not turn out as strongly in the once reliably red Chesterfield:

“I don’t think the Republican Party is going to survive much longer if they keep on this far-right track, which is endorsed by the tea party,” said Joan Girone, who in 1975 as a Republican became the first woman elected to the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. “It’s a rigid adherence to certain things and an unwillingness to compromise at all.”

Girone, now an independent, described the Republican Party of today as “exclusive” and a group that is not recognizing the growth of minority groups in Chesterfield.

She considered it an example of “politics at its finest” when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and Obama, a Democrat, recently worked together in the wake of massive storm damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“That’s what the Republicans seem to have forgotten — you are sent there to work solutions for the common good of all the people,” Girone said. “You can keep your own philosophy … but you have to compromise and give and take to reach a goal of what is best for all of the people.” [emphasis added]

As a public servant, she got it, listening and working with her constituents, holding “First Monday” events to listen to their concerns, and active in the community before, during, and long after her time on the board. She was instrumental in the change that resulted in the school board being elected by voters instead of appointed by supervisors.

In 2015 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Chesterfield County.

Earlier this week Joan Girone passed away at the age of 91, six months after the loss of her husband Joe. She left a legacy in the county but, perhaps more importantly, she left a legacy for unknown numbers of women who learned leadership, community involvement, constituent dedication, and a never-give-up attitude from this pioneer in the Richmond area women’s movement.

Mrs. Girone’s life will be celebrated this afternoon, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 2:00 at Bon Air Methodist Church.

For more about Joan Girone:

-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Joan Girone, first woman elected to Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, dies at 91
-Richmond Times-Dispatch: Election shows distinct shifts in Chesterfield voting habits

A son … ‘daring and loving and strong and kind’

??????????“I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.” — Maya Angelou

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Matt! I have to indulge a bit today since it’s my son’s birthday.

In this picture he was four years old as he held his six-month-old sister. He was my little buddy who arrived three weeks early on a February day … a cheerful first born of a first born of a first born who was the first grandchild and only grandson.

Thoughtful and introspective, and a source of joy since the day he arrived, this tiny six-pound baby became a little blond curly-headed boy who loved baseball and soccer, and grew into a kind, loving, industrious young man who is now almost six feet tall.

Continue reading

A Valentine’s Day Message To My Children

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A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Happy New Year 2019 from LynnRMitchell.com

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As 2018 comes to a close, it is a time to reflect on family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at LynnRMitchell.com, my responsibilities as editor-in-chief at BearingDrift.com have kept me very busy.

Here’s to a great 2019 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more.

From LynnRMitchell.com to you … Happy New Year!

Welcoming 2019 at Bearing Drift

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[Since most of my time these days is spent at Bearing Drift, I’m sharing the New Year’s Day post for 2019.]

Hello, 2019! Goodbye, 2018.

It’s that time of year when it’s out with the old and in with the new. Here at Bearing Drift, it’s a time to look back at the past year, thank those who have built our foundation, offer extra thanks to our writers and background support, express gratitude for our readers, and start out with a clean slate in 2019.

Bearing Drift turns 15 this year — definitely a milestone for our group of writers and contributors who share their opinions, observations, and knowledge about the political world around us. With our concentration primarily on Virginia, we sometimes branch out to national and world politics when they affect us here in the Commonwealth.

Bearing Drift’s New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to continue to provide quality articles to our readers. We will strive to present new content on a regular basis, and we hope our readers will continue to support us and add their voices to the discussion.

As the new year begins, we want to take a moment to recognize those who make Bearing Drift the remarkable organization that it is and their contributions:

Melissa Kenney is our Advertising Director and Managing Editor. She sells ads, shares her expertise, and also digs into the site to troubleshoot technical issues that may arise.

Jason Kenney is our Webmaster. For an organization like ours, that is just about the most important person in the operation. He troubleshoots issues we may have and is practically on call at all hours of the day and night.

Susan Sili is our resident “hostess with the mostest” who covers the General Assembly during session, shares entertaining tips, and writes historical pieces about Virginia.

