Month: August 2019

Arts & Entertainment, Events, Events

Alexandria September Events

6th through October 6th Mirror Mirror Performance Series Various dates and times Admission: Free Waterfront Park 1 King Street 703-746-5590 Waterfront Park comes alive with a series of original site-specific performances in conversation with the sound-responsive, interactive installation Mirror Mirror. David Schulman, who performs on amplified violin with live effects, has composed an original score to interact with Mirror Mirror to present with saxophonist Sarah Marie Hughes and vocalist Bonnie Lander. Orange Grove Dance is exploring movement and sound within and around Mirror Mirror. Their choreography explores both the installation’s and audience’s relationship to land and river to tap into deep relationships that communities have with the spaces they inhabit. Visit for the full schedule and rain dates. 8th through October 13th “Downton Abbey” at Lee-Fendall House Tours Recurring weekly Admission: $10 in advance Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden 614 Oronoco Street 703-548-1789 Explore the surprising connections between people and places of the world of “Downton Abbey” and those of the Lee-Fendall House through special “Downton Abbey”-themed tours of the museum this fall. The current owner of Highclere Castle, the real-world castle where the popular television program was filmed, is a direct descendant of the original owner of the Lee-Fendall House. Find out which of your favorite characters are based on members of the Fendall family. This event is free for members. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit 9th – 29th “High Note” Art Exhibit at Del Ray Artisans Gallery Colasanto Center 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue Free & Open to the Public Experience “High Note”, an art exhibit exploring the connection between music and the mind, at Del Ray Artisans. Music can unleash powerful memories, transporting us in space and time. Meet the artists, juror Britt Conley, and enjoy live music at the opening reception: Friday, September 6, 7-9pm. Also join us…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Where the Wild Things Roam…Look…But Don’t Touch!

By Victoria Elliott Where the Wild Things Roam…Look…But Don’t Touch! For many people, summertime means venturing into the great outdoors to enjoy the long days, sunshine, and to soak in all the natural world has to offer before autumn comes back around and the days grow cold again. Whether it’s camping with friends in the Shenandoah Mountains, spending a relaxing day on the lake fishing, taking a long hike on the Mount Vernon Trail, or visiting a nearby National Park (of which there are so many to choose), one fact remains: with the outdoors comes all the animals that call the outdoors their home. Our area is home to a variety of wildlife: deer, possum, raccoon, squirrel, fox, and bats, among many others. As visitors to their home, it’s our responsibility to include wildlife safety in our summertime plans. Wildlife safety is a two-way street. While what first comes to mind may be precautions to take against harm from a wild animal attack, it’s equally as – if not more so – important to consider the impact that your presence has on wild animals and to take precautions to avoid causing harm to any wildlife you may encounter while enjoying your time outdoors. Keep your distance For the sake of your safety, as well as that of the wildlife, keep your distance and observe from afar. While many wild animals are beautiful to behold, especially in their natural habitat, keep in mind that they are wild. In some wild animals, contact with humans can cause rejection by other animals in their family or group. Additionally, there are illnesses that can pass to and from people, pets and wildlife, so ensure you and your pets are healthy and well before venturing out – and that you stay out of direct contact…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Coping with the Care of a Deceased Pet

By Meg Mullery Coping with the Care of a Deceased Pet The call came from a panicked husband on business travel. His distraught wife and four young kids discovered the beloved family dog deceased on the kitchen floor. The husband called the vet for help and was guided to In Memoriam Pet Services. In less than 2 hours, the grieving family was receiving comfort and counsel from an employee of In Memoriam Pet Services. He stayed with the family to ensure they were coping with the situation and then lovingly removed the pet from the home. The cremated remains were returned two days later in a beautiful urn with a paw print imbedded in clay. Meet Larry Brissing, the founder of In Memoriam Pet Services. A typical workday for Larry and his six employees puts them in the roles of grief counsellor, emergency responder, funeral director, parish priest, and bartender at the neighborhood pub. Growing up in the beautiful Hudson Valley area of New York state in a family of pet and nature lovers, he gravitated to wildlife management and environmental services studies. After working in these areas for almost a decade, he discovered the insurance restoration industry. Larry was the “go to” guy when major catastrophes like a fire destroyed the family home and, with it, the fabric of the family. Larry’s empathetic nature, coupled with a quiet efficiency and can-do attitude, helped families rebuild their lives and reweave the family unit. Larry’s decision to move to scenic Virginia was fortuitous. He met his wife and then kids arrived on the scene. Following the death of the family dog, Larry became aware of the dearth of appropriate facilities and complementary services that would ease the process of losing what people regard as a best friend and member of the…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat


