Spring Forward … It’s Daylight Savings Time

Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. we spring forward an hour as Daylight Savings Time comes back into play for the spring and summer months. If you forget to set your clocks forward, you will be late to church in the morning.

Guess I’ll be pulling the instruction book out in my car to spring ahead until we have to fall back to Eastern Standard Time on November 5.

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Moving Dirt at Frontier Culture Museum for Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles, Aldi, More

Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia’s property on Richmond Road. Photo take March 8, 2017. (Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell)

There’s no way you could have missed all the earth moving equipment the past weeks in front of the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia (FCMV) on Richmond Road (Rt. 250) in Staunton or, for that case, on the opposite side of the road where the city of Staunton is clearing land for retail development.

But in front of the FCMV, facing onto Richmond Road/Rt. 250, are spaces where Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles, Aldi, and other retail will be going up. It’s been in the planning for several years as the Museum worked with developers to design and lay out the space, and bring in tenants.

Chick-Fil-A had originally planned to be open a year ago. A delay with the property slowed their plans.

I wrote 18 months ago about the owner of Charlottesville’s Bojangles telling us he would be opening a location in Staunton.

There are also proposals to perhaps have a hotel and another restaurant so stay tuned to see what else will join Sheetz in that popular location that will be very accessible to travelers on I-81.

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‘Beauty and the Beast’ … Hypocrisy Personified

Disney’s latest much-anticipated movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” is set to open March 17, 2017, and already there is controversy. As news makes the rounds that there is a fleeting gay related moment at one point, the church community is freaking out.

Really?

Now Franklin Graham weighs in, again, with his opposition to the film. I’m seeing people on Facebook changing their plans to see the movie because of this news. Wonder if they have seen the dozens of other children’s movies throughout the years that have had adult references.

But more than that, 81 percent of the evangelical community voted for Donald Trump who famously noted that he could grab women by the p***y and get away with it because he was famous. And they were okay with that, okay enough to not only not boycott that but also tolerate other crude behavior and language from a presidential candidate, now president, who stood in front of a rally and used the *f* word.  Who bashed a Vietnam POW. Who is no shining example to hold up to our children.

But these easily-offended Christians cannot see “Beauty and the Beast.”

Spare me the hypocrisy.

Update: An article in USA Today saw the same hypocrisy with boycotting “Beauty and the Beast.”

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‘Aspinwall & Friends’ … Houston folk music at its best

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Bill Aspinwall

[Today is my Texas brother-in-law’s birthday so I am republishing a tribute I wrote about his music in 2009. Singer, songwriter, and able to play just about anything with strings, this award-winning Houston folk singer is talented beyond belief … our own musical troubadour who is married to my sister. Happy birthday with love from Virginia, A!]

If you like the laid-back easy feel of acoustic folk-style music, then pour a glass of wine, kick back, and mellow out to entertainer Bill Aspinwall, an all-around great musician and singer who represents some of the best that Austin and Houston have to offer in the folk music genre.

bill-aspinwall-2Named 2005 Songwriter of the Year by the Houston Association of Acoustic Musicians (HAAM) and the Houston Songwriters Association (HSA), Bill also was co-creator of the 2005 Song of the Year, “Fractured Lives,” included on his new solo CD, Free Range Trout: Aspinwall & Friends, featuring some of Houston’s finest musicians.

With calming tunes reminiscent of James Taylor but skillfully interwoven with the story-telling style of Jimmy Buffet, Bill Aspinwall’s music, much of it self-written, makes for relaxed listening or singing along.

As one of the Big Lizard Boys, Bill has been performing for years with his merry band of musicians that includes fellow Lizard Boys Mike Crippen and Mike Darnell. Their CD, Pick Yourself Up, has my all-time favorite Aspinwall tune, “Arapahoe Rodeo,” a song the Boulder native penned about his home state of Colorado with wistful memories of growing up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains along with fun, whimsical lyrics such as, “… I often wondered how snakes wave goodbye” …

Arapahoe Rodeo
Lyrics and Music by Bill Aspinwall
© W. F. Aspinwall, 2005

Blue jeans and brook trout, five friends that checked out,
Born in a small town, wife says that I frown
Fish with my grandad, memories I had
Like Christmas eve snow
Dozens of cousins, my uncles and aunts …
Arapahoe Rodeo.