Brian Schoeneman is our editor-in-chief emeritus and occasional contributor who is always there to provide support and feedback.

Rick Sincere, who is well known in the writing world and contributes to a number of publications, is our radio personality since taking on “The Score” nine months ago. He not only pens articles for Bearing Drift but also provides photos when attending candidate events.

Stephen Spiker rejoined Bearing Drift in 2018. Experienced in polls, policy, and campaigns, he is a solid writer and numbers cruncher.

Norm Leahy, who has served as editor-in-chief in the past, writes for Real Clear Investigations and provides a weekly column at the Washington Post that he shares with us.

Cole Trower provides coverage of the Hampton Roads area as well as opinion and information about candidates and campaigns. He has served in grassroots leadership and worked numerous campaigns.

D.J. McGuire, a former long-time contributor, returned in 2018 after a two-year absence. A former candidate for public office, his experience is in foreign affairs and financial issues as well as Virginia politics.

Craig Storrs Jr. brings a wide array of experiences to his writing including working with elected officials, running campaigns, and grassroots leadership.

Matt Hall is our goodwill ambassador, writing articles as well as conducting interviews of candidates and elected officials.

Andrew Hull is on hiatus preparing to enter law school but is able to add the occasional article. Well-rounded in working campaigns, his quick wit and knowledge of the political scene endeared him to readers.

M.D. Russ brings years of experience with a military and business background, weighing in on a variety of issues.

Matt Walton offers perspective from the Richmond area, utilizing his experience working campaigns and running for public office.

Jay McConville brings his experience in grassroots leadership and running for public office to his writing.

-Rollin Reisinger has written strategically in the past but has been working campaigns in recent months.

-Steven Brodie Tucker is our newest contributor. His thoughtful and fact-filled writing has already captured an audience with BD readers.

Jim Bacon, editor-in-chief and founder of Bacon’s Rebellion, is one of our content partners, sharing his writing on economics, energy, and other issues of importance to Virginians.

Rob Schilling has his own radio show and is a former Charlottesville councilman. Another content partner, he writes about topical issues.

Mike Thompson is president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy, sharing articles about issues that concern the citizens of the Commonwealth.

-And me, Lynn R. Mitchell — editor-in-chief, photo chaser, and multi-tasker.

Here’s expecting even greater things for Bearing Drift in the coming year so stay with us to see where we  go in 2019.

From all of us to all of you … Happy New Year!

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Forgotten Cookies … a Christmas Favorite

A new batch of Forgotten Cookies is in the oven for their overnight sleep which reminded me of this post originally published in December 2008. In the morning we will open the oven and find another Christmas favorite. Shhh … cookies sleeping.

Special memories of the children I worked with at Richmond Children’s Hospital come to mind when baking Forgotten Cookies, a recipe that was passed along by a nurse who worked with me at that hospital years ago.

At Christmas, all the staff members brought goodies to share as we went about our work, and one year she brought these yummy meringue cookies that had an almond flavor with pecans and chocolate chips inside. They melted in your mouth.

When I asked what they were, she said they were called Forgotten Cookies because you put them in the oven at night, turn off the oven … and forget them until the next morning. They are favorites of family and friends, and are gluten free for those on special diets. Enjoy!

Forgotten Cookies

2 egg whites (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add flavorings; mix well. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonsful onto aluminum foil-lined cookie sheets coated with non-stick spray. Place in a 350-degree oven; immediately turn off oven. Let stand 8-10 hours or overnight. (Do not open oven.) Store in airtight container.

Yield: 5 dozen

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Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Christmas Fudge


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It’s that time of year to enjoy the season with family and decorations and cookie baking and candy making and everything else that goes with the holidays. Last week I made the first batch of fudge for a gathering of colleagues and thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to make their own. It’s one of the easiest of the candies I make.

The recipe was passed along by a dear, dear friend many years ago and, though she is no longer with us, I think of her every time I make up a batch of this Christmas fudge that leaves the house smelling like a chocolate factory. Enjoy!

