Day: July 31, 2016

Go Fish

Somethings’s Fishy

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Potomac River is, “Can I eat the fish?” Well, you may not want to. In addition to urban runoff and sewage spills, there’s this. Dominion Power owns and operates the Possum Point Power plant located between Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. Power plants were located close to water systems for water to heat to produce electricity and to cool power generators. The plant burned coal from 1955 to 2003. Coal ash is disposed of in five retention “ponds”, basically holes in the ground, holding over a billion gallons of toxic coal ash and contaminated water. Coal ash contains metals that are toxic at high levels, including lead, arsenic, chromium, selenium and vanadium.\ Although switching to natural gas in 2003, the ponds are still being used to store millions of tons of this toxic slurry just a few feet from Quantico Creek. Some ponds were lined to prevent toxin leaching. Quantico Creek water samples show the presence of coal ash pollutants. In 2014, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network discovered all five ponds were seeping directly into the creek or leaching coal ash waste into local groundwater around the facility, resulting in groundwater contamination and illegal surface water discharges from the site. This is when the ash hit the fan. Complaints were filed in advance of Dominion applying for a permit to drain the ponds into Quantico Creek by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC), Maryland, the Potomac Riverkeeper (PRKN), and Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell. After a brief notification period, comments protesting the permit to allow the wastewater to flow began, but Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) found the Dominion process to be adequate. Apparently determining toxic chemicals can be diluted in the Potomac watershed. The PRKR reported that earlier this year, prior…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Castle Hill Cider

A refreshing alternative along Virginia’s wine trail. Castle Hill earned a place in the history books on June 3, 1781, when Jack Jouett set off on his perilous 40-mile ride to Charlottesville to warn Thomas Jefferson of an impending British raid. As the story goes, it was at Castle Hill that owners Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Walker succeeded in delaying British forces, providing time enough for Jouett to fulfill his mission and save the day. Today Castle Hill continues to make history as a world class event center and producer of artisan hard ciders. Located a short distance east of Charlottesville along the wine trail of Central Virginia, Castle Hill’s cidery and event center is spectacularly set among 600 acres of meadows, ponds and orchards with mountain vistas. In the cidery at Castle Hill, ciders are meticulously produced in small batches, using traditional and modern methods, and boast a crisp, contemporary style in a range of flavor profiles. Favorites among the assortment are the classic off-dry Celestial, a balanced blend with a firm tannin structure and notes of spice and citrus; the extra-dry Terrestrial, with notes of apple and peach and a clean, refreshing dry finish; and the fruit-forward, semi-dry Serendipity, with a hint of sweetness. Recently introduced and very popular is the fortified Big Pippin cider, with notes of fresh ginger on the nose, hints of vanilla and caramel on the palette, and a lengthy finish. Awards for Castle Hill’s ciders are many and include Silver medals for the Celestial and Ancient Orchard ciders at the 2016 Great Lakes International Cider competition and ‘Best Cider’ at the 2016 Virginia State Fair for the Serendipity. Castle Hill Cider is available to taste or purchase by the glass or bottle in the tasting room in Keswick. An assortment of specialty breads,…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

Manifesting the Life of Your Dreams: It’s Easier than you Think!

Manifesting the Life of Your Dreams: It’s Easier than you Think! By the time you read this I will be living in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains in Tucson, AZ! 21 years ago I made my first trip to Arizona and I fell in love. As a Northeastern native, this was a shock and surprise to me. Yes. It’s hot – my first trip was mid-July and it didn’t deter me one bit from falling madly, deeply in love with the landscape and southwestern lifestyle. You see, people consistently tell me and my hubby that we’re being brave for moving clear across the country and him without a solid job offer. It’s not so much brave as it is answering the calling of our hearts. I’m also asked what happens if we find out we don’t like it there. The answer is simple – we move back to DC or somewhere else. Since when did we get this idea that we’re meant to ignore our longings to shift and change our lives and our living situation? Staying put is great if that is your highest desire, but if you are called to fulfill a dream- whether it’s starting a business, getting married, pursuing a creative project or moving across the country – why do you stop yourself? I find many people feel righteous in what they define as their stability. Yet they’re mistaking stability for rigidity. Staying for the sake of staying is not the way I want to live my life. Neither is leaving simply for the sake of stirring the pot. Each of us knows what our true longings and desires are, and we’re the only ones who can make them come true. Simply wanting to make your dream come true isn’t enough of course. You’ve got…

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Featured Post, High Notes

Green & Gold: And Then The New Crow Came

Green & Gold: And Then The New Crow Came Tucked away in the farthest corner of North America is the magnificent island of Newfoundland. You may remember that I spent a summer up there in 2014, soaking up the culture and even laying down some roots. While much of Newfoundland’s music, landscape, and culture is reminiscent of a slightly more raucous Ireland, there is far more to discover once you really start paying attention. One such discovery is the music scene, particularly in St. John’s. Newfoundland has a rich musical heritage that goes back to the original settlers, who brought folk songs from their native English and Irish lands. This tradition can be heard today in Shanneyganock, Irish Descendants, Ryan’s Fancy, and Buddy Wasisname & The Other Fellers, as well as the late great Ron Hynes, Newfoundland’s answer to Bob Dylan. But that’s only one side of the story. Any time spent in St. John’s, at the listening stations in Fred’s Records, or anywhere near George Street will reveal a self-contained, thriving music scene, every bit as inspired as those found in Athens, Seattle, San Francisco, Halifax, and Boston. Some of these bands, such as Great Big Sea, The Once, and Hey Rosetta have found success off the island but, really, geographical isolation has kept most of these artists in town. This isolation has kept them from becoming big rock stars but it’s also created a scene that is diverse and about as true to itself as one could get. Every band sounds wildly different, yet they all still scream “St. John’s”. Whether it’s the Celtic punk of Rogues or the mellow folk of the Domestics, the laid-back island vibe of Baytown, the stoner metal of Sheavy, the quirky songwriting of Thom Coombes, or the post-punk sounds of London Above,…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Circling the Sun

Circling the Sun By Miriam R. Kramer Africa is not for the weak. When I lived in Africa as a child, I went on safari in Kenya and Tanzania. A hungry mongoose targeted my brother as the smallest and therefore weakest member of our group, causing us to grab him and retreat to the top of a table. A monkey grabbed the food out of my hand and then nimbly leaped off me and onto a tree branch. At night elephants brushed by our huts as they followed traditional paths to water. I saw firsthand that humans living on these harshly beautiful stretches of grassy savannah, cooler highlands, lakes, and forests always encounter the predators and prey inhabiting them. At some point early colonial settlers had to decide whether they would find the strength to eke out an existence by farming the land and raising livestock, refusing to become prey to either the wild or personal circumstances. Paula McClain’s book Circling the Sun gorgeously depicts the remarkable horse trainer, farmer, aviator, free spirit and inadvertent feminist pioneer Beryl Markham. Markham decided not to become prey as she matured from child to adult in the British East Africa Protectorate of the 1920s, suffered and found happiness while facing huge challenges, and wistfully watched her colonial home change as it became Kenya. As McClain notes, Markham’s parents moved to the British East Africa Protectorate from England, where her mother could not grow accustomed to the hardships involved in starting a farm in the isolated area of Njoro. She took Beryl’s frail brother Dickie back to England when Markham, then Beryl Clutterbuck, was a small child, leaving her under the care of her farming, horse-training father. Through benign neglect, Beryl grew up a wild urchin running free with her best male friend from…

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