Year: 2021

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

The Legend of the Poinsettia

By OTC Staff The month of December is pretty slow in the garden but really bustling with the arrival of holiday plants the likes of the Poinsettia, Amaryllis and Paper Whites. Many of you give them as well as receive them as gifts and we all know that the Poinsettia is the most popular of the three for decorating during the Christmas season. We found the following very interesting and have published it in years past and thought you would enjoy it again as well.  The Legend of the Poinsettia   A charming story is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy. “I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes,” said Pedro consolingly. Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel. As she approached the altar, she remembered Pedro’s kind words: “Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Merry Christmas from the Blue Ridge!

By Julie Reardon Merry Christmas from the Blue Ridge! A friend who lives in the mountains shares this story every holiday season and it’s one of my favorites. I only recently found out the author’s name since various versions have been around for many years, variously titled A Christmas Prayer and The Rifle, and that it’s not actually a true story. The author was a sheep herder and wrote it one freezing night while pondering how to explain the true meaning of Christmas to his children. I think you will enjoy it as much as I do. A Christmas Story By Rian Anderson Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving. It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted so bad that year for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So, after supper was over, I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Take Photos Leave Footprints

Take Photos, Leave Footprints

By Scott Dicken Nepal: An Adventurer’s Playground! In April 2015, Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale, killed nearly 9,000 people, and left approximately US$10 Billion of damage in its wake – about a third of Nepal’s GDP! This, twinned with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, might lead you to ask, ‘is this the right time to visit Nepal’? My response is simple; as soon as COVID-19 conditions permit, the answer is a resounding YES! Nepal continues to be negatively affected by a slow recovery of its tourism market; and any visiting tourist is directly contributing to the country’s recovery with every dollar spent in restaurants, hotels, and with local tour operators. None of this is to suggest that this is a transaction solely benefitting the country’s recovery; it’s just a positive side-effect of visiting a country that’s steeped in history, culture, and religion, and can quench the thirst of even the most ardent adventure traveler. Below are five reasons to move Nepal to the top of your bucket list. History Nowhere is the cultural and religious history of Nepal more evident than in the Kathmandu Valley, which just so happens to be the gateway to a Nepalese adventure! You’ll likely want to divide your time equally between the Valley’s three main cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan; cities that are all within an hour of each other. Pretty much everything you touch in Kathmandu Valley is part of a World Heritage Site, so it isn’t just me alone opining its virtues; UNESCO seem to agree! With a vast array of temples, palaces, monuments, shrines and museums the Valley has it all, and can easily occupy the average tourist for a 4-day stay (and a history buff, much longer)! Scenery I think it’s fair…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Home for the Holidays 2021

By Bob Tagert Home for the Holidays 2021 Every month we write about fun and inviting destinations in the DMV. Some are close to Alexandria and some are states away, however, every December we stay home and write about our beautiful city. Recognized by Oprah Magazine as one of the most magical Christmas towns across the World in 2020 and by Southern Living as the perfect southern town for a Hallmark Christmas movie in 2019, Alexandria brings an old fashioned sense of holiday wonder to the area with centuries-old brick-lined streets, twinkling with holiday traditions that make visitors feel transported. Step back in time and enjoy Colonial Christmas programming at George Washington’s Mount Vernon or skate through Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run. Dozens of independent boutiques are going above and beyond to make their shops dazzle. Stroll among al fresco dining spots along 18th and 19th century streetscapes or pick up gourmet goodies to go. Under a canopy of sparkling lights, a stroll on historic King Street is like being in a real life Dickens Village, complete with a European flair. Recognized as a Top 3 Best Small Cities (up from #5 last year) in the U.S. 2021 for the fourth consecutive year by Conde. The Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as ‘the best of the best of travel.” More than 800,000 Conde Nast Traveler readers across the globe submitted responses rating the travel experiences across the globe that they long for most when they couldn’t travel and decided to visit first once they could. This year’s awards reflect the ways the world of travel has begun to welcome back guests and the travel professionals that have never…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publishers Notes

Publishers Notes By Bob Tagert This issue represents 34 years of bringing the stories “From the Bay to the Blue Ridge” to you readers. It all began here in Old Town Alexandria at the bar in Bullfeathers restaurant (now O,Connell’s). We shared our adventure with our friends at events like our annual Old Town Crier Cup sailboat races in Solomons, Maryland and our annual tent at the Virginia Gold Cup races in The Plains, Virginia. These were very good times that we all miss. Here’s looking to some new adventures next year. As the expression goes…We made one more trip around the sun, and what a year it has been. The pandemic of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our respective lives. Businesses suffered. We are still in recovery mode. I want to profoundly thank those advertisers who stayed the course with us as well as the ones who returned to support us when they got back on their feet. If it were not for those folks, I would not be writing this now, for there would be no Old Town Crier publication. Once again, thanks to our steadfast advertisers and wonderful readers. Couldn’t do it without either. Speaking of steadfast advertisers, congratulations to Union Street Public House on their 35th Anniversary! If you haven’t stopped in there lately, treat yourself this month! This issue is full of informative and entertaining content. I normally give you all a synopsis of what is inside but I am only allowed so many words for these notes…so keep turning those pages. We would also like to pass on a get well to our writer Julie Reardon who has been with us since almost the beginning. Her From the Blue Ridge column has been part of our success. She has a rough road in front of…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Keeping Your Pets off Santa’s Naughty List: Pet-proofing and Other Holiday Tips

