Day: May 1, 2021

Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Get Out Your FitBall

From the Trainer By Ryan Unverzagt Get Out Your FitBall May is the perfect month to initiate an exercise program if you have slacked lately. The weather starts to cooperate better which favors more outdoor activities. Walking, bike riding, hiking, jogging, or even rollerblading are fun things to do this month. I encourage you to get outside but if not, I have a great exercise for your core. This one’s called the FitBall Crossover Crunch. I find it helpful to use a ball that is a size smaller than the one you normally would use. A 65cm ball is my usual size, however, I’m using a 55cm for this exercise because a smaller ball will keep you closer to the ground for stability. You need your opposite hand and foot touching the floor while performing this exercise. If a bigger ball is used, you might not be able to reach the ground and there’s a good chance you’ll fall off! To start, lay on top of the ball with it placed on your mid-to-low back. The ball should curve along the lumbar and lower thoracic vertebrae. Keep your opposite foot and hand in contact with the floor while the other leg is straight and parallel to the ground (figure 1). You should have your other elbow bent with the hand behind your head. Bring your elbow toward the opposite knee (from the straight leg) to “crossover” to the middle. Focus on contracting your abdominals to help bring your shoulder toward the center for a slight rotation (figure 2). During this movement, the ball should not roll. To finish, slowly release tension on the abs to bring your elbow and leg back to the start position. Finish 20 reps with the same side before you switch to the opposite arm/leg combo….

Continue Reading

Featured Post, Special Feature

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within By: Caroline Simpson Job Title: Mother. Requirements: must be willing to work overtime for no additional compensation. Necessary Skills: patience, fortitude, and super-human ability to multitask. Salary: none but must be able to provide monthly (at least) payments to clients. Travel: yes – lots. Benefits: bedtime and the one day a year that it is all about you! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  If I was in charge, I would recommend you for a promotion and a raise, your service over the years has been remarkable.  However, since I do not play the CEO role in this family, I will take this opportunity to honor you by giving you an inside look at my new plans for this holiday. In all seriousness, Mother’s Day is an important holiday.  Allow me to provide a bit of the history for you.  The tradition dates back as far as the Greek Empire and their Annual Spring Festival; various religions and spiritual groups dedicated a specific day in May to celebrate the Mother Mary, Mother Earth, the Mother of All Deities, etc.  England expanded this honor to not just religious mother figures, but to all mothers, and the United States made it the celebration it is today about 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, mother and homemaker, decided that there were days for men and days for children, but there just was not a single day devoted to mothers alone. Anna would be proud.  Today, Mother’s Day results in the highest volume of telephone traffic over any other day of the year, restaurants are more crowded on this second Sunday in May than any other holiday, and, of course, Hallmark card sales increase dramatically. Well, this Mother’s Day, I want to do more than just buy a card.  I know that nothing…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy

Compiled by Lani Gering Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City manufacturing artificial flowers. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was the first veteran organization to promote a nationally organized campaign for the annual distribution of poppies assembled by American disabled and needy veterans. In 1924, the VFW patented the name “Buddy Poppy” for their version of the artificial flower. Buddy Poppy proceeds represents no profit to any VFW unit. All the money contributed by the public for Buddy Poppies is used in the cause of veteran’s welfare, or for the well-being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans. Following the 1924 sale, the VFW believed it would stimulate local sales if the poppies they used were assembled by disabled veterans in hospitals within their own jurisdiction. The 1924 encampment of the VFW at Atlantic City granted this…

Continue Reading

Featured Post, Urban Garden

The Memorial Day Poppy

by Rita Jacinto The Memorial Day Poppy The inspiration for this column began at the local shopping mall. Yeah, I know it is a pretty bizarre place to get any kind of inspiration let alone gardening inspiration but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. You see sitting out front of one of the mega stores was a WWII veteran and what looked like his grandson. On the shaky card table were a bunch of red silk poppies and a can for donations. I always put some money in the can and get a poppy to wear. It’s a habit I picked up from my Dad when I was a little kid. He always bought a poppy and kept it in the visor of his truck. I didn’t know why he did this exactly except that it had something to do with the war. He was a veteran of WWII and since he is no longer around to buy his poppy I do it for him. That old vet sitting at his table a few weeks before Memorial Day got me wondering about the story of the red poppy. There are many kinds of poppies but the poppy mentioned in John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields”, was found growing in the fields of Flanders and often referred to as Flanders Poppy is actually Papaver rhoeas more commonly called Corn Poppy. This Mediterranean native is found growing in cultivated fields all over southern Europe. Its legend reaches back thousands of years. They have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back 3,000 years. There is a drawing of a poppy that was found in the Codex Vindobonensis which was put together for the Byzantine princess Anicia Juliana. The Codex is dated at over a thousand years. Homer mentions poppies in…

