Day: August 1, 2020

Personality Profile

Jim Seeley…Singing & Cruising Through Life

Jim Seeley…Singing & Cruising Through Life If you have been in Old Town Alexandria for any length of time you may have, at some point, run into Jim Seeley at one of the piano bars over the years or maybe on stage at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. I first met Jim at the Morrison House many years ago when Bob Smith was in residence at the grand piano in the back room bar area. I actually sang a few songs but I could not hold a candle to the local talent that performed there. Jim’s story began in Alexandria where he was born at the old Alexandria Hospital. He attended school locally and graduated from Bishop Ireton High School in 1982. After he graduated from William & Mary University, he spent about a dozen years traveling around the country and to Central America. “I lived in Southern California for a while, briefly in El Salvador, and even Miami for a few years,” he says. “I then came back here, I came home to roost,” he declares. Jim began to exhibit his singing talents in junior high school as a member of the choir. He also attended the Stephen Foster Intermediate School in south Alexandria. In his earlier years, Jim took singing lessons in Alexandria and became actively involved with the Little Theatre. If he wasn’t performing in the play, he was behind the scenes working the lighting, sound, props, set construction…everything. As we talked more about Little Theatre, Jim made the point that the last thing that will return to the Theatre will be musicals due to the coronavirus. “You know they say “six” feet of separation, well we need “ten” feet or better when projecting your voice in song,” he reminds me. They intend to bring back small…

Continue Reading

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello….

National Harbor By Lani Gering You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello…. It was with a very heavy heart that I had to move out of the condo in One National Harbor where I had resided for over 10 years. I loved that little place. The economics just weren’t there anymore with the loss of income I have experienced in the past several months. Many of my neighbors stopped in while I was packing up to say “goodbye” and I have shed more than a few tears but I am looking at finding a silver lining. I believe all things happen for a reason and there are lessons to be learned so…on the upside I am back living in Old Town Alexandria in a place that has lots of windows and sunlight and I am pretty close to my old neighborhood in Del Ray. I am just across the river and since I will continue to write the column and promote all of the things the Harbor offers – and I love my restaurant pals – I will be a frequent visitor. I will be saying a lot of “hello’s” in the future. The content of this section is going to take on a different perspective in the future. I will no longer be able to write it from a first person stance since I’m no longer a resident so I am going to concentrate on writing about the individuals and businesses that make the harbor work. The affect that this pandemic has had on the Harbor is heartbreaking but things are improving on an almost daily basis. The above being said, I have to admit that I have been pretty swamped with the move and am going to take the easy way out with this month’s Harbor update. We…

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Preserve Your Garden Produce for Delicious Winter Meals

Preserve Your Garden Produce for Delicious Winter Meals by Melinda Myers All your hard work is paying off with a bountiful harvest. Fresh produce is filling your garden, countertops, and refrigerator while the garden keeps producing more. Preserve some of your harvest to enjoy throughout the winter with some tried-and-true or updated variation of f ood preservation techniques. Hanging bundles of herbs to dry is a long-time practice that works. Harvest herbs in the morning just after the dew has dried off the leaves. Rinse, allow them to dry, and remove any damaged or dried leaves. Gather the dry herbs into small bundles and secure with a rubber band. Use a spring-type clothespin to hang the bundles from a clothesline or hanger in a warm, dry, airy place out of direct sunlight. A modern twist on this tradition is the space-saving Stack!t Herb Drying Rack ( hung from the ceiling. You will be able to dry large quantities of herbs in any narrow, out-of-the-way space. Extend the life, flavor, and nutritional value of squash with proper harvesting and storage. Only store blemish- and damage-free fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of mold and decay developing during storage. Harvest zucchini when the fruit is six to eight inches long and scalloped squash when three to six inches in diameter. Store these in a plastic bag inside the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator for several days. Wait to harvest winter squash when the fruit is full-sized, and the rinds are firm and glossy. The portion touching the ground turns from cream to orange when the fruit is ripe. Use a pruner to harvest the fruit, leaving a one-inch stem on each fruit. Cure all winter squash, except for acorn, in a warm, humid location. Then move to a cool, dry,…

Continue Reading

Social Media Message

Happy Birthday Shelter Pooches!

