Month: April 2019

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

How to Grow Corn Poppies – Six Easy Steps Corn poppies, (Papaver rhoeas), also known as Flanders poppies, field poppies or Shirley poppies, are hardy annuals with vividly colored, papery red, pink or white blooms that rise above lacy foliage. The fuzzy stems reach heights of 2 feet and more at maturity. Easily grown by seed, corn poppies are often planted by state highway departments for spectacular displays of color along roadsides across the nation. Corn poppies are beautiful as cut flowers and the dried seed pops add interest to dry floral arrangements. Step 1 Plant corn poppy seeds directly on top of cultivated soil. In mild climates, plant the seeds in late fall or early spring when soil temperatures are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Corn poppies thrive in full sunlight and rich, well-drained soil. If the soil is poor, incorporate 2 to 3 inches of compost or manure prior to planting. Step 2 Water corn poppies when the top of the soil feels dry. Saturate the root zone thoroughly, as shallow waterings promote a shallow root system. For best results, water by hand with a hose or use a drip system to keep the foliage as dry as possible. If you use a sprinkler, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry before evening. Soggy soil and damp foliage place the plant at risk of rot and fungal diseases. Step 3 Spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch around the plants in the spring. An organic mulch such as shredded leaves or dry grass clippings keeps the roots cool, conserves moisture and prevents the growth of weeds. Step 4 Apply a balanced liquid or granular fertilizer if newly emerging foliage has a yellowish appearance. Use the fertilizer in accordance with label recommendations. As…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Adopting a Pet with Special Needs

Adopting a Pet with Special Needs What does it mean to adopt a pet with special needs? Adopting and caring for a pet with special needs can be quite a rewarding experience and often not as harrowing as imagined. Pets with special needs come in all shapes and sizes with varying needs. Some experience mental challenges, like anxiety or depression, while others experience physical challenges like missing limbs and sight or hearing loss.  Others experience internal challenges, like heart or kidney disease. Aging pets also fit into this category because many will experience changes to their sight, hearing or organ functions during their later years. What is it like to care for a pet with special needs? It can be difficult until you understand the pet’s situation and what is needed. Once you understand what’s going on, routine sets in and whatever seemed abnormal in the beginning rapidly becomes the new norm. Bean and Jazzy Two of our three cats have special needs, and I’m happy and blessed to tell you I’ve had them since they were kittens and they are now 14 and 15 years old.  Mya, or Bean as we like to call her, is experiencing hearing loss, a common ailment in senior cats. Jasper, aka Jazzy or Buster McKittyface, suffers occasional seizures, has lost sight in one eye and recently developed kidney disease, a possible side effect from years of taking phenobarbital to reduce the frequency and severity of the seizures. Bean is basically the same cat she always was with the addition of more frequent and louder meowing (often in the dead of the night) and new acts of bravery involving the vacuum monster, which no longer frightens her because she can’t hear it. We haven’t had to change our routine other than making an effort…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month

Rocky, Young, Male, Black Mouse Rocky might not be a flying squirrel but he’s still quite the jokester!  He’s working on his standup comedy routine, starting with comments on the weather – “I’m not going outside!  It’s raining cats and dogs!” – and riff at his friends – “Mickey sounds like he could use some oil.  Have you heard the way he squeaks?”  This comedic little mouse is always ready to show off for the audience, and he’d love to show off for you! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Rocky – Photo courtesy of Alison Lane Photography Aimee, Adult, Spayed Female, Grey Tabby Domestic Shorthair Hello! I’m Aimee and I’m a one of a kind gal because I love every cat I meet!  I have lots of feline friends in my staff office and would love to have a kitty sibling in my future family.  I can be a little unsure about meeting new people but with another whiskered friend by my side, I’ll show you just want a cuddly lady I can be! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Aimee – Photo courtesy of Shelley Castle Photography Sassy, Adult, Spayed Female, Brown and Black Boxer Sassy is a Boxer who loves life! While her shelter-given name may be Sassy; her true identity is Wiggle Bum! She’s the happiest girl in the world, and you’ll never find her without a smile and a tail waggle… well maybe when she’s sleeping! This sweet, sassy lady is looking for a home where she can go on all the adventures and have a cozy couch to crash on (what can we say, we think she deserves the best of both worlds!). One glance at this charming lady, and you’ll want to take her home in a heartbeat… don’t believe us? Stop by the AWLA and give…

