Month: May 2019

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Three Extraordinary Bucks of The Virgin Islands

The Three Extraordinary Bucks of The Virgin Islands by Jeff McCord It’s a curious fact that there is a small “Buck Island” located in the waters off each of the Virgin Islands’ three principal isles: St. Croix; St. Thomas; and Tortola.  Visitors might easily assume these “bucks” were named after male deer since white tail deer can be found there.  Europeans reportedly introduced them to the islands in the 1700s for game. Actually, though, each Buck Island was named by European settlers for a remarkable local tree called buck wood, according to many sources including a St. John Historical Society paper. Known formally as lignum vitae, this native tree is stronger and more durable than mahogany, another local arboreal wonder. Also known as ironwood, lignum vitae is so dense it sinks in salt water and has been used to make cricket balls, belaying pins on sailing vessels and propeller shaft bearings in World War II submarines. It’s so valuable that most trees were cut down long ago. The biggest of the Virgin’s three Buck Islands is a couple miles off St. Croix, which was once Danish and now part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. An early Danish map labels that Buck Island as “Bocken Eyland.”  English speakers later corrupted Bock into Buck.  Regardless, today the 176 acre island is an uninhabited gem of tropical dry forest surrounded mostly by crystalline white beaches and easily accessed coral reefs. Because President John F. Kennedy took action to preserve the island in 1961, the Buck Island National Reef Monument off St. Croix is a major Caribbean eco-tourist attraction.  The National Park Service explains its’ importance and allure: “Endangered and threatened species live and nest here: four species of sea turtles — hawksbill, green, leatherback, and loggerhead — and the St. Croix ground lizard….

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

The Westlawn Inn

By the Gastronomes The Westlawn Inn With the beautiful weather upon us, we thought that we would take the 45 minute drive to the Chesapeake Bay and the town of North Beach. North Beach is a walking town with a beautiful boardwalk and beach along the Bay. The town has shopping, antique stores and just about anything else beyond the boardwalk. Dining options here range from burgers and fries to casual to fine dining. We visited the Westlawn Inn located one block from the Chesapeake Bay. The owner of The Westlawn is Lee Travers. Like myself, Lee grew up in Prince Georges County and I can remember his band, Nobody’s Children. After a career in rock-n-roll and custom home building, he decided to get back in the hospitality business, an inspiration that came from his youth and his family business “Popey’s Tavern” in District Heights. In 2004, Lee and his wife, Jan, opened this “casually upscale” restaurant in the beachfront town. They have been successful as the restaurant has a great reputation in Calvert County as a “place to be”. As you enter a small bar with about 15 seats stands off to the left. It is very comfortable and well stocked. Off to the right is the dining room in a casual period decor with white table cloths. It is a very warm and relaxing room. Next to the dining area is the bandstand where local groups perform and Lee even brings the old guys together about once a month for a trip down memory lane. I haven’t attended that yet, but I will. The menu is not extensive but has something for everyone. There are six starters including spinach and artichoke dip, fried calamari, fried red tomato with spiced crabmeat, and grilled artichoke hearts.  Soups and salads consist…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On The Road

The Old Town Crier seems to be very popular with our kids from Colorado. Last month Bob’s great nieces and nephews who reside in Erie submitted their pics and this month Lani’s great niece – who lives in Eaton with our From the Trainer author, Ryan Unverzagt – decided she wasn’t going to be upstaged. Pictured here with her mom Tracy, Tremson Adlee checks out the Points on Pets section all about bunnies and chicks.

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

What SUP?

By Molly Winans What SUP? Anyone who has lazy bones in their bodies, as I do, may not rush out to try a sport often touted as a “good core workout.” In fact, we may hear “blah, blah, work, blah” and avoid it. This, I fear, may be keeping some prospective stand-up paddleboarders from trying it. They hear that old core workout bit and don’t bother. Before I get to the part about racing, I want to emphasize the versatility of the standup paddleboard (SUP). Just as some wear their running shoes to run marathons and others don them to wander around eating ice cream cones, you don’t have to race or work hard with a paddleboard. Any paddleboard can be a great platform for quietly, slowly meandering in the shallows, bird-watching, sunset gawking, paddling on your knees, doing yoga poses (I prefer the corpse), sunbathing, napping, taking a little time out from your cruising partner, goofing off with kids, and delivering beer to fellow sailors in an anchorage. That you may be working your abdomen muscles a bit is a bonus. I don’t share this because I get a commission if you buy a SUP; I explain it because there have only been a few sports I have tried in life that had me at hello, and one of them was paddleboarding. If you think of SUP as yet another toy in your water fun collection, just another way to enjoy the water, rather than the key to great abs, you may try it, too. Those who do crave competition have more opportunities than ever. On July 13, East of Maui Boardshop of Annapolis will host its Chesapeake Stand Up Challenge at Eastport YC (EYC). At this event, about 75 competitors in a wide age range show up to…

