Month: October 2015

Business Profile

Alexandria Businessmen buy Tula’s Off Main

By R.W Tagert Local Alexandrians, Mark Allen and John McCaslin, have recently purchased Tula’s Off Main, a contemporary American restaurant in Washington, VA (commonly referred to as Little Washington). I recently visited them at their restaurant to see if they had lost their minds…they haven’t. Both businessmen have homes in the area and absolutely love it out there, and they also bought the building. McCaslin was born in Alexandra at the old Alexandria Hospital, which was located at Duke and Washington Streets. Five years ago McCaslin bought a home in nearby Woodville and permanently moved out there last year. “You know, fifty years ago when I was a kid, Old Town was a little like this is out here,” he tells me, “there was a lot of space and green.” “Reminds me of my youth!” McCaslin graduated from Old Dominion University in 1980 with a degree in speech communication. In 1980 he began his journalism career in Kalispell, Montana (more green space), working as news director and anchor of radio station KOFI- AM. In 1982-84 he joined stations KJJR-AM and KBBZ-FM in Whitefish, Montana. He was also an award-winning correspondent for United Press International and was a stringer for NBC and ABC. In 1984, McCaslin returned home and joined the Washington Times as a White House correspondent. He was appointed assistant national editor, and became metropolitan editor when DC Mayor Marion Barry was the target of a federal investigation and indictment. In 1992 he began writing the popular column Inside the Beltway, which was later syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Chicago Tribune Media Services. He has contributed to a number of publications including Reader’s Digest and Tennis as well as traveled all over the world as a travel writer. McCaslin has been a regular guest on numerous…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publishers Notes

By Bob Tagert Well, here we go again, another month and another Publisher’s Notes. On second thought, if I think that this is tough, how about those great writers that contribute to this publication. I think that I better rethink my position. We have a fantastic group of talented people on board this crazy ship and cannot thank them enough for their contributions and dedication each month. The weather has changed more this past month than any month since last spring. Fall is definitely in the air, the leaves are changing and Halloween creeps up on us at the end of the month. Read about all of the ghosts that haunt Alexandria from Civil War times in Doug Coleman’s article in Civil Discourse. Our road trip is about the local mountains, where half of the folks on the east coast will be the next two months taking in the fall foliage. Our road trip took us to the Luray side of Skyline Drive at Thornton Gap. There is a lot of stuff to do in both Luray, Sperryville and Washington, Virginia, but the best time is to stay put and enjoy the scenery. If you do head for the mountains, check out our Destination Dining section for the best places to eat. It seems that there are more events to attend during the month of October than there are during the holidays this year. This month there is the first Harvest Taste of Solomons as well as the 49th annual Oyster festival in St. Mary’s County. The ghost tours of Old Town Alexandria will be in full swing and perfect for this time of year. It is also Virginia wine month, a great time to not only catch the fall foliage but also check out the harvest and taste some…

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Urban Garden

Urban Garden

By Jimmy Deaton Hi Folks. Can you believe it’s October already and yet we are still harvesting tomatoes and sweet peppers as well as chili’s including Jalapeno’s, Serrano’s and another one of our creations the Del Ray Cajun. This is a very versatile chili that has gotten a great review by national chili pod reviewer, Jim Johnson. You can watch the video on our website’s main page at This particular plant measures over 6 feet in width and is now just a tad under 6 feet tall. I want to touch base on what we will be doing this winter to ensure that we have some fresh vegetables and fruits available. Our set up consists of growing – in our finished basement – tomatoes, baby salad greens, microgreens and lemons and limes. We grow our plants under different lighting depending on the variety.   The microgreens and baby salad greens are grown on an industrial metal shelf that stands 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide with a 20 inch depth. They are 4 shelves each having a 48″ T-5 HO fluorescent tube to illuminate the shelf. For the microgreens we use 10’x20′ nursery flats using Sure to Grow mats which are inert, ph neutral and sterile. I personally love using these because you don’t have to worry about soil borne pathogens which could wreak havoc in an enclosed area such as a basement. Our microgreens go from seed to harvest in 10 days   The baby salad greens are grown the same way and we allow them to get about 3 sets of leaves before they are harvested. I’ll sometimes grow them in coco coir mix which I find superior over peat based mixes. Coco’s air to water ratio is greater than peat, does not compact like peat does…