By Kristen Bieling  Keeping Your Pets off Santa’s Naughty List: Pet-proofing and Other Holiday Tips Despite spending the last year jumping on the kitchen counter, scratching the sofa arms, chasing each other up and down the stairs at 3 a.m., and harassing the neighborhood birds, my cats are positive they’re on Santa’s nice list (and they aren’t wrong…). The holidays can be such a joyful and fulfilling time spent indulging with friends and family but can also be stressful when you have pets in your home. With the proper precautions though, you can keep your sanity and keep your pets off Santa’s naughty list. Munchies and Liquid Holiday Cheer. Just like we feebly attempt to watch our waistlines around the holidays, we should watch what our pets ingest too. Table scraps in general should be avoided, but especially any items containing chocolate or xylitol as those are especially toxic to animals. Other toxic or harmful items include onions, grapes/raisins, coffee/caffeine, unbaked bread dough/yeast, salt, raw eggs, and nuts. Also take special care to discard bones and produce seeds/pits. Turkey bones, for example, can splinter when ingested and wreak havoc on our pets’ internal systems. Additionally, the essential oils in peach pits and apple seeds can cause nervous system depression if a high quantity is ingested. Secure all trash away from pets to avoid any accidental harm. Although wine, beer, and other liquid holiday cheer flows freely at many holiday parties, pets should not partake even by accident. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), as little as 1 ounce (less than a standard, bar-sized shot) can kill a pet and PetMD indicates that, for cats, even a little over a tablespoon can kill an adult. Santa’s Helper Tip: If you’re hoping to treat your…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month

Pets of the Month – December 2021 Butter Who has the best smile, is a connoisseur of Fetch and doesn’t get bashful when you tell him he’s handsome?  It’s Butter!  This gorgeous 1-year-old never lets compliments go to his head because he can’t hear them.  Butter is deaf, but he doesn’t let that stop him from learning all kinds of new tricks or enjoying a quality cuddle with his friends.  Butter’s adoption fees have been pre-paid by Priority Automotive as part of the Home for the “Pawlidays” adoption event, so learn more about how to make this Butter’s best holiday ever at Logan Office assistant Logan at your service!  This sweet senior is far from retirement and has taken up a side gig helping his foster human keep their home office organized and efficient – at least according to cat standards!  Logan loves the company of his human friends almost as much as he loves tasty treats, and he can’t wait to find a home of his own to make himself comfortable with his new besties.  Logan’s adoption fees have already been paid, so email or call 703.746.4774 to find out how to meet him from his foster home today. Scissors Don’t be fooled by his stylish ride!  Scissors the guinea pig is a low-key, nonchalant fellow who’s just looking for the 3 Fs: friends, family and fruit (that’s his favorite snack). This 1-year-old is looking for a family to include him in all their activities, from movie night (he’s happy to share a blanket) to charades (he promises he won’t accidentally squeak the answer out loud).  Scissors’ adoption fees have already been paid as part of the Home for the Pawlidays adoption event, sponsored by Priority Automotive, so schedule time to meet him at

Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Shopping with the Ghosts of Holidays Past

By Lori Welch Brown Shopping with the Ghosts of Holidays Past Holidays make me melancholy.  Given that the holiday season now officially begins before the ghosts and goblins have left the building, the ache is encouraged to fester early and often.  Between Mariah Carey’s voice and the faux pine scent being pumped out, there are ample opportunities to be triggered.  Fa la la la BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. I’m no Grinch by any stretch, but some of us prefer a slow roll into the holiday season.  Some of us are awash in memories of sitting around the table with loved ones who are no longer here, raising glasses to ghosts.  Some of us are yearning for one last meal with our beloved Dad, would give a kidney to buy Mom one more bottle of her favorite perfume, or are mourning the end of a union. Please allow us time to dance with our ghosts a bit before launching Cupid and the Easter bunny at us. As we transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, my memories grow stronger and the grief gains momentum.  I find it harder and harder to stay grounded and present when my mind keeps transporting me back to the holiday of my youth. In our household, the beginning of the holiday season was marked by two events: Santa waving from his sleigh at the end of the Macy’s Day parade and the arrival of the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog delivered to our door.  Let’s just say the Welch’s didn’t kick off the holidays with peace and joy, but rather a fight between siblings to see who would get to ogle and drool all over its pages first.  That poor catalog would be dog-eared and Kool-Aid stained within hours of its arrival.  I’m sure our parents wished…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Celebrate Holidays at National Harbor

Celebrate Holidays at National Harbor 2 million lights over acres of entertainment National Harbor celebrates Holidays at the Harbor nightly with a 54-foot tall tree at the Belvedere event space (adjacent to Bond 45, 149 Waterfront St.) and spectacular light show every half hour from sunset to 9 p.m. A fireworks display will take place every Saturday through Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. The Christmas movie theme continues in the Waterfront District as National Harbor shows favorite Christmas movies on the outdoor, waterfront screen (150 National Plaza) starting at 2 p.m. on Sundays.  Movies are as follows: Dec. 5, The Year Without a Santa Claus* Dec. 12, Elf* Dec. 19, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation* Jan. 2, It’s a Wonderful Life *these movies are also part of Gaylord National’s I Love Christmas Movies experience. In addition to the dazzling MGM National Harbor conservatory, with its splendid holiday display, MGM will also present Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Dec. 16-19—a family holiday spectacular that will delight all ages. This annual tradition wraps a whimsical, Broadway-style musical infused with contemporary circus artistry. Young children will also enjoy Storytime on Saturdays at 2 p.m. on American Way when the Prince George’s County Library and Mahogany Books will take turns reading to children. Free holiday hot chocolate will be available at various retailers on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. through Jan. 2. Free cocoa mugs will be given out by select retailers with a purchase of $50 or more, while supplies last. Toys for Tots will collect new, unwrapped toys for those in need on American Way on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. As a thank you for a donation, The Capital Wheel will hand out one ticket per family (valid on Dec. 4 only.) In addition to great events and lots of holiday shopping options including 85…

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