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Social Media Message

Facebook Jail

Facebook Jail By Julie Reardon   Have you ever been in a really toxic relationship? If not, we all know someone who can’t seem to break it off with a partner who is obviously and completely a bad fit. What is the appeal of these overbearing, controlling and morally bankrupt types that would spy, stalk, lie, cheat, steal and profit from the misery they cause and then laugh all the way to the bank? Why would any sane person put up with such treatment? Worse, why do we put up with it from companies we do business with? I’m stepping outside my comfortable little hollow in the Blue Ridge foothills to examine the growth of censorship and bias from social media. The biggest offenders are Google, Twitter and Facebook; these three and their offshoots have a virtual monopoly on social media today. And these Silicon Valley giants, have effortlessly stolen, sorted and categorized our personal data for corporate sales, while quietly undermining or simply buying competing entities. They’re now flexing their muscles with censorship to exert control over what we say and think. Stealing and selling personal information is scary enough but control over what you can say and think could be even worse. These corporate predators are using these tactics to throttle, shut down and/or damage any possible competition or indeed, any ideas, opinions or topics they do not agree with.    The censorship and restrictions on free speech to promote their own ideology was largely dormant in the infancy of social media. Being in “Facebook jail” used to be a joke and a clear indication you annoyed somebody enough to report you. But the censorship is turning into a cancer spreading into full blown control over what you read, write and think. Facebook wants you to use its…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

It’s Bud Time!

By Doug Fabbioli It’s Bud Time! So the season has begun again! The green leaves that contain the chlorophyll are growing bigger every day, staging themselves to collect another seasons worth of the sun’s energy. That energy will be turned into the sweetness and flavors in the fruit that will make our wines something for many to talk about. That energy will also keep the farmers and gardeners working hard trying to keep their plants healthy and abundant with nutrients, flavor and style. Even though the growing season last year was a bit depressing through much of the year, every farmer that I speak to is excited about what is ahead of us. The pear blossoms have already set their fruit and that fruit is growing bigger every day. For us at Fabbioli Cellars, we will soon be putting the bottles on the fruit so the pears will grow inside. The grapes will be going through its blossom and pollination stage in a few weeks, setting the stage for a fruitful vintage. The farmer is an entrepreneur, an investor of time and money whose hard work and commitment to the land and crops can pay off in spades if all things come together. The commitment is great and we have been doing this for thousands of years. Our society has been built upon the idea that if we stay in one place and plant the land, there will be more food for the people than if they just hunted and gathered the foods of the forest. In many ways, the farmer was an inspiration to budding communities because much of the commerce was based on the food that fed the people. To me, the farmer has always been an inspiration. Now it’s those younger folks that are making that commitment…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Four Ways to Invest More Confidently in a Volatile Market

By Carl Trevison and Stephen Bearce When financial markets fluctuate, even the calmest investors can start to question their financial strategies. But volatile markets can present opportunities, says Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation strategy for Wells Fargo Investment Institute (WFII). “Financial markets are frequently volatile—that’s their nature,” she says. “Over longer periods of time, that volatility can add up to attractive portfolio growth.” McMillion shares an analogy that compares this worry to seasickness: “If you stare at the waves directly ahead of you (the current financial market), the water may look bumpy and turbulent, and you might feel ill at ease. However, if you look outward at the horizon (your long-term investment goals), the ocean as a whole appears to be on a fairly even keel.” In addition to focusing on your financial horizon, here are some strategies you can use to help weather economically turbulent times. 1. Match your investments to your time horizon. The simplest way to feel more comfortable about your investments is to align them with your financial calendar, no matter what happens in the financial world this month or year. For example, do you need some of your money fairly soon, or want it close at hand in case of an emergency? If so, McMillion says you should consider investments such as cash holdings and short-term bonds that shouldn’t lose much, if any, value over the short term. On the other hand, if you won’t need some of your investment money until you retire multiple years in the future, equities or longer-term bonds are worth a closer look. Those investments carry more risks but also offer potentially better returns. 2. Know what to expect from your assets. Some investors lose confidence because they don’t fully understand how their investments work. In that case,…