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Here’s what you’ll need: 3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips; 1/2 pound butter, softened (2 sticks); 3 Tablespoons vanilla; 4 1/2 cups sugar; 1 13-oz can evaporated milk. The complete recipe is at the end of this post. Here are step-by-step photos from today.

fudge-2Put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla in large bowl. Set aside. (Optional: This is the point where two cups of chopped pecans are added, if wanted.)

fudge-3In at large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and continue cooking for 10 minutes, adjusting heat to keep it at a rolling boil.

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Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips, stirring until chips and butter are melted and well mixed.

fudge-8Pour into lightly greased pan and quickly spread it evenly.

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fudge-11Let it set five or six hours, then cut into squares and store in air-tight container. Yield: 5 pounds.

Fudge

3 12-ounce packages chocolate chips
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
3 Tablespoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

In a large bowl, put chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla, and set aside. In large saucepan, combine sugar and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and pour over chocolate chips. Stir until chips and butter are melted and well mixed. Pour into lightly greased pan and let it set 5-6 hours. Cut into squares.

Yield: 5 pounds

Options: Add 2 cups chopped pecans, maraschino cherries, or both, or be creative with other add-ins.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

Wreaths Across America … Remembering America’s Fallen Heroes

Staunton National Cemetery (photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)

If you drive by a military cemetery today and see headstones decorated with fresh, handmade balsam Christmas wreaths accented with bright red bows, you will have witnessed the work of Wreaths Across America.

Across the nation and around the world, thousands of volunteers are continuing the twenty-six-year tradition that began in 1992 with 4,000 excess wreaths donated by Morrill Worcester, a tradition that continues each December. Hundreds of thousands of wreaths are reverently placed on military graves as a remembrance of those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Mr. Worcester’s quiet donation all those years ago of 4,000 wreaths for Arlington Cemetery has become an annual gift of love from this Maine wreath maker who recognized that freedom is not free. Because of his generosity and desire to remember those who sacrificed, he started a tradition that was fairly obscure for 12 years until a photo hit the internet in 2005 showing the Christmas wreaths on Arlington’s snow-covered graves.

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This is the 2005 photo that went viral and showed America how a local wreath company was quietly honoring our heroes.

As the photo circulated and spread the Worcester story, an anonymous person added a caption: “Rest easy, sleep well, my brothers. Know the line has held, your job is done. Rest easy, sleep well. Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held. Peace, peace, and farewell.”

Word spread quickly and wreath requests poured in for other military cemeteries around the country which led Mr. Worcester and his family to establish the non-profit Wreaths Across America with a mission to remember, honor, and teach.

What would drive this 65-year-old owner of the largest wreath producing company in the world to give away thousands of wreaths for the past 26 years?

Mr. Worcester recalled that when he was a 12-year-old newspaper carrier, he won a Bangor Daily News subscription-selling contest that sent him to the Nation’s Capital. The lines of white stones in Arlington Cemetery made an impression on him that never left.

Years later, Christmas 1992, the successful businessman’s Worcester Wreath Company had 4,000 surplus wreaths late in the season and nothing to do with them. Grateful that his success was due in large part to the sacrifice of American troops, and remembering the rows of white tombstones, he put in a call to his congressman and secured permission from Arlington Cemetery.

With a handful of volunteers, they drove a truck load of wreaths to Arlington and spent the next six hours distributing them on graves, a tradition continued quietly for years by a man who did not seek publicity. The 2005 photo changed all that and sealed his destiny.

Today thousands of volunteers will lay wreaths at American military cemeteries around the world. National Cemetery in Staunton has been a recipient for a number of years.

On each wreath will be a tag that reads: “Through the generosity and actions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, this wreath is donated and placed on the grave of a True American Hero. Wreaths Across America … we make it our business to NEVER FORGET.”

It’s once again a reminder that freedom is not free … and a reminder that Americans have not forgotten their fallen heroes. That is the legacy of Morrill Worcester and his Maine balsam Christmas wreaths.

Cross-posted at BearingDrift.com

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