Wheat fields and foothills, parents on white pills
Farmers and miners, small change in the diners
Summers in bare feet, parades came down Pearl Street
On the 4th of July
And up at the treeline, a buck and a doe …
Arapahoe Rodeo

Up Coal Creek Canyon, we had a small cabin
No electric, no water, no phone
After all of these changes in my life
I still wish it was home.

Fording the stream beds with cowboys and pot heads
A pinto with white sox, Hendrix at Red Rocks
Hardly said one word, but I often wondered
How snakes wave goodbye
A snowman is melting, the creek starts to flow …
Arapahoe Rodeo.

Love that song … to hear it played under the summer Colorado night sky is almost magical.

Bill AspinwallBill Aspinwall, affectionately known as “A,” is my brother-in-law, married to my Texas sister. When we get together, we kick back and are taken away by his talented musical skills as he plays acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, jaw harp, and anything else he can put his hands on … truly a talented gentleman. When they come to Virginia to visit, we can always spy them as they emerge from the plane because of Bill’s faithful and trusty guitar always in hand.

In the mail last week, my sister sent the latest CD … Free Range Trout: Aspinwall & Friends … a collection of songs we have heard Bill sing in the past, and some new ones including one my sister co-wrote with him. Keeping it all in the family, niece Molly helped with backup harmony with cameos on one cut by the resident dog and cat.

The CD includes a dedication to my dad who passed away in 1975, and to Bill’s dad who passed away about five years ago: “This project is dedicated to all the family and to parents everywhere, especially ‘Bebe’ Aspinwall, Raymond Randall, and Cowboy Nate, to remind us that dreams have a life of their own.”

Free Range Trout: Aspinwall & Friends is Bill’s first solo effort. With the help of family, friends, the “Guitar Circle friends,” and fellow Lizard Boys, it includes the haunting Spanish lyrics of “El azur del invierno,” the beautiful “If Winter Knows,” the award-winning “Fractured Lives,” and my favorite, “Open Arms”:

Open Arms
Lyrics and Music by Bill Aspinwall
© W. F. Aspinwall

(First Verse)
Taking the coffee cup down from the shelf
Making breakfast all by myself
There’s too much space … a half-empty bed
I’m holding onto dreams instead
Holding out for love with open arms.

Congratulations to “A” and Randall for a job well done!

Music is available from MyTexasMusic.com.

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Virginia Brunswick Stew Recipe

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Baby, it’s cold outside! On this chilly, early March Sunday with below-freezing temps, it’s a good time for a steaming bowl of Brunswick stew — hot and filling and yummy.

From the cookbook, Virginia Hospitality: A Book of Recipes From 200 Years of Gracious Entertaining, is the Brunswick stew recipe I have used for years. As with any cook, I have variations (in parentheses). Stew is best when the flavors are given time to meld together so I often make mine the day before it will be served. The recipe easily doubles and triples for larger groups. Enjoy!

Brunswick Stew
1 whole chicken, cut up (I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces white shoepeg corn
10 ounces frozen small butterbeans
1 pound canned tomatoes
2 small potatoes, cubed (I double or triple that amount)
1/3 cup ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon marjoram (I omit)
2-3 Tablespoons butter

Place chicken in Dutch oven and add enough water to cover well. Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Boil until chicken comes off bones easily. Remove chicken to cool and add corn, butterbeans, tomatoes, potatoes, ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar; cook 2 hours or until tender. Remove chicken from bones or shred chicken breasts and add to vegetables along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, marjoram, and butter. Serves 6-8.

Note: Vary amount of water for thick or soupy stew. Add a cube of chicken bouillon after the first or second serving.

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Mountains, Maple Syrup, Sheep … 2017 Highland Maple Festival

That’s my child bonding with a sheep.

It is known as Virginia’s Switzerland, this rural, mountainous, southern-most location for gathering maple syrup, and it is right here in our back yard. Just 45 miles west of Staunton, picturesque Highland County hosts its 59th annual Maple Festival during the weekends of March 11-12 and March 18-19, 2017.

Make plans to meander back roads, stuff yourself on pancakes drenched with locally-harvested maple syrup, or fill up on mouth-watering maple chicken. Be entertained by local cloggers and bluegrass bands while enjoying the wildly popular fresh maple donuts made by local Ruritans. Stroll the main street of Monterey, population 150, to check out the many vendors peddling crafts, art work, maple products, and Kettle Korn. Take in the beauty of this rural setting populated with sheep and cattle. Relax. Slow down. Breathe the cold, fresh, mountain air.