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Beauty & Health, Fitness

Fit Mom

by Nicole Flannigan Fit Mom As a personal trainer and mother, I can appreciate being able to have an hour to myself to get in a good workout. This event rarely happens. It seems that by the time I actually have some time to spend on myself there is still a million things to get done. Exercise is always on my list of things to do for the day and I have found that the best way to fit it in is by doing a 15-20 minute workout at least twice a day. Fitting in a workout can be easier if you make it a part of your daily routine. I know this is easier said than done, but it is possible. Make your workout fun for you and for your kids. Try doing a workout video in the living room while your kids play. If they are old enough to move around have fun with them, you get your workout in and the kids get worn out too! When babies are too young to move on their own, it’s the best time to strap them in a stroller and go for a walk. If you are a runner, I highly recommend investing in a jogging stroller – it will make exercising fun and the jogging strollers fold up so you can take them just about everywhere. Exercising increases your metabolism, increases energy and will help you sleep better – even if you are only getting a few hours at a time.  You can complete an entire strength training routine in just under 20minutes using only your body weight.  The best part about body weight training is that you can do it anywhere! Total Body Strength Workout: Warm-up: jumping jacks, walk in place for 1 minute Squat Jump -Stand with…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

The Dead Lift

From the Trainer By Ryan Unverzagt This month’s featured exercise is the Dead-lift. Now don’t let the name frighten you away. In the sport of power-lifting, the dead-lift is one of three exercises along with the squat and bench press. It is one of the most functional exercises to learn because its technique can be applied to everyday life. You’ve all heard the saying, “Use your legs and not your back.” Well nothing rings more true than with the dead-lift. To start, place your feet hip-width apart, toes underneath the bar. Bend at your knees and hips (Not your back!) to lower down to establish your grip. As you can see in Figure 1, my grip is outside my legs, my shoulders are over the bar as well with my butt down, back straight, torso upright, chest forward and looking ahead too! Whew, that’s a lot of cues to remember, but all are equally important to help protect your low back from potential injury. When you begin to actually lift the bar from the floor, USE YOUR LEGS! Keep your low back “locked in” by not letting it round. The key to doing this is to push your feet through the ground and activate the butt muscles, leaning back slightly to keep the bar close to your body. Your hips should rise at the same rate as the bar. It is very common for the hips to come up first as the bar lags behind. This technique will certainly contribute to any back pain that you may have. Once the bar is above your knees, continue to keep the bar close to your thighs. Finish the lift by bringing your hips forward, squeezing the gluteal (butt) muscles. You have just completed the concentric or upward phase of the dead-lift! Now…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

The Secrets to a Fool Proof Self Tan

The Secrets to a Fool Proof Self Tan “Every year at about this time, those of us who like that bronzed skin look start thinking about the long Memorial Day Weekend as the beginning of tanning season. We know that too much sun exposure isn’t good for you and that an SPF 30 is recommended from head to toe, however, a tan masks a multitude of sins – cellulite doesn’t look quite as bad, freckles sort of run together, etc. That being said, there is the alternative – self tanners. We try to publish these tips from Kim Putens each year as a refresher. I can tell you from experience DO NOT SKIP STEP 1!” – Lani Learning to apply self-tanner is as much about patience and perseverance as it is an art form.  It does not have to be an uphill battle, like learning how to paint the Mona Lisa.  It is achievable and a few tricks of the trade will have you looking as stunningly bronzed as ever. Even if you seek out a professional for help, it is important to know what and what not to do.  Remember, regardless of your self-tanning fate, it is still better to get that fake bake than to bake in the sun or in a wretched tanning bed. Step 1 – Exfoliate – You must get off all that dead skin before even attempting to point that bronzing bottle at your body.  If you do not slough, the tanner will blotch.  Pay particular attention to rough spots like knees, elbows, heels, and hands.   When choosing an exfoliant, be sure to choose one that is oil-free.  Oil prevents tanner from properly penetrating. Step 2 – Prep Yourself – To avoid turning green, orange or any other color of the rainbow, it…

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