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Financial Focus

Searching for Yield in Today’s Market

By Carl Trevison   Searching for Yield in Today’s Market   Income-oriented investors have had a tough go of it for the past several years. Persistently low interest rates have curtailed traditional sources of yield. Yet, by broadening their search criteria, investors may uncover new ways to diversify their income portfolios with potentially more attractive options. Consider Total Return When evaluating income-generating opportunities investors need to consider total return — income plus price appreciation, while maintaining a consistent focus on risk reduction. When you think in these terms, certain asset classes can emerge as relatively more attractive. Given these parameters, here are a few equity and fixed-income investments to consider. Equity real estate investment trusts (REITs) — Equity REITs are investments consisting of diversified portfolios of commercial real estate that are publicly traded on major exchanges.1 Because their focus tends to be on owning U.S.-based properties, equity REITs stand to benefit from improving economic conditions, such as the boost in U.S. job growth, which, in turn, could increase demand for commercial real estate. From a yield perspective, REITs are required to distribute 90% of their annual income to shareholders in the form of dividend payments. When this income-generating capability is coupled with real estate’s potential to appreciate in value, equity REITs may be considered an attractive investment from a total return perspective. To manage risk, it is wise to maintain a portfolio that is broadly diversified by property type, location, and geographic area. In addition, even though equity REITs are considered equity investments, they historically have had a low correlation with stocks, which allows investors to benefit from the potential for enhanced returns while lowering their equity portfolio’s overall risk profile. Global bonds — One of the key arguments for considering an allocation to global bonds is to add currency…

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Featured Post

Alexandria’s Civil War Ghosts and Graveyards

By Doug Coleman ALEXANDRIA’S CIVIL WAR GHOSTS AND GRAVEYARDS In 1860 the population of Alexandria was 12,862. When the Civil War ended five years later, about half this number of Union soldiers, “contrabands” and Confederate prisoners remained behind in Alexandria’s cemeteries. It is not surprising, then, that a few restless souls remain behind as well. Among these may be the first two combat casualties of the war, Elmer Ellsworth and James W. Jackson. Jackson was the proprietor of the Marshall House, a hotel located at the southeast corner of King and Pitt. A secessionist and ardent patriot, Jackson flew a large Confederate flag from the roof of his hotel, so large that Lincoln could see it from the White House. Lincoln requested his friend Ellsworth, a colonel of the New York regiment of Fire Zouaves, tear the flag down. He did so when Alexandria was occupied on May 24, 1861.   Jackson took exception, fatally wounding Ellsworth in the left breast with a shotgun blast as he descended the stairway from the roof. A zouave named Brownell won the Medal of Honor avenging Ellsworth by shooting Jackson in the face, then bayonetting him for good measure. The site of the Marshall House is today occupied by the Hotel Monaco, where a plaque commemorates Jackson’s defiance of Federal tyranny – sic semper tyrannis. Lore is that spirits persist on the sixth floor, in the location of the old staircase where the struggle over the flag occurred. The Mansion House Hotel, gone now but once located in the front yard of the Carlyle House, was used as a hospital. The upcoming PBS series Mercy Street is set in this hospital. One or more of the wounded threw themselves out of the upper stories to end their suffering on the bricks below. Heads up…

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To the Blue Ridge

The Perfect Puff

By Julie Reardon “You had our hearts from the start, little brown puppy with the nappy fur born on a summer night 15 years ago. There was never any question which of the six puppies we would keep from a special litter I bred specifically for my next dog the first year we owned Hope Springs Farm. And we named you Puffin because it fit and you picked us to be your people before your eyes were even open. We were smitten.” Of course she was cute in the endearing way all puppies are, but there was no hint in that wooly brown fur of the rich coppery red color her adult coat would be. And what a magnificent beauty she would mature into. Of course she liked birds and retrieving; she was descended from generations of waterfowl hunting dogs dating back to 1807. She was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the only true American sporting dog, first AKC recognized breed, a dog bred by and for Americans to hunt our country: canine royalty. I’d had Chesapeakes for nearly 20 years by the time Puffin was born, but other than a little casual hunting and varmint control, they were mostly pets and steadfast farm companions. She represented the fourth generation of what, at that time, was just a casual, once every 5 or 7 years’ breeding program. So there was no reason to think she’d be exceptional, just another in a long line of good dogs. Since Puffin showed a little talent, and her sire had been a serviceable but not spectacular field trial dog, I decided to try retriever hunting tests, where initially she showed outstanding promise. I, however, had a steeper learning curve and was the weak link of the team, pushing her to do things she hadn’t been…