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Personality Profile

Laz & Szilvia Bazals – From Hungary to Fort Hunt

By Lori Welch Brown Laz & Szilvia Bazals – From Hungary to Fort Hunt Typically this column is about the personality of a single person, but it’s hard to choose between the personalities of Laz or Szilvia when you have the unique and special personality of the spa they own and operate itself to consider.  It’s a lovefest!  First—it’s is overwhelmingly clear that Laz and Szilvia truly clearly care about the wellness of their clients—there are no shortage of hugs and/or special offers for those who enter.  Second—their mission of wellness translates over into the space they have worked so hard to renovate and put their own signature on.  Chip and Johanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame have nothing on them!  Laz has a passion for doing physical work—not only using his hands for massage, but for building and renovating.  It has paid off because he has done a fantastic job in the spa’s make over.  Szilvia’s talent for decorating proves that they are a terrific complement to each other’s skills.  What little spare time they have is spent renovating their home in the Shenandoah Mountains—they are turning it into a log cabin. Don’t ya’ just love a good spa day?  All that girly-girl pampering and blissing out feels like just what the doctor ordered.  Paint my nails passion pink, please!  Other days, you actually feel like you need doctor’s orders to cure those little aches and pains that often come with a maturing body (who, me?), fatigue, strained muscles, illness, injury and plain ol’ everyday stress, wear and tear.  I need a massage stat!  Code blue!  That’s where my pals at Ft. Hunt Massage and Spa come in.  I can get all blissed out and get the kinks worked out at the same time thanks to Laz and Szilvia. …

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Veterans Day and D.C.’s Memorials

By Bob Tagert Veterans Day and D.C.’s Memorials This month we decided it would be a great opportunity to revisit the war memorials and military memorials in our Nations Capital area. The crisp fall is perfect for a brisk walk around D.C. and most of the tourists are gone or certainly in smaller numbers. Also, with the election happening and the conflicts in which we are engaged, I thought it a good time to reconnect with the past. We will begin our journey on the National Mall adjacent to Constitution Gardens. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a 2-acre national memorial that pays tribute to the brave members of the United States Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War and were killed or missing in action (MIA). The Memorial consists of three separate parts: The Three Soldiers statue, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall…or simply, the “Wall”, which is the most popular feature. The memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, with rangers on duty to answer questions from 9:30 am to 10 pm daily.      Perhaps the Memorial Wall’s most defining characteristic is a visitor’s ability to see his or her reflection at the same time as the engraved names, connecting the past and the present like few other monuments can. Of all my years in this area the only other places that demand this level of respect is Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. Just south of the wall is the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, which serves to commemorate the 265,000 women that served in the Vietnam War, many of whom worked as nurses. The 2,000 pound bronze structure stands 15 feet tall and depicts three women attending to a wounded soldier, reflecting the unity required during the struggle…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

A Tribe of Her Own

By Lori Welch Brown A Tribe of Her Own I pride myself on being a girl’s girl.  The friendships I’ve built with other females have sustained me my entire life.  I grew up with three brothers so I wasn’t born into a sisterhood, but I learned early on that a girl tribe was important to not only my personal well-being, but also my development and overall sanity.  My first childhood bestie had an older sister, and I was jealous of that dynamic except on the days they were fighting like two alley cats.  Over the years, I’ve cultivated a veritable garden of friends and they all nourish my soul in different ways.  They feed my need for inner calm, peace and harmony.  A few recognize and join me in my need to occasionally howl at the moon.  Some join me on the yoga mat; others saddle up next to me for happy hour and venting.  A couple others pull up an easel beside me as we encourage each others’ creative muse.  Others offer sage professional advice; others relationship wisdom.  They range in age from ten years my junior to a couple decades on the journey ahead of me.  A couple of my besties recently joined me at the beach and my sides still hurt from all the raucous laughter.  Lucky for me, my head stopped hurting after only one day from the hangover.  Ouch. As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about ALL the great women in my life—my Mother being the first one on the scene.  Mom has been gone from this planet 13 years—long enough that I have to stop and think of the year, but not so long that I’ve forgotten that she loved Dr. Phil, Peppermint Patties, a good pair of…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Flowers of Yesteryear

The Flowers of Yesteryear By Miriam R. Kramer In her debut novel, Lilac Girls, and its recently released prequel, Lost Roses, author Martha Hall Kelly tells the story of resilient women torn apart by the conflicts and revolutions in twentieth-century Europe, and how they unite to flower together in an unexpected fashion. When the winds of war screech across the land, tossing dead leaves and tearing the twigs that skitter across flowerbeds, these dormant blooms wait for a sun yet to come. In Lilac Girls, released in 2016, Kelly introduces us to three women who must choose roles within the terrible play of the Second World War. Caroline Ferriday, a New York society woman, philanthropist, and former Broadway actress, has chosen to volunteer at the French Consulate in New York. When Hitler invades Poland in September of 1939, she scrambles to continue sending care packages to orphanages in France while helping dazed refugees arriving in a United States that is granting fewer and fewer visas. In Lublin, Poland, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Catholic teenager, decides after the German invasion to work for the Polish underground and resist the Nazis. Doctor Herta Oberheuser, a cold, driven German doctor who wants to be a surgeon, battles sexism in a world where women are supposed to remain domestic and procreate to populate Nazi Germany. When offered a government position as a camp physician at a Nazi re-education camp, she takes the challenge to prove herself as a medical professional. When Caroline meets a famous Parisian actor, Paul Rodierre, she falls in love. Despite returning her affections, he decides to return home to aid his estranged part-Jewish wife, who is in danger from Nazi collaborators.  In the meantime, Kasia and Herta’s actions put them on a collision course that will leave them both collateral damage…