By Ashley Rosson Happy Birthday Shelter Pooches! Since August 1st is “Dogust” 1st: Universal Birthday for Shelter Dogs, I decided to focus this month’s message on how “Social Media” has helped animal organizations with donations, adoptions, volunteer help, and awareness. In the past, in order to find the perfect pets for your family, you would frequent the “Pet of the Week” section of the newspaper, ask friends to keep an eye and ear out, and physically stop by the vet, animal shelter, or pet store to inquire. Nowadays, someone interested in adopting or helping in any way can simply go online and search Petfinder or log into Facebook or Twitter and check the latest posts by different animal organizations. The rise of social media has enabled animal shelters and organizations to broaden their influence in the community and reach audiences that may have otherwise looked the other way. Since animal shelters are non-profit organizations, they rely heavily on fundraising and donations to help keep them afloat and to keep the animals healthy and safe. Animal organizations are constantly accepting donations for food, supplies, vet bill assistance, and are not afraid to ask for help on social media. Animal organizations also use social media to educate the public and raise awareness. A common piece of advice floating around is to remember to spay or neuter your pet. Other posts I have seen discuss summer exercise safety for your pet, deaf pet awareness, vaccinations, puppy housetraining, and animal cruelty. These are just some of the ways animal shelters utilize social media. Others include sharing heartfelt rescue stories and updates on their progress and reuniting pets with their owners. Social media has also helped with the relocation of lost pets, one post of a picture of your pet, often will get shared over…

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

The Joys of Adopting a “Hard to Adopt” Pet

By Angela June Ohm The Joys of Adopting a “Hard to Adopt” Pet This title doesn’t refer to show breeds: it refers to those pets who seemingly nobody wants.  Who languish in foster homes and shelters while younger pets, healthier pets, and those who just plain “show better” metaphorically fly off the shelf. According to the ASPCA, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized yearly (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).  If you adopt a senior or special needs pet, you can help them escape this cruel fate and will get in return a pet that truly appreciates you. I grew up on a farm in Arkansas with cats, dogs, horses, you name it, but never had experience with a pet that was considered hard to adopt.  That changed two years ago when I adopted two “What About Me?” cats from King Street Cats (KSC) in Alexandria, Virginia. Gillian and Josephine had cream-colored hair, golden eyes, and a heartbreaking bio. It detailed the difficult life that both had survived together—they were in a hoarding house with 100 cats in Baltimore, both had been food-deprived, and it was suspected that Josephine had been physically abused.  Our first meeting initially didn’t go well. Gillian ignored me and Josephine hissed at me for an hour and a half.  Finally, she relented and let me pet her trembling little head.  With that show of trust, I knew we would be alright.  KSC advised me to keep them in one room of my home for several days to get used to the smells and sounds of a new place and continued be a resource as the girls and I became a family.  Gillian was willing to come out from hiding under the couch first and showed Josephine that I could be trusted. Now Josephine, who would…

Continue Reading

Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

August Pets of the Month

Adopt by Appointment at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria virtually on Zoom or in-person at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter! The AWLA is upholding ALX Promise standards to welcome visitors back to the shelter safely for adoptions and other community services on an appointment basis. Learn more at  Valley Boy, Senior, Male, Red-Eared Slider Turtle Valley Boy recently reached his 100th day with the AWLA and celebrated in all of his favorite ways. His foster caregiver put up festive decorations, and Valley Boy loved greeting his visitors through the ribbon frame that decorated the outside of his tank. He spent some time basking by his favorite window and by his favorite feline friend, another resident of his foster home. Valley Boy concluded his 100th day by stretching with some yoga poses, which also help to dry his feet, before settling in for the night. Valley Boy can’t wait to see what the next 100 days have in store. Maybe even a family to call his own! Set up an appointment to meet Valley Boy today! Valley Boy Photo by Dirty Paw Photography Oogie Boogie, Adult, Neutered Male, Flame Point Siamese He likes to share his love on his own terms. He’ll give you sweet nose-nudges and play for days, but only when he wants. Call him independent; call him stoic; we call him Oogie Boogie. This handsome boy is full of personality from his orange ears to his striped tail. He’s looking for a best friend who will take the time to get to know him and appreciate him for who he is. Set up an adoption appointment to meet Oogie Boogie – you will be happy you did! Priscilla, Adult, Spayed Female, Brown and White Terrier Meet Priscilla!  She’s the ultimate wing-woman and loves exploring new places with her human friends. …

Continue Reading

Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Be a Joy Seeker, Not a Worry Warrior

By Lori Welch Brown Be a Joy Seeker, Not a Worry Warrior August has turned from the dog days of summer—carefree days spent floating on the lake or dipping your toes in the sand—to the anxious days of a pandemic that won’t leave us alone, political division, civil unrest, etc.  To some, it feels like the darkest of days, an unprecedented era the likes of which the world has never seen.  I call baloney. During these past few weeks of quarantine, I have exhausted Netflix, but finally made my way around to Downton Abbey.  Yes—I am very late to the party, but I was amazed at how timely it felt.  In case you’ve been living under a rock like me, the series which aired on PBS is set in the fictional country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1926 and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic staff—of which there are many.  It depicts the events of the time to include the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Spanish influenza pandemic, the Irish War of Independence.  As I was watching, I couldn’t help but think about the generations before us and the challenges they endured. My own grandparents lived through the Great Depression and sent two sons to the Korean War.  My grandmother lost three babies in childbirth and buried a toddler.  They couldn’t email their sons and get immediate notification of their safety.  They had to wait for snail mail letters from far off places.  My grandmother wasn’t able to talk to a therapist about her grief or pop a Prozac, and she definitely wasn’t Zooming with her BFFs, wine in hand.  I’m pretty sure my grandfather didn’t provide much comfort beyond helping her saddle the horses or carry water from the…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Books for an Uncertain Summer