Continue Reading

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

St. John – Coming and Going…

Caribbean Connection By Billy Phibbs St. John – Coming and Going… Spring break is in full effect and the Virgin Islands is locked into a steady spin cycle of drink, rinse, repeat tourism. For every midday hangover that boards a departing flight back to Boring Town, U.S.A., there is a binge drinking arrival passing them on the tarmac, ready to imbibe lethal doses of rum and ruckus. Having one of the least difficult entry requirements of all travel destinations in the world, the Virgin Islands has seen a different crowd as of late. Many local and long time visitors have spoken out about this civil unrest and can only hope that this new “party phenomena” will dwindle in time but for now, it is the unfortunate result of low airfares and carelessly spent stimulus checks. Seasoned island veterans have developed a keen sense and methodology to help avoid these horde like creatures. A “tranquility checklist” of sorts has become a hot conversation topic for many locally dwelling friends and families as well as for visitors looking for time to relax and unwind. It reads much like a monster manual would to ensure safety: Go early before they awake Don’t stay out too late Stick to the lesser known beaches Don’t make eye contact The characteristics of this newly defined invasive species are distinct. They are easy to spot due to their bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Often times they travel in a large group of six or more and have items like Bluetooth speakers and have little knowledge of sidewalks or other socially acceptable behavior. Their garments will be sparse and language foul. Don’t let this passing nuisance ruin your trip. The real magical roots of St. John are still ever present and everywhere. The benefits of having to go…

Continue Reading

Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

The Chefs Behind Three of Virginia’s Popular Winery Restaurants

By Matthew Fitzsimmons The Chefs Behind Three of Virginia’s Popular Winery Restaurants Julia Child once said, “Wine is meant to be with food – that’s the point of it!” Nobody will argue that wine isn’t wonderful on its own. But if you really want to elevate your experience, it is crucial that you pair your wine with the right dish. A well designed pairing will either amplify shared flavor compounds to heighten their sensation, or create a contrast of different tastes. There’s a science behind this process. But it’s more than science; pairing wine and food is an art. Carlisle Bannister of Upper Shirley Vineyards, Daniel Zbiegien of The Farmhouse at Veritas, and Michael Clough of the Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville are among the masters of this art. While Virginia is famous for having around 300 wineries, only a handful provide a full dining experience. For those who wish to experiment with pairing Virginia wine and local dishes, these are the three wineries you should visit. Upper Shirley Vineyards Upper Shirley is located along the banks of the James River in a rural area around 30 minutes south-east of Richmond. While most wineries tend to be part of a wine trail, Upper Shirley breaks the model by providing an all-inclusive experience that keeps patrons from needing to go anywhere else. Executive Chef (and partner) Carlisle Bannister explained, “In order to really capture our market, we thought that having a restaurant would really showcase what we can do culinary. We have beautiful views, award winning wine, all in one place to capture the full experience.” As for his favorite pairings, “My palate has become seasonal. In the wintertime, I love using our rich and tannic tannat and Zachariah red-blend. Pairing those with anything hardy in the winter is super fun and is…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter By Miriam R. Kramer Calls for racial justice fired up the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of his Black suspect, George Floyd, murdering him by ignoring his pleas for air as Floyd gasped for nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020. A Black teenager named Darnella Frazier filmed Chauvin as he calmly tortured Floyd to death in front of bystanders. To many this incident represented an innate racism in the way police as authoritarian figures can presume that Black people are guilty and treat them as subhuman individuals with no fear that they themselves will be brought to justice. African Americans have encountered this ingrained racism forever, but video cameras are now bringing to life extreme police practices for all to see. When a jury convicted Derek Chauvin of murder on April 20, 2021, it was a rare moment of accountability for the police in the face of the systemic prejudice that exists in many police departments. To understand some of the history that has perpetuated this violence, please peruse the column I published in September 2019 on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Nickel Boys. His brief, brilliant book is worth reading to understand better how authority figures like Derek Chauvin have abused their power. We still have much history to overcome in America to achieve racial parity. Yet with this watershed moment of Derek Chauvin’s accountability, we are perhaps a step closer to implementing real reform, the reform of police departments and other institutions that perpetuate racial violence. The Nickel Boys Two years ago Whitehead authored The Underground Railroad, a retelling of history in which the passage north for African-American slaves was a real railroad. In plumbing our racial history, he created a…

Continue Reading

Personality Profile

Michael Kuegler – He has the right touch!