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History, History Column

Walt Whitman and the Civil War

by ©2019 Sarah Becker Walt Whitman and the Civil War “In midnight sleep of many a face of anguish, Of the look at first of the mortally wounded, (of that indescribable look),” poet Walt Whitman wrote in 1867 in Old War Dreams.  “Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide, I dream, I dream, I dream….Long have they pass’d, faces and trenches and fields, Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away from the fallen, Onward I sped at the time—but now of their forms at night, I dream, I dream, I dream.” In 1861 the United States offered approximately 40 medical schools and six schools of pharmacy.  Despite the seeming sophistication, Civil War hospitals were mostly makeshift.  “The [Prince Street] house is commodious, and, for a confiscated dwelling, is very fine,” the Alexandria Gazette noted in 1864. Alexandria’s Civil War hospitals included Prince Street Hospital, Lyceum Hall, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House and Episcopal Seminary.  Also Prince Street’s L’Ouverture Hospital for colored troops.  Medical and other supplies were secured, in part, from Fairfax Street’s Leadbeater & Co. including Lamp Oil, Charcoal, Castile Soap, Laudanum and Morphine Sulph.    Virginia seceded from the Union on May 24, 1861, only to find the Federal Army ready to stake an Alexandria claim.  Occupied Alexandria, a budding hospital town, served as an Army logistical supply center.  It operated alongside the city of Washington, Georgetown and Aquia Creek.    “Still sweeping the eye around down the river toward Alexandria, we see, to the right, the locality where the Convalescent Camp stands, with its five, eight, or sometimes ten thousand inmates,” Walt Whitman penned.  Whitman, a New Yorker, traveled to Washington in 1862 to search for his brother George, missing in the Battle of Fredericksburg.  He called infirmaries the “marrow…

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Featured Post, High Notes

Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 by Todd Snider

High Notes By Ron Powers Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 by Todd Snider On Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 Todd Snider employs the great forms of Folk, Blues, and Country to frame his views on life, love, and politics. Using bare-bone arrangements, Snider continues in the centuries-old tradition of American Roots music and brings us a collection of picture-perfect songs. The first thing that struck me about Cash Cabin was its parallels to Bob Dylan’s second studio album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.  At times, Snider’s vocal is strikingly similar to Dylan’s. Snider also has a wit and charm which bears a resemblance. These similarities feel much less like mimicry though. It’s more a case of being cut from the same cloth. Cash Cabin begins with a tune called “Working on a Song”. Here, Snider poetically expresses the often heartbreaking experience of chasing a dream. This song’s emotional impact is largely expressed through the way Snider sings it. There’s a touching vulnerability to his delivery. You almost hear tears welling up as he sings the lines. Next, we hear a more playful song called “Talking Reality Television Blues”. This is one of my favorites off the LP. Here, Snider takes us on an abbreviated journey through the history of Television and makes a thought-provoking connection between it and the current state of American politics. It’s songs like these that put Todd Snider in the rare class of musicians who actually have something to say. Cash Cabin isn’t just a quaint collection of well written tunes. At times it’s as if nature herself is possessing Snider, breathing a message to the world. This is most evident on songs like “A Timeless Response to Current Events”. Here we get a glimpse into the historic knowledge, and social/political insight Snider has. Whether you agree…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

30 Virginia Wineries that Lay Out a Feast

By Nancy Bauer 30 Virginia Wineries that Lay Out a Feast It’s May, so we’re talking moms. Now my mom, she loved a good lunch. She lived in Annapolis after my dad passed away, and I’d drive out every Sunday to take her to whichever restaurant had recently struck her fancy. She’d always look at the menu and say, “Chicken” with a big sigh. “I’m so tired of chicken.” Then, with great enthusiasm: “I think I’ll have a burger!” I’d look down and stifle a laugh because this was the same thing she said every time she had lunch with me, or one of her other four kids. We never saw her eat much chicken, but that woman sure did enjoy her cheeseburgers. If she were still here, I’d steal her away and spend all of Mother’s Day visiting wineries, talking, and tasting. Not the wine – she didn’t drink much – but the food. Because, lucky, lucky us, beautiful food – fresh, local, artisanal – is finding its way more often onto Virginia winery menus, everything from wood-fired pizza to fancy-schmancy little nibbles. A couple of wineries even do cheeseburgers.  This month, scoop up your mom, point the car toward one of these wineries, and enjoy your time together.  For more information about these wineries, including addresses, websites and operating hours, see NORTHERN VIRGINIA REGION 868 Vineyards, Purcellville: Grandale Vintner’s Table serves farm-to-table lunches and dinners in a rustic dining room and on a deck with fabulous garden views. Bogati Winery, Round Hill: Empanadas, gourmet pizzas, provoleta, charcuterie. Chateau O’Brien, Markham: Light fare including sandwiches, flatbreads, and cheese boards. Creeks Edge Winery, Lovettsville: Fun menu of snacks, sandwiches, pizzas and soups. Crushed Cellars, Purcellville: New Zealand meat pies, bruschetta and cheese. Hillsborough Vineyards, Hillsboro: Light weekend menu in-season…

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