Day: March 28, 2017

Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

The Secret of Havana!

The Secret of Havana By Adam Morel An old woman living in a tiny home, working slavishly over a hot stove, making strong coffee for three strangers. A middle aged man with a tattered shirt and bloodshot eyes, giving a bear hug, speaking emphatically in a language his new found friend cannot understand. A single mother with bright eyes, writing directions in broken English to a neighborhood gathering later in the evening. A plump, optimistic neighbor serving bread and eggs, fruit and ham, walking gingerly though a buckling hallway without a ceiling, to a table set with pewter and lace. An old man laughing in the street, refusing to help with directions until the lost soul first “makes friendship” with him as he shows off prized photographs hung carefully on the splattered walls of his collapsing cantina. An elderly, well-to-do couple, pointing with pride from building to building, watching the reaction of their esteemed guests, eyes misting as they describe the loss of their beloved Fidel. A busy driver with a tiny American flag hanging from his mirror, lustily sharing his black market successes, talking politics while racing between towns to show off the countryside. A gangly, weathered farmer nervously clutching a cardboard box in a dilapidated barn, fearfully selling sell clandestine cigars for three pesos each. A tourist with a make-believe beard and an anxious heart, overwhelmed. ———————————- You can read all the books, look at all the photographs and watch all the documentaries. Nothing prepares you for Havana – or reveals its true nature. Yes, the classic automobiles, the majestic colonial architecture and the pulsing music are there, all of it more vibrant, more splendid, more everything, than depicted. And yes, the cobblestone streets and the crumbling asphalt ones too, literally teem, day and night, with life –…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Faking the Glow!

By Genevieve LeFranc   Skirt hems are getting shorter; chalky, winter skin is peaking out from under stuffy layers; and store windows are already showing off tiny bikinis and resort wear. The weather is getting warmer, which means shorts, sundresses, tank tops—and with it—bare skin. If you’re not blessed with one of the rich brown mocha skin tones of your African, Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern sisters, you can get a jump on summer by transforming your skin from milky, winter white to glowing, supple bronze.   There’s no doubt—a tan makes you feel prettier, look healthier, and enhances muscle definition. Nothing beats being on the receiving end of compliments on your luminescent complexion when you’ve been putting in overtime at the office and haven’t seen the light of day in weeks. However, by now we all know the perils of overexposure to the sun and baking in it during your vacation is the fastest way to age skin, speed the formation of wrinkles, and increase your chances of developing skin cancer (I won’t even get into tanning beds but if you’re using one, stop immediately). If you’re ready and willing to pass up or at least drastically reduce laying out but don’t want to give up that warm healthy glow, self-tanners are one of the best options. Some formulas do a great job of building color gradually with natural results that can last up to a week, but many self-tanners get a bad rap for their less than pleasant smell, streaky application, or orangutan-like results.   Skeptics, take note! Follow these tips, do’s and don’ts, and suggestions for the best formulas, and you’ll be looking like an exotic island princess in no time—no vacation required.   It’s not only about the product you choose. You need to know the…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden


By Jimmy Deaton aka Farmer D   This month I want to focus on what is without a doubt the most popular veggie grown in most gardens, and that is tomatoes. They are probably the most widely used and versatile vegetable around. From sandwiches to salads, pasta sauce or tomato juice, the pickled green tomatoes found in cupboards, and of course my all-time favorite……fried green tomatoes.   So why talk about tomatoes in April? To give everyone the heads up on how to grow the best plants they can resulting in an abundant harvest. Whether growing from seed or purchasing the plants from a garden center or other retail destination, there are some tricks to the trade.   The site should have a light fertile soil that is rich in organic matter but not too much nitrogen. So, be careful adding heaps of rotted manure or organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen. You’ll get big leafy plants but very little in the way of fruits. Lobster compost or Bumper Crop added to the soil will give your plants what they need. Espoma’s Tomato Tone sprinkled around the drip line or a compost tea made from worm castings sprayed directly on the plants will do wonders. They also love full sun and we have ours situated on the south side of the house. With it being bricked and throwing off the heat at night, we have harvested tomatoes up untill December some years.   Sowing seeds is easy, but make sure you use a good quality potting mix-preferably one that is a seed starting mix. Sow the seeds about 6 weeks before you plan to transplant into the mix. About 1/4″ depth is ideal. Keep the mix moist but definitely not soggy. A heat mat is great for germination. Once they germinate,…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge


By Jeff McCord It’s no wonder that President Lincoln wanted the Virgin Islands. By 1863, the second year of the Civil War (which began in April, 1861), Union patience was being stretched thin by “rebel pirates” and “English rebel agents” frequenting then Danish and neutral St. Thomas, to quote Rear-Admiral Charles Wilkes, Commander of the U.S. West Indies Squadron in a dispatch to Washington, DC headquarters. Admiral Wilkes was not a man to trifle with. Previously court-martialled for severe treatment of his own men during an Antarctica expedition he commanded, some believe Wilkes was the model for Herman Melville’s half-mad Captain Ahab in “Moby Dick.” And, searching for Confederate ships back in 1861, Wilkes had illegally blockaded the neutral British island of Bermuda and even fired upon the Trent, a Royal Mail Steamer, forcing it to stop. He then boarded the vessel and arrested two Confederate diplomats found on-board, causing a crisis that nearly led to war with Great Britain, which was profitably trading with the South. Now, in early 1863, he commanded several formidable war ships in the West Indies and was keeping an eye on St. Thomas. With one of the best harbors and marine repair facilities in the Caribbean, Danish St. Thomas was the Western Hemisphere headquarters of the British Royal Mail Steamship company and a major provisioning port for steamers and sailing vessels crossing the Atlantic and traveling between South and North America. Confederate blockade runners and privateers were also using St. Thomas for coaling, repairs and provisioning. They frequently attacked Union ships in nearby waters. “Rebel cruisers have been roving unrestrained upon the seas, terrifying our merchant ships, and committing fearful havoc upon our commerce,” Admiral Wilkes later explained when accused of overzealousness in the West Indies. One example of “fearful havoc” by the Confederate…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Adopting a Pet: What to Ask Yourself First

Adopting a Pet: What to Ask Yourself First   By Lily Walker     There’s an old pop song that asks, “How much is that doggie in the window?” The person posing the question is thinking about getting a dog, based on the pup’s waggly tail. We fall in love with animals and want to adopt them for all kinds of reasons. But before you embark on the adventure of living with a pet for the rest of its life, consider the following.   Why do I want a pet?   This is one of the few things in life over which we have control, so take time to think about your reasons for wanting a pet. This new family member could be around for the next 10 to 20 years, so consider the responsibilities of a long-term commitment to another creature. Do you want a companion for your ailing parents? A best friend for yourself? A pal for your kids? What kind of animal would suit you and your family best and would you be able to best care for?   Can I afford to have a pet?   Just like a two-legged addition to your family, there are initial as well as lifelong expenses involved when adopting a pet. Besides the basic costs of food and veterinary bills (which can be hundreds of dollars a year for routine, preventive health care), consider items such as a bed, leash and collar, kennel/carrier, litter and litter box, toys, or scratching post. If your pet develops a veterinary condition that requires long-term or permanent care, are you prepared to pay for medicines and other treatment and maintain the daily routine for such care? If you adopt a dog, what about grooming, bathing, and obedience training?   Does my lifestyle support having…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month

Mya Papaya (A069976): Meet the smiley Mya Papaya! Mya Papaya is a nine-year-old Bulldog mix who weighs about 75 pounds. She usually needs a few minutes to warm up to strangers, but once she does she’s as sweet and silly as can be! Our staff and volunteers have enjoyed getting to know Mya Papaya and learning lots of things about her. For instance- she offers a beautiful “sit” whenever there’s a yummy treat in your hand! We have also learned that she does not like other dogs and will need to be the only pet in the home- but trust us when we say that she’ll give you all the puppy love you could hope for! Some of her other favorite pastimes include: laying in the grass, soaking up the sun, and going for leisurely strolls through the woods.   Eduardo (A069182): Introducing Eduardo! Eduardo came to the AWLA as a stray in October and he is still looking for his new home. He is a dashingly handsome kitty with medium-length hair, estimated to be about two years old. We have learned quite a lot about Eduardo’s likes and dislikes over the past few months. For example, when he was housed in an office here, we discovered that he makes a great desk ornament where he enjoys supervising your productivity and keeping you company. He has also shared with us that he does not want any dog-friends, or even dog roommates for that matter, just some lucky humans who will give him plenty of chin rubs and playtime. Because Eduardo does have a little bit of an edge to him, we think he would be happiest in an adult-only home. If you think this charming cat could be the one for you, come fall in love with him today!  …