By Bob Tagert Michael Kuegler – He has the right touch! For over 33 years we have written personality profiles about people we have met, read about or heard about. This is the first time I have gone into a situation that I was fearing and I had already tagged the person who was going to help me recover from knee surgery as the “deliverer of pain”. On March 16th, I had my much anticipated knee replacement and was ready for all of the rehab that was necessary. That was before I talked with my friend in Colorado who had the procedure a month before mine. From him, and all those who had been on this path before, I was in for incredible pain as the flexibility was restored to my knee. “No pain, no gain,” said one. “They are gonna kick your ass,” another explained. “It is going from 90 degrees to 120 degrees that it really hurts,” chimed in another. (I am currently at 90 degrees). As I was doing my rehab and staying at a friend’s house in Calvert County Maryland I chose Bayside Physical Therapy in Prince Frederick to get me back to walking again. On my surgeon’s recommendation, I chose this facility because I was told that she thought that the therapist was a former rugby player like myself. If you are going to be dealing with pain, choose a level playing field. On my first appointment I met Michael Kuegler, my physical therapist. Standing about six foot four and weighing about 245 fit pounds I asked him if he played second row (a rugby position). He replied, “No, I played lacrosse.” There went my sympathy card. I knew nothing about lacrosse and he knew nothing about rugby. Though we don’t have rugby in common,…

Continue Reading

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

All Is Quiet On the Harbor Front

By Lani Gering All Is Quiet On the Harbor Front I have been at a bit of a disadvantage in resourcing the subject matter for this month’s Harbor Section since I have spent the bulk of the last 6 weeks in Southern Maryland helping the Publisher with his knee replacement rehab. Sure, I’ve commuted a few times up to civilization to check on things on the home front but didn’t have an opportunity to spend any time in my old stomping grounds in the Harbor. That being said, I had to rely on the Harbor’s marketing people and their PR firm for input. At the time of this writing, plans are being made for a big splash over the Memorial Day Weekend but nothing has been set in stone so…..your best bet is to keep checking with the harbor website ( and their Facebook page for updates on the scheduled events. In the meantime, you may want to take advantage of the good weather and smaller crowds during the month and check out the tribute to the military statues at the foot of American Way. This is a very popular photo op place in the Harbor and it will be packed with people waiting their turn during Memorial Day weekend. I do know that the MawMaw Miller’s Kettle Corn tent will be set up in the Harbor for the season on May 1st! They will have their full range of kettle corn flavors and fresh lemonade shakers ready and waiting for you to pick up. The popcorn is made fresh as is the lemonade so it really is a treat. Be sure to try my favorite flavor – and the favorite of many others – “Sweet and Salty”!  MawMaw’s is part of the infamous Miller Farm’s Market. This area destination…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Events

May 2021 Alexandria Events

Through June 21st Taste of Old Town NorthVarious locations throughout Old Town North703-836-8066 Admission: $10 for a Enjoy a two-month stroll through the neighborhood with this year’s reimagined Taste of Old Town North.  Passport holders will be able to use their Passport to receive discounts at small businesses throughout Old Town North: The Arts and Cultural District, Parker-Gray and Braddock Road West. Passports may only be used once at each participating business; if 75% of a Passport has been used by June 21, the Passport holder will be entered into a drawing to receive prizes. Passports may be purchased online at or at the Community Table at the Old Town North Thursday Farmer’s Market. Proceeds will support the work of the Old Town North Community Partnership and 1st & 2nd Revolutionary War Weekend 9 am – 5 pm George Washington’s Mount Vernon 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway 703-780-2000 Mount Vernon’s serene 12-acre field transforms into a battleground as hundreds of Continentals, Redcoats, and Hessians conduct military drills, perform cavalry demonstrations, and engage in 18th-century battle reenactments. Meet the soldiers who are encamped at Mount Vernon, discuss military techniques, and greet General Washington. Revolutionary War Weekend takes place rain or shine. Limited number of tickets available at 29th 43rd Alexandria Jazz Festival 4 pm – 9 pm Oronoco Bay Park 100 Madison Street Old Town Alexandria The City of Alexandria launches into Memorial Day Weekend with an evening of world-class jazz by the waterfront. Critically acclaimed artists Joel Ross ‘Good Vibes,’ Eric Byrd Trio, VERONNEAU, and Cubano Groove perform bossa nova, contemporary, straight and Latin jazz into the evening. The all-ages concert is free. Due to Emergency Public Health Guidelines, attendance will be limited and seating will be assigned. Pre-registration is required, and parties are limited to four people or fewer. Masks…

Continue Reading

View More