By F. Lennox Campello Artmosphere I’m one of those dwindling number of people who had a significant existence before Al Gore invented the Internet; was right there at the inception of it; bought Amazon at $5 a share (technically my wife did – I bought Commodore); and have developed right along the spectacular “spread” of cyberspace as a way to reach places where the written word had never reached before. And in spite of all that, I am always surprised by things and facts that people pick up on, discover, and reflect back to me when appropriate. Last month I wrote about “Queer Glass” and in that piece had one of the DMV’s best-known artists, and perhaps the leading and earliest artist associated with this “new” term (new to me at least), Tim Tate, guest-write a piece which he had earlier authored for the Washington Glass School. After that piece, I received a few emails, including one from a museum curator, pointing me to other artists who are also doing what is now being called “Queer Glass.” I also got an interesting email from a local writer, who often writes about art for a well-known online publication. He pointed me to an interesting event which had developed a while back in Wikipedia. Apparently, right in the middle of Pride month, some editors at that Internet site decided that the term was not a “real” art term and deleted the article from the online site.  I do not know Wikipedia that well, and or how “articles” or facts are vetted, and thus I do not have an informed opinion why “Queer Glass” was deleted as an art term, but it doesn’t leave a good optic… especially during Pride month. Enough said about that. But it got me to think about how…

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Personality Profile

Tom Wilson, Master Shepherd

By Michael McLeod TOM WILSON, MASTER SHEPHERD Tom Wilson raises Katahdin sheep near Gordonsville, Virginia. Home is an antebellum plantation house built in 1857 surrounded by 1200-acres of lush pastures, ponds, barns, and kennels. Wilson is a third-generation shepherd who was born to an already large family on the Scottish border with England. Known as Border Country, the area is the birth place of the top herding dog breed in the world, the Border Collie. Tom has been a shepherd since he was old enough to toddle to the pasture; he’s never had a different job. When experienced people do something well most want to know just how good they are. For shepherds and their dogs that means sheepdog trials. Tom won his first sheepdog competition when he was 20, but says it was a long dry spell before he won again. By the time he was 30, he had superb “stock-sense,” meaning that he could sense what the sheep were going to do before they did it. That skill let him command his dog, often hundreds of yards away, to correct the sheep’s path. He was one of the best sheepdog trainers and handlers in the British Isles, and was often in the winner’s circle at ISDS herding trials (see side bar). In 1983, Tom was invited to the United States to put on a herding clinic in White Post, VA. It wasn’t his first trip here but must have been his most important: it was at that event that he met his future wife, Florence Robinson, a clinic participant. When asked if it was love-at-first-sight, Wilson quipped, “It was for her. She showed up at a couple more US clinics then she came over to visit a couple of times. After that, I moved to Virginia.” Was that…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

In Search of the Perfect French Fry!

By Charles Oppman In Search of the Perfect French Fry! Who doesn’t a love a big pile of hot, crispy French fries? I’m not talking about the kind served at fast food joints — although some do serve up fabulous fries — or mom and pop restaurants where the chef either doesn’t know how to properly cook French fries or can’t be bothered to get it right. Great fries aren’t just a matter of slicing potatoes and drowning them in a bath of hot fat for a few minutes. Perfect fries begin with the perfect potato followed up by an essential two-step cooking process. Deep-fry French fries one time and you’ll wind up with a heap of limp, pallid potato sticks, but not proper French fries. The potato is a member of the nightshade family (solanaceae) — which includes egg plant, tomatillos, tomatoes and chayote — and its leaves and flowers are poisonous if eaten in sufficient quantities. Some plants have great medicinal value, especially for arthritis, some are quite poisonous. These health hazards were at least marginally understood in Europe so when the tubers were brought to the Old World they would be used primarily to feed the underprivileged. Their nutritional value was not appreciated. Eventually Europeans embraced the potato and it became widespread as a food source. There seems to be some dispute as to where fries originated. The Belgians lay claim to being the first while the French take credit for inventing these crispy batons of delight. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time in the history of gastronomy the French have taken credit where they oughtn’t to have. For example, take the croissant, but wait, I’m getting off track. That’s another story. Wherever the truth lies, we Americans are quite certain Thomas Jefferson introduced the…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

August Pets of the Month

August 2019 Chesapeake and Gucci, Adult, Male Brown Guinea Pigs Summer and the beach, peanut butter and jelly, whatever your favorite pairs are, add Chesapeake and Gucci to the list! These two Guinea Pigs are ready and wheeking to meet their future family, and they can’t wait to show you. Gucci is the self-described goofball who can always be found deep within a fort of hay. Chesapeake is the outgoing half of the team, always hurrying to the front of their enclosure to make new friends, and their next friend might just be you! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Photo thanks to Alison Lane Photography Soxie, Adult, Spayed Female, Black and White (Tuxedo) Domestic Shorthair Miss Soxie is a purrfect mix of sweet and spunky. Ready to play? So is Soxie! She loves her ribbon toys and can’t wait to show off her best pounce. Nap time? Soxie loves to nap, especially in a bed near her favorite people. She’s a balance of black and white and adorable all over! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Photo thanks to Alison Lane Photography Lizzie and Slinky, Senior, Spayed Female and Neutered Male Grey Terriers Slinky and Lizzie aren’t just brother and sister – they’re best friends. They celebrate Best Friend Day every day by helping one another stay on their nap schedule and alerting the other when a friendly face with treats is around. When going for walks, they always walk side-by-side because they’re on their journey through life together!  Come by and see this adorable twosome. They’ll inspire you with their friendship! Adoption profile: Adoption information: Photo courtesy of Dirty Paw Photography