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‘Oh, Shenandoah’

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“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” –John Muir

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“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” –Lord Byron

dscn6668-2“Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you….”

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“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” –Edmund Hillary

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” –Henry David Thoreau

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“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” –Dr. Seuss

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“I’m sure I shall always feel like a child in the woods.” –L.M. Montgomerydscn6689-2

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” –John Muir

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Shenandoah National Park
February 17, 2017

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SNP’s Big Run Loop Trail

dscn6655-2Shenandoah National Park during the winter months offers a unique experience unlike the busier, warmer months with vistas that open to the horizon through bare branches — views that are not visible during summer. Big Run Loop Trail at Milepost 81.2 on the southern end of Skyline Drive near Loft Mountain Campground offers a perfect seasonal hike through the winter woods with several route options. Hiking Upward and Virginia Trail Guide both have good recaps and feedback from hikers.

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Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
February 21, 2017

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The Quietness of Skyline Drive in Winter

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Route 33 climbs the western slope of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

There’s a particular magic living in the shadow of Shenandoah National Park especially since we are able to visit in all seasons of the year. Winter is especially inviting because there are few, if any, visitors. With the spring-like streak of weather we were experiencing in late February, Mr. Mitchell and I decided to spend a day in the winter woods. At this time of year, with no leaf canopy, the vistas open as far as the eye can see, and the forest floor is visible with its rock outcroppings, ravines, old rock walls, and the indention of ancient roadways from the days before there was a Park.

dscn6478-2We decided to drive north from Staunton on Rt. 11 to Weyers Cave, then took Keezletown Road to Rt. 33 and turned east  toward the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Ascending the mountain, I always feel the decades fall away the higher we climb, returning to an earlier time when these ridges and hollows were home to the pioneers who lived here before their land was taken away by the government to make way for the Park.  In my lifetime, signs of the past have disappeared and, though it’s still possible to see a rock foundation or find a family cemetery or maybe the crumbling remains of a long-ago rugged fence, the forest has almost completed its takeover of the land.

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dscn6482-2At Swift Run Gap, we stopped at the entrance station to talk with the ranger, then turned south on Skyline Drive to slowly make our way to Afton Mountain. There were few people — perfect. Temp was in the upper 40s but skies were overcast and the brisk wind had icicles on it.

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March Events at Augusta County Library

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There’s lots going on at the Augusta County Library during March. Be sure to check the website for all the latest, and to sign up for the e-newsletter to stay informed of upcoming events. Below are the special events for March. Happy reading!

 

The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
March 2017   |  www.AugustaCountyLibrary.org
Introducing Our New Logo

Check out these new releases!

February 2017’s Volunteer of the Month


Meet Keith! Keith Bell is a student at Riverheads High School, but is a well known young man around the library.As a child, he loved the library and began volunteering in middle school.  His favorite subject in school is English and he loves reading and writing as well as movies and music of all kinds. Learn more.

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St. Patrick’s Day at Peaks of Otter

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Spend your St. Patrick’s Day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia! Peaks of Otter has a menu planned for your getaway.

St. Patrick’s Day Buffet

Friday, March 17, 2017

4:30 – 9:00 PM

$19.95 – Adults

$9.95 – Children (12 years & under)

Prices subject to 5.3% State Tax, 4% Local Tax, and Gratuity
Beverages Are Additional

Groups of 6 or more are encouraged to call ahead,
540-586-1081.

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George W. Bush Addresses Media, Travel Ban, Russia on ‘Today Show’


In 2006, after 10 minutes of hilarious self-deprecating humor, President George W. Bush ended his remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner by thanking his side-kick, comedian Steve Bridges, and the dinner attendees with these words: “I want to thank Steve for being part of this fun evening. As most of my predecessors have known, it’s really important to be able to laugh in this job, and I thank you for giving us the chance to laugh with you tonight.”

“It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.” -President George W. Bush (February 27, 2017)

Former President George W. Bush sat down with Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” on Monday, and answered some tough questions head-on. For a president who stays in the background and refuses to be critical of current or past presidents, this time he was frankly honest as he responded to issues currently plaguing the Donald Trump administration.