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Events, Events

National Harbor Events October 2015

National Harbor Events October 2015 Saturdays and Sundays 10:00 am- 5:00 pm Millers Farm Market On American Way Miller Farms offers a wide variety of local seasonal fruits and vegetables along with some imports – lemons, limes, pineapple, etc. – as well as baked goods and flowers. It is getting to be mum season and you can find yours here. Fitness on the Potomac with WillPower Functional Fitness On the Plaza – Free! 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm 1st – Cardio Kickboxing Movies on the Potomac Encore! On the Plaza – Free! 4:00 pm 2nd – James and the Giant Peach New Time! This is an encore airing of this movie. If you missed it last month, you can see it now! Bring your chairs and grab food to go from one of the fun places on the plaza and meet in front of the jumbo screen. Fun for everyone. No coolers.   24th Harbor Halloween 11:00 am – 2:30 pm The Black Dog Howl-loween Party Come to the Black Dog at 121 Waterfront Street for some Halloween fun for your furry friend! Make new friends and enjoy a scenic tour of the Harbor. The Meet and Greet is from 11am – 12pm. At 2pm, you and your pup will proceed down the ramp to National Plaza, pass the Gaylord Hotel, and make your way down Fleet Street and American Way. You’ll end up back at the Black Dog, where prizes will be awarded! All dogs must be leashed or they cannot walk. 12 Noon – 2:00 pm Trick or Treating at participating merchants! 12:30 pm Hocus Pocus the movie on the Big Screen! 2:00 pm National Harbor Chef Pumpkin Carving Contest Come one, come all! Prince George’s County Police Department will have their very best officers in attendance to…

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Go Fish

Teaching an Old Bass Guide a New Trick

By Steve Chaconas For the last 30 years, I’ve been a bass hound. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and occasional snakehead were all I targeted. I’d become a species, and tackle, snob. Spinning and baitcasting reels with heavy line and large hooks are my weapons of choice. I winch fish to my high performance Skeeter bass boat, powered by a 250 HP Yamaha outboard. Guiding allows me to fish with anglers of varied skill levels and backgrounds. Some anglers bring spinning reels. Some casting reels. But the dreaded appearance of a fly rod backlashes my mind.   Occasionally fly fishermen come aboard for a Potomac River bass trip. With eyebrows raised, I observe with interest as they piece together 9-foot rods, thread heavy fly line, only to tie on light leaders and very small lures. Flailing and subsequent failing begins. Casting at best about 50 feet, they can’t reach strike zones. Spinning or casting outfits can effortlessly reach 100 feet. Tiny fly lures are no match for big, bad and boisterous bass plugs designed not to imitate but instead to intimidate bass into biting. Fly rods are put aside in favor of bass tackle.   After many attempts by fly anglers to get me to cross over, I finally accepted the challenge. Meeting Orvis Master Certified Casting Instructor Dan Davala, my education began. They have a different rod for everything. Lots of lines too. Floating, sinking, different weights and tapers, main line and backing had to be mechanically spooled on the reel with a special winding machine. Tapered leaders tie to the fly line. Tippets tie to the leaders. I use GAMMA lines for bass fishing and was pleased to learn GAMMA specialized in fly lines. A call to fishing line expert Dale Black and appropriate GAMMA Frog Hair leader and…

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Pets, Places, & Things

King Street Cat Adoption Schedule October 2015

For details please see our Website:   Or contact us via email at:   King Street Cats 25 Dove Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1.30pm-4.30pm   Pro Feed Bradlee Shopping Center, 3690 King St, Alexandria, VA 22302 Every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm-4pm   Petco Unleashed 1101 S Joyce St, Arlington, VA 22202 Saturday, October 3 from 10am-2pm Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 from 1pm-4pm   The Dog Park 705 King Street, Alexandria, VA22314 Saturday, October 10 from 1pm-4pm   Dogma 2772 S Arlington Mill Dr, Arlington VA, VA 22206 Sunday, October 11 from 1pm-4pm   King Street Cats is looking for foster homes! You provide the spare room and TLC and we can provide food, litter and all vetting. Please email for our Kitten Fostering FAQ at:

From the Bay

Oyster Farming: Sustainability on a Half Shell

By R.W. Tagert At the beginning of 2000 the oyster industry was at an all time low and the Chesapeake Bay had just recorded its lowest oyster harvest in history. This is about the time that individuals and the states of Maryland and Virginia began to bring the oyster back to dominance. The states began programs for education and helped new private enterprises with the concept of oyster farming, or aquaculture. The Marine Resources Commission strongly encouraged gardening and farming of oysters and clams. These bi-valves provide important economic and environmental benefits. In fact, a single adult oyster can purge 60 gallons of water a day! Shellfish farming reduces harvest pressure on wild stocks, while increasing the overall number of shellfish that help clean the water and serve as habitat for fish and crabs. In the last decade oyster farming has become a booming multi-million dollar industry. Oyster farming under private piers and along the shoreline of privately owned waterfront property has become increasingly popular among environmentally concerned citizens. By encouraging oyster farming on the tributaries that flow into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, the waters entering the Bay have become cleaner and clearer than in the past. Disease, habitat loss, over harvesting, and poor water quality have left the Chesapeake Bay’s iconic wild oysters in a dismal state, at just 0.3 percent of their teeming population in the early 1800’s, according to a 2011 research study by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies. Increasing the Chesapeake’s oyster population is a high priority in Maryland. That is because of the creatures’ ability to filter vast amounts of water, improving its quality. However, restoring self-sustaining populations of wild oysters to significant levels may prove difficult because of a host of ecological, economic, and cultural hurdles. For example, generations…

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