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History, History Column

WWI: The Centennial

By Sarah Becker ©2017 WWI: The Centennial “Woodrow Wilson may well have witnessed more dramatic changes in national and global affairs than any other president since [George] Washington,” Carter Smith wrote. “He entered Presidential office [on March 4, 1913] a highly regarded reformer.” His foreign policy was not nearly as aggressive as his domestic. Then talk of war in Europe divided America. On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on Russia; on France two days later. President Wilson, a Democrat elected on an anti-war platform, responded by ordering wireless telegraph stations to remain neutral. Neutrality was policy with a presidential pedigree. “The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men’s souls,” Wilson explained on August 19, 1914. Europe’s continental war expanded when Germany raided Great Britain in January 1915. On May 7, 1915 Alexandria resident, British national and second cabin passenger John Booth lost his life while cruising aboard the RMS Lusitania. The 32,500 ton RMS Lusitania was traveling from New York to Liverpool. Booth, age 35, was sunk; German U-boat Captain Walther Schwieger—with the blast of a submerged torpedo—buried him at sea. London, May 7, 1915…“The giant Cunarder, Lusitania, was torpedoed and sunk off Old head, Kinsale at 3:38 o’clock this morning,” the Alexandria Gazette related. “All details are lacking but, it is reported the passengers and crew have taken to the boats and were saved.” In fact 1,198 passengers died including 128 Americans. Philadelphia, May 10, 1915…“The example of America must be a special example, not merely of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the healing and elevating influence of the world,” President Wilson said. “There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

High School Talent Shines!

By F. Lennox Campello Last month I had the honor and pleasure to jury The Friends of The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery’s 18th Annual High School Student Art Exhibition. This art competition is an annual event for all high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from Montgomery County, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington DC. To say that I was astounded by the quality of this show would be a gigantic understatement! And I decided to focus this month’s column on that exhibition – and the associated annual call for High School artists. In part because I was so impressed by the work, but also because I was disappointed to see that very few Northern Virginia and DC students submitted work. I want you to take this column, cut it out of the newspaper, and pass it to a High School art teacher. Dear High School Art Teacher: Make a note of this – and contact the The Friends of The Yellow Barn Studio ( so that you get the call next year and pass it to your students! Look at the examples of the work… prepare to be astounded! Let me tell you, after several decades of jurying, curating, reviewing, and looking at hundreds of art competitions, exhibitions, and fairs, it is rare for me to walk into a room full of art awaiting to be juried, and still be completely (and pleasantly) surprised by the extraordinary amount of talent, creativity and skill present in that room! And yet this was exactly the case with this competition: It must be clear to the most casual observer, that once you view the works that I selected for this show, that there’s an extraordinary abundance of artistic capital in these young minds. The award winners and selected artists must be congratulated for…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer


by Ryan Unverzagt Spring is in the air and hopefully all those heavy snow storms will be a distant memory. April is one of my favorite months because the weather is usually making a turn for the better (my birthday is in April too!). If you like the warmer weather, chances are you will be spending much more time outside, which means less time at the health club; but don’t let your fitness routine melt away like the winter snow! If you are a weekend warrior who loves to compete in various sports throughout the year, or just an Ordinary Joe who’s looking for something new, you should consider adding plyometrics to your exercise program. Plyometrics is a form of jump training that has been proven to increase the muscle’s ability to produce power. Why is this important? An increase in power results in an increase in speed, strength, or a combo of the two, which means you will have an advantage over your competition and be lighter on your feet. Another benefit of plyometric training is it can be performed outside (where it will soon be nice) with minimal equipment needed. There are a few things to remember before even trying plyometric exercises – age, strength, body weight, previous injuries and training experience. Because of the intense nature of plyometrics, the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) recommends a lower-body strength prerequisite before starting any jump training. A person must be strong enough to free-weight squat at least 1.5 times their own body weight. For example, a 180 lb person must be able to squat a minimum of 270 lbs! Don’t worry; you will need about six months of progressive resistance training to reach this strength guideline. The minimum age requirement depends on the physical and mental maturity level…

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