Even as Trump’s war on the media continues and even ramps up, the video above reminds of the self-deprecating humor of George W. Bush during his years in the White House. As he noted in the video, “As most of my predecessors have known, it’s really important to be able to laugh in this job, and I thank you for giving us the chance to laugh with you tonight.” This was after he had been excoriated by the press and Democrats for six years; yet, he did not stay away from the correspondents’ annual dinner or stand them up. He played along, and was hilarious while doing so.

Here, in a nut shell, are the subjects touched on with Matt Lauer, as compiled by my journalist sister.

On the questions of RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE in the presidential election last year and Trump team contacts:
“I think we all need answers … I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.”

On the TRAVEL BAN:
“I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or to not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely.

“I understood right off the bat that this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people — they want to advance an ideology and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past.

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law.”

On Trump attacks on the FREE PRESS:
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account… Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse power, whether it be here or elsewhere… It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

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Tim Tebow Lives Out His Christian Belief With ‘Night to Shine,’ Everyday Deeds

“Night to Shine” now has its own music video with highlights of the proms held worldwide, and lyrics sung by Gary LeVox from Rascal Flats in a celebration of this special night that honors those with special needs. They each become king or queen for the night — they are the stars.

Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, “Night to Shine” 2017 was held in more than 375 host churches in all 50 states, and in 22 countries, and by 22 religious denominations, an event that continues to grow.

Each guest is given a crown for their prom, entering on a red carpeted as they are cheered by friends and family for their night to shine. They are presented with corsages and boutonnieres and, once inside, each is helped with hair and makeup, with shoe shining stations and karaoke and the dance.

Tim Tebow began “Night to Shine” because he wanted to be sure those with special needs felt important and loved, and to let them know there is a God who loves them. That’s what “Night to Shine” is all about –to share God’s love around the world. This year’s February 10th night has passed but all those volunteers will be preparing for next year’s event.

Keep in mind that Tim Tebow is 29 years old. The son of missionaries who served in the Philippines, he won the Heisman Trophy while at the University of Florida, was an NFL quarterback with the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, and New England Patriots, and plays professional baseball with the New York Mets. He is an on-air TV sports commentator, author, and sports radio commentator.

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Liberal Pundit Alan Colmes Has Passed Away at 66

alan-colmes-1Alan Colmes has passed away at the age of 66.

Anyone else remember “Hannity and Colmes,” the point-counterpoint debate-style talk show that aired in the evenings in the early days of Fox News when they presented pro and con sides of an issue? On the show that was on from 1996-2009, far right conservative Sean Hannity would square off against far left liberal Alan Colmes to discuss any- and everything political.

The show was entertaining and, while I normally did not agree with Colmes’ side of the discussion, he offered the other side of issues. However, it was kind of unsettling to see Hannity talk over Colmes as he responded, drilling into him when he tried to make a point. They finally parted ways, and Colmes went on to host a radio show for the Fox network while Hannity remained as the sole host of the TV show.

A little known fact is that Colmes’ sister-in-law was conservative commentator Monica Crowley who often appeared with Hannity and Colmes. His wife was Crawley’s sister, Dr. Jocelyn Crowley, who is a professor of public policy at Rutgers University.

No cause of death has been shared. RIP, Alan Colmes.

 

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The Maverick Rides Again

john-mccain-1This is long but an excellent read about Senator John McCain as the elder statesman of the Republican Party (see How Many Chances Do You Get to Be an American Hero?).

I met someone recently who made a comment that we needed to remove people like McCain from the party. I disagreed because the GOP needs those who are willing to speak out, even when it’s uncomfortable — and I have certainly not agreed with McCain about everything throughout the years.

His time as a prisoner of war in Hanoi, mocked during the 2016 presidential campaign by Donald Trump who did not serve in the military, shaped and influenced McCain’s path for the rest of his life.

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s,” he said during his nomination acceptance speech at the 2008 Republican convention. “I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.”

He is and has been America’s hawk with Russia which, amazingly, puts him sideways with the current administration. And lest anyone think he is picking on Trump, he has been the checks-and-balances, some would say thorn in the side, for each Republican president. He’s not called the Maverick for nothing.

Right now, as McCain stands up to the current situation in D.C., he is mostly alone. Writer Gabriel Sherman said, “I asked McCain why most of his fellow Republicans aren’t speaking up about Russia’s election interference and Trump’s potential Russian ties. ‘I frankly don’t know,’ he said. ‘It’s not a chapter of Profiles in Courage.’ “

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