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Shooter Mcgee’s Delectables and Cure-Alls

By the Gastronomes Shooter Mcgee’s Delectables and Cure-Alls 40 Years Young Shooter Mcgee’s has been a neighborhood go-to restaurant and bar for forty years as of this month. Started by young former D.C. bartenders, Tom Jackson and Mike (Mango) Anderson, they brought their D.C. culture of a good, fun restaurant to the west end of Alexandria. In celebration of their 40 years, I am going to start this piece by repeating the introduction written by our restaurant reviewer from 1997, Rich McNamara. Little has changed over the years… “With a name like McNamara, I know a fair bit about Irish bars. With both parents born and raised in Ireland and having been an Irish citizen myself until the age of thirteen, I think I could be considered a reasonably good authority on Irish culture and heritage. I have spent enough time traveling in Ireland to know that the “sing-alongs” and patriotic anthems that are so common in America’s “Irish Pubs” are rarely found in the Public Houses of the Irish countryside, except on national holidays and in the tourist traps. Irish fare though, can be similar to American bars. They are mainly local joints where good friends gather over food and drink. Whether it’s to watch a sporting event on TV or to revel in their own athletic accomplishments, the patrons of Irish bars are just like their American counterparts in that the pubs are considered a place to share a good time and good people. In this respect, Shooter McGee’s is one of the most “Irish” I’ve found anywhere.” Shooters is a fair distance from Old Town but it’s worth the trip. For residents of the western part of Alexandria, it is their neighborhood hangout. As you enter the restaurant, you will be facing a classic dark wood bar….

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Intrigue and Enchantment

Intrigue and Enchantment By Miriam R. Kramer What’s next, a plague of locusts? Following a record rainfall and flash floods in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, temperatures and high humidity recently combined to create a heat wave up the East Coast with a real feel of about 110°F in DC and Old Town Alexandria. If the weather keeps you from sunbathing or sitting on a beach, keep blasting that air conditioner while a clutch of novels entertains and relaxes you during your vacation days. You can try an airport read, The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian; a tell-all about sisters and family, Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner; or a majestic piece of historical fiction, The Lost Queen by Signe Pike. The Flight Attendant is a fun airplane diversion: a thriller that I gulped on a recent flight along with my complimentary ginger ale and Cheez-Its. Cassie Boyden, a flight attendant with a layover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, wakes up with a horrible hangover next to her previous night’s fling, a first-class passenger whose throat has been slit open. Scrambling to remove all traces of herself and make it to her flight to Paris, she tries to piece together a previous evening featuring copious alcohol and several blackout periods. As she flies first to Paris and then JFK in New York, Cassie attempts to reconstruct her night with Alex, a hedge fund manager with a flair for number crunching and an unusual penchant for Russian novels. She vaguely remembers that a so-called female business colleague of his had stopped by the room with a bottle of Stoli, after which she can recall nothing until the moment she woke up with a first-class headache in Alex’s first-class hotel. The Flight Attendant is an enjoyable thriller in which Russian spies, the FBI,…

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Business Profile

Wag & Brew: Sit-Stay-Play

By Lani Gering Wag & Brew Sit – Stay – Play This is for all of you dog owners and lovers out there. What could be better than letting your pooch run around in a big play room with other canines under the watchful eye of a reputable pet sitter while you have a cold beer, glass of vino or hot cup of fresh brewed coffee or an espresso? Only thing I can think of is if you could do the same thing at a daycare for your human kids but am also thinking that probably isn’t gonna happen…. Anyway, Wag & Brew (W&B) is the place to do exactly what I just described. Owner, dog lover and avid golf enthusiast (he was attending the British Open when I went to do the R&D for this column), Jeff McDonald brought the Wag & Brew concept to Alexandria a little over a year ago. Billing itself as “a boutique dog care resort inspired to create the best place for pups and people”, W&B has definitely set itself apart from other doggy daycare establishments in the area. While I am not a dog owner, I do have many friends who depend on services such as this as an alternative to having a dog walker so I consulted a few of them – I had to have someone to help compare the benefits. The benefit of a walker is that your pooch gets to stay in their own home but the downside is they are staying alone. At W&B there is always a friend or two to hang with as well as people who LOVE dogs of all sorts. In addition to this, the large play room is climate controlled and full of toys so no worrying about adverse weather conditions.  And….last, but…

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