Books for an Uncertain Summer by Miriam R. Kramer In looking ahead to this summer, no one was able to predict how their vacation plans might change when faced with furlough, joblessness, or simply cancellations. Our worldwide pandemic has altered most of our behaviors and postponed many of our goals. We protect ourselves as best we can while creating Plan B. In the meantime, books are more important than ever. Whether they provide escape or enlightenment, they are invaluable friends that shed light on the human condition. As usual in August, I review a grab bag of books for vacations and staycations, such as Lucy Foley’s The Guest List, Victoria Schwab’s YA (Young Adult) duology This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet, and finally, the bestselling exposé, Too Much and Never Enough, by Mary Trump about her uncle and current president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Lucy Foley has created a tautly planned thriller in The Guest List. Magazine editor Jules Keegan and reality TV star Will Slater have planned a wedding on a remote, wind lashed island off the coast of Ireland. Jules controls the ceremony down to the last detail with the help of Aoife, the wedding planner. As Aoife notes, “Life is messy….You can’t control more than a single day. But you can control one of them.” Even this idea proves an illusion when the wedding goes terribly wrong. Foley switches back and forth between her point-of-view characters: the bride, the bridesmaid, the best man, the wedding planner, and the plus–one wife. Interspersed are snippets from the wedding day and night, as she builds to a crescendo of disaster when the guests’ secrets are revealed. While Foley follows the formula she created with her novel The Hunting Party, about a New Year’s Eve bash in…

Continue Reading

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Exploring Shenandoah Valley Wine

By Matt Fitzsimmons Exploring Shenandoah Valley Wine Shenandoah Valley wineries are one of Virginia’s best-kept secrets, which is surprising given the valley is famous for so many other activities. You’ve probably heard about the hiking, river tubing, and cave exploring. But most people don’t realize this is also prime real-estate for making wine. The Shenandoah is one of only eight American Viticultural Area (AVA) located in Virginia; the others are located in Charlottesville, Middleburg, both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. AVAs receive their designation based on having specific features that allow them to create wine that have, in the words of Glen Manor Vineyards, “A sense of place.” I didn’t realize the Shenandoah’s importance until Jay Youmans – organizer of the Virginia Governor’s Cup wine competition – identified this AVA as being the place to watch. When those ‘in the know’ about Virginia wine make such statements, it’s smart to pay attention. Muse Vineyards Best Terroir In Virginia? “Terroir” describes the complete natural environment from which wines are produced – and the Shenandoah Valley’s terroir is outstanding. While the valley has historically been strongly associated with agriculture, wine growing didn’t take off here until 1976 when Jim and Emma Randel founded Shenandoah Vineyards, becoming one of the first wineries in Virginia post-Prohibition. The Randels likely realized a crucial fact; the Shenandoah is the driest area in Virginia. The valley is protected by the Blue Ridge on one side and the Alleghenies on the other, creating a rain shadow from both directions. This is particularly important in late summer when vineyards pray for warm, dry weather to facilitate ripening. The difference is noticeable; whereas the Shenandoah receives an average of 38 inches of rain per year, Leesburg, Richmond and Charlottesville receive anywhere from 42-45 inches. The…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Alexandria Cars & Coffee

By Bob Tagert On July 26th, I attended my first Alexandria Cars & Coffee event at TJ Stones restaurant. I was familiar with this event since I have a few friends who bring their antique/historic cars to these gatherings. This was the first one at TJ’s and it was well attended. Cars range from new Corvettes and Bentleys to muscle cars to autos of our youth. The group started meeting at the Hollin Hall shopping center on Fort Hunt Road in 2012. The group meets March-November at Hollin Hall shopping center on the 1st & 3rd Sunday mornings and at Sherwood Gourmet on Sherwood Hall Lane on the 2nd and 4th Saturday mornings. The group hopes to expand its base by appearing at TJ Stones, Shooter Mcgee’s and a few other restaurants in the future. It is a great place to meet some nice folks, enjoy these beautiful automobiles and enjoy brunch or lunch after or during the event. Some of these vehicles will also appear at the Speed & Style get together on King Street on September 6th. Another classic Old Town event!

View More